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  2. Shruti (what is heard) Supreme scriptural authority Contains eternal divine wisdom not of human authorship Includes: Vedas Foundations of Hinduism Communicatied by rishis (seer-poets in Ludwig) Primordial authority; co-equal w/time Brahmanas (commentaries on Vedas concerned w/ceremonies) Upanishads (philosophical & spiritual wisdom books) Smriti (what is remembered) Of human origin Less authority Includes: Sutras (guides) Shastras (textbooks concerned w/laws) Puranas (mythological stories) Poems Ramayana & Mahabharata (includes Bhagavadgita Bhagavadgita considered by many Hindus as shruti I. Hindu Scripture

  3. Scriptures (cont.) • Shruti • The Vedas=knowledge • Gathered for ritual purposes, not as historical data • Originally orally transmitted through priests • To write them down would have polluted them • Early Vedic texts focus on sacrifice as main form of worship • Later texts (e.g. Upanishads shift focus away from ritual) • Focuses on worship in different forms, including sacrifice & praise • Important: acts of sacrifice serve to reinforce fabric of creation. I.e. all creation is upheld by the proper performance of these sacrifices

  4. Scripture: The Four Samhitas • The Four Samhitas (collections) • The Rig Veda • Oldest of Samhitas • World’s oldest living religious literature

  5. Scripture: Gods & Goddesses • Gods and Goddesses as symbols of fundamental powers of existence • E.g. wind, water, fire, consciousness • Different aspects of the same underlying reality (esp. towards end of Rig Veda) • See Rig Veda 10.114.5 • Gods/Goddesses are not the most fundamental reality • Gods do not create out of nothing but work with what is already there

  6. Indra Opens way for emergence of existence in overcoming forces of chaos and non-existence Warrior leader Main function to lead Ksatriya class ¼ hymns devoted to Indra In some sense creator as is Varuna Lord of the Thunderbolt Defender of the gods and humankind against evil Separates heaven & earth (notice he finds the Sun) Great drinker/capacity for soma Indra

  7. Varuna • Varuna • Model of order • Presides over order of cosmos; not unlike later Hindu idea of dharma • Dharma= sacred pattern underlying both the cosmic and social orders; micro and macrocosms • Knows all • Moral judge; includes punishment • Upholds truth

  8. Agni • Agni • God of fire • Thus symbolizes central element of sacrifice • Sacrifice is consumed/transformed • Essence travels upwards to realm of gods – from human to divine realm • Agni coveys that which is sacrificed to gods • N.b. Hindus are still cremated, not buried; perhaps linked w/funeral fire sacrifice; atman is thus transported to heavenly realm

  9. Scriptures: Soma, Hymns • Soma • God of intoxicating beverage • Consumed as part of the sacrificial ritual • Special consciousness achieved through divine power of soma • Vishnu & Shiva • Hymns indicate henotheism (one god at a time) • A kind of theism • Later hymns in the Rig Veda begin to probe for an overarching reality; prior to the gods – cf. Creation hymn

  10. Scriptures: Brahmanas & Aranyakas (four samhitas) • Brahmanas – sacrificial manuals • Aranyakas –philosophical speculations esp. on sacrificial fire

  11. Scriptures:Upanishads • Upanishads (c. 600 B.C.E.) • Latest portion of the Vedas • Moves from sacrifice & rituals to philosophy, esp. doctrine of reincarnation • Concerned with knowledgeof the ultimate reality as opposed to concentration on action • Samsara- cycle of death and rebirth. Humans are caught in the eternal wheel of existence • Samsara linked to karma (action). Every action has a consequence which is carried on to the next life • Atman and deeds • Problem includes gods

  12. Upanishads (cont.) • Develop speculation of overarching reality behind gods and phenomenal world • This reality is source of all – termed Brahman • Brahman is outside eternal cycle • Knowledge of Brahman helps bring about moksha of atman from samsara • Power of transformation lies in inner knowledge gained through meditation on atman as Brahman

  13. Scriptures:Smirti • Smirti Gods tend to be more personal • Dharma Sutras – law codes; legal texts, moral guides • Regulate human life & society • Part of eternal order • Eternal order = dharma; specifically one’s religious & moral duty • Great epic stories • Mahabarata (contains Bhavagad Gita) • Ramayana • Emphasis on bhakti • Provide paradigms for human conduct • Reinforce values of dharma

  14. Smirti (cont.) • Puranas • Develop mythology of classical Hinduism • Details cycles of creation and destruction of the world • Genealogies of kings and gods

  15. OM: The Sacred Sound • Vedic tradition places great emphasis on sound and correct recitation • OM (AUM) • Greatest of Hindu mantras • Used also by Buddhists and Jains • OM- the eternal vibratory sound of Brahman that permeates creation • OM represents unity of universe • Often chanted in Hindu mantras and during Hindu ceremonies

  16. OM (cont.) • Can represent the triads of: • Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva • Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda • Earth,atmosphere, heaven • Meditation on OM can lead to enlightenment • AUM (from Ludwig 64) • A – waking state, consciousness directed outwards • U- dreaming state, consciousness directed inwards, but not unified • M- deep sleep state; ‘blissful, unified, massive consciousness.’ • Silence - fourth state and final goal; experience of Atman=Brahman

  17. 15. Yama said: 'That word (or place) which all the Vedas record, which all penances proclaim, which men desire when they live as religious students, that word I tell thee briefly, it is Om .‘ 16. 'That (imperishable) syllable means Brahman, that syllable means the highest (Brahman); he who knows that syllable, whatever he desires, is his.‘ 17. 'This is the best support, this is the highest support; he who knows that support is magnified in the world of Brahmâ -- Katha Upanishad 1.2. 15-17 OM

  18. The long lower curve of the Sanskrit letter OM represents the dream state The upper curve stands for the waking state The curve issuing from the centre symbolizes deep, dreamless sleep. The crescent shape stands for "maya", the veil of illusion The dot represents the transcendental state. One passes ‘through’ the veil of illusion, achieving liberation from the first three states, finally reaching the transcendental state OM: Sanskrit Letter