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 are common faith, worship, rituals, customs, and traditions. “Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to the sacred thing which unites into one single moral community.
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Various Kinds of Religions:
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 the caste system and the 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 Ahinsa 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 a holy text of Buddhists.
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It was founded by “Mahaveer”. Jainism also believes in Ahinsa. 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. Its beliefs in a single God viz: Allah. Islam does not believe in idol worship. It believes in the 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 “Karma”. Every Muslim has to observe fasting during the month of “Ramadan”.
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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 Sikhs Adi Granth. The place of worship of Sikhs is known as “Gurudwaras”.
Though different religions preach different principles, every religion is characterised by certain basic features. They are as follows:
- Every human society has a system of religion. The role of religion has declined but “religion” as a social system continues to exist.
- Every religion believes in the worship of a common God.
- Every religion believes in the performance of certain rituals.
- 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 the Ghosts, people started believing in the existence of the supernatural power which at a later stage resulted in the growth of religion.
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Impact of Religion on Indian Society:
India is a land of religious diversities. All the major religions of the world, viz.: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are found in India. The institution of religion has its own impact on Indian society which can be summarised as follows:
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
Negative Impact of Religion:
The institution of religion has caused many problems in Indian society.
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.
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.
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.
Religion plays a significant role in business organisations. Management practices depend on religion. For instance:
- Declaration of holidays for particular religious festivals.
- Payment of Bonus for certain festivals.
- Festival advance schemes
- Celebration of some Pooja like Lakshmi Pooja on Fridays, Ayudha Pooja in organisations,
- Allowing long leisure for Muslim employees on Fridays.
Thus, Religion is one of the important factors influencing the practices and policies of the organization.