We can say that religion is also a mother of science. There is only a thing, which guides and controls the science that is a religion or an ethics. A Culture is a human mind, which influence both science and religion. Culture can protect a religion and religion is a protector of culture. Now, science is being a challenger for religion. If a religion is not scientific and it just follows unscientific traditional norms and values, then the existence of such religion remain no longer. For this, the religion should go by transforming its ideas as the changing scenario of the science and technology. However, it should not lose its main philosophy. It is the religion or religiosity of religion. This article discusses on these subject matters in general understanding for the context of Kirat (Limbu, Khambu, Yamphu, Lohorung, Yakkha, Sunuwar and Dhimal, etc.) religion and culture.
We know very well that the science and technology have made this world very close, quick and narrow. In addition, the so-called developed countries are incorporating their culture through various multinational companies by using the benefit of globalization. We should also be included in this circle eventually. For this, we need to develop our culture and religion very soon. Moreover, we should enter into this globalize world by being equipped with our own cultural and religious products or materials.
There is a popular saying that "Men will quarrel for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but- live for it" (Charles Caleb Colton). Therefore, man, the social animal, is also a religious or spiritual being. Religion is a major concern of man. It is one of the earliest and deepest interests of human beings. Religion is universal, permanent, pervasive and perennial interests of man. Man not only, has biological, economic and social needs, but also, what is known as a religious need. He/She has religious quest, which makes him/her to become restless even beyond the satisfaction of his/her basic physical needs.
Religion is not a phenomenon of recent emergence. Its beginning is unknown. It is dateless. The social life of man in addition to its economic, political, philosophical, scientific and other aspects has also the religious aspect. Not only religion has been in existence from the beginning but also it has been exerting a tremendous influence upon other institutions. Religious dogmas have influenced and conditioned economic endeavors, political movements, property dealings, educational tasks, ideological fervors, scientific inventions and artistic developments. Religion, which is based on the cultural needs of men, has added new dimension to human life and human development (Rao: 2005).
Religion is set of beliefs, symbols, and practices, which are based on the idea of the sacred, and which unites believers into a socio-religious community. The sacred is contrasted with the profane because it involves feelings of fear. Sociologists have defined religion by reference to the sacred rather than to a belief in a god or gods, because it makes social comparision possible ( Marshall : 2005). Religion any set of attitudes, beliefs and practices pertaining to supernatural power whether that power rests in forces, gods, spirits, ghosts or demons (Ember: 2003).
In addition, most religions share a common aim to attempt to answer the difficult questions of life. How was the world created? What is the meaning of life? How should we live our lives on Earth? Is there life after death? Why is there suffering in the world? These are the great mysteries of existence that the different religions try to explain.
Since ancient times, people have felt the need for something “extra” in their lives. For many people, this means belief in a spiritual power or beyond the physical reality of the world. This power is often called God. Belief in this power gives special meaning to people’s lives, brings hope and comfort at difficult times, helps people to make sense of the world around them, and gives them a code, or set of rules, for how to behave and live happy and rewarding lives. For many people, their religion or faith is the most important thing in their lives.
Religion is properly a body of practices, together with a set of institutions, which have in common the aim of encouraging human morality and a way of life that is as meaningful as possible.
Origin and Development of Religion
No one knows how religion began. One suggestion is that they were early man's answer to big questions, which puzzled them. They wondered about the things and events they saw around them. They looked for explanations for rising and setting of the sun and moon. They were frightened by thunder and lightening. They wanted to know what happened to men when they died. They believed invisible gods or spirits were the powers, which made these things, happen. This type of thinking is taken as a fear theory of origin of religion in sociology and anthropology. Some other theories of origin of religion are fetishism, animism, totemism, the functional theory and the theory of the aleatory element.
