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THEO 403 (Su '16) T13-15 - Hinduism (Part 1-3)

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by

Hartmut Scherer

on 19 July 2016

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Transcript of THEO 403 (Su '16) T13-15 - Hinduism (Part 1-3)

Hinduism
Origin:
- Circa 1500 B.C., religion of
the Aryans who invaded the
Indian subcontinent;
Essential beliefs and practices:
- The Vedas, followed by
the Upanishads (Vedanta)
Major contemporary divisions:
Scriptures:
- Monistic groups
Introduction
Summary
What is
Hinduism?

Religion as the Determinant of Social Behavior
- subsequent developments
- extremely diverse
- different conceptions of
deities
- emphasis on release from
the endless cycle of
reincarnation (samsara)
-
law of karma
(present actions
have consequences for the
next incarnation)
- Bhakti groups
Vaishnavites
Shaivites
Shaktites
Typical Hindu Temple (Sri Lanka)
- one of the oldest of world religions
- the most diverse
- includes many gods and features many paths
to salvation
Hinduism is
- a lot of people find this confusing
What is Hinduism?
What will help us to understand Hinduism?
- Hinduism is a religion with its own doctrine and
world-view philosophy
- Hindu people emphasize that it is not a religion
or a philosophy
- is a culture or a way of life
- it means:
“The Religion of India"
What is the minimum to qualify as a Hindu?
In order to qualify as “Hindu,” the person or religion has to
regard the Vedas (the early sacred writings)
accept the caste system
respect the veneration of the deities and spirits, including the protection of cows.
1
Title adopted from David S. Noss, A History of the World's Religions (Prentice Hall, 2003), VI.
1
Major Religions in Asia
3 Major
Phases

~1500 B.C.
200 B.C. and 800 A.D.
~500 B.C.
Three Ways of Salvation
The Way of
Works
The Way of
Knowledge
The Way of
Devotion
(Vedic Hinduism)
based on ritual and legal requirements
administered by Brahmins
( Vedantic)
ascetic and mystical path
focuses on devotion
to one’s own god
Also referred to as a
marga
("path") or a
yoga
(“discipline”)
Hindu
Temple Worship

- statues represent the spiritual beings
Statues in the Hindu temple
What is the order of a normal Hindu temple service (puja)?
- the
first
statue worshiped is always
the elephant-headed
Ganesha
- second may be the main god of the temple
Other religious observances
Hindu religious observances are highly varied
The Way
of Devotion

The Way of Knowledge
- the last of the
Vedas
(8th - 4th century B.C.)
- 13 "Principal" Upanishads accepted by all (total 108)
- not uniform or systematic
- beginnings of Hindu philosophy; present the way
of knowledge
The Upanishads
Brahman
- god, conceptualized as an impersonal,
all-pervasive being ("world-soul")
- infinite
- beyond all categories/human thoughts
-
Brahman is actually all there is
Maya
- not truly real (opposite of Brahman)
The Way
of Works

Their religion:
Aryan peoples migrated into the Indian subcontinent around 1500 B.C.
Early History of Hinduism
Scripture in Early Hinduism
- Vedas (earliest sacred writings)
Sharing
the Gospel

