THE ANCIENT CHINESE RELIGIONS
The ancient CHINESE society had more or less three main religions . They were : 1. CONFUCIANISM , TAOISM and BUDDHISM. All the three religions of CHINA was considered as ‘ three ways to one goal ‘. We can see many elements almost similar to INDIA so far as the development of the ancient CHINESE religions were concerned . The BUDDHISM appeared in the CHINESE society after CONFUCIANISM and TAOISM in its MAHAYANA* form .
As the CHINESE myths say that after separation of heaven and earth , as I have written in my earlier blog also , the universe was ruled by twelve Emperors of heaven . And the each Emperor reigned the universe for 18000 years . And similar long periods were given to the human Emperor who was said to have taught the mankind its arts and crafts . ‘ Three-legged bronze sacrificial vessels have been excavated which are decorated with abstract and animal forms .’ This was of the period of SHANG DYNASTY of about 1500 BC . The vessels , so found , were seemed to have been used ‘ to hold food and wine for sacrifice to spirits and ancestors .’ Apart from that inscribed pieces of bone have also been found and oracle bones were also found which might be used for divination as such . Inscriptions on bronzes and jade found in the different tombs clearly indicated the major concerns of the ancient CHINESE religion and culture . The tradition of honoring their ancestors , like in INDIA , was their old practices as such . So was the spirit of the Earth and human elements were worshiped. And early CHINESE civilization showed that human sacrifices were also practiced to a considerable extent .
The ancient people of Northern CHINA were agriculturalists . They had ardent belief that the spirit of the world of nature surrounded them . So , they worshiped the Hevean and all its constituents like : the Earth with its mountains and river spirits ; the thunder and wind ; the seasons and all its four quarters ( this I have discussed in my earlier blog in details ) ; and , of course , all the five spirits of the house i.e at the door , well , heath , the courtyard and the kitchen . That’s why incense sticks were burnt at the door , at the hearth and at the kitchen . Almost similar practices are followed in the rural household in INDIA . They also lit earthen pots ( DIYA ) with cotton wicks at the main gate of the house especially in the evening with this belief that GODESS LAKSHMI ( the Godess of wealth ) would enter the house without any obstacle as such . And during the period of DIPAWALI ( LIGHTNING FESTIVAL OF INDIA ) , the entire house is decorated with lights as such with a simple notion that the GODESS LAKSHMI will certainly appear in the house with a bucket of wealth and prosperity as such . So at Civilizational leve we have numerous similarity between the civilization of CHINA and that of INDIA .
The Earth was supposed to be the provider of crops and fertility to the mankind . With this belief the CHINESE people used to raise the mound at centre of the village as ‘ the Lord of the Soil ‘ and sometimes under the tree as such . As an agricultural festival , in the Spring and Autumn seasons , the CHINESE people performed ritual dances . We in INDIA also used to celebrate various agricultural festivals like ONAM , BIHU and BAISHAKHI as such in the different parts of the country . We have numerous examples that during the ancient period in CHINA , the Emperors sacrificed to SHANG-TI ( THE SUPREME GOD ) , and , of course , TI ( THE ANCESTORAL SPIRITS ) . But somewhere in the early Literatures of CHINA mentioned about TIEN could be seen which implied heaven . We also can see this poetry , ‘ O bright and high Heaven , who enlightenest and rulest this lower world .’ It was this prayer that gave the Emperor a title like ‘Son of Heaven’ meaning by the Earthly representative of the Heaven . The Nature God was worshiped in the nature itself as we see in INDIA . The CHHATH festival , a practices of worshiping nature , is celebrated openly on the bank of river and without any deity as such . Apart from that there existed many local Gods of different types which were worshiped locally . Moreover , Evil Sprits were the greatest threat to mankind the world over , so was in CHINA . So , the roles of the EXORCISTS were important in the ancient CHINESE society to get protection from evil spirits , flood , drought , earthquake and numerous diseases as such . Similarly , the spirits of the dead received a great attention in the ancient CHINESE society . So , the cult of the ancestors was one of the important aspects of the CHINESE religion . As we believed in INDIA that the soul lived even after death , the CHINESE society had an ardent belief that the dead should convert into a good spirit and not as a demon as such after death . So , they used to perform various rituals like INDIANS after the death of the people as such . Therefore , even the women and servants were also buried with great men and many treasures as such .
* A SECT OF BUDDHISM .
NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .
TO BE CONTINUED …………