This may be understood, but perhaps it should be said again: "For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have..."(Alma 29:8) And when and what did they get? What did China have that fulfilled this scripture? How does one assess China? In a sense these studies on China are an effort, feeble as they may be, to find out what the Lord has seen "fit that they should have..." What prophecies apply to this region of twenty-five percent of the human race? And second to China is India, two thirds the population of China. Together with the surrounding regions these two countries account for half the human race. Only recently has India opened its gates for missionaries. Taiwan doesn't count. Other than in Hong Kong, China remains elusive and very distant. How does it figure in the scheme of things for the future? Is most of the work for these people to be done during the millennium? More than half the human population has not as yet been proselyted. And their ancestors make a huge percentage of all who have come to this earth. The church is finishing one chapel each day for the rest of the world. What would a major missionary effort harvest in China? How many chapels would be required? Where would the resources come from? What resources would the Church have to provide for an effective and successful missionary effort in that great country? Most certainly the Lord knows all things and has something planned for that great day. HE is the grand strategist!
There are some aspects of China that need to be considered as the planed missionary effort draws nearer. There are many ways of dividing up the space that we think simply of as "China". As a geologist I think of China in terms of its geology and geomorphology, huge in natural resources with so many of them undeveloped! A heaven for an exploration geologist. A biologist can describe the plants, animals and human populations. The geographer can describe the functional regions bound together by extremes of transport, trade and communications, mainly the lack of roads. The Politician thinks in terms of the diverse spatial patterns of the cultural landscape that is continually changing. The Yellow River had not flowed in one but in several major channels during recorded history. According to legend, Yu was the founder of the Xia dynasty which developed early China along the Yellow River and tamed the flooding, bringing order to human society in China. (Kagan p. 34) Much of southern China and parts of the north were once covered with forests now stripped by human activity. The temperature has risen and fallen over the centuries. The Changing ideas about Climate Change confuse them. The area that is now Shanghai was under the sea just a thousand years ago. It is built on a delta. The Yangzi River had deposited the alluvium on which it is now built in just such a limited time. Different Great Walls and Grand Canal's have followed different alignments. Much of what there is today has spread out from the original core in the middle of the valley of the Yellow River. The China of today has actually not been in existence for very long. (Blunden p. 14) Even today, Chinese spaces are loosely organized.
THE PROVINCES AND REGIONS OF CHINA
Present-day China falls into two main divisions. Inner China is low-lying, agriculture densely populated and inhabited by the Han Chinese. It is the core of the historical Chinese empire up to and including the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Outer China is a vast sparsely populated and elevated region whose people are not ethnic Chinese, but include Mongol, Turkish, Tibetan or other stock. Its present economy depends upon large herds of animals, farming is secondary, there the rivers flow out of China or fade away into basins of the inland drainage. This is in contrast to Inner China where the rivers serve as the coastal shipping routes and a complex network of water transportation. The two Chinas were not joined together until the Manchu or Qing dynasty during the 18th century accounting for the present huge size of the People's Republic. During the last two hundred and fifty years movements of the Han Chinese have expanded Inner China by converting much of Manchuria from forest and pasture into farmland. (Blunden p. 15-16)
Missionaries will find that the ethnic Han Chinese constitute nearly 94 % of the Chinese population. The remainder consists of over 50 other ethnic groups, the main types being the Japano-Korean, Altaic Indo-European, Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic, Dai, Miao-Yao and Malayo-Polynesian, with almost the same variety of physical types. (Blunden p. 18) "The earliest imperial capital, late in the 3rd century B.C. was that of the Qin at Xianyang near modern Xi'an in the area known as Guannel ("Within the Passes")." (Blunden p. 19) All of this will have to be considered in the location of mission homes and centers.
