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Hinduism

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Hinduism

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  1. Hinduism • India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, USA, South Africa, Myanmar, Bali, Java

  2. Key Ideas • Monistic – One reality underlying everything including the gods • A basic reality underlying the phenomenal realm • Gods are personifications of energies or powers of the universe

  3. Primary Tenants • We live in cyclical time • We have moral duties and responsibilities to live by • Worship / Puja • Asceticism / Spiritual and ethical discipline

  4. The Four Wants • Pleasure (kama) • Power / Wealth / Status (artha) • Social Service • Spiritual Liberation – to be united with our god (moksha)

  5. The Four Stages of Life • Each stage lasts about 25 years • Student • Householder (marry, family, job) • Retirement (meditation and spiritual study) • Wanderer / Sannyasin (withdraw totally from society)

  6. History • 2500-1500 BCE Harappan / IVC • Over 1000 sites • Plumbing, Irrigation, Great Bath, Seals, Lingams, Terracotta Goddesses, Planned Cities on Grid-like patterns • Larger than Egypt and Mesopotamia combined

  7. HARAPPAN SEALS

  8. HARAPPAN GODDESSES

  9. HARAPPAN GIRL

  10. Aryan Migration into India • 1500-1200 BCE Aryans brought the Vedic tradition • Patriarchal tribes with horse-drawn chariots and a warrior class • Similar to the Greek pantheon • In Vedas, Ganges River is on the horizon • Their conquest or other causes led to the decline of the Harappan Civilization

  11. The Vedic Tradition • 1500-500 BCE – Vedas were written down • Vedas incorporated ideas from the Harappan Civilization (yoga, Siva) • Priestly, sacrificial rites to uphold the cosmic order & forces of nature

  12. Agni • Fire represents forceful heat, flaming will, light over darkness • Deity that conveys offerings to other gods • Ritual fire offerings still central to Hindu worship • As a result, a reward will come • Offerings include ghee, grains, soma, animals • Offerings controlled and made by Brahmin priests • Priests use mantras to invoke breath behind all existence

  13. AGNI

  14. Upanishads • About same time as Buddhism and Jainism • Recorded: 600-400 BCE • Not concerned with Vedic rituals • Private asceticism • Transcendent reality within • Inner self = Atman (peace , bliss) • Concept more accessible to Jnana or Raja types

  15. Upanishads • The ultimate expression of “pluralism” • “Truth is One, Sages call it by many names.”

  16. Cyclical Nature of Time • Each world cycle = 4,320,000 years • Each cycle has 4 periods or “yugas” • Dharma • Cow on 3 legs (people must be taught their roles) • Cow on 2 legs – people lose altruism • Kali Yuga which began in 3102 BCE (egotism, war) p.88,89 • 2000 world cycles = one day and night in Brahma’s life

  17. Sanatana Dharma • “Eternal Truth” • Pure Consciousness / Truth / OM • Gods • Rituals

  18. Puja / Worship • A daily part of a Hindu’s life • At household shrine, image is removed from resting place; it starts the the day with ritual cleansing • Image then placed on shrine with gifts of fresh fruit and flowers • Short puja in morning • Longer puja at night • Holy books, discussions, teaching, meditation, prayer • During puja, Hindus use their senses to help them feel close to God

  19. Mahabharata • Recorded 400 BCE – 400 CE • Epic of Good vs. Evil • Pandavas vs. Kauravas • Teaches duty and righteous action • As Arjuna’s charioteer, Krishna is manifestation of the Supreme God • Before battle Krishna teaches self-transcendence. • Do service and sacrifice to the Supreme • Brings freedom and peace • Ignore attraction and aversion • 18th Book is the Bhagavad-Gita • Aug/Sept – Krishna’s B-day • Fast and keep vigil till midnight • Reading from B-Gita • Retelling stories of his life

  20. Ramayana • Compiled 400 BCE – 200 CE • Stepmom has Rama banished 14 years – goes with Sita • Ravana, the 10-headed demon king of Sri Lanka kidnaps Sita • Rama, his half-brother and Hanuman get Sita back • Epic of Good vs. Evil • Acted out with great pageantry in India every year

  21. Social Values in the Ramayana Ideal Son: Rama’s devotion and obedience to father Ideal Wife: Sita as model wifely devotion Ideal society: benevolent and just Ideal King: brave warrior Ideal Brother: ideal fraternity Ideal Servant: Ideal service / Ideal devotee as in bhakti

  22. Caste System • Categories • Priests, Philosophers • Kings, Warriors • Farmers, Merchants • Manual laborers, Artisans • Untouchables • Code of Manu 100 CE • These became hereditary categories • Vedic fire sacrifices requires a trained and purified priestly class • Part of the emphasis on sacrifice of individual desires for social order • Gandhi opposed – Harijans renamed • 1948 Untouchability legally removed

  23. Vishnu • Protector of humanity • high crown; holds club, conch shell • Lakshmi – wealth / power • Of 10 incarnations, most popular: Rama, Krishna and Buddha • 10th incarnation hasn’t come yet. At the end of this world age, he will appear to administer divine justice

