World Facts

What is the Oldest Religion in the World?

It is incredibly hard to pinpoint the founding date of any religion. However, it is generally believed that Hinduism is one of the world's oldest religions.

A religion can be defined as a set of practices relating to matters of spirituality. However, there is no universal agreement among scholars over the definition of a religion. These religious practices include feats, initiations, music, dance, art, and others. In total, there are around 10,000 religions in the world. However, a huge chunk of these religions, around 84%, falls within one of the five major religious groups of the world namely Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or traditional religions. Hinduism is widely regarded as being the oldest religion.

The World's Oldest Religion

There is a lot of debate revolving around this topic that makes it difficult to determine with certainty the oldest religion in the world. Despite the debate, it is widely accepted that Hinduism is the oldest with its founding believed to go as far back as 2300 BCE.

Hinduism

With a following of approximately 900 million people, Hinduism is third in terms of popularity in the world. Most of the people who practice the religion, around 95%, live in India. Since the founder of the religion cannot be traced, it is extremely difficult to find out information about its correct age. To add to the problem, Hinduism is a collection of several religions. For this reason, it is sometimes described as the way of life instead of just one religion. Despite having multiple religions within it, the followers worship one deity, Brahman, although other deities are not disregarded. Due to the collection of several religions, it is no surprise that Hinduism has a number of religious texts including the Rig Veda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, the Atharvaveda, the Bhagavad Gita, and others.

History of the Hindu Religion

Scholars believe that the religion began in the Indus Valley, which is close to present-day Pakistan. However, Hindus say that the religion has always been present. An indigenous tribe and the Indo-Aryan folk (who moved to the valley around 1500 BCE) inhabited the Indus Valley in the past. The Veda period, which was between 1500 BCE and 500 BCE, saw a number of practices such as chanting and offering sacrifices. The worship of other deities happened from 500 BCE to 500 CE where the people worshipped other deities such as Shiva, Devi, and Vishnu. Experts believe that other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism are based on Hinduism.

Ancient Hinduism

The ancient period began around 500 CE and ended around 1500 CE. This period saw the emergence of a lot of religious text. However, a lot of the rich history of the religion was destroyed in modern periods when Muslim Arabs began encroaching upon Indian land from the 7th century. The invaders prevented Hindus from worshipping and destroyed many of their temples.

Other Ancient Religions

Judaism is in the second place after its founding much later in 609 BCE. Other religions in the top five are Zoroastrianism (600 BCE), Buddhism (563 BCE), and Confucianism (551 BCE). Islam is the youngest on this list after its establishment in 570 CE. Christianity, which is the world’s most popular religion, is relatively young after its establishment in 1 CE.

What is the Oldest Religion in the World?

Rank´╗┐ReligionApproximate Year of Founding
1Hinduism2300 BCE
2Judaism609 BCE
3Zoroastrianism600 BCE
4Buddhism563 BCE
5Confucianism 551 BCE
6Jainism527 BCE
7Shinto300 BCE
8Christianity1 CE
9Taoism142 CE
10Islam570 CE

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