Midterm Essay - Ellis 1 Alana Ellis Professor Mclaughlin...

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Ellis 1 Alana Ellis Professor Mclaughlin RELG 213 20 March 2017 Midterm Take Home Essay Hinduism. One of the oldest traditions to date, encompassing many different practices and expanding across cultural boundaries over time. This collection of customs has been labeled by westerners as the religion Hinduism, though as we move through history, the idea that this could be a singular practice becomes a progressively more deluded assumption. The first Hindu texts emerge in sanskrit during the Vedic period, the time following Indus Valley culture - the inferred origin of the tradition. The Vedic period (1500 - 500 BCE) is earlier oriented around maintenance of material reality; however, it transitions to a concern of transcendence with the introduction of the Jnana Khanda texts. As the Upanisads surface, we see the emergence of philosophical contemplation and problems associated with maintenance of material reality. This movement towards transcendence is encouraged by renunciates and the internalization process of yoga, later complicated by the relational engagement of bhakti, and finally rationalized by the work of Sankara - another renunciate. Originally being concerned with the maintenance of material reality, Hinduism was clearly associated with varnasramadharma and ritual. Varnas is the sanskrit term for caste, and represents that of the Brahmins (priests), Ksatriyas (warriors), Vaisyas (producers), and Sudras (servants). The asramas then, are the Brahmacrain (student) and Grhastha (householder) stages of life. By performing dharma, one was creating karma and contributing to equilibrium. If one performed their dharma, of both the varnas and asramas, as was expected, they were working to
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Ellis 2 maintain material reality, adding to their karma and leading them to samsara - the cycle of life after death. In this respect, one can see that the goal was to fulfill duty both socially and professionally in the maintenance of this material reality, leading to the next life and reincarnation, as opposed to transcendence of this world. Ritual was also performed as a part of this focus. Rituals included the continual recitation of the mantras and of the veda in order to perpetuate reverberations and pulsations of manifestation. Practitioners were able to influence material existence, perpetuating and reverberating in a way that was good for their own well being; influencing their future existence and future births. To sing and chant the world into being through every moment, encouraging sruti and the importance of sound - a primary aspect of sanskrit, pointing to synesthetic experience and oral transmission instead of script. In the earlier stages of Hinduism, ritual had more to do with the Brahmin and Ksatriya class because the warrior or royalty paid for the ritual to be done and the Brahmin would perform it. Here, one can
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