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Anth142week3revised - Anthropology 142 Peoples and Cultures...

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Anthropology 142 - Peoples and Cultures of India Week 3 Answers to Study Questions Week 3 1. What is dharma and how what is its relationship to hierarchy in India? (Refer to Pg. 4, the missing page posted from the Opler article) Dharma is the duty or morals concerning family, caste and religion for Hindus. Dharma means the strong concern for duty or right action and involves one’s “duties” as a Hindu. It is often defined as an essence of religion encompassing one’s duty to family, caste, and to one’s self image. A moral counterpart to hierarchy, dharma is a conservative source or bulwark to tradition emphasizing duty according to caste, station, age and sex. Also, the Dharmashastra was mostly written by Brahmans. 2. Name three things/actions/events that Brahmans consider 'polluting' that you and I would not. (Refer to Pg. 4, the missing page posted from the Opler article) 1) Mourning period for a chief mourner; 2) Mother after childbirth; and 3) Menstruation: A female is considered pure until her first menstruation, after her first menstruation, she must go through a purifying ceremony. Also, a person or place can be considered polluted if…examples: 4) If a child plays or runs into a kitchen, the kitchen (and food) is considered polluted by the child. 5) If a woman begins to cook without bathing and putting on fresh garments, the kitchen (and food) is polluted by the woman. 6) If a person doesn’t bathe immediately before worshipping in a temple, they are polluted. 7) If a person comes in contact with a certain human or with animal filth, they can become polluted. 8) Barbering and laundering are also polluting. 3. Opler discusses the primacy of the male principle . Describe Indians' rationale for this, and 3 manifestations of it in attitudes, customs, and/or behavior . (Reader; Page 31) The highest manifestation of spirituality and serenity is a male attribute. 1) Females are not educated as well as males; 2) there could be female infanticide; 3) when a baby is born – neighborhood women get together and sing songs rejoicing for a boy, not a girl. Three other examples are: 4) To ensure the male a rite to male offspring (which can explain female infanticide). 5) Having boys (not girls) participate in the sacred thread ceremony to formally inaugurate them into education (often depriving girls of the same quality of education). 6) Widows are prohibited from remarrying, but widowers are not. 7) Ceremonies promote health and longevity of males. This may explain why women are considered morally frail, secluded from sight, why they are seen as godlings of disease. 4. Describe 3 ways in which the theme of familism manifests in attitudes, customs, and/or behavior according to Opler. (Reader; Page 31) 1) Debts are considered a family responsibility no matter who incurred the debt within the family; 2) Punishment is placed upon a family rather than an individual; 1
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3) Nepotism ; favoring relatives because of their relationship rather than because of their abilities. This can occur in all areas such as business or politics as in the case of the Nehru’s.
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Anth142week3revised - Anthropology 142 Peoples and Cultures...

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