Outer China was divided into Autonomous Regions; though there was really little autonomy, including: Inner Mongolian; 37 million Muslims, Uighur, Guangzi, Zhuang, Tibetan, and the Province of Qinghai which is part of the Tibetan region, the jury is still out on Tibet. There are also smaller regions of minority nationalities under provincial government. Outer Mongolia became independent in 1912. All with historically different religion beliefs, complicating future attempts to convert such people. "The traditional Faiths of Inner China were Confucianism, Daoism, Mahanyana Buddhism and an amalgam of local cults. In Outer China people gave their allegiance to Lamaist, Buddhism, Islam and older indigenous systems of belief such as the Tibetan Bon." (Blunden p. 17) From area to area there are extremes of cultural change and diverse conditions that will need to be coped with, let alone dialects and languages, especially in preparation of scriptural publications and gospel guides and booklets.
The Muslims if Yunan region tried to free themselves several times and once set up a kingdom called Dali, or Suleiman, in 1855 to 1872, but it ended after many years of fighting and the slaughter of nearly 30,000 Muslim by troops of Cen Yuying. The appearance of being docile now may be misleading.
Taiwan was colonized in the 1600's and 1700's with the Chinese driving out the Malayan-Polynesian aborigines from the fertile plains. The Chinese expanded into Manchuria north of the line of wooden stakes called the "Pale" that marked the southern extremity linked to the Great Wall which came down to the sea at Shanhaiguan. The Russian Expansion was from the north along Heilongjiang (Black Dragan) River, today the Amur River, which drains into the subarctic pacific. With the building of the great railroads in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, huge emigrations occurred and the region became a major food exporter. (Blunden p. 38-39)
There were many reasons for efforts at different times to divide China into regions for control that the Chinese called Dao, or Circuits. The earliest of these attempts at subdivision and spatial designation is that of the Warring States in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. There were 13 such regions during the Tang (742 AD) period. During the first 60 years of the 10th century there were initially five dynasties and 10 Kingdoms, (920 AD), later 8 regions emerged that might easily have grown into Nation States like Europe. Then there were at least 21 regions during the Song period and 10 Mongol provinces during their period of domination and rule. And finally 17 Ming provinces. All of these provinces had boundaries that were quite vague and overlapped at any given time in history.
Chinese colonial expansion throughout its history was accompanied by much bloody warfare. Uprisings in various provinces proliferated. From AD 959 to l644 there were nearly 600 insurrections. (Blunden pp.37-38) There was a fierce spirit of independence in the Chinese that manifested itself many times. They were never docile and they are not so at the present. Today the newly appointed leadership sits on a powder keg, all of the time. Most of China's administrative provinces were not based on deeply rooted natural regions. The historical provinces were not the most suitable units to use for thinking about China in spatial terms. There were too many of them and their relevance to social life is limited. If they had been organized along the lines as those of the states in the United States, China may have had a much different history. Under the Communist regime they have allowed the provinces very considerable powers, some more than others; mostly for economic administration and the general "cellularlization" of the economy, and since the 1950's may have gone some way towards making them more authentic units than they ever were before. (Blunden pp. 20-21) For missionary work to succeed in China, a great deal of attention no doubt will be given to the nature of the political organizations and diverse societies that exist locally. "By the end of the 18th century the Chinese economy...political structure ...thought and art had reached a magnificent dead end...the incapacity any longer to generate new ways of thinking, seeing, feeling and doing from within the old Chinese tradition." (Blunden p. 144) Things were going to have to change. Part of that change will be induced by the influence of the rapid increase in the circulation and publication of bibles in China.
During the 3rd century AD, the Three Kingdom period, China was split between the Wei, which dominated the valley of the Yellow river, and the Chu, which controlled the Yangzi and some areas further south. In the 12th and 13th centuries Inner China was divided into north and south, both politically and geographically. (Blunden p. 22) China south of the Yangzi valley was ruled by the Southern Song and the north China plains by the Jin Dynasty of the Ryzhen (or Jurjen) people, ancestors of the Manchus. Then later ruled by the Mongols after their conquest of the south in 1270's. (Blunden p. 19) They relocated the capital to the site of modern Beijing. During the life of the intrepid Monk, Xuanzang, the engineering for the first of The Grand Canals was completed and the historic links between north and south China by various Grand Canals was established. The first of these was built by conscripted labor in the seventh century under the Sui dynasty. Years later the Mongols extended the canals towards their capital and by the Ming dynasties, the engineering problems of a stepped route were solved. Prospective missionaries will make extensive use of the Canal system and will master its intricate transportation challenge. (Blunden pp. 18, 104-105) The Grand Canal was more than 600 miles long. The Erie Canal at the time of Joseph was about 350 miles long, but not as wide or deep.
