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The Rev David Hart,
is a Priest with the Church of England
who converted to Hinduism without renouncing his Anglican priesthood.

He was educated at Keble College, Oxford
and Union Theological Seminary,
New York,
with a doctorate in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Derby.

He daily blesses
a congregation of Hindus
with fire previously offered
up to Nagar, the snake god.

He also “recites Gayatri Mantram with the same devotion with which he celebrates the Eucharist”,

according to The Hindu,
India’s national newspaper.

The Hindu this week ( 15 Jan 2008 ) pictures him offering prayers to
the elephant god Ganesh
in front of his house."

"Hart is a prominent member of a group of non-realist theologians" (Wikipedia)

His books include:

Faith in Doubt:
Non-Realism and Christian Belief

Trading Faith: Global Religion
in an Age of Rapid Change

Linking Up: Christianity and Sexuality

'He also said that he would continue to celebrate as an Anglican priest
when he visited England,
but he would also visit
a Hindu temple while there.

“My philosophical position is that all religions are cultural constructs,” he said. “I am acting out God’s story in local terms.” '

I have NOT read his books & do not know anything more about his ideas

I do NOT think we need religion/s
- Global or Local

"EVERY religion
can NOT be right,

but ALL can
be wrong."

Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar,
currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ehrman, who describes himself as an agnostic,
writes about the early Christians,
using the term "proto-orthodox"
to describe the Christian traditions that would later be defined as orthodox.

He describes
first and second-century Christians
as not yet having
a unified, orthodox tradition.

( This is the common view amongst those who have studied early church history in detail.)

He is the author of a number
of books in this area, including
Misquoting Jesus (2005),
God's Problem (2008),
and Jesus, Interrupted (2009).

He began studying the Bible
and its original languages
at the Moody Bible Institute
and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois.

He received his PhD and M.Div.
from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He went from a Moody Bible Institute-educated fundamentalist evangelical
to an agnostic.

Robert M. Price, PhD,
a former Baptist minister,
and professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Coleman Theological Seminary,

argues reconstructions
of the "historical Jesus" are,
as Albert Schweitzer
pointed out long ago,
creating their own view of Jesus.

Christian faith, whether fundamentalist or theologically liberal, invariably tends to produce a Jesus capable of playing the role of a religious figurehead for those differing views

This is no surprise,
Price demonstrates,
since the Jesus Christ of the gospels is very likely a fictional amalgam of several first-century prophets and messiahs,
as well as of purely mythic Mystery Cult redeemers and Gnostic Aions.

To show this, Price follows the noted scholar Burton Mack's outline of a range of "Jesus movements" and "Christ cults," showing the origins of each one's Jesus figures and how they may have finally merged into the patchwork savior of Christian dogma.

Finally, Price argues that there is good reason to believe that Jesus never existed as a historical figure,
and that responsible historians must remain agnostic about a "historical Jesus" and what he stood for.


" Christianity was only one
of a hundred religions
claiming special access
to truth and salvation;

and that myths of virgin births,
mother goddesses,
dying and resurrected deities,
had appeared in many
pre-Christian faiths,

and had helped to transform
a lovable Hebrew mystic
into the Son of God”

William J. Durant Ph.D. 1885 - 1981

Author of
"The Story of Philosophy" ,
"Heroes of History" .

Co-author of the comprehensive 11-volume
"The Story of Civilization"
which documents
the entire history of
Western civilization.

(From "A Dual Autobiography"
by Will and Ariel Durant, 1977.)

“The good part of Christmas
is not always Christian
-- it is generally pagan;
that is to say,
human, natural.

Christianity did not come
with tidings of great joy,
but with a message of eternal grief.

It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips.

It meant war on earth
and perdition hereafter.

It taught some good things
--the beauty of love
and kindness in man.

But as a torch-bearer,
as a bringer of joy,
it has been a failure.

It has given infinite consequences
to the acts of finite beings,
crushing the soul
with a responsibility
too great
for mortals to bear.

It has filled the future
with fear and flame,
and made God the keeper
of an eternal penitentiary,
destined to be the home
of nearly all the sons of men.

