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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Major Religions

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The people of Nepal mainly follow following religions. They are Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Religions teach people to respect the elders, to help people in distress, to be kind, disciplined and to be good, and to speak the truth. Religion teaches us that truth brings happiness but evil causes trouble and sorrow.

HINDUISM

Nobody knows how and when Hinduism began but it is an ancient religion. Any one person did not found it. Different sages, rishis and munis during different ages explained what religion was and what they should do. So, sages of ancient times were probably the conveyers of this religion. Some people claim Hinduism to be about five thousand years old.

According to Hinduism there are thousands of gods and goddesses in the universe. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar are the main forms for the god. It is believed that Brahma is creator of the universe. Vishnu is the preserver. Maheshwar is the destroyer. The Hindus establish their gods and goddesses in temples.

The oldest books of Hinduism are the Vedas. The Veda is the sacred scripture of the Hindus. There are four Vedas- Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda. Other sacred books of Hinduism are the Geeta, the Ramayana and the Mahabharat.

Hinduism does not have a single founder or prophet. There is no exact record of the origin of Hindu religion. It is believed that Hinduism originated from the knowledge and preaching of sages and ascetics for ages. It is considered to be the oldest religion of the world. Hindu religion is also called ‘Sanatan Religion’ or ‘Vedic Religion’. The Vedas are the oldest Hindu scriptures. Besides, The Upanishad, The Bhagwadgita, The Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata are other sacred books of Hindus.

According to Hinduism, patience, forgiveness, self-control, not to commit theft, purity, control over senses, wisdom, knowledge, truthfulness and anger are the ten salient features of the religion.


BUDDHISM

Gautama Buddha was the founder of Buddhism. He was born at Kapilvastu in 563 B.C. Kapilvastu is in Rupandehi, Lumbini zone. Gautama Buddha was the son of king Suddodhen and Queen Mayadevi. His real name is Siddhartha. Siddhartha thought of human beings and the causes of their sufferings. So, he left his palace and wandered many places in search of the cause of trouble. He practiced meditation under a banyan tree at Gaya. After that, he suddenly attained enlightenment. After enlightenment he came to know the cause of sorrow and found out ways of getting rid of it. As a result, people began to call him Buddha.

Buddha began to teach his disciples the causes of sorrow and pain in human life. He also thought out the ways for happiness. This message spread all around the world and finally became a religion. The Buddhists worship Siddhartha as Gautam Buddha. Buddhists place the image of Lord Buddha in the Chaitya or in Stupa. The place where the Buddhists meditate is called Gumba and Vihar. The sacred books of Buddhists are the Jatakas and the Tripitak. Tripitak is the most important book.

Many Nepali people worship Buddha. So they became Buddhists. Buddhism spread mainly in Nepal, India, China, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Buddhism has become one of the major religions of the world. Four Noble Truths that
  1. there is misery
  2. there is cause of misery
  3. there is cessation of misery and
  4. there is a path leading to the cessation of misery.

He found a way to remove the pain and suffering from life by following the “Eight Fold Paths”. They are as follows:
  1. Right view
  2. Right determination
  3. Right speech
  4. Right conduct
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right meditation

CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is one of the major religions of the world. Its followers are found in almost all the countries. They go for prayers to the church. Jesus was the founder of the Christian religion. He was born at Bethlehem near Jerusalem. His Mother’s name was Mary. When he was 30, he preaching his message. He spoke to people in simple language and in the form of stories. The common people could understand him easily. Jesus had a charming personality. He led a simple life. He had great love for his fellow beings. He was kind to all. He would remove the sorrows of all who came to him. These qualities made him very popular and he came to be known as a great healer.

Jesus was fearless and bold. He criticized those who were hypocrites. He thus made many enemies, especially among the religious leaders. His enemies complained against him to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. They said that he was inciting the Jews against the Roman rulers. They also said that he was telling the Jews that he was their king. Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death on a cross. That is why, the cross became a sacred symbol for the Christians.

The birth of Christ is celebrated every year as Christmas. It falls on 25th December. It is believed that Jesus rose from among the dead on the third day after his death. This event is known as resurrection and is celebrated as Easter. In the same way, the day on which Jesus was crucified is observed as Good Friday. Christ called of God his father and himself His son. He preached that the authority of God was supreme on earth. We should create the Kingdom of God on earth by truly loving him. He asked his followers to lead simple life. He was against violence in any form. He said there was sin in man and he had come to make him free from sin. He laid great stress on the service to mankind. According to him service to man was service to God.

The Bible is the Holy book of Christians. It has two parts. The Old Testament is the history of the beliefs of the Jews. The New Testament contains the life story and the teachings of Jesus. There are two sects among the Christians. The Catholics follow the original form of the religion. The Protestants follow the reformed form of it.

Jesus Christ, service to human kind is service to God. The holy book of Christianity is the “Holy Bible”
Message of Christianity to all mankind are as follows:
  • Be merciful and do not harm others.
  • Be generous to all and do not be selfish.
  • Love all as we love ourselves.
  • All the good deeds are rewarded and the evil ones will be punished.

ISLAM

The Islamic religion began about 1400 years ago. The founder of this religion was Prophet Mohammad. He was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 570 A.D. Prophet Mohammad taught people that the noblest duty of human beings is to love one another. Muslims go to Masjid bow their heads and kneel down on the floor. Then they offer prayer in the mosque. The Koran is the sacred and holy book of Islam. It contains what Prophet Mohammad taught people.

There are some Muslims in Nepal. Islam is followed in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Iraq and Brunei. People of some other countries also follow Islam.

The important duties to perform as a follower of Islam are:
  • Read the holy book “The Quran”.
  • Perform ‘Namaz’, pray five times a day.
  • Observe ‘Roza’, observe fasting during the month of Ramzan.
  • Give alms to the poor and disabled.
  • Make ‘Haj’ or pilgrimage to Mecca.

The teachings of Prophet Muhammad are:
  • There is only one God.
  • Do not worship idols, pray to the real God.
  • Live an honest life.
  • Give equal justice to all.
  • Treat all the people on this earth as brothers.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

People believe in different religions. It is a matter of faith. One can follow any religion. Every religion teaches its followers to live a moral life.

We have religious tolerance. We do not have any ill feeling for any religion. People of differing religions respect each other. They live in peace without any interference. Hindus worship Buddha and they go to the Gumba, Vihar and Stupa. Buddhists also respect Hindu gods and goddesses. The Hindus wish the Christians on the occasion of Christmas and they wish the Muslims during ID. This is the way to respect people of different religions. It is called religious tolerance.




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