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HinduismNotes - Portia Mellott November 3 2008 Religion...

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Portia Mellott November 3, 2008 Religion Chapter 3 Reading Notes Chapter 3: Hinduism “With mind absorbed and heart melted in love” I. Hinduism Introduction A. Hinduism is a term derived from a name applied by foreigners to the people living in the region of the Indus River, and was introduced in the nineteenth century under colonial British rule as a category for census-taking. B. An alternative label preferred today is Sanatana Dharma . 1. Sanatana means “eternal” or “ageless” and reflects the belief that these ways have always existed. 2. Dharma means “religion” and encompasses duty, natural law, social welfare, ethics, health, and transcendental realization. a. Dharma is thus a holistic approach to social coherence and the good of all, a concept corresponding to order in the cosmos. - C. There are 330 million deities in India. II. Philosophical and metaphysical origins A. Vedic Age a. Aryan Invasion Theory i. Western historians, but first advanced by the influential German scholar Max Muller in 1848, the highly organized cultures of the Indus Valley and the villages in other parts of the subcontinent were overrun by lighter-skinned nomadic invaders from outside India. ii. Theory is contested by many scholars and by Hindu nationalists who refuse to believe that their religion is foreign- born. b. Vedas i. The religious texts often referred to as the foundations of Sanatana Dharma. ii. Aryan Invasion Theory believes that the Aryans, the invaders, created the Vedas. iii. Aryans means noble person who speaks Sanskrit and practices the Vedic rituals. iv. Vedas are comprised of four parts: 1. Samhitas- the earliest and are hymns of praise in worship of deities. 2. Brahmanas- directions about performances of the ritual sacrifices to the deities. a. The Brahmanas explain the symbolic correspondences between the microcosm of the ritual process and the “real world” in which rituals are performed.
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3. Aranyakas- “forest treatises”, some people went to the forests to meditate as recluses; their writings make up this third Veda. 4. Upanishads- consists of teaching from highly realized spiritual masters. They explain the personal transformation that results from psychic participation in the ritual process.
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