Uncategorized

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners Lee arriving at the Guildhall to receive the Honorary Freedom of the City of London
Born
Timothy John Berners-Lee

8 June 1955 (age 64)

Other names TimBL
TBL
Education Queen’s College, Oxford (BA)
Spouse(s)
Nancy Carlson
(m. 1990; div. 2011)
Rosemary Leith (m. 2014)
Children 2
Parent(s) Conway Berners-Lee
Mary Lee Woods
Awards Turing Award (2016)
Queen Elizabeth Prize (2013)
Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (2009)
Order of Merit (2007)
ACM Software System Award (1995)
Scientific career
Institutions CERN
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
World Wide Web Consortium
University of Oxford
University of Southampton
Website Official website

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS (born 8 June 1955),[1] also known as TimBL, is an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He is a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford[2] and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).[3][4] Berners-Lee proposed an information management system, on 12 March 1989,[5][6] then implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet, in mid-November of the same year.[7][8][9][10][11]

Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the continued development of the Web. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com founders chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).[12] He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI),[13] and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.[14][15] In 2011, he was named as a member of the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation.[16] He is a founder and president of the Open Data Institute, and is currently an advisor at social network MeWe.[17]

In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work.[18][19] In April 2009, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences.[20][21] Named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Berners-Lee has received a number of other accolades for his invention.[22] He was honoured as the “Inventor of the World Wide Web” during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared in person, working with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium.[23] He tweeted “This is for everyone”,[24] which instantly was spelled out in liquid-crystal display (LCD) lights attached to the chairs of the 80,000 people in the audience.[23] Berners-Lee received the 2016 Turing Award “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale”.[25]

Early life and education

Berners-Lee was born on 8 June 1955 in London, England,[26] the eldest of the four children of Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee; his brother Mike is an expert on greenhouse gases. His parents were computer scientists who worked on the first commercially built computer, the Ferranti Mark 1. He attended Sheen Mount Primary School, and then went on to attend south west London’s Emanuel School from 1969 to 1973, at the time a direct grant grammar school, which became an independent school in 1975.[1][18] A keen trainspotter as a child, he learnt about electronics from tinkering with a model railway.[27] He studied at The Queen’s College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1976, where he received a first-class bachelor of arts degree in physics.[1][26] While at university, Berners-Lee made a computer out of an old television set, which he bought from a repair shop.[28]

Career and research

Berners-Lee, 2005

After graduation, Berners-Lee worked as an engineer at the telecommunications company Plessey in Poole, Dorset.[26] In 1978, he joined D. G. Nash in Ferndown, Dorset, where he helped create type-setting software for printers.[26]

Berners-Lee worked as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980. While in Geneva, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers.[29] To demonstrate it, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE.[30]

After leaving CERN in late 1980, he went to work at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, Dorset.[31] He ran the company’s technical side for three years.[32] The project he worked on was a “real-time remote procedure call” which gave him experience in computer networking.[31] In 1984, he returned to CERN as a fellow.[30]

In 1989, CERN was the largest internet node in Europe, and Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the internet:

I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta-da!—the World Wide Web[33] … Creating the web was really an act of desperation, because the situation without it was very difficult when I was working at CERN later. Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the internet, multifont text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together. It was a step of generalising, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being possibly part of a larger imaginary documentation system.[34]

This NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world’s first web server

Berners-Lee wrote his proposal in March 1989 and, in 1990, redistributed it. It then was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall, who called his proposals ‘vague, but exciting’.[35] He used similar ideas to those underlying the ENQUIRE system to create the World Wide Web, for which he designed and built the first Web browser. His software also functioned as an editor (called WorldWideWeb, running on the NeXTSTEP operating system), and the first Web server, CERN HTTPd (short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol daemon).

Mike Sendall buys a NeXT cube for evaluation, and gives it to Tim [Berners-Lee]. Tim’s prototype implementation on NeXTStep is made in the space of a few months, thanks to the qualities of the NeXTStep software development system. This prototype offers WYSIWYG browsing/authoring! Current Web browsers used in ‘surfing the internet’ are mere passive windows, depriving the user of the possibility to contribute. During some sessions in the CERN cafeteria, Tim and I try to find a catching name for the system. I was determined that the name should not yet again be taken from Greek mythology….. Tim proposes ‘World-Wide Web’. I like this very much, except that it is difficult to pronounce in French… by Robert Cailliau, 2 November 1995.[36]

The first website was built at CERN. Despite this being an international organisation hosted by Switzerland, the office that Berners-Lee used was just across the border in France.[37] The website was put online on 6 August 1991 for the first time:[28]

info.cern.ch was the address of the world’s first-ever website and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN. The first webpage address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, which centred on information regarding the WWW project. Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information. There are no screenshots of this original page and, in any case, changes were made daily to the information available on the page as the WWW project developed. You may find a later copy (1992) on the World Wide Web Consortium website.[38]

It provided an explanation of what the World Wide Web was, and how people could use a browser and set up a web server, as well as how to get started with your own website.[39][40][41][42][28] In a list of 80 cultural moments that shaped the world, chosen by a panel of 25 eminent scientists, academics, writers, and world leaders, the invention of the World Wide Web was ranked number one, with the entry stating, “The fastest growing communications medium of all time, the internet has changed the shape of modern life forever. We can connect with each other instantly, all over the world”.[43]

In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the W3C at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It comprised various companies that were willing to create standards and recommendations to improve the quality of the Web. Berners-Lee made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due. The World Wide Web Consortium decided that its standards should be based on royalty-free technology, so that they easily could be adopted by anyone.[44]

In 2001, Berners-Lee became a patron of the East Dorset Heritage Trust, having previously lived in Colehill in WimborneEast Dorset.[45] In December 2004, he accepted a chair in computer science at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Hampshire, to work on the Semantic Web.[46][47]

In a Times article in October 2009, Berners-Lee admitted that the initial pair of slashes (“//”) in a web address were “unnecessary”. He told the newspaper that he easily could have designed web addresses without the slashes. “There you go, it seemed like a good idea at the time”, he said in his lighthearted apology.[48]

Policy work

Tim Berners-Lee at the Home Office, London, on 11 March 2010

In June 2009, then-British prime minister Gordon Brown announced that Berners-Lee would work with the UK government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force.[49] Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt are the two key figures behind data.gov.uk, a UK government project to open up almost all data acquired for official purposes for free re-use. Commenting on the opening up of Ordnance Survey data in April 2010, Berners-Lee said that: “The changes signal a wider cultural change in government based on an assumption that information should be in the public domain unless there is a good reason not to—not the other way around.” He went on to say: “Greater openness, accountability and transparency in Government will give people greater choice and make it easier for individuals to get more directly involved in issues that matter to them.”[50]

Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation

In November 2009, Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF) in order to campaign to “advance the Web to empower humanity by launching transformative programs that build local capacity to leverage the Web as a medium for positive change.”[51]

Berners-Lee is one of the pioneer voices in favour of net neutrality,[52] and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply “connectivity with no strings attached”, and should neither control nor monitor the browsing activities of customers without their expressed consent.[53][54] He advocates the idea that net neutrality is a kind of human network right: “Threats to the internet, such as companies or governments that interfere with or snoop on internet traffic, compromise basic human network rights.”[55] Berners-Lee participated in an open letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He and 20 other Internet pioneers urged the FCC to cancel a vote on 14 December 2017 to uphold net neutrality. The letter was addressed to Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Brian Schatz, Representative Marsha Blackburn and Representative Michael F. Doyle.[56]

Berners-Lee’s tweet, “This is for everyone”,[24] at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London

Berners-Lee joined the board of advisors of start-up State.com, based in London.[57] As of May 2012, Berners-Lee is president of the Open Data Institute,[58] which he co-founded with Nigel Shadbolt in 2012.

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) was launched in October 2013 and Berners-Lee is leading the coalition of public and private organisations that includes GoogleFacebookIntel, and Microsoft. The A4AI seeks to make internet access more affordable so that access is broadened in the developing world, where only 31% of people are online. Berners-Lee will work with those aiming to decrease internet access prices so that they fall below the UN Broadband Commission‘s worldwide target of 5% of monthly income.[59]

Berners-Lee holds the founders chair in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he heads the Decentralized Information Group and is leading Solid, a joint project with the Qatar Computing Research Institute that aims to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy.[60] In October 2016, he joined the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University as a professorial research fellow[61] and as a fellow of Christ Church, one of the Oxford colleges.[62]

Tim Berners-Lee at the Science Museum for the Web@30 event, March 2019

From the mid 2010s Berners-Lee initially remained neutral on the emerging Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal for with its controversial controversial Digital Rights Management (DRM) implications.[63] In March 2017 he felt he had to take a position which was to support the EME proposal.[63] He reasoned EME’s virtues whilst noting DRM was inevitable.[63] As W3C director he went on to approve the finalised specification in July 2017.[64][63] His stance was opposed by some including Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the anti-DRM campaign Defective by Design and the Free software foundation.[64] Varied concerns raised included being not supportive of the internet’s open philosophy against commercial interests and risks of users being forced to use a particular web browser to view specific DRM content.[63] The EFF raised a formal appeal which did not succeed and the EME specification became a formal W3C recommendation in September 2017.[65]

On 30 September 2018, Berners-Lee announced a new application made by open-source startup Inrupt based on the Solid standards, which aims to give users more control over their personal data and lets users choose where the data goes, who’s allowed to see certain elements and which apps are allowed to see that data.[66]

In November 2019 at the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin Berners-Lee and the WWWF launched Contract for the Web, a campaign initiative to persuade governments, companies and citizens to commit to nine principles to stop “misuse” with the warning ” “If we don’t act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering” (its potential for good).[67]

Awards and honours

“He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee’s alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free.”

—Tim Berners-Lee’s entry in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, March 1999.[22]

Berners-Lee has received many awards and honours. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2004 New Year Honours “for services to the global development of the internet”, and was invested formally on 16 July 2004.[18][19]

On 13 June 2007, he was appointed to the Order of Merit (OM), an order restricted to 24 (living) members.[68] Bestowing membership of the Order of Merit is within the personal purview of the Queen, and does not require recommendation by ministers or the Prime Minister. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2001.[69] He has been conferred honorary degrees from a number of Universities around the world, including Manchester (his parents worked on the Manchester Mark 1 in the 1940s), Harvard and Yale.[70][71][72]

In 2012, Berners-Lee was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires to mark his 80th birthday.[73][74]

In 2013, he was awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.[75] On 4 April 2017, he received the 2016 ACM Turing Award “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale”.[25]

Personal life

Berners-Lee married Nancy Carlson, an American computer programmer, in 1990; she was also working in Switzerland, at the World Health Organization.[76] They had two children and divorced in 2011. In 2014 he married Rosemary Leith at the Chapel RoyalSt. James’s Palace in London.[77] Leith is a Canadian internet and banking entrepreneur, and a founding director of Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation.[78] The couple also collaborate on venture capital to support artificial intelligence companies.[79]

Berners-Lee was raised as an Anglican, but in his youth, he turned away from religion. After he became a parent, he became a Unitarian Universalist (UU).[80] He has stated: “Like many people, I had a religious upbringing which I rejected as a teenager … Like many people, I came back to religion when we had children”.[81] He and his wife wanted to teach spirituality to their children, and after hearing a Unitarian minister and visiting the UU Church, they opted for it.[82] He is an active member of that church,[83] to which he adheres because he perceives it as a tolerant and liberal belief. He has said: “I believe that much of the philosophy of life associated with many religions is much more sound than the dogma which comes along with it. So I do respect them.”[81] When asked whether he believes in god, he stated: “Not in the sense of most people, I’m atheist and Unitarian Universalist”.[84
]

Uncategorized

World war

World war

world war is “a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world”.[1] While a variety of global conflicts have been subjectively deemed “world wars”, such as the Cold War and the War on Terror, the term is widely and usually accepted only as it is retrospectively applied to two major international conflicts that occurred during the 20th century: World War I (1914–18) and World War II (1939–45).

 

Origin of the term

The Oxford English Dictionary cited the first known usage in the English language to a Scottish newspaper, The People’s Journal, in 1848: “A war among the great powers is now necessarily a world-war.” The term “world war” is used by Karl Marx and his associate, Friedrich Engels,[2] in a series of articles published around 1850 called The Class Struggles in FranceRasmus B. Anderson in 1889 described an episode in Teutonic mythology as a “world war” (Swedish: världskrig), justifying this description by a line in an Old Norse epic poem, “Völuspá: folcvig fyrst i heimi” (“The first great war in the world”.)[3] German writer August Wilhelm Otto Niemann had used the term “world war” in the title of his anti-British novel, Der Weltkrieg: Deutsche Träume (The World War: German Dreams) in 1904, published in English as The Coming Conquest of England.

In English, the term “First World War” had been used by Charles à Court Repington, as a title for his memoirs (published in 1920); he had noted his discussion on the matter with a Major Johnstone of Harvard University in his diary entry of September 10, 1918.[4]

The term “World War I” was coined by Time magazine on page 28b of its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, on page 32, the term “World War II” was first used speculatively to describe the upcoming war. The first use for the actual war came in its issue of September 11, 1939.[5] One week earlier, on September 4, the day after France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad used the term on its front page, saying “The Second World War broke out yesterday at 11 a.m.”[6]

Speculative fiction authors had been noting the concept of a Second World War in 1919 and 1920, when Milo Hastings wrote his dystopian novel, City of Endless Night.

Other languages have also adopted the “world war” terminology, for example; in French: “world war” is translated as guerre mondiale, in GermanWeltkrieg (which, prior to the war, had been used in the more abstract meaning of a global conflict), in Italianguerra mondiale, in Spanish and Portugueseguerra mundial, in Danish and Norwegianverdenskrig, and in Russianмировая война (mirovaya voyna.)

First World War

World War I occurred from 1914 to 1919. In terms of human technological history, the scale of World War I was enabled by the technological advances of the second industrial revolution and the resulting globalization that allowed global power projection and mass production of military hardware. It had been recognized that the complex system of opposing military alliances (the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires against the BritishRussian, and French Empires) was likely to lead to a worldwide conflict if a war broke out. Due to this fact, a very minute conflict between two countries had the potential to set off a domino effect of alliances, triggering a world war. The fact that the powers involved had large overseas empires virtually guaranteed that such a war would be worldwide, as the colonies’ resources would be a crucial strategic factor. The same strategic considerations also ensured that the combatants would strike at each other’s colonies, thus spreading the wars far more widely than those of pre-Columbian times.

War crimes were perpetrated in World War I. Chemical weapons were used in the First World War despite the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 having outlawed the use of such weapons in warfare. The Ottoman Empire was responsible for the Armenian genocide—the murder of more than 1,000,000 Armenians during the First World War—and the other late Ottoman genocides.

Second World War

The Second World War occurred from 1939 to 1945 and is the only conflict in which nuclear weapons have been used. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, were devastated by atomic bombs dropped by the United States. Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, was responsible for genocides, most notably the Holocaust, the killing of 6,000,000 Jews and 11,000,000 others persecuted by the Nazis. The United States, the Soviet Union, and Canada deported and interned minority groups within their own borders, and largely because of the conflict, many ethnic Germans were later expelled from Eastern Europe. Japan was responsible for attacking neutral nations without a declaration of war, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is also known for its brutal treatment and killing of Allied prisoners of war and the inhabitants of Asia. It also used Asians as forced laborers and was responsible for the Nanking massacre where 250,000 civilians in the city were brutally murdered by Japanese troops. Non-combatants suffered at least as badly as or worse than combatants, and the distinction between combatants and non-combatants was often blurred by belligerents of total war in both conflicts.[7]

The outcome of World War II had a profound effect on the course of world history. The old European empires either collapsed or were dismantled as a direct result of the wars’ crushing costs and, in some cases, their fall was due to the defeat of imperial powers. The United States became firmly established as the dominant global superpower, along with its ideological foe, the Soviet Union, in close competition. The two superpowers exerted political influence over most of the world’s nation-states for decades after the end of the Second World War. The modern international security, economic, and diplomatic system was created in the aftermath of the wars.[8]

Institutions such as the United Nations were established to collectivize international affairs, with the explicit goal of preventing another outbreak of general war. The wars had also greatly changed the course of daily life. Technologies developed during wartime had a profound effect on peacetime life as well, such as by advances in jet aircraftpenicillinnuclear energy, and electronic computers.[9]

Third World War

Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, there has been a widespread and prolonged fear of a potential Third World War between nuclear-armed powers. The Third World War is generally considered a successor to the Second World War[10] and is often suggested to become a nuclear war at some point during the course of said Third World War, devastating in nature and likely much more violent than both the First and Second World Wars; in 1947, Albert Einstein commented that “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”[11][12] It has been anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities and has been explored in fiction in many countries. Concepts have ranged from purely-conventional scenarios, to limited use of nuclear weapons, to the complete destruction of the planet’s surface.

Other global conflicts

Various former government officials, politicians, authors, and military leaders (including James Woolsey,[13] Alexandre de Marenches,[14] Eliot Cohen,[15] and Subcomandante Marcos[16]) have attempted to apply the labels of the “Third World War” and “Fourth World War” to various past and present global wars since the closing of the Second World War, for example, the Cold War and the War on Terror, respectively. Among these are former American, French, and Mexican government officials, military leaders, politicians, and authors. Despite their efforts, none of these wars are commonly deemed world wars.

Wars described by some historians as “World War Zero” include the Seven Years’ War[17] and the onset of the Late Bronze Age collapse.[18]

The Second Congo War (1998–2003) involved nine nations and led to ongoing low-intensity warfare despite an official peace and the first democratic elections in 2006. It has often been referred to as “Africa’s World War”.[19] During the early-21st century the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War and their worldwide spillovers are sometimes described as proxy wars waged between the United States and Russia,[20][21][22][23] which led some commentators to characterize the situation as a “proto-world war” with nearly a dozen countries embroiled in two overlapping conflicts.[24]

Wars with higher death tolls than the First World War

The two world wars of the 20th century had caused unprecedented casualties and destruction across the theaters of conflict.[25] There have been several wars that occurred with as many or more deaths than in the First World War (16,563,868–40,000,000), including:

Estimated death tolls. Log. mean calculated using simple power law.
Event Lowest
estimate
Highest
estimate
Location From To Duration (years)
Three Kingdoms 36,000,000[26] 40,000,000[27] China 184 280 96
An Lushan Rebellion 13,000,000[28] 36,000,000[29] China 755 763 9
Mongol conquests 30,000,000[30] 40,000,000[28] Eurasia 1206 1324 118
Conquests of Timur 15,000,000[31] 20,000,000[31] Asia 1369 1405 37
Qing dynasty conquest of the Ming dynasty 25,000,000[32] 25,000,000 China 1616 1662 47
Taiping Rebellion 20,000,000[33] 100,000,000[34][35][36] China 1851 1864 14
World War II 40,000,000[37] 85,000,000[38] Global 1939 1945 6
Cold War 22,345,162 +94,000,000 Global 1947 1991 44

Wars spanning multiple continents[edit]

There have been numerous wars spanning two or more continents throughout history, including:

Estimated death tolls. Log. mean calculated using simple power law.
Event Lowest
estimate
Highest
estimate
Location From To Duration (years)
Late Bronze Age collapse EgyptAnatoliaSyriaCanaanCyprusGreeceMesopotamia 1200s BCE 1150s BCE 40–50
Greco-Persian Wars GreeceThraceAegean IslandsAsia MinorCyprusEgypt 499 BCE 449 BCE 50
Peloponnesian War GreeceAsia MinorSicily 431 BCE 404 BCE 27
Wars of Alexander the Great ThraceIllyriaGreeceAsia MinorSyriaBabyloniaPersiaAfghanistanSogdianaIndia 335 BCE 323 BCE 12
Wars of the Diadochi MacedonGreeceThraceAnatoliaLevantEgyptBabyloniaPersia 322 BCE 275 BCE 47
First Punic War 285,000
[citation needed]
400,000[28] Mediterranean SeaSicilySardiniaNorth Africa 264 BCE 241 BCE 23
Second Punic War 616,000
[citation needed]
770,000[28] ItalySicilyHispaniaCisalpine GaulTransalpine GaulNorth AfricaGreece 218 BCE 201 BCE 17
Roman–Seleucid War GreeceAsia Minor 192 BCE 188 BCE 4
Roman–Persian Wars MesopotamiaSyriaLevantEgyptTranscaucasusAtropateneAsia MinorBalkans 92 BCE 629 CE 721
First Mithridatic War Asia MinorAchaeaAegean Sea 89 BCE 85 BCE 4
Great Roman Civil War HispaniaItalyGreeceIllyriaEgyptAfrica 49 BCE 45 BCE 4
Byzantine–Sassanid wars CaucasusAsia MinorEgyptLevantMesopotamia 502 CE 628 CE 126
Muslim conquests MesopotamiaCaucasusPersiaLevantThe MaghrebAnatoliaIberiaGaulKhorasanSindhTransoxania 622 1258 636
Arab–Byzantine wars LevantSyriaEgyptNorth AfricaAnatoliaCreteSicilyItaly 629 1050 421
Crusades 1,000,000[39] 3,000,000[40] Iberian peninsulaNear EastAnatolia, the LevantEgypt. 1095 1291 197
Mongol conquests 30,000,000[30] 40,000,000[28] Eurasia 1206 1324 118
Byzantine–Ottoman Wars Asia MinorBalkans 1265 1479 214
European colonization of the Americas 2,000,000[41] 100,000,000[42] Americas 1492 1900 408
Ottoman–Habsburg wars HungaryMediterraneanBalkansNorth AfricaMalta 1526 1791 265
First Anglo-Spanish War Atlantic OceanEnglish ChannelLow CountriesSpainSpanish MainPortugalCornwallIrelandAmericasAzoresCanary islands 1585 1604 19
Dutch–Portuguese War Atlantic OceanBrazilWest AfricaSouthern AfricaIndian OceanIndiaEast IndiesIndochinaChina 1602 1663 61
Thirty Years’ War 3,000,000 11,500,000 Europe, mainly present-day Germany 1618 1648 30
Second Anglo-Spanish War CaribbeanSpainCanary IslandsSpanish Netherlands 1654 1660 6
Nine Years’ War EuropeIrelandScotlandNorth AmericaSouth AmericaAsia 1688 1697 9
WaroftheSpanishSuccession.png

