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Chapter 2 Animism

The term animism is derived from the Latin word anima meaning breath or soul. The belief of animism is probably one of man's oldest beliefs, with its origin most likely dating to the Paleolithic age. From its earliest beginnings it was a belief that a soul or spirit existed in every object, even if it was inanimate. In a future state this soul or spirit would exist as part of an immaterial soul. The spirit, therefore, was thought to be universal. There has been sharp divisions of thought as to the original concept of animism held by primitive peoples. An British anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor in his "Primitive Culture" (1871) defined animism "as a general belief in spiritual beings and considered it 'a minimum definition of religion.'" He stated all religions from the simplest to the most complexed shared some sort of animistic belief. According to him primitive peoples, defined as those without a written tradition, believed the spirits or souls caused life in human beings. They pictured these souls as vapors or shadows going from one body to another. The souls not only passed between human beings but into, plants, animals and inanimate objects as well. Tylor reasoned primitive man arrived at his animistic belief to help him explain the causes of sleep, dreams, and death. There naturally aroused a need to distinguish between an individual who was awake and one who was asleep, or an individual who lived and one who did not. Also there was a need to give a reason for the pictures some saw when they slept. The spirits were the early man's explanations. Tylor was criticized by another British anthropologist Robert Ranulph Marett (18661943) who was convinced that primitive man had not developed the intellectual to form even such simplistic explanations as Tylor proposed. Marett suggested early religion was more emotional and intuitional in origin. He theorized that early man recognized some inanimate objects because they had some particular characteristic or behaved in some unusual way which mysteriously made them seem alive. He believed early man treated all animate objects as having a life and will of their own, but they never distinguished the soul as separate from the body, and could enter or leave the body. Marett conceded early man possessed the belief of animism, but it developed from the idea that some objects seemed to be alive like man. It is insignificant how men and women gained the belief that a spirit or soul resides in all objects it is historically evident that they did. Trees and plants were worshiped as totems or because of their usefulness and beauty. In many cultures certain trees and plants have been feared. In some ancient cultures "trees were generally regarded as maternal deities or forest spirits, to be respected even when their lives were sacrificed for human use (pagan woodcutters never felled a tree without first begging its

forgiveness). Female tree spirits live on in myth and folklore as dryads, the Greek version of the tree-worshiping druid priestesses." Plants and trees have been considered sacred by themselves because, as some have thought, they are home to certain spirits. Both the soma plant of India and the coca shrub of Peru are worshiped for the intoxicating properties of the products made from them. Field crops, thought to harbor spirits of infertility, has been honored by ancient tribesmen and peasants throughout Europe. Traces of these cults can still be found. The above describes nature worshipers among which many occultists are numbered. They view life as being in everything, and everything, even man, supporting life. Life is sacred -- all life. "One of the foremost characteristics of Neo-Paganism (or occultism) is the return to the ancient idea that there is no distinction between the spiritual and material, sacred and secular." Everything is still one as it was to primitive man. Animism may also be the unconscious fabrication of a spirit manifestation by the medium. It is not a fraud as the medium actually believes that he is channeling a spirit. It usually happens when the medium is put under pressure to attend a request or works in a spiritualistic circle where spirit phenomena are expected to occur. The spirit of the medium then fabricates a manifestation and it is interesting to notice that the mediums body undergoes all the usual changes that happen in an actual spirit communication, such as altered breathing, contortions, and such procedures.

Animism as a Category of Religion

The term "animism" first entered academic discourse through anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor's 1871 book, Primitive Culture. In it, Tylor used the term to refer to any belief in mystical, supernatural, or non-empirical spirit beings. Animist thought, Tylor proposed, was religion in its most inchoate form, serving as a starting point for human religious development. Thus, so-called "primitive" cultures (such as hunter-gatherers upholding these beliefs) were merely expressing a reduced form of religiosity compatible with their supposedly low level of technological and spiritual development. In this evolutionary model, these societies relied on animism to explain the occurrence of certain events and processes. However, he argued that as a people's technological thought progressed, so too did their explanations for events in the physical world. As societies advanced from "savagery" to stages of "barbarism" and eventually to modern civilization, Tylor believed that they subsequently inherited (or developed) more complex beliefs, such as polytheism, eventually culminating in the supposed pinnacle of religious thought, monotheism. At the time that Tylor wrote, his theory was politically radical because it made the claim that non-Western peoples (that is, non-Christian "heathens") do in fact have religion. Despite this progressive conclusion, Tylor's use of the term "animism" was indubitably pejorative, as it referred to what he conceived to be an inferior form ofreligion. As a result, his usage of the term has since been widely rejected. Today, the term

animism is used with more respect and sensitivity to the obvious viability of tribal peoples and their spiritual beliefs. It is now commonly accepted that religious beliefs function emotionally and socially, rather than purely for the purpose of intellectual explanationan assumption that is far more illustrative of Tylor's Western biases than of any truths concerning the tribal peoples he studied. Still, many thinkers do not categorize animism as a form of religion at all. They argue that animism is, in the first instance, an explanation of phenomena rather than an attitude of mind toward the cause of those phenomena. Thus, animistic thought is more philosophical than strictly religious. For these thinkers, the term is most conveniently used to describe a quasi-religious practice in which people endeavor to set up relations between themselves and the unseen powers, conceived as spirits, but differing in many particulars from the gods of polytheism. While "full-fledged" religion implies a sense of humility within humans before the gods, anthropologist SirJames G. Frazer claimed that animism involved an attempt to gain temporary ascendancy over spiritual forces through the use of magic. Animism could hardly be categorized as religion, then, since it was primarily a utilitarian act for personal and societal gain. Further, unlike the polytheistic gods, animistic spiritual entities were seen to be more general and functional in their character, as they generally lack a deeply developed mythology. Thinkers holding that animism is not a religion claim that with the belief in more "departmental" gods comes the development of polytheism, and henceforth what is considered to be full-fledged religious thought. For these theorists, polytheist beliefs supercede the elemental spirits of the animist worldview. In contrast, those who argue that animism is a religion focus upon the fact that, even in magical rites, a form of worship is directed toward the spirits identified by the animist. Even after the acceptance of polytheist religious beliefs, the elemental spirits that were the focus of magic rites are often reinterpreted as "lesser gods." Their help and intervention is sought, sacrifices are made, and their instructions (often received through divination) are obeyed. Thus, these thinkers proceed to claim that animism embodies the ritualistic features of religion, and so should be considered as such. Also, many argue that utilitarian and ritualistic elements are present in mostforms of religion (especially in prayers or supplications), a fact that does much to negate the argument posited above.

Common Features of Animism

Existence of Souls or Spirits
The cornerstone of animistic thought is the affirmation of the existence of some kind of metaphysical entities (such as souls or spirits) that are seen as the life-source (or life-force) of human beings, animals, plants and even non-living objects and phenomena. For animistic cultures, the existence of these entities (with their respective operational and volitional qualities) provides explanations for the innumerable changes witnessed in both the natural world and the human world. In animistic thought, the human spirit or soul is often identified with the shadow or the breath. This identification between the soul and the shadow can be seen inTasmania, North and South America, as well as classical Europe. Similarly, the Basutus of Lesotho hold that a man walking by the brink of a river may lose his life if his shadow falls on the water, since a crocodile may seize his soul and draw him into the current. More familiar to Europeans is the connection between the soul and the breath. This identification is found both in Indo-European and within the linguistic roots of the words in Semitic languages: In Latin, breath is spiritus, in Greek pneuma, in Hebrew ruach, and in Sanskrit prana, all words which also have spiritual

connotations. This idea extends to many other cultures in Australia, America and Asia. Other common conceptions identify the soul with the liver, the heart, the blood or even with the reflected figure outwardly visible in the pupil of the eye. As the soul is often understood as a metaphysical, indwelling presence, it is not surprising that, for many animist cultures, unconsciousness is explained as being due to the absence of the soul. In South Australia, wilyamarraba, a term that refers to the state of being without a soul, is also the term used for that which cannot be perceived with the senses. Similarly, the auto-hypnotic trance of the magician or shaman is causally attributed to their visit to distant regions of the netherworld: they are in a senseless trance because their souls are literally elsewhere. Similarly, sickness is often explained as occurring due to the absence of the soul, requiring a healer to take measures to lure back this vagrant spirit. In Chinese tradition, when a person is at the point of death, their soul is believed to have left their body. Typically, the dying individual's coat is held up on a long bamboo pole while a priest endeavors to bring the departed spirit back into the coat by means of incantations. If the bamboo begins to turn round in the hands of the relative who is responsible for holding it, it is regarded as a sign that the soul of the patient has returned. More common than these aforementioned phenomena is the importance placed upon the daily period of sleep in animistic traditions. The frequent images included within dreams are interpreted in many cultures to illustrate the fact that the soul journeys while the body rests. Dreams and hallucinations were likely central to the development of animistic theory in general. Seeing the phantasmic figures of friends and other chimaeric, night-time apparitions may have led people to the dualistic separation of soul and body that is common within animistic traditions. Of course, hallucinatory figures, both in dreams and waking life, are not necessarily those of the living. From the reappearance of friends or enemies, dead or living alike, primitive man was likely led to the belief that there existed an incorporeal part of man, which existed apart from the body. Furthermore, if the phenomena of dreams were of such great importance for the development of a theory of human souls, this belief was also expanded into an overall philosophy of nature. Not only human beings but animals and objects are seen in dreams, and therefore it is possible that animists concluded that these entities also had souls.

Souls or Spirits in the Natural Realm

In many animistic cultures, peoples respect and even worship animals (see Totemism), often regarding them as relatives. In some cases, animals were seen as the spiritual abodes of dead ancestors. It is probable that animals were regarded as possessing souls early in the history of animistic beliefs. The animist may attribute to animals the same sorts of ideas and the same mental processes as himself or they may also be associated with even greater power, cunning, or magical abilities. Dead animals are sometimes credited with knowledge of how their remains are treated, and potentially with the power to take vengeance on the hunter if he is disrespectful. Among the Inuit people of Northern Canada, for example, various precautions are taken in all stages of a hunt so as not to offend the hunted animal. Such an offense could lead to bad luck in the future of the hunter who carried out the improprietous kill, furthering the notion thatat least in some animistic culturesanimals may possess spirits independent of their bodies, comparable to those attributed to humans. Just as souls are assigned to animals, so too are trees and plants often credited with souls, both human and animal in form. All over the world, agricultural peoples practice elaborate ceremonies explicable within the framework of animistic principles. In medieval Europe, for example, the corn spirit was sometimes viewed as immanent within a crop, while other times seen as a presiding deity whose life did not depend on that of the growing corn. Further, this spirit was often conceived in some districts as taking

the form of an ox, hare or cock, while in others taking that of an old man or woman. In the East Indies and Americas, the rice or maize mother is a corresponding figure; in classical Europe and the East we have in Ceres and Demeter, Adonis and Dionysus, and other deities linked to vegetation whose origin is most likely similar to that of the corn spirit. Forest trees, no less than cereals, were also seen, by some cultures, as having their own indwelling spirits. In Bengal and the East Indies woodcutters endeavor to propitiate the spirit of any tree which they have cut down. As well, in many parts of the world trees are regarded as the abode of the spirits of the dead. Just as a process of syncretism has given rise to cults of animal gods, tree spirits tend to become detached from the trees, which are thenceforth only considered to be their abodes. Here again it is evident that animism has begun to pass into forms of polytheism. Some cultures do not make a distinction between animate and inanimate objects. Natural phenomenon, geographic features, everyday objects, and manufactured articles may also be seen as possessing souls. In the north of Europe, in ancient Greece, and in China, the water or river spirit is horse or bull-shaped. The water monster in serpent shape is an even more pervasive image of the spirit of the water. The spirit of syncretism manifests itself in this department of animism too, turning the spirit immanent within natural forces into the presiding djinn or local gods which arose at later times.

The Spirit World

Beside the doctrine of separable souls with which we have so far been concerned, there also exists the animist belief in a great host of unattached spirits. These are not transient souls that have become detached from their abodes; they are, instead, concrete realities with their own independent existences. These spirits are often considered malevolent, and, in this fashion, take on monstrous or animalistic forms. For example, among the Ojibwa people of Minnesota and Ontario, the spirit world was populated with a great number of evil spirits that existed among the esteemed ones: monsters, ghosts, and most notably the Wendigo, an ogre which consumed human flesh and was said to cause psychosis. Typically, spirits of these types manifested themselves in the phenomena of possession, disease, and so forth. Along with such conceptions of spiritual evil we also find the idea that spirits of the deceased can also be hostile beings, at least at first. After extended durations of time, the spirits of dead kinsmen are no longer seen as unfriendly. As fetishes, naguals, familiar spirits, gods or demi-gods, they may even come to enter into relations with man. The fear of evil spirits has given rise to ceremonies of expulsion of evils, designed to banish these entities from the community.

Because of the often-malevolent nature of such spirits, as well as the various ills that can befall the individual soul or the community at large, the animist community almost always develops a system of spiritual technologyShamanism. Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices that are united around a common method: the use and control of spirits. While shamanism is often seen as a healing tradition, in some societies, shamanic teachings also include the ability to inflict suffering on others. Shamans have been credited with the ability to heal illnesses, control the weather, curse enemies, divine the future, interpret dreams, and project themselves astrally (including the ability to travel to upper and lower spiritual worlds). Regardless, shamanism and animism are intimately inter-related: animism provides the religio-philosophical framework and shamanism provides the techniques and technology for controlling (or at least harnessing) these forces.

Survival of the Dead

Most animistic belief systems hold that this spirit survives physical death. In some instances, the spirit is believed to pass into a more leisurely world of abundant game and ever-ripe crops, while in other systems, such as that of the Navajo religion, the spirit remains on earth as a ghost, often becoming malignant in the process. Still other systems combine these two beliefs, holding that the afterlife involves a journey to the spirit world upon which the soul must not become lost. This journey entails much wandering as a ghost. The correct performance of funerary rites, mourning rituals, and ancestor worship were often considered necessary for expediting the deceased soul's completion of this journey. Further, in many parts of the world it is held that the human body is the seat of more than one soul, some of which allow a person to survive after death. Among the peoples of the island of Nias, for example, four are distinguished: 1) the shadow and 2) the intelligence, (each of which die with the body), as well as 3) a tutelary spirit, termed begoe, and 4) a spirit which is carried on the head. These latter spirits survive even after death. Similar ideas are found among the Euahlayi of southeast Australia, the Dakotas of North America, as well as many other tribes. Just as in Europe the ghost of a dead person is held to haunt the churchyard or the place of death, other cultures also assign different abodes to some of the multiple souls. Of the four souls of a Dakota, one is held to stay with the corpse after death and another in the village, while a third goes into the air and the fourth goes to the land of souls. In the land of souls, the fourth spirit's subsistence may depend on its social rank in its worldly life, its sex, or its mode of death or sepulture. Numerous other factors from its worldly life, such as whether or not its funerary rite was properly observed, also affect its status in the spirit realm. From the belief in the survival of the dead arose the practice of graveside rituals such as the offering of food or lighting of fires in honor of the dead. While this may have occurred at first as an act of friendship or filial piety, it later became an act of full-fledged ancestor worship. Even where ancestor worship is not found, the desire to provide the dead with comforts in the future life may have lead to the sacrifice of wives, slaves, animals, or other living beings, as well as the breaking or burning of objects at the grave or even to such provisions as the ferryman's toll, where a coin or coins are put in the mouth or eyes of a corpse to pay the traveling expenses of the soul. In animist societies, the reverence for the dead is not finished with the successful passage of the soul to the land of the dead. On the contrary, the soul may return to avenge its death by helping to uncover injustices or identify murderers, or simply to wreak vengeance for itself. There is a widespread belief that those who died a violent death become malignant spirits and endanger the lives of those who come near the spot where they died. For example, in the Malaysian culture, the stillborn child or the woman who dies in childbirth becomes a pontianak, a spirit who threatens the life of human beings. As a result of such spiritual threats, people resort to magical or religious precautions in order to repel their spiritual dangers. In the case of the pontianak, Malaysians put glass beads in corpse's mouths, precluding the baneful cries of their spirit.

Manaism is a form of tribal religion that refers to the belief in a supernatural force, "mana", that
travels swiftly like an electric current around the world. This force suddenly enters other people and objects giving them powers which they previously lacked. Visions, premonitions, sudden strength in people, faith healing all are explained by this belief. This supernatural force is known by several names:

Melanesians are an ethnic group in Melanesia. The original inhabitants of the group of islands now named Melanesia were likely the ancestors of the present-dayPapuan-speaking people. They appear to have occupied these islands as far east as the main islands in the Solomon Islands, including Makira and possibly the smaller islands farther to the east.[1] It was particularly along the north coast of New Guinea and in the islands north and east of New Guinea that the Austronesian people came into contact with these preexisting populations of Papuan-speaking peoples, probably around 4,000 years ago. There was probably a long period of interaction that resulted in many complex changes in genetics, languages, and culture.[2] It was once postulated that from this area a very small group of people (speaking an Austronesian language) departed to the east to become the forebears of the Polynesian people.[3] This theory was, however, contradicted by a study published by Temple University finding that Polynesians and Micronesians have little genetic relation to Melanesians; instead, they found significant distinctions between groups living within the Melanesian islands.[4] Genome scans show Polynesians have little genetic relationship to Melanesians.[5] While all humans outside of Africa are now known to have inherited some genes from Neanderthals, Melanesians are the only known modern humans whose prehistoric ancestors interbred with the Denisova hominin, sharing 4%6% of their genome with this ancient cousin of the Neanderthal.[6] Blond hair is exceptionally rare among those without European heritage, however Melanesians of some islands are one of the few non-European peoples and the only dark-skin group of humans known to have blond hair. Predominantly Melanesian areas include the Mollucas of Eastern Indonesia, the New Guinea and surrounding islands, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. The region New Caledonia and nearby Loyalty Islands for most of its history has had a majority Melanesian population, but its proportion has dropped to slightly below half in the face of immigration over the last century to present time. The largest and most populous Melanesian country is Papua New Guinea. The largest city proper in Melanesia is Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. With about 300,000 people mostly of Melanesian ancestry, it may be largest Melanesian city in the world.

Totemism is a system of belief in which humans are said to have a connection or a kinship
with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant. The totem is thought to interact with a given kin group or an individual and to serve as their emblem or symbol. The term totem is derived from the Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning one's brother-sister kin. The grammatical root, ote, signifies a blood relationship between brothers and sisters who have the same mother and who may not marry each other. In English, the word 'totem' was introduced in 1791 by a British merchant and translator who gave it a false meaning in the belief that it designated the guardian

spirit of an individual, who appeared in the form of an animalan idea that the Ojibwa clans did indeed portray by their wearing of animal skins. It was reported at the end of the 18th century that the Ojibwa named their clans after those animals that live in the area in which they live and appear to be either friendly or fearful. The first accurate report about totemism in North America was written by a Methodist missionary, Peter Jones, himself an Ojibwa, who died in 1856 and whose report was published posthumously. According to Jones, the Great Spirit had given toodaims (totems) to the Ojibwa clans, and because of this act, it should never be forgotten that members of the group are related to one another and on this account may not marry among themselves.

