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BSOE-145: Religion and Society

BSOE-145: Religion and Society

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BSOE-145/ASST /TMA /2022-23

Course Code: BSOE-145

Assignment Name: Religion and Society

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status:Verified by Professor

Assignment One


Answer the following Descriptive Category questions in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks. 2 x20=40


1. What is sociology of religion? How is it different from philosophy of religion and theology?

Ans) Due to the fact that religion is a social phenomenon, sociologists consider religion to be an important area of study. A sociologist also focuses on topics and queries that philosophers and theologians typically do not address. Focusing on the connections between religion and other social phenomena like politics, economics, science, and technology, sociologists of religion study these relationships. Those who taught that "religion need not be a force to be feared nor a dogma to be embraced, but simply a way of life" are honoured in a recent book on religion by Lawsoh and MacCauley. As a way of life, religion makes a great subject for sociological study. The study of religious beliefs, practises, and organisational structures through sociological methodologies and tools is known as sociology of religion. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques may be used in this impartial study.


Sociology of Religion Differs from Philosophy of Religion and Theology


Theology, philosophy of religion, and sociology of religion cannot all be categorically distinguished from one another. This is due to the fact that they focus on the study of a single social reality—religion—and no social reality can be divided into individual components like atoms. When we try to distinguish various disciplines, we do it based on their emphasis and particular problems. To be more precise, despite differences in focus and topics of analytical interest among sociology of religion, philosophy of religion, and theology, all three disciplines have a lot to offer the growth of the others. Let's see how their areas of interest and areas of focus differ.


Religion and sociology do not address the question of deity. Instead, sociology of religion inquires as to the motivations behind people's religious beliefs. The sociologist cannot judge whether it is moral or evil to sacrifice goats or buffaloes to gods. To be more accurate, the sociology of religion does not study the question of "what ought to be?" The goal of a sociologist is a sociological analysis of religion, not a religious analysis of society, one should keep in mind.


Religion philosophy is distinct from the aforementioned. There are several subfields of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. In general, the study of the abstract is known as metaphysics. A philosopher or religion must infer justifications for and against the presence of god in their capacity as metaphysicians. The study of the "foundation" of knowing is called epistemology. A philosophy of religion therefore analyses the possibility of knowing god through a variety of techniques in their capacity as epistemologists. A philosopher of religion focuses on the connections between religion and morality or ethics as well. Theology deviates from both of the aforementioned. Theologians must be Christians.


By examining the religion of its adherents, they try to comprehend the nature of divine entities and hold the belief that there is a god. Theologians attempt to comprehend the existence of the divine and his purposes by examining how humans perceive him. Theologians are respected members of the clergy. Hindu and Muslim theologians are two examples of theologians who are interested in comparing the two religions' belief systems, but who are closer to their own faith than the other. Theology also includes examining the validity of a certain religion's beliefs. According to Scharf, a sociologist focuses on "specific experiences of particular societies," whereas a theologian rests their interpretation of religion on the human experience as a whole.


2. Examine the concept of religion as understood in the Western world.

Ans) It is also true that the majority of Hindus from upper castes and classes, as well as Muslims and persons who have converted from top castes to become Christians, continue to view caste hierarchy and inequality as a situation that is divinely decreed.


In this regard, albeit not in a scriptural or philosophical sense, civil regulations do intrude on some customs that were approved by culture and to a considerable extent by popular Hinduism. For instance, devout Hindus from upper castes were frequently obligated to wed off their young daughters as a result of religious law, but the Hindu Marriage Act set the consent age for girls at 18 years old. Numerous Hindus, including professors, objected as well to the Hindu Marriage Act's inclusion of monogamy. Hindus engaged in widespread polygyny, or taking multiple wives, as well as polyandry, or having multiple husbands for one woman.


Both of these customs are mentioned in older Hindu writings. In contrast to Muslims, Hindu males were not constrained by their religion to only take four wives; instead, they were free to take as many women as they desired or were able to. However, the majority of upper caste and Hindu political luminaries who had a say in the Constitution's creation promoted monogamy to distinguish themselves and other Hindus as "civilised," not according to religious but according to the western cultural norms that had colonised the nation.


It is common knowledge that high status men who received the majority of their education in the West in the nation that conquered them made up the political elite that fought for India's independence. The British attempt to develop brown-skinned British subjects failed because many of them grew up to be strong, autonomous people who understood their rights to freedom and equality. This political elite's main goal was to demonstrate to the conquerors that they were on par with them in terms of civilisation, in addition to gaining freedom. This was done to refute the colonising narrative that the goal of colonisation was to 'civilise' the supposedly barbaric locals.


The Islamic regulations, such as the potential of having four wives and the ability to give one's wife a divorce by just saying the word Talaq three times, were maintained, nonetheless, in order to respect cultural and religious diversity. It wasn't until long later that these laws came under internal attack. Recently, the current right-wing leadership banned and outlawed the triple talaq practise. Muslim males have loudly denounced it as an assault on their identity, but many women have quietly accepted it.


