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Hinduism- Paths to Heaven part 1

Course Code
Andre Maintenay

of 2
World Religions February 28th -
Hinduism: Paths to Heaven
Reading: Ch. 5 “The Hindu Tradition, “ pp. 259-281
Vital diff b/w Hinduism vs. Buddhism & Jainism – Hinduism retains Vedas as
core scripture, however Buddhism & Jainism reject Vedas as scripture
Vedas composed of 4 strands of literature:
1.Samhitas/Manitras – hymns, 10 cycles of hymns, uses dense poetic language
2.Brahmanas – ritualistic commentary on primary strand; reflect on original poems
of Vedas and try to unpack the denseness and try to apply it in a ritualistic way;
details of sacrifice, who will perform, what it should look like
3.Aranyaras – “to do with the forest, these are texts that are composed in the
context of the forest, wilderness environment; concerned with philosophical
4.Upanisads – image of secrecy, material here is of esoteric quality and not material
that is widely, intellectually accessible to everybody, but passed on closely b/w
relationship of master and student; philosophical foundation of Hindu tradition;
concerned with imparting liberative knowledge that only gifted few would have
the aptitude for
Historical progression from oldest, ritualistic, philosophical questioning, and then
philosophical concern
Most important segment of Vedas for Hinduism as it develops
Vedanta – the end of the Veda; evoking idea of the end of chronological Veda
literature the philosophical bedrock of Hinduism
Major insights: 9th century downward to turn of millennium of 4th/5th century
Part predate emergence of Sranamna movement and parts coincide with,
with evolution of Buddhism, Jainism
Emerging form same sort of intellectual backdrop, same collection of ideas and
evolving in dialogue Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, all sharing same
philosophical assumptions
Core concern is trying to isolate a what is the essence of life, what is the essence
of the individual,who am I?
At what point do you put your finger down and say this is what I am? – If you are
always changing, how do you claim any real identity, and singularity or any
Their response: underneath all physical changes, there is a spirit, or a self “Atman”
that inheres within everybody, that perseveres, thats eternal, lasting and
unchanging, a stable self that doesnt change, has existed forever and will exist
Major point is to be able to differentiate b/w our external persona (body we
occupy, day to day concerns we have associated with form and person that we
wear) and who we really are (the unchanging, eternalAtman”) which doesnt
become engaged in day to day world, rather anterior to our apparent selves
Main concern is differentiate b/w who we appear to be and who we really are
Why? All concern comes down to question of suffering, all anxiety we experience
is associated our ego selves, our persona that we wear
All negotiations happen at this level and so deeply invested in these social
environments, very difficult to remove ourselves, transient moment, transient
Ultimately you have not done any injury to me because my real self lives beneath
this all
Supposing you are a skeptic and say “how do I know there is something real
Upanisads use analogy “bring me a fruit from the banyan (fig) tree. What do you
see inside? Break one of the small tiny seeds? What do you see? (Disciple says he
sees nothing in the seed) Nothing that you see is the source of this enormous
banyan tree? The essence of that tree cannot be identified/pinpointed, nevertheless
it is the source of this tree”
Motivated by concerns of the form that we occupy, the identity that we wear
Wants to displace that focus instead of externality of who we are, rather to focus
on eternal self, rather than changing self, with idea that once you focus inwardly,
external becomes less important, less urgent to address apparent needs of our
changing self
If we are able to displace focus of actions from ego selves to eternal selves, this
gives us not only some tranquility, also brings us into more integral
correspondence with everyone else
Maintain that there is no vital difference b/w yourself and myself
No vital difference b/w whats inside you and whats inside me, and whats inside
everything else in the universe
All of us shown of our apparent differences, share the same ultimate reality,
essence, this essence that we all share is calledBrahman”—refers to idea that all
of us participate in kind of organic unity, vitality, that precedes the individuality
that we seem to have
That unity is more primary than individuality we seem to have
At one level we can talk about horses, human beings, kings, servants, etc., at
another level however we seem ultimately speaking it is all simply being molded
into difference forms
So if we can penetrate the facade of individual form, shape, history experience, we
will see there is no difference b/w what inheres in you and me, and so all share
same essenceBrahman”