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Quest for Enlightenment 3.docx

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CLAS 2051
Fiona Black

Hinduism as the Banyan Tree  Banyan tree: tree with many roots, trunks  Hinduism cannot be defined as being from a single source o polycentric: having no essential centre, but a diverse collection of traditions  ie. polytheism vs monotheism, vegetarian vs. animal sacrifice o Hinduism as having various traditions and beliefs o the search for "origin" of Hinduism is problematic  can be a way of projecting Western values ie. "purity of the origin" o sap or lifeblood that runs through:  Dharma- social/personal duty; how the universe functions  Ritual (orthopraxy)- correct practice (vs Western traditions of orthodoxy- right belief)  Authority of the Vedas  the word "Hinduism" o "Hindu" from Persian al-Hind  geographical term for those living beyond the Indus river  a term assigned by outsiders o British colonialism defines religious groups (ie. Sikh, Hinduism) leads to essentialist definitions o Hindu reform movements = internalized essentialism Indus Valley Civilization  c. 2500-1500 BCE  Harrapa and Mohenjo-daro (c. 2500 BCE)  200,000 people  speculated archaeological evidence: o water tank/ritual bath o fire altars o goddess figures o clay seal with Shiva- concept of early meditation/yoga-like practice  Aryan migration "invasion" o spoke Indo-European family of languages o migrated from area of Caucaus (root of "Caucasian") o displaced indigenous Dravidians o brought Vedic culture (cimilarities to Persian, Zoroastrian ideas), ideas of dharma, class, ritual sacrifice o developed Sanskrit  this theory has issues with the racist colonial ideas that all religions share western roots, proposing another theory that the Aryans always lived there o alternative theory: the developments in culture, religion and technology were all made by indigenous peoples Vedic Religion  The Vedas "to know/to see" o oral tradition o focus on ritual o power of speech (vac) in Indian traditions- the sounds themselves are divine o "cosmic vibrations" embodied in the words o cosmos intune with microcosmos (oneself) o eternal truth, not of human authorship (apaurushya) o revealed to sages (rishis) who were atuned to the vibrations and recorded them o root of the word "video"- "to see" o Shruti "that which is heard"- sacred literature of the Vedic and Upanishadic periods  Smriti ("that which is remembered") o epics, commentaries, tradition o human-authored o in practice, somewhat fluid o ie. the Bhagavad Gita  Structure of the Vedas o 4 Collections:  1. Rig Veda- oldest, dating 1200 BCE; ritual texts  2. Sama Veda- hymns, instructions for recitation  3. Yajur Veda- prose formulae used in ritual  4. Atharva Veda- hymns, magic used for protection o each Veda has literature appended to it:  Brahmanas- directions for the performance of sacred rituals  Samhitas-
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