Hinduism

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Rel 1000 Note on Hinduism, created by michellemjredman on 11/11/2013.

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-Hinduism is the name of an assortment of beliefs and practices-the majority of Hindus live on the Indian subcontinent (c.800 million)-Nepal is another country with a majority Hindu population (considered the last Hindu Kingdom)-the island of Bali (Indonesia) also has a disincentive Hinduism- due to immigration, Hindus are found through out the world

Early Beginnings1. 2500- 1500 BCE : Indus Valley Civilization-widespread culture; major city centers @ Mohenjo- Daro and Harappa -mostly built with brick-arky evidence of "Hindu-like" practices  e.g, bathing tanks and "goddess" figurines-had clay tablets/ seals with undecipherable script-Indus Valley Civilization most likely transformed into Dravidian (southern) Civilization

2.1200 BCE : The Aryan Migration-nomadic Aryans (Nobel ones) entered the Indian Subcontinent-had the war chariot and hard metal weapons-brought with them the Vedas, their religious text-language was 69.Sanskrit ("cultured/perfected")-intermingled with the Dravidian and a class/caste system emerged-priestly class 

-originally memorized -oral-Veda= knowledge 

HINDUISM

The Vedas : 4 collections of eloquent hymns addressed to vedic deities (gods/goddesses) -the oldest collection is the Rig-Veda (over 1000 hymns),(was made on palm leaf)-the Vedic deities are personified powers of nature (manly male) e.g, Agni - god of fire; transports sacrificial offerings to other gods       Indra - god of thunder and lightning (200 hymns)      Soma - sacred (hallucinogenic) plant       Dyaus-Pitri - sky God      Prithivi - earth goddess      Surya - the sunThe Vedas demonstrate Henotheism (32) : each god, when worshiped, is elevated to the highest position; there is no clearly defined hierarchy among the gods"Vedic Scripture" is made up of more than the four hymn collections-includes texts on sacrificial ritual performance and philosophical speculation-the sacrificial texts are called the Brahmanas (14); describe Vedic sacrifice as yajna (96) - the philosophical texts are the Upanishads (90) 

 - the Upanishads are from the last portion (anta) of the vedic scripture-philosophical speculation on absolute reality and the individual -schools of philosophy based on the Upanishads, are known as Vedanta(93)- who am i?, absolute truth of the world?, relationship between the two

Yajna: Vedic Sacrifice (offerings into a ritually constructed square fire pit)-Vedic hymns would be recited at appropriate points in the ritual -Brahmans (the priestly class) were skilled in Vedic hymns and ritual-had high purity, so only the Brahmans could perform ritual worship of the gods; did so on the behalf of other classes (e.g., kings and other laypersons)-ritual exactitude (a "science") would compel the gods to respond-there was a reciprocal relationship between gods and humans  -Yajna nourished the gods, who in turn maintained cosmic stability 

Vedic "scripture" enjoys a very special status in Hinduism -(i.e., four hymn collection (Vedas), the Brahmanas, to the Upanishads)-they are regarded as shruti (divinely heard; i.e., revealed)-they were composed by the Rishis (seers); semi-divine sages-all other Hindus scripture is regarded a Smriti (traditional remembered) -the source came from something beyond the gods-channeled through the seers (may be more important/ healed higher)-shruti- scripture

The 4 classes of Hindu society - these are socio-economic divisions (reinforced by religious beliefs)  BRAHMANS (priestly educated class) KSHATRIYAS ( kings, nobility, landlords) UAISHYAS (commoners, merchants, artisans) SHURDRAS ( servants, menial workers) Below the 4 classes, there is the classless or out-caste group   5. The Untouchables (barbarians/foreigners, offspring of mixed classes)                    -performed the most "ritually polluting" jobs (i.e., cremating dead)                    -ritual pollution is believed to pass from impure to pure (moves like a sickness)                    -thus is made them "untouchable" to the purest Brahmans -the Vedas reveal a belief that the cosmos operate in an orderly manner-Rita - term for the cosmic order; later replaced by dhrama-Dharma- (duty, righteousness) behavior aligned with the cosmic order- you behavior, understanding cosmic order and aligning your self with itthe Dhrama Shasta: large treaties on what is dharmic behavior - there are many such texts; they belong to the Smariti category  - one famous one is The Law of Manu-generally describe orthodox dharmic principles for 4 classes- includes description of : cosmogony (creation of the cosmos), the duties of the classes; four stages and goals of life; daily rituals/ rites of passage/ purity and pollution; rules concerning the lives of women, etc-only follow rigorously by the most orthodox of HindusModern women challenge certain attitudes promoted in the Dharma Shastras.- women were expected to be under the protection (control) of men always- periodically ritually impure during their menstrual period   

