by Jayaram V
Saivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism are considered to be the major sects of Hinduism. Followers of Saivism worship Lord Siva as their chief deity and regard him as Iswara, the Supreme Brahman. They wear a mark of three horizontal stripes on their foreheads. Followers of Vaishnavism worship Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Creator and wear a U shaped mark on the forehead with a long stripe between the two arms of U. The followers of Shakti consider the Mother Goddess as the Universal Self and creator of all.
In all the sects there are further sub sects. In Saivism for example we have Trika or Kashmiri Saivism, Vira Saivism, Pasupataya
Sect, Kalamuka and Kaplika sects and Saiva Siddhata school from the south.
Other important cults of Hinduism are the Ganapatya cult, whose principal deity is Ganesha and Saura Cult which is centered around the worship of Surya, the sun god.
Some of the sects fit into the definition of religion by themselves.
Of all the sects Vaishnavism is currently the most popular, with a
following of over 50% of Hindus in various parts of the world. Next
comes Saivism followed by Shaktism.
Suggested Further Reading