Religions of the World

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Religions of the World

Religion is more than just a belief in a deity. Religion is philosophy and a way of life. It can define who you are, how you view the world around you and how you interact within it. There are as many different types of religion as there are different types of people.

Some religions and beliefs you may know about, some may seem strange and some you’ve probably never heard of before. Hopefully the information provided on this page will help some people understand the beliefs of others and clear up misunderstandings that may have gone on for generations. You’ll discover that people have more in common than you’d think.

I’ve written descriptions of some world religions to give a basic definition of some of the belief systems. The following links represent a small fraction of the world’s religions, so enter with an open mind and explore.

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Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion.

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Overview : Hinduism differs from Christianity and other Western religions in that it does not have a single founder, a specific theological system, a single system of morality, or a central religious organization. It consists of “thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BCE.”

Hinduism has grown to become the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. It claims about 762 million followers – 13% of the world’s population. It is the dominant religion in India, Nepal, and among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. There are about 1.1 million Hindus in the U.S., and about 157,015 in Canada.

Hinduism has traditionally been one of the most tolerant of religions. However, over the past few years, a Hindu nationalistic political party has controlled the government of India. Anti – Christian violence has escalated.

Name of the Religion

This religion is called : Sanatana Dharma, “eternal religion,” and Vaidika Dharma, “religion of the Vedas,” and Hinduism — the most commonly used name in North America. Various origins for the word “Hinduism” have been suggested : It may be derived from an ancient inscription translated as : “The country lying between the Himalayan mountain and Bindu Sarovara is known as Hindusthan by combination of the first letter ‘hi’ of ‘Himalaya’ and the last compound letter ‘ndu’ of the word `Bindu.'” Bindu Sarovara is called the Cape Comorin sea in modern times.

  • It may be derived from the Persian word for Indian.
  • It may be a Persian corruption of the word Sindhu ( the river Indus )
  • It was a name invented by the British administration in India during colonial times.

Early History of Hinduism

Beliefs about the early development of Hinduism are currently in a state of flux : The classical theory of the origins of Hinduism traces the religion’s roots to the Indus valley civilization circa 4000 to 2200 BCE. The development of Hinduism was influenced by many invasions over thousands of years. The major influences occurred when light – skinned, nomadic “Aryan” Indo – European tribes invaded Northern India ( circa 1500 BCE ) from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia. They brought with them their religion of Vedism.

These beliefs mingled with the more advanced, indigenous Indian native beliefs, often called the “Indus valley culture.”. This theory was initially proposed by Christian academics some 200 years ago. Their conclusions were biased by their pre – existing belief in the Hebrew Scriptures ( Old Testament ). The Book of Genesis, which they interpreted literally, appears to place the creation of the earth at circa 4,000 BCE, and the Noahic flood at circa 2,500 BCE. These dates put severe constraints on the date of the “Aryan invasion,” and the development of the four Veda and Upanishad Hindu religious texts. A second factor supporting this theory was their lack of appreciation of the sophisticated nature of Vedic culture; they had discounted it as primitive.

Emerging The Aryan Invasion view of ancient Indian history has been challenged in recent years by new conclusions based on more recent findings in archaeology, cultural analysis, astronomical references, and literary analysis. One scholar, David Frawley, has established a convincing argument for this new interpretation. 7 Archeological digs have revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not “destroyed by outside invasion, but…[ by ] internal causes and, most likely, floods.

“The “dark age” that was believed to have followed the Aryan invasion may never have happened. A series of cities in India have been studied by archeologists and shown to have a level of civilization between that of the Indus culture and later Indian culture, as visited by the Greeks. Finally, Indus Valley excavations have uncovered many remains of fire alters, animal bones, potsherds, shell jewelry and other evidences of Vedic rituals.

“In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo – Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans…The Indo – Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.” During the first few centuries CE, many sects were created, each dedicated to a specific deity. Typical among these were the Goddesses Shakti and Lakshmi, and the Gods Skanda and Surya.

Sacred texts The most important of all Hindu texts is the Bhagavad Gita which is a poem describing a conversation between a warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna. It is an ancient text that has become central to Hinduism and other belief systems. Vedism survives in the Rigveda, ( a.k.a. Rig Veda ) a collection of over a thousand hymns. Other texts include the Brahmanas, the Sutras, and the Aranyakas.

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Christianity Quotation

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Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Sam Pascoe, American scholar. Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Anonymous posting to a Christian mailing list.

The term “Christianity” has many meanings :

We receive frequent Emails, some quite irate, that say : “denomination X” is not Christian” where “X” may refer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Roman Catholics, the United Church, Unity Church, etc. The cause of this conflict is lack of agreement about the meaning of the word “Christian.” For example :

Some fundamentalist Christians believe that the only “true Christian” is a person who has been saved. Probably about 30% of adult Americans would meet this definition. Public opinion polls count a person as a Christian if they describe themselves as Christian. Surveys consistently show that about 87% of adult Americans are Christians in this sense.

We prefer an inclusive definition. We use the same definition as do public opinion polls. The alternative, religious exclusion, has led to serious conflicts. In some countries, as in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, discord has resulted in mass murder. For some, it is only a small jump to go from “You are different from us,” to “You are not a real Christian,” to “You are sub-human,” to “You have no right to live.” Fortunately, there is a great reservoir of tolerance in Canada and the U.S. that prevents intra-Christian friction from degenerating to this point.

Brief overview :

Christians follow the teachings of and about Yeshua of Nazareth, commonly referred to as Jesus Christ. ( Jesus is the Greek form of Yeshua; Christ is Greek for the Messiah or the “anointed one.” ) He was a Jewish itinerant preacher who was born circa 4 to 7 BCE. He was executed by the Roman occupying authorities in Palestine, perhaps on Friday, 30th April 7 CE ( i.e. in the sprint of the year 30 ). Most Christians regard him as the son of God. They further believe that he is God, the second person in the Trinity. ( The Trinity consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three separate persons, all eternal, all omnipresent, who form a single, unified deity ). Most Christians believe that Jesus co – existed with God before the creation of the world, was born of a virgin, and was resurrected three days after his death. Many conservative Protestant Christians believe that people are born and remain sinful; they will end up being eternally punished in hell unless they are “saved.” Roman Catholics believe that salvation is obtained through repentance and church sacraments. Religious liberals generally interpret hell symbolically, not as an actual place of punishment.

About 33% of the world’s population regard themselves as Christian. This percentage has been stable for decades. ( The second most popular religion is Islam, which is expected to become the dominant religion of the world during the 21st century. ) 87% of North Americans identify themselves as Christian. This has been dropping very slowly in recent years, mainly due to the sudden increase in non – theists, such as Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, etc. Other factors are the increase in minority religions, largely caused by immigration and the emergence of new spiritual/religious movements like New Age, Wicca and other Neopagan religions. Christianity in North America is a severely divided faith consisting of over 1,000 denominations, which are often categorized into conservative, mainline and liberal wings :

Many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians regard saved individuals as the only true Christians. They maintain separate religious denominations, radio stations, publishing houses, local ministerial associations, etc – even exercise videos. They tend to look upon Christianity as a living relationship with their Savior. Mainline Christians tend to be much more inclusive. They accept as Christian anyone who follows the teachings of and about Jesus Christ. Liberal Christians agree with mainline Christians, and are even more inclusive. Some theologians, particularly those who are members of the Jesus Seminar, have abandoned or completely reinterpreted most traditional Christian beliefs.

