Lecture NotesHinduism

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Unformatted text preview: LectureNotes:EarlyIndianCivilizations TheRiseandSpreadofCivilizationinIndiac.2500BCAD535 IntroductionandOverview:EarlyIndianCivilization 1)ThethirdofthegreatrivervalleycivilizationsdevelopedalongtheIndusRiverin presentdayPakistan.Itflourishedfromabout2400BCtoabout1500BC. 2)Shortlybeforeitscollapse,IndoEuropeanorAryaninvadersenteredtheIndian subcontinent. 3)Overthecourseofthefollowingcenturies,thesetwocivilizationsblendedand evolved,formingIndiancivilization. 4)Duringthisperiod,twogreatreligioustraditions--HinduismandBuddhism-- hadtheiroriginsandthenspreadoutwards. 5)RiseofMauryaandGuptaEmpires. 6)EstablishmentoffundamentalpatternsofIndiancivilization. a)developmentofcompositeculture(ablendofHindu,Buddhistandjain) b)focusonnonviolence,interreligiousdialogue c)Unityindiversity(manytongues,cuisines,religions,sects,textsandpractices) IndusValleyCivilization EvidenceofhumanhabitationoftheIndiansubcontinent,thathugetriangular peninsulathatishometomodernAfghanistan,Pakistan,India,andSriLanka,goes backtothePaleolithicperiod.1)Itstopographyhasthreemainfeatures:the Himalayas,whicharetheworld'stallestmountains;thenorthernplanes,which includesthevalleysoftheIndusandtheGanges;andtheDeccan,orsouthern plateau,withaclimatethatalternatesbetweenlongdryspellsandthemonsoons. 2)PatternsoflifeduringthePaleolithicandNeolithicperiodsweresimilartothose foundelsewhere.3)TheUrbanRevolutionbeganabout2400BConthefloodplain oftheIndusRiveranditstributariesandcitieslikeHarappa[=huhRUPuh]and MohenjoDarowerebuilt. ViewofMohenjoDarotowardstheGreatBath. Unfortunatelylittleisknownaboutthiscivilization,oftencalledHarappan,partly becauseitdisappearedabout1700BCforreasonsunknownandbecauseits languageremainsundeciphered;itsexistencewasrevealedonlyinthemidstofthe 19thcentury(yourtextsaysthe1920s),andexcavationshavebeenlimited. Survivingevidenceindicatesasophisticatedcivilization.CitieslikeHarappaand MohenjoDaro(=the"CityoftheDead")hadpopulationsofsome35,000,theywere laidoutaccordingtogridsystem.Inhabitantslivedinwindowlessbakedbrick housesbuiltaroundacentralcourtyard.Thesecitiesalsohadacitadel,wherethe publicandreligiousbuildingswerelocated,largepoolsforritualbathing,granaries forthestorageoffood,andacomplexsystemofcovereddrainsandsewers.The latterrivaledtheengineeringskilloftheRomanssome2,000yearslater. StreetinMohenjoDarowithCoveredDrain. LittleisknownaboutHarappanpoliticallife. Economiclifewasbasedonagriculture(wheatandbarley),herding,andtrade. Harappansalsowovecotton,workedmetal,andmadepotsonthewheel. StampsealsshowhumansandanimalslikethehumpedbullofIndia,probablythose believedtobedivine. CausesofthedeclineofHarappancivilizationinvadingAryanswhoroamedacross theupperIndusabout1800BC VedicAryanCivilization,1700500BC) Sources:1)VedicAryancivilizationwasarural/agriculturalnotanurban civilizationandfewmaterialremainsfromitareextant;hencelittleintheformof archeologicalevidence; 2)nowrittendocumentsthatrecordthisinvasion. 