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Title: Hinduism

The Problem
  • What is Hinduism?
  • "There is in fact no system of doctrines, no
    teacher, or school of teaching, no single god
    that is accepted by all the Hindus."
  • (S.V. Kelkar, 1967, Encyclopedia of Religion and
    Ethics, 6712 )

The Problem
  • Frankly speaking, it is not possible to say
    definitely who is a Hindu and what is Hinduism.
    These questions have been considered again and
    again by eminent scholars, and so far no
    satisfactory answer has been given. Hinduism has
    within itself all types of religions such as
    theism, atheism, polytheism, Adwitism, Dwaitism,
    Saivism, Vaishnavism, and so forth. It contains
    nature worship, ancestor worship, animal worship,
    idol worship, demon worship, symbol worship, self
    worship, and the highest god worship. Its
    conflicting philosophies will confound any
    ordinary person. From barbarious practices and
    dark superstitions, up to the most mystic rites
    and sublime philosophies, there is place for all
    gradations and varieties in Hinduism.
  • (Swami Dharma Anand Theertha)

The Problem
  • "Hinduism is not a religion established by a
    single person. It is a growth of ideas, rituals
    and beliefs so comprehensive as to include
    anything between atheism and pantheism.
  • (Thomas, Hindu Religion, Customs and Manners, p.

The Problem
  • How far should we cast the net in defining
  • Some include
  • Brahmanism
  • Yoga
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism
  • Tibetan Tantric Religions

The Problem
  • There is not a single Hindu doctrine that is
    not contested by some Hindu religionists.
  • Hindus may be
  • Atheists
  • Monotheists
  • Pantheists
  • Polytheists

The Term
  • Hindustan and Hindus Possibly used by 12c
    Muslim invaders to refer to the people of the
    Indian subcontinent. Only a geographical term.
  • Portuguese colonists referred to the Hindus as
    Gentoos meaning gentiles or pagans.
  • The term Hinduism... was introduced in about
    1830 by British writers. (Hinduism,
    Encyclopedia Britannica, 20519)
  • Hinduism used to designate religions that
    originated in India and followed by the Indians.
  • Hinduism was an English invention that bracketed
    several distinct, mutually hostile religions into
    one umbrella. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma did
    not exist before the English, but was created by
    them in order to reward the Brahmins for loyal
    services during Anglo-Brahmin rule.

  • Long, long ago
  • Far, far away
  • Aryan Conquerors, Race and Hinduism
  • Two Interpretations
  • The Aryan invasion theory
  • The Continuous Vedic civilization theory

  • The Aryan Invasion Theory
  • Northern India was invaded and conquered by
    nomadic, light-skinned race of a people called
    aryans who supposedly descended from central
    Asia (or some unknown land) around 1500 BC, and
    destroyed an earlier more advanced civilization
    of people inhabiting the Indus Valley, and then
    imposed upon them their culture and language.
    These Indus Valley people were supposed to be
    dark skinned people of either Dravidian, Austrics
    or presently Shudra class peoples.

South Asia
Aryan Invaders
  • Seal from the city of Mohenjo-Daro

  • Origin of Aryan Race Theory
  • Max Muller, a German Indologist,created and
    popularized the Aryan racial theory mid 19th
    century. Later challenged by his peers, he
    changed his view and stated that Aryan meant
    only a linguistic family and never applied to a
  • His chronology was linked to his view that the
    earth was created at 4004 BC.
  • But the old view stuck and the theory continues
    to be taught today.
  • In Vedic Literature, the word Arya is nowhere
    defined in connection with either race or
    language. It can be translated gentleman,
    good-natured, righteous person, noble-man, may be
    used like sir.

  • Circa 1,500 BC An Aryan invasion?
  • Yes
  • Linguistic support North Indian languages are
    related to European languages (hence
  • Religious similarities with the Middle East
    (Hittite/Indo-Aryan gods)
  • Changes at this time evidenced in archeology
  • Introduction of cast system and other religious
  • Archeological evidence for a war

  • Pre-History Chronology of the Aryan Invasion

  • Aryan Invasion Pre-History Chronology
  • Pre 1500 A highly developed agrarian culture w/
    a system of writing.
  • Religion
  • Agricultural and nature worship
  • A mother goddess identified with the cow
  • A horned male god identified with the sacred bull
  • 1500 Aryan invasion
  • 1500-1000 BC Agricultural and nature worship
    gives way to the Aryan religion and deities.

