Meaning of Religion

Society is not guided by only one religion. There are different religions in world society. Society has the religious diversity. Every religion has its own norms and values, ideology and beliefs. Every religion has its own different sects also. Some major religions of society are as follows:

Hindu religion

It is one of the oldest religion in the world. There is no single founder of Hinduism as found in other religion. It came through the research and experience of many learned men (Rishi/Muni). Some historian trace out the origin of Hindu religion to 3rd millennium B.C. when some nomadic tribes came to India and settled at the bank of Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra rives. These tribes were called Aryans (noble one). Hinduism is believed to have stated with Sruti (which is heard). The Rishis who had perfected themselves through meditation are said to have heard in their hearts Eternal truths and these truths were transmitted to their disciple and followers orally. Hinduism believes in heaven, hell, salvation, as well as pure and impure.

Polytheism, idol worshiping, Varna system, ashram system, belief in reincarnation, liberal religion etc are the basic features of Hinduism. Hinduism has more than 935 million followers in the world (13.7%) In Nepal its total number of followers are 81.3 %. The Main concentration area of this religion are India, Nepal and Indian and Nepali communities overseas. It has no specific founder. It was established around 1 500 B.C. Hinduism is divided into Shaivism, Vaishnism and Shaktism. Hinduism is originally called Sanatan Dharma which means righteousness forever. The term Hindu originated from the root word Indus. The Vedic Literature was handed down through the verbal transmission and declared to be divine relation. The four Vedas are :

  • The Rig Veda
  • The Sam Veda
  • The Yajur Veda and
  • Atharva Veda. 

Features of Hinduism

  • Polytheism: - Hinduism believes in Polytheism. From the origin, the Hindus were polytheist and worshipped many deities. The Rig Vedic literature divides Gods and Goddess into three groups on the basis of their nativeness of Heaven, sky and Earth. So it is a polytheist religion.
  • The Concept of Trinity: During the post Vedic period the concept of 33 kotis God and Goddess developed within Hinduism but three Gods are recognized as pioneer Gods. They are Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. These three Gods are considered as the super Gods or Gods of Gods.
  • Idol Worshipping: - Idol worshipping is another important feature of Hinduism. Hindu shrines and temple are usually full of images and statue of different gods and Goddess. Idol worshipping was started in Hinduism since ancient time and still it is in the practice. This feature is that type of character that it distinguish Hinduism from other religion such as Islam.
  • Believe in unseen force: - Hinduism has its origin in the worshiping of supernatural power. Followers of Hinduism have belief that all the disasters, natural phenomena, and misfortune occurs due to the some supernatural power and developed some ‘Karma-Kanda’ and most of them guided by superstations and these are not only unscientific but also have no applicability.
  • Liberal religion: - Hinduism is one of the most liberal and flexible religion in the world. Followers of Hinduism does not need any orthodox principles. Hinduism has been able to include all the Gods and Goddess.
  • Transmigration of Soul: - According to Hindu religion, the soul after the death of individual passes into another body and again into another till it can be freed from the worldly pleasure and love.

The Key concepts of Hinduism:

A. Ashram System: - The ultimate aim of every individuals is to get salvation in Hindu religion. People should perform certain virtues and good deeds in order to get salvation. In ancient time the Rishi (Learned Men) provided the guidelines for the different phases of life in the form of four ashram which are as follows:

