RLGA01H3 Lecture Notes - Old Texts, The Tradition, Ravidas

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3 Feb 2013
* note one of the weeks Prof Henry Shiuh did not come to class because he was sick, and one of
the weeks was when we had written a test, which is why there is ONLY 8 weeks worth of notes
as of Nov,13,2012
Religion Lecture Notes
Week 1-8
Week 1:
Religion Lecture 1 (Hinduism)
"Hinduism is the dominant religion of India"
problematic terms in the statement:
These are not terms that originate from the indigenous words of india. Hindu's never
thought of themselves as practising Hinduism (constructed by the westerners)
-Each one of the terms suggests uniformity and consistency that does not actually exist
-When we study the religions traditions of he East, we must accustom ourselves to:
-Hindu's never find contrasting ideas to be problematic
-Hinduism is one of the most conservative religion
-religion that dates back 1000's years ago same belief system that came all the way back
-The "Hindu" and hence "Hinduism" are of persia origin from around the 12th century
-Persians were not using hinduism to refer to any religion did not have a clear idea of
what the indians were practising
-"sanatana dharma" means "eternal law" <closest to the world religion for them
-Most hindus see themselves as devotees of a particular god or goddess , such as siva or
-They preform rituals for these gods and goddesses
-Main god, Shiva
drumm= time fire=trouble
shiva creates and destroys our universe
Shiva is the diety to keeping universe cycles running
white horizontal lines on forehead (followers)
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"tilkas"- Forhead Markings
vertical tear marks on their foreheads (followers)
-The word "religion" derives from the Latin "Religio"
-the way Westerners think about religion is quite different then Asian religions
outsider vs. insider:
-the insiders know things that the outsiders will never know, the outsiders know things
that the insiders cannot know
-religions that developed in India found their ways to China and Pakistan
-Sikhism arose in the north western part of Punjab
Muslims: 100 million
Sikhs: 20 million
Christians: 20 million
Buddhists: 3-4 million
Jains: 2 million
Zoroastarians: a few thousands
major origins of Hinduism:
-Indus valley civilization (3000 years before CE)
the indus valley civilization may have spanned over one million square kilometres
most important of the exacting sites are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa
concerned with procreation and purity
worship male animals as a way of incorporating their sexual powers
female reproduction powers were also regarded as sacred
even though it existed long ago, by that time people were already having their own
religion practises
great bathe
people sitting in meditation poster, humans worshiping animals (found in art form)
Female principle may have been revered as a goddess
purification practises, meditation and the well-organized cities suggest the importance
of order and restraint
they were not highly organized
they were nomads rather than settled agricultures
came from the north-west part of India, central asia
they gradually moved over to India and conquered the people there
The Aryan language evolved in the Sanskirt, the official language of the Hindu
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thats why Hinduism is an oral tradition- sanskirt was not meant to be written down, just
memorized and oral teachings
The Sanskrit word for God is deva, akin to the english words divine and deity
Almost everything we know about them comes from a collection of writings known as
the word veda means to see , "able to see into the reality"
so important is the Veda that Hinduism is sometimes called Vaidik dharma, meaning
the religions of the veda
veda was always passed on as an oral format, later on written down on paper
The words of the Veda, according to traditional conviction , were reveal to ancient
seers called "rishis"
The veda divides into four samhitas or collections
1. rig-veda
2. Yajur-veda
3. Sama-veda
4. Atharva-veda
each of these collections in turn consists of four further sections
1. Samhitas
2. Brahmanas
3. Aranyakas
4. Upanishads
First how did it think about human beings?
Second, how did it conceive the world of nature?
Third, how did it conceive the world of the gods?
what if we ask the same questions about hinduism
Prana, an internal air current of the body, is often spoken of as the basic animate
The Aryans though the world as divided into three levels: "triloka" (three different
planes of existence: humans,animals, invisible ram certain goddesses and gods are
dwelling in
they thought each world has its on moon and sun
They thought each world was inhabited by different beings
The world was believed to be governed by an abstract impersonal principle called
Rita is a principle that is conceded with whats right and wrong/ harmonious
a great primeval sacrifice performed by the gods in which the body of a victim called
Purusha was dismembered so different parts of his bodies was taken to different
parts of the universe
"Hymn to the supreme person" creation story
"Hymn of creation"
Indra is the most important deva in the rig-deva
Brahman, the single source of all that is - Brahman is a God but also the principle
Classical Hinduism=Brahmanism
Hindu priests assumed absolute power over the society regarded as most imp in the
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