Home

  News & Views

  Journal

  Seminars

  Publications

  I S C

  Research Projects

  About Us

  Contacts

 
 

BACK

Attitude Towards Religious Beliefs on Visits to Religious Places and Recting the Religous Scripts in a Punjab Village

Kuljinder Singh

The study by the young scholar needs more inputs but as a concept it is laudable. It may motivate others to adopt similar statistical analysis.

– Editor

Introduction
The root of the word ‘Religion’ is traced to Latin word ‘Religare’. In this word ‘Re’ means back and ‘Ligare’ means to bind. So the term religion is associated with being bound. According to The Dictionary of Sociology, “religion is a set of beliefs, symbols and practices. This is based on the idea of the sacred and which unites believers into a socio-religious community.”

The social behaviour of an individual depends to a great extent on his beliefs and attitudes. Reliable predictions about the social behaviour of individuals in different social situations can be made through the study of their beliefs and attitudes. The behaviour of individuals is determined not only by their immediately present stimuli but rather, it depends to a great extent on the more enduring psychological dispositions. Accordingly, in order to understand the social behaviour of individuals, it is essential to have a comprehensive knowledge about their patterns of thinking, that is, their beliefs and attitudes.

The beliefs and attitudes of man have a wide range. He can have a vast range of beliefs relating to the physical world as well as the super-natural world. The belief in super-natural world dates back to primitive times when the primitive man tried to explain the natural phenomena with the help of belief in supernatural powers. Another charactertic of beliefs is that different people may have a belief in the same thing but the contents of beliefs may differ. For example, Hindus and Christians both believe in god but the nature of cognitions about god differ in both of them.

A religious belief refers to a faith or creed concerning the super-natural or divine. It may concern the acceptance, nature and worship of a deity and divine involvement in the universal and human life. It may also relate to the values and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. Unlike other belief systems, religious beliefs tend to be codified. Religion is a fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a group of people. These set of beliefs concern the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe and involve certain moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Many Scholars are of the view that religion includes a belief in supernatural or mysterious powers and feeling of awe, fear and reverence. However, this characterization of religion excludes some of the elements which are thought of as essential to it, such as a belief in the immortality of the soul and belief in a god or gods. On the other hand, some Anthropologists and Sociologists are of the view that religion is something very earthly and materialistic, designed to achieve practical ends. According to Sumner and Keller, "Religion in history, from the earliest to the very recent days has not been a matter of morality at all but of rites, rituals, observance and ceremony." Ruth Benedict maintained that if religion appears to be spiritual in character, to be the source of virtue, morality and the good life, it is so because it appropriated these qualities from the concepts which were current in society and which were developed by it in the process of social life.

James G Frazer, in his multiple volume work “The Golden Bough” has given the largest collection of religious beliefs and practices of preliterate and folk societies. He considered religion as a belief in powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. He added that religion is chiefly an attempt by man to propitiate and conciliate those powers. On the other hand, W Robertson Smith maintained that religion is not a vague fear of unknown powers, nor the child of terror, but rather a relation of all the members of a community to a power that has the good of the community at heart, and protects its law and moral order.

MacIver has maintained that religion implies a relationship not between man and man but also between man and some higher power. Christopher Dawson opines that “Whenever and wherever man has a sense of dependence on external powers which are conceived as mysterious and higher than man's own, there is religion, and the feelings of awe and self-abasement with which man is filled in the presence of such powers is essentially a religious emotion, the root of worship and prayer.” Durkheim defines religion as “A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” Malinowski is the of view that “Religion is a mode of action as well as a system of belief and a sociological phenomenon as well as a personal experience.”

A perusal of the various definitions of religion indicates that a common characteristic found among all religions is that they depict certain beliefs and attitudes towards mysteries and perplexities of life. As such, religion consists of two main aspects, that is, beliefs and rituals. The present study is an attempt to investigate the beliefs in the visit to religious places and recitation of scriptures in a Punjab village.

The visit to religious places and recitation of scriptures are important indicators of the religious beliefs of an individual. Accordingly, the respondents of the present study were asked to mention the frequency of their visit to religious places and recitation of scriptures, and co-related with other independent variables such as Caste, Occupation and Land ownership.

Objectives of the present study:
a) To find out the religious beliefs in visits to religious places and recitation of religious scripture in different caste groups of a Punjab village.

b) To investigate the religious beliefs in visits to religious places and recitation of religious scripture among different social classes of a Punjab village.

Hypotheses
The following hypotheses have been put to test in the present study:

a) There are no differences in the religious beliefs of various caste groups.

b) Some differences in the religious beliefs are likely to be present in different classes.
Research Methodology

For the purpose of the present study, a village named 'Rurka' in Patiala district of Punjab has been purposively selected, keeping in view the convenience and resources of the investigator.

