RLG205H5 Study Guide - Final Guide: Kataragama Deviyo, Ganesha, Adharma
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RLG205 INTRODUCTION TO SOUTH ASIAN RELIGIONS
FINAL EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS
1. What are the problems associated with defining Hinduism?
No founder, no one set of doctrines, diverse ideas/practices, believe in many different
things, historically not understand the word Hindu, religion comes from many
different sources (Vedic Aryans, Indus Valley Civilization, different poets, etc).
2. What role did colonialism and Orientalist scholarship play in shaping
understanding of Hinduism as a unified religion?
They put laws which forced people to choose if they are Hindu or not. Forced
Hinduism to define itself.
It stopped the tradition of widows throwing themselves into fire after there
It weakened the caste system to some degree
Translated Hindu texts that were only in Sanskrit, into local languages giving
access to Hindus who didnt know Sanskrit.
3. What is the relationship between ritual and the philosophical ideas
Focused on ritual + asceticism (philosophy). Focus on ritual becomes abstract. Talk
about Brahmin + atman (philosophy).
Do good action to get good karma to get a better reincarnation.
Lack of ritual (renunciation) is better!
Karma focuses on the relationship between action and results.
The Veda is all about sacrifice, how to perform it, why to perform it, what to say, and so on. The
structure of the Veda (4 books total; with 4 parts each):
- Rig Veda –all hymns (hotru) completed by around 1100 BC
- Yajur Veda –instructions (vdgatru)
- Sama Veda –music (Brahmin)
- Athwiata Veda –mixed, has magical spells (adhvaryu)
each of the 4 parts is divided into four parts
Samhita –actual mantra
Brahmana –stories, reflections
Aranyaka –reflections, philosophical meaning
Upanisad – most influential, philosophical interpretations
- The upanisads was the spiritual knowledge that was interpreted from the rituals.
- The Upanisads "continued to be composed throughout the middle ages into the modern period"
- not everyone gets to read the Upanisads
- the Upanisads explain the symbolic significance of the ritual
- SHURTI - revealed knowledge is the focus of the Upanishad
- The Upanisaids "completely re-evaluated the nature of ritual, seeing it's internalization in the
individual as its hightest meaning, and subordinating ritual action to knowledge. This spiritual
knowledge could be attained by ascetisism or world-renounciation and disciplines which came to
be known as yoga. The Upanisaids attest to the existence of ascetic traditions and, by the 6th or
5th century BCE, traditions of asceticism and world-renounciation for the purpose of spiritual
knowledge and liberation had developed both within the bounds of vedic tradition and outside
these boundaries, most notable in the Jain and Buddhist traditions."
- “The development of renounciation in the Upanisads is intimately connected to the vedic ritual
tradition, yet one must also recognize the force of the argument that the Upanisads contain a
discontinuity of ideas with the vedic ritual tradition; a discontinuity which indicates non-vedic
-this may have to do with the fact that the Upanisads were changed and written up as time went
on, while the Veda was there before.
4. What are the two theories of karma and how are they related?
Nishkam Karma: self-less or desireless action is an action performed without any
expectation of fruits or results, and the central tenet of Karma Yoga path to
Liberation. Its modern advocates press upon achieving success following the
principles of Yoga, and stepping beyond personal goals and agendas while pursuing
any action over greater good, which is also the key message of the Bhagavad Gita.
Nishkam Karma belongs to the first category, the Satvik (pure) or actions which
add to calmness.
Nishkam Karma, gets an important place in the Bhagavad Gita, the central text of
Mahabharata , where Krishna advocates 'Nishkam Karma Yoga' (the Yoga of
Selfless Action) as the ideal path to realize the Truth. Allocated work done without
expectations, motives, or thinking about its outcomes tends to purify one's mind and
gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason and the benefits of
renouncing the work itself. These concepts are vividly described in the following
•To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the
fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to
- Verse 47, Chapter 2-Samkhya theory and Yoga practise, The Bhagavadgita
•"Fixed in yoga, do thy work, O Winner of wealth (Arjuna), abandoning
attachment, with an even mind in success and failure, for evenness of mind is
- Verse 2.48
•"With the body, with the mind, with the intellect, even merely with the
senses, the Yogis perform action toward self-purification, having abandoned
attachment. He who is disciplined in Yoga, having abandoned the fruit of
action, attains steady peace..."
- Verse 5.11