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Lecture

lecture 3


Department
Religion
Course Code
RLG205H5
Professor
Ajay Rao

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Week 3 LATE VEDIC SOCIETY: THE CASTE SYSTEM, THE ENDS OF LIFE,
RITES
OF PASSAGE
Renunciation was domesticated within the late Vedic period.
Householder ideal: mainstream.
Renunciation: distinctive of south Asian religions.
Dravidian is used to describe indigenous non-Aryan Indians.
Late Vedic period contains elements that are central to the south Asian religions. A
major historical shift took place.
Theory 1: Dravidian Hypothesis: incorporation of indigenous (from Indus valley
civilization) elements into Aryan religion. Come from outside.
Theory 2: Internal evolution of Vedic Aryan Civilization. Come from within.
Renunciation (give something up) is related to asceticism (self-discipline).
Yoga and fasting are examples of asceticism.
Renunciation and asceticism are opposed to the Vedic ideas! Renunciation asks
people to give up the fire.
Buddha:
1.C. 566 -> 486 BCE
2.C.448 -> 368 BCE (probably more accurate)
Above times are nodal points for many transformations. Contain many stories about
renunciation.
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Buddha (Siddhartha -> real name) lives a charmed existence where he only sees
good -> then he sees an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a begger -> he then
goes to the forest where he lives very differently from the Vedic life style.
Buddha totally rejected the Vedic ritual practices and the householder ideal because
the good things in life end.
Renouncer traditions (Shramana traditions): contains Buddhists and Jains (both
atheists).
Even within the Vedic traditions there were renouncer traditions!
The later versions of the Veda were more oriented towards renunciation.
With renunciation; people go to heaven for a while then they get reincarnated.
People in past did drugs (soma plant).
If karma is positive -> go to heaven for a while then reborn on Earth. If karma is
negative -> go to hell for a while then come back.
2 kinds of renouncers:
1.Anchorites : live in separate communities in the forest. Are sages. Keep the
Vedic fire. Extinct.
2.Renouncers : live like beggars in the city. Wandering ascetic. Give up
everything to live in the city. Give up fire and reject Vedic society. Buddhists
and Jains are modeled after the renouncers.
2,000 years after the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization, city life finally
returned along the eastern Gangatic plain along the Ganga river. During the time of
the Buddha there were larger kingdoms and cities. Also there were coins ->
advanced economic systems.
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