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Introduction to Hinduism. Misperceptions. Hinduism is an organized religion It is polytheistic All Hindus are vegetarians All Hindus do yoga. History. World’s oldest existing religion Indo-Aryan origins (Iran) Dravidian people (Indus Valley) 1500-1300 BCE

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Introduction to Hinduism


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    1. Introduction to Hinduism

    2. Misperceptions • Hinduism is an organized religion • It is polytheistic • All Hindus are vegetarians • All Hindus do yoga

    3. History • World’s oldest existing religion • Indo-Aryan origins (Iran) • Dravidian people (Indus Valley) • 1500-1300 BCE • 3102 BCE(birth of Krishna—stars) • 5000-6000 BCE (legend of Rama) • Revealed in the Vedas • Poetic hymns used in the sacrificial rites of the Aryan priests. • Origin of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism

    4. History • Vedic civilization (2000 BCE) • Religion evolved from hymn-singing and sacrifice to belief in samsara / karma • The Vedas • Ascetic hermits and forest wanderers • Self-enlightenment • One God or (Divine Reality)

    5. Basic Beliefs • An “approach to the universe” • A way of life • Religion and philosophy • Wide range of beliefs and practices • No central figure • Does not purport to be the “only truth” • Emphasis on practice vs. beliefs

    6. Basic Beliefs • Every soul is trapped in a cycle of birth, existence and death • Ultimate goal is to escape the cycle (samsara) • Time is circular • The aim of life is to live in a way that will cause one’s next life to be better

    7. Basic Beliefs “ There are as many spiritual paths as there are spiritual aspirants. There are as many gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, spirits and social backgrounds of the devotees.” • No hierarchical orthodoxy

    8. Sanatana Dharma (eternal truth) • Everything in existence is an expression of God • The proper aim of life is to become one with God • Wordly delights & temptations divert one from this goal

    9. Maya • The veil of illusion • The prison of worldly senses • Obsession with worldly things, distraction from spiritual purpose, forgetfulness • Something to be feared, but no way out • Four paths to penetrate the veil

    10. The Four Paths • Bhakti: Devotion • Karma: Good works • Jnana: Knowledge • Yoga: Discipline of mind and body Not mutually exclusive May pursue one or all Many paths to realization

    11. Deities • One Reality (Brahman) • Many manifestations Brahma: Creation Vishnu: Protector of Existence Shiva: Destruction

    12. Deities • One Reality (Brahman) • Many manifestations Brahma: Creation Saraswathi—Goddess of wisdom Vishnu: Protector of Existence Kakshmi—Goddess of wealth Shiva: Destruction Kali—(a form of Shakti)

    13. Deities • Different traditions position deities differently in legends and mythology • Shaktism: Shakti is the Supreme Being Divine force of universe, primal energy, Brahman’s female aspect Unfolds as desire, action, wisdom(Shiva’s or Kali’s trident) • Other traditions (e.g.,Shaivism): • Active energy of male deities Vishu and Shiva

    14. Ganesha (son of Shiva) This God of knowledge and the remover of obstacles is also the older son of Lord Shiva. Lord Ganesha is also called Vinayak (knowledgeable ) or Vighneshwer (god to remove obstacles). He is worshipped, or at least remembered, in the beginning of any auspicious performance for blessings and auspiciousness. A unique combination of his elephant-like head and a quick moving tiny mouse vehicle represents tremendous wisdom, intelligence, and presence of mind.  

    15. Ganesha Large head and ears: wisdom that one must have to attain perfection in life Right tusk: wisdom (also right leg over left) Left tusk: emotion (must break it) Four arms: omnipresent and omnipotent Ax: to cut emotions Lotus: peace and wisdom Laddos: sweet spiritual reward Yellow: purity, peace, truthfulness Big belly: capacity to deal with pleasant and unpleasant experiences in the world Mouse: Ego that can nibble at the good and noble (must control)

    16. Vedic Pantheon (33 dieties) 8 Vasus (earthly) 11 Rudras (heavenly) 12 Adityas (intermediate) Indra

    17. Vedic (Aryan) Dieties (2000-1200 BCE) Indra (the God of creation & war)  Varuna (ruler of the worlds and world order) Dyaush-pita (the sky father)  Prithivi mata ( the earth mother) Vayu (the wind God)Parjanya (the rain God) Surya (the sun God) Agni (the fire God, destroyer of darkness)  Soma (the God of speech and inspiration)Ushas (the Goddess of dawn)  Yama (the God of death)Adityas (12 dieities, 12 months of year) Brahmana,   Aswini (twin Deities)  Rudras (eight in number)   Vasus (eight in number),Visvedevas ( ten in number)  Indra

    18. Vishnu • The preserver and protector of creation • Embodiment of mercy and goodness • Keeps good and evil in balance • When evil rises, other gods ask Vishnu to reincarnate in different human forms to conquer demons • Epics highly symbolic cosmic morality plays

