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RLST 110, Brodd 91-140

by: Angel Garcia

RLST 110, Brodd 91-140 RLST 110

Angel Garcia

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These notes are from the Brodd textbook readings for hinduism (pg. 91-140)
World Religions
Dr. Dov Weiss
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This 10 page Bundle was uploaded by Angel Garcia on Sunday September 11, 2016. The Bundle belongs to RLST 110 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign taught by Dr. Dov Weiss in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 19 views. For similar materials see World Religions in Religion, history at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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Date Created: 09/11/16
Hinduism Introduction Darshan-To see and be seen by the divine, and feel the immense presence of a living being -Hinduism has neither a single founder nor a single sacred book -Scholars argue that Hinduism isn’t one religion but a constellation of many sects that share some common aspects The Teachings of Hinduism -The Word Hinduism didn’t exist prior to the 19 century -Hindu was initially a term used by the Persians to describe those who lived by the Indus River in India -Some Hindus look to the authority of texts called the Vedas and may rely on Brahmin priests to officiate rituals -Some reject these practices and join organizations built around saints or sages Karma- Determines one’s incarnations in Samsara Samsara- The continuing cycle of death and rebirth Moksha- Or liberation, the final release from the trials and tribulations of Samsara Hindu Beliefs and Divine Reality -Hinduism has split between monastic and dualistic viewpoints Monism- Doctrine that all reality is ultimately one Dualistic- Understands divine reality as God -Devotional practice is a primary religious activity of Hindus who hold a dualistic viewpoint Names of the Divine Reality Brahmin- Denotes divine reality in monism in which they believe is supreme, unitary reality that is the source of all being and all knowing God- Used in dualistic Hinduism and devotional Hinduism to express divine reality -When dualistic Hindus refer to a particular deity, they often use the specific name One Divine Reality, Many gods -The monistic viewpoint doesn’t preclude the belief in gods or goddesses -Brahman is indescribable from the ordinary human perspective -Brahman’s general attributes are infinite being (sat), infinite awareness (chit), and infinite bliss (anada) -Hinduism can be describes as polytheistic and monistic because of the ultimate singularity of the divine Divine Reality as Sound -“OM” is the sound through which the universe is manifested and the expression of Brahman -“A” is waking consciousness, “U” is dreaming consciousness, “M” is deep sleep without dreaming consciousness God as Image -Hindus believe that God becomes accessible to devotees through images, therefore an image of God is God -Images have features that represent the deity’s many aspects The Divine in Nature -The natural world is an expression of the Divine -Rivers are worshipped as embodying the creative energy that generates the universe and as places crossing between the divine and terrestrial worlds -The cow is revered as a second mother and they are worshipped in the festival of Diwali -For Hindus all living things are sacred -Rivers are able to absorb sins of worshippers and still remain unaffected God Comes Down: Avatars -Two of the most popular deities are Krishna and Roma; each is an avatar or decent of God to earth to aid the world Vishnu- Primary function is the preservation of the order in the world and is believed to have 10 forms -Vishnu’s final avatar is said to arrive in the future to usher an era of peace (Kalki) Bhagavad Gita- Hinduism’s best known sacred text (The Song of The Lord) -Krishna says that God chooses to descend into the world as an avatar to resinate peace and harmony Atman Atman- Underlying soul or self, whose nature is neither limited by the physical body nor defined by its relationship to the world -Atman moves from body to body through incarnations -Monistic Hinduism teaches that Atman is Brahman Karma -Atman is determined by Karma Karma- Means the consequences of action as well as action -The Karmic forces we set in motion in our present lives will determine the nature of our future incarnations Dharma Dharma- Law, duty, righteousness, or even religion or living in a way that upholds cosmic and social order Laws of Manu- A text that describes detailed prescriptions for correct behavior in all aspects of life Samsara Samsara- The continuing cycle of birth, death, and rebirth -Atman continues to move to other bodies until the true nature of Atman is recognized -The most desirable rebirth is having the opportunity for realizing liberation from Samsara Maya- The powers the Gods used to create this world Moksha -Freedom from Samsara is achieved through Moksha, release or liberation Moksha- The Union of atman and Brahman Moksha (Dualistic)- External existence of the atman in the company of God -Moksha marks the end of Karma and Samsara and is impossible to describe Three Paths to Liberation Margas- Three paths to liberation Karma Marga- Those engaged in the activities of family and career, emphasizes ritual and ethical works Bhakti Marga- Those who worship in temples and homes regularly is devotion