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Hinduism Polytheistic? I don't think so...

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by screwtype, Nov 12, 2005.

  1. screwtype

    screwtype Warlord

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    This is only a small thing, but it bothers me. And that is that Hinduism is associated in the game with "Polytheism".

    Hinduism is not a Polytheistic religion and never was. Yes, it has a pantheon of Gods, but they are essentially seen as different aspects of the one Godhead.

    In fact Hinduism is if anything the complete opposite of Polytheistic. Hinduism is Monistic - meaning a belief, essentially, that everything is God (as opposed to Judaism's Monotheism, the belief that there is only one God). The oldest living scriptures in the world are the Hindu Vedas and Upanishads, which go back as far as 1500BC, and anybody who has read them can be in no doubt whatever that Hinduism's great innovation was the concept of Monism.

    I simply mention this because I think associating Hinduism with Polytheism panders to a popular Western prejudice of Hinduism as a rather backward religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Along with some schools of Buddhism it is probably the most conceptually radical religion in the world.

    I'm already seeing posts from folks in the general forum arguing for such features as "human sacrifice" for those ignorant, backward, "polytheistic" Hindus. And this is the danger of the game. It reinforces completely damaging and retrograde notions about one of the world's great religions.

    But if you won't associate Hinduism with Monism because you think it might be confused with Judaistic Monotheism, then I suggest you associate it with another of its innovations, Yoga.

    Incidentally, it is also not really accurate to associate Buddhism with Meditation, since meditation was, if I'm not mistaken, an arm of Yoga long before Buddha appeared on the scene. This in turn is reinforcing another Western and particularly American prejudice in favour of Buddhism as the East's "progressive" religion (when in fact Buddhism contains some quite negative, Calvinistic assumptions, such as "dukkha" - suffering - and so on).

    However, I'm willing to let that pass. But I do feel obliged to make an issue of the association of Hinduism with Polytheism. A generation of kids is going to grow up with this game, please don't leave them with such a false and potentially harmful impression.
     
  2. BlueStar

    BlueStar Chieftain

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    Thank you for the info-it's more than I know about any of it -it's good to learn this stuff-and your right-more care should be taken in presenting this information.:crazyeye:
     
  3. SoCalian

    SoCalian Deity

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    so what tech would you associate it with then? Bronze Working?
     
  4. thedarf

    thedarf Chieftain

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    Don't forget the most important aspect.... IT'S JUST A GAME!!

    Maybe our children should learn about religion and other things from an alternative source and not a game :)
     
  5. SoCalian

    SoCalian Deity

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    seriously if people are learing about religion from a game, then there is something wrong with that system.
     
  6. GreenMonkey

    GreenMonkey Chieftain

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    Well, it's not precisely polytheistic, but then again, it's not precisely monotheistic.

    I actually covered this in my Eastern Philosophy/History class. It's kind of a fine line. It's certainly not as much of a polytheistic religion as like, the Greeks had. But neither is it precisely monotheistic.

    Here's what religioustolerance had to say on the subject:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hinduism2.htm

     
  7. SoCalian

    SoCalian Deity

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    but it does have many gods, or facets of one god, which is good enough to be considered polytheistic for the sake of a game.
     
  8. JadeDragon87

    JadeDragon87 Chieftain

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    Indeed, it is a game. But people learn from it. When you are confronted with something all the time, you will remember it. So if the information is wrong, and the people don't have any knowledge of the topic, they will take the information as given.

    gj screwtype :goodjob:
     
  9. MSTK

    MSTK Deity

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    I still think that religions should have been named abstractly. For example, whoever discovered a certain religion had the ability to name it whatever they wanted. This would prevent prejudices suchas this to rise.
     
  10. screwtype

    screwtype Warlord

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    Yes, it doesn't comfortably fit into the monotheistic/polytheistic either/or model because it recognizes different levels of reality. At one level, there is the pantheon of Gods, but at another, these Gods are all recognized as different aspects of the one all-embracing reality, or Brahman.

    But for that reason alone, it is inaccurate to describe it as polytheistic. Indeed it is in a sense more radically "monotheistic" than Judaism, since it argues, essentially, that only God exists. All other forms of existence are, if you like, qualified forms of the one undivided Reality. Neither Judaism or its offshoots, Christianity and Islam, necessarily go that far.

