So many of the great religions and isms of the world had great founding fathers and mothers. Christianity had Jesus Christ. Islam had Mohammed. Buddhism had Buddha. Confucianism had Confucius. Protestantism had Martin Luther. The Quakers had George Fox. The Latter Day Saints had Brigham Young. Christian Science had Mary Baker Eddy. So who founded Hinduism?
Well, let it be know that there is no single person who can be named who started the ancient and venerable religion of Hinduism. It is one the oldest religions or maybe even the oldest religion of the world, and no single individual can be given credit for its creation.
And no one can even tell with any accuracy when the religion arose. Even the meaning and derivation of the word "Hindu" is obscure, although some guess that it came from the Indus River. Yes, like the mists that rise over the Indus River in India, where it probably all began, early, early in the morning of the world, the long roots of Hinduism are hard to discern.
The homeland of the Hindu religion is the Indian subcontinent. The religion is believed to have started as long ago as 6,000 years before the present.
Hinduism is unlike religions like Christianity and Islam in that it does not have any founding figure or figures. Instead, its origins are lost to history.
As befits such an old faith, Hinduism is very complex and hard to understand. It also has a lot of variation in terms of belief and practice within people who consider themselves Hindu.
It's also worth noting that the word "Hindu" is a term that is not found in Hindu scriptures. It was actually given to the religion by foreigners, not by Hindus themselves.
Hinduism is not an organised religion. You cannot formally convert into a Hindu or adopt Hindu religion by any rituals like baptism. Many people consider Hinduism as a way of life and a philosophy rather than a religion.
There are many books that represent the Hindu philosophy and also describe characters that represent Hindu gods. But it should be noted that theses books represent many alternate philosophies, and to be Hindu it is not necessary to accept any of these thoughts. Most of the Hindus do accept and worship many of the characters represented in these books as gods, but such acceptance of anyone or more of these gods is not necessary to qualify as a Hindu. As a matter of fact, the Hindu philosophy these gods more as different aspects of resources and powers of the nature and the universe which need to be manged rather than super power to be worshiped to gain entry of heaven. For example, Rain God is supposed to give rain that produces food grain, and therefore efforts must be directed to improve the situation of rain god (or the rain.)
What we call Hinduism is a name given to the religion followed by the original residents of Indian subcontinent. This is the religion followed by the all the people of Indian Subcontinent, who did not convert to any other religion such as Mohammedanism or Christianity. It is worthwhile noting that for people of ancient India Buddhism was just a movement within Hindu philosophy and beliefs. It was more of a reformation in Hinduism way of life rather than a separate religion. That is why, over a period, Indians who accepted Buddhist ways, over a period merged into Hindu mainstream, losing their separate identity.
Coming to origins of Indian religion, it must be clarified, that knowledge about its origin is not lost to history. We do not know who was founder of Hindu religion, because there was no founder. As said it is a way of life, or a culture which developed over a time with development of common beliefs and practices in society.
Though the word Hindu was originally used Mohammedan invaders to refer to people living in the plains of river Sindhu. These people had a tendency to pronounce the syllable 's' as 'h'. The meaning of this word got extended to the residents of entire subcontinent. Now it refers to the the people who follow the original religion of people of this region.
Hinduism has evolved out of the amalgamation of ideas and culture of two sets of people. First set of people, who called themselves Arya, were people who were original residents of the region around westernmost part of Pakistan, and who slowly migrated in various parts of India. The second set of people were the original residents of India for tens of thousands of year.
The earliest books that documented the beliefs and practices of these people is perhaps set of books called Vedas,written many thousands of years back. Vedas are more of beliefs, knowledge, and practices of different people compiled at one place, rather than a set of accepted beliefs and practices recommended by any one person or religion. However many staunch Hindus consider Vedas as the most authoritative source of guidance of Hindu religion. Such belief find little practical support from an average Hindu. Vedas are believed to have been compiled by Vyasa.
Other books, also written thousands of years back that have influenced Hindu religion profoundly include, Mahabharata, Bhagwad and Ramayana.