War of the Spanish Succession

EuropeNorth AmericaSouth America 1701 1714 13
War of the Quadruple Alliance SicilySardiniaSpainNorth America 1718 1720 2
Third Anglo-Spanish War SpainPanama 1727 1729 2
WaroftheAustrianSuccession.png

War of the Austrian Succession

EuropeNorth AmericaIndia 1740 1748 8
SevenYearsWar.png

Seven Years’ War

1,500,000[28] EuropeNorth AmericaSouth AmericaAfricaAsia 1754 1763 9
American Revolutionary War North AmericaGibraltarBalearic IslandsIndiaAfricaCaribbean SeaAtlantic OceanIndian Ocean 1775 1784 8
FrenchRevolutionaryWars.png

French Revolutionary Wars

EuropeEgyptMiddle EastAtlantic OceanCaribbeanIndian Ocean 1792 1802 9
NapoleonicWars.png

Napoleonic Wars

3,500,000
[citation needed]
7,000,000[43] EuropeAtlantic OceanMediterranean SeaNorth SeaRío de la PlataFrench GuianaWest IndiesIndian OceanNorth AmericaSouth Caucasus 1803 1815 13
Crimean War 255,000[44] 1,000,000[45] SicilySardiniaSpainSoutheastern EuropeBlack Sea 1853 1856 3
WWI-re.png

World War I

15,000,000[46] 65,000,000[47] Global 1914 1918 4
Map of participants in World War II.png

World War II

40,000,000[37] 85,000,000[38] Global 1939 1945 6
Cold War Map 1980.svg

Cold War

22,345,162 (casualties by all wars started in the Cold War with Gulf WarVietnam WarKorean WarAlgerian WarIran–Iraq WarNigerian Civil War or Soviet–Afghan War included)[48][circular reference] +94,000,000 (22 million people killed by all civil wars started in Asia, South America and Africa + number of people killed in Asia and Europe by the Communist governments, with casualties of Soviet famine of 1946–47Cambodian genocideCultural Revolution, and Great Leap Forward included)[49][circular reference] Global 1947 1991 44
Battlefields in The Global War on Terror.svg

War on Terror

272,000[50] 1,260,000
[50][51][52]
Global 2001 present 17

Uncategorized

Dandi Biyo

Dandi Biyo

Example of Dandi Biyo being played

Dandi Biyo (Nepali) is a game usually played in rural Nepal and was considered the national game unofficially till May 23, 2017, when officially Volleyball was declared as the national sports. Volleyball was declared as the national game of Nepal in 23 May 2017. Dandi Biyo is played with a stick (Dandi) about two feet long and a wooden pin (Biyo) about six inches long. The pin is a small wooden stick with pointed ends. It is similar to the Indian game Gilli Danda. However, the popularity of Dandi Biyo is decreasing day by day and government has not implemented any policies under the preservation of Dandi Biyo due to which it is supposed to be extinct in near future.[1] The popularity is going down.[2] Dandi Biyo Was the old national game of Nepal

 

Gameplay

Biyo and Dandi

Dandi Biyo is played by two or more players. The wooden pin is laid across a four-inch-deep hole in the ground. One player puts one end of the stick inside the hole and holds the other end. The player jerks the stick against the pin to launch the pin into the air while other players called ‘fielders’ try to catch the pin. If one of the fielders catch the pin in the air, the turn is over and the catcher takes the stick. If the pin instead hits the ground, that player plays to score. One of the fielders then throws the pin into the hole while the player tries to hit and throw the pin away. If the pin goes into the hole, the player’s turn is over and the points accumulated by the player automatically becomes zero. If the pin doesn’t go into the hole, the player plays to score by hitting the pin at one end by the stick. In another version of the game, a circular boundary of about one-meter diameter is drawn on the ground. The player throws the pin into the circle from a distance of about two meters. If the pin lies within the circle the player continues to play and score.

To score, a player again knocks the pin in the air. Before it lands, the player hits it as many times as possible, to move it away from the hole. This process is repeated three times in which the player tries to throw the pin as far as he can. The score is calculated by multiplying the number of hits by the number of stick lengths the pin traveled. If the player hits the pin twice in the air, the score will be twice the number of stick lengths the pin traveled.

The game was mostly played by Nepali youths and was very popular between 1980’s and 1990’s when modern toys and games were not available. Sonam Ukyab from Purano Baneswore is unofficially considered the best Dandi Biyo player of all time. Bikki was the official champion of Interdistrict Dandi Biyo Competition held in Tudikhel.[citation needed]

Dandi Biyo is one of many such games that were locally developed in the rural areas reflecting use of local tools and techniques. In the context of modern games, Dandi Biyo is very close to cricket. The player can be compared to the “batsman” and the other players to the “fielders”.

Tip-Cat is a similar British game, and Gillidanda is a similar Indian game.

Uncategorized

Kabaddi

Kabaddi

Kabaddi
Iran men's national kabaddi team 13970602000432636707284535394012 98208.jpg
A kabaddi match during the 2018 Asian Games.
Highest governing body International Kabaddi Federation
Nicknames Kaudi, Pakaada, Ha-du-du, Bhavatik, Saadukuda, Hu-Tu-Tu, Himoshika
Registered players Arbadi Bad
Characteristics
Contact Permitted
Team members 7 (per side)
Mixed gender No, there are separate competitions for male and female
Type Team sportContact sport
Equipment None
Venue Kabaddi court
Presence
Country or region Indian SubcontinentAsia
Olympic Demonstration sport1936 Olympics

Kabaddi is a contact team sport, played between two teams of seven players each. The objective of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a “raider”, to run into the opposing team’s half of a court, tag out as many of their defenders as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders, and in a single breath. Points are scored tagged by the raider, while the opposing team earns a point for stopping the raider. Players are taken out of the game if they are tagged or tackled, but are brought back in for each point scored by their team from a tag or tackle.

It is popular in South Asia and other surrounding Asian countries. Although accounts of kabaddi appear in the histories of ancient India, the game was popularised as a competitive sport in the 20th century. It is the national sport of Bangladesh.[1][2] It is the state game of the Indian states of Andhra PradeshBiharHaryanaKarnatakaKeralaMaharashtraPunjabTamil NaduTelangana, and Uttar Pradesh.[citation needed]

There are two major disciplines of Kabaddi: so-called Punjabi kabaddi, also referred to as “circle style,” comprises traditional forms of the sport that are played on a circular field outdoors, while the “standard style,” played on a rectangular court indoors, is a discipline played in major professional leagues and international competitions such as the Asian Games.

The game is known by numerous names in different parts of South Asia, such as: kabaddi or chedugudu in Andhra Pradeshkabaddi in MaharashtraKarnatakaKerala and Telanganakabadi or ha-du-du in Bangladeshbhavatik in Maldiveskauddi or kabaddi in the Punjab regionhu-tu-tu in Western India, hu-do-do in Eastern India; chadakudu in South India; kapardi in Nepal; and kabadi or sadugudu in Tamil Nadu.

History

Although unverified, theories from religious believers state that Kabaddi originated from either the Vedic period of ancient India, or the Sistan region of present-day Iran. The game was said to have been popular among the Yadava people; an abhang by Tukaram stated that the god Krishna played the game in his youth, while the Mahabharata contains an account of Arjuna being able to sneak into hostile areas also take out enemies unscathed, which they are claiming that parallels the gameplay of kabaddi.

There are also accounts of Gautama Buddha having played the game recreationally.[citation needed]

Despite these conflicting claims, India has been credited with having helped to popularize kabaddi as a competitive sport, with the first organized competitions occurring in the 1920s, their introduction to the programme of the Indian Olympic Games in 1938, the establishment of the All-India Kabaddi Federation in 1950, and it being played as a demonstration sport at the inaugural 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi. These developments helped to formalize the sport, which had traditionally been played in villages, for legitimate international competition.[3][4][5]

After being demonstrated again at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, Kabaddi was added to the Asian Games’ programme beginning in 1990.[6]

Variations of Kabaddi

Standard style

A kabaddi court at the 2006 Asian Games.

In the international team version of kabaddi, two teams of seven members each occupy opposite halves of a court of 10 by 13 metres (33 ft × 43 ft) in case of men and 8 by 12 metres (26 ft × 39 ft) in case of women. Each has five supplementary players held in reserve, i.e. for substitution. The game is played with 20-minute halves with a 5-minute half break in which the teams exchange sides. During each play, known as a “raid”, a player from the attacking side, known as the “raider”, runs into the opposing team’s side of the court and attempts to tag as many of the seven defending players as far as possible for a raider. For a raid to be eligible for points, the raider must cross the baulk line in the defending team’s territory, and return to their half of the field without being tackled (note that if an attacker touches a defender and hasn’t yet reached the baulk line, they don’t need to reach the baulk line to score points and may return to their half of the court[7]). While doing so, the raider must also loudly chant the word “kabaddi”, confirming to referees that their raid is done on a single breath without inhaling. A 30-second shot clock is also enforced on each raid.[8][9][10][11]

A point is scored for each defender tagged. If the raider steps beyond the bonus line marked in the defending team’s territory, they earn an additional point known as a bonus point. If the raider is successfully stopped, the opposing team earns a point instead. All players tagged are taken out of the game, but one is “revived” for each point a team scores from a subsequent tag or tackle (bonus points do not revive players). Players who step out of the boundary or lobbies are also out. A raid where no points are scored by the raider is referred to as an “empty raid”. By contrast, a play where the raider scores three or more points is referred to as a “super raid”. If a team gets all seven players on the opposing team out at once (“All Out”), they earn two additional points and the players are placed back in the game.[8][9][10][11]

Additional rules are used in the Pro Kabaddi League: if a team has two empty raids in a row, the next raider must score a point on their next raid, because the next raid is a “do-or-die” raid. In this raid, the player must either get a point or be out. If the raider does not get a point then the opposite team will get a point and the raider will be declared out. Additionally when fewer than four players left on the field, tackles are worth 2 points (“super tackle”).[8][9][10][11]

Circle style

A circle kabaddi match being played in Bhimber.

There are four major forms of Indian kabaddi recognised by the amateur federation. In Sanjeevani kabaddi, one player is revived against one player of the opposite team who is out. The game is played over 40 minutes with a five minute break between halves. There are seven players on each side and the team that outs all the players on the opponent’s side scores four extra points. In Gaminee style, seven players play on each side and a player put out has to remain out until all his team members are out. The team that is successful in outing all the players of the opponent’s side secures a point. The game continues until five or seven such points are secured and has no fixed time duration. Amar style resembles the Sanjeevani form in the time frame rule, but a player who is declared out stays inside the court while play continues. For every player of the opposition touched “out”, a team earns a point.[12] Punjabi kabaddi is a variation that is played on a circular pitch of a diameter of 22 metres (72 ft).[13]

International competitions

The following competitions are played in standard format, for that of circle style kabaddi, see Punjabi kabaddi.[citation needed]

Kabaddi World Cup

The standard style Kabaddi World Cup is an outdoor international kabaddi competition conducted by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), contested by men’s and women’s national teams. The competition has been previously contested in 2004, 2007 and 2016. All the tournaments have been won by India. India defeated Iran by 38-29 in the final of the championship game to clinch the title of 2016.[citation needed]

After the establishment of a new kabaddi organization named World Kabaddi Federation, a world cup in 2019 at MalaccaMalaysia will be organized. It will be the largest world cup in kabaddi history, consisting of 32 men teams.[citation needed]

Asian Games

File:Kabaddi-japan-2015-10-4.webm

(video) Kabaddi being played in Japan, 2015

Kabaddi has been played at the Asian Games since 1990.[citation needed] The Indian national team had won every men’s and women’s kabaddi competition in the Asian Games from 1990 through 2014. At the 2018 Asian GamesIran became the first country outside of India to win gold medals in Kabaddi, with India’s men’s team winning bronze, and India’s women’s team being beaten by Iran to win silver.[citation needed]

Pro Kabaddi League

The Pro Kabaddi League was established in 2014. The league modeled its business upon that of the Indian Premier League of Twenty20 cricket, with a large focus on marketing, the backing of local broadcaster Star Sports, and changes to the sport’s rules and its presentation to make it more suitable for a television audience.[14] The Pro Kabaddi League quickly became a ratings success on Indian television; the 2014 season was watched by at least 435 million viewers over the course of the season, and the inaugural championship match was seen by 98.6 million viewers.[15][16]

Indo International Premier Kabaddi League

The Inaugural edition of the IIPKL was on 13 May at the Pune, India[17]. The title for the inaugural season was won by the Bangalore Rhinos [18]

Super Kabaddi League

In May 2018, the Super Kabaddi League was first held in Pakistan, as part of a larger push to promote renewed interest in the sport in Pakistan.[19][20][21]

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge[edit]

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge is a women’s kabaddi league. The first season was played from 28 June to 31 July 2016 and was broadcast by Star Sports in India. Three teams took part and the league played across seven cities in India[citation needed]. The final was played alongside the men’s version on 31 July. The Storm Queens produced a last-second turnaround to defeat the Fire Birds 24-23.[citation needed]

Asian Kabaddi Championship[edit]

AKC‘s tenth season was played in GorganIran in 2017 in which India won its tenth gold by defeating Pakistan in the finals.[citation needed]

Kabaddi Masters[edit]

The inaugural edition of the Kabaddi Masters was held in Dubai from 22 to 30 June 2018. It was the first Kabaddi tournament to be held in the UAE. It featured 6 teams. India won the tournament by defeating Iran in the final with a scoreline of 44-26, with the Indian Defense out performing the Iran Defense[22].

Popularity

Kabaddi is a popular sport in the subcontinent. The Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) was founded in 1950, and it compiled a standard set of rules. The governing body for Kabaddi in Pakistan is Pakistan Kabaddi Federation.

In Bangladesh, there is a variation of Kabaddi called Ha-du-du, going back to ancient times. Ha-du-du has no definite rules and is played with different rules in different areas. Kabaddi is the national sport of Bangladesh, given official status in 1972.[2] The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of Bangladesh was formed in 1973.

In Iran, the Community of Kabaddi was formed in 1996 (the same year they joined the Asian Kabaddi Federation) and in 2001 they joined the International Kabaddi Federation. The Iran Amateur Kabaddi Federation was formed in 2004.

Kabaddi is one of the national sports of Nepal. Kabaddi is played and taught at a very early age in most primary schools beginning in the third grade or so in most Nepali schools. Kabaddi was also played by the British Army for fun, to keep fit and as an enticement to recruit soldiers from the British Asian community. Kabaddi was brought to the United Kingdom by IndianBangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants. The governing body for Kabaddi in the United Kingdom is the England Kabaddi Federation UK.

In popular culture

Films depicting kabaddi
Anime and manga depicting kabaddi
Dramas depicting kabaddi

Uncategorized

Hinduism

Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion. It is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life,[note 1] widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world,[note 2] and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, “the eternal tradition”, or the “eternal way”, beyond human history.[4][5] Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion[note 3] or synthesis[6][note 4] of various Indian cultures and traditions,[7][note 5] with diverse roots[8][note 6] and no founder.[9] This “Hindu synthesis” started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE,[10] after the end of the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BCE),[10][11] and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.[12]

Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmologyshared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sitesHindu texts are classified into Śruti (“heard”) and Smṛti (“remembered”). These texts discuss theology, philosophymythologyVedic yajnaYogaagamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics.[13] Major scriptures include the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas.[14][15] Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.[16]

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma (ethics/duties), Artha (prosperity/work), Kama (desires/passions) and Moksha (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth/salvation);[17][18] karma (action, intent and consequences), Saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha).[15][19] Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monastic practices) to achieve Moksha.[20] Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others.[web 1][21] The four largest denominations of Hinduism are the VaishnavismShaivismShaktism and Smartism.[22]

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion; its followers, known as Hindus, constitute about 1.15 billion, or 15–16% of the global population.[web 2][23] Hinduism is the most widely professed faith in IndiaNepal and Mauritius. It is also the predominant religion in BaliIndonesia.[24] Significant numbers of Hindu communities are also found in the CaribbeanSoutheast AsiaNorth AmericaEuropeOceaniaAfrica, and other countries.[25][26]

 

Etymology

Balinese Hindu family after puja at Bratan temple in BaliIndonesia.

The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan[27]/Sanskrit[28] root Sindhu.[28][29] The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola.[citation needed]

The use of the term Hinduism to describe a collection of practices and beliefs is a recent European construction, the term “Hindu” was coined in position to other religions and used to describe those that were not of the other religions. Before the British began to categorise communities strictly by religion, Indians generally did not define themselves exclusively through their religious beliefs; identities were segmented on the basis of locality, language, caste, occupation and sect.[30][page needed]

It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan and Northern India).[28][note 7] According to Gavin Flood, “The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)”,[28] more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I (550–486 BCE).[31] The term Hindu in these ancient records is a geographical term and did not refer to a religion.[28] Among the earliest known records of ‘Hindu’ with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by Xuanzang,[31] and 14th-century Persian text Futuhu’s-salatin by ‘Abd al-Malik Isami.[note 8]

Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn (pronounced Hindustan) is found in a Sasanian inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.[38] The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people who live across the River Indus.[39] This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the “land of Hindus”.[40][note 9]

The term Hindu was later used occasionally in some Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450) and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas (foreigners) or Mlecchas (barbarians), with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase “Hindu dharma“.[41] It was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus.

The term Hinduism, then spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.[42]

Definitions

Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheisticpantheisticpanentheisticpandeistichenotheisticmonotheisticmonisticagnosticatheistic or humanist.[43][44][45] Ideas about all the major issues of faith and lifestyle including: vegetarianism, nonviolence, belief in rebirth, even caste, are subjects of debate, not dogma.[30][page needed]

Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult.[28] The religion “defies our desire to define and categorize it”.[46] Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, and “a way of life”.[47][note 1] From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, which is broader than the Western term religion.

The study of India and its cultures and religions, and the definition of “Hinduism”, has been shaped by the interests of colonialism and by Western notions of religion.[48] Since the 1990s, those influences and its outcomes have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism,[49][note 10] and have also been taken over by critics of the Western view on India.[50][note 11]

Typology

AUM, a stylised letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism

Hinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six darsanas (philosophies), two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, are currently the most prominent.[51] Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Devi) and Smartism (five deities treated as same).[52][53] Hinduism also accepts numerous divine beings, with many Hindus considering the deities to be aspects or manifestations of a single impersonal absolute or ultimate reality or God, while some Hindus maintain that a specific deity represents the supreme and various deities are lower manifestations of this supreme.[54] Other notable characteristics include a belief in existence of ātman (soul, self), reincarnation of one’s ātman, and karma as well as a belief in dharma (duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and right way of living).

