Hindu revivalism 01
Hindu revivalism With the onset of the British Raj, the colonization of India by the British, there also started a Hindu renaissance in the 19th century, which profoundly changed the understanding of Hinduism in both India and the west. Indology as an academic discipline of studying Indian culture from a European perspective was established in the 19th century, led by scholars such as Max Müller and John Woodroffe. They brought Vedic, Puranic and Tantric literature and philosophy to Europe and the United States. Western orientalist searched for the "essence" of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas, and meanwhile creating the notion of "Hinduism" as a unified body of religious praxis and the popular picture of 'mystical India'. This idea of a Vedic essence was taken over by Hindu reform movements as the Brahmo Samaj, which was supported for a while by the Unitarian Church, together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all religions share a common mystic ground. This "Hindu modernism", with proponents like Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Radhakrishnan, became central in the popular understanding of Hinduism. Popularity in the west Influential 20th-century Hindus were Ramana Maharshi, B.K.S. Iyengar, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON), Sri Chinmoy, Swami Rama and others who translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism's foundational texts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, raising the profiles of Yoga and Vedanta in the West and attracting followers and attention in India and abroad. Hindu practices such as Yoga, Ayurvedic health, Tantric sexuality through Neotantra and the Kama Sutra have spread beyond Hindu communities and have been accepted by several non-Hindus: Hinduism is attracting Western adherents through the affiliated practice of yoga. Yoga centers in the West—which generally advocate vegetarianism—attract young, well-educated Westerners who are drawn by yoga's benefits for the physical and emotional health; there they are introduced to the Hindu philosophical system taught by most yoga teachers, known as Vedanta. It is estimated that around 30 million Americans and 5 million Europeans regularly practice some form of Hatha Yoga. In Australia, the number of practitioners is about 300,000.[web 14] In New Zealand the number is also around 300,000.[web 15] Hindutva In the 20th century, Hinduism also gained prominence as a political force and a source for national identity in India. With origins traced back to the establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha in the 1910s, the movement grew with the formulation and development of the Hindutva ideology in the following decades; the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925; and the entry, and later success, of RSS offshoots Jana Sangha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in electoral politics in post-independence India. Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement.[note 39][note 40] Demographics Main article: Hinduism by country Hinduism – Percentage by country Hinduism by country Continents colour2.svg Om symbol.svg Africa[show] Asia[show] Europe[show] North America[show] Oceania[show] South America[show] Full list vte Hinduism is a major religion in India. Hinduism was followed by around 79.8% of the country's population of 1.21 billion (2011 census) (960 million adherents).[web 16] Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.9 million). The majority of the Vietnamese Cham people also follow Hinduism, with the largest proportion in Ninh Thuận Province. Countries with the greatest proportion of Hindus: Nepal 81.3%[web 17] India 79.8% Mauritius 48.5% Guyana 28.4%[web 18] Fiji 27.9%[web 19] Bhutan 22.6%[web 20] Suriname 22.3%[web 21] Trinidad and Tobago 18.2% Qatar 13.8% Sri Lanka 12.6%[web 22] Bahrain 9.8% Bangladesh 8.5%[web 23] Réunion 6.7% United Arab Emirates 6.6% Malaysia 6.3%[web 24] Kuwait 6% Oman 5.5% Singapore 5%[web 25] Thaipusam procession in Singapore Seychelles 2.4%[web 26] New Zealand 2.1% Demographically, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. Conversion debate In the modern era, religious conversion from and to Hinduism has been a controversial subject. Some state the concept of missionary conversion, either way, is anathema to the precepts of Hinduism. Religious conversion to Hinduism has a long history outside India. Merchants and traders of India, particularly from the Indian peninsula, carried their religious ideas, which led to religious conversions to Hinduism in southeast Asia. Within India, archeological and textual evidence such as the 2nd-century BCE Heliodorus pillar suggest that Greeks and other foreigners converted to Hinduism. The debate on proselytization and religious conversion between Christianity, Islam and Hinduism is more recent, and started in the 19th century.[note 41] Religious leaders of some Hindu reform movements such as the Arya Samaj launched Shuddhi movement to proselytize and reconvert Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism, while those such as the Brahmo Samaj suggested Hinduism to be a non-missionary religion. All these sects of Hinduism have welcomed new members to their group, while other leaders of Hinduism's diverse schools have stated that given the intensive proselytization activities from missionary Islam and Christianity, this "there is no such thing as proselytism in Hinduism" view must be re-examined. The appropriateness of conversion from major religions to Hinduism, and vice versa, has been and remains an actively debated topic in India, and in Indonesia.