  24. Shiva • Deity of yogis / asceticism • Will destroy the universe by fire at the end of the present cycle • Spouse - Parvati / Son - Ganesh • Lingams: natural or sculpted cylindrical forms • Sexuality in contained and potential state • Formless symbol for unmanifest, transcendent aspect of Siva • Shiva manifested himself on earth 12 times as a shattering sheath of light – pilgrimage sites

  25. Siva

  26. Ganesh • The god of space and time • Brings good luck and removes obstacles • Large belly and bowl of candies • Invoked for blessings at the beginning of a new venture or puja • Protects entrances to homes

  27. Ganesh Chaturthi • 10 Day Festival at the end of summer • Each neighborhood has a temporary shrine with elaborate decorations • Puja and Prasad daily • Competition for best decorated shrine and most elaborate float • On 10th night, all images disposed of by immersion

  28. Hanuman • Often worshipped instead of Rama • Mediator between human worshippers and distant Rama • Chaste in his devotion to Rama • Deity who presides over chastity • Young men worship him if they need help • His body shows relation between chastity and power / strength

  29. The Goddess • As a feminine, malicious force, appears without male partner as: • Kali, Durga • Her malicious nature means she enjoys blood sacrifice • Red flowers are often used in rituals that symbolize an animal sacrifice to her • Paraphernalia of killing • As a benevolent, loving force, appears as Lakshmi, Parvati, Saraswati, Mata (mother and giver of life) • Feminine power is positive when it is restrained in the socially ordering institution of marriage • Feminine power restrained and redirected

  30. The Pantheon • Textual Deities • Regarded as the most powerful • People rarely attribute misfortune to them • As the greatest deities, the most remote • Fullest worship requires specialized knowledge from a Brahmin priest • Identities of the deities in temples cannot be worshipped directly by ordinary folk. They must be worshipped through the medium of the Brahmin priest • Local Goddesses • Local Ghosts / Witches

  31. The local deities • Local Deities • Can be associated with families, castes, festivals, localities • Most important local deity: The Local Goddesses • Fertility of the fields • Will aid worshippers in exchange for ritual, may harm them without ritual • More ritually accessible, fond of blood sacrifice • Blood sacrifice makes them less pure than textual deities • Associated with forces of human misfortune such as disease (e.g. smallpox) • Cool water and nim leaves to “cool” the goddess and effect her withdrawl • Provides for disruptive and harmful forces and contains them

  32. Ghosts / Witches • Like the local deities, they don’t need a pure priesthood to convey worship • These beings are associated with pollution • Highest deities associated with purity • Death as pollution and ghosts very close to death • Ghosts are removed by a Baiga who applies mantras and uses cowdung ash (the latter considered pure and purifying) • Spirits of the dead who are still attached to the previous existence • Like the local goddesses, they account for hazard and misfortune

  33. Holidays • Durga Puja • Celebrates her power to vanquish demons • Dussehra • Marks Rama’s 9 nights of worshipping Durga before killing Ravana • An effigy of Rama is set on fire to signify the end of evil • Diwali • “Row of Lights” • Celebration of light • Rama’s return from exile

  34. Jnana Yoga -The Path of Knowledge • Concept of God • Like an infinite sea with the underlying waves that are our individual selves • The shortest, but steepest path • Requires a rare combination of rationality and spirituality – for the few • Reflective people • Three aspects of the path • Studies scriptures and philosophy • Reflects on and examines everyday happenings • Identifies with a larger, eternal reality as well as the finite, temporal self

  35. Bhakti Yoga-Path of Love and Devotion • Most popular of the four paths • Concept of God • God as Other – “I want to taste sugar, not be sugar.” • God has a personality / characteristics to love • Methods: • Worshipping one’s god exclusively • Chanting the name of one’s god / Prayer • Envisioning a relationship with god as friend, lover, child, master, etc.

  36. Karma Yoga – Path of Work • Work for God’s sake / Duty for Duty’s sake • The human machine is made for work • Concept of God • God is in the world of everyday work • A Path for one who has to be active

  37. Raja Yoga - Path through Psychophysical Experiments • One experiments with the layered self: mind / body / subconscious (past experiences) / Being itself • Leading oneself to a direct, personal experience of Being • Leads to heightened self-knowledge and greater self control

  38. Steps of Raja Yoga (1-4) • Step 1 lists 5 abstentions: • Truth, Non-violence, Non-stealing, continence, non-covetousness • Step 2 lists 5 observances: • Cleanliness, Contentment, Self-Study, Contemplation of the divine • Step 3 – Asanas – balance and ease • Step 4 – Breathing exercises to calm nerves and increase prana

  39. Steps of Raja Yoga (5-8) • Step 5 - Contemplation – Experience of and concentration on the meaning of “Being” • Step 6 - Meditation – practicing control of the mind • Step 7 – Self and Being are merged • Step 8 – Samadhi (state of bliss / wisdom)