WI More major Polytheistic cultures?

Which is the most possible?

  • East Asian Religions

    Votes: 13 32.5%
  • African religions

    Votes: 8 20.0%
  • Native American religion

    Votes: 7 17.5%
  • Arabian paganism

    Votes: 3 7.5%
  • Tengrism

    Votes: 6 15.0%
  • Norse Paganism

    Votes: 3 7.5%

  • Total voters
    40

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
Currently the largest surviving polytheistic culture is Hinduism, predominantly in India and Nepal.
Chinese folk religion might qualify, but it is seen by many as a set of traditions accessory to Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Taoism could qualify, but it might be more nontheistic like how Buddhism and Jainism are. It seems Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism take precedence over the Chinese folk religion, which places it in a rather unusual situation. Perhaps comparable to the relationship between Folk Catholicism and Roman Catholic doctrine.
Shintoism is rather unusual in other aspects. Japanese religion was largely Buddhism fused with Kami worship, the latter of which was separated from the former by the Meiji government in 1800s. So in a sense, organized Shintoism emerged recently while worship of Kami has existed since prehistory.
There are other East Asian practices such as Vietnamese folk and Bon religion of Tibet which all are superimposed with Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist influence.
Of the East Asian religions, it is Shintoism and Bon that are the most institutionalized. Bon is largely secondary to Vajrayana buddhism in Tibetan culture.

Then there are the traditional religions of Africa, Americas and Pacific of which I do not how much knowledge of. Christianity and Islam has largely supplanted these cultures in Africa in the last few centuries, and the same can be said of the American and Pacific cultures.
There are exceptions such as Vodun, and Dogon, which is influential in Togo and Mali despite the dominance of christianity and islam. Vodun is unique for it capacity to spread and compete against centuries of Christian influence. Dogon are interesting in their strong religious identity and their competition with Islamic influences. Not to mention Serer in senegal, but it has largely been overtaken by Islam and christianity. They presently exist as folk practices under a veneer of Islam or Christianity.
Candidates
I believe there are several candidates that could could emerge as a major polytheistic culture.
1. East Asian Religions: The institutionalization and doctrinization as what happened with shintoism could replicated much earlier in East Asian history, perhaps during the Ming dynasty. The most likely scenario.
2. African religions: The Serer establish close contacts with the Berber peoples, and they thus develop into a more stronger civilization. They thus develop their own doctrines by around the 8th century AD. They manage to become a significant competitor to Islamic influence, and spread throughout the Sahel region. The Hausa, Fulani, and Mandinka adopt Serer religion. Might be plausible but require significant early development.
3. Native American religion: The Aztec religion reforms to be centered around the worship of Quetzalcoatl, and human sacrifice is abolished in favor of flower offerings. The Aztecs beat back the europeans, but undergo heavy decline after european contact. Over time, the Aztecs adopt Eurasian package and begin a long recovery. Due to competition to christianity, the Aztec religion becomes more robust and largely defeats Christianity. Might be somewhat difficult due to various factors.
4. Arabian paganism: The cult of the triple goddess expands with the Arab conquests, and becomes a rival to christianity. Possible, but possibly of marginalization by christianity is high.
5. Tengrism: Perhaps the Turko-mongol khanates patronize this religion and develop it. Almost happened OTL, but might be hard competing against Islam, Christianity, Buddhism.
6. Norse Paganism: Pagan Norse colonize Vinland, and are cut off from Europe. They expand and Norsify North America. They form a Mestizo American civilization. This might be too hard.
 
1. East Asian Religions: The institutionalization and doctrinization as what happened with shintoism could replicated much earlier in East Asian history, perhaps during the Ming dynasty. The most likely scenario.
since i don't see how any of these prevent a certain peninsula of peninsulas from doing its thing this is the only one i really see happening and survivng. arab paganism might also work but I'm unsure given the religious aspect of the arab conquests that helped unite them
 
Your best bet is probably to kill Christianity, or at least prevent it from gaining state support. I personally don't buy the idea that Mediterranean polytheism was dying (the fact that it needed to be suppressed violently by the Christian emperors and the Julian even attempted to revive it suggests that it was very much vital), so given some more time the mystery cults and philosophical schools could evolve to fill similar roles to the Chinese philosophies (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) and Hindu sects. Without Christianity, Islam is butterflied. This really only leave Zoroastrianism and Judaism (and maybe Manichaenism) as major monotheistic religions, and two of these don't much care about proselytism. The Mediterranean polytheistic religious system, itself a product of multiple religious systems coming into contact and syncretising, would be very open to further syncretisation, much like how Hinduism was able to spread and syncretise in South-East Asia. You might even end up with Buddhism spreading into the Mediterranean and Europe in a similar manner to China and North-East Asia, and Greco-Roman philosophies spreading Eastwards over time. An alt-Age of Exploration would result in fascinating philosophical and intellectual exchanges.
 