The nature of totemism

Totemism is a complex of varied ideas and ways of behaviour based on a worldview drawn from nature. There are ideological, mystical,emotional, reverential, and genealogical relationships of social groups or specific persons with animals or natural objects, the so-called totems. It is necessary to differentiate between group and individual totemism. These forms share some basic characteristics, but they occur with different emphases and in different specific forms. For instance, people generally view the totem as a companion, relative, protector, progenitor, or helper, ascribe to it superhuman powers and abilities, and offer it some combination of respect, veneration, awe, and fear. Most cultures use special names and emblems to refer to the totem, and those it sponsors engage in partial identification with the totem or symbolic assimilation to it. There is usually a prohibition or taboo against killing, eating, or touching the totem. Although totems are often the focus of ritual behaviour, it is generally agreed that totemism is not a religion. Totemism can certainly include religious elements in varying degrees, just as it can appear conjoined with magic. Totemism is frequently mixed with different kinds of other beliefs, such as ancestor worship, ideas of the soul, or animism. Such mixtures have historically made the understanding of particular totemistic forms difficult. [edit]Group


Social or collective totemism is the most widely disseminated form of this belief system. It typically includes one or more of several features, such as the mystic association of animal and plant species, natural phenomena, or created objects with unilineally related groups (lineages, clans, tribes, moieties, phratries) or with local groups and families; the hereditary transmission of the totems (patrilineal or matrilineal); group and personal names that are based either directly or indirectly on the totem; the use of totemistic emblems and symbols; taboos and prohibitions that may apply to the species itself or can be limited to parts of animals and plants (partial taboos instead of partial totems); and a connection with a large number of animals and natural objects (multiplex totems) within which a distinction can be made between principal totems and subsidiary ones (linked totems). Group totems are generally associated or coordinated on the basis of analogies or on the basis of myth or ritual. Just why particular animals or natural thingswhich sometimes possess no economic value for the communities concernedwere originally selected as totems is often based on eventful and decisive moments in a peoples past. Folk traditions regarding the nature of totems and the origin of the societies in question are informative, especially with regard to the groups cultural presuppositions. For example, a group that holds that it is derived directly or indirectly from a given totem may have a tradition in which its progenitor was an animal or plant that could also appear as a human being. In such belief systems, groups of people and species of animals and plants can thus have progenitors in common. In other

cases, there are traditions that the human progenitor of a kin group had certain favourable or unfavourable experiences with an animal or natural object and then ordered that his descendants respect the whole species of that animal. Group totemism was traditionally common among peoples in Africa, India, Oceania (especially in Melanesia), North America, and parts ofSouth America. These peoples include, among others, the Australian Aborigines, the African Pygmies, and various Native American peoplesmost notably the Northwest Coast Indians (predominantly fishermen), California Indians, and Northeast Indians. Moreover, group totemism is represented in a distinctive form among the Ugrians and west Siberians (hunters and fishermen who also breed reindeer) as well as among tribes of herdsmen in north and Central Asia. [edit]Individual


Individual totemism is expressed in an intimate relationship of friendship and protection between a person and a particular animal or a natural object (sometimes between a person and a species of animal); the natural object can grant special power to its owner. Frequently connected with individual totemism are definite ideas about the human soul (or souls) and conceptions derived from them, such as the idea of an alter ego and nagualismfrom the Spanish form of the Aztec word naualli, something hidden or veiledwhich means that a kind of simultaneous existence is assumed between an animal or a natural object and a person; i.e., a mutual, close bond of life and fate exists in such a way that in case of the injury, sickness, or death of one partner, the same fate would befall the other member of the relationship. Consequently, such totems became most strongly tabooed; above all, they were connected with family or group leaders, chiefs, medicine men, shamans, and other socially significant persons. Studies of shamanism indicate that individual totemism may have predated group totemism, as a groups protective spirits were sometimes derived from the totems of specific individuals. To some extent, there also exists a tendency to pass on an individual totem as hereditary or to make taboo the entire species of animal to which the individual totem belongs. Individual totemism is widely disseminated. It is found not only among tribes of hunters and harvesters but also among farmers andherdsmen. Individual totemism is especially emphasized among the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians.

Durkheim to Radcliffe-Brown
The founder of a French school of sociology, mile Durkheim, examined totemism from a sociological and theological point of view[citation needed]. Durkheim hoped to discover a pure religion in very ancient forms and generally claimed to see the origin of religion in totemism. For Durkheim, the sphere of the sacred is a reflection of the emotions that underlie social activities, and the totem was, in this view, a reflection of the group (or clan) consciousness, based on the conception of an impersonal power. The totemistic principle was then the clan itself, and it was permeated with sanctity. Durkheim held that such a religion reflects the collective consciousness that is manifested through the identification of the individuals of the group with an animal or plant species; it is expressed outwardly in taboos, symbols, and rituals that are based on this identification. In further contributions, Goldenweiser in 191516 and 1918 criticized Lang, Frazer, and Durkheim and insisted that totemism had nothing to do with religion; he held instead that man in no way viewed his totem as superior to himself or as a deified being but viewed it as his friend and equal[citation needed]. Goldenweiser also rejected Frazers thesis of conceptionalism as an explanation of totemism. On the

other hand, Goldenweiser was of the opinion that all totemistic manifestations do have at least something of a kind of religion, but he was not inclined to include the guardian spirit conception within totemism. In 1916 an American ethnologist, Franz Boas, suggested that totemism exhibited no single psychological or historical origin; since totemistic features can be connected with individuals and all possible social organizations, and they appear in different cultural contexts, it would be impossible to fit totemistic phenomena into a single category[citation needed]. Boas was against systematizing and thought it senseless to ask questions about the origins of totemism. The first theoretician of the Vienna school of ethnology, Fritz Graebner, attempted to explain the forms of both individual totemism and group totemism and designated them as a moderately creedal or semireligious complex of ideas according to which individual members or subgroups of a society are thought to be in an especially close (but not cultic) relationship to natural objects[citation needed]. According to Graebner, one can use the cultural-historical method to establish the extent to which totemistic forms belong to one definite cultural complex; which forms of totemism are older or younger; and the extent to which forms belong together in an antecedent-decedent relationship. Graebner tried to work out a totem complex (a culture circle; see kulturkreis) for the South Seas. This complex entailed a patrilineal group totemism as well as the material, economic, and religious elements that, in his opinion, appear to be combined with the totemism in that area. Another member of the same school, Bernhard Ankermann, in 191516 championed the view that all totemisms, regardless of where they are found, contained a common kernel around which new characteristics are built[citation needed]. As seen from the standpoint of what was found in Africa, this kernel appeared to him to be the belief in a specific relationship between social groups and natural thingsin a feeling of unity between botha relationship he believed to be spread throughout the world, even if only in a modified or diminished form. From Ankermanns perspective, magical and animalistic ideas and rites are merged with totemism in a strong inseparable unity. The genesis of this type of relationship presupposes a state of mind that makes no distinction between man and beast. Although magic can be closely connected with totemism, the feeling of unity between man and beast has nothing to do with magic, which was connected with it only later. According to Ankermann, the totems are not something perilous, something to be shunned, but on the contrary are something friendlya totem is thought to be like a brother and is to be treated as such[citation needed]. Further, the totemistic taboo occurs because the totem is a relative. Ankermann was inclined to see the formation of totemism in an emotional animal-man relationship: early hunters, he thought, might have imitated those animals that attracted their attention most of all. Ankermann further explained that primitive man identifies himself with the animal while he is imitating it, and that the habit of so doing could lead to a continuing identification expressed as totemism. In 191516 Wilhelm Schmidt, then the leader of the Vienna School of Ethnology, viewed totemism strictly according to the then-popular schemes of culture circles or kulturkreis (today long abandoned); because totemism was disseminated throughout the world, he thought of it as a single cultural complex in spite of local differences[citation needed]. He maintained that the differences in totemism explored by earlier theories are exaggerations and could, moreover, be due to the lack of particular elements of totemism, to the loss of certain forms of totemism, to incursions from the outside, or to different stages of the development of totemism, none of which would exclude a unified origin for all of totemism. Schmidt believed that the cultural-historical school of ethnology had produced proof that an older, genuine totemism had been an integral part of a culture located in a definite area and that it was organically connected with definite

forms of technology, economy, art, and worldview. From this supposedly pure form of totemism, Schmidt wanted to separate derived forms, such as individual totemism. Moreover, though he did not designate totemism as a religion, he saw that it did have some sort of religious meaning. In opposition to Ankermann, Schmidt regarded a more recent, or higher, form of hunting as the economic basis for the totemistic culture circle. The leading representative of British social anthropology, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, took a totally different view of totemism[citation needed]. Like Boas, he was skeptical that totemism could be described in any unified way. In this he opposed the other pioneer of social anthropology in England, Bronisaw Malinowski, who wanted to confirm the unity of totemism in some way and approached the matter more from a biological and psychological point of view than from an ethnological one. According to Malinowski, totemism was not a cultural phenomenon, but rather the result of trying to satisfy basic human needs within the natural world. As far as Radcliffe-Brown was concerned, totemism was composed of elements that were taken from different areas and institutions, and what they have in common is a general tendency to characterize segments of the community through a connection with a portion of nature. In opposition to Durkheims theory of sacralization, Radcliffe-Brown took the point of view that nature is introduced into the social order rather than secondary to it. At first, he shared with Malinowski the opinion that an animal becomes totemistic when it is good to eat. He later came to oppose the usefulness of this viewpoint, since many totemssuch as crocodiles and fliesare dangerous and unpleasant. In 1952, when Radcliffe-Brown rethought the problem, he found that the similarities and differences between species of animals are to a certain degree translated into ideas of friendship and conflict, or close relationships and opposition among people. The structural principle that Radcliffe-Brown believed he had discovered at the end of this study is based on the fusion of the two contrary ideas of friendship and animosity. In this view, totemism speaks in its own way of interrelationships and antitheses, ideas that are also found in moieties. Thinking in terms of opposing things is, according to Radcliffe-Brown, an essential structural principle for evaluating totemism. [edit]Lvi-Strauss The most incisive critique of totemistic phenomena, one that denied the reality of totemism, was supplied by the French ethnologist Claude Lvi-Strauss in Le Totmisme aujourdhui (English translation, Totemism, 1963)[citation needed]. As a chief representative of modernstructuralism, Lvi-Strauss was especially stimulated by Radcliffe-Brown, whose views he attempted to further expand. Lvi-Strauss believed that he was to approach the apparent, acknowledged difficulties in the study of totemism from the viewpoint of a study of structure. In order to study the structure of totemism, Lvi-Strauss devised a scheme to illustrate the abstract polarities that he saw in totemism as a phenomenon in human culture. His scheme was implemented in a table of oppositions or polarities, or mutual relationships. The basic opposition, or relationship, was between nature and culture. On the one hand, there were in nature certain realities such as species of animals or plants and specific animals or plants. On the other hand, there were in culture various groups and individuals who identified themselves with particular species or with specific animals or plants. Lvi-Strauss distinguished four kinds of relationship between nature and culture within totemism: (1) a species of animal or plant identified with a particular group, (2) a species of animal or plant identified with an individual, (3) a particular animal or plant identified with an individual, and (4) a particular animal or plant identified with a group. According to Lvi-Strauss, each of these four combinations corresponds to the phenomena that are to be observed in one people or another. The first holds good, for example, for the Australians, for whom

natural things are associated with cultural groups (moieties, sections, subsections, phratries, clans, or the association of persons from the same sex). As an example of the second combination, there is the individual totemism of North American Indians, in which a person is correlated with a species of nature. For the third type of combination, theMota people of the Banks Islands of Melanesia are cited: the individual child is thought of as the incarnation of a particular animal, plant, or natural creature that was found and consumed by the mother at the time that she was conscious of her pregnancy. For the fourth type of correlation, Lvi-Strauss cited examples from Polynesia and Africa where definite individual animals formed the object of group patronage and veneration. Lvi-Strauss also critiqued the findings of A. P. Elkin[citation needed], a specialist on Australia, where totemism had already played a special role in the formation of anthropological and sociological theories and where it exhibits an abundance of forms. Elkin had also differentiated four forms: individual totemism; social totemismi.e., totemism that is in a family, moiety, section, subsection, patrilineal clan, or matrilineal clan; cultic totemism, with a religious content that is patrilineal and conceptional in form; and dream totemismtotemistic content indreamsfound in social or individual totemism. Elkin denied the unity of totemism, but (according to Lvi-Strauss) wanted to preserve its reality on the condition that he might trace it back to a multiplicity of types. For Elkin, there is no longer one totemism but many totemisms, each in itself a single irreducible whole. In connection with the Australian material, Lvi-Strauss argued that matrilineal clan totemismwhich was passed on through the flesh or bloodand patrilineal clan totemismwhich was based on dreaming were in no way heterogeneous but were to be thought of as being mutually complementary. These two types of totemism were different means of connecting the material and spiritual world; together, they expressed the relationship between nature and society. From the Australian data, Lvi-Strauss concluded that real totemism was based not on the similarities of the matrilineal and patrilineal types but on their dissimilarities. Such a pattern was clearly expressed in the basic model of the contrasts of the natural with the cultural (that were outlined above). Building on the ideas of Radcliffe-Brown, Lvi-Strauss claimed to perceive antithetical thinking as a crucial structural principle in totemism and believed that the similarity among totemistic ideas in various cultures lay in similarities between systems of differencesthose documented in the natural sphere and those in the culturally defined social groups. Lvi-Strauss concluded that the distinction between the classes of man and animal serves as the conceptual basis for social differences. For Lvi-Strauss, totemism is therefore an illusion and a logic that classifiesa post hoc explanation in which the structure of social relations is projected onto the natural phenomena, not taken from it.

Types of magic Similarity and contagion

The theory of sympathetic magic was first developed by Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough. He further subcategorised sympathetic magic into two varieties: that relying on similarity, and that relying on contact or 'contagion': If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.[1]

The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths.[1]As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures,

whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece. In the field offolkloristics, a myth is

defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form.[3][4]

Many scholars in other fields use the term "myth" in somewhat different ways.[5][6][7] In a very broad sense, the

word can refer to any story originating within traditions.[8]


1 Nature of myths

1.1 Typical characteristics 1.2 Related concepts

2 Origins of myth

2.1 Euhemerism 2.2 Allegory 2.3 Personification

2.4 The myth-ritual theory

3 Functions of myth 4 The study of mythology: a historical overview

4.1 Pre-modern theories 4.2 19th-century theories 4.3 20th century theories

5 Examples of myths

5.1 Creation of man by Prometheus (Greek)

5.2 Birth of Athena (Greek)

6 Comparative mythology 7 Myths in the 21st century 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

[edit]Nature ]Typical

of myths


The main characters in myths are usually gods, supernatural heroes and humans.[9][10][11] As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion or spirituality.[9] In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past.[9][10][12][13] In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, "true stories" or myths, and "false stories" or fables.[14] Creation myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form,[9] and explain how the world gained its current form[3][4][5][15] and how customs, institutions and taboos were established.[9][15]



See also: Legend and Folktale

Closely related to myth are legend and folktale. Myths, legends, and folktales are different types of traditional story.[16] Unlike myths, folktales can be set in any time and any place, and they are not considered true or sacred by the societies that tell them.[9] Like myths, legends are stories that are traditionally considered true, but are set in a more recent time, when the world was much as it is today.[9] Legends generally feature humans as their main characters, whereas myths generally focus on superhuman characters.[9] The distinction between myth, legend, and folktale is meant simply as a useful tool for grouping traditional stories.[17] In many cultures, it is hard to draw a sharp line between myths and legends.[18] Instead of dividing their traditional stories into myths, legends, and folktales, some cultures divide them into two categories, one that roughly corresponds to folktales, and one that combines myths and legends.[19] Even myths and folktales are not completely distinct. A story may be considered true (and therefore a myth) in one society, but considered fictional (and therefore a folktale) in another society.[20][21] In fact, when a myth loses its status as part of a religious system, it often takes on traits more typical of folktales, with its formerly divine characters reinterpreted as human heroes, giants, or fairies.[10] Myth, legend, and folktale are only a few of the categories of traditional stories. Other categories include anecdotes and some kinds ofjokes.[17] Traditional stories, in turn, are only one category within folklore, which also includes items such as gestures, costumes, and music.[21]

Functions of myth
Mircea Eliade argued that one of the foremost functions of myth is to establish models for behavior[34] [35] and that myths may also provide a religious experience. By telling or reenacting myths, members of traditional societies detach themselves from the present and return to the mythical age, thereby bringing themselves closer to the divine.[12][35][36] Lauri Honko asserts that, in some cases, a society will reenact a myth in an attempt to reproduce the conditions of the mythical age. For example, it will reenact the healing performed by a god at the beginning of time in order to heal someone in the present.[37] Similarly, Roland Barthes argues that modern culture explores religious experience. Because it is not the job of science to define human morality, a religious experience is an attempt to connect with a perceived moral past, which is in contrast with the technological present.[38] Joseph Campbell defined myths as having four basic functions: the Mystical Functionexperiencing the awe of the universe; the Cosmological Functionexplaining the shape of the universe; the Sociological Functionsupporting and validating a certain social order; and the Pedagogical Functionhow to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.[39]

Origins of myth
[edit]Euhemerism Main article: Euhemerus One theory claims that myths are distorted accounts of real historical events.[22][23] According to this theory, storytellers repeatedly elaborated upon historical accounts until the figures in those accounts gained the

status of gods.[22][23] For example, one might argue that the myth of the wind-god Aeolus evolved from a historical account of a king who taught his people to use sails and interpret the winds.[22]Herodotus (5th century BC) and Prodicus made claims of this kind.[23] This theory is named "euhemerism" after the mythologist Euhemerus(c.320 BC), who suggested that the Greek gods developed from legends about human beings.[23][24] [edit]Allegory Some theories propose that myths began as allegories. According to one theory, myths began as allegories for natural phenomena: Apollorepresents fire, Poseidon represents water, and so on. [23] According to another theory, myths began as allegories for philosophical or spiritual concepts: Athena represents wise judgment, Aphrodite represents desire, etc.[23] The 19th century Sanskritist Max Mller supported an allegorical theory of myth. He believed that myths began as allegorical descriptions of nature, but gradually came to be interpreted literally: for example, a poetic description of the sea as "raging" was eventually taken literally, and the sea was then thought of as a raging god.[25] [edit]Personification See also: Mythopoeic thought Some thinkers believe that myths resulted from the personification of inanimate objects and forces. According to these thinkers, the ancients worshipped natural phenomena such as fire and air, gradually coming to describe them as gods.[26] For example, according to the theory ofmythopoeic thought, the ancients tended to view things as persons, not as mere objects;[27] thus, they described natural events as acts of personal gods, thus giving rise to myths.[28]


A taboo is a strong social prohibition (or ban) relating to any area of human activity or social customthat is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society. The term comes from the Tongan word tabu, meaning set apart or forbidden, and appears in many Polynesian cultures. In those cultures, a tabu (or tapu or kapu) often has specific religious associations. American author Herman Melville, in his first novel "Typee" describes both the origin and use of the word in Polynesian culture. "The word itself (taboo) is used in more than one signification. It is sometimes used by a parent to a child, when in the exercise of parental authority forbids the child to perform a particular action. Anything opposed to the ordinary customs of the islands, although not expressly prohibited is said to be "taboo"." When an activity or custom is taboo, it is forbidden and interdictions are implemented concerning it, such as the ground set apart as a sanctuary for criminals. Some taboo activities or customs are prohibited under law and

transgressions may lead to severe penalties. On the other hand taboos result in embarrassment, shame, and rudeness. Although critics and/or dissenters may oppose taboos, they are put into place to avoid disrespect to any given authority, be it legal, moral and/or religious.

