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Frontispiece Krsna riding through the air on a symbolic elephant made of cowgirls. Rajasthan, Jaipur School c. 1800.

An introduction to Hinduism

Lecturer in Religious Studies Department o f Theology and Religious Studies University o f Wales, Lampeter


a m b r id g e


Published by the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 i r p 40 West 20th Street, N ew York, N Y 10 0 11-4 2 11, USA 10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh, Melbourne 3166, Australia © Cambridge University Press 1996 First published 1996 Printed in Great Britain at the University Press, Cambridge A catalogue recordfo r this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress cataloguing in publication data Flood, Gavin D., 1954An introduction to Hinduism / by Gavin Flood, p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. is b n 0 521 43304 5 (hardback). - i s b n o 521 43878 o (paperback) 1. Hinduism. I. Title.
B L 12 0 2 .F 5 6 2 9 4.5-D C 20
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1996 9 6 - 4 2 7 5 5 C IP

o 521 43304 5 o 521 43878 o

hardback paperback


For Leela and Claire


List o f illustrations x Acknowledgem ents xii A note on language an d transliteration xiii Abbreviations and texts xv Introduction I

1 Points o f departure 5 2 Ancient origins 23 3 Dharm a 51 4 Yoga and renunciation 75 5 Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavism 103 6 The love of Visnu 128 7 Saiva and tantric religion 148 8 The Goddess and Sakta traditions 174 9 Hindu ritual 198 10 Hindu theology and philosophy 224 1 1 Hinduism and the modern world 250
Notes 274 Bibliography 305 In d ex 329


Unless otherwise stated, the author is responsible for the plates. Symbolic elephant (Reproduced by kind permission o f the Victoria and A lbert Museum.) frontispiece Between pages 304 and 305 1 A Saiva holy man by the Kanyakumari Temple, Tamilnadu 2 A mythical representation of Patanjali from the Siva Nataraja Temple Cidambaram, Tamilnadu 3 Lord Krsna. A popular representation 4 Lord Krsna with Radha. A popular representation 5 Lord Siva the ascetic. A popular representation 6 Siva Nataraja, the Dancing Siva. Bronze, c. 110 0 kind permission o f the British Museum)

(Reproduced by

7 A Siva liriga covered in petals, Cidambaram (Reproduced by kind permission of D r David Smith, Lancaster University.) 8 Lord Ganesa (Reproduced by kind permission o f the British Museum.) 9 The Goddess Durga slaying the buffalo demon. Siva Nataraja Temple Cidambaram 10 The ferocious Goddess Camunda seated upon a corpse (Reproduced by kind permission of the British Museum.)

Madras Cidambaram 14 The south gateway (gopura) o f the Siva Nataraja Temple at 15 A young girl offering a flower to Lord Krsna’s footprint (Reproduced by kind permission of Ann and B u ry Peerless Slide Resources and Picture Library. Kerala 18 Teyyam Shrine. Tamilnadu. the monkey-god (Reproduced by kind permission o f Ann and Bury Peerless Slide Resources and Picture Library.List of illustrations 11 Hanuman. 7) Figures 1 Indus valley ‘proto-Siva’ seal 2 The traditions of the R g and Yajur Vedas 3 The esoteric anatomy o f Yoga 4 The development o f Vaisnava traditions 5 Pancaratra cosmology 6 The development of Saiva traditions 7 The development of traditions o f Goddess worship 8 The twenty-five Samkhya tattvas 29 38 99 118 122 15 2 180 233 .) 1 2 The Descent of the Goddess Gariga or A rjuna’s Penance. Bhagamandala. Deciphering the Indus Script. Kerala 19 The teyyam Goddess Muvalamkuhcamundl 20 The teyyam deity Visnumurti Maps 1 India showing some important sacred sites page 2 26 2 M ajor sites of the Indus valley civilization (adapted from Parpola. seventh century c e i3 The Kapalesvari Temple. Karnataka 17 Teyyam Shrine housing three teyyam deities. housing the two deities. Nileshwaram.) 16 A serpent (ndga) shrine. Mahabaiipuram. Nileshwaram. p.

and the C am bridge U n iversity Press reader offered useful suggestions concerning the text itself. Ju liu s Lipn er and. C . Tham ban o f P ayannur in K erala. and M r A le x W right o f C am bridge U n iversity Press fo r his interest and encouragement. and P ro fessor Paul M orris o f V ictoria U niversity. particularly those b y Jo h n Brockington. K laus Klosterm aier. Lam peter. the Tantri o f the Peruvanam Tem ple near Trichur. N e w Zealand. . I should also like to thank M s K im B axter o f Lancaster C ollege o f H igher Education fo r her help w ith illustrative mate­ rial. M an y fruitful discussions w ith D r O liver D avies o f the U n iversity o f Wales. and an afternoon spent in the hospitality o f Sri K . R . Blurton o f the B ritish M useum allow ed me to reproduce illustrations from the museum collection. Sri A . I should also like to acknowledge conversations w ith D r Sumati R am asw am i o f the U n iversity o f Pennsylvania. and to D r D avid Smith o f the same university. from a previous generation.Acknowledgements M an y sources contribute to the form ation o f a b o o k and I w ou ld like to acknow ledge m y debt both to people and to other w ritings. D r R . Steve Jaco b s (a postgradu­ ate student at the U n iversity o f Wales). C . Zaehner. I have been deeply influenced b y the w o rk o f D r R ich Freem an o f the U n iversity o f Pennsylvania w h o introduced me to the traditions o f K erala. A nujan Bhattatirippatu. C h ris Fuller. w h o first introduced me to the stu dy o f H induism . I should like to extend thanks to P rofessor Jo h n C layto n o f Lancaster U n iversity fo r initially suggesting the project to me. A num ber o f excellent introductions to H induism have influenced the present w o rk . have influenced the w o rk. P.

r. i. f. /) and long vow els (a. There is a distinction in Sanskrit between the stem form o f a w ord and the nom inative o r subject case. au). u. i. I generally use the stem form o f Sanskrit w ord s w ith the exception o f com m on terms such as karm a (which is the nom inative singular) and some p roper names such as H anum an (rather than H anum at) and Bhagavan (rather than Bhagavat). o. so transliteration reflects correct pronunciation. e. twice as long as the short. The vow els are approxim ately pronounced as follow s: a like ‘a’ in ‘wom an’ a like ‘ a’ in ‘rather’ i like Y in ‘sit’ i like ‘ee’ in ‘meet’ u like ‘u ’ in ‘put’ u like ‘u’ in ‘rule’ r like ‘ri’ in ‘rig’ f like ‘ri’ in ‘reel’ / like ‘le’ in ‘table’ xm . This b ook follo w s the standard form o f transliteration w ith the exception o f place names and some proper names w hich are w ritten in their generally acknow ledged anglicized form s w ithout diacritical m arks.A note on language and transliteration The languages o f H induism are Sanskrit and the Indian vernaculars. u. Sanskrit is a phonetic language. ai. There are short vow els in Sanskrit (a. particularly Tamil.

pronounced ‘ n g’.A note on language am i transliteration e like ‘c ’ in ‘ red’ ai like ‘ai’ in ‘aisle’ o like ‘o ’ in ‘go ’ an like ‘o w ’ in ‘vo w ’ C onsonants are unaspirated (such as ka. tw o Tamil consonants w hich have no E n glish equivalents are la and ra w hich are retroflex sounds.g. tha. tba. da. dha and na are pronounced w ith the tip o f the tongue bent backw ards to touch the palate. and the palatal na. The m sound o r anusvara represents a nasalization o f the preceding vow el and the h sound o r visarga represents an aspiration o f the preceding vow el: a ‘ h’ sound follow ed b y a slight echo o f the vow el (e. Th e dentals ta.p a ) and aspirated (such as kha. are alw ays found in conjunction w ith other consonants o f their class (except in the case o f some ‘ seed’ mantras). pronounced ‘ n ya’ . g a . The gutteral nasal na. dha and na are pronounced w ith the tip o f the tongue behind the teeth. Th u s hriga and anjali. da. devah is dev a h a).p h a ). A p art from these sounds. . g h a . T h e retroflex sounds ta.

J. reprint 1964-5) Astâdhyâyï of Pânini. V. Oldenberg. Ath. Ar. The Grhya Sütras. Vedânta Sütras with xv BSB . See G.S. The Bhagavadgïtâ in the Mahâbhârata (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.SS. Oldenberg. Hymns o f the Atharua Veda. Thibaut.Ar. Rangarajan. SBE 29. Ap. van Buitenen. Radhakrishnan. Ap. The Grhya Siitras. reprint 1964-5) Àpasthamba Srauta Sütra Ârtha Sdstra o f Kautilya. Cardona. 1988) Atharva Veda. Ait. M.S.Gr. 1981) Brahma Sütra Bhâsya. on ly bibliographical details o f E nglish translations are given. Aitareya Aranyaka Àpasthamba Grhya Sütra.S. A ssum ing that the Sanskrit editions o f the texts w ill be o f little use to the readers o f this book. The Principal Upanisads (London: Unwin Hyman. 1992) Asvalâyana Grhya Sütra. G . Bloomfield. L. w here available. S. H . Pânini. Bh. vol.S. H. 1953) Baudhayana Srauta Sütra Bhagavad Gita. 30 (Delhi: M LB D . His Work and its Traditions. The Arthashastra (Delhi: Penguin. Delhi: M LB D . BA U Baud. N . As.Gr. G. SBE 42 (1897.Abbreviations and texts The follow in g are abbreviations for Sanskrit texts referred to. A st. SBE 29. 1 (Delhi: M LB D . 30 (Delhi: M LB D .S. reprint 1967) Brhadâranyaka Upanisad.

2 vols. Patricke Olivelle. The Principal Upanisads Devibhdgavata Purdna. Kau.Pur. 38 (Delhi: M LB D . The Laws o f Manu (Harmondsworth: Penguin. The Principal Upanisads Kaulakjndnanirnaya Kubjikdmata Tantra Kiirma Purdna. Mbb.U. Hat. Kat. B. M abb has. reprint 1987) Ch. U. Mat. The Triumph o f the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions o f the D evi-Bhdgavata-Purdna (Albany: S U N Y Press. Dbh. G. 3 vols.. A Board of Scholars. xvi . Pur. T. The Hathayogapradipikd o f Svatmarama (Madras: Adyar Library. a Translation o f the Devimahdtmya and a Study o f Its Interpretation (Albany: S U N Y Press. SBK 34. SBE 2 (Delhi: M LBD .U . reprint 1987) Hathayogapradipika of Svatmarama. Encountering the Goddess. reprint 1969) Matsya Purdna. The Mahdbharata. W. See C.U. 1973-8). A Board of Scholars. Doniger. All India Tradition and M ythology (Delhi: M LB D . A. Radhakrishnan. 1992) Jaydkhya Samhitd Katha Upanisad. The Kiirm a Purdna. Chandogya Upanisad. E. 1972) Jab. Pargiter. The Matsya Purdna (Delhi: A IT M . (University of Chicago Press. 1973) Mahabbdsya of Patanjali Mahdndrdyana Upanisad M aitri Upanisad Manu-smrti. M. Brown. Tatya. W. Mann Mark. Yog. Buck. Radhakrishnan. KBT Kur. The Sacred Laws o f the Aryas. The Markandeya Purdna (Delhi: M LB D . 1990) Devimahdtmya. The Mahdbharata Retold (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.List of abbreviations an d texts Commentary by Sankardcdrya. Gaut. Jdbdla Upanisad. Biihler. J. T.Sam. 1991) Gautama Dharma Sdstra.Pur. U. Mahnar. 1973) Devma.Pur. 1973) Mahdbharata. The Samnydsa Upanisads: H indu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mait. 1991) Mdrkandeya Purdna. Coburn. Jay. van Buitenen. B.Dh. F.

J. 1973) Nar. 44 (Delhi: M LB D . Vakpad.. Spanda Kärikäs (Delhi: M LB D . Eggeling. Classical Sämkhya (Delhi: M LB D . Sandal. Radhakrishnan. Harvard Oriental Series 18. Larson. The Samnyäsa Upanisads Päsupata Sütra. Sat. M. 46 (Delhi: M LB D . K. O ’Flaherty.. 1980) Sribha. . The Principal Upanisads TA Tait. 19 (Cambridge: Mass. The Principal Upanisads Väjasaneyi Samhitä Väkyapädiya of Bhartrhari. Su.Stav. reprint 1976) Svetäsvatara Upanisad. 43. 2 vols.U. 2 vols. W. reprint 196}) Näradaparivräjaka Upanisad. Motilal Banarsidass Mimämsä Sutras of Jaimini.. Pur. 1981) Sämkhya Kärikä of Isvarakrsna. reprint 1978-82) Sacred books of the East Spanda-Nirnaya of Ksemaräja. G. A . Mahimnastava o f Puspadanta (Madras: Ganesh and C o. SBE Sp. SBE 48 (Delhi: M LBD . Müller.. reprint 1980) Mahimnastava.I. 41. A Board of Scholars. All India Tradition and M ythology (Delhi: M LB D . Tait. B. reprint 1973). U. SBE 32. 1965) Väyu Puräna. P. Vedic Hymns. Sam. Sam. C .Br. Up.Kar. J.Nir. The Rig Veda (Harmondsworth: Penguin. The Greatness o f Siva. i o f abbreviations and texts MLBD MS. M. 26. Päsupata-Sütram with Pancbärtha-Bhäsya o f Kaundinya (Calcutta: Academic Publishers. Thibaut. Pas. The Mimamsa Sutras o f Jaim ini. Keith. SBE 12.Sam. Vay. 1979) Satapatha Brähmana. The Satapatha-Brahmana. Olivelle. Radhakrishnan. Svet.: Harvard University Press. Tanträloka of Abhinavagupta Taittiriya Samhitä. D. G. A selection of hymns can be found in M. in The Veda o f the Black Yajus School Entitled Taittiriya Sanhita. H. The Vedänta-sütras with Commentary by Rämänuja. Arthur Avalon. Sribhäsya of Rämänuja. Singh. 1914) Taittiriya Upanisad. The Väyu Puräna. (Delhi: M LB D . Vaj. Iyer. 5 vols. The Väkyapadiya (Poona: Deccan College. 1970) RV Rg Veda Samhitä. Chakraborti. A.