The main purpose of this section of our Web site is to help Christians understand the great diversity of beliefs and practices within Christianity, and how they developed through time. We try to compare and contrast the beliefs of the most conservative and liberal Christians. We realize that many, if not most, Christians hold intermediate views. We also describe the beliefs of the early Christian church movements, which are generally quite different from those of modern Christians.

We receive many critical Emails about these essays. Some are quite angry and hateful. Some accuse us of promoting our own liberal beliefs. Some say that we are a stealth Islamic, Satanic, Scientology or Mormon group trying to undermine Christianity. Others perceive us as lacking any deeply held beliefs. Still others say that we are just plain wrong. None of these are true. We are simply reporting the wide diversity of belief within Christianity. Yet many of our readers are distressed at seeing their beliefs described beside those of other Christian groups.

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Islam

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Islam Quotation

The best jihad [ struggle ] is ( by ) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and Majestic, by the Pophet Muhammad.( S.A.W. )

Origin of Islam : Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE by Mohammed the Prophet (peace be upon him ).He lived from about 570 to 632 CE ). The religion started in Mecca, when the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) read the first revelation to Muhammad ( pbuh ). ( Muhammad and Muhammed ( pbuh ) are alternate spellings for his name.) Islam is seen as the youngest of the world’s great religions.

Muslims traditionally acknowledge respect for Mohammed, Jesus and other prophets ( peace be upon them ) by adding this phrase or an abbreviation “( pbuh )” after their names. However, many if not most of the followers of Islam believe that, Islam existed before Mohammed ( pbuh ) was born, The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the world, and Mohammed ( pbuh ) was the last of a series of Prophets.

Followers of Islam are called Muslims. “Muslim” is an Arabic word that refers to a person who submits themselves to the Will of God. “Allah” is an Arabic word which means “the One True God.” An alternate spelling for “Muslim” that is occasionally used is “Moslim”; it is not recommended because it is often pronounced “mawzlem”: which sounds like an Arabic word for “oppressor”. Some Western writers in the past have referred to Islam as “Mohammedism”; this is deeply offensive to many Muslims, as its usage can lead some to the concept that Mohammed the Prophet ( pbuh ) was in some way divine.

About Islam : By 750 CE, Islam had expanded to China, India, along the Southern shore of the Mediterranean and into Spain. By 1550 they had reached Vienna. Wars resulted, expelling Muslims from Spain and Europe. Since their trading routes were mostly over land, they did not an develop extensive sea trade ( as for example the English and Spaniards ). As a result, the old world occupation of North America was left to Christians.

Believers are currently concentrated from the West coast of Africa to the Philippines. In Africa, in particular, they are increasing in numbers, largely at the expense of Christianity.

Many do not look upon Islam as a new religion. They feel that it is in reality the faith taught by the ancient Prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus ( Peace be upon them ). Mohammed’s ( pbuh ) role as the last of the Prophets was to formalize and clarify the faith and to purify it by removing foreign ideas that had been added in error.

Estimates of the total number of Muslims in the world vary greatly :

  • 0.700 billion or more, Barnes & Noble Encyclopedia 1993
  • 0.817 billion, The Universal Almanac ( 1996 )
  • 0.951 billion, The Cambridge Factfinder ( 1993 )
  • 1.100 billion, The World Almanac ( 1997 )
  • 1.200 billion, CAIR ( Council on American – Islamic relations )

At a level of 1.2 billion, they represent about 22% of the world’s population. They are the second largest religion in the world; Christianity has 33%.

Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the total world population which increases about 2.3% annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world’s population. The number of Muslims in North America is in dispute: estimates range from under 3 million to over 6 million. The main cause of the disagreement appears to be over how many Muslim immigrants have converted to Christianity since they arrived in the US. Statistics Canada reports that 253,260 Canadians identified themselves as Muslims ( 0.9% of the total population ) during the 1991 census. Those figures are believed to be an under – estimate.

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Text of Islam

Important Texts :

There are two main texts consulted by Muslims :

1 ) The Qur’an are the words of God. This was originally in oral and written form; they were later assembled together into a single book, the Qur’an. Its name is often spelled “Koran” in English. This is not recommended, as some Muslims find it offensive.

2 ) The Hadith, which are collections of the sayings of Mohammed ( pbuh ). They are regarded as an excellent guide for living. However, the writings are not regarded as having the same status as the Holy Qur’an; the latter is considered to be God’s word.

Muslim Beliefs and Practices

Muslims follow a lunar calendar which started with the hegira, a 300 mile trek in 622 CE when Mohammed ( pbuh ) relocated from Mecca to Medina. A Muslim’s duties as described in the Five Pillars of Islam are :

1 ) To recite at least once during their lifetime the shahadah ( the creed : “There is no God but God and Mohammed is his Prophet” ). Most Muslims repeat it at least daily.

2 ) To perform the salat (prayer) 5 times a day. This is recited while orienting one’s body towards Mecca. It is done in the morning, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset and just before sleeping.

3 ) To donate regularly to charity through zakat, a 2.5% charity tax, and through additional donations to the needy as the individual believer feels moved.

4 ) To fast during the month of Ramadan [ began 1995 – FEB – 2, 1995 ( Year 1415 ); begins 1996-JAN-22 (Year 1416) and 1997 – JAN – 10 ( Year 1417 ) ]. This is believed to be the month that Mohammed ( pbuh ) received the first revelation of the Qur’an from God.

5 ) If economically and physically able, to make at least one hajj ( pilgrimage ) to Mecca.

Jihad ( struggle ) is probably the most misunderstood religious word in existence. It often mentioned on Western TV and radio during news about the Middle East, where it is implied to be a synonym of “holy war” – a call to fight against non – Muslims in the defense of Islam.

The vast majority of Muslims have an entirely different definition of Jihad. It is seen as a personal, internal struggle with one’s self. The goal may be achievement in a profession, self – purification, the conquering of primitive instincts or the attainment of some other noble goal.

Islam Common Beliefs

Strict monotheism. God is the creator, is just, omnipotent and merciful Respect for earlier prophets and belief in their teachings: Abraham, Moses and Jesus ( peace be upon them ). That Mohammed (pbuh) is the last of the prophets
Belief in the existence of Satan who drives people to sin
That Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of sinlessness Belief in Hell where unbelievers and sinners spend eternity. One translation of the Qur’an 98:1-8 states: “The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures.” ( “People of the Book” refers to Christians, Jews and Muslims Belief in Paradise, a place of physical and spiritual pleasure where the sinless go after death Abstinence from alcohol and gambling
Rejection of racism Avoid the use of alcohol, other drugs, eating of pork, etc. Avoid gambling That Jesus ( pbuh ) is a prophet. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of Jesus ( pbuh ) to be blasphemous That Jesus ( pbuh ) was not executed on the cross.

Originally, in Islamic countries, there was no separation between religious and civil law, between Islam and the state. Turkey and some other countries have become secular states during this century. This is a controversial move in Islamic circles.

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Understanding of Jesus ( pbuh ), within Islam and Christianity

Traditional Christians and Muslims have certain beliefs in common concerning Jesus ( pbuh ). They both accept that :

  • His birth was miraculous.
  • He was the Messiah.
  • He cured people of illness.
  • He restored dead people to life.

However, they differ from Christians in a number of major areas. Muslims do not believe In original sin ( that everyone inherits a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve’s transgression ) That Jesus ( pbuh ) was killed during his crucifixion. Muslims believe that he escaped being executed, and later reappeared to his disciples without having first died. That Jesus ( pbuh ) was resurrected (or resurrected himself ) circa 30 CE. Salvation is dependent either upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus ( pbuh ) ( as in Paul’s writings ) or belief that Jesus ( pbuh ) is the Son of God ( as in the Gospel of John ).

