World Religions, Seventh Edition Warren Matthews Chapter Three: HinduismThis multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:• any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network;• preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images;• any rental, lease, or lending of the program.
The Origins and Historical Development of HinduismDravidian peoples lived in cities along the Indus River in modern-dayPakistan and northwest IndiaAround 1000 BCE, Aryans migrated into Dravidian territory from thewestFrom the intermixing of Dravidians and Aryans, the earliest forms ofIndian society (including the caste system and Hinduism) emerged
Shruti and Smriti: Revelation and ScripturesThe Vedas Sacred oral traditions brought by migrating Aryans Were regarded as having been revealed to humanity Were the subject of later commentaries Accounts of the gods Instructions on the performance of ritual to influence the gods
Shruti: Revelation and ScripturesVedic scriptures Rig-Veda – stories of the gods Sama-Veda – chants used by priests in soma sacrifices Yajur-Veda – litanies and prayers used in devotions Atharva-Veda – charms and spells for use by ordinary people
Shruti and SmritiShruti also expands on the theological implications of the accountsand rituals revealed in the Vedas Brahmanas, Aranyakas, UpanishadsSmriti is “remembered” and thus less authoritative Laws of Manu (how to live as a Hindu) Itihasa-Purana Mahabharata Ramayana
The Four Stages of LifeAccording to the laws of Manu (composed 200 BCE - 200 CE) For upper-caste males: Student Married householder Retired contemplative Renunciate Goal is samadhi – unity of the soul with Brahman Raja yoga helps release the soul from the body Women practice three stages, with the fourth being optional
Gods of the Rig-VedaAgni – the god of fire (a central element in ritual sacrifice)Indra – warrior god who slays demons and protects human beingsand godsSoma – the sacred drinkVaruna – the god of truthMitra – the god of contracts or agreements
The UpanishadSome Hindus branched out from the Brahmins and VedasThe Upanishads seek a sacrifice of psychological aspects to unitethe Atman in humans with Brahman, the absolute of the universeMany Hindus consider the Upanishads to be natural developments ofthoughts already suggested in the VedasNo social upheavals were necessary to bring about this evolution ofreligious thoughtThe Upanishads have a common spirit of inquiry, offering ways thatreligion can supplement other practices of the Vedas
The GuruA teacher who has gained a special insight into reality Upanishads – formulated as dialogues between student and guru Yajnavalkya – a prominent guru in the UpanishadsRegarded as more than human
Karma, Samsara, and CastesLaw of karma – the Hindu principle that thoughts and deeds arefollowed by deserved pleasure or pain, we reap what we sowSamsara – the Hindu concept of the wheel of rebirth that turnsforever, meaning that souls are reborn until they reach perfectionCaste – the particular social standing into which one is born,according to one’s karma in prior lives Kshatriya – the Hindu caste of rulers, warriors, and administrators Vaishya – the third Hindu caste, that of merchants and artisans Shudras – the fourth Hindu caste, that of laborers
The Bhagavad GitaA portion of the Mahabharata, an epic poemA battlefield dialogue between the warrior Arjuna and his chariotdriver, the god Krishna in disguise Krishna sees Arjuna’s reticence to enter battle, tells him to fulfill his duty as a warrior, the caste into which he was born Karma yoga, or fulfilling one’s caste duty, is a way of ultimately achieving moksha – liberation
The Bhagavad Gita – Four Ways of SalvationThe Path of Work – karma yogaThe Path of Knowledge – jnana yogaThe Path of Physical and Mental Discipline – raja yogaThe Path of Love – bhakit yoga
The Laws of ManuA Hindu code of conduct compiled from about 200 BCE to 200 CEDeveloped full discussions around a thread of precepts, or sutraDescribed an ideal code of behavior for HindusDepicted Brahmin ideals for each caste and for each member ofsocietyDescribed four stages of life – student, householder, forest-dweller,and samadhi (optional stage); allowed women to observe the firstthree stages
Orthodox Hindu Systems of PhilosophySankhya – frees souls from bondage to matterAdvaita Vedanta – accepts that appearances are not ultimate reality,and that ignorance, that avidya keeps individuals from seeingOther philosophic systems Yoga philosophy – liberates the soul from the body Nyaya philosophy – focuses on intellectual analysis and logic Vaisheshika philosophy – studies the external world and understands it in terms of atoms Purva-Mimamsa – emphasizes literal truth and duty
Hindu Responses to Western Influence Ramakrishna (1836-86) – a Brahmin with a devotion to the goddess Kali, taught that all divinities are manifestations of the one God Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) – turned to the resources within his Hindu tradition to improve India’s social conditions and resist British imperial rule Sri Aurobindo (1827-1950) – underwent a transformative religious experience that led him to practice and teach yoga, and taught that world reform comes through spiritual development of the self
Kali, the Fierce Goddess Who Destroys Forces of Evil
Hindu WorldviewHenotheistic rather than polytheistic understanding of the Absolute One superior god served by lesser deitiesCyclical universe marked by polarities of creation and destructionand influenced by the divineHuman life marks the appearance of the atman and is influenced bythe law of karma
Hindu WorldviewHuman fate is bound to endless cycles of reincarnation unless somemethod for attaining moksha is adoptedSolution to samsara (reincarnation) is harmony with the Absolutethrough the liberation of the soul There are various paths to harmony but all follow the laws of karma Assistance of deities is necessary at times
Hanuman statues in Hindu Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
A Contemporary Hindu Temple in Flushing, New York
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