In all parts of the world the rural population compares favourably with the people who inhabit the cities in matters of religion, being more inclined in this direction. This disparity arises from a number of factors of which the most prominent is the pre-occupation with agriculture, which depends very much upon Nature despite stupendous progress that science may have made in any country. This dependence upon Nature gives an added importance to the natural forces in the life of man, who consequently indulges in a variety of religious activities, offerings and prayers designed either to pacify or to please the deified powers which play such an important role in his life. In the village, life is spent in the lap of Nature, in sharp contrast with the life in the cities, where the invention of modern scientific implements has reduced materially the influence of the seasons and Nature upon the lives of the inhabitants. The life of the people in the villages is almost completely exposed to the vagaries of Nature, but at the same time the rustic derives satisfaction from the opportunity of observing, at first hand, Nature at its most beautiful and red in tooth and claw as well. Thus, rural religion originates in the worship of Nature. The same holds true in the context of Indian society also, where the rural population comprises some 80% of the entire population of the country. Besides, 60% of the villagers are farmers. Science has not made much progress in India, the preponderance of Nature being evident in every aspect of life.1 1. RELIGIOUS-MINDEDNESS IN INDIA
Thinkers in all times and at all places have agreed in regarding Indians as religious-minded people, in the words of Sir Harcourt Butier, "The Indians are essentially religious as Europeans are essentially secular. Religion is still the alpha and the omega of Indians' life."2 Besides being religious, Indians are also professed to be of a philosophical propensity. Many people have looked upon Samkara's Mayavada as representative of Indian thought. Most thinkers conceive of Indians as a people who contemplate incapable of religion and philosophy, the after world, heaven, hell and salvation. Morris Opler has written, "The fact that the highest goal of Hindu is to eliminate earthly concerns, desires and personal existence itself, introduces a large element of asceticism, intellectualism, detachment and withdrawal into Hindu philosophy. In no other country have so many men renounced the world, and in no other place is there so much fasting and mortification of the flesh. The world is considered transitory. In reality it is an escape from the world and from the forms which make existence in the world necessary."3 Thus Opler conceived Indian religion as impractical and escapist in the extreme. But, on the other hand, Osear Lewis found Indian religion essentially practical and realistic in the course of his study of Rampur village.4 Distinguishing between Indian classical religion and Indian rural religion, S.C. Dube has written. "Early, Hinduism as it is practised in the village is not the Hinduism of the classical-philosophical a system of India for it possesses neither the metaphysical height nor the abstract content of the latter. It is a religion of fasts and festivals, in which prescribed rituals cover all the major crises of the life… Analysis of Life histories reveals that spiritualism cannot be said to be keynote in the life of the community, far from it the religion appears to be a practical one."5 In substantiating the opinion of Dube, Lewis adduced evidence which was the result of a scientific study of religion carried out in Rampur village. These proofs make it obvious that religion in the village of India has been practical. Although, it would not be very advisable to apply the conclusion derived from the study of one particular village to the rural population of country as a whole, it can nevertheless be confidently asserted that rural religion...
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