Hinduism - Chapter 4 Hinduism: All Is One If we were to...

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32 C hapter 4 Hinduism: All Is One If we were to approach the definition and study of religion in terms of rituals, practices, or immediate objects of devotion, we may have a hard time understanding how all of the various manifestations of “Hinduism” consistently fall under one heading. Indeed, contemporary scholarship suggests that there is no such thing as “Hinduism,” but only “Hinduisms.” This problem has been brought to bear on each of the religions we are studying, and is really a problem about the nature of universals and essences . We are proceeding with the assumption that there are universals, or essences, and that there are united by common qualities. Furthermore, if we keep the levels of religion in mind many, perhaps most, of the problems that arise in knowing how to identify unity within diversity will be solved. Another important scholarly question about the study of Hinduism involves the origins of Hinduism. The “Aryan Invasion Theory,” postulated by Max Mueller in the mid-1800’s, stated that Hinduism developed when nomad peoples moved into and occupied the Indian subcontinent, conquering the previous inhabitants. This is not how Hindus understand their own development (it is the view of an outside scholar), and has been questioned by some contemporary scholars of religion. Without knowing every detail about the origins of Hinduism, we can proceed by noting that it combines elements from what initially appears to be two separate traditions and undergoes a process of development through challenges to meaning. For Hindus, their religion is the Sanatana Dharma , or eternal religion. It is this basic belief that unites the many different expressions that can be categorized as Hindu. As Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita , “Howsoever men approach me, even so do I accept them; for
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33 on all sides, whatever path they may choose is mine.” Whether one chooses a more practical form of Yoga, a devotional religion worshiping a specific god, or follows the intricate mazes of a philosophical school like Advaita Vedanta, behind each of these is the belief that all is one , all is eternal . The Pre-Aryan culture of the Indus Valley civilization, occupying cities such as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, were highly developed urban centers by 2000 B.C. Although the language has not been deciphered, and there is much that is unknown about the religion, there are remnants that indicate ithyphallic gods, other phallus symbols, seals with the images of a goddess and a man with horns on his head stead in a lotus position, and bathing areas that could indicate a concern for ritual purity. By way of contrast, the nomadic Aryan culture was polytheistic, with classes of gods representing the heavens, atmosphere, and earth and with this pattern copied into classes of human society (the three highest classes) plus the added fourth class of workers (the conquered peoples). With this background, we can understand the history of Hinduism in five periods.
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2011 for the course REL 100 taught by Professor Woodword during the Fall '08 term at ASU.

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Hinduism - Chapter 4 Hinduism: All Is One If we were to...

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