Analyse the salience of ‘sect’ in Indian society vis-a-vis caste, region and religion. (Answer in 250 words) 15M

Sects and cults are smaller religious groups that either follow a traditional religion or have unique beliefs based on different religious principles.

Sects are subgroups of a larger faith, such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and others.

Sects can also refer to religious groups that have broken away from a mainstream religion and established their own practices and beliefs.

In contrast, cults are social groups that share uncommon spiritual, philosophical, or religious beliefs to achieve a particular interest or goal in life.

Salience of ‘sect’ vis-a-vis Caste

Sects promote a sense of unity and common purpose among their members, often arising during times of societal change.

With increasing socio-economic status, sub-castes in India such as Gujjars, Jats, and Patidars are asserting their influence in political and social spheres.

Despite improvements in the status of sub-castes, cultural and homogeneity practices persist and cannot be considered fully modernizing.

Salience of ‘sect’ vis-a-vis Region

Sects can also arise from geographic and cultural factors. For example, the Gaddis, a hill tribe, have a nomadic lifestyle, while the Shaikh community is a Muslim group found in North Indian states, divided into four main sections: Siddiqi, Farooq, Usmani, and Abbasi.

In Maharashtra, various sects emerged due to inequality in religious practices among different sections of society, Muslim invasions, and political dominance of Muslim rulers over Hindu society.

Salience of ‘sect’ vis-a-vis Religion

Hinduism comprises four major denominations: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. These denominations differ primarily in the deity worshipped as the Supreme Being and in the traditions accompanying worship.

Muslims have several sects based on their interpretation of Islamic law (fiqh) and history, resulting in two main divisions: Sunni and Shia.

Buddhism has two major sects: Mahayana and Hinayana.

Christianity has two major sects: Catholics and Protestants. Catholics are often considered traditionalists while Protestants are viewed as reformists. The main point of division is the question of the Church’s authority.

Indian society has evolved from the Indus civilization to the present-day globalized world.

Throughout this journey, Indian society has undergone numerous transformations under the influence of external factors and internal reform movements. However, what is noteworthy is that it has managed to embrace various elements while preserving its past.

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