Additionally, the native groups were permitted to continue using their traditional laws for all social and legal matters. However, many women in this country, particularly those from extremely patriarchal communities like the Nagas, voice their displeasure at being ruled by their customary laws rather than by the Indian civil law, which accords women equal inheritance rights.


The Constitution Amendment Act, which was unveiled at the end of 2019, has, however, sparked many objections and disclaimers. The primary criticism of it is that it uses a person's faith as a criterion for citizenship approval. Although it explicitly targets refugees and immigrants, its hidden objective is perceived as slyly aiming at all Muslims, particularly the weaker members of the community. This topic has also been the subject of a heated discussion. However, what it reveals is the development of a moral cosmos that uses religion as a referent. The most essential tenet of secularism is that it derives its moral authority from a worldview that is founded on universal humanism rather than on any particular religion.


Assignment Two


Answer the following Middle Category questions in about 250 words each. Each question carries 10 marks. 3 X 10 = 30


3. Are Tribal religions on the wane? Discuss.

Ans) Under intense external pressure, however, a significant amount of the priceless knowledge and essential traditions are being lost. The power disparity between outsiders and the tribes had caused the latter to adopt an attitude of apathy for their own beliefs during both internal and external colonisation of the tribal territories and resources. After being mocked and despised by missionaries and Hindu preachers for their tribal traditions and beliefs, as the tribes started to lose their lands and their culture to outsiders, they also started to believe that their own gods couldn't save them. Many of them converted to Hinduism or started to alter their lifestyles in order to imitate the wealthy because they thought the gods of the foreigners, or the "white people," of the upper caste Hindus, were more powerful.


With the deterioration of the ecosystem come the ideas that were upheld by a harmonious relationship with the environment. The sacred entities who lived there or who were themselves sacred have vanished along with the mountains, rivers, and forests. For instance, every deodar tree is revered as a god by the Jads, yet the gods are no longer there as a result of the clearing of the forests. The Sarna festival was once celebrated by the Mundas of Central India around the Sarna tree, but even in Jharkhand today, Sarna trees are becoming scarce, making it impossible for people to observe the celebration as it was once done.


Many tribes, especially those that have received education and exposure, have started to resurrect some of the outdated religious practises and beliefs as a result of realising the loss of their identity and resources. For instance, many young people from the Munda community in Delhi have started to celebrate the Sarna festival there. Where, though, would they obtain the Sarna tree? Therefore, in this circumstance, they pretend that a branch is a tree. However, because the Sarna tree is now rarely visible, the ritual's true value, which was centred around the preservation and propagation of the tree and had significant environmental benefits, has been lost.


4. Examine the social order in Buddhism..

Ans) One is not obliged to follow any creed in order to join the Buddhist organisation. In one section of the initiation ritual, he says:


I want shelter from the Buddha.

I turn to the law for protection

I turn to the Order for protection.


Buddha advised his devoted followers to give up the conventional civil life since it was challenging to follow the Eight Fold Path in such a life. As a result, there are two basic categories of Buddhist followers: lay disciples and members of monastic communities.


A monastic community member is required to give up their family, job, and social life in order to live alone, either as an anchorite or as a member of a monastic community. This monastic community has strict regulations, including basic housing, three-piece clothing, and shaven heads and beards. He has to eat by begging and refrain from eating meat. The Ten Commandments must be followed in the monastic life. They must abstain from using garlands, perfumes, and salves; utilising large and broad couches; taking money and silver; and from killing, stealing, being unchaste, lying, intoxicants, solid food after noon, dancing, music, and theatrical performance.


The smallest elements of the monastic life are also included. A monk is required to examine his conscience twice a month using a list of around 250 offences from the Pratimoksha, the oldest Buddhist text. This heart-searching is conducted via uparasatha. Anyone can join the monastic order, if they are free from restrictions based on caste, the sins of parricide, etc., a serious illness, and a lack of personal freedom.


The Buddha also provided certain guidelines for laypeople. They are counselled to live moral lives "in accordance with the requirements of the moment, and to fulfil all duties towards parents, instructors, wives, children, servants, subordinates, and ascetics." He offered the lay disciples five commandments. They are instructed to abstain from using drugs, lying, stealing, killing, and being unchaste. Although the layperson could not achieve the highest level of redemption with these recommended techniques, it would assist them in obtaining a favourable reincarnation on this planet.


5. Discuss socio-religious reform in Sikhism..

Ans) Various Sikhism sects have developed as a result of these movements. We will only explore two to three socio-religious movements in this part.


The Nirankari Movement

When Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled the Punjab, the first indications of the Sikh faith's divergence were seen. The Nirankari Movement's founder, Baba Dayal, was the first Sikh religious reformer to preach against the vices that had gradually crept into Sikh social and religious life. He urged his followers to worship one Nirankar and preached against idolatry, the worship of graves, tombs, and trees, as well as other intricate Brahmanical rites and customs. Although Baba Dayal was able to gather a sizable following of adherents known as "Nirankaris" due to their devotion to a single Nirankar and their observance of Sikh rituals for birth, death, marriage, and other social occasions, his movement was unable to have a significant impact on the Sikh masses because they lacked an educational awakening.