Swami H. Visnu Purdna. YS YS bhasya xvm . R. The Institutes o f Visnu. Ayyangar. The Yoga Upanisads (Madras: A dyar Library.Smrt. 1983) Vis. T. H. reprint 1965) Yogatattva Upanisad. S. Jolly. Pur. H. reprint 1967) Visnu Smrti. J. Yog. 1952) Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Aranya. SBE 7 (Delhi: M L B D . The Visnu Parana: A System o f Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Calcutta: Punthi I’ustak. Wilson.U. Yoga Philosophy o f Patanjali (Albany: S U N Y Press.List o f abbreviations anil texts Vis. See Y S bhasya Yoga Siitra-bhdsya of Vyasa.

but a w a y o f life. A l-B lru n i m ay or m ay not be correct in this. b y an outsider.1 In the form er he thought he could find analogues fo r his ow n m onotheistic belief. There are innumerable w ayside shrines to local goddesses or divinized ancestors. and garlanded pictures o f deities and saints in buses. pilgrim ages to rivers and sacred places. A n y visi­ tor to south A sia from the West is struck b y the colour. sounds. A l-B lru n fs com ­ ments notwithstanding. underlyin g the diversity o f the popular religion is a philosophical unity to H indu traditions. the rem arkable Islamic scholar A l-B lru n I made a distinction between the view s o f the H indu philosophers and the ordinary peop le. H induism also contains developed and elaborate traditions o f ph ilosoph y and theol­ ogy. H in duism is the religion o f the m ajority o f people in India and N ep al. o f both the diversity o f H induism and its seem ingly u n ifyin g features. It is an . T h is b o ok is both a historical and thematic su rvey o f H induism . but w hat is significant is that w e have here an early recognition. and b y the centrality o f religion in people’s lives. smells and vib ran cy o f daily ritual observances. shops and homes. w h ich can be v e ry different from those o f the West. F o r A l B lrunl. In this book I hope to su rvey the w ide diversity o f w hat has becom e kn ow n as ‘ H in du ism ’ as w ell as to indicate some com m on elements and u n ifyin g themes. as w ell as being an im portant cultural force in all other continents.Introduction V isiting India during the first half o f the eleventh century. H indus w ill often say that H induism is not so much a religion. majestic temples to the ‘ great’ deities such as Visnu or Siva. festivals.

An introduction to Hinduism Map i India showing some important sacred sites .

starting w ith the vedic religion and exam ining the rela­ tion between the A ry a n culture w hich produced the Veda. m ay find som ething o f interest in its pages. traditions. and chapter 1 1 traces the developm ent o f H induism as a w o rld religion and its m ore recent m anifestations in H indu nationalist politics. Saivism . w hose focus is the G oddess. goes on to develop ideas about H in duism ’s general features and relates its study to some contem porary scholarly debates. C hapter 1 begins w ith the question ‘ what is H indu ism ?’ This is a com ­ plex issue. C hapters 5 to 8 describe the great traditions o f Vaisnavism . and Saktism . discussing the idea o f dharm a. rituals and theologies o f H induism . w hose focus is the deity o f Visnu and his incarnations. this b o ok aims at giving com prehensive coverage o f the history. as the term ‘ H in d u ’ has o n ly been in w ide circulation fo r a couple o f centuries and reading ‘ H indu ism ’ into the past is problem atic. the introductory chapter i and chapter 9 on H in du ritual (which I take to be m ore im portant than doctrine in understanding Hinduism ) are the m ost relevant. in an approach w hich is both thematic and historical. W hile recognizing that it is im possible to include everything in a subject which covers a timespan o f 5.structures of 1 linduism and to explain its inter­ nal coherence as well as its apparent inconsistencies. truth and duty. F o r the reader w ishing to get a general im pression o f H induism . w hose focus is Siva. F o r the reader m ainly interested in the­ o lo gy and philosophy. C hapters 9 and 10 are thematic. This chapter discusses these issues. and the Indus valley culture. C hapter 3 develops the historical survey. exam ining H indu ritual and H indu th eology respectively. T he b ook presents the realms o f the householder and the renouncer as distinct. though it is hoped that others. The second chapter begins the historical su rvey o f H indu traditions. there is som e overlap in the material covered. H in du ism ’s revelation. Inevitably. C hapter 4 introduces the idea o f w o rld renunciation and examines its ideals o f liberation from the cycle o f reincarnation through asceticism and yoga. chapter 10 provides a system atic overview . but it is hoped that this w ill provide m utual reinforcem ent o f im portant themes and ideas. 3 . and the institutions o f caste and kingship. D evi. and highlights ritual as a unify in g feature o f H indu traditions.000 years and w hich has existed over a vast geographical area. particularly from H indu com m unities themselves. The b o o k ’s intended readers are students taking humanities courses in un iver­ sities and colleges. It also lays emphasis on the influence o f Tantra w hich has often been underestimated.Introduction attempt to make clear the .

on the other. and I leave it fo r the reader to judge the appropriateness o f the ‘dis­ courses’ I have highlighted and those I have thereby occluded. in some sense. a ‘ global citizen ’. . and in which issues o f identity and meaning are as im por­ tant as ever.An introduction to Hinduism In w riting this b o ok. Buddhism or Islam . I have assumed that the study o f religion is o f vital im portance in the m odern w orld in which everyone is. are strong w ithin H induism and it remains to be seen w hich becom es the m ore prom inent voice. In H induism w e see tw o contem porary cultural forces w hich are characteristic o f m odern com munities: on the one hand a movement tow ards globalization and identity form ation w hich locates H induism as a trans-national w o rld religion alongside C hristianity. a fragm entation w hich identifies H induism with a nar­ ro w ly conceived national identity. towards global­ ization and a fragm ented nationalism. I hope that H indus reading this book w ill recognize their tradition in its pages. B oth o f these forces.

In In dia’s population o f approxim ately 900 m illion people. in spite o f its diversity. and o f som e com m unities in other continents. M u slim or Buddhist. There are also sizeable H indu com m unities beyond the boundaries o f south A sia in South A frica. E u rope. A ustralia. that because o f this diversity there is ‘ no such thing as H induism ’. Je w s and follow ers o f ‘ tribal’ religions. T he 19 8 1 census in the U S A estimated the population o f Indian com m unities to be 5 . Jain s. the rem ainder are M uslim s. in contrast to being C hristian. w hile others m ight claim that. all o f w hich interact w ith H induism in a num ber o f w ays. Parsees. Som e m ight claim. B ali and Java. There are 120 m illion Muslim s and 4 5 m illion tribal peoples or adivasis. Sikhs. E ast A frica. The truth o f the m atter p ro b ab ly lies som ew here betw een these claims. w h o refer to themselves as ‘ H indus’ . both from w ithin the tradition and from outside it. N e w Zealand.1 700 m illion are H indus. the U S A . Canada. w ith 14 m illion Sikhs and an estim ated 14 m illion C hristians. C hristians. there is an ‘ essence’ w hich structures or patterns its m anifestations. the West Indies. T he difficulties arise when w e try to understand precisely what this means. A s k m any Hindus and they w ill be sure o f their identity as ‘ H in d u ’ . Buddhists. fo r the diversity o f H induism is tru ly vast and its h istory long and com plex.i Points of departure What is H in duism ? A sim ple answ er m ight be that H induism is a term which denotes the religions o f the m ajority o f people in India and N epal. yet the kinds o f H indus they are will vary a very great deal and differences betw een H indus m ight be as great as differences betw een H indus and Buddhists o r Christians.2 This is a w ide m ix o f religions and cul­ tural groups. South A m erica.

som e traditions regard certain rituals as essential fo r salvation. it does not have a unified system o f belief encoded in a creed or declaration o f faith. maintains and destroys the universe. and the term was soon appropriated b y Indians themselves in the context o f establishing a national identity opposed to colonialism .223. o r ‘H in d o o ’. also believe in this. though som e do not. it is a problem arriving at a definition. others do not. such as karma. w as used tow ards the end o f the eighteenth century b y the B ritish to refer to the people o f ‘H in dustan ’. Y et other religions in south A sia. and that salvation is freedom from this cycle.6 Defining Hinduism Because o f the w ide range o f traditions and ideas incorporated b y the term ‘ H in d u ’ . M ost H indu traditions revere a b o d y o f sacred literature. Sikh.5 though the term ‘ H in d u ’ was used in Sanskrit and Bengali hagiographic texts in contrast to ‘ Yavana’ or M uslim . as early as the six­ teenth century. as do so m any other w orld religions. western traditions o f C hristian ity and Islam . Part o f the problem o f definition is due to the fact that H induism does not have a single historical founder. yo g a and vegetarianism . In A rab ic texts. the Veda. others reject this claim. some H indu philosophies postulate a theistic reality w ho creates. Th e actual term ‘ hindu’ first occurs as a Persian geographical term fo r the people w h o lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: sindhu). A l-H in d is a term fo r the people o f m od ern -d ay India4 and ‘ H in d u ’. it does not have a single system o f soteriolo gy. m ost o f w hom w ould be 1lindu.000. such as Buddhism and Jainism . E ven tu ally ‘ H in d u ’ became virtu ally equivalent to an ‘ Indian’ w h o w as not a M uslim . though there are arguably stronger affinities w ith Judaism . as revelation. the area o f northw est India. It is therefore a ve ry different kind o f religion in these respects from the m onotheistic.An introduction to Hinduism 387. while in the U K the num ber o f H indus for the same year is estimated at 300. and it does not have a centralized authority and bureaucratic struc­ ture. Ja in o r Christian. are now com m onplace in the West. H induism is often characterized as belief in reincarnation (sam sara) determ ined b y the law that all actions have effects (karm a). thereby encom passing a range o f religious beliefs and practices.3 There are also m any W esterners from E u rop e and Am erica w h o w ould claim to fo llo w H induism o r religion j deriving from it and H indu ideas. 6 . T he ‘ -ism ’ w as added to ‘ H in d u ’ in around 18 30 to denote the culture and religion o f the high-caste Brahm ans in con ­ trast to other religions.

to the scholar’s under­ standings o f com m on features o r structuring principles seen from outside the tradition. and category. developed b y G eorge L a k o ff. living in Tam ilnadu in south India. o f course. w h o does not accept the Veda as revelation and even rejects m any H indu teachings. P rototype theory. texts and beliefs w hich are central to the concept o f being a ‘ H in d u ’ . The beliefs and practices o f a Radhasaom i devotee in the Punjab. fall clearly within the category o f ‘ H in d u ’ and are prototypical o f that category. this does not mean that the term is empty. The beliefs and practices o f a high-caste devotee o f the H indu god Visnu. to H indu self-understandings. These degrees m ay be related through fam ily resemblance. Yet w hile it might not be possible to arrive at a watertight definition o f H induism . w h o w o r­ ships a G o d w ithout attributes. In other w o rd s. I take the view that while ‘ H induism ’ is not a category in the classical sense o f an essence defined b y certain properties. said iliat H induism is ‘all things to all m en’/ certainly an inclusive definition. on the other. there are nevertheless p rototypical form s o f I Iindu practice and belief.but more in the sense o f prototype theory. Sm ith’s rem ark that religion is the creation o f the scholar’s im agination. H ere w e m ust turn.10 as well as. the idea that ‘ mem bers o f a category m ay be related to one another w ithout all members having any properties in com m on that define the category’ . The question o f the basis o f such judgem ents arises.8 maintains that cate­ gories do not have rigid boundaries. for H induism has developed categories fo r its o w n self-description. yet are still w ithin the sphere. and there are others w hich are on the edges o f H induism . ‘ H in du ism ’ is not a category in the classical sense . T he south Indian devotee o f Visnu is a m ore typical m em ber o f the category ‘ H in d u ’ than the Radhasoam i devotee. on the one hand.9 H induism can be seen as a category in this sense. hut so inclusive as to be o f little use tor ou r purposes. A lth ou gh I have some sym pathy w ith Jon athan Z .I Points o f departure Jaw aharlal N ehru. to m ake judgem ents about the degree o f prototypicality.1 1 in so far as the act o f 7 .to w hich som ething either belongs or it does not . It has fu z z y edges. Som e form s o f religion are central to H induism . T here are clearly som e kinds o f practices. o f H induism . are not pro to typ ically H in du . but rather there are degrees o f categ­ o ry m em bership. w h ile others are less clearly cen­ tral but still w ithin the category. some members o f a category are m ore prototypical than others. To say what is o r is not central to the category o f H induism is. the first prim e minister of independent India.

