Hi, some I'm an anthropologist of religion who works principally with South and Southeast Asia, but I also look into religious transmission as a hobby. I had some suggestions as to the implementation of religion in the game and can provide some general information on the religions if need be.
Information for Hinduism
- Sanatanist, Arya Samaj are the two major strains, there is also Kālī focused popular religion. Sanatan Dharm represents a broad “orthodox” Hinduism focused on the traditional rites and rituals of Hinduism and is broadly an ecumenical organization (or rather group) that covers the broad range of Hindu beliefs. It is dominated by Vaiṣṇava with an emphasis on the Avatars Kriṣṇa and Rama, along with Hanuman. Śavism is present, but much smaller, Kālī worship is quite popular in Trinidad especially,
- Rāmāyaṇ is vitally important to Hindus in Guyana and Surinam, performaces are extremely important. Tihs typically manifests as the Ram Lila. Diwali and Phagwa, (Holi) are quite popular.
- The Brahmans largely still serve a role as doctrinal authority, eventually this dispersed but led to a certain “standardization” of Hinduism.
- Types of Baptism are present, this was done to legitimize Hindu tradition in the face of Arya Samaj and Protestant Christianity.
- Cheif holy texts, Rāmāyaṇ, Bhagavad Gita, and Bhagavad Puraṇa
- Major gods are Rama, Kriṣṇa, Durga, Lakṣmī, Śiva, Gaṇapati, Hanuman, and Kālī. That said, the dominant force among all is the the pantheon of Rāmā, Hanuman, Durga, and Lakṣmi in Guyana and Surinam.
- Sacrifice is discouraged
- Arya Samaj represents a “reformed” tradition that is self-consciously monotheistic and iconoclastic in response to pressures from Islam and Protestant Christianity in North India. It was founded in 1875 by Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
- Rejects “polytheism” as idolatrous, the manifold of deities in the Vedas are thus only a manifold of aspects of god to be worshiped. Viṣṇu, Śiva, and post-Veda gods are simply devatas, or angels, and thus Avatars are thus either fictions or incarnations of them. The Puraṇas and epics are thus unimportant.
- Caste is profession, not inheritance, i.e. one is a Brahmin because they study and worship, one is a Kṣatriya because they are a ruler.
- Monasticism is rejected.
- Charity is seen as imperative.
- Based exclusively on the Vedas, at least in theory, in practice it is Dayananda’s readings of the Veda which are the principal texts as the Vedas are said only to make sense with his commentary.
- Notably not Monist, sees God as an entity separate from the Self. The substances that make the universe are Iśvara(AUM), Ātman, and Prakṛti.
- Kama is righteous when enjoyed with morals.
- Devas are learned, Asuras foolis, Rākṣasas are wicked, and Piśācas are evil and debased.
- Devapūja is where one shows honour to parents and wise men while adevapūja is the worship of demons, associated with pūja of idols.
- Popular religion is more “Syncretic” and blends at some level with African tradition
- Mostly focused on Kālī as the mother goddess.
- Animal Sacrifice is more common
- Blends African and Indian medicine and ritual
- Kālī ceremonies are large, public celebrations involving dance and sacrifice, Mahādev (Śiva) is seen as a vital part of the ceremony, but is not worshiped as much as Kālī
- Emphasis lies in the defeat of evil by Kālī
- Worship of Brahma is virtually unheard of, there is not a concept of the Trimurti in Indo-Caribbean Hinduism. Thus, he should probably removed from the gods list.
- In order to properly represent the Idiosyncresies of Caribbean Hinduism, the gods list and patron deities should be altered to represent the popular gods of the Caribbean, Hanuman, Ram, Kriṣṇa, Durga, Kālī, and Śiva. It is not that Gods like Ganeś are not worshiped, but are of secondary importance characters in the epics, as they reflect the major focus of devotional worship. Even Śiva is not broadly worshiped since the majority of Indians came from Vaiṣṇavite areas, though he is still important to those who worship Kālī.
