India known for its cultural heritage and warm and friendly people, India is one the oldest civilizations on earth. In Hindi India is known as Bharat or Hindustan. Officially known as the “Republic of India” it is the largest liberal democracy of the world. India is divided into 28 states and 6 union territories. The language, geography and climatic conditions and huge natural resources are hardly comparable with any other country.
India is strategically located in southern Asia, bordering Pakistan China, Nepal, and Bhutan on the north; Bangladesh, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and the Bay of Bengal on the east; the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean on the south; and the Arabian Sea and Pakistan on the west. New Delhi is the capital of India and is one of the largest cities.
India believes in “spiritual integrity” and “unity in diversity”. The secular nature of India has attracted philosophers and researchers from across the globe to explore India. Peace, prosperity and religious tolerance are other integral parts of India’s composite culture.
India is also the land of the Vedas - the oldest scriptures in the world. It is divided in four-volumes and is regarded as the storehouse of national thoughts. India’s love for complex art forms is evident in the various religious and mythological references.
Today, India is the world’s seventh largest country in terms of area and second in terms of population. The sights, sounds, the ancient temples and the lush paddy fields make the country unique and amazing. It has 22 major languages with 844 dialects, making this country and its people culturally diverse.
The most dominant religion in India today is Hinduism. About 80% of Indians are Hindus. Hinduism is a colorful religion with a vast gallery of Gods and Goddesses. Hinduism is one of the ancient religions in the world. It is supposed to have developed about 5000 years ago. Later on in ancient period other religions developed in India.
Around 500 BC two other religions developed in India, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. Today only about 0.5% of Indians are Jains and about 0.7% are Buddhist. In ancient times Jainism and specially Buddhism were very popular in India. Indians who accepted Buddhist philosophy spread it not only within the Indian sub-continent but also to kingdoms east and south of India.
These three ancient religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, are seen as the molders of the India philosophy. In 'modern' period new religions were also established in India