Meaning of the term secular

In addition to this, the essay will address the debate of Indian’s secularity. A brief history of Religion will be addressed, with reference to the work of E. B. Taylor, Emilee Druthers 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 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” (Carline, n. D. ). Hardball’s and Healed, 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 Darning’s Evolutionary Theory – they tried to trace the evolution of society and social institutions. Focusing on the work done by E. B.

Taylor, the theory of Animism was an important contribution to the study of religion. Taylor 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. ” (Hardball’s, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1981) Sacred and Profane are two terms presented by Emilee Druthers 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 disagrees, biz. , sacred and profane, and that religion is based upon this division (Hardball’s, 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 Deuterium’s analysis of religion. Based on his studies on Australian tribes, he developed the term totemic. He regards totemic as the most basic form of religion. A totem is a symbol, usually an animal or a plant, which is sacred to the tribe. For instance, in tribal India, the Gongs have a goat clan whose members look upon the goat as their totem because a goat which had been pilfered by their ancestors for sacrifice turned into a pig when the theft was discovered and thus paved the thieves from punishment.

Like all functionalists, Druthers argued that social life would be impossible without the presence of shared values and beliefs which form the ‘collective conscience’. This implied that without a collective conscience there would be chaos in the society. He thus stated that religion Religion has been defined with reference to the sacred rather than God because this makes social comparison easier. For instance, certain sects of Buddhism do not engage in a belief in God (Scott & Marshall, 1994). A contrasting view is observed in the Marxist theory.

Karl Marx, the founder of the unionism, blatantly stated that religion is a farce- merely a crutch for the people, who look towards it to find inner peace and solace. He took this a step further and said that religion adds to the development of a false consciousness among the worker class, giving them the strength to cope with their exploitation, in hope of gaining a fruitful life after death, as a reward for their suffering. So, the workers view their exploitation as a natural order of life, and do not challenge their masters.

Thus Marx called religion the ‘opium of the masses’, holding it responsible for the exploitation of the workers by the capitalists. Various theories have been presented in order to understand religion better. The theories discussed above are only basics of the sociology of religion. The study of religion dates back to over a century, and there have been innumerable contributions to the field. The analysis of religion is a difficult and complex one, it requires increased knowledge of various social phenomena. In addition to this, I must emphasize on the necessity of subjectivity and neutrality in the study of religion.

A researcher must not be biased against the particular religion or religions he/she is tidying. The researcher should assume a neutral attitude towards the research subject because his personal biases may affect the results and his conclusions. Therefore, it is important to note that sociologists study religion to understand how it affects the functioning of society, and not to prove or disprove any of the doctrines. REVIEW OF LITERATURE Going back in history, to the Vivid period in India, Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion which originated in northern India.

Hinduism was the predominant religion during ancient India, and is responsible for shaping most of the classical and odder culture of India. Through the course of time, India faced a number of invasions from different directions, which consequently brought new and different cultures to India. These cultures consisted of different forms of art and literature, architecture, and especially religion. Every successful invasion of India brought along a wave of immigrants who, over a period of time, were accepted into the Indian society.

This acceptance of different cultures led to extravagant changes in the Indian way of life. India is often regarded as the religiously most diverse nation to exist in the world. Contributing to around 17. 5% of the world’s population(Census, 2011), India is home to a number of religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, to name a few. In fact, some of the major World Religions, like Jansenism and Buddhism, originated in India. The East India Company was instrumental in the rise of Christianity in India.

Initially, the Company’s government did not allow Christian missionaries to operate in the nation, however, this ban was lifted according to the Charter Act of 1813 – the licensed missionaries were allowed to operate. This Act further assisted the spread of Christianity throughout India. Tate, India has seen the growth and development of major religions over the past decades. As discussed earlier, the countless number of invasions introduced new religions into India. Major religions such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity were propagated in this way.

Statistics indicate the Hinduism is the third-largest religious community in the world after Christianity and Islam (PIT, 2012). Narrowing the field down to India, Hinduism is the religion of the majority, and Christianity and Islam constitute the largest minority religions in the nation. According to the Census of India, 2001, of the total population 80. % are Hindus while Muslims comprise 13. 4 % and Christians 2. 3 % respectively. Roughly 828 million are Hindus while Muslims are approximately 138 million out of Indian’s total population of about 1,029 million. Sikhs account for 1. Per cent of the total population. The share of Buddhists, Gains and other religions are 0. 8 %, 0. 4 % and 0. 6 % respectively (Sensualist, 2011). While writing the article Why India is not a secular state’, Omar Khalid’s’, reinforces his argument that India is not a secular state in totality. The Oxford English Dictionary defines secular as something that is ‘ not connected with religious or spiritual matters’. So a secular state would imply a separation or distinction of the state from all religious matters. All affairs of the state would be carried out without any religious interference.

This means that the state or government should not promote any religious groups or organizations. In this context, the constitution makers of India incorporated the word secular in the Constitution, but there have been innumerable arguments on whether ‘secular’ is Just a word on paper, or whether secularism has actually been applied and adopted as a practice in India. Khalid’s’ has highlighted five areas where secularism has failed to come up to its expectations. As per the constitution, “Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Gain or Buddhist religion” (India C. O. , 1949).

