Hinduism- Paths to Heaven part 1

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2 Mar 2011
World Religions February 28
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 impor tant segment of Vedas for Hinduism as it develops
Vedanta – the end of the Veda; evoking idea of t he end of chronological Veda
literature the philosophical bedrock of Hinduism
Major insights: 9
century downward to tur n of millennium of 4
Part predate emergence of Sranamna movement and parts coincide with,
with evolution of Buddhism, Jainism
Emerging for m 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, tha t 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 for m and person that we
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