Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...
, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...
, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture. Rather than one consistent, monolithic structure, it is a range of diverse traditions, developed by different sects, people and philosophical schools, in different regions and at different times, which are not necessarily held by all Hindus to be literal accounts of historical events, but are taken to have deeper, often symbolic, meaning, and which have been given a complex range of interpretations.
The four Vedas, notably the hymns of the Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...
, contained allusions to many themes (see Rigvedic deities
There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.Indra, a heroic god, slayer of Vrtra and destroyer of the Vala, liberator of the cows and the rivers; Agni the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods; and Soma the ritual drink dedicated to Indra are the most...
, Rigvedic rivers
Rivers, such as the Sapta Sindhu , play a prominent part in the hymns of the Rigveda, and consequently in early Vedic religion...
In the period of Classical Sanskrit, much material is preserved in the Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...
and the Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....