to a deity Jnana Marga- Those privileged to devote time and energy to study and contemplate, focuses on spiritual insight -Margas eradicates the ignorance and attachment born of an egoistic selfhood -Bhakti Marga is the most widely practiced of the three paths to liberation -Yoga school teaches specific, physical, and mental exercises to promote Jnana Vedanta: The Predominant School of Hindu Philosophy Vedanta- “The end of Vedas”, the most influential of philosophical schools and a primary example of Jnana Marga -The three most important schools of the Vedanta are the Advaita, Vishishta- Advaita, and Dvaita Advaita Vedanta -Teaches that Atman is identical to Brahman and denies any distinction between Brahman and anything else -Hinduism’s monistic school of philosophy -Shankara describes maya as the lack of discernment, or ignorance from an attachment or desire Vishishta- Advaita -For Vaishanvas, Brahman is identified with Vishnu -Teaches the world that it isn’t an illusion but the body of God Dvaita Vedanta -Dvaita (dualist) Vedanta advocates a complete distinction between Brahman and Atman -There are 5 acknowledged aspects of complete separateness: between Brahman and matter, between various souls, souls and matter, Atman and Brahman, and various forms of matter The Caste System Varnashrama dharma- Religious law regulating caste (varna) and stage life (ashrama) Varna- Heirarchical social organization that is determined by birth and propagated through marriage -There are 4 main classes: Brahmin- Priestly class Kshatriya- Warrior and administrator class Vaishya- Producer class Shudra- Servant class -Varna is found in the Rig Veda -Brahmins and Kshatriyas existed in mutually dependent relationships -The “untouchable” class was later added and they refer to themselves as “dalit” or oppressed -There are thousands of subcastes called Jatis or “birth groups” The Four Stages of Life (men) -Four Ashramas: The student, householder, forest-dwelling hermit, and renouncer -Fulfilling the duties is said to repay three debts of life: To the ancient seers, Gods, and ancestors Sannyasi- Renouncer, most effective life situation to achieve moksha Renouncing- No longer clinging to objects The Four Aims of Life -Hinduism’s primary spiritual purposes and goals -Four Aims of Life: Dharma- Duty or righteousness Kama- Sensual enjoyment Artha- Material wealth and social prestige Moksha- Liberation -Kama and Artha apply to the second stage of life, householder -Hinduism takes importance to savor and share life’s bounty -Moksha is the aim of the last two stages of life: Forest-dwelling hermit and renouncer The Vedas -Vedas in a broader sense refers to all vedic literature and were though to be composed by the Rishes, or divine inspired poet sages -Vedic literature belongs to Shruti texts (that which is heard) Smriti- Tradition -The narrow sense of Vedas refer to four collections of texts: Rig Veda- Collection of Hymns to the Gods Sama Veda- Hymns from the Rig Veda Yajur Veda- Ritual formuals Atharva Veda- Hymns, Spells, and incantation The Upanishads (900-200 B.C.E.) Upanishads- Also known as Vedanta which means sitting down near a teacher Vedanta- End of the Vedas -For some Hindus, the Upanishads describe concepts of Karma, Samsara, reincarnation of the soul, and the soul’s immortality Ramayana -Belief and practice are informed by storytelling and sacred texts -Both the Ramayana and Mahabharta are the most important sources of Hindu notions or duty Mahabharata -The longest epic poem in the world and is deeply concerned with dharma -Introduces Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu The Bhagavad Gita -“The Song of The Lord” -Seeks to reconcile tension between renunciation and worldly life, also presents new ideas to pursue moksha including three margas or paths to liberation -Reveals one doesn’t need to give up action to receive moksha, rather one cultivates desireless action -The Gita suggests that Bhakti is available to anyone -Bhakti offers an alternate course to moksha -Bhakti advocates a deep, abiding love for God and encourages the devotee to nurture an intimate and personal relationship with the divine -The devotee is free to choose a deity who is the supreme entity and toward whom devotion is directed Puranas -Existed in the oral form before being committed to writing -They contain useful historical data and reflect the rise of dualistic or devotional Hinduism -There are 18 puranas , two of the most important Bhagavad Purana and Markandeya purana The Sects of Hinduism Vaishnavas- Devotees of Vishnu Shaivas- Devotees of Shiva Shaktas- Devotees of the Goddess devi Vaishnavism Vaishnavas- Worship Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi -For Vaishnavas, Vishnu is the source of all existence -Brahma, Vishnu, and shiva make up the trimurti who create, preserve, and dissolve the universe -Vishnu is believed to perform all three roles -Most Vaishnavas have special devotion for Vishnu’s avatars: Rama and Krishna Shaivism -Shiva is the destroyer and benefactor and also the God of spiritual insight and of yogis and ascetics -Destroys universe before new cycle of creation -Shaivas worship Shiva as a God with no beginning or end Parvati- Represents creative energy of the universe Shaktism -Supreme cause and end of the universe (devi) -Referred to as Devi, Mahadevi, or Shakti -Believes supreme cause of the universe is feminine -Believes she