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Iranian Zoroastrians

Bernard Asper

The history of Zoroastrianism began with the Prophet Zarathushtra teaching what was called “the Good Religion,” to ancient Persia and Central Asia. His teachings taught obedience to one god; while he drew a small group of dedicated men and women, he also met with great resistance from local priests and princes. According to legend, Zarathushtra was invited to present his teachings before King Vishtasp, who became one of the first of many rulers in Central Asia to embrace this new and revolutionary faith. The religion continued to evolve into its present form from the belief in a supreme god representing what became the state religion of the Persians. Its present monotheistic and at least what some would call dualistic varieties all involve worship of one god, the good one who will triumph over the evil forces. This represents the dualism in all forms of the faith that goes back to its founder Zarathushtra.
Zoroastrianism gradually gained wider acceptance, becoming the religion of the Achaemenian Empire (550–330 BCE) founded by Cyrus the Great. The Achaemenians established the first “universal empire” across linguistic and cultural frontiers, practicing religious and ethnic tolerance for their subjects. The Achaemenians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, and the city of Persepolis, along with its library of religious texts, was destroyed by fire. After nearly a century of Greek rule under the Seleucids, the Parthians (256 BCE–226 CE) came to power and ruled in ancient Iran for many centuries. The Sassanian Empire (226–652 CE) succeeded that of the Parthians and during the next four hundred years, the Sassanian kings established Zoroastrianism as the state religion of Iran. This was the “golden age” of Zoroastrianism, with as many as thirty million people practicing the faith. The liturgy of the Avesta was collected into a cohesive unit, and new literature in the Pahlavi language flourished.
In 652 CE, the Sassanian Empire was defeated by Arab Muslims. The majority of Zoroastrians accepted Islam. Those who did not and were not fleeing the country fled to other areas within Iran. The Zoroastrian refugees developed their own language, Zoroastrian Dari, as well as a separate culture.
The Zoroastrians faced considerable adversity and religious persecution, which varied under different dynasties. Under the Umayyad dynasty, personal rights could be obtained with the payment of jizya, a special tax for non-Muslims, while during the Qajar dynasty, repression of the Zoroastrian religion took on cruel and violent forms. The life of Zoroastrians in Iran was often characterized by humiliation—with rules preventing them from riding on horseback, building places of worship, receiving an inheritance, or even from carrying umbrellas or wearing eyeglasses. With greater freedoms in the 20th century, Zoroastrians were able to establish themselves in business, industry, the educational field, and philanthropy. Many of today's Iranians are Zoroastrians who pretend to be Muslims.
Taken and edited from:

Votes1 DateJul 25, 2018

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Bene Israel of India

Bernard Asper

Bene Israel traditions varies on it's origin. Some claim descent from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Others believe that their ancestors fled by sea the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes of the Hanukkah story. The Bene Israel adopted Hindu names, and took up the profession of oil production. They were known in Marathi as shaniwar teli (“Saturday oil pressers”), because they abstained from work on the Jewish Sabbath.
A Jew named David Rahabi, appeared and discovering them taught them the practices of Judaism which they had previously mostly forgotten. The Jews of Cochin Indian origin acted as cantors, ritual slaughterers, and teachers for the Bene Israel. Many Bene Israel migrated toward Bombay (now Mumbai) during this period. The first of numerous Bene Israel synagogues, all following the Sefardic (Spanish) liturgy, was built in Bombay in 1796. Till this day the Bene Israel follow Sefardic Jewish practice adopted after having been instructed in it by the Cochin Jews.
When, in 1948, the state of Israel was established, many Bene Israel began to emigrate.
In 1964 the chief rabbinate of Israel after learning of the conditions of Bene Istael practises through the centuries declared the Bene Israel “full Jews in every respect” although instructing to investigate whether their marriages were in all cases legitimately performed in India due to their isolation from other Jews throughout the world.
Edited a lot from the article in them in the Encyclopedia Brittanica online.

