Thursday, February 26, 2009
Hinduism is often referred to as Sanātana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law", by its practitioners.
Hindu beliefs vary widely, with concepts of God and/or gods ranging from Panentheism, pantheism, monotheism, polytheism, and atheism with Vishnu and Shiva being the most popular deities. Other notable characteristics include a belief in reincarnation and karma, as well as personal duty, or dharma.
Among its roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India, and as such Hinduism is often stated to be the "oldest religious tradition" or "oldest living major tradition." I
t is formed of diverse traditions and types and has no single founder. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion after Christianity and Islam, with approximately a billion adherents, of whom about 905 million live in India. Other countries with large Hindu populations can be found across southern Asia.