This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Lorenzen, David N.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Volume 27, Number 1, 2007, pp. 203-213 (Article) Published by Duke University Press
For additional information about this article
Access Provided by Universitaetsbibliothek Heidelberg at 11/03/12 6:18PM GMT
these European (and American) studies of Asian religions were gradually transmuted into a discourse on what became know as “world religions. The scholarly literature on the history of the Jesuits is. God’s Soldiers: Adventure. Scholarly works by earlier missionaries had mostly remained in manuscript and sometimes did not reach Europe even in this form. of course. Confucianism. Largely because these new administrator orientalists were much better financed than the missionaries had been. Vo i do © le idd 1. Orientalists. 2004). and Power. During the nineteenth century. many of them Jesuits. began to undertake their own studies of Asian religions and cultures. O’Malley. Hinduism. The ﬁrst two essays are republished in David N. Another advantage of the administrator orientalists was that they were usually influenced by the more open and secular intellectual spirit associated with the eighteenthcentury European Enlightenment. MA: Harvard University Press. including Christian missionary scholars.Gentile Religion in South India. N 121 1 0. especially those associated with the colonial projects of the British and French. enormous. I have discussed the issues raised in this paragraph in three recent essays: “Who Invented Hinduism?” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42 (1999): 630–59. 1993). and other Asian religions in Asia itself were almost all Catholic missionaries. 1540–1773 (The Jesuits from Their Origins to Their Suppression. I thank Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi. o. 1. and the other scholars attending the conference for their comments on my oral presentation. the conference organizer. The name stuck and is now used loosely for almost any pre-twentieth-century European scholar of Asian cultures. Politics.” a historical process that has been extremely well analyzed by This essay grew out of a presentation for the Buddhism and Orientalism conference held in the University of Toronto on 11 March 2006. Useful general surveys include John W. The First Jesuits (Cambridge. and Tibet: Studies by Three Jesuit Missionaries David N. Many of these scholars had a deep personal commitment to Christianity. and “Marco della Tomba and the Brahmin from Banaras: Missionaries.” Journal of Asian Studies 65 (2006): 113–41. and Jonathan Wright. Sabina Pavone. Particularly in India. e d St u ca ies an of d A u th M si a ri Af Ea th e l. 2004). m Co So ra pa ti v . “Europeans in Late Mughal India: The Perceptions of Italian Missionaries. Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge. 07 08 5 /1 D 92 by e uk Un ty r si Pre 20 203 . O’Malley. st 20 07 0 20 1xi ve 06 .” Indian Economic and Social History Review 40 (2003): 1–31. a History of the Jesuits (New York: Doubleday. I gesuiti dalle origini alla soppressione. they were much more successful in getting the results of their researches published and then distributed in Europe. I also thank Elisabetta Corsi for her comments on a draft of the present essay. 2000).1 After this date. Who Invented Hinduism? Essays on Religion in History (New Delhi: Yoda. these administrator scholars were called orientalists. MA: Harvard University Press. 1540–1773 ) (Rome-Bari: Editori Laterza. Intrigue. China. 2006).05 3 ss 2 7. the European scholars who directly studied Buddhism. Lorenzen. Lorenzen efore about 1775. secular scholarly administrators stationed in Asian countries. The new flood of works on Asian religions produced in Asia by the administrator orientalists—and the eventual arrival in Europe of manuscripts of the classical texts of Asian religions written in the original Asian languages—fostered an explosion of studies on Asian religions by armchair scholars who lived and worked in Europe. and Native Scholars.
and the comments by Nicolas Standaert in his L’ “autre” dans la mission: Leçons à partir de la Chine (The “Other” in the Mission: Lessons from China) (Brussels: Éditions Lessius. ed. 1997). Italian gentile (pl. Jensen on Confucianism. neither the early European missionaries nor later secular European scholars played more than a marginal role in the construction of these religious categories. E. Invention. See especially the review by Paul Rule in Journal of Chinese Religion 27 (1999): 105–11. undifferentiated collections of religious beliefs and practices that had no real unity and were not conceptualized as having any real unity by the people who held these beliefs and followed these practices. before the nineteenth century European Christians most often divided the peoples of the world into four religions: Christian. Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese Traditions and Universal Civi- lization (Durham. Chinese. Vasudha Dalmia and Heinrich von Stietencron (New Delhi: Sage. 11–27. by Philip C. “Hinduism: On the Proper Use of a Deceptive Term. Masuzawa. G. 2003).4 The present essay extends and modifies these arguments. Thus we have French gentil . The argument about the use of such arbitrary differences to establish religious boundaries is largely borrowed from the anthropologist Fredrik Barth. Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory.” in Hinduism Reconsidered. 46–64. My basic claim is that the missionaries organized their religious categories principally on the basis of categories already elaborated by the Asians themselves and that these native categories were constructed by emphasizing. repr. 96–109. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969. who lived in south India from 1605 until his death. These missionaries are Matteo Ricci (1552–1610). using as examples texts by three Italian Jesuit missionaries who worked in different areas of Asia well before 1775. 1988). Jensen. Lorenzen. The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Tibetan texts that these three missionary scholars studied. ed. IL: Waveland.” in Representing Hinduism: The Construction of Religious Traditions and National Identity. and Ippolito Desideri (1684–1733). 2. Almond on Buddhism. Fredrik Barth. 82. 2005). All that existed were chaotic. Roberto Nobili (1577–1656). Llewellyn (London: Equinox. .3 In the case of the invention of Hinduism. India. Who Invented Hinduism? 5.204 Co S m ra pa ti v f . I am thinking particularly of recent studies by Heinrich von Stietencron and others on Hinduism. They were constructed mainly by the Hindus. Stietencron. The Invention of World Religions: Or. who was in Tibet from 1715 to 1721. I have elsewhere argued against the view that this religion was in any significant sense invented by nineteenth-century European scholars and for the view that the Hindus themselves had become quite conscious of their Hindu identity by at least 1400 and probably several hundred years earlier. in a relatively arbitrary way. NC: Duke University Press. 