The History of Hindu India, From Ancient Times

Hi. My name is Raj Narayan and I’m
going to talk about Hindu history, beliefs and culture. Hinduism is the oldest living religion
in the world and the third largest. More than one billion Hindus live in 150
different countries, mostly in India. The United States alone is home to over two million Hindus. Origins of Hinduism:
To find the distant beginnings of Hinduism, we have to go back over 6,000 years to
the Saraswati-Indus region of the Indian subcontinent. This vast area extends from Sri Lanka in the south to the Himalayan mountains in the north, from the Arabian Sea in the west to the
Bay of Bengal in the east. The Saraswati-Indus civilization developed here,
eventually becoming the world’s largest and most advanced, surpassing even those of Egypt,
Mesopotamia and China. The civilization is named after the area’s two great
river systems, the Saraswati and the Indus. It is called
the Vedic culture after the earliest Hindu sacred text. It
is also known as the Harappan culture, after the site of its first discovery in
1920. This was an urban culture centered around many highly organized
cities, some with populations of 8,000, which was rare in those days. The
cities were connected by trade routes which
extended west to Mesopotamia and East to central Asia. Five thousand years later
archaeologists discovered pottery, seals, statues, beads, jewelry, tools, toys, miniature carts, and dice, all of which hint at what life
was like at the source of the civilization that
has evolved into modern-day India. The flat, stone seals have writing on
them and images of Deities, ceremonies, symbols, people, plants and animals. Even though writing was widespread among the people, we have not deciphered it yet. From these artifacts, we learn that
certain religious and cultural practices were identical to those followed by
Hindus today. One seal shows a meditating figure that scholars link to Lord Shiva, while
others show the lotus posture used today in
hatha yoga. Other discoveries connect the far past
with today, including swastikas, statues of the
Mother Goddess, worship of the Shiva Lingam, fire altars
that show the ceremonial practice of Vedic people, who were also known as
Aryans, sacred baths, priests, sacred animals and symbolism in the performing arts. You must be familiar with the
traditional greeting namaste. Here’s a small clay statue portraying
the same. And this statue shows a woman with red
powder in the part of her hair. Married women even today observe the
same custom. As the Sarasvati-Indus culture declined when the river
dried up around 2000 bce, many people migrated to more fertile
places, in eastern and central India,
especially along the river Ganga and also beyond the subcontinent. Hindu Scriptures:
The four Vedas, the central holy books of Hinduism, were
composed in Sanskrit starting at least six thousand years ago. The Rigveda, the earliest to the four, speaks repeatedly of the Saraswati,
describing it as the most mighty of rivers, flowing from the Himalayan mountains to
the sea. Thus, we know that a large part of this
sacred text was composed well before 2000 bce, by
which time the river had dried up. Vedic hymns praise God,
Gods and Goddesses and describe a powerful and spiritual
people, their clans, kings and emperors, fights and battles. Their sophisticated economy included
agriculture, industry, trade, commerce and cattle
raising. Vedas call the country
Sapta Sindhu, meaning the Land of Seven Rivers. The words Hindu and India both come from the
Sanskrit word Sindhu, which means “river.” These
Vedic hymns describe a form of fire worship, yajna, performed around a specially built altar.
Archaeologists have unearthed such altars in several
Saraswati-Indus cities. Hindus still perform fire worship in this
form. Originally, these thousands of hymns were not written down but memorized. Even
today there are priests who can chant from
memory as many as 10,500 verses, which takes 50 hours. the There are dozens of other sacred
texts that Hindus revere, including the Puranas
and the writings of illumined sages. The epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are
traditional histories of India and storehouses of Hindu heritage.
The Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama, seventh
incarnation or avatar of Lord Vishnu,
and his divine wife, Sita. The Mahabharata is the world’s
longest epic. It is about a massive war in ancient India between cousins fighting for the throne
of a great kingdom. A central episode called
the Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between commander Arjuna
and Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu,
on the day of the battle. The Mahabharata remains one of the most
widespread scriptures in the world, with its dominant message of justice.
Hindu sacred music, dance, drama and the arts draw heavily on these
two literary epics. The Hindu Society:
By 600 bce, the social, religious and philosophical
ideas and practices central to Hinduism today
were fully evident, having emerged from the Indus-
Saraswati culture, the Vedas, Dravidian culture and
the tribal religions. A distinctive feature of society was the varna or class system. People
were classified into groups with specific occupations. Parents taught their skills to their
children from a young age, providing a strong grounding in their
profession or trade. These groups eventually became
hereditary: priests warriors merchants and workers, including
craftsman and farmers. However, this class system did not
include the various forest tribes. It also did not include small
communities considered untouchable because their occupations were unclean,
such as the cremation ground chandalas, scavengers and leather workers. This system give identity to the kinship groups and
gave all citizens a sense of belonging, greater social
order and stability. The socially cohesive contributions of caste continue to play a key role in
economic, social and political life, most visibly
in marriages and elections. Life in ancient times was
hard work for both men and women. Women were responsible for running the
household while men for looking after their craft, farm and
family security. In general, women participated equally in religious
ceremonies, festivities and social relationships.
Some of the foremost religious and political leaders in India’s history have been women. Some even composed Vedic
hymns. The period from 1000 bce through the Gupta period, ending in the
mid-6th century ce, was a time of great scientific and
mathematical advancement. Hindus developed the counting system we
use today, including the mathematical concepts
of zero and decimals. Indian astronomers knew that the Earth orbits the Sun, and they calculated
the length of a year with amazing precision. Medicine was so
advanced that doctors were performing complex surgeries not be equalled in Europe
until the 18th century. India was the foremost supplier of steel
to the world. In 400 ce, its foundries created
an iron pillar which even stands today and has never
rusted. Modern science cannot equal this feat. For thousands of years India has been home to one quarter of
the human family. It has been honored as a nation of
wealth and wisdom and, of course, it is famous today as the
