ASIAN112L Umass Boston Asian Religion Short Response The first part of this (approximately 250 words) should address the following questions: Why are you t

ASIAN112L Umass Boston Asian Religion Short Response The first part of this (approximately 250 words) should address the following questions: Why are you taking this course? What are you most keen to learn about? What background do you have in Asian Studies, or in the academic study of religion, if any? If you are comfortable talking about this, what is your own relationship to religion? Part 2 (approximately 250 words) should discuss your reactions, points of interest, questions, etc. after reading chapter 1 of the textbook (World Religions, pp. 3–27).Part 1 I took ASIAN 271L Religion and the Art which study about famous art that have religious meaning behind and different religions, ASIAN 115L Survey of Contemporary Asia talk about the south asia history and their religions also. My religion is buddism. World Religions: Eastern Traditions
In this chapter you will learn about:
• The uncertainty of interpreting ancient rituals, such as those conducted at Harappa
• Some basic characteristics of human religion
from ancient times
• A number of patterns that can be observed in
more than one religious tradition
• Various theories of why humans are religious
• Various methods used for studying religions
• Some reasons for studying religion
This volume focuses on the several religions that
arose in and continue to be important in South,
Southeast, and East Asia, ranging from India to
Japan. In the modern era the Asian traditions have
spread well beyond the continent through migration or missionary conversions. Christianity and
Islam are also widespread in Asia but are discussed
in this book ‘s companion volume, World Religions:
Western Traditions, which deals mainly with the religions that arose in the Middle East and have spread
to the West and elsewhere.
This volume’s title, Eastern Traditions , uses the
term “traditions” in the plural because the religions
of this part of the world, such as Buddhism or Hinduism, have several subdivisions. For example, Buddhism includes three main divisions, called vehicles,
and those divisions have their own subdivisions.
most of eastern India, making it the largest of the
civilizations of its era. We know a lot about its careful
town planning, sewer system, sources of food, extensive bead jewelry industry, and use of seals, usually
made of clay, but we do not yet know anything definitive about the language or religious culture of its
population. The pictographic writing characters on
its seals are our only clue to its language, but we still
have not been able to decipher them.
The Harappan religion remains obscure as well,
so scholars must rely on speculative interpretations.
Some speculate that the remains of the Great Bath
at Harappa suggest that a religious structure was located there. Perhaps the bath served as a place for
purification before worshiping, along the lines of the
“temple tanks” of later Hinduism, or perhaps it was
an ancient version of some of the historic temples
of southern India in which young women dedicated
to the goddess performed mating rituals with males
representing male deities. A different interpretation
would be that the bath served as a brothel imbued
with religious ritual meaning.
0 Basic Human Religion:
Looking Both Ways from
Harappa is an archaeological site in the Punjab (Five
River) region of modern Pakistan. It is named after
a nearby village, and we do not know what name its
ancient inhabitants gave it. The Harappan culture,
as described in the Hindu Traditions chapter, was
named after this site. Also known as the Indus Valley
civilization, the Harappan culture survived for millennia (from before 2600 BCE through 1600 BCE).
