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Difference between Religion and Spirituality

Religion is just Spirituality gone bad. - Sadhguru

There are many religions across the globe. People follow the cultures and rituals associated with these religions. India is primarily the land of diversity.

And with diversity come different kinds of religions. People in India follow various kinds of religions. Religion inculcates a sense of faith among people. We have often heard our parents say to pray whenever we are scared of anything or before going to work. God is directly related to religion.

But spirituality is not like that. People have a spiritual awakening within them. Spirituality is nothing but moving on the path with interest to know the inner dimensions of life. Many people think that religion and spirituality are the same. But it is not so. Before moving further, let us look at the primary meaning of these terms.

Difference between Religion and Spirituality


Religion is defined as the socio-cultural system wherein set behavior and rules are followed. Religion includes faith, moral beliefs, ethics, sanctum sanctorum, etc. In layman's terms, religion is defined as the faith in God and the rituals or activities connected to it. People have a rigid faith in their religion. Over the years, we have seen many fights, protests, and even wars based on religion. People are ready to die and get killed in the name of religion. Due to these protests and wars, religion has gained a slightly negative connotation. Since India is a diverse country, many religions are followed here. But the major religions followed here are Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity.


Spirituality is defined as the ability to go beyond materialistic things and searching for the inner dimensions of life. Spirituality involves many yogic practices so that the person can be more intuitive and receptive. Spirituality also includes performing social responsibilities, instigating a sense of humanity among people, contributing to society through their works, etc. For instance, many spiritual organizations that deals with human welfare, yoga, meditation, etc. However, due to certain reasons, spirituality too has gained some negative connotations. Spirituality is important as it brings with itself a sense of awareness, perception, vision, etc. A person on a spiritual path moves in search of the truth of life. But it is essential to note that spirituality doesn't only include the welfare of society; rather, it also includes self-love and self-care as well. Now, apart from knowing the meaning, it is also necessary to understand the major differences between them. The contrasting points between religion and spirituality are given below.

1. Religion is defined as the socio-cultural system wherein the people have faith in God and the related rituals to it. On the other hand, spirituality is defined as the ability to go beyond the materialistic world in search of the truth of life.
2. Religion includes practicing set rules and regulations. For instance, Islam has rigid rules regarding the dress code of both men and women (especially women). Spirituality includes many yogic practices, kriyas, pranayama, etc. All these yogic practices aim at strengthening various body parts.
3. Religion may or may not blur the minds of people. Spirituality is about generating awareness and having a newer perception of life.
4. A person on a religious path is a believer. On the other hand, the person on the spiritual path is a seeker, i.e., knowing the true nature of life.
5. Religion is objective, i.e., the focus of the belief system is on the external environment like scriptures, sacred books, temples, etc. Spirituality is subjective as a person on a spiritual path realizes the true nature of the soul.
6. Religion is organized, i.e., religion is structured. It has set rules and regulations that have to be followed by the people. On the other hand, spirituality is formless. No rules or restrictions apply to spirituality. It is an inward journey to know the dimensions other than life.
7. Religion has a traditional approach, i.e., it is transmitted to us through historical texts and scriptures. The people associated with religion protect their values and customs. Those people have a rigid faith. Spirituality/ spiritual growth is an evolutionary process. It focuses on going inward rather than focusing on materialistic things.
8. Religion is exclusive, i.e., one is taught the rules, regulations, behavior, restrictions, etc., associated with it. Spirituality is inclusive. It focuses on the fact that all the gods and goddesses are within a person.
9. Religion inculcates a sense of fear among people. The older generation always tells us to fear from god wrath and pray to them consistently. The rigid customs associated with religion also give rise to the sense of fear. On the other hand, spirituality awakens a sense of kindness and love among people. People on the spiritual path contribute to the welfare of society. They teach kindness, self-love, and self-care to the people.
10. The people following a particular religion have a group of shared belief systems and morals. Spirituality includes an individual practice done with an open mind and purpose.

So, these are some of the contrasting points between religion and spirituality. In the present scenario, everybody is turning towards a spiritual path to have a sense of awareness towards life. Spirituality focuses on the fact that one must live consciously instead of living compulsively. Spirituality leads to the awakening of the conscious mind that broadens the perception of a person. There are different kinds of religion in the world, but spirituality doesn't have any type. It is formless. Spirituality is about becoming one with the divine.

When one is on a spiritual path, he/ she becomes a seeker, i.e., a seeker of inner dimensions of life. Such a person moves in search of truth. The initial stage of spirituality is yoga and meditation. When we meditate, our concentration improves, leading to a much clear vision and perspective. The intuition of a person improves who is on a spiritual path. Yoga gives a sense of clarity to the mind and body, and a person becomes peaceful within himself/ herself.

It is essential to note that the people who follow a particular religion instigate a sense of love for God. But the fear of god comes along with it. Religion is a part of spirituality. Both religion and spirituality can play a major role in building the mental health of a person. Both come with a sense of purpose in our lives. Thus, religion and spirituality are the two links that are separable yet inseparable.

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