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Hinduism tradition (textbook and lecture notes combined).docx

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Department
Humanities
Course
HUMA 1865
Professor
Aviva Goldberg
Semester
Winter

Description
‘Hinduism’ - Hinduism is not a religion per se; it is a great variety of different traditions - When british colonized sub continent of India, there were jews, muslims, Parsi, etc…so in order to classify they named the those without “religions” as “hindu” - colonialism labeled “hindus” as people who were unknown, inferior, uncivilized, and it was defined in relationship to themselves (the British) Origins  The three main sources for the origin of Hindu traditions are: o Indus Valley Civilization, aka Harappan culture o Indo-Aryan/Indo-European culture as the source culture for the Vedas o The Vedas from the earliest sections (the hymns) to the latest (the Upanishads) Vedas - first pole - The Vedas are sacred texts in oral form - Vedas are Shruti: meaning “heard”, by people who heard/saw the Vedas…these people are rishisorally transmitted and passed down  Vedas consist of four sections: hymns, rituals, sacrifice and Upanishads  The first pole, Vedas, was a social structure  from these hymns in Sanskrit there were rituals/sacrifices in order to keep the world in balance  social structure that established a caste system: priests (keep traditions, grow), rulers (protect/defend), merchants (business, economic stability), servants  Vedic Hymns: o Many gods and goddesses (but little if any focus on the great gods of later Hinduism like Vishnu, Shiva, Devi) o Offer ritual sacrifices: offerings into a sacred fire in exchange for a good life in this world o Offerings support rta, cosmic order (see Purusha Sukta hymn)  Upanishads: o Composed in a time of growing intellectual activity, questioning of authority, of traditional values (inc. Vedas) o Composed at roughly the same time as Buddhism and Jainism begin o Upanishads are not totally of early hymns/rituals - reformulates them, critical of earlier Vedic thought, commentary on Vedas in form of conversations, focus mainly on soteriology/aesthetics, Upanishads express new worldview of samsara and karma KARMA AND SAMSARA - Karma =literally meaning “action;” refers to rewards/punishments in regards to various actions - Samsara = cycle of reincarnation Samsara refers to the cycle of death and rebirth in which one’s actions in the material world affect their life after death. The concept of karma suggests that if one has exhibited negative behavior throughout their lifetime, they will return to the material world (reincarnation). If one continuously exhibits positive behavior throughout their lifetime in the material world, they will achieve “moksha” or release from the material world in which the cycle of reincarnation comes to an end. Atman and Brahman: - individual soul (Atman) becomes interrelated with the Supreme Being/universal soul (Brahman) = core of Samsara-Karma wisdom -  to be liberated- end result = united with universal soul - Brahman associated with: truth, knowledge, bliss, consciousness, and infinity - the Brahman is in all of us Crystallization  A secondary form of scripture, smrti (tradition) takes elements from the Vedas and reshapes them into classical Hindu tradition. Three genres of smrti are: 1. Epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata; the Bhagavad Gita is an important though short section of the Mahabharata) 2. Puranas (stories) 3. Dharmashastras (codes of law/ethics) Epics: Ramayana  Rama as ideal son, king, husband, incarnation of Vishnu  Sita as ideal wife, incarnation of Lakshmi  Hanuman as ideal servant  Theme of dharma, virtue, in the face of personal hardship and sacrifice is very strong in the various versions of this Epic. Love, loyalty, and strength.  composed 300 BC, describes how Rama, aided by his brother and the monkey king Hanuman, rescued his wife Sita from Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka. After killing the beast, Rama is crowned king (since his father has died of grief). However, Rama‟s subjects are suspicious of Sita‟s innocence after being captive by Ravana, and so Rama banishes her (who is also pregnant). She births 2 sons and tells Rama they are his, she proves her innocence by undergoing physical/spiritual ordeals …and is reunited  The Mahabharata:  focusing on the Bhagavad Gita  one of the two great Sanskrit epics of the Hindus, existing in its present form since c. ad 400.It describes the civil war waged between the five Pandava brothers and their 100 stepbrothers at Kuruksetra near modern Delhi. o Arjuna, a warrior hero of the Mahabharata, facing the dilemma a „just‟ but inevitably destructive war, is advised by Krishna to do his duty (dharma, defined by caste and stage of life) without selfish motive but for the welfare of all (karma yoga), to gain insight into the eternal nature of the soul and of the Supreme Being (jnana yoga), and to dedicate all that he does to the Supreme Being, Krishna himself (bhakti yoga).  The three yogas are also disciplines that lead to liberation from the cycle of rebirth  bakhti = way of devotion (devoting self to lord = cleanse of sins)  jnana = way of knowledge (textual understanding = knowledge = wisdom to destroy past karma)  karma yoga = way of action (unselfish act with or without fear/hope of punishment/reward) Puranas  Further develop bhakti (devotion to a divine being)  Supreme Divine Being envisioned as o Shiva – worshipped in Shaiva traditions o Vishnu and his incarnations (such as Rama and Krishna) – worshipped in Vaishnava traditions o Devi – worshipped in Shakta traditions (traditions centred on shakti, cosmic power which Devi embodies)  The Supreme Divine Being, whether Vishnu or Shiva or Devi, presides over all beings and over the universe itself. As Supreme Divine Being, he or she stands outside karma/samsara.  