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Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition
Lindsay Jones, Editor in Chief
© 2005 Thomson Gale, a part of The
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Program in Religious Studies,
University of Wisconsin—Madison
Professor, Department of Literary and
Associate Professor, Department of
Cultural Studies, Faculty of Modern
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of History of Religions,
Languages, University of Latvia
Baltic Religion and Slavic Religion
Emeritus, and Former Director of
Research Center for Black Studies,

University of California, Santa Barbara
Center for Muslim–Christian
Understanding and Liberal Studies
Neil Rudenstine Professor of Study of
Program, Georgetown University
Professor, History of Religions, Le
Latin America, Divinity School and
Art and Religion
Moyne College (Syracuse, New York)
Department of Anthropology, Harvard
Professor of Anthropology and Women’s
Professor of Religious Studies, and
Studies, George Washington University
Chair, Department of Religious
Australian Indigenous Religions
Professor of History of Religions,
Studies, Yale University
Dipartimento di Scienze
Professor Emeritus of History,
dell’Antichità, Università degli Studi
Professor and Director, The Institute
University of California, Los Angeles,
di Salerno
of Ismaili Studies, London
and Fellow, Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service
Professor, African American and
and Social Sciences
Professor of the History of Religions,
African Studies Program, University
History of Religions
University of Chicago
of California, Davis
Associate Professor in the Department
Professor of History and Religious
Professor of Hebrew and Religious
of East Asian Languages and
Studies, and Director, UMKC Center
Studies, Ohio State University
Literature and the Program in
for Religious Studies, University of
Religious Studies, University of
Missouri—Kansas City
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
Chinese Religions
Department, University of California,
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies,
Santa Barbara
Faculty of Comparative Culture,
The Divinity School, Harvard
Sophia University
Humor and Religion
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
Associate Professor, Department of
McDaniel College
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Languages and Cultures of Asia and
Study of Religion
University and Co-Coordinator,

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Harvard Forum on Religion and
Religion, University of Chicago
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Law and Religion
Ecology and Religion
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
and the Center for Theology and the
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
Francis Lee Higginson Professor of
Natural Sciences at the Graduate
and Director, Center for Latin
English Literature and Professor of
Theological Union, Berkeley,
American Studies, Arizona State
Folklore, Harvard University
Germanic Religions
Science and Religion
South American Religions
Professor Emerita, Senior Research
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Fellow and Associate Member of the
and Buddhist Studies in the Divinity
University, Founder and Coordinator,
Institute for Advanced Studies,
School and the Department of South
University of Bristol, England, and
Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Harvard Forum on Religion and
Professorial Research Associate, Centre
Emeritus, University of Chicago
Ecology, Research Fellow, Harvard
for Gender and Religions Research,
History of Religions
Yenching Institute, Research Associate,
School of Oriental and African
Harvard Reischauer Institute of
Studies, University of London
Assistant Professor, Department of
Japanese Studies
Gender and Religion
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean
Ecology and Religion
Studies and Department of History
Duesenberg Professor of Christianity
and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania
Associate Professor, Department of
and the Arts, and
State University
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of Humanities and Art
Ancient Near Eastern Religions
History, Valparaiso University
Politics and Religion
Color Inserts and Essays
Director of Research, Religion, Health
and Healing Initiative, Center for the
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor, Department of English,
Study of World Religions, Harvard
and Women’s Studies, Loyola
University of California, Los Angeles
University, and Senior Research
University New Orleans
Celtic Religion
Associate, Center for Women’s Health
New Religious Movements
and Human Rights, Suffolk University
Healing, Medicine, and Religion
Obafemi Awolowo University
African Religions
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University
of Toronto

Professor, Department of Theology,
Law and Religion
Professor of Comparative Religion, The
University of Notre Dame
History of Religions
University of Helsinki, Member of
Academia Scientiarum Fennica,
Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious
Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer
Studies, Lafayette College
Arctic Religions and Uralic Religions
in the Anthropology and Sociology of
Literature and Religion
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abbr. abbreviated; abbreviation
3 Bar. 3 Baruch
2 Chr. 2 Chronicles
abr. abridged; abridgment
4 Bar. 4 Baruch
Ch. Slav. Church Slavic
AD anno Domini, in the year of the
B.B. BavaD batraD
cm centimeters
(our) Lord
BBC British Broadcasting
col. column (pl., cols.)
Afrik. Afrikaans
Col. Colossians
AH anno Hegirae, in the year of the
BC before Christ
Colo. Colorado
BCE before the common era
comp. compiler (pl., comps.)
Akk. Akkadian
B.D. Bachelor of Divinity
Conn. Connecticut
Ala. Alabama
Beits. Beitsah
cont. continued
Alb. Albanian
Bekh. Bekhorot
Copt. Coptic
Am. Amos
Beng. Bengali
1 Cor. 1 Corinthians
AM ante meridiem, before noon
Ber. Berakhot
2 Cor. 2 Corinthians
amend. amended; amendment
Berb. Berber
corr. corrected
annot. annotated; annotation
Bik. Bikkurim
C.S.P. Congregatio Sancti Pauli,
Ap. Apocalypse
bk. book (pl., bks.)
Congregation of Saint Paul
Apn. Apocryphon
B.M. BavaD metsiEaD
app. appendix
BP before the present
d. died
Arab. Arabic
B.Q. BavaD qammaD
D Deuteronomic (source of the
EArakh. EArakhin
Bra¯h. Bra¯hman.a
Aram. Aramaic
Bret. Breton
Dan. Danish
Ariz. Arizona
B.T. Babylonian Talmud
D.B. Divinitatis Baccalaureus,
Ark. Arkansas
Bulg. Bulgarian
Bachelor of Divinity
Arm. Armenian
Burm. Burmese
D.C. District of Columbia
art. article (pl., arts.)
c. circa, about, approximately
D.D. Divinitatis Doctor, Doctor of
AS Anglo-Saxon
Calif. California
Asm. Mos. Assumption of Moses
Can. Canaanite
Del. Delaware
Assyr. Assyrian
Catal. Catalan
Dem. DemaDi
A.S.S.R. Autonomous Soviet Socialist
CE of the common era
dim. diminutive
Celt. Celtic
diss. dissertation
Av. Avestan
cf. confer, compare
Dn. Daniel
EA.Z. EAvodah zarah
Chald. Chaldean
D.Phil. Doctor of Philosophy
b. born
chap. chapter (pl., chaps.)
Dt. Deuteronomy
Bab. Babylonian
Chin. Chinese
Du. Dutch
Ban. Bantu
C.H.M. Community of the Holy
E Elohist (source of the Pentateuch)
1 Bar. 1 Baruch
Eccl. Ecclesiastes
2 Bar. 2 Baruch
1 Chr. 1 Chronicles
ed. editor (pl., eds.); edition; edited by

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EEduy. EEduyyot
Hung. Hungarian
Lith. Lithuanian
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
ibid. ibidem, in the same place (as the
Lk. Luke
Egyp. Egyptian
one immediately preceding)
LL Late Latin
1 En. 1 Enoch
Icel. Icelandic
LL.D. Legum Doctor, Doctor of Laws
2 En. 2 Enoch
i.e. id est, that is
Lv. Leviticus
3 En. 3 Enoch
IE Indo-European
m meters
Eng. English
Ill. Illinois
m. masculine
enl. enlarged
Ind. Indiana
M.A. Master of Arts
Eph. Ephesians
intro. introduction
Ma Eas. MaEaserot
EEruv. EEruvin
Ir. Gael. Irish Gaelic
Ma Eas. Sh. MaE aser sheni
1 Esd. 1 Esdras
Iran. Iranian
Mak. Makkot
2 Esd. 2 Esdras
Is. Isaiah
Makh. Makhshirin
3 Esd. 3 Esdras
Ital. Italian
Mal. Malachi
4 Esd. 4 Esdras
J Yahvist (source of the Pentateuch)
Mar. Marathi
esp. especially
Jas. James
Mass. Massachusetts
Est. Estonian
Jav. Javanese
1 Mc. 1 Maccabees
Est. Esther
Jb. Job
2 Mc. 2 Maccabees
et al. et alii, and others
Jdt. Judith
3 Mc. 3 Maccabees
etc. et cetera, and so forth
Jer. Jeremiah
4 Mc. 4 Maccabees
Eth. Ethiopic
Jgs. Judges
Md. Maryland
EV English version
Jl. Joel
M.D. Medicinae Doctor, Doctor of
Ex. Exodus
Jn. John
exp. expanded
1 Jn. 1 John
ME Middle English
Ez. Ezekiel
2 Jn. 2 John
Meg. Megillah
Ezr. Ezra
3 Jn. 3 John
Me Eil. MeEilah
2 Ezr. 2 Ezra
Jon. Jonah
Men. Menah.ot
4 Ezr. 4 Ezra
Jos. Joshua
MHG Middle High German
f. feminine; and following (pl., ff.)
Jpn. Japanese
mi. miles
fasc. fascicle (pl., fascs.)
JPS Jewish Publication Society trans-
Mi. Micah
fig. figure (pl., figs.)
lation (1985) of the Hebrew Bible
Mich. Michigan
Finn. Finnish
J.T. Jerusalem Talmud
Mid. Middot
fl. floruit, flourished
Jub. Jubilees
Minn. Minnesota
Fla. Florida
Kans. Kansas
Miq. MiqvaDot
Fr. French
Kel. Kelim
MIran. Middle Iranian
frag. fragment
Ker. Keritot
Miss. Mississippi
ft. feet
Ket. Ketubbot
Mk. Mark
Ga. Georgia
1 Kgs. 1 Kings
Mo. Missouri
Gal. Galatians
2 Kgs. 2 Kings
MoEed Q. MoEed qat.an
Gaul. Gaulish
Khois. Khoisan
Mont. Montana
Ger. German
Kil. Kil Dayim
MPers. Middle Persian
Git.. Git.t.in
km kilometers
MS. manuscriptum, manuscript (pl.,
Gn. Genesis
Kor. Korean
Gr. Greek
Ky. Kentucky
Mt. Matthew
. ag. H
. agigah
l. line (pl., ll.)
MT Masoretic text
. al. H
. allah
La. Louisiana
n. note
Hau. Hausa
Lam. Lamentations
Na. Nahum
Hb. Habakkuk
Lat. Latin
Nah. Nahuatl
Heb. Hebrew
Latv. Latvian
Naz. Nazir
Heb. Hebrews
L. en Th. Licencié en Théologie,
N.B. nota bene, take careful note
Hg. Haggai
Licentiate in Theology
N.C. North Carolina
Hitt. Hittite
L. ès L. Licencié ès Lettres, Licentiate
n.d. no date
Hor. Horayot
in Literature
N.Dak. North Dakota
Hos. Hosea
Let. Jer. Letter of Jeremiah
NEB New English Bible
. ul. H
. ullin
lit. literally
Nebr. Nebraska
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Ned. Nedarim
pop. population
sp. species (pl., spp.)
Neg. Nega Eim
Port. Portuguese
Span. Spanish
Neh. Nehemiah
Prv. Proverbs
sq. square
Nev. Nevada
Ps. Psalms
S.S.R. Soviet Socialist Republic
N.H. New Hampshire
Ps. 151 Psalm 151
st. stanza (pl., ss.)
Nid. Niddah
Ps. Sol. Psalms of Solomon
S.T.M. Sacrae Theologiae Magister,
N.J. New Jersey
pt. part (pl., pts.)
Master of Sacred Theology
Nm. Numbers
1Pt. 1 Peter
Suk. Sukkah
N.Mex. New Mexico
2 Pt. 2 Peter
Sum. Sumerian
no. number (pl., nos.)
Pth. Parthian
supp. supplement; supplementary
Nor. Norwegian
Q hypothetical source of the synoptic
Sus. Susanna
n.p. no place
s.v. sub verbo, under the word (pl.,
n.s. new series
Qid. Qiddushin
N.Y. New York
Qin. Qinnim
Swed. Swedish
Ob. Obadiah
r. reigned; ruled
Syr. Syriac
O.Cist. Ordo Cisterciencium, Order
Rab. Rabbah
Syr. Men. Syriac Menander
of Cîteaux (Cistercians)
rev. revised
TaE an. TaEanit
OCS Old Church Slavonic
R. ha-Sh. RoDsh ha-shanah
Tam. Tamil
OE Old English
R.I. Rhode Island
Tam. Tamid
O.F.M. Ordo Fratrum Minorum,
Rom. Romanian
Tb. Tobit
Order of Friars Minor
Rom. Romans
T.D. Taisho¯ shinshu¯ daizo¯kyo¯, edited
R.S.C.J. Societas Sacratissimi Cordis
by Takakusu Junjiro¯ et al.
OFr. Old French
Jesu, Religious of the Sacred Heart
Ohal. Ohalot
RSV Revised Standard Version of the
Tem. Temurah
OHG Old High German
Tenn. Tennessee
OIr. Old Irish
Ru. Ruth
Ter. Terumot
OIran. Old Iranian
Rus. Russian
. ev. Y. T
. evul yom
Okla. Oklahoma
Rv. Revelation
Tex. Texas
ON Old Norse
Rv. Ezr. Revelation of Ezra
Th.D. Theologicae Doctor, Doctor of
O.P. Ordo Praedicatorum, Order of
San. Sanhedrin
Preachers (Dominicans)
S.C. South Carolina
1 Thes. 1 Thessalonians
OPers. Old Persian
Scot. Gael. Scottish Gaelic
2 Thes. 2 Thessalonians
op. cit. opere citato, in the work cited
S.Dak. South Dakota
Thrac. Thracian
OPrus. Old Prussian
sec. section (pl., secs.)
Ti. Titus
Oreg. Oregon
Sem. Semitic
Tib. Tibetan
EOrl. EOrlah
ser. series
1 Tm. 1 Timothy
O.S.B. Ordo Sancti Benedicti, Order
sg. singular
2 Tm. 2 Timothy
of Saint Benedict (Benedictines)
Sg. Song of Songs
T. of 12 Testaments of the Twelve
p. page (pl., pp.)
Sg. of 3 Prayer of Azariah and the
P Priestly (source of the Pentateuch)
Song of the Three Young Men
. oh. t.ohorot
Pa. Pennsylvania
Shab. Shabbat
Tong. Tongan
Pahl. Pahlavi
Shav. ShavuEot
trans. translator, translators; translated
Par. Parah
Sheq. Sheqalim
by; translation
para. paragraph (pl., paras.)
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
Turk. Turkish
Pers. Persian
Sind. Sindhi
Ukr. Ukrainian
Pes. Pesahim
Sinh. Sinhala
Upan. Upanis.ad
Ph.D. Philosophiae Doctor, Doctor
Sir. Ben Sira
U.S. United States
of Philosophy
S.J. Societas Jesu, Society of Jesus
U.S.S.R. Union of Soviet Socialist
Phil. Philippians
Phlm. Philemon
Skt. Sanskrit
Uqts. Uqtsin
Phoen. Phoenician
1 Sm. 1 Samuel
v. verse (pl., vv.)
pl. plural; plate (pl., pls.)
2 Sm. 2 Samuel
Va. Virginia
PM post meridiem, after noon
Sogd. Sogdian
var. variant; variation
Pol. Polish
Sot.. Sot.ah
Viet. Vietnamese
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viz. videlicet, namely
Yad. Yadayim
* hypothetical
vol. volume (pl., vols.)
Yev. Yevamot
? uncertain; possibly; perhaps
Vt. Vermont
Yi. Yiddish
° degrees
Wash. Washington
Yor. Yoruba
+ plus
Wel. Welsh
Zav. Zavim
Wis. Wisconsin
Zec. Zechariah
= equals; is equivalent to
Wis. Wisdom of Solomon
Zep. Zephaniah
× by; multiplied by
W.Va. West Virginia
Zev. Zevah.im
→ yields
Wyo. Wyoming
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

v o l u m e e i g h t
p p r o p r i
A a
P P t
R OiP o
R I n
a n d i d e n t i t yIDENTITY
Whatever else they are, images are always deposits of previ-
ous forms of image-making, traces of visual thought inherited
from the past. This fact makes any given image a particular configuration of preserva-
tive or backward-looking impulses and present or even forward-looking ones. In the
case of religious imagery, this means that images are something like cultural fossils
that are especially useful to religious belief because of their ability to appropriate old
motifs for new uses. It is possible, therefore, to plot the changes and cultural develop-
ments of religious thought and practice in the material record of art and architecture.
Images (as well as song, dance, verse, and music) are not merely incidental to religion,
but often the very medium in which belief takes shape.
Images live long lives. Their features and motifs travel far, are copied and often
modified by successive generations of artisans, and are used as patterns for new ideas
and put to purposes for which they were
not originally intended. In some cases, there
is no question of intentional appropriation
of a visual motif. Haitian Vodou makes
explicit use of Catholic iconography and
the cult of saints in its imagery and visual
practices. Vodou societies possess flags, such
as the one illustrated here (a), to represent
their group and the gods or goddesses whom
they worship. The flag of Sen Jak or Ogou is
clearly taken from imagery of Saint Jacques
or Saint James, the mounted soldier well
known for his pilgrimage church, Santiago
de Compostella, in Spain. Ogou is the prin-
cipal male deity in Vodou, the master of
iron and lord of battle who is invoked dur-
(a) A Haitian Vodou flag (drapo sevis), sewn by
Silva Joseph for the male deity Ogou (Sen Jak).
[UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History; photo-
graph by Don Cole]
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ing times of crisis and conflict. Among the many Haitians
who practice both Vodou and Catholicism, the duality
of the image is important. As a consequence of French
colonialism, the dual nature of the image signifies both
the authority of the dominant religion and the strategy of
resistance adopted by Haitians. In other instances, origi-
nal meanings are readily lost or detached from images and
new significance discerned within them. The frontispiece
of a medieval Muslim manuscript (not pictured) offered
protection from snakebite and did so by combining origi-
nally Babylonian iconography (the symbol of the moon
in the center) with the visual organization
of a Buddhist man.d.ala. It has been said of
this image that popular belief understood
an eclipse to occur when a celestial monster
swallowed the sun or moon. It is known
that the manuscript was written during an
eclipse, which may have been thought to
enhance the power of the image and the
text’s prescriptions to protect against snake-
bite. Registered in the image, therefore, are
pre-Muslim beliefs and an archive of non-
Muslim visual motifs that may or may not
be associated with the image’s meaning.

In yet a third scenario, images (in
this case, architectural styles and decorative
iconography) offer the select appropriation
of many traditions and their deliberate
integration into a new religious ideal, as
in the case of the Bahācī religion. This reli-
gion teaches that a single, universal deity
has been revealed by important messen-
gers, including Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and
Muh.ammad, and that a single, univer-
sal religion is being progressively revealed.
Unity of belief and diversity of believers goes
to the heart of the faith and is visually con-
veyed by the architectural design of Bahācī
temples around the world (b), each of which
integrates elements from many faiths.
(b) The Bahā c ī House of Worship in Wilmette,
Illinois. [©Richard Hamilton Smith/Corbis]
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As Buddhism developed in northern India and else-
where, the life of Siddārtha Gautama was understood
in terms borrowed from Hinduism, the parent religion
of Buddhism. The Buddha himself maintained major
features of Hindu thought and practice in his new way,
so it is not surprising that elements used to define and
affirm the distinctiveness of Buddhism clearly derive
from Hinduism, such as the serpent Mucalinda, who
arose to protect Siddārtha from the rain as he meditated
(c). The small company of Hindu ascetics with whom
he had practiced for several years saw in the act of the
serpent something that might have reminded them of
Vis.n.u (d), who was often shown recumbent on a bed
of a multiheaded serpent, which provided shade for the
resting deity. Emerging from Buddhist and Hindu tradi-
tions, Jainism borrowed the motif for portraying the Jina
named Parshvanatha, one of the religion’s enlightened few
(c) RIGHT. Buddha sheltered by the serpent Mucalinda
during meditation, eleventh to twelfth century, Nepal,
Kathmandu. [The James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection,
193.1997; photograph by Michael Tropea; reproduction, The Art
Institute of Chicago] (d) B OTTOM. Vis.n.u and Laks.mī resting on
the multiheaded serpent Garud.a, Kangra school, c. 1870.
[©Victoria & Albert Museum, London/Art Resource, N.Y.]
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(the equivalent of a bodhisattva) who lead the way out of
rebirth (e).

Buddhism is an especially resourceful religious tradi-
tion, adapting itself to locale and cultural milieu to great
effect. As with the saints in many other religions, such as
Catholicism and Vodou, the bodhisattvas often assume the
greatest variety of accommodation. Avalokiteśvara, the
bodhisattva of compassion, who enjoyed enormous popu-
larity among Mahāyāna Buddhists in India and the Hima-
layan regions (often receiving even greater attention than
the Buddha himself ), was portrayed with many heads
and arms to signify the watchfulness and abundance of
his compassion (f ). When Buddhism took root in China,
however, Avalokiteśvara morphed into a female equiva-
(e) TOP. Ninth-century bronze of the Jain teacher
Parshvanatha flanked by attendants, beneath the canopy of a
multiheaded serpent, Maitraka region, India. [©Angelo Hornak/
Corbis] (f ) RIGHT. Eleven-headed Avalokiteśvara, 1800, bronze
and silver gilt, polychromed and inlaid with semiprecious stones,
Eastern Tibet. [The Walters Art Museum, promised gift of John &
Berthe Ford]
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lent known as Guanyin, the bodhisattva of mercy (g), a
pre-Buddhist figure who had been dedicated to assist-
ing mothers in the birth and care of children. As often
happens in the history of Buddhism, this transformation
was effected by imperial influence: Avalokiteśvara became
female when the portrait of an empress was inserted into
his depictions in the decorations of her tomb. A Japanese
counterpart, Kannon, accompanied the rise of Buddhism
in Japan and served as the meeting point of Christianity
and Japanese Buddhism when Jesuit missionaries por-
trayed the Madonna and Child for Japanese converts to
Roman Catholicism in the sixteenth century.

It will always be a matter of debate among specialists
(as well as among believers, perhaps) what such borrow-
ings and transformations mean. Is the Egyptian motif
of Isis suckling Horus on her lap (h) the source of early
(g) ABOVE. Guanyin, the Chinese bodhisattva of mercy, Yuan
dynasty, c. 1279–1369, polychromed wood. [©Burstein Collection/
(h) LEFT. Bronze sculpture of the ancient Egyptian
goddess Isis suckling the infant Horus. [©Réunion des Musées
Nationaux/Art Resource, N.Y.]

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(i) A Roman catacomb image depicting the Magi with Mary
Christianity’s portrayal of the Virgin and Child? If so,
and the infant Jesus, from the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome,
does any of the meaning of the Egyptian motif remain in
c. 200 ce. [©Scala/Art Resource, N.Y.]
its Christian appropriation? By the same token, the three
figures approaching the seated Madonna in a Roman
catacomb painting (i) are the magi mentioned in the
Gospel of Luke, wise men from the East, possibly Zoro-
astrian priests from Persia (modern Iran), who practiced
a monotheistic faith that maintained understandings of
soul, conflict of good and evil, afterlife, and eschaton that
were shared by Christianity. As an early competitor of
Christianity, Zoroastrianism may have deliberately been
portrayed in the subordinating motif of the wise men’s
visit to the newborn Christ. If so, the representation of the
three figures, whose form recalls the repetitive silhouettes
of Persian relief sculpture, may have been keyed to the
visual and theological sensibilities of Zoroastrian converts
to Christianity in third-century Rome. Sometimes images
may be intended to retain their older associations as a way
of subordinating them to their new religious contents.
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But the survival of visual features does not always
mean a continuity of meaning or specific intention.
Winged figures, for instance, are a familiar aspect of many
different religions and might be historically traced in a
long descent from antiquity to the present. In ancient
Nimrud winged creatures were depicted on the palace
walls of Assyrian kings as divine protectors (j). Winged
figures were reported in the Hebrew Bible when writers
described angels or messengers of God and apocalyptic
figures such as those in the Book of Ezekiel. Zoroastrian-
ism portrays the human soul with a winged figure (k),
and angels perform important roles in both Islam and
Christianity. Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the
birth of the messiah and, according to the Qur c ān, to
many prophets from Adam to Muh.ammad. And it was
Gabriel who brought to Muh.ammad the revelations that
(j) ABOVE. Limestone relief of Ashurnasirpal II offering protec-
tion to the Assyrian kings, 875 bce, Nimrud, Assyria. [©The
Trustees of the British Museum]
(k) RIGHT. Iranian relief of Ahura
Mazdā, the chief Zoroastrian deity, c. sixth century bce, Persepo-
lis, Iran. [©Charles & Josette Lenars/Corbis]
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are recorded in the Qur c ān. Another function of winged
angels occupies popular Christian piety in the modern
age: the benevolent guardian angels who accompany their
charges in daily life in order to protect them from mishap
or evil (l).
Davis, Richard H. Lives of Indian Images. Princeton, 1997.
Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Art and Architecture. London, 1999.
Ning, Qiang. Art, Religion, and Politics in Medieval China: The
Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family. Honolulu, 2004.
Pal, Pratapaditya. The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India. Los
Angeles and New York, 1994.
Polk, Patrick Arthur. Haitian Vodou Flags. Jackson, Miss., 1997.
Shafer, Byron E., ed. Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and
Personal Practice. Ithaca, N.Y., 1991.
Weidner, Marsha, ed. Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese
Buddhism, 850–1850. Lawrence, Kans., and Honolulu, 1994.
David Morgan ()
(l) Pietro da Cortona, The Guardian Angel, seventeenth
century. [©Araldo de Luca/Corbis]
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KAEBAH. The KaEbah (cube), located in Mecca, is the shrine at the center of the Mus-
lim world. Referred to as the “House of God,” (bayt Alla¯h), it is the central point (qiblah)
on earth toward which all Muslims face when performing daily prayers (sala¯t). Making
pilgrimage (h:a¯jj) to the KaEbah at least once in a Muslim’s life if able, is one of the major
religious obligations in Islam. It is also referred to in the Qur’a¯n (5:95, 97), where it is
called al-bayt (his house), and also masjid al-h:aram (the sacred mosque).
The present KaEbah is a cubelike building made of local Meccan granite and Yemeni
mortar. It is 50 feet high, 40 feet on its longest side and about 33 feet on its shorter walls.
It is hollow, with a door on the long side about 7 feet above the ground, necessitating
rolling stairs to enter. The corners are situated roughly on the points of the compass, with
the eastern corner containing the Black Stone (al-h:ajar al-aswad ) that has been the major
feature of the structure since pre-Islamic times. Inside the KaEbah, there are gold and silver
lamps hanging from a ceiling supported by wooden pillars. The KaEbah is covered by a
black cloth brocaded in gold and silver, called the Kiswah (curtain), containing the words
of the declaration of faith (shaha¯dah) and quotations from the Qur’a¯n. This covering is
renewed each year, with the old cloth cut into pieces as relics for the pilgrims.
The history of the KaEbah demonstrates that the Black Stone is the primary focal
point of Muslim veneration, but is not an object of worship, since only the aniconic Alla¯h
is worshiped. While there is only slight mention outside of Muslim accounts of the history
of the KaEbah, the story told is that it was destroyed and rebuilt several times in
Muh:ammad’s lifetime and afterward by war, fire, and flood. In one incident, the Black
Stone, which is really a dark reddish brown, was cracked into three pieces and several frag-
ments, and is now encased in a heavy silver bezel. During Muh:ammad’s farewell pilgrim-
age, he kissed the Stone during his circumambulation (t:awa¯f ), which action has become
customary for pilgrims since. The circumambulation, which is counter clockwise, is made
as close to the KaEbah as possible on a pavement of granite called the mata¯f.
The pre-Islamic records of the KaEbah indicate that it was an ancient shrine and place
of sacrifice. The geographer Ptolemy refers to Mecca as Macoraba, a term that is likely
C LOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT CORNER. Kr:s:n:a playing the flute. Kanchipuram, India. [©Lindsay Hebberd/
; Relief of a winged, lion-headed goddess from Meroe, Sudan. Sudan Archaeological
Museum, Khartoum. [©Werner Forman/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Stone victory stele of Naram-Sin,
c. twenty-third century BCE. [©Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis]; A time-exposure photograph of
devout Muslims performing t:awa¯f, the circumambulation of the KaEbah in Mecca, during the
h:a¯jj. [Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images]; The Khmer horse-headed god Vajimukha, sixth-
century, Cambodia. Musée des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet, Paris. [©Scala/Art Resource, N.Y.] .

cognate with South Arabian mikrab (temple), and Northwest
relayed, an electric lighting system replaced the oil lamps,
Semitic qurba¯n (sacrifice). Arabic records indicate that the
water taps have been provided and the walkway between Safa¯
KaEbah was a place of pagan sacrifice until the arrival of
and Marwah used for the Sa’y has been covered by a tall ceil-
Islam. QurDanic verses and Muslim legends assign an impor-
ing. In keeping with Nahhabi doctrines, the improvements
tance to the KaEbah similar to the position of the Jerusalem
in the KaEbah have resulted in the elimination of saint-
Temple for Judaism. Many Western scholars have pointed
shrines and other historical and religious spaces.
to similarities among stories about the two shrines. It is said
Nearly all branches of Islam near the KaEbah regard the
to be at the center of the earth and the location at which
KaEbah as a central part of Islamic religious practice. In addi-
Adam first performed worship of God. It is thought to be
tion to facing th KaEbah during sala¯t, Muslims also bury the
directly beneath a heavenly counterpart that some hold to be
dead facing towards it. In the Islamic mystical tradition, its
the “real” KaEbah. Under heavenly guidance, it is said to have
importance has been reinterpreted and linked with a heaven-
been first constructed by Abraham (Ibra¯h¯ım) and his son
ly KaEbah that is, according to some, directly above the earth-
Ishmael (Ishma¯’¯ıl) when the Sak¯ınah circled the spot and in-
ly shrine. Above all, the experience of visiting the KaEbah is
structed them to build. The Black Stone is believed to have
not veneration of the building or the Black Stone, but an aid
been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel (Jibr¯ıl), giv-
to contemplation of God.
ing rise to modern, secular speculation that the stone is a me-
teorite. The nearby well of Zamzam was the source of water
SEE ALSO H:aram and Hawtah; Pilgrimage, article on Mus-
for Ishmael and Hagar when they were cast into the desert.
lim Pilgrimage.
Abraham was the first to institute the pilgrimage (h:a¯jj), and
it is held to be the location of the graves of Abraham, Ishma-
el, Hagar and a number of prophets. In the process of re-
Descriptions of the KaEbah are readily found in pilgrim accounts
building the KaEbah in Muh:ammad’s early life, a pry bar was
of the h:a¯jj, some of which are available on the Internet. A
placed under the foundation stone to move it, and the whole
comprehensive study of the pilgrimage with an extensive bib-
liography is F. E. Peters, The Hajj (Princeton, 1994). Also
earth is said to have shook, indicating that it was the founda-
recommended is his Jerusalem and Mecca: The Typology of the
tion of the world. In this reconstruction, Muh:ammad acted
Holy City in the Near East (New York, 1987). Beverly White
to resolve a conflict over who would have the honor of restor-
Spicer’s The Ka Ebah (Lanham, Md., 2003), examines the in-
ing the Black Stone by placing it in his cloak and having a
tersection of the KaEbah and human psycho-physiology. For
representative of each Meccan clan lift the stone into place.
a concise summary of the rites associated with the KaEbah,
see Noah Ha Mim Keller, ed. and trans., The Reliance of the
With Muh:ammad’s conquest of Mecca in 8/629, the
Traveler; A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad
accretions and numerous pagan idols that had become asso-
ibn Naqib al-Misri (Dubai, 1991). For literary accounts of
ciated with the KaEbah were purged, and Islamic worship es-
the h:a¯jj and descriptions of the KaEbah, see Michael Wolfe’s
tablished. It is believed that there were over 360 different
One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers
idols that had been moved into the KaEbah. According to tra-
Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage (New York, 1997). See
dition, Muh:ammad left an image of Maryam, the mother of
also Gerald Hawting’s “Ka’ba,” in Encyclopedia of the
Jesus, intact inside of the cleansed KaEbah, put there by the
Qur Da¯n, Vol. III (Leiden, 2003). For a recent film, see Hajj,
Coptic craftsman who helped the Meccans rebuild the
The Pilgrimage: A Videorecording (Princeton, 2003). The pre-
sentation in art is reflected in Ann Parker’s Hajj Paintings:
shrine. This image was destroyed in the civil wars during the
Folk Art of the Great Pilgrimage (Washington, D.C., 1995).
Umayyad period. The sacred precinct around the KaEbah
thus became the place that Muslims perform the h:a¯jj and the
lesser pilgrimage (umrah), including the annual ritual sacri-
In 64/683, during the attempt of EAbd Alla¯h b. al-
Zubayr to gain the caliphate, the KaEbah was nearly de-
stroyed in the siege, and a subsequent fire cracked the Black
Stone into three pieces. When the siege was lifted, the Black
KABERRY, PHYLLIS M. Phyllis Mary Kaberry
Stone was repaired with a silver bezel, and the KaEbah was
(1910–1977), the first anthropologist to study religion and
rebuilt and enlarged. In 74/693, the Umayyad conquered
culture from the vantage point of Aboriginal women in Aus-
Mecca, killed al-Zubayr, and undid many of the alterations,
tralia, showed that the benefits and responsibilities of the
returning the KaEbah to a simpler form, which it still retains.
Ngarrangkarni—spelled by Kaberry as Narungani and trans-
In 317/929, the Qaramatians (Qara¯mitah) carried off the
lated by her to mean “The Time Long Past”—were equally
Black Stone, which was restored after twenty years. While
relevant to women as they were to men. Ngarrangkarni, or
the KaEbah itself has retained the general size and form it had
“The Dreaming,” as it is known in the Kimberley, northern
in Muh:ammad’s lifetime, much work has been done to im-
Australia, embraces a profound body of Aboriginal religion
prove the surrounding areas to accommodate the h:a¯jj visi-
and law. Often described as a creative epoch that lives on in
tors. Since 1376/1956, the stones that paved the mata¯f were
the present via myth, ritual, art, and oral traditions, the pow-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ers of the Dreaming ancestors formed the human and physi-
Mourning taboos restricted the consumption of meat, leav-
cal world, while also revealing a way of life for humankind
ing vegetable foods or small fish, grubs, and so on to be
to follow. Arguing against peers such as Bronislaw Malinow-
eaten. Such taboos could be removed only when the required
ski (1913), Géza Róheim (1933), and especially W. Lloyd
period for mourning was over.
Warner (1937) that Aboriginal religion was an all-male do-
Kaberry paid some attention to religious rites associated
main, and critical of Émile Durkheim’s (1915) sociological
with the initiation of young men, but as a female observer
thesis that religious beliefs and behaviors could be organized
of and participant in a society where both joint and gender-
into distinct secular and nonsecular spheres, Kaberry made
specific activities occurred, her account of men’s rituals was
her findings explicit in Aboriginal Woman, Sacred and Pro-
understandably limited. She described, however, the role of
fane, first published in 1939.
women during the initiation of male kin (such as men related
A graduate of Sydney University and the London
to them as sons or brothers) and about women-only ceremo-
School of Economics, Kaberry worked among Bunuba,
nies, including yoelyu.
Gooniyandi, Jaru, Kija, Malgnin, Nyikina, and Walmajarri
There are several features that define Kaberry’s contri-
groups between 1934 and 1936. According to Kaberry, the
bution to the study of religious beliefs and practices. Firstly,
Time Long Past encompassed various totemic beliefs (such
she analyzed the Narungani as a rich body of religion, law,
as conception, birth, and clan totems) and complementary
and lore central to the reproduction of Aboriginal society and
symmetrical social divisions or moieties, which provided
human/land/water relationships. Secondly, in contrast to
connections between people and all other life forms. She in-
Durkheim, she argued that cosmological and temporal be-
terpreted conception totems and the animation of spirit chil-
liefs, ideas, and actions merged into and were dependent
dren, ultimately born as human beings, as central to the cul-
upon each other. Kaberry rejected entirely the notion that
turally complex and integrated nature of Aboriginal religion
Aboriginal religion could be demarcated into disparate reli-
and law (Kaberry, 1936, 1937, 1937a, 1939).
gious and secular domains. Thirdly, Kaberry challenged Ma-
linowski, Róheim, and Warner who, when writing about
Mythological narratives (given expression through per-
Australian Aboriginal religion, portrayed women as “pro-
formance, song cycles, trading, and artworks) were also de-
fane.” It is the latter for which Kaberry is most well known,
scribed by Kaberry as a medium through which the cosmolo-
an assessment that has perhaps restricted a full appreciation
gy occupied a practical socializing role. She wrote, for
of her contribution to the study of Australian Aboriginal
example, about the mythic rainbow snake, or kalpurtu, as the
maker of rivers and rain, about social classifications known
as subsections, and about marriage laws. Rainmaking also fell
into the category of “increase ceremonies,” where rituals or-
Durkheim, Émile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Lon-
dained by ancestral beings were enacted to ensure the stabili-
don, 1915.
ty and replenishment of food and other resources.
Kaberry, Phyllis M. “Death and Deferred Mourning Ceremonies
In keeping with a holistic approach to Aboriginal reli-
in the Forest River Tribes.” Oceania 6, no. 1 (1935): 33–47.
gion, Kaberry discussed death as well as birth. She recorded
Kaberry, Phyllis M. “Spirit Children and Spirit Centres of the
how death and grieving were incorporated into the “sacred
North Kimberley Divisions.” Oceania 6, no. 4 (1936): 392–
and profane” lives of men and women (Kaberry, 1935,
1939). Death in old age was often accepted, but when a child
Kaberry, Phyllis M. “Subsections in the East and South Kimberley
or young adult died, relatives sought reason in the supernatu-
Tribes of North-west Australia.” Oceania 7, no. 1 (1937):
ral, such as that a taboo had been broken, an avoidance rela-
tionship ignored, or that unauthorized contact with sacred
Kaberry, Phyllis M. “Totemism in East and South Kimberley.”
objects had occurred. Kaberry claimed that spirits had the
Oceania 8, no. 1 (1937a): 265–288.
power to influence the living in positive or negative ways. If
Kaberry, Phyllis M. Aboriginal Woman, Sacred and Profane. Lon-
the deceased was old or very young, for instance, the corpse
don, 1939.
was buried in the ground. When this was not the case and
Malinowski, Bronislaw. The Family among the Australian Aborigi-
the cause of death was unclear, the body was placed on a plat-
nes: A Sociological Study. London, 1913.
form in a tree, covered with soft bark, and then left for as
Róheim, Géza. “Women and Their Life in Central Australia.”
long as it took for the flesh to disintegrate. The purpose of
Royal Anthropological Institute Journal 63 (1933): 259–265.
this kind of burial was to allow the deceased’s juices to fall
Warner, W. Lloyd. A Black Civilization: A Social Study of an Aus-
on stones placed beneath the corpse so that the cause or mur-
tralian Tribe. New York, 1937.
derer could be divined. While this took place, the husband
or wife and in-laws would smear themselves with mud.
Other kin, such as the mother, father, sisters, sons, and
daughters, would be painted by grieving family members
with ochre. Wives shaved their hair and the belongings of
KAB¯IR (fifteenth century CE) was one of the most famous
the deceased were distributed to distant kin or burnt.
saints and mystics in the Indian tradition. Kab¯ır is unique
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

in that he is revered by Hindus and Muslims alike, yet his
Kab¯ırpanth¯ıs, although Kab¯ır himself never founded a sect.
personality and his biography remain shrouded in mystery.
The Bijak represents the eastern recension of Kab¯ır’s words.
The only certain fact about him is that he was born a Jula¯ha¯,
A fair idea of Kab¯ır’s teachings, however, can be inferred
a low-caste Muslim weaver, in or near the city of Banaras to-
only from a comparison of the three main recensions.
ward the middle of the fifteenth century CE, at a time when
Some Muslims in the past tended to view Kab¯ır as a
North India was under the rule of the Lodi dynasty. The
S:u¯f¯ı, because many of his “words” are somewhat similar to
Jula¯ha¯s were probably recent converts to Islam, and it is not
those of the most liberal and unorthodox Indian S:u¯f¯ıs. Mod-
certain that Kab¯ır himself was circumcised. He refers to the
ern Hindus and Muslims tend to see him as the champion
Muslims as “Turks.”
of Hindu-Muslim unity, although Kab¯ır himself expressed
The legendary biography of Kab¯ır includes his alleged
outright rejection of the “two religions” and bitterly castigat-
persecution by the Muslim ruler Sikander Lodi and his initi-
ed their official representatives: pandits and pa¯n:d:es on the
one side, mullas and ka¯zis on the other. For Kab¯ır, there
ation (presumably in the Ra¯ma¯ite faith) by a rather mysteri-
could be no revealed religion at all—no Veda, no QurDa¯n.
ous Hindu saint known as Ra¯ma¯nand. The most famous
All scriptural authority he emphatically denied, and he
story about Kab¯ır, however, concerns the saint’s death and
warned people against searching for truth in “holy books”:
burial-cremation at Magahar, a small town of ill repute in
“Reading, reading, the whole world died—and no one ever
northeastern Uttar Pradesh, near Gorakhpur. As Kab¯ır was
became learned!”
about to die, two armed parties of his followers allegedly con-
verged on Magahar, ready to fight in order to secure posses-
There is a tendency in modern times, especially among
sion of the saint’s body. Kab¯ır retired into a small tent to die,
Hindu scholars with Vais:n:ava leanings, to view Kab¯ır as a
and immediately after his death his body disappeared. Noth-
“liberal” Vais:n:ava, one opposed—as indeed he was—to caste
ing was found but a heap of flowers, which was divided be-
distinctions as well as to “idol worship,” but a Vais:n:ava all
tween the two parties: The Muslims buried their share of the
the same, because he made use of several Vais:n:ava names to
flowers on the spot and erected a cenotaph over it; the Hin-
speak of God. Actually, Kab¯ır’s notion of God seems to go
dus cremated their share and later built a sama¯dhi (memorial
beyond the notion of a personal god, despite the fact that he
tomb) over it, although most sectarian devotees of Kab¯ır be-
may call on Ra¯m or Khuda¯. If he often mentions Hari, Ra¯m,
lieve the flowers were cremated at the important Kab¯ır
or the “name of Ra¯m,” the context most often suggests that
Chaura¯ Mat:h in Banaras itself. In later times, Kab¯ır’s fame
these are just names for the all-pervading Reality—a reality
continued to grow among Hindus. In an attempt to “Hind-
beyond words, “beyond the beyond,” that is frequently iden-
uize” the saint, devotees told of his having been born miracu-
tified with ´su¯nya (“the void”) or the ineffable state that he
lously of a brahman virgin widow; she committed the child
calls sahaj. In the same way, though Kab¯ır often speaks of
to the Ganges, but he was saved and reared by Jula¯ha¯s.
the satguru (the “perfect guru”) it is clear that he is not allud-
ing to Ra¯ma¯nand, his putative guru, nor to any human guru.
There is no fully authoritative version of the Kab¯ırva¯n:¯ıs,
For Kab¯ır, the satguru is the One who speaks within the soul
the “words of Kab¯ır.” The poet was probably illiterate, and
itself. Although he often borrows the language of Tantric
it is certain that he himself never committed anything to
yoga and its paradoxical style to suggest the “ineffable word,”
writing. His utterances took the form of the popular couplets
Kab¯ır held all yogic exercises to be absurd contortions and
known as doha¯s, or the equally popular form of short songs
the yogis’ pretention to immortality as utter nonsense.
(padas) set to a refrain. His language was a nondescript form
Kab¯ır’s view of the world is a tragic one. Life is but a
of Old Hindi, which may have served as a sort of lingua fran-
fleeting moment between two deaths in the world of trans-
ca for the wandering holy men of his time. So great was his
migration. Family ties are insignificant and rest on self-
eloquence, however, that his “words” spread like fire over a
interest. Woman is “a pit of hell.” Death encompasses all:
large area of Hindustan, at least from Bihar in the east to the
Living beings are compared to “the parched grain of Death,
Panjab and Rajasthan in the west. Immensely popular, the
some in his mouth, the rest in his lap.” There is no hope,
Kab¯ırva¯n:¯ıs were largely imitated and interpolated even be-
no escape for man but in his own innermost heart. Man must
fore they could be written down. The oldest dated written
search within himself, get rid of pride and egoism, dive with-
record is found in the Guru Granth of the Sikhs, compiled
in for the “diamond” that is hidden within his own soul.
by Guru Arjun in the Panjab around 1604. In the Granth,
Then only may the mysterious, ineffable stage be achieved
Kab¯ır’s utterances are recorded as the words of the foremost
within the body itself—a mystery that Kab¯ır suggests in
among the bhagats (devotees or saints) who were the pre-
terms of fusion:
decessors of Guru Na¯nak, the founder of the Sikh Panth
(“path” or “way”). Two more undated recensions of Kab¯ır’s
When I was, Hari was not.
“words” are known: one in Rajasthan, preserved in the
Now Hari is and I am no more.
Pa¯ñcava¯n:¯ıs compiled by the Da¯du¯panth¯ıs of Rajasthan
For one who has found the hidden “diamond,” for one who
(c. 1600) and known as Kab¯ır Grantha¯val¯ı, and the other,
has passed “the unreachable pass,” eternity is achieved. Mor-
known as the B¯ıjak, popularized, if not compiled, in Bihar
tal life seems to linger, though in truth nothing remains but
by putative disciples of Kab¯ır who called themselves
a fragile appearance. In Kab¯ır’s own words:
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The yogin who was there has disappeared:
his marriage at the age of seventeen (which was normal for
Ashes alone keep the posture.
his circle), he moved to Radun, the hometown of his wife.
In its rugged, terse, fulgurant brilliance, Kab¯ır’s style is
At first he devoted himself to study while being supported
unique. His striking metaphors and powerful rhythms cap-
by his wife, who ran a grocery store. For a short time after-
ture the heart of the listener. His scathing attacks on brah-
ward he served as the town rabbi, but he left the position
mans and the “holy men” of his time have never been forgot-
when he found himself unsuited for it.
ten by the downtrodden people of India. Probably no greater
At the age of twenty-six, Kagan took a position as a Tal-
voice had been heard on Indian soil since the time of the
mud teacher in Minsk, and in 1869 he returned to Radun
Buddha, whom Kab¯ır resembles in more ways than one. His
and opened a yeshivah there. A few years later he published
pessimistic view of worldly life, his contempt for holy books
his first book, H:afets h:ayyim (Seeker of life), the title of which
and human gurus, his insistent call to inwardness have not
is the epithet by which he became best known. It is an im-
been forgotten. His own brand of mysticism may appear
pressive work on the seriousness of the sins of gossip and tale-
godless if one takes “God” as a divine personality. In one
bearing as violations of Jewish law. His concern with morali-
sense, Kab¯ır is not only an iconoclast, he may even be called
ty attracted many students to him and gave him a position
irreligious—and yet he appears as a master of the “interior
of leadership in the developing Jewish Orthodoxy of eastern
His messianic beliefs led Kagan to set up a program in
SEE ALSO Adi Granth; Hindi Religious Traditions; Poetry,
his yeshivah in which students descended from the priestly
article on Indian Religious Poetry.
clan studied intensively the laws of the Temple so that they
would be prepared upon its rebuilding. He also published a
compilation of laws and texts dealing with the Temple ser-
For the Kab¯ır Grantha¯val¯ı, see the editions prepared by Shyam
vice. At the end of the century he began to publish a com-
Sundar Das (Banaras, 1928); by Mata Prasad Gupta (Allah-
mentary on the parts of the Shulh:an Earukh (a standard code
abad, 1969), which includes a modern Hindi paraphrase;
of Jewish law) that deal with rituals, ceremonies, and holi-
and by Parasnath Tiwari (Allahabad, 1965), which is a criti-
days. This commentary, known as the Mishnah berurah
cal edition. The Kab¯ır B¯ıjak has been edited a number of
(Clear teaching), incorporated the views of the later legal de-
times. The standard edition is by S. Shastri and M. Prasad
cisors and became the authoritative commentary.
(Barabanki, 1950), and has been partially translated into En-
glish by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh as The Bijak of Kab¯ır
After spending the years of World War I in Russia,
(San Francisco, 1983). Kab¯ır’s words in the Guru Granth
Kagan returned in 1921 to newly independent Poland,
have been collected and edited by S. K. Varma in Sant Kab¯ır
where he reestablished his yeshivah. In his later years he was
(Allahabad, 1947); this edition includes a paraphrase in
active in Agudat YisraDel (the world Orthodox organization),
modern Hindi.
and during the interwar period he was probably the most in-
For a translation of Kab¯ır’s doha¯s in the Western recensions, see
fluential rabbi in Poland. His influence was due not so much
my Kab¯ır (Oxford, 1974) and my Kab¯ır-va¯ni; The Words of
to his intellect as to his absolute honesty, his modesty, and
Kab¯ır in the Western Tradition (Pondicherry, 1983). See also
his energy.
my “Kab¯ır and the Interior Religion,” History of Religions 3
SEE ALSO Musar Movement.
New Sources
Mehta, Rohit. J. Krishnamurti and Sant Kabir: A Study in Depth.
The first full-scale biography, which still has value and charm,
Delhi, 1990.
though it is clearly hagiographical, is Moses M. Yoshor’s
A Touch of Grace: Songs of Kabir. Translated by Linda Hess and
Saint and Sage (New York, 1937). A more recent treatment,
Shukdev Singh. Boston, 1994.
with an academic apparatus, though still somewhat hagio-
graphical, is Lester S. Eckman’s Revered by All (New York,
Revised Bibliography
1974). At least one of Kagan’s works has been translated into
English: see Leonard Oschry’s translation Ahavath Chesed:
The Love of Kindness as Required by G-D,
2d rev. ed. (New
York, 1976).
KAGAN, YISRADEL MEDIR (c. 1838–1933), also
New Sources
known as H:afets H:ayyim, was a rabbi, ethical writer, and
Fishbane, Simcha. The Method and Meaning of the Mishnah
Talmudist. Born in Zhetel, Poland, YisraDel MeDir Kagan (or
Berurah. Hoboken, N.J., 1991.
ha-Kohen) revealed his scholarly abilities at an early age, and
his father decided to devote his life to developing the talents
Revised Bibliography
of his son. He took the ten-year-old YisraDel to Vilna; there
the boy studied Talmud and came under the influence of the
Musar movement, which sought the revitalization of the eth-
KAGAWA TOYOHIKO (1888–1960) was a Japanese
ical life within the framework of traditional Judaism. After
Christian novelist, social worker, statesman, and evangelist.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

He alerted a whole generation of Japanese to the need for a
used royalties from the sixteen printings of Shisen o koete to
practical expression of Christian ethics and symbolized to
help start the Japanese labor movement. He led and assisted
non-Japanese the power of faith in action.
groups that worked to alleviate various social wrongs and
thereby gained the respect of many individuals who other-
Both of Kagawa’s parents died before the boy entered
wise had little interest in Christianity. He had the highest
school. As a middle-school student he was befriended by
profile among Japanese Christian leaders. In contrast to most
American missionaries who converted him to Christianity
of them, Kagawa also showed respect to foreign missionaries,
and treated him like a son. Extremely gifted mentally but
a number of whom translated his writings for publication in
weak physically, he spent four months in the hospital and
their homelands and arranged speaking tours for him. With
then nine months alone in a hut recuperating shortly after
more than a dozen titles in English, he remains one of the
he had entered a theological seminary. His close encounter
most translated Japanese writers. During the thirties his mes-
with death became the basis of his later novel Shisen o koete
sage of faithful economic improvement brought hope to
(translated as both Across the Death Line and Before the
North American communities whose self-confidence had
Dawn). For the rest of his life, glaucoma and tuberculosis
been severely eroded by the Great Depression. His name,
threatened his many activities.
along with those of other world figures such as Mahatma
Back in the seminary, Kagawa concurrently started so-
Gandhi and Jiang Gaishek, became a household word as an
cial work in the Kobe slums. After ordination into the Japa-
example of the fruits of Christian mission.
nese Presbyterian church and marriage, he traveled to the
Events near the end of World War II tarnished Kaga-
United States to study at Princeton University and Princeton
wa’s saintly image. He broadcast over the Japanese national
Theological Seminary. This experience abroad began a pat-
radio network, invoking Lincoln’s second inaugural address
tern that developed into frequent lecture trips to many parts
(1865) as he urged American troops to lay down their arms.
of the world. To the West he brought a message of hope
Other Japanese, themselves concerned with war responsibili-
based on his experience; in Japan he threw himself into social
ty, felt that this cooperation with the government, however
reform. He supported his slum work by royalties from his
well intentioned, had compromised Kagawa’s pacifism. Yet
writing. He also organized both urban workers and farmers
only four decades later his countrymen began to reassess his
to improve their livelihoods.
true worth. More than any other Japanese Christian of his
In the late 1920s Kagawa moved to Tokyo, which be-
generation, Kagawa tried to implement the Christian gospel
came his headquarters. There he helped found consumer co-
in everyday life and formed a bond with Christians through-
operatives and led pacifist movements. On a 1941 trip to the
out the world.
United States, he vigorously opposed militarism. Back in
Japan, police incarcerated him several times; his foreign
friends made him suspect. Then, when World War II ended,
The works of Kagawa Toyohiko are collected in Kagawa Toyohiko
he was made a member of the cabinet formed to proffer
zenshu, 24 vols. (Tokyo, 1962–1964), which forms the basis
Japan’s surrender. In the liberal postwar climate after 1945,
for all further studies. Kagawa Toyohiko den (Tokyo, 1959),
Kagawa helped form the Socialist party and worked to return
by Haruichi Yokoyama, is considered the standard biogra-
Japan to the world community under the United Nations.
phy. Charley May Simon’s A Seed Shall Serve: The Story of
Toyohiko Kagawa, Spiritual Leader of Modern Japan
In 1955 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Until
York, 1958) presents a summary Western view of the man
his death, he served as the pastor of a Tokyo congregation.
and his work. George Bikle, Jr.’s The New Jerusalem: Aspects
Kagawa’s thought reflected the accomplishments born
of Utopianism in the Thought of Kagawa Toyohiko (Tucson,
of his great energy. Quick to analyze a problem, he would
1976) deals with Kagawa’s ideas. Yuzo Ota’s “Kagawa Toyo-
hiko: A Pacifist?” in Pacifism in Japan: The Christian and So-
form an organization to remedy it, assign it to trusted asso-
cialist Tradition, edited by Nobuya Bamba and me (Kyoto,
ciates, and move on, giving his friends the sense that he con-
1978), discusses the quite differing attitudes in Japan and
sidered the problem solved. Those who questioned problems
abroad toward Kagawa’s work.
more deeply found his expression of faith facile. Neverthe-
less, they could not disagree with his postmillenarian convic-
JOHN F. HOWES (1987)
tion that work in service of the Social Gospel would help re-
alize his aims. His writings all reflected this combination of
faith and the need for hard work. The novel Mugi no hitotsu-
KAIBARA EKKEN (1630–1714) was a Japanese Neo-
bo (A grain of wheat) showed how an individual could
Confucian scholar. Ekken was born in Fukuoka on the island
change the moral climate of a whole village through his dedi-
of Kyushu in southern Japan. Although he was the son of
cation to reform. Kagawa’s nonfiction works included analy-
a samurai family, he had early contacts with townspeople and
ses of economics that showed how cooperation serves the in-
farmers of the province. This no doubt influenced his later
terests of the community better than competition.
decision to write in simplified Japanese in order to make
Kagawa’s tireless writing and other activities drew atten-
Confucian teachings available to a wide audience. His father
tion to the very practical aspects of the Christian gospel. He
taught him medicine and nutrition, awakening a lifelong in-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

terest in matters of health that would culminate in the com-
SEE ALSO Confucianism in Japan.
position of his well-known book Yo¯jo¯kun (Precepts for
Health Care), completed in 1713. It was his older brother
Sonzai, however, who urged Ekken to abandon his early in-
Kaibara Ekken’s works are collected in Ekken zenshu, 8 vols.
terest in Buddhism and to immerse himself in the Confucian
(Tokyo, 1910–1911) and Kaibara Ekken, Muro Kyu¯so¯,
classics. Under Sonzai’s tutelage, Ekken became well versed
“Nihon shiso taikei,” vol. 34, edited by Araki Kengo and
in the classics and in the Neo-Confucian writings of Zhu Xi.
Inoue Tadashi (Tokyo, 1970). Works on Ekken include
During a seven-year stay in Kyoto under the patronage of the
Inoue Tadashi’s Kaibara Ekken (Tokyo, 1963); Kaibara
Nihon no meicho, vol. 14, edited by Matsuda Michio
lord of the Kuroda domain, he came into contact with the
(Tokyo, 1969).
leading Confucian scholars of his time, including Nakamura
Tekisai, Kinoshita Jun’an, the botanist Mukai Gensho, and
the agronomist Miyazaki Yasusada. These contacts contin-
ued throughout his life by virtue of Ekken’s numerous trips
to Kyoto and Edo. Ekken’s tasks as a Confucian scholar in-
KALA¯BA¯DH¯I, AL- (d. AH 380/5, 990/5 CE), more fully
cluded lecturing to the lord of the Kuroda domain and tutor-
Abu¯ Bakr Muh:ammad ibn Ish:a¯q ibn Ibra¯h¯ım al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı;
ing his heir. In addition, he was commissioned to produce
was the author of a famous treatise on early Sufism. As his
lineage of the Kuroda family that required some sixteen years
name indicates, he was a native of the Kala¯ba¯dh district of
of research and writing. He also recorded the topography of
Bukhara. Details of his biography are lacking, but he is stated
Chikuzen Province, in a work that is still considered a model
to have been a pupil of the S:u¯f¯ı Abu¯ al-H:usayn al-Fa¯ris¯ı and
of its kind. Ekken’s other major research project, entitled Ya-
a H:anaf¯ı jurist with pro-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı views who studied juris-
mato honzo¯, consisted of a classification and description of
prudence (fiqh) under Muh:ammad ibn Fad:l.
the various types of plants in Japan. It has been praised by
Japanese and Western scholars alike as a seminal work in the
Of the works attributed to al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı, two are extant.
history of botany in Japan.
The Ma Ea¯n¯ı al-akhba¯r, also known as Bah:r al-fawa¯Did and
by other titles, was compiled in 985 and remains as yet un-
Ekken’s enduring interest, however, was the populariza-
published. It consists of a brief ethical commentary, S:u¯f¯ı in
tion of Confucian ethics and methods of self-cultivation for
coloring, on 222 selected traditions of the Prophet and in-
a wide audience. Accordingly, he wrote a number of kun-
cludes parallel passages cited in al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı’s principal
mono, instructional treatises for various groups such as the
work, the Kita¯b al-ta Earruf li-madhhab ahl al-tas:awwuf. This
samurai, the lord, the family, women, and children. His
masterpiece has been edited several times, most reliably by
work Onna Daigaku (Learning for Women) is especially well
A. J. Arberry (Cairo, 1933), who also translated it into En-
known. In addition, he wrote on methods of study, on litera-
glish with a detailed introduction as The Doctrine of the Sufis.
ture, on writing, on precepts for daily life, and on the five
The work is a principal source for the development of
Confucian virtues. Although a devoted follower of Zhu Xi,
early Sufism (second/eighth to fourth/tenth centuries). It is
toward the end of his life he wrote Taigiroku, a work that
divided into seventy-five chapters that fall into two parts. Be-
records his “great doubts” about Zhu’s dualism of Principle
ginning with a sketchy introductory survey of important
(li) and material force (qi). Ekken’s ideas were influenced by
early S:u¯f¯ıs, the first part sets out the tenets of Islam as accept-
the thought of the Ming scholar Luo Qinshun (1416–1547),
ed by the S:u¯f¯ıs; these can be traced back to the articles of
who had articulated a monistic theory of qi. Ekken felt that
faith elaborated in the creed known as Al-fiqh al-akbar II
the dynamic quality of Confucianism had been lost by cer-
(The Greater Understanding II), which, it seems,
tain Song and Ming thinkers, and he hoped through the
al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı quotes directly. The second part discusses the
monist theory of qi to reformulate a naturalism and vitalism
ascetic endeavors, spiritual experiences, technical terms, and
that he, like Luo, viewed as essential to Confucian thought.
miraculous phenomena of the S:u¯f¯ıs, based on their sayings
Consequently, Ekken was concerned to articulate the vital
and verses.
impulse of the material force that suffused all reality. His
thought can thus be described as a naturalist religiosity root-
Throughout the work it is al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı’s stated purpose
ed in profound reverence and gratitude toward Heaven as the
to stave off the decay of Sufism and to prove that Sufism lies
source of life and earth as the sustainer of life. He felt that
within the boundaries of Islamic orthodoxy. As a primary
by recognizing one’s debt to these “great parents,” human
source for the history of early Sufism, al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı’s
beings activated a cosmic filiality toward all living things.
Ta Earruf may rank with the works of al-Sarra¯j (d. 988), Abu¯
This idea of filiality implied that one should preserve nature,
T:a¯lib al-Makk¯ı (d. 996), and al-Sulam¯ı (d. 1021).
not destroy it. The highest form of filiality was humaneness
The Ta Earruf reflects the S:u¯f¯ı tradition that became
(jin), through which humans formed an identity with all
current in Transoxiana during Samanid times. It soon
things. Ekken, then, was a reformed Zhu Xi scholar whose
achieved the status of an authoritative treatise on Sufism, and
broad interests, voluminous writings, and naturalist religiosi-
commentaries were written on it. The most important of
ty mark a high point in Japanese Neo-Confucian thought.
these is the Persian Nu¯r al-mur¯ıdin wa-fa-z¯ıhat al-mudda D¯ın,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

also known as Sharh:-i Ta Earruf (Commentary on the
of these are S´a¯khya and Jainism. Likewise, a number of non-
Ta Earruf), of Abu¯ Ibra¯h¯ım Isma¯E¯ıl ibn Muh:ammad ibn EAbd
Buddhist Indian deities encountered in Hindu tantric sys-
Alla¯h al-Mustaml¯ı (d. 1042), a S:u¯f¯ı of Bukhara. The work
tems have a place in the Ka¯lacakra pantheon. Although the
is the oldest surviving S:u¯f¯ı treatise in Persian prose and is ex-
Ka¯lacakra Tantra shares some general characteristics with
tant in several manuscripts, one of them copied in 1081. The
other Unexcelled Yoga Tantras in terms of tantric yogic prac-
value of this voluminous source for the development of Su-
tice, it differs from others in its goal of the attainment of the
fism in Transoxiana lies in its copious comments on each
empty form (´su¯nyata¯-bimba) that is devoid of matter, and
S:u¯f¯ı statement quoted in the Ta Earruf, and in the fact that
in the path to that goal, namely, the Ka¯lacakra Tantra’s six-
it was compiled with apparently no motive other than the
phased yoga.
instruction of S:u¯f¯ı disciples. From the point of view of the
Another unique feature of the Ka¯lacakra tradition is its
Persian language, the work gives testimony to dialectal forms
close affiliation with the mythical land of S´ambhala and its
of tenth-century Persian, with an extraordinarily frequent
kings, not only in terms of its history but also in its future
occurrence of Arabic words.
role in Buddhism. It prophesizes an apocalyptic battle be-
The commentary on the Ta Earruf ascribed to EAbd
tween Raudra Cakri, the King of S´ambhala, and the malevo-
Alla¯h ibn Muh:ammad al-Ans:a¯r¯ı (d. 1089) appears to be lost,
lent King of the barbarians, whom Raudra Cakri will defeat.
while the H:usn Al-ta Earruf, an Arabic commentary on the
The calculations pertaining to the time of the battle are con-
work written by the Sha¯fiE¯ı judge EAla¯D al-D¯ın EAl¯ı ibn
tained in Ka¯lacakra’s elaborate astrological system.
Isma¯E¯ıl al-Qu¯naw¯ı (d. 1327 or 1329), is extant in manu-
Regarding the individual, the term ka¯lacakra signifies
script. There is also an anonymous Arabic commentary that
the circulation of vital energies (pra¯n:a) within the circular
is erroneously ascribed to Yah:ya¯ Suhraward¯ı (d. 1191), who
passages in the body; in terms of the cosmos, it designates
nonetheless summed up the importance of the Ta Earruf in
the passing of days, months, and years in the cycle of time.
the watchword: “But for the Ta Earruf we should not have
Regarding the ultimate reality, the term ka¯lacakra refers to
known of Sufism.”
the nonduality of the two facets of enlightened awareness-
emptiness (´su¯nyata¯) and compassion (karun:), or wisdom
(prajña¯) and method (upa¯ya). It further denotes the unity of
Anawati, Georges C., and Louis Gardet. Mystique musulmane. 3d
the Buddha’s mind, or the supreme, indestructible knowl-
ed. Paris, 1976.
edge, and his body, or a phenomenal world, which is the ob-
Arberry, A. J. The Doctrine of the Sufis. Cambridge, 1935.
ject of that knowledge. Ka¯lacakra’s consort is Vi´svama¯ta¯
Lazard, Gilbert. La langue des plus anciens monuments de la prose
(Tib., Sna tshogs yum; Mong., Visiyamada), who is the per-
persane. Paris, 1963. See pages 67–71.
sonified perfection of wisdom.
Nwyia, Paul. “Al-Kala¯ba¯dh¯ı.” In The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new
ed., vol. 4. Leiden, 1978.
of the Ka¯lacakra tradition in India is abstruse, since the earli-
est holders of the tradition remain shrouded by pseudonyms.
The most prominent early masters of the Ka¯lacakra tradition
in India were Pin:d:o, D¯ıpam:kara´sr¯ıjña¯na (also known as
At¯ı´sa), Na¯ro, S´r¯ıbhadrabodhi, Somana¯tha, Anupamaraks:ita,
KA¯LACAKRA (“Wheel of Time”; Tib., dus kyi ’khor lo;
Abhaya¯ka¯ragupta, Ravi´sr¯ıjña¯na, S´akya´sr¯ıbhadra, and
Mong., ˇcay-un kürdü) is the Sanskrit name for the principal
Vibhu¯ticandra. An important reference for establishing the
male deity and personification of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra, an
period of the propagation of the Ka¯lacakra tradition in India
Indian Buddhist esoteric treatise belonging to the class of un-
is found in the Ka¯lacakra Tantra (chap. 1, v. 27) and in the
excelled yoga-tantras (anuttarayoga-tantra). In this Tantric
Vimalaprabha¯ (Stainless light) commentary. These two
tradition, the deity Ka¯lacakra represents spiritual knowledge
sources mention the end of the sexagenary cycle that comes
(vidya¯) and the state of immutable bliss, which is attainable
403 years after the Hijir¯ı era of 623 CE as the earliest period
only through the yogic practices that are specific to the
in which the Ka¯lacakra Tantra was promulgated in India.
Ka¯lacakra tradition. Ka¯lacakra is a single, unified reality,
Thus, the year 1026 CE, which was the last year of the reign
which is given different names in the Ka¯lacakra tradition:
of King Mah¯ıpa¯la of Bengal, a great supporter of Buddhism
A¯dibuddha (Primordial Buddha), sahajaka¯ya (innate body),
in India, is established as the year of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra’s
jña¯naka¯ya (gnosis body), vi´suddhaka¯ya (pure body), vajrayo-
ga (indestructible union), and the like. This nondual reality
According to the legendary accounts of the Ka¯lacakra
has two main aspects: the phenomenal world of multiplicity
tradition, the existing version of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra is said
(sam:sa¯ra) and the unitary ultimate reality (nirva¯n:a).
to be an abridged version of a larger original Tantra called
The Ka¯lacakra tradition is the latest Buddhist tantric
the Parama¯dibuddha Tantra (Tantra of the primordial Bud-
system to appear in India. While retaining its distinctive
dha), which reportedly consisted of twelve thousand verses.
Buddhist tradition, the Ka¯lacakra tradition integrates a vari-
According to the Vimalaprabha¯ (chap. 1), the extant version
ety of non-Buddhist Indian elements. The most prominent
of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra was taught by Buddha S´a¯kyamuni
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to Sucandra, the king of S´ambhala, and an emanation of Bo-
shes rab rgyal mtshan (Dölbupa sherap gyaltsan; 1292–
dhisattva Vajrapa¯n:i in the Dha¯n:yakat:aka stupa, situated in
1361) of the Jonang school. It was later transmitted by
the vicinity of the present-day village of Amara¯vat¯ı in An-
Ta¯ra¯na¯tha (1575–1643), through whom it reached the
dhra Pradesh. Having returned to S´ambhala, King Sucandra
Zhang pa Bka’ brgyud (Zhangpa Kagyu) school.
wrote it down and disseminated it throughout his kingdom.
An important figure in bringing together the Rwa and
Sucandra’s six successors continued to maintain the
’Bro lineages was Bu ston rin chen grub (Butön rinchendrub,
Ka¯lacakra tradition, and the eighth king of S´ambhala,
1290–1364). His disciple transmitted both traditions to Rje
Mañju´sr¯ı Ya´sas, composed the abridged version, known as
Tsong kha pa (1357–1419), the founder of the Dge lugs
the Laghuka¯lacakratantrara¯ja (Sovereign abridged Ka¯lacakra
(Geluk) pa school, who in turn transmitted it to his disciple
Tantra). Existent Sanskrit variants of the abridged version
Mkhas grub Dge legs dpal bzang (1385–1438).
are written in the ´sradghara¯ meter (four lines of twenty-one
A later tradition called Tsami was established by Tsa mi
syllables each) and contain between 1,030 and 1,037 verses.
sangs rgyas grags pa (Tsami sangye drakpa) and Siddha Or-
The tradition holds that Mañju´sr¯ı Ya´sas’s successor
gyen pa, who passed it on to the third Karma pa Rang byung
Pun:d:ar¯ıka, an emanation of the Bodhisattva Avalokite´svara,
rdo rje (Rangjung Dorje, 1284–1339). Gyi jo zla ba’i ’od zer
composed the Vimalaprabha¯, an extensive 12,000-line com-
(Gyijo dawei özer), who was the first to translate Ka¯lacakra
mentary on the Ka¯lacakra Tantra.
texts into Tibetan under the guidance of Indian pan:d:ita
S´r¯ıbhadrabodhi in 1026 CE, established the earliest
Tibetan sources on the history of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra
Ka¯lacakra lineage in Tibet. His lineage was passed on to
differ in their accounts of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra’s history in
’Brom lo tsa ba padma ’od zer (Drom lotsawa padma özer),
India. According to the Tibetan Rwa tradition, Indian Bud-
and it reached the Jonang pa school through Jonang Kun
dhist master Cilupa¯ of Orissa, after studying the Ka¯lacakra
spang thugs brtson ’grus (Jonang Künpang tuk tsöndrü)
Tantra in Ratnagiri in the second half of the tenth century,
(1243–1313), the founder of Jonang monastery.
set out on a journey to S´ambhala to receive further teachings
Among the Tibetan scholars who produced an extensive
on the text. Having returned to India in 966 CE, Cilupa¯
amount of commentarial literature on the Ka¯lacakra Tantra,
taught the Ka¯lacakra Tantra to his three disciples and wrote
Rgyal tshab dar ma rin chen (Gyaltsap darma rinchen; 1364–
a commentary on it. His most important disciple, Pin:d:o
1432), Stag tshang lo tsa ba (Taktsang lot sawa), and ’Ju Mi
A¯ca¯rya, later taught the Tantra to Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the Senior,
pham rgya mtsho (Ju mipan gyatso; 1846–1912) are also
from Bengal, who in turn passed on the tradition to his disci-
worthy of mention.
ples, among whom the most important is Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the
Junior. To facilitate the propagation of the Ka¯lacakra tradi-
tion in all of the regions of India, Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the Junior
tra is divided into five chapters, which are categorized by the
built a Ka¯lacakra temple at Na¯landa¯ in the present-day state
Tibetan tradition into three main divisions—the Outer,
of Bihar, where he taught the Ka¯lacakra Tantra and where-
Inner, and Alternative Ka¯lacakra.
from the Ka¯lacakra tradition widely spread. A disciple of
1. The Inner Ka¯lacakra (chap. 1: “The Cosmos”) deals
Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the Junior by the name of Mañjuk¯ırti passed
with cosmology, astrology, chronology, and eschatology. It
on the tradition to the Newari pan:d:ita Samanta´sribhadra,
describes in detail the nature of time and the elementary par-
who in the later part of the eleventh century assisted the Ti-
ticles of the cosmos, along with the origination, configura-
betan translator Rwa lo tsa ba rdo rje grags pa (Ra lotsawa
tion, measurements, and dissolution of the cosmos and its
dorje drak pa) in translating the Ka¯lacakra Tantra and
constituents. It interprets the cosmos as a four-tiered
Vimalaprabha¯ into Tibetan. This translation marked the be-
man:d:ala and as the cosmic body of the Buddha.
ginning of the Ka¯lacakra Rwa lineage in Tibet, which be-
2. The Outer Ka¯lacakra (chap. 2: “The Individual”)
came influential in the Sa skya (S´a¯kya) school of Tibetan
deals with human embryology and subtle psychophysiology,
astro-medicine, medical botany, yogic and ritual therapies,
and alchemy. It discusses the formation, functions, and dis-
According to the Tibetan ’Bro tradition, the Ka¯lacakra
integration of the human body, speech, and mind. It inter-
Tantra was brought to India during the reign of Kalk¯ı
prets the individual as a microcosmic representation of the
S´r¯ıpa¯la in S´ambhala. He gave
a transmission to
cosmic man:d:ala, as a cycle of time, and as an abode of the
Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the Senior, from whom the Ka¯lacakra tradi-
four bodies of the Buddha (sahajaka¯ya, dharmaka¯ya,
tion was successively transmitted through Ka¯lacakrapa¯da the
sam:bhogaka¯ya, and nirma¯n:aka¯ya).
Junior to the Ka¯´smiri pan:d:ita Soma¯na¯tha. In the early elev-
enth century, Soma¯na¯tha assisted Tibetan translator ’Bro
3. The Alternative Ka¯lacakra (chaps. 3–5: “Initiation,”
shes rab grags (Dro sherap drak) in translating the Ka¯lacakra
“Sa¯dhana,” and “Gnosis”) deals with the practice of
literature into Tibetan. This initiated the Ka¯lacakra ’Bro lin-
Ka¯lacakra, which is generally divided into three main
eage in Tibet, which was passed on to Bsgom pa dkon mchog
stages—initiation (abhis:eka), the stage of generation (utpat-
gsum (Gompa Könchok sum) of the Bka’ gdams (Kadam)
tikrama), and the stage of completion (sam:pannakrama).
pa school, subsequently to the eighth Karma pa, Mi bskyod
Ka¯lacakra initiation involves the initiate’s entrance into
rdo rje (Mikyo Dorje, 1507–1554), and then to Dol bu pa
the Ka¯lacakra man:d:ala, purification and empowerment by
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the deities in the man:d:ala, a series of meditations and recita-
Since the 1980s, the Ka¯lacakra tantric system has been
tions of mantras, and the taking of Tantric vows and pledges.
gaining popularity in Europe and the United States, in part
The stage of initiation consists of eleven successive initia-
because the Dalai Lama has offered initiations each year in
tions. The first seven initiations are the water, crown, crown
Western countries in the belief that the time of S´ambhala is
pendant, vajra and bell, conduct, name, and permission ini-
approaching and in order to generate a karmic connection
tiations; the four higher initiations are the vase, secret, wis-
for Buddhist practitioners to S´ambhala.
dom, and gnosis. The successive initiations are analogous to
the individual’s progression on the Buddhist path from a
layperson to a buddha.
Broido, Michael M. “Killing, Lying, Stealing, and Adultery: A
Problem of Interpretation in the Tantras.” In Buddhist Her-
The stage of generation involves the practice of concep-
meneutics, edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., pp. 71–118. Hono-
tual meditation in which one mentally creates the Ka¯lacakra
lulu, 1988. Addresses a hermeneutical problem in Buddhist
man:d:ala with its various deities and imagines oneself as the
Tantric literature by concentrating on specific passages from
Ka¯lacakra deity standing in the center of the man:d:ala, hold-
the Ka¯lacakra literature and on the variety of interpretations
ing the vajra and bell, and embracing Vi´svama¯ta¯. The
given to them in different sources.
man:d:ala represents a sublimated cosmos and a mother’s
Gen Lamrimpa. Transcending Time: An Explanation of the
body insofar as the mental creation of the man:d:ala and its
Ka¯lacakra Six-Session Guru Yoga. Translated by B. Alan Wal-
deities is analogous to the individual’s conception, develop-
lace. Boston, 1999. Discusses in detail the three areas of the
ment in the mother’s womb, and birth. The deities in the
Ka¯lacakra practice—preliminary practices, six-session guru
man:d:ala represent the purified aspects of the Buddha’s four
yoga, and the stage of completion—as they are interpreted
by the Tibetan Dge lugs pa tradition.
bodies, or the sublimated aspects of the individual’s gnosis,
mind, speech, and body. The man:d:ala embodies the
Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Roger Jackson, and John Newman, eds.
Ka¯lacakra mantra: om: ham: ks:a ma la ca ra ya sva¯ha¯. The stage
The Wheel of Time: The Kalachakra in Context. Madison,
Wis., 1985. Contains five articles by different authors giving
of generation also involves certain sexual yogic practices with
a brief summary of the broader context of the Ka¯lacakra Tan-
either an actual consort or an imagined consort. The goal of
tra and its history and practice.
this stage of practice is the accumulation of merit and further
Gyatso, Tenzin (Dalai Lama XIV), and Jeffrey Hopkins.
purification through the transformation of the individual’s
Kalachakra Tantra: Rite and Initiation. London, 1989. This
conception of the world.
volume consists of the three main parts: (1) a general intro-
The stage of completion involves meditation on the
duction to the Ka¯lacakra rite of initiation and its preliminary
form of emptiness (´su¯nyata¯-bimba) by means of the practice
practices; (2) an English translation of Kay drup ge lek bel
sang bo’s text, Ka¯lacakra Initiation Rite: Stage of Generation,
of the six-phased yoga (s:ad:-an˙gayoga). This six-phased yoga
with the Dalai Lama’s commentary; and (3) a translation of
of Ka¯lacakra consists of the following phases: retraction
the Dalai Lama’s composition on the three versions of the
(pratya¯ha¯ra), meditative stabilization (dhya¯na), breath
six-session yoga.
control (pra¯n:a¯ya¯ma), retention (dha¯ran:), recollection
Harrington, Laura, ed. Kalachakra. 2d ed. Rome, 1999. A pictori-
(anusmr:ti), and sama¯dhi. The sama¯dhi phase is characterized
al guide with explanatory notes to the Ka¯lacakra man:d:ala
by the generation of 21,600 moments of the immutable bliss,
and its deities.
which, coursing through the six bodily chakras, eliminate the
Newman, John. “The Outer Wheel of Time: Vajraya¯na Buddhist
material aspects of the four drops in the individual’s body
Cosmology in the Ka¯lacakra Tantra.” Ph.D. diss., University
and facilitate their manifestation as the four bodies of the
of Wisconsin, Madison, 1987. This dissertation concentrates
Buddha. Thus, 21,600 moments of bliss transform the mate-
primarily on the analysis of the first chapter of the Ka¯lackra
rial and perishable nature of the individual’s body and mind
Tantra. It contains a translation of several cosmological and
into the empty form and the gnosis of imperishable bliss,
eschatological passages of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra and the
called Ka¯lacakra.
Vimalaprabha¯; in footnotes, it gives useful interpretations
from several Tibetan commentaries on those passages.
ICONOGRAPHY OF KA¯LACAKRA. In Buddhist iconography,
Newman, John. “The Parama¯dibuddha (The Ka¯lacakra-
Ka¯lacakra is depicted as standing on a lotus, which is on the
mu¯la-tantra) and Its Relation to the Early Ka¯lacakra Litera-
disks of the sun, moon, and Ra¯hu, with the right knee ad-
ture.” Indo-Iranian Journal 30 (1987): 93–102.
vanced and the left leg retracted (the a¯l¯ıd:ha posture), crush-
Newman, John. “Buddhist Siddha¯nta in the Ka¯lacakra Tantra.
ing Ka¯madeva and Rudra with his two feet. He has a dark
Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 36 (1992):
blue body, symbolizing day and night; three throats, each of
227–234. Analyzes philosophical statements found in the
which represent four zodiac signs; four faces, each of which
second chapter of the Ka¯lacakra Tantra from historical and
represent three zodiac signs; twelve shoulders, representing
philological perspectives.
the twelve months of the year; twenty-four arms holding var-
Newman, John. “Eschatology in the Wheel of Time Tantra.” In
ious weapons; and 360 joints of the hands, symbolizing 360
Buddhism in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., Prince-
days of the year. He is embraced by a yellow, twelve-eyed
ton, 1995. Includes brief introductory notes and a transla-
Vi´svama¯ta¯, standing with the left foot advanced and the right
tion of a short, eschatological passage from the first chapter
leg retracted (the pratya¯lid:ha posture).
of the Ka¯lacakrata Tantra.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Steams, Cyrus. The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and
those who deal with questions of physics. The Greek term
Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Alba-
theologoi is translated by as:h:a¯b al-kala¯m al-ila¯h¯ı or
ny, N.Y., 1999. Offers an insight into the Tibetan zhan stong
al-mutakallimu¯n f¯ı ila¯h¯ıya¯t (i.e., those who deal with the di-
view based on teachings in the Ka¯lacakra Tantra and unique
vine). Gradually, the term came to signify the specific, per-
teachings of Dolpopa, a great Ka¯lacakra master from the Ti-
fectly defined science that is the object of the present study.
betan Jonang tradition.
Wallace, Vesna A. “The Buddhist Tantric Medicine in the
In his renowned Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldu¯n gives the
Ka¯lacakratantra.Pacific Journal of the Institute of Buddhist
following definition of Eilm al-kala¯m: “The science of kala¯m
Studies, n.s. 10–11 (1995): 155–174. Discusses the concept
is a science that involves arguing with logical proofs in de-
of science in the Ka¯lacakra Tantra, the Ka¯lacakra Tantra’s
fense of the articles of faith and refuting innovators who de-
medical theories and practices, and their soteriological signif-
viate in their dogmas from the early Muslims and Muslim
orthodoxy. The real core (sirr) of the articles of faith is the
Wallace, Vesna A. The Inner Ka¯lacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric
oneness of God” (Cairo, n.d., p. 321; trans. Rosenthal, New
View of the Individual. New York, 2001. Analyses the
York, 1958, vol. 3, p. 34).
Ka¯lacakra tradition’s various interpretations of the individual
and the individual’s place in the universe. It discusses the in-
This role of defensive apologia and of apologetics attri-
dividual in terms of the Ka¯lacakra deity’s cosmic, social,
buted to the science of kala¯m has remained standard in
gnostic, and transformative bodies.
Islam. The modernist shaykh Muh:ammad EAbduh wrote that
the purpose of kala¯m was the “fixing of religious beliefs for
the aim of working to conserve and consolidate religion”
(Ris:a¯lat al-tawh:¯ıd, p. 5; trans., p. 5).
KALA¯M. In common usage kala¯m signifies speech, lan-
Al-¯Ij¯ı (d. 1356), commented on at length and intelli-
guage, sentence, proposition, words, but in the field of Mus-
gently by al-Jura¯jn¯ı (d. 1413), initially defines the function
lim religious thought it has two particular meanings: the
of kala¯m as seeking “to guarantee the proof (of the existence)
word of God (kala¯m Alla¯h) and the science of kala¯m ( Eilm
of the Creator and of his unicity” (Mawa¯qif, vol. 1, p. 26).
al-kala¯m), which may be understood as dogmatic theology
Later in the same work he explains that “kala¯m is the science
or more precisely the defensive apologetics of Islam. Apart
that bears the responsibility of solidly establishing religious
from a few preliminary remarks on kala¯m as the word of
beliefs by giving proofs and dispelling doubts” (pp. 34–35).
God, the present article is devoted to kala¯m in the latter
He goes on to state explicitly the purpose, the usefulness, the
degree of excellence, the questions treated, and the explana-
tion of the chosen term.
TYMOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS. Kala¯m Alla¯h is mentioned
several times in the QurDa¯n (for example, su¯rahs 2:75, 9:6,
Finally, to cite a nineteenth-century popular manual,
48:15). God spoke to the Prophets (2:253). He “spoke clear-
al-Ba¯ju¯r¯ı’s gloss on the Jawharat al-tawh:¯ıd, kala¯m or tawh:¯ıd
ly to Moses” (4:164, 7:143, and elsewhere). However, one
is defined as “the science that enables one to establish clearly
finds neither kala¯m nor mutakallim (speaking) in the list of
religious beliefs, based on definite proofs of these beliefs”
the most beautiful names of God (asma¯ D Alla¯h al-h:usna¯).
(H:a¯shiyah Eala¯ Jawharat al-tawh:¯ıd, p. 8). For al-Ba¯ju¯r¯ı this
Rather, it was the theologians who, on the basis of QurDanic
definition is the first of the ten “foundations” that converge
evidence, ascribed the attribute of kala¯m to God and desig-
to form each branch of knowledge. The second element is
nated the QurDa¯n as kala¯m Alla¯h. From this development
the subject: God, the envoys and the prophets, the contin-
arose the very controversial problem of the relationship of
gent being insofar as he serves to give existence to his Maker,
the QurDa¯n to the Word as a divine attribute. Here it may
and the sam E¯ıya¯t, or traditionally accepted truths. The third
be mentioned in passing that during the European Middle
element is its utility: the knowledge of God supported by de-
Ages, Thomas Aquinas described the mutakallimu¯n (whose
cisive proofs and the acquiring of “eternal happiness.” The
occasionalism and negation of causality he refuted) as “lo-
fourth is the degree of excellence, and the fifth, the relation-
quentes in lege maurorum” (“those who speak on behalf of
ship of this science to the other disciplines. The people of
kala¯m consider their science to be the most noble of all be-
As for the science of kala¯m, this term came to mean
cause of its subject and see it as the basis of all other fields
Muslim dogmatic theology. In his effort to determine the or-
of knowledge. The sixth element specifies the founders of the
igin of the usage, Harry A. Wolfson suggests that the word
science: for orthodox kala¯m, al-AshEar¯ı (d. 935) and
kala¯m was used to translate into Arabic the different mean-
al-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı (d. 956), who “coordinated the writings related
ings of the Greek term logos as “word,” “reason,” “argu-
to this science and refuted the specious ambiguities intro-
ment.” It was also used to signify the act of expounding or
duced by the MuEtazilah.” The seventh element is the name:
discussing a specific science, and the mutakallimu¯n became
tawh:¯ıd or kala¯m. The eighth is the means used, namely ratio-
those who deal with this science, for example al-kala¯m
nal and traditional arguments. The ninth is its legal category,
al-t:ab¯ı E¯ı, peri phuseos logoi. The “physicians” (phusikoi, phu-
because the study of kala¯m is considered obligatory by its ad-
siologoi) are sometimes called al-mutakallimu¯n f¯ı al-tab¯ı E¯ıyat,
herents. Finally, the tenth includes the questions treated,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

which deal with what is necessary and impossible to attribute
nor of the incarnation, nor of the redemption, and therefore
to God and to the prophets.
no mystery of the church or of the sacraments. Quite the
contrary, the very idea of the incarnation is vigorously reject-
the influences that can be detected in the science of kala¯m,
ed. Thus the theologians, those knowledgeable in kala¯m,
direct sources include the QurDa¯n, h:ad¯ıth, consensus of the
have only to organize the elements of a natural theodicy in
community, and reason, while indirect sources can be traced
their attempt at synthesis. If one disregards the pejorative
to the pre-Islamic religions of the Byzantine and Sasanid em-
connotation that the word rationalism has acquired in West-
pires and Greek philosophy as well as political dissensions of
ern Christian milieus since the eighteenth century, one can
the early Islamic period.
say that Muslim theology is basically rationalist: In practice
it denies the possibility of access to an order of supernatural
The QurDa¯n. This is the primary element on which the
mysteries. For its clearest representatives who are not neces-
science of kala¯m is built. Islam is first of all the religion of
sarily always the most religious, Muslim theology is essential-
the Book: It is a surrender to a God who, in the eyes of the
ly a superior metaphysical system to which are added, in an
believers, reveals himself in the book par excellence, the
incidental manner, a few positive notions relating to matters
QurDa¯n, his uncreated word. The QurDa¯n is neither a history
of cult, which are revealed by God in the QurDa¯n.
of the people of God nor a life of Muh:ammad; it is rather
a “discourse” that God holds with humanity in the first
Finally, the QurDa¯n was revealed in Arabic. For Muslim
theologians this fact indicates an essential link between the
religious notion and the nature of God. The Arabic QurDa¯n
The QurDa¯n presents itself in effect as an absolute begin-
is the very word of God himself. Consequently the Arabic
ning of revelation. The earlier revelations (Jewish and Chris-
language is seen as itself revealed, or at least as the one that
tian) have not been preserved in the authentic versions and
best expresses the word of God. This explains the primary
thus cannot serve a “given.” Consequently Muslim theology
role played by language in the elaboration of Muslim theolo-
finds itself before an all-encompassing document, transmit-
gy and the importance of the schools of grammar in the in-
ted by a single man and corresponding to a very limited peri-
terpretation of the sacred texts.
od of time. There is no progressive revelation, no preparatio
according to a divine plan, no development compa-
H:ad¯ıth. This term refers to the corpus of words and ac-
rable to that of the Old Testament in relation to the New,
tions of the Prophet, the “perfect model” whose least word
or that within the New Testament itself. All the dogma is
assumes normative value. In dogmatic and moral authority,
explicitly given in the QurDanic text.
the canonical collections of these h:ad¯ıth are second only
to the QurDa¯n, at least according to traditional Muslim
This QurDanic core, the starting point of the science of
kala¯m, is not systematic. It is essentially a collection of “reve-
lations” stretched out over approximately twenty years, in
The consensus of the community (Ijma¯E). This con-
which the Prophet informs his followers of the orders of God
sensus of the community as represented by its doctors is an
according to the circumstances, some of which are political.
internal factor of regulation. According to Henri Lammens,
it is a kind of instinct of the people, who when faced with
A person knowledgeable in kala¯m finds four elements
certain innovations react according to the spirit of Islam. The
in the QurDa¯n. First there is a theodicy: the existence of God,
Prophet had said, “My community will never agree on an
his unity, his eternal self, his omnipotence, the source of life
error,” and from this his disciples concluded that the com-
and death, his fixity, his omniscience, and his mercy. God
munity is infallible as far as its beliefs and religious practices
is endowed with speech and with will. He is the Creator. Sec-
are concerned.
ond comes an anthropology: God created humankind from
dust. He breathed his spirit into humanity (wa-nafakha f¯ıhi
The idea of ijma¯ E, although quite complex in theory,
min ru¯h:ihi). The human intelligence is superior to that of
showed itself to be effective in practice to maintain a tradi-
the angels. Adam disobeyed God, but his sin is not passed
tional line of orientation through the stirrings caused by new
down to his descendants; thus, there is no original sin in
conditions. Because Islam has neither an official ministry nor
Islam. The human being is the vicegerent of God (khal¯ıfat
an advisory body, the ijma¯ E exercises more or less tacitly the
Alla¯h) on earth, the ruler of the created world, which must
role of regulator within the Muslim community. Qualified
be submitted to God’s will. Third there is an eschatology:
reformers aroused by God could legitimately undertake to
the judgment of the individual, heaven, hell, and the Last
reestablish the Muslim community in the purity of its origi-
Judgment; God is the master of death. Finally there is moral-
nal line or could propose solutions to the demands of the
ity: personal, familial, social; the rights of God.
modern world in conformity with the religious law.
Although the QurDa¯n presents itself as a divine revela-
Reason. For a certain number of narrow traditionists,
tion, it nonetheless communicates no mysteries that are truly
especially in the early period, the only acceptable attitude
supernatural. There is the global mystery of the divine being
from the religious point of view was an exclusive loyalty to
(al-ghayb), which is transcendent and entirely inaccessible in
the QurDa¯n and the h:ad¯ıth with no rational elaboration. Nev-
itself to human intelligence, but no mystery of the Trinity
ertheless, for traditional theology reason became an essential
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factor in the problem of faith. It is necessary for every adult,
text for philosophizing. The ijma E came to favor the first
who should not be satisfied with a blind acceptance of tradi-
trend, and the ideas of the AshEar¯ıyah became the shared phi-
tion (taql¯ıd) but must be able to demonstrate rationally the
losophy of Islam, while the second tendency was met with
existence of God and the truth of the Muslim religion. The
great reticence, and its doctrine was hardly tolerated.
theologians themselves use reason to establish the authentici-
Manichaeism and Mazdakism. The invasion of Iran
ty of their historical notions, to criticize evidence, to defend
brought the Muslims in contact with a very rich and complex
dogmas, and to refute objections. This tendency went so far
cultural climate, where the Armenian and Syrian Christians
that in certain treatises on theology the major part is devoted
in particular were already engaged in controversies with the
to Eaql¯ıya¯t, those truths that reason can reach on its own,
Mazdaeans and the Magians. The ardent monotheism of
with the QurDa¯n serving as a confirmation. A certain number
Islam, which for fear of taking anything away from God’s
of positive notions, the sam E¯ıya¯t, are known only by revela-
omnipotence made God the creator of evil as well as good,
tion; these are concerned with eschatology, prophetology,
offered a new battlefield for Mazdaean apologists, as is dem-
the caliphate, and similar matters. The degree to which rea-
onstrated by the Shkand guma¯n¯ık vicha¯r, a ninth-century
son is used also varies with the schools: Some restrict its use
Mazdaean apologetic treatise. The theologians responded by
to logic as instrument; others apply an untiring dialectical
elaborating treatises against the dualists.
zeal to the smallest theological problems.
As for the Manichaeans, their survival in the tenth-
Christianity. The influence of Christianity was felt ei-
century East, attested by Ibn al-Nad¯ım’s Fihrist, leads one
ther in an informal way, notably through the Bible itself or
to believe that with the fall of their Mazdaean persecutors
through contacts that Muslims had with Christians living in
and the period of calm that followed the Muslim conquest,
Muslim lands, or formally via discussions with Christian
their doctrine was able to find a new lease on life.
theologians, especially in Damascus and Baghdad. Among
these theologians were the Nestorians concentrated in Hira,
Political dissensions. The political struggles among
the Jacobites (monophysites), and finally the Melkites, in-
Muslims mark the starting point for the elaboration of theo-
cluding John of Damascus and his disciple Abu¯ Qurrah, as
logical problems. Given that traditional Islam is inseparably
well as several dissident sects that were more or less Christian.
d¯ın wa-dawlah, “religion and state,” it is normal that every-
As they attempted to defend the dogma of Islam in discus-
thing concerning the polity, the transmission of power, legit-
sions with these groups, Muslim theologians were led to ad-
imacy, and the struggle for public authority should express
dress certain problematic issues such as free will and predesti-
itself in religious terms and provoke violent conflicts among
nation, the divine attributes, and the uncreated QurDa¯n. (In
the partisans of opposing opinions. It was in this way that
the QurDa¯n Jesus is considered to be the word of God.)
the problems of the nature of faith, of its relationship to
works, of the possibility for faith to increase or decrease, of
Greek philosophy. In the eyes of Muslim thinkers,
the status of the unrepentant sinner who is nevertheless a be-
Greek philosophy was perceived as a single body of knowl-
liever, of the caliphate, and like questions developed among
edge within which Plato and Aristotle, far from being in op-
the Muslims.
position, played complementary roles in relation to each
other. Apocryphal Neoplatonic writings such as De causis
article shall pursue a mainly chronological order that will
and the Pseudo-Theology of Aristotle served to reinforce this
permit the author to trace the emergence and development
conviction. These Greek teachings, known directly or via the
of the problem.
commentators, exercised an influence in two directions. Cer-
tain Muslim thinkers adopted an orientation that was
The early creeds. The earliest surviving documents that
straightforwardly rational in the eighteenth-century French
give an official expression of doctrine are the first creeds,
sense of the term. They denied all revelation, maintaining
some of which have been studied by A. J. Wensinck in The
only a vague notion of a distant philosophical God. This was
Muslim Creed. From what has been observed concerning the
especially true of Abu¯ Bakr al-Ra¯z¯ı, the Rhazes of the Latins.
fragmentary nature of the QurDa¯n, it is not surprising to find
no systematic résumé of doctrine there. What Muh:ammad
Other thinkers, loyal to their faith, took on the task of
affirms above all are the divine transcendence and unity, the
defending the principal dogmas of their religion with this in-
declaration in fiery terms of the horrors of the judgment, and
strument newly placed between their hands—Greek
the prophetic character of his message.
thought. These were the MuEtazilah, the first theologians of
Islam. They soon split into two main groups. The dissidents
But a few decades after Muh:ammad’s death, the expan-
among them, such as al-AshEar¯ı, wished to retain only the
sion of the new religion and the political and social questions
minimum of philosophy indispensable for theological elabo-
that arose led the heads of the community to express the es-
ration and stressed more the properly religious core of the
sential traits of Islam and to condense them into a formula
QurDa¯n. The other group, the fala¯sifah, including hellenizing
that was easy to recite and easy to remember. Some of these
philosophers such as al-Kind¯ı, al-Fa¯ra¯b¯ı, Ibn S¯ına¯, Ibn
formulas are found in the h:ad¯ıth collections. For example,
Rushd, and others, were more philosophers than Muslims;
Muh:ammad is asked, “What is Islam?” and he answers, “It
for them religious ideas were only a superstructure or a pre-
is to associate nothing with God, to perform the ritual
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

prayer, to give the prescribed alms, and to fast during
(6) Knowledge in matters of religion is better than knowl-
Ramad:a¯n.” When he is asked, “And what is faith?” he an-
edge in matters of the law.
swers, “It is to believe in God, his angels, his book, his meet-
(7) The difference of opinions in the community is a bless-
ing [with believers in Paradise], and his Prophet, to believe
ing of God.
in the resurrection and the final destiny.”
(8) Whoever believes what should be believed but says, “I
The development of Islam, the struggle with the tribes
do not know if Moses and Jesus are prophets or not,”
in revolt, and the conquests slowly necessitated a distinction
is an unbeliever.
between isla¯m (“submission”) and ¯ıma¯n (“faith”). It is possi-
ble to be Muslim in different ways, and external posture is
(9) Whoever affirms that he does not know if God is in
not necessarily a sign of inner faith. It was at this point that
heaven or in hell is an unbeliever.
the “five pillars of Islam” were defined. These are usually ex-
(10) Whoever says he does not know the punishment in the
pressed in the following terms: “Islam is built on five pillars:
tomb belongs to the sect of the Jahm¯ıyah, which is
faith, ritual prayer (s:ala¯t), the tithe (zaka¯t), the fast of
condemned to perdition.
Ramad:a¯n, and the pilgrimage.” Thus Islam presents itself in
its entirety as faith and acts. The holy war is not yet men-
The Was:¯ıyah. It is with the Was:¯ıyah (Testament) of
Abu¯ H:an¯ıfah (d. 767) that the major problems begin to
emerge; it is true that these are not yet classified in homoge-
However, conversion to Islam prompted the develop-
nous groups, but one feels that the work of conflicting has
ment of a simple formula expressing in a few words the essen-
started. The twenty-seven articles of this creed can be sepa-
tial message of the new religion: the shaha¯dah (“witnessing”)
rated into the following themes.
served this function. By reciting it, the new converts entered
the Muslim community; it was their profession of faith:
1. The problem of faith. The text affirms that faith resides
“There is no god but God, and Muh:ammad is the messenger
in witnessing with the tongue, believing with the mind, and
of God.”
knowing with the heart. It does not increase or decrease (art.
2). The believer and unbeliever really are such (art. 3). Mus-
A profession of faith reduced to its simplest expression,
lim sinners do not cease to be Muslim (art. 4). Works are
the shaha¯dah would be sufficient as long as internal discus-
distinct from faith (art. 5). Finally, faith allows people to be
sions did not pit the disciples of the same master against one
classified in three categories: believers with pure intentions,
another. But once dissension arose, there was inevitably an
unbelievers who recognize their lack of belief, and hypocrites
orthodox party that sought to set down its position in precise
(art. 14).
terms and heaped anathema on those who did not accept it
in its entirety. It was in this context that the first creeds
2. Predestination. This problem is treated throughout
would appear.
the Was:¯ıyah. First of all it is affirmed against the dualists and
The Fiqh al-akbar. One of the principal creeds to come
the Qadar¯ıyah that God alone controls good and evil (art.
down to the present is the Fiqh al-akbar. Although it is
6), that mortal acts are created by God (art. 11) because
tempting to see it as nothing more than the simple develop-
human beings have no natural power (art. 12), and that God
ment of the formula of the profession of faith, such is not
creates the faculty at the same time as the act (art. 15). Finally
the case. The shaha¯dah is a formula of adherence to the Mus-
it is God who orders the (celestial) pen to write (art. 17); that
lim community; the creed is the profession of faith of the
is to say, he determines all things.
community itself, which wishes to state its position in rela-
The theme of human actions is very closely associated
tion to the dissenting sects. This particular profession men-
with that of predestination, because these actions are totally
tions neither the unity of God nor the mission of
dependent on divine will. The relationship between these
Muh:ammad, because neither is called into question. It states
two forms the crucial problem of speculative moral philoso-
the following articles:
phy. Along with predestination, the distinction of three
(1) We consider no one (of those who profess Islam) to be
kinds of actions is affirmed: These are the obligatory, the op-
an unbeliever on account of his faith, nor do we deny
tional, and the reprehensible. About ten affirmations follow
his faith.
to detail the eschatological beliefs: the punishment of the
tomb (art. 18), questioning in the tomb (art. 19), heaven and
(2) We command the good and forbid the evil.
hell (art. 20 and 27), the scale (art. 21), the reading of the
(3) What reaches you could not have missed you, and what
book (art. 22), the resurrection (art. 23), God’s meeting with
misses you could not have reached you.
the inhabitants of Paradise (art. 24), the intercession of the
Prophet (art. 25), and God’s sitting on the throne (art. 8).
(4) We do not disavow any of the companions of the Apos-
In addition there are affirmations concerning the uncreated
tle of God, nor do we adhere to any one of them in par-
or created nature of the QurDa¯n (art. 9), the order of prece-
dence of the first caliphs (art. 10), the precedence of EA¯Dishah
(5) We leave to God the question of EUthma¯n and EAl¯ı. He
(art. 26), and the validity of ablutions performed on shoes
alone knows the secret and hidden matters.
(art. 16).
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Fiqh al-akbar II. The Fiqh al-akbar II leads one onto
analyzed human control over their actions, and affirmed that
much more defined ground, for debate had obliged the reli-
they created such actions by “generation” (tawallin).
gious leaders to clarify beliefs, to reject anything that could
With the same concern to eliminate any suspicion of as-
threaten the transcendence of God, and to specify the role
sociationism, they affirmed the created character of the
of the prophets and the value of their message.
QurDa¯n, the word of God. In the history of the MuEtazilah,
From the very first affirmation, the global content of the
this position attracted the most attention because of its polit-
faith reveals itself: God, the angels, his envoys, the resurrec-
ical repercussions. The QurDa¯n, they held, is a “genus” of
tion, the decree concerning good and evil, the calculation of
words, created by God. It is called the “word of God” be-
sins, the scale, heaven and hell. The entire theological base
cause, in contrast to human words, the QurDa¯n was created
to date is thus set out: Theology already possesses all the ma-
terial it will have to systematize. The different articles of the
Second thesis: the justice of God. In conjunction with
creed, about forty in all, take up each point in turn and devel-
tawh:¯ıd, this belief served to describe the MuEtazilah, or rath-
op them slightly without, however, following the order pro-
er, they proudly described themselves as the “people of jus-
posed at the start.
tice and unity.” By analyzing the notion of human justice
MuEtazil¯ı problematic and theses. The MuEtazilah,
and extending it to God, they drew two conclusions.
“the first thinkers of Islam,” gave the science of kala¯m a sys-
1. As an intelligent and wise being, God must necessari-
tematic form. The great MuEtazilah lived either in Basra
ly act according to a purpose, with a view to a determined
(Abu¯ al-Hudhayl al-EAlla¯f, d. 849; al-Naz:z:a¯m, d. 846;
plan. There is a chosen, objective order in the universe, and
al-Ja¯h:iz:, d. 872) or in Baghdad (Bishr ibn al-MuEtamir,
thus intermediary purposes, themselves related to an ulti-
d. 825; Abu¯ Mu¯sa¯ al-Mirdar, d. 841; Thuma¯mah ibn al-
mate purpose. Consequently there are an objective good and
Ashras, d. 828).
evil prior to the determination brought by religious law. God
is obliged always to do the best, al-as:lah:; he can wish only
Although they did not teach the same doctrine on all
the good.
matters, they nonetheless shared a common spirit. Historians
and heresiographers have not been wrong in summarizing
2. God does not want evil. He does not order it because
the characteristics of their doctrine in five affirmations called
his wish (ira¯dah) and his commandment (amr) are identical.
al-us:u¯l al-khamsah: the unity of God (al-tawh:¯ıd), his justice
Evil is created by humans, as is good for that matter, because
(al- Eadl), the promise and the threat (a:l-wa Ed wa-al-wa E¯ıd),
people create all their actions, good or evil. They have in ef-
the “neutral” position in relation to the sinner (al-manzilah
fect received from God a “power” (qudrah), that allows them
bayn al-manzilatayn), and finally the “commanding of good
to act freely. For this reason they will inevitably receive a re-
and forbidding of evil” (al-amr bi-al-ma Eru¯f wa-al-nahy Ean
ward for their good actions and a punishment for their evil
First thesis: tawh:¯ıd. Concerned with avoiding the sligh-
Third thesis: the promise and the threat. This concerns
test anthropomorphism in the question of divine attributes,
the fate of the believer (mu Dmin), the sinner (fa¯siq), and the
the MuEtazilah applied in all its vigor the via remotionis,
unbeliever (ka¯fir) in the hereafter. The term “the names and
God’s transcendence (tanz¯ıh). The anthropomorphic verses
the statutes” (al-asma¯ D wa-al-ah:ka¯m) is also used, referring
should be “interpreted” symbolically, and in some cases even
to the juridical statutes that determine the fate of each group.
rejected. Similarly, contradictory h:ad¯ıths were set aside.
The basic problem is that of faith and disbelief. For the
Against the “people of h:ad¯ıth” and the EAlids, the MuEtazilah
MuEtazilah, to have faith is not merely to assent in the heart
could affirm their agnosticism on the matter of the nature
and to make the verbal profession (shaha¯dah) but also to
of God. Without going as far as the Jahm¯ıyah, who com-
avoid the “major sins” (kaba¯ Dir). The unbelievers and the un-
pletely denied the attributes of God, they affirmed that all
repentant Muslim sinners are condemned to hell.
these attributes are identical with God’s essence and that they
Fourth thesis: the “intermediate position” between faith
have no real existence. Against the Dahr¯ıyah (materialists)
and disbelief. This is a corollary to the MuEtazil¯ı concept of
they affirmed a personal creator God. If God is completely
divine justice and faith and is easily assimilated to the preced-
spiritual, he cannot be seen by the senses, from which came
ing thesis. The position of the Muslim sinner (fa¯siq) is inter-
their rejection of the “vision of God” in the future life, the
mediate between that of the believer and that of the unbeliev-
ru Dyah of the traditionists. The absolute transcendence of
er. Although condemned in the hereafter to eternal
God in relation to the world led them to distinguish rigor-
damnation (albeit one less rigorous than that of the ka¯fir),
ously between the preeternal and the muh:dath (that which
the sinner remains nonetheless a member of the Muslim
has begun to be) and made them reject energetically any no-
community while on earth.
tion of h:ulu¯l (the infusion of the divine into the created).
Fifth thesis: “commanding the good.” In contrast to
The MuEtazilah accepted a “contingent” or “created” di-
those who saw internal criticism as sufficient, the MuEtazilah
vine knowledge of free intentions and of possibilities in gen-
favored direct action. Order must be reestablished “by the
eral. They studied the object and the limits of divine power,
sword.” If there is a hope of defeating adversaries one must
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

overthrow the guilty leaders, even kill them if necessary, and
was by contrast a clear disciple of Abu¯ H:an¯ıfah, a Persian
force them, on pain of death, to accept the true doctrine.
like himself. He favored liberal, rational solutions, staying as
close as possible to the MuEtazilah while remaining within
This is not the place to discuss the history of the
the limits of orthodoxy. An example of this approach is seen
MuEtazilah, their temporary triumph and final defeat. Histo-
in his attitude toward the problem of liberty and kasb.
ry books recount different stages of the mih:nah (inquisition),
Al-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı’s solution attempted to respect the intervention
which represents the final struggle of the upholders of ratio-
of the human being, to whom he attributes the “qualifica-
nal doctrines against the narrowly traditionalist thinkers.
tion” of acts. Similarly al-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı affirms that the believer
The rationalists were defeated and the “people of h:ad¯ıth” tri-
can say, “I am a believer in truth,” whereas al-AshEar¯ı re-
umphed decisively. The fact remains nevertheless that the
quired the restriction, “if God wishes it.” (This is the prob-
MuEtazilah represent a turning point in the history of Mus-
lem of the istithna¯ D.) For the Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ıyah it was inconceiv-
lim thought and they left a definitive mark, even if by reac-
able that God would punish those who had obeyed him,
tion, on the problematic of kala¯m.
while the AshEar¯ıyah accepted the possibility, at least in theo-
It was one of the deserters from the MuEtazilah, Abu¯
ry. For the Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ıyah, often called “shameful MuEtazilah,”
al-H:asan al-AshEar¯ı, who succeeded in finding the concilia-
reason, even without the religious law, would have taught
tory via media between their rationalism and the literalism
that there is an obligation to know God; for the AshEar¯ıyah,
of the traditionists. A longtime disciple of al-Jubba¯D¯ı, the
this awareness comes exclusively from revelation. The differ-
head of the MuEtazilah of Basra, he broke publicly with his
ent points of divergence, which number about fifty, remain
teacher and turned violently against his former companions.
secondary and in no way prevent the AshEar¯ıyah and
At first he attempted to win over the literalists by expressing
Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ıyah from being considered without distinction as
his admiration for Ibn H:anbal, as can be seen at the start of
“people of tradition and h:ad¯ıth,” the former in the western
his Iba¯nah, or “elucidation” of the principles of religion.
part of the empire (Syria, Iraq, Egypt), and the latter in the
eastern part.
However, his real theological work would consist of at-
tempting to reconcile the different schools. By his conversion
The AshEar¯ıyah spread into Persia under the Seljuks,
he intended to rediscover the meaning of traditional doc-
then into Syria and Egypt under the Ayyubids and the Mam-
trine, to “return” to the QurDa¯n and to the teaching of the
luk sultans, and finally into the Maghreb under the Almohad
first Muslims. In the field of exegesis he energetically rejected
dynasty led by Ibn Tu¯mart (d. 1130?). This triumph was
the overly drastic tanz¯ıh of the MuEtazilah as this led to ta Et:¯ıl,
characterized by ongoing development of the doctrine, with
a complete dissection of the notion of God. He wished to
the names of the qa¯d:¯ı al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı, al-Juwayn¯ı (Ima¯m
maintain a literal interpretation of the text and in this respect
al-H:aramayn), and finally al-Ghaza¯l¯ı serving to demarcate
appeared to present himself as a faithful disciple of Ibn
the principal stages.
H:anbal. This was a literalism peculiar to al-AshEar¯ı, however,
From the via antiqua to the via moderna. In his fa-
because the later AshEar¯ıyah would distance themselves con-
mous Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldu¯n (d. 1406) presents the
siderably from the rigid literalism of their founder and thus
time of al-Ghaza¯l¯ı (d. 1111) as a watershed in the evolution
would provoke the anger of Ibn H:azm and the H:ana¯bilah
of kala¯m. The via antiqua, characterized by a dialectic in-
themselves (Laoust, Ibn Taymiyya, pp. 81–82). Likewise on
spired primarily by the logic of the doctors of the law, gave
the question of the “vision of God” and of the anthropomor-
way to the via nova, which relied on the Aristotelian syllo-
phic terms and the attributes (Iba¯nah, p. 47), he presented
gism. This break should not be overemphasized, however: At
positions to which Ibn H:anbal would have ascribed without
least from the point of view of the subjects discussed, influ-
ences must have been felt earlier via the MuEtazilah, some of
Such was the al-AshEar¯ı of the direct sources. But for
whom had read Aristotle. This tendency can already be seen
al-Juwayn¯ı (d. 1085), who became al-Ghaza¯l¯ı’s master,
in the writings of al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı (d. 1013), himself an untiring
al-AshEar¯ı was not a theologian following the opinions of Ibn
opponent of the MuEtazilah, and even more strongly in those
H:anbal but rather a conciliator of two extreme positions. In
of his disciple al-Juwayn¯ı. The latter was indeed an ancient
his Taby¯ın (pp. 149ff.) Ibn EAsa¯kir demonstrates how his
in his dialectic, but an ancient who foretold the victory of
master, when dealing with the principal questions, followed
the new method, which would triumph through his disciple
a middle course between the exaggerations of the MuEtazilah
al-Ghaza¯l¯ı and come even closer to the fala¯sifah with later
and those of the h:ashw¯ıyah who, it is true, were recruited
among the extremist H:ana¯bilah. Table 1 summarizes the
This article shall now trace this evolution in the Tamh¯ıd
principal AshEar¯ı positions in comparison with those of the
of al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı, the Irsha¯d of al-Juwayn¯ı, and the Iqtis:a¯d of
extremists. All later kala¯m would see al-AshEar¯ı as its founder.
al-Ghaza¯l¯ı. It shall finish with the treatises in which the new
tendency takes full shape.
Al-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı was a follower and contemporary of
al-AshEar¯ı. His disagreements with al-AshEar¯ı stemmed above
The Tamh¯ıd of al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı. In his Tamh¯ıd,
all from the fact that they followed different legal rites.
al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı, who has not yet broken away from his apologet-
Al-AshEar¯ı was probably a disciple of al-Sha¯fiE¯ı. Al-Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı
ic preoccupations, mixes his presentation of beliefs with long
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Extreme by Default
Extreme by Excess
The attributes
Denied (ta‘t l, ibtal) by the
They are real, but not like
They are like human attributes
Mu‘tazilah, Jabar yah, Rafidah.
human attributes.
(hashw yah).
Human acts
People have a power (qudrah).
No power. God creates the
Neither power nor kasb (Jabar yah).
They are susceptible to acts
of human beings, who are endowed
kasb (Qadar yah, Mu‘tazilah).
with kasb (attribution, juridical charge).
The vision of God
Denied by the Mu‘tazilah,
God will be seen (by the eyes)
God will be seen like things of
Jahm yah, and Najjar yah.
but without hulul, without terms,
the senses (hashw yah).

