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January 17 Notes.docx

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Angela Brkich

RELIGIOUS STUDIES Lecture Notes January 17 REVIEW CLASSICAL HINDU LITERATURE ARE CALLED SMRTI. there are three SMRTI: 1. EPICS stories 2. PURANAS cosmological and theological poems 3. DHARMASHASTRA laws BRAHMA - creation god (the lesser of the three in the TRIMURTI ~ trinity of vishnu, shiva, and brahma) BRAHMAN - the everything, the fabric of reality, the ultimate deity BRAHMINS - the priestly class, the highest class BRAHMANAS - in the hymns (in the vedas): the brahmanas are the ritual texts used by the brahmins. we pick up with the DHARMASHASTRAS even before the dharmashastras, there is evidence that there were castes before this. scholars argue what counts as caste or class. all we need to know is that CASTE consists of the VARNAS and JATI THERE ARE FOUR MAIN CASTES THEN THE JATIS ARE THE THOUSANDS OF OTHER SUB-GROUPS the hierarchy was already existing in the vedas according to the myth of the purusa sukta in the rig veda. but it wasn't as clearly delineated until the classical period. the group of four varnas finally ossifies in the LAWS OF MANU . THE 4 VARNAS BRAHMINS - PRIESTS teach society, make truth claims KSHATRIYAS - WARRIORS/RULERS protect society VAISHYAS - MERCHANTS SHUDRAS - SERVANTS to the other classes different rituals, dialects, diets, etc. this was propegated by the belief that some people have different spiritual propensities and are destined to be in different groups. *****THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ECONOMIC CLASS, it was a different kind of cultural hierarchy. Is this followed strictly? this is probably much more complicated and complex in practice and reality. sacred texts reflect ideals, not necessarily reality. there were in fact tensions between different groups, especially between the rulers/warriors and the brahmins. beyond caste: JATI - over a thousand different Jati's or "BIRTH GROUPS". These usually are tied to occupation like barber or doctor or farmer. Within that there are many types of farmers which each have their own jati. There was jockeying for position in the Jati's as compared to the more fixed Varnas. More mobility on the Jati level. This jockeying was most prominent when it came to marriage arrangements. ie. Brahmins from the jati that worked in the temple were lower cause they came into contact with regular people. the bramins from a higher jati that did translation or interpretation would not want their child marrying a child from the temple worker jati. more wiggle room in the jati system than in the varna system. the large number of jati groups also goes to prove the large ammount of diversity. JATIS are occupational or tribal groups THE UNTOUCHABLES / AVRANAS (the fifth caste?) There are some professions like leather workers, toilet cleaners, people who worked with the dead. these were considered polluting occupations, and as such, they were not permitted in any of the VARNAS/castes. these were the UNTOUCHABLES. banished people, orphans, etc were made untouchable. upper castes would do everything possible to stay out of contact with these people. they were obsessed with purity and cleanliness, and coming into contact with these people was an extreme issue. there have been several reform movements in India. the govt has abolished untouchability. they were completely ostracised. Foreigners were also lobbed in to the avranas group. THE STAGES AND GOALS OF LIFE these are ONLY for the males of the higher three castes (no shudras or avranas) THE DHARMA TEXTS OUTLINE FOUR GOALS OF LIFE AND FOUR STAGES OF LIFE. - a compromise was established between followers who wanted to renounce life and those who wanted to do their duty. this was an all encompassing strategy. how you are supposed to best live DHARMA. these four aims of these stages are called ASHRAMAS 1. dharma - discharging of duties 2. artha - wealth and power 3. kama - sensual pleasure 4. moksha - liberation from cycle of life and death THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE 1. sisya - student 2. grhastha - householder 3. vanaprastha - withdrawal to forest 4. samnyasa - asceticism, seeking liberation, a life of self denial, begging for food. very rare for any hindu to come to this final stage. it is not so much sacrifice as a set out path. IF YOU FOLLOW THIS PERFECTLY, YOU ACHIEVE MOKSHA. this is to pay back debts that you are born with: ● debts to SEERS expunged by learning. ● debts to ANCESTORS paid off when you are married. ● debts to GODS paid off when you have kids. *** since these three debts are paid off by the second stage, this is why people don't go to the next two steps usually. DIFFERENTIATION THERE ARE SIX SCHOOLS OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY THAT REGARD THE VEDAS AS AUTHORITATIVE. we will only go over two: vedanta and yoga the main school is VEDANTA (the "orthodox" school) VEDANTA BASED ON THE UPANISHADS, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Sudras. but traditionally, it is supposed to only be the Upanishads. of the six schools, Vedanta is believed to be the most important. the two most important vedanta philosophers are: SHANKARA 8C RAMANUJA 11&12C Shankara argued that brahman and atman are non-dual. the non dual concept is called ADVAITA. MAYA, our ordinary experience, our body self, needs to be shed. Liberatio
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