What is Hinduism:
- The most followed tradition in India.
- More than simply saying it is a religion, it is a way of life, defining the word of Dharma.
o Dharma – viewed as the performance of duties, based on an individual’s nature.
o Santana dharma – the eternal religion, their faith is considered to be eternal.
It transcends time and space as a tradition.
- Central to the goal of Hinduism is to achieve moksha. – the process of the soul living over many
times before becoming pure enough to reach moksha.
- Believe in one god, worshipped in different forms. Some hindus believe that the various deities
are equal, representing diff aspects of an impersonal god (Brahman). Others worship specific
gods, Vishnu/Shiva, being the two main ones amongst others that can grace those toward liber.
- The tradition is based around natural and everlasting principles.
The paths towards understanding Hinduism and Liberation (3 ways):
- Yogas – spiritual paths of Hinduism way to liberation, each way being a discipline.
o The main yogas are: (action/knowledge/devotion – K – J – B
o Bhakti (devotion)
o Jnana (scriptural knowledge)
o Karma (path of undeslfish duty/way of action)
Two Hindu scriptures & the Veda
- Veda – bringing religious practices and beliefs based on a set of holy scriptures. It is composed
of many traditions and schools of thought, rather than emphasizing fixed set of beliefs.
- Shruti (revealed truths/seen) – to the rishis
- Smriti (remembered truths/told) from rishis to the disciples.
- Life is a journey, moving from one body to another, this one life is in itself, a journey to the next
– birth to death. Idea of karma, samsara, moksha are visited here.
Life Cycles: Life is divided into 4 stages: called Ashramas
o Brahmacharya (gaining religious knowledge)
o Grihasta (householder)
o Vanaprastha (retirement/focus on non-attachement)
o Sam(n)yasa (wandering holy man with no fixed home – concentrates on moksa)
The set principles known as the Yamas and Niyamas.
Place of Worship
- In a special place – called mandirs (serve as temples/Hindus believe places are sacred). HINDUISM
Key Terms for the Lecture on Hinduism:
The word religion is problematic.
- One’s sacred duty (dharma) is an eternal duty (sanatana dharma).
- Dharma means ones social and religious duty. Expected to fulfill as part of the duty. But it does
not mean religion, it means, righteousness, justice, faith, duty, religious and social obligation.
- The less common word, and closest word to religion would Santana dharma – (the Eternal faith)
as it consists of many more aspects, it doesn’t have the same concept of religion.
tilak (or tilaka)
- “Tilaks” = forehead markings symbolizing the role they play in society.
- The socio-religious community they belong to along with the god or goddess they worship.
- Top down (vertical) – Vishnu, Krishna or Lakshimi.
- Left right (horizontal)– Shiva , or Parvati.
- Indigenous term for India
- Settlers (white) – dictated name Indians in reference to land surrounding – Indus River.
- The doctrine of karma assumes that a natural causal mechanism conditions individual destiny
- Reward and punishment system : God (west)
- Karma is a natural law, gravity is natural. Just a natural consequence of your action,
consequence in line with the work you did, you harm someone you get harmed, benefit another,
you will later get benefited.
- Part of the cycle of reincarnation
- It is represented by the tiring wheel of suffering and misery.
- The goal for hindus is to escape samsara and reach moksha (spiritual freedom).
- Soul must obey the law of cause and effect. Good deeds lead to a better standard of life.
- Selfish and ignorant deeds lead to suffering such as being born into a lower species, increased
bondage to the cycle of births and deaths.
- People must turn away from avidya (ignorance of spiritual truth) leads to maya, an illusion of
the truth. Attachment to material things is looked down upon,
Indus Valley Civilization
- It is the standard view that Hinduism had grown from a fusion of Indus valley, faith of the Aryans
and the indo-european people.
Mohenjo-Daro + Harappa
- Part of the Indus valley civilization – may have spanned over one mill sq kilmeters. Word
Harappa culture is included to understand it as it extends well beyond the Indus basin.
- The most important of the excavated sites in 1926- location near Pakistan for all this.
- Artwork suggesting the worship of animals/great achetechutual group “the great bath”
structure formation in the citadel mound at Mohenjo Daro.
- Procreation and the idea of statuettes of mother goddess’, showed the cherish of lives.
- Worshipped goddess images, symbolizing the female principle of the wonder of birth.
o Ability to give wife, a power, a tool of mystic power.
- Few seals show yoga posture – could have been the prototype for the deity known as Shiva.
- Idea of sati – cultural expectation of suicide of the widow at the husband’s death.
- They brought into india, came from central asia. North west part of central asia, they gradually
moved over to india. And conquered the people there.
- They were not highly organized.
- They were nomads rather than settled agriculturalists.
- The Aryans thought the world as divided into three levels: ‘triloka’
o 3 planes of existence
Space for birds and animals
Than all the way up, invisible realm, gods and goddess’.
o Thought each world had a moon and sun. Years ago they had an idea of the solar sys.
Clustering our systems together.
- From the Aryan language evolved into the language of Sanskrit.
- They conquered and brought with them a sacred language – “Sanskrit” part, containing sacred
power in its words, and the official language of the Hindu religion.