Not satisfied with that,
it has deprived God of the pardoning power.

And yet it may have
done some good
by borrowing from the Pagan world
the old festival called Christmas.

Long before Christ was born
"the Sun-God" triumphed
over the powers of "Darkness".
About the time that
we call Christmas
the ( northern ) days begin
perceptibly to lengthen.

Our barbarian ancestors
were worshippers of the sun,
and they celebrated "his"
victory over the hosts of night.

Such a festival was natural...
( and understandable )

Christianity adopted this festival.
It borrowed from the pagans
the best it has.

I believe ... in every day
that has been set apart for joy...
We take our joys too sadly.

( He was a US Civil War survivor.)

I am in favor of all the good days
-- the more the better.
is a good day
to forgive and forget

-- a good day
to throw away
prejudices and hatreds

-- a good day
to fill your heart
and your house,
and the hearts
and houses of others,
with sunshine.”

Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899),

son of a US Presbyterian minister

"A Christmas Sermon,"
Evening Telegram, Dec. 19, 1891

"El Credo falso"

"The Beliefs are false"

"I want it so that every minister
will be not a parrot,

not an owl sitting upon a dead limb
of the tree of knowledge
and hooting the hoots that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years.

But I want it so that each one
can be an investigator,
a thinker;

and I want to make his congregation grand enough
so that they will not only allow
him to think,
but will demand that he shall think,

and give to them
the honest truth of his thought."

Robert G. Ingersoll ( 1833 - 1899 )

New reformation Leaving

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Precursor ideas, Syncretism & Competition

Developmental view of Religion

Just an outline at present.
This needs more time than I can give it now.

I think it is important for people to know about this.

Growing up in the church, it was always presented as "God's revelation".

The interplay of ideas, cultures & world views shaped the development
of Jewish, Greco-Roman and consequently Christian beliefs.

Student ministers may be exposed to some this,
( and be "guided" so that they don't think too deeply ),
but, in my time, at least the ordinary churchgoer did not know.

At the end of this page is a very contemporary instance from a recent news item.

Before that is a brief reminder of what we all know,
yet overlook so often.

Starting below are some brief glimpses of worldviews
very different to what we now know to be true,

but like Bible writings, these were thought to be true at the time :

Adonis, Dying and Resurrecting Semitic God
The god Adonis is normally associated with Greek religion, but in fact Adonis is originally Lebanese:
his worship is first found among the Phoenicians and Canaanites
then only later imported into the Greek pantheon.

Even after becoming Greek, though, Adonis always retained his basic Semitic characteristics - in particular, his role as a god who annually dies and is resurrected alongside the vegetation which comes back to life each spring.

The name Adonis, like Baal, comes from the Semitic root for 'my lord' and is related to the term Adonai used to address Yahweh in the Old Testament.

The most prominent Phoenician cults of Adonis was located in Byblos and near Beirut, but Adonis wasn't the only Phoenician god who died every year and was resurrected every spring.

Both Eshmun and Melqart appear in Phoenician myths as dying and resurrecting every year, thereby guaranteeing that the the vegetation would return and agriculture would be renewed.

A funerary monument of Adonis dying was created by the Etruscans in the 3rd century BCE. Among the Etruscans, Adonis was known as Atunis.

We don't have any Phoenician images of Adonis.
This raises the interesting aspect of Phoenician religion, which is the tendency towards aniconic representations of the gods.
Figures of the gods don't appear very often - we have almost no representations of Eshmun and Melqart, for example.
Instead we have empty thrones and, eventually, unadorned marker stones representing the deities.

This aniconic tradition indicates a strong aversion to direct figural representations of deities, an attitude which has been made most famous in the Semitic religion followed by the Israelites to the south.


Early people seem to have felt that a special person needed to have special birth.
Here are some of them:
* Romulus and Remus are fathered by the god Mars
( or the demi-god Hercules )
on a royal Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia (aka Ilia )

* The Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Zeus visited the virgin Danaë as a shower of gold and got her with child.

* The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris,
and laid it in her bosom,
and gave birth to the god Attis.