Common etymology traces taboo to the Tongan word tapu[1][2] or the Fijian word tabu meaning "under prohibition", "not allowed", or "forbidden".[3] In its current use in Tonga, the word tapu also means "sacred" or "holy", often in the sense of being restricted or protected by custom or law. In the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga, where the greater portion of the population reside within the capitalNuku'alofa, the word is often appended to the end of "Tonga", making the word "Tongatapu", as "Sacred South" rather than "forbidden south". The use of taboo in English dates back to 1777 when English explorer, Captain James Cook, visited Tonga. Describing the cultural practices of the Tongans, he wrote:
Not one of them would sit down, or eat a bit of any thing.... On expressing my surprise at this, they were all taboo, as they said; which word has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden.[4]

When any thing is forbidden to be eaten, or made use of, they say, that it is taboo.[5]

On a universal scale in almost all cultures, Taboos can include sex, death, dietary restrictions (halal and kosher diets, religious vegetarianism, and the prohibition of cannibalism), restrictions on sexual activities and relationships (sex outside of marriage, adultery, intermarriage,miscegenation, incest, animalhuman sex, adult-child sex, sex with the dead), sexual fetishes, restrictions of bodily functions (burping, flatulence, defecation and urination), restrictions on the use of psychoactive drugs, restrictions on state of genitalia such as (transsexual gender identity, circumcision or sex reassignment),exposure of body parts (ankles in the Victorian British Empire, women's hair in parts of the Middle East, nudity in the US), and restrictions on the use of offensive language. Practices considered acceptable in one culture may be considered taboo in other cultures. For example, Foot Binding, practiced in ancient China, would be considered taboo in the context of modern cultural morals. Exposure of intimate parts is generally taboo in (most) modern developed countries.[citation needed] Other subjects perceived to be taboo involve burning money; some countries or nations (most notably postWWII Europe whose governments often object going to war except for reasons of self-defense) and moralphilosophical debates on whether or not humanity should (or not) exist.[citation needed]

No taboo is known to be universal, but some (such as cannibalism, intentional homicide, and incest taboos) occur in the majority ofsocieties. Taboos may serve many functions, and often remain in effect after the original reason behind them has expired. Some have argued that taboos therefore reveal the history of societies when other records are lacking.[6] Certain taboos lose their sting over periods of time. In the United States and western countries, most people are now more comfortable than before when they discuss and explore social issues: gossip and scandal, alcoholism, depression, homosexuality, divorce, income disparity, personal relationships, pregnancy and childbirth, and teenage rebellion. Medical disorders and diseases like cancer, polio, AIDS, mental disorders and suicide aren't as heavily taboo now as in the past. Certain personal things such as age, height, weight and appearance are not always shared with confidants or in public; this indicates that such topics may be taboo to some people. Taboos often extend to cover discussion of taboo topics. This can result in taboo deformation (euphemism) or replacement of taboo words.Marvin Harris, a leading figure in cultural materialism, endeavored to explain taboos as a consequence of the ecologic and economicconditions of their societies. Taboos challenge one's free speech and individual rights to express a subject or issue in need to be addressed for the benefit, not to damage, any given society. Also, Sigmund Freud provided an analysis of taboo behaviors, highlighting strong unconscious motivations driving such prohibitions. In this system, described in his collections of essays Totem and Taboo, Freud postulates a link between forbidden behaviors and the sanctification of objects to certain kinship groups. Freud also states here that the only two "universal" taboos are that of incest and patricide, which formed the eventual basis of modern society. Other societal taboos to a certain extent or to some people are the polarizing issues of racism, sexism, ethnicity, nationality, religion,politics, money, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, and disability. People follow this advice of not discussing, joking about or making an issue of things that can lead to bigotry, discrimination, defamation and stigmatization of people with those social group differences. For such topics, the moderated environment of an organized debate may be the only socially acceptable place to discuss them. They developed as a result of concerns for civil rights, sensitivity, and multiculturalism in the late 20th century.[citation needed]

When presented in the shape of parody or comedy as performed by comedians, taboo topics and subject matter can induce comical reaction by the general public, without causing disgust or offense as to what was said or mentioned about an emotionally charged issue described as mainly taboo in a given society.[citation needed]

Chapter 4
Religion and philosophy
Is religion just a type of philosophy? Is philosophy a religious activity? There seems to be some confusion at times over just whether and how religion and philosophy should be distinguished from each other this confusion is not unjustified because there are some very strong similarities between the two. The questions discussed in both religion and philosophy tend to be very much alike. Both religion and philosophy wrestle with problems like: What is good? What does it mean to live a good life? What is the nature of reality? Why are we here and what should we be doing? How should we treat each other? What is really most important in life? Clearly, then, there are enough similarities that religions can be philosophical (but need not be) and philosophies can be religious (but again need not be). Does this mean that we simply have two different words for the same fundamental concept? No; there are some real differences between religion and philosophy which warrant considering them to be two different types of systems even though they overlap in places. To begin with, of the two only religions have rituals. In religions, there are ceremonies for important life events (birth, death, marriage, etc.) and for important times of the year (days commemorating spring, harvest, etc.). Philosophies, however, do not have their adherents engage in ritualistic actions. Students do not have to ritually wash their hands before studying Hegel and professors do not celebrate a Utilitarian Day every year. Another difference is the fact that philosophy tends to emphasize just the use of reason and critical thinking whereas religions may make use of reason, but at the very least they also rely on faith, or even use faith to the exclusion of reason. Granted, there are any number of philosophers who have argued that reason alone cannot discover truth or who have tried to describe the limitations of reason in some manner but that isnt the quite the same thing. You wont find Hegel, Kant or Russell saying that their philosophies are revelations from a god or that their work should be taken on faith. Instead, they base their philosophies on rational arguments those arguments may not also prove valid or successful, but it is the effort which differentiates their work from religion. In religion, and even in religious philosophy, reasoned arguments are ultimately traced back to some basic faith in God, gods, or religious principles which have been discovered in some revelation. A separation between the sacred and the profane is something else lacking in philosophy. Certainly philosophers discuss the phenomena of religious awe, feelings of mystery, and the importance of sacred objects, but that is very different from having feelings of awe and mystery around such objects within philosophy. Many religions teach adherents to revere sacred scriptures, but no one teaches students to revere the collected notes of William James.

Finally, most religions tend to include some sort of belief in what can only be described as the miraculous events which either defy normal explanation or which are, in principal, outside the boundaries of what should occur in our universe. Miracles may not play a very large role in every religion, but they are a common feature which you dont find in philosophy. Nietzsche wasnt born of a virgin, no angels appeared to announce the conception of Sartre, and Hume didnt make the lame walk again. The fact that religion and philosophy are distinct does not mean that they are entirely separate. Because they both address many of the same issues, it isnt uncommon for a person to be engaged in both religion and philosophy simultaneously. They may refer to their activity with only one term and their choice of which term to use may reveal quite a lot about their individual perspective on life; nevertheless, it is important to keep their distinctness in mind when considering them.

The Difference between Religion and Philosophy

I had a conversation with a friend that prompted this. What is the difference between religion and philosophy? Iqbal defines and distinguishes the two quite nicely and have reproduced an excerpt from Reconstruction here: The spirit of philosophy is one of free inquiry. It suspects all authority. Its function is to trace the uncritical assumptions of human thought to their hiding places, and in this pursuit it may finally end in denial or a frank admission of the incapacity of pure reason to reach the Ultimate Reality. .But the aspiration of religion soars higher than that of philosophy. Philosophy is an intellectual view of things; and, as such, does not care to go beyond a concept which can reduce all the rich variety of experience to a system. It sees Reality from a distance as it were. Religion seeks a closer contact with Reality. The one is theory; the other is living experience, association, intimacy. In order to achieve this intimacy thought must rise higher than itself, and find its fulfilment in an attitude of mind which religion describes as prayer one of the last words on the lips of the Prophet of Islam. Religion does overlap with philosophy at several points and I would argue we build our moral systems using a combination of both. Even many atheists will use cultural manifestations of the former to frame a reference point. Many atheist Jews and Muslims will still practice the tradition of circumcision for example even though the scientific evidence for its benefit is still being researched. Think of an ethical decision youve made recently. On what evidence and previous experience did you make such a decision? Was it grounded on philosophical or religious grounds? Or was it just a gut feeling?

Top of Form

Difference Between Religion and Philosophy

Religion vs Philosophy Religion and philosophy are two different topics altogether. Religion is all about practices and customs whereas philosophy is all about metaphysics. Religion is a belief; it has a set of code of conduct, principles, ethics and morals to follow in ones life. There are several religions in the world. It only means that people of the world follow different kinds of religion that frame different sets of principles, ethics, morals and codes of conduct to follow for the people that belong to them. Thus you have Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Sikhism and Jewish to mention some of the religions of the world. Each of these religions prescribes a separate set of principles, ethics and morals along with customs to follow by the people of the particular religion. Philosophy on the other hand speaks about the realization of the supreme truth. It deals with the topic of life after death. It speaks about the existence of the soul and life hereafter. Philosophy establishes the divine nature of man. It teaches the absolute truth that each soul is potentially divine. Religion insists on the performance of rituals whereas philosophy does not emphasize the ritualistic aspect of life. Philosophy is in fact construed to be a way of thinking. This is the reason why philosophers are called as thinkers whereas propagators of religions are called leaders. If you are philosophical then you need not perform rituals and other rites connected with religion, but on the other hand, if you are religious you cannot do away with the performance of rituals and rites. They become part and parcel of your life. This is the basic difference between religion and philosophy. Hence it can be said that religion and philosophy are mutually exclusive and they cannot co-exist

There are sixteen main Sacraments (Samskaras).
These range from conception to funeral ceremonies. 1. Garbhadhan (Sacrament of Impregnation) 2. Punsavanam (second or third month of pregnancy) 3. Simantonnayana (between the fifth and eighth month of pregnancy) 4. Jatakarma (At the time when the child is being born) 5. Namakarana (Naming the child) 6. Niskramana (Child is brought out of house.3rd and 4th month) 7. Annaprashana (The first feeding of cereal at six months) 8. Chudakarma (First time cutting of hair, 1st year or 3rd year) 9. Karnavedha (Piercing the ears in the third or fifth year) 10. Upanayana (Investiture of Sacred Thread) From 8th year 11. Samavartana (When studies are completed)

12. Vivaha Samskara (Marriage ceremony) 13. Grihasthashrama (Sacraments relating to house-holders.) 14. Vanprasthashrama (Renouncing the house-holder's life) 15. Sanyasashrama. (Leading the life of a monk) 16. Antyeshti (Funeral: last rites of the dead)

We can call it the conception ceremony. There are certain Dos and Donts during the Ritu period of the woman, which are of great psychological significance. The propitious day and time are fixed astrologically for Garbhadhana and the ritual follows a set pattern. The Mantras uttered in this Samskaras are essentially prayers offered to God to help the bride conceive a good son. The Mantras make use of occasional metaphors of joint action. They can be freely translated thus: "May we produce strong and long-lived sons as fire is produced by friction; may he be well behaved. I am part of God and I shall produce good sons to liberate my ancestors. May we beget shining, wealthy children. May we donate liberally to the needy and attain moksha. May God make you fit for conception. Let the evil spirit flee from you. Let your child be free from defects like lameness, deafness etc. Be you like the divine Kamadhenu etc." Procreation is a compulsory duty enjoined on the Hindu to repay his ancestral debt, except when either or both the partners are functionally unfit.

2. Punsavanam
This ceremony is performed in the second, third and the fourth month of pregnancy. The meaning and object of this ceremony is to "quicken a male child" in the woman. The Punsavana is performed on a day of male Nakshatra. During this ritual, a few drops of the juice of the Banyan stem are put into the right nostril of the pregnant lady to inhale it, with a prayer for the birth of a son or a worthy child. According to Susruta, the great Ayurvedic writer, the juice of the Banyan tree has all the properties of relieving trouble during pregnancy. Sanctified thread is tied to the left wrist of the lady by way of protection. The mantras, freely rendered, pray: ""May God Isana fulfil our wishes; Dhata bless the world with children and wealth. May He bless this household too with children. May the immortals live in this house. May Agni bless me with sons. May Indra bless me with children. May I have handsome children." [Note: The following explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. Placing his hand on the womb of his pregnant wife the husband should pronounce the following Mantra from the Yajurveda, the meaning of which is given below: "O soul in the womb! May you have the swiftness of nice-winged swift bird, may there arise in your head the trio of action, contemplation and learning. Gayatri be your eye. Brihat and Rathantara like your sides. Rtgveda your soul, metres your limbs. The hymns

of Yajuh are your name. The Vamadevya is your body. The deeds worth doing and shunning are your hind part. The yajnas are like your hooves, the feet. You are a noble soul, the master of noble qualities. Acquire knowledge and attain to happiness in life and beyond." After this the pregnant lady should live in a disciplined way and lead a life with proper (restricted) diet and confined movements. She should eat a small quantity of the cocculus cordiclius (giloy) Brahmi herb, and dry ginger (Soonth) with milk. She should avoid too much sleep, avoid too much talking, avoid saltish food preparations, avoid sour, pungent, bitter things and avoid purgatives like Termunallia Chebula (Haritaki). She should avoid anger, aversion, greed etc and should always keep her mind joyful and happy. She should lead a life of good conduct. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

The third in the series of pre-natal Samskaras, this is performed during the period between the fifth and the eighth months of pregnancy. The specific materials used during this Samskara, that are for the lady only, are, the quill of a porcupine, an ear of ripe paddy and some Udumbara leaves. The deity invoked is Rika, the presiding deity of the full-moon. Their implications are: that the pregnancy should be fruitful; the child should be endowed with sharp and penetrating intellect (like the sharp quill of the porcupine). The child should be beautiful like the full-moon. The gist of the Mantra is: "I beseech the goddess Raka. May she make this ceremony blameless. May my son be endowed with sharp intellect." Music, especially on the veena, is indicated to be played on this occasion. This increases the mothers suckling power besides conferring other psychological benefits. Ladies are asked to sing: "Be a mother of heroic sons" thus creating a heroic atmosphere. The mother fasts and keeps silent after the ceremony till night time when the stars become visible. At the close of the ceremony she touches a male calf, symbolising a son. [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. "I, the husband, call my wife who is as beautiful as the full moon in the night and is possessed of good words of praise for me, I call her to participate in all the functions of the prayers. Let her, the lady of good fortunes, listen to my words and understand them with her spirit. May she perform the functions of progeny in such a good way as she sews the clothes etc. with the needle that does not pierce the fingers when sewing. May she give me a brave son. Whatever is uttered herein is true. The oblation offered is meant for Raka and it is not me." "O full-moon like beautiful lady, and who is munificent nature, come to me with heart full of joy, and with wealth of praiseworthy advice regarding various physical and spiritual wealth. O lucky one, come to me giving a thousand kinds of fortunes. Whatever is uttered herein is true. The oblation offered is meant for Raka and it is not for me."

"My husband who is potentially vigorous has established the embryo of life in me, who is desirous of a son or vigorous child. May husband be free from all evils and accompany me with noble son." Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

Post-Natal Samskaras 4. Jatakarma

The persons concerned sprinkle water on the woman that is giving birth to a child. This is the authority from Paraskar Grihya Sutra and thus the same has been written in the Ashvalayana, Gobhiliya and Shaunakiya Grihya Sutra. At the time when delivery is going to take place, the sprinkling of water on the body of the pregnant woman should be done with the Mantras from the Yajurveda and from other sources. The ceremony proper should be performed (unless prevented by death in close family circles) before the umbilical cord of the child is severed. The father looks at the face of the newly born infant and this at once redeems his debt to his ancestors. Thereafter he must immediately bathe in cold water with his clothes on. Actually, he must jump into a river or a lake so as to cause the splashing waters to rise in the air as high as a palm tree. He is then enjoined to perform dana, dharma etc. (charity and other good deeds) as the merits earned by him at that time are of immense benefit. The father then touches the tongue of the infant with a drop of honey touched by a gold ring, uttering Mantras. This action endows the child with Medha or intelligence. Susruta praises honeys properties in this respect. A name is also given to the child, in secret, lest his enemies should practice black magic on the child with that name. Then the father utters a prayer for long life in the ear of the infant. Other Brahmins (priests) too bless the child with long life by breathing the breath of life upon the infant. The father prays to Mother Earth "May we live a hundred years." By another hymn that says: "Be a stone; be an axe (unto enemies); be the imperishable gold." The father prays that the child be endowed with strength, valour and fame. After severing the umbilical cord, the child is handed over to the mother to suckle when the husband prays to the water-god to protect the mother too. [Note: The following abridged explanations (greatly abridged extracts selected at random) are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. After offering oblations with Mantras the husband should sing Vamadevaya-gana given at the end of Samanyaprakarana. There after the father of the child should write AUM syllable on the tongue of the child with the pre-prepared golden bar dipped in ghee (clarified butter) and honey mixed properly. Doing so he should whisper VEDOASITI(your confidential name is Veda) in the right ear of the child and then, with the bar of the gold make the child lick a little of the mixed ghee and honey with the following Mantras:

"O child, for you I give this ghee and honey has been produced by God who is the producer of all the wealth of the world. May you be preserved and be protected by learned men and your parents. May you attain long life and live in this world for hundred autumns." "I establish in you the idea of God who is the giver of life. I establish in you, O child, the idea of God who is all beatitude. I establish in you, O child, the idea of God who is the source of all movements. I establish in you the idea of God who is the life of all, all beatitude and the source of all movements." "May we attain Divinity, who is the Master of all the assembled masses of the world, who is wondrous and eternal, who is desired and attainable by individual souls and also the wisdom of discrimination." After giving ghee and honey six times to the child to lick with these above listed Mantras, rice and barley in a very meager quantity should be cleaned and crushed and mixed with water. The liquid thus prepared be strained through a piece of cloth and be kept in a pot. The father of the child or a person concerned place a drop of this liquid in the mouth of the child using the thumb and the last finger taken together, pronouncing the following Mantra: "This is ghee. This is grain or cereal. This is for life and this is immortality or the nectar of eatables." [Note: This is the opinion of only Gobhiliya Grihya-Sutra and not of any other authorities] Thereafter the father of the child should whisper in the right ear of the child the following Mantras: "O child, may God, the creator of all bless you with firm wisdom. May Saraswati (the goddess of learning), the all knowing goddess bless you with firm wisdom. May the sun and the moon, stationed in space, be the source of firm wisdom for you." "The fire is the source of life, it gains this power from the wood-fuel. May you attain long life, O child, with that life giving fire." "Soma, the moon is the source of life. Knowledge and wisdom is the source of life. It gains this power with the Brahmanas, the knower of the Vedas. The enlightened persons are the source of long life. They gain this power through immortality. He seers (Rishis), possessing penetrative genius, are the source of life. They gain this power by austerity and discipline. The parents, grand-parents etc. are the source of life. They gain this power from grains, cereals and other foods. The Yajna is the source of life. It gains this power through qualified ways of performance. The ocean is the source of life. It gains this power from the rivers. With that life of moon, with that life of knowledge and wisdom, with that life of the learned persons, with that life of the seers, with that life of parents and grand-parents, with that life of yajna, with that life of ocean, O child, may you attain long life, knowledge and wisdom." These Mantras should again be recites in the left ear of the child. Thereafter, the father of the child, placing his hand very gently upon the shoulders of the child, should recite more Mantras. Of these one only is reproduced below: "O child, may you become firm and strong like a rock. May you become like an axe to destroy injustice, may you become as bright as gold with knowledge and action. O child,

you are my soul and spirit. May you not be subjected to an immature death. May you live a hundred autumns." Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

Some interesting pre-natal directions found in early texts on the subject

By V.A.K Ayer A month before the expected date of delivery, a maternity room (Sutika-griha) is selected on an auspicious day. The room should be in the south-west corner of the house; the ground should be even. The would-be mother enters the room a couple of days before the expected date, after worshipping the elders, family deities and accompanied by auspicious sounds like ringing of bells or music and also accompanied by experienced and pleasant mothers. They cheer and otherwise prepare the lady for safe delivery by means of approved diet, ointments etc. The room is made comparatively dark, because it is said, the sunlight will be too bright for the new-born babe and for ensuring for it a black retina. When the time arrives, the would be mother is made to lie on her back. Mantras are chanted outside to ward off evil spirits. An elderly person at home unties several knots of a rope suggesting the loosening of muscles tying the child in the womb. The Turyanti leaves are placed near the lady to ward off evil forces and also to expedite delivery. If the delivery is difficult, the verse from the Atharva Veda meant for it, is chanted. On safe delivery a small fire called Sutika-fire is lighted in the room to purify and protect the child and its mother. Mustard seeds and grains are thrown into the fire to counteract evil forces and evil eyes. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

5.Namakarana Samskara (Naming the child)

This is a simple ceremony in which the child is given a name. According to Asvalayana, the names of boys should have an even number of syllables. A two-syllable name will bring material prosperity and fame and a four syllable name will bring religious fame. The names of girls should have an odd number of syllables and end in "I" or "aa". They should be easy to pronounce, pleasing to the ear and auspicious. They should not suggest awkward suggestions. By traditions, names are chosen after the Nakshatras of birth (letters are allocated to the signs of the zodiac). Some people name their children after the ancestors. The practice of naming children after favourite deities began from the Puranic times. The rise of the Bhakti (devotion) movement made this practice generally popular. By naming children after gods, we are deemed to gain several opportunities for uttering Gods name whenever we call the child. The Namakarana Samskar is performed, normally on the tenth or twelfth day after birth. If there are inconveniences then it is taken to the end of the first year. After preliminaries, the parents give the offerings to gods and feel the breath of the child symbolising the awakening of its consciousness and utters in its ear three times: "Your

name is ..". The Brahmins and elders are asked to follow, calling the child by that name and blessing it. [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. The parents, Acharya (teacher) etc. give name to the child. It is written in the Gobhiliya 2/8/8-18 and the Shaunaka Grihya Sutra that a meritoriously attractive and pleasant name should be given to the child. The name should be given to the child on the 11th day leaving 10 days from the day of birth of the child or on 101st day or on the very day of the birth of the child in the beginning of the second year. On the day fixed for giving name to the child, the Yajaman (the father of the child) and the priests of the yajna invite the guests present and commence the ceremony. After reciting prayers as prescribed in 8 Mantras from Samanya Prakarana, Svastivachana, Shantikarana, and the complete procedure of Samanya Prakarana, four oblations of Aghavarajyabhagahuti; four Vyahriti oblations; eight oblations with eight Mantras beginning with Tvanno Agne from the Samanya prakarana, should be offered. Thereafter, the mother of the child, bathing the child with clean water, dressing the child with nice clean clothes, coming near the Yajnakunda (sacred fire), passing behind the father of the child, stands on the right side of him (childs father) keeping the head of the child in the north direction. She then places the child into the hands of the childs father and she herself returns from the back side of her husband (the childs father). She should take her seat in the north side keeping her face in the east. The father of the child, keeping the childs head in the north direction and feet in south direction, should give the child to his wife (the mother of the child). They then follow the procedure that has been mainly prescribed for Namakarana Samskara. A Yajna is performed. Filling the spoon with ghee, the Yajaman (father of the child) should offer one oblation (into the sacred fire) pronouncing this Mantra: "Om Prajapataye Swaha". Thereafter, four oblations one oblation with each of the Tithi, Nakshatra, Tithi Devata and Nakshatra-Devta should be offered. These Tithis and Nakshatras are the lunar dates and the stars under which the birth of the child took place. Thereafter, one oblation with the "Svishtakrit Mantra" from the Samanya Prakarana and four Vyahriti oblations from Samanya prakarana, and thus totaling five oblations in all should be offered. Then the mother taking the child in her lap sits on a nice seat and the father of the child feels the breaths being exhaled from the nostrils of the child. He then utters a few mantras.