14 W hile this is not the place fo r an elaborate discussion o f the m eaning o f religion. its origins and the ‘ stream s’ w h ich feed into it are v e ry ancient. but. to w hich the term ‘H in d u ism ’ refers. w hen the term w as used b y H indu reform ers and w estern orientalists. a selection. R eligion needs to be located squarely w ithin human society and culture. albeit a religion w hich em braces a w ide variety w ithin it. H ow ever. as some scholars have m aintained. stories. Th is is indicated b y the frequent use o f the term ‘ faith’ as a syn on ym fo r ‘ religion’ .An introduction to Hinduism scholarship involves a reduction. Th e term ‘ H in d u ’ certainly does refer in the contem po­ rary w o rld to the dom inant religion o f south A sia. extending back to the Indus valley civi­ lization. a transform ation in the m odern w o rld o f themes already present. It is im portant to bear in mind that the form ation o f H induism . texts. a highlighting o f some dis­ courses and texts and a backgrounding o f others. its characterization pu rely in terms o f belief is clearly inadequate and w ou ld need to be m odified to include a variety o f hum an practices. and to indicate some para­ meters o f its use. there is no privileged discourse o f religion outside o f particular cultures and societies. it is neverthe­ less im portant to m ake som e rem arks about it. D efinitions o f religion provoke much debate and disagreem ent. there is nevertheless a w ide b o d y o f ritual practices. form s o f behaviour. The fam ous sociologist Em ile D urkheim in The E lem en tary Form s o f the . doctrines. but to use the term w e have to have some idea o f w hat w e m ean b y it. w ith the necessary qualifications. and deeply felt personal experiences and testim onies. understanding. Religion and the sacred W hat w e understand b y H induism as a religion p artly depends upon w hat w e mean b y ‘ religion’ . w hich defines it in terms o f belief. largely Protestant. If ‘ religion’ is to contribute to our understanding o f hum an view s and prac­ tices. to the traditions w h ich have led to its present form ation.12 I take the view that ‘ H in du ism ’ is not p u rely the construction o f w estern orientalists attem pting to m ake sense o f the plurality o f reli­ gious phenom ena w ithin the vast geographical area o f south A sia. O u r understanding o f H induism has been mediated b y w estern notions o f w hat religion is and the projection o f H induism as an ‘ other’ to the West’s C hristian ity. as the w o rld religion w e kn o w today. has on ly occurred since the nineteenth century. I shall use the term ‘ H in d u ’ to refer not on ly to the contem porary w orld religion.13 but that ‘H in du ism ’ is also a developm ent o f H indu self-understanding. T he category ‘ religion’ has developed out o f a C hristian.

w ill the next day be sim ply human again. T he sacredness o f time. establishes a ‘ sacred cosm os’ w hich provides the ‘ultimate shield against the terror o f an om y’ . mediating betw een the com m unity and the divine.10 There has been a tendency in recent studies to reduce the ‘ religious’ to the ‘ political’ .20 T he sacred in H in duism is mediated through innum erable. the concept o f the sacred is distinctive to a religious discourse w ithin cultures. T he sacred exists entirely w ithin culture. persons and places and w hich is opposed to chaos and death. T he ‘sacred’ refers to a quality o f m ysterious pow er w hich is believed to dw ell w ithin certain objects. imbuing individual and social life w ith meaning. Religion. or w o o d . as does the political. to use Peter B erger’s phrase. There is nothing in H induism w hich is inherently sacred. a ‘ num inous’ experience to use the term coined b y the G erm an theologian R u d o lf O tto. locations. W hile this p ow er is not divorced from p o lit­ ical power. but once con ­ secrated is em pow ered and becom es the focus o f mediation: ‘ it becom es sacred b y having our attention directed to it in a special w a y ’ . follow in g Berger. A ritual dance perform er w h o is p o s­ sessed b y a god one day. but relational.15 Th is unified set o f beliefs and practices is a system o f sym bols w hich acts. metal. In H induism a sense o f the sacred m ight be experienced as the sense o f a greater being outside o f the self. it can nevertheless exist independently.17 or the sense o f the sacred m ight occur as an inner o r con ­ templative experience w ithin the self. as is seen in popular religious festivals and personal devotional and ascetic practices w hich result in states o f inner ecstasy.Points oj depart arc Religious L ife . images and people.16 This sense o f sacred p ow er is o f vital im portance to the experience o f men and w om en throughout the h istory o f religions. defined religion as ‘ a unified set o f beliefs and practices relative to sacred things’ which creates a social bond between p eop le. as a ‘ sacred can o p y’. objects o r persons depends upon context and the boundaries betw een the sacred and the everyd ay are fluid. they change according to circum stances and situation. T he sacred is regarded as divine p ow er manifested in a variety o f contexts: tem ples. characterized b y a feeling o f awe. as Jon athan Smith has observed.19 W hile it is im portant to recognize that the religious exists o n ly w ithin specific cultural contexts. first published in 19 15 . changing form s w hich 9 . or the tem ple image or icon p rio r to consecration is m erely stone. T he categories o f the sacred and the everyd ay are not substantive. fascination and m y stery. w hat m ight be called a ‘m ystical’ experience.

I am not concerned w ith the truth o r falsity o f the claims made b y the traditions described here.23 T he m ethods o f religious stud­ ies must mediate between. draws on a num ber o f m ethods w ithin the human sciences: anthropology. as an old wom an. General features of Hinduism M an y H indus believe in a transcendent G o d . T he understanding o f these aspects o f human experience is. be w a ry o f regarding these categories as watertight. The transcendent is mediated through icons in tem ples. beyond the universe. There has been much recent debate concerning the nature o f objective studies o f other cultures b y ‘w estern’ social scientists and a questioning o f the v ery possibility.22 W hile it m ay be true that w e are all personally affected b y w hat draw s us. as N inian Sm art has pointed out.21 Th is study o f H induism assumes this point and assumes that the academic study o f religion. as a majestic king. and the dispositions o f the m ethod used. through natural ph e­ nomena.24 N eedless to say. the objective structure o f H indu traditions and H indu self-reflection. the present study is written from a perspective standing outside H induism . rather than from inside. o r desirability. on the other. the co m ­ m unity o f ‘ readers’ w h o are external (whether o r not they happen to be H indus). ph ilosop h y and phenom enology. and. and w hich have had p rofoun d personal significance fo r people w ithin them. We should. and that the researcher be aware o f the lim itations o f his o r her perspective on the object o f study. as a beautiful you ng girl. fo r there is a dialectical relation between the objective structures o f H induism . centred on mediation and transform ation. history. indispensable in the plural cultures o f the contem ­ p o rary w o rld . religious im agination. on the one hand. its beliefs and practices. m ethodologi­ cally. o r even as a featureless stone. T he French social thinker Pierre Bourdieu has asked that w e clarify the position o f the author. o f objectivity. however. or through living teachers and saints. These claims are part o f the social and psychological fabric o f H in du com m unities w hich have given them life. o r religious studies.An introduction to Hinduism bear w itness to a d eeply rich. Such a H indu might say that this suprem e being can be w orshipped in innum erable form s: as a handsome yo u n g man. w h o is yet w ithin all living beings and w h o can be approached in a variety o f w ays. m any H indus w ill regard these as an aspect or . H induism is often charac­ terized as being polytheistic. and while it is true that innum erable deities are the objects o f w orsh ip.

‘ ethics’ . D evotion (b h a k ti) to deities mediated through icons and h oly persons provides refuge in times o f crisis and even final liberation (m oksa) from action {karm a) and the cycle o f reincarna­ tion (samsara). It has acted rather as a reference point fo r the construction o f H indu identity and selfunderstanding. T he transcendent is also revealed in sacred literature. inspired but nevertheless regarded as being o f human authorship. T he tw o terms v ed a and dharm a are o f central im portance in w hat m ight be called H indu self-understanding. is im portant.28 Th e nineteenth-century H indu reform ers speak o f H induism as the eternal religion or law (sanatana . called dharm a. com prising rules o f conduct (the D harm a literature) and stories about people and gods (the E p ics and m ythological texts called Puranas). ‘ d u ty ’ . incorporating the ideas o f ‘ truth’ . a sacred lan­ guage o f H induism . and in codes o f ritual. There is also a large body o f Sanskrit literature. and some scholars have regarded reference to its legit­ im izing authority as a criterion o f being H in d u . w hich are revered as being equal to the Veda b y som e H indus. whether in its accep­ tance or rejection. The term v ed a means ‘kn ow led ge’ . particu­ larly Tamil. It is that po w er w hich upholds o r supports society and the cos­ mos. revered as revelation (sruti) and as the source o f dharm a. w hich that literature reveals. though its acceptance is not universal am ong H indus and there are form s o f H induism w hich have rejected the Veda and its legitim izing authority in the sanctioning o f a hierarchical social order.27 D harm a is revealed b y the Veda. originally revealed to the ancient sages (rsi). but has a w ider connotation than this. the actual content o f the Veda has often been neglected b y H indu traditions. Th e Veda as revelation is o f vital im portance in understanding H induism . social and ethical behaviour. that p o w er w hich constrains phenom ena into their particularity. called the ‘Veda’.l'oints of departure manifestation o f sacred power.25 There are also texts in vernacular Indian languages. and passed through the generations initially as an oral tradition. all H indu traditions make some reference to the Veda. H ow ever. These texts might be regarded as a secondary or indirect revela­ tion (sm rti). It is the nearest semantic equivalent in Sanskrit to the E nglish term ‘ religion’. which makes things what they are. conveyed to the com m unity b y them.26 W hile revelation as an abstract. V E D A A N D DHARMA The Veda is a large b o d y o f literature com posed in Sanskrit. ‘law ’ and even ‘ nat­ ural la w ’ . o r even notional entity.

An introduction to Hinduism dharm a). a com m on idea among m odern I lindus today in their self­ description. O ne striking feature o f H induism is that practice takes precedence over belief. dharm a refers to the duty o f high-caste H indus w ith regard to social position. and the rejection o f w o rld ly . and the lower. and w hose selfunderstanding any account o f H induism needs to take seriously. and from the secondary revelation. but the practice o r perform ance o f certain duties. A s Frits Staal says. Behaviour. w ith the higher. o f course. but w hat m akes him into a H indu are the ritual practices he perform s and the rules to w h ich he adheres. It is generally the Brahm an class that has attempted to structure coherently the m ultiple expressions o f H induism . one’s caste o r class (v a rn a ). M ore specifically. The Veda and its ritual reciters. b y gender. polluted and polluting. A dherence to dharm a is therefore not an accep­ tance o f certain beliefs. w ho adheres to its rules w ith regard to pu rity and m arriage. are the closest H induism gets to a legitim izing authority. a caste. orth op raxy over o rth o­ doxy. and the stage o f life one is at (asram a). pantheist. W hat a H indu does is m ore im portant than w hat a H indu believes. atheist. The boundaries o f w hat a H indu can and cannot do have been largely deter­ mined b y his or her particular endogam ous social group. H induism is not credal. strati­ fied in a hierarchical order. com ­ munist and believe w hatever he likes. a H indu ‘m ay be a theist. O ne might add that these rituals and social rules are derived from the H indu p rim ary revelation. A ll this is incorporated b y the term varn asram a-dharm a. fo r the Brahm an class has been extrem ely im portant in the dissemination and maintenance o f H indu cul­ ture. the highest caste o r Brahm ans. or caste. and w h o perform s its prescribed rituals which usually focus on one o f the m any H indu deities such as Siva o r Visnu. expressing H indu values and p o w er structures. w hich are defined in accordance w ith dharm ic social stratification. takes precedence over belief. and. castes at the bottom . the inspired texts o f hum an authorship. purer castes at the top o f the structure. A H indu is som eone born w ithin an Indian social group. This social hierarchy is governed b y the distinction between p u rity and pollution. R I T U A L AN D SALVATION D harm a implies a fundam ental distinction betw een the affirm ation o f w o rld ly life and social values on the one hand. w hat he does\ 29 This sociological characterization o f H induism is v e ry com pelling. the Veda. in short.

Th is distinction between practical religion and religion as soteriology. the path o f salva­ tion. at death. even con­ tradictory. the ensuring o f a better lot in this life and the next. w h o has highlighted this distinction. fo r exam ple b y dem anding a certain yoga practice. others might not. and do. The latter is concerned w ith legitim izing hierarchical social relationships and propitiating deities. as Lou is D um ont has show n . the debt o f ritual to the gods (deva) as a householder. perform s his ow n funeral and seeks final release. is expressed at the social level in the figures o f the householder. R eligion in w orld ly life is concerned with practical needs. T he highcaste householder is born w ith three debts (rna) to be paid: the debt o f vedic study to the sages (rsi) as a celibate student (brahm acârin). how soever conceptualized. w hile others might not. a w an ­ dering ascetic. the regular ordering o f life through ritual w hich is generally distinct from reli­ gion as leading to personal salvation o r liberation (moksa). T he purposes o f the householder and renouncer. The form er involves an element o f faith and. whereas com m unal religion is concerned w ith the regulation o f com m unities. and the renouncer w h o abandons social life. some might be open to U ntouchable castes. initiation into the particular w a y o r method leading to the practitioner’s spiritual goal. and the regulating o f one’s passage through time in the social institutions into which one is born. the help o f deities in times o f crisis such as a child’s illness. The relationship between soteriology and practical religion is variable. H indus might. Paths m ight demand com plete celibacy and the renouncing o f social life. has called the form er ‘com m unal religion’ to distinguish it fro m soteriology.3 1 are quite different. in w hich case the H indu w ou ld becom e a renouncer (samnyâsin).Points of departure life or renunciation (sam nyasa) in order to achieve salvation or liberation (moksa) on the other. the ritual struc­ turing o f a person ’s passage through life. m arriage and funeral rites. between appeasement and m ysticism . to another w orld. participate in both form s o f religion. yet are both legitimated w ithin H in du traditions.30 R eligion as soteriology is concerned w ith the individual and his/her ow n salvation. Some spiritual paths m ight allow w om en to be initiated. more im portantly. T he aim o f a spiritual path is eventual liberation rather than w o rld ly prosperity which is the legitimate goal fo r the fo llo w er o f practical religion. and the successful transition. and the debt o f begetting a 13 . Richard G om brich. o r they m ight be adapted to the householder continuing to live in the w orld . w h o maintains his fam ily and perform s his rit­ ual obligations. This kind o f religion is concerned w ith birth.

