Definition of Hinduism
(noun) A diverse belief system in South Asia, principally in India and Nepal, with distinct religious and philosophical beliefs that underlie societal and cultural norms such as the belief in reincarnation, a caste system, and the personification of a supreme being that takes numerous forms.
Examples of Hinduism
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈhɪnduˌɪzəm/
- British English – /ˈhɪnduːɪz(ə)m/
- Hinduism describes a wide range of beliefs, rituals, and values and is a “noun of convenience, or construction, encompassing, whether actively or retrospectively, the religious and cultural traditions . . . of those identified by themselves or others as ‘Hindus'” (Johnson 2009).
- The sacred writings of Hinduism include Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas.
- A type of belief system and cosmogony.
- Variant spelling: Hindooism
- A (noun) Hindu practices Hinduism.
- “If we accept that the social forms that religion takes in contemporary global society are to a large degree peculiar to that context, then it follows that assuming these forms to be historically universal would create even more confusion. This sort of projection does in fact take place quite frequently, in particular among academic and theological observers. Academics, in spite of protests to the contrary, regularly assume that so-called world religions such as Hinduism and Daoism have a long history and have existed as such at least since the first millennium B.C.E. They are not alone, however. Often theological observers from within these religions insist on similar observations” (Beyer 2003:47).
- “Hinduism describes a reality which is repeatedly made and unmade, as the god Brahma sleeps and wakes, bringing the universe into existence in his dreams. Each cycle of creation undergoes a decline from its most perfect initial stage to its eventual destruction and replacement with a new, pristine godly dream. The present age, the Kali yuga or age of Kali (the goddess of death) is the end stage of the most recent creation. It is distinguished as a time of troubles, of power and injustice, and of the breakdown of social institutions and the loss of belief. According to one version, as the end of the cycle approaches, the Earth becomes an uninhabitable wasteland, killing off most of the beings who once lived on it. Then the god Vishnu himself completes the devastation, drinking up the last waters and allowing seven suns to scorch the desiccated surface. After that, torrential rains extinguish the fires but inundate the land with floods, which is finally ripped by high winds. Only after all life is crushed and all energy expended does Vishnu again take the form of Brahma and bring a new cycle of creation into existence, which in turn will pass through thousands of ages until it too ends harshly” (Eller 2007:51–52).
- “Hinduism, unlike many other religions such as Judaeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, may be considered more a way of life because of its greater reliance on family traditions as opposed to a single unified doctrine, theology, institution and so on. The social reality does not always reflect what appears in the texts. However, Religionist scholars and Indologists generally relied far too heavily on the classical materials that are transmitted through Brahmanical texts. In discussing Hindu society, therefore, they tended to pay greater attention to notions of Varna and the fourfold division of Hindu society as mentioned in the Rig Veda Samhita and the Manusmriti (Laws of Manu)” (Penumala 2006:407).
- Religion Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “Hinduism” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Bauman, Chad, and Jennifer B. Saunders. 2009. “Out of India: Immigrant Hindus and South Asian Hinduism in the USA.” Religion Compass 3(1):116–35. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2008.00121.x.
- Kumar, P. Pratap. 2010. “Introducing Hinduism: The Master Narrative—A Critical Review of Textbooks on Hinduism.” Religious Studies Review 36(2):115–24. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0922.2010.01416.x.
- Weber, Max. 1916. The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism.
- personified supernatural force
Beyer, Peter. 2003. “Social Forms of Religion and Religions in Contemporary Global Society.” Pp. 45–60 in Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, edited by M. Dillon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Eller, Jack David. 2007. Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate. London: Routledge.
Johnson, W. J. “Hinduism.” In A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Kumar, Pratap Penumala. 2010. “Sociology of Hinduism.” Pp. 407–30 in The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, edited by B. S. Turner. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Hinduism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 22, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/hinduism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
Hinduism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/hinduism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Hinduism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 22, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/hinduism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“Hinduism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/hinduism/>.