1998). “Unity and Plurality: Hinduism and the Religions of India in Early European Scholarship. Kulke (Delhi: Manohar. gentili ). In this essay I examine how these three missionaries categorized the Asian sects and religions they encountered and offer a discussion of why their categories are organized in the ways that they are. In this view. e ie tu d so So Af M A u th si a ri c n aa dt he le idd Ea st Tomoko Masuzawa in her recent book The Invention of World Religions. specific doctrinal and ritual differences. Jew. Almond. Will Sweetman..6 Gentiles and Christians As is well known. 3. Muslim. and Confucians themselves. who spent most of his adult life in China.5 In my view. ed.” “imagine. these three were probably the best European scholars of the Asian religions dominant in these cultural areas. these religions simply did not exist as conceptual entities before these European scholars invented them. How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tomoko Masuzawa. who uses a similar argument to explain the construction of ethnic boundaries.7 In romance languages. D. “Religious Conﬁgurations in Pre-Muslim India and the Modern Concept of Hinduism.” or “manufacture” these Asian religions. Jensen’s book has been sharply criticized by some scholars. Heinrich von Stietencron.” in Defining Hinduism: A Reader. Philip C. Since I cannot directly read the Tamil. 7. 1989).2 Over the past fifteen or twenty years other academic scholars have interpreted the explosion of European studies on Asian religions in such a way that they claim that the nineteenthcentury European authors of these studies in fact were the first to “invent. 51–81. and Richard King. Lionel M. 6. J. the term for “heathen” was normally some cognate of the English word gentile . 1999). Buddhists. by Lionel M. and “the Mystic East” (London: Routledge. 2005). 1995). Until the professionalization of secular academic studies of Asia in European universities in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sontheimer and H. Long Grove. and by scholars such as Richard King on the topic of orientalism and religion in general. most of my discussion is based on texts the missionaries wrote in Italian or on texts they wrote in Asian languages or in Latin that have been translated into English or Italian. and heathen. 4.
however. were worshippers of Zeus or Jupiter and the other gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons. as the word “Gentoo”). however. and with South. the leaders of which were both literate and conscious of their own discrete (or mostly discrete) religious identities. early Christian writers began to classify Christians. or heathen. with Africa. the Gentiles. Soon. are said to fall into two somewhat antagonistic groups. the category of Gentile. imagined. Another way was to identify the sects according to the socioreligious class of their leaders. the Muslims were added as another separate category and usually were not listed among the Gentiles or heathens. The slightly later book. of a country. After the rise of Islam. hence it has become not only an ethnic but also a religious category. As is commonly known. became an omnibus catchall that was applied to anyone who was not a Christian or Jew. although the more discerning missionaries also often made clear distinctions among the different “sects” of Gentiles. Here “the disciples. As is implied by Paul’s assumption that Greek and Gentile were synonymous. pagans. and Desideri—divided up the different Gentile religions and sects that they encountered. presents a somewhat different classification. Jews. The general aim is to reinforce and widen the argument that the religions of Asia were not first invented. Thus the religion of the Hindus was sometimes identified as the sect of the Brahmins. especially in Asia. after about AD 1500 the European world economy rapidly expanded to include a much higher level of trade and contact with the Americas. Nobili. and the religion of the Buddhists as the sect of the Lamas (in Tibet) or the sect of the bonzes (in China or Japan). were put into close contact with a great variety of Asian religious traditions. The more specific aim is to look at the specific religious categories the missionaries did propose and comment on the similarities and differences with the now mostly accepted scholarly categories. 205 Gentile Religion in Asia David N. Ideally. European Christians.” Already in the writings of Saint Paul. Gentiles. and the Buddhists could be called Tibetan Gentiles or (one kind of) Chinese Gentiles or Ceylonese Gentiles or Japanese Gentiles.” as the Christians are called. and used mostly during the eighteenth century. however. the word translated as “Gentile” (in Greek ethnikoi ) comes to mean anyone who is not a Jew. or manufactured by secular European scholars in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. All these words are derived from Latin gentilis. or heathens. Thus the Hindus (in a religious sense) could be called Indian Gentiles or Hindustani Gentiles or Nepali Gentiles. One way that missionaries distinguished among the sects of these different Gentile traditions was to identify them by geocultural or ethnic identity. and Spanish gentil . Southeast. The specific empirical question I want to address in this essay is that of how the missionaries in Asia—particularly Ricci. Sometimes Paul uses the words Gentile and Greek as synonyms. Before the beginning of the nineteenth century. most notably when he makes equivalent contrasts between Jew versus Greek and Jew versus Gentile in his “Letter to Romans. or (in Spanish America) infidels (infieles). Gentile religion was originally identified primarily with Greek and Roman paganism. and East Asia. Acts of the Apostles (6:1).” Modern scholars have suggested that the Hellenists were Greek-speaking Jewish Christians who followed the Jewish law less strictly than the Hebrew Christians. As the geographical and cultural knowledge of the early Christians spread. Thus a Jew can become a Jewish Christian and a Gentile can become a Gentile Christian. Lorenzen . The separate status of the Muslims was probably due in part to the fact that they soon became quite well known to the Christian world and in part to the fact that the history of Islam was intertwined with both Jewish and Christian traditions. most notably European missionaries. the “Hellenists” and the “Hebrews. and Gentiles as three separate groups distinguished primarily by religious affiliation rather than by ethnic identity or by language. a national. most Christian missionaries continued to refer to the followers of all these various religious traditions usually as heathens.” Paul also seems to assume that both Jews and Gentiles can become Christians without losing at least the ethnic part of their Jewish and Gentile identities. usually meaning “of a gens or clan.Portuguese gentio (adopted into English.