without modes, as he sees us.
Omnipresence of God
God is everywhere without
God existed before there was place. He
God is “infused” (hulul) in the throne.
hulul or direction (Mu‘tazilah).
created the throne and the seat. He
He is seated on the throne which is
has no need of place. The creation of
his place (hashw yah).
place has in no way changed his nature.
Ta´wil (interpretation)
Hand = power and grace; face of
The hand and face are real attributes
The hand is a real limb, the face is a
God = his existence; descent of
like hearing and sight . . . =
face with human form. The descent is
God = descent of certain verses,
attribute . . . = attribute. . . .
real, as is sitting on the throne
or of his angels; sitting on the
(hashw yah).
throne = domination (Mu‘tazilah).
The Qur´an
It is the created word of God
The [eternal] Qur’an is the uncreated
All is uncreated (hashw yah).
word of God, eternal, unchangeable.
The individual letters, the ink with
which it is written are created.
It is created (Mu‘tazilah, Jahm yah,
Faith is of two kinds: that of God,
Faith is absolutely uncreated
Najjar yah).
uncreated; that of the believers, created.
(hashw yah).
The eternal punishment
The Muslim who commits a grave
The Muslim sinner is given up to divine
The fate of the Muslim sinner will be
sin is eternally damned (Kharij s,
goodwill. God can accept that person
debated only on the Day of Judgment
immediately into Paradise or mete out
punishment in a temporary Hell.
The Prophet does not have the
Intercession of the Prophet on behalf of
Muhammad and ‘Ali can intercede
power of intercession (Mu‘tazilah).
believing sinners with the permission
without God’s order or permission,

of God.
even for unbelievers (Rafidah).
The caliphate
Mu‘aw yah, Talhah, Zubayr, and
Every mujtahid achieves a result. There
All these people are unbelievers
`A´ishah are guilty. Their
is general agreement on this principle.
testimony is not accepted
(Mu‘tazilah). They are not guilty (Umayyads).
SOURCE: Gardet and Anawati (1948), pp.58-59
T ABLE 1 . The conciliating position of al-AshEar¯ı, according to the Qa¯d:¯ı Abu¯ al-MaEali ibn EAbd al-Malik (al-Juwayn¯ı) as reported
by Ibn EAsakir, Taby¯ın (pp. 149ff.)
discussions against non-Muslim sects and dissident Muslims
ing, willing; he has no appetite. (3) Divine action: nei-
themselves. The following is the schema of his presentation:
ther motive (gharad:) nor cause ( Eillah); he acts freely.
Preliminary. Science; nature; foundations.
II. Apologetic Section. Refutation of the astrologers, dualists,
Magians, Christians, Brahmans (Hindus), Jews, and
I. De Deo Uno. (1) Existence of God: (a) division of
corporalists (mujassimah, i.e., those who maintain a lit-
known objects; (b) accidents; (c) created nature of the
eral interpretation of the anthropomorphic verses of the
word and proof of the existence of God. (2) His attri-
butes: he is one, living, knowing, hearing, seeing, speak-
III. The Caliphate. (1) Principles of methodology and na-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ture of the caliphate. (2) Qualities required of the ca-
Preliminaries. The nature of kala¯m; its importance; its
liph. (3) The first four caliphs. (4) Validity of their ca-
liphate. (See also Gardet and Anawati, 1948,
I. The Divine Essence. (1) God exists. (2) He is eternal. (3)
pp. 154–156.)
He is permanent. (4) He is insubstantial. (5) He is in-
The Irsha¯d of al-Juwayn¯ı. Al-Ghaza¯l¯ı’s master, also
corporeal. (6) He is nonaccidental. (7) He is undefined.
called Ima¯m al-H:aramayn (“imam of the two holy places”),
(8) He is not localized. (9) He is visible and knowable.
presents the principles of his classification more than once
(10) He is one.
in his Irsha¯d. At some points he divides his treatise between
II. The Attributes of God. (1) The attributes in themselves:
what exists necessarily in God and what is possible, that is
life, knowledge, power, will, hearing, sight, speech. (2)
to say, between what God can and cannot accomplish. At
The “status” of the attributes: (a) they are not the es-
others he distinguishes between matters accessible to reason
sence; (b) they are in the essence; (c) they are eternal;
and those attainable only through the traditional path. Al-
(d) the divine names.
though it is not easy to find one’s way through the Irsha¯d,
its plan can be drawn up in the following manner:
III. The Acts of God (what God can or cannot do). (1) God
Introduction. The character of reason; the nature of science.
can choose (is free) to impose no obligation on his crea-
tures. (2) Or he can choose to impose on them what
I. The Existence of God. (1) Contingency of the world (its
they cannot do. (3) God does nothing in vain. (4) He
beginning in time). (2) Proofs of the existence of God
can make innocent animals suffer. (5) He can fail to re-
(a novitate mundi).
ward one who obeys him. (6) The obligation of know-
II. What Necessarily Exists in God. (1) Attributes of the es-
ing God comes from revelation alone. (7) The sending
sence: the unity of God. (2) Attributes of qualification:
of prophets is possible.
(a) knowledge of the attributes; (b) knowledge of the at-
IV. The Envoys of God. (1) Muh:ammad. (2) Eschatology
tributes themselves (the word; the divine names; other
(and faith). (3) The caliphate. (4) The sects.
III. What God Can and Cannot Accomplish. (1) Visibility of
Evolution of the via moderna. Elsewhere (Gardet and
God: the creation of human acts. (2) The promise and
Anawati, 1948) this author has shown the evolution of the
the threat. (3) Prophetology. (4) The “traditional” ques-
via moderna with the progressive introduction of philosophy
tions (sam E¯ıya¯t): (a) sundry aspects: terms assigned to
through an examination of kala¯m treatises such as the
things, subsistence for maintaining life, censure of
Niha¯yat al-aqda¯m of al-Shahrasta¯n¯ı (d. 1153), the Muh:as:s:al
human actions; (b) eschatology; (c) names and the ju-
of Fakhr al-D¯ın al-Ra¯z¯ı (d. 1209), and the T:awa¯l¯ı E al-anwa¯r
ridical qualifications; (d) the caliphate.
of al-Bayd:a¯w¯ı (d. 1286). Here shall be given the end result
of this evolution as it is crystallized in the Mawa¯qif of al-¯Ij¯ı
The Iqtis:a¯d of al-Ghaza¯l¯ı. The author of the Ih:ya¯D dis-
with the commentary of al-Jura¯jn¯ı. With this work is
cussed ex professo and with precision the science of kala¯m in
reached the high point of the science of kala¯m in Sunn¯ı
a compendium entitled Al-iqtis:a¯d f¯ı al-i Etiqa¯d (The just
Islam. ¯Ij¯ı/Jura¯jn¯ı, with the glosses of other commentators,
mean in belief). He intended to remain loyal to AshEar¯ı or-
represent the largest (four volumes of more than five hun-
thodoxy, simplifying to the extreme the dialectical debates
dred pages each) and most systematic work of orthodox
and eliminating the philosophical investigations that his
Muslim speculative thought. The work supplied material for
master al-Juwayn¯ı had integrated into his treatises.
years of specialization in the great Muslim universities, and
Al-Ghaza¯l¯ı devotes four chapters to a general introduc-
one is obliged to recognize, especially by comparison with
tion on kala¯m. The first underlines the importance of this
previous works, that its fame is well deserved. Even if the
science: It allows the reader to know God, his tributes, and
truly traditional parts, and the theology strictly speaking, are
the work of his messengers. However, he takes pains to state
treated soberly, the philosophical part with its long critical
in the second chapter that this concerns only a certain num-
introduction receives ample development. Consisting of six
ber of people, because, with relation to the truths of faith and
treatises and an appendix, the work is divided and subdivided
the doubts that can arise, one must distinguish different cate-
with care:
gories of people who are not equally able to devote them-
I. Preliminaries. (1) The presuppositions of kala¯m and all
selves to this science. Kala¯m is safely used only to resolve cer-
knowledge. (2) Science (or knowledge) in genere. (3)
tain doubts of the believers and to try to convince intelligent
The division of knowledge (the first two operations of
unbelievers. Finally, the fourth chapter analyzes the sources.
the spirit). (4) The existence of sciences or necessary
Next al-Ghaza¯l¯ı divides all the questions considered
knowledges. (5) Reasoning. (6) The different forms of
into four large sections, each precisely articulated. Because
God is the object of kala¯m, one must first study him in his
essence; this is the aim of the first section. The second section
II. General Principles. (1) Being and nonbeing. (2) Essence.
deals with the attributes; the third, with the action of God
(3) The necessary and the possible. (4) The one and the
and his personal acts; and the fourth, with his envoys. The
many. (5) Cause and effect.
following is a general outline of the whole work:
III. The Accidents. (1) In genere. (2) Quantity. (3) Quality.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

(4) The relations (nisab): local relations, space, move-
(d. 1860), rector of al-Azhar, who wrote commentaries on
ment. (5) Relationship (id:a¯fah).
his predecessors, al-Sanu¯s¯ı himself, al-Laqa¯n¯ı, and his own
IV. Substance. (1) The body. (2) Accidents of bodies. (3)
master, al-Fad:a¯l¯ı. The differences are minimal between
The separate soul. (4) The intellect.
al-Sanu¯s¯ı and al-Ba¯ju¯r¯ı. One of those who would attempt
to arouse theology from its sleep, Shaykh Muh:ammad
V. “Rational” Theology (Ila¯h¯ıya¯t). (1) The divine essence.
EAbduh (d. 1905), would write of this period, “Whoever
(2) The transcendence of God (the via remotionis). (3)
studies the works of this era will find only discussions on
His unity. (4) The positive attributes. (5) “Possible” at-
words, studies on methodology. And he will find these in
tributes: visibility, knowability. (6) The acts of God
only a small number of works chosen by weakness and conse-
(problem of human acts). (7) The divine names.
crated by impotence.”
VI. The Traditional Questions (Sam E¯ıya¯t). (1) Prophet-
Reformist period. It was precisely Muh:ammad
hood. (2) Eschatology. (3) Statutes and names. (4) The
EAbduh, the disciple of the reformer Jama¯l al-D¯ın al-Afgha¯n¯ı
(d. 1897), who would try to renew the problematic of kala¯m
Appendix. The sects.
within the scope of the general renaissance of the Middle
East. His originality in this field was his religious rationalism.
Rigid AshEar¯ıyah. The so-called way of the “modern-
He believed deeply in Islam, but he wanted a thoroughly in-
ists” was in effect the most original line of thought in the
terpreted religion that could respond intellectually to the de-
fully evolved AshEar¯ı kala¯m. One can note among the most
mands of criticism, socially to the desire of the humble to
characteristic representatives al-Shahrasta¯n¯ı, Fakhr al-D¯ın
live a decent life, and politically to the ardent passion among
al-Ra¯z¯ı, and al-Isfaha¯n¯ı (d. 1348). Al-Ra¯z¯ı, although he
the people for liberty.
called himself an AshEar¯ı, did not hesitate to adopt Ma¯tur¯ıd¯ı
theses, or even MuEtazil¯ı influences.
Against the traditional AshEar¯ı ideas that crushed the be-
Other modernists, possibly less daring, nonetheless did
liever under the weight of a fatalist predestination, he would
not hesitate to borrow in their turn from falsafa various ideas
state the existence of human liberty as the basis of all action
on logic, nature philosophy, or metaphysics. This was the
and responsibility. He did not want to concern himself with
most orthodox of the tendencies that issued from the
what he considered metaphysical subtleties and turned in-
thought of al-¯Ij¯ı, including al-Jura¯jn¯ı, who called himself an
stead to a somewhat agnostic pragmatism. It was practice
AshEar¯ı. Very close to him in methodology was his adversary
that interested him above all. Thus divine law, reason, con-
al-Tafta¯za¯n¯ı (d. 1389), who attempted to oppose the conclu-
science, and common sense affirm human responsibility and
sions of falsafa while still placing himself on the same plane
therefore human freedom. It was useless to go over the old
as philosophy.
discussions again on the bases and nature of this freedom.
It was enough to recognize that it did not contradict God’s
The glosses, commentaries, and discussions multiplied,
omnipotence, because, as he said, “God is the cause to the
often with a great richness of argumentation and certain orig-
extent that people act, and people are the cause to the extent
inal views. But this did not serve the elaboration of kala¯m
that God acts.” This is far from the AshEar¯ı kasb
as a theological science: The clearest result of such studies
(“acquisition”) that denies any real power to human beings.
was to throw the teaching of kala¯m by reaction into the con-
straints of “rigid conservatism.”
He added to this clear attitude toward human freedom
an affirmation of natural law, which once again suggests the
Kala¯m would soon ossify under the AshEar¯ı writ, and,
influence of the MuEtazilah. Like the latter he recognized that
losing the freshness of its early years, it would become frozen
there are things objectively good or evil, naturally beautiful
in the stereotyped forms of “manuals” endlessly commented
or ugly, and concludes that a “natural law” is possible. Reli-
and recommented. If one compares the nineteenth-century
gious law does not differ essentially from natural morality.
Jawharat al-tawh:¯ıd of al-Ba¯ju¯r¯ı with the Muh:as:s:al of al-Ra¯z¯ı,
“The law came simply to show what exists (al-wa¯qi E). It is
one finds the same major divisions, the same responses, the
not the law that makes it good” (Risa¯lah, p. 80, trans.,
same “intemporality.” The manuals of that age are often a
p. 56).
compendium of all the past, but framed and codified by the
most rigid solutions of the school.
In his discussion of prophecy, he shows similarly ratio-
nalist tendencies. While keeping the orthodox position, he
An enumeration of these manuals and their authors
stresses the psychological and social aspects of prophecy
would be lengthy indeed; suffice it to mention the two writ-
(ibid., p. 127/86).
ers who are situated at the beginning and the end of this long
period, and who had and still have an important place in offi-
In discussing kala¯m he insists above all on the political
cial teaching. One is al-Sanu¯s¯ı, from the fifteenth century,
factor in the formation and differentiation of the schools. He
famous for his kala¯m treatises set out according to the three
recognizes that foreign elements integrated into the commu-
cycles of teaching (Umm al-bara¯hin) called Al-s:ughra¯ (The
nity prompted the first dogmatic discussions (ibid., intro.,
small), or the Sanu¯s¯ıyah, then Al-wust: (The median) and
p. 55). The rational character of the science of kala¯m is af-
Al-kubra¯ (The great). The other is Ibra¯h¯ım al-Ba¯ju¯r¯ı,
firmed forcefully: It is reason that is called upon to examine
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the proofs of the beliefs and rules of conduct imposed by reli-
Mulla¯ S:adra¯ in M. M. Sharif’s A History of Muslim Philoso-
gion in order to show that they truly come from God (ibid.,
phy, vol. 2, Wiesbaden, 1966).
p. 129/88). In response to Hanotaux he does not hesitate to
Among contemporary Muslim writers a certain number
write, “In the case of a conflict between reason and tradition,
outside the traditional framework of theology have tried to
it is reason that must decide. This is a position that would
speak of God and Muslim doctrines in a way adapted to the
only be opposed by a few people, from among those whose
modern world, including Ka¯mil H:usayn, Sayyid Qut:b,
views cannot be taken into consideration” (Gardet and An-
Tawf¯ıq al-H:ak¯ım, EAbba¯s Mah:mu¯d al-EAqqa¯d, and Mus:t:afa¯
awati, 1948, p. 86, n. 3).
Mah:mu¯d. The historian of kala¯m should not overlook their
In his Ris:a¯lat al-tawh:¯ıd, Shaykh EAbduh spends little
time on the metaphysical introductions so common in tradi-
tional manuals. After stating the usual definitions of the im-
SEE ALSO AshEar¯ıyah; Creeds, article on Islamic Creeds;
possible, the contingent, and the necessary, he establishes the
Ima¯n and Isla¯m; MuEtazilah; QurDa¯n.
classic proof of the existence of God and his attributes. To
be necessary, endowed with life, knowledge, and will, to be
all-powerful, free, one—these are all attributes that reason
General Works
can discover on its own. He is very circumspect on the ques-
The best works on kala¯m for the general reader are Harry A. Wolf-
tion of the relationship of the attributes with the essence of
son’s overview, The Philosophy of the Kalam (Cambridge,
God: He advises [the believer] to have the wisdom to “stop
Mass., 1976); D. B. Macdonald’s article “Kala¯m” in the first
at the limit that our reason can reach” (Risa¯lah, p. 52/37).
edition of The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1934); and
Louis Gardet’s “EIlm al-Kala¯m” and “Kala¯m” in the new edi-
The “new theology” of the Egyptian grand muft¯ı also
tion of The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1960-). Louis
shows itself in his attitude toward the origins of faith: He
Gardet’s and my Introduction à la théologie mus:u¯lmane
contests the authority of the juridical schools resting on the
(1948; 2d ed., Paris, 1970) and W. Montgomery Watt’s Is-
consensus of the community (ijma¯ E) and rejects servile tradi-
lamic Philosophy and Theology, 2d rev. ed. (Edinburgh,
tional imitation (taql¯ıd). Only the QurDa¯n and authentic sun-
1984), are useful surveys. J. Windrow Sweetman’s Islam and
nah should serve as the base of ijtiha¯d, this effort of personal
Christian Theology, 2 vols. (London, 1942–1947), and A. S.
Tritton’s Muslim Theology (1947; reprint, Westport, Conn.,
elaboration of religious positions by qualified theologians.
1981) should also be consulted.
The same concern for adaptation is shown in his commen-
tary on the QurDa¯n, which he wished to be pragmatic and
Sources in Translation
oriented essentially toward “moral direction” (hida¯yah); it
The works of al-AshEar¯ı have been translated by several scholars.
was to be in accord with modern civilization and encourage
Al-iba¯nah Ean us:u¯l al-diya¯nah has been translated and edited
by Walter C. Klein as The Elucidation of Islam’s Foundation
activity, energy, and personal labor. The anthropomorphic
(New Haven, Conn., 1940); The Theology of al-Ash Ear¯ı, ed-
passages should be interpreted by using reason (ta Dw¯ıl Eaql¯ı)
ited and translated by Richard J. McCarthy (Beirut, 1953),
in the manner of Ibn Rushd. God’s transcendence (tanz¯ıh)
contains translations of two creeds by al-AshEar¯ı; and D. B.
must be ensured at all costs.
Macdonald’s Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence
and Constitutional Theory
(1903; reprint, New York, 1965)
Muh:ammad EAbduh was able to inspire the best of his
contains translations of creeds by al-AshEar¯ı as well as
disciples with a spirit of openmindedness and renewal. Espe-
al-Ghaza¯l¯ı, Abu¯ H:afs: al-Nasaf¯ı, and al-Fad:a¯l¯ı. Ibn
cially worthy of mention is Shaykh Mus:t:afa¯ EAbd al-Ra¯z¯ıq,
Quda¯mah’s Tah:rim al-naz:ar f¯ı kutub ahl al-kala¯m has been
who was appointed rector of al-Azhar in 1945.
edited and translated by George Makdisi as Censure of Specu-
Parallel to this reformist movement in Egypt and the
lative Theology (London, 1962). Al-Shahrasta¯n¯ı’s Kita¯b
niha¯yat iqda¯m f¯ı Eilm al-kala¯m
has been edited and translated
Near East a no less sustained effort for renewal, sui generis,
by Alfred Guillaume as The Summa Philosophiae of
occurred in British India. This was particularly due to the
al-Shahrasta¯n¯ı (Oxford, 1934). Al-Tafta¯za¯ni’s Sharh:
work of Sayyid Ah:mad Kha¯n (d. 1898), whose Taby¯ın
al- Eaqa¯ Did al-nasaf¯ıyah has been edited and translated by
al-kala¯m (Commentary on the Holy Bible) dates from 1862
E. E. Elder as A Commentary on the Creed of Islam (New
to 1865; Syed Ameer Ali (d. 1928), author of The Spirit of
York, 1950).
Islam (London, 1922), and Muh:ammad Iqba¯l, whose Six
Critical Studies
Lectures on the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
An excellent study is A. J. Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed: Its Gene-
was published in 1934.
sis and Historical Development (1932; reprint, New York,
1965), which contains translations of three H:anaf¯ı creeds.
WO FINAL REMARKS. A complete presentation of kala¯m in
Michel Allard’s Le problème des attributs divins dans la doc-
Islam should also take into consideration Sh¯ıE¯ı kala¯m, in par-
trine d’al-Aˇs Ear¯ı et de ses premiers grands disciples (Beirut,
ticular the disciples and successors of Mulla¯ S:adra¯ (d. 1640)
1965) is a detailed study of the works and teachings of
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These include
al-Ba¯qilla¯n¯ı, al-Baghda¯d¯ı, al-Bayhaq¯ı, and al-Juwayn¯ı. Also
among others H:a¯j¯ı Mulla¯ Ha¯d¯ı Sabziwa¯r¯ı, Ashtiya¯n¯ı,
useful are Max Horten’s Die philosophischen Systeme der
T:aba¯t:ba¯D¯ı, Ra¯fiE¯ı Qazw¯ın¯ı, and Muh:ammad Amu¯l¯ı (see
spekulativen Theologen im Islam (Bonn, 1912) and my article,
Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s articles on the school of Isfahan and
with R. Caspar and M. El-Khodeiri, “Une somme inédite de
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

théologie moEtazilite: le Moghni du qa¯d:¯ı EAbd al-Jabba¯r,” in
worship. Most Jewish leaders withheld their support when
Mélanges de l’Institut Dominicain d’Études Orientales 4
they realized that to Kalischer the sacrifice renewal was not
(1957): 281–316.
academic and was actually part of a messianic plan. By 1860
For modern developments in India and Pakistan, see Aziz
he realized that focusing only on the agricultural develop-
Ahmad’s Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857–
ment of Palestine would receive wider support; he still be-
1964 (London, 1967); Syed Ameer Ali’s The Spirit of Islam,
lieved that the sacrifice renewal and other messianic events
rev. ed. (London, 1922); A. A. Fyzee’s A Modern Approach
would flow naturally from that. This tactical change has led
to Islam (Bombay, 1963); Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s Modern
some historians to the mistake of describing Kalischer as a
Isla¯m in India, rev. ed. (London, 1972); and Christian Troll’s
Zionist rather than a messianist.
Sayyid Ahmad Khan: A Reinterpretation of Muslim Theology
(New Delhi, 1978).
Kalischer’s writings and activities eventually helped le-
gitimize messianic activism, and religious Jews who regard
Translated from French by Richard J. Scott
the State of Israel as a step toward the messianic age have
adopted his formulation of this ideology.
The only comprehensive examination of Kalischer’s messianic ide-
ology is my Seeking Zion: Modernity and Messianic Activism
in the Writings of Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer
(Oxford; Portland,
Ore., 2003). A complete bibliography of Kalischer’s writings
and secondary literature is included. A critical edition of
Kalischer’s major work, Derishat Tsiyyon (Lyck, 1862), and
most of his messianic writings are collected in Ha-ketavim
ha-tsiyyonim shel ha-Rav Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer,
edited and
with an introduction by Israel Klausner (Jerusalem, 1947).
rabbi, messianic theorist, and activist. Kalischer spent his en-
tire life in the Posen district of Prussia. He received an inten-
sive education in Talmudic literature and independently
studied Jewish philosophy. With his wife’s financial support,
KAMALAS´¯ILA (c. 740–795) was an Indian Buddhist
he pursued a life of community service and scholarship. His
scholar and monk, who was famed for his role in the legend-
works include commentaries on Jewish law, exegeses of the
ary Bsam yas debate in Tibet and for his prolific writings on
Bible and Passover Haggadah, and philosophical studies rec-
Buddhist philosophy and practice. A disciple of S´a¯ntaraks:ita
onciling religion and reason. In his messianic writings he ar-
(c. 725–790), he is known for his strong commitment to in-
gued that Judaism encouraged efforts to accelerate the arrival
ferential reasoning, his integration of diverse schools of Indi-
of the messianic age. Historically, this opinion was accepted
an Buddhism, and his teachings on Buddhist meditation and
by only a few religious authorities; the dominant rabbinic
practice. His many works, preserved mostly in Tibetan, in-
tradition regarded messianic activism as a rebellion against
clude independent philosophical tracts, commentaries on
Maha¯ya¯na Buddhist su¯tras, and an encyclopedic commen-
Starting with the rationalist assumption that God steers
tary on S´a¯ntaraks:ita’s Tattvasam
˙ graha (“Collection of Reali-
the course of history toward the messianic age without abro-
ties”). Although little is known of his life in India, later Ti-
gating natural laws, Kalischer asserted that human participa-
betan sources indicate that Kamala´s¯ıla was a preceptor at the
tion in the redemptive process was essential. He contended
renowned Na¯landa¯ monastic university in present-day Bihar.
that biblical prophecies, when interpreted through the ideol-
THE DEBATE AT BSAM YAS. Historical records show that
ogy of messianic activism, indicated that the messianic age
Kamala´s¯ıla did not accompany S´a¯ntaraks:ita to Tibet but was
would arrive in gradual stages. A nonmiraculous stage, in
summoned there some time after his teacher’s death. Accord-
which the Holy Land would be repopulated and made agri-
ing to legend, near the end of his life S´a¯ntaraks:ita and his
culturally productive by Jews, would be followed by a mirac-
followers at the court of the Tibetan king Khri srong lde
ulous stage consisting of the other features described in bibli-
btsan (c. 740–798) came into conflict with the followers of
cal prophecies. The miraculous stage would be ushered in
Hva-shang Maha¯ya¯na, a Chinese Buddhist monk also resi-
when the Jews reestablished their intimate connection with
dent at the court. At the heart of the dispute was the question
God by offering sacrifices on the rebuilt altar in Jerusalem.
of whether awakening (bodhi), the ultimate goal of these
In 1836, encouraged by European interest in the Jews’
Buddhist practitioners, must be obtained gradually, as
return to Zion and the Orthodox rabbinate’s insistence on
S´a¯ntaraks:ita maintained, or whether it could occur suddenly,
retaining in the liturgy prayers for the restoration of sacrifi-
as held by the Chinese camp. Apparently S´a¯ntaraks:ita fore-
cial worship, Kalischer wrote to Meyer Anschel Rothschild
saw on his deathbed (c. 788) that the followers of Hva-shang
and several influential rabbis about acquiring the Temple
Maha¯ya¯na would gain ground in Tibet, and he therefore
Mount and studying the possibility of restoring sacrificial
asked the king to invite Kamala´s¯ıla from India to challenge
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the Chinese monk to a debate. Kamala´s¯ıla arrived, and the
by rubbing together the wooden sticks of conceptual analy-
debate (or debates—the duration and precise nature of the
sis, which in the end consumes the very concepts that pro-
event is unclear) was held in the presence of the king. Ac-
duced it. When calm abiding and special insight are united
cording to Tibetan records, Kamala´s¯ıla vanquished his op-
in meditation, the practitioner comes to have a nonconcep-
ponent, and the king decreed that henceforth only Indian
tual experience of the essencelessness that had previously
Buddhist practices and texts would be adopted in Tibet. Per-
been determined through conceptual reasoning to be the ul-
haps not surprisingly, Chinese sources claim Hva-shang
timate reality of all things.
Maha¯ya¯na the victor. Despite the lingering uncertainties
about the debate, however, it is certainly the case that the vast
Kamala´s¯ıla’s presentation of the gradual path to awak-
majority of the many Buddhist texts translated into Tibetan
ening in the three Bha¯vana¯kramas has been very influential
over the following centuries was translated from Sanskrit and
among Tibetans, who frequently see the texts as having been
not from Chinese.
written especially for them. To this day, Tibetan lamas often
advise students to implement Kamala´s¯ıla’s instructions on
Kamala´s¯ıla is said to have died in Tibet, murdered by
the generation of compassion and the integration of medita-
assassins who killed him by “squeezing” his kidneys. Because
tive concentration with the wisdom that realizes emptiness.
the dates of both the debate and the death remain somewhat
murky, precisely how much time Kamala´s¯ıla spent in Tibet
that Kamala´s¯ıla wrote in Tibet is the Madhyamaka¯loka. This
is unclear. However, he did stay long enough to compose
is an ambitious treatise on the Madhyamaka or “Middle
four of his most influential works: three texts all bearing the
Way,” school of Indian Buddhist thought that seeks to dem-
title Bha¯vana¯krama (“Stages of Meditation”) and his mag-
onstrate conclusively the negative thesis that things are de-
num opus on Madhyamaka thought, the Madhyamaka¯loka
void of fixed identity or essence (svabha¯va) by employing the
(“Illumination of the Middle Way”).
tools of the Buddhist logical and epistemological traditions.
THE STAGES OF MEDITATION. According to traditional Ti-
In this, the text builds on S´a¯ntaraks:ita’s Madhyamaka¯-
betan accounts, Kamala´s¯ıla wrote the three Bha¯vana¯kramas
lam:ka¯ra (on which Kamala´s¯ıla had already written a sub-
after the Bsam yas debate at the request of King Khri srong
commentary), and indeed, Tibetan sources maintain that
lde btsan to clarify the stages of the gradualist (rim gyis pa)
Kamala´s¯ıla undertook the work due to his concern that his
path to awakening and to refute the doctrines of the sudden-
teacher’s thought might be misunderstood or inappropriate-
ist (cig car ba) approach. The emphasis in these works is on
ly criticized in Tibet. The Madhyamaka¯loka addresses a vari-
the proper way to cultivate one’s mind to become a fully
ety of objections to the Madhyamaka teachings and to the
awakened buddha. Kamala´s¯ıla articulates numerous steps,
arguments that are intended to demonstrate their truth. Ti-
beginning with the generation of compassion and the altruis-
betans have frequently turned to this work as a resource for
tic aspiration to attain awakening for the sake of others. With
working through some of the difficult logical issues that arise
compassion and altruism firmly in place, the practitioner
when attempting to demonstrate essencelessness. This work
next cultivates two distinct mental achievements: calm abid-
is also probably the first Madhyamaka treatise to present a
ing and special insight. Calm abiding refers to the ability to
catalogue of five logical reasons that demonstrate that things
easily rest the mind on a single object without distraction.
are essenceless.
Special insight is the wisdom that realizes that all things are
devoid of any fixed identity or essence. Kamala´s¯ıla’s message
Later Tibetans classify Kamala´s¯ıla, along with S´a¯n-
in these texts is that neither calm abiding nor special insight
taraks:ita, as a member of the Yoga¯ca¯ra-Sva¯tantrika-
alone will do; rather, the two must be united by taking the
Madhyamaka school. In brief, this means that Kamala´s¯ıla is
object of special insight, or “essencelessness” as the focus of
understood, first, as accepting the basic Yoga¯ca¯ra position
single-pointed meditation (calm abiding).
that objects of knowledge do not exist outside the mind and,
second, as endorsing the use of autonomous (svatantra) infer-
One important consequence of Kamala´s¯ıla’s presenta-
ences, that is, inferences that operate independently of the
tion is that it preserves a strong role for rational analysis and
positions held by the two parties in a debate. For many later
conceptual thought on the Buddhist path. That is, whereas
Tibetans, such inferences are improper in the context of
calm abiding is generally understood to be a mental state that
Madhyamaka, because they would require things to have es-
is free from concepts, special insight is brought about
sences to function. Instead, it is preferable for a
through the measured application of conceptual analysis. Al-
Ma¯dhyamika, a follower of the Madhyamaka, to use infer-
though Kamala´s¯ıla agrees that the ultimate state of transcen-
ences that operate on the basis of positions accepted by the
dent wisdom attained in awakening is entirely free from con-
opponent alone, as is held to be the case in the so-called
ceptual thought, he nonetheless stresses that without
Pra¯san˙gika-Madhyamaka school. Although the terms
conceptual analysis one cannot eliminate the negative mental
Sva¯tantrika (Autonomist) and Pra¯san˙gika (Consequentialist)
states and primordial ignorance that are the roots of all the
were not used as doxographical categories in India, their Ti-
suffering in sam:sa¯ra (the beginningless and involuntary chain
betan equivalents became axiomatic in discussions of Mad-
of birth, death, and rebirth fueled by negative acts and igno-
hyamaka in Tibet. Although many Tibetans have expressed
rance). Kamala´s¯ıla likens special insight to a fire produced
qualms about the so-called Sva¯tantrika elements of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Kamala´s¯ıla’s approach to Madhyamaka, he is still widely ad-
KAMI. From a historical and religious viewpoint, what is
mired among Tibetans for his role in defending the gradual-
meant by the Japanese word kami cannot be exhausted by
ist path at the Bsam yas debate, his presentation of Buddhist
the term itself, for it is also often expressed in other terms,
meditation and practice, and the depth and subtlety of his
such as tama (spirits), as well as by names for natural things
philosophical thought.
beginning with such prefixes as mi (sacred), hi (spiritual, sa-
cred forces) and itsu (sacred power). These can refer to con-
SEE ALSO Buddhism, article on Buddhism in Tibet;
crete landscapes of place, sky, mountain, hill, river, sea, or
S´a¯ntiraks:ita; Tibetan Religions, overview article.
forest, or sometimes to the nameless and extraordinary. In
some expressions, the whole universe is permeated by the sa-
Demiéville, Paul. Le concile de Lhasa. Une controverse sur le quiét-
cred kami nature, thus constituting a monistic universe. The
ism entre bouddhistes de l’Inde et de la Chine au VIIe siècle de
characteristics of kami in the early phases of Japanese history
l’ère chrétienne. Paris, 1952. Historical study of the Chinese
share many common elements among the primary religious
and Tibetan records concerning the Bsam yas debate.
traditions of various communities in the world.
Dreyfus, Georges B. F., and Sara L. McClintock, eds. The
CHARACTERISTICS OF KAMI. There are several important
Sva¯tantrika-Pra¯san˙gika Distinction: What Difference Does a
characteristics of kami in the early Japanese expressions. First
Difference Make? Boston, 2003. Collection of articles on the
of all, the kami in the archaic level of religious experience,
Sva¯tantrika-Pra¯san˙gika distinction, with several contribu-
manifests its totality, and it is ambivalent. The term kami re-
tions touching on the Madhyamaka philosophy of
S´a¯ntaraks:ita and Kamala´s¯ıla.
fers to all beings—good and evil—that are awesome and
worthy of reverence. The kami who is in charge of fertility
Gyatso, Tenzin (the XIVth Dalai Lama). Stages of Meditation.
Translated by Ven. Geshe Lobsang Jordhen, Ven. Losang
of a territory or the well-being of its society usually reigns
Choephel Ganchenpa, and Jeremy Russell. Ithaca, N.Y.,
over the territory and can harm or destroy it when disregard-
2001. An excellent introduction to Kamala´s¯ıla’s teachings
ed. And the kami must be well respected; otherwise, it pun-
on Buddhist practice; includes a translation and Tibetan edi-
ishes people. There are numerous cases in which kami reveals
tion of the second Bha¯vana¯krama accompanied by a clear
awesome and dreadful natures, and yet the same awesome
commentary by the Dalai Lama.
kami often shows gentle and loving natures at the same time.
Houston, Garry W. Sources for a History of the bSam yas Debate.
Those kami who are in charge of epidemics have the power
Monumenta Tibetica Historica. Sankt Augustin, Germany,
to spread illness, and also to heal. In that sense, kami is re-
1980. Selections in Tibetan and English from a variety of Ti-
garded as a terrible being who has superhuman powers to
betan sources on the Bsam yas debate.
reign over territory, a being in charge of fertility and well-
Jha, Ganganatha, trans. The Tattvasan˙graha of Sha¯ntaraks:ita with
being. One of the most famous examples appears in the Ko-
the Commentary of Kamalash¯ıla. 2 vols. Baroda, India, 1937;
jiki (chapter 92) that the emperor Chuai had to die because
reprint, Delhi, 1986. The only complete translation of the
he disregarded the will of kami revealed through an oracle.
encyclopedic Tattvasam:graha and its commentary; although
There are many cases of the kami that curses (tatari-gami),
valuable for gaining a sense of the work’s overall structure
and arguments, the work should be used with caution as the
who harms people when disrespected, but bestows blessings
translation is, at points, deeply misleading.
when the kami is well respected.
Keira, Ryusei. Ma¯dhyamika and Epistemology: A Study of
The invisible and concealed Kami. Secondly, the kami
Kamala´s¯ıla’s Method for Proving the Voidness of All Dharmas.
is basically concealed and invisible. The most original seven
Vienna, 2004. The first in-depth study in English of the
kami “at the time of the beginning of heaven and earth” in
Madhyamaka¯loka, Kamala´s¯ıla’s most important philosophi-
Japanese myth, are all “not visible,” or “they hid their bodies”
cal treatise; includes a translation and edition of sections of
in the myth (the Kojiki, pp. 47–48.) There are many evi-
the work’s second chapter.
dences of the invisible nature of kami. As basically concealed
López, Donald S., Jr. A Study of Sva¯tantrika. Ithaca, N.Y., 1987.
and invisible, kami responds to prayer by descending to earth
Exploration of the category of Sva¯tantrika-Madhyamaka
based principally on Tibetan (especially Dge lugs pa) sources.
and dwelling in tangible objects such as sacred space, tree or
rock, or human beings. The prayers are addressed to kami
Seyfort Ruegg, David. Buddha-nature, Mind and the Problem of
Gradualism in a Comparative Perspective: On the Transmission
through ritual, and then, following the ritual, kami returns
and Reception of Buddhism in India and Tibet. London, 1992.
to the invisible world. The above story of the emperor Chuai
An important study of the philosophical concerns underlying
involved the trance of the empress Okinaga-tarashi-hime
the Bsam yas debate.
through whom the invisible kami-spirit delivered the mes-
Tucci, Giuseppe. Minor Buddhist Texts, Parts 1 & 2. Rome, 1956;
sage. Not only in the classical texts, but also in the whole his-
reprint, Delhi, 1986. Includes a Sanskrit edition, Tibetan
tory of Japanese religions, the visible world of religious phe-
edition and English translation of the first Bha¯vana¯krama, as
nomena is intensely affirmed because it is connected to and
well as an extended discussion of the debate at Bsam yas.
sustained by the invisible world of kami-spirits through the
Tucci, Giuseppe. Minor Buddhist Texts, Part 3. Rome, 1971. In-
“seamlessness of the border-space” by various channels of
cludes Sanskrit and Tibetan texts and English translation of
mediation between the two worlds, the visible and the invisi-
the third Bha¯vana¯krama.
ble, the world of kami and that of the human. This seamless-
ness of the border-space as well as the frequent passage of the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

kami-spirit through it ensured the monistic spiritual universe
mentioned. In the Engishiki (Procedures of the Engi era), the
of early Japanese people. (Kitagawa, 1987, pp. 44–45) The
prayers are addressed to various kami, not only to the kami
sacred fall of Nachi, as it is seen, is described and worshipped
of the High Heaven but also to the kami of the earth, such
as the sacred body of kami, as is the sacred mountain of Mi-
as a land, an oven, the kami of road, or the kami of the palace
wayama. They are among the specific examples of the mani-
gate. In other words, each kami was assigned to the specific
festations of kami, which remains, however, basically hidden.
role within the world of meaning in the religious life of the
early Japanese people.
Following the introduction of Buddhism into the Japa-
nese archipelago (c. 550 CE), indigenous religions, now influ-
The kami of locative type and of Utopian type. A
enced by Buddhist expressions, began building shrines and
fifth characteristic of the Japanese kami also manifests the as-
producing fewer kami images. Prior to Buddhism, people
pects of the tutelary kami of local tribes, concrete places,
prayed only at specific iwakura (sacred rocks) or go-shinboku
matters, and affairs, which possess them and are in charge
(sacred trees), or other special places where kami visited in
of them. People pray to the kami of the road, to the kami
response to requests for their presence.
of mountain, or the kami of the river, with offerings, asking
Itinerancy of the kami. A third characteristic of kami
for protection and permission to get through or cross over.
in early Japanese expressions is that it visits, drifts about, but
The kami of the wind, of the fire, or of the oven responds
does not stay in one place forever; it visits sacred places, pos-
to the prayers of the respective person who is concerned with
sessing the medium to deliver oracles in response to requests.
the place. But if he or she ignores the kami, the kami be-
This mobility of kami makes possible the periodic visits by
comes a terrible kami that harms him or her. As is the case
the sacred visitors in various local communities; it also means
with the religious world of primary culture, the kami of the
that kami can have various places to visit or vehicles to pos-
place dominates the place, territory, border, pass, or door-
sess. Kami moves and drifts horizontally and vertically, free-
way, and often they are called by the name of the place, as
ly. It is important to remember Joseph Kitagawa’s remarks
the kami of the doorway, the kami of the pass, or the kami
about the kami spirit moving through the seamless border-
of a particular village. In other words, the kami manifest awe-
space between the human and the divine world, or between
some, terrible natures as well as gentle, loving, fascinating
the world of the living and that of the dead, as evidence of
natures. In the contradistinction with this type of kami, there
this mobility.
are utopian types of kami that drew and attracted people to
the far-away, sacred centers. In the famous millenarian
Kami of different natures. A fourth characteristic of
movement of the tokoyo-gami (kami of the eternal paradise),
kami in this early Japanese world is that it seems that many
people gave up their properties and ran dancing and singing
kami of different natures coexist. This multiplicity has been
to Mt. Fuji, where the kami promised to descend with the
often mistakenly interpreted as a “polytheistic” nature of Jap-
paradise of longevity and wealth. The movement was quickly
anese religious tradition by Japanese scholars in modern
suppressed by the government in 644 CE, the third year of
times. However, these concepts—polytheism, monotheism,
the emperor Kogyoku right before the establishment of the
and pantheism—come from the Western philosopher Ba-
Ritsu-ryo state. Also, various types of pilgrimages were devel-
ruch Spinoza (1632–1677). In other words, they are con-
oped throughout Japanese history, in which people left the
cepts that were imposed upon Japanese religious phenomena
place of their daily life temporarily for the blessings of the
from Western culture, and do not do justice for interpreting
kami in far-away centers.
such phenomena in Japanese history.
Kami in prehistoric cultures. From a historical and
The existence of numerous kami does not necessarily
cultural viewpoint, the tradition of the prehistoric Jomon pe-
mean “polytheism.” In various religious traditions of the
riod (about 10,000 BCE to fourth century CE) embraced the
world there is clear evidence of the dialectic between one god
evidences of the kami closely entwined with the hunting-
and many gods within the same tradition. Japanese history
and-gathering culture, that is, the tradition of the slash-and-
traces the emergence of “monolatory” religions (religions of
burn agriculture as well as that of fishing. The representative
one-god worship) in the serious crisis situations of society in
kami of this tradition were the earth-goddess-type kami of
the late Heian (794–1185 CE) and Kamakura (1185–1333
mountain and of sea. In the Yayoi culture (fourth century
CE) periods, as well as in the late Tokugawa (1600–1868) to
BCE to seventh century CE) the paddy-rice cultivation in the
early Meiji (1868–1912) eras. Yet when the crisis situations
low land areas became the important source of production.
were over and an ordinary life returned, people reverted to
Whereas in the slash-and-burn agricuture, people had to
the world of numerous kami.
move to change the field of cultivation every three to twenty
Early Japanese history also shows the manifestations of
years for the fertile soils, in the paddy-rice cultivation, people
numerous kami the people prayed to. It is possible, therefore,
had to stay in one place to enrich the soil through genera-
to say that one of the important characteristics of early Japa-
tions. In the paddy-rice agriculture tradition, the kami of the
nese history is the coexistence of various kami. In the oldest
land (field), water (rain), sun and moon, as well as the spirit-
Japanese chronicles of the Kojiki (The records of ancient
kami of rice (ina-dama) among others, all with specific and
matters), the names of more than three hundred kami are
articulate functions, were organically integrated and synthe-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

sized into a world of the kami of rice-spirit to constitute a
onryo (the vengeful spirits of the dead) whose lives went un-
pantheon of various kami. The resulting pantheon was the
fulfilled because of their tragic deaths, often through political
basis of the myth of the ancient state.
strife. Still, they were turned into graceful kami in response
THE KAMI IN THE MYTH OF THE STATE. Various kami in the
to the veneration of people.
Kojiki point to the new historical stages into which Japanese
These onryo and kami of goryo became popular among
people entered socially and religiously. In other words, new
the ordinary people, which in itself symbolized the agony of
orientations of the human had entered into Japanese history.
the unfulfilled living and dead. But these kami were also ac-
These were “new” in the sense that they were no longer sim-
cepted as those who would harm people who did not pay due
ply primary; rather, they were the elements of civilization as
respects to the kami. All sectors of Buddhism responded with
the state entered into the story and nature of kami.
various counter-magic against onryo, from which new Bud-
Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801), the founder of the
dhist movements emerged.
Shinto theology of the Tokugawa period, treated the Kojiki
The emergence of these new Buddhist sects, called “Jap-
as the sacred text of the Shinto and came up with the inter-
anese Buddhism,” was preceded by the violent movement of
pretation of Kami as “any entity with unusually powerful
onryo and goryo. Also, through the Heian and Kamakura pe-
spiritual function that imparts a feeling of awe.” His delinea-
riod, syncretic relationships were developed between Japa-
tion of kami is profound and broad. However, it could be
nese kami and foreign kami (Buddha), in which various Japa-
misleading if the Kojiki is treated as the only channel to the
nese kami were interpreted first as an incarnation of Buddha
sacred in Japanese religious tradition.
(honji suijaku), then later reversed—it was kami that had
As is often pointed out, the Kojiki is already colored by
gone to India to become Buddha.
the ideology of the ancient Ritsuryo¯ state. When Motoori in-
The influences of Buddhism remained overwhelmingly
terpreted the historical events by going back to the Kojiki,
strong in the Kamakura period. During the Tokugawa peri-
the interpretation itself was influenced by the state ideology
od, however, neo-Confucian ideologues began interpreting
of ancient Japan. The Kojiki is the text that interprets the ori-
the indigenous tradition of Shinto as separate from Bud-
gin of the state in the genealogy of various kami; therefore
dhism. This tendency was most clearly seen in the develop-
all kami in this text are situated in the story for the legitimat-
ment of National Learning represented by Motoori’s study
ization of the state. Here, kami tend to have a more imper-
of the Kojiki, in which he attempted to wipe away all foreign
sonal nature, and all kami are organized in the mythic struc-
influences in the study and interpretation of the Kojiki. Fur-
ture of the state as the originator and ancestors of the state,
thermore, Motoori’s interpretation of the Kojiki as the sacred
as well as of the people and their descendants. The kami of
text, as well as his way of understanding kami, was suc-
the High Heaven and earthly kami are organized into the
ceeded—and developed more nationalistically—by A.
ideology of the unity of the state. The divinity that once was
Hirata and later theologians. In this scholarhip, kami and the
the tutelary kami of some specific local clan or village com-
Buddha were not only separated from each other theoretical-
munity is thus separated from the community and developed
ly, but also practically. This concept of kami, and this tradi-
into the tutelary kami of the whole state-land—the ancestor
tion of interpretation, is therefore also a new development.
kami of the nation. But evidence in folklore and in Japanese
texts indicates that people have experienced kami not spoken
SYNCRETIC RELIGIONS. One of the problems of kami in folk
about in the Kojiki and the Engishiki. Such a variety of kami
and popular religions is that Buddhists practially lost their
is observed in the later development of Japanese history.
religious freedom during the Tokugawa period. This was un-
BUDDHISM AND KAMI. When Buddhism was introduced
dertaken by the jidan seido, the Tokugawa neo-Confucian re-
into Japan, the Buddha was treated as a foreign kami. Soon,
gime’s control of the Buddhist temples as the official temples
however, Buddhism and Shinto began interacting, and with
to which all people had to register to be certified as a non-
the establishment of the ancient state, Buddhist schools, the
member of malicious religions, including Chrisianity. Shinto
Shinto pantheon, Confucian ideology, and Yin-Yang Daoist
shrines were also controlled as one of the official religions
specialists were all organized into and monopolized by the
under the the regime. People’s religious needs were thus met
government system of the Ritsuryo¯ state during the Nara
by the emergence of numerous phenomena of fragmented—
(710–784 CE) and most of the Heian period. When persons
but very rich—elements of the syncretic integration of folk
belonging to these religions were controlled by the govern-
religion, such as pilgrimage movements and folk religious
ment, various folk-religious movements emerged spontane-
practices of various magico-religious activities (e.g., divina-
ously to fulfill the needs of the populace outside of the re-
tions, amulets, incantations, and many kinds of prayer in
ligio-political hierarchy of the government.
urban and rural areas).
Various crises during the Nara and Heian period, in-
From the lower strata of society, then, three (popular)
cluding the gradual erosion of the state system of Ritsuryo¯
founded religions—the Kurozumi, the Konko, and Tenri—
and repeated famines and epidemics in the central Japan, led
emerged spontaneously through the religious experiences of
to a new expression of kami known as the goryo-shin (the Sa-
each of their founders. Each of these religions, while critically
cred Spirit-Kami). The kami of the goryo were originally the
reassessing their contemporary civilization and the structure
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

of society including Buddhism and Shinto, created univers-
Mabuchi was born on March 4, 1697, into the Okabe
alistic and egalitarian teachings in which all the influences
family, descendants of the overseers of Kamo Shrine in
of Buddhism, Shinto, Confucianism, and Taoism were or-
Kyoto, at Iba, O
¯ mi province (modern Shizuoka Prefecture).
ganically blended together but integrated through their reli-
Mabuchi’s father was a Shinto¯ priest and part-time farmer
gious experience on the basis of strong undercurrents of folk
who encouraged his son to write poetry. At the age of ten
religion. They had all-inclusive kami in the center of their
(eleven by Japanese count) Mabuchi, who received initial in-
teaching, and they responded to the religious needs of the
struction from the poet Kada Masako and then from her re-
alienated. These three religions thus became the historical
nowned husband, Sugiura Kuniakira, began taking active
prototypes of new religions in modern Japan.
part in poetry tournaments.
Another point is that through the contact with the
At the age of twenty-five, Mabuchi made the acquain-
Western powers, Japanese people achieved the Meiji restora-
tance of Kada Azumamaro (1668–1736), scholar of classical
tion—the establishment of the new unity of the state by re-
studies and headmaster of the school of National Learning
storing the sacred emperor, the living-kami, as the descen-
(Kokugaku) in Kyoto. Through his association with Watana-
dant of the sun goddess Amaterasu. This allowed them to
be Myo¯an, a scholar of Ogyu¯ Sorai’s school of Ancient Rhet-
achieve a modernization and westernization of Japan—the
oric (Kobunjigaku), Mabuchi met the Confucian Dazai
powerful modern state. The living kami, as the focal point
Shundai, who introduced him to the study of classics in the
of national identity and indigenous culture, thus came to be
manner developed by Sorai. Later, as he turned away from
exposed to the secular history of the modern international
Chinese influences to embrace things Japanese, Mabuchi re-
struggles. This is indeed a new, paradoxical context for Japa-
pudiated the scholarship of the members of the Sorai school
nese kami. In addition, through the missionary activities of
as the work of eccentrics.
Christian groups the notion of the Japanese kami came to
In 1734, after enrolling in Kada Azumamaro’s school,
be influenced by the notion of the god of transcendence, for
Mabuchi began work on the eighth-century collection of po-
Christian missionaries applied the Japanese word kami to ex-
etry known as the Man’yo¯shu¯. Following Kada’s death in
plain their god, Yahweh, or the absolute.
1736, Mabuchi moved to the capital at Edo (modern
SEE ALSO Japanese Religions, article on The Study of
Tokyo), but returned frequently to Iba, for he believed it was
Myths; New Religious Movements, article on New Reli-
possible to see the reality of human existence in the naiveté
gious Movements in Japan; Shinto¯; Study of Religion, arti-
of the rural people. Thus he developed his concept of society
cle on The Academic Study of Religion in Japan; Transcul-
based on an agricultural economic model combined with the
turation and Religion, article on Religion in the Formation
Daoist principle of natural life. At the same time, he com-
of Modern Japan.
posed poetry and participated in poetry competitions. In
1742, he joined the service of Lord Tayasu, a member of the
Tokugawa family, as a teacher of classical studies.
Bock, Felicia G., trans. The Engi-shiki (The procedures of the Engi
era). Tokyo, 1972.
Opposing the tradition that saw the right of succession
Hardekar, Helen. Shinto and the State, 1868-1988. Princeton,
in schools of scholarship passed down through families, Ma-
N.J., 1991.
buchi considered himself the successor to the Kada school.
The number of his followers increased to almost 350, and
Kitagawa, Joseph M. Religion in Japanese History. New York, l966.
three subschools emerged. In 1763, when Mabuchi was re-
Kitagawa, Joseph M. On Understanding Japanese Religion. Prince-
turning from a trip to the Yamato area (modern Nara), he
ton, N.J., 1987.
met Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801), his future successor
Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai, trans. The Mannyo¯-shu¯ (Collection
and a leading figure in the National Learning school.
of leaves). Princeton, N.J., 1981.
Philippi, Donald L, trans. The Kojiki (Records of ancient matters).
It was Mabuchi’s aim to understand the terminology
Tokyo, 1969.
and ideology of ancient (pre-Nara) times. He advocated ad-
Shigeyoshi Murakami. Japanese Religion in the Modern Century.
herence to Shinto¯ doctrine and a return to the “natural” con-
Translated by H. Byron Earhart. Tokyo, 1980.
cepts of the ancient period as a means of discovering the su-
Susumu Ono. Kami (in Japanese). Tokyo, 1997.
preme and correct kokoro (“soul, spirit”) of the Japanese
people. Influences from China and Confucian ideology were,
Tetsuo Yamaori. Kami to Hotoke (Kami and buddhas). Tokyo,
in his interpretation, unnatural. In opposition to the princi-
ples set down by Confucians and Buddhists, Mabuchi
stressed the philosophy of nonaction, or naturalness, by
which it would be possible to unite one’s kokoro with the
spirit of the universe. He maintained that “artificial” knowl-
KAMO NO MABUCHI (1697–1769), Japanese
edge, such as that propounded by Confucians and Bud-
scholar of classical studies in the Tokugawa period (1600–
dhists, would only harm the spirit of the people. Therefore,
1868); he wrote classical poetry under the pen names Sho¯jyo¯,
since Japan’s ancient period was based on what was pure and
Moryo¯, Iyo¯, and Agatai.
natural, it was essential that there be a return to the things
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

of the past. In adoration of such an ideal concept, he at-
as the state religion. This position was partly a response to
tempted to revive the spirit of the classical times not only
the cultural and political crises that China was undergoing
through the doctrines he propounded, but also in his style
at the time. By revitalizing Confucianism, Kang hoped to
of clothing and the furnishings of his home. He studied an-
strengthen China’s self-esteem and national solidarity. But
cient poetry and literature as a means of practicing the princi-
his call for the “preservation of the faith” must not be seen
ples of old, thereby setting a high value on the myths of
solely in this practical light; it was also the culmination of
Japan’s ancestral gods, the emperor, and the elements of
a moral and spiritual quest that had started in his early youth.
Kang Yuwei was born to a family of scholars and offi-
Mabuchi pointed to the virtuous character of a bright,
cials in Nanhai County, Guangdong Province. His father
naive, and pure kokoro, a soul that was brave, honest, and
died while Kang was still a child, and thereafter his grandfa-
gentle. This type of spirit would only manifest itself in a sub-
ther, a devoted Neo-Confucian scholar, personally took
ject who was courageous and loyal to the emperor. Yet he
charge of the boy’s education. Shortly before the age of twen-
did not regard the Tokugawa regime as suppressive of the in-
ty, Kang entered a period of spiritual restlessness, triggered
terests of the emperor but rather praised its founding ruler,
by the sudden death of his grandfather and by the beginning
Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616), for establishing a govern-
of his subsequent apprenticeship under an inspiring Confu-
ment with Shinto¯ as its base.
cian teacher. He rebelled against his conventional Confucian
education and temporarily withdrew from society altogether.
SEE ALSO Kokugaku.
Plunging into a frantic intellectual search, he fell under the
influence of various non-Confucian persuasions, especially
Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism, philosophical Daoism, and “Western
One may find useful the details concerning the poetry of Kamo
no Mabuchi in the book by Tamura Yoshinobu entitled
Kamo no Mabuchi wakashu¯ no kenkyu¯ (Tokyo, 1966). The
Kang’s intellectual quest finally culminated in the for-
following biographical accounts are recommended for their
mation of a moral and historical worldview that he expressed
detail: Koyama Tadashi’s Kamo no Mabuchi den (Tokyo,
in a series of writings published in the decade from the early
1938), and Terada Yasumasa’s Kamo no Mabuchi sho¯gai to
1890s to the early 1900s. Based on a bold and comprehen-
gyo¯seki (Hamamatsu, 1979). Descriptions of Mabuchi’s reli-
sive reinterpretation of Confucianism that centered on the
gious philosophy can be found in O
¯ ishi Arata’s Kamo Ma-
pivotal Confucian ideal of ren (human-heartedness), this
buchi (Tokyo, 1942) and in Araki Yoshio’s Kamo no Ma-
view also reflected, in its redefinition of ren, ang’s interest in
buchi no hito to shiso¯ (Tokyo, 1943). On the scholarship of
non-Confucian thought. Ren provided Kang with a world-
Mabuchi, see Inoue Minoru’s Kamo no Mabuchi no gakumon
(Tokyo, 1943). For Inoue’s evaluation of the accomplish-
view that saw the essential and ultimate state of the cosmos
ments of Mabuchi and his successors, see his Kamo no Ma-
as a selfless all-encompassing whole. Kang also retained the
buchi no gyo¯seki to monryu¯ (Tokyo, 1966). The part that the
Confucian belief central to ren that the intrinsic goal of
interest in agriculture played in forming his philosophy is
human existence is the moral perfection of individual and so-
taken up by Saegusa Yasutaka in Kamo no Mabuchi, jimbutsu
ciety. But his definition of moral perfection bears the pro-
so¯sho (Tokyo, 1962).
found influence of non-Confucian thought, for his vision of
the ideal society, the “great unity” (datong), was that of a uni-
New Sources
Nosco, Peter. Remembering Paradise: Nativism and Nostalgia in
versal moral community where egalitarianism, libertarian-
Eighteenth-Century Japan. Cambridge, U.K., 1990.
ism, and hedonism would prevail. Since his conception of
hedonism resulted from the impact of the materialistic doc-
Okumura Ko¯saku. Kamo no Mabuchi: den to uta. Tokyo, 1996.
trines of Western industrial society, his ideal society offered
Saigusa Yasutaka. Kamo no Mabuchi. Tokyo, 1987.
the radical combination of moral perfection, technological
development, and material abundance.
Translated from Japanese by Irene M. Kunii
Revised Bibliography
The radical tendencies in Kang’s conception of ren were
tempered by his teleological notion of histroy heavily influ-
enced by the modern Western thought. In his view, the full
realization of the ideal can be attained only through the grad-
KANG YUWEI (1858–1927), political reformer and
ual course of historical developement. Borrowing a scheme
Confucian thinker of modern China. Kang Yuwei first at-
from an ancient commentary on the Confucian classic Chun
tained national prominence as leader of the political reform
qiu, Kang took the view that human history evolves through
movement that ended in the defeat of the Hundred Days Re-
three stages, from “the age of chaos,” which lay in the past,
form of 1898. Although primarily political, the movement
through an intermediate age of “emerging peace,” to the final
also had a spiritual and moral dimension. Kang called not
stage of “universal peace,” or “great unity,” to be realized in
only for the “protection of the nation” but also for the “pres-
the future. Kang insisted that it was for this latter age alone
ervation of the faith,” by which he meant the spiritual revital-
that his radical reevaluation of ren was appropriate. He be-
ization of Confucianism and the promotion of its teachings
lieved that, meanwhile, in the era preceding the “age of great
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

unity,” many of the conventional values of Confucianism re-
In 1740 Kant entered the University of Königsberg,
mained relevant. These were the tenets of the moral-
where he studied science and philosophy for six years. After
historical worldview that lay at the core of his efforts to have
graduation, he earned his living as a private tutor for a num-
Confucianism accepted as a state religion.
ber of East Prussian families. During this period he kept up
Kang’s reform movement culminated in 1898, when,
his studies and earned his master’s degree at the university
under his guidance, the Guangxu emperor attempted to put
in 1755, which allowed him to teach as a privatdocent, a pri-
into practice a wide-ranging program of political reform.
vate lecturer accepted as a member of the faculty without
The intervention of the dowager empress Cixi, who moved
compensation from the university. He occupied this finan-
to imprison the emperor and nullify the imperial edicts little
cially precarious and academically undistinguished position
more than three months after they were issued, brought
for fifteen years. In 1770 he was appointed professor of logic
Kang’s reforms to an abortive end. Together with his student
and metaphysics.
Liang Qichao, Kang fled China and began an exile that lasted
While holding this position, Kant produced a stream of
until 1913. During this period he continued his reformist ef-
masterpieces. His best-known works are his three critiques:
forts abroad and traveled extensively, deepening his under-
the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), the Critique of Practical
standing of the social and political forces that were shaping
Reason (1788), and the Critique of Judgment (1790). These
the modern world.
three volumes expound Kant’s critical idealism, or critical
Upon his return to China, Kang resumed his efforts to
philosophy, which has also been known as Kantianism.
implement the promotion of Confucianism as a state reli-
Kantianism was the first phase of German Idealism, which
gion. Convinced that the revolution of 1911, in which the
gained fuller development in the writings of Johann Fichte
traditional monarchy had been replaced by a republican
(1762–1814), Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854), and G. W.
form of government, had only served to impede the historical
F. Hegel (1770–1831). Kant’s religious ideas not only con-
evolution of the ideal society, he joined the warlord Zhang
stitute essential features of his critical philosophy but also
Xun in an ill-fated attempt to restore Manchu rule in 1917.
play a pivotal role in the transition from his critical idealism
In the writings of his later years, Kang remained faithful to
to the absolute idealism of his intellectual successors.
the interpretation of Confucianism that he had formulated
KANTIANISM AS A WORLDVIEW. Kantianism was an attempt
in the 1890s, but, because the intellectual climate of China
to reconcile British empiricism and continental rationalism.
had changed, his views never regained their former influence.
British empiricism had been developed by a succession of
British and Scottish philosophers, namely, Thomas Hobbes
(1588–1679), John Locke (1632–1704), George Berkeley
Hsiao Kung-chuan. A Modern China and a New World: K’ang Yu-
(1685–1753), and David Hume (1711–1776). Continental
wei, Reformer and Utopian, 1858–1927. Seattle, 1975.
rationalism had been advocated by René Descartes (1596–
Lo Jung-pang, ed. and trans. K’ang Yu-wei: A Biography and a
1650), Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716), and Christian Wolff
Symposium. Tucson, 1967.
(1679–1754). During his formative years, Kant learned his
Thompson, Laurence G., trans. Ta T’ung Shu: The One-World
philosophy from Leibnizians and Wolffians, but he later
Philosophy of K’ang Yu-wei. London, 1958.
came to appreciate the importance of empiricism, especially
Hume’s theory of ideas.
Fang Delin. Ruxue di Weiji yu Shanbian: Kang Youwei Yu Jindai
Ruxue. Taipei, 1992.
The central point of the dispute between rationalists
Zang Shijun. Kang Youwei datong Sixiang Yenjiu. Guangdong,
and empiricists was the theory of ideas. Since all our ideas
are derived from sensation, the empiricists maintained, the
objects of sensation are the only proper objects of knowledge.
AO CHANG (1987 AND 2005)
In opposition to this view, the rationalists argued that some
of our ideas are not derived from sensation but are innate to
reason. They further claimed that these innate ideas give us
a knowledge of supersensible reality such as God. The idea
of a supersensible reality, although espoused by some early
empiricists, became unpopular with the later empiricists, be-
(1724–1804), German philoso-
cause they considered it incompatible with empiricism. This
pher. Kant was born in Königsberg, a provincial town in East
later tendency of empiricism amounted to recognizing sensi-
Prussia. He grew up in a religious family of relatively low so-
ble reality, or the physical world, as the only reality. Thus
cial status. His father was a saddler, and both his parents were
the dispute that had begun with the epistemological issue
dedicated members of the Pietist movement, which stressed
concerning the origin of ideas came to have the ontological
the interior devotion of the heart in opposition to the pre-
implication of admitting or not admitting any reality beyond
vailing Lutheran practice of external observances. The spirit
the domain of sensation.
of Pietism pervaded not only Kant’s family but also the Col-
legium Fridericianum, a local school, where he received his
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a critical assessment of
early education from 1732 to 1740.
these two contending views. He holds that there are two
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

kinds of ideas: those derived from sense and those innate to
and exposes their common error, namely, the error of em-
reason. The latter are the a priori elements of cognition; the
ploying a priori concepts beyond the domain of sensibility.
former are its a posteriori elements. These two are equally
The immortality of the soul, the freedom of will, and
indispensable for human knowledge. Kant is emphatic on
the existence of God are three of the central dogmas in many
the mutual dependence of sensibility and understanding:
religions. That none of them can be proved, however, should
“Percepts without concepts are blind; concepts without per-
not be mistaken to mean that they can be disproved. Kant
cepts are empty.” Although the domain of knowledge is lim-
is emphatic on this point. A transcendental assertion can nei-
ited to the domain of sensation, as the empiricists claimed,
ther be proved nor be disproved, because sensibility is essen-
Kant argues, knowledge of sense objects requires the use of
tial not only for proofs but also for disproofs. Hence the
a priori concepts such as the concept of cause and effect. He
three religious dogmas can still be regarded as possible truths
derives twelve a priori concepts from twelve forms of judg-
of the supersensible reality. As such, they can be accepted in
ment and calls them the categories of understanding. He uses
the categories to construct a priori principles of understand-
ing, which function as the framework for organizing the ob-
Kant demarcates matters of faith from matters of fact.
jects of sensation.
The latter are the objects of knowledge; the former are the
This epistemological compromise between rationalism
objects of belief. The objects of knowledge are situated in the
and empiricism has the following ontological consequence:
world of phenomena; the objects of faith belong to the world
Kant maintains that the objects of sensation are not reality
of noumena. The objects of faith transcend the domain of
itself (things-in-themselves) but its appearance. He bases this
sensibility, while the objects of knowledge are immanent in
claim largely on his argument that space and time are not
it. Although theoretical reason cannot settle the question of
objective entities but subjective forms of intuition, that is,
accepting or rejecting the objects of faith, Kant says, practical
the manner in which human beings are given objects of sen-
reason has a way of ruling over their admissibility.
sation. Since all objects of sensation are given through space
KANTIANISM AS A MORAL VIEW. Practical reason is the ratio-
and time, Kant holds, they cannot be objective realities.
nal faculty concerned with human conduct, and a critical ex-
They are only appearances to us. Kant calls these appearances
amination of this faculty is given in his second critique, the
“phenomena” and the things-in-themselves “noumena.”
Critique of Practical Reason. Kant recognizes two mainsprings
Unlike phenomena, noumena are not located in space
for human conduct: the will and the inclination. The inclina-
and time; nor are they given as objects of sensation. They are
tion is the working of our desires and feelings, which are sub-
the supersensible realities. That the domain of knowledge is
ject to the causal laws of the phenomenal world. The will is
limited to the world of phenomena means that we can never
the rational faculty for moral actions. Unless the freedom of
know the true reality but only its appearances. That we can
this faculty is presupposed, Kant says, it makes no sense to
have no knowledge of noumena, however, does not mean
talk of the moral worth of human conduct. Since freedom
that we have no ideas about them. Kant maintains that we
is impossible in the phenomenal world of causal necessity,
have a priori ideas about the supersensible reality. But to have
it can be accepted only as an entity belonging to the noume-
these ideas is not to know the world of noumena, because
nal world. Kant calls the noumenal world the domain of free-
there is no way of proving their truth or falsity.
dom and the phenomenal world the domain of necessity.
Thus he installs the noumenal world as the practical ground
In Kant’s view, knowledge is inseparable from the
for morality and the freedom of the will as the first postulate
power of demonstrating the truth or falsity of an idea, and
(presupposition) of practical reason.
that power is inexorably limited to the domain of sensibility.
For this reason, knowledge is limited to the world of phe-
Besides the postulate of freedom, Kant says, two other
nomena. The rationalists have assumed that the truths of a
postulates are demanded by morality: the existence of God
priori ideas can be demonstrated by rational arguments
and the immortality of the soul. The immortality of the soul
alone, that is, without appealing to sensibility. But rationalist
is required for moral perfection. Our inclination has the nat-
arguments divorced from the constraint of sensibility can
ural propensity to go against the moral dictates of pure rea-
produce only sophistical illusions and confusions, according
son, and our moral perfection can be achieved by transform-
to Kant. He gives the name “transcendental dialectic” to the
ing this natural propensity into the willing obedience to the
pseudoscience constituted by those sophistical arguments,
moral law. Since this moral transformation of the soul is infi-
because they are dialectical arguments transcending the do-
nitely time-consuming, it can be accomplished only if the
main of sensibility.
soul continues to live after the death of its body. For this rea-
son, Kant says, the postulate of the immortality of the soul
Kant recognizes three branches of transcendental dialec-
is dictated by the practical ideal of moral perfection.
tic: transcendental psychology, transcendental cosmology,
and transcendental theology. These three are supposed to
In Kant’s ethics, the ideal of moral perfection is insepa-
prove the immortality of the soul, the freedom of the will,
rably connected with another practical ideal, the notion of
and the existence of God. In the Critique of Pure Reason,
the complete good (summum bonum). Kant defines it as the
Kant provides a systematic examination of their arguments
harmony of moral perfection and happiness (natural good).
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He regards moral perfection as the absolutely necessary con-
of morality. Kant rejects such externalism because it is in-
dition for rendering human beings worthy of happiness. In
compatible with the autonomy of practical reason.
this world, however, happiness can be denied to a person
In Kant’s view, externalism is the anthropomorphic
morally worthy of it, while it can be given to a person moral-
misconception of God and his relation to us, that is, the error
ly unworthy of it. The dispensation of happiness in propor-
of understanding God as someone like a powerful human
tion to each person’s moral worth is their harmony, that is,
being who demands our service and devotion. This miscon-
the ideal of the complete good. This ideal can, Kant main-
ception lies behind the religions of what Kant calls “cultus
tains, be fulfilled only by God in the other world. This is the
externus.” These religions impose on their devotees a set of
third and the final postulate of practical reason.
obligations or observances that consists of prayers, rituals,
Kant’s third postulate has sometimes been known as the
services, and various prohibitions. Furthermore, the gods of
moral proof for the existence of God, and as such it has been
these religions are assumed to be pleased or displeased by the
the object of many disputes and misunderstandings. But to
performance or nonperformance of these religious duties.
call it a proof is highly misleading; a “proof” for the existence
Most of these religions have specially ordained experts called
of God generally means the demonstration or assurance of
priests, ministers, or shamans, who have the power of offici-
his existence. In Kantianism, as we have already seen, dem-
ating and facilitating the performance of religious duties.
onstration or assurance can be given only for the objects of
Cultus externus, Kant insists, makes no sense to anyone
the phenomenal world. Therefore the reasons Kant gives for
who correctly understands the nature of God as the most
the existence of God cannot constitute a proof. It is only a
perfect being, that is, omniscient, omnipotent, and, above
postulate. Whereas a proof can give certainty or assurance,
all, morally perfect. It makes no sense to render any service
a postulate can give only possibility, a supersensible ground
to such a being, because he is in need of nothing and can
for hope.
derive no benefit from our services. Even the praise of his
Kant’s notion of rational postulates is inseparable from
perfection cannot add anything to his perfection any more
his ideal of practical rationality. To regard the harmony of
than flattery can to his honor. God does not need our prayers
moral and natural goods as an ideal of practical reason means
to find out what we need. Nor can he be moved by our sup-
that the world in which this ideal is fulfilled is a rational one
plication, because his mind is governed only by moral dic-
and, conversely, that the world in which it is not fulfilled is
tates. The cultus externus can fulfill none of the religious
an irrational one. It is impossible to find out whether our
functions that it has been assumed to fulfill.
world is ultimately rational or irrational in this regard. As ra-
Kant uses the label “natural religion” to designate his
tional beings, however, we can, for practical purposes, opt
view of religion, because it can be fully comprehended by the
and hope for the possibility that our world is ultimately ratio-
natural power of human reason, that is, without the aid of
nal. If this possibility is to be true, Kant argues, there must
supernatural revelation. Kant’s idea of natural religion may
be a God who assures the harmony of moral and natural
appear to reduce religion to morality. But he insists that nat-
goods for every moral being. This is all that is meant by this
ural religion retains all the essential features of traditional re-
and other postulates of practical reason.
ligions. In his view, those features are the moral attributes
and functions of the supreme being, as the holy lawgiver, the
Kant’s philosophy, God does not stand as a power that has
benevolent ruler, and the just judge. Any other attributes of
its own laws and commands different from the moral law and
God such as omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence
its dictates. What God demands from ethical subjects is none
are only supplementary to his moral attributes; they are the
other than what is dictated by moral reason. To do the will
requisite conditions for discharging his moral functions.
of God is to perform the duties of the moral imperative.
Kant argues that Christianity is the only moral religion,
There is no way to please God other than to be morally per-
while the others are servile religions. The central function of
fect. To be religious is to be moral; to be moral is to be reli-
servile religions is to curry favor from the supernatural pow-
gious. As far as human behavior is concerned, morality and
ers; they place human beings in a servile relation to those
religion are functionally identical, and their functional iden-
powers. This servile relation has, Kant holds, been trans-
tity is expressed in Kant’s statement that religion and God
formed into a moral one by Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus trans-
are internal to morality.
formed the “old” law of Moses, the rules for external obser-
vance, into the “new” law, the rules for internal disposition.
Kant’s internalism, as he admits, goes against the tradi-
Kant finds Jesus’ moral interpretation of religious life most
tional view that assumes an external relation between morali-
conspicuously in his Sermon on the Mount, and he reads its
ty and religion. In general, the traditional religions portray
concluding remark—“Therefore be perfect, as your heavenly
God as a powerful being, whose will is independent of our
father is!”—as an exhortation for moral perfection.
will, whose commands can override even our moral dictates,
and whose favor can be sought by special rituals and devo-
In Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793),
tions. In short, the traditional religions stand on the exis-
Kant offers his moral interpretation of Christian dogmas.
tence of powers and values external to the powers and values
The dogma of original sin concerns our innate propensity to
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

do evil, which is to flout the maxims of duty and to succumb
ral religion can be discovered by natural reason, revelation
to the maxims of inclination. Kant regards it as a superstition
makes easier their discovery and propagation. Since he recog-
to believe that this propensity was generated by Adam’s fall
nizes only the practical value of expedition, he rejects the tra-
from grace and then passed on to his posterity. On the con-
ditional distinction between natural and revealed religion. As
trary, Kant holds that the innate propensity to go against the
in Christianity, he says, a natural religion can be a revealed
moral law is in the very nature of man. No doubt, original
human nature is said to be good. This original goodness,
Since natural religion belongs to the pure practical rea-
however, is not incompatible with the innate propensity to
son, Kant asserts the unity of all religions. There is only one
do evil. The original goodness of man means the freedom to
true religion, he says, although there can be many different
obey the moral law by disciplining and mastering inclina-
faiths. He distinguishes the particular ecclesiastical faiths
tions. Hence, original goodness and the innate propensity to
from pure religious faith. Whereas pure faith consists of the
evil are two essential features of every human being.
ideals of practical reason, the particular faiths are the mani-
Kant interprets the incarnation of God in Christ not as
festations of those ideals through the historically instituted
a miracle of the supernatural order but as the manifestation
churches. Since the formation and development of those in-
of a moral ideal. As moral agents, he says, all of us have the
stitutions have been influenced by historical contingencies,
ideal of a morally perfect human being. Such an ideal, if ever
Kant holds, the ecclesiastical faiths are bound to show their
realized in this world, can be called an incarnate God, be-
differences. Nevertheless, he is confident that they can still
cause the ideal in question belongs to pure practical reason,
display the unity of pure religious faith insofar as they are
whose dictates are one with the dictates of God. Kant calls
faithful to their original ideals.
the ideal of moral perfection the archetype of moral life. But
KANT’S CRITICS AND HIS INFLUENCE. Kant’s idea of natural
this archetype, he insists, cannot be identified with Jesus
religion provoked the charge among his contemporaries that
Christ himself. For he is only an instance or example, while
he was a Deist. Deism was the view, prevalent among the sci-
the archetype belongs to all of us as agents of practical reason.
entific-minded intellectuals of the eighteenth century, that
The relation of archetype and example, Kant says, is
God does not intervene in the running of the universe be-
misrepresented in the traditional dogma of the incarnation,
cause it has been placed under the working of immutable
which exalts Jesus as a member of the Holy Trinity. He re-
laws since its creation. Kant categorically denied the charge
gards the dogma of the Trinity as theoretically incomprehen-
of being a Deist and attributed it to the misrepresentation
sible and practically unserviceable. If the Son of God is so
of his position.
exalted as to stand above all human temptations and strug-
The misrepresentation in question was largely due to
gles, he is too remote from our existence to serve as a useful
Kant’s skeptical attitude toward miracles, God’s interven-
model. The value of the Son of God as our practical model
tions par excellence in the running of the world. Because
lies in his essential identity with all human beings, and every
miracles contravene the laws of nature, they cannot be recon-
human being who strives to achieve moral perfection can be
ciled with the use of reason. Both in theoretical and practical
called a son of God, a man well-pleasing to God.
functions, human reason appears crippled in the presence of
Kant interprets the kingdom of God as an ethical com-
miracles. Furthermore, he says, miracles are not essential for
monwealth, a community of moral agents each of whom
the functions of true religion, because these functions can
treats the other as an end-in-itself by obeying the moral law.
stand securely on moral beliefs alone. In fact, any demand
He distinguishes the ethical commonwealth from the politi-
for miracles as the authentication of religious beliefs betrays
cal commonwealth by virtue of the former’s freedom from
the lack of firm faith in the authority of moral commands,
coercion. Whereas the power of coercion is indispensable for
which are engraved upon the heart of man through reason.
the maintenance of a political commonwealth, the freedom
Because of this, Kant says, Christ rebuked the miracle-
of the will is sufficient for the administration of an ethical
seekers: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not be-
commonwealth. The constitution of such a harmonious
lieve” (Jn. 4:48). In spite of these reservations about miracles,
community, Kant says, becomes possible only through the
Kant categorically refused to impugn their possibility or real-
moral rebirth of its members, which involves the radical
transformation of their hearts from the propensity to follow
Another charge against Kant was that he compromised
inclination into the willing obedience to the moral law, that
his doctrine of moral autonomy by retaining the traditional
is, through conversion. The same moral transformation is re-
doctrine of grace. Grace, for Kant, means God’s help; it pre-
quired for the admission to the ethical commonwealth.
supposes man’s weakness, dependence, and heteronomy.
Kant shows special caution in handling the claims of su-
The Pietists under whose influence Kant had grown up
pernatural revelation. He rejects the claim that revelation has
stressed the indispensability of grace and tended to take a
the authority of discovering and authenticating the supernat-
passive attitude toward life. Kant rejects this passive attitude
ural truths inaccessible to human intelligence. He also rejects
and praises the positive value of active efforts in moral life.
the view that revelation is totally gratuitous with respect to
Nevertheless, he admits the possibility that even our best ef-
the discovery of religious truths. Although the truths of natu-
forts may fail to secure moral perfection. In that event, he
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

says, we can hope that God will, in his wisdom and goodness,
descent of the transcendent reality to the immanent level.
make up for our shortcomings.
The post-Kantians completed this process of descent and
converted Kant’s theism into pantheism. Kant’s transcen-
His critics have pointed out that man is not a truly au-
dent God became their immanent force in history.
tonomous moral agent if even his best moral efforts are not
enough to secure his moral perfection. They have further ar-
The resulting pantheism also resolved the tension in
gued that Kant’s notion of moral autonomy is also incompat-
Kant’s notion of human autonomy. Although he claimed au-
ible with his notion of the complete good. In their view, the
tonomy and independence for moral life, he acknowledged
intimate connection between worthiness and happiness
heteronomy and dependence for happiness. He stressed this
makes morality too dependent on the idea of happiness,
admixture of dependence and independence in his notion of
which is admittedly outside the control of a moral agent.
the complete good and the postulate for the existence of
Kant had guarded himself against this charge by stressing
God. But this admixture was unacceptable to his successors,
that the connection in question was a matter of belief rather
because they insisted on the total autonomy of human rea-
than knowledge. Even if it is only a belief, his critics have
son. The totally autonomous human reason became indistin-
maintained, it compromises the notion of moral autonomy
guishable from the immanent God, and the two-in-one came
as long as it is acted upon in the practical world.
to be called the “Absolute Spirit” by Hegel. With Kant, reli-
gion and morality became functionally identical; with Hegel,
Perhaps the most serious charge against Kant was ad-
God and man were given their ontological identity.
dressed to his demarcation between phenomena and nou-
mena. At the time he was concluding his second critique, the
SEE ALSO Deism; Empiricism; Free Will and Predestination;
Critique of Practical Reason, he was not terribly disturbed by
Pietism; Proofs for the Existence of God.
this criticism. So he confidently singled out the starry heav-
ens above and the moral law within as two objects of awe
and admiration, respectively representing the world of phe-
Kant’s Works in English Translation
nomena and the world of noumena. This observation was in-
Critique of Judgement. Translated by J. C. Meredith. 1928; re-
print, London, 1973.
tended to mark the end not only of the second critique but
of his entire critical enterprise. For he believed that his two
Critique of Practical Reason. Translated by Lewis White Beck. Chi-
critiques had fulfilled his ambition of critically assessing the
cago, 1949. Kant’s preliminary view of this subject is given
two worlds of phenomena and noumena.
in his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, translated by
Lewis White Beck (Chicago, 1949).
Shortly thereafter, however, Kant became preoccupied
Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Norman Kemp Smith.
with the question of transition and mediation between the
New York, 1929. An abridged version is available in Kant’s
two worlds. Although moral precepts belong to the noume-
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, edited by Lewis
nal world, they can be realized in the phenomenal world.
White Beck (Indianapolis, 1950).
Kant found it difficult to explain the transition from the
Lectures on Ethics. Translated by Louis Infield. London, 1979.
world of precepts to the world of practice, because one
These lectures are not from Kant’s own writings but from his
was supposed to be governed by necessity and the other by
students’ notes.
Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Translated and ed-
ited by Allen Wood and George Di Gionvanni (Cambridge,
In order to resolve this problem of transition, Kant
wrote his third critique, the Critique of Judgment, and intro-
duced reflective judgment as the faculty of mediation be-
Works on Kant’s View of Morality and Religion
tween the two worlds. But his theory of mediation was far
Beck, Lewis White. A Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical
from convincing, and most of his intellectual heirs resolved
Reason. Chicago, 1960.
his problem by collapsing his two worlds into one. This post-
Cassirer, Ernst. Kant’s Life and Thought. Translated by James
Kantian development in German idealism made it impossi-
Haden. New Haven, 1981. This is perhaps the most compre-
ble to retain Kant’s postulates of immortality and the other
hensive introduction available in English to Kant’s life and
world, because there was only one world left.
philosophy. A shorter general introduction to his philosophy
can be found in Stephan Körner’s Kant (1955; reprint, New
The fusion of Kant’s two worlds into one was the climax
Haven, 1982) and in Ralph C. S. Walker’s Kant (Boston,
of the progressive secularization that had begun in the Re-
naissance. Kant played a pivotal role in this development.
Collins, James D. The Emergence of Philosophy of Religion. New
His demarcation between phenomena and noumena was a
Haven, 1967. This volume provides a good account not only
modification and retention of the medieval demarcation be-
of Kant’s conception of religion but also of what comes be-
tween the natural and the supernatural orders. Unlike the
fore and after Kant’s conception, especially Hume’s and
medieval demarcation, however, Kant’s did not completely
Hegel’s ideas on the issue.
coincide with the demarcation between this world and the
England, F. E. Kant’s Conception of God. New York, 1929.
other world. Kant made the transcendent noumenal world
Green, Ronald Michael. Religious Reason: The Rational and Moral
functionally immanent for moral life, thereby initiating the
Basis of Religion. New York, 1978.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Paton, Herbert J. The Categorical Imperative: A Study in Kant’s
realities. Religion was a vital phenomenon shared by mem-
Moral Philosophy. Chicago, 1948.
bers of a group, who came together for more than religion.
Silber, John R. “Kant’s Conception of the Highest Good as Im-
For Kaplan this theory refuted the Reform (and general
manent and Transcendent.” Philosophical Review 68 (1959):
Western) definition of Judaism as a religion and Jewry as the
members of a church, membership in which was the only
Silber, John R. “The Moral Good and the Natural Good in Kant’s
link between Jews in different lands. The Durkheimian un-
Ethics.” Review of Metaphysics 36 (December 1982): 397–
derstanding meant that any solution to Judaism’s problems
required a program that transcended religion. Kaplan began
Webb, Clement C. Kant’s Philosophy of Religion. Oxford, 1926.
to study the earliest known forms of Judaism, noting the
Wood, Allen W. Kant’s Moral Religion. Ithaca, N. Y., 1970.
onset of innovations through the centuries, some of which
were accepted and absorbed into the mainstream of Jewish
T. K. SEUNG (1987 AND 2005)
society whereas others died away or separated from Judaism.
The search for a general philosophic guideline directing
KAPLAN, MORDECAI (1881–1983), American
his experiments and proposals for Judaism led Kaplan to
rabbi, author, and religious leader, was the creator of the the-
pragmatism, as expounded by James and Dewey. He accept-
ory of Reconstructionist Judaism and the founder of the Re-
ed James’s understanding of pragmatism as an approach
constructionist movement. The son of Rabbi Israel Kaplan,
combining the best of both empiricist and rationalist philos-
a Talmudic scholar, Mordecai Menahem Kaplan was born
ophy, without being limited by abstraction or fixed princi-
in Svenciony, Lithuania, on June 11, 1881. The family left
ples. This included rejection of the notion of absolute
eastern Europe in 1888 and reached the United States in
truth(s), while seeking understanding through concreteness,
June 1889. Kaplan was instructed in traditional Jewish sub-
facts, and action. He disagreed with James’s focus upon the
jects by private tutors while attending public schools in New
individual, however, believing that religion is primarily “a
York City. He received degrees from the City College of
group consciousness” (Libowitz, 1983), and he sought to
New York (1900) and Columbia University (1902) and rab-
combine James’s method of evaluation with Durkheim’s
binic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of
group-centered understanding of religious development.
America (1902). In 1909, following a tenure as minister and
Dewey provided Kaplan a guide in this endeavor.
rabbi of Kehillath Jeshurun, an Orthodox congregation in
Dewey argued that society developed as humans sought prac-
New York City, Kaplan returned to the Jewish Theological
tical solutions to specific problems. Knowledge grew from
Seminary, where he served for more than fifty years, first as
experience, in matters of ethics and morality just as in sci-
principal (later dean) of the Teachers Institute until 1945,
ence. Intelligence would direct improvements upon experi-
then as professor of homiletics and philosophies of religion
ence. This intelligence was never finite but in constant evolu-
until his formal retirement in 1963.
tion. Kaplan applied Dewey’s theories to religion, replacing
Beyond his roles as a leader within the Conservative rab-
traditional claims to truth with a collective search for truth
binate and the Zionist movement, and as an important con-
based upon the actual experiences of the Jewish people. This
tributor within the field of Jewish education, Kaplan’s major
led him to understand Judaism “functionally” rather than as
achievement remains his formulation of Reconstructionism.
“pure” philosophy or theology. This synthesis of resources
He presented Reconstructionism to the public through a se-
made Kaplan unique among twentieth-century Jewish think-
ries of lectures and publications, chiefly Judaism as a Civiliza-
ers as a redactor who sought to combine modern science with
tion (1934). Kaplan developed his theories in response to his
an affirmation of Judaism.
own loss of faith in the traditional concept of revelation
At the heart of Kaplan’s thought is his definition of Ju-
(known as Torah mi-Sinai, “the Law from Sinai”), one result
daism as an “evolving religious civilization.” Opposing those
of his studies with the iconoclastic Bible scholar Arnold Ehr-
who sought the maintenance of Jewish life solely through
lich. Attempting to rebuild a personal cosmology, Kaplan
preservation of the religion, he argued that a Jewish civiliza-
drew from Western philosophers and social scientists as well
tion—including within it a land, language and literature,
as Jewish sources, using the sociological findings of Émile
mores, laws and folkways, arts, and a social structure—
Durkheim (1858–1917), the pragmatic philosophy of John
transcended religion. Kaplan also presented a radical change
Dewey (1859–1952) and William James (1842–1910), and
in the God idea. Preferring to use the term divinity, he reject-
the theological insights of Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) in
ed notions of an anthropomorphic and personal God active
combination with the Spiritual Zionism of Ah:ad ha-EAm
in human history, favoring instead a functional understand-
(Asher Ginzberg, 1856–1927).
ing of God as the creative source within the universe, the
Kaplan considered Durkheim “the most significant in-
power that engenders a salvation to which the Jewish people
fluence” on his conception of religion (Libowitz, 1983).
have long been particularly responsive. These conceptual
Durkheim maintained that religions did not arise as individ-
shifts infuriated Orthodox Jewry, creating a division exacer-
ual phenomena that spread to a group but out of a societal
bated further by Kaplan’s efforts to transfer the center of con-
matrix, representing collective representations of collective
cern and authority from divinely revealed text to the Jewish
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