I've always liked the idea of preventing or dissuading the Romans from conquering Britannia. If you do, Christian missionaries are not guaranteed to reach Ireland, so the Christianisation of the British Isles is at least delayed. Assuming the Anglo-Saxons still land and conquer (possible, since we don't know for sure why they went there in the first place, with theories ranging from "because they could" to "because the Romans invited them to fight the Picts"), they would remain pagan for at least far longer, at least long enough to coincide with the breakout of the Norse from Scandinavia. So what might end up happening is that the Norse are better able to subjugate England, because they aren't conquering a strictly Christian nation. Britain could then become a sort of "Air Force One" for the Scandinavians and be used as a decent base for the continuation of raids into Northern Europe or beyond, and with a good population base.

That said there were opportunities during the Christianisation of the Anglo-Saxons. Penda was a great king, considered one of the "kings of Britain" during his time, and he was a pagan. If he keeps on winning then it might set Christianity back enough for there to be still-practicing pagans in Britain to this day.
 
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Your distinction between polytheism and monotheism is really too sharp. First, Hinduism is typically classified as Henotheistic rather than polytheistic. The basic idea of Henotheism is that there is one "supreme" god and either lesser gods or avatars of this one god. Obviously, Christianity can feel a bit Henotheistic at times (the cult of the virgin, devotion to saints etc). Islam and Judaism feel less Henotheistic although certain sects (Sufi's, Hasids etc) have some aspect of Saint worship. Therefore, I would suggest you focus your question down on what type of polytheism do you really mean. For example, there are few fertility cults (think Baal) in the modern world. There are few warrior cults (think Norse paganism) and THAT really is the interesting question. Why did nearly all religions shift toward the question of how to live a "right" life in the period from around 500 BCE to 500 CE.
 
I'm not sure that Tengrism, a strongly henotheistc faith focused on the great sky-god, is a good candidate for survival among large numbers. It seems to me that such a religion would be easier to syncretize into one of the more widespread, proselytizing monotheistic faiths associated with "higher" cultures. After all, if you ask the "average" Christian "where's God?", chances are his/her eyes will instinctively roll upward, and they'll point to the skies...
"Your people have been worshipping the One True God the whole time... Your knowledge of Him was incomplete though..."
Has worked before... :)
 
I am a little confused about what this thread are asking?

Is this about what is the most likely polytheistic religion that will survive with what if? Or is it about what is the most likely that will achieve some sort of global majority like christianity? Or what?
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
Your distinction between polytheism and monotheism is really too sharp. First, Hinduism is typically classified as Henotheistic rather than polytheistic. The basic idea of Henotheism is that there is one "supreme" god and either lesser gods or avatars of this one god. Obviously, Christianity can feel a bit Henotheistic at times (the cult of the virgin, devotion to saints etc). Islam and Judaism feel less Henotheistic although certain sects (Sufi's, Hasids etc) have some aspect of Saint worship.
Some groups are henotheistic, but most are polytheistic. The concept of Brahman is considered to be Monistic and Pantheistic rather than Henotheistic or monotheistic as some contend.
About christian, islam, and jewish folk religion, there are some aspects that often blur the lines between the two categories.
Therefore, I would suggest you focus your question down on what type of polytheism do you really mean. For example, there are few fertility cults (think Baal) in the modern world. There are few warrior cults (think Norse paganism) and THAT really is the interesting question. Why did nearly all religions shift toward the question of how to live a "right" life in the period from around 500 BCE to 500 CE.
I find it odd that Mesopotamian and Egyptian religion despite emerging far earlier than everything else, seems to have been far removed from such developments. It appears that these cultures fell into some sort of equilibrium trap whereas the others who emerged later did not. I think a part of it had to do with the Palace economies and state bureaucracies of Egypt and Mesopotamia which stifled independent initiative in favor of the interests of the state at large. Perhaps a more decentralized egypt could adopt free-markets and more new religious movements and intellectual freedom like what happened in Greece, Iran, India, and China.
Other than that I am not too sure.
 
