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Other Natural Religions
I thought it might be good for us (Hindus/Dharmics) to start learning about the Real Traditions in the world.

We've wasted so much time learning about (and exposing ourselves to the bad influence of) the undeserving religions of christoislamism. And we have given so much so respect (not to mention credit/credulity) to them. How many Hindus talk about jesus and mohammed as having been some 'great teachers'? How many Hindus believe in them and their 'teachings' and respect them deeply? (Even though many of these Hindus are ready to put Ramayana down as myths, they'll knock you over with a boulder if you try to say <i>you know for a fact</i> that jesus is a myth and mohammed a terrorist villain).

Yet we've not learnt about the deserving and valid traditional systems of the world - the ones we share things in common with, and/or whose ideas may inspire us. The very ones that ought to be acknowledged and known, have remained forgotten.

I feel that learning about these Natural Religions will help us in many ways:
(1) Better understanding and familiarity with True Traditions of other peoples. Good to learn about wholesome religions!
(2) We'll know we're not alone.
(3) Puts us as Hindus into context.
(4) Christoislamicommunist terrorists can scream we're "backward and ridiculous" all they want, but we'll see how very normal and respectable we really are when we learn how our most animystical selves are part of a very diverse group of respectable traditions. We're in good company!
(5) No longer get christoislamicommunised by continuous exposure to their distorted world-view which involves strange nonsensical concepts like monopolytheism, idolatry, "myth" and other nonsense that we don't get and yet we start using. We have to let go off their thinking patterns that they've forced us to absorb by excluding the other Natural Religions from our knowledge.
(6) We can draw points of similarity with our own Dharma - even though there might be no historical link, there's might be a similar way of looking at things.
We can discover things that we share with the rest of the world or shared understanding of things. (And in the process realise that christoislamicommunazism is the real oddity/aberration.)

There's already many other threads here where people posted bits of stuff of other cultures: Iranian, Greek, African, Native American, Japanese...
If anyone ever comes across any of that again, can they cross-post it here?
Typed out from: http://www.erm.ee/pdf/pro18/chuvyurov.pdf (Honsol provided link)

The below-mentioned "Finno-Ugric peoples" refer to the Finnish and Sami of Scandinavia, Siberians, Estonians of the Baltic(?) and others.
The first paragraph below is from an 18th century christian view of how their santa destroyed a Sacred Tree. In subsequent paras some of the traditional beliefs associated with the trees are described.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Trees in Komi (Zyrian) Rituals and Beliefs</b>
Alexander Chuvyurov
In the worldview of the Finno-Ugric peoples, there exists a varied range of animistic and totemistic conceptions related to worshipping of trees. The material on Komi-Zyrians, found in literature and collected by researchers during recent years, can be divided into the following groups.

<b>Holy groves and worshipped trees</b>
Until Christianization, the birch, the spruce, the mountain ash and the bird cherry tree were the main species that were worshipped by the Komi-Zyrians (Belitser 1958: 322). In the hagiography of St. Stephen of Perm[1] it is mentioned that in Ust-Vym, on the bank of the Vym River, there stood a big birch tree especially worshipped by local people. As the author of the hagiography says, this tree was so big that three people were hardly able to encircle its trunk with their arms (Povest... 1996:68). According to the same source, the Permians (Komi-Zyrians) took sacrificial animals and hides to this tree. The Komi-Zyrians worshipped this tree as a deity, maintaining that any disrespectful act towards it threatened people with all kinds of troubles (Povest... 1996: 69).
<i>[1] <b>An earlier copy of this source dates back to the 18th century</b> (Vlasov 1996: 16-17).</i>
Several legends have been passed down describing how St. Stephen of Perm chopped tis birch tree down. The aforementioned story, about St. Stephen of Perm, presents a colourful description of this event. According to this source, St. Stephen as chopping this birch for three days, and in the course of this process the birch, like a living creature, uttered cries of pain reminding people of hte voices of men, women and children. During chopping, blood streamed out of the tree (Povest... 1996: 69). As the birch was so big, the saint was not able to chop it down on the first day. He drove his axe into the tree and went to have a rest. When morning came and he returned ot the tree, he saw that it was standing undamaged, but his axe, which he had left stuck in the trunk, was lying on the ground, next to the birch tree (Povest,,, 1996:69). And it was only on the third day that the saint, according to the source, was able to chop down the birch tree, worshipped by the Komi-Zyrians, and it fell on the ground, crying and groaning loudly. The tree was burnt right after it had been chopped down. Later on, St. Stephen of Perm had a church erected on the site of this birch tree in the honour of hte holy archistrateges Michael and Gabriel (Gavriil) (Povest... 1996: 70).

Even as late as at hte beginning of the 20th century, birch groves, which were considered to be holy, were carefully preserved outside many Komi villages (Belitser 1958: 322). According to A. Sidorov, in a number of Lower-Vychegda communes (Aikinsk, Kokvitsk) birch groves were carefully preserved in the 1920s. In the village of Iovdin, Turinsk commune, there was a big pine tree standing on the bank at the confluence of the Vym and Iolva Rivers, which was especially worshipped in the 1920s. Local women used to come to this pine tree, light candles on its branches and pray there (Sidorov 1924: 48). Ethnographers A. Sidorov and V. Belitser mentioned that there existed a belief among the Komi-Zyrians that each person had a counterpart among trees. So Sidorov claims that "each person, according to Zyrians, has a twin tree, which, when chopped down, speaks in a human language with its twin-human, bleeds and has a miracle-working power after it has been chopped down. If you make a table from this wood, it will never be short of food supplies; if you make skis, they will carry you to the destination if you merely think about the journey. According to a Komi legend, the famous Sindorsk hero-hunter Iirkap possessed these kinds of skis" (Sidorov 1924: 48).

Images of animated trees can also be found in various hunting stories and beliefs. When making preparations for staying overnight under a tree, hunters first asked for the latter's permission to do so. Without asking permission, according to Komi beliefs, the hunter was going to encounter serious trouble. And, on the contrary, if the hunters observed all the confidential hunting regulations and norms, they gained favour with the tree who had put them up for the night (Komi legendy... 1984: 14). So, in the story "I Am Not Ready Yet" a hunter stays overnight under a spruce, prior to asking for her permission to do that. In the morning, when he is getting ready to leave, he hears someone's voice saying "I am not ready yet". When the hunter has already moved away from the tree, there comes a gust and knocks down the tree, and its top is right behind the hunter's back (Komi legendy... 1984: 92-93).<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<b>Some points of comparison:</b>
- us Hindus have got the sacred Asvattha tree (or something). Next to that we have Tulsi Devi, the Devi of our healing sacred Tulsi plant. There's a beautiful traditional shloka to Tulsi Devi that I will try to locate and put up.
- The Shinto of Japan have sacred Garden Spirits. In fact, in Shinto, everything is animated and has a spirit.
- The Chinese also appear to have tree spirits. They can have rather human characters: some of them are apparently even power-greedy/evil. From a Singaporean CGI movie I watched, there was an evil female she-tree.
- The Greeks have the Driads/Dryads: spirits of trees who can take on human form.
- The sacred fir/evergreen tree of the Northern countries ("christmas" tree) which the people used to decorate for Winter Solstice.
<b>ADDED:</b> - Bodhi tree is sacred to and well-respected by Dharmics. Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
- The Dharmic Nepalese (can't make out if the ones in question are Hindu or Buddhist) also have sacred trees they worship, as documented here:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Cursing a tree sacred to the Nepalese, in imitation of Jesus</b><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A Nepali pastor identifying himself as Bharat Bhattrai, writing to the Nepali evangelical newsletter The Good News of Nepal made the following observations:
"Three years ago when I came to pioneer a church in Banasthali, which is an area of Kathmandu, I came across a tree which was being worshipped by the local people. This challenged me to proclaim that Jesus is lord of all the earth. Every time I walked by that tree, I would say, "Jesus is Lord" and I would then pray in tongues. In four months time about 15 people were converted to Christ. Together, we began cursing the tree in Jesus’ name. Gradually, we noticed that the tree was beginning to die and the people stopped worshipping it. Now that the tree is completely withered, people are saying that the Christians did it. No; Christians did not do it but Jesus did it in response to our prayers" (Good News of Nepal, ND: 7). When this particular story was shown to a Nepali Buddhist, his response was "why would Jesus want to destroy a tree?"<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Buddhists obviously haven't read the Bible - Jesus had already set a precedent by having cursed a fig tree and made it wither (Matthew 21:18-19). Why did Jesus want to destroy that tree? For the same reason as that which inspired his devout followers in this case.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->the fact that it was reported in an evangelical newsletter under the name of a pastor with a photograph of a withered tree clearly suggest that it is considered an important item to be talked about.
... the fact that there seems to be a tacit approval of such actions as 'heroic' (as indicative of the language used in the Nepali example above, and the very fact that it was written about in the first place) also encourage individuals and organizations to engage in such activity. These activities become a measurement of faith and commitment to the evangelical cause. Thus for example, when an American evangelical worker active in Nepal was asked about the incident involving the tree reported above, he observed:
<i>"It was a situation of a man leading by example. Particularly because he is Nepali, he can do it with authority."</i>
For him and many others like him, there were no problems related to this incident. It was merely a proclamation of faith.
Link: http://www.rcss.org/policy_studies/ps_5_5.html
Another tale which should show the christo-islamic worldview of "tree-worship": a story of Muhammed and a date tree, that I had read somewhere in islami sources...

