This entire universe is evolved from, abides in and gets dissolved in the bestower of liberation Who is beyond, Omnipresent and Unageing. (Brahma Purana 1.1-3)
Books in this section link up to Sanatan Dharma. It is Sanskrit for "eternal righteousness, eternal law" and similar.
Some Central Concepts
Brian K. Pennington says some common Hindu ways of life can be traced to ancient times (2005, 4). And: "Hinduism, as it is now practiced and conceived, is best regarded as the result of continuous historical processes (2005, 6)."
There are key terms and concept that work together:
The term Vedanta was first used for the Upanishad texts with their pivoting and lofty concepts. The oldest dozen or so of these scriptures are the principal ones.
Vedanta today is an orthodox, philosophical school of Hinduism, rooted in Upanishads. Vedanta deals with ideas about reality and the world, interpreting three basic texts. They are The Upanishads, The Brahma Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita. Vedanta teachers have written many commentaries on them. The best known Vedanta exponent is Adi Shankara. Vedanta also contains sub-schools with differering doctrines on several issues.
The term Hinduism may be taken to mean many, many things. Gavin Flood tells, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term" from "the 6th-century BCE." The term Hindu in ancient records is a geographical term and does not refer to a religion or well established ways of life. Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with connotations of religion in some of the meanings of the term, one is from a 7th-century CE Chinese text. Another is from a 14th-century Persian text.
"It was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus." The term Hinduism was introduced into the English language in the 18th-century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.
Moreover, Hinduism includes a variety of ideas on spirituality and traditions, and Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. Further: "Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult." Also, "In India the term dharma is preferred, which is broader than the western term religion." (Wikipedia, "Hinduism")
Many practitioners refer to Hinduism as Sanátan(a) Dharma, "the eternal law" or the "eternal way". Hinduism is a traditional way of life, where Dharmic Hinduism is of "daily morality." Sanatana dharma might be understood as ultimately nonsectarian.
Sanátana Dharma refers to the fair, tall duties all have, regardless of class, caste, or sect. Those duties include honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, a certain self-restraint, generosity, and asceticism and more. Alongside it comes one's svadharma, one's "own duty", whatever that may be.
Today, Sanatana Dharma has a worldwide appeal. According to Gavin Flood, it is "becoming a world religion." It emphasizes general spiritual values
There is typically belief in being an átman (Spirit, Self, spirit, soul), that one's átman reincarnates, and that karma follows the reincarnating spirit. This goes along with faith in dharma (decent ways of living, propriety, adhering to good duties or rights, keeping within well established and traditional laws, fit conduct for most people, staying within virtues and some fit way or ways of living.
The Sanskrit word dharma has a much broader meaning than religion. Many sides to life, such as getting wealth (artha), fulfilling of desires (kama), and getting free (moksha) are part of dharma which at best encapsulates a proper, fair way of things and fulfilling harmony deep within.
Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with "fuzzy edges" and a sense of unity in it - perhaps like that of an umbrella. It covering very many ways of life among Hindus.
Hinduism does not have one single founder.
Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to) Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsára (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action, intent and consequences), Moksha (liberation from samsara or liberation in this life), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).
Classical Hindu thought accepts four proper goals or aims of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. These are known as the Purushárthas:
Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is, states Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one's nature and true calling, thus playing one's role in cosmic concert.
Krishna defines dharma as upholding both affairs of this world and affairs of the other, inner world. (Mbh 12.110.11)
Artha (livelihood, wealth). A proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life.
Káma (sensual pleasure) is considered an essential and healthy goal of human life when pursued without sacrificing Dharma, Artha and Moksha, longing, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, even love, with or without sexual connotations.
Moksha (liberation, freedom from samsara) Moksha is a concept associated with liberation from sorrow, suffering and samsára (birth-rebirth cycle). In many schools, moksha means a state of bliss through self-realization - such freedom and "realizing the whole universe as my Self".
Moksha, liberation, is transcendental consciousness. It is also referred to as nirvana. It involves realization of one's deep Self, that inner knowledge is ultimate goal of life, says Adi Shankara. Yet the meaning of moksha differs among the various Hindu schools of thought.
