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Essay on religion | india | sociology.

essay on belief systems in india


Here is an essay on ‘Religion’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Religion’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Religion

Essay # 1. meaning of religion :.

Indian society is pluralistic in nature. India is a land of religious pluralism. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, and several other religions have been coexisting and growing side by a side in Indian society since ancient times. The Hindus constitute the largest segment of population nearly 73%, the Muslim nearly 12% and the Sikhs about 2%.

Religious diversity is a feature of Indian social structure and it plays an important role in politics. The adoption of secularism incorporating the maxims ‘Equality of all religions’ and ‘Absence of a State religion’ testifies to this reality of Indian politics.

The presence of religious communalism too reflects the harmful side of religious diversity. It is indeed quite perplexing to find that no Indian religion advocates violence and exclusiveness, yet in the name of various religions violence often erupts in different parts of India. We regularly face the loss of human life and precious resources because of aggressive and biotic clashes between the forces of Hindu Communalism, Muslim Communalism and Christian Communalism.

The spirit of secularism and the process of secularisation of political culture are yet to secure a sizeable hold in the polity. Religious tolerance is preached by all yet it is not effectively practiced and cultivated. As such religious factor continues to act as a hindering and harmful factor in the harmonious process of socio-political development.

In sociology, the word religion is used in a wider sense than that used in religious books. It defines religion as those institutionalised systems of beliefs, symbols, values and practices that provide groups of men with solutions to their questions of ultimate being.

A common characteristic found among all religion is that they represent a complex of emotional feelings and attitudes toward mysteries and perplexities of life. As such religion comprises first, systems of attitudes, beliefs, symbols which are based on the assumption that certain kinds of social relations are sacred or morally imperative and second, a structure of activities governed or influenced by these system.

According to Radin, it consists of two parts—physiological and psychological. The physiological part expresses itself in such acts as kneeling, closing the eyes, touching the feet. The psychological part consists of supernormal sensitivity to certain beliefs and traditions. While belief in supernatural powers may be considered basic to all religions, equally fundamental is the presence of a deeply emotional feeling which Golden Weber called the “religious thrill”.

Different Definitions of Religion:

Religion is one of the most influential forces of social control. Different writers have defined religion in different ways.

Definition :

(1) According to Ogburn, “Religion is attitude towards super human powers.”

(2) James G. F. Frazer considered religion as a belief in “powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature of human life.”

(3) According to Maclver, “Religion, as we understand the term, implies a relationship not merely between man and man but also between man and some higher power.”

(4) W. Robertson maintained that religion is not a vague fear of unknown powers, nor the child of terror, but rather a relation of all the members of a community to a power that has well of community at heart, and protects its law and moral order.

(5) Durkheim defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs’ and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.”

(6) According to Gillin and Gillin, “the social field of religion may be regarded as including the emotinalised belief prevalent in a social group concerning the super-natural plus the overt behaviour, material objects and symbols associated with such belief.”

(7) According to Sapir, “Religion is man’s never- ceasing attempt to discover a road to spiritual serenity across the perplexities and dangers of daily life.”

(8) According to Arnold W. Green, “Religion is a system of beliefs and symbolic practices and objects governed by faith rather than by knowledge, which relates man to an unseen supernatural realm beyond the known and beyond the controllable.”

(9) According to M. M. Johnson, “Religion is more or less coherent system of beliefs and practices concerning a supernatural order of beings, forces, places or other entities.” According to Malinowski, “Religion is a made of action as well as system of belief, and a sociological phenomenon as well as a personal experience.”

In this way there are numerous definitions of religion given by thinkers according to their own conceptions. As a matter of fact the forms in which religion express itself so much that it is difficult to agree upon a definition. Some maintain that religion includes a belief in supernatural or mysterious powers and that is expressing itself in overt activities designed to deal with those powers. Some regard religion as belief in the immortality of soil. While it is possible to define as belief in God or some supernatural powers, it is well to remember that there can also be a Godless religion as Buddhism is. The Buddhism rejects belief in the immortality of the soul and the life hereafter.

The ancient Hebrews did not have a definite concept of immortal soul. They seem to have had no conception of post-mortem rewards and punishments. Others regard religion as something very earthly and materialistic designed to achieve practical ends.

But as Ruth Benedict wrote, “Religion is not to be identified with the pursuit of ideal ends. Spirituality and the virtues are two social values which were discovered in the process of social life. They may well constitute the value of religion in man’s history just as the pearl constitutes the value of the oyster. Nevertheless the making of the pearl is a by-product in the life of oyster and it does not give a clue to the evolution of the oyster.” Summer and Keller asserted that “Religion in history from the earliest to very recent days has not been a matter of morality at all but of rites, rituals, observance and ceremony.”

Essay # 2. Relationship between Religion and the Constitution of India :

The constitution of India embodies secularism in letter and spirit and it is accepted as a principle affirming I. No religion of the state as such II Equality of all religions in the eyes of law III Freedom of religion for all citizen IV No discrimination on the basis of religion V Freedom of the individual to accept and follow voluntarily any religion or faith or creed VI freedom of the each religious group to establish and maintain religious and philanthropic institutions, with their own organisational set up VII prohibition of religious instructions in recognized, government and government aided educational institutions.

The role of state in religious matters has been kept limited to the preventing violations of public order, morality and health and for eliminating social evils being practised in the name of any religion. The Preamble of the constitution while defining the scope of the ideal of liberty holds that it includes liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Right to freedom of religion stands enhanced in the constitution as one of the Fundamental rights of an Indian citizen and as such enjoys a constitutional guarantee.

In spite of all these constitutional provisions, secular political culture has not been developed in Indian political system since independence. Unfortunately there is gap in theory and practice. The Indian state does not prefer any religion and yet maintains its relationship with all religions. Communalism in all its ugly forms continues to be present and even appears to be spreading its fangs. The emotional integration of people is yet to take place.

The role of religion can be analysed by focusing on the following points:

1. Existence of Religion based Political Parties :

Like every other liberal democratic constitution, the constitution of India guarantees to the citizens the freedom to form their associations as well as the right to freedom of religion. These two freedoms have, however, led to the organisation of several political parties on the basis of various religions. Muslim League, Hindu Maha Sabha, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal besides several other ‘Politically active Jamayats’ and other organisation, are at work in the environment of Indian political system. The parties, being organised on narrow foundations, tend to remain away to get partially and parochially attached to the national mainstream.

2. Religion and Electoral Politics :

Religion plays a crucial role in the Indian elections. Right from the process of political socialisation and leadership recruitment till the making of authoritative values, religious factor constitutes an important factor in Indian politics. It is operative in all spheres of electoral politics—the selection of candidates for contesting elections, the allocation of constituencies to various party candidates, the election campaigns organised by almost all political parties and even the independents, the casting of votes, the formation of ministries and the process of policy making. Ram Janam Bhumi vs. Babri Masjid issue was definitely an important issue in the November 1989 and June 1991 elections.

3. Appeasement of Religious Minorities :

The political parties in India try to develop their vote banks among the minority religious groups. These parties continuously follow the policy of appeasement of religious minorities. They support and encourage the forces of religious fundamentalism, which are always present in all religious groups, but more particularly in minority religious groups for furthering their chances of success in elections. The political parties always try to establish a rapport and connection with religious organisations, particularly the ones which are functioning in their respective areas.

The religious group which enjoys numerical majority feels greatly disturbed by the policy of appeasement of the minority religious groups and as a reaction or even otherwise tends to organise and support a party that commits itself to the majority religious tenets.

The success of the B. J. P in the November 1989 Lok Sabha elections and 1990 state elections has been largely due to this factor. In fact, in some of the States like Punjab which has been having religion based political parties; religion has been a determining factor of state politics. It acts as a major determinant of electoral behaviour.

4. Religion of Government-Making :

In the organisation of governments, both at the Centre and State levels, the political leaders always keep in mind the religious factor. They try to appease or accommodate religious leaders by giving ministerial berths to the candidates who stand elected as representatives of the people.

The search for inducting a Sikh minister or the exercise involved in the appointment of a Muslim to a high office tend to reflect the presence of religious factor in the process of government making. Shiv Sena Government in Maharashtra reflects an increasing role of religion in government making at least in some of the Indian states.

5. Religion as a Determinant of Voting Behavior :

All voting behaviour studies in India fully bring out the fact that religion always acts as an important determinant of people’s choice of candidates in elections. The political parties, both which are based on a particular religion as well’ as one which are secularist, do not hesitate to canvass for their candidates in the name of religion.

In Kerala communists have always used religious factor to gain majority in the state legislature. The voting behaviour of the minorities in particular is always determined by this factor. ‘Vote for Panth’ or ‘Islam is in danger’ etc. are the usual slogans which the electorate in Punjab and Kerala always listen during election days.

6. Religious Interest Group:

Religious interest/pressure groups play a key role in Indian Politics. Arya Samaj, Jamait-lslami, Sikh intellectual Forum, Sikh Students Federation, Hindu Suraksha Samiti, Anti-cow Slaughter Movement, Brahmin Sabhas etc. all act as interest/pressure groups in Indian political system. These are involved in all processes of politics as political socialisation, leadership recruitment, interest articulation, interest aggregation, political communication etc.

These groups use political parties for securing their interests and in turn political parties use them for strengthening their support basis. Some of these forces act as forces of religious fundamentalism and seriously strain the secular forces. The Muslim interest groups are currently engaged in safeguarding the interest of Muslims regarding Babri Masjid while Hindu interest groups are determined to build the Ram Janam Bhumi Temple in Ayodhaya. The issue of Ram Janam Bhumi vs. Babri Masjid has been a major active issue in Indian politics for the last ten years.

In this way it is clear that religion plays a very important role in the socio-political life of the people of India. This is something natural for a society inhabited by religious people believing in various religions. Unfortunately the religious symbols, practices, rituals and non-religious values serve as the basis of antagonism. All religions preach the gospel brotherhood of man and Fatherhood of God. All stand for human values and humanism. All uphold similar values and hence can safely co-exist and develop side by side.