Schools within Islam

There are different schools of jurisprudence within Islam. The main divisions are :

a ) Sunni Muslims : These are followers of the Hanifa, Shafi, Hanibal and Malik schools. They constitute a 90% majority of the believers, and are considered to be main stream traditionalists. Because they are comfortable pursuing their faith within secular societies, they have been able to adapt to a variety of national cultures, while following their three sources of law: the Qur’an, Hadith and consensus of Muslims.

b ) Shi’ite Muslims : These are followers of the Jafri school who constitute a small minority of Islam. They split from the Sunnis over a dispute about the successor to Mohammed ( pbuh ). Their leaders promote a strict interpretation of the Qur’an and close adherents to its teachings. They believe in 12 heavenly Imams (perfect teachers) who led the Shi’ites in succession. Shi’ites believe that the 12th Imam, the Mahdi ( guided one ), never died but went into hiding waiting for the optimum time to reappear and guide humans towards justice and peace.

c ) Sufism : This is a mystic tradition in which followers seek inner knowledge directly from God through meditation and ritual and dancing. They developed late in the 10th century CE as an ascetic reaction to the formalism and laws of the Qur’an. There are Sufis from both the Sunni and Shi’ite groups. However, some Sunni followers to not consider Sufiism as a valid Islamic practice. They incorporated ideas from Neoplatonism, Buddhism, and Christianity. They emphasize personal union with the divine. In the Middle East, some Sufi traditions are considered to be a separate school of Islam. In North and sub-Saharan Africa, Sufism is more a style and an approach rather than a separate school.

Unlike Christianity, Islam does not have denominational mosques. Members are welcome to attend any mosque in any land.

Bahai A relatively new world religion, the Baha’i faith attempts to unite all humanity in the belief that there is only one God. It began when a young man announced that a new messenger of God would appear.
Unfortunately this announcement was made in Iran a very Muslim state, and the young prophet Bab was executed along with thousands of his followers. One of his followers, a member of a wealthy family was banished to Iraq and eventually imprisoned. While imprisoned he realized that he was the messiah that his former leader was speaking of. While in prison Baha’u’llah which means Glory of God spread his inspirational message to his followers through extensive correspondence. After his death in 1892 his successor took the faith to other parts of the world as a missionary. The Baha’i faith has it’s roots in Islam as they believe in one God but rejects some of the teachings of Muhammad such as the practice of polygamy and slavery. The Bahais principals are summed up as :

  • The end of prejudice
  • Equality for women
  • Acceptance of the relativity and unity of spiritual truth
  • Just distribution of wealth
  • Universal education
  • An individual’s responsibility to seek the truth
  • The development of a world federation
  • Harmony of science and true religion

Baha’u’llah led a group of people in a time where the present religion of Islam seemed to stagnate. A new modern world seemed to beckon on the horizon and a new prophet would lead the way to unite mankind.

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Spread of Buddhism

There are many problems in preparing a chronological table for a period of 2525 years. The fixing of the actual year of occurrence of an event is the chief among them. For example, although the historicity of the Buddha is now well established, there are several views regarding the year that is ascribed to the Parinibbana ( demise ) of the Buddha, which is the beginning of the Buddhist era. The year 544 B.C. was taken as the date of Parinibbana and the chronological table was constructed on this basis. Due to scantiness of information, certain events are placed by historians within broad periods, running into sevral centuries. In such cases the event is included under the first year or century. As far as possible, the dates occurring in standard books were taken in preparing the chronology.

Chronological Table of Important Events

B.E. C.E.
– 80 – 462 Birth of Prince Shiddhartha  
– 45 – 589 The Enlightenment Bimbisara, King of Magadha; Confucius and Lao – Tse in China and in India, lived during this century.
1 – 544 ( – 383 ) Parinibbana of the Buddha and First Council at Rajagha Ajatasattu, King of Magadha
100 – 444 ( – 383 ) Second Council at Vesali and first schism Kalasoka King of Magadha
218 – 326   Expedition of Alexander the Great to India.
280 to – 264 – 227 Reign of Emperor Asoka Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage began ( 264BC )
294 – 250 Emperor Asoka becomes a Buddhist after Kalinga war  
297 – 247 Third Council at Pataliputta, sending of missionaries to Kasmira Gandhara, Mahisamandala, Vanavasa, Aparantaka, Maharattha all regions in India, Yona country ( Greece ), Himalaya Region, Suvannabhumi ( Lower Burma, Siam and Cambodia ) and Lanka ( Ceylon )  
298 – 246 Greco – Bactrian Kingdom founded by Dicdotus  
304 – 240   Kustana, son of Asoka founded the kingdom of Khotan, Central Asia
330 – 214   Great Wall of China begun
333 – 211 First Buddhist Monastery in Khotan  
359 to – 185 – 72   Sunga Period in Central India.
443 to – 101 – 77 Building of the Great Thupa, Suvannamali in Anuradhapura. Beginning of the tradition of Rock cut temples at Karle ( 1st century BC ) Nasik, Kanheri, Junnar, Bhaja ( 2nd century BC ) Ajanta ( 2nd century BC – 7 century CE ) and Ellora ( 5 century – 8 century CE ). King Dutugemunu in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Andras in Ujjeni.
489 – 55   Julius Caeser’s first expedition to Britain.
500 – 44 King Menander, theBactrian king meets Van Nagasena in Sialkot, and becomes a Buddhist: writing of Milinda Pañha: Beginning of Greco – Buddhist Gandhara School of art and architecture which greatly influenced Central Asia. Bactrian Empire.
514 – 30   Establishment of Roman Empire by Augustus.
515 to – 29 – 17 The Ti – pitaka rendered into writing for first time at Aloka – vihara, Matale, Sri Lanka: The Fourth Buddhist Council according to Theravada tradition held in Sri Lanka Reign of Vattagamini Abhaya in Sri Lanka ( 29 – 17 BC )
540 – 4   True date of birth of Jesus of Nazareth
542 – 2 Yi – chen, an envoy of the King of Yueh – chis arrived in Chang – an and taught Buddhist scriptures  
544     Christian era began.