THE 4 STAGES OF LIFE AND THE 4 GOALS OF LIFEThe four stages of life are : 1. Student 2. Householder 3. Forest- dweller 4. SamnyasinThe four goals of life are : 1.Dharma 2. Artha 3.Kama 4. Moksha

1. Student (formal "boarding school" education (12-24 years) with a guru; the student begins to pursue the goal of 1) understanding dharma; expected to refrain from sex and focus all energy on formal studies; girls traditionally learned at home from their mothers; nowadays most boys and girls go to public schools- also known as brhmacarya, synonymous with chastity

2. householder(marked by the marriage ceremony and beginning of work) ; marriage is the most important rate of passage for men and women; marriages generally arranged; should be within ones class/caste group; during this stage, husband and wife pursue two goals 2) Kama : love/ pleasure (erotic,sensual|), spouse, in-laws, children; much more then sexual love.Its about getting to know spouse 3) Artha: skill/ know-how/ money, develop one's professional abilities, provide for one's family, live within ones means, conduct house hold and public religious rituals; ie if your a potter you want to become a the best potter you can be, women learn to live within their means and be a good homemaker DEVELOPING YOU OWN SKILL-ensure that both you and your children perform the  cyclical rituals - stage upholds dharma- best known treaties on artha is the Artha Sastra, by kautilya, minister of candragupta maurya

3. forest- dweller(retirement from work and householder's life);prescribed for grandparents; wealth is transferred to children; one begins to read scripture and think about the meaning of life; most Hindus do not retire to the forest

4. Samnyasin/ sannyanin (renouncer); prescribed but not common stage; in this stage, one has one's death rituals performed; puts on a saffron colored rode, takes a staff and begging bowl; becomes a wandering seeker, renouncing all social ties and obligations;seeks to attain the final and highest goal: 4) moksha (release/liberation); renounce society your family etc., do your death rituals so that they don't have to worry about it; go wandering to find the meaning of life; they are given food from other people and don't stay in one place for longer than 3 days

Hindus believe that the cosmos itself arises, exists, and dies, time and again.-the time scale of these cosmic cycles are vast (comparable to modern science)-living beings, too, endure cyclical birth, existence and death (reincarnation)-various types of beings inhabit the 3 realms (earth, heavens, underworld)- gods and titans - heavens- humans and animals - earth-ghosts and demons - underworld- all are subject to the nearly endless cycles of rebirth -samsara: worldly existence and the almost ceaseless rebirths within it- the circumstances of worldly life and rebirth are controlled by karma; you get what you deserve because of the cosmos; everything you think/do/feel has a cause

karma: a moral principle of  "cause and effect"- it is not presided over by  deity, but exists independently-karma determines our present and future circumstances-class, appearance, dispositions and experiences are all caused by karma-each thought, word, deep plants a seed for future karma-good seeds lead to good karmic effect; bad seeds lead to bad karma-karmic seeds may be periods for long periods, fruiting after many lifetimes-ignorance of the nature of ourselves ans reality leads us to karmic error-we are stuck in samarium existence by karma, prone to suffering 

 Daram (in Hinduism) prescribed righteous behavior;darma is a guide to enable us to reduce bad karmic consequences; dharam prescriptions are found in the Dharam shartas and other literature; dharma is only a guide to avoiding bad karma and gaining good karam

Moksha: spiritual liberation of self- realization- not only discovering out true nature will grant us freedom/liberation; this freedom, which comes from faith, darma, or even good karma- self- realization (moksha) doesn't come from faith, darma, or even good karma; it is a result of freedom from the illusions about the self ans reality; such illusions may include beliefs in gods, rituals, rebirth, heaven, hell etc-different ideas about the nature of the true self, and absolute reality developed, so did prescriptions about ho to free oneself from illusions and gain liberation

another influential set of Hindu writings are the epics (long narratives)- the two most important Hindu epics are RAMYANA and MAHABHARATA- significant because they teach about dharma through engaging stories- also teach Hindu philosophy-develop the mythology of gods that are now more popular than the Vedic Deities

