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Topic 7: State, Society and the Quest for Salvation in India. Chronology of Early Indian History. c. 2500 BCE: Indus Valley civilization c. 1900 BCE: Harappan decline c. 1500 BCE: Beginning of Aryan migration 1500-500 BCE: The “Vedic Age” 520 BCE: Darius of Persia invades India
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quadratic equations, atomic theory of matter
Named for sacred texts, the “Vedas”
Period important for:
Assimilation of Aryans
Emergence of varna distinctions
Emergence of Hinduism
The Rig Veda in Sanscrit
System of social distinctions probably created by Aryans
Distinctions were based on occupations and roles in society
Varna = caste
Jati = sub-caste
When they divided Purusha, how
many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his
arms? What do they call his thighs
The BRAHMIN was his mouth, of
both his arms was the KSHATRIYA
His thighs became the VAISHYA, and from his feet
the SHUDRA was produced.
Aryan vs. non-Aryan
“A group of families whose members can marry each other and can eat in each other’s company without believing themselves polluted.” Taya Zinkin
“ranked, named, endogamous [in-marrying], with membership achieved by birth”
TE: Throughout Indian history, caste has promoted “social stability”What is varna today?
Untouchability is illegal
India’s constitution forbids discrimination based on caste
India has caste-based “positive discrimination” programs
Yet caste remains important in social life: who one can marry, or eat and socialize with
The Vedas 1400-900 BCE:
Ritual and sacrifice solely by priestly class
The Upanishads 800-400 BCE:
Individual is responsible for his/her own salvation
The Bhagavad Gita300 BCE-300 CE:
Salvation possible through a balanced life and by fulfilling one’s duties
Brahman: “the universal soul” (See RGH #40, p. 121)
Karma: deeds (See RGH#41, p. 123-124)
Moksha / Nirvana: release
Moksha: Attainable through proper balance of these.
HINDU WHEEL OF LIFE
Avatars: incarnations of god
Popular Hinduism, see TE text, p. 239
Founded by Siddhartha Gautama [b. 563 B.C.E.]
Shared many concepts with Hinduism
But also reacted against many Hindu ideas, including varna
Four Noble Truths:
All life is suffering
Suffering is caused by desire
To stop suffering, stop desiring
Stop desiring by following the Eight-Fold Path
Nirvana – “extinction of desire”
BUDDHA UNDER THE BODHI TREE
BOUDHANATH WITH MONKS, NEPAL
faces of the
ZEN BUDDHISTS MEDITATING IN KENTUCKY (1997)
Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado
"American Buddhist with Thai Buddha", Living Enrichment Center, Wilsonville, Oregon, 1998.