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Encyclopedia > Early Hinduism

Early Hinduism is a term used to designate the religious development of India before the historical period. Two kinds of evidence are available: literary and archeological.


Literary Evidence

The earliest literature of Hinduism is made up of the Vedas. Many Hindus believe that the Vedas were transmitted, via an oral tradition, for perhaps 8000 years (Fisher). Many Western and other Indian commentators see this as an exaggeration, dating the earliest part of the Veda, the Rig-Veda Samhita, to around 1800-1500 BCE. In any case, it is acknowledged by most that the Vedas did indeed have a long oral tradition and were passed on from teacher to disciple for at least many centuries before first being written down, which has led to some estimates that the earliest parts of the Vedas' may date back to 2500 - 2000 BCE. The Vedas are part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures form part of the core of the Brahminical and Vedic traditions within Hinduism and are the inspirational, metaphysical and mythological foundation for later Vedanta, Yoga, Tantra and even Bhakti forms of Hinduism. ... Oral history is an account of something passed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. ... A year is the time between two recurrences of an event related to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. ... Mary Pat Fisher is the director for international correspondence at the Gobind Sadan Institute of New Delhi. ... For this articles equivalent regarding the East, see Eastern culture Western Culture refers to the culture that has developed in the Western world. ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ...


The earliest stage of the Vedas is the Rig-Veda, a collection of poetic hymns used in the sacrificial rites of the Aryan priests. Most of the Rig-Veda concerns the offering of Soma - which is both an intoxicant and a god itself - to the gods. The Vedas are part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures form part of the core of the Brahminical and Vedic traditions within Hinduism and are the inspirational, metaphysical and mythological foundation for later Vedanta, Yoga, Tantra and even Bhakti forms of Hinduism. ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ... Aryan is an English word derived from the Vedic Sanskrit and Avestan term arya, meaning noble or lord. In the 19th century, the term was often used to refer to what we now call the Proto-Indo-Europeans. ... See Soma (disambiguation) for other uses. ...


The gods in the Rig-Veda are mostly personified concepts, who fall into two categories:

  • The devas: gods of nature, such as the weather deity Indra, Agni ("fire"), and Ushas ("dawn").
  • The asuras: gods of moral concepts, such as Mitra ("contract" or "friend"), Bhaga (guardian of marriage) and Varuna ("the coverer").

A rivalry between these two families is already apparent. Asura will come to mean something like "demon" in later Hinduism, and it is already associated with mischief if not actual malice in the Rig-Veda. Compare this with Iranian Aryan religion, where ahura (asura) came to mean "god" and daewa (deva) came to mean "evil demon". Alternate meanings: see Deva (disambiguation) Deva (Hungarian: Déva, German: Diemrich) is a Romanian city situated on the left bank of the middle course of the Mureş river. ... Indra (इन्द्र), god of weather and war, and Lord of Heaven or Swargaloka, was the supreme deva of Hinduism during the early Vedic period. ... The word Agni can have these meanings:- A fire-god in some Indian religions: described below. ... Ushas (उषः úṣas-), Sanskrit for dawn, is the chief goddess (sometimes imagined as several goddesses, Dawns) exalted in the Rigveda. ... In Hindu mythology, the Asura are a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes misleadingly referred to as demons. ... Mitra is an important deity of Persian and Indic culture; he appears in the Vedas as one of the Adityas, a solar deity and the god of honesty, friendship, and contracts. ... In Hinduism, Bhaga is an ancient god of wealth and marriage, and one of the Adityas. ... This article is about the god. ... Aryan is an English word derived from the Vedic Sanskrit and Avestan term arya, meaning noble or lord. In the 19th century, the term was often used to refer to what we now call the Proto-Indo-Europeans. ... In the Zoroastrian faith, Ahura Mazda is abstract and transcendent. ... Alternate meanings: see Deva (disambiguation) Deva (Hungarian: Déva, German: Diemrich) is a Romanian city situated on the left bank of the middle course of the Mureş river. ...


The emerging deprecation of the asuras led to the creation of new categories of gods, such as the adityas. In Hindu mythology, the Asura are a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes misleadingly referred to as demons. ... In Hinduism, the Adityas are a group of solar deities, sons of Aditi and Kasyapa. ...


Indra is the king of the gods in the Rig-Veda, although some of the hymns (perhaps representing an older stage) have Varuna as the chief. Indra (इन्द्र), god of weather and war, and Lord of Heaven or Swargaloka, was the supreme deva of Hinduism during the early Vedic period. ... This article is about the god. ...


Archeological Evidence

Early Hinduism comprises a period that is hazy in the eyes of archeologists. The Vedic Aryans, although they left a rich body of hymns, left little material culture behind. This article is about the term Aryan. For Arian, a follower of the ancient Christian sect, See Arianism. ...


The excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization, also referred to as the Sindhu-Sarasvat tradition, have not yielded much evidence of communal temples. However, there is sufficient evidence that the civilization was certainly not purely secular. Only one Indus civilisation graveyard has been found and excavated, and has yielded no elaborate royal burials, but the personal possessions buried with the bodies may indicate that these people believed in an afterlife in which they would need these things. The Indus Valley Civilization existed along the Indus River in present-day Pakistan. ...


Water seems to have played an important part in their social, and possibly their religious, life, judging by the large number of public baths that were constructed. The modern Hindu custom of bathing at the beginning of the day and before the main meals may well have started here.


Many figurines of female deities have been discovered. These most probably signified creativity and the origin and continuity of life, and they may have been worshipped as symbolic embodiments of the female principle of creative Energy and Power. In modern Hinduism, the counterpart of these symbols is called Shakti. These "mother Goddess" figurines may have been worshipped in the home rather than in any major state cult, but reputed scholars have seen ancient Dravidian feminine divinity sculptures in groups of seven that date back to the Harappan era which mirror the Hindu belief in a Mother Goddess (Devi) being represented in seven modes. This article is about the Hindu religious concept. ...


Figures of a male deity with elaborate horns (or horned headgear) have also been uncovered. He is typically seen surrounded by cattle and is called Pashupati, (the Protector of Animals), and is acknowledged to be the prototype of Hinduism's ascetic God of Destruction, Shiva. Indeed, the modern-day Shiva has absorbed the names, stories and attributes of not only the non-Aryan Pashupati, by which name he is still commonly known, but also the Vedic 'Rudra.' Pashupati is seen sitting in the meditative posture of yogis, suggesting that yoga or inner contemplation was one of their modes of discovering the secrets of life and creation. To this day, the Tantric schools of Hinduism know Shiva to be Yogeshwara, Lord of Yoga, and he is said to be the master of Self-knowledge, meditating for centuries at a time. For the Jewish ritual of mourning, see Shivah. ... In Hinduism, Rudra (howler) is a storm, the hunt, death, wild nature and a wind god. ... Hatha Yoga posture Yoga is a form of mysticism that developed on the Indian subcontinent in the Hindu cultural context. ... Tantric can refer to: Tantric yoga, also known as tantra The Louisville, KY hard rock band Tantric This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


It is noted by many that the Pashupati figure is similar to sculptures, paintings and bas-reliefs of horned gods in Europe, stretching as far back as the Paleolithic painting of the "sorcerer" in the cave of Les Trois Frères in France. There exist, in addition, three-headed Pashupati-statues that seem to resemble the Trimurti (Triple Form) of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva (Generator-Sustainer-Destroyer) in contemporary Hinduism, and if nothing else, intimate the continuity of religious traditions that have morphed into Hinduism as we know it today from periods as far back as five thousand years ago. In Hinduism, the Trimurti (also called the Hindu trinity) are three aspects of God in His forms as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. ...

Topics in Hinduism
Shruti (primary Scriptures): Vedas | Upanishads | Bhagavad Gita | Itihasa (Ramayana & Mahabharata) | Agamas
Smriti (other texts): Tantras | Sutras | Puranas | Brahma Sutras | Hatha Yoga Pradipika | Smritis | Tirukural | Yoga Sutra
Concepts: Avatar | Brahman | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-Deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya
Schools & Systems: Schools of Hinduism | Early Hinduism | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti
Traditional Practices: Jyotish | Ayurveda
Rituals: Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Diksha | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Yajna
Gurus and Saints: Shankara | Ramanuja | Madhvacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Sree Narayana Guru | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami | Swaminarayan
Denominations: List of Hindu Sects
Vaishnavism | Saivism | Shaktism | Smartism | Agama Hindu Dharma | Contemporary Hindu movements | Survey of Hindu organisations

  Results from FactBites:
 
Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (5967 words)
Hinduism (हिन्दू धर्म; also known as Sanātana Dharma - सनातन धर्म, and Vaidika-Dharma - वैदिक धर्म) is a worldwide religious tradition that is based on the Veda and is the direct descendent of the Vedic Indo-Iranian religion.
The Uttara ("later") Mimamsa school is perhaps one of the cornerstone movements of Hinduism and certainly was responsible for a new wave of philosophical and meditative enquiry, renewal and revival of Hinduism, and established strong philosophical foundation.
Hindus stress meditation to acquire knowledge beyond the mind and body, a trait that is often associated with the ascetic god Shiva.
Hinduism. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05 (1043 words)
The first phase of Hinduism was early Brahmanism, the religion of the priests or Brahmans who performed the Vedic sacrifice, through the power of which proper relation with the gods and the cosmos is established.
Post-Vedic Hinduism in all its forms accepts the doctrine of karma, according to which the individual reaps the results of his good and bad actions through a series of lifetimes (see transmigration of souls).
Modern Hindu leaders such as Swami Vivekananda, Mohandas Gandhi, and Aurobindo Ghose, have given voice to a movement away from the traditional ideal of world-renunciation and asceticism and have asserted the necessity of uniting spiritual life with social concerns.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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