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When Was Hinduism Founded: The Origins of an Ancient Faith

Medium Wanda

Medium Wanda

Staff member
Aug 8, 2022
Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, which originated in India. Asia has the most number of followers, particularly in South Asia. Because of immigration, a few of its roots spread worldwide, but 94% of its followers are from India. It has shaped the country’s culture, including its traditions and beliefs.

Like other religions, Hinduism is full of festivals, worship, and beliefs that people still embrace today. But it is more than just having faith in their gods and goddesses. It is a way of life and humanity as a whole. Today, people do some of the religion’s practices, like yoga, meditation, and hand poses.

In this article, we’ll talk about the concepts of Hinduism, how it started, and how it evolved with modernization.

The origins of hinduism

Understanding The Complexity of Hinduism’s Origins​

There are many theories about when Hinduism started. However, there is no single individual that created the religion. Instead, it combines many beliefs from different localities and castes. The complexity of how it started caused a lot of debates on who had influenced the religion more when it came to practices, beliefs, and traditions.

People believe that it started around 1500 BC. By that time, the local Hinduism from local communities blended with the beliefs of Indo-Aryan. The 500 BC and 500 AD periods made it more complex, including rituals and worshipping deities.

Though the religion conceptualized doctrines, philosophies, and practices over time, it did not belong to any central authority. People adapted these additions and changes, making Hinduism a diverse yet unified religion. But in general, Hindus believe in supreme beings called Brahman, or the ultimate reality in Hinduism.

The Indus Valley Civilization and Early Hinduism​

The first influence of Hinduism was during the Indus Valley Civilization. During this period, Indo-Aryan people with different cultures reached the Indus Valley to trade raw materials through the Indus River.

These people brought the beliefs in deities through scripts. They introduced the sculptures of gods and goddesses like the “mother goddess” and the “priest-king.” Ritual baths started in Mohenjo-dare and became a part of the religion that represents cleansing.

Another essential part of Hinduism they introduced during this period was seals. These are images of animals engraved in stones that they believe can protect animals. Early Hindus also used seals in rituals, which usually represented a deity.

The Vedic Period: A Major Shift​

The Vedic period greatly influenced Hinduism because of the start of religious activities that shaped the religion today. The Vedas became a significant contribution to Hinduism since it contained texts about the religion, which were initially passed from one person to another verbally. There are four Vedas in Hinduism–Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda.

Rig Veda​

Rig Veda is a collection of sacred texts in Hinduism that contains the hymns chanted when praising gods and goddesses, particularly Agni, Soma, and Indra. Hindus transmit these hymns to the deities to praise them or ask for good health and protection.

Aside from hymns, it also contains information about the religion’s mythology. It has ten mandalas or books, which have 1028 hymns in total. People consider the Rig Veda as the foundation of Hinduism because these are deep-rooted, which they still recite until this day.

Sama Veda​

Sam Veda contains the scriptures of melodies and chants about worship and devotion to Brahman. Hindus believe they can only reach the Supreme Being by musical chanting during rituals. It also contains instructions on chanting these hymns, including the rituals needed before and during chanting.

According to Hinduism tradition, Sama Veda allows you to experience and attain spiritual knowledge through melodies. It also teaches praising gods for receiving happiness and fortune and for driving away evil spirits.

Yajur Veda​

Unlike Sama Veda, only the primary priest that leads the sacrificing rituals recites the mantras in Yajur Veda. In a general concept, it serves as the prayer book of Hinduism. Most scriptures in Yajur Veda focus on offerings that purify the mind and body.

It contains two parts: the Shukla and Krishna. Shukla means white or pure, which the Adhvaryu or ritual priest uses for rituals based on sacrificing for devotion. On the other hand, the Adhvaryu use Krishna, or black, in rituals that focus on sacrificing.

Atharva Veda​

Among all Vedas, only Atharva Veda does not talk about rituals. Instead, it focuses on the knowledge of giving spells and incantations. It was the last included Veda and contains scriptures about the spiritual self.

