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This 14 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taylor Comstock on Wednesday August 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to at James Madison University taught by in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views.
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Date Created: 08/17/16
Hinduism many sectsvariety of belief systems majority of history: transregional religion largest pop. %: Nepal (89%) recently: population increases in America, Canada and Europe 3 largest religion in world history: continuity and dynamic change no sole central authority: fluid characteradaptable Teachings of Hinduism after Alexander the Great invaded India: Hindu (or Indu) became territorial, racial, social, cultural designation for Indian people 16 cent CE: “Hindu” appeared in literature distinguish from Muslims/foreigners about 1830: use of Hinduism to identity single/cohesive religious tradition th end of 19 cent: Hinduism used by Hindus to describe their faith Vedas: Sanskrit, “sacred books”group of texts Brahmin: priestsofficiate ceremonies of worship/rites of passage Distinguishing feature: plurality Some patterns of similarity/cohesion o Karma: lawall actions produce effects o Samsara: reincarnation individual bound in endless cycle of death and rebirth by fruition of karmic reactions o Moksha: enlightenment complete liberation from bonds of karma and samsara Hindu Beliefs About God Widely varied God Is One and Many o Various powers of divine manifested as many deities o Brahman: “Divine Self” ultimate reality that pervades all existencethe true nature of all the exists commonly called God; description through what it is not Monoism: belief all reality is ultimately 1 Worship many deities but also affirm singularity of the divine Deities: manifestation of some aspect, facet or expression of God o Worship of many deities: form of polytheism But: various Gods unlimitedeach regarded as embodiment of ultimate reality Form of henotheism Plurality of gods but elevates one of them to special status God and the Soul o Brahman: most common name for God since Upanishads (900600 BCE) Derived from brh: “to grow” Characterized by 3 qualities: Sat: being existence Cit: consciousness Ananda: bliss o Atman: eternal, undying soul or self Pure consciousness Moves from body to body through reincarnation until it recognizes its true nature Liberation achieved when one recognizes absolute unity of atman with Brahman God as Sound (Om) o Omprimordial sound Encapsulate entire universe o Some identify it with 4 states of consciousness A: waking consciousness U: dreaming consciousness M: deep sleep AUM together: final state of consciousness one with Brahman o A, U, M identified with gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva Expressing function: creating, preserving, dissolving the universe o Begins every ritual God as Image o Imagistic religious tradition o God manifested through images accessible to people o Ultimately: God without attribute/form o Image: symbolic representation but also representation of divine presence An image of God is God o All things expression of divine Image that receives worship: particularly strong vessel of divine presence o Natural or manmade o Essence/presence in image is worshippednot image itself God in Nature o Most immediate/obvious expression of the divine o Worship to things in nature Many sacred sites: conjunction with worship of river, mountains, etc. o Rivers: particularly worshipped Divine, creative, female energy generates the universe Powerful places of crossing Confluence of divine/terrestrial worlds Bathe in them Ganges (India) most important Wash away transgressions/sins o Doesn’t necessarily equal ecological awareness/activism River supposed to be divine: should be able to absorb transgressions/sins and be unaffected River remains pure to many even if polluted Do Hindus Really Worship Cows? o Cows: special place in society Children weaned from breastfeeding then given cow’s milk Revered as 2 mother Formal rites of worship rare o British colonial rule: exaggerated prominence of cow worship Assert preeminence of Christianity o To JudeoChristians: cow worship definitive symbol of degenerate idolatry o To Hindus: expression of respect for creatures that help humanity God Comes Down: Avatara o Avatara: manifestation of God on earth in a physical form with the specific goal of aiding the world Ava: down Tr: to cross To cross downwards: descent of deity into material form to intervene in world Fully embody divinity Translated as incarnationdivine manifestation Most often describes divine interventions of Vishnu (10 forms, 9 have appeared) th th Most