The Oldest Religion in the World – Throughout the history of human life on this earth, there have always been two great forces that cannot be released, namely religion (belief) and philosophy. But actually, what about the history of religion itself? Can you still find the oldest religion in the world today?
In this article, we will discuss the history of various religions and other matters. Because, religion is an important aspect of life that even makes people willing to die to defend it. Not infrequently, there are also individuals and groups who give up their wealth, thoughts, and energy to defend their beliefs.
In addition, studying religions outside the one you profess is an attempt to appreciate the differences that exist. Therefore, you should also know the history of the world’s oldest religion.
Before discussing the oldest religion in the world, Sinaumed’s needs to know what religion actually means. Because many religions in ancient times were very different from what we know today.
If you write down the keyword “understanding of religion” on the search page, you will find hundreds of explanations that come from experts, books, and other sources. However, broadly speaking religion is:
- Recognition of the existence of the supernatural and its relationship with humans that must be obeyed
- Binding humans to something that is outside of humans and influences human actions in everyday life.
- Human belief in supernatural powers that produce a certain way of life
- System of behavior that comes from supernatural powers
- Recognition of obligations originating from a supernatural power
- The worship of supernatural powers originates from feelings of weakness and fear of mystical forces that surround humans.
- Religion revealed by God to humans through an apostle, savior, and the like.
From these seven points, it can be concluded that religion is an action taken by humans to restore relations with God or the divine. To understand more about the notion of religion, Sinaumed’s can read it in the book History of Human Religion by Muhammad Zazuli
The Oldest Religion in the World Seen from Three basic categories
In general, all religions must have a main teaching source. Both written and unwritten. This teaching contains rules or recommendations on various issues. Like God who is worshiped, humans and their lives, life after death, human relations, and other ethics that must be followed.
If you look at the development of the mind and the conditions of human life, religion is something dynamic. Aliases continue to change and develop along with the progress of human science.
For example regarding the change from belief in polytheism (belief in many Gods) to belief in monotheism (belief in one God). Humans in the Stone Age built monuments that became a means of worshiping God.
This is concrete evidence showing that since ancient times humans have had the desire to be able to stay connected with a higher being – of course, with abilities that are appropriate to their era.
So judging from its development, currently there are three basic categories of religion in this world. The first is polytheism, pantheism, and monotheism.
Polytheism is the belief in gods or beings who have specific names and duties in governing things in the world. In this polytheistic belief, each god has his own duties and personality traits.
Like for example, the god in charge of sending light and heat to the earth. In ancient Egyptian religion, this god was known as “Ra”. Whereas in ancient Indian beliefs, better known by the name “Surya”. Then in the Babylonian religion it was called “Shamas”, and “Mithra” in ancient Persian beliefs.
This religion and belief system is thought to have originated from Hinduism which has existed since 2500 BC. In addition, there are also those who say that polytheism is a belief that originated in many ancient cultures such as Egypt, Rome, Assyria, Babylon, and Greece.
This is a belief shared by many ancient cultures and civilizations. Scholars believe that pantheism is even older than Buddhism or Christianity, and its followers number in the hundreds of millions.
At first glance, pantheism is similar to polytheism, but there are actually fundamental differences between the two. Pantheism, many say, is a belief that transcends polytheism because it teaches the principle that everything is God, and God is everything.
Therefore adherents of this teaching believe that trees, animals, sun and sky are God. While humans have the same status as other creatures. Therefore, humans must live in harmony with them, learn from them, and focus on the relationship between the two.
3. Monotheism (monotheism)
Monotheism is a belief that believes that God is one (single) and has full authority over everything in the world. This belief is also known as the Abrahamic religion because it comes from the descendants of Abraham or Abraham who lived around 2000 BC.
The life story of Abraham or Abraham is told in monotheistic religious books such as the Koran, the Old/New Testament, and others.
Today, more than half of the world’s population adheres to monotheism. Even so, many people reject this kind of religious or belief grouping. The reason is because every religion has different ideas.
Ali Imran in his book entitled “The Most Complete History of Religions in the World” ranks the emergence of religions in the world into:
- 2000 BC: this is the time Abraham or Abraham lived and became the father of the Israelites
- 1200 BC: when Moses became leader of the Hebrews
- 1100-500 BC: the time when the sacred texts of Hinduism, namely the Vedas, were compiled
- 563-483 BC: when Buddha, the founder of Buddhism lived
- 551-483 BC: the time Confucius, the founder of Confucianism lived
- 200 BC: when the Hindu religious book, namely the Bhagavad Gita was written
- 2 to 4 BC – 32 AD: When Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and the founder of Christianity lived
- 32 AD: the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ
- 40 – 90 AD: the time of writing the new testament by followers of Jesus Christ
- 570 – 632 AD: the time of Muhammad, who brought the Koran as the basis of the Islamic Religion
List of the Oldest Religions in the World
The emergence of Hinduism cannot be separated from the civilization of Ancient India. Although the early history of this religion is still not known with certainty. On the other hand, today many people believe that Hinduism emerged when India was experiencing a crisis and at that time, Hinduism was a belief that was quite different from other religions, especially in terms of its founding teachings, origins, and main text sources.