- Power lies in the sound of the words. Never meant to be written down, the system to memorize
and pass down from generations downward. HINDUISM
- Puranas: a new collection of texts composed to extol the glories of the deities and specify the
forms of worship.
- Ancient stories. One part of the three smrti: dharmashastras = code of law and ethics. The
foundations of Hindu Law.
- Many Hindus today revere the Puranas as the “fifth Veda.”
Vedas ( R Y S A )
- All 4 vedas written in Sanskrit – considered to be faultless – perfect, supreme source of knowldg.
- Almost everything we know about Hindus comes from collection of writings known as the Veda.
- Through the veda, the hindu portrayal of the vision of the religion.
- Passed from an oral format. Consisting of manuals and rituals
- Words of veda are considered ancient seers called ‘rishis’
- Through god through songs and hymns and became the teachings of the veda.
- Most important of the vedas, over 1000 hymns (1028) praising the gods/goddess’.
- the second Veda, consisting of prayers and sacrificial formulas primarily for use by the priests
- Meant to be sung
- Incantations and remedies to sickness, through using chants.
- There are 16 major components of the vedas.
- - How to obtain liberation, reincarnation, belief in life and death are let down.
- Each of these collections in turn consists of four sections:
o Samhitas - A collection of sacred devotional hymns in Sanskrit constituting one of
the four Vedas.
o Upanishads – the philosophical works. HINDUISM
Divisions of the Vedas
- Ritualistic sections
- intended to be read by hermits in the quiet of the forest.
- Teachings about Brahman and how the soul within all living beings is also Brahman.
- Teach how moksha is achieved
- Rethink and reformulate old telling of sacrifice - seen as symbolic structures in the text.
- Take the form of conversations btwn teacher and student.
- First to speak of karma – literal meaning here meaning action. Seen here a system of rewards
and punishments attached to various actions. Karma implies the continuing cycle of death and
rebirth in samsara… system of cause and effect requiring possibly many lifetimes to work out.
o Liberation: moksha –achieved through experiential wisdom transformation .
Prana (equivalent of the soul in the West)
- Prana, an internal air current of the body, is often spoken of as the basic animating principle.
- Makes us live, the air we breathe in and out. Air and its characteristic; this prana is not only an
air current of the body – it is often spoken as the basic animating principle.
- This is similar to the soul in the west. It is the soul goes through reincarnation and will obtain
Atman (meaning Human soul /Brahman is connected to this)
- Liberation of the atman from samsara leads to the central goal of moksha.
- Atman – eternal/individual soul) – soul carries on from life to life. The Human Soul.
- After death, atman continues its journey. Through the cycle of reincarnation, atman tries to
escape this cycle and join Brahman.
- People have referred to it as a droplt of water—that belongs in the ocean of brahaman.
- Teachings state famously – (you are that) you referring to Atman/that to Brahman.
Brahman (impersonal god)
- Personal god/Brahman (the creator/supreme being) – usually pictured with 4 faces, symbolizes
that god was the creator of the entire universe; 4 compass pnt. Only worshiped in pushkar India.
- Seen as the eternal truth, creates and supports the universe, like space
- Present in everything yet beyond it. An infinite type of source, hard to explain.
- Understanding it as inifinty, knowledge, truth, consciounesss and bliss. HINDUISM
- The idea of it being eternal truth/soul – states the idea of the atman (indiv soul) being different
from the temporary material body.
- Invisible/spirit – has lead to different spiritual paths called yogas.
Rita (the rightness of things)
- The world was believed to be governed by an abstract impersonal principle called ‘Rita’
- Universe governed by the word rita English word conversion means right principle
concerned with what is right and wrong. Rita is truth and justice , the rightness of things.
- What makes things harmomneous.
- Rita is dynamic not a static word; nothing crashes because of the principle of rita.
- Similar to the concept of karma
Purusha (or Purusa) – (known as the primeval man/creation of world)
- A great primeval sacrifice performed by the gods in which the body of a victim called Purusha
- The world of gods comes into play.
- Diversity with how our world came into being within the Hindu tradition.
- Not just one origin story like the bibile, this is just one of them.
- Purusha – was dismembered to become different parts of our universe.
- Hymn to the Supreme Person - The cosmic person has a thousand heads
a thousand eyes and feet: one account … Hymn of Creation is another, how things came to be.
The Laws of Manu (hierarchical system of rules for order)
The Laws of Manu describes a social order that goes far beyond the Rig veda. The varnas are
now hereditary, and their inequality in dignity is proclaimed with a new emphasis.
You descend in purity the lower you go down in society. Laws of manu, stratified indian society
into different classes and duty for them; new social dominance controlled by the priests.
The Laws of Manu, attributed to the sage Manu, articulates the etiquette and duties of each
class (varna) and of each age group in the new brahman-dominated society.
- Details of how kings must act. Strive to conquer his own senses. Roles and duties of each caste.
Varna ( B K V S) then the untouchables, [connected to birth grps jatis]
- The duties of each class, different from jatis.
- caste system; hinduism sees it as everyone getting a certain rol