Unformatted text preview: India Rosenberg, 291-294 (Creation) Coomaraswamy, 286-313 (Shiva), 217-244 (Krishna) Indian Geography & Location Mountains in the North Himalayas Mt. Everest Rivers Indus, Karachi; Ganges Bengal in modern Bangladesh. Peninsula. monsoon: Deccan, Civilization Indus valley Ganges valley. Common Assumptions of Indian thought. Dharma. -Duty, responsibility. 1) Atman - Eternal soul/self -Spiritual unity in everything living in the universe -Life is connected: ->Individual soul ->Common soul -Conclusion: Different concept of identity 2)Creation of Universe -Always existed -Samsara (wheel of life) -Reincarnation Moksha - Goal; release from Samsara Hindu myths and religion Main figure before Hindu Hindu characteristics Maha Yuga Krita Yuga Treta Yuga Dvapara Yuga Kali Yuga Comparing Hindu and Greek The Aryan Invasion Sanskrit Vedas the oldest documents in India: Indra, Soma A HINDU PANTHEON (major Hindu gods) One of the most remarkable achievements of Hinduism was its blending of the countless cults, gods and totems of Indias many ages and diverse peoples into one vast mythology--a mythology dominated by the two Hindu gods, Shiva and Vishnu. The characteristics of many of these gods often merged into one: Shiva, for example, incorporates aspects of the fertility-god of the prehistoric Indus Valley people, as well as the fierce god Rudra of the early Aryan invaders and the unnamed dance-gods of the Dravidians of the Tamil region. When such adopted gods were too disparate to be combined, they were simply made members of the families of important gods or incarnations (avatars) of them. Animals venerated by the earliest Indian societies --the bull, the elephant, the serpent-- were joined to the Hindu pantheon as the companions of the major deities. A few of the most known and most widely worshiped of these deities, avatars and companions are noted below: BRAHMA THE CREATOR once thought the greatest of the gods because he set the universe in motion, faded in importance with the rise of Shiva and Vishnu, lie appears in white robes and rides a goose. From his four beads sprang the Vedas, which he carries along with a scepter and various other symbols. SHIVA THE DESTROYER, one of Hinduisms two mightiest gods, represents power whatever his aspect--the fierce ascetic; the demon-stayer entwined in snakes and wearing a headdress of skulls; the Lord of Creation, dancing in a circle of fire; the male symbol of fertility. He, more than other gods, is a composite of older gods, cults and myths reaching back to Indias prehistory. PARVATI (or Mahadevi), Shivas wife, was the daughter of the Himalaya Mountains and the sister of the river Ganges. With love, she lured Shiva from his asceticism; she represents the unity of god and goddess, man and woman. UMA is the golden goddess, a creature of light and beauty, who, as a term of Parvati, reflects milder manifestations of her husband, Shiva. She sometimes mediates conflicts between Brahma and the other gods. DURGA, who is Parvati as a ferocious 10-armed goddess, sprang full grown from the flaming mouths of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Astride a tiger, she uses the weapons of the gods to battle demons. KALI is Parvati turned into Hinduisms most terrible goddess, with art Insatiable lust for blood sacrifice. She usually appears blood-smeared, bedecked in snakes and wearing a necklace of her sons skulls. TIlE BULL NANDI, sacred to the Indus people as a fertility symbol, was absorbed into Hinduism as Shivas constant companion--his mount, his chamberlain, his musician. Shiva wears Nandis emblem, the crescent moon, on his brow, KARTTIKEYA (or Skanda) replaced the Vedic god Indra as the principal Hindu god of battle. The son of Shiva and, in some myths, begotten without a mother, he is interested only in fighting and war. Six--headed and 12--armed, Karttikeya leads his celestial legions from the back of a colorful peacock. GANESESHA. the roly-poly elephant-headed son of Shiva, is probably the most poplar god in the pantheon. Wise, thoughtful and well versed in the scriptures, he is invoked by worshipers before every undertaking to assure success. VISHNU THE PRESERVER and to many Hindus, the Universal God --usually holds four symbols: a discus, a conch shell, a mace and a lotus, Whenever mankind needs help, this benevolent god appears on earth as an avatar, or reincarnation. It is generally believed that nine avatars have already appeared; a tenth is yet to come. Some feats of the avatars reflect Indian history. THE HORNED-FISK MATSYA represents Vishnus intercession at a time of universal flood. The fish warned Manu (the Hindu equivalent of both Adam andNoah), then saved him in a ship hooked onto his horn. THE TORTOISE KtJRMA, the second avatar of Vishnu, appeared on earth after the food to retrieve treasures, including the ambrosia of the gods. The tortoise churned the ocean, bringing up the ambrosia. THE BOAR VARAHA, originally the sacred pig of a primitive cult, became an avatar of