world’s largest democracy. Hindu Beliefs, Practices and Saints The religion of this land, Hinduism, has
always been open minded and tolerant with the belief that,
“Truth is One, paths are many.” Thus Hindus respect all other religions. Hinduism is the only
major religion that worships God in both male and female form, as well as with and without any
attributes. The original Sanskrit name for Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, meaning “eternal
religion.” Most Hindus believe in a Supreme God, many Gods and Goddesses, spiritual worlds, the divinity of the
soul, dharma, karma, reincarnation, God Realization and liberation from
rebirth. The Supreme God is known by various names depending on
region and denomination: Brahman, Bhagavan, Siva, Shakti, Vishnu and more. He-She is all-powerful, all-knowing, all loving, immanent, (that is, present in all things)
and transcendent, (beyond them as well). God exists within each person as atman, the divine soul.
God Realization describes the experience of the divine
within oneself. This profound encounter with God is
regarded as the ultimate goal of life. Hindus teach that every human being
can know God personally. Hindus also worship other divinities. Each divinity has distinct powers and areas of responsibility. For example, Lord Ganesha is the Remover of
Obstacles, Saraswati is the Goddess
of knowledge and Hanuman is the God of service and devotion. Each
Hindu freely choose the Deities he or she
wishes to worship. Dharma is a cardinal concept in
Hinduism. It includes righteousness, truth, Sacred Law, ethics, duty, justice, religion and the laws of
nature. Dharma means, “that which upholds.” The
dharmic principal of ahimsa, or non-violence, is important to this day.
Mahatma Gandhi led India’s independence in 1947 using nonviolent means such as peaceful
protests, boycotts, strikes and speeches that
aroused the nation to throw off British rule. He once said, “Non-violence is the greatest force at
the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon
of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” In the
1950s, Martin Luther King Jr. understood the
power of Gandhi’s methods and went to India to meet his followers.
He later applied those methods to fight for and win civil rights for America’s Black
minority. In the same way, Cesar Chavez won rights for the farm
workers of California. Gandhi also inspired Nelson Mandela in his fight for freedom and racial
equality in South Africa. Today everyone knows about the Hindu concept
of karma, the law of cause and effect. It means that anything a person does,
whether good or bad, will eventually
return to him in this or a future life. A popular way of
expressing this is, “What goes around comes around.”
Reincarnation is the central Indian belief that the
soul, atman, is reborn in the new body time and time
again, to grow and mature through all the
experiences human life has to offer. Eventually every soul achieves salvation
by realizing its oOneness with God and is no longer reborn. Hindus do not
believe in a Satan or an eternal hell. Worship is central to a Hindu’s life. So, every Hindu home has a place of
worship. It may be as simple as a shelf with
pictures of Deities, or entire room dedicated to the family’s
daily worship. A worship ceremony called puja, performed elaborately or very simply
every day in the temple or in the home shrine invokes the
Divine Beings for blessings and happiness. The puja
ceremony includes sacred chanting, bathing the
image of the Deity, offering food, flowers, incense and other sacred substances
and the waving lights. Hindus practice yogic disciplines
everyday, called sadhana. Sitting on the floor, often in a yoga posture, they chant,
sing devotional hymns repeat the name of God while counting on
beads or simply meditate in stillness and silence. The temple is revered as the home of God. There are millions of
temples in India, many quite ancient. The most important of
these mystically designed structures cover hundreds of acres and receive thousands of pilgrims each
day. Every Hindu is expected to pilgrimage to temples in
holy places far and wide. These pilgrimages unify the religion as tens of millions of people travel
throughout the subcontinent and interact. Hinduism has a rich history
of sages and saints, both men and women, from all castes. Some
other great saints wrote detailed explanations of the
Upanishads and related scriptures, such as Adi Shankara in the eighth
century ce, Ramanuja in the 11th and
Vallabhacharya in the 15th. Others, including Sambandar, Mirabai and Tukaram, expressed their
experience of God through devotional songs. Recent saints include Sri Ramakrishna, Swami
Vivekananda, Anandamayi Ma, Swaminarayan and Shirdi Sai Baba. Millions of swamis
and other saintly souls make up the spiritual leadership within Hinduism. Swamis have renounced the world and
taken up spiritual life full-time. Special among these are the
gurus, enlightened men and women who serve
as religious teachers. Some gurus have millions of followers,
others are humble hermits. Hinduism has no central organization and no single dogma. No one person or
institution is in charge. Instead, there are thousands of
independent guru lineages, spiritual traditions, monastic orders and
religious institutions. Hindu Festivals Hindus love festivals and
enthusiastically celebrate many holy days each year. The biggest is called Diwali or
Dipavali, the festival of lights. This five-day event, held around the new
Moon in October or November, celebrates the victory of
good over evil, light over darkness. Thousands of small lamps including traditional clay oil lamps are
placed everywhere, and fireworks signal hope for mankind. It is a national holiday in India and in
many countries with large Hindu populations. Barack Obama was the first US president
to celebrate Diwali in the White House. “I want to wish you all
a Happy Diwali and a Saal Mubarak.” Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Om, Keep me not in the Unreality,
but Lead me towards the Reality Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Keep me not in the darkness,
but lead me towards the Light Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
Keep me not in the fear of death,
but lead me toward the Immortality Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Peace, Peace, Peace One special festival, the Kumbha
Mela, takes place every three years at four
sacred river sites. The 2013 Kumbha Mela was held at Prayag, which is modern-day
Allahabad in northern India. During the six weeks, 130 million people pilgrimaged there from all across India
and the world. On one day alone, 30 million pilgrims
were present. It was the largest human gathering ever
held on Earth. Hinduism has persisted for thousands of
years because the dharma, faith and culture
have instilled in each Hindu a unique and strong sense of
identity, family and spiritual purpose. It endures because it is a dynamic religion which
gives complete freedom of practice, accepts that there are many ways to
worship God and provides festivals, temples, pilgrimages, gurus and scriptures to illumine the path,
thereby celebrating life itself. We hope that this documentary has increased your
understanding of Hinduism and its history. Namaste

