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Religion as Subject
When reading I found it quite interesting the text of Bentley/Ziegler didn’t go into more depth about religion as a way for the wealthy to control people. It seems as though only wealthy men somehow were anointed by the gods/god and therefore were typically the only ones with a voice over an entire people. They used religion as a way to instill fear and punish. If you didn’t believe your crops would suffer and more than likely you would die. If you did believe, and happened to be a royal servant, you would be put to death in order to continue service to your king.
“For several thousand years, when Sudanic peoples buried their deceased kings, they also routinely executed a group of royal servants and entombed them along with their king so that they could continue to meet their master’s needs in another life” (ch3 pg 53)
“As in the earlier Sudanic states, royal servants in these Nile kingdoms routinely accompanied deceased rulers to their graves.” (ch3 pg 54)
Religion in Egyptian society was closely related to agriculture and rain. In India however, the primary god Indra was linked more to war and drinking. In India the routine slaughter of cattle, horses, sheep, and goats was said to appease the god in hopes that they would win battles, have large families, and long lives. Centuries later the Indian tradition moved from the ritualistic slaughter of animals to the more philosophical Upandishads. It became more about being a good person than satisfying one particular god.
“Now as a man is like this or like that, according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be: a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad.” (ch4 pg 85)
Basically, India changed the game of religion. It wasn’t about how much you had anymore, it was about how much you gave. The teachers of the Brahman were extreme in denying themselves worldly pleasures and physical comfort in order to return to the world in a better caste…which goes back to wealth.
Wealth was the center of religion. Pray to the gods and get good crops. Good crops will bring you wealth. Be a good person in this life and you can come back wealthy in the next.