The adoption of religious values over and above the religious symbols or rituals is what is needed most in Indian Society. This has been what Mahatma Gandhi had meant while advocating the need for making religion as the basis of politics. Unless and until it is accepted and adopted, the Indian policy shall continue to suffer from communalism and dangers of disintegration. The forces of religious fundamentalism must realise that progress and development can be possible only by accepting secularism.

The Muslims and the Hindus must accept that the religious factor was not the only factor behind the partition. The creation of Pakistan must bring home the fact those religious differences when got politicised lead to division and disintegration. The separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan must bring home the fact that religion alone cannot be the basis of nationhood. Ethnic wars among people belonging to the same religion and wars among people belonging to same religion but different nationalities must make us realise the limited nature of religion as a factor of nationhood.

Adoption of secularism as a principle of healthy and prosperous living and the integration of minorities in the national mainstream but neither by force nor by appeasement but voluntarily by dependence upon reason, science and education can go a long way to channelise the role of religion in a healthy direction. Religious fanaticism and fundamentalism must be met by recourse to the religious values and not by counter-fanaticism and counter- fundamentalism.

Religion is therefore, a reality and integral part of Indian social structure. It can neither be ignored nor overlooked nor even eliminated. But through secularisation and by cultivating a rational love for religious value, which fortunately happen to be same in all religions, the harmful and negative role of religion can be replaced by a positive, healthy and unifying role of religion in Indian society. Without doing this no one can or should expect a bright and better future of India.

Essay # 3. Social Functions of Religion in India:

One of the clearest formulations of the hypothesis of the social function of religion was made by Red Cliffe Brown in his work on the Andamanese (1922) and restated in his essay on “Religion and Society” (1952) where he says – “Stated in the simplest possible terms the theory is that an orderly social life amongst human beings depends upon the presence in the minds of members of a society of certain sentiments, which control the behaviour of the individual in his relation to others. Rites can be seen to be regulated symbolic expressions of certain sentiments. Rites can, therefore, be shown to have a specific social function, when and to the extent that, they have for the effect to regulate, maintain and transmit from one generation to another sentiment on which the constitution of the society depends.”

Taking two different types of religion, ancestor worship in ancient China and Australian Totemism, he shows how in both it is possible to demonstrate the close correspondence of the form of the religion and the form of social structure, and how in each case the religion contributes to the social cohesion of the society.

Because religion is a complex institution, the social functions it performs are quite diverse. If a religious function produces beneficial consequences, then we normally refer to it as a positive function—as, for example, when religion stimulates tolerance, peaceful cooperation or love.

Religion can also generate harmful or dysfunctional effects. The religiously approved human sacrifices practiced by some tribe are an obvious example. Thus religion can exert both a positive, cohesive and comforting influence and a negative, disintegrating influence. Furthermore, some religious functions are manifest—intended and immediately observable—and some are latent—unintended and not immediately discernible.

(i) Integrative Function:

Most sociologists of religion consider integrative function as most valuable social function. Kingsley Davis (1949) goes so far as to say that religion makes an “indispensable contribution to the social integration”. Any ongoing group is somewhat integrated if its members perform specialised but interrelated activities and are, therefore, dependent on one another. Religion often produces a special kind of group unity and a strong social cohesion. It can supply the bond or force that holds members of a group together, and it can give them strong, positive feelings toward the group.

(ii) Social Support:

Religion provides support, consolation and reconciliation. In doing so it strengthens group morale. Human beings need emotional support when they are uncertain and disappointed and they need reconciliation with their society when they are alienated from its goals.

Religion acts as a mechanism through which people adjust to the inevitable facts of human existence contingency, powerlessness and scarcity, frustration and deprivation, death , suffering and coercion, largely direct human lives. But the regular norms of society provide no comfort during these exigencies and no guide for correct behaviour to circumstances that seem neither just not meaningful. It is in these circumstances that religion provides support to the individual.

(iii) Social Control:

Religion not only defines moral expectations for members of the religious group but usually enforces them. In addition to supernatural sanctions in the afterlife, there are frequently supernatural sanctions in this life, such as the threat of disease for violators of magical property taboos. To the extent that moral norms supported within religious group are at the same time norms of the society, social control within the religious group has functional importance for the wider society as well.

(iv) Socialization:

Religion is an adjunct of the process of socialization. Because socialization is never perfect deviance from societal norms is frequent. Religion supports the norms and values of established society by making them divine laws. The deviant, when breaks a norm, is made to believe that he faces not only the anger of his fellow humans, but that he can also be punished by a supernatural all powerful being.

(v) Legitimization of Social Values:

Religion can forcefully help to legitimize society’s most cherished values. When religion justifies and affirms a system of values, a compelling dimension is added to value system. Religions endorse and reinforce our society’s norms of honesty and personal rights. Guides to action and standards for judging one’s own and others’ behaviour in the natural world are infused with beliefs about the supernatural. So, by offering the highest-order explanation for group values, religion can persuade members to agree with and accept the group norms and goals.

(vi) Legitimization of Power:

To use, Berger’s example, every society is faced with the necessity of distributing power, for which purpose political institutions emerge. In legitimizing these institutions, the society has to justify the use of physical violence, which underlies power. Religion mystifies the institution by giving it extra human qualities.

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essay on belief systems in india

Religion in India

Religion in India What is religion? Religion has always played an important role in man’s existence. It is hard to define religion because every person has, his or her own way of defining religion. For some of us it might be a way of life, which determines what they ear, who their friends are, and it also makes up what culture they follow from day to day. For others, religion simply means going to church or temple and seeing religious festivals. India is the land of culture. This country is very rich of culture and religion, and this is the backbone of the social structure. India’s fight for religion has been going on for decades, from the mogul empire to the British and now to the present day with Pakistan. In this day and age, anyone from around the world can practice and preach almost any religion known to man. Religion is one of the single most important reason for who we are and what we are, without the presence of the supernatural being we might no even be here at this point in time. With India being one of the top three countries populations wise, there are bound to be clashes within itself. India has had its share of different religions affecting its structure, but the three main religions are Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. All three of these religions have evolved drastically and have left a lasting mark on where India stands right now. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. The history of Hinduism extends over centuries, and the lack of early documents makes it difficult to trace exactly. “Inwardly it changed from century to century, taking on new gods and forgetting old ones, acquiring strange rites and neglecting native ones, but at least in its caste structure and priestly character the old religion of the Hindus never wavered from first to last.” Hinduism has been through it all, and still standing strong. Hinduism is not based around any one God. In fact anyone can be a good in Hindu and worship a number of gods or even no god at all. The system being vast and complicated, Hinduism cannot be put in one term because of the great variety of customs, forms of worship, styles of art and music, different gods, all this can be contained within the bounds of the Hindu religion. “He can have no dread of this material universal because he tells himself it simply isn’t there – and means it. Matter does not exist for him. Only Brah... ... middle of paper ... ... are different, they all share basic traits. India has been affected in major ways but religion was the most important. A country with so much culture is shows that without religion there is no social backbone. Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Islamic faith all have their own system, but you can still see similarities in each of them as a whole. At some point, other people or the influences of other religions have influenced India in major ways. No matter how diverse the religions are, they all use some kind of artwork as an interpretation of their beliefs and practices. Religion is what makes human beings different. They set the values and cultures for each race, and for some people their entire way of living, depends on religion. Reference Page This Believing World Browne, Lewis The Macmillan Co, New York, NY Copyright 1967 A Source Book in Indian Philosophy Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Moore, Charles Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Copyright 1957 The Buddhist Tradition in India, China, and Japan De Bary, William Theodore Vintage Books, New York, NY Copyright 1972 Islam Williams, John Alden George Braziller Press, New York, NY Copyright 1962

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Essay on religion: it’s kinds and impact on indian society | religion.

essay on belief systems in india


Essay on Religion: It’s Kinds and Impact on Indian Society!

Religion is one of the basic institutions of any society. It is a universal system which is found in every society. Religion can be understood as a social system in which there is common faith, worship, rituals, customs and traditions.


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According to Emile Durkheim “Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred thing which unite in to one single moral community.

The definition given by Durkheim is a well accepted definition on religion.

There are various religions in the world.

The major religions in the world are:

1. Hinduism

2. Buddhism

5. Christianity

The basic ideas and faith of each religion differs.

Various Kinds Religions :

It is one of the oldest religions of the world. It is very difficult to trace the perfect origin of Hinduism. Records have shown that Hindu religion was in existence since “Indus Valley civilization”.

Hinduism believes in the existence of Gods like Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga etc.

Hindus believe in Idol-worships. The idols are considered as Gods and temples are the places where idols are kept. The unique feature of Hinduism is the existence of caste system and worship of different Gods. Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita are considered as great epics of Hindus.

Hinduism does not provide for conversion, i.e.: A person is regarded as a Hindu by birth. An individual belonging to another religion can’t be converted as a “Hindu”. Even though social reformers made an attempt to make provision for conversion it has not been very successful.

It was founded by Gautama Buddha. Buddhism mainly believes in Ahimsa or non-violence. Buddha has preached eight fold paths to curb desire. The ultimate aim of Buddhism is to enable individuals to attain ‘Nirvana, or “salvation”. Tripitakas are considered as holy text of Buddhists.

It was founded by “Mahaveer”. Jainism also believes in Ahimsa. Places of worship of Jains are Known as “Bastis” Jainism believes in celibacy taking a vow not to marry). It states that physical desires should be sacrificed. Jainism believes in attaining salvation through the performance of “Sallekhana”.

It was founded by Prophet Mohammed. It belief in a single God viz: Allah. Islam does not believe in idol worship. It believes in seclusion of women. The places of worship of Muslims are known as Mosques. “Mecca” is considered to be the holy place for Muslims. Every Muslim has to observe five times prayer a day known as “Kalma”. Every Muslim has to observe fasting during the month of “Ramadan”.


It was founded by Jesus Christ. “Bible” is considered as the holy text of Christians. Christians do not believe in idol worship. The place of worship for Christians is called church. Christians believe in offering prayers and helping the poor and disabled.

It was advocated by Guru Nanak. The holy epic of Sikhis Adi Granth. The place of worship of Sikhs are known as “Gurudwaras”.