The Namdhari Movement

The Kuka Movement is the common name for the Namdhari Movement. The movement, which was founded by Bhagat Jawaharmal and Baba Balak Singh, flourished among the Sikhs under the leadership of one of the latter's pupils, Baba Ram Singh. Baba Ram Singh specifically commanded his disciples to worship one God by praying and engaging in meditation. All of his followers were urged to be actively involved in worshipping God at all times by the Rehatnamas he created and enforced. In addition, he promoted the straightforward and affordable Anand Marriage while preaching against social ills including the caste system, infanticide, early marriage, and bartering of girls in marriage.


Akali Movement

Akalis are historically the soldiers who serve in the suicide squads of the Sikh armies, which initially formed around 1690 AD when the 10th Guru of the Sikhs was obliged to use violence against the Mughals as a result of their ongoing persecution of them and the execution of his two predecessors. The Akalis, who typically dress in blue, are also known as Nihangs. The Akali movement was once more revitalised in the 1920s as a group of semi-military volunteers formed to challenge the British authority.

Assignment Three


Answer the following Short Category questions in about 100 words each. Each question carries 6 marks. 5 X 6 = 30


6. Distinguish between denomination and sect.

Ans) A sect is an offshoot of a religion or denomination, whereas a denomination is a subgroup within a religion that has a shared name, tradition, and identity.

  1. Membership: A denomination has a larger number of members than a sect.

  2. Acceptance: Furthermore, a denomination is more accepted and geographically wider spread than a sect.

  3. Time Period: Denominations usually have a longer history than sects. Although most sects die out quickly, a sect may reach the status of a denomination if it gains more members and receives acceptance among people.


Examples: Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, and the varieties of Protestantism are denominations of Christianity whereas Community of the Lady of All People, the Philippine Independent Church, the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, and Most Holy Family Monastery are some sects within the Roman Catholic Church.


7. Describe the element of caste in Islam in the Indian context.

Ans) Although Indian Muslims are split along caste lines, these divides cannot be considered to constitute castes in the traditional meaning of the word. These categories are based on the occupations that each group engages in. Different groups are distinguished based on the occupations they pursue, as opposed to the caste system, where the group specifies the occupation.


Aside from this trait, Muslims do not exhibit other caste-related traits like endogamy, hierarchy, untouchability, purity, or pollution. However, some sociologists in India contend that caste-based divisions exist in Muslim society, citing Syed Sheikh, Mughal, and Pathan as examples. Additionally, they believe that Muslim society has caste-like characteristics. Despite the absence of a caste structure among Muslims, their social groups exhibit caste-like characteristics.


8. What is secularisation?

Ans) In sociology, secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions. The secularization thesis expresses the idea that as societies progress, particularly through modernization, rationalization, and advances in science and technology, religious authority diminishes in all aspects of social life and governance.


In recent years, the secularization thesis has been challenged due to some global studies indicating that the irreligious population of the world may be in decline as a percentage of the world population due to irreligious countries having sub replacement fertility rates and religious countries having higher birth rates in general. Christian sociologist Peter L. Berger coined the term desecularization to describe this phenomenon. In addition, secularization rates are stalling or reversing in some countries/regions such as the countries in the former Soviet Union or large cities in the Western World with significant amounts of religious immigrants.


9. Describe the main causal factors of communal riots?

Ans) We now turn to examine other causes of recent riots in communities as part of our discussion of the topic. As Ghosh notes, there have been many justifications put up for the existence and perpetuation of communal riots. Which are:


Riots are a necessary aspect of development in a developing nation. The proletariat class's unity is weakened if the class fight is transformed into a communal conflict. Additionally, the middle and lower classes have grown stronger politically and economically, and they now frequently make their presence felt. Riots are caused by economic disputes, like in Bihar Sharif and Bhiwandi.


The goals and course of sectarian violence are determined by electoral politics, like in Delhi in 1986.


These justifications cannot be taken as legally enforceable or as being both necessary and sufficient. After the riots has started, economic reasons frequently surface. Again, in a developing society, economic considerations when one lags behind the other or is competitive might cause a riot. The same is true for political causes that are reductionist. The notion of political manipulation occurring behind the scenes might not be true.


10. Differentiate between Shia and Sunni.

Ans) Islam has two main branches: the Shia and the Sunni. This split in the religion comes down to a political and spiritual difference of opinion about who should have succeeded Muhammad after his death in 632 CE. Major tenets and beliefs are often similar between the two branches because Sunnis and Shias are both Muslims, but some important differences exist.


The primary ideological difference relates to questions of religious authority and the leadership of all Muslims following the death of the Prophet. Those who followed the Prophet’s closest companion Abu Bakr became known as Sunni the followers of the Prophet’s example – Sunnah. Those who followed the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali’ became known as Shi’a (the followers of the Party of ‘Ali – Shi’atu Ali. Sunnis focus on following the Prophet’s example whereas Shi’a focus on the lineage of Muhammad’s family through a series of Imams.

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