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Hinduism an introduction. The Indian subcontinent includes areas that are now politically separate from India. The Indus Valley, for instance, lies in.

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Presentation on theme: "Hinduism an introduction. The Indian subcontinent includes areas that are now politically separate from India. The Indus Valley, for instance, lies in."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hinduism an introduction

2 The Indian subcontinent includes areas that are now politically separate from India. The Indus Valley, for instance, lies in what is now the Muslim state of Pakistan. Another Muslim state was carved out of the eastern portion of India in 1947, becoming the independent state of Bangladesh in 1972.




6 Basic overview Oldest of the world’s major religions – Arguably should be more like 3-5 different religions, but Western Imperialism lumped it all together No specific or known founder 3 rd largest religion in the world: vast, vast, vast majority of all Hindus live in modern day India (about 900 million followers) Mono/Pantheistic (with polytheistic traditions) Belief in reincarnation after death and the oneness of the soul Sacred Texts: Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas etc. Holy sites: Ganges, Mt. Meru Holy days: Diwali, Holi, Janmashtami

7 Topics from Intro (pp. 55-68) for discussion Compare and contrast how religious scholars tried to get a handle on Hinduism. Deduce what this tells us about the religion, its impact and the difference between being Hindu and Indian. Explain how the history of India dovetails with Hinduism and informs our understanding of the religion. Examine the importance of various texts in both a written and oral tradition. To what extent did women and the lower classes participate in the religious development of Hinduism? Explain the importance of the bhakti movement. Explain how the British impacted Hinduism & Indian culture. Comment on how modern history & culture have impacted Hinduism.

8 Why are we here? At the beginning of this era of the Universe, Brahman—the great overarching being, the absolute—was disrupted, splitting into trillions of pieces – Some say was broken by the sound Om; others say it broke up by choice, wanting to experience many parts of what life could be; others because it had to as the world was being remade This happens once every 4.1 or 8.2 billion years (depending on how you interpret the text) or one full day and night for the God, Brahma Each yuga (epoch) is divided into four ages, with humanity becoming more and more degraded with the passing of each age – Currently we are a few thousand years into the last yuga, the Kali Yuga

9 What is the human condition? When the world was first made, the millions of pieces of Brahman became Atman (souls) which make up all sentient beings (anything that can perceive and feel things) Now we are trapped in samsara (the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth) Everything action one takes, good or bad, creates karma which goes on to effect one’s future Bad karma leads the degradation of the dharma (the notion of interconnectedness) of the universe and descent into progressively worse yugas

10 Where are we going? The ultimate goal is the return to Brahman To do this one must break samsara and achieve moksha (liberation) – After this, reincarnation will no longer occur – Moksha can take several lifetimes to occur, according to some readings. Or it could just be one… This was traditionally done by dharma (doing your duty; the right way of living); but has been added to by yogic practice When one has not achieved moksha, the atman will instead by reincarnated. There are three main readings of reincarnation: 1. based on karma determining station in new life 2. based on the atman’s desire to try new things 3. the atman has one attempt to be human If the atman cannot achieve moksha within the given time, it is either 1.) condemned to a hell or 2.) destroyed as unworthy of association with Brahman

11 How do we get there? There are four stated goals in life: 1.Dharma: one’s duty, role and righteousness 2.Artha: prosperity, providing for family, economic values 3.Kama: pleasure, love, psychological values 4.Moksha: spirituality & liberation from the cycle of suffering #1 is the most important and takes priority over #s 2 & 3; doing #s 1, 2, & 3 right leads to #4 However, as the influence of capitalism & the West enjoined Indian, addendums were made to dharma, allowing people to be religious without staying in their role. This became known as the yoke, or yoga The three yogic paths are: 1.Jnanamarga (salvation through knowledge) 2.Bhaktimarga (salvation through religious devotion) 3.Karmamarga (salvation through good actions)