Just before he was to depart finally, he asked Abu Bakr to call all the principal followers. He was seated under a tree. So they assembled near him surrounding the tree. As they gethered, he asked Abu Bakr to first bring down that tree. After labours, the tree was brought down, and he began preaching his last.

In the end when it was done, Abu Bakr asked him why he wanted the tree chopped down. Because, he said, people should not start worshipping the tree under which muhammed took the last shelter.
rudraksha trees are particularly venerated in the hills. tradition goes that, after the sacrifice of Sati, Mahadev was angrily dancing and roaming all over the world, and tears of anger were flowing down his cheeks. Wherever his tears fell on ground, trees of rudra-aksha (tears/eyes of rudra) appeared.

One can not miss a rare type of rudraksha tree in the campus of Pashupati Nath temple in Kathmandu.
At that link in post 2 (http://www.erm.ee/pdf/pro18/chuvyurov.pdf ) about Finno-Ugric traditions, the article then goes on to show some examples of how christianism insinuated itself into the local traditions regarding trees. Something like how christianism stole Northern countries' traditions such as people putting out a plate for their neighbouring "Kabouters" Gnomes during mealtimes; christianism changed it to a plate for "jesus".

Forgot to add in #2's list of comparisons, but have now included it there also:
- Bodhi tree is sacred to and well-respected by Dharmics <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> eh, Bodhi?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Muhammed and a date tree ... Just before he was to depart finally, he asked Abu Bakr to call all the principal followers. He was seated under a tree. So they assembled near him surrounding the tree. As they gethered, he asked Abu Bakr to first bring down that tree. ... he said, people should not start worshipping the tree under which muhammed took the last shelter.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->So different from the rest of us. Only islam and christianity - as we've seen - are that weird. We don't go around killing other characters (people or trees) just because we fear it may become connected to our person and that people would worship it instead of us ('us' as in mohammed).

Meanwhile Buddha did no such thing. Rather, his Bodhi tree (or a representative) is venerated by Buddhists - at least in E Asia - along with other Buddha-related relics.
And in Hindu Dharma it is considered as grave a crime to cut down a tree in bloom as it is to strike/hurt/kill a pregnant woman. (These are considered terribly serious offences in Hinduism.)
Found it and so now I don't need to repeat myself beyond duplicating an earlier post. Thought the following belongs here, since the poem on Zeus is very in line with this thread. (Added a statement in purple)

<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Jan 23 2007, 10:26 AM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Jan 23 2007, 10:26 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->FACING THE CHALLENGE OF AMERICAN PLURALISM ON THE FUTURE OF THE NRI COMMUNITY
By - Jakob De Roover<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
There are a number of points I specifically agree with in the above article. For instance, De Roover writes how the HAF and VF have been forced to do the following in presenting Hinduism in America:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->That is, the many devatas are transformed into different ways of worshiping the one true God. Hinduism becomes a proper monotheistic faith. A variety of pagan Indian traditions are excluded because they are embarrassing to the sanitized biblical model of American pluralism.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->The concept of the Divine in Hinduism is as infinite as the Divine itself. He/she has form, is formless, a universal energy. Reading about Brahman in the Upanishads and then reading the Tao Te Ching, one realises that they speak of this unmanifested, indescribable divine ... matter or intelligence or intellect or force or whatever the best description is. The Vedas and Upanishads and commentary by Adi Shankaracharya all explain Brahman with negation: 'not (just) this - beyond all this'. The Tao Te Ching also takes an indirect route to explain the Tao without being able to describe what is essentially indescribable. The Tao Te Ching also does an excellent job in conveying the idea in a human language and explain it to human thought.
In Hinduism, the same Brahman, that force inconceivable to limited imagination, is also manifest to us in a myriad of conceivable forms: Mahavishnu or his variations-(with particular and definite purposes) like Rama and Krishna, Shiva the Cosmic Intelligence, Shakthi the Power and Energy, Ganapathi without whom no Sacrifice bears fruition, and the like. In a different view, the same Gods return to explain the cosmos in a different manner: creation, preservation, dissolution or Goddess the infinitely generative (Parvati) or protective (as Kali), memory, knowledge, wisdom and speech (Saraswati), all kinds of wealth and contentment (Lakshmi). The Gods return again to be individual characters to their bhakthas, they fuse (as Ardhanareeshwara or Shankara-Narayana) to symbolise their oneness. They play the easily comprehensible (Krishna and his butter snatching, Muruga and his playfulness) to the incomprehensible: how each God is described in the scriptures devoted to or expounded by them as being Brahman: Devi (Devi Mahatmyam), Krishna in Gita, Shiva, Ganapathi, Muruga and all .
The Divine is also manifest as the Gods of nature: Rain (Indra), Fire (Agni), Sun, Wind, and the like.

The Divine is everything to us, (s)he is both personal and impersonal and beyond all conception - the Gita explains this repeatedly. There seems to be both personal interest/touch in creation, all while it is merely a natural process of Brahman, from what I could understand of it.

Roover again, on how the Christian understanding of Hinduism using the biblical framework, returned to us to affect Hindu perceptions of our own religion:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The scholars and human sciences of Europe took these Christian theological descriptions as the basic material of their theorizing. Later, Americans reproduced the same assumptions and images. The result is ‘Hinduism’ – the religion of the Hindus. Tragically, colonialism had the Indian pagans adopt this description of their own traditions. Today their intellectuals and educated layers also believe this ‘Hinduism’ exists. Consequently, the NRI community understands the predicament it confronts in a particular way: how should this religion of Hinduism be represented fairly and accurately in the American public sphere and educational system?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->The author states that our real trouble is figuring out<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>how to break out of the straitjacket in which American pluralism and its theological structure have imprisoned the pagan traditions of India?</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->I feel that his answer is partly hidden in here:<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This straitjacket has a long history. It is the framework through which the western culture has always looked at other cultures. It is the paradigm that still sustains the dominant human sciences of today and their understanding of nonwestern cultures. It effectively transforms the Hindu traditions into pallid variants of biblical religion.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->We are not alone in Hinduism.
Christianity, Islam are both part of a group of three related religions, together with Judaism. (<b>INSERT:</b> Changed my opinion on this since the original post: I no longer think of Judaism belongs in the category of christoislamicommunism. The monotheism and OT's plagiarism of Judaic books had confused me earlier.)
But our Hinduism is not alone at all, having similarities with many religions - all natural religions: Japan's Shinto has the Kamisama, the Divine, which manifests in many Gods. Like our Brahman:
http://www.basilisk.tv/ (History link)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A strong spiritual influence [of the Ninjas] was Shinto, "the way of the Kami." Kami is the Japanese word of "god" and rather than referring to a being, Kami refers to a sacred force that runs through the entire world.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Again, this is like Tao too. Then there is Le Grand Esprit of the North American native Americans: the Grand Spirit, even though the native Americans have totem animals and many other Gods or Spirits to guide them in life, all of whom are manifestations in some capacity of the Grand Spirit. The Ancient African religion of Ifa has the Divine manifesting as many Gods to love and guide all creatures. Hellenismos, the real thing - not the 'petty' religion christians have made it out to be over the last 1.5 millennia - is like our religion too: the Cosmic Power manifests as the Gods representing different aspects of Nature. Zeus is the active Creator, also a deity of Nature, also the Intelligence of the Kosmos itself. Read how the poetic ancient Greeks described Zeus in the section "Greek Wisdom" at http://www.sunyaprajna.com/Worldview/SRKcomments.html
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><i>The last and greatest of them, Porphyry, interprets an <b>Orphic hymn to Zeus</b> as follows: </i>

