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#1
Old 04-26-2005, 10:53 PM
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Why did Hinduism survive while the other IE pagan religions died out?

Despite local variations, the various settled Indo-European agricultural societies had common origins, and several similarities in their indigenous religions -- broadly similar pantheons with powerful goddesses; strong traditions of heroic epics; a tripartite division of society into priests, warriors, and farmers; and widespread religious practices, such as a reverence for and keeping of perpetual flames, elaborate purificatory rituals, veneration of wells and small bodies of water, sacred threads, and the conception of a divine beverage (soma/haoma, ambrosia, the Nordic blot rituals, etc.).

Nevertheless, within a few hundred years after Christ, the Roman world was largely Christian, having abandoned the old paganism. (As Cecil says here, " the old Greek and Roman pagan religions were [...] completely out of gas."). Why the old paganism ceased to be compelling for a large part of the population I don't know, but the fact remains that a great many people found no problem abandoning their indigenous beliefs for an imported religion (unless you believe that Christianity was just paganism under a different name, which I don't).

The rest of the first millenium saw most of the northern European pagan cultures becoming Christianized -- the Celts, Slavs, and Germanic peoples. Christianity never took firm hold in Persia, but Islam did, and today Zoroastrianism is hanging on by a fibre of a thread.

So that leaves India. Despite an early Christian presence in the south, continuous trading contacts with the Islamic and Graeco-Roman worlds, and several centuries of Muslim rule, today only around one-eighth of the population is Muslim, and Hindus are by far the majority. The Graeco-Roman religion is long defunct, and the living transmission of Hellenic philosophy ceased. The Druids are gone, and we scarcely know the first thing about their religion. The best information we have on Balto-Slavic paganism is a set of 20th-century copies of a now-lost set of inscriptions that stand a good chance of having been forgeries. But Hindu philosophy is still being transmitted from teacher to student, and the old gods and old rituals are still going strong. So what is it about India that allowed Hinduism to survive and thrive, while everywhere else it was replaced almost completely by Christianity or Islam?
#2
Old 04-26-2005, 11:08 PM
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Why should the existence of Christianity mean Hinduism must die? And note Buddhism is still quite alive.
#3
Old 04-26-2005, 11:20 PM
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Why should the existence of Christianity mean Hinduism must die?
It doesn't. I just find it intriguing that the old Indo-European paganism died out everywhere but India.
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Old 04-27-2005, 12:29 AM
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The practitioners of Western European paganism were illiterate.

The most common religion among large armies in Western Europe after the time of Constantine was Christian.

It's a tough combination to beat, when you are trying to retain your congregation over generations.

Tris
#5
Old 04-27-2005, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by yBeayf
It doesn't. I just find it intriguing that the old Indo-European paganism died out everywhere but India.
It's fascinating to consider the correspondences, particularly visible under linguistic analysis of the names of various gods. It can be shown historically that the Hindu religion is descended from ancient IE pagan religion, in the same way that the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic (et cetera) traditions did.

I'm stating this because the replies so far seem to suggest that many people aren't aware of this. I myself was not until recently.
#6
Old 04-27-2005, 02:24 AM
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A couple theories:

One factor is that Hinduism is a remarkably adaptable religion. In it's current form probably contains just as much derived from local tribal gods and animist traditions as it does to the religion of the Aryan invader/Majaro Daro people (depending on what accounts you subscribe to.) The gods of the Vedas are rarely mentioned in later works (which are more popular now), and some gods don't show up in any written works at all. Some have merely transformed out of recognizability. Sarswati in the Vedas, for example, bears almost no resmeblence to the Sarwati of today. Many are very clearly the old local gods that have been incorporated in to the very different religion of the Aryans.

A good parallel is Shiva. Shiva is thought to be portrayed in the Vedas (the oldest Hindu works, thought to have been the foundation religion of the Aryans) as a dark, wild and dangerous jungle god. Even as he becomes more accepted and prominate in later works, he is generally on the outs with the rest of the pantheon who consider him a dark, wierd, freaky guy (or the supreme God, depending on who you agree with.) This resembles how the Aryans incorporated the ideas of the indiginous into their religion.

While Hinduism is usually not evangelical, it gladly swallows and incorporates whatever is around- occasionally claiming Jesus, Buddha, whatever, as holy figures. There is absolutely no central authority and even the word "Hinduism" means totally different things to different people in different areas. The very idea of a unified "Hinduism" or a "Hindu religion" is a relatively recent and fairly inaccurate concept. It's hard to destroy a religion that is so amorphous and decentralized.

