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Abstract

In India jyotiṣa, which includes mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and divination, is one of the six vedāṅgas, ancillary branches of the Vedas necessary for understanding them. The technical tradition visible today has recognisable roots in Vedic hymns and calendars dating from the late second to mid-first millennium bce. In the second century ce, however, the use of horoscopes (planetary positions at the moment of birth) to portend the fate of the individual was introduced from the classical west, thus integrating with the Vedic tradition to form a uniquely Indian astrology. Today, astrology is invariably concerned with questions of destiny, serving a variety of functions designed for people to manage the present and inquire into the future. Oftentimes, there are corresponding rituals, intended to facilitate harmonisation with the flow of time, or to amend a predicted future. This article highlights the history of astrology in India (from the Vedas through the introduction of horoscopes); its technical and interpretative procedures in light of Vedic tradition; planetary deities; temple ritual; concepts of soul, karma and time; pilgrimage (especially the Kumbha Mela); philosophical contexts (including those articulated in, and inherited from, the classical and Hellenistic world); archaeoastronomy (city design and temple architecture related to the stars); sociological contexts, political functions, and notions of world ages. Finally, it will consider colonial dynamics and the modern western adoption of Indian astrology in the context of theories of enchantment, and the postmodern in western ‘alternative’ spiritualities and New Age ideology.

In: Religious Transformation in Modern Asia

Abstract

The country of Indonesia is not only the world largest Muslim country but also has a diverse culture and history. This paper will try to answer the question of how the historical context and political environment have contributed to shaping the relationship between Islam and (secular) democracy in Indonesia today. By examining remnants of the country’s colonial past, independence from the Dutch in the late 40’s, through the authoritarian regime of Sukarno and The “New Order Administration” and how these periods of the country’s existence have helped shape the socio-religious environment of contemporary Indonesia. By looking at how the socio-religious context interacted with political context of the country during its modernizing transformation after the colonial period, I suggest that the Islam found in Indonesia, exists in a variety of ways but cannot be looked at without taking the historical context into consideration. As a consequence of large diversity among Indonesians both ethnically and religiously, Islam was never a united political force as in other countries. But how does the contemporary political environment affect religious identity construction for contemporary Indonesians? With the socio-religious climate in Indonesia one of dynamism, active participation and as it contains the largest Muslim populous in the world as well as one of the largest growing economies, Indonesia and the relationship between Islam and democracy is of increasing global importance.

In: Religious Transformation in Modern Asia

Abstract

This section features nine annotated translations of classical Chinese (kanbun) and classical Japanese sources significant to this study and to the Saidaiji order Mañjuśrī cult. The translations are intended to complement the historical narrative of the preceding main chapters, which are informed throughout by the texts. Encompassing a variety of genres, the majority of the texts have not been translated into modern languages by previous scholars. Even filtered through the lens of translation, the language and narrative flow of such primary texts gives fuller life to the voices of Nara Buddhist monastics and the broader exoteric-esoteric imaginaire informing those voices. The translations and annotations should thus enrich our understanding of the literature for the Saidaiji order and the Mañjuśrī cult.

In: From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan

Abstract

This concluding chapter places the diverse evidence for the Shingon Ritsu Mañjuśrī cult throughout the Kamakura period in the context of competing theories on the relationship between the exoteric and the esoteric in the cult and in the Saidaiji order more broadly. The chapter then situates these issues, and the findings of the book as a whole, within changing understandings of medieval Japanese Buddhism and suggests areas for future research.

In: From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan
In: From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan
In: Religious Transformation in Modern Asia
In: Discourses of Purity in Transcultural Perspective (300–1600).

Abstract

This chapter first establishes the historical context for the emergence of Eison’s Saidaiji order of monks and nuns (later known as the Shingon Ritsu school) and outlines their diverse contributions to Kamakura-period (1185-1333) religion and society. In particular, I investigate the Saidaiji order’s involvement in the Mañjuśrī cult and the twofold engagement with marginalized people and elites that is characteristic of those cultic activities. Next, I summarize the contents of the ensuing chapters and analyze the historiographical issues motivating this study. I argue that a lingering privileging of the traditionally understood “New Kamakura Buddhism” of the Pure Land, Zen, and Nichiren schools—evident even in such revisionist models of medieval Japanese religion as Kuroda Toshio’s theory of the “exoteric-esoteric system” (kenmitsu taisei)—continues to hamper the study of Eison’s and other medieval Nara Buddhist movements. I then show how this study aims to redress these biases.

In: From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan
In: Discourses of Purity in Transcultural Perspective (300–1600).