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THE RELIGIONS of ASIA
Middle Central East Far East
East Asia Asia Asia
Indian
Religions
Hinduism
Buddhism
Jainism
Sikhism

Chinese
Religions
Daoism
Confucianism
Buddhism

Jap. Religions
Shinto
Buddhism
Confucianism
Relief Map of the Indian Subcontinent

Relief Map of the Indian Subcontinent


SANATANA DHARMA
Indian name for Hinduism: “the eternal religion”
• Sanatana: Sanskrit., “Eternal,” “timeless.”
• Dharma: Skt., “Law, duty, religion, truth,
and righteousness.”

Also called the:


Vaidika Dharma: the "Religion of the Vedas".
Sanskrit: The Sacred Language of the Hindu Scriptures
Sanskrit is
part of the
Indo-
European
language
group.
Samskrta =
“put
together,
“refined,”
also called
deve-bhasa,
“divine
language”
SANATANA DHARMA
Hindu: the Persian word for the Sanskrit name for
the Indus river, Sindhu, and refers to the people
living in that area. The term was originally used
by the Muslims about 1200 CE in order to
distinguish the faith of the people of India from
their own.
A FAMILY OF DIVERSE RELIGIOUS
TRADITIONS
“To talk of a single something called Hinduism can be
misleading, because of the great variety of customs,
forms of worship, gods, myths, philosophies, types of
ritual, movements, and styles of art and music
contained loosely within the bounds of the religion.
Some scholars would like to jettison the term. Yet in
modern times there is a much better defined sense
than before of what is in the Hindu tradition. It is as if
many Hinduisms had merged into one. It is now much
more like the trunk of a single mighty tree; but its past
is a tangle of most divergent roots.” (Ninian Smart,
Religions of Asia, 1993, p. 36)
A FAMILY OF DIVERSE RELIGIOUS
TRADITIONS
“The Indian Faiths comprehended under the term
Hinduism have an almost unlimited diversity. No
possibility exists of bringing them under one sum-
marizing phrase or of suggesting that they are in
agreement about what should be said and done in the
world. They are really not one religion, but rather a
family of religions. The term itself is of relatively recent
coinage, and was first used by outsider observers
looking on at what seemed to them a distinctive
religious and cultural complex. Modern Hindus have
become accustomed to using it themselves when
speaking or writing in English, but among themselves
they use the ancient word dharma (“way of life and
thought”). (David and John Noss, A History of the World’s Religions, 9th
ed., 1994, pp. 85-6)
A FAMILY OF DIVERSE RELIGIOUS
TRADITIONS
Legal Definition from India’s Supreme Court:
“(1) Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence;
(2) recognition of the fact that the means or
ways to salvation are diverse; (3) and the
realization of the truth that the number of Gods
to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the
distinguishing feature of the Hindu religion.”
(B. G. Tilak, quoted by the Indian Supreme
Court, 7/2/1995. The Court referred to this
definition as an “adequate and satisfactory
formula, Qtd. in Hinduism Today, 10/1998, p. 8)
HINDUISM: COMMON ELEMENTS
1. Reverence for the Vedas or scriptures.
2. Acceptance that the ways to salvation are
diverse.
3. Acceptance of many gods: However,
“Hinduism is “polysymbolic” not polytheistic.
4. Acceptance of the Atman or true self.
5. Acceptance of karma, samsara, & moksha
6. Until recently, nearly universal acceptance of
the caste or varna system.
Tere Ishq Nachaya (“Your Love has Made Me Dance Like
Mad”), by the Indian Sufi Bulleh Shah (1680-1757)
Your love has made me dance like mad
Falling in love with you was like taking a sip of poison.
Come my healer, forsaken, I am sad. Your love has made me dance like mad.

The sun has set, its flush only is left.


I’ll give my life for a glimpse of you.
My fault I came not when you bade. Your love has made me dance like mad.

Dissuade me not from the path of love. Who can hold the boats on the move?
Stupid, I joined the boatman’s squad. Your love has made me dance like mad.

A peacock calls in the grove of passion.


Its Qibla, It’s Kaaba where lives my love.
You asked not once after you stabbed.
Your love has made me dance like mad.
THE ATMAN or TRUE SELF
Atman: Skt., lit. “breath,” trans. as true self, or soul
Characteristics:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
THE ATMAN or TRUE SELF
Atman: Skt., lit. “breath,” trans. as true self, or soul
“THAT THOU ART”
“Bring hither a fig from the Nyagrodha tree.”
“Here is one, Sir."
“Divide it.” “It is divided, Sir.”
“What do you see there?”
“These seeds, almost infinitesimal, Sir”
“Of these, please divide one.” “It is divided, Sir.”
“What do you see there?” “Nothing at all, Sir.”
Then he said to him: “Verily, my dear, that subtle essence which
you do perceive there, out of that very essence this great
Nyagrodha tree arises.”
“Believe me, my dear. That which is the finest essence -- this
whole world has that as its self. That is Reality. That is Atman.
That thou art [Tat tvam asi]” (Chandogya Upanishad 6:12.1-3)
THE ATMAN or TRUE SELF
The Atman is Eternal
Atman, the Spirit of vision, is never born and
never dies. Before him there was nothing, and he
is One for evermore. Never-born and eternal,
beyond times gone or to come, he does not die
when the body dies. If the slayer thinks that he
kills, and if the slain thinks that he dies, neither
knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man
cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die.
Concealed in the heart of all beings is the Atman,
the Spirit, the Self; smaller than the smallest
atom, greater than the vast spaces. (Katha Upanishad
2:18-20)
THE ATMAN or TRUE SELF
Know the Atman as the Lord of a chariot; and the body
as the chariot itself. Know that reason is the charioteer;
and the mind indeed is the reins. The horses, they say,
are the senses; and their paths are the objects of
sense.... He who has not right understanding and whose
mind is never steady is not the ruler of his life, like a bad
driver with wild horses. But he who has right under-
standing and whose mind is ever steady is the ruler of
his life, like a good driver with
Well- trained horses....The
man whose chariot is driven
by reason, who watches and
holds the reins of his mind,
reaches the End of the
journey, the supreme
everlasting Spirit.
(Katha Upanishad 3: 3-6, 9)
THE ATMAN or TRUE SELF
In truth, it is not for the love a husband that a husband
is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the husband that
a husband is dear. It is not for the love of a wife that a
wife is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the wife that
a wife is dear. It is not for the love of children that
children are dear; but for the love of the Soul in children
that children are dear. . . . It is not for the love of religion
that religion is dear; but for the love of the Soul in
religion that religion is dear.... It is the Soul, the Spirit,
the Self, that must be seen and heard and have our
thoughts and meditation, O Maitreyi. When the Soul is
seen and heard, is thought upon and is known, then all
that is becomes known. Religion will abandon the man
who thinks that religion is apart from the Soul.... (Brihad-
Aranyaka Upanishad 2:4:5-6)
What did the guru say to the New
York City hot dog vendor?

