Spread of Christianity and Buddhism Essay

Pages: 4 (1525 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

The Spread of Buddhism and Christianity

Throughout history people have always exchanged goods, technologies,

ideas, and customs. Likewise religions were also spread out of their

homelands due to contact with other societies. This phenomenon also caused

several religions to no longer be fringe cults but instead widely accepted

global institutions. Three religions that would serve as an example of this

would be Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Buddhism, Christianity, and

Islam each had very dedicated followers that considered it their

responsibility to spread the holy word, and teach the values of the faith

who had not yet been enlightened by the religion itself. Some followers

went to great measures in order to further strengthen their religion,

connection with the converted, and the lands in which they inhabited.

The centuries leading up to the Common Era represented a sustained

period of great intellectual, philosophical and social enlightenment in

India. India was then a land ruled primarily by Vedic religious ideology

and steeped in the hierarchical authority of its clergy. Though the Veda

faith was fundamentally guided by the monistic principles of self-

discovery, it emphasized this as a means through which to achieve a oneness

with God. The theology intimated that "God is one without a second,

absolute and indivisible. Though impersonal, beyond name and form, God

assumes various personal forms to reveal itself to us. God is our soul. WeBuy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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are primarily consciousness, part of the cosmic consciousness." (Sotkin,

1). This promoted the notion of spirituality as an individual pursuit that

was aided by community dedication.

Veda was not simply the religious establishment but also the social

order which dominated India and, in its essence, was an elemental piece of

Hinduism, moved by its search to achieve harmony with Brahma. This is the

Essay on Spread of Christianity and Buddhism Assignment

supreme being of polymorphous identity described above. The dominance of

its doctrines in India, and the consequent liberalness of ideological

exploration permitted by its tenets precipitated the founding of numerous

principled offshoots. One of the most important of those offshoots,

Buddhism, would itself levy a cultural impact on India that would

ultimately influence its philosophical outlook, its political structure and

its social order in ways that are tangible even today. For a period in

history that has since passed, Buddhism enjoyed a hegemonic dominance in

India that had the effect of advancing many of its most humanistic

concerns, such as social equality, spiritual harmony and intellectual

enlightenment and it is this very same set of values which has sustained

Buddhism as a powerful force in India today.

Buddhism originated in the Northern Indian sub continent in the

foothills of the Himalayan mountain range. . Siddhartha Gautama was a

prince, born to great wealth in a year that is estimated to be around 563

B.C. He was raised in excess but, due to revelations as a youth that were

incited by his growing cognizance of the suffering in which other men

lived, he left the confines of his lush life in order to better understand

himself and, in turn, human nature. It was in his journey that Buddhism

found its roots and its first proselytizing master. His experiences and

understanding of the One, as it passed from one life into another in

accordance with Vedic teachings, became the pervading focus of his

meditation. Through lucid communication with his consciousness, he hoped

to learn of the reincarnating cycle through which he had come to be

Siddhartha and through which he would cease to be this person. After

undergoing an intense phase of self-denial, through which he came to reject

the excesses of physical desire, Siddhartha became "the Buddha, or

"Awakened One." Instead, however, of passing out of this cycle himself, he

returned to the world of humanity in order to teach his new insights and

help free humanity of their suffering." (Hooker, 3).

He traveled the country of India for the whole of his life, preaching

that which he had learned in his own trials. The men who would come to

follow him and to take in his teachings, would become his disciples.

Buddha would live to the age of eighty, and his singular influence would

spread the tenets of his philosophy to a population of avid followers.

Still, at his death, Buddhism was not considered a significant religion in

India. Rather, it was a sect with somewhat marginalized views that set it

apart from a Hindu culture which was becoming ever-more refined as a mode

to political and sociocultural authority. Due to such a circumstance,

Buddhism was perceived by many as a mere sect of Hindu rather than a

philosophy of its own foundations. Its practitioners, leading into the

Common Era, were a statistically non-substantive population of Indians who

"wandered the countryside in yellow robes (in order to indicate their

bhakti , or 'devotion' to the master). For almost two hundred years, these

followers of Buddha were a small, relatively inconsequential group among an

infinite variety of Hindu sects." (Hooker, 3).

It was only when the Mauryan dynasty underwent conversion to Buddhism,

that to an extent, so too did India. Asoka's conversion did not prompt him

to " make it a state religion, but supported all ethical religions. He

organised the spreading of Buddhism throughout India." (Rahula, 2) Its

ideological underpinnings would take root with the people due to a number

of its philosophical predispositions. When Siddhartha arrived at a point

of enlightenment, he recognized that the emphasis on rituals directed at an

omnipotent god are misplaced.

The degree of atheism or agnosticism inherent to the nature of

Buddhism, which accepts nothing as absolute and refines its cognizance

through prying questions rather than definitive answers, replaced the theo-

centricity of Hindu faith with a humanistic approach to the moral world.

This promoted a sense of cultural enlightenment in India which sought to

contend with issues of human equality, socialistic community support

systems and equanimity in affairs of state. From here, its spread was

inevitable and rapid, leaving India and taking firm root throughout Asia,

such that even as it faded to the return influence of Hindu in India, it

would become a dominant force in China, Japan and elsewhere.

In this regard, its path of evolution was not unlike Christianity.

Today, Christianity is the world's most dominant religion, with its

institutions and its belief system levying an impact as great as any of

history's philosophical or ideological phenomena. Its entrenchment in

seats of world power and in the lives of nearly one-third of the world's

population has seen it to a status which tends to obscure quite a

tumultuous history. Such is to say that Christianity's gloried present

seems to provide little evidence to outsiders of its fractious history.

Such discussions as that in the Barrett (2001) text, the World Christian

Encyclopedia, meditate on the literally tens of thousands of Christian

denominations which have come into phase over the duration of the faith's

existence in order to answer to its complex array of questions on belief,

morality and community. In this, we can glimpse a more appropriate

understanding of Christianity, historically, as an ideology which only

gradually give rise the ethnocentricity which holds all of these

denominations in a common category. A practical understanding of its past

will show that Christianity was truly a multicentric faith in its first

centuries, owing to its relative modesty of influence and its own emergence

from another faith.

Consistent with this recurrent idea that Christianity would undergo a

gradual evolution to help produce the identity that we know today, a

consideration of the traditions of worship in Christianity shows us that

this religion only resembles that of the previous 2000 years in its claim

to the origins of Jesus Christ. The manner in which churches and

individuals have sought to engage this claim through praise and extolment

has varied considerably over this duration.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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