Though different religions preach different principles, every religion is characterised by certain basic features. Which are as follows:

1. Religion is Universal:

Every human society has a system of religion. In the modern scenario, the role of religion has declined but “religion” as a social system continues to exist.

2. Common worship:

Every religion believes in the worship of a common God. For e.g.: Christians believe in worshipping. Christ, Muslims believe in worshipping Allah and so on.

3. Common Rituals:

Every religion believes in the performance of certain rituals. E.g.: Hindus believe in performing rituals like Namakaran (naming Ceremony), Griha Pravesh (House forming ceremony) etc.

4. Antiquity:

Origin of religion is not a recent concept. It is in existence since time immemorial. Belief in life after death, fear of death contributed to the growth of religion according to anthropologists. In order to overcome the fear of Ghosts people started believing in the existence of super natural power which at a later stage resulted in the growth of religion.

Impact of Religion on Indian Society:

India is a land of religious diversities. All the major religions of the world, viz.: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhims, Buddhism and Jainism are found in India. The institution of religion has its own impact on Indian society which can be summarised as follows:

1. Solidarity:

People belonging to a particular religion closely identify themselves with the religious group.

2. Ethical values:

Religion helps in the development of ethical values, eg.: Care for the parents, protection of children, helping the poor and disabled , honesty are certain values, preached by religion.

3. Social control:

Religion acts as an effective tool of social control. By imbibing certain ethical values, religion enables to regulate the conduct of individuals.

4. Basis of law:

Over a period of time religious customs and traditions gain the force of law e.g.: According to morality, maintenance of wife and children is the bounden duty of the husband. In order to uphold this principle, provisions for awarding maintenance is made as a rule in Hindu Marriage. Act and Sec 125 CRPC.

Negative Impact of Religion:

The institution of religion has caused many problems in the Indian society.

1. Groupism:

Religion divides people. Such divisions may come in the way of development of the country.

2. Frequent conflicts:

People belonging to different religions feel that their religion is superior. They even try to impose their religious practices on others which would lead to conflict situations. In India, communal conflict has become a common feature.

3. Dogmatism:

Every religion has a set of beliefs which may be superstitious quite often. Such ideas block the development of society and the progress of individuals. E.g.: —In some communities there is no improvement the status of women on account of religious attitudes.

4. Blocks social change:

Religion acts as a hindrance for social change. It is highly challenging to transform the attitude of conservative people, e.g.: Restrictions on marriage expenses.

Though Religion has negative impacts it is not possible to have a society without a system of religion. It has become a part and parcel of an individual’s life.

Management Perstective:

Religion plays a significant role in business organisations. Management practices depend on religion. For instance:

i. Declaration of holidays for particular religious festivals.

ii. Payment of Bonus for certain festivals.

iii. Festival advance schemes

iv. Celebration of some Pooja like Lakshmi Pooja on Fridays, Ayudha Pooja in organisations,

v. Allowing long leisure for Muslim employees on Fridays.

Thus Religion is one of the important factors influencing the practices and policies of organisation.

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essay on belief systems in india

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Regions & Countries

Religion in india: tolerance and segregation, indians say it is important to respect all religions, but major religious groups see little in common and want to live separately.

essay on belief systems in india

This study is Pew Research Center’s most comprehensive, in-depth exploration of India to date. For this report, we surveyed 29,999 Indian adults (including 22,975 who identify as Hindu, 3,336 who identify as Muslim, 1,782 who identify as Sikh, 1,011 who identify as Christian, 719 who identify as Buddhist, 109 who identify as Jain and 67 who identify as belonging to another religion or as religiously unaffiliated). Interviews for this nationally representative survey were conducted face-to-face under the direction of RTI International from Nov. 17, 2019, to March 23, 2020.

To improve respondent comprehension of survey questions and to ensure all questions were culturally appropriate, Pew Research Center followed a multi-phase questionnaire development process that included expert review, focus groups, cognitive interviews, a pretest and a regional pilot survey before the national survey. The questionnaire was developed in English and translated into 16 languages, independently verified by professional linguists with native proficiency in regional dialects.

Respondents were selected using a probability-based sample design that would allow for robust analysis of all major religious groups in India – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains – as well as all major regional zones. Data was weighted to account for the different probabilities of selection among respondents and to align with demographic benchmarks for the Indian adult population from the 2011 census. The survey is calculated to have covered 98% of Indians ages 18 and older and had an 86% national response rate.

For more information, see the Methodology for this report. The questions used in this analysis can be found here .

India is majority Hindu, but religious minorities have sizable populations

More than 70 years after India became free from colonial rule, Indians generally feel their country has lived up to one of its post-independence ideals: a society where followers of many religions can live and practice freely.

India’s massive population is diverse as well as devout. Not only do most of the world’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs live in India, but it also is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and to millions of Christians and Buddhists.

A major new Pew Research Center survey of religion across India, based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic ), finds that Indians of all these religious backgrounds overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths.

Related India research

This is one in a series of Pew Research Center reports on India based on a survey of 29,999 Indian adults conducted Nov. 17, 2019, to March 23, 2020, as well as demographic data from the Indian Census and other government sources. Other reports can be found here:

How Indians View Gender Roles in Families and Society

Religious composition of india, india’s sex ratio at birth begins to normalize.

Indians see religious tolerance as a central part of who they are as a nation. Across the major religious groups, most people say it is very important to respect all religions to be “truly Indian.” And tolerance is a religious as well as civic value: Indians are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community.

Indians feel they have religious freedom, see respecting all religions as a core value

These shared values are accompanied by a number of beliefs that cross religious lines. Not only do a majority of Hindus in India (77%) believe in karma, but an identical percentage of Muslims do, too. A third of Christians in India (32%) – together with 81% of Hindus – say they believe in the purifying power of the Ganges River, a central belief in Hinduism. In Northern India, 12% of Hindus and 10% of Sikhs, along with 37% of Muslims, identity with Sufism, a mystical tradition most closely associated with Islam. And the vast majority of Indians of all major religious backgrounds say that respecting elders is very important to their faith.

Yet, despite sharing certain values and religious beliefs – as well as living in the same country, under the same constitution – members of India’s major religious communities often don’t feel they have much in common with one another. The majority of Hindus see themselves as very different from Muslims (66%), and most Muslims return the sentiment, saying they are very different from Hindus (64%). There are a few exceptions: Two-thirds of Jains and about half of Sikhs say they have a lot in common with Hindus. But generally, people in India’s major religious communities tend to see themselves as very different from others.

India’s religious groups generally see themselves as very different from each other

This perception of difference is reflected in traditions and habits that maintain the separation of India’s religious groups. For example, marriages across religious lines – and, relatedly, religious conversions – are exceedingly rare (see Chapter 3 ). Many Indians, across a range of religious groups, say it is very important to stop people in their community from marrying into other religious groups. Roughly two-thirds of Hindus in India want to prevent interreligious marriages of Hindu women (67%) or Hindu men (65%). Even larger shares of Muslims feel similarly: 80% say it is very important to stop Muslim women from marrying outside their religion, and 76% say it is very important to stop Muslim men from doing so.

Stopping religious intermarriage is a high priority for Hindus, Muslims and others in India

Moreover, Indians generally stick to their own religious group when it comes to their friends. Hindus overwhelmingly say that most or all of their close friends are also Hindu. Of course, Hindus make up the majority of the population, and as a result of sheer numbers, may be more likely to interact with fellow Hindus than with people of other religions. But even among Sikhs and Jains, who each form a sliver of the national population, a large majority say their friends come mainly or entirely from their small religious community.

Fewer Indians go so far as to say that their neighborhoods should consist only of people from their own religious group. Still, many would prefer to keep people of certain religions out of their residential areas or villages. For example, many Hindus (45%) say they are fine with having neighbors of all other religions – be they Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain – but an identical share (45%) say they would not be willing to accept followers of at least one of these groups, including more than one-in-three Hindus (36%) who do not want a Muslim as a neighbor. Among Jains, a majority (61%) say they are unwilling to have neighbors from at least one of these groups, including 54% who would not accept a Muslim neighbor, although nearly all Jains (92%) say they would be willing to accept a Hindu neighbor.

Substantial minorities would not accept followers of other religions as neighbors

Indians, then, simultaneously express enthusiasm for religious tolerance and a consistent preference for keeping their religious communities in segregated spheres – they live together separately . These two sentiments may seem paradoxical, but for many Indians they are not.

Indeed, many take both positions, saying it is important to be tolerant of others and expressing a desire to limit personal connections across religious lines. Indians who favor a religiously segregated society also overwhelmingly emphasize religious tolerance as a core value. For example, among Hindus who say it is very important to stop the interreligious marriage of Hindu women, 82% also say that respecting other religions is very important to what it means to be Hindu. This figure is nearly identical to the 85% who strongly value religious tolerance among those who are not at all concerned with stopping interreligious marriage.

In other words, Indians’ concept of religious tolerance does not necessarily involve the mixing of religious communities. While people in some countries may aspire to create a “melting pot” of different religious identities, many Indians seem to prefer a country more like a patchwork fabric, with clear lines between groups.

The dimensions of Hindu nationalism in India

Most Hindus in India say being Hindu, being able to speak Hindi are very important to be ‘truly’ Indian

One of these religious fault lines – the relationship between India’s Hindu majority and the country’s smaller religious communities – has particular relevance in public life, especially in recent years under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP is often described as promoting a Hindu nationalist ideology .

The survey finds that Hindus tend to see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined: Nearly two-thirds of Hindus (64%) say it is very important to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian.

Support for BJP higher among Hindu voters who link being Hindu, speaking Hindi with Indian identity

Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi – one of dozens of languages that are widely spoken in India. And these two dimensions of national identity – being able to speak Hindi and being a Hindu – are closely connected. Among Hindus who say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian, fully 80% also say it is very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.

The BJP’s appeal is greater among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” In the 2019 national elections, 60% of Hindu voters who think it is very important to be Hindu and to speak Hindi to be truly Indian cast their vote for the BJP, compared with only a third among Hindu voters who feel less strongly about both these aspects of national identity.

