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B576 – Hinduism 2
Sacred Writings
Candidates should have considered the nature of:
– the Vedas and Upanishads; the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita)
– and the Ramayana
There should be a consideration of the ways in which these texts are used and
shown respect by some Hindus.
The Vedas
These are the oldest scriptures in the world.
Revealed by God at the beginning of time for the benefit of
They were passed down through the Brahmins by word of mouth.
They are shruti texts.
The wise men heard the texts from Brahma.
The Structure of the Vedas
There are four Vedas:
Each consisting of four parts:
•The primary portion is the mantra or hymn section (Samhita).
• To this are appended ritualistic teachings (Brahmana) and
• theological sections (Aranyaka).
• Finally philosophical sections (Upanishads) are included.
The Upanishads
These are smirti texts (remembered truths).
Upanishad means to sit down near the guru.
They are only meant to be heard by a dedicated student.
They have survived for over 3000 years.
There are 13 major Upanishads teaching about :
– The inner self;
– Nature of Brahman;
– Origin of the universe;
– Ultimatre goal of liberation (Moksha) of Atman.
The Mahabharata
Smirti text – teachings remembered.
The first section of the Mahabharata states that it was Ganesh who, at the request of
Vyasa, wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation
It’s message is dharma (right action), artha (purpose), kama (pleasure), and
moksha (liberation).
It means Great epic of the Bharats.
The worlds longest Poem.
The Mahabharata is about a power struggle between good (the Pandavas) and
evil (the Kauravas).
The Kauravas attempted to murder the Pandavas because of jealousy.
The Pandavas escaped in time to the forest.
Arjuna married a princess.
The kingdom was split in two, the Pandavas would control one side, the Kauravas
the other.
The Pandavas were tricked into loosing their kingdom and exiled for 13 years.
On their return the Kauravas refused to give back their half – a war started
lasting 18 years. The Pandavas won.
• The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the
throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two
branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the
Kaurava and the Pandava.
• The Mahabharata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the
end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. It
also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali (Kali Yuga), the
fourth and final age of mankind, in which great values and noble
ideas have crumbled, and man is heading toward the complete
dissolution of right action, morality and virtue.
The Bhagavad Gita
This is a section of the Mahabharata.
It means Song of the Lord.
It deals with the preparation of Arjuna to fight his kin.
His charioteer gives spiritual advice (he is actually Krishna)
Devotion to God with complete surrender and trust is the highest form of
worship and a means to attain moksha.
Bhakti Yoga can achieve moksha.
The Gita also teaches of Karma yoga – the ability to fulfil dharma without the
desire for reward.
• The content of the Gita is the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking
place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra war.
• Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins,
Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and different Yogic and
Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies.
• This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology
and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life.
• During the conversation Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself
blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.
Smirti text – teachings remembered.
It tells of the story of Rama and Sita.
It teaches us the values of ideology, devotion, duty, relationships, dharma and
Rama, the prince of Ayodhya and his wife Sita are the ideal royal couple. Rama
is brave, wise and dutiful, and Sita is beautiful, generous and saintly.
While Rama is all set for coronation, his step-mother, Dasharatha’s second
wife, Kaikeyi, wants her son, Bharata, to become king. Before the aged king
could hand over his crown to his eldest son Rama, Dasaratha is destined to die.
And instead of being crowned king of Ayodhya, Rama is sent into exile in the
forest for fourteen year by an intrigue in the palace and a quirk of fate.
Rama goes to the forest, accompanied by wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, and
they live as recluses among the hermits that lead a life of meditative retreat in
the deep woods.
While Rama, his wife and brother are living a simple yet happy life in the
forest, tragedy strikes!
Sita is abducted by the demon king Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka, and
Rama’s pursuit to rescue her, aided by Lakshmana and the mighty monkeygeneral Hanuman.
Sita is held captive in the island as Ravana tries to persuade her to marry him.
Rama assembles an army of allies comprising mainly of monkeys under the brave
Hanuman. They attack Ravana’s army, and after a fierce battle, succeed in
killing the demon king and freeing Sita, reuniting her with Rama.
After fourteen years, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya and are warmly
welcomed back by the citizens of the kingdom, where they rule for many years,
and have two sons – Luv and Kush.
Teachers of Scripture
Likely to be older family member known for wisdom.
Might take time from work to seek advice from a Guru and then return
to work.
Studied scriptures and developed their spiritual
Some have set up ashrams for people to study at.
Individuals who leave worldly responsibilities behind.
They are wandering holy men.
The ways in which these texts are used and shown
respect by some Hindus:•
Hindus will wash before handling the scriptures to keep them clean.
Take particular importance in the 4th stage of life – the renunciation stage of
life, when many Hindus give up all life and study the scriptures.
Contain hymns and verses used in worship services.
Some of the stories are acted out at festivals.
Studying the scriptures in a path to moksha, Jnana yoga.
The Vedas are important because they take Hinduism back to its roots, and
contain sacred words used in ceremonies such as arti and at weddings and
They help Hindus feel that they belong to an ancient and eternal tradition.
The Upanishads are important in the guidance that they give for life, and the
ways in which they address philosophical issues.
The Priests had exclusive access to the Vedas and knew how to interpret them.
Scriptures play a prominent role in carrying out the Sacrifice.