12 How do we get there? II All this leads to four basic Hindu traditions (think of these as schools of thought or ways to reach the same end): 1.Vedic tradition: emphasis on a return to the original literature and structure of Vedic society—kinda like fundamentalism 2.Devotional tradition: emphasis on prayer and worship of traditional gods or their avatars (incarnations), like Vishnu or Shiva and sacred texts like the Bhagavad Gita—makes Hinduism seem more like a Western religion 3.Ascetic tradition: emphasis on extreme yoga to achieve the divine. Sees the modern world as a hindrance to moksha and wants to renounce most of it to get closer to God—like the Amish. 4.Popular tradition: Emphasis on Hinduism within old culture (sacredness of Ganges, Mt. Meru,) and key festivals, while also adding the popular deities of the time era as well as the culture of India (diet, arranged marriage, etc.)—this tends to put more superstition into the religion

13 Why are we here? Creation & Cosmology (pp. 84-86 & 88-91) Describe early puja (ritual). Explain what it tells us about the culture, values, society and people of early Hinduism. Explain the view of the world order and gods as contained in the Rig Veda Examine the importance of fire & Agni. Discuss what is meant by “sacrifice” in the Rig Veda. Compare and contrast themes in the “Creation Hymn” & “The Birth of the Gods.”

14 Why are we here? More Creation & Cosmology After the Vedas there are several different creation and cosmology stories expounded – Most clear and most popular come from the tales of the Gods, known as the Puranas This is when the old Vedic gods of various objects leave us to be replaced by anthropomorphic Gods Creation Myth: – In the beginning there was Brahman who desired to create something out of the chaos of the universe. He removed darkness, created water and planted a seed, which grew into an egg. Out of the egg came Brahma who created all the other worlds (there are about 40, including 28 hells—big ones are earth, world of the gods and world of the ancestors). He then let the egg sit for a year and through concentrated thought, split it in two, creating heaven and earth, adding water and salt around the earth—separating it from other worlds. He then created Manu the first human, who had 24 children creating all the good and bad desires of humanity, which Brahma took and manifested into the forms of other gods, devas, asuras, etc.

15 From Manu would spring the rest of humanity. Manu lived in a perfect age where all dharma was done in harmony, but as the ages degraded the varna (caste) system was needed Why are we here? More Cosmology & the Caste System

16 Why are we here? Gods As Aryan society replaced Dravidian society, the Gods changed, becoming the popular Hindu Gods today – Old Vedic Gods still played some role, especially Agni, Indra, and Surya Three major Gods known as the trimurthi: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (sustainer) and Shiva (destroyed) – They also have avatars (incarnations)—Vishnu’s are the most popular, Krishna and Ram(a) Tons of other gods, and like anything else they fall in and out of style, currently Lord Ganesh, Kali, Durga, Saraswati, and Hanuman are some of the more popular ones Any modern Hindu will tell you that this is not polytheism, but rather all manifestations of Brahman, who is impossible to comprehend for humans

17 Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva Ganesh Kali Durga

18 Why are we here? The day Krishna left the Earth (pp. 238-241 & 248-250; 245-248 & 263-267 ) According to Hindu theory, the world starts out perfect and slowly degrades over the course of several billion years These long epoch are divides into yugas. We are currently in last yuga of this cycle, the Kali Yuga. At the end of it Vishnu will return as Kalki, a sort of messianic figure. Explain how all of the Gods outside of the trimurti fit within the context of Dharma, Artha and Kama in a Venn Diagram. Evaluate what the Puranas interpretation of time says about Hindu beliefs and values Comment on the necessity of the caste system in Hinduism. Evaluate how that informs religion’s role in society. Compare and contrast the values of Vaishnavites vs. Shaivites Explain the relevance of linga worship and the divine feminine in in Hinduism. Deduce the impact of these values to the culture and society of India Outline the differences between the yugas discussed. To what extent is the Hindu understanding of cosmology reflected in the Puranas account of the destruction of the world?

19 Hinduism Socratic Seminar Texts: excerpts from The Ramayana of Valmiki (pp. 196-209); The Bhagavad Gita (pp. 179-195); “The Gospel of Selfless Action” by Gandhi (pp. 640-647); Midnight’s Children by Rushdie (pp. 698-700) Discussion on roles and beliefs in Hinduism, how they have changed, and how the old classics have been reinterpreted in the modern sense. You will receive the talking points for HW the night before. This is a (50 point) culminating grade.

