Category: religion

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The first record of a bagel is in Krakow, Poland in 1610. A document issued by the Jewish elders of Krakow, with instructions on various aspects of Jewish life, included the recommendation to give “beygls” to women after childbirth. It was part of a section on how to properly celebrate the birth of a boy.

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One man, Kumarajiva, is responsible for revolutionizing Chinese Buddhism. He lived from 334 to 413 CE during China’s Sixteen Kingdoms Era, and was tasked by the Later Qin emperor with translating key Buddhist texts into Chinese from Sanskrit. This is harder than mere literal translation. Sanskrit and Chinese are very different, linguistically, and Kumarajiva complained that the translation work was like having to eat rice after someone else had already chewed it!

Kumarajiva was able to translate many key Buddhist texts. In China today, millions of Chinese speak the words of Kumarajiva every day.

YAZIDISMYAZIDISM is a syncretic, monotheistic …

YAZIDISM

YAZIDISM is a syncretic, monotheistic religion practiced by the Yazidis, an ethnoreligious group which resides primarily in northern Iraq, northern Syria, and southeastern Turkey. Yazidism is considered by its adherents to be the oldest religion in the world and the first truly monotheistic faith. The Yazidi calendar states that the religion, as well as the universe, is almost 7,000 years old, which is 5,000 years older than the Gregorian Calendar and 1,000 years older than the Jewish calendar. Yazidism has had a rich history of syncretic development. For thousands of years, Yazidism incorporated elements of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which coalesced from 1162 CE to the 15th century CE. Ultimately, this process created Yazidi culture and ethnic identity. However, to understand Yazidism, its history must first be explained.

Almost nothing is recorded about the history of the first Yazidis. The etymology of the word ‘Yazidi’ is uncertain. Scholars debate whether or not it comes from the Middle Persian and Kurdish Yazad, which means ‘God.’ Other scholars believe that the Yazidis originated in the Zoroastrian city of Yazd in Iran. Another theory is that the Yazidis are descended from the Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Mu’awiya, who reigned from 680 to 683 CE and killed the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein ibn ‘Ali. After the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate in 750 CE, descendants of the royal family and other Umayyad sympathizers fled into the Kurdish mountains from the rival Abbasid Caliphate. There, they were welcomed by the Kurds, who remained loyal to them. The theory concludes that the Umayyad refugees intermarried with the Yazidis, passing along their admiration for Yazid ibn Mua’wiyah, their ancestor and former ruler.

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Ancient Egyptian Festival So Important It Got …

In ancient Egypt, the coming of the annual Nile flood was eagerly anticipated. The floods made Egypt fertile, replenishing the fields with beautiful, dark silt. This joyous season was also when Egypt held one of its most spectacular festivals: the Feast of Opet.

Held annually in the city of Thebes, the main attraction was a huge procession from the temple complex at Karnak to the temple of Luxor, with statues of the cities’ most sacred gods at the heart of the parade. Opet’s formal name is “heb nefer en Ipet” or “beautiful feast of Opet.” It is believed that “opet” or “ipet” is the holiest inner sanctuary of the temple of Luxor.

The beautiful feast of Opet was so important to the ancient Egyptians that the second month of the Nile flood, when the festival usually occurred, was named after the festival: “pa-en-ipet” or “the [month] of Opet.” Fitting, because the festival slowly grew from 11 days in the mid-1400s BCE to 27 days in the mid-1100s BCE. The festival really was its own month! And the ancient Egyptians probably did not mind having so much time to party.

Ayurveda’s Three Classics

Ayurveda, a ancient medical tradition from India, has three great ancient authors. Each is known for one significant text. Today they are understood to be compilation texts, summaries of schools of medicine at the time of their writing, but the authors are believed to have been real people who wrote each individual book. Like an encyclopedia.

Sushruta, writing sometime in the 600s BCE (probably) wrote the “Sushruta Samhita,” a treatise on medicine and surgery with a large section dedicated to medical instruments as well. Charaka, alive sometime in the 200s BCE, wrote a treatise focusing solely on medicine, the “Charaka Samhita.”

The third great author, Vagbhata, came much later in the 600s CE. His two major ayurvedic treatises similarly covered a broad swathe of medicine, but they also explicitly referenced the Sushruta Samhita and the Charaka Samhita, covering where they disagreed and the various solutions that had arose to those disagreements over the centuries.

The Great Hare: A Trickster Who Helped Create …

Nanabozho is a prominant trickster figure, found in most Algonquin tribes’ belief system. Stories about him vary considerably from tribe to tribe. His parents change, is sometimes given siblings, and stories about his deeds would fill a book. Nicknamed “the Great Hare” although he is rarely shown as a rabbit, Nanabozho is a transformer figure, a creator and provider of food and representative of the various life force(s). Although a bit of a trickster figure, Nanabozho is not truly immoral or even seriously inappropriate. He is viewed as a virtuous hero and friend of humankind who happens to have a mischievous side.

There’s so much contradictory information about Nanabozho so that is where I will stop. If you want to read some of the many tales about Nanabozho, here is a list to get you started.

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Koreans invented moveable type made of durable metal in the 1200s CE. The oldest existing book made from moveable metal type is the Jikji a collection of Buddhist teachings, hymns, eulogies, and poetry. It was compiled by a Korean Buddhist monk named Baegun, and printed in 1377.

Corpus Domini, Campobasso, Italy, 1955. Photographed by David…

Corpus Domini, Campobasso, Italy, 1955. Photographed by David Seymour.

Ritual axe decorated with skulls and crown mot…

Ritual axe decorated with skulls and crown motifs. The handle and axehead are glass, and the rest is gilded bronze. The axe was likely to cut through delusions or sever psychological attachments to the worldly life, allowing one to spiritually evolve.

From the town of Derge in the Kham region (today’s Tibet). 1500s – 1600s CE.

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If you count references, such as “son of X,” the most-mentioned person in the Quran is Jesus.