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January 10 Notes.docx

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University of Alberta
Angela Brkich

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 101B Lecture Notes January 10 HINDUISM cont. concerning first semester final 29/32 = 91% (not 70% or 14/20) the godhead question has two correct answers HARAPPAN, ARYAN, DRAVIDIAN. WHAT IS DHARMA ~ one of the literal definitions is Faith. Also duty. The term is very complicated. Just as hinduism is very diverse, tehre are different importances in teh word for different groups. Community. Responsibility. what is right. the closest word for religion, though hinduism has no word for religion. WHAT CAN BE GAINED BY EXAMINING ANCIENT COMMUNITIES THAT ARE "PRE-HINDU?" to help explain development. by starting to look way back at groups, you can really get a handle on how things developed and how diff. communities influenced certain concepts. WHAT TYPES OF "THINGS" CAN INFLUENCE OR MOTIVATE RELIGIOUS THEORIES? Politics. Economics. Bias (theologians, anthropologists, believers, sceptics, historians) THE VEDAS BELIEVED THAT THEY CAN TELL US A LOT ABOUT THE ARYAN CULTURE. our only info about the aryans comes from this sacred literature. They were originally composed orally and not written till much later. - the earliest surviving Aryan compositions are the VEDAS. they were composed between 1500 and 600 BCE. known as SHRUTI (to hear), meant to evoke the feeling that these texts were divinely heard by seers. THE EARLIEST INDO-EUROPEAN TEXTS WE HAVE. four collections of Vedas: 1. RIG/RG VEDA: CONTAIN HYMNS CHANTS, POEMS, DEDICATED TO VARIOUS DEITIES. one of the world's oldest scriptures. most highly regarded. 2. SAMA VEDA expansions and elabourations 3. YAJUR VEDA instructions 4. ATHARVA VEDA each vedic collection consists of four sections: 1. SAMHITAS (hymns) 2. BRAHMANAS (ritual directions) 3. ARANYAKAS (compositions for the forest) 4. UPANISHADS (philosophy) many hindues would describe the Vedas as the most sacred texts. they are known as Shruti or divinely heard and received. - no one really has these in their house and very few people read them - they are eternal sounds. - continuity is so important for these texts - why is continuity so important? because it was believed that they were received from the divine source. - the "FIFTH VEDA" is an honorary distinction. - though continuity is important, the interpretations have NOT BEEN CONSISTENT at all, they are interpreted to be relevant for their time. - the vedas were especially important to the BRAHMINS, the highest caste in vedic society. Brahmins were meant to be gaurdians and authorities on the vedas. they were the only ones who could read them. some FIFTH VEDAS: mahaburata. by calling certain texts a fifth veda, it is just a status thing. PROMINANT CONCEPTS IN VEDA hymns - seeking good and happy lives ● offered praise to deities ● ofer petitions for a good life ● many of these deities are superseded brahmanas - written in sanskrit, deal with power within recitation of specific verses about practices performed by ritual priests. Rituals were called YAJNA. these texts became less and less about the gods and even more about the rituals themselves: which give power to the brahmins who are th only ones who can perform these yajna, which are even more important than the gods. A SIDEBAR FOR RITUAL - a key feature of the hindu ritual practices is ritual sacrifice. usually involved fire. had to be done by priests. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF RITUALS? WHAT DID THE PARTICIPANTS HOPE TO ACHIEVE? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO EXAMINE RITUALS OF RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS? AND A THEORY SIDEBAR... insuring the maintanance of COSMIC ORDER. rituals performed because there was a goal. not just to get something out of it, but to ensure harmony, righteousness, justice. it was believed taht gods consumed the essence of the sacrifice with fire, and the left over remains was the digested remains of the animal after being eaten. offerings of milk, butter, yogurt, rice, grains, plants (like incense), not just animals. the JZ Smith initiated redescription project has led to Ritual Theory that focuses more on the development of any specific group rather than imposing meaning from elsewhere on a different group. IT'S BELIEVED THAT THE STRATIFIED CASTE SYSTEM HAS ITS JUSTIFICATION IN THE RG VEDA. THE UPANISHADS - by the 7th and 6th Centuries BCE, the early Vedic focus shifted from placating deities with ritual sacrifice to philosophical & intellectual inquiry. - their wirting stretches from 1800 bce to a hundred years ago. - Upanishads means "sitting near" - conversations between disciples and teachers. - represent
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