creates, destroys, and preserves the universe and that she is eternal -Shiva is married to Devi which is why Shaktism and Shaivism are similar Gurus, Saints, and Sages -The fully enlightened are regarded as being one with God and therefore are the most immediate means of accessing God directly to quicken ones journey to moksha -Certain important Gurus and Saints make interpretation of sacred texts and belief more systematic and consistent among sects The History of Hinduism -The history of Hinduism can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization (2600-1700 B.C.E.) and to the Indo-Aryan peoples who composed the Vedas (1200-900 B.C.E) The Indus Valley Civilization -Scholars believe that the Indus Valley seals have early elements of Hinduism such as the Proto-Shiva seal because of its central image may be a form of Shiva -There are also many terracotta figures of women which may be a widespread worship of female deities in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization -The Indus Valley Civilization then collapsed in 1300 B.C.E. Who Are the Aryans? -The Indo-Aryans or Aryans, were ancient speakers of Sanskrit who referred to themselves as Arya- that is those who are “noble”, “cultivated”, and “civilized” -For the Aryans, sacrifice was a means of maintaining order in the universe and had a three part structure: Brahmins- Priests who conducted sacrificial rituals occupied the the top of the social order Kshatriyas- Warriors and rulers were equally as important Vaishyas- Traders and Farmers who occupied the lowest order -The Aryans left a body of texts which is the earliest example of the Vedas The Vedic Period -Ritual was of ultimate importance in Vedic times as rites of sacrifice were performed to sustain cosmic order and please the Gods -Indians of the Vedic period inherited a religion with no fixed buildings or icons with sacred knowledge maintained by priests Agni- God of fire -Agni was the mouth of the gods and the gateway to celestial realms Indra- God of thunder and lightening -Indra is the most powerful of Gods and most hymns in the Vedas are addressed to Indra -The hymns in the later Vedic period placed an emphasis on philosophy and introspection rather than sacrifice and cosmology -Late Vedic hymns mark a transition to the Upanishads -During the time of the Upanishads (900-200 B.C.E.) contemplative and philosophical reflection became more widespread and many philosophers moved from urban areas to the forest to lead simpler lives The Age of the Guptas -The Gupta Empire was characterized as a time of creativity and as the “Golden Age of India” and it was during this time that the epics took on their definitive form and the first of the Puranas were complied -Worship in temples arose and the spread of Bhakti and the spread of devotional sects quickened -Devotional Hinduism rose during this period and the two great Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata had been completed The Development of Bhakti -Bhakti changed the course of Hinduism, giving at a new dimension of poetry, art, archietecture, and temple building -Bhakti became a weapon against caste and gender prejudice and rejected ritual temple-based worship, insisting that the body itself is the temple and that God is in every individual Caste and Bhakti -Bhakti poets asserted that that caste and other circumstances of one’s birth didn’t determine one’s access to God but rather it was the quality of one’s surrender to God that mattered -The Bhagavad Gita asserted the importance of one’s duty to caste however Tantra -Tantra offered the possibility of sudden livberation and Samsara making use of spiritual practices -Practitioners believe the material world is a manifestation of the divine energy associated with pure consciousness and their spiritual practices are said to manipulate or channel the energy in order to gain liberation -For them, moksha could be found in the midst of everyday experience -Tantra remained hidden during its later development because of reports of mental breakdowns and others exercising seductive magical powers Early Hindu Encounters with Islam and Rule Under the Mughal Dynasty -The raids of Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11 century motivated by India’s immense wealth an religious zeal were the first encounters between Islam and Hinduism -During the Mughal Empire, the Mughals or Muslim rulers ruled over India Akbar- Muslim who encouraged dialogue with with representatives of different religions under the Mughal Empire -Many Hindus converted to Islam during this period most commonly for improved economic and social standing and sincere beliefs in the teachings of Islam Colonial Critique and the Hindu Reformers -When the British East India Company initially established itself in India, many employees initially adapted to local customs and practices in the 18 th th and 19 centuries -Later, however, colonial intervention began from the British East India Company and many sought to reform Hindusim from within Ram Mohan Roy- Reformist who established the Brahmo Samaj (Community of Brahman Worshippers) as a neo-Hindu religious organization and believed that British Rule offered India opportunities for progress Dayananda Saraswati- Reformist who campaigned for a return to what he considered the pure and original Vedic Religion and founded the Arya Samaj which condemned child marriage and promoting the equality of women