In ancient times, people explained the world around them as the work of the gods. This helped them to explain how natural events happened, such as the weather, the changing seasons and the movements of the Sun, Moon and planets. They believed that the gods controlled everything in nature and in their daily lives. To keep the gods happy, people said prayers and made offerings and sacrifices. Otherwise, the gods might not send the rain and sun to make their crops grow and, without crops, they could not survive. Gradually, as people began to share and spread their religious beliefs and rituals, the idea of organized religion started to grow.
Religious Holy Places
Special places were established where men talked to the gods. Some wise men became messenger of the gods, and looked after the holy places. They taught people how to please the gods. People also began to believe that there was another life after death and they looked for ways to achieve this. But, now days, these holy places have not just remained as in the past. People are also establishing new and small holy places for their cultural or religious sake. Such holy places are becoming the place for meeting, gathering and celebrating special occasions organizationally. In the case of Kirat people and their Kirat religion Mangesbung Larumba Ilam, Takmibhung(Hattiwan) Lalitpur, Senchhei Faktanglung and Mukumlumg Taplingjong; Yasok, Silauti, Sehonamlang and Pheden Pa:nthar; Menchhyayem, Meyanlung, Thakchhotlung, Chijiling and Poklabang Terhathum, etc. are the holy places.
Religious Organization and Institutions
Most early men lived and traveled together in very small groups. Even though they had to struggle to survive, their lives were simple. However, as tribal societies developed and people started living together in greater numbers, their lives became more complex. It became necessary to make rules so that they could live peacefully together. Many of these rules concerned man's relationship with the gods and most men tried not to break them, because they did not want to make the god angry.
Religious organizations depend upon beliefs, knowledge, and training to exercise influence upon their members. Religious belief is the cognitive aspect of religion. It tries to explain the nature and origin of sacred things. It assumes that the sacred things do exists. It tells us what this world is like, what kinds of creatures inhabit it, and what their history and present interests are. It gives us information about the universe, creation, life and death, future of the world and such other deep but subtle matters. It also tells us how the world is related to the one we actually live in. It tells us what the nature of sacred object is and how these objects relate to the super empirical world.
Many societies have a wide range of institutions connected with religion and a body of special officials, with forms of worship, ceremonies, sacred objects, tithes, pilgrimage and the like. In modern civilized societies, religious leaders have developed elaborate theories or theologies to explain man's place in the universe. Religion is closely associated with morality and has elaborate rules of conduct.
There were not formal religious organizations in the past. In the due course of time and circumstances, such organizations have been established formally. It is a need and demand of this time and condition. If we cannot institutionalize any our religion and culture then it will not exist any longer. For this, we can see now, so many religious and cultural organizations are established. Among them all, a formal established organization mainly for Kirat Religion is Kirat Religion and Literature Upliftment Association, 1979.
Religious God and Teacher or Leaders
At the centre of many religions is the belief in a supreme power, often called God, who created the world and watches over it. God cannot be seen but is everywhere, eternal and unchanging. Living as God wishes and showing devotion to God are very important aspects of people’s religious lives.
Other religions are based on a belief in many gods or spirits, or use the example of religious teachers as a guide. Buddhists, for example, follow the Buddha’s teachings but do not worship him as God or a god. They honor him as a very special human being who showed them a way of living their lives to achieve peace and happiness.
In the case of Kirat religion, both of above mentioned belief in supreme power and a belief in many gods or spirits, or use of religious teacher as a guide is in practice. God Tagera Ningwabhu Mang and Goddess Yuma and Theba are also worshipped in Kirat religion and culture. Khambu people addressed them as Sumnima and Paruhang. In kirat religion and culture, especially reference to Limbu ethnic group, there are various religious and cultural teacher or leaders. According to Kirat Mundhum collected and written by late historian Iman Sing Chemjong; Muhigum Osngsy, Phejikum Phedangma, Sawala Samba, Yebhung Yeba, Yebhung Yema, Sapmundhum- Yepmundhum Sam/Saba, Sawanding Sida Saba and Tutu Tumyahang are the religious and teacher or leaders. Some people also named them some how different ways. However, the persons and their works are same. These eight kinds of teachers' duties are also different bur are complementary. We clearly find here a work division among them for the conduction of society and culture. All of them are specialist for their role or field. Among these eight teacher or leaders, we see that the first one Muhigum Ongsy's rloe is very vital. He/She is the main leader or teacher. He/she should teach and guide all of others for all aspects by knowing the knowledge through thinking, observation, praying and meditation. Great teacher Late Falgunanda and existing Atmananda Seing are regarded and respected as the Muhigum Osngsies. Second important role goes on to last one, he/she or they are Tutu Tumyahangs. Tututumaya Hangs are general peoples, without whom no religious ritual or cultural activities can be performed. In one way, those general people or Tutu Tumyahangs are the teachers of all who can observe and guide all of others. So, all of them should be cared and uplifted equally to protect and promote this religion and culture meaningfully.