“Make me one with everything!”


SAMSARA AND KARMA
SAMSARA AND KARMA
Accepted in India as the basic facts of existence by the
6th cent. BCE.

Karma / Karman, Sanskrit or Kamma, Pali (From the


verb root kr = “to act, do, or make,” also “deed,” or
“action”): the universal law of moral cause and effect
(like the law of gravity).

“The accumulated effect of deeds in lives, past and


present.” All the Indian systems of philosophy except the
Carvaka school accept the theory of karma.”
(Grimes, Concise Dict. of Indian Philosophy)

“No deed or action is without its consequences. Good


deeds are meritorious, while evil or sinful deeds have
painful effects.” (Rodrigues, Introducing Hinduism, p. 50)
KARMA
“Acts are spoken of as seeds, which
although they may lay dormant for
long periods of time, will germinate
and bear fruit under the appropriate
conditions. The fruits of karma may
be produced in this lifetime or in a
future incarnation.” (Rodrigues, Introducing
Hinduism, p. 51)

“The individual soul (jiva) carries


with it a subtle body that is the
vehicle for karma. As the jiva
transmigrates from one rebirth to the
next, it brings along its karmic
residue. (ibid., p. 51)
SAMSARA
Samsara (Skt., from the
verb root sr = “to flow” and
sam = “together” thus
flowing together,” often
translated as “passage”
from this life to the next):
the endless cycle of birth
and death, reincarnation
or transmigration.
Transmigration / Reincarnation of the Atman
'And as a caterpillar, after having reached the end of a
blade of grass, and after having made another approach (to
another blade), draws itself together towards it, thus does
this Self, after having thrown off this body and dispelled all
ignorance, and after making another approach (to another
body), draw himself together towards it.
'And as a goldsmith, taking a piece of gold, turns it into
another, newer and more beautiful shape, so does this Self,
after having thrown off this body and dispelled all ignorance,
make unto himself another, newer and more beautiful
shape, whether it be like the Fathers… or like the Devas…
or like Brahman, or like other beings.
'That Self is indeed Brahman, consisting of knowledge,
mind, life, sight, hearing, earth, water, wind, ether, light and
no light, desire and no desire, anger and no anger, right or
wrong, and all things. Now as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will
he be :a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad
acts, bad. He becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad
deeds. (Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad Part 3:4, 3-5)
SAMSARA AND KARMA
Transmigration / Reincarnation of the Atman
1. Those who are of pleasant conduct here -- the
prospect is, indeed, that they will enter a pleasant womb,
either the womb of a brahmin [priest], or the womb of a
ksatriya [warrior], or the womb of a vaisya [trader and
agriculturalist]. But those who are of stinking conduct
here -- the prospect is, indeed, that they will enter a
stinking womb, either the womb of a dog, or the womb of
a swine, of the womb of an outcast. (Chandogya Upanishad
5:10:7)

2. Samsara, the transmigration of life, takes place in


one's own mind. Let one therefore keep the mind pure,
for what a man thinks that he becomes: this is the
mystery of Eternity. . . . If men thought of God as much
as they think of the world, who would not attain
liberation? (Maitri Upanishad 6:34)
Transmigration / Reincarnation of the Atman
3. Accordingly as a man acts and walks in the path of
life, so he becomes. He that does good becomes
good; he that does evil becomes evil. By pure
actions he becomes pure; by evil actions he
becomes evil. (Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 4:4:5)

