Major World Religions The information provided below is intended to provide a short introduction to the major world religions as defined classically. Each description has been kept very short so that it is easy to read straight through all of them and get a general impression of the diversity of spiritual paths humanity takes to live the kind of life God wants.
Buddhism Hinduism No "value judgement" is implied by this list. There are adjectives with both positive and negative connotations which describe both ends of this spectrum.
From an academic, comparative religions viewpoint, there is no basis for "prescribing" whether it is better for a religion to be highly unified, cohesive, monolithic, and lacking in internal religious diversity, or whether it is better to be fragmented, schismatic, diverse, multifaceted and abounding in variations on the same theme.
In a practical sense, most people actually practice only one form of whatever religion they belong to. Buddhism, for example, if viewed as a whole, can be understood to have a large amount of internal variation, including the Theravada and Mahayana branches, all of their sub-schools, various revivalist sects, as well as Tibetan and modern Western forms.
But most actual Buddhists are not actually involved in all of these; rather they practice one, internally cohesive, fairly unified form, such as the Geluk order of Tibetan Buddhism, or Japanese Amida-Buddha worship.
How is classification done for official government figures? It is important to note that data for the size of various religions within a given country often come from government census figures or official estimates. Such governmental endeavors are interested primarily in physical population demographics, such as how many people live in a household and how many telephones there are per person.
These studies are not theological treatises. They merely classify Hindus as all people who call themselves Hindu, Muslims as all people who call themselves Muslim, Christians as all people who call themselves Christian.
From a sociological and historical perspective, most religions have arisen from within existing religious frameworks: For the purposes of defining a religion we need to have some cutoff point.
Should Sikhism be listed as a Hindu sect as in many older textbooksor a world religion in its own right? To manage this question we have chosen once again to use the most commonly-recognized divisions in comparative religion texts.
These definitions are primarily sociological and historical, NOT doctrinal or theological in nature.
We recognize that within many religious traditions there are deeply felt arguments for excluding certain groups from their description of their religion.
For example, councils of Muslim leaders have voted to no longer accept Ahmadis as valid Muslims, although Ahmadis consider themselves orthodox Muslims. Many Evangelical Protestants churches exclude all non-Evangelical or non-Protestant groups from their definitions of Christianity.
On the other hand, some Hindu writers are so inclusive that they claim as Hindus adherents of any religion that arose in a Hindu environment, including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
These definitions are theological in nature and of little use in this statistical context. Groups such as Rastafarians, Mandeans, Tenrikyo, and the Church of Scientology are too small, too new or too unimportant in world history to be included in most surveys of "major world religions.
Where classification is unclear, we've used two criteria: Does the faith group consider itself to be part of or the definitive version of a larger religion? Does the larger religion consider the faith group to be part of its tradition?
If the answer to both of these questions is no, then the faith group is probably a distinct religion. If the answer to both questions is yes, the faith group is a division within the larger religion and thus not a world religion, but a division of a world religion.
If the answer to only one of the questions is yes, there is a judgment call to be made, but of course we give more weight to a group's self-concept.
For example, Tenrikyo arose in the s in Japan in a Shinto context. The founder explained that her new revelations came from various Shinto kami gods.
Thus, Tenrikyo was classified by the Japanese ministry of religion as a Shinto sect for about one hundred years. Then the leaders of Tenrikyo asked that the faith no longer be classified as a Shinto faith.
Outsiders would agree that Tenrikyo has emerged as something identifiably distinct from traditional Shinto religion, although many world religion writers include Tenrikyo in chapters on Shinto or Japanese religion for simplicity's sake.
These books can only have a limited number of chapters. Based on these facts and because we have no limit on the number of religions we can include on this listwe include Tenrikyo as a distinct religion. Even fairly contemporary and progressive writers have a "youth cut-off" requirement for their listings of major world religions.
Many writers will classify newer movements as NRMs "New Religious Movements"and reserve the label of "world religion" for "long established" religions.
Many of the movements that seem like distinct new religions may die out within a few generations. Many of the most recent movements, such as Seicho-No-Ie, Ananaikyo, Ch'ondogyo and other Asian new religious movements are overtly syncretistic or universalist, similar in some ways to but originating many years later than the Baha'i faith.
Other new religious movements of this century have primarily remained within established world religions, such as new Buddhist Western Buddhist OrderHindu Hare KrishnaMuslim Nation of IslamJewish Reconstructionismand Christian Pentecostalism, neo-Evangelicalism, Calvary Chapel movements and denominations.Hinduism is the oldest major religion.
It has about million adherents; million of those are in India, comprising 79 percent of that country’s population. This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The digit and digit formats both work.
This is a listing of the major religions of the world, ranked by number of adherents. Hinduism & Quantum Physics. Click on underlined words to open paragraph.
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Compiled in by Swami Shivapadananda The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa. Buddhism in Brief Zen in Brief. Confucianism in Brief. Christianity in Brief (Nine Basic Beliefs of Christianity) Hinduism in Brief Nine basic beliefs of Hinduism) Sikkhism in Brief Jainism in Brief.
Islam in Brief. Judaism in Brief. Taoism in Brief.