Published on December 5, 2007
Slide1: Hinduism NOTES: NOTES Hinduism more a system of actions than of beliefs. Which deity one adheres to isn’t crucial to one’s standing as a Hindu. Almost like two religions: Vedic or Brahmanism; & those based on devotional sects of Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, etc and based in Maha & Bhagavad Gita Three gods stand out: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is the personification of Brahman, the sacred power or world-soul that underlies all existence. Shiva, the destroyer/regenerator and Vishnu the preserver & protector. Slide3: Generalizations about Hindu scriptures are especially difficult to make; almost every statement has exceptions. Still, the main lines of scriptures can be reliably traced. Hindus acknowledge the sacredness of the Vedas, and adhere to a structure of society as reflected in the law-code scriptures (including caste structure), India – a land of religious diversity: India – a land of religious diversity The chief architectural symbol of India is the Taj Mahal (right), a Muslim mosque. India is predominantly Hindu, but is 20% Muslim and has sizeable Sikh, Zoroastrian, and Christian minorities. India has historically been tolerant toward other religions, but a rising movement of “Hindu fundamentalism” has begun to change this. Its conflict with Muslims is especially sharp. Introduction to Hinduism: Introduction to Hinduism Hinduism is one of the most internally diverse world religions. It has many gods and many paths to salvation. The scriptures of Hinduism mirror this diversity. Vast in size, varied in usage, and profound in influence, many scriptures have been used for three thousand years. “Hinduism” and “Indian” were territorial terms applied by foreigners. Hindu self-identity mirrors external challenges of Islam (9th CE onwards) and colonialism (esp. 19th C.). Would there be a “Hindu consciousness” apart from the need to distinguish it from Muslim and Christian, etc.? All Hindus have a basic reverence for the most ancient scriptures, all acknowledge a feeling for the structure of society as reflected in the law-code scriptures (including caste structure), and a strong feeling for the scriptures of one’s single chosen god or goddess. The Hindu “Trimurti”: The Hindu “Trimurti” Brahman as all three Gods of the Trimurti, Brahman, Shiva, and Vishnu. The Upanisads and the Ancient “Vedic” religion: The Upanisads and the Ancient “Vedic” religion The sacred syllable “OM” OM: OM Considered to be the hidden, mystical sound the cosmos makes. Pronounced by chanting in a lengthy, resonant way. Used in meditation, and at the beginning and end of reading scripture. The Om written out (left) is often used as a symbol of Hinduism. The Caste System: The Caste System The ‘Twice-Born’ Castes: The Brahmins (priests and intellectuals) were born of the mouth of Brahma and speak with the gods for humankind. The Kshatriyas (rulers and warriors) were born of Lord Brahma's arms and are given the task of protecting society. The Vaishyas (business people) were born of his thighs and do trade, business, and large-scale farming. The Lower Castes: The Shudras (or common laborers and small farmers) were born of Brahma's feet and their only purpose is to serve the other three castes. Includes the "untouchables" who are considered outside the system (hence “outcastes”). Religions in India, 1987: Religions in India, 1987 The Two Main Divisions in Hindu Scriptures: The Two Main Divisions in Hindu Scriptures Shruti “What is heard”: the earliest, Vedic scripture Includes hymns, books directing sacrifice, and books for meditation Includes the Upanishads: philosophy of cosmic reality and the way to true liberation through thought. Smriti “What is remembered,”: all other later scripture; includes law codes, legends, and lore Seeks to carry out the basic religious message of Shruti Includes the Bhagavad Gita as section of the Mahabarata Use of Scriptures in Hinduism: Use of Scriptures in Hinduism Use depends on one’s caste, occupation, and the god to whom one is devoted. Vedas are used for ritual by Brahmin priests. Upanishads are used for philosophic meditation, yoga, and study. Law codes like Manu structure society; source of castes and divisions of labor. The Mahabarata and Ramayana “epics” are perhaps the best-loved and most influential text in popular Hinduism. Oral usage predominates over written for almost all Hindu scripture. Origin and Development of Scriptures: Origin and Development of Scriptures Vedas have their origin in ancient rituals. The later Vedic literature, especially the Upanishads, both justify and criticize sacrificial worship. The term means “sitting down near,” so it’s a lesson given at the foot of a master. Smriti has little interest in ritual, dealing with broad religious and cultural topics. Like Hinduism as a whole, the leading purposes of these scriptures are kept over time, often combined with newer rituals and later literary works. The Four Vedas: The Four Vedas Rig Veda: Hymns; the most important of the Vedas. Yajur Veda: Formulas for sacrifice Sama Veda: Songs for sacrifice Atharva Veda: Spells for a variety of purposes. Other Shruti: Other Shruti Brahmanas: “Brahmin Books” for the sacrificial rites; one for each of the 4 Vedas. Aranyakas: “Forest Books”: philosophical meditations and speculations on sacrifice Upanishads: philosophy of cosmic reality and the way to true liberation through thought. Smriti: Smriti The role of Smriti is to bring out the meaning of Shruti and apply it to later ages. The Smriti literature is vast: myths and legends of the Puranas, epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and law codes like Laws of Manu. Because of its more popular and ever-developing nature, Smriti scripture has had a strong influence on Hindu religion and Indian culture. Prime