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Indian Civilization

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Robert Crisp

on 28 May 2015

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Transcript of Indian Civilization

Indian Civilization
India is one of the world's oldest civilizations, and Hinduism is the oldest surviving religion in India. We'll study Hinduism, Buddhism, and the contributions India has made to the world in terms of music and art.
Some Basic Facts about India:
India is the second most populous country in the world, with over 1.21 billion people (according to the 2011 census).

This means India contains 17.5% of the world's population.

72% of India's population lives in villages.

India is the birthplace of two major religions: Hinduism and Buddhism.
Shiva, one of the many deities Hindu may choose to worship
India has the world's fourth most powerful army.

India is one of four nations to possess nuclear weapons that did not participate in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The other nations are Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.

India and Pakistan have a strained relationship, monitored closely by the rest of the world. Both possess nuclear weapons.
Indian film and music are hugely influential.
"Bollywood" is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centers of film production in the world. Indian music influenced The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and many others.
Bollywood dance number
George Harrison of the Beatles was heavily influenced by Indian music.
Despite its history and culture, poverty is widespread in India, with the nation estimated to have a third of the world's poor. According to a 2010 World Bank estimate, about 30% of the total Indian population falls below the international poverty line of a US dollar a day.
A slum in Mumbai
The Vedic Period
India was originally home to
Aryans
, who invaded the Indus Valley between 2000 and 1500 BCE, wiping out the Sindhi people. Their religion was "arya-dharma" (the "Aryan way of life"). Though Hinduism would change and grow, it can still trace its roots to this period, often referred to as the Vedic Period.

The Vedic Period was the time in which the
Vedas,
the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed.

The ancient writing known as
Sanskrit
also emerged during this period. It was the introduction of this language and the basics of a religion that would go on to fully form the religion of
Hinduism
.
Hinduism
Sanskrit
Why so many arms/legs/heads?
The addition of limbs and heads represents the
immense power of the gods and their omnipotence.
Ganesh
Ganesh is another very popular deity worshiped by Hindus. He represents success (or failure) and education. You might see statues of Ganesh in businesses.
Core Hindu Beliefs
As mentioned before, Hinduism is very complex, but there are some essential elements of the faith that most have historically agreed on. As with any religion, Hinduism has changed over the course of time, but the idea of reincarnation and karma are still central to the faithful. Not so essential any longer is the Hindu caste system, which we'll also discuss.
Karma
Dharma
Generally speaking, darhma refers to one's position and responsibilities in life. The principal of darhma was used to create India's caste system. Though officially banned in 1950, discrimination and violence toward the lower caste still occur.
India's Caste System
Classic Hindu Literature
Essentially, the Vedas are hymns and are the source material for practically
every future work, including the ones below.
Upanishads
The
Upanishads
are a collection of poems and prose that came after the Vedas. As a whole, the Upanishads are viewed as a culmination of sacred knowledge. Study of the Upanishads is not for the casual reader, as they are written by many different authors and don't offer a logical or coherent view of reality.
Ramayana
The
Ramayana
is arguably India's
most popular literary work and its oldest epic. The story's hero is
Rama
, who lived his whole life by the rules of dharma. His wife,
Sita
, is upheld as an example for all Indian women.
Mahabharata
The second oldest Indian epic is
the
Mahabharata
, which is the longest epic in world literature (seven times longer than the Odyssey and Iliad combined). In the Mahabharata is the poem called the
Bhagavad-Gita
.
Bhagavad-Gita
The
Bhagavad-Gita
is a dialogue between a warrior Arjuna and Lord Krishna, disguised as the warrior's charioteer. Arjuna looks at the ranks of an opposing army and sees members of his family and his friends. Dismayed, he lays down his weapons and refuses to fight, preferring to be killed instead. Lord Krishna, however, justifies Arjuna's fight, since a person's soul is immortal; he will not be killing his friends and family, just sending them to another incarnation. This is an important lesson for Hindu's because Arjuna is able to attain moksha through his path of devotion.
Buddhism
Like the previous religions we've discussed, Buddhism is a world-wide religion. Some don't think of Buddhism as a religion, since it doesn't claim any concept of God. Buddhism takes its name from the word Buddha ("enlightened one"), the title associated with the famous Buddhist leader Siddhartha Gautama. It's believed that the Buddha was born around 563 BCE. His teachings were based down orally until about the time Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome (44 BCE)..
Aspects of Buddhism
One central aspect of Buddhism is the
Middle Path
as advocated by the Buddha. The Middle Path says one shouldn't deprive oneself, nor should one indulge. Being moderate is best way.
The Middle Path
The Four Noble Truths
Buddhism depends on four essential truths, which are:

