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Hinduism is the dominant religion, or way of life,Unknown extension tag "ref" in South Asia, most notably in India and Nepal. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is a family of linked religious cultures bound by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites and the questioning of authority.<ref name=frazierintrop2>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} among others, each with an interwoven diversity of beliefs and practices.<ref name=frazierintrop2/><ref>Lance Nelson (2007), An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Editors: Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff), Liturgical Press, ISBN 978-0814658567, pages 561-563</ref> With approximately one billion followers,<ref group=web>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Hinduism is the world's third largest religion by population, after Christianity and Islam.

Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world,Unknown extension tag "ref" and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal law" or the "eternal way"<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}; {{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}; {{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref> beyond human origins.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusionUnknown extension tag "ref" or synthesis{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}Unknown extension tag "ref" of various Indian cultures and traditions,<ref name="Hiltebeitel 2007 12">{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}; {{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}; {{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref>Unknown extension tag "ref" with diverse roots{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}Unknown extension tag "ref" and no founder.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE,{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} after the Vedic times.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}}{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others.<ref group=web name="EB-sanatana dharma" /><ref>PV Kane, Samanya Dharma, History of Dharmasastra, Vol. 2, Part 1, pages 4-5;
Alban Widgery, The Principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 40, No. 2, pages 232-245</ref>

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to), the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma (ethics/duties), Artha (prosperity/work), Kama (emotions/sexuality) and Moksha (liberation/freedom);<ref name="Bilimoria 2007 p. 103">Bilimoria et al. (eds.), Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges (2007), p. 103; see also John Koller, Puruṣārtha as Human Aims, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Oct., 1968), pp. 315-319</ref><ref name="Gavin Flood 1997 pages 11">Gavin Flood (1997), "The Meaning and Context of the Puruṣārthas", In The Bhagavadgītā for Our Times (Editor: Julius J. Lipner), Oxford University Press, pages 11–27, ISBN 978-0195650396</ref> karma (action, intent and consequences), samsara (cycle of rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha).<ref>Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791470824, pages 173-180</ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa (ascetic practices) to achieve moksha.<ref>A Bhattacharya (2009), Applied Ethics, Center for Applied Ethics and Philosophy, Hokkaido University, ISBN 978-4990404611, pages 63-64</ref><ref>Andrew Fort and Patricia Mumme (1996), Living Liberation in Hindu Thought, ISBN 978-0-7914-2706-4</ref>

Hindu texts are classified into Shruti ("heard") and Smriti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga and agamic rituals and temple building, among other topics.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Agamas.<ref>RC Zaehner (1992), Hindu Scriptures, Penguin Random House, ISBN 978-0679410782, pages 1-7</ref><ref>Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791470824, pages 46-52, 76-77</ref>

Hinduism sections
Intro  Etymology  Definitions  Diversity and unity  Beliefs  Scriptures  Practices  Person and society  Denominations  Institutions  History  Demographics  See also  Notes  References  Sources  Further reading  External links  

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