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Indian Deity Veneration and Chinese Ancestor Worship

Contrast Between Indian Deity Veneration (E.G, Durga Puja) and Chinese Ancestor Worship

Worship Deity Worship in India

Worship can be described as the reverence and adoration that people have for deities or God or any divine being that is considered supremely beneficent or powerful (Pecklers 1). Hindus worship a number of gods and goddesses who symbolize Brahman. The most important and fundamental of the Indian deities include; the trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Besides, there are also other deities who are also worshiped by Hindus including Genesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, Saraswati, Lakhshmi and Kali.

Hindu Deities

Genesha is known to be an elephant deity that is rides on a mouse. Genesha is the son of Parvati and Shiva. This deity is brought out as one with a curvilinear trunk, very large ears and a big potbelly that resembles that of a human being. This is the most popular Hindu God who is closely linked to the mnemonics in Hinduism. The deity brings success, knowledge, fame, wealth and wisdom to those who believe in the Hindu faith. Besides, Genesha removes any kind of evil and obstacles that are faced by the Hindu faithful in life.

Shiva: This is the most complex deity who represents dissolution and death among the Hindu people. This deity is the most fascinating and has the greatest powers in Hinduism. Shiva is among the gods who make up the trinity of the Hindu religion. This deity is also known as Mahadeva, Pashupati, Bhole Nath, Nataraja and Vishwanati. In the recognition of the attributes of Shiva, the Hindus usually erect his shrine separately from those of other deities and worship him as Shiva Limgam in the temples.

Krishna: This is a blue-skinned deity who is the great exponent of Gita and the complete avatar of Vishnu, the God head of the trinity in Hindu religion. Among all the avatars, Krishna is the most popular and one who has very close ties with the people. He has influenced the thoughts, culture and life of Hindus in every aspect of their life. The aspects of life which are influenced by this deity include; literature, mysticism, sculpture, dance, music and their philosophical life.

Rama: This is the perfect avatar of Vishnu who is the supreme protector and one of the favorite deities among the Hindus. Rama portrays the virtues of sincerity, morality and chivalry. This deity is also considered an ideal son, husband and king. Besides, he is also believed to be the actual representation of the historical and tribal ancient hero of India.

Hanuman: Hanuman is the powerful ape that helped Lord Rama in the fight against the evil forces, which are illustrated in the epic Ramayana. This deity is also believed to be an avatar of Shiva and is usually worshiped as a symbol of devotion, perseverance and physical strength. Because of this, there are many Hanuman temples in India. During the times of trouble, the Hindus usually chant his name or sing a hymn called Hanuman Chalisa so that this deity could deliver them from such situations.

Vishnu: This is a peace loving deity in the Hindu trinity. Vishnu is known as the preserver and sustainer of life considering that he has steadfast principles of order, righteousness and truth. Any time that these values are threatened, the deity comes out of his place to restore order and peace and earth. The incarnations of Vishnu on earth have ten avatars. The strong adherents of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas. The other deities that are also revered and worshiped in the Hindu religion include Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati.

Chinese Ancestor Worship

The Chinese have a propensity of being interested in the past through worshiping and veneration of their ancestors (Heinz 225). The worship or veneration of ancestor is a ritual that is based on the belief that family members who have died have an afterlife and they closely monitor the actions and affairs of the living. Ancestors can change the fortunes of those that are alive. Most ancient forms of ancestor veneration were developed during the Neolithic period in China. The Chinese conduct ancestral worship so that the ancestors can offer them special assistance and continuous happiness.

Through conducting ancestral worship, the relatives who are living continue to show respect to their ancestors and in the process, reinforce family unity and lineage. The Chinese ancestral worship is founded on the belief that despite the death of a loved one, the existing relationship does not change. The social role of this kind of worship is for the inculcation of kinship values like piety (Yang 278).

The Mourning Period

During the period of mourning, the Chinese perform rituals and also make offerings to the dead. By doing this, they believe that the deceased member will give them good tidings. Ancestral worship starts during the funeral of the departed kin. This is conducted by the family members who put up the items like toothbrush and shoes of the dead individual in his or her coffin or burn them altogether as sacrifice.

After the funeral, the living members then continue giving offerings once or twice a day so that when their times come, they can also be received well in the afterlife. Apart from the basic items and luxuries owned by the departed, favorite foods, money and wine are also placed on the altar, vegetables and fruits are also used in the offerings. However, it is important to note that meat is not used in this offering and sacrifices since it is linked to murder.

