1) What is Hinduism?
2) General Features of Hinduism: Veda and dharma, ritual and salvation (moksa), one and many
● Short Film: Puja:Expressions of Hindu Devotion
3) The historical development of Hinduism
4) The Pre-VedicAge: The Indus Valley Civilization
5) The Vedic Period
6) The Veda
Hinduism is the complex relationship with various belief systems.
-One view of Hinduism:
-One God or many Gods?
The roots of Hinduism are all the way back into the Indus-Valley civilization.
● In wide circulation since the 19th century through the writings of Western orientalists and
Hindu reformers. Therefore reading “Hinduism” into the past is problematic.
What it is not:
● It has no single historical founder.
● No unified system of beliefs.
● No single doctrine of salvation.
● No centralized authority or bureaucratic structure.
There are prototypical forms of Hindu practice and belief, and others are less so. Fuzzy
There are aspects that seem important to most of these sects but in the peripheries of this map the
practices would become less central to Hinduism.
There are two aspects: the scholar’s understandings and the Hindu self-understanding who
believe they are Hindu.
Hinduism: the “river model”
Many streams joining together to form a great river
● In pre-Islamic India, there were a number of distinct sects and regional religious
● No notion of “Hinduism” as a comprehensive entity. The main streams/ traditions:
● The brahmanical traditions around Siva, Visnu, and Devi (developed in the first
● Smarta traditions around Siva, Visnu, Devi, Surya belief in secondary revelation in the
● Vedanta tradition explores questions of existence and knowledge; penetrated Vaisnava
thought. Became the philosophical basis of the Hindu renaissance in the 19th century.
● The renouncer traditions (developed during the first millenium BCE) developed in
opposition to brahmanical, vedic orthopraxy.
● Regional/popular traditions centered around local deities that are venerated in bounded
Siva, Visnu and Devi are the most popular Hindu worship traditions.
Oral → generation → priests → Brahmins focused their lives on learning the scriptural texts