Heaven worship

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This is about the Chinese cult of Shangdi. See sky deity for a comparative discussion.

Heaven worship is a Chinese religious belief that predates Taoism and Confucianism, but was later incorporated into both. Shangdi is the supreme unknowable god of Chinese folk religion. Over time, Shangdi became synonymous with Tian (天 lit. "sky"), or Heaven. The worship of Heaven is highly ritualistic and requires that the emperor hold official sacrifices and worship at an altar of Heaven, the most famous of which is the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Heaven worship is closely linked with ancestor veneration and polytheism, as the ancestors and the gods are seen as a medium between Heaven and man. The Emperor of China, also known as the "Son of Heaven", derived the Mandate of Heaven, and thus his legitimacy as ruler, from his supposed ability to commune with Heaven on behalf of his nation.

Establishment[edit]

Worship of Heaven in the southern suburb of the capital was initiated in 31 BCE and firmly established in the 1 c. CE (Western Han).[1]

Qing dynasty and Christianity[edit]

The Qing Dynasty Yongzheng emperor was firmly against Christian converts among his own Manchu people. He warned them that the Manchus must follow only the Manchu way of worshipping Heaven since different peoples worshipped Heaven differently.[2] Yongzheng stated: "The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honoring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honor Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honoring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honoring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sunu] could not honor heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us."[3]

Early Abrahamic missionaries saw similarities between Shangdi/Tian and the Abrahamic God, and therefore rendered "God" as "Shangdi" in Chinese.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Liu Kwang-ching, “Socioethics as Orthodoxy,” in Liu Kwang-ching, ed., Orthodoxy In Late Imperial China (Berkeley, 1990), 53-100:60.
  2. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China (illustrated, reprint ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 0-8047-4684-2. Retrieved March 2, 2012. "In his indictment of Sunu and other Manchu nobles who had converted to Christianity, the Yongzheng emperor reminded the rest of the Manchu elite that each people had its own way of honoring Heaven and that it was incumbent upon Manchus to observe Manchu practice in this regard:" 
  3. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China (illustrated, reprint ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 0-8047-4684-2. Retrieved March 2, 2012. "The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honoring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honor Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honoring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honoring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sunu] could not honor heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us."