INTRODUCTION -India, the land of spirituality and philosophy considers religion as an integral part of its entire tradition. The worship of various religions and its rituals play a significant role in every aspect of human life in the country.
HISTORY- India is the birthplace of four of the worlds major religious traditions; namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Throughout its history, religion has been an important part of the countrys culture. Religious diversity and religious tolerance are both established in the country by law and custom. A vast majority of Indians associate themselves with a religion.
Hinduism is the predominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, and one of its indigenous religions. Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder Hinduism is often called the “Oldest Living Religion“. Hinduism does not have a "unified system of belief encoded in declaration of faith or a creed“, but is rather an umbrella term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena originating and based on the Vedic traditions.
Hinduism refers to a religious mainstream which evolved organically and spread over a large territory marked by significant ethnic and cultural diversity. Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, , pantheism, monism and atheism among others. Its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed.
The core beliefs of Hinduism that are generally accepted by many of its practitioners are AvatarVada, Ekeshwaravada (One Supreme Divine Reality), Veda Praman (Authority of the Vedas), Atman, Karma,Yoga, Ahimsa, Four Pu ruṣārthas, Varnashrama dharma and Punarjanma (Reincarnation) . Core knowledge of India’s great spiritual tradition is what came to America and was adapted to life in this country. “From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West”
Even Christians and Jews have started adding meditation and yoga to their own religious practices Hinduism is not a missionary religion and will never spread to other parts of the world through acts of conversion. Hinduism will spread to other parts of the world, just the way Vedic religion spread in India millenniums before, peacefully, through individual families and their religious activities and contributions. This is how Hinduism will become a beacon of eternal divine wisdom for the generations to come in different nations of the world.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev which continued to progress with ten successive Sikh gurus. Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism. It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs. The principal beliefs of Sikh are faith in Waheguru—represented by the phrase ’ Ik OANKAR ” ,meaning one God. Sikhism is a practical religion, it does not consist in a certain set of beliefs or mere words
Sikhs are not Hindus, though they arose from Hinduism and share many beliefs and traditions. Customs or traditions have changed Sikhs ,they have become westernized. The biggest change has been the cutting of hair. Thus, it has become a matter of debate in the Sikh community as to whether it is acceptable to call yourself a Sikh even if you have cut your hair. This is particularly true of men and becoming increasingly true of women both here an- in India.
Buddhism, is a world religion, which arose in and around ancient Kingdom of Magadha , and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. It spread outside of Magadha starting in the Buddhas lifetime, and with the reign of the Buddhist Mauryan Emperor Asoka. It spread across Nepal straight down to China and all the way to Japan and became one of the dominant religions in these parts of Asia. Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English , referred to themselves as Saugata. Other terms were; namely Sakyansm, Sakyabhiksu, Sakyaputto, Ariy asavako, and Jinaputto.
In the modern world, the total number of the Buddhists vary between 230 millions and 500 millions, and even is increasing as the Buddhist ideology, which is based on logic and science, is appealing modern man with modern thoughts. India where Buddhism had evolved and from this place had spread to other parts of the world. Almost all the major sects of Buddhism are prevalent in different parts of the Asian continent. While Tantrayana or Vajrayana is predominant in Tibet, Mongolia and parts of India.
The Buddhist flag that was designed tocelebrate the revival of Buddhism in SriLanka, later was accepted as the InternationalBuddhist flag, indicating peace, harmony andlove for all beings.
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Jain doctrine teaches that Jainism has always existed and will always exist, although historians date the foundation of the organized or present form of Jainism to sometime between the 9th and the 6th century BC Jains believe that to attain enlightenment and ultimately liberation from all karmic bonding, one must practice the following ethical principles i.e. Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non- stealing), Brahmacharya (Celibacy), Aparigraha (Non- possession, Non-materialism)
In the modern world, the name Mahatma Gandhi has become synonymous with non-violence. In many ways, the principles practiced by Gandhi have very special relevance to the Jain community. He exemplified the practical application of some of the basic principles of Jainism. Though followed by relatively less people in the world, Jainism is highly respected by all those non-Jainas who have studied Jainism or who have come into contact with the true followers of Jainism.