The 10 regional structures of the 19th and 20th centuries were based on topography and density of population. During the same period of time the areas were split up with dictatorial rule under more than a dozen war lords. One of these, Yan Xishan, who ruled Shanxi, remained in power until the Chinese communists took over in the fall of 1949. (Blunden pp. 25-2 5) Missionaries before then had to contend with the Warlords. It was a missionary doctor with a mission in one of the north eastern areas that rescued Doolittle after the Tokyo Raid of 1942 and removed an injured leg of one of airmen.
An important division of the country is made on the basis of available salt. The country as a whole relies on the more than 20 salt areas of the northeastern provinces of Liang-Zhe, Huaibei and Shandong on the sea coast, and inland some six or so salt areas of Sichuan a western province. (Blunden p. 24) The salt sources were just south of the ancient capital of Chang'du where Xuangzang departed on his western journey in 629 AD (Wriggins p. 11), and was one of the reasons for the Tang setting up their capital there.
Truman G. Madsen once wrote: "If one looks deeply into historic religions, he can find precedent, parallel, and in some cases identity, in the teachings of this dispensation and those of former ones." (Madison, in Palmer p. 62) Taking a brief look into some of the world's greatest religions though they may have been transmitted into China imperfectly, the content of the documents provides some precedent, identity and parallels to teachings of earlier dispensations and especially the dispensation of the fullness of times. Either the Great Joseph restored in clarity and fullness former great doctrines or he didn't. The evidence is clear, he did! So, one might expect to find a few tantalizing parallels even in a cursory look at India's great religions BRHAMANISM and HINDUISM. They will be the last to be discussed in this series.
BRHAMANISM AND HINDUISM
The last several of these web site entries on the Preparation of China for the Restoration discussed some aspects of the chief or main religious data XUANZANG brought back from his years of travels to the west, particularly Persia and India , including works on Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Mandaeanism. (Wriggins p. 9) the last one to be discussed or briefly mentioned will be Brahmanism and Hinduism. Brahmanism was the ancient tradition, later Hinduism was incorporated into Brahaminism. Brahaminism highly influenced Buddhaism. "Two and a half thousand years ago, the civilization which had grown up in northern India following the settlement there of Aryan invaders from Central Asia was already quite complex and sophisticated. The term HINDU did not exist at that time-it was coined much later-but the chief elements of what was to become known as HINDU society were well established." (Saddhatissa p. 14) Society was organized according to a variety of bewildering castes, they traditionally fall into one of five groups. At the top, the highest caste, were the BRAHMINS, who had the right to act as priests and were the custodians of religious knowledge. Next were the KAHTRIYAS, or warriors, and the race of kings, who generally provided the ruling class responsible for government and protection. Then there were the VAISHYAS, or merchants and traders, who kept the economy going. Next there were the SUDRAS, the agriculturalists, they were the ones who did most of the hard work as artisans, laborers and servants. Most important, are the nine kinds of salutation in India that have special significance because of the caste differences and funeral practices. (Wriggins p. 57) Finally, at the bottom, were the outcasts, the untouchables. The derelicts and destitute of mankind. The caste system creates immense problems for missionaries organizing a Branch, Ward or Stake.
