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Review Test Notes

How people who identify as Hindus conceive to the divine

o The divine can be male and/or female, as it is incorrect to impose human
ideas of gender on the divine
o Different deities are particular popular in different regions, sometimes with
different names in different regions for figures assumed to be the same
o Some Hindus express devotion to whichever divine figure they consider to be
their favorite at that time
Narayanan explains that the concept of God, the most divine, is very
complex and individualistic as well as being regional for many Hindus
it is not right to limit the divine with human ideas of gender or number
Goal of the academic study of religion
o Analyze critically representations of religion
At UA the academic study of religion is not concerned with what
students or faculty believe or how that identify with religions. The
primary goal is to analyze critically the various representations of
religions to understand the selections made within those
representations and the interests that those selections serve.
Narayanan suggested that Hindu traditions may be 5000 years old. Assessment in
o Narayanans statement assumes the connection between today and 5000
years ago, but in class we discussed hot the term Hindu developed more
recently and has shifted in connotation
How does separation between the human and the divine typically function within
many conceptions labeled Hindu
o Often divisions between the human and the divine is not particularly distinct,
as demonstrated in both gurus and Vedanta philosophy
While conceptions can differ, most Hindus typically assert that the
division between the human and the divine is permeable. Vedanta
suggests humans are the universal spirit, and gurus can become defied
by their followers
Proper application of the label Hindu
o Some who identify with the Lingayat community associate caste
discrimination with Hinduism and thus identify themselves as non-Hindu
because they critique caste discrimination
o People who practice bhakti identify acts of devotion, including offerings
presented to images of the divine, as Hindu practices
o The Arya Samaj rejects the focus on images through offering food and other
substances, arguing that Hindu practice should rely on Vedic rituals such as
making offerings into a fire
Meaning for the term Israel that Ehrlich presents
o Israel refers to an ethnic group first recorded on a stela erected by the
Egyptian pharaoh Mernaptah between 1213-1203 BCE
o Israel was a name given to Jacob, grandson of Abraham, by God
o Israel was the name of one of the two ancient kingdoms of the Israelites,
specifically the northern kingdom destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE
Reading Numbers 9-14 suggests strong relationship between the Israelites and
their God
o A pillar of cloud leads them in the desert

o God became angry with the Israelites when they became dissatisfied with
Gods provision for them
o God provides food miraculously
Chapter on Judaism, Ehrlich discusses concept of Messiah and the contestation
over what aspects define the role of Messiah
o The diversity of beliefs among communities that identify as Jewish
From lecture- there is no one way to define a Jew; that the
identification of being Jewish has various permutation involving such
characteristics as belief, behavior, culture, location, and ethnicity
Which subgroup of Jews often dominates general conceptions of Judaism and
power within Israel
o Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi Jews have held significant power in Israel while other
subgroups sometimes have experienced discrimination there.
Ashkenazi conceptions of practices also frequently become the default
form of Jewish practice
Karma literally refers to action- what is the more specific application of that term
o Karma earlier referred to ritual action, but the application shifted to
emphasize that particular actins produce positive or negative results
rewards and punishments attached to various acts
According to Narayanans interpretation of Bhagavad Gita, how does Krishna
describe the path to liberation from the cycle of life and death
o The three ways to liberation include the ways of unselfish action, true
knowledge, and devotion
The Vedic passages differ considerable in style from the passages in the Hebrew
Bible, how can the Vedic style be characterized
o Poetic praise of particular divine figures
Although fewer people identify with Judaism textbook still classifies it as a world
religion, why?
o People who identify as Jews have spread around the world
o Elements of culture/society that people commonly identify as Jewish have
has significant historical influence
o People who identify culturally with Christianity and European civilization
constructed the concept of World Religions and recognized the connection
between their own heritage and Judaism; therefore they included what is
important to their own heritage as a world religion

Important Lecture Notes

What are the religions of the world?
o Judaism
o Christianity
o Islam
o Pagan
Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto

Judaism Chapter
o What difference does this anthropomorphism make? OVERGENERALIZATION
o Criteria for Ehrlich use for classifying Judaism as world religion
13 million people- smallest
Influence on Christianity and Islam
Dependent on where you are geographically
o Reflects the perspective of the people making the lists not the people/world
o Identification as a political act
Who is a Jew? ancestory, conceptions, practice (i.e. Jewish Atheist)
o Narrative of Jewish Ancestory
Who is primary? Jewish-Issac Muslim-Ishmel
Exodus- descendant od Abraham enslaved in Egypt and God brings the
out through Moses
10 commandments- Moses Lawgiver
Promised Land Caanan/Israal/Palestince
o How do we know this?
o Torah
Pentateuch (first 5 books of old testament)
Authorship uncertain
Tradition claims by Moses
Analysis of texts suggest compilation (probably after 586 BCE)
o Tanakh
Hebrew Bible (Christian Old-Testament)
Torah, Neviism, Ketavim
David and Solomon
Divided kingdom-Israel and Judah(much of Tanakh written by people
from Judah, therefore southern kingdom is portrayed as righteous)
Israel defeated 722 BCE