There are instances of non- Jaina people in the world who have most willingly either adopted Jainism or have accepted and put into practice the principles of Jainism. . Though a religion of a small minority, Jainism is not the religion of a particular race, caste or community. People from all the four classified communities of ancient India; Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra have followed Jainism. Hence Jainism is a Universal Religion.
The works of Scholars and eastern Christian writings claim that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle. He visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 A.D and baptized Keralas Jewish settlements who are know as ‘Saint Thomas Christians’.Christianity is India’s 3rd largest religion with 24 million followers, constituting 2.3% of Indias population. The French Dominican missionary Jordanus catalani was the 1st European to start conversion in India.
Although the exact origins of Christians in India remain unclear, there is a general scholarly consensus that Christianity was rooted in India by the 3rd century A.D . Christianity in India has different denominations such as Roman Catholicism, Oriental orthodox Christianity and Protestantism. While Christians in India do not share one common culture, their cultures for the most part tend to be a blend of India and European culture. India ranks 15th among countries with highest church attendance , religious processions and Carnivals.
Christian philosophy represents an entire worldview, a view that is consistent with the Bible throughout. In the end, you choose between a materialist/naturalist worldview and a super naturalist worldview and your choice will create repercussions throughout every aspect of your life. Thus the task of showing the relevance of the Christian realistic philosophy to a world in process is one which requires eternal vigilance.
Islam is the second most practiced religion in the Republic of India after Hinduism with 13.4% of the country’s population. Though Islam came in the 7th century with the advent of Arab traders , it started to become a major religion during the Muslim conquest in the Indian sub-continent. In India the Muslims are divided into 2 main sects- SUNNI and SHIA. Along with these two main divisions Muslims have other divisions also like the Bohra and the Khoja. Another well known Muslim community is the Pathan, they have arrived from Afghanistan to India.
Islam is a monotheistic religion centered around the belief in one god, and following the example of Muhammad. As per Muslim rituals thy offer 5 daily prayers at specific times of the day, indicated by ‘ADHAN’ from the local mosques. Before offering prayers they must ritually clean themselves by performing ‘WUDU’, which involves washing the body parts that are usually exposed to dirt or dust. A recent study by Saachaar Committee found that 3-4% of the Muslim children study in Madrasas.
Islam is a religion for all people from whatever race or background they might be. That is why Islamic civilization is based on a unity which stands completely against any racial or ethnic discrimination. Such major racial and ethnic groups as the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Malays in addition to numerous smaller units embraced Islam and contributed to the building of Islamic civilization nation. The global civilization created by Islam also succeeded in activating the mind and thought of the people who entered its fold
The religion of Islam was itself responsible not only for the creation of a world civilization in which people of many different ethnic backgrounds participated, but it played a central role in developing intellectual and cultural life on a scale not seen before.
It was no doubt accepted that India, inhabited by many religions, did not discriminate against any religion and will allow freedom of religions to the followers of different religions.Secularism is the doctrine that morality should be based solely on regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life to the exclusion of all considerations drawn on belief in God or in a future State. Secularism is a much-discussed word in India and it never fails to evoke the strongest of reactions from all concerned.
However, it must also to be noted that the Indian State is not truly ‘secular’, for all its claims, protestations and displays of righteous indignation. Indian etatiste secularism is best described as ‘haphazard’, displaying a crass insensitivity to the feelings of both the majority and minority communities. The customs and traditions of our great systems of belief, viz., Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism , Christianity and Islam, have been trivialized by the over-zealous manoeuvres of our stridently secular State.
In conclusion, it appears that secularism in India is, to quote a Bengali adage— “a stone bowl of gold” (sonar pathorbati)! Whereas the Constitution enjoins us to disjoin religion from politics and administration, it will be progressively more difficult to require this of certain classes of our society. Given the present trend, it is likelier that they will veer towards the Right, which in India carries the baggage of cultural/Hindu nationalism. This leaves the way clear for all pessimists, including the economy, would then be just fine!