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  • 1. WorldReligions
  • 2. Paperback editionPublished in 2004 byTIMES BOOKSHarperCollins Publishers77-85 Fulham Palace RoadLondon W6 8JBThe Collins website address published by Times Books 2002Copyright © Flame Tree Publishing 2002, 2004,part of The Foundry Creative Media Company LtdMaps © Times Books Ltd 2002, 2004All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, ortransmitted in any form or by any means electronic,mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without theprior written permission of the publishers andcopyright holder.British Library Cataloguing in Publication DadA catalogue record for this book is available fromthe British LibraryISBN 0 0071 9991 0General EditorMartin PalmerDirector of the International Consultancyon Religion, Education and Culture(ICOREC)ContributorsSee pages 4–5Editorial and Design Team for Flame TreeJennifer Bishop, Michelle Clare, VickyGarrard, Dave Jones, Nicki Marshall,Sonya Newland, Nick Wells, Polly Willis,Tom WorsleyEditorial and Design Team for HarperCollinsPhilip Parker, Martin BrownPrinted and bound in Singapore
  • 3. WorldReligionsMartin Palmer
  • 4. 4C O N T R I B U T O R SContributorsMARTIN PALMERGeneral Editor; Roots of Religion;TaoismMartin Palmer is the Director of the International Consultancy onReligion, Education and Culture (ICOREC). ICOREC specialises inprojects related to religious, environmental and development issuesand works with a variety of international organisations such asTheWorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF),TheWorld Bank, UNESCO, andtheWorld Council of Churches. He was also instrumental in thecreation of theAlliance of Religions and Conservation first launchedin 1995 by HRH the Prince Philip of which he is now SecretaryGeneral. In 1997 he founded the Sacred Land Project which worksworld wide preserving sacred sites from Mongolia to Mexico.Martin is the author of many books including Travels throughSacred China, Sacred Britain, Christianity and Ecology, SacredGardens and the forthcoming Jesus Sutras which is a translation ofthe sacred texts of the Nestorian Christians, China’s first Christiancommunity dating fromAD 635. He frequently appears on televisionand radio, has presented a number of series on sacred topics andalso writes for a wide variety of publications.Martin studied theology at Cambridge, with a special emphasison Chinese and Japanese studies. He founded the Centre for theStudy of Religion and Education in inner city Manchester and hasbeen a pioneer in the areas of interfaith environmental education.BRENDA RALPH-LEWISThe Ancient Near East; ZorastrianismBrenda Ralph Lewis is a freelance author specializing in history,with particular reference to ancient civilizations. Her most recentbook (out of a total of more than 90), published in 2001, deals withthe philosophy and practice of ritual sacrifice in both ancient andmodern religion. Mrs Lewis has also written over 25TV and videoscripts on the history and culture of ancient civilisations. She ismarried with one son and lives in Buckinghamshire.ROBERT MORKOTAncient EgyptRobert Morkot is an ancient historian specialising in North-EastAfrica. He studied at London University and the Humboldt-University, Berlin, and currently teaches at Exeter University.Aswell as many academic publications he is author of The PenguinHistorical Atlas of Ancient Greece (1996), The Black Pharaohs: Egypt’sNubian Rulers (2000) and The Empires of Ancient Egypt (2001).MICHAEL KERRIGANGreece and RomeAnEdinburgh-basedfreelancewriterspecializinginthecivilizationsofancient times, Michael Kerrigan has written on almost every aspectof archaeology, ancient history and culture, covering subjects fromthe origins of agriculture to the icons of Byzantium, from the rise ofthe Greek city-state to the fall of Rome.A regular contributor to suchjournalsastheTimesLiterarySupplementandtheScotsman,hisrecentbooks include Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean (2001), AncientRomeandtheRomanEmpire(2001)andTheInstrumentsofTorture(2001).NIGEL CAMPBELL PENNICKNorthern EuropeNigel Pennick was born in Surrey in 1946.Trained in biology, hepublished descriptions of eight new species of marine algae beforemoving on to become a writer and illustrator. He is author of over 40books on European spiritual traditions, arts and landscapes.SUSANNA ROSTASCentral and South AmericaSusanna Rostas has a D.Phil in SocialAnthropology and hastaught at both Goldsmiths’ College and Durham University. She iscurrently a ResearchAssociate in the Department of SocialAnthropology in Cambridge. Her publications include The PopularUse of Popular Religion in Latin America withAndre Droogers.TARA LEWISShamanismHaving obtained a joint Honours degree in Comparative Religionsand History ofArt, and researched a thesis on ‘Shamans in the workof Siyah Qalam’, after travelling widely inAsia for her studies,TaraLewis went on to work for theAlliance of Religions and Conservation(a UK-based charity). She establishedARCAsia, organising anddeveloping conservation projects with religious communities inCambodia,Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia and China. She is currentlyediting Mongolian Sacred Legends of the Land.JIMMY WEINEROceania; Australian AboriginalsDr. James F.Weiner received his PhD fromAustralian NationalUniversity in 1984. He has held teaching and research positions inanthropology atAustralian National University, University ofManchester and University ofAdelaide. He has worked for overthree years in Papua New Guinea with the Foi people and haspublished two books on New Guinea mythology. Currently he isworking as an independent consultant in native title forAboriginalcommunities throughoutAustralia. He is also working on a bookabout the Hindmarsh Island sacred site case in SouthAustralia.GRAHAM HARVEYThe MaorisGraham Harvey is Reader in Religious Studies at KingAlfred’sCollege,Winchester. He is particularly interested in Maori andOjibwe spirituality, but has also published books aboutcontemporary Paganism and ancient Judaism. His (edited)Indigenous Religions: a Companion brings together excellentwriting about issues in indigenous religious and their study.FREDA RAJOTTENative North AmericansRev Dr Freda Rajotte has always been dedicated to both justiceissues and to preserving the integrity of creation.As a Geographyprofessor she focused upon the related issues of economicdevelopment and environmental conservation. She also gavecourses in Comparative Religion. Freda has numerous First Nationcolleagues, relatives and friends.Always interested in encouragingbetter understanding between people of different cultures andfaiths, for seven years she was the director of the CanadianCoalition for Ecology, Ethics and Religion. During this time, thanksto the contributions and assistance of many First Nation leaders,she compiled and published First Nations Faith and Ecology.Freda is married and has six children.KEVIN WARDAfricanTraditional ReligionsDr KevinWard teachesAfrican Religious Studies in the DepartmentofTheology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. Heworked for over 20 years in EastAfrica, as a teacher in Kenya andas a lecturer at a seminary in Uganda. He is ordained in the Churchof Uganda.MICHAEL SHACKLETONShintoMichael Shackleton studied at Cambridge University, and alsoat the University of Manchester from which he received a post-graduate diploma in SocialAnthropology.At present he isAssociate Professor of SocialAnthropology at Osaka GakuinUniversity in Japan with a special interest in Japanese Religion (inparticular New Religions and traditional mountain cults, or‘shugendo’). He undertakes research, which has recently taken himto Southern Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. Michael is also involvedin working with Martin Palmer (General Editor) on theAlliance ofReligions and Conservation (ARC) scheme. He currently lives inJapan with his wife and two children.
  • 5. 5C O N T R I B U T O R SJIM PYMBuddhismJim Pym has been a Buddhist for over 40 years. He is the author of YouDon’t Have to Sit on the Floor; a book on practical Buddhism inWesternculture (Rider Books 2001), editor of Pure Land Notes, a Buddhistjournal, and a member of the Council of the Buddhist Society, London.ALAN BROWNChristianityAlan Brown is director of the National Society’s Kensington R. E.Centre and R. E. (Schools) Officer of the General Synod Board ofEducation. He has written a great many books about the Christianfaith and world religions, as well as numerous articles, reviews andbooklets. He is also tutor and examiner forThe Open Universitycourse, ‘The Religious Quest’.JOHN CHINNERYConfucianismDr John Chinnery formerly headed the Department of EastAsianStudies at the University of Edinburgh. He is a frequent visitor toChina and has written on a wide range of Chinese subjects, fromphilosophy to the theatre. He is currently Honorary President of theScotland ChinaAssociation.RAMESHCHANDRA MAJITHIAHinduismRameshchandra Majithia was born inTanzania. He graduated with aBSc in Engineering from the University of London and followed acareer as a teacher of mathematics and graphic communication atsecondary level. He was responsible for informing organisedgroups to Shree Sanatan Mandir, the first Hindu temple to beestablished, about Hinduism; he is also editor of the bimonthlymagazine published by the temple. He gave Hinduism input toReligious Education students in teacher training, and has co-ordinated Hindu religious education for children aged five to 16 forthe last seven years at his local temple in Leicester.AMAR HEGEDÜSIslamWriter, reviewer, broadcaster and lecturer on Islamic subjects,Amar Hegedüs established the Islam in English Press (IEP) toprovide ready access, in comprehensible style and language, to thisfrequently misrepresented subject. He networks with other faiths incommon initiatives to create better understanding between peoples,and provides spiritual and pastoral care to the community. He isChaplaincy Imam to the South London and Maudsley NHSTrust.DR SHAHJainismProfessor Natubhai Shah teaches Jainism at the FVGAntwerp,Selly Oak Colleges University of Birmingham and occasionally atthe SOAS London University. He represents Jainism at the highestlevel and was responsible for the creation of the beautiful Jaintemple in Leicester, and for establishing JainAcademy and JainStudies courses in the UK and Mumbai University. He was awardedJain Ratna by the Prime Minister of India in 2001. He is the author ofJainism:TheWorld of Conquerors (1998).RACHEL MONTAGUJudaismRabbi Rachel Montagu isAssistant Education Officer for theCouncil of Christians and Jews and teaches Judaism and BiblicalHebrew at Birkbeck College andAllen Hall. She read Classics atNewnham College, Cambridge and studied Judaism at Leo BaeckCollege, London and Machon Pardes, Jerusalem. She is marriedand has two sons.RAJWANT SINGHSikhismDr Rajwant Singh was born in Calcutta, India, and emigrated to theUnited States. In 1984 he helped initiate the SikhAssociation ofAmerica, and he is a founding member of the Guru Gobind SinghFoundation, a Sikh congregation based in Maryland.As well asserving as a special advisor to Jathedar Manjit Singh, one of thespiritual heads of the worldwide Sikh community, he has alsoserved as a board member for the NorthAmerican InterfaithNetwork. Dr Singh founded the Sikh Council on Religion andEducation (SCORE) in 1998, based inWashington DC, of which heis currently the chairman.Acting on behalf of SCORE, he has beeninvited to speak at theWhite House, the US Congress, theVaticanand by various non-governmental organizations to present the Sikhperspective.MARKTULLYEast Meets West; Multi-faith SocietiesMarkTully was born in Calcutta, India, and was educated atCambridge University where he did a Masters in History andTheology. He worked as a correspondent for the BBC for 30 years,and for 22 years of that time was the Delhi correspondent. Since1994, Mark has been a freelance broadcaster and writer. His mostrecent publications include Amritsar – Mrs Gandhi’s Last Battle(1985), Raj to Rajiv (1985), No Full Stops In India (1988), The Heartof India (1995) and Lives of Jesus (1996). In 1992 he was awardedthe Padma Shri by the Government of India, and in 2002 receivedthe KBE.ELIZABETH PUTTICKNew Religious Movements; Women and ReligionDr Elizabeth Puttick is a sociologist of religion, specializing inwomen’s spirituality and new religions (including NewAge,shamanism and paganism). Her publications include Women inNew Religions (Macmillan/St Martin’s Press). She teachesreligious studies at the BritishAmerican College, London, and alsoworks as a literary agent and publishing consultant.RACHEL STORMRastafari; Scientific Religions; GlossaryRachel Storm has studied and written about mythology and religionsince the 1980s. She is the author of three books in the area and hascontributed to a number of encyclopedias, as well as to nationaland international magazines and newspapers.SUSAN GREENWOODContemporary PaganismSusan Greenwood is lecturer is the School of Cultural andCommunity Studies at the University of Sussex, an OpenUniversityAssociate Lecturer andVisiting Fellow at GoldsmithsCollege, University of London. She gained her doctorate fromresearch on Paganism, and her recent publications include Magic,Witchcraft and the Otherworld: an anthropology (2000).PAULVALLELYThe Culture of the West; Conflicts of IdeologyPaulVallely writes on religion for The Independent newspaper, ofwhich he is associate editor. He is chair of the Catholic Institute forInternational Relations and is the editor of The New Politics:Catholic SocialTeaching for the 21st century (1999) and is the authorof Bad Samaritans: FirstWorld Ethics andThirdWorld Debt (1990) andvarious other books.
  • 6. 6C O N T E N T SIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8THE ROOTS OF RELIGION . . . . . . . .12Religion Before History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12The Nature of Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14A ReligiousWorld-view . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16ANCIENT RELIGIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18THE ANCIENT NEAR EASTThe Sumerians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18The Babylonians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20TheAssyrians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22The Canaanites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24ANCIENT EGYPTThe Kingdoms of Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26The Egyptian Pantheon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28Temples andWorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30GREECE AND ROMEClassical Origins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32Homeric Gods and Heroes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34Civilization and Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36The Gods in Imperial Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38Religion and Philosophy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40Religions Under Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42NORTHERN EUROPEReligion of the Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44Celtic Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46Germanic Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48Slavic and Baltic Peoples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAThe Maya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52TheAztecs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54The Incas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS . . . . . . . . .58SHAMANISMShamanism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58OCEANIADeath, Ghosts and the Soul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60The Mythic Chieftainship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62Millenarian Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINALSThe Dreaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66Initiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68THE MAORISMaori Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70MaoriTraditional Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72NATIVE NORTH AMERICANSNorthAmerican First Nations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74Spirituality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76Ceremonies and Rituals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICATheAmazonians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80The Huichol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82Highland MayaToday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84AFRICANTRADITIONAL RELIGIONReligion inAfrica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86African Cosmologies, Gods andAncestors . . . . . . .88The Celebration of Life and Cults ofAffliction . . . . . .90African Religion, Politics andThe Challenge of Modernity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92SHINTOThe History of Shinto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94Shinto Shrines (jinja) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96ShintoToday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98WORLD RELIGIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100BUDDHISMThe Buddha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100Early Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102Theravada Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104Mahayana Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .106Zen Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108Living Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110Contents
  • 7. C O N T E N T SCHRISTIANITYThe Life andTeaching of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112The Early Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114The Christian Bible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116Central Beliefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .118Rites and Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120Festival and Celebration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .122The Catholic ChurchWorldwide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .124The Orthodox Churches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .126TheAnglican Communion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128Luther, Calvin and the Reformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130The Protestant Churches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .132The Pentecostal Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .134The Diversity of Christianity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .136CONFUCIANISMThe Life andTeachings of Confucius . . . . . . . . . . . . .138After Confucius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142HINDUISMFoundations of Hinduism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144Major Beliefs and Conceptsof Hinduism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .146Hindu Gods and Goddesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .148Hindu Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150Hindu Places ofWorship (mandir) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .152Hindu Festivals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .154ISLAMAllah’s Guidance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .156The EarlyYears of the Prophet Muhammad . . . . . . .158Revelation in Makkah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160Revelation in Madinah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .162The Book ofAllah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .164The Prophet’s Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .166How Islam is Spread and Lived . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .168JAINISMOrigins and Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .170Jain Philosophy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .172JUDAISMOrigins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .174SacredTexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .176Jewish Festivals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .178Jewish Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180Judaism in Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .182JewishWorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .184Anti-Judaism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .186SIKHISMOrigins and Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .188Guru Nanak’sTeachings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .190Sikh Philosophy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .192SikhismToday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194TAOISMOrigins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .196Taoist Beliefs and Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .198Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200Taoism Beyond China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .202ZOROASTRIANISMZoroastrianism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .204NEW RELIGIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .206East MeetsWest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .206New Religious Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .208Baha’i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210Rastafarianism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212Contemporary Paganism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .214The Culture of theWest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216RELIGION INTHE MODERNWORLD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .218Conflict of Ideologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .218Multi-faith Societies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .220Science and Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .222Women and Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224Chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .226Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .236Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .242Names Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .251Picture Credits/Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . .2567
  • 8. I N T R O D U C T I O NIn this Encyclopedia, we explore what thismeans and has meant. Our notion, and tosome degree definition, of what is religionranges from the vast arrays of indigenousreligions still to be found today to the greatmissionary faiths such as Buddhism and Islam. Ittravels from the great ancient faiths of antiquitysuch as Egypt or Greece to the most modern offaiths – such as the Baha’is or some of the newpagan movements. Together and over time theseideas, thoughts, beliefs and practices, have, forbetter or worse, made the world we live in today.IntroductionSince the earliest days of humanity, religion has played a part in bothstructuring life and explaining life.Through ritual, myths and legends, dance,art, buildings, beliefs, teachings and daily practices, faith has guided, inspiredand shaped the way people have lived.As with all things human, even thoseperhaps touched by the divine, this has led to great acts of generosity and greatacts of arrogance; it has brought peace and has created wars; it has held thosewho are suffering wiping away their tears and it has been the very cause of tears.Religion, like any human endeavour, brings out the best and the worst in people.However, for most people, throughout history and today, religion has made themundane sacred; given meaning to what could otherwise be experiencedas a meaningless world and has taught that small acts of kindness andthoughtfulness are the true fruits of religion.
  • 9. 9I N T R O D U C T I O NWhere it has been possible, we have asked thatmembers of the living faiths of ourcontemporary world be our guides. Forultimately, faith is personal and thus tounderstand its significance we need to do morethan just stand outside and examine its shapeand form. We also need to know something ofwhat it feels like to live within a worldview suchas, for example, Hinduism or AfricanTraditional religion. Buildings and rituals areimportant but more important is the reason whythey exist. To understand this we need tohear the voice of faith as well as see itsoutward manifestations.Such a voice comes from allowing the faithitself to determine that which is important andsignificant, and this is something we asked thecontributors to do, albeit in dialogue with thoseof us with overall responsibility for this book.What can appear to outsiders as the mostimportant aspect of a faith can upon closerexamination be of less significance to thebeliever. For example, most outsiders viewChristmas as the most important Christianfestival. While it is very important and throughthe stories, activities, symbols and celebrationsone can indeed gain a good idea of Christianity,it is not the most important festival. That falls toEaster and without understanding why Easter isthe more significant, an understanding ofChristianity would be incomplete, indeedrather lopsided.The decision was taken early on in theconstruction of this Encyclopedia to includefaiths which have died. Religion is alwayschanging and although the great faiths of todaymay seem unaltered through time, in fact theyare constantly adapting. The faiths of the worldare the oldest surviving human institutions in theworld. As such they have learnt a thing or twoabout continuity. But some faiths have notsurvived. They have become part of the richtapestry of our world but only as now fadingcolours in the background. Yet without anunderstanding of the shifting ideas, which aremanifested in the changes, for example, theinsignificant role of humanity in Egyptianreligion to the nuanced role of humanity in forexample Middle Eastern religions of ancient
  • 10. 10I N T R O D U C T I O NMesopotamia, our current notion of whatit means to be human cannot adequatelybe understood.The need for an Encyclopedia, which thusopens up the worlds of faiths, has perhaps neverbeen so urgent. It was conventional wisdom inthe twentieth century to assume that religion wasdying. Science, modern secular politicalmovements and the growth of pluralism wereseen as the potential death knells of religion. Thiswas especially so for writers – who were themajority writers on religion – from the Westwhere in many European countries, overtpractice of traditional religion was in decline.The reality in the twenty-first century is thatreligion, having suffered the most extensiveperiod of persecution in history in the last 100years, has re-emerged as a major player on theworld scene. This is for good, bad and indifferentreasons. The good is the increasing role ofreligions in social and environmental issues.Where once science and the state were seen ashaving taken over the traditional role of faiths asguides through social and ecological upheavals,now increasingly, religion is being included as apartner once again. In part this is due to thecollapse of ideologies such as Marxism and statecontrol. In part it is because in the end peoplerelate better to locally led initiatives rather thangovernmental and especially inter-governmentalinitiatives. The faiths have the best network forreaching virtually all-local communities, in theworld. They are now beginning to offer this inpartnership with humanitarian movements andenvironmental and social concerns.The bad is the rise of extremism within somany faiths. Labelled as ‘fundamentalism’ – aphrase which is usually insulting to all majorfaiths – extremism is religion with its back to thewall and fighting back. It arises from the sense ofhelplessness, which so many who lie outside thesphere of the benefits of modern technology andeconomics feel. It is often a cry of pain andfrustration from the most powerless and as suchdemands serious attention from the world. Sadly,however, it is often then forced or chooses totake the path of violence in order to be heard.The rise of extremism in the world’s faiths –there is no major faith without such a movement
  • 11. 11I N T R O D U C T I O N– is a challenge to the rest of the world to listencarefully to the root concerns and to offer helpbefore the movement feels completely isolatedand literally at war with the rest of the world.The indifferent is the increasing recognitionthat, far from fading, religion is transmogrifyingin many cultures. Pluralism has led many whosegrandparents were of one faith to embrace eitheranother faith or to include into their religiousworldview, elements of different faiths. Thispluralism has weakened some traditional faiths,but it may be that from such an interaction, newreligions are beginning to emerge as well as newexpressions of the older faiths.Finally, religion embodies the wisdom andexperience of humanity through countlessgenerations. It contains some of the mostwonderful poetry and literature the world hasever seen. Through its rituals and liturgies,prayers and actions it brings hope to many andoffers vehicles for living, which aid billions inmaking sense of a difficult world.Its understandings of what it means to behuman and its recognition that theworld is more than just that whichcan be observed, noted andcatalogued means that itsapproach is truly encyclopaedic.What, therefore, could be moreappropriate than an encyclopediaof world religions.Martin Palmer2002
  • 12. THE FAMOUS CHAUVET cavepaintings, over 30,000 years old,discovered in France in 1994, depict invivid and splendid detail animals which nowlong extinct, are perhaps our earliest evidence ofreligious activity. Undisturbed patterns in thedirt of the floor seem to show signs of dancing;there is a bear skull on a stone block whichmight be a shrine; and a strange figure at theback of the cave seems, possibly, to combineaspects of beast and man.The depiction of the animals may represent asymbolic invocation of the animal spirits to fillthe hunters with power, or an attempt toincrease the numbers of the animals to behunted, or even direct worship of the animalsthemselves. Possibly, though, their purpose issimply artistic; perhaps the men and womenwho painted these wonderful paintings did sopurely in order to celebrate and delight in beautyand their own ability to create. We simply donot, and cannot, know.PALEOLITHICVENUSPerhaps the most striking prehistoric artefactsare the so-called ‘Venuses’: carved female stonefigures with prominent and exaggerated breastsand genitalia, sometimes headless, whichappear all over Europe from 40,000 to 25,000BC. Again, it is hard to know whatThe Roots of ReligionReligion Before HistoryOur knowledge of prehistoric religion is, of necessity, scant and uncertain.Our only evidence is archaeological, and the range of interpretationspossible from any one artefact or site is enormous. For many years there wasa tendency to interpret virtually any prehistoric object as religious – no matterwhat its nature – and for evidence to be twisted and bent to fit the pet theoriesof the researcher, commonly extrapolated back from anthropological theorieswhich are often now discredited themselves. In the final analysis, our besttheories are only speculation.T H E R O O T S O F R E L I G I O N
  • 13. R E L I G I O N B E F O R E H I S T O R Y13interpretation to place upon these figures. Dothey represent the exultation or the degradationof the female form? Were they intended tocelebrate or perhaps increase female fertility?Or were they simply pornographic? After all,drawing naughty pictures has beencommonplace in virtually all cultures.WASTHERE A GODDESS?These figures are a keystone of a powerfulmodern myth – the ‘Cult of the Great Goddess’.First proposed in the nineteenth century, thebelief that prehistoric societies were united intheir worship of a single ‘Goddess’ became anorthodoxy of the study of prehistoric religionuntil the 1970s, and virtually any figure, dot,spiral or curve was interpreted as representingthe Goddess. Although now discreditedacademically, it is still a common belief in bothfeminist and neo-pagan circles. The hard truthof it is that there is absolutely no evidence of auniversal prehistoric ‘Goddess’, it is a projectionback of our own need for a figure to counteractthe masculine God of the Judeo-Christiantradition, and highlights the problems of how tointerpret a silent religious prehistory.There are spectacular prehistoric sites,such as the long barrows and stone circlesof England, or the mound cultures of Northand South America, which may have had astrongly religious purpose. In the case ofthe long barrows, dating from around4000–3000 BC, they may have been part ofa tradition of ancestor-worship; skullsseem to have been regularly moved in andout of them, probably for some ritualpurpose. Perhaps the spirits of theancestors watched over the tribe, or joinedthem at festivals.As for the stone circles – easily the mostimpressive and awesome prehistoric sites inEurope – their purpose remains essentiallyunknown. Certainly at the larger sites, suchas Stonehenge, they probably had aceremonial or dramatic function.They haveoften been associated with astrology, but theevidence for this is scant, and whatconjunctions and alignments there are maybe for purely dramatic or architecturalpurposes; after all, the windows of manycathedrals are aligned to light up the altar insunlight, but nobody would claim this wastheir primary purpose. Many of the stonecircles are near areas that show signs oftrade and industry; perhaps they wereboundaries within which making a deal wassacred.Again, we simply cannot tell.Really, all we can be sure of is that someform of religious activity, some form ofveneration and worship, was taking place.The dead were certainly buried with somerespect for their future fate; perhaps this isthe most telling sign of religion.The nature ofreligious activity, towards whom or what itwas directed, the cosmology into which itfitted, and the nature of the ceremoniesinvolved all remain hidden behind a veil thatwill never be lifted.THE GREAT SITES
  • 14. T H E R O O T S O F R E L I G I O N14The Nature of ReligionReligion, for billions of people, is a vital way of making sense of their life, and of giving purposeand meaning to existence.Through ethical and metaphysical theology, and through ceremony andliturgy, religion imbues people with a powerful sense of meaning. Many attempts have been madeto define religion, most of which fail before its vast diversity, but one factor that links almost allreligions is their belief in a reality beyond the material world, that there is something greater thanjust the here and now.THERE IS A strong argument about theetymology of the word ‘religion’ itself,which reflects two rather differentviews of the purpose of religion. It may bederived from the Latin religare, ‘to bind’,suggesting that the first concern of religion is tobind humanity and the divine together, and tobind us together in community; to thoseopposed to religion, this binding can seem likean imprisonment. On the other hand, it may bederived from relegare, ‘to tread carefully’,reflecting a respect and care for both the naturaland supernatural worlds, which for many is theprimary concern of religion – to provide us withguidance as to how to live.Indeed, religion provides us with a purposegreater and more profound than simple survival,forging a bridge between the world of humanexperience and the supposed greater realm of thedivine. For some religious people, this meansforsaking the temporal pleasures of this world insearch of a transcendent meta-reality, throughfasting, celibacy and so forth. For others, it leadsto a desire to improve this world, to bring thematerial closer to the divine and to honour thepresence of God in everything.A PERSONAL OR PUBLIC APPROACH?There has always been something of a tensionin religion between the community and theindividual. Structured communities, from theCatholic Church to the Hindu caste system,have always been a part of religion, as havecommunities bound by less formal ties, andmany people find that the experience ofworshipping as a community – and the supportthat a community can provide – powerful andprofound. Others find religious communitiesstifling, sometimes even oppressive, andapproach the divine in a more individual way.Generally speaking, the shift in the West overthe last century has been towards thesecond approach; religion is increasinglyseen as a matter of personal conscience, notpublic commitment.ATTITUDESTOWARDS RELIGIONReligion has often been attacked as essentiallyan oppressive, even tyrannical force. It has beenlinked to racism, war, dictatorship, sexism and
  • 15. T H E R O O T S O F R E L I G I O N15slavery, and every religion has its fair share ofguilt here, from the cruelty of the Inquisition tothe slave-keeping Buddhist monks of China.Karl Marx (1818–83) famously wrote that‘religion is the opium of the people’ and manyhave seen religion as essentially soporific,designed to keep the oppressed anddowntrodden quiet before their masters.However, Marx also wrote that religion wasthe ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul ofsoulless conditions’. As much as religion hasbeen used to justify human horrors, it is alsooften a profoundly redemptive and powerfulforce, providing hope and liberation for billionsof people. In the end, the success of religion lies,perhaps, in its providing powerful explanations,or legitimising the asking of questions about, theissues of existence, the cosmos and good andevil. It may not settle all questions, but it givesmany people a way of coping with the problemsof their lives, and a means to explore even deeperquestions about the universe.Broadly speaking, almost all religionsclaim to worship or venerate one ultimatepower – God, Buddha, Tao – the nameschange. For some faiths, especially Islamand Judaism, the being of God is sounknowable that it is forbidden even to tryto depict ‘God’. In other faiths, such asHinduism and Taoism, this power isdepicted in many different ways and isaccompanied by a wide range of gods andgoddesses. In faiths such as Christianityand Islam, there is a strong emphasis onthe relationship between God andhumanity, with humanity’s proper rolebeing seen generally as submission andacceptance before God’s might. God isgenerally seen as omnipotent, omniscient,and benevolent; reconciling these threeattributes with the reality of suffering isoften a problematic concern.Other religions, however, such as Shintoand Hinduism, have a more practical focus.They often have a profound side, but there isalso the simple question of ‘What can thisgod do for us?’ In Chinese folk religion, forinstance, the gods are essentially seen asbeing useful patrons to whom one makesofferings in return for favour. Something ofthis same pragmatism can also be seen inancient Greek and Roman religion.THE ULTIMATE POWER
  • 16. A R E L I G I O U S W O R L D - V I E W17famous scientists have been religious and haveseen the discovery of the laws of nature as asacred charge from God.Science has seemed to answer some questionsabout the origins of life and the nature of themind better, perhaps, than religion, and somepeople believe that the sphere of influence ofreligion will shrink as our knowledge of sciencegrows. Many, however, believe that there arecertain questions, particularly concerning themeaning and purpose of existence – if there isone – that science simply cannot answer, andthat religion provides far more powerful answersto such questions.RELIGION AND POLITICSAs with science, there is little distinction betweenreligion and politics for many people. Indeed,the separation of Church and State is essentiallya product of the eighteenth century, followingterrible European religious wars betweenCatholic and Protestant. Before that, the Statewas strongly associated with a particularreligion, and followers of other religions werefrequently persecuted, such as Cathars and Jewsin medieval France, or Christians in Shinto-dominated Japan. Wars were often religiouslymotivated, from the Crusades to the Hinduextermination of Buddhism during the ninth tothe twelfth centuries in India.A religious world-view, however, also oftenleads to a powerful motivation for social change.The socialist movement in England, for example,had strong associations with thenonconformist churches, and thesupport of religious leaders is oftenessential in elections. Two-thirds ofAmerican Jews consistently voteDemocrat, reflecting the Jewishcommitment to social justice and aconcern for minority rights.Even now, some states are entirelycommitted to one religion. This isparticularly common in Islamiccountries such as Iran and SaudiArabia, where Islamic religious law isused as the basis for the justice system,and the rights of members of otherreligions are circumscribed; forinstance, non-Muslims can onlyworship in private in Saudi Arabia andcannot attempt to convert others.Communist states, dominated by anatheist ideology, often carried outterrible religious persecution, such asStalin’s purges of the Jews, and the CulturalRevolution in China. The situation in Chinaeased after 1977, though the government retainsa cautious attitude to religious activity.In recent years, faiths have found themselvesbeing brought more strongly into partnershipwith secular structures that formerly thoughtreligion obsolete. The environment movementnow has a strong involvement with all the majorreligions, while the World Bank is working withfaiths to try and find new economic anddevelopmental models.Alongside this runs the quest for deeperspiritual meaning. It is not without significancethat, worldwide, the practice of spiritual retreatsis growing. While patterns of religiousobservance are changing, the quest goes on.
  • 17. THE FIRST PEOPLES settled in Sumeria,Mesopotamia, in around 4500 BC, butit was another 12 centuries before theSumerian tribes from Anatolia established anumber of city states where the Sumeriancivilization developed in which religion and itsrituals were all-pervasive. Their purpose was todeflect the anger of the gods by constant prayersand sacrifices. Sumeria, like the rest ofMesopotamia, was not an easy place to live anddivine fury was thought to reveal itself throughdisasters such as drought, floods, pestilence,crop failure or the silting up of rivers. TheSumerians believed that humans had beencreated out of clay in order to relieve the gods oftheir workload. It followed that humans werethe servants of the gods. Nevertheless, the godswere envisaged as much like humans, withsimilar physical form, needs, appetites andcharacteristics. This was why food became themost frequent form of sacrificial offering.GODS AND GHOSTSThe vast Sumerian pantheon representedaspects of the world – the harvest, the wind orthe sun – in divine form. The principal deityThe Spread of Ancient NearEastern PeoplesThe area of theAncient Near Eastcomprises part of what is now knownas the Middle East, a section of westernAsia encompassing the easternMediterranean to the Iranian plateau.The Sumerians built the region’s first-known civilization between the Tigrisand Euphrates rivers from the fourthmillennium BC. By the eighteenthcentury BC the new state of Babyloniahad been formed and this graduallyovertook that of Sumeria.TheBabylonian Empire eventuallyabsorbed that ofAssyria.3300 BC Immigrants fromAnatolia arrive in Sumeria and build city-states3100 BC Temples built at Uruk, along the ancient course of the Euphrates2600 BC Sumerian king list (a list of the names of Sumerian kings, discovered by archeologists)2200 BC Ziggurats built in Sumeria2000 BC Myths of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, written in the Sumerian language on clay tablets1720 BC Shift in the position of the Euphrates River leads to collapse of Nippur and other Sumerian citiesAncient ReligionsT H E A N C I E N T N E A R E A S TThe SumeriansSumeria, the earliest known city civilization, set the religious tonefor the rest of Mesopotamia. Sumeria seemed to be saturated withdivine presence and its concept of myriad gods and goddesses,each controlling their own aspect of life, together with thesacrifices required to humour them, greatly influenced otherMesopotamian religions.Sumerian cultural areaMersinTarsusGazaHazorTyreByblos DamascusQatnaUgaritKaneshSariz ElbistanGürünElazigMalatyaBirecikCarchemishAleppoAlalakhPalmyraEblaErganiHarranMalazgirtNinevehNusaybinChagar BazarDiyarbakirRawandizArbailLagashEriduUrMari HitSipparEshnunnaSulaymaniyahArrapkhaAshurBabylonAgadeKish AdabUmmaUruk LarsaShuruppakSialkSusaKermanshahHamadamHarharDerIsinTepe HisarNippurˆ ˘Z a g r o s M t sP e r s i a n G u l fD e a dS e aL a k e Va nL a k e U r m i aE l b u r z M t sA m a n u s M t sTaurusMt sE u p h r a t esT i g r i sCI L I C I AS Y R I AM E S O P O T A M I Aancient courseof Euphratespossible ancientcoastline c. 2000 BCThe Spread of Ancient Near Eastern Peoples by 2000 BC18
  • 18. T H E S U M E R I A N S19was Anu, ruler of Heaven, who was laterreplaced by Enlil, Lord of the Winds. Therewere also some 3,000 other deities in Sumeria.In addition, individual villages had their ownlocal gods, as did inanimate objects. Enlil, forinstance, was god of the hoe through hisconnection with the moist spring wind and theplanting season. Enlil’s son, Ninurta, was godof the plough. Concepts of reincarnation andthe afterlife were alien to Sumerian theology.The dead, Sumerians believed, had no specificplace in which to continue in the same stylethey had known while living. Consequently, theliving were thought to be constantly at riskfrom their presence and only by regularofferings of food and drink could these ghostsbe dissuaded from haunting them.THE PRIESTSPriests in the Sumerian temples acted asconduits between the gods and human beings.They conducted the daily services and presidedover festivals, such as Akitu, the festival of thenew year, which fell approximately at the timeof the Spring equinox. They interpreted theentrails of sacrificed animals, usually sheep, inorder to learn the divine will. They performedthe public sacrifices which usually consisted ofgoats, cattle and birds, as well as sheep. Thedivine portion of an animal sacrifice comprisedthe right leg, the kidneys and a piece of meat forroasting. The rest of the animal sacrifices wereconsumed at the temple feast. In addition,libations of water were poured over sheaves ofgrain or bunches of dates so that the gods offertility would grant rain for healthy crops. Allmanner of offerings were brought to the priestsin the temples for use by the gods: clothing,beds, chairs, drinking vessels, jewels,ornaments or weapons. All these were classedas divine property and were placed in thetemple treasuries. Clothing was first offered tothe gods, then distributed among the priestsand other officials who staffed the temples. Thehigh priest had first pick, and the last went tothe lowly sweepers of the temple courtyards.The high temple towers known as ziggurats,which were topped by a small templededicated to one of the Mesopotamiandeities, were a feature of religiousarchitecture around 2200 BC and 500 BC.Thepractice of building ziggurats began inSumeria, spreading later to Babylonia andAssyria.The step-sided ziggurat bore littleresemblance to the later pyramids ofAncient Egypt. There were no internalrooms or passageways and the core wasmade of mud brick, with baked brickcovering the exterior.The shape was eithersquare or rectangular, with measurementsaveraging 40 or 50 sq m (130 or 165 sq ft) atthe base. The most complete extantziggurat, now namedTall al-Muqayyar, wasbuilt at Ur in south-west Sumeria (present-day southern Iraq). The most famous wasthe Tower of Babel, which is popularlybelieved to have had links with the zigguratat the temple of Marduk, the national god ofBabylonia.TheTower of Babel, having beenbuilt in the vicinity of Babylon, is regardedby some archaeologists and anthropologistsas an extension of the worship of Marduk athis ziggurat temple in the city.ZIGGURATSThe Epic of GilgameshGilgamesh,thefifthkingofthefirstdynastyofUruk,inpresent-day southern Iraq, reigned in around 2600 BC,and was the subject of five Sumerian poems probablywritten six centuries later. Gilgamesh became theheronotonlyofSumerian,butalsoofHittite,Akkadianand Assyrian legend.The Epic tells how Gilgameshsearches for immortality, but after many adventures,he fails and is forced to recognize the reality of death.
  • 19. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S20BABYLONIAN FAITH encompassedthe whole universe and each sector of itwas under the rule of a particular deity.Heaven, earth, sea and air comprised onesector, the sun, the moon and the planetsanother. Nature, as manifested in rivers,mountains, plains and other geographicalfeatures was a further sector and the fourthwas the city state of Babylon. Marduk, thechief god, presided over the pantheon. Likethe Sumerians, the Babylonians believed thattools and implements – bricks, ploughs, axes,hoes – had their own particular deities. Inaddition, individuals had their own personalgods to whom they prayed and looked forsalvation. Magic was prominent inBabylonian religion and Ea, god of wisdom,was also god of spells and incantations. Thesun and the moon had their own gods,Shamash and Sin respectively. Shamash wasalso the god of justice. Adad was the god ofwind, storm and flood and Ishtar, a dynamic,but cruel deity, was goddess of love and war.Although the general tenor of Babylonianreligion was beneficent, there was also anegative, fearful side to it. This wasrepresented by underworld gods, demons,devils and monsters who posed an ongoingthreat to the wellbeing of humanity.WORSHIP AND RITUAL IN BABYLONIAWorship and ritual at the Babylonian templesusually took place out of doors, in courtyardswhere there were fountains for washing beforeprayers and altars where sacrifices wereoffered. The private areas of a temple, themonopoly of the high priest, the clergy androyalty, were indoors. The occult tendency inBabylonian religion was fully representedamong the clergy. They included astrologers,soothsayers, diviners, the interpreters ofdreams, musicians and singers.Sacrifices took place daily. OneBabylonian temple kept a stock of7,000 head of cattle and150,000 head of other animalsfor this purpose alone. Apartfrom animals, sacrificesconsisted of vegetables, incenseor libations of water, beer andwine. There were numerousfestivals, including a feast for thenew moon and the most important,Akitu, which lasted 11 days andinvolved lively processions. At Akitu,worshippers purified themselves,propitiated the gods, offeredsacrifices, performed penance andobtained absolution.The BabyloniansThere were two empires of Babylonia –the Old Empire (c. 2200–1750 BC) and theNeo-Babylonian Empire (625–539 BC).Both the Babylonian andAssyrianreligions, which bore a closeresemblance to one another,originally derived from that ofSumeria. However, differencesbetween them evolved over time.The Babylonian religion stressedgoodness, truth, law and order,justice and freedom, wisdom andlearning, courage and loyalty.Thechief Babylonian god was Marduk,‘king over the universe entire’.
  • 20. T H E B A B Y L O N I A N S21BABYLONIAN BELIEFThe ethos of Babylonia was essentiallyphilanthropic. Compassion and mercy wereprime virtues. The poor and unfortunate,widows and orphans, were accorded specialprotection. No one, however virtuous, wasconsidered to be faultless so that suffering,where it occurred, was never entirelyundeserved. The gods handed out punishmentfor unethical or immoral behaviour. To obtainthe help of the gods in solving problems, itwas necessary first of all to confess sin andadmit to failings. Only then would anindividual’s personal god intercede for themwith the greater Babylonian deities. There wasno comfortable afterlife in Babylonian belief.After death, the spirit parted from the bodyand all that awaited it was descent into thedark underworld. There was no protectionfrom a wretched existence after death, noteven for those who had led righteous andethical lives.The renowned Babylonian skill inastronomy and mathematics developedfrom the interest in the heavens that wasan integral part of their religion. Using onlythe naked eye, astronomers would observethe movements of heavenly bodies and usethem to make prophecies or casthoroscopes. In Babylonian times, theseven planets visible in the sky – theSun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars,Jupiter and Saturn – were wanderersamong the fixed constellations of thezodiac. Each of them had its own god orgoddess. In common with the Sumerians,the Babylonians believed that heavenand earth had once been joined as asingle enormous mountain. This wasimitated by ziggurat temple towerswhich were regarded as cosmicmountains. Apart from the Tower ofBabel, whose construction wasdetailed in the Biblical Book ofGenesis, the most apposite was theziggurat built by King Nebuchadnezzar(c. 630–562 BC), the Temple of SevenSpheres of the World. This had seventiers, one for each stage of heaven, asrepresented by the seven visible planets.Inside was a vault, also constructed inseven levels, which represented the sevengates through which Ishtar, goddess of sexand war, passed during her regulardescents into the underworld.THE COSMOLOGY OF BABYLONc. 2200–1750 BC Old Babylonian Empirec.1900 BC Epic of Gilgameshc.1790 BC Code (of laws) of Hammurabi, sixth king oftheAmorite dynasty of Babylonc. 1750 BC Death of Hammurabi625 BC Establishment of New Babylonian Empireby King Nabopolassarc. 587 BC Marduk as chief god of Babyloniac. 539 BC Persian conquest of the Babylonian EmpireWhen Anu the Sublime ... and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth... assigned to Marduk ... God of righteousness, dominion overearthly humanity ... they made [Babylon] great on earth, andfounded an everlasting kingdom, whose foundations are laid assolidly as those of heaven and earth.From the Prologue to the Laws ofHammurabi, king of Babylon
  • 21. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S22RELIGION WAS A VITAL factor inunifying and strengthening the AssyrianEmpire (746–612 BC). This was a statereligion, with the king himself as chief priest andrepresentative on earth of Assur the chiefAssyrian god, from whom Assyria likely takes itsname. Divination and prophecy were religiousfunctions of the State, designed to aid the king byrevealing the destiny of the Empire. Even thelibraries of Assyrian cities had a god of their own:Nabu, son of Marduk, principle god ofBabylonia, and the god of scribes. Consideringthe importance of scribes and their records, thismade Nabu effectively the deity overseeingAssyrian government administration. Assyriantemples, modelled on those of Babylonia,tended to be monolithic. Unlike the moreascetic Babylonians, Assyrians favoured richdecorations, large statues and elaborate reliefs ontheir temple buildings. The temples were thescene of daily rituals that included feedingthe gods. To judge by Assyrian records, theexpense was considerable.ASSUR, NATIONAL GOD OF ASSYRIAFour of the six major Assyrian deities – Ishtar,Shamash, Adad and Sin – were identical in bothname and function with those worshipped inBabylonia. However, Assur replaced Marduk asthe chief deity and Ninurta, god of hunting andwar, was Assur’s eldest son. Assur was raised toprominence by King Sennacherib of Assyria(d. 681 BC). Originally, it was Marduk, chief godof Babylonia, who featured in the great ritual atThe AssyriansReligion had important political significance inAssyria.Kings were believed to derive their power fromAssur, thechief god, and both divination and astrology were initiallyfacilities for the use of the monarch. Underlying this though,was a popular religion based on fear and superstition.The Near East 1000–600 BCAt its height the Assyrian Empre wasfocused around the capital at Nineveh,but other cities were also greatcentres of learning.This map showsthe key cities of the empire.With thedestruction of Nineveh in 612 BC by thecombined forces of the Babylonians,Syrians and Medes, the empire ofAssyria finally fell.TarsusAleppoArwadPetraMalazgirtNinevehNimrud ArbailAshur KirkukBabylonDerSusaHarharNippurCalahKhorsabadM e d i t e r r a n e a nS e aA r a b i a nD e s e r tJebel BishriEuphratesTigrisLake VanLake UrmiaP e r s i a nG u l f(by 640)671, 667 BCAssyrian campaignsagainst EgyptM E D E SP E R S I A NSCHALDAEANSU R A R T UNeo-Assyrian empire in 745 BCNeo-Assyrian empire at its greatestextent,c. 705–612 BCNeo-Babylonian empire underNebuchadnezzar II, 604–562 BCThe Near East 1000 – 600 BC
  • 22. T H E A S S Y R I A N S23the Akitu festival, which celebrated his victoryover Tiamat. Tiamat was a primordial creaturewho had created monsters to avenge the death ofher ‘husband’ Apsu at the hands of Ea, one oftheir children, the younger gods. In his role aschampion of the younger gods, however,Marduk killed the monsters and Tiamat as well.Sennacherib, however, ascribed the deed toAssur after he conquered and destroyed Babylonin 689 BC and so gave the god his central place inboth the festival and the Assyrian pantheon.This was a political rather than a religious move.It was believed that Assyria had been granted itsempire by Assur and that its armies were underhis protection. Assyrian kings used to presentAssur with their reports on campaigns they hadconducted, virtually making the god a divinecommander-in-chief.RELIGION AND SUPERSTITIONAssyria was an extremely harsh land, with fewnatural advantages and much arid desert.The struggle for survivalimposed on those wholived there produced apopular religion permeatedwith the power of thesupernatural and dominated by superstition.Devils and evil spirits lurked everywhere andcharms and incantations were frequently used toexorcise them. To the Assyrians, devils anddemons had the power to enter the human bodyand the clay and metal charms worn to fendthem off included human heads and monstrousanimals. Repeating seven times the sevenmagical words inscribed on stone tablets wasanother commonly used means of averting evil.The supernatural appeared so all-pervading inAssyria that a series of omens was developed,listing every conceivable piece of bad luck, withinstructions on how to avoid them. A specialclass of priests – the baru, orseers – dealt with the scienceof omens and portents.May all the gods curse anyone whobreaks, defaces, or removes thistablet with a curse which cannotbe relieved, terrible and mercilessas long as he lives, may they let hisname, his seed be carried off fromthe land, and may they put his fleshin a dog’s mouth.Curse on book-thieves, from thelibrary of King AshurbanipalKing Ashurbanipal of Assyria, who reignedbetween 668 BC and 627 BC, gatheredtogether a collection of texts, written incuneiform (a wedge-shaped script) thatrepresented the first systematicallycatalogued library in theAncient Near East.Much of present-day knowledge concerningAssyria comes from tablets preserved fromthis library, including the text of the Epic ofGilgamesh. An important purpose of thelibrary was to furnish information for priestsand diviners in their work of advising theking and seeing to his spiritual needs.Ashurbanipal’s sources were the libraries oftemples all over Mesopotamia, togetherwith tablets from Ashur, Calah (an ancientAssyrian city south of Mosul in present-dayIraq) and the king’s great capital at Nineveh.Scribes were ordered to copy textsconcerning a wide variety of religious andother subjects: omens, the motions of thesun, moon, planets and stars, prayers,incantations, rituals, proverbs and creationstories. Scientific texts were also storedin Ashurbanipal’s library, together with folktales, one of which, ‘ThePoor Man of Nippur’prefigured the famousstories of ‘One Thousandand One Nights’ fromBaghdad. The library wasdiscovered by Sir HenryLayard during excavationsat the palace of KingSennacherib between1845 and 1851. More than20,000 tablets fromAshurbanipal’s collectionwere later placed in theBritish Museum.THE LIBRARY OF KING ASHURBANIPAL745 BC Succession of KingTiglath-Pileser III, who turnedAssyria into an empire and amilitary state732–722 BC Assyrian conquest of Palestine and Syria710 BC King Sargon II conquers Babylon705 BC Nineveh, rebuilt by King Sennacherib, becomes capital ofAssyria689 BC Assur made national god ofAssyria668–627 BC Reign of KingAshurbanipal612 BC Destruction of Nineveh by Babylonians, Syrians and Medes; fall of theAssyrian Empire.
  • 23. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S24BAAL, WHO WAS worshipped not only inCanaan, but throughout the surroundingarea, was not a name, but a title meaning‘lord’ or ‘master’. This did not describe a single godor divine function. Baal could be lord of trees,rocks, streams, mountains and other naturalphenomena, but was most frequently identifiedwith storms, rain and fertility. The fertility of anarea frequently threatened by drought and desertwas the main preoccupation of Canaanite religionand the gods were often associated with themanifestations of nature. Baal, for instance, wascalled ‘rider of the clouds’, ‘god of lightning andthunder’ or ‘lord of the sky and the earth’.Likewise, Yarikh, the moon god, was calledilluminator of myriads of stars, lamp of heaven orlord of the sickle. The Canaanite pantheon wasbased around a family unit, with the godsenvisaged as kings presiding over royal courts. Thesupreme god, and father of Baal, was El, creator ofcreatures. Shachar, the dawn, and Shalim, the duskwere his twin offspring. Apart from Baal, therewere several fertility deities, such as Baalat,goddesses of conception and childbirth, sea-deitiesand hunter-deities.THE CANAANITES ANDTHE BIBLEThe Canaanites had gods with more sinisterrepresentations: death, sterility, destruction, chaosand the underworld. However, the worship of theseand other gods as idols was not the only aspect ofthe Canaanite religion that earned such a pejorativeimage in the Bible. There is also the controversialassertion that many Canaanite religious practiceswere barbaric, together with what biblical scribessaw as abominations: incest, bestiality and humansacrifice. The practice of offering their children assacrifices to Baal came under special censure. So didThe CanaanitesThe Canaanites are the earliest recorded settlers of ancient Palestine, with ahistory in the region dating back to 3000 BC. Canaanite religion and Canaanite godswere synonymous with nature. For instance, the end of the rainy, fertile seasonwas their sign that Mot, the god of death, had killed Baal in his guise as stormgod.According to the Bible, however, the Canaanites’ abominable religiouspractices marked them for destruction.Kingdoms and EmpiresCanaan is the Biblical name for thearea of ancient Palestine west of theriver Jordan.This map shows Egyptiandominated Canaan and its surroundingkingdoms and empires in the periodfrom 1500–1100 BC.Memphis PetraDamascusByblosPalmyraUgaritHamathQatnaKadeshAlalakhHattushashCarchemishAleppoHarran WashshukanniNinevehAshurDur-KurigalzuNippurSusaDerUrukUrAl-Untash-NapirishaAnshanBabylonJoppaAscalonGathGerarAshdodGazaH I T T I T E E M P I R EG A S G AH U R R IM I TA N N IEGYPTA S S Y R I AE L AMBABYLONIAC I L I C I AM e d i t e r r a n e a n S e aCaspianSeaAegeanSeaTa u r u sM tAn a t o l iLYDIALakeUrmiaLake VanZagrosMtsS y r i aCanaanMesopotamLEVANTAlashiya(Cyprus)OrontesHalysKhaburEuphratesLittleZabGreat ZabKarunKarkhehDiyalaAdhaimNileJordanTigris1295–12641295–12641233–11971295–12641180–115512131126–110512751275ARZAWANSHittite empire established bySuppiluliuma I, 1344–1322 BCMitanni territory at its greatestextent, 1480–1340 BCMitanni after 1340 BC (underHittite and Assyrian control)Assyrian territory gained byAshur-uballit I, 1353–1318 BCBabylonia underBurnaburiash II, 1347–1321 BCElam under Tepti-ahar,1353–1318 BCEgypt under Amenophis IV andTutankhamun, 1352–1335 BCKingdoms and Empires 1500 – 1100 BC
  • 24. T H E C A N A A N I T E S25the essentially orgiastic, sensual atmosphere ofCanaanite religion and its fertility cults and serpentsymbols. The biblical view of God and worshipwas vastly different from that of the Canaanites.The Canaanites viewed worship as a means ofcontrolling the gods, rather than serving them andthe sexual nature of Canaanite deities was incomplete contrast to the spiritual qualities of thebiblical God who occupied a lofty place, farbeyond such earthly temptations. The biblicalrepresentation certainly has elements of thepolemic and archeology and anthropology show adifferent side to the Canaanites.EXCAVATIONS AT UGARITFor a long time, the Bible was the only source ofinformation about the Canaanites and theirreligion, together with some material from ancientGreek writers. However, the excavations thatbegan at Ugarit (on the coast of present-day Syria,north of Lattaqia) in 1929 considerably expandedthis knowledge. In this area, during King NiqmadII’s reign (c. 1360 BC), sacred texts were recordedon clay tablets at the king’s request, using thecuneiform script invented by the Sumerians in thefourth century BC. Thirty-four deities were listed,beginning with the god residing in Tsafon, thesacred mountain. The deity of the cult of the deadcame next, and thirdly El, the bull and source ofcreation, power, sagacity and virility. Dagan, asemitic god worshipped throughout the Near East,especially in the region of the middle Euphrates,was listed after that, then seven different Baals andthe more minor deities. The rituals recorded on thetablets were all reserved to the king, or to theofficial priesthood who performed them in hispresence. The Ugarit tablets also included textsconcerned with oracles.Up to the present, little direct evidence hasbeen found for the daily practice of religionamong the ordinary people of Canaan,despite the greatly increased knowledgemade available by the excavations at Ugarit,which shared many customs with Canaan.However, a small insight into popular worshipand rituals derives from the thousands of tinybronze figurines which have been found invirtually all the excavations conducted inor around the area of ancient Canaan.These figurines were probably smallrepresentations of the great statues of godsand goddesses that were the subject of publicworship in the temples. It is thought that theywere votive offerings or offerings made toconfirm or consecrate a vow.These figurinescould be very beautiful, elaborate andexpensive. One such, dating from around1900 BC and measuring 235 mm (9 in) high, wasworked in gold and silver foil. The clothingworn by the figurine was intricatelydecorated and showed the god wearingjewellery and a head-dress. By contrast, alimestone statue of the supreme Canaanitegod El seated on a throne, excavated atUgarit, and dating from the thirteenth centuryBC, was monolithic and less elaborate. El isdepicted as an old man, with a grey beard anda sage, benign expression.FUNERARY FIGURINESc. 7000–4000 BC Early Paleolithic (Old StoneAge) and Mesolithic settlements in the area of Canaan.c. 3000–2000 BC BronzeAge settlers, including Semites, in Canaanc. 2000–1500 BC Early recorded history of Canaan regionc. 1500–1200 BC Canaan dominated by Egyptc. 1200 BC Israelites reach Canaanc. 990 BC Final defeat of the Canaanites by Israelitesc. 950 BC Solomon, king of Israel, breaks Canaanite idols and altarsAnd they chopped down thealtars of the Baals in hispresence, and he cut down theincense altars that stood abovethem. And he broke in piecesthe Asherim and the carved andthe metal images, and he madedust of them and scattered itover the graves of those whohad sacrificed to them.Chronicles 2, 34:4
  • 25. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S26EGYPT ENJOYED SEVERAL majorperiods of prosperity, with the statestrongly centralized under the pharaohwho was regarded as a god-king. The first ofthese ‘high points’ was the Old Kingdom(Dynasties 3–6, c. 2650–2150 BC). At this time,the temples to the gods appear to have beenrather small and the resources of the state wereconcentrated on the building of massive royaltombs in the form of pyramids. The pyramidswere symbols of the sun, and of the primevalmound on which the sun first appeared. Thepharaoh was the intermediary between the godsand people and was their provider. It wasthrough the pharoahs that the aloof godsprovided sustenance and justice to the people.Troubled times followed the end of the OldKingdom. There was no single ruling dynasty incontrol of the whole country and rival familiescompeted for power. Egypt was reunited andenjoyed another period of prosperity under theMiddle Kingdom (Dynasties 11–13 c. 2007–1700 BC). During this period there were majordevelopments in funerary practices andliterature, both of which were no longer anexclusively royal preserve. Associated with thiswas an increased devotion to Osiris, the ruler ofthe underworld.THE NEW KINGDOMA second period of breakdown was followed bythe reunification under the New Kingdom(Dynasties 18–20, c. 1539–1069 BC); this was alsothe time of Egypt’s empire in western Asia andNubia. The temples of the kings and gods nowreplaced pyramids as the focus of the state’sbuilding operations. The temples became vaststructures serving as the theatre for elaboratefestival processions. They were also thestorehouses for the wealth of the empire. At theheight of Egypt’s power came the one attempt toreplace the many gods with worship of the sunalone. This phase, in the reign of Akhenaten(c. 1352–1336 BC) was short-lived, but hadrepercussions in the way people understood theirrelationship to the gods.A N C I E N T E G Y P TThe Kingdoms of EgyptDocumented Egyptian history, from the unification of the country tothe acceptance of Christianity as the official religion, lasted some3,500 years.This huge expanse of time saw periods of confidence,prosperity and empire, separated by times of economic trouble and politicalfragmentation. But throughout, the fundamentals of Egyptian religionappear to have remained constant.KarnakMedinet HabuLuxorQubanQasr IbrimFarasIsland of DorginartiSemnaIsland of SaiSolebSesebiTumbosKawaGebelBarkalNapataAnibaAbu SimbelBuhenIsland of MeinartiAmara2nd Cataract3rd Cataract5th Cataract4th CataractE G Y P TA N A T O L I AARABIAG R E E C EAleppoCarchemishEmarTellTayinatAlalakhHamathQatnaKadeshDamascusLaishHazorTaanachBeth-shanTell es-SaidiyehAmmanJerusalemPi-RamesseBubastisTanisHeliopolisMemphisHerakleopolisEl-Amarna(Tell el-Amarna)AbydosThebesUgaritTarsusMersinByblosSidonTyreAcreMegiddoAshdodGazaJoppaCyprusC r e t eS y r i a nD e s e r tM e d i t e r r a n e a n S e aRedSeaN u b i a nD e s e r tNileNew Kingdom EgyptNew Kingdom templesEgyptian fortress or garrisoncore area of Egyptian stateNubian gold resourcestrade routeslimit of Egyptian control in Nubiaunder Amenophis I (1527–1507 BC)limit of Egyptian control in Nubiaunder Tuthmosis III (1490–1436 BC)northern limit of campaigns ofTuthmosis I (1507–1494 BC) andTuthmosis III (1490–1436 BC)boundary between Egyptian andMitannian zones of influence at the endof the reign of Amenophis II (1438–1412 BC)boundary between Egyptian and Hittitezones of influence at the end of the reign ofAkhenaten, 1347 BCEgypt’s Nubian EmpireThe map shows Egypt’s Nubian Empire.Nubia, on Egypt’s southern frontier,was conquered and garrisoned by thepharaohs of the twelfth dynasty(1991–1783 BC) who built forts atstrategic points.At the end of theMiddle Kingdom control was lost, butthe territory was reconquered by theeighteenth dynasty pharaohs(1552–1306 BC), who pushed it bordersfarther south. Nubia eventually brokeaway at the end of the New Kingdom.
  • 26. T H E K I N G D O M S O F E G Y P T27THE LATE PERIODFollowing the end of the New Kingdom there wasanother period of fragmentation, and attempts bysome rulers to regain Egypt’s former power failedin the face of the Babylonian and Persian empires.Despite the loss of empire and periods of foreignrule, the Late Period (Dynasties 26–30, 664–323BC) did see many huge temples constructed. Thiswas also the time when the cults of sacred animalswere most popular.In 332 BC Alexander the Great of Macedontook Egypt from the Persians, and for the threecenturies following his death the PtolemaicDynasty ruled the country. This period broughtmany Greek settlers to Egypt and saw theidentification of Greek with Egyptian gods (soRe, the sun god, was identified with Helios, andthe goddess Hathor with Aphrodite), and alsothe spread of some Egyptian cults around theMediterranean. This process continued whenEgypt fell under Roman rule, and the cult of Isisbecame one of the major religions of the RomanEmpire. Christianity found a home in Egypt veryearly and monasticism flourished in the deserts.During the first centuries AD Christianity and thetraditional Egyptian gods co-existed and therewas certainly a strong influence from the oldcults on many aspects of the worship andiconography of the newer religion.The most striking episode in Egypt’s religioushistory is the 17-year reign of the pharaohAkhenaten (c. 1352–36 BC) at the height of theNew Kingdom. This is still one of the mostcontroversial subjects in Egyptology.Ascending the throne as Amenhotep IV, thenew pharaoh soon abandoned the major statecults, notably that of the godAmun, in favourof a solar cult emphasizing the visible disk ofthe sun, the Aten. At some point in the reignthere was an iconoclastic phase when theimages of gods, particularly Amun, weredestroyed. The extraordinary style of artadoptedatthistime,alliedwiththepoetryandcontent of the sun hymns, led earlyEgyptologists to present a false impression ofthe pharaoh as a true monotheist, and apacifist.They also suggested thatAkhenatenwas the pharaoh who had befriended Joseph,and that his hymns to the sun were aninfluence on the biblical Psalms.Egyptologists now think that in many waysAkhenaten’sreligiousideaswerereactionary,attempting to reinstate the sun cult of the OldKingdom pyramid builders, with its emphasisupon the pharaoh as the sole intermediarybetween the divine and human realms. Theexperiment proved unacceptable andfollowing Akhenaten’s death the traditionalcults were rapidly restored.AKHENATEN: THE FIRST MONOTHEIST?EGYPTIAN DYNASTIESc. 5000–2900 BC Predynasticc. 2900–2650 BC Early Dynastic Dynasties 1–2c. 2650–2150 BC Old Kingdom Dynasties 3–6c. 2150–2007 BC First Intermediate Period Dynasties 7–10c. 2007–1700 BC Middle Kingdom Dynasties 11–13c. 1700–1539 BC Second Intermediate Period Dynasties 13–17c. 1539–1069 BC New Kingdom Dynasties 18–20c. 1069–656 BC Third Intermediate Period Dynasties 21–25664–332 BC Late Period Dynasties 26–30332–323 BC Persian Empire under Alexander323–30 BC Ptolemaic Period30 BC–AD 395 Roman Period
  • 27. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S28EGYPTIAN RELIGION developed in thelong period known as the PredynasticPeriod (c. 5000–2900 BC) before theunification of Egypt into one kingdom. In thenineteenth century Egyptologists explained themany gods that characterize Egyptian religion asthe product of this Predynastic Period. Theythought that Egypt was divided into many smallkingdoms or chiefdoms, each with its majorcentre and gods, a triad of creator god (usuallymale), consort and child. When Egypt wasunited these gods remained as the patrons of thedifferent regions, and at a later stage there wereattempts to rationalize and amalgamate godswith similar associations (such as solar gods).This interpretation served to explain thedaunting number of gods in the Egyptianpantheon, but it is now regarded as simplistic.The Egyptians were polytheistic: they acceptedthe existence of numerous gods, somewith very specific functions, and others whowere only vaguely defined. They alsocreated many new gods asoccasion demanded. SomeEgyptologists have claimedthat – certainly by the laterperiods – all gods wereaspects of one, andthat Egyptian religion wasmoving towards monotheism. While a process ofrationalization does appear to be a feature of thelater periods, there was no attempt to abandonthe polytheistic system.DEPICTINGTHE GODSOne of the most striking features of Egyptianreligious imagery is the way that animal and birdheads are combined with a human body. Godscan often be associated with more than oneanimal, representing different characteristics orphases of their existence. Some of theassociations are obscure to us, but others arevery obvious. The scarab beetle was a symbol ofThe Egyptian PantheonEgyptian art presents us with hundreds of gods, manywith animal or bird heads, some even more complexcreatures combining a beetle’s body, bird’s wings andanimal heads. Each of the different elements representedto the Egyptians a recognizable characteristic whichencapsulated the nature of the god.Pyramids and Temples of theOld KingdomDuring the period of the Old Kingdom(c. 1539–1069 BC) the main focus ofEgyptian religious practice was pyramidbuilding, rather than temple construction.The pharaoh was thought to be theintermediary between humanity and thegods; the pyramids were representationsof this power as well as conduits to theunderworld and eternal life.PithomT. er-RatabaTanisNabeshaQantir(Avaris,Pi Ramesse)BubastisAthribisT. el-YahudiyehHeliopolisBusirisMendesGizaSaqqara MemphisButoSaisIllahunEl-AmarnaHermopolisAbydosKarnakLuxorEl-KabHieraconpolisGebeleinMalqataThebes (W)Deir el-MedinaAbu RoashAbusirDahshurMeidumS i n a iNile( M e d i t e r r a n e a n S e a )G r e a t S e aL O W E R E G Y P TU P P E RE G Y P TPyramids and Temples of the Old KingdomPyramidTemple
  • 28. T H E E G Y P T I A N P A N T H E O N29the creator god Khepri because it lays its eggs ina ball of dung. The scarab rolling the ball ofdung was associated with the sun god pushingthe sun disk across the sky; but moreimportant, the small scarabsemerged from the dung as if theyhad created themselves.Emerging as the new-bornsun, Khepri rose into the skyand was transformed intothe falcon-headed god atthe sun’s zenith. After sunsethe assumed the head ofa ram to travel throughthe night towards his rebirthnext dawn.Many of the goddesseshad an ambivalent nature, soHathor could appear as thewild cow of the Delta marsheswhich had to be calmed, and indoing so became the domestic cow.Although calmed, such goddesses alwayshad the potential to become violent again. Thisappeasing of violent aspects of the world is at theheart of Egyptian cult practices.MINOR DEITIESThere were numerous minor deities whohad specific functions in relation to theunderworld, or protection in this life.The major deities tended tobe rather less specific,although many appearedas creator or solar gods.Falcon-headed godswere common, andassociated with sky.Many of the goddessescould appear as bothvulture and as the rearingcobra, the uraeus, whichspits fire at the pharaoh’senemies. Nekhbet, andother goddesses such as Isis,were thought of as the motherof the pharaoh, therefore theycould assume vulture form andqueens wore a headdress in theform of a vulture with extended wings;they could also be shown with vulture wingsenfolding their bodies. In Egyptian hieroglyphicthe word ‘mother’ uses the symbol for a vulture.The Egyptians believed that it was thepharaoh who ensured the afterlife of theordinary people: he cared and provided forthem in the afterlife as he had on earth. Evenso, during the Predynastic period, the deadwere buried with food and other equipmentto assist them.Towards the end of the OldKingdom, with a decline in royal power, therewas a change, and everyone expected toenjoy the afterlife. The cult of Osirisdeveloped at the same time and rose to ever-greater prominence in the Middle and NewKingdoms. Osiris was a mythical pharaohmurdered by his brother, who cut his bodyinto pieces and scattered them across theglobe. These pieces were collected by hissister-wife Isis and mummified by Anubis,the dog- or jackal-headed god of thecemeteries, who invented embalming.Briefly restored to life he was able to fatherHorus (the pharaoh) before becoming rulerof the underworld. Every Egyptian could lookforward to becoming ‘an Osiris’.To this endelaborate preparations were made:mummification to preserve the body so thatthe soul (the ba) could return to it (the ba isshown as a human-headed bird, and isthought of as leaving the tomb and flyingaround), and a tomb and grave goods.Complex religious texts (the Book of theDead) aided the passage of the soul throughthe gates of the underworld, to thejudgement hall of Osiris, where the heartwas weighed in the balance against ‘truth’.It was only after vindication that thedeceased could go on to enjoy the afterlife.OSIRIS AND THE AFTERLIFEHomage to thee, Osiris, Lord ofeternity, King of gods, whosenames are manifold, whoseforms are holy, thou being ofhidden form in the temples,whose Ka is holy….Thou artthe Great Chief, the first amongthy brethren, the Prince ofCompany of the Gods, thestabiliser of Right andTruththroughout theWorld, the Sonwho was set on the great throneof his father Keb.Thou artbeloved of thy mother Nut,the mighty one of valour….Hymn to Osiris, fromthe Book of the Dead
  • 29. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N STemples and WorshipIn Egypt the priests performed rituals in the temples on behalf of the pharaoh, to ensure thepreservation of the cosmos. Personal intercessions could be made in the home, in the majortemples or village shrines, using intermediary statues or images carved on the walls, or when thegod’s statue was brought out in a festival procession.Pharonic EgyptThis map shows the major templesand sites of worship during theperiod of the pharaohs in Egypt.Although many ancient Egyptians hadshrines to the household gods in theirhomes, the temples became a focalpoint not just for religious worshipbut also for state occasions such asfestivals and processions.Tell el-Fara`inTell el-MuqdanQantirTell el-Dab`aTell el-MaskhutaTell BastaTell el YahudiyaMaadiEl-OmariMit RahinaEl-LishtKom el-HisnTell AtribMerimda Beni SalamaAbu RoashGizaAbusirSaqqaraDahshurHawaraMedinet el-FayumMedinet MaadiMeidumEl-LahunIbnasya el-MedinaEl-HibaGurobBeni HasanDeir el-BershaEl-AmarnaEl-AshmuneinMeirAsyutAkhmimNag el-DeirDenderaDeir el-BallasQiftKarnak, LuxorTodEl-MoallaEsnaElkabGebeleinArmantNaqadaValley of the KingsEdfuKom OmboAswanPIRAMESSEAVARISBUBASTISLEONTOPOLISMEMPHISATHRIBISCROCODILOPOLISNARMOUTHISANKYRONPOLISHERAKLEOPOLIS MAGNABUTOSAISNAUKRATISMENDESTAREMUTANISAKHETATENHERMOPOLIS MAGNAABYDOSKOPTOSTHEBESLATOPOLISAPHRODITOPOLISHERMONTHISNECHEBAPOLLINOPOLIS MAGNAELEPHANTINEHELIOPOLISsalt lakeRedSeaL O W E R E G Y P TUPPEREGYPTsettlementtempletombssite with archaeologicalremainsEarly DynasticOld KingdomMiddle KingdomNew KingdomLate Periodfertile landmodern nameancient namecapitals of Upper andLower EgyptAswanMEMPHISPharaonic Egypt
  • 30. T E M P L E S A N D W O R S H I P31EGYPTIAN TEMPLES were a significantpart of the state machine. Few templesfrom the early periods survive, and thosethat do are quite small. The major focus of statebuilding in the Old Kingdom was the pyramidand its associated temple, emphasizing the roleof the pharaoh as god on earth. In the NewKingdom (c.1539–1069 BC) temples were majorland-holders and employers throughout thecountry. The temples became the repositories ofthe wealth of Egypt’s empire, and they were thefocus of the largest state building operations.This accounts for the vast scale of temples likethat of Amun at Karnak, still one of the largestsurviving religious complexes. However, thetemples and the priesthood remained under thedirect authority of the pharaoh: there was nodivision between Church and State.In the New Kingdom festival processionsbecame an important feature of religion, and this,too, played its part in the development of templesand the religious landscape of the cities. The godsnow travelled between temples, along the river,canals or sphinx-lined avenues. Carried in thesacred barks (portable boats with a shrine for thestatue of the god), the veiled images were stillinvisible to the ordinary people, but theirpresence was indicated by the head of the godwhich adorned the prow and stern of the bark.GODS ANDTHE INDIVIDUALThe Egyptians made offerings to their householdgods, and perhaps to their ancestors, at shrinesin the main rooms of their homes. These godsprotected against the hazards of daily life, suchas snakes and scorpions, illness and disease, andduring the dangerous times of pregnancy andchildbirth. The gods were often rather fearsomein appearance, and armed with sharp knives.Among the most popular of these gods was Bes,a dwarf with a lion skin around his face, whostuck out his tongue to ward off evil. Besfrequently accompanied another popular deity,Taweret, who was a pregnant hippopotamuswith lion’s paws and a crocodile tail: she alsoprotected women during childbirth.One significant development in Egyptianreligious thought during the New Kingdom wasthat of the direct relationship of the individual tothe major gods. These became moreapproachable, and a large number ofinscriptions record prayers to the gods for help,or recording the afflictions (usually described as‘blindness’) caused by ‘sin’ or taking the name ofthe god in vain. People could go to the statetemples to pray, adore and present offerings tothe gods. Access was limited to certain areas,such as the great forecourt, or a shrine at theback of the temple. The statues of pharaohs andofficials set up in these outer parts functioned asintermediaries and passed on the prayers to thegods inside.THETOMBThe other major focus ofreligious activity was thetomb. Egyptian tombs werefamily vaults, focussed on adecorated tomb chapel builtby the leading member.Here, at certain times of theyear, families would gatherto celebrate rituals ofrenewal with theirancestors, bringing thestatues out from the chapelto receive the rays of therising sun. Here they wouldgather to enact theelaborate burial rituals toensure the journey of thesoul into the afterlife.In form, the Egyptian temple combined theattributes of a house, with an image of themoment of creation. Protected by hightowers (a pylon), the entrance led into apublic open court, where people could cometo make their offerings and prayers to thegods. Beyond this court, access wasincreasingly restricted. One or morecolumned offering halls, flanked with roomsfor the storage of cult objects, led to thesanctuary, where only the highest priestscould go. This sanctuary represented theworld at the moment of creation and here thegod’s image resided in a shrine, the focus ofthe daily ritual.The temple precinct includedother chapels, a sacred lake that suppliedwater for the temple rituals, houses for thepriests when on duty, storage areas andworkshops, and ‘hospitals’ in which the illwere treated, combining medicines and‘magic’.The roof of the temple was used forobservations of the stars, and for the NewYear festival when the statue of the god wastaken to receive the rays of the rising sun.THE HOUSE OF GOD
  • 31. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S32ALTHOUGH THERE ARE known tohave been people in Greece from as longago as Neanderthal times, the firstdistinctively ‘Greek’ culture is thought to havebeen imported by a wave of immigrants pushingwestward from Anatolia some 4,500 years ago.With them they brought bronze-agemetalworking skills unknown tothe Neolithic farmers among whomthey settled. Down the centuriesmany important cultural influenceswould come to the easternMediterranean across the Aegeanand around the coastal fringes ofThrace. Much speculation surroundsthe religious beliefs of the earlyGreeks, as there are few religiousartefacts and little written evidenceto indicate what they were. Onetheory is that they honoured theirown ancestors as guiding spirits andworshipped the deities of localsprings, the weather and other life-sustaining forces.CRETAN CONTRADICTIONSThe first significant civilization inthe area seems to have evolved notin mainland Greece itself, but on theisle of Crete where what is knownas the Minoan civilization had itscapital at Knossos around 2000 BC.As revealed to the modern world bythe nineteenth-century archeologistSir Arthur Evans, Minoan culture(its name derived from that of its great mythicalruler King Minos) was a peace-loving culture ofartistic accomplishment and nature-worship.Though later Greeks, envious of the Minoanachievement, might have told of the bull-headedmonster held in the labyrinth beneath Minos’sPargaSpiliaMaramarianiIolkosToumbaKastrakiGritsaAyios TheodhorosKouphia RachiChrysovitsaMilaMazarakataAkroterionAraxosAyios IliasBougaKrisaPanopeus PyrgosAyia MarinaKatakolouAyios loannisChantsaOrchomenosKakovatosKamariMandraStylariXerovrysiMalthiEllinikoPeristeriaKoukounaraAithaia MenelaionVaphioKambosArkinesPylosGaralavouniDaraNichoriaYenitsariMidhenAyios NikolaosCharakopioPavlopetriKastriVourvouraAsine KastroDendraArgosTirynsProsymmaBerbatiMycenaeKorakouPerdikariaKolonnaAthensMenidiVranaThorikosAyia IriniPhylakopiStrovikiGlaKastriEutresisThebesZacynthusCephaloniaIthacaAmbracianGulfYiouraPelagosIliodhromiaSkopelosSkyrosKeaKythnosSerifosMelosHydraSpetsaiAeginaSalamisCytheraI o n i a nS e aM i r t o a nS e aA e g e a nS e aPagaseanGulfGulf of EuboeaG u l f o f C o r i n t hP E L O P O N N E S EGul fo f P a t r a sGulfofMesseniaParnonMtsGulfofLaconiaGulfofArgolisS a r o n i cG u l fArakhthosAspropotamosEvrotasPindusMtsLakeIoanninaLakeTrikhonisLake VoiviisLake XiniaLakeKopaisLakeTakaAlfiosT H E S S A L YE UBOE AA E T O L I AP H O C I SB O E O T I AAT T I CAA C H A E AL A C O N I AEPI RUSmajor settlementmajor fortificationfortificationmajor palacetrade routefertile plainsMycenaean Greece1400–1000 BCG R E E C E A N D R O M EClassical OriginsThe civilization established by the ancient Greeks and subsequently builtupon by Rome would in time be regarded as the foundation for 2,000 years ofwestern history, though no-one could have forseen this imposing legacy.Whilethe great states of Mesopotamia and Egypt flourished, stone-age farmers inwhat we now know as Greece were still scratching at the soil, eking out thesparsest possible of livings from year to year.The story of classical religion,like that of classical culture more generally, is one of local practices andtraditions being brought gradually to coherence through the evolution ofever more far-reaching states and empires.Mycenaean GreeceThe Mycenaeans took control of theAegean after the Minoan civilizationhad disappeared.They wereapparently a warlike people, asproved by the impressive fortifiedcitadels that have been discovered,as well as implements of war.Theirgreat palaces and citadels testify totheir major preoccupation: trade.The map shows sites of key buildingsof the Mycenaean culture.
