Axial age. Period around the 6th cent. BCE, when religions were instrumental in effecting great changes in history and civilization. The term was used by Karl Jaspers to draw attention to the rise to prominence of great religious leaders and innovations which established the basis of the great civilizations until the disturbance of those patterns by the European enlightenment and expansion of trade and empire. He drew attention to Zoroaster, the Upaniṣads, the Buddha, Mahāvīra, Confucius, the emergence of Taoism.
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