popular: Rama (7 ) and Krishna (8 ) Kalki: Vishnu’s final avatara arrive at end of this age wrathful intervention with sword and white horse to usher in age of peace o Manifestations (avataras) not inferior to supreme being Hindu Philosophical and Social Concepts Karma o In philosophy: refers to Law of Causation (cause and effect) o Refers to action or cause not the result of that action o Encompasses all action: physical, mental, emotional, psychological and ritual o Phala: result of any action (“fruit”) o Dharma: prescribed religious and ritual laws and obligations Following dharma: accrues merit o Samsara: both earthly real world and endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth Bound to it because of karma and its results o Earning merit: favorable rebirths Increased possibility of freedom from samsara o Law of causation very subtle: can be immediate or last a lifetime, or spread through many lifetimes o Grace/mercy of God: able to disrupt karma, transform one’s destiny, and halt cycle Moksha o Ultimate goal o Achieved when consciousness radically transformed relinquishing identity with limited/temporal self seeing Brahman as true agent of all activity Perceives ultimate reality o Number of ways: some way of mitigating/neutralizing effects of karma Renounce worldlimiting actions, curtailing the results Surrender to God Meditation and ritual action Renunciation o Cultivating detachment o Attachment to material objects/fruits of actions: binding to samsara o Sacrifice that earns spiritual power o Not indulging desires self=sacrificial fire ego is destroyed in purifying heat of austerity replaces it o Equal importance of renunciation and worldly life Dharma o Dharma: religious prescriptions/ordinances, sacred duty, law, moral virtue, social/caste obligation Dhr: to uphold Hard to define: multiple layers of meaning o Links spiritual with material dimension Harmonizing one’s inner life with life in external world o Order that upholds universe o Sadharana dharma: dharma that informs role of ethical action/engagement in universal sense o Svadharma: individual’s duties (by class, gender, social position) Varnashrama Dharma o Honoring one’s duty in terms of caste/station (varna) and stage in life (ashrama) o Connects individual’s duties to obligations of society as a whole o Four Stages of Life (ashrama) Celibate student Householder Forestdwelling hermit Wandering renouncer (sannyasi) o Fulfilling duties of stages repays the Three Debts of Life To the ancient steers (studying revealed textsVedas as a student) To the gods (making offerings as a householder) To the ancestors (having a son as a householder, who will continue to perform ancestral rites) o Duty of householder: support those in other 3 stages of life o Last 2 stages: reaching moksha o Define ideal life stages for men Women: primarily vaguely defined supporting roles through last 3 stages (assist in repaying debts) The Varna and Jati Systems o Varna: Ordering society itself System of social hierarchy Determined by birth Organized along continuum or purity and pollution State of purity or pollution: determined by relative contact with substances considered polluting (hair, blood, leather, excrement) Untouchables: shudras 20% of Indian population Dalit: new label for class “oppressed” o Jati: subset of varna Rationale of hierarchical system: measure of ritual purity Ranking of jati groups: depends in part on level of pollution involved in their work Dictates marriage and food/water sharing Vary from region to region Constantly changing Rose as new subgroupings occurred Made social hierarchy more fluid Some castes shift in relative rank over time in specific regions o Modern context: many structures of caste have broken down th 19 cent. Reformers: spread more utilitarian view intercaste marriage: essential for social equality and development urban areas: modernclass based system replacing castes The 4 Aims of Life o System of four purusharthas: aims of life Orients individual to purposes/goals of life Four purposes of human existence: dharma, kama, artha and moksha o Dharma: more complex and personalterms/practices defined by individual o Kama and artha: goals of the householder Kama: desire Relish human experience/celebrate sensual aspects of life Artha: wealth/abundance Provide security for loved ones Savor/share life’s bounty o Moksha: liberationultimate goal o Reconciling tension between renouncer and worldly person o Proper time for everything within life of Hindu Texts in Hinduism Different sects=different sets of texts Texts closely tied to beliefs Range of languages/dialects Oral and written Contemporary: music and dance The Vedas and Upanishads o Vedas: earliest textsSanskrit (1500600 