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HINDUISM
AP Human Geography
Mrs. Lacks
Hinduism
• Considered the world’s oldest religion
• From at least 2500 BCE there were people living in the Indus Valley.
• Several cities with advanced plumbing, architecture, and
populations of 40,000+ (e.g., Harappa and Mohenjo-daro)
flourished.
• 750+ million Hindus in India
• 30+ million “Hindus” abroad
• Third largest religion in the world
Hinduism
• No founder or creed
• The earliest forms of Hinduism are often called “Vedic.” (2500-800 BCE)
• Dominated by a priestly class concerned with “fire sacrifices.”
• The fire rituals communicated with the gods, influenced them, and
restored the vital powers of the universe.
• Dyaus Pitr (cf: Zeus & Jupiter)
• Agni (god of fire)
• Soma (a god & a drug? A drink that produces immortality)
Three Sacred Texts
• The Vedas
• The oldest and most important is the Vedas (in 4 parts)
• First in the form of oral histories
• The Bhagavad Gītā (400 BCE)
• It is perhaps the most famous, and definitely the most widely-read text of
ancient India.
• The Upanishads (400 BCE)
• Focus on 1) meditation and 2) religious instruction with a guru
Polytheistic
• Hindus believe in many gods, but differ by their importance
• Brahman is considered “ultimate reality,” but Hinduism is highly
polytheistic.
• The Hindu Pantheon is structured around “divine couples” (malestructure/form::female-energy/matter) who serve different
functions in the universe; in a way, they point to the various forces
in life/the cosmos.
• Many deities are depicted with a “vehicle”—an animal with whom
they are often portrayed.
• The “Trimurti” is organized around Brahma (creation), Vishnu
(maintenance), Shiva (destruction).
Brahma (or Brahman)
• Creator
• Consort/wife: Saraswati, goddess of
knowledge and speech.
• Vehicle: hamsa or swan (seven
swans)
• The Vedas depict Brahman as the
Universal Soul
Vishnu
• Maintainer of the Universe or the
Preserver
• Consort: Lakshmi (good fortune and
prosperity)
• Vehicle: “Garuda”—eagle/human hybrid
• most famously identified with his human
and animal incarnations (AKA, avatars)
• He is manifested by ten avatars
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
(Fish)
(Turtle)
(Pig/Boar)
(Lion man / from the torso upwards lion, below,
human)
(First fully human form as a dwarf sage who has the
ability to grow very, very tall)
(Fierce man / Hunter)
(Greatest Warrior/ Ideal man)
(Mentally advanced man)
(Sage who is completely still)
(Prophesied, yet to take place)
• For Vaishnavas, he is the Ultimate Reality
or God. The Brahman.
Shiva
• Shiva is the Destroyer
• Even though he represents
destruction, Shiva is viewed as a
positive force
• Shiva is the supreme God in
Shaivism
• Vehicle: Nandi, the Bull
Other gods
• Kali: god of destruction (wears a
necklace made of the skulls of
men)
• Krishna: 8th variation of Vishnu
and most important (story also
occurs in Jainism and Buddhism)
• Ganesha (son of Shiva and
Parvati)
• Devi: the goddess (sometimes
seen as the manifestation of
Brahman)
Krishna
CORE BELIEFS THAT
UNITE HINDUS
Jivas
•Individual souls (jivas) enter the world
mysteriously
•They begin as the souls of the simplest forms
of life and reincarnate/transmigrate (samsara)
into more complex bodies until they enter
human bodies
•Souls in human bodies are engaged in issues of
freedom and responsibility (karma)
What people seek
• There are stages to “lives” that we all go through—
some quicker than others
• All humans seek:
• 1. kāma (pleasure, physical or emotional)
• 2, artha (material wealth)
• 3. dharma (righteousness)
• happens with maturity
• learn to govern these desires within the higher
framework
• 4. mokṣha (salvation)
• Results in ultimate happiness
• Escape from the cycle of births and deaths
What limits us
•pain (physical and psychological)
•ignorance
•restricted being
Reincarnation
•Based on the idea that every living being has
an eternally existing spirit
•Reincarnation is the soul's cycle of birth and
death until it attains Mokṣha (Moke-sha)
(salvation) and is governed by Karma (see
below)
Karma
•Karma rests on the idea of human free-will
(not moved by God)
•One’s actions determine the course of one’s
life cycle & rebirth
•You can't refine your soul overnight, however.