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569 25   Eastern Han dynasty in China. ( 25 – 221 CE )
611 67 Official introduction of Buddhism to China  
622 78 Fourth Buddhist Council ( not recognized by Theravada ) at Jalandhar in Kashmir: Ven. Vasumitra and Asvaghosa: writing of Vaibhasa – Sastra Reign of Kushan King, Kanishka. Beginning of Saka Era. ( other dates 128 CE, 144 CE )
694 150 Ven Nagarjuna, the propounder of the Madhymika philoshophy a contemporary of Yajna Sri Gautamiputra  
710 166   Reign of Satavahana King of India, Yajna Sri Gautamiputra ( 166 – 196CE )
708 164   Great Plague began and lasted to the death of M. Aurelius ( 180CE ) This devastated all Asia. Century of war and disorder in the Roman Empire began.
719 175 – 225 Ven. Mon – tseu of China who wrote a treatise comparing Buddhism with the teachings of Confucius and Lao Tse.  
814 270 – 350 Ven. Maitreya ( natha ) the founder of the Yogacara school  
824 280 Vasubandhu, brother of Asanga. ( 280 – 360 CE )  
843 299 Goodwill mission from King Vasudeva of Gandhara to China  
847 303   Persecution of Christian by Emperor Diocletian
864 320   Beginning of reign of Chandra Gupta and of the Gupta era ( 300 – 606 CE )
    With permission from King Chandragupta a Sinhalese monastery established at Buddha Gaya by King Sri Meghavanna ( 304 – 333 CE )  
888 344 Birth of Kumarajiva.  
894 350 Asanga, most prominent teacher of Yogacara  
916 372 Buddhism introduced to Kogaryu in North Korea by a Chinese monk  
928 384 Buddhism introduced from Central Asia to Pakche in S. W. Korea by a monk called Ven. Marananda  
930 386 Buddhism declared State religion in China Northern Wei dynasty in China 386 – 353 CE.
943 399 Travels of Fa – Hien ( Fa – hsien ) in India ( 399 – 414 CE ) Reign of Chandragupta II of India 375 – 413 CE
946 402 Buddhism introduced to Silla in SE Korea: Buddhapalita and Bhavaviveke of Madhyamika school ( 1st half of 5 century CE ): Dinnaga, acclaimed to be the founder of Buddhist logic; Buddhadatta  
953 409 Hiu Shen undertakes a mission to Mexico during the reign of King Yung Yuan. Returned 543 CE.  
964 420 Ven. Sanghavarman translated books on Vinaya from Sanskrit to Chinese  
975 431 Ven. Gunavarman’s mission to Vietnam, Java and China. Java became a Buddhist country under his influence.  
979 435 Ven. Gunabhadra, a Sri Lankan arrived in Indrapuri ( Hue ) from China.  
1002 458 Arrival of Ven. Buddhaghosa, the great pali commentator in Mahavihara, Anuradhapura; Samantapasadika, the Vinaya commentary was begun in the 20th and finished in the 21st year of the king’s reign. Reign of King Mahanama in Sri Lanka 458 – 480 CE
1032 488 Ven. Sangabodhi from Sri Lanka arrived in Tonking and proceeded to Jetavana Vihara Canton  
1046 502 – 549 Ven. Bodhidharma, founder of the Chinese, Ch’an sect.  
1070 526 Ven. Bodhidharma left for China from Vietnam  
1092 548 Arrival of Ven. Paramartha ( Po – lo – mo – tho ) ( 513 – 569 CE ) of Ujjain in Nanking  
1096 552 Buddhism introduced to Japan from Kudara ( Pakche ) one of the kingdoms of Korea.  
1114 570   Muhammad was born
1119 575 Ven. Chandrakirti of the Madhymika school  
1138 594 Prince Shotoku issued an Imperial Ordinance supporting and urging the development of the Three Jewels  
1150 606 Ascendancy of King Harsadeva of Kanauj, a great Buddhist benefactor ( 606 – 647 CE )  
1161 617 Ascendancy of King Sron – btsan – sgam – po in Tibet and official introduction of Buddbism into Tibet.  
1162 618   Tang dynasty in China 618 – 906CE
1173 629 Ven Yuan Chwang or Hieun Tsang ( 602 – 660CE ) starts on his journey to India; Travelled in India from 633 – 644 and returned to China in 645 CE.  
1215 671 I’Tsing’s visit to kingdom of Sri Vijaya. On his outward journey to India, Sri Vijaya a Theravada centre; Travelled from 671 – 695 CE.  
1228 684 Talang Tuwo Ins. in Sri Vijaya Kingdom.  
1239 695 Re – Visit to Sri Vijaya by I’tsing: Sri Vijaya had become a Mahayana outpost.  
1254 710 Beginning of Nara period in Japan. Nara made the capital
1258 714 Persecution of Buddhists in China by Yen T’sing: Pala Rule in Bengal – a Buddhist dynasty: Rise of Nalanda University and the Universities of Vickremasila and Odantipuri.  
1299 755 Ascendancy of King Khri – Sron – Ide – btsan.  
1319 775 Ligor Inscription – patronage of the Sri Vijaya Kingdom to Mahayana Buddhism  
1338 794 Kyoto period in Japan Helan, Kyoto became the capital ( 794 – 1194 CE )

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Life and Time of Buddha

Founder : Buddha

Location : India

Date : ~500 BCE

Primary Scripture : Tipitaka ( Tripitaka )

Main Goal : Achieve Nirvana

Main Figures :Buddha

Other names : Sakyamuni ( Sakya clan sage ), Siddhartha Gautama ( Birth Name )

Contribution : Founded Buddhism

Occupation : Prince

Mahayana and Vajrayana sect Figures : Amitabha Buddha

Contribution : Established Pure Land sect ( Mahayana ) Manjushri

Contribution : Bodhisattva of Wisdom Avalokiteshvara

Other names / manifestations

Pure Land ( Mahayana ) : A manifestation of Amidha Buddha ( sits at his right hand )

China ( Mahayana ) : Kuan Yin – Goddess of Compassion, Tibet ( Vajrayana ), Chenrezig ( Main form ) – Male of couple that gave birth to Tibetan people Tara ( manifestation ) – Female form of Chenrezig King Songtsen Gampo ( manifestation ) – Brought Buddhism to Tibet, Dalai Lama ( manifestation ) – Chief spiritual and political leader of Tibet.

Contribution : Bodhisattva of Compassion

Buddha and Buddhism

The second great religion that originated in India is Buddhism. Ironically though Buddhism flourished overseas; in the land of its birth it was ti11 recently non – existent. It received a lease of life after independence, when Dr. B.R. Ambedkar decided to embrace Buddhism. A significant section of the scheduled castes followed Dr. Ambedkar and they today constitute an overwhelming portion of the adherents of Buddhism in India today. But they do not form part of the two traditional sects of Buddhism viz., ( Mahanayana and Hinayana ) and are generally termed as Neo – Buddhists ( Nava – Baudha ). The history of Buddhism in India starts with that of its founder Gautama Buddha who lived in the 6th century B.C.E.Life Buddha was born in the Shakya clan that belonged to the warrior ( Kshatriya ) caste. His father was Shudhodana and his mother Maya. Before Buddha was born his mother had a dream in which a white elephant descended from heaven and entered her womb. Buddha was said to have been born in a grove named Lumbini near the ancient town of Kapilavastu. At birth the name given to him was Gautama, probably after the more ancient Vedic seer to whom some of the hymns in the Rigveda are ascribed. Buddha was also known as Siddhartha which means ‘he whose aim is accomplished’.

The Prophecy of Buddha

At his birth, a sage is said to have told King Shudhodana that Gautama would grow up to be a powerful king. But to become a king he should be kept away from the sorrows of 1ife. And if perchance he happened to see any of the sorrows of life he would become an universal teacher. Keen as King Shudhodhana was to see Gautama to be a sucessful ruler, he built up special palace for Gautama from where he could set his eyes on none of the world’s sufferings. Even when the prince Gautama went out for stroll or ride, all unpleasant objects were removed so as to prevent Gautama’s mind from being disturbed.

The Young Gautama is kept away from Real Life

But the prophesy of Gautama becoming an universal teacher was destined to be fulfilled. One day through some lapse, Gautama managed to s1ip out unnoticed from the palace. Riding through the streets of the city he saw for the first time in his life, a lame person, a sick person, a dead body and an ascetic.

These sights made a deep impact on his tender teenaged mind and he set thinking upon the cause of sufferings and sorrow. Consequently, Gautama began neglecting the affairs of the State which his father had assigned to him. Alarmed at his son’s strange behaviour, King Shudhodana, to get his son off this brroding decided to marry him to a princess Yashodhara. Some days after marriage a son was born to them who was named Rahula.

