Hinduism refers to a wide range of related religious practices originating in the Indian subcontinent. As a diverse religious tradition, it combines three main theological and scriptural strands. The first (ca. 1500 BCE to 400 CE) linked duty, law, and religion (dharma) to the natural and eternal order of the cosmos. A second strand of scripture and reflection (starting in the middle of the first millennium BCE) developed a new insight: that underlying the multiplicity of sensory experience is a deep unity, an essential Being (Brahman), and it is possible to shed one’s sense of individuality and attain unity with the ultimate reality. A third tradition, joining the ethical and existential concerns of the first two, emerged through the groundbreaking text of the Bhagavad Gita (second century BCE), acknowledged the value of both social duties and spiritual liberation (moksha), and set up a mediating path between them, the path of disciplined action (karma yoga).
back to top