(Last Updated on : 15/02/2011)
India has a list of religious beliefs that represent Indian religion. The diversity in Indian religious system and the complexity in the institutions and doctrines connote the great Indian tradition of past. Apart from these, various schools of thought, the ways to achieve the ultimate salvation, sects and paths of religious system are also preserved since the beginning of the religion in India. The religious beliefs have been developed as a result of migration of a number of people and globalisation and these also brought reformations and revivifications in Indian religious system.
Indian Religions can only be understood after an understanding of its religious beliefs History of religion and practices which have a large impact on the personal lives of most Indians and influence public life on a daily basis. Indian religions have deep historical roots that are recollected by contemporary Indians. The religious culture going back at least 4500 years has come down only in the form of religious texts. The religious beliefs postulated by human beings play a dominant part in the history of Indian religion and these beliefs are 100,000 years old.
Religion is an integral aspect of life in India. The country is a secular state and respects all religion equally. India is the only country in the world where a large number of religions have evolved and flourished since ancient times. India is traditionally a land of faith and spirituality and is the abode of all the major religions of the world. History of Indian Religion is very ancient. India is the cradle of Hinduism
and Sikhism. The country also has followers of the religions such as Islam
, Judaism, Christianity
, Zoroastrianism and Bahaism.
The recognised history of Indian Religion begins with historical Vedic religion
. The religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans gave rise to certain religion. Their practices and rituals were collected and framed into the Samhitas
. These texts are the central shruti or revealed texts of Hinduism, which lasted from 1500 to 500 BC. Hinduism is a prehistoric religion and constitutes an overwhelming majority in the country. It is a ritualistic religion with various customs and traditions. The origin of this age-old religion is not documented and thus Hinduism can be called the native religion of the country.
The history of Indian Religion is very interesting. After the 6th century BC, Jainism and Buddhism sprang up in India. Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha
and was spread all throughout the country and beyond India through missionaries. Buddhism began in India as a reaction to the Vedic sacrificial system and the Brahmin`s control on religions. Jainism is another religion among the Indian Religions that was established by Mahavira
. Besides Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are the oldest religions practiced today in the country. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak
in Northern India. Though Christianity and Islam originated outside the Indian subcontinent, yet with the frequent invasions these religions became popular in the country. Christianity arrived in India with apostles of St. Thomas. St. Francis Xavier was the person who helped in spreading Christian missionary activity in the country. He arrived in the country in the 16th century and worked in the fields of reform and education. Zoroastrianism originally arrived with the traders and represented by small population and mostly settled down in and around the Indian West Coast.
The emergence of Islam in the country is simultaneous with the Turko-Muslim invasion of medieval India. Islam has been make noteworthy religious, artistic, philosophical, cultural, social and political influences to Indian history. An in-depth study of the Indian religion helps to explore India. A review of the growth and the development of western civilizations included their language, literature, history and religion. History of Indian Religion also reveals the authentic form of Sanatan Dharma and tells the original philosophy of Vedas
, Bhagavad Gita
, Bhagwatam, Darshan Shastras. India is one of the few countries of the world where the social and religious identity of the nation has remained intact.
The distinctness of Indian religious system finds expression with the truth that in the diversity of beliefs, castes, rituals and religions Indian has given liberation to them and allowed given each of them equal status.