* Hermes (in Greek mythology) ( in Roman: Mercury) was born of the virgin Maia ( May ).

* Krishna ( an incarnated manifestation of the Hindu God Vishnu)
was born not from a sexual connection,
but was transferred to Devaki's womb.

* Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom,
and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived.

Romulus and Remus are fathered by the god Mars
( or the demi-god Hercules ) on a royal Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia (aka Ilia )

Romulus and Remus are Rome's twin founders in its traditional foundation myth.
They are descendants of the Trojan prince and refugee Aeneas, and are fathered by the god Mars or the demi-god Hercules on a royal Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia (also known as Ilia), whose uncle exposes them to die in the wild.
They are found by a she-wolf who suckles and cares for them.
The twins are eventually restored to their regal birthright, acquire many followers and decide to found a new city.

Romulus wishes to build the new city on the Palatine Hill;
Remus prefers the Aventine Hill.
They agree to determine the site through augury.*

Romulus appears to receive the more favourable signs but each claims the results in his favour.

In the disputes that follow, Remus is killed. Ovid has Romulus invent the festival of Lemuria to appease Remus' resentful ghost.

Romulus names the new city Rome, after himself, and goes on to create the Roman Legions and the Roman Senate.

He adds citizens to his new city by abducting the women of the neighboring Sabine tribes, which results in the combination of Sabines and Romans as one Roman people.

Rome rapidly expands to become a dominant force, due to divine favour and the inspired administrative, military and political leadership of Romulus.

In later life Romulus becomes increasingly autocratic, disappears in mysterious circumstances and is deified as the god Quirinus, the divine persona of the Roman people.

The legend of Romulus and Remus encapsulates Rome's ideas of itself, its origins, moral values and purpose;
it has also been described as one of the most problematic of all foundation myths.

Romulus' name is thought to be a back-formation from the name Rome;
Remus' is a matter for ancient and modern speculation.

The main sources for the legend approach it as history and offer an implausibly exact chronology:
Roman historians dated the city's foundation variously from 758 to 728 BC.
Plutarch says Romulus was fifty-three at his death;
which reckoning gives the twins' birth year as c. 771 BC.
Possible historical bases for the broad mythological narrative remain unclear and much disputed.[5]

Romulus and Remus are eminent among the feral children of ancient mythography. retrieved Sept 5, 2010

*The augur was a priest and official in the classical world,
especially ancient Rome and Etruria.

His main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds:
whether they are flying in groups/alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are.

This was known as "taking the auspices."

The ceremony and function of the augur was central to any major undertaking in Roman society—public or private—including matters of war, commerce, and religion.

The Roman historian Livy stresses the importance of the augurs:
"Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices, that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?" retrieved Sept 5, 2010

n) augury, sign, foretoken, preindication (an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come) "he hoped it was an augury"; "it was a sign from God" retrieved Sept 5, 2010


* The Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Zeus visited the virgin Danaë as a shower of gold and got her with child.

"Perseus, the legendary founder of Mycenae,* was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians.

Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa, and claimed Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon in retribution for Queen Cassiopeia declaring herself more beautiful than the sea nymphs.

Danae was the only child of Acrisius, King of Argos. Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consulted the oracle at Delphi, who warned him that he would one day be killed by his daughter's son.

Danaë was childless and to keep her so, he imprisoned her in a bronze chamber open to the sky in the courtyard of his palace.
This mytheme is also connected to Ares, Oenopion, Eurystheus, etc.

Zeus came to her in the form of a shower of gold, and impregnated her. Soon after was born their child Perseus.

Fearful for his future but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing Zeus's offspring and his own daughter, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest.

Danaë's fearful prayer made while afloat in the darkness has been expressed by the poet Simonides of Ceos.

Mother and child washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by the fisherman Dictys ("fishing net"), who raised the boy to manhood.
The brother of Dictys was Polydectes ("he who receives/welcomes many"), the king of the island.

(In the second millennium BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece.
The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean.)

retrived from Sept 5 2010


The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis.

