• Anand Mahadevan, the editor of ‘Outlook Business’ was a Tamil Brahmin. He is a
    Christian now. He explains how he happened to be a Christian. While he was studying in a
    college, one of his Christian friends invited him to his house. He accepted the invitation and he
    got a chance to pray with him. The power and fascination of God experience, which he
    received that day, persuaded him to embrace Christianity. He says: “I am proud that I am an
    Indian by nationality. I am at total ease with the fact that by culture I am a Hindu…. I can say
    definitely and truthfully that no one threatened or tempted offering money or cheated me to
    change my religion into Christianity” (Sathyadeepam Oct. 29, 2008).

    Man Who Seeks Truth


    Man who seeks the meaning of the universe has always been a seeker of truth. This
    search leads one to the thought of God. In other words, seeker of truth is always a seeker of
    God. Religion has its origin in the search for God. In the beginning religion did not have such
    systematic, complex, strict forms and rules as we have today. The primary forms of the search
    for God are worship of the powers of cosmos, oblation of manes, black magic or witchcraft,
    worship of deity, thought of absolute etc... There are communities, which started in the belief of
    many gods and finally developed into the belief in one God.

    Origin of Religious Belief


    There are many opinions or arguments regarding the origin of religions. In the opinion
    of the exponents of the theory of Evolution, man began to believe in God along with the growth
    of his awareness of the various phenomena of the universe, the creatures and himself. In the
    view of certain psychologists, belief in God originates from the false consciousness. They
    think if people do not adore God who controls everything, there will be destruction and failure.
    In the opinion of social scientists religion has its beginning more from mutual human
    relationships than in individual needs.
    In the opinion of spiritual science, the origin of religion is from the search for God, the
    creator of the universe, the invisible power who protects and guides the universe. The source
    of spirituality in one’s own soul, led to the origin of religion. To be brief, man’s search for truth
    led to the concept of God and finally to religion.
    We know that the views about religion are different. Thought about religion deeply
    influences man and his history. Today, there are people who believe in different religions.

    World Religions


    The term ‘religion’ means ‘opinion’. There are certain questions which confuses a
    man seeking truth. One’s religious belief is one’s opinion about certain fundamental questions
    like the meaning of life, good and evil, origin of sorrow, goal of life, death, judgment, life after
    death etc. The term religion means relation and to relate. People must have been persuaded
    to depict religion as the relation between God and man.


    1. Shintoism

    This is a religion, which originated in Japan in 8th century B C The term ‘Shinto’ was
    from two Chinese words ‘shin’ which means ‘God’ or ‘Spirit’, and ‘Thavo’ meaning ‘way’ or
    ‘means’. In this universe there is the presence of gods and souls. They call these powers ‘kami’
    (super person). They consider anything extraordinary and terrifying as ‘Kami’ and adore it.
    Shintoism is a religion, which considers anything above the ordinary man as god, instead by
    looking at god as a person or power. Hence, Shintoism does not consider anything as a
    superpower, that goes beyond all these powers. Still Amartharaso, the Sun God, who rules the
    heaven, is the supreme God. The holy books of this religion are Kojiki and Nihongi.

    2. Confucianism


    Confucianism is a religion started by Confucius (B C 551-479) who lived in China.
    Vou-ching and Su-shoo are the two holy books of this religion. It believes in many gods.
    They believe that one can reach heaven if our lives are based on five fundamental virtues. They are
    compassion, a sense of shame about the wrong deeds, proper system or style of behavior,
    wisdom to discern good and evil and fidelity.

    3. Taoism

    The founder of this religion is Lao Tzu- a Chinese contemporary of Confucius. He lived
    in 6th century B C Their religious book is ‘Thabo-The-Ching’ written by him. God is the prime
    essence indescribable, the meaning and the end of everything. Human intelligence alone
    cannot seek and find him. Instead God should reveal Himself. In this revelation, God, universe
    and man are not different. Instead, the three are one.The understanding of these knowledge is
    heaven. In ordinary Taoism, belief in many gods is also practiced.


    4. Parsi


    The founder of this religion is Zoroaster who lived in Persia in the 6th century B C Its
    holy book is the revelation which Zoroaster received from God. Parsee religion believes in one
    God. God created the universe. God is present everywhere and in everything in the universe.
    Man is a mixture or integration of soul, body and spirit. He receives heaven or hell depending
    on his deeds in this world.

    5. Jainism

    Jainism was founded by 24 Theerthankaras. The first Theerthankarar Rishabhan and
    the last Theerthankarar Varthamanamahaveeran are given more importance.
    Vathamanamahaveeran is a contemporary of Budha. Its holy kook is ‘Jainasookthangal’.
    Jainism does not have the thought of the existence of God seen in all other religions. Jains
    believe that man cannot see or understand God. Moreover, if we do that, the idea about God
    will become incomplete/ imperfect. They believe that we can reach God, liberating ourselves
    from the activities of this world and its connections through Nonviolence and Meditation. To
    attain heaven one should have 1. Right belief 2. Right knowledge and 3.Right action.


    6. Buddhism


    Buddha, an Indian who lived in the 6th century B C, founded this religion. The holy
    book of this religion is ‘Dharmapadam’. The cause of all sorrow is desire. If we give up desires,
    sorrows will disappear. Buddhism insists eight fold path for this: 1.Right Knowledge, 2. Right View,
    3. Right Word, 4. Right Action, 5. Right Living, 6. Right Deed, 7. Right Thought and 8.
    Right Samadhi. This religion gives much importance to Nonviolence.


