Disclaimer: The statements mentioned here are not written to hurt the feelings of any person belonging to any religion.
Dalai Lama wisely says, “The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others”. On this note, today I am going to take you through some myths related to the many religions that exist in our world.
1. Hinduism is the name of a religion and Ramayana is the Hindu Bible
This is the biggest myth related to the oldest religion on Earth. None of the texts related to this religion have mentioned the name Hinduism in it. The real name is “Sanatana Dharma”. Hinduism is just a name that has been coined just for convenience. This term is thought to have evolved from River Sindhu. And no, Ramayana is not the Hindu Bible. It is just an ancient epic poem just like Iliad of Homer, but much longer.
2. Birth Control is prohibited in Judaism
This myth originated from the biblical obligation is “to be fruitful and multiply”. This is fulfilled if the couple has two children, a boy, and a girl. But it does not prohibit a couple from having more children if they are mentally and physically able to handle more children. So, the Orthodox Jews follow this rule and do not use birth control but that does not mean that they are not supposed to use it.
3. All Muslims are Arab or from Middle Eastern countries
Being a native of a country which celebrates diversity, I know how wrong this myth is. But there are many who believe that Muslims are only natives of the Arab region and north African countries. In fact, it is estimated that India and Indonesia are countries which have the highest numbers of Islam followers, even more than any of the Arab countries. Even the 75% of Muslim adults currently residing in the US have been staying in the country since before 2000.
4. All Buddhists are Vegetarians
This is called stereotyping at its highest form. When we hear Buddhist or Buddhism, we always picture young Buddhist monks and elderly Buddhists chanting with beads in hand and Buddhist prayer wheels. But one might be shocked to hear that there are Buddhism followers who eat meat. There are many modern Buddhists who believe that eating meat is fine as long as one does not witness the killing. Weirded out? Me too.
5.Sikhs are martial race and violent people
Sikh people are fascinating, according to my perspective. They have lip smacking cuisine (my personal favorite), loving people and very protective of their family and friends. Maybe that is how the tag of being violent was hung on their shoulders. No, they don’t back off on a fight but it will always be for their loved one and as a part of showing their care. Sure, they are loud and boisterous, but that does not make them violent. They are one happy group of people.
6. True Christians dress uptight and soberly
How do people come up with such ideas? Do you need to dress up in such a way to announce your faith in God and to show the world that you belong to a particular religion? Maybe this myth arose from the attires of the nuns and priests. Even pop culture and movies have instilled in the minds of people that a true church going girl or boy, dress in sober and pastel colors, while the wild party child with tattoos and trendy dresses have not even seen a church in their life. Come on people. The beliefs and dresses of people are not related.
7. Jains dress up as either Digambars or Shwetambers
For those who don’t know, Jainism is a religion prevailing in mainly Northern parts of India. They are divided into two sections: Digambers, one without clothes and Shwetambers, ones who wear only white clothes. Wait, don’t freak out. Contrary to the popular belief, only Jain monks follow this religion. The Jains are normal people like us, who are fully clothed in colorful attires, leading an honest life and following their religious practices and traditions.
8. Confucianism is Oppressive
Similar to Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma (as the rightful name), Confucianism is not a religion is technical terms. It is more of a way of leading life. Confucius, an individual who has ardent followers as much as he has opposers and people who question against his teachings in the modern times, is the founder of this religion. Confucianism takes the blame for making China a country without freedom. One of his teachings was to follow the orders of one’s superiors. The only thought behind this teaching was let it be the king, minister, or any common man, there must be someone who can point out his mistakes and make him walk the right path. This is very much misinterpreted by the modern world and the present followers of this religion. And, of course, we know who took advantage of that.
9. Shinto kami is a single God
Unlike other religions of the world, the Japanese religion Shinto does not have a single God, idol, founder, prophet or even like Polytheistic like Hinduism. Shinto is polytheistic in a different way. Kami are the spirits, phenomena or people that are worshiped by Shinto believers. Kami can be elements of nature, elements of the landscape like mountains, qualities these beings express or even spirits of venerated dead people. I know, it is complicated. They have even incorporated Buddhism with Shintoism. Each religion is unique in its own way.
10. Parsis and Zoroastrians are same
Setting aside the fact that they have a common place of origin, these both communities are vastly different. A group of bedraggled refugees who settled in India over 1373 years ago, near the coast of Gujarat are the Parsi community of India. The Zoroastrians are the people who have the same beliefs as Parsis but are currently in Iran or migrated to India in the beginning of the19th century. Their rituals, traditions and even the language is different. The Parsis speak in Gujarati while the Zoroastrians, even in India, speak their Persian dialect, Dari. They even follow different calendar system as it was changed after the first wave of Parsi settlement in India 1373 years back.
11. Feng Shui is a part of Taoism
Feng shui and Taoism.Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion and hearing the word Fengshui the first thing that comes to our mind in China. It is a common misconception in the West that Fengshui is a part of the Taoist religion. To be Taoist means to be an ardent follower of Feng Shui. But the truth is it is just a philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with their surrounding (as Wiki says). It is just that Taoism existed at the time and Taoist believers follow the Feng Shui way of living.
12. Bahá’í is a sect of Islam like Shia or Sunni
Bahá’í is not a sect of Islam. Founded by a person from the Muslim dominant Iran in 1800s, the teachings, beliefs, and practices of Bahá’í are quite different from that of Islam. Islam doesn’t recognize Bahaullah, the founder of this religion, as a Prophet. Bahá’í is now much popular and there are religious places dedicated to Bahá’í followers even in the West. This is a very young religion which considers God is one and multiple religions can exist. Maybe as the birthplace was a Muslim country, people widely considers this young religion as a sect of Islam.
13. Paganism is Satan worship
The word paganism itself creates a sense of discomfort among people. It is because of the misconception that Pagan followers worship Satan. Jews, Christians, and Muslims used the term Paganism referring to any person who follows any religions other than theirs. Of course, there are Pagans. Usually, Pagans are considered as people who are hedonistic. In reality, paganism refers to the authentic religions of ancient Greece and Rome as well as surrounding areas which originated from the Neolithic era. They believe in freedom in seeking worldly pleasures. Maybe that is the reason for the raised eyebrows.
14. Santeria is witchcraft
This religion is unfamiliar to many or may have not even heard about it. Me too. First, let me tell you what Santeria is. It is an Afro-American religion of Caribbean origin. It is a growing religion, developing and gaining more followers across American Subcontinent. Many believe that it is more of voodoo and witchcraft. Many are scared of the followers while many try to take advantage of them. These people have certain customs according to which they use herbs or make offerings to ancestors and deity. But that is not witchcraft. Wake up, people.
15. Candomble is a dead religion
Yet another religion of American origin. This is a religion that may be referred as the cousin of Santeria of Cuba. This is syncretic religion, meaning it is an amalgamation of various religions. The salves brought to Brazil are the ones who founded this religion. Fearing the persecution of Christian believing lords, the followers of this religion went into hiding. They put on an act that they followed Catholicism, but they worshiped their deities in secret. Almost three decades back, rumors started flying that Candomble was still being practiced. As the slave era ended and the Afro-Americans regained status in society, they unveiled themselves in public. The number of followers of this religion is more than 2 million with more than half of the followers outside Brazil which is an astonishing fact as it was practiced in secret, mainly in Brazil.
The only thing that I want to write as a conclusion is at the end all the religion tells us one thing: love all beings. So let us stop fighting, accept each other as they are and make earth a better place to live, After all, diversity is what makes our world an interesting place to be in.