Religions of India

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE (INDIA)

 

RELIGIONS OF INDIA 

Introduction: India is a land of diverse cultures and religions, and it has been the birthplace of several major religions that have had a profound impact not only within the country but also globally. This study guide provides an overview of the major religions practiced in India.

  1. Hinduism:

    • Hinduism is the oldest and most widely practiced religion in India.
    • It is a complex, diverse belief system with no single founder and a wide array of philosophies and practices.
    • Key concepts include karma (the law of cause and effect), dharma (moral duties), and moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth).
    • Hindu deities include Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
  2. Buddhism:

    • Buddhism originated in India during the 6th century BCE.
    • It was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha.
    • The core teachings emphasize the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to attain enlightenment and escape the cycle of rebirth.
    • Major Buddhist sites include Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar.
  3. Jainism:

    • Jainism also originated in ancient India, around the same time as Buddhism.
    • It was founded by Mahavira and emphasizes non-violence (ahimsa), truth, non-stealing, chastity, and non-possessiveness.
    • Jains believe in karma and reincarnation, striving to attain liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death.
    • Major principles include Ahimsa (non-violence), Anekantavada (relativity of viewpoints), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
  4. Islam:

    • Islam was introduced to India by traders and invaders around the 7th century CE.
    • It is based on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad as recorded in the Quran.
    • The two main branches within Islam are Sunni and Shia.
    • Key practices include the Five Pillars of Islam: Shahada (faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage).
  5. Sikhism:

    • Sikhism emerged in the Punjab region of India during the 15th century CE.
    • It was founded by Guru Nanak and emphasizes devotion to one God, equality, and selfless service.
    • The holy scripture of Sikhism is the Guru Granth Sahib.
    • Sikhs follow the teachings of ten Gurus and observe practices such as Kirtan (singing of hymns) and Langar (community kitchen).
  6. Christianity:

    • Christianity was introduced to India by European missionaries during the colonial period.
    • It is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible.
    • Major denominations include Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.
    • Key beliefs include the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
  7. Zoroastrianism:

    • Zoroastrianism originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) and was practiced in parts of India, especially Gujarat, after the Zoroastrians fled religious persecution in Persia.
    • It was founded by Zoroaster and emphasizes the dualistic struggle between good and evil.
    • Zoroastrians worship in fire temples and follow the teachings of the Avesta.
Religion Population %
Hindus 966,257,353 79.8%
Muslims 172,245,158 14.2%
Christians 27,819,588 2.3%
Sikhs 20,833,116 1.72%
Buddhists 8,442,972 0.7%
Jains 4,451,753 0.37%
Other religions 7,937,734 0.67%
Not stated 2,867,303 0.24%
Total 1,210,854,977 100%

 

Population trends for major religious groups in India (1951–2011)
Religious
group
Population
% 1951
Population
% 1961
Population
% 1971
Population
% 1981
Population
% 1991
Population
% 2001
Population
% 2011[85]
Hinduism 84.1% 83.45% 82.73% 82.30% 81.53% 80.46% 79.80%
Islam 9.8% 10.69% 11.21% 11.75% 12.61% 13.43% 14.23%
Christianity 2.30% 2.44% 2.60% 2.44% 2.32% 2.34% 2.30%
Sikhism 1.79% 1.79% 1.89% 1.92% 1.94% 1.87% 1.72%
Buddhism 0.74% 0.74% 0.70% 0.70% 0.77% 0.77% 0.70%
Jainism 0.46% 0.46% 0.48% 0.47% 0.40% 0.41% 0.37%
Zoroastrianism 0.13% 0.09% 0.09% 0.09% 0.08% 0.06% not counted
Others/Religion not specified 0.43% 0.43% 0.41% 0.42% 0.44% 0.72% 0.88%