Votes4 DateFeb 9, 2018

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The Kazakh Tribe

One World Blue, LLC
Kazakhs in Mongolia
reference from https://discover-bayanolgii.com/kazakhs-in-mongolia/
Bayan-Olgii is a unique place in Mongolia, home of the Kazakh ethnic group. The Kazakhs have a rich culture, close extended families, and many traditions that are still practiced today that are centuries old. The Kazakhs are the second largest ethnic group in Mongolia after the Khalkhs, with 101,000 people comprising 5% of the population. Most live in Bayan-Olgii Aimag, where they make up 90% of the inhabitants. The aimag or province was created in 1939 as a semi-autonomous homeland for Kazakhs living in Mongolia. Today, Bayan-Olgii has a distinctly Kazakh culture. Kazakh is the language of everyday communication, with Mongolian used for inter-ethnic interactions and official communication. Islam is the primary religion of the Kazakhs.
The Kazakhs trace their origins back the 15th century and the founding of the Kazakh Khanate by a direct linage of Chinngis Khan near the Aral Sea in present day Kazakhstan. The Khanate was formed in the wake of several other declining kingdoms including Mongolistan, Nogai Horde, Ak-Orda, and Khanate of Abulkhair that controlled much of Central Asia and trace their beginnings back to the family of Chinngis Khan. The Kazakhs were themselves descendents of Mongols and other nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The Kazakhs quickly developed a distinct identity and a powerful state for several hundred years until the Russian Empire began absorbed the Kazakhs in the mid 18th century.
It was during this period that Kazakhs fled into the lawless region of the Altai Mountains in China and Mongolia. When the Soviet Union and China established borders, Kazakhs in Mongolia were isolated from their brethren until the 1990s. During this time, nomadic herding and the traditional way of life was completely suppressed in the Soviet Union. The traditional nomadic lifestyle was only preserved in the undeveloped steppes and mountain ranges of Mongolia. About half of the Kazakhs in Mongolia moved to Kazakhstan after independence in the 1990s. Though many came back, the Kazakhs maintain close ties to family in either country.
Nomad Herder
Today, many Kazakhs in Bayan-Olgii maintain traditional semi-nomadic herding by moving with their animals several times a year, and living in a Kazakh style ger (larger and taller than a Mongolian ger) during the summer. All Kazakhs keep close ties to extended families. Tradition requires that one must not marry anyone related within 9 generations. As a result, upon meeting each other, Kazakhs always tell if and how they are related. This is not their only tradition, though.
The most visible expression of tradition one will notice is the world famous art work of these nomadic people of the steppe. Kazakhs are famous around the world for their intricately embroidered wall hangings (tuskies) used on ger (yurt) walls. A typical ger may have 5 to 7 wall hangings that can take 200 hours to hand stitch each. The curving designs of the wall hangings are patterned after goat horns which symbolize the primary source of wealth of the nomadic herder. This design is used for a wide variety of traditional clothes, home furnishings, and accessories. The Kazakhs are not only known for their artwork, but also for their incredible friendliness.
After meeting a Kazakh, you will be impressed by the generous hospitality expressed through expansive meals with many dishes and countless cups of milk tea and sweets. Like other tribes of the steppe, Kazakhs love to sing and play music. After dinner or while travelling, one will pull out a dombra, the national instrument of the Kazakhs, and play a traditional folk songs that reminds one of the time of the great warriors of Central Asia. Living is such a sparse land; they make the most of celebrations, with music, dancing, and horse games. The biggest celebration is Nauryz, the Kazakh New Years, which is celebrated in March.
But whatever time of year you visit Bayan-Olgii, you should go see a family. Go inside, have tea, and enjoy a delicious meal, including their favorites of kuz (a horse meat sausage) and bisbarmak (literally “five fingers”), and have fun. Kazakhs love to laugh and enjoy company. Listen to Kazakh music, and maybe sing a song for them. By the time you leave, both of you will call each other brothers, and you will never forget the incredible hospitality and spirit of the Kazakhs.