4. Even a flight in the air cannot free you from


suffering. After the deed which is evil has been
committed. Nor in the sky nor in the ocean’s middle,
nor if you hide in cracks in the mountains, can there
be found on this wide earth’s corner where Karma
does not catch up with the culprit.... The iron itself
creates rust, which slowly is bound to consume it.
The evil-doer by his own deeds is led to a life of
suffering. (Buddhism, Dharmapada Karmavarga 4:4-5, 8,19)
Transmigration / Reincarnation of the Atman
5. We must never forget that kamma is always
just -- it neither loves or hates, it does not reward
or punish, it is never angry, never pleased. It is
simply the law of cause and effect.
Kamma knows nothing about us. It does not
know us anymore than fire knows us when it
burns us. It is the nature of fire to burn, to give
out heat; and if we use it properly it gives us
light, cooks our food -- but if we use it wrongly it
burns our property.... It is foolish to grow angry
and blame the fire when it burns us because we
made a mistake. In this respect kamma is like
fire. (Burmese Buddhist philosopher Maha Thera U
Thittila, in The Path of the Buddha, 86-87)
THE FOUR MAJOR CASTES, OR
CLASSES (VARNAS)
Caste position is fixed at birth and the only way
to change caste is through death and rebirth.
Today, there are over 3000 castes and sub-
castes in India. "For the growth of the worlds,
Brahman created Brahmins, Kshatriyas,
Vaishyas and Shudras from his face, arms,
thighs and feet respectively." (The Code of Manu
1:31)
1. Brahmins: The priestly caste, the highest
ranked of the four castes. It includes philo-
sophers, artists, priests, teachers, and pro-
fessors.
THE FOUR MAJOR CASTES (cont.)
2. Kshatriyas: The caste of princes and
warriors, and the nobility. It includes political
leaders, bureaucrats, administrators, and
various professional classes such as
engineers, doctors and lawyers and other
"white collar" workers.
3. Vaishyas: The caste of skilled laborers
which includes farmers, merchants, crafts-
men, plumbers and other "blue collar"
workers.
THE FOUR MAJOR CASTES (cont.)
4. Shudras: The lowest of the four castes which
includes all unskilled laborers such as maids,
servants, gardeners, but also barbers. Referred
to as the "once-born“ whose purpose is to serve
the other three castes, the "twice-born."
a. Outcastes, untouchables: A subcaste of
the Shudras that includes all the so-called
"polluted" people who work with leather,
slaughter animals, and dispose of the dead
and all non-Hindus. Gandhi renamed them the
harijan ("God's people"), thus raising them to
the status of human beings.
BRAHMAN (Skt., “expansive”)
Characteristics:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
BRAHMAN (Skt., “expansive”)
1. "How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "One."
"Yes," said he (Sakalya), "which are those three
hundred and three, and those three thousand and
three?" He said: "Those are only their powers....”
"Which is the one god?" "Breathe," said he. They
call him Brahman, the Yon." (Brihad-Aranyaka
Upanishad 3:9:1)

2. In the beginning all was Brahman, One and infinite.


He is beyond north and south, and east and west,
and beyond what is above or below. His infinity is
everywhere. In him there is neither above, nor
across, nor below; and in him there is neither east
nor west. The Spirit supreme is immeasurable,
inapprehensible, beyond conception, never-born,
beyond reasoning, beyond thought. His vastness is
the vastness of space. (Maitri Upanishad 6:17)
BRAHMAN (cont.)
3. He is the God of forms infinite in whose glory
all things are, smaller than the smallest atom,
and yet the Creator of all, ever living in the
mystery of his creation. In the vision of this God
of love is everlasting peace. . . . The mind
cannot grasp him above, or below, or in the
space in between. With whom shall we compare
him whose glory is the whole universe? Far
beyond the range of vision, he cannot be seen
by mortal eyes; but he can be known by the
heart and the mind, and those who know him
attain immortality. (Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:13, 19-20)
BRAHMAN (cont.)
4. His form is not in the field of vision: no one sees him
with mortal eyes. He is seen by a pure heart and by a
mind and thoughts that are pure. Those who know
him attain life immortal. (Katha Upanishad 6:9)

5. May we know the Lord of lords, the King of kings,


the God of gods: God, the God of love, the Lord of
all. We cannot see how he works, or what are the
tools of his work. Nothing can be compared with him,
and how can anything be greater than he is? His
power is shown in infinite ways, and how great is his
work and wisdom! No one was before he was, and
no one has rule over him; because he is the source
of all, and he is also the ruler of all. (Svetasvatara
Upanishad 6: 7-9)
BRAHMAN (cont.)
He is self-luminous and more subtle than the smallest;
but in him rest all the worlds and their beings. He is the
everlasting Brahman, and he is the life and word and
mind. He is truth and life immortal. He is the goal to be
aimed at: attain that goal, O my son! Take the great bow
of the Upanishads and place in it an arrow sharp with
devotion. Draw the bow with concentration on him and
hit the centre of the mark, the same everlasting Spirit.
The bow is the sacred OM, and the arrow is our own
soul. Brahman is the mark of the arrow,
the aim of the soul. Even as an arrow
becomes one with the mark, let the
watchful soul be one in him.
(Mundaka Upanishad 2:2:2-4)
BRAHMAN: “expansive,” one supreme God

Saguna Brahman: Nirguna Brahman:


Personal God “with attributes,” Impersonal God “without
Brahman as Ishvara or “the attributes,” the Absolute,
Lord,” as the Immanent the Transcendent

Trimurti “3 images”

Brahma: Vishnu: Shiva:


The Creator The Preserver or The Destroyer or
(Sarasvati: Supreme Lord “Friendly One”
Goddess of (Lakshmi: Goddess (Parvati: “of the
wisdom) of fortune) Mountains”)
Vishnu: The Preserver
Avatar
“one who descends”

Rama: Krishna: 8 other


“the avatars
“the
dark one” including
pleasing one”
(Radha, the Buddha
(Sita, “furrow”)
“fortunate)
TRIMURTI:
Skt., “3 Images”
The 3 main
gods
• Brahma:
The creator
• Vishnu:
The preserver
• Shiva:
The destroyer
The Trimurti
Brahman is the Absolute, the supreme God:
There are 3 aspects to God:
G = Generator = Brahma, “the Creator”
O = Operator = Vishnu, “the Maintainer”
D = Destroyer = Shiva, “the Destroyer”
TRIMURTI:
Skt., “three Images”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-july-28-
2005/this-week-in-god---scientology
TRIMURTI:
Skt., “three
Images”
The Christian
Version of the
Trimurti?
The Trinitarian
Christ
How to Look
at an Image

A depiction of
Shiva, shakti,
and the lingam
and yoni.
How to Look at or Understand an Image
Questions?

Why do the Hindu gods look so


femine or androgynous?

Because, ultimately, the gods are


genderless, or beyond gender.
How to Look at
an Image
Shiva and Shakti

One way to indicate


that they are beyond
gender or
incorporate qualities
of both
How to Look at
an Image
Shiva and Shakti

One way to indicate


that they are beyond
gender or incorporate
qualities of both
How to Look
at an Image
Depictions of
Lord Shiva
How to Look at
an Image
Shiva Symbols
How to Look
at an Image
Jesus as the loving
Shepherd.
But Jesus was
never a shepherd
nor was he
European looking.
How to Look at an
Image
But Jesus was never
a shepherd nor was
he European looking.

