Hinduism: Chronology and History


  • Indus Valley Civilization disappears
  • Indus Valley Civilization's ending in 1500 BCE has 2 theories:
    • Aryan Invasion Theory: Based on linguistic evidence (indo-germanic language family), archaeological evidence, and interpretation of passages from the Vedas, 19th century European scholarship formulated the Aryan invasion (or, at least, Migration) theory, suggesting that Indo-germanic tribes invaded and destroyed the Indus civilization and developed the Vedic culture.
    • Counter Theory: Infrared scanning, which indicates that the river Sarasvati disappeared in about 1900 BCE, and archaeological evidence which challenges theories suggesting a violent conflict gave rise to the hypothesis that the Vedic culture has its roots in today's northwest India.
  • Beginning of what is called Vedic Period

1500-1000 BCE:

  • Vedic Hymns are collected during Vedic Period
  • Later these hymns called the Vedas become the basic scriptures of Hinduism, which is a set of religions based in Indus Valley Civilization
  • Include Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda
  • Early religion called Sanatana Dharma, or Vedism, begins based on Vedic Hymns

1000-500 BCE

  • Collection of Expositions, which include Brahmanas and Upanisads, which are also included in the scriptures of Hinduism

400 BCE - 400 CE:

  • Compilation of the Mahabharata
    • about 2 feuding families called the Kauravas and Pandavas who fight for a kingdom
    • includes a dialogue between Arjuna (the protagonist) and the Hindu God Krsna, which is told in the Bhagavad Gita, compiled from 200 BCE - 100 CE
  • Interpretations of Upanisads called Smriti, which includes Vedanta Sutras, Dharma Shastras, Yoga Sutras, and Smartas were compiled in this period

400 CE - 1200 CE:

  • A reformation period for Hinduism
  • Development of the six (orthodox) schools: Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisesika, Mimamsa, Sankara's Advaita Vedanta
  • New Interpretations of Vedanta by Ramanuja and Madhva
  • Formation of different Hindu sects, such as:
    • Vaishnavism-worship of the God Vishnu (5th-8th Centuries)
    • Shaivism - worship of the God Shiva (5th-8th Centuries)

1200 CE - Today:

  • Second Period of Challenge and Reaction to Hinduism
  • vaishnavism, a form of bhakti yoga, which worships Vishnu; focuses on spirituality rather than tradition and scripture
  • Period in which Nanak (founder of Sikhism), Ramananda, and Kabir were actively working to reform Hinduism
  • Chaitanya Movement in 16th Century began to worship aboriginal gods
  • Renaissance: 19th Century:
    • rebirth and revival in Hinduism
    • Brahma Samaj - a group formed in 1828 by Rammohan Roy to become liberated from customs
    • Arya Samaj - radical group formed by Dayananda Saraswati
    • reconversion - when Hindu people coverted to Islam or Christianity
  • 20th Century
    • Sri Aurobindo - integral yoga and non-dualism
    • Radhakrishnan - Hindu universalism
    • Mahatma Ghandi - political and religious leader supporting non-violence
    • Vivekanada founds the Vedanta Society