  1. Brahmachrya Ashram: - According to Hinduism this is the first formative stage in the life of an individual. It is the period of study and an individual has to Gurukul for study. It is the period of first 25 years of an individual and s/he becomes acharya (Bachelor). They learn Vedic text, Puranas, Ashtra and shastra, medicine, agriculture, Dhanur Vidhya, and war skill etc. An individual should do following duties in this period:
  • Individual should sleep on earth
  • S/he should beg both for Guru and himself.
  • S/he should not eat meat, onion, and other sweet dishes
  • S/he should not rub oil on his/her body
  • Should not wear shoes
  • Should not express anger and quarrel
  • Should not speak lie etc.
  • Should remain under the supervision of Guru
  1. The Grihastha Ashram (25 to 50 years): - This period is determined for the fulfillment of Artha, Kama and Dharma. Some important duty assigned to Grihastha Ashram are:
  • Individual should into marital life through the marriage
  • Individual should receive gests with courtesy
  • Individual should worship pitris, God and Goddess
  • Individual should earn artha for the maintenance of the family, as well as to feed family members, guests, and the saints.
  • An individual has to perform Pitri Yagya, The Rishi Yagya, the Deva yagya etc to express gratitude and solidarity with Gods and Goddess
  1. Vanaprastha Ashram: - This stage is the period of 50 to 70 years. This period is for resting of the body and mind. So that one can think or remember parambrahma. In this period individuals have to live in Jungles with regular philosophical discussion. They have to perform Yoga to keep fit and mentally alert. They should wear Mirgachamar instead of clothes. They do not have spicy and fatty dishes.
  2. Sanyas Ashram: - this ashram for only Brahmins. It is the period of 75 to 100. Sanyasi have to perform ten duties which are Begging, truth speaking, keep the soul sacred, do not quarreling, pardoning anybody, should not express the anger, etc.

B. The four Purusartha: -

  1. Dharma: - According to Hindu belief, the Dharma refers to religious activity as well as righteousness and duty. It refers to the fulfillment of several duties to the nation (Known as Raj/Rastra dharma), to the teacher (Guru Dharma), Rishi Dharma, Pitri Dharma etc. It is argued that dharma should be preserved in any costs.
  2. Artha (Economy): - Artha is necessary to maintain the family, members of family, to perform religious activities, and to solve the other problems of Life. It is said that the one who has not wealth (artha) cannot fulfill tha all Dharam.
  3. Kama: - Kama has very wide meaning and perspective. In a Narrow sense it means to fulfill the sexual desires. In a broad sense Kama is considered to the fulfillment of human desire so that individual can perform all the duties towards Gods, Rishis, Guru and nation. It is also related to keep controls over sexual desires in Brahmacharya , Vanaprastha and sanyas ashram.
  4. Mokshya: - According to Hindu philosophy Mokshya (salvation) is very important purusartha. In Hindu society, salvation is the final goal of every individuals. The word mokshya is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Mook’ which means control over soul. In fact, Mokshya is a condition where an individual is above the worldly love and affection.

C. The three paths to divinity: -Mokshya is a core of Hinduism. It is the feeling of attachment to the almighty Gods and Goddess. According to Hinduism, there are three way to achieve the divinity. They are Gyan Marga(Knowledge Path), Bhakti Marga(worship of the Gods), And Karma Marga (work Path)

D. The four Varnas: - According to Rig Veda the Varna is created by the God Brahma. Individuals are diveded on the basis of their work. The main occupation of Brahmin is teaching, security is the job of Kshyatriya, economic activities of Vaishya, and serv to others above group is the job of Sudras. The literal meaning of Varna is colour. Yudhisthira is of view that if a person speaks truth, gives charity, has capacity to pardon, and is of satcharitra, he is called Brahmin. He further says that if all these qualities are found in a sudra, he is also called Brahmin.

E. The concept of Avatar: - It is another key concept of Hindu thought. Most of the Avatars (Incarnation) come to be associated with the lord Vishnu. The ten incarnation of Vishnu are known as Dasa Avataars. They are Matsya, Kurma, Varah (Boar), Narashima, Vamana(Dwarf), Parshuram, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki.

Sects of Hinduism

Vaishnavism: - The followers of Lord Vishnu are called Vaishnava and their sect of religion is called Vaishnavism. Lord Vishnu is considered as the supreme God and source of all considered by this sect. Goddess Laxmi, wife of lord Vishnu is worshipped as the Goddess of Wealth. According to Vavishya Purana lord Vishnu had ten incarnation wehich are known as Dasa Avataars. They are Matsya, Kurma, Varah (Boar), Narashima, Vamana (Dwarf), Parshuram, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. Followers of Vaishnavism believes that Lord Vishnu takes such incarnation to wipe the sinful acts from this Earth and worship all incarnations. Usually the followers of Lord Vishnu are vegetarian and they reject the concept of sacrificing the animals. Taking bath daily in the morning, worshipping Lord Vishnu daily, putting the holy thread etc. are the basic rules for them. Vaishnava can be identified by certain marks on their forehead and body. Vaishnava marks are vary but they usually use the symbols straight drawn U, Y etc. drawn with white along with a red representing Laxmi.

