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The religious life of India is both ancient and diverse and increasingly plays a role in global culture. The very term India and its cognate terms, Hindu and Hindi, are global words, since they were applied to the people, culture, and language of the Indian subcontinent by people viewing it and entering it from outside. For this reason it is hard to define exactly what Hinduism is, though the census figures confidently record some 80% of India's population of 1.2 billion people as Hindu. Another 13% are Muslims; 2.3% are Christians; and less than 2% are Sikhs. Smaller numbers are listed as Jains, Buddhists, and Jews.

By definition, the traditional religious culture of India is the one associated with its cognate term, Hinduism. The terms India, ...

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