- Furthermore, the sects should be changed to reflect the realities of Indo-Caribbean doctrine in the face of modern evolution. I would recommend the sects be Santanist representing the “orthodox” Hinduism and Kālīist representing the popular forms of worship that are more heavily syncretized, perhaps this could give an opinion bonus to Afro-Syncretic religions. Arya Samaj could be included as a heresy of the religion, perhaps including AUM as it’s chief god with the Vedas as the scripture and removing the patron deity mechanic while potentially adding something different like a religious head. In this case, I would recommend that the Chief deity in the regular Hinduism be something like Brahman, Dharma, or Iśvara to represent the multitude of religious gods, though almost all are Vaiṣṇavist. Kālī should absolutely be removed from the evil gods list as most Kālī devotees would find this deeply offensive and the cult of Kali Purusha should be absolutely renamed to something like the Black Tantra society, this is a problem with the base game as well and reflects an unfortunate colonial era myth that was popularized by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- Alternatively, the sects could be removed to indicate a blending of Arya Samaj, Sanatana Dharm, and Popular practice like that of Fiji where the rituals and ideas of the Arya Samaj have blended with the Sanatana Hindus. This would allow for the things to remain closer to the current form in it, but I would still recommend changing the gods list in the manner outlined above or going for an even more drastic change to represent the Arya Samaj overtaking it and utilizing only Vedic gods while adding Aśuras, Rakṣasas, and to the evil gods list while removing the patron diety mechanic
- Baptism could be added as a way of emphasizing the distinctness of Hinduism in the Caribbean.
- The monastic society is interesting and I don’t really know what to do about it, there isn’t a large monastic tradition in Caribbean Hinduism like there is in Indian Hinduism, so it might be worth replacing Monasticism with something else and changing the Advaita Matha to something. Perhaps the Arya Samaj or the Maha Sabha. Sources
Vertovec, Steven Editor. The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. 2000. Routledge: NewYork, NY.
Jayawardena, Chandra. "Migration and Social Change: A Survey of Indian Communities Overseas." Geographical Review 58, no. 3 (1968): 426-49. doi:10.2307/212565.
Prorok, Carolyn V. "Transplanting Pilgrimage Traditions in the Americas." Geographical Review 93, no. 3 (2003): 283-307.
Ramnarine, Tina K. "Historical Representations, Performance Spaces, and Kinship Themes in Indian-Caribbean Popular Song Texts." Asian Music 30, no. 1 (1998): 1-33. doi:10.2307/834262.
Jayawardena, Chandra. "Religious Belief and Social Change: Aspects of the Development of Hinduism in British Guiana." Comparative Studies in Society and History 8, no. 2 (1966): 211-40
Rocklin, Alexander. The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad. (2019). University of North Carolina Press; Chapel Hill, NC.
Jayawardena, Chandra. "Culture and Ethnicity in Guyana and Fiji." Man, New Series, 15, no. 3 (1980): 430-50. doi:10.2307/2801343.
Rai, Lajpat. The Arya Samaj: an account of its origin, doctrines and activities with a biographical sketch of its founder. (1916). Longmans, Green and Co: London Suggestions for Shinto
- Add a patron deity mechanic, Shinto worships a wide variety of deities, often syncretized with Buddhist ones. The most popular are:
- Amaterasu Omikami: The Goddess of the Sun and the Principal deity of Shinto, The emperor is believed to descend from Amterasu. In the Sinbutsu theory, she was identified with Mahāvairocana or Dainichi Nyorai.
- Susano’o-no-Mikoto: God of the storms and the defeater of chaos serpent Yamata-no-Orochi.
- Inari Okami: The Genderless or Genderfluid deity of Rice, foxes, and industry. Generally seen as a prosperity god, often identified with Benzaiten and Dakiniten and deeply associated with Buddhism. Has the most dedicated Shinto Shrines and is present in most others as well as in Shingon Buddhist Shrines.