3)Intheirabsence:theVedas,acollectivetermfortheancientwisdompreservedin textsaboutrituals,priests,andspeculationsaboutthenatureofthehumanand divineworldsandtransmittedorally.TheearliestVedasdatefromasearlyas1700 BC,andthemostimportantcollectionarethe1,028SanskrithymnscalledtheRig Veda. CharacteroftheAryaninvasion:TheAryanswereseminomadicwarriorswho mayhaveenteredIndiaabout1800BCfrommoderndayAfghanistanbycrossing passesintheHinduKush.TheysettledinthePunjabandtheIndusValley.With themcameanewlanguage,anewformofsocialorganization,newmilitary techniques,andnewreligiousideasandrituals.AccordingtotheVedas,centuriesof warfarefollowedastheAryansestablishedthemselvesandthenexpanded, ultimatelyoccupyingtheentireIndiansubcontinent,thusprovidingthebasisfor modernIndiancivilization.TheinvadingAryansalsomixedwithIndusandother peopleslivingonthesubcontinentandassimilatedelementsofearliercultures. Politicalandsocialorder:Aryans,beinganomadicandnonurbanpeople,their basicpoliticalandsocialorderwasbasedonthepatriarchalfamilyandthegrouping ofrelatedfamiliesintokingroupsandtribes.Earlyinthedevelopmentofthesocial structure,therewereprobablyonlytwoAryansocialclasses,noblesand commoners,andtheDazes,theoriginalinhabitants.Overalongperiodofevolution, however,amorecomplexandrigidfourfoldclassorcastesystem(Varna) developed,anditwasmoreorlessinplacebythe7thcenturyBC: theBrahman(priestly)classtheKshatriya[=kuhSHAtreeyuhz] (warrior/noble)classtheVaishya[=VYSHhuhx] (commoner/herdsmen/tradesman)classtheShudra[SHOOdrah] (peasant/servant)class. Natureofthecastesystem 1)hereditaryandmixingacrossclassboundarieswasdiscouragedorbanned(i.e. marriageorthesocialcustomofdrinkingfromthesamecup) 2)characteristicemployment 3)complexrulesregardingfood,water,touchingandritualpurity 4)eachcastehaditsdharma[=DARmuh],orcodeofappropriatemoralconduct 5)Castesbasedoninterdependence OnlythefirstthreeparticipatedfullyinAryansocial,political,andreligiouslife. Thisfourfoldclasssystemhadalastinginfluenceonthedevelopmentofthelater castesystemwithitssome3,000hereditarycastes.Therewasalsoalargeunder classofoutcasts,theUntouchableswholivedonthefringeofsocietyanddidjobs othersfoundunworthy,suchasservingasbutchersorhandlingdeadbodies. VedicReligion Vedicreligionwaspolytheisticandcontrolledbythepriestswhoservedthe traditionalmilitaryaristocracy.Aryansgodswereassociatedwiththeformsof nature.ImportantdeitiesincludeDyausPitar,thefathergod;PrithiviMatar,the mothergoddessofearth;Indra,thegodofwarandstorm;Mitra,themoralgodof faithfulnessandloyalty;thepowerfulVaruna,thegodwhoguardedthecosmic order(thelawofnatureandtheuniversalmorallawortruth);Rudra,theawesome mountaingod;Agni,thegodoffire;andSoma,thegodofthehallucinogenicsoma plantanddrink.Themainreligiousritewassacrificeandrequestsforthegood thingsoflife;somawasalsodrunktointensifythereligiousexperience.Overtime, thesacrificialritualsperformedoutofdoorsbecamemoreandmorecomplex.The priest,ascustodiansoftheritualsandthesacredwords,becamepowerfuland influential. Hinduism ResultsfromablendingovertimeofthereligiousbeliefsoftheIndusValleypeoples andtheAryaninvaders.Itisbestthoughtofnotasasinglereligionbutasafamily ofrelatedreligions. ReligiousTexts: theVedas,collectionsofhymns,prayers,explanationsofreligiousrituals,and wisdomstatements. thelaterUpanishads[=ooPAHNishadz](composed,ca.8th6thcenturiesBC), whicharecommentariesonthehymnsoftheVedasandexplanationsofVedic beliefs.Inthemarefoundfundamentalspeculationsaboutrightandwrong,the universalorderoftheuniverse,andhumandestiny. Twogreatepicpoems,theMahabharata[=muhhahBURuhtuh](composedca. 