Introduction

Hinduism (Sanskrit Hindū Dharma, also known as Sanātana Dharma, and Vaidika Dharma) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas, and among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today.

The term, "Hinduism," is heterogeneous, as Hinduism consists of several schools of thought. It encompasses many religious rituals that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse sects and philosophies. Most Hindus believe in a Supreme Cosmic Spirit, which may be understood in abstract terms as Brahman or which may be worshipped in personal forms such as Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti. The religion is classified by many different forms of theism such as monotheism, monism, pantheism, polytheism and even atheism.

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with approximately 970 million adherents, (2006), approximately 900 million of whom are in India.

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