The family into which Siddartha, who became the Buddha, was born "belonged to a KASHATRIYA clan called Bautama....though the Kashatriyas formed the nobility and governing class of society, the spiritual leadership was held by the Brahmins, whence the name Brahmanism...the religious system of the time. Kings relied on Brahmins not only to perform the religious functions but also to give advice and guidance. So... priests figured prominently in the early life of the Buddha." (Saddhatissa pp. 13-15) The proud King Suddhodana thought about the career of his son and sought clues to his destiny ". ..one of the first visitors soon after the birth of Siddartha was a venerable sage...Kala Devala...renowned for his wisdom...and reputed powers...suggested [during his visit]... the new prince was to be a man not of the ordinary...he first smiled and then began to weep...Why are you weeping? Is there any misfortune likely to come to the baby?..no replied Kala...I have been privileged to see a being who, I perceive...is surely destined to become a fully enlightened one, a Buddha. But when I look into my own future I see that I shall not live to hear him deliver his teaching. That is why the tears came into my eyes. Rejoice, King, for the son that is born to you will become the greatest being in the whole world." (Saddhatissa p. 15) In his day he may have been. Of course this was 500 years before Christ was born and the society of that day had lost the great prophetic utterances the Book of Mormon saying that were once held my many. (Alma 33:11-18) "Xuanzang reported that Buddha had attained nirvana at the age of eighty. Just before his death in 483 BCE., he had converted a Brahman named Subhadra." and named him as his successor and to be the master of his followers. his last words were: "All that is composed is perishable. Work diligently for your salvation." (Wriggins p. 104) In the centuries following the death of Siddartha, the name BUDDHA really came to mean an extremely wise person. When that person becomes recognized for his wisdom and right way of life, he is called an "enlightened one", or Buddha. The term or name, however, was used long before the man who would be identified by that name was born. Buddhaism influences more than half of mankind.
Hinduism, incorporated into Brahmanism, is generally used as a term to summarize the aspiration, both unsophisticated and intellectual of the majority of the Indian people. Owing to the nuances of the Sanskrit language, in which most of their ancient and present texts are written, and partly to the extremely liberal interpretation of Hindu imagery and mythology, that veils its real significance, it has, today, often led to the epithets 'heathen' and 'Polytheistic' being applied to Hinduism. Hinduism existed in ancient proto-historical India as an attempt to come to terms with the physical environment, and subsequently with the mysterious world beyond it. Hinduism is the product of a culture peculiar to India. It recognized energy, as does modern science, as the ultimate source of manifestation, and for Hinduism the fount of all aspiration. (Stutley p. xvii) The long vista of Indian history with all the fluctuation of its cultural levels, reveals a continuity and genius for analysis and synthesis that has only been surpassed by the vastness of the restored gospel, which pursues existence and origins back farther and extends man's visions into the future as a great continuum of fulfillment, with heights and depths never before imagined by man; outer darkness with kingdoms of no glory to glorious kingdoms where beings are Gods and Goddesses and families are eternal and worlds are everlasting and unending and power is absolute.
The vastness and complexity of the religious texts has been recognized by serious students of Hinduism. They include the classical Vedic Texts, especially the Rg-Veda, the Atharva Vedas, the Brahmanas (600 BC) and the Upanisads, also the great epic the MAHABARA TA. The Mormon's also have the intriguing doctrine with all its implication of a mother in heaven, though the terms goddess is not employed. They believe that all mankind were literally given birth into the spirit world and were raised and nurtured there by a loving mother and father who are exalted glorified beings. Therefore a reference to the goddess Durga-Kali, a heavenly mother, will stimulate discussion in a direction few will go, with such documents as the Markandeyua Puriana, the Devi-Bhagvata Urana and the asura of all asuras-the Mahasasura. (Beane pp. 1-2; 94) These are pertinent in the search for significant lines of historic-mythic continuity between what are probably earlier and later phases of religious literary creativity in Indian thought without going into the Sakta goddess doctrines or the various Sakta Upanisads. In the Rg-Veda...among the divinities...the most exalted 'female' symbolization of the sacred is the goddess Aditi. (Beane p. 109) She is known by others names depending on which attributes are discussed.
THE CONCEPT OF TIME
Even in their concept of time the Hindus are in the Fourth Yuga , the Kali, the shorter of the four periods of time, which in combination only totals 4,320,00 years, whereas Joseph's concept of time included the 2.5 billion years that had elapsed since the configuration of the sun-moon-and earth near the end of the third day (TC, Times and Seasons Vol 5, p. 751-757) leaving billions of years available for whatever time was needed for days l and 2 of the creational activity. Cosmology now considers the Big Bang to be 13.7 billion years old, the earth to be much older than the sun, which is considered to be about six billion years old and the moon not much older than 4.5 billion years, providing a limit for the beginning of the third day, making the third day nearly 4.5 billion years long. And what about the cosmos before the Big Bang? The first day of creation began when they went down (Who were they? Where is down? Where is up?) because there was matter there (What kind of matter? Where was there?), unorganized ready to be formed into a world. That same matter was available for other worlds that heretofore had been created. And what is time? ..."now is the time...the day of your salvation...this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God...to go no more out;" (Alma 34:31,32,36), refuting the idea of reincarnation, one of the later teachings that were added in that distorted the true doctrines.
"In the Beginning, the Head of the Gods, called a council of the Gods, the Gods came together and concocted a scheme to create this world and the inhabitants." (Joseph Smith in Cannon p. 43) This world was not created until after a Grand Council was held to create this world. It is only one of the earths created, (Moses 7: 30) and certainly not among the first, (Moses l:33) The total created worlds would have to exceed 10 to the 62nd required to meet the "If it were possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of they creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still." (Moses 7:30; See THE CREATION, on this web site). Compare anything else to the restoration and everything else falls far short. The inner Buddhaistic teachings and the Indian epics talk about many worlds, and seers who could course, 'travel,' through them and convey messages to the living. Much of this is in the Great Epic of India the THE MAHABBARATA. (van Buitenen p. xi)
In the Hindu vast collection of documents is the Epic THE MAHABBARATA, (Stutley p. 169) It contains unique doctrines that are found in D&C 76 and 84, the TEACHINGS OF JOSEPH SMITH, the Temple Ceremony and the Pearl of Great Price, perhaps transmitted from ancient Mesopotamia to India by ISHBAK, the fifth son of Keturah and Abraham. (This has been summarized in ISHBAH (ISHBAK), one of the series of entries in this web site). In the MAHABBARATA there are the doctrines of the RAJASUJYA , very ancient VEDIC ceremonies; a celebration of victory and royal inauguration and an anointing to be Kings and priests. (Stutley p. 244) Some aspects of the RAJASUYA will be mentioned below.
The very early doctrines were contained in documents no longer separately identified. The earliest doctrines were gathered together by persons unknown at a time unspecified, but it appears to have been sometime after 1900 B.C. In one chronology, Abraham was born about 2052 BC, he lived to be 175 years old. After Sarah died he married Keturah who bore him six sons, the records never mention daughters though he may have had some. It was his fifth son with Keturah, IBSHAK, born sometime after 1850 BC, who may have taken the doctrines his father Abraham had taught him, east to India. The earliest extant collection of doctrines became known as the VEDAS. "Veda Lit. means "knowledge" a term specifically applied to the "supreme sacred knowledge contained in the four collections called Vedas..." (Stutley p. 328) "Originally the Veda consisted of a single collection of sacred songs or hymns of praise, entitled the Rg-veda. To this was added ...the Sama-veda...and the Yajur-veda...divided into two sections ...the Black Yajus (a priestly manual for guidance) ...and the White Yajus." preserved in two different traditions. To this collection were appended the teachings of the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanisads (Upanishads). "Which form a kind of epilogue." (Stutely p. 325)
The epilogue documents for the most part of superseded the original teachings and are filled with bazaar and distorted interpretations and an attempt to make everything mysterious. The time that lapsed and the proliferation of texts and the absence of a central authority or prophets to lead them resulted in changes and additions filled with exaggerated and perverted interpretations. Later, the Vedangas (limbs) of the Veda were added. "Their original purpose was to ensure that each part of the sacrificial ceremonies was correctly performed." (Stutely p. 329) But no one really knew how the original ceremonies were actually performed. The doctrinal and ritual changes were so gradual that today one cannot tell easily what was original and true and what has been added in from time to time. The Upanishads, in a version by Muller (my copy), were very popular during the time of WW II when many were enthralled by esoteric philosophy. "The Aranyakas and Upanisads were finally regarded as the fulfillment of Vedic nascene aspirations and were therefore called the Vedanta, or end or conclusion...of the Veda." (Stutely p. 328) While represented as being the secret sacred teachings of the Vedas, they fell way short of what is now available in the restoration. However, what is found among the earliest sources, does show that certain unique doctrines were taught. Their retention in China will assist those interested in the history of doctrines and will be a confirmation that true doctrines did exist a long time ago and far far away. The collections proliferated greatly as time went on, so only a brief mention of doctrines, mostly confined to the Yajus or priestly manual and the Rajasuya ceremonies, will be made. This is not an exhaustive study, it is merely to point out that documents brought back to China about 652 AD by the intrepid Monk Xuangzang contain doctrines unique to the restoration. If the restoration is not true and Joseph Smith only made up or conjectured about ancient doctrines then there should be no parallels of any kind that could be considered unique. But if there are parallels, and there are many, then Joseph Smith and the restoration should be taken seriously. And if not, perhaps one might risk an eternity.