people itself, as well as by his justification of the transcen-
cepts and practices had diffused and become accepted within
dence of Jewish law (halakhah) and custom (minhag) when
Reform and Conservative Judaism. As a result, although the
those sources no longer met the needs of the Jewish people.
influence of Kaplan’s ideas has been broad, the Reconstruc-
Kaplan differed from his Conservative colleagues in his use
tionist movement has remained small.
of extratraditional resources; his approach remained distinct
from that of Reform Judaism through his efforts to retain
SEE ALSO Reconstructionist Judaism.
traditional forms while providing new content.
Kaplan also sought to modernize Jewish organizational
Works by Kaplan not mentioned above include The Future of the
structure. Realizing the superior strength of the Diaspora
American Jew (New York, 1948; reprint, New York, 1967),
cultures, he argued that emancipated Jews lived within two
which examines the needs of Jews and Judaism following the
civilizations and that, on most occasions, the general (Genti-
creation of the State of Israel. For an examination of religion
le) culture exerted the primary hold upon the individual. In
and the concept of God as it functions within the Jewish civi-
an effort to counterbalance the impetus toward total assimi-
lization, there is The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Reli-
lation, Kaplan called for maximal development of opportuni-
gion (New York, 1937; reprint, New York, 1994). The Great-
er Judaism in the Making
(New York, 1960; reprint, New
ties for the individual to function within a Jewish environ-
York, 1967) studies the modern evolution of Judaism, and
ment. The locus of those activities was to be the synagogue,
The Religion of Ethical Nationhood (New York, 1970) is an
which Kaplan sought to transform from a simple prayer
advocacy of the idea of ethical nationhood as the only means
room to a modern institution, the focus for worship, study,
of avoiding world disaster. Studies of the life and works of
and recreation. Attracting supporters for these theories, Ka-
Kaplan include Richard Libowitz, Mordecai M. Kaplan and
plan supervised the creation of the first such community and
the Development of Reconstructionism (New York, 1983), an
synagogue center, the Jewish Center on Manhattan’s West
intellectual biography drawing upon Kaplan’s personal pa-
Side, in 1918. The commitment of the lay leadership to Or-
pers. Other biographical studies include Emanuel S. Gold-
thodox Jewish practice, as well as Kaplan’s own temper, soon
smith, Mel Scult, and Robert M. Seltzer, eds., The American
led to difficulties, however, resulting in his resignation from
Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan (New York, 1990); and
Scult, Judaism Faces the Twentieth Century: A Biography of
the center in 1922. Kaplan next established the Society for
Mordecai M. Kaplan (Detroit, Mich., 1993). Analyses of Ka-
the Advancement of Judaism, which served thereafter as the
plan’s thought and his place in the Reconstructionist move-
living laboratory for his experiments with Jewish worship,
ment include Gilbert S. Rosenthal, Four Paths to One God
such as the inclusion of women within the minyan (prayer
(New York, 1973); Ira Eisenstein, Reconstructing Judaism: An
quorum) and the creation of bat mitzvah as a young woman’s
Autobiography (New York, 1986), by Kaplan’s son-in-law
rite of passage equivalent to the bar mitzvah.
and successor as leader of the Reconstructionist movement;
S. Daniel Breslauer, Mordecai Kaplan’s Thought in a Postmod-
When editing the Sabbath Prayer Book (1945), Kaplan
ern Age (Atlanta, 1994); and Jack J. Cohen, Guides for an Age
retained the traditional service structure but replaced state-
of Confusion: Studies in the Thinking of Avraham Y. Kook and
ments regarding resurrection of the dead with declarations
Mordecai M. Kaplan (New York, 1999), by a leading voice
that God remembered the living. In a similar manner,
in Reconstructionism for more than half a century.William
prayers for restoration of the Temple and the coming of the
James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York, 1961)
Messiah were removed in favor of recollections of the faith
was a valuable source for Kaplan’s understanding of religion
of those who had worshiped in the Temple and prayers for
and its role in society.
a messianic age, to be achieved through human efforts. Per-
haps most controversial, because it was most readily appar-
ent, was Kaplan’s replacement of the phrase “who has chosen
us from all the nations” in the benediction prior to reading
from the Torah with “who has brought us near in His ser-
The Karaites (Heb., Qara Dim; Arab.,
vice.” Copies of the prayer book were burned at a rally of Or-
Qara¯ D¯ıyu¯n) are a Jewish sect that recognizes the Hebrew
thodox Jews in New York City in 1945, and a ban (issur) was
Bible as the sole source of divinely inspired legislation, and
pronounced against Kaplan.
denies the authority of the postbiblical Jewish tradition (the
Oral Law) as recorded in the Talmud and in later rabbinic
Kaplan’s followers included the Conservative rabbis Eu-
literature. The term, which apparently first occurs in the
gene Kohn (1887–1977), Ira Eisenstein (1906–2001), and
writings of Benjamin al-Naha¯wand¯ı (ninth century CE), is
Milton Steinberg (1903–1950), as well as laypeople through-
variously interpreted as “scripturalists, champions of scrip-
out the country. Kaplan resisted their desire to establish Re-
ture” (from the Hebrew qara D, “to read,” particularly “to read
constructionism as a fourth movement within American Ju-
scripture”) and as “callers,” that is to say, those who call for
daism, and Reconstructionism thus remained identified as
a return to the original biblical religion (from the alternate
the “left wing” of Conservative Judaism until the 1960s.
meaning of qara D, “to call, to summon”). Apart from the Sa-
Only upon his retirement from the Jewish Theological Semi-
maritans, the Karaites are the oldest surviving Jewish sect and
nary did Kaplan devote himself to the establishment of a dis-
have produced an extensive scholarly literature, much of
tinct Reconstructionist movement; by then many of his con-
which has been preserved.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ters, like their Christian and Zoroastrian predecessors, had
sent in Judaism goes back to the Second Temple period,
not the slightest interest in Jewish national aspirations and
when it was represented by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and
dreams. All these factors probably contributed to discontent
the Essenes (with whom the Qumran community is likely
with the status quo, particularly among the disadvantaged el-
to be identified). The growth and eventual codification of
ements of the Iraqi Jewish community.
the postbiblical rabbinic tradition in turn gave rise to further
dissent. The Karaites are one of several groups that have
By the beginning of the tenth century, the schism had
claimed the Hebrew Bible to be the one and only repository
expanded from its Iranian-Iraqi birthplace into Syria-
of God’s word, which may not be modified by any subse-
Palestine. The leading figure was Daniel al-Qu¯mis¯ı (original-
quent, traditional law.
ly from northern Iran), who preached a spiritual return to
biblical Judaism and a physical return to the Holy City. By
According to one early Rabbanite account, the Karaite
returning to Jerusalem, studying scripture, leading an ascetic
movement originated circa 750 CE with an aristocratic, Bab-
existence, and mourning for the destroyed Temple, these
ylonian scholar named EAnan ben David, who should have
“Mourners for Zion” sought to hasten the divine salvation
succeeded to the Exilarchate (secular leadership) of the Iraqi
and the messianic era which they believed to be imminent.
Jewish community. Because of his excessive wildness and ir-
The Mourners would become the spiritual and intellectual
reverence, however, he was rejected in favor of his younger
core of the Karaite movement during the tenth and eleventh
brother Hananiah. Consequently, EAnan declared himself
centuries, subsuming other sectarian groups such as the An-
head of a dissident group; these Ananites formed the nucleus
anites. Zealous Karaite missionaries traveled far and wide to
of what later became the Karaite sect.This simplistic account
the Jewish settlements in the Near East, preaching to both
suffers from a number of historical and psychological diffi-
Karaite and Rabbanite audiences. During the second quarter
culties. Already in the late seventh and early eighth centuries,
of the tenth century, however, they encountered stiff opposi-
the anti-traditional leaders, Abu¯ E¯Isa¯ and Yu¯dgha¯n, had been
tion. SaEadyah ben Joseph al-Fayyu¯m¯ı (882–942), the poly-
active in the vicinity of Iraq. In the ninth and early tenth cen-
math gaon of the Sura academy in Baghdad, published sever-
turies, other leaders such as Isma¯E¯ıl and M¯ıshawayh in
al polemical works against Karaite teachings, condemning
EUkbara¯ (Iraq), Benjamin al-Naha¯wand¯ı in Iran, Mu¯sa¯
their proponents as outright heretics. SaEadyah’s prestige and
al-ZaEfara¯n¯ı in Iraq and then Armenia, and Malik al-Raml¯ı
forceful scholarly argumentation effected a decisive break be-
in Palestine, presided over their own sectarian followings. All
tween the two camps that has never healed. It also seems to
of these separate dissident groups developed their own heter-
have kept the Karaite mission from ever making serious in-
ogeneous teachings, although they seem to have vaguely re-
roads among Rabbanite populations in the Near East.
garded themselves as members of the larger community of
anti-rabbinic sectarians.
Bitter though it was in its earlier stages, the Karaite-
Rabbanite controversy stimulated Jewish literary creativity in
Theological disagreement seems to have been only one
the East during the tenth and eleventh centuries. Influenced
of several causes of this new flowering of schisms; others were
by Islamic and Christian models, Rabbanites and Karaites
political, social, and economic. The large autonomous Jew-
had begun to experiment with new genres in the fields of the-
ish community in Iraq was administered by a bureaucracy
ology, philosophy, biblical exegesis, and Hebrew philology.
serving the exilarch and the presidents (called the ge Donim)
But undoubtedly, the inter-denominational feuding moti-
of the academies, who codified, interpreted, and developed
vated members of both camps to produce scholarship of the
the rabbinic tradition and acted as supreme courts of appeal.
highest standard. A Karaite academy flourished in Jerusalem
This bureaucracy was maintained by internal taxation that
during this period, giving advanced training to students from
added to the heavy taxes already paid by non-Muslims to the
sectarian settlements as far-flung as Muslim Spain and By-
Muslim state. The poorer classes of the Jewish community—
and they formed the great majority—thus had ample reason
for dissatisfaction with their lot. At the same time, the exten-
Much closer to home, the Karaite community of Egypt
sion and consolidation of the Muslim empire in the seventh
grew in wealth and importance, which derived in no small
and eighth centuries enabled such discontented elements in
part from the success of several members of the Tustar¯ı fami-
the Iraqi community to emigrate to the sparsely settled and
ly, prominent members of the Fatimid court. Since Syria was
less regulated mountainous provinces of the east and north,
under Fatimid control for much of this period as well, Kar-
where they observed the conquered Persian population, unit-
aite prestige increased throughout the area and on the whole,
ed under the banner of Shiism, seething with resentment and
relations with Rabbanites improved dramatically. Marriage
resistance against their Arab masters. Finally, the speed and
documents and formularies from the eleventh century attest
ease with which the Arabs conquered the Byzantine and Per-
to Karaite-Rabbanite intermarriages, in which bride and
sian dominions must have aroused anew Jewish hopes for the
groom agreed to recognize each other’s respective religious
end of exile, the restoration of Zion, and the ingathering of
practices. Such alliances—which took place within the high-
the exiles in the Holy Land under their own government.
est strata of Jewish society—indicate a general interest in
But this hope was quickly shattered: the new Muslim mas-
maintaining communal unity and harmony.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Karaite
one striking exception to this pattern, several Karaite scholars
population began to shift geographically. The Turcoman in-
in mid-fifteenth-century Constantinople—including Elijah
vasion of Syria (1071–1074) and then the Christian victory
Bashyatchi, Caleb Afendopolo, and Judah Gibbor—studied
in the First Crusade (1099) all but ended Jewish settle-
with an eminent Rabbanite teacher, Mordecai Comtino.
ment—Rabbanite and Karaite alike—in Palestine. While the
Typically, teacher and disciples treated each other with re-
Cairo community remained intact—surviving in situ until
spect, while attacking each other’s legal views vigorously.
the late twentieth century—it seems to have declined in pres-
In general, conversions from one group to the other
tige during the twelfth century. Meanwhile, the Karaites of
seem to have been relatively rare. The anti-Karaite polemic
Byzantium, who had imbibed the teachings of the Jerusalem
of some Rabbanite authors is merely theoretical, and is not
school, emerged as a distinctive, independent community
grounded in any actual fear of defection to the Karaite cause.
which created a substantial scholarly literature over the
Moses Maimonides (Mosheh ben Maimon, 1135/8–1204),
course of seven centuries (see below). Constantinople re-
the most outstanding Jewish scholar of the medieval period,
mained the leading Karaite center until the seventeenth cen-
summed up the Rabbanite attitude by advising reserved but
tury when it went into a steep decline. In Islamic Spain, on
helpful behavior toward Karaites as fellow Jews, albeit way-
the other hand, the presence of Karaites elicited sharp reac-
ward ones, so long as they desisted from hostile attacks on
tions from leading twelfth-century Rabbanite scholars in-
Rabbanite dogma and practice.
cluding Judah Halevi, Abraham Ibn EEzraD, and Avraham Ibn
Daud. Likely because of their isolation from fellow-sectarians
In the seventeenth century, the Karaite communities in
and this unrelenting Rabbanite opposition, the Andalusian
the Crimea, Lithuania, and Poland assumed the leading role.
Karaites seem to have vanished by the end of the twelfth cen-
By the end of the eighteenth century, these communities had
tury. New communities were emerging, however, in Eastern
all come under Russian rule. In the nineteenth century, sev-
Europe. The Rabbanite traveler Petahyah of Regensburg
eral energetic leaders succeeded in obtaining from the tsarist
(1180), mentions a scripturalist group he encountered in the
government full citizenship rights for Karaites; this set them
Crimea who appear to have been Karaites; there is clear-cut
even further apart from the Rabbanite majority in Russia,
evidence of a community there by the late thirteenth century.
which continued to bear the full weight of the oppressive and
Settlements in Poland and the Ukraine may date to the thir-
discriminatory anti-Jewish laws.
teenth century; they were certainly established by the early
World War I affected the Russian Karaites only where
fifteenth century, when the Lithuanian community in Troki
they found themselves directly in the way of military opera-
(Trakai, near Vilnius) emerged as the European center of the
tions. During World War II, the Karaites in the occupied
territories of Poland and western Russia were generally not
There are large gaps in the Karaite historical record be-
molested by the German authorities, on the ground—
tween the twelfth and early nineteenth centuries. For thir-
generously supported by Rabbanite representatives consulted
teenth- and fourteenth-century Byzantium, for example, the
by the Germans—that they were ethnically not Jewish but
sole witnesses are Aaron ben Joseph the Physician and Aaron
rather were descended from the ancient Turkic nation of the
ben Elijah of Nicomedia, whose writings contain few con-
Khazars, converts to Judaism who once ruled southern Rus-
temporary references. Bio-bibliographic works, by David Ibn
sia. These Karaites were therefore not subject to wholesale
al-Hiti (fifteenth century), Mordecai ben Nisan (1699),
extermination, as were their Rabbanite brethren. The nine-
Simh:ah Isaac Lutski (1757), and others, provide the skeleton
teenth-century campaign to achieve independent, official
for a history of scholarship and are invaluable guides to Kar-
recognition and the generally negative attitude in Russia after
aite self-perceptions and historical consciousness, but yield
the 1917 revolution toward religion in general and Judaism
scant information about social, religious, and cultural devel-
in particular, led Karaites in the U.S.S.R. to distance them-
opments. Travel accounts—by Karaites, Rabbanites, and
selves entirely from Jewish history, religion, and culture. In
non-Jews—correspondence, and topical treatises, on the
the Middle East after 1945, the Arab-Israeli conflict had a
other hand, give glimpses of communal life and concerns at
serious effect on the Karaite communities in the neighboring
specific moments. Thus, a dispute with Rabbanites in Cairo
Arab states. Owing to emigration, the ancient community
(1465) or an internal controversy in Constantinople over
of H¯ıt, in Iraq, ceased to exist, and the equally ancient com-
Sabbath lights (late fifteenth–early sixteenth centuries) are
munity in Cairo was vastly reduced when most of its mem-
relatively well documented, while basic data concerning both
bers moved to Israel, Europe, and the Americas. At present,
communities in subsequent decades are lacking. All the
there are perhaps twenty-five thousand Karaites in the world
same, certain generalizations seem warranted. Not infre-
(in Israel, Eastern and Western Europe, and the United
quently, Karaite and Rabbanite communities existed in close
States), though no truly reliable statistics exist.
proximity. Usually, the Christian and Muslim authorities
KARAITE LITERATURE. Fragments of EAnan’s code of law
did not differentiate between the two groups, regarding them
have survived in the original Aramaic. Both in language and
both as Jews. Since Karaite populations almost invariably
in style, the work bears strong affinities to classical rabbinic
seem to have been smaller, they tended to remain on correct,
texts. Benjamin al-Naha¯wand¯ı and Daniel al-Qu¯mis¯ı also
if somewhat distant terms with their Rabbanite brethren. In
wrote codes, and al-Qu¯mis¯ı composed the earliest surviving
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Jewish Bible commentaries; these works were all written in
crown of the Torah), a commentary on the Pentateuch. Eli-
Hebrew. Between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, Karaite
jah Bashyatchi (d. 1490) and his brother-in-law Caleb Afen-
scholars in Muslim lands produced an extensive religious lit-
dopolo (d. after 1522) compiled another code, Adderet Eliy-
erature in Arabic. In Asia Minor, the Crimea, and Poland-
yahu (The mantle of Elijah), which became the most
Lithuania, the Karaite language of scholarship between the
esteemed legal manual among modern Karaites. A versatile
eleventh and twentieth centuries was Hebrew. Beginning in
scholar, Afendopolo indexed older books (such as Eshkol ha-
the fifteenth century, the Karaites of Eastern Europe and the
kofer and EEs: h:ayyim), wrote scientific works, and composed
Crimea also wrote in their vernacular Turkic dialects.
Hebrew belles-lettres. A contemporary, Judah Gibbor, com-
posed an important Pentateuch commentary in verse, which
The first major scholar of the golden age of Karaite liter-
was the subject of later Karaite supercommentaries. Other
ature was YaEqu¯b al-Qirqisa¯n¯ı (second quarter of the tenth
authors of note include Moses Bashyatchi (d. 1572?), who
century), whose magnum opus is a two-part Arabic commen-
incorporated Arabic citations of al-Qirqisa¯n¯ı into his own
tary on the Pentateuch. The first part, titled Kita¯b al-anwa¯r
treatises, Moses Messorodi, who composed an important col-
wa Dl-mara¯qib (Book of light-houses and watchtowers), com-
lection of sermons, and Elijah Yerushalmi (d. c. 1700), who
ments on the legal parts of the Pentateuch and forms not
sought to bring traditional Karaite learning from Constanti-
only a detailed code of Karaite law but also a veritable ency-
nople to the Crimea.
clopedia of early Karaite lore. The second part, Kita¯b al-riya¯d:
wa Dl-h:ada¯Diq (Book of gardens and parks), deals with the
Egypt produced a few important Karaite authors. Born
nonlegal portions of the Pentateuch. Al-Qirqisa¯n¯ı also wrote
in Alexandria, Moses DarE¯ı (thirteenth century?) was the
an extensive commentary on Genesis that seems to have dealt
group’s preeminent Hebrew poet, writing an impressive
in detail with various philosophical problems, such as the na-
body of secular verse in the style of the great Andalusiams.
ture of God and of matter, creation ex nihilo, and good and
In the fifteenth century, Samuel al-Maghrib¯ı wrote the last
evil. Of all his works, only Kita¯b al-anwa¯r has been published
known Arabic code of Karaite law and a popular set of homi-
in full. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, Karaite scholars
lies on the Pentateuch, while David Ibn al-H¯ıt¯ı composed
connected with the academy in Jerusalem produced a num-
a brief but important chronicle of Arabic scholars from
ber of important works, mostly in Arabic, in the areas of exe-
EAnan down to his own time. Moses ben Samuel produced
gesis, philology, theology, law, apologetics, and polemics.
a corpus of Hebrew poetry, including an epic account of his
Among the most important authors were Salmon ben
tribulations in the service of the emir of Damascus, who in
Yeruh:¯ım (a polemicist and exegete), Japheth ben Eli (the
1354 forced him to become a Muslim and to join a pilgrim-
first Jew to compose commentaries on the entire Bible), Sahl
age to Mecca. He finally escaped to Egypt, where he seems
ben Mas:liah: (an exegete, legal scholar, and polemicist),
to have returned to his ancestral faith.
David al-Fa¯s¯ı (a lexicographer), Joseph ben Noah (president
As the Ottoman Empire progressively declined, the cen-
of the Jerusalem academy), AbuDl-Faraj Ha¯ru¯n (Hebrew:
ter of Karaite literary activity again shifted northward, to the
Aaron ben Jeshua; a grammarian and exegete), Yu¯suf al-Bas:¯ır
Crimea, Lithuania, and Poland. The Karaite community of
(Hebrew: Joseph ha-RoDeh; an eminent theologian), and
Troki counted as one of its most illustrious sons Isaac ben
AbuDl-Furqa¯n ibn Asad (Hebrew: Jeshua ben Judah; an exe-
Abraham Troki (d. 1594, or perhaps 1586), the author of
gete and legal authority).
a critical tract against Christianity titled H:izzuq emunah
(Fortification of the faith), which was later admired by Vol-
With the growth of the Greek-speaking community in
taire. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a group
Asia Minor, it became necessary to translate the Karaite Ara-
of Protestant theologians (Rittangel, Peringer, Puffendorf,
bic classics into Hebrew, the literary language of Byzantine
Warner, Trigland) drew parallels between the Karaite seces-
Jewry. Translators such as Tobiah ben Moses and Jacob ben
sion from the Rabbanite synagogue and the Protestant seces-
Simeon produced Hebrew versions which are notable for
sion from the Church of Rome. They encouraged the com-
their awkward syntax, strange technical vocabulary, and
position of several works by Polish Karaite informants,
Greek glosses. In the twelfth century, a more natural Hebrew
including Mordecai ben Nisan of Kukizów (near Lviv, in
style appears in an extensive encyclopedia of Karaite scholar-
Polish Galicia) and Solomon ben Aaron of Troki (d. 1745),
ship begun in 1148 by Judah Hadassi and titled Eshkol ha-
which set forth their view of Karaite history, dogma, and rit-
kofer (Cluster of henna), and in Jacob ben Reuben’s terse
ual. Simh:ah Isaac ben Moses of Lutsk (d. 1766) composed
Bible commentary. By the late thirteenth century, the Kar-
the first substantial Karaite literary history.
aites of Byzantium were writing a fluent Andalusian Rabban-
ite Hebrew. Drawing upon Maimonides and Abraham Ibn
In the nineteenth century, the outstanding Karaite man
EEzraD, Aaron ben Joseph wrote a philosophical commentary
of letters was Abraham Firkovitch (1786–1874), who during
on the Pentateuch; he is best known, however, as the redac-
his travels in the Crimea, the Caucasus, Syria, Palestine, and
tor of the official Karaite liturgy. Subsequently, Aaron ben
Egypt amassed a large collection of Karaite manuscripts, one
Elijah (d. 1369), composed an invaluable trilogy: EEs: h:ayyim
of the richest in the world, now in the Russian National Li-
(The tree of life), a Karaite Guide of the Perplexed; Gan EEden
brary in St. Petersburg. He was also a prolific writer, al-
(The Garden of Eden), a code of law; and Keter torah (The
though the authenticity of many historical data he cited from
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

colophons and from tombstones has been rejected. An older
their old theology until the thirteenth and fourteenth centu-
contemporary of his, Mordecai Sultansky (d. 1862), wrote
ries. In his EEs: h:ayyim, Aaron ben Elijah actually attempts
several works, among them a history of Karaite Judaism,
to synthesize the kala¯m teachings of Yu¯suf al-Bas:¯ır with Mai-
Zekher s:addiqim (Memorial of the righteous), valuable main-
monidean Aristotelianism. Although the experiment cannot
ly as an exposition of the modern official version, authorized
be said to have succeeded in full, it remained influential
by the leading circles of the Russian-Polish-Lithuanian com-
within the Byzantine Karaite camp.
In his code of law, Adderet Eliyahu, Elijah Bashyatchi
During the twentieth century, several members of the
formulated the Karaite creed in ten articles, corresponding
Egyptian community were active authors: Mourad Farag
to the Ten Commandments: (1) that the physical universe
(1867–1956), a jurist and poet; Tobiah Babovitch (1879–
was created; (2) that it was created by God, who is eternal;
1956), the last Karaite Chief Hakham (Rabbi) in Cairo;
(3) that the Creator has no form and is unique; (4) that He
Mourad El-Kodsi (1919–), a communal historian; and
sent Moses, His prophet; (5) that He sent the Torah, which
Yoseph El-Gamil (1943–), a historian and editor of texts.
is perfect, with Moses; (6) that the believer must know He-
brew, the language of the Torah; (7) that God inspired all
The invention of printing with movable type was eager-
other true prophets who came after Moses; (8) that God will
ly seized upon by Rabbanite Jews to produce an enormous
resurrect the Dead on the Day of Judgment; (9) that God
library of religious and secular literature from the 1470s
rewards and punishes all human beings according to their de-
down to the present day. On the Karaite side the picture is
serts; (10) that God has not abandoned the people in exile,
quite different. No Karaite incunabula were printed, and
and that though they suffer, they must anticipate the coming
only four Karaite books—the first, an edition of the Karaite
of the Messiah who will effect the divine salvation. No Rab-
liturgy, published by the Christian bookmaker Daniel Bom-
banite could find any of this objectionable.
berg in Venice in 1528–1529—appeared in the sixteenth
century, all set in type and run off the press by Rabbanite
Where the two groups have always differed, however,
compositors and pressmen. Only one Karaite book came out
is in their attitude toward the postbiblical (Talmudic and
in the seventeenth century, printed in 1643 at the Amster-
rabbinic) tradition: for Rabbanites, the Oral Law is of Mosa-
dam press of Menasseh ben Israel, a Rabbanite scholar and
ic origin and mediates the understanding of Scripture; for
publisher known also for his negotiations with Lord Protec-
Karaites it is at best a body of non-authoritative knowledge,
tor Oliver Cromwell on the readmission of Jews into En-
and at worst a malignant, man-made fabrication. But even
gland. The earliest Karaite presses were those of the brothers
the rejection of the rabbinic tradition has turned out to be
Afeda and Shabbetai Yeraqa in Istanbul (1733) and in Chu-
not quite absolute, for with the passage of time, changing
fut-Kale, in the Crimea (1734–1741); there was also another
conditions have forced the formation of a native Karaite tra-
press in Chufut-Kale (1804–1806). They were short-lived
dition in order to cope with new situations and problems
and succeeded in publishing only a few books. The first more
that were not anticipated by Moses the lawgiver. Hence the
or less successful Karaite press was established in 1833 in Eu-
development of the three pillars of Karaite legislation: (1) the
patoria (or Gözlöw), in the Crimea, and published several
scriptural text (Heb., katuv; Arab., nas:s:); (2) analogy (Heb.,
important old texts.
heqesh; Arab., qiya¯s) based on scripture; and, in cases where
One can only guess at the reason for the typographical
the first two pillars are of no help, (3) the consensus of schol-
backwardness of the modern Karaites. One factor was very
arly opinion (Hebrew qibbus: or Eedah, “community,” the lat-
likely their historical dislike of innovative change. Their lim-
ter term possibly influenced by the Arabic Ea¯dah, “customary
ited number and the comparative paucity of prospective pur-
practice, common law”; Arabic ijma¯ E, “agreement”; later
chasers and interested readers among them probably also
termed in Hebrew sevel ha-yerushah, “burden of inheri-
made printing unprofitable unless supported from time to
time by a wealthy patron from their own midst. In recent
Consequently, the Karaites and Rabbanites finally part
years, however, the Karaites in Israel have issued a large num-
ways in their religious practices, and here the differences are
ber of texts; some are photomechanical reproductions of
substantial and fundamental. For the Jewish calendar, which
nineteenth-century prints, but many more have been newly
governs the fixing of the dates of holy days, the Karaites re-
set and published by Yoseph El-Gamil.
jected the rabbinic mathematical reckoning and depended
DOGMA AND PRACTICE. Karaite Judaism is epistemological-
solely on the observation of the phases of the moon; only
ly grounded in scripture and reason. During its formative pe-
comparatively recently was limited reckoning admitted. In
riod, it borrowed its theology wholesale from the teachings
dietary law, the scriptural interdict against seething a kid’s
of the Muslim Mutazilites of Basra. The Karaite Yu¯suf
flesh in its mother’s milk was not broadened (as it was in rab-
al-Bas:¯ır (d. c. 1040) and his Rabbanite contemporary Samu-
binic law) to cover all meat and dairy foods. In the law of
el ben Hophni Gaon thus shared common views on many
consanguinity, the Karaites originally followed the so-called
doctrinal points. While Rabbanite scholars distanced them-
catenary (chain) theory (Heb., rikkuv; Arab., tark¯ıb), which
selves from Mutazilite theories, successively embracing Neo-
permitted piling analogy upon analogy to deduce further for-
platonism and then Aristotelianism, the Karaites held fast to
bidden marriages from those explicitly listed in scripture.
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The social consequences of this practice finally became so
interest in Judeo-Arabic literature generally, and Karaite
threatening to the physical survival of the Karaite communi-
writings in particular. Since 1989, moreover, the great collec-
ty that Jeshua ben Judah succeeded in modifying it, although
tions of Karaite manuscripts in St. Petersburg at the Russian
the Karaites still employ a much more extensive definition
National Library (RNL) and the Institute of Oriental Studies
of consanguinity than the Rabbanites do. This remains, how-
have become accessible. The RNL manuscripts, which had
ever, the only instance of a major reform in Karaite law. The
been assembled by Abraham Firkovitch during the nine-
teenth century, are now being catalogued for the first time.
scriptural prohibition of kindling fire on the Sabbath day is
They will serve as the basis for a comprehensive rewriting of
interpreted literally to mean the total absence of all fire, even
early Karaite history and literature. At the same time, Karaite
if kindled before the onset of the Sabbath and left to contin-
texts in Hebrew from Byzantium, the Crimea, and Eastern
ue burning, as permitted by rabbinic law. The modest relax-
Europe are now being studied critically and analyzed in their
ation of this rule in the Byzantine, Crimean, and Eastern Eu-
proper contexts. Despite their historically small numbers, the
ropean communities, where the absence of light and heat
Karaites, their forms of belief and practice, and their place
throughout the cold and sunless winters inflicted real hard-
in Jewish history, are now beginning to receive the attention
ship, aroused strong opposition. Other differences relate to
they deserve.
ritual cleanness—particularly rigorous for Karaite women—
Ankori, Zvi. Karaites in Byzantium: The Formative Years, 970–
inheritance (the Karaite husband has no claim upon his de-
1100. New York, 1959.
ceased wife’s estate), and various dietary laws. Polygyny is not
Astren, Fred. Karaite Past and Jewish History. Columbia, S.C.,
officially prohibited—as it was by a medieval European rab-
binical enactment recently extended to eastern Jewries as
Baron, Salo W. A Social and Religious History of the Jews. 2d ed.
well—but it seems to have been quite uncommon even in
18 vols. New York and Philadelphia, 1952–1983, 5: 209–
Muslim countries, probably for social and economic reasons;
in Western countries it was, of course, outlawed and was rec-
Ben-Shammai, Haggai. “The Karaite Controversy: Scripture and
ognized as such by Jewish law. The Karaite liturgy, originally
Tradition in Early Karaism.” In Religionsgespräche im Mitte-
limited to selected biblical psalms and prose passages, was
lalter, edited by Bernard Lewis and Friedrich Niewöhner,
eventually developed into a large corpus of both prose and
pp. 11–26. Wiesbaden, Germany, 1992.
verse—some written by Rabbanite poets—quite distinct
Birnbaum, Phillip, ed. Karaite Studies. New York, 1971.
from the Rabbanite one.
El-Kodsi, Mourad. The Karaite Jews of Egypt, 1882–1986. Lyons,
The connection between the Karaites and Sadducees,
N.Y., 1987.
suggested by some early Rabbanite polemicists, or between
Frank, Daniel. “The Study of Medieval Karaism, 1989–1999.” In
the Karaites and the Qumran sect, as advanced by some
Hebrew Scholarship and the Medieval World, edited by Nich-
modern scholars, remains hypothetical. Similarities in some
olas De Lange, pp. 3–22. New York, 2001.
observances may be nothing more than earmarks of the age-
Frank, Daniel. Search Scripture Well: Karaite Exegetes and the Ori-
old continuous chain of dissent in Judaism. (The outstand-
gins of the Jewish Bible Commentary in the Islamic East. Lei-
ing example, the rule that ShavuEot must always fall on a
den, 2004.
Sunday, seems to be one of the oldest points in Jewish dis-
Gil, Moshe. A History of Palestine, 634–1099. Cambridge, U.K.,
sent.) Verbal parallels between certain early Karaite writings
1992. See pages 777–820.
and the Dead Sea Scrolls are more suggestive. The chief
Goldberg, P. Selvin. Karaite Liturgy and Its Relation to Synagogue
stumbling block here is the hiatus of some five hundred years
Worship. Manchester, U.K., 1957.
between the Sadducees and the Qumran community on the
Lasker, Daniel J. “Karaism in Twelfth-Century Spain.” Journal of
one hand, and the earliest known Karaites on the other. The
Jewish Thought and Philosophy 1 (1992): 179–195.
most that can safely be said at present is that the primitive
Mann, Jacob. Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature,
Karaites may possibly have had access to some Sadducee or
vol. 2: Karaitica. Philadelphia, 1935; reprint, New York,
Qumranite literary documents. Whether they have been in-
fluenced by them, and if so, to what extent, cannot yet be
Miller, Philip E. Karaite Separatism in Nineteenth-Century Russia:
Joseph Solomon Lutski’s Epistle of Israel’s Deliverance. Cincin-
nati, 1993.
Nemoy, Leon. Karaite Anthology. New Haven, Conn., 1952.
The modern critical study of Karaite Judaism dates back about a
Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith. Karaite Marriage Documents from the
century and a half. Until recently, very few scholars devoted
Cairo Geniza: Legal Tradition and Community Life in Medi-
their full attention to the subject, despite the existence of a
aeval Egypt and Palestine. Leiden, 1998.
large and extremely important Karaite literature which re-
mains in manuscript, awaiting publication and analysis. Cer-
Polliack, Meira. The Karaite Tradition of Arabic Bible Translation:
tain aspects of Karaite history—for example, the role of social
A Linguistic and Exegetical Study of Karaite Translations of the
and economic factors—have only now begun to attract inter-
Pentateuch from the Tenth to the Eleventh Centuries. Leiden,
est. Many of the older works retain their basic value, but re-
quire updating. Fortunately, the situation seems to be chang-
Polliack, Meira, ed. Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and
ing. During the past two decades, there has been growing
Literary Sources. Leiden, 2003.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Poznanski, Samuel. “The Karaite Literary Opponents of Saadiah
dial touch and is fashioned into tablets upon which Sh¯ıEah
Gaon.” Originally published in the Jewish Quarterly Review,
prostrate during their prayers. Not only do Sh¯ıEah wish to
old series vols. 18–20 (1906–1908), reprinted, London,
make a pilgrimage to Karbala in their lifetime, many also as-
1908; reprinted again in Karaite Studies, edited by Phillip
pire to be buried in Karbala. Corpses of devotees from all
Birnbaum (see above).
over Asia and Africa have been sent to Karbala in order to
Rustow, Marina. “Rabbanite-Karaite Relations in Fatimid Egypt
atone for a sinful life and secure for the deceased an enduring
and Syria: A Study Based on Documents from the Cairo
stamp of redemption. Some Sh¯ıEah have devotionally con-
Geniza.” Ph.D. diss, Columbia University, New York, 2004.
ceded that a pilgrimage to Karbala is more meritorious than
Vajda, Georges. Al-Kita¯b al-Muhtaw¯ı de Yu¯suf al-Bas¯ır. Edited by
the pilgrimage to Mecca (h:a¯jj). Karbala along with its sister
David R. Blumenthal. Leiden, 1985.
city Najaf (where H:usayn’s father and the first Sh¯ıE¯ı ima¯m,
Wieder, Naphtali. The Judean Scrolls and Karaism. London, 1962.
EAl¯ı ibn Ab¯ı T:a¯lib, is buried), and the two Iranian cities of
Qom and Mashhad, also house important centers of Sh¯ıE¯ı
EON NEMOY (1987)
learning (madrasahs or hawzas). Students from Iraq, Iran,
Lebanon, Syria, India and Pakistan make up most of the stu-
dent body at these institutions.
KARBALA, a city located sixty-five miles southwest of
In the course of a millennium and three centuries, Kar-
Baghdad, constitutes the pivot of devotion for more than a
bala changed hands many times. As a center of Sh¯ıE¯ı piety,
hundred million Sh¯ıE¯ı Muslims. Although the estimated
it was often seen by Sunn¯ı political authorities as a threat to
population of this palm-grove-laden city is approximately
their rule. The EAbba¯sid caliph, al-Mutawakkil, for example,
500,000, during seasons of pilgrimage it draws more than a
had H:usyan’s shrine destroyed in 850 CE. Severe restrictions
million devotees. The city owes its significance to the battle
were placed on the pilgrims who desired to visit Karbala. The
that was waged on its soil in 680
Sh¯ıE¯ı Buyid rulers who wrested power from the EAbba¯sids re-
CE between H
: us b. EAli,
the younger grandson of the prophet M
: uhammad, and Yazid
stored the architectural as well as the devotional aura to Kar-
b. MuDawiya, the ruling head of the Ummayad dynasty at the
bala. Subsequent generations of Sh¯ıE¯ı Muslims, from Iran to
time. During the battle, H:usayn and a small group of follow-
India, festooned the shrines of Karbala with golden and silver
ers and family members were killed by the forces of Yazid
sarcophaguses, expensive chandeliers and carpets, and exqui-
after refusing to acknowledge the latter as a legitimate au-
site tile work and ornamentation. The endowments for the
thority. H:usayn, for his devotees, has remained the most sig-
maintenance of the Karbala shrines came not only from the
nificant martyr of Islam, Sayyid al-shuhada, and Karbala, the
Sh¯ıE¯ı rulers of Iran and India but also from the Sunn¯ı Otto-
site of this martyrdom, Mashhad al-H:usyan. For the Sh¯ıE¯ı
man leaders who ruled over this region from the sixteenth
Muslims, H:usayn is also one of the legitimate spiritual lead-
to the twentieth centuries. Many times during these four
ers (ima¯ms) of the community, who protected Islam from
centuries, the Ottoman rulers and their Sh¯ıE¯ı Safavid rivals
decay. Notwithstanding his significance in Sh¯ıE¯ı piety,
from Iran sought to control Karbala in order to consolidate
H:usayn and his Karbala battle have also had a strong appeal
their respective political clout in the region. Karbala during
in various Sunn¯ı, S:u¯f¯ı, and non-Muslim contexts.
this time remained a testimony to the riches of its patrons.
In 1801, the Wahha¯b¯ı forces, comprised of anti-Sh¯ıEah and
Although the etymology of Karbala is most likely rooted
anti-shrine culture Sunn¯ı Muslims, wreaked havoc on vari-
in Aramaic and Assyrian, in the Sh¯ıE¯ı devotional lore it is in-
ous pilgrimage sites and killed scores of inhabitants of this
voked as a combination of two Arabic words, karb (anguish)
city. But as in the past, H:usyan’s devotees from around the
and bala¯ (calamity). In all likelihood Karbala rose in the de-
world once again garnered resources to restore the regal aura
votional hierarchy of H:usayn’s followers right after his mar-
to the shrines. In 1919, after the defeat of the Ottomans, Iraq
tyrdom in 680 CE. That the Prophet had loved his grandson
came under the British mandate. At the 1921 Cairo Confer-
and bestowed upon him various honorific titles was never
ence, the British named Prince Faisal, a Mecca-based Sunn¯ı
doubted in the Muslim world. After the battle of Karbala,
descendant of the Prophet, as Iraq’s ruler. In 1932 the na-
H:usayn’s family members and friends journeyed to the site
tion-state of Iraq was born amidst much dismay and contest-
of his martyrdom and burial, commencing the cherished tra-
ed geographical borders. These borders, mostly drawn at the
dition of ziya¯rah (pilgrimage to a sacred site) to Karbala. The
discretion of the British, have continued to remain the cause
high season of pilgrimage has remained around the day that
of several political conflicts in the Arab world. Various ethnic
marks H:usayn’s martyrdom ( Ea¯shura, tenth day of the first
groups living in the newly created nation state of Iraq, in-
Islamic month, Muh:arram) and the fortieth-day commemo-
cluding the Kurds and the Sh¯ıEah (who are a majority) felt
ration of this martyrdom (arba Een, forty days after Ea¯shura).
disenfranchised at various levels. Such a feeling was com-
Pilgrims to H:usayn’s grave also make the rounds of
pounded by the policies of various leaders, most notably
graves of other companions of H:usayn, especially his half-
S:adda¯m H:usayn. Ruling from 1979 to 2003 as Iraq’s presi-
brother EAbba¯s. Prescribed prayers and lamentation accom-
dent, S:adda¯m H:usayn, dealt brutally with any challenge to
pany the pilgrims as many wish that they had fought along-
his authority. To assure that the Sh¯ıE¯ı majority of the coun-
side H:usayn. The soil and clay from Karbala acquires a reme-
try was in check, H:usayn imposed severe restrictions on the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

cultural practices of the city of Karbala. Prominent Sh¯ıE¯ı op-
Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics
ponents of the Iraqi government were killed, put under sur-
in Iran. New York, 1985.
veillance, or driven into exile as S:adda¯m H:usayn and his
Nakash, Yitzhak. The Shi Eis of Iraq. Princeton, N.J., 1994.
Baath Party created a climate of intimidation. Life in Karbala
Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq. Cambridge, U.K., 2000.
only got worse after the beginning of the eight-year Iraq-Iran
war in 1980. This war, in which Iraq was supported in part
by the United States, drained Iran and Iraq of valuable re-
sources and especially devastated the city of Karbala, which
was economically dependent to a great degree on the Iranian
KARDECISM is the name given the system of spiritist
pilgrims. S:adda¯m H:usayn imposed his presence on Karbala
doctrines and practices codified by the French spiritist Allan
by lacing the walls of the Sh¯ıE¯ı shrines with his own pictures
Kardec. Kardec’s religio-philosophical principles and thera-
and forbidding large commemorative assemblies. These as-
peutic techniques have been especially influential in the de-
semblies resurfaced after S:adda¯m H:usayn was defeated by
velopment of spiritism among the urban middle classes in
the United States and its allies in 2003. Over a million
Brazil from the mid-nineteenth century until the present.
Sh¯ıEah marked the day of H:usyan’s martyrdom in 2004 by
walking in the pathos-laden processions at Karbala. The
ARDEC’S LIFE AND WORK. Allan Kardec was born Hyp-
polyte Léon Denizard Rivail on October 3, 1804, in Lyons,
Sh¯ıE¯ı sense of relief after the fall of S:adda¯m H:usayn, howev-
France. The son of Justice Jean-Baptiste Antoine Rivail and
er, quickly gave way to dismay as the U.S. armed forces bat-
Jeanne Duhamel, Rivail received a thorough education. De-
tled anti-American elements in Karbala, causing many
scended on his father’s side from a family of magistrates, and
deaths. Not withstanding a long history of conflict, Karbala
on his mother’s side from a family of theologians, writers,
is likely to retain its importance as a center of pilgrimage and
and mathematicians, Rivail was sent as a boy to Switzerland,
to study under the famous pedagogue Henri Pestalozzi. He
Karbala, apart from standing as a bustling pilgrimage
distinguished himself with his intelligence and precocity: At
city, also holds status as a metaphor for a righteous struggle.
fourteen, Rivail had a command of several languages and was
Although physically contained in Iraq, its spiritual, aesthetic
conversant in Greek and Latin.
and political ramifications transcend geographical confines
and narrow religious allegiances. It has inspired traditions of
Having received training as a teacher, he returned to
theater (the ta‘ziyah of Iran), paintings and modern political
Paris, and earned a bachelor’s degree in sciences and letters.
movements of Lebanon, Iran, Central Asia and South Asia.
According to some of his biographers, Rivail concluded the
It has spoken to a wide range of reformist and revolutionary
course in medicine at twenty-four years of age. During his
yearnings from a variety of traditions, including those of the
studies, he taught French, mathematics, and sciences. Hav-
Ayatollah Khomeini, M
: uhammad Iqbal and Mohandas
ing failed at his attempt to create a teaching institution after
Gandhi. To those drawn to Karbala as a metaphor and trope,
Pestalozzi’s model, he survived by doing translations and
it seems to provide testimony to the sentiment that numeri-
teaching courses at schools and institutes. Notwithstanding
cal strength does not necessarily insure a spiritual and moral
his medical studies, the eight books written from 1824 to
victory. In spite of suffering at the hands of Yaz¯ıd’s massive
1849 deal with mathematics, grammar, and the physical sci-
force, H:usayn and his small band of companions secured en-
ences in general, in which his pedagogical concerns prevail.
during legacies through the rich idioms of Karbala.
He joined several professional, pedagogical, and scientific as-
SEE ALSO Shiism.
In short, Rivail was a typical European scholar of his
time, with a classical training in letters, positivist beliefs, an
interest in the theoretical and applied development of sci-
Al-Serat: Papers from the Imam H:usayn Conference, London, July
1984. London, 1986.
ence, and a professional specialization in teaching. But Rivail
was not an orthodox positivist. Imbued with a great curiosity
Ayoub, Mahmoud. Redemptive Suffering in Islam, a Study of the
Devotional Aspects of EAshuraD in Twelver Shi’ism. Religion
about phenomena unheeded and even shunned by official
and Society Series, No.10. The Hague, 1978.
science, he belonged to the French Society of Magnetists.
Hypnotism, sleepwalking, clairvoyance, and similar phe-
Chelkowski, Peter J. ed. Ta Eziyeh: Ritual and Drama in Iran. New
York, 1979.
nomena strongly attracted him. He studied them as physical
phenomena resulting from unknown causes, an approach re-
Cole, J. R. I. Roots of North Indian Shiism in Iran and Iraq: Reli-
gion and State in Awadh, 1722–1859. Delhi, 1989.
sulting from his being a follower of the theory of animal
magnetism, called Mesmerism, expounded by Franz Anton
Fischer, Michael M. J. Iran, from Religious Dispute to Revolution.
Cambridge, Mass., 1980.
Mesmer (1734–1815).
Halawi, Majed. A Lebanon Defied: Musa al-Sadr and the Sh¯ı’ah
Magnetism brought Rivail in contact with spiritism. He
Community. Boulder, Colo., 1992.
was by then fifty-one years old and had consolidated his sci-
Korom, Frank. Hosay Trinidad: Muharram Performances in an
entific background. In the years 1854 and 1855, the so-
Indo-Caribbean Diaspora. Philadelphia, 2003.
called turning table and talking table invaded Europe from
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the United States and created an intense curiosity. Several
with evil, impurity, and ignorance) up to that of spiritual
people would sit around a table, hand in hand, in a state of
mental concentration; after a certain lapse of time, the table
would begin to rotate, to produce noises, and even to answer,
God is the primary cause that generates the material and
in code, questions proposed by the participants. This prac-
the spiritual; the spirits are engendered by him, and although
tice became quite a fad, especially in the more elegant circles.
they receive a mission and submit to the law of constant
Rivail was introduced by magnetist friends to such sessions,
progress, they are endowed with free will. Spirits continually
which were already accepted by their promoters as demon-
progress toward perfection, and they fulfill their missions
strations of spiritual phenomena. He was initially skeptical
through successive reincarnations, not only on earth (consid-
about their authenticity but was soon to revise his opinion.
ered a planet of atonement) but also on other worlds. The
Under his supervision, the sessions were no longer dedicated
law of cause and effect explains human happiness or misfor-
to frivolous consultations and guessing games but became se-
tune as consequences of good or evil practiced in previous
rious study sessions.
incarnations. Christian charity is the supreme virtue (Christ
is considered the most elevated spirit that has ever incarnat-
Rivail considered such phenomena both relevant and
ed) that makes spiritual evolution possible; it is closely fol-
natural, though invisible, and believed one should adopt a
lowed in importance by the virtue of wisdom. As the locus
“positivist and not an idealist” attitude toward them. If the
of the activity of the developing but morally free spirits and
conditions in which such phenomena manifested themselves
as the product of evolution, the social world, even with its
hindered the use of common scientific instrumentation, he
injustices and inequalities, is seen as ultimately just, and the
believed that one should at least employ the scientific meth-
search for perfection is ruled by individualistic ethics.
od of “observation, comparison, and evaluation.”
It is a rather curious fact that Kardec remained practical-
Inspired by his own experiences, stimulated by illustri-
ly unknown for a long time outside French spiritist circles.
ous spiritists who supplied him with fifty notebooks contain-
Approximately sixty years after his death, Arthur Conan
ing messages from the souls of deceased persons, and guided
Doyle, as chairman of the London Spiritist League and hon-
by the spirits that conferred on him the role of codifier of
orary chairman of the International Spiritist Federation, only
spiritism, Rivail became Allan Kardec; he adopted this pen
devoted a few scanty pages to Kardec in one of the twenty-
name under the inspiration of one of his guiding spirits, who
five chapters of his comprehensive History of Spiritualism
revealed that it had been his name in a former incarnation,
(1926). There seem to be two related reasons for this obscuri-
in which he had been a druid in ancient Gaul. In 1857 he
ty: British spiritism did not accept the idea of reincarnation,
published his fundamental work, Le livre des esprits, which
and, except in France, Kardec’s claim to be the true codifier
contained 501 questions answered by the spirits themselves.
of spiritism by virtue of a mission entrusted to him by the
By the time of its twenty-second and definitive edition, the
spirits was not readily accepted. Although this role currently
number of questions had grown to 1,019.
tends to be universally accepted by spiritists, the name of
Kardec (or Rivail) is not mentioned in the main European
Thereafter followed his other works: Qu’est-ce-que le
encyclopedias, and he remains known only within spiritist
spiritisme? (1859); Le livre des médiums (1861); Refutation
aux critiques au spiritisme (1862); L’évangile selon le spiritisme
(1864); Le ciel et l’enfer, ou La justice divine selon le spiritisme
KARDECISM IN BRAZIL. Originally introduced in Brazil in
(1865); and La genèse, les miracles et les predictions (1868).
the middle of the nineteenth century in the form of “talking
The literature further includes his Œuvres posthumes, pub-
tables,” spiritism mainly attracted teachers, lawyers, physi-
lished in 1890, and an incalculable number of articles pub-
cians, and other intellectuals. One of the reasons for its ap-
lished over a period of eleven years in the Spiritist Journal,
peal was the pseudoscientific character of Kardecism. Karde-
issued by the Parisian Society for Spiritist Studies that had
cist groups were soon organized, first in Bahia (1865), and
been founded by Kardec in 1858 and of which he was the
later in Rio de Janeiro (1873, where the Brazilian Spiritist
chairman to his death in 1869.
Federation was created in the following year), Sa˜o Paulo
(1883), and gradually throughout the entire country. Karde-
Kardecism, as codified by Kardec, defines the spiritist
cism was already attracting large sectors of the urban middle
doctrine in this way: There are souls, or spirits, of deceased
persons that are capable of communication with the living
through mediumistic phenomena. They belong to an invisi-
Although Kardec did not consider spiritism a religion
ble but natural world; there is no discussion of magic, mira-
(but rather a philosophy of science with religious implica-
cles, and the supernatural in Kardecism. This invisible and
tions), Kardecism in Brazil was soon to take on a religious
nonmaterial world is, as part of the natural world, susceptible
character, centering on the idea of charity, which led to th-
to experimentation, but, unlike the natural world, it is eter-
erapeutical practices such as the “pass.” Kardecism followed
nal and preexistent and is identified with goodness, purity,
the same pattern of evolution as positivism, which had al-
and wisdom. There is a spiritual hierarchy ranging from that
ready become a religion in Brazil, with an organized church
most closely identified with the material plane (and hence
and cult.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The 1940 and 1950 censuses in Brazil showed an in-
tense expansion of spiritism: Though its adherents did not
Sociological, anthropological, and historical studies on Kardecism
exceed 2 percent of the population in 1950, it was growing
are scarce. With respect to the historical aspects, one will
at a much more rapid pace than any other religion, including
search in vain for a single work by any specialist in the field;
Catholicism, the unofficial but dominant creed (then ad-
the only texts available are biographies of Kardec written by
hered to by about 90 percent of Brazil’s people). For this rea-
spiritist intellectuals. Among these the best are José Hercu-
lano Pires’s O espírito e o tempo: Introduça˜o histórica ao espiri-
son, the Catholic Church initiated an antispiritist campaign
tismo (Sa˜o Paulo, 1964), a scholarly and interesting work,
during the fifties.
and the voluminous book by Zeus Wantuil and Francisco
A distinguishing feature of Brazilian spiritism is the fact
Thiesen, Allan Kardec, pesquisa bibliográfica e ensaios de
that it is an almost exclusively urban phenomenon. In these
interpretaça˜o, 3 vols. (Rio de Janeiro, 1979–1980), which of-
regions, however, Kardecism is not the only spiritist current
fers a comprehensive analysis and represents the official view
that manifests itself. Another trend is that of Umbanda spir-
of Brazilian Kardecism on the life and work of its inspirer.
itism, a syncretic product of Afro-Brazilian religions under
Among sociological and anthropological studies, the following are
the influence of Kardecism. While Kardecism proper tends
worth mentioning: Cândido Procópio Ferreira de Camargo’s
to be a religion of those of the urban middle classes who have
Kardecismo e Umbanda: Una interpretaça˜o sociológica (Sa˜o
Paulo, 1961); Roger Bastide’s article “Le spiritisme au Bré-
been city-dwellers for several generations, drawing people
sil,” Archives de sociologie des religions 12 (1967): 3–16; and
who have a certain level of secular education and who are dis-
Maria Viveiros de Castro Cavalcanti’s work, O mundo invisi-
posed to accept its pseudoscientific discourse, Umbanda re-
uel: Cosmologia, sistema ritual e noçao de tempo no espiritismo
mains a religion of the unschooled lower classes of more re-
(Rio de Janeiro, 1968). The first two are solid sociological
cent urbanization. Unlike Kardecism, Umbanda is still
analyses of Kardecism in Brazil, with Umbanda as a counter-
linked to a magical conception of the universe.
point; studies solely dedicated to Kardecism, such as Caval-
canti’s interesting and lucid book on Kardecist cosmogony,
Currently, Kardecism and Umbanda encompass signifi-
are few and far between.
cant population groups in Brazil. The censuses, however, do
not register their extension, because both Kardecists and
Finally, one can mention the doctoral dissertation of J. Parke Ron-
Umbandists often also declare themselves to be Catholics, es-
shaw, “Sociological Analysis of Spiritism in Brazil” (Univer-
sity of Florida, 1969), which contains historical data and
pecially for social purposes such as christenings, marriages,
analyses, and Donald Warren, Jr.’s articles “The Portuguese
funerals, and statements given in official forms. In spite of
Roots of Brazilian Spiritism,” Luso-Brazilian Review 5 (De-
the evident importance of spiritism in Brazil—an impor-
cember 1968): 3–33, and “Spiritism in Brazil” in Journal of
tance that is easily verified by other indicators (e.g., the medi-
Inter-American Studies 10 (1968): 393–405.
um Chico Xavier’s book sales are exceeded only by those of
New Sources
the novelist Jorge Amado)—the census still reports the num-
Hess, David. Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazil-
ber of spiritists as approximately 2 percent.
ian Culture. University Park, Pa., 1991.
Despite census data to the contrary, it seems fairly cer-
Hess, David. Samba in the Night. New York, 1994.
tain that Umbandists outnumber Kardecists in Brazil.
Santos, José Luiz dos. Espiritismo: Uma Religia˜ Brasileira. Sa˜o
Though until the forties Kardecism was predominant, in the
Paulo, 1997.
sixties the situation was utterly reversed in favor of Umban-
Wulfhorst, Ingo. Discernindo os Espíritos: O Desafio do Espiritis-
da. It should be noted, however, that the fifties mark the
mo Eda Religiosidade Afro-brasileira. Sa˜o Leopoldo, Brazil,
stage of the greatest penetration of Umbanda by Kardecism.
Up to that time, Umbanda subsisted as a semiclandestine
cult under severe and tyrannical police control. From 1953,
Revised Bibliography
many Kardecists, disenchanted with the prevailing intellectu-
alism of their spiritist centers, turned to Umbanda. Under
their leadership, federations were organized that grouped
Umbanda adherents into units called “yards” and “tents,”
KARELIAN RELIGION. The term Karelia (Finnish,
and these disenchanted Kardecists took over, in a less repres-
Karjala) has had different meanings throughout history. His-
sive and more persuasive fashion, the control that formerly
torically, it was the borderland between Finland and Russia
had been exercised by the police. The price Umbanda had
where most Karelians (Finnish, karjalaiset) lived. At present,
to pay for this protection was its adjustment to a rationaliza-
it typically refers to specific areas in contemporary Russia and
tion and moralization of the cult—processes that were based
on Kardecist models. One may therefore conclude that al-
Recent Russian-Finnish research—around Lake Ladoga
though Umbanda has grown much more rapidly than Karde-
and on the Karelian Isthmus, on the Elk and Guri Islands,
cism over the last few decades, the influence of Kardecism
in Bes Nos and other places on the shores of Lake Onega,
in the context of Brazilian spiritism continues to remain
around Uiku River, and in territories near the Kola Peninsu-
la—has uncovered abundant archaeological evidence dating
SEE ALSO Afro-Brazilian Religions.
back to around 8000 BCE that indicates migrations by several
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

indigenous peoples with an ethnic makeup different from
kingdom of Sweden brought the Lutheran faith to Karelia,
today. Elk, snake, bear, swan, goose, and sturgeon motifs
and the religious border between East and West was accord-
found on objects from graves and petroglyphs dating back
ingly moved eastward. As Finland remained Lutheran, Kare-
to 5500 BCE provide hints of sacred histories, animal ceremo-
lians with different faiths moved across the Russian-Finnish
nialism, and mythological pairings of man and animals.
border repeatedly until 1809, when Finland was annexed by
Czarist Russia.
The experience of living in a spatial and temporal bor-
derland, and of being compelled to cross back and forth over
The October 1917 Revolution both led to Finland’s in-
various borders as the countries, cultures, and peoples
dependence and brought new divisions into Karelian history.
around them change, has deeply affected Karelians. It has
Some Karelian-speaking territories became part of Finland
shaped their lifestyle, their worldview, and their religious
in the north (villages in Kuusamo, Suomussalmi, Kuhmo, Il-
omantsi) and south (Border and Ladoga Karelia). Within the
Karelian-speaking territory not ceded to Finland, there was
The Karelian language belongs to the Baltic Finnish
disagreement about whether Karelians should attempt to
group, and is closest to Finnish, with its “Karelian dialects”
form an independent nation, should integrate themselves
being spoken in the two eastern Finnish provinces of South
into the Soviet system, or should seek integration with Fin-
Karelia (Etelä-Karjala) and North Karelia (Pohjois-Karjala).
land. After the pro-Soviet side won out, pro-independence
People living in the Autonomous Republic of Karelia in Rus-
Karelians staged the Karelian Rebellion of 1921–1922; when
sia speak five Baltic Finnish languages: Veps, Lude, and three
this was crushed around 33,500 refugees fled to Finland. The
forms of Karelian—Livvi or Onega, South, and Viena
largest wave of refugees in Finnish history crossed the newly
(Dvina) or White Sea Karelian. The Izhor (inkeroiset) popu-
established Soviet-Finnish border, culminating in February
lation (consisting of around 1,000 people living in Ingria on
1922 with thousands of refugees who came from White Sea
the south coast of the Gulf of Finland) speaks a Karelian-
(Dvina) Karelia to northern Finland. Accounts of this exo-
related language.
dus, consisting of the oral and written narratives of refugees
Tver, Novgorod, and Pihkova Karelians are descendants
and eyewitnesses (detailed in Pentikäinen, 1978, and Hyry,
of Orthodox refugees who escaped from Karelian and Ingri-
1994), show that interaction between the inhabitants of
an territories around Lake Ladoga to remote settlements
northern Finland and White Sea Karelia continued in spite
throughout Russia after the signing of the Stolbova Treaty
of the border. Refugees crossed back and forth over the bor-
of 1617, which allowed Sweden to annex the province of In-
der publicly and then secretly, using the routes they already
gria. This exodus left space for Lutheran settlers entering
knew and engaging in traditional cultural practices, such as
from Savo (savakot) and Karelia (äyrämöiset). Lutheran iden-
singing poems, together with people from the other side.
tity became one of the main features of Ingrians, who en-
Soon, however, the border was totally closed, and Dvina Ka-
dured Siberian exile after World War II, then relocated to
relians living on both sides became divided from one
Karelia, Estonia, and the district of St. Petersburg, and since
1990 to Finland, where around 25,000 Ingrians have entered
The narratives of the refugees indicate the strong influ-
as returnees. Today, their total population numbers around
ence of the Dvina Karelian tradition. The refugees who told
and sang their history to Finnish scholars (Samuli Paulahar-
ju, Martti Haavio, Pertti Virtaranta, Juha Pentikäinen, Katja
Throughout the course of the nineteenth and twentieth
Hyry, etc.) expressed themselves in the language of oral nar-
centuries, violent religiously based transfers, Russian coloni-
rative and epical poetry, using Karelian genres such as the
zation, and Soviet deportation policies kept the Karelian por-
rune and the lament and calling on legends of the saints and
tion of the population small wherever Karelians lived. Kare-
folk tales. In the descriptions of the eyewitnesses to their
lian speakers in the Autonomous Republic of Karelia number
flight, however, the refugees are considered as a kind of
less than 60,000, under 10 percent of the total population.
crowd or mass. They are seen either as part of “Us”—that
A group of around 30,000 Tver Karelians are the strongest
is, as relatives of the Finns—or as the “Other”: a poor, help-
Karelian ethnic group in Russia, both demographically and
less people who need our (Finns’) help. The attitude of these
eyewitnesses—shared by some Finnish scholars at the time—
Karelian history has been shaped by both political and
was somewhat Social Darwinist: Dvina Karelians are thought
religious struggles between Eastern and Western power blocs
of as a vanishing people whose traditions should be recorded
within Northern Europe. Along with other territories occu-
for posterity’s sake, but whose language should be replaced
pied by indigenous peoples, such as Livonia, Vatja (Votes),
by Finnish as soon as possible. The problem of Karelian-
Ingria, Estonia, Bjarmia, Scridfinnia, and so on, Karelia was
language instruction remained unsolved today, due to this
divided between East and West—for the first time by the
attitude, and because of the fact that for a number of Kare-
Pähkinänsaari Treaty of 1323, which split it between Sweden
lian languages no textbooks have been written and no writing
and Novgorod (Russia). Religiously, Karelia was a battle-
systems have been devised.
ground between Western (Roman Catholic) and Eastern
Karelian literature is largely comprised of long narratives
(Byzantine Greek Orthodox) churches. Wars won by the
written by peasant authors, such as Antti Timonen. Excep-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

tional length is also characteristic of Karelian oral expression,
Harva, Uno. Suomalaisten muinaisusko. Porvoo, Finland, 1948.
such as the epic cycles of White Sea Karelian male singers,
Hyry, Katja. Rajakansan historia ja historian kokijat: Vienankar-
which served as the basis for Elias Lönnrot’s celebrated Kal-
jalaisten vaiheet 1900–luvulla. M.A. thesis, Helsinki Univer-
evala (1835; rev. 1849). The folklore repertoire of refugees
sity, 1994.
such as Marina Takalo (studied by Juha Pentikäinen, 1971,
Järvinen, Irma-Riitta. “Communication between the Living and
1978) included all the basic genres of Karelian oral narrative
the Dead through Rituals and Dreams in Aunus Karelia.” In
and poetry. With their conservative Old Believer mentality
Folklore and the Encounters of Traditions: Proceedings of the
and deep roots in folk culture, refugees favored those narra-
Finnish-Hungarian Symposium, 18–20 March 1996, Jyväs-
tives and poems with the highest testimonial value concern-
kylä, Finland. Edited by P. Suojanen and R. Raittila. Jyväs-
kylä, Finland, 1996.
ing their orally transmitted folk and religious beliefs.
Kaukonen, Väinö. Elias Lönnrotin Kalevalan toinen painos. Suo-
Self-identification as Old Believers, together with strong
malaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran toimituksia no. 247. Helsin-
female leadership and emphasis on oral memory, has contin-
ki, 1956.
ued to characterize Russian- and Karelian-based Eastern Or-
Kuusinen, Otto-Ville. “Kalevala ja sen luojat.” In Kalevala: Kar-
thodox Christianity in Finland, in spite of official ties to the
jalais-suomalainen kansaneepos. Edited by G. Stronk.
Byzantine Orthodox Church in Istanbul. The first contacts
Petroskoi, Russia, 1956.
between Baltic Finnish people and Russian Old Believers
Pentikäinen, Juha. Marina Takalon uskonto: Uskontoantropolo-
took place as early as 800 CE in Novgorod in the heart of
ginen tutkimus. Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden Seuran toimituk-
Finnish-speaking Russia. Vocabulary related to various as-
sia no. 299. Helsinki, 1971.
pects of Christianity (risti, cross; kirkko, church; pappi,
Pentikäinen, Juha. Oral Repertoire and World View: An Anthropo-
priest: raamattu, the Bible) was taken into Finnish from Rus-
logical Study of Marina Takalo’s Life History. Folklore Fel-
sian via these encounters. It was through Karelia that Finland
lows’ Communications no. 219. Helsinki, 1978.
absorbed the first traces of Christianity in its Russian Pre-
Pentikäinen, Juha. Kalevala Mythology. Translated and edited by
Orthodox form, before the 1651 schism that led to the divi-
Ritva Poom. Folklore Studies in Translation series. Bloom-
sion of Russian Eastern Christianity into the mainstream
ington, Ind., and Indianapolis, 1989.
Russian Orthodox Church and the conservative Old Faith
Pentikäinen, Juha, ed. “Silent as Waters We Live”: Old Believers in
(staraya verh). Karelia, with its location far from the centers
Russia and Abroad: Cultural Encounter with the Finno-
Studia fennica Folkloristica no. 6. Helsinki, 1999.
of the Czarist empire, became the favored locale for Old Be-
liever monasteries and a place to which Old Believers could
Ravdonikas, F. V. Lunarnye znaki v naskal’nyh izobrazeniah
Onetskogo ozera. Novosibirsk, Russia, 1978.
escape. The majority of Karelians throughout Russia were
Old Believers, to such an extent that the terms Karelian and
Stoljar, A. D. Dreivneishi plast petroglifov Onetskogo ozera. Peter-
burgski archeologicheski vestnik no. 9. Saint Petersburg,
Old Believer became synonymous.
The Kalevala, Finland’s national epic, has its own im-
Stoljar, A. D. “Oleneostrovski mogilnik i yego progrebeniye n 100
portance for Karelians, as a sacred history rather than as a re-
kak agenty mezolitischeskogo etnokulturogeneza Severa.” In
cording of oral mythology. Lönnrot, the author of the Kal-
Drevnosti Severo-Zapadnoi Rossii, edited by V. M. Massova,
evala and also a collector of runes, became the mythographer
E. N. Nosova, and E. A. Râbinina. Saint Petersburg, 1995.
of the Finns. His research led him to identify the ancient
Timonen, Antti. Me karjalaiset. Petroskoi, Russia, 1971. A novel.
basis of Finnish religion in the worship of Ukko, the Finnish
Virtaranta, Pertti. Vienan kansa muistelee. Porvoo, Finland, 1958.
deity of thunder.
Michael (Mikael) Agricola, the Lutheran reformer of
Finland, was the first to recognize the cultural divide be-
tween East and West. The preface to his translation of the
Psalter includes two lists of gods, one set worshiped by
Tavastians in the west, the other by Karelians in the east.
Uno Harva’s Suomalaisten muinaisusko (The ancient religion
of the Finns, 1948), and Martti Haavio’s Karjalan jumalat
(Karelian gods; 1959) both owe a debt to this early docu-
This entry consists of the following articles:
ment on the most important border inside Finland—that be-
tween East and West. Finnish religion has Western (Finn-
ish), Karelian, and Northern nuances.
SEE ALSO Finnish Religions; Finno-Ugric Religions.
As diverse as the culture of India may be, one common as-
sumption undergirds virtually all major systems of South
Asian religious thought and practice: a person’s behavior
Alho, Olli, et al., eds. Finland: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Finnish
leads irrevocably to an appropriate reward or punishment
Literature Society editions no. 684. Helsinki, 1987.
commensurate with that behavior. This, briefly stated, is the
Haavio, Martti. Karjalan jumalat. Porvoo, Finland, 1959.
law of karman.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The importance of the idea of karman is not limited to
of these traditions share the same teachings regarding the na-
the religions of the subcontinent. It is likely that no other
ture of action, the desirability of the result, and the effective
notion from the sacred traditions of India has had more in-
mechanism that links the two. On the contrary, views vary
fluence on the worldviews assumed by non-Indian cultures
widely in this regard. This means that there is no single
than that of karman, for in it lie the foundations of a wealth
South Asian notion of karman.
of astute ethical, psychological, metaphysical, and sacerdotal
EARLY RITUAL NOTIONS. The poets who composed the sa-
doctrines. Translations of the word (Pali, kamma; Tib., las;
cred hymns of the Vedic Mantrasam:hita¯s in the twelfth cen-
Chin., yeh or yin-kuo; Jpn., go¯ or inga) have for centuries
tury BCE sang praises to the gods in reverential, supplicatory,
been a key part of the religious lexica of the various canonical
and sometimes cajoling tones. Deities were powerful beings
languages of Asia. Furthermore, the word karma (the nomi-
who held control over the lives of the people on earth but
native form of the Sanskrit karman) has in the last few gener-
who nevertheless could be propitiated and pleased with sacri-
ations also entered the vocabulary of European languages,
ficial gifts and who enjoyed staged battles, chariot racing,
appearing first in technical Indological works and more re-
gambling, and riddles. The Vedic Bra¯hman:as (900 BCE and
cently in popular or colloquial use as well.
the following few centuries) present images of elaborate
The term is based on the Sanskrit verbal root kr, mean-
priestly actions performed in order to offer these gifts and
ing “act, do, bring about,” the idea being that one makes
entertainment to the gods, to the advantage—wealth, pres-
something by doing something; one creates by acting. It may
tige, immortality, and so on—of the person who paid for the
be of interest to note that some linguists see the Indo-
expert services of the priests and their assistants. This sacer-
European root of the word karman (namely, *kwer, “act”)
dotal performance was known as karman, the “action” of the
in the English word ceremony, which can mean either a com-
ritual undertaken to gain a particular end. The rites were
bination of sacred acts performed according to prescribed
often quite expensive and the rewards not always immediate-
norms or a system of proper behavior that keeps the world
ly realized, so the patrons were reassured that their support
running smoothly. The same meanings hold, in part, for kar-
of the ceremony would benefit them sometime in the future.
man. Originally referring to properly performed ritual activi-
Arguments in defense of this notion that the reward for
ty, the notion was ethicized to include the larger meaning
one’s present ritual action is reaped in the future laid part
of any correct activity in general. Granting this view, the reli-
of the foundation for later doctrines of rebirth and transmi-
gious, social, and medical philosophers of India, particularly
gration. This development can be seen in the use of syno-
those intrigued by the doctrines of rebirth and of the origins
nyms or near-synonyms for the word karman. For instance,
of suffering (but also of the related problems of the source
the term is:t:a¯pu¯rta (“the fulfillment of that which is desired”)
of personality and the justification of social status), expanded
refers to a kind of package, as it were, that holds all of one’s
the meaning of the term. Under this new understanding,
deeds and that precedes a person to the world to come, where
karman came to denote the impersonal and transethical sys-
it establishes a place for him (see R:gveda 10.14.8). The
tem under which one’s current situation in the world is re-
Bra¯hman:as also describe the rewards as events that will hap-
garded as the fruit of seeds planted by one’s behavior and dis-
pen in the future and describe the sacrifice as apu¯rva-karman,
positions in the past, and the view that in all of one’s present
“action the results of which have not yet been seen.”
actions lie similar seeds that will have continuing and deter-
minative effect on one’s life as they bear fruit in the future.
Evidence suggests that in the early Brahmanic period
the gods were generally free to accept or reject the gifts and
The language here (“fruit,” Skt., phala; “seed,” b¯ıja;
therefore were not bound to respond in kind. Over time,
etc.) is remarkably consistent throughout the long history of
though, the Pu¯rva M¯ıma¯m:sa¯ philosophers came to view the
Indian religions. Some scholars have seen in it evidence of
ritual in magical terms: if the priest performed the prescribed
an agricultural ecology and value system that knows that a
actions correctly, he controlled the gods, who were forced by
well-planted field yields good crops; that the land will give
the devices of the ritual to respond in the way the priest de-
birth repeatedly if healthy seeds find in it a place to take hold
sired. Conversely, the priest’s improper performance of the
and grow; that the apparent death of a plant in the fall is
ceremony led to the certain ruin of him or his patron. Kar-
merely the process by which that plant assures its own renew-
man for these thinkers therefore did not involve divine will;
al in the spring; and that life, therefore, is a periodic cycle
it was part of an impersonal metaphysical system of cause
of death and then rebirth determined by the healthy or un-
and effect in which action brought an automatic manipulat-
healthy conditions of former births.
ed response. The Brahmanic notion of karman thus centers
Possibly originating, therefore, in the agrarian experi-
on the view that a person is born into a world he has made
ence of aboriginal India, the notion of an impersonal law of
for himself (see Kaus:¯ıtak¯ı Bra¯hman:a 26.3, for example). This
cause and effect subsequently pervaded the (often decidedly
meant that every action in the ritual was important and that
un-agricultural) ideology of Vedic ritualism, Yoga, the Ve-
every action brought a result of one kind or another, and did
danta, Ayurvedic medicine, and sectarian theism, and it
so irrevocably.
stands as a central theme in the lessons recorded in the scrip-
RENUNCIANT NOTIONS. The renunciant tradition provided
tures of Jainism and Buddhism. This is not to say that all
two principal contexts for the elaboration of the notion of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

karman. The Upanis:ads speculate, among other topics, on
or through the intervention of a personal supreme deity who
human action and its consequences in this and in subsequent
lived beyond the karmic realm.
lives; the Yoga literature provides a more systematic and
Karman in classical Yoga. The practioners and philos-
pragmatic approach to liberation from the consequences of
ophers of classical Yoga agreed with the Upanis:adic idea that
one’s circumstances are determined by one’s actions. Like
Karman in Upanisadic thought. The composers of the
some of those sages they, too, understood karman to involve
major Upanis:ads (eighth to fifth century
what might be called a substance that leads the soul from one
BCE) generally saw
two paths open to the deceased at the time of death. The
body to another as it moves from birth to birth. Patañjali’s
lower path, one on which the person eventually returns to
Yoga Su¯tra (the pertinent passages of which were composed
earth in a subsequent birth, is described as the “way of the
in the second century BCE) analyzes the ways in which such
fathers” (pitr:ya¯na) and is traveled by those who perform the
transfer takes place. Any act (karman) performed as a result
rituals in hopes of material gain. The higher path, the way
of desire creates what is known as karma¯´saya, the “accumula-
of the gods (devaya¯na), is one that does not lead to rebirth
tion for receptacle of karman” that is either beneficial or
on earth and is taken by those who have renounced worldly
harmful depending on the quality of the act itself. Karma¯´saya
ends and practice austerities in the forest. Br:hada¯ran:yaka
can be understood as a kind of seed that will mature either
Upanis:ad 4.4.4 describes the process with the doctrine that,
in one’s present life or, if not fully ripened, in another life-
as a goldsmith forms a new and more beautiful form out of
time (adr:s:t:ajanman). That seed includes one’s personal dis-
a rough nugget, the soul leaves the body at death and fash-
positions (sam:ska¯ra¯), including those themes or memories
ions for itself a new and fairer body. Human happiness is said
imprinted at the unconscious levels of one’s mind (va¯sana¯)
to be a fraction of the bliss known by a celestial man-spirit
and that serve as the source of the five habitual personal “af-
(manus:ya-gandharva), which in turn is meager compared to
flictions” (kle´sa) of ignorance, ego, hatred, and the will to live
that of a karma-deva, a human who has become a god by his
(see Yoga Su¯tra 2.3). The kle´sas tend to reinforce the igno-
actions (see Taittir¯ıya Upanis:ad 2.8 and Br:hada¯ran:yaka
rant notion that activity directed to some end is desirable,
Upanis:ad 4.3.33).
and in so doing are the main reason that people stay trapped
in the wheel of life and death. If a person dies before all of
Seeking to understand the Brahmanic notion of the rit-
his accumulated karma¯´saya is gone, that karmic residue joins
ual in anthropological rather than sacerdotal terms, the
with his unfulfilled thoughts, desires, and feelings in search
Upanis:adic sages taught that all physical and mental activity
of a new body whose nature is receptive to his pertinent dis-
was an internal reflection of cosmic processes. Accordingly,
positions, which it then enters (a¯pu¯ra, literally, “making
they held that every action, not only those performed in the
full”) and through which the unripened seeds can come to
public ritual, leads to an end. One’s behavior in the past has
fruit. A person with a passion for food thus may be reborn
determined one’s situation in the present, and the totality of
as a hog. One eventually gets what one wants, even though
one’s actions in the present construct the conditions of one’s
it may take more than one lifetime to do so. That’s the prob-
future. Thus, the Br:hada¯ran:yaka Upanis:ad’s assertion that
lem. For in order to get what one wants one needs a body,
“truly, one becomes good through good action, bad by bad”
and in order to have a body one needs to be born. Birth leads
(3.2.13) represents the encompassing Upanis:adic scope of
to death, death leads to birth. Unless the cycle is broken it
karman. From this notion arises the idea that one’s worldly
never stops.
situation and personality are determined by one’s desire: that
Without values directed towards the attainment of
is, one’s desire affects one’s will; one’s will leads one to act
worldly goals a person will cease to behave according to one’s
in certain ways; and, finally, one’s actions bring proportion-
desire, and without that desire no karmic residue, no unma-
ate and appropriate results.
tured seeds, can accumulate. Classical Yoga, as represented
For the most part the composers of the major Upanis:ads
by Patañjali, presents the yogin with a set of practices by
disdained actions performed for the resulting enjoyment of
which that person can be free of the karmic process. In these
worldly pleasures, for such material pursuit necessarily leads
exercises the meditator reduces the power of the kle´sas by
from one birth to another in an endless cycle characterized
performing actions that are opposed to their fulfillment. Tra-
by dissatisfaction and, thus, to unhappiness. “The tortuous
ditionally this meant the practice of ascetic renunciation of
passage from one birth to another [sa¯mpara¯ya] does not shine
physical pleasures. Thorough renunciation makes it impossi-
out to who is childish, careless and deluded by the glimmer
ble for new kle´sas to arise, and through more and more subtle
of wealth,” the Lord of the Dead tells Naciketas. “Thinking
meditations the kle´sas that remain from the past are diluted
‘this is the world, there is no other,’ he falls again and again
so much that they no longer produce any karma¯´sayas. At this
under my power” (Kat:ha Upanis:ad 2.6).
point the person (purus:a) within the yogin no longer needs
a body because it no longer has any unripened karma¯´saya,
The only way to break this turning wheel of life and
and at the death of the present body the person no longer
death (sam:sa¯ra) was to free oneself of the structures and pro-
migrates to another life. The purus:a is liberated from the en-
cesses of karman. The composers of the Upanis:ads under-
trapping demands of habitual afflictions and experiences
stood this liberation to take place through the practice of yoga
kaivalya, “autonomy.”
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j¯ıva determines the conditions and circumstances of its sub-
b¯ıja (seed), karma¯´saya (karmic residue), va¯sana¯ (pychological
sequent rebirth. Competitive, violent, self-infatuated people
traces) and others suggest a general South Asian notion that
carry the heavy weight of karman and will sink downwards
some “thing” is created and left behind by one’s actions. At
through their many lifetimes as demons or as animals who
times the Upanis:ads describe karman almost as a substance
live by eating others; gentle, caring, and compassionate be-
that not only influences one’s subsequent births but can also
ings gradually cleanse their j¯ıva of its encumbering karman
be passed from one person to another, especially from father
and rise through rebirth towards enlightenment.
to son. The Kaus:¯ıtak¯ı Bra¯hman:a Upanis:ad, for example, tells
Even unintentional violence, however, burdens the j¯ıva
a dying father to transfer his karman to his son, saying “let
with the stain of karman. Thus, Jain tradition demands abso-
me place my deeds in you” (2.15). The son is then able to
lute ahim:sa¯, a complete unwillingness to kill or injure any
perform atoning actions such that the father is free of the
and all living beings. Jains, therefore, are absolute vegetari-
consequences of his own improper behavior (see
ans, some of whom in their attempts to sustain themselves
Br:hada¯ran:yaka Upanis:ad 1.5.17).
with food in which no living creature has met a violent death
Ritual practices in which one either supplements or at-
refuse even to pick the living fruit from a tree, waiting instead
tenuates the karman acquired by one’s ancestors take place
until it falls of its own (ripened) accord.
in various Vedic ´srauta and Hindu pu¯ja¯ ceremonies that have
A j¯ıva finds release from the bonds of rebirth only when
been practiced from the time of the Bra¯hman:as and
it stops accumulating new karman and removes that karman
Dharma´sa¯stras. They appear, for example, in the postclassi-
already there. This is described as a long and arduous task,
cal sa¯pin:d:¯ıkaran:a and bali rites in which balls of rice and
one that takes many lifetimes to complete. Although the nec-
other foods that are said to contain an ancestor’s karman are
essary discipline can be practiced by lay members of the com-
ceremonially offered to the deceased.
munity, traditionally only renunciate Jains can undergo the
Indian medical texts of the Ayurveda traditions agree
physical austerities and rigorous mental concentration that
that karman is a material entity of sorts that can be passed
are needed to remove the karman from their j¯ıvas. One who
from one generation to the next. The Caraka Sam:hita¯ (first
through many ascetic lifetimes has completely removed the
century CE), for example, maintains that karman resides in
cloud of karman from his j¯ıva is known as a siddha (one who
substance (dravya) and is one of the causes of physical health
has “succeeded”) or a kevalin, an omniscient and enlightened
and disease. Accordingly, karman is seen as an important fac-
being. The paradigmatic ascetic here is Maha¯v¯ıra
tor in medical etiologies and in techniques of fertility in
Vardhama¯na, who, according to Digambara tradition, wan-
which a father and mother perform certain actions so that
dered naked and homeless as he practiced nonviolence,
the embryo (garbha, sometimes called the “seed”) can acquire
truthfulness, honesty, renunciation of possessions, and sexual
the most desirable or auspicious karmic elements and thus
be born a strong person with admirable character.
By far the most assertive thinkers concerning the materi-
Some thinkers in ancient India found practical problems in
al nature of karman, however, are the Jains, who since the
the renunciate attitude towards karman. For example, if all
sixth century BCE have followed the teachings and traditions
actions, including good actions, bring consequences, don’t
surrounding the founder of Jainism, Maha¯v¯ıra Vardhama¯na.
all actions, including good actions, lead inevitably to rebirth?
Central to Jain doctrine in general is the notion that the liv-
Does this mean that one must renounce all actions, even
ing entity (j¯ıva, “life”) within a person is by nature blissful
good ones? Isn’t renunciation itself an act, and therefore con-
and intelligent. Traditional teachings sometimes describe the
stitutive of karmic residue; isn’t the desire for liberation still
j¯ıva as a pure, colorless, and transparent energy and maintain
a desire? Doesn’t the final end of renunciation of all action
that all of the infinite creatures in the universe—including
result in willful death, since one must actively eat and breathe
animals, plants, and rocks as well as human beings—possess
in order to live; yet isn’t suicide itself considered an evil and
such an ethereal crystalline life within them. But, also ac-
thus entrapping action?
cording to Jain thought, the spatial world occupied by the
The author or authors of the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ (c. first cen-
j¯ıvas is permeated with a kind of subtle dust or stained liquid
tury BCE) seem to have been aware of these problems. Gener-
that has existed since time immemorial and that “sticks,” as
ally supportive of the value of disciplined meditation (see
it were, to each j¯ıva, soiling and infecting its original nature
Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ 6.10–6.13), those philosophers nevertheless
with a color (le´sya), the hue and intensity of which corre-
saw the impossibility of complete inaction, for “even the
sponds to the amount of desire, hatred, and love with which
maintenance of your physical body requires activity” (3.8).
that being performs any given action. This glutinous blurry
stuff is karman. Virtuous and selfless action attracts to the
Noting that one cannot remain inactive, and aligning
j¯ıva the lighter and less cloudy colors, which hardly obscure
themselves with the social philosophy presented in the
the j¯ıva’s nature at all, compared to the dark and muddy col-
Dharma´sa¯stras and related Hindu orthodox literatures on
ors brought together by acts engendered in self-concern. The
law outlining specific responsibilities incumbent on people
amount and color of the karman that adheres to any given
in various occupations and stages of life, the authors of the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ present the idea that one should perform those
Farquhar, J. N. “Karma: Its Value as a Doctrine of Life.” Hibbert
actions that are obligatory (niyata) to one’s position in soci-
Journal 20 (1921–1922): 20–34.
ety (svadharma), and the better one performs those actions
Glasenapp, Helmuth von. The Doctrine of Karman in Jain Philoso-
the purer their result (Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ 18.23, 2.31). Personal
phy. Translated by G. Barry Gifford. Bombay, 1942.
preference should have nothing to do with one’s duties. In
Hall, Rodney. The Law of Karma. Canberra, 1968.
fact, to perform someone else’s responsibilities well is worse
Henseler, Éric de. L’âme et le dogme de la transmigration dans les
than performing one’s own badly (3.35, 18.45–48).
livres sacrés de l’Inde ancienne. Paris, 1928.
The Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ justifies its teaching with a theologi-
Kalghatgi, T. G. Karma and Rebirth. Ahmadabad, 1972.
cal argument: social responsibilities arise from divine law
(Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ 3.15a). Therefore, priests should perform rit-
Keyes, Charles F., and E. Valentine Daniel, eds. Karma: An An-
uals, soldiers should fight battles, and merchants should con-
thropological Inquiry. Berkeley, 1983.
duct the affairs of business (18.41–44) not because they want
O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical
to but because it is ordained by God to do so. If done proper-
Indian Traditions. Berkeley, 1980.
ly, such action cannot be considered evil and therefore does
Silburn, Lilian. Instant et cause: Le discontinu dans la pensée philo-
not lead to rebirth.
sophique de l’Inde. Paris, 1955.
But if action itself does not lead to rebirth, then what
Steiner, Rudolf. Die Offenbarungen des Karma: Ein Zyklus von elf
does? The authors of the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ supported the general
Vorträgen. Dornach, 1956.
South Asian notion that karmic action arises from desire;
from this idea they developed the doctrine that it is the desire
for certain results, and not the action itself, that gives rise to
the mechanism of karmic processes. For these sages, freedom
from the bonds of karman comes not when one ceases acting
but when one acts without desire, when one renounces the
The Indian religious worldview emerging about the time of
attachment one has for the fruits of one’s actions
the Buddha centered on three interrelated notions: rebirth,
(Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ 4.19–23).
karman, and liberation. These concepts informed the cos-
mology, eschatology, and soteriology of the developing tradi-
According to the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ and similar devotional
tions, which taught that sentient beings have been reborn re-
texts, this renunciation of desire for specific ends can be ob-
peatedly in diverse forms of life, in places ranging from
tained only through bhakti-yoga, the loving surrender to
various hells to the highest heavens, over vast tracks of time.
God’s will. Ritual actions properly performed are meritori-
This process of rebirth is guided and even generated by the
ous, and ascetic meditation leads to release. But these two
force of a person’s actions (karman), which possess the power
modes of action either require wealth or are difficult to per-
of inevitably working their consequences. Thus, deeds in the
fect. Purportedly quoting Kr:s:n:a (that is, God) himself, the
present will unfailingly bear their fruit in this or a future life,
Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ offers a theological response to these difficul-
and present conditions, pleasurable or disagreeable, includ-
ties: “Those who dedicate all of their actions [karman] to Me,
ing one’s form of existence, length of life, social station, and
intent on Me, with unwavering discipline, meditating on
personal appearance, are the effects of deeds performed in the
Me; those who revere Me—for those I am the Savior from
past. The span of one’s existence through cycles of birth and
the sea of the cycle of deaths” (12.6–12.7b); those who see
death (sam:sa¯ra) stretches back endlessly into the past and will
their actions as God’s actions and the results as God’s will
continue without limit into the future, unless liberation is
“are also liberated from the traps of karman” (mucyanti te’pi
attained. The understanding of the mechanism of karmic
karmabhih:, 3.31d).
bondage and the nature of emancipation evolved variously
SEE ALSO Bhagavadg¯ıta¯; Bhakti; Dharma, article on Hindu
within the different traditions, and—although notions of
Dharma; Jainism; Maha¯v¯ıra; Upanis:ads; Yoga.
karman are also found in pre-Buddhist Upanis:ads and in Jain
thought—the precise relationships among the traditions re-
mains uncertain.
Bhattacharyya, Haridas. “The Doctrine of Karma.” Visva-Bharati
Quarterly 3 (1925–1926): 257–258.
karman as causal action and its consequence is often said to
Bhattacharyya, Haridas. “The Brahmanical Concept of Karma.”
be the cornerstone of Buddhist philosophy and its basis for
In A. R. Wadia; Essays in Philosophy Presented in His Honor,
explaining human existence and the physical world. It is,
edited by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan et al., pp. 29–49. Ma-
however, less a clearly articulated doctrine than an elemental
dras, 1954.
insight, in terms of which Buddhists have apprehended the
Bhattacharyya, Kalidas. “The Status of the Individual in Indian
temporal, existential dimension of human life rooted in the
Metaphysics.” In The Status of the Individual East and West,
realization of non-self. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of
edited by Charles A. Moore, pp. 29–49. Honolulu, 1968.
Buddhist thought within the Indian context, non-self is ex-
Dilger, D. Der indischer Seelungswanderungsglaube. Basel, 1910.
pressed in the early tradition as the rejection of the bifurca-
Falke, Robert. Die Seelenwanderung. Berlin, 1913.
tion of experience into subject and object (five aggregates),
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

and further as release from painful, repetitive existence
acts may in fact be injurious. The monk Na¯gasena explains
through the eradication of delusional egocentric craving (de-
that since the offering of a meal to S´a¯kyamuni by Cunda
pendent arising).
was done with good intentions, even though the Buddha
fell ill and died upon eating it, Cunda was not at fault (Milin-
Although karman in Indian thought originally presup-
posed an enduring entity as both agent of action and recipi-
ent of rebirth, it also appears in legendary accounts of the
This emphasis on intention as determinate of the quali-
Buddha’s enlightenment. The early tradition teaches that he
ty of acts was developed by early Buddhists through various
attained three insights during the three watches of the night
classifications. All human activity is classified in terms of
following his awakening: he saw his own previous lives and
three modes of action: bodily, vocal, and mental. Thoughts
how each conditioned subsequent ones; he saw that beings
of theft or murder bear karmic effects, even though not phys-
everywhere also underwent repeated rebirths, receiving the
ically enacted. In addition, a twofold classification of acts
results of acts performed in past lives; and he perceived the
centering on intention was expounded: the act of intending
desires and attachments that bound one to further painful
and acts performed having been intended. The former cate-
rebirth and the method by which to eradicate them. The crit-
gory consists of mental acts, while the latter consists of bodily
ical role of karman in constituting samsaric existence was ex-
and verbal acts that arise as manifestations of volition
pressed by the notion of dependent arising, the core motif of
which was formulated as: “When this arises, that arises; when
THE MORAL QUALITY OF ACTS. Karman is classified by
this is not, that is not” (Majjhima-nika¯ya I, 262–263).
moral quality as good or wholesome (ku´sala), unwholesome
(aku´sala), and indeterminate (avya¯kr:ta). Unwholesome or
The concept of dependent arising was developed into
“unskillful” acts result in unhappy rebirth (in the realms of
a twelve-link chain: conditioned by ignorance, mental for-
hell, animals, or spirits), and a list of “ten evil acts” is orga-
mations arise; conditioned by formations, consciousness
nized in terms of bodily, vocal, and mental deeds: taking life,
arises; and so forth, leading finally to old age and death.
taking what is not given, sexual misconduct; false speech,
These links are seen as elements within phases of past karmic
slander, harsh speech, frivolous talk; greed, malice, and false
acts (ignorance, formations) leading to present conditions
views. Good or “skillful” acts, given in a corresponding list
(consciousness, mind-objects, six senses, sensory contact,
of ten admonitions, result in propitious rebirth (as a human
feeling) and present actions (craving, grasping, becoming)
or deva). Indeterminate acts do not produce a karmic result.
leading to future consequences (birth, old age and death).
Here again one sees the centrality of intention in early Bud-
The reverse chain leads from eradication of ignorance to the
dhist thought, for present conditions, which are the results
cessation of the successive links and liberation from karman-
of past actions, are themselves indeterminate. In this way,
formed existence. Thus, the earliest strata of Buddhist texts
Buddhists sought to avoid any determinism of the moral
state: “One who sees dependent arising rightly sees karman
quality of present acts by direct causation from the past.
and its matured fruit” (Suttanipa¯ta), and further, “One who
sees dependent arising sees dhamma [dharma]”
Further, the early tradition asserts the strictness of the
(Majjhima-nika¯ya I, 190–191).
causal working of karman. One’s karman is one’s own;
whether good or bad, it is like “a treasure not shared with
others, which no thief can steal” (Khuddakapa¯tha, p.7).
In early Buddhist tradition, karman is understood not only
Thus, the consequences of one’s actions will return upon
as an aspect of the Buddha’s awakening, but also as broadly
oneself alone. Karmic effect is open to various forms of con-
ethical in implication, in contrast to the Brahmanic tradi-
ditioning, and the results of a particular act may vary de-
tion, in which the notion of karman concerned the efficacy
pending on when it is performed (the time of death is partic-
of sacrificial rites. In Vedic tradition, it is the enactment of
ularly potent), the combination with other acts, the quality
sacrifice itself and its ritual correctness, rather than moral
of habitual conduct that forms its context, or the attitude
quality, that are determinative of the result. Karman in early
taken toward the act before or even after it has been per-
Buddhist thought also differs from the contemporaneous
formed. For example, the degree of deliberation preceding
Jain tradition, in which it is conceived as material accretion
an act, and the presence of regret or of repentance and expia-
or residue, so that, for example, any act destructive of sen-
tion after, may influence the karmic effect of both good and
tient life will bear fruit, even though it may have been unin-
evil acts, either intensifying or meliorating the result. Never-
tended. Buddhist tradition asserts intention (cetana¯) or the
theless, however conditioned, karman unfailingly brings
originating impulse as the critical element of any karmic act.
about consequences. It may ripen quickly in the present life
The Buddha states: “Monks, I say that intention is acting;
or bear its fruit only in some future life, but its effect will
by intention, one performs an action of body, speech, or
not be lost and its potency not exhausted or nullified until
mind” (Aguttara-nika¯ya III, 415). It is the intention func-
it works itself out.
tioning as the motive force giving rise to deeds that deter-
mines their quality and thus their karmic effect. Hence, harm
Karman in early Buddhist tradition thus suggests a
inflicted inadvertently does not necessarily bespeak an evil
moral eschatology in which one’s future depends on the
act entailing unwholesome retribution, and even meritorious
moral qualities of the thoughts underlying one’s acts in the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

present. The ethical import is to shun evil acts and strive to
Some studies of the present Therava¯da tradition have
do good: “Watchful of speech, well restrained in mind, / One
distinguished these two patterns of religious acts as kammatic
would not do what is unwholesome by body too; / These
and nibbanic, the former emphasizing giving and right con-
three modes of action one would purify; / Let one fulfill the
duct and directed toward achieving higher states within sam-
path made known by the sages” (Dhammapada, verse 281).
saric existence, while the latter focuses on meditative practice
This vision, however, is complicated by two intertwined is-
leading to liberation from sam:sa¯ra. The former turns on the
sues: the soteriological aim of liberation from karmic func-
karmic effects of merit-making, while the latter seeks the
tioning itself, rather than skillful application of it, and the
eradication of karman through perfect disinterestedness.
rejection of enduring, substantial existents, including a “self”
that can inherit the consequences of its own past acts.
The working of karman, however, also serves to conjoin
these two patterns. Since the path to liberation traverses
MERIT AND LIBERATION. While karman expresses the moral
many lifetimes, present merit may be understood to lead to
logic at work within the cosmos of living beings, liberation
conditions favorable to purifying practice and eventual at-
in the Buddhist path ultimately involves transcendence of ex-
tainment of nirva¯n:a. In addition, through transference of
istence as continual rebirth, which is karmically generated
merit, one may generously turn the effects of a meritorious
and characterized as delusionally driven and painful. Because
act to benefit another. That persons must each bear the re-
the notion of karman continued to underpin ideas of merit
sults of their own deeds is a fundamental postulate of the no-
(pun:ya) accumulation originating in the Vedic context of
tion of karman emphasized in the early tradition. At the same
sacrificial rite, two general goals were upheld by early Bud-
time, however, examples are recorded of a person ascribing
dhist practitioners, reflecting distinct attitudes toward
a good deed, such as a gift of food to monks, to other beings,
including famished spirits and devas, so that they might re-
ceive the merit. Such a notion of compassionate transference
On the one hand, acts may be distinguished as sources
later developed into a hallmark of Maha¯ya¯na tradition.
of merit or demerit, the former leading toward happy future
conditions and the latter toward painful states. In the early
tradition, meritorious action is enumerated as giving (da¯na),
Scholastic traditions developed in the monastic communities
moral conduct (´s¯ıla), and meditative practice (bha¯vana¯), but
in the centuries following the Buddha’s death, resulting in
da¯na as almsgiving is given particular attention as a source
a literature of doctrinal systematization and categorization
of merit for laity. Further, the degree of merit accrued in an
known as abhidharma (further teaching). Adopting an
act of giving is said to turn on the worthiness of the recipient,
objectifying stance of exhaustive analytical reflection, the ab-
who is a “field of merit” in which the gift as seed is brought
hidharma broke down all existents and phenomena into con-
to fruition. Any act of charity may bear fruit, but the greatest
stituent, elemental factors (dharmas) categorized as con-
rewards lie in the supreme field of merit, the community of
sciousness, mental attitudes, material elements, elements
monks (sam:gha) led by the Buddha. The practical signifi-
neither mental nor material such as causal relation, and the
cance of this metaphor for the symbiotic relationship be-
uncreated. These psychological and physical dharmas (num-
tween monks and laity is evident, but it has also been sug-
bering seventy-five in the Sarva¯stiva¯da school and eighty-two
gested that the importance placed on the recipient stems
in the Therava¯da abhidharma) were said to arise in compos-
from the original sacrificial context of the act of almsgiving
ites in the present instant, then immediately pass away. Thus,
as a form of worship.
although normally experienced as continuous and integral,
mental functioning is merely a rapid series of discrete in-
On the other hand, the goal of the Buddhist path is not
stants of consciousness, each arising as a psychophysical com-
higher states of existence or ascension through the five
bination of numerous dharmas, and objects grasped as endur-
“courses,” including human and deva, of the realm of desire
ing and real are no more than momentary aggregates of
into the loftier realms of form and formlessness. Rather, one
dharmas informed by conceptual construction. What is actu-
seeks to sever the bonds to samsaric existence altogether. This
ally and irreducibly existent are only the elemental factors
is nirva¯n:a, which, in terms of karman, is “extinction” of af-
coming together and passing away.
flicting passions giving rise to acts of karmic retribution and
cessation of the resultant pain of continual rebirth. Since any
In the abhidharma schools, the notion of karman func-
thoughts of attachment within the realms of rebirth, even to
tioned as a fundamental causal principle underlying the lin-
meritorious acts or blissful states of life, are themselves kar-
ear, temporal flow of all things, but a number of contentious
man that will bind one to further samsaric existence, libera-
issues relating to it were debated. For example, although the
tion is attained only when one produces no karman and one’s
Therava¯da tradition emphasized intention as determinant of
karman from the past has been exhausted. Acts performed
the moral quality of even physical acts, Sarva¯stiva¯dins assert-
with detachment and equanimity (upeks:) bear no further re-
ed that bodily and vocal acts, being material, manifest but
sults, whether good or bad. Hence, it is by purification of
are distinct from intention as a mental act. Further, major
the mind through right conduct, meditation, and religious
issues arose regarding karmic causation. How can actions oc-
insight, so that one’s acts are free of greed, malice, and delu-
curring in the present moment and then passing away bring
sional thinking, that nirva¯n:a is attained.
about consequences in the future? The Sarva¯stiva¯dins argued
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

