Religion shapes people’s morals, traditions, beliefs, customs, and ultimately the behavior of a person. These common religious beliefs bring people together as a group and as a community with togetherness. Asia, being the biggest and among the most diverse continent in the world has several major and minor religions. What makes Asia, special and renowned is that it is the birthplace of most of the world’s major religions.
In the older times, religion helped a lot to help the complex governments, development, and even create more efficient systems of communication. From Mesopotamia to Egypt and Indus valley these beliefs helped to start the human civilization as we know of it now. Some of these religions originated and are confined to the region only (ethnic religion). Others traveled far and wide teaching their beliefs and lifestyles around the world. These major religions help to map the unity and fellowship among the people around the world. Here, we give a detailed description of all the world’s major religions that are started (initially) in Asia.
Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent. The founder Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini Nepal as Prince Siddartha of the Shakya Kingdom. The religion spread all over the world with the highest density in the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. Buddhism has long been the religion of peace teaching its followers to live a life of selflessness and service. Effectively this religion started to spread all around Asia from India. After the arrival of Islam here, other nations became denser with the highest Buddhist population.
Today over half a billion people or about 8-10 % of the worldwide population practice Buddhism. Buddhism is unofficially the fourth biggest religion by population mostly connects to Asia. Buddhism although having a couple of extant branches as Theravada and Mahayana was originated and spread all over the world from Asia.
Although most Hindus believe their religion was there throughout time hence with no specific origins, Scholars believe its roots in or around the Indus Valley of modern Pakistan. Many believe the name Hindu was derived from the Indus River here. According to many studies, Hinduism is termed as the oldest religion dating at least back to 2500 BC. Hinduism is a large religion with thousands of gods that devotees pray to. This religion also has many major festivals especially following the Lunar Calendar.
Unlike other religions, there is no specific or single founder of Hinduism. Hence, different practices of religion might vary according to the place. The major bulk of the Hindu population (95%) live in the Indian subcontinent. Although pinpointing the exact birthplace is not possible, Hinduism as a whole was originated here. Hinduism in some ways can also be called the mother religion of other main religions like Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
The Middle East or Southwest Asia is the birthplace of multiple major religions of the world. One of them is Islam, which originated in Mecca, modern-day Saudi Arabia. Mecca is also the holiest place in the planets for Muslim people for the same reason. Islam is the second-largest religion of the world and is the fastest-growing major religion as well. About 1.8 billion people around the world identify themselves as Muslims making them the majority population in about 50 countries.
Christianity makes up about one-third of the total world population. It is also among others by far the most widespread religions around the world. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity was believed to be born near Bethlehem about 10 kilometers south of Jeruselum in Isreal. Jerusalem is one of the holiest places for Christians all around with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Most of the Christian population today lives in Europe and the Americas. Christianity originated in Asia and spread all over the world from the birthplace of Christ.
The third major religion to have originated in the Middle East is Judaism. Israel is the birthplace of Judaism. As an organized religion, it was established before 500 BC. Judaism is also the oldest monotheistic religion (believing in one god/power) in the world. Once among the most prominent religion of the world, Judaism is now the 10th largest religion by population. Jewish People have the densest population in Israel, the USA, and Canada with rest living in Europe as well as small pockets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Sikhism is the main religion in the Punjab region of the Indian Subcontinent. This religion was born in the Punjab region now the part of East Pakistan and northern India. It is believed to be born from Hinduism and is now the fifth-largest religion in the world. Sikhism is based on the teachings of 15th century Guru Nanak Dev. Additionally, the nine major Sikh Gurus succeeding him completed the major beliefs and teachings of Sikhism. Unlike other religions, Sikh people are predominately live in Punjab surrounding states with few migrating communities in Canada as well.
Jainism is a small but fast-growing religion from India following the traditions and teachings of VardhamanMahavira and other gurus succeeding him. Over 5 million of the world population identify themselves as Jains in 2020. Apart from India a significant population of Jains is found in the USA, Kenya, and, the UK. Besides the small population, Jains have some large contributions to the economic, political, and ethical development in India.
Confucianism is an ancient Chinese religion that follows the ethical philosophy and teachings of Confucius around 500 BC. Also Known as Ruism, the values of Confucianism started from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties before Confucius. Unlike the other major religions, Confucianism focuses on a system of thought and behaviors rather than the traditional way of religion and prayer around the world. Confucianism today is the 14th largest religion of the world with most followers in China and Chinese communities around the world.
Taoism is another ancient philosophical religion of Chinese origin emphasizing in the way of life. Laozi was the founder of Taoism and is now personified as the God of Tao. It was originated around the 4th century BCE drawing the major cosmological notions from the school of Yinyang. Taoism previously had a very profound influence on Chinese culture and literature. Today most Taoists live either in Mainland China or some parts of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
The nature religion Shinto is the major religion in Japan. It is a polytheistic religion revolving around Kami and spirits. These gods/Kamis are the supernatural beings inhabiting all the things around us. Shinto was originated in Japan around the Yayoi period at around 300 BCE. About 70-80% of the total Japanese population follow Shintoism today.
Religion has paved the way to human civilization and now is the way of connecting communities around. It has been a major factor for traveling and learning unique culture in 2020. Asia is the only destination where one can visit and know more about the birthplace of major religions around the world.