Hindus believe it takes many lifetimes to
achieve moksha
Four Paths to Moksha
reflective
emotional
active
experimental
through knowledge
Jnana (yoga)
through love
bhakti (yoga)
through work
karma (yoga)
through experiment
raja (yoga)
yoga = “union”
Common Preliminary
• Cultivate Habits of…
• non-injury
• truthfulness
• non-stealing
• self-control
• cleanliness
• contentment
• self-discipline
• compelling desire
The Devil
• Hinduism does not recognize any central evil force or entity such as
the Devil opposing God and man\
• Hinduism does recognize that different beings (e.g., asuras) and
entities can perform evil acts, under the temporary dominance of
the guna of tamas, and cause worldly sufferings.
• The Rajasic and Tamasic Gunas of Maya are considered especially
close to the Abrahamic concept, the hellish parts of the Ultimate
Delusion called "Prakriti”
• An embodiment of this is the concept of Advaita (non-dualism)
where there is no good or evil but simply different levels of
realization
WORSHIP & HOLY
PLACES
Worship
• Hindus worship principally through seeing (Darshan) an image of
the divinity.
• Shrines can be anywhere, in great temples, by the road, or in the
home.
• Puja is the act of worship, offering them fruit, flowers, incense,
water, or cloth in order to symbolize an offering of the self to the
god/goddess.
• In some cases deities are processed through the streets (at
festivals, etc.)
• Sometimes the worshipper will take a pilgrimage to a sacred place,
the most well-known being Varanasi, on the Ganges River.
GANGES RIVER
Varanasi, India
• Most famous Hindu holy city
• On banks of Ganges River
Varanasi
• One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world (oldest
in India)
• Many Hindus believe if you die here you achieve moksha
• History/Legend
•
•
•
•
•
Founded by the god, Shiva
Archaeological evidence found dates back to 11th century BC
Located on trade route
“city of temples”
“city of lights”
Hindu Temples in India
HINDU RELIGIOUS
SECTS
(DENOMINATIONS)
Hindu Religious Sects
• Within Hinduism are four main denominations, all based on the
same principles, but focusing on different gods
• However, there are some sects that many would consider
extreme
Three Major Sects
• Vaishnava (Vishnu)
• Generally vegetarian
• Worship Vishnu, Rama, Krishna
• Oriented towards duty and tradition
• Shaiva (Shiva)
• Worship focuses on union of opposites, especially creation and
destruction
• Tend to emphasize austere practices.
• Shakta (Devi)
• Worship “the goddess” as ultimate reality
• (Bengali)
Aghori
• The Aghori are a Hindu sect believed to have split
off from the Kapalika order (which dates from 1000
CE) in the fourteenth century.
• Both Kapalika and Aghori sects are worshipers of
Lord Shiva.
• Aghori means non-terrifying in Sanskrit, and may
refer to how members of the sect view death.
Aghori
• Cannibalism
• Live in graveyards and on
cremation pyres
• bathe amongst the dead
• Smearing themselves in the
ashes of the dead
• Use bones of the dead for
rituals
• Drink urine (even that of a dog)
Why?
• The Aghoris willingly transgress all ascetic (and Hindu) taboos,
convinced as they are that by 'reversing all values' they will
speed up enlightenment.
