until 30 | 3 | 2014

Pantheon of Indian Gods | Artworks from the Collection F. K. Heller

According to an Indian saying, there are 330,000 gods. And this only refers to the gods of Hinduism, the religion of 80% of the population. Yet India is a land of great religious diversity.

The roots of Hinduism stretch back over 3000 years. The peoples who migrated into the country from the West at that time – the Aryans – brought a new religion with them. After a process of controversial exchange with the beliefs of the indigenous Indian population, this religion emerged transformed into Hinduism, which has continued to develop further to the present day by assimilating extraneous religious ideas.

Some 2500 years ago, Jainism and Buddhism were founded, which set themselves apart from the cult of sacrificial offerings and the caste system customary at the time. Both attracted great numbers of devotees.

This trend was reversed through a reform of Hinduism about 2000 years ago which systematized its contents and borrowed elements from other religions. Christianity also reached the country at about the same time.