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Our subject may be conveniently treated under four heads: I. Even in the ancient Vedic hymns a special priesthood is distinguishable, for although originally the father of the family was also the offerer of sacrifice, he usually sought the co-operation of a Brahmin.
From the essential functions of praying and singing during the sacrifice arose in Vedism the three classes of sacrificing ().
To Siva and his spouse bloody sacrifices are also offered. In the kindred but ethically superior religion of the Iranians (Parseeism, Zoroastrianism, Mazdeism), which unfortunately never overcame the theological dualism between the good god (Ormuzd=Athura-Mazda) and the wicked anti-god (Ahriman=Angrô-Mainyu), there existed from the beginning a special priestly caste, which in the Avesta was divided into six classes.
Nor are idolatry and prostitution wanting" ("Apologie d. The general name for priest was (man of fire), and the chief duty of the priesthood was the fire-service, fire being the special symbol of Ormuzd, the god of light.
Nevertheless, since it is the interior spirit that gives a religion its characteristic stamp, we can recognize in these externals, not a true copy of Catholicism, but only a wretched caricature.
And, since this religious compound undoubtedly came into existence only in the fourteenth century, it is evident that the remarkable parallelism is the result of Catholic influence on Lamaism, not vice versa.
Public worship was in general undertaken by the State, and the priests were state officials, assigned as a rule to the service of special temples.
This Iranian ) was supposed to restore to man the immortality lost in Paradise (see EUCHARIST).
When, during the reign of the Sassanides, Mithras the sun-god according to the later Avesta, high-priest and mediator between god and man had gradually supplanted the creative god Ormuzd, Persian Mithra-worship held the field almost unopposed; and under the Roman Empire it exerted an irresistible influence on the West (see MASS). To turn to classical antiquity, Greece never possessed an exclusive priestly caste, although from the Dorian-Ionian period the public priesthood was regarded as the privilege of the nobility.
The monasticism and the religious services of Lamaism also present so striking a similarity with Catholic institutions that non-Catholic investigators have unhesitatingly spoken of a "Buddhist Catholicism" in Tibet.
Pope and dalai-lama, Rome and the city of Lhasa are counterparts; Lamaism has its monasteries, bells, processions, litanies, relics, images of saints, holy water, rosary-beads, bishop's mitre, crosier, vestments, copes, baptism, confession, mass, sacrifice for the dead.