Hinduism: More Than One Religion?

19 Sep

I find it odd that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered entirely separate, different religions, while Hinduism is considered one religion. The former three have essentially the same deity and spirits (angels and demons and such), like the different sects of Hinduism have the same deities and spirits (asuras, rakshasas, yakshis, etc). Hinduism’s primary sects are Vishnaivite, Shaivite, and Shakti: these three sects have drastically different origin myths and emphasize different deities. To Shaktis, the Mother Goddess is the first creator and is the most important deity/deities.

I suppose it boils down to labels. In the nineteenth century, British colonialists occupied India and studied the local religions and came up with the label “Hinduism” to describe all the sects that we now consider part of Hinduism. They even included Buddhism and Jainism under this blanket label, even though they’re now considered separate religions. Granted, they branched off Hinduism and have similarities, such as the belief in karma and the importance of meditation.

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