It extended over much of what is now Pakistan and
–< A seal from the Harappan culture depicts a ritual scene. with a priest figure bowing before a tree spirit as part of a sacrifice. accompanied by seven attendants. Great bath or swimming pool. Mohenjo-daro. Sindh , Pakistan (De Agostini/W. Buss) I Studying Eastern Religions Sites Pashupatinath Temple Area, Kathmandu, Nepal The Pashupatinath temple area in Kathmandu, Nepal, includes not only a main temple to Shiva, but also a cremation area , several smaller shrines, a large hospice where near-death Hindus can reside so they can die in this holy place, and a complex of caves and huts serving as homes for holy men. Only the holy men can go into the caves, and access to the temple building is limited to Hindus , but the rest of the vast complex is open to all. Hindu priests. dressed in various garb according to their sect. pose for tourists and Hindu pilgrims visiting the sacred Pashupatinath (Shiva) temple on the bank of the Bagnati River in Kathmandu . Nepal. After posing for pictures. the priests expect to receive some money. World Rel igio ns: Eastern Traditions Several seals from the Harappan culture's cities seem to depict religious rituals. One seal pictures an elaborate rite likely performed in the context of a festival. A horned male appears to be kneeling before a spirit or god in a pipal tree. Horns are associated with a male deity in several ancient cultures, so a good guess is that this figure is a human wearing a horned headdress to symbolize his function as a priest or shaman. We can discern that the tree is the species known in India as a pipal because of the characteristic shape of its sharply pointed leaves. The pipal tree is a species of fig tree that grows very tall and lives for centuries. Pipal trees are still considered sacred by Hindus. They are also especially revered in Buddhism as the Bodhi tree , the kind of tree under which the Buddha is said to have sat on the night of his enlightenment (Bodhi). The figure inside the tree has a humanlike body, but with hooves characteristic of a goat or other animal. His arms are similar to a human's except that they have plant-like features from the shoulder down to the pincher-like hands-or perhaps the hands are actually animal feet. The elaborate headdress has water buffalo-like horns and what looks like long, braided hair with plant rings like those of the arms. We can only wonder about what this deity composed of human, animal, and plant features meant to its Harappan worshipers. Did this tree spirit symbolize the power of fertility in nature? We do know that the veneration of tree spirits was a feature of later Indian religion. Whatever the name and nature of the god in the tree , we can discern that it is the center of attention in this ritual. Perhaps the attending priest is about to offer the bovine animal behind him as a sacrifice to the god . There is some object on a short stand in front of the priest figure that some have interpreted as a sacrificial human head. The seven mysterious figures in the foreground also seem to combine human, animal, and plant features similar to those of the tree god. This suggests that they also represent spirits, or else attending priests dressed like spirits. Some scholars have interpreted them as representing the seven stars of an asterism, perhaps the "Seven Sisters" of the Pleiades constellation. We know that later Hinduism A seal presumably depicting a ritual sacrifice of a water buffalo performed in the presence of a god associated with the pipal tree. I Studying Eastern Religions made numerous associations between its deities and heavenly objects such as the visible planets and prominent constellations. 9 Looking Back from Harappa There are a few concepts, shared by virtually all human cultures, that seem fundamental to what we call religion: powerful gods, sacred places, a life of some kind after death, and the presence in the physical world of spirits that interact with humans in various ways. These concepts are so old and so widespread that no one can say where or when they first emerged. Three Worlds Historically, it seems that humans around the globe have imagined the world to consist of three levelssky, earth, and underworld. The uppermost level, the sky, has typically been considered the home of the greatest deities. Exactly how this concept developed is impossible to know, but we can guess that the awesome power of storms was one contributing factor. The apparent movement of the sun, the stars, and the planets across the sky was very likely another. Observing the varying patterns could well have led early humans to believe that the heavenly bodies were living entities animated by their own individual spirits-in effect, gods and goddesses. The very highest level, located in the heavens above the clouds and stars, was thought to be the • home of the highest deity, typically referred to by a name such as Sky Father, Creator, or King of Heaven. This deity-invariably male-was the forerunner of the god of the monotheistic religions. Under the earth the spirits of serpents (surviving as the cobras, or nagas, in the religions of India) or reptilian monsters (surviving in dragon lore) were thought to dwell; perhaps because they were associated with dark and hidden places, they were usually imagined as evil. Finally, between the sky and the underworld lay the earth: the intermediate level where humans lived. Sacred Places Around the world, there are certain types of places where humans tend to feel they are in the presence of some unusual energy or power. Such places are regarded as set apart from the everyday world and are treated with special respect. Among those places, often