Now look at the wisdom of the Greeks, and examine it as follows. The authors of the Orphic hymns supposed Zeus to be the mind of the world, and that he created all things therein, containing the world in himself. Therefore in their theological systems they have handed down their opinions concerning him thus:
   Zeus was the first, Zeus last, the lightning's lord,
   Zeus head, Zeus centre, all things are from Zeus.
   Zeus born a male, Zeus virgin undefiled;
   Zeus the firm base of earth and starry heaven;
   Zeus sovereign, Zeus alone first cause of all:
   One power divine, great ruler of the world,
   One kingly form, encircling all things here,
   Fire, water, earth, and ether, night and day;
   Wisdom, first parent, and delightful Love:
   For in Zeus' mighty body these all lie.
   His head and beauteous face the radiant heaven
   Reveals and round him float in shining waves
   The golden tresses of the twinkling stars.
   On either side bulls' horns of gold are seen,
   Sunrise and sunset, footpaths of the gods.
   His eyes the Sun, the Moon's responsive light;
   His mind immortal ether, sovereign truth,
   Hears and considers all; nor any speech,
   Nor cry, nor noise, nor ominous voice escapes
   The ear of Zeus, great Kronos' mightier son:
   Such his immortal head, and such his thought.
   His radiant body, boundless, undisturbed
   In strength of mighty limbs was formed thus:
   The god's broad-spreading shoulders, breast and back
   Air's wide expanse displays; on either side
   Grow wings, wherewith throughout all space he flies.
   Earth the all-mother, with her lofty hills,
   His sacred belly forms; the swelling flood
   Of hoarse resounding Ocean girds his waist.
   His feet the deeply rooted ground upholds,
   And dismal Tartarus, and earth's utmost bounds.
   All things he hides, then from his heart again
   In godlike action brings to gladsome light.

Zeus, therefore, is the whole world, animal of animals, and god of gods; but Zeus, that is, inasmuch as he is the mind from which he brings forth all things, and by his thoughts creates them. When the theologians had explained the nature of god in this manner, to make an image such as their description indicated was neither possible, nor, if any one thought of it, could he show the look of life, and intelligence, and forethought by the figure of a sphere.

But they have made the representation of Zeus in human form, because mind was that according to which he wrought, and by generative laws brought all things to completion; and he is seated, as indicating the steadfastness of his power: and his upper parts are bare, because he is manifested in the intellectual and the heavenly parts of the world; but his feet are clothed, because he is invisible in the things that lie hidden below. And he holds his sceptre in his left hand, because most close to that side of the body dwells the heart, the most commanding and intelligent organ: for the creative mind is the sovereign of the world. And in his right hand he holds forth either an eagle, because he is master of the gods who traverse the air, as the eagle is master of the birds that fly aloft - or a victory, because he is himself victorious over all things.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Some of the statements about Zeus in this poem is like the description of Brahman in the Gita. It gives the lie to the christians who have maligned the Great Father Zeus. The Greeks used to say about him "For we are all indeed his offspring". Clearly.

One of the ways I thought Hindus can move forward with a proper representation of our religion is to leave the low-level talk of polytheism and monotheism to christoislamism which alone is concerned with this petty nonsense.
If you have children, explore the other natural religions and teach them how Hinduism is the expression of the Divine in India. How Hinduism is the Truths grasped by our ancient Indian ancestors. And why our Gods are special to us: in the same manner that the Gods of the other natural religionists are special to them - they represent their people's historic, accumulated, evolutionary understanding of the Divine. It is the greatest gift our ancestors have given us and something that the small-minded, petty babbling book or koran can never give even the remotest glimpse of.

De Roover also writes the following though:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In reality, however, the notion of God is absent in the Hindu traditions: there is no eternal person, whose will has created and governs the universe and who has revealed His true will to sections of humanity.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--> That is not true. Like Zeus and the other Olympic Gods and the various Kami (manifestations) in Shinto or the Yoruba in Africa, our Gods are represented in physical manifestation too. The Gita says that this entity or being, both formless and yet with myriad forms, is the creator and preserver of all of Creation (the whole Cosmos: all the universes) who pervades every particle of it. As time, (s)he guides everone and everything to their final destinations. There is a repeated cycle of creation, life and dissolution set in motion by the Cosmic 'Mind'.
Krishna explains who he is to Arjuna, who being a prince must have learnt the Vedas from his teachers like Bhishma and Drona. Krishna tells Arjuna: you have heard of Brahman, that which is everything and beyond everything you know - I am a manifestation of that.
And this is what Rama, Shiva, Devi, Ganapathi and the others all are.

As for our Hindu background: we are not alone, but are in the greatest and most worthwhile of company (and we are ourselves as worthwhile), sharing with other natural religionists such a unifying understanding of the Divine. It's time well-spent when we learn about these other ancient religions (after forcing ourselves to read through the babble/koran to realise we have nothing in common with these two) and realise how so many aspects of Hinduism have a parallel with other natural religions. No more time wasted on apologetics about non-issues like the monopoly-theisms discussions and about idols or what nots.
Searched the web and found the following on Africa.
BBC news/world service is not a place famed for honesty about non-christoislamic religions, but I guess they thought African Religion was nearly dead and so they could practise a little half-hearted respect.

In any case, some nice things to be had: <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>One God And Many Deities</b>

A supreme power, ruling over everything and everyone appears to be a feature of all African religions. This supreme power is the prime mover and creator, who is all knowing and eternal, and was there at the beginning of time. It goes under many different names, and it varies considerably from society to society, as to how near or how remote this supreme power is.

The Abaluiyia of Kenya, the Bambuti of the Congo area, and the Galla of Ethiopia are among those who <b>pray directly to the supreme deity on a regular basis</b>. Here is the example of a common prayer of the Nandi, in Kenya, which reflects the importance of cattle in their community:

<b>God guard me, the children and the cattle,
God guard for us the cattle,
God give us good health!</b>

<b>In other cultures, the supreme being cannot be approached directly.</b> The Igbo, of southeastern Nigeria, talk about 'the rich man' who can only be approached through his many servants.

Most societies have a host of different intermediaries who can be consulted.

In Yoruba belief, the prime mover is Oludmare, who gives life to the newborn and consigns the wicked to a place of punishment after death. But beneath Oludmare are hundreds of deities, or 'orisas'.

Each has a different province, for example, Orunmila knows every language of earth, Ogun is concerned with iron making and hunting, <b>Shango (or Chango) is a manifestation of Oludmare's anger, drawing on thunder and lightening to express this.</b>

Similarly in Uganda, Katonda is the supreme deity of the Baganda. But beneath him are fifty or so guardians or 'balubaale', including Walumbe a figure of death, Kibuka presiding over war and <b>Nagaddya, who deals with marriage and harvest.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
And on this page, an African community is talking to a christian missionary. The difference between the truth of their religion and the falsehood of the christian's comes across clearly - no more rain when they started praying to the non-existent jehovallah:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>WHERE'S THE RAIN?</b>
"'We like you as well as if you had been born among us; you are the only white man we can become familiar with (thoaela); but we wish you to give up that everlasting preaching and praying; we cannot become familiar with that at all.

You see we never get rain, while those tribes who never pray as we do obtain abundance.' This was a fact; and we often saw it raining on the hills ten miles off, while it would not even look at us 'even with one eye.'"
Taken from an account of Living with the Bakwain, by Scottish missionary David Livingstone.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Elsewhere on that page
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Certainly the first Muslim teachers and Christian missionaries had little respect for the traditional religions they came across. Both Islam and Christianity are religions of the book; their doctrinal authority lies in their scriptures.

