Hindu Dharma has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination. However, academics categorize contemporary Hindu society into four major denominations: vaishnava, saiva, shakta and smarta. The denominations differ primarily in the God worshipped as the Supreme One and in the traditions that accompany worship of that God.

Vaishnavas worship Vishnu; saivas worship Siva; shaktas worship Shakti (power) personified through a female divinity or Mother Goddess, Devi; while smartas believe in the essential sameness of all deities.

There are movements that are not easily placed in any of the above categories, such as Swami Dayananda Saraswati's Arya Samaj, which rejects image worship and veneration of multiple deities. It focuses on the Vedas and the yajña (Vedic fire sacrifices).

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