Religious Sacred Texts
Sacred texts, or scriptures, play a central part in many religions. They help to teach people more about their faith and provide guidance about how people should live their lives according to the wishes of God or the gods. Some texts are believed to have been communicated directly by God and are treated as the direct word of God. Others tell the story of the lives of religious teachers and explain their teachings. These texts are treated with great reverence and respect. They are studied and read as part of worship, festivals and celebrations, and in private to provide guidance and support. Many of these texts were at first learned by heart and passed on by word of mouth before eventually being written down (Microsoft Encarta: 2006). The Samjik Mundhum is a religious sacred text in Kirat religion. Most of teachers or ritual performers say this Mundhum by heart/mouth without the text. In the past, it was not in written form. But, we can get it in written forms too. This texts or Mundhums are also separate according to the duty of seven teachers. Last one, Tuttu Tumya Hang generally knows all about the Mundhum to observe and help those seven teachers.
Religious Worship, Ritual and Festivals
Religious ritual is the practical side of religion. Ritual refers to symbolic actions concerning the sacred. Each religion has its own rituals, ceremonies and festivals. These help to mark important times of the year, events in a religion’s history or special times in a person’s life, such as his or her birth or death. These times are occasions for people to get together to share their faith, celebrate happy events and comfort each other in times of difficulty.
Chasok Tangnam, Walihang Tangnam, Kacfekwa Tangnam, Khibekwa Yo:kwa Tangnam, and Sisekpa Tangnams are main festivals of Kirat Religion and Culture. Despite these, Birth days of Muhigum Ongsy Falgunanda and Atmananda Seing are also celebrated auspiciously. Similarly, the birthday of Martyr Sirijanga and Historian Iman Sing Chemjong are also celebrated favorably.
Function of Religion
Religion provides religious experience, recreation and peace of mind. It promotes social solidarity, unity and identity. Religion is an institution, which conserves the value of life. It explains individual suffering and helps to integrate personality by enhancing self-importance a person. It also functions as an agent of social control.
Religion has helped to civilize and educate. It has made some men kinder, gentler, more understanding and more willing to help each other (Bates: 1979). It also gives an identity for human beings. Religious activates become the indirect ways of protecting, promoting own cultural, literary and artistic awareness upraising job. In the issue of Kirat religion, a religious person can know his/her mother language, script, Mundhum, history and culture very well rather than others who don't care for this religiously or culturally.
Matter of Secularism
In generally felt that the growth modernism and modern civilization has affected religion, its function and the religiosity of the people. Developments in the fields of science, technology and education have also adversely affected religion and traditional functions. There is a growing trend towards secularism and secularization today (Rao: 2005). However, the secularism should not mean the activities quite far from as well unrelated to the state mechanism. It means, it should be equally important for all religious norms and values, not only one. All religion and religious institutions can contribute to the nation for its well-being but the considerable case is that the nation should not treat to only one religion, culture and religious institutions or organizations.
In the most general terms, science is a body of knowledge concerning the physical nature of reality, together with a methodology that time has proven effective as the single best means of resolving questions concerning that reality.