ONE AND M ANY GODS T he term polytheism can be applied to H induism in so far as there is a m ul­ tiplicity o f divine form s. or is thought to open a channel o f com m uni­ cation between. and spatially through temples. These differences are mediated tem ­ p o rarily through ritual and festival cycles. renouncers and gurus mediate betw een the sacred and the everyday w orld s. as in the fam ous text o f secondary revelation. the difference betw een hum ans and deities. 14 . M EDIATION AND THE SACRED C entral to any understanding o f H induism is the role o f m ediation between the sacred and the everyday or ‘p rofan e’ .An introduction to Hinduism son to m ake funeral offerings to the ancestors (pitr). the H in du and the transcendent p o w er em bodied in the icon. icons. h oly persons and h oly places. the B h a g a v a d G ita . In ritual. as do people w h o becom e tem porarily possessed during certain festivals. from pan-H indu deities such as Siva. such as L o rd Jagannâth at Puri. and deities in local village shrines. Som etim es. W hat is im portant is that the deities as icons in temples mediate between the human w orld and a divine or sacred reality and that the icon as d eity m ight be seen as a ‘ spiritualization’ o f matter. The place o f the interac­ tion o f the sacred w ith the human is the place o f m ediation. on ly once these debts have been paid can a householder go forth to seek libera­ tion. and maintain that the other deities are lo w er manifestations o f this suprem e G o d . Sim ilarly. say K rsn a or Siva. transcendent G o d. and the differences between human groups. m any H indus w ill also say that they are aspects or m anifesta­ tions o f a single. Traditionally. the connection between the com m unity or individual and the religious focus. Som e H indus w ill identify this tran­ scendent focus w ith a specific G o d . o fferin g incense to the icon o f a deity mediates betw een. the ideals o f household obligation and ascetic renuncia­ tion are brought together b y saying that a person can w o rk towards liber­ ation w hile still fulfilling his w o rld ly responsibilities. These deities are distinct and particular to their location. O ther H indus w ill say that all deities are aspects o f an im personal absolute and that deities o f m yth olo gy and the icons in tem ples are w in dow s into this ultimate reality. the goddess in a shrine in one village is distinct from the goddess in a different shrine. M ediation underlines difference. Visnu and G anesa to deities in regional temples. W hile m ost H in du s w ill regard these deities as distinct.

Points of departure The distinction between the sacred and the everyday overlaps with the important distinctions between the pure and the im pure. B oth con­ tain sacred p o w er and are identified w ith the deity. mediates betw een the sacred realm and the human com m unity. A gain. o f lover and beloved. w hile difference mediated b y innum erable spatial and tem poral form s is central. This idea o f an iden­ tity betw een the w orsh ipper and the d eity has even been called. T he icon. indeed. Should the divine interact w ith the hum an outside ritual contexts. are places w here the sacred is manifested and H indus receive blessings through visiting these sites. then the u n lo o ked-fo r m ediation might not be w elcom e and. the absolute (brahm an). W hile the deity is w orshipped as distinct. B oth icon and p o s­ sessed person are not m erely representations o f the deity. O ne such crossing is the sacred city o f Varanasi w hich is so sacred that lib ­ eration w ill occur at death fo r those lu ck y enough to die there. is also im portant. but have actually become the deity w ithin the particular. t hough m ay also be manifested in im purity.32 T he sacred is generally regarded as pure. the deity and devotee nevertheless share in the same essence and at a deep level they are one. ritual situation. and b y im plication the absence o f m ediation. and the auspic ious and the inauspicious: distinctions w hich have been em phasized in recent studies o f H induism . to be identical w ith the essence o f the cosm os. or person w ho has becom e an icon. H ere. such as in an unexpected possession illness. The possessed man o r w om an recapitulates the tem ple icon. N o t o n ly certain people. Places o f pilgrim age are called ‘ crossings’ (tirtha). circum scribed. T h e sacred is also auspicious. or o f the low -caste perform er into the sacred deity. mediate between the sacred and the everyday. their true self (atm an). Yet. The transform ation o f the non-em pow ered icon into em powered icon. as w hen a goddess o f sm allpox and other dis­ eases visits one’s family.33 The idea o f a boundless identity is at the heart o f m any H in du soteriologies w hich assert the essence o f a person. rivers. yet m ay on occasion be inauspicious. such as the G anges in the north o r K averi in the south. as in the A gh o ri ascetic living in the polluting crem ation ground. the crossing from everyd ay to the sacred w ill be permanent. but also certain places. b y the 15 . E ven traditions w hich em phasize the distinction between G o d and the self at som e level usually accept the identity or partial identity o f w orsh ipper and w orshipped. is a central structure o f I Iindu religious consciousness. identity rather than hierarchy. could be dangerous.

claims that a tradition com prises m ultiple streams w hich merge into a single m ainstream . yet she retains her distinct identity. so the discussion is directed tow ards whether H induism fits the river m odel or. is united w ith him. often founded b y a specific person. The tradition o f brahmanical orth op raxy has played the role o f ‘ master narra­ tive’. Ràdhà. the self and the absolute m ight be one. perhaps united b y com m on cultural sym bols. There are essentially tw o models o f tradition: the arboreal model and the river m odel. original tradition. the renouncer traditions and popu lar o r local traditions. and w hich refer to themselves as ‘traditions’ (sam pradâya) o r system s o f teacher-disciple transm ission (param parâ). The m any traditions w hich feed in to contem porary H induism can be subsum ed under three broad headings: the traditions o f brahmanical orthopraxy. BRAHM ANICAL TRADITIONS T he brahmanical tradition can itself be subdivided into a num ber o f sy s­ tems or religions w hich are distinct yet interrelated. and defining the conditions o f orthopraxy. In pre-Islam ic India there w ould have been a num ber o f dis­ tinct sects and regional religious identities.34 Yet the coexistence o f identity and difference. to extend the metaphor.35 C on tem porary H induism cannot be traced to a com m on origin. one o f 1lin d u ism ’s ‘ axiom atic truths’ . are focused upon a particular deity 16 . W hile these m odels have restricted use in that they suggest a teleological direction o r intention. transm itting a b o d y o f know ledge and behaviour through time. the exact inverse o f the arboreal m odel. yet there is difference: the god K rsn a’s con ­ sort. o f im m ediacy and m ediation. H indu traditions T he idea o f tradition inevitably stresses unity at the cost o f difference and divergence. but no notion o f ‘ H in du ism ’ as a com prehensive entity. Y et there are nevertheless striking continuities in H in du traditions. T he arboreal m odel claims that various sub-traditions branch o ff from a central. The river m odel. is also axiom atic. w h ich developed signifi­ cantly during the first millennium c e . the river model w ou ld seem to be m ore appropriate in that it em phasizes the m ultiple o ri­ gins o f H induism .An introduction to Hinduism anthropologist C h ris Fuller. yet caste and gender differences matter. such as adherence to varnâsram adharm a. w hether the term ‘ H in du ism ’ sim ply refers to a num ber o f quite distinct rivers. These traditions. T h ere is unity.

there are also local or popular tradi­ tions w hich exist w ithin a bounded geographical area. Saiva and Sakta thinking. Visnu. Siva. vedic W hile there are pan-H indu traditions o f Vaisnavism . w hile their value system is distinct from that o f the Brahm an householders. though orthoprax renunciation must be seen in the context o f general Indian renouncer traditions kn ow n as the Sram ana traditions. These Sram ana traditions. w hich explores questions o f existence and know ledge. focused o n Siva.36 C utting across these religious traditions is the th eology o f Vedanta. w hile still being w ithin the general category o f H induism . some brahm anical householder traditions. though to a lesser extent. are nevertheless closely related to the brah­ manical religions. three are particularly im portant in H indu self-representation: Vaisnava traditions. a dis­ course w hich penetrated Vaisnava and. Ganesa and D evi. developed during the first m illennium orthopraxy. Saiva traditions. w o rld ly success and profit (artha). T he ideal o f renunciation is incorporated w ithin the structure o f orthoprax H induism . THE RENOUNCER TRADITIONS The renouncer traditions. focused on the deity Visnu and his incarnations. even w ithin a 17 . those w h o fo llo w the sm rti o r secondary revelation. Saivism and Saktism alongside the renouncer traditions. Indeed. focused on the G odd ess or D evi. Surya. such as Saivism . These traditions have their ow n sacred texts and rituals. T he Vedanta tradition became the philosophical basis o f the H indu renaissance during the nineteenth cen tury and is pervasive in i he w orld religion w hich H induism has becom e. the unfolding o f a sophisticated discourse about the nature and content o f sacred scriptures. The Vedanta is the theological articulation o f the vedic traditions. T he renouncer traditions espouse the values o f asceticism and w orld transcendence in contrast to the brahm anical householder values o f affirm ing the goals o f w o rld ly responsibility (dh arm a).Points o f departure or group o f deities. A m ong these broadly brahmanical system s. PO PULAR TRADITIONS b c e and w ere in conflict w ith brahmanical. including B uddhism and Jainism . and erotic and aesthetic pleasure (kdm a). There is . and w h o w orsh ip five deities. and Sakta traditions.ilso an im portant tradition o f Brahm ans called Sm artas. originated am ong the w orld-renouncers seeking liberation while living on the edges o f society in w ild places and in crem ation grounds.

T h eir languages o f transm ission are the regional. particularly anthropologists w h o have carried out fieldw ork in a specific locality. stress the discontinuities o f tradition.38 Scholars w h o interpret H induism holistically. are essen­ tially conservative and resistant to change. ver­ nacular languages rather than the Sanskrit o f the brahmanical tradition. the D ravidian god­ dess o f pustular diseases.An introduction to Hinduism particular village. fo r example. brahm anical tradition has been underestimated and. brahmanical culture. but interacting w ith it. w h o demand o ffer­ ings o f blood and alcohol. F o r exam ple. em phasizing the im portance and independence o f regional o r popular religion. M ore recent examples might be the northern G odd ess Santos! M a. and that one is not haunted o r possessed b y ghosts. T he influence o f south Indian D ravidian culture on the grand narrative o f the Sanskritic. Local deities can also becom e pan -H in du deities and local narratives becom e com m only shared m yths. m ay have been a local deity w h o became pan-H indu.40 H indu traditions. they are nevertheless inform ed b y the ‘ higher’ culture. pan-H indu myths.39 O thers. o r the Kerala deity A iyap p an . Local deities becom e identified w ith the great deities o f the brahmanical tradition and local m yths becom e identi­ fied w ith the great. w ith their emphasis on continuity and the im p or­ tance o f the teacher or guru in the transference o f know ledge. T h ey are less concerned w ith asceticism than w ith ensuring that crops grow . w h o has become a pan-H indu d eity through having becom e the subject o f a m ovie. The process w h ereb y the brahmanical tradition influences popular reli­ gion is called Sanskritization. that illness keeps aw ay from the children. might be identified as a m anifestation o f the great pan-H indu goddess D urgá. W hile the concerns o f popular religion are d if­ ferent from those o f the renouncer and brahmanical traditions. w h o is com ­ ing to have trans-regional appeal. until recently. such as M adeleine Biardeau.37 Th e god Krsna. O n the other hand popular tradition can be seen to function inde­ pendently o f the high. There is a fine balance between . M áriyam m an. O n the one hand popular tradition can be seen as a residue or consequence o f the grand narrative o f the brahmanical tradition: an im itation o f the higher culture. particularly goddesses. tend to favou r the im portance o f brahm anical culture in shaping the tradition. Such popular traditions are low -caste and need to appease ‘ h ot’ deities. The relationship between the popular and the brahm anical levels o f cu l­ ture is the focus o f much debate among scholars o f H induism . little investigated.

ph ilosoph y and even theology. w h o have w orked on the subordinated o r subaltern classes o f India. w hich cuts across traditional divisions in the humanities o f so cio l­ ogy. the relation o f religion to politics. C ultural studies. In ‘ deconstructing’ rationalist discourses. H induism has adapted and reacted to political and social upheavals throughout its history.41 This critique o f the western scholar­ ship o f India. w hich manifests in all areas o f culture. nationalism. a m ovem ent o rig­ inating in the West. the highlighting o f some themes and backgrounding o f others has dem onstrated the exercise o f p o w er and a denial o f the agency o f those w h o w ere oppressed. Hinduism and contem porary debate Issues w hich have arisen in the contem porary stu dy o f H induism relate to wider cultural problem s and general intellectual debates about agency. history. The impact o f m odernity and the developm ent o f a m iddle class in India w ill inevitably effect H induism . historiography o f India. w hich have seen H induism prim arily in 19 . yet if they do not adapt they are in danger o f dying out. and the necessity to adapt to prevalent historical conditions. can also be seen in Ronald Inden’s im portant and influential book. Som e H indu traditions have faded and others have arisen. and the Indian w om en ’s m ovem ent w ill inevitably transform it. It traditions adapt too m uch then they are no longer the traditions that they w ere. which preserves the tradition. has tended to w rite out subaltern classes (the low est castes) and to see protests b y those groups as m erely an ‘ eruption’ o f dis­ content akin to natural disasters.e. O ne o f the m ost im portant examples o f this w ith regard to India and H induism has been the w o rk o f the historian Ranajit G u ha and his colt ¿/<. O ne o f the themes o f this group is that in western. and gender issues. if 6 f w ' leagues. both in the West and the East. colonial and post-colonial.l'oints (¡1 departure such conservatism . cultural studies has highlighted traditions w hich have been occluded. i. the rights o f the scheduled castes. according to G uha. M an y o f these issues have arisen out o f what is generally termed ‘postm odernism ’ . particularly o f the discipline o f Indology. w hile maintaining m any o f its rit­ ual traditions and social structures alm ost unchanged fo r centuries.■. Im agin in g In d ia . and debates about civil rights. rationalist view s. H istorical discourse. and a discourse which questions and challenges traditional.*2 Inden critiques the epistem ological assum ptions and political biases o f oriental­ ist ‘ constructions’ o f H induism . has developed w ithin the gen­ eral postm odernist fram ew ork.

