Indian Religions

Religions in India-

India is a land of diverse religions that exist in harmony and peace. The secularism is one of the most important aspects of the country. The largest section of the population is Hindu that has an established majority in the Nation but this does not deprive followers of other religions fro influencing the society. Most of the religions are divided into different sects. Hindus are divided into four castes - Brahmins or the scholars, Kshatriyas or the warriors and kings, Vaishyas or the businessmen and the clergy class and the Shudras or the servant class. There are untouchables or the casteless too. All these castes are further sub-divided into number of other sub-castes. However, the rigid ness of this system has decreased to a much greater level, with the Herculean efforts of various social reformers.
The next religion that has largest number of followers in India is Islam and its followers are known as Muslims. They are further sub-divided into various sects, the most prominent being Shias and Sunnis. Sikhs were originally Hindus who became followers and disciples of Guru Nanak. Guru Gobind Singh, their tenth Guru gave them their present identity and introduced community service and martial tendencies as their distinctive features so that they can withstand oppression. Christians in India are mainly Catholics and Protestants and follow different Churches as their denominations. The other significant religions of India are Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Buddhists are divided into Digambaras and Shwetambaras, Jains into Mahayana and Hinayana sects and Jews in various communities. The followers of Zoroastrianism are known as Parsis and have distinctive style and Jews are the followers of Judaism.
Following are the religions according to sequence wise:


The origins of Hinduism lie in two ancient cultural complexes, the Indus valley civilization and the Aryan culture which developed during the second millennium BC. There is some controversy regarding the relationship between these two cultures. The traditional view still supported by some scholars is that the Indus valley civilization declined to be replaced by the culture of the Aryans and spread across the fertile, northern plains which throughout India's long history, have offered no obstacle to invaders or migrants.


Islam is a monotheistic religion commanding a huge group of followers in India. In fact, Islam is the second largest religion in the world. The word 'Islam' implies total surrender to the Almighty. Hence, the follower of Islam, a Muslim, is the one who yields or surrenders himself or herself to God in peace. Whenever, a Muslim accepts Islam with a free-heart, mind and soul, it means that he is committing himself to belief without reservation, accepting the tenets of faith and following both the letter and the spirit of the Holy Quran, believed to be the direct and immediate word of God.


Christianity is the sect that believes in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It receives the name from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born perhaps in the 4th century B.C on 25th December in Bethlehem. He was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar. Christ came to earth with hope to the poor shepherds for redemption and salvation from the suffering and the promise of eternal peace. Jesus is believed by the followers as the Holy Son of God. Christianity originated from the religion Judaism, Jesus was essentially a Jew by birth.


The word Sikhism is derived from 'Sikh' which, in turn, originates from the Sanskrit word 'sishya' meaning a learner or 'siksha' which means instruction. It dates back to the 15th century A.D. The religion had originated in the Indian state of Punjab. Sikhism was propagated by Guru Nanak and his successors. The religion stresses on the devotion of God.


At present Buddhism is one of the major world religions. The philosophy of Buddhism is based on the teachings of Lord Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563 and 483 BC), a royal prince of Kapilvastu, India. After originating in India, Buddhism spread throughout the Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Southeast Asia, as well as the East Asian countries of China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Buddhism owes its origin to the socio-economic conditions prevailing in India at that point of time.


Jainism has a history of more than 5000 years. It enjoyed royal patronage and has produced worthy monks and laymen of whom any society could be proud. The Jain contributions to Indian architecture and art, to the preservation and enrichment of Indian literature, and to the cultivation of languages, both Aryans and Dravidians, are praiseworthy. The religious instincts inculcated by Jainism have left an abiding impression on many aspects of Indian life.


Definitely there are Jews in India but they do not belong to one single community. Instead their various communities have their unique culture, background, origin and the ways of coming to India. The three main communities are Bene Israel, Cochini and Baghdadi that had some connections along with Ashkenazi Jews and Bne Menashe found in east India with Israeli origin that remained to themselves and regarded others as 'outsiders'.


Parsis are merely 0.01% of Indian population and most of them live in Mumbai, but they are distinctive and easily recognizable. Followers of Zoroastrianism, they migrated from Persia. The religion was established around 7th century BC but its followers were exiled from Iran in the 7th century AD by the Muslim fanatics. They landed in Gujarat region.