Origins of Hinduism The location of India, surrounded by the Mountains of Pakistan and the narrow corridor in the North West, in the vicinity of the Indus River the Religion of Hinduism has thrived for centuries. Hinduism, unlike many other religions has no founder, no strong organizational structure to defend, no creed to define it and stabilize its beliefs Hinduism unites the worship of many gods with a belief in a single divine reality Hinduism is not a single unified religion, it is more like a family of beliefs
The Vedas They were originally preserved in oral form but later written down They are the earliest sacred books of Hinduism The name Vedas means knowledge or sacred lore Scholars date the earliest works to about 1500BCE The Vedas were suppose to be revealed to rishis (holy men of the distant past), these men transmitted them to later generations
The Vedas There are four sacred books The Rig Veda (A book of hymns) The Yajur Veda ( a collection of ceremonial knowledge) The Sama Veda ( chant knowledge, a hand book of musical celebration Atharva Veda (knowledge from the teacher – the Athrava – consist of practical prayers, charms)
The origins of the Upanishads They comprise about 100 written works that record insights into external and internal reality The name is thought to have been derived from a word that means “sitting near”- sitting near a master Primary to the Upanishads is the belief that meditation and spiritual discipline can cause both priest and non priest to experience the spiritual reality that underlies all seemingly separate realities They tell us that a person with the necessary experience can be a spiritual master It is believed that the Upanishads continue the religious interest of the forest dwellers of the Aranyakas They were written primarily in dialogue form,(prose and poetic) The prose form is believed to be older
Brahman Originally stood for the cosmic power present in the Vedic sacrifice and chants, over which the priest had control (It is a Sanskrit word –meaning to be great). It was expanded in the Upanishad to mean a divine reality at the heart of things Brahman is something that can be known – not merely believed in. Brahman is the belief that all lived experiences are in same way holy because they come from the same sacred source
Atman It is related to Braham, sometimes translated as “self or soul.” It is better translated at the “deepest self”. In Hinduism each person has an individual soul “jiva”. This soul confers uniqueness and personality – at the very deepest level what am I?
Maya In the Upanishad the everyday world is spoken of as Maya. This is usually translated as “illusion”. The original connotation is that of magic or mystery. However there is a positive view; referring to the original stuff of which things are made of. The model of reality presented by the Upanishad is less like a machine with moving parts and more like a great consciousness. Individuals do not appear as they are but should be seen as manifestations of the Divine spirit, which does not end when the individual dies. – re incarnation
Karma Hinduism maintains that human beings exist in previous forms. These can be lower of higher. What determines the direction one re incarnates is Karma. The word comes from a root that means “to do”. Moral consequences follows every act “What goes around comes around”
Samsara This term refers to the wheel of life, the cycle of constant rebirth. It suggests that the cycle of life is filled with struggle and suffering. All this cyclical process leaves people frustrated and wanting to escape. This leads us to the concept of release or liberation. . .
Moksha This term means freedom or liberation. It comes from the root meaning “to be released”.Moksha is the ultimate human goal. Ones escape is not only from such human things as anger and resentment, but also for the limitation of being individual itself. Some of the results of achieving Moksha is kindness to the creation, a sense of unity with the creation. Detachment from pleasure and pain leads to freedom from egotism. When kindness and insight are perfect, one escapes the process of rebirth. Brahman is the only thing that remains
Living Spiritually For the ordinary person Hinduism practice involves devotion to at least one deity. Finding ones proper work and doing it unselfishly The study of religious text, meditation, and other religious disciplines The BhagavadGita provides the basis of everyday Hinduism
The BhagavadGita (divine song or song of the Divine one) The Gita is part of a very long epic poem called the Mahabharata. It tends to strike a balance between the mystical and practical needs of everyday life Action and adherence to duty can even be thought of as a spiritual path “The wise sees knowledge and action as one” Like the Upanishad it is written in dialogue form. This dialogue occurs almost entirely between prince Arjuna and his charioteer and advisor Krishna Krishna did not necessarily espouse non violence. In fact he encourage Arjuna to fight to protect his throne and structure the society – to fight is his duty People like Ghandi have struggled with the concept of violence and have sought to resolve the problem by seeing the BG as religious allegory. Ghandi held that the call to war was not literal but rather the call to fight against dangerous psychological and moral forces such as ignorance, selfishness and anger
The Caste System When Krishna urges Arjuna to do what his position as a warrior demands he is reinforcing the caste system (a division of society into social classes that are created by birth or occupation) The caste system is the prevalent social system of Hinduism The BG recognizes that there are different types of people and that their ways to perfection will differ There are hundreds of sub castes The caste system dissuades intermarriage between different castes and sub caste Upward social mobility is possible even if it requires several life times
Five Main Social Classes The priest (Brahmin) – act as a counselor. In modern times members of this caste are cooks – a natural extension of the priestly functions with fire and sacrifice The warrior noble (kshatriya) – they protect society. It is a traditional caste of aristocracy The merchant (Vaishya) includes landowners, money lenders, and sometimes artisans (twice born) The peasant (shudra) – does manual work and is expected to serve the higher caste (once born) The untouchable (dalit) – traditionally does dirty work, cleaning toilets, sweeping streets etc. Their lowly state prompted Ghandi to give them a new name (Harijan – children of God). He urged their inclusion into the regular society
Stages of life Tradition Hinduism believes that each stage of life must be lived in a particular way Student – Brahmacharin) – this is the first stage of laying a religious foundation for life, between the ages of 8-20. Celibacy is a necessary part of the training Householder (grihastha) Marriage (traditionally arranged) occurs about age 20. The person fulfills the demands of society by raising children Retiree (vanaprastha) – When grand children arrive Renunciate (sannyasin) – One has to be retired before entering this stage. To leave free from society, one must leave home. He is free to wander and beg food. He can be a constant traveler or settle down in a religious community – called (ashram). The purpose of this kind of life is to hasten mystical insight or attain Moksha.
