All publications of Md Rehan Reza . दिल्ली , भारत
The 5 Oldest Religions in the World up
Hinduism (founded around the 15th – 5th century BCE)
Hinduism may not be a unified religion per se, or organized into a distinctive belief system, but Hindus (as they have been identifying themselves for centuries, the result of opposition with other religions) roughly follow the same central traditions, understandable to all the religion’s multifarious adherents. The first and foremost of these is a belief in the Vedas – four texts compiled between the 15th and 5th centuries BCE on the Indian subcontinent, and the faith’s oldest scriptures – which make Hinduism without doubt the oldest religion in existence. It has since evolved into a diverse and flexible tradition, notable, as the scholar Wendy Doniger puts it, for its ability to ‘absorb potentially schismatic developments.’ There are close to one billion Hindus in the world today.
Zoroastrianism (10th – 5th century BCE)
The ancient Indo-Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism (known to natives as Mazdayasna) – said to date back to the 2nd millennium BCE – emerged in its current version from the teachings of the reforming prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra), who historians contend lived at some point between the 10th and 6th centuries BCE (they disagree somewhat). Extremely influential over the development of the Abrahamic tradition, it was the state religion of various Persian empires until the Muslim conquest of the 7th century CE, and survives in parts of Iran, India, and Iraq to this day, reportedly followed by some 200,000 people.
Judaism (9th – 5th century BCE)
The foundation for all other Abrahamic religions, and the oldest monotheism still around (though by no means the first – that is alleged to be a variation on ancient Egyptian faith called Atenism, which disappeared in the 14th century BCE), Judaism originated in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which first appeared in the Levant around the 9th century BCE. The religion morphed into its current form in the 6th century BCE, evolving from the worship of a state god based in a polytheistic worldview into that of a one ‘true’ God, codified in the Bible. If it is today followed by an estimated 11–14 million people, its two successor faiths – Christianity (1st century CE) and Islam (7th century CE) – are the world’s most popular, with a combined 3.8 billion adherents.
Jainism (8th – 2nd century BCE)
Once a dominant religion on the Indian subcontinent (before the rise of reform Hinduism in the 7th century CE), Jainism has fairly obscure origins. Its followers believe in the tirthankaras, omniscient preachers of the Jain path, whose defining characteristics are marked by asceticism and self-discipline. The last two tirthankaras are known historical figures: Parshvanatha (8th century BCE) and Mahavira (599 – 527 BCE). Yet archeological evidence proving the existence of Jainism only dates back to the second century BCE. Jains are said to number six to seven million worldwide.
Confucianism (6th – 5th century BCE)
If, like Buddhism, Confucianism must invariably be traced to one man – in this case, the Chinese politician, teacher, and philosopher Confucius (551 – 479 BCE) – it is worth noting that he himself maintained he was part of a scholarly tradition dating back to an earlier golden age.
Though the most humanistic and least spiritual creed on this list, Confucianism does provide for a supernatural worldview (it incorporates Heaven, the Lord on High, and divination) influenced by Chinese folk tradition. Since the teachings were first compiled in the Analects a generation or two after Confucius’s death, the tradition has gone through various periods of popularity and unpopularity in China, and remains one of the leading influences on modern Chinese folk religion.