The gods and goddesses had a distinct impact on the Egyptians. So distinct, in which the gods were worshiped in a peculiar way. Only the rulers had direct contact with the gods. The Egyptians could pray to the gods, only the rulers were able to pray to the gods. Morenz writes, “Egyptian gods were primarily worshiped in cult; in principle the ruler alone was entitled to communicate with the gods; the king, the representative of the Egyptian land and people, acts on their behalf in the name of the gods, with whose authority he is imbued” (Morenz 49). As a religious person, I can not believe that the Egyptians worshiped their gods in that particular way. I would want the ability to pray to my God when I want without having someone being an intercessor for me.
While studying and conducting research on the Egyptian religion, I learned a lot about the Egyptian way of worship and culture. The Egyptians took pride in their religion and culture. They did not take for granted the sun, land, and their most important resource the Nile River. What made the Egyptian religion different from any other religion is the fact that the Egyptians did not have a religious leader like many other religions have today. Ancient was very distinct and different from many religions today.
Religion in Ancient China
China is one of the oldest and surviving civilizations in the world. In Ancient China, religion was a very important aspect of the Chinese culture. “Religion has played a no less significant role in the life and culture of the Chinese than in any other great civilization” (Smith 1). In China there were three dominant religions Taoism, Cofuciansim, and Buddhism. Each religion had played an important role in the development of most Chinese civilizations. In early Chinese history, Taoism and Confucianism were the main dominant religions. Years later Buddhism spreads from Indian to China, becoming the most popular religion in China today. Although there were three main religious themes in China you could also find Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Manichaesim, and Zoroastrianism (Smith xiii).
Confuscius lived during the 5th Century B.C. Before his name was Confucius he was called Kung Futze. “Confuscious was the son of an obscure family in the small state of Lu, a state in which the old Zhou cultural traditions were strong but had been repeatedly upset by invasions and by struggles between local clans. Confucius was concerned about restoring peace and order and studied old books, rituals, and legends to look for guidelines for the present. He came to realize that what was needed were moral principles such as justice, honesty, and love, that could be followed in all situations” (Overmyer 27-28). Upon reading and doing research Confuscius believed all people were good, the family (extended) was a good entity, and people have to be encouraged and rewarded. After Confuscius death, his followers combined all his teachings and beliefs and formed them into a book called Analects. It wasn’t until after Confuscius death, Confuscianism became a dominant religion.
Around the same period when Confuscianism had developed, Lao-Tse, an old man, created an axial religion called Taoism which means “the way”. Taoism was totally opposite from Confuscianism. Smith writes, “Taosists believed that life itself is the greatest of all possessions. Therefore it must be nourished and preserved so as to reach its natural term. The Taoist despised the pomp, glory, prestige, wealth and power for which other men strove” (Smith 71). Like Confuscianism, Taoist also a book of teachings called Tao-te-Ching, meaning classics of the way. The Tao-te-Ching was a mixture of scriptures including poetry and other forms of writing. “Tao-te-Ching teaches that everything in the world is produced by the cosmic Way, which also provides harmony and balance. Because of this Way, things are just fine in their natural state and should be left alone, from plants and animals to people” (Overmyer 30). The Taoist religion was based on the writings of the Tao-te-Ching.
Buddhism was founded around 500 B.C in northern India by a man named Gautama Siddhartha. At age 20, Siddhartha gave up everything and became homeless. Siddhartha went on a quest to find the truth. During his quest or fast, Gautama Siddhartha attained enlightenment, meaning being at peace with yourself and the world. After his enlightenment, Siddhartha was later referred to as Buddha. “The Buddha traveled around northeastern India for about forty years after his enlightenment, preaching and instructing small groups of disciples. To ordinary people he taught a life of discipline, compassion, and devotion to spiritual leader, but to his closest followers he taught a path of mediation, mind control, and intense discussion” (Overmyer 42). After his death, Buddhism spreads to many different countries, including China. “Buddhism was well established in monasteries across northern India and began to move south to Ceylon, east to what is now Burma and Thailand, and northwest toward Afghanistan. By the second century B.C., Buddhism was active in central Asia, particularly in oasis kingdoms along the main trade routes between India, China, and the Mediterranean world” (Overmyer 42-43). At this time, Buddhists had images of Buddha being a man with a large stomach. Buddhism was the fastest growing religions in China, becoming one of the most popular religions practiced in China.
Confuscianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were all popular religions in China. They all played an important role in establishing some of the Chinese cultures today. Each religion taught their followers how to live a good life and be good role models for others. In addition, each religion had some form of a religious book that contained the teachings and writings of religious leaders. These religions are an important part of the Chinese traditions and history which will be further practiced for years to come.
Baines, John E. Religion in Ancient Egypt. London: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Duiker, M, Spielvogel, J. The Essential World History. California: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2002.
Morenz, Siegfried. Egyptian Religion. New York: Cornell University Press, 1973.
Overmyer, Daniel L. Religions of China. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1986.
Petrie, Flinders. Religious Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1972.
Smith, Howard D. Chinese Religions From 1000 B.C to the Present Day. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968.