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Class notes

by: Lian Joseph
Lian Joseph
Virginia Tech

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About this Document

These notes will cover our final exam
Religion and Culture of Asia
Peter Schmitthenner
Study Guide
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This 4 page Study Guide was uploaded by Lian Joseph on Wednesday April 6, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to RLCL 1904 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Peter Schmitthenner in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Religion and Culture of Asia in Religious Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 04/06/16
3/2/16 ● One of two great Indian epics, comparable to Illiad (Mahabharata the other,  comparable to Odyssey) ● Approximate dates: 1000­600 BCE ● Began as oral stories; “authentic” version written in Sanskrit in early centuries CE ● Multiple versions exist; ex: versions in different regional languages, produced by  different religious/social communities  ● Continued appeal in contemporary India and Southeast Asia; ex: India TV series;  Javanese shadow puppet plays 3/21/16 Rammohan Roy (1772­1833): ● Example of an early modern Indian elite and reformer  ○ Worked toward abolition of sati (1829) ○ Formed Brahmo Samaj ■ “Society of god”; devoted for the monotheistic  interpretation of Hinduism  ● Arya Samaj: est. by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 ● Ramakrishna Mission: est. by Vivekananda (1863­1902) ● Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi (1869­1948): invents satyagraha; advocates  abolishment of untouchability, swaraj (“self­rule), swadeshi (“home­made”), and  sarvodaya (“welfare for all”) Islam’s response to colonialism in Asia ● Reformist movements, ranging from “traditionalist” (ex: Deoband) and European  modeled (ex: Aligrah) both examples from India Buddhism: Internal Changes ● Ashoka’s influence continued to inform Buddhist identity and relationship with  the state. (ex: pg 211), a single monk/council, appointed by the state, exerts leadership  over the sangha ● Monks used to gather good through “morning begging rounds” (still done in  Myanmar); but by the modern period lay community provides food for sangha; monks  cook, promotion of vegetarianism, alcohol permitted. ● Meditation: until modern era practices among elite monks and nuns; “mindfulness meditation” (vipassana) key practice focused on suffering, impermanence, and nonself;  mediation remains important, but no key to Buddhism practices, why? What becomes  focus? ● Merit (punya): progression of stages to earn  ○ Dana: selfless giving to diminish desire  ○ Shila: morality ● Merit (punya) becomes the goal of Buddhist laypersons; dana helps a person  accumulate it (punya) ● Merit­making includes organizing compassionate actions, fasting, meditation  ● Rituals (ex: recitation of mantras) and festivals (uposatha, death) developed to  solidify interdependence of monks/nuns and laity  ● Stupas/caityas become focal points of  3/23/16   Impacts of Western colonialism on Buddhism, 1500­1960 ● Buddhism suffers initial decline under most colonial powers, who did not fill role  of protector (Ashoka): seized ports, destroyed monasteries, forced conversion, end state  support for sangha (Buddhism also suffers under Japanese imperialism) ● Prompts institutional and doctrinal changes; inspired by new ideas/modes of  thought from the West; ex: “Buddhist work ethic” developed by Taixu (1889­1947) ● Buddhism begins to revive in the 20th century due in part ot Western  sympathizers and scholarship (Theosophical Society) ● Buddhism inspires new lay organizations in Japan ○ Soka Gakkai (established 1930): works for world peace and human welfare; currently 12 million members in Japan and 1.4 million worldwide Impacts of the West on East Asian Traditions: Confucianism diminished  ● National reforms looked to Western learning to produce wealth and power  ● Social hierarchy and low ranking of merchants (“parasites”) discouraged modern  trade ● Social norms criticized: three bonds (ruler/minister, father/son, husband/wife) and three principles (hierarchy, age, gender) viewed as obstacles of modernization; ex: family first sometimes resulted in inability to trust others as needed to develop economy ● Traditional education system blamed for lack of technical development:  “reproduction instead of innovation” Impacts of the West on East Asian Traditions: Neo­Shintoism ● Adopted as state religion (also called State Shinto) of Japan in 1882 (during Meiji  era 1868­1912); emperor made head of state, viewed as deity ○ Shinto is indigenous to Japan ● Shrines, temples integrated into state­governed system (ex: Yasukuni Shrine);  Japanese directed to worship daily facing Tokyo; 1889 Constitutions limited criticism of  Shinto doctrines and practices (Buddhism challenged; doesn’t represent the true spirit of  Japan)  ● Citizens encouraged to work hard to honor the emperor and promote national  good (influence of Confucianism) Emergence of New Religions: Impact of Christianity ● Catholic mission enter East Asia in 1500’s; little impact; Christianity prohibited  in Japan during Tokugawa era (1600­1868) ● Protestant mission enter significantly after 1800; influential in education, medical, and technical fields  Emergence of New Religions ● Began to emerge in 19th century; combined elements of Buddhism, Daoism,  Confucianism, indigenous traditions, Christianity, and ideas of West; promoted  egalitarianism: ○ Examples: Taiping Rebellion (1850­64): led by Hong Xiuquan  (1814­64) who claimed to be Jesus’ younger brother and sought to destroy other  religions; promoted strict moral code; attempted to overthrow Qing dynasty;  occupied Nanjing, but movement ultimately failed. ● Ch’ondogyo: established in Korea in 1860; belief in “Heavenly Way”, with whom each person has an intimate connection; over three million members at present ● Tenrikyo: established in Japan by Nakayam Miki (1798­1887); accepts  reincarnation until the heart is purified of the “8 dusts” (see page 304); salvation achieved through dance ritual 3/28/16 Asian Religions and Cultures in Postmodern Age: Focus on Indigenous Traditions  ● What generally characterizes religion and culture in the postmodern era? ○ Openness , tolerance, acceptance  ○ More heretics  ○ Collapse sacred stories, beliefs ○ Resurgence of within political life  ○ Diaspora; religion goes beyond  ○ Scientific and religious knowledge relative, competes on equal  footing  What has happened to indigenous tradition in the postmodern era? ● Disastrous impact of colonialism: elimination, suppression, and disappearance ○ Indigenous traditions merge with other traditions ● Objects of discrimination (ex: Ainu) ● Survival: Remote living or assimilation (syncretism) ● Survival: Coexistence with other traditions; ex: shamans in East Asia: dangki in  Taiwan and mudung in Korea (mostly women); role increased with modernization  ● Survival: Emergence of neo­shamanism, “white shamans” 3/30/16


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