The RAJASUYA is a 'get to heaven' ceremony or How to get into heaven, and was described in Part 8 of this series, ascribed to the Mandaeans (also see the CD: THE MANDAEAN). The Vedas mention ascension episodes by various Seers, among the Seers is Narada a friend of Pandu. The MAHABBARATA is the story about the life of Pandu and his family. The Rajasuya is an ascension ceremony with hints as to its antiquity. "It is explicitly stated that it is to be performed by a king who wants to obtain access to heaven (svargakama). " (Hesterman p. 7) It became modified, distorted and finally lost much of its original character. As time went on "The RAJSUYA is performed by representatives of the three superior classes, brahmana, rajanya (including the Ksatr) and the vis or commonality." (Stutley p. 244) There is mention of a primordial war in heaven. According to the ancient texts, the rajasuya...is a process of "deification"...the elevation to the divine state." (Jones in Palmer p. 97)
"The Rajasuya, is without doubt an ascension ritually accomplished. The very first element of it is the prayaniya, a term which translates into ascension... The king is clothed in sacred garments ("The garment is connected with all the gods," says an ancient text, see the web site entry of Part 8 of this series, on THE MANDEANS), the garments are said to be marked in special ways, representative of the ceremony undertaken by the king. The garment consists of several parts, one of which is worn on the head (Widengren's crown in Mandaean texts), the ends of which are tied into the upper garment. Throughout the ritual the king is called by the name of the various gods, whom he is impersonating [proxy for]. He is taken back into primordial time and performs the same functions symbolically which the gods and the first king did at that time, by virtue of which they obtained heaven. The king is then enthroned on a throne which is addressed as being the navel of kingship and the cosmos. ..The king is given God's special knowledge in the form of learning those things which occurred in illo tempore, which lead to the gods becoming that which they have become...but its major function ...is for the king to attain heaven following death. " (E. T. Jones in Palmer pp. 96-97)
In the MAHABBARATA, the great and ancient Indian epic. there is also another function, "Narada, an ancient Vedic rishi or seer, was coursing through the heavenly worlds, visiting the various levels of heaven and discoursing with the inhabitants therein. He describes the various heavens and the people who inhabit them. He then visits the lowest heaven, [spirit paradise] that of the pitrs, or fathers, the ancestors of those then living on earth. One of these ...is a former king named Pandu. He had a special request to make of Narada. If Narada were to meet with his five sons when he returned to the earth would he please ask those sons to perform the rajasuya in behalf of their father? If they would, said Pandu, then he would be enabled to advance to the highest heaven wherein Indra [God] dwells. Upon encountering the five sons of Pandu, Narada stated: If thou performist that sacrifice [ritual or ceremony] thou shall then be able to go along with thy deceased ancestors into the same region that is inhabited by the chief of the immortals [Indra]. ... the five sons of Pandu of whom the Mahabbarata is their personal story, then perform that sacrifice [ceremony] in behalf of their dead ancestor. It is evident...that the rajasuya, while being primarily a ritual for the benefit of the living can be, if performed accordingly, a ritual in behalf of one's ancestors. In other words, it has vicarious value, as well as value for the living...In almost all of the ascension experiences[of which the Mahabbarata recounts many] the vicarious element has entered." (Jones in Palmer pp. 97-98) Note that Indra, the chief God, is considered to have once been a mortal, now he is chief of the immortals. The Mahabbarata is an epic essentially about Pandu and his family, all through the epic Narada the seer is mentioned as are other seers. There are many parallels that could be mined from this epic, to mention just a few: you were ordained to walk a path, do not step beyond it, [patriarchal blessings], one must follow the divine Seers, [follow the prophet] follow the scriptures, [read the scriptures], knowledge saves, [D&C 130:19; 42:61] do not kill time. (von Buitenen vol. l, pp, 188-205) "When indeed, and how soon, before we all shall meet with that man who will restore our bodies to us again.?" (Vol l, p. 404). Indra is the tutelary god of Indo-Aryans, initially regarded as the chief of the gods, to whom many Rgvedas and Vedas are addressed. Two gods are mentioned, Indra and Agni, later three are identified, as noted above, they are equal. (Stutley p. 118; See below on the Gods). Wasn't one of the great purposes of Jesus descending into the spirit world was to teach the inhabitants there and release them from their bondage so that they might gain access to heaven? (D&C 138:ll-17)
