Chapter 4: Hinduism
Age of the Guptas (320 – 540 CE)
∙ “Golden Age”
o Bhakti – devotion to gods; grew out of efforts to sponsor religion ∙ Tantra – a movement that orginated in this time period
Tantric Movements (500 CE onward)
∙ Techniques for quick liberation – getting out of the cycle of rebirth faster (which usually takes many lifetimes)
o Through rituals you can “transgress” to get to the spiritual reality ∙ Transgression – rituals to transgress boundaries; often caste boundaries to access the sacred energy beyond this world; to become one with the deities or gaining spiritual insight
o Initiation – probably by a guru; guru would give you the information, tasks, or tools for transgression
o Mantras – sayings, noises e.g. ohm
o Mandalas – pictures that focused the mind
o Taboo substances – eating beef, or impure substances
o Sexual union
∙ Images and beef
∙ Mughal Empire (1500 – 1800) – Islamic empire that overlapped the “territory” of the Hindus; caused many issues because of the many differences between the religions
∙ 1947 partition of India – Indian independence from Britain; became Pakistan and India (Pakistan later becomes Pakistan and Bangladesh)
British Raj (1858 – 1947)
∙ Critiques of Hinduism – found it barbaric, too disorganized, not monotheistic, etc.
∙ 19th century Hindu reformers – response to the British critiques; many gained European educations to elevate the importance of many Hindu aspects in order to get it to make sense to the Europeans If you want to learn more check out How did the gupta empire make money?
o Swami Vivekananda – a reformer who was English-educated who was sent to the U.S. to represent Hinduism; defended Hinduism at a convention so well that he became a bit of a celebrity within Hinduism
Mohandas Ghandi (1869 -1948)
∙ A reformer who “fought” for Indian independence and the social structure of Hinduism
o Known for non-violent protesting
∙ An English educated lawyer at first
Goals of Practice
∙ Union of Atman and Brahman (ultimate reality) (mostly monistic view) ∙ Liberation from effects of karma – consequences of karma are often the reason you cannot be released from the cycle of samsara
o Moksha – liberation
o Better rebirth – so that you may focus more on your spiritual life
∙ Mandir (temple) - public; institutional realm of worship ∙ Home altars – a private place of worship
∙ Bhakti – devotion to the gods; offerings to the gods. One of the paths ∙ Puja – worship ceremony either at home or in a temple; ritual involved in giving offerings Don't forget about the age old question of How to describe the vector position on curve?
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∙ Arati – the waving of lights or candles in front of the gods ∙ Darshan – sight, vision, or view; viewing the deity and being seen by the deity Don't forget about the age old question of How do you know if a distribution is symmetric or skewed?
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∙ Yoga (to yoke) – techniques to quiet the body for mental concentration; concentration to gain spiritual insight; gaining insight by eliminating distractions through breathing and body positions o Body positions (asanas)
o Breath control – connects you to the spirits
o Mantras – sacred sounds