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Hindu Sects

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Dear Justin-ji,

Actually all these sects are just broad based terms. Like say, a Shiva worshipping Shaiva wud worhip the Devi as well. And this faith wud overlap with that of a Shakta. A Kaumara and a Ganapatya wud fit in as a Shaiva as well and so on.....no matter what sect or lack of one, one belongs to...everyone is a part of the all encompassing sanatan and is a hindu.

Namaste happyhindu,

Thank you. I know they overlap with eachother, I was just curious. I'm interested in all the various sects, so that's why I asked this question.


Dear il_guy,

Actually Hinduism was not the same as it is known now. It was only 'Sanatana Dharma' in good old days. Its origin is not certain, because nobody knows its true age.
('Ival endru pirandaval endru unaradha iyalbinalam engal thai' - Mother Bharath - said, Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi)

Later, it subsumed Buddhism and Jainism also in it, which fact is borne out by the fact that 'vegetarianism' was the direct influence of these two 'ahimsa' paths.

During the last 3000 years, it underwent so many other changes, some are just cosmetic in nature, some are revolutionary and sweeping and others structural or procedural.

During Adi Sankara's period, he only codified Hinduism, by dividing it into 6 major
divisions/paths. They are 1. Saivism (worship of Siva), 2. Saktham (worship of Sakthi- consort of Siva), 3. Gaanaapatyam (worship of Ganapathi), 4. Kaumaram
(worship of Kumara - Murugan), 5. Vaishnavism (worship of Vishnu) and 6. Sauram
(worship of Sun - Surya).

Of these, Sauram is common and acceptable to all, which is evidenced by the importance gained by 'Gayathri Mantra', that eulogises the attributes and benevolence of Surya. Hence it is called 'Surya Gayathri'. (Gayathri Mantra is basically a small verse/hymn, containing 18 letters/aksharas and on different deities, different Gayathri
mantras are in vogue). But, 'Sauram' has lost its place/importance to be called as a separate branch by itself.

For staunch Vaishnavites of yesteryears, the first 4 were not acceptable, as all of them belong to one family (?) - of Siva. Hence these 4 branches were frowned upon by them. Incidentally, 'Saivites' worship Hari/Narayana too, without any reservations.

Between 'Saivites' and 'Vaishnavites', there are small differences in mantras or slokas
meant for various rituals. In 'Vaishnava Sampradaya', references to Siva or his
family will not find a place and they will be substituted by references to Vishnu or Lakshmi.

'Smarthas' are usually those who are other than 'Vaishnavites' and 'Madhvas'. (Usually,
'Smarthas' are brahmins those who worship Siva) . As far as I know, these are the terms more in use in South only.

One surprising thing about 'Vinayaka' or 'Ganapathi'. He is known as 'Vishwaksena' -
meaning Chietain of Vishnu's army and finds a small place in a corner of any Perumal
Kovil. But, it is more an exception than a rule. (In Tamil, 'Ganapathi' is sometimes
referred to as 'Thumbikkai Alwar', by the Vaishnavites).

Whatever said and done, 'Hari' and 'Hara' are one and the same - called by different people by different names. That's all. (Ariyum, Sivanum onnu; Idhai ariyadhavan
vaayile mannu)

We the Hindus of the present generation, shall avoid divisions amongst ourselves and
must remain united, with freedom to choose and adopt any path/branch, as per one's
liking and attraction.
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Dear il_guy,

We the Hindus of the present generation, shall avoid divisions amongst ourselves and must remain united, with freedom to choose and adopt any path/branch, as per one's liking and attraction.

Namaste pannvalan,

I couldn't agree with you more on this. I've heard of the fights between Vaishnavas and Shaivas that occured in the past. I agree, Vishnu and Shiva are one.

My ishta devata is Lord Ganesha, but I don't consider myself a Ganapathya because I don't view Him as supreme over all the other deities. I view the one Supreme as Brahman and all the different deities are manifestations of that Brahman.

In a way, they're all supreme? They're all manifestations of Brahman, so they are all individually Brahman. If you worship Ganesha through Ganesha murthi, you can also worship Vishnu or Durga through the same Ganesha murthi. I have read this.

I also am aware that long before the term Hinduism came around, and before all the sects, there were no sects. They are of recent origin (compared to the known history of our Dharma).


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Dear All,

Just a clarification here. Smaarthaas by definition follow the Smrithis or dharma sastras, which in itself derives its name from the root "smar" or remembered or contemplated. here it refers to " in memory of the vedas" . So technically smaarthaas or not Siva bhaktaas. they worship all devatas mentioned in the veda.

There are also "srautas" who perform srauta karmas - the yagnyaas mentioned in the vedas as distinct from "smaartha karmas".

Broadly all of these systems fall into two categories, "matham" or religion and "tatwa" or philosophy. saivam, vaishnavam, saaktham,gaanapatyam,sauram,kaumaram all fall into "matham" category which includes devata worship. Most of the tatwa based systems like Advaita, Visishtadwaita and Dwaita are all part of the uttara mimamsa which is in itself a vedic philosphical system comprising of the upanishads.They are mostly philosophical than being theistical and propound their theory based on the brahma sutra of Veda Vyasa. Having said this both the Visishtadwaita and Dwaita schools accept the Narayana/Vishnu as the supreme brahman, while Adwaita holds that all devatas are one and the same brahman. Both the claims are based on specific vedic passages.
As I have already written, 'smarthas' worship Hari/Narayana too, even though they are basically 'Saivites'.

Technical definition of 'smartha' as one who follows that is stated in smriti is alright. But, in practice, 'Vaishnavites' do not call themselves 'Smarthas', even though they also follow 'Smritis'.

Six major divisions of Hinduism as discussed earlier, are not religions by themselves. They are different approaches or paths shown by one religion - Hinduism.

I do not dispute what is a 'Brahma Sutra', but remember here different 'acharyas' have written different interpretations (Bashyams) for the same. Namely, the Adi Sankara approached it with his 'Advaita' philosophy, whereas Ramanuja gave it a treatment from 'Vishishtadvaita' angle and Madhvacharya gave it a 'Dwaita' colour.

I will continue my arguments later.
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