Some groups are henotheistic, but most are polytheistic. The concept of Brahman is considered to be Monistic and Pantheistic rather than Henotheistic or monotheistic as some contend.
About christian, islam, and jewish folk religion, there are some aspects that often blur the lines between the two categories.

I find it odd that Mesopotamian and Egyptian religion despite emerging far earlier than everything else, seems to have been far removed from such developments. It appears that these cultures fell into some sort of equilibrium trap whereas the others who emerged later did not. I think a part of it had to do with the Palace economies and state bureaucracies of Egypt and Mesopotamia which stifled independent initiative in favor of the interests of the state at large. Perhaps a more decentralized egypt could adopt free-markets and more new religious movements and intellectual freedom like what happened in Greece, Iran, India, and China.
Other than that I am not too sure.
Actually in regards to Egypt they do concern with how to live a good life. The whole concept of Ma'at is about doing just that after all. The Vizier Ptahhotep was a philosopher during the fifth dynasty of egypt around the 25th and 24th BCE, also wrote about philosophy. Babylon and Mesopotamia overall was a place of science and learning. and that is just based on a quick wiki search.

Of course the big thing we are not considering is how much of their philosophy did they write down and how much did survive? considering the time frames we are dealing with, I would guess we have lost considerable amounts of works from both cultures.
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
Actually in regards to Egypt they do concern with how to live a good life. The whole concept of Ma'at is about doing just that after all. The Vizier Ptahhotep was a philosopher during the fifth dynasty of egypt around the 25th and 24th BCE, also wrote about philosophy. Babylon and Mesopotamia overall was a place of science and learning. and that is just based on a quick wiki search.

Of course the big thing we are not considering is how much of their philosophy did they write down and how much did survive? considering the time frames we are dealing with, I would guess we have lost considerable amounts of works from both cultures.
True I forgot about Maat. I was expecting something along the lines of a Bronze age Christianity or Buddhism.
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
I've always liked the idea of preventing or dissuading the Romans from conquering Britannia. If you do, Christian missionaries are not guaranteed to reach Ireland, so the Christianisation of the British Isles is at least delayed. Assuming the Anglo-Saxons still land and conquer (possible, since we don't know for sure why they went there in the first place, with theories ranging from "because they could" to "because the Romans invited them to fight the Picts"), they would remain pagan for at least far longer, at least long enough to coincide with the breakout of the Norse from Scandinavia. So what might end up happening is that the Norse are better able to subjugate England, because they aren't conquering a strictly Christian nation. Britain could then become a sort of "Air Force One" for the Scandinavians and be used as a decent base for the continuation of raids into Northern Europe or beyond, and with a good population base.

That said there were opportunities during the Christianisation of the Anglo-Saxons. Pemba was a great king, considered one of the "kings of Britain" during his time, and he was a pagan. If he keeps on winning then it might set Christianity back enough for there to be still-practicing pagans in Britain to this day.
One good idea I have is that if the Romans do not conquer Britain, they instead suppoprt a pro-Roman client state there. This celtic kingdom could adopt Greco-Roman culture and would have celtic-greco-roman culture. The British rulers would patronize Hellenistic philosophies and culture.
When Rome christianizes and declines, this British kingdom becomes a refuge for pagans and philosophers from Rome, who would be given shelter and audience.
As the 6th century commences, this British kingdom would develop into center of European pagan culture, and a competing influence to the Merovingian Franks to the South.
It would be interesting to see how the Franks and British would interact with each other, given they have extremely differing viewpoints.
The British would see themselves as the heir to gods, while the Franks would see themselves as the heir to christ.
They would compete to spread their ideologies to Northern Europe, I can see the British forging ties with the Norse, and the Franks expanding into German regions.
It would make a fantastic timeline!
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
I am a little confused about what this thread are asking?

