Indians aren’t just strong believers in the existence of God, half of them — at least those in the bigger cities — are also convinced of the existence of the Devil or devils. What’s more, if you thought angels are essentially not an Indian concept, the TOI-TNS poll should make you think again, with 52% of respondents across 10 major cities saying they do exist.
Those who believe in ghosts and haunted houses are not in a minority either, with 50% saying they do exist, though an almost equal 49% said they do not. There is a greater degree of conviction about the existence of heaven and hell with almost two-thirds of the 1,007 respondents saying they are real.
What is perhaps more surprising is that almost one-third of the respondents also believe that it is possible to communicate with the dead. Less surprisingly, in almost every one of these cases, the belief — or superstition, depending on which half you belong to — is stronger among women than among men, though not by very much.
If you think higher levels of education make it less likely for people to believe in the possibility of communicating with the dead, think again. The belief in this possibility was strongest (39%) among post-graduates, somewhat less (32%) among graduates and least (29%) among those who had no more than school education. The figure was as high as 63% for illiterates, but the number of these was so small as to make it impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from it.
About 38% of the total sample also professed belief in astrology or numerology, though for most of them, astrologers and numerologists are people who are only occasionally consulted.
In the land of karma, it is perhaps only to be expected that 62% of those who believe in God also believe that there is such a thing as reincarnation or rebirth. What is interesting, however, is that only 37% feel where you go after death depends on whether you are a “good person”. Another 31% felt going to a “good place” is possible only if you believe in God, while 19% said it’s predetermined where you go. For this lot, therefore, what you do or believe in is irrelevant to your afterlife. Another 8% said there is only one afterlife for everybody.
The proportion of those who believe that some human beings are “messengers of God” is again close to two-thirds. Read that with the fact that only about 36% of all respondents said they believed in spiritual gurus and what that suggests is that for a very large section of believers in our country, there may be ordinary people who are messengers of God.
On most of these questions, differences across age groups and socio-economic categories are relatively small, though the young in general tended to be just a little more sceptical, while the oldest age group, 50-59, was more inclined to believe.
There are, however, significant differences across cities and regions on most of these issues. — TIG