example: the Bhagavad-Gita, with its easy-to-understand moral lessons of caste duty, and prescription for a bhakti or devotional orientation for the lower castes. THE FOUR YOGAS/MARGAS, OR PATHS TO FINAL EMANICIPATION (MOKSHA): THE FOUR YOGAS/MARGAS, OR PATHS TO FINAL EMANICIPATION (MOKSHA) KNOWLEDGE (KNOWING) = JNANA YOGA INTELLECTUAL RECOGNITION OF THE SOLE REALITY OF BRAHMAN-ATMAN; EXEMPLIFIED IN THE MYSTICAL ORIENTATION OF THE UPANISHADS DEVOTION (FEELING) = BHAKTI YOGA PASSIONATE LOVE OF A DEITY AND SURRENDER OF SELF; EXEMPLIFIED IN POPULAR HINDHISM WORSHIP ACTION/DUTY (WILLING) = KARMA YOGA FULFILLMENT OF RITES/CEREMONIES AND CASTE DUTIES; EXEMPLIFIED IN VEDIC PERIOD RELIGION PSYCHOPHYSICAL EXERCISE (MIND) = RAJA YOGA EXEMPLIFIED IN YOGIC PRACTICE & MEDITATION PSYCHOPHYSICAL EXERCISE (BODY) = HATHA YOGA EXEMPLIFIED IN YOGIC PRACTICE & MEDITATION; 15th C. onwards THE FOUR GOALS: THE FOUR GOALS PATH OF RENUNCIATION 1. DHARMA = DISCHARGE OF DUTY 2. MOKSHA = LIBERATION PATH OF DESIRE 3. KAMA = PLEASURE; 4. ARTHA = WORLDLY SUCCESS THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE: THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE 1. STUDENT 2. HOUSEHOLDER 3. RETIREMENT 4. WANDERING ASCETIC Meet the Gods: Brahman: Meet the Gods: Brahman The Hindu Trimurti: The Hindu Trimurti The Trimurti and “Henotheism” : The Trimurti and “Henotheism” Three in One: Three in One BRAHMAN (THE CREATOR; BRAHMAN-ATMAN) Saguna Brahma or Ishvara (īśvara, Hindi Ishvar) is God or Supreme Consciousness with gunas (qualities or attributes). Ishvara, literally "master, lord" (also used to denote "lord" in a secular sense, as any master or king.), frequently translated as "the Supreme Lord", is used to refer to the One and the Supreme God in a monotheistic sense. This contrasts with Nirguna Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness or Supreme Spirit, i.e., Brahman beyond the attributes. VISHNU The preserver; the forces of preservation, love and benevolence Krishna, is an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu SHIVA The destroyer; represents forces of destruction and regeneration Dance; both "terrible and mild” Shiva, the dancing god: Shiva, the dancing god Slide25: Shiva “both terrible and mild” (Destroyer and Regenerator; Show Cosmic version. The hands of the four-armed Shiva: Legs: one is dancing on a dwarf = ignorance (Maya-no offense to dwarves) = driving us into the world, while the other is uplifting. Left top: holds flame; constant transformation of the world, and its ultimate destruction 2nd: held out in the ‘elephant’ position =teaching hand Right: holds drum = creation of the world 2nd is up = as assurance that the cycle of creation and destruction is eternal, like a cosmic dance without end. Shiva attended by the cow-herds: Shiva attended by the cow-herds Vishnu, Preserver & Protector: Vishnu, Preserver & Protector Vishnu: Vishnu Vishnu: Vishnu The Bhagavad-Gita: The Bhagavad-Gita Its name means “The Song of the Lord.” Found in section 6 of the long epic, the Mahabharata. Comprises a dialogue between Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) and Arjuna in the context of a civil war. Its main point: do your caste duties faithfully, even if you have doubts about them, but act with detachment. Vishnu riding Garuda: Vishnu riding Garuda Ganesha: Ganesha Ganesha: Ganesha Women in Hinduism: Women in Hinduism Traditional women often wear devotional marks to their deity on their foreheads. Significance of awakening of a third, “spiritual eye”. The life of women in Hinduism has been tightly regulated in the past by Hindu law. The Laws of Manu specify that females are “never to be independent” of male authority. Woman can sometimes ascend their caste through marriage; but no matter what her caste, a Hindu woman’s life consists of serving her husband and family. In modern India, a movement to liberate women is taking place, especially in the cities. Example: ‘The Bandit Queen’ Hindu Goddesses: Kali: Hindu Goddesses: Kali Hindu Goddesses: Shakti : Hindu Goddesses: Shakti Tantric/Kundalini Energy & the Seven Chakras: Tantric/Kundalini Energy & the Seven Chakras Slide39: The release and ascent of the dormant spiritual Kundalini energy in Kundalini Yoga enables the aspirant to transcend the effects of the elements and achieve consciousness that brings liberation from the ever-changing world of illusion (Maya). Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon and refers to the principal energy channels of the “subtle body”: the energetic psycho-spiritual body we all possess to varying degrees. Yoga Techniques: Yoga Techniques Yama (control) : nonviolence, truth, honesty, sexual continence, forbearance, fortitude, kindness, straightforwardness, moderation in diet, bodily purity. Niyama (rules of conduct) : austerity, contentment, belief in God, charity, worship of God, study of teachings and scriptures, modesty, having a discerning mind, repetition of prayers (japa), observance of vows and performing sacrifices. Asanas (postures) : as a motionless body makes the mind quiet, 48 postures have been described of which at the least one must be mastered if one is to reach a deep state of meditation. Pranayama (control of breath) : inhalation, holding the breath, exhalation … through 3 kinds of muscular control (bandhas). Pratyahara (withdrawal of sensory perceptions) : consisting of breath suspension and holding the mind, that step by step absorbs the senses in Kundalini energy. Dharana (concentration) : by the aid of mantras, deep concentration on the six subtle centers of the chakras, starting from the first and gradually approaching the seventh. Dhyana (uninterrupted mediation) : in which the ego, mind, and intellect dissolve. Samadhi (complete equilibrium) : the individual consciousness becomes pure consciousness, supreme consciousness.