Shivism: - The practice of worshipping Lord Shiva as the major deity along with other members of Shiva’s family like Goddess Parvati, Ganesh etc is called shaivism. The most common form to represent lord Shiva is Shiva linga. Lord Shiva is believed to be settled on the summit of Kailash in a leather of tiger. He is always in deep meditation. In the middle of his forehead is his third eye which indicates superior wisdom.

Shaktism: - Shaktism is another important sect of Hinduism. By the post Vedic period, Hindu started to believe that Goddess are the source of all power and they are more powerful than the Gods. It is believed that it is better to worship the goddess. With this aspect the tradition of Shaktism developed. It is believed that all the natural power remains under the direct control of eight goddess commonly known as Astamatrika.


Buddhism is one of the major religion in Nepal. The founder of this religion is Siddhartha Gautam who was born about 563 BC. In the Lumbini of Nepal. The Buddhism is practiced in the Indian sub-continent and many other countries of the World including China, Sri-lanka, Korea, and others. Buddhism has 463 (6.7%) followers Triptaka is the holy book of Buddhism and in Nepal total followers of this religion is 9 percent. Buddhism, developed in the sixth century B.C. as a reaction against Hinduism. This faith is founded on the teachings of Siddhartha (later called Buddha, or “the enlightened one”). Through meditation, followers of Buddhism strive to overcome selfish cravings for physical or material pleasures, with the goal of reaching a state of enlightenment, or nirvana.

Buddhists created the first monastic orders, which are thought to be the models for monastic orders in other religions. Though Buddhism emerged in Indian sub-continent, its followers were eventually driven out of that country by the Hindus. It is now found primarily in other parts of Asia. Early Buddhism was a system of ethics concerned with personal salvation. It is a path practice and spiritual development leading to the insights into the nature of life. The Buddha is considered as mortal and human. Followers Buddhism practices meditation as a means of changing oneself In order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness and wisdom. Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping of creator God. Some people do not take it as religion rather they take it as moral philosophy.

According to this religion nothing is fixed of permanent action that change is possible. It teaches the practical method which enables people to realize and utilize its teaching in order to transform their experience to be fully responsible for their lives to develop the qualities. When Buddha was 29years old, he left the comforts of Royal palace to seek the meaning of suffering. After the six years of Yogic training he sat in a mindfullness meditation beneath a Boddhi tree. On the full moon of Baishakh, Siddhartah Gautam became the Buddha, the enlightened one. The Buddha wandered the plains of Nort eastern India for 45 years, teaching the knowledge, he has realized in the meditation. He died at the age 80.

The four Aryan (Noble) truth of Buddhism

a. Dukha (suffering): - There is suffering but it is invisible. Only noble man with good characters feel the sufferings. According to Buddha, all sufferings are unrealistic and temporary. Our expectations are unlimited. So the life in the world is of full sufferings.

b. There are causes of Pain: - Buddha says that his main cause of pain is human desires. Humans are compelled to do wrong work due to human desires.

c. We can be free from pain: - Human desires are the main source of sufferings and salvation or free from the unlimited desires is the solution of pain. One can get rid of sufferings by attending Nirvana (salvation).

d. Dukha Nirodha Marga: - Buddha propounded fourth noble truth as a complimentary of 3rd noble truth. He presents eight fold path s to get Nirvana or salvation. These are eight fold paths are as follows:

