RELIGION AND SOCIETY
IGNOU BSOE 145 Solved Free Assignment
BSOE 145 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Explain the Intellectual theories of religion.
Ans. Ideas about the origins and development of religions were initially based on missionary accounts and primitive man’s adventures into the nature of religion.
Comte (1908) adopted this theory and wrote that in due course fetishism would be replaced by polytheism.
The Nature-Myth School: The German school deals with Indo-European religions. He established that the ancient gods were generally human fictions of natural phenomena.
The main initiator is the German linguist Max Miller. He believes that large natural objects give a sense of infinity. At the same time, these objects act as symbols of infinity.
In Mill’s view, there is awe, surprise, and fear between man and nature. Early humans were unable to understand or explain the natural world.
They ended up worshiping him out of fear and awe. Muller argues that we can study the religions of early humans by examining the linguistic etymological meanings of god names and the legends associated with them.
The Ghost Theory: Herbert Spencer and Edward Tylor focus on the religious behaviour of primitive people. They believed that primitive societies provided evidence for earlier forms of religion.
Their views on primitive beliefs are very similar. Spencer published his views in 188, eleven years after Tylor published his book ‘Primitive Culture’ in 1871.
Spencer’s views appear to have been independently formulated long before they were published. Spencer (1876-96) discussed primitive beliefs for much of his book ‘The Principles of Sociology’.
It shows that the primitives are rational, but the amount of knowledge is limited. According to Spencer, primitive people saw the appearance of dead people in dreams as evidence of a temporary afterlife.
This led to the concept of supernatural beings in the form of ghosts. According to Spencer, the idea of ghosts became the idea of gods, and the ghosts of ancestors became gods. Spencer concluded that ancestor worship is the root of all religions.
The Soul Theory or Animism: According to Tylor, let a primitive man think about the existence of an immaterial force, the soul. This idea of the soul is then projected onto non-human or even inanimate objects.
Tylor’s theory of the soul has divine death, illness, and dreams led primitive people to believe in the existence of an immaterial entity.
Tylor’s student Andrew Lang (1844-1912) criticised Tylor’s religious theory. Lang argues that the concept of God could not have come from reflection on dreams and “ghosts” because the two “have completely different origins.
Q. 2. Discuss the development of sociology of religion.
Ans. Classical sociologists such as Durkheim and Weber studied the meaning of religion in different ways. Three movements can be observed in the sociology of religion:
Sociological interest in religion emerged after the “discovery” of pre-modern society by merchant travelers, missionaries, and colonialists. Here, both anthropologists and sociologists seem to be interested in religion.
After the Industrial Revolution in Europe, sociological interest in religion gained momentum. The Industrial Revolution was accompanied by the collapse of feudalism in the 15th century.
Researchers in this movement is more interested in analyzing the “fate” of religion in the industrial world.
The sociological interest in religion is evident in studies that trace the development of religious revivalism in late- industrial and early post-industrial societies. Researchers in this movement are analyzing why religion exists.
Pre-Modern Societies: In the early days of the development of the sociology of religion, interest was mainly focused on the study of the origin and evolution of religion.
Edward B. Tylor (1881) and Herbert Spencer (1882) can be called intellectuals because they believed that pre-modern man had to develop religion to explain the phenomena of dreams, echoes, and death.
They argue that religion may disappear if its explanatory function is replaced by science. Durkheim’s interpretation of religion includes the social dimension and functional necessities.
Durkheim argues that religion has existed since ancient times, albeit in different forms; because it fulfilled a specific function for society – the main function being the “integration” of society.
Some of these functionalist arguments have been confirmed, elaborated, and reconstructed by many scholars including Radcliffe- Brown (1952), Talcott Parsons (1954), and Milton Yinger (1957).
Industrial Societies-Generalized Map of World Religions: Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Weber (1864-1920) were two important scholars who gave detailed explanations of religion in industrial societies.
According to Marx, religion is a part of the superstructure (in a broad sense, the world of ideas), which is only a reflection of the foundation (in a broad sense, the mode of production composed of production relations and productive forces).
There has always been a wide-ranging debate among Marxist and non-Marxist scholars as to whether basic or material conditions can determine the superstructure or domain of thought.
While Max Weber agreed that religion would eventually die out, he demonstrated the power of religious thought as a developing force.
