Hinduism: an umbrella term for a wide range of religious beliefs and practices- an individual Hindu's practices generally reflect their family tradition, but influences may cause an individual's beliefs and practices to change- Hindus are tolerant of diversity in ideas about the nature of God/ the Absolute- they are tolerant of diverse practices and pathways to the Divine- the Gita supported and promoted such tolerance of diversity- dissolved tensions among theism, bhakti, renunciation and liberation- Hindus worship a huge assortment of deities in various ways and for various ends-they may worship these deities regularly, henotheistically; especially during the deity's festival period (like a birthday)
Some important deitiesBrahma: vedic creator god;depicted with four heads; the creator (not supreme)-often seated on a lotus which grows out of Vishnu's navelSarasuti: Brahma's wife/ consort/ female counterpart-goddess of creativity (the arts and learning)-depicted with four arms, holding prayer beads, the Vedas and lute-particularly worshiped by students and educators Kali: Black, naked goddess, with matted hair-often regarded as the female counterpart of Shiva (in his destructive aspect)-has a lolling tongue dripping with blood- wields a sword and severed human head-often depicted standing on top of Shiva (below her like a lifeless corpse)-symbolic of the power (e.g., time) which destroys all, even the cosmos-Kali is the dark side of things but not negativeShiva: together with Vishnu, one of the two great gods in Hinduism- often depicted as a renouncer or a great yogi- possess a third eye (wisdom eye) in the middle of hims forehead- the river goddess, Ganga (the Ganges), flows down his hair- worshiped in the from an erect phallus (linga)- destroys the cosmos at the end of each cosmic cycle; the destroyer- has a bull as his mount/vehicle (vahana)Lakshmi: beautiful goddess clad in a red sari; consort of Vishnu- depicted atop a lotus flower; often with gold coins streaming from her hands- symbol of good fortune, luck, wealth, fertility- worshiped during the festival of Davali (the festival of lights); lamps invite Lakshmi into homes; firecrackers frighten away demons; worshiped by all, especially the business community Krishna; the most widely worshiped of Vishnu's avatars-well-known as the teacher of teachers in the Bhagavad Gita; but also known for myths of his earlier life-story-an irresistible flute-playing cow-heard, who charms the village milkmaids (Gopi); the Gopi's are symbols of soul's yearning for the divine- worshiped on Holi, a spring festival of color; class distinction are erasedGanesha: Chubby, elephant-headed son of Shiva-presides over obstacles; propitiated before any undertakingDurga: the great goddess in Hinduism-sometimes just called Devi (Goddess), or Ma (mother)- depicted with many arms each wielding a weapon of the gods; multiple arms symbolically represented a deity's may powers - power of all the gods together - in a renowned myth she destroys a buffalo demon- she is also Sakti, the power that animates the entire cosmos- all goddesses are constructed to be merely aspects of Devi (Durga)
Philosophies based on the questions raised in the Upanishads are called Vedanta-Vedanta; "latter (anta) part of the Vedas"
SHANKARA'S Non-DualismVedanta received a major boost in the 8th/9th CE through Shankara-Shankara: influential Hindu philosopher of radical non-dualism (advaita)-also developed a formal monastic system for samnyasins (renouncers) -remouncers belonging to formal systems are called swamisAbsolute Reality in Shankara's Advaita Vedanta is known as Brahman-this is true foundation of all reality; it is the one and only thing in existence- we perceive a world of many things (ourselves, other, etc.) due to Maya-Maya: a power of illusion (dependent on Brahman), which keeps us deluded-because of Maya, we don't know Brahman, nor our true natures; our egos shape our ideas about our ideas ( also illusion)-our true self is the Atman (the self beyond all illusory ego formulations)-to discover Atman is to attain Moksha (Liberation)To Shankara, mediation ripens transcendental knowledge (jnana)-it pierces the veil of Maya and leads to realization of Atman-this is the discovery that Atman is Brhman-there is nothing excepted Brhman. It is the only realitySnake and Rope analogy explains the relationship between Maya and Brahman-Maya is superimposed on Brahman, like and illusory snake on a rope-Brahman cannot be described/explained (it is the source of explanations)-but when conceptualized, Brahman is Sat (being/existence itself) Cit (consciousness itself) Ananda (Bliss)Swami vivekananda was significant in introducing Hinduism to the west- was a disciple of the eccentric Hindu saint, sri ramakrishna- the Vedanata society that vivekananda started was very influential