discovered b y Richard G om b rich and H einz Bechert. in contrast to em phasizing im personal struc­ tures w h ich govern peop le’s lives. or as ‘ oriental despo­ tism ’ . w hich has militated against the keep20 c e . In a tra­ dition’s self-reflection it is generally high-caste. These debates. male perceptions o f them ­ selves and o f w om en w hich have come dow n to us. H e argues that all these view s deprive H indus o f agency and sees them governed b y external forces outside o f their control. but is less useful w ith regard to H indu material. O ne o f the cliches about H induism has been that it is ahistorical and sees time as cyclic rather than linear. b ment o f the dating o f all early Indian material.43 is the debate about gender issues. have echoes in C h ristianity and other religions. Its w ritten texts and narratives have. idyllic com m unity. w hile being aware that w o m en ’s self-perceptions and experience have generally been ‘ w ritten -ou t’ o f the tradition. inscrip­ tions. are not exclu­ sive to H induism and some contem porary concerns o f the Indian w o m en ’s m ovem ent. The chronology of Hinduism B efore the first m illennium ce there is no h istoriography in the south A sian cultural region and texts are not dated. particularly. T h e dating o f early texts is v e ry problem atic. brahm anical caste. T he m ore accurate dating o f the B uddha to alm ost a century later than the traditional dating o f 566. as a rom anticized. We have to rely on archaeological evidence o f coins. o f course. w h ich helps establish the ch ro n ology o f Buddhism . to 486. Recent scholarship has begun to uncover these m arginalized traditions and I refer the reader to som e o f that w o rk w here appropriate.An introduction to Hinduism terms o f caste. po ttery and.44 Because H induism has been dom inated b y men.45 w ill h op efu lly lead to reassess­ . been com posed b y men. and on the internal evidence o f texts. about whether H induism is inherently androcentric or w hether H induism can be separated from androcentrism . though some m odern scholarship has highlighted w om en ’s voices from the past. but precise dat­ ing is im possible. C hinese translations o f Buddhist texts are dated. w ith the exception o f som e notable devotional poetry. Related to the discussion about the im portance o f understanding human agency and practice. u sually o f the highest. The h istory o f H induism is the history o f a male discourse. the form er m ust be earlier. T he ch ro n o logy o f Indian religions has therefore been n otoriously difficult to establish. this b o o k reflects this fact. T he sequence o f texts can sometimes be established in that if one text is quoted b y another.

i he record o f the past has reflected the concerns o f the present. The rise of Aryan. 500 bce to 500 c e ). part o f the v a m sa v a li genre. This period sees the composition of 21 . W hile it is true that I linduism does have a view o f time repeating itself over vast periods. in genealogies o f families (the vam sânucarita sections o f the Purânas). though there may be more continuity between the A ryan and Indus valley cultures than was previously supposed. particularly the Gupta dynasty (c. as elsewhere. medieval and m odern periods. .48 The ch ron ology o f south A sia has been divided into ancient. 1500 to 500 b c e ). is the ‘ H isto ry o f the Kings o f K ash m ir’ .the epic and purânic period (c. .the Indus valley civilization (c. There are major developments in the theistic traditions of Vaisnavism. m ore concerned w ith his­ toricity than w ith m ythology. the R ajataranginï com posed during the tw elfth century b y Kalhana. it is not the case that 11indus have not been interested in their past. and in histories o f ruling families in specific locations (the v a m sa v a ll literature).l'oints <>) depart arc in g o f accurate historical records. Saivism and Sâktism begin to develop. Within India. though any historical awareness has been em bedded in m yths. Elements of Hinduism may be traced back to this period. .46 M yth s and genealogies have heen recorded particularly in the H in du E pics and texts called Purânas. This period sees the composition of the M abâbhârata and Râm âyana. it is im portant to remem ber that there are continuities between these periods. 500 c e to 1500 c e ) sees the development of devotion (bbakti) to the major Hindu deities. biographies o f people in authority (the carita literature). as well as the bulk of the Purânas. Siva and Devi. T he earliest w ritin g o f h istory in the south A sian region occurs in the fourth cen tury ce w ith the chronicles written b y Sri Lankan Buddhist m onks. T he fo llo w in g pages assume the fo llo w in g general chronological scheme: . 2500 to 1500 b c e ). reaching their present form in the mid first m illennium c E 47 A particu­ larly striking text. During this period the Veda was formulated and texts of Dharma and ritual composed. 320 c e to 500 c e ). This records the genealogies o f the kings and brief descriptions o f their exploits.the medieval period (c. Saivism and Sâktism.the vedic period (c. culture occurs during this period. A number of important kingdoms arise. W hile this scheme does reflect genres o f texts. and the great traditions of Vaisnavism. classical. in contrast to Dravidian. particularly Visnu.

The nineteenth century sees the rise o f Renaissance Hinduism and the twentieth century the development of Hinduism as a major world religion.An introduction to Hinduism devotional and poetic literature in Sanskrit and vernacular languages. . The traditions continue. i 500 c e to the present) secs the rise and fall of two great empires. as well as the composition of tantric literature. the Mughal and the British. and the origin o f India as a nation state. . but without significant royal patronage.the modern period (c.

that there is no cultural disjunction in ancient south A sian history. have offered no obstacle to invaders o r migrants. the Indus valley civilization w hich flourished from 2500 during the second m illennium b c e bc e . absorbing and controlling other discourses. There is som e controversy regarding the relationship between these tw o cultures. looked to H in d u ism ’s A ry an past to imbue it w ith new m oral impetus . w hether the A ryan s came from ou t­ side the subcontinent or not. throughout India’s long history.i Ancient origins / - The origins o f H induism lie in tw o ancient cultural com plexes. northern plains.000 years o f A ry a n culture. such as D ayananda Sarasvati. T he view s and arguments regarding the origins o f H induism have not been free from ideological interests and the quest fo r origins itself has been a factor in the developm ent o f H induism over the last tw o centuries. H induism m ight be regarded as the devel­ opment over the next 2. an In do-E u ropean people originating in the C aucasus region w h o m igrated into south A sia and spread across the fertile. to be replaced b y the culture o f the A ryan s. interacting w ith n o n -A ryan o r D ravidian and tribal cultures. w hich. Yet. though it is A ry a n culture w hich has provided the ‘master narrative’. though its roots are much earlier. but rather a continuity from an early period.. H indu revivalists in the nineteenth century. The alternative view is that A ry a n culture is a developm ent from the Indus valley civi­ lization and was not introduced b y outside invaders or m igrants. and the A ry an culture w hich developed . still supported b y som e scholars. is that the Indus valley civilization declined.. Th e traditional view. \(/ to about 1500 b c e .

262). urban culture.000 inhabitants w h o enjoyed a high standard o f living. W ith these qualifications in mind. an ‘ origin ’ is alw ays the consequence o f som ething w hich has gone before. M o h en jo -D aro and H arappa.1 That is. excavating at M oh en jo-D aro in Sind. w ere tw o o f this civilization ’s m ost im portant cities and housed som e 40. lived b y people w h o experienced the fullness and con ­ tradictions o f hum an life. In searching fo r an origin w e find o n ly ‘traces’ o r signs w hich constantly point beyond themselves. Indeed. Banerjee. as pointing tow ards that w hich follo w s. directed D . the v e ry quest fo r an ‘ origin’ m ay suggest an ‘ essence’ w hich is highly problem atic. w e should rem em ber that such a culture was com plete in itself rather than in some sense prelim inary. and the ‘origin ’ cannot be regarded in a teleological w ay. H indu.6000 b c e ) . The Indus valley civilization In 19 2 1 Sir Jo h n M arshall. The cities had sophisticated w ater technologies. w hich traces continu­ ity between an ancient past and the present. and rubbish chutes em ptying into w asteb c e and had faded aw ay b y 24 . A s w ith the great civilizations o f Sum er and pharaoic E g y p t. sep­ arated b y some 40 miles.2 This w as a developed. D irecto r G eneral o f the A rchaeological Survey o f India. T he quest for origins is also relevant in the contem porary politics o f H induism . In exam ining the ‘ traces’ which constitute a past culture. R . w as in decline b y 1800 150 0. as it m ight be called. In exam ining the roots o f H induism w e m ust be aware o f the rhetoric o f origins. m ost o f the houses having drainage system s. greatness (see p. and discuss the vedic religion o f early Indian society. bearing witness to India’s past.An introduction to Hinduism and the search fo r origins has been im portant for In dology as a scholarly articulation and justification for colonialism . discovered the Indus valley civilization. Sahni to begin excavations at H arappa. D . though its origins reach back to the N eolithic Period (7000 . w ells. and that any sketch m ust necessarily be selective and restrictive. are constantly deferred. H e and R . this urban civilization w as centred on a river and located in the basin o f the Indus w hich flow s through presen t-day Pakistan. w ith hindsight. This Indus valley o r H arappan civilization developed from about 2500 b c e . this chapter w ill examine the roots o f H induism in the Indus valley and A ry an cultures. reached its peak around 2300-2000 b c e (trade links w ith M esopotam ia have been dated to this period).

Evidence fo r this civilization has com e m ainly through the excavations o f these tw o cities and from other. Lurew ala Th er and G anaw eriw ala Th er on the course o f the H akra. and in H arappa on the east bank o f the Ravi. to Sutkagen D o r in the w est near the Iranian border.000 sites co ver­ ing an area o f 750. 25 . grain was the basis o f the econom y and the large store-houses in the Indus towns m ay have been fo r grain collected as tax. Indeed. architecture and w riting. There remain other cities o f the Indus val­ ley civilization yet to be excavated.5 Ju d g in g b y the archaeological record. from R u par in the east in the foothills o f the H im alayas near Simla. smaller. sites. at Kalibangan in the Punjab. grow ing out o f earlier. and at Lothal near A hm adabad in Rajasthan. in the Indus valley b y as early as the fourth m illennium bce. which was preceded b y a period o f continuous developm ent at different sites from the early N eolithic Period. 100 miles south o f M ohen jo-D aro. there w as a un ity o f material culture. the town o f Lothal in G u jarat being one o f the m ost im portant centres fo r i mporting and exporting goods. T he antecedents o f this culture can be traced to the site o f M ergarh. This culture was v e ry extensive and archaeological evidence fo r the mature Indus valley civilization has been found at over 1. local cultures. 15 0 miles north o f M oh en jo-D aro in Baluchistan.000 square miles. There were trade contacts with the M iddle East and w ith the hunter-gatherer tribes o f G u ju rat. at Ju d e iro -D aro . itself due to the developm ent o f farm ing and the availability o f food supplies grow n on the rich alluvial deposits o f the Indus valley. but was an indigenous developm ent in the Baluchistan and Indus regions. notably pottery.Ancient origins pots which w ere emptied m unicipally. are notable. to Lothal on the G u jarat coast. A p art from M ergarh. the im portance o f arable farm ing is dem onstrated b y the large granaries in M o h en jo -D aro on the w est bank o f the Indus. where the French archaeologist Jean-Fran§oise Jarrige has dated the agri­ cultural com m unity to before 6000 civilzation.4 THE D EV ELO PM EN T AND CO N T IN U ITY OF THE INDUS VALLEY b c e and has established an unbroken cultural continuity from that early date to the period o f the Indus valley The developm ent and expansion o f the Indus valley culture was p ro b ab ly the consequence o f a grow th in population.' As in ancient M esopotam ia. the sites at A m ri. T h e Indus valley culture did not develop due to the direct influence o f external cultural forces fro m Sum er or E gyp t. an ancient dried-up river in present day H aryana.

Deciphering the Indus Script.An introduction to Hinduism Map 2 Major sites of the Indus valley civilization (adapted from Parpola. 7) 26 . p.

T he In do-E u ropean languages include G reek. U rdu . before the predom inance o f the Indo-Iranian language group. Latin. w hich has been found inscribed on steatite seals and copper plates. In both H arappa and M oh en jo -D aro there was a fortified low er city separated from a fortified citadel or ‘ acropolis’ sit­ 27 . Perhaps the m ost striking thing about the Indus civilization is the high degree o f u n iform ity o f urban planning and even a conform ity in size o f building bricks. There is a system o f w riting. the language o f a hill people in Pakistan. but this has not yet been suc­ cessfully deciphered and. and the IndoIranian languages w hich com prise Avestan (the sacred language o f the Zoroastrians). Telegu and M alayalam . but there are no bilingual inscriptions. H in di. O riy a and Bengali. one that it represents a language belong­ ing to the D ravidian linguistic family.Ancivnt origins T H E R E L I G I O N OF T H E INDUS V A L L E Y Needless to say. Th is suggests a sophisticated adm inistration and a hierar­ chical structure o f authority. itself a part o f the In do-E u ropean fam ­ ily. Kannada. though A sk o Parpola claims to have made significant advances in understanding the Indus script and its relation to D ravidian languages and D ravidian form s o f H induism . and m any houses had a w ater su pply and drainage system . so decipherers assume a solution and then try to dem onstrate its plausibility. The presence o f these languages is strong evidence for there being a pan-Indian D ravidian presence. and the north Indian vernaculars o f G ujarati. the other that it is an early fo rm o f In do-E uropean .7 The successful decipherm ent o f the script w ou ld tell us som ething about the daily transactions o f these people and m ight tell us som ething o f their religion o r religions. the Indus valley script. Sanskrit. T he biggest issue w hich has bearing on the developm ent o f H indu traditions from the Indus valley. K ashm iri.6 The D ravidian languages include the south Indian languages o f Tamil. A s it stands w e have to infer social and religious con ­ tents from the material culture. lies in the answ er to the questions: w hat is the language o f the steatite seals? A nd to w hat group o f languages is it related? T h ere have been tw o p re­ dom inant view s among scholars. as w ell as Brahui. until m ore sam ples o r a bilingual inscription are found. w ill prob ab ly remain largely obscure. C o lin R en frew makes the point that in deciphering the script w e need to begin w ith som ething know n. M an y o f the houses w ere built on a similar ground plan around a central courtyard. w e know little o f the p olity o r religion o f this civilization.