My own impression is that before about 1700 Catholic missionaries most often used the word sect when they were referring either to any religion or to any sect in the sense of an institution comprising a doctrine. including not only Christianity. Now these sects are so antagonistic to one another they cannot possibly have one common religious emblem. . as consisting of a plurality of religions. . Sweetman cites a discussion by Nobili about how the hostile relations among various sects of Indian gentiles made it impossible for them to share a single religious emblem. and Islam but also Buddhism. “the Muhammadan sect”) as well as referring to sects within religions. however. but the word religion itself began to be often used in the modern sense of a major religion. Sweetman argues that Nobili uses the word sect in such a way that “he does not appear to have drawn the rigid distinction between religion and sect implied in Stietencron’s account of his work” (88). a definition that requires elements such as doctrinal orthodoxy and a common deity.” After 1700. the ways in which early Christian missionaries in precolonial south India such as Roberto Nobili. Sweetman is claiming that when Nobili writes about the plurality of Indian sects. Rather. Sweetman claims that Nobili regarded Indian religion to be divided up into a plurality of sects that had little in common. Nobili says. with of course the exception of the Christian Church itself. . Sweetman says. which are used by all these sects in common. The nineteenth-century practice of conceptualizing all or most of these as world religions that Masuzawa so well details still had not been reached. Hinduism. Sweetman notes that the modern scholars Heinrich von Stietencron and Richard King have recently argued that the Christian presupposition of a fourfold division of world religions “made it impossible for European writers to perceive [the] religious plurality” that in fact exists within what came to be known as Hinduism. Thus they refer. however. Nonetheless. Indian religiosity was initially conceived. Thus the argument put forward by King and Stietencron for denying that Hinduism may appropriately be called a religion depends upon a particular monothetic [essentialist] definition of a religion. Therefore the string and tuft. and followers. cannot be the emblem of any of those sects in particular” (86). On this supposedly clear basis. This sense is still used today when religion is spoken of in a generic sense in phrases such as “the study of religion” or “a university department of religion” or “a personal sense of religion.” 84. rituals. among other things. Judaism. “Unity and Plurality. 8 Sweetman sharply criticizes Stietencron’s rather outlandish statement that “it never occurred to [missionaries like Nobili] that they might have to do with different faiths because their conceptual framework regarding the religions of this world had no room for any new creed other than the superstitious creed of the followers of Satan” (85). both to the Muhammadan sect and to the Vaishnava sect and only rarely use the word religion for either. which entirely disagree with one another in the question of religion and adoration of the divinity.g. Sweetman argues not only that such plurality in fact existed—and hence factually contradicted the idea of a single Hindu religion— but also that Nobili and Ziegenbalg were quite aware of this fact and did “describe and analyze such plurality” (84). “There are among these gentiles. . require monothetic definition in order to be useful analytic tools. and Henry Lord (in India in the 1620s) categorized the sects and religions they encountered.206 Co S m ra pa ti v f . The terms “Hinduism” and “religion” do not. a decisive step in this direction was already taken when the 8. Sweetman. as in the work of Nobili. Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg (1683–1719).. In addition. the word sect seems to have often continued to refer to what are now called religions (e. for example. (94-95) In support of his position. several sects. and even Confucianism and Taoism. e ie tu d so So Af M A u th si a ri c n aa dt he le idd Ea st A recent article by Will Sweetman discusses. Before 1700 the word religion seems to have usually referred to religion in the general sense of a way of conceptualizing the relation between man and God (or some other supernatural being). he is in fact claiming that the Indians follow a number of different religions and not different sects of one single religion (although all the sects may be loosely classified as belonging to the category of Gentile religion). In other words.
