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Human DilemmaA Study of the Bhagavad-Gita, Esther, andPoetry by Rumi
The Bhagavad-GitaFocus: The focusof this work isIndianPhilosophy; it isconsidered themost influentialwork of Hinduism.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITAINCLUDES 700 VERSES IN18 CHAPTERS.
The Setting is India
Historical Background: A Word about India Based on what we know from archeologists, there was a great civilization that existed in Mohenjo-Daro, situated in Pakistan today. This city was populated by the dark- skinned Dravidians.
What about the Dravidians? The Dravidians had a polytheistic fertility religion that centered upon worship of the forces of nature and use of rituals, merging human sexuality with the hope for abundant crops.
Things changed… The light-skinned and warlike Aryans came over the Caucasus Mountains in about 2000 B.C. and conquered the people of the Indus Valley.
What about the Aryans? The Aryans also had a polytheistic religion and some of the most popular Dravidian gods, while still maintaining their given functions, received new Aryan names. The Aryans wrote down their hymns, prayers, mythic stories and chants into the Vedas, Brahamanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads, [composed between 2000 and 70 B.C., known as Vedic literature.
Vedic Literature The term ―Hinduism‖ comes from the Indus River which of course is in the Indus Valley region and stems from the merging of these two people groups. Dravidian polytheistic fertility religion and the early Aryan Vedic polytheistic religion laid the foundations of what later became Hinduism.
Vedic Literature continued The writings of the Vedic literature are considered by Hindus to be supernaturally inspired and are as sacred to them as the Bible is to Christians. While the earliest Vedas were blatantly polytheistic and devoted to rituals and sacrifice, the later Vedas showed a movement toward pantheism. [According to pantheism, God did not create the world; God is the world along with
Vedic Literature continued Although the earlier Hindu scriptures had mentioned many gods, the highest goal, according to the later Vedic literature, was union with Brahma, the impersonal absolute.
Varna Additional Hindu scriptures were added with the purpose to establish Varna, a rigid caste system, or social hierarchy. One hymn tells how four castes of people came from the head, arms, thighs, and feet of the creator god, Brahma.
Varna: Social Castes of India The four castes were the Brahmins (priests), the Kshatriyas[‗ksha-tree-a] (warriors and nobles), Vaisyas [vish-ya] – [long i] (merchants and artisans) and the Shudras (slaves). Each caste was then subdivided into hundreds of subcastes, arranged in order of rank. The ―untouchables‖ were even lower and were, until the 20th century, considered outside the caste system and treated as subhuman.
When Indiabecame anation in1947, thegovernmentofficiallyoutlaweddiscriminationagainst theuntouchables.
There are two core beliefs inHinduism: Reincarnation andKarma Reincarnation—the belief that the atman, a person‘s uncreated and eternal soul, must repeatedly be recycled into the world in different bodies. In some forms of Hinduism, souls may be reincarnated as animals, plants, or even inanimate objects.
Reincarnation…How does itwork for the Hindu? Reincarnation is the process that takes the Hindu through the great wheel of Samsara, the thousands or millions of lives (all full of suffering) that each atman must endure before reaching moksha—liberation from suffering and
Karma in the wheel ofSamsara Karma [which means ―action‖] had to do with the law of cause and effect. For the Hindu, Karma means merit or demerit which attaches to one‘s atman (soul) according to how one lives one‘s life. Karma from past lives affects a person‘s present life and will determine a person‘s station in the next life.
Biblical note on Karma The Bible flatly contradicts Hindu ideas of reincarnation and Karma. Hinduism teaches that the atman is uncreated and eternal. The Bible teaches that each person is created by God, will die once and then be resurrected once at the judgment (John 5:17-30; I Cor. 15:1-58; Hebrews 9:27)
Biblical note cont. Hinduism teaches that the atman is perfect, free and unlimited, and no matter how many lives it takes, eventually each and every atman will realize its divine nature. The Bible teaches that each person has one life to live, and after this comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
Three paths to Moksha (orreunion with Brahma—which isthe goal) The path of works (dharma) The path of knowledge (inana) The path of passionate devotion (bhatki)
Path of works (dharma) A person has a set of specific social and religious obligations that must be fulfilled. He must… follow his caste occupation, marry within his caste, eat or not eat certain foods and, above all, produce and raise a son who can make a sacrifice to his ancestors as well as perform other sacrificial and ritual acts.
The path of knowledge (inana) Includes self-renunciation and meditation on the supreme pantheistic reality of Hinduism. This path is open to men only and only those of the highest classes The idea is that through yoga the person can come to understand that one‘s true self, their undying soul (atman), is identical with Brahma— aham asmi Brahma
The path of passionate devotion(bhatki) It is the most popular way to achieve moksha. A person can choose one of the 330 million gods to devote themselves to. This path is described in the earliest form of the epic poems including the Mahabharata which is where The Bhagavad-Gita is from. Almost all Hindus worship Vishnu or Shiva
A little about Vishnu Vishnu has many names and has appeared as avatars (saviors—the incarnation of deity) in the form of a giant turtle, as Gautama Buddha, and as Rama and Krishna.
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord---Regarding GodHinduism The Bible saysRejects God thatas the God is thesovereign creator of ourcreator of the souls as wellworld. as the world.
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord—regarding GodHinduism The Bible saysBelieves in that God is aBrahma, a personal,formless,abstract loving Godeternal being who is anwithout eternal,attributes who spiritual Beingwas the in threebeginning of all persons—things Father, Son
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord—Regarding JesusHinduism The BibleRejects Jesus teaches thatChrist as God becameGod‘s incarnate onlyincarnate once in humanSon. They history. [Johnbelieve thatVishnu had 1:14]becomeincarnatemany times in
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord—Regarding JesusHinduism The resurrection of Christ demonstratesTeaches His uniqueness as Godreincarnation the Son and His victory over death. It refutes the Hindu teaching of continuous reincarnation and their belief that Christ is just another avatar or super-savior.
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord—Regarding SinHindus call sin The Bible teaches that―utter illusion‖; sin is prideful rebellionall material that leads to eternalreality isillusory and separation from Goddeliverance after living only onefrom this life…not many. Salvationendless cycle is gained only throughsuffering or the believing in thesamsara is to sacrificial death andbe reunitedwith Brahma. resurrection of Jesus Christ [Rom. 3:24;I Cor. 15:3]
Contrasting Hinduism with God‘sWord—Regarding SalvationHinduism The Bible teaches that Jesus did notteaches come to teach―ways‖ or humanity various―paths‖ to ―ways‖ to salvation,salvation but to ―be the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6] and ―to take away to sins of many‖ [Hebrews 9:28]