Indian religions

Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; these are Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.[web 1][note 1] These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.[web 1]

Indian religions by number of followers (2020 survey)[1][2][3][4][5]
Religion Population
Hindus () 1.2 billion
Buddhists () 520 million
Sikhs () 30 million
Jains () 6 million
Others 4 million
Total 1.76 billion

Indian religions as a percentage of world population

  Hinduism (15%)
  Buddhism (7.1%)
  Sikhism (0.35%)
  Jainism (0.06%)
  Other (77.49%)

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings. The Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE (mature period 2600–1900 BCE), had an early urbanized culture which predates the Vedic religion.[6][better source needed]

The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians, which were collected and later redacted into the Vedas. The period of the composition, redaction, and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 1750 to 500 BCE.[7] The philosophical portions of the Vedas were summarized[weasel words] in Upanishads, which are commonly referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda".[8] The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five[note 2] of the eleven principal Upanishads were composed in all likelihood before 6th century BCE,[9][10] and contain the earliest mentions of Yoga and Moksha.[11]

The Shramanic Period between 800 and 200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic Hinduism and Puranic Hinduism".[12] The Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic tradition, often defied many of the Vedic and Upanishadic concepts of soul (Atman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman). In 6th century BCE, the Shramnic movement matured into Jainism[13] and Buddhism[14] and was responsible for the schism of Indian religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda (e.g., six orthodox schools of Hinduism) and nastika (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, Charvaka, etc.). However, both branches shared the related concepts of Yoga, saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).[note 3][note 4][note 5]

The Puranic Period (200 BCE – 500 CE) and Early Medieval period (500–1100 CE) gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism, especially bhakti and Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smarta, and smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta.

The early Islamic period (1100–1500 CE) also gave rise to new movements. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India.[web 2] The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region.

With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement.

Major religious groups as a percentage of world population