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Visions

(864 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Cultures that have loanwords from Lat. visio (a seeing, view) often use them for visionary hallucinations. Such a vision, which takes place when the person is awake, is not a dream. Psychokinetic phenomena may accompany it, and it may include paranormal information. If the visionary is religiously inclined, it might seem to contain a revelation. The vision itself is not a revelation and must be interpreted. The visionary might be the interpreter, or some other person might be. Interpretation imparts mystical knowledge, falling between the rational and the occult (Occultism). 2. A …

Llullian Method

(359 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
“Llullian method” denotes the overall approach of Ramón Llull (ca. 1233-ca. 1315)—Catalan writer, Scholastic, polymath, adviser of popes and princes, ¶ Islamic and Jewish scholar and missionary—whose basic goal in his writings was to see Jews and Muslims converted. Of his 263 writings, 36 contain the word ars (method, way, art) in the title. Llull called this literary work, and especially the summary of it, Ars generalis ultima (1305–8), or Ars magna. This title, similar to the Ars maior and Ars minor of Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus (4th cent. a.d.), whose influence extended …

Theogony

(378 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
¶ “Theogony” (Gk. theogonia, “birth of the gods”), the title of an epic poem by Hesiod (ca. 700 b.c.), refers to the origin of the gods. Many of the almost 300 gods whose names and qualities Hesiod gives in this work make up the world, so that a theogony is also a cosmogony. When the world is constituted, it is ruled by the great gods (Uranus, Cronus, Zeus). Hesiod makes use here of the concept that northern Syria and Asia Minor employed: a succession of gods instead of a genealogical list or an anthropomorphizin…

Ānanda Mārga

(297 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Meaning “way of blessedness” in Sanskrit, Ānanda Mārga is the name of a Hindu reforming movement that was started in 1955 at Jamalpur, in Bihar, India. Its originator was Prabhata Ranjana Sarkar (b. 1921), who called himself Shree Ānanda-murti, and to whom his followers attached a further title “shree.” With the Ānanda he thought of himself as a member of the classical Vedanta triad sat (being), chit (thought), and nanda (bliss), which, as attributes of Atman or Brahman, compose the true nature of humanity and the univers…

Divine Light Mission

(470 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The Divine Light Mission originated as a humanitarian organization seeking to propagate a method of meditation for the achievement of “perfect knowledge.” It was founded in 1960 at Patna (Bihar, India) by Shree Hans (Skt. haṇsá, “goose,” symbol of the white color of the soul and the migratory bird), who died in 1965. At the funeral of Shree Hans, his son, Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was born on December 10 or 16, 1957, in Hardwar (Uttar Pradesh, India), comforted those who mourned his father’s death with the thought that they still had perfect kn…

Ecstasy

(940 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Scope of the Term The broadest usage of “ecstasy” encompasses several semantic domains. Ethologically, the moment when the earliest hunter and his prey first met was probably one of united concentration on the encounter, of holding of breath and silence, of tense quiet along with the ability to spring very quickly into action. 1.1. On the human side the continuation and development of this basic attitude is a history of self-interpretation, with new social contexts and anthropologies as inalterable presuppositions. This was first the case probabl…

Marranos

(373 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
A Marrano is a Christianized Jew or Moor of medieval Spain, especially one who converted only to escape persecution (Conversion 1). From the 11th century Spanish Jews (Judaism), showing that they too had to avoid things, borrowed from the Arabs the term maḥram (something prohibited), which, in its Castillian form marrano, they used to refer to pigs. The reconquistadores then took over the word and applied it to the Jews themselves. When baptism was forced on the Jews, it became a common term of contempt for those thus baptized (they called themselves ʾănûsı̄m, “coerced ones”), who w…

Kurds

(1,033 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Names Kurdistan, originally a term for “steppe country” and later for the land of the Kurds, was the term given by the Seljuk government of Iran (1092–1194) to a region that must have stretched from between Lakes Van (in present-day western Turkey) and Urmia (in eastern Iran) south to the Zagros Mountains (extending along the Iran-Iraq border). The basic word came to be used, as in Arabic, as a collective and denoted “tiller of the field” or “shepherd.” Today some scholars identify the Kurds as the Karduchoi of Xenophon’s Anabasis (3.5.15–4.1.11), a group living east of the Upper T…

Krishna Consciousness, International Society for

(1,285 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Founder Abhay Charan De (1896–1977), founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was born in Calcutta, where he received university training in philosophy, English, and economics. In 1922 he came in contact with the Vishnu Gaudiya Mission (Hinduism 3.3), whose founder, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (d. 1937), had prepared the way for the worldwide work of the 32d guru in a succession that had begun with the prehistorical avatars, or “descents,” of the gods (see 3). In 1933 De became a formal disciple of B…

Monotheism

(1,465 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term Monotheism is a religious, theological, or philosophical position whose normative feature is recognition of only one God. Those who use the term “monotheism” in either confession or research are differentiating between different views of God. Like other isms, this term also tends to denote a movement, sphere, or epoch in which, whether the respective inhabitants or contemporaries use the term or not, a specific outlook or opinion prevails. Whether those who define their own position claim the validity of t…