at least as a conceptual and linguistic category. Missionary Tropics: The Catholic Frontier in India (Sixteenth–Seventeenth Centuries) (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1999). (38–39) Besides these four “main sects” of idolaters. 2005). with Christianity itself.former sects began to be called religions. and set him up as the supreme deity. are described as “theologians” whose purpose is “to reject all idols and by the sole light of reason to investigate the nature of God” (30). for their part.” is itself divided into four main sects. and for allowing Christian converts to maintain traditional customs so long as he felt these customs were not specifically religious. SJ. 1972).” The Gyanis. with it destruction. 1959). Visnu . the Gnanis. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1597 and arrived in the Portuguese-controlled city of Goa. Two more traditional biographies are those of Vincent Cronin. Zupanov. The First Oriental Scholar (Tirunelveli. 1971). includes Latin edition and English translation by S. [and] Rudhren in whom all sovereignty abides in such a way. . who likewise attribute to Visnu alone the supremacy of power and divinity but who on certain points differ from the Vaisnavas. the “Sciandravadis [Candra-vadins]. The most recent scholarly biography of Nobili is that of Ines G. namely Rudren.” which he also calls “schools of theologians. Nobili identifies three principal Indian “religious sects. Gentile Religion in Asia David N. some are described as sons of the supreme gods. viewing all other gods as his subordinates. with the government of the world. . He is famous for having adopted the dress of learned Brahmins. Roberto Nobili Before continuing with this discussion. Roberto de Nobili on Adaptation. Rajamanickam. others as their servants. 11. and Nobili. Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in SeventeenthCentury India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. India: De Nobili Research Institute. As to the many other gods they also worship. and S. 1972). that the first is credited with creating everything the world contains. The former has been published in English translation under the title Roberto de Nobili on Indian Customs and the latter as Roberto de Nobili on Adaptation. since this change of terminology had the inevitable effect of granting other religions parity. as his attendants.10 Here I want particularly to look at Nobili’s classification of Indian sects in his Informatio. He died in Mylapore in 1656 at age seventy-eight. however. The Buddhists are said to “pose as atheists” and to follow a “system 9.” the “Mavivadis [?].” the “Suriavadis [Surya-vadins]. SJ (Palayamkottai. He spent most of his remaining years in the south Indian cities of Madurai and Mylapore (Madras-Chennai) and the Sri Lankan city of Jaffna.9 Nobili was born in 1577 in Rome. and the idolaters.” This third group. namely Visnu. Roberto de Nobili on Adaptation. who hold in equal honour the three gods Brumma . Roberto de Nobili. Nobili’s principal scholarly works in Latin are his Informatio de quibusdam moribus nationis indicae and his Narratio fundamentorum quibus madurensis missionis institutum . one that corresponds closely to what would today be called “Hinduism. Lorenzen [that] is very subtle. Nobili’s third sect or theological school is that of the “Worshippers of idols” or “Idolaters. Roberto de Nobili on Indian Customs.”11 These are the Buddhists. others as heroes. the two others as well as the minor gods—so they assert—figuring as Ruddren [sic] under various names according to the various functions he discharges. bristling with fallacies. India: De Nobili Research Institute. The second sect of the Idolaters is that of the Xaivas . India: De Nobili Research Institute. 29. or else considering them as Visnu himself under different names. He also wrote several expositions of Christian doctrine and criticisms of Hindu doctrines directly in Tamil. in 1605. He knew both Tamil and Sanskrit and wrote scholarly texts in Latin based on classical texts in both these languages. it may be useful to give a short biographical sketch of Roberto Nobili. Here is what Nobili says about them: 207 . he also mentions several minor sects such as the “Logaidas [Lokayatas]”. India. who in like manner single out one of the above three. Rajamanickam. Zupanov. . includes Latin edition and English translation by S. The Vamas are said to 10. the third. The third sect is that of [the] Vaisnavas. including the sacred thread. Also useful is the excellent new study of early Jesuit missionaries in India by Ines G. who of the three chief gods select one. SJ. A Pearl to India: The Life of Roberto de Nobili (New York: Dutton.” the “Vamas [Vamacaris]. In this text. The fourth sect is that of the Tadvavadis [Tattva-vadins]. or rather. Rajamanickam. the second. The first is that of the Mayavadis . Nobili. SJ (Palayamkottai.” and the “Aginagers [?]” (39).
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (Harmondsworth. UK: Penguin Books. Matteo Ricci Matteo Ricci was born twenty-five years before Roberto Nobili. Ricciardolo. Important specialized studies include those of G. the Vaishnavas with the teacher Ramanuja. I discuss passages from Ricci’s La storia dell’introduzione del Cristianesimo in Cina (The History of the Introduc- . 2005). Spence. Italy. tion of Christianity into China ). Nobili explicitly states that the Buddhists are historically and theologically quite distinct from the idolaters. e ie tu d so So Af M A u th si a ri c n aa dt he le idd Ea st “attribute divine nature and supreme dominion to the god Siacti [Sakti]” (39). a sect related to the north Indian Naths or Kanphata Yogis. 1985). and the Tattvavadins with the teacher Madhva. are curiously absent. however.” as Sweetman suggests. Nobili in effect is claiming an overall family identity of the various idolater sects as part of a single composite idolater “sect. with an introduction and notes by Douglas Lancashire and Pere Hu Kuochen. especially in this relatively late period. Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden.12 Ricci’s surviving writings mark him as quite possibly the greatest Christian missionary-scholar of all time. He arrived in Macao in 1582 and passed the rest of his life in China. Nobili associates the Mayavadins with the teacher Sankaracarya. and. The introduction to the latter work is important. D’Elia (Rome: La Libreria dello Stato. Whatever the answers may be to such questions. is somewhat doubtful. Although most modern scholars would place the Tamil Siddhas among the Hindus. 1942–49). 1985). Nobili’s division of primary sects and the further sectarian divisions of the idolaters certainly does raise many questions for contemporary scholars. In this essay. I think. 