The vast majority of people in India are Hindus (a misnomer that will be discussed in the next article) "Hinduism" tomorrow. Hinduism in itself if called a "museum of religions."  This refers to the fact that under the general name of Hinduism one finds many distinct traditions: The worship of Vishnu (Vaishnavism), the worship of the goddess (Shaktism), the worship of Shiva (Shaivaism) and may other religious sects.

These religions were born in India, as were several later traditions: Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism (the first two are 2,500 years old and Sikhism emerged in the 15th century. 

Buddhism and Jainism are primarily concerned with morals and ethics particularly with ahimsa or harmlessness to all living beings. Sikhism is and interesting blend of Hinduism and Islamic beliefs. India is the home to six million Buddhists, three million Jains and sixteen millions Sikhs.

India's adopted religions Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism also have a place in her spiritual landscape. Zoroastrianism or the Parsi religion arose in ancient Persia. Its founder Zarathustra emphasized the battle between good and evil. Today there are about 85,000 Parsis in India.

Islamic leaders invaded India in the 12th Century. With intermittent success over many centuries, today Muslims constitute 11% percent of the Indian population. This makes Islam the largest minority religion in the country.

Although it is believed that Christianity arrived in India with the Apostle Thomas in 52 CE, many scholars now feel that the religion actually arrived in the 4th century with a Syrian merchant named Thomas Cana who travelled to Kerala with 400 families and established there the Indian Syrian Orthodox Church. Currently there are about 18 million Christians in India, most of whom reside in the south.

The Jewish population in India is negligible (perhaps 25,000 in all) its presence is visible mainly in Marathi and Malayalam speaking areas.


Hidden glory of India.

Next Topic, Hinduism

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