Rels 1000 Hindu vocab 1. Advaita - radical non-dualism. Absolute Reality in Sankara's Advaita Vedanta is known as Brahman 2. Agni - god of fire (transports sacrificial offerings to other gods) 3. ahimsa - nonviolence 4. ananda - unbounded bliss 5. arati - fire; flame of an offertory fire 6. Arjuna - greatest Pandava warrior in the Epic of Mahabharata 7. artha - one of the Four Goals of Life; the pursuit of wealth, power, and attainments through the development of one's potential 8. Aryans - Noble Ones from Europe who entered Indian subcontinent bringing with them the Vedas, which were religious texts 9. Atman - our true self beyond all illusions; To know the Atman is to attain moksha. The Atman is Brahman. 10. avatara - incarnate being of a God/Goddess 11. Bhagavad-Gita - song of the lord - most important book in Hinduism, taken from the Epic of Mahabharata, contains lessons on the meaning of life, facing choices, existential life crisis, and dealing with oppression and justice. It is from a conversation between Arjuna the warrior and Krsna the god Visnu in human form. Krsna teaches Arjuna the three yogas (Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga). 12. bhakti yoga - liberation through devotion; introduced through the Bhagavad-Gita; loving devotion in forms of worship: puja, prayer, song, and pilgrimage 13. Brahma - the Vedic creator god; depicted with four heads, seated on a lotus flower which grows out of Visnu's navel 14. Brahman - the one and only thing in existence; cannot be explained because it is the source of explanations; it is sat (being/existence), cit (consciousness), and ananda (bliss). Atman is Brahman. 15. brahmin - priestly, educated class 16. cit/chit - absolute consciousness 17. darsana - going for an audience with a deity 18. Devi - goddess 19. dharma - duty, righteousness; behaviour aligned with the cosmic order; one of the Four Goals of Life, one is expected to understand the meaning of duty or righteousness, and apply it in one's life 20. Dharma Sastras/ Shastras - texts on the laws of what is dharmic behaviour 21. dhyana - practice of meditation in yoga 22. Divali - a festival of lights celebrated on the new moon between mid-October and mid-November. Homes are painted and decorated with lamps, firecrackers are set off, and people buy new clothes and feast. The festival marks the victory of light over darkness, and begins the new-year for many communities 23. Dravidian - Indus Valley Civilization, non-Aryan, Sanskrit language 24. Durga - Great Goddess; is Sakti, the power which animates all of the cosmos, all goddesses are aspects of her 25. Dyaus-pitr - sky god (Jupiter, Zeus) 26. forest-dweller - third stage of life prescribed for grandparents; often involves retiring to live a simple life dedicated to religious study 27. Ganesh/ Ganesa - popular, elephant-headed, potbellied deity; leader of Shiva's forces who presides over obstacles 28. Ganga - River goddess 29. guru - one's teacher; generally used to designate the most important guide and mentor in one's spiritual development 30. Hanuman - the monkey god; he is protector 31. Harappa - Indus Valley Civilization 32. Hare Kr.s.n.a movement - bhakti-oriented Hindu group; public dancing and chanting of Krsna's name to publically show loving devotion 33. henotheism - tendency in a polytheist system of many gods, to raise whichever one is being adored to the highest position 34. Hindu 35. Hinduism 36. householder - the second stage of life, marriage and work; one is expected to conduct the household rituals, contribute to society, and raise children, particularly a male heir 37. Indra - Vedic deity, warrior god 38. Indus Valley Civilization 39. jnana yoga - realization/liberation through transcendental knowledge, prescribed for the intellectual person 40. Kali - goddess of destruction, female counterpart to Shiva 41. Kalki - 10th avatara of Visnu; still to come 42. kama - one of the Four Goals of Life; knowledge of love, sexual and sensual pleasure, joy, and happiness 43. karma - moral principle of cause and effect 44. karma yoga - liberation through action, example Gandhi 45. Kauravas - evil cousins in the Epic of Mahabharata 46. Krsna/ Krishna - god Visnu in human form; symbol of soul's yearning for the Divine 47. ksatriya - second class in Hindu society; kings, nobility, warriors, landlords 48. Laksmi - beautiful goddess in red sari; consort of Visnu; symbol of good fortunes,luck, wealth, and fertility 49. linga - erect phallus; Shiva is worshipped in this form 50. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) - Proponent of active, but non-violent resistance to oppression, used in the struggle for Indian independence from British rule; endorsed Karma Yoga, "do the right thing, without a psychological fixation on the outcome." 