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RLGA01H3 Lecture Notes - Prehistoric Religion, Axis Mundi, Taoism

Course Code
Henry Shiu

of 5
Religion Lecture # 1
Wednesday September 9th 2013
Eastern traditions
Ten Waves of Religion (read about these from textbook)
1. Shamanism (were like fortune tellers in a primitive society, had special skills, and
sometimes consulted as medical doctors as well, offered healing powers to the people.
Also in western societies as well, can see images of these in the bible as well)
Textbook notes
-Shaman comes from Asian culture
- someone who acts as a intermediary between humans and the spirit world
-humans believed that the spirits of the animals they hunted had to be appeased and therefore a special
ritual might be performed to mark the first goose kill of the season, i hope that other geese would not
be scared of the hunting grounds
-these rituals reflect humans concern over food supply
-from ancient times it seems that humans believed in the spirit- life after death or animal killed for food
2. Connecting to the Cosmos (Neolithic Religion)
Textbook notes
-inspired building of structures like the Stonehenge
-Neolithic (new rock era) created areas by putting together huge stone in complex patterns .... reason
could be political (leader wants to demonstrate power over people) or had to do w/ religion, (need for
public space for rituals)
-people of this era paid careful attention to the phases of the moon and the rising positions of certain
-artificial hills were made where there were no hills to bury people ex. pyramids of Egypt
-link between earth and sky= axis mundi (world axis)
-Neolithic religion associated certain animals w/ specific deities
-association of the bull w/ God
3. Temple Religion (professionals that tried to help people to achieve their religious goals,
they built temples not only for their religious beliefs but to sustain their life. More like
an institutionalized view of religion)
Textbook Notes
-brought larger temples
-more elaborate sacrificed rituals
-development of priestly class endowed w/ unusual power, prestige and wealth
-played a huge role in shaping many tradition (Judaism, Chinese religion, Hinduism) beginning roughly
3000 years ago
4. Prophetic Religion
5. The energy of God
6. Purity and Monasticism: the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment through physical self
discipline, was formed in India, and was wrong to harm any kind of creature
7. Mystery Religion
8. God on Earth
9. Scriptural religion (
10. fundamentalism
"Hinduism is the dominant religion of India"- factual statement but problematic b/c of the three major
components of the statement: Hinduism, religion and India ....
2) each one of them suggests uniformity and consistency that does not actually exist
- when we study the religious traditions of the East we must accustom ourselves to: diversity,
discontinuity and difference
- the world "Hindu" and hence "Hinduism" are of the Persian origin from around the 12th century CE.
- term itself is rendered quite meaningless.
-sanatana dharma= eternal law (eternal duty until they obtain leadership after their life, believed in
karma and reincarnation) (closest term to religion in Hinduism)
-most Hindus see themselves as devotees of a particular God or goddess, such as Siva or Visnu
- they are free to chose any god or goddess they wanted to
- depending on your karma, personality or character there is always one God that is suitable for you to
-dancing siva on lecture slide
-"tilaks" = forehead markings (shows loyalty to your partner)
- the world religion derives from the Latin word "Religio"
- the word religion is just as meaningless as the world Hinduism because it covers such a wide variety of
- in India religion takes deeper route, everything can be under the influence of your particular religion
view. Ex. what to eat, what you wear
-throughout the 19th century the western colonial rulers and the Christian missioners took on a mission
to try to understand the religious practices of India from a western perspective.
-if you wish to understand religious practices in India you cannot from a western perspective
outsider vs. insider- outsiders observe religions, whereas insiders know things that the outsiders
will never know. On the other hand the outsiders know things that the insiders cannot know.
Muslims: 100 million
Sikhs: 20 million
Christians: 20 million
Buddhists: 3-4 million
Jains: 2 million
Zoroastrianism: a few hundred thousand
-Indus Valley Civilization: completely lost and was not until the 1950s where archaeologist ...