 The RAMYANA is the tale of prince Rama, sent into exile with his wife SITA -Sita is kidnapped by the demon Ravana who tries for a year to seduce her-Rama is helped by the monkey HANUMAN, and eventually kills Ravana-Rama (incarnation of Vishnu), Site and Hanuman are worshiped as deities-Rama serves as a model for the ideal ruler; moral of the story is that following Dharma = following/meeting the cosmic order; Rama puts dharmic duty over personal wants - Sita, who has remained chaste and faithful, is a model of the ideal Hindu wife-Hanuman is a model of the ideal devotes, serving Rama loyally

The MAHABHARATA is the tale of five brothers, the Pandava princes- the Kauravas, evil cousins, deny them their 1/2 kingdom after a 13 year exile ( exiled for 13 years because they lost a game of poker)-this leads to a terrible war between the Pandava and Kauravas- the greatest Pandava warrior is ARJUNA, without whose prowess they would lose; but Arjuna has an existential crisis on the eve of the war, and will not fight; KRISHNA, his friend and charioteer, counsels him-this conversation is known as the BHAGAVAD- GITA (song of the lord)-Krishna is god (Uishnu) incarnation in human from-he teaches Arjuna three yoga's (pathways to moksha)- Arjuna fights and they win

Although within the smariti category, the Bhagavad Gita is very influential- it may be the most read and most ... Hindu scripture- the Gita teaches that there are innumerable paths/ approaches to moksha- they broadly fall into 3 categories; reflective of people's temperament- gods come in human form because they are more easy to relate to her- these are Karma Yoga, Bhaki Yoga, and Jnana Yoga-Vedanta philosophies draw upon the teachings of the Gita and the Upanishads

Karma Yoga: (liberation through action [karma])- traditionally karmic action meant doing one's caste duties, doing rituals, etc.- original objectives of action was good rebirth on earth or heaven (no moksha)- the Bhagavad- Gita shifted emphasis and outcome to moksha- it teaches the moksha is possible through ritual dharmic action- this supported priestly orthodoxy- but karmic action could also mean, doing any of life's regular activities- the key is "non attachment to the fruits (or outcomes) of action"- renunciation was an attitude to action, not necessarily the rejection of life- one could be a student, house-holder, or forest-dweller and be a renounce

Mahatma Gandhi: (modern Indian leader)exemplified a power interpretation -inspired by the Gita, to fight (like Arjuna) against oppression-Gandhi fought for India's independence from the British colonial rule   -his approach was active, but non-violent (ahimsa) resistance against oppression-"do the right thing, without a psychological fixation on the outcome."-this kind of action (karma) liberates you from bondage at all egotistical illusions-karma yoga is also understood as "selfless action"-included charity, social work, voluntary service, ect (Mother Theresa) 

Bhakti yoga: (liberation through loving devotion [bhakti])-Bhakti is first developed  in the Bhagavad- Gita-launches devotional ism (most common Hindu religious practice); requires one to offer thought, word, and deed to a personal god (theism); huge range of personal deities are found in the Hindu tradition-in the Bhagavad- Gita, Krishna is the object of devotion-but the Gita promotes the worship of any deity and any sincere method; bhaktti is open to all regardless of caste, gender etc; selfless loving devotion requires no ritual skill or knowledge-so it is sometimes regarded as an easy method for attaining moksha-renunciation is accomplished by "offering" everything to the Divine-over time, traditional method for displaying devotion to deities emerged-the traditional term for Hindu devotional worship rituals is puja; visiting temples, singing hymns, doing pilgrimages, are also bhakti activities-some Vedanta philosophies promote Bhakti as the best approach to moksha

puja: Hindu worship of deities at home or in a temple- offerings of flowers, incense, a flame (arati), food, a prayer- food offerings are regarded as blessed- while the outcome of yajna rituals is assured, puja is based on hope-bhakti suggests a certain helplessness; it encourages selflessness; deities are not obliged to respond