McDaniel (2007) classifies Hinduism into six major kinds and numerous minor kinds, in order to understand expression of emotions among the Hindus.[55] The major kinds, according to McDaniel are, Folk Hinduism, based on local traditions and cults of local deities and is the oldest, non-literate system; Vedic Hinduism based on the earliest layers of the Vedas traceable to 2nd millennium BCE; Vedantic Hinduism based on the philosophy of the Upanishads, including Advaita Vedanta, emphasizing knowledge and wisdom; Yogic Hinduism, following the text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali emphasizing introspective awareness; Dharmic Hinduism or “daily morality”, which McDaniel states is stereotyped in some books as the “only form of Hindu religion with a belief in karma, cows and caste”; and Bhakti or devotional Hinduism, where intense emotions are elaborately incorporated in the pursuit of the spiritual.[55]

Michaels distinguishes three Hindu religions and four forms of Hindu religiosity.[56] The three Hindu religions are “Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism”, “folk religions and tribal religions”, and “founded religions.[57] The four forms of Hindu religiosity are the classical “karma-marga”,[58] jnana-marga,[59] bhakti-marga,[59] and “heroism”, which is rooted in militaristic traditions, such as Ramaism and parts of political Hinduism.[58] This is also called virya-marga.[59] According to Michaels, one out of nine Hindu belongs by birth to one or both of the Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism and Folk religion typology, whether practicing or non-practicing. He classifies most Hindus as belonging by choice to one of the “founded religions” such as Vaishnavism and Shaivism that are salvation-focussed and often de-emphasize Brahman priestly authority yet incorporate ritual grammar of Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism.[60] He includes among “founded religions” Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism that are now distinct religions, syncretic movements such as Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society, as well as various “Guru-isms” and new religious movements such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and ISKCON.[61]

Inden states that the attempt to classify Hinduism by typology started in the imperial times, when proselytizing missionaries and colonial officials sought to understand and portray Hinduism from their interests.[62] Hinduism was construed as emanating not from a reason of spirit but fantasy and creative imagination, not conceptual but symbolical, not ethical but emotive, not rational or spiritual but of cognitive mysticism. This stereotype followed and fit, states Inden, with the imperial imperatives of the era, providing the moral justification for the colonial project.[62] From tribal Animism to Buddhism, everything was subsumed as part of Hinduism. The early reports set the tradition and scholarly premises for typology of Hinduism, as well as the major assumptions and flawed presuppositions that has been at the foundation of Indology. Hinduism, according to Inden, has been neither what imperial religionists stereotyped it to be, nor is it appropriate to equate Hinduism to be merely monist pantheism and philosophical idealism of Advaita Vedanta.[62]

Indigenous understanding

Sanātana Dharma

To its adherents, Hinduism is a traditional way of life.[63] Many practitioners refer to the “orthodox” form of Hinduism as Sanātana Dharma, “the eternal law” or the “eternal way”.[64][65] The Sanskrit word dharma has a much broader meaning than religion and is not its equivalent. All aspects of a Hindu life, namely acquiring wealth (artha), fulfillment of desires (kama), and attaining liberation (moksha), are part of dharma, which encapsulates the “right way of living” and eternal harmonious principles in their fulfillment.[66][67]

According to the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Sanātana Dharma historically referred to the “eternal” duties religiously ordained in Hinduism, duties such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), purity, goodwill, mercy, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, generosity, and asceticism. These duties applied regardless of a Hindu’s class, caste, or sect, and they contrasted with svadharma, one’s “own duty”, in accordance with one’s class or caste (varna) and stage in life (puruṣārtha).[web 1] In recent years, the term has been used by Hindu leaders, reformers, and nationalists to refer to Hinduism. Sanatana dharma has become a synonym for the “eternal” truth and teachings of Hinduism, that transcend history and are “unchanging, indivisible and ultimately nonsectarian”.[web 1]

According to other scholars such as Kim Knott and Brian Hatcher, Sanātana Dharma refers to “timeless, eternal set of truths” and this is how Hindus view the origins of their religion. It is viewed as those eternal truths and tradition with origins beyond human history, truths divinely revealed (Shruti) in the Vedas – the most ancient of the world’s scriptures.[68][69] To many Hindus, the Western term “religion” to the extent it means “dogma and an institution traceable to a single founder” is inappropriate for their tradition, states Hatcher. Hinduism, to them, is a tradition that can be traced at least to the ancient Vedic era.[69][70][note 12]

Vaidika dharma

Some have referred to Hinduism as the Vaidika dharma.[72] The word ‘Vaidika’ in Sanskrit means ‘derived from or conformable to the Veda’ or ‘relating to the Veda’.[73] Traditional scholars employed the terms Vaidika and Avaidika, those who accept the Vedas as a source of authoritative knowledge and those who do not, to differentiate various Indian schools from Jainism, Buddhism and Charvaka. According to Klaus Klostermaier, the term Vaidika dharma is the earliest self-designation of Hinduism.[74][75] According to Arvind Sharma, the historical evidence suggests that “the Hindus were referring to their religion by the term vaidika dharma or a variant thereof” by the 4th-century CE.[76] According to Brian K. Smith “[i]t is ‘debatable at the very least’ as to whether the term Vaidika Dharma cannot, with the proper concessions to historical, cultural and ideological specificity, be comparable to and translated as ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hindu religion’.”[77]

According to Alexis Sanderson, the early Sanskrit texts differentiate between Vaidika, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Saura, Buddhist and Jaina traditions. However, the late 1st-millennium CE Indic consensus had “indeed come to conceptualize a complex entity corresponding to Hinduism as opposed to Buddhism and Jainism excluding only certain forms of antinomian Shakta-Shaiva” from its fold.[78] Some in the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy considered the Agamas such as the Pancaratrika to be invalid because it did not conform to the Vedas. Some Kashmiri scholars rejected the esoteric tantric traditions to be a part of Vaidika dharma.[78][79] The Atimarga Shaivism ascetic tradition, datable to about 500 CE, challenged the Vaidika frame and insisted that their Agamas and practices were not only valid, they were superior than those of the Vaidikas.[80] However, adds Sanderson, this Shaiva ascetic tradition viewed themselves as being genuinely true to the Vedic tradition and “held unanimously that the Śruti and Smṛti of Brahmanism are universally and uniquely valid in their own sphere, […] and that as such they [Vedas] are man’s sole means of valid knowledge […]”.[80]

The term Vaidika dharma means a code of practice that is “based on the Vedas”, but it is unclear what “based on the Vedas” really implies, states Julius Lipner.[70] The Vaidika dharma or “Vedic way of life”, states Lipner, does not mean “Hinduism is necessarily religious” or that Hindus have a universally accepted “conventional or institutional meaning” for that term.[70] To many, it is as much a cultural term. Many Hindus do not have a copy of the Vedas nor have they ever seen or personally read parts of a Veda, like a Christian might relate to the Bible or a Muslim might to the Quran. Yet, states Lipner, “this does not mean that their [Hindus] whole life’s orientation cannot be traced to the Vedas or that it does not in some way derive from it”.[70]

Many religious Hindus implicitly acknowledge the authority of the Vedas, this acknowledgment is often “no more than a declaration that someone considers himself [or herself] a Hindu.” Some Hindus challenge the authority of the Vedas, thereby implicitly acknowledging its importance to the history of Hinduism, states Lipner.[70]

Hindu modernism

Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and the United States,[81] raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.[82]

Beginning in the 19th century, Indian modernists re-asserted Hinduism as a major asset of Indian civilisation,[83] meanwhile “purifying” Hinduism from its Tantric elements[84] and elevating the Vedic elements. Western stereotypes were reversed, emphasizing the universal aspects, and introducing modern approaches of social problems.[83] This approach had a great appeal, not only in India, but also in the west.[83] Major representatives of “Hindu modernism”[85] are Raja Rammohan RoyVivekanandaSarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi.[86]

Raja Rammohan Roy is known as the father of the Hindu Renaissance.[87] He was a major influence on Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), who, according to Flood, was “a figure of great importance in the development of a modern Hindu self-understanding and in formulating the West’s view of Hinduism”.[88] Central to his philosophy is the idea that the divine exists in all beings, that all human beings can achieve union with this “innate divinity”,[85] and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony.[85] According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms.[85] According to Flood, Vivekananda’s vision of Hinduism “is one generally accepted by most English-speaking middle-class Hindus today”.[89] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan sought to reconcile western rationalism with Hinduism, “presenting Hinduism as an essentially rationalistic and humanistic religious experience”.[90]

This “Global Hinduism”[91] has a worldwide appeal, transcending national boundaries[91] and, according to Flood, “becoming a world religion alongside Christianity, Islam and Buddhism”,[91] both for the Hindu diaspora communities and for westerners who are attracted to non-western cultures and religions.[91] It emphasizes universal spiritual values such as social justice, peace and “the spiritual transformation of humanity”.[91] It has developed partly due to “re-enculturation”,[92] or the Pizza effect,[92] in which elements of Hindu culture have been exported to the West, gaining popularity there, and as a consequence also gained greater popularity in India.[92] This globalization of Hindu culture brought “to the West teachings which have become an important cultural force in western societies, and which in turn have become an important cultural force in India, their place of origin”.[93]

Legal Definitions

The definition of Hinduism in Indian Law is: “Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large”[94][30][page needed]

Western understanding

The term Hinduism is coined in Western ethnography in the 18th century,[42][95] and refers to the fusion[note 3] or synthesis[note 4][6] of various Indian cultures and traditions.[7][note 5] which emerged after the Vedic period, between 500[10]–200[11] BCE and c. 300 CE,[10] the beginning of the “Epic and Puranic” c.q. “Preclassical” period.[10][11]

Hinduism’s tolerance to variations in belief and its broad range of traditions make it difficult to define as a religion according to traditional Western conceptions.[98]

Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with “fuzzy edges” rather than as a well-defined and rigid entity. Some forms of religious expression are central to Hinduism and others, while not as central, still remain within the category. Based on this idea Ferro-Luzzi has developed a ‘Prototype Theory approach’ to the definition of Hinduism.[99]

Diversity and unity

Diversity

Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon

Hinduism has been described as a tradition having a “complex, organic, multileveled and sometimes internally inconsistent nature”.[100] Hinduism does not have a “unified system of belief encoded in a declaration of faith or a creed“,[28] but is rather an umbrella term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena of India.[101] According to the Supreme Court of India,

Unlike other religions in the World, the Hindu religion does not claim any one Prophet, it does not worship any one God, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow any one act of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more”.[102]

Part of the problem with a single definition of the term Hinduism is the fact that Hinduism does not have a founder.[103] It is a synthesis of various traditions,[104] the “Brahmanical orthopraxy, the renouncer traditions and popular or local traditions”.[96]

Theism is also difficult to use as a unifying doctrine for Hinduism, because while some Hindu philosophies postulate a theistic ontology of creation, other Hindus are or have been atheists.[citation needed]

Sense of unity

Despite the differences, there is also a sense of unity.[105] Most Hindu traditions revere a body of religious or sacred literature, the Vedas,[106] although there are exceptions.[107] These texts are a reminder of the ancient cultural heritage and point of pride for Hindus,[108][109] with Louis Renou stating that “even in the most orthodox domains, the reverence to the Vedas has come to be a simple raising of the hat”.[108][110]

Halbfass states that, although Shaivism and Vaishaism may be regarded as “self-contained religious constellations”,[105] there is a degree of interaction and reference between the “theoreticians and literary representatives”[105] of each tradition that indicates the presence of “a wider sense of identity, a sense of coherence in a shared context and of inclusion in a common framework and horizon”.[105]

Indigenous developments

The notion of common denominators for several religions and traditions of India further developed from the 12th century CE on.[111] Lorenzen traces the emergence of a “family resemblance”, and what he calls as “beginnings of medieval and modern Hinduism” taking shape, at c. 300 – 600 CE, with the development of the early Puranas, and continuities with the earlier Vedic religion.[112] Lorenzen states that the establishment of a Hindu self-identity took place “through a process of mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim Other”.[113] According to Lorenzen, this “presence of the Other”[113] is necessary to recognise the “loose family resemblance” among the various traditions and schools,[114]

According to the Indologist Alexis Sanderson, before Islam arrived in India, the “Sanskrit sources differentiated Vaidika, Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Śākta, Saura, Buddhist, and Jaina traditions, but they had no name that denotes the first five of these as a collective entity over and against Buddhism and Jainism.” This absence of a formal name, states Sanderson, does not mean that the corresponding concept of Hinduism did not exist. By late 1st-millennium CE, the concept of a belief and tradition distinct from Buddhism and Jainism had emerged.[115] This complex tradition accepted in its identity almost all of what is currently Hinduism, except certain antinomian tantric movements.[115] Some conservative thinkers of those times questioned whether certain Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta texts or practices were consistent with the Vedas, or were invalid in their entirety. Moderates then, and most orthoprax scholars later, agreed that though there are some variations, the foundation of their beliefs, the ritual grammar, the spiritual premises and the soteriologies were same. “This sense of greater unity”, states Sanderson, “came to be called Hinduism”.[115]

According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and the 16th centuries “certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the ‘six systems’ (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.”[116] The tendency of “a blurring of philosophical distinctions” has also been noted by Burley.[117] Hacker called this “inclusivism”[106] and Michaels speaks of “the identificatory habit”.[13] Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus,[118] and a process of “mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other”,[119][note 13] which started well before 1800.[120] Michaels notes:

As a counteraction to Islamic supremacy and as part of the continuing process of regionalization, two religious innovations developed in the Hindu religions: the formation of sects and a historicization which preceded later nationalism […] [S]aints and sometimes militant sect leaders, such as the Marathi poet Tukaram (1609–1649) and Ramdas (1608–1681), articulated ideas in which they glorified Hinduism and the past. The Brahmins also produced increasingly historical texts, especially eulogies and chronicles of sacred sites (Mahatmyas), or developed a reflexive passion for collecting and compiling extensive collections of quotations on various subjects.[121]

This inclusivism[122] was further developed in the 19th and 20th centuries by Hindu reform movements and Neo-Vedanta,[123] and has become characteristic of modern Hinduism.[106]

Colonial influences

The notion and reports on “Hinduism” as a “single world religious tradition”[124] was popularised by 19th-century proselytizing missionaries and European Indologists, roles sometimes served by the same person, who relied on texts preserved by Brahmins (priests) for their information of Indian religions, and animist observations that the missionary Orientalists presumed was Hinduism.[124][62][125] These reports influenced perceptions about Hinduism. Some scholars[weasel words] state that the colonial polemical reports led to fabricated stereotypes where Hinduism was mere mystic paganism devoted to the service of devils,[note 14] while other scholars state that the colonial constructions influenced the belief that the VedasBhagavad GitaManusmriti and such texts were the essence of Hindu religiosity, and in the modern association of ‘Hindu doctrine’ with the schools of Vedanta (in particular Advaita Vedanta) as paradigmatic example of Hinduism’s mystical nature”.[127][note 15] Pennington, while concurring that the study of Hinduism as a world religion began in the colonial era, disagrees that Hinduism is a colonial European era invention.[134] He states that the shared theology, common ritual grammar and way of life of those who identify themselves as Hindus is traceable to ancient times.[134][note 16]

Beliefs

Temple wall panel relief sculpture at the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu, representing the TrimurtiBrahmaShiva and Vishnu

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to) Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsāra (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action, intent and consequences), Moksha (liberation from samsara or liberation in this life), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).[19]

Purusharthas (objectives of human life)

Classical Hindu thought accepts four proper goals or aims of human life: DharmaArthaKama and Moksha. These are known as the Puruṣārthas:[17][18]

Dharma (righteousness, ethics)

Dharma is considered the foremost goal of a human being in Hinduism.[141] The concept Dharma includes behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible,[142] and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and “right way of living”.[143] Hindu Dharma includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviors that enable social order, right conduct, and those that are virtuous.[143] Dharma, according to Van Buitenen,[144] is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is, states Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one’s nature and true calling, thus playing one’s role in cosmic concert.[144] The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states it as:

Nothing is higher than Dharma. The weak overcomes the stronger by Dharma, as over a king. Truly that Dharma is the Truth (Satya); Therefore, when a man speaks the Truth, they say, “He speaks the Dharma”; and if he speaks Dharma, they say, “He speaks the Truth!” For both are one.

In the MahabharataKrishna defines dharma as upholding both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs. (Mbh 12.110.11). The word Sanātana means eternalperennial, or forever; thus, Sanātana Dharma signifies that it is the dharma that has neither beginning nor end.[147]

Artha (livelihood, wealth)

Artha is objective and virtuous pursuit of wealth for livelihood, obligations and economic prosperity. It is inclusive of political life, diplomacy and material well-being. The Artha concept includes all “means of life”, activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in, wealth, career and financial security.[148] The proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism.[149][150]

Kāma (sensual pleasure)

Kāma (SanskritPaliDevanagari: काम) means desire, wish, passion, longing, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations.[151][152] In Hinduism, Kama is considered an essential and healthy goal of human life when pursued without sacrificing Dharma, Artha and Moksha.[153]

Mokṣa (liberation, freedom from samsara)

Moksha (Sanskritमोक्ष mokṣa) or mukti (Sanskritमुक्ति) is the ultimate, most important goal in Hinduism. In one sense, Moksha is a concept associated with liberation from sorrow, suffering and saṃsāra (birth-rebirth cycle). A release from this eschatological cycle, in after life, particularly in theistic schools of Hinduism is called moksha.[154][155] In other schools of Hinduism, such as monistic, moksha is a goal achievable in current life, as a state of bliss through self-realization, of comprehending the nature of one’s soul, of freedom and of “realizing the whole universe as the Self”.[156][157]

Karma and samsara

Karma translates literally as actionwork, or deed,[158] and also refers to a Vedic theory of “moral law of cause and effect”.[159][160] The theory is a combination of (1) causality that may be ethical or non-ethical; (2) ethicization, that is good or bad actions have consequences; and (3) rebirth.[161] Karma theory is interpreted as explaining the present circumstances of an individual with reference to his or her actions in the past. These actions and their consequences may be in a person’s current life, or, according to some schools of Hinduism, in past lives.[161][162] This cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is called samsara. Liberation from samsara through moksha is believed to ensure lasting happiness and peace.[163][164] Hindu scriptures teach that the future is both a function of current human effort derived from free will and past human actions that set the circumstances.[165]

Moksha

The ultimate goal of life, referred to as mokshanirvana or samadhi, is understood in several different ways: as the realization of one’s union with God; as the realization of one’s eternal relationship with God; realization of the unity of all existence; perfect unselfishness and knowledge of the Self; as the attainment of perfect mental peace; and as detachment from worldly desires. Such realization liberates one from samsara, thereby ending the cycle of rebirth, sorrow and suffering.[166][167] Due to belief in the indestructibility of the soul,[168] death is deemed insignificant with respect to the cosmic self.[169]

The meaning of moksha differs among the various Hindu schools of thought. For example, Advaita Vedanta holds that after attaining moksha a person knows their “soul, self” and identifies it as one with Brahman and everyone in all respects.[170][171] The followers of Dvaita (dualistic) schools, in moksha state, identify individual “soul, self” as distinct from Brahman but infinitesimally close, and after attaining moksha expect to spend eternity in a loka (heaven). To theistic schools of Hinduism, moksha is liberation from samsara, while for other schools such as the monistic school, moksha is possible in current life and is a psychological concept. According to Deutsche, moksha is transcendental consciousness to the latter, the perfect state of being, of self-realization, of freedom and of “realizing the whole universe as the Self”.[156][170] Moksha in these schools of Hinduism, suggests Klaus Klostermaier,[171] implies a setting free of hitherto fettered faculties, a removing of obstacles to an unrestricted life, permitting a person to be more truly a person in the full sense; the concept presumes an unused human potential of creativity, compassion and understanding which had been blocked and shut out. Moksha is more than liberation from life-rebirth cycle of suffering (samsara); Vedantic school separates this into two: jivanmukti (liberation in this life) and videhamukti (liberation after death).[172][173]

Concept of God

Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheismpolytheismpanentheismpantheismpandeismmonism, and atheism among others;[174][175][web 3] and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.[176]

The Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) of the Rig Veda is one of the earliest texts[180] which “demonstrates a sense of metaphysical speculation” about what created the universe, the concept of god(s) and The One, and whether even The One knows how the universe came into being.[181][182] The Rig Veda praises various deities, none superior nor inferior, in a henotheistic manner.[183] The hymns repeatedly refer to One Truth and Reality. The “One Truth” of Vedic literature, in modern era scholarship, has been interpreted as monotheism, monism, as well as a deified Hidden Principles behind the great happenings and processes of nature.[184]

Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism
Shiva
Shiva
Durga
Durga
Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Vishnu
Vishnu

Hindus believe that all living creatures have a soul. This soul – the spirit or true “self” of every person, is called the ātman. The soul is believed to be eternal.[185] According to the monistic/pantheistic (non-dualist) theologies of Hinduism (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit.[186] The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realise that one’s soul is identical to supreme soul, that the supreme soul is present in everything and everyone, all life is interconnected and there is oneness in all life.[187][188][189] Dualistic schools (see Dvaita and Bhakti) understand Brahman as a Supreme Being separate from individual souls.[190] They worship the Supreme Being variously as VishnuBrahmaShiva, or Shakti, depending upon the sect. God is called IshvaraBhagavanParameshwaraDeva or Devi, and these terms have different meanings in different schools of Hinduism.[191][192][193]

Hindu texts accept a polytheistic framework, but this is generally conceptualized as the divine essence or luminosity that gives vitality and animation to the inanimate natural substances.[194] There is a divine in everything, human beings, animals, trees and rivers. It is observable in offerings to rivers, trees, tools of one’s work, animals and birds, rising sun, friends and guests, teachers and parents.[194][195][196] It is the divine in these that makes each sacred and worthy of reverence. This seeing divinity in everything, state Buttimer and Wallin, makes the Vedic foundations of Hinduism quite distinct from Animism.[194] The animistic premise sees multiplicity, power differences and competition between man and man, man and animal, as well as man and nature. The Vedic view does not see this competition, rather sees a unifying divinity that connects everyone and everything.[194][197][198]

The Hindu scriptures refer to celestial entities called Devas (or devī in feminine form; devatā used synonymously for Deva in Hindi), which may be translated into English as gods or heavenly beings.[note 17] The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through icons, and stories about them are related in the scriptures, particularly in Indian epic poetry and the Puranas. They are, however, often distinguished from Ishvara, a personal god, with many Hindus worshipping Ishvara in one of its particular manifestations as their iṣṭa devatā, or chosen ideal.[199][200] The choice is a matter of individual preference,[201] and of regional and family traditions.[201][note 18] The multitude of Devas are considered as manifestations of Brahman.[note 19]

The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature,[203] but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE.[204] Theologically, the reincarnation idea is most often associated with the avatars of Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities.[205] Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.[206] The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi are found and all goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same metaphysical Brahman[207] and Shakti (energy).[208][209] While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional.[210]

Both theistic and atheistic ideas, for epistemological and metaphysical reasons, are profuse in different schools of Hinduism. The early Nyaya school of Hinduism, for example, was non-theist/atheist,[211] but later Nyaya school scholars argued that God exists and offered proofs using its theory of logic.[212][213] Other schools disagreed with Nyaya scholars. Samkhya,[214] Mimamsa[215] and Carvaka schools of Hinduism, were non-theist/atheist, arguing that “God was an unnecessary metaphysical assumption”.[216][web 4][217] Its Vaisheshika school started as another non-theistic tradition relying on naturalism and that all matter is eternal, but it later introduced the concept of a non-creator God.[218][219] The Yoga school of Hinduism accepted the concept of a “personal god” and left it to the Hindu to define his or her god.[220] Advaita Vedanta taught a monistic, abstract Self and Oneness in everything, with no room for gods or deity, a perspective that Mohanty calls, “spiritual, not religious”.[221] Bhakti sub-schools of Vedanta taught a creator God that is distinct from each human being.[190]

According to Graham Schweig, Hinduism has the strongest presence of the divine feminine in world religion from ancient times to the present.[222] The goddess is viewed as the heart of the most esoteric Saiva traditions.[223]

Authority

Authority and eternal truths play an important role in Hinduism.[224] Religious traditions and truths are believed to be contained in its sacred texts, which are accessed and taught by sages, gurus, saints or avatars.[224] But there is also a strong tradition of the questioning of authority, internal debate and challenging of religious texts in Hinduism. The Hindus believe that this deepens the understanding of the eternal truths and further develops the tradition. Authority “was mediated through […] an intellectual culture that tended to develop ideas collaboratively, and according to the shared logic of natural reason.”[224] Narratives in the Upanishads present characters questioning persons of authority.[224] The Kena Upanishad repeatedly asks kena, ‘by what’ power something is the case.[224] The Katha Upanishad and Bhagavad Gita present narratives where the student criticizes the teacher’s inferior answers.[224] In the Shiva Purana, Shiva questions Vishnu and Brahma.[224] Doubt plays a repeated role in the Mahabharata.[224] Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda presents criticism via the character of Radha.[224]

Main traditions

A Ganesha-centric Panchayatana (“five deities”, from the Smarta tradition): Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Parvati (top right), Vishnu (bottom left) and Surya (bottom right). All these deities also have separate sects dedicated to them.

Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination or tradition.[225] Four major denominations are, however, used in scholarly studies: VaishnavismShaivismShaktism and Smartism.[226][227] These denominations differ primarily in the central deity worshipped, the traditions and the soteriological outlook.[228] The denominations of Hinduism, states Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals practicing more than one, and he suggests the term “Hindu polycentrism”.[229]

Vaishnavism is the devotional religious tradition that worships Vishnu[230] and his avatars, particularly Krishna and Rama.[231] The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic, oriented towards community events and devotionalism practices inspired by “intimate loving, joyous, playful” Krishna and other Vishnu avatars.[228] These practices sometimes include community dancing, singing of Kirtans and Bhajans, with sound and music believed by some to have meditative and spiritual powers.[232] Temple worship and festivals are typically elaborate in Vaishnavism.[233] The Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, along with Vishnu-oriented Puranas provide its theistic foundations.[234] Philosophically, their beliefs are rooted in the dualism sub-schools of Vedantic Hinduism.[235][236]

Shaivism is the tradition that focuses on Shiva. Shaivas are more attracted to ascetic individualism, and it has several sub-schools.[228] Their practices include Bhakti-style devotionalism, yet their beliefs lean towards nondual, monistic schools of Hinduism such as Advaita and Yoga.[226][232] Some Shaivas worship in temples, while others emphasize yoga, striving to be one with Shiva within.[237] Avatars are uncommon, and some Shaivas visualize god as half male, half female, as a fusion of the male and female principles (Ardhanarishvara). Shaivism is related to Shaktism, wherein Shakti is seen as spouse of Shiva.[226] Community celebrations include festivals, and participation, with Vaishnavas, in pilgrimages such as the Kumbh Mela.[238] Shaivism has been more commonly practiced in the Himalayan north from Kashmir to Nepal, and in south India.[239]

Shaktism focuses on goddess worship of Shakti or Devi as cosmic mother,[228] and it is particularly common in northeastern and eastern states of India such as Assam and Bengal. Devi is depicted as in gentler forms like Parvati, the consort of Shiva; or, as fierce warrior goddesses like Kali and Durga. Followers of Shaktism recognize Shakti as the power that underlies the male principle. Shaktism is also associated with Tantra practices.[240] Community celebrations include festivals, some of which include processions and idol immersion into sea or other water bodies.[241]

Smartism centers its worship simultaneously on all the major Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, GaneshaSurya and Skanda.[242] The Smarta tradition developed during the (early) Classical Period of Hinduism around the beginning of the Common Era, when Hinduism emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions.[243][244] The Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, and regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer, who considered worship of God-with-attributes (Saguna Brahman) as a journey towards ultimately realizing God-without-attributes (nirguna Brahman, Atman, Self-knowledge).[245][246] The term Smartism is derived from Smriti texts of Hinduism, meaning those who remember the traditions in the texts.[226][247] This Hindu sect practices a philosophical Jnana yoga, scriptural studies, reflection, meditative path seeking an understanding of Self’s oneness with God.[226][248]

There are no census data available on demographic history or trends for the traditions within Hinduism.[249] Estimates vary on the relative number of adherents in the different traditions of Hinduism. According to a 2010 estimate by Johnson and Grim, the Vaishnavism tradition is the largest group with about 641 million or 67.6% of Hindus, followed by Shaivism with 252 million or 26.6%, Shaktism with 30 million or 3.2% and other traditions including Neo-Hinduism and Reform Hinduism with 25 million or 2.6%.[250] In contrast, according to Jones and Ryan, Shaivism is the largest tradition of Hinduism.[251]

Scriptures

The Rigveda is the first and most important Veda[252] and is one of the oldest religious texts. This Rigveda manuscript is in Devanagari.

The ancient scriptures of Hinduism are in Sanskrit. These texts are classified into two: Shruti and Smriti. Hindu scriptures were composed, memorized and transmitted verbally, across generations, for many centuries before they were written down.[253][254] Over many centuries, sages refined the teachings and expanded the Shruti and Smriti, as well as developed Shastras with epistemological and metaphysical theories of six classical schools of Hinduism.

Shruti (lit. that which is heard)[255] primarily refers to the Vedas, which form the earliest record of the Hindu scriptures, and are regarded as eternal truths revealed to the ancient sages (rishis).[256] There are four Vedas – RigvedaSamavedaYajurveda and Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).[257][258][259] The first two parts of the Vedas were subsequently called the Karmakāṇḍa (ritualistic portion), while the last two form the Jñānakāṇḍa (knowledge portion, discussing spiritual insight and philosophical teachings).[260][261][262][263]

The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought, and have profoundly influenced diverse traditions.[264][265] Of the Shrutis (Vedic corpus), they alone are widely influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, and their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions.[264][266] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan states that the Upanishads have played a dominating role ever since their appearance.[267] There are 108 Muktikā Upanishads in Hinduism, of which between 10 and 13 are variously counted by scholars as Principal Upanishads.[268][269]

The most notable of the Smritis (“remembered”) are the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The epics consist of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is an integral part of the Mahabharata and one of the most popular sacred texts of Hinduism.[270] It is sometimes called Gitopanishad, then placed in the Shruti (“heard”) category, being Upanishadic in content.[271] The Puranas, which started to be composed from c. 300 CE onward,[272] contain extensive mythologies, and are central in the distribution of common themes of Hinduism through vivid narratives. The Yoga Sutras is a classical text for the Hindu Yoga tradition, which gained a renewed popularity in the 20th century.[273]

Since the 19th-century Indian modernists have re-asserted the ‘Aryan origins’ of Hinduism, “purifying” Hinduism from its Tantric elements[84] and elevating the Vedic elements. Hindu modernists like Vivekananda see the Vedas as the laws of the spiritual world, which would still exist even if they were not revealed to the sages.[274][275] In Tantric tradition, the Agamas refer to authoritative scriptures or the teachings of Shiva to Shakti,[276] while Nigamas refers to the Vedas and the teachings of Shakti to Shiva.[276] In Agamic schools of Hinduism, the Vedic literature and the Agamas are equally authoritative.[277][278]

Practices

Rituals

A wedding is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life. A typical Hindu wedding is solemnized before Vedic fire ritual (shown).[279]

Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home.[280] The rituals vary greatly among regions, villages, and individuals. They are not mandatory in Hinduism. The nature and place of rituals is an individual’s choice. Some devout Hindus perform daily rituals such as worshiping at dawn after bathing (usually at a family shrine, and typically includes lighting a lamp and offering foodstuffs before the images of deities), recitation from religious scripts, singing devotional hymns, yoga, meditation, chanting mantras and others.[281]

Vedic rituals of fire-oblation (yajna) and chanting of Vedic hymns are observed on special occasions, such as a Hindu wedding.[282] Other major life-stage events, such as rituals after death, include the yajña and chanting of Vedic mantras.[web 5]

Life-cycle rites of passage

Major life stage milestones are celebrated as sanskara (saṃskārarites of passage) in Hinduism.[283][284] The rites of passage are not mandatory, and vary in details by gender, community and regionally.[285] Gautama Dharmasutras composed in about the middle of 1st millennium BCE lists 48 sanskaras,[286] while Gryhasutra and other texts composed centuries later list between 12 and 16 sanskaras.[283][287] The list of sanskaras in Hinduism include both external rituals such as those marking a baby’s birth and a baby’s name giving ceremony, as well as inner rites of resolutions and ethics such as compassion towards all living beings and positive attitude.[286]

The major traditional rites of passage in Hinduism include[285] Garbhadhana (pregnancy), Pumsavana (rite before the fetus begins moving and kicking in womb), Simantonnayana (parting of pregnant woman’s hair, baby shower), Jatakarman (rite celebrating the new born baby), Namakarana (naming the child), Nishkramana (baby’s first outing from home into the world), Annaprashana (baby’s first feeding of solid food), Chudakarana (baby’s first haircut, tonsure), Karnavedha (ear piercing), Vidyarambha (baby’s start with knowledge), Upanayana (entry into a school rite),[288][289] Keshanta and Ritusuddhi (first shave for boys, menarche for girls), Samavartana (graduation ceremony), Vivaha (wedding), Vratas (fasting, spiritual studies) and Antyeshti (cremation for an adult, burial for a child).[290] In contemporary times, there is regional variation among Hindus as to which of these sanskaras are observed; in some cases, additional regional rites of passage such as Śrāddha (ritual of feeding people after cremation) are practiced.[285][web 6]

Bhakti (worship)

A home shrine with offerings at a regional Vishu festival (left); a priest in a temple (right).

Bhakti refers to devotion, participation in and the love of a personal god or a representational god by a devotee.[291][292] Bhakti marga is considered in Hinduism as one of many possible paths of spirituality and alternative means to moksha.[293] The other paths, left to the choice of a Hindu, are Jnana marga (path of knowledge), Karma marga (path of works), Rāja marga (path of contemplation and meditation).[294][295]

Bhakti is practiced in a number of ways, ranging from reciting mantrasjapas (incantations), to individual private prayers within one’s home shrine,[296] or in a temple or near a river bank, sometimes in the presence of an idol or image of a deity.[297][298] Hindu temples and domestic altars, states Lynn Foulston, are important elements of worship in contemporary theistic Hinduism.[299] While many visit a temple on a special occasion, most offer a brief prayer on an everyday basis at the domestic altar.[299] This bhakti is expressed in a domestic shrine which typically is a dedicated part of the home and includes the images of deities or the gurus the Hindu chooses.[299] Among Vaishnavism sub-traditions such as Swaminarayan, the home shrines can be elaborate with either a room dedicated to it or a dedicated part of the kitchen. The devotee uses this space for daily prayers or meditation, either before breakfast or after day’s work.[300][301]

Bhakti is sometimes private inside household shrines and sometimes practiced as a community. It may include PujaAarti,[302] musical Kirtan or singing Bhajan, where devotional verses and hymns are read or poems are sung by a group of devotees.[303][304] While the choice of the deity is at the discretion of the Hindu, the most observed traditions of Hindu devotionalism include Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva) and Shaktism (Shakti).[305] A Hindu may worship multiple deities, all as henotheistic manifestations of the same ultimate reality, cosmic spirit and absolute spiritual concept called Brahman in Hinduism.[306][307][note 19]

Bhakti marga, states Pechelis, is more than ritual devotionalism, it includes practices and spiritual activities aimed at refining one’s state of mind, knowing god, participating in god, and internalizing god.[308][309] While Bhakti practices are popular and easily observable aspect of Hinduism, not all Hindus practice Bhakti, or believe in god-with-attributes (saguna Brahman).[310][311] Concurrent Hindu practices include a belief in god-without-attributes, and god within oneself.[312][313]

Festivals

The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.

Hindu festivals (SanskritUtsava; literally: “to lift higher”) are ceremonies that weave individual and social life to dharma.[314][315] Hinduism has many festivals throughout the year, where the dates are set by the lunisolar Hindu calendar, many coinciding with either the full moon (Holi) or the new moon (Diwali), often with seasonal changes.[316] Some festivals are found only regionally and they celebrate local traditions, while a few such as Holi and Diwali are pan-Hindu.[316][317]

The festivals typically celebrate events from Hinduism, connoting spiritual themes and celebrating aspects of human relationships such as the Sister-Brother bond over the Raksha Bandhan (or Bhai Dooj) festival.[315][318] The same festival sometimes marks different stories depending on the Hindu denomination, and the celebrations incorporate regional themes, traditional agriculture, local arts, family get togethers, Puja rituals and feasts.[314][319]

Some major regional or pan-Hindu festivals include:

Pilgrimage

Many adherents undertake pilgrimages, which have historically been an important part of Hinduism and remain so today.[320] Pilgrimage sites are called TirthaKshetraGopitha or Mahalaya.[321][322] The process or journey associated with Tirtha is called Tirtha-yatra.[323] According to the Hindu text Skanda Purana, Tirtha are of three kinds: Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable of a sadhu, a rishi, a guru; Sthawar Tirtha is to a place immovable, like Benaras, Haridwar, Mount Kailash, holy rivers; while Manas Tirtha is to a place of mind of truth, charity, patience, compassion, soft speech, soul.[324][325] Tīrtha-yatra is, states Knut A. Jacobsen, anything that has a salvific value to a Hindu, and includes pilgrimage sites such as mountains or forests or seashore or rivers or ponds, as well as virtues, actions, studies or state of mind.[326][327]

Pilgrimage sites of Hinduism are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas.[328][329] Most Puranas include large sections on Tirtha Mahatmya along with tourist guides,[330] which describe sacred sites and places to visit.[331][332][333] In these texts, Varanasi (Benares, Kashi), RameshwaramKanchipuramDwarkaPuriHaridwarSri RangamVrindavanAyodhyaTirupatiMayapurNathdwara, twelve Jyotirlinga and Shakti Peetha have been mentioned as particularly holy sites, along with geographies where major rivers meet (sangam) or join the sea.[334][329] Kumbhamela is another major pilgrimage on the eve of the solar festival Makar Sankranti. This pilgrimage rotates at a gap of three years among four sites: Prayag Raj at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, Haridwar near source of the GangesUjjain on the Shipra river and Nasik on the bank of the Godavari river.[335] This is one of world’s largest mass pilgrimage, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event.[335][336][337] At this event, they say a prayer to the sun and bathe in the river,[335] a tradition attributed to Adi Shankara.[338]

Some pilgrimages are part of a Vrata (vow), which a Hindu may make for a number of reasons.[339][340] It may mark a special occasion, such as the birth of a baby, or as part of a rite of passage such as a baby’s first haircut, or after healing from a sickness.[341][342] It may, states Eck, also be the result of prayers answered.[341] An alternative reason for Tirtha, for some Hindus, is to respect wishes or in memory of a beloved person after his or her death.[341] This may include dispersing their cremation ashes in a Tirtha region in a stream, river or sea to honor the wishes of the dead. The journey to a Tirtha, assert some Hindu texts, helps one overcome the sorrow of the loss.[341][note 20]

Other reasons for a Tirtha in Hinduism is to rejuvenate or gain spiritual merit by traveling to famed temples or bathe in rivers such as the Ganges.[345][346][347] Tirtha has been one of the recommended means of addressing remorse and to perform penance, for unintentional errors and intentional sins, in the Hindu tradition.[348][349] The proper procedure for a pilgrimage is widely discussed in Hindu texts.[350] The most accepted view is that the greatest austerity comes from traveling on foot, or part of the journey is on foot, and that the use of a conveyance is only acceptable if the pilgrimage is otherwise impossible.[351]

Person and society

Varnas

Brahmins at Bhadrachalam Temple, in Telangana

Hindu society has been categorised into four classes, called varnas. They are the Brahmins: Vedic teachers and priests; the Kshatriyas: warriors and kings; the Vaishyas: farmers and merchants; and the Shudras: servants and labourers.[352]

The Bhagavad Gītā links the varna to an individual’s duty (svadharma), inborn nature (svabhāva), and natural tendencies (guṇa).[353] The Manusmṛiti categorises the different castes.[web 7]

Some mobility and flexibility within the varnas challenge allegations of social discrimination in the caste system, as has been pointed out by several sociologists,[354][355] although some other scholars disagree.[356] Scholars debate whether the so-called caste system is part of Hinduism sanctioned by the scriptures or social custom.[357][web 8][note 21] And various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime.[358]

renunciant man of knowledge is usually called Varnatita or “beyond all varnas” in Vedantic works. The bhiksu is advised to not bother about the caste of the family from which he begs his food. Scholars like Adi Sankara affirm that not only is Brahman beyond all varnas, the man who is identified with Him also transcends the distinctions and limitations of caste.[359]

Yoga

A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation

In whatever way a Hindu defines the goal of life, there are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Yoga is a Hindu discipline which trains the body, mind and consciousness for health, tranquility and spiritual insight. This is done through a system of postures and exercises to practise control of the body and mind.[360] Texts dedicated to Yoga include the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Yoga is means, and the four major marga (paths) discussed in Hinduism are: Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom)[361] An individual may prefer one or some yogas over others, according to his or her inclination and understanding. Practice of one yoga does not exclude others.

Symbolism

Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.

