In what ways did India contribute to the religion of the world?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Not only has India, as a nation, contributed to the diverse makeup of religions in the world, but it perhaps has no rival other than Palestine for being the birthplace of what the Western world deems the "major" religions.

India is traditionally associated most with Hinduism, and as a religion with nearly a billion followers, Hinduism has become one of the world's leading spiritualities. It is reflected in a number of local traditions and may contrast with Abrahamic traditions for its variety and flexibility. The Sanskrit language is used in many of its foundation texts, including the Vedas, and has provided the basis for a national (and religious) literature.

But Hinduism is not the only religious contribution India has made to the world; while many associate Buddhism with East Asia, founder Siddhartha Gautama was a native of the Indian subcontinent. Siddhartha, who later became known as "the Buddha" (Sanskrit for "the enlightened one"), sought to reform the native Indian religion and sparked a theological revolution that continues to this day.

In the region of the Punjab, Sikhism was founded in the late fifteenth century by a man known as Guru Nanak and has since spread over the world via the Punjabi diaspora. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "in the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide."

Other Indian contributions to world religion involve a history of Zoroastrianism as well as Christianity after, according to tradition, the arrival of the Apostle Thomas.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial