The Vedas
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  • 1. The Vedas<br />The Rig-Veda Samhita is the oldest significant extant Indian text. It is a collection of 1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books (Sanskrit: mandalas).<br />It is the principle authoritative texts for Brahmanic Hinduism. <br />4 Vedas<br />Rig Veda<br />Metrical Hymns<br />Yahor Veda<br />Ritual incantations<br />Sama Veda<br />Chants<br />Atharva Veda<br />Liturgies, arts<br />Composition of Vedas<br />Four Sections in Vedas<br />Samhitas<br />Mantra/hymnal section<br />Brahmanas<br />Elaborative portion with formulas for sacrifices<br />Aranyakas<br />Forest reflections<br />Upanishads<br />Philosophical-speculative portion<br />Since they are the end, known as Vedanta (‘end’-‘anta’)<br />Names a prominent system with numerous branches and sub-schools within Hindu philosophy. <br />Subject matter of each of the above falls roughly into divisions of<br />Karma-Kanda <br />Work-ritual treatises<br />Upasana-kanda<br />Worship-meditations<br />Jnana-Kanda<br />Knowledge - wisdom<br />Other Authoritative Scriptures of Hinduism<br />Other texts for Hinduism <br />Smriti (recolleceted)<br />Puranas<br />Sutras<br />Ramayana<br />Mahabharata<br />Bhagavad Gitas<br />Vedangas<br />Sastras<br />Itihasas<br />Puranas<br />Tantrais<br />Agamas<br />Sutras<br />Bhashyas<br />Rig Veda<br />oldest significant extant Indian text<br />1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses <br />ten books (mandalas)<br />Hymns dedicated to Rigvedic deities<br />composed by sages and poets <br />1400 BCE to 900 BCE <br />Rig Veda Cont<br />Virtually begins with a puzzle about being or the fact of existence, almost as if to question the ground of existence itself. <br />Nasadiya<br />Poet wonders what was at the beginning, where there was neither non-existence<br />Sums up with a cryptic remark that perhaps we would never know the how and why of the world’s coming to be. <br />Earliest expression of a skeptical tendency in regard to the ultimate questions on the nature of the world and the self that looms large within the Indian tradition as part of its philosophical conscience. <br />States that existence, (even human) appears problematic – there is non-intelligible residue at the root of our experience which no inquiry may be able to answer. <br />Nasadiya<br />Reading of Nasadiya<br />Self and Creation in the Vedas<br />Rigvedic Seer (derived from Rig Veda) <br />Not committed to facticity of existence or any existent. <br />Wonders if/how no-existence could have arisen<br />How/why world is how it is now<br />Is ‘creation’ due to working of some mysterious hand? <br />Subsequent Hymns attempt many various answers<br />One story, floating cosmic egg giving birth to its own progenitor, Prajapati – a supreme god – who then sets about creating the worlds and the animate and inanimate. <br />Anthropomorphic extention of the normal human perspective or regenerative process from which the ideas of implanting the ‘seed’ in the ‘womb’ and birth are taken. <br />Self is unreflectively taken for granted to bet he empirical organism, without any deeper or inner self. <br />More importance to the cosmic order and to the Gods, who appear to control the destiny of nature and human beings alike. <br />Purusha – The Cosmic Person<br />Cosmic pattern and ordering of society modeled after image of a person. <br />Purusha <br />The Cosmic Person<br />Hymn – “Purusha – Sukta” “Hymn of Man”<br />Describes Purusha whose dismembered parts consitute the universe and its ‘furniture.’<br />Opposite of creatio ex nihilio <br />“made from nothing.” <br />The Hymn of Man<br />Human existence has a purpose and plan that approximates the cosmos itself and is related to its various aspects. <br />Human life can only have meaning when it is in harmony with the cosmos<br />Need not necessarily lead to a single metaphysical view about the self, such that the self must be a permanent, undifferentiated, eternal consciousness or soul-substance, as developed later in Hinduism<br />Thus, no definitive conception of personal self in Vedas, apart from integration with cosmos. <br />Terms of Note<br />While purusha is the more general term used in early Vedas for ‘person’, there occur other terms that describe the individual more or less concretely. <br />Purusha – ‘person’<br />Jiva – created or individual self, akin to ‘soul’<br />Cetana-atman – everlasting intelligent principle<br />Prana – breath/life<br />Sutru-atman – ruler<br />Atman vatah <br />Hamsa – ‘all-dwelling inner power’ or swan <br />Atman<br />Self gets referred to by all terms above, but Atman is strongest<br />Purusha = connotates to signify the principle of existence within each living being – gods, humans and animals alike. <br />Atman = used to refer to this principle in human beings. <br />Jiva = identifies the individual self. <br />Jiva<br />
    • Each being has own distinguishing features that characterize the constitution of its Jiva or living embodiment.
    • 2. Most scholars render jiva as the ‘soul’ in the sense that it is an entity that survives the demise of the human body that it inhabits.
    • 3. Substansive status given to jiva is only a provisional status, which it has in the conditioned state of existence.
    • 4. Does not imply that it has to be a permanently existing entity or substance
    • 5. In this case, calling it ‘soul’ is inappropriate
    • 6. On one level, self is nothing but the jiva (constituent body, mind, memory, qualities, etc.)
    • 7. On another level, self may tanscend the limitations of jiva and be identified by all beings, in some deeply unique relation they each share, as the common denominator.
    • 8. This is Self, better referred to by atman.
    • 9. However, jiva and atman are not two things in an individual, instead, they are united in an inseperable relationship.
    • 10. Consider jiva as the alientated self with which the human person identifies its self, but which is really a substitute for, or superimposed upon, the self (atman) that is One.
    • 11. Because people identify with jiva, it leads them to false notions, such as “I am (this) or I am (that).”
    • 12. It causes otherness and difference “deception” which needs to be overcome, so that the true self can reveal itself or shine forth.
    Upanishads<br />Brahman =  is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe.<br />In the Vedas, “Brahman” denoted ‘sacred formula’ or the ‘word’ as well as the one who lies behind such word and wisdom, and the rites performed to accomplish this end. <br />Also connotation of “holy power” and force behind word and wisdom. <br />Eventually came to represent the greatness of being, the supreme power and the ‘first principle’ underlying all things, and the non-changing, all-pervading, transcendental ground of all things. <br />Ultimately, it is the greatest being, past ones that can be understood. <br />Atman and Brahman<br />In Upanishads, tend to identify atman (as the ‘breath’ or principle in human being) with Brahman(as the principle underlying the universe.)<br />Ultimately there is no distinction or difference to be made between the real self of human existence and that which ultimately is. <br />In conversation between sage Yajnavalka and his wife Maitreyi, he tells her that the knowledge that he seeks of the self is dear not for the sake of the husband, wife, son, wealth or any of the other castes, rather it is dear for the sake of atman, for he says that atman is all. <br />Atman equals Brahman<br />Chandogya <br />“The self which is free from evil, free from old age, free from death, free from grief, free from hunger and thirst, whose desire is the real, whose thought is the real, he should be sought, him should one desire to understand. He who has found out and who understands that self, he obtains all worlds and desires.” <br />However, other Upanishads do not agree, since secret teachings of Vedanta would rather have the individual released from the world and the cycle of desires than be lured further into these. <br />Atman equals Brahman<br />god Indra took 101 years to understand that desire is a function of the senses and that this is not the way to self-realization, rather a deep insight into the self through knowledge and reflection is ultimately necessary. <br />Rest of Chandogya Upanishad presents the central teachings on the self, its various states, (‘inner space’ and in sleep, its fate at death, and its quest for immortality.) should be covered later. <br />Reactions against the Brahmanic-Hindu View<br />Materialists said atman betrayed a concept of the substantial self. <br />Atman postulates an enduring, qualitative, individual existence, when in fact there appears to be no such substantive entity or presence within human frame. <br />Thus, Buddhists created another view, where self was denied. <br />How Substantial is the atman?<br />Atman is beyond personal self – is same for all people<br />Substantial self is different in each individual <br />Colored by a person’s passions, thoughts, imaginations, dispositions, and karma. <br />The personal identity in respect of the Atman is not the same as the personal identity in respect of the jiva; atman = stricter form of identity than jiva. <br />To deny the substantial self is not to deny atman. <br />CONCEPT OF atman appears to have been developed as a means of enabling human beings to look beyond the limiting conception of a self identified with the bodily and conscious or unconscious processes. <br />