Another factor is that the strict heirarchies of the caste system and sense of resignation to one's station in life was useful to the variety of invaders India has faced- including the Mughals and the British. A complacent and divided populace is much easier to rule and exploit than one with a unified outlook that calls for individuals to struggle against fate. The British especially benefited from internal divisions in the strict class system and the large amount of docile lower class laborers.

Other factors:

India also has a number of home-grown alternatives to Hinduism (Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists) that are more appealing to would-be converts than the big monotheistic religions.

We must remember that Christianity and Islam are the only two major evangalizing religions. These are the only real threats to Hinduism.

Hinduism is deeply tied to the land. Nearly every river, mountain, plain, village etc. is holy and plays in to the mythology. Nearly every Hindu in India lives within the actual settings of their mythology and walks the same ground as their gods. It's hard to sever that relationship with time and space.

Hinduism is a very deep and complicated religion. It addresses the essential, esoteric and perhaps unanswerable questions such as the meaning of life, the nature of reality, etc. and also provides a very easy pop-worship form. It can be as deep and rareified or have as much mass appeal as one needs. Few other pagan religions covered so much ground.
#7
Old 04-27-2005, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triskadecamus
The practitioners of Western European paganism were illiterate.
The Romans? The Greeks? For that matter, the Norse had writing, though I'm unsure how widely used it was.

I agree with what you say about armies, though. In parts of Europe, Christianity was spread with the sword. "Convert or die" tends to be an easy choice for most people. Were there any attempts of this kind in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibre
It's fascinating to consider the correspondences, particularly visible under linguistic analysis of the names of various gods. It can be shown historically that the Hindu religion is descended from ancient IE pagan religion, in the same way that the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic (et cetera) traditions did.
That's interesting. Any pointers to where I could learn more about this?
#8
Old 04-27-2005, 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hildea
That's interesting. Any pointers to where I could learn more about this?
Here's a good place to start.

Quote:
Pantheon

* *Dyeus Ph2ter(1), the god of the daylit sky was the chief god of the Indo-European pantheon. He survives in Greek Zeus (also Dias), Latin Jupiter, Sanskrit Dyaus Pita, Baltic Dievas, Slavic Div and Germanic Tyr (also Tiwaz) (c.f. also deus pater in the Vulgate, e. g. Jude 1:1)
* Plthivi Mh2ter (Tkon) was the (Mother) Earth.
* *Velnos, maybe a god of the night sky, continued in Sanskrit Varuna and Greek Uranos (which is also a word for sky)
* *H2ausos was the goddess of dawn, continued in Greek mythology as Eos, in Rome as Aurora, in Germanic mythology as Eostre, in Lithuanian mythology as Aura or Autaras, and in Hinduism as Ushas.
Note the similarity of Ju-piter/Dyaus Pita. Basically, God the Father.
#9
Old 04-27-2005, 04:44 AM
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Didn't the spread of Christianity throughout Europe also corrospond with the rise of certain political powers? If you're a powerful muckety muck in the pagan world you might be able to gain more power by converting to Christianity and uniting your people under that banner. Was there any real imperative for Hindu leaders to convert in order to gain or maintain political power?


Marc
#10
Old 04-27-2005, 08:11 AM
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Well...

A short history lesson first I guess.

Now first is some research on Aryans race (and just dont associate hitler with it at the moment) and you would find that they are the most successful race on the planet at the moment and the originated from around the Indus valley and spread through out Europe, Russia, England, and historically of recent times into the America's. So your north indian and your blond saxon are of same genetic heritage and only differ by the shades of brown. If you remove country borders on the world map and look at the Aryan extent you will see what I mean (Himalayan ranges prevented them from moving into Mongolia China etc

Now proper Hinduism is a dravidian race's way of life of the Indian subcontinent proper and these people are darker with more rounded features and whose glory age of civilization and texts are as old as the know civilizations known and these people as said were good at assimilating other religions and cultures and also good at producing new religions and cultures like for example Buddha was a hindu king before people took his teachings as a religion but really its a way of life to live in harmony with your immediate world around you meaning less emphasis on the physical wealth but on personal and spiritual wealth. I believe the Aryans conquered the Dravidians for a period of time.

So the question why Christianity is so wide spread well the answer is around you still which is the Roman Catholic version of Christianity which was embraced by the Romans who at the time of Christ the rulers of the world so to say and the people in their world made to adapt it and from which most people of Europe and elsewhere now follow.