The Hindu deity Ganesha is sometimes linked to the symbol Om.[362]

Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures or cultural traditions. The syllable Om (which represents the Brahman and Atman) has grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as the Swastika sign represent auspiciousness,[363] and Tilaka (literally, seed) on forehead – considered to be the location of spiritual third eye,[364] marks ceremonious welcome, blessing or one’s participation in a ritual or rite of passage.[365] Elaborate Tilaka with lines may also identify a devotee of a particular denomination. Flowers, birds, animals, instruments, symmetric mandala drawings, objects, idols are all part of symbolic iconography in Hinduism.[366][367]

Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs

Hindus advocate the practice of ahiṃsā (nonviolence) and respect for all life because divinity is believed to permeate all beings, including plants and non-human animals.[368] The term ahiṃsā appears in the Upanishads,[369] the epic Mahabharata[370] and ahiṃsā is the first of the five Yamas (vows of self-restraint) in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.[371]

goshala or cow shelter at Guntur

In accordance with ahiṃsā, many Hindus embrace vegetarianism to respect higher forms of life. Estimates of strict lacto vegetarians in India (includes adherents of all religions) who never eat any meat, fish or eggs vary between 20% and 42%, while others are either less strict vegetarians or non-vegetarians.[372] Those who eat meat seek Jhatka (quick death) method of meat production, and dislike Halal (slow bled death) method, believing that quick death method reduces suffering to the animal.[373][374] The food habits vary with region, with Bengali Hindus and Hindus living in Himalayan regions, or river delta regions, regularly eating meat and fish.[375] Some avoid meat on specific festivals or occasions.[376] Observant Hindus who do eat meat almost always abstain from beef. The cow in Hindu society is traditionally identified as a caretaker and a maternal figure,[377] and Hindu society honours the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.[378]

There are many Hindu groups that have continued to abide by a strict vegetarian diet in modern times. Some adhere to a diet that is devoid of meat, eggs, and seafood.[379] Food affects body, mind and spirit in Hindu beliefs.[380][381] Hindu texts such as Śāṇḍilya Upanishad[382] and Svātmārāma[383][384] recommend Mitahara (eating in moderation) as one of the Yamas (virtuous self restraints). The Bhagavad Gita links body and mind to food one consumes in verses 17.8 through 17.10.[385]

Some Hindus such as those belonging to the Shaktism tradition,[386] and Hindus in regions such as Bali and Nepal[387][388] practise animal sacrifice.[387] The sacrificed animal is eaten as ritual food.[389] In contrast, the Vaishnava Hindus abhor and vigorously oppose animal sacrifice.[390][391] The principle of non-violence to animals has been so thoroughly adopted in Hinduism that animal sacrifice is uncommon[392] and historically reduced to a vestigial marginal practice.[393]

Institutions

Kauai Hindu monastery in Kauai Island in Hawaii is the only Hindu Monastery in the North American continent

Temple

Hindu temple is a house of god(s).[394] It is a space and structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, infused with symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism.[395] A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmology, the highest spire or dome representing Mount Meru – reminder of the abode of Brahma and the center of spiritual universe,[396] the carvings and iconography symbolically presenting dharmakamaarthamoksha and karma.[397][398] The layout, the motifs, the plan and the building process recite ancient rituals, geometric symbolisms, and reflect beliefs and values innate within various schools of Hinduism.[395] Hindu temples are spiritual destinations for many Hindus (not all), as well as landmarks for arts, annual festivals, rite of passage rituals, and community celebrations.[399][400]

Illustration of Hindu temples in Asia

Hindu temples come in many styles, diverse locations, deploy different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional beliefs.[401] Two major styles of Hindu temples include the Gopuram style found in south India, and Nagara style found in north India.[402][403] Other styles include cave, forest and mountain temples.[404] Yet, despite their differences, almost all Hindu temples share certain common architectural principles, core ideas, symbolism and themes.[395]

Many temples feature one or more idols (murtis). The idol and Grabhgriya in the Brahma-pada (the center of the temple), under the main spire, serves as a focal point (darsana, a sight) in a Hindu temple.[405] In larger temples, the central space typically is surrounded by an ambulatory for the devotee to walk around and ritually circumambulate the Purusa (Brahman), the universal essence.[395]

Ashrama

Traditionally the life of a Hindu is divided into four Āśramas (phases or life stages; another meaning includes monastery).[406] The four ashramas are: Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retired) and Sannyasa (renunciation).[407]

Brahmacharya represents the bachelor student stage of life. Grihastha refers to the individual’s married life, with the duties of maintaining a household, raising a family, educating one’s children, and leading a family-centred and a dharmic social life.[407] Grihastha stage starts with Hindu wedding, and has been considered as the most important of all stages in sociological context, as Hindus in this stage not only pursued a virtuous life, they produced food and wealth that sustained people in other stages of life, as well as the offsprings that continued mankind.[408] Vanaprastha is the retirement stage, where a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, took an advisory role, and gradually withdrew from the world.[409][410] The Sannyasa stage marks renunciation and a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, generally without any meaningful property or home (ascetic state), and focused on Moksha, peace and simple spiritual life.[411][412]

The Ashramas system has been one facet of the Dharma concept in Hinduism.[408] Combined with four proper goals of human life (Purusartha), the Ashramas system traditionally aimed at providing a Hindu with fulfilling life and spiritual liberation.[408] While these stages are typically sequential, any person can enter Sannyasa (ascetic) stage and become an Ascetic at any time after the Brahmacharya stage.[413] Sannyasa is not religiously mandatory in Hinduism, and elderly people are free to live with their families.[414]

Monasticism

A sadhu in Madurai, India

Some Hindus choose to live a monastic life (Sannyāsa) in pursuit of liberation (moksha) or another form of spiritual perfection.[20] Monastics commit themselves to a simple and celibate life, detached from material pursuits, of meditation and spiritual contemplation.[415] A Hindu monk is called a SanyāsīSādhu, or Swāmi. A female renunciate is called a Sanyāsini. Renunciates receive high respect in Hindu society because of their simple ahimsa-driven lifestyle and dedication to spiritual liberation (moksha) – believed to be the ultimate goal of life in Hinduism.[412] Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, depending on donated food and charity for their needs.[416]

History

Periodisation

James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817),[417] distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations.[417][418] This periodisation has been criticised for the misconceptions it has given rise to.[419] Another periodisation is the division into “ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods”.[420] An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:[13]

  • Prevedic religions (pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation; until c. 1500 BCE);
  • Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE);
  • “Second Urbanisation” (c. 500 – c. 200 BCE);
  • Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 1100 CE);[note 22]
  • Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 300 CE);
  • “Golden Age” (Gupta Empire) (c. 320 – c. 650 CE);
  • Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650 – c. 1100 CE);
  • Islam and sects of Hinduism (c. 1200 – c. 1700 CE);
  • Modern Hinduism (from c. 1800).

Origins

Hinduism is a fusion[426][note 3] or synthesis[10][note 4] of various Indian cultures and traditions.[10][note 5] Among the roots of Hinduism are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India,[427] itself already the product of “a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations”,[428][note 23] but also the Sramana[429] or renouncer traditions[96] of northeast India,[429] and mesolithic[430] and neolithic[431] cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,[432] Dravidian traditions,[433] and the local traditions[96] and tribal religions.[434][note 24]

This “Hindu synthesis” emerged after the Vedic period, between 500[10]-200[11] BCE and c. 300 CE,[10] the beginning of the “Epic and Puranic” c.q. “Preclassical” period,[10][11] and incorporated śramaṇic[11][435] and Buddhist influences[11][436] and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the Smriti literature.[437][11] From northern India this “Hindu synthesis”, and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.[438]

Prevedic religions (until c. 1500 BCE)

The earliest prehistoric religion in India that may have left its traces in Hinduism comes from mesolithic as observed in the sites such as the rock paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older,[note 25] as well as neolithic times.[note 26] Some of the religious practices can be considered to have originated in 4000 BCE. Several tribal religions still exist, though their practices may not resemble those of prehistoric religions.[web 10]

According to anthropologist Possehl, the Indus Valley Civilization “provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for some aspects of the later Hindu tradition”.[439] The religion of this period included worship of a Great male god, which is compared to a proto-Shiva, and probably a Mother Goddess, that may prefigure Shakti. However these links of deities and practices of the Indus religion to later-day Hinduism are subject to both political contention and scholarly dispute.[440]

Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE)

Origins and development

The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans,[441][note 27] lasted from c. 1500 to 500 BCE.[443][note 28] The Indo-Aryans were semi-nomadic pastoralists[445] who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.[442][446][447][note 29]

During the early Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 1100 BCE[445]) Vedic tribes were pastoralists, wandering around in north-west India.[450] After 1100 BCE the Vedic tribes moved into the western Ganges Plain, adapting an agrarian lifestyle.[445][451][452] Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-Pañcāla union was the most influential.[453][454] It was a tribal union, which developed into the first recorded state-level society in South Asia around 1000 BCE.[445] This, according to Witzel, decisively changed the Vedic heritage of the early Vedic period, collecting the Vedic hymns into collections, and shifting ritual exchange within a tribe to social exchange within the larger Kuru realm through complicated Srauta rituals.[455] In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads.[456] These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation,[456] or “Hindu synthesis”.[10]

Vedic religion

The Indo-Aryans brought with them their language[457] and religion.[458][459] The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion,[460] and the Indo-Iranian religion.[461][note 30]

The Vedic religion history is unclear and “heavily contested”, states Samuel.[468] In the later Vedic period, it co-existed with local religions, such as the mother goddess worshipping Yaksha cults.[469][web 11] The Vedic was itself likely the product of “a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations”.[428] David Gordon White cites three other mainstream scholars who “have emphatically demonstrated” that Vedic religion is partially derived from the Indus Valley Civilizations.[470][note 23] Their religion was further developed when they migrated into the Ganges Plain after c. 1100 BCE and became settled farmers,[445][472][473] further syncretising with the native cultures of northern India.[474]

The composition of the Vedic literature began in the 2nd millennium BCE.[475][476] The oldest of these Vedic texts is the Rigveda, composed between c. 1500 – 1200 BCE,[477][478][479] though a wider approximation of c. 1700 – 1100 BCE has also been given.[480][481]

The first half of the 1st millennium BCE was a period of great intellectual and social-cultural ferment in ancient India.[482][483][note 31] New ideas developed both in the Vedic tradition in the form of the Upanishads, and outside of the Vedic tradition through the Śramaṇa movements.[485][486][487] For example, prior to the birth of the Buddha and the Mahavira, and related Sramana movements, the Brahmanical tradition had questioned the meaning and efficacy of Vedic rituals,[488] then internalized and variously reinterpreted the Vedic fire rituals as ethical concepts such as Truth, Rite, Tranquility or Restraint.[489] The 9th and 8th centuries BCE witnessed the composition of the earliest Upanishads with such ideas.[489][490]:183 Other ancient Principal Upanishads were composed in the centuries that followed, forming the foundation of classical Hinduism and the Vedanta (conclusion of the Veda) literature.[491]

“Second Urbanisation” (c. 500 – c. 200 BCE)

Increasing urbanisation of India between 800 and 400 BCE, and possibly the spread of urban diseases, contributed to the rise of ascetic movements and of new ideas which challenged the orthodox Brahmanism.[492] These ideas led to Sramana movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549 – 477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563 – 483), founder of Buddhism, were the most prominent icons.[490]:184 According to Bronkhorst, the sramana culture arose in “greater Magadha,” which was Indo-European, but not Vedic. In this culture, kashtriyas were placed higher than Brahmins, and it rejected Vedic authority and rituals.[493][494] Geoffrey Samuel, following Tom Hopkins, also argues that the Gangetic plain, which gave rise to Jainism and Buddhism, incorporated a culture which was different form the Brahmanical orthodoxy practiced in the Kuru-Pancala region.[495]

The ascetic tradition of Vedic period in part created the foundational theories of samsara and of moksha (liberation from samsara), which became characteristic for Hinduism, along with Buddhism and Jainism.[note 32][496]

These ascetic concepts were adopted by schools of Hinduism as well as other major Indian religions, but key differences between their premises defined their further development. Hinduism, for example, developed its ideas with the premise that every human being has a soul (atman, self), while Buddhism developed with the premise that there is no soul or self.[497][498][499]

The chronology of these religious concepts is unclear, and scholars contest which religion affected the other as well as the chronological sequence of the ancient texts.[500][501] Pratt notes that Oldenberg (1854–1920), Neumann (1865–1915) and Radhakrishnan (1888–1975) believed that the Buddhist canon had been influenced by Upanishads, while la Vallee Poussin thinks the influence was nihil, and “Eliot and several others insist that on some points such as the existence of soul or self the Buddha was directly antithetical to the Upanishads”.[502][note 33]

Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 1100 CE)

From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or “Hindu synthesis” continued.[10] Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within Indian subcontinent, as well outside India such as in Central Asia,[504] and the parts of Southeast Asia (coasts of Indonesia and peninsular Thailand).[note 34][505]

Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 300 CE)

The “Hindu synthesis” or “Brahmanical synthesis”[10][11] incorporated Sramanic and Buddhist influences[11][436][which?] into the “Brahmanical fold” via the Smriti (“remembered”) literature.[437][11] According to Embree, several other religious traditions had existed side by side with the Vedic religion. These indigenous religions “eventually found a place under the broad mantle of the Vedic religion”.[506] The Smriti texts of the period between 200 BCE-100 CE affirmed the authority of the Vedas. The acceptance of the ideas in the Vedas and Upanishads became a central criterium for defining Hinduism, while the heterodox movements rejected those ideas.[507]

The major Sanskrit epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, which belong to the Smriti, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE.[437][web 12] These are legendary dialogues interspersed with philosophical treatises. The Bhagavad Gita was composed in this period and consolidated diverse philosophies and soteriological ideas.[508]

During this period, the foundational texts of several schools of Hindu philosophy were formally written down, including Samkhya, Yoga, NyayaVaisheshikaPurva-Mimamsa and Vedanta.[509] The Smriti literature of Hinduism, particularly the Sutras, as well as other Hindu texts such as the Arthashastra and Sushruta Samhita were also written or expanded during this period.[437][510]

Many influential Yoga Upanishads, states Gavin Flood, were composed before the 3rd century CE.[511][512] Seven Sannyasa Upanishads of Hinduism were composed between the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE and before the 3rd century CE.[513][514] All these texts describe Hindu renunciation and monastic values, and express strongly Advaita Vedanta tradition ideas. This, state Patrick Olivelle and other scholars, is likely because the monasteries of Advaita tradition of Hinduism had become well established in ancient times.[515][516][517] The first version of Natyasastra – a Hindu text on performance arts that integrates Vedic ideology – was also completed before the 2nd century CE.[518][519]

“Golden Age” (Gupta Empire) (c. 320 – c. 650 CE)

During the Gupta period, the first stone and cave Hindu temples dedicated to Hindu deities were built, some of which have survived into the modern era.[520][note 35] Numerous monasteries and universities were also built during the Gupta dynasty era, which supported Vedic and non-Vedic studies, including the famed Nalanda.[522][523]

The first version of early Puranas, likely composed between 250 and 500 CE, show continuities with the Vedic religion, but also an expanded mythology of Vishnu, Shiva and Devi (goddess).[524] The Puranas were living texts that were revised over time,[525] and Lorenzen suggests these texts may reflect the beginnings of “medieval Hinduism”.[112]

Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650 – c. 1100 CE)

After the end of the Gupta Empire, power became decentralised in India. The disintegration of central power also led to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry.[526] Rural and devotional movements arose within Hinduism, along with ShaivismVaisnavism, Bhakti and Tantra,[526] that competed with each other, as well as with numerous sects of Buddhism and Jainism.[526][527] Buddhism declined, though many of its ideas, and even the Buddha himself, were absorbed into certain Brahmanical traditions.[528]

Srauta rituals declined in India and were replaced with Buddhist and Hindu initiatory rituals for royal courts.[529] Over time, some Buddhist practices were integrated into Hinduism, monumental Hindu temples were built in South Asia and Southeast Asia,[530] while Vajrayana Buddhism literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Saivism.[531]

The first edition of many Puranas were composed in this period. Examples include Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana with legends of Krishna,[532] while Padma Purana and Kurma Purana expressed reverence for Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti with equal enthusiasm;[533] all of them included topics such as Yoga practice and pilgrimage tour guides to Hindu holy sites.[534][535] Early colonial era orientalists proposed that the Puranas were religious texts of medieval Hinduism.[536] However, modern era scholars, such as Urs App, Ronald Inden and Ludo Rocher state that this is highly misleading because these texts were continuously revised, exist in numerous very different versions and are too inconsistent to be religious texts.[536][537][538]

Bhakti ideas centered around loving devotion to Vishnu and Shiva with songs and music, were pioneered in this period by the Alvars and Nayanars of South India.[539][540] Major Hinduism scholars of this period included Adi ShankaraMaṇḍana-MiśraPadmapada and Sureśvara of the Advaita schools;[541] ŚabaraVatsyayana and Samkarasvamin of Nyaya-Vaisesika schools; Mathara and Yuktidipika (author unknown) of SamkhyaYogaBhartrhariVasugupta and Abhinavagupta of Kashmir Shaivism, and Ramanuja of Vishishtadvaita school of Hinduism (Sri Vaishnavism).[542][543][544]

Islamic rule and Bhakti movement of Hinduism (c. 1200 – c. 1750 CE)

Babur visits a Hindu temple.

The Islamic rule period witnessed Hindu-Muslim confrontation and violence,[545][546] but “violence did not normally characterize the relations of Muslim and Hindu.”[547][548] Enslavement of non-Muslims, especially Hindus in India, was part of the Muslim raids and conquests.[549][550] After the 14th century slavery become less common[551] and in 1562 “Akbar abolished the practice of enslaving the families of war captives.”[552] Akbar recognized Hinduism, protected Hindu temples, and abolished Jizya (head taxes) against Hindus.[550][553] Occasionally, Muslim rulers[who?] of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, before and after Akbar, from the 12th century to the 18th century, destroyed Hindu temples,[examples needed][554][556][note 36] and persecuted non-Muslims.

Though Islam came to Indian subcontinent in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders, it started impacting Indian religions after the 10th century, and particularly after the 12th century with the establishment and then expansion of Islamic rule.[557][558] During this period Buddhism declined rapidly, and a distinct Indo-Islamic culture emerged.[559] Under Akbar an “intriguing blend of Perso-Islamic and Rajput-Hindu traditions became manifest.”[560] Nevertheless, many orthodox ulamas (“learned Islamic jurists”) opposed the rapprochement of Hinduism and Islam,[560] and the two merely co-existed,[561] although there was more accommodation at the peasantry level of Indian society.[561]

According to Hardy, the Muslim rulers were not concerned with the number of converts, since the stability and continuity of their regime did not depend on the number of Muslims.[562] In general, religious conversion was a gradual process, with some converts attracted to pious Muslim saints, while others converted to Islam to gain tax relief, land grant, marriage partners, social and economic advancement,[563] or freedom from slavery.[564] In border regions such as the Punjab and eastern Bengal, the share of Muslims grew as large as 70% to 90% of the population, whereas in the heartland of Muslim rule, the upper Gangetic Plain, the Muslims constituted only 10 to 15% of the population.[note 37]

Between the 14th and 18th century, Hinduism was revived in certain provinces of India under two powerful states, viz. Vijayanagar and Maratha. In the 14th and 15th centuries Southern India saw the rise of the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire, which served as a barrier against invasion by the Muslim sultanates of the north, and it fostered the reconstruction of Hindu life and administration.[web 13] Vidyaranya, also known as Madhava, who was the 12th Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada Pītham from 1380–6,[565] and a minister in the Vijayanagara Empire,[566] helped establish Shankara as a rallying symbol of values, and helped spread historical and cultural influence of Shankara’s Vedanta philosophies.[567][568] The Hindu Maratha Confederacy rose to power in the 18th century and ended up overthrowing Muslim power in India[569][570]

Hinduism underwent profound changes, aided in part by teachers such as RamanujaMadhva, and Chaitanya.[571] Tantra disappeared in northern India, partly due to Muslim rule,[572] while the Bhakti movement grew, with followers engaging in emotional, passionate and community-oriented devotional worship, participating in saguna or nirguna Brahman ideologies.[573][574][575] According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and the 16th century, “certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the ‘six systems’ (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.”[116][note 38] Michaels notes that a historicization emerged which preceded later nationalism, articulating ideas which glorified Hinduism and the past.[121]

Modern Hinduism (from circa 1800)

Hindu revivalism

With the onset of the British Raj, the colonization of India by the British, there also started a Hindu Renaissance in the 19th century, which profoundly changed the understanding of Hinduism in both India and the west.[576] Indology as an academic discipline of studying Indian culture from a European perspective was established in the 19th century, led by scholars such as Max Müller and John Woodroffe. They brought Vedic, Puranic and Tantric literature and philosophy to Europe and the United States. Western orientalist searched for the “essence” of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas,[577] and meanwhile creating the notion of “Hinduism” as a unified body of religious praxis[578] and the popular picture of ‘mystical India’.[578][576] This idea of a Vedic essence was taken over by Hindu reform movements as the Brahmo Samaj, which was supported for a while by the Unitarian Church,[579] together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all religions share a common mystic ground.[580] This “Hindu modernism”, with proponents like VivekanandaAurobindo and Radhakrishnan, became central in the popular understanding of Hinduism.[581][582][583][584][83]

Popularity in the west

Influential 20th-century Hindus were Ramana MaharshiB.K.S. IyengarParamahansa YoganandaMaharishi Mahesh YogiPrabhupada (founder of ISKCON), Sri ChinmoySwami Rama and others who translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism’s foundational texts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, raising the profiles of Yoga and Vedanta in the West and attracting followers and attention in India and abroad.

