I have been postponing writing about the Perceived sub divisions in Hinduism as it is likely to be misinterpreted by vested interests.
However it is necessary to record facts about Hinduism, without prejudice.
Before understanding about the divisions in Hinduism,one must first study the Vedas,the highest authority in Hinduism.
None of Hindu sects question the Authority of the Vedas,Sruthi as a means of Knowledge.
Knowledge,to Hindus,is of two kinds.
Para Vidya and
Para Vidya is Real Knowledge or Absolute Knowledge.
This is transcendental.
It is not relative Knowledge.
Apara Vidya is the knowledge that relates to our daily activities.
This is Relative knowledge.
Here the knowledge is not Absolute.
It is dependent on various factors.
This is transient knowledge.
This does not lead to realisation of Self.
Sciences and all disciplines are relegated to this category in Hinduism.
They are considered as lower knowledge.
Vedas speak of Para Knowledge.
That is the Absolute knowledge gleaned by the Seers,Rishis and they have recorded it.
Knowledge derived from Vedas ,declare Vedas are Real and Vedas are considered to be the Breath of Reality.
Brahman,the Reality is a Principle,beyond description.
It is beyond mind,senses.
Beyond space and time.
It can be experienced,not known,in the Cognitive sense.
Vedas,though there are various deities invoked in them,speak of one Reality,as expressed in the Four Mahavakyas,Four Great Truths,Sayings.
Tatvam Asi,That Thou Art,
Aham Brahmasmi,I am Brahman,
Soham Asmi,He Is That,
Pragyaanam Brahma,Brahman is Consciousness.
This is the Core of the Vedas.
However many deities are mentioned and mantras to worship them are provided.
This type of worship is called Saguna Aradhana, Worship of Personal God.
This is considered as lower knowledge.
Higher knowledge is that which enables one to realise Brahman.
Worship of Brahman,with the purpose of Realising It,as One Beyond Attributes,is called Nirguna Aradhana.
This is higher knowledge.
However one should not consider Saguna Aradhana as Inferior.
One can find in Vishnu Sahasranama and Lalitha Sahasranama both Saguna Aradhana and Nirguna Aradhana are found.
In Lalitha. Sahasranama,these form separate chapters.
It is one level.
Contemplating on Abstract Principle is difficult for the Human Mind.
It needs a point to contemplate,at the initial stages.
Once one continues Saguna Aradhana,one would automatically proceed to Nirguna Aradhana.
One has to keep these points in mind before attempting to understand divisions in Hinduism.
Various systems in Indian philosophy follow these Mahavakyas and the differ in interpreting them.
It is one Perspective.
Reality has many Perspectives.
So we have,
- Souryam and
As many deities are mentioned, many systems of worship came into being and at one point of time there were over 64 Systems.
Adi Shankaracharya classified them into the above mentioned six systems.
The Vedas do not speak of Shaivam or Vaishnavam.
Later based on who was worshiped, names of sects came into existence.
So tecnicaly speaking, there is no authority of the Vedas to call one Shaiva or Vaishnava.
However Smritis have formulated rules for worship.
But Smriti is not the Final Authority.
One who follows Smriti is a Smartha.
He may worship Shiva or Narayana.
This system of worship continued along with Worship of Brahman as Nirguna.
Vedas are in Sanskrit.
Tamil,a language of India which is as old as Sanskrit and it is difficult to find out which precedes the other.
Initially those who worship Narayana,Sri Vaishnavas gave first priority to Sanskrit.
Later Tamil was given priority.
It is said that Vedas follow Vishnu,while Vishnu Follows Tamil,alluding to the fact that,while the idol of Vishnu is in procession, those who chant Tamil Hymns from NalayiraDivya.Prabhabandha,precede the Idol,while Those who chant Vedas follow behind the Idol.