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Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. It is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as San?tana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BCE), and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into ?ruti ("heard") and Sm?ti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the ?gamas. Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.

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A simplified version of the Dharmacakra
Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in Hinduism and other Indian religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible. The concept includes duties, rights, laws, sanskara (rites of passage rituals), conduct, morals, ethics, virtues and the ''right way of living'' for an individual in solitude, in interaction with family, with other human beings, with other living beings, as well as with nature and inanimate objects. Dharma concept incorporates principles such as Yamas, Niyama, Yoga, stages of life, goals of life and others.

Dharma is an ancient concept, that evolved over time in India. The word Dharma appears over fifty times in the Rigveda, dated to be from the 2nd millennium BCE. The concept takes a central place in later Vedic era texts and post-Vedic era Sanskrit literature. Dharma includes the pursuit and execution of one's nature and true calling, thus playing one's role in cosmic concert. In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow. In terms of humanity, Dharma in Hinduism is the need for, the effect of and essence of service and interconnectedness of all life.

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Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicago
Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: ?, Hindi: स्वामी विवेकानन्द) (whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Bengali: ?, Hindi: नरेन्द्रनाथ दत्त; January 12, 1863 - July 4, 1902) is considered one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the Hindu religion. He was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and was the founder of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. He is considered by many as an icon for his fearless courage, his positive exhortations to the youth, his broad outlook to social problems, and countless lectures and discourses on Vedanta philosophy.

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Henry David Thoreau
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.




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