RLG205H5 Study Guide - Final Guide: Upanishads, Rigveda, Gurbani

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Published on 14 Dec 2013
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UTM
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Religion
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RLG205H5
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RLG205INTRODUCTIONTOSOUTHASIANRELIGIONS
FINALEXAMSTUDYQUESTIONS
1.WhatroledidcolonialismandOrientalistscholarshipplayinshapingthemodernunderstandingofHinduismas
aunifiedreligion?PriortotheadventoftheBritish,howdidIslamicconceptionsofIndiacontributeto
transformationsofHinduidentity?
Orientalismistheconceptofhowwesternersviewedtheeasternpartoftheworld.Essentiallyorientalismisa
misunderstandingoftheeastbythewest.Colonialismisacquiringthecontrolofanothercountry,occupyingitwith
settlers.TheBritishcolonizedIndia.ThesetwofactorsplayedahugeroleinunifyingHinduismasareligion.
ColonialistsfromBritishhelpedmaketheidentityoftheHindu’sasareligion.WhentheBritishcametocolonize
IndiatheyencounteredtheMuslimsandthenonMuslims.ThiswherethetermHinduarrivedfromasitwasmeansof
dividingthetwoethnicgroupsfortheBritish.TherolescolonialismandOrientalistsscholarshipplayedinshaping
themodernunderstandingofHinduismwastheyputlawswhichforcedpeopletochooseiftheyareHinduornotso
basicallyitforcedHinduismtodefineitself.Itstoppedthetraditionofwidowsthrowingthemselvesintofireafter
theirhusbandsdied,itweakenedthecastesystemtosomedegreeandtranslatedHindutextsthatwereonlyin
Sanskrit,intolocallanguagesgivingaccesstoHinduswhodidn’tknowSanskrit.WarrenHastingsbackin1772
enforcedajudicialplan,whichdividedtheMuslimsandHindus.TheBritishcomingoverhadtomakeadistinction
betweenthedifferentgroupsinIndia.CastDisabilitiesActin1850enforcedpersonallaw,whichmeantdifferentlaws
fordifferentreligions.ThustheHinduswhowereVaishnavasandSaivanaswhoreadsimilartextsliketheVedaswere
lumpedtogetherdespitethefacttheyhaddifferentbeliefs.ThatishoworientalismandcolonialismshapedIndiaand
theunificationofHinduism.BeforethisoutlinedintheDavidLorenzarticlehetalksabouthowMuslimsarethemain
reasonforHinduismbeingaunifiedreligion.BothoftheseMuslimsandnonMuslimgroupshadconflicts.David
LorenztalksaboutMuslimsandHindusridiculedtheother’sreligion.ForexampleMuslimssaidhowtheirGod
Krishnawasimprisoned.AlsotheysaidhowthievesstoleGod’swife(SitafromRama)andhowheneededthehelp
ofthemonkeys.TheHindu’salsoattackedMuslimssayinghowcouldonecreaturekillanothercreatureandgoto
heaven.TheyalsosaidhowcanGodonlybeatMecca?Heiseverywhere.Theyalsosaidyouwanttoconvert
HindusintoMuslimsdoesthatmeanGodmadeamistakeinmakingHindus?Clearlyfromtheseargumentsitisclear
HinduismexistedandfoughtbackagainsttheMuslims.ShowingevidencethattheMuslimsencounterenforcedthe
unificationofHinduismasareligion.WhenlookingatMuslimsourcesAbdAlMalikIsamiinhisworkclearly
outlinesthatHindimeansgeographicalsenseandHinduisrelatedtoreligion.Histextwaswrittenin1350showing
thatHinduismwasconstructedlongbeforetheBritishgotthereinthe19thcentury.
2.Whatarethetwotheoriesofkarma?Whatdoestherelationshipbetweenthesetwotheoriestellusaboutthe
natureofritualanalysisandphilosophyintheUpanisads?
Onetheoryofkarmaincludesthepracticeofsacrifice.Thetheoryofkarmainrelationtosacrificewasabouthowone
wouldsacrificeananimalforsomethinginreturnbytheGods.Althoughthisrewardforsacrificewasnotreceived
instantly.Mostofthetimeittooktime,likeentryintoheaven.Itwasnotinstantaneous,buttheresultswould
eventuallycome.TheothertheoryofKarmathatisamorecommonbeliefisthecosmicprinciplegoverningrebirth.
Thecosmicprincipleisaboutyourgoodandbadactions.Karmaismetaphoricallylikeabankaccount,whereyour
goodactionshelpsyouraccountgrow,whilebadactionstakeawayfromitandcanresultinyoubeingindebt.
Whenyouperformsomethinggood,youmightnotreceivetheresultsinstantly,butyoumightlateroninlife.Same
withperformingabadaction,youmightgetapayoffinasenseforthebadactionyoudid.Everythinghasawayof
comingbacktoyou.UltimatelythewayyouactisthewayGodtreatsyou.Ifyoudowellyouwillgotoheaven.It
mightnotaffectinyourcurrentlifeandcanaffectyouinyournextlife.Bothofthesetheoriesarerelatedto
reincarnation.Ifyoubehavepoorlyandperformbadactionsyouwillmostlikelyreincarnatetoanunwantedspecies.