  • 32. C L A S S I C A L O R I G I N S33palace, the reality was altogether gentler. ForEvans, the Minoans’ elevation of femininity overbrute masculinity was symbolized by the imageof graceful girl-gymnasts vaulting over the backof a charging bull. Finds from impressive arsenalsof weaponry to evidence of human sacrifice (andpossibly even cannibalism) have called Evans’sidealized picture increasingly into question, yethe seems to have been correct in his view that theMinoans were subject to a matriarchy. Evidencehas mounted that the king was a mere figureheadbeside the high priestess who really ruled.Likewise, the great goddess Potnia far outrankedthe male deity who was at once her consortand son.Ultimately, the issue of masculinity versusfemininity misses the point of a religion whosemain function may have had less to do withspiritual than economic life. The most vital roleof the Minoan priesthood seems to have been inmaintaining a highly centralized mercantileeconomy with contacts throughout the easternMediterranean: to this, all more obviously sacredroles may well have been secondary. Inscriptionsfound at Knossos, dating from the fourteenthcentury BC, appear to have been written in thehands of up to 70 different scribes, recordingagricultural output in the city’s hinterland ingreat detail. Meanwhile, the priests seem to havesupervised a large number of craftsmen workingin the palace precincts. Pots, jewels and otherluxuries from Knossos have been discoveredthroughout Asia Minor and Southeast Europe,while Egyptian tomb-paintings attest to the visitsof Minoan merchants.THE MYCENAEANS AND AFTERRecords of Minoan culture disappear around1400 BC, supplanted – if not actually destroyed– by the might of Mycenae, then emerging onthe mainland. Apparently as austerelymasculine a culture as the Minoans werefeminine and pleasure-loving, the Mycenaeansleft an archeological legacy of heavy bronzeswords and helmets, and warlike fortifications.Yet here too, appearances may deceive: theMycenaeans’ most important force may wellhave been their army of priestly scribes, forthey were even more meticulous than theMinoans in their administration of what wasclearly first and foremost a trading empire. Yettheir reign was brief: by about 1200 BCMycenean power itself was declining. Thereasons for this remain obscure: historians havesuggested that political instability further eastleft Mycenae cut off from its trading partners,economically stranded. Those same troubles,meanwhile, had their demographic impact too,setting off large-scale movements of peoplesthroughout western Asia. From the coastalsettlements of what is now Turkey, it isthought, came the ‘Sea Peoples’, who ravagedmuch of the eastern Mediterranean with theirraids. Meanwhile, the Dorians – warlikenomads from the western steppe – pouredoverland into northern Greece, the precursorsof later hordes like the Huns and Mongols. Bythe beginning of the first millennium BC, theMycenaeans had disappeared: Greece had littleapparently to show for more than 3,000 yearsof history.Digging at Anemospilia, Crete, in 1981, Greek researchersYannis and Efi Sakellarakis made a remarkable find afteropening up what appeared to have been a basement room inan ancient temple that was believed to have been destroyedby an earthquake in about 1700 BC. There they found theskeletal remains of a boy, trussed up like a sacrificial bull,with a priest and priestess beside him poised to cut histhroat with a knife and catch his blood in a cup. Speculationthat the sacrificial victim was the son of one or both of hiswould-be dispatchers has never been confirmed, but therecan be no doubt that they were caught in the act of humansacrifice.The seismic disaster they were apparently seekingto stave off seems to have struck too suddenly for them tocomplete the ritual: buried beneath tons of fallen masonry,the tableau would remain frozen in mid-moment, lyingundisturbed for 37 centuries. If the scene the Sakellarakisesexposed amounts to an archeological snapshot of a pivotalpoint in the great Cretan civilization’s agonising collapse,their discovery also spelled a severe fall in the Minoans’modern reputation for gracious humanity.BLOOD RITES
  • 33. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S34THE IMPOSITION upon a culture ofsubsistence farming of a civilizationthat raised its eyes to the heavens can beseen represented symbolically in the story of thewar between the Titans and Olympians. Asrecorded by Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 700 BC), theworld was once ruled by the Titans, the childrenof Gaia, the earth, and Uranus (Heaven), her sonand husband. To this point, the antique ordercorresponded with the sort of matriarchyimagined by the Minoans, with their goddessPotnia, but events took a different turn in thedeveloping Greek tradition. The story tells howKronos, Gaia’s youngest son, castrated his fatherand usurped his throne; he then married hissister Rhea, but in order to secure his position,he swallowed all their children as they wereborn. One alone escaped: the infant Zeus wassmuggled to safety in Crete, where he grew tomanhood plotting revenge against his unnaturalsire. The god of open sky and mountain-top,Zeus was armed with flashing thunderbolts, andestablished his seat on the summit of Greece’shighest peak, Mount Olympus, from where heled his own family in war against the Titans(now regurgitated so as to be able to help in theirfather’s defence). The final victory of Zeus andhis Olympians marked not only the end of theregion’s pre-Greek period, but also a significantbreak with a past in which mother earth hadbeen at the spiritual centre of things.WARS OF GODS AND MENThe epics of Homer (eighth century BC) didmore than anything else to forge a commonGreek identity. His tale of the battle for Troy,the warlike Iliad, and his account of the longand difficult homecoming of the tricksterOdysseus, the Odyssey, may differ significantlyin tone and technique, but both hold up a set ofGreek heroes for respect and emulation. Thesestories, and the values they enshrined, becamepart of the general Greek inheritance, unitingscattered communities which might otherwisehave shared only mutual enmity.THE OLYMPIADThe Homeric poems also mark the unforgettablemythic debut of the Olympians as rulers of theheavens, the often all-too human divinitiesHomeric Gods and HeroesThe ‘DarkAge’ that followed the fall of Mycenae was not, perhaps,as black as it has since been painted, although there was no greatcivilization to chronicle its history or give it cultural coherence.Although cast by history in the role of wild invaders, the incomingpeoples brought with them a spirit of cultural ambition and enterprise.Their knowledge of ironworking filled the breach that the now lost bronzetechnology had once filled, and a slow re-urbanization of the countrybegan. From this early urban culture emerged the epic poems of Homer;chronicles of the distant Mycenean past and a defining work of future Greekcultural, religious and political consciousness.
  • 34. H O M E R I C G O D S A N D H E R O E S35presiding over the fortunes – and misfortunes – ofmortal men and women. Hence, outraged at theslight they have received in being placed behindAphrodite in terms of beauty, Hera, Zeus’s sisterand queen, and his daughter Athene, the goddessof wisdom, both side with the Greeks in thehostilities that follow Paris’s theft of Helen.While the goddess of beauty and love herself maystand loyally by her supporter’s city, Aphroditecannot finally prevail over the other goddesses,despite the assistance of her lover Ares, the god ofwar. Poseidon the earth-shaker, god of the sea,sets himself against Troy from the very start –although he also does his best to hinderOdysseus’s subsequent homeward journey.Fortunately, the hero has help from Hermes, themessenger of the gods. Even Apollo, theradiant sun-god, is not above interveningto bring about the death of theapparently invincible Achilles, whilehis sister the virgin-huntress Artemis,goddess of the moon, also takes thepart of Troy.If the Greek gods as exhibited inHomer seem by today’s standardsmore petty than divine, their foibleshave the paradoxical effect ofunderlining the importance ofhuman agency. A culture which sawso many mortal frailties in itsdeities was correspondingly quickto discern the potential forgreatness in humankind: the resultwould be an age of unparalleled artistic andintellectual achievement. Long before theParthenon or Plato, in the depths of asupposedly ‘Dark Age’, the ancient Greekshad set forth on the long road that wouldlead to modernity.Asked to judge which was the fairestgoddess – Hera, Athene or Aphrodite –Paris, Prince of Troy, was offered variousinducements to sway his decision. Hera,the consort of Zeus, offered him the gift ofempire, whileAthene promised him militarymight. Aphrodite, goddess of love, temptedhim with the most beautiful woman in theworld – and the young Paris could not resist.This most beautiful woman was Helen,wife of Menelaus, the king of Sparta (andbrother ofAgamemnon, king ofArgos). Pariseloped with Helen after being welcomed inSparta as an honoured guest, and heroesfrom scores of Greek cities heededAgamemnon’s call to arms and lay siege toTroy in an effort to restore Helen to hercuckolded husband. The conflict thatfollowed was a series of stentorian speechesand heroic single combats, with the warriorethics of pride and honour.Thus we meet thecourageousAjax, the cunning Odysseus andthe angry Achilles – all but indestructiblesince his mother dipped him in the Styx, theriver of the underworld, when he was aninfant. Only the heel by which she held himwas left unprotected, and it was here that hewould finally be caught by an arrow fromParis’s bow, after the Greek had slaughteredParis’s brother, the noble Trojan generalHector. The famous tale of the WoodenHorse – the ‘gift’ within which Odysseus andhis troops contrived to make their way intothe city – does not in fact figure in Homer’sIliad, though it is referred to incidentally inthe Odyssey.THE TROJAN WARS
  • 35. C I V I L I Z A T I O N A N D R E L I G I O N37ultimate symbol of ‘classical’ perfection. Its linesassert the triumph of human skill and ingenuity, adisdainful reproach to the rough untidiness ofnature. A temple to Athene, the Parthenonenshrines for ever the co-opting of an Olympiangoddess as tutelary deity to a single city.FESTIVALSThe festival calendar in classical Greece likewiseplaced a premium on mortal, rather than divine,accomplishment: so it was, for example, with theoriginal Olympic Games. First held in 776 BC inthe shadow of Mount Olympus, this gatheringbrought the youth of Greece together to competein running, wrestling and other tests of speed,strength and skill. Although the athletes’achievements were offered up to Zeus (there weregames in the name of Apollo and Athenaelsewhere), such tournaments were first andforemost a showcase for the grace and strength ofthe human body. The importance of Dionysos,god of revelry, cannot be overestimated: therewere seven Dionysiac festivals a year in Athensalone. The whole city processed to the theatre,where music and dancing set the scene forprogrammes of drama from farce to tragedy.AVENEER OF CIVILIZATION?Yet if a city like Athens had much to celebrate,individual people still feared sickness and death,while states knew they were never entirely safefrom the possibility of crop failure, plague ormilitary defeat. The construction of a second fineclassical temple to Athene on the Acropolis (theErechtheion, around the much older shrine ofErechtheus, mythical king and archaic earth-god)underlines how reluctant the Athenians were to letgo entirely of their older ancestral ways. In variousof its aspects the cult of Apollo – and still more thatof his son the serpent-god Asklepios, master ofhealing – hark back to pre-Olympian religiouscults. As for the wild trances entered into by themore determined adherents of Dionysos, theysuggest the sort of shamanism now associated withindigenous religions of the most ‘basic’ sort.The tradition that Kore, the daughter ofDemeter, goddess of the harvest, had beenabducted by Hades, the ruler of theunderworld, was commemorated byAthenianyouths in an annual autumn pilgrimage to thescene of the crime at Eleusis, on the coastnorth-west ofAthens. Enraged at her loss, thegoddess of the harvest had struck down thecrops where they were growing in the fields –they would not bear fruit again, she warned,until she once more had her daughter.Concerned that their human subjects wouldsoon starve, the gods sent Hermes down intothe earth to bring Kore back – if she had eatennothing in her time below she would be freeforever. Hades had tempted her to take a fewpomegranate seeds, however, and she wasthus deemed to have sealed her marriagewith the infernal king.Although restored oncemore to her mother, Kore was from that timeobliged to return to her husband’s home forone season in every four. During that timeDemeter’s bitterness is marked by bitingfrosts and barren soil.The tradition of Kore’sdescent to the underworld each winter andher subsequent resurrection for the spring,clearly reflects an age-old concern with thecontinuation of the agricultural cycle(presided over, not by male Zeus, but by afemale deity), as well as a more moderntheological preoccupation with the questionof life after death.DEATH OF THE YEAR
  • 36. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S38AS MIGHT BE expected with sopragmatic a people, the Romans tookover the Greek gods along with muchelse, adapting more or less the entire Olympianpantheon to their own purposes. Thus fatherZeus became thundering Jupiter, his wife Herathe imperious Roman Juno, while Aphroditebecame the love goddess Venus and chasteArtemis Diana. Athene passed her wisdom on toMinerva, the messenger Hermes was reinventedas Mercury. Yet such apparently straightforwardtransformations may mask rather more complexorigins: the most famous Roman god of all, forexample, was the war-god Mars. Although intime he assumed the attributes of the Greek Ares,he had in fact started life among the early Latinsas an agricultural deity. Only as Rome’s raisond’etre shifted down the generations from thefarming to the military front did Mars by slowdegrees take on his more warlike nature.A BORROWED PANTHEONThere was in fact no shortage of gods andgoddesses, but most found their identitiesmerged with, and their functions assumed by,members of this new and Greek-derivedpantheon. One uniquely Roman deity who didsurvive, however, was the double-faced Janus,god of gateways, entrances and exits, newventures and fresh beginnings. Associated notonly with daybreak but with the world’screation, he was honoured on the first day ofevery month, as well as throughout Januarius,the first month of every year. Besides the greatgods so far mentioned, the Romans heldThe Gods in Imperial RomeThe origins of Rome were obscure and unpromising: through the earliercenturies of the first millennium BC another civilization dominated what isnow central Italy – the Etruscans.The lively culture of the Etruscans is bestremembered for its elaborately decorated complexes of tombs, but theywere also responsible for the drainage scheme which allowed thereclamation of the land on which Rome would be built. Expanding downwardfrom the surrounding hilltops, under the auspices of Etruscan rule, thesettlement established by Latin shepherds in the mid-eighth century wasslowly evolving and as it grew, so did its confidence and self-belief: by509 BC, Rome had succeeded in expelling its Etruscan overlords; as arepublic, it would bring all Italy under its control. By the second century ADRome’s dominions spanned the known world, from Scotland to Syria, yet thecivilization propagated there was recognizably Greek in origin.GenuaPataviumMantuaSpinaRavennaAriminum(Marzabotto)NovilaraCortonaFelsina (Bononia)PisaeVolaterraePopuloniaVetuloniaRusellaeTarquiniiVucliPerusiaClusiumVolsiniiAsculumFaleriiAleriaAmiternumRomeVeiiVeronaCaereOstiaAntiumAnxur (Tarracina)CapuaCumae NeapolisArpiBrundisiumTarentumMetapontumSirisPosidoniaElea (Velia)SybarisLausCrotonLocri EpizephyriiZancleMylaeRhegiumTyndarisNaxusHimeraPanormusSelinusAgrigentumGela SyracusaeCamarinaNeapolisCaralesNoraHippo DiarrhytusUticaTunesCarthageOlbiaTurris LibisonisMalventumArretiumETRUSCANSLATINIRHAETIVENETICELTSLIGURESPICENTESUMBRIANSSABINIAURUNCIVOLSCIIAPYGESMESSAPIIBRUTTIISICANIELYMISICULISAMNITESLUCANITicinusAdduaArnusCrathisNaroCorsicaSardiniaTy r r h e n i a n S e aAd r i a t i cS e aI o n i a nS e aSiciliaCossuraSavusPadusUmbroTiberisAufidusSybarisAeoliae InsulaeCarthaginianEtruscanGreekItalicThe Peoples of Italy 500 BCThe Peoples of ItalyThe Etruscans were the dominantcivilization in Italy throughout the earlyfirst millennium BC,but there weresettlements of other peoples across thecountry as well.None were to pose aserious challenge to the Etruscans until therising Roman republic finally drove themout.From this point,the Romans beganextending the boundaries of their empirebeyond their homeland and at its height,the Roman Empire ruled much of theknown world.
  • 37. T H E G O D S I N I M P E R I A L R O M E39innumerable other minor deities in awe:the Lares (household spirits) andPenates (guardians of thepantry) were only the bestknown of these. If Januspresided over doorways, therewere separate spirits responsiblefor hinges, thresholds andthe doors themselves. Forthe pious Roman anyaction, from pruning avine to embarkingon an overseasvoyage, mightrequire theperformance of preciserituals, special prayersand propitiatory offerings.AUGUSTUS,EMPEROR AND GODAs time went on, andpower in what had oncebeen a republic becameconcentrated more andmore in the hands ofindividual leaders, Romesaw the development ofwhat modern stateswould come to knowas the ‘cult of personality’. Theadulation accorded togenerals such as JuliusCaesar led to their elevationto effective dictatorship, arole merely ratified when, in27 BC, Octavian, Caesar’sgreat-nephew and adoptiveson, and final victor in thelong years of faction-fighting thathad followed the dictator’sassassination in 44 BC, enthronedhimself as ‘Imperator’ or EmperorAugustus (the name simply means‘splendid’). In Egypt and the Asiaticprovinces, where kings had longbeen venerated as gods, he was soonpopularly regarded as a livingdivinity. After his death in AD 14, thisbecame the official policy of Romeitself, and subsequent emperors wereautomatically promoted to the ranks ofdeities. So accepted a part of Romanlife did such deifications become that,when the emperor Hadrian’s younglover Antinous drowned during a visitto Egypt in AD 130, the emperor had theyouth enrolled among the gods andworshipped at shrines throughoutthe Empire.Although the Romans borrowed most of theirpantheon wholesale from the Greeks, theywere not too proud to take assistancewherever it was offered – especially in timesof trouble.Their greatest fear in the early daysof empire was the Punici, or Phoenicians, ofCarthage. The region’s foremost mercantileand naval power, Carthage effectively ruledthe coasts – and thus the commerce – of theentire Mediterranean. If Rome was to expandits influence further, it would have to find away of capturing Carthage. Conversely,Carthage knew it had to see off this threat toits own dominance. In a series of PunicWarsfought from 264 BC, the advantage shiftedback and forth between the two rival empires,at one point threatening to see Roman powerextinguished completely. In the years after218 BC, the Carthaginian general Hannibalranged relatively unhindered through Italy forseveral years, almost reaching the gates ofRome before the general Scipio turned thetables. By 206 BC the Carthaginians, oustedfrom Italy itself, had suffered a serious defeatin Spain. The following year, however, aprodigious meteorite-shower fell upon thecity, an apparent omen which sent theRomans into a fever of consternation. Anoracle urged them to invoke the aid of thePhrygian mother-goddess Cybele, whosesacred throne was a massive black boulderfallen from the skies: she,the prophecy promised,would rid Rome of theCarthaginian menaceonce and for all. Envoyssent to Asia Minor to thePhrygian king returnedbearing Cybele’s throne:three years later, at Zama,Hannibal was finallyvanquished.CYBELE: ASIATIC SAVIOURGREEK GODSANDTHEIRROMAN COUNTERPARTSGreek RomanZeus JupiterHero JunoAphrodite VenusArtemis DianaAthene MinervaHermes MercuryAres Mars
  • 38. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S40PHILOSOPHY BEGAN in the open air,around the city square, or agora, ofAthens, where experienced thinkers or‘sophists’ gave lessons in logic and rhetoric –the art of persuasion – to the sons of moreaffluent citizens. This was the context inwhich the ideas first formulated by Socratestook shape, in the dialogues he had with hisstudents at the end of the fourth century BC.He was compelled to commit suicide in399 BC, charged with ‘impiety’ and thecorruption of Athenian youth – the traditionof intellectuals upsetting those in power wasestablished very early. AlthoughSocrates left no writings, histeachings were recorded by hispupil Plato, whose ownphilosophical contributioncannot clearly be distinguishedfrom his master’s. It has,however, become conventionalto attribute to Plato thedistinction between materialthings and the ideas to whichthey give imperfect reflection,and in the case of humanity thedifference between the body andthe immortal soul. Plato’sstudent Aristotle took the moredown-to-earth view that wecould really only know what wecould perceive for ourselvesthrough our physical senses: thetension between these twoopposing philosophies wouldprove the main intellectualarmature of western thoughtthrough more than 2,000 years.THE SCHOOL OF ATHENSThe colonnaded walks, or stoas, of central Athenswere a favourite haunt of philosophers, hence thename given to the body of thought firstpropounded by Zeno of Citium around the end ofthe third century BC. ‘Stoicism’, as it came to becalled, involved the submission of the individualself to the providential workings of the universe atlarge, the quiet acceptance of adversity and goodfortune alike. As modified by later Greek thinkerslike Epictetus and by Romans such as Seneca,Stoicism became the pre-eminent intellectualmovement of the ancient world. What may soundReligion and PhilosophyThe institutions of Greek and Roman religion are now a matter of strictlyhistorical interest and the beliefs involved no more than an unusually richand colourful mythology. But the philosophies first conceived inclassicalAthens and further developed in ancient Rome haveremained in important respects as vital as ever. Religious andsecular thought have been equally indebted to the work of theseancient pioneers.Without the ideas they set in motion the entireintellectual history of the western world would be very different.
  • 39. R E L I G I O N A N D P H I L O S O P H Y41like a doctrine of passivity in fact involved themost strenuous efforts of discipline and self-control: in AD 65, after falling foul of hisheadstrong pupil Emperor Nero, Seneca took hisown life in perfect calm – the ultimate stoic.THE SCEPTICSceptics such as Pyrrhon (c. 365–270 BC)and his followers took the ‘small-s’ scepticismof Aristotle to extremes, asking how far wecould really know anything – even what oursenses told us. Their solution, ‘suspendingjudgement’, may seem a defeatist one, but tothe true sceptic, it was argued, it broughtcontentment and peace of mind. Pyrrhon’sRoman successor, Sextus Empiricus, gave hisname to the sceptical doctrine of empiricism,the belief that sense-experience was theessential – albeit insufficient – basis ofall knowledge.How far did the ancients actually believetheir own mythology? Did their talesconstitute a religious scripture? And didthey take what we would call a‘fundamentalist’ view of their traditions’literal truth? From as early as the sixthcentury BC, in fact, the mythic conventionsco-existed with a spirit of genuinescientific enquiry – howeverextravagant some of its findingsmay seem in retrospect.Pythagoras (b. c. 580 BC)formulated rules of geometrywhich hold today – as well ashis idiosyncratic philosophy ofreincarnation. By his doctrine ofthe ‘transmigration of the soul’,the spirit slips from one physicalform to another in successive lives,with the potential for progressivepurification through abstinence andvirtuous living. One hundred yearslater Heraclitus suggested that theentire cosmos was in a state of perpetualflux; its governing principle, reason, wasmanifested physically in fire.Anticipatingthe findings of modern science,Democritus (c. 460–370 BC) proposed thatall matter was made up of minuteatoms assembled in differentcombinations; thephilosophy of Epicurusfollowed from thisstrictly materialisticview. Since therecould be no gods orlife after death therecould be no highergoal than theavoidance of sufferingin the here and now – aserious argument only caricatured by laterdepictions of the Epicureans as a crowd ofdecadent pleasure-seekers.TRUE BELIEVERS?
  • 40. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S42DETERMINED STANDARDIZERS,the conquering Romans created an airof uniformity wherever they went ineverything from law to architecture, fromentertainment to roadbuilding, from fashion tocity planning. It was precisely these profoundrigidities, and the cultural confidence theygave, that enabled the expanding empire todisplay comparative tolerance towards localreligious beliefs and ritual practices. In fact, theRomans were able to make such open-mindedness an instrument of pacification innewly conquered territories, native deitiesbeing recruited to the Roman side. Rather asthe old gods had been subsumed into theofficial Roman pantheon, indigenous cultswere spliced together with Roman traditions bya process of ‘syncretism’.AN ECUMENICAL EMPIREIn parts of Gaul the Roman war god was linkedto a local god of light: Mars Loucetus, as hebecame known, was widely worshipped. At Baththe British spring goddess Sulis was associated soclosely with the Roman Minerva that theybecame to all intents and purposes differentThe Roman Empire by theSecond Century ADIn the second century BC the area underRoman rule covered only Italy and itsislands, and the small coastal area ofDalmatia to the east.Three hundredyears later the empire’s boundariesstretched as far north as the Scottishborder in the British Isles, modern-dayFrance and Spain, the coastal areas ofNorth Africa and eastwards to the BlackSea. Some gods and goddesses insubject lands succeeded in maintainingtheir independent existence, and insome cases exerted a strong influenceon the Roman people (e.g. Isis andMithras).They became known asmystery religions.EburacumDevaIscaLondinium DubrisGesoriacumRotomagusLutetiaAugustodunumBurdigalaTolosaTarracoToletumFelicitasJuliaEmeritaAugustaCordubaGadesMalacaCarthagoNovaCarthageTingisCirtaThevesteHippoRegiusSabrataLeptis MagnaSyracuseMessanaRhegiumTarentumBrundisiumPuteoliCapuaRomeOstiaArretiumAnconaRavennaMutinaPataviumAquileiaMassiliaArelateNarboLugdunumAugustaTreverorumMogontiacumAgrippinaColoniaCastra ReginaVindobonaAquincumSalonaeBereniceCyreneCnossusGortynSpartaAthenaeApolloniaThessalonicaSerdicaNaissusViminaciumNovaeApulumPotaissaTomiOdessusByzantiumNicomediaNicaeaAncyraPergamumEphesusBereniceThebaeLeucos LimenMyos HormusMemphisPelusiumAlexandria AelanaPetraGazaCaesareaBostraTyrusBerytus DamascusPalmyraApameaAntiochTarsusSideIconiumNicephoriumMeliteneSatalaTrapezusSinopeDioscuriasPanticapaeumOlbiaGades - Ostia 9 days30daysAlexandria-MassiliaCaesarea - Rome 20 daysCaesarea - Byzantium 20 daysAlexandria - Cyrene 6 daysAlexandria - Puteoli 15–20 days (fastest 9 days)Roman empire, AD 180sea routesprovincial colonial settlementsroadoriginal homeland of mystery religionThe Roman Empire by the Second Century ADOsirisIsisCybeleSabaziusMithraismReligions Under RomeAt its height in the second century AD the Roman Empire covered some five million sq km(2 million sq miles), occupying lands which now belong to over 30 different sovereign states.Around 100 million Roman subjects were drawn together into a single political entity, despite theenormous variety of their linguistic and cultural backgrounds.Yet, while their temporal authoritywas absolute, the Romans were much more relaxed about matters spiritual: under their iron rule aremarkable religious diversity was free to thrive.
  • 41. R E L I G I O N S U N D E R R O M E43facets of a single Romano-British deity. In NorthAfrica, meanwhile, characteristics of the oldPhoenician fertility god Baal-Hammon, renewerof all energies, were effectively grafted on tothose of Jupiter, to produce a recognizablyRoman deity, Jupiter-Ammon, whose particularcharacteristics were nevertheless appropriate tothe traditions of a region on whose arid soilsagricultural life had always been that much moreprecarious than they had ever been in Italy.MITHRASSome gods and goddesses in subject landssucceeded in maintaining their independentexistence: the Egyptian Isis, and her husbandOsiris, for example. The latter’s death eachyear clearly symbolized the death of the cropsin the Nile Valley; the tears of the widow whorestored him to life were the annual floods. Atfirst an underground cult, confined to slaves,the worship of Isis had won a degree of officialbacking, and by the first century AD she had aprestigious temple in the heart of imperialRome. By that time Mithras, the Persian god oflight and truth, had won a wide unofficialfollowing in the Roman army: a male-onlycult, with tough initiation rites, it naturallyappealed to battle-hardened legionaries.Wherever the legions went, Mithras went too,the soldiers’ guardian and guide: signs of hisworship have been found in the very shadow ofHadrian’s Wall.The fort at Carrawburgh, Northumberlandis one of five Mithraic shrines to have beenfound in Britain, and one of the best sources yetdiscovered of archeological insights into theworkings of this secret devotion. Some 20adherents seem to have gatheredhere at any one time, wearing masksto mark the level of initiation theyhad reached – those grades we knowof are Raven, Lion,Soldier, Bride and Father.The ordeals endured bypostulants hoping toprogress from one grade tothe next included everythingfrom the binding of thehands with chickenintestines to thebranding of the bodywith red-hotirons and evenburial alive.Roman tolerance was not, of course,unlimited: wherever native religions showedthe potential for destabilization they wereruthlessly crushed, as the Druids were, forinstance, in parts of Gaul. Denounced bylater critics as a ‘slave morality’,Christianity’s values of peace andforgiveness should have made it easyenough for the Roman Empire to absorb.Thisdoes seem to be the case: it was Jesus’smisfortune that his mission on earthhappened to coincide with a period of violentresistance in the province of Judaea. Thechronicler Josephus, the only Roman authorspecifically to deal with Christ in his work,shows much more interest in the armedindependence-struggle (and mass-crucifixion) of the Jewish Maccabees. Evenafterwards, when Christ’s followers didindeed suffer savage persecution, it was inthe first instance a matter of politicalopportunism, the Emperor Nero needing tofind a scapegoat for the disastrous fire thatdestroyed much of his capital in AD 64. Onlyvery slowly in the centuries that followedwould Christianity’s gospel of love come tobe regarded as a serious threat to the mightyRoman Empire.RENDER UNTO CAESAR...
  • 42. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S44NORTHERN EUROPEAN religion isessentially polytheistic. Northernreligion acknowledges spirit guardiansof fields and flocks, earth spirits, water and treesprites, spiritual protectors of travellers andseafarers, personifications of disease and death,and demons who bring bad luck. These are theinnate spiritual qualities of places, expressed asguardian spirits or deities.A SACRED LANDSCAPEReligion in northern Europe is inextricablybound up with landscape, climate and the cycleof the seasons. The same features of landscapeare sacred in the Celtic, Germanic, Slavic andBaltic traditions into which the main elementsof northern European religion mayconveniently be divided. They include hills andmountains, springs, rivers and lakes, specialrocks and trees. Each have their particularmarks of veneration. Mountains were rituallyascended on the holy days of the sky gods.Offerings were cast into lakesand springs at certain times ofyear in thanksgiving orpropitiation. Holy trees wereprotected by fences, and deckedwith garlands and ribbons.Sacred signs, images of godsand animals were carved onrocky outcrops; stopping-places along tracks and roadswere marked by shrines to localgods as places of devotionfor travellers.Other holy places with noparticular natural features havebeen marked by posts, imagesand temples. Cairns weregenerally erected where asacrifice was made, or where aperson had died. It was a sacredN O R T H E R N E U R O P EReligion of the LandscapeIndigenous religion in northern Europe was based upon the activities of everyday life.The climateand landscape gave it its character, hunting and farming its deities and festivals. Focused onlocal cults and shrines, it was eventually overwhelmed by the better-organized Christian church.Left: Northern European PeoplesWith the decline of the Roman Empirethe way was opened for expansion ofthe native northern Europeans.Germanic peoples spread northwardsto Sweden and Norway and westwardsinto France. Later the maraudingViking Norsemen took this influencestill further, expanding into Icelandand the British Isles and even on intothe Mediterranean.VISIGOTHIC KINGDOMAQUITANIAFRANKISH KINGDOMK.OFBURGUNDY OSTROGOTHICKINGDOMFRISIANSTHURIN-GIANSCELTSANGLESSAXONSBASQUESSAXONSPICTSVANDALSSLAVSLOMBARDSSUEVESALEMANNIJUTESANGLESNorthern European Peoples
  • 43. R E L I G I O N O F T H E L A N D S C A P E45act to place a stone upon it with a prayer. Fromaround the ninth century, labyrinths made of turfor stones were used in spring rites, weather-magicand ceremonies of the dead. Early Christianchurches were built on such sacred places whenthe old religion was destroyed. There are 134places in Brittany alone where Christian churchesare built upon places of ancient worship.Particular mountains were recognized as holy.Among the most notable are Mont Ventoux inProvence, the Celtic holy mountain of the winds;Helgafell in Iceland; Ríp in Bohemia, the place ofthe Czech ancestors; Hörselberg, Wurmberg andBrocken in Germany; and the Polish holymountains of Góra Kosciuszki, Lysa Góra,Radunia and Sobótka. Mountains dedicated to StMichael all over Europe were often formerlyplaces of solar veneration.RECORDSCertain ancient texts, most notably the IrishDindsenchas preserve landscape myths that datefrom pre-Christian times. The best record oflandscape religion comes from Iceland. During theninth and tenth centuries, the uninhabited island ofIceland was colonized by settlers from Norway andthe Western Isles of Scotland. Their religiousresponse to the landscape is recorded inLandnámabók. These settlers were acutely awareof the spiritual nature of places. Certain areas werenot settled, being reserved for the landvaettir (‘landwights’) or spirits of place. Ceremonies wereperformed in honour of the landvaettir, andofferings left for them. More generally, prayerswere directed towards Helgafell, the Icelandic holymountain. Before praying, devotees first washedtheir faces out of respect.Heathendom is ... that theyworship heathen gods, andthe sun or moon, fire or rivers,water-wells or stones, or foresttrees of any kind...The Dooms of Canute, king ofDenmark and England (1020–23).Throughout northern Europe, religious festivals are linked with the seasons. The midwinter solstice, celebrating theincreasing light after the longest night, is the major festival of the year. Celebrated with feasting and fires, disguise andgames, it was the old Norse Yule, Slavic Kracun, and the Lithuanian Kucios and Kaledos. Most midwinter rites andceremonies of the old religion were absorbed into Christmas.In eastern Europe, the day on which the first thunder of the year was heard was sacred to the god Perun. Because hens beginto lay when days become longer than the nights, eggs are symbols of springtime.The oldest extant spring egg is fromWolin,Poland. Covered with marbled patterns, it dates from the tenth century.The Christian festival of Easter is named after theGermanic goddess of springtime, Eostre.In Celtic religion, Beltane fires, sacred to the god of fire and light, Belenos, were kindled on May Day, and maypoles wereerected. Midsummer was also commemorated by erecting poles and lighting fires. Harvest-time was theAnglo-Saxon festivalof Lammas, the Celtic Lá Lúnasa celebrating the god Lugus.The ancestral dead were remembered in early November withfestivals including the Celtic La Samhna and the LithuanianVelines.SEASONAL FESTIVALS
  • 44. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S46DEFINED BY THEIR material culture,the Celts emerged as a recognizablegroup around the seventh century BC inAustria: the Hallstatt Culture. From the fifthcentury BC, the Greeks gave the name ‘Keltoi’ tothe tribes of central Europe who raided their cities.During the late fifth century BC Celtic influencesexpanded westwards into what is now France andSpain, northwards to Britain and Ireland andeastwards through the Balkans into Asia Minor.Early Celtic religion was aniconic (withoutimages) and atectonic (without architecturalsettings). Celtic oral culture has left no ancienttexts, and any information we have comes fromcontemporary Greek and Roman authors, inaddition to archeology and later writings thatput oral traditions in writing.HOLY GROVES AND TEMENOICeltic holy groves (nemetona) were held in aweand approached only by members of thepriesthood. The modern place-name elementnemet or nympton denotes the former site of aholy grove. The goddesses Nemetona andRigonemetis are named as protectors of groves.The temenos was the central place of collectiveworship for the continental Celts; it was anenclosure, defined by ditches, in whichceremonial gatherings took place and wasgenerally square or rectangular. In centralEurope the enclosures known as viereckschanze(‘four-cornered fort’) are Celtic temenoi, Thetemenoi contained aniconic or iconic images,sacred stones, ceremonial fireplaces, a tree orpole, wells and shafts for ritual offerings.Compressed earth at such places attests toceremonial perambulation or dances aroundthe central point.IMAGES OFTHE GODSFrom the late sixth century BC, the Celts beganto make anthropomorphic images from stonewhich were set up on burial mounds. Under theinfluence of Mediterranean culture, the Celts inthe areas of present-day France, Germany andSwitzerland adopted human form for theirdeities. Sacred buildings were introduced as theresult of the influence of Roman religion andsome 70 Celtic deities are named in survivinginscriptions from the Roman period.Celtic Europe By 200 BCThe extent of the Celtic inhabitationof Europe is best identified throughevidence of their material culture suchas artefacts, burial sites, hillforts andsettlements.The map shows their areaof influence by 200 BC.M E D I T E R R A N E A N S E AA T L A N T I CO C E A NN O R T HS E ABALKANSANATOLIAIBERIAITALYGERMANYFRANCEBRITISH ISLESExtent of Celtic impacton Europe by 200 BCCeltic ReligionThe Celts emerged as a powerful force in central Europe, later expanding to occupy the north-west.Acknowledging the divine in all things, their religion was influenced by Roman practices.The Druids are the best-remembered ancient priesthood of northern Europe, although theysuffered persecution first by the Romans, then by the Christian Church.
  • 45. C E L T I C R E L I G I O N47Julius Caesar stated that the Gaulsconsidered Dis Pater, the lord of the underworld,to be their divine ancestor. In Ireland, thegoddess Dana was the ancestress of certaintribes. The Celtic kings in Britain counted theirdescent from the divine couple Beli and Anna.Lugus, or Lugh, was the supreme god of thewestern Celts.In Celtic regions under Roman rule, imagesand altars to Celtic deities bore inscriptions thatreflected the interpretatio Romana. Accordingto this, Lugus is equated with Mercury, Taranis,the Celtic god of thunder, with Jupiter, andTeutates, god of the tribe, with Mars. Gods ofwar, also assimilated with the Roman Mars,include Belutacadros, Cocidius, Corotiacus,Loucetius and Rigisamus. Ogmios, god ofstrength and eloquence, was equated withHercules. Poeninus, god of mountain ranges,was also equated with Jupiter.In common with other Europeantraditions, the Celts acknowledged variousgods of trades and crafts. Seafarersworshipped the sea-god called Manannan orManawydden. Smiths had a god with a nameclose to the Irish Gobniu, Sucellos was god ofvineyards and Rosmerta goddess offruitfulness and financial gain.Brigid was a great goddesswhom the poets worshipped,for very great and noble washer perfection. Her sisterswere Brigid, woman of healing,and Brigid, woman of smith’scraft, goddesses.Cormac’s Glossary, Ireland,ninth century ADThe Celtic priesthood comprised theBards,Vates and Druids, all of whom wererestricted to Ireland, Gaul and Britain.TheBards were the genealogists, keepers ofmyth and song. Vates performed sacreddivinations, whilst the Druids performedreligious rites. The Roman author Lucan,in his Pharsalia, mentions the GaulishDruids who lived in deep groves andremote woodlands. ‘They worship the godsin the woods without using temples,’ notedhis commentator.According to classical writers, the Druids,whose name meant ‘men of the oak tree’,were keepers of astronomical knowledgeand regulators of the calendar. A first-century BC bronze calendar from Coligny inFrance, inscribed with Greek characters, isthe only surviving example. Divided into 62consecutive lunar months, it shows the mainreligious festivals of the Gallic year, withauspicious and inauspicious months.According to classical sources, the Druidstaught the doctrine of transmigration ofsouls. In this belief, human souls at deathenter into trees, rocks or animals, or newbornhumans. Outside the Druidic order, each holyplace had its own guardian, certain membersof the family who owned the land.The office ofdewar, keeper of sacred things, continued inScotland and Ireland in a Christian contextuntil the twentieth century.CELTIC PRIESTHOOD
  • 46. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N STHE POLYTHEISTIC RELIGION of theGermanic peoples was centred upon thecult of the divine ancestor. In early times,the king’s ancestor was also the tribal god, andthis principle was maintained until well intoChristian times. Seven out of eight Anglo-Saxonroyal genealogies begin with Woden, as does theSwedish royal line. Folk meetings were held onmoot hills, the burial mounds of ancestors, whosehelp was invoked in decision-making. Seeresessaccompanied early Germanic rulers; theycontacted the spirits of the ancestors by variousdivinatory techniques. From the fourth centuryAD, they used the runes – an alphabet derivedfrom the Etruscans with religious significance,used in divination and sacred inscriptions –which were believed to come from Woden.THE GERMANIC GODSGermanic religion continued in Scandinaviauntil the tenth century AD, long after it had diedout in England and Germany. The conversionof England began in AD 597, when the firstChristian missionaries arrived in Kent and inAD 716 Boniface made his first trip to Germany.It was re-imported to parts of Britain (northernScotland and eastern England) and to centralIreland by Viking and Danish settlers, althoughChristianity seemed to have survived the Vikingraids, albeit with interruptions in ChristianGermanic ReligionGermanic religion was relatively uninfluenced by Rome. Spread toEngland in the sixth century AD, it was soon replaced by Christianity.In mainland Europe, it succumbed to the crusades of Charlemagne.It survived longer in Scandinavia, from whence it was re-exported tothe British Isles by theVikings, who also took it to Iceland and Greenland.Settlements of the Germanic PeoplesThe Germanic peoples are classed asthose peoples descended from thespeakers of Proto-Germanic – theancestor of German,as well as Dutch andScandinavian. Germanic peoples shareda common culture and religion, whichspread with them as they migrated.
  • 47. G E R M A N I C R E L I G I O N49practice. In earlier times, the sky god Tîwazwas considered the chief deity. There is alsoevidence of an older, pre-agricultural pantheon,including the god Frey and the goddess Freyja,known in Scandinavia as the Vanir. In Anglo-Saxon England, Woden and Thunor were themajor gods, whilst in Saxony, theircounterparts, Wotan and Donar werevenerated. Later, in Viking times, Odin(Woden) became pre-eminent, with the titleAllfather. Thor (Thunor), god of the peasantry,was relegated to the status of son of Odin.HOLY PLACESThe Germanic religious landscapewas filled with sacred places. TheAnglo-Saxon Wih was a holy imagestanding in the open. In Scandinavianpractice, unsheltered images wereprotected by a fence of Hazelposts and ropes (the Vébond).More substantial was a shrinecovered with a pavilion, theTraef or Hørgr. InScandinavia and Scandinaviancolonies, communal worship took place in theHof, a hall-form farmhouse with a specialextension, the afhús, where sacred objects andimages were kept. Here, regular festivals wereobserved to mark the passing of the seasons.There was a shrine in Saxony with a hugepost called Irminsul, the ‘universal pillar’, whichwas destroyed by Charlemagne in AD 772. Theshrines of the god Fosite, on the holy island ofHeligoland, were destroyed in AD 785. In theViking age, important temples ofthe Nordic gods stood at Jellingein Denmark, Sigtuna and GamlaUppsala in Sweden, Mæri, Lade,Skiringssal, Trondenes and Vatnsdal inNorway, Kialarnes in Iceland and Dublinin Ireland. Many Nordic templescontained images of more thanone god, though some werededicated to a single deity.At Gamla Uppsala, theSwedish royal centre,which emerged as the most importanttemple, there were images of Thor, Odin andFrey – the three chief gods.Odin is called Allfather, for heis the father of the gods. He isalso called Father of the Slain,for all who fall in battle are hisadoptive sons. He gives themplaces inValhalla...Gylfagynning, Snorri SturlusonThe office of Godi originated in the priestof a tribe or clan who held a certain sacredplace in common. Godar were never full-time officials, but were rather hereditarylandowners who had the duty to maintainancestral holy places. In Iceland, the Godiin charge of the temple at Kialarnes, thedirect descendent of the first settler, IngulfAmarson, bore the title Alsherjargodi, orHigh Priest. In accordance with ancienttradition Iceland was divided into fourquarters, each containing threejurisdictions, further subdivided into threeGodord, each with its ruling Godi. TheIcelandic law-making assembly (Lögrétta)was originally composed largely of Godar.Norse temples were the personal propertyof the hereditary keeper of the land on whichthey stood. In Iceland, the Höfud-hof orpublic temples were sometimes owned bywomen. During the settlement period (ninthto tenth centuries AD), whole temples wereshipped to Iceland. Erbyggja Saga tells of theNorwegian Godi Thórolf Mostrarskeggtransporting his timber temple of Thor,complete with the sacred earth on which itstood. Some Norse shrines were dedicatedto particular gods, such as the temple of theBlack Thor at Dublin. Others housed manydeities.NORDIC PRIESTHOOD AND TEMPLES
  • 48. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S50THE SLAVS CAME into existence as arecognized ethnic group formed of theamalgamation of various tribes whocame to occupy their territory in the sixthcentury AD. Their polytheistic religioncontinued long after the Christian church hadtaken over western and south-eastern Europe.In early times, the head of the family or clanofficiated at religious ceremonies. From theeighth to ninth centuries onwards, a Slavicpriesthood emerged. Rites formerly performedin open-air enclosures or groves weretransferred to newly built temples. InPomerania, there were three grades of priest.Central or provincial temples were officiatedover by a high priest.THE SLAVIC GODSByzantine chronicles of the sixth century ADmention the Slavic god Svarog, a god of fire andlight, equating him with the Greek Hephaistos.His son, Dazbog, was paralleled with the sun-god Helios. Dazbog was brought into thepantheon of Kiev by Duke Vladimir in AD 980.As Svarozic (son of Svarog) the god Dazbogwas worshipped by the Elbe Slavs. In 1008Bruno von Querfurt described his cult centre atRetra. Inside a castle with nine towers was atimber temple adorned with aurochs – hornsbedecked with gold and jewels. Among others,the main image was of Svarozic, dressed inarmour, with weapons. The temple wasdestroyed in l068.THE CULT OF PERUNThe thunder god Perun (Lithuanian Perkunas)was venerated throughout the Slavic andBaltic lands, in association with the weather-and wind-gods Erisvorsh, Varpulis andDogoda. Perun is first mentioned in theseventh-century AD Life of St Demetrios ofSalonika. In AD 980, an image of Perun with asilver head and a golden beard was set up bythe side of the River Volchov at Kiev. AtPerynj, near Novgorod, an eternal fire of oakbranches was maintained in honour of Perun.Oak trees were sacred to Perun. In Poland, aholy oak was venerated at Czestochowa. Inthe tenth century, Russian devotees sacrificedchickens, made offerings of meat and bread,Slavic and Baltic PeoplesSlavic and Baltic religion followed the general pattern of the Celtic and Germanic traditions.Worship was conducted first in holy groves, and later in wooden temples served by priests andpriestesses. In Lithuania, a state religion emerged in the thirteenth century whose remnants werestill evident 300 years later.
  • 49. S L A V I C A N D B A L T I C P E O P L E S51and shot arrows in honour of the god at asacred oak on the holy island of Chortice inthe river Dnieper.LITHUANIAN STATE RELIGIONLithuanian religion was formulated bySventaragis in the sixth century AD, when thecult of Perkunas was established. All overLithuania, on tracts of land called alkos sacredto the god, eternal fires were maintained bypriestesses known as vaidilutes. Sventaragisestablished an ancestral centre in an oak groveat Vilnius, where the ancestors of the rulingdynasty were venerated.During the early thirteenth century, inresponse to external threats, a polytheistic statereligion was established by King Mindaugas. Itamalgamated local cults, emphasized theworship of national heroes, practised cremationof the dead, and taught the doctrine ofreincarnation. Until the early fifteenth century,Lithuanian royalty and noblemen were crematedin full regalia accompanied by their horses, dogsand falcons. As late as 1583, Jesuit monksvisiting Lithuania reported that Perkunas wasbeing worshipped at oak trees.In addition to the Vilnius shrine, there wasanother important centre at Romuva (nowin the Kaliningrad enclave of Russia),where, Peter von Duisburg records in 1326,a high priest, Kriviu Krivaitis, officiated.Whilst Perkunas was the major god, theLithuanian pantheon contained many otherdeities, including the goddesses Zemyna(earth), Saule (sun), Gabija (fire), and Laima,goddess of individual destinies.InVilnius ... Skirtnantas, theLithuanian ruler, ordered vestalsand priests to make offerings inhonour of the gods and to theGreat God Perkunas, who rulesfire, thunder and lightning. Dayand night, they were to feed theeternal flame with oak wood.If the fire ever went out, it wasre-lit from sparks made with agreat boulder.The Lithuanian andSamogytian ChronicleUntil 1123, when it was destroyed by BishopOtto of Bamberg, a temple of Gerovit stoodat Wolgast, a fortified holy island at thejunction of three rivers in Pomerania. Untilthe same time, temples ofTriglav existed atWolin, Sezezin and the place that retains hisname today, Trzyglów. The holy island ofRügen in the Baltic, settled by theWends inthe seventh century AD, contained two maintemple enclosures, at Garz and Arkona.At Garz, an oaken image of the god Rugievithad seven heads and seven swords.A hereditary high priest who was the head ofthe ruling family officiated at the temple ofSvantevit (Svarog) atArkona. Svantevit wasdepicted in a multiple-headed image holdinga horn. Comparable tenth-century imageshave been found in Poland in the Riavinskiforest and the River Zbruc. The Rügentemples were destroyed in 1169 by Danishcrusaders after fierce resistance from themen-at-arms dedicated to defend them.TEMPLES IN POMERANIA
  • 50. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N SThe effects on the Mayan people of theirhuge pantheon of supernatural forces –deities, spiritual beings and essences,could in part be discerned or predicted by the useof their Calendars. The Tzolkin or divinatorycalendar, consisted of a 260-day sacred round.Found exclusively in Mesoamerica, the calendarconsisted of 13 numbers linked to 20 day names,each of which was a divine force: the first, Imixwas linked to the earth monster.All gods were endowed with acalendrical presence, some more directlythan others: the Pahuatuns or winddeities (Ik in the calendar); the Chicchans,a giant snake (Chicchan); and the fourBalams, jaguars who protected thecultivated fields (Ix). Also important wereExchel, the moon and the four Chacs orrain gods. (See also pages 84–85 onThe Highland Maya Today.)C E N T R A L A N D S O U T H A M E R I C AThe MayaIn what is now Mexico, the Maya dominated the lowland peninsula oftheYucatan highlands, Chiapas and most of Guatemala.There wasnever one unified theocracy but a number of aggressive city-states.TheMaya favoured the arts and learning and pushed knowledge of astronomy andmathematics much further than any previous civilization in theAmericas.Theyrecorded much of their knowledge and beliefs by means of glyphs which, sincetheir decipherment, have enabled us to know much more about their religion.Loltun CaveLabnáEl MecoSan GervasioChacmoolIchpaatunSanta RitaRío BecRío AzulSan JoseHolmulBarton RamiePomonaUcanalIxkunSeibalLubaantunPusilhaNacoTiquisateChocoláMonteAltoSanta RitaSan FelipeMachaquiláCancuénAquatecaAltar de SacrificiosKunaBonampakLa MarEl CayoEl YaxchilánTzimin KaxMountain CowCaracolNaranjoXpuhilEl PalmarUxulCerrosSanta Rosa XtampakYaxunáChichén ItzáHalakalXelháMayapánManíAké TancáhTulumCobáIzamalDzibilchaltúnAcancéhTihooOxkintokHuaymilJainaXcochaEtznáChampotónCilvitukHochobPechalBecanOxpemulCalakmulUxmalKabáhSayilDzibilnocacCuelloMorallesXicalangoJonutaBelloteComalcalcoSan MiguelPiedrasNegrasNohmulEl MiradorPalenqueTonináNaachtúnUaxactúnTikalUolantúnTopoxteTayasalEl PajaralLa HonradezAbajTakalikCopánAcasaguastlánAmatitlánFinca ArizonaEl BaúlSololáZaculeuIzapaTajumulcoSalinasla BlancaEl JoboObreroPantaleónKaminaljuyúCahyupMixco ViejoYarumelaUsulutánLos HigosQuiriguáChamáZacualpaPantzacChiapa del CorzoSan AugustínSanta CruzSanta RosaTonalá ChutixtioxUtatlánQuen SantoChaculáNebajChinkulticChalchuapaY u c a t á nM O P Á NI T Z ÁC H O N T A LC H O LT Z O T Z I LT Z E L TA LT Z E L TA LQUICHÉPOKOMCHÍPOKOMAMJICAQUECAKCHIQUELTZUTUHILMAMTOJOLABALK E K C H IK E K C H IL A C A N D Ó Nmetalwork importedfrom Mexicanhighlandsmetalworkimported fromCentral Americasettlementstrade and traded itemstraderoutescacaoobsidianjadelanguage groupfeathersslavesmarine productsand shellssaltI T Z ÁThe Realm of the Maya52Right:A jade serpent recoveredfrom a sacred well (or cenote) atChichen Itza.Left:The Realm of the MayaLike their neighbours, the Aztec, theMaya thrived on trade.This map showsthe realm of the Maya, theirsettlements, their language groupsand the items that they traded.TIME LINEOlmecs 150–750 BCZapotecs AD 300–600Classic Maya AD 300–900
  • 51. T H E M A Y A53MAYA COSMOLOGYIn Maya cosmology, seven layers extendedabove the earth ruled by the 13 deities of theHeavens: six marked the sun’s ascent, six itsdescent and one its position at midday. Belowthe earth was Xibalba, the realm of the dead,consisting of four layers and ruled by the ninedeities of the underworld, an unpleasant placeof putrefaction and strong smells from whichillnesses came. Each night, the sun passedthrough the underworld in the guise of a jaguar,descending through four layers beforemidnight, to ascend again (through four) to risein the east. The underworld was linked to theheavens by a huge tree, the ceiba, which is stillconsidered to be sacred in Mayan communitiestoday. The tree marked the centre of the earth,distinguishing where the sun rose (our east andlinked to the colour red) from where the sun set(west and linked to black). The north and south(or up and down) were simply known assides of heaven and associated with white andyellow respectively.The other, 365-day calendar was important fordetermining the dates of ritual. It consisted of 18named months linked to 20 numbers (360) and amonth of five days known as the Uayeb, whosedays were considered particularly unpropitious.The 365-day calendar was based on astronomicalcalculations and intermeshed with the 260-daydivinatory calendar. With the two calendarscombined, an identically named day only occurredevery 52 years, after which a new cycle began.It is the Chilam Balam and the Popul Vue, documentswritten after the Spanish Conquest, which began in 1517,plus the numerous depictions on pottery and sculpture,which tell us much of what we know about the Maya’sbeliefs, mythology and practices: such as those of themythical hero-twins, Xbalanque and Hunapahu, sons ofHun Hunapahu (god of corn), who were monster slayersand ballplayers. More recently the decipherment of theMayan hieroglyphic script has added detail whichpreviously could only be guessed at.Rituals were huge affairs, preceded by fasting,abstinence and ceremonial steam baths,accompanied by music, dancing and incense andattended by many. Autosacrifice was an importantmeans of contacting the deities. By drawing a cordor piece of grass through the penis or the nose, andletting blood, visions could be induced, personified bytheVision Serpent.This was performed particularly bythe king and his wife. Human sacrifice did occur,especially of war captives and occasionally of children, butnot on a scale comparable to theAztecs.Animals and birdswere also offered, such as armadillos and parrots, andplants or plant products: copal, flowers, cacao, honey andthe rubbery like chichle, from which chewing gum is made.Deities varied from community to community as did thedetails of the calendars themselves. Both calendars are stillto be found in use today, however, in many Mayancommunities in the highlands of Guatemala, for divinatorypurposes and to give shape to the ritual year.RECOVERING MAYA BELIEFSThe 20 day names of the260-day sacred roundThe 365-day solar calendarconsisting of 18 months of 20 days(here shown running together)The Mayans, like other Mesoamericanpeoples such as the later Aztecs, had asophisticated calendar.The divinatory,260-day calendar intermeshed with the365-day calendar (rather like interlockingcog wheels) to give each day its distinctcharacter.With both calendars, anidentically named day only re-occurredevery 18,980 days (i.e. 52 years).The 13 day numbers of the260-day sacred round
  • 52. TamuínTulaTeayoYagulTzintzuntzánTenochtitlánTlacopánMalinalcoTlaxcalaTeotitlánGuiengolaZaculeuXoconochoXicalangoIximchéTayasalTipuChampotónSanta RitaLamanaiTulumMayapánChichén ItzáTexcocoAzcapotzalcoEl TajínCacaxtlaCempoalaCholulaMitlaMonte AlbánXochicalcoIchpaatunTlatelolcoBalsasPánucoG u l f o fH o n d u r a sB a y o f C a m p e c h eL.TexcocoY u c a t á nP e n i n s u l aWild Cane CayOaxacaValleyTehuacánValleyAztec capitalfounded AD1325major centre ofAztec alliesAztec period templecarved in rockMaya centres occupiedcontinuously untilmid-17th centuryrich province supplyingcacao to the Aztec capitalisland trading centretrading exchanges betweenAztec and Mayalong-distance contacts from 9th century ADXOCONUSCOACALANMaya areaarea of Aztec domination, 1519trading routesThe Aztec Empire to 1519A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S54WHAT WE KNOW of Aztec religionis primarily due to the accounts ofthose Spanish friars who, after theAztec defeat, became interested in the beliefsand practices they were attempting to stampout. The Aztec codices, folding screens booksmade from deer skin, give us details in apictorial language while the sculptural formscan tell us what their deities looked like.THE RISE OFTHE LAST SUNThe Aztecs were the last of a number ofdifferent cultures that occupied the CentralMexican plateau and the most belligerent,although their expansionist empire lasted onlya century. Huitzilopochtli owed his pre-eminence to the Chichimeca-Mexica tribalpeoples whose deity he was. They had madeTenochtitlan (today Mexico City) their home inaround AD 1325, after a long journey southfrom Aztlan during the fifth and final Sun,which was to bring earthquakes and famine.THE COSMOSAccording to myth, there had already been fourprevious Suns, each of which had beendestroyed. But the last was a Sun of movement,such that some of the gods had even sacrificedthemselves in order to keep it in motion. Theworld was believed to consist of a discsurrounded by water with 13 layers above andnine layers below. In the highest livedOmeteotl, the omnipotent supreme being, deityof duality both masculine and feminine, butwho also lived in Mictlan, the underworld andpeopled all the other layers. Ometeotl had foursons, the four Tezcatlipocas, (a name usuallytranslated as ‘Smoking Mirror’) two of whomThe AztecsTheAztecs were an itinerant people who settled in theValley of Mexicobetween AD 1200 and 1300. From humble beginnings they rose to become thedominant political force in CentralAmerica by the time of the Spanish arrivalin 1519. Daily life was dominated by the sun,Tonatiuh, who by the time of theAztecs (1350–1525) was often equated with Huitzilopochtli, their principaldeity and also a god of war. He demanded to be fed by blood in order to keeprising, necessitating human sacrifice.The Aztec Empire to 1519The Aztec relied heavily on trade andtributes for their livelihood.The mapshows the major sites, settlements andtrading routes of the Aztec Empireto 1519.The expansion of the Empirewas also driven by the need to acquirecaptives for use as human sacrifices.
  • 53. T H E A Z T E C S55are sometimes known as Quetzalcoatl (‘PlumedSerpent’) and Huitzilopochtli (‘Hummingbirdon the Left’).Associated with the four early Suns, theywere responsible for creating fire, a half sun andmoon, water, other divine beings and thecalendar. But it was the fifth Sun that completedthe cosmos.THE FESTIVALSThe Aztecs had two calendars, the Haab and theTonalpohualli, but most of the large monthlyreligious festivals were related to the former, the365-day cycle. Many were for agriculturalmatters and dedicated to Tlaloc and theTlaloque (the deities of water and fertility),while others propitiated Huitzilopochtli,Tezcatlipoca or Xiuhtecuhtli (deity of fire), orfemale deities, such as the goddess of love,Xochiquetzal (‘Precious Flower’) or Coatlicue(‘She of the Serpent Skirt’).These were lavish and costly affairs, at leastin Tenochtitlan which was a large andsophisticated city, with 30 distinct classes ofpriests and priestesses, education for women,and slaves. The ceremonies were held in theopen air and were attended by thousands,including the common people.During the preparatory days,the priests fasted (one mealper day) and observedprohibitions (on bathingand sex). An all-night vigilpreceded the festival itself,which was usually ofseveral days duration.Shrines were emboweredand decorated withflowers, and offeringsof food, clothingand rubber-spatteredpapers were made,accompanied byburning incense andlibations. Through-out the festivitiessacred songs weresung, music played andthere was dancing.Festivities in the countryside were simpler,more benign and often dedicated to local andfeminine deities (such as Tonantzin, whorepresented the power of the earth). Foralthough the Aztecs conquered a huge area andbrought all the foreign deities into theirpantheon in Tenochtitlan, they were unable toobliterate local customs.Most pre-Christian practices wereeradicated, with time, by the Spaniards butthere are today groups in Mexico City whoare disaffected with their lives andwith globalization. Calling themselves theMexica, they are attempting to reinventAztec religiosity.Each festival had one or more processionswhich included those to be sacrificed,sometimes dressed up as deities (ixiptla),whom they impersonated for a day or two,living in luxury, before their hearts were cutout with an obsidian knife and offered up inceremonial vessels and their flayed skinsworn by male dancers. These weretheatrical occasions with dramatic appealand a compelling political message: thatthe Aztecs were the servants of theirdeities. Often thousands of men andwomen were sacrificed, captives fromneighbouring groups, their bodies allowedto fall down the steps from the top of theceremonial pyramids, after which theirheads were placed on the skull rack andtheir flesh cooked.THE SACRIFICESQUETZALCOATLAlthough still part ofthe Aztec pantheon,Quetzalcoatl (as theplumed serpent) was ofless significance than atthe time of the earlier city-state of Teotihuacan(150 BC–AD 750 – seeTimeLine below), where he wasrevered as a featheredcelestial dragon. For thelaterToltecs (AD 900–1200),he became the patron ofwarriors and associatedwith the morning star.TIME LINETeotihuacan 150 BC–AD 750Toltecs AD 900–1200Aztecs AD 1350–1525
  • 54. A N C I E N T R E L I G I O N S56THE CONSOLIDATION of the Incaempire had occurred (c. 1400) only alittle over a century before its conquestby the Spanish in 1532, and covered parts ofpresent-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile.Although Viracocha was considered to beomnipresent, this name was just one of the manyattributions given to the deity before the arrivalof the Spaniards.THE INCA COSMOSAt the beginning of the cosmic cycle,Viracocha was associated with Lake Titicaca,out of which the sun, moon and stars emergedand ascended as gods. The numerous lesserdeities were believed to have emanated fromthe caves, hills, springs and mountains, manytaking animal (zoomorphic) or bird (avian)forms. The Quechua-speaking indigenouspeople today still associate their deities withthese sacred locations known as huacas.Considered to be animate, they are imbuedwith supernatural power and mythicsignificance, and are usually marked by stones.Some are the tombs of ancestors, whichcontained their mummies during the time ofthe Inca empire. It was to the huacas thatsacrifices of alpacas and llamas and sometimeschildren were made, linked to divination byritual specialists. Mostly of regionalsignificance, nonetheless travellers made andstill make offerings of coca, chicha (beer),pieces of clothing or an additional stone,particularly during pilgrimages. The earthitself, known as Pachamama (the earth mother)has not only to be consulted, but also assuaged.SACRED GEOGRAPHYConceptually, the Inca cosmos was divided intospheres linked together by Viracocha (as thecosmic river). This earth (kaypacha) was seen asan almost vertical domain, probably because ofthe immense physical diversity that characterizesthe region – rising from sea level to highmountains in a very short distance.Only east and west were named, where thesun rose and set while the country was seen toconsist of four unequal ritual quarters, as wasCuzco itself. Radiating out from the Coricancha(the temple of the Sun in Cuzco) were ceques –The IncasThe Incas were originally a mountain culture, brought to the CuzcoValley bylegendary leader Manco Capac in 1200.They gradually established theirdominance over other valley cultures, until at their height they incorporatedmuch of Peru and Bolivia, and sections of Chile,Argentina and Ecuador.Atthe head of the empire was a divine monarch, who demanded a loyalty akin toslavery, but provided for all the needs of the people in return. Religion wasorganized in a similar fashion, withViracocha, the supreme immanent deity,responsible for all the others.The most important religious ceremonies tookplace in Cuzco, the centre of the empire, for the Sun (Inti), his consort theMoon (Mama Qiya) and Ilyap’a (the thunder and weather deity).
  • 55. T H E I N C A Sa series of some 41 conceptual lines along whichstill lie some 328 huacas.The various parts of the empire were linkedtogether by a network of roads along whichmessengers ran carrying quipu, bundled cords,from which hung dyed knotted strings. Thesewere coding devices that could communicateinformation at a distance: the Incas lackeda written language which means that all ofour information on their religious practices ispost-conquest.INCA HISTORY AND RITUALThe first Inca (king) was Manco Capac, whowas also seen as an androgynous founderancestor. All subsequent Incas and their wives,(the Coyas) were also considered to be of divinedescent: the Inca, the son of the sun; the Coya,the daughter of the moon. Their festivals wereordered according to a calendar based on themoon and stars and consisting of 12 months.They gave particular importance to the MilkyWay, two of whose constellations were namedas a baby and an adult llama. The Pleiades,known as Qolqa (‘the granary’), wereparticularly important for prognostication ofagricultural fertility and many of the biggerceremonies centred around the growth cycle.Important rituals were held also at solstices.During the festival of Qapaq Raymi in December,as held in Cuzco, boys of royal descent wereinitiated and llamas sacrificed to the sun. Thellama was sacred to the royal lineage. So, for theAyriwa celebrations, in April, a perfect whitellama was dressed in red with gold ear ornamentsand taught to ingest coca and chicha and allowedto live. For other festivals, the llamas were lesslucky and were usually sacrificed, sometimes inlarge numbers and usually accompanied byprayer, music, dancing and drinking.By the time of Pachacutec, anthropomorphicstatues had been made, such as that of Viracochafashioned from gold and representing a youngboy. Viracocha was also believed to be a culturehero and to travel throughout his dominions andaccording to myth disappeared across the oceanto the north-west.As all illness was believed to be due tosupernatural causes, divination wasimportant for curing when amulets, plants,guinea-pig fat and parts of other animalswere administered. For really seriousillnessesorfortakingimportantdecisions,anoracle would be consulted such as at theApurima huaca, where a tree trunk, had a‘gold band the thickness of one hand...wrapped around it; this band had a pair ofsolid gold breasts on it’ and was dressed inwomen’s clothing ‘of very fine gold and many...largepins’.‘...thispostwascoveredinbloodfrom the sacrifices that were made there.’DIVINATIONInca EmpireThe Inca empire expanded rapidly inthe fifteenth century. From Cuzco, theInca emperor exerted rigid control overthis extensive territory by means of ahighly trained bureaucracy, a statereligion, a powerful army and anadvanced communications network.The final expansion under HuaynaCapac put the Inca world under greatstrain, however, and by the arrival ofthe Spanish conqueror Pizarro, in 1533,civil war had split the empire in two.CHINCHAYSUYUANTISUYUCUNTISUYUCOLLASUYUCHIMÚQuitoCuencaChanChanPachacamacInkahwasiLimatamboCajamarcaHuánucoBombónVilcashuamánMachuPicchuOllantaytamboCuscoTiahuanacoCochabambaP a c i f i cO c e a nJapuráAmazonMamorePurusMarañónUcayaliLakeTiticacaAndesMountainsThe Inca EmpireThe growth of the Inca Empire:under Pachacuti,1438–63added under Pachacutiand Topa Inca, 1463–71added under Topa Inca,1471–93territory under HuaynaCapac, 1493–1525Four Quarters of theInca Empireimperial roadsANTISUYU
  • 56. 58THE WORD SAMAN is derived from theTungus people of Siberia, becomingshaman in Russian, and has beeninterpreted to mean ‘he who knows’ or ‘one whois excited, moved, raised.’ References to thesefigures include medicine men, sorcerers,magicians, necromancers, ascetics, healers,ecstatics, acrobats and Brahmans, but essentiallythe shaman is an indigenous practitioner whoseexpertise lies in entering a trance which enableshis or her soul to travel to the upper and lowerworlds of the spirits and demons. Alternatively,in mastering the spirits, the shaman will invite thespirits into him or herself. The shaman’s journeythrough this altered state of consciousness isconducted in order to pass into the world of thespirits as a mediator for his tribe or people.Shamanism is believed to have been presentin most parts of the world, but it is known tohave originated in Siberia. There is contentionover whether seeds of shamanism arosenaturally or were disseminated by means oftrade routes, migration or oral traditions. It isplausible that most religions and cultures haveacquired it or incorporated it through an innatehuman desire or inherent social need tocommunicate with the otherworld.Shamans come into their roles for avariety of reasons. Often it is a question ofinheritance, or they are something of asocial misfit, or else they undergo analteration in character. They may appearpossessed and experience remarkablebehavioural changes and neurosis. This is referredto as the Initiation Crisis. Generally, onceinitiated, these symptoms disappear and theshaman abandons his or her former life insubmission to a new path. Women are as likely asmen to be shamans. Essentially the shamans are inpossession of a supernatural gift that is receivedfrom the spirit realm and the donor becomes thespiritual guide or spiritual ‘spouse’. Shamansknow initiation when they have an apparition oftheir guide, who will seemingly steal the soul andtravel to another realm of the cosmos where thesoul will perish, only to be reproduced and, in asense, reborn into a new vocation.THE ROOTS OF SHAMANISMSiberia is the homeland of the shaman, wherethey have been an integral part of the cultureof such peoples as the Tungus, the Mongols,the Samoyedes, the Inuits and the Altaians –from whom the term and definition ‘shaman’Indigenous ReligionsS H A M A N I S MShamanismShamanism is recognized as the world’s oldest religious tradition, evolvingbefore the Neolithic period (c. 8000–3000 BC) and the BronzeAge (2000–500BC). It was originally practised among hunting and gathering societies ofSiberia and CentralAsia.