African traditional religions produced no written works, but derived their authority from oral history, custom and practice, and the power of priests, kings and others gifted in dealing with spiritual issues. This lack of scriptures led to the assumption that people in Africa were not capable of 'proper' religious observance. But some European missionaries and explorers were struck by the intense spirituality of Africans.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->It is then followed by a paragraph that wrongly stereotypes African social customs (I will try to locate and paste something to contradict the stereotype below it):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Islam sits more comfortably with some aspects of traditional religion than Christianity. <b>A key area is marriage. Christianity demands monogamy, that is, not more than one wife. Islam, by contrast, allows a man to take several wives. So Islam had a better chance of being accepted in the polygamous societies of Africa.</b> If a man converted to Christianity, he was obliged to dismiss all but one of his wives; this was the cause of much resentment and bitterness.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Islam does not work well with African religions. For instance, from the following which I'd discovered a few years ago (no link, and it's not here either, where I thought it should be). But the reference for the following as I'd saved it is:
<i>The Courier. No. 159, Sept-Oct 1996. Dossier Investing in People Country Reports: Mali, Western Samoa</i>
Women in certain African communities at least, enjoy a lot of freedom - can't go down well with islam or its asymetrical polygamous practices:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Trial marriage</b>

Nearly 500 kilometres separate Segou from Mopti. Midway between the two is San, barely more than a large village. San is bathed by the waters of the Bani, a major tributary of the Niger which it flows into it at Mopti. In the market, fine cotton fabrics can be bought, as can the skills of the blacksmiths. Here, however, there is above all an air of secrecy. The town's inhabitants are members of the Bobo people. The name translates es 'stammering', 'mute' being implied. This is the town which holds the secrets of fatal poisons-cocktails of poisonous plants and snake venom. There are also unguents of all kinds to relieve pain, alleviate scarring, and so on. San has another reputation, that of handing out severe punishment to adulteresses. This seems paradoxical when one discovers that women here enjoy exceptional sexual freedom during adolescence and up to the time of their marriage, and even afterwards. They enter into a trial marriage for three or four years, during which time they are free to 'play the field'. At the end of this period, on the occasion of a feast, they reveal whether or not they will accept their 'provisional' husband. If not, the woman regains her freedom and can start all over again as many times as she wishes. If she decides to become the man's wife, she chooses some of her husband's friends with whom she may 'have a fling' for two weeks, the aim being that she thereby lays to rest her unmarried freedom. She will then swear an oath of fidelity to her husband which she breaks on pain of being cast out of society and even, it would appear, at the risk of losing her life.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Can you imagine this kind of culture being compatible with islam - or even christianism for that matter (both of which accord no rights, let alone any such freedom, to women)?

That same "Courier" article above has another interesting bit. It tells of the failure of islam and of christianity's catholic cult in converting the place:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Segou, the Bambara capital, did not form part of most of Mali's empires. Indeed, the word Bambara comes from 'Ban-Mane', which means 'those who reject a master'. There are 4444 + 1 balanzans to announce the city, all of which are numbered except the last one, which still guards its secret. The balanzans conceal another secret: during the dry season they are covered with leaves, which they lose during the winter. A curious traveller might arrive at Segou with memories of Maryse Conde's fine prose (Segou, Robert Laffont, France, 1984). Her work is an epic fresco of life at the court of the Bambara kingdom in the nineteenth century. The city itself stretches for eight kilometres along the river bank, with a promenade high above the river on an embankment from where there is an uninterrupted view over the water to the horizon. The richly coloured fabrics of the washer women create a dreamlike atmosphere, giving an impression of the shimmering tunics worn by princes, and the women who swim in the river are not given to excessive prudishness, another reminder of the city's enduring rebellious nature. The charm and cleanliness of the town are striking, its administrative buildings stretching along a grand boulevard lined with modern structures. We see in their profiles, the traditional architectural styles as well as a variety of colours. The whole scene is shaded by gardens full of flowers. <b>It is easy to forget that Segou has retained none of its former architectural wealth. This was all destroyed by the organisers of a jihad who sacked this city of infidels who had never been won over to Islam or, later, to Catholicism.</b> The city walls and the regal courtyards are all gone, so what remains is jealously protected: the sceptre and regal symbols of King Diarra, the kingdom's treasures and its secrets. On Mondays, market day, it is possible to see people kneeling at the feet of an old man. He is the custodian of the town's remaining riches, but will never reveal where they are held. Oumar Santara, one of Segou's intellectuals, is attempting to gain an insight into these mysteries in order to protect them better because, he says, the pillage is still going on. <b>Mali's cultural heritage is being ransacked by outsiders.</b> In some villages on the opposite bank of the river, it is still possible to find 13th-century coins in the village squares.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
On African Yoruba beliefs (I had thus far been under the wrong impression that Yoruba is the name of their God(s) but it appears to be the name of a community or of their religion...).
http://www.cultural-expressions.com/ifa/ifabelief.htm (found via link)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>What the Yoruba Believe</b>
There is One Supreme God

There is no Devil

Except for the day you were born and the day you are supposed to die there is not a single event in ones life that cannot be forecast and if necessary, changed.

      Your spirit lives on after death and can reincarnate through blood relatives    

You are born with a specific path. Divination serves as a road map to your path.

   Our ancestors exist and must be honored, respected and consulted.  

      The Orisa (forces of nature) live within us and deal with the affairs of men.     

You must never initiate harm to another human being or to the universe, which you are apart of.

Spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional realms of our existence must all work together and be balanced.

     Sacrifice guarantees success.

<b>What the Yoruba Reject</b>

We are born in sin

The European civilized the African

Jesus Christ is the only way to God<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->My, they reject the very foundations of christianism: "everyone is born in sin" and "jesus is the only way". The heathens! <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->
This is an interesting exploration of "natural religions"!

Is anyone interested in going beyond, for example, Yorba beliefs, and into why there is religion and what psychic needs it serves?
ah yes, the invitation for discussion.
<!--QuoteBegin-Amit_Rajpal+Jan 27 2008, 10:27 AM-->QUOTE(Amit_Rajpal @ Jan 27 2008, 10:27 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is an interesting exploration of "natural religions"!

Is anyone interested in going beyond, for example, Yorba beliefs, and into why there is religion and what psychic needs it serves?
This guy is hopeless with typical commie behavior. Write a one liner and disappear. Doesn't want to get involved in serious discussion, where he has to substatiate what he says. May be that is his style of discussion, argue for the sake of arguing.
<!--QuoteBegin-Amit_Rajpal+Jan 27 2008, 10:27 AM-->QUOTE(Amit_Rajpal @ Jan 27 2008, 10:27 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is anyone interested in going beyond, for example, Yorba beliefs, and into why there is religion and what psychic needs it serves?[right][snapback]77675[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Tell ya what. The internet is not limited to these forums, ya know: there's a whole world wide web out there. It's true! You might be interested in going exploring beyond India-Forum. In fact, that would definitely serve your psych(ot)ic needs.

(By the way, "<i>psychic</i> needs"? <i>Psychic</i>? <!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I suppose that must be more of the "deep and insightful" christoislamicommunazism teachings... Too deep/insightful for me <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo-->)
Now that the No Thanks to needy Amit-BritishRaj's-Pal's "psychic needs" have been said, I'm X-posting the following which - I'm of the opinion - belongs here.

<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Oct 9 2007, 08:22 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Oct 9 2007, 08:22 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Communism tried to kill Taoism by persecuting Taoists and killing the Taoist spiritual heads (where did we come across that before....)

I can't find the website "TaoistRestore.org" mentioned in here, but it's available from Archive. Will post a page from there at the end.