Is this about what is the most likely polytheistic religion that will survive with what if? Or is it about what is the most likely that will achieve some sort of global majority like christianity? Or what?
I am thinking of a culture that has a significant polytheistic heritage like Indian culture is to Hinduism.
There isn't a clear equivalent to Hinduism presently. The closest I can get is Shinto, but that is controversial since Meiji separated Kami worship from Buddhism in 1800s. Shenism might be a candidate, but has the same issue with Shintoism. Maybe perhaps, Shenism and Shinto develop into a more cohesive doctrine in competition with Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist dogma, and have them overtake the latter three as dominant. It seems the latter three ideas have been preeminent with the folk religions having failed to achieve a similar dominance hinduism has.
Many of the African religions have been marginalized by Islam and Christianity, and the same goes for the Native Americans and Oceania.
In a sense, there is no real equivalent to Hinduism in its importance to a civilization, in the sense Buddhism is to Taoism or Christianity is to Islam. Though Shenism and Shintoism come close.
 
I am thinking of a culture that has a significant polytheistic heritage like Indian culture is to Hinduism.
There isn't a clear equivalent to Hinduism presently. The closest I can get is Shinto, but that is controversial since Meiji separated Kami worship from Buddhism in 1800s. Shenism might be a candidate, but has the same issue with Shintoism. Maybe perhaps, Shenism and Shinto develop into a more cohesive doctrine in competition with Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist dogma, and have them overtake the latter three as dominant. It seems the latter three ideas have been preeminent with the folk religions having failed to achieve a similar dominance hinduism has.
Many of the African religions have been marginalized by Islam and Christianity, and the same goes for the Native Americans and Oceania.
In a sense, there is no real equivalent to Hinduism in its importance to a civilization, in the sense Buddhism is to Taoism or Christianity is to Islam. Though Shenism and Shintoism come close.
So you are asking about organized polytheistic religion that achieve dominant position in some country right?

Which means anything that syncretic with other religion like thai folk religion syncretic with buddhism and hinduism (more like got subsume lol) wouldn't count right (though it wouldn't count anyway due to it not being organized unless you counting them being subsumed into buddhism as organized lol)?
 
Your best bet is probably to kill Christianity, or at least prevent it from gaining state support. I personally don't buy the idea that Mediterranean polytheism was dying (the fact that it needed to be suppressed violently by the Christian emperors and the Julian even attempted to revive it suggests that it was very much vital), so given some more time the mystery cults and philosophical schools could evolve to fill similar roles to the Chinese philosophies (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) and Hindu sects. Without Christianity, Islam is butterflied. This really only leave Zoroastrianism and Judaism (and maybe Manichaenism) as major monotheistic religions, and two of these don't much care about proselytism. The Mediterranean polytheistic religious system, itself a product of multiple religious systems coming into contact and syncretising, would be very open to further syncretisation, much like how Hinduism was able to spread and syncretise in South-East Asia. You might even end up with Buddhism spreading into the Mediterranean and Europe in a similar manner to China and North-East Asia, and Greco-Roman philosophies spreading Eastwards over time. An alt-Age of Exploration would result in fascinating philosophical and intellectual exchanges.

What doomed Greco-Roman polytheism, IMO, it's that Christianity appealed to the lower classes of society in a way that the old forms of worship did not - in both Greece and Rome, the local religion was closely tied to the state, in such a way Christianity would be only after centuries of being the only game in town. The various mystery cults could've competed with Christianity, but since they were a menace to the established order, even mainstream polytheists persecuted them, and they were more or less secret societies, too.

You'd have to get a borderline heretic follower of the mysteries to drag them kicking and screaming into the public, merge them into a new, pan-Mediterranean pantheon featuring everyone from Orpheus to Isis, and inject a dose of mainstream philosophy into them - hell, you could basically recreate Buddhism from nothing but bits and pieces of already established Greek philosophical schools, too.
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
So you are asking about organized polytheistic religion that achieve dominant position in some country right?