1. Life means suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

3. An end to suffering is attainable.

4. The way to end suffering is to take the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to the end of suffering, as it was laid out by Siddhartha Gautama. It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things.
Indian Music
Indian music is quite distinctive. Most people recognize it from the unique sound of the sitar, a lute-shaped instrument that has a particular "droning" sound. The sitar is the chief instrument in playing
ragas
, or compositions that reflect certain moods. Ragas are often associated with specific Hindu deities, as well as festivals and certain times of year.
Ravi Shankar
Perhaps one of the best known contemporary
Indian musicians, Ravi Shankar began playing the sitar at ten amassed a huge fan base. He died in 2012 at the age of 92.
Ravi Shankar and his daughter, Anoushka Shankar.
The End.
Go that way.
What a lovely day...
.
"You Are Sharing the Load!" This picture appeared in a German biology textbook. The image suggests that pure Germans shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of so-called "unfit births.”
Hinduism has no specific founder, though there have been and continue to be very influential Hindu leaders.

Hinduism is extremely complex with some estimating over 300 million deities. Some Hindus are monotheistic, others polytheistic, and some are even atheists. There is no set creed or dogma to follow, though Hindus are generally instructed to discover the nature of Brahman.
A typical altar in a Hindu home.
Brahman - Absolute Reality
For most Hindus,
Brahman
is God, and everything in creation is an emanation of Brahman. Brahman is present in living and non-living things, in the times and seasons, in the stars and planets. Therefore, all the different deities Hindus worship are reflections of Brahman.

Of the millions of deities in Hindus, three are generally the most respected:
Shiva,

Vishnu,
and
Brahma
.
Shiva - the Destroyer
Vishnu - the Preserver
Shiva
is the most popular of the three deities.
Shiva is a complex god, as he is god of death and
destruction but also the god of dance and reproduction. Shiva's consort, Parvati is likewise a mixture of good and bad.
Kali, one of the incarnations of Pavarti, with a chain of human heads
.
In contrast to Shiva,
Vishnu
is known as the preserver. Vishnu stands for love and kindness and is particularly interested in helping humanity. Followers of Vishnu believe he has appeared on Earth as different people or animals to help people. He has appeared as Lord Krishna, the Buddha, and will appear once more at the end of the world. Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, who represents wealth, luck, and political power. She is considered the most popular Hindu goddess in India.
Lord Vishnu
Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu's consort
Brahma - the Creator
The oldest of the three gods, belief in
Brahma
has been steadily declining. Nature and society come from Brahma, who is normally depicted with four faces. His consort is Sarasvati, who is associated with wisdom, knowledge, and culture.
Lord Ganesh
Reincarnation
Hindus generally believe in reincarnation as the way that one's soul (or
atman
) can be fully united with Brahman. Until one's atman truly discovers Brahman, it will be reborn in another form or body. The Hindu term for reincarnation is
samsara.
There is no limit to the number of times one can be reincarnated.
One's ultimate goal is to break the life/death cycle of
samsara
. The breaking of the cycle is called
moksha
. One can move closer toward moksha by creating good karma for oneself. For Hindus, karma is a very real thing which determines not only your next life, but what social status to which you'll be born.
One characteristic that distinguishes Hinduism from other religions is its caste system. The system eventually grew to contain 3,000 castes and 2,500 subcastes, each relating to a specific job. The different castes fall under four basic categories:

Brahmins
--priests
Kshatryas
--warriors (currently lawyers, administers, and police)
Vaishyas
--traders
Shudras
--laborers
India's Untouchables
Below the Shudras are the
Dalits
, or the "untouchables." They are given the worst jobs imaginable, such as human waste removal.

Even today, Dalits are forced to live in separate settlements, prohibited from worshiping in temples, barred from using the village wells, and their children often denied education or made to sit in the back of the classroom.
Go that way.
Story of the Buddha
Siddhartha was born into a very wealthy family and seemed destined to live the life of a prince and then a king. Hindu priests told his father that if he remained in the palace and had no contact with the outside world, this would be so...but if he left and saw suffering, he would become a holy man. Siddhartha's father didn't want that for his son, so he took extreme measures to shield his son from reality. The following video picks up after that:
Quest for Truth
Siddhartha left the palace, abandoned his family, and set out to discover the meaning of life. He joined a group of monks who believed in extreme self-deprivation. As Siddhartha meditated, his health rapidly deteriorated, and he realized that denial of oneself would not lead to enlightenment. Despite the disapproval of the other monks, Siddhartha began to eat and drink again like a normal person and regained his health.
Depiction of the Siddhartha's self-mortification
A modern-day ascetic
Temptations
Siddhartha settled under a tree and resolved not to leave until he achieved enlightenment. During his meditation, he was tempted by the personification of evil named Mara who tried to prevent Siddhartha from attaining enlightenment. Siddhartha successfully resisted Mara and continued mediating. Siddhartha experienced fear, temptation, and self-doubt, but he successfully banished Mara.
Temptation of Siddhartha
Enlightenment
Siddhartha descended into deeper and deeper levels of meditation until he discovered the cause of suffering, the cycle of birth and rebirth, and a way to escape suffering. By morning, Siddhartha had been awakened. He was the Buddha.
Gathering of Disciples
The Buddha began spreading his new doctrine and attracted many followers (including his former wife, son, and father). The Buddha taught
dharma
, which is different from the Hindu concept. For the Buddha, dharma was the natural law as it pertained to human suffering and how to escape it.

