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Introduction to the South Asian Context: Religious Background

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The Indus Valley civilization appears to have collapsed because natural ... 1600-1500 BCE: The Indo-European peoples move into the Indus Valley region. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to the South Asian Context: Religious Background


1
Introduction to the South Asian Context
Religious Background
  • Can one envision the sacred?
  • Darshana, envisioning the deity, is a central
    part of Medieval and Modern Hindu devotional
    worship (bhakti).
  • Yet the emphasis on bhakti is very different from
    the polytheistic ritualism of the Vedas and the
    philosophical reflections and bio-spiritual
    practices of the Upanishads of ancient India.

2
Stone sculpture of Shakti-Ganesha from the Temple
of the Sun (Orissa, Eastern India, 13th century
CE). The Elephant-headed Ganesha is considered
the god of the thresh-hold and of auspicious
beginnings.
3
Stone figure of Brahma (From Tamil Nadu, in
southern India Chola dynasty, around AD
1110-1150.) The creator god of the Vedas and
Upanishads.
4
  • The Vedas are among the worlds oldest religious
    texts. They are a collection of songs and prayers
    devoted to various gods.
  • The Vedic language is closely related to Old
    Persian and is the basis of classical Sanskrit.
    It is an Indo-European language related to Greek,
    Latin, and English!
  • Vedic civilization replaced an even earlier
    non-Indo-European civilization. Hinduism,
    Jainism, and Buddhism are thought to combine
    elements from both.

5
Indo-Aryan is an old term for Indo-European.
The peoples that moved from central Asia to Iran
and India called themselves aryas.
6
TIME LINE3200-1600 BCE Indus Valley
civilization grows along the Indus River in what
is now Pakistan. Two important sites are Harappa
and Mohenjo-Dara both cities show considerable
development.The Indus Valley civilization
appears to have collapsed because natural
disasters altered the course of the Indus
River.1600-1500 BCE The Indo-European peoples
move into the Indus Valley region.1600-1000 BCE
Early Vedic period of Indian civilization
unfolds.1000 BCE The Rig Veda, the first Vedic
literature.
7
  • 1000-600 BCE Late Vedic period, Indo-European
    peoples integrate with prior Indian cultures, and
    early caste system is formed.
  • 800-600 BCE The Brahmans, the priestly caste,
    emerge.
  • 800-500 BCE The Upanishads emerge the doctrines
    of rebirth and the transmigration of souls
    appear.563 BCE Gautama Siddharta Buddha is born
    in what is today Southern Nepal. Death in
    483.540 BCE Mahavira, the founder of Jainism,
    is born. He dies around 486.500-200 BCE India -
    The Mahabharata, which includes The Bhagavad
    Gita, emerges.

8
The Indus Valley Civilization is an advanced
pre-Indo-European civilization
9
Steatite seals from the Indus Valley (Harappa
Mohenjo-Daro, now Pakistan, from 2600 to 1900
BCE). These are some of the earliest evidence of
the use of symbols and script in South Asia.
10
  • Interested in Harappa / Indus Valley
    Civilization? (pictures, etc)
  • See http//www.harappa.com/

11
  • Themes
  • The mother goddess and the feminine play a
    central role in Indian religious life (from the
    Indus Valley mother goddess figurine to
    contemporary mother goddess devotion)
  • Three terracotta figures of mother goddesses
  • From Mohenjo-Daro, modern Pakistan, 3rd-2nd
    millennium BCE

12
The mother goddess and the feminine play a
central role in Indian religious life (from the
Indus Valley mother goddess figurine to
contemporary mother goddess devotion). Three
terracotta figures of mother goddesses (from
Mohenjo-Daro, modern Pakistan, 3rd-2nd millennium
BCE)
13
Schist figure of a matrika (mother goddess) from
Tanesara, Southern Rajasthan, in western
Indiamid-6th century CE. Note Greek influence.
14
The mother goddess is maternal but also
protectiveStone sculpture of Durga (Orissa, in
eastern India, 13th century CE_ defeating the
buffalo-demon Mahisha
15
But also potentially dangerous and
destructive! Sandstone figure of Chamunda The
fierce, protective eight-armed mother (from
Orissa, eastern India, 9th century CE)
16
A number of deities express different
characteristics of the sacred such as this
bronze figure of Natarajalord of the danceShiva
dancing in a ring of fire representing creation
and destruction (from Tamil Nadu, southern India,
Chola dynasty, around 1100 CE).
17
Shiva is often represented by a shaft of fire or
linga. Stone statue of Shiva as Lingodbhava (from
Tamil Nadu, Chola dynasty, around 900 CE) Shiva
appears from a column of fire and declares his
supremacy over Brahma and Vishnu
18
Stele with a standing figure of Vishnu, the world
preserver (from Bengal, eastern India, Pala
dynasty, 12th century CE)
19
Vishnu, as world preserver, takes on an
incarnation or avatar in order to save humanity.
  • His avatars include Rama, Krishna, and even the
    Buddha!
  • (Buddhism is considered nastika, an unorthodox
    offshoot of Hinduism)

20
Buddhist and Jain art and philosophy deeply
influenced Indian culture, including Hinduism
itself.Buddhist art began with portrayals of
the Buddhas footprint and developed to cover
various aspects of his life and teachings
21
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22
Mathura, founder or continuer of Jainism
23
Buddhism spread throughout India and beyond
during the reign of the Emperor Asoka (circa
299-237 BCE).Some of Asokas edicts have
survived, seehttp//www.cs.colostate.edu/malaiy
a/ashoka.html
24
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25
Rama and Krishna Rama on Hanuman fighting Ravana
(painting on paper from Tanjore or Trichinopoly,
Tamil Nadu,1820 CE). Rama, the hero of the epic
Ramayana, defeats the ten-headed demon Ravana
26
Javanese rod puppet of Indra and Balinese
sculpture of Rama riding Garuda (from the
Ramayana)
27
Although Rama is Indias greatest hero, Krishna
is its most beloved devotional deity
  • A Rajput king worshipping Krishna, playing the
    flute,
  • a painting on paper
  • From Mewar, Rajasthan, IndiaAround AD 1690-1700

28
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29
Krishnas character reflects the absolute
playfulness of the divine power. Krishna is a
figure of maternal devotion (as baby), of
devotional love (as lover of the gopis and Radha)
and of the absolute devotion to God in the
Bhagavad-Gita (in which he is revealed as an
avatar of Vishnu).
30
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna explains that he
will respond to anyone who approaches him in
devotion, whether it is devotion through
knowledge, yoga, prayer, or worship
31
  • Hindu devotion has continued and even flourished
    in India despite centuries of Muslim and British
    occupation and the contemporary Western
    influences.
  • Two women worship Shiva in a lotus-filled lake,
    an album painting in gouache on paper
  • Probably Amber, Rajasthan, IndiaSub-Imperial
    Mughal style,
  • around 1610 CE

32
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