worship of one high god of the sky with fire offerings of animals
Key difference
to Iran:
no reform movement
Rig-Veda
Yajur-Veda
- contains songs for sacrifice
- oldest hymns deal with the gods of the
Indo-Aryans (recorded ~ 2000 B.C.)
- next stage -> old gods retreated and new
gods arose
- final stage (~1200 B.C.) -> hymns move from
polytheistic gods to cosmic speculations
Rig-Veda
Sama-Veda
Atharva-Veda
- mostly prose
- was meant to accompany the devotional
use of the Rig-Veda
- contains directions for sacrifice
Yajur-Veda
- contains magical spells
- addressed to the minor gods and spirits
that control everyday life
Atharva-Veda
- composed after the Rig-Veda was complete
- chanted to fixed melodies
- proper lyrics and music were essential
Sama-Veda
- melodies are passed on from priest to disciple
}
- orally composed
and handed down
- a spoken and heard
revelation (
Shruti
)
- become expert in one Veda
(for sacrifice)
The Brahmanas
- priestly commentaries on the Vedas
The Tradition of Vedic Chanting
- mark the high point of Hindu ritualism
- if rites are properly performed, one
acquires merit
- focus on the sacrifice itself
The Code of Manu
Why is the code of Manu important?
- reveals the duties of each individual
- approves the caste system
What are the castes?
Brahmins
Kshatryas
Vaishyas
Shudras
Workers/
common laborers
“twice born”
exist for the sake of the other three classes
(permitted to full participation in Hindu life)
Reincarnation (Samsara)
- Westerners view reincarnation
positive
What else supports the caste system?
Student learning Veda
- highly negative concept for
Hindus
- living again means suffering again
- best translated as “cause and effect”
Law of Karma
- concept of reincarnation does not
specify the rules
- No human being knows exactly
what will happen
- finding release from samsara
Goal of Hinduism
What is the human response to such uncertainty?
- suffer passively until the negative karma has
been worked off
Moksha (release from samsara)
- complete obedience to all of the ritual obligations
- total submission to the authority of the Brahmins
A person has to fulfill both conditions:
- moved from world-affirming to world-negating
-
seek a deeper spiritual reality
Who or what is Brahman?
- means “play” (related to the word magic)
- does not possess genuine reality
Examples:
- all physical objects
- all our feelings and thoughts
- religions, gods, worshiping gods
Where is Brahman?
- deep inside the human soul -> Atman ("true self")
- Atman is identical with Brahman
Goal: uncover one’s Atman-Brahman identity
- rigorous lifestyle of strict separation from the world
- live as a hermit, a
sannyasin
- liberation comes with
moksha
History
Bhagavad-Gita
- another way to accomplish Moksha
Bhakti
- roots of this way developed in 200 B.C.
- teaches full involvement in
life coupled with inner restraint
Some Hindus say:
- main development happened ~800 A.D.
How can anyone find release from samsara?
- sacrifice (the Vedic path)
- meditation (Upanishadic and ascetic path)
- action (the way of caste duty)
Core teaching:
- total devotion to one god is
sufficient for salvation
- rooted in Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord)
Brahman manifests itself as three gods
Brahma
Vishnu
- personal creator god
Brahma
Shiva
- the preserver
Vishnu (Vaishnavite devotion)
- the destroyer
- destroys the universe
Shiva
- many Bhakti Hindus recognize Shiva as the
highest god
- not a major Bhakti god
- Vaishnavite spirituality tends to
be gentle and calm
- most concerned with
maintaining the
Dharma
(duty, way of life)
- 10 avatars (incarnations of Vishnu)
-
Rama
and
Krishna

are main gods of
Vaishnavite devotion
Krishna Statue at the Sri Mariamman Temple
Hare-Krishna movement
1) Krishna is the supreme form of personal god
2) salvation can be obtained by continually chanting
the Krishna mantra
3) Bhagavad-gita is inspired scripture
4) followers must observe a life of pure devotion to god
(Krishna)
5) spreading the message of Krishna consciousness
- caring for the statue insures the favor of the god
- each Hindu temple is dedicated to one
particular god or goddess
- deity is housed in a special sanctuary,
the
Rajagopuram
- finally, all the gods in the temple receive
the same procedure
- then, worshipers pass their hands through the fire
and have their foreheads marked
Hindus are united by a set of
three obligations
debts to rishis
debts to the gods
debts to the ancestors
- Go slowly
Principles for sharing Christ with Hindus
- Show respect for their beliefs without compromise
- Do not assume just because you are not identical
in their culture they can't be reached.
- Always listen to their felt problems
- Young people are the most widely open
More principles:
- Focus on the person of Christ and a personal
relationship
- Allow for the intervention of the Holy Spirit
- Be careful not to overwhelm them with too
much too soon
Priests, scholars
Merchants, land owners
Warriors, rulers
Full transcript