Comments 88

  • Caste system gave a sense of belonging to all citizens??? Seriously? If you are a member of the higher castes maybe but what of people in the lowest or uncaste?

  • Love the universe…..From Bharat bhumi (India )

  • this is a true history of Hinduism

  • Jay shri ram.. Jay mathadi.. Har har Mahadev.. Ahinso paramo dharmaha.. Hinduism is great..

  • Thank you dear Hindu family. Namaste

  • My ancestors were brave and honest. They did not succumb to the Islamic treats, refused to take money to pawn their religion. Proud to be a Hindu. Hindustan Zindabad.

  • Overall informative. However, some major inaccuracies. There is no such word as "caste " in Hinduism. "Caste" is a word introduced by the Portuguese invader who used the Varna system (which was flexible-more about this later) to further divide the Hindus so that they could loot and pillage the land. Varna essentially means that ones body is adapted to certain types of jobs-not everyone will be able to run like Husain Bolt no matter how hard he tries. So a father would train his son to do the job which he had been taught by his father and his father by his etc. However this was not a rigid system. The most revered, deified and worshipped Rishis of India (Valmiki, Vishwamithra etc.) were from the lowest …err "caste".
    No expose' of Hindusim is complete without informing the world of its unrivalled contribution to world civilisation: The world's first universities (Taxshillia, Nalanda-destroyed by the advancing muslims); Maths (Aryabhatta,Bramahmagupta), Astronomy( Surayasidanth);Medicine/Surgery(Sushruta),Linguistics(Panini); Building/Design(Schulbasushtras);Yoga(Adiyogi)Dance/Music/the Arts,Metallurgy; etc,etc,etc. It would take a series of presentations just to scratch the surface.