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Reviving Taoism </b>
2500 year old faith blooms after 50 years of communist suppression
By Mark Hawthorne, California

An elderly monk, dressed in the traditional blue robe and jade-studded black cap of his Taoist sect, carefully places a burning joss stick in a large black urn. He pauses to watch a thin coil of smoke rise from the fragrant incense. Age belies the monk's physical energy; he goes about his many monastic duties with the stamina of a young man. But the passage of time has not been so kind to Taoism, an ancient tradition with many affinities to Hinduism and now threatened with extinction. After a long absence, the monk--one of China's remaining "Lao Tao" masters--has been brought back to this monastery on <b>sacred Wudang Mountain</b> after decades under house arrest. The same government that once repressed the open expression of his beliefs now wants him to pass along his knowledge to the next generation of Taoist monks. Similar former prisoners, with growing international support, give Taoism a crucial chance for survival in its homeland.

The decline of Taoism began late in the last century, during the Qing Dynasty. On the cusp of a new China, Qing emperors were religious patrons who struggled with a certain skepticism of Taoism. While they reserved a portion of their annual budget to support the monasteries, imperial enthusiasm for organized Taoism began to wane. When the monarchy finally fell in 1911 and the Nationalist government was installed in 1912, Taoism lost the long-standing financial and institutional support it had received from China's emperors. The new government regarded Taoism as mere folklore and myth. It allowed the religion to struggle on its own, and stood by as ancient temples, shrines and monasteries began to decay.

War between Japan and China destroyed Taoist sites in the 1930s, then came <b>Mao Zedong and his communists who, following a destructive civil war, toppled China's government in 1949 and soon outlawed religion altogether. The following year, the new People's Government suppressed all faiths. Buddhist and Taoist monasteries were destroyed or requisitioned as government buildings. Monks and nuns were imprisoned in labor camps, reducing the clergy from several millions to about 50,000--the same fate to later befall Tibetan Buddhists.</b>
(Tell that to them Indian zombies following communism proclaiming they are secular. Liars. Nothing secular about communism/psecularism.)

<b>By the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Taoist sites throughout the country had been closed to religious activity and plundered for their ancient bronze statues. Remaining monks and nuns were forced into work camps; others were tortured and killed. </b>

Mao's death in 1976 heralded a new mindset in China--a more liberal attitude which sees Taoism both as an important part of traditional Chinese culture and a source of revenue, since temples and shrines attract tourists. The Chinese government has even apologized for the Cultural Revolution, calling it "an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration."

Non-Chinese took an interest, too, especially the US-based Taoist Restoration Society (www.taorestore.org). "We thought Taoism was a dead religion," says TRS president Brock Silvers. He founded the non-profit organization in 1990 after visiting China and seeing for himself how Taoism was threatened with extinction. TRS's head office is in Chicago, with an branch in Beijing, China. TRS supports the restoration of monastic institutions and assists Taoist communities. "We are not interested in exporting, altering or Westernizing Taoism," Silvers says, "nor in gaining converts to any religious cause. TRS believes that it is vital that we protect the world's vanishing cultures and ancient traditions." To that end, the organization helps rebuild Taoist sites and supports the revival of organized Taoism. It is especially involved in the restoration of temples, almost all of which--some tens of thousands--were seized or destroyed by the government.

History: Taoism refers to both a philosophy and a religion, and dates from the Han Dynasty (206 bce­220 ce). Taoism's central concept is the Tao, which means both "the way" and "teaching." Metaphysically, the Tao is the reality that gives rise to the universe, the primordial source of all life; its function is simply being. It is akin to the Hindu concept of dharma. The same universal law that says all things originate from the Tao also dictates that everything must return to the Tao. To realize this law of returning to the Tao, say the Taoists, is to achieve enlightenment. Religious Taoism, taojiao, incorporates the <b>worship of many gods</b>, the veneration of nature, simplicity and a mystical viewpoint. Taoists regard matter and spirit as inseparable, so the goal is not to liberate the soul from the body, but to realize the truth within oneself, thus attaining the Tao.

Philosophical Taoism, taojia, focuses on nature as the provider of everything. The Tao is both the creator and creation itself. Since the Tao is without purpose and continually changing, say Taoist philosophers, this should also be the nature of human beings. Unlike followers of religious Taoism, they are not in pursuit of immortality; instead, practitioners of philosophical Taoism seek to form a mystical union with the Tao through meditation and by following the nature of the Tao through thought and action.

Taoism's central principles of Yin-Yang and Wu-wei are elucidated in the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, who lived 2,600 years ago. Yin and Yang are polar energies--complementary yet contradictory--in constant fluctuation to achieve harmony. Yin is feminine, receptive and soft, while Yang is masculine, creative and hard; Yin represents night, shadow, moon, water, even numbers and death, while Yang represents day, light, sun, fire, odd numbers and life. Nothing is purely one or the other; everything is a balance of Yin and Yang. Wu-wei is the principle of non-action. Wu-wei, the saint's attitude, is nonintervention in the natural course of life, thereby allowing for things to unfold in accordance with their own nature.

Restoration: Perhaps no one in China is more devoted to the fight to save Taoism than its clergy. Monks and nuns alike--what is left of them--are helping out with the painstaking restoration effort. Yin Xin Hui, the Abbess of Mao Mountains Qian Yuan Guan Nunnery, is currently working to rebuild a section dedicated to meditation, which was destroyed by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1938.

Another clergy member, a young Taoist monk whose name translates as "Mysterious Secret," has spent the last eight years traveling across China and rebuilding its Taoist infrastructure. He worked three years restoring the Heng Mountain Temple before moving on. At 28 years old, Mysterious, who was ordained at age 18 in the Complete Reality sect, represents the first generation of post-communist monks now reaching spiritual maturity. His efforts also include the establishment of a temple on Mozi Mountain, a hill in downtown Yueyang.

<b>Assisting in many of these projects, TRS hopes to see at least one major Taoist place of worship in every large Chinese city.</b> <!--emo&:cool--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/specool.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='specool.gif' /><!--endemo--> There is no official restoration plan. Taoist clergy and volunteers usually handle smaller projects. The government runs some projects and funds for other reconstruction come from supporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US.

Silvers notes that it is difficult to follow traditional use of Taoist iconography and symbols as the sites are rebuilt. "From what I have seen," he says, "the government doesn't really care about authenticity. And even those who do care--officials and monks alike--are often hampered by a combination of poverty and ignorance."

The government's National Taoist Association and local religious affairs bureaus across China are also working to save the tradition from extinction, with varying degrees of success. Last January, for example, <b>the government opened a renovated temple dedicated to the God of Tai Shan. A local tourist bureau rebuilt the ancient temple, one of the largest in Beijing. But, rather than being renovated as a place of worship, the temple now stands as a cultural museum. No Taoist clergy are allowed to engage in religious activity there.</b>
(Communism trying the old "culture-but-dead" trick that christians have been using with Ancient Greece and Rome. "Dead culture" can't affect christianism, but it can be plagiarised from, sold as a tourist attraction and held up to show how 'open-minded' christianism is in tolerating it. But when the supposedly dead culture shows signs of life - as it does in Greece - christians freak. And communists too.)

"Taoism is a mystical religion relying on oral transmission of many teachings," explains Silvers. "The number of monks remaining from Taoism's pre-Mao days, the so-called 'Lao Tao,' is small and dwindling. These masters are generally 70 to 100 years old." It is not so easy to coax them back into practice after so many decades of repression and fear. Most have learned to keep their religion to themselves.

After a decade of fighting to save Taoism, Silvers is hopeful but pragmatic. He sums up the religion's chance for survival by invoking the Lao Tao masters. "The ability of organized Taoism to continue as an authentic religious tradition," he says, "rests squarely on the aged shoulders of a small number of monks and nuns battered by time, who may or may not remember the rituals they were forced to abandon or the scripture they were forced to burn fifty years ago."


Here's a page I found in the Archive:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Taoism Explained

Taoism and Deities

<b>TRS receives a great deal of email and correspondence from people who insist that the tao doesn't need deities, or that the Dao De Jing doesn't mention deities, and thus original "pure" Taoism doesn't include deities. These positions, however, fail to consider a number of important factors.</b>

The tao is omnipresent. That means it is present throughout Taoism, but that it is equally present throughout Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Voodoo, Santeria, and every other religion. The tao is completely areligious. If being a part of the tao was a religious experience or qualification, then every single person in the world would be a Taoist. Tao and Taoism, however, are not the same thing. Taoism is a specific religious tradition and not everyone is a Taoist. To claim so would be an insult to the hundreds of millions of people who sincerely claim to follow other religious traditions. So while the tao may or may not require deities, that has no bearing upon Taoism's requirement.

