Religions In India Part III : RAS Art And Culture
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Religions In India Part III : RAS Art And Culture

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Religions In India Part III : RAS Art And Culture


  • Origin: Arab Peninsula in 5th century AD
  • ‘Islam’ literally means ‘submission to God’
  • Hence, those who follow preachings of Prophet Muhammad and submit themselves to God are called ‘Muslims’.
  • God has sent many messengers on earth like Moses, Abraham etc and Prophet Muhammad was the last.
  • Both Muslims and Christians share Abraham as common ancestor.

Prophet Mohammad:

  • Initially faced many problems and left Mecca and migrated to Medina. 
  • Later, returned Mecca through successful coup and this return journey to Mecca is called Hajj (Holy pilgrimage).
  • Every pilgrim is supposed to do this once in the lifetime. 
  • All the teachings of Prophet are compiled in ‘Quran’ by his followers.


  • Both Sunnah and Quran form the basis for Islamic laws or Sharia.
  • Major schools of islamic laws in India are: Maliki, Shafei, Hanafi and Hambali.
  • Islam followers believe that there is only one Allah who sent many messengers to the Earth, Prophet Muhammad being the last.
  • They believe that everyone will be sent to hell or heaven after the death based on the merits and bad deeds on the ‘day of judgement’.
  • A good muslim should offer prayer or namaz five times a day.
  • Every friday, prayers should be done in community mosque and is called ‘Juma Namaz’.
  • A true muslim should fast from sunrise to sunset in the month of Ramzan that ends with Eid celebrations.
  • Every muslim should give a portion of his earnings to the poor as per Mohammad and is called charity or Zakat.

Two major sects in Islam:

  • Shia (partisans of Ali)
  • Sunni (who follow Sunnah)
  • The difference between them is about the successor of Prophet Mohammad.
  • Sunnis believed that the successor should be close to the Prophet and should be followers of Abu Bakr.
  • Shias believed that the successor should be the blood relation of Prophet and hence claimed Ali, his son-in-law to be the successor. 
  • Majority of muslims in India are Sunni and the presence of Shias are observed when they reenact the death of Ali.
  • The movements that brought changes in Islam are: Ahmadiya Movement, Farizi movement, Tariqh-i-Muhammadiya movement and Aligarh movement. 

Ahmadiya movement:

  • Founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to create a group of people who could maintain true islamic values.

Faraizi movement:

  • Founded by Haji Shariatullah to call for pure Islam and urged muslims to do their duties called Faraiz.

Tariqh-i-Muhammadiya movement:

  • Founded by Sayyid Ahmed Barelvi to establish Islamic state by using arms.

Aligarh movement:

  • Founded by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan to promote modern education for muslims so that they could work with the British that leads to overall empowerment of muslims.


  • One of the largest religions in the World.
  • Founded by Jesus Christ in Jerusalem 
  • Initially, it became a religion of the Roman empire and then spread to other parts.
  • Major sects are Methodists, Protestants etc.
  • The basic philosophy is that there is only one God who created universe. 
  • To help his creation, God sends Messiah(s) as messengers like Jesus. 
  • Jesus helped the people to find God and he became people’s saviour.
  • God’s presence was retained as Holy spirit on earth after the death of Jesus.
  • Christians worship the Holy Trinity: the father, the son and the Holy ghost. 
  • Bible is the holy book of christians.
  • Bible consists of old testament of jews and new writings of Pope who headed Roman Catholic Church.
  • These new writings are called New testament and both the compilation is called Bible.
  • The main practice of Christianity is Baptism where an individual enters the church’s service. 
  • Eucharist is the another practice of breaking wine and bread with God to indicate the unity with the being.

