Portal:Religion

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For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of religion

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Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, is a religion and philosophy that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former (and last) emperor of Ethiopia, as Jah (the Rasta name for God incarnate, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible), and part of the Holy Trinity as the messiah promised in the Bible to return. The name Rastafari comes from Ras (Duke or Chief) Tafari Makonnen, the pre-coronation name of Haile Selassie I.

The movement emerged in Jamaica among working-class and peasant black people in the early 1930s, arising from an interpretation of Biblical prophecy partly based on Selassie's status as the only African monarch of a fully independent state, and his titles of King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Conquering Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Other factors leading to its rise include the sacred use of marijuana, and various Afrocentric social and political aspirations, such as the teachings of Jamaican publicist and organiser Marcus Garvey (also often regarded as a prophet), whose political and cultural vision helped inspire a new world view. The movement is called Rastafarianism by some non-Rastas although some Rastas themselves regard that term as improper and offensive.

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Prometheus (1868 by Gustave Moreau)
Credit: Gustave Moreau

Prometheus. The Greek myth of Prometheus was first attested by Hesiod and then constituted the basis for a tragic trilogy of plays, possibly by Aeschylus, consisting of Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus Pyrphoros.

Selected religious figure or deity

Matsya avatar of Vishnu
In Hindu philosophy, an avatar or avatara (Sanskrit: अवतार, avatāra), most commonly refers to the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of a higher being (deva), or the Supreme Being (God) onto planet Earth. The Sanskrit word avatāra- literally means "descent" (avatarati) and usually implies a deliberate descent into lower realms of existence for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of Vishnu whom many Hindus worship as God. The ten most famous incarnations of Vishnu are collectively known as the Dasavatara ('dasa' in Sanskrit means ten). This list is included in the Garuda Purana (1.86.10-11) and denotes those avatars most prominent in terms of their influence on human society.

The word has also been used by extension to refer to the incarnations of God in other religions, especially by adherents to dharmic traditions when explaining figures such as Jesus.

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Bhagavad Gita 11:32 - Sanskrit
The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you, all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.
Bhagavad Gita, 11:32

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Rigveda manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century
Hindu scripture, which is known as "Shastra" is predominantly written in Sanskrit. Indeed, much of the morphology and linguistic philosophy inherent in the learning of Sanskrit is inextricably linked to study of the Vedas and relevant Hindu texts. Hindu scripture is divided into two categories: Śruti – that which is heard (i.e. revelation) and Smriti – that which is remembered (i.e. tradition, not revelation). The Vedas constituting the former category are considered scripture by all Hindus. The post-Vedic Hindu scriptures form the latter category; the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are notable epics considered scripture by many sects. A sort of cross-over between the religious epics and Upanishads of the Vedas is the Bhagavad Gita, considered to be revealed scripture by almost all Hindus today. The Puranas are a vast literature of stories and allegory. Eighteen are considered to be Mahapuranas, or Great Puranas, and thus authoritative references on the Gods and Goddesses, religious rites and holy places (most of which are in the Indian subcontinent, known as Bharat).

Hindu texts are typically seen to revolve around many levels of reading, namely the gross or physical, the subtle, and the supramental. This allows for many levels of understanding as well, implying that the truth of the texts can only be realized with the spiritual advancement of the reader.

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