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RLG205H5 Lecture Notes - Ganesha, Vaishnavism, Dvaita

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Ajay Rao

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Oct 19th
Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23: Inclusive or Exclusive?
-I (Krishna) grant unwavering faith to any devoted man (or woman?) who wants to worship any form
with faith
oyou can worship anything (ex. Christianity) and you have a lot of faith and religious feeling
– I am the one who is giving you that faith – you may think you are worshipping Jesus but
it is governed by Krishna
-disciplined by that faith, he seeks the deity’s favor; thus secured, he gains desires that I myself grant
oyou ask Jesus for something, but I (Krishna) will give it to you
-but finite is the reward that come to men of little wit; men who sacrifice to the gods reach the gods;
those devoted to me reach me
obelittlement of the former – you may preach to anyone you want, but you can only get so
far, you will never reach heaven unless you worship me (Krishna)
-is this idea inclusive or exclusive?
oinclusive: you can believe whatever you want
oexclusive: you will get the results that you “deserve”
-there are 330 million Gods
oare Hindus polytheistic or monotheistic??
-theological explanation: belief in one main God
oShiva/Vaishna traditions: so what are the other Gods? – Angels
like monotheistic
they believe in the other Gods, but to prove the existence of God, is to prove the
existence of ONE God
-believe in many Gods, but only worship one
opractice one thing, believe another
-1. we live in a finite world, and worship one God, but through finite mediums (other Gods)
-2. yes there is a God named Ganesha, but his authority derives from (Ganesha)
-sociological explanation: there are many local traditions – different temples of worship
odominant tradition absorb local traditions
oGods take form on Earth – different names
oevery single temple might have a different name or form of the God
-performed in temples and at home
-welcoming deity; bathing it, adorning it with jewellery, garlanding with flowers, offering meal
-darsana, “seeing” an image
ovisual aspect: seeing God (distinction from Islam)
opart of the devotional practise
ogoes both ways – not just a symbol – invested with the power of God
devotee is looking at God and God is looking at devotee
-prasada; transferring of substances from deity devotee
othe offering
ofood becomes sanctified/pure – when devotee eats the purified prasad
Theism in Vedanta (focuses on Gita; about metaphysics)
-interested in relationship between God and the world
ohow are they related
oif God is all powerful, how do we explain the difference between the world and God - the
world can’t be different than God (how would that explain him to be imminent/omniscient)
– is God IN the world?
-fixated on Vishnu – he is God
-Advaita: Brahman and atman are identical
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