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Intro to Hinduism
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Intro to Hinduism

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  • 1. Hinduism The Traditional Religion of India One Reality with Many Faces For over 3500 years
  • 2. Hindu Highlights
    • Competing philosophies
    • Distinct and different religious practices
    • Divergent lifestyles
    • Monistic worldview
    • Yoga – Disciplined practices to experience union with the godhead
    • Many gods and a variety of practices
  • 3. A Religion with No Founder
    • Like a series of rivers, all of which flow into a vast ocean, Hinduism embraces an array of beliefs, ideas and practices found in India over it 3500 year history.
  • 4. ORIGINS
    • No central authority, no pope, no church council to decide what Hindus must/must not believe.
  • 5. Influence: Indus Valley Civilization
    • C. 3000 – 2500 BCE
    • Present day Pakistan, N. W of India
    • Advanced urban planning: sewers/bathrooms, toys, ornaments, ships, carts, jewelry, granaries, agriculture…
    • Carved seals: Indicate trade /commerce, pictographic script
  • 6. The Indus Valley Civilization
    • Seals: Evidence of nature/goddess worship
    • Top: Goddess Shiva seated on a stool flanked by an elephant.
    • Bottom: Male deity (Male head, bull horns)
    • Decline of civilization
    • c. 1700 BCE.
  • 7. The Indus Valley Civilization
    • Evidence of charms – protect vs evil.
    • Evidence of worship houses, fire altars, animal sacrifice pits.
    • Stone sculptures: mother goddess Parvati and Kali
  • 8. Pottery and Toys
  • 9. Mother Goddess Icons and Jewelry
  • 10. The Aryan Invasions of India
    • C. 1700 – 1500 BCE
    • Influence of Nomadic tribes from Middle East and Eastern Europe, Central Asia in N. India
    • Destruction of Indus Civilization
    • Advanced weaponry, horses, chariots
  • 11. The Aryan Invasions of India
    • Aryan gods, religious practices, language: Sanskrit
    • Aryan gods replaced or blended in with gods of the conquered Indian people.
    • Elements of Aryanism merged with Native religions - extended period of unique religious development.
  • 12. Aryan Influence
    • Aryans settled near river Sindhu – migrated along Ganges River. (Text: 118)
    • Height of Religious thought: 1500-500 BCE: poetry, hymns, ritual texts, philosophy.
    • Vedas – earliest sacred writings / verse
    • Rig-Veda: earliest record of sacred knowledge on Hinduism
    • Brahmanas: Prose interpretations of Vedas.
    • Upanishads: Mystical texts /philosophical inquiry/ prayers on human existence and relation to atman – the human soul.
    • Note: A. Hitler (1930) perpetrated myth that Germans were descendants of this ‘noble Aryan race’. No historic basis to his claim.
  • 13. Aryan Deities
    • Nature gods (life/death forces)
    • Agni: Fire worship (link between God/humans)
    • Worship/Prayer rituals: Honour/Please the gods.
    • Atman/the breath of human life related to Vayu – god of wind and air. (Fundamental principle - Hb: ruah)
  • 14. Hindu Beliefs Linga
    • Emphasis on practice more than belief.
    • Techniques to deepen human consciousness.
    • Gurus: Spiritual masters who achieve extraordinary level of consciousness who guide others in their spiritual quest.
  • 15. Hindu Beliefs Puja
    • Non-dogmatic: Freedom to worship any set of doctrine or rules according to conscience.
    • Not limited to one set of beliefs and practices.
    • Body of rules and rituals for every stage of life.
    • Does not impose its religious beliefs on others.
  • 16. Hindu Concept of God -
    • Brahman is not a god but the limitless, reality underlying all beings: ‘The Sound beyond the sense of hearing.’
    • Monistic: The entire universe is one divine entity who is at one with the universe
    • Neither m/f; without form
    • Creator/destroyer; giver / taker of life.
  • 17. Hindu Concept of God -
    • Divine, invisible, indescribable.
    • Individual deities: different aspects of the same supreme being, Brahman. Freedom to imagine Brahman in meaningful ways.