described as "sacred," meaning "set aside," are mountains and hilltops-the places closest to the sky-dwelling deities. In the ancient Middle East, for instance, worship was often conducted at ritual centers known simply as high places. People gathered at these sites to win the favor of the deities by offering them food, drink, praise, and prayer. One widely known example is the altar area on the cliff above the ancient city of Petra in Jordan (familiar to many people from the Indiana]ones films). Great rivers and waterfalls are often regarded as sacred as well. And in Japan virtually every feature of the natural landscape-from great mountains and waterfalls to trees and stones-was traditionally believed to be animated by its own god or spirit (kami). Animal Spirits Another common and long-standing human tendency has been to att.ribute spirits to animals, either individually or as members of a family with a kind of collective guardian spirit. For this reason, traditional hunting societies have typically sought to ensure that the animals they kill for food are treated with the proper respect, lest other members of those species be frightened away or refuse to let themselves be caught. In addition, body parts from the most impressive animals-such as bulls, bears, lions, or eagleshave often been used as "power objects" to help humans make contact with the spirits of these animals. People in many cultures have attributed magical properties to objects such as bear claws or eagle feathers, wearing them as amulets or hanging them in the doorways of their homes as protection against evil spirits. World Religions: Eastern Traditions Death and Burial A seal from the Harappan culture depicts a ritual killing of a bull in the presence of the tree god. depicted above. From ancient times, humans have taken great care with the burial of their dead. The body might be positioned with the head facing east, the "first direction," where the sun rises, or placed in the fetal position, suggesting a hope for rebirth into a different realm. These burial positions in themselves would not be enough to prove a belief in an afterlife; however, most such graves have also contained, along with the remains of the dead, "grave goods" of various kinds. Some of these provisions for the afterlife likely belonged to the person in life, while some appear to be specially made replicas, and some are rare, presumably costly items such as precious stones. Apparently the living were willing to sacrifice important resources to help the dead in the afterlife. The belief that deceased ancestors can play a role in guiding the living members of their families appears to be especially widespread. Traditions such as the Japanese Obon, the Mexican Day of the Dead, In Japan the return of the souls of the dead is celebrated at the Obon festival. I Studying Eastern Religions and the Christian All Saints Day and Hallowe'en all reflect the belief that the souls of the dead return to earth once a year to share a ritual meal with the living. Why Are Humans Religious? The reasons behind human religiosity are complex and varied. All we can say with any certainty is that religion seems to grow out of human experiences: out of the fear of death, which religion transforms into the hope for a good afterlife, and out of the uncertainty surrounding natural events, which becomes a sense of control over nature through the intervention of a priest capable of predicting the change of seasons and the movement of the planets. Religion emerges through the experience of good or bad powers that are sensed in dreams, in sacred spaces, and in certain humans and animals. Religion has many emotional dimensions, including fear, awe, love, and hate. But it also has intellectual dimensions, including curiosity about what causes things to happen, the recognition of a sense of order in the universe that suggests the presence of a creator, and the drive to make sense out of human experience. The nature of religious belief and practice has changed through the centuries, so we must be careful not to take the religion of any particular time and place as the norm. What we can safely say is that religion is such an ancient aspect of human experience that it has become part of human nature. For this reason some scholars have given our species, Homo sapiens, a second name: Homo religiosus. e Looking Forward from Harappa Looking forward from ancient Harappa, we can see a number of patterns emerge in different parts of the world, some of them almost simultaneously. Since most of the chapters in this book focus on individual religions, it may be useful to begin with a broader perspective. What follows is a brief overview of some of the major developments in the history of what the late Canadian scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916-2000) called "religion in the singular," meaning the history of human religiosity in the most general sense. Shamanism One very early pattern of human religiosity involves a ritual specialist-in essence, a kind of priest-that we know today as a shaman. The word "shaman" comes from a specific central Asian culture, but it has become the generic term for a person who acts as an intermediary between humans and the spirit world. Other terms include "medicine man," "soul doctor," and "witchdoctor." Shamans are still active in a number of cultures today. The way they operate varies, but certain patterns seem to be almost universal, which in itself suggests that the way of the shaman is very ancient. Sometimes the child of a shaman will follow in the parent's footsteps, but more often a shaman will be "called" to the role by his or her psychic abilities, as manifested in some extraordinary