Hinduism is the general term for a great variety of religions in most parts of India. Also, it is believed to be one of the most widespread and beyond a doubt the oldest established religious tradition among the ones that exist nowadays. India and Nepal are two big countries in the southern part of Asia where Hinduism is the main religion. It has been prevailing there for four millennia. Furthermore, Hinduism has over nine million believers all around the world. Nevertheless, religion is not the most accurate term for Hinduism, and it does not even have an Indian origin.
Etymology of Hinduism
As a matter of fact, this term comes from Persia. According to Sanskrit, it stands for the Indus River which is called Sindhu. Initially, the word Hindus meant inhabitants that lived not far from Indus River. However, a little bit later, the UK administration that invaded India and took it under control used this term in order to identify the religion(s) dominating in India. This interesting idea was put forward by scholars like Fuller, Larson, Hawley and Smith. They also added that the administration of Great Britain had to classify and group the territories they occupied. Thus, many religions of India were united by the term Hinduism.
Such writers like Doniger, van der Veer and Lorenzen have provided another argument worth mentioning. According to their point of view, this term was taken from the two Indian words –himsa (violence) and duramu (distant). As a result, it means the one who is far away from violence.
Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar gave an outline of what Hinduism really is. He admitted that it is very problematic or even unreal to determine what Hindu religion is and it is also very difficult to single out its relevant characteristics. In contradiction to other religious traditions in different parts of the world, Hinduism does not have only one God; it does not have any single dogma or philosophic concept; moreover, it does not stick to any fixed ceremonies or acts, etc.
As we can see, Hindu religion has many important topics to be discussed. It should also be admitted that some difficulties appear when trying to describe social and religious organizations different from what is well known to us. Those people who live in the western part of the world have different perception of religion comparing with Asians. Hinduism is an awkward attempt to give the definition to those rites, culture and beliefs common for residents of India. However, from the western perspective, it is an umbrella term but not a single religion that exists in India and Nepal.