    Hinduism is more accurately described as monistic. As Wikipedia says in its entry on monism:

    The first religious system in India that clearly explicated Absolute monism was that of Advaita (or nondualist) Vedanta (see Advaita Vedanta) as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya. It is part of the six Hindu systems of philosophy, based on the Upanishads, and posits that the ultimate monad is a formless, ineffable Divine Ground called Brahman. But even outside nondualist Vedanta, Hinduism is monistic, even as far back as the Rig Veda [circa 1500BC], in which hymnists speak of one being-non-being that 'breathed without breath,' and which singular force self-projected into the cosmic existence. Such monistic thought also extends to other Hindu systems like Yoga and non-dualist Tantra.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monism

    See also the wikipedia article on Hinduism, especially under the heading, "Nature of God":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism
     
  11. screwtype

    screwtype Warlord

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    So does Christianity. Christianity has the Holy Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    Catholicism goes even further, with Mary the Divine Mother of Jesus, and the pantheon of saints to which one can pray.

    But I think you'd go a long way before you found a Christian who'd be ready to describe his religion as "polytheistic".
     
  12. screwtype

    screwtype Warlord

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    That's just my point. People who go on to study comparative religion will learn the truth of the matter. But most people never will. Their perception of Hinduism will instead be modelled on their impressions gained through the medium of popular culture, in which computer gaming plays an increasingly significant part.
     
  13. Melkus

    Melkus Chieftain

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    Wouldn't it be more correct to say that Hinduism is not "theistic" at all? To say that god is everything seems more like a deliberate metaphor than a picture of some person-like "creator". Also, strictly speaking, there's no big difference between the statements
    "There is no god" and
    "God is everything.",
    at least as far as the observation of a reality and practical life matters are concerned.

    Anyway, I don't mind the anglo-centric angle on history the game uses, but I agree that they should have been a bit more, in fact way more careful about non-western religions.
    (At least it's ridiculous to model all religions after Christianity and then lecture everyone about the PCness of all religions being equal in the game.)
     
  14. Alphawolf

    Alphawolf Basileus, Founding Father

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    I think they put Hinduism with Polytheism to have it appear early somewhat like it did in history.

    -the Wolf
     
  15. Shivam

    Shivam Chieftain

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    I am a hindu. I agree fully that hinduism is monistic, <i>as it is today</i>. this new facet of my religion is a direct result of Adi Shankaracharya's post-buddhist reforms of Hinduism way the hell back when. Before this time, Hinduism was most definately a polytheistic religion. Just read the Vedas, and you'll see. Indeed, the battle of mono vs poly can best be seen in the stories of Krishna, where the demi gods and goddesses acknowledge the power of the One God over them all.

    However, if civ wanted to be really correct, it would call polytheistic hinduism by it's proper name--Brahmanism. This is how historians divide vedic hinduism from pop culture hinduism.

    //no, i didnt research this extensively in college, why do you ask?
     
  16. SoCalian

    SoCalian Deity

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    I know that mormons don't describe their version of Christianity as "monotheistic", or at least thats what the annoying guys at my doorstep said.;)

    As far as the Holy trinity goes, the name is never mentioned in the Bible, though the parts are. The Trinity is not considered to be three seperate being, but rather three parts of one being. Just as man has the body, mind, and soul, so does God. God the Father is like the mind, Jesus Christ the Son was the Earthly manefestation of God or the body, The Holy Ghost is like the soul of God. This is how we are created in God's image.

    As far as the Saints go, they are still human and not divine, not gods.
     
  17. Vryce101

    Vryce101 Chieftain

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    Of course "Hinduism" is basically an English creation. When the English were running India they categorized everyone as either Islamic (which they recognized from the Middle East) or everything else. The everything else consisted of a huge variety of different belief structures which the English dubbed as being "Hinduism".

    http://www.dalitstan.org/books/mohr/mohr5.html
     
  18. SoCalian

    SoCalian Deity

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    congrats on first post Vryce101!
     
  19. danbosko

    danbosko Chieftain

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    I can't belive theres acutally a post like this. This is the crap they were tryin to avoid by making every religion no different from any other. I hope you're acutally a Hindu that is deeply offended, and not just some douche *****ing just to *****. You know what i've learned about Hinduism from Civ so far? Its a squiggily blue symbol thing that i usually dont have on my citys because I dont like Spiritual civs.
     
  20. Mrdie

    Mrdie Founder of eRegime

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    I must say, that was quite an intelligent post! You MUST be a Harvard University student, yes? :rolleyes:
     

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