People believe that the spells and incantations from Atharva Veda can give them spiritual healing and protection. Usually, Hindus recite the scriptures during weddings and other important ceremonies.

Upanishads: The Philosophical Evolution​

If the Vedas are all about rituals, the Upanishads are a collection of philosophical texts about Hinduism. The scriptures come in verses and prose that a gur shares with his students privately. These philosophical-religious texts have four books: Brahman, Atman, Dharma, and Karma.


Brahma is the Hinduism philosophical book related to the Black Yajurveda. The texts from this book talk about renunciation and explore concepts of reality and the principles of self-existence. One of the most notable parts of Brahma is how it rejects the power of rites and rituals. It stated that no rites or rituals can give peace of mind. Instead, wisdom and knowledge do.


Atman, or eternal soul, talks about an immortal aspect of every individual’s physical body. According to the book, the spirit inside one’s self keeps the physical body alive and will not age or die. Because of this, Hindus believe that if they unite Brahma with Atman, they can be free from suffering brought by fear.


The philosophical contexts in Dharma talk about moral responsibilities that bring spiritual glory to humankind to make everyone’s life in order. An individual's values and principles may bring prosperity and harmony to the world. Some people also connect Dharma with providing selfless service, believing that the good you do shall come back to you.


In Upanishads, Karma is interrelated with the afterlife and reincarnation since the soul does not die. It determines how many times and how your soul will reincarnate into flesh. It is the astral body that reincarnates and not the physical body. Hindus believe karma guides the soul during reincarnation, which means no one can escape the karma an individual created–good and evil.

The origins of hinduism

Major Figures and Events in The Development of Hinduism​

Though Hinduism has no definite starting point, it has undergone several periods that made the traditions and beliefs today. The Indus Valley Civilization and The Vedics initially shaped the religion, but it was influenced further during the medieval, British, and independent periods.

Temples rose during the medieval period because of the rise in being devoted to deities. All temples have the images of deities they worshipped, and it became the central location of Hinduism practices. As Muslim Arabs reached India to trade, the great-grandson of its emperor destroyed many temples to prevent worshipping the deities.

British rulers controlled Inda after the Muslim Arabs left. Though it did not prevent Hindus from practicing their traditions and beliefs, many Christian missionaries made many Hindus convert to Christianity.

After the war in India, many chose to immigrate to different places like the USA and Britain. These people still brought Hinduism practices and eventually spread them to other countries.

From Ancient Origins to Modern Practices​

The changes bought in Hinduism by different periods did not affect how Hindus practice traditions and belief today. These practices became more interesting even to people with other religions.

Hindus still devote their time to worshipping and acknowledging the Vedas' sacredness. People still give offerings to the deities, chant prayers, and visit temples for worshipping. There are still many who make the pilgrimage to different sites to ask for blessings and spiritual cleansing. Indians continue to take ritual baths in the Ganges River, believing it can wash away sins.

Other practices for self-exploration, like meditation and yoga, became popular tools for people who seek relaxation and spiritual well-being. Modern influences made meditation more effective by using essential oils but still embraced the concept of ancient meditation techniques like mantra meditation.


Hinduism is a colorful religion brought by different cultures and beliefs. As the oldest religion in the world, its traditions have become more diverse since people who come back and forth to India influenced ancient Hinduism. Despite this, Hindus still embraced its sacred books, in which people still recite and teach Vedas and Upanishads texts and scriptures.

Frequently Asked Questions​

What Festivals do Hindus celebrate?​

Some of the most common festivals in Hinduism are Diwali, Holi, and Navratri. Hindus celebrate their festivals through community gatherings, traditional rituals, and lively music.

Can people from different religions visit temples?​

Yes, but some do not allow other religions. However, if you can visit one, respect the temple, especially those who worship. Some temples may have restrictions, especially on dress codes and ritual participation.

What other countries practice Hinduism?​

Although 90% of Hindus worldwide are in South Asia, some still practice Hinduism in Nepal, Mauritius, the USA, and Southeast Asia.