Tag Archives: Iran

Hinduism, Iranic Spirituality & Some Historical Contextualizations

The below post is originally from a politicsforum.org post that I made earlier today, and it contained some interesting information that I had to track down concerning the nature of pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religion. Overall, I think it was one of the more interesting things I’ve really thought about and while I am not sure of the veracity of all of it, I open it up to discussion.

If anything seems funny in the wording, remember it was originally in reply to other people; I haven’t bothered to take away this quality from it and present it in its original format to you.

Enjoy:

Hinduism & Buddhism are both Salvific faiths just as Islam & Christianity are. Buddhism has all manner of texts (especially Mahayana Buddhism) that emphasize the role of the teacher as ultimate. To be a Dharma teacher is quite an important and great thing in Buddhism. Many sutras focus on the idea of spreading the teachings of the Buddha as an important and necessary path for the Buddhist monk, and there are examples of sutras condemning monks who spent their entire lives looking inward as opposed to spreading the message.

Hinduism was transmitted to Indonesia for a long period of time — perhaps with the very goal of providing a method of attaining salvation to the masses. I can’t really comment further on that… But I would guess the lack of salvific outreach to others has to do with the fact that India was already a massive, divided place and expanding beyond Hindustan isn’t exactly an easy task. Not to mention, it is not as if the Hindustanis had the infrastructure or means to really make an easy going of a sustained mission abroad… though apparently to some degree this did happen in Indonesia.

Perhaps it is also worth noting, as FRS did, that Hinduism is a great patchwork of many different beliefs there; consider the Zoroastrians of the Iranic world. Before Zoroastrianism the Iranic religion is incredibly similar to Hinduism, and while tere are some different gods there are basically such striking similarities, that the Rg Veda is considered to provide us information with pre-Zoroastrian Vedic-Aryan deva worship. You can read more here.

So, basically, until Islam took out Zoroastrianism, we know that the most accessible lands surrounding India were essentially Buddhist (Afghanistan, parts of northeast Iran), or they were Zoroastrian (the rest of Iran, much of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc.). Zoroastrian can be regarded on some level as a reformed, monotheized version of the regionalized Hindu-esque religion that had existed there…

… And gods know (appreciate the subtlety) that there was probably significant variation in the daily language, names and worship of the gods in Bihar and the gods in Tamil Nadu, and the gods in East Bengal and the gods in Punjab.

We might be running into a situation where Hinduism cannot spread to these lands beyond the Hindu Kush because it was more or less already there. Albeit, in a different and reformed version (though who is to say that there was not enclaves and villages still practicing a faith more similar to that of the pre-Zoroastrianism?).

In some sense, could we not argue that Hinduism had nowhere to expand from India, because it already had the Persian & Afghan empires?

(And we all know that it is Islam that supplants Zoroastrianism).

How does this dial into it?

Perhaps something like:
– Hinduism was salvific and spreading, as it did to Indonesia.
– Hinduism had no need to ‘spread’ to Persia and Iranic lands because it was more or less already there. It was then just reformed drastically right around the same time that Buddhism was formed.
– Buddhism & Jainism cause rifts within Hindustan and spread far and wide; the success of Buddhism in spreading abroad to some degree functions as a transmission as it is of Hindu culture, and perhaps even hints at the impotence of Hinduism to be of importance within Indian society. It is suggested by Gombrich in his book What The Buddha Thought that Buddhism was a religion primarily of the merchant / trader class, as it stands, and thus makes sense that while the Hinduism of the Brahmins stays put, the Buddhism of the Vaishyas spreads further & furhter.
– As time passes the Zoroastrians & Buddhists are defeated by the Muslims. Hinduism now has no options to spread and rather will be fully prepared to reel back in the face of Islam.
– Hinduism is then eventually enclosed by Islam to the West, and then there’s the far more Buddhist Bengali lands that eventually become Islamic; the Muslims then even spread their messages to Malaysia & Indonesia via Indian trade routes and usurp the old lands where Hinduism spread…

So after a 1,000 years they grow accustomed to constant inward looking.

It’s easy to become extremely introverted when surrounded by enemies… Ask the Koreans, ask the Shi’ites, ask the Druze, etc.

Iran: Moralizing & Combating Social Ills Through Film

One of the major issues that we face when looking towards Iran is our inability to view Iran, or seemingly any Muslim nation, as having meaningful social progress and good society. So hard has the unsubstantiated right wing worked to portray Islam as universally evil and ironically the anti-religious undertones of the Left have sided with this idea and attempted to increase the anti-religious (also anti-traditionalist) sentiment.

This has only led to extremely juvenile and inaccurate views of Islam as a whole and the ME in specific, and nowhere is it more inaccurate than when it comes to the Republic of Iran.

In Iran, Islamic law is followed and there are guidelines for behavior that are set into law concerning the appearance of men and women. Likewise, there are allowances of some things such as polygamy and marrying off daughters at young ages, as well as the rather unique phenomena of temporary marriages used for prostitution. Iran has hitherto had issues with the treatment of women (just as all parts of the world has had since the dawn of time), and being right next to the world’s largest opium supplier, Afghanistan, and sharing similar climate, it is a nation that struggles with drug addiction.

Being a country that is still developing, Iran does not have unlimited resources to throw at these issues. It also is dealing with problems that cannot be solved with money: problems that concern specifically the attitudes of the people towards one another.

So what the Islamic Republic of Iran has been doing is commissioning films that focus on improving the moral disposition of the people and modernizing many of the attitudes towards marriage and women. It is funny to think that a nation where polygamy is legal is also one that is campaigning against polygamy, more or less.

They have released films covering every topic from drug addiction to blackmail to thievery to child abuse.

There is a famous story of how for a very long time no Iranians wanted to admit they had drug addicts in their family, but after releasing a film which showed the drug addict in a sympathetic and non-condemning fashion, almost immediately the number of people voluntarily enrolling themselves and others into drug rehabilitation centers increased dramatically. The film was financed by the Iran Drug Control Headquarters. (I will edit in the name of this film when my girlfriend is able to remember it / track it down for me). They are even currently broadcasting a reality TV series concerning this (Tehran Times).

Not to mention, there is the very famous film HISS, Dokhtarha Faryad Nemizanand (Hush, girl’s don’t scream) which tackles the issue of child sex abuse in Iran and how there has been an aura of silence around it that has enabled the problem to continue to spread.

Hush, Girls Don’t Scream (poster)

 

The movement to moralize the society has had a large, positive impact and it only increases year by year.

Of course, this is a side of Iran and of Islam that the Left & the Right both of the West do not want you to see. They would prefer you to see them as a society incapable of helping themselves or with permanently backwards values.

Nothing is further from the truth.