Hinduism is a very broad term for the religious practices and doctrines of the Indian people. This tradition is believed to have begun in about 1800 BCE with religious poems known as the Vedas. Hinduism is best known in the west through the doctrines of Advaita, the belief that there is only one ultimate reality. Advaitans, however, worshipped a range of icons that represented the separate manifestations of the ultimate Brahman.
As one of the world's most ancient civilizations, India presents a rich mosaic of political, religious, and cultural influences. In 1947 this vast region was split; Pakistan was created to separate Moslems from Hindus, and millions died. Strife and political troubles continue to plague India.