Why Islam to the east of Europe well apparently Catholicism was seen to be a woman's religion and demeaning and so Islam became a 'Mans' religion and the warfare between christianity and Islam began and it so happens that Islam war conquests was more successful to the East of mid Europe and again the evidence is all around us at the moment.

Why the Indian subcontinent is not Muslim, well most of what is Islam now used to be Hindu and converted by the sword as they say, you were give the choice between the Koran and the sword and guess which most chose but they remained true Hindu's but their children were trained to be proper Muslims and eventually they Muslim invasion was stopped near modern day Punjab where the Siekhs or the Hindu warriors stopped the march and again the evidence is still there like Pakistan(Muslim) borders with Punjab(Hindu state of India)

Hope the question was answered.

Sam.
#11
Old 04-27-2005, 08:18 AM
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Note also, as a followup to sven's comments, that Indian Brahmanism/proto-Hinduism (say, mid-first millennium BCE) had some critical encounters with non-polytheistic "reforming" religions (namely, early Buddhism and Jainism) before Christianity was around. This probably contributed to the doctrinal diversity and flexibility of Hinduism that later helped buffer it against conversion pressures from Christianity.
#12
Old 04-27-2005, 08:31 AM
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Actually, Christianity does have a major presence in India. Infact, te religious conversions are a big issue during election times here. India's north east region is a Christian majority region, and there are evangelical movements in th etribal parts of Gujarat (western India), Madhya Pradesh (central India), Jharkhand (eastern India), and if reports are to be believed, even in Kashmir (north), which is a Muslim majority state.
And as for why Hinduism survived, in addition to those stated above, from time to time, there have been people of prominence, saints, learned men and women, who have contributed to its thought. People like Tulsidas (saint), Kabir (saint), Meera (saint), Vivekananda (saint), Shri Rama Krishna Paramhansa (saint). Now these persons are not considered as gods by the Hindus, but ohly persons, who had contact with god. We still recite the hymns they compsed in praise of gods, and they are still very popular. Plus, there are the occassional God-men like Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Bala Sai Baba, who claim ot be reincarnations of the God-man, Shirdi Sai Baba, who lived more than a century ago. Personally, I too believe in Shirdi Sai Baba, and so does a large Indian population, Muslims, Sikhs, Jain, Buddhists and Christian included.
#13
Old 04-27-2005, 09:13 AM
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In it's current form probably contains just as much derived from local tribal gods and animist traditions as it does to the religion of the Aryan invader/Majaro Daro people (depending on what accounts you subscribe to.)
Well, then again, so did the Roman religion, who borrowed many of their most important deities (Apollo, Minerva, Juno, Neptune) from the Etruscans who they displaced.

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While Hinduism is usually not evangelical, it gladly swallows and incorporates whatever is around- occasionally claiming Jesus, Buddha, whatever, as holy figures.
The same, though, can be said of the Graeco-Roman paganism, and the religions of the northern Europeans -- they were notoriously syncretistic, especially the Romans, who would worship any god as long as it was cool.

I've not seen anyone comment on Persia yet. What allowed Islam to take over so completely there? Was it that the Zoroastrian religion was simply tied too tightly to the old regime?
#14
Old 04-27-2005, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yBeayf
I've not seen anyone comment on Persia yet. What allowed Islam to take over so completely there? Was it that the Zoroastrian religion was simply tied too tightly to the old regime?
That, and I would guess that culturally, the shift from one monotheism to another was not that traumatic. I can see something similar happenning with the mostly Eastern Christian populations of Syria, Asia Minor and Egypt, specially when you count in the special surtax imposed on "Peoples of the Book" who wanted to remain unconverted.


In the case of India, the cultural/social component of the Hindu tradition, specially the caste system, and the critical mass of population may have made it much more sustainable. Also, India's religions enjoyed a high level of theological and mystical sophistication; in the West, Christianity and Islam had coopted Platonist and Aristotelian philosophy and elements of prechristian mystic traditions (Essenes, Gnostics). Within the Greco-Roman world, Christianity mostly displaced the old religion through the social exhaustion of the old system, with the Germanic and Slavic peoples it prevailed through better organization. The major "universalist" religion from India, Buddhism, since it does not have the Chritian/Islamic tendency to crush opposition, allowed the Hindu traditions to continue pretty much uninterrupted. When the Moslems did get to India, not only did they not conquer the whole place (major non-Moslem states remained), but they were already in "empire" mode and not as zealous about forcing everyone in sight to convert-or-else. The autochtonous Indian Christian Churches were never the churches of empire-builders, and by the time Western Christians got to India, it was a pretty even match socially and technologically, not a relative cakewalk like in the Americas.
#15
Old 04-27-2005, 12:12 PM
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Thanks for the link, John Mace
#16
Old 04-27-2005, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samsaid
Well...