  • 1500-1000 BC
  • Deities
  • Indra was king of the gods and supreme during the
    Vedic period
  • Vishnu was a sun god who later became the
  • Agni was a fire god
  • Varuna was a sky god
  • Soma was the god of drink or immortality
  • Rudra was a capricious mountain goat who later
    became Shiva the destroyer
  • Rituals included animal sacrifices to the gods

  • 1500-1000 BC
  • Society divided into castes (jati) according to
    the five fold division (varna lit. color)
  • Brahmins Priests and scholars
  • Kshatriyas Warriors and rulers
  • Vaishyas Farmers, Land owners, bankers,
  • Shudras Peasants and laborers
  • Untouchables or Panchamas Perform unclean tasks

  • No
  • Proposes the migration went the opposite
    direction North Indian culture and language
    went west to Iran and Mesopotamia (2000-1900 BC).
  • India may be the oldest, largest and most
    central, and most continuous of ancient cultures
  • Archeological evidence for an invasion
  • Nowhere in any of the ancient Indian scriptures
    or epics or Puranas, etc. is there any mention of
    Aryan migration or invasion or Aryan race.
  • Changes may be explained by indigenous social and
    cultural shifts, and natural disaster (floods,
    rivers drying up).

  • Continuous Vedic Pre-History Chronology

  • The Conclusion is
  • There is no certain conclusion.
  • My opinion
  • No Aryan race existed
  • Migrations may have been both directions
  • Some foreign lighter skinned race may have
    entered the Indus civilization and this accounts
    for certain significant religious and social
    shifts such as the case system.
  • The continuous Vedic pre-history chronology seems

Back to the Problem
  • How far do we cast the net?
  • For this study we will limit our description to
    Brahmanism and the religious expression under its

  • Some Primary Features
  • Authority of the Vedas in Religion and culture
  • Caste system and the primacy of Brahman caste
  • Doctrine of atman-brahman
  • Concepts of Istadevata and Trimurti
  • Doctrines of transmigration and karma
  • Ashramas the 4 stages of life
  • The six schools considered astik
  • Vedanta (70?)
  • Vaishnavism
  • Smarta Pantheism
  • Samkhya
  • Yoga
  • Mimamsa
  • Vaiseshika
  • Nyaya

  • In a 1966 ruling, the Supreme Court of India
    defined the Hindu faith as follows for legal
  • Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence as the
    highest authority in religious and philosophic
    matters and acceptance with reverence of Vedas by
    Hindu thinkers and philosophers as the sole
    foundation of Hindu philosophy.
  • Spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand
    and appreciate the opponent's point of view based
    on the realization that truth is many-sided.
  • Acceptance of great world rhythm-vast periods of
    creation, maintenance and dissolution follow each
    other in endless succession-by all six systems of
    Hindu philosophy.
  • Acceptance by all systems of Hindu philosophy of
    the belief in rebirth and pre-existence.
  • Recognition of the fact that the means or ways to
    salvation are many.
  • Realization of the truth that numbers of Gods to
    be worshiped may be large, yet there being Hindus
    who do not believe in the worshiping of idols.
  • Unlike other religions, or religious creeds,
    Hindu religion's not being tied down to any
    definite set of philosophic concepts, as such.

  • Short Written Assignment
  • Do an internet search on Brahmanism.
  • Make a list of opinions and attitudes toward
    Brahmanism. Clip a few short quotes. Note
    historical accounts and interpretations.
  • Type up your list single spaced. Not less than ½
    page, no more than one page.
  • We will discuss this assignment next class

  • Hinduism
  • Keep these questions in mind as you watch
  • Is there an ideological agenda that accounts for
    how this video was made?
  • What themes are emphasized? What topics get a
    lot of time?
  • How is Hinduism portrayed?