Forbidden or prohibited names

The following female names should be avoided. Names after a constellation such as Rohini, Revati etc. should be avoided. Names of trees and plants such as Champa, Tulasi etc. Names of rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati etc.

Names formed on the basis of lowering merit like Chandali Names of mountains like Vindhyachal, Himalaya, Names of birds like Kokila, Hansa etc Names of snakes such as Sarpini, Nagin, etc Names suggestive of menial servants or other orderlies like Dasi, kinkakari etc. Names that create an awe or fear like Bheema, Bhayankari, Chandika etc The above types of names are prohibited names for female children. The scriptural authority for the above prohibitions is taken from Manu Smriti 3/9. Which reads as follows: "Let him not marry a maiden named after a constellation, a tree, or a river, nor one bearing the name of a low caste, or of a mountain, nor one named after a bird, a snake, or a slave, nor one whose name inspires terror." Distinguishing factors merit attention when giving names. For example take the names Dev or Jaydev. In the case of the child possessing a promising tendency of becoming Brahmana, or the parents desiring to make their child a Brahmana should give him the name such as Devsharma. Similarly, in the case of Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, the names be respectively given to children as Devavarma, Devgupta, and Devdas etc.. If the child is female, the name should be of one or three or five letters like Shree, Hrihi, Yashoda, Sukhada, Saubhagyaprada etc. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

6. Niskramana Samskara
[Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. The infant is taken out of the house into the climate of fresh air and sunshine. From the Gobhil Grihyasutra 2.8.1: "Chaturthemaasi Nishkramanika. Suryamudikshayati Tatchakshuriti. Also "Jananaadyastriteeyo jyoutsnastasya Triteeyaayaam."

The time of Niskramana. Two dates are mentioned.

The first date is the third lunar date of the third full-moon fortnight from the birth date of the child. The second date is the birth Tithi (date) of the child in the fourth month from the date of birth.

The procedure:
In the morning, after sunrise, the infant is bathed and dressed. The mother of the child brings the child in Yajnashala (place of Sacred Fire Ceremony), approaching from the right side of her husband faces her husband and gives the child into the hands of her husband, keeping the head of the child in the north direction and the childs face and

chest facing upwards. The mother then walks clockwise from behind her husband and takes her seat on the left side of her husband keeping her face eastward. The same ceremony and the same Mantras are used as for Jatakarma Samskaras. Thereafter the father of the child gives the child to the mother, keeping the childs head in the north direction and the feet in the south direction. Keeping silence, the husband touches the head of his wife. The child is then taken out in the sun with the following Mantra from the Yajurveda. This Mantra is recited on behalf of the infant child. "Om Tatchakshurdevahitam Purustaatshukramuccharat. Pashyema Sharadah Shatam Jeevema Sharadah Shatam Shrunuyaam Shradah Shatam Pra Bravaam Sharadha Shatamadeenaahaa syaama Sharadah Shatam Bhooyashcha Sharadah Shataat." O Benefactor of devotees! I concentrate on Thy pure energy. Grant me perfect health. May my eyes, ears, tongue and the other organs function in a strong and healthy way for a hundred years. May I not become helpless and dependent during this time. Grant me a hundred years of joyous life free from disease. After exposing the child to the sun and fresh air, the child is brought back into the Yajnashala where people bless the child with the following sentence: "Tvam Jeeva Sharadah Shatam Vardhamaanah." May you be endowed with health and strength and live a life of hundred years.

Exposing the child to the moonlit night

In the night, the mother brings the child approaching the husband from the right side, facing the husband gives the child to her husband, keeping the childs head in the north direction. The mother then walks clockwise walking behind her husband stands on his left side facing the moon. With a little water in her right hand palm a prayer is offered with the following Mantra. "Om Yadadashchandramasi Krishnam Prithivyaa Hridayam Shritam Tadaham VidvaaGvam Statpashyanmaaham Pautramagham Rudam." The water in the hand is then sprinkled to the ground. The mother then walks anticlockwise from behind her husband and facing him takes the child. Then again walking clockwise from behind her husband stands to the left of her husband keeping the childs head in the north direction and feet in the south direction. This time the father of the child takes a little water in his right hand palm and recites the same Mantra..Then he sprinkles the water to the ground. Thereafter both husband and wife, in a happy frame of mind, take the child back into the house. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

7. Annaprashana Smaskara
By V.A.K.Ayer This is the ceremony for the first feeding of cooked rice. The object of this ceremony is to pray to the gods with Vedic Mantras to bless the child with good digestive powers, good thoughts and talents. It is performed when the child is six months old which is the

weaning time. Susruta commends this weaning time as best for both the mother and the child. Offerings are made to the goddess of speech and vigour. Prayers are offered so that the childs senses have their full gratification and live a happy and contented life. The father feeds a little of the sweet food anointed with gold to the child with Mantras that say he feeds the child with food that may ensure a healthy life to the child and prevent ill-health. Apart from the efficacy or otherwise of this ceremony, its observance creates in all concerned an awareness of the cumulative needs of the child at that age in a scientific and tender manner. Its systematic observance therefore ensures the results expected especially when fortified by Mantras. [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri].

The first feeding of cereal to the child. When the child is six months old.
The authority for Annaprashana Samskar derives from Ashvalayans Grihyasutra (1.16.1,4,5). Also the authority of Paraskar Grihya Sutra. The Annaprashana ceremony should be performed at the time when the child gains strength to digest cereal and preparations made from cereals. The first feeding of cereal commences with this ceremony. He who desires his child to be brilliant and famous should feed cooked rice mixed with ghee (clarified butter) or the rice mixed with honey, curd and ghee . The samskar ceremony for the first feeding commences with prayer, followed by Svastivachana, Shanitkarana and complete Samanya Prakarana. It is indicated that this ceremony should be performed (when the child is six months old) on the day on which the child was born. The rice should be prepared thus: Rice is washed, cleaned, cooked nicely and ghee in proper quantity is mixed in the rice when it is in the cooking process. When this rice has been cooked properly and has become cold, then it should be placed in Homasthali or the tray of Homa. From this Homashali the rice is then given in small containers to the Yajman, to Purohita and Ritvij (Priests), accompanied with chanting of Mantras. The Yajmana (father of the child) then performs Agnyadhan and Samidadhana. Offers four oblations of Aghavarajyabhagahuti and four oblations of Vyahriti. Thereafter the oblation of the cooked rice that was given to the Yajman and to the priests, should be offered with one Mantras from the Rig Veda and one Mantra from the Yajur Veda. Thereafter the Yajmana mixes small quantity of curd, honey and ghee. Adds this to the rice that remained after the oblations. This should be fed to the child in minute quantity according to the desire of the child with the following Mantra from the Yajurveda: "Om Annapateannasya No Dehyanamivasya Shushminah/ Pra Pra Dataaram Taarisha Oorjvam No Dhehi Dwipade Chatushpade "O Lord of plenty (of food)! Vouchsafe us a share of food that invigorates us, and brings no sickness. O Lord, thou art our leader. Grant us nourishment (maintenance) both for bipeds and for quadrupeds."

Thereafter the child is blessed by the mother and father of the child and also by the priests, the elders and the guests. The child is blessed with the sentence: "Twam Annapatihi Annavo Vardhamano Bhooyaaha" meaning "O child, May you be endowed by Gods grace with Anna (grains or food). May you grow in strength and may you live a long life." Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

8. Chudakarma

First time cutting of hair, 1st year or 3rd year By Sri V.A.K.Ayer This ceremony of the first tonsure is to be performed in the third year of the male child. . Also it initiates the maintenance of a Sikha (tuft of hair on the head) as a religious necessity after that age. According to Susruta, a tuft of hair on the head protects a vital part on the head. Susruta and Charaka confirm that removing the hair, excess nails etc., contribute to strength, vigour, longevity, purity and beauty of the individual. An auspicious day is selected for the ceremony. A porcupine quill, Darbha grass, and a dummy razor are the specific materials used by the father for symbolically cutting the childs hair first. The gist of the Mantra used in this particular ceremony is: "May the child live long beyond a hundred years. May his eye sight remain unimpaired. May he become prosperous and wealthy so that he can feed (and cater to the needs of others) liberally. May his digestion be perfect. Let him become a Varchasvi (prominent)." [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. From Ashvalayana Grihyasutra: "Triteeye Varshe Chaulam. Uttaratoagne Vreervihiyavamaashatilaanaam prithakpoorna Sharaavaani Nidadhaati." From Paraskara Grihyasutra: "Samvatsavarikasya Choodaakaranam." Gobhiliya Grihyasutra is also of the same opinion. This ceremony should be performed in the third year or in the 1st year from the date of the childs birth. The dates for this ceremony should be chosen during the northern solstice and during the bright fortnight of the moons phase.

The procedure:
A hairdresser (Barber) is invited to this ceremony. Four earthenware pots are brought to the Yajnashala (place of sacred fire Ceremony). They contain rice, barley, Mung and in the fourth Sesumum (Til). These four pots are placed in the north side of the Yajnavedi (Havan Kund). A Havan Ceremony is performed.

Thereafter, addressing the hairdresser, the following Mantra from the Atharvaveda is recited. "Om Aayamagantsavita kshurenoshnena vaaya Udakenehi. Aadityaa Rudraa Vasava Undantu Sa Chetasah Somasya Ragno Vapata Prachetasah." This barber, who is competent and swift has come with his razor (or a pair of scissors). Using lukewarm water, may the learned man (barber) known as Rudra and Vasu make the hair wet with utmost care and (thereafter) cut the hair like the king of Soma (as the Soma herbs are cut with care). The father of the child mixes hot and cold water reciting the following Mantra. "Om Ushnena Vaaya Udakenehi." Let the hot water be mixed with cold water. Thereafter, applying to the hair a mixture of the lukewarm water and a little butter or curd to moisten the hair of the child. The following mantra is recited. From Atharvaveda: "Om Aditihi Shashru Vapatvaapa Undantu Varchasaa Chikitsu Prajapati Deerghaayutvaaya Chakshase." Let this unbreakable razor (or scissors) cut the locks (hair on the head), let the waters with their moistening (softening) power soften the hair of the child, May the Lord of creatures (God) remove disease from this child. May this child attain to long life. May this child acquire knowledge. From Paraksara Grihyasutra: "Om Savitra Prasoota Daivyaa Aapa Undantu Te Tanu Deerghayutvaaya Varchase." O Child! Let the mighty celestial waters produced by the sun drench your head. May you attain a long life. May you acquire knowledge. The father takes a comb in his hand and using the comb, gathers some hair from the right side of the childs head. Taking three blades of the Darbha (kusa) grass, while touching the hair with the grass and slightly pressing the hair against the grass, the following Mantra is recited. From Gobhiliya Grihyasutra, 219.14 "Om Oshadhe Traayasvainam." Let the herb protect this child. Then holding the razor in a hand the father recites the following Mantra From Gobhiliya Grihyasutra, 219.13 -1.6.4 "Vishnorda Ashtroasi " This instrument (razor) is the means in the performance of this Yajna (Samskara) of Chudakarma. From the Yajurveda: "Om Shivo Namaasi Svadhitiste Pitaa Namaste (Astu) Ma Ma Hrimsihi." This instrument (razor) is for auspiciousness. It is made of steel (metal) that is as strong as Vajra (a weapon). Let this razor be fit for cutting the hair. Let it not cause any pain whatsoever.

From The Yajurveda: "Om Svadhite Mai Nam hrimsihi" Let not this steel razor inflict any harm to this child. From Yajurveda: "Om Nivarttayaam Yaayusheannaadyaaya Prananaaya Raayasposhaaya Soooprajaastvaaya Suviryaaya." O Child! I perform this tuft-ceremony so that you can attain to long life, constructive power, strength and wealth, good progeny and vigour. The father of the child then holds the childs locks in a loop made from the Kusa grass and applies the first cut with the following Mantra. From the Atharvaveda: The meaning of the Mantra is: "O priest and all the learned guests! This competent barber shaves this child by the same razor (or scissors) that he uses to shave the head of our glorious King and the heads of noble men (men of merit). May this child be prosperous, wealthy and have good progeny." All the hair cut by the razor or scissors, together with Kusa grass and the leaves of Mimosa (Shami) should be placed in an earthenware container. All lose hair pieces on the floor should be carefully picked up and placed in this container. (The detailed procedure entails the father cutting a little of the hair first from the right side of the childs head. Appropriate Mantras being recited. Then the same sequence is followed for the left side of the head. The third time from the back of the head The fourth time again the father cuts a little hair from the back of the hair.) Thereafter the father of the child blesses the child (with Mantra) by placing his right hand on the head of the child. Then with the following Mantra, the father gives the razor (and scissors) to the barber. From Ashvalayana Grihyasutra, 1.17.15 "Om Yatkshurena Marchayata Supeshasaa Vaptaa Vapasi Keshaan Shundhi Shiro Maasyayuhu Pra Moshihi." O Barber! You are the cutter of the hair. Cut and shave the head of the child with that swift soft razor. Do not decrease (cut or shorten) the childs life. The father then tells the barber to sharpen his razor on his sharpening stone. The father then requests the barber to gently drench the childs head with lukewarm water and that he should shave attentively with smooth hand, avoiding any cut from the razor. With these words he leads the barber to the north of the Yajna-Kunda. He sits with the child facing eastward. The barber shaves the childs head. A little tuft of hair may be left on the head. It is considered more proper to shave all the hair in the first year. A little tuft of hair should be left on the head when Chudakarma Samskara is performed in the third year. The barber is given the four earthenware containers filled with cereal grains together with clothes, money etc. The barber carries the cut hair together with the Darbha grass, Shami leaves etc.to some remote place e.g., river side or in the woods; there to bury these in the ground. A member of the family or a friend can accompany the barber.

The father then rubs a little butter or curd on the head of the child. The child is then bathed. When the child is dressed, the father sits with the child facing eastward and chants Mahadeva Gana. The guests, before leaving, bless the child saying: "Om Tvam Jeeva Sharadah Shatam Vardhamaanah." O Child! May you live a hundred autumns growing in strength and vigour. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

9. Karnavedha

Piercing the ears in the third or fifth year [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. From Katyayana Griyhasutra 1.2 "Karnavedho Varshe Triteeye Panchame Vaa." The piercing of the childs ear should be done in the third or the fifth year (from the date of birth.) An experienced physician who is a specialist and who has studied the treatise of Charaka and of Sushruta is invited to this ceremony. In the morning, after bathing and getting the child dressed with clothes and ornaments, the mother brings the child to the Yajnashala. A Havan ceremony (Sacred Fire Ceremony) is performed with Mantras from the Samanya Prakarana. The physician then should pierce the right ear first with the following Mantra: From the Yajurveda: 25.21 "Om Bhadram Karnebhihi Srunuyaama Devaa Bhadram Pashyemaakshabhiryajatraa Sthirairangai Stushtumam Sastanoobhirvyashemahi Devahitam Yadaayuhu." O sociable learned persons, may we with our ears listen to what is good, and with our eyes see what is good. With limbs and bodies firm may we, extolling God lead a life conducive to the good of the sages. [Translation by Devi Chand, M.A.] He physician should pierce the left ear with the following Mantra: From the Yajurveda 29.40. "Vakshyanti Veda ganeeganti Karnam Priyam Sakhaayam Parishasvajaanaa Yoshevaa Shing Kte Vitataadhi Dhanvatrjyaa eeyam samane paarayanti." This bow string strained on the bow whispers like a woman, and protects us in the combat, as a wife fain to speak, offering advice, embraces her affectionate, praiseworthy husband. The physician then inserts thin wire like objects in the freshly pierced ears to prevent the holes from closing up. The physician then applies healing ointments to the ears. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

10. A. Upanayana and B. Vedarambha Sacred Thread and Commencing the Study of the Vedas

Investiture of Sacred Thread (Janoi)

By V.A.K.Ayer The thread giving ceremony is performed in the eighth, eleventh and twelfth years of the male child calculated from the date of conception, for the first three Varnas (Brahman eighth year, Kshatriya eleventh year and Vaisya twelfth year) respectively. Etymologically, the word Upanayana means taking the child to the teacher or to Gayatri Mantra, according to some. This ceremony gives the child a second birth (Dwija), as it were, where the Guru (teacher) becomes his father and Gayatri becomes his mother. The investiture with the Sacred thread entitles the child to study the Vedas and participate in Vedic functions. In essence, the child commences his journey on the road to spiritual life. This is contrasted with a life of eating, sleeping and procreating, which kinds of life animals also live. The Gurukula (Boarding school) type of education seeks to mould the child for an ideal life. Gayatri is the most powerful of the Mantras. Initiation into it is described as Brahmopadesa. It leads to the realisation of Brahman (the Supreme Reality). Along with this Mantra the Guru imparts his Shakti (power) too to the child; hence the Guru and the disciple are insulated by means of silken clothes at the time of the initiation. The materials used in this ceremony are full of mystical significance. The Yajnopavita or the holy Thread consists of three folds, symbolising the three Gunas Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. It reminds one of the threefold debt one owes to ones manes (ancestors), Rishis (Seers who realised spiritual wisdom), and gods. The three threads also reminds one of the three letters of Pranava- AUM as also Brahma, Vishnu and Siva (Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer). While investing it, the Acharya (the principal teacher) asks for strength, illumination and long life for the boy. The deerskin attached to the thread signifies spiritual and intellectual pre-eminence. The Kaupina or undercloth is the garment of immortality. The girdle (Mekhala) shows that the three Vedas (Rigveda, Samaveda and Yajurveda) encircle the boy. Mekhala is "the daughter of Faith and sister of Rishis," protecting his purity and warding off evil. The staff (stick) of palasa wood given to the boy to hold makes him a guardian of the Vedas, and gives him long life, lustre and holiness. Before initiating the boy into the Gayatri Mantra, the Guru (the spiritual father) pours water in the joined palms of the boy. This is to symbolise purifying him before receiving the Mantra. The boy is asked to see the Sun. He is asked to learn from the Sun unswerving duty and discipline. The boy offers prayers to the Sun for attainment of virtues. By mounting a stone the boy is asked to develop firmness of resolve and steadfastness in his duties and studies, and develop physical strength and excellent health. During the performance of the Samskara of Upanayana, certain Vratas or vows are undertaken. These are the vows 1. To uphold vows 2.To attain prominence in the world 3.To engage in creative activities 4.To perform charity 5.To please the gods 6.To please fellow-men 7.To protect subjects or dependants 8.To procreate when married 9.To keep equipoise 10.To serve the elders etc.