Vishnu after a second flood. Digging underwater with his tusks, the boar raised the earth arid restored it to dry land. THE MAN-LION NARATSIMHA was another avatar of Vishnu. Brahma had given a demon invulnerability day and night against god, man or beast. The avatar--god, man and beast--killed the demon at dusk. THE DWARF VAMANA another avatar, became a giant to foil a demon who sought control of the universe. Granted permission to keep all he could cover in three steps, Vamana encompassed the earth, sky and middle air. FARASURAMA was Vishnu as the sort of a brahman robbed by a kshatryia king. Pamasurama killed the king, whose sons, in tarn, killed the brahman. Parasurama then killed all male kshatryias for 21 generations. RAMA the hero of Indias great religious literary epic, the "Ramayana," was Vishnu as an avatar who overcame the worlds most terrible demon, Ravana. Rama represents the ideal Hindu. a gentle husband, a kindly king and, most significantly, a leader valiant under oppression. SITA Ramas wife, an incarnation of Lakshmi, represents the ideal Hindu wife. She was abducted by the demon Ravana and taken to his abode, but remained devoted to her husband. HANUMAN the monkey king, lent his agility, speed and strength to Rama to help free Sita from Ravana. In return, he asked to live as long as men remember Rama; thus, Hanuman is immortal. KRISHNA Vishnus most important avatar, was a hero-god beloved in many aspects: a prankish child, an amorous adolescent a mature hero who spoke the great lessons of the Bhagavad-Gita." These aspects of Krishna had different origins: Aryan, Dravidian, perhaps Christian. BUDDHA as an incarnation of Vishnu, exemplifies Hinduisms ability to absorb disparate religious elements, The avatar Buddha appeared, Hindus say, primarily to teach the world to have compassion for animals, KALKIN the avatar of Vishnu yet to come, is pictured on a white horse, punishing evil-doers and rewarding the righteous. Some Hindus look to his arrival as some Christians do to Christs Second Coming. LAKSHMI Vishnus wife, often shown both sitting on a lotus and holding a lotus, represents good fortune. Her attendants are two gentle elephants. An important goddess in her own right, she is also worshiped as the avatar Sita. GARUOA Vishnus mount, is a mythical white-faced bird with the head and wings of an eagle and the body and limbs of a man. Carrying the god on his flashing golden back, he was sometimes mistaken for the fire--god, Agni. KEY TERMS IN HINDUISM (to explain major Hindu terms) Agni Vedic god of fire Aryans Indo--European people who migrated into India ashrama a stage of life in Hinduism; also a hermitage or place for meditation atmanin in Hinduism, the soul or self, considered eternal avatara descent or incarnation, especially of the great god Vishnu, as Krishna or Rama Bhagavad Gita important Hindu scripture containing Krishnas teaching to Arjuna bhakti devotion, self--surrender to ones god Brahma designation for the creator god in Hindu thought Brahman Hindu term for ultimate reality; the divine source and pervading essence of the universe Brahmanas ritual commentaries, part of the Vedas Brahmins (brahmans) highest ranked, priestly class in Hindu society darshana the ritual act of being granted the "seeing" of a sacred image, person, or place Devi Goddess, sometimes meaning the Great Goddess, often under many other names Dharma in Hinduism, the cosmic order, social duty and proper behavior Divali autumn festival of lights and good fortune in India Durga great, fierce Hindu goddess, a form of Devi Gandhi leader of the Indian independence movement emphasizing spiritual preparation and nonviolent resistance (1869-1948) Ganesha son of Shiva, a popular elephant--headed Hindu god who overcomes obstacles and brings good fortune guru spiritual guide and master Holi popular festival in northern India with a carnival atmosphere Indra Vedic storm-warrior god Indus Valley Civilization urban-agricultural civilization that flourished in the third millennium B. C. E. and left influences on Hinduism jati "birth"; ones caste or closed social group as determined by birth in India Kali goddess of death and destruction in Hinduism, a form of Devi, the Great Goddess karma "action", law that all deeds and thoughts, according to one's intentions, will have set consequences kirtana devotional group worship through song and dance Krishna avatara of the great Hindu god Vishnu; hero of the Bhagavad Gita and popular god in Vaishnavite devotional movements kshatriyas the classical warrior class in Hindu society lingam the phallic pillar that symbol of the great Hindu god Shiva Mahabharata one of the two great epics of Hinduism mantra sacred word, formula, or verse maya appearance, illusion, term to indicate that which prevents one from seeing truly moksha liberation from bondage to samsara and karma; the goal of Hindu spiritual practice mondualism view that ultimate reality and the phenomenal world are not different Path of Action (karma-marga) Hindu