Origen (185-254), the most learned and original of the early church fathers, (Collocott p. 1004) writing in the third century implied that the prophets before Jesus up to and including John the Baptist, after finishing their earthly ministries resumed their ministries when entering the world of the dead. (D&C 138:57) He also indicated that Moses and Elijah following their visit with Jesus and the three apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration returned to the spirit world and told the inhabitants there that the Advent was soon to take place. Enoch, following his translation into heaven had spent his days teaching the children who died in infancy. ['Christ' instructs children prematurely dead, and is the teacher of souls of those who died in their childhood]. (Jones, in Palmer p. 98; Odeberg pp. 83, 91)
Buddah ascended into Tavatimsa, heaven, for the sole purpose of teaching his mother who had died when he was just seven days old and therefore had not heard the gospel her son was proclaiming on earth, the shaman receives his ascension calling so that he might learn the secrets of regaining the souls of those who are sick and or dead. The living can indeed be of benefit to their dead ancestors. Temple work for family is the epitome of Mormon doctrine and practice. The temple ceremony "... is an experience to give one "certainty," or as in the case of Buddha, to remove all uncertainty or doubt. The individual is given knowledge to sustain him throughout his earthly life. It must be one of the most exquisite and soul-inspiring messages written deep on the heart and mind of the righteous who is entitled to such an experience." (Jones in Palmer p. 99)
I was one of the first contributors to the fund for a new temple to be built in mainland China, exclusive of the Hong Kong Temple. I discussed the certainty of that temple personally with Elder Paker and Elder Holland in Nanking in China in the spring of 1981. The Church had already been recording Chinese records for eight months, for a temple archive. What else the Church is doing or has done to prepare for taking the restoration to China is not being discussed except a little here and there in the yearly Almanac and Church News.
THE THREE GODS
It might also be of interest to look at some of the early Gods held in high esteem before the proliferation of Gods in ancient Brahmanism and Hinduism. Brahmanism was appended to the Vedas at a later date, while Indra stayed as Chief of the Gods, but as time went on there was a proliferation of Gods in Brahmanism and therefore in Hinduism that became complex and distorted. "The principle deity of the Hindu pantheon was Brahma [the creator]... Brahma was the one self-created and self-subsisting being...["We say that God is a self-existent God. Who told you so? It's correct enough." (Joseph Smith in Cannon p. 49) "The older gods of the Vedic pantheon, especially Vishnu and Siva, took their places alongside of Brahma, thereby constituting a triad of deities relatively coequal." (Baldwin p. 125; D&C 130:22; A of F l) In the Brahmanas , a later development of doctrines unknown to the Rg-Vedas, [or older texts], Visnu (Vishnu) "became a deity of major importance and a member of the Hindu triad (trimurti) . He is the preserver of the universe, and the embodiment of goodness and mercy. To the Vaisnavas he is the Supreme Being from whom everything emanates." (D&C 88:12: Stutely p. 336) However he can be described and identified by two Doctrines: the "Doctrine of his 'descents" (avataras) to earth...to save mankind from suffering and wickedness, and his ritualistic pre-eminence as the personified Sacrifice." Who else in history but Christ fills these statements? (Stutely p. 336; Alma 34:10) The name Visnu is non-aryan, but here it certainly could be referring to Christ. On the three gods of Mormonism see Lundwall p. 266-267; Roberts p. 39.