3 vols. for the most part. he set sail for the Orient in 1578. Mungello. written in either Tamil or Sanskrit. who form the major Saiva sect in the south. SJ (Taipei: Ricci Institute. Among the four main sects. He does not. whom Nobili must have met. he adds. For example. the Siddhas do follow both beliefs and practices of a radically heterodox character.208 Co S m ra pa ti v f . nor is he propounding a radical “religious plurality. what today would be called the Hindu religion or Hinduism. since the Lokayatas are traditionally described as philosophical materialists whose existence. they cannot “be said to be an unorthodox offspring of the sects of idolaters” (36). ed. Pasquale M. In some of these cases. Most presentday scholars of Hindu religion—except perhaps those tied to an extreme postmodern. trans.” as Stietencron would have it. By making these various sects all part of one single idolater sect. Oriente e Occidente negli scritti di Matteo Ricci ( East and West in the Writings of Matteo Ricci ) (Naples: Chirico. as sharply distinguish the Gyanis from the idolaters. The four principal idolater sects mentioned by Nobili can be easily identified as major Hindu sects and theological schools that were and mostly remain important in south India: the Mayavadins are the followers of the Advaita-Vedantin philosopher Sankaracarya. and passages from Ricci’s T’ien-chu Shih-i (The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven). D. Was Nobili partly confusing the Buddhists and the Jains? One also wonders about the inclusion of the Lokayatas among the minor sects. the Jains. 1985). and the Tattvavadins are the Vaishnava followers of the Dvaita-Vedantin philosopher Madhvacarya. still today. it is obvious that Nobili is certainly not lumping all the Gentiles together as simple “followers of Satan. than on his own direct observation. the Vaishnavas are the Sri-Vaishnava followers of the devotional poets known as Alvars and the philosopher Ramanuja. constructionist agenda—would. and D. 12. but they are likely the same as the Tamil Siddhas. so it is not surprising that Nobili would separate them from the more orthodox idolaters. perhaps he was relying more on traditional surveys of Hindu and non-Hindu schools of thought. arriving in Goa in the same year. A good and readable biography of Ricci is J.. two of the minor idolater sects—the Mavivadis and the Aginager—cannot be easily identified. Born in Macerata. In addition. There is room for some doubt about who these Gyanis actually were. In fact the divisions Nobili proposes are not very different from those that most contemporary scholars would approve. One also wonders if the Buddhists were still as active in the south India of the early seventeenth century as Nobili’s account implies.” namely. the Saivas are probably mainly the Saiva-siddhantins. largely accept Nobili’s categories as accurate representations of how south Indian Hindu sects were divided in Nobili’s time and.
and the (Nestorian) Christians. published a translation into Chinese of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry.13 209 In the discussion that follows in Ricci’s text. Ricci has his two scholars discuss the theological implications of the views of the Buddhists. To this the Western scholar replies as follows: The “nothing” spoken of by Lao Tzu and the “voidness” taught by the Buddha are totally at variance with the doctrine concerning the Lord of Heaven.” and made “voidness” the end [of all effort]. the Confucians. True Meaning. however. 99. and wrote in Italian the massive History of the Introduction of Christianity into China .” and made “nothing” the Way [of Life]. Ricci then not only discusses in detail the theological implications of the views of the Buddhists. and Taoist religions. Shaozhou. the Taoists. In addition he drew up and eventually published a world map with labels written in Chinese and developed. using medieval European techniques. they would seem to be close to the truth. La storia. Sakyamuni Buddha] and that of Lao-tzu” (115). the Jews. Like Nobili he also adopted local dress (fi rst that of a Buddhist monk.. and Taoism but also considerable knowledge of the different schools of Buddhism and Confucianism. This included a clear view not only of the distinction among the schools of Confucius. and Confucius are compared. published a number of his own works in Chinese. most of them expositions of Christian doctrine and criticisms of Confucian ideas. his own style of memory training. the Formosan [Leuchiei ]. When it comes to the “existence” and “sincerity” of the Confucians. 1:108–14.e. as are the neighboring kingdoms that use Chinese writing such as the Japanese. and philosophical views of Buddha. Buddhist.with residences in the cities of Zhaoqing. the Korean. later that of a Confucian scholar) and allowed local converts to maintain traditional customs that he considered not to be specifically religious. and the Confucians but also discusses the historical spread of Buddhism from India to China and Japan and the differences in the moral and social codes of the fol- 13. He adds that “the whole of China is divided among these three [laws]. Nanjing. Lorenzen . the Taoists. each with its own teaching.14 Ricci claims that the Chinese do not consider that any of these three religions deserve to be called laws and they “do not talk about them or dispute with them in their books” (114). Given his great intellectual abilities and zeal for learning. where he died in 1610. I wonder who. it is not surprising that Ricci developed a quite accurate understanding of the main currents of Chinese thought and religion. Gentile Religion in Asia David N. the Chinese scholar of the dialogue says the following: In our China there are three religions. Ricci’s Chinese-language text titled (in translation) The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (T’ien-chu Shih-i ) is a hypothetical dialogue between a Chinese scholar and a Western scholar in which the moral. Nanchang. He used his own astounding feats of memory to impress the Chinese and help win Chinese converts. Ricci begins his analysis of the religious sects in China with a discussion of the three major laws (leggi ) imported from outside China in earlier times: those of the Muslims. The Confucians say: “In the processes of Yi there exists the Supreme Ultimate” and therefore make “existence” the basic principle [of all things] and “sincerity” the subject of the study of self-cultivation. Buddhism. is correct. Ricci. and the Western Christians in great detail. Ricci then notes that the Chinese “say that only three different laws exist. The Buddha taught that “the visible world emerges from voidness. that of Sakya [Sciechia] [i. and the Cochin Chinese” (115). and it is therefore abundantly clear that they do not merit esteem. namely that of the literati. Lao-tzu. Although Ricci in fact partly misunderstood some important aspects of Chinese thought—as the translators Douglas Lancashire and Peter Hu Kuo-chen make clear in their introduction—there is not any doubt that he understood and distinguished the basic doctrinal features of the Confucian. in your revered view. Lao Tzu said: “Things are produced from nothing. although I have not heard a complete explanation of the meaning of these words. and finally Beijing. In his Italian-language text titled La storia dell’introduzione del Cristianesimo in China . religious. 14. Ricci. In chapter 2. He began a translation into Italian of the Chinese classical Four Books .
