India religion: Known to be the “land of religions” and is certainly has it's fair share of them! It is appropriate to call it such because India is where some major world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism originated from. Today, Indian religion is just as diverse as its culture. For the people of India, culture, religion and spirituality are closely bonded. This is probably why many people all over the world visit India to experience the kind of spiritual release that one can only find in this mystical land.
Religions in India
Hinduism is the majority religion of India. About 80% of the entire Indian population adheres to this religion. Hinduism originated in India and is considered to be the oldest major world religion today.
The India religion of Hinduism is not easy to explain. It has been called by some as a “museum of religions” because its philosophy is very diverse, that at certain points it brushes alongside the beliefs and philosophies of the other world religions. Hinduism has no one sacred book that acts as a spiritual guide to its followers. Instead it has produced sacred texts such as the Rig Veda, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.
Hinduism believes that everything is connected to each other. The totality of everything is called Brahman. Hindus are not required to worship a single deity, they are free to worship the different Hindu gods and goddesses, or they can simply believe in the “Supreme Spirit” or “Indestructible Soul”.
Hinduism believes in the cycle of birth, life and death until one reaches enlightenment. Karma plays a very important part in this cycle as it will determine the state that a person is reincarnated into based on the good and bad deeds the person has accumulated in one lifetime. Hindus also follow a caste system that determines a person’s social standing in society.
Islam arrived in India during the 8th century through Arab traders. Today, the second largest Muslim population in the world can be found in India. About 13% of the entire Indian population is Islam.
Islam was founded by Mohammed in 622 CE in Mecca. It is a monotheistic faith which believes that Allah is one true God. Muslims are required to submit to Allah and believe in universal brotherhood. The sacred book of Islam is called the Quran while the Hadith, is a sacred compilation of the sayings of Mohammad. In the beginning there were conflicts between Hinduism and Islam but today, the two different religions have both enriched the almost every aspect of Indian society.
Christianity arrived in India through one of Jesus’ apostles, Thomas (St. Thomas), who founded the first Christian church in Kerala, Southwest India. Today, there are about 25 million Christians in India, the majority of them (about 60% or so) are Catholic.
Christianity actually broke away from another religion called Judaism. They share some common beliefs and believe in the same history up to the time of Jesus Christ, the son of the Almighty Father. Christianity is a strict monotheistic religion that believes in the trinity of one God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit). Their sacred book is called the Bible which is a guide as to how to become a better Christian.
Christianity helped bring modern influences to India through Christian missionaries who helped in putting up schools and colleges all throughout the country.
Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in North India. He preached that Hinduism and Islam were essentially the same which attracted a lot of followers. He eventually founded Sikhism in the early 16th century. The Sikhs believe that there is only one God who is known by many names and takes no form. They believe in karma and in reincarnation like the Hindus but they do not believe in having a caste system. Like Muslims, they pray many times during the day. The sacred book of the Sikhs is called the “Guru Granth Sahib” which is a compilation of all the teachings of their founder Guru Nanak.
Buddhism was founded by Prince Siddharta Gautama who would later change his name to Buddha in 535 BCE once he reached the state of ‘enlightenment’. Buddhist believe that to reach enlightenment, one must follow the “Middle Path” which means avoiding anything in extreme and all other worldly things that one does not really need at all. The main tenet of Buddhism is known as The Four Noble Truths. Their sacred, which contains all the teachings of Buddha, is called the Tripitaka.
Jainism, like other India religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, originated from India. It was established during the same time Buddhism was being established in India as an India religion. Jains believe that liberation from the material world can only be achieved through the purification of the soul.