  • 57. S H A M A N I S Mhas originated. Siberian shamans have clearlydistinguished between the realms of thecosmos, according it upper, middle and lowerrealms. Shamans can rescue souls from thelower realm of the cosmos, whilst attainingcouncil from those in the heavens. Siberiansalso distinguish shamans as being ‘blackshamans’ or ‘white shamans’. The blackshaman calls upon a wicked deity and thewicked spirit whilst shamanizing, whereas thewhite shaman applies to a benevolent deityand to good spirits.SOUTH AMERICASouth American shamans are distinguishableby attaining mastery over the auxiliaryspirits, through whom the shaman acquirespoems, music, songs and chants. This musicand verse is of prime importance to theirpower and their ability to shamanize. SomeSouth American shamans are also known to usehallucinogens, psychotropic plants and tobaccowhilst shamanizing.In Peru and Native Amazonia, shamansacquired their powers from nature spirits ofplants and animals, or from deceased shamansor mestizo, aided by periods of isolation andstarvation. During the initiation period,psychotropic plants are ingested at specifictimes, whilst a strict diet and celibacy areobserved. The plants are alleged to teach theshamans how to overcome the evil spirits of theearth, waters and air, and how to journey withinthe cosmos.No one enters uninitiated intothe sea of mysteries. It isnecessary that his spiritualsenses be attuned, that theymay grasp the spiritual tonesand spiritual forms and colours.Ph. KontuglouShamanic rituals differ in all traditions,yet all share certain characteristics.These are associated with the trance-likestate attained by the shaman in order tojourney to the outer realms or to submit topossession by the otherworldly spirits.Tocoax the shaman into trance certain propsare used.The most common of these is theshaman’s costume which, whenexamined, reveals the core beliefs ofshamanism, as any doctrine or mythmight.The Siberian costume consisted ofa caftan adorned with mythical animalsand iron discs, used for protection whilstin combat with the spirits. A mask is avery common feature sported by theshaman. Often grotesque andextraordinary, with extravagant colour andawesome designs, it allows the shamansto be transported, disguising them fromtheir peers. Often the shamanis blindfolded and so journeys by an innerlight, isolated from the outer reality.Animal skin, fur, feathers, bones, bells, astaff, a crown or cap and staves makeup the shaman’s regalia. During the ritual,the shaman will induce violent breathing,may shake or sweat furiously, and maydance in a wild, frenetic manner, aidedalways by the constant and climacticbeating of the drum.SHAMANIC RITUALAND PROPS
  • 58. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N STHE SPIRITUAL RESIDUE of a personafter life has departed the body takes theform of a ghost – a masalai in the NewGuinea Tokpisin language. These ghosts share thesame life space with the community of livingpersons and constantly intrude, usuallyundesirably, in the affairs of the living. Men (it isonly men who deal with ghosts in most ofMelanesia) attempt both to placate the ghosts andto appropriate their special powers – to find lostobjects; to foretell the future, to interpret dreams– for their own purposes.THE FOIThe Foi inhabit the Mubi River Valley in theSouthern Highlands Province, a long andsomewhat narrow valley which runs fromnorthwest to southeast. The Mubi River and allits smaller tributaries flow in this direction. TheFoi do not speak of ‘west’ or ‘east’, but rather‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ as their maincardinal axis. The other dimensions they referto are ‘above’, for places higher in altitude, and‘below’, for places lower in altitude.The afterworld in Foi is a place calledhaisureri, sometimes translated by the Foi as‘white sand’. It is conceived as a beautiful regionwith fine sandy banks that lies far downstream,beyond the valley and beyond the places that theFoi traditionally knew of in pre-colonial times.They believe that when people die their soulstravel downstream until they reach this place,and in haisureri they continue to live, eat thespecial ghosts’ food that grows only there, andcarry on in a caricature of living society.Upstream, by contrast, is the source of allwater and the source of all life – they sometimesrefer to the distant west as me ga kore, (the ‘place-O C E A N I ADeath, Ghosts and the SoulThe collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean and East Indies known as Oceania was colonizedby hunters from SoutheastAsia around 30,000 years ago. From this time a belief systemdeveloped that is still practised today.The belief in ghosts, as a projection of the life-force of aperson, is central to spiritual thought throughout Oceania and has in fact become fused withChristianity rather than pushed away by it.The acceptance of Christian religion has not causedthe demise of two of the important aspects of Oceanic traditional religion: ghosts and sorcery.The Foi and the DaribiThe Foi inhabit the Mubi River Valley inthe Southern Highlands Province ofPapua New Guinea, and the Daribiinhabit the southern part of the SimbuProvince around Mount Karimui.T u a mo t uAr c h i p e l a g oTahitiN e wG u i n e aS o u t h P a c i f i c O c e a nN o r t h P a c i f i cO c e a nC o r a lS e aP h i l i p p i n eI s l a n d sB o r n e oJ a v aCelebesS o u t hC h i n aS e aI n d i a nO c e a nSamoaFijiTongaNEWZEALANDAUST R A L I AP O L Y N E S I AMELANESIAN e wG u i n e aFoiDaribiThe Foi and the Daribi
  • 59. D E A T H , G H O S T S A N D T H E S O U L61source-upstream’), and it is the direction fromwhich pearl shells are thought to have originated,as well as certain brightly coloured shrubs andflowers associated with pearl-shell magic.THE DARIBIThe Daribi inhabit the southern part of SimbuProvince around Mount Karimui. Theirmacrocosm is similarly oriented by the flow ofthe Tua River, only in this case it flows from eastto west, thus paralleling the movement of thesun. It is interesting to note that in the cases of theFoi and Daribi it is the movement of water that isthe primary orienting movement, and movementof the sun, by contrast, is interpreted accordingly.Thus, for the Foi, the sunset is associated with theorigin and source of water and has connotationsof vitality and life. The red of a flamboyantsunset reminds them of the red paint that youngmen and women wear at dances, a time whenflirtation, sexual play and marriage proposals areapproved of. It also, of course, reminds them ofthe red colour of pearl shells.It is not just the flow of water and digestionthat are modelled by these macrocosmicorientations, but also the moral direction of theflow of social energy. By stipulating that menand women should inhabit distinct spatial zones,a visible flow – of food, sexual fluids, children –is set up between them. Pearl shells, which aregiven by men to other men in exchange forwomen as brides, govern the marital destinies ofwomen and men, and thus also flow in similarmythical directions.The Daribi longhouse is oriented with thefront of it facing east so that the rising sunmay shine through the front door. This isconsidered the ‘face’ of the house, and isthe only end provided with a ladder forentrance – all coming and going is throughthe front door.The back door, by contrast,is used to throw rubbish and food remainsout, and is also used as a latrine by themen and women.Thus, the Daribi longhouse is a miniatureor microcosmic version of the moreencompassing world space or macrocosm.The analogy of the longhouse is that of thehuman digestive tract, in which food andother materials enter from one end andexcretion takes place out the other. Men livein the direction of the sunrise while womenlive in the direction of the sunset, the placewhere water and ghosts go. For the Daribithe sunset means just the opposite to thatof the Foi: it is associated with death andthe place the ghosts go, for ghosts followthe direction of water in both the Foi andDaribi traditions.Unlike the Foi, both Daribi men and womenlive in the longhouse, which is divided intomale and female areas: men live in the ‘east’or ‘front’ section, while women live in the‘rear’ or ‘west’ section. East also means‘higher’ in Daribi, as ‘west’ means ‘lower’ orbelow; some Daribi longhouses areconstructed of two stories, in which case themen sleep in the upper half.THE DARIBI LONGHOUSE
  • 60. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S62POLYNESIAN SOCIETIES IN generalare hierarchical, usually with a chieflyruling class, commoners, and a lower orslave class. As well as the king being of divineorigin, the head of a family also mediated thedivine realm. This function was increasinglytaken over by a class of priests. There is muchvariation in the region as to how separate werethe roles of chief and priest and the kinds ofsecular power they exerted.CHIEFLY POWERThe primary concern of religion wasprotection of the people – individual andgroup – from divine malevolence. Strictadherence to laws and procedures wasnecessary to keep the divine and physicalworlds in harmony. The main functions ofpriests were the foretelling of events throughdivine intercession, and leading ceremonies toensure the conventional stability of society.The Mythic ChieftainshipUnlike most interior New Guinea societies, in island Melanesia,as in Polynesia, the institution of chieftainship is a central socialand cultural institution.The chief has certain religious and ritualresponsibilities and partakes of a certain divinity himself. He isthe incarnation of certain deities, as in Hawai’i, or of the totem, asin New Caledonia.
  • 61. T H E M Y T H I C C H I E F T A I N S H I P63All chiefly power in Polynesia ismade possible by divine power. In theMarquesas, the birth of a firstborn is referredto as the epiphany of a god, according tothe anthropologist Douglas Oliver. It hasalso been reported that Marquesans believedthat the firstborn was sired by anancestral divinity.THE SACRED KINGIn Tonga, the sacred king is known as the Tu’iTonga. He was the main mediator between therealm of the human and that of the divine, andis said to have descended from the sky. In themyth, the first Tu’i Tonga was Aho’eitu. Hewas the son of the earth-mother Ilaheva, whowas made pregnant by Eitumatupu’a, the skygod, who then went back to his heavenly realm.As a small boy the son goes to heaven to findhis father. When the god sees his son, he falls tothe ground, so overwhelmed is he by his son’sbeauty. Later, Aho’eitu defeats his olderbrothers, who in revenge, kill him and eat hisbody. The god father, however, forces them toregurgitate the body, which he god then bringsback to life and sends to earth to be the firstTu’i Tonga.Stone petrolgyphs in Hawai’i wereimportant ritual anchors between the surfaceworld and the divine sky realm. Hawai’ianshrines, called heiau, were often built upon asacred foundation of stones. One such place isKukaniloko. When Kukaniloko was used as anancient birthing place, there was a large stonethat presumably held the mother up in a sittingposition. A chief was requiredto stand before eachwoman. The child bornwould be called ‘achief divine; aburning fire’. Thename Kukanilokoitself means ‘aninland area fromwhich great eventsare heralded’.Humans and gods would compete over the power toreproduce themselves. La’ila’i is the older sister ofboth god and human and is also the firstborn. Herbrothers, sometimes described as twins, are Ki’i (aman) and Kane (a god). She weds both of them,giving birth to both the line of humans and of gods,though the children of Kane are senior to those ofKi’i.As the generations succeed each other, the lineof men repeatedly marry back into the line of gods,according to the Kumulipo chant.In Hawai’i, the time of the god Lono begins withthe winter rainy season, the period when all thingsplanted bear fruit. Lono is the god of regenerationand fertility, while Ku is the god of war and sacrifice.This generative power is maintained at the expenseof its opposite, the power of war, which is theprovince of the god Ku, whose temple rituals aresuspended during this period. After Lono departs,the king had to re-sanctify the temples of Ku bymeans of human sacrifices.It is said that Lono, as part of the general fertilityhe brings, descends from heaven to mate with abeautiful woman.Thus, when Captain Cook arrived,from the proper direction, at Hawai’i at the time ofLono, it was thought he was the god.The Hawai’ianwomen paddled out to meet him and his crew, eagerto mate with the gods in the hope of bearing a sacredchild who would be chief.HAWAI’IAN GODS
  • 62. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N STHE CARGO CULT in Melanesia wasin many respects an ‘invertedanthropology’ – it was the attempt byMelanesian people to analyze the source andsubstance of the western material world interms of their own magical and spiritualcosmos, and efforts were expended to obtainaccess to this world by means of their own‘magical technology’. They saw acceptanceof Christianity as the Europeans’ ritual meansof obtaining the cargo. This approachstill remains fundamental to manyMelanesians’ responses to governance andeconomic issues of today, although the cargocults as such have become institutionalized and‘routinized’ to a large extent.THEVAILALA MADNESSIn 1919, on the south coast of Papua NewGuinea, one of the most dramatic of theMelanesian cargo cults started. The ancestralspirits communicated to certain men thatwestern ‘cargo’ or material goods wouldbe arriving by aeroplane. People abandonedtheir gardens and engaged in frenzied actsof spirit possession. This was called ‘TheVailala Madness’ by the anthropologist F. E.Williams. For the next 10 years the Britishcolonial administration imprisoned all menwho took leadership roles in incitinghallucinatory activity and by 1931, the cult haddied out.Millenarian MovementsCargo cult is the label given to a series of millenarian and apocalyptic movements that arose inmany South Pacific islands following European colonization.What these cults have in common isa perception of the magical source of western material wealth and the Pacific islanders’ attemptto recreate that magical procedure so as to attain the wealth themselves.New Oceanic CultsThe twentieth century witnessed therise of many new religious cults inareas of Oceania.The extreme andsometimes bizarre nature of some ofthese movements had led to them beinggiven the label ‘cargo cults’, althoughthis is now seen as a derogatory term.Most proved to be short-lived.The mapshows the areas in which these newcults arose, alongside the traditionaltribal settlements of the area.MoluccasNorfolk I.Kiribati(GilbertIslands)New IrelandNewBritainKukSwampPhoenix IslandsTokelauIslandsNew CaledoniaKermadec Is.N e wG u i n e aTimorTimorSeaArafuraSeaCoralSeaP h i l i p p i n eI s l a n d sB o r n e oJ a v aCelebesBandaSeaSouthChinaSeaCaroline IslandsMarshallIslandsSolomonIslandsTuvalu(Ellice Islands)SamoaVanuatu(New Hebrides)FijiTongaAUST R A L I AMELANESIAM I C R O N E S I APurariDeltaNew Oceanic CultsThe Vailala MadnessThe Johnson CultThe Luveniwai MovementThe Nagriamel Gospel
  • 63. M I L L E N A R I A N M O V E M E N T S65THE NAGRIAMEL GOSPELIn the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in 1966,Jimmy Stephens became a prophet and calledhis reform movement Nagriamel – which wasa symbol for the restoration of traditionalcustom. On the island of Espiritu Santo,Stephens and his followers spread theNagriamel gospel, which aimed to recoverland that had been appropriated by theEuropeans. He continued to be an importantpolitical presence well after the independenceof Vanuatu, but was eventually imprisoned.THE LUVENIWAI MOVEMENTIn Fiji, a secret society arose towards the end ofthe nineteenth century. The movement focusedon the class of indigenous spirit beings calledluveniwai (‘children of the water’). These weresmall elves or dwarfs that lived in areas ofwaterfalls and dense jungle. Many peoplebelieved they were spirits of abandonedinfants. The Luveniwai Movement attestedthat each person could have a personalguardian spirit of the forest – they met in secretclearings in the forest, drank kava andperformed ceremonies. The movementeventually attracted the attention of thecolonial government when people involvedrefused to work and ordained it illegal.THE JOHNSON CULTOne of the most bizarre of the cults was the so-called Johnson Cult of New Hanover in PapuaNew Guinea. In 1933, the people of the islandpetitioned for independence, demandingrepatriation of foreign-owned plantations. In1964, when the first elections were held in PapuaNew Guinea, the people of New Hanoverbecame persuaded that the then US president,Lyndon Johnson, would be the person to leadthem to a better government. They collected alarge amount of money in shilling coins and gavethis to the local Catholic missionary withinstructions to send the money to PresidentJohnson to cover his travelling costs to NewHanover. The money was returned to them, buttheir desire to install President Johnson as theirleader continued for some time after that.In the Purari Delta of Papua NewGuinea’s south coast, there arose afterthe Second World War the movement of‘New Men’ led byTommy Kabu. LikeYali ofMadang District, Tommy Kabu served inNew Guinea during the war and sawsomething of Australia during the waryears. When he returned to the PurariDelta, he started a movement thatadvocated destruction of traditionalreligion, the wholesale adoption ofChristianity, and the reformulation oflocal society on a business cooperativebasis. He and his followers also rejectedthe colonial administration of their area,preferring to form their own police forceand build their own jails. Tommy Kabuhimself was impressed with theadministrative detail of western life; hebuilt his own ‘office’ which he litteredwith printed papers of all kinds, includingcopies of articles from Reader’s Digest, tocreate the impression of officialadministrative functioning.The New Menwere to embark on western-stylebusiness ventures, to market sago andcopra to Port Moresby. However, becauseof their lack of understanding of realbusiness fundamentals, and theformidable resistance of the socialsystem to western-style individualism,these ventures failed. By the mid-1950s,although the first steps had been taken,the people of the Purari River Delta hadonly succeeded in introducing destructiveinfluences into their traditional cult life.NEW MEN
  • 64. D e s e r tGr e atDividingRangeGreatDividingRangeN u l l a r b o r P l a i nFlindersRangGreyRangeB a s s S t r a i tGulf ofCarpentariaG r e a tA u s t r a l i a n B i g h tG r e a t V i c t o r i a D e s e r tI n d i a nO c e a n C o r a lS e aG i b s o n D e s e r tS i m p s o nSturtDesertTa s m a n i aUluru/Ayers RockSydneyBrisbaneMelbourneCanberraAdelaideniwraDBroomeAlice SpringsellivsnwoTBendigoeilrooglaKhtrePAlbanyAdelaideAreas of recorded aboriginalresistance to European settlementspre–18501850–801880–1930native land rights claims, Jan. 1997Aboriginal AustraliaI N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S66IN THE CENTRE of Australia and theGreat Victoria Desert, the term for thecreative period when the earth and all itscontents were first made by the ancestors, isdjugurba. Not only was it the initial form-creating period of the world, but its creativepowers exist to the present day. The ancestorscontinue to exert their form-making powers, andit is up to humans to detect this power and tapinto it for their own purposes. The word ‘dream’is highlighted, as many Aboriginal people saythat ancestors and ancestral power often revealthemselves in dreams. There is much lessdiscontinuity between the waking life and thedream life in terms of everyday meaning andsignificance for Aboriginal persons, although ofcourse Aboriginal people know the differencebetween the real world and the dream world.CREATION MYTHSMost of the major Australian creation mythsdetail the wanderings of mythical beings. Theymoved from place to place, creating waterholes,rocks, creatures, landscape features, and alsogiving these things their names. The pathway ofa single creator being or a single route of travel isA U S T R A L I A N A B O R I G I N A L SThe DreamingThe most distinctive concept ofAustralianAboriginal religion isthat of the ‘dreaming’ or, as it used to be called, the ‘dreamtime’.This refers to a primordial creative period when ancestor beingsroamed the land, in various human and animal forms, creating thelandscape and the species of the earth as humans find them in thepresent day.Aboriginal AustraliaWhen Europeans first began to settle inAustralia towards the end of theeighteenth century there were already300,000 people on the continent.As thefrontier was pushed forward, thecompetition for land and water becamefierce.The native population began todecline almost immediately. Since the1970s, however, large tracts of landhave been returned to the aboriginalsand the aboriginal population is nowestimated at around 350,000.
  • 65. T H E D R E A M I N G67called a dreaming track. These can be very longand can connect dozens of groups literally acrossthe breadth of the continent. The tracks criss-cross Australia and thus provide a network forreligious and social communication betweengroups at very great distances from one another.The dreaming track is a single thing and canbe said to have a beginning and an end. Butbecause different Aboriginal groups occupy onlyrestricted portions of the route, they only ‘own’part of the myth and its associated ritual. Thiscreates the condition under which differentgroups come together to perform their ownspecial segments of the total myth, althoughbecause of the length of the tracks, it could neverbe performed as a complete ritual performance.Thus, in a certain important sense, traditionalAboriginal groups of Australia were only partsof a larger mythological whole which they couldinfer but the extent of which they did not know.SUPREME BEINGSIn south-east Australia, there is the widespreadbelief in a supreme being, a male ‘All-Father’.He is called Ngurunderi among theNgarrindjeri of the Lower Murray, SouthAustralia, Baiami among the Wiradjuri of NewSouth Wales and Victoria, and the Kamilaroi ofNew South Wales and Queensland. In theLower Murray, Ngurunderi travelled along thesouth coast, creating the contours of thecoastline and the mouth of the Murray River.Pursuing his two wives who had fled, he caughtup with them around Cape Willoughby andcaused the sea to rise,drowning them. They turnedinto the Pages Islands there.The Rainbow Serpent isalso a widespread figureacross Aboriginal Australia.It is always associated withrain or water and is often saidto inhabit deep water holes.Around Ayers Rock (Uluru) itis called wanambi and isregarded as very dangerousand is treated with greatcircumspection by localAboriginal people.Bolung among the Dalabon of the NorthernTerritory refers explicitly to the rainbow.TheDalabon believe that if a woman is toconceive, she must be entered by a rainbowsnake, and that after death the performanceof the proper ceremonies will transform aperson’s spirit back into its rainbow-snakeform. Bolung as an adjective, however, meansanything that had creative, transformativepower in the Dreaming period.In Western Australia, a similar idea iscontained in the notion of ungud. Ungud, is aproperty of the wandjina paintings found incaves ofWestern Australia.These paintingsshow beings with no mouths and often nobodies.The wandjina are the creative spiritsthat made the land and its features. Ungud isthe creative power that made the wandjinapowerful. The wandjina havethe power to make babies andensure the coming of the wetseason and the flourishing ofedible plants and animals.In the Pilbara region ofWestern Australia, south ofKimberly, early reportersmentioned the concept of tarlow – a pile ofstonesorasinglestonesetaparttomarksomespot of particular fertile power, the power tomake things increase and multiply.Among theKaradjieri of Western Australia, there arecentres of ritual that belong to all-importantplant and animal species, upon which increaserites are performed.The performance of theserites thus keeps Dreaming power alive inthe present.FERTILITY
  • 66. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S68IN THE WESTERN desert, there are fourmain stages to initiation. First, the initiateis taken from the care of his femalekinsmen. He is then painted with older men’sblood and then with red ochre. After this, he isisolated with the other initiates for up to a year.In the second stage, fire is thrown over theheads of the novices. Older men take bloodfrom their arms and use it to fasten birdfeathers down in the shape of sacred totemicdesigns. In the third stage, the circumcision ofthe novices is performed and they are takenback into the seclusion camp to heal and to beshown the sacred bullroarers (oblong pieces ofwood inscribed with sacred designs; the noisethey make when swung over the head isbelieved to be the voice of the ancestor). Lateron they are returned to the camp where theirarrival is celebrated by their relatives. Thenovices are taken on to their country andinstructed in their territorial mythology. Afterthis, the novices may be sub-incised, a processwhereby an incision is made in the underside ofthe urethra. In the last stage, the novices receivetheir cicatrizations – scars made on the initiate’sback which leave a permanent raised weal offlesh on the body. At this point the young menare considered fully initiated and mayparticipate in a range of rituals and ceremoniesperformed by men.InitiationThe initiation of boys was and still is one of the central ritual events of thecommunity, especially in centralAustralia. Both circumcision and sub-incision of the male genitalia were practised over a considerable area ofinteriorAustralia.As well as this, the focus was on the training of boys inthe sacred mythology and ritual of their group.
  • 67. I N I T I A T I O N69CIRCUMCISION AND SCARIFICATIONIn eastern Arnhem Land, the boys who arebeing prepared for circumcision are told thatthe mythical python Yurlunggor has smelledtheir foreskins and is coming to swallow them,as he swallowed the mythical Wawilak sistersin the myth. The novices are also smeared withochre during the djunggawon initiation cycle,which stands for the blood of the Wawilaksisters in the myth. In the Kunapipi (Gunabibi)initiation, men let blood from their arms fallupon the sacred trench dug in the ground –again, this is supposed to represent theWawilak sisters’ blood.Sub-incision is practised in the Great VictoriaDesert, northern South Australia and centralAustralia. In these areas, the wound issubsequently opened up in certain ritualcontexts, so that blood may flow from the man’sgenitals on to his legs during dancing.Scarification of the body was also practisedextensively throughout Australia, particularly inQueensland. Parallel scars were made on thechests of initiated men among the Butchulla andKabi Kabi of the Wide Bay Coast of centralQueensland as late as the twentieth century.Among the Dieri of Northern Australiacicatrizations are common.TheWawilak myth is central to theAustralian Creation.At the beginning of time, it is said, theWawilak sisters travelled northfrom their home in centralAustralia towards the sea.As they travelled they named places, animals and plants, and dug holesin the ground from which water sprang. On their journey they stopped near a waterhole in whichYurlunggor, the great python,lived. It was here that one of the sisters (the eldest) polluted the waterhole with her menstrual blood.Yurlunggor was angryand emerged from the waterhole, commanding a great flood and heavy rains. The water covered the whole earth andeverything on it.The flood receded asYurlunggor descended back into the waterhole.THE WAWILAK MYTH
  • 68. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S70MAORI SPIRITUALITY IS centrallyconcerned with relationships betweenpeople, and between them and theland. It is about genealogy, family andneighbourliness, and it is about the importance ofparticular locations and what takes place there.These concerns underlie the highly respected artsof oratory and carving that are especially evidentin Maori gatherings of various sorts. Such arts andencounters engage the dynamics of mana andtapu, and involve a wide community of humanand other-than-human persons. All of this (andmuch more) comes together when Maori meetguests on marae (sacred spaces) and theirassociated buildings: wharenui (meeting-houses),and wharekai (dining-halls).MANATraditionally, when a child is born its placenta isburied in the family’s land, and establishes thechild’s rights in that place, its turangawaewae(‘standing place’). Throughout life each person isencouraged to exercise their rights not only inliving in a place, but also in acts that unfoldinherent potential and increase theprestige of the family and place.Everything and everyone is understoodto have an essence, mauri. As people develop theirabilities and realise their potential, they increase inmana (charisma or the authoritative prestige ofgifted people). Some people, places or things havemore mana than others – they are more gifted,valued or powerful. Encounters between differentstrengths or kinds of mana are potentially fraught,if not dangerous: whose prestige is greater? Howwill one strength affect the other? Should oneskilful ability come into contact with another?Especially difficult are encounters betweendifferent tribes, or between Maori and otherpeoples. These encounters are therefore controlledby social restrictions, tapu, a word widely knownin its wider Polynesian form tabu. Sometimes tapuinvolves keeping mana-full things or peopleseparate, establishing a place and clear boundariesfor every activity. However, when it is necessary tobring two mana together there are carefulprotocols and procedures that negotiate theboundaries and establish new relationships.M A O R IMaori ReligionMaori are the indigenous people ofAotearoa (New Zealand).Theyname themselves tangata whenua (‘people of the land’ or ‘locals’).Maori often say that they are very spiritual people.Although manyMaori identify themselves as Christians, Baha’is, Rastafarians oras members of other religions, there is a sense in which thesereligions are added to an omnipresent and traditional Maorispirituality that informs much of contemporary Maori culture.
  • 69. M A O R I R E L I G I O N71Maori identify themselves not only as theindigenous people of the land, but also asmembers of particular tribes, iwi, whichare further sub-divided into clans, hapu,and families, whanau. Around 1,000 yearsago Maori migrated from elsewhere in thePacific in a fleet (or series of fleets) oflarge canoes, waka. Each iwi descendsfrom a common ancestor who captainedone of those canoes and first settled aparticular area in the new land, Aotearoa,Land of the Long White Cloud (or LongTwilight). Within each iwi, families tracetheir descent from more recent but alsohighly honoured ancestors. Thus whanaurefers not just to a relationship betweenparents and their children, but includesthe ancestors, all those alive today, andthose yet to be born. Each familycommunity has strong ties to particularplaces where ancestors lived andare buried, where each generation isborn, works, socializes and gives birth tothe next generation. In speech-making, korero, people introducethemselves by referring to place andgenealogy. Thus, someone from Ruatoriamight begin with:Ko Hikurangi te maunga,koWaiapu te awa,ko Ngati Porou te iwi.Hikurangi is the mountain,Waiapu is the river,Ngati Porou is the tribe.MAORI TRIBESMARAEWhen hosts receive visitors they typically do so onthe marae, an open space in which potentialbecomes apparent as different mana encounterone another. The local hosts greet visitors,recognize their mana and that of their ancestors(who are ever-present with the current generation),but also insist on the pre-eminent mana, prestige,of local ancestors and community. By variousceremonies the visitors are brought into the maraespace and their potential friendship is establishedrather than their potential hostility. The gifts oforatory are demonstrated in speeches made andreceived by hosts and guests. These refer to aspectsof traditional knowledge (korero tahito) thatdemonstrate respect to both parties. Localancestors are also present in the form of more-or-less elaborately carved meeting houses (wharenui):their arms outstretched in welcome of visitors,their spine supporting the roof that shelters thosecurrently alive and making space for furthertalking and decision-making.
  • 70. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S72THE FOLLOWING SUMMARY of atraditional Maori theme is notprincipally about ‘how the world got tobe as it is’ but might establish a point about theconstraints imposed by over-close relationships.It continues to demonstrate that space is neededif people are going to grow towards thefulfilment of their potential.Some time ago in the evolution of all things,Father Sky and Mother Earth were so intimatelydevoted to one another that there was no spacebetween them. The children born of theirpassion had neither light nor space in which togrow. The overwhelming closeness of theparents caused a division in the affections of thechildren. Eventually, with considerable effort,Tanemahuta pushed his father up and awayfrom his mother. With space and light to grow,the children took on the responsibilities offurthering the great unfolding of life’s potential.These acts engendered not only growth, butalso further acts both of conflict and community.Tanemahuta’s act is partly replicated every timesomeone skilfully makes space for life andpotential. It is clear in the tall forest trees(Tanemahuta’s domain), but also in the lifting ofroofs above floors in wharenui and all otherwhare (houses). It does not encourage disrespectto parents, partly because it was only justified bythe extreme conditions endured before theseparation, and partly because traditionalknowledge also speaks of the priority of peacedespite the occasional necessity of conflict.MAUIIt is not only gods who contribute to the creativeunfolding of potential; humanity is alsoimplicated in the choices and constraints thatarise in life. Maui, ancestor of all Maori,achieved many things that made life better forhis relatives and descendants – and, indeed, forall humanity. Maui considered the day too briefto be useful. So, with the help of his brothers, hetrapped the sun in a large net, and forced it totravel across the sky slowly enough to providesufficient time and light to achieve great things.On another occasion Maui is said to have usedNew Zealand’s South Island as a canoe fromwhich to fish up the North Island out of thedepths. However, in the end, Maui failed. Ormaybe it is simply that he tried to go too far, andhis failure must be counted a benefit to all. Hadhis attempt to gain immortality for humanitysucceeded, there would be absolutely no roomleft on earth by now. In brief, an orator mightMaori Traditional KnowledgeMaori oratory is rooted in traditional narratives that should not be mistaken forprimitive, childish or erroneous ‘myths’. If orators refer to the rain as the tearsof Father Sky, sad at his separation from Mother Earth, they are not confusedabout the nature of the cosmos, but reinforcing a point by referring to ubiquitoussigns of relationship, desire, disappointment and so on.
  • 71. 73draw out the following traditional knowledge tosupport a particular argument about restraint.Maui hoped that immortality might be foundby entering the body of the divine-ancestress.Transforming himself into a lizard, he warns hiscompanions not to laugh. But the sight of Mauientering head-first into the vagina of the sleepingHine-nui-te-po was far too funny. The twitteringlaughter woke the sleeper, who closed her legsand crushed Maui to death.Over the last 30 years there has been arenaissance of Maori culture. Traditionalknowledge has been found to be rich andresonant and, importantly, well able to speak tocontemporary concerns and issues. Even in an erawhen most Maori live in cities rather than smallvillages, when they participate in global forumslike the internet and trade, and even when manyare unemployed or impoverished, the knowledgeof divine and ancestral deeds is increasinglyvalued. Maori cultural centres have beenestablished in the cities, children are introduced toMaori language via traditional stories and eldersagain explore the wisdom handed down inpowerful and evocative oratory. What may seemlike myths of strange and miraculous events arerediscovered as resources for facing ordinary lifeand its concerns, whether everyday oroverwhelming. Central to Maori knowledge andculture is the creation and maintenance of morerespectful relationships and lifestyles.Bay ofPlentyT a s m a nS e aHawkeBayStewart Is.SouthIslandNorthIslandNorth CapeTaranakiBightC. PalliserEastCapeC. Farewellsouthern limit of gourdand taro cultivationsouthern limit of sweetpotato cultivationareas of densestpopulation1st aukati (border), 18622nd aukati (border), 1866Maori TribesMaori TribesThere are more than 40 differentMaori tribes.The map shows the mainareas of Maori settlement in NewZealand before European contact in1769.Although most food wasobtained through hunting andgathering, the Maori also cultivatedthe land.The limits of this cultivationare shown on the map. In the 1860sthe Maori fought bloody campaignsagainst the British in defence of theirlands.Aukati was a border proclaimedby the Maori king to limit Europeanpenetration from the south.
  • 72. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N SOVER MANY THOUSANDS of yearssuccessive migrations of peoples hadfilled every inhabitable region of NorthAmerica, from the Arctic tundra, to the interiorplains, and from the sea coasts to the desertplateaux of the arid south-west. Speaking over300 distinct languages, each tribal group haddeveloped its own distinctive culture, mythologyand rituals, specific to living in harmony withintheir local environment. Scholarly estimates,based upon both oral tradition and archeologicalevidence, suggest that the population of theAmericas prior to the arrival of ChristopherColumbus in 1492 exceeded 100 million.POPULATION DECLINEThe native population had no immunity toEuropean diseases such as influenza,diphtheria or smallpox and by 1600 some 20epidemics had swept through the Americas,decimating the population until less than one-tenth of the original number remained.As increasing numbers of European settlersarrived they came into conflict with the nativepeoples. Genocide obliterated some first nationsthat, together with their unique languages, cultures,oralhistoriesandcosmologies,disappearedforever.Treaties were negotiated between nativenations and European representatives fromBritain or France, but thesewere routinelyN AT I V E N O R T H A M E R I C ANorth American First NationsWhen, from the end of the fifteenth century, Europeansbegan to explore NorthAmerica, they found a large andculturally diverse population. However, epidemics and frequentwarfare – coupled with the loss of land and resources to anincreasing flood of immigrants – decimated the scatteredpopulations. It was only in the 1960s that a resurgence began.Tribal America Before 1492The map shows the location of thetribes of the 100 million people thatmade up the population of NorthAmerica before the arrival ofColumbus in 1492.MississippiG u l f o f M e x i c oA t l a n t i c O c e a nB e r i n gS t r a i tA L A S K AS I B E R I AHAREKUTCHINDOGRIBHANTUTCHONEMASSACHUSETTSUSQUEHANNOCKERIESIOUXABENAKISAUKCROWPERCEMANDANNEZBLACKFOOTNOOTKAKWAKIUTLMONTAGNAIS-NASKAPIHAIDABEAVERK A S K ANAHUATLNARRAGANSETTMIAMIARAPAHODELAWARESHAWNEEPOWHATANOSAGEKIOWACATAWBACREEKCHOCTAWCADDOMOHAVECOMANCHEPAPAGOTIMUCUACALUSACOAHUILTECHUASTECTOTONACCHEYENNETANANAINGALIKFOXTOMIPOTAWA-CHINOOKBEOTHUK-WAPSHUSCHIPEWYANPAIUTEYOKUTSCHUMASHCOCHIMAPACHEYUROKPAWNEEMODOCIROQUOISSHOSHONE ALGONKINOTTAWAMENOMINEESARCEECARRIERPOMOCHEROKEENAVAJOCHICKASAWWICHITAHOPIPUEBLOKAROKILLINOISHURONTSIMSHIANNATCHEZTEPEHUANTARAHUMARAHUICHOLCORAM I C M A CO J I B W AC R E EUTEPIMATLINGITINUITKOYUKONA L E U TArcticSub-ArcticNorthwest CoastPlateauGreat BasinCaliforniaSouthwestGreat PlainsNortheastSoutheastTribal America Before 1492
  • 73. N O R T H A M E R I C A N F I R S T N A T I O N S75ignored by the newly arriving, land-hungrysettlers. Many natives were killed in skirmisheswith settlers, or in concerted attacks by armedforces, such as the massacre of the Lakota peopleat Wounded Knee in 1890.Successive waves of immigrants surgedwestwards and flowed over traditional nativegardens and hunting grounds. Europeanencroachment and annexation of ‘Indian Lands’forced native peoples on to diminishing areas of‘reservation’ lands, which were generally ofmarginal productivity. Without a viable economicbase, the majority were condemned to poverty.The immigrants viewed the remnants of thenative nations as just one more obstacle in theirway. In 1830 President Jackson ordered the massrelocation of all ‘Indians’ living east of theMississippi. Although Cherokee elders fought thispolicy in the courts, the people were still forced tomigrate from their ancestral lands and to relocatefar to the west. Herded by federal soldiers, sick,exhausted and starving, many died along the‘Trail of Tears’, which is only now beginning to bemourned and commemorated in art, literatureand song. Land loss or relocation also entailedspiritual bankruptcy, for relationship to thespiritual world is mediated through the land.DISINHERITANCEBoth American and Canadian governmentsassumed that total assimilation of their nativepopulations was inevitable. From the latenineteenth century right up until the 1980smany thousands of native children wereforcibly taken from their families to residentialschools or removed for adoption into ‘white’families. The use of indigenous languages wasforbidden. Almost all traditional religiousceremonies were declaredillegal (despite charters inboth countries proclaimingfreedom of religion). West-coast Potlatches, sun dances,sweat lodges and sweet-grass ceremonies were allbanned. Only on the largereservations of the Pueblopeoples in the arid south-western USA did thetraditional cycles of religiousrituals and ceremoniescontinue undisturbed.Some left the reserves for urban centres.Many still remain on isolated and resource-poorreservation lands, where poverty,unemployment, illness, alcoholism, domesticviolence, child abuse, despair and soaring suiciderates are endemic.By the 1960s there were governmentproposals for ‘extinguishment’ (in the USA) and‘termination’ (in Canada). These proposalswould have effectively ended all treaty rights andtreaty status of native peoples.RESURGENCEIn the mid 1960s, however, a series ofconferences convened by native peoples beganto publicise their plight and awaken publicoutrage. The glorious pioneering historyrecounted in text books was challenged bynative communities who had experienced theirown history as a continuous tragedy ofinjustice, broken treaties, persecution,violence, plunder and suppression.There followed a series of very public andtelevised events: the occupation of theabandoned prison island of Alcatraz (1969),native militant youth holding out against USAmarshals for 71 days at Wounded Knee (1973),or Canadian Mohawk people defending theirtribal lands against encroachment atKanehsatake (1990).In the USA the Indian Self-Determination Actwas passed in 1975. Each recognized tribe isentitled to receive assistance in establishing itsown government, court system, police andschools. Each may operate as an independentnation, developing their land as they wish. Thisdevelopment already includes everything fromresorts and casinos, to industrial developmentsand toxic and nuclear waste dumps. In Canadathe movement towards complete self-government is progressing more slowly.Gradually the old religious traditions andceremonies are returning. Often elderscan still remember how sacred dancesand rituals were conducted. Museumsand public art galleries have beenordered to repatriate sacred artefacts,dance masks, etc. to the tribes to whichthey belong and to return ancestralbones for re-burial. Native languagesand spirituality now form establishedcourses in many universities, whileAboriginal elders work as chaplains inmany hospitals, universities and prisons.RE-ESTABLISHINGTRADITION
  • 74. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S76NATIVE TRIBAL CULTURE and self-image are based upon the continuoushabitation of place. People and placetogether form a social, cultural and spiritualunit. Prominent landscape elements are thesacred sites – places where the spiritualworld is manifest. They may mark theplace of the emergence of a peoplefrom the underworld, or of itscreation by mythological spiritpowers. Here the ancestralbones rest.Oral histories, storiesof origin and of ancientmythological creaturesvary across the continent, butall serve the function ofculturally bonding a peopletogether. They all stress theinteraction between people and thenatural and spiritual world. Story-telling, chanting, dancing and role-playing wearing elaborate dance masksenable people to actively participate inaddressing issues of ultimate concern, andexpressing the unity and spiritual origin ofall things.HIEROPHANIC NATURENature is experienced as hierophanic, that is,manifesting the spiritual. It is said that natureitself is the cathedral, the site where thespiritual may be encountered. For each tribalgroup, certain specific places (a high mountainor a spring, for example) andspecific creatures will assumespecial significance, and can and dobecome vehicles for revelation.A bear, a buffalo, a raven, and so onwill, on occasion become, orbody forth, the power of the spiritworld to protect, teach, warn or healtribal members.The focus upon spatiality may beexpressed in the medicine wheel, acircular form, frequently marked out inrock patterns on the land. The medicinewheel is a symbol of inclusiveness, ofthe four directions (north, south, eastand west), of the whole people(children, youth, adult and elderly),of the circle of the teepee, inside thecircle of the tribe, inside the circle ofthe world. Prayers can be addressedto and blessings sought from thefour directions.RESPECT FOR ANIMALSSpirituality is pervasive throughout all lifeand, therefore, all animals are part of thesacred creation. They contain a spiritualessence no less significant than our ownand so must be treated with respect. It isoften possible to be in spiritualcommunication with an animal spirit. Ahunter may ‘call’ animals towardshimself. On killing an animal for food,the hunter should make a reciprocalSpiritualityThe recent resurgence of native spiritualityprovides the self-respect and culturalidentity essential to the ongoing struggleto regain treaty lands and achieve politicalindependence. Despite wide variations inmythologies, ceremonies and rituals, it ispossible to generalize. Native spiritualityexpresses the close relationship between people, natureand the spirit world. Its re-introduction sometimes causesfriction with older tribal members who have become devout Christians,but is of increasing appeal to the young and to the wider NorthAmerican public.
  • 75. S P I R I T U A L I T Y77offering, possibly of tobacco, offeredto the animal spirit and to theCreator in thanksgiving, respect andacknowledgement of the hunter’s relianceupon the animal for survival.SHAMANISMShamanism is found throughout NativeNorth America. The shaman (usually atribal elder or holy man) has, by fastingand prayer, established a closerelationship with his specific guardiananimal spirit. He undertakes journeysinto the spirit world where he may begiven wisdom to prophesy, to givewarnings to his people, or inform peoplewhy certain animals are scarce andwhere they should hunt. He hasextensive knowledge of herbal remediesand may be called upon (instead of,or in addition to, modern medicalfacilities) to provide both physical andspiritual healing.Shamans, with their healing powers,are highly respected. Their activitiesthey carry out are extremely diverse,ranging from knowing the movements ofArctic fish, to healing with sand paintingsand traditional chants in the south-western deserts. Today, some undertakework as counsellors, advisors orchaplains in hospitals and colleges.Their clients increasingly include non-native followers.There is an amazing variety of works ofgreat artistic merit created, not primarilyfor decoration, but as an expression of thespiritual manifest in all things. Art is not aseparate category but rather a symbolicrepresentation of a spiritual reality. Eachpattern and decoration, each shape andcolour, each rattle and feather, is symbolicand carries a specific meaning. Often thesesymbols are highly stylized. Art is used todecorate both sacred objects (e.g. dancemasks) and everyday items of clothing,housing, and implements of daily life suchas canoe paddles, pottery, baskets etc. Arthonours the object by affording it meaning.It is an expression of the role of the object inthe sacredness and interacting unity of life,and the great circle of being.NATIVE NORTH-AMERICAN ART
  • 76. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S78CEREMONIES AND rituals reinforce areciprocal relationship between people,nature and the spirit world. Spiritualpower or Orenda (Iroquois), Manitou(Algonquin), Wakan-Tanka (Sioux) or Kachina(Hopi), ensures the abundance of nature, andpeople play an essential role in this by offeringgifts, rituals and gratitude.Before most ceremonies a sweat lodge is builtfor purification from sin, addiction andbrokenness. Constructed of saplings bent togetherto form a half sphere, with the entrance facingeast, it is covered with cedar boughs and tarpaulinsto ensure darkness. Very hot rocks are placed inthe central fire-pit and, accompanied by prayerand chanting, cold water is sprinkled on them. Thelodge combines earth, air, water and fire. Aromaticherbs, drums and rattles may also be used.VISION SEEKINGAnother widespread tradition is that of visionseeking. After receiving instruction from ashaman, and after making offerings andreceiving purification in a sweat lodge, the visionseeker goes to a wilderness location to spendseveral days in solitude, fasting and prayer. Theseeker may have dreams and see beyond thephysical world into the spiritual. Many receive avisit from an animal who will reveal itself asbeing the person’s spiritual guardian.CEREMONIES OF SOUTH-WESTERN USAPueblo traditions are based upon a cosmologyof the emergence of people from undergroundworlds. The stonewalled, underground kivachambers symbolize emergence from the wombof the earth up a vertical axis. Located inthe centre of the village, the kiva is the domainof the men and is where the Kachina masks andcostumes are stored.The annual ritual cycle follows the seasonalcycle of nature: cultivation of crops in thesummer and harvest in the fall being followed bythe dance and ceremonial cycles, generallylasting from the winter to the summer solstice.For the complex cycle of masked dances andceremonies, the sacred masks are brought out ofstorage in the kivas and may be repainted anddecorated. The dances form a liturgical cycle inwhich both mask and dancer become theembodiment of the spirit power that isrepresented. Dolls are made for the children assmall replicas of the Kachinas, so that they canlearn to recognize each of the masks andassociated spirit powers.CEREMONIES OFTHE CENTRAL PLAINS–THE SUN DANCEFor so long declared illegal, it is only since the1970s that a slow revival of the Sun Dance hasbeen possible. It is held annually by anCeremonies and RitualsAcross NorthAmerica there is not only a wide variation in the type andpurpose of ceremonies but also in their continuity.The Pueblo peoplesof south-western USA, were never subjected to military conquest and,having rejected the early Spanish missionaries, maintained theirtraditional ritual cycles without interruption, preserving much of theirculture and mythology intact. In contrast, Canadian First Nations arereinstating traditional ceremonies and dances that were prohibited bylaw for many years. In other communities, especially those of thesouth-eastern USA, where people were displaced from their lands,and many of the ancient traditions and ceremonies were irretrievably lost.
  • 77. C E R E M O N I E S A N D R I T U A L S79increasing number of bands. A dancearena is selected and surrounded by anarbour of poles and evergreen branches.A central pole is erected, representingthe axial centre of existence, linkingdancers to both the circle of earth andthe celestial circle of the spirit world.Following weeks of preparation, thedancers begin each day with a sweatlodge, and fast throughout the four ormore days of the ceremony. They circle thearena continuously during daylight hours,accompanied by groups of drummers whomaintain a steady rhythm, like theheartbeat of the earth. It is also a test ofendurance and bravery. Some of the youngmen choose to have skewers placedthrough their back or chest muscles,attached by ropes to heavy buffalo skulls. Theycompete to drag the skulls the furthest, and canwin prestigious awards.CEREMONIES OFTHE NORTH-WESTCOAST –THE POTLATCHThe nations of the Pacific north-westacknowledge the profound spiritualrelationship that exists between people andnature, by carving the story of the familyrelationship with both real and mythologicalcreatures into house posts, mortuary poles andtotem (or family crest) poles.The most important ceremony is the potlatch(prohibited from 1884 until 1951). In large andwonderfully carved assembly halls, feasting isfollowed by elaborate dances in which the dancerswear huge, fabulously carved masks to depictancestral legends honouring a particular chief orclan. Dancing is followed by a lavish ‘give-away’,in which the giver of the potlatch gains status byhis generosity. Potlatches may be held to celebrateany major event such as a birth, wedding,anniversary or appointment of a new chief.CONFLICT OF INTERESTWhile the last few decades have seen anextraordinary resurgence in Native religion inNorth America, accompanied by rapideducational improvements and politicalchanges, many thousands of native people,especially those on the more remote andresource-poor reserves, remain in poverty andare seriously marginalized with few prospectsfor a better future.As the destructiveness of the modern NorthAmerican way of life has become increasinglyapparent, native spiritual teaching has becomeincreasingly appealing to many in ‘mainstream’society. There is a certain irony that the nativeintegrated worldview of a sacred earth, wherepeople, nature and land are interdependent andhierophanic, is in absolute contrast to theeconomic aspirations of many band councils (thelocal community organisation responsible forFirst Nation affairs) to develop casinos, resorts,mines, industries, in fact anything that willcatapult band members into the materialist,consumer mainstream.The recent resurgence in national pride and culture has ledalmost every tribal group and reservation to hold a regularsummer celebration (homecoming), during which powwowdances form an essential part of the celebration. Thepowwow is a series of dances in which participants circlethe dance arena to the rhythm of different drum groups. Itmay last anywhere from a few hours to several days.Thereare different categories of dancing; some for men, or forwomen, or children, and some open for everyone present tojoin in.There are different categories of the very elaboratetypes of dance costume. Prizes may be awarded fordancing and for costumes. Notable performers, a skilledhoop dancer, for example, may be invited to come aconsiderable distance to give a solo performance. Manyyounger band members spend their summer months on thepowwow trail, moving from one celebration to another.They carry with them not only costumes and drums, butalso new cultural, political and economic ideas and cementfriendship bonds between Native peoples of manydifferent cultures.THE POWWOW CIRCUIT
  • 78. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N STHE PEOPLES WHO inhabit theAmazonian forest, locatedpredominantly in Brazil but alsoVenezuela, Colombia and Peru, live by shiftingagriculture; hunting, fishing and gathering.For them the cosmos is animate. Accordingto their cosmologies, the universe has threelayers, each peopled by different beings. In theunderworld live aquatic creatures, the mostimportant of which are the anaconda or caiman.In the sky live the birds, of which the vulture orharpy eagle are the most significant for myth andbeliefs generally. On the earth live people andforest-dwelling creatures, of which the jaguar isthe most powerful. All creatures are believed tobe controlled by the ‘master of animals’ who issometimes the group’s shaman.SHAMANISMThe shaman is often the only individual with aspecialized role in the community. Able to see theinvisible world, which co-exists with the visible,shamans communicate with it and areresponsible, for example, for releasing gameanimals for which the souls of new-born babieshave to be exchanged. They can also travel to theC E N T R A L A N D S O U T H A M E R I C AThe AmazoniansNot only is the longhouse the centre of the everyday lives of theAmazonian people but, during ritual, their house becomes thecosmos.With the assistance of the shaman, space and timebecome one as the participants experience the invisible worldwhich is essential to their continuing wellbeing.Cerro MachadoFilandiaSan AgustínLos EsterosMocheMarangaCahuachiMoundHernmackCoyoSitio ConteLa MataMarajó IslandHuariMound VelardeTiahuanacoPadre Las CasasPacovalSantarémNascaAndesAmazonOrinocMARITIMEHUNTERS,SHELLFISHCOLLECTORSGRASSLANDSTEPPE HUNTERSHUNTERSOF THECHACOSAVANNAHSAVANNAHFARMERSSAVANNAHFARMERSMARITIME HUNTERS, SHELLFISHCOLLECTORSNORTHANDEANCHIEFDOMSCENTRALANDEANCIVILIZATIONsuperb goldwork found in tombsimperial capital withimmense pyramidsextensive villagesextensive field systemscult centre andeconomic powerhousefarming peopleschiefdomscivilized stateshunters and gathererssite first occupied before AD 600site mainly occupied after AD 600AmazoniaAmazoniaThe map shows the settlement of thepeoples of the Amazon and SouthAmerica from 300 BC to AD 1300.80
  • 79. T H E A M A Z O N I A N S81different layers of the cosmos or send othersthere in trance or by means of hallucinogenicdrugs. In many groups, the son of a shaman isapprenticed to his father, but in others, menbecome shamans by means of a severe illness, byrevelation or simply ambition.The latter pay for their initiation andaccumulate power in the forest through directexperience. It is a hard training involving sexualabstinence, fasting, vomiting and other dietaryprohibitions. The shaman enters into arelationship with one or more ancestral spirits, andis given his spirit weapons. Potency lies in theinvisible world which is viewed with ambiguity (asis the self-made shaman). All shamans have accessto considerable power which they can use for goodor evil: the most powerful can turn themselves intojaguars. Mostly, however, a shaman does good inhis own community but wards off mysticalattacks sent by shamans from elsewhere.CURINGShamans can cure both physiological illness andsocial disorder; they may blow tobacco smoke overthe patient, suck out spirit weapons or go into atrance to fight the spirits causing the problem.More powerful is water throwing carried out in themidday sun. For this water scented with aromaticleaves is thrown over the patient’s body which isthought to ‘trawl’ through it removing ‘spines,bundles of fur or feathers which the shaman throwsaway amid much blowing, clapping of hands andflicking of fingers’. The shaman makes aperformance out of such rituals: for he has to notonly know all the myths, rites and otheresoteric knowledge (of plants, animalsand the stars) but also to add somethingof himself to become highly respected.THE HE ORYURUPARY CULTFor the Barasana, who live in the upperVaupes region in Colombia, theanaconda is the first ancestor andassociated with the sacred He flutes andtrumpets which are kept under water andrepresent its bones. He refers to a timelessgenerating force, known also as Yurupary. In myth,Yurupary was the culture hero who establishedorder in nature and taught the first men rules andritual conduct. These instruments must never beseen by women and girls, and only by boys whohave been initiated. During ritual, as those involveddance and chant, ancestral time is recreated; thehouse is seen to become the cosmos.During ritual, the floor of the house is conceptualized asthe earth, the roof becomes the sky supported by thehouse posts which become the mountains.The horizontalroof beams represent the sun’s path. Any grave under thehouse is seen as being in the underworld, and the ritualornaments hanging from the ceiling beams, collectivelyknown as ‘macaw feathers’, act as the mediator betweenthe earth and the sky. The cassava griddle used by thewomen is like the cosmos, and said to be the one droppedby the female maker of the world (Roumi Kumu), whenthere were only sky people and the Primal Sun. She wasthe originator of domestic fire, and it was her sacredbeeswax gourd that gave men their shamanic power.THE BARANSA HOUSE AS COSMOSRiver of the DeadSymbolic centreof the worldEASTWESTPath of the SunPath of the SunThe house becomes one with theuniverse and the spirit world which itrepresents.An imaginary river seen asflowing through the middle of the houseis the underworld river of the dead,whotravel in their burial canoes.The sun’scanoe travels in the opposite directionso that it can rise once again in the east.
  • 80. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S82THE HUICHOL LIVE high up in theinaccessible Sierra mountains in the stateof Sinaloa, Mexico, where they grow thestaples of maize and beans. They number around20 000, and today have only a small amount ofland, the terrain in the immediate vicinity wasonce all theirs and they were predominantlyhunters rather than agriculturalists. Today,much of that land has become the property ofranchers and peasant farmers. Despite theproximity of mainstream Mexican society, theHuichol’s sacred beliefs and practices haveremained comparatively unchallenged, and thereare only a few traces of Catholicism, such as themention of Jesucristo in their prayers.HUICHOL DEITIESAll aspects of their cosmos are imbued withsupernatural significance. The most importantdeity is Tatawarei (Grandfather Fire), mademanifest long ago by the Animal People(specifically Deer Person and Ant Person), whileTayaupa (Our Father Sun) was subsequentlycreated when a Huichol boy was thrown into thewater to become the sun. He travelled downthrough five levels to the underworld andeventually emerged in the east in a burst ofvolcanic activity. The Huichol feel ambivalentabout Tayaupa: he is potent and can bedangerous. The pilgrimage into the desert toWiricuta, 480 km (300 miles) away, is partly tomake offerings to him but it is also to huntfor peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus, which todayhas close associations with corn: bothconsidered to be aspects of Tateima (OurMothers or Mother Earth).THE PILGRIMAGETO WIRICUTAIn spring, before the start of the ceremonies to bringrain, up to 12 men and women make thepilgrimage led by their mara’akame (or shamanwho is also priest, healerand community leader,and can be either male offemale). The shamanwears deer antlersattached to his hat and becomes Tatewariaccompanied by the mythical Kauyumari (thesacred Deer Person and culture hero). This is atough journey requiring abstinence from salt, sex,washing, full meals and sufficient sleep for itsduration, not just for those who go but for thosewho stay behind too. Peyote is believed to havebeen given to them by the deer and is ‘hunted’ untilit reveals its whereabouts. Once gathered, it istreated with the greatest respect and carefullybrought back.Tatewari, having guided their quest, isequally important on their return: the Huicholcircle the fire to thank him for their successfulquest. Before any ritual, Tatewari prepares them.They ‘confess’ their misdoings to the fire whichcleanses them and Tatewarei is fed a smallThe HuicholThe Huichol believe that their ancestors gave them thetask of looking after not only their community but thewhole cosmos. Every year they perform rituals for theearth led by their shamans. But these can only beperformed after they have made a pilgrimage to thesacred land ofWiricuta, the birth place of the sun.The HuicholThe Huichol live high up in the Sierramountains of Sinaloa, Mexico (see map).M E X I C ONICARAGUAHONDURASEL SALVADORGUATEMALABELIZEU N I T E D S T A T E S O F A M E R I C ARioGrandeR e dBrazosP e c o sB a l s a sMississippiIsla de laJuventadG U L F O F M E X I C OBahia deCampecheGolfo deTehuantapecP A C I F I C O C E A NGulf of HondurasGulfofCaliforniaY u c a t a nC h a n nelCabo FalsoCaboCorrientesYucatanPeninsulaLaguna deTerminosLago deNicáraguaBajaCaliforniaSIERRAMADREORIENTALSIERRAMADREOCCIDENTALPhoenixDallasNew OrleansHoustonSanAntonioMonterreyAtlantaCiudad JuárezHermosilloCuliacán SaltilloJacksonvilleLeónGuadalajaraMexico CityPueblaGuatemalaTampaMéridaAcapulcoMiamiHabanaSan SalvadorTegucigalpaManaguaBelmopanEl PasoChihuahuaDurangoAguascalientesManzanilloTlalneplantaNaucalpanMatamorosTampicoEcatepec CampecheOaxacaCoatzacoalcasBelize CityLa PazVeracruzThe Huicholarea of inhabitation
  • 81. T H E H U I C H O Lportion of all food and drink. Collected also inWiricuta is a yellow root whose sap is used todecorate the faces of the entire community withdesigns showing their respect for Tayaupa.THE CEREMONIAL CYCLEThe main rituals are to Tateima and Nakawe(Grandmother Growth) whom they believe theymust nurture before the rains will come and thecorn ripen, accompanied by music, song, prayersand chants. Amidst many candles and flowersdecorated with ribbons, a cow is sacrificed (inthe past this would have been a deer, but todaythe Huichoi do not hunt much). The blood notonly feeds Tateima but unites everyone andeverything, as each in turn has a little daubed onhis or her forehead and on all their possessions.Rain is believed to come from the sea and so, toensure its continuance, the Huichol also makepilgrimages, not to the nearest ocean (the Pacific)but to the Atlantic. Entire families travel with theirchildren, who are blindfolded as they approach.After keeping vigil on the beach all night, thechildren are ritually presented to the sea at dawn.During the dry season, the Huichols use peyote for many oftheir rituals, thereby increasing their knowledge of theircosmology. Children are introduced to it little bylittle when still quite young. During one whole day,they are taken on ametaphorical journey toWiricuta by the shaman,by means of chantsand songs accompaniedby drumming. Wheninitiated, they stay up allnight to dance and singwith everyone else andexperience the fullsensory complexity oftheir cosmos. It is notunusual for Huichols notto sleep for three to fournights in a row; a femaleshaman, sitting in hersacred chair in the tuki (sacred house), has been knownto chant for up to 36 hours non-stop. However, onlythe shaman reveals to others what he or she has learntfrom peyote.PEYOTE83
  • 82. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S84THE TZELTAL, who live in the highlandsof Chiapas, Mexico are just one of manyMaya groups with rather similar oraltraditions. An egalitarian people, they grow cornand beans for their own consumption, on the landsurrounding their scattered homesteads. Eachhouse has an altar, consisting of a simple crossplaced on the dirt floor, an incense burner andcandles, framed by pine boughs. In each parish,crosses mark natural features which areconsidered to be sacred, such as springs orlimestone shafts, generically known as metik- ortatik-anjel. At these, prayers are offered daily,addressed to ch’ultatik (the sun), ch’ulme’tik (themoon) and to kaxeltik (the earth). The sun isresponsible for giving men their vital heat (k’ahk),while the moon, the mother of the sun, isconcerned with the welfare and fertility of women.She is also responsible for rain and associated withwater holes and lakes (metik-anjel). But it iskaxeltik (also feminine) who is the protector andsustainer and to whom prayers are said for bothplanting and the harvest: she is the greatest threatto people, bringing both life and death.THE FESTIVALSThe Tzeltal, in common with many otherhighland indigenous peoples in both Mexico,Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru, had imposed onthem, by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century,what are known as cargo systems or civil-religious hierarchies. Today, cargo holders –eight couples for each saint – continue toorganize the main festivals for a year, whichcentre on the church in the small town in eachcommunity. Each of the 11 or so festivals ismarked by a period of communal living, verydifferent from their normal isolation. Specialfoods are prepared to be consumed by all, aftertheir saint’s clothing has been ritually changedand washed on one day, and their saint hasbeen taken out in procession around the townon the next. During these five days, there isconstant activity, either in the cargo holdershouses or in the church, where music is playedand toasts drunk to the saints and to each other.THE SAINT-GODSIn Tenejapa, the images of the indigenous saintsin the church are different from those veneratedby the Roman Catholic mestizos. Therech’ultatik (the sun of the parish) becomesKahkanantik (or burning protector), theprincipal male deity, but known to the mestizosas San Alonso (Saint Alphonsus). He is thepatron saint of the community for both Catholicsand indigenes. The moon becomes halame’tik (asynonym for ch’ulme’tik – Dear Mother) but isknown as Santa Maria (the Virgin Mary) to theThe Highland Maya TodayThe indigenous peoples of Mexico and Guatemala although apparently Roman Catholics, havetheir own cosmologies. Some of their rituals occur in the church, where they venerate their saints,but in their everyday lives, the sun and the moon are more important.M E X I C ONICARAGUAHONDURASEL SALVADORGUATEMALABELIZEU N I T E D S T A T E S O F A M E R I C ARioGrandeR e dBrazosP e c o sB a l s a sMississippiIsla de laJuventadG U L F O F M E X I C OBahia deCampecheGolfo deTehuantapecP A C I F I C O C E A NGulf of HondurasGulfofCaliforniaY u c a t a nC h a n nelCabo FalsoCaboCorrientesYucatanPeninsulaLaguna deTerminosLago deNicáraguaBajaCaliforniaSIERRAMADREOCCIDENTALSIERRAMADREORIENTALPhoenixDallasNew OrleansHoustonSanAntonioMonterreyAtlantaCiudad JuárezHermosilloCuliacán SaltilloJacksonvilleLeónGuadalajaraMexico CityPueblaGuatemalaTampaMéridaAcapulcoMiamiHabanaSan SalvadorTegucigalpaManaguaBelmopanEl PasoChihuahuaDurangoAguascalientesManzanilloTlalneplantaNaucalpanMatamorosTampicoEcatepec CampecheOaxacaCoatzacoalcasBelize CityLa PazVeracruzThe Tzeltalarea of inhabitationThe TzeltalThe Tzeltal live in the highlands ofChiapas, Mexico near the border ofGuatemala (see map).
  • 83. T H E H I G H L A N D M A Y A T O D A Y85mestizos. Other figures include Tatik Mamal(Old Father), the brother of Kahkanantik, whileSanta Luca, or San Ciako (Santiago or SaintJames) have names closer to Catholic usage.Rather than calling these images saints, they canbest be referred to as saint-gods, as theyincorporate a measure of Catholicism which isunderpinned by the Mayan pre-Colombianbeliefs and practices of the countryside. Therange of saint-gods varies from community tocommunity, and as each community sees itself asthe ‘true people’ distinct and better than itsneighbours, there is only occasional contactbetween them during pilgrimages.Today an increasing number of people arebeing attracted to various faiths, such asJehovah’s Witnesses, the Adventists and theBaptists, in part to avoid the financialresponsibility of caring for the saint-gods. But itis not yet clear that these new affiliations will lastand whether the Maya peoples will revert to thebeliefs and practices they had before.Nominally Roman Catholic, thechurch is shared by themestizos and the indigenes,although the mestizos’Catholic services neveroverlap with the indigenoususe of the church. On a Sundayduring a festival, for example,the space of the church will beused all morning by theindigenes who come to prayand hold ceremonies for theirsaint-gods accompanied bymusic and ritual drinking.Thenafter midday, mestizo womendescend with brooms to sweepit out, clean it up and replacethe pews, readying it for theirCatholic service taken by thelocal priest later in the day.THE CHURCH
  • 84. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S86IN AFRICANS: The History of a Continent(1995, p. 1), John Iliffe writes: ‘The centralthemes of African history are the peopling ofthe continent, the achievement of humancoexistence with nature, the building of enduringsocieties, and their defence against aggressionfrom more favoured regions. As a Malawianproverb says, “It is people who make the world;the bush has wounds and scars.” ... Until the latertwentieth century … Africa was anunderpopulated continent. Its societies werespecialised to maximise numbers and coloniseland. Agricultural systems were mobile, adaptingto the environment rather than transforming it,concerned to avert extinction by crop-failure.Ideologies focused on fertility and the defence ofcivilization against nature.’THE CELEBRATION OF LIFEAfrican traditional religion is thus centrallyconcerned with the establishment and buildingup of human society, with human flourishingand the celebration of life. But it is alsointensely aware of the fragility of life.Existence and wellbeing are constantlythreatened. Much of African religious practiceis devoted to coping with the eruption of eviland its persistence in the world.African approaches to religion may becharacterized as the glorification of everyday life,imagined and enacted through ritual. Religion isnot enshrined in books, in scriptures or writtenliturgies, but in customs and ritual performance,in folk tales and proverbs, creation myths, prayerand invocation, music and dance. The spirit worldis mediated through sacred sites and persons:priests and diviners, kings and elders, musicalperformers and official ‘remembrancers’. Theyfunction as guardians and transmitters of thatcorporate sense of community; they define asociety’s place in the natural world and its relationto the spiritual world.A F R I C A N T R A D I T I O N A L R E L I G I O NReligion in AfricaAfrica has a rich cultural and spiritual heritage, expressed in complex andhistorically diverse religious traditions.Amidst the tremendous diversitythere are a number of common features: above all, a concern for communityand the expression of common humanity (the word used in many Bantulanguages is Ubuntu). Community involves not only the living, but alsothose not yet born and those who have died: the ‘living dead’, in the famousphrase of the Kenyan theologian and thinker, John Mbiti. Religion is anorientation of the present community towards the spirit world.The spiritworld lies parallel and beyond the world of sense perceptions.EFIKEWONDOFANGBEMBApre-800ninth-thirteenth centuriesfourteenth-fifteenth centuriessixteenth-nineteenth centurieslanguage groupsAfrican Kingdomsdate of kingdomsKONGOLUNDAGREAT ZIMBABWE MUTAPAMALIGHANAASANTEKANEMMEROËAXUMMADAGASCARNigerKITARARWANDABURUNDIBUNYOROPEMBAS A H A R AM e d i t e r r a n e a n S e aA t l a n t i c O c e a nI n d i a nO c e a nRedSeaA t l a s M t sLUBA500 – 350 CESAKALAVAMONGOLUGANDACHOKWELINGALANYANJAMAKUAKUNGUMBUNDUNAMATONGAZULUXHOSASOTHOTSWANASUKUMAMASAIKIKUYUSWAHILIKONGOSANGO ZANDEYORUBAIGBOEWEMOSSIMENDEHAUSAKANURITUAREGFULASONGHAIFULABAMBARAWOLOFAKANARABICARABICBEJAAMHARICSOMALIOROMONUERDINKASARALUBASHONAMERINAKALAHARIDESERTTUBUMozambiqueChannelARABICAfrican KingdomsThe installation of manyAfrican rulers wasaccompanied by a series of rituals, whichgave them special religious powers, and thespirit world was mediated through them.Themap shows the areas of sacred kingdoms upuntil the end of the nineteenth century.
  • 85. R E L I G I O N I N A F R I C A87RELIGIOUS DIVERSITYReligion in Africa is bound up with the wholestructure of society and its communal self-understanding. Yet it would be wrong to regardreligion in Africa as fragmented andethnocentric – the term ‘tribal religions’, sooften used in the Western discourse, isunfortunate. Africa does indeed contain a widediversity of particular ethnic groups. But therehas always been an immense amount ofinteraction between peoples. The fact thatdifferent language groups live in closeproximity means that many Africans are multi-lingual, speaking a variety of vernacularlanguages, as well as a lingua franca such asSwahili or Hausa, in addition to proficiency ina world language such as Arabic, French orEnglish. In religion there is an equal diffusionof concepts, forms and practices over wideareas. For example, the name for God (ordivinity) may have wide currency over largeareas. Spirit-possession or witch-eradicationcults transcend ethnic boundaries. Nor is suchinteraction confined to ethnically similarpeople. There is much interaction, for example,between Bantu speakers and Luo in easternAfrica; between Khoi and San (the pastoralistsand hunters of southern Africa) and theirXhosa and Tswana neighbours. Africantraditional religions do not operate in timelessnon-historical contexts. There is much evidenceof the interchange and development of practiceand ideas over time. ‘Traditional’ does notmean that African religions exist primarily asbackward looking, quaint survivals. They areresponsive to new situations, not least to theforces of modernity and globalization.CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAMIn different ways, bothChristianity and Islam have beenthe means by which modernityhas penetrated Africa. Yet boththese religions have a longhistory on the African continent,and have a long ‘pre-modern’encounter with Africa in the formof Coptic and EthiopianChristianity and North AfricanIslam. Both religions haveincorporated dimensions oftraditional African religion intotheir own systems. Even whenthey denounce many aspects ofAfrican religion as ‘pagan’, theystill cannot avoid expressing thespiritual aspirations of African religion.Nevertheless Islam and Christianity are seen asdifferent in kind from the African spiritualsensibility – in East Africa, Islam andChristianity are called dini (from the Arabicword). Dini implies a religious body which canbe distinguished from and stand over againstother institutions in a society, which a personjoins. African traditional religions do notfunction in this way. Rather, they areconstituted by the totality of being and practicein a community. Islam and Christianity maystrive for a total transformation of a society,but they recognize a disjunction betweenpresent ideal and reality.
  • 86. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S88CREATION STORY (MORU, SUDAN)When God created the world, Heaven andearth were close together, connected by aleather ladder. People were constantly movingto and fro. They loved to attend the dances andfeasts of heaven, and returned to earthrejuvenated. One day a girl was grinding somesorghum (sorghum is a grain used for food andto make beer). She delayed and was late for thedance. In her haste she started to climb theladder without washing her hands. The trail ofsorghum on the ladder attracted the hyena. Hebegan licking the ladder. That set him tognawing at the leather, until the ladder broke.So the communication between earth andHeaven has been broken. People cannot berejuvenated and death has come into the world.ORIGIN OF DEATH (ZULU)The chameleon was entrusted with a messageto take to earth – immortality for humankind.But he loitered on the way and was beaten toearth by the lizard. The lizard also had amessage – death for humankind. Thus deathcame into the world.GODS AND ANCESTORSThe African cosmos is populated by spirits whooccupy a realm which is outside normal reality,but which impinges at many points on humansociety. There are nature spirits who typicallyinhabit the uncultivated places and wildernesswhich stand over against the abode of people.Such spirits are by their nature fickle and bestavoided; their potential for harm to humansociety is great. The ancestors are more directlyinvolved in the life of the community; they arealso more benign, though they can be offended.In many African societies the dead are buriednear the homestead, and the ancestors of thefamily have a tangible presence. In somesocieties, there is a class of ancestors who assumewider significance, as heroic figures, who achievedivinity, and whose cults spread far and wide.The Dogon of Mali have a complexcosmology, symbolically mirrored in thearchitecture of village and homestead and of thehuman body itself.THEYORUBA PANTHEONThe Yoruba of Nigeria have developed a richurban culture of historical depth. Each citystate has an orisha or divinity, with its ownAfrican Cosmologies, Godsand AncestorsAfrican societies are concerned with the enhancement of life: the healthof human beings and of livestock, the fertility of the land and the prosperityof the whole community.Ancestors (the ‘living dead’), nature spirits andgods are guardians of the community.These beings are refractions ofspirit, the High God, the dynamic principle of life.African cosmologiesattempt to explain the loss of immediacy between the two worlds andto account for the fragility and disharmony of existence.