The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 applies,- (a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Irishman, a Eliminating or a follower of the Brahms, Parthian or Array Assam; (b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Gain or Sikh by religion, and (c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is onto Muslim, Christian, Paris or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such errors would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed. Act 25 of 1955) This means that officially there is no such thing as a Buddhist, Gain, or Sikh marriage, which is an additional endeavor to refuse other religions an idiosyncratic identity and absorb them into the Hindu category. The Office of the Registrar General that conducts the decennial census enumerates anyone who is not a Christian, Muslim or Paris as Hindu. (Khalid’s, 2009) The freedom of religion is granted under Article 25 (1), of the Constitution.

However, a Since then approximately seven state legislatures have agreed upon laws strictly putting a ceiling on conversions from Hinduism to other religions while aiding conversions to Hinduism. Christianity has been under constant fire for a long time now. These challenges that Christianity is faced with will be discussed in course of this essay. Thus we see certain legislative discriminations based on religion. Another area discussed by Khalid’s is the Employment sector.

He says that Article 16 (2) of the constitution prohibits discrimination in public employment based on religion, but there have been innumerable cases of discrimination. In a classic example where the Hindu culture has been infused in the Indian culture, the ban on beef took away the means of livelihood of a multitude of butchers and also the cheapest source of proteins for the poor. Agreed, the cow is sacred to the upper class Hindus, but this is not true for the Christians, Dalais and other groups. So we see another case of discrimination within the culture with a religious basis.

India witnessed multiple massacres which were supported by the state, biz. , of Sikhs in 1984 and of Muslims in 2002. In both cases, the individuals in the highest position of the Executive branch of he government Justified the riots, namely, Rajah Gandhi after the assassination of his mother, and Neared Mood after the train was attacked in Godard killing 58 people. It is true that the plasticization of religion has been occurring, and innumerable legislations have been affected by this. Various political parties in India have been affiliated with different religions.

Former Maharajah’s Governor and Member of Parliament P C Alexander observed that plasticization of religion, caste and fragmentation of our society were posing a threat to national integration (NUN, 2007). Taking into consideration the fact that political parties have been flaunting their own religions, it is possible to say that these religious promotions by politicians have an adverse effect because they are indirectly encouraging communism. Followers of different parties may turn against each other and this may lead to communal riots.

Khalid’s hard-hitting observations were concluded with a final note- “For all these five reasons, India is not a secular state. It is in fact the defender of Hindu dharma. ” (Khalid’s, 2009) Turning the spotlight on Christianity in India, the first attempt to introduce the elision was seen when SST. Thomas visited India and was brought to the court of Gunpersons. As Stephen Neil has elucidated in A History of Christianity in India, Thomas was initially rejected and he later went on to South India, where he was successful in baptizing the higher class people.

Neil has mentioned that Thomas first visited Monolayer on the Accordance Coast, and came across thirty-two village communities. It is notable that he concentrated on converting the higher castes first because the lower castes were bound to follow whatever the high castes indulged in. When the Portuguese arrived in India, they found that the Thomas tradition had been widely accepted. Francis Xavier arrived at Ago to find it almost a Christian settlement, with seven churches and a set of clergy men. Stephen Neil has provided fitting geographical and statistical evidence to help analyze the arrival of Christianity in India.

The following decades witnessed the colonization of India by the British. The However, conversions were not the only function these missionaries performed. Many reputable and important schools, colleges, hospitals and so on, were established with the help of the missionaries in India. Neil, 1984) The people of India also seemed to be accepting the Christian faith openly because it gave them a chance to escape the complex rituals that their original faith demanded. In totality, Christianity was being accepted, although forced conversions were still taking place.

The post colonial period witnessed great growth of a number of religions, especially Christianity. The decision to name India a secular country encouraged this growth. Christian converts could rest assured that they would be safe in India. So, over the years Christianity kept on growing steadily, and today, it has established itself as one f the largest minority religions in India, although, the question that arises is, has Christianity really been completely assimilated with the Indian society. RESEARCH METHOD Taking on a rather rudimentary form of investigation, I have collected information based on interviews with individuals.

The main questions I asked them were: 1. Their views on acceptance of Christianity in India 2. Their personal understanding of the term ‘Secular’ 3. Whether they think that India is a secular state in practice 4. What according to them are some of the challenges faced by Christianity A total of 45 people were interviewed, individually, and in groups. The questions were posed formally, but responses were more or less informal, and based on the ensuing discussions, I have formulated an average of their opinions and reached certain conclusions.

AAA majority of the sample was not completely aware of the meaning of the term secular. On being given the actual meaning and definition of the term, 57% of the people stated that India does not seem to be a secular country. 36% said that they thought India was indeed a secular state, and the remaining 7% did not have an opinion. Now, based on some preliminary research, I have concluded that Christianity s a religion has undergone a number of phases of maturity and is developing from a fledgling to a fully grown bird. However it is facing a number of challenges which is hindering this development.

A majority of the sample referred to the persecution and arrests of Christians in Arioso and Kashmir as basis for their above view. People have seen this as a manifestation of the insecurity faced by Hinduism. The increasing speed at which people are converting to Christianity is alarming for the devout Hindus, and that is why they are resorting to extreme means such as these. As far as he assimilation of foreign religions into mainstream Indian life goes, Christianity has done pretty well, although, there has always been the case of forced conversions.

However, it is important to note that Christian missionaries have contributed to the development of society in a number of ways. The benefits that these missionaries bestow upon the nation cannot be denied. It is, after all, a part of their way of life to take care of people. Studies have also indicated that missionaries have played a role in combating various cases of substance abuse. Moving to the secularity of India, I house of parliament, Meter Kumar. At a large gathering at the prestigious Cambridge University in England she said, ” there is no room for religious politics in the world’s largest democracy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *