Running Head: Hinduism: An Ancient System of Dharma
|Antilkumar Gandhi |
|Prof. Charles Fleming | |Religion & Philosophy | |HUM-400 |
Hinduism is generally regarded as the world's oldest organized religion. According to historians, the origin of Hinduism dates back to 5,000 BCE or more years. The word "Hindu" is derived from the name of the Indus River, which flows through northwestern India, (Origin of Hindu, 2008). In ancient times the river was called the "Sindhu", but the Persians who migrated to India called the river "Hindu," and the land "Stan." They called India "Hindustan" and its inhabitants "Hindus". Thus the daily life practices evolved as the religion followed by the Hindus came to be known as "Hinduism." The term generally denotes the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to the Indian subcontinent. The religion had previously been known as Sanatana dharma (the eternal law) Vaidika dharma (law of the Vedas), Arya dharma (the noble religion), or Manava dharma (the religion of mankind). Eventually the word "Hindu" came into common use among Hindus themselves and was adopted into Greek as "Indos" and "Indikos" ("Indian"), into Latin as Indianus and into Sanskrit, as Hindu (replacing "Aryan"). Later, it was also adopted in English as "Indus". [pic]
Origin of the world's oldest religion
The classical theory of the origins of Hinduism traces the religion's roots to the Indus valley civilization circa 4000 to 2200 BCE. According to this theory, the development of Hinduism was influenced by many invasions over thousands of years. The major influences occurred when light-skinned, nomadic "Aryan" Indo-European tribes invaded Northern India (circa 1500 BCE) from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia. They brought with them their religion of Vedism. These beliefs mingled with the indigenous Indian native beliefs, often called the "Indus valley culture" or "Indus valley civilization". This theory was initially proposed by Christian scholars in the 19th century. Their timeline was biased by their pre-existing belief in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The Book of Genesis, which they interpreted literally, appears to place the creation of the earth at circa 4,000 BCE, and the Noachian flood at circa 2,500 BCE. But these dates put severe constraints on the date of the "Aryan invasion," and the development of the four Vedas and Upanishad Hindu religious texts. A second factor supporting their theory was their lack of appreciation of the sophisticated nature of Vedic culture; they had discounted it as primitive. The classical theory is now being rejected by increasing numbers of archaeologists and religious historians.
In the emerging theory, the Aryan Invasion view of ancient Indian history has been challenged in recent years by new conclusions based on more recent findings in archaeology, cultural analysis, astronomical references, and literary analysis. Archaeologists, including Jim Schaffer and David Frawley, have established convincing arguments for this new interpretation. Archaeological digs have revealed that the Indus Valley culture lasted from about 3500 to 1800 BCE. It was not "destroyed by outside invasion, but it was destroyed due to internal and natural causes and, most likely, floods," (Frawley, 2008). The "dark age" that was believed to have followed the Aryan invasion may never have happened. A series of cities (Mohenjo-daro and Harappa) in India have been studied by archaeologists...
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