Which is the oldest religion in the world?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 27, 2012

Answer Podcast

Kindly enlighten whether there is any source as to which is the oldest religion on the world?

For most of the religion of the world there is a clearly defined historical event , associated with the historical personality who founded that religion. for example islam was founded by the prophet mohammed around 1400 years ago, christianity was founded by Jesus 2000 years ago, buddhism was founded 2500 years ago, Jainism has a similar date, now these are the four, apart from that that is Judaism, which scholars say around 1500 BC with various estimates of before and after, among various scholars, but beyond these if we look at the vedic tradition, there is not distinctive event or person whom the vedic tradition began. In fact if we let the vedic tradition speak for itself like Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam, BG 4:1 that the teachings that He give, they are right from the beginning of the creation. In BG 3 :10 saha-yajñāḥ prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā, purovāca prajāpatiḥ, anena prasaviṣyadhvam, eṣa vo ’stv iṣṭa-kāma-dhu, Lord Krishna says, I hear actually that this knowledge was given by Lord of all creatures whenever there the creation came forth, so as to guide people how to live. So from the scriptural point of view, the vedic tradition, is not historically beginning at t particular date, but rather is co existent with creation, it begins with creation, in that sense the vedic tradition is the oldest. Now from the historical point of view, the vedic tradition today known as hinduism, hinduism itself as a word has a date, the word was used by the islamic invaders who came to India, they called it Sindhu, the land and the practices the people of the other side of the sindhu river, and that’s how the name hindu eventually came up. but if you look at the cultural practices associated with Vedic tradition date back to Millennia and the mohenjodaro and the harappa, these artifacts goes thousands of years into BC. Similarly, the vedic literature talks about the saraswati river, and the saraswati river has been rediscovered, by US probes under the Rajasthan thar desert, as a river that was existing and then disappeared, even now there is a relatively small river called khagar, relatively small , not very small, but relatively small compared to the vastness of the saraswati which is described in the scriptures. That is even now existing, \and whose path and location more or less matches the description of saraswati’s location in the rig veda. For more archeological and historical analysis of the antiquity of the vedic tradition, you can refer to the book ” searching for the vedic India”by his holiness Devamrita swami, who has done extensive research, who was a graduate from Yale university in America m before he adopted the vedic practices, and that uses lot of evidence, but at the same time, the vedic dharma is not only the oldest but it is also eternally relevant. Just like the sun is there for a long time, but just because it is old , or because it is new , does not make it relevant or irrelevant, the sun is also essential for us, so the vedic wisdom is like the sun, and it is available for us and in fact that all the different religions are like different suns, all the religions come from God and it is the same God who , aqs Krishna promises, Yada yada hi darmasya…….that when ever and where ever there is recline of religions, I come, so sometimes Krishna himself comes, and sometimes he sends his representatives. So the fact that the vedic tradition is the oldest is not a matter that should inflate our ego but rather it should make us feel privileged and honoured that we are recipients of the worlds most ancient tradition, and that tradition has lived through out the tribulations of history for thousands of years and is eternally available for us, even now. So rather than becoming proud that we have the oldest religion, rather we should understand what is the message of God that is given, practice it and share it with others.

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Chaitanya Charan

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