From the earliest times man worshipped any natural object or force which he could not understand, or of which he was afraid. Fire, Sun, trees and Rain were some of the earliest gods. Religions were born as man became civilized, developed his power of thinking and reasoning and began to understand the world.
Different people follow different religions. However, all religions teach us the same values.
India is a land of many religions. Indians have the freedom to follow any religion they want to. The main religions in India are Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.
There are many common beliefs and customs among all these religions
It is one of the oldest religions of the world. Hindu believes that there is one supreme God, who is worshipped in three forms, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The holy books of the Hindus are the four Vedas, the Upanishads, the Purnas and the Bhagavad Gita. Hindus also worship gods and goddess. These include Ram, Krishna, Ganesh, Hanuman, Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi, Hindus worship in temples or at home.
Islam is the religion practiced by Muslims. The word Islam means ‘submission to God’. Islam was propagated by Prophet Muhammad. Islam teaches people to believe in one supreme God, Allah. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last of the prophets and he brought Allah’s final message to the world. The holy book of the Muslims is the Koran.
Muslims worship in mosques or at home. They pray five times a day and fast in the month of Ramzan. They do not have any pictures or idols of God.
Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad is the holy city of Islam.
This religion was founded by Guru Nanak (guru means spiritual guide or teacher). Sikhs believe in one god who created the world and all things in it. Sikhs follow the teaching of Guru Nanak and his nine successors who are also called Gurus. The collection of the writings of the gurus is in the form of a book, the Guru Granth sahib, which is the holy scripture of the Sikhs.
Sikhs worship in Gurudwars. The Golden Temple at Amristar is one of the holiest shrines of the Sikhs.
The founder of Christianity was Jesus and the followers of Jesus Christ are called Christians. Like other great religious leaders, Jesus taught by example, living a simple and selfless life based on love. Christian love has two elements-love of god and love of people.
Christian worship can take place anywhere and at any time, but it is usually done privately with prayers in the home, or publicly at church services, especially on Sundays. The Bible is the holy book of Christians.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha, or the ‘Enlightened One’
Buddhist do not worship any particular person or good, but follow a system of thoughts, mediation and spiritual exercise based on the Buddha’s teachings.
This religion was founded by Mahavir (the great Hero). The guiding principle of Jainism is respect for life and all living things.
Jainism teaches right conduct, right faith, tolerance and non-violence.
Jains do not believe in one god, not do they pray to gods to help them. Instead, they rely on spiritual teachers to train them in mediation and self-discipline. Worship may involve quite mediation or the repletion of a mantra.
It is an ancient faith which is today practiced by people living mainly in Iran and in India. The Zoroastrians in India are known as Parsees.
Zoroastrianism was founded by Prophet Zoroaster. It is believed that he was inspired to teach and spread the faith. Zoroastrianism stresses that good deeds are the only way to form a happy society.
Parsees worship in a ‘fire temple’. The holy book of the Parsees is the Zend Avesta.
The religion is practiced by Jews and was born in Israel. They believe in only one God who created the world and rules over it.
Jews worship in synagogues and the torah is their holy book.
You will be surprised to learn that all these great religions and great religious teachers teach us the same basic values. Let us read some of these.
- There is only one God, who is the Creator of all beings. God is infinite and eternal.
- God loves everyone. All are born equal.
- Service to man is service to God.
- Right living and good deeds in the path to true happiness.
- We should love and respect all creations of God.
- Kindness and love are the greatest forces; hate and anger are our enemies.
- We should love, obey and respect our parents.
Now don’t you think that if you are true followers of any religion you will respect all other religions?