Contempo-
rary
Swedish
Depiction of
Jesus
How to Look at
an Image
Forensic anthropo-
logical reconstruction
of how Jesus pro-
bably looked.
(Popular Mechanics, 12/2000, p. 69)
How to Look at
an Image
Jesus depicted as a
Confucian Sage at the
Last Supper and as a
Chinese boy helping
Joseph with carpentry.
How to Look at
an Image
Jesus depicted as
African and as
“Rasta-Christ”
How to Look
at an Image

Jesus
depicted as
Native
American
How to Look at an Image
Jesus depicted as a
Hindu god, meditating
guru & co-equal with
Shiva
Jesus: As an Avatar of Vishni
Brahma: the Creator
Saraswati:
Consort of Brahma
and goddess of
learning & the arts
Vishnu:
the
Preserver

Bringing into
being
Brahma the
Creator
Hindu
Gods:

Vishnu:
the
Preserver
Hindu
Gods:

Vishnu
and
Lakshmi
Hindu Gods:
Vishnu
Hindu Gods:

Shiva (Skt.,
“the kind one,”
or the friendly
one”): the god
of destruction
Hindu Gods:
Shiva: 3rd Eye
Hindu
Gods:

Shiva
Hindu Gods:
Kali: is also the
consort of Shiva
Hindu Gods:
Durga: is also the
consort of Shiva
and is often
called the Divine
Mother. She
depicts woman
as both strong
and beautiful.
Hindu
Gods:

Shiva,
Parvati,
Ganesha,
and the
lingam
and yoni
Hindu
Gods:

Shiva as
Nataraja:
“the Lord
of the
Dance”
Hindu Gods: Ganesha
Hindu
Gods:

Ganesha
Hindu Gods:
Hindu
Gods:

The Ten
Avatars
or
Incarna-
tions of
Vishnu
Hindu Gods:
Rama or Rama-
chandra, the 7th
avatar of Vishnu
Hindu Gods:
Rama & Hanuman
Hindu Gods:
Rama, Sita &
Hanuman
Hanuman:
the monkey king
of the
Ramayana

The sacred heart of Jesus


Hindu Gods:
Krishna (Skt.,
“black,” or
“dark-blue”; a
symbol of the
infinite space of
the universe):
the eighth
avatar of
Vishnu
Hindu Gods:
Vishnu takes
birth as Krishna
Mother and Child
Hindu Gods: Krishna
as a young boy
Krishna:
As a Young
Man
Krishna the gopis
(Skt., “cowherd
maidens,” devotees
of Krishna) symbols
of soul’s love of God
Krishna & Radha:
She is the best known
of the gopis of
Vrindavan
Hindu
Gods:
Krishna
And Radha:
symbolizing
the eternal
play
between the
soul and
God
Miracles of Krishna: holding up
Govardhan Mountain
Miracles of Krishna:
Hindu Gods:

Krishna and
Arjuna

depiction
from the
Bhagavad-
Gita
Hindu Gods:

Krishna and
Arjuna

depiction from
the
Bhagavad-
Gita
Hindu Gods:
Krishna and
Arjuna,

depiction from
the
Bhagavad-
Gita
Hindu Gods:
Krishna and
Arjuna,

depiction
from the
Bhagavad-
Gita
Hindu Gods:

Krishna and
Arjuna

depiction
from the
Bhagavad-
Gita
Krishna &
Arjuna
Sacred
Trees
Hindu
Gods:
Ganga: the
Ganges
river -- the
holiest
river in
India
Hindu Festival, Ganges River
Sacred Ganges River
Aum or Om

The symbol of form


as well as sound; a
manifestation of
spiritual power
Aum or Om
“The sacred utterance , Aum or Om, is said to be
Brahman as sound.… meditatively voicing or hearing the
sound Aum could reveal the nature of Brahman. Thus,
the entire Sanskrit syllabary is said to derive from Aum,
which is the beginning and end of all speech. Hindu
religious teachers sometimes point out that Aum is
formed by the opening and closing of the mouth,
beginning with the first vowel, a, and ending with the
final anusvara, m. Thus, all vowels and consonants are
contained within it. Aum is not merely a symbol of
Brahman, but it is often regarded as Brahman itself,
manifest in the form of sound.”
(Rodrigues, Introducing Hinduism, p. 111)
THE 4 ACCEPTABLE GOALS OF LIFE
(Skt. Purusharthas)
The ultimate goal is moksha, but, according to Hindu
thought, it may take many lives to reach it, and only after
the lessons from the other three paths or ways of life are
learned.
A. THE PATH OR WAY OF DESIRE:
1. Kama-marga ("the path or way of pleasure"):
The path of hedonism or the cultivation of sensuous
pleasures such as food, sex, and the enjoyment of
the arts. Eventually one realizes that all forms of
pleasure are bound up with pain (childhood - teens)
2. Artha-marga ("the path of power and wealth"):
The pursuit of wealth, power, prestige, and social
position. Requires ruthlessness, determination, and
competitiveness. Brilliant success in this realm
leads one to ask: "To what purpose?“ (adults)
THE ACCEPTABLE GOALS OF LIFE
B. THE PATH OR WAY OF RENUNCIATION:
3. Dharma-marga ("the path of duty"): duty
to one's family, caste, community, and country
as outlined in the Code of Manu. Renunciation
of egoistic desires and the doing of good
deeds, not for material reward, but for the joy
of service. Even this joy is eventually seen as
less than perfect (late adulthood to retirement).
4. Moksha ("release"): Release from the
sorrow and illusion of this world with its end-
less cycle of death and rebirth (samsara).
THE ACCEPTABLE GOALS OF LIFE
Moksha ("release"): Release from the sorrow and
illusion of this world with its endless cycle of death and
rebirth (samsara).