Hindu practices such as Yoga, Ayurvedic health, Tantric sexuality through Neotantra and the Kama Sutra have spread beyond Hindu communities and have been accepted by several non-Hindus:

Hinduism is attracting Western adherents through the affiliated practice of yoga. Yoga centers in the West—which generally advocate vegetarianism—attract young, well-educated Westerners who are drawn by yoga’s benefits for the physical and emotional health; there they are introduced to the Hindu philosophical system taught by most yoga teachers, known as Vedanta.[585]

It is estimated that around 30 million Americans and 5 million Europeans regularly practice some form of Hatha Yoga.[586] In Australia, the number of practitioners is about 300,000.[web 14] In New Zealand the number is also around 300,000.[web 15]

Hindutva

In the 20th century, Hinduism also gained prominence as a political force and a source for national identity in India. With origins traced back to the establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha in the 1910s, the movement grew with the formulation and development of the Hindutva ideology in the following decades; the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925; and the entry, and later success, of RSS offshoots Jana Sangha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in electoral politics in post-independence India.[587] Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement.[588][note 39][note 40]

Demographics

Hinduism – Percentage by country

Hinduism is a major religion in India. Hinduism was followed by around 79.8% of the country’s population of 1.21 billion (2011 census) (960 million adherents).[web 16] Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.9 million).[593] The majority of the Vietnamese Cham people also follow Hinduism, with the largest proportion in Ninh Thuận Province.[594]

Countries with the greatest proportion of Hindus:

  1.    Nepal 81.3%[web 17]
  2.  India 79.8%[595]
  3.  Mauritius 48.5%[596]
  4.  Guyana 28.4%[web 18]
  5.  Fiji 27.9%[web 19]
  6.  Bhutan 22.6%[web 20]
  7.  Suriname 22.3%[web 21]
  8.  Trinidad and Tobago 18.2%[597]
  9.  Qatar 13.8%
  10.  Sri Lanka 12.6%[web 22]
  11.  Bahrain 9.8%
  12.  Bangladesh 8.5%[web 23]
  13.  Réunion 6.7%
  14.  United Arab Emirates 6.6%
  15.  Malaysia 6.3%[web 24]
  16.  Kuwait 6%
  17.  Oman 5.5%
  18.  Singapore 5%[web 25]

    Thaipusam procession in Singapore

  19.  New Zealand 2.62%[598]
  20.  Seychelles 2.4%[web 26]

Demographically, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.[599]

Conversion debate

In the modern era, religious conversion from and to Hinduism has been a controversial subject. Some state the concept of missionary conversion, either way, is anathema to the precepts of Hinduism.[600]

Religious conversion to Hinduism has a long history outside India. Merchants and traders of India, particularly from the Indian peninsula, carried their religious ideas, which led to religious conversions to Hinduism in southeast Asia.[601][602][603] Within India, archeological and textual evidence such as the 2nd-century BCE Heliodorus pillar suggest that Greeks and other foreigners converted to Hinduism.[604][605] The debate on proselytization and religious conversion between Christianity, Islam and Hinduism is more recent, and started in the 19th century.[606][607][note 41]

Religious leaders of some Hindu reform movements such as the Arya Samaj launched Shuddhi movement to proselytize and reconvert Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism,[611][612] while those such as the Brahmo Samaj suggested Hinduism to be a non-missionary religion.[600] All these sects of Hinduism have welcomed new members to their group, while other leaders of Hinduism’s diverse schools have stated that given the intensive proselytization activities from missionary Islam and Christianity, this “there is no such thing as proselytism in Hinduism” view must be re-examined.[600][611][613]

The appropriateness of conversion from major religions to Hinduism, and vice versa, has been and remains an actively debated topic in India,[614][615][616] and in Indonesia.[617]

See also

Uncategorized

Lumbini

Lumbini

Lumbini
लुम्बिनी
Lumbini 4.jpg

Lumbini is located in Nepal

Lumbini
Lumbini
Location of Lumbini in Nepal
Coordinates: 27°28′53″N 83°16′33″E
Country Nepal
Province Province No. 5
District Rupandehi
Municipality Lumbini Sanskritik
Government
 • Type Development trust
 • Body Lumbini Development Trust
Elevation
150 m (490 ft)
Time zone UTC+05:45 (NST)
Postal Code
32914
Area code(s) 71naresh sah
Website www.lumbinidevtrust.gov.np
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Rupandehi DistrictNepal
Criteria Cultural: iii, vi
Reference 666
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)
Area 1.95 ha
Buffer zone 22.78 ha
Coordinates Coordinates27°28′53″N 83°16′33″E

Lumbinī (Nepali and Sanskritलुम्बिनी About this soundlisten , “the lovely”) is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Province No. 5 in Nepal. It is the place where, according to Buddhist tradition, Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 563 BCE.[1][2] Gautama, who achieved Enlightenment some time around 528 BCE,[3][4] became the Buddha and founded Buddhism.[5][6][7] Lumbini is one of many magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha.

Lumbini has a number of older temples, including the Mayadevi Temple, and various new temples, funded by Buddhist organisations from various countries, have been completed or are still under construction. Many monuments, monasteries and a museum, and the Lumbini International Research Institute are also within the holy site. Also, there is the Puskarini, or Holy Pond, where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he had his first bath. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, then achieved ultimate Enlightenment and finally relinquished their earthly forms.

Lumbini was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.[1][2]

In Buddha’s time[edit]

In the Buddha’s time, Lumbini was situated in east of Kapilavastu and southwest Devadaha of Shakya, an oligarchic republic.[8][9] According to Buddhist tradition, it was there, that the Buddha was born.[10] A pillar discovered at Rupandehi in 1896 is believed to mark the spot of Ashoka‘s visit to Lumbini. The site was not known as Lumbini before the pillar was discovered.[11] The translation of Inscription reads:[12] “When King Devanampriya Priyadarsin had been anointed twenty years, he came himself and worshipped (this spot) because the Buddha Shakyamuni was born here. (He) both caused to be made a stone bearing a horse (?) and caused a stone pillar to be set up, (in order to show) that the Blessed One was born here. (He) made the village of Lummini free of taxes, and paying (only) an eighth share (of the produce).” [13] The park was previously known as Rupandehi, 2 mi (2 mi (3.2 km)) north of Bhagavanpura.

The Sutta Nipáta (vs. 683) states that the Buddha was born in a village of the Sákyans in the Lumbineyya Janapada. The Buddha stayed in Lumbinívana during his visit to Devadaha and there preached the Devadaha Sutta.[14]

Pillar of Ashoka[edit]

In 1896, General Khadga Samsher Rana and Alois Anton Führer discovered a great stone pillar at Rupandehi, according to the crucial historical records made by the ancient Chinese monk-pilgrim Xuanzang in the 7th century CE and by another ancient Chinese monk-pilgrim Faxian in the early 5th century CE. The Brahmi inscription on the pillar gives evidence that Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya Empire, visited the place in 3rd-century BCE and identified it as the birth-place of the Buddha. The inscription was translated by Paranavitana:[15][note 1]

Rummindei pillar, inscription of Ashoka
Translation
(English)
Transliteration
(original Brahmi script)
Inscription
(Prakrit in the Brahmi script)

When King Devanampriya Priyadarsin had been anointed twenty years, he came himself and worshipped (this spot) because the Buddha Shakyamuni was born here. (He) both caused to be made a stone bearing a horse (?) and caused a stone pillar to be set up, (in order to show) that the Blessed One was born here. (He) made the village of Lummini free of taxes, and paying (only) an eighth share (of the produce).

— The Rummindei Edict, one of the Minor Pillar Edicts of Ashoka.[18]

𑀤𑁂𑀯𑀸𑀦𑀁𑀧𑀺𑀬𑁂𑀦 𑀧𑀺𑀬𑀤𑀲𑀺𑀦 𑀮𑀸𑀚𑀺𑀦𑀯𑀻𑀲𑀢𑀺𑀯𑀲𑀸𑀪𑀺𑀲𑀺𑀢𑁂𑀦
Devānaṃpiyena Piyadasina lājina vīsati-vasābhisitena
𑀅𑀢𑀦𑀆𑀕𑀸𑀘 𑀫𑀳𑀻𑀬𑀺𑀢𑁂 𑀳𑀺𑀤𑀩𑀼𑀥𑁂𑀚𑀸𑀢 𑀲𑀓𑁆𑀬𑀫𑀼𑀦𑀺𑀢𑀺
atana āgāca mahīyite hida Budhe jāte Sakyamuni ti
𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸𑀯𑀺𑀕𑀥𑀪𑀺𑀘𑀸𑀓𑀸𑀳𑀸𑀧𑀺𑀢 𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸𑀣𑀪𑁂𑀘 𑀉𑀲𑀧𑀸𑀧𑀺𑀢𑁂
silā vigaḍabhī cā kālāpita silā-thabhe ca usapāpite
𑀳𑀺𑀤𑀪𑀕𑀯𑀁𑀚𑀸𑀢𑀢𑀺 𑀮𑀼𑀁𑀫𑀺𑀦𑀺𑀕𑀸𑀫𑁂 𑀉𑀩𑀮𑀺𑀓𑁂𑀓𑀝𑁂
hida Bhagavaṃ jāte ti Luṃmini-gāme ubalike kaṭe
𑀅𑀞𑀪𑀸𑀕𑀺𑀬𑁂𑀘
aṭha-bhāgiye ca

— Adapted from transliteration by E. Hultzsch,[19]

Lumbini Rummindei pillar at time of discovery in 1896, with location of the inscription, which was hidden about 1 meter under ground level.[20][21]

At the top of the pillar, there is a second inscription by king Ripumalla (13-14th century CE), who is also known from an inscription at the Nigali Sagar pillar:

Om mani padme hum May Prince Ripu Malla be long victorious

— Inscription of King Ripumalla on the Lumbini pillar of Ashoka, (13-14th century).[22]

A second pillar of Ashoka is located about 22 kilometers to the northwest of Lumbini, the Nigali Sagar pillar (with inscription), and a third one 24 kilometers to the west, the Gotihawa pillar (without inscription).

Excavation at the Mayadevi Temple in 2013[edit]

Maya devi Temple

According to Robin Coningham, excavations beneath existing brick structures at the Mayadevi Temple at Lumbini provide evidence for an older timber structure beneath the walls of a brick Buddhist shrine built during the Ashokan era (3rd-century BCE). The layout of the Ashokan shrine closely follows that of the earlier timber structure, which suggests a continuity of worship at the site. The pre-Mauryan timber structure appears to be an ancient tree shrine. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the wooden postholes and optically stimulated luminescence dating of elements in the soil suggests human activity began at Lumbini around 1000 BCE.[23] The site, states Coningham, may be a Buddhist monument from 6th-century BCE. Other scholars state that the excavations revealed nothing that is Buddhist, and they only confirm that the site predates the Buddha.[24][25]

Present-day[edit]

Mayadevi Temple and ruins of ancient monasteries in Lumbini

Lumbini is 4.8 km (3 mi) in length and 1.6 km (1.0 mi) in width. The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built, no shops, hotels or restaurants. It is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravadin monasteries, the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. There is a long water filled canal separating the western and eastern zones, with a series of brick arch bridges joining the two sides along the length. The canal is serviced by simple outboard motor boats at the north end which provides tours.

The holy site of Lumbini has ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Ashokan pillar and the Mayadevi Temple, where the supposed place of birth of Buddha is located. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.

A non-governmental organization named Samriddhi Foundation started in 2013 working extensively in the field of education and health specially in government schools of the area where underprivileged children study. A non-governmental organisation called “Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation” (APECF) backed by chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and then Prime Minister Prachanda, the Chinese government and a UN group called “United Nations Industrial Development Organization” (UNIDO) signed a deal to develop Lumbini into a “special development zone” with funds worth $3 billion.[26] The venture was a China-UN joint project. A broader ‘Lumbini Development National Director Committee’ under the leadership of Pushpa Kamal Dahal was formed on 17 October 2011.[27] The six-member committee included Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) leader Mangal Siddhi Manandhar, Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal, Forest Minister Mohammad Wakil Musalman, among other leaders. The committee was given the authority to “draft a master plan to develop Lumbini as a peaceful and tourism area and table the proposal” and the responsibility to gather international support for the same.[27]

Lumbini

Nipponzan Myohoji decided to build a Peace Pagoda in the park in 2001, which is visited by many different cultures and religions every day.

Because some Hindus regard the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu, thousands of Hindus have begun to come here on pilgrimage during the full moon of the Nepali month of Baisakh (April–May) to worship Queen Mayadevi as Rupa Devi, the mother goddess of Lumbini.

Lumbini was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1997.[1][2]

On the Nepali rupee[edit]

Nepal’s central bank has introduced a 100-rupee Nepali note featuring Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. The Nepal Rastra Bank said the new note would be accessible only during the Dashain, Nepal’s major festival in the time of September/October. It displays the portrait of Mayadevi, Gautam Buddha’s mother in silver metallic on the front. The note also has a black dot which would help the blind recognise the note. The name of the central bank in Latin script would be printed on the note along with the date of printing in both the Christian Era and the Bikram Era. The new note is being issued following a cabinet decision 27 August.[28]

Transport[edit]

Map of Lumbini in relation to other Eight Great Places Buddhist pilgrimage sites and notable nearby cities

Lumbini is a 10-hour drive from Kathmandu and a 30-minute drive from Bhairahawa. The closest airport is Gautam Buddha Airport at Bhairahawa, with flights to and from Kathmandu.[29]

The India border town of Sonauli in Maharajganj district is 1 hour drive from Lumbini and Nautanwa railway station in India is just a few kilometres away. The nearest big city is Gorakhpur, which is about 100km and is 4 hours drive from Lumbini.

Places to visit in Lumbini[edit]

New Hotel Construction in Lumbini[edit]

The nearest airport to Lumbini, that is, the Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa, is currently undergoing upgradation work. This small domestic airport is soon expected to become an international airport, with latest deadline set for 2019. The upgradation work of the airport has also caught the eye of investors and hoteliers, and a series of new hotels are being constructed now in and around Lumbini, hoping to catch in on the expected international tourist boom once the airport upgradation work is complete.[31]

Foreign visitors (2012–2014)[edit]

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
2014 8,356 17,964 20,037 6,843 2,553 2,111 2,726 14,123 7,999 16,433 21,089 12,765 132,926[32]
2013 9,371 17,869 22,581 7,101 3,654 3,552 3,621 9,685 7,351 13,610 16,483 10,618 125,496[33]
2012 6,591 20,045 20,519 8,295 1,316 1,366 2,651 17,924 7,955 13,099 21,740 14,566 136,067[33]

Gallery[edit]

See also

Uncategorized

Secularity

Secularity

Secularity (derived from the word “secular” which comes from Latin saeculum meaning “worldly”, “of a generation”, “temporal”, or a span of about 100 years)[1][2] is the state of being separate from religion, or of not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion.[3] Historically, the word secular was not related or linked to religion, but was a freestanding term in Latin which would relate to any mundane endeavour.[4] However, the term, saecula saeculorum (saeculōrum being the genitive plural of saeculum) as found in the New Testament in the Vulgate translation (circa 410) of the original Koine Greek phrase “εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων” (eis toùs aionas ton aiṓnōn), e.g. at Galatians 1:5, was used in the early Christian church (and is still used today), in the doxologies, to denote the coming and going of the ages, the grant of eternal life, and the long duration of created things from their beginning to forever and ever.[5] The idea of a dichotomy between religion and the secular originated in the European Enlightenment.[6] Furthermore, since religion and secular are both Western concepts that were formed under the influence of Christian theology, other cultures do not necessarily have words or concepts that resemble or are equivalent to them.[7] In many cultures, “little conceptual or practical distinction is made between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ phenomena” and the very notions of religious and nonreligious dissolve into unimportance,[8] nonexistence, or unawareness, especially since people have beliefs in other supernatural or spiritual things irrespective of belief in God or gods.

Conceptions of what is and what is not religion vary in contemporary East Asia as well. The shared term for “irreligion” or “no religion” (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō) with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) but not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao (shén dào) and Japanese Shinto (both meaning “ways of gods”).[a][9] In modern Japan, religion has negative connotation since it is associated with foreign belief systems so many identify as “nonreligious” (mushukyo), but this does not mean they have a complete rejection or absence of beliefs and rituals relating to supernatural, metaphysical, or spiritual things.[10] In the Meiji era, the Japanese government consciously excluded Shinto from the category of religion in order to enforce State Shinto while asserting their state followed American-mandated requirements for freedom of religion; this has fed into the contemporary Japanese experience of “secularity” as well as the government’s regulation of religious beliefs and institutions from the Meiji era into the present day.[11]

One can regard eating and bathing as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, some religious traditions see both eating and bathing as sacraments, therefore making them religious activities within those world views. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and attending a religious seminary school or monastery are examples of religious (non-secular) activities.

The “secular” is experienced in diverse ways ranging from separation of religion and state to being anti-religion or even pro-religion, depending on the culture.[12] For example, the United States has both separation of church and state and pro-religiosity in various forms such as protection of religious freedoms; France has separation of church and state (and Revolutionary France was strongly anti-religious); the Soviet Union was anti-religion; in India, people feel comfortable identifying as secular while participating in religion; and in Japan, since the concept of “religion” is not indigenous to Japan, people state they have no religion while doing what appears to be religion to Western eyes.[13]

A related term, secularism, involves the principle that government institutions and their representatives should remain separate from religious institutions, their beliefs, and their dignitaries.[citation needed] Many businesses and corporations, and some governments operate on secular lines. This stands in contrast to theocracy, government with deity as its highest authority.

 

Etymology and definitions

Secular and secularity derive from the Latin word saeculum which meant “of a generation, belonging to an age” or denoted a period of about one hundred years.[14] In the ancient world, saeculum was not defined in contrast to any sacred concerns and had a freestanding usage in Latin.[15] It was in Christian Latin of medieval times, that saeculum was used for distinguishing this temporal age of the world from the eternal realm of God.[14] The Christian doctrine that God exists outside time led medieval Western culture to use secular to indicate separation from specifically religious affairs and involvement in temporal ones.

This does not necessarily imply hostility to God or religion, though some use the term this way (see “secularism“, below); Martin Luther used to speak of “secular work” as a vocation from God for most Christians.[citation needed] According to cultural anthropologists such as Jack David Eller, secularity is best understood, not as being “anti-religious”, but as being “religiously neutral” since many activities in religious bodies are secular themselves and most versions of secularity do not lead to irreligiosity.[16]

Secularization

According to the anthropologist Jack David Eller’s review of secularity, he observes that secularization is very diverse and can vary by degree and kind. He notes the sociologist Peter Glasner’s ten institutional, normative, or cognitive processes for secularization as:[17]

  • Decline – the reduction in quantitative measures of religious identification and participation, such as lower church attendance/membership or decreased profession of belief
  • Routinization – “settling” or institutionalizing through integration into the society and often compromise with the society, which tends to occur when the religion becomes large and is therefore one mark of success as a religion, although it is less intense and distinct than in its early formative “cultish” or new-religious-movement stage
  • Differentiation – a redefined place or relation to society, perhaps accepting its status as one religion in a plural religious field or morphing into a more “generic” and therefore mass-appeal religion.
  • Disengagement – the detachment of certain facets of social life from religion
  • Transformation – change over time (Glasner cites [Max] Weber‘s analysis of Protestantism as a transformation of Christianity for a new social milieu)
  • Generalization – a particular kind of change in which it becomes less specific, more abstract, and therefore more inclusive, like the supposed “civil religion” in the United States; it moderates its more controversial and potentially divisive claims and practices
  • Desacralization – the evacuation of “supernatural” beings and forces from the material world, leaving culture and rationality to guide humans instead
  • Segmentation – the development of specialized religious institutions, which take their place beside other specialized social institutions
  • Secularization – the processes of urbanization, industrialization, rationalization, bureaucratization, and cultural/religious pluralism through which society moves away from the “sacred” and toward the “profane”
  • Secularism – the only form that leads to outright rejection of religion, amounting to atheism

Modern usage[edit]

Examples of secular used in this way include:

Related concepts

  • Secularism is an assertion or belief that religious issues should not be the basis of politics, and it is a movement that promotes those ideas (or an ideology) which hold that religion has no place in public life. French frequently uses laïcité as an equivalent idiom for sécularismeSecularist organizations are distinguished from merely secular ones by their political advocacy of such positions.
  • Laïcisme is the French word that most resembles secularism, especially in the latter’s extreme definition, as it is understood by the Catholic Church, which sets laïcisme in opposition to the allegedly far milder concept of laïcité. The correspondent word laicism (also spelled laïcism) is sometimes used in English as a synonym for secularism.
  • Laïcité is a French concept related to the separation of state and religion, sometimes rendered by the English cognate neologism laicity and also translated by the words secularity and secularization. The word laïcité is sometimes characterized as having no exact English equivalent; it is similar to the more moderate definition of secularism, but is not as ambiguous as that word.

Education

All of the state universities in the United States are secular organizations (especially because of the combined effect of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution) while some private universities are connected with the Christian or Jewish religions such as Boston CollegeEmory University, the University of Notre DameWheaton College and Yeshiva College. Other universities started as being religiously affiliated but have become more secular as time went on such as Harvard University and Yale University. The public university systems of the United KingdomAustraliaNew ZealandCanadaColombiaIndia, and Japan are also secular, although some government-funded primary and secondary schools may be religiously aligned in some countries. Exactly what is meant by religious affiliation is a complex and contested issue since the ways in which religious identity is framed is not consistent across different religious and cultural traditions.[18][page needed]

Uncategorized

Gurkha

Gurkha

Nepali soldiers of British India, by Gustave Le Bon, 1885.

Monument to the Gurkha Soldier in Horse Guards Avenue, outside the Ministry of DefenceCity of WestminsterLondon.

khukuri, the signature weapon of the Gurkhas.

Supreme commander (KajiKalu Pande of Gorkhali forces; one of the most highly decorated Gorkhali commanders.

The Gurkhas or Gorkhas (/ˈɡɜːrkə, ˈɡʊər-/) with endonym Gorkhali (Nepaliगोरखाली) are soldiers native to the Indian subcontinent of Nepalese nationality and ethnic Nepalis of Indian nationality recruited for the British ArmyNepalese ArmyIndian ArmyGurkha Contingent SingaporeGurkha Reserve Unit Brunei, UN peacekeeping force and war zones around the world. Historically, the terms “Gurkha” and “Gorkhali” were synonymous with “Nepali”,[1] which originates from the hill principality Gorkha Kingdom, from which the Kingdom of Nepal expanded under Prithivi Narayan Shah.[2][3] The name may be traced to the medieval Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath[4] who has a historic shrine in Gorkha.[5] The word itself derived from “Go-Raksha” (Nepaliगोरक्षा), “raksha” becoming “rakha” (रखा). “Rakhawala” means “protector” and is derived from “raksha” as well.

There are Gurkha military units in the NepaleseBritish and Indian armies enlisted in Nepal, United Kingdom and India. Although they meet many of the requirements of Article 47[6] of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions regarding mercenaries, they are exempt under clauses 47(e) and (f) similarly to the French Foreign Legion.[7]

Gurkhas are closely associated with the khukuri, a forward-curving Nepali knife, and have a reputation for fearless military prowess. Former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw once stated that:[8] “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”

Background[edit]

Prithvi Narayan Shah, First King of Unified Kingdom of Gorkha.

During the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16) between the Gorkha Kingdom (present-day Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) and the East India Company, the Gorkhali soldiers made an impression on the British, who called them Gurkhas.[9]

British East India Company Army[edit]

Gurkha soldiers during the Anglo-Nepalese War, 1815.