A short history lesson first I guess.

Now first is some research on Aryans race (and just dont associate hitler with it at the moment) and you would find that they are the most successful race on the planet at the moment and the originated from around the Indus valley and spread through out Europe
This is very dubious, to say the least. Attempts to tie the Aryans to the old north Indian centers of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa are to the best of my knowledge not well accepted, seemingly being primarily an outgrowth of nationalistically motivated research from India. Far as I've read the best guess remains that the Indo-Iranians/Indo-Aryans originated, or at least emerged on the historical stage from western central Asia, advancing out of the steppe country into Persia/north India in one direction and out into the Russian steppe in another.

The farthest penetration on Indo-Iranian peoples into Europe was probably the Ukraine ( Scythians/Sarmatians and their descendants such as the Alans ), with the minor exception of Slavicized tribes like the Serbs and Croats, whose names appear to be of Iranian origin ( probably reflecting an at one time ethnically distinct ruling class ), but were probably largely or completely Slavic in composition by the time they entered the Balkans.

Quote:
So your north indian and your blond saxon are of same genetic heritage and only differ by the shades of brown.
Nah. Except in the broadest sense of all human "races" being very similar genetically compared to some of our closest relatives among the great apea ( i.e. Chimpanzees are much internally genetically diverse as a species than we are. The "blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan" Nazi fantasy was just that - the Germanic people were NOT "Aryan" to any great extent.

Quote:
Now proper Hinduism is a dravidian race's way of life of the Indian subcontinent proper
As briefly discussed in an earlier thread the best guess is that modern Hinduism represents a syncretism of ancient Fravidian and "Aryan" religious beliefs - the Vedas are certainly all best known in their earliest form from Indo-Iranian Sanskrit writing ( close to old Persian ) and many Hindu gods seem to bear the name of common Indo-Iranian deities.

Quote:
Why Islam to the east of Europe well apparently Catholicism was seen to be a woman's religion and demeaning and so Islam became a 'Mans' religion and the warfare between christianity and Islam began
Another assertion I find very dubious. All the Abrahamic faiths have very patriarchal roots.

Quote:
Why the Indian subcontinent is not Muslim, well most of what is Islam now used to be Hindu and converted by the sword as they say, you were give the choice between the Koran and the sword and guess which most chose
Forced conversion, though it occurred, was the exception rather than the rule ( indeed technically Islam abhors forced conversion, though this has of course been ignored at times ). Conversion happened for a variety of reasons, access to the highest echelons of power and economic status not being the least of them. However in some cases conversion was not necessary, as we see the rapid growth of populations through natural means in areas where Islam had become the dominant folk religion ( for a variety of reasons, including imperfect penetration of organized Hinduism ) - East Bengal being the prijme example of this. It wasn't that the Hindus were all slaughtered or converted in East Bengal - it just was very lightly populated prior, isolated and only partially "Hinduized" to the Muslim conquests and naturally shifting hydrology led to shifting economy which led to a huge population boom among the local Muslim populace.

Quote:
but they remained true Hindu's but their children were trained to be proper Muslims and eventually they Muslim invasion was stopped near modern day Punjab where the Siekhs or the Hindu warriors stopped the march and again the evidence is still there like Pakistan(Muslim) borders with Punjab(Hindu state of India)
The furthest penetrations of India by Islamic rulers are to be found duiring the rule of the Delhi Sultan Muhammed ibn-Tughluq and the Mughal Padishah Alamgir ( Auranganzeb ) - both advanced well south of the Deccan to incorporate well over 90% of the subcontinent. The current border of India and Pakistan in purely artificial and modern and forms no ancient dividing line of conquest. There were Muslim-ruled ( but largely Hindu-populated ) states dominating central India for centuries.