  • 18. Hindu Deities: Manifestations of Brahman
    • 330 million gods: infinite as Brahman
    • Aspects of polytheism – belief in many gods but also monism – all reality is ultimately one.
    • Hindu Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
  • 19. Hindu Trimurti:Brahma
    • Creator God of the Trinity
    • Seated on a lotus (a symbol of glorious existence)
    • Four heads and hands -holding a sacrificial tool, the Vedas (knowledge), a water pot and a rosary respectively.
    • His vehicle is a swan which is known for its judgment between good and bad
  • 20. Brahman is…
    • indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, original, first, eternal and absolute principle who is without a beginning, without an end , who is hidden in all and who is the cause, source, material and effect of all creation known, unknown and yet to happen in the entire universe.
  • 21. Brahman is…
    • the incomprehensible, unapproachable radiant being whom the ordinary senses and ordinary intellect cannot fathom grasp or able to describe even with partial success. He is the mysterious Being totally out of the reach of all sensory activity, rationale effort and mere intellectual, decorative and pompous endeavor.
  • 22. Hindu Trimurti:Saraswati
    • Lord Brahma's consort is Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning
    • Possesses the powers of speech, wisdom and learning.
    • Four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego.
    • She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus (a symbol of true knowledge) in the second.
    • She plays the music of love and life on the violin.
  • 23. Hindu Trimurti: Vishnu
    • The saviour/preserver god of the Trinity has four hands:
    • - a conch shell - spread of the divine sound "Aum“
    • - a discus (chakra) - reminder of the wheel of time, and to lead a good life
    • - a lotus - glorious existence
    • - a mace: the power and the punishing capacity of the Lord if discipline in life is ignored.
  • 24. Divine Couple: Vishnu and Lakshmi
    • 'Lakshmi' is derived from the Sanskrit, meaning 'aim' or 'goal‘.
    • Mati/Mother-Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual.
    • Four hands represent the 4 ends of human life: dharma or righteousness, kama or desires, artha or wealth, and moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
  • 25. Vishnu’s Avatars - Manifestations
    • Krishna – Vishnu in human form
  • 26. Krishna’s escape Radha and Krishna on a swing
  • 27. Lord Shiva – Destroyer God
    • Matted hair which holds the flowing Ganges river and a crescent moon, a serpent coiled around his neck, a trident (trishul) in his one hand and ashes all over his body.
    • Victory over the demonic activity, and calmness of human nature.
    • Known as the "giver" god.
  • 28. Shiva’s Consorts – Parvati
    • Loving wife and mother goddess.
    • Paves the way for the spread of peace and happiness in the world.
    • Son: Ganesha, brings good fortune and removes obstacles.
    • Popular god.
  • 29. Shiva’s Consorts – Parvati
    • Kali's blackness symbolizes her all-embracing, comprehensive nature black absorbs and dissolves them.
    • Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya (false consciousness.)
    • Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away .
  • 30. Shiva’s Consorts – Parvati
    • Her garland of fifty human heads - the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet - symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom.
    • She wears a girdle of severed human hands- hands that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action of karma.
  • 31. Kali - The Feminine Force
    • The image of Shiva lying under the feet of Kali represents Shiva as the passive potential of creation and Kali as his Shakti or the Universal feminine creative principle and the energizing force behind all male divinity including Shiva.
    • The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge.
    • Finally her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which she is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future.
  • 32. Atman – the eternal soul – is:
    • the immortal aspect of the mortal existence, the self, which is hidden in every object of creation including man.
    • is Brahman Itself, the very Self which descends down into the elements of nature through self-projection
    • The Self is the silent partner in all our deeds and experiences, the observer and the indweller of all embodied beings. Its nature cannot be explained or described in human language adequately, as it is beyond the senses and the mind.
  • 33. The Jiva – Constitution of the human person
    • Bound by our senses
    • Limited by sensory knowledge and sensory perceptions
    • Jivas (we) do not perceive the truth. We go out, get involved and in the process forget who we are.
    • The experience of Self
    • comes when:
    • - the mind and the five senses are stilled and when the intellect is stilled .