Texts The Four Vedas
  • The Rig-Veda (Praising Knowledge)
  • The earliest of the four Vedas.
  • It consists of 1017-1028 hymns (many intended for
    sacrificial rituals).
  • Identified with the Samhita and records a very
    early stage of Hinduism sometimes referred to as
    the 'Vedic' or Aryan stage thought to be tied to
    the pre-Zoroastrian Persian religion.
  • The Yajur-Veda
  • Focus on sacrifice and are associated with the
  • The Atharvaveda
  • Mainly composed by two clans of fire priests
    known as the Bhrigus (also called Atharvans) and
    Angirasas. Early in the Vedic period.
  • Concerns spells, incantations, medicine, rituals,
    warfare, philosophy.
  • Regarded by some as less authoritative.
  • The Samaveda
  • Holy Songs for recitation

Texts Vedic Development
  • Sanskrit

Vedas (Shruti)
  • The Basic Teachings of the Upanishads
  • The six great sayings (Mahavakyas)
  • "I am Brahman" The identity of the inmost
    consciousness of the individual with that of the
    supreme Divine.
  • "The Self is Brahman" It is the same Self in all
    beings that is the same Absolute truth.
  • "That thou art" Whatever we see or think about
    we are that.
  • "Intelligence is Brahman" Our inmost
    intelligence is that supreme intelligence through
    which we can merge into the Absolute.
  • "The Universe is Brahman" The entire universe is
    the Divine, which includes our self. It is one
    and all and all in one.
  • "He am I" This shows the identity of the self
    with the Divine Lord inherent within the natural
    movement of our breath. "So" is the natural sound
    of inhalation, "ham" of exhalation.

Post Vedic Texts Smriti What is fit, of human
  • Ramayana
  • 4th c BCE to 200 CE in Sanskrit from earlier oral
  • Epic story
  • Rama, Laksmana, Sita, Ravana, Hanuman
  • Mahabharata
  • 4th c BCE to 400 CE
  • Epic/historical
  • The appearance of Krishna - the 8th avataara
    (incarnation) of Vishnu

Post Vedic Texts
  • The Bhagavad Gita (Gita)
  • Literally Song of the Lord
  • Itihaas part of the Mahabharata. 
  • It is in the form of a dialogue between Krishna
    and the mighty Pandava warrior Arjuna.
  • Composed between the 5th and 2nd c BCE
  • the Bhagavad Gita a part of the epic poem
  • The Gita is considered by some Hindus the sacred
    text of the faith
  • The fundamental text of Yoga
  • Its central message is that one should discharge
    one's duty however hard and unpleasant it be
    bravely and with selfless dedication.

Post Vedic Scripture
  • The Puranas
  • Literally old
  • Mythology
  • Most of them attained their final form around
    1000 AD.
  • Various stories of the gods and goddesses, hymns,
    ancient history, cosmology, rules of life,
    rituals, instructions on spiritual knowledge.
  • Popular devotional texts
  • Primarily focus upon Shakti, Shiva, and Vishnu

  • 1,000-800 BC Priestly Hinduism
  • World Soul
  • Brahmins were considered to be the mouth of the
    World Soul or universal breath.
  • They made incantations and offered sacrifices
  • Offerings of ghee, grains, soma, animals
  • The Vedas, scriptures expressing Brahmanism were

The Brahmin
  • Hereditary priests
  • High value of ritual purity
  • Food, activities, contact, rituals
  • Specialists required by others to perform
    important rituals
  • Educated, philosophers
  • Religious, social, cultural control

How do you get 50 Brahmins in a taxi? Drop a coin
A Brahmin goes to the countryside. Astonished to
see a cow with no horns, he asks the Yadav, Why
does this cow have no horns ? The Yadav replies,
Some cows don't have horns because they never
get them, others lost them in fights, and others
do not get them because of some disease. This cow
does not have horns because its a horse.
A group of notorious robbers plan to extort some
money from a Brahmin by threatening to kidnap his
wife. They send a note to him which reads
"Pandoo, Pay us Rs. 20,000 or your wife will be
kidnapped." The robbers get the note returned
with the Brahmins' response "I won't pay you Rs.
20,000 but I am interested in your second
Priestly Hinduism
  • 1500 BCE 800 BCE
  • Ritualistic
  • Sacrifices
  • Rites of Passage
  • Festivals
  • Vedic gods Indra, Mitra, Rita, Vishnu, Rudra,
    Agni, Soma, etc.
  • Caste system established
  • Increasing power of the Brahmin priests