  • Nice simple and clear introduction to vast Hindu Religion.

  • Wow… amazing!
    Proud to be a hinduism.

  • Great work! So enriching! Thank you! no more distorted stories!

  • The Rig-Veda at least 6.000 B. C.?

  • Beautifully presented 🙏🏿


  • Thanks for making this.I am Hindu so I enjoyed learning about my religion

  • i am not Hindu but always fascinating about hindu religion, who knows my great great great grand parents may be hindu


  • Contrary to what a few Missionaries went about canvassing against Indian Caste System, I must say that is how our forefathers preserved and developed job-related "skills" and transmitted from generation to generation as, for example, goldsmith, carpenter, blacksmith, potter and a host of other occupations! Secondly, we have many sages drawn – not merely from Brahmins – but other castes too, all of whom are worshipped for their enlightenment. To wit, Sage Matanga, Arundhati (wife of Sage Vasishta), Viswamitra, Nandanar, Narsi Mehta, Tukaram, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Satya Sai baba, and so forth!!

  • Jai hindu 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 jai world

  • Brilliant summary. I liked the slow paced discourse—not rushed. Keep it up.

  • Don't dare to speak about the advancement of Hinduism ……………there are so called liberals here who believe that we were civilised by britishers


  • Why are their palms and the soles of their feet depicted in red?

  • What's wrong with dislikers? Proud indian hindu

  • Simple and honest description at a basic level of the Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism). The Islamists, Missionaries, and Leftists distort our religion to demean it and proselytize their religion (Islam, Christianity, and Marxism).

  • Namaste. Thank you so much for this wonderful documentary. Simple but informative and very beautifully created.

  • Hinduism is the loveliest religion and it is best a human being can adopt to follow a peaceful path towards salvation. You are free here to worship the Lord the way you please and you are not obliged to anyone to practice your religion. There is no need to subscribe any religion when you are a Hindu. I feel very lucky that I am a Hindu. Namasthe'

  • Very interesting.though I am not at all religious this was a very good look at this religion.I think India and its people are amazing and before I die I will visit that great Nation.

  • Sanathan Dharma is celebration of life free from fear of damnation and ways to experience self realization hence produced the largest number of enlightened beings and avatars Bharat is the spiritual Mother of the Universe

  • What is difference between hindu & sanatan dharm?

  • obama is awesome ❤️

  • What an Excellent explanation of this fascinating religion and culture! Let us all be One with God in His/Her uncountable manifestations!

  • I am very very proud to be a Hindu

  • Hindu is only religion who never force or ask anyone to convert religion infact we accept all 🙏

  • Har Har Mahadev

  • Excellent work!!!!
    Recommended to anybody who wants to know what Hinduism means.
    [Am a Hindu, who is more or less an atheist, but perfectly understands the other belief systems].

  • I proud to be Hindu 🕉🙏🌸
    Jay Sri Ram 🕉🙏🌸.

  • Zoroastrianism seems to have similar roots

  • Hinduism is a beautiful peaceful religion. It does not try to convert the masses like other two major religions of the world. Hinduism has been around for more than seven thousand years. That is long before Christianity and Muslim religions were founded.

  • Beautifully presented by Raj Narayana. People of other cultures and beliefs should open their minds eye and embrace the teachings of this the oldest of all religions.

  • Proud to be born as hindu

  • I thought the Harappan were not Indo European.

  • who else is doing this for school

  • love from nepal jay pashupatinath

  • Lovely documentary, however I am not impressed with the rationalisation of the Cast System.

  • Welcome to Hinduism- the most eternal religion..

  • A good video. I shared to those people who want to know from around the world.

  • iam hindu from tamil nadu in india.🚩🚩🚩🔥🔥🎪🚩🚩🚩🙏🔔🔥

  • There are no confusion that , the Hinduism is the most peaseful & most educated religion in the world.

