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Hinduism 1


Important Hindu Religious Symbols Om or Aum Made of three Sanskrit letters ... Yajur Veda (10th ... would be perpetuated through the priestly class ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Hinduism 1

An Introduction to Hindu Religion and Culture
Important Hindu Religious Symbols
Om or Aum
  • Made of three Sanskrit letters Aa,
    Au, and Ma
  • When combined, they make the sound of AUM or
    Omthe most important symbol in Hinduism.
  • This symbol actually represents Brahman or the

  • Second in importance only to the OM
  • It is not a letter or syllable but a pictorial
    picture character in the shape of a cross which,
    when branches are bent at right angles and facing
    in a clockwise direction,represents the
    eternal nature of the Brahman.

Purnakumbha (Earthen Pot)
  • Full of water and with fresh mango leaves and a
    coconut atop itgenerally placed as the chief
    deity or by the side of the deity
  • The pot symbolizes mother earththe water-giver
    of lifethe leaves life, and the coconut divine

The Lotus
  • The holiest of flowers for the Hindu
  • The lotus is representative of the true soul of
    an individualalso a symbol of creation.

I. Generalizations of Indian Religion
A. It is complex and indefinableno creeds 1.
Indian religion is given to a functional
definition of religion and emphasizes
evolutionary change 2. Hinduism can be
considered more of a league of religions,
than a single religion 3. It seems not to
want any boundary around it.
  • B. It is a highly inclusive religious system.
  • 1. May believe anything or nothing
  • 2. Room for all types of souls
  • C. It is a system of rationalism and esoteric
  • 1. One must go to the wisdom of the ages, a
    metaphysical view of history.
  • 2. Ultimately all is question of knowledge.
  • 3. Sin is delusion, maya is sin or delusion.

  • D. By Tradition it is ethnic-centered
  • 1. To be Indian is to be Hindu
  • 2. It is a nationalistic religion

  • E. Spirit of Indian Philosophy
  • 1. Chief mark is its concentration upon the
  • 2. Intimate relationship of philosophy and
    life, practical applications of philosophy to
    life Truth must be lived.
  • 3. Has introspective attitude and introspective
    approach to reality.
  • 4. Most philosophies idealistic
  • 5. Requires extensive use of reason, but
    intuition is accepted as the only method through
    which ultimate truth can be known
  • 6. Stresses Sruti, or acceptance of authority

II. Strands of Indian Religion
  • Understanding the development of literature helps
    to understand the historical development.
  • Each piece of writing over-shadows another piece.
  • Each culture is produced by its religious
  • The oldest document represents mixture of thought
    of the invading Aryans.

  • B. Word darsana, usually translated
    philosophy, in Sanskrit means seeing or
    experiencingall systems follow in two main
  • 1. astikathe orthodox
  • 2. nastikaBuddhism and Jainism, which reject
    the authority of the Vedas

  • C. Divisions of Hindu thought through its
  • 1. Vedic period2500-600 BCE
  • 2. Epic period600 BCE-200 CE, also the
    beginning of the rival schools development of
    bhakti, Gita, beginning of 6 darsanas
  • 3. Sutra period200 CEsystematic treatises
    of the various schools were written
  • 4. Scholastic period--?-1700 CE, commentators
    on the Sutras

a Rishi
  • D. Historical Development of Indian Thought
  • 1. Brahmanism-Vedic period2500-500 BCE
  • a. Pre-Aryan2500-1500 BCE
  • (1) Earliest religious thought is deduced
    from archaeological evidence through
    seals, figurines and other such artifacts.