The invocation of the three entities Pranava, Medha and Sraddha God, Intelligence and Faith in this function is the coping stone of the edifice of Brahmacharya or bachelorhood, whose daily chore is regulated by good habits, collectively going by the name Ahnika (Sandhya, Samidadhana Havan etc.). One cannot conceive of a more thoughtful scheme of time-table calculated for the development of character in the young. [Note: The following abridged explanations are from the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (The founder of The Arya Samaj). The translation is by Acharya Vaidyanath Shastri]. From Ashvalayana Grihyasutra 1-19-1-6. "Ashtame Varshe Brahmanamupanayet (1). Garbhaashtame va (2). Ekaadashe Kshatriyam (3). Dvaadashe Vaishyam (4). Aashodashaad Braahmanasyaanateetah Kaala (5). Shraadhhaavimshaatkshatriyasya, Aachaturvishaaddvaisyasya, Ata urdhvam Patitasavitrikaa Bhvanti." (6) The Brahman, the child of the Brahman, or the child promising to be a Brahman, should be invested with the sacred Thread in the eighth year from the date of birth or from the date of conception. The Kshatriya, the child of Kshatriya, or the child promising to be Kshatriya, should be invested with the Sacred Thread in the eleventh year from the date of birth or from the date of conception. Vaisya, the child of Vaisya or the child promising to be Vaisya, should be invested with the Sacred Thread in the twelfth year from the date of his birth or from the date of conception. Positively the children of Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaisya should respectively be invested with the Sacred Thread before the years 16th, 22nd and 24th of their age. If they are not invested with the Sacred Thread during these years, then they are regarded or treated as having fallen from their duties. Similar sayings are found in the Paraskara Grihyasutra etc. From Manusmriti "The time for the Savitri (Gayatri) initiation of a Brahmana does not pass until the completion of the sixteenth year (after conception), of a Kshatriya until the completion of the twenty-second year, and of a vaisya until the completion of the twenty-fourth." 2.38. "After those periods, men of these three castes who have not received the sacrament at the proper time, become Vratyas (outcastes), excluded from the Savitri initiation and despised by the Aryans." 2.39. "With such men, if they have not been purified according to the rule, let no Brahmana ever, even in times of distress, form a connection either through the Veda or by marriage." 2.40.

The time for the Yajnopavita Samskar.

From Shatpath Brahmana, 2.13.5. "Vasante Braahmanamupanayet. Grishne Raajanyam. Sharadi Vaishyam. Sarvakaalameke." The child of Brahmana in the spring season. The child of Kshatriya in the summer season and the child of Vaisya in autumn be respectively be invested with Sacred Thread. Or the investiture of Sacred Thread can be performed in all seasons. (Morning time is the best period for the performance of this ceremony.)

Limited Fasting
"Payovrato Braahmano Yavaagoovrato Raajanya Aamikshaavrato Vaishya." For three days (or for at least one day) prior to the day of the ceremony, the child should drink only milk (once a day or more than once a day). The child of a Kshatriya should eat only barley gruel (Yavaag), prepared from crushed barley, boiled in water with sugar to taste. The child of Vaisya should complete his fast by eating only Aamikshaa. This is sometimes called Shrikhanda or Sikhanda. This is prepared from cottage cheese four parts, milk one part, sugar to taste and saffron (Keshar). This preparation is strained through a piece of cloth. The children of the three Varnas, as describes above, should eat only those foods prescribed for them respectively when they feel hungry and should not eat or drink any thing else.

The procedure
The utensils to be used in the Yajna etc. should be collected and appropriately sorted and cleansed a day before the ceremony. On the day of the ceremony, everything that is needed for the Yajna as mentioned in the Samanya Prakarana should be arranged by the Yajna Kunda. The boy to be invested with the Sacred Thread should have his head shaved, bathed and should dress appropriately. Either the father of the child or the Acharya, having fed the child with sweets, eatables etc. leads him to his seat to the west of the Yajnavedi (Havan Kunda) , keeping his face eastward. The father of the child and the priests of the Yajna as mentioned in the Samanya Prakarana, should take their seats in the prescribed manner perform Aachaman (sipping of water) and Angasparsha (touching various limbs with water). (Om Amrito Pastaramasi Swaha etc. and Om Vangme Asyestu etc.) Thereafter, the Acharya conducting the ceremony should make the child pronounce the following sentence from the childs own mouth. "May I observe the discipline of celibacy and thus may I be a celibate." The Acharya then pronounces the following Mantra and gives to the child a garment and a Upavastra to wear. From Paraskara Grihyasutra, 2.2.7. "Om yenendraaya brihaspatirvaasah Paryadadhaadamritam. Ten Tvaa Paridadhaamyaayushe Deerghaayutvaaya Balaaya Varchase." O Child! I give this garment to you to wear for your long life, strength and vigour. This is in accordance with the tradition whereby the Acharya gives a strong and durable garment to his disciple. Thereafter the child holds the Sacred Thread in his hand and sits in front of the Acharya. The Acharya invests the child with the Sacred Thread with the following Mantra and places (makes the child wear) the Sacred Thread on the left shoulder and slung across under the right armpit. "Yagnopavitam Param Pavitram Prajaapatayeryatsahajam Purastaat. Aayushyamagr Yam Pratimuncha Shubhram Yajnopavitam Balamastu Tejah. Yajnopaveetamasi Yagnasya Tvayajyapayaveetenopanaahayaami."

This Yajnopavita (Sacred Thread) is very sacrosanct. Prajapati Himself has sanctioned this Sacred Thread. I invest you with this white Yajnopavita (Sacred Thread). This is the main (most important ) article for you. May it bring you strength and vigour. This sacred Thread is really a Sacred Thread. I tie you with this for the purpose of performing Yajna. The Acharya then performs the Yajna (Havan) ceremony with the child seated on the right side of the Acharya. Some of the oblations (ahutis) are to be offered by the child. Some of the Mantras used during this ceremony: "Om Agne Vratapate Vratam Charishyami Tatte Prabraveemi Tatchhakeyam. Tenrdhyaasimidamahamarnritaat SatyamUpaimi Svaaha. Idamagnaye Idanna Mama. Om Vayo Vratapate Svaaha. Idam Vaayave Idanna Mama. Om Surya Vratapate Svaaha. Idam SuryaayaIdanna Mama. Om Chandra Vratapate Svaaha. Idam Chandraaya Idanna Mama. Om Vrataanaam Vratapate Svaaha. Idamindraaya Vratapataye Idanna Mama." O Self-refulgent God! Thou art the master of vows. I declare before Thee, I shall observe the vows and disciplines of celibacy. May I be enabled to observe this vow. May I prosper with this vow and attain the highest truth. Whatever has been uttered herein is true. The oblation offered is meant for Agni and it is not for me. (Oblations are offered to all moving god Vayu, All effulgent Surya, all blissful Chandra, the lord of all vows and laws Indra). The Acharya then sits to the north of the Yajna Kunda keeping his face eastward. The child sits in front of the Acharya keeping his face westward. Looking at the child, the Acharya should recite the following Mantra. The meaning of the Mantra : O Self-refulgent God! We have received excellent cooperation from this child. Kindly lead us to the company of good men and good teachers. Together with this youth, may we follow the path of knowledge with ease. May this child do whatever is auspicious for him and for all. Addressing the Acharya, the child says : O Acharya! I have resolved to observe the disciplines of continence. Kindly admit me and invest me with the Sacred Thread. The Acharya says: What is your name? The child states his name. The Acharya makes the child hold water in his right hand palm. The Acharya recites Mantras. The waters are the source of happiness. May the waters be helpful to us in attaining grains and may they help us to retain good eye sight. Let the pleasant essence of waters be useful to us, like the mothers who, for the wellbeing of their children, give them their breasts to suckle..

Let the waters enable us to grow cereals and herbaceous plants. Let these be used for the welfare of our progeny. The Acharya then takes water in his right hand palm and empties this water in the right hand palm of the child, mixing the two waters. This is done while the Acharya chants Mantra. For our maintenance we accept whatever good food has been provided by God, who is the mighty power and Creator of the world. We also accept the strength and might of allpowerful God who maintains and preserves the existence of all the objects of creation. The Acharya, chanting Mantra, then makes the child empty the water from his palm into a container. O Child! I admit you in this life so that you can attain power and prosperity bestowed by God, who is the Creator of the world. I hold your hand in my own with the firmness and strength of the vital breaths called Prana and Apana and with the firmness and strength of Pushan, the all preserving vitality of the body. The Acharya takes water in his right hand palm and empties it into the childs right hand palm. Holding the childs hand the Acharya chants Mantra. O Child! Your hand has been grasped by Savitar, the mighty teacher who is the preserver of all knowledge. The child then empties the water from his palm into the container. For the third time, the same procedure is followed, the Acharya giving water into the palm of the child. O Child! Again, the Self-refulgent God is your Acharya. (God is your real teacher). Thereafter, the Acharya takes the child outside and while standing and facing the sun shows the sun to the child with chanting of Mantras. O Creator and Lord of the world! This child is the Brahmacharin (student observing celibacy) of Thine. Please protect and preserve him. May he perform his duties well. The Acharya returns to the Yajna Mandap with the child; both seating to the north of the Yajnakund. The child sits facing the Acharya. The Acharya pronounces the following two Mantras. "Om Yuvaa suvaasaahaa Pariveeta Aagaatsa oo Shreyan Bhavati Jaayamanah" This child (pronounce the name of the child), possessing strong physique, dressed in nice garments, wearing the sacred Thread, and who seated before me, has taken the second birth. May he (successfully study) the Vedas and acquire respect." "Om Suryaasyaavritamanvaavarttasva Asou." O Child, You circumambulate yore Acharya who is the sun (source) of knowledge. (As the sun is the source of life so the Acharya is the source of knowledge.) The child circumambulates the Acharya. The Acharya then places his right hand upon the right shoulder of the child, covering his hand with a piece of cloth. A Mantra is chanted about the vital airs. Then the Acharya touches the childs belly, heart, again the right shoulder with various Mantras.

O Child, I appoint you (to study and) attain the knowledge of God and follow Gods commands. The Acharya touches the childs left shoulder, breast, saying Mantras. Let the learned men of firm intentions and swift intellects, attaining the highest feats of knowledge through their minds and spirits, elevate this student to high status of genius and character. O disciple! Make one (fine tune) your mind and heart with my mind always, and becoming fully attentive grasp my words with affection and understand the meaning of these words. May God, who is the Master of Vedic speech, unite you with me in thought and action according to your vow from this very day. And the child replies in the affirmative. Then the Acharya asks the student: "What is your name?" The Student says : "Sir, my name is " Acharya: "Whose Brahmachari are you?" Student: "Yours, Sir." The Acharya pronounces the following Mantra. "Indrasya Brahmah Achaaryyasya, Agnihi Achaaryastvaahamaachaaryastava Asou." O Child! You are the Brahmachari of Almighty God. The Self-refulgent God is your Acharya. I am your Acharya as Gods representative. Further Mantras: O Child! You are the Brahmachari of Prajapati. You are the Brahmachari of Prana, God who is the all pervading Soul. Prajapati invests you with the Sacred Thread for your happiness. I also urge you to follow the command of Prajapati. O Child! I urge you to attain the knowledge of Prajapati who is the Lord of all creatures. I urge you to attain the knowledge of the might sun. I urge you to attain the knowledge of liquids and herbs, of the earth and the heavenly regions, of all the physical and spiritual forces. May you be successful in maintaining peace and tranquility among all beings. Upon the completion of the Upanayana ceremony, if time permits, the Vedarambha (commencing the study of the Vedas) ceremony should preferably take place on the very same day. Otherwise, the Vedarambha ceremony can take place on another day. The mother, the father, the Acharya and other guests then bless the child together with the following words. "Om tvam jeeva Sharadah Shatam Vardhamaanah. Aayushmaan Tejasvee varchasvee Bhooyaaha." O Child! May you grow in strength and vigour and live a hundred autumns. May you become long lived, brilliant and radiant. [Related article: "Sacred Thread" <Click here] Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

10 B. Vedarambha
To observe the disciplines and to commence and undertake the studies of the Vedas and their branches (systems and limbs known as Sangopanga) is called Vedarambha.

In the morning, the student, after bathing and wearing clean clothes, sits to the west of the Yajnavedi (Havankund), keeping his face eastward. The Acharya begins the ceremony with Achaman Mantra (sipping of water) and Angasparsha Mantra (touching various organs with water) followed by Ishwar Upasana (prayer), Svatsivachan, Santikarana. The Havan ceremony (Sacred fire ceremony) is then commenced. The student participates in the Yajna and offers ahutis (oblations). During the Havan ceremony, before the Purnahuti, Vishesh Mantras (Mantras used for Vedarambha ) are used. Some of these Mantras are described below. O famous Acharya! Please make me earn fame in the field of education. O Acharya! Enable me to attain to your status of learning and prominence and a preserver of knowledge, Yajanas etc. The student then standing on the south side of the Yajnakunda and keeping his face northward, takes a samidha (small wooden stick), dips it in ghee, and offers it in the middle of the fire as oblation with the following Mantra. I am offering this ahuti (oblation) to add to the burning flame of the Yajna that is mighty in nature and present in all the created beings and objects of the world. As this fire blazes forth with the samidha (wood-fuel), so may I shine with wisdom, knowledge of the Vedas and of Brahman (God) and may I be endowed with vigour, long life, progeny and wealth. Grant long life to my Acharya and to his sons. May I be enriched with high intellectual power. May I not be arrogant to anyone. Grant me prominence, vigour, divine merits and food and grains. Two further oblations are offered with samidha dipped in ghee. The student now sits in the west side of the Vedi facing the east. Applying a little of the shesh water on the palms of his hands, holds them by the fire warming the hands. With each of the seven mantras, he should apply the water over his face and on the head. 1.This fire is the preserver of the body. May it preserve my body. 2. This fire is the giver of life. May it grant me long life. 3. This fire is the giver of brilliancy. May it grant me brilliancy. 4. Whatever gets exhausted in my body, let this fire replenish that. 5. May Savita grant me wisdom.May the goddess Saraswati grant me wisdom. 6. Let the teacher and preacher, wearing garlands, give us knowledge. The student then touches various organs with various Mantras. "Om Vak Cha Ma Aapyaayataam." (touches the mouth) "Om Praanascha Ma Aapyaayataam." (touches the nose) "Om Chakshushcha Ma Aapyaayataam." (touches the eyes)

"Om Shrotrancha Ma Aapyaayataam." (touches the ears) "Om Yasho Balancha Ma Aapyaayaataam." (Touches both arms) O Lord! May my organ of speech be sound and well developed. May my nose, eyes, ears be sound and well developed. May my arms, which are the source of fame and strength, be strong and develop properly. The student then meditates (offers prayer) with the following Mantra. May Agni, the Self-refulgent God give me wisdom, progeny and strength, May Indra, the almighty god, bestow upon me the favour of wisdom, progeny, and properly developed organs. May Surya, the all controlling god, grant me wisdom, progeny and brilliance. O effulgent and powerful Lord, grant me effulgence, power and prominence. Now the student walks to the north side of the Yajnakunda. Facing the east, he kneels on his knees before the Acharya. Balakoktihi: (The student says:) "Aadhihi Bhuhu Savitri Bho Anubroohi." O Acharya! Please instruct me The Gayatri Mantra, the subject matter of which is Savitar, the sun. Please teach me. The Acharya then places a piece of cloth on his own shoulder and on the shoulder of the student, and holding both hands of the student in his hands, teaches the Gayatri Mantra to the student in three parts. First part. The Acharya makes the student pronounce the following, word by word.: "Om Bhurbhuvah Svah Tatsaviturvarenyam." Second part. "Om Bhurbhuvah Svah Tatsaviturvarenyam Bargo Devasya Dhimahi." Third part. "Om Bhurbhuvah Svah Tatsaviturvarenyam Bargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat." The Acharya then explains in short the meaning of the Gayatri Mantra. Thereafter the student affirms vows. (The same vows as for the Sacred Thread ceremony). The student is given a girdle and a wooden staff (rod, well- made, smooth and free of any defect). For the Brahmana boy, the girdle be made of Darbha or Munja grass, for the Kshatriya boy, the girdle be made from Dhanusa grass and for the Vaisya boy, the girdle be made from Jute. The Brahmana boy should be given a rod (stick) made of Palash or Bilva wood. The length of the rod to extend from the ground to top of the head. The Kshatriya boy should be given a rod made from Vat or Khadir wood. The length of the rod from the ground till his eyebrow. The Vaisya student should be given a rod made from Peepul or Gular wood. The length of the rod to reach from the ground till the tip of his nose.

In addition the student is given a deerskin to sit on, one pot or container to hold water, and two small pots or containers. The student, holding the rod, says: This staff (rod) that I hold, I accept it specially for the attainment of long life, knowledge of the Vedas, for (adherence to) disciplines and strength of continence.

Fathers advice to his son

The father of the celibate student then gives general information regarding the life of a Brahmacharin (celibate student) and preaches the code of conduct. [Scriptural sources Gobhil Grihyasutra, Ashvalayans Grihyasutra, Paraskar Grihyasutra] You realise that you are a Brahmachari (celibate) from today. You must always sip a little clean (pure) water and say your food prayer before taking meals. Always keep away from evil acts and do all pious and righteous acts. You do not ever sleep in day time. Remaining under the guidance and control of your Acharya, you will always with perseverance learn the Vedas with all their limbs and sub-limbs. Always follow the rules of Dharma (righteousness) under your Acharya. You do not ever do anything of Adharma (unrighteous), even if such request be made by your Acharya even (to do anything of adharma). You must abstain from anger. Always speak the truth (do not tell a lie.) Always keep away from the eight kinds of acts of passion. [Note: these eight acts of passion are: 1.To think of a woman. 2.To gossip about woman. 3.To touch a woman. 4.To play with a woman. 5.To gaze at a woman. 6.To embrace a woman. 7.To be alone with a woman. 8.To cohabit with a woman.] Sleep only on the ground and not on beds with four legs. Never be in the habit of Kaushilava (bad songs sung or played on musical instruments, dances; abominable acts, use of perfumes etc.). Always observe rules of moderation in bathing, eating, sleeping, and keeping awake. The same applies to greed, undue indulgence, fear and grief. Always wake up and rise from bed during the early hours of Brahmamuhurta (between 4 and 6 in the morning). Perform your daily ablutions. You must take a bath everyday. Twice every day you must do acts of communion with God, pray, meditate and practice Yogic systems. Do not eat meat. Do not eat dry, coarse cereals. Do not drink intoxicating drinks. Do not ride on bullocks, horses, elephants, camels etc. You are not to stay in any village (any place inhabited by people) except in Gurukula (Gurukula is a system of boarding school within the compounds of which stay only the teachers and the students). As a Brahmachari you do not use shoes or umbrella. Do not play with the organ of procreation (so as to prevent the discharge of semen). By conserving the semen in the body it transforms into Ojas, opening the full potential of

your mind and intellect, becoming the source of attaining knowledge of the Vedas and all their branches. Do not massage your body with oil etc. Do jot use mustard-paste (cosmetics) for the beauty of the body. Do not eat foods that are very sour like tamarind etc., very pungent like chilies etc., very astringent like haldi, very purgative like Jamalgota, very saltish foods, or very acidic foods. Do your daily chores with care and regularity and be fully attentive to the task of learning (acquiring knowledge and wisdom). You will always possess good character. You should never be extravagant in talk. Cultivate good behaviour and develop courtesies when meeting people, sitting in assemblies. Keep yourself bound by the duties of wearing the girdle, keeping the wooden staff (stick) and the rules of mendicancy. [Note: A Brahmans child, when asking for alms from a man should address him "Bhavaan Bhikshaam Dadaat." When asking for alms from a woman, he should address "Bhavati Bhikshaam Dadaatu." The Kshatriya student to men "Bhikshaam Bhavaan Dadaatu." To women "Bhikshaam Bhavati Dadaatu." Vaisya student should address men, "Bhikshaam dadaat Bhavaan" To woman, "Bhikshaan Dadaat Bhavati."] Do not deviate from the daily performance of: your daily bath, daily prayer and meditation, Prostrate with reverence before your Acharya every morning and every evening. These are the deeds of your daily performance. You should abstain from acts that have been prohibited. The student then with folded hands bows (or prostrates before his father). The student addressing his father says: "I shall certainly act according to your instructions and advice." Thereafter the celibate student circumambulates the fire of the Yajnakunda and stands in the west of the Yajnavedi. He then asks for alms from his mother, father, brother, sister, maternal uncle, mother's sister, uncle etc., who do not hesitate in giving alms. The student hands over all the alms to the Acharya. The Acharya takes some wheat cereals from the alms and gives to the student. The Acharya then asks for some cooked rice for offering oblations. Mixing with a little ghee, three oblations are offered with the following Mantras. Having worshipped with truthful action and speech, God, who is wondrous, the lovely friend of the soul, May I acquire wisdom that discriminates between truth and untruth. -Yajurveda 32.13. "Tatsavituvarenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat" Svaha, Idam Savitar Idam Na Mama. "O creator of the universe! O All holy and worthy of adoration. May we contemplate Thy adorable Self. May Thou guide our understanding." Whatever has been uttered herein is true. The oblation offered is meant for Savitar and it is not for me. -Yajurveda 22.9

"Om Rishibhyah Svaaha. Idam Rishibhyah Idam Na Mama." We pay homage to Rishis (seers) who study the Vedas and understand their meanings. Whatever has been uttered herein is true. The oblation offered is for the Rishis and it is not for me. -Ashvalayana Grihyasutra a 1.22.14 Thereafter the Acharya offers a fourth ahuti with the Swishtakrit Homahuti Mantra "Om Yadasya Karmanah Tyariricham " Thereafter the Havan ceremony is brought to conclusion with the rest of the Mantras and the Purnahuti. The student seats facing the east, addresses the Acharya: "Amuk (mention here the name of the family) Gotrotpanno Aham Bho Bhavantam Abhivaadaye" - Gobhil Grihyasutra 2/10/25 I, born in the genealogy of ..(name of family) salute you (prostrate before you), O my teacher. The student then prostrates before the acharya. The Acharya says: "Ayusmaan Vidyaavan Bhava Saumya." (O my dear disciple!) May you be long lived and may you attain knowledge with wisdom. After the Acharya has given his blessings to the Brahmachari, some of the food remaining from the Yajna (cooked rice, cereals, sweetmeats etc.) should be give to the Acharya, and to the student to eat. Thereafter, all the guests are served meals prepared for this function. Before leaving, people bless the student with the following sentence: "O Child! May you, by the grace of God, become learned, strong in body and soul, blessed with skills, vigour and excellent health. After having attained knowledge of the Vedas and all their branches, may you come back from the Gurukula, with the desire of seeing us."