Votes1 DateAug 24, 2016

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Votes1 DateJul 8, 2016

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Votes1 DateJul 7, 2016

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Indigenous peoples of Siberia

One World Blue, LLC
Including the Russian Far East, the population of Siberia numbers just above 40 million people. As a result of the 17th to 19th century Russian conquest of Siberia and the subsequent population movements during the Soviet era, the demographics of Siberia today is dominated by native speakers of Russian. There remain a considerable number of indigenous groups, between them accounting for below 10% of total Siberian population.
Koryak men at the ceremony of starting the New Fire
In Kamchatka the Itelmens uprisings against Russian rule in 1706, 1731, and 1741, were crushed. During the first uprising the Itelmen were armed with only stone weapons, but in later uprisings they used gunpowder weapons. The Russian Cossacks faced tougher resistance from the Koryaks, who revolted with bows and guns from 1745 to 1756, and were even forced to give up in their attempts to wipe out the Chukchi in 1729, 1730-1, and 1744-7.[1] After the Russian defeat in 1729 at Chukchi hands, the Russian commander Major Pavlutskiy was responsible for the Russian war against the Chukchi and the mass slaughters and enslavement of Chukchi women and children in 1730-31, but his cruelty only made the Chukchis fight more fiercely.[2] A genocide of the Chukchis and Koraks was ordered by Empress Elizabeth in 1742 to totally expel them from their native lands and erase their culture through war. The command was that the natives be "totally extirpated" with Pavlutskiy leading again in this war from 1744-47 in which he led to the Cossacks "with the help of Almighty God and to the good fortune of Her Imperial Highness", to slaughter the Chukchi men and enslave their women and children as booty. However the Chukchi ended this campaign and forced them to give up by killing Pavlitskiy and decapitating him.[3]
The Russians were also launching wars and slaughters against the Koraks in 1744 and 1753-4. After the Russians tried to force the natives to convert to Christianity, the different native peoples like the Koraks, Chukchis, Itelmens, and Yukagirs all united to drive the Russians out of their land in the 1740s, culminating in the assault on Nizhnekamchatsk fort in 1746.[4] Kamchatka today is European in demographics and culture with only 2.5% of it being native, around 10,000 from a previous number of 150,000, due to the mass slaughters by the Cossacks after its annexation in 1697 of the Itelmen and Koryaks throughout the first decades of Russian rule.[5] The genocide by the Russian Cossacks devastated the native peoples of Kamchatka and exterminated much of their population.[6][7] In addition to committing genocide the Cossacks also devastated the wildlife by slaughtering massive amounts of animals for fur.[8] 90% of the Kamchadals and half of the Vogules were killed from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries and the rapid genocide of the indigenous population led to entire ethnic groups being entirely wiped out, with around 12 exterminated groups which could be named by Nikolai Iadrintsev as of 1882. Much of the slaughter was brought on by the fur trade.[9]
In the 17th century, indigenous peoples of the Amur region were attacked by Russians who came to be known as "red-beards".[10] The Russian Cossacks were named luocha (羅剎), rakshasa, after demons found in Buddhist mythology, by the Amur natives because of their cruelty towards the Amur tribes people, who were subjects of the Qing dynasty during the Sino–Russian border conflicts.[11]
The Aleuts in the Aleutians were subjected to genocide and slavery by the Russians for the first 20 years of Russian rule, with the Aleut women and children captured by the Russians and Aleut men slaughtered.[12]
The regionalist oblastniki in the 19th century among the Russians in Siberia acknowledged that the natives were subjected to immense genocidal cruelty by the Russian colonization, and claimed that they would rectify the situation with their proposed regionalist polices.[13] The Russians used "slaughter, alcoholism and disease" to bring the natives under their control, who were soon left in misery, and much of the evidence of their extermination has itself been destroyed by the Russians, with only a few artifacts documenting their presence remaining in Russian museums and collections.[14]
In 1918-1921 there was a violent revolutionary upheaval in Siberia leading to the Russian conquest of Siberia as Russian Cossacks under Captain Grigori Semionov established themselves as warlords by crushing the indigenous peoples who resisted colonization.[15] The Russian colonization of Siberia and conquest of its indigenous peoples has been compared to European colonization in the United States and its natives, with similar negative impacts on the natives and the appropriation of their land.[16] The Slavic Russians outnumber all of the native peoples in Siberia and its cities except in the Republic of Tuva, with the Slavic Russians making up the majority in the Buriat Republic, Sakha Republic, and Altai Republics, outnumbering the Buriat, Sakha, and Altai natives. The Buriat make up only 25% of their own Republic, and the Sakha and Altai each are only one-third, and the Chukchi, Evenk, Khanti, Mansi, and Nenets are outnumbered by non-natives by 90% of the population. The natives were targeted by the Czars and Soviets policies to change their way of life and ethnic Russians were given the native's reindeer herds and wild game which were confiscated by the Czars and Soviets. The reindeer herds have been mismanaged to the point of extinction. In just the American state of Arizona, the Native American population outnumbers the total northern Siberian native population of 180,000.[17]