Bhakti to this God or Goddess, fulfilling duties as an act of devotion or as obedience to the divine will, insight into their nature, bring liberation from samsara.  There are other gods and goddesses very important in Hindu belief and practice; Ganesh, Hanuman, Lakshmi and others have their own distinct characteristics and worshipped often for very particular goals. Dharmashastras  Define social-religious duties (dharma) often according to four different caste or class groups and four stages of life.  Four varnas are an idealized social structure  Jatis are the actual social groups, each with a traditional occupation  Ashramas or stages of life for males of the top three varnas are a. student b. householder c. forest dweller d. renouncer  Four stages and four goals or aims of life: allow males to fulfill duties to family and society (dharma), pursue wealth, power (artha) and pleasure (kama) as a householder and if desired, pursue moksha in third and fourth stages. HINDUISM PRACTICE Sacred syllable “om” - om: recited at the beginning and end of all Hindu/Jain prayers and recitations of scripture - om has great power - some believe Om to represent the supreme reality (Brahman); om represents 3 worlds (earth, atmosphere, and heaven); Om is the essence of the 3 Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama). Temple Worship: - there is no reference to temples in the Vedic literature - Southern part of India, however, example of temple architecture survive from as early as the seventh and eighth centuries - A central element in most forms of Hindu worship is the image (murti) of the deity - Murti: aka idol/icon/object to be worshipped; is adorned, carried in processions, and entertained with music and dance - vishnu makes himself present in image form because he wants to be accessible - there is no congregational prayer in the style of the Sunday morning Christian worship or the Friday prayers for muslims  hindu priests are ritual specialists rather than counselors - at the centre of the temple is the garbha grha - garbha grha: aka the womb house, where the god/goddess is enshrined called the womb house because this is where spiritual regeneration or rebirth takes place - Devotees bow down before deities, idols, etc. The Naga - one of the earliest symbols in the Hindu tradition may be the naga (serpent) - nagas are also important in the iconography of Shiva and Vishnu Dance of Shiva - often portrayed as a cosmic dancer known as Nataraja (the king of the dance) -  symbolizing mastery over universal energy on the one hand and absolute inner tranquility on the other Linga - linga: an upright shaft, typically made of stone, placed in a receptacle called a yoni - yoni: symbolizes a womb - linga has sexual connotation - the union with yoni and linga is a reminder that male and female forces are united in generating the universe Erotic Sculpture - temple structures symbolizing sensual love - Khajuraho (1000 ce) most famous such art - The art is intended to serve an educational purpose for young men isolated because of studying…and to prepare them for the sensual enjoyment (kama) of the adult/real world Forehead Masks - most common visual sign of hindu culture - bindi: red dot traditionally worn by married women - women see the bindi as a symbol of the role that they play in society - when worn correctly: indicates which god they worship, and the socio- religious community of their belonging Domestic Worship - most important way of expressing devotion is through at home rituals - called puja; consisting of lighting lamps/incense, pray, food to the idol, etc significance of food - certain dates and lunar phases require fasting or feasting - one can receive Moksha simply by observing the right kinds of fasts - dietary prohibitions (i.e. vegetarianism, etc) based on idea that food reflects the general qualities of nature (purity, energy, and inertia) - offering food to deities  known as Prasada Annual festival cycle - observances, Diwali, birthdays of deities/gods, etc - Navaratri: lunar phase (new moon between sept/oct); it is a festival for mostly women; joyous time of music/celebration/beauty of womanhood; depiction of epics where dolls represent goddesses (Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati) - Dance – Garbha: sacred lamp kept in centre of circle as manifestation of goddess - Dance – Dandiya: recalls the dance that Krishnas is said to have performed with the cowherd girls - Also believed that this lunar phase was during the time Rama battled Ravana - Deepavali or Divali: deepa = lamp, vali = neckless…festival of lights …celebration that Krishna killed Narakasura (Southern Belief)…the Northern belief is that Divali is celebrated to mark the return of Rama to Ayodhya Life Cycle Rites - rituals marking certain stages of ones life - Su Asti: quality of existence certain kinds of people, animals, smells, food, etc. are considered auspicious because they are expected to bring about good fortune and a good quality of existence - Subha: Auspicious - Vivaha: Marriage Birth rituals: - Samskara: refers to a process of purifying or performing…this process begins
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