  • Thank you

  • Proud to be hindu

  • Hinduism is the only religion (In fact culture)
    which is not book-based religion, books come into existence by 5000 years ago
    through meditation (vedas). Hindus main aim is
    enlightenment, Liberation, freedom from birth and death. God is secondary to
    them, In the Gita, God guides him (Arjuna) to enlightenment and righteousness (Dharma)
    not to stick to him. Hindus are seekers, not believers ( like other religions).
    Hindus follow karma yoga (good actions). Meditation, Yoga, self-knowledge (who
    am I), penance, watching breath are primary to them and book/s are secondary to
    them. Other religions concept is one god exists but Hindus concept is the only
    god exists in everything and everywhere nothing else. Hindus say body and mind
    do not belong to you one day you have to leave them. Only your real self is
    yours find out that you ll be enlightened

  • Very interesting video. As a non-Hindu, I say a perfect video to learn about India's religious culture. Some of the Hindu culture and spiritual beliefs had influenced Buddhism. Buddhism is the religion I believe in and it has absorbed into the cultures of the Far East.

  • Buddhism and Hinduism I can live with them in peace and harmony.

  • Hindus believe in vasudaika kutumbam which means whole world is a give respect and love all treat everyone as a member of family. Happiness comes with Hinduism 🤗

  • Great video, Hinduism is pretty cool.

  • Superbly researched and well done…we recently saw the art and culture exhibition and have filmed this great art and culture extravaganza at the Kumbh Mela 2019.

  • Hinduism is the only religion (In fact
    culture) which is not book-based religion, books come into existence by 5000
    years ago through meditation (Vedas, etc). Hindus main aim is enlightenment,
    Liberation, freedom from birth and death. God is secondary to them, In the
    Gita, God guides him (Arjuna) to enlightenment and righteousness (Dharma) not
    to stick to him. Hindus are seekers, not believers ( like other religions).
    Hindus follow karma (good actions). Meditation, Yoga (union with the divine),
    self-knowledge (who am I), penance, watching breath are primary to them and
    book/s are secondary to them. Other religions concept is one god exists but
    Hindus concept is the only god exists in everything and everywhere nothing
    else. Hindus say body and mind do not belong to you one day you have to leave
    them. Only your real self is yours find out that you ll be enlightened. Hindus say all living beings are divine.
    They say both waking state and sleep state are an
    illusion(Maya). Actual Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma means an Eternal Religion.

  • Hindus are like rice…. being scattered throughout the world by the British Empire, invading empires, conquerors… raped, pillaged and looted…. they will continue to flourish anywhere due to their respective outlook on life and the embracment of their culture and religion… like rice they will continue to grow dispite the challenges… jai bole nauth!

  • Jai Sanatana dharma

  • Jai ho Satya Sanatan ki..

  • Thank you for a very enlightening experience

  • proud to be a hindu by choice 🙏🏻🕉♥️

  • God bless everyone

  • This the documentary Ineed toshow my grand kids It is so good that in short time they can learn about their ancestors history . The kinds who were both in America . I am a grand mother so this my duty that they should know it : I hope and pray that they would listen to me.

  • Brief and well made documentary.

  • India thank you for keeping this priceless spiritual tradition going. From USA

  • Proud to be hindu🙏🚩

  • In hinduism we say in our hindu society….vaasudeva kutumbakam…that means whole world is our family…it is in hindu vedas…

  • Good lession of my home the Indian Subcontinent.I am of Islam of Pakistan 🇵🇰 from United States of America..

  • my teacher made m watch

  • I enjoyed this overview of Hinduism. Where can one go in the USA to learn about Hinduism?

  • Love to visit India one day I’m from honduras it is my dream

  • What's problem with these dislikers ???

  • Where does the woman fit into all this? My main problem is that it's a patriarchal religion

  • Please. Make. Video on. Hinduism. Is best. Religion of life

  • How the name bharat came ???

  • exelent….

  • Hindu dharm is the religion of sages and monks .Om Ram nam Raghunandan.

  • We have beated looted and invaded from age to age by other religions .we have lost everything,but tolerated.we have killed by others ,died by others and slept at hungry without food. There was nothing any wealth with us. But in this nothing wealth there was a wealth,that was our religion Hindu dharm which bears peace and nonviolence.evil day was for us when we rulled by foreigners for long periods.but Hindu dharms mantra ,peace and nonviolence gave us our freedom which led by our father of nation mahatma Gandhi. Now you may say Hindu dharm good or bad.
    Raghupati Raghav raja ram
    Patita Pawan sita ram. Jayhind

  • Vry nice information

  • I love these people.

  • I am lucky to be born as Hindu. 🙏

  • Missed the Aryan migration to India from Central Asia before Indus civilization. Vishnu worship came from the Aryan people.

  • I am proud nepali hindu

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