Also Sikhism, a syncretism of Islam and Hinduism, is a relatively more modern ( ~500 years old ) religion that played no part in the early Muslim conquests ( indeed it was originally pacifistic ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by yBeayf

I've not seen anyone comment on Persia yet. What allowed Islam to take over so completely there? Was it that the Zoroastrian religion was simply tied too tightly to the old regime?
My opinion? Part of it may have been its somewhat close ties to the machinery Sassanid state and had been riven by internal disssension ( Mazdakism et al ) before the conquest. But I think in good part it was simply swamped out - it was unique in that Islam conquered ALL of the former Zoroastrian areas and Zoroastrianism had no real native refugium. Further Iran quickly became the center of the Caliphate economically and politically and the old Persian elite that became the dominant lettered class had plenty of good reasons to convert ( all the more so as the Arabocentric Umayyads were displaced by Persianocentric regime ). Still it did take centuries for Zoroastrianism to almost completely fade in its homeland.

As for India, it a) was never completely conquered and b) was hugely populous with a very decentralized, but highly flexible Hindu system. The Muslim rulers soon found it to their best advantage ( actually it was probably driven by sheer necessity ) to simply co-opt local Hindu elites to act as intermediaries with the greater population. Given this, there was considerably less to be gained by converting to Islam - one could continue rule as a Hindu prince quite comfortably under Muslim rule and contrary to some modern theorizing, Islam was not such the egalitarian leveler as to allow a mere peasant to significantly advance himself by converting. Conversions did occur, especially by Sufi orders. Just not at a level to completely alter Indian society to the level did in Persia.

But India is still the third-largest Muslim country in the world .

- Tamerlane
#17
Old 04-27-2005, 10:23 PM
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A couple issues

There is no proof that Hinduism addresses a wider range than the other pagan religions. Even using the term "pagan" shows a bias in one direction or another. Hinduism is a very broad categorization as has been pointed out.

Christianity has shown an incredible willingness to assimilate other religious traditions. So while Christianity may not be of those pagan traditions, it has assimiliated much of them.

The Native American cultures were NOT technologically or socially inferior to the west, they were only MILITARILY inferior. Cortez took advantage of a populace ready to revolt against the Aztecs the pre-eminent empire in the Americas. The Incas were performing brain surgery. Cortez's army was mostly made up of tribes conquered by the Aztecs. Their geographic isolation made them extremely susceptible to strains of virii they had never encountered.

The Irish up until the Irish Potato Famine were only nominally catholic half the time. If you go and spend any time in most locales you'll find that their pagan tradition is alive and well in their folklore.

Quantity of people who are willing to claim a religion is not a good indicator of anything.

The Zoroastrians are not hanging by a thread, they have a long tradition that is relatively intact, there are plenty of American Christians completely ignorant to their own faith. I'd wager (and I have nothing to back this up) that the average Zoroastrian born into their faith knows a whole hell of a lot more about it than the average Christian born into theirs.

I'd say that your idea that Hinduism has survived where other traditions have not, is not true. All religions have metamorphosized throughout the ages, they have all mixed with one another and influenced one another.

Erek
#18
Old 04-27-2005, 11:32 PM
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The Zoroastrians are not hanging by a thread, they have a long tradition that is relatively intact, there are plenty of American Christians completely ignorant to their own faith.
There's only about 100,000 Zoroastrians left, and to be considered one you must be born of two Zoroastrian parents. They don't accept converts. Intermarriage is at an all-time high. That's not a recipe for long-term survival.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:18 AM
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Wow. On second glance, lordy, did I butcher that post. Even beyond the misspellings and extra letters there are lots of dropped and misplaced words - for exampleAbbasid should follow Persianocentric, prior should be before to the Muslim conquests, not isolated, etc..

I wouldn't normally bitch about my typing shortcomings, but man...that sucked .

Anyway, mostly posting to say that there doesn't seem to be complete consensus on whether or not conversion to Zoroastrianism is allowed, whether from mixed marriages or just from personal interest. Seems to break down along "conservative" vs. "non-conservative" interpretations.

But I would agree that even if it doesn't appear that Zoroastrianism is going to completely die out anytime soon, it's still true that it isn't exactly thriving. It seems to be hanging on, but that's about it.

- Tamerlane
#20
Old 04-28-2005, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by yBeayf
There's only about 100,000 Zoroastrians left, and to be considered one you must be born of two Zoroastrian parents. They don't accept converts. Intermarriage is at an all-time high. That's not a recipe for long-term survival.
Again, I would like to stress quality over quantity. While there are only 100,000 Zoroastrians, I'd be willing to bet that they have a much more intimate connection with their faith than the average Christian. I'd be willing to bet that even the impious Zoroastrian is much more intimately connected to the religion than the average christian, BECAUSE of the community aspect of it. When there are only 100,000 of you in the world, it's not impossible to get to know almost every single one of them, and I'd be willing to bet there are ways to spot one of that kind. I have found this myself being involved in organizations that engender camaraderie, I can only imagine what it would be like if it was hereditary and brought from a tradition of thousands of years. So while I think that yes sheer quantity is a factor in the survival of the religion, I don't think that purity is something to be scoffed at. This is mere conjecture on my part, inferences that I am drawing from my experience with other religions that are less diluted than Christianity. So I am assuming that Zoroastrianism must be super concentrated in order to maintain itself in this condition for so long.