(2) Pre-Aryan or Dravidian culture is known
through ruins of two cities, Harappa and
Mohenjodaro, which seemed preoccupied with
fertility symbols (figurines of pregnant
females, stone phallic symbols) which seem to
suggest worship of the Mother Goddess and
the worship of a divinity similar to Shiva
usually associated with a bull often
represented as a phallic symbol. Some seals
point to religious motifs found in Mesopotamia,
such as the Gilgamesh legend.
b. Aryanism1500-500 BCE
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Harrappan Artifacts
Male Head
Mohenjodaro Great Bath
Mohenjodaro Street
  • The Indo-Aryans (Europeans)

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  • I. Early History
  • A. Around 2000 BCE a series of migrations began
    from the area north of the Black Sea
  • B. The settlers eventually covering most of
    Europe, the Northern part of the Near East and
    the Indian sub continent
  • C. The study of this migration beginning with a
    study of the Indo-Aryan languagesfrom the
    ancient Sanskrit to languages of modern Europe

  • D. Early Indo-European mythology
  • 1. According to some scholars these early
    people would reject the more popular sky-god in
    favor of a tripartite division of divine
    powerwhich would in turn reflect the social
    structures of the people
  • a. A magical-legal function
  • b. A warrior function
  • c. The various functions surrounding

  • 2. This tripartite division would lead to
    an emphasis of three main deities
  • a. There seems to be a tendency to divide
    the function between two deities
  • (1) One deity would be threatening and
    indifferent to the fate of humanity
  • (2) One deity would be concerned with
    the proper ordering of human life and

  • b. The warrior deity is one of ambiguity
  • (1) As a warrior he must be great in battle
    in order to protect society and the cosmos
  • (2) But as a result of his victory his rage
    may be turned on creation itself and must be
    placated by sacrifice and ritual
  • 3. The theme is found in the mythologies
    of the Indo-Aryans with some variations

Vedic Gods and Goddesses
  • Earliest evidence for Indo-Aryan mythology comes
    from the Rig-Veda, written at the end of the 2nd
    century BCE by the Aryans who invaded northern


  • I. He is lord of the heavens the most popular
    and powerful of the Vedic deities
  • II. He rides a white elephant called Airavata
    and has the power to control lightening

  • IV. He had many battles with demons the most
    famous was the slaying of Vrtasura
  • A. He killed the demon of the dark skies
    (clouds) with his weapon (lightening)
  • B. He released the cows (waters) that were
    held in captivity by the demon

  • V. Prone to drinking soma which caused him to
    lose control of himself
  • VI. He is more like a king of the earth than
    the heavens
  • VII. In the Kena Upanishad we read that he was
    the only god to have gone nearest to Brahman and
    was to know Him as Brahmanthis gave him the
    right to become the rulers of heavens

  • VIII. He is usually shown with four arms and
    riding on a white elephant
  • IX. He is sometimes shown with his wife,
  • X. With the emergence of devotional Saivism and
    Bhagavatism his importance declined

  • XI. Some scholars believe that he prefigures

  • I. There are signs that he is an omniscient,
    omnipresent, omnipotent, and compassionate God
  • II. He is also a precursor of Brahman
  • III. He is the ruler of the world order (rita)

Rama Varuna
  • IV. He is the supreme God who controls justice
  • V. He has innumerable spies (rays of
    light)thus he knows what goes on all over the
  • VI. He lost much of his importance as Indra
    became more prominenthe was relegated to the
    position of a dikpala or ruler of a quarter
    (western hemisphere) and lord of the oceans and

  • VII. He is usually depicted as the rider of a
    chariot drawn by seven swans and has four hands
    and an umbrella over his headsuggesting his
    lordship over aquatic life

  • I. The chosen Priest, God, minister of
    sacrifice, the hortar, who lavishes wealth and
    dispels the darkness
  • II. He is appointed by Manu as the priest
  • III. Often invoked along with Indra, with whom
    he shares the passion for soma drink

  • IV. Agni was the earliest Angiras, a Seer
  • V. Aryans were aware of his destructive
    ability, as he sets the forests aflame
  • VI. In images, he is depicted with two heads,
    long flowing hair, a pot belly, six eyes, seven
    hands, four horns, and three legs.

