Religion evolved as a set of beliefs regarding the nature and purpose of the universe. Gradually, they became organized systems of beliefs binding groups of people into a close-knit society.

Other important definitions of religion:

  1. Max Muller in his book “Science of Religion” termed religion as “a mental faculty or disposition which enables humans to apprehend the infinite”
  2. B.Taylor in his work “Primitive Culture” defines religion as “a belief in spiritual beings”.
  3. Hoffeding in his work “Religious Philosophy” describes religion as “faith in the conservation of value.”
  4. Galloway defines religion as a “man’s faith in a power beyond himself whereby he seeks to satisfy emotional needs and gains stability of life and which he expresses in acts of worship and service.”
  5. William James defines religion as “the feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine”.

Some of the general characteristics of religion include:

  1. The object of faith in the religious sense is the ultimate concern of all religion
  2. Religion includes all aspects of a human being at work and means an all-pervasive attitude to the whole reality, society and one’s total relationship.
  3. Religion is a matter of human’s total self-involvement and full commitment to a certain field of action. Faith without actions is like a tree without fruits.
  4. Religion acts as a source of inspiration and encouragement in life to many.

Religion in India has never been static; various movements have developed with new ideas and in response to evolving socio-economic situations. Almost all major religions of the world are professed in this country. There are four religions that trace their origin to the Indian subcontinent- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Religious beliefs and systems that arrived from outside are Islam and Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Baha’i