An Attis cult began around 1200 BCE in Dindymon (today's Murat Dagi of Gediz, Kütahya, western Turkey).
He was originally a local semi-deity of Phrygia, associated with the great Phrygian trading city of Pessinos, which lay under the lee of Mount Agdistis.

The mountain was personified as a daemon,* whom foreigners associated with the Great Mother Cybele.

(* Daemons were good or malevolent "supernatural beings between mortals and gods, such as inferior divinities and ghosts of dead heroes" (see Plato's Symposium),
and differ from the Judeo-Christian usage of demon: a malignant spirit that could seduce, afflict, or possess humans. )

In the late fourth century a cult of Attis became a feature of the Greek world.
The story of his origins at Agdistis, recorded by the traveler Pausanias, have some distinctly non-Greek elements:
Pausanias was told that the daemon Agdistis initially bore both male and female attributes.

But the Olympian gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ and cast it away.
There grew up from it an almond-tree, and when its fruit was ripe, Nana who was a daughter of the river-god Sangarius picked an almond and laid it in her bosom.

The almond disappeared, and she became pregnant. Nana abandoned the baby (Attis).

The infant was tended by a he-goat.

As Attis grew, his long-haired beauty was godlike, and Agdistis as Cybele, then fell in love with him.
But the foster parents of Attis sent him to Pessinos, where he was to wed the king's daughter.

According to some versions the King of Pessinos was Midas.
Just as the marriage-song was being sung, Agdistis/Cybele appeared in her transcendent power, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals.

Attis' father-in-law-to-be, the king who was giving his daughter in marriage, followed suit, prefiguring the self-castrating corybantes who devoted themselves to Cybele.

But Agdistis repented and saw to it that the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay.

Attis was reborn as an evergreen pine tree.
This rebirth was celebrated on 25 March
- the festival of Hilaria.

At the temple of Cybele in Pessinus, the mother of the gods was still called Agdistis, Greek historian, geographer and philosopher Strabo ( 63/64 BC – ca. AD 24 ) recounted.

The Museum of Ephesus, Efes, Turkey has a sculpture of Attis

As neighboring Lydia came to control Phrygia, the cult of Attis was given a Lydian context too.

Attis is said to have introduced to Lydia the cult of the Mother Goddess Cybele, incurring the jealousy of Zeus, who sent a boar to destroy the Lydian crops.

Then certain Lydians, with Attis himself, were killed by the boar.
Pausanias adds, to corroborate this story, that the Gauls who inhabited Pessinos abstained from pork.

This myth element may have been invented solely to explain the unusual dietary laws of the Lydian Gauls.
In Rome, the eunuch followers of Cybele were known as Galli ("Gauls").

Julian the Apostate* gives an account of the spread of the orgiastic cult of Cybele in his Oratio 5.
It spread from Anatolia to Greece and eventually to Rome in Republican times, and the cult of Attis, her reborn eunuch consort, accompanied her.

The first literary reference to Attis is the subject of one of the most famous poems by Catullus
but it appears that the cult of Attis at Rome was not attached to the earlier-established cult of Cybele until the early Empire.

* Flavius Claudius Julianus ( 331/332 – 26 June 363 ), commonly known as Julian, Julian the Apostate or Julian the Philosopher,
was Roman Emperor from 355 to 363

although from the Constantinian dynasty,
he was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire
and it was his desire to bring the empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to save it from dissolution. retrieved Sept 5, 2010


Hermes (in Greek mythology) ( in Roman, Mercury) was born of the virgin Maia.

Maia in Greek mythology, was the eldest of the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas
( the - existing from the beginning - Titan who supported the heavens, )

and Pleione ( an Oceanid nymph ).

She and her sisters, born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, are sometimes called mountain goddesses, oreads, for Simonides of Ceos sang of "mountain Maia" (Maia oureias) "of the lively black eyes".
Maia was the oldest, most beautiful and shyest.
Aeschylus repeatedly identified her with Gaia.

She and her sisters were pursued by Orion, the giant huntsman, and turned into doves to preserve their safety.