Which means anything that syncretic with other religion like thai folk religion syncretic with buddhism and hinduism (more like got subsume lol) wouldn't count right (though it wouldn't count anyway due to it not being organized unless you counting them being subsumed into buddhism as organized lol)?
Actually this is pretty accurate.
I don't mean to diminish the importance of folk religion, but I am not counting it as it will really complicate this discussion and confuse everyone. I mean, would you consider christian folk beliefs or worship of Muslim saints to be polytheism?. These folk beliefs would essentially fit the definition of polytheism, but to call Islam or Christianity itself polytheism would be a very controversial and contradictory discussion. I am simply discussing canonical beliefs for parsimony.
The reason many outsiders get very confused about Hinduism, is that due to lack of familiarity they get wrapped with folk beliefs etc...
I am simply talking about a religious doctrine that accommodates and/or promulgates polytheistic beliefs, like Advaita Vedanta, Mimamsa, Tantra schools of Hinduism.
Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, and Confucianism come close; but are largely nontheistic in their doctrine in various extents. Hinduism is largely theistic except for a schools such as Samkhya school which is unique for its atheistic leanings.
Perhaps the Mormons could count, but again this would be seen as objectional by many.
I know that Polytheism is a rather lazy and prejudiced characterization of various non-abrahamic faiths, which has been used as an extremely demeaning insult and as a call for violence against "polytheists".
in regards to dominant position, I mean in its importance to a culture of a society. Hinduism exceeds all other religions as the dominant culture of India and Nepal. Likewise, Islam is dominant in Pakistan and Bangladesh though Hindu minorities are present.
Vodun and Shinto seem close, but Shinto is controversial due to Shinbutso-shugo vs Shibutso-bunri situation, while Vodun is interesting as it is a strong competitor against christianity in Togo for example. Perhaps Vodun comes the closest of all other countries, and if it developed its organization in pre-modern times it would basically fit the bill.
 
What doomed Greco-Roman polytheism, IMO, it's that Christianity appealed to the lower classes of society in a way that the old forms of worship did not - in both Greece and Rome, the local religion was closely tied to the state, in such a way Christianity would be only after centuries of being the only game in town. The various mystery cults could've competed with Christianity, but since they were a menace to the established order, even mainstream polytheists persecuted them, and they were more or less secret societies, too.

You'd have to get a borderline heretic follower of the mysteries to drag them kicking and screaming into the public, merge them into a new, pan-Mediterranean pantheon featuring everyone from Orpheus to Isis, and inject a dose of mainstream philosophy into them - hell, you could basically recreate Buddhism from nothing but bits and pieces of already established Greek philosophical schools, too.
Eh, I disagree. IMHO what doomed Mediterranean polytheism was the (for the time) unique combination in Christianity of both aggressive proselytism and intolerance. Once Christians gained political power, they were swift to suppress and outlaw all other beliefs in a way that was pretty well unprecedented. Even when the Romans supressed the druids, they didn't actually ban the beliefs and rituals that their communities held and they didn't try to convert the Gauls and Britons to Roman religion, they just syncretised. Same with the Greeks in the wake of Alexander, who just overlayed their beliefs onto local ones without really challenging them. Even the monotheistic Zoroastrian Persians didn't bother persecuting other belief systems, Achaemenid and Arascid kings were quite happy to co-opt local beliefs.

Christianity was different. Judaism and related beliefs like Samaritanism were/are intolerant of syncretism, but were also ethnic religions uninterested in converting the world. Zoroastrianism and Buddhism were/are universalist, but not aggressive, both are and were fairly tolerant towards other belief systems so long as they aren't a threat. So nobody quite knew how to deal with this weird new apocalypse cult (early Christians were fairly certain that the apocalypse was going to come soon) that told its members that it and only it could allow people to avoid eternal torment and that it was their duty to convert everyone they could, that all other gods and belief systems are at best fake and at worst evil. This unusual set of beliefs meant that nobody was prepared to resist when they banned other beliefs and practices (which, given that most polytheistic religions are orthopractic rather than orthodoctic, this is the relevant bit) and closed the temples. Even then, it took centuries to stamp out Mediterranean polytheistic practices, with the city of Harran, in what is now Syria, remaining pagan into the Islamic period and maintaining its temples and Neoplatonic academy, even sending scholars and philosophers to the Caliph's court.
 
Eh, I disagree. IMHO what doomed Mediterranean polytheism was the (for the time) unique combination in Christianity of both aggressive proselytism and intolerance. Once Christians gained political power, they were swift to suppress and outlaw all other beliefs in a way that was pretty well unprecedented. Even when the Romans supressed the druids, they didn't actually ban the beliefs and rituals that their communities held and they didn't try to convert the Gauls and Britons to Roman religion, they just syncretised. Same with the Greeks in the wake of Alexander, who just overlayed their beliefs onto local ones without really challenging them. Even the monotheistic Zoroastrian Persians didn't bother persecuting other belief systems, Achaemenid and Arascid kings were quite happy to co-opt local beliefs.

