A Religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner’s experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth.

Religion is also often described as a “way of life” or a life stance.

Lets take a look at the different religions around the world (arranged as per descending order of followers):

  1. Christianity :
  2. Date of Origin : 1st century
    Followers : 2.1 billion+
    Holy Book : The Bible
    Holiest Place : Bethlehem,Nazareth,Jerusalem(Israel)
    Beliefs :
    • The single God is made of three entities: God, the Holy Spirit, and the Son of God. Together, this is the Trinity.
    • The history of Christianity traces the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
    • The two volumes of the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, are the most important religious texts for Christians.
    • Worship in Christianity involves praising God through songs, prayers, speeches and readings.
    • The two most common rites of Christianity are Baptism(cleaning of an individual’s sins with water) and the Eucharist (based on the Last Supper).
  3. Islam :
  4. Date of Origin : 7th c
    Followers : 1.3 billion+
    Holy Book : The Quran
    Holiest Place : Mecca,Medina (Saudi Arabia) , Jerusalem(Israel)
    Beliefs :
    • God sent prophets like Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, to teach humans to follow His law.
    • Muslims believe that revelations were made through all these prophets, but that Muhammad made the final absolute revelation which marks the official rise of Islam in the 7th century AD.
    • The six main Muslim beliefs include believing in Allah (as the only God), in angels, in the holy books of Islam, in the prophets and Muhammad as the final prophet, in the Day of Judgment, and in predestination decided by Allah.
    • Muslims must follow the Five Pillars of Islam, in order to live good lives and prove their devotion to their religion. The Five Pillars are: the sincere declaration of Muslim faith, praying properly five times a day, giving a donation to help those in need, going on a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
    • The Sharia is set of rules that guide Muslim life. It combines concepts taken from the Qur’an, the Hadith (teachings of Muhammad) and fatwas (ideas of Islamic scholars).
  5. Atheism :
  6. Date of Origin : NA
    Followers : 1 billion+
    Holy Book : NA
    Holiest Place : NA
    Beliefs :
    • Atheism is the belief that God, deities, and spiritual beings do not exist.
    • Many Atheists are avid secularists and are against the inclusion of religion in public affairs.
    • According to Atheism, people do not need to rely on gods or holy writings to create moral codes to rule life.
    • They generally believe that the universe, Earth and its life evolved by perfectly natural processes.
  7. Hinduism :
  8. Date of Origin : 2500–3000 BC or older
    Followers : 900 million+
    Holy Book : Vedas (with supplementary scriptures – the Upanishads, the Mahabharatha, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita being the most renowned.)
    Holiest Place : Varanasi(India)
    Beliefs :
    • Hindus believe that karma determines the cycle of life, or samsara, which is composed of birth, death, and rebirth that the soul goes through repetitively.
    • According to Hinduism, Brahman created everything. Different types of Hinduism worship other deities, believing that they contain attributes of Brahman.
    • Hindus are usually divided into three groups according to the form of Brahman revered: worshippers of Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, and the Mother Goddess.
    • Worship is usually a personal act that can take place at the temple or at home before a set-up shrine, which can be a room, altar, or image with the image being the focus of worship.
  9. Buddhism :
  10. Date of Origin : 500 BC
    Followers : 376 million+
    Holiest Place : Lopburi(Nepal) , Bodh Gaya-Bihar(India),Sarnath-Uttar Pradesh(India)
    Beliefs :
    • Buddhism does not focus on worshipping god(s), but it is based on teaching the dharma, or the truth about things in nature and the universe.
    • Central to Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths that came to Buddha as he meditated under the Bodhi tree. They are: Dukkha (existence is full of suffering), Trsna (suffering is caused by the attachment to wrong things), Nirvana (suffering can end), and the Eightfold Path (how to end suffering and begin a life of Enlightenment).
    • Buddhism also teaches the principles of karma, according to which our current lives reflect our past dealings, as well as the belief in rebirth by which consciousness exists in future lives.
    • The major traditions include meditation, Buddhist worship, honoring Buddha and the sacred mandala.
  11. Judaism :
  12. Date of Origin : 1300 BC
    Followers : 12 million+
    Holy Book : The Torah, or Hebrew Bible
    Holiest Place : Jerusalem(Israel)
    Beliefs :
    • According to Judaism, the Jews are the chosen people of God and must act as a good example for the rest of the world.
    • Judaism believes in only one God, the creator of the universe.
    • Jews believe that that Jesus is a teacher and that followers of Christianity split from Judaism in order to revere Jesus as a Messiah.
    • According to Judaism, God chose Abraham to act as a father of the chosen people. God protected the Jewish people and passed a set of rules through Moses.
  13. Sikhism :
  14. Date of Origin : 15th c.
    Followers : 10 million+
    Holy Book : The Guru Granth Sahib
    Holiest Place : Amritsar(India)
    Beliefs :
    • The bases of Sikhism are the teachings of Guru Nanak and those of the nine Sikh gurus who came after him.
    • The three duties of a Sikh are: praying and having God in the mind all the time, giving to charity and helping those who are poor and sick, and working honestly.
    • Sikhs wear the following 5 Ks: a steel bracelet called Kara, cotton underwear called Kaccha, a wooden comb called Kanga, uncut hair called Kesh, and a steel sword called Kirpan.
    • Sikhs believe that they should lead good lives and meditate, rather than focusing on performing rituals and sacrifices.
  15. Bahai :
  16. Date of Origin : 19th c.
    Followers : 6 million+
    Holy Book : The Baháí holy scriptures consist of the writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb.
    Holiest Place : Haifa(Israel)
    Beliefs :
    • Abraham, the Buddha, Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad are all prophets who have been involved in the revelation of God, but the latest prophet is Bahá’u’lláh.
    • It only has three rituals: daily prayers, prayer for the dead, and marriage.
    • The concepts of unity and community are very important for followers of Bahai, who believe that people should come together and collectively work to help humanity.
  17. Jainism :
  18. Date of Origin : 800 BC
    Followers : 4 million+
    Holy Book : The Tattvartha Sutra, or “Book of Reality”.
    Holiest Place : Palitana-Gujarat(India)
    Beliefs :
    • The religion does not depend on gods, but on the self. Therefore, Jainism is known as a self-help religion.
    • The three jewels or important beliefs of Jainism are: right belief, right conduct, and right knowledge.
    • The five vows or mahavratas are: avoiding violence, detaching from possessions, speaking the truth, not stealing, and practicing sexual restraint.
    • Pilgrimages and fasting are important in Jainism.
    • According to Jainism humans, animals, and plants have souls that are equal and should be respected. Because of this, Jains are vegetarians and use natural resources as efficiently and cautiously as possible.

These are the major religions around the world. To read about the other religions please do check out the below links.


Ref :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups
http://www.typesofreligion.com/
http://www.adherents.com/misc/adh_holy.html

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2 thoughts on “Religion : A Look

    1. Hinduism is the oldest religion among the ones listed….but I think worshipping of the Sun (a Pagan belief) is the oldest…practised right from the Stone Ages till the Pyramid age …though i dont know what religion its called 😀

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