Religion 131, Week 3-4
Religion 131, Week 3-4 REL 131
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brittany Wright on Tuesday September 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to REL 131 at University of Southern Mississippi taught by Amy Slagle in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views.
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Date Created: 09/20/16
Basics Hinduism is a very elastic religion. Everything that isn’t Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or any other major religion, falls under the Hinduism category. This is why Hinduism is sometimes considered a made up religion. Sanskrit is the written language Hindu texts are written in. It is considered the language of the cosmos. One doesn’t exactly have to know what the words mean, because the words/language themselves are sacred. The word Hindu is Sanskrit for “Land Beyond the Indus River,” meaning it is not originally religious. A great deal of the Hindu beliefs and practices come from the Vedas. The Vedas mean “sacred knowledge,” and is an ancient library full of magical texts and hymns. This library is believed to hold the cosmic sounds of the universe; it is a Hierophany. The books held in the Vedas are called the Upanishads. Upanishads means “nearsitting,” because the students who sat nearest to the Gurus, spiritual teachers, learned the most. They are the last books of the Vedic library and chart out the nature of reality and what to do about it. They are thought to originally be the teachings of Gurus. Geographically Hinduism is mostly in India but is practiced all over the world. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, meaning that Hindus worship many gods. There is some debate, though, on whether or not it is truly polytheistic due to how Brahman is the supreme god and he is in everything and everything is made of him (more on this later). o Hindus do worship many gods. Although, they do not worship all the gods, there are too many for that to be possible. Hindus are free to worship or even just give an offering to any god they wish to. All of the gods will take milk, incents, flowers, perfumes, and the like as offerings. According to Hinduism, the universe is made of sound. The Om is the harmonious vibration of the universe. Many Hindus practice yoga, meditation, and vegetarianism. (more on these in yoga section) SamsaraReincarnation Reincarnation is the rebirth of a soul into something new in the next life. Hindus use the word samsara when talking about reincarnation. Samsara means “to wander”. It is the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Everything is a part of samsara, even the universe. This is seen as an ultimately negative process. Hindus see it as being trapped in an infinite cycle. Everything has a soul: humans, animals, insects, even the gods have a soul. This soul is called the Atman. It is in every living being therefore anyone can be reincarnated as anything with a soul. o Even though the gods have souls and are a part of the cycle of samsara, they are still seen to have greater power than that of a human. Which is why they are depicted with many arms, blue or other colored skin, and weapons. What one is reborn as depends on their karma and dharma. o Karma is the actions that propel the soul into the next life. It is what determines what you will be reborn as. Good karma is good actions Bad karma is bad actions Throughout one’s life it is hard to tell, generally, whether one has more good or bad karma. It is like throwing rocks into a pond, eventually you can’t tell which rock created which ripples. o Dharma means “Law” or “Duty”. It is the deeds a being needs to preform pertaining to what they have been born as. The caste system has a lot to do with one’s karma and what one is reincarnated as. What caste one is born is depends on what they did in their past life. What ever cast one is born in is the caste they will be in for the rest of their current life. Now for the complicated stuff that a lot of you are just over thinking. Just accept it as it is and stop trying to understand it. o Everything we know isn’t real. We are all stuck in a delusion where we think that everyone and everything is different. Everyone and every living thing are really all the same. o Samsara is an illusion. This is called Maya, which is an illusion or ignorance. o Samsara is the Brahman. The Brahman is the ultimate reality of the universe. The Brahman is the only thing that is real. o The atman, soul, is also the Brahman. Therefore, you, me, and everyone and everything that is living is the Brahman. o All beings are the Brahman in disguise. This is called lila, which is cosmic play. The Brahman has essentially spun out and taken on many guises in order to play hide and seek with itself. o The only way to escape samsara is moksha. Moksha is when one realizes that not only are they themselves the Brahman but so is everyone and every other living thing in the world. It is the liberation or release of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Random things that I can’t leave out or wait to put in the yoga section: Gurus, Babas, Swamis, and Rishis are spiritual teachers Sadhus are wandering holy people Ascetics are people who give up worldly, materialistic things to try and transcend the profane. Ahimsa is the belief that all things are interconnected Soma is a hallucinogenic drink alluded to in the Upanishads but we don’t really know what is in it The Naga Babas (naked daddies) are holy men who have given up worldly things. They cover themselves in ash, sometimes the ash from crematoriums, to separate themselves from regular society. Religions of India o Hinduism o Buddhism o Christianity o Judaism o Islam o Sikhism o Jainism really big on nonviolence to all creatures; indigenous religion; often vegan Christians from Britain had control over India at one point. They tried to convert Hindus to Christianity, but it didn’t really work. Hindus more or less absorbed some of the Christian beliefs in what they already do. This is when Hindus decided Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu. Side note: I know we talked a lot about some aspects of yoga and the gods and goddesses in class already but she said that both of those will have their own sections, which is why they are not included in this set of notes. Don’t worry I will post notes on both of those sections when we talk more indepth about them in class.
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