. SX. what today are called religions) and the minor sects (i. 1712–1727 (London: George Routledge and Sons.). . but many of his letters have been translated into English by H. Although they also As in the case of Nobili. A good biography of Desideri in Italian is that of A. As far as the followers of the Buddha. repr. always going from bad to worse. 15. SJ. 17. Luca. Nel Tibet Ignoto: Lo straordinario viaggio di Ippolito Desideri ( In Unknown Tibet: The Extraordinary Voyage of Ippolito Desideri ) (Bologna: E. J. See also Ippolito Desideri. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. 18. 1989). 16. Ricci.210 Co S m ra pa ti v f . S. Ricci clearly identified both the major sects (i. and all the new teachers claiming to give a longer life.18 He also wrote several texts in Tibetan. There also exists an abridged English translation by F. in reality there are more than three hundred sects in this kingdom. published as An Account of Tibet: The Travels of Ippolito Desideri of Pistoia. Il T’o-rans. OFM Cap. Lo Sñin-po (Essenza della dottrina cristiana) . Political events persuaded him then to move to a village in Takpo Khier (Dvags-po-k’yer) Province. Desideri’s greatest work is his Relazione (formally titled Notizie istoriche del Thibet e memorie de’ viaggi e missione ivi fatta dal P. 1:131. The others of the second class are the adepts of the red hat. 1981). Also useful are the introduction to Ippolito Desideri. Il T’o-rans (L’aurora) . Invention. pts. Desideri. and Lao-tzu are concerned. India: Capuchin Ashram. But the Devil [il demonio] was not content with just this.. ed. 1 of Opere Tibetane di Ippolito Desideri S. but he certainly did understand the basic elements of the process.. de Filippi of Desideri’s Relazione. Confucius. (Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. written in Italian in Rome after his return to Italy in 1727. all with introduction.16 Ippolito Desideri Ippolito Desideri entered Tibet from India in 1715 and was in Lhasa from March 1716 until about the end of 1717. most notably those of transmigration and beginningless causality. S. .e. 19. Ippolito Desideri. and perhaps Ricci did not realize the full extent of its spread. and translation from Tibetan to Italian by Giuseppe Toscano. what are called sects) of the regions in which he worked. J. . and translation from Tibetan to Italian by Giuseppe Toscano. vol. He was mostly in this village until he left Tibet on his way to Nepal and India.. He distinguishes between the lamas who wear red hats (berretton rosso) and those who wear yellow hats (berretton giallo): There are two principal sorts of religious adepts [religiosi ] in Tibet.15 Perhaps the Asian spread of Buddhism had to be rediscovered in Europe two hundred years later. Il ‘Byun k’uns (L’origine degli esseri viventi e di tutte le cose) and Il Nes legs (Il Sommo Bene e Fine Ultimo) . vols. almost all of which are now available in Italian translations by Giuseppe Toscano. The point about understanding the spread of Buddhism is important since it shows that the European discovery of the expansion and relative unity of Buddhism throughout Asia was not first made in the nineteenth century. 2–4 of Opere Tibetane di Ippolito Desideri S. although I have named only three. Desideri criticizes various Tibetan Buddhist doctrines.. and each day other new ones sprout up. La storia. S. 122. 1982. The adepts of the fi rst class are those of the yellow hat. with ever more corrupt customs. 1998). the leader of whom is the Great Lama of the Potala. Not much has been written about Desideri in English. and that they call Uba. 1954–56). as even so careful a scholar as Masuzawa assumes. Masuzawa. 1976). Ippolito Desideri . e ie tu d so So Af M A u th si a ri c n aa dt he le idd Ea st lowers of each of the three sects and also recognizes the existence of very many subsects in each (115–31). J. Tibetan text. thus each one of these [three sects] was multiplied through so much time and so many teachers that they became very many more. 1987). [known as Relazione] ( Historical Reports of Tibet and Memoirs of the Voyages and Missions Carried out There by Ippolito Desideri . Vannini. ) (Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. Ippolito Desideri . Altogether he was in Tibet for about six and one-half years. Ricci says the following: These are the three original leaders [capi ] of these gentiles [questa gentilità].e. (1713–21) (1929. . Desideri demonstrates a reasonably clear understanding of the history and principal sectarian divisions of Tibetan Buddhism..17 For part of this time he lived and studied in the monasteries called Ramoccè (Ra-mo-c’e) and Serà (Se ra).I. J. 1937). (Tibetan Works of Ippolito Desideri. Petech in his I missionari italiani nel Tibet e nel Nepal. The Bell of Lhasa (Agra. Hosten.). SX. L. A Missionary in Tibet: Letters and Other Papers of Fr. Ricci calls these three Chinese religions not only “laws” but also “sects” (sette) and (apparently referring to their founders) “heads” or “leaders” (capi ). In these Tibetan texts. Notizie istoriche del Thibet e memorie de’ viaggi e missione ivi fatta dal P. and in this way. introduction.M. Desideri. Tibetan text. 5–7 (Rome: Istituto Poligraﬁco dello Stato. and Giuseppe Toscano’s introduction to Desideri. The story of Desideri’s difﬁcult relations with the Italian Capuchins who were also in Lhasa in the same period has been told from a Capuchin point of view in F. 1984. in Ippolito Desideri. J. . and argues for the superiority of Christianity. arriving in Kathmandu at the end of 1721.19 In his Relazione . Notizie istoriche. . .