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Goodactionswillallowyoutoreincarnateintosomethingpositive.Inbothsituationsyoumightgettheresultsin
laterlives.TheUpanishadsencompassesthelastpartoftheVedas,whichisaVedictext.TheUpanishadsisvery
philosophicalandoftenincorporatesthemeslikerebirth,liberationandasceticism.Thethemeofrebirthoftencomes
backtokarma.Reincarnation,whichisrebirth,hasultimatedependenceonyourkarma.Ifyouhavegoodkarma,most
likelyyouwillberebornintosomethingpositiveinsteadofnegative.IntheUpanishadskarmaisexpressedasa
principleofcauseandeffect.TheUpanishadsoutlinetheimportanceofKarmaforHindus.Thepurposeoflifein
Hinduismisthustominimizebadkarmainordertoenjoybetterfortuneinthislifeandachieveabetterrebirthinthe
next.WhattheanalysisofthesetwotheoriestellsaboutthephilosophyoftheUpanishadsisthatitshowsHindus
howtoreachultimateliberationorastheywouldcallitMoksha.ThetheoriestellusthattheUpanishadswere
philosophicalandhelpedHindustowardtherightpathinshowingthemthegoalsinlife.TheUpanishads
encouragedgoodkarma,asbadkarmawouldbeputyouinaneverendingcycle.Goodkarmawouldallowyouto
separatefromthiscycleandbeliberated.WhichisoneofthefourmaingoalsinlifeforHindus.
IntheUpanisadsthephilosophyofkarmaasasacrifice/ritualevolvedtomoreabstractfunctionswiththeultimate
questions.AtfirsttheritualsweretoappeasetheGodstogiveyouwhatyouwant:ason,heavenorrainetc.itmay
evenseemshorttermedandmaterialistic.ThereisanofferingtotheGods–hymnsetc.theywouldsacrificeagoator
acowinaveryspecificalter.ThereisareciprocalrelationshipbetweentheirsacrificeandtheGod.Theywould
memorizethevedasandrecitetheappropriatehymnstoappeasetoacertainGod.Thetwotypesofkarmaarethe
sameprocessbecausetheybothhavethatunseenaspectandbothofferrewardseventually.TheUpanisadsmadeit
allmoreethicalbecauseitredesignedkarmaasnotjustaninstantprocedurebutinstilleditineverythingonedoes.
Thetextstalkmoreabouttheabsolute,ultimatequestionslikethemetaphysicalrelationshipbetweentheuniversal
spiritandme.Itappointedkarmaasthelawofnature,whichwoulddecideaperson’srebirth.Ritualanalysis:rituals
broughtgoodkarma,ifdoneproperlyattheappropriatealter.Philosophical:Karmabecamemorethanarewardofa
sacrifice,itbecameadailypracticethatbringsyouclosertoGod.
3.Howdoestherelationshipbetweenthehouseholderidealandtherenouncerideal(asdevelopedintraditionssuch
asBuddhismandJainism)representabasictensioninSouthAsianreligions?Inwhatwaysdoestheashrama
(lifestages)systemandclassificationoffourgoalsoflifedomesticaterenunciationwithinVedicsociety?
Therelationshipbetweenthehouseholderidealandtherenounceridealiscomplicated.Therelationshiprepresentsa
basictensioninSouthAsianreligions.InBuddhismandJainism,renunciationistheultimategoalinlifewhenit
comestobeingliberated.Renunciationiskeyifwantingultimateliberation.Arenouncerissomeonewhogivesupall
attachmentsandhasnothingtotheirname.Theyliveonthestreetsandbeg.IncontrastinVedicsocietythe
householderlikethenameindicateshaspossessions.Thehouseholderoftenhasahouse,afamily,afireand
participatesinsacrifice.Theseconflictswiththerenouncerasrenouncersdon’tparticipateinsacrifice,haveno
house,mustremaincelibateandjustmeditate.InVedicsocietymarriageisencouragedandinBuddhismandJainism
celibacyis.UltimatelyBuddhismandJainismrejectVedicideals.Theconceptofhavingahomeandhaving
attachmentsisthetotaloppositeofwhatarenounceris.TheashramasystemacceptsrenunciationinVedicsociety.
Thefourstagesoflifeincludethestudent,thehouseholder,forestdwellers,andtherenouncer.InVedicsocietythe
renounceristhefinalstageoflife.Thestudent’smaingoalismemorizetheVedas.Nextthehouseholderismarried
andownsahouse.Nexttheforestdwellerstageinvolvesmeditationintheforestandawatereddownversionofa
renouncer.Theforestdwellerstillownsahouseandstillliveswithhiswife.Thefinalstageistherenouncerwhereit
islikeretirement.Youliveseparateofyourfamilyandperformnorituals.Thisaccommodatesrenunciationasyoulive
withnonattachment.ThedifferenceisitisnotthegoalinlifelikeinBuddhismandJainism.Whenlookingatthefour
goalsinlife:wealth,sexualdesire,moraldutyandliberation,thisisdirectconflictofwhatrenunciationisdepictedas
inBuddhismandJainism.Renouncersdonothaveanythingtotheirnamesowealthisirrelevant.Renouncersare
celibatetosexualdesireisalsoirrelevant.MoraldutyofaBuddhistisrenunciation.Finallyliberation.Thesefour
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