|Asia is home to all forms of religion. The major
religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zarathustraism,
Hinduism, Buddhism, Kongfuzianism, Daoism and Shintoism
arose here. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism spread
throughout much of the world, while others, such as Hinduism
and Kongfuzianism, grew mighty within their own cultural
spheres. In addition to the major religions, numerous tribal
religions are represented in Asia.
Christianity and Islam
have deep roots in Judaism. Apart from smaller
Jewish communities in different parts of Asia, they live in
Asia living Jews in Israel.
Christianity is the most comprehensive of the
major religions worldwide and globally. Although Asian in
origin, it spread to the west. Reminiscences of the
Christian Ancient Church constitute the small communities in
the Middle East belonging to the Syrian Church, as well as
the so-called Thomas Christians in Kerala in South India.
The other Christian congregations scattered throughout most
of Asia - often as reputable minorities - are the result of
Catholic or Protestant missionary activities starting from
From the 1500-h. embarked on a comprehensive Roman
Catholic mission. The first Protestant missionary activity
in India was due to a Danish initiative, with Frederik IV in
1705 sending two missionaries to the Danish colony
Tranquebar. During the 1800-t. took on the Protestant
mission, especially in India, China and Japan. As the only
country in Asia, the Philippines has a Christian majority,
with almost 95% of the population being Christian - 84% of
whom are Roman Catholic.
Islam is the most religious religion in Asia
(around 800 million). After its founding in the early 600-t.
Islam spread rapidly from the Arabian Peninsula to the
entire Middle East and beyond through Central Asia to China
and through South Asia to Indonesia. Islam is state religion
in several Middle Eastern states as well as in Pakistan,
Bangladesh and Malaysia. Indonesia is home to over 120
million. Muslims and thus have more than any other country.
In India, the Muslims constitute a significant minority
group (about 75 million). The majority of Asian Muslims are
Sunnis, but in Iran and Iraq the Shiites are in majority,
and Shia Islam is the state religion in Iran (the only
Buddhism emerged in northern India as a reform
movement around 500 BC. The Buddha would neither recognize
the Brahmans, the clergy, as a privileged spiritual upper
class, nor the ancient Vedic scriptures as supreme religious
authority. Three major directions evolved over the centuries
in Buddhism: hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana. For more than
a millennium, Buddhism flourished in India, but Hinduism and
Islamic expansion eventually displaced it from the
motherland. Buddhism disappeared from Indian territory
around 1200 AD, but in turn became an important religious
factor in other parts of Asia. The only survivor of the
ancient Hinayana schools is theravada. It lives on in
Buddhism in Sri Lanka and in much of Southeast Asia. The
other two directions, mahayana and vajrayana, form the basis
of Buddhism in Bhutan, Tibet, Mongolia and East Asia.
Buddhism has in recent times undergone a renaissance in
India, with over three million. casteless Hindus have
switched to Buddhism because of.BR Ambedkar's movement
against social injustice towards the castless.
Hinduism is a mixture of the Indian indigenous
religion and the ancient Vedar religion that the Aryan
tribes brought with them to India since between 2000 and
1500 BC. invaded the country. It is India's dominant
religion, with more than 80% of the population being Hindus.
In Nepal, which is the only country with Hinduism as a state
religion, almost 90% are Hindus. In other places, too, there
are significant Hindu groups, for example in Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka and Bali.
Jainism originated in India at about the same
time as Buddhism. Its teachings are heretical, like those of
Buddhism. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, could recognize
as little as Buddha the ideals of the Vedar religion. It has
approx. DKK 3 million followers. Sikhism is a
reform movement founded in the 1500s. It contains elements
from both Hinduism and Islam. About 13 million live there.
Sikhs in India. Finally, in the Bombay area, approx. 120,000
Parsis, supporters of Parsism, the contemporary
version of Zarathustra's ancient Iranian religion.
China's two major traditional religions, Confucianism
and Taoism, originated in 500 tfKr. The ideas of
Congo-Fuzianism were based on ancient Chinese ideals and
notions. Daoism redefined the inherited concepts from a
mystical, natural-philosophical worldview and became a
movement aimed at the existing order. Both have been of
great importance to religion and culture throughout East
Asia. In the 1st century AD the first Buddhist monks arrived
in China. Here developed from 500-t. a special Buddhist
meditation school, Chan. It spread into 700-t. to
Japan, where in the following centuries it was further
developed into the Zen school. Shintoism,
Japan's national religion, has always had close cooperation
The so-called primitive or tribal religions are found
especially in India, Nepal, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.
They usually have no written tradition. We encounter
Shamanism in North and Central Asia, South Korea and Japan,
From around the mid-1960s, many Westerners have been
attracted to the ideas and ideas of Asian religions. Various
forms of yoga are popular in many circles in the western
world, which has led to yoga schools in most major cities
and many places meditation centers. In the Hare Krishna
movement, Western adherents closely follow the rituals of a
Bengali, Vishnutian sect. The Buddhists also conduct
missionary activities in the West. One or more Buddhist
organizations are located in the majority of Western