New And Old Hindu Denominations And Movements

Shaktas worship Shakti, who is known as the divine Mother, in her many forms that include Kali, Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati, and many others as well. The Shakta form was one of the oldest forms of Hindu religion, and there are evidences even from the Indus valley civilization.

However, with evolution of civilization and the emergence of various doctrines and various other forms of Hindu philosophy emerged. Shaivism and Shakta forms are really inseparable, as is the description of Shiva and Shakti, Sati, Parvati. Vaishanvism has also its connections with the Shakta philosophy as the Goddess Durga herself is called Narayani.

Aum Smarthas have free rein to choose whichever deity they wish to worship. They usually worship five deities, which are known as either pancopasana or panchadevata, as personal form filled manifestations of the impersonal Absolute, Brahman. Smartas accept and worship the six manifestations of God, which are known as Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya and Skanda. The choice of the nature of God is up to the individual worshiper since the different manifestations of God are held to be equivalent. It is a liberal and eclectic sect.

It is the Smarta view that dominates the view of Hinduism in the west as Smarta belief includes Advaita belief and the first Hindu saint, who significantly brought Hinduism to the west was Swami Vivekananda, an adherent of Advaita. Not till much later, gurus, such as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and others, brought a Vaishnavite perspective to the west. By contrast with Smarta and Advaita belief, Vaishnavism and Shaivism follows a singular concept of God, or panentheistic monotheism or panentheistic monism.

The medieval Bhakti movement has had a significant impact on the traditional denominations of Pauranic Hinduism, especially on Vaishnavism. The Alvars were Tamil poet saints of south India who lived between the sixth and ninth centuries and espoused emotional devotion, which is known as bhakti, to Visnu-Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service. Usually twelve Vaishnava saints, who during the early medieval period of Tamil history, helped revive devotional Hinduism through their hymns of worship to Vishnu and his avatars.

The collection of their hymns is known as Divya Prabhandham. The Bhakti literature that sprang from these Alvars has contributed to the establishment and sustenance of a culture that broke away from the ritual oriented Vedic religion and rooted itself in devotion as the only path for salvation. In addition, they helped to make the Tamil religious life independent of a knowledge of Sanskrit. As part of the legacy of the Alvars, five Vaishnava philosophical traditions or sampradayas has developed at the later stages.

A sect of Balinese Hindus flourished on the nearby island of Java until the late sixteenth century, when a vast majority of its adherents converted to Islam. Theologically, it is closer to Saivism than to any other major sects of Hinduism. The term, Agama Hindu Dharma, can also refer to the traditional practices in Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and other places in Indonesia, where people have started to identify and accept their agamas as Hinduism.

Bengal Renaissance, Ayyavazhi, and Contemporary Sant Mat movements were influential during the nineteenth and twentieth century Hindu revivalist organizations include Arya Samaj, Tilak Mission Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Brahmo Samaj, Parisada Hindu Dharma, Prarthana Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana, Swadhyay Movement, Swaminarayan Sampraday, and Sathya Sai Organisation.
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