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A Hindu is…
• “Any Indian who is not a Muslim, Christian,
Parsi, or Jew.” (Republic of India, Hindu
Family Law)
• Term coined by Europeans circa 1800s to
describe India’s most common patterns of
religious thought and behavior.
Hinduism is…
• A collection of diverse practices with many
• A polytheistic religion originating in India.
Goals of Life
1) Moksha = release from the cycle of death
and rebirth.
2) Kama = sexual love.
3) Artha = success in worldly pursuits.
4) Dharma = ethical conduct.
3 Historical Ages
• Age of the Vedas 2500 BCE - 600 BCE
• Age of the Epics 600 BCE - 200 CE
• Age of the Upanishads/Vaishnava Movement
7th - 12th centuries CE
Age of the Vedas
• 2500 BCE - 600 BCE
• The Vedas are the most sacred of Hindu
scriptures, common to all sects of Hinduism.
Vedic India
1000 BCE - 500 BCE
Age of the Epics
• 600 BCE - 200 CE
• The literature originating during this period is
less authoritative but still very influential.
• Bhagavad-Gita written during this period.
Age of the Upanishads
• 7th - 12th Centuries CE
• Persian and Muslim invaders and influences
• These new influences resisted assimilation,
but resulted in new tendency in Hinduism
toward monotheism.
Spread of Islam into
1200-1400 CE
Note especially the
Punjab region in
the NW
Religious Texts
• The Vedas
• The Upanishads
• The Bhagavad-Gita
The Vedas
Rg Veda
Sama Veda
Yajur Veda
Atharva Veda
* All sects of Hinduism share the Vedic texts.
Rg Veda
Lyric hymns (sukta) to various deities.
Earliest portions written circa 1200 BCE
Mostly devotional and laudatory.
The sacrificer calls upon the gods through his
singing and asks for some blessing.
Sama Veda
• Hymns relating specifically to soma sacrifice.
• Soma = a ritual inebriating drink.
• All but 75 of the verses in the Sama Veda are
found in the Rg Veda.
Yajur Veda
• Sacrificial prayers
• The Rg Veda, Sama Veda, and Yajur Veda
form the Trayi Vidya, or “3-fold knowledge.”
Atharva Veda
• A lesser collection of hymns, not included in
the trayi vidya.
• Includes hymns intended for healing, battle,
and medicinal charms as well as some hymns
of praise.
The Pantheon of Gods
• Thousands of gods.
• Brahman = Ultimate Being
• Hindu Trinity
• Shiva = Destroyer
• Vishnu = Preserver
• Brahma = Creator
• The gods have many incarnations, spouses, progeny,
and aspects.
Vishnu the Boar
Rescuing the
earth from the
oceans. Vishnu in
this incarnation is
called Varaha.
as Krishna
4 Estates ~ Varna
Brahmin (priest class)
Kshatriya (warrior/king class)
Vaishya (merchant class)
Shudra (serf/peasant class)
5) Harijans (untouchables) <-- not used by all
European Imperialism
Partition 1947
What’s Next?
• Week 3 Handout will be ready Friday.
• Monday next week will be devoted to the
Eastman Hinduism readings.
• Friday’s film is Monsoon Wedding
• It’s time to reserve your tickets for the Rosza