Christianity was different. Judaism and related beliefs like Samaritanism were/are intolerant of syncretism, but were also ethnic religions uninterested in converting the world. Zoroastrianism and Buddhism were/are universalist, but not aggressive, both are and were fairly tolerant towards other belief systems so long as they aren't a threat. So nobody quite knew how to deal with this weird new apocalypse cult (early Christians were fairly certain that the apocalypse was going to come soon) that told its members that it and only it could allow people to avoid eternal torment and that it was their duty to convert everyone they could, that all other gods and belief systems are at best fake and at worst evil. This unusual set of beliefs meant that nobody was prepared to resist when they banned other beliefs and practices (which, given that most polytheistic religions are orthopractic rather than orthodoctic, this is the relevant bit) and closed the temples. Even then, it took centuries to stamp out Mediterranean polytheistic practices, with the city of Harran, in what is now Syria, remaining pagan into the Islamic period and maintaining its temples and Neoplatonic academy, even sending scholars and philosophers to the Caliph's court.
Very much this. Christianity only really took off once it was adopted by the State. Before then it was a minority religion. Keeping it from being adopted by the states, then you keep the various polytheistic religions of the Mediterranean around.

Anyways, in regards to polytheistic cultures, I would argue that both Shintoism and Taoism are polytheistic religions. Yes Buddhism is a religion that mixes with them, but that doesn't mean that they aren't polytheistic. Of course due to the nature of things post-1900(ie the Chinese Revolutions and cultural revolution) it isn't quite the position of China today as it would have been in the past.

All this said, I keep getting the idea of doing a timeline that focuses on a polytheistic world. :coldsweat:
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
Very much this. Christianity only really took off once it was adopted by the State. Before then it was a minority religion. Keeping it from being adopted by the states, then you keep the various polytheistic religions of the Mediterranean around.

Anyways, in regards to polytheistic cultures, I would argue that both Shintoism and Taoism are polytheistic religions. Yes Buddhism is a religion that mixes with them, but that doesn't mean that they aren't polytheistic. Of course due to the nature of things post-1900(ie the Chinese Revolutions and cultural revolution) it isn't quite the position of China today as it would have been in the past.

All this said, I keep getting the idea of doing a timeline that focuses on a polytheistic world. :coldsweat:
Taoism seems polytheistic and nontheistic at the same time.
Just take a look at this excerpt from wikipedia:
"Taoist theology can be defined as apophatic, given its philosophical emphasis on the formlessness and unknowable nature of the Tao, and the primacy of the "Way" rather than anthropomorphic concepts of God."
"Despite these hierarchies of deities, traditional conceptions of Tao should not be confused with the Western theism. Being one with the Tao does not necessarily indicate a union with an eternal spirit in, for example, the Hindu sense."
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism#Theology
It seems Taoism is more similar to Buddhism or Jainism rather than hinduism.
 
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am simply talking about a religious doctrine that accommodates and/or promulgates polytheistic beliefs, like Advaita Vedanta,
But the doctrine of advaita vedanta is strictly monist, and thus monotheistic, so that's as far from polytheism as you can get- in a way, the "orthodox" position is monotheism but the "orthoprax" position is polytheism, and it takes a pretty protestant understanding of religion as comprised solely of a set of dogma and beliefs to disregard the way that people actually interact with religion in favour of what the theologians agree they should "believe".
 

PsyloSurgeon

Gone Fishin'
But the doctrine of advaita vedanta is strictly monist, and thus monotheistic, so that's as far from polytheism as you can get- in a way, the "orthodox" position is monotheism but the "orthoprax" position is polytheism, and it takes a pretty protestant understanding of religion as comprised solely of a set of dogma and beliefs to disregard the way that people actually interact with religion in favour of what the theologians agree they should "believe".
Monism =/= monotheism. Advaita Vedanta recognizes 5 deities, Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, and Surya to be worshipped. Yes, the monotheism/polytheism dichotomy is rather of prejudice and ignorance than of reality; however Advaita Vedanta recognizes plurality of worship rather than Islam or Judaism or Christianity advocates.
 
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