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Key Terms for the Final Exam

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Henry Shiu

Key Terms for the Lecture on Hinduism 1. sanatana dharma: eternal law. An alternative term designating a comprehensive tradition, but it is common in only a few parts of India & some classes of society. The term is seldom used to refer to local manifestations of the faith. 2. tilak (or tilaka): A dot of mark on the forehead made with colored powder. Or forehead markings Bharata: Indigenous term for India Karma: Action, good and bad, as it is believed to determine the quality of rebirth in future lives. 3. Samsara: The continuing cycle of death and rebirths Indus Valley Civilization: The Indus Valley civilization may have spanned over one million square kilometers. Most important of the excavating sites are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Indus Valley culture flourished between 3000 to 1500 BCE. 4. Mohenjo-Daro: a town on the banks of the Indus River in Pakistan. Mound of the Dead. The citadel at Mohenjo Daro has a huge swimming pool like structure that archaeologists call the Great Bath, surrounded by porticos & flights of stairs. 5. Harappa: A large town on the banks of the Indus River in Pakistan. The culture extends well beyond the Indus Valley itself & is therefore called the Harappa culture. 6. Aryans: They were not highly organized. They were nomads rather than settled agriculturalists. The standard vew in the early 20 century was that it had grown from a fusion of the indigenous religions of the Indus Valley with the faith of the Aryans, an Indo-European people usually thought to have migrated there sometimes between 1750 & 1500 BCE. 7. Sanskrit: The Aryan language evolved into the Sanskrit, the official language of the Hindu religion. 8. Puranas: Old tales, stories about deities that became important after the Vedic period. Bhagavad-Gita: A section of the Mahabharata epic recounting a conversation between Krishna and the warrior Arjuna, in which Krishna explains the nature of God & the human soul. Vedas: The 4 collections of hymns and ritual texts that constitute the oldest & most highly respected Hindu sacred literature. Almost everything we know about the gods comes from a collection of writings known as the Veda. In the Hindu tradition, the term Vedas denotes the whole corpus, starting with the hymns, continuing through the ritual treatises, and concluding with the texts of a more philosophical character. Rg-Veda: One of the 4 samhitas or collections of the Veda. Rg Veda is the oldest & most important. Some people argue that the Rg Veda is more than 30,000 years old. The earliest section og the Rig Veda contains 1,028 hymns. 9. Yajur-Veda: One of the 4 Vedic collections. The hymns of the Yajur Veda are largely borrowed from the Rig Veda. 10. Sama-Veda: One of the 4 Vedic collections. Hymns from the Sama Veda are largely borrowed from the Rig. The Sama Veda was meant to be sung. 11. Atharva-Veda: One of the 4 Vedic collections. It differs from the other 3 Vedas in that if includes material that scholars consider non-Aryan, such as incantations and remedies to ward off illness & evil spirits. Unlike the hymns of the other Vedas, these chants were used for purposes other than sacrificial rituals. Some call for hard to befall ones enemies and one verse refers to the use of herbs to make a lover return. Another requests luck in gambling. 12. Samhitas: One of the 4 sections in the 4 collections. Many Orientalists & Wester Indologists have used the Veda only for the hymns, the samhita portion of each collection. Hymns, the earliest parts. 13. Brahmanas: One of the 4 sections in the 4 Vedic collections regarding rituals; directions for the performance of sacred rituals. 14. Aranyakas: One of the 4 sections in the 4 Vedic collections called compositions for the forest. 15. Upanishads: One of the 4 sections in the 4 Vedic collections. Philosophical textsworks in the form of reported conversations on the theory of the Vedic ritual and the nature of knowledge, composed around the 6 century BCE. Prana: an internal air current of the body, is often spoken of as the basic animating principle. The Prana is what makes us alive.. No specific detailed definition but has to do with breathing & energy 16. Atman: The individual self, held by Upanishadic & Vedantic thought to be identical with Brahman, the world-soul. 17. Brahman: The world-soul, sometimes understood in impersonal terms; Supreme Being, the single source of all that is Rita: The world was believed to be governed by an abstract impersonal principle called Rita. A delicate connection was understood to exist between the rituals and the maintenance of cosmic and earthly order, or rta. Rta is truth & justice. The rightness of things that makes harmony & peace possible on earth & in the heavens. Although it is an impersonal cosmic principle, it was upheld by Vedic gods like Varuna. 18. Purusha (or Purusa): A great primeval sacrifice performed by the gods in which the body of a victim called Purusha was dismembered. Another account of the Creation describes how the universe itself was created through the cosmic sacrifice of the primeval man (Purusha). This account, entitled the Hymn to the Supreme Person (Purusha Sukta) is important even today in both domestic & temple rituals, & has figured continuously in the tradition for some 3000 years. 19. The Laws of Manu: 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. One of the most famous foundations of later Hindu laws or Dharmashastras, are the Laws of Manu, attributed to the primordial man that Vishnu saved from the flood. These were probably codified around the 1 centuryst for they reflect the social norms of that time: the caste system is firmly in place, and women have slipped to an inferior position from the relatively high status they enjoyed in the period of the Vedas. 20. Varna: Each class of the Hindu society. There are 4 classes. 21. Jatis: Castes (in Sanskrit, jatis, or births) are hereditary occupational groups. There are more than one thousand jatis or birth groups in India, and people routinely identify themselves by their jati. Westerners sometimes translate jati as caste. 22. BrahmanBrahmin: The priests (brahmans). A member of the priestly class. 23. Ksatriya or Kshatriya: A member of the warrior class in ancient Hindu society. The rulers and warriors 24. Vaisya or Vaishya: A member of the third or mercantile class in the ancient fourfold class structure. The common people 25. Sudra or Shudra: A member of the lowest of the 4 major clasees, usually translated as servant, though some groups within the shudra class could be quite prosperous. A class of menials, the sudras 26. Dharmasastra: Codes of law and ethics. New texts known collectively as the Dharmasastra were created. The Dharmasastra assume that ones birth location is the most telling indication of ones karma
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