  • 87. A F R I C A N C O S M O L O G I E S , G O D S A N D A N C E S T O R Spriesthood and cult and method of divination.Above all the orisha is Olorun, the Lord andowner of the Sky. Olorun is also know asOlodumare, the Creator, the ‘owner of thespirit of life’ and the one in charge of thedestiny of human beings. Olorun apportionedoversight of the world to the orisha divinities.The orisha are representations of the divine,and mediate between God and human society.They include Esu, a trickster god, of a typefamiliar in other parts of Africa (for exampleamong the Bushmen of the Kalahari). Ogun isthe god of iron and war. Sango, the deifiedfourth king of the ancient Yoruba kingdom ofOyo, is a particularly popular orisha muchdepicted in sculpture. In life regarded as atyrant who committed suicide, in his heavenlyguise he is the god of thunder. Sango is notedfor his capricious behaviour in both giving anddestroying life. He is the object of a major cultof possession.AN AFRICAN MONOTHEISM?One of the most vigorous debates amongstudents of African religion andanthropologists has been the role andimportance of a ‘high god’, a ‘great spirit’.Christian missionaries often attempted todiscover such a concept, so that they could usehis name for the God they proclaimed. At thesame time they tended to disparage the Africanconception of deity as deus otiosus, a god whohad departed from direct concern with theworld and humanity. Anthropologists havesometimes been sceptical of the antiquity ofmost concepts of high gods, seeing this as analien discourse in which outsiders haveimposed their views. There was a growth ofwhat has been called ‘ethical monotheism’ inmany societies in the nineteenth century,relating to the enlargement of scale resultingfrom Africa’s incorporation into a globaleconomy, requiring attention to a divinity whois above and beyond the particular concerns ofthe local community. This accounts for someof the attraction of Islam and Christianity, butit also helps to explain the rise of universalisttraits within African religions themselves.THE CASE OF BUGANDALike neighbouring societies Buganda (south ofwhat is now Uganda) in the nineteenth centuryhad a strong awareness of ancestral spirits(mizimu) and the nature spirits (misambwa)who inhabited the swamps, forest andwilderness. However, as a strong,centralized state, with a monarch(the Kabaka), Buganda also had aseries of national gods: thebalubaale (singular lubaale).These were of two kinds. The‘gods of the mainland’ weremainly personifications ofnatural forces: Ggulu (the sky),Walumbe (death), Kiwanuka(thunder) and Kawumpuli (theplague). The ‘gods of the lake’were heroic figures originatingfrom the Ssese islands ofLake Victoria (LakeNalubaale). Mukasa wasthe god of the lake – hissymbol was a paddle –and he was regardedas overwhelminglybeneficent, particularlyto pregnant women andnever demanded humansacrifice. In contrast, hisbrother Kibuuka wasthe god of war,associated with thelong struggle betweenBuganda and itsneighbour Bunyoro. On the lakeside, shrines(masabo) dedicated to Mukasa, with theirdistinctive paddle insignia, are still common.The name of one lubaale, Katonda (‘Creator’),has been adopted by Muslims and Christians todescribe the supreme God.In many parts of Africa, kings wereaccorded a divine status. This was not so inBuganda, at least during the lifetime of theKabaka, whose power was seen as distinct fromthat of the balubaale. On the king’s death, thejawbone was separated from the body andburied separately. Both burial sites became thefocus of a cult, distinct from the balubaalethemselves. In Buganda, there was a deepambiguity about the spirit world, sometimesexpressed in proverbs of surprisingly modernscepticism: ‘You are wasting your time begginghealth from a jawbone: if it could give health,why did its owner die?’ Islam and Christianitydealt a severe blow to the public expression oftraditional religion. But its ethos andspirituality survived in the covert constructionof shrines, consultation of diviners and areverence for the Kabaka as a symbol ofnational identity.89
  • 88. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S90RITES OF PASSAGE are importantstages for the affirmation of life. Theyare liminal experiences when peoplestand on the threshold of the spirit world, timesof celebration but also of danger.Fertility and procreation are celebrated, butthey are surrounded by danger. The birth oftwins illustrates the combination of vitality anddanger. In some parts of Africa, twins areregarded as an anomaly: by mischance the spiritcounterpart of the child has also been born, anoffence to the spirits and a danger for all. Inparts of East Africa, by contrast, twins areregarded as a special blessing, a sign of the superabundance of the spirit world. Special twinnames are given not only to the children, but tothose who are born after them, and to theparents themselves. Such names are held ingreat honour.Naming is of great importance and often hasstrong religious connotations. Children are giventhe names of divinities. If the birth has beendifficult, or occurs after a history of troublewithin the family, the name might have asomewhat derogatory implication, in the hopethat the vengeful spirit may overlook therejoicing and not inflict further punishment.INITIATIONThe most important communal rites are oftenat adolescence when boys are initiated throughcircumcision. They are sent away from normalhuman society and for a time live beyond itsrules. In the circumcision camp, on theboundary between civilization and wilderness,humanity and the spirits, initiates learnimportant new skills appropriate to the adultworld, gender and sexual roles, the history andethics of the group as transmitted from onegeneration to the next. Not all African societiesperform circumcision. The Zulu are said tohave abandoned circumcision during the timeof Shaka, when it would have compromised thefighting effectiveness of the impi. Female‘circumcision’ is less common than malecircumcision. But where it does occur it ismeant to have the same socializing role.Missionaries strongly condemned femalecircumcision in the 1920s and were in turnattacked for wanting to destroy Africanculture. More recently human rights andwomen’s groups have renewed the oppositionto the practice, insisting that it is, in effect,female genital mutilation.MASKS AND MASQUERADESThe great communal celebrations of rites ofpassage or harvest festivals, as well as initiationinto healing or status cults, are oftenThe Celebration of Life and Cultsof AfflictionAfrican traditional religion is concerned with the enhancement of life. Itcelebrates community, health and prosperity, fertility and procreation.Africansare also acutely aware that these values are fragile. Harmony with the spiritworld is necessary for human flourishing; but, if mishandled, the spirit worldcan also exercise malign power in ways which diminish and negate life.
  • 89. accompanied by pageants and masquerades,dramatic performances, song and dance inwhich the relationship between the spirit worldand human society are enacted and re-enacted. Indonning a mask the performer loses his ownindividuality and entirely becomes the entrypoint for communication with the realm of spirit.SICKNESS AND MISFORTUNEAfrica has always been a harsh place in whichto live, environmentally and politically. Infantmortality has always been high; more recently,the AIDS pandemic has affected especially thestrong and economically productive sections ofsociety. Yet, only the death of the very old caneasily be accepted as part of the natural flow ofevents. The death of younger people needsexplanation, as does illness and bad luck,particularly if they are recurrent. There may beproximate explanations – a specific symptomor event – but what is the enduring,determining cause? The problem may belocated in a failure to respect ancestors or otherspirits, or the accidental or deliberate failure tocomply with certain norms. It may be caused byjealousy on the part of kinsfolk or neighbours,or be due to the malice of witchcraft.A number of religious professionals can beconsulted. There are healers who are skilled inherbal medicines. Diviners use a variety ofparaphernalia – bones, cowry shells, animalsacrifice – to discover the reasons. Mediums arepossessed by spirits and act as their mouthpiecein diagnosing the problem and offeringsolutions. Witches and sorcerers also have accessto spiritual powers. They do not admit freely tosuch deeply anti-social activity. The covertnessof their activity is itself the cause of alarm andanxiety. The problem is that spiritual powers canbe used for both good and evil.SPIRIT POSSESSIONThe search for relief and therapy is oftenembodied in ‘cults of affliction’. In Bantu-speaking areas these often go under the generalname of Ngoma (‘drum’: referring to the musicand dance which may be part and parcel ofmembership of the group). Such groups have apublic existence and (unlike witchcraftactivities) have respect from society. Butinitiates enter into a secret world, which mayinvolve learning an arcane language and thesymbolic performance of acts normally taboo.Women are often the majority. They may begintheir involvement by consulting a diviner forsome particular problem during pregnancy andbe gradually drawn into membership. Bybecoming adept at healing or divination,women have opportunities to gain a statusotherwise denied them.T H E C E L E B R A T I O N O F L I F E A N D C U L T S O F A F F L I C T I O NModern African novelists have tackled many themesassociated with traditional religions sensitively andpowerfully. The Mourned One (1975) by StanlakeSamkange, a Shona from Zimbabwe, is concerned with theplight of a woman who gives birth to twins. The Kenyanwriter, Ngugi wa Thiong’o in The River Between (1965),explores the dilemmas of a young Kikuyu girl torn betweenthe desire to undergo the rite of initiation into fullwomanhood, and the opposition of her parents, Christianconverts. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) is theclassic account of the onslaught of western colonialismon African cultural and religious values.AFRICAN NOVELISTS
  • 90. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N SAN EARLIER AFRICAN opposition tocolonial rule is associated with theyoung Xhosa girl Nongqawuse. TheXhosa had suffered intense pressure on land andresources emanating from Afrikaner and Britishfarmers for half a century. Nongqawuse had avision in which the ancestors promised to risefrom the dead and, with the help of the Russians(who had just fought the British in the Crimea),to drive out the British and renew the land. Torealise this the Xhosa should refrain fromplanting crops and kill all their cattle. Theprophecies deeply divided the Xhosa people, butthe overall result was famine, death, the exodusof young men to work as landless labourers onEuropean farms, and a further erosion of Xhosaculture. Nongqawuse’s message, with itsadoption of Christian elements (such asresurrection of the dead) into a Xhosa culturalframework, shows the cultural adaptability ofAfrican religious sensibilities, even though in thiscase to negative effect.African Religion, Politics and theChallenge of ModernityBecauseAfrican traditional religion was so closely integrated into society, it has oftenbeen regarded as lacking the critical distance from the centres of power effectively tochallenge authority: it served rather to sacralize political and cultural institutions. Forexample, a territorial cult like that of Mbona in the Shire and Zambesi valleys of Malawiand Mozambique may have begun in opposition to local power, but it soon became co-optedinto those structures.Yet there are a few examples of religious opposition to the status quo.The Reaction Against EuropeanImperialismGrowing dissatisfaction with colonialrule resulted in revolt throughoutAfrica from the late nineteenthcentury onwards.KhartoumRedSeaZanzibarM e d i t e r r a n e a n S e aSénégalNigerCongoNil eMahdist state, 1881–98Khartoum falls to Mahdi, 1885Somali resistance toBritish and Italians underSayyid Muhammed,the Mad Mullah, 1891–1920Bunyororesistance toBritish rule,1890–8 Nandi resistanceto British rule,1895–1905Tutsi and Huturesistance to Britishand Germans, 1911–17Maji–Majirevolt, 1905–6Hehe revolt,1891–8Arab resistance toBritish, 1887–97Chilembwesrebellion,1915anti–Frenchrevolt in Madagascar,1896–1905risings,1895–9resistanceto Frenchunder Rabih,1897–1900Mande resistance to Frenchunder Samory, 1884–98anti-Portugueserisings, 1913anti-Portugueserisings, 1913Herero and Khoirevolts against Germancolonial rule, 1904–8Jellaz incident, 1911,followed by martiallaw until 1921anti-Frenchrising, 1915–16Sanusi waragainst Italy,1912–31Dinshaway,incident, 1906Nationalist risingunder ArabiPasha, 1881–2Ashanti rebellions,1874, 1896, 1900Temne revolt,1898–1900Mahmadou Lamine, 1881–7;Ahmadou, 1881–93Anyangrevolt, 1904Fon resistance, 1889–94Itsekiri war,1893–4Ijebu war, 1892Sokoto caliphate,1890s–1903Arab resistanceunder Tippu Tibto Congo FreeState, 1891–4Zulu war, 1879;Zulu revolt inNatal, 1906Ndebele andMashona revolts,1896Abushiri revolt,1888–9rising againstBritish, 1896Abyssinia defeatsItaly at Adowa, 1896FRENCH WEST AFRICAGOLDCOASTTUNISIALIBYA EGYPTANGLO-EGYPTIANSUDANBRITISHSOMALILANDITALIANSOMALILANDUGANDABRITISHEAST AFRICABELGIANCONGOTANGANYIKA(GERMANEAST AFRICA)RHODESIAANGOLAGERMANSOUTH-WESTAFRICACAMEROONNIGERIADAHOMEYALGERIASOUTHAFRICAMOZAMBIQUEPERSIAABYSSINIAMADAGASCARFRENCHEQUATORIALAFRICArebellion against foreign or colonial powerThe Reaction Against European Imperialismin Africa in the late Nineteenth and EarlyTwentieth Century
  • 91. 93Such responses of distress have been repeatedat critical periods in Africa’s confrontation withexternal forces. The Maji Maji revolt againstGerman rule in East Africa between 1905 and1907 dispensed a sacred water to make peopleimmune from the guns of the aggressor. In theaftermath of military defeat in Northern Ugandaafter 1986, Alice Lakwena, possessed by ‘theholy spirit’ and other spirits of the Acholi people,waged a spiritual battle. She promised immunityfrom bullets, and looked the spirits to restorepurity and dignity to the polluted land.PRIVATIZATION OF RELIGIONOne of the startling changes of modern Africanlife is the increasing privatization of aspects ofthe traditional African religious vocabularyand repertoire. Islam and Christianity havebecome major players in public life at a wholevariety of levels – the institution of a traditionalruler, the rites of passage: particularly of birthand death. Traditional rituals are becomingsecularized, divorced from the religiousconcepts which formerly gave them coherence.A religious element is often sought from thelocal priest, pastor or imam.In the search for health, however, Africantraditional understandings continue to flourish,not least in urban settings. Politicians, businessmen and women, civil servants and teachers,not to mention the army of workers and jobseekers, all have reason to consult traditionaldiviners and healers both as a remedy forsickness (in situations where public healthprovision declines) and for success in work orlove. Students look for success in exams.Such consultation may be conducted insecret and with a certain amount of shame. Itmay also involve the use of anti-social forms ofthe manipulation of the spirit world. Beliefs inwitchcraft have a long history in Africa. Thereluctance of colonialists and missionaries torecognize the reality of witchcraft and theirwillingness to punish those who madeaccusations as much as the actual witchesoffended African distinctions. It has notreduced the fears of witchcraft. The insecuritiesof modern life have if anything led to increasedmanipulation of objects for a harmfulpurposes. In the 1990s the disintegration ofstates such as Liberia and Sierra Leone wasaccompanied by an increased fear of theharmful effects of witchcraft in political powerstruggles and as a resource for undisciplinedboy soldiers.ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITYIn North Africa the process of incorporatingAfrican religious values into Islam has gone far.Sufi brotherhoods have historically been at theforefront of this movement. In Morocco theGnawa cult emphasizes healing rituals, withmusic playing an important role. Its origins aretraced to the black slaves who came to Moroccofrom sub-Saharan Africa, and the sensibilities ofa spirit-possession cult of affliction seem evident.Christianity has always been more waryabout bringing these two worlds together, thoughAfrican Instituted Churches, such as Aladurachurches in Nigeria and Zionists in SouthernAfrica, have often emphazised healing andprayer. Modern Pentecostalism, however, is loudin its denunciation of the traditional spirits, all ofwhom are demonized. Yet they do address theissues of healing on a similar conceptual footingto traditional understandings, and this may beone reason for the rapid expansion of this type ofChristianity in late twentieth-century Africa.NEO-TRADITIONAL MOVEMENTSThere have been attempts to reinvent Africanreligion as a ‘religion’ like Christianity or Islam.In Gabon, Bwiti freely incorporates Christianelements. Outside Africa, Candomblé inBrazil mixes local Catholicism andYoruba orisha.These movements are interesting,but they are not the major way in whichAfrican traditional religion survives. Formost Africans this is more likely to bethrough the articulation of an authenticAfrican spirituality within Islam andChristianity and in the wider social,political and ecological concerns ofAfrican life.A F R I C A N R E L I G I O N , P O L I T I C S A N D T H E C H A L L E N G E O F M O D E R N I T Y
  • 92. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N STHE NAME ‘Shinto’ combines theChinese characters for kami and way,(implying the way to/from and of thekami). It was originally chosen by governmentin the seventh century to distinguish‘traditional’ worship from Buddhism. Shinto,however, is clearly not simply an indigenousnative cult but reflects much of the ancientshamanic traditions common to its Asianneighbours. Historians can also pinpoint howBuddhist, Taoist, Confucian and, morerecently, Christian philosophy and customshave been adopted because of the attractionsand challenges of Chinese, Korean andWestern civilization. At times Shinto has alsobeen used by the Japanese State to unify thenation under the Emperor, as a nationalreligion, against foreign enemies.This background of political and academicdebate however has usually been alien to mostJapanese people, who have always spokensimply of ‘the kami’, (never ‘Shinto’) andmoreover practise a mixture of Buddhism andShinto, without any sense of contradiction.Furthermore, few Japanese would refer to eitherBuddhism or Shinto as ‘religion’, or shukyou,which is usually equated with pushy evangelismand quibbling over dogma.THE KAMIJapan’s earliest histories, the Kojiki andNihonshoki, were compiled on the orders ofthe imperial family in AD 712 and AD 720respectively, for the purpose of justifying theroyal lineage, and describe many of the mostLeft:The Spread of YamatoInfluence in the Eighth Century ADIn the eighth century AD Shinto becamea political entity whenYamato writersascribed divine origins to the imperialfamily, and so claimed legitimacy forrule. Shinto thus became an essentialweapon forYamato expansion.The mapshows the directions of this expansion.Asuka-Itabuki imperial residenceIkarugaJAPANRUSSIAN FED.early Yamato palace (AD 600-650)major burial groundsmound cemeteryarea of state formationexpansion of stateKYUSHUSHIKOKUHOKKAIDOSadoMatsuokaOkiUmanoyamaSekitamaDendenchofuNorth KyushuIzumoYamatoKibiSaitobaruTojinL.BiwaSakiOyamato-YanagimotoMozoFuruichiUmamiR.ShinanoThe Spread of Yamato Influencein the Eighth Century AD94S H I N T OThe History of ShintoShinto – the traditional belief system of Japan – has no fundamental creeds or written teachings, and is notparticularly evangelical. However it resonates with a veneration for Japanese tradition and the invisiblepresence of innumerable spiritual powers, or kami.Thus the spiritual insights attributed to Japan’s ancientinhabitants are regarded as just as valid now as throughout all the vicissitudes of history. Shinto isessentially a body of ritual to relate with kami in a way that is respectful, warm, open, positive and vibrant.Local festivals (matsuri) have become so much part of social life and enshrine so much traditionalJapanese morality and social behaviour that participation seems natural common-sense, goodneighbourliness and part of being Japanese. Shinto has thus become a vehicle for many themes, and neednot operate merely on the basis of conscious ‘belief’.
  • 93. T H E H I S T O R Y O F S H I N T O95important kami. Although there was anobvious political aim to unite all the regionaland clan deities under the authority of theimperial, Yamato, clan-deity Amaterasu O-mikami, the kami of the sun, these legendsprovide an explanation for most Shintorituals and the starting point for any official,Shinto ‘theology’.Some basic concepts that emerge are:• Kami are not necessarily the same as ‘gods’.They can die, and decompose like mortals.Some are human. There is no easy dividebetween what is animate and inanimate,cultural and natural, human and divine.Rather, all creation is the expression ofspiritual powers. All things are boundtogether in a kind of spiritual family, and itis natural therefore to try and relate withthe world emotionally, as well as materiallyand scientifically. Spiritual power is notspread equally, but can be recognized asespecially powerful in particularphenomena and these are the kami.• The kami are invisible and countless. Shintofocuses upon those that reveal theirimportance to people. Particular kami areidentified with the kitchen, safety on theroads, education etc. Others are identifiedwith places, especially forests, mountains orwaterfalls, that seem especially numinous,or natural phenomena that are especiallyawesome, such as winds and thunder.Individuals too, who seem possessed of aspecial charisma or just very successful,might be called kami. Other, less important,spiritual forces are recognized, such asmischievous elements like fox-spirits,kitsune, or tree spirits, tengu. These may becalled on to communicate with us throughmediums, to explain their behaviour. Onspecial occasions, the kami may also possessa medium to send an important message.• Individuals should venerate and entertainthe kami most important to them, not onlybecause their good will is required but alsobecause they appreciate that individual’sconcern. They are not all-knowing, andwant to be informed about significantevents. They love most to see individualsenjoying themselves in a happy community.• There is no teaching about the originalcreation of the universe, or about any futureend or final judgement. Likewise, there is noclear description of any after-life. After aperson dies, they simply merge with theirancestral kami and have no individual soulsuch as is taught in Christianity or Buddhism.Primary identity thus reflects membership ina community and social roles.• Purity is essential to a right relationship withthe kami and the avoidance of failure ordisease. Many rituals feature the exorcism ofsins in order to be restored to original purity.Cleanliness, sincerity (makoto) andpoliteness in particular signify freedom frombad external influences, and reliability. Thekami are especially repelled by blood and bydeath. Traditionally, women were bannedfrom shrine events during menstruation; thosewho worked with dead bodies, such astanners, were not tolerated and soldiersrequired special purification after battle.
  • 94. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S96IT IS IMPORTANT that the shrines blendinto the environment chosen by the kami.Traditionally built from wood and generallyleft untreated, they need regular repair orrebuilding, and the work of the local communityis thus bound to the life of the local shrine. This isstill the tradition of Japan’s most celebratedshrine, the Grand Shrine of Ise, dedicated toAmaterasu and reconstructed in ancient styleevery generation. Worship is done primarily inthe open air, and the key buildings enshrine thetokens that are the focus of veneration.THE KAMIThe kami do not ‘live’ in the shrines, and must besummoned politely. The approach to each shrineis marked by one or several great gateways, ortorii, and there will be a basin to rinse hands andmouth. A shrine is usually dedicated to oneparticular kami, but may host any number ofsmaller shrines, representing other kami thatlocal people should also venerate. Sacred points,such as entrances or particular trees and rocks,will be marked off by ropes of elaboratelyplaited straw, or streamers of plain paper.Shinto Shrines (jinja)Shinto shrines and ritual very carefully mark entry into a special world. Even in a bustling city,shrines express a different atmosphere. Surrounded by evergreen trees, and approached on anoisy gravel path, they still everyday conversation.There is a special silence, broken only by ritualhand-claps, or the sound of crows and seasonal insects. Shinto ritual, including music (gakaku)and dance (kagura), is characterized by a special slow, measured pace, appropriate to thetimeless kami and quite different from daily life outside. On special occasions (matsuri) amass of local people will be crowded together in noisy festivity, letting themselves go in frontof the kami in ways they would never dream of doing outside the shrine.
  • 95. S H I N T O S H R I N E S ( J I N J A )97The kami are usually summoned by pulling abell-rope outside the shrine, making a small(money) offering followed by two hand-claps, ashort silent prayer, and two bows, but variationis tolerated and this procedure is longer at themost important shrines. The primary audience isalways the kami. Matsuri, for example, seemgreat fun but always begin with an invitation bypriests facing away from the people, towards thekami, and inviting them to attend, and end withpriestly farewells on their departure.Traditionally, the professional priesthoodwas limited to the great shrines, and local peopletook it in turns to be the priest. But recently theprofessional priesthood has grown to about20,000, including 2,000 women priests. Allexcept the smallest shrines will be theresponsibility of a team of priests (guji) ofvarious ranks, assisted by a team of local(unmarried) girls (miko) who performceremonial dances (kagura) and other services.Most new priests are now university graduates,usually from Shinto universities, and are oftenfrom priestly families. There is no equivalent toa Pope or leader of Shinto, and each shrine isindependent. But most shrines are linkedtogether through the national shrineorganization (jinja honcho) which providesinformation and administrative services, andhelps represent Shinto overseas.
  • 96. I N D I G E N O U S R E L I G I O N S98MOST TRADITIONAL FAMILYhomes feature a kamidana or shelfon which amulets and tokens of thekami are displayed. Particular rooms associatedwith pollution or danger, such as the toilet andkitchen, may also feature amulets.THE ROLE OFTHE EMPERORThe failure of Japan’s brutal adventure intomainland Asia from 1894 to 1945, in the nameof the emperor, has complicated his place inShinto. The emperor has been promoted asShinto’s high priest, Japan’s primary link withthe most important kami – notably AmaterasuO-mikami – since the very foundation of theJapanese state by the Yamato clan around theearly sixth century. Between 1868 and 1945, thistradition was interpretated to make him head ofstate, and State Shinto was promulgated as thechief arm of government, but the emperor wasnot given any clear mandate to rule.Since 1945, the Japanese constitution forbidsany formal link between members of governmentand religious activism. The Shinto ceremonywhen the crown prince formally becomes anShinto TodayThere are four major seasonal events: NewYear, Rice-Planting (spring), O-Bon (a visit by theancestors in mid-July orAugust) and HarvestThanskgiving (autumn). In addition there will be thefestival days of the local kami.There will also be special events to mark rites of passage, such aspresenting a new-born baby to be recognized and protected by the kami,followed by further presentations during childhood (boys aged five, girls agedthree and seven), then a coming-of-age ceremony when 20.Within the last 100years, marriage has also begun to be celebrated at the local shrine. Funeralsare left to Buddhist priests, since shrines must avoid pollution.Shinto TodayIzumo-no-Oyashirorebuilt in 18th century;shrine to goddess of marriageS e a o fJ a p a nUllung-doOki-shotoTsushimaP a c i f i cO c e a nShikokuKyushuMt FujiHonshuHokkaidoAma-no-lwato-JinjaShrine to AmaterasuOmikami, sun goddessKirishima-yamaAso-sanAbashiriAsahikawaSapporoTomakomaiFukuokaNagasakiHiroshimaKobeOsakaNaraKyotoShizuokaYokohamaTokyoMatsuyamaJAPANKumano-Jinja,14th centuryMt MiwaKoya-san (Shingon)Omime-yama (Shugendo)Kasuga Shrine8th centuryIse Shrine 3rd century shrineto Amaterasu, sun goddessFushimi-Inari9th century shrineti Inari, god of riceHiei-zan(Buddhist)Mt Fuji (Shinto shrine)Meiji-jingu20th centuryshrine toEmperor MeijiYasukuni-jinjashrine towar deadMinobu-san(Nichiren)Ontake-san(Shinto)Tate-yama(Shinto)Tosho-gu17th centuryOsore-yama (Shinto)Iwaki-sanHaguro-sansacred mountainsShinto shrinesShinto TodayEven in today’s heavily industrializedJapan, Shinto continues to play a partin society. Shinto customs are stillpractised, including visiting shrines,marriage ceremonies, taking part inshrine festivals and praying to Shintogods for success.
  • 97. S H I N T O T O D A Y99emperor in theory makes his body the host of akami, but in Japanese law the Emperor is nowmerely the symbol of the Japanese nation and nota religious figure. He still has a busy schedule ofrituals to perform, such as offering the first fruitsafter harvest to (other) kami.The myth that all Japanese are ‘children ofthe kami’, especially Amaterasu O-mikami,through the emperor, has made it easy togenerate a proud nation unified on the basis of acommon ethnic origin. It fails, however, torespect the rights of those whose roots do not liein the Yamato tradition, such as the Ainu orOkinawans, or immigrants, and claim the rightto be different.NEW SHINTO SECTSSince around the middle of the nineteenthcentury, as Japan faced up to all sorts of crisesdue to foreign imperialism and internal change,a variety of local Shinto cults appeared.Typically, they introduced new, hithertounknown kami, who could help the people andmeet the new challenges. Often they assumedan international character, unlike traditionalShinto, and sought to compete withChristianity as evangelical, saviour religions.Insofar as they played down the significance ofthe emperor, they were suppressed until 1945.Since then, some such as Tenri-kyo, SekaiKyusei Kyo and Mahikari have enjoyedspectacular success for example in SoutheastAsia or South America, where similar spirit-based cults are indigenous.
  • 98. GAUTAMA SIDDHARTHA, the historicalBuddha, was born in the year 566 BC, theson of the king of the Sakya people inpresent-day Nepal. At his birth it was prophesiedthat he would either become a world ruler or a greatsage. His father wanted the former, so he arrangedfor his son to be brought up without seeing thetroubles of the world. Gautama grew up to be ahandsome youth, who excelled in all kinds ofactivities.Helivedahappyandcontentedlifewithinthe walls of the palace, and married a princess,Yasodhara, who bore him a son, Rahula.ENLIGHTENMENTOne day, Gautama persuaded his groom to takehim outside the city walls. There he encounteredfour things which changed his life. First he saw anold man, then a sick man, and a corpse. Gautamawas shocked, and asked for an explanation. Thegroom told him that these conditions werenormal, and happened to everyone. Gautamathen met a wandering holy man, who had givenup everything to practise the religious life and seekthe answer to suffering. He radiated a sense ofserenity which Gautama knew he had to find.Soon afterwards, Gautama shaved his head,and slipped out of the palace. He wandered farand wide, begging for his food, and subjectinghimself to all kinds of austerities. Eventually,almost dying with hunger, he decided suchpractices would not achieve his goal. Heresolved to practise a middle way betweenWorld ReligionsB U D D H I S MThe BuddhaThe Buddha was born, lived and died a human being. He is not a god.Thespecial thing about him was that he realized the state of sublime wisdomand compassion called Nirvana. He discovered the causes of all suffering,and the way by which all beings could reach the same state.A S I AA F R I C AA U S T R A L I AN O R T HA M E R I C AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanBuddhism85% +70–84%40–69%20–39%10–19%1–9%Less than 1%World total – 360 millionSpread of BuddhismConcentration of Buddhists in Asia,by percentage of populationHong KongSingapore100BuddhismBuddha was born in the year 566 BC inNepal.At his birth it was prophesiedthat he would either become a greatruler or a great sage.Today, 360million Buddhists account for almostsix percent of the world’s populationacross 92 countries.The map showsthe distribution of Buddhiststhroughout the world.
  • 99. 101austerity and luxury. He took a little food, andsat beneath a tree at a place called Bodh Gaya inpresent-day Bihar, vowing not to move until hehad achieved his goal.At the age of 35, on the night of the fullmoon in May, he realized Nirvana, (awakening,enlightenment) entering into deep meditationand becoming the Buddha, the Enlightened One.The Buddha would never explain Nirvana,saying that it is essentially beyond words andthoughts, and so Buddhists also refrain fromspeculating about it.HIS MESSAGEAt first, the new Buddha was reluctant toinstruct others, feeling that they would notunderstand. However, the god Brahmaappeared to him, and begged him to teach ‘forthe sake of those with but little dust in theireyes’. He agreed, and delivered his first sermonon the Four Noble Truths in the Deer Park nearVaranasi, India. In his lifetime, the Buddhataught all who wanted to listen, men andwomen, rich and poor. We are also told thathe taught animals and spiritual beings ofvarious kinds.His message was always the same: ‘suffering,the causes of suffering and the way out ofsuffering’. He did not talk about God or the soul,or encourage speculation in matters that could notbe proved. Rather, he specifically told people tobelieve and practise only those things which werehelpful and led to freedom and peace of mind. Itwas a combination of profound wisdom and deepcompassion, and a practical way which could befollowed by those who wished. This teaching hecalled the Dharma. Many of his disciples chose tofollow the Buddha into the homeless life, and thuswas born the Sangha, or community.Eventually, the Buddha’s life came to an end,and he passed away aged 80 at Kusinara, India.His followers were grief-stricken, but theBuddha’s final words to them were, ‘Allconditioned things are impermanent. Strive on!’The Four Noble Truths are the heart of the Buddha’steaching.They are:• The fact of suffering;• The cause of suffering;• The fact that there is a way out of suffering;• The way itself.The Buddha observed that all beings suffered.The causeof this suffering is selfish desire, and a misunderstandingof the nature of ‘self’, which is not the fixed, separate andenduring entity that it appears to be.What we call ‘self’ isactually a collection of skandhas (heaps or particles)which are constantly changing.These are form, feelings,perception, mind-contents and consciousness. Therelationship of these constitutes our ‘self’ at any moment,and creates karma (action and reaction) which influencesour birth, life and rebirth. One of the skandhas is form, sorebirth is always in some form, which need not be human.Having discovered for himself that there is a way out ofsuffering, the Buddha proceeded to outline it.This is the finalTruth,The Noble Eightfold Path of the way out of suffering:• Right view (understanding, attitude);• Right aim (intention, resolve, motive or thought);• Right speech (not lying, slandering or gossiping);• Right action (or conduct);• Right livelihood (means of living);• Right effort;• Right mindfulness (awareness of things as they are);• Right concentration (contemplation, meditation).The Buddha summed up this path as: ‘Cease to do evil;learn to do good, and purify your heart.’THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHSTHE HISTORICAL BUDDHA*566 BC Buddha born550 BC MarriesYasodhara535 BC Son Rahula born536 BC Leaves home528 BC Achieves Nirvana and preaches first sermon526 BC Founds Sanghac. 523 BC Order of nuns foundedc. 522 BC King Bimbisara donates bamboo grove at Magadha483 BC Achieved Parinirvana (dies)* The dates are traditional, but not universally recognized.
  • 100. 102THE FIRST MONKS were considered tobe arahats, beings enlightened by theBuddha’s teaching. There was no formalordination ceremony. The Buddha taught themthe Dharma, and invited them to leave home andfamily. They in turn ordained others. TheBuddha had charged his followers to ‘travel forthe welfare and happiness of people, and out ofcompassion for the world’, and this they did.Some 200 years after the Buddha’s death themovement had spread throughout India. Theydepended on lay people for food and othernecessities, and the relationship grew wherebythe monks were fed inreturn for teaching.Much of Buddhism’searly success was due tothe patronage of higherclass members of societysuch as King Bimbisaraof Magadha and manyof his court. The kinggave the Buddha abamboo grove wherethe monks could stay. Itwas considered anaction of high merit togive to monks, so theywere well supported intheir work of spreadingthe Dharma. However,the Buddha’s teachingalso embraced thelowest classes, as herejected the caste systemand taught that all couldattain enlightenment.ORGANIZATIONSoon after the Buddha’sdeath (in approximately483 BC), the First GreatCouncil of 500 seniormonks was held. These monks were allarahats who had known the Buddha. They metto recite the teaching as they remembered it,and to agree a definitive version. However,there were some who did not agree that theCouncil had preserved the pure teaching of theBuddha.The teaching was preserved in oral tradition,and it was not until many years later that it waswritten down. It was grouped into three pitakasor baskets. Vinaya consisted of the rules formonks (bhikkhus) and nuns (bhikkhunis).These not only provide guidelines for theEarly BuddhismFollowing the death of the Buddha in 483 BC, the concept of theSangha, or community, of monks grew ever more important.TheBuddha had ordained monks in his lifetime, calling them to followthe homeless life and practise the Dharma, and their numbercontinued to grow after his passing.MervKarachiBombayMadrasCalcuttaBenaresSanchiSarnathLumbiniKusinagaraLhasaPaganProme PeguYangonSukhothaiWan-fu-xiuDunhuangO-mei ShanBeijingKyongjuNaraKyotoPutuoShanTian-taiShanJiu huaShanWu-tai ShanAngkorBorobudurBodh GayaAjantaAnuradhapuraKandyKarliGandhara TaxilaArabian SeaIndusOxusIrtyshJaxartesHim a l a yasBay of BengalSri LankaBrahmaputraIrrawaddyPacificOceanFormosaSouthChinaSeaPhilippineIslandsB o r n e o CelebesMalayPeninsulaSuma t r aMekongYellowRiverRed RiverGangesAral SeaLakeBalkhashAFGHANISTANINDIATIBETCHINACHINESE TURKESTANANNAMTHAILANDBURMABENGALNEPALKOREAThe Spread of Buddhism by AD 500spread of Buddhismfirst area of Buddhistmissionary activityarea of rise of MahayanaBuddhismBuddhist sitesThe Spread of Buddhism by AD 500Despite humble beginnings themessage of Buddhism soon spread.This map shows the diffusion ofBuddhism throughout the near and fareast by AD 500.
  • 101. E A R L Y B U D D H I S M103monastic life, but allow for settling of disputesand imposing discipline. Sutta is the collectionof the Buddha’s sermons, while abhidamma(higher Dharma) consists largely ofphilosophical analysis of the Buddha’steachings. It was the differing interpretations inthis section which caused most of the disputesbetween the various emerging schools.THETWOTRADITIONSA second Great Council took place around383 BC. By this time, several schools had comeinto existence. Part of the controversy wasover whether Buddhists should only try to gaintheir own enlightenment (arahats) or whetherthey should seek the freedom from suffering ofall beings (bodhisattvas). In fact, ascompassion is an essential aspect of Buddhistpractice, this is largely a question of semantics.Today, there are two main traditions, theTheravada or Teaching of the Elders, and theMahayana or Greater Vehicle, which containsa number of different traditions such as Zen,Vajrayana and Pure Land.While the various schools differed in manyways, they were united by the Dharma, and bythe vinaya, the rules of monastic life, eventhough interpretations differed.As time went by, Buddhism tended to lose itsdistinctive character due to the influence ofvarious Hindu teachings, and so virtuallydisappeared from India as a separate religion.The original meaning of Sangha is thecommunity of monks. Today, differenttraditions place different emphases onwhat constitutes Sangha. In theTheravadaand some Mahayana traditions, the Sanghais limited to those who have ‘embraced thehomeless life’ – even though they may livein monasteries. The Buddha himself laiddown rules for the monastic Sangha. At theFirst Council, 227 rules were recited, andthese became the basis for the Sangha.Monks (and nuns) are celibate and keepother vinaya rules, such as the timesthey may eat.In other Mahayana traditions, such as Zenand Pure Land, the term Sangha is used for all‘Disciples of the Buddha’ whether lay ormonastic. In these traditions, priests can bemarried and the temple may be a family affair.Nuns have extra rules to follow, includingbeing subservient to monks. Originally, theBuddha was reluctant to ordain nuns, andonly did so after much persuasion.This wasmainly because of the attitude to womenprevailing in his time. In some schools theorder of nuns died out, and today efforts arebeing made to restore it from traditionswhere it survived.THE SANGHA
  • 102. 104PALI IS AN Indian language which issimilar to the one which the Buddha spoke.It is one of the two languages of the earliestBuddhist writings, the other being Sanskrit. It ispossible that Pali was the language in which theoral tradition was preserved, and it was certainlythe one in which the first written scriptures wereproduced, in Sri Lanka in the first century BC.The written scriptures adhere faithfully to thepattern of oral tradition established by the greatBuddhist Councils, namely, vinaya, sutta andabhidamma. They show the Buddha as a humanbeing – albeit a unique one – who realizedNirvana through his own efforts, and they give histeaching of the way to attain a happy, peacefuland contented life. The Pali Canon mentions fewmiraculous events, but emphasizes the life andteaching of the Buddha as the great miracle.THE WAY OFTHE ELDERSThe essence of the Theravadin way is based onthe monastic life. This is the way to attainNirvana, and, for most lay people, the goal is tobe reborn in a life where they can become amonk or nun. Many laymen become monks fora few months, either in their teens or after theirfamilies have been cared for.Theravada BuddhismTheravada – theWay of the Elders – is the oldest form of Buddhism, being largely unchanged fromthe third century BC. It is found throughout SoutheastAsia. Its teachings come from the PaliScriptures, interpreted in a conservative manner which gives prime importance to the Sangha ofordained monks and the liberation of the individual.Theravada BuddhismThe map shows the main areas ofTheravada Buddhism in SoutheastAsia today.M A L A Y S I AI N D I ASRILANKANEPALPHILIPPINESBHUTANBANGLADESHTHAILANDVIETNAMCAMBODIALAOSBRUNEITAIWANSINGAPORESUMATRAJAVABORNEO CELEBESMYANAMARMekongG a n g aIrrawaddySalweenIN D O N E SIAB a y o fB e n g a lS o u t hC h i n aS e aI n d i a nO c e a nMain areas of Theravada BuddhismTheravada BuddhismMt. EverestHI MA L A Y A SDelhiBangkokHo Chi Minh CityManilaPhnomPenhPontianakTaipeiColomboCalcuttaBombayMadrasHyderabadRangoonHanoiHong KongDa NangHueMoulmein
  • 103. 105The Sangha is supported by lay people, andmonks are not allowed to work or handlemoney. Their main activities are meditation,study and teaching the Dharma. Their onlypossessions are their robes, and a few articles fordaily use such as a toothbrush and begging bowl.The Theravadin Sangha claims unbrokensuccession from the Buddha, as each ordinationhas to be conducted by a number of fullyordained monks.TEACHINGS AND PRACTICEThe teachings of the Theravada are the basicones of Buddhism. They are the Signs of Being,(dukkha, that life is essentially unsatisfactory,annica, that all things are impermanent orconstantly changing, and anatta, that we do nothave a permanent unchanging self); the FourNoble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Thepractise of morality is very important, based onthe Precepts or rule of life. The five basicprecepts are:• Not to kill or harm living beings;• Not to take what is not freely given;• Not to indulge in sexual impropriety;• Not to use slanderous or lying speech;• Not to become intoxicated by usingsubstances which cloud the mind.Monks and nuns follow these and a lot more.People become Buddhists by announcing,usually before a monk, that they, ‘Take refuge inthe Buddha, Dharma and Sangha’, and byagreeing to follow these five precepts.Theravadin Buddhist practice has little in theway of ceremony, though devotees will attend atemple for a puja, or recitation of portions of thePali scriptures. Important times in a person’s lifewill also be marked by chanting.An important practice is meditation, which isthe way the Buddha achieved his goal. There aremany kinds of meditation, and the basic formspractised in Theravada Buddhism are also foundin other traditions.Meditation is one step on theEightfold Path, and one practicethrough which Buddhists aimto become free of suffering. Fourmain types are practised withinTheravada Buddhism.• Samatha or concentration is thepeaceful calming of the mindthrough concentration. It is usuallypractised by watching the breath,and being aware of it without tryingto change anything.• Mindfulness consists of being awareof the activities of body and mind inwhatever we might be doing, andwatching the mind’s reaction.• Metta or loving kindness is thepractise of suffusing all beings withthoughts of wellbeing and lovingkindness. ‘May all beings be well andhappy’ is the traditional phrase. ‘Allbeings’ include those we love, thosewe like and those we dislike, beingsother than human, and ourselves.• Vipassana or insight meditationenables us to be aware of the ever-changing nature of the self, and itsrelationship with the world aroundus. In it, there is direct observationof the physical and mentalcomponents that make up what wecall our ‘self’.It is preferable to learn meditation froma teacher, and in theTheravada this isusually – though not always –a member of the Sangha.MEDITATION
  • 104. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S106IN MAHAYANA BUDDHISM, Buddha isnot limited to the historical Gautama. Thereare other Buddhas recognized who are nothistorical figures, but who represent differentaspects of his enlightenment. Two of the principleones are Amitabha (the Buddha of Infinite Light)and Bhaisajya (The Medicine Buddha), but thereare many more. Their lives and teachings wererevealed by Shakyamuni Buddha, and arerecorded in the Mahayana scriptures to helpdisciples understand various practices.There are also bodhisattvas such as theChinese Guan Yin or the Tibetan Tara,who represent the personification ofactive compassion, and Manjusri, themanifestation of wisdom. Bodhisattvasare often spiritualized beings who weredisiples of the historical Buddha, but whodelayed their own enlightenment, choosing toremain on earth, until all beings are freed fromsuffering. Their power can help practitionerswho know the correct way of invoking it.Mahayana BuddhismMahayana is the form of Buddhism found inTibet, China, Mongolia,Vietnam, Korea and Japan. It recognizes theTheravadin scriptures,and adds many more, some of which were composed after the historicalBuddha’s lifetime. Some were based on remembered teaching, othersare mythological, and some are said to have been recorded and hiddenuntil the time was ripe to reveal them.Zen (Chan)Tibeand ZeMahayana BuddhismDharmashalaMacaoChengduLeshanHong KongShanghaiDanyangNankingChanganBeijingKyotoNaraJAPANM O N G O L I AC H I N AI N D I ABHUTANBANGLADESHB U R M AT H A I L A N DV I E T N A ML A O SN O R T HK O R E AS O U T HK O R E AN E P A LP A K I S T A NT A I W A NMahayana BuddhismTemplesCave TemplesMain Tibetan Lama seatsBuddhist CentresCitiesSacred Buddhist andTaoist Mountains,with Buddhist ShrinesCountries followingMahayana BuddhismKailasEmei ShanJiuhua ShanPutuo ShanWu-tai ShanMt HieiJizu ShanHeng ShanTai ShanDragons in the Cloud HillHugiuFeilong ShanQionglong ShanYujangLu ShanTaiping ShanRuoye ShanShanLuofou ShanLingjiu ShanTashilhunpo MonasterySakya Monastery TashilhunpoLhasa Potala PalaceJokhang TempleLuoshan TempleTemple of Six Banyan TreesTemple of 10,000 BuddhasLight of Buddha MountainHsuan-TsangLions Head MountainGao TempleMogaoDunhuangLuomenMaijishanBingling SiTaiyuanYungangLongmenLoyangWhite Horse TempleUlan Batur Bogd KhanMahayana BuddhismThere are many traditions withinMahayana Buddhism. Chan and PureLand Buddhism are two schoolspopular in China.Tibetan Buddhismis distinctive in that it took on manycharacteristics of Tibet’s indigenousBon religion after it first arrived inthe country in the seventh century AD.
  • 105. M A H A Y A N A B U D D H I S M107BUDDHA NATUREAnother important aspect of Buddha in theMahayana is Buddha Nature, which is latent inall, and which the various practices reveal. In theearlier Buddhism, enlightenment was somethingthat could only be achieved by the few, aftermany lifetimes, and then only by those who wereordained. The Mahayana emphasizes thatBuddhahood is not limited, but is the RealNature of living beings, with them from the verybeginning, and only needing to be revealed.The essence of Buddha Nature is emptiness,in that it is still not a ‘self’, but is something thatis beyond the ability of words to describe. It issometimes referred to as ‘the Unborn’ or ‘Mind’(capitalized) and said to be the perfect balance ofwisdom and compassion. It is hidden by thedefilements or hindrances of greed, anger andignorance, and the various practices of theMahayana are taught because they have beenfound to remove these hindrances, and allow theBuddha Nature to shine forth.PRACTICESMahayana practices includeall the forms of meditationpreviously mentioned, aswell as the practise ofmorality. However, it alsoincludes a number of otherpractices not found inthe Theravada.One of these is theBodhisattva Vow, throughwhich practitioners dedicatetheir practice to the release of all beings fromsuffering, and vow to master all the teachingsand practices of the Buddha Way. Further, theyvow not to attain their own enlightenment untilall beings are freed from suffering. ForMahayana practitioners, it is the removal ofsuffering from the world that is more importantthan personal release.In general, Mahayana Buddhism is moreritualistic, although the ritual is seen as beinga form of conscious yoga in which there isvisualization of spiritual beings andan acceptance of the power of theirhelp. This power is a living realityfor Mahayana Buddhists, and canhelp relieve suffering in this worldand the next. For example, withinthe Pure Land tradition, Amitabhavowed to help ordinary beingsto attain enlightenment, even ifthey have not mastered theirown defilements.Tibetan Buddhism, with its mysteriouspractices and colourful art, is becomingbetter known in theWest, partly due to theinfluence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.The Tibetan tradition is subdivided into anumber of different schools which containthe whole range of Buddhist practices.The principle teaching is the Lam Rim orgraduatedpath,thefirstpartofwhichconsistsof taking refuge in theTriple Jewel (Buddha,Dharma and Sangha), the practice of ethicalbehaviour and basic meditation. The secondstage empowers meditations which help toovercome the limitations of greed, anger andignorance, and an understanding of theinterdependenceofallexistingthings.Thefinalstage is the Bodhisattva Path, in which thepractitioner seeks full enlightenment for thebenefit of all beings, through thedevelopmentofGreatCompassionandPerfect Wisdom. The Vajrayana orDiamond Way is the highest practice,whichaimsatachievingBuddhahoodinthis lifetime.The Tibetan tradition encouragesthe use of grand ceremonies, music, dancing,chanting, and colourful paintings of variousdeities, the production of which is itself aspiritual practice. Many of its foremost lamasor teachers are rimpoches, or rebirths offamous lamas of the past, the discovery ofwhom is rigorously tested.Tibetan Buddhism also has a tradition ofsilent meditation without symbols calledDzogchen, which is in many ways close toJapanese Zen.TIBETAN BUDDHISM
  • 106. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S108IT IS SAID that Zen started one day whenthe Buddha silently twirled a flower insteadof speaking. None of his disciplesunderstood, except Mahakasyapa, who smiled.The Buddha then explained that the essentialtruth of his teaching is beyond words, and thathe had given it to Mahakasyapa.The tradition passed down through anumber of Indian patriarchs to Bodhidharma,who brought it to China in the early sixthcentury AD. He was summoned by the emperor,who asked what merit building temples andtranslating scriptures had gained him. ‘No meritat all’, answered Bodhidharma, who then retiredto a cave to meditate for nine years. Huike, thefirst Chinese patriarch, came to Bodhidharmaseeking peace of mind. ‘Bring me your mind andI will pacify it’, said Bodhidharma. ‘I cannot findmy mind’, Huike answered. ‘There! I havepacified it’, exclaimed Bodhidharma.From such beginnings, Zen extendedthroughout China in ways that were oftensimilarly unintelligible to the reasoning mind,and spread to Japan, Korea and Vietnam.JAPANWhen Zen reached Japan, it became at the sametime more organized and more iconoclastic.Phrases such as ‘If you meet the Buddha, killhim’ sought to drive Zen practitioners beyondthe confines of organized religion. Three majorstreams emerged, as well as many charismaticfigures who were outstanding in their own right.• Soto Zen was founded by Dogen (1200–53).It emphasized zazen or sitting meditation,through which the sitter’s Buddha Nature isrevealed. Enlightenment is seen as a gradualprocess, revealed in the process of sitting.• Rinzai Zen was founded by Eisai(1141–1215). It emphasizes meditation onkoans, riddles that have no logical answer.This creates a ‘great ball of doubt’, theshattering of which brings about suddensatori or enlightenment.• Obaku Zen, the smallest of the schools, wasfounded in China, and maintained Chinesetraditions in its chanting, ceremonies andother practices, retaining aspects such as thePure Land teaching.In addition to meditation, all traditions includein their training work such as cooking orsweeping, and religious ceremonies withbowing and chanting.ZEN ORIGINALSOne of the greatest Zen originals was Bankei(1622–93). Although he trained in orthodoxZen, he taught that all beings had what he called‘the Unborn Buddha Mind’, and the only thingnecessary was to remember this at all times.Formal meditation and religious practices werenot necessary. Though he left no officialsuccessors, many were said to have becomeenlightened just through hearing him speak.Towards the end of the seventeenthcentury, Rinzai Zen became stagnated anddeclined. Hakuin Zenji (1686–1768) reformedthe monastic orders, systematizing koanZen BuddhismZen is the Japanese form of the Chinese Chan, which is the phonetic pronunciation of the Sanskritdhyana or meditation.The practice of meditation – sitting or moving – is the basis forZen activity of all kinds, whether in the temple, tea-room, the home or the martial arts practice hall.
  • 107. Z E N B U D D H I S M109practice, and insisting on the value of zazen.He also had many lay disciples who he taughtaccording to their needs. He left manyenlightened successors.Ryokan (1758–1831) is one of the best-loved poets in Japan. A Soto monk and hermit,he lived alone practising meditation, writingpoems and playing with the local children.His simplicity and childlike nature impressedall who knew him, and is clearly obvious inhis poetry.Zen had an impact on all aspects ofJapanese life. Millions of people who neverpractised religious Zen were influenced byit through arts such as calligraphy,painting, tea ceremony, flower arrangingand music.One of the most typically Zen arts iscalligraphy, which varies from formalcharacters to a free style that is hardlyreadable by ordinary Japanese. It was valuedso much that it often replaced the Buddhaimage in temple and family shrines. Most ofthe celebrated Zen roshis – a word literallymeaning ‘old boy’ but signifying master –were famous for their calligraphy and poetry,being pestered by disciples to ‘writesomething’ for the home, or even formundane uses such as shop signs.This background of meditation was alsotrue of the so-called martial arts. In judo,karate, kendo (sword-fighting) and archery,meditation, both sitting and moving, is a partof the traditional training. The essence ofthese arts is not to hurt the opponent, but toresolve the conflict in the most harmoniousway possible, which often leads to one partybacking down without a blow being struck.In all arts, the Zen way of teaching includesmindfulness, which is a form of meditation.The potter pauses before putting the clay onthe wheel, the musician practises ‘BlowingZen’ as he plays his bamboo flute.The Zeninfluence on the tea ceremony emphasizesbeing in the moment, and caring for theguests. It has evolved it into a religious ritual,a moving meditation of hospitality. And,above all, the Zen ideal of the natural gardeninspires visitors the world over with its peaceand tranquillity.ZEN AND THE ARTSZEN BUDDHISMc.500 BC Founded by the Historical Buddha as the Dhyana (meditation) traditionc. AD 470 Bodhidarma 28th Indian Patriarch bornAD 530 Bodhidharma creates the Chan tradition in ChinaAD 543 Bodhidharma diesAD 638 Hui Neng (6th Chinese Patriarch who established Chan in China) bornAD 713 Hui Neng diesc. AD 786 Lin-Chi (Rinzai) born in ChinaAD 866 Rinzai dies.1141 Eisai (who took the Rinzai tradition to Japan) born1215 Eisai dies1200 Dogen Zenji (founder of the Japanese Soto tradition) born1253 Dogen dies.
  • 108. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S110IT IS SAID that the Buddha taught 84,000different ways to enlightenment. Meditationis the traditional practice to this end, butother forms of Buddhism have evolved to meetthe needs of suffering beings today, and havebecome ever more popular.In the Pali Canon, the Buddha refrained fromcommenting on what happens after death.However, in some Mahayana scriptures, he toldof Buddha-lands created by the enlightenment ofother Buddhas, into which we might be reborn.The basic practice for this is simply chanting thename of the Buddha concerned, such asAmitabha or Guan Yin. This practice becamewidespread in all Far Eastern Buddhistcountries, and it has become one of the mostpopular of all Buddhist traditions.Other forms of Buddhism also usechanting as a practice, principally those basedon the Lotus Sutra, such as the Tendaiand Nichiren schools. The Lotus Sutra isconsidered to be the synthesis of all the Buddha’steaching, and chanting its title is one of the mostsuitable ways to enlightenment in thiscontemporary age.ENGAGED BUDDHISMAnother phenomenon of Buddhism has evolvedin the form of what is called ‘EngagedBuddhism’. Traditionally, Buddhism wasconcerned with the removal of the causes ofsuffering through the individual. Today, someBuddhists are concerned with working to bringabout changes in society, improving the welfareLiving BuddhismIn spite of persecution – most notably in the last 70 years – Buddhism is still one of the world’smajor religions. It has a significant presence in most countries in the East – even wheregovernments have been hostile – and is growing in theWest. Practices vary considerably,as do the forms of Sangha and the style of temples and monastic buildings.
  • 109. L I V I N G B U D D H I S M111of those who suffer. They see their work as theengagement of compassion in the sufferingworld, and use the term ‘Engaged Buddhism’ toexplain their motivation.Because non-violence is one of the Buddhistprecepts, it is consistent for Buddhists to haveconcerns for peace, and to work actively in thisfield. Today, there are many other aspects ofengaged Buddhism, such as a hospice for AIDSsufferers in San Francisco, and a scheme forfeeding homeless people in London. Buddhistmonks in Thailand have ‘ordained trees’ bywrapping them in Buddhist robes to stop illegallogging operations, and something similar hasbeen done in Nepal. Buddhists also activelycampaign for animal welfare and refugee work,particularly with Tibetan refugees. They havealso worked with the ‘untouchables’ in India,and with re-building Cambodia after thegenocide there.FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONSOne major feast, Vesak, is celebrated byBuddhists the world over. It brings togetherBuddhists from Theravadin and the variousMahayana schools. This is the Buddha’sbirthday, which is celebrated on the day of thefull moon in May. Theravadin Buddhists alsocelebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment and deathon the same day. Others celebrate his Nirvana inDecember and his death in February.Special ceremonies are used to celebrate theBuddha’s birthday. In Chinese and Japanesetraditions, a statue of the baby Buddha is bathedwith sweet tea by all present, and there arestreet processions with elaborate floatscommemorating events from the Buddha’s life.Another festival that is celebrated byBuddhists everywhere is that of the New Year,although the date varies from country tocountry. New Year celebrations are often mixedup with local traditions providing lavishfestivities with music and dancing in whicheverybody can join. The Sangha are invited tobring a blessing to the New Year by chanting andmaking offerings to the Buddha. It is also a timewhen individual Buddhists will seek to forgivethose who may have harmed them, and makereparation to those they have injured in any way.Rites of passage also differ from countryto country. They are as important forBuddhists as for any other religion, asthey are seen as emphasizing theBuddha’s teaching of change, andbringing it home to those concerned. It isalso important for people to be able tocelebrate them, and invoke the Buddha’sblessing on the occasion.Births, marriages, naming ceremoniesand funerals are all commemorated inways that follow national customs and legalrequirements.The Buddhist element usuallyconsists of chanting from members of theSangha, probably in the local temple of thosemost concerned. There may also be ritessuch as giving new Buddhist names, theexchanging of tokens and sprinkling of wateras a sign of purity.As in other religions, the religiousceremonies are usually followed with a feastor party, sometimes with music and dancing,and often with special food.RITES OF PASSAGE
  • 110. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S112FOR CHRISTIANS the most importantevent in history has been, and will alwaysbe, the birth, life, death and resurrectionof Jesus.Historically nothing of his life is knownoutside the four gospels contained in the ChristianBible. These, however, are notprimarily historical accounts;rather they give an interpretationof what the life of Jesus meant.Consequently there are someevents and stories that appear intwo or three of the gospels andsome that are distinctive to one.There is, however, a core to Jesus’steaching; the Kingdom of God isnow present, God has sentprophets in the past but nowJesus’s coming opens up thepossibility for all people to enterthat Kingdom. Jesus is thefulfillment of God’s promises tothe people of Israel, that theywould be his people, he would givethem a land (Israel) and he wouldbe their God.At the time of Jesus’s birth(now considered to be between6–4 BC) the Romans ruled overthe land of Israel. They were themajor force in the Mediterraneanworld. The Jews, and Jesus was aJew, were allowed certain‘freedoms’ in order to practisetheir religion but were aware of the presence andpressure of their Roman overlords.THE JEWISH CONTEXTThere were various Jewish groups jostling forposition at the time of Jesus’s teaching life. TheC H R I S T I A N I T YThe Life and Teachingof JesusJesus of Nazareth, c. 6 BC–AD 32, is the most important personin the Christian religion.While his teaching followed thetraditional Jewish style of religious debate it is who he wasthat is central for Christians.They believe Jesus was the Sonof God, that he was born on earth, lived the life of a humanbeing, was crucified, died and then rose from the dead. Hisdying and rising revealed God’s love for the world and offeredall people the possibility of eternal life.Jesus’s PalestineJesus was born in Palestine during thereign of Herod the Great (37–4 BC).Herod was a client king of the Romansand he left his kingdom to his threesons, Herod Antipas (Galilee andPeraea), Philip the Tetrach (northernTransjordan) and Archelaeus (Judaea,Samaria and Idumaea). In AD 6 theRoman government took control ofArchelaus’s territories which werelater ruled by Pontius Pilate.LitaniY a r mu kGALILEEJUDAEASAMARIAPERAEAGAULANITISIDUMAEAJesuss PalestineHerods kingdom in 6 BCarea under Roman ruleareas belonging to Herods sonsHerod Antipasplaces associated with the lifeand teaching of JesusJerichoJerusalemMount of OlivesBethphage BethanyJerusalemSycharGadraNainNABATAEAAURANITISTRACHONITISBATANAEADECAPOLISJordanJerichoBethlehemM E D I T E R R A N E A NS E ADEADSEASea of GalileeMount TaborNazareth CanaCapernaumMagdalaBethsaidaPaneas(Caesarea Philippi)
  • 111. T H E L I F E A N D T E A C H I N G O F J E S U S113Pharisees are shown in the Gospels to be Jesus’senemies because he challenged many of theirideas and attitudes, although they wereconcerned to maintain the essential qualities ofJewish life and religion. Disputation, debate andinterpretation were part and parcel of theirmethod of teaching. The Sadducees, anothergroup, reflected the interests of more traditionalJews. There were other groups, like the Zealotswho were more ‘Messianic’ in flavour. Theywere expecting the arrival of the ‘Anointed One’(Messiah, in Greek ‘Christ’) who would releasethem from Roman domination.JESUS’S LIFEThe Gospels of Matthew and Luke say that Jesuswas born in Bethlehem and grew up with Joseph,his father, and Mary, his mother, in Nazareth, inNorthern Galilee. Joseph is traditionallybelieved to have been a carpenter and wouldprobably have taught the growing Jesussomething of his trade.It is likely that Jesus’s ministry began whenhe was about 30 years old. He probably taughtfor three years after being baptized in the RiverJordan by John the Baptist (his cousin).Christians believe John was the forerunner ofJesus, preparing the way for him. Jesustravelled throughout Israel, teaching andhealing. He gathered manymen and women around him;key amongst them were 12men called disciples. Jesusbecame involved in conflictwith the religious authoritiesin Jerusalem. He wasarrested, tried and nailed to across, crucified and died.Christians believe, and theGospels recount, Jesus rosefrom the dead. He met hisfollowers and ate with them.After a few weeks he wastaken up into heavenpromising to return at theend of the world. Jesus’sfollowers believed he was theMessiah who had brought about the Kingdomof God. This was a dangerous idea to theRomans who thought this might mean achallenge to their power and equallydisturbing to the Jewish authorities.Jesus taught in synagogues. The mainconcern of many Jews, however, was that heappeared to claim to forgive sins and only Godcould do that. Jesus was therefore claiming to bedivine and that was not acceptable to the Jewishreligious authorities.For God so loved the world, thathe gave his only son, thatwhoever believes in him shouldnot perish but have eternal life.John, 3:16Jesus used parables and healings to helppeople understand his teaching. He taughtthat the Kingdom of God (an acceptance ofGod as Ruler and King) had arrived and itwas possible for everyone to enter thatKingdom. What was necessary was to seewhat Jesus did and hear and understandhis teaching. Some of his parables,including The Sower (Mark 4:3–20), The GoodSamaritan (Luke 10:30–37) and The Lost Son(Luke 15:11–32), are very well known andare stories in themselves; others likeThe Lost Coin (Luke 15: 8–10) and The LostSheep (Luke 15:3–7) are short and easilyremembered. Jesus, like all great teachers,took examples from everyday life with whichhis hearers would be familiar. Everyoneknows the joy of finding something that waslost or re-uniting relationships.His healings and miracles taught aboutGod’s power and authority. Jesus could dothese things because he was carrying outGod’s will. He did remarkable things tochallenge those around and to help peoplebe more aware of the will of God and thenearness of God’s Kingdom.For Christians the greatest miracles werehis birth, death and resurrection (rising todefeat death). It was a demonstration of thelove, authority and power of God.THE PARABLES
  • 112. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S114AFTER THE EVENTS of Jesus’s life,death and resurrection had beencompleted, his followers gathered tocelebrate the Jewish festival of Pentecost. In theActs of the Apostles, the coming of the HolySpirit is recorded. The Holy Spirit of Godarrived in the upper room of a house where thedisciples were gathered with the sound of amighty wind (the Hebrew and Greek words for‘spirit’ can mean ‘breath’) and looked as if eachof the disciples had a tongue of flame on hishead. This powerful event gave the disciplespower and courage to go out to preach in manydifferent languages.The disciples became known as ‘apostles’ –from a Greek word meaning ‘sent as messengers’.They went out to preach the good news (theGospel) of the risen Christ.The Early ChurchAt Pentecost the disciples of Jesus received the power of the Holy Spirit.They went out to teach and preach across the known world. St Paul,who as Saul, had not been one of Jesus’s followers, was tireless in hispreaching of the Gospel and travelled throughout the Mediterranean.As time passed and numbers grew, the small groups of Christians beganto organize themselves.They also suffered persecution.ProcolitiaEburacumLondiniumBesigheimTaunumOsterburkenNeuenheimBingenNidaStockstadtColoniaAgrippinaKönigshofenCarnuntumBrigetioAlba IuliaSarmizegetusaNovaeJerusalemChalcedonNicaeaAntiochTrapezusEdessaDamascusBolognaCapuaSidonDura-EuroposPontiaRomeModenaPoetovioSalonaKonjicEpidaurumNefertaraSerdicaConstantinopleOstiaArgentoratumVercoviciumSegontiumIscaEmeritaAugustaVolubilisLesBolardsAugustaTreverorumPonsSaraviSchwarzerdenLambaesisLeptis MagnaCarthageCyreneEphesusAlexandriaBourg-StAndéolDevaTîrgusorDnieperDanubeVolgaSaharaDesertNileTigrisEuphratesB l a c k S e aMediterraneanSeaSicilyCorsicaCreteCyprusSPAINGAULBRITAINMAURETANIAA S I AMI N O RM E S O P O TA M I AAFRICAEGYPTTHRACEI TAL YGREECEarea converted to Christianityby AD 600Pauls first journey AD 46–48Pauls second journey AD 49–52Pauls third journey AD 53–57Pauls fourth journey AD 59–62Pauls possible journey to SpainAD 64?The Journeys of St PaulThe Journeys of St PaulPaul was deeply committed to takingthe message of Jesus Christ to the non-Jewish (Gentile) world.The map showshis missionary journeys, details ofwhich are known from his survivingletters and the Acts of the Apostles.
  • 113. T H E E A R L Y C H U R C H115There are many stories of where they wentand what they said but Peter, who is considered tobe the leading disciple, ended up in Rome, thecentre of the Roman world. It is believed he wascrucified there after he had founded a Church. Hewas the first Bishop of Rome.PAULANDTHE EARLYYEARSThe most significant apostle was not in the upperroom at Pentecost. He is St Paul who, before hisown conversion, when he was known as Saul, hadpersecuted the followers of Jesus. At his conversionon the road to Damascus he had a vision of Jesusthat changed his life. He took the name Paul toshow the change he had experienced and after afew years’ quiet reflection set out to take themessage of Jesus across the Mediterranean world.Paul wrote a number of letters contained inthe Christian Bible. These were written before theGospels and tell us a lot about Paul himself as wellas about the growing groups of Christians. Hewas passionate, strong-willed and strong-mindedand deeply committed to taking the message ofJesus Christ to the non-Jewish (Gentile) world. Heprobably died in Rome at about the same time asPeter, i.e. AD 60–65.ASTIMEWENT BYThe early followers of Jesus believed the end ofthe world would come very soon with everyoneliving under God’s rule. As the apostles died andthe years passed the end did not arrive and eachChristian group began to organize itself. Bishops,elders and deacons took a role in the organizationand administration of the church with the bishopstaking responsibility for the care of people withina larger area. The bishops of Rome, Jerusalem,Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch becamethe most influential.Christians soon changed their day of worshipfrom the Jewish Sabbath to the first day of theweek, Sunday. This marked a move away fromtheir Jewish origins and recognition that Jesus’sresurrection was the most important event. Easterand Pentecost were important festivals butChristmas does not appear to have beencelebrated at all.Persecution of the Christians in the RomanEmpire largely finished when Constantine wasEmperor in AD 312 although there were outbreaksduring the next two centuries. During the fourthcentury Christianity became much moreformalized, church building took place and by AD381 Christianity was the official religion of theRoman Empire. In its turn it was not averse topersecuting others now that it had the support ofthe Empire.AD 48–60 Paul’s missionary journeysAD c. 100 First reference to ChristiansAD c. 110 First accounts of Christian martyrs (e.g. Polycarp)AD 175 First reference to the four GospelsAD 200 Christians symbols in Roman catacombsAD 312 Constantine becomes EmperorAD 313 Christians granted freedom of worshipAD 381 CouncilofConstantinople:ChristianitybecomestheofficialreligionoftheRomanEmpireIt is their habit, on a fixed day,to assemble before daylight andto recite by turns a form ofwords to Christ as God.Pliny theYounger, early secondcenturyThe early Christians were Jews and, although Christianteaching spread rapidly to the non-Jewish world, theycontinued to attend synagogues and follow the traditionalJewish way of life.The followers of Jesus were regarded as anew Jewish sect, rather like the first century BC Jewish groupof Essenes who lived by the Dead Sea. As they developed,however, the Christians were influenced by Greek ideas andsymbols. Some of the early representations of Jesus (200years after his death) show him in the Graeco-Roman styleof a shepherd carrying the lost lamb, or as a sower scatteringseed for future harvest. In the artwork ofthe time Jesus was depicted in much the same way as othergods or kings.Christianity was called ‘The Way’ for several decades afterJesus’sdeathandthereligiondevelopedasasecretsociety.Inthethird and fourth centuries there were influential bishops andthinkers some of whom became saints and martyrs. But in the firstcenturies there were no agreed guidelines and the ‘ChristianChurch’ was a collection of small communities. There were nochurchbuildings.The symbol of the fish became common for early Christians.Fish figure in the Gospels; some of the disciples were fishermenandtheGreekwordfor‘fish’hasfivelettersstandingfortheinitialletters in the Greek phrase ‘Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour’.It was a secret code to help Christians communicate with eachother without the state realizing.JEWISH ROOTS
  • 114. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S116THE NEW TESTAMENT was probablywritten by a variety of authors betweenAD 48–95. Christians believe the OldTestament shows how God had promised thecoming of Jesus, the Messiah, to the Jews forcenturies. Jesus fulfilled those prophecies andwritings so the Gospels and Epistles (letters) relatethe story of a new promise – ‘a new testament’.EPISTLESThe Epistles (the Greek word for ‘letters’) are theearliest known Christian writings. Paul wrotesome of the epistles within 20 years of Jesus’sdeath. He pays little attention to the detail ofJesus’s life concentrating much more on what hislife meant. There are other letters, some attributedto the apostles, written over a period of 50 yearsor so but little is known of most of their authors.GOSPELSThere are four Gospels (the word means ‘goodnews’), Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Theseare the only records of events in the life of Jesusbut he wrote none of them. They all give aslightly different view of the meaning of Jesus’slife and have different accounts of his death andresurrection. They were probably writtenbetween 30 to 70 years after Jesus’s death.The final collection of books in the ChristianBible was finally agreed at a Council in Carthagein AD 397. Even today however, there is nocomplete agreement as the Roman CatholicBible includes a group of Jewish writings calledthe Apocrypha not normally found in otherchurches’ Bibles.USINGTHE BIBLEThe Bible is used in nearly every Christianservice. Some Christians believe it to be literallytrue; others believe it uses symbols, metaphorsand stories to express a truth. All Christiansbelieve that in some way the Bible is inspired byGod and it should be studied. It providesknowledge about God and the meaning ofJesus’s life, who Jesus was and what hetaught, and is the basis and major source of thechurches’ teachings.For some churches, particularly theProtestant and Pentecostal Churches, the Bible isa direct point of reference when seekingguidance from God. There is less emphasis onthe importance of a priest or minister to interpretwhat the Bible says and this ‘direct revelation’has played a powerful part in the developmentof Protestantism.This belief was also a driving force in thetranslation of the Bible from the Latin to thevernacular. Martin Luther’s translation of theBible into German, in the sixteenth century,combined with the development of the printingpress (and subsequent rise in literacy), made theBible more widely available in his nativeGermany. However, it was not until theformation of the Bible societies, such asCanestein Bible Society, from the eighteenthcentury onwards that Bibles became availableon a mass scale. These societies were formedwith the sole purpose of translating anddistributing the Bible worldwide, and have beenresponsible for translating the Bible intohundreds of languages. The most well-known ofthe contemporary Bible societies is probably theGideons, who place Bibles in hotels for the use ofcommercial travellers, across the globe.PERSONAL AND PUBLIC RESPONSESVirtually every Christian reads the Bibleregularly; some study it daily using a guide toencourage reflection. Many will have favouritepassages, often learned by heart, which theywill re-read at special times.The cycle of readings in some churches ensuresthe key aspects of Jesus’s life are linked to the OldTestament and the Epistles. The aim is not only togive encouragement to the congregation but alsoto demonstrate the ‘wholeness’ of the Bible.You shall love the Lord yourGod with all your soul and withall your strength and with allyour mind, and your neighbouras yourself.Luke, 10:27So now, faith, hope and loveabide, these three; but thegreatest of these is love.1 Corinthians, 13:13The Christian BibleThe Christian Bible took nearly 400 years to reach its final form. It consistsof two ‘testaments’ or ‘promises’.The OldTestament is almost entirelymade up of the Jewish scriptures and is written in Hebrew.The NewTestament is written in Greek and tells of the new ‘testament’ made by Godthrough the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • 115. T H E C H R I S T I A N B I B L E117Christians believe the Bible shows how Godcreated the world and has remainedconcerned with the world. They believe theOld Testament can only be fully understoodby accepting that Jesus is the Son of God.The life of Jesus is the fulfillment of what isprophesied in the OldTestament.All the NewTestament writers have their owninterpretations of Jesus’s life. Among theGospel writers, Matthew writes to show howJesus brings in the Kingdom of God, which isopen to all people; Mark tells of the ‘immediacy’of Jesus’s mission; Luke has an interest in thepoor, the outcast and the place of women insociety. John’s Gospel is very different from theother three gospels – it places great emphasison the importance of faith and belief.The Bible is treated with great reverence,read with devotion, studied intently and usedconstantly by Christians as a resource for life.The strength of the Bible for Christians isthat it reveals God’s continuing part in creation:the gradual unfolding of sacred history. Thereare many different writers, writing hundreds ofyears apart, yet Christians see in the Bible acollection of insights, understandings andrevelations about God and God’s purpose for theworld. This ultimate revelation is found in theperson of Jesus and Christians read about Jesusin the Christian Bible in order to understandmore clearly what God’s purpose is for the worldand how Jesus’s life reveals God’s love.THE WORD OF GOD
  • 116. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S118THERE ARE OVER 22,000 Christiangroups and denominations and theyall have different views about theperson of Jesus. Most Christians believe,however, that Jesus was the Messiah (theAnointed, the Christ) and the Son of God. Hedied for all people as the Old Testament hadprophesied; he rose from the dead, also asprophesied. This triumph over death waswitnessed as true by his followers. Jesus’s storyis why Christians often say Jesus is alive nowand lives in each person.CREEDSThe first followers of Jesus could rest theirfaith on what they knew and had seen. Quitesoon, however, as other people came tothe ‘Way’ they would be baptized, as Jesus was,into the faith of the Way. Statements ofbelief or ‘creeds’ arose as people came to joinJesus’s followers and wanted to make adeclaration of belief and be baptised. Indoing so they put away their previous beliefs,were ‘washed clean’ and became Christians.Two of the creeds, the Apostles’ Creed andthe Nicene Creed (325 AD), are probably usedmost frequently today. They developed from theearly creeds used at baptism and were intendedto act as a safeguard against wrong beliefs.THETRINITYThe most mysterious and least understood ofall Christian beliefs is the Trinity. Christiansbelieve there is, and always has been, only oneGod. Christians do, however, refer to God inthree ways: as Father, the Creator; as Son, JesusChrist; and as Holy Spirit, the power of Godwhich people feel and experience in their lives.Thus God is expressed as Father, Son andHoly Spirit.While Christians believe that God is Father,Son and Holy Spirit, the words used to describethis belief never fully capture the experience.Human language falls short when trying toexpress the nature of God. What the Trinityexpresses is the personal nature of God andtherefore the personal relationship that existsbetween God and creation.Central BeliefsChristianity is a religion of salvation. Human beings have become separated from God throughdisobedience. Jesus’s life and death renewed that relationship giving an opportunity to enter intoa special relationship with God. How this salvation occurs leads to the main beliefs ofChristianity: theTrinity, the Incarnation and theAtonement.
