Religions Born in India

Tracing religious existence in the Indian subcontinent is very difficult and is a debatable issue. The oldest signs of religion in India are from Indus valley civilization. The religion followed by the Indus valley people cannot be said exactly. But according to the available evidences, it has more similarities to Vedic civilization.

There are four oldest religions in India. These are there even today. Those are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.


Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world. The name Hindu is not actually the name of religion. There are some explanations how this word has come. Some scholars say this is based on the river Sindhu. Persians used to call on the people on the other side of Sindhu river as Hindus instead of Sindhus.

Hinduism is not found by a single person. The scriptures are a lot bigger when compared with other religions. There are no commonly agreed set of teachings and philosophies. There are many holy books. Some writers suggest Hinduism as a way of life.

Hinduism is the third biggest religion in the world. It is a major religion in India and Nepal. It also exists outside India having followers about 100 crore.


Buddhism is one of the oldest religion born in Indian subcontinent. It is the world’s fourth largest religion. Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development, and attainment of insight into the true nature of life.

Prince Siddhartha was born in Lumbini at Kapilavatthu (Nepal near Indian border) in the year 623 BC. He is also known as “Sakyamuni” because his father belongs to Sakya clan. Siddhartha left his family and luxury life at the age of 29 in search of meaning of true human life. After practicing meditation and asceticism near Bodh Gaya he got enlightenment at the age of 35 years. From then onwards Siddhartha was known as Gautam Buddha (the enlightened one). At Sarnath, near Benares he gave his first public address on four truths and eightfold path.


Jainism is one of the ancient religions born in India. It believes in universe without creator, beginning and end. Jainism is based on the teachings of Tirthankaras. There are twenty four Tirthankaras in the history of Jainism. The founder of Jainism is Adinath. Adinath is also known as Rishabha. There is little historical evidence about Rishabha. Some seals of Indus Valley likely to depict Rishabha. He was also mentioned in Vedic literature.

Parsva is the 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism. He belonged to Iksvaku dynasty and lived 250 years before Mahavira. In his time, four new principles were added to Jainism. Those are non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing and not owning things.

Modern form of Jainism is regarded by Mahavira. Vardamana is the original name of Mahavira. Sometimes he is also called as Vardamana Mahavira. He was born in 599 BCE to the king Siddhartha and Queen Trishala who were the followers of teachings of Parshva. At the age of 30 he left the royal palace to attain the enlightenment. After 12 ½ years he attained enlightenment by fasting and meditation. After that he taught people until his last breath. Mahavira added the fifth principle “Chastity” to the Jainism.

Sects in Jainism:

Jainism got divided into two sects in around 80 AD.

  1. Svetambara: Means white clad. Svetambara gives more liberal to interpretation of Mahavira’s teachings. It allows their monks to wear white garment. Women are also allowed in their religion and to find salvation.
  2. Digambara: Means sky clad. This is more traditionalist way. Digambara monks do not wear cloths as it increases the desire for material things. It is said until the women are reborn as men, they do not have the chance to salvation.


Sikhism is the fifth largest organized religion in the world. It was founded by Guru Nanak Dev in the 15th century in Punjab region. It is a monotheistic religion. “Sikh” literally means “disciple”. Guru Nanak Dev followers are called “Sikhs”. The term for the faith is “Sikhism”.

Guru Nanak was born on 15th April 1469 in the Western Punjab village of Talwandi. When he was young, he used to spend much time for meditation and discussions with Hindu and Muslim holy men. He got enlightened at river Bain. In the year 1499, he traveled throughout India and spread his enlightened thoughts.

The preachings of Sikhism are devotion and remembrance of God at all times, equality of mankind, truthful living and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhs belief is there is one god. Sikhism evolved under the preachings and guidance of 10 Gurus.

The 10 Sikh gurus:

There are ten gurus in Sikh history.

  1. Guru Nanak Dev (1469 – 1539) – Founder of Sikh religion
  2. Guru Angad Dev (1504 – 1552) – Gurmukhi script evolved
  3. Guru Amardas (1479 – 1574) – Goindwal town founded as headquarters of Sikhs and contributed towards social reforms.
  4. Guru Ramdas (1534 – 1581) – Founded the religious center for Sikhs the town Amritsar and introduced concept of voluntary service.
  5. Guru Arjan Dev (1563 – 1606) – Compiled the first version of Guru Granth Sahib and constructed Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in 1604.
  6. Guru Hargobind (1595 – 1644) – Akal Takhat also known as Waheguru’s throne of justice constructed facing Harmandir Sahib and started giving military training to the Sikhs there. “Nishan Sahib” flag installed by him outside Akal Takhat.
  7. Guru Har Rai (1630 – 1661) – Introduced selfless service
  8. Guru Harkrishan (1656 – 1664) – He became guru at the age of 5 years. He was dead while trying to help the people suffering from epidemic chicken pox.
  9. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621 – 1675) – Anandpur Sahib was founded by him. In the way of opposing draconian rule of Aurangzeb, he sacrificed his life.
  10. Guru Gobind Singh (1666 – 1708) – He introduced Khalsa in the year 1699. Given a physical code of conduct to the sikhs.


Comments are closed.