Religion: A brief study of India's secularity and the growth of Christianity
This essay emphasizes on the advent, development, and propagation of Christianity in India. The paper will also look at the assimilation of Christianity into mainstream Indian life, and how it established itself as one of the most important minority religions in India. The issues faced by Christianity in India at present will also be analyzed. In addition to this, the essay will address the debate of India's secularity. A brief history of Religion will be addressed, with reference to the work of E.B. Tylor, Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx. Some other questions which will be answered are 'why do sociologists study Religion', 'What role does Religion Play in the society', and 'How does religion work to maintain solidarity among members of a society.'
"Religion has convinced people that there's an invisible man ... living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time" (Carlin, n.d.). Haralambos and Heald, in Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, have explicitly stated that supernatural beliefs exist in all societies, including the primitive societies. Robertson states that religion "refers to the existence of supernatural beings which have a governing effect on life." This definition takes into account the fact that religion is not only a belief in the existence of supernatural elements, but also that these elements exert some degree of control over the lives of the people. The nineteenth century saw a rise in the study of religion as scholars began to question the origin and evolution of the same. Sociologists drew analogies based on Darwin's Evolutionary Theory - they tried to trace the evolution of society and social institutions. Focusing on the work done by E.B. Tylor, the theory of Animism was an important contribution to the study of religion. Tylor believed that animism was the earliest form of religion. It refers to the belief in spirits. According to him, in order to make sense of events such as life after death or the composition of dreams, early philosophers conjured up the idea of the soul. The soul, in simple words, is a spirit which is present in the body and gives it life. Once the idea of spirits was invented, it was applied not just to man, but also animals and man-made objects. Thus "religion, in the form of animism, originated to satisfy man's intellectual nature, to meet his need to make sense of death, dreams and visions." (Haralambos, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1981)
Sacred and Profane are two terms presented by Emile Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and are the most instrumental elucidation of religion from a functional perspective. He stated that all societies divide the world into two categories, viz., sacred and profane, and that religion is based upon this division (Haralambos, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1981). Sacred refers to everything that is considered 'Holy' by the people of the society. All sacred elements are treated with respect and are revered. The sacred element is a symbol- it is representative of something. However, the term sacred does not only apply to supernatural elements such as God or Angels. The term encompasses all elements in the society, tangible or non-tangible, that are considered holy. Thus a tree, rock, stone, etc., may be considered sacred by a certain group of people. Profane covers all the elements of the society which, in simple terms, are not considered holy. This distinction formed the basis for Durkheim's analysis of religion. Based on his studies on...
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