2.1.1- Classical Religions Bonding Force

Created by: Alice Lalone & Alexis Farrell (Group2)

Basic Gist Summary:

Starting in 3500 B.C.E. all the way to around 800 C.E. civilizations all over the world, including the civilizations in India, China and Europe, began and borrowed religions that unified states by forming an ethic code and religious based laws. This is caused because religion and state were not separated, and religion was much more cultural than it is today. Using Religion as a bonding force was much more easier because each religion like Buddhism or Confucianism was directed to a specific culture. Furthermore, everyone within that specific culture would gravitate towards it because it shared similarities with their day to day lives. Using this technique is why religions were able to act as a bonding force and also an ethical code to live by. However, the force that both brought and changed the religion to fit the needs of different civilizations was different for all.

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Case Study Analysis:

Mauryan Empire

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To understand the relationship between Buddhism and this empire, we need to first understand how it became apart of its culture. Within the Mauryan Empire, many battles were fought, however, none leave such a mark within its history than that of the Kalinga War. This battle was waged between the Mauryan Empire under Ashoka the Great and the neighboring feudal republic of Kalinga. The Mauryan Empire was under magahda rule which was a policy created to increase territorial expansion that began with Ashoka’s father. However, Kalinga was one of the few remaining free states that remained independent since the Nanda Rule. Now, naturally to have allowed this to happen was a sign of weakness and loss of prestige for the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka the Great took on the responsibility in rendering Kalinga to complete subjection under the empire. He was successful in which he won the Battle of Kalinga, however, it resulted in the death of more than 100,000 people both soldier an civilian.
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1: Banks of the River Daya, also the supposed
battlefield of Kalinga from atop Dhauli hills.

The campaign was successful, however it was a savage war and when Ashoka the Great saw the consequences of the battle, his outlook of war completely changed. It was then that Ashoka changed his religion and views to Buddhism. This began the process in changing his empire to a peaceful society but also in what moral codes his people lived by. This is also the beginning of what will unite the Mauryan Empire in religion. When Ashoka returned from war, he used his resources and prestigious position to push Buddhism into his empire. Buddhism became the moral code and binding mechanism of the Mauryan Empire because its leader pushed it in propaganda, made it the official religion, and preached it within his domain.

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2: An example of Ashoka reinforcement of Buddhism with Brahmi inscription on a fragment of the 6th Pillar of Ashoka. These pillars were located all over the Mauryan Empire.
3: Here is an example of a Buddhist stupa in Sanchi that was built during the Mauryan Empire during Ashoka's reign.

In this case study, Buddhism became the universal religion because its leader, Ashoka the Great, was changed by environmental factors that caused him to refuse the fundamental ideas that were a part of his culture. When his views changed so did his people’s views. Furthermore, Ashoka had political power which he used to create Buddhist laws and policies, made Buddhism the official religion and preached it. Through these techniques, Mauryan people slowly began to change their views to that of their leader, creating a empire that was led by an official moral code and united them, for all Mauryan people shared the same religious values because they practiced the same religion- Buddhism.

AGMSPRITE Conclusion:

Within the expansion of a religion and its capabilities to unite people through common morals, many will begin to see religions as an inspiration for other aspects within a society. One of which is art; pieces such as figurines or wall murals revolved more around a religious deity or basic principles important to that religion that is practiced within a society. For example, with Buddhism many of the works of art revolve around the Buddha, who was the creator of the religion. However, in general, noted craftsmanship special to that of each society stayed relatively the same.
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4: Here is a example of Buddha figurine;
many like this piece can be seen all
over India today.

Also, depending on the religion, it could also affect geography, military, social stature, politics, and economics. Many societies focused on decreasing land expansion when their religion revolved more around a peaceful moral in which the military would also be minimalistic for societies needed no artillery in cases in which they practiced peaceful inquiries. However, in cases like the religion legalism, increasing land expansion and waging war with huge armies was a necessary ideal which was believed to help better control the people at the home. Religions could influence social standings and politics as well. Religions like Confucianism voiced that in order for the government to run smoothly, the people needed officials with good moral standings which meant taking state tests. However, in Legalism, the government needed to enforce many harsh rules in order to control the people.

Gods & Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Varies: Theravada atheistic; Mahayana more polytheistic. Buddha taught nothing is permanent.
Purpose is to avoid suffering and gain enlightenment and release from cycle of rebirth, or at least attain a better rebirth by gaining merit.
Reincarnation (understood differently than in Hinduism, with no surviving soul) until gain enlightenment
Meditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan)
One God who is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
All have sinned and are thereby separated from God. Salvation is through faith in Christ and, for some, sacraments and good works.
Eternal heaven or hell (or temporary purgatory).
Prayer, Bible study, baptism, Eucharist (Communion), church on Sundays, numerous holidays.
Not addressed
Purpose of life is to fulfill one's role in society with propriety, honor, and loyalty.
Not addressed
Honesty, politeness, propriety, humaneness, perform correct role in society, loyalty to family, nation
Pantheism - the Tao pervades all. Yin-yang - opposites make up a unity.
Purpose is inner harmony, peace, and longevity. Achieved by living in accordance with the Dao.
Revert back to state of non-being, which is simply the other side of being.
General attitude of detachment and non-struggle, "go with the flow" of the Dao. Tai-chi, acupuncture, and alchemy to help longevity.
One Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifested in many gods and goddesses
Humans are in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but are able to escape. Purpose is to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth.
Reincarnation until gain enlightenment.
Yoga, meditation, worship (puja), devotion to a god or goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, live according to one's dharma (purpose/ role).
5: Here is a graph comparing several of the world religions of the time period.

Furthermore, religions like Buddhism protested the caste system (Indian class system); individuals should in fact move through the system within a lifetime unlike hinduism where indiviuals move based on karma after their deaths. Lastly, religion also influenced the economic system of societies. Daoism centered on a minimalistic lifestyle were individuals survived on bare necessities in order to be closer to nature. However, Christianity revolves around hard work and pushing for more in terms of jobs, material necessities and living a comfortable life. Religion is the heart of any society, for its ideals influence what the cultures deems as important and how regular life should be run.

Here is an example of how religion is a bonding force for today. The UN is trying to unite the whole organization with this one idea to make it possible to vote with more speed and ease on items such as abortion.

*-Basham, A. L. "Ashoka." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.Web. 10 Nov. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashoka_the_Great.
*"Kalinga War." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web.10 Nov. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalinga_War.
*The Mauryan Empire - All Empires." Web. 10 Nov. 2011.http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=mauryan_empire.
*Armstrong, Monty. Cracking the AP World History Exam. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
*Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World: a Brief Global History. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.

1.Banks of River Daya. Photograph. Http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daya_River. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
2.Brahmi Inscription. Photograph. Http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Ashoka. 10 Nov. 2011. Web.
3.Buddhist Stupa. Photograph. Http:larryfreeman.hubpages.com/hub/How-long-do-empires-last. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
4.Buddha. Photograph. Http:students.trinityprep.org/web2009/ComNick/recipe%20for%20success%206.html. Web. 10 Nov. 2011
5."The Big Religion Comparison Chart: Compare World Religions - ReligionFacts." Map. Religion, World Religions, Comparative Religion - Just the Facts on the World's Religions. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. <http://www.religionfacts.com/big_religion_chart.htm>.