51. mala - prayer beads 52. mantra - sacred utterance, sound, or phrase 53. marriage rite - most important rite of passage for men and women; usually arranged; functions as a sacred thread ceremony for women; during marriage the householder stage and goals of kama and artha can be pursued 54. maya - the power of illusion, because of maya we do not know Brahman nor our true natures. Maya is dependent on Brahman, but shaped by our egos. 55. Mohenjo-daro - major city in the Indus Valley Civilization 56. moksa - self-realization; one of the Four Goals of Life; liberation from the bondage of worldly existence, and the cycles of reincarnation through self-realization 57. non-dualism/monism - Brahman proposed by Hindu philosopher Shakara/Sankara 58. Pandavas - five heroic brothers who fight to regain their kingdom in the Epic of Mahabharata 59. polytheism - belief in a divine world of many gods and spiritual forces 60. Prithivi - earth goddess 61. puja - devotional worship of deities with offerings of flowers, incense, flame, food, and a prayer 62. raja yoga - Royal Yoga, which centers on stopping the "turnings of thought" and offers eight aspects (limbs) that need to be developed in order to perfect it 63. Rama - the prince in the Epic of Ramayana who wins back Sita with the help of the monkey Hanuman 64. Ramana Maharsi - modern Hindu sage who promoted inquiry (vicara) 65. Ravana - the evil demon in the Epic of Ramayana who kidnaps Sita 66. rsi/rishi - seers; semi-divine sages 67. sacred-thread ceremony - marks the beginning of the four stages of life for a Hindu boy (age 8 - 14) who is given a special thread and enters "religious life" 68. Sankara 69. Sakti - the power which animates the entire cosmos; possessed by the Great Goddess Durga 70. samadhi - the highest states of meditative absorption; in the highest state of Samadhi, one attains oneness witht the true self (moksha) 71. Sanskrit - cultured/ perfected, was the language of the Aryans 72. samnyasin - renouncer; leaves behind society; becomes a beggar; wears a saffron robe; seeks to attain moksha 73. Sarasvati - Brahma's female counterpart. Is the goddess of creativity, arts, and learning, worshipped by students and educators 74. samsara - worldly existence 75. sat - being/ existence itself 76. Sita - Rama's wife in the Epic Ramayana, who is kidnapped but remains chaste for her husband and serves as a model of the ideal Hindu wife; Sita's Fire Ordeal exemplifies her devotion 77. Siva/ Shiva - Great God; animal skins, great yogi, possess third eye, bull as a mount, controls cosmos 78. smrti - traditional, remembered 79. student - boy receiving education from ages 12-24; formal boarding school education with a guru; pursues the goal of understanding dharma 80. Soma - hallucinogenic plant, Vedic deity 81. sruti/ shruti - divinely heard; revealed 82. sudra - servants and menial workers; lower class above the untouchables 83. Surya - the sun 84. The Mahabharata - Hindu epic of the five Pandava princes 85. The Ramayana - Hindu epic of the adventures of Rama 86. The Laws of Manu - text on dharmic behaviour; describes dharmic principles for the four classes; include descriptions of cosmogony (creation of the cosmos), the duties of the classes, the four stages and goals of life, daily rituals, rites of passage, purity and pollution, rules concerning the lives of women, etc. 87. The Upanisads - the last portion of the Vedic literature (Vedanta) including philosophical texts speculating on Absolute Reality and the individual 88. The Vedas - religious texts of the Aryans; originally oral; include four collections of eloquent hymns addressed to Vedic deities 89. The Rg Veda - oldest collection of Vedic hymns 90. twice-born - upper three classes of Hindu society: the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas 91. untouchables - lowest class in Hindu society; performed the most polluting jobs; were the outcaste group 92. vahana - mount/vehicle that gods ride 93. vaisya - third class; merchants; twice-born 94. Vedanta - Vedic literature; philosophies that develop from philosophical speculations 95. Visnu/ Vishnu - Great God periodically incarnates (avatara) to preserve cosmic balance; was Rama and Krsna 96. yajna - Vedic sacrifice (offerings into a ritually constructed square fire pit) 97. yoga - Yogas are paths of physical and psychological practices whose goal is liberation (moksha). There are numerous types of Yoga in Hindu practice. 98. yoni - stone receptable into which a linga is often place. Effigy of the female procreative organ and symbol of the Devi, it is regarded as the source from which creation emerges. The linga/yoni conveys that the Absolute embodies, yet transcends, male and female principles Yogi - a person who is wholly committed to the discipline of yoga, a philosophy promulgating the complete integration of oneself with the Absolute, through specific, often austere, psycho-physical practices