Flashcards in Hinduism Deck (80)
What was the Vedic Period? When was it?
Began around 1500 BCE to 600 BCE
~it is named after the first sacred writings of Hinduism (scholars think the Vedas were collected during this period)
~The language of the Vedas is Sanskrit
--veda is the Sanskrit word for knowledge
~rituals during this period focused on: prayers, elements of nature, animal sacrifices
What was the Upanishadic Period? When was it? How did it change the religion?
600 BCE to 200 BCE
~ancient India's culture was unified
~Hinduism both accepted the Vedas and added to them with the Upanishads
~Worship began in temples
The Upanishads are an interpretations of the Vedas added to the end of each. They moved Hinduism from a focus on sacrificial practices to a philosophical and meditative way of life--a focus on the inner self
What four things are involved in the origins of Hinduism?
~The Aryan Invasion
What is the Aryan Invasion?
Around 1700 BCE the collapse of an already struggling Indus valley Civilization began. When the Aryans, a very powerful race, descended from the Hindu Kush and Himalayas into the Indus Valley, they brought with them a very different belief system and way of life.
~Aryans were not agriculture people and crafted beautiful bronze weaponry.
~The worshiped only male Gods, their central God being the "sky father" (probably an influence on the Greek and Roman Gods, Zeus and Jupiter)
~Their principle deities, such as Agni and Indra, were associated with the sun (their priests composed verses to these gods which were recited during fire sacrifices)
~The Aryans settled in the Indus valley and maintained their rituals but a lot of the Indus religious culture remained alive in villages and was adopted but the Aryans
Hinduism was born from this mixture
How did the Vedas contribute to the origins of Hinduism?
They are considered the oldest writings, these scriptures originated before the Aryans migrated to the Indus Valley, and eventually they arrived into four scriptures. The historical sweep of the Vedic writing reflects deep shifts in spiritual interests and ways of worship. For centuries the Vedas were only transmitted orally, through memorization and recital. Eventually they were transmitted into Sanskrit.
How did the Ascetics contribute to the origins of Hinduism?
By the 7th century BCE the Aryans and the people who lived in the Indus valley migrated across India to the Ganges Valley and settled there with the native population. Most of the elite were the Brahmins (priests). The Brahmins determined the caste system. At first the Brahmins were looked up to but eventually people began to question them. They took spiritual authority and oversaw the writings of the Vedas and demanding complicated rituals (that centered around the Brahmins and excluded the lower castes). A more individualized of religious life was born, the life of the Ascetic. The Ascetics dedicated their life to spiritual austerity and self-discipline. They stayed out of the social system and would live alone in the forests or gathered with other ascetics who lived lives of intense devotion and meditation. These individuals inspired others away from dependence on priests, creating a revolution of spiritual thought and practice.
How did the Upanishads contribute to the origins of Hinduism?
From the revolution of the Ascetics the Upanishads were created by the Ascetics between 700-500 BCE. They contain almost exclusively dialogues of a guru. These texts are different from the earlier Vedic writings because they are intended to inspire and welcome anyone, regardless of status or caste. These were still hard to understand but what matters is the seeker's depth of sincerity and character. So the fire rituals that were common among Vedic priests were replaced by the deep internal searching of the ascetics. Central to the Upanishadic belief us that of the Atman. Through meditation and self-sacrifice, an individual may come to realize fully that he is not separate from the universal soul, he is not a body or an isolated identity.
What happens during Puja in the home?
~most Hindu families have a place of worship in their homes
~they remove their shoes, ring a bell to summon the murti, light a lamp and burn incense while worshiping
~The murti is washed and decorated with garlands of flower petals
~A small amount of red paste is placed on the foreheads of the murti and the worshipers
~Worshipers make an offering of fruit, light, flowers or sweets to the murti
~A lamp is moved around the murti to indicate the presence of Gof
~Devotees place both hands above the lamp flame and touch their foreheads to receive the deity's blessing
~Any food that has been part of the puja is eaten by everyone present
What happens during Temple Worship?
~The mandir is a complex of shrines, each devoted to a different deity
~when the worshipers enter the temple, they remove their shoes and wash their hands
~They approach the shrine to make an offering and ring a bell to announce their arrival to the murti
~this puja is the same as puja in the home but led by a priest, he will chant verses from the scriptures while worshipers sing and clap while the lamp is circled around the deities
~the service ends with a sharing of blessed food offering
~in another important ritual, havan, a fire offering, the priest lights a fire, then pours butterfat or oil into it while chanting from the Vedas
~the priest offers prayers for purity, dips his fingers into water, then touches his ears, eyes, nose, mouth, arms, body and legs
~worshipers do the same to remind themselves that God lives within them
What are the five levels of the caste system? Is the Caste system legal today in India?