vision or revelation, or perhaps a near-death experience. Candidates for the role of shaman face a long and rigorous apprenticeship that often includes a vision quest, in the course of which they are likely to confront terrifying apparitions. Typically the quester will acquire a guiding spirit, sometimes the spirit of a particular animal (perhaps a bear or an eagle, whose claws or feathers the shaman may wear to draw strength from its special powers) and sometimes a more humanlike spirit (a god or goddess). That spirit will then often continue to serve as a guide and protector throughout the shaman's life. To communicate with the spirit world, the shaman enters a trance state (often induced by rhythmic chanting or drumming). According to Mircea Eliade in his classic Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1964 [1951]), contact is then made in one of two ways. In the first , described as "ecstatic" (from a Greek root meaning "to stand outside"), the shaman's soul leaves his or her body (which may appear lifeless) and travels to the realm where the spirits live. In the second, the shaman calls the spirit into World Religions: Eastern Traditions Hunting Rituals This picture. taken on August 13 . 2016. shows professional shaman La Thi Tam performing a "Len Dong" dance at a temple in Hanoi. The Len Dong dance is said to cure prolonged illness. spiritual possession. and stress over family troubles. The ancient practice-previously restricted by colonial French and Vietnamese authorities-is enjoying a renaissance in the communist nation as officials ease constraints against it. his or her own body and is possessed by it; in such cases the shaman may take on the voice and personality of the spirit or mimic its way of moving. In either case, after regaining normal consciousness the shaman announces what he or she has learned about the problem at hand and what should be done about it. Typically, the problem is traced to the anger of a particular spirit; the shaman then explains the reason for that anger and what must be done to appease the spirit. In most cases the appropriate response is to perform a ritual sacrifice of some kind. Many ancient cave drawings depict hunting scenes in which a human figure seems to be performing a dance of some kind. Based on what we know of later hunting societies, we can guess that the figure is a shaman performing a ritual either to ensure a successful hunt or to appease the spirits of the animals killed. It's not hard to imagine why such societies would have sought ways to influence the outcome of a hunt. Indeed, it seems that the more dangerous the endeavor, the more likely humans were to surround it with rituals. As the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski pointed out in his book Magic, Science and Religion (1948), the Trobriand Islanders he studied did not perform any special ceremonies before fishing in the lagoon, but they never failed to perform rituals before setting out to fish in the open ocean. This suggests that religious behavior is, at least in part, a way of coping with dangerous situations. In addition, .though, as we have seen, early humans believed that the spirits of the animals they hunted had to be appeased. Thus a special ritual might be performed to mark the first goose kill of the season, in the hope that other geese would not be frightened away from the hunting grounds. Such rituals reflect humans' concern over the future food supply, but they also reveal something about the nature of human belief in spirits. From very ancient times, it seems, humans have believed that the spirit- whether of an animal killed for food or of a human being-survives death and can communicate with others of its kind. Coping with Unfriendly Spirits The spirits associated with natural phenomenawhether animals or storms, mountains or rivershave typically been thought to behave toward humans in the same ways that humans behave toward one another. Strategies for dealing with unfriendly spirits have therefore usually been based on what has worked with humans. Many cultures have believed wild, uninhabited areas to be guarded by resident spirits. In some cases, these spirits have taken the form of monsters I Studying Eastern Religions or mythical beasts; in others, such as the folklore of Scandinavia, they have assumed the guise of "little people" such as trolls. In ancient times, unfriendly spirits were of particular concern to those who ventured into the forest as hunters or gatherers, but they were not confined to the wilderness. Pain and disease of all kindsfrom toothache to appendicitis to mental illnesswere also attributed to possession by malevolent spirits or demons. In Sri Lanka, those suffering from certain illnesses were advised to have a shaman sacrifice a chicken as an offering to the "graveyard demon," effectively bribing him to go away; in such cases a second chicken, still alive, would be given to the shaman who performed the ritual. Another approach was to frighten the demon away, either by threatening to invoke another, stronger spiritual power, such as the spirit guide of the shaman, to drive him off, or by making threatening gestures or loud noises. The firecrackers still used in some East Asian rituals are examples of the latter approach. Connecting to the Cosmos Asecond pattern that emerged as religion developed across the globe is the one that inspired the building of structures like Stonehenge. People of the Neolithic ("new rock") era went to extraordinary lengths to create sacred areas by assembling huge stones in complex patterns. In some cases the motivation may have... Purchase answer to see full attachment

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