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

(404 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
“Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh” is the guru name of Rajneesh Chandra Mohan (1931–81). It combines with the given name “Rajneesh” the appellative “Bhagwan,” commonly used in India for gods, demigods, and holy men (from Skt. bhag(a)van, meaning “reverend” or “divine”), and the title “Shree.” Rajneesh was born in Kuchwada (Madhya Pradesh), India, on December 11, 1931. On March 21, 1953, he experienced the “other reality,” which his philosophy enabled him to interpret as God, truth, dharma, tao, and so forth. He deepened the experience by techniqu…

History of Religion

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. According to the view one takes of religious studies, the history of religion is either one department of such studies or it is the main discipline itself. In about 1694 G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716) became the first to differentiate the histoire des religions from church history. In his Natural History of Religion (1757), D. Hume (1711–76) became probably the first to juxtapose critically religion’s “natural history” (terminology adopted by the whole Enlightenment) with the salvation history represented by the church. In French and Italian, for ex…

Cao Dai

(755 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Cao Dai is the religion of the Vietnamese god Cao Dai, whose name means “great palace.” The full self-designation is (Dai-Dao) Tam-Ky Pho-Do, or “(Great Way of) the Third Forgiveness of God.” Along this way, the unity of all religions is to be recovered, a unity that had already been divided in a “first forgiveness” under the forerunners of Confucius, Lao-tzu, and Buddha Sakyamuni, and then in a “second forgiveness” under these founders themselves plus Jesus Christ. Around this focus, many in th…

Nature Religion

(661 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The term “nature religion” has been used in a great variety of senses, of which seven are distinguished here. Philosophical. In the second and first centuries b.c. (later, the Stoics), and also in the 18th century (D. Hume), early doctrines of human nature came to completion with the observation or postulation of a disposition that in the modern period would be called religious. Theological. In the light of the revelation of the true knowledge of God, such a religious disposition became a problem for the second-century Christian apologists. Various terms wer…

Cyprus

(1,081 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Cyprus (Heb. Kittim, after the harbor Citium, mentioned often by the Phoenicians and the site of present-day Larnaca), from the Greek “Kypros” (etymology unknown), is a Mediterranean island 100 km. (60 mi.) west of the Syrian coast and 65 km. (40 mi.) south of the coast of Turkey. 1. Late Paleolithic and Neolithic settlement of Cyprus before the fourth millennium b.c. points to close relations with the Near East. During the third and second millennia the Copper and Bronze Age of Egypt, Crete, Mycenae, Syria, and Anatolia made Cyprus, with its rich m…

Afghanistan

(554 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Afghanistan became a separate kingdom under Aḥmad Shāh Durrāni (ruled 1747–73), who, as an officer of Nāder Shāh of Persia, left the army and was able to build his small Pashtuni state on the subjection of various ethnic groups in northeast Iran and central Asia. About 90 percent of the present-day population are rural peasants or nomads. Approximately 78 percent belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, 20 percent are Shiites, and 1 percent are Ismailis. The rest consist primarily of Hindus, Si…

Yezidis

(795 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. History The Yezidis are a religious community in the Syrian district of Simʿān and across to Ossetia. Though not unlike Iraqi Arabs, their Kurdish dialect (Kurds) and distinctive tradition make them a distinct ethnic group. Around 1900 they numbered up to 300,000, but after World War I only 100,000 and by 1983 only around 20,000. In 2005 estimates of the number of Yezidis worldwide ranged up to several times this reduced figure, mainly in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia, with a sizable group in Germany as guest workers. Yezidis call themselves Dāsin (pl. Dawāsin; Syr. Dasnīyē), after a…

Religious Studies

(1,134 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term The prophets of Israel with their criticism of Canaanite worship, as well as the philosophers of antiquity with their attacks on Greek myths, held aloof from what we now call religion, an attitude that is essential in the study of religion. The same applies to Islamic geographers, Christian missionaries, European explorers, and students of mythology from the days of the Enlightenment, also of comparative linguistics from the days of Romanticism, especially when new knowledge was brought to light. The whole complex of what might be called religion in the form of a secta, lex, latr…

Devil

(2,130 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Concept 1.1. Gk. diabolos, from which the Eng. “devil” is derived, is the usual LXX translation of śāṭān (adversary). In the NT it is used more in the Greek sense as “accuser” or “slanderer.” By way of the Gothic Bible it was taken over in Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, and German. It has retained its full meaning only as a Christian term, which also refers to the leader and representative of unbelief and heresy (Heresies and Schisms) and to the seducer and perverse paramour of witches (Witchcraft). To this extent, as one might say also of “God” (G. van der Leeuw, Phänomenologie der Religion [4…

Iranian Religions

(2,807 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Definitions Iranian religions are the authentic religions of peoples and tribes that spoke or speak Iranian languages. One may also refer to other religions whose features appear in Iranian religions and are material variants of them. We do not include religions in non-Iranian languages that are native to territories that came under the rule of Iran (e.g., the Elamites) or that came to Iran later and in so doing underwent changes (e.g., the many Turkic tribes) or that are regarded as their own only by a few Iranian speakers (e.g., the Buddhism of the Sakas and Sogdians). The Iranian la…
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