    19. Forms of Lord Vishnu (avatars) • Matsyavataram (Form of a fish)   • Kurmavataram (Form of a tortoise) • Varahavataram (Form of a boar)   • Narasimhavataram (Form of a lion headed man)    • Vamanavataram (Form of a dwarf )  • Parasuramavataram   • Ramavataram  (Ram) • Balaramavataram   • Krishnavataram  -- Hare Krishna • BUDDHA Kalkiavataram (yet to come)

    20. Ramavataram (Ram) • 7th incarnation of Vishnu • “The very soul of India” • Legend is a “complete guide to God-realization and the path to righteousness” • Married Sita, consort of Vishnu • Over came ordeals, remained loyal to father, resisted temptations, joined with the Monkey King to defeat King Ravana 

    21. The "Hare Krishna" movement • Based upon 9th incarnation of Vishnu • International Society for Krishna Consciousness • Founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada • Bhagavad-Gita • The words "Hare Krishna" are part of a mantra comprising three Sanskrit names of God (Vishnu), Hari, Krishna and Rama

    22. Eras 4th-6th C: Gupta dynasty • Dedicated temples to different deities • Science, medicine, art & literature • Strict caste system 8th C: Shankara (reformer) • Upset with ritualism and caste system • Meditation over ritualism • Concept of maya • Brahma transcendent • Spiritual ignorance is the result of seeing the self

    23. Eras 1893: Swami Vivekananda • World Parliament of Religions (Chicago) • Brought meditation and yoga to the West

    24. Expansion to SE Asia • Trade routes • Malay empire • Khmer empire • Cham empire (Vietnam)

    25. Hindu Scriptural Canon SHRUTI Divine recordings of cosmic truth; God-given; for priests & educatedVedas 1500-500 BCE; poetic liturgy Rig Veda Hymns of praise Sama Veda Chants Yajur Veda Priest handbook Atharva Veda Magic Brahmanas 900 BCE Vedic commentaries Aranyakas Philosophical & mystical Upanishads Religious instructions

    26. Hindu Scriptural Canon SMRITI Created by man; for common person Itihasas Mahābhārata Bhagavad Gītā Ramayana Puranas Tantras Sutras Stotras Ashtavakra Gita Gherand Samhita Gita Govinda Hatha Yoga Pradipik “Historical” legends 2.5 million word history of India Climatic cosmic battle Legend of Ram 300 BCE: Cosmology Buddhist and Hindu “wisdom” Aphorisms Chanting prayers Mystical and esoteric 17th C: Yoga manual 12Th C: Bhakti; devotion & equality 15th C: The “bible” of Yoga

    27. Scriptures (Vedas=wisdom) Rig Veda • Poems used in sacrifices & rites • Praise the god being addressed • Ask the god for favors or benefits • Includes petitions for forgiveness which indicate a developed sense of morality • o        it is evidence of a religion centered on free choices between good and evil.

    28. Puranas (300 BCE) • Interpretations of the Vedas • For the common man • Myths, parables and allegories • 18: 3 groups of 6 • Creation of universe • Dharma • Karma • Reincarnation

    29. Uphanishads (300 BCE) • Interpretation of Vedas • Spiritual instruction • Meditation • Teacher-student dialogues

    30. The Paramahamsa UpanishadMystic or spiritual interpretations on the Vedas 1. Narada (Lord of Events) inquired of the Lord of Love:"What is the state of the illumined man?"The Lord replied: "Hard to reach is the stateOf the illumined man. Only a fewAttain to it. But even one is enough.For he is the pure Self of the Scriptures;He is truly great because he serves me.And I reveal myself through him always."He has renounced all selfish attachmentsAnd observes no rites or ceremonies.He has only minimum possessions,And lives his life for the welfare of all.

    31. The Paramahamsa Upanishad 2. He has no staff nor tuft nor sacred thread.He faces heat and cold, pleasure and pain,Honor and dishonor with equal calm. He is not affected by calumny,Pride, jealousy, status, joy, or sorrow,Greed, anger, or infatuation,Excitement, egoism, or other goads;For he knows he is neither body nor mind.

    32. The Paramahamsa Upanishad Free from the sway of doubt and false knowledgeHe lives united with the Lord of Love.Who is ever serene, immutable,Indivisible, the source of all joyAnd wisdom. The Lord is his true home,His pilgrim's tuft of hair, his sacred thread;For he has entered the unitive state.

    33. The Paramahamsa Upanishad 3. Having renounced every selfish desire,He has found his rest in the Lord of Love.Wisdom is the staff that supports him now.Those who take a mendicant's staff while theyAre still at the mercy of their sensesCannot escape enormous suffering.The illumined man knows this truth of life.

    34. The Paramahamsa Upanishad 4. For him the universe is his garmentAnd the Lord not separate from himself.He offers no ancestral oblations;He praises nobody, blames nobody,Is never dependent on anyone.He has no need to repeat the mantram,No more need to practice meditation.The world of change and changeless realityAre one to him, for he sees all in God.