Darshana: going to a temple for an audience (to see and be seen by) with a deity-some Hindu temples are small shrines, while others are enormous institutions-the inner sanctions of a temple often holds an image of the deity; temples are regarded as abodes, home, or palaces deities-temples are great centers of learning; they are dark and hard to see in because it would be hard to see a god

Hindus also go on pilgrimages, perform fasts and undertake other austerities-the kumbha mela is the world's largest pilgrimage (c.15 million  or more)

Jnana yoga: (realization/liberation through transcendental knowledge)- regarded as a difficult path (suited to the intellectual temperament)- some Vedanta philosophies (e.g., Shankara's Non-dualism)

Yoga (union, to yoke): liberation philosophies, often with body-mind practices-Raja Yoga (royal yoga) : an influential ancient example of the path of knowledge -objective is to silence (utterly) the mind and attain self-realization (moksha)-it describes various "limbs" or aspects which need to be developed-first, there is a moral basis (dos and don'ts) - includes non-violence (ahimsa), non-stealing, truthfulness, self-study, etc.-then, there are practices of posture and breath control - posture work is often highlighted in western yoga studios; here the spiritual objectives is mostly ignored in favor of physical ends-finally, one moves to practice of concentration and meditation (dhyana) ; concentration may be on a sacred sound or phrase (mantra)- the highest states of meditation absorption are known as samadhi- in the highest samadhi one is said to attain oneness with the true self-there is renunciation of attachment to any movement of thought-both the path and the goal are sometimes known as Yoga

Story of sage Yajnavalk and his two wives, katyayani and Maitrey illustrates that women were not excluded from spiritual teachings; Maitrey appears as a fully realized teacher in other stories; part of the brahadaranyaka upanisad

Story of the sage Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu illustrates that mere birth as a Brahmin is not a true marker of status.-formal Vedic education took 12 years, the most profound learning consisted of realizing that subtle essence of all things; tat tvam asi; that thou art ( you are that)-brahman is hidden, invisible, but everywhere; realization = moksa or mukti

Atman and BrahmanAlthough quite diverse in content, the Upanisads generally agree that:1. knowledge is preferable to ignorance2. knowledge of the spiritual is superior to knowledge  of the physical 3.proper action and knowledge crucial for moksa from cycle of rebirth4. knowledge of one's innermost spiritual being is crucial5. a life of discipline is necessary to attain spiritual goals6. the manifest universe is the act of one divine agency This Divine Angency os known as the supreme Brahman. It is depicted as;1. the transcendental universal being prior to any manifest, created reality2. the principle which causes all differentiation3. the innermost essence of the created universe4. the created universe itselfThe individual consciousness, the self (Atman), is equated with Brahman; one can understand Atman/ Brahman by contemplating one's own consciousness

sruti and smrti-all for genres of the Vedas (samhitas, brahmans, aranyakas, and upanisades) are regarded as sruti - divinely heard or revealed to the rsis (semi-divine perceivers)- all other religious literature is smrti (to remember)- composed by human beings and passed down as tradidtion though generations- special status granted to the Vedas, the Veda, or Vedic scripture -other texts developed that

Astrology- the study of luminaries in the heavens-important factor in determining the appropriate times for conducting rituals -9 celestial forces known as graha, that are semi-divine and affect human activities -recognizes the same 12 signs of the zodiac-nava-graha shrines receive regular attention, particularly on Tuesdays - rules by Mars and Saturdays - rules by Saturn ; both are pernicious grahas -offerings to the grahas ward off inauspicious planetary influences -astrology plays a key factor in determining when weddings will be held- astrology charts are consulted to check id marriageable partners are suitable

Ayurveda- traditional Hindu knowledge of life; an Upaveda, supplemental to the Vedas- still widely practiced in India today, along with western- styled medicine