Overall, among those who voted in the 2019 elections, three-in-ten Hindus take all three positions: saying it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian; saying the same about speaking Hindi; and casting their ballot for the BJP.

These views are considerably more common among Hindus in the largely Hindi-speaking Northern and Central regions of the country, where roughly half of all Hindu voters fall into this category, compared with just 5% in the South.

Among Hindus, large regional divides on views of national identity and politics

Whether Hindus who meet all three of these criteria qualify as “Hindu nationalists” may be debated, but they do express a heightened desire for maintaining clear lines between Hindus and other religious groups when it comes to whom they marry, who their friends are and whom they live among. For example, among Hindu BJP voters who link national identity with both religion and language, 83% say it is very important to stop Hindu women from marrying into another religion, compared with 61% among other Hindu voters.

This group also tends to be more religiously observant: 95% say religion is very important in their lives, and roughly three-quarters say they pray daily (73%). By comparison, among other Hindu voters, a smaller majority (80%) say religion is very important in their lives, and about half (53%) pray daily.

Even though Hindu BJP voters who link national identity with religion and language are more inclined to support a religiously segregated India, they also are  more  likely than other Hindu voters to express positive opinions about India’s religious diversity. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of this group – Hindus who say that being a Hindu and being able to speak Hindi are very important to be truly Indian  and  who voted for the BJP in 2019 – say religious diversity benefits India, compared with about half (47%) of other Hindu voters.

Hindus who see Hindu and Indian identity as closely tied express positive views about diversity

This finding suggests that for many Hindus, there is no contradiction between valuing religious diversity (at least in principle) and feeling that Hindus are somehow more authentically Indian than fellow citizens who follow other religions.

Among Indians overall, there is no overwhelming consensus on the benefits of religious diversity. On balance, more Indians see diversity as a benefit than view it as a liability for their country: Roughly half (53%) of Indian adults say India’s religious diversity benefits the country, while about a quarter (24%) see diversity as harmful, with similar figures among both Hindus and Muslims. But 24% of Indians do not take a clear position either way – they say diversity neither benefits nor harms the country, or they decline to answer the question. (See Chapter 2 for a discussion of attitudes toward diversity.)

India’s Muslims express pride in being Indian while identifying communal tensions, desiring segregation

Vast majority of India’s Muslims say Indian culture is superior

India’s Muslim community, the second-largest religious group in the country, historically has had a complicated relationship with the Hindu majority. The two communities generally have lived peacefully side by side for centuries, but their shared history also is checkered by civil unrest and violence. Most recently, while the survey was being conducted, demonstrations broke out in parts of New Delhi and elsewhere over the government’s new citizenship law , which creates an expedited path to citizenship for immigrants from some neighboring countries – but not Muslims.

Today, India’s Muslims almost unanimously say they are very proud to be Indian (95%), and they express great enthusiasm for Indian culture: 85% agree with the statement that “Indian people are not perfect, but Indian culture is superior to others.”

Overall, one-in-five Muslims say they have personally faced religious discrimination recently, but views vary by region

Relatively few Muslims say their community faces “a lot” of discrimination in India (24%). In fact, the share of Muslims who see widespread discrimination against their community is similar to the share of Hindus who say Hindus face widespread religious discrimination in India (21%). (See Chapter 1 for a discussion of attitudes on religious discrimination.)

But personal experiences with discrimination among Muslims vary quite a bit regionally. Among Muslims in the North, 40% say they personally have faced religious discrimination in the last 12 months – much higher levels than reported in most other regions.

In addition, most Muslims across the country (65%), along with an identical share of Hindus (65%), see communal violence as a very big national problem. (See Chapter 1 for a discussion of Indians’ attitudes toward national problems.)

Muslims in India support having access to their own religious courts

Like Hindus, Muslims prefer to live religiously segregated lives – not just when it comes to marriage and friendships, but also in some elements of public life. In particular, three-quarters of Muslims in India (74%) support having access to the existing system of Islamic courts, which handle family disputes (such as inheritance or divorce cases), in addition to the secular court system.

Muslims’ desire for religious segregation does not preclude tolerance of other groups – again similar to the pattern seen among Hindus. Indeed, a majority of Muslims who favor separate religious courts for their community say religious diversity benefits India (59%), compared with somewhat fewer of those who oppose religious courts for Muslims (50%).

Sidebar: Islamic courts in India

Since 1937, India’s Muslims have had the option of resolving family and inheritance-related cases in officially recognized Islamic courts, known as dar-ul-qaza. These courts are overseen by religious magistrates known as qazi and operate under Shariah principles . For example, while the rules of inheritance for most Indians are governed by the Indian Succession Act of 1925 and the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 (amended in 2005), Islamic inheritance practices differ in some ways, including who can be considered an heir and how much of the deceased person’s property they can inherit. India’s inheritance laws also take into account the differing traditions of other religious communities, such as Hindus and Christians, but their cases are handled in secular courts. Only the Muslim community has the option of having cases tried by a separate system of family courts. The decisions of the religious courts, however, are not legally binding , and the parties involved have the option of taking their case to secular courts if they are not satisfied with the decision of the religious court.

As of 2021, there are roughly 70 dar-ul-qaza in India. Most are in the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Goa is the only state that does not recognize rulings by these courts, enforcing its own uniform civil code instead. Dar-ul-qaza are overseen by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board .

Recent debates have emerged around Islamic courts. Some Indians have expressed concern that the rise of dar-ul-qaza could undermine the Indian judiciary, because a subset of the population is not bound to the same laws as everyone else. Others have argued that the rulings of Islamic courts are particularly unfair to women, although the prohibition of triple talaq may temper some of these criticisms. In its 2019 political manifesto , the BJP proclaimed a desire to create a national Uniform Civil Code, saying it would increase gender equality.

Some Indian commentators have voiced opposition to Islamic courts along with more broadly negative sentiments against Muslims, describing the rising numbers of dar-ul-qaza as the “Talibanization” of India , for example.

On the other hand, Muslim scholars have defended the dar-ul-qaza, saying they expedite justice because family disputes that would otherwise clog India’s courts can be handled separately, allowing the secular courts to focus their attention on other concerns.

Since 2018, the Hindu nationalist party Hindu Mahasabha (which does not hold any seats in Parliament) has tried to set up Hindu religious courts , known as Hindutva courts, aiming to play a role similar to dar-ul-qaza, only for the majority Hindu community. None of these courts have been recognized by the Indian government, and their rulings are not considered legally binding.

Muslims, Hindus diverge over legacy of Partition

The seminal event in the modern history of Hindu-Muslim relations in the region was the partition of the subcontinent into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan at the end of the British colonial period in 1947. Partition remains one of the largest movements of people across borders in recorded history, and in both countries the carving of new borders was accompanied by violence, rioting and looting .

More Muslims than Hindus in India see partition of the subcontinent as a bad thing for communal relations

More than seven decades later, the predominant view among Indian Muslims is that the partition of the subcontinent was “a bad thing” for Hindu-Muslim relations. Nearly half of Muslims say Partition hurt communal relations with Hindus (48%), while fewer say it was a good thing for Hindu-Muslim relations (30%). Among Muslims who prefer more religious segregation – that is, who say they would not accept a person of a different faith as a neighbor – an even higher share (60%) say Partition was a bad thing for Hindu-Muslim relations.

Sikhs, whose homeland of Punjab was split by Partition, are even more likely than Muslims to say Partition was a bad thing for Hindu-Muslim relations: Two-thirds of Sikhs (66%) take this position. And Sikhs ages 60 and older, whose parents most likely lived through Partition, are more inclined than younger Sikhs to say the partition of the country was bad for communal relations (74% vs. 64%).

While Sikhs and Muslims are more likely to say Partition was a bad thing than a good thing, Hindus lean in the opposite direction: 43% of Hindus say Partition was beneficial for Hindu-Muslim relations, while 37% see it as a bad thing.

Context for the survey

Interviews were conducted after the conclusion of the 2019 national parliamentary elections and after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under the Indian Constitution. In December 2019, protests against the country’s new citizenship law broke out in several regions.

Fieldwork could not be conducted in the Kashmir Valley and a few districts elsewhere due to security concerns. These locations include some heavily Muslim areas, which is part of the reason why Muslims make up 11% of the survey’s total sample, while India’s adult population is roughly 13% Muslim, according to the most recent census data that is publicly available, from 2011. In addition, it is possible that in some other parts of the country, interreligious tensions over the new citizenship law may have slightly depressed participation in the survey by potential Muslim respondents.

Nevertheless, the survey’s estimates of religious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes can be reported with a high degree of confidence for India’s total population, because the number of people living in the excluded areas (Manipur, Sikkim, the Kashmir Valley and a few other districts) is not large enough to affect the overall results at the national level. About 98% of India’s total population had a chance of being selected for this survey.

Greater caution is warranted when looking at India’s Muslims separately, as a distinct population. The survey cannot speak to the experiences and views of Kashmiri Muslims. Still, the survey does represent the beliefs, behaviors and attitudes of around 95% of India’s overall Muslim population.

These are among the key findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted face-to-face nationally among 29,999 Indian adults. Local interviewers administered the survey between Nov. 17, 2019, and March 23, 2020, in 17 languages. The survey covered all states and union territories of India, with the exceptions of Manipur and Sikkim, where the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation prevented fieldwork from starting in the spring of 2020, and the remote territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep; these areas are home to about a quarter of 1% of the Indian population. The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir was covered by the survey, though no fieldwork was conducted in the Kashmir region itself due to security concerns.

This study, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of a larger effort by Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies around the world. The Center previously has conducted religion-focused surveys across sub-Saharan Africa ; the Middle East-North Africa region and many other countries with large Muslim populations ; Latin America ; Israel ; Central and Eastern Europe ; Western Europe ; and the United States .

The rest of this Overview covers attitudes on five broad topics: caste and discrimination; religious conversion; religious observances and beliefs; how people define their religious identity, including what kind of behavior is considered acceptable to be a Hindu or a Muslim; and the connection between economic development and religious observance.