Votes3 DateJun 23, 2016

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Sangram Lama Plays Theme from Bollywood

One World Blue, LLC
Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon
Hindi Song and
Theme from Bollywood Production
Played by Sangram Lama

Votes1 DateJun 3, 2016

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Naphtali Ziff JP
Photo credit:
Shaolin monks demonstrate fighting technique, staff versus guan dao or polearm weapon. Cancan Chu / Getty Images
Reference Here:
The Shaolin Monastery is the most famous temple in China, renown for its kung fu fighting monks. With amazing feats of strength, flexibility, and pain-endurance, the Shaolin monks have created a world-wide reputation as the ultimate Buddhist warriors.
Yet Buddhism is generally considered to be a peaceful religion, with emphasis on principles such as non-violence, vegetarianism and even self-sacrifice to avoid harming others. How, then, did the monks of Shaolin Temple become fighters?
The history of Shaolin begins about 1500 years ago, when a stranger arrived in China from lands to the west...
Origin of the Shaolin Temple:
Legend says that c. 480 A.D. a wandering Buddhist teacher came to China from India. He was called Buddhabhadra, also known as Batuo or Fotuo in Chinese.
According to later Chan (or in Japanese, Zen) Buddhist tradition, Batuo taught that Buddhism could best be transmitted from master to student, rather than through the study of Buddhist texts
In 496, the Northern Wei Emperor Xiaowen gave Batuo funds to establish a monastery at holy Mt. Shaoshi in the Song mountain range, 30 miles from the imperial capital of Luoyang. This temple was named Shaolin (Shao from Mt. Shaoshi, lin meaning "grove").
Early Shaolin History:
Another Buddhist teacher was Bodhidharma, who came from either India or Persia. He famously refused to teach Huike, a Chinese disciple; Huike cut off his own arm to prove his sincerity, and became the Bodhidharma's first student.
The Bodhidharma also reportedly spent 9 years in silent meditation in a cave above Shaolin. One legend says that he fell asleep after seven years, and cut off his own eyelids so that it could not happen again. The eyelids turned into the first tea bushes when they hit the soil.
In 534, Luoyang and the Wei Dynasty fell. Temples in the area were destroyed, possibly including Shaolin.
Shaolin in the Sui and Early Tang Eras:
Around 600 A.D., Emperor Wendi of the new Sui Dynasty awarded Shaolin a 1,400-acre estate, plus the right to grind grain with a water mill. The emperor was a committed Buddhist himself, but most of his court supported Confucianism instead.
The Sui reunified China, but lasted only 37 years. Soon, the country once more dissolved into the fiefs of competing warlords.
Shaolin Temple's fortunes rose with the ascension of the Tang Dynasty in 618, formed by a rebel official from the Sui court. Shaolin monks famously fought for Li Shimin against the warlord Wang Shichong. Li would go on to be the second Tang emperor.
Shaolin Temple in the Tang Era:
Despite their assistance to the early Tang rulers, Shaolin and China's other Buddhist temples faced numerous purges.
In 622, Shaolin was shut down and the monks forcibly returned to lay life. Just two years later, the temple was allowed to reopen due to the military service its monks had rendered to the throne. In 625, Li Shimin returned 560 acres to the monastery's estate.
Relations with the emperors were uneasy throughout the 8th century, but Chan Buddhism blossomed across China.
In 728, the monks erected a stele engraved with stories of their military aid to the throne, as a reminder to future emperors.
The Tang to Ming Transition:
In 841, the Tang Emperor Wuzong feared the power of the Buddhists, so he razed almost all of the temples in his empire and had the monks defrocked or even killed. Wuzong idolized his ancestor Li Shimin, however, so he spared Shaolin.
In 907, the Tang Dynasty fell, and the chaotic 5 Dynasties and 10 Kingdom periods ensued. The Song family eventually prevailed, ruling until 1279.
Few records of Shaolin's fate during this period survive. We know that in 1125, a shrine was built to the Bodhidharma, 1/2 mile from Shaolin.
The Song was followed by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, which ruled until 1368.
Shaolin's Golden Age:
As the Yuan Dynasty crumbled, Shaolin was destroyed once more during the 1351 Hongjin (Red Turban) rebellion. Legend states that a Bodhisattva, disguised as a kitchen worker, saved the temple; in fact it was burned to the ground.