(From The Atharvaveda)

The qualified student

The Brahmachari (celibate student), shining with knowledge, becoming fully fledged, upon completion of his studies in the Gurukula, completing the state of Brahmacharya called Purvasamudra, enters immediately into the householders life called Uttarsamudra (gets married). He encourages all people to achieve their goals. He exerts continuously to achieve the goal of life (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). He makes the world happy with his speech of righteousness and truth.

Only that is the king (qualities needed to lead a nation)

Only that is the king who by observing austerities, strict disciplines of celibacy, has become a perfectly learned man (with knowledge and wisdom), perfectly educated (in

arts and sciences) and who is a symbol of good conduct, who is self controlled and can rule the country in various ways (all the various departments of government).

Only that is the Acharya (qualities needed to become a teacher)

In the same manner, only that is the Acharya who by observing austerities and strict disciplines of celibacy, leading a life of continence, has become a perfectly learned man (with knowledge and wisdom), perfectly educated (in arts and sciences) and who is a symbol of good conduct. Only such a person can desire to teach a celibate student . Only such a person can become the Acharya in the real sense.

Education for girls

As the boys, completing the life of perfect Brahmachari, attaining the complete knowledge of the Vedas and all their branches, knowledge of all the sciences, and in the full bloom of youth, are now fit to wed girls, so the girls, completing the courses of all sciences with perfect disciplines of continence, in the full bloom of their youth, should wed young men. [Note: Women are barred from the study of the Vedas. Therefore, study of the sciences only is mentioned. Study of the Vedas is not mentioned here. The Laws of Manu, IX, 18 states: "For women no sacramental rite is performed with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women who are destitute of strength and destitute of the knowledge of Vedic texts, are as impure as falsehood itself, that is a fixed rule." Also See Page "Women" <click here]

11. Samavartana Upon completion of studies, the teacher instructs the pupil (From Taittiriya Upanishad, 1.11)
Translations by Swami Nikhilananda, Sri Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York Having taught the Vedas, the teacher thus instructs the pupil: Speak the truth. Practise Dharma (religious duties; righteousness and ritualistic worship). Do not neglect the study of the Vedas. Having brought to the teacher the gift desired by him, (enter the householders life and see that) the line of progeny is not cut off. Do not swerve from the truth. Do not swerve from Dharma. Do not neglect (personal) welfare. Do not neglect prosperity (refers to righteous actions by which wealth is earned). Do not neglect the study and teaching of Vedas. Do not neglect your duties to the gods and the Manes. Treat your mother as god (Matru Devo Bhava). Treat your father as god (Pitru Devo Bhava). Treat your teacher as god (Aacharya Devo Bhava). Treat your guest as god (Atithi Devo Bhava). Whatever deeds are faultless, these are to be performed- not others. Whatever good works have been performed by us, those should be performed by you- not others. Those Brahmins who are superior to us- you should comfort them by giving them seats. Whatever is to be given should be given with faith, not without faith- according to ones means, with modesty, with fear (of the scriptures or of sin), with sympathy. Now, if there arises in your mind any doubt concerning conduct, you should conduct yourself in such matters as Brahmins would conduct themselves- Brahmins who are

competent to judge, who (of their own accord) are devoted to good deeds, and are not urged to their performance by others, and who are not too severe, but are lovers of Dharma. Now, with regard to persons spoken against, you should conduct yourself in such a way as Brahmins would conduct themselves- Brahmins who are competent to judge, who (of their own accord) are devoted to good deeds and that are not urged to their performance by others, and who are not too severe, but are lovers of Dharma. This is the rule. This is the teaching. This is the secret wisdom of the Vedas. This is the command of God. This you should observe. This alone should be observed. Top To top of this page Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

Funeral-Antyeshti The last rites of the dead

By Swami Dayananda Saraswati Founder of the Arya Samaj The last rites of the dead body are called the Antyeshti Samskara. There is no other Samskara thereafter for this body. This Samskara is also called by the names of Naramedha, Purushmedha, Narayaga and Purusheayaga. From the Yajurveda 40.15 (also Isa Upanishad). "Vayurnilammamritamathedam Bhasmantam Shariram Om Krto Smara. Klibe Smara. Kritghvam Smara." O active soul, at the time of death, remember OM, remember God for thy vitality and thy eternity, remember thy deeds. Know that soul is immaterial and immortal but the body is finally reduced to ashes. (translation by Devi Chand)

The procedure
Source Ashwalayana Grihyasutras
1. The dead, if male, should be given bath by men and if female, should be given bath by women. Sandal-wood paste should be applied to the body. The dead body should be dressed with new clothes. 2. Ghee (clarified butter) should be in equal proportion to the weight of the dead. Well-to-do people can use more ghee but in the case of poor people, the ghee should not be less than mound in weight . The poor should be assisted by a moneyed man or by the head of the Panchayat (5 man village council), or contributions from the people. Well-todo people can add or mix with the ghee the following items.

Kesar, Saffron One masha in each one Seer of Ghee Kasturi, Musk One Ratti in each one Seer of Ghee Agar Acquilaria Malaccensis- One Seer in each one mound Tagar Veleriana Walichli - One Seer in each one Maund Sandal-wood powder -One Seer in each one mound Camphor - As the circumstances permit

3. Well-to-do people should arrange for one maund Sandal-wood, twelve maunds of fuel wood and Samagri two times the weight of the dead body. 4. All these items should be brought to the cremation ground (crematorium). 5. If there is a permanent Kunda made in the cremation ground for the purpose of cremation, then it should be used. If not, then a new one should be made (dug out). The dimensions of the Kunda should be as follows:

I Length of the Kunda should be equal to the length of a man standing with his hands stretched upwards. II The breadth (width) should be equal to the a person sleeping with his two hands stretched outwards (more than 1 yards). III Depth should be chest high (taking into account average heights of men). IV The bottom should be one yard in breadth.
6. The Kunda should be made clean and if cow-dung is available, it should be purified by applying that. 7. Wood fuel should be arranged in the Kunda in the manner of how bricks are arranged when building a wall. 8. Ghee should be liquid (not solidified or frozen). 9. Four big size spoons should be firmly attached to the end of long sticks so that oblations can be offered into the blazing fire burning inside the Kunda. Four men at a time should offer ahutis (oblations). The size of each spoon should be big enough to hold ghee that is not less than half chhatak and should not be so big that it holds more than one chhatak of ghee. 10. Cremation ground should be situated in the south (of village, town etc). 11. The dead body should be laid on the fuel pyre arranged in the Kunda. The dead body should be totally covered with fuel-wood. The head of the dead should be in the north direction and the feet in the south. 12. The hair of the dead should be removed before giving bath to it. 13. First a diya (small lamp) should to be lit. Camphor (placed in the spoon) should be lit from the diya (lamp) and this should be used to set alight the pyre. Begin lighting the pyre from that end of the pyre where the head is and ending by the feet. Thus the whole pyre should be set ablaze.

Oblations should be offered in the blazing fire with the following Mantras. "Om Agnaye Svaha/ This oblation is for Agni. Whatever is uttered herein is true. Om Somaaya Svaha/ " " " Soma. " " " " Om Lokaaya Svaha/ " " " This world Loka) " " Om Anumataye Svaha/ " " Earth " " Om swargaaya Lokaaya Svaha/ " the other world (heaven) "

Part b
Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs,behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives. While theology attempts to understand the nature and intentions of supernatural forces (such asdeities), religious studies tries to study religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion. Religious studies originated in the nineteenth century, when scholarly and historical analysis of the Bible had flourished, and Hindu and Buddhist texts were first being translated into European languages. Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Mller, in England, and Cornelius P. Tiele, in the Netherlands. Today religious studies is practiced by scholars worldwide. In its early years, it was known as Comparative Religion or the Science of Religion and, in the USA, there are those who today also know the field as the History of religion (associated with methodological traditions traced to the University of Chicago in general, and in particular Mircea Eliade, from the late 1950s through to the late 1980s). The field is known as Religionswissenschaft in Germany and Sciences de la religion in the French-speaking world. The term "religion" originated from the Latin noun "religio", that was nominalized from one of three verbs: "relegere" (to turn to constantly/observe conscientiously); "religare" (to bind oneself [back]); and "reeligare" (to choose again).[1] Because of these three different meanings, an etymological analysis alone does not resolve the ambiguity of defining religion, since each verb points to a different understanding of what religion is.[2] During the Medieval Period, the term "religious" was used as a noun to describe someone who had joined a monastic order (a "religious"). Despite this change in meaning, it is important to note the term "religion" is primarily a Christian term. Judaism and Hinduism, for example, do not include this term in their vocabulary.

1 Religious studies vs. theology 2 Intellectual foundation and background 3 History

3.1 Anthropology of religion 3.2 Cultural anthropology of religion

3.3 Economics of religion

3.4 Geography of religion 3.5 History of religion 3.6 Literary approaches 3.7 Neurological approaches

3.8 Origin of religion 3.9 Psychology of religion 3.10 Sociology of religion

4 Methodologies

4.1 Phenomenology 4.2 Functionalism

5 Criticism of religious studies 6 Influential figures 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

10.1 Academic societies 10.2 Online Works and Sources


studies vs. theology

Western philosophy of religion, as the basic ancestor of modern religious studies, is differentiated from theology and the many Eastern philosophical traditions by generally being written from a third party perspective. The scholar need not be a believer. Theology stands in contrast to the philosophy of religion and religious studies in that, generally, the scholar is first and foremost a believer employing both logicand scripture as evidence. Theology according to this understanding fits with the definition which Anselm of Canterbury gave to it in the 11th century, credo ut intelligam, or faith seeking understanding. The theologian then has the task of making intelligible, or clarifying, the religious commitments to which he or she ascribes. The scholar of religious studies has no such allegiances. [edit]Intellectual

foundation and background

Before religious studies became a field in its own right, flourishing in the United States in the late 1960s, several key intellectual figures explored religion from a variety of perspectives. One of these figures was the famous pragmatist William James. His 1902 Gifford lectures and book The Varieties of Religious Experience examined religion from a psychological-philosophical perspective and is still influential today. His essay The Will to Believe defends the rationality of faith. Max Weber studied religion from an economic perspective in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-5), his most famous work. As a major figure in sociology, he has no doubt influenced later sociologists of religion. mile Durkheim also holds continuing influence as one of the fathers of sociology. He explored Protestant and Catholic attitudes and doctrines regarding suicide in his work Suicide. In 1912 he published his most memorable work on religion, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. [edit]History

Max Mller

Interest in the general study of religion dates back to at least Hecataeus of Miletus (ca. 550 BCE ca. 476 BCE) and Herodotus (ca. 484 BCE 425 BCE). Later, during the Middle Ages, Islamicscholars studied Persian, Jewish, Christian, and Indian religions. The first history of religion was the Treatise on the Religious and Philosophical Sects (1127 CE), written by the Muslim scholarMuhammad alShahrastani. Peter the Venerable, also working in the twelfth century, studied Islam and made possible a Latin translation of the Qur'an. Notwithstanding the long interest in the study of religion, the academic discipline Religious Studies is relatively new. Dr. Chris Partridge notes that the "first professorships were established as recently as the final quarter of the nineteenth century."[1] In the nineteenth century, the study of religion was done

through the eyes of science. Max Mller was the first Professor of Comparative Religion at Oxford University, a chair created especially for him. In his Introduction to the Science of Religion (1873) he wrote that it is "the duty of those who have devoted their life to the study of the principal religions of the world in their original documents, and who value and reverence it in whatever form it may present itself, to take possession of this new territory in the name of true science." Partridge writes that "by the second half of the twentieth century the study of religion had emerged as a prominent and important field of academic enquiry." He cites the growing distrust of the empiricism of the nineteenth century and the growing interest in non-Christian religions and spirituality coupled with convergence of the work of social scientists and that of scholars of religion as factors involved in the rise of Religious Studies. In the 1960s and 1970s, the term "religious studies" became common and interest in the field increased. New departments were founded and influential journals of religious studies were initiated (for example, Religious Studies and Religion). In the forward to Approaches to the Study of Religion, Ninian Smart wrote that "in the English-speaking world [religious studies] basically dates from the 1960s, although before then there were such fields as 'the comparative study of religion', the 'history of religion', the 'sociology of religion' and so on..." In the 1980s, in both Britain and America, "the decrease in student applications and diminishing resources in the 1980s led to cut backs affecting religious studies departments." (Partridge) Later in the decade, religious studies began to pick up as a result of integrating religious studies with other disciplines and forming programs of study that mixed the discipline with more utilitarian study. Philosophy of religion uses philosophical tools to evaluate religious claims and doctrines. Western philosophy has traditionally been employed by English speaking scholars. (Some other cultures have their own philosophical traditions including Indian, Muslim, and Jewish.) Common issues considered by the (Western) philosophy of religion are the existence of God, belief and rationality, cosmology, and logical inferences of logical consistency from sacred texts. Although philosophy has long been used in evaluation of religious claims (e.g. Augustine and Pelagius's debate concerning original sin), the rise of scholasticism in the 11th century, which represented "the search for order in intellectual life" (Russell, 170), more fully integrated the Western philosophical tradition (with the introduction of translations of Aristotle) in religious study. There is some amount of overlap between subcategories of religious studies and the discipline itself. Religious studies seeks to study religious phenomena as a whole, rather than be limited to the approaches of its subcategories. [edit]Anthropology

of religion

The anthropology of religion is principally concerned with the common basic needs of man that religion fulfills. [edit]Cultural

anthropology of religion

The cultural anthropology of religion is principally concerned with the cultural aspects of religion. Of primary concern to the cultural anthropologist of religions are rituals, beliefs, religious art, and practices of piety. [edit]Economics

of religion

Gallup surveys have found that the world's poorest countries may be the most religious. Of those countries with average per-capita incomes under $2000, 95% reported that religion played an important role in their daily lives. This is contrasted by the average of 47% from the richest countries, with incomes over $25000 (with the United States breaking the trend by reporting at 65%).[3] Social scientists have suggested that religion plays a functional role (helping people cope) in poorer nations.[3][4] The New York Times offers a graphic illustrating the correlation (not necessarily causation) between religion and poverty. [edit]Geography

of religion

The geography of religion is principally concerned with the spatial elements of religious practice and embodiment. In the 1960s and 1970s, geographers of religion such as Wilbur Zelinsky and David Sopher were mostly associated with the "Berkeley school" of cultural geography and focused mostly on the cultural imprints of religion on the landscape. Since the turn in the new cultural geography of religion through the work of James Duncan on the City as Text, geographers of religion have focused on what Lily Kong has called the "politics and poetics" of religion, especially in relation to the political geographies of secular nation-states. Recent interest in the geography of religion has focused on how religious practitioners enact sacred space through their embodied sacred practices as well as the relationship between religion and geopolitics. [edit]History

of religion

See also: History of religion The history of religions is not concerned with theological claims apart from their historical significance. Some topics of this discipline are thehistoricity of religious figures, events, and the evolution of doctrinal matters.[5] [edit]Literary


There are many approaches to the study of sacred texts. One of these approaches is to interpret the text as a literary object. Metaphor, thematic elements, and the nature and motivations of the characters are of interest in this approach. An example of this approach is God: A Biography, by Jack Miles. [edit]Neurological


Recently there has been an interesting meeting between neurology and religion, especially Buddhism. Also of interest has been the temporal lobe, the "God center" of the brain. (Ramachandran, ch. 9) Although not a widely accepted discipline within religious studies, neurological findings in regard to religious experience may very well become of more widespread interest to scholars of religion. Scientific investigators have used a SPECTscanner to analyze the brain activity of both Christian contemplatives and Buddhist meditators, finding them to be quite similar.[6] [edit]Origin

of religion

Main articles: Evolutionary origin of religions, Evolutionary psychology of religion, and Revelation The "origin of religion" refers to the emergence of religious behavior in prehistory, before written records. [edit]Psychology

of religion

The psychology of religion is concerned with what psychological principles are operative in religious communities and practitioners. William James was one of the first academics to bridge the gap between the emerging science of psychology and the study of religion. A few issues of concern to the psychologist

of religions are the psychological nature of religious conversion, the making of religious decisions, religion and happiness, and the psychological factors in evaluating religious claims. Sigmund Freud was another influential figure in the field of psychology and religion. He used his psychoanalytic theory to explain religious beliefs, practices, and rituals in order to justify the role of religion in the development of human culture. [edit]Sociology

of religion

Main article: Sociology of religion The sociology of religion concerns the dialectical relationship between religion and society; the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society.[7] There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that it does not set out to assess the validity of religious beliefs, though the process of comparing multiple conflicting dogmas may require what Peter L. Berger has described as inherent "methodological atheism".[8] Whereas the sociology of religion broadly differs from theology in assuming the invalidity of the supernatural, theorists tend to acknowledge socio-cultural reification of religious practise. It may be said that the modern formal discipline of sociology began with the analysis of religion in Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations. The works of Max Weber emphasised the relationship between religious belief and theeconomic foundations of society. Contemporary debates have centred on issues such as secularization, civil religion, and the cohesiveness of religion in the context of globalization and multiculturalism. The sociology of religion also deals with how religion impacts society regarding the positive and negatives of what happens when religion is mixed with society. Theorist such as Marx states that religion is the opium of the people - the idea that religion has become a way for people to deal with their problems. At least one comprehensive study refutes this idea. Research has found that secular democracies likeFrance or Scandinavia outperform more theistic democracies on various measures of societal health. The authors explain that "Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies. Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions?"[9] [edit]Methodologies A number of methodologies are used in Religious Studies. Methodologies are hermeneutics, or interpretive models, that provide a structure for the analysis of religious phenomena. [edit]Phenomenology Main article: Phenomenology (philosophy) Phenomenology is "arguably the most influential approach to the study of religion in the twentieth century." (Partridge) The term is first found in the title of the work of the influential philosopher of German Idealism, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, entitled The Phenomenology of Spirit. Phenomenology had been practiced long before its being made explicit as a philosophical method by Edmund Husserl, who is considered to be its founder. In the context of Phenomenology of religion however, the term was first used by Pierre Daniel Chantepie de la Saussaye in his work "Lehrbuch der Religiongeschichte" (1887).

