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HIS282Y1 Lecture Notes - Upanishads, Mahayana, Upaya

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Ritu Birla

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September 26th
1700-1000 bce, Aryan culture/rise of brahminism
Dharma, the place in the world, the idea that its better to do your duty well than try
to do sbd else’s duty and do it poorly.
Disinterested action, being completely in the present, no interest in the future or
consequences of actions. You say what you do, do what you say- the upanishadic
philosophies. Philosophy of oneness, each part of the social order has its own
dharma and at the same time the idea that one can be completely autonomous and
sovereign of one’s self.
Even as an athoritative brahminical culture comes to be, around 1000bce also the
Upanishads and autonomy… so Hinduism is a very diverse religion. At the same
time Buddhism and … also come to be, the idea is revision of moksha in the
Upanishads, atman etc. The Buddhist word for it is nirvana, it’s a transidential state
that dioesnt use the concept of brahma. You reach it through your own practices.
The thera vada (lesser vehicle, old school) and Mahayana Buddhism that highlights
new Buddhist saints, the greater vehicle. Its actually artistically prominent as well.
The Mahayana later spreads north to china, Japan etc whereas the Theravada
spreads down to Thailand, india, so south. Even within Buddhism there is vajrayana
Buddhism, which poses male vs female concepts. Tangerism and tangeric Buddhism
has two main divisions- the right and left hand, right hand devoted to male and left
to female. Hindu tanterics develop their own basis of philosophy, which allows
taking liquor and hallucinogens, meat eating and sexual promiscuity. Upaya is the
male principle and prujna is the feminine one, 1st one is means to an end and the 2nd
is wisdom, so you have to bring the two together to achieve liberation, hinting at
sexual union.
All of these question hierarchy as does jadysm, launched by maha… philosopher,
mentioned as a very important ascetic. Its concerned with separating the soul from
its materialistic embedding in the world. Small community whose origins lay in the
critique of the Buddhist and hindu order.
Ahims= non-violence
So its in this period that we see the emergence of different cults, not just the
brahminical order. That’s also when Hindu gets the ism, which doesn’t really exist
up to that time. This is primarily in the north, whereas in the south Aryan influence
is different.
We can distinguish between two major groups- brahminism and sramanism .
Brahminism uses sanscrit and has the emphasis on rituals and the authority of
Brahmins to conduct those rituals. Sramanism is a broad category which includes a
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