Hinduism as a way of life Sanatana Dharma
  • Sanatana eternal
  • Dharma religion
  • Duty, responsibility, ethics, natural law
  • Various expressions
  • Spiritual, Mystical, Philosophical, Ritual,

Philosophical Hinduism
  • 800-600 BCE
  • Shift from outward ritual to inward contemplation
  • The rishis Religious teachers who sought
    ultimate reality in meditation
  • Away from the 5 senses and what they reveal of
    infinite and ultimate reality.
  • Words without meaning (the ritual) were
    replaced with meaning without words.

Philosophical Hinduism
  • 800-600 BCE
  • Brahman
  • Brahman An undifferentiated Being that is all
    that exists
  • Manifestations Creation and gods/goddesses
  • Trimurti Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva
  • Atman Part of Brahman in each human

  • Brahma is the lord of creation, wisdom and
  • Brahma helps to increase productivity at work and
    in life. 
  • He rules destiny.
  • From Brahmas body come the four castes.
  • Consort Saraswati goddess of learning and
  • All creatures are the result of their union.

  • Vishnu is the preserver. He is the center, the
    cohesive point through which everything exists
  • The source of 10 incarnations including Rama,
    Krishna, Buddha
  • Consort Lakshmi the goddess of fortune and

  • Siva is the destroyer of the universe.
  • Patron saint of all yogis or sadus.
  • Represented by the linga (phallus) for male
    energy and reproduction.
  • Ganesh is one of the offspring of Shiva
  • Consort Parvati Shakti, Represents female
  • The union of the two represents life and

Other Important Deities
Philosophical Hinduism
  • In the beginning there was Existence alone One
    only, without a second. He, the One, thought to
    himself Let me be many, let me grow forth. Thus
    out of himself he projected the universe, and
    having projected out of himself the universe, he
    entered into every being. All that is has its
    self in him alone. Of all things he is the
    subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the
    Self. And that, THAT ART THOU.
  • Chandogya, Upanishad

Philosophical Hinduism
  • Samsara
  • No trace in the Vedas.
  • Samsara Wandering, The endless cycle of
    life, death, and rebirth. The wheel.
  • Moksha Liberation from samsara, freedom form
    time-space material existence.
  • Karma The law of cause and effect inherent in
  • Reincarnation The return of the soul, reborn as
    another human, the transmigration of the soul

  • Meanings
  • Action
  • The consequences of ones action present
    actions shape our future experiences and destiny.
  • Duty to ones place or station in life, caste.
    Support the caste system
  • Life is what one makes it.
  • The problem of evil and karma.
  • Karma is not judgment in the sense that a god is
    issuing rewards and punishment it is natural law

Legalistic Hinduism
  • 600-250 BC
  • The Code of Manu (circa 100 CE)
  • Manu Mythical ancestor of humanity
  • Revelation of the divine will for all people.
  • Legal code governing all aspects of life rule,
    diet, marriage, rituals, purification rites
    social laws, ethics, roles of men and women
  • Sanctioned the caste system affirming them
    inflexible and one may not change caste or marry
    outside of ones caste.

Legalistic Hinduism
  • The Four Stages of Life
  • The student
  • The householder
  • The hermit or retiree
  • The ascetic, sadhu, or sannyasin

Devotional Hinduism
  • 250-300 AD
  • Worship of a personal deity Response to the
    religion of an impersonal formless absolute
  • The two great epics and Puranas
  • Ramayana, Mahabharata
  • Stories of the gods
  • Theistic development and the concept of avatars