Ramakrishna- A devotee and temple priest of the goddess Krishna who taught that all religions are directed towards the experience of God who creates religions to suit the spiritual needs of all people Swami Vivekananda- Asserted that all religions are true Gandhi and the Struggle for Indian Independence Mohandas Gandhi- Religious, political and social reformer who fought for Indian Independence from British Colonial Rule Satyagraha- Developed the philosophy of nonviolent resistance Ashram- Place of religious seclusion -Gandhi believed that truth could be sought only through selfless service and humility -Gandhi sought to improve the status of women and worked to abolish the caste or class system -Gandhi was referred to as Mahatma or Great Soul because of his influence Hindu Nationalism and Hindutva V.D. Savarkar- Insisted om the distinctiveness of Hinduism or hindutva Hindutva- A force to unite Hindus in repelling all dangerous foreign influences Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh RSS- A training ground for the self- empowerment of Hindu youth who were committed to defending a Hindu nation from the perceived threat of the Muslim world The Future of Hinduism -Hinduism has always displayed a unique ability in the face of changing conditions to sustain ancient traditions within new and ever changing contexts Hinduism as a Way of Life -Hindus often insist that Hinduism is more a “way of life” than a system of beliefs but Hinduism places greater emphasis on what one does rather than on what one believes Seeing the Divine Image: Temples and Icons -Hinduism encourages a sensory religious experience Darshan- The intimate act of both seeing the deity and being looked upon by the divine -Devotees believe that to see an image of a devotee is to see the deity itself -The temple is a central religious and cultural institution in Hinduism -Temples house two icons: The main image and the processional image -16 different offerings are given to these icons with the 8 being the most important Forms of Worship Puja- Commonly used to describe worship in Hinduism and involves making some offering to a deity -Popular forms of Hindu worship are arati, mantras, and sacrfices Arati- Involves an offering of light which is waved in front of a deity to remove evil influences Mantra- Ritual formulas used to produce a spiritual effect such as to heighten awareness of God, to enhance the efficacy of an offering, or to aid the practice of meditation Sacrifice- Offerings are often thrown into a fire while chanting mantras which is a crucial component of life cycle and temple rituals Yoga Yoga- Uniting of the self with God and refers to many systems of physical and mental exercise that have developed within the Hindu tradition -Raja yoga makes liberation from samsara possible Yoga Sutras- Consists of 196 instructional sayings about the moral, physical, and mental conditions and techniques that allow a Hindu to achieve moksha Rites of Passage Rites of Passage- Intended to invoke blessings, divine favor, and socialize individuals during important times of transition Upanayana- A sacred thread ceremony for Brahmin boys giving them the permission to perform certain religious functions Menstrual Period- Marks the transition form childhood to adulthood that announces the availability for marriage Marriage- Through marriage one enters the householder ashrama that provides the main support for society as a whole Death- The last sacrifice which usually involves cremation which takes place the same day as death Pilgrimage -Sacred sites allow tangible access to the sacred Varanasi- Important Hindu pilgrimage site where Hindus are believed that the deceased are immediately released from Samsara here -The largest pilgrimage in India is to the sacred city of Prayag, where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers meet Women in Hinduism -Hinduism has tended to marginalize women and is therefore patriarchal -The Laws of Manu is one of few texts that gives women attention and public power Mata Amritanadamayi Devi- Known as Ammachi or “mother” and believed to be the embodiment of Devi, the divine mother Vrata- A vow of temporary self-denial usually undertaken by women which generally involves a short period of fasting, renunciation, or silence -These are generally done on special festival days and have an underlying purpose Festivals and Holidays -sages, historical events, and sacred sites of regional interest Navaratri or Dashera- Celebrating the end of the monsoon season in India Diwali- The five day festival of lights celebrated in October and commemorates Rama’s rescue of Sita and their heroic return to Ayodhya -The third day of Diwali, marks the end of the harvest season Holi- Celebrates the vernal equinox and is Hinduism’s most colorful holiday where fire sacrifice is offered over a period of two days Performance Traditions Ram Lila- One of Hinduism’s most popular performance traditions that coincides with the festival of Dashera in which costume dramas based on the Ramayana are performed Bhajan- Refers specifically to devotional songs in Hinduism and Sikhism and helps the gathered community to help the divine Kirtan- Neither formal in form nor structure as opposed to the Bhajan and is a key spiritual practice for Hindu devotees Storytelling- An important way in which Hindus learn the content o their religion


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