But married life could not distract Gautama from his life’s mission for long. When his patience was at the end of its tether, Gautawna decided to forsake family life and one day he slipped out of his palace alongwith his servant Chandaka. After moving out of the city, Gautema cut off his hair removed his royal ornaments and jewels, his rich garments and sandals and gave them to Chandaka and bid him to return to the palace with the news of his ( Gautama’s ) departure.

Gautama becomes The Buddha – The Enlightened One

Thus Gautama set out on his quest for the cause of sufferings ( Klesha ). He undertook severe austerities by fasting continuously. In this he was accompanied by five disciples. But his frail and pampered body could not stand up to this self – inflicted punishment and one day he fainted. Realizing that this was not the way to arrive at the truth, he gave up the austerities. Horrified at their Master’s apostasy the five disciples left him. But undaunted, Gautama continued his quest for the cause of sufferings. He seated himself under a fig tree ( Mahabodhi tree ) and decided not get up unless he found answers to his questions. His enlightenment is said to have come suddenly and was exceedingly simple – viz., that all pain is caused – by desire, and therefore peace comes when one ceases to crave for anything. This thought was new at that age and it struck him with blinding force, and not only influenced his future life but left a lasting imprint on Buddhist philosophy. Freedom from all desires was said to release a person from the cycle of re – birth and lead to his salvation ( Nirvana ).

After this revealation Gautama started preaching to people and for this he travelled from place to place. He is said to have delivered his first sermon at a deer park ( Isipatana ) setting in motion, the wheel of law ( Dharma – chakra or Dhammachakra in Pali ).
As his teachings impressed people his followlng grew. Among his early converts were Sariputta, Mogallana and Ananda. He even received the patronage of rich traders like Anathapindika ( i.e. feeder of poor ) and powerful kinqs of the age like Ajatashatru of Magadha. After the revelation ( Bodhi ), Gautama came to be known as Buddha or Gautama Buddha . He was also known as Shakyamuni ( Sage of the Shakyas ). The tree under which he attained enlightenment is known as the Bodhi or Mahabodhi tree But though he received an impressive following Buddha never claimed Divine status. Very few miracles are attributed to him.

“Miracles” by the Buddha

On one occasion a grieving lady carried her dead child to Buddha and asked him to revive it. This was a perfect setting for a miracle to be woven into religious folklore, but Buddhist records state that Buddha calmed the lady and told her that he would require three mustard seeds to revive her child. But the mustard seeds should be from a family where so far no one has ever died. To fulfill this seemingly simple request the lady went from house to house only to be told that sometime or the other, someone had died in every family. Gradually, the truth dawned upon the grieving lady and going to a cemetery, she laid down her child’s body and taking its little hand in hers, she said “Beloved son, I thought that death has overtaken you alone. but no it overtakes all of us”. She went back to Buddha and became his disciple.

Major Sects of Buddhism

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1 ) Theravada ( Hinayana ) Buddhism

  • Literal : SchooloftheElders ( SmallVehicle )
  • MainFocus : FourNobleTruths, Meditation, SageBuddha
  • Mainadherents : SoutheastAsia

2 ) Mahayana Buddhism

  • Literal : LargeVehicle
  • MainFocus : FourNobleTruths, Meditation, DivineBuddha, Bodhisattvas
  • Mainadherents : China,Japan and Korea
  • Subdivisions : PureLandSchool, TianDai ( China ) or Tendai ( Japan ) Buddhism
  • Confucianism Influence : Chan ( China ) orZen ( Japan ) Buddhism
  • Daoism Influence : MainFocus, Meditation, Chanting, Teacher – Student dialog

3 ) Vajrayana Buddhism

  • Literal : DiamondVehicle
  • MainFocus : Meditation, Chanting, Enlightenment in one lifetime, Tibetangodsanddemons, Religiousvisualizations, Philosophicaldebate, Ritual, Yoga, TantricSex
  • Mainadherents : Tibet

Four Nobel Truths

1 ) Life is suffering – dukkha

  • Birth trauma
  • Illness
  • Old age
  • Fear of approaching death
  • Separation from what one loves
  • Stuck with what one hates

2 ) The cause of suffering is desire – tanha
3 ) The cure for suffering is to remove desire
4 ) To remove desire, follow the Eightfold path

Eight Fold Paths

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1. Right Knowledge : Understand the Four Noble Truths

2. Right Thinking : Decide to set a life on the correct path

3. Right Speech : Don’t lie, Don’t criticize others unjustly, Don’t use harsh language, Don’t gossip

4. Right Conduct : Follow the Five Precepts

5. Right Livelihood : Earn a living that does not harm living things

6. Right Effort : Conquer all evil thoughts, Strive to maintain good thoughts

7. Right Mindfulness : Become intensely aware of all the states in body, feeling, and mind.

8. Right Concentration : Deep meditation to lead to a higher state of consciousness ( enlightenment )

Five Percepts

  • Do not kill
  • Do not steal
  • Do not lie
  • Do not be unchaste
  • Do not take drugs or drink intoxicants

Buddhism

Religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama ( or Gotama ), who lived as early as the 6th century BC. Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played a central role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Eastern world and during the 20th century has spread to the West. This article surveys Buddhism from its origins to its elaboration in various schools, sects, and regional developments.

Ancient Buddhist scripture and doctrine developed primarily in two closely related literary languages of ancient India, Pali and Sanskrit. In this article, Pali and Sanskrit words that have gained some currency in English are treated as English words and are rendered in the form in which they appear in English – language dictionaries. Exceptions occur in special circumstances – as, for example, in the case of the Sanskrit term dharma ( Pali : dhamma ), which has meanings that are not usually associated with the English “dharma.” Pali forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary sacred language was Pali ( including discussions of the teaching of the Buddha, which are reconstructed on the basis of Pali texts ). Sanskrit forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary focus was on Sanskritic traditions.

The foundations of Buddhism

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The cultural context Buddhism came into being in northeastern India during the period from the late 6th century to the early 4th century BC, a period of great social change and intense religious activity. There is disagreement among scholars about the dates of the Buddha’s birth and death. Most scholars in Europe, the United States, and India believe that the historical Buddha lived from about 563 to about 483 BC. Many others, especially in Japan, believe that he lived about 100 years later ( from about 448 to 368 BC ).

At this time in India, many were no longer content with the external formalities of Brahmanic ( Hindu high – caste ) sacrifice and ritual. In northwestern India there were ascetics who tried to go beyond the Vedas ( Hindu sacred scriptures ). In the literature that grew out of this movement, the Upanishads, a new emphasis on renunciation and transcendental knowledge can be found. But northeastern India, which was less influenced by the Aryans who had developed the main tenets and practices of the Vedic Hindu faith, became the breeding ground of many heterodox sects. Society in this area was troubled by the breakdown of tribal unity and the expansion of several petty kingdoms. Religiously, this was a time of doubt, turmoil, and experimentation.

A proto – Samkhya sect ( a Hindu school founded by Kapila ) was already well – established in the area. New sects abounded, including various kinds of skeptics ( e.g., Sañjaya Belatthiputta ), atomists ( e.g., Pakudha Kaccayana ), materialists ( e.g., Ajita Kesakambali ), and antinomians ( i.e., those against rules or laws; e.g., Purana Kassapa ).

