People And Religion
India is probably the only country with the largest and most diverse mixture of races. All the five major racial types – Australoid, Mongoloid, Europoid, Caucasian and Negroid – find representation among the people of India.
India is perhaps the most culturally diverse country of the world. Once can find representation from almost all the major religions in India
The Hindu religion had its origin in the concepts of the early Aryans who came to India more than 4,000 years ago. It is not merely a religion but also philosophy and a way of life. Hinduism does not originate in the teachings of any one prophet or holy book. It respects other religions and does not attempt to seek converts. It teaches the immortality of the human soul and three principal paths to ultimate union of the individual soul with the all-pervasive spirit.
The essence of Hindu faith is embodied in the Lord’s Song, the Bhagavad Gita: “He who considers this (self) as a slayer or lie who thinks that this (self) is slain, neither knows the Truth. For it does not slay, nor is it slain. This (self) is unborn, eternal, changeless, ancient, it is never destroyed even when the body is destroyed”.
Jainism and Buddhism
In the sixth century before Christ, Mahavira propagated Jainism. Its message was asceticism, austerity and non-violence. At about the same time, Buddhism came into being Gautama Buddha, a prince, renounced the world and gained enlightenment. He preached that ‘Nirvana’ was to be attained through the conquest of self. Buddha’s teachings in time spread to China and some other countries of South-East Asia.
Arab traders brought Islam to South India in the seventh century. After them came the Afghan the seventh century. After them came the Afghans and the Moghuls, among whom the most enlightens was the Emperor Akbar. Akbar almost succeeded in founding a new religion Din-e-Elahi, based on both Hinduism and Islam, but it found few adherents. Islam has flourished in India through the centuries. Muslim citizens have occupied some of the highest positions in the country since independence in 1947.
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism in the 15-century, stressed the unity of God and the The Sisganj Gurudwara in Delhi, an important Sikh shrine brotherhood of man. Sikhism, with its affirmation of as the one supreme truth and its ideals of discipline and spiritual striving, soon won many followers. It was perhaps possible only in this hospitable land that two religions as diverse as Hinduism and Islam could come could come together in a third, namely Sikhism.
Christianity reached India not long after Christ’s own lifetime, with the arrival of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The Syrian Christian Church in the south traces its roots to the visit of St. Thomas. With the arrival of St. Francis Xavier in 1542 the Roman Catholic faith was established in India. Today Christians of several denominations practice their faith freely.