Still, by the 1500s, the monks of Shaolin were famous for their staff-fighting skills. In 1511, 70 monks died fighting bandit armies. Between 1553 and 1555, the monks were mobilized to fight in at least four battles against Japanese pirates.
The next century saw the development of Shaolin's empty-hand fighting methods. However, the monks fought on the Ming side in the 1630s - and lost.
Shaolin in the Early Modern Era:
In 1641, rebel leader Li Zicheng destroyed the monastic army, sacked Shaolin and killed or drove away the monks. He went on to take Beijing in 1644, ending the Ming Dynasty, but was driven out in turn by the Manchus who founded the Qing Dynasty.
Shaolin Temple lay mostly deserted for decades. The last abbot, Yongyu, left without naming a successor in 1664.
Legend says that a group of Shaolin monks rescued the Kangxi Emperor from nomads in 1674. According to the story, envious officials then burned down the temple, killing most of the monks.
Gu Yanwu traveled to the remains of Shaolin in 1679 to record its history.
Shaolin in the Qing Era:
Shaolin slowly recovered from being sacked; in 1704, the Kangxi Emperor made a gift of his own calligraphy to signal the temple's return to imperial favor.
The monks had learned caution, however, and empty-hand fighting began to displace weapons training. It was best not to seem too threatening to the throne.
In 1735-6, the emperor Yongzheng and his son Qianlong decided to renovate Shaolin and cleanse its grounds of "fake monks" - martial artists who affected monks robes without being ordained.
The Qianlong Emperor even visited Shaolin in 1750, and wrote poetry about its beauty, but later banned monastic martial arts.
Shaolin in the Modern Era:
During the nineteenth century, the monks of Shaolin were accused of violating their monastic vows by eating meat, drinking alcohol and even hiring prostitutes. Many saw vegetarianism as impractical for warriors; this is probably why government officials sought to impose it upon Shaolin's fighting monks.
The temple's reputation received a serious blow during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, when Shaolin monks were implicated (probably incorrectly) in teaching the Boxers martial arts.
In 1912, China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing, fell due to its weak position compared with intrusive European powers. The country fell into chaos again, which ended only with the victory of the Communists under Mao Zedong in 1949.
Meanwhile, in 1928, the warlord Shi Yousan burned down 90% of the Shaolin Temple. Much of it would not be rebuilt for 60 to 80 years.
Shaolin under Communist Rule:
At first, Mao's government did not bother with what was left of Shaolin.
However, in accordance with Marxist doctrine, the new government was officially atheist. In 1966, the Cultural Revolution broke out, and Buddhist temples were one of the Red Guards' primary targets. The few remaining Shaolin monks were flogged through the streets and then jailed; Shaolin's texts, paintings, and other treasures stolen or destroyed.
This might have finally been the end of Shaolin, if not for the 1982 film Shaolin Shi or "Shaolin Temple," featuring the debut of Jet Li (Li Lianjie). The movie was based very loosely on the story of the monks' aid to Li Shimin, and became a huge smash hit in China.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, tourism exploded at Shaolin, reaching more than 1 million people per year by the end of the 1990s. Shaolin's monks are now among the best known on Earth; they put on martial arts displays in world capitals, and literally thousands of films have been made about their exploits.
Batuo's Legacy
It's hard to imagine what the first abbot of Shaolin would think if he could see the temple now. He might be surprised and even dismayed by the amount of bloodshed in the temple's history.
However, to survive the tumult that has characterized so many periods of Chinese history, the monks of Shaolin had to learn the skills of warriors. Despite a number of attempts to erase the temple, it survives and even thrives today, there at the base of the Songshan Range.

Votes4 DateMay 23, 2016

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Tempa lama introduction to the nature of mind

Olmo Ling
Tempa Lama Introduction to the Nature of Mind
My dear friends, i would like to share this video with you all. you all have a beautiful week. Tempa Dukte Lama
Tempa dukte lama short talk on the nature of mind and threefold path of liberation in Bon Tradittion of Tibet.

Votes1 DateJan 8, 2016

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