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The religions portal

Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that generally involve a faith in a spiritual nature and a study of inherited ancestral traditions, knowledge and wisdom related to understanding human life. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to faith as well as to the larger shared systems of belief.

In the larger sense, religion is a communal system for the coherence of belief--typically focused on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion can also be described as a way of life.

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. "Organized religion" generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity (see religion-supporting organization). Other religions believe in personal revelation and responsibility. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system," but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

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Our Lady of Vladimir (12th century)
The Eastern Orthodox Church is a Christian body that views itself as the historical continuation of the original Christian community established by Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, preserving the traditions of the early church unchanged, accepting the canonicity of the first seven ecumenical councils held between the 4th and the 8th centuries, and maintaining the unbroken link between its clergy and the Apostles by means of Apostolic Succession.

The Orthodox Church is organized into numerous autocephalous "jurisdictions" or "particular churches", the largest single one of which in terms of membership is the Russian Orthodox Church. Other major jurisdictions include the Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian churches. Each of these has its own synod of bishops to act as governors. The Orthodox Church holds the Patriarch of Constantinople to be the first among equals among the Orthodox episcopacy.

Based on the numbers of adherents, Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church, and the third largest grouping if Protestantism is counted as a whole. Estimates of the number of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide range from 50 million to 350 million, with 220 million being one of the most commonly cited figures.

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Lotus with Soal
Credit: Vaikunda Raja

Lotus with Soul is the symbol of Ayyavazhi, a monistic religion, originated in South India in the mid 19th century, centred on Ayya Vaikundar and on his life and teachings as present in Ayyavazhi scriptures.

Selected religious figure or deity

Patañjali as an incarnation of Adi Sesha
Patañjali (Devan?gar? ?) is the compiler of the Yoga Sutra, a major work containing aphorisms on the philosophical aspects of mind and consciousness, and also the author of a major commentary on Panini's Ashtadhyayi, although many scholars do not consider these two texts to have been written by the same individual. In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and the philosophical basis of the Yoga movement for health and harmonizing bodymind. "Yoga" in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a rigorous system of meditation practice, ethics, metaphysics, and devotion to the one common soul, God, or Brahman.

Desiring to teach yoga to the world, he is said to have fallen (pat-) from heaven into the open palms (-añjali) of a woman, hence the name Patañjali.

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  • ...that Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed religions, and was the state religion of three great Iranian empires?

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Zilu (an impetuous disciple of Confucius) asked how one should serve ghosts and spirits. The Master said, "Till you have learnt to serve men, how can you serve ghosts?" Zilu then ventured upon a question about the dead. The Master said, "Till you know about the living, how are you to know about the dead?"
-- Analects, XI. 11.

Selected scripture

Aesthetic photograph of a modern copy of the Qur'?n
The Qur'?n (Arabic: al-qur'?n, literally "the recitation"; also called al-qur'?n al-kar?m "The Noble Qur'?n"; also transliterated as Quran, Koran, and Al-Quran), is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur'?n, in its original Arabic, to be the literal word of God that was revealed to Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years until his death, and believe it to be God's final revelation to humanity. Muslims regard the Qur'?n as a continuation to other divine messages that have started with those revealed to Adam - the first prophet - and including Suhuf-i-Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham/Ibrahim), the Tawrat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms), and the Injil (Gospel), in between. The aforementioned books are recognized in the Qur'?n, but directs Muslims to follow the Qur'?n--the last and final message, being completely untainted with God promising to protect it: "Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)".

The Qur'anic verses were originally memorized by Muhammad's companions as Muhammad recited them, with some being written down by one or more companions on whatever was at hand, from stones to pieces of bark. The collection of the Qur'?n compilation took place under the Caliph Abu Bakr, this task being led by Zayd ibn Thabit Al-Ansari. "The manuscript on which the Quran was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with 'Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa bint Umar (Umar's daughter)."

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