    7. Sikhism

    Guru Nanak – a Panjabi, who lived in the 15th century A D, founded this religion. It
    originated as a result of combining many elements from Hinduism and Islam and interpreting
    it. It believes in one God. God is truth. Bhakthimarga is the means for God realization. Sikhism
    accepts and teaches the concept of birth and rebirth as in Hinduism. Mukthi is the liberation
    from this world, becoming one with God-the infinite light.

    8. Jewish Religion


    We cannot say who the founder of this religion is. Jews accepts Abraham as the father
    of their faith. They consider Moses, who liberated them from Egyptian slavery, led them to
    Canaan and gave them the ‘Thora’ (law book) as their great leader. Their holy book is The
    Bible (Old Testament). The foundation of Jewish religion is belief in one God alone. God
    created the universe and all creatures out of nothingness. He created man in his own image
    and likeness as the crown of creation. Man sinned and God was angry and expelled man from
    Paradise. God promised a Saviour to save mankind. The Jews are awaiting that saviour even

    9. Islam


    Islam is a religion formed based on Quran. The Muslims believe that the Quran is directly

    dictated by their God Allah through the Angel Jabril to the Prophet Muhammed who lived in

    Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, in the 6th century. Their faith, tradition, custom, theology, etc that Islam

    holds are not similar to those of the Judeo-Christian religions. The concept of Allah in Quran is

    quietly different from that of the one true God seen in the Bible.


    10. Hinduism


    It is not easy to define Hinduism. The various practices which the majority of Indians
    follow are known as Hinduism. They are also known as Eternal Justice and priestly devotion. It
    has no particular founder. Hinduism is not based on any single holy book. It is a life style
    combining philosophy, theology, practices of worship and moral science. It is the sum total of
    Sadhanas leading man to heaven. The holy book of Hinduism is a combination of books. It
    contains Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmanyas, Bhagawat Geetha, Ramayana and
    Mahabharata.From the view point of Hinduism, God can be viewed from the theory of many gods,
    (dwaitam), and single God (Adwaitam), ‘Bahudevatavadam’ is the way of worshipping all
    powers beyond human understanding as god. In ‘Ekadevatavadam’ they follow the method of
    worshipping one God alone.’Advaita’ teaches that the spirit of god and man’s spirit is one and
    the same.
    Man is bound by worldly action (karma), selfish desires and ignorance. Heaven is
    liberation from all these. Death does not put an end to everything. With death, he leaves the
    body, takes new life and enjoys in heaven. Man gets proper reward in future for his good and
    bad deeds. This reward is not eternal. One attains ‘mukti’ when he completes the reward of the
    experiences of his previous life or when he comes to perfect wisdom. Until then, he is subject
    to rebirth. Mukthi is liberation from life and death circles, which lasts infinitely. There are three
    ways to attain mukthi. They are wisdom, action and Bhakti. Those who attain Mukti become
    one with God. That is in a state of eternal bliss.



    Christianity is the religion of the community who believes in Jesus and lives according
    to His teachings. Christianity originated in the background of Jewish religion. The foundation
    of this religion is the revealed truths which Jesus the only son of God revealed. God prepared a
    nation or a set of people as a part of God’s plan that all should be saved in the name of Jesus Christ who
    took the form of man. The Old Testament of the Bible, which describes very
    carefully how God prepared the Israelites, is part of the Bible, the Holy Book of Christians.
    Christ who took up the form of man in the fullness of time, proclaimed God the Father and His
    plans through His life and teachings. The essence or core of this is the New Testament of the
    Bible. Jesus taught to love one’s enemies and to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.
    Jesus is different from other religious founders in the sense that he is the Son of God and he
    suffered, died and resurrected for the salvation of all (1 Tim 3:16).
    Jesus chose His disciples to continue His mission. He handed over His mission of
    evangelization to them and ascended into heaven. Acts of the Apostles that describes the
    story of the Christian community formed in the name of Christ and the Epistles of the apostles
    teachings, the communities of church in various places are part of the Bible. Christian
    teachings containing new lessons of God’s love and love among man attracted many towards
    it. A Christian is the one who accepts and proclaims Christ as the only saviour (Acts 4:12).

    Approach to Other Religions


    In the light of the declaration of the IInd Vatican Council with the title ‘Non-Christian
    Religions’ the approach, which a Christian should have towards people belonging to non
    Christian religions is made clear. “Catholic church does not deny or reject anything that is
    truthful and holy in other world religions” (Nostra Aetate 2). Catholic Church does not reject
    anything that is truthful and holy in other religions. The behavioral patterns and activities, the
    life style, rules and doctrines of other religions are, in many ways, different from what Catholic
    Church believes and teaches. Still Catholic Church looks at them with sincere respect (Nostra
    Aetate 2)
    Church believes that sparks of truth which enlighten all are in them since certain
    elements of truth and the presence of God are present in all religions. These religions remain
    as a sign of salvation for those who believe in them. Church recognizes that certain assertive
    and meditative traditions are there in other religions (Mission. 18). God has not set aside
    anyone from his salvific plan. His salvific love embraces all.

    II. Let us Discuss


    1. Can we agree to the idea that “Whatever be the religion, it is enough that man should be
    2. How do you look at this thought that it is not conversion of religion but conversion of mind
    that is desirable or important?


    III. Activity

    I will never go astray from Catholic Church.

    IV. Let us Enlighten our Hearts

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes
    in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

    Find out Answers

    Let us Enlighten our Hearts