The Caste system is no longer legal in India because it became discriminatory, although people do still use it.
What is the Brahmin caste?
~the priestly caste
~role is to study and teach in matters of faith
~lead mostly to key rituals
What is the Kshatriyas caste?
~the warrior caste
~role is to protect the people and run a fair government
What is the Vaishyas caste?
~traders, merchants, farmers, artists, business people
~role is to take care of the economic needs of the community
What is the Sudras caste?
~they serve the three higher castes
~unskilled workers, servants, menial workers
What is the untouchables caste?
~also called outcasts
~considered outsiders and may not interact in any way with members of the four castes
~they did the dirtiest work in society and lived separately
~this is changing; there are now quotas in place to ensure members have access to better jobs
~Ghandi called them Harijans--means children of God
How does Atman differ from Brahman?
Brahman is the supreme being that the Hindus believe to be their God. However, they believe that the Atman is a part of Brahman that is within them all. They think that when they die, the Atman goes back to Brahman and is then put into the next reincarnation. (similar to our Holy Spirit)
What are the four stages of life? When do they occur? Who follows them?
The four stages of life are followed by the males in the top 3 castes.
The four stages of life are:
1. Student (ages 7-20)-religious education and a willingness to search for the truth
2. Householder(20-50)-duty to family, raising children, earning a living
3. Semi-retired(when family is self-supporting[probably have grandchildren])-retired from worldly life, focus on spiritual matters
4. Wandering Ascetic(when ready)-holy, detached from life, with no possessions or responsibilites
What are the Life Milestones?
Hinduism has 16 milestones and some families observe all 16. The three we study are:
1. Naming a Baby
2. Sacred Thread
What occurs during Naming a Baby?
~mothers and their newborns are separated for the first 10 days of life, for ritual purification. Naming ceremony occurs on the 12th day, usually in the home
~Although modern Hindu naming practices are now more flexible, traditional rules relate to the number of syllables, caste and deity of devotion
What occurs during the Milestone: Sacred Thread?
~intended for 7-12 year old boys of the upper castes to mark his becoming a student
~The boy is introduced to his guru, and from then on is obligated to wear a sacred thread over his shoulder and chest as a sign of his responsibilities to his caste and Veda Studies
~Marks the death of childhood and the birth of a responsible adult
What occurs during the traditional death ritual?
~Traditionally Hindu families move in a procession from the dead person's home, carrying the corpse on their shoulders to the cremation grounds
~The body is placed on the funeral pyre, mantras are recited, offerings are made to the deity of fire (who leads the dead to the eternal realm)
~the ashes are then scattered on water
~The practices are adopted in Canada ex. some Hindu communities built their own crematorium to allow traditional practices
What are the 5 Daily Duties?
Beside daily worship, most Hindus attend to four other religious duties. Here are the five daily duties:
1. Worshiping God: Hindus must devote part of their day to worship. This ensures spiritual contact
2. Reciting Scripture: By reciting from a sacred text, the faithful learn the lessons of worldly and religious life
3. Honoring to parents and elders: Hindus are very loyal family members. Parents and elders are honored for their wisdom and self-sacrifices
4. Helping the Poor: Even the less fortunate try to obey this commandment. Guests, in particular, are given special attention in a Hindu home
5. Feeding animals: Because Hindus consider all life a sacred part of one God, animals are respected and cared for
What is the Hindu Triad? What do they symbolize?
The Hindu triad a combination of three deities that together symbolize the cycle of existence. The three deities are Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (The destroyer).
How many forms has Vishnu reappeared in?
He has appeared in human form nine times so far and they are waiting for the tenth avatar, the mighty warrior Kalkin, who will rid the world of oppression.
What does the term iconography refer to?
The symbols and associations used to describe and represent a deity.
Who was Rama the reincarnation of? Who was his wife?
Rama was the reincarnation of Vishnu and his wife was Sita.
What is the Om or Aum symbol?
It is both a visual and an oral representation of Brahmin or God.
The symbol includes: Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Maya, Truth-Brahman and Creation
What is the Swastika?
It is an ancient symbol of auspiciousness, good fortune and protection. The root "swasti" means auspicious. It was a symbol for Vishnu, it also represents the eternal wheel of life which rotates upon an unchanging center, God. It could be found on buildings or even animals in India because some Hindus think that it protects them from evil spirits and natural disasters. (pre-dates the Nazi symbol, Nazi symbol is drawn in the reverse of the Hindu one)
What is the Lotus?
The lotus bud is born in water and unfolds itself into a beautiful flower, symbolizes the birth of the universe, manifesting itself in all its glory. It is also the symbol of the sun (which rises in the navel of Vishnu). It is the seat of Brahma and many deities are shown sitting on it