Different societies held widely varying beliefs and values, but their cultural and religious traditions offered guidance on moral, religious, political, and social issues. Jainism and Manichaeism involved becoming spiritually in tune with one-self and nature while Confucianism involved preparing individuals for an idealistic future in government. Persia and India shared similar beliefs when it came to sacrifices and values with ancient Aryans. Philosophical and religious beliefs were similar in that they both promoted release from the past strains of social classes. The influence of government, cultures, and societies within these religions made a significant difference in how people lived, thought, and act. The most influential of the new religions were Jainism. Vardhamana Mahavira turned to Jainism in the late sixth century. For years he led an abstinent life. He abandoned all his worldly goods, even his clothes, and taught an ascetic doctrine of detachment from the world. Jains believed that everything in the universe: humans, animals, plants, the air, bodies of water, and even inanimate physical objects such as rocks, possessed a soul. As long as they remained stuck in earthly bodies, these souls experienced both physical and psychological suffering. Only by purification from selfish actions could souls gain release from their imprisonment, shed the burdens of karma that they had accumulated during their various incarnations and attain a state of bliss. Individuals underwent purifications by observing the principle of nonviolence to other living things or their souls. Jainist ethics were so demanding that few people other than devout monks could hope to observe them closely.
Manichaeism derived from the prophet Mani, a devout Zoroastrian from Babylon in Mesopotamia, drew deep influence from Christianity and Buddhism. Because of the intense interaction between people of different societies, Mani saw a need for a prophet for all humanity, and he...
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