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Readers of the history of India are aware that in 249 B.C. Ashoka the Great, the Buddhist emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India and sent missionaries to all parts of the world, then known to him, to preach the gospel of Buddha. He sent missionaries from Siberia to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and from China to Egypt. These missionaries preached the doctrines of Buddhism, not by bloodshed and sword, but by scattering blessings, goodwill and peace where they went. The edicts and stone inscriptions of Ashoka were written during his lifetime. One of these edicts mentions five Greek kings who were Ashokas contemporaries, - Antiochus of Syria, Ptolemaos of Egypt, Antigonus of Macedon, Magas of Cyrene, and Alexander of Epiros. The edict says that Ashoka made treatise with these kings and Buddhist missionaries to their kingdoms to preach the gospel of Buddha. "Both here and in foreign countries" says Ashoka, "everywhere the people follow the doctrine of the Beloved of the gods, wheresoever it reacheth." Mahaffy, the Christian historian says: "The Buddhist missionaries preached in Syria two centuries before the teaching of Christ, (which has so much in common with the teaching of Buddha), and this was heard in northern Palestine".
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At the time when Jesus appeared in Galilee, the religious atmosphere of the place was permeated with Persian doctrines, Hellenic ideas, Pythagorean thoughts, and the precepts of the Essenes. Therapeutae, Gymonosophists, and the Buddhists of India. Galilee was then aglow with the fire of religious enthusiasm, kindled by the ardour of social and political dissensions. The Jews were already divided into three principal sects, the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the Essenes. Each of these was trying to gain supremacy and power over the others. The Sadducees were the conservative and aristocratic class, while the Pharisees and the Essenes were essentially liberal. It was a time of great disturbance and intrigues, insurrections, rebellions, and wars. Such a period naturally kindles the fire of patriotism in the heart of a nation and forces its members to become active in every possible way.
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NOTE 1: In the directions column, NE (U) denotes the upper northeast direction, while NE (L) denotes the lower northeast direction. Same system for the other semi-directions.
NOTE 2: In Buddhism, the and snake are both members of the family of serpentine creatures; originated in Hindu mythology.
Each Zodiac animal represents one year in a 12-year cycle, a day in a twelve-day cycle, a two-hour period in each day, and a compass direction. The day, for example, starts at twelve midnight, and corresponds to the Rat. Every two hours, it moves to the next zodiac animal, with twelve noon associated with the Horse. When it comes to compass directions, the Rat signifies due north, and every 30 degrees clockwise it moves to the next zodiac animal.
Temples and shrines perform many of their services and festivals on specific zodiac animal days. For example, hold their annual festivals on the first horse day in February, while shrines hold their yearly festival on the first Snake day in February. are dedicated to (food/fox deity), while shrines are devoted to the water goddess , who is closely associated with both the snake and .