As Jared mentioned in the previous post’s overview of India, the population of India is 1.3 billion, making it the second largest population in the world. With so many people you would anticipate a diversity of cultures. It is estimated that within India there are 2,550 People Groups.
It is claimed that the Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
According to the Joshua Project — a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups with the fewest followers of Jesus Christ — the top five major religions practiced in India are:
- Hindu: 1.06 billion
- Muslim: 176 million
- Christian: 26 million
- Sikh: 22 million
- Buddhist: 8.7 million
- Other: 17.6 million
A Hindu Nation
Despite India’s cultural differences, and their Constitutional right for freedom of religion, India is more or less a Hindu nation. Of the 1.3 billion people in India, 1.07 billion are Hindus. This equates to approximately 81% of the population. What is interesting then, is that despite Hinduism being one religion, it claims 33 million gods. Therefore, even though this diverse nation is predominantly Hindu, Hinduism itself is very diverse. We will unpack the depths of India’s largest false religion in our next post.
In comparison, Christianity is the 3rd largest religion with 26 million people praising the one true God. This is only 2.0% of India’s population. Clearly, there is plenty of work to be done in India.
In addition, even though freedom of religion is a constitutional right, some states in India have recently passed anti-conversion laws making it a crime to convert a person from Hindu to another religion. The sole purpose of these local laws is to protect the dominance of the Hindu religion.
How can you partner?
First, pray. Pray that those in India would recognize that there is only One God — the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Pray that the two percent of Christians would be bold in proclaiming the gospel to the other 98% of the population who are living in spiritual darkness and hostility against the Lord.
“Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2)