What is Religion?
The term religion is derived from the Latin word, Religare meaning “to bond together”.
Therefore, religion brings people from different cultures and communities together and gives a set of guidelines to survive together harmoniously in unison.
The exact number of religions being followed in the world is unknown but a rough estimate comes out to be about 4,300!
Introduction to World Religions
let us now look at some of the major religions being followed across the world today :
Abrahamic Religions :
The term “Abrahamic” originates from the influence of the father-like figure Abraham. The religions falling into this category are given below
Fact : Did you know that Christianity is the world’s biggest religion!
Origin : Christianity originated roughly around 1st century A.D. It started out as a Jewish Sect, in the eastern Mediterranean.
Derived from : It is derived from the Greek word Christianos, meaning “follower of Christ” which further comes from Christos meaning “anointed one”.
Followers : There are about 2.4 billion followers of Christianity who are known as Christians.
Belief : Christians believe that Jesus, as the messiah, was chosen by God as the saviour of humanity.
Sub-Categories : There are mainly two categories in which Christians are divided known as: Catholics and Protestants
Fact : Islam is the second largest religion of the world.
Origin : According to the traditional Islamic view, the Qur’an(koran) began with the revelations to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel in 610 and this is how Islam originated.
Derived from : Islam is derived from the Arabic word, Istaslama, meaning, “to submit” or “to give in”.
Followers : Followers of Islam are known as “Muslims”. 23.3% of the world’s population follows Islam.
Belief : Muslims believe that Islam has been present since the time of prophet Adam, though many non-muslims believed that it originated in Mecca and Medina. Muhammad Prophet taught strict monotheism,which means to follow one God, to his followers.
Sub-categories : Islam is mainly divided into two sub-categories: Sunni and Shia
Origin : Judaism was founded over 3500 years ago in the Middle East.
Derived from : Organised Judaism emerged from Babylonian writings. The term Jew originated from the Hebrew word Yehudi, meaning,“being the people of Yehuda” where Yehudah is translated by the English translators of the Bible as Judah.
Followers : Followers of this religion are known as Jews.
Belief : Jews have a belief that God has a special connection with the Hebrew tribe, which involves a certain set of rules and behaviour that governs the existence of humans. They believe in the existence of afterlife. The holy book that they follow is “ Tanakh and Talmud”.
Indian Religions :
The religions that fall under this category are the religions that either originated in India and/or are followed in the Indian sub-continent.Some of the major religions followed in India are:
Origin : Buddhism was originated about 2500 years ago, after Siddhartha Gautam, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (Enlightened at the age of 35). No, awakening does not mean staying awake! It actually means to attain a sense of existence, a perception of reality which has been previously unrealized.
Derived from : Buddhism is derived from the word Budhi, meaning “to awaken”.
Followers : Followers of Buddhism are known as Buddhists.
Belief : It is more of a philosophy that describes “the way of life”.The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts, of which the main five are:
- Not to take the life of anything living.
- Not to take anything not freely given.
- To abstain from physical mis-behaviour.
- To refrain from untrue speech.
- To avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.
Fact : Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world.
Origin :The origin of Hinduism dates back to more than 5000 or more years.
Derived from : The word “Hindu” is derived from the name of river “Indus”. In ancient times, this river was known as the ‘Sindhu’. The Persians that invaded this land pronounced it as Hindu, hence, the name concreted. The people living here were known as Hindu and the religion followed by them came to be known as Hinduism.
Followers : The followers of Hinduism are known as “Hindus”.
Belief : Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture and no commonly agreed set of teachings until the advent of British rule, after which Hinduism was made into a single religion, an identity which Hindus now accept. Hindus believe in re-incarnation until exit from this circle. Hinduism has many vast and variant scriptures and books which the followers follow.
Origin : Jainism dates back to the 6th century B.C. in India.Traditionally it is known as Jin Sashana or Jain Dharma.
Derived from : It is derived from the name “Jinas” meaning ,”conqueror”.
Followers : The followers of this religion are known as Jains.
Belief : The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of soul. Jains believe in re-incarnation until exit from the circle of life. Its teachings include following the path of non-violence towards all living beings.
Origin : It is a religion founded during 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent._
Derived from : The word “Sikh” is derived from the Sanskrit word, Siksati meaning, “to learn”.
Followers : The followers of this religion are known as Sikhs.
Beliefs : It was founded by Guru Nanak and was followed by ten successive Sikh Gurus ( the eleventh guru being the Holy Scripture Guru Granth Sahib).
The teachings of the ten gurus are written in Guru Granth Sahib which are supposed to be regarded as the guiding path for the followers.
Sikhism believes in the re-incarnation util escape from the circle of life which can be done by following a morally good path.
Religions given above are the religions followed in the world. The purpose of all the religions is to bring people from different communnities together and show them a guiding path to live a harmonious life.