  • VII. His seven hands represent the seven flames
    and the three legs represent the three worlds
    which he reigns the pot belly denotes his love
    for rich oily food
  • VIII. His vehicle is the Ram

  • IX. As the fire god, Agni he consumes the
    sacrifice and, as priest, presents it to the gods
  • X. He is also the element that binds together
    the three worlds, in heaven he is born over again
    as the sun, in the atmosphere he is kindled by
    the waters, on earth he is kindled by the hands
    of humanity

Rudra and Rudras
  • I. Rudra is a militant god of storms and
    lightening and a provider of medicines
  • II. He is a fierce looking god, well built and
    golden in color, with braided hair of firm
    limbs, multiform, strong, tawny who adorns
    himself with bright gold decorations

  • III. He wields the thunder bolt, bow and arrow,
    and sends down streaks of lightening shaking the
    worlds, making people nervous with fear
  • IV. Sometimes the hymns refer to not just one
    Rudra but a group of Rudras eleven in numbersome
    suggest this is a symbolic reference to the ten
    vital breaths

  • I. A god of the heavens, like Varuna
  • II. Together they uphold the law, causes the
    cows to stream, the plants to flourish, and send
    down the rain-flood
  • III. Both are adityas and often invoked together

  • IV. Mitra stirs men to action and sustains both
    earth and heaven
  • V. Mitra and Varuna are guardians of the world,
    who sit in a gold hued chariot from day break and
    behold the infinity

  • I. In the Rig Veda, he is a minor god, one of
    the adityas
  • II. Like the Vishnu of later days, he is a lover
    and protector of devotees in whose loved mansion
    all god loving creatures live happily.

  • III. He is a god of three strides who upholds
    the threefold existence, the earth, the heaven,
    and all living creatures

  • I. Usha is dawn, the daughter of the sky, lady
    of the light, who rouses all life
  • II. She is borned on a hundred chariots, she
    yokes her steed before the arrival of the sun and
    is never late

  • III. She brings not only light, but hope,
    happiness, riches, and all the good things
  • IV. She is a goddess of light and beauty, whom
    the Rishis of old time invoked for their
    protection and help

  • I. Soma is the god of inspiration, the
    intoxicant who stirs the minds, lures the gods
    and brings them to the place of worship
  • II. One of the most popular of the Rigvedic
    hymns, the entire 9th Mandala is dedicated to him

  • III. Also known as the Lord of the speech
    (Vachspati), because of his intoxicating
    influence on the movement of speech

  • I. Twin deities who origins is shrouded in myth
  • II. They have healing and curative powers
  • III. They are said to descent to earth three
    times a day to help humankind with their
    restorative and curative powers

  • I. They are powerful and destructive storm
    gods, who lash the world from end to end, make
    the mountains rock, rend the forest-kings apart,
    make the earth tremble and drench the earth with
    heavy rains
  • II. Considered to be the progeny of Rudra

  • I. He is the rhythmic pattern of the
    universethe orderly way in which the world
    regulates itself
  • II. He determines the usual paths by which the
    heavenly objects, the sun, the moon, the stars,
    the nine planets, conduct themselv

  • I. Yama is the god of justice and ruler of the
    dead and departed who go the region of hell
  • II. Two fierce dogs with four eyes and wide
    nostrils, look on men and guard the pathway the
    leads the world of Yama

  • III. He is the master of knowledge and taught
    young Nachiketa the secrets of Brahman, fire
    sacrifice, and immortality
  • IV. His image is shown as riding a he-buffalo,
    carrying a mace as his weapon and holding a
    noose, using the noose to drag the deceased
    beings to the hells

  • Varuna, Vishnu, and Mitre plus a number of
    minor deities are referred to as
    Adityaschildren of the boundless goddess Aditi
    (ancient mother-earth?)

  • The Danavas were the children of Danu
    (restrainer) and were foes of the Adityas
  • a. The most important one being the great
    dragon Vritra
  • b. He would eventually be destroyed by Inda
    with his thunderboltthereby freeing the
    cosmic waters and making possible the creation

  • The mythologies will be in a constant flux over
    the centuries and some minor deities in the
    Rig-Veda will become important in later writings
  • 1 Prajapati would come to replace Varuna as
    arbiter of the cosmic order
  • a. By heating himself, Prajapati would
    bring into being the hierarchy of the universe
    through his sweat or semen
  • b. He would establish himself as the
    self-sacrifice that would be perpetuated
    through the priestly class