  • 117. C E N T R A L B E L I E F S119THE INCARNATIONVirtually every Christian believes that, in somemysterious way, Jesus was fully God and fullyhuman and by becoming fully human, God iswilling to share our pains and difficulties. Jesusknew pain and humiliation, was frightened,cried, and shared human experience. Inbecoming a human beingGod revealed the extent oflove He felt for creation; to beborn and live as a completehuman being was the onlyway to save all people.SALVATION ANDATONEMENTWhat were people to besaved from? Christiansbelieve that sin is whatseparates people from God.It is not simply wrong-doingbut a misuse of the free willgiven to humans by God.The sin of Adam in theGarden of Eden wasdisobedience – a failure todo God’s will. They weregiven responsibilities in thegarden but disobeyed Godby eating from theforbidden tree. The cycle ofsin could only be broken byGod’s son, Jesus, being bornon earth and, through his life, death andresurrection, removing the stain of sin.Jesus, therefore, atones for the sins of theworld and recreates at-one-ment, the bringingtogether of God and human beings. At the heartof Christian belief is Jesus Christ who broughtvictory over evil and death.I believe in one God, the FatherAlmighty….And in one Lord Jesus Christ,the only begotten Son of GodAnd I believe in the Holy Spirit,the Lord, the Giver of Life,The forgiveness of sins….Extract from the ‘Nicene Creed’The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden ofEden has been interpreted in many differentways by Christians. Some continue tobelieve its literal truth, although there issome evidence to suggest that Christianshave never been fully in agreement about itshistoricity. Most Christians regard it as apowerful story illustrating an inherenttendency in humans to fail, to be less thanperfect. What greater failure than to fail tofollow their Creator God’s words andcommands?The story is a metaphor of whatlife could be like if humans accepted God’srule.The disobedience and deceit had to behealed and redeemed in some way, buthumans could not do it alone, they neededGod’s help to heal the separation.Belief in Jesus as God’s Son and Saviourmeans,forChristians,thatallsinsareforgivenand each person can enter into a specialrelationship with God. Christians believe thatby believing in Jesus’s life and teaching theoriginal disobedience of Adam and Eve ishealed.The outward sign of this is baptism,which symbolically ‘washes away sin’.The belief in theTrinity affirms there is oneGod, but Christians use three ways to expressthat oneness – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Itis a statement of the relationship between thepersons of theTrinity, reflecting the personalrelationship between God and creation.For most Christians the mysterious natureof these beliefs is irrelevant. For them theexperienceofforgiveness,ofbeingreconciledto God and feeling the presence of the HolySpirit is more than enough.The doctrines ofthe Church are important but personalexperience is much more significant.PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
  • 118. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S120THERE ARE TWO major practices inwhich most Christians participate.These are: baptism, universally agreedas the way in which one becomes a Christian;and celebrating Holy Communion (the Mass,the Eucharist or whatever name churches give tothe way in which Jesus’s last meal with hisdisciples is commemorated). Generally only theReligious Society of Friends and the SalvationArmy do not commemorate Jesus’s Last Supperwith a re-enactment of the event.BAPTISMMost Christians regard baptism as a means ofre-birth. It washes away their old life and startsa new life following Jesus Christ. Jesus’sbaptism at the hands of John the Baptist in theRiver Jordan acts as a model for Christians.Churches vary in their practice. Baptistsbelieve that only believers can be baptized sothey don’t baptize babies since infants are notold enough to make a personal commitment toChrist. Baptists, like many Protestant churches,baptize by total immersion and in warmercountries this will take place outside in a riveror pool.Other churches, such as the Roman Catholic,Orthodox and Anglican Churches, baptizechildren when they are still babies. The RussianOrthodox Church traditionally baptizes babieswhen they are eight days old, immersing thebabies completely in water. Other churches maysprinkle the baby with blessed water from thefont and anoint them with chrism (oil). In thesechurches the godparents, adults chosen by thebaby’s parents, make promises to help the childgrow up in the Christian faith.HOLY COMMUNIONChurches use a variety of names for theceremony recalling Jesus’s Last Supper with hisdisciples the night before his death. Theyshared bread and wine with Jesus, who askedhis disciples to remember him in the breakingof bread and the drinking of wine. Thechurches also have different beliefs about howto remember the meal. Roman Catholicchurches celebrate Mass daily as do someAnglican churches. Others celebrate lessfrequently, with United Reformed and BaptistChurches perhaps once a month.Orthodox and Roman Catholics believe thatthe bread and wine fully become the body andblood of Jesus when the Thanksgiving prayer isoffered to God. Jesus is physically present soworshippers can share in his sacrifice.Most Protestants do not believe this changetakes place. For them the service is a memorialwhere Jesus is symbolically present.There are other rites of passage: marriageand funeral rites, and, in some churches,confirmation where the promises made atBaptism are confirmed by a bishop laying handson the person being confirmed. All churches findways to express how the Christian faith affectsthe lives of each believer.Rites and PracticesChristians practise their faith through worship and prayer, public and private, and by reading andstudying the Bible.There are, however, two major rites, Baptism and Holy Communion (givendifferent names in different churches), which are almost universal within Christianity.The Gospelsrecord Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist and tell the story of the Last Supper with his disciples.
  • 119. R I T E S A N D P R A C T I C E S121For as often as you eat thisbread and drink the cup, youproclaim the Lord’s death untilhe comes.1 Corinthians, 11:26As the body is buried underwater and rises again so shallthe bodies of the faithful beraised by the power of Christ.From a Baptist baptism serviceI baptize you in the name of theFather, and of the Son, and ofthe Holy Spirit.Universal words at BaptismSome churches are ‘sacramental’. Thesechurches usually accept the authority of abishop, and the Mass of Holy Communionhas a central place in their worship.Certain rites, called sacraments, areperformed to mark special occasions inthe life of the Christian.At confirmation, a candidate kneels beforea bishop who ‘confirms’ the promises madeat baptism by laying hands upon the person’shead. By being confirmed the personconfirms their belief in and commitment tothe Christian faith.Couples who get married in church expresstheir love for each other before God and theChristian congregation. They make theirpromisestoeachotherandareguidedthroughthe service by the priest who sends them outinto their life together with God’s blessing.Some Christians will become priests, thesacrament of taking holy orders. After aperiod of training they will be received, orordained, into the priesthood by a bishop.Others will become monks or nuns followingin the great monastic tradition of peoplesuch as St Benedict, St Francis or St Clare.After a period of training, they will makevows or promises of poverty, chastity andobedience when they enter the Order theyhave chosen.The sacrament of confession orreconciliation is also available in thesechurches.The believer goes to the priest toconfess their wrongdoings in private and inconfidence.The priest absolves the person’ssins in the name of Jesus Christ throughtheir spiritual authority as a priest.The priestsuggests acts of penance that will depend onthe person and the sins, but it normallyincludes prayers of penitence.A priest who anoints the sick person withoil and prays for healing carries out thesacrament of anointing the sick. The lastrites, or extreme unction, are given to peoplewho are near to death.The purpose is to givethem peace as they face God in theknowledge that their sins are forgiven andthey are safe in God’s hands.SACRAMENTS: OUTWARD SIGNS OF INNER BLESSINGS
  • 120. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S122EASTER RATHER than Christmas is themajor Christian festival. It is the timewhen the central belief of Christians – thatJesus died and rose again – is celebrated. EasterDay, the day of resurrection, is always a Sunday inMarch to May; the Friday before, when Christiansremember Jesus’s death, is called ‘Good Friday’.‘Good’ because of the good deed Jesus performed– taking all the sins of the world on himself andenabling people to enter into eternal life.Christians prepare for Easter Day, a time ofdelight and exhilaration, by undertaking aperiod of discipline and self-denial. This seasonof Lent lasts for 40 days. ‘Lent’ comes from anold word for spring because Easter is aspringtime festival in the northern hemisphere.It used to be a time when prospective Christianswere prepared for baptism but now it usuallycommemorates Jesus’s 40 days in thewilderness. Lent is heralded by Ash Wednesdaywhen some Christians have a cross of ash placedon their forehead as a sign of sorrow for theirsins. In some Orthodox churches Lent is calledthe Great Fast and many Christians of alldenominations fast or go without favouritefoods as well as preparing themselves for thecoming events of Easter. Some churches removeor cover images or icons during Lent and do notdecorate the building with flowers; otherchurches do not hold marriages.HOLY WEEKThe week before Easter (Holy Week) re-enactsthe last week of Jesus’s life. Palm Sunday is thefirst day of Holy Week and commemorates theentry of Jesus into Jerusalem when peoplewelcomed him by waving palms. As the weekcontinues the end of the penitential perioddraws near. In Seville, Spain, penitents dress inblack with their faces covered and parade toshow sorrow for their sins. On MaundyThursday, the day before Good Friday, manychurch leaders re-enact the occasion of Jesus’swashing his disciples feet by washing the feet ofordinary people. It is a reminder that at theirlast meal together Jesus commanded hisfollowers to serve others before eating breadand drinking wine.Good Friday is the most solemn day of theChristian year. Some Christians walk throughthe streets carrying a cross and in Jerusalempilgrims carry the cross along the traditionalroute of Jesus’s walk to his crucifixion.Easter Day, by contrast, is a joyous timecelebrating the resurrection of Jesus from thedead. In Orthodox churches ‘new fire’ is broughtout from the altar and carried into the church.Jesus is often referred to as the light of the worldand the darkness of death is banished bynew light.The Easter cycle continues with the festivalof the Ascension where Christians rememberJesus being taken up into heaven watched by hisfollowers; and is completed at Pentecost when,Festival and CelebrationChristian festivals can be grouped under three sections.The most important group surroundsEaster and follows the cycle of the moon so Lent, Easter,Ascension Day and Pentecost fall ondifferent days each year. Christmas follows the solar calendar so the dates connected with thebirth of Jesus occur on the same day each year.The third group is the celebration of the lives ofindividual saints and martyrs; these occur on the same day each year.
  • 121. F E S T I V A L A N D C E L E B R A T I O N123Christians believe, the Holy Spirit settled uponthe apostles giving them power to go out andpreach the Gospel to the world.CHRISTMASThe second cycle of festivals surroundChristmas and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Aswith Easter, there is a period of preparation,Advent (coming), when Christians remembertheir sins and prepare for the ‘gift’ of Jesus’sbirth. Today Christmas in most Christiantraditions is celebrated on 25 December. SomeOrthodox churches celebrate it on 6 or 7January (the difference is caused by changes tothe calendar system). The date of Christmaswas decided upon by the Emperor Constantineduring the third century AD who chose the dateof a Roman sun festival and by doing so hechanged a non-Christian celebration into aChristian one.Epiphany – the ‘showing forth’ of Jesus tothe world – comes 12 days after Christmas. Thefestival marks the arrival of the Magi (wise menor astrologers who had ‘seen’ news of this birthin the stars) from the East. The Christmas cyclefinishes with Candlemas (2 February) whenChristians remember Jesus’s presentation by hisparents in the temple giving thanks to God forthe safe birth of their son.THE SAINTSSaints are individuals believed to havepossessed miraculous powers, and have leadexemplary lives. Not all churches uphold theimportance of saints butthe Roman Catholic Church,Anglican and the OrthodoxChurches continue to recognizethe unique contribution ofsome Christians (St Nicholas on6 December providing giftsfor children).For a saint to be recognized assuch, they must be canonized bythe church. This involves proofthat they performed miracles, andof their virtous life. Beatificationrequires proof of two miracles and preceedscanonization. Proof of further miracles isrequired for Canonization, and until 1983 theprospective saint’s life was put on trial by thechurch, with their reputation questioned by aAdvocatus Diaboli, or Devil’s Advocate. Manyhave a special day on which thanks is given fortheir lives and Mary, the mother of Jesus, has anumber of days devoted to events in her life. Oneof these days, the Annunciation, remembers theobedience and acceptance of Mary receiving thenews from the angel Gabriel that she was to bearthe child Jesus (25 March).Roman Catholics also believe that it ispossible to ask the saints to pray on theirbehalf, a process that is known as intercession.Certain saints are believed to have specialaffiliations with particular trades, or solvingcertain problems, and it is to these PatronSaints that people will turn when making aspecific request.The Christmas story is taken from theGospels of Matthew and Luke. Theversions are very different from each otherwith each writer presenting Jesus as theMessiah but using distinctive symbols andillustrations. They agree, however, thatMary was a virgin and Jesus is God’s son.Matthew reveals Jesus as the King andLord before whom all people, including theMagi (non-Jews) come to pay homage.Theimportance of his birth is told in theheavens, has been prophesied, andheralded across the world. Joseph is thereceiver of dreams in which God tells himwhat to expect and what to do. Thebrutality of Herod is underlined in hiseffort to kill the newborn ‘king’ and thefamily of Jesus has to flee into Egypt forsafety, returning only afterHerod’s death.Luke, on the other hand, placessupreme importance on Mary, themother of Jesus, and on God’sconcern for the world. Mary isobedient, chosen as the womanworthy to be the mother of God.Jesus’s birth is a difficult time forhis parents. He is born where theanimals are kept and it is theshepherds who are given theprivilege of being first to receivethe news. For Luke, Jesus hascome into the world to help thepoor and under-privileged andit is to them that God’s son isfirst revealed.THE CHRISTMAS STORY
  • 122. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S124THE CATHOLIC CHURCH traces itsorigins back to Peter, one of the originaldisciples, who died in approximately 64AD. The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus tellingPeter, his leading disciple, that he would have theKeys of the Kingdom of Heaven – in other words,to life after death. Peter is also referred to as the‘rock’ on which Jesus would build his Church.Peter is believed to have been the first Bishopof Rome, a title held today by the Pope, theleader of 1 billion Catholics. No other Christianleader claims such authority directly from Jesushimself. The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal’and reflects a worldwide church.THE SACRAMENTSThe Catholic Church, along with other Christiandenominations, is a sacramental church, that is ithas rites and practices that are visible signs ofGod’s power. Through sacraments the Churchprovides all Roman Catholics with a firm andsupportive structure by which to order theirlives. Babies are baptized, then at about sevenyears of age children receive their FirstCommunion where they share in the sacramentof the Mass. Young people are able to maketheir own commitment in their early teenswhen they confirm their faith and a bishop layshands on them.The seven sacraments provide a life journeyfor the Catholic: baptism; first communion;confirmation; marriage; confession; healing;ordination. In the marriage service bride andgroom make promises to each other before God.The church does not recognize divorce. Death,although a sad time for those left, is a celebrationof the dead person being called home to be inGod’s presence.The Catholic Church WorldwideAbout half the Christians in the world are Catholic (approximately onebillion people), and nearly half of these live in LatinAmerica.The Pope,who lives in theVatican City, Rome, is the head of the Catholic Church andis elected by a college of senior clerics called cardinals.The Church isstrongly sacramental. It places great importance on rites and ceremoniesmarking the life of each Catholic.The Catholic ChurchBetween 1464 and 1514, successivepopes issued a series of edicts to theSpanish and Portuguese crowns,giving them the task of converting the‘heathen peoples’ to Catholicism whichexploration was bringing under theircontrol.Today there are over one billionCatholics living across 202 countries.A S I AA F R I C AA U S T R A L I AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOcean16151603164214941524140415141462154114671606149016061542The Catholic Church91%+71–90%51–70%26–50%11–25%1–10%Less than 1%first European missionary voyages, with dateSpanishPortugueseFrenchWorld total – 1 billionTongaGrenedaKiribatiGibraltarSaint LuciaSão ToméCape VerdeSeychellesMaltaSamoaSingaporeHong KongMacaoBarbadosConcentration of Catholics worldwide,by percentage of populationC A N A D AU S AM E X I C O
  • 123. T H E C A T H O L I C C H U R C H W O R L D W I D E125THE PRIESTHOODThe Church is hierarchical, with the Pope at thetop of the pyramid. Then there are cardinals,archbishops, bishops and so on. The priesthoodis male and celibate for they are ‘married’ to theChurch and are thus able to commit themselvesfully to the welfare of the Church and itspeople. A bishop (or archbishop) is a churchleader who has responsibility for the church inhis area called a diocese. Often one archbishopwill be the leading church representative of hiscountry and many have the title cardinal. It isfrom the cardinals that the Pope is elected.All priests have to complete a period oftraining before they are ordained. The length oftime can vary but it may take more than fouryears before the bishop lays his hands on the headof the would-be priest. The laying on of hands isa sign of God’s help passed down through thepriesthood from the first Bishop of Rome.CHANGE AND STABILITYThe Catholic Church offers stability, authorityand comfort to its adherents in a changingworld. There have, however, been changes inthe last 50 years: the Mass is no longerconducted in Latin but in the language of thecountry; many monks and nuns wear ordinaryclothes rather than the traditional habits; andthere are changes in the attitude of the CatholicChurch to other Christian churches. TheChurch can be seen as authoritarian but inpractice there is scope for debate and argumenton every ethical and theological issue. Thebreadth of the Church allows, even encourages,discussion and only occasional fragmentation.The strength of the Catholic Church lies inits worldwide structure. It has a networkstretching across the whole world and, inaddition to the priesthood, there are largegroups of monks and nuns committed toteaching, preaching and social work. TheChurch has the ability to recognizedifference within unity. Thus there can bevery different approaches to religious ideasand practices, for example, Catholics inLatin America compared with moretraditional Catholics in Rome. It iscomparatively rare for a person to be askedto leave the Church (excommunicated).The Catholic tradition should be present inevery aspect of life. The Church creates a‘cradle to grave’ lifestyle in which theimportance of the sacraments is alwayspresent. There has always been a strongcommitment to education within the Churchand children are taught the basic principles ofCatholicism from an early age. Its worldwideoutreach makes it very influential religiouslyand politically. Catholics can move easilyfrom country to country knowing they will bewell received and being familiar with theservices and rituals of the Church. Theorganization of the male-only priesthoodensures that family duties and family life donot impinge on the commitment of the priestto his work for God and for the Church.THE CATHOLIC NETWORK
  • 124. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S126ALTHOUGH THERE are differentOrthodox churches, usually based onhistoric and ethnic tradition i.e. the GreekOrthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox,they all share the same living tradition of worship.The word ‘orthodox’ means ‘right’ or ‘trueworship’ and the Orthodox churches trace theirorigins back to the very beginning of the earlyChristian church. Rome was then the capital ofthe Roman Empire but the four eastern churchesof Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria andAntioch remained in a strong relationship witheach other. The authority of the Bishop of Romewas a growing problem for the bishops in theOrthodox churches who believed Churchgovernment should lie within an ecumenicalgroup of bishops, not be focused on one.TOGETHER BUT AS INDIVIDUALSThe Orthodox East and the Roman West slowlymoved apart from each other during the first1,000 years of Christianity until a definitiveseparation occurred in 1054. The Orthodoxchurches became the established religion incountries like Russia, Bulgaria and Greece andhave continued to survive in spite of attacks inthe twentieth century during periods ofcommunist and other authoritariangovernments. The organization of the Orthodoxchurches allows each country to develop its ownlanguage and customs within the context ofsharing the same worshipping tradition.WORSHIPWorship within the Orthodox Church brings allthe senses together. The building is often lit onlywith candles and there is a strong smell of incense.Most Orthodox churches do not have seats,worshippers stand and move about duringservices. The floor represents the world andheaven the ceiling, so large icons of Jesus oftenThe Orthodox ChurchesThe Orthodox churches each have their own distinctive history but are a group of churches basedon an historic tradition.This tradition arose in the East and the churches of Constantinople,Antioch,Alexandria and Jerusalem grew at the same time as theWestern Church expanded inRome.The leaders of the churches are called patriarchs and they work together ecumenically.At the heart of all Orthodox churches lies the Divine Liturgy, the worship of God, continuallycelebrated regardless of social environment and political pressure.AdriaticSeaGERMANY POLANDRUSSIAN FEDERATIONLITHUANIALATVIABELORUSSIACZECH REP.SLOVAKIAAUSTRIASLOVENIAHUNGARYCROATIABOSNIA-HERZEGOVINAYUGOSLAVIAROMANIABULGARIAMACEDONIAUKRAINEMOLDAVIAGEORGIATURKEYGREECEALBANIACYPRUSITALYESTONIAARMENIALEBANONB l a c k S e aB al t i cSeaAegeanseaThe Orthodox Churchmajority religion* Ukraine has a strongUniate minorityOrthodox*CatholicLutheranMuslimOther StatesThe Orthodox ChurchAfter the split of the Orthodox Eastand the Roman West in 1054, theOrthodox churches became theestablished religion in countries likeRussia, Bulgaria and Greece.They havecontinued to survive in spite of attacksin the twentieth century by communistgovernments (the collapse of theSoviet Union has led to a revival ofOrthodoxy).The map shows thevarious religious divisions withinEastern Europe.
  • 125. T H E O R T H O D O X C H U R C H E S127look down upon the worshippers. At the oppositeend of the church from the entrance is thesanctuary where the altar stands. The sanctuary isseparated from the main body of the church by ascreen called an iconostasis. On it are paintedevents from the life of Jesus, the Gospel writersand/or Orthodox saints. Only the priests, actingon behalf of the people, may open the screens’doors and pass into the Holy Sanctuary.DIVINE LITURGYThe most important service in the Orthodoxchurches is the Divine Liturgy. This is the namegiven to the re-enactment of Jesus’s life, deathand resurrection. The bread and wine becometransformed into the body and blood of Jesus.Only Orthodox worshippers receive the breadand wine, on a long spoon, but during theservice bread is blessed by the priest and sharedby all the people after the service. This is calledan agape (a Greek word meaning somethinglike ‘unconditional love’) and is symbolic of thesharing of love between Christians.PRIESTHOODOrthodox priests are very distinctive people inthe community with their beards, black hats andlong black robes. The senior archbishops arecalled patriarchs or ‘great fathers’ and areusually monks. As with priests in other churchesthe priest is the representative of the people andthrough him the worshippers reach out to God;and through the priest God responds. The priestis the mediator between God and the people.One important aspect of the Orthodoxchurches is their firm commitment to theconcept of the Church as a ‘pentarchy’.That is the five patriarchs of Rome,Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalemand Alexandria preserve the true faith.Theodore in the ninth century refers to‘the five-headed body of the Church’meaning those five patriarchs workingtogether. None was superior to another –a very different concept from theCatholic Church in Rome. Tradition isthe key to truth for the Orthodox and thisinbred familiarity with the tradition isthe key to the spread and survival of theOrthodox churches into the Middle East,India and beyond. New practices wouldmean that the rites and beliefs handeddown from the apostles would bealtered. So it was no surprise when thegradual drift of the Eastern churchesfrom theWest was recognized in 1054.The emphasis on tradition has meantthat the Orthodox churches have acted asa stable influence during changes acrossthe centuries. In the nineteenth andtwentieth centuries the churches kept thespirits of the nation alive in countries likeRussia, Romania and Bulgaria.THE FIVE PATRIARCHS
  • 126. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S128THE COLLECTION of worldwideAnglican churches is usually referred toas the Anglican Communion. There areAnglican churches in many countries of theworld with their own structure of archbishops,bishops, priests, and so on. The leaders meetregularly to confer.There are differences of view in differentparts of the Anglican Communion and while theChurch of England may have an influentialvoice, individual churches will go their ownway. In recent times the clearest examples of thishave been the ordination of women as priests insome parts of the Anglican Communion and notothers and the appointment of women bishopsin some parts of the Anglican Communion.Although such different points of view mightput strains on relationships inside the AnglicanCommunion the very nature ofAnglicanism is to strive forbalance in all things. TheAnglican Communion is neitherRoman Catholic nor Protestant,though, in its variety, it haselements of both. It is understood by Anglicansto be a bridge born out of an historical situationthat continues to be a link between two of thegreat divisions within Christianity.ORIGINSThe English Reformation in the sixteenthcentury was perhaps the most uncertain of anyin Europe, arising almost by accident. WhenHenry VIII declared himself Supreme Head ofthe Church of England and challenged theauthority of the Pope (in the 1530s), there wasThe Anglican CommunionThe ‘Anglican Communion’ is the name given to the collectionofAnglican churches worldwide.They all derive from the Churchof England but each has their own system of government withtheir own archbishops and bishops.They may have very differentviews from each other; some ordain women priests and bishops,others have women priests but no women bishops and somehave neither.TheAnglican Communion regards itself as beingboth Catholic and Reformed (Protestant).A S I AA F R I C AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanThe Anglican CommunionWorld total – 70 million51–60%31–50%11–30%6–10%1–9%Less than 1%date of first AnglicanBishopA U S T R A L I A1784178417871836184118641824AnguillaAntiguaBarbadosBermudaGrenedaSeychellesC A N A D AU S AM E X I C OConcentration of Anglicans worldwide,by percentage of populationJamaicaThe Anglican CommunionThe collection of Anglican churches isusually referred to as the AnglicanCommunion.Today there are believedto be more than 70 million Anglicansworldwide.
  • 127. T H E A N G L I C A N C O M M U N I O N129little actual change inchurch services. Henrywanted no real change withthe past, he only wanted thePope to agree to his divorcefrom his first wife,Catherine, but he closedmonasteries and persecutedProtestants and Catholicsalike. Slowly, however, overthe next twenty years, theMass was abolished(though it continued underanother name) and theemergence of an Englishprayer book moved theChurch of England awayfrom Rome.If there was a key figure in the EnglishReformation, after Henry, it was ArchbishopThomas Cranmer. He moved the emergingchurch towards Protestantism emphasizingthe Bible as the living word of God, layingthe foundation of the Church of Englandas a Bible-reading church. Mary, Henry’sdaughter, had him executed when she tried torestore Catholicism.In the Elizabethan era the shift to a nationalchurch continued, still a feature of Anglicanismtoday. Later, in the seventeenth century, theChurch of England was given form and orderthrough the publication of the AuthorizedVersion of the Bible in 1611 and the new PrayerBook of 1662. The unresolved doctrinaldifferences between Catholicism andProtestantism continue to cause discord, to alesser degree, in the Anglican church today.ANGLICANISMTODAYThe Archbishop of Canterbury is often regardedas the leader of the Anglican Communion but hedoes not hold the same position of authority asthe Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. What isdistinctive about the Church of England is that itremains an established church. The BritishParliament begins its sessions each day withprayers, bishops are appointed on therecommendation of the Prime Minister and themonarch remains the Supreme Governor of theChurch of England. But things might change...One unique feature of the Church ofEngland is to be seen at thecoronation of the monarch. At hercoronation in 1953 Elizabeth IIreceived the title ‘SupremeGovernor of the Church of England’,being anointed by theArchbishop ofCanterbury. This reveals the‘established’ links between thethrone and the Anglican altar,between the landed powers and theAnglican religion.In doctrine, Anglicans usescripture, tradition and reason asGod-given ways to understandrevelation; reason being the way tointerpret scripture and tradition. Atparish level there is a combination ofindividual and parochial freedomunder the authority and guidance ofa bishop.Some parish churches, bytradition, will be more Catholic intheir worship, using incense,emphasizing the sacraments andplacing importance on HolyCommunion (often called ‘Mass’in some churches). Otherchurches will be plain, have nostatues, will not use incense andplace greater emphasis onpreaching, reflecting a moreProtestant ideal. Such tensionsextend into attitudes towardschurch government, socialconcerns and ethical issues.RITES AND PRACTICES
  • 128. EdinburghGlasgowLondonDublinMadridLisbonBarcelonaParisStrassburgZurichBerneGenevaMarseilleNizzaAvignonTurinGenoaBrusselsMonsCologneHanoverBremenEmdenAmsterdamBergenChritianiaStockholmCopenhagenMalmöBerlinBreslauPragueCracowViennaMunichSalzburgBudaPécsGrazTriesteVeniceBolognaVeronaZágrábFlorencePerugiaRomeNaples BariTarantoMessinaPalermoSpalatoBosnaSarayMostarAthensJaninaSalonicaÜskübAdrianopleSofiaNishBucharestBrassóBelgradeJassyKolozsvárLwówWarsawMinskVilnaKönigsbergDünaburgRigaRevalÅboHelsingforsZaraPskovBrünnPozsonyKassaEgerDebrecenSzegedTemesvárPhilippopolisRuschukMilanPoznan´Danzig´SPAINC A S T I L EA R A G O NMONACOMONTFER RATS A V O YFRANCHE-COMTÉMANTUAPARMAMODENAFERRARASAN M ARINODUCHY O FURBINOANDORRAF R A N C EORANGEBÉARNNAVARREVENAISSINPORTUGALMONTENEGROREPUBLIC O FRAGUSAS I C I L YN APL E SSTATODEIPRESIDIDUCHYOFCASTROTUSCANYSTATESPAPALBENEVENTOPONTECORVOOTTOMANEMPI RERUSSIAN E T HERLANDBRANDEN B U RGP R U S SIATRANSYLVANIAW A L L A C H I AHUNGA R YBOHEMIAAUSTRIAMORAVIAP O L A N DL I T H U A N I AC O U R L A N DS W E D E NVENETIANREPUBLICM O L D A V I ADE N M A RKSARDINIAREP.OFGENOMASSALUCCAMILACONFEDERATIONSWISSN O R W A YS C O T L A N DWALESE N G L A N DI R E L A N DS I L E S I AN o r t hS e aTagusEbroLoireSeineRhineElbeDanubeVistulaDniesterDanubeOderDouroB a l e a r i c sB a l t i cSeaM e d i t e r r a n e a n S e aLIVONIAE S T O N I ARomanCatholicOrthodoxIslamHussiteLutheranCalvinistAnabaptistAnglicanborders, 1572Dots indicate a mixture of faithsLight = small minorityHeavy = larger minorityThe ReformationW O R L D R E L I G I O N S130If Martin Luther (1483–1546) was the fatherof the Reformation, Jean Calvin (1509–64)ensured that it would continue and develop.Of the many discontented thinkers pushingagainst the ills of the Catholic Church, these twomen were the foundation upon which muchwould be built. Luther’s frustration with theChurch may have kindled revolution but Calvincreated the political vision of the ‘City of God’.The Reformation represented the shift of powerfrom the aristocracy to the middle classes.Martin Luther defined the ideology of earlyProtestantism. There had been rumblings ofdiscontent with the practices of the CatholicChurch for very many years but Luther’sindividuality coincided with a set of favourablepolitical and social circumstances. The othergreat reformer, Jean Calvin, was stronglyinfluenced by Luther but, as someonewho liked order, he was a very practicalperson who applied his thinking directly topolitical issues.Luther, Calvin and the ReformationDuring the early fifteenth century there was a re-birth, or Renaissance, inlearning in Europe, in which many scholars returned to the study ofClassical literature.Theologians such as Erasmus (1466–1536) began toquestion the disparity between the practices of the Catholic church andthe teachings of the early Christians.The worldliness and extreme wealthof the church were criticized and a movement for reform began, whichcrystallized with the actions of Martin Luther in 1517.The ReformationAlthough Luther and Calvin werearguably the main protagonists of theReformation, the Anabaptists, theAnglicans and the Hussites all had amajor part to play.The map shows theReformation in Europe in the mid-sixteenth century.
  • 129. BL U T H E R , C A L V I N A N D T H E R E F O R M A T I O N131LUTHER’S STATEMENTIt was on 31 October 1517 that Luther pinnedhis ‘95 Theses’ to the north door of the CastleChurch in Wittenberg. The document, whichwould be read by worshippers coming to churchon 1 November (All Saints’ Day), attacked theChurch policy on indulgences (the Church soldindulgences to the people to take away theirsins). Luther believed this practice was notpresent in the Bible and that is encouragedpeople to turn their mind away from Jesus Christand God’s forgiveness.‘PROTESTANTS’Luther, a monk and professor of Biblical Studies atWittenberg, was finally excommunicated on 3January 1521 and outlawed later in the year. Hecontinued to write, however, in powerful, readableGerman. In 1529 the emperor, Charles V,attempted to move against him but some of theGerman princes stood up in ‘Protest’. Luther hadtouched the nerve of German nationalism but othergroups who stood in opposition to the Pope wereready to use his name. There was an aspect toLuther’s vision that attracted the kings and princesof other nations and Lutheranism spread rapidlyinto the Baltic States. The power and authority ofthe Pope was broken by the advent of Lutheranism.JEAN CALVINIf Luther was charismatic, Jean Calvin createdProtestantism as a credible alternative toCatholicism. Often referred to as the ‘Reformerof Geneva,’ Calvin was French. In his bookInstitutes (1536) he produced a clear defence ofReformation beliefs and ideas. In his lateredition (1559) he argued forcefully howProtestant beliefs can sustain (and undermine)the state. He wove a fabric of Protestant ideasinto the political, social and economicframework of the state. Calvin created a virtualtheocracy (a society ruled by God) in Geneva.Calvin taught that knowledge of God couldonly be found in the Word of God, that only Godcould pardon and save and only baptism andcommunion were sacraments. He gave greatimportance to the external organization of theChurch, with the Church in Geneva being, ineffect, a theocracy, a church and state ruled byGod as interpreted by Calvin. Calvin argued thatif God is all-knowing and all-powerful then Godknows who will be saved and who won’t. Thisdoctrine, called predestination, became a featureof the reformed churches that followed Calvin’steaching. It was his way of teaching that humansare saved by God’s power alone; it has nothing todo with good works or good behaviour.DIFFERENT CHARACTERSLuther was a Catholic monk who later marriedbecause he came to believe there was nodifference between priests and the laity. Calvinwas a humanist attracted by the application ofProtestantism to the organization of Church andState. They were different characters, comingfrom different backgrounds. Luther may not havewanted, initially, to leave the Catholic Church,but Calvin was never part of it. Luther was toinfluence Calvin but Calvin was to moveoff down a different road from Luther. Hewas far morep o l i t i c a l l yc o n c e r n e dthan Luther,whose ideaswere used byothers for theirown purposes.Luther’s main emphasis in his teaching was on ‘justificationby faith’. This meant that God saves sinners through thembelieving in, and having knowledge of, Jesus Christ. All thebenefits of Christian living flow from this. Like all theReformers, he believed in the authority of the Bible asunderstood by those who read it. Salvation did not come, asthe Catholic Church taught, through sacraments.Luther, Calvin and the other Reformers were not always inagreement. Luther taught that, in some sense, Christ’s bodywas a ‘real presence’ in the bread blessed at Holy Communion.Calvin and his followers rejected this; Christ’s body was inheaven and not on an altar; Christ meets his followers at theCommunion table in their hearts not in a piece of bread.Whereas Luther retained much of the ceremony of theCatholic Church, other Reformers wanted worship to be assimple as possible, reflecting scriptural practices. Lutherbelieved the Church was an earthly creation and could never beperfect and encouraged strong church–state links. Calvin hadtwo distinguishing features of the Church: gospel andsacraments, but ‘discipline’, later to become essential, wouldbe important if the Church were not to fragment.For all Reformers the first priority was to put the Gospelinto the hands of Christians in the form of a Bible in theirown language.LUTHER VERSUS CALVIN
  • 130. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S132ONE OF MARTIN LUTHER’S keybeliefs was that of the importanceof the indiviudal within the church,a belief that remains prominent within all ofthe protestant churches today. It is theresponsibility of each person in the communityof the Church to work towards their ownsalvation guided by scripture.THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHThe Presbyterian Church arose out of theCalvinist side of the Reformation. Calvin taughtthat the Church was to be a right-livingfellowship of men and women. Elders werechosen who had every day jobs and could offerspiritual leadership in governing the Church.This could include disciplining those whotransgressed. So the church was a place wherepeople were made Christian and kept Christian.The main belief of this Church is that God isLord and Sovereign of all in the lives of men andwomen. Another belief was in predestination –that God predestined (intended) some people tobe saved and others to be damned.The most influential Presbyterian in theEnglish-speaking world was John Knox(1513–73). The national Church of Scotland isPresbyterian and was formed by him in thesixteenth century.METHODISMMethodism began as a society within theChurch of England and John Wesley (1703–91)and his brother Charles (1707–88) tried to keepit there. John was a powerful preacher of deeppiety and with his brother wrote many hymnsstill sung today. An influence on John Wesleywas the Moravian church, founded in theeighteenth century, with its emphasis onChristian living and God’s forgiving love. In1738 Wesley wrote: ‘I felt I did trust in Christ,in Christ alone for my salvation; and anassurance was given me, that he had takenaway my sins, even mine, and saved me fromthe law of sin and death.’Methodism attracted social groups whofelt excluded from the Church of England.Wesley and his followers had great success ingrowing industrial areas like South Wales andSouth Yorkshire, but the countryside too wasa fertile field.Wesley provided people with a sense ofpurpose, hope and worthiness founded uponBiblical teaching, the power of prayer and hymnsinging allied to his own deep love of God.After John Wesley’s death the Methodistsbroke from the Church of England and thenbroke again into other smaller churches. Themost famous is probably the Salvation Armyfounded by William Booth in 1861. Methodismis strongest today in North America and todaythere are more than 50 million Methodistsworldwide.The Protestant ChurchesThe variety within Protestantism is an illustration of how strongly individualism has grownduring the last 500 years. Many protestant groups were persecuted; some fled to the NewWorld,while others divided and sub-divided.At the heart of each movement was the individual’s searchfor God and acceptance of the Lordship of God.This was to be found in scripture and in teaching,preaching and study.
  • 131. 1. Doing no harm byavoiding evil.2. Doing good of everypossible sort and as faras possible to all men.3. Attending to all publicworship, especially theLord’s Supper andobserving private prayer,Bible study and fasting.‘Rules of the Society of thepeople called Methodists’,John Wesley, 1 May 1743T H E P R O T E S T A N T C H U R C H E S133THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDSThe Religious Society of Friends (called‘Quakers’ because a judge trying George Fox,the founder of the movement, was told to‘quake at the voice of the Lord’) is traditionallyconsidered to have begun on Pentecost 1652when Fox preached to an enormous crowd. Hecriticized the Church for stressing outwardthings and not inner meanings. When Fox diedin 1691 there were meetings of Friends all overBritain and America. There are approximately300,000 Quakers worldwide today, and theyare a non-violent, non-sacramental people whoworship largely in silence with no fixed orderof service. There are no priests and nocelebration of Communion. It was, and is,a constant search for truth.In the seventeenth century groups ofBaptists were emerging in England andHolland. They claimed freedom from stateinterference and practised ‘believersbaptism’ (adult baptism for those whoprofess belief). At the heart of the Baptistmovement was, and is, a desire to find andfollow the pattern of the churches foundedby the apostles who baptised adults. Thishas been the pattern for all succeedinggenerations.Today the Baptist Church worldwide isthriving with an estimated 70 millionmembers. This may be due to the strongBaptist conviction that their church is theirpersonal responsibility.The organization ofeach congregation is democratic, althoughDeacons are appointed to help the day-to-day running of the Church. Some churchesalso appoint Elders. While the Bible iscentral there is no final agreement abouthow the Bible should be interpreted. Somebelieve it is literally theWord of God, othersbelieve they should look behind the words tointerpret them in a modern-day context.In the USA the Baptists are the strongestProtestant tradition. Baptists have a stronghistory of missionary activity stretchingback to the foundation of the BaptistMissionary Society in 1792.The enthusiasmof the missionaries in parts of Africa andIndia was not to be doubted but met withgreater success in Africa than India.Todaythe strength of the Baptists in the USAmeans missionary activity can be wellfunded as it reaches out across the world.BAPTISTS
  • 132. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S134THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT isnot a denomination or a sect. It really isa movement, which, while it has creatednew churches, has also found a home in thetraditional churches. It began in the USA at theturn of the twentieth century partly as a reactionagainst very formal styles of worship and partly,as Pentecostalists would say, as a result of theactions of the Holy Spirit. This led to manychurches being established, all involved withinnovation, experimentation and a rejection offormal, ordered worship: Assemblies of God,Pilgrim Holiness Church, Church of theNazarene are just some of the names, perhapsthe best known being the Church of God inChrist. Although there is a link between thePentecostal Churches they are all distinctive andseparate. Organized very differently from theCatholic and Orthodox Churches, they relyupon the power of the Holy Spirit and the rawemotional appeal of the minister or pastor.The Pentecostal MovementThe Pentecostal movement takes its name from the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit to thedisciples at Pentecost when they were gathered together after Jesus’s ascension (Acts 2:1–4).Theapostles experienced the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence through wind and fire and receivedthe gift of speaking in tongues – that is to speak in many languages.These two aspects lie at theheart of the Pentecostal movement. It is probably the fastest-growing of all the Christian churches.The Pentecostal MovementThe Pentecostal Movement began inthe USA at the turn of the twentiethcentury as a reaction against veryformal styles of worship. It is one ofthe fastest growing religions, withover 100 million followers worldwide.A S I AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanThe Pentecostal Movement11–30%6–10%1–5%Less than 1%World total – 100 millionA U S T R A L I AA F R I C ABarbadosConcentration of Pentecostolistsworldwide, by percentage of populationC A N A D AU S AM E X I C O
  • 133. T H E P E N T E C O S T A L M O V E M E N T135BELIEFSPentecostalists believe in prophecy, speaking intongues (a gift given to the disciples atPentecost to speak so they can be understoodby people regardless of which language theyspeak), visions and, like many otherChristians, the power of healing. Theirworship is informal and uses powerfulpreaching, rhythmic singing and chanting. Sinis often regarded as the cause of ill health,physical or mental, and to cure such illnesses isto release people from the evil power of thedevil. The Devil is a real person who can anddoes influence and inhabit people. Whenpossessed a person needs to be cleansed andhave the Devil cast out so they can be healed.This is done in the name of Jesus and followsthe example of Jesus casting out spirits in theBible. Pentecostalists believe that Jesus Christwill return to this world, literally, in personand in the near future. There is a vividunderstanding of the afterlife with, Heavenand Hell being real places of rewards andpunishments usually depicted in stark wordpictures. In the early days they drew their hugecongregations from the poor and the outcast –often a mixture of black and white people –and while there are some very large blackPentecostal churches it is by no means a blackreligious phenomenon.PENTECOSTALISMAn important feature of the Pentecostalmovement has been the way in which some ofits features have been incorporated into theworship of the more traditional andmainstream churches. The term usually used todescribe the movement in this case is‘charismatic’. The word means ‘gift’ (of theHoly Spirit) and some charismatic mainstreamChristian services have much the same powerand force as the Pentecostal services.Pentecostalism touches the emotions, allowspeople to forget about their everydaylife and lose themselves in the power of theHoly Spirit. The Devil can possess people todrive them away from the knowledge of Jesusor can cause illness and ‘demonic possession’.In the Pentecostal movement the power of theSpirit lies very close to everyday life. Theminister can exorcise the Devil and curesickness by calling on the Devil (or devils) toleave the person – but always in the name ofJesus. In a world where people can suffer greatpoverty and oppression, the vigour, vitality andsheer force of communal expression creates asituation where people believe they can feelGod’s presence. For a time they are taken out ofthe ordinary world to live in God’s world.During worship, it can feel likeheaven is descending to earth,the Holy Spirit seems to sweepus into the reality of thepresence of Jesus.HeidiTherese Fageraas inOne Island, Many FaithsRachel MortonThe influence of the Pentecostal movementover the last 100 years has been enormous.On the one hand there has been the rapidgrowth of Pentecostal churches and thehuge congregations they draw. On theother hand, Pentecostalism has beenincorporated into other more traditionalchurches. Even in Japan where the numberof professing Christians is small, theMakaya Church mingles folk religion withChristian Pentecostal practice. In Russiaand other countries dominated byCommunist rule in the twentieth centuryPentecostalists met in secret. In Brazil,where Catholicism has always ranged fromlocal cults to the more coherent politicaltheology of Liberation, there has been amassive expansion of Pentecostalism.What is ‘on offer’ is warmth, fellowship andthe power of the Holy Spirit. The sheerenergy, force and vigour of Pentecostalismcan remove people from the worries andfears of everyday life. Worship transformsthe person and the world in which they live.The lack of a formal structure allowseach person to respond to the power of theSpirit in his or her own way. It is anindividual communalism.INFLUENCE
  • 134. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S136IT MAY BE more accurate to write about‘Christianities’ rather than ‘Christianity’.The diversity is remarkable and, in onesense, a great strength. For all Christians, JesusChrist is ‘a-cultural’ – that is, he is not identifiedin any one cultural form. So Christians expresstheir commitment to the person of Jesus in waysthat reflect their culture. Some Christiansworship in simple ways – churches are austereand so are the clothes worn by pastor andcongregation; others celebrate their faith withrich flamboyance and varied ceremonial.LATIN AMERICAWith the large number of Christians living inLatin America, it is of key importance to thefuture of the Catholic Church worldwide.The late twentieth century witnessedthe development of what is called ‘LiberationTheology’. The Church became the mainhome for the oppressed, offering freedom,spiritually and (often) politically, andchampioned their cause.The strong devotion of the poor to Mary, themother of Jesus, is a feature of liberationtheology. In the Magnificat, in Luke’s Gospel,she prays that ‘the powerful will be cast downand the poor exalted’. In her ‘appearances’ to thefaithful, Mary speaks in Indian languagesidentifying the traditional Catholic image withthe revolutionary who reacts against theoppression of the state.TENSIONSGenerally in Latin America Christianity has arich vibrant expression. It is popular and fulfilshuman as well as religious aspirations. TheCatholic Church does continually wrestle,however, with the cultural expression of peoplebeing drawn into Christianity that includes theremnants of indigenous tribal religion andAfrican nuptial traditions.In places like Guatemala the CatholicChurch is viewed with suspicion by theauthorities because of its liberationist approach.The poverty of the people fires their radicalthinking. Society offers them nothing butoppression. The only way to give vent to theirfeelings is through the voice and action of theChurch. The government prefers American-financed evangelical groups because they appearto offer individual salvation to each person withno political challenge to the order of the state.CHANGES IN ATTITUDEIn the years following the Reformation,European Christianity spread inevitablybecoming associated with imperialism asThe Diversity of ChristianityReligions are not monolithic: rather the reverse is true. Some Christians are barely recognizableto other Christians because they dress, worship and even behave so differently.To move fromattending an Easter procession in LatinAmerica to the Easter Day service in a Methodist churchin England is to move to another world – cultural and religious diversity is increasingly recognizedas enrichment to understanding the life of Jesus Christ.
  • 135. T H E D I V E R S I T Y O F C H R I S T I A N I T Y137European states moved into the Americas,Africa and Asia. The armies of Europe broughtwith them a religion framed in a very differentway from the indigenous religions in thecountries they conquered. It was only in thelater years of the twentieth century that theassociation of Christianity with whitedomination and rule began to erode. Thestrong conviction that God was on their sideled the (white) missionaries, on occasions, tocriticize the indigenous religion and patronizeChristian converts. The development of 2,000years of Christian thinking in the West made ithard to re-interpret Christian belief in thecontext of Chinese and Indian societies.Western thinking, based on Greek ideas fromthe first century onwards, had defined theChristian faith. It was not, and would not be,easy for western Christians to acknowledgedeeper insights that would come from Africa,India and the Far East.Generally there has been a decline in thenumbers professing Christianity in the westernchurches, although churchgoing is still strongin the USA. An example of the changingpattern of Christian affiliation may bereflected in the fact that 40 per cent of RomanCatholic cardinals now come from thedeveloping world where, in the main,Christianity, in its many forms, flourishes.There is a challenge to the churches as, in theWest there is an interest in spiritual issuesmatched by a decline in the importance oftraditional forms of Christianity.‘If your missionaries would step out theircarriages and live with the poor and the outcast,Christianity would flourish,’ Mahatma Gandhi.GROWING ECUMENISMThe twentieth century witnessed the beginningof a recognition that the churches should worktogether; and a new era in the life of the Churchwas to be enriched by contributions from theEast and, of course, Africa. The World Councilof Churches has become a symbol itself of thiswillingness to grow together, though it still hasits own problems of speaking with one voice.The ultra-conservative churches are oftenconcerned lest they reduce the emphasis on theliteral truth of scripture and are suspicious ofthe motives and pronouncements of the RomanCatholic Church which they interpret asclaiming superiority over the other churches.42% of the USA populace agreed:The Bible is theWord of Godand is not mistaken in itsstatements and teachings.Gallup Poll, USA, 1978In one sense all Christians arefundamentalists because they accept thefundamental truth revealed by God in JesusChrist. The term, however, is normallyassociated with Protestant groups whobelieve that every word of the Bible is theWord of God. In the USA there is a growingfundamentalist body of nearly two millionpeople who make up what is called the‘moral majority’. The moral majority takewhat they believe to be Biblical teaching asabsolute on all occasions, particularly inrelation to moral issues such as abortion,capital punishment, and so on. They holdsolidly to a literal view of creation as foundin the Book of Genesis. One of theirattractions is that in a materialist worldwhere traditional values are challengedthere is a clear message and formula forbelief and behaviour. Normally critical of thetraditional mainstream churches they areincreasingly successful in countriesformerly under communist domination.Always patriarchal, they have been referredto as ‘evangelicals who are angry’. Manyfundamentalist churches are rich, direct,identify worldly success with God’sblessing, and have a very strong appeal tothe emotions. Some congregations run intotens of thousands.FUNDAMENTALISM
  • 136. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SCONFUCIUS’S SURNAME was Kongand his personal name Qiu. In later lifehe came to be known as Kong Fuzi(Master Kong). This was Latinized in thesixteenth century by Jesuit missionaries asConfucius. Very little is known aboutConfucius’s life, though legends abound. He wasborn and spent most of his life in Lu, which wasone of the smaller states situated in present-dayShandong Province in East China. He belongedto a relatively small educated class of civil andmilitary functionaries who were schooled in theSix Arts, which comprised ceremonies, music,archery, chariot driving, writing and arithmetic.C O N F U C I A N I S MThe Life and Teachings of ConfuciusConfucius (551–479 BC) was a teacher and political reformer who lived in Chinaat a time when the power of the Zhou Dynasty (c.1027–256 BC ) was in decline,and the political system was undergoing change.The Zhou kings had becomemere figureheads, ruling over a small enclave in the centre of their nominaldomains, and real power was in the hands of the rulers of various principalities,which were in perpetual competition with each other, each trying to enrichitself at its neighbours’ expense.M A L A Y S I AI N D O N E S I AC H I N AI N D I ASRILANKANEPALB U R M APHILIPPINESJ A P A NM O N G O L I ABHUTANTHAILANDVIETNAMCAMBODIABRUNEIKOREATAIWANJAVATIBETNEW GUINEALAOSBeijingQufuIrtyshHuangHeIrrawaddyMekongSalweenChangJiangG a n g aMELANES I AS e a o fJa p a nEastChinaSeaYellowSeaB a y o fB e n g a lS o u t hC h i n aS e aCelebesSeaPhilippineSeaI N D I A NO C E A NP A C I F I CO C E A NConfucianism in East Asiaarea where Mencius travelledarea where Zhu Xi travelledapproximate date Confucianismadopted as state religionCountries with a significantConfucian heritagebirthplace of Confucius, 551 BCbirthplace of Mencius, 371 BCbirthplace of Zhu Xi, AD1130–12001392AD 600136 BC14141392LAOS138Confucianism in East AsiaThe map shows the influences ofConfucianism in East Asia. Confucius(551-479 BC) was a teacher andpolitical reformer born at a time whenthe Zhou dynasty was in a state ofdecline. Mencius (371–289 BC),developed Confucianism further,became a travelling advisor to rulersand wrote the Book of Mencius.Zhu Xi (AD 1130–1200) distinguishedConfucian realism from Buddhistidealism, and advocated meditation.
  • 137. T H E L I F E A N D T E A C H I N G S O F C O N F U C I U SHe also became conversant with the ancientclassical books on poetry, history and divination.Although he claimed that his best subjects werearchery and chariot driving, his education andupbringing prepared him for public service, andthis remained his ambition all his life.MORAL PHILOSOPHYConfucius deplored what he regarded as a declinein moral standards, not only in Lu but in all thestates of the Zhou domains. His study of ancientbooks led him to believe that this decline had comeabout through a failure by the rulers of his time tomaintain the standards of a supposed golden ageof antiquity. In a bid to halt this decline hedeveloped a system of moral philosophy for theguidance of his contemporaries. In 497 BC he wasappointed Minister of Justice in Lu where hehoped to put his ideas into practice, but he soonfell out of favour and spent the next 13 yearstravelling from state to state attempting to find aruler willing to accept his advice. In this endeavourhe was unsuccessful and he finally returned to Luwhere he spent his remaining days teaching.CONFUCIUSTHETEACHERConfucius had been a teacher most of his life. Hebelieved that in education there should be noclass distinctions and once said that he wouldteach anyone who came to him bearing theschool fees of 10 pieces of dried meat andperformed the entrance ceremony. When one ofhis followers was asked what sort of manConfucius was, he did not know how to reply.Confucius said: ‘Tell him that Confucius isa man who is tireless in learning and tirelessin teaching. When inspired, he even forgetsto eat.’ Confucius may well have hadthousands of students during his lifetime,but he also had a small number of closefollowers, or disciples, of which we knowthe names of 25. Although a moralist hewas not a fanatic and did not demandperfection from his students. He wasdelighted if they made an effort tounderstand his teachings and showed someprogress in their studies.The school of philosophy whichConfucius founded is known in China asthe Ru school, the word ru coming to meanscholars or moralists. He transmitted hisideas mainly through word of mouth to hisstudents. His words were compiled by hisfollowers not long after his death into abook entitled Lun Yu, or The Analects ofConfucius, which became one of the mostinfluential books of East Asia, includingChina, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.Although he was honoured in his lifetime,Confucius never made extravagant claimsfor himself. He was willing to learn fromanyone. He said that in any group of threepeople there must be one from whom hecould learn something. He was also modestabout his attainments saying that in anyhamlet of 10 houses there was sure to besomeone as loyal and dependable as himself.The human side of Confucius is illustratedby the following story: Once when he waswith four of his students he asked them whatthey would wish to do if a prince recognizedtheir qualities and gave them the freedom todo as they pleased. One said that he wouldlike to take charge of a state surrounded bypowerful enemies. Another said that hewould like to be put in charge of a district of500 square miles, which he would makeprosperous within three years. The thirdstudent said he would like to be a minorofficial assisting at ceremonies at the royalancestral temple.The fourth student said: ‘Inspringtime I would like to take a group ofadults and youths to bathe in the riverYi, and,after bathing, go to enjoy the breeze in thewoods by the altars ofWuYi, and then returnhome singing.’ Confucius sighed and said:‘You are a man after my own heart’.CONFUCIUS THE MAN
  • 138. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S140CONFUCIUSTHE MORALPHILOSOPHERConfucius thought of himself as a transmitterrather than an innovator and although he isreputed to have edited several of China’sclassics, he never wrote a book himself. He wasnonetheless the originator of many of the basicideas which have sustained Chinese civilizationfor well over 2,000 years.Confucius admired the founders of the ZhouDynasty, who had ordered the feudal hierarchyand devised the ritual and music which heconsidered of key importance in maintainingsocial harmony and stability. He had specialpraise for the Duke of Zhou, brother of King Wuof Zhou, founder of the Dynasty. He believed theDuke’s rule embodied the qualities of humanityand moral order which were dear to him. Heonce said ‘I am slipping. I have not dreamed ofthe Duke of Zhou for a long time.’But in drawing lessons from the past,Confucius was primarily concerned with thesociety of his own time. For example, he extolledthe virtues of the junzi, which originally meant‘prince’ or ‘ruler’, and contrasted it with those ofthe xiao ren, meaning ‘small men’ or ‘commonpeople’. But he used these terms in a new sense,namely with reference to people who exhibitedsuperior or inferior moral qualities regardless ofwhich class they belonged to. The term junzi issometimes translated into English as ‘gentleman’or ‘superior man’. Thus: ‘The gentleman iscalm and at ease, the small man is anxious and illat ease.’
  • 139. T H E L I F E A N D T E A C H I N G S O F C O N F U C I U S141RENAccording to Confucius, the supreme virtue ofa gentleman was ren. This term, which has beenvariously translated as goodness, benevolenceand human-heartedness, is the sum total of allvirtues. Confucius said that fortitude,simplicity and reticence are all close to themeaning of ren. When one of his followersasked him how to practice ren Confucius said:‘Love people’. He believed that the sage rulersof antiquity were men of ren, but he denied thathe himself had attained ren: ‘How dare I saythat I am a sage or a man of ren? ButI delight in striving toward ren and never tire ofteaching what I believe.Ren is closely connected with shu(reciprocity), in that a man of ren judges othersby the same standards that he sets for himself.Confucius said: ‘Do not do to others what youdo not wish to be done to you.’ and ‘The goodman is one who, wishing to sustain himself,sustains others, and, wishing to develophimself, develops others. To be able to use one’sown needs as an example for thetreatment of others is the way topractice ren.’Confucius also placed greatemphasis on yi (righteousness). Thismeant doing what is morally right andproper in any situation, having regardfor the five cardinal relationshipsupon which the family and society ingeneral was said to be based: thosebetween sovereign and subject, fatherand son, husband and wife,elder and younger brother,and friend and friend.While ren is the innerquality of goodnessin the gentleman,yi is its outwardmanifestation inaction, by which hischaracter may bejudged.Confucianism is sometimes classified asone of the three religions of China, but itdiffers from other religions in that it doesnot put the worship of a deity or deities atthe centre of its doctrines or observances.Confucius avoided religious controversy,preferring to concentrate on the problemsof humanity.This was because he wished tocounter the popular superstitions whichwere rife in his time. To his disciple Zi Luwho asked about the worship of spirits hesaid: ‘You still do not know how to servemen, how then can you serve spirits?’WhenZi Lu asked him about the dead Confuciussaid: ‘You still do not know how to serve theliving, how then can you serve the dead?’Confucius did not deny the existence ofspirits and he approved of the ritualpractices of theZhou kings whowere entitled tomake sacrifices tothe supreme spirit,Heaven (Tian). Hebelieved that everycitizen had a duty topay regard to thewill of Heaven. He also approved of theproper enactment of ancestral rites carriedout by the population at large. But heconsidered that such rituals were importantprimarily to ensure the cohesion of the Stateand the family. He said that one shouldsacrifice to the spirits as though they werethere, recognizing that even in those daysnot everyone believed in them.CONFUCIUS AND THE SPIRITSc. 1027 BC Establishment of the Zhou Dynasty whose founders were revered by Confucius722–481 BC Spring andAutumn period; rise of the principalities551–479 BC Life of Confuciusc. 479–381 BC Life of Mo Zi, first opponent of Confuciusc. 450–221 BC Period of the Hundred Schools, including Mohism,Taoism, Confucianism etc.c. 371–289 BC Life of Menciusc. 298–238 BC Life of Xun Xi221–209 BC China unified by the Qin Dynasty; Confucians persecuted136 BC Acceptance by EmperorWudi of Dong Zhongshu’s promotion of ConfucianismAD 2nd century Buddhism spreads to China11th century Rise of Neo-Confucianism1130–1200 Life of Zhu Xi
  • 140. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S142MENCIUS (fourth century BC)considered that man was inherentlygood, and it behoved the ruler toliberate this goodness by setting a good examplewhich the people would follow ‘like waterrushing downhill’. Xun Zi (third century BC), onthe other hand, believed that man naturallytended toward evil and that this tendency had tobe curbed through education. In spite of thesedifferences both Mencius and Xun Zi believedthat men had the potential to become sages, andboth belonged to the Ru school of philosophy.By the time of Mencius, other schools ofthought had emerged in what became known asthe period of the Hundred Schools. First theMohist school, based on the teachings of thephilosopher Mo Di (470–391 BC), who rejectedConfucianism’s emphasis on a hierarchicalsociety and advocated universal love, and laterDaoism, which rejected all moral systems andsought to harmonize the life of humanity withthe forces of nature.China was unified under the Qin in 221 BC(the dynasty from whose name the word Chinaderives). Yet another school, the Legalists, whobelieved that loyalty to the emperor and the statewas the highest virtue, then became dominant,and many Confucians were put to death andtheir writings, together with those of the otherschools apart from the Legalists, were banned.But quite soon, the Qin was overthrown andthe Legalists discredited. The Han Dynastyrulers, anxious to rebuild their bureaucracy on afirm ideological foundation, turned toConfucianism to provide it, and Confucianismbecame the orthodox school of thoughtsupported by the majority of Chinese rulers fortwo thousand years.The philosopher and politician DongZhongshu provided the theoretical basis for theascendancy of Confucianism when herecommended to Emperor Wudi in 136 BC thatConfucianism should be the means by which therulers should effect general unification, and thatAfter ConfuciusFollowing the death of Confucius his disciples continued to expound his teaching and his message spreadthrough the various states of what is now north and central China.The followers of Confucius, notablyMencius and Xun Zi, expanded the scope of Confucius’ teaching, touching on issues, such as human nature,which were contentious in their day.A S I AA F R I C AN O R T HA M E R I C AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanConfucianism TodayA U S T R A L I AWorld total – 6 millionImportant centres of ConfucianismCountries influenced by ConfucianismAreas in which Confucianism plays arole in the Chinese DiasporaConfucianism TodayAlthough Confucianism lost its status asa state orthodoxy early in the twentiethcentury, it has continued to exert aninfluence on the minds and socialmores of the Chinese and other EastAsian peoples.The Chinese Diasporahas created communities in places suchas the USA, Europe, Canada, SouthAmerica andAustralia where peopleare attracted to the Confucian conceptsof loyalty and filial piety.
  • 141. A F T E R C O N F U C I U S143‘All not within the field of the Six Classics shouldbe cut short and not allowed to progress further.’The Six Classics were the ancient books on whichConfucius based his teaching. Dong Zhongshu’sintention was to discourage all other schools andpromote Confucianism as an ideological basis forthe education of officials. At the same time a cultof Confucius was encouraged, Confucian templeswere erected in all towns and for a whileConfucius was widely regarded as a god, but fromthe first century onwards this period ofglorification ended and in later ages, although stillhighly honoured, it was as a great teacher ratherthan a divine being.The downfall of the Han Dynasty at thebeginning of the third century AD was a great blowto Confucianism, since the system of governmentwhich nurtured it was in a state of collapse. Duringthe following four centuries China was dividedpolitically and the new religions of Buddhism andTaoism spread throughout China, adding a newreligious dimension to Chinese life. Buddhism, inparticular, became popular among all strata ofsociety, right up to the imperial court. By the ninthcentury AD it was regarded as a menace toConfucian supremacy, as well as a drain on theexchequer, and severe measures were takento restrict the number of Buddhist monasteriesand temples.NEO-CONFUCIANISMIn the eleventh century an intellectual movementwithin Confucianism sought to counter bothBuddhism and Taoism. This movement is knownin the West as Neo-Confucianism. There wereseveral schools of Neo-Confucianism, but themost influential figure in the movement was ZhuXi (1130–1200) also known as Zhu Zi (MasterZhu). Zhu Xi was a clear thinker who had wideknowledge and a voluminous literary output.His most important contribution was thecommentaries he wrote for the Four Books ofConfucianism: The Analects of Confucius, TheBook of Mencius, The Doctrine of the Mean andThe Great Learning. In 1313 the Emperorordered that these four books should be themain texts used in the state examinations andthat their official interpretation should followZhu Xi’s commentaries.Zhu Xi developed a theory which is known asLi Xue (The Doctrine of Li). According to thistheory every object in the world, whether animateor inanimate, possesses an innate principle or li,which differentiates it from other things. Forexample, the li of a ship enables it to go on waterand the li of a cart enables it to go onland. Similarly human nature is the li ofhumankind, which the Neo-Confucians,like Mencius, thought to be inatelygood, though it could be tarnished byearthly passions. But not only animateand inanimate objects had their li, butalso government and social institutions.Although it was not intended by ZhuXi, this was taken by some to meanthat current institutions wereimmutable. Generally speaking the imposition ofNeo-Confucian orthodoxy during the Yuan,Ming and Qing dynasty had the effect ofobstructing political and intellectual change fromthe fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries.Because of its idealization of the past andespousal by those in society opposed to change,Confucianism lost its status as a state orthodoxyearly in the twentieth century, though itcontinues to exert an influence on the minds andsocial mores of the Chinese and other East Asianpeoples. The concepts of loyalty and filial piety,which Confucians have promoted through thecenturies, are still very much alive.Confucius based his teaching onsix classic books: the Yi(Changes), Shi (Odes), Shu(History), Li (Rites), Yue (Music)and Chun Qiu (Springs andAutumns). In the second centuryBC these were reduced to five, theBook of Music having been lost.The first three of these books weredignified by the addition of theword jing (classic): Yi Jing, Shi Jingand Shu Jing.The Analects of Confuciusmentions both the Book of Historyand the Book of Odes, the formeronlytwicebutthelattertwentytimes.The Book of Odes contains 305songs, including dynastic hymnssung at the early Zhou court andpoems akin to folk songs, includingsome love songs, from the variousstates of the middle Zhou period.According to Confucian traditionthey were collected and edited byConfucius himself, but this isdoubtful. Confucius certainly lovedthem, knew many of them by heart,and he could probably sing them. Herecommended them to his studentsbecause it would teach them aboutthe customs of other states, to liveharmoniously with other people, andprovide an outlet for their emotions.TheBookofChangesisamanualofdivination which originated in theZhou court and was later added to byConfucian scholars. The system itused was based on the manipulationofyarrowstalkstoform64hexagramscorresponding to all the structuresandchangesoftheuniverse.The Book of History is an assortedcollection of official documentsdating from the early Zhou period,most of which were of little interestto Confucius. Springs and Autumnswere the annals of Confucius’ ownstate of Lu, in which the daily eventsof the period from 722 to 481 BC arerecorded. Confucius is said to havecompiled this book himself, thoughthere is no evidence for this.THE CONFUCIAN CLASSICS
  • 142. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S144HINDUISM HAS AN enormouscollection of texts as its basis whichwere conceived many thousands ofyears ago in the Sanskrit language – the root ofall modern Indian languages. These were notactually written down until relatively moderntimes but were passed down by learned rishis orsages who realized these teachings. There was nosingle author of these teachings and they werealso compiled by various different rishis.These Hindu scriptures contain systematicexplanations on various subjects includingscience, religion, metaphysics (first principles),philosophy and spiritual knowledge. They arenot limited to a few books because Hinduismis not confined to a single set of ideas and soH I N D U I S MFoundations of HinduismThe word Hindu is derived from the name given to the people who settled onthe banks of the river Sindhu (Indus in northern India).The name was corruptedto Hindu over the course of time, and so their system of beliefs was given thename Hinduism. Hinduism is regarded as the most ancient living world religion,being over 5,000 years old. It originated on the subcontinent of India but itsuniqueness lies in the fact that it was not based upon or started by any onesingle individual, and its origins cannot be traced back to any particularhistorical period. Hinduism is regarded as a way of life, not just a religion.It leaves itself open to different interpretations and views which have led tothe diverse cultural groups of Hindus that can be found around the world.UjjayiniKausambi RajagrhaPataliputraVaisaliKusinagaraAyodhyaSravastiMathuraTaxilaCharsada YoniYamunaprabhavaRenukatirthaKuruksetra Ganga SangamaKubjamrakaDvaravatiPrabhasaSuraparakaArdubaGangasagara-sangamaVirajaOmkaraGayaKalanjaraKasi VaranasiGomatai-GangaCitrakutaSrngaverapuraAyodhya/Gopratara Kalika-sangamaPuskaraNaimisaSalagramaPrthadakaLankaPancavatiMithilaSutiksana-asramaAgastya-asramaKailasaBharadvaja-asramaAgastya-asramaSutiksana-asramaAtri-asramaSarbhanga-asramaMandaragiriBay of BengalA r a b i a n S e aHimalayasIndusIndusSutlejGangesapproximate extent of finds of:Painted Grey ware, 1000–500 BCNorthern Black Polished ware,500–100 BCEarly northern cities, 500 BCHindu places of pilgrimage (Mahabharata)Cities (Ramayana)Asramas (Ramayana)Foundations of HindiusmLittle is known for certain about theorigins of Hinduism. It is believed to belinked to early cult practice, but it isknown that it spread through Indiaduring the Vedic period.The spread ofVedic culture can be followed usingthe evidence of the discovery ofceramics in northern and central India.The religion was further developedduring the Epic period when two ofHinduism’s greatest epic poems, theMahabharata and the Ramayana,were composed.These both containreferences to locations throughoutIndia which have since become placesof pilgrimage.