THE HEAVENLY MOTHER
The doctrine of the mother goddess, or heavenly Mother, is one of most distorted of earlier teachings "in the dramatic and epic fashion in the asuras, [supplements], especially the Mahisasura." (Beane p. 94) The attempt is... to maintain and perpetuate a fundamental religious vision of time and eternity." (Ibid p. 98) She is considered "a loving mother." (Ibid p, 102) She was a goddess who "inspired"...she was present at the beginning...a power through whom the cosmogony is effected." (Beane p. 108) Throughout Brahmanism and Hinduism there is an "almost omnipresent ambiguity of Character in the Hindu divinities." (Ibid p. 115) She is the revealer of "the life force of the Universe that secretly dwells within all things. ...In ...the Kena Upanishad, where the mother goddess appears for the first time in the orthodox religious and philosophical tradition of India, she--[is] womanhood incarnate." (Ibid p. 117) Today Sakta Hindiusm places emphasis on the goddess as Mother. They also have developed the concept of an early diety as a destroyer [Lucifer?]. (Beane p. 134) Great changes occurred in Hinduism before the birth of Buddha, and even more have occurred during the fifth to the eleventh centuries AD. (Beane p. 138) Without direct access to the Lord how can you get it right? How could you even keep it right?
The vast collection of documents accumulated by most of the religions of the world testify quite clearly that most of the teachings are vague, bazaar, distorted, often perverted, and while drawing close to the Restored Gospel Doctrines, with their lips, they are far from Christ in doctrine.
There seems to be a perennial capacity in the human spirit for varieties of religious experience. "This historico-religious phenomenon is fundamentally confirmed even in the tendency of religionists in many places to bifurcate themselves into exoteric and esoteric orders or levels of spiritual comprehension and depth notwithstanding their claims of experiential authenticity." (Bean p. 130) This is a pedantic way of saying they have apostatized and constantly change doctrines. This seems to have happened to most religions that lost touch with and failed to transmit accurately original gospel doctrines they once had. Most religions of the world only retain a few of the original doctrines, but enough to demonstrate they did once have some of the truth. So lost where they that it was necessary to have everything restored again in these last days. Joseph Smith is the prophet and the Church is the vehicle for the restoration and the Restored Gospel is the accurate original message.
BALDWIN, James M., Dictionary of Philosophy, Macmillan Co., New York, 1940
BEANE , Wendell C., Myth, Cult and Symbols, in Sakta Hinduism, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1977
BLUNDEN, Caroline, & Mark Elvin, Cultural Atlas of China, Facts on File, New York, 1983
HEESTERMAN, J.C., The Ancient Indian Royal Consecration; the Rajasuya Described According to the Yajus Texts and Annotated, Mouton and Co., The Hague, 1957
CANNON, Donald Q & Larry E. Dahl, The Prophet Joseph Smith's King Follett Discourse, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1990
HEESTERJAH, J.C., The Ancient Indian Royal consecration; the Rajasuya described According to the Yajus Texts and Annotated, Mouton and Co., The Hague, 1957
KAGAN, Neil, Concise History of the World, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2005
UNDWALL, N.B., Temples of the Most High, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1993 ODEBERG, Hugo, 3 Enoch, The Hebrew Book of Enoch, Katav Publishing. New York, 1973 PALMER, Spencer J., Deity & Death, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 1978
ROBERTS, B. H., Divine Immanence and the Holy Ghost, The seventy's Course in Theology, 5th Year, Deseret News, 1912
SADDHATISSA, H., The Life of the Buddha, Harper & Row, New York, 1976 STUTLEY, Margaret & James, Harper's Dictionary of Hinduism, Harper & Row, N. Y., 1977 THORNE, J.O. & T.C. Collocott, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, W. & R. Chambers, Edinburgh, 1986
VAN BUITENEN, J.A.B., THE MAHABBARATA,Vols. 1-5, University of Chicago Press, 1973
WRIGGINS, Sally H., The Silk Road Journey with Xuanzang, Westview Press, Perseus Books Group, Boulder Colorado, 2004