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RS 121 Test 3 Study Notes Includes lecture notes from Modules 10-12

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Religious Studies
RS 121
Marybeth White

RS 121 Study Notes Test 3 Study Notes Module 10 Gandhi and Hinduism on Evil PART A About Gandhi and HinduismMohandas Gandhiwidely known as Mahatma GandhiMahatma is an honorific title meaning Great SoulStudied law in England became a lawyer18941915worked as a legal consultant in South Africa where he encountered racismOrganizes first fight against racial discriminationdiscovers that racism is very widespread tied to imperialismEuropeans have convinced themselves that they are intellectually morally and physically superior to the people they have conqueredSee themselves as good people raising up these lower humansGandhis response is rooted in his Hindu identityreformulation of classic teachingsHis response is a kind of nationalisma legitimate nationalism is one that is open and universalist inclusivistSeen as the synthesis of the Vedic religionVedic religion was the religion of a group of central Asians who moved into northern India around 1500 BCEHinduism is a combination of their religion and that of the existing local beliefsVedics focused on sacrificethe gods took the energy of the sacrifice to maintain order in the universe The Caste System 1 BrahminsPriests 2 KshatriyasWarriorsGovernors 3 ShudrasServants 4 OutcastesHarijanperform polluting laborThe indigenous people became the Shudras classAs this system spread some groups were so out of it socially or religiously that they were left entirely out of the caste systemSystem is hereditaryIt is better to do ones own dharma than the dharma of another poorlyCaste system was universalized in India Hindu BeliefsAn important development was the writing of the Upanishads and Arayanka works of speculative philosophyWhat was the reality beneath the surfaceWhat is it in the universe that is unchangingDharma Eternal principle on which the universe is builtIt organizes the energizes the universeIt is unchanging permanentDharma comes from a word meaning that which holdsBrahmanAtmanBrahman in understood sometimes as a god sometimes as more of a principle or energyThe Brahman is ineffableyou cant really describe itAnything you say about the Brahman is inadequateits everything it permeates the universe its the source of the universeAtmanbecause the Brahman is the soured of us there is in each of us a piece of that original energy spirit or principleUnderstood correctly the Atman is the Brahman 1 RS 121 Study NotesUltimate meaning is found inside yourselfThe journey outward and the journey inward are really the same thingThe Bhakti Tradition The path to devotionEmphasis on personal god and devotion to that personal godThis devotion is called Pujaworship of the Hindu godThe most widespread is Vishnu also Sheva and DeviReligious path seen as an attempt to become united with the god who is understood as the source of the universe creator and destroyerFocus is on unity with the god through devotion does not exclude yoga and meditationthese are all equally valid pathsTrying to get out of samsara the cycle of life and death and rebirth reincarnationBeing born again is not a victory over deathits a failureHindus are striving not for more life but for liberation from the cycle of life death and rebirth mokshaWhats keeping you in that circle is yourselfyour karmaThe problem is that youre ignorantyou dont know your true self so you make mistake the human urges you have for the real goal of lifeIgnorance creates desires which cause you to take action which creates karma which determines rebirth PART B Gandhi on Ultimate RealityUltimate reality is not a personal god it is truthGod is truth truth is GodIt is not a person but a disembodied principle that is biased towards the goodGandhi described ultimate reality as 1 A pure or disembodied consciousness 2 Acting in a rational or orderly manner 3 Active and representing infinite energy 4 Pervading informing and structuring the entire universe 5 Benevolentdid all of this out of love 6 Mysteriouswe cant nail it down or defineIf you cant describe your god perfectly then youve got a very small god 7 Omnipotentselflimiting it doesnt predetermine human behaviourThis doesnt mean that he has given up on the Bhakti traditiondevotionones attitudes towards truth should be the same as ones attitude towards ones godGandhi was an admirer of the Bhagavad Gita book extracted from the Great Epic of India which has a discussion between Arjuna a great warrior and his charioteer who turns out to be Krishna an incarnation of Vishnu who teaches that the proper attitude is complete devotion and dependence on Vishnu expressed in selfless actionReligious PluralismGandhis teaching on ultimate reality is tied to his religious pluralismHis concept of religious pluralism strongly informed his attitudes towards people in conflictUltimate reality truth eludes all of usit is beyond our graspWe are all searching but no one has itThe proper relationship to ultimate reality is humilityIf I want to learn about ultimate reality in all of its dimensions I have to learn from my enemies and their traditionsHindus dont have all the answers they can learn from MuslimsHistory of HinduMuslim Relations thth From 1618 century India was ruled by Muslim invadersIn the north there was a great conflictthe Muslim rulers would try to suppress Hinduism by destroying temples statues etc 2
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