According to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes,
Zeus in the dead of night secretly begot Hermes upon Maia,
who avoided the company of the gods, in a cave of Cyllene.

After giving birth to the baby, Maia wrapped him in blankets and went to sleep.

The rapidly-maturing infant Hermes crawled away to Thessaly,
where by nightfall of his first day
he stole some of Apollo's cattle and invented a lyre.

Maia refused to believe Apollo when he claimed Hermes was the thief and Zeus then sided with Apollo.
Finally, Apollo exchanged the cattle for the lyre.

Maia also raised the infant Arcas to protect him from Hera, who had turned his mother, Callisto, into a bear. Arcas is the eponym of Arcadia.

In Roman mythology,
Maia was identified with Maia Maiestas (also called Fauna, Bona Dea (the 'Good Goddess') and Ops),
a goddess who may be equivalent to an old Italic goddess of spring.

The month of May was named for her;
the first and fifteenth of May were sacred to her.
On the first of May the flamen of Vulcan sacrificed to her a pregnant sow,
an appropriate sacrifice also for an earth goddess such as Bona Dea:
a sow-shaped wafer might be substituted.

The goddess was accessible only to women; men were excluded from her precincts. retrieved Sept 5, 2010


Krishna ( an incarnate manifestation of the Hindu deity Vishnu) was born not from a sexual connection between Devaki and Vasudeva, but was transferred to Devaki's womb.

In Hinduism, Devaki (?????) is the wife of Vasudeva and mother of Krishna and Balarama[1].
Devaki and Vasudeva were imprisoned by her brother, Kamsa, due to a prophecy that one of their sons would kill him.

Kamsa then killed six of their sons. The seventh, Balarama, escaped death by being transferred to the womb of vasudeva's other wife, rohini, while a female child (an incarnation of the goddess Yoga-Nidra or Maya) was placed in Yashoda's womb.

The eighth son, Krishna (who was actually an avatar of Vishnu), was born at midnight and taken by Vasudeva across the Yamuna river to be raised by Nanda and Yasoda in the neighboring village of Gokul.

In place of Krishna, Vasudeva took Yashoda's just born child (the incarnation of Yogmaya).

After returning to Mathura with the baby girl (yog-maya), Kamsa in disbelief, tries to destroy it when it flies out of his hands and turns into an eight-armed goddess and warns him "fool, your death has alrady been born on this Earth."

It was believed that Krishna was born not from a sexual connection between Devaki and Vasudeva, but was transferred to Devaki's womb. After he realised that Krishna had escaped alive, Kamsa released Devaki and Vasudeva, and they lived in Mathura. retrieved Sept 5, 2010


Catlicus, aka Coatlicue, Teteoinan (also transcribed Teteo Inan ), the serpent-skirted;
caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom,
and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived.

She is "The Mother of Gods".
The Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war.

She is also known as Toci (Tocî, "our grandmother") and Cihuacoatl (Cihuacohuatl, "the lady of the serpent"), the patron of women who die in childbirth.

The word "Coatlicue" is Nahuatl for "the one with the skirt of serpents".

She is referred to variously by the epithets "Mother Goddess of the Earth who gives birth to all celestial things", "Goddess of Fire and Fertility", "Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth", and "Mother of the Southern Stars".

She is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls.

According to Aztec legend, she was once magically impregnated by a ball of feathers that fell on her while she was sweeping a temple, and subsequently gave birth to the gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl.

Her daughter Coyolxauhqui then rallied Coatlicue's four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother.

The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle.

He killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head he cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon.

In one variation on this legend, Huitzilopochtli himself is the child conceived in the ball-of-feathers incident and is born just in time to save his mother from harm.

Other versions exist:

One version of the creation of the present Sun:
The myth relates that the present Sun began after the gods gathered at Teotihuacan and sacrificed themselves.

The best known version states that Tezzictecatl and Nanahuatzin immolated themselves, becoming respectively the moon and the sun.

But other versions add a group of female deities to those who sacrificed themselves, including Coatlicue.

Afterwards the Aztecs were said to have worshipped the skirts of these women, which came back to life.

