Explain the Simple Forms of Religious.

Simple forms of religion are characteristically, a historical i.e. timeless, orally transmitted, and descriptive and consists of rituals and festivities performed collectively. Emile Durkheim studied religion in small scale traditional societies. He bases his work on a study of totemism as practiced by Australian aboriginal societies, and he argues that totemism represents religion in its most ‘elementary’ or simple form.

Durkheim defines religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the profane. Sacred objects and symbols, he holds, are treated as ‘apart’ from the routine aspect of existence which is the realm of the profane. Tylor was one of the first to explain religious beliefs in the primitive society in his theory of animism. This propounds a belief in the soul (atma).

This supra physical being is believed to survive the death of the physical body in which, it is contained. Max Muller propagated a panimistic theory of religion which he termed as Animation. According to this belief everything in nature has life, i.e. it is animate. Manaism, a special form the Animation, propounds a belief in the all-pervading supernatural powers. Magic is a system of manipulation by which an effect is sought through the action of unseat powers.

The magician attempts to control the power by magical practices not validated by scientific knowledge. Some scholars believed that magic is a form of religion while others choose not to characterize magic as religion. However, magic and religion co-existed in primitive societies as the ways of dealing with the major crises of life.

Durkheim in his The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life defines religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that is to say things set apart and forbidden. James G Frazer in his The Golden Bough considered religion a belief in powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. Maclver and Page have defined religion as we understand the term implies a relationship not merely between man and man but also between man and some higher power.

Tags: Ba Sociology

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