RELIGIOUS STUDIES 101B Lecture Notes January 10
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
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
- 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
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF RITUALS?
WHAT DID THE PARTICIPANTS HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO EXAMINE RITUALS OF RELIGIOUS
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,
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.
- 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
- Upanishads means "sitting near"
- conversations between disciples and teachers.