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published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/20/14

Timeline of Hinduism



A Chronology of the Hindu religion

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The Hindu belief system is unlike other world religions in that it doesn't have a known founder and its establishment is difficult to date. What is clear is that it's saturated with Indian culture and customs. Many of its traditions and practices have evolved over centuries, even millenniums in some cases, which makes studying its history a valuable endeavor.

The following timeline of Hinduism, summarizes some of the most important events in the belief system since its founding. By reading through the timeline, one is able to track the developments of the Hindu religion in history. Links will take the reader to more in-depth articles on he topics mentioned. (see Hindu beliefs)



A timeline of the Hindu faith


2800-2000 BCE
Indus Valley civilization.
1200-900 BCE
Early Vedic Period - earliest Vedas are compiled.
900-600 BCE
Late Vedic period - Brahmanical religion develops, emphasizing ritual and social obligation.
800-300 BCE
The 11 major Upanishads are written, which include the ideas of reincarnation and karma.
500 BCE-1000 CE
Epics and Puranas are written, reflecting the rise of devotional movements dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Devi.
5th cent. BCE
Buddhism and Jainism founded in India.
c. 320-185 BCE
Mauryan Dynasty founded by Chandragupta.
c. 320-500 CE
Gupta empire.
c. 500-650 CE
Gupta empire divides into several kingdoms.
c. 600-1600 CE
Rise of devotional movements, puja (worship) rituals, and idea of equality of devotees.
7th-11th cent.
Esoteric movements based on Tantras develop.
c. 870-1280
Cholas dynasty. Hinduism arises in the south.
1498
European presence in southern Asia begins with the arrival of Vasco de Gama.
1540s
Portugese missionaries arrive in India.
17th-19th cent.
Hindu Renaissance.
c. 1700
British East India Company formed.
1720
Collapse of the Mughal empire; British begin to take power.
1857
National War of Independence against the British is sparked by the British use of cow fat in guns.
1876
Queen Victoria becomes Empress of India.
1895
Vedanta Society founded by Vivekananda. Promotes Hinduism as a world religion and India as a single nation.
1915
Gandhi joins the nationalist movement.
1947
India regains independence, but its partitioning leads to conflicts between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.
1948
Assassination of Gandhi.
1950
Constitution of the Republic of India.

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Source
  1. John Bowker, ed., Cambridge History of Religions, p. 312.