Hinduism is an ancient Indian religious tradition and dharma, or common life. It is the third largest religion in the world, with more than 1.2 billion members, or 15 billion–including China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia–known as Hindus. Hinduism preaches a Bhakti, or vow to follow the path, which was preached by Vedas, the primary texts from ancient India. dharma is defined by Gautama Buddha, who wrote the “Vedic Book of Great Advice”, and it includes ritualistic practices that have been observed by Hindus for thousands of years. It emphasizes truth in terms of actions, emotions, thought and speech.
The term “Hindu” first appears in the Rig Veda, one of the sacred texts from Ancient India, but this title is misleading as there are many branches of hinduism, including Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism. Some of these branches of hinduism do not honor the Gurus, the religious elders who authored the Vedas. Others, such as Yoga, follow the teachings of the gurus. All of these followers worship the Hindu gods and goddesses, and follow the five hundred year old Bhakti cycle, which is performed through fire.
Hinduism is sometimes called the father of religions, as it contains within itself much of the basic structure needed for all civilizations and religions. Although the followers of Hinduism do not view themselves as God, as Abraham would to his people, they believe in Karma, the law of cause and effect, and in reincarnation. The belief in reincarnation gives a special significance to the Hindu belief in karma and the concept of dharma. A follower of Hinduism may be called a Hindu because his deeds or virtuous actions have had an effect on the universe, and his progeny will receive the blessings of that universe.