Category Archives: Geography of Religion

Geography of Religion Wk 10

Buddha’s Path (pt 1)

  • At Bodh Gaya Siddhartha Gautama became a Buddha and achieved enlightenment.
  • He lived for 45 more years, all the while travelling and teaching in cities no more than 150 miles from his birth place
  • He arrived at the concept of anatman “non-self.”
  • The Buddha taught that all existence is subject to the law of impermanence and thus reality is a process.
  • A human being has no permanent essence, only an ever changing relationship of the five skandhas— the physical body (made up of the 4 elements), feelings caused by sensory contacts, perceptions of said contacts (as good, evil, or neutral), habitual mental dispositions (which link mental activity and physical action), and consciousness (experience of the world by mind and body.)
  • The Buddha opposed both the “indulgence of the wealthy” and “the severe self-denial of ascetics,” proposing instead a middle ground.
  • The Buddha sought out 5 of his friends from his days as a bhikkhu (a wandering mendicant) and taught them the Four Noble Truths: there is suffering in the world, there is a cause of suffering, by eliminating the cause, one can end suffering, and there is a path by which one can end suffering. (the cause of suffering is sometimes ignorance, sometimes desire)
  • (More next week)

Geography of Religion Wk 9


  • 5th century BC, South foothills of the Himalaya
  • Soon before King Suddhodana’s wife, Mayadevi, gave birth, she had a crazy dream which foretold that her son would either be a universal monarch or an enlightened Buddha
  • On her journey to visit her parents in the capitol of the neighboring clan, she stopped in a grove and was visited by 2 celestial beings
  • The baby emerged able to walk and talk and told Mayadevi that this was his last birth
  • They called the baby Siddhartha, “the one who attains the goal.”
  • The prince was raised in a palace and treated as…well…a prince. He married and his wife gave birth to a son.
  • Then, one day, the prince ventured outside of the palace gates and witnessed sickness, death, and poverty. Siddhartha then saw a Sadhu–a Hindu mendicant who had renounced the physical world to seek enlightenment
  • According to legend, he then shaved his head with his sword, took the name Gautama, and traveled to the Ganges Plain
  • 6 years later–close to death–he withdrew into meditation on the bank of the Nairanjana River and up sprang a religious movement–Buddhism

Geography of Religion Wk 8

Revival and Spread

  • Gupta Empire ending ~600 AD–Hinduism became a little more subdued with Buddhism and Islam more prominent
  • 16-18th century India was ruled by the Mughul Empire
  • 1644 English Company built Fort Saint George and established city of Madras
  • 1661 British acquired islands in a western bay south of Surat
  • 1674 Bombay became the HQ of East India Trading Company
  • 1702 Fort William was built near the mouth of the Hulgi River on the East Coast
  • (Village Kalikata became Calcutta)
  • This all formed the beginnings of modern India
  • Hinduism played a key role in India’s 20th century movement
  • Movement was embodied by Mohandas Gandhi who was devoted to the lifestyle of a sadhu
  • Lived austerely and preached non-violence and was devoted to helping the people of India regain their independence
  •  He focused on salt which was controlled by the British
  • 1804 proclamation (by the EIC)  banned private harvest or trade of Orissa salt which resulted in starvation and epidemics for the Indians who depended on the salt harvest and trade for their income
  • The British cleared  jungle land in Southern Bengal for wood and therefore fuel which aided the occurrence of a massive famine in Orissa in 1866
  • 1930 Gandhi held the Salt March which was both religious and political and covered 240 miles and took 25 days
  • The march started in Sabarmati Ashram. Gandhi and 78 others village-hopped in a salt satyagraha (aka a grasping of the truth)
  • By the time the march ended on April 6, at Dandhi–at the edge of the Arabian Sea–thousands of people had joined Gandhi in his march
  • The protest was filled with extremely symbolic acts and it sparked violence
  • The leaders of the march were imprisoned but the demonstrations continued
  • 1931 the British finally ended their salt campaign
  • In 1947 India had it’s independence but there were more troubles such as the separation of India into a majorly Hindu state and a majorly Muslim state (Pakistan) where a million people were killed in riots and 7 million people were displaced
  • Gandhi was assassinated in 1948
  • Some other protesting and separation stuff happened but Imma go eat pizza. Hope you learned some stuff. Enjoy your day :)