Among the most important sects to arise at the time of the Buddha were the Ajivikas ( Ajivakas ), who emphasized the rule of fate ( niyati ), and the Jainas, an ascetic movement stressing the need to free the soul from matter. Though the Jainas, like the Buddhists, have often been regarded as atheists, their beliefs are actually more complicated. Unlike early Buddhists, both the Ajivikas and Jainas believed in the permanence of the elements that constitute the universe, as well as the existence of the soul.
Despite the bewildering variety of religious communities, many shared the same vocabulary — nirvana ( transcendent freedom ), atman ( “self,” or “soul” ), yoga ( “union” ), karma ( “causality” ), Tathagata ( “Thus – Gone,” or “He Who Has Thus Attained” ), buddha ( “enlightened one” ), samsara ( “eternal recurrence,” “becoming” ), and dhamma ( “rule,” or “law” )— and most were based on the practice of yoga. According to tradition, the Buddha himself was a yogi—that is, a miracle – working ascetic.

Buddhism, like many of the sects that developed in northeastern India at the time, was constituted by the presence of a charismatic teacher, by the teachings this leader promulgated, and by a community of adherents that was often made up of renunciant members and lay supporters. In the case of Buddhism this pattern became the basis for the Triratna—the “Three Jewels” of Buddha ( the teacher ), dharma ( the teaching ), and sangha ( the community ) — in which Buddhists have traditionally taken refuge.

Buddhist Philosophy

” Buddhist is a form of philosophy nevertheless most people consider it as a form of religion. As far as I concerned, I would say, “It is neither philosophy nor religion.” Buddhism is Buddhism itself, it could not be defined as anything else. Buddhism is neither Theism nor Atheism. It refers to neither God nor Gods. On the other hand, it did not say God doesn’t exist either. Anyway it is not mainly focusing on that phenomenon instead it focuses on, “Braking thru illusion then we see reality.” It teaches us how to have good living ( being ) and underst and the world as reality. What is the reality then? According to Buddhism stand point, what that we see around us is not real, it is only perception therefore reality is beyond perception.

Perception deludes us to illusion. Illusion is normal state of the mind that perceives the world around us. To brake through misapprehension, we need to understand basic concept of nature which part of it was found by Buddha, the great philosopher. To say, Buddhism is one of the way to enlightenment. ”

{tab=Jainism}

Jainism

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Jainism is nature in the purest and truest form. Jainism is as old as nature, which has neither beginning nor any end. The mission of Jainism is the mission of nature, which is to work for the welfare of one and all, to rise from the pitfall of ignorance and inaction to the spiritual climax of infinite bliss and perfect knowledge. i.e. absolute freedom.

Jainism is a religion based on cosmic principles, eternal principles on which this colossal machinery runs without any mistake or even a single momentary halt. The principles of modern science are true and temporary in particular context of space and time only, but the principles of Jainism are true for all time, for all space, for everybody and everything. Jainism throws light on the colossal structure of universe, its shape, size, origin, purpose and mechanism. It deals in perfect details with six reals out of which the universe is made. Everything that happens in the universe is according to the fixed pattern of eternal laws, which are unshakable and infallible.

Jainism does not belong to any particular sect or fixed dogmas. Jainism does not say that some particular class will be given freedom and the others will remain in bondage, it is a perfect form of democracy. It emphasises equality of opportunities to achieve perfect freedom and spiritual perfection, be it a highborn or any backward class member, even the lowest form of life. Each one has the potentiality of reaching the highest state. It believes that every soul has immense power, which can be released like the nuclear energy.

Jainism believes there are two kinds of energies, one is the energy of mechanism and the other is the energy of intelligence. In technical terms they are called matter and life. ( Jada and Chetana ). Energies of gravitation, magnetism and electricity are believed to be three scientific forces, which sustain the universe. But the subtle forces of silence and solitude of surrender and prayer, of love and sympathy, of dedication and determination these subtle forces etc., are manifestation of the energies of intelligence. It is a rule in nature that subtle forces of Yoga – ( The activities of mind, speech and body are more powerful than the gross forces of material science ).Two kinds of Energies

“The energy of intelligence not through mind alone, nor through heart alone but through the whole of your totality is the highest wisdom” says Jainism. You should distinctly distinguish between what you are and what you are not. Jainism starts with the Holy curiosity to know the marvelous structure of reality and ends in the flawless perfection which is the combination of Joy, Knowledge and Energy.

The Fundamentals of Jain Philosophy are that ( this universe ) the whole cosmos is self – created, self ruled, self regulated and self – administered, according to the mighty and eternal cosmic law. Every conceivable subject in Jain Scriptures is well discussed in a systematic and convincing way that one would realise that if the Jain Doctrines are well understood and practised, it is certain that the world will enjoy lasting peace and prosperity instead of present day, world of hatred and violence!

Practically all religions have individuals as Supreme God. Jain religion believes that all worldly souls possess inherent attributes ( principle qualities ) 4 original – infinite knowledge, Infinite Cognisance, Infinite Power, but wordly souls are obscured by the veil of Karman and when liberated they can reach the highest state.

The word ‘Dharma’ :

1. Ordinarily it means ‘Pious Act

2. Dharma – Duty : towards others, elders, dependents, sub – ordinates, society, country etc.

3. Dharma – Nature : Nature of fire is to burn, Nature of water is to cool, Nature of soul is conscience, sentient, immortality, infinite knowledge, perception, energy, bliss, longs to be purified, to rise upward to Moksha – Eternal salvation.

4. Dharma – Religion : That saves one from sinking in the temporal ocean of births and deaths ( Samsar ). Religion consists of Dana, Sheel, Tapa, Bhava. ( Charity, Chastity, Penance and Intention. ) The highest Charity is to give freedom from fear – the fear of death, injury, torture, hurt, oppression, etc. Chastity means complete control of impure desires of five senses and mind including celibacy. Penance is of twelve kinds to purify the soul from all Karmic energies. Intention means all of the above mentioned three should be with soul aim / intent of achieving the spiritual zenith.

5. Dharma – Spiritual : Samyaka / Jnana, Darshana and Charitra ( Right & True Knowledge, Faith and Conduct )

6. Dharma – Shramana Dharma ( monkhood ) having ten fold

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( i ) Khsama : forgiveness, forbearance.
( ii ) Mardava : humbleness, politeness, humility and courtest
( iii ) Arjava : frankness, straight forwardness, deceitless
( iv ) Mukti : free from desires, greed and expectations
( v ) Tapa : penance of twelve kinds.
( vi ) Samyama : to stop all inflow of karmas
( vii ) Satya : beneficial, pleasant and well – thought truth, avoiding untruth.
( viii ) Saucha : purity of conduct , to avoid all short – comings.
( ix ) Akimchanya : to abstain from wealth and other material desires, even love and affection of own body.
( x ) Bhramcharya : complete celibacy, chastity in thought, word and deed.

Universe and its constituents :

The basis of the constitution of the cosmos lay in the basic substance called Dravya or Reals in the Jain Holy Scriptures. Every Real has three characteristics, Creation ( emergence ), Destruction ( annihilation ) and Permanence ( persistence ) “Utpada, Vyaya and Dhrouvya” with infinite qualities and subqualities. It means that every substance possesses the quality of permanence ( Dhrouvya ) generation ( Utpada ) and decay ( Vyaya ) as modification of itself.

In order to clearly understand the characteristics of Dhrouvya, we may take an example of gold bangles broken and made into a necklace with the same gold, the substance persists ( Dhrouvya ), bangle is destroyed ( Vyaya ) and the necklace is created, ( Utpada ). Every material object in the same manner is changing constantly. Yet the basic attribute ( Guna ), essential character, remains forever.