Sample
Stratified random sample was employed to select the sample. The stratifying variable is caste groups of the village. The sample comprised of two caste groups of village 'Rurka' which included 26 high caste and 24 Scheduled castes members. .

In the present study, the castes have been classified according to their traditional occupations. Agricultural castes have been taken as higher castes and scheduled castes have been placed in category of S.C. The distribution of the respondents in all the above mentioned categories is shown in Table I.

Distribution of Respondents According to their Caste
S. No Castes Frequency Percentage
1. High 26 53
2. Scheduled Caste 23 47
Total 49 100

Table I shows that the highest proportion of the respondents from the village under study came in the category of high caste (53%). Next to this category is that of scheduled castes (47%). The Jat Sikhs belong to the dominant caste in the village as most of the land in the village is owned by this caste group. Therefore, it has been included in the high caste category. Ramdassia and Balmiki castes have been included in scheduled caste (S.C.) group. They do not own any land. Some of the schedule caste families are working as agricultural labour, while a few are engaged in lower status services or small businesses.

Tools
Personal Data Sheet used by the investigator consisted of general information about the villager's age, caste, occupation, etc. The heads of the households included in the sample were interviewed with the help of a partially structured interview schedule. In addition to the interview technique, the non-participant observation technique was also used and detailed notes about the religious beliefs of various caste groups of the village were recorded. The list of households of the village was procured from the village Sarpanch who keeps this list with him for the purpose of Panchayat elections. The Sarpanch helped the investigator by telling the caste groups of all the households in the village

Attitude towards belief in visits to religious places and reciting the religious scriptures was correlated with caste, occupation, and land ownership.

Analysis and Interpretation
Religious Belief in Visits to Religious Places:
The visits to religious places are an important indicator of the religious beliefs of an individual. Accordingly, the respondents of the present study were asked to mention the frequency of their visit to religious places. The analysis of data revealed that about two-third of the respondents visited their religious places once a month while about one-fourth of them visited the religious places daily. Only 10% of the respondents mentioned that they paid these visits once in a week. The frequency of visits to religious places has been co-related with other independent variables and the analysis has been presented in the following tables.

The frequency of the visit to religious places has been co-related with caste category of the respondents and the analysis has been presented in the table given below:

Table II
The distribution of respondents according to their Caste and frequency of visit to Religious places:-
Response Total
Caste Once in a month Once in a week Daily
High 07 (25 ) 04 (14.2 ) 17(60.7) 28(100)
S Cs 20 (95) 01(4.7) 00(00) 21(100)
Total 27(55) 05(10.2) 17(34.6) 49 100)
* Figures in parantheses indicate percentages

The analysis of data presented in the pervious table indicates that about two-third of the respondents from high caste category visit the religious places daily. It is interesting to note that none of scheduled caste respondents pays a daily visit to the religious places. Almost all of them visit religious places once in a month. This shows that the religious faith of the lower caste groups is not so strong as compared to the higher caste groups. It might be due to the fact that the lower caste people have less time for religious activities.

The occupation of the respondents has also been co-related with frequency of their visit to religious places and the analysis has been presented in the following table.

Table III
The distribution of respondents according to their Occupation and frequency of visits to religious places.
Response Total
Occupation Once in a month Once in a week Daily
Owner Cultivator 00(0) 01(6.6) 14(93.3) 15 (100)
Agri Labour 20(100) 00(00) 00(00) 20(100)
Business/Job 07(50) 04(28.5) 03(21.4) 14(100)
Total 27(55.1) 05( 10.2) 17(34.6) 49(100)
* Figures in parantheses indicate percentages

The analysis of data presented in the foregoing table indicates that a very large majority (93.3%) of owner cultivators visit religious places daily whereas only 21.4% of those engaged in business / jobs pay daily visit. On the other hand, none of the agricultural labourers visit these places daily. A majority of them visit such places only once in a month. The respondents who did not visit the religious places daily mentioned that they did not have enough time for such visits due to the nature of their work.

The frequency of visits to religious places has also been co-related with the land ownership of the respondents and the analysis has been presented in the following table:

Table IV
The distribution of respondents according to their land ownership and visits to religious places
Response Total
Land Ownership Once in a month Once in a week Daily
Small Cultivation 00 (00) 00(00) 02(100) 02(100)
Medium Cultivation 02 (16.6) 02(16.6) 08(66.6) 12(100)
Large Cultivation 01 (11.1) 00(00) 08(88.8) 09(100)
Landless 22 (84.6) 02(7.6) 02(7.6) 26(100)
Total 25 (51) 04(8.1) 20(40.8) 49(100)
* Figures in parantheses indicate percentages

The analysis presented in the foregoing table reveals that a very high proportion of small, medium and large cultivators visit the religious places daily. On the other hand, a very high proportion of landless respondents (84.6%) visit religious places less frequently, that is, once a month.

