A religion is an orderly collection of beliefs, standpoints and cultures that lays down a narrative for the followers to lead a better and more enlightened life. Since the time immemorial when the word ‘religion’ was perhaps coined, both new and old religions have witnessed numerous additions in the form of diverse sets of beliefs and rules. There are billions of people on the planet and they follow more than 4,000 different religions! Listed below are the top 10 reasons behind the creation of religions.
1. Help ordinary people become spiritual:
The most advanced religions in the world are but a set of doctrines, beliefs and ideas. They merely mold a person’s belief before exposing him or her to sublime truths. If spiritual wisdom was to be expounded directly to the masses, it won’t be understood by even a small fraction of people. It’s highly likely that most religions, especially those supporting a deeper scientific approach and objectivism, were created only to bring people closer to spirituality.
2. Make people believe they’re being watched:
Life is not without a reason and there’s a reason why anyone takes birth, lives a certain kind of live and finally bids adieu to this world. According to most religions in the world, spirits do exist and therefore, the body is only a vessel. Such beliefs, whether they’re true or not, motivated people to engage in doing the right thing as they believed in an afterlife. Religion made people believe that all their actions were being watched or judged by a mighty God.
3. Explain the inexplicable:
Ordinary people can hardly understand the ‘formless God’. They needed something with a form and a name to which they could easily relate to. That’s exactly what religion did. It gave stories, lessons, gods, goddesses and principles that people could easily relate to and understand. It goes without saying that millions of people have faith in the ‘formless God’ today only because they were first introduced to religious principles and various stories.
4. Pass on the wisdom:
Every religion in the world has a set of teachings. These teachings were either compiled from ancient texts or given by saints, leaders, spiritualists, shamans, spirits etc. in the form of discourses. It is possible that kings, heads of tribes or others, established religious systems so as to pass on the accumulated wisdom in the form of scriptures to their next generations.
5. Unite the people:
No doubt, the world is changing and information technology enabled services are transforming opinions of millions on the planet. But, it’s a fact that more people on this earth relate themselves to a religion than to a country or state. It is possible that in some religions rich in doctrines, Do’s and Don’ts were created simply for the purpose of uniting people. The term “Global” is a fresh idea, considering the long history of human civilization and there’s a strong possibility that many religions in the world were created only to bring a community or kingdom under one umbrella.
6. Protect the culture:
There is perhaps no better way to protect the culture of a tribe, community or nation than to weave it together with religion. Once gods and supernatural beings enter the picture, it becomes almost impossible to snatch away cultural values of people. In fact, cultural values and traditions thus inculcated stay around even when people switch religions. India, for example, is known for its distinct ancient culture and people of all faiths gladly embrace it to an extent.
7. Spread the word:
Many religions in the world were created by disciples of popular spiritual leaders. These disciples took up the task of propagating their master’s words to the world. As these teachings precipitated in the form of written words, rituals and beliefs, new religions were born. Jainism as a religion, for example, was established after its 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira, attained Nirvana.
8. Enslave the people:
Contrary to the literal meaning of the word ‘religion’, it is possible that the notion was created by dictators, kings or invaders to enslave the masses. There is a strong possibility that heads of many tribes established and propagated new ideas to people so as to keep them united and chained to certain beliefs, or simply to rule unchallenged.
9. Define the righteous living:
Humans, like any other animal on the planet, are prone to be taken over by various dispositions of the mind. Unless people know about a ‘way of life,’ how could they make efforts to overcome the instinct and live a righteous life, guided by religious principles as simple as ‘do good, have good’. Whether millions of people feared their gods or loved them, the religion did indeed compel most of them to remain on the right path.
10. Create a value system for the masses to follow:
It is widely believed that the foremost reason behind the creation of religions is the notion of a ‘Value System’ that guarantees human survival in the long run. A human race bereft of any religious guidelines could have very easily dwindled in the wake of unregulated and immoral lifestyle. Over the centuries, religious values, directly or indirectly, have functioned as regulators of the society.