Religious Revivalism: More recently, fundamentalist Protestant denominations in the United States have continued to grow.
There is a religious revival in many Asian countries, and religion is increasingly becoming a tool of political mobilization. At the same time, in some Latin American countries, Christianity has become a tool of resistance to exploitation.
Some scholars put forward doubt about whether religion will disappear from human history. They analyzed evidence of religious rituals and forms of belief in so-called secular systems, such as the state, communism, and nationalism.
Precisely, no one should be surprised if communism is analyzed as a religion.
Q. 3. Discuss the concept of supreme God among tribes.
Ans. Evolutionists and early observers of the Aboriginal community often mocked the tribes for believing in lesser deities and supernatural beings and knowing nothing about higher abstract deities.
However, tribal ethnography shows that most indigenous peoples had ideas of a higher reality and were as philosophically oriented as anyone else (Radin 1927).
As Khongreiwo (2014:67) points out, the pre-Christian Naga concept of God is almost identical to the Christian concept of divinity.
Known in the local language as Ameoa, Kasa Akhavan, or Varivara, the god is cold, kind, inaccessible, and located in a distant celestial realm.
Most Naga ceremonies target more approachable, living souls rather than distant deities. Likewise, the Jad Bhotiyas of Uttarakhand (Channa 2013) had an overarching concept of an all-encompassing deity who was seen as a creator, but who was benevolent and did not interfere with people too much.
Todas of Nilgirishave is a supreme goddess who is the parent of the Toda lineage and the sacred Toda cow.
In this way, tribes are not much different from other religious groups that, while believing in an all-encompassing God, prefer to worship his many manifestations.
The Supreme God is also often described as male or female or as an entity with certain characteristics.
Q. 4. Discuss the soul theory of religion.
Ans. Many cultures have recognized some incorporeal principle of human life or existence corresponding to the soul, and many have attributed souls to all living things.
There is evidence even among prehistoric peoples of a belief in an aspect distinct from the body and residing in it.
Despite widespread and longstanding belief in the existence of a soul, however, different religions and philosophers have developed a variety of theories as to its nature, its relationship to the body, and its origin and mortality.
Ancient Greek concepts of the soul varied considerably according to the particular era and philosophical school. The Epicureans considered the soul to be made up of atoms like the rest of the body.
For the Platonists, the soul was an immaterial and incorporeal substance, akin to the gods yet part of the world of change and becoming.
Aristotle’s conception of the soul was obscure, though he did state that it was a form inseparable from the body.
Also add: According to Tylor, let a primitive man think about the existence of an immaterial force, the soul. This idea of the soul is then projected onto non-human or even inanimate objects.
Tylor’s theory of the soul has divine and supernatural elements. These spirits later became gods, Tylor said.
They have superpowers and decide the fate of mankind. Swanton (1924: 358-68) criticised Tylor for developing an unprovable theory of causality.
Tylor claimed that the experience of death, illness, and dreams led primitive people to believe in the existence of an immaterial entity. Tylor’s student Andrew Lang (1844-1912) criticised Tylor’s religious theory.
Lang argues that the concept of God could not have come from reflection on dreams and “ghosts” because the two “have completely different origins”.
Q. 5. Explain the symbolic elements of religion.
Ans. Religion is a system of signs and symbols whose meaning is understood by members of the culture and the groups that make up the church of that religion since it is a part of the culture.
Symbols have collectively accepted but arbitrary meanings that are only understood in the context of the mythology and cosmology they stand for and contain. This is why symbols are symbols.
For instance, only Catholics can understand the significance of the cross, whereas Hindus may understand the meaning of the goddess Kali’s picture.
Other people who are not familiar with mythology could find the symbols offensive or crude.
According to Clifford Geertz, religious symbols are able to evoke extremely potent emotions and can also be translated into decisive actions due to their highly arbitrary nature and detachment from instrumentality.
Religious symbols can elicit powerful and enduring feelings and impulses exactly because of their emotions rather than their pragmatic context, as Geertz puts it.
The broadest and most potent symbols that provoke such a strong emotional response in the majority of churchgoers are what Ortner refers to as key symbols.
The key symbols are separated into two categories: generality and detail. In other words, those that pack a lot of significance into a small amount of time, such as a single pattern or icon, such as a cross or a flag, or a single image or sound, such as Om. Just as the totem reflects the entirety of the totemic clan’s spiritual meaning, the cross stands for the full philosophy of the Christian Church.