Hinduism is thought to have appeared between 3102 BC and 1300 BC and is one of the oldest religions in the world that still exists today. At the time of its emergence, India was facing a political crisis from the 6th to the 2nd century BC.
Under these circumstances, a great reformer named Gautama appeared and spread his teachings in the 5th century BC and developed very rapidly. In the 3rd century BC, Buddhism began to dominate under King Asoka.
Thus, Hindus are increasingly pressured and must adapt to the situation that is happening. After this transition, Hinduism underwent many changes, the majority of which were influenced by the beliefs of the Dravidians who lived in South India.
This form eventually became popular again and is widely held by the people of India, which is known as Hinduism (Hinduism).
Hinduism does not have a founder like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. In addition, this belief also knows no “authority” that determines the boundaries of dogma for its adherents.
Regardless of its origins, some argue that Hinduism is more suitable to be called a social system strengthened by religious ideals.
Why is that? This is because this belief, which has the third largest following after Christianity and Islam, does not have a creed that can be clearly formulated and agreed upon by all its adherents.
Besides that, Hinduism also does not have a religious organization that gathers all its adherents. Sinaumed’s can get to know the history of Hinduism in Indonesia, especially in Java and Bali, through the book From Javanese Shivaism to Balinese Hinduism written by Andrea Arci
To discuss Buddhism, we must know the biography of the main figure of this religion, namely Siddhartha Gautama. Starting from birth to the end of his life.
Siddhartha Gautama was the only child of king Suddhodana and queen Maha Maya. He was born in the city of Lumbini–which is now south of Nepal–in 546 BC.
Siddhartha Gautama, who is an important figure in the emergence of Buddhism, has brought miracles even since he was still in the womb.
One day, the Queen was taking a walk in the Lumbini garden and on her way home, she gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama. The queen gave birth in a standing position, leaning on a sal tree branch. And during the process, miraculously the queen didn’t feel any pain at all.
After that, Gautama who was still a baby showed another miracle, namely walking 7 steps, each of which grew a lotus flower.
When he learned that his only child had been born, King Suddhodana then summoned an astrologer to predict the fate of his son in the future. All the astrologers summoned by the king stated that Siddhartha would become a cakrawartin or the great king of the world.
But there was one fortune teller who said unequivocally that the prince would become Buddha. King Suddhodana was worried about hearing this and did not want the prediction to come true because his son would become the heir to the throne.
The hermit then suggested that the prince should not see four kinds of events during his life, namely the sick, the old, the dead, and a hermit. If the Prince saw all four, then he would become a Buddha.
And sure enough, one day Siddhartha came out of the palace because he was bored and saw these four things. In the end he realized that a human’s physique was not eternal.
Since then, Siddhartha has continued to contemplate to find answers about the causes of human suffering and how to liberate it. After some contemplation, he then realized that all the pleasures of life are temporary and cannot completely make up for human pain.
Later, he left his family and went to the forest to reject the society of which he was a part. During this period he continued to engage in contemplation until he nearly died of starvation.
After this incident, Siddhartha again realized that the hunger he felt would not be able to solve the world’s suffering and other problems.
Siddhartha was still continuing the process of searching for answers, until one day he meditated under a tree and found the correct answer to his question, namely Nirvana.
Since then, Siddhartha began to be known as the “Buddha” and then began to teach his followers until the end of his life. Based on this Buddha’s life journey, Buddhism has four holy cities, namely:
- Kapilawastu: Birthplace of Buddha
- Bodhgaya: The place where Buddha attained his first enlightenment
- Benares: The place where inspiration first taught the Buddha
- Kusinagara: Where Buddha died at the age of 80
Read stories full of Buddhist wisdom and moral values in the book The Living Wisdom of the Buddha compiled by Shui Yuean.
Confucianism or Confucius religion is also known as Confucianism in Indonesia. This belief teaches the ideal traits of humans as individuals and members of society to their followers.
As the oldest religion in China, Confucius gave many deep impressions on life and culture in the Bamboo Curtain Country. Such as teachings on manners, love, hospitality, to philosophy.
