What Is The Oldest Religion In The World?
History & Classics  

It is incredibly hard to pinpoint the founding date of any religion. However, it is generally believed that Hinduism is one of the world's oldest religions.


A religion can be defined as a set of practices relating to matters of spirituality. However, there is no universal agreement among scholars over the definition of a religion. These religious practices include feats, initiations, music, dance, art, and others. In total, there are around 10,000 religions in the world. However, a huge chunk of these religions, around 84%, falls within one of the five major religious groups of the world namely Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or traditional religions. Hinduism is widely regarded as being the oldest religion.
The World's Oldest Religion
There is a lot of debate revolving around this topic that makes it difficult to determine with certainty the oldest religion in the world. Despite the debate, it is widely accepted that Hinduism is the oldest with its founding believed to go as far back as 2300 BCE.
With a following of approximately 900 million people, Hinduism is third in terms of popularity in the world. Most of the people who practice the religion, around 95%, live in India. Since the founder of the religion cannot be traced, it is extremely difficult to find out information about its correct age. To add to the problem, Hinduism is a collection of several religions. For this reason, it is sometimes described as the way of life instead of just one religion. Despite having multiple religions within it, the followers worship one deity, Brahman, although other deities are not disregarded. Due to the collection of several religions, it is no surprise that Hinduism has a number of religious texts including the Rig Veda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, the Atharvaveda, the Bhagavad Gita, and others.
History of the Hindu Religion
Scholars believe that the religion began in the Indus Valley, which is close to present-day Pakistan. However, Hindus say that the religion has always been present. An indigenous tribe and the Indo-Aryan folk (who moved to the valley around 1500 BCE) inhabited the Indus Valley in the past. The Veda period, which was between 1500 BCE and 500 BCE, saw a number of practices such as chanting and offering sacrifices. The worship of other deities happened from 500 BCE to 500 CE where the people worshipped other deities such as Shiva, Devi, and Vishnu. Experts believe that other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism are based on Hinduism.
Ancient Hinduism
The ancient period began around 500 CE and ended around 1500 CE. This period saw the emergence of a lot of religious text. However, a lot of the rich history of the religion was destroyed in modern periods when Muslim Arabs began encroaching upon Indian land from the 7th century. The invaders prevented Hindus from worshipping and destroyed many of their temples.
Other Ancient Religions
Judaism is in the second place after its founding much later in 609 BCE. Other religions in the top five are Zoroastrianism (600 BCE), Buddhism (563 BCE), and Confucianism (551 BCE). Islam is the youngest on this list after its establishment in 570 CE. Christianity, which is the world’s most popular religion, is relatively young after its establishment in 1 CE.


What is the Oldest Religion in the World?
Rank Religion Approximate Year of Founding
1 Hinduism 2300 BCE
2 Judaism 609 BCE
3 Zoroastrianism 600 BCE
4 Buddhism 563 BCE
5 Confucianism 551 BCE
6 Jainism 527 BCE
7 Shinto 300 BCE
8 Christianity 1 CE
9 Taoism 142 CE
10 Islam 570 CE




More in History & Classics
The Ancient Origins of Diwali, India’s Biggest Holiday

Every year around October and November, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, or Deepavali—a festival of lights that stretches back more than 2,500 years....

1 week ago . 15 views

Was Abraham Lincoln an Atheist?

Every U.S. president has been a member of a church, except for one: Abraham Lincoln.    

1 week ago . 15 views

3400-Year-Old Ancient Palace Revealed After Reservoir Dries Up In Iraq

After water levels fell in drought-hit Kurdistan, locals found remains of a 3400-year-old palace.  

2 weeks ago . 17 views

Did Shakespeare Really Smoke Weed? Here’s What Science Says

Did William Shakespeare ever light up a bowl? While there isn’t a clear answer to this question, research published in 2015 indicates that he may have at on...

2 weeks ago . 19 views

Sam Manekshaw, the general who told Indira when Indian Army wasn’t rea...

On his 11th death anniversary, ThePrint takes a look at the military career of Sam Manekshaw and anecdotes and myths surrounding him.

2 weeks ago . 29 views



Thought of the day

When you cease to dream you cease to live.