• Nonetheless, the Aghoris represent a tradition that is thousands
of years old, and there have been times that the sect was quite
numerous
The Gorakhnathis
• Devoted to Shiva
• Foundr, Guru
Gorakshanath,
traditionally
associated with
Hatha Yoga, has
been around for
thousands of years
watching the
welfare of
humanity
• Initiation ceremony
= ear splitting
CRITICISM OF
HINDUISM
Caste System
• Beginning with Aryan intrusion (2000 -1500 BCE)
• Spans all denominations
• You can not escape your caste but through good deeds, at
which point you have the chance to be reincarnated into a
higher caste in the next life
• Four (plus) castes:
• Brahmins (seers)
• Kshatriyas (administrators)
• Vaishyas (artisans, farmers, craftsmen) – 2/3rds of Indians
• Shudras (unskilled laborers)
• “untouchables” (today: “dalit”)
Untouchables (aka Dalit community)
• Jobs
• Taking life for a living (fishing)
• Killing or disposing of carcasses (butchery, tanning leather)
• Jobs that have anything to do with human emission (sweating, urine,
feces); street sweepers or washer men
• People who eat meats such as cattle, pig, chicken
• Subservient, usually illiterate and poverty stricken
• Historically deprived of many rights
• Cannot attend temple
• Cannot attend schools
• Cannot drink from same water fountains
Untouchables
• Higher castes could become “polluted” if untouchable
•
•
•
•
Touched you
Entered your house
Sat a close distance from you
Came in contact with your shadow
• If polluted, you must become purified
• Wash yourself with water
• Stricter Hindus – perform religious ceremonies
Untouchability Act (1955)
• Banned untouchability
• Provides penalty to those who deny the religious, occupational, or
educational rights of others
• Not highly enforced at first; now enforced in most of India (still
rampant in rural areas (ex. Khairlanji Massacre)
• 2001: 16.2% of Indian population (greatest population in Punjab
region near Pakistan)
• Not limited to Hindus (ex. 42% of Christians, 90% of Buddhists in
India follow caste system)
Kherlanji massacre
• 2006 torture and murders of
four members of a Buddhist
family by members of the
politically dominant upper caste
• Two women were tortured and
paraded naked through the
streets before their murders
• 11 people found guilty by high
court (six received 25 yrs in
prison, two received less jail
time, three acquitted)
Other Criticism of Hinduism
• Dowry
• Sati
Dowry System in India
• payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to groom's family along
with the bride
• Generally includes cash, jewelry, electrical appliances, furniture,
bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the
newlywed set up her home.
• Often puts great financial burden on bride’s family
• Given rise to female foeticide (sex selection abortion)
• Prohibited by law in 1961, but still widely practiced
• 2001: over 7,000 dowry deaths reported
Bride Burning
• Domestic violence that occurs when a groom (or his family) kills his
bride due to dissatisfaction over dowry
• Most common way is death by kerosene (“kitchen fire”)
• Indian police report over 5,000 deaths per year (ex. In 2008, there
were 1,948 convictions and 3,876 acquittals)
• Also prevalent in Pakistan
• Bride Burning Video
Sati
• Recently widowed woman immolates herself on her husband’s
funeral pyre (supposed to be voluntary)
• First ban in 1829 by British
• Sati prevention act ratified in 1987
• Coercing a woman to perform Sati: death or life in prison
• glorifying Sati: 1 – 7 yrs in prison
• Still happens rarely in rural parts of India via coercion or voluntary
burning
• Also prevalent in other cultures, historically (parts of ancient Egypt,
China, Africa, Scandinavia); Nepal & Bali continued it into the 20 th
century
RELIGIONS BORN
FROM HINDUISM
Jainism
• There are about 4 million Jains today,
most of them “lay people”
• Historians consider Jainism to have
been founded by Mahavira (599-527
BCE) as a reaction to the
conservative Brahminism of the 6thcentury BCE
• In general, they do NOT accept the
Hindu Scriptures or rituals, but they
do share a belief in the
transmigration of souls
• The most obvious characteristic of
them is their devotion to the
principle of ahimsa, or non-injury
• monks wear a veil
• even lay people forbidden to drink
after sunset
Jainism (cont.)
• Jains are followers of the Jinas, or
“tirthankaras” (the ford-makers, who
reveal the path to moksha)
• They believe 24 tirthankaras appear in
every half cycle
• Mahavira is the 24th tirthankara in this
cycle
• A contemporary of Buddha, Mahavira
renounced the world at the age of 30,
and after 12 years as a wandering
ascetic achieved enlightenment
• He then converted 12 disciples who
structure his teachings into the Jain
Scriptures
• He died in meditation and became a
liberated soul
Jainism
• Jain monks commit to the Great Vows:
• non-injury (ahisma)
• truth-speaking (satya)
• sexual abstinence (brahmacharya)
• non-stealing (asteya)
• detachment from persons, places, and things
(aparigraha)
• Lay people take the “lesser vows” which try to
apply the great vows to more “normal” modes
of living: e.g., strict vegetarianism, no work
that involves the deliberate destruction of life
(e.g., hunting no, farming okay).