An avatar/avatara is a personal form of the
supreme being. Innumerable divine forms reside
in an eternal spiritual realm. When a personal
form of god (Brahman) descends from that higher
dimensional realm to the material world, he (or
she) is known as an incarnation, or avatara.
Avatars descend into this world for protection,
instruction and redemption.
Devotional Hinduism
  • Bhakti
  • The way of devotion
  • Intense devotion to a god or goddess,
    manifestation of Brahman
  • Puranas central
  • Krishna avatar of Vishnu

Devotional Hinduism
  • Chaitanya
  • Ascetic and social reformer of the early 16th
    century CE of West Bengal, India.
  • Later deified and is regarded as an avatara of
  • Regarded as Krishna although he posed as a
  • Teacher and example of devotion and love of God.
  • Krishna Bhakti and Hare Krishnas or Krishna

Devotional Hinduism
  • Principles of Krishna Bhakti
  • The Most Important Four
  • To associate with devotees
  • To chant the holy name of the Lord Sri Krishna
  • (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna KrishnaHare
    Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare)
  • To hear Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri
    Chaitanya Caritamrita
  • To live in a holy place such as Mathura or
  • To serve the Deity with great devotion

Devotional Hinduism
  • Shakti
  • Divine force or power for defeating demonic
    forces and restore balance
  • Feminine power
  • Every god has his shakti in the form of his
    consort Shiva Parvati, Vishnu - Lakshmi
  • Focus on a goddess, such as the great mother Kali
    or Durga (Maha Devi or Uma Devi )

  • Nanak (1469-1538) of West Punjab
  • The founder of the Sikh religion
  • Sikh disciple
  • Studied both Hinduism and Islam and founded a
    religion which combined both in order to bring
    harmony between the two.
  • One God, (under different names) almighty
    omnipresent and all encompassing
  • Karma and Rebirth.
  • Chanting Gods name, a life of purity and charity
    would lead to freedom from the cycle of birth and
  • Importance of the guru.

  • The Infinite
  • That thou art
  • Brahman
  • Nirguna Brahman without attributes
  • Saguna Brahman with attributes
  • Ishvara
  • Creation

  • The Infinite and Creation
  • Maya Something tricking
  • Illusion or unreality
  • The world of distinctions
  • Hinduism considers the world in which we live as
    a  projection of God and unreal. It is unreal not
    because it does not exist, but because it is
    unstable, impermanent, unreliable and illusory.
    It is unreal because it hides the Truth and shows
    us things that lead to our ignorance. What is now
    is not what is next.
  • Lila The "divine play or manifestation of
    the world as Gods sport.

Three Paths
  • Three Paths to Moksha
  • 1. Jnana or Gyana Marga (c. 500 BC)
  • Listening to the sages and the scriptures
  • Practicing meditation by turning inward
  • Realizing the Atman-Brahman identity
  • Upanishads

Three Paths
  • 2. Kharma Marga (c. 1500 BC)
  • Involves the laws and rituals which are governed
    by the priests
  • One must perform ceremonies, sacrifices,
    pilgrimages, and other good actions without
    attachment or desire for their rewards

Three Paths
  • 3. Bhakti Marga (200 BC and 800 AD) is acquired
  • Personal worship and devotion to a god or goddess
  • Bhagavad Gita

Modern Period 750 AD-Present
  • Reformers
  • Vivekananda
  • Worlds Parliament of Religions (1893)
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Ahimsa nonviolence as the way of life
  • Radhakrishnan
  • Universal character of Hinduism

Encountering Hindus
  • Keep in mind
  • The claim to being a Hindu tells you little of
    the persons beliefs and practices. Explore
  • Expect some Hindus to deny some of the teachings
    and practices of other Hindus.
  • Hindus claim that Hinduism is inclusive, but this
    talk of tolerance is more rhetoric than real.
  • Be sensitive to and respect cultural practices,
    some of which are enforced by religious

Encountering Hindus
  • Communicating the gospel
  • Go beyond the need to Recognize Jesus as savior
  • Jesus as our exclusive savior.
  • Begin with God as creator and human
    accountability to him. God is the cornerstone of
    a biblical WV.
  • Be clear on sin and its consequences.
  • Speak of the victory over and freedom from
    capricious deities and spirits through Christ.
  • Demonstrate love and holiness.
  • View evangelism as a long term process.
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