Science cannot tell us anything about the nature of a meaningful life, or about the nature of morality. No scientist can be certain whether there is a God or not, particularly if God is conceived as being an entity with an existence outside of what we know as physical reality.
In ancient times, the world seemed full of terrors. Lightning bolts hit the Earth, strange signs appeared in the sky and diseases spread invisibly across the land. People explained the world with stories of monsters and demons and angry gods. However, there was no way of knowing whether the stories were true. They brought no knowledge that people could build on. The growth of science has helped us to understand the world much better. Not only that, it has also helped us to understand the religion and culture in better ways.
The Nature of Science
Science tries to explain the world in ways that can be tested. In place of blind belief, it uses evidence and reason. Nothing is taken for granted. The discoveries of science are often quite startling, and very different from what our common sense tells us.
Scientists study the world by making observations and doing experiments. They note the patterns that they see in the way things behave. They describe these patterns using mathematics.
To explain what they observe, scientists develop theories. These are based on what we already know, but the greatest theories have been very imaginative. We need imagination and a sense of wonder to stand back and see the world in a different way. Here, science means, we should understand both social and natural or pure sciences.
Testing and Use of Science
A theory should not just explain what we see. It should also predict what might happen or what we might see if the theory is true. Then scientists can test the predictions using carefully designed experiments or observations. Devising good experiments also needs much thought and imagination.
All of science is open to questioning and checking. Scientists question theories and test their predictions. They question how experiments were designed and how they were done. They check whether they get the same results, and decide whether they would draw the same conclusions from the results. Other scientists look at all new work by scientists before it is published. This is called peer review. Once it is published, many others can read it, check it and question it. The core of science has been so thoroughly tested and built on that we can be confident about it. Over time, science has increased our knowledge of the world enormously.
In religion too, such kind of culture should be established at least as what is there in social science for its practicality.
Scientific discoveries have been used to develop medicines, electric lights and telephones. Many good things have resulted from the use or application of scientific knowledge. But, that knowledge has also sometimes been used for the wrong purposes: to hurt and kill people, through poison gas and the terrifying power of the atom bomb. It is up to us whether we use our knowledge of the world for good or harm.
Science has changed our view of the world completely. Grass and water and sunlight, and the black depths of the night sky, are all far richer than they seem. There is much still to learn. There are hints of the existence of other universes, and other dimensions of space close to us that we cannot see and cannot reach. The world revealed by science is proving to be vast, many layered and beautiful. In one sense, we have left the angry gods and demons far behind (Microsoft Encarta: 2006). The religion and culture of this twenty-first century should also not go very far away from the experiment of social or pure sciences. If we don't do so, then this saying of Oscar Wilde will be true that "Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions."
Religion and Science
As Albert Einstein said, science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. So, Whether the discoveries of science had disproved the concept of religion and whether science alone would be sufficient to explain all the riddles and mysteries of the universe.
There are two major opinions regarding the relationship between science and religion: religion and science are mutually conflicting, and science and religion are not mutually opposing (Rao: 2005).
The relationship between religion and science takes many forms as the two fields are both broad. They employ different methods and address different questions. The scientific method relies on an objective approach to measure, calculate, and describe the natural, physical, material universe. Religious methods are usually more subjective, relying on varying notions of authority, ideas believed to have been revealed, intuition, belief in the supernatural, individual experience, or a combination of these to understand the universe.
Historically, science has had a complex relationship with religion; religious doctrines and motivations have sometimes influenced scientific development, while scientific knowledge has had effects on religious beliefs.
Science regards as “scientific” only the facts established through empirical methods. Therefore, assertions not established through observation and experiments are but theories or hypotheses.
Philosophy is regarded as “love of wisdom”. It is rational and critical inquiry into basic principles. Philosophy is often divided into four main branches: metaphysics, the investigation of ultimate reality; epistemology, the study of the origins, validity, and limits of knowledge; ethics, the study of morality and the good; and aesthetics, the study of the nature of beauty and art. The two distinctively philosophical types of inquiry have been described as analytic philosophy, the logical study of concepts, and synthetic philosophy, the arrangement of concepts into a unified system.
