Now what if that steak you’re eating were your grandmother reincarnated? If you’re going to worship gods they may as well be blue and have four arms…
Hinduism is probably the hardest religion of all to pin down. In fact, try and find two Hindus who believe exactly the same thing and you’ll be doing well. The name Hinduism was invented by the British after the River Indus. It is perhaps best an umbrella term to describe the overall beliefs and practices of India rather than an organized religion. Today there are around 930 million Hindus in the world.
The beliefs and even the gods in India have changed drastically over the years with each new invasion. Hinduism is like a river into which new streams are constantly flowing and absorbed.
No one agrees on the exact dates but there were fertility rites taking place around rivers and phallic symbols since around the 8th century bc.
Then the Aryan invaders arrived from the Baltic Sea and they brought their own nature beliefs with them. Over time the two mingled and the world’s oldest religious scripts, the Vedas, were told in an oral tradition that was eventually put in print around the 3rd century B.C. The Aryans also brought the caste system.
Hinduism gave birth to Jainism and Buddhism which could be seen as breakaway movements from the former in 600-44 bc. Buddhism in particular spread far and wide for a few centuries but eventually a Hindu revival absorbed it. Buddha was declared to be an incarnation of Vishnu, a god gaining in popularity.
Hinduism continued to change, evolve and mutate with changing social conditions and new migrations though none challenged it as much as the arrival of Islam . The Turks invaded in the 17th century and perceived the Hindus to be polytheistic and idolatrous. They wouldn’t have that but found the Indians too slippery to convert. They built mosques on top of temples and sewed the seeds of discord for conflicts in Kashmir and elsewhere continue until the present day.