Christianity in India:

  • Two stages- Medieval period and 19th century missionary work.
  • First stage: St. Thomas, Jesus’s apostle reached India in 52 AD and converted many people in Kerala to christianity. 
  • Later, he was buried at the cathedral church of St.Thomas in Mylapore.
  • Portuguese also brought christian missionaries with them and preached their teachings with the permission from Jahangir and Akbar.
  • In 1557, St. Francis Xavier made Goa an Archbishopric.
  • Second Stage: Some christian missionaries entered Bengal and converted people to christianity.
  • These missionaries provided modern education and medical assistance to the converted people.
  • Even now, YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association ) and YWCA (women’s) are taking Jesus message to the tribal people and trying to convert the people providing them medicines and education.
  • Some other groups are protestant groups, Syrian christians of Kerala etc.


  • The history of this religion commences with the time, life and teachings of Guru Nanak (1469-1539). 
  • He has a different approach to fight against Hinduism.
  • He criticised the existing lifestyle of Punjab and showed another way of socio-religious organisation of all his followers.
  • He introduced congregational worship in dharamsala and dining together.
  • He condemned the existing social order and gave alternative for it.
  • The main purpose of human existence according to him was to attain salvation.
  • This salvation can be attained only by right worship, right belief and right conduct as taught by the guru. 
  • He developed Community Kitchen (Langar), a new form of worship.
  • Nanak doesn’t asked for any sacrifices but asks his followers to be an ideal man who earns his livelihood, attend community gatherings (sangat), kirtan (praising god by songs) at dharamsala or gurudwara, a place of worship of Sikhs.
  • In the initial phase, Khattari traders were the main followers. 
  • List of gurus as per sequence: Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjun Dev, Guru Hargobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishan, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.
  • With the execution of Guru Arjun Dev by Jahangir, Mughal-sikh relations became worst. This is the first martyrdom of the sikhs.

Guru Hargobind:

  • Due to this, the next guru Hargobind started an organised military at his own residence at Ramdaspur. 
  • He made a grid of two swords as symbol for sikhs. One represents Bhakti and the other Shakti.
  • To conduct daily business and defence, Akhal Takht was constructed by him.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur also tried to establish sovereign authority in the sikh regions. Hence, he was murdered by Aurangzeb in 1675 in Delhi.
  • After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, the authority was transferred to Guru Granth Sahib/ Guru Panth. He also initiated KHALSA.
  • The Khalsa sikhs should not cut the hair and should possess 5 k’s (Kesh, Kachcha, Kirpan, Kagha and Kara).


  • Origin: Persia by the Prophet Zarathustra around 6-7 BCE. 
  • Believes in one God, Ahura Mazda who is the epitome of goodness and just behaviour. 
  • The spirit of bad and malice behaviour is called Angra Mainyu
  • Due to Islamic invasions, Zoroastrians fled from Iran to India in 936 AD who are called as Parsis and are the smallest and shrinking communities in India. They live mainly in Ahmedabad, Goa and Mumbai.
  • Their temples are called Atash Bahram and are only eight in our country.
  • Sacred texts: Zenda Avesta and Athuna Vairyo.

The glossary of these texts is called Zend which consists of five parts:

  1. Videvdad: laws against demons
  2. Yasna: worship with offerings and ceremony
  3. Yashts: to worship
  4. Khordeh Avestha: Daily prayers book
  5. Gathas: consists of five parts called Ushtavaiti, Ahunavaiti, Vohu-Khshathra, Vashishta-Ishti and Spenta-Mainyu.
  • They worship fire and considers water, air and earth as sacred.
  • The dead bodies are kept in open places called ‘Dakhma’ and let the vultures (DakhmaNashini) to eat them.
  • Towers of Silence’ in Mumbai is the only place in India where such spaces are present. 

The three major sects: 

  • Kadmi: Have the accurate and the oldest calendar.
  • Shahenshai: Calendar is calculated from Yasdegard III, the last Sassanian king.
  • Fasli: Follows traditional persian calendar.

For more such topics join RAS Course

Also read:

Religions In India Part I

Religions In India Part II