But how does Taoism require deities when the Dao De Jing doesn't seem to mention them? In order to understand that, one has to first examine Taoism's historical development. The Dao De Jing dates to the 6th - 2nd Centuries B.C. Taoism was founded in the 2nd Century A.D. No matter where one places the Dao De Jing, it came into existence at least several centuries prior to Taoism's founding. By the time Taoism came into existence, it relied upon a complex foundation of ideas and traditions, of which Laozi's philosophy was only a part. This foundation came to be captured within a "canon" or an officially sanctioned group of core religious texts. The earliest versions of the canon contained many thousands of texts, of which the Dao De Jing was but one. The fact that one text within the canon may not contain a specific idea does not mean that the rest of Taoism does not hold that same idea to be valuable and necessary.

It is also questionable whether anyone can make a concrete case that the Dao De Jing doesn't consider deities. There are several passages in the Dao De Jing that seem to imply recognition of deities. But even more important is the fact that Taoists often interpret the Dao De Jing in radically different manners than do standard Western translators. Whereas Americans simply walk into a bookstore and purchase a copy of a translation, Taoists are traditionally taught an oral tradition of interpretation that has great religious and ritual importance. Taoists see deities in the Dao De Jing, while areligious Western translators often do not.

Taoism, from its very beginnings until today, incorporates deities. It doesn't, however, recognize a God in the Western sense. There is no great omnipotent being, external to man, who manages the universe. Such management is left to the tao, but the tao itself is not worshipped. Taoist deities are part of our universe, not separate from it, and are as equally beholden to the movements of the tao as are normal people. In that sense they are "deities" moreso than "Gods." They are worshipped or venerated in Taoist temples. Without deities, there would be no need for temples! Taoist deities exist in a great pantheon. Within this pantheon is a structure, with various deities operating under the authority of other deities. The pantheon generally changes over time, and various Taoist sects have differing views of it. But all Taoist sects acknowledge the pantheon's existence.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Slight difference in my experience: from how it appeared to me - from Malaysian Chinese and Taiwanese Taoists (and can include the Taiwainese and Chinese Taoist-Buddhists) - there are <i>major</i> Gods.[right][snapback]74100[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
There are many cryptos in India that pretend that Buddhism and Hinduism have nothing in common. There was a christian who wrote in economic and political weekly or whatever trying to differentiate between Dhamma and Dharma (arguments no more logical than "look, even the spelling is different!").

I don't know about Theravada Buddhism, but I do know that in Mahayana Buddhism Gods are very much a part of spiritual life. And not only do they have their own E Asian Gods, but also Hindu Gods.

Also Hindu Gods have a life in Japan that is separate from Buddhism (as in, not Buddhist forms of Hindu Gods, but Hindu forms of Hindu Gods). Including in Shinto.

<img src='http://homepage3.nifty.com/mistaker3/images/P8210053.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
"Kankiten Statue near entrance to Fukuoka Tower 20 minutes from Nishi-Arashi Station" (as stated on this page).
That looks distinctly like the form of Ganapathi we all know - complete with Snake girdle, Ekadantam, Moonjoor.
Many more familiar Hindu forms of Gods (not only Vinayakar) part of the same at http://homepage3.nifty.com/mistaker3/monument2.htm Definitely worth a look!

<img src='http://www.uniyatra.com/images/uniyatra-blog/hindusymbolism-miyajima.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
"Ameeta and I found these unusual statues in Miyajima, Japan. They are unusual because the statues <b>represent Hindu gods</b>, something generally not seen in Japan."

Back to Mahayana (E-Asian) Buddhism.
Something that will send cryptos in India who insist on how Buddhism is so "totally different and not at all related to Hinduism" into an infinite desperation loop - they'll get a shriek attack on the spot:
From a Mahayana Buddhist thread - with mainly Japanese people but also others - people talk about Worshipping Kankiten/Kangiten

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->For example I posted a bit on Ganesha in the Tibetan forum because there was already a thread there but it (the thread), wasn't soley about Ganesha (Kangiten)as practiced, understood and incorporated by Japanese Shingon/Tendai practioners and laity (not neccesarily buddhist)<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Do Tibetans worship Ganesha too, great. See I didn't know one bit. ... <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>om gam glaum ganapataye namah</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I jumped to p. 5 and read the great post of DNagpa on Kangiten, hmm I think I've got to worship him too  I'll go to the library and see what his mantra is and which mandala he's on, probably both!
gassho, Rory<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->i live about 10 mins (by train) away from the Ikoma Hozanji 宝山寺 temple, from what i know the main deity (Honzon) worshipped there is Fudo-myoou. However, Kangiten is also worshipped there. It is a Daihonzan of the Shingon Ritsu tradition.
Gassho<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--> <!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->(Rory @ Dec 3 2005, 10:52 AM)
Eijo Sensei
is Kangiten ritual only for priests or is it even more secret than that? I am not asking for you to reveal secrets just wondering if it is like learning Taizokai, Goma rituals, you must be ordained.

gassho, and thanks for all this sharing Rory<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Yes Rory, it is only for fully trained and initiated priests, and is a major commitment to take on. It is not something to discuss idly, actually ...
For the person who asked. Shoten is written 聖天 (Shouten), not 諸天 (Shoten).

Eijo <!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->(Shouten=Japanese Ganapathi)
In Hinduism, temple rites are unique for all ancient temples in India and each manifestation of God and Goddess in each temple has their own very specific rites. It's no different.
And such things as the Hindu version of the Mahamantram for Ganapathi (similar to what's bold above) are things that have to first be learned from your grandparent or Guru.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I read that book by Jiko Kohno, she really inspired me. The book is happy-sad. But this woman really is a healer & <b>sees the gods</b>. Of course married people can be effective priests.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->More proof on how the cryptos in India - the same gang who are yearly hired to 'convert' into Buddhism for show - have no clue.

Sometime earlier I had read Elst ("Who is a Hindu") on Ambedkar's new and totally different version of 'Buddhism' and making people swear off the Gods. He also changed a lot of Buddhist principles and basically created a totally different religion.

In any case, Mahayana Buddhism is similar to Hinduism (personal observation).
I would just point to their belief in Gods and similar rites and very similar ideas on Dharma (Buddhism in E is rather different from the Buddhism I have read on, which I guess is the difference between Mahayana and Theravada or merely the difference is between western interpretation and actual practise by living followers). Elst sees more similarities between E Buddhism and Hindu Dharma (no, I am not arguing it's the same religion):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->after its establishment as a separate sect, Buddhism has continually moved closer to its Puranic or Tantric surroundings.  Tibetan Buddhism, a fairly late offshoot of Indian Mahayana Buddhism, is very close to Hinduism in most respects, starting with its elaborate ritualism.  But in Japanese Buddhism too, we find many practices that are not traditionally Japanese nor Buddhist in the strictest sense, but that have been carried along by Buddhism as a part of its Hindu heritage, e.g. the fire ceremony of the Shingon sect which, like the Vedic sacrifice, is called ?feeding the Gods?.40
(Kankiten is central to Shingon sect)

Indeed, Mahayana itself marks a major step back towards Hinduism, not just because of its adoption of externals like the Sanskrit language and devotional rituals to a legion of divine beings, but in its basic spirit: it aims beyond the monk?s individual salvation (the concern of Theravada Buddhism as of Jainism) to universal salvation for all monks, laymen and other beings, thereby restoring the central Hindu value of responsibility for the world.41 <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->I don't know about all that monk stuff.

But that Buddhist forum did mention some other similarity with Hinduism. A "Dragon King Puja" (there was use of the word Homam I think), which apparently is part of Japanese, Indonesian and Chinese Buddhist tradition. I think Raju (was it) will be happy to know that in this instance they were definitely referring to "Nagaraja".

From here:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I think the puja you are talking about is an ofering to the nagas. <b>Dragons and nagas are not exactly the same thing, but they are both called "ru" or "lu" in Chinese.</b>

Yes, the offering puja to the Nagaraja (king of nagas [or dragon]) is a real practice in Vajrayana.

Often it is made with the vase going into the sea like you said.

