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RLGA01H3 Study Guide - Quiz Guide: Rigveda, Tao Te Ching, Sky Father

Course Code
Henry Shiu
Study Guide

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RLGA01H3 2012 Fall
Key Terms for Hinduism:
sanatana dharma – eternal law
tilak (or tilaka) – A dot or mark on the forehead made with colored powders
Bharata – indigenous term for India
karma – action , good and bad, as it is believed to determine the quality of rebirth in
future lives
samsara – the continuing cycle of rebirths
Indus Valley Civilization
Flourished between 3000 to 1500 BCE
Spanned over one million square km
Important excavating sites are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa
Concerned with procreation and purity
Worship male animals as a way of incorporating their sexual powers.
Female reproduction powers were also regarded as sacred.
Female principle may have been revered as a goddess.
Purification practices, meditation, and the well-organized cities suggest
the importance of order and restraint.
No one knows why this culture/civilization disappeared
The great both for cleansing purposes
oCleansing is used in many cultures; Many dos and don’ts may
overlap when you compare different religions
They were not highly organized
Nomads rather than settled agriculturalists
Language evolved into Sanskrit, the official language of the Hindu religion
oThe Sanskrit word for God is deva, akin to the English words divine
and deity.
oAlmost everything we know about them comes from a collection of
writings known as the Veda.
oSo important is the Veda that Hinduism is sometimes called Vaidik
dharma, meaning the religions of the Veda
The four collections of hymns and ritual texts that constitute
the oldest and most highly respected Hindu sacred literature
The words of the Veda, according to traditional conviction,
were revealed to ancient seers called ‘rishis’.
Divided into four samhitas (collections)
oContains 1028 hymns; Aitreya Upanishads
oHymns largely borrowed from the Rig
oBrihadaranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishads
Associates Brahman with
existence or truth (satya),

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knowledge (jnana), infinity
(ananta), consciousness (chit),
and bliss (ananda)
oMeant to be sung
oHymns largely borrowed from the Rig
oChandogya Upanishads
Atharva Veda
oContains materials that scholars consider non-
Aryan, such as incantations and remedies to
ward of illness and evil spirits
oThe hymn chants were used for purposes
other than sacrificial rituals (such as call for
harm to befall one’s enemies)
Where each of these collections in turn
consists of four sections
Samhitas – hymns
Brahmanas – directions for the
performance of sacred rituals
Aranyakas – ‘compositions for
the forest’
Upanishads – ‘sitting near [the
teacher]’ (philosophical works);
most recent sections of each
Sanskrit – official language of the Hindu religion; from the Aryan language
Puranas – a new collection of texts composed to the extol glories of deities and
specify the forms of worship
Revere it as the “fifth Veda”
Asserted the existence of 330 million deities
Bhagavad-Gita – a section of the Mahabharata epic recounting a conversation Krisna
and the warrior, Arjuna, in which Krisna explain the nature of God and he human
soul; desireless action is possible only through egoless bhakti faith; true suspension
of all karma is impossible.
Prana – an internal air current of the body; often spoken of as the basic animating
Atman – the individual self, held by Upanishadic and Vendantic thought to be
identical with Brahman, the world-soul.
Brahman – the world-soul, sometimes understood in impersonal terms
Rita – an abstract impersonal principle the world believed to be government by
Purusha (or Purusa) – a great primeval sacrifice performed by the gods in which the
body of a victim called Purusha was dismembered; to create the world;
The Laws of Manu - attributed to the sage Manu, articulates the etiquette and duties
of each class and of each age group in the new brahman-dominated society

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The laws of Manu gave women a low status; they were denied independence;
not allowed to learn the Veda or even hold it
The dharma of women as a faithful wife (pativrata)
Varna – “class” (ex: the Brahmin class, sudra class)
jatis - castes (in Sanskrit, jatis, or “births”) are hereditary occupational groups
The Caste System
Brahmin – the priest
Ksatriya – the rulers and warriors
Vaisya – the common people
Sudra – a class of menials (slaves)
There are the untouchables, who are considered to be the most impure.
Dharmasastra – new texts; assume that one’s birth location is the most telling
indication of one’s karma
Asramas – the four sages of life are four stages of increasing dignity (student,
householder, forest dweller, and the sannyasi stage)
Samnyasin – a religious ascetic; one who has reached the fourth of the classical
stages of life for Hindu males after student, householder, and forest-dweller
The Four Aims of Life
Artha – worldly success; wealth and power;
Kama – sensory pleasure
dharma – religious and social duty, including both righteousness and faith
moksha – liberation from the cycle of birth and death; one of the three
classical aims in life
Three ways to Liberation – from the cycle of birth and death
the way of action (karma yoga)
othe path of unselfish duty, performed neither in fear of punishment nor
in hope of reward
the way of knowledge (jnana yoga)
othrough scriptural knowledge, one may achieve a transforming wisdom
that also destroys one’s past karma
the way of devotion (bhakti yoga)
yoga – a practice and discipline that may involve philosophical system and mental
concentration, as well as physical postures and exercises
the ultimate goal in yoga meditation is to reach an awareness that is perfectly
at one with and centered in the atman
the practitioner who reaches this state is said to put an end to all past karma
and experience moksa
refers to eight-stage meditation discipline, attributed to the ancient sage
omoral restraint
omental discipline
obreath control
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