path toward liberation based on acting according to Dharma, without desire for the fruits of action Path of Devotion (bhakti-marga) Hindu path toward liberation based on devotional practices directed toward ones god Path of Knowledge (jnana-marga) Hindu path toward liberation based on knowledge, emphasizing meditation pula ritual worship of the image of a god by offering food, flowers, music, and prayers Puranas late Hindu scriptures that developed from popular theistic devotional movements Rama avatara of Vishnu, divine hero of the Ramayana Ramanuja Hindu philosopher and advocate of the Vaishnavite bhakti tradition (ca. 1017--1137) Ramayana story of Rama, one of the two great epics of Hinduism rebirth in the religions of India, belief that after the death of its body the soul takes on another body Rig Veda the earliest and most important collection of Vedic hymns Samhitas collections" of early Vedic hymns and verses; there are four collections: Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, arid Atharva-Veda Samkhya one of the classical schools of Hindu philosophy stressing an absolute distinction between matter and spirit samsara the rebirth cycle of existence sarmskaras rituals performed at the critical changes amid passages of life sannyasin one who has renounced the cares and concerns of the world; the fourth stage of life in Hinduism Shakti divine energy, personified as a goddess; female aspect of a god, especially of Shiva Sharskria great philosopher of Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta(788--820 C.E.) Shiva the great ascetic Hindu god symbolized by the lingam; focus of the Shaivite devotional movement Shruti "that which is heard," the eternal truth, that is, the Vedas shudras classical servant class in Hindu society, the fourth class Smriti "that which is remembered," the tradition, that is, the scriptural writings after the Vedas Tantrism movement in Hinduism (and Buddhism) using initiation, rituals, imagination, and sexual symbolism as spiritual practices leading toward liberation Upanishads secret teaching; collections of teachings about the self and ultimate reality that makes up the last part of the Vedas vaishyas the cIassical producer--merchant class in Hindu society varna "color," term for the c1asses is the classical system of Hindu society Varina Vedic god of the Heavens Vedanta "end of the Vedas"; influential school of philosophy based especially on the Upanishads Vedas most important scriptures of Hinduism, the Shruti; they consist of the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads Vishnu great Hindu god manifested in avataras including Krishna and Rama; focus of the great Vaishnavite devotional movement Yoga techniques of spiritual discipline for overcoming bondage to samsara, often emphasizing breathing and meditation exercises; one of the classical schools of Hindu philosophy Yoni a circular sacred image representative of the female reproductive organ, often associated with the lingam _____________________________________ Indra (Handout) When the Aryans invaded India from the northwest in about 1500 B. C., they brought their religious ideas into the land they conquered. This included a group of gods who personified the forces of nature-- among them fire, rain, and wind. The conquest of India produced heroic leaders, such as Indra, whose accomplishments gave rise to a body of oral legend that was based partly on fact. Indra gradually became one of the great gods of ancient India, acquiring both the divine attributes of older gods and the heroic exploits of mythic characters. Indra was the king of the gods and the defender of gods and humans before the Brahmans and the later Hindus elevated Vishnu to his supreme position. He was also associated with rain and the fertility of the soil. With his great weapon, the thunderbolt, he destroyed demons that lived in darkness and created drought. Such heroic feats were necessary because India's soil was often very dry. Indra's role as a fertility god is evident in this myth, where he successfully fights the dragon and releases the seven rivers that make the earth fertile. The earliest heroic exploits of Indra are celebrated in the Rig Veda, a collection of more than 1,000 mythic hymns, rituals, and treatises dedicated to the pre-Hindu group of gods. For hundreds of years following the period from 1500--1200 B.C., the Vedas were preserved through an oral tradition. Finally the myths were written down in Sanskrit, an Indo-European language that is closely related to Creek and Latin. The Hindus revered the Vedas, but they also changed the roles of the gods to reflect their own developing religious tradition. They created the idea of reincarnation in about 700 B.C., and as their myths reveal, any god or hero could be an incarnation of any other god or hero. This concept united their new gods with the older tradition by making the later gods reincarnations of the earlier ones. Centuries after the Rig Veda, the god Indra still exists in Hindu myth but