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GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE CAMBRIDGE IGCSE: BELIEF SYSTEMS. Definitions, questions for the research project, global/international perspectives, local/national perspectives, family/personal perspectives, useful websites.Religious beliefs of the peoples of the Silk Road changed radically over time and was largely due to the effects of travel and trade on the Silk Road itself.
All of these were religions of the Silk Road; some spread along the trade routes to extend their spheres of faith enormously, while others did not travel from their native lands, or did so only to form enclaves of the faithful in foreign lands.
Buddhism was the first of the great missionary faiths to take advantage of the mobility provided by the Silk Road to extend its reach far beyond its native ground.
Others were followers of the old religion of Egypt, especially the cult of Isis and Osiris.
Jewish merchants and other settlers had spread beyond the borders of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judea and had established their own places of worship in towns and cities throughout the region.
From its origins in north eastern India, Buddhism had already spread into the lands that are now Pakistan and Afghanistan by the 1st century BCE.
Buddhist merchants from those areas built temples and shrines along the Silk Road everywhere they went; the priests and monks who staffed those religious establishments preached to local populations and passing travelers, spreading the faith rapidly.The dynamics of the spread of beliefs along the Silk Road involves a crucial, though little-remarked, difference between two fundamental types of religions.Generally speaking, religions are either proselytizing or non-proselytizing.For over two thousand years the Silk Road was a network of roads for the travel and dissemination of religious beliefs across Eurasia.The religious beliefs of people along the Silk Road at the beginning of the 1st century BCE were very different from what they would later become.The Greek colonies of Central Asia that had been left behind after the collapse of the empire of Alexander the Great had, by the 1st century BCE, largely converted from Greco-Roman paganism to Buddhism, a religion that would soon use the Silk Road to spread far and wide.In India, on side routes of the Silk Road that crossed the passes to the Indus Valley and beyond, the older religion of Brahmanism had given way to Hinduism and Buddhism; the former never spread far beyond India and Southeast Asia, while the latter eventually became worldwide in extent.Traders who used the Silk Road regularly therefore built shrines and temples of their own faiths wherever they went, in order to maintain their own beliefs and practices of worship while they were far from home.Missionaries of many faiths accompanied caravans on the Silk Road, consciously trying to expand the reach of their own religious persuasion and make converts to their faith.The beliefs of Korea and Japan at that early period are largely lost in an unrecorded past, but they appear to have been ancestral to the later Japanese religion of Shinto, a polytheistic belief system that emphasizes worship of local gods and goddesses, the importance of ritual purity, and rule by a king of divine descent.That the religious beliefs of the peoples of the Silk Road change radically from what they had been when trans-Eurasian trade began to take place on a regular basis was largely due to the effects of travel and trade on the Silk Road itself.