that dharmas themselves, as elemental factors, exist in the fu-
changing; if it expires, it cannot function as cause. In either
ture and past as well as in the present, although the modes
case, it cannot produce a result. Karman must be neither con-
of existence differ. Dharmas existing in the future move,
tinuous nor discontinuous; this eradication of objectifying
through causes, into the present and arise in fusion with
conceptual bifurcation pervades the world of non-self or
countless other dharmas as actions or composite things be-
emptiness. To go beyond emptiness-contemplation as the
fore slipping into the past. Since the dharmas continue to
elimination of discriminative discourse only and to explore
exist even though they have vanished from the present, they
the active functioning of wisdom, the Yoga¯ca¯ra thought of
hold the energy to cause their results to appear upon matura-
Asan˙ga (c. 320–390 CE) and Vasubandhu (c. fourth century
tion. How can there be continuity between the agent of an
CE) adapted, from a Maha¯ya¯na perspective, such abhidharma
act and the receiver of its fruit? If there is only flux, there can
conceptions as the subconscious mind (bhavan˙ga), from
be no reception of karmic results, but if there is continuity,
which conscious processes arise and into which they subside
an enduring entity seems implied. The early tradition teaches
and the karmic seeds (b¯ıja) of mental activity. Time is a suc-
that the person who commits the act and the person who re-
cession of discontinuous instants, with mind and all things
ceives the fruit are neither wholly identical nor wholly differ-
mutually giving rise to each other and perishing moment by
ent. In order to explain the continuity of the series of psycho-
moment. This instantaneous “other-dependent” co-arising
physical moments that is the subject of karmic working,
of mind and world is not different from emptiness, wisdom,
Sarva¯stiva¯dins argued that there exists a dharma of “posses-
or true reality.
sion” (pra¯pti), which functions with all karmic acts, so that
By asserting “form is itself emptiness, emptiness is
each act or thought, though immediately passing away,
form,” Maha¯ya¯na thought departed from earlier tendencies
creates the “possession” of that act in the continuum of in-
toward mutually exclusive, substantialist-leaning concep-
stants we experience as a person. This possession itself is mo-
tions of samsaric and nirvanic realms, or the karma-created
mentary, but continually reproduces a similar possession in
and uncreated, and thus from the ethical focus developed in
the succeeding instant, even though the original act lies in
Therava¯da tradition and the atomistic analyses of karmic
the past. Through such continual regeneration, the act is
causation in the scholastic tradition.
“possessed” until the actualization of the result.
Such views were rejected as contrary to the Buddha’s
implications regarding karman of the notion of nonduality
teaching of impermanence by other schools, notably the
in Maha¯ya¯na thought may be considered from the perspec-
Sautra¯ntikas, who insisted that each act exists only in the
tives of both the being of wisdom (a bodhisattva) and the per-
present instant and perishes immediately. To explain causa-
son of karmic existence (a foolish, unenlightened being). For
tion, they taught that with each karmic act a “perfuming”
the bodhisattva, the strictness of karmic working emphasized
occurs which, though not a dharma or existent factor itself,
in the early tradition is broken in several ways by the wisdom
leaves a residual impression in the succeeding series of mental
in which such dichotomies as form and emptiness, sam:sa¯ra
instants, causing it to undergo a process of subtle evolution
and nirva¯n:a, and blind passions and enlightenment are si-
eventually leading to the act’s result. Good and bad deeds
multaneously established and dissolved. Although the early
performed are thus said to leave “seeds” or traces of disposi-
tradition asserts that karman is personal, the bodhisattva’s
tion that will come to fruition.
transcendence of the dichotomy of self and other leads to the
practice of merit transference, by which one vows to ferry all
HE MAHA¯YA¯NA VIEW OF KARMAN. The Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯
su¯tras (c. first century
beings to the other shore of nirva¯n:a before crossing over one-
CE) and early Maha¯ya¯na thinkers re-
jected the realism of scholastic traditions that presupposed
self, giving the merit of one’s practice to others. Self does not
the enduring own-being (svabha¯va) of all dharmas and fixed
exist merely as self, but upon the foundation of both self and
the transcendent, uncreated dharma of nirva¯n:a as the ulti-
other arising in mutual dependence, that is, in emptiness.
mate religious goal. Instead, they sought to articulate the so-
This thinking is developed in Yoga¯ca¯ra writings in the con-
teriological realization of non-self in terms of a thoroughgo-
cept of “shared karman,” in which karman is at once individ-
ing nondiscriminative wisdom in which the dissolution of
ual and conjoint.
the subject-object dichotomy and the nature of all things as
Further, although the notion of karman asserts a correla-
dependently arising were expressed as emptiness or voidness
tion between the moral quality of past deeds and the circum-
stances of rebirth, the bodhisattva may choose to be reborn
in realms of suffering to save beings there. Above all, the bo-
Na¯ga¯rjuna (c. 150–250 CE), in Mu¯lama-dhyamaka-
dhisattva relinquishes the earlier view that liberation lies in
ka¯rika¯, sought to demonstrate the logical incoherence of the
departing from sam:sa¯ra and entering nirva¯n:a, abandoning all
substantialist assumptions governing ordinary human experi-
attachments, even to nirva¯n:a.
ence of—and speech about—the world, including causation.
He argued, for example, that notions of agent and act are
While attainment of nondiscriminative wisdom is a
mutually dependent, so that any conceptual reification will
prominent feature in most East Asian Buddhist traditions,
render the whole—action itself—untenable. Further, if kar-
including Huayan, Tiantai, and Chan, realization of nondu-
man persists until its result arises, it is permanent and un-
ality from a stance within karmic bondage has also been de-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

veloped, most clearly by Shinran (1173–1263), founder of
don, 2002. Considers Buddhist conceptions of karman on
the Japanese Shin Buddhist tradition (Jo¯do Shinshu¯) of the
the way to arguing a phenomenological understanding of
Pure Land school. In Shinran’s thought, persons come to
know the depths of their karmic bondage, reaching back into
McDermott, James Paul. Development in the Early Buddhist Con-
the unknowable past, through receiving the wisdom of
cept of Kamma/Karma. New Delhi, 1984. Lucid survey of the
Amida Buddha as the genuine entrusting of themselves (shin-
issues in the literature of the early tradition through Vasu-
jin) to the Buddha’s vow to bring them to enlightenment
bandhu’s Abhidharmako´sa.
though his own fulfillment of practices. They awaken to
Neufeldt, Ronald W., ed. Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Devel-
their inability to free themselves from blind passions through
opments. Albany, N.Y., 1986. Includes articles on Buddhist
religious practices or meritorious acts, which are inevitably
traditions in China, Tibet, and Japan.
tainted by self-attachment, and at the same time they realize
Obeyeskere, Gananath. Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation
that their birth in the Pure Land and attainment of enlight-
in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth. Berkeley and
enment are fully settled, for they have attained the Buddha’s
Los Angeles, 2002. Surveys the notion of rebirth in diverse
mind as shinjin. Thus in Tannisho¯, Shinran states, “Hell is
cultures and delineates a theory of its evolution in Indian tra-
decidedly my home,” and also speaks of “the attainment of
ditions through ethicization based on karman to a notion of
buddhahood by the person who is evil” (akunin jo¯butsu), ex-
salvation as transcendent nirva¯n:a.
pressing the nonduality of karmic existence and Buddha’s
O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical
wisdom found throughout Maha¯ya¯na tradition.
Indian Traditions. Berkeley, 1980. Includes several articles
on Buddhist tradition and an extensive bibliography.
The notion of karman has been considered an integral
element of Buddhist awakening to human existence. At the
Ueda Yoshifumi. “Freedom and Necessity in Shinran’s Concept
same time, however, the significance of moral action—in re-
of Karma.” Translated by Dennis Hirota. Eastern Buddhist
19, no. 1 (1986): 76–100. An adaptation and translation of
lation to religious practice in the Therava¯da tradition and to
Bukkyo¯ ni okeru go¯ no shiso¯. Kyoto, 1957. See also Ueda
nondichotomous wisdom in Maha¯ya¯na traditions—has been
Yoshifumi and Dennis Hirota, Shinran: An Introduction to
a recurring issue throughout Buddhist history, and recent
His Thought. Kyoto, 1989.
concerns to formulate a Buddhist social ethics have drawn
renewed attention to issues of karman.
Warren, Henry Clarke. Buddhism in Translations (1896). Cam-
bridge, Mass., 1953. Convenient collection of important
passages in Therava¯da tradition in a section on “Karma and
EE ALSO Buddhist Philosophy; Dharma, article on Bud-
dhist Dharma and Dharmas; Sarva¯stiva¯da; Sautra¯ntika.
Carter, John Ross, and Mahinda Palihawadana, trans. The Dham-
mapada. Oxford, 1987.
KARMA PAS are among the most prominent lines of re-
Egge, James R. Religious Giving and the Invention of Karma in
incarnated Tibetan Buddhist masters, or tulkus. They are also
Therava¯da Buddhism. Richmond, UK, 2002. Considers the
often referred to as the Shanak pas, or “Black Hat” masters,
harmonization of the ethicized and soteriological strains of
karman in Therava¯da texts.
after the black crown passed down from each incarnation to
the next that has come to symbolize the lineage. The first
Heine, Steven. Shifting Shape, Shaping Text: Philosophy and Folk-
Karma pa, Dus gsum mkhyen pa (Dusum Khyenpa, 1110–
lore in the Fox Ko¯an. Honolulu, 1999. Highlights the ten-
1193), was an important leader in twelfth-century Central
sions between the ethical and the nondiscriminative treat-
and Eastern Tibet. As of 2004 the seventeenth Karma pa re-
ments of karman in Chan/Zen tradition.
sided in the Tibetan diaspora community in Dharamsala,
Hirota, Dennis, trans. Tannisho¯: A Primer. Kyoto, 1982. A paral-
India. Throughout the centuries, the successive Karma pas
lel translation with original text. Also in Dennis Hirota et al.,
have played a large role in the religious, cultural, and political
trans., The Collected Works of Shinran, Kyoto, 1997.
life of Tibet.
Keyes, Charles F., and E. Valentine Daniel, eds. Karma: An An-
thropological Inquiry. Berkeley, 1983. Includes articles on
The Karma Kamtshang school, of which the Karma pas
modern Tibet and Southeast Asia.
are the leaders, is but part of a larger school of Tibetan Bud-
dhism known as the Bka’ Brgyud (Kagyu) school or “Oral
Kumoi Sho¯zen, ed. Go¯ shiso¯ kenkyu¯. Kyoto, 1979. Includes articles
on a wide range of Buddhist traditions and a bibliography
Tradition” school. The Bka’ Brgyud school is one of the
of research in Japanese and European languages.
principle traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, with a history that
extends from the twelfth century to the present day. The
Lamotte, Étienne. Karmasiddhi Prakaran:a: The Treatise on Action
names and dates of the successive Karma pas, as well as their
by Vasubandhu. Translated by Leo M. Pruden. Fremont,
Calif., 1987. Introduction includes a summary of views on
allied lineage, the Shamar pas, are listed at the end of this
karman in various abhidharmic schools.
Lusthaus, Dan. Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investiga-
Although the first two Karma pas were posthumously
tion of Yoga¯ca¯ra Buddhism and the Ch’eng Wei-shih lun. Lon-
recognized as “Karma pas” only in the late thirteenth century
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

at the time of the third Karma pa, Rang byung rdo rje (Rang-
with the Great Perfection system of esoteric practice devel-
jung Dorje, 1284–1339), they are nevertheless important
oped in the Rnying ma school. A verse from the Great Seal
figures in the tradition. The first Karma pa was born in the
Prayer makes this identification clear: “Free from subjective
village of Treshö, situated in the eastern Tibetan region of
activity, this is the Great Seal. Free from extremes, this is the
Kham. At the age of thirty he became a student of Sgam po
Great Middle Way. This is also called the all-encompassing
pa (Gampopa, 1079–1153), well-known disciple of Mi la ras
Great Perfection. May we attain certainty that the awareness
pa (Milarepa, 1028/40–1111/23), wellspring of many
of one is the realization of all.” This inclusive approach to
strands of Bka’ Brgyud tradition. Dus gsum mkhyen pa
soteriological doctrine has earned Rang byung rdo rje a place
founded two monasteries. Karma Gon (or Karma Densa),
in the canon of the nonsectarian movement of nineteenth-
founded in 1147 in Kham, gave the Karma pas their name
century Tibetan religious history. Indeed, Jamgön Kongtrul
(“those of Karma Gon”), though it did not play a central role
(1813–1899), the movement’s most important proponent,
in the tradition. Tsurphu, founded in 1189 in the Tolung
wrote commentaries on all three of Rang ’byung rdo rje’s
Valley of Central Tibet, some fifty miles west of Lhasa, was
most famous works. These three works are often considered
to become the true seat of the lineage, a status that it has en-
by tradition as a trilogy on Buddhist theories of ontology,
joyed up to the present day. The second Karma pa, Karma
consciousness, and soteriology. The first of these is the Trea-
Pakshi (1204–1283), was a monk at Tsurphu when he trav-
tise on Buddha Nature. In this brief work of only 225 verse
eled to Mongolia in 1154, a journey that marked the entry
lines, the third Karma pa synthesizes ontological notions
of the Karma pas into Central and East Asian politics. While
from exoteric and esoteric Buddhist scriptures, thereby pre-
he is remembered by tradition principally as a great magician
senting a comprehensive vision of buddha nature—the in-
who beguiled the Mongol leaders, he was also the author of
nate potential for enlightenment in all living beings—as seen
a massive philosophical compendium known as the Limitless
in both its latent state and its fully revealed state. The Treatise
Ocean Cycle, in which he integrated doctrines from both the
is in many ways an elaboration on two famous quotes from
Bka’ Brgyud and the Rnying ma (Nyingma) traditions of Ti-
Buddhist canonical literature, with which he begins his
betan Buddhism.
work—albeit without citing his sources.
The third Karma pa, Rang byung rdo rje, was born in
The first is from the Maha¯ya¯na Abhidharma Su¯tra, a
southwest Tibet in 1284. According to early stories of his
work oft quoted yet unknown in its entirety in Tibet. The
life, at the age of five he received a blessing in the form of
popularity of this verse is no doubt due to its bold assertion
a white light striking his head from the famous statue of the
that buddha nature exists—and is in fact the very reason en-
bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokite´svara, in Kyirong on the
lightenment is possible at all: “The beginningless essence is
southwest border of Tibet. This miraculous event led his par-
the support of all phenomena. Because it exists, so do all be-
ents to bring him before Master Orgyanpa Rinchenpal
ings, as well as the attainment of liberation from suffering.”
(1230–1309), who identified him as his deceased teacher,
The second quote is from the Hevajra Tantra: “Sentient be-
Karma pakshi. At the age of seven, Rang byung rdo rje took
ings are simply buddhas, save for being obscured by adventi-
vows as a novice monk at Dusum Khyenpa’s monastery of
tious impurity. If just this [impurity] is removed, there is
Tsurphu. At age twenty he took full monastic vows, again
buddhahood.” The rest of the work describes the nature of
at Tsurphu. As an adult, while not studying at Tsurphu or
these impurities, which hide from human beings their true
maintaining solitary yogic practice in nearby hermitages, the
nature, as well as the nature of the fully awakened buddha
third Karma pa traveled throughout Central and Eastern
that results from spiritual practice. Rang byung rdo rje leaves
Tibet giving religious instruction, founding and renovating
his presentation of the practices for removing these impuri-
religious institutions, and acting as a political mediator in
ties to the third work in his trilogy. The second, Differentiat-
times of regional conflict. In 1331 the third Karma pa re-
ing Consciousness and Wisdom, draws heavily on Yoga¯ca¯ra
ceived an order from a Mongol leader of the Chinese Yuan
sources to detail the difference between ordinary human per-
dynasty (1206–1368) to join him at his capitol. Rang byung
ception and the enlightened perception of buddhas, as well
rdo rje grudgingly acquiesced to this long journey, and in
as the mechanism by which the former transforms into the
1332 arrived at the court. Rang byung rdo rje returned a sec-
latter through contemplative practice.
ond time to China in 1338, dying at the capitol a year later.
His close relationship with the Yuan emperors gained Tsur-
Finally, the third work of the trilogy, the Profound Inner
phu Monastery tax-exempt status under Mongol sovereignty
Meaning, outlines the means by which one attains buddha-
and ensured subsequent Karma pas favorable ties with later
hood according to esoteric Buddhist tradition, particularly
Chinese imperial leadership.
the literary cycles of the Hevajra Tantra and the Ka¯lacakra
. This is perhaps Rang byung rdo rje’s most important
Rang byung rdo rje was a prolific writer on all aspects
work, and it has formed the basis of esoteric praxis to the
of Buddhist culture, authoring over a hundred works on
present day. Taking the notion of buddha nature as his start-
Buddhist ritual practice, esoteric philosophy, medicine, as-
ing point, he systematically presents the ontological founda-
trology, and ethics. He is often credited with combining the
tions of human existence, the psycho-physical development
contemplative precepts of the “great seal,” or maha¯mudra¯,
of the human body and its physiology as seen from an esoter-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ic Buddhist perspective, the nature of human ignorance and
in making the phenomenon of incarnation an integral part
suffering, and finally the nature of enlightenment, as well as
of Tibetan religion and politics. For it is likely upon these
the esoteric practices leading to it.
two that the most powerful incarnation lineage to develop
in Tibet was modeled, the succession of the Dalai Lamas,
Though neither the fourth or the fifth Karma pas were
who would decisively wrest political and cultural hegemony
as prolific as Rang byung rdo rje or as influential in doctrinal
from the Karma pas and Shamar pas in the seventeenth cen-
matters, both had relations with the imperial court of Ming
tury, forever changing the face of rule by rebirth in Tibet.
China (1368–1644), thus contributing substantially to both
the prestige and the wealth of the lineage. Later Karma pas
The Karma pa Lineage
would each be remembered for particular aspects of their ca-
1. Dus gsum mkhyen pa (Dusum Khyenpa): 1110–1193
reers. The seventh authored the authoritative work on logic
2. Karma pakshi (Karma Pakshi): 1204–1283
and epistemology (prama¯n:a) in the Karma pa scholastic tra-
dition, and the ninth systematized the contemplative teach-
3. Rang byung rdo rje (Rangjung Dorje): 1284–1339
ings of the great seal traditions in several influential works.
4. Rol pa’i rdo rje (Rolpay Dorje): 1340–1383
The sixteenth Karma pa fled Tibet in 1959 under fear of
6. Mthong ba don ldan (Tongwa Dondan): 1416–1453
Chinese rule, and in 1962 he founded Rumtek Monastery
in Sikkim, an institution that was to become of seat of the
7. Chos grags rgya mtsho (Chodrak Gyatso): 1450/1454–
Karma Bka’ Brgyud in exile. He was also responsible for in-
troducing the Karma Bka’ Brgyud Buddhist tradition to an
8. Mi bskyod rdo rje (Mikyo Dorje): 1507–1554
increasingly interested North American and European popu-
lace of Buddhist converts, first visiting the United States in
9. Dbang phyug rdo rje (Wangchuk Dorje): 1556–1603
1974. He died in Chicago in 1981. Political battles sur-
10. Chos dbyings rdo rje (Choying Dorje): 1604–1674
rounded the recognition of the seventeenth Karma pa, with
11. Ye shes rdo rje (Yeshe Dorje): 1675–1702
opposing camps continuing to support their Karma pa as the
authentic member of the lineage. O rgyan ’phrin las rdo rje
12. Byang chub rdo rje (Jangchup Dorje): 1703–1732
(Orgyan Trinlay Dorje, b. 1985) has received the seal of au-
13. Bdud ’dul rdo rje (Dudul Dorje): 1733/1734–1797/
thority by the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and after spending his
youth at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, moved to the Dalai
14. Theg mchog rdo rje (Tekchok Dorje): 1799–1869
Lama’s center in Dharamsala, India.
15. Mkha’ khyab rdo rje (Khakyap Dorje): 1870/1871–
It is impossible to speak of the Karma pas without men-
tioning their Bka’ Brgyud brethren, the Shamar pa incarna-
16. Rang byung rig pa’i rdo rje (Rangjung Rikpay Dorje):
tion lineage, which currently numbers twelve. Rang byung
rdo rje himself recognized the first Shamar pa, despite the
fact that Grags pa sengge (Drakpa Senge, 1283–1349) was
17 (1). O rgyan ’phrin las rdo rje (Orgyan Trinlay Dorje):
his senior by one year. In subsequent centuries the Karma
pa and Shamar pa incarnations would share religious author-
17 (2). ‘Phrin las mtha’ yas rdo rje (Trinlay Taye Dorje):
ity in Central Tibet, the senior of the two assuming control
of the Karma Kamtshang School. The fourth Shamar pa was
intimately involved in the sectarian and political rivalries of
The Shamar pa Lineage
the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, most notably
1. Grags pa sengge (Drakpa Senge): 1283–1349
between the Karma Kamtshang and the Dge lugs (Geluk)
2. Mkha’ spyod dbang po (Kacho Wangpo): 1350–1405
schools. While the Karma pa lineage has continued uninter-
rupted to the present day, the Shamar pa lineage was dis-
3. Chos dpal ye shes (Chopal Yeshe): 1406–1452. Chos
banded by the central Tibetan government in 1792 due to
grags ye shes (Chodrak Yeshe): 1453–1524
the ninth Shamar pa’s complicity in the Nepalese invasion
5. Dkon mchog yan lag (Konchok Yenlak): 1525–15836.
of Tibet, to be reinstated a century later.
Chos kyi dbang phyug (Chokyi Wangchuk): 1584–
1630. Yeshe Nyingpo ye shes snying po: 1631–1694
According to the Blue Annals of the famed Tibetan his-
torian ’Gos Lo tsa ba Gzon nu dpal (Go Lotsawa, 1392–
8. Dpal chen chos kyi don grub (Palchen Chokyi Dond-
1481), the Karma pas and the Shamar pas were, respectively,
rup): 1695–1732
the first and second incarnation lineages in Tibet. The situa-
9. Dkon mchog dge ba’i ’byung gnas (Konchok Geway
tion proves to be more complicated than this, however, and
Jungnay): 1733–1740
’Gos Lo tsa ba likely links the origins of reincarnated reli-
gious masters in Tibet to the Karma pas and Shamar pas be-
10. Chos grub rgya mtsho (Chodrup Gyatso): 1741/1742–
cause of his close relations with the Karma Bka’ Brgyud pa
leaders of fifteenth-century Tibet. Nevertheless, his assertion
11. ’Jam dbyangs rin po che (Jamyang Rinpoche): 1892–
does emphasize the foundational role of these two lineages
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

12. Mi pham chos kyi blo gros (Mipam Chokyi Lodro):
a reputation as one of the foremost rabbinic scholars. In that
year he began work on his monumental commentary on the
code of the great Talmudist YaEaqov ben Asher (1270–
1343). He finished this work, the Beit Yosef, twenty years
Richardson, Hugh. “The Karma-pa Sect: A Historical Note.” In
later in Safad. Whereas the classic and most complete code,
High Peaks, Pure Earth: Collected Writings on Tibetan History
that of Moses Maimonides (Mosheh ben Maimon, 1135/8–
and Culture, pp. 337–378. London, 1998.
1204), simply and clearly set forth the law without argument
Roerich, George, trans. and ed. The Blue Annals. Calcutta, 1949–
or discussion, YaEaqov ben Asher’s Arba Eah t:urim (Four
1953; reprint, New Delhi, 1976.
Rows, i.e., four main parts) also reviewed the opinions of ear-
lier authorities. Such review may have been the reason why
Karo chose this code as the basis of his commentary, which
is, in fact, a complete digest of the whole relevant halakhic
literature. YaEaqov ben Asher’s code, however, unlike that of
KARO, YOSEF (1488–1575), Talmudic scholar, codi-
Maimonides, omits all subjects not applicable in exile and
fier of rabbinic law, and qabbalist. Yosef Karo (or Caro) grew
after the destruction of the Temple (e.g., laws concerning the
up and lived in the century following the expulsion of the
Temple, its priesthood, ritual, and sacrificial cult; legislation
Jews from the Iberian Peninsula (first from Spain in 1492
concerning kingship, the Sanhedrin, the Jubilee year, and so
by the Catholic rulers Ferdinand and Isabella, then from
on). On the basis of his Beit Yosef, Karo subsequently pro-
Portugal in 1497). It was a period of turmoil, major demo-
duced the Shulh:an Earukh (Set Table, or Short Book, as he
graphic shifts, messianic longings, and mystical revival. Karo
himself called it). This précis and synopsis soon established
was the scion of a family of illustrious scholars. Whether he
itself as the standard code of Jewish law and practice, espe-
was born in Toledo or whether his family had already left
cially after Mosheh Isserles of Cracow (d. 1572) had added
Spain for Turkey (either directly or via Portugal) before the
glosses incorporating the sometimes divergent customs of
expulsion is uncertain. His father and first teacher, Efrayim,
Ashkenazic Jewry. Since then Karo’s code has served as the
died when Yosef was still very young, and his place was taken
revered or, alternatively, reviled symbol of orthodox rabbinic
by Yosef’s uncle, Yitsh:aq Karo, to whom he frequently and
Judaism. Karo also wrote a commentary, Kesef mishneh, on
respectfully refers in his writings as “my uncle and master.”
the code of Maimonides, supplementing the earlier com-
mentary Maggid mishneh by the fourteenth-century Spanish
We do not know exactly at which schools Yosef Karo
scholar Vidal of Tolosa.
studied, but most of the first half of his life was spent in the
Balkan provinces of the Ottoman empire (Salonika, but
Many responsa of Karo are also extant. Although of less
mainly Adrianople and Nikopol). The influx of Iberian Jew-
historical influence than the aforementioned works, they
ish (Sefardic) refugees had turned Ottoman Turkey into one
throw much light on the social history of the period, in addi-
of the most important centers of sixteenth-century Jewry,
tion to illustrating Karo’s standing as a leading Talmudic au-
and Jewish communities and academies of learning were
flourishing. In Salonika Karo also met Yosef Taytazak, one
In Safad an attempt was also made—probably inspired
of the leading Talmudic scholars and qabbalistic charismatics
by the messianic temper of the age—by one of the foremost
of his generation, as well as the young ex-Marrano enthusiast
Talmudic authorities, YaEaqov Berab, to renew full rabbini-
and visionary Shelomoh Molkho. The latter’s death at the
cal ordination, which had lapsed in the first centuries of the
stake in 1532, after his ill-fated mission to the pope, left a
common era. Karo was one of the four scholars ordained by
deep impression on Karo and no doubt inspired his unful-
Berab, but the initiative proved abortive, mainly because of
filled desire to die a martyr’s death. (In fact he died in Safad
the opposition of the scholars in Jerusalem.
at the ripe age of eighty-seven.)
It was probably mystical and messianic ideology that
In addition to the academies of rabbinic learning, circles
prompted many qabbalists and devout scholars to move from
of qabbalistic and mystical pietists also flourished in the vari-
the Diaspora to the Holy Land. Around 1536 Karo, too, re-
ous Jewish centers of the Ottoman empire, especially in the
alized his long-standing intention and settled in Safad in
Balkans, and Karo and his friend and disciple Shelomoh Al-
upper Galilee, which soon became a center of intense mysti-
kabets were among their most prominent figures. These cir-
cal and devotional life. The leading qabbalists of the time had
cles undoubtedly were the seedbed of the great mystical, and
converged there, among them Mosheh Cordovero (who be-
subsequently messianic, revival that took place in Safad in
longed to Karo’s intimate circle) and Isaac Luria. Karo, like
Galilee and from there swept over world Jewry. Because of
most rabbis of his generation, was also a qabbalistic scholar
the deaths of his wives, Karo married at least three times and
but, in addition, led a somewhat unusual (though by no
had several children, of whom three survived him.
means unique) charismatic life. According to various reports,
The dates of Karo’s biography and literary activity have
Karo was visited every night by a heavenly mentor who, in
to be pieced together from incidental references in his writ-
the form of what psychology would describe as “automatic
ings. By 1522 he was settled in Nikopol and already enjoyed
speech,” revealed to him qabbalistic mysteries, exhortations
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to ascetic practice, and other matters related to his personal
In Buddhist doctrine, karun:is most commonly found
life and to his Talmudic studies. Afterward Karo wrote down
as the second of the Four Immeasurable Attitudes (catva¯ri
the communications received from his celestial maggid
aprama¯n:a¯ni) that are to be cultivated in meditative practice:
(“speaker”), who identified himself (or perhaps herself) as the
maitr¯ı (“friendliness”), karun:(“compassion”), mudita¯
heavenly archetype of the Mishnah. Among Karo’s writings
(“sympathetic joy”), and upeks:(“equanimity”). Friendliness
there is, therefore, a “mystical diary,” printed later in edited
is said to give pleasure and happiness to others, compassion
form under the title Maggid mesharim. Unconvincing at-
uproots pain and suffering, and sympathetic joy refers to
tempts have been made to deny the authenticity of the diary,
one’s joy for the happiness of others. Finally, equanimity
probably because scholarly rationalism, especially in the
frees one from attachment to these attitudes so that one may
nineteenth century, could not come to terms with the idea
go forth to practice them in the service of all those in need.
that the great Talmudist, legal scholar, and codifier Yosef
The Maha¯ya¯na scriptures, in spite of their diversity and
Karo was also an ascetic qabbalist and mystical enthusiast,
differences, reveal the multifaceted dimensions of karun:a¯.
subject to paranormal experiences. While as a qabbalist Karo
Central to all Maha¯ya¯na texts is the bodhisattva vow, which
was less outstanding than many of his Safad contemporaries,
puts the deliverance of all beings from sam:sa¯ra (i.e., the cycle
the existence of the Maggid mesharim, in the shadow, as it
of births and deaths) before one’s own deliverance. To put
were, of the Beit Yosef and the Shulh:an Earukh, is indicative
it in a more personal way, the vow states, “As long as there
of the complexities of rabbinic Judaism and of the role that
is one unhappy person in the world, my happiness is incom-
Qabbalah played in it, especially in the sixteenth century.
plete.” The vow acknowledges the absolute equality of self
and other (para¯tmasamata¯) and the interchangeability of self
and other (para¯tmaparivartana), such that one willingly takes
Twersky, Isadore. “The Shulh:an EAruk: Enduring Code of Jewish
Law.” In The Jewish Expression, edited by Judah Goldin,
on the suffering of others.
pp. 322–343. New York, 1970.
Philosophically, the justification of compassion is root-
Werblowsky, R. J. Zwi. “Caro, Joseph ben Ephraim.” In Encyclo-
ed in the notion of ´su¯nyata¯ (“emptiness”), which sweeps
paedia Judaica. Jerusalem, 1971.
away all divisions and discriminations—self and other, good
Werblowsky, R. J. Zwi. Joseph Karo: Lawyer and Mystic. 2d ed.
and bad, like and dislike, and so forth—that are created by
Philadelphia, 1980.
the arbitrary conceptions of the subjective mind. This clear-
ing away of all forms of discursive thinking, originating from
the fictive self, is none other than the working of prajña¯,
which is inseparable from karun:a¯. Wisdom and compassion
KARUN:A¯, normally translated as “compassion,” is a term
are said to be like two wheels of a cart or two wings of a bird.
central to the entire Buddhist tradition. When linked with
Another important dimension of compassion that fig-
prajña¯ (“wisdom”) it constitutes one of the two pillars of
ures in Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism is maha¯karun:(“great compas-
Buddhism. Karun:is frequently described as the love for all
sion”). The adjective “great” connotes the transcendent na-
beings, as exemplified by a mother’s love for a child. Howev-
ture of the compassion that is an essential quality of
er, karun:is quite unlike conventional “love” (Skt., priya,
Buddhahood. All Buddhas—whether S´a¯kyamuni, Vairo-
ka¯ma, tr:s:n:), which is rooted in dichotomous thinking
cana, Bhais:ajyaguru, Amita¯bha, Aks:obhya, and others—
(vijña¯na, vikalpa) and centered on self-concern. Love in this
manifest great compassion. Amita¯bha (Jpn., Amida) Bud-
latter sense is egoistic, possessive, clouded by ignorance
dha, for example, reveals great compassion in his “primal
(avidya¯), and easily subject to its opposite passion, hate.
vow” (Jpn., hongan), which states that his attainment of su-
In contrast, karun:is manifested in the non-
preme Buddhahood was contingent upon the guarantee of
dichotomous mode of prajña¯ that has broken through the
the selfsame enlightenment for all beings who have faith in
self-other discrimination. Thus freed of self-centeredness,
him. The practitioner of the Maha¯ya¯na path, then, becomes
karun:is concerned only with the welfare of the other. The
a recipient of great compassion. In fact, it is said that the bo-
root meaning of karun:is said to be the anguished cry of
dhisattva progresses on the path to enlightenment by virtue
deep sorrow that elicits compassion. Love in the convention-
not of his own powers but of the powers of great compassion.
al sense and compassion in its Buddhist sense may be loosely
Historically, however, karun:is also manifested in such
equated to eros and agap¯e, respectively.
practical expressions as acts of generosity or charity (da¯na).
The life of S´a¯kyamuni Buddha, especially his missionary
Among the pun:yaks:etra (“merit-fields”, i.e., sources for creat-
work of forty-five years, is a manifestation par excellence of
ing religious merit) available to the devotee are compassion,
compassion. The cruciality of compassionate deeds for the
wherein those in need, helpless beasts, and even insects are
attainment of supreme enlightenment is evident in the
the objects of care and concern; gratitude, where parents, all
ja¯takas, a collection of fables recounting the previous lives of
sentient beings, rulers, and the Three Treasures (Buddha,
the Buddha. The evolution of Buddhism in Asia and its
Dharma, Sangha) are revered; the poor, where the destitute
spread throughout the world are, from a Buddhist point of
are fed, clothed, and housed; and animals, which are to be
view, none other than the unfolding of karun:in history.
released from human enslavement. In premodern times,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

karun:was also understood and appreciated in much more
determining their forbidden status. Fish must have fins and
concrete forms: planting fruit orchards and trees, digging
scales (Lv. 11:9, Dt. 14:9). Both Jews and gentiles are forbid-
bathing ponds, dispensing medicine, building bridges, dig-
den to eat flesh torn from a living animal (Gn. 9:3). Jews are
ging wells along highways, making public toilets, establishing
not to consume the blood of permitted animals or the fat
clinics and orphanages, teaching sericulture, farming meth-
that covers their inner organs (Lv. 3:17, 7:23), that is, tallow
ods and irrigation, building dikes and canals, and countless
or suet. Both this blood and this fat were to be offered on
other welfare activities.
the altar of the Temple in the case of animals fit for sacrifice
(e.g., Lv. 1:11–12). In the case of an animal permitted for
SEE ALSO Prajña¯.
ordinary consumption but not for sacrifice, the blood is to
be poured on the ground and covered (Lv. 17:13, Dt. 12:16).
The same is the case with the blood of fowl slaughtered for
There is no single monograph on karun:in any Western lan-
ordinary use. Animals that died of internal causes or that
guage. Because it permeates Buddhist literature, it is best to
were killed by other animals are not to be consumed (Ex.
go to the original sources. A good sampling may be found
22:30). Also, the sciatic nerve of slaughtered animals is not
in Edwin A. Burtt’s The Teachings of the Compassionate Bud-
(New York, 1955). For the relationship between ´su¯nyata¯
to be eaten (Gn. 32:32). Finally, a kid is not to be cooked
and compassion, see The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, trans-
in the milk of its own mother (Ex. 23:29, 34:26; Dt. 14:21).
lated by Robert A. F. Thurman (University Park, Pa., 1976);
RABBINIC INTERPRETATION. The rabbinic sources present a
for the working of wisdom, compassion, and upa¯ya (libera-
number of important and wide-reaching interpretations of
tive technique), see The Threefold Lotus Sutra, translated by
these biblical laws which are seen as being themselves “oral
Bunno¯ Kato¯ and others (New York, 1975); and for the Pri-
mal Vow of compassion, see “The Larger Sukha¯vat¯ı-vyu¯ha,”
Mosaic traditions” (halakhah le-Mosheh mi-Sinai). Thus, the
in Buddhist Maha¯ya¯na Texts, edited by E. B. Cowell, in “Sa-
rabbis determined that all birds of prey are forbidden for
cred Books of the East,” vol. 49 (1894; reprint, New York,
Jewish consumption (H:ul. 5.6). The requirement that fish
have fins and scales was qualified to include any fish that had
scales at any point in its development even if they subse-
New Sources
Clayton, Barbra. “Ahimsa, Karuna and Maitri: Implications for
quently fell off (B.T., H:ul. 66a–b). Milk from nonkosher an-
Environmental Buddhism.” Ecumenism 134 (1999): 27–31.
imals was forbidden because it was judged as having the sta-
tus of its source (Bekh. 1.2). An important exception to this
Jenkins, S. L. “The Circle of Compassion: An Interpretive Study
of Karuna in Indian Buddhist Literature.” Ph.D. diss., Har-
rule is the honey of bees, which the rabbis determined does
vard University, 1999.
not have anything from the bee’s body in it (see B.T., Bekh.
7b). The Babylonian Talmud presents criteria for distin-
Viévard, L. Vacuité (Sunyata) et Compassion (Karuna) dans le
guishing between permitted and forbidden fat (B.T., H:ul.
Bouddhisme Madhyamaka. Paris, 2002.
49b). The blood drained from permitted animals and fowl
after slaughter is covered with soil or ashes (H:ul. 6.7).
Revised Bibliography
Sheh:it:ah. The method of slaughtering permitted ani-
mals and fowl, known as sheh:it:ah, is not explicated in scrip-
ture but is seen as the prime example of a law commanded
orally by Moses, to whom it was divinely revealed (B.T., H:ul.
28a). The throat of the animal or bird must be slit with a
perfectly smooth blade by a highly trained and supervised
KASHRUT, from the Hebrew word kasher (Eng., ko-
slaughterer (shoh:et:), who recites a blessing before cutting
sher), meaning “acceptable” (see Est. 8:15), denotes anything
across the gullet and windpipe, severing the jugular. Detailed
permitted by Jewish law for use. More specifically, it con-
regulations govern the process; internal irregularities found
notes the Jewish dietary laws. Kashrut pertains directly to (1)
in the lungs and other organs render even properly slaugh-
permitted and forbidden animals, (2) forbidden parts of oth-
tered animals unfit for consumption by Jews (t:erefah, Hul.
erwise permitted animals, (3) the method of slaughtering and
3.1ff.). Various procedures are presented for draining the
preparing permitted animals, (4) forbidden food mixtures,
blood from the slaughtered animal, such as opening the ar-
and (5) proportions of food mixtures prohibited ab initio but
teries and veins, soaking and salting the meat, and broiling
permitted ex post facto. The rules of kashrut are derived from
the meat over a flame. The laws that required Jews to eat
biblical statute, rabbinic interpretation, rabbinic legislation,
meat slaughtered by a trained shoh:et: often determined where
and custom, as outlined below.
Jews could and could not live, and the presence of a kosher
butcher has, in modern Jewish history, often symbolized the
BIBLICAL LAW. According to the Bible, animals permitted
existence of an observant Jewish community.
for Jewish consumption must have fully cloven hooves and
chew the cud (Lv. 11:3). Forbidden fowl are listed (Lv.
Milk and meat. In the area of mixing milk and meat,
11:13–19, Dt. 14:11–18), as are forbidden insects (Lv. 11:
rabbinic interpretation considerably expanded the biblical
21–22, Dt. 14:20), but no characteristics are presented for
prohibition of simply not “cooking a kid in its mother’s
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

milk.” The rabbis extended this law from animals fit to be
modern times, it has become the custom in Western Europe
offered on the altar (i.e., the lamb) to all animals and fowl
and America (but not in Israel) for the hindquarters of
in order to avoid any possible confusion (B.T., H:ul. 104a).
slaughtered animals to be sold to non-Jews as a regular prac-
The Talmud interprets the threefold mention of this prohi-
tice rather than their being eaten by Jews.
bition in the Pentateuch as entailing three distinct prohibi-
Because of the rabbinic requirement for the internal ex-
tions: (1) eating, (2) cooking, and (3) deriving any monetary
amination of slaughtered animals (bediqah) to determine
benefit from such a mixture of meat and milk. These prohi-
whether or not any abnormalities were present before slaugh-
bitions were elaborated by requirements for the use of sepa-
tering, elaborate methods of certification have evolved to
rate dishes and utensils for meat foods and milk foods.
guard against error or fraud. Often there are today compet-
RABBINICAL LEGISLATION. In addition to the interpretations
ing rabbinical groups giving approval to different sources of
presented as ultimately Mosaic, the rabbis legislated addi-
kosher meat inasmuch as demands for reliability vary. Also,
tional rules in connection with those seen as biblical or tradi-
advances in food technology have led to the requirement that
tional. All insects were forbidden because it was assumed that
most processed foods be rabbinically certified (heksher) as not
there was no longer to be found the necessary expertise to
containing any forbidden substances.
distinguish between those permitted and those forbidden.
(T:az [David ben ShemuDel ha-Levi] on Shulh:an Earukh,
Because of the custom in many Hungarian communities
Yoreh de Eah 85.1). Because of concern that gentiles might
not to consume meat with certain irregularities nevertheless
mix milk from nonkosher sources in the milk they sell to
permitted by rabbinical legislation, the practice of certifying
Jews, and that cheese from gentiles might contain nonkosher
meat as glat: kosher (Yi., “smooth,” without blemish) arose.
rennet, the precaution arose that milk and cheese must be
In America, since the immigration of many Hungarian Or-
prepared under Jewish supervision ( EA.Z. 2.6). When this
thodox Jews after World War II, glat: kosher has become a
was not a likely possibility, however, this precaution was re-
connotation of a stricter and more reliable level of kashrut.
laxed (Responsa Tashbatz, 4.1.32). The rabbis ruled that
Custom varies as to how long one is to wait after con-
whereas one may follow a milk meal with a meat meal (ex-
suming meat before consuming milk. Moses Maimonides
cept when hard cheese was eaten), after washing the hands
(1135/8–1204), followed by most other authorities, required
and rinsing the mouth, one must wait a period of time before
a six-hour interval (Mishneh Torah, Forbidden Foods 9.28).
consuming a milk meal after a meat meal.
Other authorities require a much shorter interval (B.T., H:ul.
Because at times meat foods and milk foods are acciden-
105a; Tos., s.v. le-se Eudata). Customarily, eastern European
tally mixed, the rabbis developed a number of rules to deter-
Jews and Sephardic Jews and their descendants follow Mai-
mine whether or not the mixture could be used ex post facto.
monides; German Jews and their descendants wait three
Generally, if the ratio is 60 to 1 or more, then the smaller
hours; and some Dutch Jews of Sephardic origin wait as little
substance is considered absorbed (bat:el) in the larger sub-
as slightly over one hour.
stance (B.T., H:ul. 97b), provided the smaller substance nei-
Orthodox and Conservative Judaism generally follow
ther changes the flavor of the larger substance, or gives the
the same standards of kashrut, based on biblical, rabbinic,
larger substance its actual form, and provided the smaller
and customary rules. Conservative Judaism, however, tends
substance is not still found intact.
to follow more lenient options within the law itself, such as
In order to discourage social contact between Jews and
not requiring cheeses manufactured in the United States to
gentiles which might lead to intermarriage and assimilation
be certified kosher. Reform Judaism, because it does not re-
(B.T., EA.Z. 36b; J.T., Shab. 3c), and because non-Jewish
gard halakhah in toto as authoritative, does not, therefore,
wine might have been produced for idolatrous purposes, the
regard kashrut as binding. Some Reform Jews as an individu-
rabbis forbade Jews to drink wine or wine products made by
al option do follow kashrut completely, and others follow at
non-Jews (B.T., EA.Z. 29b). However, because certain non-
least those rules that are biblically explicit.
Jews were no longer considered idolators, and for other rea-
sons, a number of authorities relaxed some (but not all) of
long recognized similarities between the biblical laws and
these prohibitions. (See, for example, Maimonides’ Mishneh
other ancient Near Eastern customs, the laws of kashrut are
Torah, Forbidden Foods 11.7; Mosheh Isserles’s Responsa,
traditionally considered to be h:uqqim, that is, laws about
no. 124.)
which “Satan and the gentiles raise objections” (B.T., Yoma D
67b), namely laws without apparent reasons. Nevertheless,
CUSTOM. Custom determines a number of kashrut regula-
Jewish theologians have attempted to penetrate their deeper
tions, often being divergent in different communities. If cer-
meaning to discover hidden reasons for them.
tain fowl is not customarily eaten in a particular community,
then this custom has the force of law there for no other rea-
Because of the frequent biblical mention of holiness
son. Although the hindquarters of permitted mammals may
(qedushah) in connection with these laws (e.g., Lv. 11:44–
be eaten after the sciatic nerve has been totally removed, be-
45), a number of the rabbis emphasized that their very unin-
cause of the great amount of energy and time required by this
telligibility is a test of one’s full acceptance of the authority
procedure, and because of the greater availability of meat in
of God’s law (e.g., Gn. Rab. 44.1). However, even here the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

general reason of holiness is taken to mean separation of Jews
ger (London, 1966), and in Douglas’s “Critique and Com-
from gentiles (Lv. 20:26). The importance of this general
mentary” on Neusner in his volume, pp. 137–142.
motif is seen in texts from the Maccabean period (c. 150
DAVID NOVAK (1987 AND 2005)
BCE), when the forced assimilation of Jews usually began with
making them eat forbidden foods (Dn. 1:8, 2 Mc. 7:1ff., 4
5:1ff.). In rabbinic law one is required to die as a martyr
rather than violate kashrut, when the violation is clearly sym-
bolic of general apostasy (B.T., San. 74a).
Some of the earliest and latest rationales for kashrut have
emphasized the moral intent of having Jews refrain from
foods that are either taken from cruel animals (Letter of Ar-
142–147) or, also, symbolize bad moral traits (S. R.
Hirsch, Horeb, trans. M. Hados, New York, 1951). Interest-
KAUFMANN, YEH:EZKEL (1889–1963), was an Is-
ingly, early Christian criticism of Judaism argued that Jewish
raeli Bible scholar and philosopher of Jewish history. Born
preoccupation with these laws actually leads to the neglect
in the Ukraine, Kaufmann was educated in Bible, Talmud,
of morality (Mk. 7:14–23).
and Jewish history and received a doctorate in philosophy
Maimonides saw the reasons for these laws as being
from the University of Bern in 1918. From 1914 to 1928
based on both considerations of safe and healthy diet and the
he lived in Germany, writing on Jewish nationalism. Immi-
avoidance of some ancient idolatrous practices (Guide of the
grating to Israel (then Palestine) in 1928, he published a
Perplexed, ed. Shlomo Pines, Chicago, 1963, 3.48; cf.
four-volume historical-sociological interpretation of Jewish
H:inukh, no. 92). This emphasis on physiological reasons is
history, Golah ve-nekhar (Exile and alienage; 1928–1932).
followed by other Jewish scholars, such as ShemuDel ben
His eight-volume Toldot ha-emunah ha-Yisre Delit (A history
MeDir in the twelfth century (e.g., on Lv. 11:30 re B.T., Shab.
of the religion of Israel; 1937–1956) is the most comprehen-
86b) and Moses Nahmanides in the thirteenth century (e.g.,
sive study of biblical religion by a modern Jewish scholar.
on Lv. 11:9 in his Commentary on the Torah). Others, howev-
From 1949 until 1957 he was professor of Bible at the He-
er, reject this whole approach as unduly secular (e.g.,
brew University of Jerusalem.
Avraham ben David of Posquières on Sifra: Qedoshim, ed.
Kaufmann’s major writings, historical and ideological,
I. H. Weiss, 93d; Zohar 3:221a–b). The qabbalists, based on
are distinguished by philosophical sophistication, method-
their view that every mundane act is a microcosm of the mac-
ological reflectiveness, and detailed textual analysis. In Tol-
rocosm of divine emanations (sefirot), worked out elaborate
dot, a comprehensive, detailed analysis of the Bible and bibli-
symbolic explanations of how the laws of kashrut reflect the
cal religion, he argues (1) that the idea of one God ruling
cosmic economy and of their spiritual effect on human life.
over nature was the unique creation of the nation of Israel,
Among these mystics were, in the fourteenth century,
(2) that monotheism arose during the early stages of the na-
Menahem Recanati, author of T:a Eamei ha-mitsvot and, in
tion’s history, and (3) that, far from being influenced by gen-
the fifteenth century, Yitsh:aq Arama, author of EAqedat
uine paganism, Israel was virtually ignorant of it. This work,
Yitsh:aq. In these classic qabbalistic treatments of kashrut, for-
which criticized prevalent ideas of modern biblical scholar-
bidden foods were seen as imparting the cosmic impurity of
ship regarding the dating of the Torah texts, Israelite mono-
the demonic forces that work against the godhead.
theism, and the impact of paganism on Israelite religion, had
a decisive influence on an entire generation of Jewish Bible
SEE ALSO Food; Passover.
In Golah ve-nekhar, Kaufmann employs historical-
sociological arguments to demonstrate (1) that Israel’s com-
The literature on kashrut is enormous, in both English and He-
mitment to the monotheistic idea was the decisive factor en-
brew. The following English works are particularly useful: J.
suring the nation’s survival in exile and (2) that in the mod-
J. Berman’s Shehitah: A Study in the Cultural and Social Life
ern era of secularization and nationalism, only a Jewish
of the Jewish People (New York, 1941); Samuel H. Dresner
homeland could ensure the people Israel’s survival. Like his
and Seymour Siegel’s The Jewish Dietary Laws, 2d rev. ed.
biblical studies, this work is distinguished from other works
(New York, 1966); Isidor Grunfeld’s work by the same
on Jewish history both by its scope and by its mode of argu-
name, especially volume 1, Dietary Laws with Particular Ref-
erence to Meat and Meat Products (New York, 1972); Isaac
Klein’s A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice (New York,
1979); and my Law and Theology in Judaism, vol. 2 (New
York, 1976). Two very different approaches to understand-
Works by Kaufmann
ing the relationship between dietary and other purity laws
Kaufmann’s major works remain untranslated. An abridged trans-
can be found in Jacob Neusner’s The Idea of Purity in Ancient
lation of Toldot ha-emunah ha-Yisre Delit, containing Kauf-
Judaism (Leiden, 1973) and Mary Douglas’s Purity and Dan-
mann’s major arguments, is The Religion of Israel from Its Be-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ginnings to the Babylonian Exile, translated and abridged by
Denko¯roku), founded a memorial hall at Yo¯ko¯ji to enshrine
Moshe Greenberg (Chicago, 1960). An English essay, “The
relics of five generations of So¯to¯ Zen patriarchs, wrote begin-
Biblical Age,” in Great Ages and Ideas of the Jewish People, ed-
ner’s guides to Zen training, and compiled detailed instruc-
ited by Leo W. Schwarz (New York, 1956), covers the devel-
tions for every aspect of Zen monastic life. His most influen-
opment of Israelite religion to the end of the Second Temple.
tial contribution was his detailed instructions on how the
A preliminary presentation of his Hebrew studies of Joshua
abbotship of his monasteries should be rotated among several
and Judges is The Biblical Account of the Conquest of Palestine,
lines of succession so as to ensure united support and avoid
translated by M. Dagut (Jerusalem, 1953).
schisms. This method of rotating abbotship became widely
Works about Kaufmann
adopted among subsequent So¯to¯ monasteries. It was imple-
A critical discussion of Kaufmann’s basic arguments regarding
mented most successfully not at Yo¯ko¯ji, but at So¯jiji, which
biblical Israel is Moshe Greenberg’s “Kaufmann on the
eventually grew to have more affiliated branch temples than
Bible: An Appreciation,” Judaism 13 (Winter 1964): 77–89.
any other So¯to¯ institution. By the beginning of the twenty-
For Kaufmann’s interpretation of Jewish history, see my own
“Religion, Ethnicity and Jewish History: The Contribution
first century, So¯jiji, relocated in 1910 to Yokohama (next to
of Yehezkel Kaufmann,” Journal of the American Academy of
Tokyo), had become one of the two headquarter temples
Religion 42 (September 1974): 516–531. Kaufmann’s histor-
(along with Eiheiji) of the So¯to¯ Zen school. In 1909 the
ical-sociological method is discussed critically in my “Histor-
Meiji emperor (Mutsuhito, 1852–1912) awarded Keizan
ical Sociology and Ideology: A Prolegomenon to Yehezkel
with the posthumous name Jo¯sai Daishi.
Kaufmann’s Golah v DNekhar,” in Essays in Modern Jewish
History: A Tribute to Ben Halpern,
edited by Frances Malino
Keizan’s life and its significance have been the subject
and Phyllis Cohen Albert (East Brunswick, N.J., 1982),
of much unsubstantiated speculation. Many modern Japa-
pp. 173–195.
nese interpretations of Keizan reflect an artificial structural
antagonism between him and Do¯gen, with the latter’s teach-
New Sources
Luz, Ehud. “Jewish Nationalism in the Thought of Yehezkel
ings being portrayed as more pure, more elitest, and more
Kaufmann.” Binah 2 (1989): 177–190.
monastic in orientation, in contrast to which Keizan’s teach-
ings are seen as more eclectic, more common, and more ac-
cessible to laypeople. This narrative of Keizan as the purport-
Revised Bibliography
ed popularizer of Do¯gen’s so-called strict Zen rests not on
the historical evidence but on simplistic apologetics that at-
tempt to justify So¯jiji’s modern preeminence over and above
Do¯gen’s Eiheiji. Keizan, as much as Do¯gen, focused his life’s
efforts on providing strict monastic training for monks and
nuns. Likewise, Do¯gen, as much as Keizan, worked to build
an institutional foundation for Japanese Zen. Keizan was
KEIZAN (1264–1325), more fully Keizan Jo¯kin, was the
long departed before subsequent generations of monks at
founding abbot of the So¯jiji Zen monastery. Since the late
So¯jiji and its affiliates began effecting the rapid growth and
nineteenth century, he has officially been designated, along
transformation of So¯to¯ Zen into an institution consisting
with Do¯gen (1200–1253), as one of the two founding patri-
primarily of local temples that service the religious needs of
archs of the Japanese So¯to¯ Zen school.
laypeople who themselves do not practice Zen.
Born in 1264 (not 1268 as previously assumed), Keizan
It is also true, however, that Keizan was a man of his
entered Eiheiji, the Zen monastery founded by Do¯gen in
times. In addition to Zen history, Zen training, and Zen mo-
Echizen province, in 1276. Keizan studied Zen directly
nasticism, his writings reveal many religious themes common
under four of Do¯gen’s leading disciples: Ejo¯ (1198–1280),
to other fourteenth-century Japanese religious writings. Kei-
Jakuen (1207–1299), Gien (d. 1313), and Gikai (1219–
zan openly described, for example, his reliance on inspired
1309). In 1298 Keizan succeeded Gikai as second abbot of
dreams as a source of religious authority, his use of astrology,
Daijo¯ji monastery in Kaga province. Eventually Keizan en-
his devotion to his mother and grandmother, his invocation
trusted Daijo¯ji to his disciple, Meiho¯ Sotetsu (1277–1350),
of the local gods who protect Buddhism, and his devout faith
and began constructing a new monastery in Noto province
in the bodhisattva Avalokite´svara (Japanese, Kannon). These
named To¯koku-san Yo¯ko¯ji, which he envisioned as the fu-
kinds of trans-sectarian religious values exerted, no doubt, a
ture headquarters of the So¯to¯ Zen lineage in Japan. With
greater influence on the lives of ordinary people than did
Yo¯ko¯ji as his base, Keizan founded six more monasteries
Keizan’s difficult Zen practices or abstruse Zen doctrines.
nearby, including Ho¯o¯ji, the first So¯to¯ nunnery, and So¯jiji,
For this reason, Keizan’s surviving writings constitute prime
which he entrusted to his disciple Gasan Jo¯seki (1276–
sources for the study of medieval Japanese religiosity and the
ways that it interacted with sectarian doctrinal traditions
(such as Zen) and their institutions.
Keizan worked hard to establish a firm religious and in-
stitutional basis for the nascent So¯to¯ Zen school. Toward
Keizan’s numerous writings were not collected, edited,
these ends, he authored a history of the So¯to¯ Zen lineage (the
or published during his lifetime. Extant manuscript versions,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

as well as published editions, are marred by numerous textual
were dangerous, as they several times led to her arrest as a
defects, copyist errors, and arbitrary editorial deletions, addi-
heretic and a narrow escape from burning. For about twenty-
tions, and rearrangements. Scholars have not begun to re-
five years, Kempe was a perpetual pilgrim, visiting not only
solve all the difficulties these texts present. Nonetheless, Kei-
every shrine in England but also the Holy Land, Rome, San-
zan’s authorship of the major works traditionally attributed
tiago de Compostela in Spain, and various northern German
to him is no longer considered doubtful. These major words
centers, gradually establishing a reputation as a prophetess
include the following: Denko¯roku (History of the transmis-
and seer among the less learned.
sion of the light); Zazen yo¯jinki (How to practice sitting
Kempe’s importance for history lies in her autobiogra-
Zen); To¯koku gyo¯ji jijo (Procedures at To¯koku monastery),
phy, the first in English, a book intended for the edification
also known as Keizan shingi (Keizan’s monastic regulations);
of nuns. Although full of moralizing and sermons, it has a
and To¯kokuki (Chronicle of To¯koku monastery).
saving shrewdness and interest in the world. In the course
of her travels, Kempe had numerous alarming encounters
SEE ALSO Do¯gen; Zen.
and met a host of people, from the archbishops of Canter-
bury and York, the holy Julian of Norwich, and innumerable
friars to a wide range of fellow pilgrims and lesser govern-
Azuma Ryu¯shin. Keizan Zenji no kenkyu¯ (A study of Zen teacher
ment officials. It was her wish to write a mystical treatise,
Keizan). Tokyo, 1974.
such as the famous Cloud of Unknowing, but what she did,
Bodiford, William M. So¯to¯ Zen in Medieval Japan. Honolulu,
in her autobiography, was to lay the fifteenth-century world
before the reader in all its violence and piety; its blend of the
Bodiford, William M. “Keizan’s Dream History.” In Religions of
spiritual and the venal, ignorance and learning, feudalism,
Japan in Practice, edited by George J. Tanabe Jr.,
democracy, and petty officialdom; its magnificence and utter
pp. 501–522. Princeton, 1999.
filth. Here is the authentic background to Chaucer’s Canter-
Faure, Bernard. Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese
bury Tales. No other medieval document enables one so
Buddhism. Translated by Phyllis Brooks. Princeton, 1996.
clearly to realize what it was actually like for a humble pil-
Hirose Ryo¯ko¯. “Eiheiji no suiun to fukko¯ undo¯” (The decline and
grim to live and to travel in fifteenth-century Europe.
revival of Eiheiji monastery). In Eiheijishi (The history of Ei-
heiji monastery), edited by Sakurai Shu¯yu¯, vol. 1,
pp. 379–541. Fukui Pref., 1982.
The Book of Margery Kempe, edited by Hope E. Allen and Sanford
Keizan Zenji Ho¯san Kanko¯kai, eds. Keizan Zenji kenkyu¯ (Re-
B. Meech (London, 1940), is the text dictated by Kempe to
searches on Zen teacher Keizan). Tokyo, 1974.
a priest about 1438, in the original spelling and fully anno-
tated. The narrative is confused in many places, and the read-
Sahashi Ho¯ryu¯. Ningen Keizan (Keizan as a human being). Tokyo,
er will be greatly assisted by the only modern study, Memoirs
of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe,
“Taiso Keizan Zenji roppyaku goju¯kai daionki ho¯san.” (Special
by Louise Collis (New York, 1964), also published under the
issue dedicated to the 650th anniversary of the Great Patri-
title The Apprentice Saint (London, 1964). This biography
arch Keizan.) Shu¯gaku kenkyu¯ 16 (1974).
places Kempe’s adventures in their proper historical perspec-
Takeuchi Ko¯do¯. “Keizan Zenji ryaku nenpyo¯ (seju rokuju¯ni sai)”
tive, relating them to the wider political, social, and religious
(Brief chronology of Zen teacher Keizan’s sixty-two-year life-
issues of the day.
time). So¯to¯shu¯ kenkyu¯in kenkyu¯sei kenkyu¯ kiyo¯ 18 (1986):
KENYON, KATHLEEN. Kathleen Mary Kenyon
(1906–1978) was born in London on January 5, 1906. She
KEMPE, MARGERY (c. 1373–c.1440), English pil-
graduated from Somerville College, Oxford, in 1929, and in
grim, autobiographer, and professional holy woman. Kempe
1934 she cofounded, with Mortimer Wheeler and Tessa
was the daughter of a prosperous merchant of King’s Lynn,
Wheeler, the University of London’s Institute of Archaeolo-
England. Although happily married, she tended to have hys-
gy. Kenyon served as the institute’s first secretary, then as in-
terical fits during which God spoke to her. At about the age
terim director during World War II. She was a lecturer in
of forty, having had fourteen children, she persuaded her
Palestinian archaeology (1949–1962); was appointed honor-
husband that God wished them to take a vow of chastity. By
ary director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusa-
this time the Deity was conversing agreeably with her nearly
lem in 1951; and excavated Jericho between 1952 and 1958
every day. Her meditations tended to concentrate on the Pas-
and Jerusalem from 1962 to 1967. She served as principal
sion and to bring on wild lamentations, uncontrollable
of Saint Hugh’s College from 1962 to 1973 and upon her
floods of tears, and rollings on the ground. These were wide-
retirement in 1973 received the title Dame of the Order of
ly acceptable signs of grace in the Middle Ages, but there
the British Empire, 1973. After her death on August 24,
were always some who declared her a fraud. Such charges
1978, in Wrexham, Wales, the British School of Archaeolo-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

gy in Jerusalem was renamed the Kenyon Institute in her
nest Sellin, conducted the first scientific excavations (1907–
honor (2003).
1909, 1911). They uncovered remains of a massive city wall
and palace—validation, they claimed, of the Old Testament
Kenyon is a significant figure in the history of Near
story of Jericho’s destruction (Jos. 6). However, after analyz-
Eastern archaeology. She created the Wheeler-Kenyon exca-
ing stamped jar handles and Egyptian scarabs associated with
vation method, contributed to establishing a dating system
the wall, Watzinger concluded that the wall had been de-
for Iron II occupation levels, established the Neolithic ori-
stroyed during the Middle Bronze period, much earlier than
gins of biblical Jericho, and uncovered the occupational his-
the Israelite conquest. The excavations of the British archae-
tory of Samaria. She was a teacher as well as a practitioner
ologist John Garstang (1930–1936) revealed remains of a
of archaeology. In addition to lecturing at the University of
network of walls whose collapse, he argued, resulted from
London’s Institute of Archaeology, she also conducted field
military destruction rather than disrepair or erosion. He
schools at her excavations in Jericho and Jerusalem. There
dated the walls to about 1400 BCE and, dismissing Watz-
she trained the next generation of archaeologists from En-
inger’s conclusions, announced that the archaeological evi-
gland, the United States, and Europe who in turn handed
dence confirmed the Israelite destruction of Jericho.
on her legacy to their students.
Kenyon’s Jericho project uncovered evidence of Natufi-
Kenyon began her distinguished archaeological career in
an culture just above bedrock and, in the next strata, a mud-
1929 as a photographer of Gertrude Canton-Thomson’s ex-
brick tower dated to the Neolithic period (c. 8000 BCE),
cavation of the ruins of Zimbabwe in Rhodesia. When she
making Jericho the earliest-known walled city. Her excava-
returned to England, Kenyon worked with Mortimer Whee-
tion of tombs in the same strata city provided evidence for
ler and Tessa Wheeler at Verulamium (Saint Albans), direct-
Neolithic funeral rites: clay-covered skulls decorated with
ing the excavation of the Roman theater during the summer
paint and shells. She found that the mud-brick city walls had
field seasons from 1930 to 1935. Wheeler was considered the
been repaired and rebuilt some seventeen times, probably be-
founder of modern British archaeology, and Kenyon learned
cause of earthquake damage. The building of the most recent
his box-grid excavation system. The Wheeler system divided
wall Kenyon dated to around 2300 BCE; it was destroyed in
a site into five-meter squares with one-meter balks (walls) be-
about 1550 BCE. Only a small, unfortified settlement existed
tween them in order to uncover and excavate horizontally the
on the site when the Israelites entered Canaan (c. 1400 BCE).
layered remains of human occupation according to their nat-
Her interpretation prevails, despite subsequent criticism (see
ural contours. Layers (strata) differed in color, consistency,
Wood, 1990).
and contents—information generally previously unrecorded
Kenyon’s final excavation (1962–1967) focused on the
on excavations whose major goal was recovering a site’s archi-
City of David, just south of the Temple Mount, the oldest
tecture. Diagnostic ceramics (for example, jar handles, rims,
inhabited part of Jerusalem. The most important architectur-
and bases) helped to date the strata from which they were
al features she uncovered were stepped-stone structures
whose function and dating remain ambiguous. The 1967
Kenyon’s first foray into Near Eastern archaeology was
Six-Day War terminated Kenyon’s excavation. She died be-
her collaboration with John Crowfoot and Grace Crowfoot
fore she could publish final field reports on her work in Jeru-
at Samaria (1931–1933). Kenyon used Wheeler’s method to
excavate trenches across the top of the mound and down its
SEE ALSO Archaeology and Religion.
northern and southern slopes, uncovering evidence of
human occupation from the Roman period to Iron II. Her
findings provided important ceramic dating material for Pal-
Kenyon, Kathleen. Digging up Jericho. London, 1957.
estinian Iron II stratigraphy and for the study of terra sigilata
Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. 2 vols. London, 1960,
ware. Colleagues considered Kenyon’s fieldwork at Samaria
a high point in Palestinian archaeology.
Kenyon, Kathleen. Amorites and Canaanites. London, 1966.
Kenyon directed her career-defining excavation of Tel
Kenyon, Kathleen. Royal Cities of the Old Testament. London,
es-Sultan, ancient Jericho, from 1952 to 1958. Building on
her work in Samaria, she created the Wheeler-Kenyon meth-
Kenyon, Kathleen. Digging up Jerusalem. London, 1974.
od, which is still a popular technique among Near Eastern
Kenyon, Kathleen. The Bible and Recent Archaeology. London,
archaeologists. By this method, she dug a deep, stepped
1978; rev. ed., 1987.
trench down to bedrock on one side of the site in order to
Wood, Bryant G. “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?” Biblical
trace its history of human occupation. To follow a surface
Archaeology Review 16 (March–April 1990): 44–58.
or a building’s foundations, for example, she excavated hori-
zontally in a series of five-meter squares, leaving balks intact.
Jericho was one of the first sites excavated in Palestine.
The British engineer Charles Warren surveyed the site in
KEPLER, JOHANNES (1571–1630), was the discov-
1868. Two German archaeologists, Carl Watzinger and Er-
erer of the laws of planetary motion named after him. He
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

was born at Württemberg, Germany. Owing to his family’s
sisted in his Astronomia nova (1609) that the biblical refer-
poverty, the young Kepler had to leave school to work in the
ences to nature are not natural philosophy, he goes on to say:
fields, but his physique was too frail for such labor. In 1584,
And I urge my reader also not to be forgetful of the di-
therefore, he decided to train for the priesthood. His brilliant
vine goodness imparted to men, when the Psalmist in-
academic record earned him acceptance at the University of
vites him particularly to contemplate this, when having
Tübingen, where he was introduced to the ideas of Coperni-
returned from the temple, he has again entered the
cus. In 1594 he was appointed to the professorship of astron-
school of astronomy. Let him join with me in praising
omy at Graz. There, in addition to preparing astrological al-
and celebrating the wisdom and greatness of the Cre-
manacs, he devoted himself to studying the solar system. His
ator which I disclose to him from the deeper explana-
publication of Mysterium cosmographicum (1595) attracted
tions of the form of the universe, from the enquiry into
the attention of the great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe,
its causes, from the detection of errors of appearance.
who invited him to Prague and whom he succeeded as impe-
Thus not only let him recognize the well-being of living
things throughout nature, in the firmness and stability
rial astronomer to the emperor Rudolf II, in 1601. Kepler
of the world so that he reveres God’s handiwork, but
published some optical discoveries in 1604 and, in 1609,
also let him recognize the wisdom of the Creator in its
found that the orbit of Mars was elliptical in shape. In the
motion which is as mysterious as it is worthy of all ad-
latter year he also explained the cause of tides. In his Diop-
trice (1611), Kepler developed the principle of the astronom-
ical (or inverting) telescope. Deeply anguished by the un-
timely death of his favorite child and, soon after, that of his
The definitive biography of Kepler is Max Casper’s Johannes Kep-
wife, Kepler sought release by plunging into his studies of
ler (Stuttgart, 1950), which has been translated and edited
the heavenly bodies. By 1619 he had discovered the last of
by C. Doris Hellman as Kepler (New York, 1959). A popular
his three famous laws, which he published in De harmonice
and very readable account is Arthur Koestler’s The Water-
mundi. It should be remarked that “Kepler’s laws of motion”
shed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler (New York, 1960).
were scattered amid many other conjectures and planetary
Books 4 and 5 of Kepler’s The Epitome of Copernican Astrono-
relationships postulated by Kepler and that he himself did
my and book 5 of his Harmonies of the World can be found
in the series “The Great Books of the Western World,” vol.
not attach particularly great importance to them (as opposed
16 (Chicago, 1952).
to other relationships that did not prove so fruitful for later
New Sources
Ferguson, Kitty. Nobleman and His Housedog: Tycho Brahe and Jo-
Kepler’s work is permeated with his conviction that the
hannes Kepler: The Strange Partnership that Revolutionised Sci-
book of nature is written in mathematical symbols and that
ence. London, 2002.
reality can be grasped only through mathematics. “Just as the
Field, J. V. Kepler’s Geometrical Cosmology. Chicago, 1988.
eye was made to see colors, and the ear to hear sounds,” he
Gingerich, Owen. Eye of Heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler.
said, “so the human mind was made to understand, not
New York, 1993.
whatever you please, but quantity.” Kepler seems never to
have shown any opposition to or disrespect for theology, al-
Revised Bibliography
though he regarded the realms of the theologians and the
natural philosophers as quite different. He insisted that the
Bible, when it refers to natural objects and events, should not
be taken literally.
KERÉNYI, KÁROLY (1897–1973), was a Hungarian-
Kepler took his religion, in which he displayed an un-
born scholar of classical philology, the history of religions,
yielding individualism, seriously. He was expelled from his
and mythology. He was born in the southeastern corner of
home and from his position at Graz for refusing to embrace
the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the town of Temesvár (now
Roman Catholicism, and he was excluded from communion
Timisoara, Romania). Growing up in a Roman Catholic
in the Lutheran church in Linz both for his refusal to give
family of small landowners, Kerényi learned Latin and was
a written statement of conformity with the Lutheran doc-
drawn to the study of languages. Classical philology was his
trine and also on suspicion of being a secret Calvinist. He
major subject at the University of Budapest; his doctoral dis-
wanted to find a genuine harmony among these three fac-
sertation (1919) was entitled “Plato and Longinus: Investiga-
tions: “It hurts my heart that the three factions have misera-
tions in Classical Literary and Aesthetic History.” He spent
bly torn the truth to pieces between them, that I must collect
several years as a secondary-school teacher, traveled in Greece
the bits wherever I can find them, and put them together
and Italy, and undertook postdoctoral studies at the universi-
ties of Greifswald, Heidelberg, and Berlin, under Hermann
Diels, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Eduard Nor-
In his astronomical work—discovering laws and harmo-
den, Eduard Meyer, and Franz Boll. To Boll he dedicated
nies of the solar system and the music of the spheres, to
his first book, Die griechisch-orientalische Romanliteratur in
which he assigned specific musical notes—Kepler regarded
religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung (1927), the scholarly re-
himself as priest of God in the temple of nature. Having in-
ception of which led to Kerényi’s appointment as privatdo-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

cent in the history of religions at the University of Budapest.
until his death in 1973. Between 1941 and 1963 he lectured
He became professor of classical philology and ancient histo-
frequently at the annual Eranos conferences in Ascona.
ry at Pécs in 1934 and at Szeged in 1941, while retaining his
docentship at Budapest.
HE SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY. Kerényi’s approach to Greek
religion in his first book on Hellenistic romance literature
During a visit to Greece in 1929, Kerényi met Walter
was consistent with the standard historical method. In the
F. Otto (1874–1958), whose approach to the history of reli-
1930s he followed Otto’s interpretation of the Greek god-
gions influenced him profoundly. He resolved to combine
heads as “forms of being” (Seinsgestalten), that is, ideal figures
the “historical” and the “theological” methods and to go be-
corresponding to particular spheres of reality in the common
yond the limits of academic philology. His first works in this
experience of the world, whose essential aspects are repre-
new direction were the essay collection Apollon (1937) and
sented by means of symbolic features. The exposure to these
Die antike Religion (1940).
“forms” has a strong emotional impact, but the impact is not
merely a psychic phenomenon, because it has an objective
Two significant influences from outside his field came
reference. Kerényi, like Otto, made use of the anthropologist
to bear on Kerényi in the 1930s. In 1934 he began a corre-
Leo Frobenius’s Ergriffenheit—the idea of “being-grasped”
spondence with Thomas Mann (1875–1955) that, except for
by prominent phenomena of the external world—which pro-
a wartime hiatus, lasted until Mann’s death. In the late 1930s
motes myth-making activity in human cultures. Kerényi
Kerényi came into contact with C. G. Jung (1875–1961),
claimed that scientific inquiry into religions does not face the
and their first joint publication on mythology appeared in
mind’s “illusions” but rather its “realities” (“Realitäten der
1941. Jung encouraged Kerényi’s move to Switzerland in
Seele,” in Apollon, 1937, p. 27). Mythology, in other words,
1943 as a cultural attaché charged with maintaining contact
is grounded in actual human life, not insane or childish im-
with the Western democracies, in spite of Nazi domination
agery, as positivism had envisaged it. At the same time, how-
of Hungary; the following year, when the Germans occupied
ever, such fundamental “humanism” cannot be understood,
his homeland, Kerényi could not return to Hungary and
as historicism understands it, by explaining religion as if it
chose permanent exile in 1947. Fifteen years later he and his
were only the output of a given cultural and social setting.
family became Swiss citizens. They lived near or in Ascona,
The human “reality” reflected in myths and symbols is some-
in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, where Kerényi led
thing deeper than a simple matter of facts. It is a complex
the life of an independent humanist, though he taught occa-
interaction between a human being’s consciousness and the
sionally in Basel, Bonn, and Zurich. He was a cofounder in
riddles of the existence by which he or she is “grasped” and
1948 of the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, where he also
stimulated to reflect and to interpret. Kerényi’s perspective
is thus equally distant from metaphysical theology and from
atheistic anthropology—though it is “theological” (in a
In the course of his work with Jung, Kerényi conceived
Greek sense), because the representations of the gods are
a plan to study the Greek gods with the aim of developing
taken seriously, and also “anthropological” insofar as the
a view of the Greek pantheon that modern people could en-
human being is the ultimate concern of religious discourse.
compass; to this end he took the findings of psychology into
For this reason it has been defined as a peculiar form of reli-
consideration, while maintaining that he followed a path
gious phenomenology or hermeneutics (Magris, 1975).
separate from that of Jungian psychology. As Kerényi saw it,
every view of mythology is a view of human culture. Thus,
The basic difference with respect to Otto lies in the fact
every “theology” is at the same time an “anthropology.”
that Kerényi shares only partially his mentor’s neoclassical
Kerényi’s method was to test the “authenticity” of mytholog-
patterns of thought. Kerényi does not consider the Greek
ical tradition by examining stylistic traits. The essence of his
mythological figures as exclusively luminous and positive
work, Kerényi thought, consisted in establishing a science of
forms of being contemplated by the Hellenic “spirit.” He
ancient religion and mythology based not merely on a de-
aims to analyze the divine forms to underline their negative
tailed knowledge of the literature and archaeology but also
aspects or “dark side” (Schattenseite). For example, Apollo ap-
on a reciprocal sympathy between the interpreter and his ma-
pears on one hand as linked to beauty and light; but on the
terial; this would broaden the field of learning already
other hand he is a gloomy death-bringing god, whose symbol
opened by traditional historical methods. Mythologie der Gr-
is the wolf. The objective experience of the polarity of life
iechen (1951) and Die Heroen der Griechen (1958) are his
and death, of world and afterworld, is part of the complexity
most comprehensive achievements in this regard.
of human reality: this is what can actually “grasp” the mind
and be given a mythological form.
In exile, Kerényi’s reputation as a mythologist prospered
among scholars, and he also became known as a popular in-
While working out this research project, Kerényi found
terpreter of myths. His honors included membership in the
Jung to be a natural partner; their collaboration lasted for a
Norwegian Royal Academy of Sciences, an honorary doctor-
couple of decades after their joint programmatic work, The
ate from the University of Uppsala, the Humboldt Society
Science of Mythology (1941). The founder of analytical psy-
gold medal, and the Pirckheimer Ring of Nuremberg. In ad-
chology had been keenly interested in mythology since his
dition, he was a Bollingen Foundation fellow from 1947
break with Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical movement.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Jung assumed that along with the individual unconscious,
meanings, and situations that are deeply rooted in the uni-
which owed its existence to personal experience, a second
versal human experience. Moreover, these archetypal images
psychic system existed—the collective unconscious—
and meanings are given historical consistency only in one
inherited by all individuals and consisting of primordial
specific cultural setting, or more than one, provided that
forms, the so-called archetypes, whose main manifestations
their being interconnected is supported by anthropological
within human history were mythological constructs. Accord-
evidence. The science of mythology deals with “culture-
ing to this view, which Kerényi accepted in principle, a com-
typical” phenomena (kulturtypisch), but it achieves its goal
parison among different cultures was suitable because essen-
as a “humanistic” discipline by trying to grasp their “arche-
tially the same archetypes appear everywhere as a common
typal” relevance (archetypisch) at a deeper level than the his-
heritage of humankind. In The Science of Mythology, for ex-
torical one.
ample, the Greek myth of Persephone parallels the religious
Kerényi carried out this kind of “excavation” (the meth-
tradition of a remote Indonesian tribe (discovered by Adolf
od of archaeology offering in his view the nearest resem-
Jensen, a pupil of Frobenius), although any historical link be-
blance to the mythologist’s work) in the fifteen books and
tween the two cultures is highly hypothetical.
several brilliant papers he wrote from 1942 to 1962, the most
Another issue Jung and Kerényi shared was the analogy
creative period of his scientific career. The Greek religion
between the internal structure of myths and dreams, so that,
emerged in the Mycenaean and archaic age on the back-
as Kerényi put it, the myth can be defined as a “collective
ground of the pre-Greek Mediterranean substrate, mainly ev-
dream,” and the dream as an “individual myth.” The my-
idenced in the Minoan culture of ancient Crete. Its general
thologist is allowed to apply the method of free association
frame seems to have been a dialectic of life and death, as well
that Jung had been using with his patients, thus uncovering
as a sort of circularity between the natural world and the un-
in apparently minor details a decisive connection between
derworld. This dialectic was symbolically exhibited in such
different mythological figures or events, in which an analo-
ritual performances as the labyrinth dance (Labyrinth-
gous archetypal theme is expressed (e.g., the femaleness por-
Studien, 1942; Werke 1) or portrayed in key mythological
trayed in different ancient goddesses). But the most impor-
figures that underwent a complicated “culture-typical” evo-
tant thing Kerényi derived from Jung was undoubtedly the
lution. Initially, the female godhead prevails, whereas the
idea of the essential ambivalence of human nature. The Jun-
male godhead plays a subordinate function as begetter (Po-
gian distinction not simply between consciousness and un-
seidon-type) or divine child (Dionysos-type). The archetypal
conscious, but also between the soul and the “shadow,” and
mother-begetter scheme evolved eventually to the husband-
between animus and anima (the male and female aspect of
wife couple (Zeus und Hera, 1972). The idea of the origin
each individual soul), should have stimulated Kerényi’s view
of life also appears in a masculine version in the Cabyrian
of the mythological thought as expressing the human ambiv-
couple (father-son) around whom the mysteries of Samo-
alence through the polarity of light side and dark side, and
thrace were centered (Mysterien der Kabiren, 1944).
through the deep meaning of gender symbolism. Moreover,
The idea of life as being essentially exposed to death but
Kerényi applies, in a way, to the understanding of mythology
nevertheless triumphant over death and suffering is another
the method of the analytical therapy, according to which the
basic archetypal idea expressed in different ways by the fig-
formation of the “self” takes place when one is able to estab-
ures of Hermes and Dionysos (Hermes, 1943; Dionysos,
lish a constructive interaction with one’s hidden “double.”
1976). The feminine version of the same idea is embodied
In a similar way, the protagonist of a mythological narrative
in the mother-daughter couple (Demeter and Persephone)
also has to cope with and overcome the manifold figures of
of the Eleusinian mysteries. In this case, the rape of the maid-
death. This is the archetypal meaning of the different situa-
en by Hades (for Kerényi a form of chthonic Dionysos) em-
tions Kerényi investigated with profound sensitivity: the
phasizes the dark side of the gender relationship, but the
fight against a dragon; travel in unknown lands; the descent
male’s violence also implements the female’s transition from
to the underworld; initiation; and the heroic contest. Psy-
virginity to motherhood, whereby a divine child (a form of
chology enhances the study of myths by adding a keener in-
younger Dionysos) is given birth miraculously within the
sight into the basic questions all humans generally face (all-
realm of the dead. It is noteworthy that many issues were in-
gemeinmenschlich). The mythologist thus performs a
terlaced in an apparently simple tale: the complexity of the
“humanistic inquiry on the soul” (humanistische Seelenfor-
female nature; the process of the mother-daughter, father-
son duplication; the switching from negative to positive; and
the knowledge, transmitted by the mystery cult, that even the
Nevertheless, Kerényi carefully avoided appearing as a
sinister sphere of death allows life to endure and the deceased
psychologist or a Jungian historian of religions like Eric Neu-
to join it again (Mysterien von Eleusis, 1962).
mann. Kerényi adopted a softer version of the archetype the-
ory. He proposed that this term should be employed (in
The science of mythology does not aim to build a sys-
keeping with ancient Greek) only as an adjective, not as a
tematic theory. Its work consists in analyzing definite blocks
noun. There exist no “archetypes” as everlasting psychical
of mythical and ritual tradition; its requirements are clever-
structures in human minds, but rather “archetypal” images,
ness and extensive acquaintance with philology, archaeology,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

and even the “indirect tradition” offered by the very sites and
3. Tage- und Wanderbücher (1969)
landscapes to which mythological tales were linked. More-
4. Apollon und Niobe (1980)
over, as Kerényi pointed out in his only methodological essay
5.1. Wege und Weggenossen I (1985)
(Umgang mit Göttlichem, 1955; Werke, 5.1), the historian of
5.2. Wege und Weggenossen II (1988)
religions, as well as the historian of art, cannot operate as a
pure scholar, since dealing (Umgang) with the divine requires
7. Antike Religion (1971)
a certain sense or taste for its object. The historian of reli-
8. Dionysos: Urbild des unzerstörbaren Lebens (1976)
gions must appreciate in the mythological figures the at-
Klett-Cotta (Stuttgart, Germany) later republished vol. 8 (1994),
tempt made by the human mind to elaborate in symbolic
vol. 7 (1995), and vol. 1 (1996), adding Mythologie der Griec-
form its experience of something transcending it. Even if
hen (1997), Töchter der Sonne (1997), and Urbilder der gr-
mythological figures did not “exist” anywhere, they ought
iechischen Religion (1998, containing Hermes, Asklepios,
not to be dismissed as a bare human invention, for the divine
Mysterien von Eleusis and Promethus). See also the correspon-
represents the deeper levels of being that humans actually ex-
dence with Thomas Mann, Gespräch in Briefen (Zurich,
perience every day (though they are unable to master them).
1960) and with Hermann Hesse, Briefwechsel aus der Nähe
(Munich and Vienna, 1984). Also of biographical interest is
The foremost mythogenic situations are birth, begetting, and
the correspondence with Furio Jesi, Demone e mito: Carteggio
death (the “high moments of life,” Höhepunkte des Lebens);
1964–1968, edited by Magda Kerényi and Andrea Cavalletti
in Kerényi’s formula, “the myth is myth of man.”
(Macerata, Italy, 1999). Kerényi’s writings in Italian have
In his last years, the debate on the “demythologization”
also been published under the title Scritti italiani (1955–
question raised by Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) offered
1971), edited by Giampiero Moretti (Naples, Italy, 1993).
Kerényi the opportunity to clarify his own assumptions. Re-
After the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary,
Kerényi’s early writings in Hungarian, along with some
ligion ought not be “demythologized” in order to be authen-
Hungarian translations of his German works, were pub-
tic, because it is grounded neither on doctrines nor fables,
but on events (Geschehen) in which the divine dimension of
Many of Kerényi’s major works have been translated into English:
reality is perceived while crossing the dimension of ordinary
life. Only the myth is appropriate for expressing the deeper
Apollon: The Wind, the Spirit, and the God (1937). Translated by
level of the experience. Thus the Greek word for “god”
Jon Solomon. Dallas, Tex., 1983.
(theos) originally had an adjectival rather than a substantive
The Religion of the Greeks and Romans (1940). Translated by
meaning—it stood for a property of the experienced event
Christopher Holme. New York, 1962.
and was not a definition of an abstract object (see Werke 7).
Essays on a Science of Mythology (1941). Coauthored with C. G.
Jung. Translated by Richard Francis C. Hull. Princeton,
SEE ALSO Brelich, Angelo; Jung, C. G.; Otto, Walter F.
N.J., 1969; reprinted as The Science of Mythology; London
and New York, 2001.
Hermes, the Guide of the Souls (1942). Translated by Murray Stein.
Zurich, 1976.
Kerényi (Károly, Karl, Charles, or Carlo, according to the lan-
Goddesses of Sun and Moon (1944). Translated by Murray Stein.
guage in which his work appeared) produced 295 separate
London, 1979; reprint, Dallas, Tex., 1991.
original works, chiefly in German, but also in Hungarian and
Italian. With different versions and translations, the total
Prometheus: Archetypal Image of Human Existence (1946). Trans-
number of his publications is more than five hundred; some
lated by Ralph Manheim. Princeton, N.J., 1997.
470 appeared during his lifetime and some forty were issued
The Gods of the Greeks (1951). Translated by Norman Cameron.
posthumously. Kerényi’s first book is Die griechisch-
New York, 1951; reprint, London, 1974.
orientalische Romanliteratur in religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuch-
Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion (1952). Translated by
tung (Tübingen, Germany, 1927, second edition Darmstadt,
Murray Stein. New York, 1978.
Germany, 1962). The collected works, including mono-
graphs on philology, mythology, and literature, as well as di-
Asklepios: Archetypal Image of the Physician’s Existence (1954).
aries and travel journals, have been published in eight vol-
Translated by Ralph Manheim. New York, 1959; reprint,
umes (twelve were originally projected) as Werke in
Einzelausgaben, published by Langen-Müller (Munich and
The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (1954). Co-
Vienna), and originally under the editorship of Kerényi’s
authored with Paul Radin and C. G. Jung. Translated by
wife, Magda Lukács. For a complete bibliography, excluding
Richard Francis C. Hull. Reprint, New York, 1990.
articles published in periodicals, updated to 1975 by Lukács,
The Heroes of the Greeks (1958). Translated by Herbert Jennings
see the Langen-Müller edition of Dionysos (1976),
Rose. London, 1974; reprint, Princeton, N.J., 1997.
pp. 447–474.
Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter (1962). Translat-
The Langen-Müller program was suspended after publishing eight
ed by Ralph Manheim. New York, 1967; reprint, Princeton,
volumes, each one containing several essays under a general
N.J., 1991.
Zeus and Hera: Archetypal Image of Father, Husband, and Wife
1. Humanistische Seelenforschung (1966)
(1972). Translated by Christopher Holme. Princeton, N.J.,
2. Auf Spuren des Mythos (1967)
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Mythology and Humanism: The Correspondence of Thomas Mann
and Karl Kerényi. Translated by Alexander Gelley. Ithaca,
N.Y., 1975.
Dionysos: Archetypal Image of the Indestructible Life. Translated by
Ralph Manheim. Princeton, N.J., 1976; reprint, 1996.
KEYS. Doors held shut with bars, and bars and bolts, were
common long before locks and keys became prevalent. Some
of the oldest myths reflect this. In Babylonian mythology,
Earlier evaluations include Charles Picard, “Un bilan moderne de
la religion antique,” Diogène 25 (1959): 125–141; Hervé
for example, Marduk makes gates to the heavens and secures
Rousseau, “La présentification du divin: L’oeuvre de Karl
them with bolts. Many later divinities in the ancient world
Kerényi,” Critique 15 (1959): 433–454; Geo Widengren,
were both guardians of closed doors and bearers of keys.
“Karl Kerényi siebzig Jahre,” Numen 14 (1967): 164–165;
The possession of keys usually signified power over re-
Karl Kerényi: Der Humanismus des integralen Menschen
gions guarded by the locks that the keys could open or close.
(Mannheim, 1971); Furio Jesi, Letteratura e mito (Turin,
The regions in question were often the underworld or places
Italy, 1968), see pp. 35–44; and Hellmut Sichtermann, “Karl
of the afterlife—for example, the realm of Hades, the Abyss
Kerényi,” Arcadia: Zeitschrift für vergleichende Literatur-
11 (1976): 150–177.
in the Book of Revelation, and the Mandaean “dark worlds”
that had locks and keys different from all others. The keeper
The only encompassing monograph as of 2004 is Aldo Magris,
of keys was charged not only with guarding the passage as
Carlo Kerényi e la ricerca fenomenologica della religione
human beings went from this world to the next but also with
(Milan, 1975). Several further studies are available in Italian,
keeping the dead where they belonged. A Babylonian funer-
including Furio Jesi, Materiali mitologici (Turin, Italy,
ary chant entreats the gatekeeper of the underworld to keep
1979), pp. 3–80, where Magris’s work is strongly criticized.
close watch over the dead, lest they return.
A survey on Kerényi’s theory of language is presented by Se-
rena Cattaruzza Derossi, “Il problema linguistico in K.
The locked realm can also be this earth, the seas, or even
Kerényi,” in Miscellanea 4 (Udine, Italy, 1984): 81–119.
the cosmos itself. In Greek mythology Cybele holds the key
to Earth, shutting her up in winter and opening her again
Several papers illustrate Kerényi’s relationships with leading Ital-
in the spring. Similarly, Janus opens the door of the sky and
ian scholars of the history and philosophy of religion. These
include Dino Pieraccioni, “Mario Untersteiner e Carlo
releases the dawn. In Mesopotamian myth, Ninib guards the
Kerényi: Due spiriti europei in un epistolario,” Nuova an-
lock of heaven and earth and opens the deep, while Ea un-
tologia 2162 (1987): 293–328; Nicola Cusumano, “Károly
locks fountains. The Egyptian Serapis has keys to the earth
Kerényi in Italia,” Il Veltro 37 (1993): 161–170; Riccardo
and sea. In Breton folklore menhirs are the keys to the
Dottori, “Karl Kerényi ai Convegni internazionali di Enrico
sea and also the keys to hell; if they were turned in their locks
Castelli (1955–1971),” Mythos 7 (1995): 33–57; Paola Pisi,
and the locks should open, the sea would rush in.
“Dioniso da Nietzsche a Kerényi,” Studi e materiali di storia
delle religioni
69, no. 27 (2003): 129–218; and Natale Spine-
Because in the ancient world many divinities were key
to, “Károly Kerényi e gli studi storico-religiosi in Italia,”
bearers, their priestesses bore keys signifying that the divine
Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni 27, no. 2 (2003):
powers belonged to them as well, or that they were guardians
385–410. See also Giampiero Cavaglià, “Karl Kerényi e
of the sanctuaries of the gods. Priestesses were represented
Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Il viaggio ermetico,” Rivista di es-
carrying on their shoulders large rectangular keys. A key pic-
tetica 24 (1984): 18–31; and Volker Losemann, “Die Krise
tured on a gravestone indicated the burial place of a priestess.
der ‘alten Welt’ und die Gegenwart: Franz Altheim und Karl
There is a morphological relationship between the key
Kerényi im Dialog,” in Peter Kneissl and Volker Losemann,
eds. Imperium Romanum: Studien zur Geschichte und Rezep-
and the nem ankh sign, where the anserated cross of the
tion (Stuttgart, 1998).
Egyptian gods is carried by its top as if it were a key, especial-
ly in ceremonies for the dead. Here the cross, playing the role
Miscellaneous books dedicated to Kerényi include, Kerényi Károly
of the key, opens the gates of death onto immortality.
és a humanizmus (Zurich, 1977); Edgar C. Polomé, ed., Es-
says in Memory of Károly Kerényi
(Washington, D.C., 1984);
Keys also symbolize a task to be performed and the
Luciano Arcella, ed., Károly Kerényi: Incontro con il divino
means of performing it. In the Hebrew scriptures the acces-
(Rome, 1999); and János György Szilágyi, ed., Mitológia és
sion to kingly power occurred through “laying the key of the
humanitás (Budapest, 1999).
House of David upon [his] shoulders” (Is. 22:22). For an-
cient Jewish and some non-Jewish royalty, the passing on of
keys was a natural symbol for the transfer of the monarch’s
task and the power to accomplish it.
The key symbolizes initiation into the mysteries of the
cult. In Mithraic rites the lion-headed figure who is central
to the ceremony holds in his hands two keys. It is possible
that they function in the same way as the two “keys of the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