An introduction to Hinduism uated on a raised m ound. and the fact that the goddesses are the focus o f w orsh ip in the Indus culture does not necessarily mean that these are the forerunners o f the H indu goddesses. Indeed. the yo gin and L o rd o f the animals {pasu­ p a ti). stone statues. G oddess w orsh ip and the central concerns o f fertility seem to have been com m on in the ancient w orld and the H arappan goddess o r goddesses m ay have m ore in com m on w ith Sum erian than w ith later H indu deities. which contained halls and temples. as is claimed. it is not clear from the seals that the ‘p ro to -Siva’ figure has three faces. nor is it clear that he is 28 . The state religion seems to have involved tem ple rituals. m ay have been goddess images and the presence o f the go d ­ dess in later H induism m ay be traced back to this early period. how ever. This bath is rem inis­ cent o f tanks found in later H indu temples and reflects a concern w ith rit­ ual purification through water. particularly the ‘Pasupati’ seal. sometimes represented w ith three faces. o f course. T h e religion o f the mature Indus valley culture has to be inferred from the buildings w hich w ere m ost p rob ab ly tem ples. either horned o r w earing a headdress. this w ou ld be the earliest im perial form ation in South A sia. I f so. perhaps centred on the cult o f the king. It is. Such unifor­ m ity m ay suggest m ore than wide diffusion o f a culture. Perhaps suggestive o f the later religions are the images on the rem ark­ able steatite seals. even a p olity im posed on a large area through conquest. A t Kalibangan a ritual area has been found in w hich animal sacrifice seems to have been practised and seven ‘fire altars’ have been located. the brick platform s b y the great bath at M o h en jo -D aro m ay have served a sim ilar purpose. o f a seated. with the centre o f this empire and its adm inistration at M ohenjo-D aro. figure surrounded b y animals. im possible to say w hether there is a continuity in the cult o f the goddess from this early age. an im portant idea in H induism . and the posture w ith the knees out and feet joined has been interpreted as evidence o f yoga in preA ry a n culture (see fig. There is. and ritual bathing in the ‘ great bath’ found in the citadel at M ohen jo-D aro.9 H ow ever. no conclusive evidence w ithout the decipherm ent o f the Indus valley script and ideas about the nature o f the state m ust remain speculative. w hich m ay also have involved the im po­ sition o f an official religion. i) . perhaps animal sacrifice.8 T he large num ber o f female terracotta figurines unearthed during the excavations. Sir Jo h n M arshall and others have claimed that this figure is a prototype o f the H indu god Siva. perhaps ithyphallic. terracotta figurines and particu larly the steatite seals.

it is nevertheless possible that iconographie features are echoed in the icon o ­ graphy o f Siva. alm ost identical to figures o f seated bulls found on early Elam ite seals (c. is represented in the Indus val­ ley script. D ravidian form s o f H induism . the yo u n g man identified w ith the god o f war. the linga. The South Indian god M urugan. and a seal depicting a person b ow in g to a figure standing in the m iddle o f a fig tree echoes in later Indian icon ograp hy o f fig trees (such as the Buddhist banyan tree w hich 29 . Parpola has tried to dem onstrate that there are a num ber o f linguistic and iconographie continuities between the Indus valley civilization and south Indian. argues Parpola. A sk o Parpola has convincingly suggested that the proto-Siva is in fact a ‘seated’ bull. the half-m oon in Siva’s hair resem bling the horns o f the bull-god. ‘ Phallic’ -shaped stones have also been found. suggestive o f the later aniconic representation o f Siva. b y tw o intersecting circles (the w o rd m uruku in D ravidian languages. w hile these connections m ay be speculative. suggestively denotes ‘ bangle’ ). Skanda. H ow ever.Ancient origins Figure i Indus valley ‘proto-Siva’ seal seated in a yo gic posture. 300 0-2750 b c e ).10 W hile the claim that in the seals w e have representations o f a proto -Siva is speculative.

the fire altars. T h e self-designation o f these people was the Sanskrit dry a. ritual purity. the sacred language o f H induism . T h eir language was an In do-E u ropean tongue w hich developed into vedic Sanskrit and fin ally into classical Sanskrit. The ritual bath. and a w arrio r god. A squatter’s period continued fo r som e time after this and smaller Indus valley tow ns and villages survived the abandonm ent o f the large cities. w hich w ou ld make the roots o f the reli­ gion go back a v e ry long w ay. and they w orshipped prim ar­ ily a fire god. a red dot w o rn on the forehead. w hich referred to the three highest social classes o f their society. which is in turn later associated w ith the goddess D urga. via the m ountain passes o f A fghanistan. the horned deities and the ‘lirigas’ are certainly suggestive o f later H indu traditions. an em phasis on fertility. though again Parpola has argued continuities w ith the G odd ess D urga battling w ith the buffalo dem on. prim arily due to environm ental causes such as flooding o r a decrease in rainfall.An introduction to Hinduism indicates the Buddha in early representations). around 1500 b c e . A t M o h en jo -D aro a num ber o f skele­ tons w ere found w here they had fallen. the steatite image o f a figure battling w ith lions is m ore rem iniscent o f the M esopotam ian G ilgam esh m yth than anything found in later H induism .13 The Aryans Th e m ost com m on ly accepted theory to date has been that H induism is the consequence o f incursions o f groups kn o w n as A ryan s into the north ­ ern plains o f India from central A sia. the fem ale figurines. meaning ‘noble’ o r ‘ honourable’ . It has been claimed that these deaths w ere caused b y early A ry an invaders. the victim s o f a violent death. a hallucinogenic plant.12 T h e Indus valley civilization seems to have declined rather suddenly betw een 1800 and 1700 b c e . A gn i. Som a. This nar­ rative has maintained that the A ryan s w ere o f the same stock as groups w hich w ent w est into E urope. H ow ever. and w ith the tilak. and goddess w orsh ip are com m on to other religions o f the ancient w orld as w ell. sacrifice.1 1 It is tem pting to speculate that there are continuities o f religion from the Indus valley into H induism . as distinct from the indigenous people o f south A sia w h om they encountered and subjugated b y means o f a superior w ar tech­ 30 . T he fig is furtherm ore associated w ith the planet Venus. but w e m ust exercise caution. Indeed. Som e o f these groups w ent into Iran and there are close affinities between the Iranian religion o f the Avesta (the sacred scripture o f Zoroastrianism ) and the religion o f the Veda. Indra.

A ccordin g to Poliakov. the h istory w hich has been portrayed o f the A ryan s in India m ay reflect to a large extent the European social w orld in w hich the th eory developed. reached the G anges region which became know n as the ‘ A ryan c e hom eland’ (arydvarta). A ryan culture is a development of the Indus valley culture whose language belongs to the IndoEuropean family. The Indus valley civilization.Ancient origins nology. Tw o theories concerning the origin o f the A ryan s have emerged: what m ight be called the A ry an m igration thesis and the cultural transform ation thesis. These positions are stated rather b aldly here fo r the sake o f clarity and there m ay be variations o f these. The predom inance o f A ry a n culture o ver D ravidian culture is not dis­ puted. possibly spoken in the region as far back as the Neolithic Period. THE M IG R A T IO N THESIS AND THE ARYAN MYTH A lth o u gh there is an undisputed connection betw een Sanskrit and other In do-E u ropean languages. . declines between 2000 and 1800 b c e . A ry an culture slow ly spread to the D eccan and was established in south India b y around the sixth century . which speaks a Dravidian language.14 The idea o f an A ry a n invasion developed 3i . but Indus valley culture is an early A ryan or vedic culture. This has been the traditional. T h ey spread over the northern plains and. The A ryan migrations.The cultural transformation thesis. in interaction with Dravidian culture. the picture m ay be m uch m ore com plex than the A ry a n m igration thesis allow s. but the origin o f the A ryan s as com ing from outside the subconti­ nent has recently been questioned. K now led ge o f the A ry an s com es m ostly fro m their sacred text the R g Veda Sam hita. scholarly picture and is the one roughly sketched above. Thus the Indo-European-speaking A ryan s are contrasted w ith the indigenous. D ravidian-speaking descendants o f the Indus valley civilization w hom they conquered. the earliest literature o f H induism . occur from about 1500 b c e and the Aryans become the dominant cultural force.The A ryan migration thesis. On this view there were no A ryan incursions into India. . or even invasions. Indeed. the idea o f invading In d o -A ryan s developed in the eighteenth century w hen w estern scholars w ere w ishing to be free from the confines o f Ju d eo C hristian thought w hile at the same time becom ing aware o f Indian culture through colonization . som e time after iooo b c e .

the D ravidian cul­ ture increasingly m akes incursions into ‘ H in du ism ’ after the vedic period. Inden has show n h ow the h istory o f H induism has been seen b y ‘the founders o f Indological discourse’ as an initial phase o f pure. intellectual vedic religion. painted grey w are. Som e o f the sites w here this p ottery has been found. found in the G anges-Y am u na region. particularly the early period o f its form ation. the intellectual. fo llow ed b y the classical phase w hich reacted w ith devotionalism against the ‘higher’ religion o f the earlier period. are contrasted w ith the irrationality o f the D ravidians. a ‘higher’ religion.16 Essentially. has constructed H induism in a certain way. Th is picture has recently been questioned. fo r the moment. representing a w orld -orderin g rationality. nature-religion o f the A ry an s . have been governed b y deeper cultural interests. C arb on 14 dating places this painted g rey w are betw een 110 0 and 300 b c e . this history. thereby further establishing the connection between the In d o -A ryan s and the painted grey w a re . supposedly occupied b y the A ryan s.became corrupted b y the em otional devotionalism o f the D ravidians. continuities have been found betw een the painted grey ware and indigenous protohistoric cultures o f the region. such as H astinapur. thereby suggesting a continuity o f culture rather than a disjunction as w o u ld be im plied by 32 .15 L a y in g aside. In other w ord s. w hich P oliakov has called the ‘A ry a n M y th ’. let alone an invasion. ‘ the religion o f the D ravidian or p re -A rya n race’ . the argum ent goes. western reconstructions of Indian history. have been associated w ith the later Sanskrit epic poem the M ahdbhdrata.a religion w ith G reek and Scandinavian equivalents . Th e m ost convincing evidence to date fo r the A ry a n incursions has been a kind o f pottery.An introduction to Hinduism w ith interest in Sanskrit. was perpetuated by Indian historians after independence in order to dem onstrate the equality o f ancient India with E u ro p e. T H E CU LT U RA L T RAN SFO RM ATION THESIS I f there w ere A ry a n m igrations. follow ed b y a third religion o f an animistic folk level. according to Shaffer. the question concerning the truth or fal­ sity o f A ry an m igrations into north India. into India after the decline o f the Indus valley culture. then this w ou ld h op efu lly be co rro b o ­ rated b y archaeological evidence. A ccord in g to this line o f thinking.17 H ow ever. precisely the dates o f the postulated A ry a n m igrations. The A ryan s. the p re-A ryan original inhabitants o f India. linguistics and vedic studies and.

Ancient origins
A ryan incursions. Furtherm ore, Shaffer lias argued that iron technology developed within the Indian subcontinent itself,1 rather than being intro­ duced b y an external source such as the A ryan invaders. A ccordin g to Shaffer, m odern archaeological evidence does not support the idea o f A ry an m igrations into India. Rather, in Shaffer’s w ord s, ‘ it is possible to docum ent archaeologically a series o f cultural changes reflecting indige­ nous cultural developm ent from prehistoric to historic p eriods’.19 The idea o f A ry an incursions based on the linguistic evidence o f the connec­ tions between Sanskrit and European languages has been read back into the archaeological record which, upon re-evaluation, is not supportive o f that theory. It should be noted here, how ever, that Parpola thinks that the pattern o f distribution o f painted grey w are corresponds to the distribu­ tion o f vedic, A ry an culture.20 Even if the Shaffer line o f argument is correct - that the painted grey ware is incom patible w ith A ry an incursions - there is still the linguistic evidence to be considered. O n the one hand archaeological evidence sup­ ports the idea o f a continuity o f culture from the earliest times in north India, and, according to some, does not support the A ry a n m igration the­ sis. Yet, on the other, the strong links established between Sanskrit and In do-E u ropean languages and between vedic religion and the religions o f other In do-E u ropean groups is undeniable. O ne argum ent w h ich brings these ideas together is that the language o f the Indus valley does not belong to the D ravidian language family, but, as C o lin R en frew and others suggest, to the Indo-E uropean . T h is h yp oth e­ sis ‘w ou ld carry the history o f the In do-E u ropean languages in north India and Iran back to the early N eolithic Period in those areas’ .21 There w ou ld then be continuity at all levels from the Indus valley through to the A ry an culture o f the first m illennium

. A ccord in g to this view, Indus

valley religion develops into the religion o f the H indus. Indus valley lan­ guage develops into vedic Sanskrit and Indus valley agriculture develops into the vedic agrarian lifestyle.