A liberation (mukti) into the fullness of being truly one


with ultimate being, infinite awareness, and supreme
bliss. "`There comes a time,' writes Aldous Huxley,
`when one asks even a Shakespeare, even a
Beethoven, is this all?'. . . When this point is reached, [a
man] will find himself asking even the finest this world
has to offer -- not only the peaks of aesthetic experience
but the highest reaches of love and knowledge and duty
as well --`Is this all?' This is the moment that Hinduism
has been waiting for." (Smith, The World’s Religions, p. 20)
YOGA
Yoga (Skt., lit. “yoke”): Harnessing oneself to
God, seeking union with God. A spiritual
discipline that brings one closer to God. It is not
simply exercise.
FOUR PATHS TO MOKSHA
Four paths for the four personality types:
These four paths or yogas (spiritual disciplines)
are not mutually exclusive. Hinduism encourages
adherents to try all four and find the combination
that best suits their needs.
1. Jnana-yoga ("the way to God through
knowledge"): For those with a strong intel-
lectual and philosophical bent jnana-yoga is
the path to oneness with the Godhead through
knowledge. The shortest but also the steepest
path. Requires a rare combination of rationality
and spirituality open only to a very few.
FOUR PATHS TO MOKSHA (cont.)
2. Bhakti-yoga ("the way to God through
devotion"): The most popular of the four yogas.
The aim of this yoga is to love and adore God
with every element of your being. Such devotion
is most commonly directed to the Hindu gods
Vishnu (Vaishnavites) or Shiva (Shaivites). "All
the basic principles of bhakti-yoga are richly
exemplified in Christianity. Indeed from the Hindu
point of view Christianity is one great brilliantly lit
bhakti highway toward God, other paths being not
neglected but not as clearly marked.“
(Huston Smith, The World's Religions, pp. 32-33)
FOUR PATHS TO MOKSHA (cont.)
3. Karma-yoga ("the way to God through
deeds"): Finding God through work and
service to others. Such work is considered
worship when it is done for the sake of God
and not through the thought of any material
reward.
4. Raja-yoga ("the royal road to re-integration"):
For persons with a more scientific bent, raja-
yoga is the path to God through psychological
exercises and experiments on one's body and
soul. The goal is to train the mind to be
completely absorbed in God (samadhi).
THE 4 STAGES OF LIFE (ASHRAMAS)
1. Brahmaccarin ("student"): The first stage is
that of the student. It involves the study of the
Vedas and giving full attention to the teacher
(from about 8-25 years old).

2. Grhastha ("house holder"): The stage of


family life and community service (from about
25-50 years old).
THE 4 STAGES of LIFE (ASHRAMAS)
3. Varnaprastha ("forest dweller"): The
householder, upon completion of his duties to
his family and to society is expected to retire
to the forest and live for some years as a
hermit meditating on the Vedas and offering
sacrifices (around age 50 and older).
4. Sannyasin ("renounced"), also referred to
as a sadhu: A wandering beggar who has or is
about to achieve moksha. According to the
Bhagavad Gita, "One who neither hates nor
loves anything."
Summary of Concepts: The Glass of H20

Air = Brahman

Bubble bursting = moksha

Up = 4 yogas, 4 margas,
4 stages of life, & 4
varnas
Water = samsara

Bubble = atman
Harappan Civilization, Indus Valley
Aboriginal Dravidian culture which thrived from 2500 – 1500 B.C.E.
Major fortified cities, elaborate plumbing and irrigation systems.

Mohenjo-daro means
"mound of the dead”
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS
Two Types:
1. SHRUTI ("heard"):Revealed or sacred
texts considered to be eternal and not
authored by a person (apaurusheya).
a. VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"):
Hinduism's earliest writings believed to
be heard by the rishis or sages 8000-
6000 BCE, written down 1500-500 BCE).
2. SMARTI ("remembered"): Inspired texts
derived from the Vedas and composed
by human authors.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Shruti
VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"): written 1500-500 BCE, 6
times the size of the Bible.
A. SAMHITAS ("collections"): The first three were used
principally by the elite in the Vedic sacrifices.
1. Rig-Veda ("knowledge of hymns"): Collection of
religious poetry in 10 books containing 1028 hymns
(suktas) to various gods.

2. Sama-Veda ("knowledge of chants"): Rhythmic


chants and hymns (many borrowed from the Rig-
Veda) used mainly by the singing priests of the Vedic
sacrifices.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Shruti
VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"): written 1500-500 BCE

A. SAMHITAS ("collections")
3. Yajur-Veda ("knowledge of rites"): Collection of
dedications, prayers and litanies used to accompany
the devotional use of the Rig-Veda.

4. Atharva-Veda ("knowledge given by the sage


Atharva"): A treasury of charms, chants, spells, and
incantations; many are of non-Aryan origin and thus
of great antiquity. Used by the common people in
their homes and villages.
The Vedic Tree

Each Veda has


its commentaries
which are also
considered to be
part of the shruti.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Shruti
VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"): written 1500-500
BCE
B. BRAHMANAS: Lengthy supplements to the
samhitas which contain both exhaustive
instructions for the performance of the ritual
sacrifices and commentaries on their
symbolic meaning (900-700 BCE).
C. ARANYAKAS ("Forest Texts"): Supplements
and commentaries on the Brahmanas used to
explain to persons who had retired to the
forest how to make symbolic use of the
Samhitas (800-600 BCE).
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Shruti
VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"): written 1500-500 BCE
D. UPANISHADS ("to sit close by devotedly"):
1. In written form between 800-500 BCE
2. Philosophical and esoteric supplements to the
Aranyakas which pertain to the nature and origin of
the universe, the nature of human beings, ultimate
reality, and the path to salvation.
3. Also known as the Vedanta ("the end and
fulfillment of the Vedas").
4. There are over 200 Upanishads, 10 are considered
to be the principal ones: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna,
Mundaka, Madukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya,
Chandogya, and Brahadaranyaka
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Shruti
VEDAS ("sacred knowledge"): written 1500-500 BCE

