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South Asian Belief Systems

By brittaneeka May 08, 2013 912 Words
South Asian Beliefs Systems

Between 1000 BCE and 600 CE, there were many changes and continuities in the belief systems of South Asia. In 1000 BCE, Greece had their polytheistic religion with gods and goddesses. Persia’s religion included magi and the beginning of Zoroastrianism. Also during this time period, Indian religion included Krishna and Veda. In the span from 500 BCE to 4 BCE, there were many changes along with continuities in the religions of this region. Persian religion still included magi and Zoroastrianism. Greek religion included sacrifice and temples for their gods. Roman religion included pax deorum and Chinese religion included the belief that divinity resides with nature. Daoism Confuciam and Buddhism were practice during this time also. In India there was Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism along with other small religious beliefs.

Ancient Greece was a civilization on polytheism. This civilization believed in many gods and goddesses. These gods and goddesses were the basis of their everyday lives. Everything that occurred was somehow related to the deities and what they were thinking. Some of the gods and goddesses of this time were Zeus, Poseidon, Hera and Hades. Also in this time period were the Persian magi. Magi were the priests or ritual specialists of the time. They supervised the proper performances of sacrifices. Indian religion also began to form during this time. Krishna was a part of this region’s religion. Krishna, a god, was the organizing principle behind all creation.

From 500 BCE to 4 BCE, there were many changes and continuities in the belief systems of the South Asian civilizations. Persian magi still existed during this time. The belief known as Zoroastrianism was created and practiced during this time. Zoroastrianism is the belief in the god Ahura Mazda as ruler and Angra Mainyu as the satanic figure. In this religion, there are two main principles. Asha, the principle of everything being good in the world and order and Druj, the principle of no mercy and that happiness or sadness are a result of the persons’ actions. Also during this time was the change in Greek religion. Temples were built for the gods and sacrifices took place outside the temples of the gods. Rome relgion included the belief of pax deorum or peace of the gods. The Roman people worked constantly to maintain this peace in order to have happiness. Chinese beliefs included Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. These religions included the belief that the divinity resided in nature and harmonizing with nature. Near the end of this period, Jesus was born and the formation of Christianity followed.

During the time span of 1000 BCE to 600 CE, Indian beliefs changed and stayed the same in some ways. Among the beliefs of this region was the principle of atman, the immortal essence or spirit which was reborn after separation from body at death. Karma was also part of this region’s beliefs. Karma is the principle of your deeds having an effect on your future. Depending on whether you had good or bad deeds, you would have good or bad luck. Buddhism was born in this region between 563 and 483 BCE. Siddhartha Gautana was the founder of this religion. He gave up his princely lifestyle and family to become a wandering ascetic. While under a tree near the Ganges river, he had a revelation that led to the Four Noble Truths. These truths are 1) life is suffering 2) suffering arises from desire 3) the solution to suffering is curbing desire 4) desire can be curbed if the person follows the eightfold path. Later, once Buddha had died, the religion split into two different groups. The first was Mahayana, or the “great vehicle”. This group believed in a new lifestyle and changed the teachings of Buddhism to fit. The other was Theravada or “the teachings of the elders” This group believed in keeping the teachings the same as before. Jainism was also a part of the religion of this region. This belief emphasized holiness of the life force that animates all living creatures. There were also many smaller beliefs that were part of this region. Moksha, Rig Veda, Vishnu, Shiva and Devi are some such beliefs. Moksha was the belief of liberation which was attained by distancing oneself from desire for things of the world. Rig Veda was a collection of more than a thousand poetic hymns to various deities. Vishnu and Shiva were two minor deities of Hinduism. Vishnu was a preserver and helped his believers in times of need. He was believed to be reincarnated in times of evil. Some of his believed reincarnation are Buddha, Krishna and Rama. Shiva is an ambivalent figure who represents both creation and destruction. Devi is a full bodied mother goddess that promotes fertility and procreation.

Throughout the time span of 1000 BCE to 600 CE, there were many changes and continuities in the belief systems of the South Asian region. Many new religions were created such as Buddhism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. There were changes to already existing religions like that of Greece and China. In Persia there were magi and sacrifice. In Rome there was pax deorum. India was a big religious region. Many religions were created and developed there. Through time there have been many changes in the religions that were created during this time period. There have also been things that have stayed the same. No matter the changes or continuites, the religions of this period have affected today’s society.

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