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Hindu Heritage Study Program  
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.03
Understanding the History of the Religious Faith in India
Evolution of the Beliefs and Culture over the Time of Several Millennia
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 33 :
Is this the Real Ancient History of India?
The Oldest Faith that continuously Evolved over Time
Please see below
for Lesson - 34
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Hinduism is the oldest theological faith in the world with a very long history. The history of Hinduism is looked at by different people in different perspective. Different proofs and documents are quoted for their theories. Western researchers, Indian Historians, Religious pundits and Vedic scholars all quote different time periods as the origin of Hinduism. All these views are expressed as it is in the following pages without contradicting any of them.

From ancient times there were several types of similar village faiths and rituals practiced all over South Asia and Southeast Asia. Hinduism as we know it today, started with the Vedas, believed to be as old as the creation itself, or even precedes creation, as the very breath exhaled by the Almighty Brahmam. Some 'Pundits' believe that it started from the time of the creation of the universe 2.8 billion years ago. Some Vedic scholars stretch it to the origin of human race 1.34 million years ago.

Some scholars of Vedas say that it is 50,000 years old. Most Indian historians say that it is about 10,000 years old. Western researchers and scholars of last century had held the view that it was started 6000 years back by the "Aryan invaders" of Indus Valley and that South India had a Dravidian style of religious practice.

According to some other historians who tried to soften this idea, it was practiced by the "Aryan settlers" of Indus Valley and the local community, 6000 years back. Very few scholars of Hindu religion disputed this opinion and theory for a long time. A speculative theory, repeated over the years, has been accepted as an established fact in History.

This theory is not acceptable to most of the modern Hindu historians now. Even before this time, in Indus Valley and probably all over India and Persia, we had the so-called the "Pre-Aryan" or the "Dravidian" culture as well as Vedic practice. Their religious practices included beliefs in various Deities. They also sang prayer songs in groups and worshipped in groups with rituals in a Sanctum like a Temple.

We also had the Devas and Asuras in the Puranas. Perhaps the ancient Persians, who had the Ahuras as the good ones and Daevas as the bad ones, were the Vedic Aryans on the west of Indus Valley who had wars in Indus Valley as in our Puranas!

 
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Lesson - 34 :
Origin of the Faith as Seen by different People
A Fusion of Faith and Philosophy in Practice
 
 
 

However, such a complicated and highly developed faith and philosophical idea and religious practice did not come overnight but existed for several millennia before this time in several forms. It is believed that both the so-called "Aryans" and "Dravidians" were native to India from ancient times. Hinduism was practiced in several parts of ancient India including the Ganges Valley, Central plains and Cauvery Delta. It was also practiced in several parts of the world particularly in Persia, the central Asia and Southeast Asia.

It is possible that many of the village practices and rituals of the community were modified and added to the main stream of the religious faith. The settlers to Indus Valley and the ancient Persians also practiced a similar faith with several "Vedic" gods. From ancient Vedic times, Hindus prayed with rituals and religious services offered to One God as Brahmam, the Supreme Reality. They also prayed to several "Vedic gods" in the form of natural forces like Agni (Fire), Varuna (rain), Indra and others. They also prayed to Natural Forces, Power and Energy as represented by Shakthi, the God Mother, to Time, Rhythm or Cycle as Rudra and to Universal Spirit as Purusha and other Celestial powers as in the Vedas.

As the faith and culture spread all over the land, it assimilated many local village customs to accommodate them with Vedic teachings. The worship of Kaali, Siva, Vasudeva and Varaha was seen in the earliest period of recorded history. Later, Kartikeya and Vinayaka worships also were noted. Locally various forms of Siva worship became part of Rudra. Subramanya (Murugan) in the South was accepted as Kartikeya.

Similarly Vasudeva, Varaha, Rama, Krishna, Narasimha, "Maal" in the farm lands of the South and several others represented the incarnations of Vishnu as in Agamas. The Temple worship practice and group singing of bhajans as prayer methods of the ancient rural faiths merged with the Vedic rituals of the "Aryan" faiths. Thus, according to historians, they accepted and assimilated the various faiths and practices as it existed in several parts of the land into Vedic form of Hindu beliefs. Thus many primitive village rituals got mixed with the Agamic and Vedic practice.

 
 

 

 
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Special Note:
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The recorded history of Hindu religion is often controversial.
While the ancient sages were showing important details of their message,
there was very little information that was left by them about the time period
except for some star positions as in astronomy / astrology.
 
 
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Several Western authors insisted on dating the events convenient to their ideas of their own civilization
of 5,000 years and proposed an Indus valley civilzation dated to 2,500 BC. Several Indian scholars of modern days
have not accepted these dates and show a much earler dates for the events to 6,000 BC to 10,000 BC.
 
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Chapter - 3 - A Review of the History of Hindu Traditions - Lessons 33 & 34
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 33 & 34 :~: 35 & 36 :~: 37 & 38 :~: 39 & 40 :~: 41 & 42 :~: 43 & 44 :~: 45 & 46 :~: 47 & 48 :
 
 
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