B oth the A ry a n m igration thesis and the cultural transform ation thesis have bodies o f supporting evidence. A rgu ably, however, the m eticulous, thorough w o rk o f A sk o Parpola establishes strong evidence fo r the Indus valley script belonging to the D ravidian language group. H is evidence is based on an analysis o f language from a w ide-ranging cultural sphere,


An introduction to Hinduism
from A natolia to the D eccan; on iconographic continuities between Indus valley and D ravidian form s o f H induism , and on discontinuities between vedic o r A ry a n form s and thosp o f the Indus valley. T h e A ryan sacred text, the R g Veda speaks o f the A ryan s subduing cities o f the Dasas, w hich it describes as com prising circular, multiple concentric walls. W hile this seems not to refer to the cities o f the Indus valley, w hich are square, it does, Parpola argues, correspond to the hundreds o f fortified B ron ze A ge v il­ lages in Bactria. T h e D asas, the enemies o f the A ryan s, are not the inhabi­ tants o f the Indus valley, but other groups w h o spoke an A ry a n language, and w hose m igration preceded those o f the A ryan s. O ne piece o f evidence that the Indus valley people could not have been In do-E u ropean speakers, suggests Parpola, is the absence o f the horse and the chariot. W herever In d o -A ryan cultures have been identified, horse remains have been found as w ell as chariots. The A ry a n tribes w h o entered the north-w est o f India, argues Parpola, drove in tw o-w heeled warchariots draw n b y horses, terms w hich have In do-E u ropean etym ology. N o w h e re in the Indus valley culture have the remains o f horses been found, and n ow here depicted on the seals.22 T he horse is an A ry an animal and the chariot an exam ple o f a superior w a r technology. A m odified A ry a n m igration theory is therefore supported b y
b c e

Parpola’s w o rk . A t the beginning o f the second m illennium


A ry an

nom ads entered the Indian subcontinent. T h ey w ere, o f course, a m inor­ ity, and, w hile the Indus valley culture continues w ithou t a break, as the archaeological record show s, the A ry an culture lived and developed alongside it and absorbed elements o f it. H ow ever, there is little doubt that there are continuities betw een the Indus valley and vedic cultures. T he new groups, w h o possessed drya, ‘n o b ility’ , form ed a dom inating elite speaking the A ry a n language, though Sanskrit has absorbed protoD ravidian features, such as the retroflex sound w hich does not exist in other Indo-E u ropean languages, as w ell as agricultural terms. D ravidian languages, as one w ou ld expect, have also absorbed elements o f Sanskrit.25 O ver a num ber o f centuries bilingualism w ou ld have developed until the m ajority o f the population adopted the A ry a n language, a form o f vedic Sanskrit, as M odern French developed from vulgar Latin .24 Th e idea o f bilingualism is perhaps problem atic - there w ou ld need to be strong social pressures to adopt a new language - but P arpola’s argu­ ments are w ell supported. The vital evidence m ust com e from the Indus valley script, and o n ly w hen that is successfully deciphered can the ques­


Ancient origins
tion o f the relation between A ryan and Indus valley culture be adequately addressed. Yet, wherever the A ryan s originated, whether their culture was a developm ent o f indigenous cultures or whether they migrated from else­ where, our know ledge o f their social structure, their m ythologies and, above all, their ritual com es from their self-representation in their Sanskrit texts, the Veda.

The Veda
T he Veda is regarded b y som e H indus as a timeless revelation w hich is not o f hum an authorship (apaurusya), is eternal, and contains all know ledge, w hile others regard it to be the revelation o f G o d . It was received o r ‘ seen’ by the ancient seers (rsi) w ho com m unicated it to other men and w as put together in its present form b y the sage V yasa. Indeed, a popular definition o f a H indu is som ebody w h o accepts the Veda as revelation. This idea is not w ithout problem s and exceptions, but indicates the undoubted im portance o f the Veda in H indu self-perception and self-representation. From the perspective o f the believer the Veda is timeless revelation, yet from the text-critical perspective o f the western-trained scholar, it was com piled o ver a long period o f time and reflects different periods o f social and religious developm ent. T he tw o perspectives are not, o f course, incom patible: revelation could be gradual and there have been, and are, m any scholars w h o have also been believers. Th e term ‘ text’ o r ‘ canon’ in the Indian context implies an oral tradition passed dow n w ith m eticulous care and accuracy through the generations from , according to tradition, the vedic A ry a n seers o f rsis. The priestly class o f the vedic A ry an s, the Brahm ans, w ere - and continue to be - the preservers o f this tradition, w h o preserve the oral recitation o f the texts. Indeed the Veda w as not written dow n until som e thousand years after its com position and the ve ry act o f w riting w as itself regarded as a polluting activity.25 A lth ou gh the main b o d y o f the Veda is clearly delineated, the category o f ‘revelation’ sometimes incorporates m ore recent material. F o r exam ple, texts calling themselves ‘ U p an isad’ w ere com posed into the sev­ enteenth century

and even the w ritings o f m odern h oly men and

w om en m ight be regarded as revelation. It is this Sanskrit, vedic tradition w hich has maintained a continuity into m odern times and w hich has p ro ­ vided the most im portant resource and inspiration fo r H indu traditions and individuals. T he Veda is the foundation fo r m ost later developm ents in what is know n as H induism .


An introduction to Hinduism
T he Veda is intim ately connected with vcdic ritual and its prim ary func­ tion is a ritual one. T he categorization o f the Veda is not o n ly the w a y in w hich H induism has organized its scriptures, but is also connected with ritual. O ne o f the prim ary vedic distinctions fo r its ow n literature is betw een mantra, verses used in liturgy w hich m ake up the collection o f texts called Sam hita, and brdhmana, texts o f ritual exegesis. The Brahm anas are texts describing rules fo r ritual and explanations about it concerning its m eaning and purpose. T h ey contain aeteological m yths, posit elaborate correspondences ( bandhu ) betw een the rite and the co s­ m os, and even maintain that the sacrifice ensures the continuity o f the cos­ m os. T he A ran yakas, texts com posed in the forest, form the concluding parts o f several Brahm anas. T h ey are concerned w ith ritual and its inter­ pretation and form a transitional link between the Brahm anas and the U panisads. T he U panisads develop the concerns o f the A ranyakas, explaining the true nature and meaning o f ritual.

T h e term veda is used in tw o senses. It is a syn on ym fo r ‘revelation’ (s'ruti), w hich is ‘heard’ b y the sages, and so can denote the w hole b o d y o f revealed texts, and is also used in a restricted sense to refer to the earliest layers o f vedic literature. T he Veda in the form er, general sense com prises fo u r traditions, the R g , Yajur, Sama and A tharva, w hich are divided into three o r fo u r categories o f texts: the Samhitas, Brahm anas, A ran yakas and U panisads (these last tw o are sometimes classified together). In the latter, m ore restricted sense, the term veda refers to the Sam hita portion o f this literature; itself com prising fo u r groups o f text identified b y the four tra­ ditions, the R g Veda Samhita, Sama Veda Samhita, Yajur Veda Samhita and the A tharva Veda Samhita. E ach o f these w ou ld have its ow n Brahm ana, A ran yaka (‘ forest treatise’) and/or U panisad (‘Secret Scripture’). A further group, the sutra literature is sometimes added to this scheme, but this group is not part o f the prim ary revelation (sruti) but part o f secondary revelation (smrti), the texts com posed b y human beings. This sequence is rou gh ly in chronological order, the earliest text being the R g Veda Samhita, the latest being the U panisads. A s w e shall see, this pattern reflects an interest in ritual w hich becom es overlaid w ith an interest in the understanding and interpretation o f ritual, an im portant m ove in the developm ent o f H indu ideas. T he structure is therefore as follow s:


Ancient origins
Samhità: Brâhmana: Âranyaka: Upanisad: T he R g Veda is a collection (sam hità) in ten books (m andata) o f 1028 hym ns to various deities, com posed in vedic Sanskrit from as early as 1200





over a period o f several hundred years.26 E ach o f its ten books was

com posed b y sages o f different fam ilies, the oldest being books tw o to seven. These texts are our earliest and m ost im portant sources o f k n o w l­ edge about vedic religion and society. T he Sàm a Veda is a b o ok o f songs (sâman) based on the R g Veda w ith instructions on their recitation (gana). The Yajur Veda is a collection o f short prose form ulae used in ritual, o f w hich there are tw o recensions, the ‘ b lack’ and the ‘w h ite’ - the form er being a m ixture o f prose and verses, the latter being com posed entirely o f verses or mantras. The w hite Y aju r Veda contains one b ook, the V âjasaneyi-Sam hitâ, the black Y aju r Veda com prises three b ooks, the Taittirïya Sam hità, the M aitrâyan ï Sam hità and the K athaka-Sam hitd. L a stly the A th a rva Veda is a collection o f hym ns and magical form ulae com piled around 900 b c e , though som e o f its material m ay go back to the time o f the R g Veda. T he A th a rva Veda has less connection w ith sacrifice and has been considered som ew hat in ferior to the other three Samhitâs. M ost o f this truly vast literature has yet to be translated into any m odern E uropean language.


A lth ou gh difficult to date, the earliest text and the m ost im portant fo r our understanding o f the early In d o -A ryan s is the R g Veda Sam hità com ­ posed p ro b ab ly around 1200 b c e , though som e, such as K ak and Fraw ley, w ou ld date it very much earlier to the Indus valley culture, assum ing that the Indus valley language w as In d o-E u rop ean .27 T he m ore sober ch ron ol­ o g y proposed b y M ax M üller suggests a date o f 1500 to 1200 A ssu m ing the birth o f the Buddha to be around 500
b c e b c e


(which scholars

n o w think is later), M üller suggested that the Upanisads w ere com posed from 800 to 600 b c e . H ow ever, this dating m ay be rather early. G iven the re-dating o f the Buddha to the fourth o r fifth rather than the fifth or sixth centuries 300
b b c e


the U panisads w ere p ro b ab ly com posed between 600 and

c e , as some texts are post-Buddhist. T he earlier Brâhm ana literature


Anavnt origins
Müller dates between iooo to Noo and the Samliit.i literature around 1200 to 1000, allow ing about 200 years tor the form ulation o f each class o f texts, though even M üller admits that the R g Veda could be earlier.28 The Brähmana literature, however, m ay be later than the dates proposed b y Müller, given the probable later date o f the U panisads.

The classification scheme o f the Veda is further com plicated b y theologi­ cal schools or branches (säkhä ) w hich specialized in learning certain texts. A Veda might have a num ber o f theological schools associated w ith it. F o r example, Brahm ans o f the Taittiriya branch w ould learn the

Taittiriya Samhitä o f the black Y aju r Veda, its Brähm ana, A ran yaka,
U panisad and Srauta Sütras. The school o f the Sdma Veda w ou ld learn its Brähm ana, the Jaim iniya Brähmana, and the Lätyäyana Srauta Sütra. The Brahm ans o f the R g Veda w ou ld learn the Aitareya and Kausitaki

Brähmanas, w hich include the A ran yakas o f the same name, the Aitareya and Kausitaki Upanisads and the Äsvaläyana and Sänkhäyana Srauta Sutras, and so on (see fig. 2). These schools ensured the accurate transm is­
sion o f the Veda through the generations w ith the help o f rules fo r recita­ tion, even though the m eaning o f the early texts m ay have been lost to m ost reciters as the language m oved aw ay from its vedic origins. A n example o f this structure can be seen in fig. 2 w h ich show s the branches o f the R g and Y aju r Vedas. Perhaps the m ost rem arkable thing about vedic literature is that it has been orally transmitted w ith little change to its contents fo r up to 3,000 years. This accuracy has been enabled b y a system o f double checking. The texts w ere learned at least twice: as a continuous recitation, called the

samhitäpätha, in w hich the Sanskrit rules fo r com bining w ords (sandhi )
operated, and as the recitation o f w ord s w ithout the rules o f euphonic com bination, called th epadapdtha. Frits Staal gives an illustrative example from the vedic Samhitäs, the verse ‘ the im m ortal goddess has pervaded the w ide space, the depths and the heights’ is rem em bered in tw o versions, as the continuous flo w o f the samhitäpätha (‘ orv apra am artya nivato devy udvatah’ ) and w ord fo r w ord in the padapätha (‘ a/ uru/ aprah/ am artya/ nivatah/ devi/ udvatah//’).29 H ow ever, not o n ly has the Veda been preserved through oral traditions o f recitation, but also through the transm ission o f ritual. The Veda is prim arily a liturgical text and its use in ritual has been its prim ary and


rather than later ones. as w ell as dom es­ 40 . given that som e early texts are post-Buddhist. Interpretations of the ritual entei I linduism at a later date with the Upanisads. Thom as C o b u rn argues. attached to the Rg Veda. o f the U panisads. Because o f this some scholars have begun to re-evaluate the category o f ‘revelation’ (sruti). the Brhadaranyaka (‘ G reat F o rest’) o f the white Yajur Veda. Such religious practice w ou ld not require elaborate buildings o r icons. if not the earliest. clarified butter o r ghee. T h e U panisads are not a hom ogeneous group o f texts. calls itself an aranyaka (as does the last bo ok o f the Satapatha Brahmana belonging to the same s'dkha). and texts w ith the title upanisad continue to be com posed throughout the m iddle ages into the m odern period. T he oldest U panisads (the Brhadaranyaka. pow er. w hile the later U panisads. T he term ‘sacrifice’ (homa. notably o f m ilk. the person w h o had instig­ ated it.An introduction to Ilinduism invariant function. In sacrifice the gods could be propitiated. have been taken to be authoritative and been com m ented upon b y H indu theologians. and the social standing. but refers m ore w id ely to any offering into the sacred fire. and the soma plant. The Upanisads T he U panisads are a developm ent o f the A ran yakas and there is no clear break betw een the tw o genres. calls itself an upanisad . enhanced. but m erely the presence o f the qualified priests w ho kn ew the necessary procedures and recitations. material bene­ fits such as sons or cattle received from them. must be seen as an ‘ ongoing and experientially based feature o f the H indu reli­ gious tradition’ . Even the older texts w ere com posed over a w ide expanse o f time from about 600 to 300 b c e .31 Y et it is nevertheless the case that the older group o f U panisads. curds. or pu rity o f the sacrificer (yajamana ). w hich.i0 and one o f the earliest. Jam iso n has observed that vedic religion is ‘the ideally portable religion’ w ith no fixed places o f w o r­ ship and no images or sacred texts to be carried around. are in verse. m oving aw ay from the A ran yakas.33 perhaps sugges­ tive o f a nom adic lifestyle. Chandogya and Taittiriya) are in prose. grains such as rice and barley. yajna) is not confined to the im m olation o f animals. The Aitareya Aranyaka.32 Vedic ritual T he central religious practice o f the vedic A ryan s w as sacrifice and sharing o f the sacrificial meal w ith each other and w ith the m any supernatural beings o r devas.

