Indian religion and mythology are closely interwoven and cannot really be separated. Moreover, both are so vast and confused that any generalization is likely to oversimplify. The earliest Indian texts are the Vedas, a series of sacred hymns in honor of the Aryan gods, who personified natural forces such as the sun, storm, fire, soma, and the like. The Vedic religion was materialistic, devoted to obtaining power, prosperity, health, and other blessings by means of ritual and sacrifice.
By the time of Buddha around 500 B.C., the old Vedic religion had been transformed by Brahmin priests into a fantastical hodgepodge, with the priests claiming godlike powers for themselves. Buddha addressed himself to the problem of human suffering and discovered a way to eliminate it through disciplined living and giving up one’s desires. He gained so many followers that the Brahmins were forced to incorporate his ideas into their teachings. The result was Hinduism, a modified polytheism with three major gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
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