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Hinduism

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Hinduism

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  1. Hinduism

  2. Origins • with no founder, organizational structure, or creed, Hinduism unites the worship of many gods with a belief in a single divine reality • 2000 BCE—the discovery of the Harappa culture in the Indus River valley; Aryan migration from the northwest • 1500 BCE—creation of the Vedas • 800-500 BCE—creation of the Upanishads • 200 BCE-200 CE—the Bhagavad-Gita

  3. the Aryans (nobles) • the “Indo-Europeans” • a warrior-dominated, patriarchal society • three social classes • priests • warriors • commoners • (dasas, ‘servants’)

  4. the Aryan’s religion • DyaüsPitr—“shining father” • Indra—the god of storm and war • Agni—the god of fire (carried sacrifices to the world of the gods) • Ushus—the goddess of renewal and change • Rudra—god of wind • Varuna—god of the sky and justice

  5. • Vishnu—a god of cosmic order • Surya—the sun god • Soma—the god of altered states of mind and expanded consciousness • mediated between the realm of the gods and the world of humans • Yama—ruler of the afterlife • worship: sacrifices & sacred chants

  6. the Vedas • knowledge, or sacred lore • revealed to rishis (holy men of the ancient past) • Four Divisions • Rig Veda (hymn knowledge) • Yajur Veda (ceremonial knowledge) • Sama Veda (chant knowledge) • Atharva Veda (teachings of Atharva; prayers and charms)

  7. the Upanishads (sitting near) • philosophical and religious teachings from the meditative traditions • the Axis Age (500 BCE)—everything turned a new direction (the time of Buddha, Confucius, some of the Hebrew prophets, the early Greek philosophers) • the ancient belief in many gods is questioned; replaced by notions like a single divine source, or mystical unification of all things. • emphasis on altered consciousness (sitting, breathing, fasting, abstinence, silence, going w/o sleep, use of psychedelic plants, living in dark caves)

  8. Important concepts in the Upanishads • with spiritual discipline and meditation, anyone can experience the spiritual reality underlying and unifying the diverse appearances of existence • Brahman • Atman • maya • karma • moksha

  9. Brahman & Atman • brahman—a divine reality at the heart of things • Shvetaketu, “An invisible and subtle essence is the Spirit of the whold universe. That is Reality. That is Truth. Thou art That.” • Brahman is the lived experience that all things are in some way holy because they come from the same sacred source. • every apparent individual reality in the world is actually a wave of the same sacred ocean of energy

  10. • ‘atman’ originally referred to the world interior mental world that shows itself in consciousness, thought, imagination, trance, and dream. • each person has an individual soul (jiva), but all humans share the same Atman. • while Brahman refers to the experience of the sacred in the external universe, Atman refers to the experience of the sacred within oneself. • cf. ‘namaste’

  11. Maya, Karma, & Moksha • ‘maya’—the term for the everyday world (illusion) • the world is real, but not in the way most people assume; really, the world is one basic holy reality that takes on many different forms • ‘karma’—moral consequences are carried along with every act. • some teachers say karma is neither good nor bad, except to the one experiencing it • ‘moksha’—freedom, release, liberation

  12. the Caste System • brahman (priests) • rajanya (warrior-noble) • vaishyas (merchants) • shudra (peasants) • the chandala (outcasts, untouchables)

  13. stages of life • brahmacharin (student) • grihashta (householder) • vanaprastha (retiree) • sannyasin (renunciate)