A Summary of Oriental Religions


ORIENTAL RELIGIONS

Oriental religions are the religions from the East. The Eastern religions are the religions originating in East, South and Southeast Asia and thus having dissimilarities with Western religions. The oldest oriental religion is Hinduism, it came about as result of ancient culture and religion. The following religions are considered as oriental religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism, Taoism, Shintoism, Sikhism and Brahmanism.

1. Hinduism:

Is a religion mostly practiced by the Indians. The word Hindus was derived from the name of river called “INDUS”. Hindus is not one religion and has no founder, but rather family of religions. It comprises a multiplicity of cults and sets more less closely affiliated with a high condition. Hindus as religion on culture and way of life (Dharma) developed initially from two cultural civilizations. The Aryan culture (fair skinned Indian) and Dravidian (dark-skinned Indian).the Dravidian believed that the world is nothing but emptiness and vanity, that only thing that matter is the individual soul. They also believe in extreme asceticism, which is people who denied themselves pleasure of life for the sake of religion. While the Aryan believed in Image worship (Yajna) and sacred language. In Hindus Society, it is a religious custom first thing in the morning to bath in a nearby river or at home if no river or stream is at hand. They believe that this bath make them holy then without eating, they go to the local temple and make offerings of flowers and food to the local god. Hindus as at 1990, has 700,000,000 followers worldwide.

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2. Buddhism:

Is a religion that broke out from Hinduism. It was founded by a man called Siddhartha Gautama. The word Buddha means “Enlightenment”. Many Indians welcomed this teaching because it condemned the greedy and corrupt religious practices promoted by the Hindus. Buddha taught his disciples the four holy truths that is:

i. All existence is characterized by suffering.

ii. Suffering arises from desire.

iii. Cessation of desire means the end of suffering.

iv. Cessation of desire is achieved by path of morality.

Buddhism claim a worldwide membership of 300, 000,000.

3. SHAMANISM:

Is a religion which is based on the belief that the world is controlled by good and evil spirits, and that these spirits can be directed by people with special powers. People that practice shamanism beat drums. As they beat drums, they will be rolling on the ground and sometime forget themselves. Their worshippers are called “dancing devilish”.

4. TAOISM:

Is a religion that is mostly practised by the Chinese. Taoism was found by Lao-tzu, who is said to have lived in the 6th century.B.C.E. Lao Tzu means “Old Master” or” Old One”. This according to legend is that his pregnant mother carried him for so long that when he was born, his hair had turned white. The word Tao means “way, road or path”. The Chinese believed that there is a natural and correct way to do everything. They also believed that if everybody should do the right thing, there would be peace and prosperity for the nation.

5. SHINTOISM:

Is a religion of Japanese, Shinto does not have a founder or recognized holy book. It is believed that Shinto emerged as a religion with the advent of wetland cultivation of rice. As Shinto rituals concentrated around Shrine, each clan enshrined its own guardian deity. With time, imperial family unified the nation in the 7th C.E, they elevated the national deity and central figure of the Shinto gods. Shinto claims a membership of 91,000,000 in Japan.

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6. SIKHISM:

Or Punjabi as Sikhs is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian sub-continent, by Guru Nanak and continued to progress through the ten successive Sikh Gurus. It is the fifth – largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million adherents. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students of disciples). According to Sewa Singh Kalsi, “The central teaching in Sikhism is the belief in the oneness of God”. Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined. The founder inspired people to earn an honest living without exploitation and also the need for remembrance of the divine name (God).

7. BRAHMANISM:

The religion of ancient India that evolved of Vedism. It takes its name both from the predominant position of its priestly class, the Brahmans, and from the increasing speculation about, and importance is given to, Brahman, the supreme power. Brahmanism is distinguished from the classical Hinduism that succeeded it by the enhanced significance given in classical Hindus to individual deities, such as Siva and Vishnu and to devotionals worship (bhakti).

CONCLUSION:

In all the oriental religions, the common feature or similarity are asceticism (self-denial), sacrifices and worship. More so, all the oriental religious is from the East (Asia) with Indians having the highest number of those religions.

REFERENCES:

  • Collins Cobuids Advance Dictionary of English.
  • Hopkins, Thomas J, (1971). The Hindu Religious Tradition. Belmont: Dickenson Publication
  • Noss, J.B (1980). Man’s Religious.
  • Singh, Khushinant (2006). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs. India: Oxford University Press.P.15. ISBN978-0-19-567747-8
  • PARINDER, E.G (1983) .World Religion from Ancient to the present. N.Y, facts on file.
  • Watch Tower Bible Tract Society (1990). Mankind’s search for God. U.S.A Watch Tower Bible Tract Society Inc.

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