Dravya

The comos has six Dravyas, Reals – Basic Substances, Fundamental Realities. JIVA : Soul – life – spirit – innerself – conscious being ( with chetana ) with sentience, intelligence life.

The Soul : One of the Six basic Substances which are uncreate, self existent without beginning or end, only modifications. No new souls are created, it is a continuous cycle of birth and rebirth in four states of existence ( GATI ) i.e. ( i ) Human condition ( ii ) Sub Human condition of lower forms of, ( iii ) Angels in heaven, ( iv ) Infernal beings in hell, and this cycle is run by the infallible mathematical mechanism of nature, molded by soul’s conduct and deeds, committed by thought, speech or physical action in past or present life either with intensity of anger, pride, deceit, selfishness and greed, or with love, sympathy, fellow – feelings , pity etc.

Jain religion recognises the fundamental natural phenomenon of Symbiosis or mutual dependence, which forms the basis of the modern day science of ecology. Life is viewed as a gift of togetherness, accommodation, and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents.

Jain whether monks, nuns or householders, therefore, affirm prayerfully and sincerely, that their heart is filled with forgiveness for all living beings and that they have sought and received the forgiveness of all beings, that they crave the friendship of all beings, that all beings give them their friendship and that there is not the slightest feeling of allienation or enmity in their heart, for any one or anything. They also pray that forgiveness and friendliness may reign throughout the world and that all living beings may cherish each other.

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List of Mahavir

Mahavir is the exponent of one of the popular religions in India – Jainism. Born in 599 BC in a village called Kunda in Bihar, his father Siddhartha was an important nobleman from the Kshatriya dynasty. His mother’s name was Trishala. Mahavir was named Vardhaman by his parents, and showed signs of spiritualism from his early days. At the age of 5, he was sent to a Gurukul to study Sanskrit and became a great scholar.

A Spiritual Search

As an obedient son he married the girl of his parent’s choice – Yashodhara who consequently gave birth to a daughter. But marital ties could not bind him, as he thirsted for something more. His search compelled him to leave home, with his elder brother’s permission, to understand the true purpose and meaning of life. He traveled far and wide, expanding his knowledge and subsequently his perceptions of the world at large. And then, one day he attained ‘Kaivalya’ or enlightenment while sitting under a tree on the banks of a river. Henceforth he was to be known as Mahavir, as he was freed from the boundaries of sadness and joy, pain and pleasure.

Preachings

His teachings were greatly appreciated in North India for 30 years, and had in its following, the King of Magadha. He preached that truth and clean living were the priorities in life, as was non – violence. Till today, Jains do not even harm a fly or a mosquito. True Jains tie a cloth around their nose, so as not to breathe in or destroy living organisms in the atmosphere. He died in 527 BC at Parapuri in Bihar, and left behind a legacy of thought and some beautiful temples like the Dilwara in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan and Shravanbelagola in Karnataka. These temples are popular today, not only as famous pilgrim spots, but also as works of great architecture

Philosophy of Jainism

Jainism emphatically asserts that every soul is capable of attaining perfection if it willfully exerts in that direction. But the real situation is that from time eternal the soul is bound with matter and it is the aim of every person to get the soul rid of matter so that soul can assume its true state. This spiritual emancipation requires the knowledge of the beatific condition and of the causes which stand in the way of its attainment. To find out these causes it is necessary to understand what are the existing elements or substances of nature and mode of their interaction. Jainism believes that the whole universe can be divided into two categories, viz., Jiva, i.e., soul and Ajiva, i. e. non – soul. These two – Jiva and Ajiva – exhaust between them all that exists in the universe and Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of these two elements. It can be said in short that the living and the non – living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life; this process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a course of discipline leading to salvation.

A close analysis of this brief statement shows that it involves following seven propositions.

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  • Firstly, that there is something called the living.
  • Secondly, that there is something called the non living.
  • Thirdly, that the two ( i. e. the living and nonliving ) come into contact with each other.
  • Fourthly, that the contact leads to the production of some energies.
  • Fifthly, that the process of this contact could be stopped.
  • Sixthly, that the existing energies could also be exhausted; and
  • Lastly, that salvation could be achieved.

These seven propositions are called the seven tattvas or realities in Jainism. These seven tattvas are termed as follows :

  • Jiva ( i. e. Living substance )
  • Ajiva ( i. e. matter or non – living substance )
  • Asrava ( i. e., the influx of Karmic matter in the soul
  • Bandha ( i. e., bondage of soul by Karmic matter )
  • Samvara ( i. e., the stopping of Asrava )
  • Nirjara ( i. e., the gradual removal of Karmic matter ).
  • Moksha ( i. e., the attainment of perfect freedom or salvation ).

It is clear that the first two of the tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the external substances of nature and the remaining five tattvas deal with the interaction between these two substances, viz., Jiva, i. e., spirit and Ajiva, i. e., matter. Further, much importance has been given to these seven tattvas as every would be aspirant for Moksha has to understand the nature of these tattvas. Again, out of these seven tattvas the substances are really two viz., soul and non – soul, and among these two, the non – soul is all that is not soul, i. e., devoid of sentiency. Therefore, among these two substances, the really sentient object is the Jiva, i.e., the soul. Naturally, the living substance, viz. Jiva, assumes highest importance in the context of Ahimsa.

1. Jiva : As regards the characteristics of Jiva, i.e., the soul, it is stated that there is an infinite number of souls; in fact, the whole world is literally filled with them. The souls are substances and as such they are eternal. Again, their characteristic mark is intelligence, which can never be destroyed. Further, the soul is ever all perfect, all powerful; but by ignorance it identifies itself with the matter and hence its degradation and troubles start. Furthermore, souls are of two kinds, viz.,

1. Samsari, i. e., mundane souls and
2. Siddha or Mukta, i. e. liberated souls.

Out of these, the samsari jivas, i. e. the mundane souls, are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still subject to the cycle of Births and Deaths and the Siddha or Mukta Jivas are the liberated souls and as such

  • they will not be embodied in future,
  • they have accomplished absolute purity,
  • they dwell in the state of perfection at the top of the universe,
  • they have no more to do with worldly affairs,
  • they have reached Mukti or Nirvana or Nivrtti, i. e. liberation, and in their condition they have four enjoyments, viz., Ananta – darsana, i.e.,. unlimited perception, Ananta – jnana, i. e., perfect knowledge, Ananta – Virya, i.e., infinite power, and Ananta – sukha, i.e., unbounded happiness.

In addition, from the Metaphysical point of view the difference between the Samsari – Jiva, i.e., the mundane soul, and the Mukta Jiva i.e. the liberated soul, consists in the fact that the former is permeated with subtle matter known as Karma, while the latter is absolutely pure and free from any material alloy. Moreover, the mundane or embodied souls, i.e. the Samsari Jivas, are further classified in different ways and this classification is a subject not only of theoretical but also of great practical interest to the Jainas. As their highest duty is not to injure any living beings, it becomes incumbent on them to know the various forms which life may assume.