  • I. The Vedas show a ritualistic cult involving
    the sacrificial use of fire and an exhilarating
    drink called soma, as well as the rudiments of a
    social order
  • II. These gods are found to be somewhat
    parallel to other Indo- Aryan cultures, such as
    Iran and Greece
  • 3. The religion developed by the Aryans are
    found in the Vedas

  • III. Vedas are referred to as the
    Srutithat which heard or that of divine
  • A. Represents established knowledge, its
    final authority is accepted by all Hindus
    as eternal and revealed scripture
  • B. The earliest portion of the Vedas
    consists of four metrical hymns, known as
    the Samhitas

1. Rig-Veda
  • 1028 (arranged in 10 mandalas or circles)
  • hymns to the gods, shows optimism and enjoyment
    of the world, stresses humility to the gods
  • Written between 1500-900 BCE
  • Dominated by hymns praising the Aryan gods for
    giving them victorious and wealth plundered from
    the local Dasas through warfare
  • Hymns refer to the use of horses and chariots
    with spikes, spears, bows, arrows, and iron

  • Rig-Veda II206-8 refers to victory over the
    Dasa peoples
  • He, self-reliant, mighty and triumphant,,
  • brought low the dear head of the wicked
  • Inda, the Vritra-slayer, fort-destroyer,
  • scattered the Dasa hosts who dwelt in darkness.
  • For men hath he created earth and waters,
  • and ever helped the prayer of him who worships.
  • To him in might the Gods have ever yielded,
  • to Indra in the tumult of battle.
  • When in his arms they laid the bolt,,
  • he slaughtered the Dasyus
  • and cast down their forts of iron

Rig-Veda I11-5
I laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of
sacrifice Worthy is Agni
to be praised by living as by ancient seers
Through Agni man
obtaineth wealth, yes, plenty waxing day by day
Agni, the perfect
sacrifice, which though encompassest about
May Agni, sapient-minded
Priest, truthful, most gloriously great
  • The first indication of the cast system is
    contained in a hymn to Purushathe embodied human
    spirit, who is ¼ creature and ¾ eternal life in
  • Rig-Veda 1090

A thousand heads hath Purusa, a thousand eyes, a
thousand feet On every side pervading
earth he fills a space ten fingers wide
This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all
that is to be . . . . . . . . . . . When they
divided Purusa how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his
arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?

The Brahman was
his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the
Sudra was produced
Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye
the Sun had birth Indra and Agni from his mouth
were born, and Vayu from his breath
Rig-Veda 212
1. The god who had insight the moment he was
born, the first who protected the gods with his
power of thought, before whose breath the two
world-halves tremble as the greatness of his
manly powers.he, my people, is Inda
2. He who made fast
the tottering earth, who made still the quaking
mountains,who measured out and extended the
expanse of the air, who propped up the skyhe, my
people, is Indra
Rig-Veda 585
  1. For the emperor I will sing a splendid, deep
    prayer, one that will be dear to the famous
    Varuna who struck apart the earth and spread it
    beneath the sun as the priest who performs the
    slaughter spreads out the victims skin
  2. He stretched out the middle realm of space in the
    trees he laid victory in swift horses and milk
    in the dawn cows, intelligence in hearts and fire
    in the waters. Varuna placed the sun in the sky
    and Soma on the mountain

  • Creation Hymns

RV 10129There was neither non-existence nor
existence then there was neither in the realm
of space nor the sky which is beyond. What
stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was
there water, bottomlessly deep?

There was neither dead nor immortality
then. There was no distinguishing sign of night
or day. That one breathed, windless, by its own
impulse. Other than that there was nothing
beyond RV 10121 In the beginning the Golden
Embryo arose. Once he was born, he was the one
lord of creation. He held in place the earth and
the sky. Who is the god whom we should worship
with the oblation?