D. UPANISHADS ("to sit close by devotedly"):


5. Some hold the view that upanishad literally means
“secret teaching.”
6. The Upanishsds subordinate Vedic ceremonialism
and caste duties to the supreme good of self-
realization.” (SourceBook, p. 38)
7. Each Vedic school of thought (shakhas) had its
own Brahmana to which an Aranyaka was
appended that it turn contains the Upanishad.
8. The first English translation of a collection of the
Upanishads was made in 1832.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Smarti
SMARTI ("remembered"): Inspired texts derived from
the Vedas and composed by human authors.
A. EPIC LITERATURE (400 BCE-400 CE)
1. Ramayana ("The Career of Rama"): Epic poem of
24,000 Sanskrit verses outlining the heroic life of
Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. The story takes place
during the Aryan migrations into India. (400-200 BCE)
2. Mahabharata ("The Great Bharata Story"): Epic
poem of 90,000 Sanskrit verses dealing with a battle
between two branches of the Bharata people.
Contains battle narratives, mythological scenes, and
moral discourses. The story takes place during the
Late Vedic Period and is a metaphor for the struggle
between good and evil, selfish and selfless desires.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Smarti
A. EPIC LITERATURE (400 BCE-400 CE)
2. Mahabharata ("The Great Bharata Story"):
a. Bhagavad-Gita ("The Song of the
Lord"): The sixth book of the Maha-
bharata. The most popular book of
the Hindu scriptures. The story
consists of a long dialogue between
Arjuna, a warrior prince, and Krishna,
an avatar of Vishnu. The first English
translation was published in 1775.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Smarti
B. SHASTRAS ("books"): Writings dealing mainly with
practical, ethical, political, economic and sociological
issues (300 BCE-500 CE).
1. Dharmashastras ("law books"): Treatises
dealing mainly with religious and moral order. They
lay great stress on rites of passage or stages of life
(ashramas) and caste (varna) duties.
a. Code of Manu: Detailed instructions
regarding the social rules and practices of
Hinduism. Glorifies custom and convention at a
time when they were being undermined (300
BCE-300 CE).
2. Arthashastras: Writings dealing with economic
and political concerns.
HINDU SACRED WRITINGS: Smarti
C. SUTRAS ("threads"): Collection of systematic
treatises written by adherents of the various
orthodox schools of Hindu thought (i.e., the Kama-
sutra). They are often aphoristic.
D. PURANAS ("ancient"): Collections of legendary
stories dealing with ancient events, many date back
to early Vedic times. The Puranas are the scriptures
of popular Hinduism and are used by the lower caste
or common people, and in this sense, they represent
the "real" scriptures of Hinduism. The Puranas are
arranged into 3 divisions: (1) those that exalt the god
Brahma; (2) those that exalt Vishnu; and (3) those
that exalt Shiva (400-1000 CE). There are 18
principal Puranas.
E. TANTRAS (after 300 CE): Sacred texts which
instruct worshippers how to honor the feminine
divine.
SELECTIONS FROM THE VEDAS
There was not then what is nor what is not. There was no sky, and
no heaven beyond the sky. What power was there? Where? Who
was that power? Was there an abyss of fathomless waters? There
was neither death nor immortality then. No signs were there of
night and day. The One was breathing by its own power, in infinite
peace. Only the One was: there was nothing beyond. Darkness
was hidden in darkness. The all was fluid and formless. Therein,
in the void, by the fire of fervour arose the One. And in the One
arose love: love the first seed of the soul. The truth of this the
sages found in their hearts: seeking in their hearts with wisdom
the sages found that bond of union between Being and non-being.
Who knows truth? Who can tell whence and how arose this
universe? The gods are later than its beginning: who knows
therefore whence comes this creation? Only that god who sees in
highest heaven: he only knows whence came this universe, and
whether it was made or uncreated. He only knows, or perhaps he
knows not. (Rig Veda 10:129)
SELECTIONS FROM THE VEDAS
1. The truth is one and sages call it by different names.
(Sanskrit: Ekam sad viprah bahuda vadanti)
2. What pathway leadeth to the gods? Who knoweth
this of a truth, and who will now declare it? Seen are
their lowest dwelling-places only, but they are in
remote and secret regions.... One All is Lord of what
is fixed and moving, that walks, that flies, this
multiform creation. (Rig Veda 3:54)
3. Everything in this whole round of the universe is
God-made, God-protected and God-pervaded; enjoy
what he gives thee, sharing it with thy fellow
creatures and without attachment. For whose is all
this wealth? It is God's and God's alone. Be not
proud, be not greedy. (Yajur Veda 40)
SELECTIONS FROM THE VEDAS
4. We praise thee with our thoughts, O God. We praise thee
even as the sun praises thee in the morning: may we find joy in
being thy servants. Keep us under thy protection. Forgive our sins
and give us thy love. God made the rivers to flow. They feel no
weariness, they cease not from flowing. They fly swiftly like birds
in the air. May the stream of my life flow into the river of
righteousness. Loose the bonds of sin that bind me. Let not the
thread of my song be cut while I sing; and let not my work end
before its fulfillment. Remove all fear from me, O Lord. Receive
me graciously unto thee O King. Cut off the bonds of afflictions
that bind me: I cannot even open mine eyes without thy help. Let
the dread weapons that wound the sinner hurt us not. Let us not
go from light into darkness. We will sing thy praises, O God
almighty. We will now and evermore sing thy praise, even as they
were song of old. For thy laws are immutable, O God: they are
firm like the mountains. Forgive the trespasses that I may have
committed. Many mornings remain to dawn on us: lead us through
them all, O God. (Rig Veda 2:28:1-9)
SELECTIONS FROM THE BHAGAVAD-GITA
1. Whenever and wherever there is a decline in
righteousness... and a rise of unrighteous-
ness -- at that time I descend Myself. For the
protection of the good, for the destruction of
the wicked and for the establishment of
righteousness, I come into being from age to
age. (4: 7-8)
2. Be a warrior and kill desire, the powerful
enemy of the soul.... Kill therefore with the
sword of wisdom the doubt born of ignorance
that lies in thy heart. (3:43, 4:42)
3. As men approach me so do I accept them:
men on all sides follow my path ... (4:11)
SELECTIONS FROM THE BHAGAVAD-GITA
4. When one sees Eternity in things that pass away and
Infinity in finite things, then one has pure knowledge.
But if one merely sees the diversity of things, with
their divisions and limitations, then one has impure
knowledge. And if one selfishly sees a thing as if it
were everything, independent of the One and the
many, then one is in the darkness of ignorance.
When work is done as sacred work, unselfishly, with
a peaceful mind, without lust and hate, with no desire
for reward, then that work is pure. But when work is
done with selfish desire, or feeling it is an effort, or
thinking it is a sacrifice, then that work is impure.
(18:20-4)
SELECTIONS FROM THE BHAGAVAD-GITA