Although I don't have any information about the particular monk you mention, so I couldn't say if he holds an authentic lineage or not. Maybe someone else can confirm whether or not this monk holds a lineage of true teachings.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Anyways, next time a psecular tells you how Buddhism is so "fundamentally different", there's all this proof that it's actually not (well, when it comes to Mahayana Buddhism, anyways - going by classmates' home traditions). Not that we didn't already know that Dharmic religions are similar, but Indian christos and their hirelings like to go on about how Buddhism is more like christianism <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Offshoot from the posts on Emperor Julian in the christianism subversion thread-4 (part of its post 122).

But felt the following belonged here since it is about Gods of Natural Traditions.

On Julian's religion - I think the following blockquote is from http://www.christianism.com. Julian's Ishtadevam was Helios (Greek name of the Greco-Roman sun-God, I think he's called Sol in Latin):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The proclamation of Julian the Apostate (331-363 A.D.) suddenly inaugurated an unexpected turn in affairs. A philosopher, seated on the throne by the armies of Gaul, <b>Julian had cherished from childhood a secret devotion for Helios. He was firmly convinced that this god had rescued him from the perils that menaced his youth; he believed that he was entrusted by him with a divine mission, and regarded himself as his servitor, or rather as his spiritual son.</b> He dedicated to this celestial "king" a discourse in which the ardor of his faith transforms in places a cold theological dissertation into an inflamed dithyrambic, and <b>the fervor of his devotion for the star that he worshipped never waned to the moment of his death.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Real Gods have such an effect...

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->'After Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337 (280? - 337)], the Roman Empire became increasingly Christianized under successive, ever more intolerant, Christian Emperors—that is, apart from a brief spell under Julian (360-3), who tried to reinstate Paganism.193 He was himself a Platonic philosopher noted for his humility who wrote a beautiful hymn to the One God and was an initiate of the Mysteries of Mithras and Dionysus. He proclaimed toleration for all religions194 and even attempted to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem but, much to the delight of the anti-Semitic Christian Church, he never succeeded.195 Julian's Pagan renaissance was short-lived and after it Christianity was reinstated and enforced with even greater vehemence.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Julian wrote the following Hymn:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->["The Oration ["Hymn to King Helios"] is dedicated to his friend and comrade in arms Sallust". Sallust c. 360 wrote (Pagan Classic!): On the Gods and the World. 'Cumont calls this "the official catechism of the Pagan empire".' (351)].

<b>'Hymn to King Helios</b>
Dedicated to Sallust
What I am now about to say I consider to be of the greatest importance for all things "That breathe and move upon the earth," and have a share in existence and a reasoning soul1 and intelligence, but above all others it is of importance to myself. <b>For I am a follower of King Helios. ....from my childhood an extraordinary longing for the rays of the god penetrated deep into my soul;</b> and from my earliest years my mind was so completely swayed by the light that illumines the heavens that not only did I desire to gaze intently at the sun, but whenever I walked abroad in the night season, when the firmament was clear and cloudless, I abandoned all else without exception and gave myself up to the beauties of the heavens; nor did I understand what anyone might say to me, nor heed what I was doing myself.' [353].<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->The bold bit above is similar to what Hindu Surya Bhaktas feel as well (like my sister). Hindus therefore can tell that Julian is sincere.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The philosopher Julian [331 - 363 (Emperor 361 - 363)] observes—"We celebrate some days before the first day of the year with magnificent sports, in honour of the invincible God, Mithra or the Sun. May we long have the happiness to celebrate thy appearance, O Sun, king of the universe!" This expression is after the manner of Plato, who calls the Sun, the "Son of God;" and we are informed that all the monuments raised by the Persians to their great Divinity, have these words inscribed on them "To the God Sun, the invincible Mithra."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I also found the following. Though it's not entirely on topic, it is useful as general info on the unconverted Romans. Christohistory always tries to present them as "immoral" or as uniformly promiscuous. They were not.

A part of Roman society was getting obsessed with phalluses and the more extreme obsessions with sex that sprung up around the social changes caused by some cults. From watching a documentary on some Romans' growing obsession with this, I know they kept objects immediately identifiable as phalluses and not mistakeable as anything else (that is, they were not symbolic abstract shaped objects that were perceived by other populations as phalluses), just like Tibetan (or was it Burmese or Bhutanese?) houses have drawings of what are <i>distinctly</i> male sexual organs drawn on the external walls of their homes possibly to promote increased chance of conception - I think it is the doco-series "Himalaya" by Michael Palin which has video footage of these traditional houses in the mountains.

Anyways, the less-materialistic part of the Pagan Roman world wasn't quite pleased with the societal subversions brought on by the sex-cults in the Empire. I've stored the following text as being from Joseph McCabe:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Let us say at once that Christianity, when it got the power, abolished all public manifestations of a phallic cult. That was of the very essence of its message. On its ethical side it was part of the reaction, felt throughout the Greco-Roman world, against the cult of sex. Apollonius of Tyana, Plutarch, Dion Chrysostom, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Julian, Seneca -- the world was full of moralists and ascetics denouncing these things. The religions of Mithra, Serapis, and Manichaeus, and the philosophies of the Platonists and Neo-Platonists, the Stoics, and the Epicureans, were all trying to abolish them; and with more success than Christianity until the church got and used political power.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->But unlike scary christianism, these Pagans did not think that sex was a sin or whatever. They just didn't like the irresponsible and aloof promiscuity promoted by the cults and thought that the heightened preoccupation with it was becoming unhealthy for individuals and society. (The Pagan Romans listed above were philosophers and/or natural traditionalists and at least some of them like Julian and possibly Aurelius had wives; I don't know about the rest. In any case it was not because of any aversion they had to sex that made them ban the weird sex-cults.)

And as a tangential inference, I will conclude that perhaps Indian Dharmics were - like Julian and the others mentioned above - not "prudish" either (as they have sometimes been accused of being). Just because people do not appreciate an over-obsession doesn't mean they disapprove of sex itself.
Julian was a great man indeed. What makes him even greater was that he was raised an Xtian, but found his way out of that darkness by himself through study of the Classics. Like a true polytheist, he sacrificed to Hermes, Sybille, Ares, Zeus, Helios. He unabashedly declared his faithfulness to a multitude of gods, unlike many weak, modern Hindus who willfully ascertain that Hindus are indeed Monotheist. As if it's going to make them appear any less criminal in the eyes of the Abrahamics.

Anyway, heres something nice -
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (July 4, 1924 – December 23, 1993)[1], a native of Iceland, was instrumental in helping to gain recognition by the Icelandic government for the pre-Christian Norse religion. The Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið ("Icelandic fellowship of Æsir faith"), which he founded, and for which he acted as goði (priest), was officially recognised as a religious body in 1972.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Asatru in Iceland

Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson
<!--QuoteBegin-Pandyan+Jun 8 2008, 02:19 PM-->QUOTE(Pandyan @ Jun 8 2008, 02:19 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Julian was a great man indeed. What makes him even greater was that he was raised an Xtian, but found his way out of that darkness by himself through study of the Classics. Like a true polytheist, he sacrificed to Hermes, Sybille, Ares, Zeus, Helios. He unabashedly declared his faithfulness to a multitude of gods, unlike many weak, modern Hindus who willfully ascertain that Hindus are indeed Monotheist. As if it's going to make them appear any less criminal in the eyes of the Abrahamics.[right][snapback]82499[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->I agree with most of what you say. The only difference is in the phrasing though. We're not actually monopolytheists - that is, we've never been either/any of monotheists or polytheists. Our ancestors wouldn't even understand what that christodialogue entails. But because we have been exposed to christoislamism for so long, we not only understand what all that means, we even start looking at our beliefs and try to squash our traditions into that restrictive box.

But in reality, we don't declare we have "One God And Not Many" or "Many Gods But Not One". As Hindus, we may conceive of God as One or we may conceive of our Gods as Many or we may at times choose to swap from one frame of mind into another. The underlying reality does not change.

