Historically, Christianity has taught "Heaven" as a generalized concept, a place of eternal life, in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the pious and elect (rather than an abstract experience related to individual concepts of the ideal). The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life. From the 16th to the late 19th century, Christendom was divided between the Roman Catholic view, the Orthodox view, the Coptic view, the Jacobite view, the Abyssinian view and Protestant views.Roman Catholics believe that entering Purgatory after death (physical rather than ego death) cleanses one of sin (period of suffering until one's nature is perfected), which makes one acceptable to enter heaven. This is valid for venial sin only, as mortal sins can be forgiven only through the act of reconciliation and repentance while on earth. Some within the Anglican Church also hold to this belief, despite their separate history. However, in Oriental Orthodox Churches, it is only God who has the final say on who enters heaven. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, heaven is understood as union and communion with the Triune God (reunion of Father and Son through love). Thus, Heaven is experienced by the Orthodox both as a reality inaugurated, anticipated and present here and now in the divine-human organism of the Christ's Body, the Church, and also as something to be perfected in the future. In some Protestant Christian sects, eternal life depends upon the sinner receiving God's grace (unearned and undeserved blessing stemming from God's love) through faith in Jesus' death for their sins, his resurrection as the Christ, and accepting his Lordship (authority and guidance) over their lives. In other sects the process may or may not include a physical baptism, or obligatory process of transformation or experience of spiritual rebirth.According to the controversial website "Religioustolerance.org", "Conservative and mainline Protestant denominations tend to base their belief in heaven on the literal interpretation of certain passages of the Bible, and symbolic interpretations of others. They arrive at very different beliefs because they select different passages to read literally."
For non-Indian readers, the language and flow of such books can be an adjustment if you did not grow up hearing this particular style of storytelling (many of the ebook versions could also use several more run-throughs of edits).
You may also enjoy The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak, a saga set in Indonesia based on the story of Amba from the Mahabharata. Read more on our books with a color in the title reading list.
For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare--poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a US Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force tactical air controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events.
With the end of the Cold War, scholars discovered religions emergence as a powerful political force in the contemporary world but it may have been there all along. Just as there is not easy way to define religion, so there is no regression analysis possible to say when religion is a major cause alone, when it is an important though secondary cause, and when it is a pretext used to facilitate war. History is, after all, not a science. But religion, when utilized by a state, makes war seem moral by legitimating it as just in cause, asserting that killing is ethically justified, and providing consolation to the bereaved. After all, killing outside of a state or religiously sanctioned war is just murder.
This brief survey illustrates that built into the formative documents and practices of the five major religions of world is an acceptance of war. There may be countervailing emphases as well, but frequently in history religious and political authorities have called upon traditions that legitimate war. No matter how often we may emphasize the teachings about the value of peace in early traditions and canonical documents, the potential for making war a religious duty will always be there. Holy war is a basic ingredient for Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism and both the devout and those who want to exploit the traditions for political ends will find in the canon fodder for another kind of cannon.
Thus far our discussion should show that we cannot expect religions to jettison either their founding documents on war or their long history of attempting to limit the cause and conduct of war. A third factor, equally significant, would be the symbiotic relationship of organized religions to the societies in which they flourish. Marx saw religion as a tool of the ruling class, a way to persuade peoples to accept their impoverished lot by promising pie in the sky, bye and bye. Religion would disappear when the social conditions that brought it were ameliorated. Until then, religion would bless the wars initiated by the ruling class for economic advantages. Emile Durkheim insisted that in religion we create idealized images of ourselves and then ascribe ultimate value to our society. So, in essence, the nation worships itself. Again, religion could not stand against a society at war. World War I showed the accuracy of his description of the role of European churches in a war for which historians still search for adequate causes. More recently, René Girard saw early religions as a kind of Freudian displacement mechanism whereby we ritually sacrifice a kind of scapegoat in order to keep ourselves from killing each other. A variant of this theory using the Cain and Abel story as a model sees monotheism as creating a scarcity economics in which only one side can obtain the blessing of God. This leads to the arrogance of a chosen people and a devaluing of the Other, who then can be warred upon.
Even an organization as powerful as the Roman Catholic Church learned during the French Revolution how vulnerable it was to pressure from what was the first modern anti-clerical state. After the French Revolution until now there has a constant European anti-clericalism that restricted the power of the papacy to influence decisions on war, even inside of Italy after 1870. The history of relations between the state and organized religion in dictatorships and totalitarian rulers shows that, although there can be passive resistance by the devout who can carve out safe space, the state is rarely constrained in initiating or pursuing war. For example, neither Hitler, Mussolini, nor Saddam Hussein hesitated to start wars in spite of the opposition of religious leaders to their rule. Stalin sought to destroy Russian Orthodoxy until it proved useful to mobilize the people in WWII. In the U.S. opposition from the National Council of Churches and the Papacy to Gulf Wars I and II did not stop the presidents from initiating a war or prevent an enormous outburst of support during and immediately after the initial successes. So political leaders try to co-op religions when they are useful and to ignore them when they are not.
Finally, many religious organizations are organized within a state. Even when there is a transnational body, like the Roman Catholic Church, most members of the hierarchy were born and live in the nation their churches are in. Even a kind of weak transnational organization is minimal for most Protestants and Orthodox Christians, Jews, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. History shows how easy it has been for fellow believers to war; it is even easier when the parties are of different religions.
The advantage of any version of the peace and justice linkage is that one can begin working at any level and can obtain successes even if the micro does not easily transform into the macro level. I used to ask my students, who were required to write term papers on various NGOs, whether it was necessary to have a comprehensive theory of peace to do effective peace work. The answer, of course, depended upon the definition of peace and the work undertaken, but most students decided that peace work was not primarily an academic exercise. That is, the successes of the AFSC or Amnesty International or the International Red Cross depended on a careful definition of what they sought to accomplish. The world today is a better place for the activities of the NGOs, but recent history does not prove that it is becoming a more peaceful place, if the quantity of wars and numbers of deaths are the criteria.
With vivid dialogues of the women in The Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni establishes herself as a splendid storyteller. Her work serves as a feminist retelling of the Mahabharata through the eyes of Panchaali or Draupadi, a layered character who acted as the catalyst that launched the war for Dharma. Divakaruni follows the narrative style of 'story within a story', an element from the Mahabharata to narrate the incidents leading up to the Great War. Strong women, though opposites in nature, make up the characters in this book.
The series that propelled Indian mythology into the forefront, Amish Tripathi's The Immortals of Meluha along with the sequels, find their names on every list concerning Indian mythological fiction. Since their release almost a decade ago, Amish has become a household name, really, for bookworms. The story follows one mythological character, Shiva, a warrior. It talks about good and evil, and how they are often blurred, though one could say they are both sides of the same coin.
Kavita Kane has a distinct literary voice that gives power to the voiceless and the marginalized. Her works are always a fresh take on characters that have been usually ignored or misrepresented by popular mainstream media. In Lanka's Princess, Kane narrates the story of Surpanakha, the cause that launched the events in the Ramayana. An unconventional and therefore, an important take on the Ramayana written compellingly by one of the very best writers in the Indian mythological fiction genre. Here, one sees how mythological retellings help to subvert the traditional, mostly, patriarchal narratives. 2b1af7f3a8