Dharma and the individualA long standing tension in many Asian religious philosophies:-liberation (mosksa) through renunciation vs. social engagement (dharma)-responses: dharma and moksa are worthy goals; stages in life to best pursue particular goalsSamskara: Hindu Rites of Passage - life should be lived in sequential stages in accord  with one's varna and gender- each stage marked with an appropriate life-cycle ritual or samskara- participation certifies that one is a member of the Hindu tradition- as many as 40 samskara's prescribed, but only about 12 are commonly discussed - most important are the Investiture with the Sacred Thread, Marriage, and Cremation - through samskara Hindus affirms the religious authority of the Brahmin priest The Sacred Thread (Upanayana) :- prescribed for males twice-born (dvija) adolescent - said to grant a second birth; initiation into the sacred knowledge of sacrifice - boy must shave his head leaving only a tuft of hair, known as Sikha; he is given a staff, belt and antelope skin, symbolic of the ascetics, few possessions- given a sacred thread; the priest whispers the Gayatri mantra in the boys ear- transmission of the sacred verse (manta) is a common mode of spiritual initiation (diksa)- embodies a fusion of the renouncer's way of life with the values of the householder- marks entry into the student stage of life, the first of four prescribed stages

Dharma and the individualA long standing tension in many Asian religious philosophies:-liberation (mosksa) through renunciation vs. social engagement (dharma)-responses: dharma and moksa are worthy goals; stages in life to best pursue particular goalsSamskara: Hindu Rites of Passage - life should be lived in sequential stages in accord  with one's varna and gender- each stage marked with an appropriate life-cycle ritual or samskara- participation certifies that one is a member of the Hindu tradition- as many as 40 samskara's prescribed, but only about 12 are commonly discussed - most important are the Investiture with the Sacred Thread, Marriage, and Cremation - through samskara Hindus affirms the religious authority of the Brahmin priest The Sacred Thread (Upanayana) :- prescribed for males twice-born (dvija) adolescent - said to grant a second birth; initiation into the sacred knowledge of sacrifice - boy must shave his head leaving only a tuft of hair, known as Sikha; he is given a staff, belt and antelope skin, symbolic of the ascetics, few possessions- given a sacred thread; the priest whispers the Gayatri mantra in the boys ear- transmission of the sacred verse (manta) is a common mode of spiritual initiation (diksa)- embodies a fusion of the renouncer's way of life with the values of the householder- marks entry into the student stage of life, the first of four prescribed stagesMarriage (vivaha)Marriage forms the cornerstone of Hindu religious life- marks girl's entrance into spiritual life; for both, marks the beginning of householder- thus they support most other institutions religious forms- Hindu marriages are responsible for the regular performance of religious rites- Hindu marriages generally arranged by parents- castes, age education... are important features in the decision marking process- the prospective couple meet a few times to get to know each other-astrology charts are consulted; horoscopic incompatibility would lead to an annulment - men are able to remarry if the couple is unable to have children; women usually do not remarry Hindu marriage is not primarily the joining together due to their manual love for each other, "love-based" attraction are envisioned as having unpleasant results for all concerned. marriages link individuals and connect family lineages. The man goal of marriage is to produce offspring, preferably  a male heir. The Hindu wedding ritual - varies considerably by region; costly, often putting families of bride and groom in debt; more expensive for the family of the bride is dowry tradition if followed- wedded couple emulates the kingly paradigm; the daughter is gifted to the groom-bride becomes part of the grooms family and leave her own- groom leads the bride around the sacred fire; followed by the spatapadi rite; leads the bride to take seven steps in a northerly direction; highpoint of the ceremony; this rite legally sanctions the marriage; the groom ties a thread neaklace symbolizing auspiciousness on the bride; applies bright red powder between the part in her hair- symbolizes married status

House holder samskaras:-there are a large number prescribed for house holders-most Hindus only follow these ritese.g., Hair cutting is prescribed for the first and third year- tonsure is an integral part of many Hindu ritesAntyesti: the final sacrifice- the  final sacrifice of a twice-born  Hindu, in which the final oblation is one self- return to the unitize source thought sacrificial oblations- when a person dies they become a preta: a being who has "departed" this life- grieving may occur win the home; closest relatives enter ritual pollution for about 12 days- sraddha : death and mourning rituals - purpose is to reconstruct body of the preta to journey to pitr-loka ; constructed from flour balls known as pindas- if sradda rites are not perfumed, many Hindus fear the deceased will remain a spirit-

Vowed Ascetic Observances (vrata) and Auspiciousness ( saubhagya)

INTO, Early beginnings, The Vedas

Orthodox Hindu Values

Hindu cosmology and moksha

The epics

the bhagavad gita and its 3 types of yogas

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