RELIGIONS IN INDIA

People of India are traditionally and culturally very religious. Though there are many religions, cults and sects are prevalent in India but the religions originated in India are tolerant to different faiths. The religions of Indian origin thrive on co-existence, as opposed to Semetic religions of the West like Islam and Christianity.

Ancient civilization and culture of India was closely bound with religion. Religions evolved as a set of beliefs regarding the nature and purpose of the universe. Gradually religions became organized systems of beliefs binding groups of people into a close-knit society. Religion has played an important part in the lives of the Indian people from the earliest times. But religion in India has never been static; various socio-religious movements have developed with new ideas and in response to new socio-economic situations.

There is a long tradition of tolerant and co-existing religious pluralism, an important part of cultural pluralism with underlying ethos of unity in India. Almost all major religions of the world are professed here. There are four religions of Indian origin- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Other religions which can be termed as alien are Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrian, Judaism and Baha'i.

The earliest civilized inhabitants of India, the Aryans, worshipped gods in the form of various reflections of natural powers. The Vedic literature displays that the Aryans, believing in 'Sanatana Dharma', worshipped and revered sun, moon, air, fire, water, trees, cows, snakes as gods. They worshipped a Mother Goddess and a horned fertility god. They had sacred trees and animals, and ritual ablutions apparently had an important part in their religious life. Much else is not known about Harappan people's religion. As the salient features of the Harappan religion appeared in a new form at a later date, it may be assumed that it never died but was practiced by some people, gradually developing from contact with other doctrines and cults, until it gathered enough strength to reappear and influence the old faith of the Aryans.



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