This has always been the Hindu view: many of us view Gods as Many while many others view say Vishnu or Shiva as Everything. The Lingayats and some other Shaiva traditions view Shakthi as an emanation of Shiva. At the same time, still according to Hindu traditions, from the Goddess emanated all the Devas and Asuras. Some other equally traditional Hindu communities have <i>n</i> somewhat distinct Major Gods who can all be considered Brahman (in TN some list this as Shiva, Devi, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Ganapathi, Murugan, Suryan - am I forgetting anyone) and an infinite number of <i>m</i> other Gods who are more specific manifestations of the same. But that is Hinduism for you. All of these and more are all very traditional beliefs, but which confused the christoBritish so much that they could not but help class each as this sect or that sect, this or that school of thought. In reality, as we know, we are part of the same Hindu Dharma. Whether we choose to abstract our Gods into Infinity, One or any other convenient Number in between is at our discretion.

We are not alone in this. The traditional Hellenes (see the awesome FAQ at ysee.gr) don't fixate on mono- or polytheism either. IIRC the Ysee.gr says that they view Divinity in their sacred number of 12: 6 Gods + 6 Goddesses, that their infinite Kosmos is represented by 12. But Kosmos is infinite and one as well, and so they could have more or less. And they do have a greater number of Gods depending on which Gods they count as the major ones. Off the top of my head I can think of some more where my calc comes to 6 Goddesses and 9 Gods (Zeus, Hera, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Helios, Hermes, Hades, Persephone, Pan, Demeter, Aphrodite, Vulcanus whose Greek name escapes me now, Eros/Cupid). Yet at the same time, Zeus has also been considered the origin of all, the One.

Anyways, I will paste the answer of the knowledgeable Hellenes at ysee.gr:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>How many Gods do you have, twelve?</b>
The Gods as infinite expressions of Unity are naturally multiple and most certainly exceed twelve in number. However, our religion confines itself to a complete and harmonious symbolic Pantheon of six Gods and six Goddesses. This Pantheon expresses a perfect, divine quintessence (the number 12 symbolizes completeness and perfection) that fulfils and bonds the Cosmos. It is also symbolized by the 'most perfect' of the famous Pythagorean canonical polyhedral, the dodecahedron.

<b>Are you therefore Polytheists?</b>
We can answer in the affirmative, but should first reiterate that the terms 'monotheism', 'polytheism' etc are used only as conventions, as in reality the monotheists invented these terms to distinguish themselves from normal humanity. Since humanity never doubted the multiplicity of the Universe, we use 'polytheism' simply to contrast ourselves from the so-called 'monotheists'.

Unity cannot exist without the presupposition of the 'many'. The term is misleading because it has nothing to do with the number of Gods per se, but rather the placing of the Creative Cause outside the Cosmos, which in turn implies its creation from naught (a completely unscientific thesis). Monotheists believe that the laws governing the Universe emanate from the only external, eternal being. This justifies the 'Creator's' right to act autocratically towards 'his' own creation, which has a beginning and will die at some time, as per 'his' desire.

In contrast, the ethnic polytheistic religions assert that the living Cosmos has emanated from within itself and is eternal. There is no external 'Cause' that created all from nothing. The Gods are self-reliant and conscious forces, who are multiple expressions of Unity, emanate from within it and serve its perpetual path.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->I thoroughly admire these Greeks, they obviously know about and care for their ancient traditions. They are not blinkered by christian dialogues on monopolytheism.

Going by the excerpts in my #14 and your post #15, Julian seems to have seen the many Greco-Roman Gods (and Persian Mithra) as manifestations of his Ishtadevam Helios and also as distinct manifestations. As Hindus we immediately understand what this means, but christos won't get it and will immediately be trying to squeeze him into one of the Mono or Poly boxes.

Like us and the Hellenes of ysee.gr above, Japan also does not seem to fix a number either. They have infinite Gods - Kamis - (and also a great many spiritual entities) and yet also view the same Divinity as one KamiSama.

The traditional Asatruar of Iceland - where there has been an unbroken tradition of their beliefs - do have many Gods. At least, I don't think the traditional followers ever thought of their religion as having one sole God, even though their individuals would choose an Ishtadevam or two.

<i>Modern</i> followers who have returned to Asatru (that is, individuals who don't have an unbroken tradition passed down by their ancestors to them, but have started afresh after leaving christianism) or modern followers of other "polytheistic" religions however seem to want to distinguish between mono and polytheists. They even have started distinguishing between the types of polytheists: they describe Hindus as "soft polytheists" and "not real polytheists" (apparently because we can contract our Gods to One God) and themselves as "hard polytheists". At other times some even say that Hindus are undecided as to whether we have many or one or that we have changed over time or something. To make all these distinctions is sad and unnecessary really as it is only perpetuating the weird dialogue of christianism.
But I don't think these terms (hard/soft polytheists or monotheists) actually make any sense for Natural Traditions at all. Hindus are not confused as to what we are. We are just not uniform: either when comparing between two Hindu individuals or comparing the same individual in different times of his/her life.

Also, what about Zoroastrians? They have one prime God. What will the proud polytheists say of them? Or about the beliefs of the Yoruba in Africa (who have One God) or of the native Americans of NA and their Great Spirit?
It is meaningless from the Hindu POV to have discussions on whether polytheism is better than monotheism or monotheism is better than polytheism, or whether one is true and the other false. This is an alien topic that is actually unintelligible and irrelevant in the Hindu view of the world.

Personally, I like to view the Gods as many and distinct, because I appreciate the many individual aspects each God has manifested in the Hindu world. That is why there are the many different ancient temples built in places where the Gods appeared in their different forms to do various great things for humanity. I find that this diversity makes me very happy and of course I like how Divinity in our ancient Hindu Tradition is represented as a family as well. I also like knowing that the same Gods at times appeared in combined manifestations as well (ShankaraNarayanan, Sri Ardhanareeshwarar, Gayatri, Dattatreyar, Trimurthi, etcetera).
<b>Film: Kirikou and the Sorceress ("Kirikou et la sorciere" I think)</b>

French animation based on an East African traditional narrative. Very beautiful, with very beautiful characters (I'm not just talking about the character designs, but the personalities as well). And traditional.
Inspiring and will promote intelligence, kindness and heroism in adults and kids. Nice also to see African faces in animations, and characters of all ages too. And of course it has a lovely heroic and romantic storyline.

Meanwhile, apparently Disney is coming out with a story about an African-American princess. They skipped African people (even though they did an African setting at least twice: Lion King about African lions and Tarzan about a British man and his Gorilla family.)

This new African-American princess is placed in the "jazz age".... (I didn't know there was royalty in the US let alone any African-American kind). And the Jazz 'age'? Wasn't the jazz period the times when African-Americans were only to be seen and heard - heard singing and playing instruments for the amusement of the settler population - but they were stictly <i>not</i> to be associated with? You'd always have these clubs where Africans were performers and American settlers would be dancing or lounging, yet while Africans were allowed to <i>perform</i>, they weren't allowed in as part of the <i>audience</i> <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> Christologic: always made to play the servants, in this case, their role was to entertain with their superb music.

Maybe the Disney cartoon will conveniently skim past the racism of that time and pretend the rest of the nasty stuff back then never happened (US is good at falsifying its history). Is it supposed to make little African-American girls feel better to imagine things were better when reality wasn't.

But what would really make the kids/adults feel good is <b>Kirikou</b>. Recommended! It's been dubbed in English as well.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson

He recites some hymn from Havamal:


Thirty-four-year-old Anahita Hakim is one such mother of twin girls — Katrina and Karina. "For the last five years, I wanted children. I had even thought of adopting children before I came to Dr Pandole who helped me have Katrina and Karina," says Hakim, 34.

The fertility treatment did not come cheap and Hakim had to spend between Rs 6 and 7 lakh. The initial consultation was free and the treatment tab was picked by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. For those who cannot pay, donors within the community pay for the fertility treatment.

Pandole's project is part of United Nations-backed project called Parzor, which is headquartered in New Delhi. The Parzor project, since 1999, has undertaken research in various fields, working towards the promotion and preservation of the Parsi Zoroastrian heritage.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Roman temple found under church</b>

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a Roman temple beneath the foundations of a church.

The building, which dates to the second century AD, was found during an excavation at Zippori, the capital of Galilee during the Roman period.

The temple walls were plundered in ancient times and little more than its foundations now remain. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

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