kingdom” held by Saint Peter in Christianity: One represents
It derives from Manichaean antecedents as well as pre-S:u¯f¯ı
excommunication whereby the door is locked against the un-
ascetic communities (the Karra¯miyah of Khorasan in eastern
worthy soul, while the other represents absolution whereby
Iran). One of the earliest S:u¯f¯ı masters to establish a
the door is opened and the initiate achieves salvation.
kha¯naga¯h, Shaykh Abu¯ SaE¯ıd ibn Ab¯ı al-Khayr (d. 1049),
also laid down rules that were to apply to its inmates: He is
extolled in a posthumous family biography for the firm but
Information about the symbolism of keys can be found in various
moderate spiritual discipline he imparted to the residents of
primary sources. J. A. MacCulloch’s “Locks and Keys,” in
his kha¯naga¯h. Later S:u¯f¯ı masters were less collegial and more
the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Has-
autocratic, but they, like Abu¯ SaE¯ıd, utilized a kha¯naga¯h or
tings, vol. 8 (Edinburgh, 1915), contains material covering
the development of locks, locks and bolts, and keys as me-
similar facility for engaging in a variety of communal rela-
chanical contrivances as well as symbols. Franz Cumont in
The Mysteries of Mithra, 2d ed., translated by Thomas J. Mc-
It was also in the late eleventh century, beginning with
Cormack (New York, 1910), and Robert C. Zaehner in Zur-
the Seljuk rulers of Egypt and Syria and continuing under
van: A Zoroastrian Dilemma (Oxford, 1955) both discuss at
their successors, that the establishment of kha¯naga¯hs and
length the initiation rites of Mithraism and speculate about
the keys of the lion-headed god.
their equivalents became widespread. The most renowned
hospices were clustered in places that were also the commer-
New Sources
cial and political capitals of major Muslim dynasties—Cairo,
Lurker, Manfred. “Schlüssel.” In Wörterbuch der Symbolik. Stutt-
gart, Germany, 1983, p. 603.
Baghdad, Mosul, Lahore, and Delhi. Their persistence is
suggested by the fact that riba¯t:s founded in Baghdad in the
Ortner, S. B. “On Key Symbols.” The American Anthropologist 75
eleventh and twelfth centuries were replicated, at least in
their broad outlines, by za¯wiyahs built in North Africa dur-
ing the nineteenth century.
Revised Bibliography
Although one would expect to find accounts detailing
kha¯naga¯h architectural design and physical layout, few exist
from the medieval period. One of the most graphic relates
to the foremost saint of pre-Mughal North Indian Sufism,
Shaykh Niz:a¯m al-D¯ın Awliya¯D of Delhi (d. 1325). His
kha¯naga¯h was a huge building, consisting of a main hall
KHA¯NAGA¯H is a Persian word for the lodge or hospice
(jama¯ Eat kha¯nah), courtyard, veranda, gate room, and kitch-
where S:u¯f¯ı masters (masha¯Dikh) reside, teaching disciples
en. It accommodated several senior disciples in lower rooms,
(who sometimes are also residents), conversing with visitors,
but its crowning structure was also the least imposing: an iso-
welcoming travelers, and feeding the poor. The word is func-
lated, small room on the roof where the shaykh passed his
tionally interchangeable with equivalent technical terms of
late evening and early afternoon hours in prayer, meditation,
S:u¯f¯ı vocabulary, such as riba¯t:, tekke, tak¯ıyah, za¯wiyah,
and (rarely) sleep. The plan seems to have been repeated,
da¯ Dirah, and darga¯h, though each has a distinct, region-
with adaptations to local taste, in many regions of Central
specific connotation.
and South Asia.
Mystics must live in the world. Literature by or about
The appeal of the kha¯naga¯hs as the most visible expres-
mystics frequently emphasizes the importance of escaping
sion of institutional Sufism was multiple. To the outer circle
not only involvement in the world but, by extension, con-
of disciples, including Muslims and non-Muslims of mixed
cern with all material needs and desires. Kha¯naga¯h, together
social background who came to visit at irregular intervals, it
with its lexical equivalents, inverts that emphasis, riveting at-
housed at once a saintly presence deemed to be magical and
tention to the physical spaces that S:u¯f¯ıs inhabit, interacting
a public kitchen dispensing free food. Closer to the shaykh
with others and relying on instruments from the very world
were disciples who pursued mystical studies and began medi-
that they seek to escape.
tative exercises at his behest; they would frequent the
Usage of the word kha¯naga¯h dates back to the tenth cen-
kha¯naga¯h on a regular basis and occasionally take up resi-
tury, although its actual origin remains obscure. The modern
dence there. The most intimate circle of disciples were the
attempt to relate it to kha¯n, the widely used term for com-
permanent residents designated as successors (khal¯ıfahs) to
mercial way stations, has been dismissed by those who argue
the shaykh: Not only did he entrust them with his deepest
that the S:u¯f¯ı concept of a hospice bears no relation to the
insights, but he also allowed them to initiate others into the
mercantile institution of kha¯n. But the distinction seems spe-
tradition of his order (t:ar¯ıqah; pl., turuq).
cious because both kha¯n and kha¯naga¯h were clearly places for
Despite the continuous and widespread association of
Muslim wayfarers, whether they sought rest on a trade route
the kha¯naga¯h with S:u¯f¯ı orders and their masters, the non-
or guidance on a spiritual path.
mystical dimension of kha¯naga¯hs was never fully excised.
The kha¯naga¯h itself is embedded in a pre-Muslim,
Throughout the medieval and early modern periods, there
pre-S:u¯f¯ı history from which it was never fully disentangled.
is ample evidence of non-S:u¯f¯ı hospices and also nonmystical
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Muslims in charge of S:u¯f¯ı hospices. The reason is evident:
“The world is in truth like a hospice where God is the shaykh
The source of support for every kha¯naga¯h was lay; it derived
and the Prophet, upon whom be peace, is the steward or ser-
from the income, earned or not, of those who dwelled out-
vant” (Hamid Algar, trans., The Path of God’s Bondsmen from
side its walls. Even in those not-so-rare instances of rural hos-
Origin to Return, New York, 1982, p. 485).
pices where inmates engaged in agricultural pursuits, their
continued existence depended on contributions from the
SEE ALSO Madrasah.
wider lay circle of the shaykh’s followers and admirers. Not
all sources of income were acceptable to all S:u¯f¯ıs, however.
There is no single book to consult on the kha¯naga¯h or its equiva-
For the Chisht¯ı and Naqshband¯ı masters, it was normative
lent terms. For an appreciation of its origin and medieval de-
(despite major exceptions) that they reject all governmental
velopment, the best starting points are the two articles by Jac-
assistance, while for the Suhrawardi and Qa¯dir¯ı communi-
queline Chabbi, “Kha¯nk:ah,” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam,
ties, any benefactor from the wealthy mercantile and ruling
new ed. (Leiden, 1960–), and “La fonction du riba¯t: à Bagdad
classes was usually welcome to make occasional offerings or
du cinquième siècle au début du septième siècle,” Revue des
even to set up permanent charitable endowments (awqa¯f; sg.,
études islamiques 42 (1974): 101–121. On the contribution
waqf) supporting the kha¯naga¯h and its operations. Those
of Abu¯ SaE¯ıd, there is the incomparable study by Fritz Meier,
saints who attempted to refuse governmental offers of assis-
Abu¯ Sa E¯ıd-i Abu¯ L-Hayr (Leiden, 1976), especially pages
tance were often overruled and compelled to yield: Such was
296–336. The South Asian evidence is set forth in a number
of articles and monographs, the best being K. A. Niz:a¯mi’s
the power of the medieval state that few S:u¯f¯ı masters or their
“Some Aspects of Kha¯nqah Life in Medieval India,” Studia
successors could resist a headstrong ruler who wished to use
Islamica 8 (1957): 51–69; Fritz Lehmann’s “Muslim
the spiritual power of a kha¯naga¯h and its saintly denizens to
Monasteries in Mughal India,” unpublished paper delivered
undergird his own legitimacy.
to the Canadian Historical Association, Kingston, June 8,
1973; and Richard Maxwell Eaton’s Sufis of Bijapur, 1300–
That the kha¯naga¯h continued for centuries to be the
1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (Princeton, N.J.,
mainstay of institutional Sufism has never been questioned,
1978), especially pages 165–242.
but its vitality has. Some chart a decline in the major orders
To understand the Sanu¯s¯ıyah in their North African setting, one
from the time that the kha¯naga¯h ceased to house a fraternal
can do no better than consult the comprehensive analysis of
group of like-minded S:u¯f¯ıs and became instead a tomb com-
Bradford G. Martin, Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth Cen-
plex. This institution may have retained the name of
tury Africa (Cambridge, U.K., 1976), chap. 4. Also indicative
kha¯naga¯h, but in fact it perpetuated the memory of a dead
of the persistent role of the za¯wiyahs in another vital context
shaykh through greedy relatives who ignored his legacy yet
are two monographs on Egyptian Sufism: F. de Jong’s Turuq
lived off his spiritual capital by accepting all forms of public
and Turuq-Linked Institutions in Nineteenth Century Egypt
and private subsidy. Indeed, as early as the fourteenth centu-
(Leiden, 1978) and Michael Gilsenan’s Saint and Sufi in
ry, the kha¯naga¯h was commonly linked to a tomb, as well
Modern Egypt (Oxford, 1973). J. Spencer Trimingham’s The
as to an adjacent mosque and madrasah. Most Muslims,
Sufi Orders in Islam (New York, 1971), despite its seeming
however, accepted this extension of the public profile of S:u¯f¯ı
comprehensiveness, is unfortunately limited by pseudo-
agencies, because they acknowledged the masha¯ Dikh as exem-
typological explanations and an Arab puritan bias.
plars of the prophetic standard (sunnah) and boons for their
own local communities.
Nonetheless, and no matter how one evaluates the
kha¯naga¯h and institutional Sufism, the theory of diachronic
decline and charismatic sclerosis is weakened, if not refuted,
with Hungarian, the Mansi (Vogul) and Khanty (Ostiak)
by the emergence of North African reformist orders, especial-
languages form the Ugric branch of the Finno-Ugric (and,
ly the Sanu¯s¯ıyah, during the nineteenth century. Even that
ultimately, the Uralic) language family. During the first mil-
most extreme of puritanical groups, the Wahha¯b¯ıyah, tacitly
lennium BCE, the proto-Ob-Ugrians withdrew along the Ob
acknowledged the benefits that accrued to all Muslims from
River northward from the forested steppe region of south-
the extension of Sanu¯s¯ı influence. The instrument for that
west Siberia, simultaneously assimilating the autochthonous
extension was a network of hospices (za¯wiyahs), deliberately
population and losing their own Iron Age culture and
located in areas that would maximize support for the Sanu¯s¯ı
equiculture. The Ob-Ugrians (Khanty and Mansi) thus be-
armed resistance to Italian colonial administration.
came secondarily primitivized, emerging as a fishing, hunt-
ing, and reindeer-breeding sub-Arctic people. Between the
Nor was the Sanu¯s¯ı movement the death rattle of insti-
twelfth and sixteenth centuries the Ob-Ugrians split into
tutional Sufism or the last dramatic staging of fraternal
quasi-tribal or clan-based “chiefdoms,” a system that disinte-
lodges. Their continued influence in modern Egypt and Al-
grated as a consequence of sixteenth-century Russian coloni-
geria has been well chronicled, and for many Muslims the
zation. The Eastern Orthodox church began conversion of
physical abode of saints, by whatever name it is denoted,
the Ob-Ugrians in the eighteenth century, but the character
continues to embody the cosmic quality attributed to it by
of this conversion was formal and thus did not essentially in-
the thirteenth-century Kubraw¯ı saint Najm al-D¯ın al-Ra¯z¯ı:
fluence the original religion.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The Mansi number 7,700, the Khanty, 21,000; of
(1) The true individual cult beings. These have their own
these, respectively 49 and 68 percent speak their ancestral
prescriptions and prohibitions and their own regular
language. The ethnographic macrogroups correspond to dia-
festivals and sacrifices; in folklore they have their own
lect groupings. Yet, while the culture and language of the var-
summoning songs and prayers. The terms pupigh
ious macrogroups is divergent enough to justify their classifi-
(Man.) and iungx (Kh.) refer to their most general class
cation as distinct peoples, the Mansi and Khanty within the
(which may be represented in idol form as well).
same microgroup differ from one another only in language
(2) The higher-level belief beings. Relations with these be-
and in their consciousness of identity. The ethnographic sub-
ings are well regulated, and their benevolence may be
groups (i.e., dialects) subdivide according to fluvial regions.
won with the practice of hospitality or, in unusual cases,
The religion of the Mansi and Khanty is identical: Within
by means of more serious sacrifice. A lower level of belief
one and the same macrogroup the same supernatural beings
being is also acknowledged. It is connected only with
are revered regardless of which people’s territory they are af-
prohibitive and preventative practices. The lesser forms
filiated with. Mansi and Khanty folklore, too, is uniform on
of word magic (incantation, short prayer) are addressed
a nearly word for word basis. A few general nature deities are
to the belief beings, who are portrayed in plays at the
known to all groups; key figures of mythology are associated
bear festival. Certain belief beings have no cult whatso-
with the northwest region, although these same figures may
ever. Folklore beings play no role in either belief or cult.
appear in the religion of the other groups under different
names. The Northern macrogroup, for instance, is familiar
both with a high-ranking spirit from the Eastern Mansi and
originally vertical and tripartite: upper (sky), middle (earth),
with another high-ranking spirit from the Western Mansi.
and lower (underworld). A conception of these worlds as
On the other hand, Eastern Khanty spirits are completely
seven-layered is known, but not concretely elaborated. In the
unknown to them. From the perspective of both system and
lower sphere of the sky dwell the Wind Old Men, named
cult, the religion of the Vasjugan Khanty is the most com-
after the cardinal points. In the various upper layers of the
plex. Ob-Ugric culture as a whole is of a marginal West Sibe-
sky revolves Sun Woman, with her team of horses, or Moon
rian type, distinct in quite a few traits. Its study is complicat-
Old Man with his arctoid dog sled. Later, this worldview be-
ed by the factor of secondary primitivization.
came contaminated with a horizontal system: Upper-Ob
(southern), Middle-Ob, and Lower-Ob (northern). Accord-
The following is a description of the best documented
ingly, the productive region is located in the South, which
macrogroup, the Northern. Characteristic of this society are
sends migratory birds and which is the home of the world
a dual moiety system (mo´s and por: the former relatively posi-
tree and the fountain-of-youth lake. Conversely, at the
tive, the latter relatively negative in connotation) and the
mouth of the Ob, on the Arctic Ocean, lies the dark land
loose agglomeration of patriarchal consanguineous groups
of the dead. At present, syncretistic twofold conceptualiza-
that trace their origins to spirit ancestors conceptualized as
tions predominate.
simultaneously anthropo- and zoomorphic. This descrip-
tion, however, must unavoidably portray a more archaic
The earth, brought up as a chunk by two bird represen-
form of social organization than is actually the case today.
tatives of the netherworld (a little and a big loon), is spread
When technical terms are referred to, they derive from either
out over the primeval sea; it is disk-shaped: A fish or a fantas-
the Sosva Mansi (Man.) or the Kazim Khanty (Kh.).
tic animal holds it up. In the present-day version, the son of
the mythic ancestral pair (identified either with the Pelim
Anthropomorphy is dominant in Ob-Ugrian religion
god or with World-Overseeing Man, both warlord guardian
today, but a latent zoomorphic character can be demonstrat-
spirits) plays a salient part. With the collaboration of the
ed for many categories of supernatural beings. The cult of
chief god’s counterpart, the folklore figure Kul, he created
spirits that arise from the shadow souls of the dead is a pro-
humankind; he then decimated his progeny with a fiery
ductive element in many forms, supporting (1) the ancestor
flood and scattered them over the world. Before the present-
cult in general; (2) the cult of hegemonic personalities, of
day Mansi and Khanty, the myth alleges, there were many
which the earlier (chiefdom period) variant is a hero cult, and
other periods: In folklore the most richly depicted are the pe-
the later variant is the cult of shamans and other worthies;
riod of the moiety ancestors and the heroic time of the origin
and (3) the cult of those who have died extraordinary deaths.
of the warlord guardian spirits.
It is a peculiarity of the northern groups that they have incor-
porated both the major mythological personalities and vari-
General mythological personalities. In the vertical
ous individuals of the unindividuated classes into a system
system, the upper sphere is embodied by the positive-
of guardian spirits tied to concrete places and societal units.
functioning chief god, Upper Sky Father (Man., Num
This category, which may be termed “warlord guardian spir-
Torem A´s; Kh., Nu˘m Turem A´si). Symbolized by the vault
its,” became primary in both the religious system and cultic
of heaven, he has the form of an old man and is active in cli-
matic changes connected with the change of seasons, passive
in regard to humans. He may be approached only through
Roughly speaking, the following categories may be dis-
the intervention of high-ranking spirits, having scarcely any
tinguished according to the degree of the cult:
cult. His wife is (Lower) Earth Mother (Man., [Joli-]Ma¯
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Angkw). His counterpart is the lord of the netherworld. Ad-
a mouse he goes under the earth and regains the shadow
mixture with the horizontal worldview and the localization
souls of sick people from underworld spirits who have
of cults to particular places produced syncretistic personality
stolen them. He is a totem ancestor of the por moiety.
trinities. Above Sky Father there appeared two ancestors
(4) Sickness Lord (Man., Xu´l O
¯ ter; Kh., X˘ın´ Wurt; big
(Man., Ko´sar To¯rem and Kores To¯rem, both folklore fig-
loon, village of Sumutnyol) and Lower-Earth Old Man
ures), or there appeared alongside him two other personifica-
(Kh., ˘Ił Mu˘w ˘Iki; little loon; Sumutnyol) are two incar-
tions (the Khanty folklore figures Nu˘m S˘ıwes and Nu˘m
nations of the lord of the netherworld. The former steals
Ku˘res). His wife was reinterpreted as belonging to the same
souls; the latter either rules over them or eats them. In
category, with the name Sky Mother (folklore figure). Else-
their empire they have a family and teeming army of ser-
where she was identified with the warlord guardian spirit
vants consisting of illness spirits. They are also the
goddess Kalte´s. This same female fertility principle is repeat-
source of unpleasant insects and vermin. Some versions
ed in the trinity South Woman, Kalte´s, Gold Woman. Con-
interpret the lord of the netherworld as the son of the
crete incarnations of the lord of the netherworld include the
sky god; in any case, he functions as the subordinate of
warlord guardian spirits Sickness Lord and Lower-Earth Old
the sky god in the vertical system and the subordinate
Man, and “Devil,” the fictive master of the harmful spirits
of Kalte´s in the horizontal system. Under the name
called kuł.
Downriver Man he also constitutes a complement to
Warlord guardian spirits. These are nature deities tied
World-Overseeing Man.
to societal units of a higher level (moieties, perhaps at one
Models of the middle world. Beliefs concerning the
time tribes). Their antiquity is evidenced by the fact that
middle world reveal a general but not extensive symboliza-
their attributa often preserve features of the equiculture of
tion of natural elements. The most significant is Fire Moth-
the steppe rim. Their most representative group is now in-
er, but Earth Mother and Water Mother enjoy lesser cults.
digenous to the Middle-Ob territory of the Mansi and Khan-
The land-water opposition. Such an opposition is clearly
ty, the once-famous region of the Koda principality. The
represented by the forest and aquatic variants of the positive-
members of this group, listed here with corresponding zoo-
functioning łungx-type spirits; these oversee the natural re-
morphy, associated moiety, and cult center, are as follows:
sources of a particular territory. In eastern and southern areas
(1) Kalte´s, popularly, Mother (Man., S´a¯n; Kh., A˘ngki; fe-
they are important cult beings; in the north, they have been
male wild goose, swan, hare; mo´s moiety; village of Kal-
overshadowed by local warlord guardian spirits and the cult
tisjan). Originally a sky goddess, Kalte´s is the only
of the mis people. Closely connected with their cult is that
equestrian female warlord guardian spirit. It is she who
of the more individualized łungx-type spirits associated with
decides the number, sex, and longevity of children; she
particular natural objects (high places, boulders, trees, whirl-
also aids in childbirth. Her persona is interpreted vari-
pools). Their negative counterparts are the forest and aquatic
ously as wife, sister, or daughter of the sky god. Among
kuł, beings that represent the netherworld.
her properties there is a negative one: infidelity or stub-
The forest sphere. In the animal world-model there is no
notion of lord over the individual animal types. In addition
(2) World-Overseeing Man (Man., Mir Susne Xum; Kh.,
to the totemistic animal cult, the greatest veneration sur-
M˘ır Sˇawijti Xu; wild goose, crane; mo´s moiety; village
rounds the larger aquatic birds (symbols of fertility), the elk
of Belogorje). His other names include Golden Lord,
(because of its celestial references), and the bear. Around the
Horseman, and Upriver Man. He is the youngest son
bear, merged with the totem ancestor of the por moiety, de-
of the sky god, the central figure of Ob-Ugric religion,
veloped a highly characteristic feature of Ob-Ugrian culture:
and functions as a mythic hero in the creation of the
a bear cult that is one of the most elaborate in the world.
world order. Married to the daughters of persons sym-
The bear cult. The fusion of conceptualizations from
bolizing nature, he excels in providing humans with
various periods has conferred upon the bear the character of
their needs. His sphere of activity ranges through all
universal mediator. His origins tie him to the upper world;
three worlds. His is the highest position of honor among
his dwelling place and connections with human society tie
his brothers: the overseeing of the world and of humans.
him to the middle world; his mouse-shaped soul ties him to
He accomplishes this by circling the world on his
the netherworld. Child of the sky god, he acquired knowl-
winged horse. In early formulations he is a solar god;
edge of the middle world despite paternal prohibition and
later formulations preserve traces of the shamanistic me-
conceived a desire to descend there. His father permitted the
diator: He is the chief communicator with Sky God.
descent but prescribed the most harmless manner of acquir-
(3) Holy City Old Man (Man., Jalp-u¯s O
¯ jka; Kh., Jem Woˇs
ing food. (At the same time he makes the bear the judge of
Iki), also known as Clawed Old Man (Man., Konsing
societal norms, the guardian of the bear oath.) But the bear
¯ jka; Kh., Ku˘nˇseng ˘Iki; bear, mouse; por moiety; vil-
violates the prohibitions, thus becoming fair game for
lage of Vezˇakar). In the region of his cult center he is
held to be a son of the sky god. Functionally, he is the
The slain bear is a divine guest who, after the ritual con-
counterpart of World-Overseeing Man: In the shape of
sumption of his flesh, transfers into the heavens the sacrifices
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

dedicated to him and the cultic folklore performed for his
grate (e.g., northern groups place it in the mouth of the Ob,
benefit, thereby ensuring his own rebirth and that of the nat-
southern groups in the mouth of the Irtysh). Water King has
ural order. A separate taboo language exists in connection
a family and is the superior of water sprites and other beings.
with the bear and the bear hunt, and the activities therein
The chief function of Water King is the direction of the mi-
are highly ritualistic.
gration of fish; warlord guardian spirits that dwell at the out-
lets of tributaries supply a redistribution network.
What follows is a description of the bear festival in its
most characteristic (northern) variant. After purifying cere-
The forest-settlement opposition. The sylvan pantheon
monies, the bear (i.e., the bear hide, placed on a stand) is re-
is much richer than its aquatic counterpart. This is explained,
galed for three to seven nights (depending on the bear’s age
in part, by the fact that the forest participates in the opposi-
and sex) with performances of a hospitable, educational, and
tion of forest and settlement. The proper place of łungx-type
amusing nature. Only men may participate as performers.
spirits is indicated by the location of their sacred place; cer-
The diurnal repertoire begins with a didactic section in
tain lower-ranked beings (e.g., the Eastern Khanty ghostlike
which the offense of murder (of the bear) is brushed aside
potˇcak) are subdivided into explicitly forest or village vari-
and epic songs are sung about the origin of the bear, the first
ants. Other figures may lack pertinent counterparts but may
bagging of a bear by a mythical personage, the bear’s func-
nevertheless be construed in terms of this opposition. Exam-
tion as judge, and the death of the particular bear present at
ples include the birchbark-rucksack woman, identified with
the ceremony. Thereafter follows a section punctuated by
the (folkloristic) figure of the anthropophagous por woman,
danced interludes, intended as entertainment for the bear,
the elf called Village-Square Being, Trash-Heap Woman,
although its function for humans is didactic. Players in birch-
Bathhouse Woman, Sinew-String-Making Woman, and
bark masks perform brief plays with song and pantomime.
The plays are only a few minutes in duration, but they may
number in the hundreds. These reflect the key motifs of na-
THE HUMAN SPHERE. The warlord guardian spirit that is
ture and society and supranormal and everyday categories
tied to a concrete place is not only the sole form representing
and their interdependence. Their aesthetic quality ranges
the community but also the central category of all of cultic
from the comic to the sublime. Separate genres are represent-
life. The primary functions of the warlord guardian spirit are
ed by songs and games that depict the proliferation, way of
to ward off harmful (especially disease-causing) spirits, to
life, and capture of various animal species, and by songs and
provide succor in situations of peril, and to ensure good for-
games performed by a mythical being or clown figure who
tune in hunting and fishing. The warlord guardian spirit ap-
draws the spectators into the action.
pears in two forms: as a human, generally in the form of a
luxuriantly ornamented woman or a warrior in sword and
In the most sacred section of the festival the warlord
armor, or as an animal, in the form of a specific species of
guardian spirits are summoned. Portrayed by costumed per-
wild beast, which is then taboo for the pertinent social unit.
formers, they perform a dance that ensures the well-being of
These may be portrayed by wooden images in the form of
the community. When the bear meat is consumed, it is con-
a human (or, more rarely, an animal), sometimes with the
sumed under the illusion that birds are feasting. After this,
addition of metal disks, or made entirely of metal. The ap-
the bear is instructed on the manner of returning to the heav-
purtenances of the image are a sacred spot outside the settle-
ens. Meanwhile, the bear’s skull and the festival parapherna-
ment and the items stored there: the idol and/or its attributa,
lia are taken to a special place where cult objects are stored.
a small chamber built on stilts for preserving offerings, a sac-
The mirroring of social structure in the forest sphere. Two
rificial table, poles or trees called tir, and a sacred tree. The
types of anthropomorphic forest beings pursue daily activi-
warlord guardian spirit addresses his kindred group as his
ties similar to those of the human community and may even
“little ones” or “children”; as a projection of the actual rela-
intermarry with humans. The mis people are outstanding
tions within the group, he enjoys spirit kinship both ascen-
hunters; their benevolence provides humans with a good
dant and descendant, agnate and cognate. Characteristic fea-
hunt. The mis take as their mates those people who disappear
tures of the cult are a special idol guardian or shaman and
in the forest without a trace. The mengk people are supposed
prescriptions concerning both cyclical communal ceremo-
to be simple-minded malevolent giants. Northern Mansi as-
nies and sacrificial animals and objects.
sociate the mis people with the mo´s moiety and the mengk
Although tied to a concrete place, a warlord guardian
people with the por moiety. The origins of certain warlord
spirit may appear anywhere and at anyone’s summons. Its
guardian spirits is derived—with the mediation of the cult
connection with the individual is manifested by the fact that
of the dead—from these beings.
it selects a protegé. Every human has a warlord guardian spir-
The aquatic sphere. While the dominant being of the for-
it “master of his head.” Higher-ranked spirits can select any-
est is the bear, the lord of the waters, Water King (Man., Wit
one as protegé; lower-ranked spirits are restricted to members
Xo¯n; Kh., J˘ıngk Xon, J˘ıngk Wurt) is similar to a high-
of their own community. Ob-Ugrians oriented themselves
ranking warlord guardian spirit. Water King is not tied to
with one another in terms of the relations obtaining among
a societal unit, but each group thinks it knows of his dwelling
their warlord guardian spirits; they identified the spirits ac-
place, which in each case is the stream from which fish mi-
cording to the village held to be the center of a given cult.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Hierarchy of warlord guardian spirits. The commu-
southern equiculture. Similarly anthropomorphic are the an-
nity associated with a spirit can be of various levels in the so-
cestor cult and hero cult, which are the source of the domi-
cial hierarchy—upper (moiety, base clan), middle (roughly,
nant mark of warlord guardian spirits. To the cult of warlord
units corresponding to a clan and its branches), or lower
guardian spirits was juxtaposed the cult of those persons
(smaller, local groups). The rank of a spirit is determined by
whose decease is in some way extraordinary. A further com-
this hierarchy and by the “power” and functions attributed
ponent is the cult of proprietary spirits of natural places and
to it, which are generally in direct proportion to the antiquity
of the spirit and the complexity of its typological profile.
Family guardian spirits. Termed “house spirits”
Roughly speaking, the Ob-Ugrians distinguish three hierar-
(Man., kol puping; Kh., xot łungx), these anthropomorphic
chical categories of spirits. Spirits belonging to the high (and
spirits are difficult to differentiate from the lower-ranked
upper middle) rank are qualified as “powerful” (Man.,
warlord guardian spirits. They are variously conceived as de-
n´angra; Kh., tarem). Among these, the children of the sky
scendants of a warlord guardian spirit or its spirit assistant,
god are set apart as a separate group. To this rank belong,
as the spirit of a deceased relative, or as the proprietary spirit
besides mythological personae in general, Old Man of the
of an object that is interesting in some way (e.g., an archaeo-
Middle Sosva, the Lozva Water Spirit, the Tegi Village Old
logical find made of metal). Its votaries approach them
Man, and the Kazim Lady. The middle category, which is
through dream or the instructions of a person with cult func-
the chief locus of the hero cult, is subdivided in terms of the
tions. Such spirits serve to protect and to ensure success in
opposition between indigenous and immigrant groups. The
hunting and fishing. Successful execution of this latter office
spirits of immigrant groups are called “land-acquiring” spir-
may occasion a widening of its circle of devotees; in case of
its. Among the lower-ranked spirits, those of local character
failure, on the other hand, its idol representations suffer mis-
are sometimes distinguished by the terms “master of the vil-
treatment or even complete destruction as punishment. The
lage” or “master of the region.” The superior of the spirits
idol, its attributa, and ceremonies associated with the family
is the chief deity.
guardian spirit are miniature duplicates of those of the war-
The warlord guardian spirits, like the social groupings
lord guardian spirits; its folklore, however, is on the wane.
associated with their cults, do not form a clearly structured
Individual protective spirits have similar typological profiles.
system. The interpretation of their rank and kinship varies
Mediator spirits. Documentation for the individual
from one fluvial region to another. Genealogical, local, or
shaman spirit assistant—known as a “living spirit” (Man., lil-
functional subsystems, however, can develop in particular re-
ing puping; Kh., łileng łungx) or, when functioning purely as
gions. The basis of the genealogical order resides in the fact
an acquirer of information, a “talking spirit” (Man., potertan
that migrating groups either bring a copy of their original
puping)—is extremely poor. Typologically, such a being is
spirit with them or declare the indigenous spirit of their new
similar to family and individual spirits and probably serves
home to be their original spirit’s offspring. The range of the
merely as a messenger in the interactions of shaman and war-
cults of higher-ranked spirits roughly corresponds to dialect
lord guardian spirits.
areas. Their descendants may appear with names differing
from those of their parents, and may even appear in animal
Conceptions of the soul. Conceptions of the soul are
form. The children of middle-ranked spirits are often—at
syncretistic and not always clear even to the Ob-Ugrians.
least with regard to name and form—exact copies of one an-
Originally, they were twofold: breath spirits (Man., lili; Kh.,
other. For example, spirits named Winged Old Man or Old
łił) and shadow spirits (Man., Kh., is).
Man with the Knife, in eagle and firefly form, respectively,
The breath spirit—roughly, a symbol of the individual
crop up in villages at far remove from one another. In local
personality—has the form of a small bird; its seat is the hair
subsystems, the high-ranked spirits are the superiors of all
or crown of the head. Characters in heroic epics could send
other spirits in their cult sphere.
birds that lived on the crown of their heads or caps to fetch
information; they also practiced scalping, by which they were
The development of these spirits was determined along
able to take possession of any enemy’s soul. The soul called
two lines: diverse nature cults and multiple intertwinings of
is may have been regarded as a posthumous variation of the
cults of the dead. Both lines of development contain zoomor-
breath spirit (in men, it consists of five parts, in women,
phic and anthropomorphic elements that are reflected in the
three; it is reborn in consanguineous progeny).
diploid form of the spirits. The animal symbology of natural
forces is zoomorphic. The oldest layers of this symbology
The shadow souls—symbols of emotional and vegeta-
(e.g., the cult of aquatic birds) date to at least the Finno-
tive functionings—have the form of humans or birds. One
Ugric period. The other zoomorphic component is totemis-
subtype may leave the body during sleep or in case of fear
tic in character; its earlier layer may be Ugric, while its more
or fainting; it may also fall prey to illness spirits. After death
recent layer is arctoid and may bear the influence of the reli-
it remains for a certain time in the vicinity of the house, then
gion of assimilated autochthonous Siberian populations. The
departs, northward, for the land of the dead. The other sub-
oldest demonstrable layer of the anthropomorphic compo-
type has a more material character; its properties are roughly
nent is a group of nature deities that preserves traces of
those of shadows. After death it lives a quasimundane life in
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the cemetery until the body fades away. The free soul is a
mediate by means of iron objects (ax, knife) and light trance:
type of sleep soul living in the form of a grouse; its destruc-
The noun “magic” (Man., p¯enigh; Kh., ´sa˘rt) and its verbal
tion results in sleeplessness, then death. Under unfavorable
derivate “perform magic” (Man., p¯enghungkwe; Kh., ´sa˘rtti)
circumstances shadow souls turn into ghosts.
can refer, in both languages, to the activity of either practi-
Conceptions of the hereafter. The hereafter is a mir-
tioner. The Mansi consider the “magic(-performing) person”
rorlike inversion of the real world, lacking, however, the ce-
who operates without the use of a drum (Man., p¯enghen xum)
lestial bodies. The soul lives the same life, in the same form,
to belong to a lower degree of the shaman category; they do,
as its owner did on earth, but backwards. Once returned to
however, distinguish terminologically between this degree
the time of birth it reappears in the real world as an insect
and the full-fledged drum shaman.
or spider. Differentiation is minimal, but separation and
Destructive magic, which moves the spirits to negative
punishment of the souls of suicides is known. Atonement for
ends, is used by the “spell-casting one” (Man., sepan; Kh.,
moral offenses seems to be the result of nonindigenous in-
sepan[eng] xu; the latter term is also used to refer to the sha-
man) and by the Mansi “destructive person” (surkeng xum)
The soul of a dead person can have three material repre-
or “spell-knowing person” (mutrang xum). These persons are
sentations. It was obligatory to make for the reincarnating
capable of spoiling luck in hunting; they can also cause sick-
soul a doll of wood, cloth, or hair (Man., iterma; Kh., ˇsungo˘t;
ness and death. While terminologically distinct, they stand
literally, “suffering one”; upet akan´, “hair baby”). Long ago,
in an unclear relation to the shaman.
this figure was so identified with the deceased that widows
Shaman. Shamanism among the Ob-Ugrians is appar-
fed it regularly and slept with it. Among certain groups, the
ently a rather developed variant of a Paleo-Asiatic type that
doll was passed from generation to generation; among others
lacked the shamanistic journey. Exceptionally, and owing to
it was eventually placed in the grave or burned. A special
foreign influence, there exists among the Eastern Khanty a
wooden figure was carved for the souls of outstanding indi-
more elaborated system of journeying and assistant spirits.
viduals. Through time, the worship of such a figure made
No special folklore is associated with the shaman. Similarly,
it possible for these souls to achieve the status of family
the figure of the female shaman who prophesizes by means
guardian spirits. Finally, for those whose remains were inac-
of a gyratory dance appears conspicuously late, in a more re-
cessible, in some regions a figure was made and kept in a sep-
cent type of heroic song. There is no specific evidence of the
arate storing place after a symbolic burial ceremony.
influence of neighboring peoples on Ob-Ugrian shamanism;
Mediators. The Ob-Ugrians belong to the marginal
although in peripheral regions certain features have been
zone of Siberian shamanism. The figure of the shaman is rel-
adopted from every possible donor, none of the various influ-
atively unimportant, the shaman’s significance being some-
ences can be called dominant.
what overshadowed by mediators who function without
The shaman can provide any cultic service. His chief
deep ecstatic trance. Overall, the study of Ob-Ugrian sha-
task is the defense of one’s shadow soul against disease spirits.
manism is hampered by extraordinarily imprecise documen-
The shaman also fills an extremely important role as acquirer
and interpreter of information (given that at least a dozen
If as a hypothesis one limits true shamanism to the prac-
different supernatural causes may give rise to unfavorable
tice of drum-accompanied deep ecstatic trance, one is left
events). His functions also include prophesy, the finding of
with two types of people who fall outside this strict delimita-
lost objects, inquiry after the souls of the dead, and the steer-
tion. The first group, the “one-sided interaction type,” in-
ing of a sacrificial animal’s soul to the spirits. The number
cludes those who transmit from the human sphere to the
of functional elements that may be demanded of the shaman
spirits, but who cannot perceive the spirits’ reactions. To this
varies from region to region. The shaman’s participation in
class belong the idol guardian in the role of master of cere-
rites of passage, the bear festival, and lesser sacrificial ceremo-
mony, the “praying man,” and epic singers, whose activity
nies is not typical. There is no evidence of the shaman pos-
is not of a healing nature. The second group, the “two-sided
sessing the role of conductor of souls. The shaman acquires
interaction type,” consists of those capable of obtaining in-
the greatest significance in situations of peril that affect the
formation from the spirits, and who—to a certain degree—
can set them into motion. They can perform these feats in
There are no explicit categories of shamans among the
sleep, however, or in a light trance. The only categories
Ob-Ugrians. The shaman’s strength depends on the nature
known among the Eastern Khanty are those who mediate
and number of his spirit assistants, or on the warlord guard-
through singing accompanied by string instruments, dreams,
ian spirits, which are susceptible to influence. Stronger and
or the summoning of the spirits of forest animals. To the
weaker shamans are distinguished, but without special termi-
north, a possible equivalent is the Mansi potertan pupgheng
nology. There are no reliable data for a distinction between
xum (“talking spirit-man”), who summons his prophetic
“black” and “white” shamans. In fact, the activity of the sha-
spirits by means of a stringed instrument.
man is ambiguous, because he may, to redeem the sick per-
Terminologically, the Ob-Ugrians make little distinc-
son’s soul, offer up the soul of another; at times of rivalry
tion between the activity of shamans and that of persons who
he endangers the life of himself and his family.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The shaman, like all other mediative persons, is in prin-
In the cult of warlord guardian spirits there were pre-
ciple at everyone’s disposal. His activity, whether unrecipro-
sumably differences of ceremony according to moiety (espe-
cated or remunerated with minor gifts and/or hospitality, is
cially with regard to the bear cult) and according to consan-
insufficient for independent subsistance. The shaman can in-
guineous group. Accordingly, at joint ceremonies the
crease his income only as the preserver of high-ranked war-
proprietors of the cult being played active roles, while new-
lord guardian spirits. Both men and women can be shamans,
comers or guests played relatively passive roles.
but in general the former have higher status.
Periodic communal holidays were important in the
There are no reliable data for special shamanic attire or
maintenance of social relations. The most inclusive and in-
accoutrements; the cap and the headband, however, are doc-
volved such holiday was the festival organized by the por
umented as headgear. The primary type of drum is oval, with
moiety in the village of Vezˇakar. Held every seven years, it
a frame both decorative and resonating; its Y-shaped handle
lasted three months and followed the pattern of the bear fes-
is sometimes embellished with representations of a spirit’s
tival. Several hundred participants were attracted to this
face. The skin is unadorned; the position of the pendants
event from northern regions. Periodic visits to warlord
(made of metal) varies. The drum may be replaced by a
guardian spirits were sometimes prescribed, during the
stringed instrument. Fly agaric is the usual narcotic.
course of which the devotees made joint sacrifices. Regularly
intermarrying groups invited one another to the larger festi-
Selection and recruitment of apprentice shamans is pas-
vals, which could be linked with cultic competitions, pro-
sive; it is generally attributed to the will of the chief deity,
phetic practice, the singing of epics (for the entertainment
or World-Overseeing Man. Sensitivity, deviant behavior,
of the spirits), plays, and amusements. Generally prescribed
and musical proclivities are required; somatic marks, illness,
pilgrimages to high-ranking warlord guardian spirits brought
and inheritance are also documented but not universal. The
about more extensive relations, as did various alms-collecting
candidate rehearses his repertoire as an assistant without ben-
tours undertaken in the interest of maintaining the cults of
efit of initiation, only gradually assuming his role.
such spirits.
The shamanic séance takes place in a darkened house,
Sacrificial ceremonies. There are two kinds of sacri-
where the shaman communicates—with drum-accompanied
fices. (1) In bloodless sacrifice (Man., pu¯ri; Kh., por) the spir-
song, then with gyratory dance—with the warlord guardian
its absorb the vapors (or “strength”) of the food and alcoholic
spirits appropriate to the occasion. Metal objects (such as ar-
beverages that have been set out for them; later, the humans
rows) set out for the purpose announce by their rattling that
present eat it. (2) In blood sacrifice (Man., Kh., jir) the spirits
the spirits have arrived (through the roof). When contact is
receive a portion of the animal’s soul-bearing body parts (the
established, the shaman is overcome by a warm breeze.
blood, certain organs, the head, the entire skin) and thus take
Thereafter a protracted, dramatized debate takes place on the
possession of the animal’s shadow soul. The most precious
following subjects: (1) determining the cause of the problem;
sacrificial animal is the horse, which was sacrificed to high-
(2) summoning the spirit responsible or contacting it
ranking mythological personalities (especially World-
through an assistant spirit; (3) probing the cause of the prob-
Overseeing Man) throughout the entire region irrespective
lem and the nature of the sacrifice needed for its termination;
of the presence or absence of an equestrian culture. In addi-
and (4) ensuring the benevolence of the spirits. The role of
tion, reindeer (in the north) and horned cattle and roosters
the shaman is limited to setting events in motion; the actions
(in the south) were usual sacrificial animals. Spirits of the
themselves (i.e., journey, recovery of the sick person’s soul)
upper sphere were said to favor light-colored animals; those
are carried out by the spirits, who, should they resist, can tor-
of the nether sphere favor dark-colored animals. In a typical
ment the shaman severely. The shaman ends his state of
northern sacrifice, the animal is either strangled or dealt a
trance and announces the result; he may also take part in the
blow to the head with the back of an ax; simultaneously, the
offering of a sacrificial animal.
spirit is summoned by shouts. The animal is then stabbed
in the heart with a knife and its blood is let. The blood and
entrails are consumed raw on the spot; there are separate pre-
the entire region are the restrictions on religious practice for
scriptions concerning the cooking and distribution of the
women considered impure. If invested with any kind of spe-
flesh. In addition to animals, fur, cloth, and coins may serve
cial significance or cultic character, an object, living creature
as objects of sacrifice. Among metals, silver has the highest
(especially the horse), place, or ceremony carried a list of pro-
hibitions for such women. They were not allowed to visit the
sacred locales of warlord guardian spirits. At the bear festival
Periodic sacrifices may be classified into two types, an-
they could participate only in the interlude dances. Customs
nual and macroperiodic (every three or seven years). Re-
connected with birth and death were in the hands of the old
quired communal sacrifices are tied to the economy of the
women. Women sometimes had a separate sacred place near
seasons; so, for example, in spring (fishing season) and au-
the village and a separate cult rendered to Kalte´s. Among
tumn (hunting season) sacrifices carried out to ensure a good
males, those who had assumed the care of the family idols
catch and bountiful quarry were frequent at the beginning
after their parents’ death were most fully esteemed.
of the season, while thanksgiving sacrifices were generally at
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the end of the season. For animal sacrifices autumn was the
ing off harmful forest beings, and so on. The Christian wor-
most propitious season. During important communal sacri-
ldview brought little change other than a gradual increase in
fices the shaman would take part, and men in a light ecstatic
the significance of the sky god. Qualitative change arose in
trance would perform sword dances in commemoration of
step with Russification, especially for southern groups. At
the ancient heroic deeds of certain warlord guardian spirits.
present, in consequence of the spread of civilization and
atheism, Ob-Ugrian young people are ill-informed about re-
It should also be mentioned that the idol-like represen-
ligious matters, and their attitude toward their religious heri-
tation of spirits among the Ob-Ugrians is not fetishistic in
tage is inconstant.
character and is thus not absolutely obligatory. It is of impor-
tance only as an exterior representation or as a dwelling-place
SEE ALSO Bears; Finno-Ugric Religions; Num-Tu¯rem; Sha-
for the spirit; if necessary, the image can be replaced with a
new representation.
Nonindigenous influences. The most archaic (but far
from the oldest) exterior influence may be found in the cul-
Folklore Collections
tural elements derived from assimilated sub-Arctic popula-
Avdeev, I. I. Pesni naroda mansi. Omsk, 1936.
tions. These elements are evident in magic related to produc-
Chernetsov, V. N. Vogul Dskie skazki. Leningrad, 1935.
tion, in certain elements of totemism, and in the bear cult.
Kálmán, B. Manysi (vogul) népköltési gyüjtemény. Budapest, 1952.
If one accepts the hypothesis that the por moiety is connected
Kannisto, Artturi. Wogulische Volksdichtung. 4 vols. Helsinki,
with this unknown sub-Arctic people, the number of such
elements grows larger. Iranian-speaking and Turkic speaking
Kulemzin, V. M., and N. V. Lukina. Legendy i skazki khantov.
peoples influenced the proto-Ob-Ugrians in several phases
Tomsk, 1973.
from the Finno-Ugric period (fourth millennium BCE)
Munkácsi, B. Vogul népköltési gyüjtemény. 4 vols. Budapest, 1892–
through the Ugric period (until circa 500 BCE). These peo-
ples played an important role in the development of equicul-
Pápay, J. Osztják népköltési gyüjtemény. Budapest and Leipzig,
ture among the Ob-Ugrians. Traces of steppe culture are pre-
served in the dominant role of the horse as a sacrificial animal
Patkanov, S. Die Irtyschostjaken und ihre Volkspoesie. 2d ed. Saint
and divine attributa, in the representation of mythological
Petersburg, 1900.
persons from the upper sphere dressed in open, wide-sleeved
garb, and in the symbology of images found on hitching
Reguly, A., and J. Pápay. Osztják hofsénekek. Budapest, 1944.
posts. Contact with Turkic peoples also brought, most re-
Reguly, A., and J. Pápay. Osztják (changi) ho˝sénekek. Budapest,
cently, elements of Islam (from the Siberian Tatars), as can
be seen in the book of destiny that occurs as an attributum
Steinitz, W. Ostjakische Volksdichtung und Erzählungen, vol. 1.
and in elements of relatively differentiated conceptions of the
Budapest, 1975.
netherworld. A surprisingly large number of religious terms
Steinitz, W. Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft und Ethnologie. 4th ed.
were borrowed from or through the Komi (Zyrians), espe-
Budapest, 1980.
cially in connection with conceptions of the soul and the
Vértes, E. K. F. Karjalainens südostjakische Textsammlungen, vol.
goddess of fertility. Such Komi influence may have been en-
1. Helsinki, 1975.
hanced when the Komi fled into Siberia to escape conversion
Secondary Sources
to Christianity by Stephen of Perm (fourteenth century).
Chernetsov, V. N. “FratrialDnoe ustroistvo obsko-ugorskogo obsh-
chestva.” Sovetskaia etnografiia 2 (1939): 20–42.
The first intention of Eastern Orthodox efforts at con-
version (which began in the eighteenth century) was the an-
Chernetsov, V. N. “K istorii rodovogo stroia u obskikh ugrov.”
nihilation of the most important idols. This external threat
Sovetskaia etnografiia 6–7 (1947): 159–183.
had two consequences: heightened solicitude for cultic ob-
Chernetsov, V. N. “Concepts of the Soul among the Ob-
jects and a disassociation of spirits from their representations.
Ugrians.” In Studies in Siberian Shamanism, edited by Henry
Within a century, a network of church-centered villages had
N. Michael. Toronto, 1963.
developed, displacing, wherever possible, the cult centers of
Gondatti, N. L. Sledy iazychestva u inorodtsev Zapadnoi Sibiri.
ranking warlord guardian spirits. At times, the clergy exploit-
Moscow, 1888.
ed the possibilities of identifying the personalities of the two
Hoppál, Mihály. “Folk Beliefs and Shamanism among the Uralic
religions; formulas of correspondence thus quickly gained
Peoples.” In Ancient Cultures of the Uralic Peoples, edited by
ground; the sky god was equated with God the Father, Kalte´s
Péter Hajdú, pp. 215–242. Budapest, 1976.
with the Virgin Mary, World-Overseeing Man with Jesus,
Karjalainen, K. F. Die Religion der Jugra-Völker. 3 vols. Helsinki,
Pelim with Saint Nicholas. Ob-Ugrians understood the new
religion entirely in terms of their own categories. Thus, a
Kulemzin, V. M. “Shamanstvo vasDDiugansko-vakhovskikh khan-
church was the idol chamber of the Russian god, the icon
tov.” In Iz istorii shamanstva, pp. 3–155. Tomsk, 1976.
was the idol itself (before which even animals were sacri-
Kulemzin, V. M. Chelovek i priroda v verovaniiakh khantov.
ficed), the cross worn about the neck was an amulet for ward-
Tomsk, 1984.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Sokolova, Z. P. Sotsial Dnaia organizatsiia khantov i mansov v
effective use of guerrilla tactics helped to weaken
XVIII–XIX vekakh. Moscow, 1983.
MuEa¯wiyah’s Umayyad dynasty before it was overthrown by
Toporov, V. N. “On the Typological Similarity of Mythological
the Abbasid revolution in 750. Their revolts continued
Structures among the Ket and Neighbouring Peoples.” Semi-
under the early Abbasids, and the appellation kha¯rij¯ı came
otica 10 (1974): 19–42.
to mean “rebel.”
Tschernejtzow, V. N. “Bärenfest bei den Ob-Ugrien.” Acta Ethno-
Being from the first people who could not compromise,
graphica (Budapest) 23 (1975): 285–319.
the Kha¯rij¯ıs quickly separated into sects: Muslim heresio-
graphers list more than twenty. Each sect usually elected an
NikolDskii, N. P. “Obzor literatury po etnografii, istorii, folDkloru
imam, a “commander of the faithful,” and regarded itself as
i iazyku khantov i mansov.” Sovetskaia etnografiia 2 (1939):
the only true Islamic community. Basic to Kha¯rij¯ı doctrine
are the tenets that a Muslim who commits a major sin has
Novitskii, G. “Kratkoe opisanie o narode ostiatskom” (1715). Re-
apostatized, and the shedding of his blood is lawful; that any
issued in Hungarian in “Studia Uralo-Altaica,” no. 3. Szeged,
pious Muslim is eligible to become an imam; and that if he
sins or fails to be just, he may be deposed. Non-Kha¯rij¯ı Mus-
New Sources
lims were regarded as either polytheists or infidels. Jews or
Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam. The Tenacity of Ethnicity: A Siberi-
Christians who accepted Kha¯rij¯ı rule were, however, scrupu-
an Saga in Global Perspective. Princeton, N.J., 1999.
lously protected. Kha¯rij¯ıs who sought death in jiha¯d (reli-
gious war) against other Muslims were considered shura¯t, or
Translated from Hungarian by Daniel Abondolo
“vendors” (of this world for paradise).
Revised Bibliography
The principal sects were the Aza¯riqah, the S:ufr¯ıyah, and
the Iba¯d:¯ıyah. The Aza¯riqah probably took their name from
Na¯fiE ibn al-Azraq, son of a former Greek slave and black-
KHA¯RIJ¯IS are the “third party” in Islam, who anathema-
smith. They excluded from Islam all those who were content
tize both the majority Sunn¯ıs and the Sh¯ıE¯ı partisans of EAl¯ı.
to coexist peacefully with non-Kha¯rij¯ı Muslims or who be-
Although few in number today, the Kha¯rij¯ıs played a role of
lieved in taq¯ıyah, dissimulation of their true beliefs, and all
great importance in the history of Muslim theology and po-
who would not make the hijrah, or emigration, to join them.
litical theory.
They practiced isti Era¯d:, or “review” of the beliefs of their op-
ponents, putting to death those who failed to pass their cate-
Their origins lie in the agreement between the fourth
chism, often including women and children, and held that
caliph, EAl¯ı, and his challenger, MuEa¯wiyah, kinsman and
infants of “polytheists” went to hell with their parents. They
avenger of the murdered third caliph, EUthma¯n, to submit
maintained that even a prophet was not immune from sin,
their quarrel to arbitration, following the Battle of S:iff¯ın (AH
and hence from final infidelity; that menstruating women
37/657 CE). A group of EAl¯ı’s followers, at first mostly from
should still pray and fast; that a thief’s “hand” should be cut
the Arab tribe of Tam¯ım, held that EAl¯ı had, by agreeing to
off at the shoulder; and that it was not lawful to stone adul-
treat with rebels, committed a great sin and could no longer
terers, because this punishment is not prescribed in the
be considered a Muslim. They made an exodus (khuru¯j)
QurDa¯n. They broke with the other Kha¯rij¯ıs of Basra in 684
from his camp and collected at H:aru¯ra¯D near EAl¯ı’s capital of
and left the city to conduct a terrible civil war in the southern
Kufa in Iraq: Hence Kha¯rij¯ıs (“those who went out”) are
provinces of Iraq and Iran. This was led by Zubayr ibn
sometimes referred to as H:aru¯r¯ıyah. From the beginning
Ma¯hu¯z until 688, then by Qat:a¯ı ibn Fuja¯Dah until their final
they insisted on the equality of all Muslims regardless of race
defeat in 699. Qat:a¯ı was one of a series of gifted Arab Kha¯rij¯ı
or tribe, “even if he be a black slave,” and they found an im-
portant following among the non-Arab converts.
The S:ufr¯ıyah are said to have originated among the fol-
Despite all efforts, EAl¯ı was unable to conciliate them.
lowers of EAbd Alla¯h ibn S:affa¯r al-Tam¯ım¯ı. They believed
In the end he was forced by their raids and provocations to
that peaceful coexistence with other Muslims was legally per-
attack their headquarters on the Nahrawa¯n canal (July 17,
missible; unlike the Aza¯riqah they did not practice isti Era¯d:,
658). This attack became more of a massacre than a battle,
and unlike the Iba¯d:¯ıyah they held that non-Kha¯rij¯ı Muslims
and it aroused sympathy for the Kha¯rij¯ıs. Within three years
were polytheists rather than merely infidels. They emerged
Al¯ı was murdered at the door of his mosque in Kufa by Ibn
as an active sect in 695 and found an enthusiastic following
Muljam al-Mura¯d¯ı, a Kha¯rij¯ı seeking revenge for the slain
among the Arab tribes of the upper Euphrates Valley. Under
of Nahrawa¯n.
a series of fierce leaders they made their own bid for supreme
The intellectual center of Kha¯rij¯ı doctrine for the next
power in the troubled events at the close of the Umayyad ca-
century was the great Iraqi port of Basra, but then moved
liphate. From 745 to 751 they fought in Iraq, then Fa¯rs, then
to North Africa. There Kha¯rij¯ı doctrine struck a responsive
Kishm Island, and finally in Oman, where their imam was
chord among the Berber tribes, and North Africa became the
slain by an Iba¯d:¯ı imam. The sect’s activities then moved
Scotland of these Muslim Puritans. Kha¯rij¯ı revolts making
chiefly to North Africa, where it had found Berber adherents
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

after 735. Berber S:ufr¯ıyah captured the important caravan
Ta¯hart were recognized by Berber tribes from Morocco to
city of Sijilma¯sah in southern Morocco in 770 under an
Tripolitania, as well as by the Iba¯d:¯ıyah of Basra, Iran, and
imam named Abu¯ Qurrah. Like many other Kha¯rij¯ıs they
Oman. Their traders were early missionaries of Islam in sub-
were active traders. They maintained an imamate for about
Saharan Africa. In the latter half of the ninth century, this
a century but at last seem to have been converted to the
state was weakened by a series of religious schisms and by ex-
Iba¯d:¯ıyah and to Sunnism.
ternal enemies, and many of its Berber supporters converted
to Sunnism. The remains of the state were destroyed in 909
The Iba¯d:¯ıyah are the only surviving division of the
by the rise of the Fatimid caliphate, based in Kairouan. The
Kha¯rij¯ıs, and because they have preserved their writings, they
last imam fled to Sadra¯tah in the oasis of Wargla. The de-
are also the best known. Numbering probably fewer than a
scendants of the fugitives of Ta¯hart live today in the oases
million, they are found in the oases of the Mzab and Wargla
of the Mzab, deep in the Sahara.
in Algeria, on the island of Jerba off Tunisia, in Jabal
Nafu¯sah and Zuwa¯ghah in Libyan Tripolitania, in Zanzibar,
Twelve subsects of the North African Iba¯d:¯ıyah are men-
and in Oman, where the ruling family is Iba¯d:¯ı. The mer-
tioned by historians of the sect. Three of these, the
chants of the Mzab, Jerba, and Oman present a good exam-
Nukka¯r¯ıyah, the Nafa¯th¯ıyah, and the Khalaf¯ıyah, have
ple of closed religious trading communities similar to the
survived to modern times in small numbers, chiefly in Tripo-
Jews, the Parsis, or the Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı Muslims. Practicing
Iba¯d:¯ıyah do not tolerate tobacco, music, games, luxury, or
celibacy, and must eschew anger. Concubinage can be prac-
SEE ALSO Caliphate; Imamate; MuEtazilah; Ummah.
ticed only with the consent of wives, and marriages with
other Muslims are heavily frowned upon. They disapprove
of S:u¯f¯ısm, although they have a cult of the saintly dead. Sin-
The best sources on the Kha¯rij¯ıs are, of course, in Arabic, with
others in French, German, and Italian. Most of these will be
ners in the community are ostracized until they have per-
found listed after three excellent articles in The Encyclopaedia
formed public admission of guilt and penance.
of Islam, new ed. (Leiden 1960–): G. Levi Della Vida’s
The sect was first mentioned about 680, in Basra. It
“Kha¯ridjites,” Tadeusz Lewicki’s “Iba¯d:¯ıyya,” and R. Ru-
took its name from EAbd Alla¯h Ibn Iba¯d:, who broke with the
binacci’s “Aza¯rik:a.” Two classic Sunn¯ı heresiographies have
Aza¯riqah in 684 and continued to live in Basra, where he pre-
been translated into English, however, and are valuable read-
sided over a secret council called the Jama¯Eat al-Muslim¯ın
ing, though written from a distinctly hostile stance. These are
EAbd al-Qa¯hir al-Baghda¯d¯ı’s Moslem Schisms and Sects
(Collectivity of the Muslims). His work was continued under
(Al-Fark: Bain al-Firak:), translated by Kate Chambers Seelye
Ja¯bir ibn Zayd, an eminent scholar and traditionist. The ear-
(New York, 1919–1935), pp. 74–115, and A. K. Kazi and
liest mutakallimu¯n, or theologians, of Islam were Iba¯d:¯ıyah
J. G. Flynn’s “Shahrasta¯n¯ı: Kita¯b al-Milal waDl Nih:al (The
who debated with the circle of H:asan of Basra. Ja¯bir was
Kha¯rijites and the MurjiDites),” Abr-Nahrain 10 (1970/71):
from the Omani tribe of Azd and did much to organize the
49–75. A valuable article by a leading scholar of the Iba¯d:¯ıyah
sect. It had close contacts with the Basran MuEtazilah and,
is Tadeusz Lewicki’s “The Ibádites in Arabia and Africa,”
like them, held that the QurDa¯n was created, that humans
parts 1 and 2, Cahiers d’histoire mondiale 13 (1971): 51–130.
have power over their own acts, and that there will be no be-
An older but still useful introduction is William Thomson’s
atific vision. The Iba¯d:¯ıyah have also been called the
“Kha¯rijitism and the Kha¯rijites,” in The Macdonald Presenta-
Wa¯s:il¯ıyah, after Wa¯s:il ibn EAt:a¯D, an early MuEtazil¯ı.
tion Volume: A Tribute to Duncan Black Macdonald (1933;
reprint, Freeport, N. Y., 1968).
After Ja¯bir, the Basra collectivity was headed by Abu¯
Ubaydah Muslim al-Tam¯ım¯ı. He retained the Basra head-
quarters as a teaching and training center and prepared teams
of teachers (h:amalat al- Eilm) to go and spread the doctrine
in remote Muslim provinces. When the time was ripe, these
teams were to set up imams: Like the Zayd¯ı Sh¯ıE¯ıah and
many MuEtazilah, the Iba¯d:¯ıyah hold that there can be more
than one imam if communities of widely separated believers
KHMER RELIGION. The majority of Khmer, the
need them. At other times, when circumstances dictate,
dominant ethnic population of Cambodia, identify them-
Iba¯d:¯ı communities may legally dispense with the imamate,
selves as practitioners of Therava¯da Buddhism. As in other
to be ruled by councils of learned elders.
contemporary Southeast Asian cultures with strong
Iba¯d:¯ı imamates rose and fell in Yemen, Oman, and Tri-
Theravadin identities, the Buddhism practiced in Cambodia
politania in the eighth century. Omani traders carried the
is characterized by two trends. Although the Theravadin his-
doctrine to East Africa in the ninth century. The greatest
tory of Cambodia is understood by most Khmer to extend
Iba¯d:¯ı imamate was that of Ta¯hart, founded in central Algeria
back to ancient times, the self-conscious construction of
around 760, which became hereditary in a family of Persian
Cambodia as a Theravadin nation is largely a modern devel-
origin, the Rustam¯ıs. During the latter part of the eighth
opment. Khmer Buddhism is (and has long reflected) a com-
century and the first half of the ninth century, the imams of
plex interweaving of local and translocal religious ideas,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

movements, rituals, practices, and persons. This history in-
sophical, religious, and political thought of Indians were as-
cludes, first, the blurring of clear distinctions between
similated and reinterpreted by Khmer and other Southeast
Therava¯da, Maha¯ya¯na, and Tantric historical development
Asian peoples during the first centuries CE, possibly through
in Cambodia, and second, the incorporation of Buddhist val-
a combination of trade, diplomatic, and religious contacts
ues into local spirit cults and healing practices. As Buddhist
both with India and Indians directly and also through trade
scholars have only recently begun to recognize, the older nor-
and court relations with Southeast Asian neighbors. Among
mative presentation of a monolithic “Therava¯da” tradition
the most important borrowings from India for the Khmer
dominating Southeast Asia is largely a scholarly fiction.
was the introduction of Sanskrit writing and literature. Ar-
cheological evidence from the pre-Angkorian (seventh to
Buddhism in Cambodia during the past two millennia
ninth centuries) and Angkorian (ninth to fourteenth centu-
has been marked by numerous transformations as it was
blended, in different forms, with local and Hindu-influenced
ries) periods shows that the Khmer utilized both Sanskrit and
cults; as diplomats, missionaries, monks, and traders import-
Khmer for inscriptions: they used Sanskrit for expressive lit-
ed new interpretations, monastic lineages, and practices; and
erary purposes, such as extolling the virtues of the gods, and
as Buddhism rose and fell from official patronage. There are
Khmer for more documentary purposes, such as listing dona-
striking continuities in Khmer religious history as well: the
tions of slaves to temples. Sanskritist Sheldon Pollock has
political potency of religion in various Khmer kingdoms,
suggested that the attraction of Sanskrit as a cosmopolitan
states, and regimes; the intertwining in all periods of Bud-
language was aesthetic; it provided a powerful medium for
dhist, Brahmanic, and spirit cults and practices; and, at least
imagining the world in a larger, more complex, and translo-
since the widespread popularization of Therava¯da Buddhism
cal way. By the middle- or post-Angkorian period (fifteenth
after the fourteenth century, the important role of Buddhist
to nineteenth centuries), the use of Sanskrit for literary pur-
ideas and values in the moral vocabulary and ritual practices
poses had been replaced by the vernacular, which had devel-
of Khmer people.
oped its own cosmopolitan idiom. For the Khmer, this pro-
cess of the thorough transformation of the Indian literary
Based on Pali scriptures, many Khmer Buddhists have
imagination is evident in the celebrated Khmer rendering of
understood their national religion to originate in the A´sokan
the Ra¯ma¯yan:a, known in Khmer as the Ra¯makerti (pro-
missions of the third century BCE. Archeological evidence,
nounced “Ream-ker”), the Glory of Ra¯m. The Khmer adapta-
however, suggests a somewhat later introduction of Bud-
tion of the Indian epic transforms the hero, Ra¯m, into a bo-
dhism, possibly as early as the second century CE, when
dhisattva, reflecting Khmer ethical and aesthetic concern
Khmer-speaking peoples were congregated in small chief-
with the biography of the Buddha. The Ra¯makerti appears
doms referred to in Chinese records as Funan. Buddhism was
as a frequent theme in Khmer art in temple murals and
likely introduced into the Khmer regions by Indian mer-
paintings and in bas reliefs on the galleries of Angkorian tem-
chants, explorers, and traveling monks, but the extent to
ples. It has also been reenacted in elaborate traditional dance
which this movement should be regarded as a full-scale “im-
forms, composed as narrative poetry, and retold in many oral
plantation” has been debated. The theory of the importation
versions, including shadow puppet plays known as spaek
and spread of Buddhism and other Indian ideas and cultural
dham: and lkhon khol performances used ritually as spirit of-
forms into Southeast Asia has been termed Indianization by
scholars. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a
historical account of the “origin” of Southeast Asian cultural
From the second century onward, historical evidence
forms through the mode of a dominant Indian civilization
suggests that Buddhist and Brahmanic practices coexisted
was widely accepted by colonial scholars of Cambodia, pre-
and became intertwined with local animist traditions and
sumably because of its resonance with dominant colonial
spirit beliefs in the Khmer regions. Chinese records indicate
views of race and civilizational development. By the 1930s,
that Khmer court rituals during the Funan period included
the work of the French Indologist Paul Mus (soon joined by
the worship of S´iva-lin˙gam, suggesting devotion to S´iva, as
other historians) began to call into question the extent to
well as evidence of local spirit cults. The transregional move-
which the Khmer and other Southeast Asian cultures were
ments of Buddhist missionaries and pilgrims may well have
shaped by Indian influence, arguing instead that Indian
introduced Buddhism into Southeast Asian courts. Chinese
forms had been easily absorbed in Southeast Asia because
histories reveal that Chinese monks en route to India by sea
they complemented existing indigenous ideas and practices,
visited sites in Southeast Asia, and likewise that a Buddhist
and that the cultural influences moved both ways, not just
monk from Funan named Na¯gasena traveled to China in the
one way.
sixth century. At Oc-Eo, a port city of the Funan era, arche-
ologists have discovered Buddha images associated with the
More recently, a consensus has emerged among many
Maha¯ya¯na tradition.
historians that Indians probably never established a political
and economic process akin to modern-era colonization by
Epigraphic records of religious life began to appear in
Europeans in Southeast Asia; nor is there thought to have
the seventh century, during the period referred to as pre-
been a large movement of Indian settlers to Southeast Asia.
Angkor, when the Khmer regions were apparently dominated
Rather, aspects of the language, arts, literature, and philo-
by a group of chiefdoms or kingdoms referred to in Chinese
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

sources as Chen-la. These inscriptions, primarily composed
1001), Su¯ryavarman I (1001–1050), and Jayavarman VI
in Khmer and Sanskrit, suggest that the pre-Angkorian rulers
(1080–1107) all patronized Buddhism in addition to other
were for the most part devotees of S´iva or Vis:n:u. Contempo-
religious cults. Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism came to the forefront,
rary historians warn against over-interpreting this evidence
however, toward the end of Angkorian predominance, dur-
to suppose that an Indian-like “Hinduism” was in existence.
ing the reign of Jayavarman VII (1181–c.1218). Historian
Rather, drawing on persuasive linguistic evidence, Michael
David Chandler has suggested that Jayavarman VII may have
Vickery has pointed to the practice among pre-Angkor
developed an interest in Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism during a stay
Khmer of attributing Indian names to their own indigenous
in Champa, where Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism was flourishing. In-
fluenced by Buddhist ideas, Jayavarman VII followed a peri-
od of bloody warfare in his reign by constructing public
These inscriptions also suggest the simultaneous prac-
works, such as rest houses, hospitals, and reservoirs, as well
tice or at least the presence of diverse religions, including
as the temples Ta Prohm and Preah Kan to honor his parents
Buddhism, which was tolerated and to different degrees sup-
in combination with the goddess of wisdom, Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯,
ported by most pre-Angkorian rulers. Buddhism was appar-
and the Bodhisattva Loke´svara (symbolizing compassion).
ently practiced alongside or synthesized into the activities of
He also erected the Bayon temple in the center of his capital
indigenous cults with some Indian features. These sources
containing the central image of the Buddha, with four-faced
also reveal that pre-Angkorian Buddhist influences were
images of Loke´svara on its towers and exteriors, an image
drawn from India, China, Sri Lanka, and other parts of
that has been widely associated in modern times with Cam-
Southeast Asia, such as Dvaravati and Champa, with more
bodian identity and with a widespread romantic fascination
than one form of Buddhism in evidence. Numerous
with Angkor. This image has sometimes been interpreted as
Avalokite´svara figures, as well as a reference to the name
a likeness of Jayavarman VII as well, possibly representing
Loke´svara in an inscription from 791 (found in present-day
a further reinterpretation of the earlier devara¯ja concept, now
Siemreap), indicate Mahayanist influence. Yet some early
connecting king and bodhisattva.
Pali inscriptions from the pre-Angkor period have also been
found along with Sri Lankan and Dvaravati style Buddha im-
During the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, as inhabi-
ages showing Theravadin presence.
tants of the Southeast Asian maritime regions were adopting
Islam, people in mainland areas, including Cambodia, were
The end of the pre-Angkor period was a period of politi-
turning to Therava¯da Buddhism. Although there is a general-
cal and economic expansion and centralization in the Khmer
ly acknowledged acceptance among scholars of the “ascen-
region. As kings enlarged their territories, the Khmer politi-
dancy” of Therava¯da Buddhist ideologies and practices dur-
cal linking of king and deity began to emerge, a concept re-
ing this period, it is not exactly clear why or how. Victor
ferred to in Sanskrit inscriptions as devara¯ja, which may have
Lieberman explains the popularization of Therava¯da Bud-
grown out of older indigenous traditions linking rulers and
dhism after about 1400 in connection to expanding trade
local deities of the earth. This association developed more
and prosperity moving from coastal to inland regions. He
fully during the Angkor period, starting with the kingship
suggests that Therava¯da Buddhism became associated with
of Jayavarman II (802–854). While the ideological details of
this movement and that it perhaps provided a larger, more
the devara¯ja cults remain unclear—whether or to what ex-
cosmopolitan and universal vision of the world for its new
tent kings understood themselves as embodied deities or as
adherents. Given the syncretic nature of Khmer religion in
supplicants to or patrons of particular deities remains con-
general, it is likely that Theravadin ideas and practices con-
tested—scholars have surmised that the considerable politi-
tinued to intermingle with other Buddhist forms. As the
cal and economic influence wielded by Angkorian kings was
dominant political and economic influence of Angkor waned
inseparable from their close ties to cycles of agricultural pro-
and the kingdoms of Pagan and Sukothai (in present-day
duction and fertility, their roles as moral exemplars and pro-
Burma and Thailand) replaced it as regional powers, trade,
tectors and patrons of religious life. These dimensions of
diplomatic, and other cultural contact with these Theravadin
kingship were manifested in the building projects un-
kingdoms spread Theravadin ideas to Khmer-speaking peo-
dertaken by the Angkorian kings, in reservoirs, images, and
ple. A Khmer prince, possibly a son of Jayavarman VII, is
mountain temples such as Angkor Vatt, the fabulous reli-
supposed to have been among a group of Southeast Asian
gious monument constructed by Su¯ryavarman II (1113–
monks who traveled to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism at the
c.1150) and dedicated to Vis:n:u.
end of the twelfth century and ordained in the Mahaviharin
Most of the early Angkorian kings were Saivites or devo-
order, a lineage that was carried back and established in
tees of Harihara, a Khmer deity incorporating aspects of both
Pagan. During the next two centuries, Therava¯da Buddhism
S´iva and Vis:n:u. But Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism was also in evi-
became assimilated into all levels of Khmer society and syn-
dence and became increasingly connected with royal patron-
thesized with older Brahmanic and spirit practices, such as
age and political power during the Angkorian period. Yaso-
agricultural and life-cycle rites, worship of qnak ta¯ (local spir-
varman, regarded as the founder of Angkor (889–900),
its), spirit mediumship, alchemy, and healing practices.
dedicated hermitages to S´iva, Vis:n:u, and the Buddha;
During the post-Angkorian or “middle period,” the
Ra¯jendravarman II (c. 944–968), Jayavarman V (c. 968–
population and agricultural centers of the Khmer region
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

gradually shifted southward. While Khmer religion retained
held wider repercussions for challenging a rigid historiogra-
its syncretic character, Theravadin forms and idioms domi-
phy of a dominant Pali Theravadin tradition in the region,
nated. Cultural historian Ashley Thompson sees this move-
François Bizot has argued that Khmer Buddhism prior to the
ment reflected in the appearance of wooden Theravadin
period of renovation initiated by Ang Duong was character-
viha¯ras built adjacent to Angkorian Brahmanic stone tem-
ized by strong Tantric influences, which were largely eradi-
ples, and in the shift in iconography from images of deities
cated during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
such as S´iva, Vis:n:u, and Harihara to images of the Buddha.
Bizot’s current translations seek to preserve remnants of these
Pali replaced Sanskrit as the language of inscriptions and lit-
traditions, marginalized and preserved in the esoteric teach-
erature along with Khmer, and much of the classical Khmer
ings, texts, and meditation practices of small numbers of ad-
literature was composed during this time. Along with the de-
velopment of Buddhist interpretations of the Ra¯makerti,
Beginning in 1848, when Ang Duong was installed on
Khmer art and literature began to assume Theravadin ideas
of the relationship between Buddhist virtue and kingship,
the Khmer throne under Siamese patronage, he initiated a
and merit-making and karma; they also developed an em-
Buddhist purification movement that lasted for nearly a cen-
phasis on the cosmic biography of the bodhisattva perfecting
tury, and which formed the basis for the creation of modern
virtues in his different rebirths on the path to buddhahood,
Khmer Buddhism during the early decades of the twentieth
and a cosmology and ethical orientation reflecting notions
century. Ang Duong, who composed a number of well-
of rebirth and moral development in the three-tiered world
known literary works himself, gathered Buddhist-trained li-
of the Trai Bhu¯m. A sixteenth-century inscription translated
terati in his court, and turned his attention toward revitaliz-
by Thompson, for example, refers to the merit produced by
ing Buddhist education and rebuilding Buddhist material
a royal couple, the king’s subsequent rebirth in Tus:ita Heav-
culture. The strong court ties with Siam, affinities between
en, and his resolve to become an arahant at the time of the
Khmer and Thai Buddhism, as well as the vibrancy of Bud-
Buddha Maitreya.
dhist literary culture in Bangkok during much of the nine-
teenth century, led the Khmer to turn to Bangkok for Bud-
While Khmer scholars tend to situate the end of the
dhist texts and education. Modern Khmer Buddhism, as it
middle period and the beginning of the modern period in
developed, was thus also strongly influenced by the Thai
the mid-nineteenth century with the advent of French colo-
Buddhist reforms introduced in the nineteenth century by
nial rule in 1863, a significant shift in the fate of modern
King Mongkut and his sons, King Chulalongkorn and (in
Khmer Buddhism began to occur toward the end of the eigh-
the Khmer transliteration) Supreme Patriarch Vajiraña¯-
teenth century. From this point until the early nineteenth
century, Cambodia was involved in almost continual warfare
with its Siamese and Vietnamese neighbors, followed by un-
This Siamese influence is evident in the biographies of
rest and violence later in the nineteenth century, as a result
the two leading Khmer monks of the nineteenth century,
of internal revolts, Buddhist millenarian rebellions, piracy,
who both received their ordinations in Bangkok. Samtec
and banditry. The Buddhist material culture that had devel-
Brah: Sanghara¯j D¯ıen˙ (1823–1913), the sam:gha chief who
oped during the middle period was damaged or destroyed as
oversaw most of the Buddhist renovation in Cambodia, was
a result of this warfare and social chaos. A nineteenth-century
captured as a prisoner of war by the Siamese army as a young
Khmer official wrote in his memoir that in the late 1840s,
boy and taken to Bangkok as a slave, where he became con-
once a relative peace was restored for the first time in more
nected to the entourage of the exiled Ang Duong. D¯ıen˙ was
than a century, the countryside of Cambodia was “shat-
ordained as a novice at the age of eleven, and by the time
tered,” poverty and starvation were apparent everywhere, and
he was ordained as a monk in 1844, he had already won the
Buddhist temples were destroyed or broken apart. Orphaned
notice of Rama III for his brilliance. By the age of twenty-
and poor, he recalled, “I knew only suffering and misery and
five, his reputation as a scholar and monk-scribe was well es-
my heart was broken. I wanted to ordain in the discipleship
tablished in monastic circles in Bangkok, and his works in-
of the Lord Buddha. . . . But in Vatt Sotakorok there were
cluded a translation of the Trai Bhu¯m from Thai, as well as
no Dhamma-attha-sa¯stra-pali [Buddhist scriptures] and in
the pa¯timokkha, a section of the Vinaya or monastic code reg-
the vatt [temple] where I was ordained as a bhikkhu, there
ularly recited by monks. D¯ıen˙ returned to Cambodia at the
remained only ignorant and backward monks.”
request of Ang Duong to head up the restoration of Bud-
dhism in the kingdom, and following a Thai model of ad-
The destruction of Buddhist texts, temples, educational
ministrative centralization, he began to conduct the first of
facilities, and generations of scholar-monks over a sustained
several reorganizations of the sam:gha that occurred between
period of time, as well as the weakening of the Cambodian
the 1850s and 1880. Appointed to the rank of supreme patri-
monarchy, the influence of Thai Buddhist reforms, and the
arch in 1857, D¯ıen˙ also instituted monastic Pali exams, be-
colonial religious policies imposed by the French, all contrib-
ginning in 1858. He retained his close connections with the
uted to a shift in the religious landscape of Cambodia during
Khmer throne during Norodom’s reign (r. 1864–1904), and
and after the reign of King Ang Duong (r. 1848–1860). In
was venerated by the general populace until his death in
his path-breaking work on Khmer Buddhism, which has also
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The other highly regarded Khmer monk of the nine-
side of urban areas, the wider imprint of Thai reformism in-
teenth century was Samtec Brah: Sugandha¯dhipat¯ı Pa¯n
fluenced young Khmer monks in the more traditional
(c.1824–1894), the monk credited with the importation of
Maha¯nika¯y order in Cambodia. These young monks, led in
the Dhammayutnika¯y (Mongut’s reformist sect) to Cambo-
particular by Chuon Nath (1883–1969) and Huot Tath
dia. Born in Battambang, Pa¯n was ordained as a novice in
(1891–1975), pushed for a series of innovations in the
1836 at Vatt Bodhiva¯l in Battambang; in 1837 he went to
Khmer sam:gha beginning in the early twentieth century: they
Bangkok to study Pali, his biography states, because of “the
advocated the use of print for sacred texts (supplanting the
deplorable state of Buddhist education in his [natal] pago-
traditional inscription of palm-leaf manuscripts mandated by
da.” He was ordained in the Maha¯nika¯y sect as a bhikkhu at
sam:gha officials for Buddhist texts into the 1920s in Cambo-
the age of twenty-one, but in 1848, he was exposed to an in-
dia); a higher degree of competence in Pali and Sanskrit
fluential teacher of the Dhammayut sect; one biography
studies among monks; a vision of orthodoxy based on under-
states that he also studied Pali under the direction of Mong-
standing of Vinaya texts for both bhikkhu and laypersons;
kut, who was still in the monkhood at this time. Pa¯n re-
and modernization in pedagogical methods for Buddhist
ordained as a Dhammayut bhikkhu in 1849, with Mongkut
studies. As the modernist and reformist ideas of Nath and
presiding at the ceremony.
That developed, the two monks came to champion the un-
The date of Pa¯n’s return to Cambodia and the founding
derstanding and practice of a rationalistic, scripturalist, de-
of the Dhammayut sect in Cambodia has been attributed to
mythologized Buddhism, similar in many respects to the re-
the reigns of both Ang Duong and Norodom, either in 1854
formed Buddhism of Mongkut.
or 1864. While the exact date is uncertain, it is clear that in
symbolic and political terms, the erudite monk Pa¯n—and
Chuon Nath, often considered to be the greatest Khmer
with him, the establishment of the Dhammayut sect—
monk of the twentieth century, was born in Kompong Speu
emanated from the highest court circles in Bangkok. Pa¯n was
and ordained as a bhikkhu at Vatt Bodhi Priks in Kandal in
accompanied on his return to Cambodia by a number of Sia-
1904; he was educated as a novice first at Vatt Bodhi Priks
mese monks, who presented the kingdom with a collection
and later at Vatt Un:n:a¯lom. After his ordination as a bhikkhu
of eighty Siamese texts, presumably the tipit:aka, which had
he returned to Vatt Un:n:a¯lom, where he continued his Pali
been “lost” in Cambodia during the years of warfare. Under
studies under the direction of Brah: Maha¯vimaladhamm
Norodom, Pa¯n constructed the seat of the Dhammayut
Thon˙, who was in turn a student of Brah: Samtec Sanghara¯j
order in Vatt Bodum Vaddey in Phnom Penh. He was ap-
Dien˙. Nath’s younger colleague and long-time collaborator,
parently literate in Pali, Sanskrit, Thai, Lao, Burmese, and
Huot Tath, was also born in Kompong Speu, and was or-
Mon, and could also read ancient Khmer inscriptions.
dained in 1912 at Vatt Un:n:a¯lom. Both men generated con-
Dhammayut sources suggest that he was an important com-
troversy and were held in scorn by some of their older col-
piler of Vinaya commentaries, monastic training manuals,
leagues within the Maha¯nika¯y during their early years as
and manuals on merit-making rituals.
reformers, but they rose to prominent monastic ranks during
the late 1920s and 1930s, serving as professors at the Sa¯la¯
While these two widely-respected and well-educated
Pali and as key members of the Commission for the Produc-
monastic leaders were able to foster the renovation of Bud-
tion of the tipit:aka. Nath was appointed as sam:gha head in
dhism envisioned by Ang Duong from the 1850s onward,
1963; Tath followed as sanghara¯j in 1969, after Nath’s death,
monks and novices seriously interested in advanced Pali
holding this title until his execution by the Khmer Rouge in
studies were still better served in Bangkok, usually after re-
ceiving a basic primary and novitiate education in Cambo-
dia. Monastic biographical sources suggest that prior to
The reforms envisioned by the faction of Nath and Tath
about 1910, young boys studying in Khmer temples learned
were not uniformly accepted within the Khmer sam:gha.
Khmer literacy, writing, arithmetic, vernacular religious lit-
Early attempts by Nath to introduce print met with resis-
erature such as cpap’ (didactic poetry), ja¯taka, lpaen: (narra-
tance from established sam:gha officials and led to increasing
tive poetry), and sometimes kpuan (manuals) or tamra¯ (tech-
factionalism between modernists and traditionalists within
nical treatises) on astrology, medicine, or ritual procedures.
the Maha¯nika¯y that continued into the 1970s. The reformist
Monks and novices who traveled to Bangkok for study or
efforts led by modernist monks did however coincide with
text collection purposes, such as Ukña¯ Suttantapr¯ıja¯ Ind
both the pedagogical ideologies and political interests of
(1859–1924), Brah: Maha¯vimaladhamm Thon˙ (1862–
French colonial administrators who backed Nath and Tath
1927), and Brah: Ma¯s-Kan˙ (1872–1960), encountered new
in an effort to reinvigorate Buddhist education within the
methods of Pali grammar instruction, translation, and textu-
protectorate. The French administration took on the role of
al analysis that went beyond the older pedagogical traditions
sam:gha patron in part to foster European models of scientific
employed in most Khmer monasteries of the day of rote
education but also, fearing Siamese and Vietnamese influ-
memorization, often without clear understanding of the Pali
ence, to stem the flow of Khmer Buddhist literati to Bang-
verses being chanted.
kok, as well as the movement of monks within French Indo-
Although the Dhammayutnika¯y imported from Siam
china. The modernist agenda also helped to counter the
and patronized by the royal family never took wide hold out-
influence of millenarian Buddhism in the provinces, which
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

threatened French rule. In French Cambodia, as well as in
evil, of that I will be the heir. What we do we will reap, what
southern Vietnam, peasant insurrections linked anticolonial-
we sow we will reap.” Given this understanding, moral be-
ism with predictions of a Buddhist dhammik (“righteous
havior and especially the attainment of high levels of moral
ruler”) who would usher in the epoch of the Buddha
purification—most often by monks and other religious virtu-
osos—were highly valued. But even for lay people, religious
participation was marked by the frequent ritual invocation
The Buddhist reform movement advocated by Nath,
of the five Buddhist precepts (s¯ıl pram: in Khmer: to abstain
Tath, and their fellow professors and scholars at the Sa¯la¯
from taking life, stealing, false speech, improper sexual rela-
Pali—known initially as Dharm-thm¯ı (“modern dhamma”)
tionships, and the use of intoxicants), as well as by ceremo-
and later as Dhammaka¯y or simply sma¯y (“modern”) Bud-
nies of homage and taking refuge in the “triple gem” (the
dhism—shaped the contours of official scholarly Buddhism
in Cambodia as these reformers taught in advanced Buddhist
Buddha, dhamma, and sam:gha), and by merit-making
educational institutions and dhamma-Vinaya schools, and
through offering gifts of food and robes to monks, through
prepared textual compilations. But this textually-oriented
the copying or dedication of Buddhist texts, and for those
Buddhism was never the only or even the dominant expres-
with enough means, through sponsoring religious building
sion of religious life in modern Cambodia, and even while
projects. Gratitude to parents or teachers, to whom one
a figure such as Chuon Nath was widely respected as a great
could dedicate merit, and veneration toward monks, the
scholar, he was also venerated by the Cambodian populace
king, and the nation were increasingly intertwined with ide-
as the possessor of extraordinary powers of iddhi, such as the
ologies of merit-making during the twentieth century. A
ability to understand the speech of birds.
Khmer proverb translated by Bounthay Phath conveys the
understanding of impermanence and dukkha that inscribed
In urban as well as rural areas, Khmer religious life dur-
the religious ethos of her childhood in Phnom Penh during
ing most of the twentieth century was deeply ritualistic, in-
the 1950s and 1960s: “Wherever one goes, suffering will go
volving the daily or seasonal worship of deities of the earth,
along just as the shadow follows the body.”
water, rice fields, and cardinal directions, as well as local tute-
lary spirits and ancestors, along with the care and manipula-
While modernist sam:gha officials and scholarly Bud-
tion of the relationships between humans and these powerful
dhists in the 1920s and 1930s sometimes decried the religion
spirit beings. (Some of these generalizations remain current,
practiced by the majority of Khmer as “non-Buddhist,” for
but since so many aspects of Khmer life were altered after
the most part, the spirit practices, Brahmanist court rituals,
1975, it is more accurate to confine these descriptions to the
ancestor propitiation, and healing cults amply documented
pre-1975 religious context documented by ethnographers
by ethnographers coexisted with reformist forms of
such as Eveline Porée-Maspero and May Ebihara). Spirit
Therava¯da Buddhism. This complementarity between “pop-
houses in fields and outside of houses were often attended
ular” and textual interpretations of Buddhism was visible
daily, while shrines within the house were maintained for an-
even in 1930 when the Buddhist Institute was established
cestor spirits, known as meba¯, whose dissatisfaction or disap-
under the directorship of French curator Susanne Karpelès,
proval could potentially cause illness in family members.
a French Indologist who promoted Nath’s and Tath’s reform
While Buddhist monks were invited to offer prayers and
Buddhism; Karpelès and her staff happily orchestrated color-
blessings or sprinkle sacred water at weddings, funerals,
ful processions and merit-making festivals in the countryside
housewarmings, and other life-cycle events, other religious
as they collected copies of Buddhist manuscripts for the Bud-
practitioners besides monks often presided at these kinds of
dhist Institute and Royal Library. The major project of the
events. These included a¯cha¯ry, lay teachers at the vatt who
institute was to produce a critical Khmer-Pali printed edition
assisted with life-cycle rituals, protective amulets, and so on;
of the Tipit:aka, culled by a commission of Buddhist scholars
gru¯ Khmaer, traditional healers who could diagnose and cure
from palm-leaf manuscripts donated by the Khmer popu-
many illnesses, including those connected with the spirit
lace, and finally completed in 1968. After 1930, the Bud-
world; ru¯p arakkh, spirit mediums who could communicate
dhist Institute continued to lead the development of modern
with the spirits of the dead, arakkh; and chmap, midwives
Buddhism in Cambodia, and historian Penny Edwards has
who assisted with the rites and practices necessary to assure
argued for its role as a site for imagining Khmer nationalism.
safety for mothers and infants during the highly vulnerable
Monks were among the most prominent dissidents against
passage of childbirth.
the French colonial regime, and the institute also helped give
rise to the development of the Communist Party in Cambo-
The ethical ideas underlying these religious practices re-
dia; Mean (Son Ngoc Minh) and Sok (Tou Samouth), later
flect several central themes. First and perhaps most impor-
leaders of Khmer communism, were both recruited by Su-
tant, is a belief in the efficacy of the law of karma (kamm in
sanne Karpelès for Buddhist education.
Khmer). Summarized by the contemporary Khmer monk
Venerable Maha Ghosananda, this law states: “Karma means
In spite of this early connection between Buddhism and
action. . . . I am the owner of my karma. And the heir of
the Communist Party, after the Khmer Rouge took power
my karma. I am related to my karma, and abide supported
in April 1975, they quickly sought to eradicate Buddhism
by my karma. Whatever karma I shall do, whether good or
in Democratic Kampuchea. Ian Harris estimates that 63 per-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

cent of monks died or were executed during the Democratic
ideas are reaching contemporary Khmer Buddhists, includ-
Kampuchea years; many others were forced to disrobe, Bud-
ing “engaged Buddhism,” models for Buddhist-led care for
dhist monasteries were destroyed or used for other purposes,
AIDS patients, and human rights education and conflict me-
Buddhist text collections were discarded, and Buddhist prac-
diation techniques taught through the medium of Buddhist
tices were forbidden. Nearly two million people died as a re-
concepts. The internationally known Khmer monk, Maha¯
sult of Khmer Rouge policies enacted between 1975 and
Ghosananda, a student of Gandhian ideas, began leading
peace marches across Cambodia in 1989 known as
dhammaya¯tra¯ (dhamma pilgrimages), which crossed war
Since the Vietnamese invasion of 1979 that brought an
zones and called attention to injustices in contemporary soci-
end to the murderous Democratic Kampuchea regime, Bud-
ety. Nadezhda Bektimirova reports that after the 1997 coup,
dhism has slowly reemerged in Cambodia, in some ways re-
seven hundred monks marched for peace in Phnom Penh,
sembling Buddhism before 1975 and in other ways altered.
carrying the slogan “May peace come to the home of every
The People’s Republic of Kampuchea allowed the reorgani-
zation of the Khmer sam:gha under the Venerable Tep Vong,
but imposed severe restrictions on Buddhist participation
SEE ALSO Buddhism, article on Buddhism in Southeast
and expression. These were gradually lifted by the People’s
Asia; Hinduism in Southeast Asia; Samgha, article on Sam-
Republic of Kampuchea and the subsequent (1989) State of
gha and Society in South and Southeast Asia; Southeast
Cambodia government. Since 1989, many temples (vatt)
Asian Religions, article on Mainland Cultures.
have been rebuilt, often from contributions by overseas
Khmer, and Buddhist life has been widely reconstituted.
Research by anthropologists John Marston and Judy
The classic, indispensable synthetic work on Khmer history is
Ledgerwood, among the first to begin to document the new
David Chandler’s A History of Cambodia, rev. 3d ed. (Boul-
der, Colo., 2000). The Khmers, by Ian Mabbett and David
religious context, suggests that older strains of Khmer Bud-
Chandler (Oxford, 1995), emphasizes early Khmer history.
dhist thought, such as tensions between “modernists” (sma¯y)
The essays by Keith Taylor, Ian Mabbbett, J. G. De Ca-
and “traditionalists” (pura¯n:), as well as millenarian move-
sparis, Barbara Watson Andaya, and Anthony Reid in The
ments (connected in some cases with the nineteenth-century
Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, vol. 1: From Early Times
versions), have reemerged in this new period. Ledgerwood’s
to c. 1800, edited by Nicholas Tarling (Cambridge, UK,
work has also begun to document the ways in which contem-
1992), along with Victor Lieberman’s Strange Parallels:
porary political leaders such as Hun Sen are returning to the
Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830 (Cambridge,
pre-revolutionary model of political rulers as patrons of the
2003), can provide a picture of the history and development
sam:gha in order to establish authority and legitimacy. On the
of the Khmer in a larger regional perspective. Chandler, a
other hand, the loss of so many monks, intellectuals, and
student of Paul Mus and strongly influenced by his theories
about indigenous culture, reflects the turn toward producing
texts and a whole generation of young lay people raised with-
“autonomous” histories of Southeast Asia. Together with Ian
out any religious education during the Democratic Kampu-
Mabbett, he translated and edited Mus’s India Seen from the
chea period is seen by some contemporary Buddhist leaders
East: Indian and Indigenous Cults in Champa (Cheltenham,
as a major obstacle to the rebuilding process and an irrepara-
Australia, 1975). While Indianization theories have been
ble break with the past. The traumatic experience of the
challenged, George Coedès’s The Indianized States of South-
Democratic Kampuchea period and its aftermath has in
east Asia, translated by Sue Brown Cowing, remains an im-
some cases ushered in new kinds of cynicism and questioning
portant comprehensive regional treatment of Southeast Asia.
of basic Buddhist truths, such as the efficacy of the law of
Louis Finot’s Le Bouddhisme, son origine, son evolution
karma; in contemporary Phnom Penh, the classic karmic for-
(Phnom Penh, 1956), which shares the Indianization bias,
mula, “If you do good, you will receive good in return; if you
was written in the early 1920s in part to convey this notion
do evil, you will receive evil,” is sometimes sardonically re-
to Khmer Buddhist monks. It deals primarily with Indian
Buddhist history rather than Khmer Buddhism, and was in-
phrased to reflect a widespread perception of governmental
fluential for both Chuon Nath and Huot Tath, who studied
corruption: “If you do good, you will receive good; if you
Buddhist history and epigraphy with Finot in Hanoi in the
do evil, you will receive a car.” Other contemporary Khmer
early 1920s.
now identify even more strongly with Buddhism; many seek
Bizot’s most important work, in which he lays out his theory of
to remember the dead through merit-making ceremonies or
Tantric influence in Cambodia, is Le Figuier à cinq branches
to ease traumatic memories through meditation practice. Lay
(Paris, 1981); he continues to translate and publish vernacu-
meditation movements have begun to flourish in Phnom
lar works in this vein. Relatively few synthetic works are
Penh, a trend already decades old in other Theravadin coun-
available on Khmer Buddhist history in European languages.
tries such as Burma and Thailand.
Ian Harris’ new Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice
(Honolulu, 2004), drawing primarily on European sources,
As diasporic Khmer establish new Buddhist centers
provides a much-needed overview of Khmer Buddhist histo-
around the world in cities such as Lowell, Massachusetts, and
ry. This work can be supplemented with Charles F. Keyes,
Long Beach, California, and as Japanese and Western Bud-
“Communist Revolution and the Buddhist Past in Cambo-
dhists and aid workers visit Cambodia, new global Buddhist
dia,” in Asian Visions of Authority: Religion and the Modern
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