Samanska and Amanaska Jivas. The mundane souls are divided into two groups, viz., `Sthavara Jivas’, i. e. those who have a mind ( i.e., the faculty of distinguishing right or wrong ) and `Amanaska Jivas’ i.e., those who have no mind. Sthavara and Trasa Jivas. The mundane souls are also divided into two groups from another point of view, viz. `Sthavara Jivas’ are the immobile or one – sensed souls, that is, having only one sense, i.e. the sense of touch; and `Trasa Jivas’ are the mobiles, many – sensed souls, that is, having a body with more than one sense. Again, the mobile souls are those which being in fear have the capacity of moving away from the object of fear, and immobile souls do not have this capacity. The Sthavara, i.e., the immobile or one – sensed souls are further divided into following five kinds :

  • Prthvikaya, i.e., earth – bodied souls,
  • Apkaya, i.e., water – bodied souls,
  • Tejahkaya, i.e., fire – bodied souls,
  • Vayukaya, i.e., air – bodied souls; and
  • Vanaspatikaya, i.e., vegetable – bodied souls.

The Trasa, i.e., the mobile or many – sensed souls are also further divided into four classes according to the possession of two or more of the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing :

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1. Dvi – indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first two senses of touch and taste, for example, worms, etc.,
2. Tri – indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first three senses of touch, taste and smell, for example, ants, etc.
3. Chatur – indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have first four senses of touch, taste, smell & sight, e. g. humble – bee
4. Pancha – indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, for example, man, etc.

Thus, in this classification each class has one sense more than the preceding it.

2. Ajiva : Jaina philosophy starts with a perfect division of the universe into living and non – living substances, Jiva and Ajiva. The non – soul substances are of five kinds, viz.,

  • Pudgala, i.e., matter,
  • Dharma, i.e., medium of motion,
  • Adharma, i.e., medium of rest,
  • Akasa, i.e., space, and
  • Kala i.e., time

These six living and non – living substances are called Dravyas in Jaina Philosophy. A Dravya has got three characteristics. First, Dravya has the quality of existence. Secondly, it has the quality of permanence through origination and destruction. Thirdly, it is the substratum of attributes and modes. The Dravya is thus un – created and indestructible, its essential qualities remain the same and it is only its Paryaya or mode or condition, that can and does change.

3. Asrava : The third principle Asrava signifies the influx of Karmic matter into the constitution of the soul. Combination of Karmic matter with Jiva is due to Yoga. Yoga is the activity of mind, speech and body. Thus Yoga is the channel of Asrava. The physical matter which is actually drawn to the soul cannot be perceived by the senses as it is very fine.

4. Bandha : When the Karmic matter enters the soul, both get imperceptibly mixed with each other. Bandha or bondage is the assimilation of matter which is fit to form Karmas by the soul as it is associated with passions. The union of spirit and matter does not imply a complete annihilation of their natural properties, but only a suspension of their function, in varying degree, according to the quality and quantity of the material absorbed. Thus, the effect of the fusion of the spirit and matter is manifested in the form of a compound personality which partakes of the nature of both, without actually destroying either.

5. Samvara : Effective states of desire and aversion, and activity of thought, speech or body are the conditions that attract Karmas, good and bad, towards the soul. When those conditions are removed, there will be no Karmas approaching the Jiva, that is complete Samvara – – a sort of protective wall shutting out all the Karmas is established round the self. Thus Samvara is the stoppage of inflow of Karmic matter into the soul. There are several ways through which the stoppage could be effected.

6. Nirjara : Nirjara means the falling away of Karmic matter from the soul. The soul will be rendered free by the automatic falling out of the Karmas when they become ripe. But this is a lengthy process. The falling away may be deliberately brought through the practice of austerities. Thus, Nirjara is of two kinds. The natural maturing of a Karma and its separation from the soul is called Savipaka Nirjara and inducing a Karma to leave the soul, before it gets ripened by means of ascetic practices is called Avipaka Nirjara.

7. Moksha : Moksha or liberation is the freedom from all Karmic matter, owing to the non – existence of the cause of bondage and the shedding of all the Karmas. Thus complete freedom of the soul from Karmic matter is called Moksha. Moksha is attained when the soul and matter are separated from each other. The separation is effected when all the Karmas have left the soul, and no more Karmic matter can be attracted towards it.

{tab=African Religion}

African Religion

Religion has always played a major part in the different cultures of Africa. Each group of people in separate regions of the continent have creation stories that tie them directly to the God or Gods they worship. Usually the God would create the Earth and animals and last would create the humans to take dominion over the region in which the people happen to inhabit. The four primary sources for the study of African religion are the :

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1. Oral traditions that are told from parents to children and priests to the people for centuries.
2. Archeological and linguistic evidence tells of the remaining of the ancient people1s beliefs by physical evidence of their religion and way of life and the speech patterns that have evolved over the years.
3. The religions that are still practiced give a definitive view of the way religions were practiced in the old days.
4. The arts and sacred spaces have to do with what is considered Holy by the different practicing groups.

Many beliefs common among different African religions appear in their creation stories such as :

1. The spiritual cosmos populated by divine beings, sometimes in a hierarchial order.
2. The belief of Earth and material life as created.
3. A multitude of Gods and other spirits.
4. The role of ancestors.
5. A belief in sacred places and spaces such as a mountain that God inhabits.
6. Males and females as parts of the cosmic scheme.
7. Idea of society being organized around values and traditions drawn from common beginnings in history.

The religious leaders in many of Africa’s religions have tried, sometimes in vain, to preserve the society from foreigners encroaching upon their lands and customs. Their role has always been to preserve the histories and traditions of the people. They teach the ways of survival to the people, be it wedding procedures or planting times the village priest is there to and serve through the God. The rituals practiced in many traditional African societies are all connected by the belief of being stepping stones to the ultimate goal of death and the afterlife. There are rituals that enhance all of the transitional stages of life such as birth, puberty, initiation into adulthood, marriage, having children, old age, death and life after death. The rituals allow the people celebrating to know what is expected of them in the next stage of their life and what is socially acceptable.

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{tab=Confucianism Religion}

Confucianism Religion

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China was in the midst of social and political upheaval at the time of Confucius’ teaching. The behavior of the average Chinese citizen was influenced by years of tradition and custom but many of those traditions and customs that governed people’s lives were being ignored as people became more individualistic. Warfare between different states was continuous and Chinese civilization teetered on the brink of self destruction.

The individualism that began to emerge in Confucius’ time was seen as a prelude to social anarchy. Custom and tradition was the “mortar” that kept society together and the “deliberate tradition” social system that Confucius built appealed to the people by using existing behavior established by precedented custom and tradition. Confucius used the teachings, morals, values and ideals of the Chinese people to create a philosophy that would allow the people to behave responsibly and still retain the essence of China’s history and cultural identity. The following five terms outline the basic concept of Confucius philosophy :

1. JEN : “The virtue of virtues”. The goodness of the human spirit. The perfection of what would make one supremely human. Untiring diligence,unselfishness, courtesy and empathy. “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do to you.” The idea that all of mankind is bonded together as brother and sister , the ideal relationship between human beings.

2. Chun tzu : One who is comfortable with oneself and one’s surroundings and acts confidently. A mature person.

3. Li : “The way things should be done”. Everything in its place should know its place and act accordingly, if you find yourself in a strange situation and don’t know how you should behave try to act with personal dignity. Revere the elderly for their experience and knowledge and learn from them of how to behave correctly.

4. Te : “The power by which men are ruled”. Te is the ruler’s virtue, discipline, honor and charisma with which he/she leads the people. It is also the power that makes people want to be ruled by that leader.

5. Wen : “The arts of peace”. The creative side of society ( culture ) that produces art, poetry, philosophy, dance and music. These things are admired and emulated. Confucius was a sociologist. He broke down the problems facing his people and came up with a solution that somehow worked. People were ready for change but not as yet able to identify what that change might be. Confucius gave a well thought out answer and made it easy to live a good life and still be happy.

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