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Ethnic Religions


Ethnic Religions Hinduism Largest Ethnic religion 900 million adherents 3rd largest religion worldwide Localized in India and Nepal Polytheistic Contributed to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ethnic Religions

Ethnic Religions
  • Largest Ethnic religion
  • 900 million adherents
  • 3rd largest religion worldwide
  • Localized in India and Nepal
  • Polytheistic
  • Contributed to Buddhism and Sikhism

  • Up to individual to decide the best way to
    worship God
  • There are various paths to reach God including
    path of knowledge, path of renunciation, path of
    devotion, or path of action
  • You can pursue your own path and follow your own
    convictions as long as they are in harmony with
    your true nature
  • Hindus see the divine in everything and are
    tolerant of all doctrines
  • You are responsible for your own actions and you
    alone suffer the consequences
  • No central authority or a single holy book

  • Law of Karma all actions produce effects in the
  • Dharma ones duty of station in this life,
    strive for harmonious and eternal truth within
  • Reincarnation previous acts determine the
    condition into which a being is reborn in one
    form or another
  • Must attain atman to break cycle of reincarnation
  • Liberation of the soul (moksha)
  • Nonviolence, veneration of all forms of life

  • Believe in a supreme being who has unlimited
  • Brahman
  • His manifestations are worshipped
  • The manifestation of God with the largest of
    adherents is Vaishnavism (70)
  • Worships the God Vishnu
  • A loving god incarnated as Krishna
  • Sivaism is dedicated to Siva (26)
  • Often presented in narratives
  • Ramayana Havana kidnaps Sita.
  • Rama rescues Sita and kills Havana
  • but the lovers are forced to separate.
  • Represents the tragedy in life in the
  • real world where love of the soul for
  • god is constantly being tested

  • No specific founder, no single theology, no
    agreement on origins
  • Word Hinduism sixth century B.C. to refer to
    people living in the area
  • Hinduism existed long before recorded history
  • Earliest surviving documents written in 1500 B.C.
  • Objects related to Hinduism date back to 2500
  • Aryan tribes from Central Asia invaded India
    around 1400 B.C. brought Indo-European language
    and religion
  • Aryans first settled in Punjab (Northern India)
  • Migrated later to Ganges River Valley
  • Centuries of intermingling with the Dravidians
    already living in the area modified their
    religious beliefs

  • Hindus prefer term Vedic
  • Veda are Vedic text that provide the only written
    source for understanding religious life in
    ancient India
  • Vedas compromised of 1,000 hymns followed by
    chants and prose works
  • Over time only highly-trained priest could
    perform the complicated Vedic rituals
  • Upanishads
  • Record wisdom of Hindu teachers and sages as far
    back at 1000 B.C.E.
  • Nature of morality and eternal life
  • Transmigration of souls
  • Causality in creation
  • Bhagavad-Gita
  • Part of the Mahabharata- one of the longest books
    in the world
  • Dialogue between Arjuna (hero) and Krishna
  • Incredibly important cultural text

Holy Places of Hinduism
  • Hinduism closely tied to geography of India
  • Natural features rank among holiest shrines
    (riverbanks ad coastlines)
  • Pilgrimage (tirtha) an act of purification
  • Act of receiving redemption
  • Holy Places organized into a hierarchy
  • Importance of shrines are established through
  • Example Mount Kailash
  • Base of Himalayas
  • Holy because Siva lives there
  • Many travel despite long distance
  • Purification can be attained by bathing in holy
  • Ganges is holiest river in India
  • Sprung forth from the hair of Siva
  • Hardwar the most popular site for purification
  • Recent improvements in transportation have
    increased accessibility to shrines

Ganges River
Places of Worship
  • Hindu Temples
  • Serves as home to one or more gods
  • Not for congregational worship
  • important religious functions take place in the
  • Wealthy individuals or groups maintain temple
  • Size and frequency determined by locals
  • Usually contains symbolic artifact or image of
    the god
  • Contains pool for ritual baths

Worship and Practices
  • Worship called Puja
  • Worship often takes place in home
  • No particular day or time
  • No religious hierarchy
  • Rituals
  • Marriage match must be approved by both parents,
    usually arranged, horoscopes drawn up, brides
    family pays dowry
  • Death body cremated, body not required after
    death due to reincarnation

  • Hinduism vs. Social Equality
  • Strongly challenged since 1800 since British
  • Hinduism has rigid caste system
  • The class or distinct hereditary order into which
    a Hindu is assigned according to religious law.
  • Each individual should belong to a caste in the
    social order
  • Caste system originated around 1500 B.C.
  • Brought by Aryan invaders
  • Four Castes
  • Brahmans priests
  • Kshatriyas warriors
  • Vaisyas merchants
  • Shudras agricultural
  • workers or artisans
  • Distinctively lower caste
  • Untouchables were the outcastes, lowest of all.
  • did work considered too dirty for other
  • descended from indigenous peoples
  • Castes split into thousands of subcastes
    throughout centuries
  • Type of Hinduism practiced, depends on caste

  • British pointed out problems with system
  • Neglect of the health of untouchables
  • Economic problems
  • System has relaxed in recent years
  • Indian government has legally abolished the
    untouchable caste
  • Now have equal rights
  • Quota system to give untouchables places in

  • Some believe its the first monotheistic religion
  • 14 million Jews today
  • - Considered parent religion of Christianity
    and related to Islam
  • Unique ethnic religion because its not clustered