Judah defeated 586 BCE and temple destroyed by Assyrians

What happens when your temple is destroyed?
o Many exiled, for some it was punishment from God for
turning away
How do you maintain identity?
o Record stories
Because of this, the Torah developed
Some returned in 538 BCE and rebuilt temple (Jerusalem) ->now whos
form of Judaism?
o Destruction of 2nd temple 600 years later- never rebuilt
Romans in 20 CE
Shifts to Rabbinic Judaism develops out of ideas of pharacies
Individual practice study of the law
o Experience of Diaspora
Separation from temple
Final compilation of Torah 586 BCE
Established new practices to maintain distinction
o Treatment of the Torah
Kept arc at front facing Jerusalem
Dont touch it
o Talmud
Mishnah and Gemara
Rashi (11th Century)
Other commentaries (12-14th centuries)
Margin notes (16-18th centuries)
o Critical Analysis Question-who decided these peoples notes could go in?
o Oral Torah- because its just as important (authority/authenticity)
Handed down orally from Moses
Source for many laws-halakhah
Individual commandments (mitzvoth)
618 commandments
o Talmud Compilation
Vilina edition by Romm publishers from 1870s standard edition
Who is a Jew?
o Ancestory-ethnicity
Halakhah- mother Jewish
Israel Law of Return- expanded in 1970s (parent or grandparent)efforts to increase immigration back to the homeland
o Conceptions
o Practices
Lost Tribes of Israel Shavei
Who has the power to say what it means to convert and what is their motivation?
Experience in Israel
o Defining Jewish identity for law of return
o Defining Jewish identity for domestic laws within Israel
No civil marriage
Recognition of only orthodox rabbis
Jewish ancestry not Jewish religion

Internal Classification
o Ashkenazi (default)
o Sephardic (North African/Middle Eastern)
o Mizrahi middle east been there for centuries
Expressions of Difference
o Rosh Hosh- Jewish New Year
Internal Classification
o Attitude towards interpretation of Torah
Reform some things become optional (i.e. kosher laws)
Conservation- later, largely in US as an intermediate step between
reform and orthodox
Reconstructionist- more acceptance of a wide range
Hinduism Chapter
o Meaning of Hindu?
Geographic term- meaning land beyond the Indus River
Ethnic/cultural term
Religious identity (1800s)
o Origins of Hinduism
Oldest religion?
1500 BCE (oldest texts) vs 1800 CE (age of colonialism)
o Texts Identified as Hindu
That which is heard (Shruti)
Vedas not so much meaning as it is the sound
Use of vedas
o Foundation of Hinduism
o Power of Sound- Universe created by sound/ vibrations of
the universe
Hymns chanted regularly so the universe can be maintained
o Traditionally not know what they are saying-sound
o For you individually- guru teach you a different matra
Ritual prescriptions
Philosophical reflection
o Upanishads- not commentaries on hymns but developing
ideas on them
o Brahman- universal spirit- the self
That which is remembered significant how to live/devotion (Smirti)
Stories of deities
o Devi Mahatmiza
o Ramazana
Rama and his Court- golden age Hinduism-used to
argue against Muslims and Christians having power
in India

Instructional texts- life, drama, yoga

o Bhakti devotion
Personal deities
Individual vs. communal
Temple idol or murti
Home- more of a womans duty
Festivals (may happen in the home)
o Bhakti and Gurus
Revered teachers- become avenue to help you reach the divine
Connect to divine
For some no point in converting just be and follow spiritual path
in which you were born
How you get recognized as a guru- you have disciples that see you as
o Hinduisms?
Bhakti- one of the most popular ways to follow Hinduism
o Brahman is everything- you are the universal spirit
o Image worship distracting
o Meditation and intellectual reflection
Arya Samaj
o 19th century reform movement
o return to Vedas
o no images
o caste by ability
o womens education
Who is a Hindu?
o Geographic
o Ethnic
o Religious
Arya Samaj
In essence mutually opposed to each other- classification as a
political act
Hindutva Conceptions of Hinduisms- Prime minister of India
o Geographic designation of Hindu
Buddhism/Jainism/Sikhism as Hindu
Gandhian Conception of Hinduism
o Philosophical focus all to the same truth
o Truth
o Non-violence
o Tolerance
Common Conceptions of Hinduism- based on over generalization
o Vedas as foundational
o Brahmin (priests) reciting Vedas

o Bhakti with images

o Philosophy of Upanishads
o Tolerance
o Vegetarian/non-violence
Other Conceptions of Hinduism
o Absence of Vedic recitations
o Non-Brahmins serving images
o Localized deities
o Animal sacrifice and non-vegetarian consumption
o Non engaged with Upanishads
o Limits of tolerance experienced
Jati(passed on by birth-very traditional) and Varna
o Numerous Jati- sub-castes
Traditionally specific occupations
Often marriage within jati
effective kinship network
o regionally varied
o 4 Varnas
Outcastes untouchables - impure

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