Vedantic schools further speaks of jivanmukti (liberation in this life) and videhamukti (liberation after death).
Karma. Karma translates literally as action, work, or deed. A karma theory: Dominant actions in a life tend to bring "fruits", consequences later on in one or several future lives.
Samsara. The cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is called samsara. Liberation from samsara through moksha is believed to ensure lasting happiness and peace. Hindu scriptures teach that the future is both a function of current human effort related to free will or fruitful circumstances and past human actions that brought about inner tendencies (samskaras) and given circumstances.
The Supreme Being, the Lord is called by many names, and Gods and Goddesses may seem as many as raindrops from the clouds on a sunny day . . . It happens at times that raindrops fall from a clear sky. There are Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism, and the spirit or true "self" of every person, is called the átman.
It is the Holy Unity in a God or Goddess or anything that call for much respect. A Vedic view is that unifying divinity connects everyone and everything.
The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures. The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism, or Vishnuism.
Goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same Brahman and Shakti (energy
The Yoga school of Hinduism accepts the concept of a "personal god".
Advaita Vedanta teaches Oneness in everything.
Doubts abound up to a level
There is a strong tradition of internal debate and challenging of religious texts and questioning of authority in Hinduism.
Doubt plays a repeated role in the Mahabharata. Narratives in the Upanishads present characters questioning persons of authority. The Katha Upanishad presents narratives where the student criticizes the teacher's answers.
Smartism is an umbrella term. It is believed that the Smarta tradition developed around the beginning of the Common Era, The Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, and regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer; he considered worship of God-with-attributes (saguna Brahman) as leading towards realizing God-without-attributes (nirguna Brahman, Atman, Self-knowledge).
The term Smartism is derived from Smriti texts of Hinduism. Jnana yoga is studied in it.
Some Shiva adherents visualize god as half male, half female, as a fusion of the male and female principles (Ardhanarishvara).
Shaktism focuses on goddess worship of Shakti or Devi as cosmic mother. Devi is depicted through gentle and fierce forms.
Shruti (lit. that which is heard) primarily refers to the four Vedas – Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. The Vedas form the earliest record of the Hindu scriptures, and are regarded as eternal truths revealed in time-streams to sages (rishis) of old.
The Upanishads are widely influential in Hinduism. Among 108 Upanishads, 10 and 13 are said to be main Upanishads.  
The most notable of the Smritis ("remembered") are the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The epics consist of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is an interwoven, small part of the Mahabharata.
It is thought that the oldest Puranas, were composed from about 300 CE and onward. Puranas have traditionally spread common themes of Hinduism through vivid narratives.
The Yoga Sutras is a classical text
Rituals are not mandatory in Hinduism. Individuals are free to choose their how and where and so on. Some light a lamp and do some meditation. Others do not.
Rites of passage in Hinduism are not mandatory, and vary
Having a favourite deity, istha devata, is linked to a view that the ultimate reality, cosmic Spirit, manifests in many forms. Finding one's Self means finding the Self within oneself first. There is that hope for some, if not many, at a certain time, like now . . .
Hindu festivals are ceremonies that weave individual and social life to dharma, and thus are able to lift some of us higher. That is the intent - to lift higher.
Help for rejuvenation and more: Forests or seashore or rivers or ponds, as well as virtues, actions, studies or states of mind may help somewhat in finding one's balance if it is weakened, faltering or halting.
Hinduism and Buddhism share many methods. There is no big difference between basic outlooks of Advaita Vedanta and forms of Mahayana Buddhism, like Nyingma Buddhism, that do not discredit atman, or Self.
There are several methods (yogas) taught for reaching Self-knowledge of Adi Shankara or Nirvana of tantric Buddhism. In Nyinga, the main practice, Trekchö, which crowns other practices, admonishes against practice (!) Thus, you practice till you don't.
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Deussen, Paul, tr. 1980. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass.
Deutsch, Eliot, and Rohit Dalvi, eds. 2004. Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book on Advaita Vedanta. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom.
Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. 1978. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University.
Flood, Gavin. 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Vivekananda, Swami. 1977. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vols 1-8. 6th ed. Calcutta: Advaita Asram.
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