States of East and Southeast Asia, edited by Charles F. Keyes,
XXème siècle (Paris, 1993), as has Judith Jacob in her highly
Laurel Kendall, and Helen Hardacre (Honolulu, 1994), and
useful The Traditional Literature of Cambodia: A Preliminary
the topical essays on historical and contemporary religion in-
Guide (Oxford, 1996). In Khmer, the most-cited work on
cluded in History, Buddhism, and New Religious Movements
literature is by L¯ı Dha¯m Ten˙, Aksarsa¯str Khmaer (Khmer lit-
in Cambodia, edited by John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie
erature [Phnom Penh, 1961]).
(Honoloulu, 2004). In Khmer, Huot Tath has a history of
The classic work on colonial Buddhism is still Adhémard Leclère’s
Khmer Buddhism called Brah:buddh-sa¯sana¯ nau Prates
Le bouddhisme au Cambodge (Paris, 1899); this work is par-
Kambhuja¯ Sankhep (An abbreviated account of Buddhism in
ticularly useful for its records of Leclère’s conversations with
Kampuchea; Phnom Penh, 1961).
Khmer monks of the period. His numerous translations of
Michael Vickery’s brilliant and meticulous reading of Khmer epig-
Buddhist vernacular works from the period are also available.
raphy and other historical sources in Society, Economics, and
Alain Forest’s Le Cambodge et la colonisation française: His-
Politics in Pre-Angkor Cambodia: The 7th–8th Centuries
toire d’une colonisation sans heurts (1897–1920) (Paris, 1990)
(Tokyo, 1998) treats the pre-Angkor period, while Ian Mab-
touches on many aspects of Buddhist organization during the
bett’s Patterns of Kingship and Authority in Traditional Asia
French Protectorate period, and The French Presence in
(London, 1985) and Stanley Tambiah’s World Conqueror
Cochinchina and Cambodia: Rule and Response (1859–1905)
and World Renouncer (Cambridge, U.K., 1976) examine his-
by Milton E. Osborne is especially helpful for understanding
torical relationships between kingship and religion in Cam-
millenarianism (Ithaca, N.Y., 1969). Essays by Penny Ed-
bodia and elsewhere in the Theravadin world. Helpful works
wards and Anne Hansen in History, Buddhism, and New Reli-
on Angkor (and after) include the collected essays in Sculp-
gious Movements in Cambodia (cited above) treat the role of
ture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millennium of Glory,
religion in “imagining” Khmer identity during the colonial
edited by Helen Ibbitson Jessup and Thierry Zephir (Wash-
period. The most helpful published source in Khmer on the
ington, D.C., 1997); Charles Higham’s The Civilization of
early twentieth century is Huot Tath’s memoir Kalya¯mitta
Angkor (Berkeley, 2001); and Eleanor Mannikka’s Angkor
rabas’ khñu (My Kalya¯mitta [Phnom Penh, 1993]). Bunchan
Wat: Time, Space, and Kingship (Honolulu, 1996). Michael
Mul’s essay “The Umbrella War of 1942” in Peasants and
Vickery’s Yale University dissertation, “Cambodia After
Politics in Kampuchea, 1942–1981, edited by Ben Kiernan
Angkor: The Chronicular Evidence for the Fourteenth to
and Chantou Boua (London, 1982) considers later involve-
Sixteenth Centuries” (1977), and Ashley Thompson’s “In-
ment of monks in anticolonialism, and the introductory
troductory Remarks Between the Lines: Writing Histories of
chapters of Ben Kiernan’s How Pol Pot Came to Power (Lon-
Middle Cambodia,” in Other Pasts: Women, Gender and His-
don, 1985), offer a tightly condensed overview of Buddhist
tory in Early Modern Southeast Asia, edited by Barbara Wat-
developments during the colonial period. Many Khmer re-
son Andaya (Manoa, Hawai’i, 2000), both deal with post-
formist writings from 1914 and later are still available; they
Angkorian epigraphy. Reid’s edited volume Southeast Asia in
were often reprinted decades later (without revision) by the
the Early Modern Era: Trade, Power, and Belief (Ithaca, N.Y.,
Buddhist Institute. These are largely Buddhist ethical works
1993), and Khin Sok’s Le Cambodge entre le Siam et le Viêt-
by monk-scholars such as Um:-Su¯r and Lv¯ı-Em, as well as
nam (de 1775 à 1860) (Paris, 1991), take different approach-
Nath and Tath. Tauch Chhuong’s oral historical work, Bat-
es, one broadly cultural and regional, one closely focused on
tambang during the Time of the Lord Governor, which con-
Khmer social stratification and political history, but both
tains chapters on religious life in Thai-ruled Battambang,
help one to understand Khmer society in the late middle/
was translated by Hin Sithan, Carol Mortland, and Judy
early modern period. David Chandler’s “Going Through the
Ledgerwood (Phnom Penh, 1994).
Motions: Ritual Aspects of the Reign of King Duang of
In addition to the ethnographic works on Khmer ritual life dis-
Cambodia, 1848–1860” in Facing the Cambodian Past, by
cussed above, Eveline Porée-Maspero’s Étude sur les rites
David Chandler (Chiangmai, Thailand, 1996), discusses
agraires des Cambodgiens (Paris, 1962–1969), and May Ebi-
royal patronage of Buddhism on the eve of colonialism.
hara’s Columbia University Ph.D. dissertation, “Svay: A
There are a number of helpful works in reference to Khmer litera-
Khmer Village in Cambodia” (1968) and “Interrelations be-
ture, which is largely religious in nature. Saveros Pou’s work
tween Buddhism and Social Systems in Cambodian Peasant
is extensive, but of special note in reference to religion is her
Culture” in Anthropological Studies in Theravada Buddhism,
study, Études sur le Ra¯makerti (XVI–XVII siècles) (Paris,
edited by Manning Nash et al., (New Haven, Conn., 1966);
1977), and her translation and analysis of the cpap’, Guir-
Ang Choulean’s Les êtres surnaturels dans la religion populaire
lande de Cpa¯p’ (Paris, 1988). François Bizot’s Ra¯maker ou
khmère (Paris, 1986); and Alain Forest’s Le culte des genies
l’amour symbolique de Ra¯m et Seta¯ (Paris, 1989) is a study and
protecteurs au Cambodge: Analyse et traduction d’un corpus de
translation of a Khmer version of the text used as a manual
texts sur les neak ta (Paris, 1992), give a thorough treatment
for the practice of Tantric meditation in which the Buddhist
of spirit cults and practices. Work on Buddhism in the Dem-
adept follows the journey of Ra¯m as a form of spiritual in-
ocratic Kampuchea period is still emerging, but published
struction. A contemporary oral version of the Ra¯makerti used
works include Yang Sam, Khmer Buddhism and Politics
for ritual purposes has been collected and edited by Pic Bun-
1954–1984 (Newington, Conn., 1987), and Boua
nin as Ra¯makerti bol daoy Ta¯ Say (Ra¯makerti as recited by
Chanthou, “Genocide of a Religious Group: Pol Pot and
Grandfather Say [Phnom Penh, 2000]).Khing Hoc Dy has
Cambodia’s Buddhist Monks” in State Organized Terror:
written a comprehensive survey of Khmer literature and au-
The Case of Violent Internal Repression (Boulder, Colo.,
thors, Contribution à l’histoire de la littérature khmère: Littéra-
1991). Many works are available on diasporic Khmer reli-
ture de l’epoque “classique” (XVème–XIXème siècles) (Paris,
gion, including several essays collected in Cambodia Culture
1990), and Ecrivains et expressions littéraires du Cambodge au
Since 1975: Homeland and Exile, edited by May Ebihara et
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

al. (Ithaca, N.Y., 1994) and Nancy Smith-Hefner’s Khmer-
ambivalent quality of explanations about natural phenomena
American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Com-
has led anthropologists to treat these concepts in a descrip-
munity (Berkeley, 1999). Some of the work cited above is
tive, folkloristic manner. Yet there is an underlying order of
from unpublished sources; ethnographic research on Khmer
shared symbolic categories that represents an inclusive pro-
religion by Judy Ledgerwood and John Marston (referred to
cess of cultural management. In its broad outlines, this sys-
above) is not yet available. An overview on contemporary re-
tem is common to all Khoisan groups, even though there is
ligion appears in Nadezhda Bektimirova’s “The Religious
variation in content and emphasis from one group to
Situation in Cambodia in the 1990s” in Religion, State, & So-
30, no. 1 (2002): 63–72.
The key to understanding Khoisan cosmology lies in its
creation myths. In the beginning of time all species were con-
flated. Body parts were distributed in a haphazard, capricious
manner by the creator and were intermixed among the differ-
The Khoi and San
ent animals. These beings moved through mythical time, eat-
are the aboriginal peoples of southern Africa. The appella-
ing and mating with each other and being reincarnated in
tions formerly applied to them (Hottentot and Bushmen, re-
different forms. In the process, each species assumed the
spectively) have gone out of use because of their derogatory
identity suggested by its name and thereafter lived in the sur-
connotations. Properly, the terms Khoi and San refer to
roundings and ate the food appropriate to it. As order was
groups of related languages characterized by click consonants
achieved, the creator played an ever smaller active role in
and to speakers of these languages, but they are frequently
events; now he lives in the sky, relatively remote from earthly
applied in a cultural sense to distinguish between pastoralists
affairs. Generally positive values are attributed to him. An-
(Khoi) and foragers (San). In historical time (essentially,
other being has the role of administrator; he is responsible
within the past 250 years in this region), these people were
for and is the cause of everything that occurs on earth. He
found widely distributed below the Cunene, Okavango, and
is said to be stupid because he continues to make mistakes.
Zambezi river systems, that is, in the modern states of Na-
One of the principal mistakes is that people continue to die
mibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Smaller
when, in the logic of creation, they should not be mortal. He
numbers were, and are, to be found in southern Angola and
also capriciously sends or withholds rain, interferes in the
Zambia. The once large population of San in South Africa
conception and birth of children, and dictates success or fail-
has been completely eliminated; perhaps 20 percent of con-
ure in food production.
temporary Khoi still live in that country. Accurate censuses
of these people are available only for Botswana, where today
There is, accordingly, a dual conception of death. The
about half the estimated forty thousand San live. The fifty
death of animals is properly a part of their being; they are
thousand Khoi (except as noted above) are concentrated in
food. Human death is rationalized as the caprice of the ad-
ministrator and justified on the grounds that he eats the
Archaeological and historical evidence document the
dead, whose spirits then remain with him. These spirits have
coexistence in these areas of herding and foraging economies
an incorporating interest in death because “their hearts cry
for at least the past fifteen centuries. Bantu-speaking as well
for their living kin,” and they wish to perpetuate the social
as Khoi and San agropastoralists have been in the region
order from which they came. The dead are thus agents of the
along with foragers during this entire span of time. The first
administrator and a danger to the living, especially during
ethnographies were compiled by German ethnologists in the
dark nights away from camp.
last decade of the nineteenth century; a few accounts by mis-
This duality is pervasive in Khoisan cosmological
sionaries, travelers, and traders are available for the preceding
thought. Aside from the obvious oppositions between life
one hundred years.
and death, earth and sky, that are found among so many peo-
All of these herders and foragers were seasonally migra-
ples, a deeper configuration of a dialectical nature is present.
tory, circulating within group-controlled land tenures in re-
Comparative data is scarce; however, a good deal is known
sponse to seasonal distributions of pastures and plant and an-
about the Zˇu/ho˜asi San (!Kung) of Namibia and Botswana;
imal foods. The basic residential group was an extended
these people are by far the most numerous living San. This,
family often with close collateral extensions; it seldom ex-
plus the fact that they share some specific details with Nama
ceeded fifty persons in size. Two or more of these units, or
Khoi, is suggestive ground for using the data obtained from
segments thereof, came together for social, economic, and
them for a paradigm case. The Zˇu/ho˜asi creator, !xo, and the
ritual reasons at specified times, and contact among adjacent
administrator, //angwa, may be seen—and are sometimes de-
groups was maintained by frequent visiting. Descent among
scribed by informants—as a contrasting pair.
the San is bilateral. Patrilineal clans are attributed to the
In other words, !xo is a completed proper being, as is
Khoi. Neither social system contains hierarchical strata at
a Zˇu/o˜a person. (The name Zˇu/ho˜asi means “completed peo-
present, although there is evidence for them in the past.
ple”: zˇu means “person,” /ho˜a “finished” or “complete,” and
On the surface, Khoisan cosmological concepts are not
si is a plural suffix.) //angwa is incomplete, chaotic, “without
uniformly coherent. The apparent ad hoc and sometimes
sense.” !xo’s attributes are desirable, //angwa’s despicable.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

by smearing honey around his mouth. This reversal of pro-
priety and the fact that he is covered with long hair (Khoisan
have little body hair) is taken as further proof of the confused
incompleteness that situates him in residual mythological
time. Shamans enter this time while in trance to confront the
Zˇu/ho˜asi shamans go in disembodied flight to the sky
and wrestle with //angwa in an attempt to force him to cor-
The color blue
The color red
rect some error—an illness, a social disfunction, or an uncer-
Cultural order
Natural order
tainty about events. In entering this state, shamans take on
some of its attributes; they sprout body hair or feathers, be-
come partly or wholly animal, and fly. To be able to partici-
pate in this realm they must partake of it. They eat the bile
The one gives life, the other takes it away. Some Zˇu/ho˜asi
of a lion, the musk gland of a skunklike weasel, the fat from
think of them as alternative aspects of the same person. That
an eland and a porcupine, and the roots of the three plants
this division, and by implication the cosmological system of
that grow in the supernatural world. Bitterness (of bile and
which it is a part, may have considerable time depth is sug-
gland) and fat are the dual sources of strength, as are the roots
gested by the attribution of cattle and sheep to the cultural
of extrasensory vision. These elements—eaten once during
order of!xo, while horses and goats are assigned to the unfin-
the course of learning to be a shaman—empower ordinary
ished domain of //angwa. Archaeological evidence places
men to challenge the strength of the supernatural and, by
both cattle and sheep firmly within the first millennium CE
overcoming it, to restore order to the social and natural uni-
in southern Africa; horses are much more recent. Linguisti-
cally, cattle and sheep are derived from a single native stem
in most Khoisan languages; horses and goats, on the other
The ritual context in which these activities take place in-
hand, are called by a term borrowed from Setswana or—in
volves the entire kin-based community. Only a few people
the case of horses—by extensions of the local word for zebra.
who are directly affected may participate in minor cases, but,
small or large, the form of both divinatory and curing rituals
Among the Nama, the creator (rendered Tsui //goab by
is the same. Both involve trance as the essential visionary
Schapera) has functions identical to those of !xo and, like his
condition in which the shaman is enabled to exercise his or
Zˇu/ho˜asi counterpart, had an earthly trickster manifestation
her power. Women and girls sit in close physical contact,
during the time of creation. It was this trickster (≠gaun!a
forming a circle facing a fire; they sing and clap songs that
among Zˇu/ho˜asi; Heitsi Eibib among the Nama) who car-
are associated with specific natural elements, usually animals
ried out the actual acts of creation. Khoi, in the past, had an-
but also plants or their products. Men and boys dance closely
nual rain ceremonies in which several groups joined. Preg-
around the circle, chanting a counterpoint to the songs. Cer-
nant cattle and sheep were slaughtered on these occasions
tain dancers are identified with particular animals and their
and their flesh consumed; their milk, blood, and the water
songs; they are more likely to enter trance during perfor-
in which they were boiled were used to douse the fire on
mances of these songs. As a dancer feels the trance state ap-
which they had been cooked. Prayers for rain were offered
proaching, he or she intensifies his or her movements and
to Tsui //goab as this was done. The Nama counterpart of
vocalizations, uttering piercing cries and calling for help,
//angwa is //gaunab, derived from //gau, “to destroy.” Their
which is signified by heightening the intensity of the music.
administrative roles are parallel. Earlier writers claim that
It is said that in the mythological past, the actual animal
southern Khoi and southern San worshiped the moon, but
being danced (an eland, for example) was attracted to the
as Schapera notes, these reports are inadequate and unsys-
performance, but now only its spirit attends.
tematic; it is, therefore, difficult to give full credit to such
claims. Contemporary San use the moon as a quite specific
During divinatory trances, Zˇu/ho˜asi shamans shout de-
and accurate timepiece. When referring to the time of occur-
scriptions of their encounter with //angwa in which the cause
rence of an event, they will point to a position of the moon
of the social or physical illness under investigation is re-
in the sky or state that the moon’s return to a position will
vealed. This cause is almost invariably some transgression on
coincide with some event. Women mark their menstrual cy-
the part of either the patient or a close kinsman, usually in-
cles and the durations of their pregnancies in like manner,
volving the violation of rights to property (especially the
but they do so strictly for calendric purposes. It is possible
products of land) or personal rights (infractions of obliga-
Europeans interpreted these actions as “moon worship.”
tions, sometimes extending to ancestors). But this direct
cause is always expressed indirectly as having disrupted the
Although the mythological past is not thought to be ac-
cosmological order through some mediating agency; for ex-
tive in the present natural world, many of its elements are
ample, the offender may have eaten (or only have killed) a
very much involved in the control of this world. The admin-
forbidden animal. During the curing trance, the shaman
istrator eats not only humans but also flies, which he attracts
rubs the patient and everyone else present with his hands and
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

arms, thereby transferring healing energy through the medi-
Marshall, Lorna. “!Kung Bushman Religious Beliefs.” Africa 32
ating agent—sweat.
(1962): 221–252. Narrative and descriptive account contain-
ing useful information but no comprehensive analysis.
Thus the myths and their reenactment constitute the
Schapera, Isaac. The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa. London,
conceptual dimensions of Khoisan reality. They integrate
1930. Based on accounts of missionaries and travelers. Valu-
subjective experience with the larger structural context
able information but outdated synthesis.
through a repertoire of causal principles that, though not ex-
Silberbauer, George B. Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari
pressly verbalized in ordinary discourse, are based on an un-
Desert. Cambridge, Mass., 1981. Primarily an ecological,
derlying symbolic order. Trance rituals mediate between
evolutionary study, but also includes information on the reli-
these realms. Although couched in causal metaphors, respon-
gious system of the G/wi San.
sibility is normally allocated to living individuals (through
Wilmsen, Edwin N. “Of Paintings and Painters, in Terms of
their having transgressed the cosmological order) and almost
Zˇu/ho˜asi Interpretations.” In Contemporary Studies on Khoi-
always involves a consensus solution to current social disrup-
san in Honour of Oswin Köhler on the Occasion of His Seventy-
tions. The act of divination translates the cosmological con-
fifth Birthday, edited by Rainer Vossen and Klaus Keuth-
structs in terms of the specific instance at hand. The random,
mann. Hamburg, 1986. An economic and political analysis
amoral, impersonal forces of nature—which have an order
of prehistoric and contemporary San paintings.
of their own, personified by the administrator and his do-
New Sources
main—are temporarily neutralized by this dialectic between
Deacon, Janette and Thomas A. Dowson, eds. Voices from the
culture and society. In the process, although the internal
Past: /Xam Bushmen and the Bleek and Lloyd Collection. Jo-
logic remains intact, both are transformed.
hannesburg, 1996.
Gall, Sandy, The Bushmen of Southern Africa: Slaughter of the Inno-
There is abundant evidence that these contemporary
cent. London, 2001.
systems of thought are derived through transformations of
Kent, Susan, ed. Cultural Diversity among Twentieth-Century For-
more ancient systems. Many rock paintings throughout
agers: An African Perspective. Cambridge, U.K. and New
southern Africa depict persons in postures identical to those
York, 1996.
assumed during trance today. Therianthropic and therio-
Sanders, A. J. G. M., ed. Speaking for the Bushmen: A Collection
morphic figures comparable with those of current creation
of Papers Read at the 13th International Congress of Anthropo-
myths abound among these paintings. The basic structure of
logical and Ethnological Sciences. Gaborone, South Africa,
these myths and many specific referents (rain bulls whose
blood brings rain; water snakes that have hair, horns, limbs,
Smith, Andrew B. The Bushmen of Southern Africa: A Foraging So-
and ears; beings that partake of the mythic past in the pres-
ciety in Transition. Athens, Ohio, 2000.
ent) are shared by many Khoisan and southern Bantu-
Steyn, Hendrik Pieter. Vanished Lifestyles: The Early Cape Khoi
speaking peoples, suggesting a long history of associated cos-
and San. Pretoria, South Africa, 1990.
mological construction. There is also evidence for compara-
Suzman, James. “Things from the Bush”: A Contemporary History
tively recent change from more active totemic association
of the Omaheke Bushmen. Basel, Switzerland, 1999.
with natural elements, especially animals, prominent today
Wannenburgh, Alf. The Bushmen. Cape Town, South Africa,
in trance. The colonial era and its aftermath disrupted the
political and economic lives of Khoisan as well as Bantu-
speaking peoples; in this process, it is possible but not yet cer-
Revised Bibliography
tain that destructive, uncontrollable elements of the cosmo-
logical system became emphasized over the constructive
forces of creation, and that today the administrator (//angwa
KHOMIAKOV, ALEKSEI (1804–1860), was a Rus-
of Zˇu/ho˜asi) has disproportionate power when compared
sian Orthodox lay theologian. Khomiakov was influential in
historically with the role that the creator (!xo) has played.
determining the character of the Russian intelligentsia in the
1840s and 1850s; the emergence of one of its principal
schools of thought, Slavophilism, is closely linked with his
Biesele, Megan. “Sapience and Scarce Resources.” Social Science
name. He was a member of the landed gentry and a partici-
Information 17 (1978): 921–947.
pant in the salons of Moscow. His skills as a dialectician and
Lee, Richard B. The !Kung San: Men, Women, and Work in a For-
debater were respected even by those (such as Herzen) who
aging Society. New York, 1979. The first comprehensive view
shared few of his views. Khomiakov’s skills as a writer were
of the San. Although it falls prey to many traditional faults
less evident in his own milieu as the result of censorship or
of evolutionary theory in anthropology, it is much more sys-
tematic than its predecessors.
at least the anticipation of censorship. Virtually all his writ-
ings on religion were published abroad and in French. Most
Lewis-Williams, David. Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meanings
of these were published posthumously in their country of ori-
in Southern San Rock Paintings. London, 1981. Excellent in-
gin; few were available in Russian before 1879.
tegration of prehistoric and historical rock art with contem-
porary and archival stories. Points the way toward further
Khomiakov graduated from the University of Moscow
fruitful research.
as a mathematician but never received any formal instruction
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

in theology. In view of the limitations under which Russian
academic theology labored at this time, this was probably an
Birbeck, William J., ed. Russia and the English Church during the
advantage. It allowed him to probe church life for the essen-
Last Fifty Years: Containing a Correspondence between Mr.
tials of the Orthodox faith and to delineate them in a re-
William Palmer Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and M.
markably succinct and forceful fashion. Most notable among
Khomiakoff, in the Years 1844–1854 (1895). Reprint, Farn-
borough, 1969. Includes also the invaluable The Church Is
his theological compositions was the essay The Church Is One
(c. 1850).
Bol’shakov, Sergius. The Doctrine of the Unity of the Church in the
In this essay Khomiakov adumbrated his celebrated
Works of Khomyakov and Moehler. London, 1946. Originally
teaching on sobornost’, the cornerstone of his theology. The
a doctoral dissertation which juxtaposes Khomiakov’s
term—a Russian neologism—defies translation, and
thought with that of his Roman Catholic contemporary
Khomiakov invariably preferred to transliterate rather than
J. A. Möhler. The latter’s Die Einheit in der Kirche (1825)
provides important parallels for Khomiakov’s work, even if
translate it. He himself objected to the French translation,
it cannot be considered as its source.
conciliarité. In modern times no one word has been found
as an acceptable, equally comprehensive, alternative.
Christoff, Peter K. An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Russian
Slavophilism: A Study in Ideas, vol. 1, A. S. Xomjakov. The
Khomiakov derived sobornost’ from the ninth-century
Hague, 1961. A wide-ranging study of Khomiakov’s work as
(and subsequently standard) Church Slavonic translation of
a whole; the only such study in English to date.
the Nicene Creed, where the term catholic (katholikos) had
been rendered as sobornaia. For him, the word denoted more
than mere universality. It spoke rather of a church in which
free and complete unanimity prevailed. Such freedom could
admit of no constraint. Papal authoritarianism was indicative
KHUSRAW, AM¯IR (AH 651?–725?/1254?–1325? CE),
of a profound malaise in Western Christendom, and
was a distinguished Indo-Persian poet, musician, and pane-
Khomiakov campaigned vigorously against it. Indeed, for
gyrist. His father, Sayf al-D¯ın Shams¯ı, was most probably
Khomiakov, any kind of authoritarianism contradicted the
a slave-officer in the court of the Delhi sultan Iltutmish
very nature of the church. His intuition on this subject was
(r. 1211–1236). Orphaned at an early age, Khusraw was
to receive confirmation in 1848 when the Eastern patriarchs
brought up in the household of his maternal grandfather,
and bishops replied to the papal encyclical of that year. Their
EIma¯d al-Mulk, another high-ranking nobleman and a for-
reply was enthusiastically echoed by Khomiakov (1850) in
mer Hindu Rajput who must have converted to Islam fol-
his correspondence with William Palmer: “The unvarying
lowing the establishment of Turkish rule in India in the early
constancy and the unerring truth of the Christian dogma
thirteenth century.
does not depend upon any Hierarchical Order: it is guarded
Almost every aspect of Khusraw’s life and work has been
by the totality, by the whole people of the church, which is
mythologized to the point where it is difficult to separate the
the Body of Christ” (Birbeck, 1895, p. 94). By the same
true historical personage from his current popular image. He
token, the individualism of the Protestant world was to be
is today hailed as a great patriot and is counted among the
rejected. In 1851 he declared that it is in the Orthodox
foremost S:u¯f¯ıs of India. Credited with the composition of
church that “a unity is to be found more authoritative than
many lyrics used for qawwa¯l¯ıs, a genre of S:u¯f¯ı devotional
the despotism of the Vatican, for it is based on the strength
music, as well as numerous works in Hindi, he is also re-
of mutual love. There [also] a liberty is to be found more free
nowned as a creator of ragas and inventor of musical instru-
than the license of Protestantism, for it is regulated by the hu-
ments, including the sitar. Popularly referred to as H:azrat
mility of mutual love” (Birbeck, 1895, p. 102).
Am¯ır Khusraw, he is accorded an honorific title raising him
In the teaching of the Slavophiles, as of Khomiakov
to the stature of a saint. His Eurs (lit., “wedding,” the anni-
himself, a social expression of such mutuality was to be found
versary of a saint’s death) is celebrated with tremendous en-
in the Russian peasant commune, the obshchina. That the
thusiasm and devotion. He is also known as Turk Allah
(“God’s Turk”) and Tut¯ı-yi Hind (“the parrot of India”).
principles of obshchinnost’ (“communality”) and of sobornost D
were interrelated, if not interdependent, was emphasized by
Khusraw displayed his precocious poetic talents at an
Khomiakov’s use of the one term obshchina (“commune”) to
early age. Seeking his livelihood in the only way open to
designate both the ecclesiastical community (koinonia) and
poets of his time, in the service of rich patrons, he finally
the peasant commune proper. But with the increasing disre-
found a position at the royal court and had no scruples about
pute and ultimate disappearance of the latter, this strand of
flattering a series of royal masters, one of whom had acquired
Khomiakov’s thought was itself to be obscured in later years.
the throne after murdering his former benefactors. Khusraw
By contrast, his teaching on sobornost’ was to capture the
was first employed by Sultan Kayquba¯d (1287–1290), at
imagination of Russian religious thinkers throughout suc-
whose request he wrote a long poem, Qira¯n al-sa Edayn (The
ceeding decades and to play its part also in the ecumenical
conjunction of the two auspicious stars). He continued in
debates of the century to come.
the service of the next ruler, Jala¯l al-D¯ın Khilj¯ı (1290–1296),
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

whose achievements he lauded in his Mifta¯h: al-futu¯h: (The
of the Muslim rulers, he vocalizes an intense and often crude
key to victories). The reign of EAla¯D al-D¯ın Khilj¯ı (1296–
hatred for the Hindus, identifying in them the main threat
1316) saw Khusraw at his most prolific, with Khaza¯ Din
to his class. But as a poet inspired by the ideology of the
al-futu¯h: (The treasury of victories) and EA¯shiqah (the love
Chisht¯ıyah, he displays a touching sensitivity and respect for
story of Khid:r Kha¯n and Dewal Rani). He also paid eloquent
the religion and culture of India. For this reason Khusraw
poetic tributes to the next ruler, Muba¯rak Sha¯h Khilj¯ı
represents a fine example of the evolving synthesis between
(1316–1320), who was by all accounts vain and debauched,
the Islamic and the indigenous cultures of the Indian sub-
in Nuh sipihr (The nine skies). When the Tughlaqs replaced
the Khilj¯ıs, Khusraw continued in the service of Ghiya¯th
al-D¯ın Tughlaq (1320–1325), the history of whose reign he
encapsulated in the Tughlaq-na¯mah.
Although there are many studies on Am¯ır Khusraw, most of them
unfortunately lack critical analysis of the man or his writings.
Khusraw was the first poet in India to compose war and
The most adequate work on Khusraw in English continues
court epics in Persian. As a prose writer he was remarkably
to be Mohammad Wahid Mirza’s The Life and Works of Amir
eloquent; as a poet he was the master of all forms of verse:
Khusrau (1935; reprint, Lahore, 1962). See Amir Khusrau:
ruba¯ E¯ıs (“quatrains”), qas:¯ıdahs (“odes”), and ghazals
Memorial Volume (New Delhi, 1975) for a collection of some
(“lyrics”). A superb lyricist, Khusraw confidently mixed Per-
erudite articles by experts on various facets of his personality.
sian and Hindi metaphors with striking results.
Mohammad Habib’s Hazrat Amir Khusraw of Delhi (Bom-
But it was his association with Shaykh Niz:a¯m al-D¯ın
bay, 1927), also included in Politics and Society during the
Early Medieval Period: Collected Works of Professor Moham-

Awliya¯ D (d. 1325), a saint of the Chisht¯ı order, that is re-
mad Habib, edited by K. A. Nizami (New Delhi, 1974), is
sponsible for Khusraw’s present stature. The Chisht¯ıyah, a
a historical analysis of Khusraw by a leading scholar of medi-
S:u¯f¯ı order that flourished only in India, were at the height
eval Indian history. For a list of Khusraw’s works, see C. A.
of their popularity during the spiritual reign of Shaykh
Storey’s Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, vol.
Niz:a¯m al-D¯ın. As liberal interpreters of Islam, they provided
2, part 3 (London, 1939).
an effective counterpoint to the orthodox version of Islam
as propounded by the court-associated Eulama¯D. The liberal-
ism of this order was reflected not only in their attitude to-
ward non-Muslims but also in their patronage of cultural ac-
tivities. As firm believers in the power of music and dance
KHVARENAH is the Avestan term for “splendor”
to induce mystical ecstasy, for which they were constantly at-
(OPers, farnah; MPers, Pahl., khwarr; NPers, khurrah or
tacked by the orthodox, they naturally attracted poets and
farr), designating one of the most characteristic notions of
musicians to their hospices (kha¯naga¯hs). In fact, almost all
ancient Iranian religion. It is often associated with the aure-
literary activity among the Muslims of this period was influ-
ole of royalty and of royal fortune, thanks to its identification
enced by the ideology of the Chisht¯ıyah. Among notable
in the Hellenistic period with Greek tuch¯e and Aramaic gad,
contemporaries of Khusraw also associated with the Chisht¯ı
“fortune” (gdh is also the ideogram with which khwarr is
kha¯naga¯h were Am¯ır H:asan Sijz¯ı, the great poet and mystic,
written in Pahlavi), but its meanings go beyond the sphere
and Ziya¯ al-D¯ın Baran¯ı, the courtier and historian.
of royalty, and its influence transcends the confines of the
Khusraw came into contact with Shaykh Niz:a¯m al-D¯ın
Iranian world. Aspects of the concept of khvarenah are found
in 1272, and though he was never initiated into the mystic
in Manichaeism and Buddhism and are interwoven with
order, his wit and poetical and musical talents endeared him
similar concepts characteristic of other cultures, as in the
to the saint. Remarks attributed to the shaykh indicate the
Turkish notion of qut and the Armenian p’a˙rk’. In the Avesta
special fondness that he had for Khusraw.
and in Zoroastrian tradition in general, khvarenah is also per-
sonified as a yazata or a being “worthy of worship.”
The atmosphere of Shaykh Niz:a¯m al-D¯ın’s kha¯naga¯h
was particularly conducive to Khusraw’s sensibilities. As a
Fundamental to the concept of khvarenah are its con-
crucible where a composite culture was evolving from the in-
nections with light and fire, attested in the root from which
teraction between Islamic and Indic elements, it suited the
it is derived, khvar (“to burn, to glow”), which is probably—
genius of Khusraw, who was by birth the product of a similar
despite the opposing opinion of H. W. Bailey, author of an
fusion. As a poet he thrived on mystic themes and imagery;
important essay on the question (1943, pp. 1–77)—
as a gifted musician he moved the audiences at sessions of
connected with the same root as hvar, “sun” (Duchesne-
devotional music (sama¯ E) to ecstasy, and with his special ear
Guillemin, 1963, pp. 19–31). This explains why khvarenah
for languages he contributed greatly to the evolution of a lin-
is sometimes translated in Greek as doxa (“glory”) and in Ar-
gua franca that made communication possible among the
abic-Persian as nu¯r (“light”).
various groups. In brief, Khusraw came to represent almost
The khvarenah is a luminous and radiant force, a fiery
every aspect of the S:u¯f¯ı tradition in India.
and solar fluid that is found, mythologically, in water, in
Khusraw also embodies the contradictions arising from
haoma, and, according to Zoroastrian anthropogony, in
his situation. As a courtier dependent on the political survival
semen. It is an attribute characteristic of Mithra, of royalty,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

of divine and heroic figures in the national and religious tra-
KIERKEGAARD, SO⁄REN (1813–1855), was the
dition, of Yima, the first king, of Zarathushtra, and of the
most outstanding writer in the history of Danish letters and
three Saoshyants, who perform their tasks (Pahl.,
one of the leading religious philosophers of the nineteenth
khw¯eshka¯r¯ıh) on earth thanks to the khwarr that they possess.
century. Kierkegaard’s novel interpretation of the structure
It has the power to illuminate the mind and to open the eye
and dynamics of individual selfhood formed the basis of his
of the soul to spiritual vision, enabling those who possess it
radical critique of European cultural Protestantism and its
to penetrate the mysteries of the otherworld.
philosophical counterpart, Hegelianism. His innovative
Recently the winged disk in Achaemenid reliefs has been
ideas have remained extremely influential.
interpreted as the khvarenah (Shahbazi, 1980,
LIFE. So⁄ren Aabye Kierkegaard was a person of unusual com-
pp. 119–147). Deified Khvarenah (Pharro) is depicted on
plexity whose outward life was relatively uneventful. Having
coins from the Kushan empire as a standing man with flames
received a substantial inheritance, he never needed to secure
rising from his back.
a regular professional position. He devoted most of his short
life to the production of an immense body of philosophical
and religious literature. The formative events in Kierke-
Bachhofer, Ludwig. “Pancika und Har¯ıt¯ı, Pharo und Ardochro.
gaard’s life centered around two individuals: his father, Mi-
Ostasiaatische Zeitschrift, n. s. 23 (1937): 6–15.
chael Pedersen Kierkegaard, and his one-time fiancée, Regine
Bailey, H. W. Zoroastrian Problems in the Ninth-Century Books
Olsen; and two public conflicts: the Corsair affair, and his
(1943). Oxford, 1971.
celebrated attack upon the Danish church.
Bombaci, Alessio. “Qutlug Bolsun!” Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher 36
(1965): 284–291 and 38 (1966): 13–44.
Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard was a successful Copen-
Boyce, Mary. A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. 2. Leiden, 1982.
hagen businessman who retired at an early age to pursue his
Bussagli, Mario. “Cusanica et Serica.” Rivista degli studi orientali
theological interests. The elder Kierkegaard was a sober,
37 (1962): 79–103.
brooding man who was possessed by a profound sense of per-
Corbin, Henry. Terre céleste et corps de résurrection. Paris, 1961.
sonal guilt. In an effort to come to terms with his malaise,
he became deeply involved in the Protestant Pietism that was
Cumont, Franz. Textes et monuments figurés relatifs aux mystères de
Mithra. 2 vols. Brussels, 1896–1899.
then sweeping Denmark. Michael subjected his favorite son,
So⁄ren, to a rigorous and austere religious upbringing. The
Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. “Le ‘Xarenah.’” Annali dell’Istituto
Universitario Orientale di Napoli, Sezione Linguistica, 5
psychological and intellectual complexity of the father-son
(1963): 19–31.
relation left a lasting impression on Kierkegaard and indi-
Eliade, Mircea. “Spirit, Light, and Seed.” History of Religions 11
rectly informed much of his theological reflection.
(1971): 1–30.
The other personal relationship that was decisive for
Gnoli, Gherardo. “Un particolare aspetto del simbolismo della
Kierkegaard was his brief engagement to Regine Olsen.
luce nel Mazdeismo e nel Manicheismo.” Annali dell’Istituto
Shortly after proposing marriage to Regine, Kierkegaard pre-
Universitario Orientale di Napoli, n.s. 12 (1962): 95–128.
cipitated a break with her. The apparent reason for this unex-
Gnoli, Gherardo. “Über das iranische huarnah-: lautliche,
pected reversal was twofold. In the first place, Kierkegaard
morphologische und etymologische Probleme. Zum Stand
discovered an unbridgeable gap between his own introspec-
der Forschung.” Altorientalische Forschungen 23 (1996):
tive, tormented personality and the seemingly innocent, in-
experienced Regine. Second, Kierkegaard became convinced
Gnoli, Gherardo. “Nuove note sullo huarnah-.” In Oriente e Occi-
that his religious vocation precluded marriage and family life.
dente. Convegno in memoria di Mario Bussagli, edited by Ch-
Many of Kierkegaard’s most important works focus on issues
iara Silvi Antonini, Bianca Maria Alfieri and Arcangela San-
raised by his perplexing relation to Regine.
toro, pp. 104–108. Rome, 2002.
Hertel, Johannes, ed. and trans. Die awestischen Herrschafts- und
The two major public events in Kierkegaard’s life in-
Siegesfeuer. Leipzig, 1931.
volved him in bitter controversy. Late in 1845, Kierkegaard
Ito¯, Gikyo¯. “Gathica.” Orient 11 (1975): 1–10.
published a criticism of the Corsair, a sophisticated Danish
Jacobs, Bruno. “Das Chvarnah—Zum stand der Forschung.” Mit-
scandal sheet, in which he exposed the association of several
teilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft zu Berlin 119
leading intellectuals with this notorious journal. The embar-
(1987): 215–248.
rassed authors and editors responded by unleashing an abu-
Litvinskii, B. A. “Das K’ang-chü-Sarmatische Farnan.” Central
sive personal attack on Kierkegaard in which he was held up
Asiatic Journal 16 (1972): 241–289.
to public ridicule. This episode marked a turning point in
Lubotsky, Alexander. “Avestan xarenah-: The Etymology and
his life. After 1846, Kierkegaard’s writings became more
Concept.” In Sprache und Kultur der Indogermanen,
overtly Christian. The full implications of this shift emerged
pp. 479–488. Innsbruck, 1998.
clearly in Kierkegaard’s attack on the Danish church. Kierke-
Shahbazi, A. S. “An Achaemenid Symbol.” Archaeologische Mit-
gaard believed that God had chosen him to expose the scan-
teilungen aus Iran, n.s. 13 (1980): 119–147.
dal of a society that espoused Christian principles but in
which citizens lived like “pagans.” In a series of articles titled
Translated from Italian by Roger DeGaris
The Moment, Kierkegaard argued that the Christianity
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

preached in the established church of Denmark was actually
tique of Hegel and leading nineteenth-century Romantics.
the opposite of the religion practiced by Jesus. His penetrat-
In addition, the analysis of Socrates developed in this book
ing criticisms of church and society created a public furor.
forms the basis of Kierkegaard’s understanding of his own
In the midst of this controversy, Kierkegaard died (Novem-
role as an author. This becomes obvious in the final text that
ber 11, 1855).
deserves mention: The Point of View for My Work as an Au-
WORKS. Few authors have written as wide a variety of works
thor (written in 1848 and published posthumously in 1859).
as Kierkegaard. Most of his writings can be grouped in four
In this short book, Kierkegaard insists that in spite of appear-
major categories.
ances to the contrary, his diverse writings form a coherent
whole that is constantly guided by a religious purpose.
(1) Pseudonymous works. Between 1841 and 1850,
Kierkegaard wrote a series of works under different pseud-
THOUGHT. Kierkegaard’s sense of religious mission informs
onyms. These are his best-known books: Either-Or (1843),
all of his writings. The overriding goal of his work is nothing
Repetition (1843), Fear and Trembling (1843), Philosophical
less than “the reintroduction of Christianity into Christen-
Fragments (1844), The Concept of Anxiety (1844), Stages on
dom.” Since Kierkegaard believes that authentic human exis-
Life’s Way (1845), Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846),
tence is decisively revealed in Christianity, he is convinced
Crisis in a Life of an Actress and Other Essays on Drama
that the struggle to lead a Christian life involves the attempt
(1848), The Sickness unto Death (1849), and Training in
to realize true selfhood. Kierkegaard’s writings represent a
Christianity (1850). Not until the last pages of Concluding
sustained effort to provide the occasion for individuals to
Unscientific Postscript did Kierkegaard publicly claim respon-
make the difficult movement of faith. The most important
sibility for his pseudonymous writings.
part of Kierkegaard’s carefully conceived strategy is his intri-
(2) Edifying discourses. It was Kierkegaard’s custom
cate pseudonymous authorship. The pseudonymous writings
to accompany each of the pseudonymous texts with one or
can best be understood by considering three interrelated as-
more religious works published under his own name. He fre-
sumptions that they all share: the notion of indirect commu-
quently complained that while his pseudonymous writings
nication, the understanding of the structure of selfhood, and
received considerable attention, his religious works were vir-
the theory of the stages of existence.
tually ignored. Two kinds of works make up the edifying dis-
Kierkegaard’s method of communicating indirectly
courses: ethical discourses and Christian discourses. While
through pseudonyms reflects his effort to address problems
the ethical discourses consistently exclude Christian catego-
peculiar to nineteenth-century Denmark and expresses his
ries, the Christian discourses explore religious life from the
general conception of the nature of religious truth. He re-
perspective of Christian faith. The former are more common
peatedly insists that most of his fellow Danes were simply de-
before 1845 and the latter more numerous after that date.
luding themselves when they claimed to be Christians. The
The most important Christian discourses are: Works of Love
(1847), Christian Discourses (1848), The Lilies of the Field
established Lutheran church had so domesticated Christian
and the Birds of the Air (1849), For Self-Examination (1851),
faith that the spiritual tensions that characterized original
and Judge for Yourself (1851–1852).
Christianity had all but disappeared. In this situation, Kier-
kegaard views his task as inversely Socratic. Rather than en-
(3) Polemical tracts. Since he understood himself as a
gaging in a rational dialogue that is supposed to uncover the
necessary “corrective” to “the present age,” Kierkegaard re-
truth implicitly possessed by all human beings, Kierkegaard
mained an irrepressible polemicist. As was the custom in
tries to bring individuals to the brink of decision by offering
Denmark at that time, he presented his views on current in-
them the opportunity to discover the errors of their ways.
tellectual and social matters in the public press and in pam-
Each pseudonym represents a different point of view that re-
phlets that were directed to a general audience. Kierkegaard’s
flects a distinct form of life. Kierkegaard presents these works
most important polemical writings appeared in a newspaper,
as mirrors in which people can see themselves reflected. The
The Fatherland, and his own publication, The Moment.
self-knowledge that results from this encounter with the text
These articles provide a glimpse of Kierkegaard’s immediate
creates the possibility of decisions that redefine the self.
impact on Danish society.
Kierkegaard’s method of communication is also a func-
(4) Journals and papers. Throughout his life, Kierke-
tion of his conviction that religious truth is subjectivity. In
gaard kept a detailed journal, which he knew would be pub-
contrast to Hegel’s speculative approach to Christianity,
lished after his death. The journal, which runs to twenty vol-
Kierkegaard maintains that religious truth cannot be concep-
umes, contains a wealth of information about Kierkegaard’s
tually grasped but must be existentially appropriated through
personality, writings, and his views of other philosophers and
the free activity of the individual agent. In matters of faith,
there can be neither knowledge nor certainty. Human exis-
Two important books do not fall within this general
tence in general and religious belief in particular always in-
grouping. The Concept of Irony, with Constant Reference to
volve absolute risk. Kierkegaard’s aim is to serve as a “mid-
Socrates (1841) was Kierkegaard’s dissertation for the master
wife” who can attend but not effect the birth of the authentic
of arts degree. This work presents an early version of his cri-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

This understanding of indirect communication presup-
actor eventually realizes that he actually divinizes the social
poses a specific interpretation of the structure of human self-
order by regarding moral obligation as divine command-
hood. In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard ironically em-
ment. The “infinite qualitative difference” between the di-
ploys Hegelian language to formulate an account of selfhood
vine and the human creates the possibility of a conflict be-
that overturns Hegel’s understanding of subjectivity. The
tween obligation to other people and obedience to God.
self, Kierkegaard argues, is a structure of self-relation that is
Kierkegaard labels this collision a “teleological suspension of
created and sustained by the wholly other God. Each human
the ethical.” This clash between religious and moral responsi-
being is called upon to relate possibilities and actualities
bility effectively overturns ethical life.
through the exercise of his or her free will. This view of the
The religious stage of existence represents the full real-
self forms the basis of Kierkegaard’s penetrating psychologi-
ization of authentic selfhood. Kierkegaard’s analysis of the
cal analyses. In The Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard defines
self culminates in the paradoxical coincidence of opposites
anxiety in terms of the subject’s recognition of the possibili-
created and sustained by the faithful individual’s absolute de-
ties opened by its own freedom. Despair is the subject’s fail-
cision. Faith is the free activity of self-relation in which the
ure or refusal to be itself. Anxiety and despair combine to dis-
self becomes itself by simultaneously differentiating and syn-
close the self’s responsibility for itself.
thesizing the opposites that make up its being. In this critical
The analysis of the structure of selfhood forms the foun-
moment of decision, a person who is fully conscious of his
dation of the theory of the stages of existence. Although each
responsibility for his life constitutes his unique individuality
person is irreducibly individual, Kierkegaard maintains that
by decisively distinguishing himself from other selves and de-
it is possible to discern recurrent patterns amid the variety
fining his eternal identity in the face of the wholly other
of human lives. He identifies three basic stages of existence:
God. The qualitative difference between God and self ren-
aesthetic, ethical, and religious. Each stage represents a dis-
ders impossible any immanent relation between the divine
tinct form of life that is governed by different assumptions
and the human. Left to himself, the sinful individual cannot
and expectations. Taken together, the stages provide an out-
establish the absolute relation to the absolute upon which
line of the entire pseudonymous authorship. While Kierke-
genuine selfhood depends. The possibility of the proper rela-
gaard examines aesthetic existence in the first part of both
tion between God and self is opened by the incarnate Christ.
Either-Or and Stages on Life’s Way, the second section of each
The God-man is an absolute paradox that can never be ratio-
of these works is devoted to a consideration of ethical experi-
nally comprehended. This absolute paradox poses an irrec-
ence. The analysis of the religious stage is more complex. In
oncilable either-or: either believe, or be offended. Faith is a
Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments, and Concluding
radical venture, an unmediated leap in which the self trans-
forms itself. By faithfully responding to the absolutely para-
Unscientific Postscript, Kierkegaard approaches questions and
doxical divine presence, the self internalizes the truth of the
dilemmas posed by religion from the perspective of nonbe-
God-man. In this moment of decision, truth becomes sub-
lief. The Sickness unto Death and Training in Christianity, by
jective and the subject becomes truthful. Such truthful sub-
contrast, are written from an avowedly Christian point of
jectivity is the goal toward which Kierkegaard’s complex au-
view. Finally, the third part of Stages on Life’s Way is a tortu-
thorship relentlessly leads the reader.
ous account of the inner struggle of an individual who is
caught between belief and unbelief.
INFLUENCE. Largely ignored in his own day, Kierkegaard’s
writings emerged during the early decades of the twentieth
These three stages of existence are not randomly selected
century to become a dominant force in theology, philosophy,
and arbitrarily presented. Rather, the stages are carefully or-
psychology, and literature. Kierkegaard’s theological impact
dered in such a way that as one advances from the aesthetic
is evident in Protestant neo-orthodoxy. Karl Barth and Ru-
through the ethical to the religious, there is a movement to-
dolf Bultmann developed many of the themes that Kierke-
ward authentic selfhood. Generally conceived, this progres-
gaard had identified. In the thought of Martin Buber, Kier-
sion charts the subject’s advance from undifferentiated iden-
kegaard’s influence extends into the domain of Jewish
tification with its environment, through increasing
differentiation from otherness, to complete individuation, in
which the self becomes a concrete individual, eternally re-
Kierkegaard’s work also forms the foundation of one of
the most important twentieth-century schools of philosophy:
sponsible for itself. The aesthetic stage of existence is charac-
existentialism. Kierkegaard set the terms of debate for major
terized by the absence of genuine decision. The lack of free
Continental philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Karl
resolution results from either unreflective immersion in sen-
Jaspers, and Jean-Paul Sartre. By underscoring the impor-
suous inclination and social life or the dispassionate absorp-
tance of the problems of individual selfhood, authenticity,
tion in abstract reflection. From the ethical point of view,
transcendence, absurdity, temporality, death, desire, guilt,
the self has an obligation to become itself through free activi-
despair, anxiety, and hope, Kierkegaard’s texts provided rich
ty. Deliberate decision marks an essential moment in the
resources for an entire generation of philosophers.
process of individuation and forms a crucial stage in the jour-
ney to selfhood. The ethicist, however, is insufficiently sensi-
Less often recognized is Kierkegaard’s role in modern
tive to the self’s radical dependence on God. The ethical
psychology. His groundbreaking analyses of the psychic
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

states of the individual self have been expanded and extended
Some accounts claim that both his mother and father were
by psychologists such as Ludwig Binswanger and R. D.
traditional Kongo healers and that his visionary activities
Laing. The psychological theories that have arisen from the
were related to theirs. Only since the mid-1970s has much
work of Kierkegaard tend to complement and correct cur-
of the original missionary and government documentation
rents in traditional Freudian analysis.
on Kimbangu’s early activities become available to scholars.
Finally, it is important to stress Kierkegaard’s influence
Kimbangu attended a Baptist Missionary Society school
on twentieth-century literature. The hand of Kierkegaard
at Wathen, near his home village. He became a Christian as
can be seen in the works of creative authors as different as
a young man and was baptized on July 4, 1915, along with
Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, John Updike, and Walker
his wife, Marie-Mwilu, in the Baptist mission at Ngombe-
Luete. He was trained as a catechist and religious instructor
This summary can only suggest the extraordinary im-
by the Baptist Missionary Society but failed his examination
portance of Kierkegaard’s work. The insights of this lonely
to become a pastor. During the typhoid epidemic of 1918
Dane pervade contemporary thought and shape the way
and 1919, in which many residents of his area died, Kim-
many people now understand their lives.
bangu is reputed to have received a calling to heal the sick.
He is alleged to have heard a voice that said, “I am Christ.
SEE ALSO Existentialism.
My servants are unfaithful. I have chosen you to bear witness
before your brethren and convert them. Tend my flock”
(Martin, 1975, p. 44). Frightened, Kimbangu was unable to
Primary Sources
respond and fled to the capital city of Kinshasa (then Léo-
The standard Danish editions of Kierkegaard’s writings are So
poldville), where he worked briefly as a migrant laborer at
⁄ ren
Kierkegaards Papirer, 11 vols., edited by P. A. Heiberg et al.
an oil refinery.
(Copenhagen, 1909–1938), and So⁄ren Kierkegaard Samlede
Upon returning to his village, Kimbangu again received
Værker, 20 vols., edited by J. L. Heiberg et al. (Copenhagen,
the calling to heal. On April 6, 1921, he performed his first
1962–1964). The best English translations of these works are
public act of faith healing. He is reported to have laid hands
So⁄ren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, 7 vols., edited and
translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong with
on a critically ill woman and healed her. This act marked the
Gregory Malantschuk (Bloomington, Ind., 1967–1978),
beginning of Kimbangu’s healing revival and six months of
and Kierkegaard’s Writings, edited by Howard V. Hong
intensive religious activity. N’Kamba, the seat of Kimbangu’s
(Princeton, 1977–).
healing ministry, became known as the “New Jerusalem,”
and over five thousand local converts are reported to have
Secondary Sources
There is an enormous body of secondary literature on Kierke-
flocked to him.
gaard. Emanuel Hirsch’s Kierkegaard-Studien, 2 vols. (Güter-
As the healing movement spread in popularity, colonial
sloh, 1933), remains the most comprehensive intellectual bi-
officials and merchants began to perceive it as a revolutionary
ography of Kierkegaard. Gregor Malantschuk’s Kierkegaard’s
threat. Missionaries were skeptical of Kimbangu’s new teach-
Thought (Princeton, N.J., 1971) and Jean Wahl’s Études
ings, and merchants complained that he incited followers to
kierkegaardiennes (Paris, 1938) are fine accounts of Kierke-
gaard’s overall position. James D. Collins’s The Mind of Kier-
abandon their work and neglect the payment of taxes. With
kegaard (Chicago, 1953) provides a good introduction to
a small cadre of leaders to assist him, Kimbangu continued
Kierkegaard’s thought. For a helpful examination of the im-
to preach and perform inspired acts of healing. On June 6,
portance of Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous method, see Louis
1921, Léon Morel, a Belgian official, attempted to arrest
Mackey’s Kierkegaard: A Kind of Poet (Philadelphia, 1971).
Kimbangu and four of his most loyal assistants. Kimbangu
Stephen Crites’s In the Twilight of Christendom: Hegel vs.
eluded colonial officials until, prompted by a divine vision,
Kierkegaard on Faith and History (Chambersburg, Pa., 1972)
he voluntarily surrendered on September 12.
and my own Journeys to Selfhood: Hegel and Kierkegaard
(Berkeley, Calif., 1980) analyze the complex relationship be-
On October 3, 1921, Kimbangu was sentenced to death
tween Kierkegaard and Hegel.
by 120 strokes of the lash for sedition and hostility toward
the colonial authorities. His court-martial was characterized
by arbitrary proceedings and legal irregularities. In Novem-
ber, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment
by King Albert, who was reportedly influenced by the pleas
KIMBANGU, SIMON (1889–1951), African reli-
of Belgian missionaries to exercise some leniency. Kimbangu
gious prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ on
was transported to Lubumbashi (then Elisabethville) in
Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimbangu. Kimbangu
Shaba province, where he was imprisoned until his death on
was born on September 24, 1889, in the village of N’Kamba,
October 12, 1951, in the “hospital for Congolese.” There is
located in the Ngombe district of what is now the Democrat-
some debate concerning whether Kimbangu, whose teach-
ic Republic of the Congo. In Kikongo, the word kimbangu
ings resembled those of fundamentalist Protestantism, con-
means “one who reveals the hidden truth.” Many legends
verted to Catholicism on his deathbed. This possibility has
surround Kimbangu’s youth and early religious activities.
been vehemently denied by his family and followers.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Kimbangu’s arrest augmented the aura of mystery sur-
Contains a historical and sociological analysis of the transi-
rounding him as a prophetic figure and increased the popular
tion of the group from a popular movement to a church,
appeal of his charismatic movement. Between 1924 and
spanning the years 1921-1981. Includes discussions of the
1930, Belgian colonial authorities continued overt attempts
group’s origin, changing organizational structure, distribu-
to suppress the movement. Kimbangu’s principal followers
tion throughout the region, and relations with the colonial
were imprisoned at Lowa, and others were confined over the
and postindependence governments.
years in thirty detention centers spread throughout the coun-
Chomé, Jules. La passion de Simon Kimbangu. Brussels, 1959. An
account of the life and trial of Kimbangu by a Belgian lawyer
try. The Kimbanguist church estimates that there were
who studied the legal documents in detail. Parallels Kim-
37,000 exiles, of whom 34,000 died in prison between 1921
bangu’s arrest and sentencing to the Passion of Jesus and out-
and 1956. Recent scholarship, however, has established that
lines the legal irregularities of Kimbangu’s trial.
this figure resulted from a typographical error in a newspaper
MacGaffey, Wyatt. Modern Kongo Prophets: Religion in a Plural
article; the official exile and imprisonment figure was closer
Society. Bloomington, Ind., 1983. An analysis of prophetism
to 2,148. Although Kimbanguist detainees were isolated and
among the Kongo, including a detailed discussion of Kim-
kept under martial surveillance, the policy of detention even-
banguism and related offshoot movements in the context of
tually led to the spread of the Kimbanguist movement in var-
local cultural history and traditions.
ious regions of the Belgian Congo.
Martin, Marie-Louise. Kirche ohne Weisse. Basel, 1971. Translated
by D. M. Moore as Kimbangu: An African Prophet and His
The movement gained strength, forming itself into a
Church (Oxford, 1975). A history of the Kimbanguist move-
group that became known as the Church of Jesus Christ on
ment in central Africa from 1918 to 1960, with discussions
Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimbangu. Followers
of responses to colonial authority, doctrine and ritual of the
were called ngunza (“prophets” or “preachers”). Kimbanguist
movement, and political attitudes of the followers. Contains
offshoots, such as Salutism and Mpadism, and other mani-
a comprehensive bibliography on the Kimbanguist move-
festations of Kimbangu’s influence appeared throughout the
ment up to 1970.
region among populations with whom Kimbangu never had
Sinda, Martial. Le messianisme congolais et ses incidences politiques:
direct contact.
Kimbanguisme, matsouaisme, autres mouvements. Paris, 1972.
This book presents a comparative analysis of Kongo messian-
Between 1955 and 1957, Kimbangu’s movement expe-
ic movements as forms of religious protest. The author raises
rienced a renewal and continued to spread throughout the
many interesting questions concerning leadership in pro-
Belgian Congo. After the prophet’s death, his youngest son,
phetic groups and the history and motivations of African
Kuntima (Joseph) Diangienda, assumed leadership of the
prophets and religious leaders in the context of the colonial
church in accordance with Kimbangu’s wishes. He formal-
ized its doctrine, sacraments, and egalitarian organizational
structure. In 1969, the Kimbanguist church was admitted to
the World Council of Churches, and in 1971, it was pro-
claimed as one of the four officially recognized ecclesiastical
KIMH:I, DAVID (c. 1160–c. 1235), known by the acro-
bodies in the newly formed nation of Zaire. By the end of
nym RaDaK (Rabbi David Kimh:i), was a biblical exegete.
the 1980s there were nearly four million Kimbanguists in
David was the son of Yosef Kimh:i and the brother of
Mosheh Kimh:i, exiles from Almohad Spain to Narbonne,
Simon Kimbangu’s direct and indirect influence on Af-
where David was born. Both Yosef and Mosheh, David’s
rican prophetic movements has been far-reaching. The Kim-
principal teacher, were grammarians and exegetes of note,
banguist church is one of the most extensively documented
heavily influenced by contemporary Hispano-Jewish ratio-
African religious groups. It is possible to view the history and
nalism. David was the best-known graduate of the school of
transformation of the Kimbanguist church as a prototype for
exegetes that the elder Kimh:is founded in Narbonne, a city
many contemporary African religious groups that have made
whose tradition of biblical studies had been established by
the transition from grass-roots movements to established
the eleventh-century Mosheh the Preacher.
Kimh:i was the author of a masoretic guide, the EEt sofer
(Scribe’s pen); the Sefer ha-shorashim (Book of roots), a dic-
tionary of biblical Hebrew; and the Mikhol (Compendium),
Andersson, Effraim. Messianic Popular Movements in the Lower
the most authoritative Hebrew grammar of the Middle Ages.
Congo. Uppsala, 1958. A historical account of Kimbanguism
However, he is chiefly known for his biblical commentaries,
and other prophetic movements in the Lower Kongo; ana-
which include expositions on Genesis, the Former and Latter
lyzes the history of religious protest in the area and describes
Kimbanguism as a messianic movement in the context of off-
Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, and Chronicles. He also wrote two
shoot and related groups arising between the 1930s and the
allegorical commentaries, employing Maimonidean philo-
sophical concepts, on the Hexaemeron (chapters 1 and 2 of
Genesis) and the chariot vision of Ezekiel.
Asch, Susan. L’église du prophète Kimbangu: De ses origines à son
rôle actual au Zaïre. Paris, 1983. A comprehensive study of
Kimh:i’s commentaries evince great interest in masoretic
the growth and development of the Kimbanguist church.
questions, and he traveled considerable distances to consult
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

reliable manuscripts such as the Sefer Yerushalmi in Saragossa
New Sources
and the Sefer Hilleli in Toledo. His avowed aim was to follow
Bartelmus, Rüdiger. “‘Prima la Lingua, Poi le Parole’: David Kim-
the twelfth-century Andalusian grammarian Avraham ibn
chi und die Frage der hebräischen Tempora: sprachwissen-
EEzraD and his own father and brother in establishing a peshat:
schaftliche und exegetische Überlegungen zu IISam 14,5b
(“plain sense”) based on philological and contextual analysis.
und 15,34a.” Theologische Zeitschrift 53 (1997): 7–16.
His extensive knowledge of rabbinic Hebrew, Aramaic, and
Grunhaus, Naomi. “The Dependence of Rabbi David Kimhi
Provençal, as well as his acquaintance with Arabic, contribut-
(Radak) on Rashi in His Quotation of Midrashic Tradi-
ed to his explication of the text. Concern for internal syntax
tions.” Jewish Quarterly Review 93 (2003): 415–430.
within verses and for the general sequence of the biblical nar-
Katz, Ben Zion. “Kimchi and Tanhum ben Joseph Hayerushalmi
rative became the hallmark of his commentaries. Yet despite
on Chronicles.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 26 (1998): 45–51.
Kimh:i’s emphasis on peshat:, he cited abundant midrashim,
or rabbinic interpretations—some because he felt them use-
Revised Bibliography
ful in explicating the plain sense, some as a foil against which
he could highlight the peshat:, and some to add interest and
liveliness to his text. His rationalism frequently comes to the
fore in brief digressions on the nature of providence, prophe-
KING, MARTIN LUTHER, JR. (1929–1968), was
cy, epistemology, and the rationales for observance of the
a Baptist minister and civil rights leader. The son and grand-
commandments. He generally explained miracles naturalisti-
son of Baptist preachers, Martin Luther King, Jr., was born
cally. Although the influence of SaEadyah Gaon, Avraham
into a middle-class black family in Atlanta, Georgia. As an
ibn EEzraD, and Yehudah ha-Levi can clearly be felt, the domi-
adolescent, King grew concerned about racial and economic
nant tone of his work was set by Maimonides.
inequality in American society. Sociology classes at More-
house College taught him to view racism and poverty as re-
Kimh:i demonstrated his loyalty to Maimonides when,
lated aspects of social evil, and reading Henry David Tho-
in his seventies, he journeyed across Languedoc and Spain
reau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849) convinced him that
to defend Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed when that
resistance to an unjust system was a moral duty. At More-
work came under attack by traditionalist Jews during the so-
house, King decided to become a minister, and after gradua-
called Maimonidean controversy. He engaged in external po-
tion he enrolled at Crozier Theological Seminary to study di-
lemics as well, and a number of anti-Christological and anti-
vinity. There he acquired from Walter Rauschenbusch’s
Christian remarks can be found in his writings. Many of
Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) the conviction that
these were censored and survive only in manuscript. Kimh:i’s
the Christian churches have an obligation to work for social
depiction of exile and redemption in terms of darkness and
justice. In Mohandas Gandhi’s practice of nonviolent resis-
light—a theme he developed at length—was prompted by
tance he discovered a tactic for transforming Christian love
his sensitivity to the tribulations of Israel brought about by
from a merely personal to a social ethic.
internal division and external oppression.
King’s interest in theology, philosophy, and social ethics
Because of its accessibility, Kimh:i’s work left an indel-
led him to enter the graduate program at Boston University
ible mark on that of the Hebraists and humanists of the Re-
School of Theology, where he earned a Ph.D. degree and de-
naissance and Reformation, and its influence on the King
veloped his own philosophical position based upon the tenet
James Version of the Bible is unmistakable.
that “only personality—finite and infinite—is ultimately
real.” In Boston, he met and courted Coretta Scott, and in
1953 they were wed. A year later, King accepted a call to be
pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery,
An intellectual biography and analysis of Kimh:i’s exegesis is my
Alabama. Chosen by E. D. Nixon, president of the Mont-
David Kimhi: The Man and the Commentaries (Cambridge,
gomery National Association for the Advancement of Col-
Mass., 1975), which contains a complete bibliography up to
ored People, to lead a boycott of the city’s segregated buses,
the date of publication. His philological work is analyzed in
he gained national recognition when the boycott resulted in
David Kimchi’s Hebrew Grammar (Mikhlol), translated and
a Supreme Court decision that declared laws requiring segre-
edited by William Chomsky (Philadelphia, 1952). Specific
themes are treated in the following articles by me: “R. David
gated seating on buses unconstitutional.
Kimhi as Polemicist,” Hebrew Union College Annual 38
Following the Montgomery bus boycott, King founded
(1967): 213–235; “David Kimhi and the Rationalist Tradi-
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to
tion,” Hebrew Union College Annual 39 (1968): 177–218;
coordinate scattered civil rights activities and local organiza-
and “David Kimhi and the Rationalist Tradition: 2, Literary
tions. Operating primarily through the black churches, the
Sources,” in Studies in Jewish Bibliography, History, and Liter-
ature in Honor of I. Edward Kiev,
edited by Charles Berlin
SCLC mounted successive attacks against segregation in the
(New York, 1971), pp. 453–478. Much detailed data in tab-
early 1960s. Public demonstrations, especially in the South,
ular form can be found in Ezra Zion Melamed’s Mefarshei
dramatized for the nation the violence of white segregation-
ha-miqra D: Darkheihem ve-shitot:eihem, vol. 2 (Jerusalem,
ists in contrast to the nonviolence of black demonstrators.
1975), pp. 716–932.
Although immediate gains at the local level were often mini-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

mal, King’s strategy drew national attention to the racial
discusses the concept of the kingdom of God in postbiblical
problem, awakened moral concern in many, pressured the
Judaism, the New Testament, and the history of the Chris-
federal government to act, and helped gain passage of legisla-
tian church, together with its antecedents in the ancient Near
tion protecting the rights of blacks to vote and desegregating
East, Israel, and Greece.
public accommodations. As the most eloquent speaker of the
movement, King moved thousands to commit themselves to
civil rights as both a moral and a political issue. For his non-
AND GREECE. Although the notion of divine kingship is de-
fined in human political terms, it is not a mere projection
violent activism, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
of human kingship onto a divine realm. Rather, the succes-
Against the arguments of militants, King maintained
sive phrases in which this notion occurs show that divine
that nonviolence was the only practical and moral means for
kingship was understood as transcending and rejecting
African Americans to achieve equality. Violence would bring
human kingship.
only more violence; nonviolence might convert the racist’s
conscience. Linking the cause of African Americans to the
“King of the gods.” This phrase implies sovereignty
struggle for independence of colonized peoples worldwide,
over the created order. In a pantheon, one god can emerge
King opposed the Vietnam War and condemned interna-
as supreme (1) through political shifts, as does, for example,
tional violence.
Enlil, the tutelary god of Sumerian Nippur, who becomes
“lord, god, king . . . the judge . . . of the universe” (J. B.
While organizing a “poor people’s campaign” to per-
Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old
suade Congress to take action on poverty, King accepted an
Testament, 3d ed. with supp., Princeton, 1969, p. 575); (2)
invitation to participate in marches for striking sanitation
through syncretism in favor of a solar deity such as Shamash
workers in Memphis, Tennessee. There, on April 4, 1968,
(Pritchard, p. 387) or the Egyptian deity Amun-Re, who is
he was assassinated. Considered a modern prophet by many,
the chief, lord, and father of the gods as well as creator of
King ranks with Gandhi as a major ethical leader of the twen-
life (Pritchard, pp. 365–366); or (3) through the acclamation
tieth century.
of one god as king by the others for his victory over the pow-
ers of chaos. This final form of acquiring sovereignty springs
from a widespread mythical pattern illustrated in the texts
Works by King
of four ancient societies.
The best introduction to King’s own version of his goals and val-
ues is Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (New
Babylon. The creation epic Enuma elish, recited at the
York, 1958), which contains a chapter explaining his intel-
spring New Year festival, describes the victory of Marduk
lectual development in the midst of an eyewitness descrip-
over the sea monster Tiamat, from whose body Marduk
tion of the bus boycott. Strength to Love (New York, 1963)
creates heaven and earth. Even before the contest the other
is a collection of sermons. Why We Can’t Wait (New York,
gods proclaim, “We have granted you kingship [sharruta]
1964) includes “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” one of King’s
over the universe entire” (4.14), and “Marduk is king!”
most cogent justifications of his philosophy of nonviolent di-
(4.28). After the battle, the gods ratify these proclamations
rect action. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Communi-
and give Marduk the chief of his fifty Sumerian titles, “king
ty? (New York, 1967) outlines his detailed program for social
of the gods of heaven and the underworld” (5.112).
justice in the United States.
Works about King
Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria). Although the god
Of the many biographical sketches, the best critical treatment is
El is routinely addressed as king in this literature (Pritchard,
David L. Lewis’s King: A Biography, 2d ed. (Urbana, Ill.,
pp. 133 and 140), Baal is elevated to kingship after his victo-
1978). Stephen B. Oates’s biography, Let the Trumpet Sound:
ry over Yam, “Prince Sea.” The craftsman-god tells Baal,
The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York, 1982), is fac-
“Now you will cut off your adversary, you will take your eter-
tually more complete but lacks interpretive analysis. Martin
nal kingship [mlk ’lmk], your everlasting dominion” (Prit-
Luther King, Jr.: A Profile, edited by C. Eric Lincoln (New
chard, p. 131); and goddesses tell El, “Baal is our king
York, 1970), is a collection of insightful evaluations of King
[mlkn], our judge, and there is none above him” (Pritchard,
and his role in the civil rights movement. John Ansbro’s
pp. 133 and 138).
Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind (Maryknoll,
N.Y., 1982) is a valuable explication of King’s thought.
Greece. In the Homeric poems, Zeus is called the “father
of gods and men” and is once called the “highest and best
of the gods” (Odyssey 19.303). In Hesiod’s Theogony (700
BCE?), Zeus leads the Olympian gods in battle against the Ti-
tans, who include Chaos (v. 700) and the dragon Typhoeus.
KINGDOM OF GOD. Among the central concepts
Hesiod recounts that after the battle, “the blessed gods, at
of the great religions, that of the kingdom of God may be
the urging of Earth [Gaia], requested far-seeing Zeus to reign
the most hopeful, for while it recognizes the reality of death
and rule over them” (i. e., as basileus and anax, vv. 881–885).
and injustice, it affirms that a just and living transcendent
It is from this victory over the Titans that Zeus acquires the
reality is entering history and transforming it. This article
title “king of the gods” (v. 886). Similarly, in Pindar’s Sev-
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enth Olympian Ode (464 BCE), Zeus is called “great king of
comes “my king” (Ps. 5:3ff.); in an indefinite future, Yahveh
the gods” (v. 34).
as king will regather dispersed Israel (Ez. 20:33) and reign
in Jerusalem (Is. 24:23, Mi. 4:7; cf. Is. 52:7–10).
Israel. In the face of Israel’s ostensible monotheism, a
group of other gods, called benei Elim (lit., “sons of gods”),
“Kingship from heaven.” This Babylonian phrase in-
is also acknowledged. These gods, however, are not like the
troduces various concepts of the divine sovereignty in the
one God (who in this context always has the name whose
state. Hammurabi in the prologue to his laws (c. 1700 BCE)
consonants are YHVH, conventionally transcribed “Yah-
tells how Anu established for Marduk an “enduring sover-
veh,” Ps. 89:5–8); they must ascribe glory to him (Ps. 29:1),
eignty” over the world. At first, the Babylonian myth Etana
for it was Yahveh who crushed the sea-monster of chaos,
states, “the people had not set up a king”; but later “kingship
Rahab (Ps. 89:10), or Leviathan (Ps. 74:13–14). And in
descended from heaven” (Pritchard, p. 114). Although the
Psalms 95:3, Yahveh is given the same title that Pindar gives
concept of kingship as bestowed from the divine realm served
Zeus, “a great king above all gods.”
to legitimate the state in Mesopotamia, in Zoroastrianism it
provided an alternative to the state. One of the aspects of
“Yahveh is king.” This phrase implies sovereignty over
Ahura Mazda¯ is Khshathra, who combines the ideas of divine
the people of Israel. In the historical books of Israel, the king-
and human “kingship.” In Yasna 44.7, kingship is presented
ship of Yahveh is cited solely to refute the claims of human
as his creation along with A¯rmaiti (“piety”); Yasna 33.10
kings (1 Sm. 8:7, 12:2; cf. Jgs. 8:23). The concept is most
speaks of “kingship and justice [asha]” in parallel just as Mat-
fully developed in the Book of Psalms, the dating of which
thew 6:33 does in the New Testament. But the prophetic Zo-
is problematic; however, Isaiah’s vision of Yahveh as king (Is.
roastrian sense of kingship is co-opted for political ends by
6:5) shows that this was a living belief in 742 BCE. In a com-
Darius, who begins his Behistun inscription (520
pact group of Psalms, Yahveh is called “king” (melekh) or is
BCE), “I am
Darius, the Great King, King of Kings . . . Ahura Mazda¯
made the subject of the corresponding verb malakh (Ps. 93:1,
bestowed the kingship upon me” (cited in Roland G. Kent’s
96:10, 97:1, 99:1). These Psalms display a unique cluster of
Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, 2d ed., New Haven,
motifs associated with Yahveh’s kingship: (1) his theophany
1953, p. 119).
in lightning or earthquake over Lebanon (Ps. 29) and else-
where (Ps. 97, 99); (2) his supremacy over other gods who
There are hints of such a semi-autonomous kingship in
bow down to him or are reduced to “idols” (Ps. 29, 95–97,
Stoicism, as in Epictetus’s notion of the “kingship” (basileia)
47:2 in some texts); (3) his entrance into his holy place (Ps.
of the philosopher (Arrian, Epictetus 3.22.76). But the prin-
24) or ascent to his throne (Ps. 47; cf. Ps. 93, 97); (4) his
cipal inheritor in the West of the concept of a quasi-
act of creation (Ps. 24, 95, 96), portrayed as a conquest of
independent divine kingship was later biblical Judaism.
great waters (Ps. 29, 33), where the personified elements sing
Psalms 22.28 affirms that “kingship [melukhah] belongs to
a new song (Ps. 96, 98) and the floods, now beneficent, “clap
Yahveh.” The editor who wrote 1 Chronicles 28:5 replaced
their hands” (Ps. 98:8); (5) his sovereignty over other nations
the kingship (mamlekhet) of David and Solomon, which he
or over all the earth (Ps. 47, 96, 98); and (6) his future com-
found in his source, 1 Kings 9:5, by substituting the divine
ing to judge the earth (Ps. 96, 98) as he has previously come
malkhut. Echoing an Ugaritic theme, Psalms 145:11–13 pro-
to Israel (Ps. 99:4).
claims, “thy kingship is a kingship of all the ages.” This
theme is developed in Daniel: “The God of heaven will set
Sigmund Mowinckel, in his Psalmenstudien (2 vols.,
up an everlasting kingdom” (Dn. 2:44; cf. Dn. 4:3), which
Oslo, 1921–1924), searching for a liturgical occasion for
is to be handed over to one who is “like a son of man”
these psalms in the Temple, boldly hypothesized a festival
(Dn. 7:14ff.) or to “the people of the saints of the Most
of Yahveh’s enthronement, a Thronbesteigungsfest, which he
High” (Dn. 7:27).
assigned to the autumn feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) on the
basis of 1 Kings 8:2 (cf. Zec. 14:16). This theory, much devel-
Among the Covenanters of Qumran it was believed that
oped by Scandinavian and British scholars, assumed that the
the “covenant of the kingship” (berit malkhut) over God’s
king dramatically enacted the role of Yahveh in conquering
people was given to David and his descendants for ever (Ed-
chaos and the nations, in the god’s enthronement, and, per-
mund Lohse, Die Texte aus Qumran, Munich, 1964,
haps, even in a mock death, resurrection, and sacred mar-
p. 247). The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha sometimes as-
riage. But Roland de Vaux, in his Ancient Israel (vol. 2, New
cribe the kingship to a Messiah (which may, however, be a
York, 1965, pp. 502–506), finds no evidence for such a festi-
Christian interpolation); for example, the Syriac Apocalypse
val. And while the theme of Yahveh’s entrance to the holy
of Baruch affirms that the “anointed one” will sit “in eternal
place or ascent to his throne suggests a Temple liturgy,
peace on the throne of his kingship” (73:1).
Psalms 132:8 suggests that the god was represented in this
“King of kings.” This phrase indicates first human,
liturgy by the ark rather than by the king.
then divine, sovereignty over earthly kingships. It was first
As the contrast between these affirmations of divine
applied to human rulers annexing vassal kingships. It was
kingship and Israel’s state of exile (587/6–538 BCE) became
standard among Old Persian royal inscriptions (cf. Ezra
too great, the concept is split up between present and future.
7:12), and it is ascribed to the Babylonian king Nebucha-
In the present, God’s kingship is individualized and he be-
drezzar by Ezekiel 26:7 and Daniel 2:37 (but not by cunei-
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form sources). The Romans knew it as a Parthian title. Plu-
Another set of texts portrays the coming sovereignty of
tarch writes that Pompey refused the title to the Parthian
God as wholly universal. In the Mekhilta D de-Rabbi Yish-
king (Pompey 38.2) and that Antony called his sons by Cleo-
ma EeDl (Jacob Z. Lauterbach, trans., 3 vols., Philadelphia,
patra “kings of kings” (Antony 54.4).
1933, vol. 2, p. 159) one reads: “At the time when idolatry
shall be uprooted . . . and the Place [Maqom, ‘God’] shall
In Stoicism and the Judeo-Christian tradition, this title
be recognized throughout the world as the One, then will
is transferred to the God who rules over all human kingship.
his kingship be established for the age of the ages of ages.”
Cleanthes, in his Hymn to Zeus (270 BCE), names the abstract
The Aramaic Targums, which regularly translate “The Lord
god of Stoicism “Zeus” and calls him “highest king”; a later
will reign” as “The kingship [malkhut] will be revealed” (e.g.,
Stoic gave him the Persian title “great king of kings” (Dio
Is. 24:23; Ex. 15:18), twice attribute the kingship to the Mes-
Chrysostom 2.75). Yahveh is called “God of gods and Lord
siah: The Targum on Micah 4:7–8 states that “to you, O
of lords” in Deuteronomy 10:17—conceivably a late enough
Messiah of Israel, hidden because of the sins of the congrega-
text to be under Babylonian-Persian influence. Once in
tion of Zion, the kingship is to come,” and the Targum on
Greek Judaism God appears as “king of kings” (2 Maccabees
Isaiah 53:10 affirms that God’s people, after being purified
13:4). Rabbi EAqavyaD (c. 60 CE) expanded the title to under-
from sin, “shall look upon the kingship of their Messiah.”
line God’s claim over the highest of earthly monarchies,
teaching that humans are to give account “before the King
of the kings of kings” (Mishna Avot 3.1). These usages are
kingdom [basileia] of God” is the sole general phrase express-
combined in Revelation 19:16 and 17:14 where the victori-
ing the object of Jesus’ proclamation. (In Matthew it mostly
ous Christ is proclaimed “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
appears as “kingdom of heaven,” probably as an artificial res-
The title became the rallying point for simple Christians to
toration of the rabbinic usage.) His affirmations about this
reject the divine status of the Roman emperor; thus the Afri-
kingdom are the unifying thread on which all his other say-
can martyr Speratus (180 CE) before a Roman proconsul
ings are strung.
confessed “my Lord, the Emperor of kings and of all peoples”
(dominum meum, imperatorem regum et omnium gentium;
Jesus’ contemporaries shared with the rabbinic tradition
text in Herbert Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs,
at least a political coloration of the concept: Thus Acts 1:6
Oxford, 1972, no. 6).
represents disciples asking the risen Jesus, “Will you at this
time restore the kingdom to Israel?” But the gospel narratives
“Kingship of heaven.” In the rabbinic tradition this
that presuppose Jesus’ most characteristic ideas already in the
phrase expresses an understanding of the universal sovereign-
minds of others, such as John the Baptist (Mt. 3:2), Joseph
ty of God, future and/or eternal. The rabbis saw Exodus
of Arimathea (Mk. 15:43), the Pharisees (Lk. 17:20), or the
15:18 (“Yahveh will reign for ever and ever”) as the recogni-
disciples (Mt. 18:1, Lk. 14:15), are unsupported by the rab-
tion that established God’s kingship on earth (Exodus Rab-
binic texts and are probably the work of the evangelists.
bah 23.1). As the sovereignty assigned to the God of Israel
grew, his name was replaced by the term heaven. The obliga-
In the sayings of Jesus, the “kingdom of God” replaces
tion to recite the Shema’ twice daily is called “taking on the
the state of affairs that he calls “this generation”; for they are
yoke of the kingship of heaven [ Eol malkhut shamayim]”
given exactly parallel introductions. Over against the obdu-
(Mishna Berakhoth 2.2); Rabbi EAqivaD ben Yosef did so dur-
rate “men of this generation” (Lk. 7:31–34), the kingdom
ing his execution under Hadrian (135 CE, Babylonian Tal-
of God grows from its tiny hidden beginnings like a man’s
mud Bera-khot 61b). Eventually the recognition of the divine
mustard seed or a woman’s leaven (Lk. 13:18–21). Into the
sovereignty by Jews alone seemed to the rabbis insufficient:
present “faithless” and “adulterous” generation (Mk. 9:19,
Thus the great universalistic prayer EAlenu of RoDsh ha-
Mt. 12:29) there has broken a new historical reality. Four
Shanah has the petition that all the inhabitants of the world
types of sayings each illustrate one dimension of Jesus’ vision:
“should accept the yoke of thy kingdom; and do thou reign
(1) the kingdom as subject of verbs of coming; (2) the king-
over them speedily and forever; for the kingship is thine, and
dom as object of verbs of entering; (3) the kingdom as object
forever wilt thou reign in glory.”
of search or struggle; (4) “in the kingdom of God” in the
context of a banquet. (But the extended parables of Matthew
One set of rabbinic texts partially identifies the divine
are mostly omitted here, because their introduction “The
kingship with Israel’s political autonomy. Rabbi Ayyvu (c.
kingdom of heaven is like . . .” seems editorial rather than
320 CE) said: “Formerly the kingship was vested in Israel, but
when they sinned it was taken from them and given to the
other nations. . . . But tomorrow when Israel repents, God
“The Kingdom of God is at hand.” Here is implied
will take it from the idolaters, and the kingship shall be to
a preliminary but decisive victory over injustice and death.
the Lord” (Esther Rabbah). The fortunes of Israel are seen by
In the first group of sayings, the kingdom of God is pres-
the rabbis as coloring universal history: Thus the Midrash on
ented as a quasi-autonomous reality whose arrival is being
Psalm 99 states, “As long as the children of Israel are in exile,
announced. In Mark 1:15 the expression “The kingdom of
the kingship of heaven is not at peace and the nations of the
God is at hand” is placed, perhaps editorially, as a motto or
earth dwell unperturbed.”
summary over Jesus’ entire work.
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The Lord’s Prayer. This prayer contains the petitions
Gerd Theissen (Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity,
“Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come” (Lk. 11:2, Mt.
John Bowden, trans., Philadelphia, 1978, p. 99) concludes:
6:9). They echo the Qaddish, the oldest Aramaic part of the
“The best description of the functional outline of the Jesus
synagogue liturgy: “Magnified and sanctified be his great
movement for overcoming social tensions is an interpreta-
name in the world which he created according to his will.
tion of it as a contribution towards containing and overcom-
And may he establish his kingdom [yamlikh malkhuteh] dur-
ing aggression.” Later, Jesus’ criterion is reformulated with
ing your life and during your days and during the life of the
increasing degrees of legalism: To enter the kingdom of God
house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time.” The Qad-
one must keep two great commandments (Mk. 12:34); show
dish plainly includes a covert petition for the political inde-
persistence (Lk. 9:62); do the will of God (Mt. 7:21); serve
pendence of Israel. And both texts by implication are asking
the Christ hidden in the poor (Mt. 25:34); have a higher
for an end to those crimes against persons that are described
righteousness (Mt. 5:20); and avoid certain listed sins (1 Cor.
in the Hebrew Bible as a “profanation” of God’s name: debt-
6:9–10, Gal. 5:21).
slavery and prostitution (Amos 2:6–8), enslavement (Jer.
The kingdom of God as object of search or struggle.
34:14–16), and murder (Lev. 18:21).
A third group of sayings defines the kingdom of God as the
Victory over dark powers. In Luke 11:20 Jesus pro-
highest object of desire. Although certain forces “lock up the
claims, “But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, then
kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 23:13), the reader is told “seek first
the kingdom of God has come upon you.” What is asked for
God’s kingdom and all these shall be added to you” (Lk.
in the Lord’s Prayer is here announced as already operative.
21:31; cf. Mt. 6:33). The kingdom is symbolized by the
Jesus instructed his missionaries to “heal those who are sick
“treasure hidden in a field” and the “pearl of great price” (Mt.
and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near you’”
13:44–46). But the nature of the “mystery of the kingdom
(Lk. 10:9). Proofs that the kingdom has broken into history
of God” is left unexplained at Mark 4:11; and Paul only
are the healing of sickness, often of psychosomatic types of
vaguely suggests with the expression “fellow workers for the
sickness, and victory over the destructive social forces called
kingdom of God” (Col. 4:11) the modern idea that the king-
“demons,” such as Legion, so named as a sign of military op-
dom can be promoted by human energy.
pression (Mk. 5:9), and Mammon (Lk. 16:13). God’s “fin-
“In the kingdom of God.” This phrase in a fourth
ger” is the creative force by which the heavens were made (Ps.
group of sayings is always used in connection with a banquet
8:3), oppressors overthrown (Ex. 8:19), and the Law given
at the end of time. When Jesus affirms, “I shall no more
(Ex. 31:18). No less a power, Jesus implies, could do what
drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it
has already been done through him; hence God’s sovereignty
new in the kingdom of God” (Mk. 14:25), he implies that
has already broken into history.
the kingdom can only come in through his suffering. The
“To enter the kingdom of God.” A second group of
greatest and least in the kingdom are paradoxically reversed
sayings defines the condition for entering the kingdom: be-
(Mt. 5:19, 18:4; Lk. 7:28 and Mt. 11:11) as in the parable
coming like the poor. Jesus expresses the condition negative-
of the banquet (Mt. 22:2–14, Lk. 14:16–24). The final event
ly: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
will be inaugurated by the apostles: To them Jesus says, “I
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk.
bequeath you as my Father bequeathed me a kingdom, that
10:25). He also expresses it positively: “Allow the children
you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit
to come to me and do not forbid them, for of such is the
on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:29–30;
kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:14–15; cf. Mt. 18:13–14, Jn.
cf. Mt. 19:28).
3:3–5). With far-reaching irony he says, “The tax collectors
At the inauguration of the banquet, Jesus says, there will
and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Mt.
be a final division of humanity “when you see Abraham . . .
21:31). The kingdom of God is further reserved for the
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you your-
handicapped (Mk. 9:47), the persecuted (Mt. 5:10), and
selves cast out; and they shall come from the east and the
those in tribulation (Acts 14:22). The rabbinic background
west . . . and recline in the kingdom of God” (Lk. 13:28–
for these sayings is the concept of “the coming age”
29; cf. Mt. 8:11–12). Two themes are combined in this text:
(ha- Eolam ha-baD): “Master, teach us the paths of life so that
the pilgrimage of all peoples to Jerusalem (Is. 49:12, etc.) to-
through them we may win the life of the coming age”
wards the “house of prayer for all peoples” (Is. 56:7); and the
(B.T., Ber. 28b).
banquet described in Isaiah 25:6–9, which ends with the ar-
The link among these groups is a deep structure of Jesus’
chaic Ugaritic motif of Yahveh swallowing up death forever.
thought underlying Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain.” The beat-
itude “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of
his gospel and in the Acts when writing narrative regularly
God” (Lk. 6:20) shows that possession of the kingdom is the
speaks of “preaching the good news of the kingdom of God.”
coming reward for the poor, hungry, and mourning. The
Paul inherits the phrase “kingdom of God” in fixed phrases
saying “Love your enemies . . . and your reward will be
from the gospel tradition; the structural parallel that plays
great” (Lk. 6:35) shows that the characteristic of this ideal
the same role as the kingdom in his thought is the “righ-
poor is love of enemies, that is, nonretaliation to evil. Hence
teousness [dikaiosune] of God.” The remaining letters of the
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New Testament, where, as Rudolf Bultmann says, Jesus “the
dom,” a pacatissimum regnum (City of God 20.9). When he
Proclaimer becomes the one proclaimed” by the church,
goes on then to say that “the church even now is the king-
mostly speak of the kingdom of Christ. In the writings of the
dom of Christ and the kingdom of heaven” he does not
Greek church fathers the notion of the kingdom of God loses
imply it is that already perfected.
any sociopolitical connotation and is seen as the state of im-
Two kingdoms in Luther. In the High Middle Ages,
mortality or the beatific vision as entered through baptism.
Hugh of Saint-Victor (1096–1141) crystallized Augustine’s
But in his commentary on Matthew 14:7 (244 CE), Origen
two cities unambiguously into the “spiritual power” of the
coins a word that contains much of the original sense: As
church and the “secular power” of the state, with the church
Christ is “wisdom itself, righteousness itself and truth itself,”
in theory superior and in practice subservient. Martin Luther
so is he also “the kingdom itself” (autobasileia).
restored the New Testament term “kingdom of God” (Reich
The development of the concept of the kingdom of God
Gottes) but placed over against it a “kingdom of the world”
occurred primarily in the church of the West. In the thought
(Reich der Welt). God’s kingdom is one of grace and mercy;
of the Latin theologians and the official Reformation, it
the world’s kingdom, one of wrath and severity (Martin Lu-
served to legitimate the state through Augustine’s doctrine
ther, Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Saint Louis, 1955–1976,
of two cities and Luther’s of two kingdoms. The Enlighten-
46.69, 30.76). In Luther’s On Temporal Authority (1523) the
ment, while discovering the primacy of the kingdom of God
children of Adam are divided between the two kingdoms
in Jesus’ thought, tried to accommodate it to rational catego-
(Works, 45.88). The sayings “Render to Caesar what is Cae-
ries. It was the radical Reformation that most fully recovered
sar’s” (Mk. 12:17) and “The powers that be are ordained of
Jesus’ original understanding, and that transmitted the most
God” (Rom. 13:1) carry great weight for Luther (Works
vital form of the concept to contemporary Christian believers
45.99)—in part because of his dependence on the German
princes for protection against Rome. Only when a political
leader gives false religious commands does Luther permit the
Two cities, two kingdoms. These concepts served to
stance expressed in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather
accommodate the church to the state. In his City of God
than men” (Works 45.111).
(413–426 CE), Augustine developed his grandiose contrast
between the civitas Dei, with a biblical basis in Psalms 87:3
In a sermon of 1544, Luther boldly defined the two
and 46:5, and the civitas terrena, the “earthly city,” with no
kingdoms as distinct operations of the one God:
biblical antecedent. This work laid a basis for relations be-
The worldly government [das weltlich Regiment] also
tween church and state that was not decisively challenged
may be called God’s kingdom. For he wills that it
until the resistance to Hitler by the German Confessing
should remain and that we should enter it; but it is only
the kingdom with his left hand [nur des reych mit der
lincken hand
]. But his right-hand kingdom [rechtes
Augustine’s concept of the earthly city is especially am-
reych], where he himself rules, and is called neither . . .
biguous. Sometimes (e.g., Sermons 214.11) he identifies the
Kaiser nor king . . . but rather is himself, is that where
city of God with the historical church and attributes to the
the Gospel is preached to the poor. (D. Martin Luthers
earthly city aspects of the state; here he has a predecessor in
Werke, Weimar, 1883–, 52.26; cf. 36.385)
the rabbinic parallelism of the “kingdom [malkhut] of the
Luther calls these two operations of God his “alien” and
earth” and the “kingdom of the firmament” (B.T. Ber. 58a),
“proper” work (opus alienum, proprium; cf. Is. 28:21 Vul-
and in one interpretation of Jesus’ saying about the “things
gate). In an early sermon of 1516 he maintains, “since God
of Caesar” and “things of God” (Mk. 12:17). Elsewhere for
could justify only those who are not just, he is forced before
Augustine the city of God is the society of the redeemed, and
his proper work of justification to carry out an alien work
the earthly city is the society of the devil; here the good and
in order to make sinners” (Works 51:19; cf. 33.140).
evil principles of the Manichaeism that Augustine previously
Sometimes Luther opposed to God’s kingdom not the
embraced resurface.
kingdom of the world but Satan’s kingdom (Works 33.227).
While Augustine’s language about church and kingdom
Unlike Augustine he closely integrates the devil’s work with
fluctuates, his underlying thought is consistent. His pre-
the work of God. On Hebrews 2:14, Luther comments: “God
decessor Cyprian saw both distinction and continuity be-
pierced the adversary with that one’s weapon . . . and so
tween present church and future kingdom: “One who aban-
completes his proper work with an alien work” (Works
dons the church which is to reign [regnatura est] cannot enter
29.135). While he protests that “God does not wish us like
the kingdom [regnum]” (On the Unity of the Church 14). So
the Manichaeans to imagine two gods, one the source of
Augustine distinguishes the temporary “inn” of the church
good, the other of evil” (On Psalms 90:16, Works 13.135),
from the permanent “home” of the kingdom (Sermons
Luther comes close to postulating a duality within God, with
131.6). Hence there are two ages of the church, now with
the devil as God’s dark side. Thus he holds that on occasion
a mixture of wheat and tares, in the future transformed into
“God wears the mask [larva] of the devil” (On Galatians
a kingdom without evil. Correspondingly Augustine distin-
5:11, Works 27.43).
guishes two periods of the kingdom: a present “kingdom of
Only one kingdom. The doctrine of “only one king-
militancy” (regnum militiae), and a future “peaceable king-
dom” was the affirmation of the German Confessing church.
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Luther’s scheme of two kingdoms was pushed to an extreme
selves under the common impression,” Reimarus concludes,
in the 1930s by German theologians such as Paul Althaus
he could have had “no other object than to rouse the Jews
and Emanuel Hirsch, who favored National Socialism. In
. . . who had so long been groaning under the Roman
their Zwei-Reiche-Lehre (“doctrine of the two kingdoms”)
yoke.” Thus he sees Jesus as simply a political revolutionary
the state is autonomous over against the church. Opposition
or Zealot.
to this doctrine led to a rethinking of Luther’s position. For
From an opposite, but no less rationalistic, perspective,
example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Ethics (trans. N. H.
Immanuel Kant argued for a universal philosophic interpre-
Smith, London, 1955, p. 62) condemns any thinking about
tation of the kingdom of God. He took the title of the third
God and the world “in terms of two spheres,” especially
book of his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793)
when “in the pseudo-Lutheran scheme the autonomy of the
from the language of Jesus: “The victory of the good over the
orders of the world is proclaimed in opposition to the law
evil principle, and the founding of a kingdom of God on
of Christ.”
earth.” He ends the work by citing the phrase from Luke
During World War II, Karl Barth wrote that the “illuso-
17:22 (“the kingdom of God is in your midst”) in the trans-
ry paganism of the German people” had been confirmed
lation “the kingdom of God is within you,” thus giving the
rather than restrained by the “heritage of the greatest Chris-
saying the “spiritual” interpretation that remains popular:
tian of Germany, by Martin Luther’s error on the relation
“Here a kingdom of God is represented not according to a
between . . . the temporal and spiritual order” (A Letter to
particular covenant (i.e., not messianic) but moral (knowable
Great Britain from Switzerland, London, 1941, p. 36). On
through unassisted reason).”
the one hand Barth uses Luther’s language when he states
Most nineteenth-century German New Testament
that “nothingness” (i.e., evil) is “on the left hand of God as
scholars interpreted the Gospels according to Kant’s presup-
the object of his opus alienum” (Church Dogmatics, trans.
positions. This accommodation, however, collapsed with the
G. T. Thomson et al., 5 vols. in 14, Edinburgh, 1936–1977,
publication in 1892 of the first edition of Johannes Weiss’s
vol. 3, part 3, p. 361). But, contrary to Luther, he emphasizes
Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God (trans. R. H. Hiers,
the uniqueness of God’s kingdom, insisting on the radical
Philadelphia, 1971, p. 130). Weiss concluded that “although
“antithesis of the kingdom of God to all human kingdoms”
Jesus initially hoped to live to see the establishment of the
and also to the “sphere of Satan” (Church Dogmatics 4.2.177,
kingdom of God, he gradually became certain” that he must
2.2.688). “There is no collateral rule [Nebenregierung] side
die first, but that after his death he would “return upon the
by side with [God’s] and no counter-rule opposed to it. He
clouds of heaven at the establishment of the kingdom of
alone can rule, and ought to rule, and wills to rule; and he
God, . . . within the lifetime of the generation which reject-
alone does so” (Church Dogmatics 3.3.157).
ed him.” He frankly recognized that this historical recon-
struction contradicted the “modern Protestant worldview”
Barth’s views were accepted in principle by the newly
that he shared with his contemporaries, because he could not
formed German Confessing church at the Synod of Barmen
take the “eschatological attitude” that the world was passing
(May 31, 1934) in opposition to the Nazi state church. The
away. Likewise, Albert Schweitzer conceived of Jesus as an
fifth thesis of Barmen, drafted by Barth and going beyond
eschatological visionary awaiting an imminent end of the
previous Lutheran or Reformed confessions, says that “the
world. In his The Mystery of the Kingdom of God (1901; trans.
State has by divine appointment the task of providing for jus-
W. L. Lowrie, New York, 1950, p. 55), Schweitzer explained
tice and peace. . . . The Church acknowledges the benefit
the radical demands of the sermon on the mount as an In-
of this appointment. . . . It calls to mind the Kingdom of
terimsethik, too rigorous for normal life, in the brief period
God . . . and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and
before the full establishment of the kingdom.
of the ruled.” The document contains nothing about the na-
ture of the state, much less its alleged status as a parallel king-
A number of twentieth-century scholars defined Jesus’
dom; it refers only to the state’s assigned task (Cochrane,
idea of the kingdom of God as basically completed in his
1962, pp. 192, 241).
own work. Charles Harold Dodd in his The Parables of the
(London, 1935) rejects Schweitzer’s “thoroughgo-
The legacy of the Enlightenment. Here the concept
ing eschatology” and argues that Jesus regarded the kingdom
of the coming of the kingdom of God is accommodated to
of God as having already come. He interprets “the ministry
rational categories. Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–
of Jesus as ‘realized eschatology,’ that is, as the impact upon
1768), in a posthumously published manuscript, was the
this world of the ‘powers of the world to come’” (p. 151).
first modern scholar to recognize that the coming of the
Rudolf Bultmann in his Jesus and the Word (1926; trans.
kingdom of God was Jesus’ central theme (Reimarus: Frag-
L. P. Smith et al., New York, 1934, pp. 52, 131), anticipat-
ments, ed. C. H. Talbert, Philadelphia, 1970, pp. 136–138).
ing his later program of “demythologization,” interprets the
Reimarus presumes that Jesus’ contemporaries expected no
absolute certainty of the coming of the kingdom as a “crisis
other savior “than a worldly deliverer of Israel, who was to
of decision” in which every hour is the last hour. He defines
release them from bondage and build up a glorious worldly
the kingdom as “an eschatological deliverance which ends ev-
kingdom for them.” When to announce his kingdom (Mt.
erything earthly” by confronting the human being with a de-
10:7) Jesus “chose for his messengers men who were them-
cision in crisis as in Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or.”
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Schweitzer laid much weight on the saying in Mark 9:1,
11:6–8: Against a Delaware River landscape the wolf and
“There are some standing here who will not taste death be-
lamb, leopard and kid lie down together, the cow and bear
fore they see the kingdom of God coming with power.” If
feed side by side, and the lion eats straw with the ox; one
this verse is both historically attributed to Jesus and under-
child leads them, another plays on the serpent’s den. In a
stood literally, Jesus will seem to have been in error. There
background vignette William Penn signs his peace treaty
have been many efforts to account for the apparent error. In
with the Indians.
his On Being a Christian (New York, 1978, p. 220), Hans
The popular piety of Hymnody. Even for Luther, when
Küng argues that Jesus’ “apocalyptic horizon,” the expecta-
he turned hymn-writer, the only opposite to God’s kingdom
tion of an immediate end of the world, is “not so much an
can be Satan’s: In Ein feste Burg (1529) God’s opposite is the
error as a time-conditioned . . . worldview which Jesus
“Prince of this world” (John 12:31), and the sole kingdom
shared with his contemporaries.” Erich Grässer, in his Das
is the one we inherit, Das Reich muss uns doch bleiben. The
Problem der Parusieverzögerung in den synoptischen Evangelien
masters of English hymnody, who always attribute the king-
(Berlin, 1960), sees the entire development of the early
dom of Jesus, suffuse it with the social witness Evangelical
church as a response to the “delay of the parousia [i.e., ‘ex-
revival. Thus Isaac Watts in his paraphrase (1719) of the
pected coming’],” citing especially 2 Peter 3:4: “Where is the
messianic Psalm 72: “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun . . .
promise of his coming?” John G. Gager in his Kingdom and
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore.” Charles Wesley’s
Community: The Social World of Early Christianity (Engle-
Christmas hymn (1739) once began “Glory to the King of
wood Cliffs, N.J., 1975, p. 39) explains the whole original
kings!”; congregations still sing, “Hail, the Sun of Righteous-
Christian mission by analogy to a contemporary millenarian
ness! / Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!” Their focus
sect that, after its prediction of an immediate end is discon-
on the person of Jesus is especially plain in their transforma-
firmed, “may undertake zealous missionary activity as a re-
tion of the “kingship Psalms”: Watt’s Christmas hymn
sponse to its sense of cognitive dissonance.” Other scholars,
(1719) “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; / Let earth re-
such as Werner G. Kümmel and Norman Perrin, have char-
ceive her King” adapts Psalm 98; Charles Wesley’s ascension
acterized the supposed error as springing from the adoption
hymn “Hail the day that sees him rise . . . Take the King
of a literalistic antithesis of present/future.
of Glory in!” reworks Psalm 24.
A kingdom of righteousness and peace. This kingdom
Puritanism and the Social Gospel. English Puritans
was the heritage of the radical Reformation. Both the central-
commonly speak of God as king. In his A Holy Common-
ity and the original meaning of Jesus’ concept of the king-
wealth (1659), Richard Baxter affirms that “the world is a
dom of God were grasped by the radical reformers, less
kingdom whereof God is the King . . . an absolute Monar-
through their scholarship than through the conformity of
chy . . . All men are subjects of God’s kingdom” (Richard
their lives to Jesus’ pattern. Menno Simons (c. 1496–1561),
Niebuhr, 1937, p. 52). It is a false boast when in John Mil-
rejecting the violence of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525 under
ton’s Paradise Lost Satan claims “Divided Empire with Heav-
Thomas Münzer but speaking from the same social situation,
en’s King I hold” (4.111). In America, where the symbolism
based his stand of nonretaliation on the sermon on the
of monarchy was less apt, the emphasis merely shifts to the
mount. He wrote, “Christ has not taken his kingdom with
kingdom of God. Jonathan Edwards in his History of Re-
the sword, although he entered it with much suffering” (The
demption regards the kingdom of heaven upon earth as a
Complete Writings of Menno Simons, trans. L. Verduin et al.,
prosperous age of the church before the apostasy and last
Scottsdale, 1956, p. 49). And again, “We acknowledge . . .
judgement. The Puritan inheritance was secularized in Wal-
no other sword . . . in the kingdom or church of Christ than
ter Rauschenbusch’s notion of the Social Gospel, in which
the sharp sword of the Spirit” (p. 300). While leaving “the
the realization of the kingdom is identified with historical
civil sword to those to whom it is committed,” Menno’s only
progress. In a manuscript of about 1891, posthumously pub-
kingdoms are those of “the Prince of Peace and the prince
lished as The Righteousness of the Kingdom (Nashville, 1968),
of strife” (p. 554). Similarly, in his Journal, George Fox, re-
Rauschenbusch holds that the “program of the Christian rev-
cording his famous testimony of November 21, 1660 before
olution,” namely, the kingdom of God on earth, “includes
Charles II, characterizes the kingdom of God as wholly pacif-
a twofold aim: the regeneration of every individual to divine
ic: “The Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will
sonship and eternal life, and the victory of the spirit of Christ
never move us to fight and war against any man with out-
over the spirit of this world in . . . all the institutions
ward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ nor for the
formed by human society” (p. 110).
kingdoms of this world.”
The theology of the future. After the reaction to nine-
The visual arts. The church early developed pictorial
teenth-century liberal theology in Bultmann’s existentialism
versions of the human scenes of the Gospels. But an adequate
and Barth’s neo-orthodoxy, the 1960s saw new theologies
symbol of the kingdom of God first appears in the nine-
that were oriented toward the future. For example, Wolfhart
teenth century in the many versions of The Peaceable King-
Pannenberg in his Theology and the Kingdom of God (Phila-
dom painted by the American Quaker primitive Edward
delphia, 1969) writes: “If the Kingdom of God and the mode
Hicks (1780–1849). These paintings illustrate Isaiah
of his existence (power and being) belong together, then the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

message of the coming kingdom implies that god in his very
ian tradition of nonviolent resistance, writes (La grâce et le
being is the future of the world” (p. 61). And Jürgen Molt-
pouvoir, Paris, 1982, p. 206): “If I have been snatched out
mann in his Theology of Hope (trans. J. W. Weitch, London,
of the empire of darkness to enter into the kingdom, that is,
1967) holds that “the kingdom is present here as promise
into that part of reality where death has been eliminated, the
and hope for the future horizon of all things” (p. 223).
only means of combat left me is the Cross and not the revolv-
er.” After Martin Luther King Jr., the disciple of Rauschen-
Councils, Catholic and Protestant. Paul had defined the
busch and Gandhi, delivered his speech “I have a dream” at
kingdom of God as “righteousness and peace and joy in the
the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 (A Testament of
Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Those identifications are taken
Hope, ed. J. M. Washington, San Francisco, 1986, p. 217),
up in the documents of the Second Vatican Council (1963–
Coretta King commented: “At that moment it seemed as if
1965): “To the extent that [earthly progress] can contribute
the Kingdom of God appeared.” She added, “But it only last-
to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern
ed for a moment.” Contemporary belief in the kingdom of
to the kingdom of God” (Gaudium et Spes 39, cf. Lumen
God requires it to be reappropriated freshly by human beings
Gentium 5). Similarly, the Sixth Assembly of the World
at each historical turning point.
Council of Churches (Vancouver, 1983) affirms “the identi-
fication of the churches with the poor in their witness to
SEE ALSO Christian Social Movements; Kingship; Political
God’s kingdom”; and in its statement rejecting nuclear
Theology; Theocracy.
weapons says that “as we witness to our genuine desire for
peace with specific actions, the Spirit of God can use our fee-
ble efforts for bringing the kingdoms of this world closer to
the kingdom of God.”
No comprehensive study of the topic exists. For a well-
documented source of texts from the ancient Near East and
The theology of liberation. A unity of piety with political
an extensive bibliography, see Thorkild Jacobsen’s The Trea-
struggle marks a new life in the Latin American church. A
sures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion (New
key spokesman is the Peruvian Gustavo Gutiérrez, who
Haven, Conn.,1976). The Ugaritic data with relation to He-
writes: “The process of liberation will not have conquered
brew are clearly presented by Werner H. Schmidt in König-
tum Gottes in Ugarit und Israel: Zur Herkunft der Königs-

the very roots of oppression . . . without the coming of the
prädikation Jahwes, 2d ed. (Berlin, 1966). The most reliable
kingdom of God, which is above all a gift. . . . The histori-
surveys for the biblical material as a whole are Rudolf
cal, political liberating event is the growth of the kingdom
Schnackenburg’s God’s Rule and Kingdom (New York, 1963)
. . . but it is not the coming of the kingdom” (A Theology
and “Basileus” and related entries in the Theological Dictio-
of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation, trans. Caridad
nary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1964). For
Inda and J. Eagleson, Maryknoll, N.Y., 1973, p. 177). This
excellent surveys of Old Testament scholarship on Yahveh’s
theology is adapted to North American experience by James
kingship, see Joseph Coppens’s contribution to the entry
H. Cone, who in his A Black Theology of Liberation (Philadel-
“Règne (ou Royaume) de Dieu,” in the Supplément au Dic-
phia, 1970, p. 220) writes: “The appearance of Jesus as the
tionnaire de la Bible, vol. 10 (Paris, 1981), and the article
Black Christ also means that the Black Revolution is God’s
“Melek” by Helmer Ringgren et al. in the Theologisches
kingdom becoming a reality in America. . . . The kingdom
Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament, vol. 4 (Stuttgart, 1984).
Martin Buber’s Kingship of God, translated from the third
of God is what happens to a person when his being is con-
German edition (New York, 1967), is more theological than
fronted with the reality of God’s liberation.”
exegetical in its handling of the topic. John Gray restates the
The movement for justice and peace. Dom Helder Câ-
“enthronement-festival theory” uncritically but offers a thor-
ough bibliography in The Biblical Doctrine of the Reign of
mara of Recife has often said that the current world faces
God (Edinburgh, 1979).
twin threats: the actual “M-bomb” of misery and the poten-
tial holocaust of the A-bomb. In that situation, the most crit-
The rabbinic sources were first analyzed by Gustaf H. Dalman in
ical in history, many readers of the New Testament are find-
The Words of Jesus Considered in the Light of Post-Biblical Jew-
ing that its apocalyptic images of the end of the world, far
ish Writings and the Aramaic Language, rev. Eng. ed. (Edin-
from being alien to their mentality, are merely literal. To
burgh, 1909); see especially pages 91–102 in volume 1 on
the “kingship of heaven.” Thousands of rabbinic texts in
many Christian believers in the movement for justice and
German translation are included in Hermann L. Strack and
peace the kingdom of God has become the primary name for
Paul Billerbeck’s Kommentar zum neuen Testament aus Tal-
what is at work in them. James W. Douglass, in his Resistance
mud und Midrasch, 6 vols. in 7 (Munich, 1922–1961); see
and Contemplation: The Way of Liberation (Garden City,
especially the collection on “kingdom of God” in volume 1,
1972, p. 107), writes: “The way of revolution is the kingdom
pages 172–180. The use of the term kingdom in the Targum
because the revolution is the people coming together in a
is analyzed by Bruce D. Chilton in “Regnum Dei Deus Est,”
new humanity, ignited by a divine symbol given through the
Scottish Journal of Theology 31 (1978): 261–276.
man of truth—Jesus in the Temple and on the cross, Gandhi
For an introduction to the teachings of Jesus, see Hans Küng’s On
by the sea [on the salt march], the Berrigans at Catonsville
Being a Christian (Garden City, N.Y., 1976) and Günther
[destroying draft files].” In the slums of Sa˜o Paulo a French
Bornkamm’s Jesus of Nazareth (New York, 1960). The
priest, Dominique Barbé, drawing on an indigenous Brazil-
“form-criticism” (Formgeschichte) of the gospel materials, im-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

