Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, has no beginning–it precedes recorded history. It has no human founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one. Hinduism has four main denominations–Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. there are said to be three hundred and thirty-three million Gods. Hinduism is a mixture of sects, cults and doctrines which have had a profound effect on Indian culture. In Spite of this diversity, there are few of its aspects which do not rely in some way or the other on the authority of Indian religious literature – the Vedas, the Epics and the Puranas. The Vedas, the oldest literary monument of the Indian people, a collection of hymns composed in an archaic Sanskrit, are universally considered the foundational scriptures of Hinduism. The authors of these hymns called themselves Aryans, “Noble People.” The date of the composition of these hymns and the original habitat of the Aryans have become one of the most contested issues in Indian studies. The polemical literature has reached such dimensions and the emotions have been raised to such heights that only a sketch of the controversy and some hints about its ideological background can be given in this place.
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