The Goals of Life Kama- deva – Pleasure Artha – economic security and power Dharma -social and religious duty Moksha however is the ultimate goal
Types of Yogas JnanaYOgo (knowledge Yoga) – it brings insights Karma Yoga (Action Yoga) – All useful work if done unselfishly can be a way to perfection. Deeds performed without the motivation for reward is called karma yoga Bhakti Yoga ( Devotion Yoga)- This describes the process of focusing outward to another. It can involve various expressions of devotion; chants, songs, food offerings, anointing of statues Raja Yoga (Royal Yoga) – It promotes meditation. There are different types of mediations – emptying the mind of thought, focusing on physical or mental objects. Sometimes it is done by repeating a word called a “mantra” Hatha Yoga (force yoga) – These are often seen in physical exercise. Kunhalini Yoga –It combines elements of both raja and hatha yoga. It teaches that there are seven psychic center called charkas (wheels) which exist above the spinal chord. Mediation helps a person to lift spiritual energy – called kundalini and envisioned as a coiled serpent from one center to the next.
Devotional Hinduism Because most Hindus are rural people they tend to practice (Bhakti). They worship their gods in villages, temples and home altars. Although Hinduism is polytheistic most worshippers focus their attention on one god.
The main God - Trimurti- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva In philosophy and art these God’s are often seen together as representing the three forces, creation, preservation and destruction. When linked together they are often called Trimurti – triple form
Brahma the creative force that made the universe
Vishnu The force of preservation in the universe. He is often associated with the sun. Ten incarnations of (avatars) of Vishnu are often spoken of – one is still to appear. Two incarnations are popular – Rama –Appeared in the great epic of Ramayana. He is seen as the helper. Krishna – an object of fertility worship.
Shiva Linked to destruction, depicted with three horns, sitting in a yogic pattern of meditation. These three gods are usually portrayed as masculine. In Hinduism however female gods are popular
Devi the great mother (goddess) is worshiped throughout India) The divine feminine appears as several goddesses
Durga awe inspiring and distant, seen with 10 hands used to destroy evil
Kali (dark) She is more fearsome still, seen wearing a necklace of human skull
The Guru as Object of Devotion The guru is the one who removes darkness. The majority of gurus are men but there are also women. The guru sets up a ashram with students and is recognized as a person of holiness
Devotion to animals Hinduism is distinctive to other world religions because of its kindness to animals. This respect might have been derived from the ancient deification of powerful animals such as elephants, tiger, an oxen
Modern Challenges The influence of early invasion – Greek invasions, Islam and British Islam came from Afghanistan -1206, This resulted in an inevitable clash between monotheistic Islam and Polytheistic Hinduism. This led to more than 5 centuries of Islamic rule – some of this seceded after Pakistan separated from India European values also influenced Hinduism – British 1500. British controlled the subcontinent for 2 centuries. Although India got independence from Britain in 1947, the influence is still seen in laws, education, architecture, rail transportation and military life
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Learned basic elements of non violence from Hinduism and Jainism Studied law in Britain. In London he read the BhavagadGita Obtained his law degree in 1891, returned to India. He later accepted a position to practice law in South Africa He returned to India and actively sought independence from Britain. Once India received independence, Ghandi sought to use the same non violent techniques to gain religious tolerance between Hinduism and Islam. This eventually led to his assignation. Pakistan later became a Muslim state