The Role of Pilgrimage in World Religions: Medieval Buddhism,Christianity, & Islam

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  • Slide 1
  • The Role of Pilgrimage in World Religions: Medieval Buddhism,Christianity, & Islam
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  • What is pilgrimage? A journey out of ones everyday life to a sacred site and return home, during which time a transformation has taken place. one of the great common experiences of mankind a natural activity The impulse to travel to holy sites appears to be a nearly universal component of human spirituality
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  • A Journey... A physical journey through space and time... across significant frontiers or localized routes where exertion and sacrifice bring merit/grace Tibetan Buddhist pilgrim prostrates at Mt. Kailas
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  • To a sacred space/site associated with nature or presence of living or departed spiritual leaders associated with the founding of a religion Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha Kaba, center of Islamic hajj Jerusalem
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  • To make direct contact with the the Sacred Site sensual experience emotive environment
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  • A communion of pilgrims Buddhist pilgrims at Labrang Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet Chinese pilgrims and monks in Baima Shi Muslim encampment outside Mecca Christian pilgrims in Jerusalm, Good Friday
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  • Encounters with relics, holy objects, and sacred architecture Talismans, Amulets, Images, Texts That... a)Represent or invoke b)Transfer c)Remind d)Provide individual and /or social recognition Tibetan prayer flags Rosaries and Virgin Mary statues Holy water from Lourdes
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  • Buddhism pravrajya Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha GautamaUruvela Buddhas enlightenment Deer Park Buddhas first sermon Kusinara, Buddha attained nirvana Ashoka (r. 264-223 BCE): Buddhism as state religion stupas
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  • Chinese Buddhist Pilgrimages Buddhist monks to India to seek pure Buddhism Fa-hsien, 400 CE Xuanzang, 629-645 CE Mahayana Buddhism & Local shrines
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  • Buddhist Pilgrimage: Tibet mandala Mt. Kailas
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  • Mt. Wu-Tai: China Ennin, 838-847 CE Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri
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  • mandala Tibetan Buddhist Hindu
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  • Christian Pilgrimage Search for the New Jerusalem mass pilgrimage to Holy Land --> interior pilgrimage --> local pilgrimage Labrynth - path of interior pilgrimage
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  • Alternative Christian sites Rome Chartres Canterbury Lourdes Fatima Lourdes
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  • Santiago de Compostela Tomb of St. James Supsidiary Pilgrimage sites Former pagan sites Saint veneration Marien centers
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  • Muslim Pilgrimage: Hajj The hajj in Islam: effort of proper worship Kaba Five Pillars of Islam: daily profession of faith daily prayer Ramadan fasting almsgiving hajj
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  • Pilgrimage and Collective identity: Hajj The hajj in Islam: effort of proper worship haram Kaba circumambulation Day of Standing Together Before God
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  • Hajj
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  • Najaf Day of Standing Together Before God
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  • This would be an anthropologists paradise... Every specimen of humanity is brought together at Mecca during this pilgrimage. Its probably the only incident and the only time and the only place on earth where you can find every specimen of humanity - - all cultures, all races... All of everything! Malcolm X
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  • Why study religious pilgrimage? What do pilgrimages among world religions have in common? Is pilgrimage a terrestrial or inner journey? Are there formal rites: do they pilgrims dance, process, walk on their knees, prostrate? Is their journey linear, circular, spiral? Compare. Are pilgrimages controlled by the state? By the institutional religion? Or are they a-institutional? Subversive? Are they normative, obligatory, devotional? (Where) do they reinforce the existing order; (where) do they challenge it or blur boundaries? Who are the pilgrims? Priestly class? Elites? Commoners? Sinners or those needing spiritual or social rehabilitation? What motives do pilgrims give in their pilgrimage accounts? What transformations do they describe? What does the study of religious pilgrimage teach us about cultural differences/similarities? What does it teach us about economic, political, social, and cultural processes in world history?


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