  1. Right vision: - Right vision id the true understanding of the four Aryan truths. According to Buddha, right vision helps in moral reformations and leads to the goal of salvation.
  2. Right speech: - Right speech involves the absent from lying, gossiping, or hurtful task. Right determination can help to the control of our speech. Our speech should be joyful and soft.
  3. Right action: - Right action refers to good deeds. Right action involves absent from hurtful behaviors such as killing, stealing, and taking intoxicating materials.
  4. Right livelihood: - Right livelihood means living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others including animals.
  5. Right effort: - Right effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regards to the contact of one’s mind. Bad qualities should abandoned and prevented from bad things. Good qualities should be enacted and nurtured.
  6. Right mindfulness: - Right mindfulness is the focusing of one’s attention on one’s body, feeling, thought, and consciousness in such way as overcome passion, hatred and ignorance.
  7. Right concentration: - Right concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfections.
  8. Right determination: - Everyone must possess a strong determination to reform his/her life in the light of truth. It is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance and hatefulness. For this one should give up all the bad feelings towards other and be determined to one’s one own duty.

Features of Buddhism

  • Liberal and flexible religion
  • No violence or the concept of ahimsa
  • Criticism of caste system
  • Belief in Nirvana (Karma and mokhsya)
  • Belief in rebirth
  • Not worshipping the particular God
  • Worshiping in Gumba
  • Tolerance to other religion

Sects of Buddhism

Gautam Buddha teaches education of Life in simple words. But in course of time, it has become complicated. The Buddhism is divided into a different sects with the number of followers increased. The most important sects of Buddhism are as follows:

  • The Heenyana sect of School: - this school of Buddhism flourished in south Asia and its present strong hold is in Srilanka and Burma.
  • This sect believes in original version of Buddha’s truth. Its literature is vast and is written in ‘Pali’ language. This school of Buddhism claims to be more orthodox a faithful to the teaching of Buddha.
  • The name of this sect is given by non-other than by Mahayana sect. according to the followers of Mahayana, the teaching of Hinayana is narrow way. According to Hinayana Gautam Buddha was simple man as common men but he had the different way of thinking about life and suffering.

Mahayana Sect

The Mahayana sect of Buddhism is flourished mostly in North Asian countries and its followers are mainly found in Tibet, china and Japan. This school adopted Sanskrit for their philosophical discussion and thus large number of Buddhist literature are developed in Sanskrit. Most of these literature were translated into Chinese and Tibetan language later. The meaning of Mahayana is a large way. This sect has taken as a God to the Buddha. So this sect started to idol worshipping. It is a liberal sect of Buddhism. Mahayana aims at the salvation of mankind.


In course of time. One more sect of Buddhism developed under the Mahayana sect. This sect believes in magical power and worship in the Mandala. It is the way of tantra, Mantra worship to get Buddha hood. This sect believes that the knowledge can be achieve only through Tantra-mantra and mediation. Manta and meditation influences the internal knowledge of human. In this way this sect takes Buddha as the symbol of Universe and consciousness because Panchtatwa and consciousness makes the forms of Buddha.

Islam Religion

Islam is a one of the important religion in the world. Prophet Mohammad is the founder of it who was born at Mecca of Saudi Arabia in the 6th century AD. He was died in Median and these two places are considered as holy places for Muslims. Mohammad established some rules which are compulsory to all Islam's, those rules are praying to Allah facing one’s face to Mecca, Treating Friday as holy day etc. all principles of Islam are inscribed in their religious book ‘Quran’ (lesson). The followers of Islam believe in one God but in course of time it is divided into Sunni and Seeya sects, monotheism, anti-idol worshipping, believe in fatalism, orthodox religion etc are the basic features of this religion. Even at the early age < Mohammad used to meditate upon the Gods and he would preach to those al who gathered to listen him. He bunched a great opposition on the practice of idol worshipping.

Mohammad insisted that his disciple must perform the five deeds which are:

  • Kalama (Part of Quran) recitation
  • Namaj
  • Giving Jakata or alms
  • Fasting (Roza)
  • Going To Hoz pilgrimage

Features of Islam religion

  • Mono-theism
  • Against idol worshipping
  • Quran is the holy text.
  • Low status of women
  • Believe in fatalism
  • Shariat as the Islamic law
  • Concept of Jehad
  • Mecca and Medina are the sacred place
  • More orthodox religion

Sects of Islam

  • The Sunni sect: - the Sunni sect of Islam claims to be more orthodox and faithful to the teaching of Prophet Mohammed. Those sect was established by those who claimed to be very close to Mohammed. Most of the Islam are in this sect in the world.
  • The Shiya sect: - the Shiya sect is also known as the Group of Ali. Ali was the son-in-law of Mohammed. Ali claimed that Prophet Mohammed had told him all those things he had learnt from Allah and Ali even knew those things which were not written in the Quran. Thus, Ali had a large number of followers to support him.