As used originally by the ancient Greeks, the term 'philosophy' meant the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Philosophy comprised all areas of speculative thought and included the arts, sciences, and religion. As special methods and principles were developed in the various areas of knowledge, a specific philosophical aspect separated one from another, with each concerned to answer the most basic questions about the field. This gave rise to the philosophy of art, of science, and of religion. The term “philosophy” is often popularly used to indicate a set of basic values and attitudes towards life, nature, and society- thus the phrase “philosophy of life” (Microsoft Encarta: 2006).
Philosophy also has something in common with religion. Here the common ground is an interest in questions concerning morality and the nature of a meaningful life. Since our knowledge and understanding is never perfect, philosophers, like scientists, urge us to keep the door open to the better understanding that we can often achieve as time goes by. New evidence and stronger arguments often develop as our insight deepens.
In addition to the concerns that philosophy shares with religion, philosophers are also concerned with a great many other issues. These include the nature of ideal governance, questions concerning free will and the nature of the mind, the problem of determining what it is that makes beliefs sound, questions about the nature of mathematics, and the development of aesthetic standards for the arts. In general, if the issue is at once abstract and fundamental, it probably falls within the province of philosophy.
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of religion is a critical analysis of the claims of established religions and of religious believers. The principal areas of study within the philosophy of religion include: philosophical proofs for the existence of God; philosophical theology, that is, questions arising from attempts to describe God's nature; and religious epistemology, which is concerned with the status of the belief that God exists. The philosophy of religion is one of the oldest branches of philosophy, and is intimately related to other branches of philosophical inquiry, most notably logic, metaphysics, and epistemology.
In the Western tradition, most historically important philosophers have made important contributions to the philosophy of religion. In this respect, the philosophy of religion is an inclusive subject that is indexed to neither theism, agnosticism, nor atheism, but is simply concerned with the philosophical analysis of those systems of beliefs and practices that are characterized as religion.
Three main proofs are offered for the existence of a god: the ontological argument; the cosmological argument; and the “argument from design”. These proofs are of interest not only for their rich philosophical history but also as the objects of on-going discussion among present-day philosophers of religion (Stone: 2005).
Philosophical theology is devoted to the exploration of God and of the claims made about God in the various theological traditions. Its range of topics typically includes what are known as the divine attributes. Philosophical theology is also concerned with questions and issues that centre on God's nature and God's relation to the world.
Historically speaking, the divine attributes have been defined thus: existence, simplicity, omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness. Existence has been discussed above. When Jewish, Islamic, and Christian theologians and philosophers said that God is “simple” they meant by this that certain things that are true of human beings, animals, and other living things are not true of God. In this sense, divine simplicity can be distilled into the following claims: God is unchangeable; God is not an individual; and God is not created. The claim that God is omnipotent is to say that God can do anything; namely, that God possesses every possible power and ability. Related to this is the claim that God is omniscient. This means that God can know everything that has happened, will happen, and is about to happen. God has infallible knowledge of all past, present, and future events. The last of the divine attributes is the claim that God is morally perfect and is the personification or very object of goodness itself.
Two central problems surround discussion of the divine attributes. The first concerns the coherence of individual attributes. Thus, for example, if God is omnipotent, can God create a stone that is too heavy for him to lift? The second problem concerns what is known as the “compossibility” of the divine attributes, that is, whether or not it is logically coherent to say that God possesses all the attributes at any one time. For example, if God can know everything, do everything, and is goodness personified, it is asked why he does not actively intervene in order to prevent evil from coming about in the world. This is what is known as the “problem of evil”, something that raises a host of difficult issues when trying to reconcile all the attributes of God's nature.
Another issue which concerns God's relation to the natural world is that of miracles. A traditional claim of monotheistic religions is that God can intervene in the affairs of the world. A miracle is an event that goes against the perceived or expected laws of nature, say, in turning water into wine. The philosophical questions that stem from the claim that miracles occur are many: for example, what is a miracle, what is it supposed to prove, and by what means is it to be known?
