What has come to be called the Hindu tradition is a rich fabric of civilization, interweaving numerous threads and hues of religious life. The intricate blend of Aryan, Dravidian, and various tribal cultures has resulted in a rich variety of religious practices, a diverse region of many peoples and languages, and various forms of worship through the many manifestations and images of the divine. This dynamic network of religious currents is therefore better represented in the plural as Hindu traditions. Formulations and reformulations of these currents have continued through the centuries. And they continue today as Hindus in communities throughout the world reshape traditions in the context of their contemporary societies. While Hindu currents of thought and practices have flourished on the Indian subcontinent for at least three millennia, the concept of Hinduism as a world religion, as a unitary package of beliefs and rituals akin to Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism, emerged only in the 19th century colonial context via processes much debated in scholarship over the past three decades. While there are many divine figures, each with many names and forms, a large number of Hindu worshippers would insist that this many-ness must be understood in relation to a radical one-ness, expressed through the concept of Brahman, understood as the reality that transcends all personal names. This one reality, call it Brahman the divine or the real, can be perceived in and through an infinite number of names and forms. The earliest literary sources of the Hindu tradition are the vedas, literally knowledge, a body of ancient hymns and chants composed in the second millennium BCE, sometimes referred to as shruti, meaning literally what is heard. The vedas were not read on the page, but recited orally in metered verse. The Upanishads consider the end of vedas and dating largely from the eighth to the sixth centuries BCE are their wisdom literature and take the form of dialogues between teachers and students, reflecting about the origin, basis, and support of the universe. What is the cause? What is Brahman? Whence are we born? Whereby do we live? On what are we established? So asks the seeker in the Svetasvatara Upanishad. The teachers of the Upanishads point the way to a profound realization, that atman, the innermost self or breath of life, is identical with Brahman, the ultimate reality that pervades the entire universe. Along with these texts of philosophical reflections, another set of texts called the Dharmashastras were composed in the centuries before the common era. These focused on moral and social duties of individuals based on their place in the society and their station in life. The philosophical reflections of the Upanishads and the moral injunctions laid out in the Dharmashastras were woven into two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The mythological compendia called the Puranas, which have been the core texts of Hindu since the early centuries of the common era, contain hundreds of narratives about divine manifestations and form the basis of a varied religious expressions through ritual, pilgrimage, music, and dance. Numerous retellings and spin offs of the narratives contained in the epics and the Puranas are also found in popular vernacular texts that serve as scriptures for different groups, especially those outside of elite communities. Daily worship often offered to images in a household shrine might be directed to a particular god, goddess, or related figure with whom an individual or family has a special affinity. Hinduism is closely identified with India, where more than 95% of the world’s Hindus live. In the millennia prior to widespread Euro-American contact and colonial rule, religious identities throughout South Asia tended to be particular, context sensitive, and somewhat fluid. Hindu, as an identity marker, grew more significant as its scope both expanded and contracted during the struggle for independence from Britain. The British partition of Bengal in 1905, and later of India in 1947, into Hindu majority and Muslim majority areas generated a linking of religious and national identities. However, there are Hindu communities in virtually every part of the world today.