• In the fourth century CE a major split occurred:
• Digambaras: all possessions, including clothing
are hindrance to liberation
• Shvetambaras: detachment is in the mind (and
not wearing clothes can also cause injury; e.g.,
if you light a fire to stay warm)
The only objects a
Digambara monk is
allowed to carry are a
water-pot and a flywhisk of peacock
feathers.
Sikhism
• Combination of Hinduism & Islam
• Guru Nanak, ca. 1500, had encounter leaving him to seek a
path to God that didn’t require strict identification with
Islam or Hinduism.
• In keeping with Hinduism, it affirms the belief in a supreme
and formless God beyond human conceiving
• In keeping with Islam, it rejects the notion of avatars (divine
incarnations), caste distinctions, images as aids to worship,
and the sanctity of the Vedas
• Follows Hinduism, but not Islam, in affirming reincarnation
Shikhism
• Five k’s (in Punjabi):
• uncut hair (conserves vitality, draws upward)
• comb (cleanliness and order)
• steel bracelet (shackles one to God)
• undershorts (one always dressed for action)
• dagger (originally needed for self-defense)
• Seek salvation through union with God, by realizing, through
love, the Person of God, who dwells in the depths of their
own being.
• World renunciation does not really figure in their faith.
• About 13 million Sikhs in the world
PRESERVATION OF
CULTURE & INDIA’S
PHYSICAL
GEOGRAPHY
Why has Hinduism been preserved?
• Highly populated region
• More people leaving than entering
• Politically separated region
• Geographically isolated region
• Indian subcontinent
• Blocked from rest of Asia by Himalayas
• Extreme weather
Partition of India
1947
After the Indian
Independence Movement
(political freedom from
England)
India: primarily Hindu
East & West Pakistan (now
Pakistan & Bangladesh):
primarily Muslim
Kashmir
• Disputed boundaries
• Pakistan controls the
northwest portion, India
controls the central and
southern portion, and
the China controls the
northeastern portion
• Ethnic and religious
differences
People of
Kashmir
(1890s)
Physical Characteristics
• influence of mountains =
population, settlements, movement, climate
• varied climate regions – from tropical wet to humid
continental
• natural hazards –
monsoons, quakes, typhoons, volcanoes in the region
• influence of water = Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra Rivers
flood
• Himalayas = block moisture to create steppes and deserts
in central Asia = rain shadow
The Himalayas
• Pangong Tso the largest Himalayan lake located at an altitude of
4,600 meters.
Mount Everest
“Holy
Mountain”
Mount Everest
• 29,028 ft high
• Located between Nepal
and China
• 1st complete ascent: May
29, 1953, by Edmund Hillary
and Tenzing Norgay
(British)
• 1996: deadliest year in
Everest history (15 deaths)
Monastery on Mount Everest,
Nepal
Do you want
to climb it?
Cost: a permit and
$25,000 per person to
government of Nepal
As of the end of the 2004 climbing season, 2,238 people had reached the summit
(1,148 of them since 1998) and 186 people died while climbing.
The conditions on the mountain are so difficult that most of the corpses have been
left where they fell; some of them are easily visible from the standard climbing
routes.
Most expeditions use oxygen masks and tanks above 26,246 feet (this region is
known as the death zone). Everest can be climbed without supplementary oxygen
but this increases the risk to the climber. Humans do not think clearly with low
oxygen, and the combination of severe weather, low temperatures, and steep
slopes often require quick, accurate decisions.
Extreme Weather
• Monsoon season in South Asia is December to March
• Typhoon season in South Asia – October to May
• What do we have to compare to typhoons? When is our season?
• What is an earthquake?
Rainiest Place on Earth
• An average yearly precipitation of
467.4 inches makes the village of
Mawsynram, India, the rainiest place on
Earth
• Cherrapunjee receives 450 in per year
Monsoons
A monsoon is a heavy
rainy season which
lasts for several
months and has
lasting climatic
effects.
The term was first
used in English with
this meaning in India,
Bangladesh and
neighboring countries
to mean the seasonal
winds blowing from
the Indian Ocean and
Arabian Sea in the
southwest bringing
heavy rainfall to the
region.
Typhoons = Tropical Cyclones
THAR DESERT
DECCAN PLATEAU