5. He unto whom all desires enter as waters into


the sea, which, though never been filled is
ever motionless, attains to peace and not he
who hugs his desires. He who abandons all
desires and acts free from longing, without any
sense of mineness or egotism, he attains to
peace. (2:70)
SALVATION and FORGIVENESS of SINS
1. We praise thee with our thoughts, O God. We praise
thee even as the sun praises thee in the morning:
may we find joy in being thy servants. Keep us under
thy protection. Forgive our sins and give us thy love.
God made the rivers to flow. They feel no weariness,
they cease not from flowing. They fly swiftly like birds
in the air. May the stream of my life flow into the river
of righteousness. Loose the bonds of sin that bind me.
Let not the thread of my song be cut while I sing; and
let not my work end before its fulfillment. Remove all
fear from me, O Lord. Receive me graciously unto
thee O King. Cut off the bonds of afflictions that bind
me: I cannot even open mine eyes without thy help.
(Rig Veda 2:28:1-9)
SALVATION and FORGIVENESS of SINS
2. If thy soul finds rest in me, thou shall overcome all dangers by
my grace; but if thy thoughts are on thyself, and thou wilt not
listen, thou shalt perish.... God dwells in the heart of all beings,
Arjuna; thy God dwells in thy heart. And his power of wonder
moves all things--puppets in a play of shadows--whirling them
onwards in the stream of time. Go to him for thy salvation with
all thy soul, victorious man. By his grace thou shalt obtain the
peace supreme, thy home of Eternity. (Bhagavad-Gita 18:57,
61-2)
3. Leave all things behind, and come to me alone for thy salva-
tion. I will make thee free from the bondage of sins. Fear no
more.... He who teaches this supreme secret to my devotees,
showing the highest devotion to me, shall doubtless come to
me. There is none among men who does dearer service to me
than he; nor shall there be another dear to me in the world.
(Bhagavad-Gita 18:66, 68-9)
HINDU VIRTUES
1. Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not
for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in
the peace of Yoga and, free from selfish desires, be not moved
in success or in failure. Yoga is evenness of mind -- a peace
that is ever the same. Work done for a reward is much lower
than work done in the Yoga of wisdom. Seek salvation in the
wisdom of reason. How poor those who work for a reward!
(Bhagavad-Gita 2:47-9)
2. It is difficult to say what righteousness is. It is not easy to
indicate it. No one, discoursing upon righteousness, can
indicate it accurately. Righteousness was declared (by
Brahma) for the advancement and growth of all creatures.
Therefore, that which leads to advancement and growth is
righteousness. Righteousness was declared for restraining
creatures from injuring one another. Therefore, that is
righteousness which prevents injury to creatures.
(Mahabharata, Santiparva 109:9-11)
HINDU VIRTUES (CONT.)
3. Abstention from injury, by act, thought, and word, in
respect of all creatures, compassion, and gift
(charity), constitute behavior that is worthy of praise.
That act or exertion by which others are not
benefited, or that act or consequence of which one
has to feel shame, should never be done.
(Mahabharata, Santiparva 124:65-6)
4. Relatives, sons, spouses, the body itself, and all
one's possessions stored with care, are unsubstantial
and prove of no service in the next world. Only acts,
good, and bad, that one does, follow one to the other
world. (Mahabharata, Santiparva 329:32)
HINDU PRAYERS AND HYMNS
1. In all these individual things, the unmanifested Atman
reveals its footprints by which it may be known, just as
one follows and finds an animal by its footprints.
(Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 1:4:7, recited during the
daily morning Agnihotra ceremony. The recitation of
this verse has been taking place continuously in India
for over 3500 years, thus making it the longest
unbroken ritual practice in the world.)
2. O Lord! Thou art on the sandbanks as well as in the
midst of the current; I bow to thee. Thou art in the little
pebbles as well as the calm expanse of the sea; I bow
to Thee. O all-pervading Lord, Thou art in the barren
soil and in the crowded places; I bow to Thee. (Sukla
Yajur, Veda 16, in Earth Prayers 59)
HINDU PRAYERS AND HYMNS
3. Peace be to the earth and to airy space! Peace be to
heaven, peace to the waters, peace to the plants and
peace to the trees! May all the powers grant to me
peace! By this invocation of peace may peace be
diffused! By this invocation of peace may peace bring
peace! With this peace the dreadful I now appease,
with this peace the cruel I now appease, with this
peace all evil I now appease, so that peace may
prevail, happiness prevail! May everything for us be
peaceful! (Atharva Veda 19, in Earth Prayers 173)
4. O God, scatterer of ignorance and darkness, grant me
your strength. May all beings regard me with the eye
of a friend, and I all beings! With the eye of a friend
may each single being regard all others! (Sukla Yajur,
Veda 36)
MAJOR THEISTIC MOVEMENTS
(Sampradayas)
1. VAISHNAVITES: Devotees of
Vishnu (the sustainer) and his various
incarnations or avatars (i.e., Krishna,
Rama, etc.).
Adherents: 70% or 547 million
Vertical mark on forehead & nose
Location: North India
Shaktis: Lakshmi, Radha
Principal Scriptures: Bhagavad-gita,
Puranas, & Ramayana
MAJOR THEISTIC MOVEMENTS
2. SAVITES: Devotees of Shiva (the
destroyer), the destructive, but also
creative force. Shiva is the god of the
yogis, symbolizes asceticism.
Adherents: 25% or about 195 million
3 horizontal lines on forehead
Location: South India
Shaktis: Durga, Kali, and Parvati
Principal Scriptures: Puranas
Symbolized: Lingam and yoni
MAJOR THEISTIC MOVEMENTS
(cont.)
3. SAKTAS: Devotees of the
female creative power (i.e.
Kali, Durga, other shaktis).

