Presentation on theme: "Sacred Stories of Hinduism. The Sruti Texts The Vedas is the Hindu Bible. The essence of Hinduism – the worship of one Supreme Being (Brahman), the source."— Presentation transcript:
The Sruti Texts The Vedas is the Hindu Bible. The essence of Hinduism – the worship of one Supreme Being (Brahman), the source of all life in the universe, and the soul of man (Atman) – is all contained in the Vedas. There are four compositions of the Vedas, written between 1400 and 400 BCE: –The Atharva Veda is a collection dealing with spells, incantation, charms and magical formulae, useful for healing the sick. The verses would be recited by the Brahman (in this context, a custodian, interpreter and teacher of religious knowledge), who also controlled the ritual activity of the other three Vedas. The Atharva Veda was added after 600 BCE. –The Rg-Veda contains hymn composed by the hotars (priests responsible for the fire sacrifices). The Rg-Veda is the main and oldest Vedic text. It is divided into ten books called mandalas and has 1,.028 hymns that praise ancient deities which were nature spirits or gods – the sun, the moon, Mother Earth, fire, water, air, rivers, mountains, animals, plants, and the most gracious creation of all – humankind. The Rg-Veda also describes all of the main Gods and their battles. It is considered as the Royal Veda.
The Sruti Texts –The Sama Veda consists of chants and melodies, and indicates tunes for the singing of the hymns at special sacrifices. The Sama Veda was originally a cult handbook of secondary priests or hymnodists who wrote down the music in this collection. –The Yajur Veda tells the faithful how to conduct sacrifices to the Gods. It was written by the adhvaryu (or master of ceremonies) who was a specialist in performing the Vedic sacrifices.
The Sruti Texts The texts were received by God-inspired scholars. They were both rote-learnt and passed onto the next generation orally. The Vedic texts are traditionally called Sruti, or “hearing”. The Vedic texts represent revealed knowledge. Each Veda has four chronological parts: –The Samhitas are hymns praising God under different names. They constitute the main body of each Veda and are the most ancient part. –The Brahmanas (800 BCE to 500 BCE) are the prose manuals of ritual and prayer for the guidance of priests. They form the second section of the Vedic literature and were composed after the Samhita. There are seven important Brahmana texts which deal with ritual performance. –The Aranyakas (400 BCE to 200 BCE) resulted from discussion in the forests about worship, meditation and ritual. They form the third section of the sruti. There are only four texts surviving which are attached to the first two Vedas. –The Upanisads (400 BCE to 200 BCE) contain compositions of mystical concepts of Hindu philosophy. These texts were tutorials given by gurus to their chosen pupils, who sat near them to receive the mystical teaching. The Upanisads are concerned with philosophical knowledge. They are a collection of parables, dialogues and maxims which try to explain in philosophical terms the Hindu concepts of Atman and its relation to Brahman.
The Smrti Texts These texts were compiled from remembered knowledge from 500 BCE onwards, they include the Puranas and the epics, and also a series of educational texts. The Smrti Texts are accepted by most Hindus, but do not have the same authority as the Sruti texts which are considered to be the Word of God. The Smrti texts are grouped into five categories: 1. Educational Texts. Composed after the Vedas, these are considered essential for its study. Include writings on the performance of rituals, law, astronomy, grammar, phonetics & literature. 2. Philosophical. These texts explain the six orthodox systems of philosophy. 3. The Epics. These include The Bhagavad-gita, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. 4. The Puranas. Texts on Hindu Mythology. 5. Texts on the various Hindu sects, worshipping Visnu, Siva and the Mother Goddess.
The Puranas The Puranas (or Antiquities) and the epics are particularly important. They are the mythologies of higher gods and goddesses of Hinduism. They were written from 400CE to 1000CE. There are 18 principal or main Puranas. They provide further information about the nature of the gods, the creation of humans, the penalties for being sinful, the rewards for virtuous living, and honour to the god Visnu. Mantras for daily worship are taken from the Puranas.
The Epics – The Mahabharata There are two main, national epics of Hinduism. The first is the Mahabharata: –Written from 540 BCE to 300 BCE. –Tells the legends of the Bharatas (a Vedic Aryan group) –Contains the Bhagavad-gita, the ‘song of the adorable one’. It is part of the sixth book of the Mahabharata and is the world’s longest poem (more explained on next slide). –The Mahabharata is the essence of culture and Hindu religion. –It provides guidelines for conduct of family and social institutions, government, moral codes, mysteries of life and death, Hindu philosophy and the ultimate fate of our souls in the afterlife.
The Epics – The Ramayana The second epic is Ramayana: –The Ramayana (Deeds of Rama) is the epic recounting of the activities of Rama, an incarnation of the god Visnu. –It was written in Sanskrit and translated between the ninth and seventeenth centuries CE. This produced the Rama story in Tamil and Hindi, as well as other languages. –The Ramayana is the adventures of Rama and his wife Sita. –Rama wages war against evil forces and Sita is abducted by an evil God, Ravana. –Sita is returned to her husband by a monkey god, Hanuman, and his army. –Rama and Sita ultimately became models for ideal marriage and family. –Rama became a role model for a strong monarch and patriarchal husband and father. –Sita became a role model for the perfect wife and mother.
The Bhagavad-gita The Bhagavad-gita is the story of the god-warrior, Arjuna, and his companion Krsna. It is set in a battlefield where a very ferocious war is fought. Arjuna enters the battle with his enemies, the Kauravas. He hesitates to fight, as he does not want to kill his kinsmen. Krsna reveals himself as the supreme lord, and advises Arjuna to do his duty and accept his destiny. His dharma (religious and/or moral duty, based on age, education, occupation and social position) is to fight. Arjuna has responsibility to fight in a just war, and in this case against the Kaurava princes who tricked his family out of their kingdom. The lesson here is that: –Duty is laid upon a person at birth and by birth. –Chaos will develop if individuals take it upon themselves to reject the divinely ordained order of things – the fate of the combatants has been decided and Arjuna is merely the mediator.
The Dharma-Shastras Roughly translated, the dharma-shastras are codes of conduct – they define and instruct people to live in society. They prescribe all the do’s and don’t for right living, and almost every aspect of human living is covered. A dharma-shastra contains information and rules for different stages of life (aashrama). They deal with issues of daily life, personal, social, cultural and religious issues. The dharma-shastras are specific to a certain community and/or society and intended for a certain era, therefore not being authoritative for all people of all cultures at all places and all times. As a result, a dharma-shastra (unlike the Vedas) doesn’t contain absolute truths. In face, dharma-shastras are to be delivered by seers of a particular time and possibly place. They (the dharma-shastras) are consulted by the brahmans all over India.
In Conclusion… As with every major religion in the world, sacred stories and texts make up an important factor in the way that a religion is perceived by its followers. Not only are the stories the building stones for belief but they also present an ideal model to the follower of how ones life can be fulfilled in their worship of god. Without sacred texts a religion can not viably exist as the message handed down from god can be twisted by the preachers either purposefully or accidentally, therefore the texts are in their own way a prophet of god being purposefully constructed to help mankind onto the righteous path.