The Anglo-Nepalese war was fought between the Gurkha Kingdom of Nepal and the British East India Company as a result of border disputes and ambitious expansionism of both the belligerent parties. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.

David Ochterlony and British political agent William Fraser were among the first to recognize the potential of Gurkha soldiers in British service. During the war the British were keen to use defectors from the Gurkha army and employ them as irregular forces. His confidence in their loyalty was such that in April 1815 he proposed forming them into a battalion under Lt. Ross called the Nasiri regiment. This regiment, which later became the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles, saw action at the Malaun fort under the leadership of Lt. Lawtie, who reported to Ochterlony that he “had the greatest reason to be satisfied with their exertions”.

About 5,000 men entered British service in 1815, most of whom were not just Gorkhalis but Kumaonis, Garhwalis and other Himalayan hill men. These groups, eventually lumped together under the term Gurkha, became the backbone of British Indian forces.

As well as Ochterlony’s Gurkha battalions, Fraser and Lt. Frederick Young raised the Sirmoor battalion, later to become the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles; an additional battalion—the Kumaon—was also raised, eventually becoming the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles. None of these men fought in the second campaign.

Gurkhas served as troops under contract to the East India Company in the Pindaree War of 1817, in Bharatpur in 1826 and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1846 and 1848.[10]

During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Gurkhas fought on the British side and became part of the British Indian Army on its formation. The 8th (Sirmoor) Local Battalion made a particularly notable contribution during the conflict, and indeed 25 Indian Order of Merit awards were made to men from that regiment during the Siege of Delhi.[11]

Three days after the mutiny began, the Sirmoor Battalion was ordered to move to Meerut, where the British garrison was barely holding on, and in doing so they had to march up to 48 km a day.[12] Later, during the four-month Siege of Delhi, they defended Hindu Rao‘s house, losing 327 out of 490 men. During this action they fought side-by-side with the 60th Rifles and a strong bond developed.[13][14]

Twelve regiments from the Nepalese Army also took part in the relief of Lucknow[15] under the command of Shri Teen (3) Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal and his older brother C-in-C Ranodip Singh Kunwar (Ranaudip Singh Bahadur Rana) (later to succeed Jung Bahadur and become Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh of Nepal).

After the rebellion the 60th Rifles pressed for the Sirmoor Battalion to become a rifle regiment. This honour was granted then next year (1858) when the battalion was renamed the Sirmoor Rifle Regiment and awarded a third colour.[16] In 1863 Queen Victoria presented the regiment with the Queen’s Truncheon, as a replacement for the colours that rifle regiments do not usually have.[17]

British Indian Army (c. 1857–1947)[edit]

The Nusseree Battalion. later known as the 1st Gurkha Rifles, c. 1857.

Hindu Rao‘s house shortly after the siege

Gurkha soldiers (1896). The centre figure wears the dark green dress uniform worn by all Gurkhas in British service, with certain regimental distinctions.

From the end of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 until the start of World War I, the Gurkha Regiments saw active service in BurmaAfghanistan, the North-East Frontier and the North-West Frontiers of India, Malta (the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78), Cyprus, Malaya, China (the Boxer Rebellion of 1900) and Tibet (Younghusband’s Expedition of 1905).

After the Indian mutiny of 1857-58, the British authorities in India feared the inclusion of Hindu castes in the army. They discouraged the Brahminical influence in the military as they considered the Hindu castes more susceptible to Brahminical values.[18] As a result, they discouraged the inclusion of Thakuri and Khas groups in the Gorkha units[18] and refused to recruit tribes other than Gurungs and Magars in the Gorkha units.[19] They also pressurized Prime Minister Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana to include at least of 75% of the forces of Gurungs and Magars.[18]

Between 1901 and 1906, the Gurkha regiments were renumbered from the 1st to the 10th and re-designated as the Gurkha Rifles. In this time the Brigade of Gurkhas, as the regiments came to be collectively known, was expanded to 20 battalions within the ten regiments.[20]

2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, North-West Frontier 1923.

During World War I (1914–1918) more than 200,000 Gurkhas served in the British Army, suffering approximately 20,000 casualties and receiving almost 2,000 gallantry awards.[21] The number of Gurkha battalions was increased to 33, and Gurkha units were placed at the disposal of the British high command by the Gurkha government for service on all fronts. Many Gurkha volunteers served in non-combatant roles, serving in units such as the Army Bearer Corps and the labour battalions.

A large number also served in combat in France, Turkey, Palestine and Mesopotamia.[22] They served on the battlefields of France in the battles of LoosGivenchy and Neuve Chapelle; in Belgium at the battle of Ypres; in MesopotamiaPersiaSuez Canal and Palestine against Turkish advance, Gallipoli and Salonika.[23] One detachment served with Lawrence of Arabia, while during the Battle of Loos (June–December 1915) a battalion of the 8th Gurkhas fought to the last man, hurling themselves time after time against the weight of the German defences, and in the words of the Indian Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Sir James Willcocks, “found its Valhalla”.[24]

During the ultimately unsuccessful Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, the Gurkhas were among the first to arrive and the last to leave. The 1st/6th Gurkhas, having landed at Cape Helles, led the assault during the first major operation to take out a Turkish high point, and in doing so captured a feature that later became known as “Gurkha Bluff”.[25] At Sari Bair they were the only troops in the whole campaign to reach and hold the crest line and look down on the Straits, which was the ultimate objective.[26] The 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Gurkha Rifles (2nd/3rd Gurkha Rifles) was involved in the conquest of Baghdad.

Following the end of the war, the Gurkhas were returned to India, and during the inter-war years were largely kept away from the internal strife and urban conflicts of the sub-continent, instead being employed largely on the frontiers and in the hills where fiercely independent tribesmen were a constant source of troubles.[27]

As such, between the World Wars the Gurkha regiments fought in the Third Afghan War in 1919. The regiments then participated in numerous campaigns on the North-West Frontier, mainly in Waziristan, where they were employed as garrison troops defending the frontier. They kept the peace among the local populace and engaged with the lawless and often openly hostile Pathan tribesmen.[citation needed]

During this time the North-West Frontier was the scene of considerable political and civil unrest and troops stationed at Razmak, Bannu and Wanna saw an extensive amount of action.[28]

Gurkhas in action with a six-pounder anti-tank gun in Tunisia, 16 March 1943.

During World War II (1939–1945) there were ten Gurkha regiments, with two battalions each, making a total of 20 pre-war battalions.[29] Following the Dunkirk evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1940, the Nepalese government offered to increase recruitment to enlarge the total number of Gurkha battalions in British service to 35.[30] This would eventually rise to 43 battalions.

In order to achieve the increased number of battalions, third and fourth battalions were raised for all ten regiments, with fifth battalions also being raised for 1 GR, 2 GR and 9 GR.[29] This expansion required ten training centers to be established for basic training and regimental records across India. In addition, five training battalions (14 GR, 29 GR, 38 GR, 56 GR and 710 GR) were raised, while other units (25 GR and 26 GR) were raised as garrison battalions for keeping the peace in India and defending rear areas.[31] Large numbers of Gurkha men were also recruited for non-Gurkha units, and other specialized functions such as paratroops, signals, engineers and military police.

A total of 250,280[31] Gurkhas served in 40 battalions, plus eight Nepalese Army battalions, parachute, training, garrison and porter units during the war,[32] in almost all theatres. In addition to keeping peace in India, Gurkhas fought in SyriaNorth AfricaItalyGreece and against the Japanese in the jungles of Burmanortheast India and also Singapore.[33] They did so with considerable distinction, earning 2,734 bravery awards in the process[31] and suffering around 32,000 casualties in all theatres.[34]

Gurkha military rank system in the British Indian Army[edit]

Gurkha ranks in the British Indian Army followed the same pattern as those used throughout the rest of the Indian Army at that time.[35] As in the British Army itself, there were three distinct levels: private soldiers, non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers. Commissioned officers within the Gurkha regiments held a Viceroy’s Commission, which was distinct from the King’s or Queen’s Commission that British officers serving with a Gurkha regiment held. Any Gurkha holding a commission was technically subordinate to any British officer, regardless of rank.[36]

The 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival in Japan in May 1946 as part of the Allied forces of occupation

British Indian Army and current Indian Army ranks/current British Army equivalents[edit]

Viceroy Commissioned Officers (VCOs) up to 1947 and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) from 1947:[37]

Warrant officers

Non-commissioned officers

Private soldiers

Notes

  • British Army officers received Queen’s or King’s Commissions, but Gurkha officers in this system received the Viceroy’s Commission. After Indian independence in 1947, Gurkha officers in regiments which became part of the British Army received the King’s (later Queen’s) Gurkha Commission, and were known as King’s/Queen’s Gurkha Officers (KGO/QGO). Gurkha officers had no authority to command troops of British regiments. The QGO Commission was abolished in 2007.
  • Jemadars and subedars normally served as platoon commanders and company 2ICs but were junior to all British officers, while the subedar major was the Commanding Officer’s advisor on the men and their welfare. For a long time it was impossible for Gurkhas to progress further, except that an honorary lieutenancy or captaincy was (very rarely) bestowed upon a Gurkha on retirement.[36]
  • The equivalent ranks in the post-1947 Indian Army were (and are) known as Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs). They retained the traditional rank titles used in the British Indian Army: Jemadar (later Naib Subedar), Subedar and Subedar Major.
  • While in principle any British subject may apply for a commission without having served in the ranks, Gurkhas cannot. It was customary for a Gurkha soldier to rise through the ranks and prove his ability before his regiment would consider offering him a commission.[36]
  • From the 1920s Gurkhas could also receive King’s Indian Commissions, and later full King’s or Queen’s Commissions, which put them on a par with British officers. This was rare until after the Second World War.
  • Gurkha officers commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Short Service Officers regularly fill appointments up to the rank of major. At least two Gurkhas have been promoted to lieutenant colonel and there is theoretically now no bar to further progression.[36]
  • After 1948, the Brigade of Gurkhas (part of the British Army) was formed and adopted standard British Army rank structure and nomenclature, except for the three Viceroy Commission ranks between Warrant Officer 1 and Second Lieutenant (jemadar, subedar and subedar major) which remained, albeit with different rank titles Lieutenant (Queens Gurkha Officer), Captain (QGO) and Major (QGO). The QGO commission was abolished in 2007; Gurkha soldiers are currently commissioned as Late Entry Officers (as above).[36]

Regiments of the Gurkha Rifles (c. 1815–1947)[edit]

Princess Mary’s Own

Second World War training battalions[edit]

  • 14th Gurkha Rifles Training Battalion[38]
  • 29th Gurkha Rifles Training Battalion
  • 38th Gurkha Rifles Training Battalion[38]
  • 56th Gurkha Rifles Training Battalion[38]
  • 710th Gurkha Rifles Training Battalion[38]

Post-independence (1947–present)[edit]

THE GURKHA
SOLDIER
Bravest of the brave,
most generous of the generous,
never had country
more faithful friends
than you.
Professor Sir Ralph Turner MC[39]

After Indian independence, and the partition of India, in 1947 and under the Tripartite Agreement, the original ten Gurkha regiments consisting of the 20 pre-war battalions were split between the British Army and the newly independent Indian Army.[31] Six Gurkha regiments (12 battalions) were transferred to the post-independence Indian Army, while four regiments (eight battalions) were transferred to the British Army.[40]

To the disappointment of their British officers, the majority of Gurkhas given a choice between British or Indian Army service opted for the latter. The reason appears to have been the pragmatic one that the Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army would continue to serve in their existing roles in familiar territory and under terms and conditions that were well established.[41] The only substantial change was the substitution of Indian officers for British. By contrast, the four regiments selected for British service faced an uncertain future, initially in Malaya; a region where relatively few Gurkhas had previously served. The four regiments (or eight battalions) in British service have since been reduced to a single (two-battalion) regiment, while the Indian units have been expanded beyond their pre-Independence establishment of 12 battalions.[42]

The principal aim of the Tripartite Agreement was to ensure that Gurkhas serving under the Crown would be paid on the same scale as those serving in the new Indian Army.[43] This was significantly lower than the standard British rates of pay. While the difference is made up through cost of living and location allowances during a Gurkha’s actual period of service, the pension payable on his return to Nepal is much lower than would be the case for his British counterparts.[44]

With the abolition of the Nepalese monarchy in 2008, the future recruitment of Gurkhas for British and Indian service was initially put into doubt. A spokesperson for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which was expected to play a major role in the new secular republic, stated that recruitment as mercenaries was degrading to the Nepalese people and would be banned.[45] However, as of 2018, Gurkha recruitment for foreign service continues.

British Army Gurkhas[edit]

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2010.

Four Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army on 1 January 1948:

They formed the Brigade of Gurkhas and were initially stationed in Malaya. There were also a number of additional Gurkha regiments including the 69th and 70th Gurkha Field Squadrons, both included in the 36th Engineer Regiment. Since then, British Gurkhas have served in Borneo during the confrontation with Indonesia, in the Falklands War and on various peacekeeping missions in Sierra LeoneEast TimorBosnia and Kosovo.[46]

Gurkhas in Hong Kong:

  • 26th Gurkha Brigade (1948–1950)
  • 51st Infantry Brigade (disbanded 1976)
  • 48th Gurkha Infantry Brigade (1957–1976; renamed Gurkha Field Force 1976–1997; returned to old title 1987 – c. 1992)

As of July 2018, the Brigade of Gurkhas in the British Army has the following units:

The Brigade of Gurkhas also has its own chefs posted among the above-mentioned units. Gurkhas were among the troops who retook the Falklands in 1982 and have served a number of tours of duty in the current War in Afghanistan.[47][48][49]

Indian Army Gurkhas[edit]

The 1st Battalion of 1 Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army takes position outside a simulated combat town during a training exercise.

Upon independence in 1947, six of the original ten Gurkha regiments remained with the Indian Army.[40] These regiments were:

Additionally, a further regiment, 11 Gorkha Rifles, was raised. In 1949 the spelling was changed from “Gurkha” to the original “Gorkha”.[50] All royal titles were dropped when India became a republic in 1950.[50]

Since partition, the Gurkha regiments that were transferred to the Indian Army have established themselves as a permanent and vital part of the newly independent Indian Army. Indeed, while Britain has reduced its Gurkha contingent, India has continued to recruit Gorkhas of Nepal into Gorkha regiments in large numbers, as well as Indian Gorkhas.[42] In 2009 the Indian Army had a Gorkha contingent that numbered around 42,000 men in 46 battalions, spread across seven regiments.

Although their deployment is still governed by the 1947 Tripartite Agreement, in the post-1947 conflicts India has fought in, Gorkhas have served in almost all of them, including the wars with Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 and also against China in 1962.[51] They have also been used in peacekeeping operations around the world.[50] They have also served in Sri Lanka conducting operations against the Tamil Tigers.[52]

Singapore Gurkha Contingent[edit]

A trooper of the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force gives directions to a member of the public.

The Gurkha Contingent (GC) of the Singapore Police Force was formed on 9 April 1949 from selected ex-British Army Gurkhas. It is an integral part of the police force and was raised to replace a Sikh unit that had existed prior to the Japanese occupation during the Second World War.[53]

The GC is a well trained, dedicated and disciplined body whose principal role is as riot police. In times of crisis it can be deployed as a reaction force. During the turbulent years before and after independence, the GC acquitted itself well on several occasions during outbreaks of civil disorder. The Gurkhas displayed the courage, self-restraint and professionalism for which they are famous and earned the respect of the society at large.[53]

Brunei Gurkha Reserve Unit[edit]

The Gurkha Reserve Unit (GRU) is a special guard and elite shock-troop force in the Sultanate of Brunei. The Brunei Reserve Unit employs about 500 Gurkhas. The majority are veterans of the British Army and the Singaporean Police, who have joined the GRU as a second career.

Other[edit]

Victoria Cross recipients[edit]

There have been 26 Victoria Crosses awarded to members of the Gurkha regiments.[54] The first was awarded in 1858 and the last in 1965. For a detailed list of the recipients and their deeds, see the British Ministry of Defence website.[55] Thirteen of the recipients have been British officers serving with Gurkha regiments, although since 1915 the majority have been received by Gurkhas serving in the ranks as private soldiers or NCOs.[21] In addition, since Indian independence in 1947, Gurkhas serving in the Indian Army have also been awarded three Param Vir Chakras, which are roughly equivalent.[56]

Of note also, there have been two George Cross medals awarded to Gurkha soldiers, for acts of bravery in situations that have not involved combat.[21]

Treatment of Gurkhas in the United Kingdom[edit]

Nick Clegg being presented a Gurkha Hat by a Gurkha veteran during his Maidstone visit, to celebrate the success of their joint campaign for the right to live in the UK, 2009

The treatment of Gurkhas and their families was the subject of controversy in the United Kingdom once it became widely known that Gurkhas received smaller pensions than their British counterparts.[57] The nationality status of Gurkhas and their families was also an area of dispute, with claims that some ex-army Nepali families were being denied residency and forced to leave Britain. On 8 March 2007 the British Government announced that all Gurkhas who signed up after 1 July 1997 would receive a pension equivalent to that of their British counterparts. In addition, Gurkhas would, for the first time, be able to transfer to another army unit after five years’ service and women would also be allowed to join, although not in first-line units, conforming to the British Army’s policy. The act also guaranteed residency rights in the UK for retired Gurkhas and their families.

Despite the changes, many Gurkhas who had not served long enough to entitle them to a pension faced hardship on their return to Nepal, and some critics derided the government’s decision to only award the new pension and citizenship entitlement to those joining after 1 July 1997, claiming that this left many ex-Gurkha servicemen still facing a financially uncertain retirement. An advocacy group, Gurkha Justice Campaign,[58] joined the debate in support of the Gurkhas.

In a landmark ruling on 30 September 2008 the High Court in London decided that the Home Secretary’s policy allowing Gurkhas who left the Army before 1997 to apply for settlement in the United Kingdom was irrationally restrictive in its criteria, and overturned it. In line with the ruling of the High Court the Home Office pledged to review all cases affected by this decision.[59]

On 29 April 2009 a motion in the House of Commons by the Liberal Democrats that all Gurkhas be offered equal right of residence was passed by 267 votes to 246. This was the only first-day motion defeat for a government since 1978. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, stated that “this is an immense victory … for the rights of Gurkhas who have been waiting so long for justice, a victory for Parliament, a victory for decency.” He added that it was “the kind of thing people want this country to do”.[60]

On 21 May 2009 Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years service would be allowed to settle in the UK. Actress Joanna Lumley, daughter of Gurkha corps Maj. James Lumley who had highlighted the treatment of the Gurkhas and campaigned for their rights, commented, “This is the welcome we have always longed to give”.[61]

A charity, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, provides aid to alleviate hardship and distress among Gurkha ex-servicemen.[62]

On 9 June 2015, a celebration called the Gurkha 200, held at The Royal Hospital Chelsea and attended by members of the royal family, commemorated the bicentennial of the Gurkha Welfare Trust by paying tribute to Gurkha culture and military service.[63][better source needed]

Gurkha Square in Fleet, Hampshire, which contains the Fleet war memorial, is named after the Gurkhas.[64]

Settlement rights[edit]

A 2008 UK High Court decision on a test case in London, R. (on the application of Limbu) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWHC 2261 (Admin), acknowledged the “debt of honour” to Gurkhas discharged before 1997. The Home Secretary’s policy allowing veterans to apply on a limited set of criteria (such as connection to the United Kingdom) was quashed as being unduly restrictive. The Court found that the Gurkhas had suffered a “historic injustice” and that the policy was irrational in failing to take into account factors such as length of service or particularly meritorious conduct.[65]

See also

Uncategorized

Animism

Animism

Animism (from Latin anima, “breathspiritlife“)[1][2] is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.[3][4][5][6] Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples,[7] especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.[8]

Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, “animism” is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples’ “spiritual” or “supernatural” perspectives. The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to “animism” (or even “religion”);[9] the term is an anthropological construct.

Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to an ancestral mode of experience common to indigenous peoples around the world, or to a full-fledged religion in its own right. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, who created it as “one of anthropology‘s earliest concepts, if not the first”.[10][11]

Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world and that soul or spirit or sentience exists not only in humans, but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment: water spritesvegetation deitiestree sprites, … . Animism may further attribute a life force to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan and many contemporary Pagans).[12]

Theories[edit]

Old animism[edit]

Earlier anthropological perspectives, which have since been termed the “old animism”, were concerned with knowledge on what is alive and what factors make something alive.[13] The “old animism” assumed that animists were individuals who were unable to understand the difference between persons and things.[14] Critics of the “old animism” have accused it of preserving “colonialist and dualist worldviews and rhetoric”.[15]

Edward Tylor’s definition[edit]

Edward Tylor developed animism as an anthropological theory.

The idea of animism was developed by the anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his 1871 book Primitive Culture,[1] in which he defined it as “the general doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general”. According to Tylor, animism often includes “an idea of pervading life and will in nature”;[16] a belief that natural objects other than humans have souls. That formulation was little different from that proposed by Auguste Comte as “fetishism“,[17] but the terms now have distinct meanings.