  • An ethnic religion based in the lands bordering
    the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea
  • -Called Canaan in the Bible Palestine by the
  • Israel since 1948
  • 4,000 years ago Abraham, the patriarch or
    Judaism, migrated from present-day Iraq to
  • Abraham and God have a covenant in which the Jews
    agree to worship one God and God agrees to
    protect his chosen people, the Jews
  • Name Judaism derives from Judah, one of Abrahams
    sons. Israel is another biblical name for Jacob

History continued.
  • Moses led the Jews from Egypt, where they had
    been enslaved, to Canaan, where an internal
    conflict split the nation into two branches,
    Israel and Judah.
  • Israels tribes were lost to the conquerors
  • Judah survived longer, but were also conquered by
    Babylonians and Assyrians.
  • Jews regrouped and rebuilt Jerusalem
  • Romans conquered in 70 CE and drove the Jews out
  • A resurgence movement in 19th century divided
    Jews into Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews

  • Fundamental to Judaism is the belief in one
    powerful God
  • Called themselves the chosen people, because
    God had selected them to live according to his
    ethical and moral principles
  • Believe in one God who created humankind for the
    purpose of bestowing kindness upon them
  • People are rewarded for faith and are punished
    for sins, but they can atone
  • 10 commandments

Holy book
  • The Torah is comprised on the first five chapters
    of the Hebrew Bible
  • Contains Old Testament and the Talmud
  • Collection of rabbinical and historical teachings
    passed down from one generation to the next

Sacred Places and symbols
  • Most prominent feature of the Jewish-influenced
    cultural landscape is the synagogue
  • House of Jewish worship
  • Architecturally varied
  • All have an ark housing the Torah, written in
  • The six-pointed star is an important symbol

Sacred Sites
  • Most important site is Wailing Wall
  • It is at the edge of the Temple Mount
  • Temple Mount was once the site of two great
    Jewish Temples
  • Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac
  • Dome of the Rock
  • The western wall is all that is left of the
  • Jews gather there to remember the destruction of
    the temples and to offer prayers
  • called Wailing Wall to depict the suffering of
    the Jews over time

  • Different from other ethnic religions
  • it is practiced in places other than just the
    place of origin
  • Most Jews do not live in Israel due to the forced
    Diaspora of the Jews by the Romans in A.D. 70
  • Most migrated to Europe
  • Into Iberian peninsula
  • Often Jews were persecuted by other nationalities
  • Example Holocaust
  • Forced to live in Ghettos
  • Most Jews now live in Israel
  • Largest population of Jews live in the U.S.
  • Northeast, NY
  • Prominent in major cities in Western Europe

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Primary Branches of Judaism
  • Orthodox Judaism
  • Seeks to retain the original teachings of the
  • Reform Judaism
  • Developed in the 1800s as a branch attempting to
    adjust the religion to fit more modern times
  • Conservative Judaism
  • Most recent branch and is most moderate branch

  • Because of Diaspora, Jews were separated into
  • Ashkenazim Jews that lived in Germany and France
    before migrating to Eastern Europe
  • Mizrachim Jews that never left North Africa or
    Middle East
  • Sephardim Jews from Spain or Portugal
  • Large scale migration of Ashkenazim from Europe
    to America in 19th century
  • Today 13 million Jews in the world
  • 6 million live in North America
  • 5 million live in Israel

Jewish Calendar
  • classified as an ethnic religion because its
    major holidays are based on events in the
    agricultural calendar
  • Examples Fall is a time of hope- Rosh Hashanah
    (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Atonement) are in the
  • Other important holidays Pesach (Passover),
    Sukkot, and Shavnot (Feast of Weeks)
  • Today, Israel follows the lunar calendar rather
    than the solar calendar

  • no centralized structure of religious control.
  • To conduct a full service, 10 adult males must be

Other Ethnic Religions
East Asian Ethnic Religions
  • Taoism (Daoism)
  • Linked to philosopher Laozi, lived around 6th
    century C.E.
  • Laozi taught that people should live in harmony
    with nature and all aspects of their lives
  • Seek the way
  • Yin and yang
  • Created feng shui
  • Confucianism
  • Linked to Confucius, lived around 6th century
  • Built system of morals and a way of life for the
  • Focuses more on the worldly life than rather the
    ideas of heaven and hell
  • Shintoism
  • Syncretic, ethnic religion
  • Blends principles of Buddhism with a local
    religion of Japan
  • Forces of nature considered divine
  • Emperors become deities
  • From the 1800s until after WWII, Shintoism was
    the state religion of Japan
  • Emperor forced to renounce his divinity

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  • Term given to any ethnic religion in which a
    community follows its shaman
  • religious leader, healer, or truth knower
  • Strongest presence in Africa
  • but has historically existed in North America,
    Southeast Asia, and East Asia
  • Still important in parts of Mexico and Guatemala
  • Shamans teach animism
  • A belief that objects such as trees, mountains,
    and rivers have divine spirits in them
  • They are animated
  • Native American religious beliefs often have
    animistic traits, finding spiritual and religious
    significance in features of the landscape
  • 100 million people in Africa follow animistic

Issues with Ethnic Religions
  • Universalizing religions often supplant ethnic
  • East Asia
  • Buddhism can mingle with other religions
  • Embraced by Shintoists in Japan
  • Mauritius
  • Unihabited until 1638
  • Dutch settlers arrived
  • Brought Christianity
  • Controlled by French in 1721 who brought in
    African slaves
  • Brought Islam
  • Later Indian workers brought in by British
  • Brought Hinduism
  • Became independent in 1992
  • All religions diffused by migration
  • Africa
  • Less animists due to increase in Christians and
  • 46 of Africa is Christian
  • Can create merged religions
  • Led to creation of Christian churches not
    formally recognized