    • - the mind is free from the movement of thoughts and sense objects, and the torment of desires, the prime cause of all human activity and suffering,
  • 34. The Ego – Atman’s poor cousin
    • The false center, which assumes the position of control and ownership
    • Permanently situated in ignorance and gloom and needs to be rescued from eternal doom and damnation by the indwelling Atman
    • Not just pride or arrogance.
    • The belief that we exist individually, possess things and qualities.
    • Ego makes us feel distinct or separate from the rest of creation and the Creator.
    • Makes us vulnerable to Maya, the power that causes delusion and bondage to earthly life and cycles of death and rebirth.
  • 35. Hindu Reincarnation is:
    • NOT…
    • the belief that when one
    • dies, one's body
    • decomposes, but one is
    • reborn in another body.
    • a chain of rebirths in which each soul, through virtuous living, can rise to a higher state.
  • 36. Samsara - Rebirth
    • .. the passing through a succession of lives based upon the direct reward or penalty of one's karma.
    • ..This continuous chain consists of suffering from the results of acts of ignorance or sin in past lives.
    • ..During each successive rebirth, the soul, which the Hindus consider to be eternal, moves from one body to another and carries with it the karma from its previous existence.
  • 37. Samsara - Rebirth
    • ..The rebirth may be to a higher form; i.e., a member of a higher caste or god, or down the social ladder to a lower caste or as an animal, since the wheel of karma applies to both man and animals.
    • ..Accordingly, all creatures, both man and beast, are in their current situations because of the actions (karma) of previous lives.
  • 38. Moksha…liberation of the soul
    • From the wheel of karma with its endless cycle of births, deaths and rebirths.
    • Enter into a state of fullness or completion through death or preferably while one is still living.
  • 39. Bhakti Yoga
    • The devotion to a particular god
    • Pure spiritual devotion, of love for God which is Love. The Deity is the beloved and the devotee is the lover.
    • Bhakti yoga is based on the doctrine "Love is God and God is Love".
  • 40. Devotion
  • 41. Karma Yoga - Action
    • All acts done from birth to death.
    • Entirely selfless service, in which the Ego is given up to the desire to serve God in every thing, be it man, animal or plant.
    • Karma performed by right means does not harm anybody
    • Following ones' personal Dharma
  • 42. Faith in Action
    • Eighty-year-old T.S. Mani, a devotee of lord Subrahmanya, rolled around Indrakeeladri hill for a distance of about 10 kms on February 01, 2007 for the well-being of the society. This was the fourth time that he did so.
    • Sees one’s being as an instrument of the Lord and that one’s work is an offering to the Lord
  • 43. Jnana Yoga – Path of Wisdom
    • Knowledge,wisdom or discernment
    • To know Brahman as one's own Self is Jnana.
    • To behold the one Self everywhere is Jnana
    • Ajnana is ignorance
  • 44. Jnana Yoga – Path of Wisdom
    • Requires:
    • - mental control and discipline, without which concentration and meditation are impossible.
    • - intense desire for liberation or deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths
    • - When purification of mind and mental discipline are achieved, the longing for liberation dawns by itself.
  • 45. Jnana Yoga – Path of Wisdom
    • - The aspirant then chooses the Guru who will instruct him on the knowledge of his real nature.
    • - The Guru is one who has a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and is also established in that knowledge in direct experience. He should then reflect and meditate on the inner Self and strive earnestly to attain the goal of Self-realization.
  • 46. Jnana Yoga – Path of Wisdom
    • Paramahamsa Yogananda - born in Calcutta in 1893.
    • Instructed by his Guru to leave India and go to America to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga (literally, the Yoga of "ritual action").
  • 47. Raja Yoga -
  • 48. Raja Yoga
    • Raja means royal or kingly.
    • Mainly concerned with the mind, its modifications and its control.
    • Attention focused on the object of meditation, or the Lord directly.
    • Prolonged and repeated practice of concentration again and again, and repeating Lord's Name.
    • Development of virtues: friendliness, compassion, humility, non-violence ( ahimsa), truth