Even though it is recognized as a religion, its followers do not practice religious practices like other religions. Followers of Confucianism see this belief as a system of social philosophy and ethics to live life as a human being who has reason.
The name Confucius comes from the name of its founder, namely confucius which is an Anglicization of the original name K’ung-fu-tzu or Master K’ung.
At first, Master K’ung had no intention of establishing a new religion or belief, he was only interested in reviving the values and beliefs that had existed during the Zhou dynasty.
Like Confucianism, Taoism is also a belief that originated in China and is followed by most Chinese people. In general, the Taoist religion is believed to have originated with the yellow Emperor and was later developed by Lao Zi and then organized into a Religious institution by Zhang Tao Ling.
For thousands of years, the Taoist Religion has succeeded in maintaining the harmony of people’s lives in China, making progress in culture, literature, medicine, philosophy, astronomy, and the way of thinking of the Chinese people.
Taoism teaches its followers to exalt the majesty of nature which has provided for all living things. Besides that, this belief also teaches the existence of a supreme entity; the Supreme and Supreme One behind this universe.
This entity is called “TAO” which is the source of everything in this universe. This is what makes adherents of Taoism believe in always upholding honesty, compassion, sincerity, and not hurting others.
Shinto religion is a belief that has existed since prehistoric times and it is still unknown how it originated. The most spread of this religion is in the Asian region, especially Japan.
However, Shinto is believed to be the original religion of the Japanese nation and has quite unique characteristics. Even the process of formation, religious ceremonies, and religious teachings also shows a complicated development.
The word “Shinto” itself comes from the Chinese language which means “way of the gods”, “worship of the gods”, “teaching of the gods”, or “religion of the gods”. Interestingly, the name “Shinto” was only used to indicate the original Japanese religion when Buddhism and Confucius entered this country in the sixth century AD.
Judaism (Judaism) is a religion unique to the Jewish people or nation. The word Jew itself is taken from one of the clans of the twelve ancestors of the Tribe of Israel who have the most descendants, namely Judah who is the son of Jacob from his wife named Leah.
While Judaism itself is a religion revealed by God to the Prophet Moses and taught to the children of Israel with the Torah as its holy book. The essence of this scripture lies in the ten commandments of God.
The core belief of the adherents of the Jewish religion is the existence of God Almighty, the creator of the world who saved the Israelites from oppression in Egypt, revealed God’s law (Torah) to them and chose them as a light to the world’s people.
Jewish religious books write that God made a pact with Abraham or Abraham that he and his grandchildren would be blessed if they always had faith in God. This agreement was later repeated by Isaac and Jacob. And because Isaac and Jacob brought down the Jewish nation, they believed that they were the chosen nation.
Jews were chosen to carry out special duties and responsibilities, such as creating a just and prosperous society and having faith in God. In return, they will receive God’s love and protection.
God then bestowed upon them the Ten Commandments through their leader, Moses. The synagogue is the main social and religious center in Judaism, and the Rabbi is a designation for those who are experts in religious matters.
You can also find a complete history of Judaism in the book Judaism: Religion, Ethnicity, and Hidden History by Henry C. Adams.
7. Zoroastrianism (1000-500 BC)
Zoroastrianism is a belief brought by the prophet Zarathustra or known in Greek as Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism then developed in an area of ancient Persia which is now better known as Iran.
In Iran itself, Zoroastrianism is better known as Mazdayasna or belief in worshiping Ahura Mazda, the wise God.
This belief was founded in the 6th century BC by the reformer Zoroastrian who was regarded by his followers as a prophet. Based on archaeological evidence, the roots of this religion date back to 1,200-1,500 BC and spread in the area of Ancient Persia or modern Iran.
The history of this religion also records that Zoroastrianism was once one of the most powerful religions in the world and the official religion in Persia from 600 BC to 650 BC.
This belief has many central concepts in common with other major religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Namely the concept of teaching life after death, and the concept of heaven and hell.
Three thousand years ago was the time when Zarathustra was born and received a revelation. The savior is a descendant of Zarathustra who will destroy Ahriman for humanity, so that peace can be realized. Even though the history of religion is more than 3 thousand years old, Zoroastrianism is still practiced and known today, although not as much as before.
The majority of its adherents live in Iran. In addition there are also a number of Zoroastrians who migrated to India and are known as Parsis there. In a number of areas of Central Asia, including Indonesia, the Zoroastrianism religion is also known as the Zoroastrian religion.
That is a description of the history of the world’s oldest religions. From this article, we can understand that religion and human life will always coexist and develop together. Thank you for reading this article, see you soon, OK?
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