portant for assessing the historicity of the different sayings
Humphries, Michael L. Christian Origins and the Language of the
on the kingdom, was begun and almost ended with Rudolf
Kingdom of God. Carbondale, Ill., 1999.
Bultmann’s The History of the Synoptic Tradition, 2d ed.
Kainz, Howard P. Democracy and the “Kingdom of God.” Milwau-
(New York, 1968). On the Aramaic background of the say-
kee, Wis., 1995.
ings, consult Joachim Jeremias’s New Testament Theology:
The Proclamation of Jesus
(New York, 1971). The case for
Liebenberg, Jacobus. The Language of the Kingdom and Jesus. New
making Jesus a political revolutionary has been restated by
York, 2000.
S. G. F. Brandon in Jesus and the Zealots (Manchester, 1967).
Malina, Bruce J. The Social Gospel of Jesus. Minneapolis, 2001.
For a bibliography of the research on Jesus’ sayings on the king-
O’Donovan, Oliver. The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the
dom, together with scrupulous exegesis of key ones, see
Roots of Political Theology. Cambridge,1996.
Jacques Schlosser’s Le règne de Dieu dans les dits de Jésus, 2
Phillips, Paul T. A Kingdom on Earth: Anglo-American Social
vols. (Paris, 1980). Two articles on the subject of Jesus’ say-
Christianity, 1880–1940. University Park, Pa., 1996.
ings are especially useful: Hans Windisch’s “Die Sprüche
vom Eingehen in das Reich Gottes,” Zeitschrift für die neu-
Viviano, Benedict T. The Kingdom of God in History. Wilmington,
testamentliche Wissenschaft 27 (1928): 163–192, and Heinz
Del., 1988.
Kruse’s “The Return of the Prodigal: Fortunes of a Parable
on Its Way to the Far East,” Orientalia 47 (1978): 163–214.
Revised Bibliography
Ernst Staehelin offers a very large annotated compilation of texts
from the Christian church in Die Verkündigung des Reiches
Gottes in der Kirche Jesu Christi,
7 vols. (Basel, 1951–1965).
The early church fathers’ treatment of the concept is indexed
in “Basileia,” in A Patristic Greek Lexicon, edited by
This entry consists of the following articles:
G. W. H. Lampe (Oxford, 1961). A reliable guide to Augus-
tine’s thought is Étienne Gilson’s The Christian Philosophy
of Saint Augustine (New York, 1960), especially
pp. 180–183. For a brief introduction to the thorny contro-
versy surrounding Luther’s doctrine, consult Heinrich
Bornkamm’s Luther’s Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms in the
Context of His Theology
(Philadelphia, 1966). Arthur C.
Cochrane narrates the struggle within the German church in
The term kingship refers to a relatively complex and hierar-
The Church’s Confession under Hitler (Philadelphia, 1962).
chical structure of society in which a central figure—a king
Read in sequence, three works provide the history of scholarly re-
or, in certain cases, a queen—undertakes a unifying role that
search into the meaning of the kingdom in Jesus’ sayings:
acts as a value reference for the various groups that constitute
Christian Walther’s Typen des Reich-Gottes-Verständnisses:
the society. Depending on whether or not this function in-
Studien zur Eschatologie und Ethik im 19. Jarhundert (Mu-
nich, 1961) offers the perspective of nineteenth-century
volves a direct exercise of political power on the part of the
thinkers; Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus:
person who is discharging it, the king may be considered a
A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, 2d ed.
monarch, and the kingship may be identified as a monarchy,
(London, 1911), moves from Reimarus to Schweitzer him-
a word that technically may mean only a particular form of
self; and Gösta Lundström’s The Kingdom of God in the
government and nothing else. That the two terms do not
Teaching of Jesus: A History of Interpretation from the Last Dec-
correspond is well expressed by the saying that, in many
ades of the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day (Edinburgh,
cases, the king “reigns but does not govern.” It is also possible
1963) moves forward to the 1960s. The most extensive con-
to govern in an absolute fashion, as a monarch, by holding
temporary work is the lifetime opus of Norman Perrin: The
military office or administering justice without being legiti-
Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus (Philadelphia, 1963),
mately entitled to do so. In such cases the one who governs
Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (New York, 1967), and
does so by relying almost entirely upon force, making the
Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom: Symbol and Metaphor
in New Testament Interpretation
(Philadelphia, 1976). Wer-
role of engendering social cohesion difficult, which is the first
ner B. Kümmel’s Promise and Fulfillment: The Eschatological
duty of a king.
Message of Jesus (Naperville, Ill., 1957) is also useful.
On this basis, then, one can understand that the interest
Numerous texts otherwise barely accessible are cited in H. Richard
in the subject shown by anthropologists and religious histori-
Niebuhr’s The Kingdom of God in America (Chicago, 1937);
ans stems from the fact that the word kingship refers not only,
his schematism is to be taken with reserve.
and not so much, to a form of government but also to a sup-
New Sources
posed quality belonging to the person who embodies the
Blumenfeld, Bruno. The Political Paul: Justice, Democracy, and
king that sanctions his legitimacy—if not to govern, then at
Kingship in a Hellenistic Framework. London, 2001.
least to reign. This quality has been given various names,
Chilton, Bruce. Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God. Grand Rapids,
even in the Western tradition, such as majesty or dignity
Mich., 1996.
and the word kingship itself has been used. It consists of pre-
Fuellenbach, John. Church: Community for the Kingdom. Mary-
cisely those attributes that mark out the king as exceptional,
knoll, N.Y., 2002.
that make him, in the eyes of his subjects, a sacred person,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

a moral authority, a common reference point because of his
only an exemption from the obligation to obey normal rules
universal value, with consequent displays of devotion and re-
but also the observation of rules that on this occasion apply
spect toward his person and his family, ancestors included.
only to him. For the most part this involves submitting to
The analysis of this sacred role has had important conse-
a whole series of taboos, which serve to conceal the clearly
quences for the broad understanding of power in general. If
human traits of the sovereign. Thus, in many traditional so-
it is indeed true that any form of power is still considered
cieties—the Jukun in Nigeria, for example—he cannot be
sacred—inasmuch as it represents a kind of transcendency,
seen while doing everyday things such as drinking, eating,
expressing a cultural method that humankind has at its dis-
sleeping, or directly touching the ground. Various figures—
posal by which it can escape from the condition of contin-
wives, sisters, dignitaries, and servants who always gravitate
gency—it is also true that, in acquiring such an awareness,
around the court—ensure strict adherence to this protocol.
which finds its most extreme expression in the idea that po-
They share in the sacred nature of the king to varying degrees
litical science is a chapter in the comparative historical study
and are particularly involved at those moments most loaded
of religion (Debray, 1981; Heusch, 1987), thinking regard-
with symbolism, such as during the actual investiture cere-
ing the particular forms of power that constitute kingship,
mony, when the new king is dressed in his robes, changes
typified by association with a detailed set of rituals and a rich
his name, and receives his royal insignia; or at the time of
mythology, has played no small part.
the funeral rites, which may also involve killing his relatives
or particularly close servants, such as someone who is regard-
DEFINING KINGSHIP. Examples of kingship may be drawn
ed as his double.
from all four corners of the world, from ancient China to
Mexico, from the Egypt of the pharaohs to Mesopotamia,
DEATH OF A KING. The death of a king is a highly significant
from the kingdoms of equatorial Africa to those of Polynesia.
event. It is the most dramatic event for the community, ex-
Although far apart in space and time, these societies often
posing the fiction that the sovereign is different from mere
show surprising similarities even when they differ markedly
mortals. It is an event best kept secret for as long as possible
in other respects, such as their size. Indeed, it has been noted
and surrounded with the utmost discretion, from a practical
that the traits that largely identify kingship (insofar as not
point of view, to ensure the future plans for the succession
being exclusively a form of government) are also present in
and because of the worry such news can provoke among the
forms of tribal organization, and their ultimate roots come
general populace, who regard as an apocalyptic event the ter-
directly from Neolithic social structures. This seems to sug-
mination of the cosmic and social order the king ensured.
gest the importance attributed to the cult of ancestors—or
Hence, the concern in many societies is to keep the interreg-
even the well-known motif symbolically identifying the fig-
num to a minimum, because it is a period of chaos, real or
ure of the king with the father figure, understood not so
imagined. To appoint a successor in advance or to appoint
much as a parent but rather as one who provides nourish-
a figure to function as regent (in many cases the queen moth-
ment and, more generally, as a principle of authority.
er) is one measure adopted to deal with this situation.
This attitude toward the dangers of interregnum is not
The African continent provides numerous examples of
the exclusive concern of societies that are little more than
this model of kingship (e.g., Mair, 1977; Vansina, 1966),
tribal, but is a danger every kind of kingship must face. It
where the main function of the king is not so much to govern
shows one of the most symbolically specific characteristics of
as to engage directly with the forces of nature to ensure fertil-
the institution itself. The solutions adopted may be different,
ity and prosperity for the community. He has powers, such
but the guiding spirit that lies behind them remains the
as the ability to ensure rain, and he must demonstrate their
same. A glance at historical events in Europe tells the story
supposed effectiveness or, in certain cases, must pay with his
more eloquently than numerous ethnographic examples, be-
life for his ineffectiveness. These are some of the traits that
cause it also serves as a better antidote to any attempt to di-
make up what is sacral in the broadest sense and in many
minish the importance of that mystical aspect that is a cons-
cases differ only in detail. Generally, the idea is that the king
tant mark of kingship all over the world and at every level
guarantees the order of the universe via his privileged contact
of social complexity.
with the restless world of nature, inhabited by many invisible
forces. This enhanced closeness is clear from his being per-
To deny the interregnum is to deny the mortality of the
mitted to transgress the laws of the land, which indicates that
king. This fiction was maintained in Renaissance Europe by
he does not belong to the social group that is obliged to fol-
the French and British monarchies by creating an effigy of
low rules by which he is not bound. Among these transgres-
the dead king, which was waited upon as if it were the living
sions, one of the most significant is the practice of incest that
king himself (Giesey, 1960). This ritual practice was the
often accompanied enthronement—a kind of hierogamy, ac-
starting point for the doctrinal elaboration (the subject of a
cording to Luc de Heusch (1987), that reveals to the greatest
masterly 1957 study by Ernst H. Kantorowicz) according to
degree the alienation of the king from the obligation to obey
which the king possessed two bodies: one natural and one
the rules that bind the community.
political. Only the first one was mortal, whereas the second
was regarded as a corporation sole, constituted of a single per-
Nevertheless, the emphasis upon the alienation and sep-
son considered eternal. The insignia, which symbolized the
arateness of the king from the general populace means not
eternal nature of the royal institution, was the crown.
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The analogies are more significant than the differences,
and the macrocosmos. Volkoff thus restates in an elegant
evidence of a political symbolism, a reality encompassing
fashion that legitimacy best describes the fundamental differ-
both tribal and centralized states. For these reasons, too, as
ence between a king and a pure and simple monarch.
with the distinctions between kingship and monarchy, some
modern scholars of kingship consider it necessary to move
How then is the legitimacy of a monarch established?
to a less-marked identification between the kingship and the
In other words, what is it that makes a rex—a term with a
state (Simonse, 1992), and this has widened the field of
much older meaning, as the studies of Émile Benveniste
study, especially from an ethnological perspective. Ideas such
(1969) suggest—more concerned with the figure of the priest
as the segmentary state (Southall, 1956) or the clan state
than of the sovereign? Of the two main theories on the origin
(Adler, 1982) now rank alongside the more classical division
of kingship, the first holds that it originates from within the
between societies based upon ancestral lineage and those
social group, while the other holds that it has external ori-
based upon the state, considered a throwback to nineteenth-
gins, such as the result of military conquest. The majority
century thinking (Tardits, 1980). It has thus become easier
of available historical and ethnographic data supports the
to agree with the argument of Roland Mousnier (1989), stat-
second hypothesis.
ing that groups deal with a kingship every time a leader is
In the theory of the ritual origin of the kingship, which
deemed to be in a privileged relationship with surrounding
proposes the internal origin of the institution, the problem
forces that, on the basis of accepted categorization, are con-
of legitimacy is in a sense already solved. To repeat the above
sidered supernatural.
distinction, it could be said to be a matter of demonstrating
“Ritual” and “politics” can be found together also in
the transition from king to monarch, from an individual
simpler societies than those traditionally defined as kingships
symbol—the moral and religious reference point of a broad
or monarchies. To assume this seems to be the only way to
range of groups who remain autonomous in terms of politi-
agree with those authors, for example Valerio Valeri (1980),
cal, judicial, and administrative decisions—to an individual
who warn that, as far as kingship is concerned, to try to estab-
with the power to command all of these groups, which are
lish an evolutionistic relationship between the categories
reduced to unimportant objects and accept his authority.
above mentioned is misleading.
For the opposing theory, which supports the external
To return to the theory of the ritual origin of kingship
origin of the kingship, the problem is to analyze the transi-
formulated by James G. Frazer (1890) and restated by Arthur
tion from monarch to king, the shift from a character origi-
M. Hocart (1927) and the Myth and Ritual school (Acker-
nating as a result of force to one accepted by the group be-
man, 1991), it should be clear that this will never mean the
cause of a recognition of his exceptional nature, which makes
ritual origin of politics itself, an activity that, at least in the
him appear sacred and gives him legitimacy in the eyes of the
generally accepted sense of the guidelines about decisions
entire community. The historical dynamics are naturally dif-
taken with regard to matters of common concern, presum-
ferent. When the king and the monarch are not the same per-
ably has existed in all human societies. As far as the theory
son, the legitimization of power almost always occurs in the
of the ritual origin of the kingship is concerned, its fortunes
form of a dyarchy. Analysis of a specific example clarifies how
stem at least in part from the fact that it flourished in a peri-
all this develops and the different institutional arrangements
od when it was firmly believed that politics was an activity
that may occur.
that took place exclusively in those societies considered
Two qualifications become appropriate. The first is that
the force with which a stranger imposes himself upon a pop-
A further implication of the distinction between king-
ulace is still perceived, on the part of those subdued, in cul-
ship and monarchy may be the fact that the sacred nature
tural terms as the expression of a superior power—of which
of the king may be more clearly specified when one defines
he is the embodiment, or with which he has privileged rela-
categories such as legitimacy and sovereignty. Thus, Mousnier,
tions. In this sense, the warring conqueror already has a sa-
in his attempt to clarify the distinction between a king and
cred dimension, for he is already seen as the expression of
a monarch, uses various figures to illustrate the differences
a power with which he enjoys a privileged relationship. The
between the two. In seventh- and sixth-century BCE Greece,
second qualification is closely linked to the broad definition
for example, the term tyrant had not yet acquired any pejora-
of kingship that has been adopted. On this basis the majority
tive connotation but indicated simply an illegitimate king,
of ethnographic and historical examples put forward by
one not meant to take the throne. The tyrant was thus a
scholars to illustrate the appearance of kingship deal with
usurper who, albeit for the common good, illegitimately as-
simply the appearance of a new kind of kingship, that is, a
sumed power in particular circumstances.
different institutional arrangement of the relationship be-
ORIGIN OF KINGSHIP. Vladimir Volkoff (1987) states that
tween the mystical and political elements of power. Finally,
whereas a monarchy might be abruptly established, this is
it should be added that it is not always clear, when talking
not so with kingship, which may only exist as a shared insti-
of kingship established via conquest, if the society from
tution with a real or mythical past presenting a stable and
which the conquerors come is already familiar with a reason-
reassuring figure, an intersection between the microcosmos
ably stable, regal organizational structure of some sort, or if
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a particular kind of leadership has been drawn up to carry
persistent popular image of the king. Marc Bloch (1924), in
out the conquest.
his now classic study, described the magical powers attribut-
ed to the medieval king, such as the ability to cure scrofula,
However that may be, to recall some classical examples,
and Yves-Marie Bercé (1990) investigated the equally fasci-
the documentary evidence related to both ancient Egypt and
nating topic of the king who is not dead but in hiding and
Mesopotamia refers to the existence of an earlier form of
will return to his people. These works provide evidence of
kingship. In the first case, the theriomorphic symbolism as-
the important mythological background that surrounds
sociated with the kingship (e.g., falcon, scorpion) is too var-
kingship even in Europe, which experienced the formation
ied not to allude to previous models of regal organizational
of the modern state, and evidence of the profitable use of the
structure predating the glory of the pharaonic age. As for
results of more than a century of anthropological research on
Mesopotamia, the royal Sumerian genealogy recalls ancient
this subject.
nomad kings, leaders who “live in tents,” suggesting a model
of kingship, perhaps rather uncertain, that preceded the
complex organization of the city-state centered on the
of this research can be traced back to the publication of The
Golden Bough by James G. Frazer in 1890. This work deals
with the theme of kingship, in particular its magic and sacred
The origins of the kingship of the Congolese, a Bantu
aspects, expanded upon in subsequent editions. It was the
people of West Africa, provide a good example of a frequent
first important theoretical comparative formulation. It ex-
model for the construction of legitimacy by a foreign king.
presses the idea that the attribution to certain individuals of
Lukeni, a fourteenth-century warrior not in command in his
presumed magical powers that enabled them to interact with
own circle of influence, emigrated with some of his followers
the forces of nature and positively influence it was decisive
and subdued the Ambundu, who were organized in small
in them assuming the roles of chiefs and kings in the first
chiefdoms. He married the daughter of a powerful local
human societies. One of the consequences of their privileged
priest, the mani cabunga, the guardian of supernatural pow-
contact with the forces of nature would have been concern
ers, and he ordered his men to marry local women and take
for their physical condition, the fear that their degeneration
on their tribal name. In this way he began a process of territo-
would drag down the whole universe with it. To prevent this
rial expansion, whereas the priest, as well as retaining his tra-
catastrophic hypothesis from becoming reality, it was
ditional ritual functions, was to play an important part in the
thought necessary to anticipate the natural death of the king
enthronement ceremony of future kings and thus legitimize
and kill him first, which would allow his soul to be trans-
their governance.
ferred to a stronger successor, and his physical well-being
Japan provides a different model. Here the mikado, or
would thus be harmoniously linked via the sympathetic prin-
emperor, was considered a descendant of the sun goddess
ciple of magic to that of the whole universe.
Amaterasu and was surrounded by an ostentatious ritual. He
In the first edition of The Golden Bough, the killing of
was regarded as endowed with miraculous powers and was
the king does not appear as a relevant feature when the au-
perceived as an intermediary between the people and the di-
thor speaks of the “divine King,” a person distinct from the
vine cosmos. He did not engage in governmental functions,
“magical King,” the most meaningful example of which is
which was the role of the shogun who held military power.
provided by the Japanese mikado. It does appear in the third
Western Christianity offers yet another model based
edition (1911–1915), when Frazer inserts a reference in the
upon the fact that monotheism puts forward a transcendent
fourth volume of the work (1911), which eventually reached
god in contrast to the equality of all humanity. In this in-
twelve volumes, to the Shilluk of the Sudan, among whom,
stance the king cannot be considered divine in origin, as in
according to a letter sent him by Charles G. Seligman on De-
Japan, or be confused with a god, as with the Egyptian pha-
cember 13, 1910, regicide was practiced until a few years pre-
raoh. The religious realm remained firmly in the hands of
vious. The subject of ritual regicide acquired a central place
a complex ecclesiastical apparatus that was involved in coro-
in the discussion of sacred or, as Frazer put it, “divine” king-
nations from the eighth century until the time of Charles X
ship. Perhaps because the paroxysm seemed to embody it
in 1825 in France at Rheims, during which period the king
best, or perhaps because he was deliberately referring to the
was religiously anointed. The entire history of Europe con-
most archaic period of the institution of the kingship, Frazer
sists of continuous attempts by the church and the state to
thought it the expression of a still savage sense of the sacred
assert their own superiority. The result was not so much a
that shed light upon the nature of the kingship in his subse-
differentiation of roles, as in the preceding examples, but
quent histories. Scholars were naturally reluctant to ignore
rather, as Kantorowicz has explained, an attempt to imitate
the importance of these references in the picture of an evolu-
each other, which is particularly evident in certain rituals of
tionistic interpretation of the kingship.
clothing and which culminated, as far as the king was con-
This evolutionary outlook still retains its appeal when
cerned, in the claim that the sovereignty was divine in origin.
kingship and, particularly, ritual regicide are discussed. In
Alongside this institutional scenario, which in historical
the late twentieth century, William G. Randles (1968) gath-
terms was interrupted by the French Revolution, there is a
ered the various references to this subject in subsequent an-
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thropological literature into a structured plan that identifies
seen in institutional terms. These were viewed by Frazer as
four possible stages in the evolution of the kingship. At the
the result, or at least the reflection, of certain beliefs. The
first level, the society actually determines in advance the
similarities between societies that were far apart from each
length of the king’s reign, thus indicating the maximum con-
other in terms of space and time were, for Frazer, an indica-
trol over his fate. At the second level, regicide takes place at
tion that the societies were at more or less the same stage of
the first signs of the sovereign growing old. At the third, the
intellectual development. For the functionalists the reverse
sovereign is obliged to prove that he is worthy of the throne
was the case. Beliefs were no longer the central issue; it was
by undergoing trials in which he risks his own life. Only at
the need for structured social integration that was important
the fourth stage does the king gain control of his own fate
and that provided the key to interpreting the ideology and
and acquire the right to die a natural death.
symbolic practices, including those in which such societies
This representation is useful in that it attempts to incor-
were similar. The analysis was therefore mainly synchronic
porate a wide range of ethnographic evidence within an ap-
in nature, so origins are discussed only in a figurative sense.
parently logical sequence where certain events, regarded as
The “origins” of a cultural phenomenon are only found
horrifying to modern sensibilities, are not denied as such but
within the society in which it is exhibited. They are the place
are instinctively moved back to the distant past. This, howev-
it occupies and the function it performs taken as a whole.
er, encourages an inflexible interpretation, which is still un-
The rich symbolism associated with the kingship is thus es-
sentially seen in terms of the need for group social cohesion.
The diffusionist viewpoint is similar and can be consid-
One of the most important monographs with this ap-
ered a less rigid form of evolutionism, with more regard for
proach was published by Hilda Kuper (1947) and concerned
the definite historico-geographical links of cultural factors.
the Swazi, who celebrate the ncwala ritual. This provided the
The most important works of this school, such as the mono-
starting point for Max Gluckman to provide details of the
graph by Charles K. Meek (1931) on the Jukun of Nigeria,
category in “Rituals of Rebellion” (1963). The category al-
in which he adduces symbolic parallels with ancient Egypt,
lowed the various phenomena of puppet kings, scapegoat
remain essentially faithful to Frazer’s view. The first attempt-
kings, or kings humiliated or mocked in literature to be in-
ed classification of this representation was by Seligman
terpreted as dramatic representations of the conflict that
(1934), who in his Frazer Lecture of 1933 summarized the
would end with the reaffirmation of the unchangeable nature
essential features of the so-called divine king. For him a king
of the existing order, the renewal and re-endorsement of the
was divine if:
kingship. The evidence may be ethnographic as well as his-
toric, as in the case of the New Year ceremony (akitu) of the
1. He was able to exercise influence, voluntary or other-
ancient Babylonians, the Roman Saturnalia, or various ritu-
wise, over the forces of nature;
als that accompanied Carnivals in European history. Once
2. He was regarded as the dynamic center of the universe;
again it raises, albeit only indirectly, the matter of the inter-
3. His daily actions were meticulously controlled and con-
regnum. It raises fear of the specter of anarchy in order to
stantly checked;
forestall it.
4. He had to be put to death when his powers declined so
With regard to the question of regicide, the clearest ex-
that his weakness did not drag down the whole kingdom
pression of the functionalist view is the reinterpretation of
with it.
the case of the Shilluk in the work of Edward E. Evans-
Pritchard (1963/1948). For this people, the author contests
The final point is the most interesting one because it became
the previous picture of a centralized society and holds that
the criterion by which to identify the figure of the divine
the king reigns but does not govern. The Shilluk lands are
king and distinguish him from the sacred king. In practice,
subdivided into autonomous areas, with regard to which the
divine kings were those who were not able to die natural
king acts as the focus of social cohesion. He is regarded as
deaths but had to be ritually killed. The fact that this charac-
the descendant of Nyikank, the hero and founder of the en-
teristic has remained difficult to demonstrate from empirical
tire people. This identification makes him the center of
evidence, and in many kingdoms is not hinted at even in
moral values, leading to the creation of a system that links
mythological traditions, has led the majority of scholars to
together religion, cosmology, and politics. Furthermore, sa-
prefer the expression sacred (or sacral) kingship. This may
crality, according to Evans-Pritchard, was not an attribute of
be seen from the title “The Sacral Kingship” given to the
the king himself but of the office of kingship. The legitimacy
Eighth International Congress of the History of Religions,
of an individual king’s reign could thus be revoked if it was
on the subject of kingship, held in Rome in 1955. Its pro-
felt that he did not satisfactorily embody the kingship. The
ceedings were published in 1959.
belief that the king should be killed in particular circum-
In the meantime, the diffusionist trend has been giving
stances was cleverly exploited by those who had ambitions
way to a functionalist interpretation that provided the first
of power and were excluded from it. The regicides were
real alternative to Frazer’s model. What had previously been
therefore nothing more than political murders disguised as
analyzed in terms of cast of mind and superstitions was now
ritual killings.
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The concern to dispense with Frazer meant that this in-
The most profitable application of these suggestions has
terpretation held sway for some time, although it was in fact
been a reinterpretation of Congolese kingship in the work
somewhat contradictory. To begin with, it talked of a king
of Kajsa Ekholm Friedman (1985). This author demon-
who reigns but does not govern, though at the same time it
strates that, contrary to the frequent representation of the
considered the regicide as motivated by ambitions of power.
kingship as the transition from a “purely symbolic” king to
a plenipotential king, in the case of the Congo the situation
A further unconvincing point concerns the clear distinc-
is precisely the opposite. Whereas initially the king’s sover-
tion between the person and the office, with the resulting
eignty and effective power are clearly displayed, in more re-
transfer of the sacrality issue to the latter. Michael W. Young
cent times, as a result of the disintegration produced by colo-
(1966) drew attention to this in an essay that began by recon-
nial impact, events have led to the scapegoat procedure, the
sidering the case of the Jukun. In his view the position taken
coronation of marginal individuals who are given the title of
by Evans-Pritchard considered the body of the sovereign as
king and humiliated in every possible way. Thus, what one
a mere vessel. The fact that a social and cosmic bond may
would prefer to think of as a remnant of a previous age is
conceivably be identified with a physical body must have re-
more effectively interpreted if related to current events.
percussions (in terms of the sacrality) for the individual
whose body is thus identified. Referring to the distinction
Allowing for the plausibility of ritual regicide does not
made by Kantorowicz concerning medieval and Renaissance
necessarily imply adherence to an evolutionist view of king-
English kings, Young makes the point that, for the Jukun,
ship. This important lesson, which is based upon an open
the body of the king is different from those of the common
attitude to actual historical investigation, was illustrated by
populace in that it is linked to juwe, a quality that can be
the comparative analysis of Nilotic societies by Simon Si-
compared to what English jurists saw as the dignitas of the
monse in Kings of Disaster (1992). This important study not
political body of the king, which was immortal, as opposed
only includes instances of regicide as the result of a failure
to his physical body. The regicides were thus ritual acts with
to make the rains fall—including in the late twentieth centu-
political consequences, rather than the opposite.
ry (in 1984 in the case of the queen of the Sudanese Bari),
it also stresses that regicide per se is not necessarily the defi-
The strength of the arguments against the Evans-
nite outcome but only one possible result, albeit the most
Pritchard position could not be clearer. They were reinforced
dramatic, among a series of alternatives that remain open to
by so-called neo-Frazerians, the most representative of whom
the society until the last moment.
is Heusch, who began his own study of sacred kingship in
1958, concentrating in particular on the symbolism of royal
Similar historical observations are made by Claude
incest and more generally advancing a comparative analysis
Tardits (1980, 1990) and Dario Sabbatucci (1978). Tardits
with the Bantu kings on the figure of the sacred king as a
rejects the concept of the divine king and is reluctant, as far
transgressor of rules. The same subject was dealt with by
as Africa is concerned, to use even the notion of the sacred
other authors, such as Laura Makarius (1974) or Alfred Adler
king, remarking how, in this case, one may speak of sacrality
(1982) with respect to the Mundang of Chad and Jean-
and transcendence only by referring to the cult of ancestors
Claude Muller (1980) regarding the Rukuba of Nigeria. The
and is still, it may be added, a form of eschatology. Sabbatuc-
last two authors regarded the kingship as an essentially sym-
ci is even more skeptical. He starts by correctly urging cau-
bolic structure, thus restoring the theoretical plausibility of
tion about whether the populations studied by ethnologists
ritual regicide.
may really shed retrospective light upon previous millennia,
as based upon a conjectural model of history. He then turns
Nevertheless, despite an inclination to consider ritual
to an extreme theory, according to which eschatology was an
regicide as widely practiced, the neo-Frazerians, by paying
entirely Egyptian creation, produced by the historical experi-
scant attention to historical dynamics, are unable to get past
ence of kingship. Life in the next world, previously the exclu-
the idea that it should be placed at the beginning of institu-
sive privilege of the pharaoh, became available to the people.
tional history. They thus ignore important occurrences of rit-
This process, in so far as it is real, should not be regarded
ual killing that are much more recent and do not tally with
as something absolute, as a one-way journey. Power may not
an implicitly evolutionist outlook.
be redistributed unless it has previously been assumed. If so-
A theoretically important suggestion to overcome the
cieties are indebted to kingship for the creation of more so-
limitations of this outlook could be to adopt the idea of the
phisticated models of transcendence, this is not the case
sacré sauvage put forward by Roger Bastide (1975). Bastide
when it comes to the longing for transcendence per se. The
uses this idea to highlight the fact that, in contexts that are
immortality gift historically offered by kingship was appreci-
particularly dramatic in terms of cultural impact, the sacred
ated because people could recognize the fulfillment of a pre-
manifests itself not in a tame, domesticated manner but in
vious shared aspiration in it.
all its explosive violence, giving rise to unexpected events that
KINGSHIP AND TRANSCENDENCE. The idea that kingship
most people would be inclined to relegate to the remote past.
represents a particularly attractive model of transcendence,
Colonial impact has certainly been one of those situations
as one of the principal gauntlets thrown down by humans
that have produced a kind of historical reversal.
in the face of death, may be recognized in the fact that poets
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and writers have long been interested in this custom. Authors
himself, from society, from nature, from the cosmos” (Bon-
such as Homer, William Shakespeare, Luigi Pirandello, Eu-
vecchio, 1997, p. 36). To rediscover the original idea of sov-
gène Ionesco, Italo Calvino, VladimirVolkoff, Elias Canetti,
ereignty would therefore mean to master the real self, and
and many others have produced memorable writing on the
thus be not so much a political battle as an existential one.
subject of kingship. They have enlightened readers in many
Can one consider this battle politically neutral? Maybe so,
ways, and even as far as regicide is concerned, one may begin
but only on condition of avoiding the temptation to try to
to understand that the most incisive writing may be con-
buttress it with the firm support of an institution to justify
tained in literary works (Vaughan, 1980). The sacrality of
and promote it. A true poet does not need it.
the king may only be understood when one sees the kingship
of humanity, and in this regard poets have great vision. Thus,
SEE ALSO Charlemagne; Constantine; Myth and Ritual
in the analysis of kingship, more so than in other fields, Aris-
School; Theodosius.
totle’s theory that poetry expresses a more philosophical and
universal form of knowledge than history may be productive-
ly cited (Riccardo, 1997).
Ackerman, Robert. J. G. Frazer: His Life and Work. Cambridge,
U.K., 1987.
However, bringing this kind of thinking to bear con-
Ackerman, Robert. The Myth and Ritual School. New York, 1991.
cerning kingship involves the danger of becoming involved
Adler, Alfred. La mort est le masque du roi. Paris, 1982.
in the actual political defense of kingship. In other words,
Balandier, Georges. Sociologie actuelle de l’Afrique noire. Paris,
if the figure of the king is perceived as extremely close to, if
not directly linked to, human nature itself, a little like God
Bastide, Roger. Le sacré sauvage et autres essais. Paris, 1975.
in the philosophy of Saint Augustine, empirical consider-
ation of his absence from the political and institutional stage
Benveniste, Émile. Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes.
may be transformed into a kind of disquiet, rather like that
Paris, 1969.
presumably felt by those traditional societies at the physical
Bercé, Yves-Marie. Le roi caché: Sauveurs et imposteurs; Mythes poli-
decline of their sovereign. In this case, analysis of kingship
tiques populaires dans l’Europe moderne. Paris, 1990.
and what it may have symbolized for peoples who experi-
Bertelli, Sergio. Il corpo del re: Sacralità del potere nell’Europa medi-
enced it is cloaked in a thinly disguised nostalgia for a bygone
evale e moderna. Florence, 1990.
age. Kingship is seen as a panacea for the ills of the modern
Bloch, Marc. Les rois thaumaturges: Étude sur le caractère surnaturel
world, whereas modernity itself is considered in its turn to
attribué à la puissance royale particulièrement en France et en
be a kind of interregnum, a void to be filled in the near fu-
Angleterre. Strasbourg, France, 1924.
ture. One moves from kingship as poetry to kingship as ther-
Bonvecchio, Claudio. Imago imperii imago mundi: Sovranità sim-
bolica e figura imperiale. Padua, Italy, 1997.
Canetti, Elias. Masse und Macht. Hamburg, Germany, 1960.
Such ideas are common in certain general studies on
kingship. Thus Jean Hani (1984) is interested in the subject
Cerulli, Ernesta. Ma il re divino viaggiava da solo? Problemi e con-
traddizioni di un “complesso culturale” di diffusione quasi un-
of kingship as a way to denounce modern Western secular
iversale. Genoa, Italy, 1979.
thinking and the idea that sovereignty resides in the people.
He highlights the unifying role of kingship, that individuals
Debray, Régis. Critique de la raison politique. Paris, 1981.
thus become part of a mystical Body, whereas secular politi-
Ekholm Friedman, Kajsa. “Sad Stories of the Death of Kings.” Et-
cal regimes operate in the opposite way, fragmenting society
hnos 50 (1985): 248–272.
with subsequent conflict between its different parts, which
Evans-Pritchard, Edward E. “The Divine Kingship of the Shilluk
are completely divided. It is clear that the historical advance
of the Nilotic Sudan.” 1948. Reprinted in Essays in Social An-
of pluralism is denigrated here, perceived as irremediable
thropology, pp. 66–86. New York, 1963.
chaos, a kind of interregnum, as opposed to those systems
Feeley-Harnik, Gillian. “Issues in Divine Kingship.” Annual Re-
in which the sacrality of power would be able to ensure har-
view of Anthropology 14 (1985): 273–313.
mony between the whole and the parts.
Frazer, James G. The Golden Bough. London, 1890.
Frazer, James G. The Golden Bough. 3d ed., 12 vols. London,
The thinking on royal, or rather imperial, symbolism of
1911–1915. See vol. 4, The Dying God.
Claudio Bonvecchio (1997) is mostly similar in tone. His
analysis starts from a statement of the degeneration of the
Giesey, Ralph E. The Royal Funeral Ceremony in Renaissance
France. Geneva, 1960.
current liberal idea of popular sovereignty, where the king
(rex) is replaced by the law (lex), a barren standard that will
Gluckman, Max. “Rituals of Rebellion in South-East Africa.” In
never be able to replace the symbolic richness, particularly
Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa, pp. 110–136. London,
as expressed imperially, because this is the best embodiment
of the original model of sovereignty. Even more so than
Hani, Jean. La royauté sacrée: Du pharaon au roi très chrétien. Paris,
Hani, he emphasizes the “prescriptive emptiness of charac-
ter” of sovereignty in the secular age, which is like “a patholo-
Heusch, Luc de. Ecrits sur la royauté sacreé. Brussels, 1987.
gy which denies any meaning to man, alienating man from
Hocart, Arthur M. Kingship. London, 1927.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

International Congress for the History of Religions. The Sacral
A second point has to be highlighted: our knowledge of
Kingship. Leiden, Netherlands, 1959.
the forms of kingship in the ancient civilizations of the Medi-
Kantorowicz, Ernst H. The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Mediae-
terranean depends almost exclusively on written sources; if
val Political Theology. Princeton, N.J., 1957.
these are lacking, our research is forcefully limited. The old-
Kuper, Hilda. An African Aristocracy. London, 1947.
est epigraphs appear around 3100 BCE in the town of Uruk,
Mair, Lucy. African Kingdoms. Oxford, U.K., 1977.
in lower Mesopotamia, when the phenomenon of the birth
Makarius, Laura Levi. Le sacré et la violation des interdits. Paris,
of the first cities was culminating. Unfortunately, these give
no insight into the kind of government ruling the society at
that time. After a short period, writing also appeared in
Meek, Charles K. A Sudanese Kingdom. London, 1931.
Egypt (c. 3000 BCE). It is a common opinion that Mesopota-
Meillassoux, Claude. Anthropologie de l’esclavage. Paris, 1986.
mian influence played a major role in the birth of writing
Mousnier, Roland. Monarchies et royautés: De la préhistoire à nos
in Egypt, which is probably true, but the hieroglyphic system
jours. Paris, 1989.
has distinct and different features from the Mesopotamian
Muller, Jean-Claude. Le roi bouc émissaire. Quebec, 1980.
cuneiform. In Mesopotamia a certain number of archives
Randles, William G. L. L’ancien royaume du Congo des origines à
and libraries throw light on its institutions, but there is a
la fin du XIXe siècle. Paris, 1968.
grave lack of continuity and homogeneous information.
Riccardo, Gaetano. L’immortalità provvisoria: Antropologia del re-
Even more sporadic are the written sources from the Syro-
gicidio rituale in Africa. Turin, Italy, 1997.
Palestinian area where, before the first millennium BCE, we
Sabbatucci, Dario. Il mito, il rito, e la storia. Rome, 1978.
find only the great archive of Ebla (twenty-fourth century
Seligmam, Charles G. Egypt and Negro Africa: A Study in Divine
BCE), Mari (from the same period to the eighteenth century
Kingship. London, 1934.
BCE), and Ugarit and Emar (Late Bronze Age). Anatolia, as
Simonse, Simon. Kings of Disaster. Leiden, Netherlands, 1992.
well, has provided scattered bits of information; one has the
Southall, Aidan W. Alur Society. Cambridge, U.K., 1956.
documents of the Assyrian traders of the beginning of the
second millennium and, afterwards, the archives and library
Tardits, Claude. Le royaume bamoum. Paris, 1980.
of Hattushash-Bogazköy up to about 1200 BCE. Recent dis-
Tardits, Claude. “A propos du pouvoir sacré en Afrique: Que dis-
coveries have added minor archives, although these, too, con-
ent les testes.” Systèmes de pensée en Afrique noire 10 (1990):
tain material restricted to the same time span. The first mil-
lennium is not very well documented by the Hittite
Valeri, Valerio. “Regalità.” In Enciclopedia Einaudi, vol. 11,
hieroglyphic inscriptions (from the Hittite period to the
pp. 742–770. Turin, Italy, 1980.
eighth century BCE) nor by the epigraphs written in the local
Valeri, Valerio. Kingship and Sacrifice: Ritual and Society in Ancient
languages and writings. Ancient Iran is almost completely
Hawaii. Chicago, 1985.
undocumented (with the remarkable exception of the Avesta,
Vansina, Jan. “A Comparation of African Kingdoms.” Africa 32,
written—terminus ante quem—before the fifth century BCE),
no. 4 (1962): 324–335.
in spite of the epigraphic heritage of the so-called proto-
Vansina, Jan. Kingdoms of the Savanna. Madison, Wis., 1966.
Elamic and Elamic, which are both very limited. It is unnec-
Vaughan, James H. “A Reconsideration of Divine Kingship.” In
essary here to list all classical sources in Greek and Latin; one
Explorations in African Systems of Thought, edited by Ivan
must mention however that for various reasons, both the
Karp and Charles S. Bird, pp. 120–142. Bloomington, Ind.,
Linear B for Greece and the heritage of the Etruscan and Ital-
ic epigraphs provide insufficient information. As can be seen,
Volkoff, Vladimir. Du roi. Paris, 1987.
extremely widespread areas and long periods are completely
Young, Michael W. “The Divine Kingship of the Jukun: A Re-
obscure or inadequately documented by the sources. This sit-
Evaluation of Some Theories.” Africa 36 (1966): 135–152.
uation greatly limits our present possibilities of knowledge.
MESOPOTAMIA. According to the present state of knowledge,
Translated from Italian by Paul Ellis
the most ancient form of kingship is connected to the birth
of an urban society in the Low Mesopotamia toward the end
of the fourth millennium BCE. A rich stock of technical expe-
rience from the Chalcolithic era, certain favorable ecological
and climatic changes, and an increase in population contrib-
It is important to underline that the concept of “oriental des-
uted to the birth of the first city, Uruk (perhaps an analogous
potism” deriving from the Bible is an ethnocentric concept
yet independent process started in High Mesopotamia). This
that must be left aside. The general features of the Near East-
process was connoted by the creation of a bureaucratic appa-
ern kingships show a steady and strict bond with the cosmic
ratus and by the hierarchical partition of depersonalized
order, just as the gods wanted it to be and to be maintained.
work. However, it is not possible to obtain any direct infor-
The sovereign, therefore—far from giving way to his
mation about the form of government of this society. Not-
whims—constantly had to conform his behavior to superior
withstanding the privileged condition afforded by the great
heavenly principles.
amount of written documents discovered, it is yet not possi-
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ble—due to the characteristics of the texts themselves—to
ty, and the king demonstrates in this way that he has
adequately answer any questions on fundamental topics re-
achieved the god Enki/Ea’s knowledge (Matthiae, 1994)
lated to Mesopotamian kingship.
after having first established justice, enlarged the cosmos or
contained chaos (all errands exalting his solar character).
The whole Mesopotamian civilization constantly strove
to conform human society to the model offered by the divine
Although these ideas have remained the same for more
than three thousand years, it is understandable that their
world. In the pantheon, below the remote heaven god An
forms in history changed with the times. The spatial repre-
was Enlil (Lord Wind), who, as the only one who could
sentation of the king as the center of his kingdom shifted
touch the unreachable sky of his father, An, played a very
onto a time level when large kingdoms of nomadic origin
forceful role on earth. Enlil was the king of all gods, and they
took form in Mesopotamia (the comparison with the biblical
would travel to his see, his temple in Nippur, to draw from
patriarchs is immediate [Hallo, 1970]). Their legitimation
him his superior divine power. Under his rule, the demiurge
stemmed from the long list of their nomadic ancestry, where-
god, Enki, ascribed specific tasks to every single divinity,
as in the Sumerian world it was the town, as the see of the
each of whom had his see in a particular city. Enlil (named
god and thus the point of contact between the divine and
“the trader” for his mediating function) constituted the para-
human spheres, which legitimized the king’s position. The
digm of kingship: from their various sees and tasks the gods
dynastic tallies listing the nomadic ancestors corresponded
were unified under his authority and, through him, could
to the “Sumerian King List,” a long text arranged as a se-
reach—albeit in an indirect way—the summit of the sky. In
quence of cities. This catalog, which begins with the words
the same way, the king, being the vertex of society, acted as
“When kingship descended from heaven,” lists—city by
the point of contact between the latter and the world of the
city—the kings who ruled them. It begins with the mythical
gods. Wolfgang Heimpel presented a theory (1992), based
kings who lived before the Flood and reigned for thousands
on consistent clues, about the passage from a form of a king-
of years each; then the list continues on until historical times.
ship, which was temporally limited and elective (by means
According to the organization of the list, only one city at
of oracles, related to the royal title en), to a dynastic form,
time was dominant in Mesopotamia (which is surely histori-
legitimized by royal birth (related to the royal title lugal). Su-
cally incorrect). The end of a certain city’s dominion is
merian literature explicitly states that kingship, besides being
marked by the entry of the sum of the years of reign of its
of divine origin because it descends from the heaven of the
single kings and with the sentence “its (of that city) kingship
gods, makes possible civilization, the acme of which resided
was carried to . . . (name of another city).” As Claus Wilcke
in worship (the relationship with the gods) and justice (the
(1989) demonstrated, the series of the dominant cities fol-
preservation of the order the gods wanted). Humanity, being
lows a predetermined order, which is regularly repeated—a
the consignee of such an important gift, must certainly play
further element indicating a function unconnected with the
a central role in the universe.
recording of historical events. In fact, this list was probably
Various anthropogonic myths tell how humans were
composed during the dynasties of Ur III (2112–2004 BCE)
created from the gods in order to relieve the inferior divini-
and Isin (2017–1794 BCE), and its compilation aimed at le-
ties from the trouble of running the cosmos. The human
gitimizing those dynasties.
task, therefore, is a task of divine level, and it was with this
The contact between the king and the divine took on
aim that man had been brought into being by mixing clay
peculiar forms, such as the Holy Wedding (hieros gamos)
with the flesh and blood of a killed god. The sovereign is,
when the king, playing the god Dumuzi, married the goddess
therefore, he who leads society towards the realization of the
Inanna in order to attract divine benevolence down onto his
divine design, which is made known to him by means of divi-
reign. Another form was the divination of the king. Both
natory practices: according to one tradition, the primeval
forms are found in the second half of the third millennium
sovereigns were the keepers of the divinatory science (Lam-
until the second half of the second: they overlapped but were
bert, 1967). In relation to the gods, the king is thus the vertex
not directly connected and were extinguished during the Old
of humanity. The reign is therefore thought of as an ordered
Babylonian period (twentieth–sixteenth century BCE). The
area (cosmos), departing from a “center”—the point where
king was legitimized politically by his birth, but from a reli-
the horizontal surface of the world of men meets the vertical
gious point of view, it was necessary that he have a divine
axis elevating to the heaven of the gods; it is this connection
rebirth (probably through a royal initiation) from which he
that defends the reign (i.e., cosmos) against the unruliness
appeared to have been generated by particular divinities (Sjö-
of chaos. The breaking of this axis causes the collapse of the
berg, 1972). It must be stressed, however, that even those
kingdom’s defenses, thereby allowing the devastating forces
sovereigns who were divinized while yet living and whose im-
of chaos to rush in. As is unequivocally clear, this “center”
ages were worshipped after their deaths were never consid-
is represented on a social level by the temple (the see of the
ered to be living divinities, such as the Egyptian pharaohs,
city-god) and by the king. In this context the king is seen
and their conduct was constantly and exclusively guided by
as the steward of the god housed in the temple. It is the god
the oracles.
who is the veritable owner of the kingdom. Thus, the build-
In Assyria in the earliest period, before Shamshi-Adad
ing of his temple is the culminating point of the king’s activi-
I’s reign (1812-1780 BCE), the king appeared as the executor
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of the citizen’s assembly; he did not have the title king, which
other gods at a distance. (It must be noted that the Sumerian
belonged to the city-god Ashur, but rather that of his vicar,
king of the gods, Enlil—whose name means “Lord Wind”—
a title also connected to sacerdotal functions. It was only
played an analogous role of separation and connection.) In-
when Assyria began an expansionistic policy that this frame
deed, kingship finds its raison d’être in this detachment, for
was changed and became definitive—after discontinuous
it is the king who must guarantee the continuity of the rela-
events, under King Tukulti-Ninurta I (second half of the
tionship with the now-distant gods. Jan Assmann (1990)
thirteenth century BCE), until the end of the empire (612–
points out the analogy with the Christian church, whose very
610 BCE). The earliest phase of this transformation, due to
existence was made necessary by the distance between man
Shamshi-Adad I, saw the introduction of the idea of legiti-
and Christ’s coming. It thus becomes clear why Egypt did
mation by means of the list of ancestors, as happened in Bab-
not leave any codices or collections of laws: every single pha-
ylonia (king Ammi-saduqa: 1646–1626 BCE). A further form
raoh was the only one to determine justice, because it was
of legitimating—not excluding the preceding ones—is given
he who made the realization of maat possible. As the oppo-
by the divinity’s choice by means of divination. This may
nent of isfet, the pharaoh was also the defender of the poor.
have been the condition that allowed Asarhaddon (680–669
The pharaoh was at the center of other binary systems,
BCE) to ascend the throne (Asarhaddon was the youngest son
even if on completely different levels. Every king, at the mo-
of king Sennacherib and was chosen by his father to succeed
ment he assumed his power, thereby also renewed the unifi-
to the throne on grounds of many oracular responses; as a
cation between High and Low Egypt (the diversity of which
matter of fact it was his mother who managed to have his
is expressed even in their names, Shema and Mehu, which
son chosen instead of his elder brothers, sons of other wives
respectively referred to the gods Horus and Seth). The oppo-
and concubines of the king), or that endorsed the result of
sition of the two gods, which is the basis of the Egyptian
a conjure, taken as an ordeal, as in the case of Nabonedo
kingship, is not merely geographic, but also corresponds to
(555–539 BCE) (Nabonedo was a usurper who took power
the opposition between order and chaos, right and violence.
illegally, delcaring himself the legitimate successor because
Horus must prevail over the wild Seth by taming him into
astrological and oneiromantic omina decreed he had to be
a form of unity in a continuously repeated dynamic process.
the heir of the previous kings). In other very numerous oc-
For this reason, the pharaoh wore the crowns of both High
currences the gods’ choice blended royal descent with gods’
and Low Egypt; as king of High Egypt he was named njswt,
will, for the dynasty itself was but a manifestation of the
and as king of Low Egypt, bjt. At the sides of his throne the
images of the gods Horus and Seth held the hieroglyph
EGYPT. The peculiar feature of the Egyptian king, the pha-
meaning “to unify.”
raoh, consisted in his being the image of the supreme sun
The pharaoh was thought to be destined to join the sun
god of the Egyptians, Re-Atum, who wanted him as his suc-
god after his death, when “his divine body coalesces with its
cessor in the world of the living so that he could maintain
sire.” In each kingly succession, indeed, there was a reenact-
worship and justice between humans (as did his Mesopota-
ment of the mythical struggle between the god Osiris (son
mian counterpart). However, the Egyptians had a more com-
of Geb, the earth god, and Nut, the sky goddess)—the first
plex idea of their sovereign’s function than the Mesopota-
king and Nile god, god of cereals, and lord of the dead—and
mians had: they saw in him one who would fulfil the concept
his brother and murderer, Seth, followed by the revenge
of maat, thereby annihilating isfet at the same time. The
taken on Seth by Osiris’s son and successor, the young god
word maat conveys the idea of an all-pervading cosmic order:
Horus. Even until much later times, the destructiveness of
it is the principle according to which the universe had been
Seth was a fundamental power in the creation of the uni-
created. The world lost touch with this principle, and there-
verse, because only by its working alongside order was the
fore no longer corresponded to its original state of order. The
birth of the cosmos possible. In the end, as the direct heir
opposite of maat, isfet (defect) conveys the sense of disorder
of Osiris, and therefore of Geb, Shu, and Ra, Horus himself
that comes into being wherever and whenever the relation-
assurged to the undivided power. So, in Egyptian religious
ship with the creator principle is lost: illness, crime, misery,
thought, Horus was the living pharaoh, and Osiris was his
war, lies—everything, in short, that makes history—are all
dead predecessor.
episodes of isfet. The pharaoh, helped by the two cosmic
forces sia (knowledge) and hu (word), can restore the prime-
Kings, “souls,” and ancestors. The superiority of the
val “wealth” that conforms to maat. He is, consequently, one
monarchs was expressed not only by their connection or
of the three poles of a triad formed with the god and the
identification with deities: the king was also superior to his
maat. When he identifies himself with the latter, he becomes
subjects because his ka (vital force, a spiritual twin that lives
“one body with the god,” and his will cannot but be good.
on after the death of the physical body) was different from
From a cosmological point of view, after the divine world
that of commoners. The pharaoh’s ka was shown on monu-
had been set apart from the human world, only the god of
ments in the shape of the monarch’s identical twin; as the
the air, Shu, the prototype of kingship, could make possible
king’s protector in death, it announced the arrival of the dead
a form of communication between the worlds, while at the
monarch to the gods in heaven, and it was identified (Frank-
same time keeping the heaven of the creator Sun-god and the
fort, 1948) with the placenta enwrapping the newborn king.
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One of the standards that accompanied the king during festi-
tinato and Pelio Fronzaroli), it is still impossible to outline
vals and processions probably represented the royal placenta,
a reliable picture of kingship in Ebla (about 70 kilometers
and may have been the image of the king’s ka.
south of Aleppo; mid-third millennium BCE). Through the
Other standards accompanying the king represented his
nomenclature it is evident that the Eblaite queen had a par-
ancestral spirits (in Egyptian, ba), whose functions were to
ticular role, but the mechanism of the institution is far from
give life to the pharaoh, thus protecting the land, and, after
clear. In Mari (medium Euphrates; early second millennium
his death, to prepare his ascent to the heavens. The standards
BCE), the two concepts of the holiness of the king and of the
thus played an important part in kingly rituals. The fact that
king’s role in assuring justice became intermingled and
they were classified in two subgroups, the souls of Pe and the
formed one inseparable idea. (This passed—through the me-
souls of Nekhen, may point to an early artificial combination
diation of the Bible—into the Christian concept of king-
of two series of kingly ancestors, from southern and northern
ship.) The king was anointed (a habit alien to Mesopotamia,
Egypt, respectively. Pe was an ancient town of the Delta, and
yet documented in Ebla, where it was not restricted to sover-
Nekhen was one of the South. In a certain way both towns
eigns alone), and by means of this rite, his state was changed
represent the two original distinct political units of the peri-
and he consequently acquired major authority. The practice
od before the unification.
of anointing was directly related to the main function of the
king, namely that of “king of justice,” “the good shepherd”
Kingly rituals. The main rituals of the Egyptian state
who protects the weak. This idea of justice, therefore, went
were kingly rituals sanctioning the various aspects of the
beyond the boundaries of the law and centered on the king’s
royal succession, a delicate mechanism that ensured the con-
personal subjective beliefs, which determined the king’s in-
tinuity of the social order. The death of the old king was fol-
terference and were completely unrelated to the kind of jus-
lowed by a period during which the new pharaoh assumed
tice that the judges were expected to apply. According to the
power, visited sanctuaries throughout Egypt, and issued his
law, the weak might be in the wrong, but the sovereign
protocols, while his father’s body and funerary temple were
would protect them. Another peculiar feature that is also
prepared for the burial rites. During this period, the kas
found in the Bible was the use of the donkey as the proper
mount for the legitimate king. In contrast to the horse,
On the day of the royal funerary ritual, a series of lita-
which was used in war and thus conveyed an idea of violence,
nies, spells, and incantations were probably recited, insisting
the donkey became the symbol of the triumphant peace,
on the identification of the dead pharaoh with Osiris (and
which the king was seen to have realized through his submis-
of the pharoah’s son with Horus), and on the dead mon-
sion to the gods (Lafont, 1998, pp. 161–166).
arch’s glorious survival in heaven, where he was embraced by
In the Ugaritic texts (late second millennium BCE), how-
the god Atum or received by the souls of Pe and Nekhen.
ever, we find an important trait of kingship ideology in
The king was buried as an embalmed mummy in his funerary
Bronze Age Syria: the cult of the dead kings, which apparent-
abode, and was symbolically located in the regions where his
ly began at the time of the Amorite dynasties. In Ugarit the
life continued (the netherworld, the west, and the north near
royal ancestors, the most ancient of which were probably
the circumpolar stars). While the dead king ruled as Osiris
mythical, called rapium (“healers, saviors”; compare with the
among the dead, his son ruled on earth, in perfect continuity.
biblical refa Eim), were worshipped with offerings and period-
The day after the celebration of the dead king’s heavenly
ic rites.
survival, the coronation of the new pharaoh took place. It
was usually made to coincide with the New Year’s Day or
In the first millennium BCE, traces of both the Phoeni-
with some other important beginning in nature’s cycle. The
cian and Aramean kingship ideology are attested to by alpha-
ritual involved cultic practices in the dual shrines of the royal
betic inscriptions. The godlike qualities of monarchs were
ancestral spirits of Pe and Nekhen, and it culminated in the
sometimes indicated, but the main aspects of kingship were
placing of the two crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt on the
the ruler’s upholding of justice and peace and his role as a
pharaoh’s head. A further important kingly ritual was the Sed
servant of the gods. They repaid him by giving peace and
festival, which took place once or several times during a pha-
abundance to his kingdom. One Aramaic inscription, how-
raoh’s reign. This renewal of the kingly power was held on
ever, seems to present the king as enjoying a special existence
the anniversary of the pharoah’s coronation. It included a
(“drinking” with the storm god) after his death.
procession; the offering of gifts to the gods; pledges of loyalty
The Israelite monarchy in the Bible was not devoid of
by the king; visits to shrines; the dedication of a field to the
such “sacral” traits, and specific ritual aspects such as royal
gods by the pharaoh, who twice ran across it in the four di-
anointing and royal burial rites are described in the biblical
rections of the compass, first as king of Upper, then Lower
texts with some precision. Yet, the Bible presents the kings
Egypt; and the shooting of arrows by the king in these four
as mere servants of the heavenly king and sole true god, Yah-
directions, symbolically winning him control of the whole
weh, and it denies them any superhuman powers or destiny.
Moreover, kingship is presented as a foreign institution
adopted by the Israelites, and most Israelite kings are depict-
great efforts of specialized scholars (including Giovanni Pet-
ed as unfaithful to the national deity, whereas the prophets
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

of Yahweh play an important role in condemning monarchs
their new acquisitions, the Achaemenid kings incorporated
on behalf of their god, and sometimes in anointing new and
the royal ideology of the defeated people into their own one.
more pious kings to replace them. In the exilic and postexilic
In the extension of their wide empire, therefore, the Achae-
texts, many aspects of the Near Eastern kingship ideology
menids everywhere impersonated the legitimate successors of
(but not the divine nature of monarchs) seem to have con-
the former dynasties, but it was the conquest of Babylon
verged in the eschatological expectations of the Israelites,
(539 BCE) that determined this political choice. The basic
who had no kings of their own, but awaited the return of
concepts of the Achaemenid kingship are traced back to the
a descendant of the Davidic dynasty. In this sense, the roots
ideology of the Assyrian-Babylonian monarchy rather than
of Jewish and Christian messianism must be sought in the
to the Indo-European political institutions, as Gnoli demon-
kingship ideology of the ancient Near East.
strated. This borrowing however, was tempered by the pecu-
liar feature of the Zoroastrian thought that patently differen-
ITTITE KINGSHIP. By far the most important form of writ-
ing used in Anatolia was the cuneiform script imported from
tiated it from the other religious worlds of the ancient Near
Mesopotamia (naturally, also ideograms and standard forms
East—the dualistic opposition between Ohrmazd-
of handwriting were used). Thus, even if one knows that the
Ahuramazda and Ahreman. This opposition mirrored a
Hittite word for king is hashshu- (this term, though infre-
deeper cosmological level than the idea of contrast between
quent, is written in the cuneiform Hittite texts), one does not
chaos and order in Mesopotamian thought. The expected
know for certain whether the Sumerian and Akkadian terms
conclusive victory of Ohrmazd, with the final annihilation
(respectively lugal and sharru, both used as ideograms, even
of Ahreman, is a unique component in all the Ancient Near
if written in cuneiform) for the title of sovereign correspond-
East. The forms of kingship, from that of the Achaemenids
ed exactly to the local usage. This problem was already evi-
to that of the Sasanians, are all determined by this funda-
dent at the time of the paleo-Assyrian colonies (beginning
mental idea of rigid dualism, which Pettazzoni (1920) drew
of the second millennium BCE). In texts, the Hittite sover-
nearer to monotheistic than to polytheistic religions—this is
eigns used the ideogram LUGAL (“king” in Sumerian) not
not a paradox. It was then inconceivable that a sovereign ap-
only for themselves but also for the sovereigns for neighbor-
pears as a god. The Greeks, for their convenience, translated
ing states. In Late Bronze Age politics the title LUGAL.GAL
with the same term, theos, both the Iranian words bay and
(Sumerian for “great king”) was used to refer to the sover-
yazad, but only the former (which also means “[divine] dis-
eigns of Egypt and Babylonia as well as to the Hittite king
tributor”) actually referred to the king; the latter term was
himself, to distinguish them from sovereigns of politically
limited to the divinities only. Bay was a king’s title because
less important states. In this period the Hittite king was re-
of his role in the first line against the forces of evil, not be-
ferred to with the epithet “my sun” (shamshi in Akkadian
cause of his divinization. The king, indeed, played a key role
script), which was perhaps of Egyptian derivation or an elab-
in creation, in which the battle between Ohrmazd and Ahre-
oration of Mesopotamian elements. The characteristic title,
man is fought. For this reason an initiatory rite, perhaps
however, was tabarna, derived from the name of the first
based on the mystical union with the deceased ancestors, be-
great Hittite king, Labarna (a process analogous to Latin
came necessary in the enthroning process during the Achae-
“Cæsar,” t and l refer to intermediate sounds); the feminine
menid period, and some buildings in Pasargade and Naqsh-i
form, tawananna, referred to the king mother, to whom spe-
Rustam may have been mainly destined for that function. In
cial cultural functions were given. The significance given to
the Sasanian period, on the other hand, the king assumed
divine support was a characteristic of the Hittite monarchy,
those astral traits, which made him a “cosmocrator.” Indeed,
which was taken to extremes by Hattushili III (1275–1260
like the stars, the king was endowed with xwarrah (roughly
BCE) to legitimate his coup d’état. Numerous have been
translated as “brightness, glory,” also to vital energy), and be-
found that bear oracles for the interpretation of divine will
cause his “form” is an image of the gods, this makes his xwar-
and thus provide clues to the reasons that determined unfa-
rah similar to theirs as well. In any case, alive or dead, the
vorable political events. After the king’s death a complex rit-
Iranian king never became a god, even if while living he as-
ual based on the cremation of his body took place, and food
sumed some distinctive traits which were to make him differ-
was ritually offered to the dead monarch. When the texts
ent from all other men, and notwithstanding the fact that
refer to a king’s death, they speak of his “becoming a god.”
he was a living image of the gods (although he never identi-
These elements cannot, however, be taken to indicate the
fied himself with them). He was allowed to enjoy “rightness”
divinization of the sovereign during his lifetime, although
in the netherworld for his right behavior while living, as
this did happen—to an extent—later, from the middle of the
could any other person who had done the same.
thirteenth century BCE onwards, in the major celebration of
GREECE AND HELLENISM. Four very different forms of king-
monarchy from Hattushili III until the fall of the empire.
ship succeeded in ancient Greece: the Mycenaean, the Ho-
IRAN. From the nomadic life in a semidesertic land, the tribes
meric, the archaic and the classical, and the Hellenistic. Little
of the Persians and the Medes became—in a relatively short
is known about kingship in Crete in Minoan times
period of time—the conquerors of great kingdoms, the capi-
(c. 2500–c. 1500 BCE), and in Greece and Crete in Mycenae-
tals of which were fully developed cities. This rather sudden
an times (c. 1600–c. 1100 BCE), because the relevant texts
change bore important consequences. In order to control
have either not yet been translated (the Minoan Linear A in-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

scriptions) or are concerned mainly with problems of admin-
Kingship is an expression of strength. M. I. Finley
istration (the Mycenaean Linear B texts, in a language that
(1956) mentions the term iphi (“with strength”) in theoriz-
is an ancestor of ancient Greek). Archaeology and the study
ing why Odysseus’s father, Laertes, was not the king in the
of the Egyptian texts (where the Cretans were named Keftiu)
twenty-year absence of his son because, being an aged per-
provide evidence of the regular relationship—which was not
son, he was not strong enough to assure his rule, and his fam-
limited to trade—that flourished from the third millennium
ily, in which the young Telemachus was the only man, could
BCE between the Aegean civilizations and Egypt and Syria
not guarantee it. It is also not clear why marriage to Penelope
(city of Biblos).
would have legitimated the new king, chosen among her
suitors (in the same way, the usurper Aegistus, in Argos, mar-
Minoan and Mycenaean kingship. These relations
ried Agamemnon’s wife). Power is personal, and supported
had an incisive influence on the Aegean world as well as on
by the family. Central to this system was the oikos, an almost
the institution of the Mycenaean kingship, about which lim-
self-sufficient productive unit where relatives assembled,
ited information exists. As for the Minoan kingship, it could
hetairoi (“comrades”) rallied to war campaigns, and different
be of some interest that the sovereigns were embalmed with
classes of servants and helpers set to everyday tasks. The king
the oil of Syrian firs. The lack of royal tombs in Crete before
summoned an assembly of the citizens, but it was merely a
the Santorini eruption (c. 1530 BCE) and the uncertain desti-
consultative organ, and decision making was held firmly in
nation of the “palaces” (perhaps only cultic places) demon-
the king’s own hands. The social pattern of the organization
strate against a possible divine or divinely inspired kingship
of power may be defined thus: the assembly listens, the elders
(on which, see Marinatos, 1995), which was introduced only
propose, the king disposes. In particular circumstances such
later, after that disaster (Driessen, 2003).
as warfare and journeys, the king might celebrate sacrifices
to the gods, as had the Mycenaean wanax. The king was al-
The Mycenaean kingship covered both political and re-
ways at the head of his army, which he personally led in war,
ligious spheres. The king (wanax) was an overlord who ruled
and the aristocracy would lend him their men as warriors (all
over the local kings (whose title was the archaic form of ba-
the heroes of the Homeric poems are aristocrats, if not
siléus). His kingdom never reached an extent comparable to
kings). In conclusion, it may be safely stated that the Homer-
that of the Near Eastern empires, even if it was formed on
ic king enjoyed geras (“privilege” and “honor,” which is also
their model. Besides civil functions, the administrative re-
expressed by time) that made him owner of the temenos, a
cords in Linear B show that the king had at least partial con-
plot of particularly fertile land (also, shrines of the gods); as
trol of the cultic organization. It is unclear whether this two-
a leader, he had to show both metis (“prudence”) and valor.
fold role is related to the Indo-European heritage (see
In every circumstance, he had to demonstrate that he de-
Dumézil, 1977). The term wanax disappeared with the fall
served his time.
of the Mycenaean civilization. When indeed this state system
collapsed around 1100 BCE, many other aspects of that cul-
Kingship in the poleis and Spartan diarchy. After
tural tradition, including writing, were lost.
many centuries, a profound social transformation led to the
birth of a new organization, the typically Greek polis, or city-
Homeric kingship. Kingship, as it was represented in
state. Although kingdoms survived in the periphery of the
the Homeric world, seems to have kept few traits of continu-
new Greek world, the polis was a structure that had no place
ity with what is known of the Mycenaean civilization. It has
for monarchies of the type discussed above, although some
to be stressed that since the depiction of the social and politi-
kingly functions were inherited by magistrates, and there is
cal institutions is always coherent in both the Homeric
even evidence of restricted forms of kingship (e.g., the Spar-
poems (the Iliad and the Odyssey), it is evident that in the
tan diarchy). The diarchy was more a concurrent lifetime
age of their composition, the eighth century BCE, these insti-
leadership of two strategoi (“strategists,” a sort of magistrates)
tutions still existed. The poet described them in a slightly
than a true form of kingship, notwithstanding its hereditary
more archaic way as they actually were (Carlier, 1996,
characteristic. It was this feature that qualified the two kings
p. 294). The king is named basileus—an approximate trans-
of Sparta with respect to their magical and religious func-
lation of the Greek term, which must be understood as “king
tions, based on the reference of the divine couple of twins,
of a community,” not of a state; the word is also employed
the Dioscuri (Carlier, 1984, pp. 296–301). The system was
to indicate the chief of an aristocratic oikos (“household,
very stable, and it lasted for about five centuries.
manor”). The royal power seemed to have been related to the
The same religious concerns are to be found in the Athe-
power of a clan, and the king himself rather resembled a pater
nian monarchy. Both the king (basileus) and, when monar-
familias. The mechanisms of the succession are obscure, but
chy disappeared, the magistrate (also called basileus) were ac-
a conflict between the aristocracy and the royal family, will-
tive characters in the rites of the city cults, which included
ing to affirm the dynastic principle, is evident. The king
the hierogamic ceremony symbolizing the union of the city
therefore appears to have been a primus inter pares; a vague
(represented by the queen) with the god Dionysos.
hint of the wanax is kept in Agamemnon’s attribute “anax
” Carlier compares wanax to Imperial Latin dominus,
The monarchical tendencies of some rulers (tu-rannoi)
“lord” (1996, p. 268).
of cities in the seventh to fourth centuries BCE were excep-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

tional and short-lived, though they arose again and again, es-
publican oligarchies took control; besides an ordo principum
pecially in the colonial worlds of Sicily and Asia Minor. It
(probably analogous to the Roman senate), one or more like-
was only when the polis system declined and the peripheral
ly more zilath / zilach (praetor) were ruling. The dodecapolis
Macedonian dynasty gained control over Greece and later
league was active in the republican period as well, and elected
conquered the Iranian Empire that the Greek-speaking
the zilath mechl rasnal (i.e., the praetor Etruriae).
world had to come to terms with the power of the Macedo-
ROME. The mythology regarding the foundation of Rome
nian kings (basileis), while most cities maintained, at least
gives expression to different phases of the beginnings of the
formally, their traditional regimes.
city and of its primitive kingship. Romulus, who founded the
After the death of Alexander the Great of Macedonia
city of Rome on the Palatine hill and whose name the city
therefore bears, was a foreign king—an Alban from a region
BCE), his empire was divided among his successors. The
Near East of the Hellenistic age became a series of monar-
about 40 kilometers to the south. The phrase populus Ro-
chies headed by kings of Macedonian descent. These king-
manus Quiritesque (the Roman people and the Quirites) thus
doms were ruled, and profoundly influenced culturally, by
indicates the superimposition of Rome on the inhabitants of
an elite of Greek soldiers and administrators. Hellenistic
the proto-urban settlements of the other nearby hills, specifi-
kingship ideology, like Hellenistic culture in general, was a
cally the Quirites, who had the system of the curiae (the curia
combination of Greek (Macedonian) and traditional Near
was a division of the three original Romulean tribes, Ramnes,
Eastern traits. Kings were believed to be descendants of di-
Tites and Luceres, and was the basic element of the assembly,
vine ancestors (through Alexander), godlike—in some cases,
comitia curiata), which Romulus’s reign centralized into a
divine—in life, and surviving as gods after their death. The
unique political formation. On the one hand, the murder
court etiquette and the rituals of kingship, so far as can be
and dismemberment of Romulus by the senators, each of
ascertained, were derived mainly from the Iranian, Egyptian,
whom carried home limbs of his body, represents the trans-
and other Near Eastern traditions.
formation of Romulus into Quirinus, the god of the Qui-
rites, but on the other hand, it also expresses the return of
ETRUSCANS. In modern times some progress in the research
the power to the curiae, who will choose the new king. This
on the mechanism on the Etruscan kingship was achieved by
system was in use up until the reign of Tarquinius Priscus
integrating the scarce data from the written Etruscan sources
(Carandini, 2002, pp. 197–207). With this latest king the
(because of their celebrative character, most of the funerary
Etruscan influence became very incisive, and it continued to
epigraphs are of little relevance in this kind of inquiry) with
be decisive until the fall of the monarchy. The forms of cult
the comparison of the data related to the earliest Roman his-
changed dramatically; amongst other innovations, the trium-
tory and of the archaeological documentation. Apart from
phus, originally a theophany in which the god Jupiter appears
the Greek metropolises of the south (Magna Gaecia) of a
to guarantee an incipient welfare, was introduced. Though
clearly foreign tradition, the development of urban civiliza-
often changed in its constitutive traits, celebration of the tri-
tion in Italy can be ascribed to the Etruscans. Etruscan ur-
umphus was to last in the Roman tradition (Versnel, 1970).
banization grew through subsequent phases, each of which
From the sixth century BCE, Rome was a republic head-
produced its relative form of government. In the first phase
ed by an aristocracy of senatores and governed by elected
villages merged, under the stimulus of their aristocracies, into
magistrates. Indeed, the antimonarchic ideology of ancient
a single unit of superior order, thus beginning the growth of
Rome was such that when—after the Roman conquest of
metropolises (from the ninth to the sixth centuries BCE). The
most of the Mediterranean world—the crisis of the republi-
city was ruled by a king (lucumo) whose institutional features
can state led to the rise of a new form of monarchy, the rulers
are unfortunately obscure. A lictor preceding him, his gold
did not take on the traditional title of Indo-European origin,
crown, his ivory throne, his sceptre surmounted by an eagle,
rex (king), but were called imperator, a word denoting the tri-
and his purple toga and mantle were all signs of his rank. The
umphing war leader of republican times. The Roman Em-
ceremony of the triumph, in which the king personified a
pire lasted from the first century BCE to the late fifth century
deity, together with the ludi and other insignias of regal
CE, and the ideology of rulership changed profoundly during
power, was probably introduced in Rome by the Etruscan
its history. Its original traits included the cult of the emper-
dynasty of the Tarquini.
or’s genius (personality, double) and the deification of the
The assembly of the twelve lucumones of the Etruscan
dead emperor through a complex ritual involving cremation
dodecapolis was held near the Fanum Voltumnae (the temple
and the flight of his spirit to the heavens in the form of an
of the protector god, or genius, of Etruria—deus Etruriae
eagle flying from the funeral pyre. But these soon gave way—
princeps), most probably located near present-day Orvieto.
first in the eastern provinces and then in the entire imperial
There a magistrate was elected whose functions were superior
territory—to other forms of ruler worship, such as the identi-
to the particularism of the single polis and who was, there-
fication of the emperor with mythical figures or gods, which
fore, preceded by twelve lictors as a sign of his position. The
were often directly imported by monarchs from the local cul-
subsequent progression of the mercantile middle class led to
tures of their provincial homelands.
seigniories similar to Greek “tyrannies.” Toward the end of
The emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
the sixth century and during all of the fifth century BCE, re-
in the late fourth century was the starting point of a further
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

profound transformation in the imperial ideology. Obvious-
ly, the new Christian rulers could not be considered divine,
Assmann, Jan. Maat: Gerechtigkeit und Unsterblickeit im alten
yet many aspects of the system of beliefs, rituals, and eti-
Ägypten. Munich, 1990.
quette typical of the imperial monarchy were adapted to the
Assmann, Jan. Herrschaft und Heil. Politische Theologie in Altägyp-
new religious context. According to the Triakontaeterikos, a
ten, Israel, und Europa. Munich and Vienna, 2000.
treatise on imperial power by the Christian writer Eusebius
Frankfort, Henri. Ancient Egyptian Religion. New York, 1948.
of Caesarea (fourth century), the whole cosmos is a monar-
chic state (basileia, monarchia) ruled by the Christian God,
Coppens, Joseph. Le messianisme royal. Paris, 1968.
and it is the emperor’s task to imitate the divine monarch.
De Fraine, Jean. L’aspect religieux de la royauté israélite. Rome,
The final result of the process of ideological transformation
that began with Constantine was the ideology of the Chris-
Fronzaroli, Pelio. Archivi reali di Ebla. Testi –X I. Testi rituali della
tian ruler. This was the basis of Byzantine kingship ideology,
regalità (Archivio L. 2769). Rome, 1993.
and it later joined with other (mainly Celtic and Germanic)
traditions to form medieval theories of kingship.
Lafont, S. “Le roi, le juge, et l’étranger à Mari et dans la Bible.”
Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale 92 (1998):
SEE ALSO Dumuzi; Twins; Utu.
Pettinato, Giovanni. Il rituale per la successione al trono ad Ebla.
Rome, 1992.
The bibliography on this subject is huge, and it is not always easy
Widengren, Geo. Sakrales Königtum im Alten Testament und im
to select from it without omitting important contributions.
Judentum. Stuttgart, Germany, 1955.
On the sacral kingship of the ancient Near East, one should
see the following.
Gnoli, Gherardo. “Politica religiosa e concezione della regalità
General Studies
sotto gli Achemenidi.” In Gururajamañjarika. Studi in onore
Gadd, Cyrill J. Ideas of Divine Rule in the Ancient Near East. Ox-
di G. Tucci, pp. 23–88. Naples, Italy, 1974.
ford, 1948.
Gnoli, Gherardo. “L’Iran tardoantico e la regalità sassanide.” Me-
Frankfort, Henri. Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near
diterraneo Antico. Economie società culture 1, no. 1 (1998):
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reprint, Chicago, 1978.
Panaino, Antonio. “The Bagan of the Fratrakas: Gods or ‘Divine’
Kings?” In Religiuos Themes and Texts of Pre-Islamic Iran and
Finkelstein, Jacob J. “The Antidiluvian Kings: A University of
Cantral Asia. Studies in Honour of Prof. G. Gnoli on the Occa-
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C. G. Cereti, M. Maggi, and E. Provasi, pp. 265–288. Wies-
Hallo, William W. “Antediluvian Cities.” Journal of Cuneiform
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Studies 23 (1970): 57–67.
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and Byzantine Worlds.” In Atti del Convegno internazionale
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Giorgieri, M., and C. Mora. Aspetti della regalità ittita nel XIII se-
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colo a. C. Como, Italy, 1996.
Cuneiform Studies 21 (1967): 126–138.
Pettazzoni, Raffaele. La religione di Zarathustra nella storia religiosa
Lambert, Wilfred G. “The Seed of Kingship.” In Le palais et la
dell’Iran. Bologna, Italy, 1920.
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tionale 19 (1971)
, pp. 427–440. Paris, 1974.
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ited by Dietrich Otto Edzard, pp. 342–345. Berlin and New
Matthiae, P. Il sovrano e l’opera. Rome and Bari, Italy, 1994.
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Michalowski, Piotr. “History as Charter—Some Observations on
the Sumerian King List.” Journal of the American Oriental So-
Van den Hout, Theo P. J. Tudhalija Kosmokrator. Gedachten over
ciety 103 (1983): 237–224.
ikonografie en ideologie van een hettitische koning. Amsterdam,
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ited by Otto Dietrich Edzard, pp. 140–173. Berlin and New
York, 1983.
Carlier, Pierre. La royauté en Grèce avant Alexandre. Strasbourg,
Sjöberg, Ake. “Die göttliche Abstammung der sumerisch-
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babylonischen Herrscher.” Orientalia Suecana 21 (1972):
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Greci, vol. 2, edited by S. Settis, pp. 255–294. Torino, Italy,
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Dumézil, George. Les dieux souverains des Indo-Européens. Paris,
ricultural problems put their faith in a king whose vitality
magically ensured the abundance of the harvest and whose
Finley, M. I. The World of Odysseus. London, 1956.
death at the hands of a stronger challenger corresponded effi-
Marinatos, Nanno. “Divine Kingship in Minoan Crete.” In The
caciously to the seedtime planting of the next crop. Early eth-
Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean, Aegaeum 11, edited
nographic reports concerning the Shilluk people of the
by P. Rehak, pp. 37–48. Liège, Belgium, 1995.
Sudan seemed to provide a contemporary example of such
Schubart, Wilhelm. Die religiöse Haltung des frühen Hellenismus.
ritual regicide.
Leipzig, Germany, 1937.
Dwelling on the association between the king’s health
West, Martin L. The East Face of Helicon. Oxford, 1997.
and natural fertility, Frazer explained the kingship but not
the kingdom. In the first modern treatment of the subject,
Cristofani, Mauro. “Società e istituzioni nell’Italia preromana.” In
in 1948, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, relying on better ethnogra-
Popoli e civiltà dell’Italia antica, vol. 7, edited by Massimo
phy and a wholly different theory, asserted that the spiritual
Pallottino, pp. 51–112. Rome, 1978.
role of the king expressed the political contradiction between
Staccioli, Romolo. Gli Etruschi, un popolo tra mito e realtà. Rome,
the corporate unity of the Shilluk people and the lack of any
central authority capable of subordinating factional interests.
In the absence of real control, the king’s identity with the
Torelli, Mario. Storia degli Etruschi. Rome and Bari, Italy, 1985.
moral values of the nation could only be expressed in spiritu-
al terms. Evans-Pritchard found no hard evidence of ritual
Bickermann, Elias. J., et al., eds. Le culte des souverains dans
regicide and suggested that the tradition merely reflected the
l’Empire romain. Entretiens sur l’antiquité classique, vol. 19.
fact that many kings came to a violent end at the hands of
Geneva, Switzerland, 1973.
princely challengers.
Carandini, Andres. Archeologia del mito. Torino, Italy, 2002.
Meyer Fortes modified this sociological thesis, arguing
Cornell, T. J. The Beginnings of Rome. London and New York,
that all offices were social realities distinct from the individu-
als who held them. The function of ritual was to make such
Versnel, H. S. Triumphus—An Inquiry into the Origin, Develop-
offices visible and to effect the induction of the individual
ment, and Meaning of the Roman Triumph. Leiden, Nether-
into his office; as it is said in some parts of Africa, in rituals
lands, 1970.
of investiture the kingship “seizes” the king. Rituals were not
simply passive or even imaginary reflexes of the social order
but instruments that maintained it and convinced the partic-
ipants of the reality of royal powers; after the ritual process,
the king himself felt changed in his person and took credit
for ensuing events (a fall of rain, mysterious deaths) that

seemed to confirm the efficacy of the ritual. In this respect,
however, kingship did not differ from other social roles such
Kingship is always ritualized to some extent. Since the begin-
as that of a diviner or an adept in a healing cult.
ning of the twentieth century scholars have sought unsuc-
cessfully to define a particular type of cultic complex in Afri-
Another kind of sociological explanation, the reverse of
ca as “divine kingship.” Many now prefer the looser term
the first, was advanced by Max Gluckman with respect to the
“sacred kingship.” Two opposed arguments dominate this
Swazi people (Swaziland). Gluckman suggested that the
and other anthropological discussions of ritual. One, derived
great Ncwala ceremonies provided the people with an annual
from the work of the English anthropologist James G. Frazer
opportunity to express their resentment of the king’s rule and
(1854–1941), dwells on a purportedly distinct set of ideas
thus stabilized the political system. This “rituals of rebellion”
in which the personal, physical health of the king is responsi-
thesis, though widely cited, seems to be based on a misread-
ble for the generosity of nature and the well-being of his peo-
ing of the hymns sung at the Ncwala; on this, more below.
ple. The other, derived from the great French sociologist
Explanations of rituals in terms of their political func-
Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), treats such ideas as expres-
tions fail to account for the elaborate content of the rituals,
sions of sociopolitical realities rather than as primary factors.
which often involve hundreds of titleholders, experts, court-
The sociological view predominated in the 1940s, but in the
iers, and lineage heads in rich textures of song, dance, eulogy,
1960s anthropologists renewed their interest in Frazer’s
costume, taboo, and medication extending over many days
and weeks of the year. Rereading the Swazi ethnography, T.
Although many of Frazer’s data were drawn from Africa,
O. Beidelman argued that the purpose of the Ncwala was to
he thought of divine kingship as characteristic of a particular
set the king apart so that he might take on the supernatural
phase of cultural evolution, not of a particular continent, and
powers necessary to his office. He showed how such details
he also drew upon European and Middle Eastern ethnogra-
as the black color of a sacrificial ox, the king’s nudity during
phy, to which his model may have been more appropriate.
the ritual, and the emptiness of his right hand while he
Frazer supposed that primitive societies preoccupied with ag-
danced are consistent with Swazi cosmology and symbolic
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

usage. The color of the ox refers to the powerful but disorder-
royal powers. The jawbone of a kabaka of Buganda (Uganda)
ly forces of sexuality that the king must incorporate and mas-
was enshrined after his death; in Yorubaland, an o:ba of O:yo:
ter; the king’s nudity expresses his liminal status as the “bull
(Nigeria) consumed the powdered heart of his predecessor.
of his nation,” mediating between the supernatural and the
More generally, the body of a living king is itself a sacred ob-
ject, modified and manipulated for ritual purposes; among
these manipulations, the observances that set him apart from
Other writers pointed out that many kings, such as the
ordinary people often bear more onerously upon him than
o:ba of Benin (Nigeria) or the mwami of Bunyoro (Uganda),
upon anyone else.
were powerful rulers whose spiritual powers seemed to ex-
press their real authority rather than compensate for the lack
This African perspective is consistent with the sociologi-
of it. In other instances, the rituals of kingship and respect
cal one of Fortes, and it is here, perhaps, that we may discov-
for the king’s supernatural powers remained constant despite
er the secret of regicide. Kingship, itself a perpetual office,
pronounced, long-term changes in his real political impor-
stands for the corporate unity and perpetuity of the king-
tance. The same ritual complex might or might not be associ-
dom. Time is therefore intrinsic to the idea of kingship.
ated with a hierarchical organization of important functions,
Time, in turn, has two components: transience and constant
so that among the Kongo people, legends and rituals alone
renewal. The continuity of the body politic, and of human
fail to make it clear whether the chief to whom they refer is
life within it, may be symbolized by the agricultural cycle or
a ruler of thousands or of dozens. Among the Nyakyusa
other natural phenomena, by communal rites of passage and
(Tanzania) the divine king remained essentially a priest,
succession, or by similar rites in which the king’s own life,
whereas among the neighboring Ngonde, who share the
death, and replacement are made to embody the life process
same culture and traditions of origin, the king acquired real
of the community. In such instances, agricultural cycles, ini-
powers through his control of the trade in ivory and other
tiation cycles, and the succession of kings are not merely met-
goods. In Bunyoro, princes fought to succeed to the throne,
aphors for the continuity and vitality of the social order but
whereas among the Rukuba (Nigeria) and Nyakyusa the cho-
substantial constituents of it.
sen successor must be captured by the officiating priests lest
It is not surprising, therefore, among widely separated
he abscond.
peoples, including the Lovedu (South Africa), the Nyakyusa,
These and other commentaries tended to place Frazer’s
the Rukuba, and the Mundang (Chad), that the death of a
thesis in doubt. The components of what Frazer thought was
ruler or of a surrogate is supposed to coincide with a phase
a single complex are now seen to vary independently of each
in the cycle of initiations whereby the succession of genera-
other. Also, it has proved impossible to verify any tradition
tions is regulated, although in all these examples the real tim-
of regicide, although both the tradition and, apparently, the
ing of the events is obscure. The Rukuba king is required to
practice of not allowing kings to die a natural death are also
ingest, at his installation, material from the bodies both of
associated with some ritual figures who are not kings. Other
his deceased predecessor and of an infant, specially killed for
observances once thought to be specific to divine kings, such
the purpose, whose status is such that he might have been
as prescribed incest and taboos against seeing the king eat or
chosen to be king had he lived; these and other Rukuba ritu-
drink, are present in some instances but not in others. Chiefs
als, which clearly express the theme of renewal and continu-
among the Dime (Ethiopia) are regarded as having a spiritual
ity, are believed to cause a long and therefore successful reign.
power called balth Du that seems to meet Frazerian expecta-
The king himself is not burdened with many taboos; he may
tions since, if the power is “good,” it is believed to make the
be deposed if his “blood” is not strong enough to keep mis-
crops grow and livestock multiply, whereas if the harvest is
fortunes from afflicting his people, but he is not himself
poor the people say, “We must get rid of him; the thoughts
he has for the country don’t work.” A Dime chief is not re-
During the 1970s anthropologists expressed increasing
quired to be in good health, however, and eventually dies a
interest in the subjective perspective in kingship cults, in the
natural death.
content of ritual and its capacity to shape the cognitive expe-
rience of participants. The reductionist view that ritual mere-
Africans themselves often speak of the powers vested in
ly expresses political realities seemed inconsistent with the
kings as independent entities with organic properties. The
quasi-organic character attributed to kingly powers and with
spiritual power known as bwami among the Lega, for exam-
the intense secrecy that in many cases surrounds complex
ple, is thought to grow and forever renew itself, like a banana
and central cultic performances.
tree; this bwami may be vested in a king (mwami) (as among
the eastern Lega) or in a graded association (as among the
This revival of Frazer’s intellectualism did not extend,
western Lega). From this point of view the purpose of ritual
however, to his evolutionary assumptions about primitive
is to favor the growth of kingship as a public resource.
thought, and it emphasized the particularity of symbols
Whether or not the king rules as well as reigns, his person
whose meanings should be sought in their local context. For
is one of the instruments of the process necessary to maintain
example, the skull of a dead Temne chief (Sierra Leone) is
the kingship. Relics of dead kings are often part of the regalia
kept in a shrine at which daily sacrifices are performed for
of their successors or are used to make medicines conferring
communal well-being, but that of a Mundang king serves
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

only as a magical device to force his successor to commit the
In contrast, local cults devoted to community well-
expected suicide. The hair and nails of a deceased mwami of
being emphasized growth and fertility, employing as ritual
Bunyoro are cut after his death, to be buried with him,
symbols the color black (associated with rain clouds) and
whereas those of a lwembe of the Nyakyusa must be taken
farming implements such as hoes rather than the color red
before he has drawn his last breath, “so that Lwembe might
and various weapons associated with war. In other configura-
not go away with the food to the land of the shades, that the
tions, as among the Nyakyusa, life-giving and death-dealing
fertility of the soil might always remain above,” and they are
powers are not segregated in this way. In yet others, such as
used in a powerful fertility medicine. There can be no univer-
the Mundang, whose king was as much bandit as sovereign,
sal dictionary of symbols, and even in one context a ritual
looting at home and abroad, there was no cult of violence.
element usually has several kinds and levels of significance,
some better defined than others.
Although kings are “made” by the rituals that enthrone
them, their powers are maintained by daily observances. The
In her review of the subject, “Keeping the King Divine,”
unfortunate leader of the Dime, known as zimu, though he
Audrey I. Richards (1969) recommended that in future more
had real political and military responsibilities, was so restrict-
attention should be paid to kingship in its relation to other
ed in his diet and personal contacts as to be virtually an out-
elements of the society in which we find it; for example,
cast. Besides installation and funerary rites and daily obser-
other forms of ancestor worship, other kinds of control over
vances, kingship cults include bodies of myth and the ritual
nature, other political authorities. Or as an ethnographer of
organization of space. The plans of royal palaces and grave
eastern Zaire put it, “chiefship is simply a variant of Bashu
shrines, even the distribution of shrines in the country, orga-
ideas about healers, sorcerers, and women.” The cultural pat-
nize rituals in space in conformity with cosmological models.
tern of the Shilluk (shared by the Anuak, Dinka, and other
The bodies of some kings, as among the Mundang, are casu-
Nilotic peoples) is very different from that of the Azande
ally thrown away, but for the Nyakyusa the graves of the
(southern Sudan), in which the cultic attributes of kingship
original kings are among the most fearfully sacred of all
are minimal, and from those of the Temne, Rukuba, or
shrines. The dynastic shrines of the Ganda are replicas of the
Dime, all of which are in turn strongly dissimilar.
royal court, with their own elaborate rituals and personnel
centered on a queen sister.
In a pattern that is widespread in central, southern, and
parts of West Africa, violent powers associated with chiefs
Royal myths commonly refer to the founding of the
and the activities of men in hunting and war were supposedly
state and its subsequent history, which the rituals of investi-
derived from ancestors. Ancestral cults were paired and con-
ture and periodic festivals may reenact. Until the 1970s,
trasted with those of local or nature spirits, from whom pow-
scholars tended to take such myths literally, especially those
ers were procured that were beneficial to the fertility of na-
that attributed the origin of a kingdom to immigrants. Para-
ture, the activities of women, and the well-being of local
doxically, the intellectualist reappraisal of ritual was accom-
communities. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centu-
panied by a new view of myths as narrative expressions of
ries, such local cults were merged with the institution of
real, contemporary sociopolitical relations. The “stranger”
kingship during the process of state formation; the
status of the king expresses his difference from ordinary peo-
Swazi, Luba and Bushong, and Benin kingdoms provide
ple or the separation of dynastic, chiefly functions from local,
priestly ones, just as prescribed incest or murder marks the
king’s removal from his ordinary status and his accession to
In this pattern, the symbolization of violence is often in-
a new one.
tentionally shocking. A Luba chief, after being anointed with
the blood of a man killed for that purpose, put his foot on
Colonial rule abolished or profoundly modified all
the victim’s skull and drank his blood mixed with beer. Such
kingships and their rituals, appropriating many of their pow-
acts showed that the king possessed superhumanly destruc-
ers and banning some practices deemed essential by the peo-
tive powers, similar to witchcraft, with which he would be
ple to create true kings. Central mysteries of surviving cults
able to defend his people against the attacks of witches and
were and are known only to the participating experts. Conse-
criminals. The Ncwala confers similiar powers on the Swazi
quently, we have few descriptions of the working of kingship
king; the hymns sung are a national expression not of rebel-
in practice, and only one extensive set of ritual prescriptions,
lion but of sympathy for him in his lonely struggle against
for the kingdom of Rwanda. Even much better information,
such enemies. As the Swazi themselves say, the Ncwala is in-
however, would not render unambiguous the functions of
tended to strengthen the kingship and “make stand the na-
kingship, which have always been responsive to changing cir-
tion.” In some kingdoms, designated groups engage in loot-
cumstances, or reveal beyond doubt the relationship between
ing, rape, and other disorderly behavior to show that the
ritual prescription and actual event. Kings as well as anthro-
power that should contain violence is temporarily in abey-
pologists debate whether regicide is a necessary practice or
ance. Often, however, the ritual representation of the chief’s
symbolic truth; in the mid-nineteenth century an o:ba of O:yo:
violent powers was greatly disproportionate to the amount
refused to submit to regicide, and in 1969 the king of the
of real force he commanded; he had authority as the embodi-
Jukun (Nigeria) was reported in the press to be sleeping with
ment of the social order but little power.
a loaded revolver under his pillow. Part of the power and
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

mystery of kingship is its refusal to be bound by rules and
Cosmology (Bloomington, Ind., 1981), which explains the re-
its centrality to the political process.
lationship between chiefly power and control of natural
forces; on the Luba, Thomas Q. Reefe’s The Rainbow and the
SEE ALSO Bemba Religion; Southern African Religions, arti-
Kings (Berkeley, 1981); and, on the Kuba, Jan Vansina’s The
cle on Southern Bantu Religions; Swazi Religion.
Children of Woot (Madison, Wis., 1978).
James G. Frazer’s ideas on divine kingship can be found in the var-
ious editions of The Golden Bough; his one-volume abridg-
ment (New York, 1922) has been frequently reprinted. The
modern revival of Frazer begins with Michael W. Young’s ar-
ticle “The Divine Kingship of the Jukun: A Re-evaluation of
Of essential importance for the study of kingship in Me-
Some Theories,” Africa 36 (1966): 135–152, and includes
soamerica and South America is the profound connection
Luc de Heusch’s Sacrifice in Africa (Bloomington, Ind.,
between supernatural authority and political power residing
1985). Recent neo-Frazerian accounts of divine kingship in-
in an elite class of sacred kings who directed the interaction
clude Alfred Adler’s La mort est le masque du roi: La royauté
of the natural environment, the human population, technol-
sacrée des Moundang du Tchad (Paris, 1982), Jean-Claude
ogy, and developments in social structure from sacred pre-
Muller’s Le roi bouc-émissaire: Pouvoir et rituel chez les Ruku-
cincts and ceremonial cities. In the Aztec, Maya, and Inca
ba du Nigéria (Quebec, 1980), and Dave M. Todd’s “Aspects
patterns of sacred kingship are found distinct versions of this
of Chiefship in Dimam, South-West Ethiopia,” Cahiers
d’études africaines
18 (1978): 311–332. De Heusch has re-
turned to Frazer’s thesis in his “The Symbolic Mechanisms
AZTEC SACRED KINGSHIP. The supreme authority in Aztec
of Sacred Kingship: Rediscovering Frazer,” Journal of the
Mexico was the tlatoani (chief speaker), who resided in the
Royal Anthropological Institute 3, 2 (1887): 213–232, which
imperial capital of Tenochtitlan. This pattern of rulership
includes references to recent studies, and has applied his ver-
grew out of earlier forms of sacred and social authority in
sion of the concept in L.de Heusch, Le Roi de Kongo et les
which each political-territorial unit (altepetl in Nahuatl) was
monstres sacrés (Paris, 2000).
governed by a titled lord, or tecuhtli, living within a noble
E. E. Evans-Pritchard established the sociological approach in op-
estate or elite social and geographical domain. This local
position to Frazer in his The Divine Kingship of the Shilluk
ruler was understood to be the living image of the altepetl’s
of the Nilotic Sudan (Cambridge, U.K., 1948). Relevant es-
patron deity and communicated directly with him. As one
says by Meyer Fortes include “Of Installation Ceremonies,”
scholar notes:
Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute for 1967
(London, 1968). Max Gluckman’s “rituals of rebellion” the-
The tlatoani headed a large, multifaceted bureaucracy
sis is to be found in his Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa
composed of other lords and lesser nobles, and his pal-
(London, 1963). Audrey I. Richard’s review, “Keeping the
ace (tecpan, tecalli) was the principal government ad-
King Divine,” is in Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological
ministration building. . . . The king, like other high-
Institute for 1968 (London, 1969).
ranking lords, was the titular head of a patrimonial de-
mesne (complex of holdings, privileges, and
Classic ethnographic accounts of kingship cults include John Ros-
obligations) that consisted of the provision of agricul-
coe’s The Bakitara or Banyoro (Cambridge, U.K., 1923), in
tural, public works, manufacturing and military services
which he gives, for Bunyoro, the best account of a king’s
by commoners, tribute payment, the allegiance of lesser
daily observances. Hilda Kuper’s An African Aristocracy: Rank
(including nontitled) nobility, and various other sump-
among the Swazi (London, 1947) sets a vivid description of
tuary privileges. (Gillespie, 2001)
the Ncwala in an analysis of the political system; T. O. Bei-
delman interprets the symbolism in “Swazi Royal Ritual,”
During the later stages of Aztec history, the tlatoani governed
Africa 36 (1966): 373–405. Monica Wilson’s richly detailed
with the assistance of the Council of Four, which included
Communal Rituals of the Nyakyusa (London, 1957) includes
the second in command, who occupied an office called the
trancripts of interviews with senior participants in kingship
Cihuacoatl (snake woman). The occupant of the Cihuacoatl
and other cults. Ray E. Bradbury’s illustrated article “Divine
office was always male. The elite status of the Council of
Kingship in Benin,” Nigeria 62 (1959): 186–207, is a useful
Four is indicated by the fact that the members were chosen
companion to the film Benin Kingship Rituals, made by Brad-
from the royal family and included the king’s brothers, sons,
bury and Francis Speed. The only extensive published set of
esoteric ritual prescriptions is La royauté sacrée de l’ancien
and nephews. Under normal circumstances this group chose
Rwanda (Tervuren, Belgium, 1964), edited by Marcel
the successor to a dead king from one of its members. A pri-
d’Hertefelt and André Coupez. Ritual features of Luba king-
mary qualification for the Aztec king was military leadership,
ship, with special reference to art works and attitudes con-
and a truly great king was a victorious general who con-
cerning them, are presented in M. N. Roberts and A. N.
quered many towns, which led to the organization of tribu-
Roberts, Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History (New
tary payments to the royal and capital storehouses. In broad
York, 1996).
terms, the Aztec tlatoani was responsible for agricultural fer-
Among recent historical accounts of the development of divine
tility, order and success in warfare, the maintenance of the
kingships are, on the Bashu, Randall Packard’s Chiefship and
ceremonial order, the stability of bureaucratic systems, and
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

above all the orderly parallelism between society and the cos-
new political order known as the Triple Alliance. During the
mos. The dominant symbol of sacred rulership in Me-
last half of the fourteenth century the Mexica (Aztec) were
soamerica was the throne that took the form of a woven mat
military vassals of the powerful Tepanec kingdom centered
or a seat with a high back in which the ruler was also carried
in the capital of Azcapotzalco.
in public settings. In Aztec society the word for throne was
During their tutelage to the Tepanec, the Aztec became
petlatl, icpalli, or the “reed mat”—the seat that also became
the most powerful military unit in the region and adapted
a metaphor for the ruler.
their political and economic structure to the more urbanized
By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Aztec tla-
systems of the valley. When the king of Azcapotzalco died
toani Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Moctezuma II, r. 1503–
in 1426, the Tepanec kingdom was ripped apart by a war of
1520) was surrounded by an elaborate court dedicated to car-
succession. The Aztec tlatoani Itzcoatl, with his nephews
rying out the expressions of authority and pomp of the mon-
Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina and Tlacaellel, formed a political
arch. According to Hernán Cortés’s second letter to the king
alliance with two other city-states and successfully took over
of Spain, Motecuhzoma changed clothes four times a day,
the lands, tribute, and allegiances that formerly belonged to
never putting on garments that had been worn more than
the Tepanec. In the process these three leaders restructured
once. The formation of this privileged position came about
the Aztec government by concentrating power and authority
as the result of two decisive transformations in the social and
in the tlatoani, the Council of Four, and to a lesser extent
symbolic structures of Aztec life—the acquisition in 1370 of
in the noble warrior class known as the pipiltin. The calpulli
the sacred lineage of kingship associated with the Toltec
were incorporated into less powerful levels of decision mak-
kingdom, and the consolidation of authority and power in
ing. This restructuring marked the beginning of the rise of
the office of the king and a warrior nobility known as the
Aztec kingship on a road to the status of god-king.
pipiltin during the war against the city-state of Atzcapotzalco
Subsequent Aztec kings—such as Motecuhzoma Ilhui-
in 1428.
camina (Moctezuma I)—issued decrees defining the differ-
When the Aztec precursors, the Chichimec (from chich,
ent classes of nobles, traders, warriors, and commoners ac-
meaning “dog,” and mecatl, meaning “rope” or “lineage”),
cording to their privileges, manner of dress, ownership, and
migrated into the Valley of Mexico in the thirteenth century,
education. Beginning around 1440 the cosmological tradi-
they encountered an urbanized world of warring city-states.
tions undergirding Aztec society were reinterpreted to legiti-
The basic settlement pattern in the valley was the tlatocayotl,
mate the rise of sacred kingship and the concentration of au-
a city-state that consisted of a small capital city surrounded
thority in the elites. As a sign of this cosmic and political
by dependent communities that worked the agricultural
authority, each king following Itzcoatl took the responsibili-
lands, paid tribute, and performed services for the elite classes
ty of enlarging the Great Temple of the capital and acquiring
in the capital according to various ritual calendars and cos-
large numbers of enemy warriors to be sacrificed to the impe-
mological patterns. Within this world of political rivalries,
rial gods Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.
the most valued legitimate authority resided in communities
Interestingly, the symbolic sources for the legitimation
tracing their royal lineage to the great Toltec kingdom of
of Aztec kingship come from two lines of descent. On the
Tollan (tenth through twelfth centuries CE), which was re-
one hand, Aztec kings drew their legitimacy from the Toltec
membered as the greatest city in history, noted for agricultur-
priest-king Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, while on the other hand
al abundance, technological excellence, and cosmological
they drew their power from the “all-powerful, the invisible,
the untouchable” Tezcatlipoca, whom one chronicler called
As the Aztec slowly but systematically integrated them-
“the first among all the gods” and who was strongly related
selves into the more complex social world of tlatocayotls, they
to the patron Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. This combination
sought a means to acquire access to the Toltec lineage. Ac-
demonstrates both the strength and, surprisingly, the vulner-
cording to a number of sources, they turned to the city-state
ability of Aztec kings. The most intimate inspiration for
of Culhuacan, which held the most direct lineal access to the
Aztec kings came from the twisting maneuvers of the princi-
authority represented by the Toltec, and asked to be given
pal god, Tezcatlipoca. While Quetzalcoatl was an ancient
a half-Aztec, half-Culhuacan lord by the name of Aca-
underpinning of Aztec kingship, Tezcatlipoca’s influence on
mapichtli as their first tlatoani, or royal leader. The successful
the legitimacy, power, and conduct of Aztec rulers was im-
transfer of legitimate kingship to the Aztec resulted in an in-
mediate and pervasive. Guilhem Olivier summarizes the
ternal adjustment of Aztec society. The first several tlatoanis
major feast of Tezcatlipoca:
were forced to negotiate their authority with the traditional
The king personally decorated “his beloved god,” a
social unit of Aztec life, the calpulli. The calpulli was most
young man impersonating Tezcatlipoca, who was des-
likely a type of conical clan in which members were interre-
tined to be sacrificed. The king sacrificed himself sym-
lated by family ties but hierarchically stratified according to
bolically through the man who was the image (ixiptla)
lines of descent from a sacred ancestor. This sharing of au-
of his tutelary divinity. Likewise, during the royal en-
thority took an abrupt turn at the collapse of the Tepanec
thronement rites, the future sovereign wore pieces of
kingdom between 1426 and 1428 and the formation of a
fabric that covered the sacred bundles (tlaquimilolli) of
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Huitzilopochtli and of Tezcatlipoca, ritually reproduc-
This passage demonstrates how, at least in the eyes of
ing the death and rebirth of the two major Aztec divini-
some of his descendants and Spanish chroniclers, an Aztec
ties. (Olivier, 2001)
king used an ancient mythological tradition of kingly abdica-
tion in a new situation for the purpose of interpreting a
Perhaps the most vivid example of Tezcatlipoca’s influence
threatening development. According to this tradition, the
appears in the prayers recited at the installation of a ruler and
kingdom of Tollan (centuries before the Aztec arrived in the
upon his death. When a new king was installed in Tenochti-
central plateau of Mexico) was ruled by the brilliant priest-
tlan, Tezcatlipoca was invoked as the creator, animator,
king Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, but it collapsed when a sorcerer
guide, and potential killer of the king. The ceremony, ac-
(Tezcatlipoca) from the outside tricked him into violating his
cording to book 6 of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s Historia
kingly vows and abdicating his throne. Topiltzin Quetzal-
general de las cosas de la Nueva España (compiled 1569–1582;
coatl left his kingdom for the eastern horizon, where, accord-
also known as the Florentine Codex), begins at the moment
ing to different traditions, he either sacrificed himself and be-
when “the sun . . . hath come to appear.” The particular
came the morning star or sailed away on a raft of serpents
phrasing of the description of the sunrise in the prayer re-
promising to return one day and reclaim his throne. In the
ported by Sahagún is related to the story of the creation of
crisis of 1519, according to some interpreters, the last Aztec
the Sun in the official cosmogonies of the Aztec elites. The
king applied to a series of reconnaissance reports the archaic
king’s installation and Tezcatlipoca’s presence are seen as
mythologem of Quetzalcoatl’s flight and promised return to
cosmogonic acts that result in the dawning of a new day. As
regain his throne. Moctezuma sent jeweled costumes of Aztec
the ritual proceeds, Tezcatlipoca is called the “creator . . .
deities, including the array of Quetzalcoatl, to Cortés, and
and knower of men” who “causes the king’s action, his char-
he instructed his messengers to tell Cortés that the king ac-
acter,” even the odors of his body. This intimacy is best stat-
knowledged the presence of the god for whom he had been
ed when Tezcatlipoca is asked to inspire the king: “Animate
waiting to return and sit in the place of authority. As the
him . . . for this is thy flute, thy replacement, thy image.”
Spaniards advanced, Moctezuma fell into an emotional crisis
This intimacy is carried to a surprising turn when, later in
(“He was terror struck . . . his heart was anguished”), and
the narrative, the prayer asks Tezcatlipoca to kill the king if
he made two gestures of abdication. First, he moved out of
he performs badly. This resonates with the tradition about
his kingly residence into a palace of lesser authority, and sec-
Tollan, in which the king Quetzalcoatl broke his vows of
ond, he sought escape in a magical cave where he believed
chastity and was sent away by the sorcerer Tezcatlipoca. The
he could pass into the supernatural world. When Cortés ar-
omnipotence of Tezcatlipoca is also evidenced in the repeat-
rived at the capital, a series of encounters took place in which
ed statement that the new king, like all the other previous
Moctezuma instructed his nobles to transfer their power to
rulers, was merely borrowing the “reed mat” (symbolic of
the returning king. In this situation, a form of “imperial
kingship) and “thy [i.e., Tezcatlipoca’s] realm” during his
irony” appears in the tradition of Aztec kingship. On the one
kingship. The invocation to Tezcatlipoca ends when the god
hand, the Aztec drew their legitimacy from the tradition that
is asked to send the king “to be on the offensive” in the “cen-
depicted Tollan as a city-state characterized by agricultural
ter of the desert, to the field of battle.” Kings in Aztec society
stability, artistic achievement, and religious genius. But in
were expected above all to be successful in warfare.
drawing their legitimacy as Toltec descendants, they were
As this historical narrative demonstrates, the Aztec sense
also heirs to a tradition of kingly abdication and dramatic po-
of legitimacy was derived, in part, from their acquired con-
litical changes. Like Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who gave his
nection to the ancient kingdom of Tollan, where Quetzal-
kingdom to Tezcatlipoca, Moctezuma opened the royal door
coatl ruled a world of abundance, artistic creativity, and cos-
for Cortés to enter.
mic balance, only to be undone by his counterpart
It must be noted that this interpretation, found in both
Tezcatlipoca. This connection and conflict apparently influ-
the sixteenth-century chronicles and a group of modern
enced Aztec kingship and provided to some degree an ironic
studies, is in constant dispute by some scholars who believe
destiny for the last Aztec tlatoani, Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin
these episodes were largely fabricated during the early dec-
(Moctezuma II). In fact, the vulnerability of Aztec kingship
ades of Spanish colonial domination in central Mexico. In
is reflected in a series of episodes involving Motecuhzoma
this view, the application of Quetzalcoatl’s return to the ar-
Xocoyotzin and Hernán Cortés, the leader of the conquering
rival of Cortés was part of a vigorous sixteenth-century prose
Spanish expedition (1519–1521). According to the account
project designed to justify the holy and just war propaganda
of the conquest of Tenochtitlan told in book 12 (“The Con-
of the Europeans and to celebrate the genius of their tri-
quest”) of Sahagún’s work, when word reached the magiste-
rial city of Tenochtitlan that “strangers in the east” were
making their way toward the high plateau, “Moctezuma
In the case of the last great civilization of Mesoamerica,
thought that this was Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl who had come
sacred kingship was an urban institution acquired by the
to the land. . . . It was in their hearts that he would come
Aztec, who utilized borrowed and indigenous religious
. . . to land . . . to find his mat . . . his seat. . . . Moc-
symbols to legitimate their imperial expansion and social
tezuma sent five emissaries to give him gifts.”
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

