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Appalachian State University
Religious Studies
REL 1110

RELIGION 1110 Notes on Hinduism Hinduism The Religion Textbook describes Hinduism as having many paths to liberation. This is because Hinduism is an Umbrella term that covers a wide range of beliefs, most of which believe in the ultimate idea of liberation from the cycle of reincarnations. Timeline of the name “Hindu”  500 B.C.E- Ancient Persians use the word “Hindu” to describe inhabitants of the Indus River Valley that do not fall under other religious categories, such as Christian or Muslim. The Sanatana Dharma, (eternal teachings) or upper cast religious priests control the religion.  1300 C.E.- Muslim invaders use term Hindu to describe all non-Muslims.  1500- European Colonizers of India adopt the term. Historical Timeline Vedic period- 2500 B.C.E  Thriving Indus Valley with Dravidians as rulers. Indo-Europeans migrate/invade this area and overcome rulers. (Note- there is skepticism about an actual invasion.)  Dravidians are enslaved  Sanskrit system is used and is the root of Indian, German, and Greek languages  RISHI- Seer of the divine. Individual seers drank SOMA (unknown hallucinogen) to speak with the gods and hear the sounds of the cosmos.  Many beliefs focused on large cycles, such as the sun and moon, and the solar system.  Sacrifice by Fire is key to Vedic religions- food offerings are carried to gods by Agnithotra, the God of Fire  Brahmins- Priestly cast of individuals who direct religion o Quest- Direct encounter with the Ultimate Truth. This is achieved through meditation and connection with the Atman, or one’s internal soul.  The Cast System- Institutionalized System o The Hymn to Purusha- determined the cast, myth that when the COSMIC MAN sacrificed himself to create humans, the different parts of his body broke into the different levels of the cast system.  Brahmins (Priests)  Ksatriya- Ruling/Military  Vaisya- Artisans/ Merchants  Shudra- Laborers/ Peasants  *THE VEDAS-(1200- 800 B.C.E.) Literally translated as “Knowledge” o Oral traditions form the values of Hinduism o Four Books of Knowledge  Rig Veda- 10 smaller books of hymns and songs to the gods  Yajur Veda- Instruction on rituals  Sama Veda- Instruction for sacrifice  Athava Veda- Book of Folk Tales, Creatures Upanishadic Period- (600- 400 B.C.E)  Upanishadic literally means “sitting near by,” meaning a teacher sitting nearby- many students learned through teacher  Brahman- The divine soul of the Universe to which everyone has a connected Atman o Present in all people as Atman o MONISM- Religious quest to realize oneness of Brahmin and Atman o Atman is PERMANENT INNERMOST SOUL  Yoga- (YOKE) Spiritual Connection with the Divine Classical Period- (400 B.C.E- 600 C.E.)  Many people converted to Jainism and Buddhism  Development of lower castes and “outcastes,”- people so far removed from the cast that they are treated with disgust  The Mahabharata & Ramayana are developed o Tensions between Vedic and Upanishadic teachings of upholding vs. Withdrawing from world- both want maintenance of Moral Obligations o Includes stories of the Gods o Chapter 6 is famous for Bhagavad Gita, or “Song of Lord”  Selfless actions without desire for reward  Support of world and liberation are not conflicting obligations  BHAKTI Yoga is born, or the yoga of devotion Laws of Manu Renunciation of World, older males only  Earn right to renounce the world by meeting social obligations  Four Stages of Life- Student, householder, family, then renunciation  Social Order- People must function properly within cast The Devotional Period (600 CE- Present)  Bhakti- Deep Love for ones god o By the 17 Century praise of Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destroyer) are most common in Hindu tradition  Tentras- Radical Movement outside the Brahmin tradition bringing different types of thinking together o Broke away from the normal rules of the body (Example, chastity) o Right Handed Path- Included Mantras/Medalas, and the symbol the OM, and Mudras, or ritual technique based on body geography o Left Handed Path- Delve in ritual pattern forbidden in Hinduism  Transcend tension between good& evil, socially allowed & forbidden, safe &dangerous Hindu Reform and Revisionism  Rammohan Roy (17
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