20 What is the human condition? the atman (pp. 176-177 & 183-188) Describe Arjuna’s problem and Krishna’s solution. Outline what you believe a soul to be. Comment on the importance of a soul to the theory of religion. Describe Krishna’s attributes and perception of the soul. Explain how Krishna’s description of the soul agrees with the principals of Hinduism.

21 What is the human condition?/ Where are going? Moksha, Samsara, Karma, & Reincarnation You have critically read the article from Kinsley’s Central Hindu Beliefs on Actively Learn. Find a partner or two that you have not worked with before. Create web explaining how these ideas play into and influence your understanding of Hinduism. At the center should be the atman, based on your understanding from the Gita. Define it with the best quote from the Gita you can find Do some further research online or in the classroom textbook. Try to find example of where these same ideas differ within Hinduism. Deduce what that difference tells us about the variety and diversity of Hinduism. Discuss: Is it accurate/fair/acceptable to lump all these ideas under one umbrella term of Hinduism?

22 Where are we going? Meditation, Hatha Yoga, & Asceticism (pp. 132-135) Define yoga, as you understand it, from this passage and life. Compare and contrast both ideas and goals. Explain what meditation is. Analyze its benefits. Meditation is begun and codified in and was originally central to Hinduism, but popularity has waned; very central to Buddhism. Hinduism is more likely to have extreme ascetics as a way of showing bhakti (devotion) – Also a form of jnana yoga—harnessing mind over body.

23 Shaivite sadhu meditating in the Himalayas at the source of the holy Ganges River. Ascetics sitting on beds of nails.

24 Where are we going? Puja Spend the next fifteen minutes with a partner researching puja in general and specific forms of Hindu puja. – Compare and contrast commonalities in the specific forms of Hindu puja. – Comment on how they correlate with prominent Hindu ideas, stories, and rituals Cite your sources informally Turn in one sheet of paper per group—you may want to each take a photo of it before handing it in, so you have a copy of the notes.

25 Where are we going?/ How do we get there? Dharma To past generations of Hindus, dharma (doing one’s role/duty) has been one of the core Hindu beliefs. – With Imperialism & modern capitalism, that has waned This will preserve order and perpetuate the cycle of life. (Almost like a circular great chain of being.) Traditionally this meant two things for men: 1.) Playing the chosen role of your caste and 2.) following the caturasrama (ideal life cycle for high caste males): 1.Early Life: student’s life, study—respect your teacher 2.Mid life: marry, have a family, raise kids, provide for a protect them 3.Retirement: Go off with wife away from town and into forest— apart but not completely cut off; begin religious work 4.End of life: go off by yourself (leave your wife), end world attachment and become an ascetic, give old, wise advice, and die.

26 How do we get there? Artha & Kama Modern Hinduism states four goals for life, know as Purusartha: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha – When they conflict, dharma should take precedent over all others. – Moksha (if achieved) will be achieved at death Artha: wealth and righteousness – This is key for all members of Hindu society, provided (historically) they stay within their own caste Kama: pleasure and enjoyment; less important that artha – In both the mental and physical (use your imagination) While Western religions generally condemn these two ideas, most Eastern religions do not Both of these were originally done as way of incorporating basic human desires into a sustainable religious system All of these should be achieved in balance not excess

27 How do we get there? Jnana, Bhakti, Karma paths Directions: you and your group will have the next two days to research and advertise your assigned form of marga. You will then create a some sort of visual to share with the class. Be sure to be comprehensive, as there will be no additional lecture, and hit on all forms of your path—origin, yoga, penance and atonement, arcane and modern uses, etc. Finally, each path should also have a further grounding and analysis in Hindu scripture. So, jnana (pp. 115-124) bhakti (pp. 245-248, 267-273 & 480-481) karma (pp. 106-108, 210-213, & 223-226)

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