A guide to various aspects of Indian religious thought
and inter-religious understanding and religious tolerance.
"Its chief mark consists in concentration on the spiritual aspect,
belief in the intimate relationship of philosophy and life,
the inseparability of theory and practice and the insistence
on intuition coexisting with the acceptance of authority."

Source: The Gazetteer of India, Volume 1: Country and people. Delhi,
Publications Division, Government of India, 1965.

CHAPTER Vlll - Religion


by Dr. C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar, Dr. Nalinaksha Dutt,
Prof. A.R.Wadia, Prof. M.Mujeeb,
Dr.Dharm Pal and Fr. Jerome D'Souza, S.J.

* * * * *

This text has been rearranged by Shri Arvind Kalia so that some of the material could more easily and logically fit into the sub-headings he had created,
otherwise the original text remains unchanged except a few amendments I have made - Prakash Arumugam


Monotheism (from Greek μόνος, monos, "single", and θεός, theos, "god") is the belief in the existence of one god,[1] as distinguished from polytheism, the belief in more than one god, and atheism, the absence of belief in any god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, (arguably) Christianity, Islam, the Baha'i Faith and Zoroastrianism, but is also present in Neoplatonism and in Hinduism and Sikhism[2] and it is difficult to delineate from notions such aspantheism and monism.

Ostensibly monotheistic religions may still include concepts of a plurality of the divine; for example, the Trinity, in which God is one being in three eternal persons(the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Additionally, most Christian churches teach Jesus to be two natures (divine and human), each possessing the full attributes of that nature, without mixture or intermingling of those attributes. This view is not shared by all Christians, notably the Oriental Orthodox (miaphysite) Greek churches.

Catholics venerate the saints, (among them Mary), as human beings who had remarkable qualities, lived their faith in God to the extreme and are believed to be capable of interceding in the process of salvation for others; however, Catholics do not worship (latria) them as gods.[3]

The concept of monotheism in Islam and Judaism however, is far more direct, God's oneness being understood as absolutely unquestionable. Other forms of monotheism includes unitarianism and deism.[4]


Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals.

Polytheism was the typical form of religion during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, up to the Axial Age and the gradual development of monotheism or pantheism, andatheism. It is well documented in historical religions of Classical Antiquity, especially Greek polytheism and Roman polytheism, and after the decline of classical polytheism in tribal religions such as Germanic polytheism or Slavic polytheism. It persists into the modern period in traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism,Chinese folk religion, etc., and it has been revived in currents of Neopaganism in the post-Christian West.

Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God. Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but can be Henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be Kathenotheists, worshipping different deities at different times.


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