BCE) Revealed “heard” by sages of ancient times, not created by man Set of 4 texts of hymns and ancillary speculative treatises Upanishads Ramayana o 200 BCE 200 CE o one of most important sources of notions of social/filial duty o “The Journey of Rama” o 7 books o political intrigue, romance and philosophical speculation o exemplary social role models o story of loss and separation Rama: tragic hero, despair of losing love of his life that he had fought hard to rescue o Question of dharma: political and private/familial realm o Difficult situations: characters reflect on individual duties/obligations o Rama: avatara of Vishnu characters are divine o Religious/ethical knowledge and reiterates beliefs about accessibility/immanence of God Mahabharata o Longest work of epic poetry in world100,000+ verses o Deeply concerned with issues of dharma o Dynastic conflict o Bhagavad Gita: Song of God Seen as most significant philosophical work in Hinduism by many Studied/recited independently of the larger epic The Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God o 1 cent. CE o seeks to reconcile tensions between renunciation and worldly life o radical new ideas about pursuit of moksha give up fruit of action rather than the action to achieve moksha o 3 yogas/disciplines to achieve desireless action: path of action path of knowledge path of devotion (bhakti) surrender fruits of action to god Krishna as sacrifice o Bhakti comes to dominate practice/belief Available to everyone regardless of caste or gender Possible to achieve moksha by being active in world Advocates total surrender/selfless devotion to God o Bhakti: from bhajto serve, honor, love, adore, to share with, partake of, and to enjoy (also carnally) o Advocates deep abiding love for God Encourages intimate/personal relationship with divine o Belief and practice: Easiest/most effective way out of samsara Cultivated through singing, dancing, storytelling and temple worship The Sects of Hinduism 3 primary sects since Gupta empire (320550 CE) Vaishnavas devotees of Vishnu and his avataras Shaives devotees of Shiva Shaktas devotees of the Great Goddess Devi o Variety of subsects beneath each sect Vaishnavism o Vishnu and Laskshmi o Vishnu: beginning and end of the world its cause and meaning o Worshipped in many different forms o Images: world is born from Vishnuits sole originator/sustainer Shaivism o Shivamore abstract Reconciles tension between renunciation and involvement in the world Embodies ideal of ascetic renunciation and worldly, fullbodied sensuality o Consort Parvati: represents latent creative potential of universe o Symbol: linga abstract phallic symbol; denote latent potentiality of his consciousness that’s the axis of all existence o Most worship Shiva as god with no beginning or end also family man Shaktism o Great Goddess: supreme cause and end of universe o Devi, Mahadevi, or Shakti o Devi Mahatmya (The Greatness of Devi) text 5 cent. CE Supreme cause of universe is feminine Most significant text o 3 main myths o creates, preserves, destroys universe in harmony with rhythms of cosmic time o eternal manifests herself over and over to protect universe like a mother would her child o Shaivas and Shaktas: often common mythological universe (Shiva and Devi married) 2 sects: differ by emphasis on importance of 2 primal gendered forces o Shiva without Shakti is shava (a corpse) Hinduism as a Way of Life Hindus: Hinduism more way of life than system of beliefs o Correct action > correct belief o Disconnect between text and actual practice Seeing the Divine Image: Temples and Icons Nurtures sensory religious experience Darshan: to see o Hindu context: interlocking gaze shared by deity and devotee Glimpse of image in temple=glimpse of divine body o Gaze of deity: confers grace on everyone in its presence o Potentially most meaningful experience Temple: central religious/cultural institution o 2 kinds of icons main image center of temple, permanently fixed never moved processional images cast from metals smaller and mobile o sacred once used in worship temples: stylized representation of mythical Mount Meru –center of world o many also designed to represent Cosmic Man divine body divided to make components of the universe temple rituals: arati waving of lamps before the image o ideal moment of darshan icon: fully divine presence o vessels to embody the divine o sources of complex symbolism for worshipper to contemplate o can directly convey doctrine Forms of Worship puja: worship o offering to deity o simple or elaborate o can be offered almost anywhere rituals: expression of love for deity, rite of passage, celebrate holiday/festival, ask for blessings, create atmosphere of peace and harmony, propitiate