He who gives life, who gives strength, whose
command all the gods, his own, obey his shadow
is immortalityand death. Who is the god who we
should worship with the oblation?
  • The relationship between the various deities
    of Rig-Veda are not clear
  • (a) Each may be represented as the
    supreme god
  • (b) Indra stands out as the pre- eminent
    god of Rig-Veda, which recounts his deeds
  • (c) In terms of this tradition, creation
    proceeded when Indra, the champion of the
    celestial gods, slew a demon, Vrita, who
    enclosed the waters and the sun requisite for
    human life

  • (d) When Indra split open the belly of this
    demon the essentials of creationmoisture, heat,
    lightwere released and cosmic orderritawas
    established under administration of the god Varuna

  • 7. Gods and men had specific functions
    (vrata) to perform in accordance with this
    cosmic order
  • 8. After death individuals who had
    fulfilled their obligations under cosmic
    order went to a heavenly realm presided over
    by Yama, the first mortal
  • 9. Two mythological dogs guarded the
    righteous on the path to the region, but the
    sinful were fettered out, and unprotected,
    fell prey to various demons

  • 10. Cultic practices developed an
    elaborate ritual based on a fire sacrifice,
    personified as the god Agni, the crackling
    of the sacrificial fire was viewed as the
    voice of Agni
  • 11. The soma juice, personified by the god
    Soma, was used
  • 12. Importance was given to the chanting
    of hymns and invocations by the human

  • 13. Later the sacrifice was viewed
    cosmologically and the correct performance
    of the sacrifice possessed a magical potency
    which could coerce even the gods
  • (a) This magical power in the prayers
    developed into spells called brahman
  • (b) He who recited them was
  • prayer-er or brahman, or one related to
    prayer (brahmana)
  • (c) This principle would be used in the
    Upanishads as the ultimate principle

  • 2. Yajur Veda
  • (10th century BCE)
  • Sacred liturgy written in prose, sacrificial
    formulas. Caste system was in place and role of
    priests and their ceremonies gained influence and
    justified the Aryan ways to native workers
  • Yajur Veda has 2 collections called White and
    Blackthe latter being more obscure in its
  • By instituting more elaborate sacrifices for
    their wealthy patrons, the priests could grow
    both in numbers and wealth.
  • The horse sacrifice was one of the most
    famousnot done very oftenthe parts of the horse
    symbolized different aspects of the universe

  • The soma sacrifice was the most important and
    could last up to 12 years.
  • The priests placed themselves at the top of the
    caste system. After the Atharva Veda was
    accepted, each sacrifice required at least 4
    priests, one on each side of the fire using the
    Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, plus their

  • Yajur Veda 1.2.7
  • a. I buy Soma from thee, strong, rich in sap,
    full of force, overcoming the foe, the pure with
    the pure I buy, the bright with the bright, the
    immortal with the immortal, to match they cow.
  • b. With be the gold
  • c. Thou art the bodily form of penance,
    Prajatis kind, I buy (Soma) with the last
    offspring of thee that bast a thousandfold
  • d. With us be union with thee with me let thy
    weal wealth abide
  • e. With us be light, darkness be on the
  • f. Come as a friend to us, creating firm
  • g. Enter the right thigh of Indra, glad the
    glad, tender the tender.
  • h. O Svana, Bhraja, Anghari, Bambhari, Hasta,
    Suhasta, and Krcanu, here are your wages for
    Soma guard them, let them not fail you.

  • 3. Sama Vedas
  • Collections of chants sung by priests at
    sacrifice. These are considered to be the origin
    of Indian music The Sama Vedas helped to train
    the musicians and functioned as a hymnal for the
    religious rites
  • The animal sacrifices did not use the Sama chants.

