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Its origins
Is not one religion but is a family
of religions
• India and Hindu derived from
the same word--Indus.
• The Harappa cultured existed
in the area.
• Some argue that the
Dravidians lived in India
before the invasion of the
• Around 2000 B.C.E. The
Aryans entered India.
• However, recent scholarship
suggests that such an
invasion never occurred.
The Vedic Period
• Sacrifices to nature
• Hereditary
• Outdoor fire altars
• Memorized Vedic
• Offering of food,
drink, animals
The Vedas
(knowledge or sacred lore)
• Sacred chants which
made up the sacred
literature of the early
inhabitants. They
were revealed to holy
men called rishis.
These poetic
compositions are
made up of history,
ethical precepts, moral
laws, social traditions
and spiritual
The Four Texts of the Vedas
• 1. Rig Veda - hymn of knowledge -- is a
collection of more than a thousand
prayers hymn- chants (mantras) to the
Aryan Gods.
Origin of the Rig-Veda Gods
• Purusha is described as the All from
which parts of the universe came. Gods
come from Purusha
The Gods of the Rig-Veda
• Agni
– it is the fire used in the
• Indra,
– he slays demons but
preserves humans.
More Gods
• Soma
– is a "deified plant" and
is the most important
god of the Rig-Veda.
• Mitra
– personifies an
agreement or
contract. People use
the name as a way
of validating an
More Gods
• Varuna
– is also an important deity in the Rig-Veda
and is the protector of truth and "the main
force in the universe is Rita, which orders
all things and prevents Chaos.”
• 2. Yajur Veda - ceremonial knowledge -contains those things that are chanted
during sacrifice
• 4. Atharva Veda - knowledge
• 3. Sama Veda from [the teacher] Artharva -- is
chant knowledge-- is
made up of practical prayers
a handbook of
and charms which protect
musical elaboration
adherents against snakes and
of Vedic chants
• The four Vedas end with something even later
known as Upanishads, "which express
philosophical and religious ideas that arouse
in introspective and meditative traditions."
• The Upanishads are a collection of about 100
written works that record insights into external
and internal reality. They are written in
dialogue form and appear as both prose and
poet forms.
• Belief in Brahman as the ultimate
reality is what characterizes the
adherents of this religion. The Brahman
is omnipotent and impersonal. Attaining
unity with the Brahman is a key
characteristic. One wants the Atman
(soul) to be one with Brahman.
What do you want to do?
Goals in Life
• In Hinduism there are four goals in
– kama
– artha
– dharma
– moksha
It is the life of
pleasures. It
can be the
pursuit of
pleasure in
literature or in
love making
• It is pursuing
“politics or the
materialism of
• It is the goal for
those who want to
fulfill their duties
with regard to their
• It is for those who
have grown tired of
the other pursuits
and want to be
released from the
wheel of life.
The Stages in Life
Where are you?
Four Stages of Life
For the Hindu there are four stages in life.
Brahmacarya or student.
Gârhastya or householder.
Vânaprastya or Renouncer or forest dweller.
Sannyâsa or seeker.
• This stage is
between 8 and 12
but no more than
24. He studies the
Vedas and he has a
sacred cord which
shows that he is a
member of one of
the 3 highest castes.
• At this stage a person is
around 25 and usually
married “he lives as close to
the ideals as he can.” He
tries to follow the rituals as
prescribed for householders
as closely as he can and he
tries not to harm other
creatures. “Above all he
tries to observe duties in
marriage, in his occupation
and in raising children.”
• He is a spiritual man who
observes his duties.
• This person renounces
everything including wife
and go to the forest; His
wife can follow him if he
desires. He leaves the
village and goes to live in
the wilderness. He offers
“the five great sacrifices
with various sorts of pure
food or hermits . . .”
• This person seeks
release (Samadhi)
of the soul so that it
can unite with
Brahman. This can
be done through
raya yoga where the
body is trained to
serve the soul.
• In Hindu tradition one desires to be
liberated from the cycle of birth and
death; samsara.
Paths to Salvation
• 1. The way of action (karma yoga)
• 2. The way of knowledge (jnana yoga)
• 3. The way of devotion (bhakti yoga)
• 4. The way of meditation (raja yoga)
Karma Yoga
• 1. karma yoga - the way of action
is the path of unselfish action.
One does one’s duty but not for
fear of punishment or hope of
reward. The right action is done
not for praise or blame. One
does an act because it is one’s
duty dharma not because other
people will praise you for it.