Religious Belief in Recitation of Scriptures.
The recitation of scriptures is another significant indicator of the religious faith of an individual. The respondents of the present study were, therefore, asked to mention whether they recited the scriptures or not. The analysis of the data revealed that 49% of the respondents mentioned that they recited the scriptures whereas the remaining 51% did not recite the scriptures. The analysis has been carried further and the recitation of scriptures has been co-related with other independent variables. The analysis in this context has been presented in the following tables:

Table V
The distribution of respondents according to their Caste and Recitation of Scriptures
Response Total
Caste Yes No
High 20(76.9) 06(23) 26(100)
S Cs 04(17.3) 19(82.6) 23(100)
Total 24(48.9) 25(51) 49(100)
* Figures in parantheses indicate percentages

The analysis of data presented in the pervious table indicates that about three-fourths of the high caste respondents recite the scriptures. On the other hand, a significant majority of the respondents from the scheduled castes do not recite the scriptures. This finding is in conformity with the earlier finding that a very large majority of high caste respondents visit religious places daily.

The recitation of scriptures has been further co-related with the occupation of the respondents and the analysis has been presented in the following table.

Table VI
The distribution of respondents according to their Occupation and Recitation of Scriptures.

Response Total
Occupation Yes No
Owner Cultivator 13(76.4) 04(23.5) 17(100)
Agricultural Labour 05(41.6) 07(58.3) 12(100)
Business/Job 02(10) 18(90) 20(100)
Total 20(40.8) 29(59.1) 49(100)
*Figures in parantheses indicate percentages

The analysis of data presented in the pervious table indicates that about three-fourths of the owner cultivators recite the scriptures whereas this proportion is much lower in case of the other occupational groups. On the other hand, a very high proportion of respondents who are agricultural labourers or artisans do not recite the scriptures.

The recitation of scriptures was further co-related with the land ownership of the respondents and the analysis has been presented in the following table.

Table VII
The distribution of respondents according to their land ownership and Recitation of Scriptures.
Response Total
Land Ownership Yes No
Small Cultivators 00(00) 01(100) 01(100)
Medium Cultivators 05(50) 05(50) 10(100)
Large Cultivators 04(57.1) 03(42.8) 07(100)
Landless 10(32.2) 21(67.7) 31(100)
Total 19(38.7) 30(61.2) 49(100)
* Figures in parentheses indicate percentages

The analysis presented in the previous table indicates that a higher proportion of the medium and large cultivators recite scriptures as compared to small cultivators and landless respondents. This indicates that the poor class people generally do not recite scriptures.

Conclusion
The socio-economic profile of the respondents of the present study leads to the following facts.

1. The highest proportion of the respondents (53%) belonged to high caste category, closely followed by the scheduled castes (47. %).

2. About one fourth of the respondents visited the religious places daily while about two third of them visited these places once in a month. The lower castes, those engaged in business/jobs and landless respondents visited the religious places less frequently, that is, once in a month.

3. More than half of the respondents did not recite the scriptures. A higher proportion of agricultural labourers and artisans, less educated and economically weaker respondents did not recite the scriptures.

One hypothesis of the present study was that no differences are found in the religious beliefs of various caste groups. This hypothesis has not been validated by the data of present study. The data reveals that a higher proportion of lower caste groups does not visit religious places frequently and do not recite religious scriptures. This indicates that the lower castes do not have very strong religious beliefs as compared to the higher caste groups.

As regards the difference in the religious beliefs among different classes, the data indicate that there is significant difference in this context among various economic classes. The religious beliefs have not been found to be as strong among economically weaker sections as compared to the economically well-off sections.

On the bases of the findings mentioned above, it can be concluded that there are differences in the religious beliefs between High castes and Scheduled castes. These differences are significantly related to the socio-economic factors. As a matter of fact, the social and economic factors are closely interrelated in the Indian society. The economically weaker sections of the village do not have ample time for religious visits or reciting of scriptures.

~~~

References

Durkheim, E. (1965), The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, New York Free, Press.

Marshall Gordon (ed) (2007), Oxford Dictionary of Sociology.

Mc Mullen, Clarence O. (1989), Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Sikhs in Rural Punjab, New Delhi Manohar Publications.

Village Voters List.

 

¤

 


ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2009, All rights reserved.