  • 143. F O U N D A T I O N S O F H I N D U I S M145the scriptures have become a home for manydifferent schools of thought. They are theproduct of relentless investigations into thefacts and truths of life carried out bythe ancient sages of India. They are dividedinto two main categories: Shruti (‘thatwhich is heard’) and Smriti (‘that whichis remembered’).THE SHRUTISThese deal with the never-changing, eternalprinciples of Hinduism. Shrutis consist of theVedas, which are the root of the Hindu religionand are possibly the oldest books in the world.There are four Vedas:• Rig Veda – deals with general knowledge,and is the longest of the Vedas;• Sama Veda – deals with knowledge ofworship (upasana) and is also the originatorof Indian Classical Music;• Yajur Veda – deals with knowledge ofaction (karma)• Atharva Veda – deals with knowledge ofscience, and other miscellaneous subjectsThere are also the Upanishads, of whichthere are approximately 108. These areknown as Vedanta (‘the end of the Vedas’)They were written to make understanding ofthe Vedas easier. They contain the essence ofthe Vedas and also conclusions from them(hence the name Vedanta). There are manydialogues between students and their gurusor teachers in the Upanishads and thisobviously simplifies the principles which arelaid down in the Vedas so that the studentcan understand.THE SMRITISThese explain the practical applications of theeternal principles described in the Shrutis. Theydetail social and moral codes in the 18 Smritis,the most famous of which was written byManu which explains the four stages of life andthe division of labour through a class system.Manu was a great rishi (master), who lived inan era preceding that of the Ramayana andMahabharata as there are references to Manuin these scriptures.There is also advice for rulers on policies,laws and codes of conduct (Niti Shastras andKautilya Shastra). Medicinal science (AyurVeda), military science (Dhanur Veda), musicalscience (Gandharva Veda) and mechanicalscience (Shilpa Shastra) are all explained in detail.The Smritis also contain the Puranas, ofwhich there are 18 major ones. These are a seriesof myths and legends, as well as the stories ofgreat men which were designed to simplifyreligious teaching for the benefit of the people.However what is most famous about the Smritisis the two great epic poems, the Ramayana andthe Mahabharata. The characters described inthese epics give a set of ideals to which a personcan aspire and so they display the perfectexamples of kindness, nobility and faithfulnesswhich are intended to inspire the reader.The Mahabharata contains the famoussection known as the Bhagavad Gita, which isthe essence of the Vedas and the Upanishads,which have been beautifully condensed into700 concise shlokas (verses). It is renowned asthe jewel of ancient India’s spiritual wisdom,and was spoken by Lord Krishna (anincarnation of Vishnu) on the great battlefieldof the Mahabharata.One popular theory suggests thatNorthern India was invaded by Aryans ataround 2000 to 1500 BC, and their culturemerged with that of the Dravidian tribeswho were living there at the time, to formslowly into more modern Hinduism.However, this is contested by manyscholars because scriptures such as theVedas say that India was the immemorialhome of the Aryans. Archeologicalevidence suggests that writing andsilvercraft was being used in 7000 BC, thusimplying that there was a greatly advancedcivilization existing in India at this time.THE ORIGINS OF HINDUISMThe most important and famousHindu Scriptures. There are manymore which have not been mentionedhere but it is possible to see the largefoundation which Hinduism has.HINDU SCRIPTURESSHRUTIS(Dealing with eternalprinciples)THE 108UPANISHADSTHE VEDAS(Rig, Sama,Yajur,Atharva)PURANS (MYTHOLOGY)18 Main Puranas(inc. Shrimad Bhagavat)46 Up PuranasUPA-VEDASAyur Veda (medicine)Dhanur Veda (military science)Gandharva Veda (music)Shilpa Shastras (mechanics andarchitecture)DHARMA SHASTRAS (LAW CODES)Niti Shastras (Rules and regulations)18 Smitras (eg. Manusmriti – detailingsocial and moral codes)Kautilya Shastra (economics, politicsand law)ITHASAS (EPICS)RamayanaMahabharata (inc.Bhagavad Gita)MAJOR OFFSHOOTSBuddhismJainismSikhismMODERNWritings for:SwarminarayanKrishna ConsciousnessArya Samaj(and many other groups)AGAMAS (GUIDANCEFOR IMAGE WORSHIP)VaishnavaShaivaShaktaSMRITIS(Dealing with thepractical application ofthese principles)
  • 144. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S146THERE ARE DIFFERENT schools ofthought about the nature of Brahman.Among these are three main ones.Shankara charya is the upholder of attributelessBrahman i.e. there is only one Brahman and theindividual soul is also Brahman, with maya (thematerial world) being an illusion or a dreamworldof Brahman. This philosophy is termed absolutenon-dualism. Ramanuja charya stood forBrahman as being full of attributes: He is the oceanof wisdom, bliss and grace. Maya is a power ofBrahman and is a part of him. The individual soulis also a small part of Brahman, and whenexperiencing bliss can be said to be the same asBrahman. This is qualified non-dualism. Madhavacharya said that in Brahman there are bothaspects. He is attributeless as well as full ofattributes. Also, the individual soul is limited andis under the influence of maya; while Brahman isall powerful, all pervading and all knowing, andmaya is subject to Him. Therefore the individualsoul should always try to seek God. Thisphilosophy is termed dualism. There are all thesedifferent views, which may cause confusion, butthe Upanishads also declare that self-realization isthe supreme unity, and in it alone all differencesare harmonized.FUNDAMENTAL HINDU CONCEPTSLife is a long journey back to the creator,‘interrupted’ by death for the person’s owngood, to continue the journey in another body.This concept of rebirth is explained simply byLord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita as follows:‘As a man leaves an old garment and puts onone that is new, the spirit leaves his mortalbody and then puts on one that is new.’The law of karma is the concept that ‘As yousow, so shall you reap.’ Therefore action andreaction (on a physical, mental and spirituallevel) are equal and opposite. Karma is what aperson does, what a person thinks, and evenwhat a person does not do. The results of one’sactions in one life can also be carried over to thenext, which can affect one’s fortunes dependingon the individual’s past actions.MOKSHAMoksha is the goal of life for all Hindus.Moksha means total freedom from all pain andsuffering. It is the mind which is said to be thecause of suffering, or freedom from suffering. Ifa state of mind is reached when one is able totranscend the pains and the pleasures of life,when one’s will merges with the will of God,then that person has attained Moksha and isMajor Beliefs and Concepts of HinduismIt is a commonly held belief that Hindus worship many Gods. However, God in Hinduism isthought of as Brahman – theAbsolute.This is to say a being without form who pervadeseverything, is present everywhere, is all-knowing, is all-powerful and who transcends timeand space.This is the Nirguna (attributeless) Brahman.There is another aspect of God,and this is Saguna (with attributes) Brahman.Everything can be sacrificedfor truth, but truth cannotbe sacrificed for anything.SwamiVivekananda (1863–1902)
  • 145. M A J O R B E L I E F S A N D C O N C E P T S O F H I N D U I S M147free from the cycle of births and deaths. Thisjoining oneself with God is called yoga.This science of yoga, consisting of differentpaths, has been beautifully explained in theBhagavad Gita: e.g. in Chapter 2.50 ShreeKrishna says ‘Yogah Karmashu Kaushalam’,meaning ‘devote yourself to yoga-divineunion’. Skilfulness and excellence in action isyoga; all activities performed with God-consciousness is the supreme yoga. Thesubdivisions are as follows:Karma Yoga (the Path of Action) is that if aperson acts with his or her mind fixed onBrahman (God) he or she will become freeand at peace. The results of one’s actionsshould be offered up to God in order tobecome one with Him.Jnana Yoga (the Way of Knowledge) isachieved through study, meditation andcontemplation.Bhakti Yoga (the Way of Devotion) isworshipping God through a particular imageor form, and keeping one’s mind constantlyupon God by prayer and devotion.Mantra Yoga uses chants of the all-pervadingsound ‘Aum’ with the name of one’schosen deity.Raja Yoga (the Path of Dedication) focuseson control of the mind, often throughmeditation, or pranic (life-force breathing),which allows one to commune with God.Most seekers practise some or a combination ofall these paths to succeed. However it is HathaYoga (physical postures and breathing exercises,regarded as the first stage to reach God) which ispractised with considerable interest in the West.This is not to be confused with the other formsof yoga, although good health is the firstrequirement if one is to attain moksha.Just as an acorn seed has the potential of ahuge oak tree, so does this symbol hide thepotential to give us meaning and direction inlife.The scriptures say ‘In the beginning wasthe word’. This word is Aum. This sound isthe music of the spheres in the galaxy.Thisshort word is the primal sound and it is saidto emanate from the right side of the brain,and pervade down the spine and through thewhole body.The seeker tries to chant ‘Aum’to perfection for full purification of the mindand subsequent realization.Yogis hear thissound when they are sitting in meditationtotally at peace.The Katha Upanishads say‘The Goal which all the Vedas declare,which all the austerities aim at and whichmen desire when they lead a life ofcontinence I will tell you briefly: IT ISAUM.’Nearly all chants or mantras have Aum infront of them.All seekers of truth try to tunein with the cosmic sound ofAum because itis the voice of God. It is declared in theVedas to be the only support for reaching upto theAbsolute.AUM
  • 146. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S148The many manifestations of God give thedifferent aspects of the Absolutethrough which He can be reached. TheAbsolute controls the universe through threemajor qualities, regarded as the Trinity orTrimurti of Hinduism:• Brahma – The Creator• Vishnu – The Preserver• Shiva – The DestroyerAll three of these are inseparable and operatesimultaneously. The function of Brahma is tocreate through the will of God. Vishnu in turnpreserves what is created, and to that end he issaid to have incarnated on earth during variousstages of humanity’s evolution to destroy eviland re-establish righteousness. Shiva isregarded as the destroyer, for he is believed toperiodically destroy the worldwhen evil has prevailed, so that itmight be recreated in its pureform. In temples he is worshippedin the phallic form of a Shivalingam which represents theindefinable nature of the Absolute.His physical form is that of anascetic (one who has given up theworld and its pleasures); and his ash-covered body serves to remind all thatthe body eventually ends up as ash.THE DIVINE MOTHERThe female aspect of God is afundamental part of Hinduism and theall-compassionate form of the Divine Mother isvery dear to all Hindus. There are manydifferent female deities.Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, representsthe power of knowledge, best utilized to findGod. The symbols used for gaining knowledgeare rosary beads, books and music. Her whitesari signifies purity of motive to gain knowledge.The consort of Vishnu, Lakshmi, is thegoddess of wealth. She is said to haveaccompanied Vishnu in his avatars (e.g. as Sitawhen he incarnated as Rama). She is seenstanding on a lotus flower. The lotus grows inmuddy waters yet is beautiful; similarlyhumanity needs to learn to live in this harshworld with detachment from its surroundings.Parvati, the consort of Shiva, is morecommonly worshipped as the destructive form ofthe Mother Goddess, called Durga or Kali. She iscalled upon to destroy evil in times of need and togive protection to good people. Her form, ridingupon a tiger and holding symbols of power in hereight hands emphasizes this purpose.THE AVATARS OFVISHNUVishnu is thought to have incarnated nine timesalready upon the earth, in various differentforms, to save humanity from evil. His mostHindu Gods and GoddessesThose who are beginning on a path of spiritualism cannotimmediately embrace the concept of theAbsolute or Brahman.It is much easier to contemplate a physical manifestation of God,and use that as a means to concentrate and focus one’s mind.That only which we have within,can we see without. If we meetno Gods, it is because weharbour none.Ralph Waldo Emerson,in Worship (1803–82)
  • 147. H I N D U G O D S A N D G O D D E S S E S149famous incarnations for Hindus are as Ramaand Krishna, the central characters in the epicsRamayana and Mahabharata respectively.They have a rich cultural significance andprovide models for society. Therefore Vishnu isworshipped mainly through the forms ofthese incarnations.However the Buddha, progenitor ofBuddhism, and Mahavira, founder of Jainism,are also believed to be his incarnations whocame at times when society needed rejuvenation.There is a tenth Avatar of Vishnu called Kalkiwho will come at a future time to save mankindand to promote righteousness.SANTS (SAINTS)All Hindus look upon saints as a reflection ofGod. The saint would have many of the qualitiesthat one would associate with God. India hasproduced many saints or masters who would fitthis description. Among them are Guru Nanak,the founder of Sikhism, RamakrishnaParamahansa, Sai Baba and ChaintanyaMahabrabhu. Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhuwas a great saint born in 1542. He propoundedthe message of devotion to Lord Krishna.According to him, glorifying the divine namesand attributes of Lord Krishna through chantingis the supreme means of salvation.Chanting the name of the Lord is theessence of all teachings and is the only meansof salvation in this present age called KaliYuga. Swami Prabhupada, the follower ofChaitanya Mahaprabhu and founder of theHare Krishna movement (short for the termInternational Society for KrishnaConsciousness, or ISKCON), brought theseteachings to the West. It is a common site to seea group of devotees (many wearing saffronrobes) on the streets chanting the famousMaha (Great) Mantra:Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama HareHare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna KrishnaKrishna Hare HareRecently, Paramhansa Yogananda (authorof Autobiography of a Yogi) has rekindled theteachings of Lord Krishna as Kriya Yoga(i.e. yoga of spiritual practices) in the West, andparticularly in the United States.The birth and early life of Lord Krishna is fully narratedin the Srimad Bhagavatam, written by Veda Vyasa, agreat sage – regarded as the literary incarnation of God,as his ultimate spiritual fulfilment. An avatar ofVishnu,Lord Krishna was born in a prison but was movedovernight to safety to the village of Gokul. Hindusconsider Lord Krishna as a full manifestation of God’sconsciousness. His lila (‘cosmic play’) in the first 12years of his life is the most profound. In his company allthe villagers experienced the love of God. Lord Krishna’slife mission had to continue and he moved to Mathura,where he killed the evil king Kansa and released hisparents from prison. Finally, in the great symbolic battleof Kurukshetra (narrated in the Mahabharata) betweenthe forces of good and evil, Lord Krishna became thecentral character. The revelation of the Bhagavad Gitaon the battlefield was a crucial part of the fulfilment ofhis mission on earth.The Vedas are too complex for theordinary man and the Gita as its summary is beautifullygiven to Arjuna, the ideal disciple (the individual soul)by Lord Krishna (the spiritual Godhead) overflowingwith compassion.THE LIFE OF LORD KRISHNA
  • 148. W O R L D R E L I G I O N STHE FIRST, or student, stage(Brahmacharya) is for good education,self discipline, learning about one’sdharma (a person’s rightful duty to self, familyand society) and laying a good foundation tolife for being physically and mentally strong forthe future.Entering the family life (Grihasta) is thesecond stage. Life is not complete withoutmarriage and children. A loving caring familyenvironment enables one to serve others,including the community and the nation. Thisstage of life allows the acquiring of materialpossessions for comfortable living andenjoyment of worldly happiness through thesatisfaction of man’s natural desires.The third stage is retirement (Vanaprastha).Once the children are all settled one can startwithdrawing oneself from worldly desiresand attachments to devote more time tospiritual pursuits.The final stage is Sanyasa (preparing formoksha) when one renounces all desires,possessions and needs, spending every momentin meditation. There are some who take up thisstage from a young age, even before marriage, tospend the rest of their lives in pursuitof self-realization. It is the duty of theGrihasta to provide for the day-to-dayneeds of the sanyasi.HINDU SAMSKARASWithin the above-mentioned four stages(from birth to death) there are 16Samskaras (sacraments). Apart from thefuneral sacraments all the others are causes forcelebration. Friends and relations are invited, fedand entertained with dance and music. While someof the 16 are rarely practised nowadays, the mainones are as follows:• The birth ceremony. This simply consists ofwelcoming the child into the world bygiving it a taste of honey and whispering thename of God into its ear. The namingceremony is performed a few days later.• The sacred thread ceremony. Some familiesstill perform this ceremony, where the childis ‘initiated’ and given a sacred mantra orname of God to chant regularly.• The Hindu marriage. This is a sacred step inone’s spiritual growth as one enters the secondstage of life. Puja is offered to Ganesha,Hindu LifeHuman life is considered a journey to meet with the creator, yet humandesires need to be fulfilled along the way.The Hindu way of lifecombines both these needs in the four stages (ashrams) of life.150A S I AA F R I C AA U S T R A L I AN O R T HA M E R I C AE U R O P EIndian OceanPacific OceanS O U T HA M E R I C AAtlanticOceanPacific OceanHinduism WorldwideColonial Migrations, nineteenthto early twentieth centuryPost-colonial MigrationsWorld Total – 811 million75% +50–74%25–49%15–24%11–15%6–10%1–5%Less than 1%GrenedaConcentration of Hindus worldwide,by percentage of populationFijiHinduism WorldwideHinduism and its associated way oflife was once confined to India andthe subcontinent. However, asmigration of people and ideasbecame commonplace in thenineteenth and twentieth centuries,during the colonial and post-colonialeras, the religion spread throughoutthe world.The map shows the spreadof Hinduism and the number offollowers around the world.
  • 149. H I N D U L I F E151Vishnu and the God of Fire for their presence.The bride and groom meet under a decoratedcanopy (mandap) and garland each other. Thevows are taken by going round a fire in themandap in the presence of the guests, thepriests and God. There are four (or in someregions, seven) vows taken as per therequirements of the second stage in life.The bridegroom’s parents bless the coupleand offer gifts to the bride. All thoseassembled shower flowers and blessings onthe couple, completing the marriage.• The final Samskara is after death. Hindusbelieve that the atman (soul) never dies, onlythe body. The body is bathed, clothed andbrought home. The last rites are performedsymbolically, offering food and clothing forcontinuation of the onward journey. The bodyis usually cremated in the presence of a largegathering. Prayers for the peace of thedeparted are offered for 11 to 12 days beforethe final concluding rite. The ashes that arecollected are dispersed in flowing waters.MAIN PHILOSOPHIES OF WORSHIPHindus can worship the deity of their choice. Inthe path of devotion, those who see God as theDivine Mother and worship all the female formsas one, are called Shaktas. Those who worshipShiva as the all-pervading God are known asSaivas and those who worship Vishnu (usuallyas Lord Krishna) are Vaishnavas. The Agamasare the writings which deal with all aspects ofthese philosophies.THE CASTE SYSTEMThousands of years ago a Varna, or class,system was introduced into Hindu society, inorder to give it a strong infrastructure. Eachperson was put into one of the four classesaccording to the role in society they couldbest perform.• Brahmins: those who took tolearning and impartedknowledge and spiritualguidance to others;• Kshatriyas: those who were todefend and protect society(as warriors and lawmakers);• Vaishyas: those who providedfor the material needs of thepeople, especially food;• Sudras: those who servedthe community.Originally all the classes were equal, but thesystem slowly became corrupt, as the classbegan to be determined by birth, or caste,rather than personal qualities. This causeddiscrimination and created divisions in society.However, in modern times, through the effortsof Mahatma Gandhi and many otherenlightened Hindus, the system has beenoutlawed, and although its influence is stillstrong, Hindu society is being reoriented.Ganesh or Ganapati (meaning‘leader of men’) is the son ofShiva and Parvati. He is the firstone to be worshipped during anyritual as he is considered theremover of obstacles. Themystical form with the elephanthead is very symbolic andsignifies the qualities requiredfor leadership which arebig ears (be a goodlistener), and a long nose(be aware of what is goingon around you). Hisbroken tusk signifiesknowledge and the wholetusk means faith. Onlyfaith will reveal to one themystery of the form (orAbsolute God). Ganeshis very popular withHindus and is on the frontof all wedding invitations.The story of the losing ofthe original head andacquiring of the elephanthead is narrated in detailin Ganesh Puran. ShreeGanesh explains this event as hisown lila (‘cosmic play’) with thedual purpose of inspiring man tohave a growing compassion forthe animal kingdom and to fulfilthe wishes of the aggrievedmother, for Ganesh to beaccepted by all as the first one tobe always worshipped.GANESH
  • 150. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S152WHILE THE TEMPLES in India areusually dedicated to one deity,those around the world (in theWest) have evolved to keep all the major deitiesin one temple. This is so that a smallercommunity of devotees will all be able to find thedeity of their choice to which they can offer theirprayers while also being able to pay theirrespects to the other deities in the temple.PUJA (WORSHIP)The temple is meant to reflect the humanbody. It has an outer structure with shrines,inside which the deities reside. The humanbody is an outer casing inside which Godresides, in the form of the atman or soul.The deities in a temple are regarded as livingentities after installation ceremonies, and theresident priest has to look after them as such (i.e.wake them, bathe them, put clothes on them, offerthem food and put them to sleep). Some devoteesvisit the temple regularly, others when they havethe time or on special occasions. They offer puja(worship) collectively with the priest during thedaily service and also partly by themselvesindividually in a number of different ways:• The devotee touches the floor as he entersthe temple.• Shoes are removed, as one is treading onholy ground.• The bell in front of the shrine is rung tomake him (the devotee) wake up to the factthat he is in the presence of God.• The devotee stands with folded hands infront of the shrine as he says his prayers,or in some cases he may prostrate himselfon the floor to display his total submissionto God.• He may offer fruits, flowers, dried fruit ormilk by leaving it in front of the shrineas thanksgiving.• The devotee continues his prayers as hecircumnavigates the shrine in a clockwisedirection. The shrines are built specificallyto facilitate this. This ritual has a deepmeaning. Just as the earth goes around thesun, its sustainer, the devotee remindshimself that God is his sustainer, and thecentre of his life.Hindu Places of Worship(mandir)A mandir or temple is a Hindu place of worship.While most Hindushave a shrine in their own home to worship the deity of their choice,a (purpose-built) temple for the whole community has greatimportance. It serves as a centre where God is worshipped in thepresence of a congregation. Many festivals, religious events and regularceremonies are held with great enthusiasm, to create a religiousatmosphere which encourages the mind to turn towards God for real peace.GulfofCoromandelMalabarCoastI n d i a nO c e a nYamunaGumtiGograGangesHimalayasMahanadGodavariKrishnaTaptiNarmadaWesternGhatsEasternGhatsAjantaHillsChambalCeylonTIBETArabiaB a y o fB e n g a lRAJASTHANPlaces associated with VisnuPlaces associated with ShivaSacred bathing sitesHindu Places of WorshipSRILANKAKERALATAMILNADUKARNATAKAANDHRAPRADESHMAHARASHTRAORISSAGUJARATMADHYA PRADASHBIHARWESTBENGALUTTARPRADESHI N D I AHindu Places of WorshipPilgrimages to shrines or sacred sitesare very important within the Hindutradition. Ceremonies are held withgreat enthusiasm in order to createa religious atmosphere whichencourages the mind to turn to God.The map shows various holy placeswithin India.
  • 151. H I N D U P L A C E S O F W O R S H I P ( M A N D I R )153The offering of food to the deities is followed bya devotional song usually expressing the idea, ‘OGod, you have made everything, but pleaseaccept my humble offering to you.’ At othertimes (usually two to three times a day) there isthe arti ceremony. This is performed by the priest,who, using cotton wicks and clarified butter,lights five lamps in a plate – the arti plate. Aseveryone present sings a prayer the priest rotatesthe arti in a clockwise direction in front of eachdeity. When the prayer has been completed eachperson present places their right hand over thelamps and proffer it to their foreheads, thusreceiving the light of God. All the offered food isnow collected and distributed amongst thedevotees as prasad (blessed food). The prasad isreceived by the devotees as a part of God’s grace.Many Hindus offer puja and arti regularly, or atleast light a diva (a small, sacred lamp) in themorning or at twilight.PUJA ON SPECIAL OCCASIONSDevotees come to offer puja with the help of thepriest on occasions such as:• A newly married couple who will come tothe temple to seek God’s blessing for thesuccess of their marriage.• A newly born baby (approximately onemonth old) will be brought to the temple asits first excursion out of the home, by theparents, accepting the baby as a gift of God.• After successful completion of a fast forfamily protection and prosperity.• To ask for the recovery from illness of aloved one, or for other similar occasions.KALASHAThe kalasha consists of a clay or copper potfilled with water with its mouth surrounded byleaves and covered by a coconut. The pot itselfsymbolizes the physical human body, the waterinside representing the ‘water of life’ or theindividual soul.On all auspicious occasions puja of the kalashais performed first. Prayers are offered to Varuna,Lord of Water, that all the holy waters of the sacredrivers be present in the kalasha. Water (being thegreatest purifier) is then sprinkled on all thedevotees for their purification and protection. Thewater in the kalasha is usually from one of thesacred rivers in India.When the kalasha is moved from one placeto another it is always carried on top of the head,giving it the highest position in all respects.Inside temples it sits permanently on the highestspot above the dome of the main shrine.A Mandir is a centre forrealising God.A Mandir is where the mindbecomes still.A Mandir is a place of paramoutpeace.A Mandir inspires a higher wayof life.A Mandir teaches us to respectone another.Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj(b.1921)The cow was perhaps the first animal tobe domesticated by Hindus in India. Itwas a real blessing to the ancient ruralcommunity because it provided milk,from which many other common foodproducts could be made. Cow dungwould also be used as a fuel and couldbe mixed with mud for plastering wallsand floors. On farms, bulls were used toplough the fields as well as being usedfor travel and transport of goods. It ishardly surprising that soon the cowoccupied in the life of man the sameposition as a mother in the life of a child.It became unthinkable to kill and eat theflesh of one. InVedic literature the cowis a symbol of the divine bounty of theearth and the scriptures prohibit theslaughter of cows.This is the reason forthe Hindu reverence for cows, and whyHindus refrain from eating beef. Thisbelief is also designed to encouragepeople not to harm or kill any creature,and so many Hindus are vegetarians.THE SACRED COW
  • 152. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S154Diwali truly reminds us of a rich andexciting tradition and heritage left bythe great teachers of the past. It is afive-day festival. The first three days arededicated to the female deities Mahalaxmi,Mahakali and Mahasaraswati, the goddesses ofwealth, strength and knowledge (the wordmaha means ‘the purest’). Prayers are offered touse these gifts for the highest good of humanity.The fourth day is the Hindu New Year’s Day –a day of forgetting, forgiving and conveyinggood wishes to one and all for a happy andprosperous new year. The fifth day isa demonstration of love between the brotherand the sister with partaking of food togetherand a sharing of gifts.A popular story of Diwali comes from theRamayana, where Lord Rama, the incarnationof Vishnu, goes into exile for 14 years, alongwith his brother and wife, Sita. She is kidnappedby the demon Ravana. However, with the helpof the monkey-god Hanuman, his devotedservant, and the monkey army, Rama killsRavana and rescues Sita. After the 14 years areover he returns to his capital city of Ayodhya,and the people welcome him by lining the streetswith divas, as he returned in the middle of amoonless night.OTHER FESTIVALSNavratri, or the ‘Nine Nights’, festival takesthe form of celebrating by dancing to musicaround images of the Divine Mother. Thedevotees dance by clapping their hands (garba)or by using small sticks (raas). The festivaltakes place to celebrate the victory of theDivine Mother over the demon Mahishasur.The more devout devotees of the DivineMother fast and devote as much time aspossible during the nine days and nights topraying and receiving blessings.Hindu FestivalsThe Hindu Calendar is full of festivals, religious, cultural and social. Some of the Hindu festivals aremulti-purpose e.g. Holi is a religious festival and also a festival welcoming the spring season.Everybody likes festivals because they give relief from the day-to-day routine of life. Festivals canraise new hopes and help people to make spiritual progress.The festivals are varied and colourful andtemples get crowded at these time as people always come (for Darshan) to offer their prayers. Someof the most important festivals are Diwali, Navratri, Janmashtami (birth of Lord Krishna) and Holi.
  • 153. H I N D U F E S T I V A L S155The birthday of Lord Krishna during Augustis celebrated at midnight (Indian Time).Devotees come to do darshan and receive theprivilege of rocking the cradle of baby Krishna.HINDUVALUESTHROUGH FESTIVALSGuru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon dayin around June or July. Puja is offered to VedaVyasa first, the compiler of the Vedas and thewriter of the Mahabharata. Puja is then offered toone’s own guru or spiritual guide (or LordKrishna if one does not have a guru.). This is theonly day when the followers are allowed to givewhatever they want to the guru, who usuallyaccepts it. The concept of the guru being like Godis very important in Hinduism and this festival isintended to encourage this ideal in students.Raksha Bandhan occurs on the next fullmoon (during July or August). The sister ties amulticoloured string – rakhi, on the right wristof the brother. This symbolizes the affectionbetween the sister and brother who in returnpromises to protect her throughout the year.PILGRIMAGEIndia is thought of as the holy land of all Hindus.Temples, rivers, mountains, cities and other holyplaces are reminders of historical events from thescriptures or of saints and sages who lived up tothe teachings of the scriptures. During pilgrimagewhatever one’s status, the simplest living andhighest thinking are of the essence. Any difficultiesencountered are considered as a test of one’sstrength of will for the success of the pilgrimage.Pilgrimage may be for the fulfilment of a vow or asa result of a birth or death in a family.The River Ganges is revered as ‘MotherGanga’ and the devotees have faith that bathingin the holy river will wash away their sins. Theriver’s forceful and destructive flow from theheavens is believed to be halted through flowingfirst into the matted locks of Lord Shiva and thenletting it flow more gently for the benefit ofmankind. The Kumbha Mela, a gathering of allHindus, at Allahabad on the banks of theGanges is held every 12 years, and is the biggestgathering of people that takes place in the world.The most recent took place in January 2001.The diva is very important to Hindus in thetemple and particularly at Diwali orDeepavali (which means ‘festival oflights’). The poet Rabindranath Tagore(Nobel prize winner) summarizesbeautifully the depth of its significancefor humanity:Who will take up my work?asks the setting sun.None has an answer,in the whole silent world,An earthen lamp says humblyfrom a cornerI will my Lord,as best I can!The sun here represents Brahman andthe little lamp represents the individualsoul. The message is that if the sun lightsthe whole world, then each individualsoul should accept responsibility to lightthe four walls of his or her home, be hefather, mother, son, daughter, etc. Acaring, loving family unit is the buildingblock to serve our human family with Godas our father and mother.DIVA
  • 154. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S156Every manufacturer of complex equipmentunderstands the need to provide guidanceon how optimum operational efficiencyis to be achieved. It therefore needs littleimagination to understand why the Creatorneeds to provide guidance for the successfulexistence of humanity. For, in addition to beingresponsible for their own lives, human beings areresponsible for care of the environment uponwhich their, and all other life depends. TheCreator’s guidance is thus all-embracing.ALLAHWhilst the word ‘Creator’ describes one Divineattribute, the Arabic name Allah represents thetotality of the attributes of the DivinePerfection of Existence.Islamic teaching begins with Adam u, theancestor of Homo sapiens, who is the firstprophet whom Allah guided. Integral to Adam’sguidance was confirmation that subsequentgenerations would also be guided. Islamic beliefis that 124,000 prophets were sent to ensure thatall nations and tribes would benefit. This istremendously important if humanity is to beheld accountable for its actions. How couldpeople, who had not received clear guidance,possibly be held accountable? Therefore everyprophet taught that people should only worshipthe Divine Perfection of Existence, and shouldbehave decently towards one another.Allah’s final Prophet, Muhammad Mustafaz, was sent to confirm and re-establish theguidance of previous prophets, and to ensurethat Allah’s guidance would remain available forall people until the end of human life on earth.The word ‘Islam’ has more than onemeaning. It may reflect dependence on, and/or,willingness to yield or submit to Divinesupremacy. As everything in the heavens and onthe earth depends on Allah for its existence andcontinued life, all things may be described asbeing in a state of islam or dependence. Anespecially respected Christian, who isacknowledged as being truly sincere anddevout, may also be described as havingsubmitted, and thus ‘In islam withinChristianity’. Only when Islam is written with acapital I, does it specifically refer to those whodeclare that they accept no divinity other thanAllah, and that they sincerely intend always tostrive and follow the guidance which Allahrevealed through His final Prophet Muhammadz. If practices of other religions differ fromthese, it is because they have, in some way,become diluted or modified.Allah’s GuidanceThe core of Islamic belief is the ‘Oneness’ of the Divine Perfection ofExistence.The Divine, who does not depend on any for existence, isconstant, unchanging, reliable and thus, the only Reality. It is impossiblefor ephemeral, perishable creation to resemble the Creator on whom itdepends for its very existence.I S L A MAD630E G Y P TA R A B I AS A S A N I A NE M P I R ED e a dS e aM e d i t e r r a n e a nS e aB Y Z A N T I N EE M P I R EN U B I A N S T A T E SNileRedSeaA R A B I A ND E S E R TAilaYanbuMutaJerusalemAl-UlaPetraS I N A ITabukMadain SalihYathrib (Madinah)BadrQudaydJuhfaAmajDawmat al JandalFadakTaymaTaifHunaynMakkahJeddaHudaybiyahUsfanKhaybarUhudPALESTINEAD630AD624AD625AD630AD629The Early Spread of Islamroute of armymain routehijrahbattle, with datepact of Hudaybiyah, AD 628Jews expulsionThe Early Spread of IslamIn AD 622 Muhammad z and hisfollowers migrated from Makkah toMadinah.This departure (or hijrah)came to mark the beginning of theMuslim era.At Madinah, Muhammadz organized his followers into adynamic socio-political group, whoseauthority was by his death extendedover much of the Arabian peninsula.
  • 155. A L L A H ’ S G U I D A N C EPOLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL ANDRELIGIOUS CONDITIONS IN ARABIAOther than in the Yemen, there was no politicalorganisation in the Arabia of the late sixth andearly seventh centuries ad. There were villages,a few towns and a small number of Jewishand Christiansettlements, butnomads roamedmost of the land.No law or legalstructure existedand the onlyrestraint on peoplewas fear ofvendetta. Tribalhonour meantmembers wereprotected whatevertheir crime, acondition whichresulted in incessantwarring. Moralauthority was onlya c k n o w l e d g e dwhen charismaticleadership wasrespected. Whilemost worshipped idols, a few still clung to themonotheism brought by Ibrahim u. Womenhad no status and female infants weresometimes buried alive. Notwithstanding itsilliteracy, Arab society esteemed oratory andparticularly valued poetry.157Throughout this section you will seecolophons of the Arabic terms of respectused by Muslims:zSallalahu Alayhi wa aalihi wa SalaamMay Allah’s greetings and blessings beupon him & his progeny(used immediately after referring to theProphet Muhammad)x Alayha al-SalaamPeace be upon her(used immediately after referring toKhadijah, Fatimah, Zaynab & Maryam)7 Alayhi al-SalaamMay Allah bless him(used immediately after referring to asingle Imam or Prophet)8 Alayhima al-SalaamMay Allah bless them(used immediately after referring totwo Imams or two Prophets)- Alayhum al-SalaamMay Allah bless them(used immediately after referring tothree or more Imams or Prophets)= Rahimahu AllahMay Allah grant him mercy(used immediately after referringto a single deceased andrespected person)4 Rahimahum AllahMay Allah grant them mercy(used immediately referring todeceased and respected people)1 Quddisa SirrohMay his soul be blessed(used immediately after referringto a single deceased andrespected scholar)0 Quddisa SirrohumaMay their souls be blessed(used immediately after referringto two deceased and respectedscholars)2 Radi Allahu anhuMay Allah be pleased with him(used after referring to a respectedcompanion of the Prophet orthe Imams)COLOPHONS
  • 156. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S158Abdullah, Muhammad’s 24-year oldfather, had to travel to Syria on businessshortly after his newly wedded wifeAminah had conceived. On his return journey hecontracted a fatal illness and died. Muhammad’sinheritance from his estate is recorded as beingfive camels and ten sheep.THE LIFE OFTHE PROPHETMUHAMMAD zAccording to his family, Muhammad z wasborn after sunrise on Friday the 17th of Rabi’ulAwwal in the year AD 570; others claim itwas on Monday the 12th of that month.Until the official naming, seven days after birth,his mother called him Ahmad. However, atthe naming, witnessed by the assembledHashemite clan, his grandfather, the clan’sleader, gave him the name Muhammad, whichmeans ‘praiseworthy’.It was customary for children of Makkannobility to be entrusted to wet-nurses wholived in the country, away from contagiousdiseases and pollution. There, they could drawbenefit from the fresh desert air, learntraditional customs, culture and the purestform of indigenous Arabic. In accordance withthis practice, Muhammad z was fostered byHalimah, of the Bani Sa’d tribe. Due to acholera epidemic, he could not be returnedto his mother after the suckling period, andit was five years before he finally returnedto Makkah.A short time later, Abdullah’s widow tookher son to Yathrib, to visit his father’s lastresting place. On the journey back,Muhammad z tragically lost his mother.After her death, the household of his paternalgrandfather, Abd al-Muttalib, became home tothe orphaned six-year-old child.The Early Years of the ProphetMuhammad zThe Messenger enjoins them to do good and forbids them from evil. He makes all good things lawfuland prohibits only those which are shameful.Those who believe, honour and help him, and areguided by the illumination sent with him, will achieve successExtracted from Qur’an 7:157
  • 157. 159Two years later, when his paternal uncle AbuTalib had inherited the leadership of the BaniHashim clan, Muhammad z became ward anda much-loved member of his household. At 12years old, he accompanied his uncle on a tradingtrip to Syria, a journey which he remembered asbeing his most enjoyable ever.Muhammad z is recorded as being anunassuming youth with honourable bearing andgood character. Reserved and meditative heeschewed the rude sport and profligacy of hiscontemporaries. This won the approval of hisfellow citizens who, by common consent, titledhim The Faithful One – Al-Amin. Respected andhonoured as being both trustworthy andtruthful, he lived a quiet life in the family ofAbu Talib.When Muhammad z was 20, a visitingtrader, cheated of his goods by a resident,remonstrated so poetically and eruditely, that theattention of several young Makkans wascaptured. They, determined to rectify thiswrongdoing, made a covenant betweenthemselves to stand up and protect the rights ofthe oppressed. In due course they reclaimed theunpaid goods and returned them to their owner.Many years later, the Prophet z admitted thathe still remained faithful to that covenant, calledin English, The League of the Virtuous, and saidthat he would never break it, no matter whatinducement was offered. Indeed, the agreementwas so firmly established by all of them, thateven their descendants continued to regardthemselves bound by it.T H E E A R L Y Y E A R S O F T H E P R O P H E T M U H A M M A D zWhen Muhammad z was 25, his uncle learned that thenoble Makkan widow Khadijah x, known alternately asPrincess of Merchants andThe Pure One, was looking fora manager to represent her on the annual Syrian tradeexpedition.When told that Muhammad z would probablyaccept that commission, she sent word that, in view of hisreputation for truthfulness, honesty and trustworthiness,she would offer him double the sum normally paid. Heaccepted, and history records that the enterprise was sosuccessful that she offered him a bonus, in addition totheir agreed terms.This however he declined.It is also recorded that she later let him know that, due tohis status and respect within the community, his evidenthonesty, good manners and truthfulness, she was earnestlyinclined to marry him. He said he would need first to consulthis uncles. In another report, Khadijah’s proposal wasdelivered by one Nafisah who said, ‘O Muhammad, why don’tyou illuminate the night-chamber of your life with the light ofa spouse?Will you respond if I invite you to beauty, wealth,gentleness and respect?’The widowed Lady Khadijah x is reported to have been 40when she entered into this, her last marriage.KHADIJAH x
  • 158. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SRevelation in MakkahThe first words revealed to Muhammad z were:Recite in the name of you Sustainer, who has created humanityfrom a germ-cell.Recite for your Sustainer isThe Most Bountiful One,Who has taught the use of the pen,and taught what humanity had not known.Qur’an 96:1–5To North Africa,France and SpainL I BYAE G Y P TK I N G D O MO F A K S U MB Y Z A N T I N EE MP I R EK H A Z A RE M P I R EA R M E N I AMESOPOTAMIAAZERBAIJANGURGANS Y R I AP A L E S T I N EHEJAZYEMENHADHRAMAUTOMA NB A H R A I NY A M A M AARABIAF A R SKHURASANP E R S I AKIRMANT R A N S O XANIAL i b y a nDesertTaurus MtsCaucasus MtsZagros MtsMe d i t e r r a n e a nS e aRedSeaPersi a nGu lfCaspianSeaAralSeaB l a c k S e aSicilyRhodesCreteCyprusNileDanubeDonTigrisEuphratesOxusTripoliConstantinopleAlexandriaHeliopolisFustat (Cairo)DongolaTarsusAntiochDamascusJerusalemTabukMadinahMakkahAdenNajranErzurumTiflisTabrizJalulaBaghdadCtesiphonKufaMosulDerbentArdabilRaiSusIsfahanPersepolis(Istakhr)NishapurMervHeratBukharaSamarkandBalkhBadrSuhar MuscatHijiEdessaBasra634647717–18643640640670635638680641636637648642656624710 710651N U B I A N S654825649651651AjnadainFihlRamlaYarmukAl QadisiyyaKerbelaNihavand633ASI AMI NORC Y R E N A I C Agrowth under Mohammedgrowth underAbu Bakr (AD 632–34)growth under Omar(AD 634–44)growth under Othman(AD 644–56) and Ali (AD 656–61)expansion of UmayyadCaliphate (AD 661–750)expansion under the earlyAbbasids (AD 750–850)routes of advancedate of Muslim conquest638Islamic Expansion AD 632–850The ‘Mount of Light’ is an almost sterilehill of black stone a few miles north-eastof Makkah. From the top of its northernside, one may enter the outer part of a small caveHira which, for a few feet, is just high enough tostand up in. For several years it had beenMuhammad’s practice, every now and then, toseclude himself there for a day or so. On suchoccasions his young cousin would bring himwater and food. It was during one of thesesojourns that revelation first occurred: the orderto recite or formally announce, in the name ofthe One who Creates and sustains all life, theguidance that was to be revealed to him. Inaddition, he had to commit it to writing fortransmission to later generations and differentcultures. He was charged with this duty in hisfortieth year, the age when, according toQur’anic teaching, maturity bringsrealization of the need todischarge the seriousobligations of life.The Messenger’s assignment was to enjoinpeople to do good and to forbid their evilbehaviour. The revelation was to be of spiritualtruth and moral standards. For the 13 years hewas to remain in Makkah, the Prophet zconcentrated on rejecting idolatry and invitingpeople to accept that a day would come whenthey would have to account for their actionsbefore Allah Almighty, the One True God. Indeed,that was all that he taught during that period.THE PROPHET’S EARLYTEACHINGSFor the first three years he restricted hisdiscussions to selected friends and membersof his family. For theIslamic Expansion AD 632–850This map shows the expansion ofIslam after the prophet Muhammad’sdeath in AD 632 until the end of theearly Abbasids in AD 850.
  • 159. 161subsequent 10, he appealed to the public atlarge. While Islam had a limited audience it wasnot taken seriously by those outside hisimmediate circle. However, the existingestablishment later grew alarmed by itschallenge to their authority. No matter howassiduously they harassed or damaged Muslimswho had no powerful friends, they could notundermine Muhammad’s influence. Qualities offorgiveness, generosity, fairness and unfalteringdetermination attracted continuing interest andrespect. In addition, Muhammad’s uncle, AbuTalib, was a man of considerable influence andauthority. Before they could deal withMuhammad z, they had first to contain thepower which protected him.A confederation of tribes drew up aproclamation stating that, unless Muhammadz was handed to them, his Hashemite clanwould be subject to economic and social boycott.The Hashemites refused to comply. However, inrecognition of their vulnerability to surpriseattack, they left their homes to camp in the safetyof a naturally protected gorge on the outskirts ofMakkah. After three years, encouraged bywaning interest in Hashemite banishment,several Makkans joined together to annul theboycott and escort the Hashemites home.Weakened by outdoor life, the Lady Khadijahx, Muhammad’s wife for 24 years, died within12 months of their return. A month later hisuncle and life-long supporter also perished.Muhammad’s year of sorrow gave those whohated him opportunity to plot his death. WhileAli u lay in his bed to assure prying eyes he wasat home, Muhammad z migrated to Yathrib.R E V E L A T I O N I N M A K K A HKhadijah x bore Muhammad z six children. Both sons,Qasim and Abdullah, died in infancy. Their daughters,Zaynab, Ruqayyah and Um Kulthum became respectedladies of Makkah. Fatimah x, who married Ali ibn AbuTalib u, the elected fourth Caliph and first of theTwelveImams, was mother of the second and third Imams,Hasan and Husayn w.When Muhammad z was 30 and fathering his ownchildren, his uncle Abu Talib, in whose home Muhammadz had lived for the greater part of his life, had a son Ali.The little boy spent a great deal of time with the otherchildren in Muhammad’s house and at the age of five, livedthere permanently. He later recounted that the Prophet znever sought to criticize the things he said or did and wouldoften give him big hugs of affection. He, in return, adoredhis cousin whom, in his own words, he ‘used to accompany,like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother’.Each day, he said, the Prophet z would draw his attentionto one or another virtue which he was then encouragedto emulate.MUHAMMAD ’S FAMILY
  • 160. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SIn his first year in Madinah, Muhammadz, built the mosque which served as aplace of guidance, education and prayer. Henext integrated some 300 immigrant Makkans– Muhajirs, and their Yathrib helpers – Ansar,into one united community by formally pairingthem as ‘brothers in faith’, to live together andshare resources. Muhammad z himselfpledged brotherhood with Ali u. To vouchsafethe freedom, order and justice of allinhabitants, he documented the rights andobligations of Muslims and non-Muslims, inthe first declaration of human rights ofrecorded history.THE RIGHT PATHDuring the second year, revelations established:adhan – the call to prayer; wudu – purificationpreparatory to commencing a prayerful state;salat – the mandatory five daily prayer times;qiblah – the Ka’abah in Makkah as the directionto face in offering prayer; sawm – fasting for the29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan; zakatal-Fitr – payment, by the head of households, of‘the cost of a meal’ on behalf of everyone in theirhomes, to ensure that all in the community wereable to feast the day after the Ramadan fast ends;Id al-Fitr – the recommendation for Muslims tomark that day, and Id al-Adha – the anniversaryof Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his sonIsma’il u, with celebration and prayer; andzakat – the 2.5% tax on wealth. Also in this year,the Prophet celebrated his daughter FatimahZahra’s wedding to Ali ibn Abu Talib u.His first grandson Hasan u was born thefollowing year and his second grandson, Husaynu in the fourth year. That year their paternalgrandmother, Fatimah bint Asad, Abu Talib’swidow died. She was the Prophet’s aunt andfoster mother and the second lady to haveaccepted Islam. In the fourth year in Madinah,intoxicants became prohibited, and in the fifth,hajj – pilgrimage to Makkah – becamemandatory for those who can afford it.SPREADINGTHE WORDIn 6 AH (AD 628) – Anno Hijri – the sixth year inMadinah, the Prophet z declared his intentionto perform umrah – the minor pilgrimage, butthe Makkans denied him entry. Notwithstandingthat, it was agreed that Muslims would beallowed to spend three days of pilgrimage inMakkah the following year. Accordingly, in 7 AH(AD 629), Muhammad z performed umrahwith 2,000 well-disciplined pilgrims.Instructed to announce that he had been sentas a Messenger and Warner to the whole ofhumanity, Muhammad z communicated hiscommandment to princes, kings, tribal chiefsand other distinguished personalities in 7 AH(AD 629). 185 such communications still exist.He sent ambassadors to the Roman and162Revelation in MadinahYears are remembered by notable events, and as the turning point in Muslim fortunes was the year ofMuhammad’s migration or hijrah, this marks the start of the Islamic Hijri calendar.After he had movedtoYathrib, it became known as, ‘the town of the Prophet’ – Madinat al-Nabi, or more simply, Madinah.
  • 161. R E V E L A T I O N I N M A D I N A H163Byzantine empires, Persia, Ethiopia, Egypt,Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan.In 8 AH (AD 630) Muhammad z wasgranted governance of Makkah and cleared theKa’abah of idols. 10 AH (AD 632) was marked bydelegations to Madinah, to accept Islam andpledge allegiance to the Prophet z. It is also theyear of his ‘Farewell hajj’ in which an estimated100,000 accompanied him. He died in 11 AH atthe age of 63.ESTABLISHINGTHE FUNDAMENTALSRevelation in Madinah provides the basis forIslamic acts of worship, contract, maritalregulation and all other aspects of Islamic law.In his hajj address Muhammad z said,‘Your person and property is honoured and anytransgression is strictly prohibited. You willsoon return to Allah and have your good andbad deeds judged. Those who hold things intrust should return them. Usury is prohibited inIslam. None should oppress nor be oppressed.Your women have rights over you and you haverights over them. Treat them with kindness andlove and provide them with comfortable meansof life. They are only lawful for you accordingto His laws. Hear my words carefully andponder them! I leave you two memorablethings, one the Book of Allah, the other myexample, exemplified by my progeny. If youabide by them you will not go astray. Thosepresent should communicate these words tothose who are absent. Today, I have banned allcustoms and beliefs of the “Age of Ignorance”.’At Ghadeer Khum, just prior to the pilgrimsdispersing on their separate ways, the Prophetz raised Ali’s hand and repeatedly announced,‘Ali is master of those over whom I am master.’Thereafter he received the final revelation:This day I have perfected your religion,bestowed full measure of My blessings and willedyour self-surrender to Me to remain your religion.Qur’an 5:3Those who adhere to the elemental beliefs of Islam may bedescribed as Muslim. Those beliefs are sometimes referredto as being the five pillars of Islam.Sunni sourcesAccording to Bukhari in his Sahih, the Prophet z said thatIslam is established upon five pillars:1 Salah (the daily five proscribed times of communal worship)2 Payment of Zakat3 Pilgrimage during the month of Hajj4 Fasting during the month of Ramadan5 Declarations of there being no god but Allah, and ofMuhammad z being His MessengerSahih Bukhari Chapter of FaithVolume 1 Page 9Shiah sourcesAccording to Koleini in his al-Kafi, Imam Muhammadal-Baqir (the fifth Imam) narrated that the Prophet z(his forefather), said that Islam is established uponfive pillars:1 Salah (the daily five proscribed times of communal worship)2 Payment of Zakat3 Pilgrimage during the month of Hajj4 Fasting during the month of Ramadan5 Wilayah (guardianship of the faith by leaders, appointedby Allah to provide error free guidance; with believers’reciprocation by loving them).Al-Kafi -Volume 2 Page 15Wassail al-Shiah -Volume 1 First chapter,Tradition number 1Shi’ah point out that whileAllah guides all of His creation to itsown specific perfection; trees automatically bearing blossomand fruit for example, the perfection of humanity can only bearrived at through free will and wise decisions.(We sent) Messengers to give glad tidings and warnings sothat people may have no plea [complaint] against Allah after(the coming of) the messengersQuran 4:165Thus, Allah ensured that the guidance His prophetsdelivered would be free of errors, and appointed guides toconsolidate those beliefs after the epoch of prophethoodhad ended. It was clearly necessary that they too would notmake errors, if they were to successfully safeguard thesciences and laws of Islam. His error-free appointees, whoimmediately followed the Prophet z, are known asmasumin or error-free Imams.‘People benefit from the guidance of the error-free Imamswhenever they find the ability to receive it.IslamicTeachings in Brief by AllamahTabatabai - Page 124 – 125THE FIVE PILLARS
  • 162. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S164In Islamic teaching, God is the Creator andthe Law giver. As Creator, He is fully awareof how we should behave for our individualand collective success. The Qur’an is His finalguidance to humanity. The Qur’an consists of 30sections, some revealed in Makkah, some inMadinah. One may categorize their content inthe following four ways:1. Belief and creed, e.g.:• Allah is the light of heaven and earth.His light analogous to a lamp in aniche (contained) in glass to appear as ashining star….Qur’an 24:352. History of previous nations andprophets, e.g.:• And when Lot said to his people, ‘Surely,your acts of lewdness have never beencommitted before you.’When Our messengers came to Abrahamwith the glad tidings …To the Midianites We sent their brotherJethro who said, ‘O my people, worshipAllah, fear the last day and do not createmischief on the earth.Qur’an 29:28, 31, 36• Truly We graced David, (saying) ‘Omountains sing Our praise with him, and…(We made subservient to) Solomon, the windwhich covers a months journey in a morning …Qur’an 34:10, 123. Moral and social guidance, e.g.:• Your Lord has ordered you not to worshipany except Him. He commanded you to begood to your parents. Should either reachold age and need care, do not reproach,behave irritably or reject them, but alwaysrespond gently. Treat them with humilityand tenderness praying, ‘Lord be merciful tothem; as they were to me when I was little.Your Lord is aware of what is in yourheart and how you behave. He is All-forgiving to those who repent.The Book of AllahAll Muslims agree that the Qur’an is the primary source of Islamic teaching.Although differentschools of thought may differ on aspects such as analogy, consensus, public interest, commonpractice and intellectual reasoning, all agree that, in a very deep sense, Islam is the Qur’an andthe Qur’an is Islam.
  • 163. T H E B O O K O F A L L A H165Give close relatives their entitlement,and be generous to travellers in need and thepoor; but do not fritter your wealth. Thosewho squander are, like Satan, ungrateful tothe Lord. If you are yourself in need of yourLord’s support and have to decline theirrequest, do so with kind words andcompassion. Do not be miserly or worthyof reproach, nor so generous that youbecome destitute.Qur’an 17:23–294 Law. e.g.:• O you who believe, when you contract aloan for a fixed term, ensure that it beaccurately recorded in writing. No scribemay refuse to do this as Allah commands itbe done. Let the borrower dictate terms tosafeguard themselves in full awareness ofAllah’s laws. However, if they are unable tocomprehend the terms, suffer somedisability, or are unable to dictate, ensurethat their guardian does it justly. Then calltwo reliable witnesses from the community… who should not refuse this duty. Do nothesitate to document contracts be they largeor small. This is fairer in the sight of Allahand assures the accuracy of testimony …Qur’an 2:282All Muslim scholars accept that the valuesand rulings revealed in the Qur’an arewithout limit and valid for all time. All Muslimscholars agree that because Allah pledgedto protect it, not a single word in the Qur’anhas been altered.In the words of Imam Ali u, ‘Then Allahsent him the Book of Light, aninextinguishable illumination of sustainedbrilliance, a bottomless ocean, an assuredroute, a never fading beacon andunchanging elucidation of good and evil. Itsclarification is unchallengeable, its remedyassured. It is an undiminishing honour anda virtue whose supporters are neverabandoned. It is a mine of belief with thevery source of knowledge at its core. It is anocean of justice and the foundation stoneof Islam.It is a valley inexhaustibly irrigated by truth,an assured destination with un-misciblesigns for all who seek it. Allah revealed it toquench the thirst of thelearned and to bloom inthe heart of jurists. It isthe highway of therighteous, a salvationand the illumination ofdarkness.It is the unbreakablerope of those who holdto it, the honour ofthose who love it, thepeace of those whoenter it, and theguidance of those whofollow it.’Sermon 198THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUR’AN
  • 164. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S166Hadith means literally ‘a saying, reportor account’, specifically of what theProphet Muhammad z said, or hisreaction to what others said and did, recountedby his progeny, household and companions.Sunnah means literally ‘the model practice andbehaviour, custom or observance of the Prophetz’ which Muslims try to follow in their dailylives, religious observance and in their relationswith every aspect of Allah’s creation. Evidence ofhis sunnah is found within the hadith. A hadithmay refer to moral conduct, current events,history, future events, the hereafter, legal rulingsor any other topic, e.g.:The Prophet z said, ‘Humanity isdependant upon Allah; the most loved byHim are those who are of most benefit toHis dependants.’Al Kafi Volume 2 Page 164The Prophet z said, ‘Show kindness tothe worthy and the unworthy. If you findthat they do not deserve it, you at leastwill have earned it’.Bihar al Anwar Vol. 74 p. 409The Prophet z said, ‘No-one isallowed to carry weapons inMakkah.’Sahih Muslim Vol. 2 Page 989ISLAMICTEXTSIn the Prophet’s and his progeny’s lifetime, theirevery word and deed was closely observed bythose eager for success in this life and in that yetto come. Many recorded and collected theirobservations. Some regrettably even fabricatedhadith. The Prophet z himself encouragedpeople to take care that nothing was falselyattributed, and to then disseminate hadith aswidely as possible. They were later collectedtogether by numerous scholars to form a majorresource for Islamic law.A crucial and major aspect of this subject isconcerned with the degree of reliability andauthenticity of narrations. No Muslim scholarwould claim that either the four majorcollections of Ahl ul-Bayt related hadith, or thesix major Sunni collections, are necessarilyreliable and binding. The main Shi’ah works,known as The Four Books (al-Kutub al-Arba’a)are: Usool al Kafi, Man La Yahdhuruhu alFaqih, Istebsaar and Tahtheeb. The main Sunniworks, known as The Six Books – (al Sihah al-Sittah) are: Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim,The Prophet’s ExampleMuhammad z is regarded as the most noble and excellent ofAllah’s creation, theembodiment of human perfection.As His life evidenced all the virtues and perfectionhumanity can acquire, He is regarded as the perfect man – Insan al-Kamil. Hadith cover thesayings, actions and silent assertions of the Prophet z which were narrated by hiscompanions or progeny.
  • 165. 167Sunan abu Dawud, Jami’al Tirmidhi, Sunanibn Majah and Sunan al-Nissa’i. In addition,there are many other Shi’ah and Sunnicollections. While the chapter headings in theabove collections are largely the same andmany narrations similar, their content is not.A jurist or Mujtahid, therefore, needs toexert substantial time and effort to examine thevalidity of each hadith. The need to verify theauthenticity of the chain of narrators led to thedevelopment of a new branch of Islamic study,Ilm al-Rijal or Al-Jarh wal taa’dil i.e., thebiographies of men. Some scholarly works onthis subject extend to 24 volumes.When a jurist is not able to find referencein Qur’an or a hadith regarding a specificissue, he or she must employ secondarysources such as intellectual reasoning,favoured by the Shi’ah, or analogy, favouredby the majority of Sunnis.Muslims, in every age and from every part of the worldhave strived, and continue to do so, to imitate the perfectexample of the Prophet z in every aspect of their lives.As expressed by the great medieval theologianAl-Ghazaliof the tenth century in his Ihya ulum al-Din:‘Know that the key to happiness lies in emulating theexample ofAllah’s Messenger z in everything he did.Doing the things that he did in the way he did them; hisactivities, rest, approach to eating, sleeping and talking. Ido not mention his religious practices, for it goes withoutsaying that these must not be neglected. I draw attentionrather to the importance of copying of his customs andpractices, for it is only by doing this that unrestrictedsuccess becomes possible. ForAllah ordered Muhammadz to, “Tell them, ‘If you loveAllah, then follow me;Allahwill then love you and forgive your sins, forAllah is indeedforgiving and merciful” Qur’an 3:31; and “…Accept whatthe messenger gives you, and refrain from what he hasprohibited … .” Qur’an 59:7.That means, sitting whenputting your trousers on, standing when winding yourturban and beginning with the right foot when puttingshoes on … .’THE EXAMPLE OF THE PROPHETT H E P R O P H E T ’ S E X A M P L E
  • 166. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S168The Arab conquests in the early years ofIslam, when travel was a lengthy anddifficult business, required permanentcamps being built in far off lands. Economic andsocial realities inevitably resulted in thesegarrisons and towns becoming integrated. By thetime such garrisons were no longer required,many troops, already identified with localinterests, chose to remain there with theirfamilies and friends. A similar pattern of spreadresulted from the continued extension anddevelopment of trade.The development of Muslim communities,far away from the centres of Islamic scholarshipand learning, inevitably resulted in calls forIslamic teachers and jurists to serve in thoseareas. Over the years, thousands of Muslimdignitaries travelled far and wide to meet theneeds of such societies and establish new centresof learning. At the time of the great slave trade tothe Americas, it was not uncommon for spiritualteachers to be taken and later shipped to the newworld. There, they too continued their service tothe Muslim community and, being literate andlearned, often held positions of great trust.LAW AND ORDERPerhaps the most interesting aspect of thespread of Islam has been the attraction it heldfor the oppressed peoples in the areas of itsintroduction. An appeal due to principles ofequality, justice, fairness and clarity of thedoctrine ‘to encourage good and oppose evil’.Being interested in trade, Muslim merchantsnaturally had a great interest in law and order,peace and security, a factor which no doubtencouraged both migration and conversion inthose areas. As trading relationships developedbetween neighbouring centres and nations, the everexpanding Muslim community constituted a vastcommon market of free trade and development.In latter years, the spread of Islam has largelybeen the result of European colonialism. Muslimcitizens of various empires doing military serviceHow Islam is Spread and LivedPeople may be physically coerced into doing many things, but they cannotbe forced to accept certainty of faith, religion, spiritual doctrine or creed.The spread of Islam, in the form of conversion, is therefore the outcome ofmental or spiritual factors, helped occasionally by material circumstances.A S I AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOceanPacificOceanIslam Today90% +75–89%50–74%30– 49%11–29%1–10%Less than 1%Spread of Islam in 20th centuryWorld total – 1,188 millionBahrainA U S T R A L I AA F R I C AConcentration of Muslims worldwide,by percentage of populationC A N A D AU S AM E X I C OBaliIslam TodayIslam is the second largest religion inthe world.There are 1,188 millionMuslims in 184 countries throughoutthe world.The map shows theworldwide distribution of Muslimsand the spread of Islam during the20th century.
  • 167. H O W I S L A M I S S P R E A D A N D L I V E D169in foreign lands, or being translocated to labourin manufacturing or agricultural industries.Those opposed to colonial rule and itsrestrictions were exiled to far off empireoutposts. Muslim merchants, unwilling to acceptthe yoke of colonialism simply moved to otherareas, to establish new commercial centres andre-establish their previous circumstances.In addition to economic migration, mentionneeds also be made to the movement of peoplesfleeing injustice and persecution, who sought andwere granted asylum in a variety of lands. Mostnotable of these were the expulsions of Muslimsfrom Spain and Sicily, the Balkans and lastly Israel.As detailed by Dr Ezzati in his Introduction tothe History of The Spread of Islam there aresome 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today.In addition to the populations of over 51 Muslimmajority countries, there are large Muslimpopulations in Asia, including India, China andthe Central Asian Republics, Africa, the USA,South America, Australia, the Caribbean andEastern and Western Europe. These communities,of all colour, race and background, with a varietyof tongues and customs, live the Islamic way oflife, in every member state of the United Nations.SHARI’AHWhether those who accept Islam simply fall inlove with it, accept it after careful intellectualexamination, or are led to it by Islamic scholarsor Sufi Shaykhs, is a matter for further academicstudy. While it is trueto say that zeal andlove for Islam in thehearts of Muslimsinspires them todiscuss it witheveryone they comeinto contact with, it isthe injunction to dogood and refrain fromall that is harmful thatmakes it a religiousduty to invite othersto Islam.In the Arabiclanguage, the wordshari’ah means ‘thepath to be followed’.For Muslims, that path has been established byAllah, hence the word shari’ah is used to denoteIslamic law. Peace is to be achieved when humandesires do not conflict with that law. Once peopleare at peace with their Creator, they are at peacewith themselves and, it follows, at peace with all ofHis creation.The Qur’an does not deny the variety ofreligions, nor that contradictions might existbetween them regarding beliefs and practices.However, it emphasizes the need to recognize the‘oneness’ of humanity created by Him, and theneed for all to work toward better understandingbetween followers of different faith.ISLAMIC GROUPINGSAll MuslimsWithout exception, Muslims believe:• in the Oneness ofAllah;• that He sent Prophets as Messengers andWarners to everynation and tribe to teach them to benefit from their time on earthand live in harmony with His creation;• that He revealed the Qur’an, His final book, to His finalMessenger Muhammad z ‘al-Insan al-Kamil – the perfect man’.Without exception, Muslims are required:• to face the direction of Makkah and worshipAllah five timeseach day;• to fast for the month of Ramadan;• to pay their religious dues;• if they are able, to go on pilgrimage (hajj) once in their lifetime.Without exception, Muslims accept that:• existence continues after death;• a day will come when all have to account for their deeds;• Allah’s creation includes things unseen as well as visible.Those who declare belief that there is no Divinity other thanAllahand conform to the above are, by definition, Muslim.All Muslims believe they practise Islam correctly, despite theirdiffering interpretations of detail. On matters of practice, Shi’ahMuslims consult contemporary jurists who support the Imamateand Sunni Muslims the opinion of the jurists of the 8th and 9thcenturies AD. Examples of such differences can be seen on page 163in the section onThe Five Pillars and on page 166 under the headingIslamicTexts.SHI’AH• Shi’ah Muslims derive their name from the Prophet z who is recorded to have said, ‘That one there and his followers – hatha wa shi’ah tu’, in referring toAli 7 (the first Imam) and his followers.Thus, Shi’ah Muslims follow the 12 ‘Masumin’ l – error-free – Imams’ – of Muhammad’s progeny, who were Divinelyappointed to elucidate the Qur’an and Muhammad’s teaching for future generations.They are also known as ‘Twelvers’, and their jurisprudence as Imamiyyah.• There are two Shi’ah offshoots, Bohrahs and Zaydi’s.They follow different Imams of the same lineage.• Despite their differences, all these groups believe that they adhere strictly to the example – Sunnah – of the Prophet Muhammad z.SUNNI• The word Sunni comes from ‘People of the Sunnah and the masses – Ahl al-sunnah wal-Jamaah.’They employed this term to distinguish themselves fromthose who opposed the manner in which the leadership of the Muslim community was established after the Prophet z.• The majority of Sunni Muslims follow the guidance of four schools of Sunni jurisprudence named after Malik ibnAnas,Abu Hanifa, Muhammad al-Shafi andAhmad ibn Hanbal.• An offshoot of Hanbali School (Wahabism) prefers to follow the more literal guidance of Muhammad binAbdelWahab.• Despite their differences, all these groups also believe that they adhere strictly to the example – Sunnah – of the Prophet Muhammad z.• The offshoot of Hanafi Sunnism, the Qadiani orAhmadiyya, believe that the term ‘Seal of Prophets – Khataman Nabiyeen’ in Qur’an 33:40, refers to theirfounder, Mirza GhulamAhmad of Qadian.They are therefore not accepted as being Muslim by any Shi’ah or Sunni groups.SUFISM• Some Shi’ah, and Sunni Muslims of the four main schools of jurisprudence, interested in the esoteric aspects of Islam, follow Spiritual Masters known asSufi Shaykhs.
  • 168. W O R L D R E L I G I O N STHE ORIGIN OF Jainism remainsuntraceable. Jains believe that timerotates in a cycle, descending andascending. In each half of the cycle 24tirthankaras establish the fourfold order(sangha) consisting of monks, nuns, laymen andlaywomen; and revive the teachings of theprevious tirthankaras. The first tirthankara inthis descending cycle was Risabhdeva, who istraditionally believed to have lived thousands ofcenturies ago. The twenty-third was Parsvanatha(c. 870–770 BC) and the twenty-fourth and lastwas Vardhamana Mahavira (599–527 BC).TEACHINGSMahavira became a Jina at the age of 42.He attracted a large number of people, both menand women, to his teachings. Those whoaccepted vows totally (mahaavrata) becameascetics. He taught his followers to observe:• Ahimsaa: non-violence and reverence forall life• Satya: truthfulness, communication in apleasant and non-hurtful manner that is freefrom falsehood• Asteya: not stealing or taking any-thing which belongs to others withouttheir permission• Brahmacharya: chastity and control oversenses, for the ascetics total celibacy and forthe laity faithfulness to one’s spouse• Aparigraha: non-attachment to material thingsMahavira was a great reformer and addressedthe various problems of the day, such as thecaste system, slavery, equality of women, carnaldesires, killing or harming life for religiousrituals or pleasure of the senses. He taughtacceptance of multiple views (anekaantaavada)and qualifying dogmatic assertions(syaadavaada), a spiritual democracy that madeJains tolerant to others.SECTSIn the fourth century AD, Jainism developed twomajor divisions: Digambara (sky-clad ascetics)and Svetambara (white-robed ascetics).With the passage of time, bothJ A I N I S MOrigins and PracticeThe name Jainism comes from Jina, meaning ‘victor’ over thepassions and the self. Jinas, whom Jains call tirthankarasattained omniscience by shedding destructive karma andtaught the spiritual path of happiness and perfection to allhumans. Jainism is centred around the Indian subcontinent,and is one of the oldest religions in that region. In recent yearsthriving Jain populations have developed in the US and Europe.
  • 169. O R I G I N S A N D P R A C T I C E171Digambara and Svetambara communities havecontinued to develop, almost independently ofeach other, into different sects.PRACTICESThe guiding principle of the Jainpractice is their conviction in the phraseparasparopagrahojivaanam, meaninginterdependence of life on each other. Jains arevegetarians; they care for the environment andare involved in human and animal welfare.They have built beautiful temples all over Indiaand observe many festivals; most are spiritualin nature such as paryushana (sacred days offasting and forgiveness).They observe six essential duties:equanimity, veneration of the 24 tirthankaras,veneration of ascetics, penitential retreat,renunciation, meditation with bodilydetatchment, which are meant to enhance theirquality of life, physically, mentally andspiritually.Jainism, though restricted to a minority,continues to be a living tradition. The Jain wayof life is not at odds with normal everyday life.It is an ethical doctrine with self-discipline as itscore. It does not recognize an Almighty God ora Supreme Being as creator God, but believes ingodhood that can be attained by any of us,provided we follow the teachings of the Jinaand liberate our souls through self-effort. Jainsworship tirthankaras as examples and do notask for any favours.Jainism is an open religion and irrespectiveof labels attached to us by birth or otherwise;any person who follows the path of the Jinas isa Jain. The Jain population is about fourmillion worldwide; most Jains and all theirascetics (about 10,000) live in India; 50,000 inNorth America and 30,000 in the UK.The body is called a boat,The soul is called a navigator,wordly life is called an ocean,The great sages cross this ocean.Uttaraadhyayana, 23:73Jains perform penitential retreat (pratikramana) daily in themorning and evening to shed the karma that is attracted dueto the transgressions of Right Conduct, knowingly orunknowingly. They ask for forgiveness for theirtransgressions, perform penance, and see that suchaberrations are not repeated.Jains observe paryushana, an annual period of atonementand repentance for the acts of the previous year, and ofausterities to shed accumulated karma. Listening to the KalpaSutra (sacred text), taking positive steps to ensure that livingbeings are not killed, showing amity to fellow Jains,forgiveness to all, austerity and visiting neighbouringtemples, these are important activities undertaken during thisfestival. On the final day (samvatsari), Jains seek forgivenessfrom all for any harm which they have caused and forgivethose who have harmed them, saying ‘micchami dukkadam’.SACRED DUTIES
  • 170. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S172The soul is the living being (jiva) and theothers are non-living substances (ajiva).Both jiva and ajiva are interdependentand everlasting. It is the attachment of non-living substance (karma) to the soul that causesapparent injustices of life, and an unending cycleof birth, death and rebirth in any destiny:heavenly, human, animal and plants or infernalas a mobile being with two to five senses or as animmobile being with one sense. The celestialbeings live in the ‘upper world’ of the occupieduniverse. Humans, animals and plants, astralbodies and lower kinds of heavenly beingsoccupy the ‘middle world’. The infernal beingslive in the lower world.The Jain way of life aims to shed karmaattached to the soul and manifest thesoul’s true characteristics: infinite bliss, infiniteknowledge, amity and equanimity. It consists ofthe coordinated path of the ‘Three Jewels’:Right Faith, Right Knowledge and RightConduct. Right Faith is belief in the nine ‘realentities’ (living being, non-living being, merit,demerit, influx of karma, karmic bondage,stoppage of karma, shedding of karma andliberation); Right Knowledge is a proper graspof the nine ‘real entities’; and Right Conduct isthe ethical code, behaviour and actions taughtby the Jinas.KARMAJainism describes karma as a subtle matter, notperceptible to the senses, found everywhere in thecosmos and having the property of penetratingthe soul and clouding its characteristics. Thesoul’s activities cause vibrations in its structureand cause karmic particles to be attracted (influx)to it. If there is karmic matter around the soul,these particles will stick to it, but if it is absent asin liberated souls it will not stick. Benevolent actscause good karma (merit), while sinful acts causebad karma (demerit). Both merit and demeritkeep the soul in the worldly cycle, they do notcancel each other out.Jain PhilosophyThe universe as conceived by Jains has two parts, occupiedand unoccupied, and it consists of six substances: the soul,matter, medium of motion, medium of rest, space and time.All except the matter are formless.