Coatlicue thus has creative aspects, which may balance the skulls, hearts, hands, and claws that connect her to the earth deity Tlaltecuhtli. The earth both consumes and regenerates life. retrieved Sept 5, 2010


We all know this:

The celebration of Christmas
and the magical re-awakening of the northern lands in Spring ( as Easter )
come from practices that pre-date Christianity.

These ( pagan ) celebrations were appropriated and transformed by the new religion,
because they were integral to the lives of people in those times.

( Many may have literally thought that failture to perform something similar to the rituals
would ensure doom - that "Old Man Winter" would continue to rule without end.
The new religion appropriated that fear of doom also.)

We should not laugh at our forebears and the strange beliefs.

If today "we see further and more clearly,
it is because we stand on the shoulders of others.."

There are many "shoulders" on which the honest person
can stand to view our modern religions very clearly.

We need much greater willingness to do so.....

"I want it so that every minister
will be not a parrot,

not an owl sitting upon a dead limb
of the tree of knowledge
and hooting the hoots that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years.

But I want it so that each one
can be an investigator,
a thinker;

and I want to make his congregation grand enough
so that they will not only allow
him to think,
but will demand that he shall think,

and give to them
the honest truth of his thought."

Robert G. Ingersoll ( 1833 - 1899 ),
son of a US Presbyterian minister

is one place to start.....


A contemporary example:

The Commandments ( of which the OT has differing wording )
were claimed to come from a ( one of many gods thought to be real. )
god on the mountain.
There is some suggestion the there was mountain "Yhw" from which "Yahweh"
( transliterated erronously as "Jehovah" ) might be derived.

Ideas tend to develop & transform unevenly as is seen in the modern situation below:

"Lepchas ( in Sikkim state, modern India, celebrate Pang Lhabsol to worship Mount Khangchendzonga as the guardian deity.

The combination of the masked dance and the warrior dance, gives the festival a unique look.
This festival is held on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to late August and early September.
The costumes are resplendent, the masks colourful and impressive, and the choreography of the warrior dance is spectacular.

A week before the dances,the lamas of Pemayangtse monastery offer prayers,
invoking Dzonga (as Mount Khangchendzonga is popularly called)
to protect the land and look after the people.

This festival is held on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to late August and early September.

While most Lepchas are now Buddhists,
( because of invasion by Buddhists centuries ago)
a sizeable number of them still follow their original faith.

Their animistic belief sees them worshipping nature in all its forms, rivers, lakes and mountains.

Many aspects, like the worship of Khangchendzonga,
have also been included into Sikkimese Buddhism.


" Members of a mountain tribe in India say one of their most important rituals may never be performed again, after the death of their spiritual leader.

The Lepcha community, in the state of Sikkim, pray every year to the world's third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga.

However, their 83-year-old priest, Samdup Taso, who used to conduct the elaborate ceremony, died last week leaving no anointed successor.

The Lepcha regard Kanchenjunga as their guardian deity.

They believe their earliest ancestors were created from the snows on the summit of the peak, which towers over their homeland.

Around 50,000 members of the Lepcha tribe live in the tiny Indian state of Sikkim, which lies in the heart of the Himalayas between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Although many have converted to Buddhism and Christianity, they still follow some of their traditional rituals.

The Lepcha have been praying to Kanchenjunga for hundreds of years, with the ceremony always led by descendents of their original priest.

However, Samdup Taso's son decided not to follow his father's profession, and there is no sign of any other family member stepping forward to take on the role.

Lost tradition

"The tradition has ended forever," a local resident, Sherap Lepcha, told the Times of India.
"It is not possible for another person to learn the rituals and take Samdup Taso's place."

Jenny Bentley, an ethnographer specialising in the Lepcha, said:
"He was the last one in an ancient lineage of shamans who could perform the royal Kongchen [mountain deity] ritual."
"With his death a large part of the oral tradition and memory is lost irrevocably," she told the Sikkim Express."

( But those parts included into modern Sikkimese Buddhism will continue
- and maybe change -
while common knowledge of their original source will be lost or transformed.

Sources: Copied from and a BBC news item

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