The Evolution of Hindu Thought
Hinduism today stands as an endless, borderless amalgam, composed as it is of innumerable sects. It also lacks a well-defined ecclesiastical organization. Its two most general features are the caste system and the acceptance of the Vedas (meaning “wisdom” or “knowledge”) as the most sacred scriptures.
Hinduism is not the strange religion it appears to be to some westerners; it is one of the oldest religions of the world and, according to a 2007 study, has about 886,279,172 adherents. Roughly 13 percent of the world's population and its followers reside in all the continents of the world.
A contemporary reader may ask, “Why is it worth learning about something as strange and far away as Hinduism?” Hinduism is also called Santana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning “the eternal law”; if that is true, then it is surely something that every human should be interested in.
Countries with sizable Hindu populations include India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America. Hinduism is not a religion that can be defined as just a religion; it is a way of life, and therefore, it is to be understood as a cultural and philosophical practice.
To understand people, one should understand people's respective religions, cultures, languages, political philosophies, ethical value systems, and so on. Unlike in the past, in the present global setting, countries and peoples are interwoven in many ways. Changes occurring in one part of the world affect the lives of other people all around the world. Hence, we need to know about others. There is no such thing as separation of religion and state in India because Hinduism encompasses all walks of life, so it is impossible to keep them apart. This pervasiveness with all the aspects of Indian life makes learning about this religion especially worthwhile.