Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.01
A Comprehensive Study of the Ancient Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy
The Principles of Hindu Faith - an Overview of Chapters II to VII
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 03 :
The Evolution of Hindu Religion through the Ages.
The History and Evolution of the Faith over the Years
Please see below
for Lesson - 04
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Hindu Religion is the oldest religious faith in the world. It is the faith of the diverse groups of people of this area, in India, Nepal and Bali [Indonesia], over 900 million people. There are many other ancient cultures in these areas that were influenced by the Hindu faith.

It is believed to have been practiced in the Indian subcontinent, in the west Asia and Southeast Asia for over 6000 years. Western Historians, often limited by their Biblical theories, said that it originated from the cultural practices of "Aryan invaders" to the Indus valley in 2500 BC. A simple story told over the years becomes an accepted part of history.

Hindu Scholars discounted this view and say that it was present for over 7 to 10 thousand years all over India and West Asia. The ancient India had several groups of farmers and nomadic hunters. They all had many different faiths and beliefs and followed their own methods of prayer rituals. All these got assimilated with Hindu religion.

Historians always find it difficult to fix the specific dates of the origin of the faith or the time various works were written. Even the early Puranas refer to "Devas" and "Asuras" often fighting wars. It is possible these stories are based on such historical incidents. It is interesting to note that while in our mythology Devas were the good ones and Asuras were the bad, early Persians referred to their good gods as "Ahuras" and "Ahura Mazda" and bad ones as "Daevas," though all of them were also religious and prayed to God and performed rituals to Fire, like the rituals in Rig Veda.

In all these Puranas, very little information is given about the time or the name of the author. For a long time many of these works were passed on as recitation, by mouth. Later, many Rishis arranged them in proper orders. Any records of the historical dates of these events are obviously artificial, though attempts have been made to divide the period into some convenient landmarks.

 
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Lesson - 04 :
An History of the development of the Hindu Faith
When did thid faith called the Hindu Religion evolve?
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There were several tribes belonging to many racial and ethnic groups. There were two or more parallel forms of practice that were in existence. The earliest known Indian civilization is the "Indus Valley Civilization." It is said to be in the years 2500 BC or may be earlier. They worshipped many Deities. They followed a set of religious rituals and prayers in large congregations. There were many similar groups of people in other parts of ancient India, including areas of West Asia and Southeast Asia. Some of them, who were referred to as "Dravidians", prayed to Images and marker stones and in small buildings in congregations.

There were said to be several wars, invasion and occupation by many tribes of hunters and farmers. Some of them are referred to as "Aryans" in the history. Aryan means "noble" or "good". They had different religious faith and practice including some rituals around fire, in the open air and Time, rhythm and natural forces were their main object of prayers. These two forms of faiths merged over the years evolving the Vedic and Agamic forms of Hindu religious practice. However, there was never an "Aryan Invasion."

The earliest period of Indian history is called the Vedic Age, roughly starting from 2500 BC or much earlier, till 560 BC. This is again subdivided as age of Manthras, age of Brahmanas and age of Upanishads by secular historians. The second period, during the Maurian Empire from 560 BC to 200 BC, is the age of Vedanga and Kalpa Suthra.

Then from 200 BC to 300 AD, till the rise of Guptha Empire, is the age of the Epics. The period from 300 AD to 650 AD is the age of Puranas, Agamas and Dharsanas and the period 1000 AD is the age of the later Puranas. The Bhakthi movements started at this time and continued till the 18th Century. The last four centuries saw the decline and renaissance of Hindu religious practice under the Moghul and British rule.

 
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One Supreme Divine Truth known by many Forms!
One Supreme Faith also known by many Names !!
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The Supreme faith that originated in the Ancient lands of the Indian peninsula has been followed by millions of faithful devotees with all its traditions, culture and the prayers according to the Vedas, Agamas, various Saasthras and rules of Dharma. There is an underlying Basic Unity amidst all the diversity in the faith and practice.

 

Now it is referred to as Hindu Religion, and Hinduism which is better known to us as the Hindu Dharma and also known as Sanathana Dharma and as Vaidheeha Dharma. Every devotee knows that they have all called this same Supreme Faith by many different names.

 
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Chapter - 1 : An Introduction and Overview of Hinduism - Lessons 3 & 4
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 01 & 02 :~: 03 & 04 :~: 05 & 06 :~: 07 & 08 :~: 09 & 10 :~: 11 & 12 :~: 13 & 14 :~: 15 & 16 .
 
 
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