Caste is another dividing line in Indian society, and not just among Hindus

Religion is not the only fault line in Indian society. In some regions of the country, significant shares of people perceive widespread, caste-based discrimination.

The caste system is an ancient social hierarchy based on occupation and economic status. People are born into a particular caste and tend to keep many aspects of their social life within its boundaries, including whom they marry. Even though the system’s origins are in historical Hindu writings , today Indians nearly universally identify with a caste, regardless of whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain.

Most Indians say they belong to a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or Other Backward Class

Buddhists in India nearly universally identify themselves in these categories, including 89% who are Dalits (sometimes referred to by the pejorative term “untouchables”).

Members of SC/ST/OBC groups traditionally formed the lower social and economic rungs of Indian society, and historically they have faced discrimination and unequal economic opportunities . The practice of untouchability in India ostracizes members of many of these communities, especially Dalits, although the Indian Constitution prohibits caste-based discrimination, including untouchability, and in recent decades the government has enacted economic advancement policies like reserved seats in universities and government jobs for Dalits, Scheduled Tribes and OBC communities.

Roughly 30% of Indians do not belong to these protected groups and are classified as “General Category.” This includes higher castes such as Brahmins (4%), traditionally the priestly caste. Indeed, each broad category includes several sub-castes – sometimes hundreds – with their own social and economic hierarchies.

Three-quarters of Jains (76%) identify with General Category castes, as do 46% of both Muslims and Sikhs.

Caste-based discrimination, as well as the government’s efforts to compensate for past discrimination, are politically charged topics in India . But the survey finds that most Indians do not perceive widespread caste-based discrimination. Just one-in-five Indians say there is a lot of discrimination against members of SCs, while 19% say there is a lot of discrimination against STs and somewhat fewer (16%) see high levels of discrimination against OBCs. Members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are slightly more likely than others to perceive widespread discrimination against their two groups. Still, large majorities of people in these categories do not think they face a lot of discrimination.

Relatively few in India see widespread caste discrimination; perceptions vary by region

These attitudes vary by region, however. Among Southern Indians, for example, 30% see widespread discrimination against Dalits, compared with 13% in the Central part of the country. And among the Dalit community in the South, even more (43%) say their community faces a lot of discrimination, compared with 27% among Southern Indians in the General Category who say the Dalit community faces widespread discrimination in India.

A higher share of Dalits in the South and Northeast than elsewhere in the country say they, personally, have faced discrimination in the last 12 months because of their caste: 30% of Dalits in the South say this, as do 38% in the Northeast.

Most Indians say it is very important to stop people from marrying outside their caste

Overall, 64% of Indians say it is very important to stop women in their community from marrying into other castes, and about the same share (62%) say it is very important to stop men in their community from marrying into other castes. These figures vary only modestly across members of different castes. For example, nearly identical shares of Dalits and members of General Category castes say stopping inter-caste marriages is very important.

Majorities of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains consider stopping inter-caste marriage of both men and women a high priority. By comparison, fewer Buddhists and Christians say it is very important to stop such marriages – although for majorities of both groups, stopping people from marrying outside their caste is at least “somewhat” important.

People surveyed in India’s South and Northeast see greater caste discrimination in their communities, and they also raise fewer objections to inter-caste marriages than do Indians overall. Meanwhile, college-educated Indians are less likely than those with less education to say stopping inter-caste marriages is a high priority. But, even within the most highly educated group, roughly half say preventing such marriages is very important. (See Chapter 4 for more analysis of Indians’ views on caste.)

Religious conversion in India

Religious groups show little change in size due to conversion

This survey, though, finds that religious switching, or conversion, has a minimal impact on the overall size of India’s religious groups. For example, according to the survey, 82% of Indians say they were raised Hindu, and a nearly identical share say they are currently Hindu, showing no net losses for the group through conversion to other religions. Other groups display similar levels of stability.

Changes in India’s religious landscape over time are largely a result of differences in fertility rates among religious groups, not conversion.

Respondents were asked two separate questions to measure religious switching: “What is your present religion, if any?” and, later in the survey, “In what religion were you raised, if any?” Overall, 98% of respondents give the same answer to both these questions.

Hindus gain as many people as they lose through religious switching

An overall pattern of stability in the share of religious groups is accompanied by little net gain from movement into, or out of, most religious groups. Among Hindus, for instance, any conversion out of the group is matched by conversion into the group: 0.7% of respondents say they were raised Hindu but now identify as something else, and although Hindu texts and traditions do not agree on any formal process for conversion into the religion, roughly the same share (0.8%) say they were  not raised Hindu but now identify as Hindu. 5  Most of these new followers of Hinduism are married to Hindus.

Similarly, 0.3% of respondents have left Islam since childhood, matched by an identical share who say they were raised in other religions (or had no childhood religion) and have since become Muslim.

For Christians, however, there are some net gains from conversion: 0.4% of survey respondents are former Hindus who now identify as Christian, while 0.1% are former Christians.

Three-quarters of India’s Hindu converts to Christianity (74%) are concentrated in the Southern part of the country – the region with the largest Christian population. As a result, the Christian population of the South shows a slight increase within the lifetime of survey respondents: 6% of Southern Indians say they were raised Christian, while 7% say they are currently Christian.

Some Christian converts (16%) reside in the East as well (the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal); about two-thirds of all Christians in the East (64%) belong to Scheduled Tribes.

Nationally, the vast majority of former Hindus who are now Christian belong to Scheduled Castes (48%), Scheduled Tribes (14%) or Other Backward Classes (26%). And former Hindus are much more likely than the Indian population overall to say there is a lot of discrimination against lower castes in India. For example, nearly half of converts to Christianity (47%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Scheduled Castes in India, compared with 20% of the overall population who perceive this level of discrimination against Scheduled Castes. Still, relatively few converts say they, personally, have faced discrimination due to their caste in the last 12 months (12%).

Vast majority of Hindu converts to Christianity in India are concentrated in South

Religion very important across India’s religious groups

Though their specific practices and beliefs may vary, all of India’s major religious communities are highly observant by standard measures. For instance, the vast majority of Indians, across all major faiths, say that religion is very important in their lives. And at least three-quarters of each major religion’s followers say they know a great deal about their own religion and its practices. For example, 81% of Indian Buddhists claim a great deal of knowledge about the Buddhist religion and its practices.

Most Indians have a strong connection to their religion

Indian Muslims are slightly more likely than Hindus to consider religion very important in their lives (91% vs. 84%). Muslims also are modestly more likely than Hindus to say they know a great deal about their own religion (84% vs. 75%).

Generally, younger and older Indians, those with different educational backgrounds, and men and women are similar in their levels of religious observance. South Indians are the least likely to say religion is very important in their lives (69%), and the South is the only region where fewer than half of people report praying daily (37%). While Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the South are all less likely than their counterparts elsewhere in India to say religion is very important to them, the lower rate of prayer in the South is driven mainly by Hindus: Three-in-ten Southern Hindus report that they pray daily (30%), compared with roughly two-thirds (68%) of Hindus in the rest of the country (see “ People in the South differ from rest of the country in their views of religion, national identity ” below for further discussion of religious differences in Southern India).

The survey also asked about three rites of passage: religious ceremonies for birth (or infancy), marriage and death. Members of all of India’s major religious communities tend to see these rites as highly important. For example, the vast majority of Muslims (92%), Christians (86%) and Hindus (85%) say it is very important to have a religious burial or cremation for their loved ones.

Indians say life’s milestones should be marked by religious ceremonies

The survey also asked about practices specific to particular religions, such as whether people have received purification by bathing in holy bodies of water, like the Ganges River, a rite closely associated with Hinduism. About two-thirds of Hindus have done this (65%). Most Hindus also have holy basil (the tulsi plant) in their homes, as do most Jains (72% and 62%, respectively). And about three-quarters of Sikhs follow the Sikh practice of keeping their hair long (76%).

For more on religious practices across India’s religious groups, see Chapter 7 .

Near-universal belief in God, but wide variation in how God is perceived

Nearly all Indians say they believe in God (97%), and roughly 80% of people in most religious groups say they are absolutely certain that God exists. The main exception is Buddhists, one-third of whom say they do not believe in God. Still, among Buddhists who do think there is a God, most say they are absolutely certain in this belief.

One-third of Indian Buddhists do not believe in God

While belief in God is close to universal in India, the survey finds a wide range of views about the type of deity or deities that Indians believe in. The prevailing view is that there is one God “with many manifestations” (54%). But about one-third of the public says simply: “There is only one God” (35%). Far fewer say there are many gods (6%).

Even though Hinduism is sometimes referred to as a polytheistic religion , very few Hindus (7%) take the position that there are multiple gods. Instead, the most common position among Hindus (as well as among Jains) is that there is “only one God with many manifestations” (61% among Hindus and 54% among Jains).

In India, most Hindus and some members of other groups say there is one God with many manifestations

Among Hindus, those who say religion is very important in their lives are more likely than other Hindus to believe in one God with many manifestations (63% vs. 50%) and less likely to say there are many gods (6% vs. 12%).

By contrast, majorities of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs say there is only one God. And among Buddhists, the most common response is also a belief in one God. Among all these groups, however, about one-in-five or more say God has many manifestations, a position closer to their Hindu compatriots’ concept of God.

Most Hindus feel close to multiple gods, but Shiva, Hanuman and Ganesha are most popular

Traditionally, many Hindus have a “personal god,” or  ishta devata:  A particular god or goddess with whom they feel a personal connection. The survey asked all Indian Hindus who say they believe in God which god they feel closest to – showing them 15 images of gods on a card as possible options – and the vast majority of Hindus selected more than one god or indicated that they have many personal gods (84%). 7  This is true not only among Hindus who say they believe in many gods (90%) or in one God with many manifestations (87%), but also among those who say there is only one God (82%).

The god that Hindus most commonly feel close to is Shiva (44%). In addition, about one-third of Hindus feel close to Hanuman or Ganesha (35% and 32%, respectively).

