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World Religions: Week of May 1

05/01/12

World Religions: Week of May 1

In May we are exploring World Religions through a wide variety of texts, from ancient to modern times. This week we showcase “Hymn to the Nile,” the Jain Sutras, Rig Veda Americanus, the Persian Bayan, the Kumulipo, and Augustine’s treatise The City of God. At left is an illustrated Jain manuscript leaf.


  • May 1: The anonymous “Hymn to the Nile,” dating to the early twentieth century BCE, was sung or recited at festivals in honor of Hapy, the Egyptian god of the Nile River and its flood.
  • May 2: Composed sometime between the fifth and third centuries BCE, the Jain Sutras represent the system of thought crystallized by the Indian ascetic and teacher Mahavira, laying out a worldview based on the ancient doctrine of karma.
  • May 3: The Rig Veda Americanus, compiled in the sixteenth century by a Spanish priest, Bernardino de Sahagún, is a collection of hymns addressing the pantheon of Aztec gods and presenting a small fraction of their mythology.
  • May 4: The Persian Bayan was written by the Bab, a pivotal figure in nineteenth-century Shia Islamic history. The text is one of numerous mystical, prophetic scriptural works the Bab wrote as the leader of the religious movement Babism, the forerunner of the religion called Baha’i.
  • May 5: Kumulipo, a 2,102-line Hawaiian chant published in 1889 by King Kalakaua, describes the creation of the world.
  • May 6: The City of God, written by Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century CE, offers a theological view of history, using events narrated in the Bible along with events of Roman history to demonstrate that the arc of history leads to the highest good, founded in divine law.

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