  • Sama Veda, Book III, Chapter 1, Decade 1
  • 1. Let Soma juices make thee glad! Display thy
    bounty, Thunderer Drive off the enemies of
  • 2. Drink our libation, Lord of hymns! With
    streams of meath thou art bedweded Ye, Indra,
    glory is thy gift.
  • 3. Indra hath ever thought of you and tended
    you with care. The God, Heroic Indra, is not
  • 4. Let the drops pass within thee as the rivers
    flow into the sea O Indra, naught excelleth thee!
  • 5. Indra, the singers with high praise, Indra
    reciters with their lauds, Indra the choirs have
  • 6. May Indra give, to aid us wealth handy that
    rules the skilful ones! Yea, may the Strong give
    potent wealth.
  • 7. Verily, Indra, conquering all, drives even
    mighty fear away, For firm is he and swift to
  • 8. These songs with every draught we pour come,
    lover of the song, to thee As milch-kine hasten
    to their calves.
  • 9. Indra and Wishan will we call for friendship
    and prosperity, And for the wining of the spoil.
  • 10. O Indra, Vrita-slayer, naught is better,
    mighter than thou Verily there is none like thee!

  • 4. Atharva Veda
  • Magical formulas, spells, incantations, the most
    recent of the works
  • The bheshajani spells are for healing and cures
    using herbs to treat fever, leprosy, jaundice,
    and other diseases.
  • The abhichara spells were negative or bewitching
    spells and were used to cause diseases or harm to
  • Marriage ceremonies would be included (Atharva
    Veda 142-71
  • I am he, you are she.
  • I am song you are verse.
  • I am heaven you are earth
  • Let us two dwell together here
  • let us generate children

  • Artha Veda 1.23
  • Leprosy cured by a dark plant
  • 1. Born by night art thou, O plant, dark,
    black, sable. Do thou, that art rich in colour,
    stain this leprosy, and the gray spots!
  • 2. The leprosy and the gray spots drive away
    from heremay thy native colour settle upon
    theethe white spots cause to fly away!
  • 3. Sable is thy hiding place, sable thy
    dwelling-place, sable art thou, O plant drive
    away from here the speckled spots.
  • 4. The leprosy which has originated in the
    bones, and that which has originated in the body
    and upon the skin, the white mark begotten of
    corruption, I have destroyed with my charm.

Vedic Sacrifices
Characteristics of Vedic Ritual
  • I. There was no fixed place of worshipno
    temples or permanent structures were devoted to
    Vedic ritual
  • II. There is no evidence for icons or images
    representing gods or their attributes

  • III. Central focus of Vedic ritual is fire
  • IV. Principle and central act of almost all
    rituals is the offering of edible or drinkable
    substances into the fire
  • V. The rituals range from the simplest
    (Agnihorta or Fire offering to the twice daily
    offerings of milk and other products into the fire

Participants of the Ritual
  • I. The Ahitagni who actually causes the ritual
    to be performedknown as the yajamana or
  • II. He relies on a collection of priests who
    fall into four main groups

  • A. The priests of the Rig Veda, the Sama
    Veda, and the Yajur Veda are responsible for the
    three types of sacral utterance that together
    form the verbal sector of Vedic ritual
  • B. The chief priest represent the Rig Vedas
    is called the Hortar, in the Sama the Udgatar,
    that of the Yajur is the Adhvaryu

  • C. The representatives of the Atharva Veda is
    the Brahman who oversees the whole operation
  • III. A third set of presentatives is invisible
    (except for Soma and Agni) and are a selection of
    the gods

Types of Sacrifices
  • I. Haviryajnasdetermined by the rhythm of the
    year and movements of the sun and moon
  • II. Agnihortatwice daily offering of the fire
  • III. DarsapaurNamasathe new and full moon
    sacrifice involves offering every two weeks

  • IV. CaturmasyaniFour monthly or seasonal
  • V. AgrayaNafirst fruits offered at harvest
  • VI. Pasubandhaanimal sacrifice
  • VII. Asvamedhahorse sacrifice where a horse
    is slaughtered

  • (4) Commentaries on the Vedas include

  • (a) Brahmamanas
  • (Between 900 700 BCE)

Written in prose as sacerdotal commentaries on
the four Vedas to guide the practices of the
sacrifices and give explanations for the often
mythical and fanciful customs

