The 5 large world religions
Very short the 5 large world religions (whereby the title is a link to wikipedia). Under the button ‘Religions’ I will further elaborate on this under the menu button ‘Religions’:
In India Hinduism is practiced as one of the oldest religions. The Hindus know innumerous gods. The most important ones are Brahman, Visjnuh and Shiva. The Veda’s, the holy books, describe the religion and the obligations.
The Hindu believes in reincarnation. The fulfilling of the religious obligations and the way of life influence a good or bad reincarnation.
The Hindu society is subdivided in five castes. The cast is determined by birth. It is impossible to change one’s caste. The highest caste is that of the Brahmans, the priests. Paria’s are the casteless Hindus. They belong to the banished ones of the society. The cow is considered to be holy, just like the Ganges river. In their religion’s practic the hindus often use meditation, ascetism and yoga.
In the sixties the Hare Krishna movement in Amsterdam with the Bhaghavad Gita (part of the Mahabharata) got rather much publicity.
The Indian prince Gautama (560-486 B.C.) belonged to the cast of the warriors. He gave up his luxurious life and began searching for the truth, which he found when sleeping under a fig tree. Humans need to free themselves from suffering in order to eventually reach the Nirwana in doing so. Thereby reincarnation plays an important role. The believers needs to abide to five tenets: letting live whatever lives, abandoning to take what has not been given, living a chaste life, telling the truth, and abandoning intoxicants. In Buddhism the often very concrete, logical-rational concepts drew my attention compared to the rather vague pastors jargon with which I grew up.
Buddhism was initially in particular a religion of monks. Later on there came forms of Buddhism, focused more on laymen. The command of non-violence made the euddhist to a vegetarian and pacifist.
Buddhism is in particular widespread in Indo-China and has moreover millions of followers in the remainder of South East Asia.
The Jews have a monotheist religion. Jaweh had chosen the people of Israel to perfect his Creation in the Promised Land (Palestine).
Moses wrote in the Thora a large number of laws, a.o. the Ten Commands, which punctually governed daily life. The Old Testament contains in addition to laws and tenets also pieces of Jewish history. Statements of Rabbi’s on the Thora were later on collected in the second Jewish book, the Talmud. Important Jewish holidays are Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Pesach, and Yom Kippur.
The Jewish people has often been suppressed (Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians , Persians en Romans). During the diaspora prophets took action, and the idea developed that a Messiah would come to liberate the people. The most important Jewish sanctuary was the temple in Jerusalem, which was demolished by the Romans in 70. What still remains is the so called Wailing Wall. The Jews hold their religious services the synagogue. The Sabbath (Saturday) is an absolute day of rest for the orthodox Jew.
In 610 the angel Jibril appeared to Mohammed (570-632), a trader who became rich from Mecca. He was ordered to spread the doctrine of the one and only god Allah. Islam had a lot in common with Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed considered himself as a prophet. He had the task to spread the tenets of Allah. His fellow- tribe members, the polytheist Arabs, initially were hostile towards him. So, he fled from Mecca to Medina (622). The Mohammedan calendar with this Hidjra. In 630 Mohammed conquered Mecca, the city of the Ka’aba. The triumph of the Islam had started. In the Holy War (Jihad) North Africa, Spain and the Near East were won for the Islam. The tenets of the Islam are rather simple. They are based on the so called five pillars: 1) the creed (shahadah), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan, and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime. Muslims are not allowed to eat pig meat or drink alcohol. They are not allowed to make pictures of living people. The mohammedan house of prayers is the mosque. Allah’s tenets are described in the Quran.
Nowadays there is large unrest about and between the groups within Islam as a religion and aggressive expressions under the pretext of the religion.
Jesus of Nazareth (± 3 B.C. – ca. 30 ), the leader of a Jewish sect, taught that he was the Messiah. As son of God he would, by his death do penance for the sins of humanity. Anyone who believed that would receive eternal life. Jesus was crucified by the Romans.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were later on described in the gospels. Together with other books they form the New Testament. The Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testament, is the basis of the christian religion. After Jesus’ death his message was spread by the apostles. Christendom appealed especially to the suppressed, because all people were equal for Christ. He preached a better (eternal) life. The first Christians were gruesome persecuted in the Roman Empire. They refused to honor the emperor as a god.
The christian church remained united up to the eleventh century. Then the christians from the West and the East separated. The catholic (=general) church split itself into the Roman Catholic – and the Greek Catholic Church (Schism 1054). In the sixteenth century the Reformation would start a large number of Protestant churches next to the Roman Catholic Church to be established.
A quite different – and also special – story with regard to the strong certainty of people disputing on the one and only true belief with all dogma’s and separations as a result is how christianity entered our country. I found that story about the roots of Westernse christianity in the first chapter of ‘De kerstening van de Lage Landen’ in the book ‘Verlichte voorgangers, de strijd tussen dogma en Bijbel in Nederland’ by C.J. den Heyer. I thought it might be useful to include for who is interested in it (unfortunately till now still only in Dutch).
Some more special writings
the Sumerian Gilgamesj-epos
With included the story of Utnapishtim on the deluge.
At the Sumerians there is also the mysterious story of the Annunaki.
The historical-mythological text of the K’iche’ (in the old spelling: Quiché), the Maya people from Guatemala. It starts with the creation myth of the Maya’s
Egyptian Book of the Dead
With a description of what happens with one’s soul in different stadiums after passing away.
Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Todol)
With various dying texts also a report of what happens with the soul in the various stadiums after passing away.
Nag Hammadi library
This is a series of texts from the beginning period of Christianity, which were discovered in 1945 by a farmer in a pot at a cemetery of the ruins of a previous monastery. Most of the texts originate from a gnostic environment, but there are also some hermetic writings and a fragment from Plato’s Republic. Inasfar the texts are related to Christianity, it concerns writings that were declared apocryphal, and are thus no part of the New Testament.