Hinduism is the most widespread religion in India. This article features information on Hinduism and Hindu religion in India.
Indian Hindus can broadly be classified into Vaishnav and Shaiv Hindus and those who are mainly Shakti worshippers and believe in Tantrik Hinduism.
Hinduism Religion - Hindus form a much larger section of the Indian population - about 82%. They believe in one Supreme Power that manifests itself in all the living creatures of the world including plants and animals and can take any shape and form. Thus, Hinduism talks of various gods and goddesses that are actually myriad forms of the same Supreme God. However, all these forms have specialized purposes, such as the Holy Trinity of Hindus consisting of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh or Shiva are known for creation of world; nurturing the world and destroyer of the world, which are deemed most important aspects to keep the world balanced. Lord Vishnu has been mentioned to incarnate himself various times to re-establish peace and happiness in the world and destroying the evils.
The consorts assigned to these Gods are quite suitable and have powers that compliment those of their husbands. Lord Brahma has Goddess Saraswati as his wife who is the goddess of learning while Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu, is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva is the goddess of marital bliss, strength, courage and power and is also worshipped as Kali or Durga. Indra, the king of demi-gods and goddesses has power over rains and clouds while Surya and Chandra Dev are Sun and Moon Gods respectively. All the natural elements such as Fire, Wind, Water and Earth have their own ruling demi-gods known as Agni Dev, Varun Dev, Vayu Dev and Prithvi respectively. Ganesh or Ganpati, the foremost of all Gods, has an elephant head and is the son of Shiva and Parvati.
Hindus can be broadly categorized into Vaishnavites, Shaivites and those who belong to Shakti cult. Vaishnavs devote themselves to Lord Vishnu while Shaivites to Lord Shiva while people of Shakti cult worship all the Goddesses as the manifestations of one Supreme Power that they call 'Ma' or Mother and is often referred to as 'Shakti'.Krishna is more worshipped in the regions near Mathura, while Rama holds region of Ayodhya and Rameshwaram. Ganesha is more worshipped in West India. Similarly, people of different trades worship different Gods. Hanuman, the powerful Ape-God, is the God of wrestlers, body builders and other people who engage in extreme sports that involves great physical strength and stamina. Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, is more worshipped by the businessmen to endow them with wealth while Brahmins, scholars, researchers and students worship Goddess Saraswati and pray to her for intellect, wisdom and learning. Hindus believe in re-incarnation of soul and the ultimate goodness can lead to 'Moksha' or salvation from the cycle of birth and death.
The four Vedas, namely, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda along with Upanishads, Puranas and epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvad Gita are the most important holy books of Hindus. The rich mythology and its characters are involved in a number of interesting events that have been instrumental in the origin of the myriad holy places of Hindus such as Badrinath, Puri, Dwarka and Rameshwaram, the holiest of all Hindu pilgrimage places along with Varanasi, Rishikesh, Nasik, Pushkar and Ujjain and shores of the holy rivers such as Godavari, Yamuna, the invisible Sarasvati and above all Ganges or 'Ganga'. Hindus have worshipped trees and animals and their environment since long.