Chantepie's phenomenology catalogued observable characteristics of religion much like a zoologist would categorize animals or an entomologist would categorize insects. In part due to Husserl's influence, "phenomenology" came to "refer to a method which is more complex and claims rather more for itself than did Chantepies mere cataloguing of facts." (Partridge) Husserl argued that the foundation of knowledge is consciousness. He recognized "how easy it is for prior beliefs and interpretations to unconsciously influence ones thinking, Husserls phenomenological method sought to shelve all these presuppositions and interpretations." (Partridge) Husserl introduced the term "eidetic vision" to describe the ability to observe without "prior beliefs and interpretations" influencing understanding and perception. His other main conceptual contribution is the idea of the epoche: setting aside metaphysical questions and observing phenomena in and of themselves, without any bias or commitments on the part of the investigator. The epoche, also known as phenomenological reduction or bracketing, involves approaching a phenomenon or phenomena from a neutral standpoint, instead of with our own particular attitudes. In performing this reduction, whatever phenomenon or phenomena we approach are understood in themselves, rather than from our own perspectives. In the field of religious studies, a contemporary advocate of the phenomenological method is Ninian Smart. He suggests that we should perform the epoche as a means to engage in cross-cultural studies. In doing so, we can take the beliefs, symbols, rituals etc. of the other from within their own perspective, rather than imposing ours on them. Another earlier scholar who employs the phenomenological method for studying religion is Gerardus van der Leeuw. In his Religion in Essence and Manifestation (1933), he outlines what a phenomenology of religion should look like:

Firstly, argues van der Leeuw, the student of religion needs to classify the religious phenomena into distinct categories: e.g. sacrifice, sacrament, sacred space, sacred time, sacred word, festivals, and myth.

Secondly, scholars then need to interpolate the phenomena into the their own lives. That is to say, they need to empathetically (Einfhlung) try and understand the religion from within....The life examined by the religious studies scholar, insists van der Leeuw, needs to "acquire its place in the life of the student himself who should understand it out of his inner self."

Thirdly, van der Leeuw stresses perhaps the fundamental phenomenological principle, namely epoch, the suspension of value-judgements and the adoption of a neutral stance.

Fourthly, scholars needs to clarify any apparent structural relationships and make sense of the information. In so doing, they move towards a holistic understanding of how the various aspects of a religion relate and function together.

Fifthly, this leads naturally to a stage at which "all these activities, undertaken together and simultaneously, constitute genuine understanding [Verstehen]: the chaotic and obstinate 'reality' thus becomes a manifestation, a revelation" (eidetic vision).

Sixthly, having thus attained this general grasp, there is a continual need to make sure that it tallies with the up-to-date research of other disciplines, such as archaeology, history, philology etc. For van der Leeuw, as for other phenomenologists, the continual checking of ones results is crucial to the maintenance of scholarly objectivity. In order to avoid degeneration into fantasy, phenomenology must always feed on facts.

Finally, having gone through the above six stages, the phenomenologist should be as close as anyone can be to an understanding of the 'meaning' of the religious phenomena studied and be in a position to relate his understanding to others.

Most phenomenologists are aware of the fact that understanding is asymptotic and there will never be complete and absolute understanding. By setting aside metaphysical issues (such as a Christian phenomenologist would do with monotheism/polytheism while studying Hinduism), phenomenologists keep religious studies separate from theology and (hopefully) decrease their bias and come away with a more accurate picture. Seven generally agreed upon features of phenomenology are as follows: Phenomenologists tend to oppose the acceptance of unobservable matters and grand systems erected in speculative thinking; Phenomenologists tend to oppose naturalism (also called objectivism and positivism), which is the worldview growing from modern natural science and technology that has been spreading from Northern Europe since the Renaissance; Positively speaking, phenomenologists tend to justify cognition (and some also evaluation and action) with reference to what Edmund Husserl called Evidenz, which is awareness of a matter itself as disclosed in the most clear, distinct, and adequate way for something of its kind; Phenomenologists tend to believe that not only objects in the natural and cultural worlds, but also ideal objects, such as numbers, and even conscious life itself can be made evident and thus known;

Phenomenologists tend to hold that inquiry ought to focus upon what might be called "encountering" as it is directed at objects and, correlatively, upon "objects as they are encountered" (this terminology is not widely shared, but the emphasis on a dual problematics and the reflective approach it requires is);

Phenomenologists tend to recognize the role of description in universal, a priori, or "eidetic" terms as prior to explanation by means of causes, purposes, or grounds; and

Phenomenologists tend to debate whether or not what Husserl calls the transcendental phenomenological epoch and reduction is useful or even possible.

source [edit]Functionalism

Functionalism, in regard to religious studies, is the analysis of religions and their various communities of adherents using the functions of particular religious phenomena to interpret the structure of religious communities and their beliefs. A major criticism of functionalism is that it lends itself to teleological explanations. An example of a functionalist approach is understanding the dietary restrictions contained in thePentateuch as having the function of promoting health or providing social identity (i.e. a sense of belonging though common practice). [edit]Criticism

of religious studies

A group of scholars have criticized religious studies beginning in the 1990s as a theological project which actually imposes views onto the people it aims to survey. Prominent voices in this critical view include Robert A. Orsi, Timothy Fitzgerald, Talal Asad, Tomoko Masuzawa, G.A. Oddie, Richard King, Russell T. McCutcheon, and Daniel Dubuisson. Their areas of research overlap heavily with postcolonial studies.[10]

In the People's Republic of China, formal religious education is banned except in licensed schools of theology, which are usually college-level and above. These colleges are state-supported and usually very small, with limited enrollments and budgets. Religious education usually occurs in scheduled sessions in private homes.[2] Religious teachers usually move on a weekly or monthly circuit, staying as guests in private houses in exchange for teaching. [edit]India See also: International Society for Krishna Consciousness In India, there are a number of private schools run by religious institutions, especially for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Buddhists. During the era of British rule, Christian private schools were quite prominent and widely attended by both UK (British) and Indian students. Many of the schools established during this era, especially in areas with a heavy Christian population, are still in existence today. In modern-day schools, Hindu students are typically taught the Bhagavad Gita, which explains the ethics and duty of a person, as well as one's relationship with Krishna, God. This is taught in Vaishnavism, the Hindu sect for which the Gita holds the most importance. Students are also taught the Sanskrit language, and Vedic) philosophy. Other Hindu religious texts, including the Upanishads and Itihasas, are studied in these contexts, in both religious and secular schools.[citation needed] The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), has set up a number[clarification needed] of schools - gurukulas, as well as modern day schools - which concurrently provide a traditional material and spiritual Vedic education. Sri Mayapur International School, perhaps one of the best known[citation needed] of these day schools, is a school for primary and secondary students; the school teaches academic education according to the standard UK curriculum, alongside devotional subjects of bhajan/kirtan singing and instrumentation and also Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy.[3] ISKCON has instituted a number of seminaries and schools of tertiary higher education. In addition to typical formal education, ISKCON also offers specialized religious/spiritual instructional programs in scriptural texts, standardized by the ISKCON Ministry for Educational Development[4] and the GBC committee on Vaisnava Training & Education, categorized by level and difficulty; in India, they are primarily provided by the Mayapur Institute for Higher

Education and Training[5] and the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education.[6] ISKCON also offers instruction in archana, or murti worship and devotional ceremony, through the Mayapur Academy.[3] In addition to regular formal education, a number of religious institutions have instituted regular informal religious/spiritual education programs for children and adults. ISKCON temples have established a number[clarification needed] of such programs. [edit]Israel In Israel, children receiving a traditional Jewish education are taught Biblical Hebrew, and learn excerpts of the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and the Talmud (commentary on the scriptures). Secular Jews tend to speak "Modern Hebrew". This tradition generally hopes that by passing on the traditional language, the students will also retain a better memory of their culture's history and a stronger sense of cultural identity. [edit]Japan See also: List of schools in Japan In Japan, Buddhist activities are reinforced by public ceremonies and parades. There are also many Christian schools. [edit]South East Asia In Thailand, Burma and other majority Buddhist societies, Buddhist teachings and social decorum are sometimes taught in public school. Young men are expected to live as monks for several months at one time in their lives during which they can receive religious education. [edit]Europe Some European countries and their former colonies maintain a state-supported religion, usually either Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox Christian. It is taught in a special class of the government schools. This policy aims to build and maintain a national identity. In many countries families can get permission to withdraw children from these classes. Many families with other religions use religious schools. The state supports one (usually) central seminary which trains pastoral staff for the state church. Other religions may support private seminaries, but these are smaller and not as well funded. Religions other than the state religion, even if ancient and respectable, are often deprecated in the national cultures (e.g. they are called "cults" in the news media).[citation needed] [edit]Austria Because of Austria's history as a multinational empire that included the largely Islamic Bosnia, Sunni Islam has been taught side by side with Roman Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox classes since the 19th century. However, children belonging to minority religions, like Jewish,Buddhist and Latter Day Saints also study religious education in their various denominations. At many schools, secular classes in Ethics can be attended alternatively. [edit]France In France, the state recognizes no religion and does not fund religious education. However, the state subsidizes private teaching establishments, including religious ones, under strict conditions of not forcing religion courses on students and not discriminating against students according to religion. An exception is the area of Alsace-Moselle where, for historical reasons (it was ruled by Germany when this system was

instituted in the rest of France) under a specific local law, the state supports public education in some religions mostly in accord with the German model. [edit]Germany Most of the federal states of Germany, which has a long history of almost even division between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, have an arrangement where the religious bodies oversee the training of mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish religious education teachers. In one of the federal states this includes Orthodox Christian teachers as well. The training is supposed to be conducted according to modern standards of the humanities, at mostly state-run colleges and universities. Those teachers teach religion in public schools, are paid by the state but answerable to the churches for the content of their teaching; however they must not teach behaviour widely considered to be against the law. Children who are part of no mainstream religion or wish to opt out for another reason must usually attend neutral classes in "Ethics" or "Philosophy" instead. From the age of 14, children may decide on their own if they want to attend morality classes and if they do, which of those they are willing to take. For younger children it is the decision of their parents. The state also subsidizes religious schools by paying up to 90% of their expenses. These schools have to follow the same curricula as public schools of their federal state, though. Currently there is an ongoing controversy about the introduction of Islamic religious education in Germany. While there are around three million Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin, now in the country, many of them are not members of large religious bodies with whom the states could arrange such matters. Some religious bodies are publicly suspected to further anti-constitutional values, such as inequality of men and women before the law. However, proponents of Islamic religious education in public schools maintain that state-controlled Islamic education would be a means to prevent immigrants' children from joining ranks of so-called Qur'an schools, which are accused of promoting Islamic intolerance outside the federal government's control. [edit]Greece In Greece, students at Greek Orthodox schools typically learn the basics of the Greek Orthodox faith. [edit]Ireland In the Republic of Ireland, religious education is an State examination subject. It is optional at senior level for the Leaving Certificate exams, but all students take religious education for the Junior Certificate exams. The course consists of theology, world religions, morality, global and environmental issues and philosophy. The exam for junior level consists of a written paper which counts for 80% of the overall marks. A written project with set topics consists of 20%. Students can take a higher level or ordinary level paper.[citation needed] [edit]Poland In Poland, religious education is optional in state schools. Parents decide whether children should attend religion classes or ethics classes[7][8] or none of them.[9] Because aApproximately 88% of Poles are Roman Catholic, selecting "religion" classes is common. Children learn about Catholicism in school. This has produced disputes about religious intolerance.[citation needed] Since 2007 grade from religion (or ethics) classes is counted towards grade point average. [edit]United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Catholic, Church of England (in England) and Jewish schools have long been supported within the state system with all other schools having a duty to provide compulsory religious education. State Religious Education is non-proselytising and covers a variety of faiths, although the legislation still requires it to include more Christian content than on other faiths.[10] The Church of Scotland does not have schools, although they often have a presence in Scottish non-denominational institutions. There is no National Curriculum for Religious Education in England. In England and Wales, the content of the Syllabus is agreed by Local Authorities, with the ratification of a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) comprising members of different religious groups, teachers and local councillors. [edit]Middle


In the Middle East, many Catholic schools are French-controlled, teaching English, Arabic and French as well as theology and the parochial church's liturgical language.[citation needed] [edit]Africa [edit]North


This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2011) [edit]Canada In Canada, religious education has a varying status. On the one hand, publicly funded and organized separate schools for Roman Catholics and Protestants are mandated in some provinces and in some circumstances by various sections of the Constitution Act, 1867.[11] On the other hand, with a growing level of multiculturalism, particularly in Ontario, debate has emerged as to whether publicly funded religious education for one group is permissible. For example, Newfoundland withdrew funding for Protestant and Roman Catholic schools in 1995, after a constitutional amendment. Quebec abolished religious education funded by the state through the Education Act, 1998[12] which took effect on July 1 of that same year, again after a constitutional amendment.[13] Quebec re-organized the schools along linguistic rather than religious lines. In Ontario however, the move to abolish funding has been strongly resisted. As of 2005, funding from the taxes of those who specifically request to have their educational taxes allotted to Catholic education, remains in place and will remain for the foreseeable future. In the 2007 provincial election the topic of funding for faith based schools that were not Catholic became a major topic. The provincial conservative party was defeated due, in part, to their support of this topic. [edit]United States In the United States, religious education is often provided through supplementary "Sunday school", "Hebrew school", catechism classes, etc. taught to children at their family's place of worship, either in conjunction with worship services or some other time during the week, after weekday school classes. Some families believe supplementary religious education is inadequate, and send their children to private religious schools, called parochial schools when they are affiliated with a specific parish or congregation. Many faiths also offer private college and graduate-level religious schools, which may be accredited as colleges. Under U.S. law, religious education is forbidden in public schools, except from a neutral, academic perspective.[14] For a teacher or school administration to endorse one religion is considered an infringement of the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment. The boundaries of this rule are

frequently tested, with court cases challenging the treatment of traditional religious holidays, displays of religious articles and documents such as the Ten Commandments, the recitation of thePledge of Allegiance (which since 1954 has described the U.S. as "one nation under God"), and how prayer should be accommodated in the classroom.

"Where does religion come from?" "How did it develop?"

Apart from any consideration of "what the true religion is," or "what is true in any given religion," we can reasonably ask what the source of the religious impulse is. That is actually within the purview of the first book in this series but here we want to look at what the religions themselves say about the subject. How would any particular individual answer the question, "How did we begin to relate to the divine?" What is the myth of religion? But before we look at this concept of myth, let's take a brief look at the actual historical entity we call religion (at least, as much as we think we know about that history.) I will follow the Random House Timetables of History as a guide to organize this discussion. There is a good bit of controversy about how religion "got started". With the current dialog about the neuronal area in the brain dubbed the "God center" it is possible that it, in fact, was always there, as long as there has been humans. Until recently, it has been assumed that religion appeared and developed with agriculture as fertility cults centered around the worship of an Earth mother, but that hardly explains the elaborate burial procedures used by prehistoric hunter and nomad societies. We must admit that we simply do not know how or where religion started. Past assumptions are quickly being eliminated by new information. We do know that priesthoods developed early in Egypt and Mesopotamia to officiate in the worship of gods who supposedly presided over local regions. These religions had intricate rituals, associated artistic and architectural traditions, and concepts such as divine kingship. Worship of nature deities was a feature of the Mediterranean world and Mesopotamia before the third millennium BC. Mesopotamian religion had developed into its classical form in the early dynastic period. It recognized four major gods: Anu, the god of heaven; Enlil, the god of wind; Enki, the god of water; and Ninhursag, the goddess of birth. Divination was practiced as part of the religious rituals. Egyptian religion reflected the stability of life in the Nile valley in the early dynastic period. A belief in an afterlife was well established by that time and was extended to include people other than royalty with the decline of the Old Kingdom. Invasions of warrior, Aryan cultures following 2000 BC, caused changes in the great religions of the Near East including the development of ecstatic sacrificial cults but, despite that and the brief incursion of the interesting monotheistic religion sponsored by the Pharaoh Akhenaton, Egyptian religion remained quite hardy and virtually unchanged. Nevertheless, this historical matrix provided the cultural ground from which the ethical monotheism of the Israelite tribes grew. Whatever the initial events, this is the fertile ground from which Judaism, Islam, and Christianity grew.

The Aryan invaders of India carried with them the seeds of the religion that would be embodied in the collection of sacred hymns called the Vedas. This was a complex, polytheistic religion that would develop into the Hindu religion. During the period of the Judges, a strong emphasis toward purity in the monotheistic religion of Israel developed, reinforcing the resistance of outside influences and the tendency to add deities to the traditional faith. Around 1000 BC, a secular philosophy emerged in China that set the stage for the major religious systems with their deemphasis of the supernatural. The Rigveda developed in India around this time, as did the Shinto religion in Japan. The constant invasion of Greece by the northern tribes kept the religious thought there in flux and would lead to a flexible philosophical outlook that would foster the development of the brilliant 5th century Greek culture. The concept of caste in India was elaborated around 700 BC by the priestly caste of Brahmans. The period of time from 800 to 200 BC, called the axial age, saw a remarkable flowering of religious and philosophical thought. Buddhism and Jainism were significant offsprings of Brahmanism. Zoroastrianism developed in Persia. Both Taoism and Confucianism became established in China. Greek philosophy began with Thales and his contemporaries and thrived through the time of Aristotle. The establishment of the Roman Empire set the stage for the Christian religion which began as a sect of the Jewish religion but quickly found its independence and thrived during the early years of persecution to become one of the most influential movements in Western civilization. The complex doctrine of the Christian church developed, in large part, in response to emerging traditions outside the mainstream church including Gnosticism, Manichaeanism, Mithraism, and Montanism, and in response to legalistic tendencies within the mainstream church that tended to draw the adherents back into the parent Judaism. Constantine (c. 285 - 337) adopted Christianity as his own religion (possibly in addition to other religious affiliations) and provided religious freedom to all religions. Theodosius the Great (c. 379 - 395) then made Christianity the Roman state religion. Finally safe from outside attacks the Christian church then turned inward to begin a history of, often violent, internal disputes. During this same time period - roughly the first 500 years AD, Buddhism's power increased, turning back to influence the parent religion, Hinduism and also moving into China to claim adherents there and to affect the traditional Chinese religions and philosophies. By 700, Buddhism was firmly established in China and Japan. Islam appeared in the early 7th century and quickly grew. By 700 AD, it had spread across the Middle East. By the year 1000, it had reached India and Spain. Like Christianity, it had to deal with internal schism which have yet to be resolved. In the centuries before the turn of the first millennium, the church became more and more political. The competition between the Eastern and Western churches led to a widening rift. The papal support of Charlemagne's empire gave the church greater prestige but individual clergy became more and more disreputable, which would eventually lead to the monastic Cluniac reform movement which emphasized clerical discipline.