- Hachiman-no-Kami: The god of war and the guardian of samurai. Identified with the Minamoto clan as an ancestor and by Buddhists as a Boddhisattva protector.
- Tenjin: God of Scholars, a deified scholar of the 8th century.
- The Seven Luck Gods: Syncretic Gods of Fortune, the most popular are Ebisu (often seen as the god of fishermen) and Benzaiten (the transformation of Saraswati, the personification of wisdom).
- Fujin and Raijin: paired Japanese storm gods of Wind and Thunder resepectively.
- Ryujin: a Dragon god and water god.
- Izanami and Izanagi: The predecessors of the gods, while important, they rarely see active worship save for as ancestors.
- Additionally, Jizo, Kannon, and Amida Buddha, are Buddhist deities that see almost universal veneration in Japan across Buddhism and Shinto. As Shinto did not exist as an independent religion until 1868 when the decree of separation was passed, splitting the two is quite difficult and holidays like Obon are Buddhist and funerals are almost always conducted by Buddhists. Belief in Amida’s Pure Land in the West and reincarnation are now almost universal among the Japanese people generally venerate Buddhist and Shinto deities interchangeably.
- Shinto has a great emphasis on Mountains, the Highest on the northern part map is located in California and is Mount Whitney. Given the Proximity to where the Japanese will probably land, this would make a great holy site.
- I can see a few ways Shinto might develop in a post-event Japan.
- One is to diversify and again syncretize with the Buddhist shrines in the area and focus on the transcendental or the other-worldly with an emphasis on the soteriology of the Kami as well as Amida Buddha as well as the Esoteric ritual of Shingon, Shugendo, and Tendai.
- Another way is to double down on the separation and militarize by creating powerful sects who compete politically similar to the situation with Buddhism in the Kamakura and Sengoku periods. These would presumably either compete with Buddhism or completely wipe it out.
- Another is for the Imperial House to try and unify Japan through religion and establish the dominance of Shinto over Buddhism by incorporating popular doctrine while suppressing other parts and glorifying the Kami related to the Imperial House.
- There could be different sects of Shinto that exist in relative harmony. For instance Koshitsu Shinto which focuses on the veneration of Amaterasu and the Emperor, Ryobu Shinto which emphasizes the dual practice of Shinto and Buddhism, Minzoku Shinto being Shinto that focuses on local practice and veneration of many deities and has little doctrinal consistency, and Shugendo being the syncretic and esoteric mountain ascetic religion.
- That said, there could obviously a combination of these, since we don’t know how unified Japan is. Perhaps Tokyo and the surrounding areas have established a form of State Shinto while elsewhere Buddhist Temples, Shoguns, Shinto sects, and a renewed Ainu compete for domination of the island. Perhaps the Emperor has pacified these but they still exist as powerful entities jockying for power.
- A Note on Shugendo and other Japanese traditions: Shugendo is a syncretic mix of Buddhism, Daoism, and Shinto from Japan, which attributes its founding to mystic En-no-Gyoja. It is a esoteric mountain religion that fuses Shingon fire practice and deity meditation, Tendai asceticism and esotericism, Daoist alchemy and astrology, and Shinto mountain and spirit veneration as well as Shinto shamanism. It was banned in 1872 but persisted in the mountains and revived after the end of the Japanese empire. It could potentially make a good heresy.
Aston, W.G. Nihongi: The Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697. (2011) Kindle Edition. Tuttle: New York, NY.
Heldt, Gustav. The Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters. (2014) Columbia University Press: New York: NY.
Tanabe, George Joji. Religions of Japan in Practice. (1999) Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ
Ono, Sokyo. Shinto the Kami Way. (2011) Translated by William P. Woodard. Tuttle: New York, NY.
Orzech, Charles D. Editor. Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. (2011) Brill: Leiden, the Netherlands.
Matsunaga, Daigan and Matsunaga, Alicia. Foundations of Japanese Buddhism. Vol I (1974) Buddhist Books International: Reno, NV.