Hindu religious thought embodies a great variety of ideas, principles and practices, giving rise to various religious schools (sampradayas). Each school venerates the Supreme Deity, which represents a particular aspect of the Ultimate Reality (Brahman). Each school has temples, guru lineages, religious leaders, pilgrimage centers, monastic communities, and sacred literature. Some of these schools hold such divergent views that each appears to be a complete religion in itself. Yet, they all believe in the central doctrines of Hindu religion, such as karma, dharma, reincarnation, divinity of the atman, sacraments, deity worship, guru-shishya (teacher-disciple) tradition and the scriptural authority of the Vedas. None of these schools is in any way superior or inferior to the others. They simply represent different ways of approach to the same goal and are meant for various classes of people having different tastes, aptitudes, temperaments, and exhibiting various levels of spiritual development.
The Hindu religious systems have been classified by Adi Shankar-acharya into six major paths, called Shad-maths. These are Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Ganapathyam, Kaumaram, and Sauram or Jyotiam.
Author : Shri Bansi Pandit