Religious epistemology is concerned with the justification of the belief that God exists. Traditionally, philosophers have argued that the belief that God exists has to be justified in a particular way because it is what is known as a non-basic belief. A basic belief, on the other hand, is a belief that is not dependent upon another belief for its truth. Thus, any belief that is self-evident, incorrigible, derived from the senses, or based on memory is classed as a basic belief. The belief that God exists appears not to fit into any of the above categories, and needs to be justified by external evidence in order for it to be judged true or false. Throughout history, many philosophers have therefore attempted to justify the belief that God exists by marshalling evidence that attempts to make the belief credible.
In more recent times, many philosophers have argued that the above approach is incorrect: that is, that the belief that God exists can be a basic belief and therefore requires no external justification. Further to this, some philosophers have argued that belief in a god can be justified on the basis of certain facts about religious experience. These two new approaches to the issues of religious epistemology have done much to stimulate recent interest in the philosophy of religion.
Another topic that receives attention as part of the philosophy of religion is the issue of religious language, which is concerned with the assessment of the meaning and coherence of theological terms. A further prominent issue in contemporary study is the subject of religious pluralism. This derives in part from an intellectual response to the widespread phenomenon of religious diversity and is concerned with assessing the claims of a particular religious tradition to embody the complete truth. Encompassing topics such as these alongside its traditional subjects, the philosophy of religion takes its place within Western philosophy not just in the domain of the history of philosophy but also in having much to offer in terms of more specialized philosophical speculation. See also Philosophy, Indian; Philosophy, Islamic; Philosophy, Western.
Philosophy of Science
Science has also its own philosophy. The philosophy of science is an investigation into the general nature of scientific practice. The questions considered in the philosophy of science include how scientific theories are developed, assessed, and changed; and whether science is capable of revealing the truth about hidden entities and processes in nature. The subject is as old and as widespread as science itself. Some scientists have taken a keen interest in the philosophy of science and a few, such as Galileo, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein, have made important contributions. Most scientists, however, have been content to leave the philosophy of science to the philosophers, preferring to get on with doing science rather than spending too much time considering in general terms how science is done. Among philosophers, the philosophy of science has always been a central subject (Lipton: 2005).
Every religion is good that teaches man to be good (Thomas Paine). However, it is not absolute. It is because; the matter of good and bad depends on human mind that is culture or knowledge of people.
Kirat religion and culture indicate or show the glimpses of the Kirat philosophy. Therefore, for this, we need to understand the culture and religion of kirat people in depth. Here, we can say this much that it is a middle way path, humanitarian, life-centric and co-existential philosophy. Kirat philosophy accepts and respects the existence of all individual or aspects as being its time and circumstances to be exist.
A religion without science will just be an illusion and a science without religion will be an allegation to human being. With the proper combination and interaction of such social and natural or pure sciences with the religion, there exist a good philosophy for not only human but also for all animals as well for this earth and nature.
If it cannot be considered, understood and developed in any religion, then unfortunately, the religion becomes a bad way of cheating or exploiting poor peoples. Then after, the popular saying of Karl Marx about religion will come to be true that "religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world and soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people." And then, faith of life will be lost. Eventually, a life without faith becomes really a dry business.
If a religious philosophy can be developed well, and then it will be a life philosophy or guidelines of all. Then, it can also be taken as the guideline of political philosophy. For this, we need proper educational knowledge, open mind, mutual understanding and hard work with organized ways. No one is perfect and complete in this world even he or she says or shows as so. Here, we also accept and face the postmodern challenge that 'all human understanding is just interpretation and no interpretation is final.' However, I see beautiful and possible possibilities on every individual for the way of Kirat religion and culture to own philosophy.
Courtesy: Muhigum Ansimang Falgunanda Souvenir 2007, Kirat Religion and Literature Upliftment Association, Nepal
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