gods in times of trouble ritual occasions: ideal to maintain/strengthen community ties ritual/practice more continuity than theology or doctrine Arati o Worship with light o Most common form o Waving of lamp to remove evil influences/return object or recipient of the offering to an auspicious state regardless of negative thoughts or desires that may have been projected on it Mantra o Ritual formulas to produce spiritual effect o Variety of uses o Usually in Sanskritbut not always o Sometimes encapsulate entire worldview o Not all meanings literal Sacrifice o Fire sacrifice: essential component Building altar, kindling a fire, feeding it, casting in various offerings while doing mantras Usually by Brahmin priest Can be done by any married uppercaste man Crucial to all important lifecycle/temple rituals o Earliest period: sacrifices of animals Decreased among upper caste Remains important ritual for many Consecrates meat but doesn’t mitigate karmic repercussion of the act of killing Yoga Traditions and Asceticism Yogaintegral part of early Hinduism by time of Upanishads (900600 BCE) Purifying mind/body and expanding consciousness to reach point where one can fully apprehend ultimate reality Yoga= union o Way to transcend individual consciousness and unite with the absolute Yoga practice: central to development of Hinduism Sadhana: spiritual discipline or practice o not just based on meditation/austerities also could take form of contemplative inquiry (the yoga of knowledge), expression of love for God (yoga of devotion), working to further spiritual/physical wellbeing of others (yoga of action) o each effective means to enlightenment vratas: temporary vows of selfdenial o usually done by womenusually involve fasting o could also be vow of silence of renunciation o to ensure health/wellbeing of husband/family o many are specialobserved at specific times of year Rites of Passage Samskaras: rites of passage, “put together” or “constructed” o Invoke blessings/divine favor o Put individual in harmony with universe during important times of transition o Help socialize individualsassisting shift into new roles Most common o Blessing a pregnancy o Naming a child o Weaning a child o A child’s 1 hair cut o A child’s earpiercing o A boy’s initiation o A girl’s 1 period o Marriage For many, considered most important o Death The final samskara: “the last sacrifice” Cremation Pilgrimage Tirthas: pilgrimage sites, “fords” or “crossing points” o Worship, ritual offerings, performance of austerities o May obtain darshan Immediate/tangible access to the sacred One of most important: Varanasi, on Ganges o To die there=immediate release from samsara o Those who cant make it there to dieashes scattered in river Carry dead to divine realm Largest in India: to Prayag (Allahabad) o Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati (mythic river) come together Bathe there Festivals and Holidays Use solar and lunar calendars, and calendars based on 27 constellations o All consulted to determine when festivals/holidays are observed o Many festivals link mythic events to agricultural cycle Temples celebrate annual festivals o Way to increase revenue Regional holidays/observances Navaratri or Dashera o 9 nights or, 10 days o holiday cycle: celebrates end of monsoon season in India other meanings to specific regions o altars with images of Goddess o worship and street processions Diwali o 5 day Festival of Lights o October o Different regions: different myths for celebration o Oil lamps in windows/doorsplaced as offerings in rivers/reservoirs Signify triumph of good over evil o Nigrd of new moon: fireworks o 3 day: end of harvest season o new clothes worngifts exchanged Holi o Spring festivalcolorful o February or March o Social/gender hierarchies invert o Spray colored water, throw bright powdered pigments Performance Traditions Ram Lila: The Play of Rama o One of most wellknown and popular o Festivals with costumedramas based on Ramayana o Rama, Laskhmana, Sitaperformed by 3 uppercaste boys Worshipped as embodiments of divinity Sacred Songs: Kirtan and Bhajan o Bhajan: worship or adoration Devotional songs Helps gathered community contemplate nature/character of the divine Repetition of key phrases and linescall and response format o Kirtan: Not formal in stucture or constrained by setting Lively singalong processionals in street Instruments not necessary Alternate singing or hymns Key spiritual practicecontinued modern popularity Storytelling o Primary way majority encounter their religion o Professional storytellerstravel particular routs and visit local festivals Sing epics and myths in series’ of all night performances o Modern mediums: movies, TV, comic books o Numerous versions of sacred narratives The History of Hinduism Traced to Indus Valley civilization (26001700 BCE) and IndoAryan people (1500900 BCE) Indus Valley Along Indus river Developmental peak between 2300 and 2000 BCE Veneration of goddessessource of widespread worship in Hinduism? 