They serve as a transition from the Vedas to the
Aranyakas and the more mystical Upanishads
They also contain
stories meant to explain or rationalize their
religious practices
The power of the WORD is
increasing as the sacrifices were glorified and
given power over the Vedic gods
  • Japa, or the practice of chanting a mantram like
    Aum (OM) practiced ascetically with the
    sacrifices were believed to produce all ones
  • Prajapti becomes more powerful and is said to
    have given birth to the gods and the demonshe
    would be the first to sacrifice and was also
    considered to be the sacrifice itself
  • He practiced tapas to create by the heat of his
    own efforts
  • Prajapati would later be replaced by Brahman
  • A belief in repeated lives through reincarnation
    is indicated in several passages

  • (b) Aranyakas
  • (600 BCE)
  • Forest texts, sages of the forest, collections of
    hidden truths elucidated
  • They were tacked on to the end of the Brahmanas
    only 3 are extant and share the names of the
    Brahmanas they follow
  • Texts were transitions between the Brahmanas and
    the Upanishadsthey discuss rites and magic
    contents but also early speculations which would
    later flower in the Upanishads
  • Emphasis is placed on knowledge human
    immortality identified with the soul (atman)

  • (c) Upanishads
  • Which were reactions against sacrificial system,
    very philosophical, stresses ultimate cosmic
    principle as Brahman
  • The term literally means those who sit
    nearimplies a seeker listening closely to the
    secret doctrines of a spiritual teacher.
  • There are over 200, but only 15 are mentioned by
    the philosopher Shankara (788-820) CE. They are
    considered Vedicthe rest were written later and
    are related to the Puranic worship of Shiva,
    Shakti, and Vishnu

  • The oldest and longest are the Brihad-Aranyaka
    and the Chandogya (7th century BCE)
  • The Brihad-Aranyaka has 3 Aranyaka chapters
    followed by six Upanishad chapters

The Principle Upanishads
  • The best known in English
  • Kena and Chandogya, attached to the Sama Vedas
  • Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandakya, attached to
    the Atharva Veda
  • Brihad-Aranyaka, attached to the Rig-Veda
  • Taittiriya, attached to the Black Yajur-Veda
  • Isha, attached to the 40th chapter of the

Doctrines of the Upanishads
  • 1. The primary message is that through
    meditation one can become aware that ones soul
    (atman) is one with all things
  • 2. The soul is identified with the real, the
    immortal, and the life-breath (prana), which is
    veiled by name and form (individuality)
  • 3. The principle of action (karma) is explained
    as one becomes good by good action, bad by bad
    action (Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 32-13)

  • 5. The soul is identified as being
    intelligent, dear, true, endless, blissful and
    stable. In the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad
    (39-26) the soul is said to be
  • . . .not this, not that
  • It is incomprehensible, for it is not
  • It is indestructible, for it is never destroyed.
  • It is unattached, for it does not attach itself.
  • It is unfettered it does not suffer it is not

  • 6. By stressing the meaning behind the ritual,
    the Upanishads would stress that there would be
    various levels of comprehension suited to
    different individual intellectual capacities and
    by identifying partially or by degrees two
    similar or dissimilar elements which will on
    further analysis or introspection reveal a

  • 7. This latter aspect helps to suggest that the
    dualism in the world is to some extent unreal
  • 1 The macrocosm is viewed universally as
    the brahman
  • 2 The microcosmic nature of the human
    soul is the atman
  • 3 Brahman is the only real and unchanging
  • 4 Brahman cannot really be defined
  • 5 The atman exists in the midst of the
    changes of the universe
  • 6 The atman exists in all things, animate
    and inanimate
  • 7 Beings differ in the degree to which
    Atman has come to be realized

  • 8. There is an evolution of a gradual
    uncovering or bringing to light of realization
    of atman. The atman is shown as being enclosed
    in a series of sheaths
  • a annamayathe self, the physical body
  • b pranamayathe vital principle, breath,
    which holds and vitalizes together the body
    and the mind. Life continues in this sheath
  • c manomayamanas, impressions through
    the senses
  • d uynanamayaintellect
  • e anandamayabliss, ego