Christianity is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, a Jew who lived 2000 years age to which we call now Israel. Jesus taught to his followers, “Do un to others s you would have them do unto you.” Christianity has total followers in the world 2,281 Million (33.0%) and in Nepal its total followers is 1.4 %. Main concertation Area are Europe, North America, South, and America. It is founded by Jesus (6 B.C.) and holy places for a Christian are Jerusalem, and  Rome). The followers of Jesus called his Christ and the term Christ is Greek word which means “chosen one”. They believe that he was the son of God. Early people taught that the sins of people would be forgiven if they became the Christian.

After the death of Jesus followers of Christian combined the stories of life and knowledge of Christ into four books known as Gospel. The meaning of Gospel is ‘good news’. The Holy book of Christian is known as Bible and has its two parts: Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament consists of sacred writings of the Jewish people and is written in Hebrew Language before Jesus. The New Testament of Bible includes the Gospels along with the letters of Christian writers. The Bible has been translated into several language. Christians worship in churches led by the Pastures. Most of the Christian practice acts of religious significance called sacraments.

Christ believes that Christ was both man and son of the God. They believe that the God is ‘Messiah’. The Roman Governor of Palestine executed Jesus by nailing him to cross. Today this cross in Christianity’s most important icon. Most Christian have crosses in and on the top of their churches.


  • Monotheistic Religion
  • Orthodox religion
  • Christianity is the largest single faith
  • Bible is the holy Book
  • Holy Place is Jerusalem

Sects of Christianity

Christianity is divided into two sects which are as follows:

  • Roman Catholic: - About half of Christian population of world is Roman Catholic. John Paul – II is the leader of Roman Catholic Church. Catholic is the Latin word which means Universal and at a one time. It was the faith of almost every Christian.
  • Protestant: - It is another sect of Christianity. Many European leader including Martin Luther King and John Kelvin, protest against Pope in a period and Known as reformation. The sect and churches they started is known as Protestant.


Kirat is another religion of Nepal. Kirat religion is associated with the ethnic group Kirat and its followers are Rai and Limbu. They worship Nature as the source of Life. They worship Nature twise a year one on full moon of Mangsir and another on Full Moon of Baishak. Here Worship of Mangsir is related to the harvesting season and Baishakh is related to the Cultivation season. Similarly they worship ancestors in these days. Main and holy book of Kirat is Mundhum and initially it was verbally transmitted to us and we can find it in written form. They worship their nature god in Sakela Than and their main matter of worship is Land. Its main concentration place is eastern Nepal and its total followers is 3.1 percent in Nepal.

Religious Harmony in Nepal

Nepal is a country of Religious diversity since ancient time. It is the land of different religion. Most of people are Hindu and Buddhist and others are Islam, Kirat and Christian respectively. In Nepal there is no debate of controversy among the individuals of all religion and Nationality is a common umbrella for all religion and nationality is above than their Religion. The concept of Syncretism can be seen in Nepali society. Syncretism refers to the mixing process of all religions. Due to the concept of syncretism religious harmony can be found in Nepali society.

Since ancient time religious harmony is found in Nepali society. People of different religion celebrates the festivals of each other’s religion which shows the religious harmony in society. Religious tolerance was found in Lichchhavi period. Lichchhavi equally patronized the religions of Country which step promoted the condition of religious harmony in Nepali society. Though In Malla period Hinduism was the main religion of society Muslims and Christian were allowed to live in this country since that time religious harmony is continued in the society. Different shrines, temples and Monasteries are equally important for both Hindu and Buddhists. They have faith in each other’s religion in society