During this time, the Sufi movement was founded in the Islamic society, emphasizing an austere mysticism in response to the rational idealism of orthodox Islam. In the Americas, Mayan religion reached its zenith as a complex, hierarchical system. The Vikings also reached a peak around 1000. They worshiped a pantheon of gods similar to the Germanic who were called the Aesir and were lead by Odin. After 1000, the church consolidated its power to judge the morality of secular political entities. Scholasticism appeared in both the Christian and the Muslim communities with a revival of interest in philosophy and especially Greek and Aristotlean thought. The First Crusade (1096-1099) captured Jerusalem and established Frankish kingdoms in the Near East. The popular Mahayana form of Buddhism and the monastic Zen form appeared and developed in China and Japan. During the years from 1250 to 1400, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scot, and William of Ockham brought European scholasticism to its zenith. The papacy of Boniface VIII marked the peak of papal power. After the move of the papacy to Avignon in 1305, the power of the papacy declined. The seeds of the Protestant Reformation were evident in the writings of people like William Langland and John Wycliffe who criticized the clergy for its corruption while advocation spiritual and social equality. The first printed Bible was produced in 1456. The Spanish Inquisition was instituted in 1478. Among its targets were Jews, Muslims, and Catholic intellectuals. The church also condemned the practice of witchcraft in 1484 and the manual of persecution of witches, the Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1487. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in protest to corrupt practices in the Catholic Church in 1517. He was excommunicated in 1520. In 1521, at the Diet of Worms, he argued for justification by faith alone. He translated the Bible into the German vernacular around 1525. In 1534, Henry VIII assumed full control over the Church of England in 1534. John Calvin began his ministry in Geneva, Switzerland in 1541, teaching the doctrine that God had elected who would and would not be saved from the beginning (predestination). The Council of Trent instituted the Catholic counter-reformation in 1545-1547. Sikhism was founded by Nanak around 1519. Francis Bacon wrote his masterwork on the scientific method, Novum Organum, in 1620. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) championed the cause of science and ran afoul of the church, spending his last years of life in house arrest. Ren Descartes (1598-1650) developed many of the method that would allow for a mathematical evaluation of physical phenomenon. A materialistic view of nature was developing that would lead to a serious confrontation with the church in later years. Still, at this time, the scientific community generally supported an unassailable belief in God. George Fox founded the Quakers in 1652. The later part of the 17th century saw a great increase in scientific and philosophical investigations along with a sharp split between people like Isaac Newton, John Locke, and Bishop George Berkeley, who were strict empiricist who believed that knowledge could only be gained by experience; and people like

Gottfried Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza, rationalists who believed that knowledge of the world could be derived by deductive reasoning. Hundreds of years of war in Europe, ostensibly due to differences in religious belief, caused thinkers to ponder ways to approach religion that would lead to a more peaceful society - in that, they began to look at and study religion from a strictly secular angle. David Hume (1411-1776) pointed out the flaws in scientific thinking and came to the conclusion that we can't really know anything, much less anything about God. Philosophers in 18th century Europe were beginning to predict or, even, call for the demise of religion. Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and Auguste Compte (1798-1857) sought to replace Christianity with a secular religious priesthood based on positivism. Mormonism was founded in New York state in 1830 by Joseph Smith. Modern Adventism, precursor of the Seventh Day Adventists sect was founded in 1831 by William Miller. Felicite Lamennais, in Thoughts of a Believer (1834) argued for separation of church and state and criticized the Catholic Church for its interference in politics. Ludwig Feuerbach (1904-1872) advocated humanistic atheism and influenced Karl Marx (1818-1883) who viciously attacked religion as the "opiate of the masses". Marx predicted the immanent demise of religion. Ali Muhammad founded the Babi movement in Persia in 1844. Mrza Husayn 'Al, 19 years after Ali Muhammad in the year 1863, founded the Baha'i Faith. Ali Muhammad's followers were told of the coming of Mrza Husayn 'Al and were instructed to follow His religion. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the ideas of Marx, Freud, Compte, Darwin and others posed very serious critiques to religion. In particular, the idea of evolution provided an alternative to the religious idea of the intelligent creator. It was demonstrated that nature might be self organizing to a certain extent. The T'ai-p'ing Rebellion in China in 1850 was very much influenced by Protestant Christian teachings regarding equality and communal economics. William Booth founded the Salvation Army in 1865 in response to the squalor he witnessed in London. The doctrine of papal infallibility was one result of the first Vatican Council in 1869-1870. In 1871, Johann von Dolinger was excommunicated for opposing the same doctrine. Max Muller addressed the royal Institute of London on the "science of religion" in 1870. Eastern and Western thought began to mix in earnest with the Hindu reforms of Ramakrishna (18361886) and the Theosophical Society founded in New York in 1875 by Helene Blavatsky. In the United States, the Jehovah's Witnesses were founded by Charles Russell (1852-1916) and Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). Although the spirit of Antisemitism has been around for a long time, the ideology of Antisemitism developed as an outgrowth of various nationalistic sentiments in the late 1800s. It was popularized in La France Juive by Edouard Drumont in 1886.

James Frazier published his anthropological treatise on religion, The Golden Bough, in 1890. He speculated that there is, in human history, a natural development from nature magic, through religion, to scientific thought. William James (1842-1910), in The Varieties of Religious Experience, described religion on the basis of observable religious behavior and posited that religion could have either healthy or unhealthy expression. Freud's total rejection of religion as a juvenile defense mechanism was a major factor in the split between him and his protege Carl Jung. The Pentecostal movement began in America around 1902. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) championed global unity and nonviolent civil disobedience while the Vienna Circle (1927-1938) championed the strict empiricism called positivism. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) sought a secular version of Christianity. The World Council of Churches met in 1948. The Christian church began to search for means toward unity in the Ecumenical Movement, which began in 1961-1962. The Catholic Church tried to reconcile internal differences during the Vatican Council of 1962. The United States Episcopal Church began to allow the ordination of women as priests in 1976. The mass suicide of the People's Temple cult in Guyana in 1979 drew international attention. The Chinese government allowed the reopening of many Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim churches in 1981. Carol Tavris brought up some serious critiques of scientific research from a woman's studies perspective in "The Mismeasure of Woman" in 1992. So, this is my first story and it's called the history of religion. I have another story to tell about history, this one a bit more personal. When I was in high school, the history class I was in was taught, as history, that Catherine the Great of Russia died trying to have sex with a horse. It seems, the horse fell on her. I later found that "in fact" the incident did not even occur and the story seems to be a rumor started by the French who were the enemies of Russia during this period of history. My point is that history is not necessarily fact. The old dictum, "History is written by the victor," applies here, which does not, at all, make history useless, but it is important how it is used. History is useful in so much as it helps us to understand the present and predict the future. The past is gone and, in many ways, we can never be sure what, exactly, has happened then, but as long as we keep in mind that any particular history is a best guess given what we have to decipher it, we are usually okay. So with that caveat in place, let us continue.

Philosophy of Religion/What is religion?

< Philosophy of Religion

"religion: [M.E. religioum, fr. L. religion; religio reverence, religion, prob. fr. religare to tie back - more at RELY] 1 a (1). the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance b: the state of a religious 2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. 3 archaic: scrupulous conformity: CONSCIENTIOUSNESS 4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor or faith." -Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1967) "Religion is a communication system that is constituted by supernatural beings and is related to specific patterns of behavior." -H. H. Penner "Religion is man's involvement in the meaning of his existence, and the depth of one's involvement is the depth of his religion." -James L. Christian "Religion is a sense of the sacred." -Sir Julian Huxley "Religion is man's ultimate concern for the ultimate." -Paul Tillich "Religion is a human being's total concern about Man's world." -Arnold Toynbee Religion can be distilled as any belief system that rests explicitly on faith, but if you asked ten theologians what "religion" is, you would get 12 different answers. That is because religion is a complex subject and "religion" is only a word. Like all words, it can mean anything we want it to mean, but in a discussion, it is important that we understand how the word is used. There is a problem with many of the common definitions of religion. If it has to do with how we relate to God, then Buddhism, Confucianism and core shamanism is left out because they have little to say about God. Many Christians claim that, since religion is a formalized system of knowledge, Christianity is not a religion since it is a relationship with Christ. That contradicts the Biblical author James since he maintained that Christianity is "pure religion and undefiled before God." The Greek word he used was threkeia or "ceremonial observance, worship, religion". Whereas the concepts "sacred" and "faith" are quite basic to Western religion, they are not so in the Orient, so definitions that involve those ideas will not do. Also, definitions like Tillich's and Toynbee's subsume too much for the purposes of this book. One could say that philsophy is the study of man's concern for the ultimate and Toynbee's definition might include plumbing and badmitton, neither of which will be featured in this work.

It was held in the early days of philosophy that a word has an essential meaning - a definition that captured the essence of all uses of the word. That is, perhaps, somewhat naive. Very few words have just one meaning and most have various meaning that have very little to do with each other. For instance, a hat may be something you wear on your head or it might be a symbol used in statistics or it might be a drum. The German philosopher Wittgenstein took another position. Various uses of a word does not have an essential meaning but has more of a family resemblance. It's generally hard to put your finger on why members of a family look alike but it's usually not one particular feature but a set of features that may or may not all be present in the same individual, yet enough of them are present in any one member of the family to preserve the resemblance throughout. We will be working with concepts in the family of religion. I will bypass all these semantical trivialities by using the following definition for religion: "the study and/or practice of what is generally considered to be religion personal or organized." That will include Christianity, Buddhism, Shamanism, and Aunt Polly's talking to her dearly departed Uncle Fred. It will include magic and witchcraft, hermits and wise men. And, fully aware of the etymological intent of the term "theology" (Meanings of words usually change from their original meanings over time), I will take the word to mean, simply "the study of religions." There are a few other words that will be important here. A "doctrine" is a formalization of a system of religious beliefs. A "dogma" is a doctrine that is considered to be held universally within a religion. A "creed" is a set of belief (the word means "I believe") that are central to a religion - beliefs that distinguish members of a religious group from other people. We should also have an understanding of the meaning of "philosophy". It can mean a general approach to life as in "what is your philosophy of life?" I have something a little more formal in mind. Philosophy as an intellectual pursuit typically concerns considerations once removed. Science, for instance is the investigation of the physical world or the knowledge obtained from such. The philosophy of science, on the other hand, involves how people approach science - how we think about the physical world, how we can be confident about such knowledge, and how we should (ethically) approach and use such knowledge.

Then, the philosophy or religion is concerned not with information about God or various religious systems of belief, but with why we should be concerned with such things, if and how we can know about them, and how people think about them. There will be a little admixture here of things that are not exactly philosophy, but are somewhat related. I will be writing some about the psychology of religion, for instance. also, we will consider the relationship of religion with other disciplines such as science, politics, and art.

Development of language
See also: Origin of language and Myth and religion Religion requires a system of symbolic communication, such as language, to be transmitted from one individual to another. Philip Liebermanstates "human religious thought and moral sense clearly rest on a cognitive-linguistic base".[11] From this premise science writer Nicholas Wade states: "Like most behaviors that are found in societies throughout the world, religion must have been present in the ancestral human population before the dispersal from Africa 50,000 years ago. Although religious rituals usually involve dance and music, they are also very verbal, since the sacred truths have to be stated. If so, religion, at least in its modern form, cannot pre-date the emergence of language. It has been argued earlier that language attained its modern state shortly before the exodus from Africa. If religion had to await the evolution of modern, articulate language, then it too would have emerged shortly before 50,000 years ago."[12] Another view distinguishes individual religious belief from collective religious belief. While the former does not require prior development of language, the latter does. The individual human brain has to explain a phenomenon in order to comprehend and relate to it. This activity predates by far the emergence of language and may have caused it. The theory is, belief in the supernatural emerges from hypotheses arbitrarily assumed by individuals to explain natural phenomena that cannot be explained otherwise. The resulting need to share individual hypotheses with others leads eventually to collective religious belief. A socially accepted hypothesis becomes dogmatic backed by social sanction.

The use of symbolism

The use of symbolism in religion is a universal established phenomenon. Archeologist Steven Mithen contends that it is common for religious practices to involve the creation of images and symbols to represent supernatural beings and ideas. Because supernatural beings violate the principles of the natural world, there will always be difficulty in communicating and sharing supernatural concepts with others. This problem can be overcome by anchoring these supernatural beings in material form through representational art. When translated into material form, supernatural concepts become easier to communicate and understand.[31] Due to the association of art and religion, evidence of symbolism in the fossil record is indicative of a mind capable of religious thoughts. Art and symbolism demonstrates a

capacity for abstract thought and imagination necessary to construct religious ideas. Wentzel van Huyssteen states that the translation of the non-visible through symbolism enabled early human ancestors to hold beliefs in abstract terms.[32] Some of the earliest evidence of symbolic behavior is associated with Middle Stone Age sites in Africa. From at least 100,000 years ago, there is evidence of the use of pigments such as red ochre. Pigments are of little practical use to hunter gatherers, thus evidence of their use is interpreted as symbolic or for ritual purposes. Among extant hunter gatherer populations around the world, red ochre is still used extensively for ritual purposes. It has been argued that it is universal among human cultures for the color red to represent blood, sex, life and death.[33] The use of red ochre as a proxy for symbolism is often criticized as being too indirect. Some scientists, such as Richard Klein and Steven Mithen, only recognize unambiguous forms of art as representative of abstract ideas. Upper paleolithic cave art provides some of the most unambiguous evidence of religious thought from the paleolithic. Cave paintings at Chauvet depict creatures that are half human and half animal.

Sociology of religion
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society which includes: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes.[1] There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that it does not set out to assess the validity of religious beliefs. The process of comparing multiple conflicting dogmas may require what Peter L. Berger has described as inherent "methodological atheism".[2] Whereas the sociology of religion broadly differs from theology in assuming indifference to the supernatural, theorists tend to acknowledge socio-cultural reification of religious practice. Modern academic sociology began with the analysis of religion in mile Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, a foundational work of social researchwhich served to distinguish sociology from other disciplines, such as psychology. The works of Karl Marx and Max Weber emphasized the relationship between religion and the economic or social structure of society. Contemporary debates have centred on issues such as secularization, civil religion, and the cohesiveness of religion in the context of globalization and multiculturalism. The contemporary sociology of religion may also encompass the sociology of irreligion (for instance, in the analysis of Secular Humanist belief systems).


of religious groups

Main article: Sociological classifications of religious movements

According to one common typology among sociologists, religious groups are classified as ecclesias, denominations, sects, or cults (now more commonly referred to in scholarship as New Religious Movements). Note that sociologists give these words precise definitions which differ from how they are commonly used. In particular, sociologists use the words 'cult' and 'sect' without negative connotations, even though the popular use of these words is often pejorative.


and relevance today

Classical, seminal sociological theorists of the late 19th and early 20th century such as Durkheim, Weber, and Marx were greatly interested in religion and its effects on society. Like those of Plato and Aristotle from ancient Greece, and Enlightenment philosophers from the 17th through 19th centuries, the ideas posited by these sociologists continue to be examined today. More recent prominent sociologists of religion include Peter L. Berger, Robert N. Bellah, Thomas Luckmann, Rodney Stark, Robert Wuthnow, Christian Smith, and Bryan R. Wilson.


view of religion in classical sociology

Durkheim, Marx, and Weber had very complex and developed theories about the nature and effects of religion. Of these, Durkheim and Weber are often more difficult to understand, especially in light of the lack of context and examples in their primary texts. Religion was considered to be an extremely important social variable in the work of all three.



Despite his later influence, Karl Marx did not view his work as an ethical or ideological response to nineteenthcentury capitalism (as most later commentators have). His efforts were, in his mind, based solely on what can be called applied science. Marx saw himself as doing morally neutral sociology and economic theory for the sake of human development. As Christiano states, "Marx did not believe in science for sciences sakehe believed that he was also advancing a theory that wouldbe a useful tool[in] effecting a revolutionary upheaval of the capitalist system in favor of socialism." (124) As such, the crux of his arguments was that humans are best guided by reason. Religion, Marx held, was a significant hindrance to reason, inherently masking the truth and misguiding followers[3] . As we will later see, Marx viewed social alienation as the heart of social inequality. The antithesis to this alienation is freedom. Thus, to propagate freedom means to present individuals with the truth and give them a choice to accept or deny it. In this, "Marx never suggested that religion ought to be prohibited." (Christiano 126) Central to Marx's theories was the oppressive economic situation in which he dwelt. With the rise of European industrialism, Marx and his colleague Friedrich Engels witnessed and responded to the growth of what he called "surplus value." Marxs view of capitalism saw rich capitalists getting richer and their workers getting poorer (the gap, the exploitation, was the "surplus value"). Not only were workers getting exploited, but in the

process they were being further detached from the products they helped create. By simply selling their work for wages, "workers simultaneously lose connection with the object of labor and become objects themselves. Workers are devalued to the level of a commodity a thing" (Ibid 125) From this objectification comes alienation. The common worker is told he or she is a replaceable tool, alienated to the point of extreme discontent. Here, in Marxs eyes, religion enters. Capitalism utilizes our tendency towards religion as a tool or ideological state apparatus to justify this alienation. Christianity teaches that those who gather up riches and power in this life will almost certainly not be rewarded in the next ("it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle...") while those who suffer oppression and poverty in this life, while cultivating their spiritual wealth, will be rewarded in the Kingdom of God. Thus Marx's famous line - "religion is the opium of the people", as it soothes them and dulls their senses to the pain of oppression.



mile Durkheim placed himself in the positivist tradition, meaning that he thought of his study of society as dispassionate and scientific. He was deeply interested in the problem of what held complex modern societies together. Religion, he argued, was an expression of social cohesion. In the fieldwork that led to his famous Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim, a secular Frenchman, looked at anthropological data ofIndigenous Australians. His underlying interest was to understand the basic forms of religious life for all societies. In Elementary Forms, Durkheim argues that the totems the Aborigines venerate are actually expressions of their own conceptions of society itself. This is true not only for the Aborigines, he argues, but for all societies. Religion, for Durkheim, is not "imaginary," although he does deprive it of what many believers find essential. Religion is very real; it is an expression of society itself, and indeed, there is no society that does not have religion. We perceive as individuals a force greater than ourselves, which is our social life, and give that perception a supernatural face. We then express ourselves religiously in groups, which for Durkheim makes the symbolic power greater. Religion is an expression of our collective consciousness, which is the fusion of all of our individual consciousnesses, which then creates a reality of its own. It follows, then, that less complex societies, such as the Australian Aborigines, have less complex religious systems, involving totems associated with particular clans. The more complex a particular society, the more complex the religious system is. As societies come in contact with other societies, there is a tendency for religious systems to emphasize universalism to a greater and greater extent. However, as the division of labor makes the individual seem more important (a subject that Durkheim treats extensively in his famous Division of Labor in Society), religious systems increasingly focus on individual salvation and conscience.

Durkheim's definition of religion, from Elementary Forms, is as follows: "A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them." (Marx, introduction) This is a functional definition of religion, meaning that it explains what religiondoes in social life: essentially, it unites societies. Durkheim defined religion as a clear distinction between the sacred and the profane, in effect this can be paralleled with the distinction between God and humans. This definition also does not stipulate what exactly may be considered sacred. Thus later sociologists of religion (notably Robert Bellah) have extended Durkheimian insights to talk about notions of civil religion, or the religion of a state. American civil religion, for example, might be said to have its own set of sacred "things": the Flag of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. Other sociologists have taken Durkheim's concept of what religion is in the direction of the religion of professional sports, the military, or of rock music.



Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology and his rationalization thesis: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1915), The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1915), and Ancient Judaism (1920). In his sociology, Weber uses the German term "Verstehen" to describe his method of interpretation of the intention and context of human action. Weber is not a positivist in the sense that he does not believe we can find out "facts" in sociology that can be causally linked. Although he believes some generalized statements about social life can be made, he is not interested in hard positivist claims, but instead in linkages and sequences, in historical narratives and particular cases. Weber argues for making sense of religious action on its own terms. A religious group or individual is influenced by all kinds of things, he says, but if they claim to be acting in the name of religion, we should attempt to understand their perspective on religious grounds first. Weber gives religion credit for shaping a person's image of the world, and this image of the world can affect their view of their interests, and ultimately how they decide to take action. For Weber, religion is best understood as it responds to the human need for theodicy and soteriology. Human beings are troubled, he says, with the question of theodicy the question of how the extraordinary power of a divine god may be reconciled with the imperfection of the world that he has created and rules over. People need to know, for example, why there is undeserved good fortune and suffering in the world. Religion offers people soteriological answers, or answers that provide opportunities for salvation relief from suffering, and reassuring meaning. The pursuit of salvation, like the pursuit of wealth, becomes a part of human motivation.

Because religion helps to define motivation, Weber believed that religion (and specifically Calvinism) actually helped to give rise to modern capitalism, as he asserted in his most famous and controversial work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In The Protestant Ethic, Weber argues that capitalism arose in Europe in part because of how the belief in predestination was interpreted by everyday English Puritans. Puritan theology was based on the Calvinist notion that not everyone would be saved; there was only a specific number of the elect who would avoid damnation, and this was based sheerly on God's predetermined will and not on any action you could perform in this life. Official doctrine held that one could not ever really know whether one was among the elect. Practically, Weber noted, this was difficult psychologically: people were (understandably) anxious to know whether they would be eternally damned or not. Thus Puritan leaders began assuring members that if they began doing well financially in their businesses, this would be one unofficial sign they had God's approval and were among the saved but only if they used the fruits of their labor well. This along with the rationalism implied by monotheism led to the development of rational bookkeeping and the calculated pursuit of financial success beyond what one needed simply to live and this is the "spirit of capitalism."[4] Over time, the habits associated with the spirit of capitalism lost their religious significance, and rational pursuit of profit became its own aim. The Protestant Ethic thesis has been much critiqued, refined, and disputed, but is still a lively source of theoretical debate in sociology of religion. Weber also did considerable work in world religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. In his magnum opus Economy and Society Weber distinguished three ideal types of religious attitudes[5]: 1. world-flying mysticism 2. world-rejecting asceticism 3. inner-worldly asceticism He also separated magic as pre-religious activity.