  • 9. Upanishads identifies 3 stages of
  • 1 The Waking Stateawareness of things
    external to the body
  • 2 The Dreaming Stateawareness of internal
    phenomena and enjoying mental impressions,
    mind active though independently of the sense
    organs, pure mental beings
  • 3 The Deep Sleep State, entirely unaware
    of external and internal world
  • 4 Pure Consciousnessa fourth stage which
    transcends all states. Here the atman is fully
    realized it is the supreme mystical experience

  • 10. Liberation is achieved through 2 spiritual
  • 1 observation of moral of moral laws
  • a moral laws are accomplished through
  • b ultimate moral ideal of Upanishads is
    complete self-abnegation
  • 2 practice of meditation accomplished by
    hearing and reflection

  • 11. The relationship of Atman and Brahman can
    be found in the phrase Tat Tvam Asi thou art
    thatstressing a relationship and complete
    identify between Brahman and Atman
  • 12. There are 108 Upanishads with 10 them
    considered to be the most important
  • 1The words must be seen as spontaneous
    records of mystic experiences of the rishis,
    not a calculated logic or rational thinking
  • 2 The primary state to this mystic
    experience is the negation or denial of all
    external things

  • A. Dialogue with questions and answers
  • B. Narration and episodes
  • C. Similes, metaphors, and illustrations
  • D. Symbolism

Brahma Sutra indicates three main guidelines to
understand purpose of Upanishads
  • A. Tattu samanvayaah.htotal material available
    on the point of study in the entire Shruti
    literature has to be taken into account and
    interpreted correctly by applying canons of

  • B. Gati samaanyaah.hAll Shruti literature have
    the same purport and apparent contradictions are
    resolved by proper study and interpretation
  • C. Sarvavedoantapratyayam.hunderlying purport
    of Upanishads is found to be one of consistent
    truth, which when fully understood fully will
    lead to God-realization

Chandogya Upanishad
  • 1. It belongs to the Sama Veda and is the last
    8 chapters of the 10-chapter Chandogya Brahmana
  • 2. Religious life is described as having 3
  • a. Sacrifice, study of the Vedas, and giving
  • b. Austerity
  • c. Studying the sacred knowledge while living
    in the house of a teacher
  • 3. Reincarnation is clearly emphasized and
    declares that those who conduct is pleasant here
    will enter a pleasant womb of a Brahmin,
    Kshatriya, or Vaisya those of stinking conduct
    will enter the stinking womb of a dog, swine, or

Taittiriya Upanishad
  • 1. The word AUM is emphasizedprayers often end
    with AUM
  • 2. Peace of the soul is emphasizedprayers
    often end with the chanting of peace (shanti)
    three times
  • 3. Highest goal is to know Brahman

Aitareya Upanishad
  • 1. Begins with the one Spirit creating the
    universe out of its being. Out of the cosmic egg
    came speech, breath, eyes and sight, ears and
    hearing, skin, hair, and herbs from the navel
    and outbreath came death and from the organ of
    pleasure seed and waters were born
  • 2. Ascending from this world with the
    intelligent soul, one obtains all desires in a
    heavenly world, eventually immortality

Katha Upanishad
  • Belongs to Taittiriiya Shaakhas of the Krishna
    Yajur Veda

  • 1. Utilizes an ancient story from the RV about a
    father who gives his son Nachiketas to death
    (Yama) it brings in some of the highest
    teachings of mystical spirituality
  • 2. The chariot is used as a symbol for a person
  • a. The soul is the lord of the chariot, which
    is the body
  • b. Buddhi (intuition) is the chariot-driver
  • c. The mind is the reins
  • d. The senses are the horses
  • e. The paths are the objects of the senses

  • 3. Three boons asked by Nachiketas
  • a. Let my father be freed from anger towards
    me, let his calm by restored and let him
    recognize me when I return
  • b. Teach me the nature of the Supreme God
    Hari, also bearing the name of Agni, who can
    bestow the immortal world to t hose who worship
    Him by performing the Nachiketas sacrifice

  • c. Teach me the nature of the Supreme God,
    who controls the souls after and liberation

  • Thus, the whole of Vedic literature consists of
    four Vedas or Samhitas, several expository ritual
    texts attached to each of these Vedas, and
    speculative works, or Upanishads
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