With over 900 million followers, Hinduism is the third largest religion today. Only Christianity and Islam have more. The major difference between them though, is that Hinduism did not spread like the other two religions. Out of the 900 million followers that the Hindu religion has, only 20 million are located outside of India. The religion barely spread outside of India, mainly because of how the Hindu religion is followed and how its culture is. Hinduism has a very rich history, and during the seventeenth and eighteenth century the religion went through some big changes that changed India and the countries around them.
Hinduism started in around 3000 BC but unlike other religions, which had one certain founder, or someone who generally started the religion, the Hindu religion grew slowly out of beliefs, cultures and practices of ancient Indo-Aryan tribes. In the article Enjoying Religions: When Did Hinduism Begin? Buddha tells us that Hinduism took centuries to actually become a true religion. Hindus believe in reincarnation, that every living thing has a soul, and that after death each soul gets born again into a different body.
Karma plays a huge role in Hinduism, where if you live a life of good, you move onto a better form of life, and if you live a life of evil, you move down to a lower form of life. Hindus believe that you keep coming back to life to live on earth over and over again, and over many lifetimes you can escape this cycle and join Brahman. This is pretty far apart from Christianity and Islam, where you only live once and then either go to heaven or hell according to how you lived your life. Another difference between Hinduism and other religions is that they dont have a central book like the Bible or the Quran.
Instead they have sacred texts, and together they make a book called Vedas. The caste system played and continues to play a major role in India. Hinduism is not just a religion, but also a way of life, which affects everyday life of the average Indian. From marriage to friendship and from what you can eat to how you should sleep. In Hindu culture you can only be married to someone who is in the same caste as you are. Hinduism has played a huge role in shaping the history of southern Asia.
The Pre-Modern Period of Hinduism, which was around the years 1500-1757, was a time where different cultures were starting to get involved in India and the Hindu religion. Mainly Islam. Professor Gavin Flood tells us in his article, The History of Islam that the Islam forces started in the North, and by the beginning of the seventeenth century Mughal power was brought into effect and in the article The Mughal Empire Akbar they really give an inside look at the life and reign of Akbar.
Akbar, who was one of the greatest leaders of the Mughal Empire and in Indian history, was very tolerant to religion. In fact, he actually married a Hindu princess. Akbar allowed the Hindus to practice freely. However, his great grandson, Aurangzeb, who ruled from 1618 to 1707, restricted Hindu practice and destroyed many Hindu temples. He was the last of the Mughal Emperors. Although under his rule the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, he was also the reason for the empires fall.
The British Period, which starts at 1757 and goes all the way to 1947, started with Robert Clives victory at the Battle of Plassey, which ended the Mughal Empire and the rise of British supremacy in India. Before the Indian Rebellion in 1857, India was divided into many small and unstable kingdoms, until the entire country fell into British rule.
In the beginning of British rule they were very lenient on religious tolerance, and allow the Indians to practice their Hindu religion. Slowly over time, Christian missionaries started going to India trying to convent the Indians. Shortly after, British scholars started going to India and started to try to westernize the local population. Some tried to make the Hindu religion more modern and western, and created Neo-Hinduism, as it says in the article by Brian Smith, Hinduism.
Hinduism has come a long way in history. Most people would say the Hinduism is still just as pure as it started, even with foreign invasions like the Mughals with Islam, and the British with Christianity. Although theyve tried, foreign missionaries could not convert the Hindus to either Islam or Christianity. Until today Hinduism is still mostly practiced in India and very little outside of there. Even though Hinduism is a religion mostly practiced in only one part of the globe, it is still the third largest religion in the world.