There is great regional variation in how close India’s Hindus feel to some gods. For example, 46% of Hindus in India’s West feel close to Ganesha, but only 15% feel this way in the Northeast. And 46% of Hindus in the Northeast feel close to Krishna, while just 14% in the South say the same.

Feelings of closeness for Lord Ram are especially strong in the Central region (27%), which includes what Hindus claim is his ancient birthplace , Ayodhya. The location in Ayodhya where many Hindus believe Ram was born has been a source of controversy: Hindu mobs demolished a mosque on the site in 1992, claiming that a Hindu temple originally existed there. In 2019, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the demolished mosque had been built on top of a preexisting non-Islamic structure and that the land should be given to Hindus to build a temple, with another location in the area given to the Muslim community to build a new mosque. (For additional findings on belief in God, see Chapter 12 .)

More Hindus feel close to Shiva than any other deity

Sidebar: Despite economic advancement, few signs that importance of religion is declining

Indians show high levels of religious observance across socioeconomic levels

A prominent theory in the social sciences hypothesizes that as countries advance economically, their populations tend to become less religious, often leading to wider social change. Known as “secularization theory,” it particularly reflects the experience of Western European countries from the end of World War II to the present.

Despite rapid economic growth, India’s population so far shows few, if any, signs of losing its religion. For instance, both the Indian census and the new survey find virtually no growth in the minuscule share of people who claim no religious identity. And religion is prominent in the lives of Indians regardless of their socioeconomic status. Generally, across the country, there is little difference in personal religious observance between urban and rural residents or between those who are college educated versus those who are not. Overwhelming shares among all these groups say that religion is very important in their lives, that they pray regularly and that they believe in God.

Overwhelming shares say religion was very important to their family growing up and is to them personally now

Nearly all religious groups show the same patterns. The biggest exception is Christians, among whom those with higher education and those who reside in urban areas show somewhat lower levels of observance. For example, among Christians who have a college degree, 59% say religion is very important in their life, compared with 78% among those who have less education.

The survey does show a slight decline in the perceived importance of religion during the lifetime of respondents, though the vast majority of Indians indicate that religion remains central to their lives, and this is true among both younger and older adults.

Nearly nine-in-ten Indian adults say religion was very important to their family when they were growing up (88%), while a slightly lower share say religion is very important to them now (84%). The pattern is identical when looking only at India’s majority Hindu population. Among Muslims in India, the same shares say religion was very important to their family growing up and is very important to them now (91% each).

The states of Southern India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana) show the biggest downward trend in the perceived importance of religion over respondents’ lifetimes: 76% of Indians who live in the South say religion was very important to their family growing up, compared with 69% who say religion is personally very important to them now. Slight declines in the importance of religion, by this measure, also are seen in the Western part of the country (Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra) and in the North, although large majorities in all regions of the country say religion is very important in their lives today.

Across India’s religious groups, widespread sharing of beliefs, practices, values

Respecting elders a key shared religious, national value in India

Despite a strong desire for religious segregation, India’s religious groups share patriotic feelings, cultural values and some religious beliefs. For instance, overwhelming shares across India’s religious communities say they are very proud to be Indian, and most agree that Indian culture is superior to others.

Similarly, Indians of different religious backgrounds hold elders in high respect. For instance, nine-in-ten or more Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Jains say that respecting elders is very important to what being a member of their religious group means to them (e.g., for Hindus, it’s a very important part of their Hindu identity). Christians and Sikhs also overwhelmingly share this sentiment. And among all people surveyed in all six groups, three-quarters or more say that respecting elders is very important to being truly Indian.

Within all six religious groups, eight-in-ten or more also say that helping the poor and needy is a crucial part of their religious identity.

Beyond cultural parallels, many people mix traditions from multiple religions into their practices: As a result of living side by side for generations, India’s minority groups often engage in practices that are more closely associated with Hindu traditions than their own. For instance, many Muslim, Sikh and Christian women in India say they wear a bindi (a forehead marking, often worn by married women), even though putting on a bindi has Hindu origins.

Similarly, many people embrace beliefs not traditionally associated with their faith: Muslims in India are just as likely as Hindus to say they believe in karma (77% each), and 54% of Indian Christians share this view. 8  Nearly three-in-ten Muslims and Christians say they believe in reincarnation (27% and 29%, respectively). While these may seem like theological contradictions, for many Indians, calling oneself a Muslim or a Christian does not preclude believing in karma or reincarnation – beliefs that do not have a traditional, doctrinal basis in Islam or Christianity.

Some religious beliefs and practices shared across religious groups in India

Most Muslims and Christians say they don’t participate in celebrations of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights that is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. But substantial minorities of Christians (31%) and Muslims (20%) report that they do celebrate Diwali. Celebrating Diwali is especially common among Muslims in the West, where 39% say they participate in the festival, and in the South (33%).

Not only do some followers of all these religions participate in a celebration (Diwali) that consumes most of the country once a year, but some members of the majority Hindu community celebrate Muslim and Christian festivals, too: 7% of Indian Hindus say they celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid, and 17% celebrate Christmas.

Religious identity in India: Hindus divided on whether belief in God is required to be a Hindu, but most say eating beef is disqualifying

While there is some mixing of religious celebrations and traditions within India’s diverse population, many Hindus do not approve of this. In fact, while 17% of the nation’s Hindus say they participate in Christmas celebrations, about half of Hindus (52%) say that doing so disqualifies a person from being Hindu (compared with 35% who say a person can be Hindu if they celebrate Christmas). An even greater share of Hindus (63%) say a person cannot be Hindu if they celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid – a view that is more widely held in Northern, Central, Eastern and Northeastern India than the South or West.

Hindus are divided on whether beliefs and practices such as believing in God, praying and going to the temple are necessary to be a Hindu. But one behavior that a clear majority of Indian Hindus feel is incompatible with Hinduism is eating beef: 72% of Hindus in India say a person who eats beef cannot be a Hindu. That is even higher than the percentages of Hindus who say a person cannot be Hindu if they reject belief in God (49%), never go to a temple (48%) or never perform prayers (48%).

India’s Hindus mostly say a person cannot be Hindu if they eat beef, celebrate Eid

Attitudes toward beef appear to be part of a regional and cultural divide among Hindus: Southern Indian Hindus are considerably less likely than others to disqualify beef eaters from being Hindu (50% vs. 83% in the Northern and Central parts of the country). And, at least in part, Hindus’ views on beef and Hindu identity are linked with a preference for religious segregation and elements of Hindu nationalism. For example, Hindus who take a strong position against eating beef are more likely than others to say they would not accept followers of other religions as their neighbors (49% vs. 30%) and to say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian (68% vs. 51%).

Relatedly, 44% of Hindus say they are vegetarians, and an additional 33% say they abstain from eating certain meats. Hindus traditionally view cows as sacred, and laws pertaining to cow slaughter have been a recent flashpoint in India . At the same time, Hindus are not alone in linking beef consumption with religious identity: 82% of Sikhs and 85% of Jains surveyed say that a person who eats beef cannot be a member of their religious groups, either. A majority of Sikhs (59%) and fully 92% of Jains say they are vegetarians, including 67% of Jains who do not eat root vegetables . 9  (For more data on religion and dietary habits, see Chapter 10 .)

Sidebar: People in the South differ from rest of the country in their views of religion, national identity

The survey consistently finds that people in the South (the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, and the union territory of Puducherry) differ from Indians elsewhere in the country in their views on religion, politics and identity.

For example, by a variety of measures, people in the South are somewhat less religious than those in other regions – 69% say religion is very important in their lives, versus 92% in the Central part of the country. And 37% say they pray every day, compared with more than half of Indians in other regions. People in the South also are less segregated by religion or caste – whether that involves their friendship circles, the kind of neighbors they prefer or how they feel about intermarriage. (See Chapter 3 .)

Hindu nationalist sentiments also appear to have less of a foothold in the South. Among Hindus, those in the South (42%) are far less likely than those in Central states (83%) or the North (69%) to say being Hindu is very important to be truly Indian. And in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the BJP’s lowest vote share came in the South. In the survey, just 19% of Hindus in the region say they voted for the BJP, compared with roughly two-thirds in the Northern (68%) and Central (65%) parts of the country who say they voted for the ruling party.

Culturally and politically, people in the South have pushed back against the BJP’s restrictions on cow slaughter and efforts to nationalize the Hindi language . These factors may contribute to the BJP’s lower popularity in the South, where more people prefer regional parties or the Indian National Congress party.

These differences in attitudes and practices exist in a wider context of economic disparities between the South and other regions of the country. Over time, Southern states have seen stronger economic growth than the Northern and Central parts of the country. And women and people belonging to lower castes in the South have fared better economically than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. Even though three-in-ten people in the South say there is widespread caste discrimination in India, the region also has a history of anti-caste movements . Indeed, one author has attributed the economic growth of the South largely to the flattening of caste hierarchies.

Muslim identity in India

Most Muslims in India say a person cannot be Muslim if they never pray or attend a mosque. Similarly, about six-in-ten say that celebrating Diwali or Christmas is incompatible with being a member of the Muslim community. At the same time, a substantial minority express a degree of open-mindedness on who can be a Muslim, with fully one-third (34%) saying a person can be Muslim even if they don’t believe in God. (The survey finds that 6% of self-described Muslims in India say they do not believe in God; see “ Near-universal belief in God, but wide variation in how God is perceived ” above.)

Like Hindus, Muslims have dietary restrictions that resonate as powerful markers of identity. Three-quarters of Indian Muslims (77%) say that a person cannot be Muslim if they eat pork, which is even higher than the share who say a person cannot be Muslim if they do not believe in God (60%) or never attend mosque (61%).

Indian Muslims more likely to say eating pork is incompatible with Islam than not believing in God

Indian Muslims also report high levels of religious commitment by a host of conventional measures: 91% say religion is very important in their lives, two-thirds (66%) say they pray at least once a day, and seven-in-ten say they attend mosque at least once a week – with even higher attendance among Muslim men (93%).