Extended symbols, which are broken down into fundamental metaphors and important scenarios, fully depict the entire meaning system.
Christianity is considered to be represented by the church, the Pope, and the Holy Land as root metaphors are those symbols that embody the central and most concise principles of any religion.
This would be a trip to Mecca and the Quran in the context of Islam. Key scenes are texts that explain what religion is really about.
For Hindus, the epic Ramayana serves as a significant narrative that encapsulates Hinduism’s core moral and ethical values.
Every element of rituals is symbolic, and the majority of rituals construct a symbolic cosmos to mirror the real one. Anthropologists, sociologists, and historians of religion have done extensive work in the field of religious symbols and symbolism.
Q. 6. What is cosmology?
Ans. Most cosmology is provided by myths, but some are taken for granted. For example, some tribes believed that the earth was carried by turtles.
Christians believe that the earth is the center of the universe and that all creation was created by God in six days.
As Tylor explains, life and death are the foundation of human curiosity, and understanding them is the foundation of all cosmology.
Belief in the Holy Spirit was coined by Tylor as the origin of animism and religious belief. A religion that worships natural elements as gods is called naturalism.
Some doctrinal religions, such as Islam and Christianity, prioritize humans, but many, including Hinduism, see non-human beings as an essential part of the universe.
Q. 7. How does secularism manifest as a value?
Ans. George Jacoab Holyoake coined the term secularism. He interpreted it as the only rational basis for political and social organization.
Holyoake questioned the religious foundations of civil society, proposing secularism as a state ideology that promotes human well-being through material means and a duty of service to others.
Secularism, as a progressive ideology, was a sine qua non for a liberal democracy after the French Revolution.
These connotations apply even to modern democracies today. A modern state, according to its liberal and democratic definitions and policies, does not discriminate against groups, classes, etc. in society regardless of religious affiliation.
Q. 8. What is communalism?
Ans. Communalism has been defined as a form of sectarian political mobilization that takes advantage of social traditions.
Thus, communalism is an ideology that a community or social group uses to achieve its socio-ecological and political aspirations.
As previously indicated, communalism in India had a colonial heritage, in which the (British) authorities used pre-existing religious tensions between various populations to their benefit.
India’s economic modernization after independence boosted economic opportunity, but not enough to reduce unhealthy competition. Sharing labor from a smaller pool of opportunities across multiple areas might give people heartburn.
On the brink of independence from colonial forces in 1947, the country split in two, resulting in horrifying communal violence.
Q. 9. What is caste?
Ans. Caste is a hereditary social institution based on the principles of endogamy, hierarchy, specialization, purity, and pollution. Full empathy prevails.
These limitations are explicit in the upper caste’s acceptance of food and
caste, their intercaste marriages, sexual relations, lower caste continuation or influential upper caste, etc. ink from lower Caste is based on the Hindu religious view of birth-rebirth and Karma.
In Hinduism caste groups are placed into a hierarchical order of pure and impure Ritual status within the four Varna.
There are thousands of Jatis among the Hindus each contributing to vertical differentiation and horizontal solidarity among the castes.
Q. 10. Distinguish between religion and magic.
Ans. According to Malinowski, the primitive people observe a clear distinction between the world of science and the world of magic and religion.
Both magic and religion belong to the area of sacred and are born and function amidst emotional tension. There exist certain differences such as:
(i) Magical acts are a means to an end, which must follow them. Religious acts are self-contained acts, performed in self- fulfilment.
(ii) The art of magic has a clearly marked and limited technique in which spell, rite and the magician are the main elements.
Religion has no such simple technique. It has many aspects and purposes and its rationale lies in the function of its belief and practice.
(iii) The magical belief concerns one’s simple faith in one’s power to bring about certain results on the basis of a particular spell. Religion concerns, on the other hand, with a whole range of supernatural powers.
(iv) Mythological tradition in religion is both complex and creative and focuses on tenets of belief. In magic, mythology centers around boastful accounts of what was in the beginning.
(v) Magical art is handed down, from generation to generation, from one magician to another, mostly in direct filiation (i.e. from father to son). Thus, it is confined to the specialists.
In religion everyone takes an active part, for example every member of the community has to go through initiation. Similarly everyone has to go through the act of mourning and in due course, the mourner has also to be mourned.