  • 171. J A I N P H I L O S O P H Y173The quantity, size, type and density ofkarmic particles determine the severity ofkarmic bondage and the form that the soulwill assume in forthcoming births and itsinherent passions. Of course, externalenvironments affect these passions,increasing their severity in a complementaryway, but Right Conduct can influence thekarmic result and reduce suffering. Onmaturity karmic particles attached to thesoul discharge continuously, but asreplenishment also takes place, the soulremains in bondage.LIBERATIONLiberation of the soul from the karmicbondage is a two-stage process: stoppage ofkarmic flow (blocking of all channels throughwhich karma flows by ethical behaviour andcontrol over desires); and shedding theattached karma by austerities. When allkarmic particles are shed, which may occurafter long spiritual development, the soulattains liberation and reverts to its naturalstate. It ascends to the apex of the universewhere it dwells in siddha silaa, a liberated soulwithout material body, enjoying infinite bliss,infinite knowledge, amity and equanimity.One knows the nature ofsubstances from RightKnowledge,Believes in them throughRight Faith,And develops self-controlby Right Conduct,And purifies the soulby austerities.Uttaraadhyayana 28:35Belief in the self and other realities is RightFaith, their comprehension is RightKnowledge, being without attachment isRight Conduct.These together constitutethe way to liberation.(Tattvartha Sutra 1:4)Attachment and hatred are the seeds ofkarma.The wise say that karma is caused bydelusion. Karma is the root of birth anddeath.The wise say that the cycle of birthand death is the cause of unhappiness.(Uttaraadhyayana 32:7)By controlling speech the soul achievesmental steadiness and having achievedmental steadiness, the soul with control onspeech becomes qualified for self-realization.(Uttaraadhyayana 29:54)By controlling the mind the soul achievesthe concentration of mind.The soul with theconcentration of mind controls the senses.(Uttaraadhyayana 29:53)All living beings have to bear the fruit of theirkarma, either in this life or in future lives. Noone can escape the results of their action.(Uttaraadhyayana 4:3)All living beings love their life. No one likesto be killed.Those who kill living beingswhether they kill or have it killed bysomeone else or support killing, eventuallyincrease their own enmity and misery.(Sutrakrutaanga 1:1:3)JAIN TEACHINGSThe Symbol for Jainism, whichrepresents the suffering that the threeworlds (Earth, Heaven and Hell) mustendure.The open palm is a symbol ofreasurrance, that humans need not beafraid as the path to salvation lies inreligion (represented by the Wheel ofDharma), and that after obtainingperfection they may live forever in theAbode of the Liberated Souls.Abode of the Liberated SoulsRight FaithRight ConductRight KnowledgeThree dots showthe Jain path toLiberationSwastika showsthe cycle of birthand death and thefour destinies ofWorldly SoulHeavenHumanHellAnimalRaised Hand issymbol of protectionand blessing Wheel of Dharmarepresents theteachings of the24 tirthankaras,consisting ofnon-violence andother virtuesNon-violenceMutual Interdependence of all lives
  • 172. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S174JEWS BELIEVE that Abraham (born c. 2000BC) was the first to recognize the existence ofGod; God made a series of covenants withAbraham. Firstly, in return for leaving Ur inBabylon (now Iraq), his native land, Abrahamand Sarah, his barren wife, were promised theland of Canaan (today Israel/Palestine) and manydescendants. Later, God asked Abraham tocircumcise himself, saying that as a perpetual signof the covenant between God and Abraham’sdescendants they must circumcise their sons eightdays after birth. Soon after he obeyed God’scommand, Abraham’s son Isaac was born.THE EXODUS FROM EGYPTAbraham’s descendants went down to Egyptc.1700 BC to avoid a famine. A few generationslater they were regarded as hostile aliens, madeinto slaves and forced to do hard labour. Whenthe pharaoh ordered their male babies to bekilled, God acted upon the covenant he hadmade with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and sentplagues upon Egypt when the pharaoh refused tolet the people go out and worship their God.Because of the experience of being enslaved andthen rescued by God, Judaism later emphasizedthe importance of freedom and treating thestranger well. In Judaism, redemption when itrefers to the past describes being rescued fromEgyptian slavery and when it refers to the futuremeans the hope that present-day troubles will bereplaced by a time of peace and perfection.When the Children of Israel (the Biblical phrasefor what later became the Jewish people) left Egyptand reached Mount Sinai in the desert, Godremade the covenant with the whole nation, givingthem the Ten Commandments and many otherinstructions detailing how they were to serve God.Some influence from Egyptian codes has beenperceived in the commandments which Moses, theleader of people through the Exodus and the 40years in the desert, relayed to the people.When the Children of Israel returned to theland under Joshua’s leadership, they defeated thetribes living there and established themselves.David (who reigned 1006–965 BC), one of theJ U D A I S MOriginsJudaism was the first religion to profess faith in a single, omnipotent God,with a history dating back over 4,000 years. It shares many of the earlytraditions and prophets with the later-founded Islam and Christianity.TheHebrew Bible consists of five books widely attributed to have been written byMoses, and which encapsulate the precursory elements of Judaism: thecreation myths, Jewish law, and Israelite history.After the Biblical period,Jewish theology and practice were developed by the rabbis.Let my people go that they mayserve me in the wilderness.Exodus, 7:16probable route of Abrahampossible route of AbrahamThe Journey of AbrahamGazaHazorTyreByblos DamascusUgaritKaneshElbistanCarchemishAleppoAlalakhHarranNinevehEriduUrMariAshurBabylonSialkHamadamTepe HisarJerusalemZ a g r o s M t sDeadSeaLake Van Lake UrmiaElburz MtAmanus MtsEuphratesTigrisP e r s i a nG u l fE G Y P TS Y R I AM E S O P O T A M I AThe Journey of AbrahamAbraham was the earliest of theHebrew patriarchs and was summonedby God to leave his home in Ur andjourney to Canaan, where he was tobecome the father of a nation.Although the Biblical account givesmany details of the journey, there issome dispute over his actual route.
  • 173. O R I G I N S175first kings of Israel, erected a tent in Jerusalem tohold the ark containing the two stone tablets ofthe Ten Commandments. His son Solomon (whoreigned 965–928 BC) built an impressive temple;the Bible contains many references to Jerusalemas ‘the place I chose to dwell among you’.Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians in586 BC and many of the people forced into exile.FALL OF JERUSALEMIn 538 BC, the people were allowed to return tothe land of Israel by Cyrus of Persia, who hadcrushed the Babylonian empire, and rebuild theTemple in Jerusalem. The Second Temple wasbuilt tall to combine maximum splendour withthe dimensions given in the Bible for theportable shrine the Children of Israel carried inthe wilderness.By 44 BC the land was under the control ofthe Roman Empire. The Romans were normallytolerant of well-behaved local religions but theZealots, an intemperate minority, refused toaccept their rule and revolted. In response, theRomans successfully besieged Jerusalem,destroyed the Temple in AD 70 and martyredmany leading rabbis. After a furtherunsuccessful rebellion against Rome in AD 135by Simon bar Kochba, many Jews were exiled.A small number of Jews remained in the landof Israel but the majority of the Jewish peoplelived scattered across the world. Immediatelyafter AD 70, the major Jewish communities werein Babylon, Egypt and Italy. Today the largestdiaspora community is the USA whose Jewishpopulation outnumbers Israel’s.EARLY RABBISYochanan ben Zakkai, a scholar who enabledJewish teaching to survive and who can beregarded as the originator of Rabbinic Judaism,smuggled himself out of Jerusalem during thesiege in a coffin shortly before the destruction ofthe Temple in AD 70. The Romans permittedhim to set up a school at Yavneh on Israel’sMediterranean coast. His students became thefirst rabbis; they expanded existingcommentaries on the Bible and developed aframework of belief which enabled theirgeneration, traumatised by the destruction ofthe Temple, to continue to live as Jews.RABBINIC JUDAISMJudaism as it is practised nowrests both on the Bible and onrabbinic development ofBiblical ideas. The ancientrabbis in Israel and Babylonsaid their interpretations of theBible represented its truemeaning, even when these werenot literal. For instance theysaid that ‘an eye for an eye’meant paying compensation tothe injured party, not injuringthem in turn. Anotherinnovation was their belief inthe immortality of the soul,possibly because the rabbis inBabylon were influenced byZoroastrianism, the localreligion, in which this wasimportant an important belief.‘Eternal One who ruled alone before creation of all forms …after everything shall end, alone in wonder will God reign….This is my God who saves my life, the rock I grasp in deepdespair, … My God is close I shall not fear.’(From Adon Olam,Ruler of Eternity’, final hymn of the Saturday morning service).Maimonides, a twelfth-century Jewish philosopher andexpert in Jewish law, defined 13 Principles of Faith, a briefcodification of essential Jewish beliefs; nine deal with thenature of God. God is the creator and guide of the universe, isone, without bodily form, the first and the last, the only focus ofprayer, the giver of theTorah (the first five books of the Bible),omniscient, who rewards those who keep the commandmentsandpunishesthosewhobreakthemandwillresurrectthedead.Some of God’s Biblical names may originally have beenassociated with Canaanite pagan deities but have taken on ameaning appropriate to Jewish theology. For instanceYHVH,the name of God considered too holy to pronounce, is derivedfrom the Hebrew root ‘to be’ and is linked in later Jewishthought with God’s mercy. Shaddai comes from a root meaning‘breast’; there are many breasted pagan goddess figurineswhich may the source of the name. It is translated ‘Almighty’and used in the Bible to describe God as sustainer.GOD IN JUDAISMc. 2000 BC Abraham bornc. 1280 BC Exodus from Egypt and Sinaic. 1200 BC Joshua conquers Canaanc. 1000 BC David’s reign 1006–965 BC586 BC Destruction of the FirstTemple538 BC Return and rebuild theTemple164 BC Maccabees defeat Syria and rebuildTemple70 AD Destruction of the SecondTemple70 AD Jochanan ben Zakkai founds School atYavneh135 AD Bar Kochba Revolt200 AD Redaction of the Mishnah (see p. 176)c. 600 AD Redaction of the BabylonianTalmud (see p. 176)You shall treat the stranger asthe native amongst you, andyou shall love him as yourself,for you were strangers inEgypt; I am the Lord your God.Leviticus, 19:34
  • 174. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S176THE BIBLE reached its present formsoon after the Babylonian exile in thesixth century BC. It is divided into threesections. The first five books – Genesis,Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy– are called the Torah or Pentateuch (meaning‘written law’). The Torah records the revelationof God to Moses on Mount Sinai 3,000 yearsago. They contain 613 commandments, as wellas describing the early history of the Childrenof Israel. The second section, Prophets,includes the history of settling the PromisedLand and the writings of prophets like Isaiahand Hosea. The third section, Writings,contains the psalms, the short books read onfestivals including Ruth and Song of Songs,wisdom literature (such as Proverbs and Job)and later historical books like Chroniclesand Ezra.THE MISHNAHThe Mishnah (Repetition) was written downaround AD 200. This body of work defined theteachings and legal system intrinsic to theTorah. Tradition says it was compiled by RabbiJudah the Prince who selected and organized thebody of oral law developed during his time. It isdivided into six orders or subject areas: Prayerand Agriculture, Festivals, Women, Civil Law,Rituals and Purity. Each of the orders issubdivided: Civil Law includes sections onDamages, Employment Law, Government andEthics. The Mishnah begins with prayer and itsfirst chapter defines times of prayer; it alsobegins by referring to the Temple destroyed inAD 70 and ends by referring to the Messiah,whom Jews believe to be the messengerannouncing the arrival of a future era of peaceand perfection. This looking back to thedestruction of what had been the pattern ofJewish life while simultaneously lookingforward to future hope and purpose is typical ofthe Mishnah; one must read between the lines ofthe text to understand it fully. It often givesvarying opinions, thus validating debate anddiversity, and is written in simple, rhythmicHebrew, easy to learn by heart, showing itsorigins in an oral tradition.THETALMUDOnce the Mishnah was written down,commentators started to analyze why Judah hadpreferred some existing oral laws to others. TheBabylonian Talmud (‘learning’) was written downaround AD 500; it contains the Mishnah and theGemara (meaning ‘completion’ of the discussionon each topic). Its redactors also includedSacred TextsJews are called the ‘people of the book’and a great deal of emphasis isplaced on the study of the sacred texts in the Jewish faith. Jews believethat the nature of God is revealed through the events of history, and it is onlythrough study that individuals can understand the essenceof Judaism for themselves.
  • 175. S A C R E D T E X T S177aggadah, morally improving Bible interpretationsand stories about the lives of the rabbis. TheGemara is written in Aramaic, the contemporaryvernacular. The Babylonian Talmud deals onlywith those areas of Jewish law observed in thediaspora, not Temple ritual or agriculture. Its styleis discursive; topics beyond the supposed subjectare often included in one volume. Its style can bedeceptive; an apparent debate may includestatements by rabbis who lived generations apartwhose views have been interwoven. There is alsoa Palestinian Talmud which is shorter andconsidered less authoritative.THE COMMENTARIESThe process of commentary and debatecontinued after the Talmud was written down.As it flows from subject to subject and needsexpertise to decipher, several commentators onthe Talmud also wrote straightforward codes ofJewish law which they believed would beaccessible for the uneducated. The most famousis the Shulchan Aruch (Prepared Table) by JosephCaro who lived in Israel in the sixteenth century;it was published with a commentary ‘TheTablecloth’ noting European Jewish practicewherever it differed. Today, observant Jews, bothOrthodox and Reform, still write to the leadingcontemporary authorities with questions onJewish law, particularly on issues which did notoccur in previous generations and receive replies,collections of which are often published.‘Learning God’s teaching is equal toeverything else’ (Talmud)Study has always been very important inJudaism, both to understand what Godwants the people to do and as an intellectualjoy in itself. It is considered to be asimportant as prayer as a way of becomingclose to God. Scholars were thereforeregarded as an elite; matchmakers wouldrate a goodTalmud student highly. Study isnot supposed to exist in isolation fromdeeds of kindness to others, but is supposedto inspire goodness.This passionate enthusiasm for learninginculcated by studying Jewish textsis thought to explain why Jews haveoften succeeded as doctors anduniversity scientists.Jewish literature also includesphilosophy, histories, ethical tracts andpoetry – liturgical and secular: for exampleMaimonides’ (a twelfth-century Egyptianphilosopher and legalist) The Guide for thePerplexed, an explanation of Judaismwritten in Arabic, and Bachya IbnPakudah’s (an eleventh-century Spanishphilosopher) Duties of the Heart, a book ofreligious ethics.These days education is considered theway to transmit Judaism to futuregenerations and synagogues and schoolstry hard to find imaginative ways ofteaching. Synagogues offer classes toadults, many Jews travel to Israel to studyin their gap year, universities in thediaspora often offer Jewish Studies andmore people are studyingTalmud now thanever before in Jewish historyTHE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING IN JUDAISM
  • 176. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S178The prayer book calls Rosh HaShanah‘The birthday of the world’, theanniversary of creation. Apples andhoney are eaten at home to express the hope thatthe coming year will be sweet. As well as the newcalendar year, Rosh HaShanah begins ten daysremembering all wrong-doings from the pastyear in order to rectify them before the Day ofAtonement. The shofar or ram’s horn is blownrepeatedly in synagogue; its harsh sound isbelieved to open closed hearts to God.Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is aspiritual cleansing enabling one to start the yearafresh. Those physically able – not the young, orill – abstain from all food and drink for 25hours; services are held in the evening and fromearly morning until dark, the synagoguevestments are white; once a year human beingsaspire to be like angels who, white-clad, spendall day every day praising God. The liturgy isparticularly beautiful and many of the tunessung are joyful – the congregation pray forforgiveness confident in God’s mercy.‘Eternal, Eternal, God of mercy andcompassion, slow to anger, generous in love andtruth, showing love to thousands, forgiving sin,wrong and failure, who pardons.’ (Exodus 34and Yom Kippur liturgy)Tu b’Shvat is the New Year of Trees.Traditionally observed by mystics, recently someJews have enjoyed redeveloping its ecologicaltheme and tree-planting has been an importantpart of the regeneration of the land of Israel.DAYS OF PILGRIMAGEPassover (from the Hebrew Pesach),commemorates the exodus from Egypt whenGod redeemed the people from Egyptianslavery. It is celebrated by a seder (a sequence ofreadings and symbolic actions), described in aspecial prayer book, the Haggadah (recitation),when the events of the Exodus are explained tothe children by their parents round their diningtable and they eat unleavened bread tocommemorate the Children of Israel’s hastydeparture from Egypt.Seven weeks after Passover, Shavuot(Pentecost) celebrates the giving of the TenCommandments at Mount Sinai; thecommandments explain to the people how Godwishes to be served.During Succot (Tabernacles) Jews rememberliving under God’s protection during the 40 yearsin the wilderness. Each family builds a smallopen-roofed booth and, weather permitting, eatsthere; the lulav, palm fronds, myrtle and willowbranches are shaken together with a citron. Atthe end of the festival, on Simchat Torah (theRejoicing of the Law), the final chapter fromDeuteronomy is read and immediately the cycleof reading the Torah recommences at thebeginning of Genesis. The scrolls are processedaround the synagogue and there is often muchsinging, dancing and celebrating.Jewish FestivalsThe cycle of the Jewish yearincludes festivals of joy and timesof mourning, times of contemplationand times of dancing and happiness.
  • 177. J E W I S H F E S T I V A L S179DAYS OFTHANKSGIVING FOR RESCUEPurim commemorates the events of the book ofEsther which tells how a decree stating thatJews should be killed on a certain date wasaverted. Jews read the book of Esther, thankGod for averting the decree, give to the poor sothey can also celebrate, send food gifts tofriends and eat and drink. Children dress up,and in Israel there are carnival processions.On Chanukah Jews light candles, startingwith one and adding another daily throughoutthe eight days of the festival to remember therededication of the temple in 164 BC after Judahthe Maccabbee, his brothers and their smallguerrilla forces drove out the Syrians whowanted to control the land that is now Israeldue to its key strategic position between Europeand Africa. To complete their conquest of theland the Syrians had desecrated the Temple andforbidden essential Jewish observances likeSabbath and circumcision. The Talmuddescribes a miracle: once the temple wascleaned and ready to resume services, one day’ssupply of pure oil for the light kept burning inthe Temple lasted eight days until more couldbe prepared.DAYS OF MOURNINGOn Tisha b’Av, the 9th of Av, Jews remember thedestruction of the First and Second Temples byfasting, reading the Book of Lamentations andsinging dirges describing other episodesof persecution. Three minor fast days,17th Tammuz, 10th Tevet and Fast of Gedaliahcommemorate stages in the siege and defeatof Jerusalem.The seven weeks between Passover andShavuot are a time of mourning when thedeaths from plague of students of RabbiAkiva, a first century rabbi, are remembered;no weddings or parties are held. On Lagb’Omer the plague lifted for a day so mourningrestrictions stop.MODERN FESTIVALSThree significant events in twentieth-centuryJewish history are now commemorated in thecalendar: Holocaust Memorial Day (YomHaShoah), 27th Nissan; the anniversary of thebattle of the Warsaw Ghetto, IsraelIndependence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut) 5th Iyar;and Jerusalem Day, 28th Iyar, the anniversaryof the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.Tishre (September/October)1st & 2nd Rosh HaShanah3rd Fast of Gedaliah10th Yom Kippur*15th–21st Succot*22rd SimchatTorahCheshvan (October/November)Kislev (November/December)25th–2nd ChanukahTevet (December/January)10th 10thTevetShevat (January/February)15th Tu b’Shvat(Extra Adar – leap years only)Adar (February/March)13th Fast of Esther14th PurimNissan (March/April)*15th–21st Passover27th HolocaustMemorial DayIyar (April/May)5th IsraelIndependenceDay18th Lag b’Omer28th Jerusalem DaySivan (May/June)*6th ShavuotTammuz (June/July)17th 17thTammuzAv (July/August)9th Tisha b’AvElul (August/September)THE MONTHS AND FESTIVALS IN ORDERMonths Festival Months Festivaland dates Names and dates NamesTHE FESTIVALSThe Jewish calendar is a corrected lunar calendar.There are 365 days in thesolar year and 354 in 12 lunar months.An extra month is added in seven yearsin every 19; this system was worked out during the Babylonian exile – hencethe Babylonian names for the months. The festivals vary by four weeksagainst the civil calendar but the spring festival, Passover, always happensin Nissan (March/April) and no major correction has ever been needed.*An additional day is observed by Orthodox Jews in the diaspora
  • 178. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S180ULTRA-ORTHODOX Jews are dividedinto two main groups, Hasidimand Mitnagdim.HASIDISMHasidic Judaism originated in Poland in theeighteenth century. Its founder, known as ‘TheBesht’, an acronym meaning Master of the GoodName, felt the Judaism of his time was too focusedon scholarship and scholars. He emphasisedpersonal piety and the presence of God ineverything. His disciples developed his ideas andeach in turn gathered disciples. Later, differentHasidic sects were named after the places theirleader or ‘rebbe’ lived. The best-known Hasidicsect is Lubavitch who, in particular, emphasizeoutreach to less observant Jews.MITNAGDIMMitnagdim (opponents) originally criticized theearly Hasidim for allowing services to run latewith enthusiastic singing and dancing and forover-dependence on rabbis who sometimesexploited their followers. Today the term is usedfor non-Hasidic, very Orthodox Jews who devotethemselves to Jewish learning and live lives ofintense piety.MODERN ORTHODOXYModern Orthodox Jews believe that Jewish lawwas directly dictated by God to Moses and isimmutable but that this does not precludeinvolvement in the non-Jewish world. RabbiSamson Raphael Hirsch, a leader of nineteenth-century German Orthodoxy, said ‘Be a Jew at homeand a gentleman out in the street’ and encouragedhis followers to go to university and reach a highstandard of secular as well as Jewish education.MASORTI (CONSERVATIVE)In the United States, Conservative Judaism is amajor movement; numbers are smaller butJewish MovementsThe Jewish world used to be divided only by geography; each country would have its own foods,tunes for the liturgy and customs. In the last 200 years, Jews have been divided by ideology aswell as separated by distance.The division is not only between Orthodoxand Reform but between Modern Orthodoxy and Ultra-Orthodoxy.A S I AA U S T R A L I AC A N A D AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOceanPacificOceanJudaism Today4 million +400,000 – 600,000100,000 – 400,00040,000 – 100,00020,000 – 40,00010,000 – 20,0005,000 – 10,0001,000 – 5,000Less than 1,000World total – 14 millionA F R I C AISRAELcities with Jewish populationof over 200,000U S AM E X I C OCountries/areas with the greatestconcentration of adherentsJudaism TodayApproximately 14 million Jews accountfor 0.4 per cent of the world’spopulation across 134 countries.Themap shows the distribution of Jewsthroughout the world.
  • 179. J E W I S H M O V E M E N T S181increasing rapidly in the UK and Israel. Theirservices are traditional in style, although womenoften play a more active role than in Orthodoxy.They recognize that Jewish law has evolved overtime but aim to keep within traditionalparameters. Sometimes they innovate: they ordainwomen as rabbis, they annul marriages where thehusband refuses to divorce his wife, thuspreventing her from re-marrying and they permitdriving to synagogue on the Sabbath when it istoo far to walk. In Israel, where American ideasare considered alien and in the UK where‘Conservative’ has political connotations they callthemselves Masorti (‘traditional’).REFORMEarly Reform Jews in nineteenth-centuryGermany and the United States felt the dietarylaws and other rituals prevented them fromenjoying their new opportunities for integrationinto the surrounding culture. Some of theirinnovations were permitted in Jewish law but notcustomary usage, for instance prayer in thevernacular. They also omitted liturgical referencesto the return to Zion and reintroduction ofTemple sacrifices. Twenty-first-century ReformJews see more value in observance and havereintroduced some rituals and prayers discardedby their predecessors; the history of last centurydemonstrated the importance of Zionism (thebelief that Jews should have a state of their own).They believe men and women should play anequal role in synagogue life.LIBERALLiberal refers to the more radical of the twoprogressive Jewish movements in the UK (in pre-war Germany ‘Liberal’ meant the moretraditional wing). Liberal Jews and AmericanReform Jews – but not British ones – say that thechild of a Jewish father, educated as a Jew, shouldbe regarded as Jewish (traditional Judaism saysJewish status is passed on only by the mother).Their services use more English and they have amodern egalitarian formula for divorce.RECONSTRUCTIONISMReconstructionist Jews follow the writings ofMordecai Kaplan (1881–1983), an Americanthinker who regarded Judaism as a civilizationrather than a religion. He encouraged buildingJewish community centres so that broaderaspects of Jewish culture could flourish andvalued the food laws as part of Jewish culturerather than obedience to God’s word. Hebelieved that God is transcendent not immanent.CHAVURAHChavurot (‘fellowship groups’) originated in the1960s as small, informal groups wanting a moreparticipatory, egalitarian style of service thansynagogues then offered. They developed aradical Jewish spirituality, incorporating manyNew-Age ideas. Participants in their servicesoften sit in a circle rather than in formal rows asin most synagogues; the services often includemeditation and breathing exercises. Theirreligious thinkers have asked whether nuclearelectricity can be considered kosher; many of themediation practices they encourage exist intraditional esoteric Judaism but are not well-known in the mainstream community.Ashkenazi originally meant ‘German’ although it nowincludes all European Jews; as the majority in Europe and theUnited States Ashkenazi customs are usually wronglyassumed to apply to all Jews. Sephardi originally meant‘Spanish’. The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 proudlymaintained their distinctive liturgical and cultural traditionswhile living among Ashkenazim in the United States andEurope. Sephardi is now also used to describe Jews fromNorth Africa and the Middle East. Both Ashkenazim andSephardim developed their own tongue which mixed Hebrewand their local language; Ladino mingles Hebrew andSpanish, andYiddish combines Hebrew and German. In Spainbefore the expulsion there was a wonderful flowering ofJewish culture known as the Golden Age of Spain whichbenefited from the poetic and philosophic influences of thesurrounding Arabic world; many of the liturgical poemswritten by Judah HaLevi (c.1075–1141) and Solomon IbnGabirol (1020–57) are still in the prayer book and thephilosophy written by Moses Maimonides remains influential.The Sephardim never divided into groups with differentbeliefs as the Ashkenazim did. In Israel the differencesbetween the two communities are being eroded.ASHKENAZIM AND SEPHARDIM
  • 180. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SEight days after birth, health permitting,Jewish boys have a brit milah (‘covenantof circumcision’) when they arecircumcised and given a Hebrew name for useon religious occasions. Recently, new ceremonieshave been written to welcome baby girls into thecovenant – without circumcision. A month afterbirth, first-born baby boys from Orthodoxfamilies have a Pidyon HaBen, Redemption ofthe Firstborn; in Biblical times, the firstbornused to be dedicated to God’s service, then thetribe of Levi became priests for the whole nationbut firstborns are still ceremonially returned toordinary status.COMING OF AGEBoys at 13 and girls at 12 are considered Bar/BatMitzvah, responsible for their own observanceof the commandments and entitled to performceremonial roles in synagogue. To celebrate theirnew adult status, they say the blessings recitedover the Torah in the Sabbath morning serviceand may also read from the Bible, lead theservice or prepare a speech on the readings. Acelebration follows the service. In Progressivesynagogues boys and girls have identicalceremonies; this has led in recent years for a callfor greater observance of their religious maturityfor Orthodox girls; some now give a speech atthe end of the Sabbath service or say Torahblessings in a separate women-only service andsome share a ceremony with other girls, perhapson Sunday in the synagogue hall.Judaism in PracticeJudaism prescribes rituals for all stages of the life cycle and includes commandments to give charity andeat ‘proper’ or kosher food; all aspects of life connect to God and the commandments God gave to theJewish people.
  • 181. J U D A I S M I N P R A C T I C E183MARRIAGE‘Therefore a man shall leave his mother andhis father and hold fast to his wife, and theyshall be one flesh’. (Genesis, 2:24)Judaism believes that marriage is the happiestand holiest state for human beings. Jewishweddings take place under a canopy,symbolizing the couple’s future home. To makethe bride and groom happy on their weddingday is regarded as an important responsibilityfor all their guests. Traditionally the groomgave the bride a ring and a ketubah (marriagecontract) was written, detailing hisresponsibilities to her and fixing the alimonyto be paid in case of divorce. This isunromantic but practical; at the wedding, thegroom loves the bride, believes they will neverseparate and so may suggest a more generoussum than if the couple wait until the marriagehas irretrievably broken down before makingfinancial arrangements. These days marriage isregarded as a more equal responsibility andmany non-Orthodox couples exchange rings tosymbolize this. Judaism permits divorce and remarriage inthe hope that the second marriage may be moresuccessful but ‘the altar in heaven weeps when aman divorces the wife of his youth’ (Talmud).DEATHJudaism teaches that the soul is immortal.There are many mourning rituals for thebereaved which at first protect them in theirloss and then gradually help them return todaily life. At the funeral, the immediate familysay the kaddish, a prayer praising God. Afterthe funeral the mourners return home andshould be brought food, visited and consoledthroughout the next seven days. There follow30 days in which some mourning restrictionsstill apply. One says kaddish for a parent for 11months and for 30 days for other closerelatives; those who attend synagogue to saykaddish often find the support of thecommunity and other mourners helpful. On theanniversary of a death, the family light amemorial candle and say kaddish.GIVINGTOTHE POOR (TSEDAKAH)Judaism believes giving to the poor is a veryimportant part of religious life. Synagoguesoften have special funds to support the needy.The medieval Jewish philosopher, Maimonides,defined eight types of charitable giving and saidthat the highest is enabling the poor to becomeself-supporting.The laws for kosher eating are animportant part of Jewish life and identity.The commandments listed in the Bible –do not eat blood, do not cook a kid in itsmother’s milk, do not eat shellfish, do noteat birds of prey, only eat meat fromanimals with split hooves who chew thecud – were further developed by therabbis.They instituted shechitah (cuttingacross the arteries of the neck with asharp knife), a method of slaughterwhich extracts the maximum amount ofblood while minimizing the animal’ssuffering).They extended the prohibitionof cooking a kid in its mother’s milk tocomplete separation of all meat and milk,even prohibiting cooking them in thesame vessels or serving them with thesame plates and cutlery. Some havesuggested that the Biblical lawsrepresent a rudimentary system ofhygiene and are now an artificial barrierbetween Jews and others; others insistthat eating is a vital part of life and sopart of religious observance; blessingGod before eating food preparedaccording to God’s commands helpsconnect all daily life to theAlmighty.FOOD
  • 182. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SAFTER THE DESTRUCTION of theTemple, a prayer (‘the service of theheart’) replaced animal sacrifices.Known as HaTefillah (the Prayer) or theShmoneh Esreh (18 Blessings) or the Amidah(Standing Prayer), it starts with threeparagraphs in praise of God, continues onweekdays with requests for forgiveness, health,wellbeing and redemption, and always endswith three paragraphs thanking God. On theSabbath, God’s day of rest, petitions areinappropriate; the first three blessings and thelast three are said with one middle blessing,thanking God for the gift of Sabbath restand joy. There are pauses during and at theend of the set liturgy for private meditation.The Amidah is said morning, afternoonand evening.Morning and evening, Jews say the Sh’ma:‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord isone, … love the Lord your God with all yourheart and with all your soul and with all yourmight…’ (Deuteronomy, 6:4–5). In the prayerbook, the Sh’ma is preceded and followed byblessings thanking God for creation,remembering God’s love for the Jewish peopleand hoping for the coming of the Messiah.The Psalms form a major part of Jewishworship and some are included in all daily andfestival services.Jewish men – and nowadays some womentoo – cover their head with a kippah (skullcap)or hat when they pray as a sign of respect. At themorning service many wear a tallit, a large whiteshawl with a knotted fringe at the corners as areminder of God’s commandments (‘maketassels on the corner of your garments … it shallbe a tassel for you to look at and remember allthe commandments of the Lord...’ Numbers,15:37–41). The numerical value of the knots andJewish WorshipWorship of God is one of life’s central activities for religious Jews.‘The world stands on three things,Torah, worship and good deeds’ (Talmud)‘Before you pray, remember any good qualities you have or any good things you have done.Thiswill put life into you and enable you to pray from the heart’ (Nachman of Bratzlav, 1772–1811, aHasidic Rebbe).
  • 183. J E W I S H W O R S H I P185the Hebrew words for the threads equals 613,the number of the commandments in the Bible.The Sh’ma is written out on parchment andcontained in small black leather boxes – tefillinor phylacteries – worn at weekday morningservices by observant Jews on the arm andforehead to fulfil the commandment inDeuteronomy, 5:9: ‘Hold fast to these words as asign upon your hand and let them be asreminders before your eyes.’THE SABBATHShabbat (‘rest’) is a day on which no creativework is done, following God’s example: ‘... in sixdays the Lord made heaven and earth, and onthe seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’(Exodus, 31:17). This frees time for prayer,singing, walking, eating, studying and enjoyingoneself. This day is the crown of the week for aJew; a day of blessing and happiness. Twocandles are lit to usher in the Sabbath; and a cupof wine is blessed to declare the day holy. Bestclothes are worn and especially good mealseaten. The main synagogue service of the weektakes place on the Sabbath morning. Shabbatperhaps derives from the Babylonian shapattu,held on the seventh, 14th, 21st and 28th day ofthe month, when their gods were propitiated.SYNAGOGUEThere are three Hebrew names for thesynagogue, illustrating its three main roles(‘synagogue’ means the same in Greek): BeitHaKnesset (House of Assembly), Beit HaTefillah(House of Prayer) and Beit Hamidrash (House ofStudy). Originally, when the second temple wasstill standing before AD 70, people would meet inthe early synagogues to pray at the same times aswhen the sacrifices were offered. Once theTemple was destroyed in AD 70, the rabbisdeveloped the synagogue as the place of Jewishcommunity socializing, worship and study.HOMEMuch of Jewish observance takes place in thehome; a Jew with access to a synagogue but nofacilities for home observance would find itharder to live a Jewish life than one with nosynagogue available but with a well-equippedJewish home with a kosher kitchen and all thebooks and artefacts needed for study andfestival observance. Many festivals areobserved entirely or mainly at home: theSabbath meals, the Passover seder, the specialfoods associated with each festival, Chanukahcandle-lighting. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish womenwho have no role in the synagogue beyondcatering and perhaps special study sessions saythat because they set the religious tone of theirhome, they have a religious position asinfluential as their husband’s. The home is alsothe place of private prayer and study andchildren’s early Jewish education.Jews believe that they are God’s partners in bringing theworld into a state of perfection.Then the world will reach theMessianicAge, the future time of peace and perfection for alldescribed in the prophetical books of the Bible: for instanceIsaiah 11:9: ‘They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holymountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of theEternal as the waters cover the sea.’Therefore actions whichincrease harmony in the world are encouraged. Some prayerbooks specify that certain commandments are performed inorder to bring the Messiah – in Kabbalistic language, ‘to re-unite God and the divine presence (Shechinah)’.Tikkun Olam was especially important to many Zionists.Pioneers to the land of Israel believed that they had anopportunity to build a qualitatively different country to thediaspora countries they had left; some felt that in IsraelJews could return to the land, ‘build and be rebuilt’, living ahealthier life than the urban existence many had enjoyed –or endured – in the diaspora. A. D. Gordon, farmer, thinkerand writer (1856–1922) preached a ‘religion of labour andcloseness to nature’ and provided the ideology for thekibbutz movement whose members share everything –‘from everyone according to their ability, to everybodyaccording to their needs’. Many other social projectsin Israel have been developed out of a profound idealismand passion to build a society which fulfils Jewishconcepts of justice.PERFECTING THE WORLD: TIKKUN OLAM
  • 184. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S186ONCE CHRISTIANITY had becomethe established religion in Rome, therole of the Romans in the death ofJesus-who used crucifixion as a punishment- wasplayed down and that of the Jews exaggerated.The Romans used crucifixion as a method ofcapital punishment; post-Biblical Jews rarelyused capital punishment for any crime and nevercrucified. Christians believed that they hadinherited God’s covenant with the Jews; acommon image in medieval iconography is thechurch as a beautiful upright woman contrastedwith the blindfolded synagogue.In late-medieval times the Jews were attackedas Christ-killers and accused of using the blood ofChristian children to make unleavened bread forPassover and bringing plague to the communitiesin which they lived. Jews were restricted in theiremployment; among permitted occupations wasmoney-lending, which made them unpopularwith their debtors. Jews were often forced to weardistinctive clothing, expelled from manycountries, including England in 1290, attackedduring the Crusades in Europe and Palestine andforcibly converted to Christianity.Anti-JudaismJesus and his followers were all Jewish, but the two religions quickly became distinct, especiallyonce Jesus’ followers started converting non-Jews. By the time the gospels were written down,in order to increase the contrast between Jesus and the Jewish community, his Jewishcontemporaries, the Pharisees, were depicted wrongly as hypocrites and legalists although Jewsknow them to be creative and merciful in their interpretations.LondonMadridLisbonCórdobaGranadaSevilleToledoBarcelonaRomeNaplesVeniceFlorenceParisAmsterdamViennaBudapestEdirneConstantinopleCracowLvovKievMoscowAleppoDamascusJerusalemCairoFezTunisTripoliUlmRegensburgHanoverPORTUGALS PA I NT U N I S I AF R A N C EP O L A N DL I T H U A N I AE G Y P TARABIAR U S S I AO T T O M A N E M P I R EG E R M A N YM e d i t e r r a n e anS e aSegoviaBurgosCuencaValenciaLéridaToulouseBourgesAngersNantesRouenColchesterNorwichLynnYorkMainzErfurtStrassburgNurembergWürzburgBambergFrankfurtKoblenzFuldaMunichMülhausen14971492129013941492149214921492147014961496149814991499151915371553STYRIACARINTHIAAUSTRIAMECKLENBURGPOMERANIASAXONYexpulsionsdate of expulsionby 1300by 1400by 1500partly closed by1500principal massacresof Jewsareas closed to Jews1492Persecution of the Jews inMedieval EuropePersecution of the Jews in MedievalEuropeIn late-medieval Europe the Jews wereattacked as Christ-killers, restricted intheir occupations, forced to weardistinctive clothing, expelled frommany countries and massacred.
  • 185. A N T I - J U D A I S M187In recent years Christians have recognizedthe injustice of traditional Christian beliefsabout Judaism. In 1965 the Catholic Churchpublished Nostra Aetate which said that Jewswere not responsible for Jesus’ death, nor hadGod’s covenant with them ceased.Anti-Judaism did not exist only in Christiancountries. Muhammad began writing verypositively about Judaism, and Jewish influencecan be seen in Islam. When the Jews did notconvert to Islam he began to criticize them. Jewshad protected status in Muslim countries asfellow monotheists and were not subjected toforced conversion but were frequently compelledto wear special clothes and to pay special taxes.THE HOLOCAUST (SHOAH)Six million Jews, including 1.5 million childrenwere killed between 1942 and 1945 by NaziGermany. In Israel this is called the Shoah(‘catastrophe’); Holocaust, the term often usedin English, means ‘burnt-offering’; while manyof the victims were cremated, no God wouldwish to be so served. Adolf Hitler came to powerwhile Germany was suffering economicdepression, worsened by the punitive settlementsmade by the Allies at the end of the First WorldWar. He blamed Germany’s misfortunes on theJews and wanted to make Germany and thecountries it held Judenrein, ‘free of Jews’. It washard for Jews to get visas to countries not underGerman control before the Second World Warbegan and impossible thereafter; immigration toPalestine held under the British mandate as theJewish homeland was restricted in order not toanger the Arabs.After the Wannsee Conference in 1942 theNazis tried to develop the most efficient methodsof mass killing. Shooting groups, who were firstforced to dig a large trench into which theywould fall and be buried, was tried but wasconsidered expensive and inefficient. Six deathcamps were built to which Jews were deportedfrom all over Europe; after harrowing journeyscrammed into cattle cars they were herded into‘showers’, gassed and their bodies cremated.Other Jews were forced to staff death camps,made to work in labour camps or held inconcentration camps; short rations, disease andterrible conditions killed many but some survivedto testify after the war about their experiences.Considering that they were often unarmedand inexperienced fighters, there wasconsiderable Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Therewere revolts in five death camps and 25 of theghettoes to which many Jews were deported andforced to labour. Many escaped the ghettoes andjoined partisan groups. The Warsaw GhettoRevolt lasted from 19 April to 15 May 1943.Those unable to resist militarily often focused onspiritual resistance; aware that the Nazis wantednot only to kill Jews but degrade them, theyconsciously held onto theirhuman dignity.While many non-Jewshelped to carry out theNazi programme of massdestruction, either by activelyparticipating in the killing orby betraying Jews to the Nazis,others were willing to risk theirlives to hide or protect them.Theodore Herzl, a Viennese Jewish journalist, sent tocover the trial of Alfred Dreyfus, accused of treason onscanty evidence in Paris in 1894, decided that if suchblatant injustice could be perpetrated in France, the firstEuropean country to grant Jews full citizenship, then theJews needed a homeland of their own as a refuge fromanti-Semitism. He devoted the rest of his life tocampaigning to bring a Jewish state into existence.Theneed for a state where Jews could go as a refuge frompersecution was demonstrated as never before by theHolocaust. Herzl’s daughter died in Theresienstadt, aNazi concentration camp.Since 164 BC, Jews had prayed for the return to the landpromised by God to Abraham and his descendants. In thenineteenth century, before Herzl began his politicalcampaign, pioneers had already begun returning to Palestineand were living mostly in the four holy cities Hebron,Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias. Some Zionists ignored thequestion of the indigenous Palestinian population; othersassumed that it would be possible for Jews andArabs to livein peace and develop the land together.After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel took possession ofterritories which had been relinquished to Arab countriesunder the terms of a previous United Nations’ agreement.These occupied territories have been the source of Jewish-Arab tension ever since, with Israel seeing the areas as vitalto their national security, and Arabs struggling to regainpolitical dominance. Despite a 1995 peace treaty betweenYitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat (leader of the PalestineLiberation Organisation) which planned the withdrawal ofIsraeli troops and granted zones of self-government to thePalestinians, tensions still run extremely high.ZIONISM: SOLUTION TO ANTI-SEMITISM OR CAUSE OF IT?
  • 186. W O R L D R E L I G I O N SGURU NANAK founded the Sikh religionafter a revelatory experience at the age ofabout 38. He began to teach that truefaith consisted of being ever-mindful of God,meditating on God’s Name, and reflecting it in allactivities of daily life. Travelling throughout India,Sri Lanka, Tibet and parts of the Arab world hediscussed his revelation with people he met, andattracted followers of both Hindu and Muslimfaiths. Guru Nanak’s teachings of service, humility,meditation and truthful living became thefoundation of Sikhism.S I K H I S MOrigins and PracticeFounded only 500 years ago by Guru Nanak (1469–1539), Sikhism is one of the youngest of the world religions.Nanak was succeeded by nine Gurus, a common term in all Indian traditions for a spiritual guide or teacher.A Sikh (disciple, or seeker of truth) believes in One God and the teachings of theTen Gurus, enshrined inthe holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.Additionally, he or she must go through theAmrit ceremony, the SikhBaptism, which initiates Sikhs into Khalsa.The purpose of the Khalsa brotherhood is to abolish divisionsbased on caste, gender, or ethnicity. Fundamental to the faith is fostering compassion for people that arepoor or suffering, promoting equality among all people, cultivating a real personal devotion to God andseeking harmony among all human beings.The Mughal EmpireSikhism came into being at a timewhen the Mughals ruled India andEuropean colonialism was in itsinfancy.Although at firstinconspicuous, Sikhs began to attractattention early in the seventeenthcentury and this resulted in Mughalhostility, culminating in open warfareby the beginning of the eighteenthcentury.This map shows the extent ofthe Mughal ruler’s empires as well asthe various rebellious factions (theMarathas, the Satnamis, the Rajputs,the Jats and the Sikhs) within theempire at this time.Panipat 1526SIKHSJ AT SSATNAMISRAJPUTSMA R AT H A SBA L U C H I S TANKABULL A H OR EMUL T ANKASHMIRTATTA(SIND)A J ME R( R A J P U TA NA )D E L H IO U D HAGRAAL L A H A B A DB I HARB E N G A LO R I S SAMA LWAKHANDESHB E R A RAHMADNAGARHYDERABADBIJAPURMY S OR E GOLCONDAGUJERATBayofBengalGulfofArabiaCoromandelG i n g e l l yIndianOceanIndusYamunaGumtiGograGangesHimalayasMahanadGodavariKrishnaTaptiNarmadaWesternGhatsCarnaticAjantaHillsChambalCeylonDECCANTIBETKandaharKabulAttockPeshawarLahoreSamanaDelhiRanthanbhurLaswariFatehpurSikriAgraBianaHindaunGwaliorAjmerJodhpurSarkhejAhmadabadCambayBarodaBroachSuratSalsette IKalyanJanjiraPoonaAhmadnagarDaulatabadAssayeDabhoi SataraRajapurVengurlaBijapurBhatkalVijayanagarMangaloreCalicutQuilonTuticorinKayalMaduraiTanjoreSaint ThoméChandragiriNelloreNizampatam(Petapoli)VizagapatamGolcondaHyderabadNagpurPipliPlasseyKasimbazarChittagongRajmahalPatnaBenaresAllahabadLucknowDaccaAsirgarhLahari BandarMultanCHINAARAKANthe empire at Akbars death, 1605the empire under Shahjahan, 1628-57the empire c. 1700Maratha territories at Sivajisdeath, 1680peoples in rebellion againstMughal empire c. 1700STAJThe Mughal EmpireMalabarCoast
  • 187. O R I G I N S A N D P R A C T I C E189Guru Nanak appointed his successor who wasknown as Guru Angad and he was followed byeight subsequent Gurus. The last living guru, GuruGobind Singh, who died in 1708, pronounced theend of the line of succession and ordained theGuru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture, to bethe ultimate spiritual authority for Sikhs. TheGuru Granth Sahib was compiled and edited bythe Fifth Guru, Guru Arjun, in 1604. It occupiesthe same place in Sikh veneration that was given tothe living gurus, and its presence lends sanctity tothe Sikh place of worship, the Gurdwara.THE GURU GRANTH SAHIBThe Guru Granth Sahib contains the writingsand hymns of saints and preachers withdifferent religious backgrounds but whosephilosophy conformed to the spirit of Sikhism.The entire Sikh holy book is composed in musicand poetry. It contains 5,894 hymns, of whichGuru Nanak contributed 974, composed in 19ragas (musical modes). The singing of thesehymns from Guru Granth Sahib is an integralpart of Sikh service.The Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct)published in 1945, regulates individual andcorporate Sikh life. Life-cycle events arerecognized in Sikhism by naming of the newbornin the gurdwara, the marriage ceremony, and thefuneral, following which the body is cremated.Funeral monuments are prohibited. GuruGobind Singh, the Tenth Guru, instructed hisfollowers to drop their last names, which inIndia indicate one’s caste. All Sikh men,therefore, take the additional name Singh (lion)and women take the name Kaur (princess) toshow their acceptance of the equality of allpeople regardless of caste or gender. Anothersymbol of the Sikhs’ acceptance of universalequality is the langar. This is a meal, which iseaten together by the congregation, shared foodbecoming a social leveller.Sikhs do not have a priestly order, monks, ornuns. The Sikh ‘clergyman’ is the granthi,who is encouraged to marry. Sikhcongregations are autonomous.There is noecclesiastical hierarchy. The Akal Takhatheads the five temporal seats of Sikhreligious authority in India which debatesmatters of concern to the Sikh communityworldwide and issues edicts which aremorally binding on Sikhs. These decisionsare coordinated by the SGPC (the ShirominiGurdwara Parbandhak Committee) whichalso manages Sikh shrines in India. FormatSikh worship consists mainly of singing ofpassages of the Guru Granth Sahib to theaccompaniment of music. A passage of theholy book is read aloud and expounded uponby the granthi at the conclusion of thereligious service. The central prayer ofSikhs, Ardas, is recited by the granthi andthe assembled congregation. This prayergives a synopsis of Sikh history as well asbeing a supplication to God. Any Sikh withsufficient religious knowledge is permittedto conduct gurdwara worship in the absenceof a granthi. All are welcome to attend Sikhreligious services and to participate in thelangar served afterwards.THE GRANTHI
  • 188. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S190THE CORNERSTONE of Guru Nanak’steachings was equality. He said that inthe eyes of God everyone is equal andGod’s grace may come to the scholar as well asto the unlettered, high or low, the rich or poor.It does not depend on caste, knowledge orpenance. Guru Nanak denounced the idea thatspirituality was only for men and not forwomen. He perceived that there can be noenduring democratic culture unless grounded inrecognition of full gender equality. In a societydeeply divided by religion, gender and caste,and with widespread intolerance andexploitation, Guru Nanak instituted threepractices to promote equality and alleviatesuffering. Sangat was an invitation to people ofall castes and backgrounds to meditate together.Before or after the meditation, he asked peopleto sit and eat together irrespective of their socialbackground to create a sense equality,called pangat. He also started a traditionof free distribution of food to the richand poor alike at places of worship,named langar. These three institutionsstill exist in Sikh society today.ULTIMATE SPIRITUAL REALITYGuru Nanak defined God as a SupremeSpirit, Ultimate Spiritual Reality and herejected the idea of exclusiveness anduniqueness of any prophets, gods, raceor religion. God is loving father, mother,husband, wife, beloved and is seen inevery possible relationship. Guru Nanaksaid, ‘God created this universe andrevealed himself. To us and in us, Godhas manifested.’ ‘As fragrance dwells in aflower, and reflection in a mirror: so doesGod dwell in every soul.’ According toGuru Nanak, the material universe isGod’s creation. Its origin was in God andits end is in God: it operates within God’sHukam or God’s Order or Will. GuruNanak spoke of innumerable galaxies, oflimitless universe, the boundaries ofwhich are beyond human ability tocomprehend. As all creation has the same originand end, humans must endeavour to live inharmony with God’s creation, and nature, byconducting themselves through life with love,compassion, simplicity and justice.According to Guru Nanak, religion in its truesense is a search for the Ultimate Spiritual Realityand an effort to harmonize with it. The primarypurpose of human life is to merge with God underGuru Nanak’s TeachingsThe three basic tenets of Guru Nanak’s teachings are: Naam Japo – constant meditating uponGod’s Name; Kirt Karo – engage in an honest, non-exploitive labour; andWand Chakko – shareyour earnings, out of love and compassion for others.BA L U C H I S TANKABULL A H OR EMUL T ANKASHMIRA J ME R( R A J P U TA NA )O U D HAL L A H A B A DB I HARB E N G A LO R I S SAMA LWAKHANDESHB E R A RAHMADNAGARHYDERABADBIJAPURMY S OR E GOLCONDAGUJERATTATTA(SIND)AGRAD E L H IBayofBengalGulfofArabiaCoromandelG i n g e l l yMalabarCIndianOceanIndusYamunaGumtiGograGangesHimalayasMahanadGodavariKrishnaTaptiNarmadaWesternGhatsCarnaticAjantaHillsChambalCeylonDECCANTIBETKandaharKabulAttockPeshawarLahoreSamanaDelhiRanthanbhurLaswariFatehpur SikriAgraBianaHindaunGwaliorAjmerJodhpurSarkhejAhmadabadCambayBarodaBroachSuratSalsette IKalyanJanjiraPoonaAhmadnagarDaulatabadAssayeDabhoi SataraRajapurVengurlaBijapurBhatkalVijayanagarMangaloreCalicutQuilonTuticorinKayalMaduraiTanjoreSaint ThoméChandragiriNelloreNizampatam(Petapoli)VizagapatamGolcondaHyderabadNagpurPipliPlasseyKasimbazarChittagongRajmahalPatna SahibBenaresLucknowDaccaAsirgarhLahari BandarMultanAllahabadHazur SahibKeshgarh SahibDamdama SahibGolden Templeand Akal TakhtNankana SahibARAKANGuru NanakGuru Nanaks travelsTakhatsKartarpurSultanpur LodhiGuru NanakGuru Nanak was born in the Punjabivillage of Talvandi Rai Bhoi (nowNankana Sahib) in 1469.After achildhood spent in his village he wassent by his father to work in SultanpurLodhi.There he had a vision, tellinghim to renounce everything andventure out and teach the ‘Nam’ (theword of God). For over 20 years hetravelled extensively (see map) andeventually settled down in Kartarpuron the Ravi river where he continuedto teach. He died in Kartarpur in 1539.Also shown are the locations of theFive Takhats of Khalsa (‘takhat’meaning throne).They are consideredto be the seats of Sikh religiousauthority, and as such are of greatsignificance to the Sikh community.
  • 189. G U R U N A N A K ’ S T E A C H I N G S191the guidance of true Guru, attained throughmeditating and contemplating on God’s presencewhile still taking an active part in every-day life.ENLIGHTENMENTGuru Nanak’s ethics of truthful living weredirected towards enlightenment rather thanredemption. To him enlightenment notsalvation was of primary importance, whichhappens only through God’s grace.Enlightenment leads to spirituality, whichinspires humans to dedicate his or her life to theservice of humanity. Such were the universallyapplicable ethics of truth and dedication, whichGuru Nanak strove to promote as true religionamong humankind.The tenth and the last Guru, Guru GobindSingh (1666–1708) initiated the SikhBaptism ceremony in 1699, givingdistinctive identity to the Sikhs. The firstfive baptized Sikhs were named ‘PanjPyare’ (‘Five Beloved Ones’), and they inturn baptized the Guru on his request. Atthe Amrit ceremony, the initiate promisesto follow the Sikh code of conduct as anintegral part of the path toward God-realization. He or she vows at that time toabstain from the use of tobacco and otherintoxicants; to never cut the hair on anypart of the body; to not eat the meat ofanimals killed in a religious or sacrificialmanner; to refrain from any sexual contactoutside of marriage; and to wear the fivesymbols of Sikhs.After this ceremony, the initiate isconsidered a part of the Khalsa (Belonging toGod) brotherhood. Khalsa means aspiritually integrated person alive to hisduties both to God and society, and isenjoined to tithe both time and income and topray and meditate daily. He or she must live amoral life of service to mankind, in humilityand honesty.The five symbolic ‘K’s’ worn bythe initiated Sikh are: unshorn hair, overwhich men wear a turban; comb; a steelbracelet; a short sword; and a garment that isusually worn under a Sikh’s outer clothesINITIATION CEREMONY
  • 190. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S192In Sikhism, time is cyclical, not linear, soSikhism has no eschatological beliefs. Timeis seen as repeated sequences of creationand destruction, and individual existence isbelieved to be a repeated sequence of birth,death, and rebirth as the soul seeks spiritualenlightenment. Sikhs believe that greed, lust,pride, anger, and attachment to the passingvalues of earthly existence constitute haumai(self-centeredness). This is the source of allevil. It is a person’s inclination to evil thatproduces the karma that leads to endlessrebirth. Haumai separates human beings fromGod. Sikhism teaches that human life is theopportunity for spiritual union with theSupreme Being; and for release from the cycleof death and rebirth. Enlightenment happensonly through God’s grace and inspires humansto dedicate their lives to the service ofhumanity. According to Nanak grace does notdepend on caste, knowledge, wisdom orpenance. Those who seek it through love,service and humility attain the goal of life.THE UNIVERSE AND NATURE OF GODGuru Nanak defined God as the UltimateSpiritual Reality and he rejected the idea ofexclusiveness of any prophets, gods, race, orreligion. To Sikhs, religion in its true sense, is asearch for the Ultimate Spiritual Reality and aneffort to harmonize with it. Enlightenment, notredemption, is the Sikh concept of salvation.The material universe is God’s creation. Itsorigin was in God and its end is in God; and itoperates within God’s hukam (God’s Order).Descriptions of the universe and its creation inSikh scripture are remarkably similar to recentscientific speculation about the universe and itsorigin. One of the basic hymns in the SikhScripture describes the indeterminate void beforethe existence of this universe. Guru Nanak spokeof innumerable galaxies, of a limitless universe,the boundaries of which are beyond humanability to comprehend.The nature of God is not to be understoodthrough one’s intellect, but through personalspiritual experience. A believer has to meditateupon this belief, in order to experience theexistence of God. The emphasis is on masteryover the self and the discovery of the self; notmastery over nature, external forms and beings.God is Omnipotent, Omniscient andSikh PhilosophyThe basic postulation of Sikhism is that life is not sinful in its origin, but having emanated from aPure Source, the true one abides in it. Nanak wrote: ‘O my mind, thou art the spark of the SupremeLight. Know thy essence.’ Not only the entire Sikh philosophy, but all of Sikh history flows fromthis principle.The religion consists of practical living, in rendering service to humanity andengendering tolerance and love towards all.The Sikh Gurus did not advocate retirement from theworld in order to attain salvation. It can be achieved by anyone who earns an honest living andleads a normal life.
  • 191. S I K H P H I L O S O P H Y193Omnipresent in Sikhism. He is present in allrelationships, directs all events within theuniverse, and watches over them in the mannerof a kind and compassionate parent.THE SECOND POSTULATEHumans, practising a highly disciplined life arecapable of further spiritual progression. It isimportant that Sikhs retain the primacy ofspirit over material matter, but it is not requiredthat they renounce the world. However, theyshould reject conspicuous consumption andmaintain a simple life, respecting the dignity inall life, whether human or not. Such a respectfor life can only be fostered where one can firstrecognize the Divine spark within oneself, see itin others, and cherish it, and nurture it.SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINEHumans have the capability to further theirspiritual progression through conscious choice.The method suggested by Guru Nanak is one ofspiritual discipline, meditation and prayer, andsharing. Sikhism emphasizes mastering Haumai.This is achieved by developing five positiveforces: Compassion, Humility, Contemplation,Contentment and Service (seva) withoutexpecting any material or spiritual reward.Sikhism also preaches strong familyinvolvement, in which a person pursuing thisspiritual discipline also works to create anatmosphere for other members of the family toprogress spiritually.THETHIRD POSTULATEThe third postulate is that the true end of thehuman beings is in their emergence as God-conscious beings, who operate in the materialworld, with the object of transforming andspiritualising it into a higher plane of existence.In this spiritual state individuals are motivatedby an intense desire to do good, transformingtheir surroundings.Enlightened spirits become benefactors ofhumanity and the world around them. Suchindividuals would not exploit another human orsentient being, as each is a manifestation of theeternal and the supreme. In this God-consciousstate they see God in all and everything, and aSikh life is one of harmony with otherindividuals, beings and forms.The Sikh view is that spirit and matter arenot antagonistic. Guru Nanak declaredthat the spirit was the only reality andmatter is only a form of spirit. Spirit takeson many forms and names under variousconditions.“When I saw truly, I knew that all wasprimeval.Nanak, the subtle (spirit) and the gross(material) are, in fact, identical.”(Guru Granth Sahib, page 281)That which is inside a person, the same isoutside; nothing else exists;By divine prompting look upon allexistence as one and undifferentiated;(Guru Granth Sahib, page 599)The chasm between the material and thespiritual is in the minds of humans only. Itis a limitation of the human condition thatspirit and matter appear as duality, andtheir unity is not self-evident.UNITY OF SPIRIT AND MATTER AND THEINTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL CREATION
  • 192. S I K H I S M T O D A YTHE COMMUNITY OF HUMANITYIn modern times, the lesson of equality that istaught by the langar, the meal eaten together bySikh congregations, extends beyond caste-obliteration to the acceptance and toleration ofpeople of all races, creeds and nationalities.Sikhs do not disparage other faiths, nor claimsole possession of the truth. Sikhism does notattempt to convert adherents of other faiths. Inthe West, Sikh congregations belong to localinterfaith associations and participate fully intheir efforts such as environmental protectioncampaigns, issues affecting children, AIDS,food and other help for the homeless anddisplaced. In India particularly, there are manyfree clinics operated by Sikhs, which acceptpersons of all religious and castes as patients. Insome Western cities, Sikhs have continued thattradition. Since the intrinsic spirit of Sikhismis pluralistic, it has much to contributetowards inter-faith and inter-communityaccommodation. It is a willing partner in theemergence of a pluralistic world communitythat preserves the rights of human dignity andfreedom for all human beings. In witness of thisattitude and spirit, the Ardas, recited at theend of a Sikh religious service ends with thewords ‘May the whole world be blessed byyour grace’.A cornerstone of the Sikh faith is the conceptof seva, the selfless service of the community –not just the Sikh community, but the communityof man. Bhai Gurdas, an early Sikh theologian,said: ‘Service of one’s fellows is a sign of divineworship’. What one does in selfless service isconsidered to be a real prayer. A Sikh who, withno thought of reward, serves others, performsthe truest form of worship, whether he is feedingthe homeless or bringing company andcompassion to people who suffer.Sikhism seeks to give humanity a progressiveand responsible philosophy as a guide to all ofthe world’s concerns. Believing that there is apart of the divine in all that God created, theinterdependence of all generations, species andresources must be recognized. Sikhs advocatepreserving what was given to humanity andpassing it on in a healthy and robust condition,hence their strong involvement in theenvironmental movement.Since the 1960s, however, there has existeda group, generally called the AmericanSikhs, whose leader is Yogi HarbhajanSingh. American Sikhs are easilydistinguished from others by their all whiteattire and by the fact that turbans are wornby both men and women. This group nownumbers about 5,000. The majority ofAmerican Sikhs, who refer to their groupas 3HO (Healthy, Happy, HolyOrganization) know only limited Punjab.Indian Sikhs and American Sikhsare mutually accepting and visit oneanother’s gurdwaras.THE HEALTHY, HAPPY, HOLY ORGANISATION195
  • 193. TainanTaichungTamsui SanshiaChengduBeijingPyongyangSeoulShanghaiFuzhouZhengzhouKunmingChangshaJimingChang-anXiningHoaming ShanQingcheng ShanQian ShanKunlun ShanLao ShanTai ShanTiantai ShanKuocang ShanGoulou ShanJiuyi ShanHeng ShanHeng ShanWutai ShanBaodu ShanLongmen ShanWangwu ShanHua ShanSong ShanTaibai ShanZhongnan ShanJiuhua ShanYuntai ShanTongbo ShanMao ShanJingai ShanWudang ShanHuo ShanLonghu ShanWuyi ShanGezao ShanMaqi ShanXi ShanPingdu ShanJAPANM O N G O L I AC H I N AI N D I ABHUTANBANGLADESHB U R M AT H A I L A N DV I E T N A ML A O SN O R T HK O R E AS O U T HK O R E AN E P A LP A K I S T A NT A I W A NTaoist templesCitiesMountains associated withTaoismTaoism in ChinaArea with TaoistinfluenceArea with historicalTaoist influenceW O R L D R E L I G I O N S196THE EARLIEST KNOWN religion inChina is shamanism – the roots ofwhich lie north of China in Siberia.Shamans communicate between the two worldsof the physical world of this earth with itscreatures and the spiritual world of the deities.China has the world’s oldest recorded shamanicliterature including poems of divination fromc. 1200 BC as well as an entire cycle of Shamanicsongs dating from c. fourth century BC called theChu Ci (Songs of the South). Shamanism wasa major formative force in the early culture ofChina, creating priestly kings through most ofthe second millennium BC. These gradually gaveway to specifically military and political rulerswhile the shamans became court magicians anddivination experts.THE ROLE OF SHAMANThe gradual end of the official courtly role ofshamans came as a result of the rise of theConfucian elite. The world of shamans wasTA O I S MOriginsTaoism is the main surviving religion native to China. Its roots liefar back in Chinese shamanism and in philosophy and its namecomes from the Chinese word for the way – meaning ‘theWay,the very essence, of nature’. It developed into a full-blownreligion from the second century AD.Taoism in ChinaThere are numerous sacred mountains in China, many of whichare traditionally associated with Taoism.To Taoists, mountainsare places of retreat, far removed from society, where naturein its full power can be contemplated.At the start of theCommunist period in China,Taiwan became an importantcentre for Taoism, which is now home to some two millionTaoists.Temples that were destroyed during the CulturalRevolution in mainland China are now slowly being rebuiltand restored, as the religion is recovering itself.
  • 194. O R I G I N197one of spiritual forces, unpredictability anddivination. The Confucians, as the mainlegislative and administrative officials deeplyconcerned with government law, were theopposite: they sought order, control and logicand saw the shamans as unpleasant leftovers ofa primitive worldview – anarchic anddisordered. With the rise of the Confucian elitefrom the fourth century BC onwards, theshamans were gradually but firmly removedfrom positions of power or authority by theConfucian elite until by the first century BCthey had been to all intents and purposespushed underground.The essential spirit of shamanism was toresurface in a more ‘respectable’ form throughthe rise of a new religion from the secondcentury AD onwards – Taoism.THE RISE OFTAOISMWhile shamanism was declining, the quest forimmortality was rising. This was a belief thatcertain substances or practices could ensure thephysical body, and thus the spirit never died. TheFirst Emperor (221–209 BC) was obsessed by thisquest. It is another stream of thought and practice,which flowed into the creation of Taoism.In the second century AD, these streams cametogether in the rise of a number of shamanic-typecharismatic figures who developed a new semi-philosophical framework, within whichshamanic practices such as exorcism, combinedwith the quest for immortality, were expressedanew within a religious philosophy of the Tao.One of the key moments in the origin of Taoismas a religious movement is usually taken to be anexperience of Zhang Dao Ling at some time inthe first half of the second century AD when thischarismatic healer/preacher – very much withinthe shamanic tradition – had a vision. In thevision Lao Zi, the reputed author of a majorbook of philosophy of the Tao, known as theDao De Jing, gave Zhang the power touse his teachings to bind evil forces and healthose who repented of their sins.Lao Zi was a philosopher who livedsometime in the sixth century BC and towhom a book of sayings – Dao De Jingmeaning TheVirtue of theWay – about theTao is credited. We actually knowvirtually nothing about him – the veryname just means Old Master. He was oneof many hundreds of key philosopherswho, from the sixth to fourth centuriesBC, explored concepts of theTao – whichsimply means ‘theWay’ as in a path.TheWay had originally been used as a moralterm – Confucians saw the Tao as themoral path, which the world had to followto remain balanced. But Lao Zi took thisfurther and explored theTao as the veryorigin of nature – the source of the origin– the very foundation of all reality.When Zhang Dao Ling claimed thatLao Zi had given him authority overspiritual forces, the key to immortalityand the power of the Dao De Jing tocombate evil, Zhang fused elements ofthe officially discredited shamanism ofthe ordinary folk with the quest forlongevity and immortality and thephilosophical and quintessentiallyanti-Confucian/elite teachings ofphilosophers such as Lao Zi. From thisstrange conglomeration came Taoism –the Way of the Tao, the religion offollowing Nature’s Path, of seekingimmortality and of combating the forcesof evil spirits.THE VIRTUE OF THE WAY
  • 195. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S198TAOISM TEACHES that theworld, indeed the entire cosmos isfinely tuned and balanced and that therole of humanity is to maintain this balance.Central to Taoism is the creed-like statementfound in Chapter 42 of the Dao De Jing, the keytext of Taoism:The Tao is the Origin of the One:The one is the Origin of the Two:The Two give birth to the Three:The Three give birth to every living thing.In other words, the Tao is the primal source ofall unity and existence – the One. From this onecomes the twin forces of yin and yang – polaropposites that are locked in a struggle forsupremacy, which can never be achievedbecause they each contain the seed of the otherwithin them. Thus, for example, autumn andwinter are yin but inexorably give way to springand summer, which are yang, which in turn giveway to autumn and winter.THE WAYIn Taoism, the Tao – the Way – moves frombeing a descriptive term for the relentless cycle ofthe natural world to being to all intents andpurposes the ultimate ‘divine’ force. The Tao isclassically represented in Taoist temples by threestatues. These statues – male figures – representthe Tao as the Origin, the Tao as manifest in thehuman form of the sage Lao Zi and the Tao asWord – as found in the Dao De Jing.The two forces of yin and yang dominate allexistence and from their dynamic, eternalstruggle they produce the three of Heaven, earthand humanity. Heaven is yang while earth is yinand their interaction gives rise to the forces whichenliven all life. Humanity is the pivot upon whichthis all hinges. We have the power to throw theTaoist Beliefs and PracticesThe essence ofTaoism is maintaining the balance of nature – of theTao – through controlling and influencing the forces of yin andyang, exorcising evil spirits and seeking immortality.Taoistpriests also act as local priests to many communities, offeringadvice, prayers and rituals, which maintain local life and offerthe individual solace and comfort.
  • 196. T A O I S T B E L I E F S A N D P R A C T I C E S199cosmos out of kilter by creating too much yin ortoo much yang, or to balance the cosmos. Taoismembodies this in many of its liturgies and rituals.Taoism also offers the individual the chanceto slough off sins and misdemeanours throughrituals of repentance and of exorcism. It alsoseeks to control the forces of the spirit world,which can break through to harm this world. Forexample it exorcises or placates ghosts of thosewhose descendents have not offered the correctrituals to ensure they pass to the spirit world.IMMORTALITYOne of the most important areas of teaching isthe possibility of achieving longevity and evenimmortality. Taoism teaches that immortality isabout ensuring the physical body is transformedinto an eternal body through rituals and evendiet. The quest for immortality and thesupernatural powers which this involves, hasbeen a major facet of the mythology of Chinaand manifests itself today in seriouspractitioners on sacred mountains and in theextravagant antics, such as flight, of certainfigures in popular Chinese movies and stories.The quest for immortality takes many forms.For some it is the literal quest for certain foodsand substances which if eaten will transform thebody. For others it is daily meditationalpractices which encourage the growth of aspiritual body. For yet others it is a life ofabstinence and devotion, undertaken as ahermit in the wild, by which the body becomessimply a part of the cosmic Tao and thus cannever die.Taoism offers many rituals, charms,prayers and prescriptions for dealingwith physical ailments and psychologicaltroubles. It is possible to find a charm tobe cited, burnt or ingested for almost anyproblem. As such it plays the role ofpriest, psychologist and counsellor formany people.Taoist rituals are only tangentiallyrelated to the major rites of passage suchas birth, marriage and death.A traditionalChinese wedding will involve elements ofBuddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.Taoism’s role is more to do withestablishing a relationship between thecommunity and the spirit world – in theway that shamans link the spirit worldwith the physical. Taoism claims thepower to control and shape the behaviourof the spirit world in order to enhance thelife of those here on earth.There is still,nevertheless, an element of dealing withunpredictable forces in theTaoist ritualsof invoking the spirit world. All of this isseen as part and parcel of maintaining thebalance of nature – of theTao.TAOIST RITUALS
  • 197. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S200Lao Zi and Zhuang ZiThe two most formative figures inTaoist philosophy never saw themselves asbelonging to a religion calledTaoism. Lao Zi lived in the sixth century andZhuang Zi in the fourth century BC. In their books, the Dao De Jing and theeponymous Zhuang Zi they explored the understanding of reality throughexploring the meaning of theTao – theWay.LAO ZI LIVED at the same time asConfucius, c. sixth century BC, yet weknow virtually nothing about him. Thathe wrote some of the verses in the Dao De Jingseems clear because a certain number are writtenin the first person. It is likely, however, that thebulk of the Dao De Jing are wisdom sayings andcommentaries which were originally passeddown orally and then came to be associated withthe wisdom of Lao Zi. The Dao De Jing has beendescribed as a handbook to leadership. Itsattitude to such a role is reflected in Chapter 17:‘The highest form of governmentis what people hardly even realizeis there..[…]Next down is the dictatorshipThat thrives on oppression and terror –And the last is that of those who lieAnd end up despised and rejected.The sage says little –and does not tie the people down:And the people stay happyBelieving that what happens,happens, naturally.’Perhaps the most famous line of all in the DaoDe Jing sums up the reason why theConfucians, who wanted logic, found thethoughts of the Taoist so hard to handle. It is thequintessential text of doubt and of humility
  • 198. L A O Z I A N D Z H U A N G Z I201before the sheer inconceivability of the Originof all and is the opening lines of Chapter 1:‘The Tao that can be talked about is notthe true Tao.The name that can be named is not theeternal Name.Everything in the universe comes outof Nothing.’ZHUANG ZIZhuang Zi takes up this theme of theunknowability of the ultimate and of theinadequacy of language to capture that which isbeyond. Zhuang Zi was a rumbustuouscharacter who lived in the fourth century BC andin his book of the same name we find one of themost entertaining, moving and complexcharacters of ancient philosophy. An inveteratearguer, joker and wit, he takes language to itslimits and bursts it through stories and ridicule.Perhaps one of the most famous of hisexplorations of what is reality is the butterflydream in chapter 2:‘Once upon a time I, Zhuang Zi, dreamt thatI was a butterfly, flitting around and enjoyingmyself. I had no idea I was Zhuang Zi. Thensuddenly I woke up and was Zhuang Zi again.But I could not tell, had I been Zhuang Zidreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterflydreaming I was now Zhuang Zi?’Zhuang Zi also introduces a key term in Taoismwith the phrase wu-wei – translated as ‘actionlessaction’. In Chapter 22 he defines wu-wei thus:‘One who follows the Tao daily does lessand less.As he does less and less, he eventuallyarrives at actionless action.Having achieved actionless action, there isnothing which is not done.’For Zhuang Zi, the Tao is about being natural,about being true to your ‘innate nature’. Hesees the innate nature as something good andgiven which becomes distorted when people tryto reform others, make them conform to theirideas or do what they think is right. He isanarchic in his approach to authority anddismisses all attempts to control as attacks onthe innate and essential goodness of humannature. This strand of optimism about thenature of life runs throughout Taoism and canbe seen for example in the Taoist Association ofChina’s statement on ecology:‘Taoism has a unique sense of value in that itjudges affluence by the number of differentspecies. If all things in the universe grow well,then a society is a community of affluence. If not,this kingdom is on the decline.’For both Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi, words andknowledge are secondary to experience andreflection. This is at the heart of the philosophyof Taoism.
  • 199. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S202TAOISM IS THE quintessential Chinesereligion and for the majority of its historyhas been found only within China itself.However, the migration of the Chinese intoSoutheast Asia over the last 200 years has led to aspread of Taoism and Taoist ideas into many partsof Asia. For example, Malaysia has over 7,500Taoist temples; Indonesia has now longestablished-Taoist temples where the Chinese havesettled; Singapore has some of the most importantcentres of Taoism outside China. In many suchplaces, Taoism has merged with local traditionsand also offers a home for Buddhist and Confucianideas and beliefs. It is very much a parochial formof Taoism, lacking the great spiritual centres ofTaoism in China such as the sacred mountains orthe historic centres like Mao Shan. However it isnot uncommon to find Taoism shrines in SoutheastAsia which have a stone taken from one of thesacred mountains, especially the greatest Tai Shan,and venerated as a physical link back to China.Beyond Southeast Asia, the Chinese diasporahas created substantial communities in placessuch as California, the United Kingdom, Canadaand the Netherlands. Insuch communities, Taoismplays a role though usuallyas part of the backcloth oftraditional beliefs againstwhich life in these Chinesecommunities is played out.In a few places, specificTaoist centres have come into being but this hasusually been linked to the growing interest inTaoism amongst non-Chinese.THE WEST ANDTAOISMThe teachings of Taoism were firstsympathetically introduced to the West byreturning Christian missionaries and scholarlyacademics in the late nineteenth century. Sincethen certain key books, such as the Dao De Jingand to a lesser extent the Zhuang Zi, have becomeinternational best-selling religious classics. Theiconography of Taoism, especially the yin/yangsymbol has become popular with Westerners whooften remain ignorant of the philosophy behindsuch a symbol but like its ‘feel’.Taoism Beyond ChinaTaoism, for centuries only found in China, has in the last200 years spread wider inAsia and in the last 50 years totheWest, at the same time it has undergone the greatestpersecution of its history in China.A S I AA F R I C AN O R T HA M E R I C AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanTaoism Beyond ChinaImportant centres of TaoismCountries/areas with a Taoist influenceCultures into which Taoism hasbeen assimilatedWorld total – 20 millionA U S T R A L I AHong KongTaoism beyond ChinaAlthough for most of its historyTaoismhas been confined to China,themigration of the Chinese into SoutheastAsia over the last 200 years has led tothe spread ofTaoism andTaoist ideasinto many parts ofAsia.The Chinesediaspora has also created substantialcommunities in places such as California,the UK,Canada,the Netherlands,Australia and New Zealand.