Duties for men and women are
prescribed. One performs the
appropriate rituals every day. A
person’s whole day is filled with
actions explained in the Vedas.
Jnana Yoga
• jnana yoga - the way of
knowledge is the path of
scriptural knowledge.
• A person’s ignorance keeps
one in illusion. If the
bondage of illusion can be
broken one can experience
liberation. One attempts to
identify with the universal
soul instead transient
material things or the world.
“Salvation lies in a person’s
recognizing that his or her
identity is ground not in the
world but in BrahmanAtman.” One will attach
oneself to a guru—someone
who is very knowledgeable
Bhakti Yoga
• Bhakti Yoga - the way of
devotion. It is the path
of devotion and it is
emphasized in the
Bhagavad Gita. One
serves a god
wholeheartedly with no
reservations. One
embraces god in love.
One commits oneself to
one of the Hindu gods.
Raja Yoga
• Raja Yoga - the Way
of Physical
Discipline. One
wants “to train the
physical body so
that the soul can be
free.” There are 8
steps to training the
The Eight Steps of Raja Yoga
• 1. Restraint - no killing,
lying, stealing,
unchastity, coveting
• 2. Spiritual Discipline calm, austerity, study,
devotion, purity
• 3. Posture (lotus best)
• 4. Controlled breathing
• 5. Withdrawal of the
senses from all
• 6. Concentration
• 7. Meditation
• 8. Union with god
Key Terms
• The most important concepts in the
Upanishads, which are still in Hinduism
today, are Brahman, Atman, maya,
karma and moksha.
• Brahman originally meant cosmic power
in the Vedic system. In the Upanishads
the word was expanded to mean “a
divine reality at the heart of things. To
know Brahman cannot be put in words.
Brahman is sat, reality itself; chit, pure
consciousness, and ananda, bliss.
Brahman is beyond time and space.
Relationship of the Gods
Brahman - Atman
Unity of Brahma
to Atman (soul)
aka Krishna
Hindu Deities
• The major gods.
• There are three major
gods, which are the
center of devotion
because they are
“interlinked with the
forces of creation,
preservation, and
destruction. The three
gods are Brahma,
Vishnu, and Shiva,
sometimes together
they are called the
Trimurti, which means
‘triple form.’”
• Brahma is the creative
force that made the
universe. Brahma is
usually worshiped
collectively along with
Vishnu and Shiva than
alone. He is depicted
as “ancient, thoughtful
king, with four faces
that look in all four
directions and four
• Vishnu is the force of
preservation in the
universe. He is thought
of light and warmth that
destroys darkness,
Vishnu grew in stature
until finally becoming a
major god of Hinduism.
He is associated with
loving-kindness and can
“appear on earth at
different times and
various physical forms
to help those in need.”
• Krishna is another
incarnation of
Vishnu and may
have started as the
object of fertility
• Shiva is linked with
“destruction and is the
most complicated of the
gods.” Shiva is
expressed as
threatening and
benevolent, creator but
destroyer, exuberant
dancer but austere yogi.
Shiva’s “creative energy
is symbolized or
manifested, sometimes
more abstractly and
sometimes more
explicitly, in sexual
Four Major Castes
• Some historians believe
that the Aryans were
responsible for the
caste system in India.
Four major caste
systems emerged.
Four Major Castes
• Brahmins - intellectual
and spiritual leaders,
priests - They perform
the Vedic rituals and
counsels. They are in
demands a cooks
because of the
association with fire and
sacrifice. Furthermore,
they can prepare food
for other castes as well
as their own.
• Kshatriya - warriornoble - has the role
of protecting society.
This is the traditional
caste of the
• Vaisyas – the
merchants, landowners,
moneylenders, and
sometimes artisans.
Males of the thee upper
castes receive a sacred
cord during a ceremony
in their youth and
afterward are called
• Shudras - the unskilled
laborers - do manual
labor and is expected to
serve the higher castes.
The origin probably
goes back the Aryan
subjection of native
people, who were
forced to do the work of
servants. The peasant
is called ‘once-born.’”
• mlechcha - outcastes, untouchables are considered so low as to be outside
the caste system. Untouchables do the
dirtiest work–cleaning toilets, sweeping
streets, collecting animal carcasses,
and tanning animal hides.
There is subcaste system which
developed over the years from the
simple four caste and is quite
large. Although the caste system
is outlawed it is still practiced to
some extent.
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