Frazer 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”.
As Christopher Dauson writes, “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.” Arnold W.
Some maintain that religion includes a belief in supernatural or mysterious powers and that it expresses itself in overt activities designed to deal with those powers.
Others regard religion as something very earthly and materialistic, designed to achieve practical ends.
Green defines religion as “a system of beliefs and symbolic practices and objects, governed by faith rather than by knowledge, which relates man to an unseen supernatural realm beyond the known and beyond the controllable.” According to Maclver and Page, “Religion, as we understand the term, implies a relationship not merely between man and man but also between man and some higher power.” As Gillin and Gillin says, “The social field of religion may be regarded as including those emotionalized beliefs prevalent in a social group concurring the supernatural plus crest and behaviour, material objects and symbols associated with such beliefs.” Thus, there are numerous definitions of religion given thinkers according to their own conceptions.
As a matter of fact the forms in which religion expresses itself vary so much that it is difficult to agree upon a definition.While it is possible to define religion as belief in God or some super-natural powers, it is well to remember that there can also be a Godless religion as Buddhism.In sociology, the word religion is used in a wider sense than that used in religious books.It is the social institution that deals with sacred things, that lie beyond our knowledge and control. It has been exerting tremendous influence upon political and economic aspects of life.It is said that man from the earliest times has been incurably religious.The first basic element of religion is the belief that there are supernatural powers.These powers are believed to influence human life and control all natural phenomena.While belief in supernatural powers may be considered basic to all religion, equally fundamental is the presence of a deeply emotional feeling which Golden Weiber called the “religion thrill”.If we analyse the great religions of the world, we shall find that each of them contains, five basic elements: (1) belief in supernatural powers, (2) belief in the holy, (3) ritual, (4) acts defined as sinful and (5) some method of salvation.Religion is pre-eminently social and is found in nearly all societies.Majumdar and Madan explain that the word religion has its origin in the Latin word Rel (I) igio. The first root is Leg, meaning “together, count or observe”. The first root refers to belief in and practice of “signs of Divine Communication”.