What is Hinduism? Sanatana Dharma, otherwise known as Hinduism, means "eternal religion". Defining Hinduism may be difficult due to multiple variations of religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which have steamed from Sanatana Dharma beliefs. Instead of focusing on a direct definition of Hinduism, it might be easier to identify Hindu philosophies and key practices that make up Hindu beliefs.
Is it a religion or is it a culture? The truth is - it is both a religion and a way of life. Hinduism is also known as "Sanatana Dharma" to Hindus. Hinduism was founded and in India. India gave to the world the original, oldest and most profound philosophy of life. The brilliant ancestors of present-day Indians explored the Truth behind our existence and gave several philosophies and theories to define the Truth. At the same time, they created a set of rules for "good living" on this earth.
The philosophical concepts that Indians gave to mankind are eternal and constitute no religion by themselves. However, the rules for good or "Dharmic" living that they laid down constitute the Hindu religion. Sanatana Dharma does not have a starting point in history, does not have a founder, and has no Church. The sages who shaped the Hindu religion merely reiterated the teachings of the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures (most of which is unwritten). The Vedas are believed to have no origin. In ancient India, the Vedas formed the educational system and broadly comprised all the different spheres of life, such as spiritual, scientific, medical and so on. Having knowledge on Hinduism means understanding a lifestyle of people where Hindu originated, India. The cultures and societies in India is what helped to develop Hinduism and keep historical beliefs thriving. Hinduism is a way for cultures in India to gain Absolute Truth and is more than just a religious ritual; Hinduism is a way of life for Indian people. Since Hindu beliefs are based on Vedic literature, Hinduism is vital to the preservation of early Indian history and beliefs. The four main parts of the Veda are the Rig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sama-veda, and Atharva-veda. Hinduism is influenced by all four parts of the Veda and the Veda is held sacred in Hindu religion.
The Veda is what would be comparable to the Christian Bible or the Muslim Quran but is Hindu belief. All four parts of the Veda include separate, but related, philosophies. Since Vedic literature is vast it is important to know what the focus of the Veda is, Absolute Reality. Absolute Reality is liberation from the material world with the understanding of one's Self and what cannot be experienced through the five senses. Liberation is obtained through numerous reincarnations of the soul into other life forms until the soul is liberated from rebirths due to achieving moksha, or realization of the immortal Absolute. Desire for liberation of earthly existence is the desire to be freed of earthly despair.
The caste system, originally described...