One interesting question to ask when researching about India is what is India’s religious legacy. India, as we today, is a result of an evolution and development over a long period of several millenniums. India is the only country in the world to have given birth to four major world religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Religion has always played a central part in the lives of the people of this country . Majority of the population is god fearing and firm believers in various religious rituals and practices. What is India’s religious legacy is a question often asked by those who are not aware of the glorious past of this large and culturally very important country of the world. This article attempts to find an answer to this question.
India’s Religious Legacy – Facts
Religious tolerance and religious diversity
Despite having so many religions and faiths being observed by more than a billion people, India remains a shining example of religious diversity and pluralism of faiths. In a world torn apart by strife resulting from various ideologies, India has remained by and large peaceful. This is because of religious tolerance of the people of India. People do not interfere in the religion and faiths practiced by others and co-exist peacefully. Thus, tolerance and acceptance are two of the most important religious legacies of India that are appreciated and valued by the people around the world.
The spread of Buddhism
Buddhism that took birth in India is followed by less than 1% of the population today. However, the fact remains that this religion spread to far flung countries and it is being practised by billions of people in China, Japan, Korea, and many other countries of the world. The birth of this religion can be attributed to the disenchantment of the people with the rituals and practices in Hindu religion and it even got state patronage and mass acceptance. Nevertheless, after the death of Emperor Ashoka, Brahmins reunited and forced the followers of Buddhism to leave the country. Buddhism remains a major religious legacy of India.
Yoga and Ayurveda
Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that is today seen as a system for the health of body and mind. However, in ancient India, yoga was a way of life that was an inseparable part of the Hindu religion. It was designed to bring the individual closer to the universal soul or the almighty. Yoga finds universal acceptance all across the world minus religion and it is not considered sacred but useful for maintaining health of body and mind. Similarly, Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu medicine science, which was a part of the Hindu religion, is today seen as a great alternative medical science.It is non-invasive and very beneficial for the treatment of various ailments with the use of herbs and other natural objects.
The usefulness and importance of Indian religious legacy get demonstrated amply in today’s world where not only different religions but even the followers of different sects of same religions are fighting and killing each other. The spread of Indian religion called Buddhism is not because of a war or conquest but because of important values of wisdom and compassion.