as a shadow of his earlier self. In the Hindu epic The Mahabharata (written sometime between 300 B.C. and AD. 300), Indra shows fear where once he showed courage, and the dragon he conquered in the earlier myth conquers him in the later myth. In the Hindu Ramayana (written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200), Indra is still the king of the gods, but the demon, Ravana, has conquered him, and Vishnu, rather than Indra, is the defender of gods and humans. Indra's connection with rain is still evident, although he showers flower blossoms rather than raindrops. Soma, the intoxicating beverage that gives Indra his great strength in the Rig Veda, had a very important role in later Hindu religious ritual. Priests sacrificed soma to preserve the strength of the gods. Hindus came to believe that without soma their gods would not have the strength to direct the cyclical progress of the world from one age to the next. Indra and the Dragon (Handout) Indra, who carries the mighty thunderbolt in his hand, rules all that moves and all that rests, all that is aggressive and all that is peaceful. He alone rules the people of the earth as their king, enclosing them as the rim of a wheel encloses the spokes. Whenever they need him, he comes to their aid. This is the god Indra's first heroic deed. Long ago, a mighty dragon named Vritra lived upon the earth. This demon was the enemy of gods and humans alike. One day he swallowed the seven rivers of the earth and imprisoned them within his great mountain. Then he lay down on the mountaintop to guard the waters he had captured. Day and night he lay awake, prepared to defend his conquest against any being who challenged him. The fiery sun rose each day as always. It burned the earth with its blazing rays. Trees, grass, and all forms of plant life gradually shriveled and died, for river water no longer supplied the moisture necessary for them to thrive upon the earth. People prayed to the gods for help, but not one of the gods was strong enough to combat the great dragon-demon. As days passed, the gaunt and greedy figure of Famine began to stalk the land. More and more people were starving. At first tried to buy food. Then they begged for food. Finally, in desperation, they cried for food. Their cries fell upon a great silence, for even the storehouses of rich were empty, and scarcely a trace of food remained upon the earth. Weak with hunger, the people fell upon the dry and barren earth and pleaded the gods to heed their prayers. The gods gazed upon the earth with sorrow in their hearts, knowing that they were powerless against such a deadly foe as Vritra. But Indra was determined to help the dying humans. He was the youngest of the gods, but he intended to prove himself the bravest and strongest. One by one, he picked up three bowls of soma, a sweet, intoxicating drink, and he drank them down. With each drink he became stronger and stronger. Finally Indra knew that he had become the mightiest of the gods. He took his great weapon, the deadly thunderbolt, in his right hand and set our to fight Vritra. He knew that he would find the dragon-demon reclining upon his mountaintop, watching and waiting for a god who would be courageous enough to attack him. As Indra approached, the mighty dragon prepared for battle. Unlike the gods, Vritra had neither hands nor feet to defend himself, but his mouth terrified gods and humans alike. Inflamed with anger, the demon exhaled a foggy mist, shutting out the rays of the sun and shrouding the earth in blackness. Then he spewed forth blinding lightning, deafening thunder, and a cutting storm of hailstones. To Vritra's surprise, Indra showed no fear of the dark. The lightning did not blind his eyes, the thunder did not threaten his ears, and the hailstones did not slash his skin. The young god calmly raised his deadly weapon, and when the dragon's next bolt of lightning illuminated the scene, Indra hurled his great thunderbolt at Vritra. The missile flew straight as an arrow and lodged firmly in the dragon's flesh. The mighty blow crushed the demon's spirit and shattered his body with one stroke. The dragon tottered upon the mountain peak and then fell to the base far below, where he lay like the severed branches of a tree chopped from the trunk. Vrirra's mother came forth to avenge her son, but Indra was undaunted by the sight of another fearsome demon. He summoned his strength and hurled his mighty thunderbolt at her also, killing her as he had killed Vritra. She fell to the ground near her son, lying near him in death as a cow rests near her calf. Indra now freed the imprisoned waters. With his deadly weapon he split apart the mountainside, opening the sealed outlet and releasing the seven rivers. The waters rushed straight down the mountainside and swept across the land to the sea, roaring as noisily as a herd of cows. When the seven rivers once ...
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- Fall '08
- Hinduism, Indra, Shiva, Great Hindu god, god Indra