By all these measures, Indian Muslims are broadly comparable to Muslims in the neighboring Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in those countries in late 2011 and early 2012. In Pakistan, for example, 94% of Muslims said religion is very important in their lives , while 81% of Bangladeshi Muslims said the same. Muslims in India are somewhat more likely than those elsewhere in South Asia to say they regularly worship at a mosque (70% in India vs. 59% in Pakistan and 53% in Bangladesh), with the difference mainly driven by the share of women who attend.

Indian Muslims are as religious as Muslims in neighboring countries, but fewer say there is just one correct way to interpret Islam

At the same time, Muslims in India are slightly less likely to say there is “only one true” interpretation of Islam (72% in Pakistan, 69% in Bangladesh, 63% in India), as opposed to multiple interpretations.

When it comes to their religious beliefs, Indian Muslims in some ways resemble Indian Hindus more than they resemble Muslims in neighboring countries. For example, Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh almost universally say they believe in heaven and angels, but Indian Muslims seem more skeptical: 58% say they believe in heaven and 53% express belief in angels. Among Indian Hindus, similarly, 56% believe in heaven and 49% believe in angels.

Overall, Indian Muslims’ level of belief in heaven, angels resembles Indian Hindus more than other Muslims in South Asia

Majority of Muslim women in India oppose ‘triple talaq’ (Islamic divorce)

Most Indian Muslims oppose triple talaq

Many Indian Muslims historically have followed the Hanafi school of thought, which for centuries allowed men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” (which translates as “divorce” in Arabic and Urdu) three times. Traditionally, there was supposed to be a waiting period and attempts at reconciliation in between each use of the word, and it was deeply frowned upon (though technically permissible) for a man to pronounce “talaq” three times quickly in a row. India’s Supreme Court ruled triple talaq unconstitutional in 2017, and it was banned by legislation in 2019 .

Most Indian Muslims (56%) say Muslim men should not be allowed to divorce this way. Still, 37% of Indian Muslims say they support triple talaq, with Muslim men (42%) more likely than Muslim women (32%) to take this position. A majority of Muslim women (61%) oppose triple talaq.

Highly religious Muslims – i.e., those who say religion is very important in their lives – also are more likely than other Muslims to say Muslim men should be able to divorce their wives simply by saying “talaq” three times (39% vs. 26%).

Triple talaq seems to have the most support among Muslims in the Southern and Northeastern regions of India, where half or more of Muslims say it should be legal (58% and 50%, respectively), although 12% of Muslims in the South and 16% in the Northeast do not take a position on the issue either way.

Sikhs are proud to be Punjabi and Indian

Sikhism is one of four major religions – along with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – that originated on the Indian subcontinent. The Sikh religion emerged in Punjab in the 15th century, when Guru Nanak, who is revered as the founder of Sikhism, became the first in a succession of 10 gurus (teachers) in the religion.

Today, India’s Sikhs remain concentrated in the state of Punjab. One feature of the Sikh religion is a distinctive sense of community, also known as “Khalsa” (which translates as “ones who are pure”). Observant Sikhs differentiate themselves from others in several ways, including keeping their hair uncut. Today, about three-quarters of Sikh men and women in India say they keep their hair long (76%), and two-thirds say it is very important to them that children in their families also keep their hair long (67%). (For more analysis of Sikhs’ views on passing religious traditions on to their children, see Chapter 8 .)

Vast majority of Sikh adults in India say they keep their hair long

Sikhs are more likely than Indian adults overall to say they attend religious services every day – 40% of Sikhs say they go to the gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) daily. By comparison, 14% of Hindus say they go to a Hindu temple every day. Moreover, the vast majority of Sikhs (94%) regard their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, as the word of God, and many (37%) say they read it, or listen to recitations of it, every day.

Sikhs in India also incorporate other religious traditions into their practice. Some Sikhs (9%) say they follow Sufi orders, which are linked with Islam, and about half (52%) say they have a lot in common with Hindus. Roughly one-in-five Indian Sikhs say they have prayed, meditated or performed a ritual at a Hindu temple.

Sikh-Hindu relations were marked by violence in the 1970s and 1980s, when demands for a separate Sikh state covering the Punjab regions in both India and Pakistan (also known as the Khalistan movement) reached their apex. In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards as revenge for Indian paramilitary forces storming the Sikh Golden Temple in pursuit of Sikh militants. Anti-Sikh riots ensued in Northern India, especially in the state of Punjab.

India’s Sikhs are nearly universally proud of their national, state identities

According to the Indian census, the vast majority of Sikhs in India (77%) still live in Punjab, where Sikhs make up 58% of the adult population. And 93% of Punjabi Sikhs say they are very proud to live in the state.

Sikhs also are overwhelmingly proud of their Indian identity. A near-universal share of Sikhs say they are very proud to be Indian (95%), and the vast majority (70%) say a person who disrespects India cannot be a Sikh. And like India’s other religious groups, most Sikhs do not see evidence of widespread discrimination against their community – just 14% say Sikhs face a lot of discrimination in India, and 18% say they personally have faced religious discrimination in the last year.

At the same time, Sikhs are more likely than other religious communities to see communal violence as a very big problem in the country. Nearly eight-in-ten Sikhs (78%) rate communal violence as a major issue, compared with 65% of Hindus and Muslims.

The BJP has attempted to financially compensate Sikhs for some of the violence that occurred in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, but relatively few Sikh voters (19%) report having voted for the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections. The survey finds that 33% of Sikhs preferred the Indian National Congress Party – Gandhi’s party.

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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Essay Service Examples Religion Hinduism

The Hindu Culture Of India

Hinduism is a culture that is rich in history and tradition. There are almost one billion followers of Hinduism around the world and the majority reside in India (Roots, 2020). Not only is Hinduism one of the largest world religions, it is also one the oldest. It is believed that Hinduism dates back 4,000 years (Hinduism, 2020). To those that practice Hinduism, they consider it much more than just a religion. For them, it is a culture, way of life and code of behavior (Roots, 2020).

Unlike many other religions, Hinduism does not have one founder. It is the fusion of various beliefs (Hinduism, 2020). Hinduism has many sects but is most often divided into four categories as follows: Shaivism (followers of Shiva), Vaishnava (followers of Vishnu), Shaktism (followers of Devi) and Smarta (followers of Brahman and all major deities) (Hinduism, 2020). Compared to other religions, Hinduism is extremely complex but there are some beliefs that hold true for most in the culture. Hindus believe that each living creature has a soul that is part of one supreme soul, the soul travels through 84 million animals before getting to the human body, where the soul goes after death is a direct result of Karma from their past life, the current life they are living in is a result of their past life, they believe in reincarnation and that there is no one path to reach God (Bennett, 2020).

The Hindu culture relies heavily on a social hierarchy in India called the Caste system. It is believed that your caste is based on your karma (the law of cause and effect) and dharma (righteousness and upholding moral laws). There are four castes as follows: Brahmin (intellectual and spiritual leaders), Kshatriyas (protectors and public servants), Vaisyas (skillful producers) and Shudras (unskilled laborers) (Hinduism, 2020).

As with many religions and cultures, Hindus have faced discrimination within their own culture and also discourse with other religions. Due to the believed inequity of the caste system all Indian Hindus won their freedom in 1947 when the country gained independence from Great Britain. Yet, like with the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960, freedom did not necessarily correlate with the continued acts of prejudice (Morgan 2012, p. 102). There have been nationalism movements throughout India in which groups of Hindus see the Muslim population in India a “threat” to Hindu India (HANCOCK 1995, p. 908).

Hinduism has a complex and highly developed socio-religious system. This system means that orthodox Hindu society has many different groups, but they must all work interdependently as they all have specific duties in society to perform (Taylor 1948, p. 3). This this unique system than makes Hinduism in India almost equally collectivistic and individualistic at the same time. The caste system creates a social hierarchy that lends to collectivistic behaviors. At the same time, in the Hindu culture, what one does spiritually and religiously directly effects their beliefs in death and rebirth. This type of thinking is individualistic in nature. This type of cultural orientation is known as vertical collectivism, “in which the individual sees the self as an integral part of the in-group, but the members are different from one another.” (Neuliep 2018, p. 57). Some other cultural practices come in the form of the Hindi philosophies that revolve around love and respect for others along with their whole group values shown through behavior and religious practices that guide them through life (Bennett 2020, p. 1).

It is due to the social hierarchy of the caste system that makes Hinduism a culture with a large power distance. In India subordinates are dependent on superiors (Neuliep 2018, p. 77). While this power distance structure is widely accepted, it was officially outlaws over 60 years ago. One reason for the upset is that Hindis are born into the same caste as their parents and can rarely navigate to another one during their lifetime (Bennett 2020, p. 4). This is frustrating to many during a more progressive time, seek to obtain education and the ability to grow within the social constraints of their cultural society.

Hindus believe that the building block of society is the extended family. It is not uncommon for three or four generations of family to live together. In this family dynamic it is often the elders that make the decisions and give guidance, men that are in charge of bringing in income and women are responsible for handling the domestic responsibilities. Marriage in the Hindu culture is considered a scared relationship. It is believed that two souls should bond for many lifetimes. This is considered both a social and religious obligation (Bennett 2020, p. 4).

Hinduism would be considered a high-context culture. Traditional or orthodox Hindus have a verbal communication style that tends to be indirect. This style is used to be polite and to not offend. To those that are not familiar with this style of communication, it can come off as ambiguous. Hindus save direct communication only for relationships with high levels of trust or crucial situations. It is uncommon for direct refusals to be used in communication as it would often be considered hostile. This can sometimes be confusing to those not familiar with the culture as Hindus may say yes to indicate then are listening while at the same time their body language may show disagreement. Since “no” is rarely used, silence is often used in its place. This is why in the Hindu culture; you must pay attention to what is not said as much as what is. Hindus prefer not to touch. They have respect for each other’s personal space and eye contact is minimal or avoided depending on the situation and status of the person they are talking to. Hindus use nodding as politeness rather than agreement, pointing is considered rude, touching someone’s head is offensive and the soles of the feet are considered the dirtiest part of one’s body so should not be displayed or touch other people. These are all examples that Hindus use a high-level of non-verbal communication (Indian Culture 2020).

essay on belief systems in india

The Hindu culture has a low uncertainty avoidance. Uncertainty avoidance is defined by “the degree to which members of a particular culture feel threatened by unpredictable, uncertain or unknown situations.” (Neuliep 2018, p. 82). This may be because for Hindus, all reality is spiritual. They believe that the physical universe is just an illusion. In their culture Brahman, sometimes referred to as God, is impersonal, indefinable, unknowable, unmanifested and without attributes (Morgan 2012, p.96). Hindus also do not see time as linear but past, present and future all occur at the same time and they do not end in death but instead are led to rebirth (Bennett 2020, p.4). All of these belief systems allow Hindus to take life as it comes and have very low uncertainty avoidance. It is a “what will be, will be” attitude and way of life.