Home Altar

Home altars are usually created after the burial of a family member so that close family members of the departed can use it for ancestral veneration. The altar usually consists of a picture of the late kin, a set of cups used for offerings and a commemorative plaque. After seven weeks have passed, the altar is demolished since it is then believed that the deceased is undergoing judgment in the other world. This belief is deeply rooted in the Bardot, a Mahayana Buddhist idea which is the period between a time when an individual dies and the time that he or she is reborn. When this period ends, it is believed that the dead joins other ancestors of the family. From the time that the home altar is destroyed, the Chinese begin believing that the ancestors are now living in commemorative tablets which are pieces of wood bearing the names of the departed and the dates of their deaths. These tablets are usually kept in the home shrines where incense, food offering are presented twice a month (Hsu 248).

Explain the Difference, Compare and Contrast Indian History to Chinese

India and China are two neighboring countries in Asia whose combined population represents a third of the global population. As a result of globalization, these two nations have had opportunities, which have seen the expansion of their middle class. In 1962, these two countries went to war over a border wrangle which was resolved before escalation into a full blown war. By 1995, the volume of trade between them had surpassed US $1 billion. The two countries have received great international recognition by being viewed as emerging giant economies and key players in economic and political affairs of the world. This is clear considering that China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council whereas India, which is a member of NAM, has been eying the same position without success (Bowman 150).

China has a very complex and long history which is traced back to 1600 BC. It is exemplified by its written language, architecture, belief system and customs that connect China to a distant past unlike other Middle East nations, and this has given it a cultural legacy which, sometimes, is challenging but also serves as a source of a valued pool of material, and spiritual traditions. However, the history of India is segmented into two phases, namely Pre-Vedic and the Vedic. It is during the Vedic that Hinduism was born. Although, it is important to note that Hinduism borrowed a lot of elements from the Indus Valley Civilization. From the 4th BCE, emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism after which he went ahead to unite large parts of India. It is during the reign of Ashoka that Buddhism spread to other parts of the Asian continent. In the 8th Century, Islam was introduced and by the 11th C, it had firmly been established in India as a political force. These are some of the contours of Indian history before the advent of colonialism.

In matters economic, India is the founding member of the World Trade Organization, which assists third world countries to prop up their economies and achieve better terms of trade in the international market. China has also unsuccessfully attempted to seek for admission into WTO. Both India and China started to trade with each other many centuries ago although their political structures were quite different. China has opened her economy to the capitalist MNC’s although it is governed by the Communist Party.

Caste System in India

In both the Chinese and Indian history, religion has played a critical role since both civilizations believe in the existence of numerous deities. Among the people of China, the most important deity is Ti, who is believed to bear powers to reward those who do well and, while also punishing those who do wrong. This belief is similar to Karma among the Indians. Besides, China and India have the caste system but with minor disparities in the way that these systems are practiced. For instance, in India a person who is born into a caste will never change caste or come into contact with members of the castes. This can only be altered during reincarnation, whereby if a person had good deeds during his lifetime, he or she is re-born into a higher position, while those who do bad will be re-born into a lower caste. There are four castes in India.

At the top of the castes is Brahmin that includes priests, teachers and the judges. This is followed by the warrior caste known as the Kshatriya. The third caste is the Vaisya that includes the farmers and merchants. The other caste is the Sudras that includes the laborers and crafts workers. The lowest rank is that of the untouchables or outcasts, whose responsibilities include killing or disposing dead cattle. The kinds of jobs that none desire.

The Chinese people on the other hand have Four Class Caste System, which was developed by Kubai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty. In this system, Shi is the highest caste which is made up of scholars, followed by the Nong which includes the peasants and farmers. The third caste is the Gong which is comprised of artisans and craftsmen, and finally the Shang that is made up of the merchants and traders at the bottom caste.

In conclusion, as a result of globalization, these two nations which are endowed with enormous natural and human resources have been able to develop a variety of goods which are available in the international market and based on their strong economies have now become key global players in world affairs.

Works Cited

Bowman, John S. Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Print.

Heinz, Carolyn B. Asian Cultural Traditions (Waveland Press, Inc., 1999).

Hsu, Francis L. K. Americans & Chinese: Passage to Difference: University Press of Hawaii, 1981. Print

Yang, Chuan K., Chinese Thought and Institutions. The Functional Relationship between Confucian Thought and Chinese Religion. John K. Fairbank, ed. (The University of Chicago1957)

 

 

 

 

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