For Tylor, animism represented the earliest form of religion, being situated within an evolutionary framework of religion which has developed in stages and which will ultimately lead to humanity rejecting religion altogether in favor of scientific rationality.[18] Thus, for Tylor, animism was fundamentally seen as a mistake, a basic error from which all religion grew.[18] He did not believe that animism was inherently illogical, but he suggested that it arose from early humans’ dreams and visions and thus was a rational system. However, it was based on erroneous, unscientific observations about the nature of reality.[19] Stringer notes that his reading of Primitive Culture led him to believe that Tylor was far more sympathetic in regard to “primitive” populations than many of his contemporaries and that Tylor expressed no belief that there was any difference between the intellectual capabilities of “savage” people and Westerners.[4]

Tylor had initially wanted to describe the phenomenon as “spiritualism” but realised that would cause confusion with the modern religion of Spiritualism, that was then prevalent across Western nations.[20] He adopted the term “animism” from the writings of the German scientist Georg Ernst Stahl,[21] who, in 1708, had developed the term animismus as a biological theory that souls formed the vital principle and that the normal phenomena of life and the abnormal phenomena of disease could be traced to spiritual causes.[22] The first known usage in English appeared in 1819.[23]

The idea that there had once been “one universal form of primitive religion” (whether labelled “animism”, “totemism”, or “shamanism”) has been dismissed as “unsophisticated” and “erroneous” by the archaeologist Timothy Insoll, who stated that “it removes complexity, a precondition of religion now, in all its variants”.[24]

Social evolutionist conceptions[edit]

Tylor’s definition of animism was a part of a growing international debate on the nature of “primitive society” by lawyers, theologians and philologists. The debate defined the field of research of a new science: anthropology. By the end of the 19th century, an orthodoxy on “primitive society” had emerged, but few anthropologists still would accept that definition. The “19th-century armchair anthropologists” argued “primitive society” (an evolutionary category) was ordered by kinship and was divided into exogamous descent groups related by a series of marriage exchanges. Their religion was animism, the belief that natural species and objects had souls. With the development of private property, the descent groups were displaced by the emergence of the territorial state. These rituals and beliefs eventually evolved over time into the vast array of “developed” religions. According to Tylor, the more scientifically advanced a society became, the fewer members of that society believed in animism. However, any remnant ideologies of souls or spirits, to Tylor, represented “survivals” of the original animism of early humanity.[25]

The term [“animism”] clearly began as an expression of a nest of insulting approaches to indigenous peoples and the earliest putatively religious humans. It was, and sometimes remains, a colonialist slur.

—Graham Harvey, 2005.[26]

In 1869 (three years after Tylor proposed his definition of animism), the Edinburgh lawyer, John Ferguson McLennan, argued that the animistic thinking evident in fetishism gave rise to a religion he named Totemism. Primitive people believed, he argued, that they were descended of the same species as their totemic animal.[17] Subsequent debate by the ‘armchair anthropologists’ (including J. J. BachofenÉmile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud) remained focused on totemism rather than animism, with few directly challenging Tylor’s definition. Indeed, anthropologists “have commonly avoided the issue of Animism and even the term itself rather than revisit this prevalent notion in light of their new and rich ethnographies.”[27]

According to the anthropologist Tim Ingold, animism shares similarities to totemism but differs in its focus on individual spirit beings which help to perpetuate life, whereas totemism more typically holds that there is a primary source, such as the land itself or the ancestors, who provide the basis to life. Certain indigenous religious groups such as the Australian Aboriginals are more typically totemic, whereas others like the Inuit are more typically animistic in their worldview.[28]

From his studies into child development, Jean Piaget suggested that children were born with an innate animist worldview in which they anthropomorphized inanimate objects, and that it was only later that they grew out of this belief.[29] Conversely, from her ethnographic research, Margaret Mead argued the opposite, believing that children were not born with an animist worldview but that they became acculturated to such beliefs as they were educated by their society.[29] Stewart Guthrie saw animism – or “attribution” as he preferred it – as an evolutionary strategy to aid survival. He argued that both humans and other animal species view inanimate objects as potentially alive as a means of being constantly on guard against potential threats.[30] His suggested explanation, however, did not deal with the question of why such a belief became central to religion.[31]

In 2000, Guthrie suggested that the “most widespread” concept of animism was that it was the “attribution of spirits to natural phenomena such as stones and trees”.[32]

The new animism[edit]

Many anthropologists ceased using the term “animism”, deeming it to be too close to early anthropological theory and religious polemic.[15] However, the term had also been claimed by religious groups – namely indigenous communities and nature worshipers – who felt that it aptly described their own beliefs, and who in some cases actively identified as “animists”.[33] It was thus readopted by various scholars, however they began using the term in a different way,[15] placing the focus on knowing how to behave toward other persons, some of whom aren’t human.[13] As the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey stated, while the “old animist” definition had been problematic, the term “animism” was nevertheless “of considerable value as a critical, academic term for a style of religious and cultural relating to the world.”[34]

Five Ojibwe chiefs in the 19th century; it was anthropological studies of Ojibwe religion that resulted in the development of the “new animism”.

The “new animism” emerged largely from the publications of the anthropologist Irving Hallowell which were produced on the basis of his ethnographic research among the Ojibwe communities of Canada in the mid-20th century.[35] For the Ojibwe encountered by Hallowell, personhood did not require human-likeness, but rather humans were perceived as being like other persons, who for instance included rock persons and bear persons.[36] For the Ojibwe, these persons were each wilful beings who gained meaning and power through their interactions with others; through respectfully interacting with other persons, they themselves learned to “act as a person”.[36] Hallowell’s approach to the understanding of Ojibwe personhood differed strongly from prior anthropological concepts of animism.[37] He emphasized the need to challenge the modernist, Western perspectives of what a person is by entering into a dialogue with different worldwide-views.[36]

Hallowell’s approach influenced the work of anthropologist Nurit Bird-David, who produced a scholarly article reassessing the idea of animism in 1999.[38] Seven comments from other academics were provided in the journal, debating Bird-David’s ideas.[39]

More recently post-modern anthropologists are increasingly engaging with the concept of animism. Modernism is characterized by a Cartesian subject-object dualism that divides the subjective from the objective, and culture from nature; in this view, Animism is the inverse of scientism, and hence inherently invalid. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour, these anthropologists question these modernist assumptions, and theorize that all societies continue to “animate” the world around them, and not just as a Tylorian survival of primitive thought. Rather, the instrumental reason characteristic of modernity is limited to our “professional subcultures,” which allows us to treat the world as a detached mechanical object in a delimited sphere of activity. We, like animists, also continue to create personal relationships with elements of the so-called objective world, whether pets, cars or teddy-bears, who we recognize as subjects. As such, these entities are “approached as communicative subjects rather than the inert objects perceived by modernists.”[40] These approaches are careful to avoid the modernist assumptions that the environment consists dichotomously of a physical world distinct from humans, and from modernist conceptions of the person as composed dualistically as body and soul.[27]

Nurit Bird-David argues that “Positivistic ideas about the meaning of ‘nature’, ‘life’ and ‘personhood’ misdirected these previous attempts to understand the local concepts. Classical theoreticians (it is argued) attributed their own modernist ideas of self to ‘primitive peoples’ while asserting that the ‘primitive peoples’ read their idea of self into others!”[27] She argues that animism is a “relational epistemology”, and not a Tylorian failure of primitive reasoning. That is, self-identity among animists is based on their relationships with others, rather than some distinctive feature of the self. Instead of focusing on the essentialized, modernist self (the “individual”), persons are viewed as bundles of social relationships (“dividuals”), some of which are with “superpersons” (i.e. non-humans).

Guthrie expressed criticism of Bird-David’s attitude toward animism, believing that it promulgated the view that “the world is in large measure whatever our local imagination makes it”. This, he felt, would result in anthropology abandoning “the scientific project”.[41]

Tim Ingold, like Bird-David, argues that animists do not see themselves as separate from their environment: “Hunter-gatherers do not, as a rule, approach their environment as an external world of nature that has to be ‘grasped’ intellectually  … indeed the separation of mind and nature has no place in their thought and practice.”[42] Willerslev extends the argument by noting that animists reject this Cartesian dualism, and that the animist self identifies with the world, “feeling at once within and apart from it so that the two glide ceaselessly in and out of each other in a sealed circuit.”[43] The animist hunter is thus aware of himself as a human hunter, but, through mimicry is able to assume the viewpoint, senses, and sensibilities of his prey, to be one with it.[44] Shamanism, in this view, is an everyday attempt to influence spirits of ancestors and animals by mirroring their behaviours as the hunter does his prey.

Cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram articulates and elaborates an intensely ethical and ecological form of animism grounded in the phenomenology of sensory experience. In his books Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram suggests that material things are never entirely passive in our direct experience, holding rather that perceived things actively “solicit our attention” or “call our focus,” coaxing the perceiving body into an ongoing participation with those things. In the absence of intervening technologies, sensory experience is inherently animistic, disclosing a material field that is animate and self-organizing from the get-go. Drawing upon contemporary cognitive and natural science, as well as upon the perspectival worldviews of diverse indigenous, oral cultures, Abram proposes a richly pluralist and story-based cosmology, in which matter is alive through and through. Such an ontology is in close accord, he suggests, with our spontaneous perceptual experience; it would draw us back to our senses and to the primacy of the sensuous terrain, enjoining a more respectful and ethical relation to the more-than-human community of animals, plants, soils, mountains, waters and weather-patterns that materially sustains us.[45] In contrast to a long-standing tendency in the Western social sciences, which commonly provide rational explanations of animistic experience, Abram develops an animistic account of reason itself. He holds that civilized reason is sustained only by an intensely animistic participation between human beings and their own written signs. Indeed, as soon as we turn our gaze toward the alphabetic letters written on a page or a screen, these letters speak to us—we ‘see what they say’—much as ancient trees and gushing streams and lichen-encrusted boulders once spoke to our oral ancestors. Hence reading is an intensely concentrated form of animism, one that effectively eclipses all of the other, older, more spontaneous forms of participation in which we once engaged. “To tell the story in this manner—to provide an animistic account of reason, rather than the other way around—is to imply that animism is the wider and more inclusive term, and that oral, mimetic modes of experience still underlie, and support, all our literate and technological modes of reflection. When reflection’s rootedness in such bodily, participatory modes of experience is entirely unacknowledged or unconscious, reflective reason becomes dysfunctional, unintentionally destroying the corporeal, sensuous world that sustains it.”[46]

The religious studies scholar Graham Harvey defined animism as the belief “that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others”.[13] He added that it is therefore “concerned with learning how to be a good person in respectful relationships with other persons”.[13] Graham Harvey, in his 2013 Handbook of Contemporary Animism, identifies the animist perspective in line with Martin Buber’s “I-thou” as opposed to “I-it”. In such, Harvey says, the Animist takes an I-thou approach to relating to his world, where objects and animals are treated as a “thou” rather than as an “it”.[47]

Religion[edit]

A tableau presenting figures of various cultures filling in mediator-like roles, often being termed as “shaman” in the literature

Animist altar, Bozo village, MoptiBandiagaraMali in 1972

There is ongoing disagreement (and no general consensus) as to whether animism is merely a singular, broadly encompassing religious belief[48] or a worldview in and of itself, comprising many diverse mythologies found worldwide in many diverse cultures.[49][50] This also raises a controversy regarding the ethical claims animism may or may not make: whether animism ignores questions of ethics altogether[51] or, by endowing various non-human elements of nature with spirituality or personhood,[52] in fact promotes a complex ecological ethics.[53]

Fetishism/totemism[edit]

In many animistic world views, the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces.[54]

Shamanism[edit]

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.[55] According to Mircea Eliade, shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.[56]

Abram, however, articulates a less supernatural and much more ecological understanding of the shaman’s role than that propounded by Eliade. Drawing upon his own field research in Indonesia, Nepal, and the Americas, Abram suggests that in animistic cultures, the shaman functions primarily as an intermediary between the human community and the more-than-human community of active agencies — the local animals, plants, and landforms (mountains, rivers, forests, winds and weather patterns, all of whom are felt to have their own specific sentience). Hence, the shaman’s ability to heal individual instances of dis-ease (or imbalance) within the human community is a by-product of her/his more continual practice of balancing the reciprocity between the human community and the wider collective of animate beings in which that community is embedded.[57]

Distinction from pantheism[edit]

Animism is not the same as pantheism, although the two are sometimes confused. Some religions are both pantheistic and animistic. One of the main differences is that while animists believe everything to be spiritual in nature, they do not necessarily see the spiritual nature of everything in existence as being united (monism), the way pantheists do. As a result, animism puts more emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual soul. In pantheism, everything shares the same spiritual essence, rather than having distinct spirits and/or souls.[58][59]

Examples[edit]

Animist life[edit]

Animals, plants, and the elements[edit]

Animism entails the belief that “all living things have a soul”, and thus a central concern of animist thought surrounds how animals can be eaten or otherwise used for humans’ subsistence needs.[67] The actions of non-human animals are viewed as “intentional, planned and purposive”,[68] and they are understood to be persons because they are both alive and communicate with others.[69] In animist world-views, non-human animals are understood to participate in kinship systems and ceremonies with humans, as well as having their own kinship systems and ceremonies.[70] Harvey cited an example of an animist understanding of animal behaviour that occurred at a powwow held by the Conne River Mi’kmaq in 1996; an eagle flew over the proceedings, circling over the central drum group. The assembled participants called out kitpu (“eagle”), conveying welcome to the bird and expressing pleasure at its beauty, and they later articulated the view that the eagle’s actions reflected its approval of the event and the Mi’kmaq’s return to traditional spiritual practices.[71]

Some animists also view plant and fungi life as persons and interact with them accordingly.[72] The most common encounter between humans and these plant and fungi persons is with the former’s collection of the latter for food, and for animists this interaction typically has to be carried out respectfully.[73] Harvey cited the example of Maori communities in New Zealand, who often offer karakia invocations to sweet potatoes as they dig the latter up; while doing so there is an awareness of a kinship relationship between the Maori and the sweet potatoes, with both understood as having arrived in Aotearoa together in the same canoes.[73] In other instances, animists believe that interaction with plant and fungi persons can result in the communication of things unknown or even otherwise unknowable.[72] Among some modern Pagans, for instance, relationships are cultivated with specific trees, who are understood to bestow knowledge or physical gifts, such as flowers, sap, or wood that can be used as firewood or to fashion into a wand; in return, these Pagans give offerings to the tree itself, which can come in the form of libations of mead or ale, a drop of blood from a finger, or a strand of wool.[74]

Various animistic cultures also comprehend stones as persons.[75] Discussing ethnographic work conducted among the Ojibwe, Harvey noted that their society generally conceived of stones as being inanimate, but with two notable exceptions: the stones of the Bell Rocks and those stones which are situated beneath trees struck by lightning, which were understood to have become Thunderers themselves.[76] The Ojibwe conceived of weather as being capable of having personhood, with storms being conceived of as persons known as ‘Thunderers’ whose sounds conveyed communications and who engaged in seasonal conflict over the lakes and forests, throwing lightning at lake monsters.[76] Wind, similarly, can be conceived as a person in animistic thought.[77]

The importance of place is also a recurring element of animism, with some places being understood to be persons in their own right.[78]

Spirits[edit]

Animism can also entail relationships being established with non-corporeal spirit entities.[79]

Other usages[edit]

Science and animism[edit]

In the early 20th century, William McDougall defended a form of Animism in his book Body and Mind: A History and Defence of Animism (1911).

The physicist Nick Herbert has argued for “quantum animism” in which mind permeates the world at every level.

The quantum consciousness assumption, which amounts to a kind of “quantum animism” likewise asserts that consciousness is an integral part of the physical world, not an emergent property of special biological or computational systems. Since everything in the world is on some level a quantum system, this assumption requires that everything be conscious on that level. If the world is truly quantum animated, then there is an immense amount of invisible inner experience going on all around us that is presently inaccessible to humans, because our own inner lives are imprisoned inside a small quantum system, isolated deep in the meat of an animal brain.[80]

Werner Krieglstein wrote regarding his quantum Animism:

Herbert’s quantum Animism differs from traditional Animism in that it avoids assuming a dualistic model of mind and matter. Traditional dualism assumes that some kind of spirit inhabits a body and makes it move, a ghost in the machine. Herbert’s quantum Animism presents the idea that every natural system has an inner life, a conscious center, from which it directs and observes its action.[81]

Ashley Curtis has argued in Error and Loss: A Licence to Enchantment[82] that the Cartesian idea of an experiencing subject facing off with an inert physical world is incoherent at its very foundation, and that this incoherence is predicted rather than belied by Darwinism. Human reason (and its rigorous extension in the natural sciences) fits an evolutionary niche just as echolocation does for bats and infrared vision does for pit vipers, and is—according to western science’s own dictates—epistemologically on a par with rather than superior to such capabilities. The meaning or aliveness of the “objects” we encounter—rocks, trees, rivers, other animals—thus depends for its validity not on a detached cognitive judgment but purely on the quality of our experience. The animist experience, and, indeed, the wolf’s or raven’s experience, thus become licensed as equally valid world-views to the modern western scientific one—indeed, they are more valid, since they are not plagued with the incoherence that inevitably crops up when “objective existence” is separated from “subjective experience.”

Socio-political impact[edit]

Harvey opined that animism’s views on personhood represented a radical challenge to the dominant perspectives of modernity, because it accords “intelligence, rationality, consciousness, volition, agency, intentionality, language and desire” to non-humans.[83] Similarly, it challenges the view of human uniqueness that is prevalent in both Abrahamic religions and Western rationalism.[84]

In art and literature[edit]

Animist beliefs can also be expressed through artwork.[85] For instance, among the Maori communities of New Zealand, there is an acknowledgment that creating art through carving wood or stone entails violence against the wood or stone person, and that the persons who are damaged therefore have to be placated and respected during the process; any excess or waste from the creation of the artwork is returned to the land, while the artwork itself is treated with particular respect.[86] Harvey therefore argued that the creation of art among the Maori was not about creating an inanimate object for display, but rather a transformation of different persons within a relationship.[87]

Harvey expressed the view that animist worldviews were present in various works of literature, citing such examples as the writings of Alan GarnerLeslie SilkoBarbara KingsolverAlice WalkerDaniel QuinnLinda HoganDavid AbramPatricia GraceChinua AchebeUrsula Le GuinLouise Erdrich, and Marge Piercy.[88] Animist worldviews have also been identified in the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki.[89][90][91][92]

See also

Uncategorized

Abhira tribe

Abhira tribe

The Abhira tribe were a people mentioned in ancient Indian epics and scriptures as early as the Vedas. A historical people of the same name are mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

Etymology

Etymologically, he who can cast fear on all sides is called a Abhira.

History

Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya says that the Abhiras are mentioned in the first-century work of classical antiquity, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. He considers them to be a race rather than a tribe.[3] Scholars such as Ramaprasad Chanda believe that they were Indo-Aryan peoples.[4] but others, such as Romila Thapar, believe them to have been indigenous.[5] The Puranic Abhiras occupied the territories of Herat; they are invariably juxtaposed with the Kalatoyakas and Haritas, the peoples of Afghanistan.[6]

According to Jayant Gadkari tribes such as Vrusni, Andhaka, Satvatas and Abhiras after a period of long conflicts came to be known as Yadavas.

There is no certainty regarding the occupational status of the Abhiras, with ancient texts sometimes referring to them as warriors, pastoral and cowherders but at other times as plundering tribes.[8]

Along with the Vrishnis, the Satvatas and the Yadavas, the Abhiras were followers of the Vedas, who worshipped Krishna, the head and preceptor of these tribes.

Connection to Ahir

According to Ganga Ram Garg, the modern-day Ahir caste are descendants of Abhira people and the term Ahir is the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit term Abhira.[10] Bhattacharya says that the terms AhirAhar and Gaoli are current forms of the word Abhira.[3] This view gets support in many writings. However, it is also said that the Ahirs do not appear to be fully representative of the ancient Abhiras.[citation needed]

M. S. A. Rao and historians such as P. M. Chandorkar and T. Padmaja have explained that epigraphical and historical evidence exists for equating the Ahirs with the ancient Abhiras and Yadava tribe.[11][12][13]

Rule of the Konkan

From 203 to 270 the Abhiras ruled over the whole of the Deccan Plateau as a paramount power. The Abhiras were the immediate successors of the Satavahanas.[14]

Abhiras of Rajputana

During the reign of Samudragupta (c. 350), the Abhiras lived in Rajputana and Malava on the western frontier of the Gupta empire. Historian Dineshchandra Sircar thinks of their original abode was the area of Abhiravan, between Herat and Kandahar, although this is disputed.[15] Their occupation of Rajasthan also at later date is evident from the Jodhpur inscription of Samvat 918 that the Abhira people of the area were a terror to their neighbours, because of their violent demeanour.[15] Abhiras of Rajputana were sturdy and regarded as Mlecchas, and carried on anti-Brahmanical activities. As a result, life and property became unsafe. Pargiter[who?] points to the Pauranic tradition that the Vrishnis and Andhakas, while retreating northwards after the Kurukshetra War from their western home in Dwarka and Gujarat, were attacked and broken up by the rude Abhiras of Rajasthan.[16]

The Abhiras did not stop in Rajasthan; some of their clans moved south and west reaching Saurashtra and Maharashtra and taking service under the Satavahana dynasty and the Western Satraps.[17] Also founded a kingdom in the northern part of the Maratha country, and an inscription of the ninth year of the Abhira king Ishwarsena.