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RELG 350 (1)

Bhakti Hinduism - Lecture 1.docx

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Religious Studies
RELG 350
Darry Dinnell

Bhakti Hinduism - 9/11/2012 8:14:00 PM Bhakti & Approaches to Embodied Religion Critical Trajectories  What is the importance of embodiment to Bhakti Religiosity?  Are bhakti Traditions caste-inclusive?  What is the role of female bhaktas? Does bhakti liberate them from preordained gender roles (i.e. marriage, domesticity)?  What is the place of vernacular in bhakti traditions? How does language and locale shape religious identity? Multiple Hinduisms  Philosophy – darsana  Veda  Tantra  Bhakti  Ethnics  Rituals of the village  Domestic worship  Literary, visual and performing arts  Temple worship  Epic narratives Hindu Literature  Sruti (heard) o Does not have a human origin – preexisted humans o Radio waves that always permeated the universe – the rishis were the first to pick up upon these waves and codify them as the Vedas  Vedas  Valued more for their ritual elements than their meaning  Throughout antiquity male Brahmans have exclusive access to these texts  Vedas become standard of authority  Vedic culture  Largely focused on the worship of agni, the divine in the form of fire  Fire sacrifices called yajna or homa were the primary media through which religious activity was accomplished  The fire carried offerings up to the divine realms  Performed at home or in public  Upanishads/Vedanta  Vedanta Lit. “end of the Veda”  Upanishads from the basic texts of the philosophical school called Vedanta that develops a little later  Vedanta focuses on non-duality (for example, Advaita)  Stresses asceticism and withdrawal  Liberation comes with knowledge of Brahman (an intellectual achievement)  Vedantic Perspectives on the Divine  Nirguna – without attributes  Saguna – with attributes  Smrti (remembered) o Texts, often written, created by humans o Often vernacular literature o Ramayana, Mahabharata, bhagavad gita  Colonial Encounter o Colonialists and missionaries focus on Vedanta-inflected Indian religion when formulating Hinduism o Emphasis is placed on texts   Caste o Sanskrit varna, lit. color o Large groupings of class based on heredity and occupation o Four varnas, arranged in hierarchal sequence, according to ancient law texts:  1. Brahmana or Brahmin  occupies the highest class status in ritual and social terms  2. Ksatriya  second highest  3. Vaisya  middle class – business class  4. Sudra  Servants of the other three classes  5. Pancama or candala  the most ritually polluting group  in contact with leather or crematory work or meat  refer to themselves as dalit (oppressed)  Bhakti o Bhaj = “to share” ; love ; devotion o Can be defined as “devotion,” understood in a very wide sense. Bhakti is at the very foot of contemporary Hi
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