Hi everyone. Today I will dive into the ancient history, and discuss some religions that have been forgotten by mankind in course of time. An walk into the realms of religions is interesting, for a religion defines the belief system of a society, and we all want to know what our ancestors believed in, and what were the driving forces in their life.
- Ancient Mesopotamian Religion:
The earliest form of writing known today is the Sumerian cuneiform, and her religion is considered to be the oldest in written history. From the sparse knowledge that can be gathered from ancient scriptures, we can say that the religion had a polytheistic belief system, i.e. the people believed in multiple gods. They also believed in demons created by gods. The room for worshiping the gods and goddesses were called Ziggurat. They had a pantheon of over 2000 gods and goddesses, that had to eat and drink, and often drink too much. Some of their most important deities were: An (Sky god), Enki (God of fresh water), Inanna (Goddess of love, fertility and war), etc. Yes, they had a stark resemblance with Zeus, Posedon, and Hera, the famous deities of Greek mythology, which is not unexpected at all.
- Pre-Islam Arabian Pagan Religion:
Before the birth of Islam, the Kaaba in Mecca was used for worshiping around 360 local deities of a pagan religion. One main god was Hubal, the god of moon. Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi‘s Book of Idols describes the image as shaped like a human, with the right hand broken off and replaced with a golden hand. Al-Azraqi, an early Islamic commentator relates that it “had a vault for the sacrifice” and that the offering consisted of a hundred camels. According to some historians, children were also used as sacrifices. According to a tale recorded by Ibn Al-Kalbi, Muhammad‘s grandfather Abdul Mutallib vowed to sacrifice one of his ten children. Upon consulting with the arrows in Hubal‘s hand, his son Abd-Allah, the future father of Muhammad, was chosen. However, he was saved when 100 camels were sacrificed in his place. After seizing control of the Kaaba, Muhammad expelled the idols from the site. However, historians to this date debate on whether the inspiration behind Allah was actually the pagan god Hubal.
- Minoan Religion:
The majority of the beliefs of Minoan religion has been lost to time, owing to the lack of written records. Majority of the beliefs that are discovered by historians are from archaeological evidences. The Minoan religion is the religion of Bronze Age of Crete, is one of the few matriarchal religions of history. The dominant figure in Minoan religion was a goddess, with whom a younger male figure, perhaps a consort or son, is often associated, usually in contexts suggesting that the male figure is a worshiper. Snake and bull were predominant in the Minoan religion, the significance of which still remains unknown. The Minoan matriarchal religion existed side by side with the Mycenaean patriarchal religion of mainland Greece until the Minoans disappeared, conquered by the Mycenaeans.
Tengriism is one of the oldest religions, preached by Mongols, Huns, Bulgars, Turkic, and Altaic people. The religion is said to have originated in the Bronze Age, around 3600-1200 BC. Mongolia’s national hero, Genghis Khan, was a Tengri believer. Tengriism believes there is only one supreme God. His name is Tengri, the sky god, and he is unknowable. He is aware of everything and knows everything. Tengri also created other spirits, who were preached as demigods or spirits of land, water, earth and the underworld. Some of them were: Yer-sub (Goddess of land and water), Umai (a favorite wife of Sky God Tengri) and Elrik (deity of underground). Again the similarity to Zeus, Poseidon, Hera and Hades, is clearly noticeable. Tengriism also believed that there is no one true religion, and were tolerant to other religions.
Ashurism was the first religion of people of Assyria, and had a myriad of gods and goddesses. The god Ashur held the highest seat of gods, and had the ultimate worship. Ashur, symbolized as a deity in a winged and emanating sun disk, represents whole heaven or spirit. Ashur, symbolized as a deity in a winged and emanating sun disk, represents whole heaven or spirit. Since it is so similar to the Babylonian religion, Ashurism shares a number of common stories with Judaism and Christianity. The New Year’s Festival, known as Akitu, was the most revered date in Ashurism, lasting 11 days, and Ashur was worshiped greatly during it.
Vedism, the religion of the ancient Indo-Aryans, was popular from 1500-5000 BC. This religion was the precursor of the modern Hindu religion, both sharing the same holy texts, the Vedas. However, there is difference between the two religion. For example, in Vedism, Indra was considered to be the supreme god. Vishnu and Shiva (then known as Rudra), two major gods in Hinduism, were not so popular in Vedic religion. One of the most powerful myth was of Indra and Diti, the mother of demons. After Indra had killed most of her children, Diti began performing magic to help her last unborn son become more powerful than Indra. When he found out, Indra hurled a thunderbolt at her womb, destroying it, and the impact turned the unborn child into 49 lesser demons.
The above are some, of the numerous ancient religions, that are now forgotten, transformed or preached by a handful people. The similarity between the religions tells us the fact that all of these religions were largely influenced by each other, and also has also influenced the existing religions of the modern world.