  • 200. T A O I S M B E Y O N D C H I N A203Unlike Buddhism, there has been no seriousattempt to missionize the West by Taoistmasters. There is no equivalent to the impact ofthe Dalai Lama on the West nor that oforganizations such as the Hare Krishnas.Instead, Taoism has few centres but greatappeal as something which individuals engagewith at their own pace and with their ownintegrity. In North America and to a muchlesser degree in the United Kingdom andEurope, there are a few Taoist centres andmovements but they are very small and modestin their goals. There has instead been a spreadof Taoist ideas into the wider culture of theWest. The use of the yin/yang symbol has beennoted, but the ideas of Feng Shui andTraditional Chinese medicine, both rooted to acertain degree in Taoism, have become verypopular and are often used by people whowould see themselves as belonging toChristianity or Judaism for example, but whofind these ‘Taoist’ ideas helpful.THE STUDY OFTAOISMScholarly study of Taoism is also quite a smallfield but is having an impact beyond its modestscale. For while the West has been collectinginformation and analyzing Taoism, the faithwas almost wiped out during the CulturalRevolution in China from 1966–76. During thisperiod, virtually all Taoist temples were closed;thousands destroyed; up to 95 per cent of allstatues destroyed and Taoism as an organizedfaith very nearly died out. Mao launched theCultural Revolution to destroy the vestiges ofChina’s past. He very nearly succeeded.As a result, it has been only since c. 1980 thatTaoism has been able to reorganize itself andslowly try to get its temple sites restored to it. Inthe process, it has lost much of its traditionalscale and even its understanding of the deitiesand of Taoist practice. To some degree it has hadto look to the West for accounts and resources torebuild its presence in China. It is also true to saythat as a result of the Cultural Revolution, manyof the practices and deities associated with theImperial world of ancient China have died outand no-one is particularly interested in revivingthem. Instead, the most popular deities beingworshipped and supported at Taoist temples inChina are those to do with wealth, health,success and fertility. It is therefore outsidemainland China that one finds the imperialdeities such as the City God or the Jade Emperorof Heaven worshipped.To a certain degree Taoism is going throughone of the most challenging and radical stages ofits long history. Structures and beliefs, whichhave remained unchanged and unchallenged forcenturies, have been thrown into sharp relief byboth the persecution of Taoism in China and bythe encounter with interested but questioningWestern thought and practice.
  • 201. W O R L D R E L I G I O N S204THE RELIGIONS OF India and Persiain Zarathustra’s time were polytheistic.Zarathustra, who was probably apriest in what is now Iran, formulated a newreligion that attempted to concentrate the manygods of these faiths into one, Ahura Mazda,meaning Wise One. Ahura Mazda, it seems,appeared to Zarathustra in a vision andappointed him to preach asha, the truth.Creator of the universe and the cosmic order,Ahura Mazda brought two spirits into being.One was the spirit of truth, light, life and good,Spenta Mainyu. The other was Angra Mainyu,the spirit of darkness, deceit, destruction anddeath. World history comprises the ongoingcosmic struggle between the two Mainyus.Ahura Mazda is therefore not omnipotent, buthe and Angra Mainyu represent the contestbetween good and evil, or asha (truth) and druj(lies), which is weighted in favour of the former.Humans must join the cosmic struggle, bringingboth body and soul to the great contest, but theymust not debilitate themselves by fasting orcelibacy, both of which are forbidden inZoroastrianism. Zarathustra’s monotheisticconcept did not make Ahura Mazda the onlyfocus of faith. There were also the souls knownas Fravashis, which are venerated byZoroastrians. The Fravashis also participate inthe cosmic struggle as and when their aid isenlisted. In this, the Fravashis resemble thesaints of Roman Catholicism.FIRE AND DIVINITYAhura Mazda is represented by fire, which isbelieved to be a manifestation of the power ofcreation and God’s divinity. Fire is a sacredelement of Zoroastrianism, and is used in allreligious ceremonies. The focal points ofworship are the fire temples, which house asacred fire that must never be allowed to go out.The architecture of the temples is designed toreflect this. The fire must also never becontaminated, and the Zoroastrian laity areforbidden to touch the fire. Priests areresponsible for fuelling the fire, and mustconstantly purify themselves to avoidcontamination. This includes wearing a mask orPadan, which covers the nose and mouth.THE GATHAS ANDTHE ATTRIBUTESThe Gathas is a set of 17 hymns written byZarathustra himself. Other texts were lateradded, but many were destroyed in thepersecutions that followed invasions of Persiaby the ancient Greeks, the Muslims and theMongols. The language of the Gathas is a veryancient tongue, Avestan, which resembledZoroastrianismLike Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that still survivestoday, albeit with a relatively small number of followers.There are only a few hundred thousandpractising Zorastrians left in Iran, where the religion first emerged, with the largest group beingthe Parsees in India who number around 125,000. It is thought by some to have been foundedaround 1200 BC; by others around 588 BC by Zarathustra, later known as Zoroaster. Its firstadherents were the pastoral nomads of the ancientAfghanistan-Persian border areas.Subsequently, Zoroastrianism became the chief faith of Persia before the arrival of Islam.
  • 202. 205Sanskrit, the language of the Aryans of India. Itwas in the Gathas that Zarathustra presentedAhura Mazda as the sole transcendent god whocreated the world through his divine Attributes.Zarathustra did not name a particular numberof Attributes, but they have been specified asseven, known as Amesha Spentas, orBounteous Immortals, all of which include anattribute of Ahura Mazda and human virtue aswell. The seven Attributes start with VohuManah, or good thought. Asha Vahishtarepresents justice and truth, Kshathra standsfor dominion, Spenta Armaiti for devotion andserenity. Wholeness, or Haurvatat, is the fifthAttribute, followed by Ameretat, immortality,and the good spirit, Spenta Mainya, creativeenergy. In the Gathas, the Attributes aresometimes personified, or sometimes existsimply as ideas. The basic concept inZoroastrianism is dedication to moralexcellence and ethics, as expressed in the motto‘good thoughts, good words, good deeds’.ZOROASTRIAN WORSHIP AND BELIEFSZoroastrian ceremonies centre round a sacred fire,but only as a symbol on which the acts of worshipare concentrated. There is no belief in reincarnationor in karma, divine judgement of acts performedduring life. Rather, humans are judged on the basisof whether good or evil predominated in theirlives. After that, souls are consigned to Heaven,the best existence, or Hell, the worst existence.Zoroastrianism, a fundamentally optimisticfaith, teaches that collectively, the good done byhumanity will transform the world into aheavenly utopia, and when time ends, all souls,I, who have set my heart onwatching over the soul, inunion with GoodThought, andas knowing the rewards ofMazda Ahura for our works,will, while I have power andstrength, teach men to seekafter Right.From the Ahunaviati GathaDeath and dead matter are pollutingelements in Zoroastrianism and disposal ofdead bodies have been traditionally carriedout at private ceremonies within theDakhma-nashini, better known as theTowersof Silence. This reflects the revulsion fordead bodies that was a feature of the ancientAryan culture of northern India, and Aryanideas, in fact, permeate the Zoroastrianceremonies.The only people who can toucha body which, it is believed, is filled with theevil spirit of putrefaction up to three hoursafter death, are specially designated corpse-bearers.The body is first bathed in the urineof a white bull, the clothes are destroyed andare replaced by special religious dress, theSudreh-Kusti. After the Geh-Sarnaceremony, which is designed to fortify thedead soul, family membersmake their farewells and thebody is placed on a stone slab.A dog, which can chase awayevil spirits, is brought in to lookon the face of the dead person.The body is then taken to acircular stone structure, theDakhma.The corpse is then leftfor disposal by a combination ofthe sun, the rain and thevultures, a process that can takeup to a year. This practice isincreasingly rare amongmodern Zoroastrians, anddisposing of the dead inDakhmas has been replaced byburial or cremation.THE TOWERS OF SILENCEZ O R O A S T R I A N I S M
  • 203. N E W R E L I G I O N S206WHEN THE FIRST Westernimperialists, the Portuguese, landedon the coast of what is now theIndian state of Kerala in the sixteenth century,they were surprised to find Christians whoclaimed their forefathers had been converted bySt Thomas the doubter, one of the 12 disciples.The tradition that the apostle preached and wasmartyred in India is so deeply embedded inSouth Indian Christianity that it cannot belightly dismissed. The Thomas Christiansformed a self-contained community making littleor no effort to disturb Hindus in their beliefs.But the Portuguese missionaries brought theintolerance of Western Christianity with them,teaching that there was only one Church and nosalvation outside it. This first meeting betweenWestern Christianity and India divided theChristians of Kerala, taught them to decryHinduism, and rejected any dialogue with otherreligions. The missionaries who spreadthroughout India under British rule alsopreached Christianity as the only true religionand brought their own doctrinal differences withNew ReligionsEast Meets WestThe deepest encounter between East andWest has taken place between western Christianityand Indian religions, particularly Hinduism. Hinduism has many deities, many sacred books, noChurch, and acknowledges that any religion can be a road to the ultimate God. Christianity hasthe Bible, the Church, and implies there is only one way to God. Nevertheless the dialoguebetween these two apparent opposites has not been a dialogue of the deaf.
  • 204. E A S T M E E T S W E S T207them. But the Western missionaries’ attempt toconvince Hindus that they were in error hadlittle success and by the end of the nineteenthcentury missionaries were beginning to realizethat there had to be a meeting with Indianreligions. The World Missionary Conference inEdinburgh in 1910, the first ‘ecumenical’gathering of Christians from many traditions,acknowledged the harm done by ‘missionarieswho have lacked the wisdom to appreciate thenobler side of the religion which they havelaboured so indefatigably to replace’.DIALOGUE BETWEEN EAST AND WESTFrom the early days of the British Raj there werelaymen who rejected the missionaries’ scornfulattitude to Hinduism. Warren Hastings, theeighteenth-century Governor of Bengal,supported the foundation of the Bengal AsiaticSociety, which produced a number ofoutstanding scholars of Indian languages,religion, and culture. One, William Wilkins,translated the Bhagvad Gita, the Hindu scripturewhich deeply influenced Mahatma Gandhi twocenturies later. In the nineteenth century, MaxMuller, a German scholar, settled in Britain andachieved world renown for his translations ofthe Hindu texts. Although a Christian, he was apowerful advocate of the wisdom of the Vedas.At the same time some Hindus pleaded for adialogue with Christianity and Western culture.The most renowned was Vivekananda, a SwamiHindu holyman, who made a deep impressionon the historic World Parliament of Religions inChicago in 1893. Heonce wrote, ‘India mustbring out her treasuresand through thembroadcast among thenations of the earth andin return be ready toreceive what others haveto give her.’THETWENTIETHCENTURYDuring the twentiethcentury there havebeen numerous Christianteachers who have beendeeply influenced byHinduism. One of themost widely read is BedeGritffiths, a BritishBenedictine monk whocame to India andfounded an Ashramwhere he lived until his death. His book, TheMarriage of East and West, summarizes theinfluence of the East on his Christianity. Thereare many Hindus who have acknowledged adebt to Christianity, the most famous beingMahatma Gandhi. In the last half of thetwentieth century, both Hinduism andBuddhism found many followers in the Westwho saw in those religions a more spiritualreligion than Western Christianity, a religionwhich valued experience rather than doctrine.In the last decades of the twentieth century there was ameeting between Western environmentalists and Easternreligious thought.The environmentalists acknowledged thatWestern attitudes towards the environment were based ontheology and philosophy, which elevated humans above therest of creation, and regarded nature as a resource for us toexploit. In Eastern religions they found a theology whichregarded humans as part of nature and taught that it was ourduty to live in harmony with all creation.The difference wasacknowledged by many Christian theologians too. Diana Eck,anAmerican theologian for instance, wrote, ‘most of us in theChristian tradition have not let the icons of nature become apowerful part of our theology.There is no part of nature thatcarries for Christians the cultural and mythic energy of theGanges.’ It is this respect for nature, this search for harmonybetween humans and the rest of creation, which may well bethe most profound outcome of the meeting between East andWest in the twenty-first century.THE EAST AND THE ENVIRONMENT
  • 205. N E W R E L I G I O N S208THE LATE TWENTIETH centurywitnessed an upsurge of new religions –at a time when the triumph of science-based secularism seemed almost complete.However, new religions flourish at times of rapidsocial change, while organized religion adaptsmore slowly and so may fail to provide leadershipand inspiration. Faced with the challenges of thepost-war technocracy, the churches andsynagogues were widely perceived, especially byyoung people, as irrelevant and out of touch.Rejection of traditional Western religion byyoung people led to a quest for alternativespiritual traditions, and psychology created anew vocabulary and awareness of the inner self.Thousands of seekers were visiting Asia, anddiscovering that Hindu and Buddhist meditationprovided a more systematic methodology fordeeper spiritual experience, particularly astaught by gurus.The first guru to popularize meditation wasMaharishi Mahesh Yogi, who broughtTranscendental Meditation to the West in 1958.The other most popular movements of the timewere ISKCON (International Society forKrishna Consciousness), the Divine LightMission (later Elan Vital) and the Oshomovement. Osho created an innovativesynthesis between psychology and meditation,which directly influenced contemporary interestin personal development.WHY PEOPLE JOIN NEW RELIGIONSWhereas earlier sectarian movements, andmany in the developing world today,particularly Africa, appeal to the poor andoppressed, the typical membership of newreligions in the West comprises well-educated,middle-class, youngish men and women,dissatisfied with received values and activelyseeking spiritual growth. Self-development hassometimes been condemned as narcissistic, butadherents find it a valid, effective path to God.While many movements are sects of worldreligions, many others are syncretic; forexample, Japanese religions often combineelements of Buddhism and Shinto, sometimesalong with Christianity or positive thinking.New religions have often been protrayednegatively as dangerous ‘cults’, led by gurusNew Religious MovementsNew religions are a challenge to both secularism and organized religion.They manifested in theWest as marginal, counter-cultural movements, but the ideas and practices of Eastern-based andNewAge movements have increasingly influenced mainstream society. New religions are alsofound worldwide, particularly inAfrica, Japan, Indonesia and SouthAmerica. Other ‘new’ religionsmay not be new in the strictest sense, with their basis in the older religions (such as Buddhism andChristianity).These religions have found new interpretations within a new audience, who live in avastly different social context to the ones in which such religions first emerged.
  • 206. N E W R E L I G I O U S M O V E M E N T S209practising mind control, animage fuelled by a series of pre-millennial tragedies such as thesiege at Waco in Texas, whereDavid Koresh, leader of theBranch Davidians, died in a firealong with many of hisfollowers, including children.There have been some abusesof power such as coercion,deception, financial and sexualmisdemeanours in the moreauthoritarian movements,particularly Christian-basedmovements including theUnification Church (Moonies)and the Jesus Army – but suchproblems are also found withinorganized religions. Newreligions have been accused ofbreaking up families, but theyalso offer a new tribal identityto survivors of dysfunctional nuclear families.One of the greatest benefits described bymembers is living in a community of kindredspirits. Of the tens of thousands of new religionsworldwide, the majority coexist peacefullywithin society.THE NEW AGE ANDTHE HOLISTICREVOLUTIONNew religions arose as marginal groups insociety, but also at the leading edge; theirimpact extends beyond the numbers of peopleinvolved. They function as crucibles for socio-spiritual experiments of which the moresuccessful have been taken up by mainstreamsociety, particularly through the New Age.New Age is an umbrella term covering arange of spiritual groups and communities, suchas Findhorn in Scotland, but it also represents ashift in values. William Bloom, one of thefounder-shapers of the New Age in Britain, hassummarized the philosophy of this holisticrevolution: ‘The purpose for each of us is toachieve integration and fulfilment within aholistic and intimately interdependent world inwhich consciousness and matter are one.’ Somekey values (shared with pagan movements) arereverence for nature (including environmentalactivism, animal rights and organic farming), thegoddess and divine feminine, emotionalintelligence, higher consciousness, and a shiftfrom ‘religion’ to ‘spirituality’. The beliefs andpractices of new religions and the New Age haveincreasingly pervaded homes, workplaces,medicines, and the arts, helping transformsecular society.One of the most contentious aspects of new religions is themaster–disciple relationship, which is prone to exploitationby some of the more unscrupulous leaders. Gurus can beimmensely charismatic leaders, who claim to derive theirauthority by divine appointment or the possession ofesoteric knowledge. They offer enlightenment to theirfollowers, but often the price is total obedience. InAsia, theguru is a revered figure, supported by tradition, whose rolevaries from spiritual teacher to manifestation of God.Therelationship with followers is parent–child, requiringresponsibility and direction from guru, trust and submissionfrom devotee. However, the meeting between Asian gurusfrom more longevous religions and their new Westerndisciples can lead to problems such as culture clash. Somecommentators have objected to the high status accorded theguru, which seems blasphemous in Christian terms and anti-democratic.Although not unique to new religions, there havebeen various examples of abuses of power – among Asianand Western gurus, but also among Christian priests –particularly sexual exploitation by male leaders of theirfemale followers. Submission combined with intensedevotion carries a high risk, yet paradoxically may also leadto a higher freedom. When the guru–disciple relationshipworks well, as it often does, the reward is ecstatic mysticalexperience: a transmission beyond words.The master thenbecomes a midwife facilitating a spiritual rebirth.GURUS
  • 207. N E W R E L I G I O N STHE BAHA’I FAITH teaches that theFounders of the world’s major religions,including Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster,Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Muhammad,are divine Teachers sent by one God to educatehumanity through teachings and laws suited to itsstage of development. The Baha’i Faith recognizestwo additional Teachers for this age: the Bab andBaha’u’llah. Baha’is believe that religiousrevelation will continue in the future to provideguidance to ‘an ever-advancing civilization’.In 1844 the Bab (‘the Gate’) founded the BábíFaith. His main purpose was to prepare humanityfor the imminent appearance of another divineTeacher who would lead humanity into an age ofuniversal peace. In 1863, Baha’u’llah (‘the Gloryof God’) announced that He was the figureforetold by the Bab, and the Baha’i Faith was born.The Faith’s unity has been preserved through theprovisions of a written Covenant, whichestablished the Faith’s principles of succession andinstitutional authority. There are no clergy in theBaha’i Faith. The Baha’i community governs itselfby elected councils at the local, national andinternational levels, and only Baha’is are permittedto contribute to the funds of their Faith. Baha’is inIran have suffered persecution for their beliefssince the Faith’s earliest days.UNITYThe main theme of Baha’u’llah’s revelation isunity. He taught that ‘the earth is but onecountry, and mankind its citizens’. His writingscontain principles, laws and institutions for aworld civilization, including: abandonment ofall forms of prejudice; equality between thesexes; recognition of the common source andessential oneness of the world’s great religions;elimination of the extremes of poverty andwealth; universal compulsory education;responsibility of each individual to searchindependently for truth; establishment of aworld federal system based on principles ofcollective security; and recognition that religionBaha’iThe Baha’i Faith is an independent monotheistic religion with a worldwidepopulation of some seven million people.They come from more than 2,000different tribal, racial and ethnic groups and live in 235 countries anddependent territories. It originated in Iran in 1844 and has its own sacredscriptures, laws, calendar and holy days.210A S I AA U S T R A L I AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanBahai1.5 million +700,000–750,000200,000–500,000140,000–200,00075,000–100,00050,000–75,000World total – 7 millionA F R I C AAcre/HaifaCountries/areas with the greatestconcentration of adherentsC A N A D AU S AM E X I C OBaha’iThe Baha’i faith originated in Iran, andis an independent monotheisticreligion with a worldwide populationof seven million people.
  • 208. B A H A ’ I211is in harmony with reason and scientificknowledge. Because of its commitment to theseideals, the Baha’i community has been an activesupporter of international organizations such asthe United Nations. Service to humanity isanother central teaching of the Baha’i faith,which has led Baha’is to initiate thousandsof social and economic development projects –most of them modest, grassroots efforts such asschools, village healthcare campaignsand environmental projects – around the world.The Baha’i World Centre in the Acre/Haifaarea of Israel has been both the spiritual andadministrative centre of the Baha’i Faith sinceBaha’u’llah was exiled there in 1868. The Shrines(burial places) of the Bab on Mount Carmel inHaifa and of Baha’u’llah near Acre are the twoholiest places on earth for Baha’is.BAHA’U’LLAHBaha’u’llah, which is Arabic for ‘the Glory ofGod’, is the title adopted by the Founder of theBaha’i Faith, Mirza Husayn-‘Ali’ (1817–92).Born into a noble family in nineteenth-centuryIran, Baha’u’llah refused the political positionoffered to him when He was a young man andchose instead to spend His wealth caring for thepoor and the sick. He became an early followerof the Bab, a young merchant from Shiraz whoclaimed to be the bearer of a new religiondestined to renew Persian society.In 1852, while imprisoned in Tehran for hisbelief as a follower of the Bab, Baha’u’llahreceived the first intimations of the missionforetold by the Bab. Upon his release fromprison, Baha’u’llah was exiled to Baghdad and,in 1863, declared there that he was the long-awaited Messenger of God. Thevast majority of the Bab’sfollowers accepted thisdeclaration and so the Baha’icommunity was born.The key points ofBaha’u’llah’s message can besummed up as global unity andjustice. He taught that there isonly one God who has revealedhis will through a series ofdivine Teachers. While thesocial teachings of the greatreligions they founded differaccording to the time and placethey were delivered, the spiritual essence of allfaiths is the same: that the purpose of all humanbeings is to know and worship their Creator. Inthis age, humanity is capable of recognizing theoneness of God, religion and the human family.Baha’u’llah called upon the world’s secular andreligious leaders to devote all their energies tothe establishment of universal peace. He wrote:‘my object is none other than the betterment ofthe world and the tranquility of its peoples’.Before His death in 1892, Baha’u’llahprovided for the succession of leadership of theBaha’i community, ensuring its unity andprotecting it from schism. His eldest son, AbbasEffendi (who adopted the title Abdu’l-Baha,which means ‘servant of the Glory’), wasappointed the head of the Baha’i Faith and thesole authorized interpreter of Baha’u’llah’swritings. This act enabled the Baha’i communityto pass through the first century of its existencewith its unity firmly intact, in the face of bothexternal and internal challenges.Abbas Effendi, known as ‘Abdu’l-Baha’(Arabic for ‘servant of the Glory’), was bornon 23 May 1844 – the same night that the Babfirst declared his mission. He was the eldestson of Baha’u’llah and was only eight yearsold when his father was first imprisoned. Heaccompanied Baha’u’llah through 40 years ofexile and imprisonment, and as he grew intoadulthood he became not only his Father’sclosest companion but also his deputy, hisshield and his principal representative to thepolitical and religious leaders of the day.Abdu’l-Baha’s leadership, knowledge andservice brought great prestige to the exiledBaha’i community.After the passing of Baha’u’llah on 29 May1892, Abdu’l-Baha became the leader of theBaha’i community, the position to which hehadbeenformallyappointedbyBaha’u’llah.Inthis way, the question of religious successionthat has plagued other faiths was avoided.Through his will and testament, Baha’u’llahprevented schism and established a firmfoundation for the further development andprogressofhisfaithbypreservingtheintegrityof his teachings. It wasAbdu’l-Baha who firsttook the Baha’i message to theWest, visitingEurope and North America, where theTeachings found many supporters and theworldwide spread of the faith began.ABDU’L-BAHA
  • 209. N E W R E L I G I O N S212ACCORDING TO GARVEY, the Bibleshowed that an African king would becrowned as the Messiah; Ethiopia wasof special significance. A belief in Ethiopia as thecradle of civilization and site of a future utopiawas popularized among black Jamaicans in thenineteenth century, taking inspiration from thebiblical prophecy that ‘Ethiopia shall soonstretch forth her hands unto God’. With Garvey,Ethiopianism achieved its fullest development.Many blacks saw the 1930 coronation of PrinceRas Tafari Makonnen as Emperor of Ethiopia asthe fulfilment of Garvey’s prophecy. TheEmperor, who took the name Haile Selassie(Power of the Trinity), was hailed as God or Jah,the divine saviour of the black people, and theRastafarian movement began.In the 1950s Rastafarianism began to spreadthroughout the Caribbean, playing a major role inleft-wing politics, and then to the United Kingdomand the USA. In the 1970s the music of reggaeartist Bob Marley (1945–81) helped to spread theRastafarian movement worldwide. Over thefollowing years, thousands of reggae recordingswith titles such as ‘Africa is Paradise’, and ‘RastaNever Fails’ acted as vehicles for the message andspirit of Rastafari. Today there are thought to beup to a million Rastas worldwide including inmany European and African countries as well as inAustralasia and elsewhere. Since the 1950s someJamaican Rastafarians have lived in Ethiopia onland donated by Haile Selassie in thanks for thesupport of the African diaspora when the Italiansinvaded Ethiopia in 1935. Although the vastmajority of Rastas are black, a few are Afro-Chinese and Afro-East Indian and some are white.Haile Selassie’s death in 1975 caused a crisis offaith. Some Rastafarians thought his death was afabrication, others that it was part of a Babylonian(white man’s) conspiracy. For Rastafarians,Babylon is the antithesis of Ethiopia and refers tothe biblical kingdom that enslaved the nation ofIsrael. Some Rastas believe their saviour remainspresent in spirit, others that he will be resurrected.RastafarianismRastafarianism is a loosely organized religio-political movement inspiredby the ‘black power’ teachings of the Jamaican Marcus Garvey (1870–1940).Garvey taught that black Caribbeans were the lost tribes of Israel and thatall black people in theWestern world should shake off the oppression of thewhite man and return toAfrica, the promised land.A S I AA U S T R A L I AE U R O P EIndian OceanAtlanticOceanS O U T HA M E R I C APacificOcean PacificOceanRastafarianism TodayWorld total – 1 millionEthiopiaA F R I C AOver 100,000Over 14,000Over 5,000500–1,000Minimal numberCountries/areas with the greatestconcentration of adherentsC A N A D AU S AM E X I C OJamaicaCaribbeanRastafarianismRastafarianism originated in Jamaica,but it soon spread to the rest of theCaribbean, to the eastern USA, the UK,Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
  • 210. R A S T A F A R I213BELIEFS AND PRACTICESThe Rasta belief system is very loosely defined.Emphasis is placed on a natural,straightforward lifestyle, on coming to knowJah (God) in every aspect of life, and on theindividual’s subjective interpretation of corethemes: the belief that repatriation to Africa isthe key to overcoming white oppression, nonviolence, a belief in the divinity of HaileSelassie and a condemnation of Babylon (thewhite power structure). Ethiopia is sometimesunderstood literally as an earthly paradise,sometimes as a symbol of a time when blackoppression will cease. The concept of ‘I and I’ iscentral to the movement and expresses theconcept of oneness – God within all of us, andall of us as one people. The movement rejectsChristianity although a majority of firstgeneration Rastas were Christians or camefrom Christian homes.There are two highly organized sects withinRastafarianism, the Bobos and the Twelve Tribesof Israel (to which Bob Marley belonged).However, most Rastas prefer to live their ownindividual Rasta philosophy without belongingto an organization.SYMBOLSThe wearing of dreadlocks (hair grown long,matted and twisted into coils) sets Rastas apartfrom Babylon and is supported in the Bible:‘They shall not make baldness upon their head,neither shall they shave off the corner of theirbeard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh’(Leviticus 21:5). Rastafarians can also berecognized by wearing the colours of theirreligion: red, gold and green. Red symbolizesthe blood of martyrs, gold the wealth of thehomeland, and green the beauty and vegetationof Ethiopia. Sometimes black is used torepresent the colour of Africans. The lion isalso a prominent symbol. It represents HaileSelassie, the conquering Lion of Judah.There are two main Rastafarian rituals:reasonings and the binghi.The reasoning isan informal gathering at which a small groupof brethren generally smoke the holy weed,ganga (marijuana), and engage indiscussion. Whoever lights the pipe says ashort prayer and then the pipe is passedaround the circle until everyone has smoked.The reasoning ends when the participantshave all, one by one, departed.The ganga or‘wisdom weed’ is smoked for religiousreasons or to aid meditation; some do notuse it at all. A number of Biblical texts arecited to support use of the herb including‘...thou shalt eat the herb of the field’(Genesis 3:18).The nyabinghi or binghi ritual includesdrumming (believed to be the voice of Jah),chanting, dancing and praise to Jah Rastafari.Binghi rhythms inspired reggae and BobMarley incorporated its drumming and chantsinto his music. Considered the mostinspirational meeting of Rastafarians, thebinghi is held on special occasions includingthe coronation of Haile Selassie (2 November),his ceremonial birthday (6 January), his 1966visit to Jamaica (25 April), his personalbirthday (23 July), emancipation from slavery(1 August), and Marcus Garvey’s birthday (17August). Binghis can last for several days andin Jamaica bring together hundreds ofRastafarians from all over the country.RASTAFARIAN RITUALS
  • 211. N E W R E L I G I O N S214INFLUENCED BY nineteenth-centuryRomanticism and its valuing of individualexperience and spiritual interpretations ofthe world, contemporary Paganism can be seenas a reaction against the Enlightenmentcelebration of reason. The term ‘pagan’ derivesfrom the Latin paganus; pagus was a countrydistrict, and paganus came to refer to a ‘countrydweller’. ‘Pagan’ was originally a neutral termbut took on a pejorative meaning amongChristians in the fifth century when it becameused to designate non-Christians. ModernPagans have claimed the word as part of acritique of Christianity, which many say ispatriarchal, seeking to control both women andnature. By contrast, Pagans give positive valuesto both, claiming that mastery of women and thedomination of nature is interconnected.The psychology of Carl Jung (1875–1961) hasbeen formative in a revaluation of ‘the feminine’as a repressed psychological principle. Afeminine focus has been strengthened further bythe 1960s women’s movement. Many feministssought to reinterpret canonical religious texts ofthe Judeo-Christian tradition by editing outwhat they saw as patriarchal elements, othersturned to the goddess – as representative of‘feminine aspects of the sacred’ – arguing thatformal religion had repressed this part ofholiness. Many Pagans view the root of thecurrent environmental crisis as being located in apatriarchal scientific worldview that conceivesof nature as a machine rather than as aliving organism.MANY PAGAN PATHSBeing eclectic and including many differentspiritual paths, Paganism compriseswitchcraft, druidry, heathenism and Westernshamanism amongst others. Modern witch-craft or ‘wicca’ was created in the 1940s and1950s by a retired civil servant named GeraldGardner (1884–1964) who mixed ceremonialmagic with folk beliefs. Various versions ofContemporary PaganismPaganism is an umbrella term for a variety of spiritualities that venerate nature. Most Paganspractice what they see as pre-Christian or non-Christian traditions, incorporating all aspects ofthe natural world within a divine and ever-changing unity. Pagans are usually polytheists seeingtheir deities as separate entities but also part of an all-embracing totality of existence.The spirit world … is notseparate from the earth we walkupon, not some convenientsemi-detached housing estatedown the road you can driveaway from when the tone of theneighbourhood starts tocrumble.The spirit world is herebeside us, always; and unseen,often unguessed, it touches andchanges the world of physicalforms that we live in. Ouractions, in turn, change thespirit world and we can work tolighten our awareness of it….Gordon MacLellan, ‘Dancing onthe Edge: Shamanism in ModernBritain’, in Paganism Today
  • 212. C O N T E M P O R A R Y P A G A N I S M215witchcraft have developed from Gardner’swritings, and contemporary witches aresubdivided into: Gardnerians, those whoderive their ways of working from GeraldGardner; Alexandrians, practitioners of AlexSanders’ (1926–88) specific mixture ofwitchcraft and Kabbalistic magic; and feministwitches, those who see in witchcraft a meansof overcoming patriarchal oppression.Not much is known about the ancient druids,the Celtic spiritual leaders. Celtic beliefs werelocalized and few generalizations may be made,but the druids have been imagined in differentperiods from the Renaissance on. Modern druidsbelieve Druidry to be one of the nature religionsof the United Kingdom and worship the naturalforces of the earth through the creative arts. Thelove and inspiration of nature is called ‘Awen’,and it is the role of bards to encourage the flow,and ovates to divine its process through tree loreand runes. Likewise, Heathens – practitioners ofAnglo-Saxon, German and Scandinaviantraditions – attempt to recapture an ancient wayof life through mythology and the twelfth- andthirteenth-century sagas of Icelander SnorriSturluson (1179–1241). The main northerntradition is known as ‘Odinism’ after theprinciple god Odin, or Asatru, meaning ‘loyaltyor troth to the gods’. By contrast, Westernshamans often turn to non-Western indigenousreligious beliefs for inspiration. Native Americantraditions being especially popular.A Pagan view of the world sees a relationship with thewhole of nature; it places the individual within a widerconnecting pattern, often visualized as a web in which allaspects of creation are seen to be in constant flux andmotion.This is a dynamic and pervasive worldview wherespirits coexist with everyday material reality. Many Paganscelebrate a seasonal myth cycle whereby the process ofnature – birth, maturation and death – are portrayed indynamic interaction with goddesses and gods, aspersonification of the powers of the cosmos. At eightpoints in the year – usually Samhain (31 October),WinterSolstice (22 December), Imbolg (2 February), SpringEquinox (21 March), Bealtaine (30April), Summer Solstice(22 June), Lughnasadh (31 July), Autumn Equinox (21September) – the changing aspects of practitioner and thegods are celebrated.This involves an interaction with theweb of life as spiritual experience, linking the individualwith the whole cosmos. Feeling connected to the whole ofnature leads some Pagans to an involvement inenvironmental campaigns and, in some cases, to radicalprotest against any planned destruction of the countryside.Increasingly, environmental concerns are seen to be animportant spiritual component of modern Paganism.CELEBRATING NATURE
  • 213. N E W R E L I G I O N S216WESTERN SECULARISM has itsown revealed truths andunexamined assumptions. Amongits key values are democracy, capitalism,scientific scepticism, individualism, tolerance,human rights, freedom of choice and theseparation of Church and State. All this has itsroots in a Judeo-Christian inheritance but, sincethe Enlightenment, it has been shaped by a mixof other influences – science, rationalism and thereductive determinism of Darwin and Freud.For two centuries, secularism asserted thepossibility of human perfectibility. Utilizing aphilosophy which denied the existence of anyvalues outside the natural order, it held thenatural sciences to be the highest form of humanknowledge. The practical changes it wroughtfreed energies which produced the industrialrevolution, the modern democratic state,unprecedented levels of economic growth and ahigh culture of science, art and learning. And itbrought social progress which underminedinherited privilege and improved the material lifeof ordinary working people. Such evolutionwould continue, suggested thinkers like theGerman sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920),who spoke of an irreversible ‘shift torationalization’. And as human beings becamemore rational they would have no need forreligion. ‘From myths to maths’ was the cry.MODERNITYBut the liberal assumption that humanity wassteadily progressing to a more enlightened andtolerant state had been called into questionhalfway through the twentieth century. Thescience, capitalism and modernity whichbrought antibiotics, foreign holidays andconsumer gadgets also brought nuclearweapons, the gas chamber, pollution and toxicwaste. Contradictions and paradoxes began toemerge. With individualism came imperialism –military, economic and cultural. Out ofcapitalism came communism. With democracycame a free market whose dominance becamean unquestionable ideology. Throughout theprevious three centuries the freedom ofindividuals and markets had seemed indivisiblebut now tensions surfaced between the two.The emphasis upon individual self-interestcreated wealth but tended to atomize societywith increases in family breakdown and in ratesof crime and violence. As capitalism developed,advertising and designer branding constantlygenerated insatiable new levels of demand.Those who had once regarded themselvesprimarily as citizens began to see themselveschiefly as consumers. Morality, which once hadbeen, like language, a shared enterprise,became the province of private conscience.All this impacted upon the rest of the world.In developing nations – particularly in India, sub-The Culture of the WestIn theWest a culture has emerged which shares many of the characteristics of religionselsewhere in the world. It is called secularism, and though it specifically repudiates any attemptto apply any sense of the supernatural to its interpretation of the world, it uses similar techniquesto impose intellectual and moral order on the chaos of existence.
  • 214. T H E C U L T U R E O F T H E W E S T217Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America – theforces that produced innovation and independencein the West brought chiefly imitation anddependence for the Third World. What were seenas liberating influences at home was perceived asan aggressive assault abroad. As the twentiethcentury continued, the forces of economicglobalization only exacerbated this divide and thesense of alienation which went with it. Under theslogan of multi-culturalism, what often arrivedwas an impoverished mono-culturism.SCIENTIFIC RATIONALISMAs the twentieth century progressed, many feltthat the revolution of scientific rationalism hadleft a void at the heart of modern culture. Some,like Sartre and Camus celebrated it, but mostlamented it, or at least felt uneasy at the ‘God-shaped hole’ which had been left behind. But asthe Age of the Enlightenment finally gave way tothat of post-modernism it became clear that theoffspring of modernism – science, capitalism,individualism and democracy – were merelyenabling mechanisms. Liberalism was whatBritish philosopher Alistair McIntyre(b. 1929) called a ‘second order morality’: it setsup a framework within which other virtues canflourish, but it does not create them. A societywhose moral capital had been formed bycenturies of Judeo-Christian tradition became amulti-faith pluralistic society with no commonstore of values on which to draw. As a result,society became increasingly a conflictual forumin which ethnic communities, religiousassociations, single issue pressure groups and ahost of others pressed their disparate claims onthe state – which increasingly seemed to lack thecore of shared values it needed to adjudicate ondisputes between such members.Religion was no longer replenishing this moralcapital. For two centuries the institutionalchurches had been in decline. Membership ofProtestant churches in Britain fell from 22 per centof British adults in 1900 to six per cent 100 yearslater. Yet statistics also show that if organizedreligion was in decline, belief was not. The 1990European Values Survey revealed that, thoughmost people did not expect answers from thechurch, the number who regularly feel the need forprayer, meditation or contemplation was 53 percent – three per cent up on a decade earlier. Andthe percentage of the population which emerged asavowedly atheist remained only steady at aroundfour per cent. Everywhere religion was taking newfissiparous forms. Fundamentalism was on therise. Environmentalism took on a religiousdimension. Sects, cults and new religiousmovements blossomed. The children andgrandchildren of the West’s immigrantcommunities began to shape new Europeanizedforms of the old religions, most particularly ofIslam, stripped of the customs and traditions theolder generation brought from the Third World.New Age spiritualities were experimented with byas much as a quarter of the Western population.There was a flowering of what was described as‘vague faith’ in new folk practices, such as thebuilding of roadside shrines for those killed intraffic accidents or in the response to the death ofpublic figures like the Princess of Wales. It becameknown, dismissively, as ‘pick and mix’ religion butit was no less potent for that. Beliefs, saidsociologists of religion were of an increasinglyindividualised and unorthodox nature.Even science was forced to take note.Biogenetic structuralists began to suggest thatthere was something in the gene-proteins ofhuman DNA which was pre-programmed toseek after the sacred. Even in the secular West,religion would not go away.
  • 215. civil conflict between Catholic andProtestant Christians (since 1969)civil war against IslamicSalvation Front (since 1992)war between Muslimminority and OrthodoxChristian Serbs (1992–5)civil war between AlbanianMuslims and OrthodoxChristian Serbs (since 1997)war between Christian Armeniansand Muslim Azeris (1988–94)civil war against Islamicrevolutionary forcesTaleban fundamentalist SunniMuslims civil war against Shiahs andnon-Muslims (1996-2001);Talebanregime overthrown 2002conflict between Muslim minoritiesand fundamentalist Hindus;conflicts with Sikh minority overreligious freedom and Sikh autonomycivil war between NationalIslamic Front government andsouthern Christian rebels (since 1989)conflict between Muslimsand southern Christianscivil war betweenMuslims andChristians (1975–92)Malukku (1999 violentclashes between Christiansand Muslims)Aceh (1998 continuing Separatist conflict)KOSOVONORTHERN IRELANDNAGORNO-KARABAKHIRANIRAQSUDANEGYPTSYRIASAUDIARABIACHADLIBYALEBANONJORDANYEMENALGERIAMOROCCOTUNISIABOSNIAINDIATAJIKISTANAFGHANISTANPAKISTANTURKEYMALAYSIAMYANMARwars and conflict with religious foundationareas with religious fundamentalist oppositionstates with government-sponsored fundamentalismThe Revival of Religious ConflictR E L I G I O N A N D T H E M O D E R N W O R L D218FUNDAMENTALISM FIRST aroseearly in the twentieth century amongsome Protestants in the United Stateswho used the term as one of approval todistinguish themselves from more liberalChristians who were, in their opinion,distorting the faith. Its five fundamentals were:the literal inerrancy of the Bible, the divinityof Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the physicalresurrection and bodily return of Christ,and the idea that the Atonement would happenon an individual level rather than be auniversal phenomenon.From the outset it defined itself as a reactionagainst modernism, and yet it was itself verymodernist in the rationalism it applied toreligion and its insistence that the Book ofGenesis is scientifically sound it its every detail.The literalism it applied to the Scriptures wentback to the fundamentals in a peculiarlymodern way.CO-EXISTENCEIn previous ages Christians had been happy toallow two ways of looking at the world toco-exist. Religion primarily located itself in astyle of thinking which reached into the deeperlayers of the human mind concerned withmeaning; its tools were aesthetic – myth,rituals, poetry, music, art – and it tookas its norm an allegorical mysticalunderstanding of Scripture. More day to dayconcerns were governed by an approach whichwas empirical and rational, and concerneditself with the mechanics of how thingsgot done, and could be made to happenReligion in the Modern WorldConflict of IdeologiesFor all its strength – or perhaps because of it – the culture of theWest provokeda number of religious and ideological reactions.The most dramatic of thesewas fundamentalism. More moderate religious forces also increasinglychallenged many modernistWestern assumptions. But, in this clash ofideologies, the secularWest was always the benchmark for religion’s responses.The Revival of Religious ConflictBy the 1960s religion seemed to be indecline across the world. In the last 30years, however, it has revivedremarkably, and conflict and violencehave returned with it.Althoughreligion is not always the major factorin conflicts, its role is increasing. Othercontribiting factors may includeterritorial, politcal or ethnic issues.
  • 216. C O N F L I C T O F I D E O L O G I E S219more efficiently. It could not assuage humanpain or sorrow or explain the meaning of life,and did not try to. The difficulty came when theEnlightenment, with its science and scepticalrationalism, came to regard reason as ‘true’ andmyth as ‘false’ and superstitious. Alarmed bythis, fundamentalists tried to insist thatreligious truths were in fact true literally andscientifically. Their mythology became anideology. And science and religion went head-to-head in the trial of John Scopes,in Tennessee in 1925, who had been teachingschoolchildren Darwin’s theory of evolution.Scopes was convicted, but fundamentalismwas the real loser in the case. Creationists havesince been forced to create ever more elaboratejustifications for their position.But the pull of such a radical response tosecular modernism has continued to bepowerfully felt, and not just in the Bible Belt ofthe United States. Though many scholars arguethe term fundamentalist is not theologicallyaccurate when applied to other religions, similarvisceral reactions to secularism have been felt inother faiths where traditional ideals and beliefscome into conflict with Western values. InJudaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and evenConfucianism, something similar has been found– and with sometimes violent consequences.Fundamentalists have in Iran toppled agovernment: in Israel and Egypt they shot theirown presidents; in India they caused the death ofthousands in riots; in Afghanistan they shroudedthe entire female population in veils andchadours on pain of death; in Indonesia they fedbloody tribal conflicts; in the United States theykilled doctors who work in abortion clinics andin the United Kingdom they forced a leadingwriter, Salman Rushdie, into hiding for yearswith death threats.To characterize each of these asfundamentalist disguises some key differences.Christian fundamentalists tend to focus on issuesof doctrine – which is why there are such intenseclashes between evangelical missionaries and theRoman Catholic Church in Latin America. Bycontrast their Jewish and Muslim counterpartsare more concerned with practice – and withobserving their revealed law more rigorouslythan ever before. Then again, Hindu zealots,who in 1992 destroyed the 400-year-old Muslimmosque in Ayodhya and have persecuted boththe Muslims and Christian minorities, havedeveloped a fundamentalism much more akin toa religious nationalism.EXCLUSIVISMWhat these all have in common is a newexclusivism which was previously alien to all themajor faiths. Ancient Hinduism was tolerant inits own way, as was medieval Muslimcivilization, and there was an open-mindednessto the traditional practice of Judaism andChristianity which is lacking in modernfundamentalists driven by resentment, rage andrevenge. In all this the focus of the discontent islargely the culture of the West, though in Indiafundamentalists also kick against a Muslimincursion eight centuries ago, and in Afghanistanthe fanatics, disdain for anything non-Islamicextended even to ancient religious artefacts,including the world’s biggest statues of theBuddha which were blown up in 2001. All thesefundamentalisms share a sense of dominationand humiliation by Western cultue, in particularthe economic and military power of the UnitedStates which is widely regarded in the Arabworld as ‘the Great Satan’. This antipathyreached a terrifying climax on 11 September2001 when terrorists, claiming to act inthe name of Islam, crashed two planesinto the World TradeCenter in New Yorkand one into theUS military headquartersin the Pentagon,Washington DC. Morethan 4,000 people died.In response, the UnitedStates launched a ‘waron terrorism’.Yet this clash ofideologies is notrestricted to those whosee the West as the enemyin a cosmic war betweengood and evil. Westernculture is far fromhomogenous and therehave been many internalcritiques of its dominantideology. Whether or notreligion dies away furtherin the West there is nodoubt that internalWestern ideological andmoral differences willcontinue to be colouredfor some time yet by adialogue between religiousand secular values.
  • 217. R E L I G I O N A N D T H E M O D E R N W O R L D220IN THE SECOND half of the twentiethcentury migration, from Asia, Africa andthe Caribbean has introduced differentreligions into many European countries whichwere formerly regarded as mono-faith Christiansocieties. Those European countries hadminorities such as Jews for many centuries, but itwas only with the twentieth-century migrationsthat they came to regard themselves as multi-faith societies. With their non-Christian faiths,the migrants also brought different cultures andwere of a different colour to the majority whitepopulation. These three factors have createddifficulties in absorbing the migrants from Asia,Africa and the Caribbean.WAYS OF LIVINGTOGETHERThere are at least three different ways in whichcountries today live with more than one faith.Some demand that everyone should accept thedominance of one faith and only allowminorities to carve out limited spaces forthemselves. No minority is allowed any rightswhich dilute the mono-faith character ofsociety. Countries which define themselves bytheir religion, such as Pakistan which hasdeclared itself to be an Islamic nation, fall intothat category. In Pakistan, non-Muslims do notshare the same voting rights as Muslims, andwhile they do have freedom of worship theylive under the fear of offending against thestringent laws forbidding blasphemy againstIslam. In Western European countries there arepoliticians who take a similar, but lessdraconian line. While not opposing freedom ofworship they do demand that minoritiesconform to ‘the national culture’ and wouldusually describe that culture as Christian.Mahatma Gandhi openly proclaimed hisfaith in Hinduism, India’s majority religion andhis pride in its contribution to the culture of hiscountry. But at the same time the Mahatmarejoiced in India’s multi-faith tradition and gavehis life for promoting harmony between Hindusand Muslims. It is the Mahatma’s model thatmost European countries follow. In the UnitedKingdom, for instance there is still an establishedChurch, but wherever there are communitieswhich are not Christian there are mosques,temples or gurudwaras. All major politicalparties accept the rights of minority religionsand from time to time acknowledge theircontributions to society.Multi-faith SocietiesA multi-faith society, meaning a society in which there is more than one religion, is not a recentphenomenon. India for instance has provided a home for all the major world religions for manycenturies.The court of the sixteenth-century Muslim EmperorAkbar was multi-faith, and theemperor himself took a great interest in all religions even trying to evolve a synthesis of them tobring faiths together in harmony. Historically, China has been a multi-faith society too and eventoday has five major religions, although as a Communist country it is officially atheist.
  • 218. M U L T I - F A I T H S O C I E T I E S221Some multi-faith countries have declaredthemselves to be secular in order to distance theirgovernments from any association with themajority religion. Secular India allows completefreedom of worship and of religious practice butalthough 80 per cent of Indians are classified asHindus, neither they nor any other religion ispermitted to play any role in public life andHinduism is not treated as the national religion.The constitution commits the government totreating all religions equally in every respect. Butthe word secular can lead to the impression thatthe official policy is opposed to all religiousbelief. At the same time the declaration of acountry as secular can create a sense of grievanceamong believers in the majority faith who feelthat some recognition of the past and presentcontribution their beliefs, traditions and culturehave made should be acknowledged. Both theseproblems have arisen in India.In part at least because of the increase inmulti-faith societies, leaders of worldreligions are now far more ready not just totalk but to see good in each other. ChristianChurches traditionally interpreted thewords of Jesus in St John’s gospel, ‘I am theway the truth and the life, no man cometh tothe father but by me’ as meaning thatChristianity was the only way to God, that ithad a monopoly of the truth. Now theWestern churches acknowledge that thereare universal truths to be found in all thehistoric religions. They face a difficulttheological balancing act in allowing truthto other religions while at the same timeteaching the unique nature of Jesus, but it isa balance they are trying to keep. During hispapacy Pope John Paul II has gone out ofhis way to promote understanding andto heal historic wounds between theRoman Catholic Church, other ChristianChurches and other faiths too. But religioustensions, which can all too easily lead toviolence, survive in almost all multi-faithsocieties. The best hope for harmony liesin the reconciliation and mutual respectthat the Pope and other religious leadersare promoting.CO-OPERATION AND RECONCILIATION
  • 219. R E L I G I O N A N D T H E M O D E R N W O R L D222ASTRONOMY, THE MOST ancientscience, was inspired by the desire todecipher the divine mysteries of theheavenly bodies while the progress of modernscience was smoothed by the Biblical teachingthat the natural world is a creation, that creationcan be known and that history is linear. Many ofthe founders of modern western science wereChristians seeking to demonstrate that humanslived in an orderly universe. But, while NicolausCopernicus (1473–1543) and Isaac Newton(1642–1727) were both Christians, they werealso inspired by alchemy, an ancient mystical-scientific tradition that sought to uncovernature’s secrets and which, for some, promisedto reveal the mystery of eternal life. In moderntimes, alchemy continues to be a focus forvarious alternative mystical paths.As the scientific worldview increasingly cameto dominate, especially in intellectual circles, sotoo did an image of God as the rational architectof an ordered world, a type of divine‘watchmaker’. The publication of CharlesDarwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859offered what many considered to be a fatal blowto the design argument, stressing as it did naturalselection and chance mutation (see box). At thesame time, it spurred some Christians to renewtheir efforts to read the Bible as if it were ascientific manual. Other religions similarly findscientific truths in their sacred texts; Islam, forexample claims that the Qur’an contains thebasics of embryology, citing verses such as23:12-16 which describe the development of achild from a tiny drop in the womb.A RESPONSE FROMTHE NEWRELIGIONSIn opposition both to the dominant scientificparadigm (notably orthodox medicine) and tomainstream Christianity, a number of newreligions emerged, drawing on pseudo oralternative science. The ‘New Thought’movement, which arose in the United States inthe mid-nineteenth century, taught that ‘Everyphenomenon in the natural world has its originin the spiritual world’. New Thought drew on avariety of sources, including the teachings ofAnton Mesmer, an eighteenth-century physicianwho made scientific claims for the existence of auniversal life force and whose practice ofMesmerism, based on this belief, was aforerunner of hypnotism. New ThoughtScience and ReligionThe Scientific Revolution signalled, for some, the death of God and the replacement of worn-outsuperstitions with theories, measurements and calculations. But, while science and religionmight offer competing answers to ultimate questions, they have not always engaged in war.Rather, their paths to absolute truth have often intertwined, innovations in one leading todevelopments in the other.
  • 220. S C I E N C E A N D R E L I G I O N223influenced movements from ChristianScience to Spiritualism and theNew Age. Both ChristianScience and Spiritualism areChristian-based movementswhich arose in thenineteenth century; theformer focuses onspiritual healing and thelatter on communicationwith spirits of the dead.The New Age is anumbrella term for a myriadof movements, groups andteachings which have incommon the belief that theinner self is the source of thedivine. In the twentieth century, thescientific community’s Gaia Hypothesis,which stresses the interconnectedness ofcreation rather than the dominance of man overnature, was hugely influential in Neopaganism.Other new religions seek to have theirclaims validated by mainstream science.Transcendental Meditation, for example, claimsto have been the subject of reportsin more than 100 scientificjournals. Still others takeinspiration from sciencefiction; the founderof the Raelian UFOreligion teaches that‘science should beyour religion’ and tellshow he witnesseda flying saucer landand met its small,greenish occupant.Today, many scientificstudies which seemed togive reason for scepticismand even atheism have beenshown to be either misleading ormistaken. One recent development, the‘Anthropic Principle’, gives compellingevidence for a Creator, arguing that theuniverse seems to have been designed tosupport life. Perhaps Newton was right whenhe said that a little knowledge leads away fromGod, but much knowledge leads towards Him.From the publication of Darwin’s On theOrigin of Species in 1859, conservativeChristians in the United States led the fightagainst evolutionary teaching. In 1925Tennessee passed the ButlerAct, making itillegal ‘to teach any theory that denies theStory of Divine Creation of man as taught inthe Bible, and to teach instead that man hasdescended from a lower order of animal’.John Scopes, a Tennessee High Schoolscience teacher taught the forbiddendoctrine and was arrested.The ensuing so-called Scopes or MonkeyTrial was heraldedas the original ‘trial of the century’ andrepresents one of the deepest and mostpersistent conflicts of modern Americanculture. Swamped with hundreds ofreporters, it became the topic of conversationas far away as Italy, Russia, India and China.The jury found Scopes guilty. TheTennessee Supreme Court later reversed thejudgement on a technicality but upheld theconstitutionality of the Butler Act. Editorsexcised any serious treatment of evolutionfrom science textbooks and the teaching ofevolution effectively disappeared from thenation’s public schools until the 1960s.Today, polls indicate that around half of adultAmericans and a quarter of collegegraduates continue to doubt Darwinianexplanations of human origins.THE SCOPES TRIAL
  • 221. R E L I G I O N A N D T H E M O D E R N W O R L D224WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS beeninterested in religion and spirituality,but have usually been disparaged,excluded and oppressed by organized religion.Sometimes it seems that the only salvationoffered is to become submissive wives and gainredemption through the suffering and sacrifice ofchildbirth, or occasionally as virgin martyrs. Thefounders of world religions exemplifiedprogressive, compassionate attitudes to women,but their reforms were subverted by priesthoodsand theologians into orthodoxies supporting themisogyny of patriarchal societies. As theprominent feminist theologian Mary Daly says:‘Even if in Christ there is neither male nor female,everywhere else there certainly is.’ Liberaltraditions have promoted greater equality, buteven in interfaith dialogue the main speakers,events and publications are by men and thetheology displays an androcentric bias.There are very few examples of women inpositions of formal authority and leadership,although the medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen(1098–1179) was a preacher, poet, scientist,composer, healer, administrator and counsellor tokings and popes. Women have always been moreactive on the margins as saints and mystics.Muhammad’s daughter Fatima (AD 616–662) isoften recognized as the first Muslim mystic, andRabia (AD 717–801) one of the most prominentSufi mystics. A few women have risen as foundersand leaders of religious groups, such as the QuakerMother Ann Lee (1736–1784). In esoterictradition, ‘feminine’ qualities such as intuition andsensitivity are valued; women are believed topossess greater magical power, and have excelledas psychics and healers, shamans and seers.FEMINISTTHEOLOGYWithin the 1970s women’s movement, religionwas initially rejected as irrelevant andirredeemably patriarchal. However, manywomen wanted to participate as equal membersand priests; they therefore began to challengereligious sexism. Feminist theology developedmainly within Christianity and to some extentJudaism, but its aims and methods are beingincreasingly adopted within other worldreligions, particularly Hinduism and WesternBuddhism. It operates by questioning practicesthat keep women subordinated and excludedfrom the priesthood and policy-making; also bycriticizing values, in particular masculinelanguage and symbolism for God. Practicalmeasures include reinterpreting and rewritingsacred texts, reclaiming forgotten orundervalued women as heroines and rolemodels, creating gender-inclusive liturgy.Some women take a reformist position,working to achieve equality within theirtradition. The feminist theologian RosemaryRadford Ruether includes pre-Christiangoddess religion, heretical traditions andecofeminism in her prophetic-liberationistvision. More radical feminists such as MaryDaly have moved beyond the fold as post-Christians. Other women who reject organizedWomen and ReligionWomen have usually played a subordinate role in patriarchal world religions, but have beenrevered as mystics and even leaders in many new religions and sects. Feminists are campaigningsuccessfully for the right to ordination. However, many women are leaving organized religion tojoin goddess spirituality movements, which offer a more holistic spirituality, with intrinsicrespect for traditionally feminine qualities such as fertility and creation, which in turnencompass a respect for life, nature and the female gender.
  • 222. W O M E N A N D R E L I G I O Nreligion join new religions that give morepower to women, such as the Osho movementand the Brahma Kumaris, or join pagangoddess-worshipping movements, particularlyWicca and feminist witchcraft.PRIEST/ESSESThe key issue in feminist theology is ordinationfor women. In many ancient religions, the goddesswas served by priestesses, and her messages werechannelled through female oracles. Womenperformed priestly functions in early Buddhismand Christianity, but were disenfranchized afterpatriarchal routinization. Women arecampaigning vigorously for the right ofordination in both Christianity and in Buddhism,especially Mahayana Buddhism. Argumentsbased on theology and tradition have beensuccessfully refuted, to the point where womencan become rabbis in Reform and ConservativeJudaism, and priests (though not always bishops)in many Christian denominations.Many of those who are frustrated bytraditional religions are joining goddess-worshipping pagan groups. Wiccan covens areled by a priest and priestess, but the priestessusually takes precedence and controls the ritual,while feminist witchcraft includes groups wherewomen are the sole priests and the goddess aloneis worshipped.The most obvious manifestation of sexismin the monotheistic religions is the lack ofany female person or element in theconcept of divinity. Some Jewish andChristian feminists are reclaiming Lilith(Adam’s legendary first wife revisioned asthe Creatrix) and Hochmah/Sophia, theBiblical figure of Wisdom and exemplar ofthe divine feminine.TheVirgin Mary is alsowidely elevated in popular devotion andsometimes revisioned as a mothergoddess, though she is also felt to be anunsuitable role model for modern women.Women’s spirituality movements haverediscovered many Greek, Egyptian, Celticand African goddesses as symbols ofcreativity, healing and empowerment.Hinduism offers a rich multiplicity ofimages from the gentle beauty of Uma tothe fearsome power of Kali.The goddess is the central theme ofthealogy (goddess theology), though there isdisagreement regarding her meaning andstatus – whether she is a literal deity,personification of Mother Earth (Gaia), orpsychological symbol (the ‘goddess within’).Uniting the women’s spirituality movement isthe vision of a holistic spirituality, which willheal and reintegrate the duality betweenbody-spirit, male-female, humanity-nature.All goddess worshippers agree that ‘Wedon’t want God with a skirt’ – a feminizedversion of the Judeo-Christian transcendent,despotic deity. In the words of Starhawk,American feminist witch: ‘The Goddessdoes not rule the world; she is the world.’GODDESS SPIRITUALITY
  • 223. C H R O N O L O G YAMERICASBC30,000: Earliest humansettlement in theAmericas, Brazil.10,000: Humansettlement reachessouthern tip of SouthAmerica.8500: Evidence of cropcultivation, Peru.7000: Crop cultivationbegins inTehuacánValley, Mexico.7000: Beginning ofmanioc cultivation,Amazon.7000: Semi-permanentsettlements in NorthAmerica; some cropcultivation.ASIA(EXCLUDINGNEAR EAST)BC50,000: First settlementofAustralia by migrantsoriginating fromSoutheastAsia.25,000: Expansion ofsettlement in NewGuinea Highlands andAustralia.9000: Early Chinesepottery.7000:Agriculture begins,New Guinea.c. 7000: Evidence of ricecultivation, China.EUROPEBC35,000: Beginning ofUpper Palaeolithic.Appearance of modernman in Europe.30,000: Earliest cave artin southern France;stone carvings, forexampleVenus figures,in Spain.7000: First farming inAegean and Greece;Iberia and Low Countries5000; Britain andScandinavia 4000.NEAR EASTBC9000: Sheep firstdomesticated innorthern Mesopotamia.8350: First walled town(Jericho) founded.8000: Evidence ofdomesticated crops(pulses and cereals) inthe Fertile Crescent.7000: First pottery.7000: Early settlers inCanaan region.226ChronologyAFRICABC100,000: Earliest evidenceof modern man ineastern and southernAfrica.25,000: Evidence of rockart inTanzania.8500: Evidence of rock artin Saharan region.c. 6000: Earliestcultivation of cereal,northernAfrica.10,000 BC 8000 BC 6000 BC100,000 BC 50,000 BC 25,000 BC
  • 224. C H R O N O L O G Y5000: Maize firstcultivated inTehuacánValley,Mexico.3000: Maize cultivationreaches SouthAmerica.2500: Large, permanentsettlements establishedin SouthAmerica.2000: First metal-workingin Peru.1500: Beginning of theOlmec civilization,Mexico (to c. AD 200).5000: Rising of sealevels results inNew Guinea andTasmania beingseparated fromAustralia.3000: First agriculturalsettlements, SoutheastAsia.c. 2500: Beginnings ofIndusValley culture;development of urbancivilization.c. 1750: Collapse of IndusValley civilization.c. 1650: Indo-Ayransbegin to arrive in India.c. 1520: Beginning ofShang dynasty, China.1500: Settlers migratefrom Indonesia toMelaneisa andPolynesia.c. 1450: Developmentof Brahma worship;composition of theVedas begins.3200: First wheeledvehicles.3200: Megalithic standingstone circles, mainly inBritain and north-westFrance.3000:Walled citadelsbuilt in Mediterraneanarea.2950: Main phase ofconstruction ofStonehenge.2300: Beginning ofBronzeAge.2000: Beginning ofMinoan civilization,Crete.1600: Beginning ofMycenaean civilization,Greece.c. 5000: Colonizationof Mesopotamianalluvial plain;irrigation ispractised.c. 4000: Bronze castingbegins; plough first used.3300:SettlersfromAnatoliaarriveinSumeria;firstcity-statesbuilt.3100:Temples at Urukconstructed; ceremonialcomplexes built ascentres of earlyMesopotamian cities.3100: Invention ofcuneiform script,Mesopotamia.2200: Ziggurats first builtin Mesopotamia.c.2200:OldEmpirebegins,Babylonia(toc.1750).2000: Myths ofGilgamesh written inSumerian language onclay tablets.2000: Birth ofAbraham.c. 2000: Hittites invadeAnatolia and foundempire.1650: Hittite kingdomfounded,Anatolia.2274000: NorthAfricanpopulations migratesouth and east.3100: Emergence ofEgyptian state; newcapital at Memphis.3000: Evidence ofEgyptian hieroglyphics.c. 2686: ‘Old Kingdom’ inEgypt begins (age of thepyramids).2590: Great pyramid atGiza built.2150: Collapse ofEgyptian Old Kingdom.2040: Middle Kingdomestablished, Egypt.c. 1990: Egyptianconquests of Nubia.1990: Middle Kingdomrulers buried inpyramids.1783: Fall of MiddleKingdom, Egypt.1539: New Kingdombegins, Egypt.5000 BC 4000 BC 3000 BC 2000 BC 1800 BC 1600 BC
  • 225. 228C H R O N O L O G YAFRICA1352: Reign ofAkhenaten, Egyptianpharaoh, begins (to1336).1322: Death ofTutankhamun; buried inValley of the Kings,Egypt.c. 1280: Exodus fromEgypt and Sinai.1156: Death of RamesesIII, Egyptian pharaoh.1069: End of NewKingdom, Egypt.664: Late Period begins,Egypt.500: Nok Culture inNigeria.AMERICAS 700: Chavin de Huantarcivilization emerged,Andes (to c. 200).c. 500: Beginning ofZapotec civilization,Mexico (to c. AD700); foundation ofMonteAlbán,Zapotec capital city.500: Firsthieroglyphics,Zapotec culture,Mexico.200: Rise of theMochica civilization(to c. AD 650).ASIA(EXCLUDINGNEAR EAST)1030: Zhou dynastyoverthrows Shangdynasty.1000:Villages of roundstone housesestablished, southernAustralia.800: Composition ofUpanishads begins.771: Collapse of Zhoudynasty, China; EasternZhou begins.c. 660: Jimmu, Japan’slegendary first emperor.605: Birth of Lao Zi(traditional founder ofTaoism).566: Birth of GautamaSiddhartha (the Buddha).551: Birth of Confucius.520: Death of Lao Zi.527: Death of Mahavira,founder of Jainism.500:Wet-riceagriculture, Japan.500: Beginnings ofShinto, Japan.486: Death of theBuddha.479: Death ofConfucius.EUROPE 1150: Collapse ofMycenaean Greece.1000: Beginning of IronAge (Central Europe).1000: Etruscans arrive inItaly.800: Beginning of CelticIronAge (Hallstatt).800: Rise of Etruscancity-states, Italy.700: End of Greek ‘DarkAge’; beginnings of riseof Greek city-states.753: Foundation of city ofRome.580: Birth of Pythagoras.509:Tarquinus Superbus,last of Rome’s Etruscankings, is expelled; RomanRepublic established.480: Second stage ofCeltic IronAge (LaTène).480: Beginning ofClassical Period,Greece.450:Apogee ofAthens as mostpowerful city-state,Greece.432: Completion ofthe Parthenon,Athens.NEAR EAST 1200: Collapse of Hittiteempire.1200: Israelites reachCanaan; beginning ofIsraelite religion(worship ofYahweh).1000: Kingdom of Israelemerges with Jerusalemas capital.990: Israelites defeatCanaanites.950: Destruction ofCanaanite altars andidols by King Solomon ofIsrael; FirstTemple built,Jerusalem.746: Establishment ofAssyrian empire (to 612).705: Nineveh becomescapital ofAssyria.668: Beginning of reign ofKingAshurbanipal,Assyria (to 627).625: Neo Empire founded,Babylon (to 539).551: Death ofZarathustra.550: Foundation ofPersian empire.c. 588: Zoroastrianismbecomes official religionin Persia.586: Babylonian captureof the Jews; destructionof the FirstTemple,Jerusalem.1400 BC 1200 BC 1000 BC 800 BC 600 BC 500 BC
  • 226. 229C H R O N O L O G Y323: PtolemaicPeriod, Egypt (to30).30: Egypt becomesRoman province.ADAD1: Rise of settlement insouthwest NorthAmerica.1: Complex culturesemerge in PacificNorthwest.383: SecondBuddhist Council.371: Birth ofMencius (followerof Confucius).298: Birth of Xun Zi(follower of Confucius).250: First urbansettlements, SoutheastAsia.221: Qin dynasty unitesChina; GreatWall built.206: Han dynastyreunites China (to ad 9).100: Indian religionsspread to SoutheastAsia.50: Jainism spreads intosouthern India.AD25: Later Han dynasty (toAD 220), China.399: Death ofSocrates.390: Celts sackRome.264: PunicWars,Mediterranean.250: Rome controls allpeninsular Italy.206: Rome controlsSpain.200:Arrival of mysteryreligions in Rome146: Greece underRoman domination.48: Julius Caesarconquers Gaul.46: Introduction of JulianCalendar.27: Collapse of RomanRepublic; beginning ofRoman Empire.AD43: Roman invasion ofBritain.6–4 BCBirth of JesusChrist.AD31: Crucifixion of JesusChrist.46: Beginning of St Paul’smissions (to 57).400 BC 300 BC 200 BC 100 BC 50 BC AD 1
  • 227. 230C H R O N O L O G YAFRICA50: Expansion ofKingdom ofAxum(Ethiopia) begins.150: Domination of theSudan by Berber andMandingo tribes begins.400: First towns insub-SaharanAfrica.429:Vandals establishkingdom in northAfrica.AMERICAS 100: Nasca culture, Peru(to c. 650).100: Rise of urbanmetropolis ofTeotihuacán, Mexico.150: Pyramid of the Sunconstructed,Teotihuacán, Mexico.300: Rise of Mayacivilization,Mesoamerica (to c. 900).ASIA(EXCLUDINGNEAR EAST)125:Third BuddhistCouncil;acceptance of Buddhaimage.150: Buddhism spreadsto China.220: Collapse of Handynasty, China.280:Western Qindynasty unites China.285: Confucianismintroduced in Japan.300: Foundation ofYamato state, Japan.400: Settlement ofHawaiian islands.EUROPE64: Roman massacre ofDruids,Anglesey, NorthWales; beginning ofpersecution ofChristians.117: Roman Empire at itsapogee.125: Building ofHadrian’sWall, Britain.200: Beginning ofMithraism.313: Edict of Milan:toleration granted to allreligions in RomanEmpire.325: Council of Niceacalled by EmperorConstantine; date ofEaster is fixed.330: Constantinopleestablished as capital ofeastern Roman Empire.381: Christianity madeofficial religion of theRoman Empire.392: Pagan ceremoniesbanned in Roman Empire.395:Division of RomanEmpire into westernbranch (led to RomanCatholic and later,Protestant churches) andeastern branch (led toOrthodox churches ofGreece, Russia andEastern Europe).410: Sack of Rome byVisgoths.449: Invasion ofBritain byAngles,Saxons and Jutesbegins.476: Deposition of lastRoman emperor inwest.NEAR EAST70: Destruction of theSecondTemple,Jerusalem; Jewishdiaspora begins.404: Latin version ofthe Bible completed.AD 50 AD 100 AD 200 AD 300 AD 350 AD 400
  • 228. 231C H R O N O L O G Y500:Arrival of Bantusin southernAfrica;introduction ofdomesticated cattleand iron.600: First known state inGhana, westernAfrica.641:Arab conquest ofnorthAfrica.550: Buddhismintroduced from Koreato Japan.589: China reunifiedunder Sui dynasty.607: Chinese culturalinfluence of Japanbegins.618:Tang dynasty unifiesChina.645: Introduction ofBuddhism toTibet.650:All major Polynesianislands settled.780: Construction ofJavanese Buddhisttemple at Borobudurbegins.802: Kingdoms, includingAngkor, Cambodia,founded in SoutheastAsia.500: Germanicpeoples migratewestwards to Englandand France; spread ofGermanic religions.590: Gregory the Greatextends papal power.787: FirstViking raidrecorded800: Charlemagnecrowned emperor inRome; beginning of HolyRoman empire.571: Birth ofMuhammad.610: Quranic versesrevealed to Muhammad.622: First hijrah byMuhammad to Makkah ;beginning of Muslimcalendar.632: Death ofMuhammad.632: Beginning of periodof Orthodox Caliphs (to661); collation of theQur’an.661: UmayyadArabia.dynasty begins (to 750);spread of Islamicempire.750:Abbasid dynastybegins (to 1258).AD 500 AD 600 AD 650 AD 700 AD 750 AD 800
  • 229. 232C H R O N O L O G YAFRICA 900: Settlement ofArabson eastern coast.969: Foundation of Cairoby Fatimids.1200: Construction ofrock-hewn churches,Ethiopia.1200: Rise of Mali, westAfrica.1250:WestAfricanempire of Beninemerges.AMERICAS 900: Rise ofTolteccivilization,Mesoamerica(to c. 1200).1000: Rise of Chimúcivilization,Andes(to c. 1470).1100:Toltec capitalTulafounded.1100: Height of Puebloculture, NorthAmerica.ASIA(EXCLUDINGNEAR EAST)850: Colonization of NewZealand by Polynesiansettlers.900: Large-scaleconstruction of Hindutemples, India.1000: Construction ofEaster Island statuesbegins.1130: Zhu Xi born(influential figure in Neo-Confucianism).1150: Construction ofBuddhist temple ofAngkorWat, Cambodia.1175: Muhammed Ghuriinvades India and beginsthe establishment of aMuslim empire.c. 1200: Zen Buddhismfounded in Japan.1200: Rise of Polynesianchiefdoms.EUROPE 989: Foundation ofRussian Orthodoxchurch.1054: Great Schismbegins.1066: Norman conquestof England.1073: GregoryVII electedpope; beginning ofconflict between Empireand Papacy.1095: Pope Urban IImakes the call to HolyWars.1096: Beginning of theFirst Crusade.1198: Innocent IIIbecomes pope.1232: Establishment ofthe Inquisition.NEAR EAST 935: Qur’an finalized. 1099: Crusader knightscapture Jerusalem.1258: Mongols sackBaghdad;Abbasidcaliphs remain assp