400BCAD400)andtheRamayana[=rahMAHyahnuh].Theformer,calledthe GreatWar,tellsofacivilwarnearDelhi.Itslasteighteenchaptersarethe BhagavadGita,or"SongoftheBlessedLord,"andtheyassertthattheperformance ofmoraldutyaccordingtoone'sresponsibilitiesisthehighestformoffulfillmentin life.TheRamayanatellsoftworoyalfigures,PrinceRama--anavataraorhuman incarnationofthegodVishnu--andhiswifePrincessSita.Theyembodythe virtuesandidealsofIndianmanhoodandwomanhood;Ramaisastrongheroand Sitaisadevotedwife. LordRama. NatureofHinduism: 1)Brahman=afundamentaldivineessenceofworldspiritthatpenetrates everythingintheworld.Thisspiritresideswithineverylivingthingandeverything isapartoftheworldspirit; 2)Atman=theself,describestheessenceofanindividual;Atmanpartakesofthe divineessence; 3)Maya=thisworld,theworldofthesenses,theworldofpainandsuffering,andit isanillusion. ThegoalofaHinduisthustoreturntoBrahmanandbereintegratedwiththeworld spirit.Theprocessofreturninvolvesalongprocessofpurification,andaseriesof reincarnations(samsara);thesoul,hence,doesnotdiewiththebody,itjustenters anotherbody,perhapsofahumanbeingorsomeotherformorcreature. ImportantwithintheideaofreincarnationaretheconceptsofDharmaandKarma. Dharmareferstothefulfillmentofanindividual'sappropriatemoraldutyinthis lifetime(basedonhis/hercaste)sothatthesoulcanavoidpunishmentinthenext life.Karma[=deeds]isthesumtotalofthegoodandbadactsoftheindividual's previouslives.Goodkarma,intheHindubeliefsystem,assuresrebirthintoahigher casteandhigherlife;badkarmameansrebirthintothebodyofapersonofalower casteorinsects.Allcreaturesandthingsontheearthhavesouls,soalllifemustbe respected.Thefinalgoalofthisseriesofreincarnationsisreunificationwith Brahman,theGreatWorldSoul. Hindusasserttheirreligionismonotheistic,eventhoughtheyhonoranumberof gods,includingBrahmatheCreator,VishnuthePreserver,andShiva[=SHEEvuh] theDestroyer.Hindusclaimthesevariousgodsareallmanifestationsofthe onenessoftheuniverse.Hindureligiouspracticesvaryfromplacetoplace,butthey frequentlyincludeyoga,physicalandmentaldisciplinetoharmonizebodyandsoul, andritualbathing. BrahmatheCreator. Buddhism Founder:SiddharthaGautama[=GAWtuhmuh](c.563483BC),anorthernIndian aristocratwhowastroubledbyquestionsconcerningthemeaningoflifeandthe existenceofsufferinganddeathintheworld.Inhislatetwenties,Gautamathen abandonedhiswifeandfamilyandacloisteredlifeofluxuryandsetouttoseek answerstohisquestionsusingthetraditionalHindumethodsofselfdenialand meditation.Hisquestlastedsixyearsandinvolvedphilosophicmeditationandthe mostextremeformsofasceticism,orbodilyselfdenial.Thenwhileseatedundera sacredfigtree,hehadamomentofilluminationinwhichheunderstoodthereasons behindhumansufferingandameanstoovercomethem.Atthismoment,hebecame Buddha,or"theEnlightenedOne."Havingachievedthisstateofenlightenment, BuddhathenbecameanitinerantteacherinthenorthofIndia.Withinabriefperiod oftime,hehadalargebodyofconverts. TheBuddha. CharacterofBuddhism: BuddhaacceptedmuchoftraditionalHinduism,includingthepremisethatthe progressofthesoultowardssalvationdependsonthesortoflifeapersonleadsand thatgoodisrewardedandevilpunished. HealsotaughttheFourNobleTruthsandtheEightfoldPathtoNirvana.TheFour NobleTruthsare:1)Sorrowandsufferingmustbeenduredbyall;2)sufferingand sorrowresultfromthegreedydesireforpleasureandpossessionswhichpeople cannothave;3)escapefromsuchsufferingandsorrowisachievedbygivingupsuch desiresandbyreachingastateofmindof"notwanting;"and4)reachingastateof