The Dali Lama and Panchen Lama are the formal heads of this order.. In his description of his visit to Benares. The adepts of the red hat. More likely. the large number of Buddhist orders. For instance.”24 211 23. he has hardly anything to say in his writings about the Hindu religion apart from sometimes mentioning their gods and temples.”21 All accept the same Tibetan Buddhist canon. Notizie istoriche. Viscnù [Vishnu]. out in 1792 as a result of the political intrigues of their chief lama.. 24. it is possible that Desideri had this suborder of the Bka’-brgyud order. Nonetheless. 7. The adepts of the yellow hat are not only attached [addetti ] to Seicchia Thubba [Sakyat’ub-pa. most after his stay in Tibet.” within the entry titled “Buddhism. nonetheless are specially attached to Urghien [U-rgyan-pa. 11. Desideri does not mention the spread of Buddhism to China and Japan. such as Ram. Desideri’s argument. pt. or pratitya-samutpada .” in Encyclopedia of Religion. even with some special rites not common to the other adepts. 21. with the classical Christian arguments for the need for an uncaused and self-created First Cause. he does note that “the Tibetans judge that there [in the outskirts of Benares] their Sciacchià Thubbà [Sakyamuni Buddha] completed the course of his perfection and became the law-giver. These Red Hats died 20. he was using the term Red Hats to refer to virtually all the orders and suborders not associated with the Yellow Hats of the Dge-lugs-pa order. are both associated with the Dgelugs-pa order of Yellow Hats.”22 The “Yellow Hats” referred to by Desideri are the monks of the still dominant Dge-lugs-pa order founded by the reformer Tson-kha-pa (1357–1419). 2:493–98. Ibid. pt. the term Red Hats usually refers to a suborder of the important Bka’-brgyud order. The monasteries where Desideri studied. Brummà [Brahma]. The identity of Desideri’s “Red Hats” is less clear. David Snellgrove. unlike Ricci. “Tibetan Buddhism.. Se ra and Ra-mo-c’e. Desideri notes that “they adore many false divinities. Since Padmasambhava is a revered saint for all Tibetan Buddhists. suborders. According to David Snellgrove. Yet. however.e. leads to the claim that the endless Buddhist cycle is logically defective since it lacks such a necessary First Cause. and all roughly follow the doctrines and practices associated with “Indian Buddhism in its late Mahayana and Vajrayana form. Desideri. i.recognize the Great Lama of the Potala as the supreme leader of their sect and religion. Mahadeo [Mahadeva]. 29. all follow (with varying degrees of strictness) the same monastic rule (that of the Mulasarvastivadins). nonetheless as their own immediate leader of their class and institute they recognize that Great Lama whom I have mentioned above as having his residence in that great mountain of Takpo [Dvags-po-k’yer] province. Lorenzen . Padmasambhava] as the initiator and founder of their class. insofar as they recognize him as their law-giver [legislatore]. Gentile Religion in Asia David N. 493. 157–58. In the most interesting of these attempts he homologizes the endless cycle of causes found in the Buddhist concept of Dependent Co-arising. Desideri studied at least some Tibetan scriptures of both the bKa’-’gyur and bsTan-’gyur collections and is particularly noteworthy for his attempts to criticize Tibetan Buddhism using the concepts and style of argument of Buddhist texts. in his description of Nepal. 1987). Sakyamuni Buddha]. 6. Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan. Ibid. They profess themselves to be specially dedicated to his cult and imitation. The orders and suborders associated especially with the legendary Indian monk Padmasambhava (called Urghien by Desideri) belong to the Rnin-ma-pa tradition begun by Marpa (1012–96). as one would expect. Notizie istoriche.”23 In spite of Desideri having spent over seven years in India. but are especially attached to him insofar as they recognize him as the initiator [institutore] of their class. Desideri. however.e. Schools of.. Bavanì [Bhavani] and others without number. ed. and it is natural that Desideri would have a better idea of the organization of this order. which is not directly a part of Rnin-ma-pa tradition.20 The organization of Tibetan Buddhism is a complex topic. i. and lineages in Tibet are held together by the fact that “as far as doctrine and religious practice is concerned there are no considerable differences between them. although they are devoted to Sciacchia Thubba as their law-giver. however. 22. Bod [Buddha].