18001700 BCE: sudden decline in civilization fragmented by 1500 BCE o related to climate change/severe annual flooding o adapted by abandoning larger settlements o absorbed into more militarily advanced societies of nomadic groups Who Are the Aryans? o Sanksrit; closest to language spoken by earliest IndoEuropeans Started “Indomania” o “Arya” (Aryan): “noble, cultivated, and civilized used by scholars in 1830s to designate family of IndoEuropean languages and speakers initially linguistic not racial o Aryans Nomadic group Moved in India around 1500 BCE Valued cattle herding and war Led to expansion Revered horse Special emphasis on sacrifice maintain order of universe Society: organized in 3 part structure Brahmins: ritual specialists/priests Kshatriyas: warrior class Vaishyas: traders and farmers o Early Sanskrit texts: the Vedas 1500900 BCE The Vedic Period o Veda: “knowledge” 4 compendiums of sacred hymns directly perceived by ancient sages (rishis) oldest/most important: Rig Veda transmitted orallymemorized by priests and sages for many: font of all sacred knowledge/cornerstone of religious authority not accepted or held by all as important today: only small number understand/study not written until about 1000 years after compilation o Vedic Rituals and Gods Ritual: rites of sacrifice Sustain cosmic order/please gods Vedas: hymns used in conjunction with ritual Pouring of offerings into sacrificial fire while reciting Fire: god on earth Agni Mouth of gods gateway to celestial realms Most powerful god in mythology: Indra god of thunder and lightening and fertility Later tradition: seen as comical drunk, haughty, proud, losing throne Vedic gods today: more subordinate roles o Purusha: the Cosmic Man Rig Veda: gods more abstract, pervasive, cosmic Purusha Sukta Sacrifice of primordial, cosmic man universe is created from his body Creation myth Organizes society Cosmic man is every man universe found within every individual Equivalence to Vishnu Rudra One of more important gods later “the Howler” marginal, frightening deity in the Vedas identified with Shiva Ascetic traditions: growing influence supplant sacrifice Shift to keener interest in philosophy/introspection Perceiving nature of existence > servicing cosmic order through sacrifice The Early Upanishads (900600 BCE) o Philosophical texts: seek to explain hidden meaning of ritual o Believed to have been closely guarded secret teachings o “to sit near” o seek to understand meaning of sacrifice o sacrifice becomes internal meditative event: breath=sacrificial fire and body=altar o radical change in thinking o propelled development of contemplative disciplines (yoga and meditation) o influenced philosophical concepts found in Bhagavad Gita o discussed for first time: karma, samsara, transmigration of the soul, soul’s immortality o Vedanta: new philosophical system – “the end of the Vedas” o Often abstract no single interpretation o Understand nature of relationships: Brahman, atman, and world o Influences on Transcendentalist movement in Europe and America The Rise of Theistic Hinduism o Revealed scriptures (shruti“heard”) vs. manmade scriptures (smriti“remembered”) o The Epics and Puranas 4 century BCE to 4 century CE Ramayana and Mahabharata Epics: political problems, dynastic successions, duty/obligations, asserting intervention of the divine in world th Puranas: 4 century CE modern era Similar in formulation to epics Initially transmitted orally Contain useful historical dates Reflect rise of theistic Hinduism Primarily narrations of deeds of great deities o Shiva, Vishnu and Devi Later: exalt specific pilgrimage sites Hindu Expansion in the Age of Guptas o Gupta empire: 320540 CE o Creativity: art, innovation, introspection o Northern India o Relative peace/prosperity “Golden Age of India” o epics took definitive forms puranas compiled o temple institutions arose; radical changes in worship particular worship of Vishnu o new roles of royal patronage o spread of Hinduism and Buddhism throughout Southeast Asia Development of Bhakti th th o S. India 6 9 centuries CE o Ecstatic worship; expressed through poetry, art, architecture, temple building o Bhagavad Gita o Dedication, surrender and devotion to Krishna o Rose as challenge to traditions of Buddhism and Jainism o Effortlessly merged Tamil and Sanskrit cultures Tamil gave its form (poetry) and Sanskrit gave its content (myth)
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