The Sanatan Dharma ( know as Hinduism in present
times) the oldest religion of the humanity,
is not merely a religion but also a philosophy
and a way of life. It does not originate in
the teachings of any one prophet or holy book.
It respects other religions and does not attempt
to seek converts. It teaches the immortality
of the human soul and three principal paths
to ultimate union of the individual soul with
the all pervasive spirit.
The essence of Hindu faith is embodied in
the Lord's Song, the Bhagavad Gita:"He
who considers this (self) as a slayer or he
who thinks that this (self) is slain, neither
knows the Truth. For it does not slay, nor
is it slain.
This (self) is unborn, eternal, changeless,
ancient, it is never destroyed
even when the body is destroyed."
In the sixth century before Christ,
Mahavira propagated Jainism. His message
was asceticism, austerity and non-violence.
about the same time, Buddhism came into
being. Gautama Buddha, a prince,renounced
the world and gained enlightenment. He preached
that "Nirvana" was to be attained
through the conquest of self. Buddha's teachings
in time spread to China and some other countries
of South-East Asia.
Arab traders brought Islam to South
India in the seventh
century. After them came the Afghans and
the Moghuls, among whom the most enlightened
was the Emperor Akbar. Akbar almost succeeded
in founding a new religion Din-e-Elahi,
based on both Hinduism and Islam, but it
found few adherents.
Islam has flourished in India through the
centuries. Muslim citizens have
occupied some of the highest positions in
the country since independence in 1947.
India today is the second largest Muslim
country in the world, next only to Indonesia.
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism in
the 15th century,
stressed the unity of God and the brotherhood
of man. Sikhism, with its affirmation of
God as the one supreme truth and its ideals
of discipline and spiritual striving, soon
won many followers. It was perhaps possible
only in this hospitable land that two religions
as diverse as Hinduism and Islam could come
together in a third, namely Sikhism.
India not long after Christ's own lifetime,
with the arrival of St. Thomas, the Apostle.
The Syrian Christian Church in Southern
India traces its roots to the visit of St.
Thomas. With the arrival of St. Francis
Xavier in 1542, the Roman Catholic faith
was established in India. Today, Christians
of several denominations practice their
In the days of the old Persian Empire, Zoroastrianism
was the dominant religion in West Asia,
and in the form of Mithraism, it spread
over vast areas of the Roman Empire, as
far as Britain.
After the Islamic conquest of Iran, a few
intrepid Zoroastrians left their
homeland and sought refuge in India. The
first group is said to have reached Diu
in about 766 A.D.
Their total world population probably does
not exceed 130,000. With the
exception of some 10,000 in Iran, almost
all of them live in India, the vast
majority concentrated in Mumbai. The Parsees
excel in industry and commerce,and contribute
richly to the intellectual and artistic
life of the nation.
Jewish contact with the Malabar Coast
in Kerala, dates back to 973 BC when King
Solomon's merchant fleet began trading for
spices and other fabled treasures. Scholars
say that the Jews first settled in Cranganore,soon
after the Babylonian conquest of Judea in
586 BC. The immigrants were well received
and a Hindu king granted to Joseph Rabban,
a Jewish leader, a title and a principality.