classical religious texts written in Tamil. Rather. It is equally obvious that the missionary scholars did not just look at the religions of India. Conclusions Co S m ra pa ti v f . I have presented the empirical evidence with respect to Hinduism in another essay.212 Obviously. The basic reason why the early missionaries were able to form a reasonably accurate understanding of the classifications of Gentile religions is not especially hard to discover. Desideri realized that the Hindus were not Tibetan Buddhists. Buddhism. The anthropologist Fredrik Barth has argued that ethnic groups are not defined by the simple sum of objective markers (i. Roberto Nobili. Sanskrit. Jews. Chinese.. in Europe. in a nice phrase. and communities by the Asians themselves. In the present three cases. it is obvious that early missionary scholars were not so straitjacketed by the then traditional division of the world religions into Christians. Lorenzen. ritual systems. for the most part the differences are in minor details.” Comparative Studies of South Asia. and Ippolito Desideri learned how to divide up and classify the religions and sects of south India. but I think the personal histories of Ricci and Desideri do show quite clearly that virtually all they knew about Chinese and Tibetan religion was learned by a close study of these religions from Chinese and Tibetan scholars and books directly through the medium of the Chinese and Tibetan languages. and Tibet into different categories mainly by talking about this subject with native Indian. One thing I can do here is to outline briefly how I think that complex religions like Hinduism. to a considerable degree. the differences that are important for defining ethnic identities and boundaries. the anthropologists). 26. Matteo Ricci. ritual systems. even if these doctrines. Chinese. Chinese. but the orientalists soon learned that all the native religions were not the same and had already been divided up into separate doctrines.. Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi. Buddhism. are constructed in ways quite similar to how ethnic divisions. and communities were not always as rigidly segregated and exclusive as those of the Christians and Jews. and Gentiles that they felt compelled to force all Gentiles into one single category. and this is one such case. perhaps not surprisingly. My hypothesis is that religious divisions. This argument may sound like little more than simple common sense. in fact. many have argued that the early European orientalists imposed their own categories on the religions they observed in Asia and.g. Confucianism—and even Christianity and Islam—are constructed out of the mass of sects and schools that form their base. and Confucianism out of a complex menagerie of minor religious sects and schools that had. Muslims. are constructed. “Who Invented Hinduism?” . or even one single category for each cultural area (i.e. but he has almost nothing else to say about the distinction. or even the Protestants and Catholics. little in common and that were not recognized as having much in common by the Asians themselves.26 I cannot do the same for Chinese and Tibetan religions since I do not directly work in these areas. he says.e. and Tibetans among whom they lived and worked. one religion for India. has called this intellectual dependence of early European orientalists on native Asian scholars “Orientalism’s genesis amnesia. but common sense does not always prevail among scholars. and Tibetan scholars and by studying. Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi. this argument is simply false on a quite basic empirical level. China. not in the overall analyses. In my view. “constructed” the separate religions of Hinduism. Particularly in the case of recent scholars based in Europe and North America. China. Africa and the Middle East 16 (1996): 1–14.”25 The Europeans undoubtedly brought with them to Asia the omnibus category of Gentile religion or heathendom. Although their classifications of Gentile religions do not always match perfectly with modern scholarly classifications.. with which religions often overlap. and Tibet as a chaotic mass of variegated sects. “are not the sum of ‘objec25. e ie tu d so So Af M A u th si a ri c n aa dt he le idd Ea st What can one say about all this? First. They learned the classifications from the Indians. one for China). “Orientalism’s Genesis Amnesia. and Tibetan. cultural beliefs and practices) that can be perceived by outside observers (e. with their help.
for instance. but the missionaries did not invent. In other words ethnic groups are created by those who belong to them. Barth. moral codes. or manufacture these religions. and Lingayats are today considered to be Hindus. and social customs—but only those differences that are deemed important by the group members themselves. and Taoists themselves. not those observed by outsiders. 27. Kabir Panthis. physical characteristics such as skin color. and metaphysical doctrines.tive’ differences. If one applies this argument to the differentiation of religions and sects. ancestral genealogies. Ethnic Groups. although all four groups follow beliefs and practices that can. 14. 213 . only the followers of the religion in question can decide how these similarities and differences determine who belongs to the religion and who does not. The defining criteria are instead those that are deemed important by the leaders and followers of the religions and sects themselves. In the case of India. Gentile Religion in Asia David N. considered to be anomalous by the norms of more orthodox Hindus.”27 Objective differences certainly exist among different ethnic groups—different languages. a Buddhist. a Confucian. the Tamil Siddhas. The only people who can really decide who is a Hindu. the religions were already there. are what determines who is a member of the group and who is not. revered saints. Matteo Ricci. and often are. it suggests that the primary criteria for defining the identities and boundaries of separate religions and sects are not the observations of an outsider scholar such as oneself (even when one personally professes these religions but is operating in an objective. priesthoods. sacred texts. or a Taoist ware the Hindus. Buddhists. An outside observer cannot decide which of these similarities and differences is important and which is not. we are what and who we say we are. imagine. religions. and Ippolito Desideri who lived and worked in Asia undoubtedly brought a mountain of presuppositions and prejudices with them from Europe. Outside observers (even among the Hindus) who do not recognize this fact likely will erroneously classify the Sikhs as somewhat unorthodox Hindus. These presuppositions and prejudices undoubtedly influenced their harsh judgments and misunderstandings about the religions they encountered. Lorenzen Early European orientalists like Roberto Nobili. but the Sikhs are not. Members of a given religion or sect may have similar or different religious rituals. Confucians. academic-scholar mode). The difference is that the Sikhs have decided that their own beliefs and practices are different enough to make them followers of a different religion. but only those which the actors themselves regard as significant. In the matter of religion. languages.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.