Here is a fantastic interview between Robert George, a politics professor and Shivaji Sondhi, a physics professor and practicing Hindu...both teach at Princeton University...Shivaji gives a very good overall description of Hindu Spiritual and Cultural beliefs...Well worth the read!
Robert George: Many non-Hindus believe that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. There are, however, Hindus who reject that understanding of divinity in Hinduism.
Shivaji Sondhi: Judaism, Christianity and Islam follow a certain template — a strictly monotheistic template, if you will, with established doctrines about God. In Hinduism one finds various traditions rather than established doctrines. There are a variety of beliefs and practices, some quite sophisticated, others less so. In broad strokes, we can distinguish what is sometimes called “high” Hinduism from folk Hinduism. There is a nested structure of beliefs that “high” Hindus can explain to you. Within that nested structure, the mainstream view would identify one single underlying reality — monism, we sometimes call it.
RG: There are two questions, then: first, the ultimate nature of reality, and, second, the question of how one should live. I assume that there is an important relationship between the two.
SS: Right. Hindus believe that there is an underlying reality which is different in significant ways from the world as human beings experience it, and it implies that there are non-instinctive aims that one should pursue in life.
The rest of the interview can be found here: