National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - 486

sec tion

2

H i s to ry

2.3 Religion

in South Asia

m y n G c o n n e c t . c o m For an online map
and data on south Asian religions
Maps and
Connect
Maps and Graphs NG
Connect to Nat Geo
Graphs
to

Main Idea Religion was an important part of
South Asia's history. It is still important to the
culture today.

Religion is an important part of South
Asia's history because it shaped borders
and cultures. Two of the world's main
religions-Hinduism and Buddhism-
were founded in India along with two
other religions, Jainism and Sikhism.
Buddhism spread into East Asia and
Southeast Asia. Today, Buddhism has
more followers in those regions than in
South Asia. Islam was founded in Saudi
Arabia, but it quickly spread to South
Asia. Today, it is the second-largest
religion in the region.

sIkhIsM Sikhism began in India
in the late A.D. 1400s. It was created
to combine aspects of Hinduism and
Islam. Sikhs believe in one god, truthful
living, and equality of humankind. Today, most
Sikhs live in the Indian state of Punjab.
Followers in south Asia: Approximately
1 percent of the population

JaInIsM Jainism developed in the
late A.D. 500s. Jains believe in ahimsa,
or nonviolence towards all living things.
Most Jains live in northwestern India.
Followers in south Asia: Approximately
1 percent of the population

BuddhIsM Buddhism was founded
in India around 525 B.c. by a prince
named Siddhartha Gautama. Gautama
left his royal life to find a solution to human
suffering. After six years, he discovered and began
teaching the Four Noble Truths: 1) Suffering is a
part of life; 2) Selfishness is a cause of suffering;
3) It is possible to move beyond suffering; and 4)
There is a path that leads to this point.

People who followed Gautama's teachings called
him the Buddha, or "Enlightened One." They
recorded his teachings in a set of three books
called the Tripitaka, or "Three Baskets." During
the next few centuries, Buddhism spread throughout Asia. In South Asia, it is the main religion of
Bhutan and Sri Lanka. You can learn more about
Buddhism in the chapters on East Asia.

hInduIsM Hinduism began as a blend
of native beliefs and the religion of the
Aryan people. It has developed over
thousands of years. Today it is the main religion in
India and Nepal. Hindus worship many deities , or
supreme beings, but they believe that every deity is
a part of one universal spirit, called Brahman.

determined by the soul's karma, or actions during
a previous life. If the soul has lived a good life, it
is reborn into a better life. If the soul has lived an
evil life, it is reborn into a worse life. This process
continues until the soul lives a perfect life.

Hindus also believe in reincarnation , or the rebirth
of the soul. After death, a person's soul is reborn
into another physical life. The kind of life is
486 cHAPTER 17

Followers in south Asia: Approximately 2 percent
of the population

These beliefs and others are recorded in many
different texts. The most important are the Vedas,
the Puranas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata.
Followers in south Asia: Approximately
63 percent of the population


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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version

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