Indian religions

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Indian religions is a classification for religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.[1] These religions are also classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities and Indian religions are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.[1]

The documented history of Indian religions begins with historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, which were collected and later redacted into the Samhitas, four canonical collections of hymns or mantras composed in archaic Sanskrit. These texts are the central shruti (revealed) texts of Hinduism. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 1500 to 500 BCE.

The late Vedic period (9th to 6th centuries BCE) marks the beginning of the Upanisadic or Vedantic period.[2][3] This period heralded the beginning of much of what became classical Hinduism, with the composition of the Upanishads, later the Sanskrit epics, still later followed by the Puranas.

Indian philosophy is a confluence of Śramaṇic (self-reliant) and Vedic streams that co-exist and influence each other.[4] Jainism and Buddhism belong to the sramana tradition. Jainism was established by a lineage of 24 enlightened beings culminating with Parsva (9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE).[5] Buddhism was historically founded by Siddhartha Gautama, a Kshatriya prince-turned-ascetic, and was spread beyond India through missionaries. It later experienced a decline in India, but survived in Nepal and Sri Lanka, and remains more widespread in Southeast and East Asia.

Certain scholarship holds that the practices, emblems and architecture now commonly associated with the Hindu pantheon and Jainism may go back as far as Late Harappan times to the period 2000-1500 BCE.[6][7]

Hinduism is divided into numerous denominations, primarily Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smarta and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta. Hindu reform movements such as Ayyavazhi are more recent. About 90% of Hindus reside in the Republic of India, accounting for 83% of its population.[8]

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