In human society, religion is considered a universal institution. In all society, whether it is past or present it is found everywhere. All preliterate societies have religions and it goes back to the start of the culture itself. It is considered an ancient institution and without religion, there is no primitive society. Like every other social institution religion also arises from the intellectual power of man in response to certain needs of man. Religion is considered universal by most people and therefore it is regarded as an institution of societies. Religion is the foundation where the normative structure of society stands. Religion lies beyond control and knowledge and it is that social institution that deals with sacred things. There are many other institutions that are influenced by religion. Religion influences both the political as well as economic aspects of life. Practices of human beings and shared beliefs are the main forms of religion. Religion is the way of responding to the elements of life which are out of ordinary comprehension. Faith is the centre of all religions and religion is an organization of faith. Faith always binds people to their temporal foundation. A man having faith is much different from other human beings and as it binds people together so it is very important. Religion is hence a very private and subjective matter.
For centuries, religion has been a topic of debate. On the one side, it has been argued that religion is important to the education system whereas on the other side believes that it should be left out. In most schools, religion has been taught as an elective and in some other cases, it cannot be studied at all. In schools, the benefits and disadvantages of religion are a topic of debate. Religion is a very touchy topic as contains strong emotions. For most people religion is an important part of their lives and they also believe that it should be an important part of the education of children.
While analysing the great religions of the world we found that every religion includes some basic elements. They are discussed below:
There is a belief in supernatural powers and it is the first and the foremost element of religion. It is believed that all these supernatural powers influence the life of humans and all the natural phenomena are also controlled. Some people consider that the supernatural is forced by God and other consider them Gods while some does not consider anything as they consider it to be forced from the universe. Hence, belief is not sensed and belongs to the super empirical world.
Religion contains some sacred or holy elements in which the heart of religion is constituted. There are some things that are considered to be sacred or holy but it is not holy due to their peculiar quality of the thing. A thing is made holy due to attitude and there are symbols for sacred things. Sacred things symbolize the things that are not seen but it depicts tangible realities. A cow is worshipped by the Hindus because of its super empirical characteristic possessed by that animal not because of the kind of animal the cow is.
The active side of religion is the religious ritual performed by the people of society. Ritual denotes any kind of behaviour, prayers, recitation, or hymns that are performed with other people and also in public. It is considered to be sin if the activities such as singing, dancing, weeping, starving are not performed.
Certain acts are sinful and unholy in each religion. There are some principles that contains some supernatural origin. Hence, when this principles are violated a guilt is created in the mind of men. The behaviour or act is considered to be sinful when the behaviour is not accordance with the code of religions.
The fifth basic element of religion is the method of salvation. There are some methods which are needed by man for regaining harmony with the Gods by removing guilt. Salvation denotes the end of life in Hindu religion which helps in realising the inner spirituality in man. Moksha is the ultimate end of life.
Hence, religion is a set of beliefs that man holds about supernatural forces. It is the coherent system of beliefs and practices that concerns a supernatural order of places or other entities. With all the aspects of human life, religions are interwoven. The chief supporter of spiritual and moral values of life is considered to be religion. The economic, political, and domestic life has been shaped. Hence is very obvious that many functions are performed by religions both the group religious and the wider society. Religion helps in the struggle for societal survival. In the struggle for societal survival, religion is of great help. Religion plays the most important role in the formation as well as in the development of primary civilizations such as Indian, Chinese, Middle American, Andean, Cretan, and Mesopotamian. With the help of religion, every member of the society has gained the courage that is needed for surviving the unfavourable environment as an explanation of certain aspects of the human condition is given which is not possible to be explained in a rational manner. Society’s religion performs this role in the present.
Therefore, religion is a set of beliefs that are held passionately by a group of people which is reflected in a worldview which is known as religion. Hence, without religion, there is no existence of any primitive society. Religion is denoted by two words firstly together observe and secondly to bind. Religion exists in an underdeveloped and non-illiterate society. Thus, the basic institution of any society is known as religion.
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