History Essay

  1. Discuss the nature of Vedic religion in light of the question about idolatry as a religious practice that mixes nature with spirit.

The Vedic religion is a well known religion that is based on the Rig Veda. The Vedic Religion was an antecedent to Hinduism with the former dominating modern India. Today, the Vedic religion is considered prehistoric although some people still follow its teachings. It was preeminently based on the worship of sublime and imposing aspects of nature. The violent storms in India, gorgeous tropical sun, and the bending sky were all gods in the Vedic religion. The religion was thus polytheistic allowing for the worship of many gods derived from nature. Normally, worship of any of the gods was done in a way as to forget the existence of any other gods thus exalting the particular god alone. The teachings of the religion portrayed idolatry as a practice that mixes nature with spirit.

It is common to come across assertions that the Vedic religion did not encouraged idolatry. However, this is not entirely true as seen in the worship of different natural occurrences within the religion. The different aspects of nature were exalted with regard to their sublimity and beauty. The seers did not however see worship of different gods necessary and occasionally declared the religion monotheistic. Accordingly, the different gods were only a representation of the different names of the one true god. Regardless, the religion primarily advanced the worship of different aspects of nature. Idolatry is nothing other than the worship of idols considered to represent gods. By focusing on the worship of natural aspects, the Vedic religion magnified idolatry.

The most prominent idol was the sky with unique names given to the different aspects of the sky. Ultimately, the sky presented a myriad of deities formed based on the level of importance among the followers. For instance, Indra was a Vedic god based on the importance of rain in giving the people abundant fertility and filling their rivers. In earlier versions of the religion, the Varuna god was the holiest and highest god representing the spiritual aspect of the religion. Varuna is broadly translated to encompass the sky that covered the earth and especially the nightly sky.

  1. Discuss the sectarian split between Mahayana and Theravada in Buddhism. What was the origin of this split and how was it related to the life and teachings of the Buddha?

The development of Buddhism has its background on the early teachings and life of Buddha. Initially, Buddhism was organized into a single religion with similar unique teachings and rituals. However, following the death of Buddha, there was a sectarian split resulting into the two major schools of Mahayana and Theravada. The split was squarely based on the difference in interpretations of the core teachings of Buddhism. Ideally, it is common for religions to have such splits as is seen in Christianity where Catholics and Protestants evolved. The same split was evidenced in Buddhism through different interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings. The early monks tasked with the progression of the religion concentrated in personal enlightenment and limited information shared with the lay community. Later, a group evolved that insisted on the teachings being fully available to all the people. This group called themselves Mahayana and progressed to usurp the original Theravada Buddhism.

The two major forms of Buddhism are simply different expressions of the same historical teachings of Buddha teachings. In fact, the two groups continue to practice the main teachings of Buddhism despite their ideological differences. It is true that the split was largely based on academic points and monastic rules round the enlightenment of persons. Even when they have different ideologies, there is no animosity between the two major schools of Buddhism. Some aspects of the difference have been disregarded as having been influenced by external factors such as culture, time and customs. The debate between the two major schools is mainly based on the expression of the initial teachings and their implementation in religion.

Each of the two schools in Buddhism has their practices derived from the initial teachings of Buddha. While Mahayana is dualistic, Theravada Buddhism is not. However, there are similarities in the teachings of the two different schools. For instance, the achievement of nirvana leads to the elimination of suffering in Buddhism. In Theravada, very one aims at eliminating human suffering thus making it the only goal of religion. In Mahayana, the same concept is widely practiced with the goal of diminishing human suffering. Clearly, therefore, the two schools of religion borrow from the same Buddhist teachings that led to their initial split.

  1. Discuss the nature of Alexander’s military campaign in India in light of the presence of tribal republics and territorial monarchies [in India]. Unlike Alexander’s success in the Middle East, particularly against the Persian Empire, why did his campaign in India fail?

Alexander the Great is widely considered as one of the greatest and most successful kings to grace the planet. The king’s success in the war against Persia and Punjab motivated the launch of an invasion campaign into India. The military might of the king was so huge that the world believed, for more than 25 centuries, that they had defeated the Indians. However, the opposite is true as ancient records reveal a failure in the campaign against India. Part of the reason for this failure is the presence of territorial monarchies and tribal republics in the country. The existence of different tribal republics meant that Alexander had to fight off each of the clans independently before advancing to the next one. This occurrence resulted in the failure of the invasion with Alexander getting wounded in some of the fights and eventually withdrawing.

Initially, Alexander had gained success against the Aspasioi and the Assakenoi. However, the success against these two clans resulted in huge damages on Alexander’s part resulting in the alliance with Porus. Consequently, Alexander’s army refused to march farther and mutinied at the Hyphasis River. This withdrawal resulted from fear of a possible fight against the strong empires of Nanda and Bengal. The earlier struggle with Porus in which the latter gained considerable success against the army resulted in exhaustion. Alexander was thus unable to convince the army to continue with the onslaught against other powerful armies in India. It is recorded that the army violently opposed Alexander’s suggestions that they cross the river and fight off other armies.

Although Alexander was highly successful in the Middle East against the Persian Empire, the invasion in India was a total fail. Even when Alexander had gained success against the Assakenoi, it was only because the old queen was too trusting. The political governance of the country had a big impact on the failure of Alexander to successfully invade India. In addition, exhaustion from years of campaigning resulted in considerable losses to his army. Ultimately, the army was weak and could not sustain the strength of the different Indian armies. India became an exception in the burgeoning success of Alexander’s military invasions.

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