Someone in another thread mentioned something about how they didn't take converts because of a promise to some King that they wouldn't try to convert his people in exchange for peaceful coexistance. That kind of faith is something that can be the backbone of a community. I suppose this question can best be answered if we had some sort of idea of the attrition rate, or whether we can see trends of diminishing population sizes in the last 100 years.

I just disagree with the quantity argument. Yes, something catastrophic could wipe out half of all Zoroastrians overnight, but barring that, they can continue to live with a maintained populace size for the next 1000 years or more.

Erek
#21
Old 04-28-2005, 02:51 AM
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I missed the part about Intermarriage. In that case I suppose Zoroaster's days are numbered. Good thing life on Earth only has 7 more years anyway. ;p

Erek
#22
Old 08-23-2016, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by yBeayf View Post
Despite local variations, the various settled Indo-European agricultural societies had common origins, and several similarities in their indigenous religions -- broadly similar pantheons with powerful goddesses; strong traditions of heroic epics; a tripartite division of society into priests, warriors, and farmers; and widespread religious practices, such as a reverence for and keeping of perpetual flames, elaborate purificatory rituals, veneration of wells and small bodies of water, sacred threads, and the conception of a divine beverage (soma/haoma, ambrosia, the Nordic blot rituals, etc.).

Nevertheless, within a few hundred years after Christ, the Roman world was largely Christian, having abandoned the old paganism. (As Cecil says here, " the old Greek and Roman pagan religions were [...] completely out of gas."). Why the old paganism ceased to be compelling for a large part of the population I don't know, but the fact remains that a great many people found no problem abandoning their indigenous beliefs for an imported religion (unless you believe that Christianity was just paganism under a different name, which I don't).

The rest of the first millenium saw most of the northern European pagan cultures becoming Christianized -- the Celts, Slavs, and Germanic peoples. Christianity never took firm hold in Persia, but Islam did, and today Zoroastrianism is hanging on by a fibre of a thread.

So that leaves India. Despite an early Christian presence in the south, continuous trading contacts with the Islamic and Graeco-Roman worlds, and several centuries of Muslim rule, today only around one-eighth of the population is Muslim, and Hindus are by far the majority. The Graeco-Roman religion is long defunct, and the living transmission of Hellenic philosophy ceased. The Druids are gone, and we scarcely know the first thing about their religion. The best information we have on Balto-Slavic paganism is a set of 20th-century copies of a now-lost set of inscriptions that stand a good chance of having been forgeries. But Hindu philosophy is still being transmitted from teacher to student, and the old gods and old rituals are still going strong. So what is it about India that allowed Hinduism to survive and thrive, while everywhere else it was replaced almost completely by Christianity or Islam?
It is truly an amazing occurrence, that practices and rituals which really really old are still in practice. I had the same thought last week, when i had visited my village near Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India for the yearly Pongal cooking festival, also known as aadi pongal. (Please note this is different from "Pongal" festival that happens during Mid of Jan.) (The difference is during Jan Pongal we do it in our current homes, during aadi pongal we go to our ancestral temple and keep pongal there).

So coming to the reason behind this festival (aadi pongal) as quoted by my mother "Your father's line of ancestors have been keeping it in this spot (a nondescript, small & old temple) for several generations (at least 10+), they all come here (maybe in spirit form) & see that we have been keeping the tradition alive, making their hearts overflow with joy and shower our family with blessings of all those who were here before us".

The entire process felt ancient & the nuances of conducting the rituals were done by a local priest (not the Brahmin one) in turn instructed by old people (70+). For example we needed to heat the rice in water so that it overflows the container which holds them & the tricky part is one should not use any modern equipment (no petrol or kerosene), all done with rocks and sticks + match sticks. All this followed by sacrificing the Goat. The entire experience created a deep connection between the land and my conscious (i really dont know why, but it did).

I could only guess why such rituals are still at practice in India, it all goes to the firmness of the belief and the way next generation is initiated into this. (most of the participants were from Chennai and some from Bangalore, major/morden cities in India). I wouldn't want this practice to end before my time is over here.
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