How Do You Describe Hinduism?

Hinduism is a collection of traditions and beliefs based on a pantheon comprised of several hundred gods and goddesses. Although it is often referenced as a religion, a lack of a central set of ideas makes it more of a philosophy.

Hinduism began in India, though no one knows exactly when or how. Traditionally, scholars have credited Hinduism as an evolution from the Aryan religion, but no conclusive evidence has ever been discovered to confirm the theory.

For the most part, Hinduism is simply the application of a set of values that places its adherents on a path of self-discovery. This path of self-discovery may take several lifetimes and a person's position and incarnations in each life are determined by karma, which is the energy that attaches itself to humans based on how people think and behave. Eventually, each person finds his true self and is united with the one true being.

The teachings of Hinduism are based upon the Vedas and Brahmans, though not every Hindu accepts both. Hindus also often differ on which god within the pantheon is supreme. Beliefs and practices often vary based upon to whom practitioners subscribe as the supreme being. To make matters even more complicated, many of the gods within the Hindu pantheon have more than one identity. More than two-thirds of the population of India practices some form of Hinduism.