enlightenmentandperfectpeacecallednirvanabyfollowingtheMiddleWay(the avoidanceofworldlypleasureandextremeasceticism),ortheEightfoldPath. TheEightfoldPathisaseriesofguidestocorrectbehaviorandthought.ThePath consistsof:rightviews,orinsightintothenatureoflife;rightintentions;right speech(avoidinglyingandgossip);rightaction(beinghonestandavoidingcrime); rightliving(theavoidanceofharmtoothers);righteffort(thepreventionofevil); rightmindfulness(theawarenessofone'sself);andrightconcentrationtodirectthe mindinmeditation. Buddhismisthusanethicalandhumanisticreligion.Ithasacodeofconduct,andit isegalitarianinthesensethatitopenstopeopleofallcastes;itisalso individualistic.Itdoesnotemphasizetheperformanceofceremonialrituals;there arenodeities;andonecouldattainenlightenmentwithinonelifetimeandthus escapethecycleofreincarnation.Duringhislifetime,theBuddhaandhisfollowers spreadhismessagewidely,establishingBuddhistcommunitiesandmonasteries. Thesesoonbecameimportantpilgrimagesites,centersoflearning,andsheltersfor thesickandaged. DifferencesoverbeliefsandpracticesproducedasplitwithinBuddhismabout100 BC,andanumberofdifferentschoolsofBuddhistthoughtdeveloped.Oneofthe twomostimportantisHinayana[=HEEnuhyahnuh]orTheravada[=thehruh VAHduh],themoretraditionalofthetwoschools,anditviewedBuddhaasa teacherwhohadpresentedasetofguidelinesforlife.This"southernBuddhism" eventuallyspreadintoCeylon,Burma,Thailand,andCambodia.Thesecondschool, theMahayana[=MAHhuhyahnuh],consideredBuddhaasagodandsavior. Adherentsofthis"northernBuddhism,"whichspreadtoAfghanistan,centralAsia, China,Korea,andJapan,turneditintoaformalreligion,completewithpriests, temples,statues,creeds,andrituals.Oneofitscentralconceptswasthe replacementofNirvanaasthehighestgoalwiththatoftheenlightenedstatusofa selflessbodhisattva,a"Buddhatobe,"whowouldhelpothersattainNirvana. WithinIndiaitself,Buddhismhadacurioushistory.InthethirdcenturyBC,King Ashokamadeitthestatereligion.But,theBrahmansopposedit,forBuddhism,by abandoningelaborateritualsandbyopeningsalvationtoallwithoutoutside assistance,threatenedtheirposition.Overtime,manyBuddhistteachingsand attitudeswereincorporatedintoHinduism,andBuddhismmoreorlessdisappeared asaseparatefaith. TheIndianSubcontinent(1st6thCenturies)WesternIndian(5th4th centuriesBC) Persianinfluence:Persiansexpandedeastward;builtgreatcitiesandcultural centers;thesehelpPersiancivilizationandculturespreadintotheIndiasub continent. AlexandertheGreatandtheMacedonians:AlexanderreachedtheIndusearlyin the4thcentury,butsoonhadtowithdraw;nevertheless,theGreeksbrought Hellenicculturewiththemandestablishedcities;thesetoohadalastinfluenceon theIndiansubcontinent,particularwithwithregardtoartandarchitecture. MauryaEmpire(322185BC) ChandraguptaMaurya[=chuhndruhGOOPHtuhMAWRyah]beganin322BC establishingagreatempireinnorthernIndiaandthelandsabandonedbyAlexander theGreat. MapoftheMauryanEmpire. 1)theMauryanEmpireincludedallofpresentdaynorthernIndiaandmuchof modernAfghanistan.2)Asanemperorholdingsupremepower,Chandragupta establishedastrongcentralgovernment,governedwiththeaidofpaidofficials,and defendedhiskingdomwithanarmyof600,000700,000men.Somearguethathe learnedtheartsofwarandgovernmentfromAlexander'sMacedonians.3) establishedacapitalofPataliputrawaslocatedattheconfluenceoftheGangesand theSonrivers,anditwasdescribedbycontemporaryobserversashavinglong woodenwalls,towers,gates,andamoat.Withinweregrandpalacesandother buildings.4)Accordingtolegend,Chandraguptaretiredfromthethroneafterruling fortwentyfouryears,passedittohisson,andbecameamonkandstarvedhimself todeath. Hisgrandson,Asoka[=ahSHOHkuh],cametothethroneabout270BC. 1)Almostimmediately,helaunchedacampaigntocapturethesouthofIndia. Eventually,hisempireincludedAfghanistanaswellasnorthernandcentralIndia. 