Hinduism is mankind's oldest living religious tradition, which has practiced since time immemorial. One English missionary in India, comparing Hinduism with other world civilisations long since dead, paid tribute to its endurance “...but Hinduism lives on. Age has not decayed it, rivals have not destroyed it."
The term ‘Hindu’ is related to the word Sindhu – the name of a river, which is known in English as the river Indus. Because of the difficulty in pronunciation by the Persians the river Sindhu became the river ‘Hindu’. And the inhabitants living across the river ‘Hindu’ became Hindus and the land became to be known as Hindustan. Hence, the major religion of India (Latin derivative of Hindu), became to be known as Hinduism.
Hinduism became an umbrella description for the multitude of religious ideas in the Indian sub-continent. Some of these ideas adhere closely to the original Vedic tradition, while over the years many have incorporated local influences with regional, linguistic and doctrinal variations. The proliferation of Hindu denominations fall within three main groups: Vaishnavaism, worship of Krishna and His incarnations; Shaivism, worship of Shiva; and the Shaktas who worship Kali. The all-embracing nature of Hinduism often appears confusing for the Western mind, but despite external variety, much philosophy is common for all Hindus.
A notable feature of Hinduism, referred to as Sanatana Dharma (the eternal religion) or Vedic Dharma (pertaining to the Vedas), is that it does not originate from one prophet or teacher. The earliest record of Hindu teaching is found in the Vedas (c. 3000 B.C.), but many authorities claim that Hinduism is as old as the universe, being based upon eternal truths, which have no mortal source. Other great religions - Jainism, Buddhism, and more recently Sikhism - appeared from the Vedic tradition.