Adherents: 3% or about 23
million
Location: Calcutta ("city of
Kali")
Principal Scriptures: Tantras
and Puranas
Lush, sensual, & erotic
imagery
RELIGIOUS UNITY
1. The truth is one and sages call it by different names
(Sanskrit, Ekam sad viprah bahuda vadanti). (Rig
Veda)
2. They have called him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and
the divine fine-winged Garuda; they speak of Indra,
Yama, Matrarisvan: The One Being sages call by
many names. (Rig Veda 1:164:46)
3. By their wordings they made him logically manifold
who is but One. (Rig Veda, 10:114:5)
4. Truth has many aspects. Infinite Truth has infinite
expressions. Though the sages speak in diverse
ways, they express one and the same Truth. (Srimad
Bhagavatam, 11:15, qtd in. TTW, p. 798
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
5. Cows are of many different colors, but the milk of all
is of one color, white; so the proclaimers who
proclaim the Truth use many varying forms to put it in,
but yet the Truth enclosed in all is One. (Upanishads,
The Essential Unity of All Religions, p. 52)
6. Just as light is diffused from a fire which is confined to
one spot, so is this whole universe the diffused
energy of the Supreme Brahman. And as light shows
a difference, greater or less, according to its nearness
or distance from the fire, so is there variation in the
energy of the impersonal Brahman. Brahma, Vishnu,
and Shiva are his chief energies. The deities are
inferior to them ... (Vishnu Purana, 1:22, qtd. in World
Scripture, p. 53)
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
7. Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers,
the wise man accepts the essence of different
scriptures and sees only the good in all religions. (Sri
Bhagavatam 11:3, qtd. in World Scripture, p. 40)
8. The different paths followed by Hindus and Moslems,
Saktas and Vaishnavas, reunite in the end at the door
of the divine Being. (Ananda Moyi, qtd. in TTW, p. 798)
9. As the different streams, having their sources in
different places, all mingle their waters in the sea, O
Lord, the different paths which me take through
different tendencies, various though they appear,
crooked or straight, all lead to Thee. (well known hymn
of the Hindu tradition, qtd. in Norder, The Eternal Voice, p.12)
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
10. Hindus, Mussalmans, and Christians are
going to the same destination by different
paths. (Sri Ramakrishna, qtd. in TTW, p. 795)
11. The whole world is one family. (Vasudhaiva
kutubakam, a popular Hindu motto)
12. The goal for all is the same. Yet different
names are given to the goal only to suit the
process preliminary to reaching the goal.
(Ramana Maharshi, qtd in. TTW, p. 798)
13. The devotee meditates on one and the same
God; he gives different images to the same
deity. (Chaitanya, qtd in TTW, p. 777)
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
14. If you asked me which form of God you should
meditate upon, I should say: Fix your attention on
that form which appeals to you most; but know for
certain that all forms are the forms of one God
alone.... Siva, Kali, and Hari are but different forms
of that One. He is blessed indeed who has known all
as one. (Sri Ramakrishna, qtd in TTW, p. 778)
15. Are all the religions of the world contradictory?... I
mean the internal soul of every religion.... I believe
that they are not contradictory; they are supple-
mentary. Each religion, as it were, takes up one part
of the universal truth, and spends its whole force
embodying and typifying that part of the great truth.
(Vivekanada, Jnana-Yoga, p. 352)
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
15. Every vision of truth that a man has, is a vision of
[God] and of none else. Suppose we all go with vessels
in our hands to fetch water from the lake....The water in
each case naturally takes the form of the vessel carried
by each of us. He who brought the cup has the water in
the form of the cup; he who brought a jar -- his water is
in the shape of a jar, and so forth; but in every case,
water, and nothing but water, is in the vessel. So it is in
the case of religion; our minds are like those vessels,
and each one of us is trying to arrive at the realization of
God. God is like that water filling these different vessels,
and in each vessel the vision of God comes in the form
of the vessel. Yet He is One. He is God in every case.
(Vivekanada, 1863-1902, Jnana-Yoga, 1976, pp. 379ff)
RELIGIOUS UNITY (cont.)
God has made different religions to suit different aspirants,
times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a
path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if
one follows any of the paths with whole hearted devotion. One
may eat a cake with icing either straight or sidewise. It will taste
sweet either way. As one and the same material, water, is called
by different names by different people, one calling it water,
another eau, a third aqua, and another pani, so the Everlasting-
Intelligent-Bliss is invoked by some as God, by some as Allah, by
some as Jehovah, and by others as Brahman.
As one can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder
or a bamboo or a staircase or a rope, so diverse are the ways and
means to approach God, every religion in the world shows one of
these ways….The devotee who has seen God in one aspect only,
knows Him in that aspect alone. But he who has seen him in
manifold aspects is alone in a position to say, "All these forms are
of one God and God is multiform." He is formless and with form,
and many are his forms which no one knows. (Teachings of Sri
Ramakrishna, #686, 694, 699)

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