The word Hinduism originates from the Persian word "Sindhu" referring to the people who lived near the Indus River (despite what the extremely well-informed twat, has written below) The term was used to refer to the religion of the Indians (mispronounced as Hindu) and eventually adopted by the Indians themselves. The word Hinduism also appeared in medieval Sanksrit texts.
Hinduism is a product of the cultural development of the Indian Subcontinent itself and of an early Vedic religions. Hinduism encompasses seemingly all manner of religion, it is polytheistic, monotheistic or even atheist at times. It has a vast body of scriptures developed over millenia, the main ones in orthodox views, being the Vedas and the Upanishads. Hinduism contains a large number of different schools of thought, encompassing philosophy and theology. There are six major schools of Hindu philosophy each one different, some of them not originally theistic at all. One teaches the pursuit of knowledge, through meditation and spiritual connection, similar to Buddhism.
The Hindu view of God is complex as Hinduism in itself is not a cohesive religion like Christianity. However, most Hindus believe that the soul, the true self of every person is eternal. Others believe that the ultimate goal is to be one with the entity known as Brahman, the eternal and the infinite. Hinduism has often been called polytheistic since it has a pantheon. They are referred to as Devas, or roughly translated, Gods. However these are more closely in line with angels in Judeo-Christian beliefs as the ultimate entity in Hinduism is still a Supreme God. The Devas control natural phenomena and sometimes take corporeal form to help man.
Ultimately Hinduism teaches dharma, or religious living. What in the West is referred to as religion, in the Indian Religions, they are dharma, or versions of it. There is no wrong way to live, there are simply different versions.
In Hinduism, one can follow the teachings of Jesus Christ (also known as Christianity) since Jesus would be considered a wise man in many schools of Hinduism and a teacher of religious living.
Hinduism is much more philosophically based than many monotheistic religions, and does not preach an eternal Hell or Heaven, salvation, redemption, nor does it promise eternal life on Earth. Hinduism does promise, however, a different form of "eternal bliss" and end to suffering. (explained below)
Hinduism has many holy texts, but the most sacred are the Vedas and Upinashads. The Bhagavad Gita, a section of the epic Mahabarata, is sometimes referred to as the "Hindu Bible" because in this text the Lord Krishna relays the major points of the Hindu faith to Arjuna, a warrior hero.
The major beliefs of Hindus include reincarnation, karma (the belief that actions in this life will contribute to the quality of the next life. good actions yield good results, bad yields bad), and ahimsa (nonviolence to all living things). Ahimsa will help one attain good karma, which in turn will help him/her achieve a higher quality next life. The ultimate goal of the Hindu is to achieve moksha, or union with the eternal soul, Brahman. (since the ultimate goal is a union with THE eternal soul, Hinduism is fundamentally "monotheistic," the visible manifestations of God such as Vishnu and Shiva are representations of Brahman, so that the human mind can comprehend it). Union with the eternal soul can be attained through meditation and yogic practices or dedication and devotion to one's duty. Because of this need for dedication to duty, the caste system was created by Krishna to keep people focusing on their jobs; HUMANS (not God) corrupted the system and discriminated against people of "lower" castes. Hinduism also urges people to be dispassionate because attachment to worldly objects is superficial and leads only to suffering.
Today, Hinduism is practiced mainly in India and Nepal, though it is spread throughout the world including the U.K., some countries in Africa, South America, and of course in the U.S.A.
India was ruled by Muslims for 1000 years and then christians(British) for 200 years, even then Hinduism existed, thanks to the warrior clans of sikhs,marathas and rajputs. We have never tried to convert other people by force, bribe or lure, although fresh converts are welcome. The sacred texts of Hinduism are Bhagwad Gita( the word of Lord Krishna ),Ramayana( the legend of Prince Ram ), Mahabharata( the second longest epic in the world,it describes the biggest ever war in India,fought at Kurukshetra,and the lessons to learn from it) and the Vedas ( the principles of Hindu living). Major festivals are Diwali(the festival of lights, it celebrates the homecoming of Prince Ram), Dussehra( celebrated as the victory of good over evil), Holi(festival of colours), Ram Navami(birth of Prince Ram), Shiv Ratri(birth of Lord Shiva) etc.
Hindus believe in the divinity of the Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God's word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion which has neither beginning nor end.
Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, spiritual knowledge and liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny.
Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.
Hindus believe that a spiritually awakened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry and meditation. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, "noninjury."
Hindus believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine religious paths are facets of God's Pure Love and Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.
Five Obligations of all Hindus
Worship, upasana: Young Hindus are taught daily worship in the family shrine room--rituals, disciplines, chants, yogas and religious study. They learn to be secure through devotion in home and temple, wearing traditional dress, bringing forth love of the Divine and preparing the mind for serene meditation.
Holy days, utsava: Young Hindus are taught to participate in Hindu festivals and holy days in the home and temple. They learn to be happy through sweet communion with God at such auspicious celebrations. Utsava includes fasting and attending the temple on Monday or Friday and other holy days.
Virtuous living, dharma: Young Hindus are taught to live a life of duty and good conduct. They learn to be selfless by thinking of others first, being respectful of parents, elders and swamis, following divine law, especially ahimsa, mental, emotional and physical noninjury to all beings. Thus they resolve karmas.
Pilgrimage, tirthayatra: Young Hindus are taught the value of pilgrimage and are taken at least once a year for darnana of holy persons, temples and places, near or far. They learn to be detached by setting aside worldly affairs and making God, Gods and gurus life's singular focus during these journeys.
Rites of passage, samskara: Young Hindus are taught to observe the many sacraments which mark and sanctify their passages through life. They learn to be traditional by celebrating the rites of birth, name-giving, head-shaving, first feeding, ear-piercing, first learning, coming of age, marriage and death (and that my friends are the basic beliefs and obligations of hinduism)
Big up to ctonn
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of South Asia. Hinduism is often referred to as Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law") by its adherents. Generic "types" of Hinduism that attempt to accommodate a variety of complex views span folk and Vedic Hinduism to bhakti tradition, as in Vaishnavism. Hinduism also includes yogic traditions and a wide spectrum of "daily morality" based on the notion of karma and societal norms such as Hindu marriage customs.
Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. Among its roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India, and as such Hinduism is often called the "oldest living religion" or the "oldest living major tradition".
Demographically, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam, with approximately one billion adherents, of whom approximately 828 million live in the Republic of India. Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (14 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.3 million).