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Prostration - Cultural & Religious Background

Prostration - Cultural & Religious Background

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Prostration - Cultural & Religious Background
Prostration - Cultural & Religious Background

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Published by: Abdul Khaliq Muhammad on Jun 25, 2014
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Prostration : Cultural Background
 is the placement of the body in a reverentially or  submissively  prone   position as a gesture. Typically prostration is distinguished from the lesser acts of   bowing  or kneeling  by involving a part of the body above the knee touching the ground, especially the hands. Major world religions employ prostration as an act of submissiveness or worship to a supreme being or other worshiped entities (i.e. God or the gods), as in the
, or to show reverence to persons or other elements of the religion. n various cultures and traditions, prostrations are similarly used to show respect to rulers, civil authorities and social elders or superiors, as in the !hinese kowtow or "ncient #ersian 
. The act has often traditionally been an important part of religious, civil and traditional rituals and ceremonies, and remains in use in many cultures.
Traditional religious practices
Many religious institutions (listed alphabetically below) use prostrations to embody the lowering, submitting or relin$uishing of the individual ego before a greater spiritual  power or presence.
Baha'i Faith
n the %ah&' aith, a single prostration is performed before the recitation of each obligatory prayer and in the case of traveling, a prostration is performed in place of each missed obligatory prayer  in addition to saying *Glorified be God, the +ord of Might and Majesty, of Grace and %ounty*. owever, if unable to do so, saying *Glorified be God* is sufficient.
 There are specifics about where the prostration can take place including, *God hath granted you leave to prostrate yourselves on any surface that is clean...* (01) and *e also condemns such practices as prostrating oneself before another person and other forms of behaviour that abase one individual in relation to another*. 023
n %uddhism, prostrations are commonly used and the various stages of the physical movement are traditionally counted in threes and related to the Triple Gem, consisting of4
the "wakened 5ne (6anskrit7#ali4
) (in this meaning, to own potential)
his teaching (6anskrit4
8 #ali4
his community (
) of noble disciples (
ariya- savaka
)n addition, different schools within %uddhism use prostrations in various ways, such as the Tibetan tantric preliminary practice of a 11,111 prostrations as a means of overcoming pride (see  9g:ndro).
 Tibetan pilgrims often progress by prostrating themselves fully at each step, then moving forward as they get up, in such a way that they have lain on their face on each part of their route. <ach three paces involves a full  prostration8 the number three is taken to refer to the Triple Gem. This is often done round a stupa, and in an e=tremely arduous pilgrimage, Mount >ailash is circumnavigated entirely by this method, which takes about four weeks to complete the 2? kilometre route.
n !hristianity, the <astern 5rthodo=, @oman !atholic and "nglican churches use full  prostrations, lying flat on the floor face down, only during the imposition of  oly 5rders,  @eligious #rofession and the !onsecration of Airgins. n the @oman !atholic and "nglican churches, partial prostrations (*profound bows*) can be used in place of genuflections for those who are unable to genuflect. The prostration is always performed  before God, and in the case of holy orders, profession or consecration the candidates  prostrate themselves in front of the altar which is a symbol of !hrist.+esser prostrations, lit., *low bows* (
) involving kneeling and touching the floor with the hands, but with the torso off the floor, are common in <astern 5rthodo= worship, and are used in conjunction with the 6ign of the !ross, at specific moments during the services and when venerating relics or  icons. owever, the use of prostrations is traditionally discouraged on the +ord's Bay (6unday), during #aschaltide (<aster season) and on Great easts of the +ord. Buring Great +ent, and oly Ceek , prostrations are especially encouraged in all the <astern !hurches (see #rayer of 6t. <phraim). 5rthodo= !hristian will also make prostrations in front of people (though in this case without the 6ign of the !ross, as it is not an act of veneration or divine worship), such as the  bishop, one's spiritual father  or one another when asking forgiveness (in particular at the Aespers service which begins Great +ent on the afternoon of the 6unday of orgiveness.) Those who are physically unable to make full prostrations may instead substitute
 (bows at the waist).5riental 5rthodo= also prostrate during daily prayers. 6yrian 5rthodo= !hristians should  prostrate during all daily prayers, e=cept on days which the oly +iturgy is celebrated.
n induism, eightDlimbed (
ashtanga pranama
) and fiveDlimbed (
 panchanga pranama
)  prostrations are included in the religious ritual of  puja.
Main article4 6ujudn slam, prostrations (
, plural of
) are used to praise, glorify and humble oneself in front of "llah, and are a vital part of the five obligatory  prayers   performed daily8 this is deemed obligatory for every Muslim whether the prayers are  being performed individually or in congregation.
 "dditionally, the thirtyDsecond chapter (
) of the ur'an is titled "sD6ajdah (*The #rostration*4 see ;?4 
), while the "rabic word
 (also meaning prostration) appears about I1 times in the ur'an, a fact which many Muslim scholars claim to be another e=ample of its significance in slam.
"ccording to a traditional account of the words and deeds of  Muhammad as contained in the collection of hadith of bn Majah, Muhammad is reported to have said that *The  prayer -salah/ is a cure for many diseases*. n another hadith he is also said to have advised people to perform prostration calmly and to get up only when the body has come to ease.
t is also important to note that in slam, prostration to any one but "llah is absolutely forbidden. Muhammad strictly prohibited Muslims from prostrating before him, because  prostration should only be performed to "llah, not to creatures. @egardless of the circumstances, no Muslim should re$uest, or even accept, it from others.
n Jainism, there is a great importance placed on prostration, especially when a devotee is in the temples or in front of high souls.
 t represents the surrendering of ego.
n Judaism, the Tanakh and Talmudic te=ts as well as writings of Gaonim and @ishonim  indicate that prostration was very common among Jewish communities until some point during the Middle "ges. n Mishneh Torah, Maimonides states full prostration (with one's body pressed flat to the earth) should be practiced at the end of the "midah, recited thrice daily. Members of the >araite denomination practice full prostrations during  prayers. Traditionally, 5rthodo= "shkenaKi Jews prostrated during @osh ashana and Hom >ippur , as did Hemenite Jews during the Tachanun part of daily Jewish prayer. <thiopian Jews traditionally prostrated during a holiday specific to their community known as
 comes from a root word meaning prostration in Ge'eK, "ramaic, and "rabic. There is a movement among
 to revive prostration as a regular part of daily Jewish worship.

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