Geography of Religion Wk 7

The Muslim Era and Sikhism

  • Incursions from the West brought Muslims into India. (7th century –>)
  • Muslim rule dominated Northern India by the 16th century=Great Mughal Empire
  • GME early 18th century –> relied on a intimate knowledge of Hindu culture and patronage of Hindu temples even though there was as Islamic ideaology
  • Muslim and Hindu interaction bred Sikhism
  • Sikhism has 10 gurus (holy men) who were alive sometime between the 15th-18th centuries
  • Their influence is not only religious but also political (Punjab region)
  • (17th cent.) Muslim leaders began driving Sikh leaders from villages and into the Himalayan foothills because they were becoming a threat
  • After several generations they rose, and led by Ranjit Singh, claimed Punjab as a Sikh kingdom
  • Today, Sikhs still maintain a significant political and religious power in Punjab, which has been declared a state within the nation of India
  • 1984 the government of Indira Gandhi and the Sikhs erupted in violence
  • The Sikhs’ most holy shrine, The Golden Temple of Amritsar, was attacked to flush out a group of insurgents and holy men
  • Seven months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated in retribution

Geography of Religion Wk 6

  • Battle among tribal warlord. Upper reaches of Ganges during first millennium BC
  • Pandavas vs. Kauravas rival factions w/in one fam.
  • 18-day war
  • Young warrior of Pandavas, Arjuna refused to fight because of the knowledge that he would be facing family and friends on the battlefield
  • Krishna, his charioteer, suddenly revealed himself as a divine being and encouraged Arjuna to fight.
  • The significance of this is that it forms the poetry of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most popular holy books of Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita is just one of the 100,000 verses in the Mahabharata
  • Annnndddd I don’t want to write any more so bye

Geography of Religion Wk 5

The Birth of Jainism and Buddhism

  • 600 BC Vardhamana born in a small town north of the Ganges
  • Reached spiritual enlightenment, became a holy man, and walked barefoot through Northeast and Central India teaching his beleifs
  • Given the name Mahavira “great hero”
  • Taught: self-discipline, meditation, vegetarianism, renunciation of worldly goods, and nonviolence
  • Became a religion called Jainism. Practiced by Jains who believe that Mahavira was the 24th in a line of tirthankaras who form the bridge between our world and spiritual enlightenment
  • No supreme deity but many tirthankaras and spiritual deities and the mother goddess Ambika
  •  A hundred years after Mahavira, Siddhartha Gautama left his home as well to seek spiritual enlightenment
  • After years of meditation, he achieved spiritual enlightenment and basically did the same thing as Mahavira
  • His teachings gave rise to the new religion of Buddhism (discussed in the next chapter)

Geography of Religion Wk 4

The Hindu Way of Life

According to the Vedas, life began as a great cosmic sacrifice. The sacrifice of the creator god Purusha created the world as we know it. His eye: the sun. His mind: the moon. And so forth. According to Holy Scripture, humans are born into one of four classes, each represented by some part of Purusha. The highest class (varna) is the Brahmans or priests and came from the creator god’s mouth. The next highest is the Kshatriyas, those men born to be warriors or nobility, and were created from his arms. The third class is the most populated and made up of farmers, merchants, and craftsmen and were crafted from his thighs. The last came from his feet; the Sudra, slaves and serfs. Women’s role in this group tended to assume the status of their husbands or fathers. Continue reading

Geography of Religion Wk 3

Hinduism’s Holy Books

The Vedas–Ancient Holy books of the Hindus–reveal eternal truths and wisdom, and are believed to have existed eternally. (They date back to 1200 B.C.) Altogether there are 4 Vedas. 2 are collections of laudatory hymns ( Rig Veda and Sama Veda) while one is a manual for performing rituals (Yajur Veda) and one is filled with prayers and charms for health and fortune (Atharva Veda.) Several deities are recognized, such as Varuna, Indra, Rudra, Vishnu, and Agni. The gods and goddesses of the Vedic universe are associated with specific aspects of the natural world, such as the rivers of India, which are all represented by a different goddess. Offerings to these gods and goddesses of things such as plants and sacrificed animals, are burned by Vedic priests according to precise instructions in the Yajur Veda in return for “peacetime harvests and wartime victories.” Continue reading

Geography of Religion Wk 1&2


Humans have always known there was a force greater than them in the universe since the beginning of time. We respond to this knowledge by worship, attempts to gain understanding, or the realization that we cannot in fact truly understand. Dreams have always brought us closer to our beliefs and inspire us to ask some of the oldest questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Every culture has a different answer. There are other unanswerable questions as well. Humans have always seen the power of the ocean or a storm or the birth of a human and wondered “if something was powerful enough to create all of this, is there some way for me to also control this much power?” The idea of a higher being has also been used to enforce laws and ways of living together in harmony since the very beginning of civilization. Punishment or rewards after death for living a certain lifestyle are a powerful motivator in all cultures to obey the rules and stay in line. Evidence shows that even people as ancient as the Neanderthals may have placed special items in the graves of their loved ones to accompany them to the afterlife. While there will never be a way to prove or disprove the existence of any God(s) there is no denying that ancient civilizations have depended on their beliefs to grow and prosper, and without the confidence that there is someone higher up than us, we would not be where we are in the world today.


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