2)Lawsandpronoucementswerecarvedonmassivestonepillars.Asoka proclaimed:"Iconsiderthatmydutyisthegoodofthewholecountry."Or:"There isnobetterworkthanpromotingthewelfareofthewholeworld.Whatevermaybe mygreatdeeds,Ihavedonetheminordertodischargemydebttoallbeings."(Sixth MajorRockEdict;fromPenguinEncyclopedia,187). LionCapitalofSarnath(Ashokan). 3)Hehad,however,beensickenedbytheslaughter,leadinghimtoadoptBuddhism andrenounceviolence.HethenhelpedBuddhismspreadthroughoutIndia,andhe sentmissionariestospreadthefaiththroughoutAsiaandtheMiddleEast.Hisgreat historicallegaciesthenwerethedisseminationofBuddhismandthecreationofthe ideaofanIndianempire. TheSanchiStupa(3rdcenturyBC). FollowingthedeathofAsokain232BCE,theMauryanEmpirebegantocrumble. ThelastMauryarulerwasassassinatedin185BCE,andnorthernIndiafellintothe handsofforeignrulers. FragmentationandDisorder(2ndcenturyBCAD4thcentury) 1)Numerousinvaderspouredin,themostimportantcomingfromCentralAsiaand theMiddleEast.2)Althoughtheyfailedtoestablishlastingkingdomsorempire, theylinkedIndiawithdistantlands,thusstimulatingthedevelopmentoftradeand theinterchangeofculture.3)Buddhismspreadoutwards,whileelementsofGreek, Persian,andAsiancultureswerebroughtin.EventheChristianreligionarrived,if anyoldlegendcanbebelieved,inthefirstcenturyAD.4)Therewasalso considerablecontactwiththeRomanEmpire,mainlytradeinspices,cloth,and luxuryitems.GuptaEmpire(AD3206thcentury) TheGuptascametopowerinAD320.Overtime,theycametorulemuchofIndia northoftheDeccanPlain. MapoftheGuptaEmpire. 1)TheGuptasfavoredHinduism,becauseitstressedthegods.Buddhism accordinglydeclinedinIndia,whileHinduism,nowsomewhatinfluencedby Buddhism,becamethedominantreligion,astatusitholdstoday.2)Renewed emphasiswasalsoplacedonthecastesystem.3)Overall,theGuptarulers providedaperiodofpeace,prosperity,andculturefloweringduringthefourthand fifthcenturiesAD.Becauseofachievementsinthearts,literature,andphilosophy, thisperiodiscalledIndia'sClassicalAge.LiteraturewaswritteninSanskrit,the Indianliterarylanguage.OneimportantworkwasthePanchatantra[=pahnchah TANtrah],acollectionof87moralisticfableswhichspreadovertheMiddleEast andultimatelyreachedEurope.4)NearthemiddleofthesixthcenturyAD,attacks ontheGuptaEmpirebytheHunsseverelyweakenedit.Thecentralgovernment declined,andpowerpassedtolocallords.NorthernIndiabecameapatchworkof smallstatesandkingdoms,muchaswasEuropeafterthefalloftheRomanEmpire. Conclusion:BasicPatternofIndianCivilization: ThisaccountoftheperiodbetweenthesixthcenturyBCEandthesixthcenturyAD illustratesthefundamentalpatternofIndianhistory. 1)Briefperiodsofpoliticalunity,suchasthereignsofthethreeMauryanemperors 2)Longperiodsoffragmentationanddisunity.3)Hence,formuchofIndia's history,unityhascomefromcultureratherthanpolitics.Thereisgreaterloyaltyto thesocialorderandthecastesystemthantoanyonepoliticalinstitution.Cultureis accordinglybothaunifyingandadivisiveforce. ...
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