When looking at a different culture, it is easiest to focus on how it’s different from your own. At first glance it may seem like the Hindu culture is far removed from American culture. In reality, there are a number of similarities as well as differences between the two cultures.

As discussed earlier, the majority of Hindus live in India. India and the United States are the two largest democracies in the world. Along with similar economic backgrounds, both Indian and American cultures are very proud and have rich heritages (Differences 2020). A high value on family and an importance of child-rearing are common in both cultures also.

There are many cultural difference between Hindus and Americans also. The Hindu culture gives a lot of importance on society whereas the American culture emphasizes on the individual. In Hindu culture marriages are arranged by families rather than being decided by the bride and groom. After marriages, Hindus believe in joint marriages. This can mean many generations living together. In American culture the children are often considered grown at 18 while moving out shortly after. Another vast difference between cultures is the treatment of women. Women in Hindu culture are considered to have a lower worth than men and are supposed to act and dress conservatively. American women do not have to adhere to a dress code (Differences 2020)

Along with cultural differences, Americans and Hindus have communication differences also. One potential communication barrier is speaking to a Hindu native to India would be language. A very small percentage of Hindu speak English. While Hindu culture does blend individualistic and collectivistic styles, American cultures tends to be much more individualistic. Since the Hindu culture most often puts the needs of society first, American culture could be considered self-absorbed to Hindus.

Power distance also plays a huge part in communication style. The Hindu culture has a large power distance and the American culture does not. So much of the Hindu culture depends on a hierarchy and different communication style based on who specifically they are speaking to. This can shift any time someone enters or exists a conversation. Since American culture has a much smaller power distance, communication could become difficult because either culture has the potential to become offended if not understood properly.

Another potential barrier to communication between the Hindu and American culture is style of communication. Hindu culture is much more implicit, while American culture is more explicit. Americans tend to speak exactly what is on their mind regardless of who they are communicating with. Hindus use a much more indirect style of communication and who they are speaking with contributes directly to the level of communication used.

In conclusion, there are many things that can be done to get have effective intercultural communication between the American and Hindu cultures. Hinduism now displays tremendous variety in India and the world around. As Indians have migrated to many different parts of the world, diversity has increased (Morgan 2012, pp. 102-3). While Americans may feel that Hindus have to adapt to some of our cultural norms, we too would have to adapt to theirs. Americans would need to adjust their communication style by adopting a much more implicit form of communication. This would need to be done in such a way that we watch our body language as to not be offensive and get a better level of understanding that much of the Hindu communication is non-verbal versus verbal. Americans need to understand that the Hindu culture relies heavily on a hierarch system that affects their communication style. When attempting intercultural communication with someone of the Hindu culture, with some research, it is possible to have effective and enjoyable conversation.

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What is hinduism? Hinduism is one of the world’s major religions, originating in india. The religion revolves around several different philosophies, beliefs and rituals. Hinduism is almost like a collage of philosophies and traditions, having many gods for many different things. Because of this it is often thought of as a way of life or a family of religions rather than one focused religion, something like christianity. Hinduism, originating in india is closely related to other popular rieligions in india,...

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INTRODUCTION Hinduism refers as a religious designation to the sacred philosophy of peoples living in contemporary India and Southeast Asia. It is a combination of many spiritual customs in the region and does not have a set of clearly defined beliefs. It is accepted by the scholars that Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world, but no known historical figure is due to its origin. Hindu roots are diverse and are likely to be a combination of...

They are all most of ancient Hindu texts which define truth for Hindus religion, and they are also helping giving spiritual advise and wisdom to the Hinduism believers. All consisting of hymns, prayers, praises, spiritual guiding, meditations and mystical and philosophical teaching. So they have a huge benefit in Hinduism. For instance, Vedas are a huge body of Hindu texts, stands for the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Considers to be apauruṣeya, it means...

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Introduction To begin with, when we think about Hinduism, we think about the holy scriptures like The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana, Mahabharata, when we read this we get lots of confusion, so many superficials things which do not make any sense and then most of us lose interest. The sole reason for this is because we are reading a book of Shakespeare without knowing the basic English language or Alphabets. So due to our own ignorance of the basics we...

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365 Words Essay on Religion in India

India is a secular country where all religions and faiths are respected. India is home to Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews, Buddhists, etc. For years, people of diverse faiths have co-existed peacefully in India.

Even today, this is to some extent true. But the Babri Masjid demolition marked a turning point in relations between Hindus and Muslims in this country. The rise of Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism has ruined the religious amity that prevailed before. Vote bank politics is one of the main reasons for this situation.

Hinduism has always been a tolerant religion so it is all the more difficult to digest its new-found militant avatar. India’s beauty and uniqueness lies in its pluralism. We are proud of the Taj Mahal, one of the eight wonders of the world. But it was built by a Muslim ruler. Many Hindus love the ‘biriyani’ which is a Muslim dish.

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So can there be an India just for the people of one religion? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be the India we love and cherish. The Godhra and Kandhamal incidents were a blot on India’s reputation. It is true that many new denomination churches, which are not approved of even by the mainstream churches, aggressively encourage conversion.

But how can we forget the contributions of the churches which gave us good educational institutions and mission hospitals and indulged in selfless service towards the needy? The truly enlightened know that there is only one God, if God does exist. So it is irrelevant under what name we worship Him.

Fighting in the name of religion is therefore a national waste of time and energy which can be used for good things. Instead of building more temples, churches and mosques, let us build more orphanages and hospitals for the poor. Let us build homes for destitute women and abandoned elders and mentally ill people where they can live with dignity.

This will be the highest form of worshipping the Almighty. Love is the greatest religion in the world and when we shower our love on those who are cast out by the world, we earn a place in heaven or jannat or swarg which are all one and the same.

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Hindu Religion Essay

Hinduism Axia College of University of phoenix Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions and never had a beginning. Hinduism has no human founder. Hinduism comes from the word India that also serves religious coulters and ideas that has developed in India for more than a thousand years. The Hindu tradition recognizes that there are many ways by which people may seek and experience religious understanding. The Hindu society worships one or more gods that are called Deities. The Hinduism religion is originally from the ancient Vedic tradition and other indigenous beliefs gradually created over time. The Hindu religion is a collection of religious beliefs from cultures all across India. What makes the Hindu religion is its own diversity. The Hindu worships God in some form. They believe that God id infinite but they cannot imagine the infinite. Most Hindus believe in a supreme spirit called Brahman, who is worshiped in many forms. Hinduism centers around practices that are meant to help one experience the divinity that is everywhere. Hindus believe in the divinity of the Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture. The Hindu religion is often labeled as a religion of 330 million gods. The number 330 million was used to give a symbolic expression to the Hindu doctrine that God lives in the hearts of all living beings. A major belief of Hindu is reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief that a person or being’s soul never dies, being reborn over as an animal or another life form. The cultural and societal influences that make the Hindu way of life and religion vital to those practicing it come from the outside. There are other religions like Christianity and Islam that have sought to control Hinduism over the centuries. Hinduism is extremely diverse and did not feel compelled to unify their many traditions. Hindus influence their lives by devotional traditions. People who practice Hindu religion try to pass their religion and beliefs by sharing their knowledge with to others about Hinduism. Hinduism’s greatest attribute is the diversity and the ability to include all beliefs. The Hindu culture celebrates many festivals through out the year and it is said that there are more than a thousand different Hindu festivals. The Hindu festivals are intended to purify, renew society, and stimulate the vital powers of nature. Hinduism has different effects on people. To those who understand it, it gives them unlimited knowledge and power. The desire for liberation from earthly existence is one of the underpinnings of classical Hinduism, and Buddhism as well. Attaining spiritual realization or liberation is thought to take a least a lifetime or many life times. Hinduism is basically freedom of the soul. Hindus practice meditation and this lets the mind Show More

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essay on belief systems in india

Show More Paper 1 In ancient India, religious beliefs played an important role in everyday life. Many religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism, were found throughout Indian civilization dating back to 1500 B.C.E. The most predominating ancient religion, Hinduism, is still in practice today as one of the world’s oldest religions (India Religion ). Indian culture exhibits interesting diversity that has been around for decades, but the main focal point discussed is about the different aspects of Hinduism . Hinduism, derived from the Indus Valley Civilization(India’s earliest known civilization), involves a variety of cultural traditions with one of its major influences from pantheism. Pantheism, the belief that God and …show more content… Defined as the sum of a person 's actions in this and previous states of existence, and viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. The future of each individual is based on karma until the self becomes one with the cosmos. If that balance is not found in a person’s lifetime, reincarnation returns the Atman in a different physical form, in hopes to gain nirvana to Brahman (Humanities I, 74). Karma can be altered through natural and moral decisions and actions. Hinduism teaches morality of the soul, but not individual or personal morality. This has to do with the gradual rejection of the material world, as personality is part of the illusion and gets in the way of gaining the unity that many Hindu ’s seek(Humanities I, 73). Through the belief of reincarnation, the soul of an individual who did not reach the goal of Hinduism, is reborn again in an altered physical state. Reincarnation is a cyclical process of one’s self working off karma to achieve unification with an ultimate (Sire, 159). This practice disregards any importance of personality to any individual in the Hindu religion, because of the fact that individual souls cannot survive death. However, the Atman that they seek to become and join as one with Brahman will survive death (Sire, 158). The Atman will actually continue to return until it reaches liberation and absorption with Brahman (Humanities I, 74). The ultimate

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