By most accounts, The Buddha lived until he was 80. After his death, his followers wrote down the Buddha's teaching and agreed on a group of rules that governed early monasteries. By the end of the first century, two main branches of Buddhism had emerged:
Theravada
and
Mahayana
.
Theravada
Theravada Buddhism is the oldest school of Buddhism and the most orthodox. The central figure in this school of Buddhism is the monk, whose goal is to attain nirvana. To do so, one must renounce the world, enter monastic life, and spend his days reading and meditating. This branch of Buddhism is restricted to monks only.
Mahayana
Most followers of this branch of Buddhism believe in the eternal Buddha essence which was
embodied by the Buddha. They believe that anyone can attain enlightenment without the need of joining a monastery. They also believe in
the
bodhisattva
, or one who delays nirvana or chooses to be reborn in order to help others. These bodhisattvas are seen as saviors. In a way, this branch of Buddhism has a concept of God (the Buddha essence) and redeemers (bodhisattvas).
His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama of Tibet
is a bodhisattva. Follow him on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/#!/DalaiLama/
Gandhi
Monhandas Gandhi is an extremely important figure in India and on the world stage. Trained as a lawyer, Gandhi traveled to South Africa when he was twenty-four; he remained there twenty years fighting apartheid through non-violent means. During World War I, Gandhi returned to India to fight for Indian independence and for an end to the caste system. India gained independence in 1947, and he was assassinated nearly a year later as he knelt to pray.
Are Cows Sacred?
Yes. Everything about a cow is sacred. It's not uncommon to see a cow with a garland of flowers around its neck and its head anointed with oil. Cow urine and feces are often used in purification rituals. As Gandhi said, the cow "is the mother to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God."
I'm not a hamburger
The Bindi
You may have seen a colorful dot on the
forehead of some Indians. This is called a bindi,
and it can be seen as a mere decoration or can indicate marriage status. Married women wear a red bindi.
Lord Shiva
Lord Hanuman
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21574511-indias-lack-strategic-culture-hobbles-its-ambition-be-force-world-can-india
Music is also hugely popular in India.
In contrast to Shiva,
Vishnu
is known as the preserver. Vishnu stands for love and kindness and is particularly interested in helping humanity. Followers of Vishnu believe he has appeared on Earth as different people or animals to help people. He has appeared as Lord Krishna, the Buddha, and will appear once more at the end of the world. Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, who represents wealth, luck, and political power. She is considered the most popular Hindu goddess in India.
The oldest of the three gods, belief in
Brahma
has been steadily declining. Nature and society come from Brahma, who is normally depicted with four faces. His consort is Sarasvati, who is associated with wisdom, knowledge, and culture.
Core Hindu Beliefs
As mentioned before, Hinduism is very complex, but there are some essential elements of the faith that most have historically agreed on. As with any religion, Hinduism has changed over the course of time, but the idea of reincarnation and karma are still central to the faithful. Not so essential any longer is the Hindu caste system, which we'll also discuss.
Clip from an Indian television production of the Ramayana.
What is Suffering?
We can define suffering in many ways (physical ailments, loss of a loved one, addiction). One definition is "all suffering and dissatisfaction arises from the mistaken understanding that we are a separate and distinct self" (Tara Brach, from her book Radical Acceptance). This notion is throughout Buddhism, and it takes some getting used to.
The proper term for this is
anattā
, "or "not-self." These doesn't mean that you don't have a personality or that you don't have unique thoughts, but that what we call "self" is simply "an aggregate of familiar thoughts, emotions and patterns of behavior. The mind binds these together, creating a story about a personal, individual entity that has continuity through time" (Brach).

The Buddha called anattā one of the "
three marks of existence
," along with
impermanence (anicca)
and
dukkha (suffering)
.
What is Attachment?
Again, attachment can have a very simple definition: you can be attached to a lover, a kind of food, a sport's team. There's a more nuanced term, though, which is the Tibetan term
shenpa
, which means "hooked," According to the American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön:

"It’s an everyday experience. Even a spot on your new sweater can take you there. At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That’s the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us."
http://www.lionsroar.com/how-we-get-hooked-shenpa-and-how-we-get-unhooked/
Full transcript