    35. The Paramahamsa Upanishad 5. The aspirant who is seeking the LordMust free himself from selfish attachmentsTo people, money, and possessions.When his mind sheds every selfish desire,He becomes free from the dualityOf pleasure and pain and rules his senses.No more is he capable of ill will;No more is he subject to elation,For his senses come to rest in the Self.Entering into the unitive state,He attains the goal of evolution.Truly he attains the goal of evolution.

    36. Worship (Puja) • Images (puja) • Prayers • Diagrams of the universe (yantra) • Water, fruit, flowers and incense offerings Shri Haridra Ganesh Sidhi Yantra

    37. Worship (Puja) • Images (puja) • Prayers • Diagrams of the universe (yantra) • Water, fruit, flowers and incense offerings Shri Maruti Yantra

    38. Worship (Puja) • Images (puja) • Prayers • Diagrams of the universe (yantra) • Water, fruit, flowers and incense offerings

    39. Worship (Puja) • Images (puja) • Prayers • Diagrams of the universe (yantra) • Water, fruit, flowers and incense offerings

    40. Karma in Hinduism • “Action” or deeds • Law of cause and effect • Beneficial events are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful events from past harmful actions • Reincarnations • Explains the problem of evil • Must follow dharma to achieve liberation from the karma cycle

    41. Ethic • Family unity • Kindness and caring • Honesty • Hard work • Care for elderly in home • Respect for animals (gods present in animals) • Emphasis on education • Community service

    42. Family and Marriage (traditional) • Patriarchial • Few liberties for women • Married women live with husbands’ families • Sex before marriage criticized • Widows cannot remarry (traditional view) • Many marriages still arranged

    43. Sikhism • 5th largest religion (23 million) • Punjab region (N. India)—2 % • 1469: Guru Nanak • All people are all equal in the eyes of one God (“There is no Hindu, no Muslim.”) • Rejects Hindu ritual & caste system • Meditation, reincarnation, 10 gurus • Persecuted by Hindus and Muslims • 1984: India Army attached Sikh temple • Sikh extremists assassinated Indira Ghandi

    44. Sikhism Beliefs • The goal of human life is to break the cycle of birth's and deaths and merge with God. This can be accomplished by following the teachings of the Guru, meditation on the Holy Name and performance of acts of service and charity. • The five cardinal vices are; Kam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (worldly attachment) and Ahankar (pride). If one can overcome these, they will achieve salvation. • Rejection of all forms of blind rituals such as fasting, religious vegetarianism, pilgrimages, superstitions, veil wearing, yoga, as well as any form of idol worship. Permits widow remarriage. Golden Temple Amritsar, India

    45. Jainism • 800 BCE • 1 % of Indian population • Does not include a belief in an omnipotent supreme being or creator, but rather in an eternal universe governed by natural laws • Rejects Vedas and Hindu deities • Non-violence (ahimsa) is the core • Vegetarianism • Karma and reincarnation • Influenced Ghandi

    46. Sikh Attitude toward Jainism • They have their heads plucked, drink dirty water and repeatedly beg … The daily routine of their mothers and fathers they give up, and their kith and kin bewail loudly. For them none gives barley rolls and food on leaves, nor performs last rites, nor lights earthen lamp. After death where shall they be cast? They ever remain filthy day and night, and bear not sacrificial marks on their brow. They ever sit in groups, as if mourning and go not into the True Court. With begging bowls slung round their loins and a clew in their hands, they walk in single file. They are neither disciples of Gorakh nor adorers of Shiva, nor Muslim Qazis and Mullah's." (Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 149)

    47. Fire by Deepa Mehta • Mehta born in Armistar, Punjab • Best known for her Elements Trilogy, Fire (1996), Earth (1998) (released in India as 1947: Earth), and Water (2005), which won her much critical acclaim • Expatriate (lives in Toronto)

    48. Fire by Deepa Mehta “A wife’s God is her husband, he is her friend, he is her guru, evern her life is less than her husband’s happiness.” --Legend of Sita

    49. Fire by Deepa Mehta • Main characters Sita and Rhada • Sita was Ram’s wife • Rhada was Krishna’s lover • Sita’s trial by fire • Ram accused Sita of being unfaithful • She offered to walk in fire • If guilty, would be consumed • She walked through fire and was not burned

    50. Amritsar Golden Temple • The Buddha meditated there (500 BC) • Temple of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion (1649-1539) • Destroyed by Moslems several times • Sanctuary contains sacred scriptures of the Sikh, which includes devotional poems, prayers, and hymns composed by the ten Sikh gurus and various Moslem and Hindu saints • Amritsar mean "pool of ambrosial nectar" --a drink of the gods, a rare and magical substance that catalyzes euphoric states of consciousness and spiritual enlightenment • The waters of Amritsar flowing into the lake of the Hari Mandir were long ago - and remain today - a bringer of peacefulness