MAYA SACRED KINGS. In the last several decades, our overall
riage alliances, and visits by honored foreign leaders,
view of the long, complex history of Maya society, culture,
royal authority was clearly subject to challenge. Titles
and rulership has undergone something of a revolution.
for subsidiary lords proliferated in the Late Classic, sug-
Where once were imagined peaceful kingdoms ruled by as-
gesting growing recognition of sub-royal entitlements.
tronomer priests who had mastered the human tendencies
A “council house” (popul na) is material evidence that
Copan’s rulers shared formal governance with high-
of aggression and warlike domination, it is now known that
ranking nobles by the late eighth century CE. (Ashmore,
Maya peoples, despite their superb artistic, mathematical,
and architectural capacities, struggled violently among their
various city-states, kingdoms, and extended families. Stun-
What seems particularly outstanding through the Maya
ning breakthroughs in deciphering Maya forms of writing
world, especially in places like Copan and Tikal, is a pro-
have led to a complex understanding of how Maya societies
found respect given to the founders of kingdoms and their
were organized around stunning ceremonial centers in which
real or imagined well-being. Ancestor worship as social and
resided, supreme among an ever pulsating elite community,
symbolic sites where each new generation discerned the will
the ajaw or k’uhl aja-lord (ruler or holy lord or supreme
of the gods seems profoundly intertwined with the rise, flo-
ruler). As one Maya scholar writes, “Perhaps the most fa-
rescence, and waning of Maya society.
mous Mesoamerican scenes of accession appear on the so-
INCA SACRED KINGSHIP. When Spanish soldiers led by
called niche stelae of Piedras Negras; they represent the new
Francisco Pizarro arrived on the Pacific coast of South Amer-
king on a scaffold throne, surrounded by cosmological sym-
ica in 1527, they encountered the Inca empire, called Tah-
bols of heaven. Like the Mexica emperors, the new Maya
uantinsuyu (land of the four quarters). At its height, the em-
ruler is shown at the central point of the cosmic order” (Stu-
pire extended from the northern border of present-day
art, 2001).
Ecuador south for more than 4,300 kilometers to the Maule
Scholarship has shown that in many ways the Maya rep-
River in Chile. This kingdom contained more than twelve
licated the basic pattern of ruler-deity relations, control of
million people organized into a tightly knit series of local,
natural and cultural resources, dominance through military
regional, and imperial administrative units, with authority
aggression, and administration of tributary payments out-
centered in the capital city of Cuzco. When subsequent re-
lined above in the central Mexican world. But the Maya
searchers attempted to reconstruct the history of the Inca
world also had many distinctive royal practices and variations
empire, they found two impressive facts. First, the Inca
of sacred authority during the many centuries of urban devel-
achieved a meteoric rise from a modest village settlement in
opment. In exquisitely constructed civic ceremonial centers
the valley of Cuzco to an imperial power in less than one
such as Tikal, Copán, Quirigua, Caracol, Calakmul, and
hundred years. Second, the Inca recorded their own historic
many others, rulers and their elite families occupied and con-
developments in terms of the lives and achievements of their
trolled high-status compounds from which they ruled a large
kings and the care of dead kings by the royal mummy cult.
populace by directing ritual performances in imposing stone
The term Inca, according to the social context to which
temple precincts, spacious plazas, and even ballcourts.
it refers, can have one of three meanings. As Michael A. Mal-
Kkings and their families reenacted cosmological narratives,
pass writes,
sometimes of bellicose and warlike character in these ball-
courts. Royal authority, as William Fash (2001) has shown,
It can refer to a people, an empire, or even a single per-
was powerfully reinforced through public displays of portrait
son—the Inca king. The term as it is used by experts
sculptures, dynastic genealogies, and accounts of military vic-
refers only to the small ethnic group that originally lived
tories against neighboring city-states. In Maya centers
in the area around Cuzco. All others were not originally
Incas; we may refer to them as Inca subjects, but not
throughout a long, complex history, rulers skillfully used
as Incas. To be an Inca was to have certain privileges
public architecture to not only map the course of the time
not allowed to others; to wear a particular kind of head-
and the heavens but also to persuade the populace of their
band and to wear earplugs that were so large that they
individual dynastic interests and interpretations.
stretched out the earlobe. This caused the Incas to be
given the Spanish nickname orejonjes, or “big ears.” Not
Certainly by what is called the “Late Classic” period, the
to be an Inca was to be subject to the orders of the
holy lords of many Maya centers passed on their authority
reigning Inca king, who claimed ownership of your
from father to son, unless a younger brother was deemed
land and rights to your labor. Thus the differences be-
more fit for the accession to the throne. Among the Maya,
tween the Inca and the Inca subject were great (Mal-
as archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence clearly shows,
pass, 1996, p. 37).
women sometimes governed as regents and played crucial
The origin myth of the Incas explains the sacredness of the
roles in interdynastic marriage alliances. The record also
royal Inca lineage. Eight ancestors of the Inca kings, four
shows that Maya rulers lived in an unstable social world. As
women and four men, emerged from a cave near the town
one scholar writes:
of Pacariqtambo. One of them, Maco Capac, became the
Despite the sumptuous royal tombs, impressive build-
first Inca ruler, and from him all subsequent kings descend-
ing programs, and texts extolling military exploits, mar-
ed. After other people emerged from nearby caves, the royal
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ancestors gathered them together and sought a place to settle.
fying deity that identified itself as the Inca sky god; the sky
They drove out the original inhabitants of the town of Cuzco
god called Cusi Yupanqui “my son,” and he told Cusi Yu-
and there established a capital city. From this myth, it is
panqui that if he followed the true religion he would become
gathered that Inca kingship was intimately related to:
the Sapay (great) Inca and conquer many nations. Driven by
this powerful vision and supported by increased political alli-
1. The powers of the earth, for example, caves.
ances, the Inca leader drove the invaders away, which result-
2. A cosmology of wholeness symbolized by the number
ed, after factional intrigues against his father and brother, in
eight, with four males and four females constituting a
his ascension to the throne. The new king then embarked
balance of gender.
on an intense series of conquests resulting in the expansion
3. The site of Cuzco, which served as the axis of the Inca
of Inca lands and the laying of the foundation for the Inca
empire. He became known as Pachacuti, which means “cata-
clysm” or “he who remakes the world.” This remarkable epi-
4. A direct line to Manco Capac.
sode, which is recorded in a number of sources, combines
At its most basic social level, the world of these kings and
two major patterns of Inca religion: the sacred legitimacy of
their royal mummies was organized by ayllus, which appear
Inca kinship and the responsibility of the king to acquire new
to have been composed of well-ordered endogamous kinship
territories through conquest and warfare.
groups that traced their descent to a common ancestor. Ayllu
While it is difficult to present a satisfactory outline of
members emphasized self-sufficiency by rigorously practic-
Inca religion, recent studies have identified three major com-
ing certain traditions such as assisting one another in the
ponents, each relating to the power and authority of Inca
construction of homes and public buildings, the farming of
kings: the omnipotence and omniscience of the creator sky
lands together, and the care of specific deities within local
god Viracocha, the cult of ancestor worship and mummies,
ceremonial centers. In fact, certain common plots of land
and the pervasive pattern of the veneration of huacas.
were used to produce goods for sacrifices at the shrine of an-
Inca kings derived their sanctification from what Arthur
cestral deities.
Andrew Demarest (1984) calls the “upper pantheon” of Inca
These ayllus were organized into larger units such as vil-
religion. According to Demarest’s useful formulation, the
lages and chiefdoms that were involved in intense raiding
single Inca creator sky god manifested himself in at least
and small-scale warfare among themselves. The social setting
three subcomplexes organized around Viracocha (the univer-
of ayllus and competing chiefdoms helped to produce the
sal creator), Inti (the sun god), and Illapa (the thunder and
emergence of sinchis, or war leaders, who possessed the addi-
weather god). Ritual cycles and ceremonial events associated
tional capacity to organize groups of men into firm alliances.
with political, astronomical, and economic schedules re-
These leaders were chosen from the prominent adult male
vealed the many aspects and versions of this upper pantheon.
members of the ayllus, and if one was particularly successful
At the center of the sacred schedule of activities stood the
in warfare and conquest of new lands, he utilized his acquisi-
Sapay Inca, who was venerated as the manifestation of Vira-
tions to achieve more permanent positions of leadership.
cocha, as the descendant of Inti, and, upon his death, as the
It appears that the earliest Inca kings were particularly
power of Illapa.
prominent sinchis who achieved a semblance of permanent
Cult of ancestor worship. The second aspect of Inca
and legitimate authority by manifesting an intimacy with the
religion related to kingship is the fascinating cult of ancestor
Inca sun god Inti. The actual reconstruction of the process
worship and mummies. A pan-Andean tradition of ancestor
of the rise of sacred kingship in the Inca culture is difficult
worship, in which the bodies of dead family members were
to discern. However, the standard Inca histories hold that all
venerated as sacred objects and ceremonially cared for by the
Inca kings descended from this great solar god. Different pri-
living, permeated Inca existence. Central to this tradition was
mary sources include a standard list of thirteen Inca kings
the practice of oracular communication with the dead. The
dating back to mythical times, but serious historical recon-
ancestral remains, in the form of a mummy or simply a col-
structions reveal that the expansion of Inca power beyond
lection of bones, were called mallquis. Specific questions con-
the chiefdom level and the consolidation of authority in
cerning all aspects of life were put to the mallquis, and specif-
kings took place with the career of the ninth Inca king,
ic answers resulted. Specialists known as the mallquipvillac
(they who speak with the mallquis) were influential in Inca
life. The ancestral spirits also manifested themselves in
The sacred histories of the Inca tell of a crucial turning
hierophanies of stones and plants, and, most powerfully, in
point in the creation of their empire. In 1438 the fledgling
the sparks of fires. Specialists called the “consultors of the
Inca village of Cuzco was attacked by the aggressive army of
dead” communicated with the ancestors through fire.
the Chanca. A threatening siege of the settlement resulted in
the flight of the Inca king Viracocha and his designated suc-
The quintessential expression of this pattern of ancestor
cessor, his son Urcon, from the capital. Another son, Cusi
worship was the royal mummy cult of Cuzco. As already
Yupanqui, commanded the defense of Cuzco. Just before the
noted, the king was considered a descendant of the sky god
expected final attack, the commander had a vision of a terri-
Inti or Viracocha. At the death of a Sapay Inca, the authority
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to govern, wage war, and collect taxes passed on to one of
practice of ancestor worship with the historical process of im-
his sons, ideally a son born of a union with the king’s sister.
perial expansion and warfare. As in Mesoamerica, sanctified
However, all possessions of the dead king, including his pal-
legitimacy was derived from connection with ancient and
aces, agricultural lands, and servants, remained the property
contemporary hierophanies, deities, and their human repre-
of the mummy. These possessions were to be administered
by his panaqa, a corporate social unit made up of all the de-
scendants in the male line. While the panaqa lived off a small
SEE ALSO Aztec Religion; Inca Religion; Maya Religion;
portion of these lands, the group’s primary purpose was to
Quetzalcoatl; Tezcatlipoca.
function as the dead king’s court and to maintain his
mummy in private and public ceremonial events, relaying his
wishes through oracular specialists and carrying out his will.
Adams, Robert M. The Evolution of Urban Society: Early Mesopota-
mia and Prehistoric Mexico. Chicago, 1966. This concise
The public display of these mummies was a major element
study of urban development in Mesopotamia describes the
in Inca ceremonial life. Processions of kingly mummies, ar-
step-by-step process of the rise of intense social stratification.
ranged according to their seniority, traveled through the
It includes insightful passages on the persistence of the sacred
fields at rainmaking ceremonies and paraded through the
in periods of secular growth.
streets of the capital to the ceremonial center of Cuzco,
Ashmore, Wendy. “Maya Lowlands.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of
where they observed and participated in state rituals. They
Mesoamerican Cultures, edited by Davíd Carrasco, vol. 1,
also visited one another to communicate through oracular
pp. 242–243. New York, 2001.
specialists and participated in the dances, revelries, and cere-
Brundage, Burr C. Empire of the Inca. Norman, Okla., 1963.
monies in their honor. All kings, alive and dead, were consid-
Though dated in some respects, Brundage’s study provides
ered the living spirit of Inti.
a useful description of the religious forces contributing to the
integration of the Inca empire.
What is vital to understand is the degree of influence
the cult of mummies had on the conduct and destiny of the
Carrasco, Davíd. Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and
Prophecies in the Aztec Tradition. Niwot, Colo., 2001. This
living king. For instance, when the Spanish captured the Inca
work discusses the ironic dimensions of Aztec kingship and
ruler Atahuallpa and condemned him to death, he was given
the roots of sacred kingship in five Mesoamerican capitals.
a choice of remaining a pagan and being burned at the stake
This revised version has a new chapter on the controversy
or converting to Christianity and being garroted. Atahuallpa
surrounding the “return of Quetzalcoatl” tradition and the
chose conversion and garroting, not because he believed in
conquest of Mexico.
Christianity but so that his body would not be destroyed.
Carrasco, Pedro. “Los linajes nobles del Mexico antiguo.” In Es-
After receiving a Christian burial, some surviving Incas se-
tratificación social en la Mesoamérica prehispánica, edited by
cretly disinterred his body, mummified it, and then hid the
Pedro Carrasco, Johanna Broda, et al., pp. 19–36. Mexico
mummy, continuing to treat it in the traditional manner.
City, 1976.
More impressive perhaps is the political and military pressure
Cobo, Bernabé. History of the Inca Empire: An Account of the Indi-
placed on the living king by his mummified father. Powerful
ans’ Customs and Their Origin, Together with a Treatise on
in privilege but much poorer in lands and riches, the new
Inca Legends, History, and Social Institutions. Austin, Tex.,
Inca was spurred on to carry out expansive conquests in order
1979. One of the valuable post-Conquest primary sources
to acquire his own territorial lands and riches so he could live
for the study of various aspects of Inca history and religion.
in the expected manner. This forced him to carry out his
Demarest, Arthur Andrew, and Geoffrey W. Conrad. Religion and
kingly responsibilities of establishing short- and long-
Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism. Cam-
distance trading routes, building agricultural projects to sus-
bridge, U.K., 1984. This study makes a significant contribu-
tain himself and his growing kingdom, building temples to
tion to the comparative study of social dynamics, religion,
the sky god Viracocha throughout the new regions of the em-
and imperialism in the two regions of New World primary
pire, and establishing the local and imperial administration
urban generation.
units into which the kingdom was organized.
Fash, William. Scribes, Warriors and Kings: The City of Cópan and
the Ancient Maya. London, 2001. This beautifully illustrated
At the more popular level, Inca religion was organized
book illuminates the ways that rulers, warriors, and Maya
by the veneration of huacas. Huacas were the endless
scribes interacted to consolidate the Maya worldview and
hierophanies in stones, plants, or other objects that animated
conceptions of authority.
the entire Inca landscape. The countless huacas were objects
Gillespie, Susan D. “Rulers and Dynasties.” In Oxford Encyclope-
of offerings, sacrifices, and oracular events. Even major fami-
dia of Mesoamerican Cultures, edited by Davíd Carrasco, vol.
ly relationships expressed in the concept of villca (ancestor,
3, pp. 96–98. New York, 2001. This is the best overview of
descendant) were examples of huacas. Ancestors were huacas,
up-to-date scholarship on the varieties and powers of sacred
and in this way the Inca mummies were the most sacred of
rulership in Aztec and Maya societies.
Katz, Friedrich. The Ancient American Civilizations. Chicago,
1972. The standard starting point for a comparative analysis
The last great civilization of South America, the Inca de-
of the material and social character of Aztec and Inca king-
veloped their concept of sacred kingship by combining their
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Malpass, Michael A. Daily Life in the Inca Empire. Westport,
The question of whether or not the Shang people de-
Conn., 1996. A very useful summary of scholarship on the
fined the status of their king as Shangdi’s “descendant” has
religion, politics, and daily life in the Inca world.
not yet been settled. The Shang dynasty was founded by
Nicholson, H. B. Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl: The Once and Future
members of the Zi clan, who were descendants of the clan’s
Lord of the Toltecs. Niwot, Colo., 1999.
founder, Xie. According to the Shi jing, Xie was born miracu-
Olivier, Guilhem. Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God:
lously; his mother became pregnant after swallowing an egg
Tezcatlipoca, “Lord of the Smoking Mirror.” Niwot, Colo.,
dropped by a dark bird in flight. This mythic story might
2004. This is the finest and most detailed analysis of the evi-
be taken to suggest that the Shang people believed in a blood
dence about Tezcatlipoca’s significance in Mesoamerican so-
link between Shangdi and the king. It may be noted, howev-
ciety and the relationship to kingship.
er, that no oracle-bone inscription has thus far pointed to the
Reed, Kay. Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos. Bloomington,
genealogical relationship. According to David N. Keightley,
Ind., 1998.
the doctrine of the “mandate of Heaven” (tianming), usually
Schele, Linda, and David Freidel. A Forest of Kings: The Untold
considered a creation of the Zhou dynasty (1150–256 BCE),
Story of the Ancient Maya. New York, 1990. A detailed study
has deep roots in the theology of the Shang. Di, the supreme
of the lives of individual rulers in lowland Maya cultures.
god of the Shang, is most impersonal in character; that is,
Stuart, David. “Ruler Accession Rituals.” In Oxford Encyclopedia
it was not generally thought that he could be “bribed” by the
of Mesoamerican Cultures, edited by Davíd Carrasco, vol. 3,
sacrifices offered by the members of the royal family. It was
pp. 95–96. New York, 2001.
precisely this impersonality that made it possible for Di to
Wheatley, Paul. The Pivot of the Four Quarters: A Preliminary En-
harm the dynasty by sponsoring the attack of the Zhou, the
quiry into the Origins and Character of the Ancient Chinese
dynasty that followed the Shang.
City. Chicago, 1971. Wheatley places Inca and Aztec social
and symbolic structures within a broad comparative analysis
The state religion of the Zhou times centered on sacri-
of the rise of primary urban generation.
fice to Tian (Heaven) and the gods of the soil (she). A vast
Zuidema, R. Tom. “The Lion in the City: Royal Symbols of
ceremonial was elaborated in which the Zhou king played
Transition in Cuzco.” Journal of Latin American Lore 9
the leading role and on which the well-being of his state was
(Summer 1983): 39–100. One of the many important arti-
deemed to depend. Two kinds of sacrifices were offered to
cles by Zuidema explaining the myths and rituals associated
Tian, the supreme god of the Zhou: in the ancestral temple
with kingship and authority in Inca religion.
and in the open fields. The sacrifice in the open fields, called
the “suburban sacrifice,” was the religious act par excellence
of a reigning king; a burnt offering of an unblemished calf
was offered to Tian at the winter solstice, on the round hill-
ock in the southern suburbs of the royal city.
The central focus of East Asian civilization until the begin-
The Shi jing narrates the origin of the Zhou people: a
ning of the twentieth century remained the king. He was the
woman named Yuan stepped on the big toe of Shangdi’s
center of the universe, whether it was in China, Korea, or
footprint and then gave birth to Hou Ji (Prince Millet), the
Japan, and he was supremely responsible for the well-being
god of agriculture, who was considered the primordial ances-
and prosperity of the society over which he reigned. The
tor of the Zhou. This notion of divine descent probably
king’s political authority was ultimately based on the reli-
gious claim that he possessed the mandate of Heaven, wheth-
helped to establish the Zhou’s claim to the royal throne, and
er temporarily or perpetually. Moreover, the heavenly origin
it may also have contributed to the Zhou conception of the
of the king was acknowledged almost invariably in East Asia.
king as “son of Heaven” (tianzi).
His status was generally defined as (1) the earthly representa-
The Son of Heaven was one who received the mandate
tive of heaven or heavenly will, (2) the descendant of a god,
of Heaven. This mandate signified that imperial authority
or (3) the god incarnate.
could not become a permanent possession of the ruler, that
The earliest institution of kingship to emerge in East
Heaven had the complete freedom to confer or withdraw its
Asia developed on the mainland of China with the establish-
charisma or “gift of grace” from the ruler on earth. Whether
ment of the Shang kingdom (c. 1500–1050 BCE). The Shang
or not the king was given the divine mandate was generally
state centered around the king (wang) for, according to ora-
determined by his acceptance by the “people” (the ruling
cle-bone inscriptions, he was the “unique man” who could
class and their clients, i.e., the literati and landowners). If the
appeal to his ancestors for blessings or, if necessary, dissipate
people recognized his rulership, it was an indication that the
ancestral curses that affected the state. It was believed that
heavenly mandate remained with him, but if they deposed
determining and influencing the will of the ancestral spirits
him or killed him, it was a clear sign that he had lost Heav-
were possible through divination, prayer, and sacrifice. The
en’s moral support. Under these circumstances, the Zhou
king’s ancestors interceded, in turn, with Di or Shangdi, the
conception of the Son of Heaven tended to lose in the course
supreme being in heaven, who stood at the apex of the spiri-
of time whatever genealogical implications it may have had
tual hierarchy of the Shang.
in its beginnings.
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The classical Chinese conception of sovereignty took
heavenly in origin. It seems also certain that the number of
shape in the Qin and Han periods (221 BCE–220 CE). While
reigning years he uttered in an unconscious state was accept-
the sovereign adopted the title, connoting supreme power,
ed as an announcement from Tengri, the supreme being in
of huangdi (emperor), he was never considered divine, at
least while he was alive, nor was he regarded as an incarna-
The use of the felt carpet was not confined to the T’u-
tion of a divine being. Rather, he was a “unique man” repre-
jue. It was also used among the Tuoba, the Turkic or Mon-
senting Heaven’s will on earth and serving as the link be-
golian people also known as the Xianbei, who established the
tween Heaven and earth. The Chinese notion of the Son of
Northern Wei dynasty (493–534) in China. When the en-
Heaven in its classical form had nothing to do with the gene-
thronement ceremony for Tuoba Xiu was celebrated in 528,
alogical conception of kingship, such as in ancient Egypt or
seven dignitaries held up a carpet of black felt on which the
Japan, that the king was the descendant of a certain god or
new emperor, facing west, made obeisance to heaven (Bei shi,
the god incarnate; the emperor was simply the earthly repre-
bk. 5). In the Khitan state of Liao (907–1125), the enthrone-
sentative of Heaven or heavenly will. The essential function
ment ceremony had as its essential scenario the elevation of
of the Chinese emperor, as formulated in the Han period,
the new emperor on a felt carpet (Liao shi, bk. 49). Chinggis
was to maintain the harmonious cosmic order by means of
Khan, the founder of the great Mongol empire, was also lift-
ceremonials. “The Sage-Kings did not institute the ceremo-
ed in his accession on a carpet of black felt supported by
nies of the suburban sacrifices casually,” states the Han shu
seven chiefs.
(chap. 25). “The sacrifice to Heaven is to be held at the
southern suburb. Its purpose is to conform to the yang prin-
In ancient Korea, several states competed with each
ciple. The sacrifice to earth is to be held at the northern sub-
other for political supremacy until 676, when they became
urb. Its purpose is to symbolize the yin principle.” In short,
united by the kingdom of Silla. The beginnings of these na-
the emperor maintained the cosmic balance by assisting
tions are inseparably interwoven with myths narrating the
Heaven and earth in the regulation and harmonization of the
miraculous birth of the founders, which point almost invari-
yin and yang principles.
ably to the heavenly origin of sovereignty.
In the centuries that followed the fall of the Han em-
The myths can be classified into two major types, one
pire, China was often threatened and invaded by the nomad-
of which may be illustrated by the myth of Puyo˘:
ic peoples of Central and Northeast Asia. Here, too, the king
Tongmyo˘ng, the founder of Puyo˘, was born of a woman who
(khagan, khan) was considered a sacred person, deriving his
became pregnant by a mystical light descending from heav-
sacredness and authority from Tengri (Heaven); he was heav-
en. A similar story is also told of Zhu Mong, who founded
enly in origin, received the mandate from Heaven, and was
Koguryo˘. This type of foundation myth is associated, outside
a supremely important spokesman of heavenly will, serving
of Korea, with Taiwudi (r. 424–452), the third emperor of
as Heaven’s representative on earth.
the Northern Wei dynasty; with A-pao-chi, who founded the
Khitan state of Liao; and with Chinggis Khan. There is no
Significantly, the sacred nature of the king in Central
doubt that this mythic theme was widespread among no-
Asia was often conceived after the archaic model of the sha-
madic peoples such as the Manchus and the Mongolians.
man. Among the Tujue, who dominated the Mongolian
steppes from 552 to 744, a series of strange rituals was per-
The other type of myth is characterized by the story of
formed when a new king acceded to the throne (Zhou shu,
how the founder of a nation or a dynasty descended from
bk. 50): the high-ranking officials turned a felt carpet, on
Heaven onto mountaintops, forests, and trees. According to
which the king was seated, nine times in the direction of the
the myth of ancient Choso˘n, Hwang-wung, a son of the ce-
sun’s movement, and after each turn they prostrated them-
lestial supreme being Hwang-in, descended from Heaven
selves, making obeisance to him. Then they throttled him
onto Mount Tehbaek to establish a nation. The supreme god
with a piece of silken cloth to the point of strangulation and
in Heaven approved of Hwang-wung’s heavenly descent and
asked him how many years he was to rule. In an almost un-
granted him three items of the sacred regalia. He descended,
conscious state, the king uttered his answer.
accompanied by the gods of the wind, rain, and clouds as
well as three thousand people. Similar stories of heavenly de-
This ceremony is somewhat reminiscent of the shaman’s
scent are known of Pak Hyo˘kko˘se and Kim Archi of Silla.
rite of initiation in Central Asia in which the felt carpet
Also noteworthy is the myth of Karak, a small state variously
played a role. Seated on a felt carpet, the shaman was carried
known as Kaya or Mimana: Suro, the founder of Karak, de-
nine times around nine birches in the direction of the sun’s
scends from Heaven onto the summit of Mount Kuji at the
movement and made nine turns on each of them while
command of the heavenly god; a purple rope is seen coming
climbing. Nine turns symbolize the shaman’s ascent to nine
down from Heaven, and at the end of the rope there is a box
heavens. According to the belief of the Tujue, the king in his
containing six golden eggs covered by a piece of crimson
accession makes a symbolic ascent to the highest heaven
cloth. Suro is born of one of the eggs.
through the nine cosmic zones, starting his journey from the
felt carpet on which he is seated; then, after reaching the top
Significantly, the heavenly origin of sovereignty is also
of heaven, he descends onto earth. In this sense, the king was
recognized by the pre-Buddhist tradition of ancient Tibet:
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

GñyaD-khri Btsam-po, the first mythical king, descended
riage of Takaki’s daughter to Amaterasu’s son, to whom
from Heaven onto the sacred mountain of Yar-lha-`sam-po
Ninigi is born. He is born in the heavenly world and, at the
in Yarlung, by means of a rope or a ladder. He agreed to de-
command of either Takaki or Amaterasu or both, descends
scend on the condition that he be granted ten heavenly magi-
onto the summit of Mount Takachiho. When Ninigi is
cal objects. According to Giuseppe Tucci, the Tibetan royal
about to descend, accompanied by the five clan heads, Ama-
ideology owes much to the religious tradition of the pastoral
terasu gives him rice grains harvested in her celestial rice
fields, after which he comes down in the form of a newborn
baby covered by a piece of cloth called matoko o fusuma. Es-
Japanese kingship emerged at the end of the fourth cen-
pecially noteworthy is the fact that Ninigi is granted the sa-
tury CE. The ruler called himself the “king [ in Japanese;
cred regalia as well as the mandate of Heaven guaranteeing
wang in Chinese] of Wa” or “king of the land of Wa” when
his eternal sovereignty on earth. Ninigi’s heavenly descent
he addressed the court in China. These designations simply
was reenacted by the emperor at the annual harvest festival
followed what had become customary between the Chinese
in the fall as well as on the occasion of his enthronement
suzerains and the Japanese local princes since the middle of
the first century CE. However, these titles were never used
within Japan; the sovereign was called o¯-kimi (dawang in
SEE ALSO Amaterasu O
¯ mikami; Chinese Religion, article on
Chinese; “great king”) by local nobles. It is not until the be-
Mythic Themes; Japanese Religions, articles on Religious
ginning of the seventh century that the Japanese sovereign
Documents, The Study of Myths; Shangdi; Tengri; Tian;
began to employ such titles as tenshi (“son of Heaven”) and
Tibetan Religions, overview article.
tenno¯ (“emperor”) to refer to himself, both of which have
been in use until modern times.
In 600 Empress Suiko sent an envoy to the Sui dynasty,
There is no single book dealing with the problem of sacred king-
the first Japanese mission to China since 502. The Sui shu
ship in East Asia as a whole. On kingship in ancient China,
reports of that mission: “The king of Wa, whose family name
there is a classic study in Marcel Granet’s La religion des
was Ame and personal name Tarishihiko, and who bore the
Chinois (Paris, 1922), translated with an introduction by
title of O
¯ -kimi, sent an envoy to visit the court.” Meaning
Maurice Freedman as The Religion of the Chinese People (New
“noble son of Heaven,” Ametarishihiko (or Ametarashihiko)
York, 1975), pp. 57–96. Valuable information is also pres-
was roughly equivalent to the Chinese tianzi, although its
ented in D. Howard Smith’s “Divine Kingship in Ancient
implications could be different. “Son of Heaven” in the Japa-
China,” Numen 4 (1957): 171–203. David N. Keightley has
made an excellent analysis of the kingship ideology of Shang
nese conception of sovereignty referred invariably to the ruler
China in “The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and
who claimed his direct genealogical descent from the sun
the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture,” History of Religions
goddess Amaterasu as well as his vertical descent from the
17 (February–May 1978): 211–225. More recently, kingship
heavenly world. The Japanese mission to China was followed
in ancient China has been brilliantly discussed in Guangzhi
by another one in 607: “The Son of Heaven in the land
Zhang’s Art, Myth, and Ritual: The Path to Political Authority
where the sun rises addresses a letter to the Son of Heaven
in Ancient China (Cambridge, Mass., 1983).
in the land where the sun sets” (Sui shu). According to the
The conception of kingship among the nomadic peoples in Cen-
Nihongi (compiled in 720), in 608 Suiko forwarded a letter
tral Asia has been skillfully analyzed in Jean-Paul Roux’s
to China with the greeting: “The Emperor of the East re-
“L’origine céleste de la souveraineté dans les inscriptions
spectfully addresses the Emperor of the West.”
paléo-turques de Mongolie et de Sibérie,” in La regalità sacra/
The classical Japanese conception of sovereignty took
The Sacral Kingship (Leiden, 1959), pp. 231–241. I have ex-
amined the symbolism of the felt carpet with special refer-
shape in the second half of the seventh century. It was an era
ence to both shamanism and kingship in my article “Notes
when, under the influence of the Chinese legal system, a
on Sacred Kingship in Central Asia,” Numen 23 (November
highly centralized bureaucratic state was created. Significant-
1976): 179–190.
ly, the creation of this political structure was accompanied
by the completion of the sacred-kingship ideology that had
On the ancient Tibetan conception of kingship, see Giuseppe
Tucci’s study “The Sacred Characters of the Kings of An-
been developing in the previous centuries; not only was the
cient Tibet,” East and West 6 (October 1955): 197–205.
state conceived as a liturgical community with its paradigm
in heaven, but also the sovereign who ruled the state was ex-
The Tibetan conception of kingship has been compared with that
plicitly called the akitsumikami, manifest kami (god), that is,
of ancient Korea and Japan in my “Symbolism of ‘Descent’
the god who manifests himself in the phenomenal world.
in Tibetan Sacred Kingship and Some East Asian Parallels,”
Numen 20 (April 1973): 60–78.
The essential part of the sacred-kingship ideology was
The formation of kingship and its ideology in ancient Japan is dis-
the belief in the emperor’s heavenly origin, and this belief
cussed in my “Sacred Kingship in Early Japan: A Historical
was clearly expressed in the myths of Ninigi, as narrated in
Introduction,” History of Religions 15 (May 1976): 319–342.
the Kojiki (compiled in 712) and the Nihongi. Genealogical-
See also my article “Conceptions of State and Kingship in
ly, Ninigi is connected with both the god Takaki (Takami-
Early Japan,” Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 28
musubi) and the sun goddess Amaterasu through the mar-
(1976): 97–112.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

New Sources
overhead covered. Much to the anger of the people, the pay-
Butler, Lee. Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan, 1467–1680: Resil-
ments did not materialize.
ience and Renewal. Cambridge, U.K., 2002.
Of Kinjikitile the person very little is known. The most
Ching, Julia. Mysticism and Kingship in China: The Heart of Chi-
nese Wisdom. Berkeley, 1997.
certain event in his biography was his death by hanging on
August 4, 1905, when, together with an assistant, he became
Fujitani, Takashi. Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in
the first opposition leader to be summarily executed by the
Modern Japan. Berkeley, 1996.
German military forces. He had lived in Ngarambe for some
Piggot, Joan. The Emergence of Japanese Kingship. Stanford, Calif.,
four years prior to this time and had emerged as an influen-
tial person; the recipient of many gifts, he had become an
Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi. Japanese Loyalism Reconstrued: Yama-
object of jealousy on the part of local political leaders.
gata Daini’s Ryushi Shinron of 1759. Honolulu, 1995.
Kinjikitile was a synthesizer of many religious elements.
Revised Bibliography
There had long been a territorial shrine to Bokero on the Ru-
fiji to which the people had recourse in times of drought.
The drought of 1903 had activated this shrine and extended
its range of influence as pilgrims came from greater and
KINJIKITILE (d. 1905) was a religious leader in south-
greater distances. Kinjikitile’s teachings drew upon this long-
eastern Tanganyika (now Tanzania) who provided inspira-
standing religious institution, joining the territorial authority
tion for the anticolonial struggles known as the Maji Maji
of Bokero with local beliefs in divine possession. His use of
Wars. In 1904, Kinjikitile became famous as a medium in
maji as a new war medicine, which helped to convince people
a place called Ngarambe in Matumbi country, where the op-
to join the rebellion, combined Bokero’s preeminent associa-
pressions of the German colonial system were severe. He was
tion with water with traditional beliefs concerning the effica-
possessed by Hongo, a deity subordinate to the supreme
cy of sacred medicines in protecting hunters. At Ngarambe,
being, Bokero, whose primary ritual center was at Kibesa on
he also built a huge kijumba-nungu (“house of God”) for the
the Rufiji River. At Ngarambe, Kinjikitile blended the spiri-
ancestors; drawing on a resurrectionist theme, he announced
tual authority of Bokero and Hongo with more local ele-
that the ancestors were all at Ngarambe, ready to help their
ments of ancestor veneration at a shrine center where he re-
descendants defeat the Germans and restore the earthly
ceived offerings from pilgrims seeking intercession with the
realm. Furthermore, Kinjikitile’s teachings contained ele-
spiritual world and relief from the adversities they faced,
ments of witch cleansing, whereby the evil within society was
both natural and political. In the later part of 1904 and early
to be eliminated and the community morally purified. By
1905, Kinjikitile advised the pilgrims to prepare themselves
drawing upon these traditional beliefs and using them to
to resist the Germans and dispensed a medicine that he
create an innovative ideology, Kinjikitile provided a regional
promised would turn the enemy’s bullets into water when
and polyethnic basis for the spread of his message of resis-
combat commenced. The rebellion broke out in late July
1905 without the order coming from Kinjikitile, but the
ideological preparation provided by his message and the sys-
Maji Maji warriors knew that their weapons were inferi-
tem of emissaries that spread the word and the medicine have
or to those of the colonial forces, but the German presence
been viewed as critical in the struggles called the Maji Maji
was not so strong as to overawe them. They hoped for a polit-
ical restoration, not of indigenous rulers, but of the Sultan
of Zanzibar, whose regime became idealized because of the
The Maji Maji Wars continued from July 1905 to Au-
relatively benign form of commercial hegemony with which
gust 1907, extending over more than 100,000 square miles
it was associated. Hence there was room for the Germans to
and causing terrible loss of life, estimated officially at 75,000
investigate the possibility that Islamic propaganda or belief
by the Germans and at over 250,000 by modern scholars.
had played a role in the mobilization of resistance. Their con-
Out of this struggle, Kinjikitile emerged as a figure of epic
clusions were negative. Indeed, although Kinjikitile wore the
proportions; he is said to be a religious innovator who de-
traditional garb of Muslims, a long white robe called the
vised a spiritual appeal that transcended particularism and al-
kanzu, his message and idiom were decidedly drawn from
lowed the people to unite against German rule.
traditional sources. Whether he really forged a universalistic
By 1904, resentment of colonial rule and the desire to
traditional religion, as the Tanzanian historian G. C. K.
overthrow it had become widespread in southeastern Tan-
Gwassa has claimed, demands closer scrutiny. Certainly his
ganyika. The times were especially troubled in Matumbi
career obliges students of religion to pay well-merited atten-
country, which experienced a succession of adversities that
tion to the structures and functions of territorial cults, ances-
went beyond the capacity of political agents to handle. In
tor veneration, and concepts of personal spiritual power and
1903 there was a severe drought, and from 1903 to 1905 the
charisma. The context of the Maji Maji Wars must also be
Germans increasingly insisted that the people of Matumbi
carefully weighed to refine notions of thresholds of moral
engage in communal cotton growing, promising payment for
outrage, recourse to religious leaders, and willingness to sub-
the crop once it had been marketed and the administration’s
scribe to a common ideology of resistance.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

which their organized social life depends” (1949, p. 340). At
Gwassa, G. C. K. “The German Intervention and African Resis-
the time, this was a progressive approach, emphasizing the
tance in Tanzania.” In A History of Tanzania, edited by Isaria
rationality, functionality, and essentially human creativity of
N. Kimambo and A. J. Temu, pp. 85–122. Nairobi, 1969.
such societies. But it became untenable, both because it is
Gwassa, G. C. K. “Kinjikitile and the Ideology of Maji Maji.” In
too reductionist and because of the inherent evolutionist di-
The Historical Study of African Religion, edited by T. O.
chotomy between “primitive” and “civilized”—the former
Ranger and Isaria N. Kimambo, pp. 202–217. Berkeley,
designating a more natural state of social life and the latter
Calif., 1972.
higher cultural development and social institutions—which
Iliffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge, 1979.
suggested a great, substantive divide among all forms of
human society. Rather than substantive, the differences and
contrasts of sociality between societies came to be seen as rel-
ative. Although research in “civilized” societies revealed
many structural similarities with “primitive” societies, reduc-
ing the social structure of more egalitarian societies to the
is both a social phenomenon found in all
principles of kinship disregards influential factors such as the
human societies and one of the most central and contested
division of labor, gender, or inequality. The link between
concepts in anthropology. It is a pervasive symbolic practice
kinship and social structure is critical in some societies, but
of creating socially differentiated categories of people and the
it cannot be made at the expense of disregarding the dynam-
relationships among them, especially those relationships that
ics of religious or political or economic factors.
concern the reproduction of people and that constitute
human “being.” A significant aspect of kinship relationships
At the same time, the ethnographic evidence across cul-
is that they apply not only to contemporaries, but transcend
tures does not uphold the typologies of social order proposed
the living to include predecessors and ancestors as well as de-
on the ground of a supposed correlation between kinship
scendants and future generations.
constructs such as descent, kinship terminology, or marriage
Who is a relative and how relations of kinship are de-
patterns and aspects of social organization such as gender re-
fined varies from culture to culture. But the ideas and princi-
lations, social roles, the allocations of rights and obligations,
ples underpinning these different kinships systems are often
or the distribution of power. In this regard, studies that com-
closely associated with religious ideas, addressing existential
bined the analysis of kinship and gender since the 1970s con-
questions for all human beings, such as: What makes people
tributed critically to dismantling formal models that linked
humans? How do people come into the world? What consti-
kinship institutions to social organization. The way kinship
tutes a person? What happens to persons when they die?
is conceptualized and structured in a society does not predict
Wherein consists the continuity of social relationships that
the totality of social life.
transcends generations?
KINSHIP AND THE NATURAL. For much of the twentieth cen-
THE CONCEPT. Early anthropologists noticed that the vari-
tury, anthropologists defined kinship as genealogical related-
ous peoples they studied differed greatly in the ways they
ness, that is, as relationships based on consanguinity (the idea
named and categorized kin, defined appropriate behavior
that related people share blood or biogenetic substance) and
among kinspeople, reckoned descent, regulated marriage,
affinity (relationships forged as a result of marriage). This
and organized succession among the generations. Kinship
meant that the diverse ways in which people in different cul-
and its diversity became the central issue in anthropology for
tures define who is a relative and organize their systems of
much of the twentieth century, mainly for two reasons. First,
kinship relationships were explained by falling back on the
both an explanation for the diverse systems of kinship and,
notion that this diversity nevertheless must have a referent
in the face of such diversity, a universal definition needed to
in the natural facts of life, the natural processes of human
be found. This taxing issue led to most of the central debates
sexual reproduction. A critical distinction, between social
in anthropology until quite recently. Arguments over what
kinship and biological kinship, was introduced. Biological
the term kinship designates, and what its analytical validity
relations were considered given in nature, and therefore kin-
is, resulted in a robust reconfiguration of kinship studies
ship could be singled out as the primary structure ordering
since the 1970s. Second, many of the societies anthropolo-
social relations in simple societies. The social relations of kin-
gists studied were societies without state organization, and
ship were regarded as cultural constructs and representations
one of the leading questions was how social order and politi-
that more or less recognized and interpreted biological ties
cal structure were defined and maintained in such societies.
and the given facts of life.
Kinship was considered to play the key role in providing
In the 1960s and 1970s a debate erupted concerning
a basic structure for the organization of the social life of state-
what kinship is all about and engendering a rethinking of the
less and, as they came to be called, as a type, “primitive” so-
concept. It resulted in the analytical separation of physical
cieties. Their social structure, Meyer Fortes stated in The
kinship from biological kinship. The cultural notions of
Web of Kinship among the Tallensi, was “kinship writ large”
physical procreation and consubstantiality—how people
and “kinship . . . is one of the irreducible principles on
considered themselves to be related through shared physical
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

substance, whether it was blood, or semen, or food—should
them empirically rather than take them as given by
be seen as separate from true biological facts and as cultural
interpretations of genealogical ties (see Holy, 1996 for a use-
DEFINITION. If the defining moment of kinship is not refer-
ful discussion). A major turning point in the still ongoing
enced to biology, what kind of definition can be put forth
reconfiguration of kinship was A Critique of the Study of Kin-
that enables cross-cultural comparison but avoids the pitfalls
ship (1984) by David Schneider, who targeted the analytical
of previous definitions? Current working definitions of the
distinction between biological and social kinship, which he
concept—and there is no single agreed-upon definition—
identified as stemming from a European and American cul-
tend to go back to first principles. They focus on those rela-
tural bias, from Western folk models of kinship which are
tionships that in any given cultural context are considered
embedded in what he called the “general characteristic of Eu-
constitutive of personhood and social human being, of how
ropean culture toward what might be called ‘biologistic’ ways
people come into being, achieve personhood, and attain a so-
of constituting and conceiving human character, human na-
cially recognized afterlife. There may be exceptions, but in
ture, and human behavior” (1984, p. 175). Reflecting a gen-
most human societies these constitutive relationships are
eral shift in anthropology from function to meaning, Schnei-
marked as distinct among all social relations. They often ar-
der’s pioneering work on kinship in American culture
ticulate fundamental ideas about relationality itself, about
analyzed “the distinctive features which define the person as
how social relationships can be forged, maintained, and
a relative” (1968, p. 19), examining American kinship as a
properly dismantled. They also tend to articulate a temporal
symbolic system in which biological relatedness and sexual
component so that such constitutive relationships provide a
relations play a fundamental role as symbols for social rela-
person with a past, with relationships to predecessors, such
tionships. In many non-European traditions, kinship rela-
as ancestry, descent, and collective history.
tionships are not necessarily conceptualized as an elaboration
of natural processes or as the tracing of genealogical connec-
Raymond C. Kelly offered a comprehensive and cross-
tions (and where biological ideas have gained purchase in the
culturally useful definition of kinship in Constructing In-
course of the global spread of Western culture, they are often
equalities (1993). Significantly, he connects kinship to the
being reworked and innovatively amalgamated with existing
concepts of the body and the person:
cultural ideas). Cultural concepts of procreation may involve
Kinship relations are social relations predicated upon
critical religious elements unrelated to biological processes.
cultural conceptions that specify the processes by which
an individual comes into being and develops into a
The people of the Micronesian island of Yap, for exam-
complete (i.e., mature) social person. These processes
ple, single out human existence as categorically different
encompass the acquisition and transformation of both
from the existence of animals such as their domestic pigs. In
spiritual and corporeal components of being. Sexual re-
Yap culture, human procreation and descent involve not
production and the formulation of paternal and mater-
only bodily processes but also a spiritual component, the re-
nal contributions are an important component of, but
incarnation of ancestral souls. Descent only exists in humans.
are not coextensive with, the relevant processes. This is
It charts the reincarnation of ancestral souls and is distinct
due to the ethnographic fact that a full complement of
from reckoning parentage for the breeding of pigs. Anthro-
spiritual components is never derived exclusively from
the parents. Moreover, the sexually transmitted ingredi-
pologists have always insisted that descent is a concept of so-
ents of corporeal substance are frequently transmitted
cial organization, referring to relatedness based on common
in other ways as well. (p. 521)
ancestry, which may include people not related biologically
and only those genealogical relationships that are socially rec-
These further processes of manipulating and modifying sub-
ognized. In the Yap definition, however, descent and the re-
stances and spiritual components involved in attaining full
lationship to ancestry is part of the process of conception.
personhood and in forging kin relations should not be disre-
garded because of a biologically based definition of kinship.
Since Schneider’s critique, anthropologists approach
As Kelly points out, “there is no analytic utility in artificially
kinship cross-culturally, with an increased reflective sensitivi-
restricting the category of kin relations to relations predicat-
ty to preconceived ideas about what kinship is. As Ladislav
ed on some but not all the constitutive processes of person-
Holy points out in Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship
hood because these processes are culturally formulated as
(1996), “the most significant development in the study of
components of an integrated system” (1993, p. 522).
kinship has been the growing awareness of the cultural speci-
ficity of what were previously taken to be the natural facts
By dissociating the concept of kinship from biology and
on which all kinship systems were presumed to be built”
integrating it with the process of how persons come into
(p. 165). The resulting challenges made kinship again one
being, the investigative focus shifted to ways in which kin-
of the most innovative areas of study, connecting research
ship is embedded in the social life of people and to its con-
across diverse disciplinary, analytical, theoretical, and ethno-
nections to aspects of culture such as religion.
graphic sites. Recent studies of local and specific conceptual-
KINSHIP, PERSON, AND BODY. The approach to kinship and
izations of kinship foreground the questions of what kinship
social organization through the concepts of the person and
means and who is a relative and why, and they seek to answer
the body was most powerfully developed by Marilyn Strath-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ern in The Gender of the Gift (1988), a comparison of social
briand traditional belief that conception takes place when an
life across the diverse cultures of Melanesia. She generalized
ancestral soul enters the womb of a woman who belongs to
the Melanesian person as “a microcosm of relations” and the
the same landholding descent group with which the ancestor
body as “a register, a site of . . . interaction . . . composed
is associated. Souls thus retain the descent and kin classifica-
of the specific historical action of others” (pp. 131–132), and
tion they had as living beings, and they are reincarnated into
both concepts are keys to understanding social organization
the same kin group. Sexual intercourse is critical to this pro-
and social units such as descent, group formation, exchange,
cess because it provides the soul with a material human form,
and marriage arrangements. The approach echoes well be-
the body, which is made from blood, a kinship substance
yond that region, inspiring studies triangulating kinship, the
provided by the mother, and which is shaped by the father’s
person, and the body elsewhere, including the West. Exam-
activities during sexual intercourse with the mother. Both the
ining kinship in conjunction with personhood also sheds
maternal and paternal contributions are vital to this process.
new light on the structuring of rituals, particularly life-cycle
The mother’s contribution consists of providing blood (es-
rituals such as initiation, marriage, and mortuary rituals in
sence) and spirit, and the father’s of forming the child’s body,
which the body often takes center stage. As Kelly’s definition
which takes an appearance that resembles the father, and of
suggests, life-cycle rituals modify and complement the com-
enabling the child’s growth and eventual separation from the
position of the body and the constitution of the person,
maternal body. A Trobriand father will contribute to feed
which began with procreation. Death rituals often involve
and shape his child’s bodily form and appearance by affec-
the dismantling of the network of relationships centered on
tionately taking care of the child, in what is expressed by
the deceased and the final repayment of contributions to-
Trobrianders as paternal nurture and which remains a vital
wards the deceased person by others. This history of relation-
factor in the course of a person’s life. The different maternal
ships, contributions, and obligations is literally embodied in
and paternal contributions to the making of a child are sym-
the deceased person, and, with the body gone, the person
bolized in the relationships between the child and wider sets
and the obligations need to be discharged by the surviving
of maternal and paternal kin. They also shape the relation-
kin of the deceased. Kinship and life-cycle rituals are ana-
ships between different descent groups who maintain rela-
lyzed here in a combined approach, and such rituals, which
tions of paternal nurture with each other, expressed in vari-
often articulate and realize religious ideas, are part of the pro-
ous exchange events. These collective relationships
cess of attaining personhood.
acknowledge their mutual interdependence from each other
for the regeneration of the descent group. Like an ancestral
Some recent kinship studies reveal the importance of
soul, they depend on paternal nurture to be able to exist in
feeding and nurture to the process of kinship. Janet Carsten
a material, bodily form.
showed that while the people of Langkawi (Malaysia) regard
blood as a substance with which a child is born and which
Recent scholarship on kinship and new reproductive
biotechnology, international adoption, and gay and lesbian
differentiates kin, blood as a kinship substance is modified
families shows that a more flexible concept of kinship, em-
and transformed by breast-milk which the child ingests, and
phasizing relationality and process, may be at work signifi-
later by the food the child eats; through the daily food that
cantly in European and North American practices. At the
was cooked on the hearth of the house and that members of
same time, these new contexts for kinship raise new ques-
a household share, they have a substance in common which
tions about how relatives, especially parents, are defined,
has qualities similar to blood. The body of a Langkawi per-
challenging traditional Euro-American notions that human
son undergoes a social process that reflects the relationships
reproduction is a natural process through which the ties of
of commensality, the sharing of food, and cohabitation that
kinship emerge unproblematically. The new reproductive
the person maintains. One consequence of this processual
technologies manipulate what were deemed to be natural
conceptualization of kinship is that birth siblings and adopt-
processes so that biological relatedness no longer figures as
ed siblings are not socially differentiated if they were nursed
a given ground for kin relations. Marilyn Strathern succinct-
by the same woman and fed from the same hearth, because
ly states the problem as “what is interfered with is the very
the substance that makes them related to others is considered
idea of a natural fact” (1992, p. 41); nature assisted by tech-
to be the same.
nology becomes part of culture. Shared substance, rather
The cultural understanding of procreation and person-
than biology, may also be a powerful connection for mem-
hood among Trobriand Islanders (Papua New Guinea) in-
bers in families created through adoption. These innovative
corporates significant religious and relational concepts that
ways of making kinship suggest that, in the European tradi-
structure social organization. Trobriand procreation not only
tion, the ground for relationality as it is experienced by peo-
involves bodily substance and the reincarnation of spirits,
ple is no longer, or may never have been, simply biology and
but also the creation of form. The Trobriand model of
nature after all.
human reproduction preoccupied many observers and was
ANCESTORS AND DESCENT. Ancestors are important in most
debated as an instance of virgin birth, or denial of physiologi-
kinship systems. Shared ancestry can be the basis for the clas-
cal paternity and sexual intercourse as a condition for procre-
sification of kin into social categories, particularly descent
ation. This is based on a fundamental misconception of Tro-
categories. Ancestors are, by definition, remembered kin, but
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

not all kin are remembered as ancestors, and which kin be-
come ancestors varies. Among some Amerindian peoples
ties extend the use of kinship terms—the specific names for
only personally known kin become ancestors, whereas in
the different kinship relationships and those used to address
many African and Asian cultures ancestors and their relation-
kin—to refer to non-kin. This is a metaphorical or classifica-
ships are remembered for many generations. In yet other cul-
tory use of kinship which is significant, because it extends
tures ancestors may be remembered as names rather than as
the morality of kinship to other people and sometimes to
deceased kin, but as names associated with land and people
other beings. In Christianity, God is addressed as Father, and
who, by bestowing the names to children, forge descent as
Jesus is addressed as the Son of God. Similarly, members of
a relationship between ancestral name, land, and kinspeople.
Christian faith communities and monasteries use kinship
Among the Dobu Islanders of Papua New Guinea, the physi-
terms to express relationships within their communities. In
cal remains of ancestors are the focus of descent. Dobuans
doing so they express their separation from their families of
return their dead kin to their village of origin and bury them
origin and their commitment to the social relations of the
in the center of the village. The burial mound thus symbol-
community. It has also been suggested that the sharing in the
izes lineal descent unadulterated by affinal relations. Among
Holy Spirit serves as a basis of essence for the social relation-
Australian Aboriginals it is often the memory of the ances-
ships of kinship in Spirit. From an anthropological point of
tors’ journeys in the country, and their activities and experi-
view, one understands such uses in different Christian com-
ences at places in the landscape, that is the content of descent
munities across the world as reflecting cultural diversity and
and connects people to ancestors, the landscape, and their
diverse views of God as Father—depending on the way in
which the role of father is culturally conceived, for example.
Ancestors may be the focal point for the definition of
In some societies, kinship and ancestry is extended to
kin categories and groups, in the case of lineages and clans
animals and other beings who live together with people in
for example, which comprise persons related through descent
the same environment. The Nayaka, a people living in the
exclusively through either the male (patrilineal) or the female
Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu (South India), regard the forest
(matrilineal) line. In societies with a strongly developed pat-
in which they live as a parent. Nurit Bird-David (1999) re-
rilineal descent structure, such as the Lugbara of Uganda, dif-
ports that Nayaka refer to features in the forest such as hills
ferent categories of patrilineal male and female ancestors are
or rocks in the same terms they use to refer to the spirits of
distinguished depending on their descent status and whether
those who were their immediate predecessors (their recently
they contributed significantly to the polity of the descent
deceased ancestors)—as “big father” or “big mother”—and
group during their lifetime. In these societies, genealogies re-
they refer to themselves as children. In relation to their forest
cord effective ancestors.
they see themselves as children of the forest, and they main-
In community-based religions the offices of ritual ex-
tain relationships of sharing. The morality of kinship, specifi-
perts and access to esoteric knowledge may be organized by
cally the sharing morality and intimacy of the parent-child
kinship statuses and succession through descent. Only peo-
relationship, extends to the environment. As Tim Ingold
ple categorized as descendants of a particular ancestor may
notes, “the environment shares its bounty with humans just
be permitted to have certain knowledge or the right to per-
as humans share with one another, thereby integrating both
form rituals. Such experts often employ this knowledge and
human and non-human components of the world into one,
perform rituals on behalf of the whole community or society.
all embracing ‘cosmic economy of sharing’” (Ingold, 2000,
In many Australian Aboriginal, lowland South American,
p. 44).
and Native American cultures of the Southwest, the kinship
system involves a form of dual organization in which people
Such use of kin terms is part of a wider phenomenon
are classified into moieties (halves into which the total society
by which people attribute personhood to the beings with
divides), which are part of a dual cosmology. Moiety organi-
whom they share an environment (e.g., animals, trees, rocks,
zation is related to kinship and descent, but it is often rela-
places), whether or not they address them by kin terms. At-
tively flexible and may involve multiple differentiations,
tributing personhood means that one regards other beings as
which enables cooperation between the moieties. Depending
capable of maintaining social relationships among them-
on the specific system, a person may belong to one or several
selves and with other beings. It indicates what Bird-David
cross-cutting moieties. Moiety affiliation may be strictly
calls a “we-ness which absorbs differences” (1999, p. 78), and
through descent, or it may change according to the specifics
subsumes kinship, or what Roy Wagner (1977) identified
of marriage exchanges or of residence. Some moieties are not
among Papuan cultures as the very ground of being rather
linked to kinship, but are ritual moieties. Among Yolngu, an
than merely of humanity, namely the innate capacity for so-
Australian Aboriginal people of Arnhem Land, there are
cial relationship both with those similar and with those dif-
named matrilineal and patrilineal moieties as well as ceremo-
ferentiated, which renders all beings of an environment akin.
nial nonlineal moieties. Moieties own certain cults and ritu-
als which they perform for the whole community, which in
SEE ALSO Ancestors, article on Ancestor Worship; Commu-
turn supports these services by organizing the performances.
nity; Family; Genealogy; Marriage; Totemism.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

sive and influential critique of the notion of the primitive,
Bird-David, Nurit. “Animism Revisited: Personhood, Environ-
kinship-based society representing the origins of human soci-
ment, and Relational Epistemology.” Current Anthropology
ety, discussing different theoretical traditions such as totem-
40, suppl. (February 1999): 67–79, 86–91.
ism, lineage theory, and alliance theory.
Bloch, Maurice. “Zafimaniry Birth and Kinship Theory.” Social
Middleton, John. Lugbara Religion. London, 1960; new edition,
Anthropology 1 (1993): 119–32. This concise article outlines
Oxford, 1999. A classic account of kinship and ancestor wor-
the processual nature of kinship and marriage among Zafi-
ship in Africa.
maniry (Madagascar), where a couple emerges through the
Mosko, Mark. “On ‘Virgin Birth,’ Comparability, and Anthropo-
children they raise and the increasing solidity of the house
logical Method.” Current Anthropology 39, no. 5 (1998):
they build over their lifetime; the house turns into a family
685–687. A short but concise discussion of Trobriand Is-
shrine upon their death.
landers’ cultural theory of conception, including relevant ref-
Bloch, Maurice, and Jonathan Parry, eds. Death and the Regenera-
tion of Life. Cambridge, U.K., 1982. Various excellent arti-
Morphy, Howard. Ancestral Connections: Art and the Yolngu Sys-
cles dealing with death, kinship, descent, and funeral rituals.
tem of Knowledge. Chicago, 1991. A readable ethnography on
Carsten, Janet. The Heat of the Hearth: The Process of Kinship in
the complex relations of ceremony, art, land, ancestry, and
a Malay Fishing Community. Oxford, U.K., 1997. A readable
kinship among an Aboriginal Australian people.
and evocative ethnographic account of kinship on the island
of Langkawi, Malaysia, and a grounded theoretical discus-
Ortiz, Alfonso. The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being, and Becom-
sion of the nature of kinship, especially the concept of sub-
ing in a Pueblo Society. Chicago, 1969. An encompassing eth-
nographic account of a system of dual classification, of the
dynamic of its inherent division and unity, tracing its appli-
Carsten, Janet, ed. Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the
cation in all aspects of culture.
Study of Kinship. Cambridge, U.K., 2000. A collection of ar-
ticles providing detailed ethnographic accounts of various
Schneider, David M. American Kinship: A Cultural Account. En-
cultural idioms of relatedness in an attempt to rethink kin-
glewood Cliffs, N.J., 1968.
ship theory.
Schneider, David M. A Critique of the Study of Kinship. Ann
Collier, Jane Fishburne, and Sylvia Junko Yanagisako, eds. Gender
Arbor, Mich., 1984.
and Kinship: Essays toward a Unified Analysis. Stanford,
Schweitzer, Peter, ed. Dividends of Kinship: Meanings and Uses of
Calif., 1987. A milestone in kinship studies, dismantling the
Social Relatedness. London and New York, 2000. These arti-
idea of kinship as a separate domain of social life and putting
cles examine kinship as a practice and explore how kinship
forth the cultural construction of difference as the central
is embedded in social life through the way people in various
issue in understanding both kinship and gender.
cultures make kinship concepts work to address specific op-
Desjarlais, Robert. Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths Among
portunities and pursue social strategies.
Nepal’s Yolmo Buddhists. Berkeley, Calif., 2003. Insightful
Strathern, Marilyn. The Gender of the Gift. Berkeley, Calif., 1988.
and beautifully written biographical accounts of several per-
One of the most theoretically innovative and influential
sons portraying the many ways kinship and religion shape a
comparative works by a leading anthropologist, a synthesis
life and are closely interwoven in a person’s experience of life.
addressing kinship, personhood, gender, and sociality in
Fortes, Meyer. The Web of Kinship Among the Tallensi. London,
1949. A classic ethnographic monograph of kinship in the
Strathern, Marilyn. After Nature: English Kinship in the Late
structural-functionalist mode of a culture where kinship is
Twentieth Century. Cambridge, U.K., 1992. An account of
closely linked to ancestral authority.
English kinship in the context of knowledge production, as-
Franklin, Sara, and Susan McKinnon, eds. Relative Values: Recon-
sisted human reproduction, and consumer society, tracing
figuring Kinship Studies. Durham, N.C., 2001. A major re-
the wider implications of producing natural ties through re-
cent contribution towards repositioning kinship studies, par-
productive technology for the way human knowledge is con-
ticularly in response to empirical and theoretical challenges
posed by international adoption, reproductive technology,
and genetic projects in a globalized world.
Wagner, Roy. “Are There Social Groups in the New Guinea
Highlands?” In Frontiers of Anthropology, edited by Murray
Holy, Ladislav. Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship. London,
J. Leaf. New York, 1974. A seminal essay showing how the
1996. A sensitive and well-argued introductory text on the
exchange of food substances connects with kinship substance
concept of kinship and its history, and still the best available
in a New Guinea society and how kin groups are elicited
temporarily through the use of named differentiations and
Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Liveli-
constitute themselves in the process of such successive ex-
hood, Dwelling, and Skill. London, 2000. An innovative,
change events, rather than in a given kinship structure.
highly synoptic approach to understanding human culture
Wagner, Roy. “Scientific and Indigenous Papuan Conceptions of
through relationality, environment, personhood, and inter-
the Innate.” In Subsistence and Survival: Rural Ecology in the
Pacific, edited by Timothy P. Bayliss-Smith and Richard G.
Kelly, Raymond C. Constructing Inequality: The Fabrication of a
Feachem, pp. 385–410. London and New York, 1977.
Hierarchy of Virtue among the Etoro. Ann Arbor, Mich.,
Weiner, Annette. Women of Value, Men of Renown: New Perspec-
tives on Trobriand Exchange. Austin, Tex., 1976.
Kuper, Adam. The Invention of Primitive Society: Transformations
of an Illusion. London and New York, 1988. A comprehen-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

KIREEVSKII, IVAN (1806–1856), was a Russian pub-
isolated individual. Kireevskii’s “integrality” of the soul was
licist and Slavophile. In his early years Kireevskii’s literary
to be attained solely by “the common endeavor of all who
criticism gained him the patronage of Vasilii Zhukovskii
believe and think.” The concept of sobornost D, first formulat-
(1783–1852) and the approval of Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–
ed by Kireevskii’s friend Aleksei Khomiakov (1804–1860),
1837). He founded and was briefly the editor of a promising
was equally congenial to Kireevskii himself. Each was eager
journal, Evropeets, closed by the authorities in 1832. This
to promote that sense of Orthodox community and organic
event drove Kireevskii into semiretirement, from which he
fellowship to which sobornost D refers.
was to emerge only occasionally and with reluctance. Only
Several of Kireevskii’s insights were to prove seminal for
in the last decade of his life was he to find a cause that helped
Russian thinkers of succeeding decades. He died an early
to justify his withdrawal from society: collaboration with the
death of cholera and was buried at Optino, his spiritual
monastic elders of the hermitage at Optino. This in its turn
home. Despite the neglect of Kireevskii’s reputation and
provided him with a theological diagnosis for what in 1853
depredations of Optino during the Soviet period, his tomb-
he called “the disorder of my inner forces.”
stone has recently been recovered and restored.
In his early years Kireevskii was a proponent of West-
ernization. But by the late 1830s he insisted on the role of
Russia as a lodestar for a western Europe in decline. Without
Kireevskii’s complete works were edited by M. O. Gershenzon as
any marked chauvinism or aggressiveness (in this he differed
Polnoe sobranie sochinenii I. V. Kireevskago in two volumes
from several of his contemporaries and successors), he had
(1911; reprint, Farnborough, 1970). To these should be
added the German translation of Kireevskii’s diaries for
become one of the founding fathers of the Slavophile move-
1852–1854 (the original remains unpublished): “Das Tage-
buch Ivan VasilDevic Kirejevskijs, 1852–1854,” translated by
For Kireevskii this undertaking had involved a conver-
Eberhard Müller, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 14
sion or at least a return to the Orthodox church. At the
(1966): 167–194. Two monographs may be mentioned: Ab-
prompting of his wife, NatalDia Arbeneva, Kireevskii had
bott Gleason’s European and Muscovite: Ivan Kireevsky and
turned his attention from Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854)
the Origins of Slavophilism (Cambridge, Mass., 1972) and
Peter K. Christoff’s An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century
to the church fathers. His first guide in Orthodox church life
Russian Slavophilism: A Study in Ideas, vol. 2, I. V. Kireevskij
was his wife’s confessor, Filaret (d. 1842), a monk of the
(The Hague, 1972).
Novo-Spasskii monastery in Moscow. But in his search for
guidance Kireevskii also visited the Optino community,
which was in the forefront of a Russian hesychast revival.
Here he found two profound and subtle guides—the elder
Leonid (1768–1841) and his successor Makarii (1788–
1860). Kireevskii’s acceptance of their guidance presaged the
reconciliation of the Westernized gentry and (subsequently)
intelligentsia with the church; and it anticipated what is so
often termed the Russian “religious renaissance” of the early
twentieth century.
KITAGAWA, JOSEPH M. (1915–1992) was a histo-
rian of religions, humanist, Asianist, priest, theologian, edu-
At Optino Kireevskii committed himself to an ambi-
cator, and administrator. The career of Joseph Mitsuo Kita-
tious, unprecedented program—the editing, translation, and
gawa, who served as an editor of the first edition of The
publication of Greek patristic texts. The program attracted
Encyclopedia of Religion (1987), spanned a number of conti-
the patronage of Metropolitan Filaret of Moscow and proved
nents, traditions, disciplines, and roles.
to be a landmark in the history of Russian publishing.
Among the authors made available were Isaac the Syrian
EARLY YEARS. Born to Japanese Christian parents in Osaka,
(d. 700?), Maximos the Confessor (c. 580–662), John Cli-
his father an Episcopal priest, from his youth Kitagawa lived
macus (c. 570–649), Symeon the New Theologian (949–
within the minority Christian tradition in Japan, but was at-
1022), and, representative of Russian mystics, Nil Sorskii
tuned to the variety and depth of Asian thought and belief.
(1433–1508). The first volume issued (1847) was, appropri-
Reflecting on his life, Kitagawa wrote that:
ately enough, called The Life and Writings of the Moldavian
I have always been awed, fascinated and inspired by the
Starets Paisii Velichkovskii (1722–1794). Paisii’s influence
lives of two men, Confucius and the Apostle
had stimulated the resurgence of hesychast spirituality at the
Paul. . . .[P]ersons like myself, born and raised in the
Optino community.
Far East, lived in the shadow of the towering figure of
Confucius. We were inspired by his view of common
With all his concern for the traditional spiritual disci-
human nature, his insistence on the educability of all
plines, Kireevskii had no intention of discarding reason. Nor
men and women, and his vision of ethical universalism
did he see Orthodox tradition as something finite. He spoke
based on the cultivation of human goodness. His voca-
of patristic teaching as “an embryo for the philosophy of the
tion was the training of scholars (Ju), who would influ-
future.” That future philosophy must not be the task of an
ence the administrative policies of the nation. Although
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

he himself failed miserably during his lifetime to per-
other scholars, they established the “history of religions” ap-
suade the rulers to adopt his policies, Confucius left a
proach, as epitomized in the journal they founded, History
high standard for his disciples to follow. . . .An edu-
of Religions: An International Journal for Comparative Studies
cated person had a vocation to master the saving knowl-
(1961–). While promoting the study of religion on the grad-
edge of the sacred past, to transmit it to the present gen-
uate level, Kitagawa helped educate a large group of histori-
eration, and to interpret contemporary experience in
ans of religion, and trained a number of doctoral students
the light of accumulated wisdom. . . .As a child of a
parsonage, I have been exposed from my earliest days
in the area of Japanese religion, who helped develop the field
to the name of another important figure, namely the
of “Japanese religion” within North America. He was an in-
Apostle Paul. . . .I have come to appreciate over the
defatigable advocate of comparative religion as a component
years the very human qualities of the Apostle Paul. Also
of undergraduate education, and of the role of trained histo-
his piercing insight into human nature and its predica-
rians of religions to teach such courses; he foresaw the role
ment resonates in many of us. . .Paul. . .is a man of
of state institutions as playing a prominent function in the
unusual talents coupled with human weaknesses, com-
teaching about religion, once undertaken only in private in-
pletely dedicated to his vocation of spreading the gos-
stitutions. Kitagawa’s students, both those in his special area
pel. . . .For this vocation he joyfully endured afflic-
of Japanese religion, and in other fields of the history of reli-
tions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments,
and hunger. Significantly, it was his spiritual maturity
gions, found academic positions throughout the world, espe-
which brought him to a profound understanding of the
cially in the United States and Japan. He is remembered by
meaning of love as the mystery of God. . . .The lives
his colleagues and students as impeccable in dress and man-
of these two persons. . .remain constant reminders to
ners, a consummate diplomat, and an able and tireless ad-
me that our worth must be measured not primarily by
our accomplishments, not even by scholarly accom-
plishments, but by the quality of vocation we find in
Kitagawa interrupted his own academic work to serve
life. (Kitagawa, 1979, pp. 18–20)
for two terms from 1970 to 1980 as dean of the Divinity
School. As dean he looked back to the vision of William
Kitagawa’s own experiences and studies led him to a life-long
Rainey Harper (the academic founder of the University of
commitment of mediating between and among contrasting
Chicago, a scholar of biblical and Middle Eastern studies
viewpoints. He graduated from Rikkyo University, affiliated
who also insisted on the scientific study of religion), finding
with the Episcopal Church, and like his brother followed
in him a role model for mediating both between academic
their father in becoming an Episcopal priest. Coming to the
and professional roles and among various fields. Following
United States to continue his theological studies just before
Harper’s lead, Kitagawa promoted a threefold graduate and
World War II, he was caught in the internment of Japanese
professional mission for the Divinity School: balancing theo-
and Japanese-Americans for the duration of the war. He
logical inquiry, the humanistic (or scientific) study of reli-
commented later that, while ministering to the religious
gion, and the development of professional religious leader-
needs of fellow internees, these relocation camps were his real
introduction to American society. He embraced America’s
ship. Kitagawa’s work as dean has been summed up by his
democratic ideals, and yet noted, with sadness, “America’s
close colleague, Martin Marty: “Kitagawa regularly remarked
failure to fulfill her creed of democratic equality” (Kitagawa,
on the ways the Harper model could be used to criticize ex-
1992, p. 128), not only in his own internment experiences,
cesses in today’s world. Thus he was not impressed by neo-
but domestically on racial issues and internationally on refu-
positivist, ‘more secular than thou’ scholars of religion who
gee matters. Not until after the war, in October 1945, could
pretended that believing communities did not exist, or dis-
he resume his studies, first taking a bachelor of divinity de-
dained them. He was equally unimpressed by professional
gree at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston,
ministerial or theological schools which underestimated the
Illinois, in 1947. During this time he also organized an Epis-
need for critical scholarly inquiry” (Marty, 1985, p. 13).
copal mission to Chicago’s Japanese population; this endeav-
Kitagawa was furthering these goals when he was instru-
or eventually became the Asian ministry of the diocese. He
mental in establishing the Institute for the Advanced Study
studied for his doctorate under Joachim Wach at the Divini-
of Religion (now the Martin Marty Center) at the University
ty School of the University of Chicago, completing his dis-
of Chicago. In the United States he was a founding member
sertation on “Kobo-daishi and Shingon Buddhism” in 1951.
and mainstay of the American Society for the Study of Reli-
ACADEMIC CAREER. Kitagawa joined the faculty of his alma
gion, and he was prominent in his support of the Interna-
mater in 1951 and served in a number of capacities, first as-
tional Association for the History of Religions. Kitagawa’s
sisting his mentor Joachim Wach in cultivating the postwar
service to the field was international, sitting on the board of
interest in the study of religion. Their efforts to combine the
directors for both the International Institute for the Study
earlier American tradition of comparative religion with the
of Religion (Tokyo) and the Fund for Theological Educa-
European notion of Religionswissenschaft were cut short by
tion; he was editorial advisor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica
Wach’s premature death in 1955. Kitagawa was instrumental
and on the board of editors for Numen. He lectured widely
in securing the appointment of Mircea Eliade at the Univer-
throughout the world, and delivered a number of major lec-
sity of Chicago; together with Charles H. Long, and later
tures, including the Joachim Wach Memorial Lecture at the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

University of Marburg, the Charles Wesley Brashares Lec-
books and articles to 1980. Reynolds and Ludwig have also
tures on the History of Religions at Northwestern Universi-
provided (pp. 11–21) an overview of Kitagawa’s methodolo-
ty, the Charles Strong Memorial Lecture in Comparative Re-
gy. Some of his publications undertook the editing of post-
ligions at Australian universities, the Rockwell Lecture Series
humous works of his mentor, Joachim Wach: The Compara-
at Rice University, and Lectures on the History of Religions
tive Study of Religions (New York, 1958); Understanding and
(sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies).
Believing: Essays (New York, 1968); and Essays in the History
Religions (New York, 1988). He also authored Gibt es ein
For his scholarship he received a number of honorary
Verstehen fremder Religionen?: Mit einer Biographie Joachim
Wachs und einer vollst(ndigen Bibliographie seiner Werke (Lei-
SCHOLARLY CONTRIBUTION. Several autobiographical state-
den, 1963). Kitagawa was generous in editing the work of
ments can serve to characterize Kitagawa’s work. “Having a
others, such as (with Alan L. Miller) Ichiro Hori, Folk Reli-
father who was a Confucian-turned-Christian minister and
gion in Japan: Continuity and Change (Chicago, 1968); he
co-edited (with Charles H. Long) Myths and Symbols: Studies
growing up in the Yamato area, the oldest district of Japan,
in Honor of Mircea Eliade (Chicago, 1969); he also co-edited
with the children of Buddhist and Shinto clerics as my play-
a number of volumes in Japanese, and some of his articles
mates, made me realize the importance of religion early in
and books were translated into Japanese.
life” (Kitagawa, 1987, p. ix). In contrast to some Japanese
Kitagawa’s own contribution to the field is found in articles such
scholars who began with the study of religion and ended up
as “The History of Religions in America,” in The History of
in the pursuit of theology, Kitagawa notes: “I found that my
Religions: Essays in Methodology, ed. Mircea Eliade and Joseph
own academic pilgrimage moved in the opposite direction:
M. Kitagawa (Chicago, 1959), reprinted in The History of Re-
from theology to the philosophy of religion to Religion-
ligions: Understanding Human Experience (Atlanta, 1987), a
swissenschaft (known as the history of religions, or
collection of his key articles on the history of religions and
Shu¯kyo¯-gaku)” (1987, p. ix). Grounded in his own experi-
Religionswissenschaft. Kitagawa is best known for his work in
ence as a Japanese Christian, Kitagawa reached out to Asians
Japanese religion. His doctoral dissertation, “Kobo-daishi
to broaden their perspective of Christianity, at the same time
and Shingon Buddhism” (Chicago, 1951), although not
chiding Westerners for their Eurocentric conception of
published, has been used widely (in photoduplicated copies
Christianity. Having received his earliest academic training
in university libraries). His major work is Religion in Japanese
(New York, 1966), an overview still utilized as a text-
in Japan, and then undergoing a harsh introduction to
book; his key articles are collected in On Understanding Japa-
American democracy through internment, he completed his
nese Religion (Princeton, N.J., 1987). While continuing his
graduate work in an American setting under the European
scholarly work, he remained in touch with his concern for
influence of Wach, and later refined his understanding of re-
social issues, editing The American Refugee Policy: Ethical and
ligion in collaboration with his colleague Eliade; he parlayed
Religious Reflections (Minneapolis, 1984). At the end of his
Wach’s notion of Verstehen (understanding) and Religion-
career Kitagawa turned to broader themes: the theological
swissenschaft into the more recent category of history of reli-
work The Christian Tradition: Beyond its European Captivity
gions. Like Eliade, Kitagawa deplored the fact that we do not
(Philadelphia, 1992), and the synthetic works The Quest for
have a more precise term than religion, but insisted that “the
Human Unity: A Religious History (Minneapolis, 1990) and
point of departure of Religionswissenschaft is the historically
Spiritual Liberation and Human Freedom in Contemporary
(New York, 1990). He wrote a brief autobiographical
given religions” (Eliade and Kitagawa, 1959, p. 21). He ac-
account, “Vocation and Maturity” (pp. 18–20), in Criterion:
knowledged in a critique of the history of religions approach
A Publication of the University of Chicago Divinity School 18,
that “there are no purely religious phenomena,” but agreed
no. 2 (1979). Appreciations of Kitagawa’s contributions as
with Eliade that “the meaning of a religious phenomenon
a scholar, educator, and administrator are included in Crite-
can be understood only if it is studied as something reli-
rion 24, no. 3 (1985), which includes Robert Wood Lynn,
gious,” viewing it religio-scientifically or religio-historically
“The Harper Legacy: An Appreciation of Joseph M.
(Eliade and Kitagawa, 1959, p. 21).
Kitagawa”(pp. 4–8); Martin E. Marty, “Joseph M. Kitagawa,
the Harper Tradition, and this Divinity School” (pp. 9–13);
SEE ALSO Japanese Religions, overview article.
and D. Gale Johnson, “Comments on Joseph Kitagawa’s
Day” (pp. 14–16). A memorial tribute in Criterion 32, no.
1 (1993) is Nancy Auer Falk and H. Byron Earhart, “Perfect
in Dress and Address: Remembering Joseph Mitsuo Kita-
From early in his career Kitagawa wrote on a wide range of issues
gawa, 1915–1992” (pp. 10–16).
for a general audience in various publications, voicing his
concerns about social and political issues, such as the war-
time internment of Japanese-Americans and the treatment of
refugees, and speaking to theological issues (especially the sit-
uation of Asian churches and the character of missionary ac-
tivity). The best source for such materials is in the Festschrift
edited by Frank E. Reynolds and Theodore M. Ludwig,
Klimkeit (1939–1999) was born in Ranchi, Bihar, in India,
Transitions and Transformations in the History of Religions: Es-
the son of a German Lutheran missionary. Klimkeit spent
says in Honor of Joseph M. Kitagawa (Leiden, 1980); the bibli-
his youth in different parts of the subcontinent, and from
ography, pp. 3–9, includes a comprehensive listing of both
early on he became acquainted with such languages as En-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

glish, Hindi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, and Tamil. In 1955 Klimkeit
Jens Peter Laut, and Helmut Eimer), Klimkeit was much
moved to Germany, where he passed his school-leaving ex-
concerned with questions of religious iconography.
amination in 1958. Afterwards he took up studies of Protes-
While he added a sense of history and a rich variety of
tant theology, first at a small ecclesiastical academy, then,
source materials to the abstract phenomenologist sketches of
from 1959 onwards, at the university of Tübingen. There,
his teacher and predecessor Mensching, Klimkeit would al-
besides theology, he also studied mathematics and, more im-
ways remain heavily influenced by the phenomenology of re-
portantly, philosophy with the hermeneutician Otto Frie-
ligion and hermeneutics as represented by Bollnow and Jo-
drich Bollnow and Indology with Helmuth von Glasenapp,
achim Wach (see Klimkeit, 1972). In his later work,
who both would have a lasting impact on him. In 1961
Klimkeit advocated the idea of a “problem-centered” (and
Klimkeit went to study at Bonn under the phenomenologist
humanist) phenomenology of religion (see Klimkeit, 1986,
Gustav Mensching, whose successor he became in 1972.
1999), and he intended a comparative study of the “answers”
Klimkeit took his Ph.D. with a thesis on Ludwig Feuer-
that different religions give (or have given) to a number of
bach’s ideas about miracles from the point of view of the phe-
fundamental problems of humankind, such as good and evil,
nomenology of religion (Das Wunderverständnis Ludwig
human autonomy, and divine heteronomy (see Gantke, who
Feuerbachs in religionsphänomenologischer Sicht, 1964). After-
continued this approach in his own work).
wards he spent one year at the Center for the Study of World
As a teacher and supervisor, Klimkeit had a remarkably
Religions at Harvard University, where Wilfred Cantwell
open and kind attitude. Rather than founding a school in the
Smith encouraged him to add a historic-philological ap-
strict sense, he actively encouraged his students to pursue
proach to the sort of phenomenology represented by Men-
their own paths, even if they were leading into territories be-
sching. Klimkeit then began studying Sanskrit, and after he
yond Klimkeit’s frame of mind. During his time there, the
returned to Bonn he wrote his Habilitation on antireligious
tiny Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar at Bonn University
movements in Southern India (Anti-religiöse Bewegungen im
experienced an unprecedented increase in enrollment. Klim-
modernen Südindien: Eine religionssoziologische Untersuchung
keit was the editor of several books and series (most impor-
zur Säkularisierungsfrage, 1971). The work was intended as
tantly the series Studies in Oriental Religions), and he served
a contribution to the issue of secularization from the point
as coeditor of the Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgesch-
of view of the sociology of religion. His interest in recent de-
ichte, the series Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, and
velopments in Indian religious history would culminate in
the Theologische Realenzyklopädie. In addition, Klimkeit
Der politische Hinduismus: Indische Denker zwischen religiöser
served on the boards of several academic societies. Even be-
Reform und politischem Erwachen (1981), which was pub-
fore the fall of the Iron Curtain, he had established impor-
lished before “political Hinduism” had become a standard
tant and lasting contacts with colleagues in many countries
agenda. Klimkeit’s knowledge of Sanskrit left fruitful traces
ranging from the former German Democratic Republic to
in his book on the Buddha (1990), in which he emphasized
China, which would greatly facilitate the progress of research
the importance of the Northern Buddhist Sanskrit texts, as
on the Silk Road and Manichaeaism.
against the later Pali books.
During the 1970s, by learning several other languages
(Uighur, Middle Iranian, Sogdian, Tibetan, and Mongolian)
For a complete bibliography of Klimkeit’s writings (360 items)
Klimkeit laid the groundwork for his later studies on Mani-
and a survey of the courses and classes taught by him in
Bonn, as well as the thirty Ph.D. theses and four Habilitation
chaeism (e.g., Klimkeit, 1982, 1989, 1993) and the Silk
supervised by him, plus obituaries, see Ulrich Vollmer,
Road (e.g., Klimkeit 1986, 1988). These were mainly pub-
“Hans-Joachim Klimkeit—Werk, Wirken, Würdigung” in
lished during the 1980s, the peak period of his scholarly out-
Religionsbegegnung und Kulturaustausch in Asien: Studien zum
put, while the 1990s were increasingly overshadowed by the
Gedenken an Hans-Joachim Klimkeit, edited by Wolfgang
illness that ended in his tragic death in 1999.
Gantke, Karl Hoheisel, and Wassilios Klein, pp. 11–48
(Wiesbaden, Germany, 2002). For Wolfgang Gantke’s per-
Both in his teaching and his research, Klimkeit worked
sonal recollections plus an evaluation of Klimkeit’s approach
on a remarkable number of different religions, most impor-
to the phenomenology of religion, see his essay in this vol-
tantly Hinduism, Buddhism, (Nestorian) Christianity (e.g.,
ume, “Mut zur Offenheit: Erinnerung an Hans-Joachim
Gillman and Klimkeit, 1999), Zoroastrianism, and in partic-
Klimkeit und einige seiner zentralen Überlegungen zur reli-
ular Manichaeism (Klimkeit was instrumental in the revival
gionswissenschaftlichen Methodendiskussion,” pp. 72–80.
of Manichaean studies). Apart from writing and coauthoring
See also:
monographs and papers on single religions, Klimkeit devot-
Gillman, Ian, and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. Christians in Asia Be-
ed several important studies to different forms of encounter
fore 1500. Richmond, UK, 1999. Klimkeit contributed the
and interaction between religions and cultures, in particular
chapters on Christians in Central Asia and Christians in
(but not exclusively) on the Silk Road. Apart from his work
with textual sources (culminating in his collection of
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. “Das Prinzip des Verstehens bei Jo-
Manichaean texts and a series devoted to the Hami manu-
achim Wach.” Numen 19 (1972): 216–228. A comprehen-
script of the Maitrisimit, undertaken with Geng Shimin,
sive reconstruction of Wach’s hermeneutic system.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Der politische Hinduismus: Indische De-
tematizer of the Nyingma tradition of the Great Perfection
nker zwischen religiöser Reform und politischem Erwachen.
(Rdzogs chen [Dzogchen]), which he expounded in a series
Wiesbaden, Germany, 1981. A survey of major thinkers of
of brilliant texts that balanced architectonic structure, apho-
political Hinduism and an investigation of some of its “ar-
ristic poetry, and philosophical nuance and precision. While
chetypal,” basic structures with their respective religious
his writings span the earliest phases of Great Perfection litera-
ture, he above all else focused on the eleventh- and twelfth-
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Manichaean Art and Calligraphy. Lei-
century Seminal Heart (Snying thig [Nyingthink]) revela-
den, 1982. The first ever general study of Manichaean ico-
tions and their highly distinctive reinterpretation of the
Great Perfection. Longchenpa articulated a deeply systematic
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Die Begegnung von Christentum, Gnosis
approach to Seminal Heart to create one of the most power-
und Buddhismus an der Seidenstrasse. Opladen, Germany,
ful statements of philosophical Vajraya¯na. His writings sys-
tematize doctrines and contemplative practices into a struc-
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Die Seidenstrasse: Handelsweg und Kul-
tured and integrated whole, while simultaneously
turbrücke zwischen Morgen- und Abendland. Köln, Germany,
definitively defining key terminology with innovative nu-
1988; 2d ed. 1990. A richly illustrated cultural history and
ance. In large part due to the influence of his corpus, the
panorama of the Silk Road (mostly focusing on pre-Islamic
Seminal Heart came to be the dominant tradition of the
times) comprising history of research, geography, cultural
Great Perfection right into the present.
centers, people, and religions.
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. “Der leidendende Gerechte in der Reli-
Secondly, Longchenpa was one of the few premodern
gionsgeschichte: Ein Beitrag zur problemorientierten ‘Reli-
Nyingma authors to incorporate broad learning in exoteric
gionsphänomenologie.’” In Religionswissenschaft: Eine Ein-
Buddhist literature directly into his writings. He is famed for
führung, edited by Hartmut Zinser, pp. 164–184. Berlin,
his integration of the insights, terminology, and practice of
1988. A global comparison of the motif of the suffering righ-
the Great Perfection into the broader framework of an ency-
teous meant as an example of his “problem-centered” phe-
clopedic overview of the entire Buddhist tradition. While
nomenology of religion.
many other Nyingma authors appear to have had solid train-
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Hymnen und Gebete der Religion des
ing in the exoteric literature, relatively few wrote at any great
Lichts: Iranische und türkische liturgische Texte der Manichäer
length on the subject, preferring to work in esoteric veins and
Zentralasiens. Opladen, 1989. A collection of Manichaean
narrative materials. Longchenpa is thus often discussed with-
(ritual) texts in several Iranian languages and Old Turkish
in the Nyingma tradition in connection with two other such
with extensive introductions. A revised and augmented En-
prominent authors, Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo (eleventh cen-
glish translation was published under the misleading title
tury) and Mipham (1846–1912). These three stand out
Gnosis on the Silk Road: Gnostic Texts from Central Asia. San
within the tradition for their great learning in exoteric Bud-
Francisco, 1993.
dhist scholasticism, and the expression of that learning in ex-
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. Der Buddha: Leben und Lehre. Stuttgart,
tensive writings.
1990. A study of the figure of the Buddha intended for a
broader audience and illustrative of Klimkeit’s approach in
Thirdly, the Nyingma tradition until the fourteenth
that he seeks to combine historic-philological methods and
century was dominated by the practice of revelations, where-
hermeneutic principles of understanding.
by important new bodies of literature were produced as
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim. “Religionswissenschaft.” In Theologische
“treasures” (gter ma, terma) attributed to the distant past of
Realenzyklopädie, edited by Gerhard Müller, Vol. 29,
Tibet’s imperial greatness (seventh to ninth centuries) rather
pp. 61–67. Berlin and New York, 1998. Expresses Klimkeit’s
than to the authorial hand of the present. Longchenpa’s writ-
ideas about the history of religions.
ings at times utilized the rhetoric of revelation, but in general
Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim, Shimin Geng, Helmut Eimer, and Jens
were clearly presented as his own personal compositions.
Peter Laut. Das Zusammentreffen mit Maitreya: Die ersten
While certainly such personal compositions had appeared
fünf Kapitel der Hami-Version der Maitrisimit. 2 vols. Wies-
elsewhere in Nyingma circles from the eleventh to thirteenth
baden, Germany, 1988.
centuries, the emergence of such a huge corpus of major reli-
gious writings attributed to a contemporary figure was a wa-
tershed in the history of the Nyingma tradition.
Longchenpa’s life can be roughly divided into his first
twenty years of youth and earlier studies, his twenties during
which he received his seminal intellectual and yogic training,
CHENPA). Longchenpa (1308–1363) is perhaps the
his thirties when he emerged as a major teacher and author,
most important philosophical author in the history of the
his forties marked by political turmoil and exile even as his
Rnying ma (Nyingma) school of Tibetan Buddhism and one
literary output continued unabated, and finally his return to
of the great figures in fourteenth-century Tibet, a time of
Tibet and final years in his fifties. His studies, social experi-
larger-than-life authors and systematizations of sectarian tra-
ences, and literary writings were all deeply interwoven into
ditions. His renown stems from his huge literary corpus, and
the fabric of his life, with common motifs and images run-
three distinctive facets of it. Firstly, he is renowned as the sys-
ning through both.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

PAST LIVES AND PROPHECIES. Tibetan accounts of the life
learning during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and re-
of a saint begin at starting points that are highly Tibetan and
mained a dominant academic seat during Longchenpa’s life-
Buddhist in character: past lives and prenatal prophecies con-
time. His educational focus thus shifted during this time
cerning birth and life. Longchenpa did not arrive on the his-
from ritual and meditation to syllogism and philosophy in
torical scene as a recognized member of an established rein-
the form of works by Asan˙ga (c. 315–390), Digna¯ga (c. 480–
carnational line with a clear pedigree and institutional power,
540), Dharmak¯ırti (seventh century), and others. By all ac-
though certainly his gestation and birth are framed with
counts he excelled in his studies, and it was this seven-year
prophecies said to indicate his unusual spiritual accomplish-
stay at Sangphu that gave him the superb mastery of tradi-
ments. His most interesting and relevant reincarnational as-
tional Buddhist thought that came to be a hallmark of his
sociations, however, are with an obscure visionary from the
literary output.
late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Tsultrim Dorjé (1291–
1317), with intimate associations to the Seminal Heart.
However, Longchenpa’s decisive educational experience
Through Tsultrim Dorjé, also known as Pad ma las ’brel rtsal
was the period he spent living and practicing with his princi-
(Pema Ledreltsel), he came to be further identified as the di-
pal teacher Kuma¯ra¯ja (Kuma¯ra¯dza, Gzhon nu rgyal po,
rect rebirth of the Tibetan princess Lhacam, daughter of Khri
1266–1343) during his late twenties. Besides receiving his
srong lde’u btsan (Trisong Detsen, 742–797), and a direct
most important Great Perfection teachings from Kuma¯ra¯ja,
disciple of Padmasambhava. He was also identified eventual-
Longchenpa was also much influenced by the peripatetic way
ly as a divine emanation of Mañju´sr¯ı, the bodhisattva of wis-
of life of his followers. The biographical materials mention
dom. Such emanatory identity is common place for great
that Kuma¯ra¯ja and his small band of disciples wandered from
scholars, given Mañju´sr¯ı’s traditional function as the patron
place to place, living like virtual nomads, exposed to the ele-
bodhisattva of intellectual and monastic pursuits.
ments, living and sleeping in crude sack garments. Such a
yogic lifestyle stands in clear contrast to the institutional life
of so many Tibetan scholars based in large monasteries, pre-
YOGIS. Longchen Rabjampa was born on the tenth day of
siding over systematic institutional processes, and often
the second month of the earth-monkey year of the fifth sixty-
bound up with or even directly wielding political power.
year cycle (Saturday, March 2, 1308). He appears to have
This quasi-nomadic lifestyle is also consonant with tropes
been a member of an aristocratic family with strong spiritual
and metaphors commonly found in Great Perfection litera-
associations on both sides of his family, including a paternal
ture valorizing space, the absence of boundaries, natural free-
ancestor dating back to the imperial period and Padmasamb-
dom, simplicity, and spontaneity. Hence, this training with
hava’s original circle of disciples, namely Rgyal ba mchog
his teacher Kuma¯ra¯ja may be understood as a period during
dbyangs (Gyelwa Chokyang). It is possible that Longchen-
which these literary images became associated with vivid so-
pa’s sense of himself as possessing a certain social and spiritu-
ciological experiences connected to specific behaviors and
al heritage with corresponding entitlements may explain the
lifestyles for Longchenpa.
tensions and self-perception in his adult life discussed below.
TEACHING AND COMPOSITION. After approximately two
Longchenpa’s early education consisted of studying var-
years living and practicing with his principal guru Kuma¯ra¯ja,
ious rites, ceremonies, and “sciences” (rig gnas) such as medi-
Longchenpa is said to have been designated as his successor,
cine and astrology with his father. As a teenager, he memo-
after which he embarked on a period of intensive teaching
rized lengthy texts, and expanded his interest into the study
and meditation. Thus, during his thirties, Longchenpa
of Tantric texts from both the ancient (rnying ma) and mod-
emerged as a teacher in his own right and began to pen some
ern (gsar ma) traditions. At the age of twelve, Longchenpa
of his greatest works. Although Longchenpa’s fame as a prac-
journeyed to Bsam yas (Samyé), Tibet’s first monastery,
titioner and teacher were increasing significantly during this
where he took up the study of monastic discipline. Longc-
time, he never founded or became affiliated in any significant
henpa’s association with Samyé dates back to his paternal an-
way with a large religious institution. On the contrary, he
cestor, Gyelwa Chokyang, who was one the original monks
apparently preferred the relatively remote hermitage setting
ordained there in the eighth century. His own studies there
of his home monastery called Gang ri thod dkar (White-Skull
accompanied by his intellectual brilliance led him to be
Mountain). It was here that he composed many of his great-
known later as