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Bringing Minds To Gods - Research Paper Example

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Bringing Minds To Gods

One famous symbolic anthropologist by the name of Clifford Geertz even defined religion as “(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic" (Geertz 1966). An integral part in the system of religion is the belief of sin. In a general and more modern sense, sin is anything that violates a certain moral standard or code of conduct. Anything that is offensive, an avoidance of good, or the act of doing wrong is considered a “sin”. In Christianity, sin does not only mean those actions that are tangible but it also encompasses feelings of enmity, internal thoughts, and other motivations that lead to ill-doing, shame, or immorality. In a religious perspective, when a person commits sins, his relationship with his supernatural being is tainted and he therefore must do sacrificial acts to restore the connection. This act of achieving a certain kind of spiritual cleansing, more commonly understood as the concepts of expiation and/or the atonement of sins have since become so interrelated hand in hand with the notion of sin. And religions have, to a good extent, institutionalized certain practices and ritual to ensure the reparation of relationship between man and his deity. Among the many established religions in the world today, this paper shall focus on the discussion of the similarities and differences of the concept of atonement and/or spiritual cleansing between Hinduism and Confucianism. To define, atonement is the process by which a person removes obstacles to his reconciliation with God. In doing so, he “re-establishes or strengthens his relations to the holy divine”. As the etymology of the name suggests, to “atone” is to “set at one” (Encyclopedia Britannica, May 2011). Hinduism Present among the various religions in the world in the act of expiation of sins are prayer, repentance, fasting, and offering (animal or crops). In Hinduism, the ultimate goal in life is to be in union with the Brahman, the supreme and absolute universal Spirit of the universe. To be one with the Brahman, one must constantly purify himself through the practice of atonement or “Prayaschitta”, a ritual performed to eliminate the effects of bad deeds. In the Hindu lexicon, “praya” means austerity and “chitta” means a firm resolution. Hence, to do prayschitta, one must undergo or render a certain form of sacrifice to cleanse him from the wrong doings he has committed. This includes extreme fasting which could last as long as a month, chanting of Mantras, or giving away of gifts or going away on a pilgrimage. History has it that the act of prayaschitta among Hindus is not necessarily according to the Brahmans but it goes back to law books of Sanskrit. The severity of the penance is said to be dependent upon the weight of the violation committed. In some documented acts of atonement, there were instances of drinking boiled liquor for the sin committed in drinking too much of the same intoxicating beverage. This kind of ritual is considered to be light as the sin committed is not severe. Severe ones are those that include murder, ...Show more


Bringing Minds to Gods Religion has played a very important role in the evolution of human societies. It functions not only as an avenue for the expression of a system of beliefs such as ghosts, magic, and rituals to influence certain events. Religion also functions in the establishment of a relationship with supernatural beings which people worship…
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