Languages Religions and Secularization – UPSC

In this article, You will read about Languages Religions and Secularization – Human Geography (Geographical thought) for UPSC Exam.


Language is the expression of ideas through speech sound combined into words. Language, a system of conventional spoken, manual (signed), or written symbols by means of which human beings, as members of a social group and participants in its culture, express themselves.

The functions of language include communication, the expression of identity, play, imaginative expression, and emotional release.

The following are the importance of language:

  • Languages are the main source of cultural consideration.
  • Culture practice, moral values, literature, etc pass on from generation to generation through language.
  • Language is one of the variables in the demarcation of regions, for example, most of the Indian states are created based on language.


It is a particular form of language that is limited to the geographical or social region.

Languages of the World

World distribution of major languages

Roughly 6,500 languages are spoken in the world today. Determining what are the most spoken languages in the world is a more difficult task than you might imagine.

Here are the few most spoken Languages of the World

  • English (1,132 million speakers)
  • Mandarin Chinese (1,117 million speakers)
  • Hindi (615 million speakers)
  • Spanish (534 million speakers)
  • French (280 million speakers)
  • Arabic (274 million speakers)
  • Bangla/Bengali (265 million speakers)
  • Russian (258 million speakers)
  • Portuguese (234 million speakers)
  • Indonesian (199 million speakers)
  • Urdu (170 million speakers)  
  • German (132 million speakers)
Languages of the World


Communities of the same supernatural belief and moral values that bind people together is religion.

Our world’s cultural geography is very complex with language and religion as two cultural traits that contribute to the richness, diversity, and complexity of the human experience. Nowadays, the word “diversity” is gaining a great deal of attention, as nations around the world are becoming more culturally, religiously, and linguistically complex, and interconnected. Specifically, in regards to religion, these prestigious cultural institutions are no longer isolated in their place of origin but have diffused into other realms and regions with their religious history and cultural dominance. In some parts of the world, this has caused religious wars and persecution; in other regions, it has helped initiate cultural tolerance and respect for others.

These trends are, in some ways, the product of a history of migratory push and pull factors along with a demographic change that have brought together peoples of diverse religious and even linguistic backgrounds. It is critical that people critically learn about diverse cultures by understanding important cultural traits, such as the ways we communicate and maintain spiritual beliefs. Geographers need to be aware that even though our discipline might not be able to answer numerous questions related to language structure or address unique aspects of theological opinion, our field can provide insight by studying these cultural traits in a spatial context. In essence, geography provides us with the necessary tools to understand the spread of cultural traits and the role of geographic factors, both physical and cultural, in that process. People will then see that geography has influenced the distribution and diffusion of differing ideologies, as well as the diverse ways they practice their spiritual traditions.

As is the case with languages, geographers have a method of classifying religions so people can better understand the geographic diffusion of belief systems. Although religions are by themselves complex cultural institutions, the primary method for categorizing them is simple. In essence, there are two main groups: universalizing religions, which actively invite non-members to join them, and ethnic religions, which are associated with particular ethnic or national groups.

Everyone can recount moments in his or her life in which there was interaction with individuals eager to share with others their spiritual beliefs and traditions. Also, that same person might have encountered individuals who are very private, perhaps secretive, when it comes to personal religious traditions deemed by this individual as exclusive to his or her family and the national group. A discussion of these life experiences can generate fascinating examples that serve as testimony to our world’s cultural richness when it comes to different religious traditions.

Origins of World Religions

  • A significant portion of the world’s universalizing religions has a precise hearth or place of origin. This designation is based on events in the life of a man, and the hearths where the largest universalizing religions originated are all in Asia. Of course, not all religions are from Asia.
  • The three universalizing religions diffused from specific hearths, or places of origin, to other regions of the world.
  • The hearths where each of these three largest universalizing religions originated are based on the events in the lives of key individuals within each religion.
  • Together, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism have over 2.5 billion adherents combined.

Types of World Religions

  • The major religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each upholds.
  • Other differences include the –
    • nature of belief in a higher power,
    • the history of how the world and the religion began, and
    • the use of sacred texts and objects.

Why the study of religion is needed in geography?

  • Religious festivals, food, and ceremonies are shaped by the physical environment. 
  • It helps the study the religion & environment relation
  • Religion supports Sustainable development, environment conservation, and improve the welfare of the population.

Diffusion of religion

The Major religion of the world was originated in a small area but spread to a large part of the world by:

  • Invasion, for example, Islam
  • Conquering
  • Missionary, for example, Buddhism, Christianity 
  • Politically imperialism
  • Expansion of political boundaries
  • Migration of population 


Secularization refers to the historical process in which religion loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization, the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted.

In secularized societies faith lacks cultural authority, religious organizations have little social power, and public life proceeds without reference to the supernatural. Secularization captures a long-term societal change, but it has consequences for religion itself.

In Western countries, where it has been most pronounced, it has made the connection to their Christian heritage more tenuous. Yet secularization is important beyond the formerly Christian West, given that many of the forces that first sustained it there affect other societies as well.

Before 1648 the term secularism had been used to denote one side of Christian distinctions between sacred and mundane. In the Catholic Church, secular priests were those serving society at large rather than a religious order; secularization had referred to the dispensation of priests from their vows. After the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia ended the European wars of religion, secularization was used to describe the transfer of territories held by the church to the control of political authorities.

By the end of the nineteenth century, however, it had come to refer to the shifting place of religion in society many scholars associated with modernization. Used in this way the very notion of secularization has provoked contention for more than a century. Once at the center of conflict between traditional advocates of strong public religion and secularist intellectuals striving to reduce its role, it has more recently become the subject of scholarly controversy. Although since the 1960s prominent sociologists of religion have charted the course of secularization, partly guided by the work of MAX WEBER (1864– 1920), others have questioned the validity of their interpretations.

Secularization is the process to make:

  • People logical
  • Improve a scientific study
  • Remove the dominance of religious institutions and symbols from society.
  • To separate religion from state.
  • Cultural shifts in society and make the society free from superstition 
  • Communal harmony
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Get exclusive UPSC Resources that I only share with Telegram subscribers.

Scroll to Top