Hinduism - Introduction. The Blind Men and the Elephant. What does this parable reveal about truth? What do you think it reveals about the Hindu view of God? Summarize Randall Niles’ explanation of the parable – does the parable necessarily say that there are many truths?
The Blind Men and the Elephant • What does this parable reveal about truth? • What do you think it reveals about the Hindu view of God? • Summarize Randall Niles’ explanation of the parable – does the parable necessarily say that there are many truths? • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVBQefNXIw&feature=related
Origins • Hinduism is a Western term for an Indian set of traditions. • It has no known founder; grew over a period of about 4000 years. • Hinduism’s origins might be the combination of 2 cultures around 1500 BCE : • Indus Valley civilization • Aryan invaders • Hinduism has many sects and has no well-defined organization (e.g. a head of the religion).
The Indus Valley Civilization • Civilization advanced in building • worship of a mother goddess • Symbols include the swastika • cremated their dead • Hindu god images appear in similar forms as gods of IVC
Aryans • Around 1500 BCE, Aryans migrated to India from the northwest (Caucasus?) • Spoke an early form of Sanskrit • Brought with them the sacred writings, the Vedas • nature deity, fire worship • Sacrifices made to please gods • Brought the concept of atman, the human soul
Hindu view of God • Hinduism can be seen as: • polytheistic (many gods) • monotheistic (one god) and • monistic (belief in an unknowable force) • The impersonal, abstract force is known as Brahman – not a “he” or a “she”. • All other Hindu deities are seen as manifestations of this force • God cannot be limited by one name or form
Early Hinduism • First phase - Brahmanism; priests performed the sacrifice. • sacrifice kept proper relations with the gods/universe. • The Aryans were the Brahmin (or priestly) caste– Aryans brought caste system to India • They alone could read scripture, perform rituals - excluded lower castes. • The Vedas, were brought to India by the Aryans – Sanskrit (language only they understood).
Responses to Brahmanism • The disillusionment of lower castes resulted in asceticism. • Anyone (any caste) could become an ascetic–an accepted stage of life. • Known interchangeably as sadhu, sanyasi, wanderer • Ascetics dedicate their lives to spiritual and self discipline.
Asceticism • Defined as “training”, lifestyle that limits physical pleasure while striving for spiritual goals. • Exists in some form in all religions (except modern Judaism) • Usually includes owning very little, celibacy, devotion to prayer, living life according to vows
Independent work: • Read pages 123-126 in “Exploring World Religions”. • Read “Hinduism – Basic Features” and “Goals of Hinduism” from the Hindu Students Organization (UWO) • ONCE ALL READING IS COMPLETE, answer the following: • What is a Hindu’s goal in life? Explain the meaning of the Sanskrit phrase tat twamasi. • What is the nature of the atman? Use the description and the passages from Hindu scriptures of explain. • What is samsara? Draw a picture or diagram along with your explanation to illustrate this concept. • What is maya? How does it describe the physical world? • What is moksha? Draw a picture or diagram along with your explanation to illustrate this concept. • Define the term karma. Draw a picture or diagram along with your explanation to illustrate this concept. Give a real life example of “good” karma” and “bad karma”.