Three of the largest religions in the world, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, originate in Asia, and they still have their largest spread there.
Hinduism in India and Nepal
In India, Hinduism is the largest religion. Hinduism is a collection of many religious traditions, and the collection of these traditions is linked both to Indian unity philosophy and to Indian nationalism that originated in the 19th century. According to the Indian Constitution of 1950, India is a secular state, that is, no single religion should be given a special status on the part of the state. Nepal used to be the only Hindu kingdom in the world, but now has a secular constitution such as India.
Two more religions have emerged in India: the more than 2,500-year-old Jainism and Sikhism founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak.
Buddhism originated in India around 500 BCE and spread along the trade routes through Asia to both Central and Eastern Asia, and to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. From approx. 700 AD, Buddhism was established in Tibet, and from there was spread among the Mongols in the 16th century. Buddhism has been closely associated with various local forms of religion, but everywhere (with the exception of some Japanese schools) has preserved monk life as the center of religious life. Today theravada Buddhism is predominant in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, while Mahayana Buddhism is predominant in Tibet and Bhutan, and by the way, is found in China, Korea, Vietnam and, above all, in Japan.
In the 1900s, Buddhism has been partly persecuted, including Mongolia in the 1930s, Tibet from the 1950s and Cambodia under the Red Khmer regime. But Buddhists have also persecuted other minorities in countries where they have been in the majority, such as in Sri Lanka where the victims have been especially Tamils (Hindus and Christians), and in Myanmar where the victims have been Muslims.
In India, Buddhism has come back in the form of navayana (“the new way”) founded by the important lawyer and politician Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. According to AbbreviationFinder, ABCP stands for Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace.
Christianity is represented in the Middle East by remnants of the old ” Eastern churches “. The so-called Thomas Christians in Kerala, India also go back to the first Christian centuries.
From the 16th and 16th centuries, Catholic mission has prevailed in India (with its center in the former Portuguese colony of Goa), Vietnam and, above all, the Philippines, the only Asian country where a large majority of the population is Christian. Protestant mission began in the 1800s in India, China, and Japan, and has especially enjoyed progress among ethnic minorities (such as the numbers in India, see the Norwegian Central Mission) and socially oppressed groups.
Islam spread rapidly from the Arabian Peninsula to the rest of the Middle East, and then partly through Central Asia to China (900s) and partly through India to Southeast Asia. Islam’s numerical center of gravity lies in the countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. By the way, there are significant Muslim minorities in a number of countries (China, Philippines, Myanmar, Sri Lanka).
China has produced religious forms that are indistinguishable from Chinese culture. This applies to Confucianism, which has been at the forefront of Chinese ethics, social philosophy and literature, and Taoism, which has been characterized by, among other things, individual mysticism, nature empathy and social rebel movements.
In Japan, the spiritual religion of Buddhism was separated from Buddhism and made a national religion by the name of Shinto.
Numerous smaller groups have maintained their own religious traditions, more or less influenced by the more dominant cultures and missionary religions such as Christianity and Islam. This is especially true of some people groups in India and Nepal (“tribes”), but these have recently become victims of Christian mission and thus lost their inherited religion, in Southeast Asia (“mountain people” in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam) and in Indonesia. These forms of religion are often devoid of scripture and are inextricably linked to traditional way of life and settlement. Social and political upheavals, as well as mission and government intervention, have therefore caused many places to lose their inherited religious traditions.
Asian influence in the West
While Asia has been influenced by Christian mission and European philosophy for hundreds of years, Asian forms of religion in the 20th century, and especially since the 1960s, have prevailed in the West. These are partly missionary activities, especially from the Buddhist side (Zen, Theravada, Tibetan Buddhism) and Hindu side (e.g. ISKCON [hare krishna] and TM [ transcendental meditation ] ), and partly on various forms of yoga and religious movements of the Hindu character.