Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, particularly of India and Nepal. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among numerous other traditions, and a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorisation of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs.
Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, it is "a fusion of Arian and Dravidian cultures", which consists of many diverse traditions. It has diverse roots and no single founder. Among its roots are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India, but also the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Shramana or renouncer traditions of north-east India, and "popular or local traditions".
Since Vedic times a process of Sanskritization has been taking place, in which "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms".
Since the 19th century, under the dominance of western colonialism and Indology, when the term "Hinduism" came into broad use, Hinduism has re-asserted itself as a coherent and independent tradition. The popular understanding of Hinduism has been dominated by this neo-Vedanta, in which mysticism and the unity of Hinduism have been emphasised. Hindutva ideology and Hindu politics emerged in the 20th century as a political force and a source for national identity in India.
Hindu practices include daily rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Select group of ascetics leave the common world and engage in lifelong ascetic practices to achieve moksha.
Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna and agamic rituals and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads (both Śruti), Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Manusmriti, and Agamas (all smriti).
Hinduism, with about one billion followers is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.