Hinduism is a broad term to describe the synthesis of spiritual, religious, and philosophical beliefs, as well as the cultural practices native to India and Nepal. As what is arguably the world’s oldest religion, the variations within Hinduism can vary by any number of factors.
Hindu people rarely refer to themselves as such. While Sanātana Dharma (the eternal law) is certainly more appropriate than the term “Hindu,” most adherents are likely to refer to their religious doctrine or denomination.
Individual canon and creed varies widely. Some of the common concepts prevalent throughout Hinduism include: dharma, or the need for right action; karma, or spiritual cause and effect; samsāra , or the cycle of reincarnation; and moksha, or liberation from reincarnation.
The practice of ahimsā, or non-violence, is also prevalent in throughout Hinduism; resulting in many adherents adopting vegetarian diets. While it may be the norm, it is a common misconception that all Hindus abstain from meat and beef. Reasons for and against eating meat can be found throughout the Vedas; collections of documents regarded by many as the foundation of the Hindu belief system.
While the reverence placed on the Vedas can vary, generally they are understood to be more revelations as opposed to divine works. The oldest of the texts, the Samhitas, may be as old as 3,700 years. Often times, the tern Vedas is used to refer not only to the four main Sanskrit texts, but also any text connected to them.
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