animals o r the stalks o f the soma plant itself w ou ld be offered into the fire. num erous kinds o f priests involved in the rituals. T h e srauta rites are the older and the tw o types can be form ally distinguished from each other b y the num ­ ber o f fires used. The R g Veda refers to the various.A ncicnt origins tic animals (goats. O n the w h ole they have. autumn. o f course. public rites and the grhya. cattle. Vedic religion w as closely associated w ith the rhythm s o f the day and the seasons and srauta rites w ou ld involve offerings at various junctures (par- van) betw een night and day. THE SOLEMN AND DOMESTIC RITES Tw o kinds o f ritual w ere developed. vegetable cakes. Indeed the offering o f milk into the fire was m ore com m on than animal offerings. curds. unless it lies in the fragm entary sugges­ tions o f the Indus valley. while the dom estic observances required o n ly one. This ritual continuity.36 T he pre R g-ved ic origin o f ritual is. the srauta rituals have remained intact to the present day.35 A m o n g som e Brahm ans. clarified butter. inaccessible. 4i . survived even radical political changes and a variety o f different interpretations. though the human victim s w ere set free after their consecration. w e can assume that some form o f the srauta rites was already established at that early period. These ritual su b ­ stances w ould be transported through the fire to the deva or devas which had been invoked. O u r inform ation concerning the srauta rituals com es m ainly from the Srauta Sutras associated w ith the various branches o f vedic know ledge and form ulated between the eighth and fourth centuries b c e . F ire is the central focus o f vedic ritual and is both a sub­ stance o r element and a deva: the transform ative link between the w o rld ly and divine realms.34 There was also a human sacri­ fice (purusamedha ) m odelled on the horse sacrifice. since at least the time o f the Srauta Sutras. refers extensively to soma and its preparation. This continuity o f ritual traditions in south A sia needs to be stressed. to w hom m ilk. dom estic and life-cycle rites. notably som e N am b u d ri families in Kerala studied b y F rits Staal. surprisingly. sheep and horses). and describes the horse sacrifice (asvam edha ). hot). at the new and full m oons and at the junctures o f the three seasons (rainy. the srauta or solem n. A lth ou gh this is about half a m illennium after the com position o f the R g Veda. T he srauta rites required the burning o f three sacred fires. T he principal deities w hich w ere the focus o f the srauta observances w ere the fire god A gn i and the plant god Som a.

w hich had been som ew hat distinct from the other Samhitas and identified w ith lo w er social strata. The altar or vedi.the preparatory and clo s­ ing rites can be ve ry com plex due to the em bedding o f one type o f ritual and its accom panying verses into another. and the adhvaryu priest w o u ld chant verses from the Yajur Veda and perform m any o f the necessary ritual actions. In the srauta rites. the ‘piling up o f 42 . thereby show ing the acceptance o f the Atharva Veda. and the agnicayana. narrow in the centre and strew n w ith grass. as being o f equal standing w ith the other texts. w ere required fo r specific parts o f the rituals and w ou ld k n o w the appropriate recitations from the Veda. w ou ld chant o r sing songs (stotra) com prising verses set to the m elodies o f the Sdma Veda. and their assistants.the o ffering o f substances into the fire . fo u r priests w ou ld be present. These special­ ists. a m ore elaborate b rick structure. ranging in com plexity. or. In later times all this w ou ld be overseen b y a priest associated w ith the Atharva Veda. A lth ou gh the central act o f all vedic ritual. The ritual implements needed fo r the sacri­ fice w ere placed there and the sacrificers and gods invited to sit there.An introduction to Ilinduism w hich m ay be linked to a continuity ol social relations. though adm it­ ted ly the elaborate srauta rites are on ly perform ed am ong a m inority o f Brahm ans in Kerala. to w hich the victim was tied. the fire to be offered into (ahavaniya) to the east and a third southern fire (daksinagni). A num ber o f srauta rituals. the udgatr. are recorded in vedic texts. though preceded b y various preparations. fo r specific rites. T he agnistoma was a fairly sim ple on e-d ay soma sacrifice. the com plex­ ity is com pounded b y the need fo r a num ber o f specialists. fo r the Brahm an as overseer o f the rites does not appear in the R g Veda and is o n ly incorporated later. is sim ple . In the m ost elabo­ rate rituals. w h ose function was to w atch out fo r om issions or incorrect procedures. is the most im p or­ tant factor in linking m odern form s with ancient I raditions. such as the sacrifice o f the soma plant. F o r animal sacrifice a post (yupa ) w ou ld be required. w as placed between the eastern and w estern fires. both solem n and dom estic. the brahman. There w ere origin ally o n ly three priests associated w ith the first three Sam hitas. each o f w h o m w ou ld be a specialist in one o f the fo u r Samhitas. though on ly tw o priests w ould be necessary in m ost rites. Srauta rites w ou ld m inim ally involve the establishing o f the three fires: the householder’s fire (garhapatya ) in the west. a second priest. T he chief priest o r hotr w ou ld recite verses from the R g Veda. w hich was a shallow pit.

the im portant poin t is that soma induced exalted states and p ossib ly visions in its takers. w here soma w as called haoma . It w as alm ost certainly not a ferm ented drink w hich the vedic A ry an s also possessed and called sura. We can see in the vedic material that ritual w as the p rim ary religious concern o f the In d o -A ry an s. reaps the benefits. offering soma to the deities and the drinking o f soma b y the sacrificer and some priests. These tw o concerns. w hich m ight involve some degree o f asceticism (tapas) such as fasting.39 Ephedra is a stimulant rather than a hallucinogen. Th e agnicayana rite as a living tradition am ong N am budri Brahm ans in Kerala. SOMA T he soma drink.000 bricks. W hatever its identity. are found throughout the later traditions o f India. plants w ithout intoxicating properties. in the shape o f a large bird. a jointed but leafless desert plant. at an early date in the develop­ ment o f the tradition. reciting from the R g Veda.37 T h is rite involved the building o f an altar from over 2. has been clearly documented and analyzed by Staal. a com plex proceeding lasting several days. ritual and m ysti­ cism . N ear to this altar are tw o areas fo r chanting the texts and fo r preparing soma. then this circum vents the problem o f the fly agaric m ushroom not grow in g in northern India. accom panied b y his w ife.38 A ltern atively m any scholars n ow think that it w as ephedra. undergoes an initiation (diksa ). O ver a period o f tw elve days a num ber o f ritual sequences are perform ed. but if soma w as ephedra. im portant. to the w est o f the standard ritual enclosure o f three fires. requiring an elaborate preparation during the Som a sacri­ fice. T he soma sacrifice w as em bedded w ithin other rituals as w ell.40 T he original soma was eventually lost b y the vedic A ryan s and replaced b y soma substitutes. G o rd o n W asson has argued. but also that m ystical experience induced b y the soma plant w as. though th roughout the proceedings he remains fairly passive. the ‘sea grape’. B efore the ritual the yajamana. m ay have been the fly agaric m ushroom (Amanita muscaria) w hose use in inducing m ystical states o f conscious­ ness is attested in Sham anism . Traces o f this plant have been found in jars from sites in Iran.Ancient origins A gn i’. w h ich involve singing verses (stotra) from the Sama Veda . m ost 43 . w h o has paid a fee o f cattle o r m oney fo r the rites. Th is ‘plant’. Th is altar is built in five layers w ith the appropriate recitation o f mantras. w as p ro b ab ly originally a hallucinogenic o r intoxicating substance prepared from the soma plant. The sacrificer o r patron (yajamana). to achieve purification.

then that there are 3. A gn i w ith the Sun and so on. on 3 3. expressing a society’s aggression in a controlled and socially acceptable w ay. 2 . in a D urkheim ian sense. F irstly he says there are 303. but fo r those it excluded as w ell. but also in excluding others.An introduction to / Hnduism notably w ithin animal sacrifices. In the next verse he settles i.the text is certainly echoing the early vedic identification o f the various gods w ith each other. B efore the horse w as dism em bered and the various parts o f its b o d y offered to different deities. the most im portant o f which was the horse sacrifice (as'vamedha ). and the consecration o f a king (rdjasuya). In one sense every tree and river has a divine being associated w ith it. Som a is identified w ith A gn i. A lth ou gh this m ust be seen in the light o f the later m onistic ph iloso­ p h y o f the Upanisads .44 W hether or not the sacrifice had a cathartic effect.43 The m eaning and functions o f ritual in In d o -A ry an culture cannot be reduced to any one factor.45 Vedic m ythology and theology The vedic universe is populated w ith benevolent and m alevolent super­ natural beings o f various kinds. however.entering the queen and thereby entering the king and the people. There are. In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad4 the sage (> Y ajn avalkya is asked h ow m any gods there are. not o n ly in allow ing o n ly higher classes o f society to perform the rituals. the M oon is identified w ith Som a. the k in g’s w ife w ou ld sym bolically copulate w ith the dead stallion: divine p o w er from the h o r s e -w h o is also identified w ith the deity Prajapati . T he ritual w as im portant not on ly fo r those it included. draw ing a line between higher and low er social groupings. 3 . 1 V and fin ally 1. yet undoubtedly some deities are m ore im portant than others. The horse sacrifice41 described in f. it certainly functioned to establish the patron ’s status and pow er w ithin the com m unity and may.he Rg Veda and in the Brahm anas42 could o n ly be carried out b y a king. T H E DEVAS T he R g Veda is filled w ith hym ns o f praise to the various deities (deva ) invoked in ritual. and he gives an am biguous reply. 6 . Sacrifice could have had a cathartic function. The sacrifice involved allow ing a stallion to w ander free fo r a year before it was ritually suffocated.that all deities are m anifestations o f a single p o w er . have served to reinforce social values and legitimate p o w er relations w ithin a society. as G irard has argued.003. few straight narrative accounts o f the 44 . w hen pressed further that there are 3 3 .

atmosphere (bhuvas) contains the warrior Indra. destruction. and earth (bh u r). The great nineteenth-century Sanskritist. Prajapati gave him self to the latter as their nourishm ent and so the devas accept ritual offerings. water. whereas the asuras do not. the lord of righteousness (rta) and of night. Mitra. encapsulated in the three utterances pronounced each day b y orthodox Brahm ans. T h ey can be addressed in hym ns. The m ajority o f deities are male. the companion of Varuna and god of night. the dawn. and Vac. and die texts assume a co m ­ mon know ledge o f their stories. Varuna. a deity w h o becom es the creator god. the sun and storms etc. their connection w ith the sac­ rifice is what distinguishes them from other supernatural beings such as the ‘ dem ons’ or ‘ anti-gods’ . the fire Agni. N irrti. .Ancient origins gods. they have desire. It is p o s­ sible that the devas represent the original deities o f the A ryan s and the asuras the deities o f their enemies the Dasas. they can be invited to the sacrifice and can share in the ritual meal. 45 . the storm gods. in return. indeed. the ‘ lord o f creatures’ .earth (bhur) contains the plant god Soma. Brhaspati. the sacrifice as the class o f supernatural beings w h o accept offerings and. A ccord in g to the Satapatha Brahmana 48 both the dev as and the asuras are said to have been born from Prajapati. whereas the devas made offerings to each other. The devas inhabit a hierarchical cosm os. though there are a few goddesses (devi) such as A diti. the wind Vayu. the Brahm anas.47 W hile it is certainly true that m any deities o f the Veda are related to natural phenomena. contains the sky god D yaus. . and the pervader Visnu. The devas are beings intim ately connected with. give help or. Indeed in the later texts. each realm populated b y different deities. defined by. this cosm os is divided into the three w orld s o f sk y o r heaven (sva r). and the terrible Rudra. atm os­ phere (b h u va s). and the priestly god of creative power. The asuras made sacrificial offerings to them selves. the nourisher Pusan. some gods do not fit into this m odel and vedic scholarship no longer accepts this as an explanation o f the pantheon. in the case o f m ore w rathful deities such as Rudra. rain. In one scheme. sim ply stay aw ay from the human w orld. The gods also have human qualities. and. such as fire. U sas.heaven (svar). the asuras. the Maruts. T h e three realms and the principal deities they contain are: . Because o f this. the mother o f the uni­ verse. they share in human em otions. thought that all the deities of the Veda were ‘ the agents postu­ lated behind the great phenomena o f nature’. speech. Max Muller. either in the Rg Veda or in the Brahm anas.

D aksa. the attendants o f Indra. p er­ sonifications o f natural phenom ena. are A gn i and Soma. nam ely A p a (water). The tw o m ost significant devas. hiding w ithin the waters from w here he w as origin ally born. A nala (fire). Prabhâsa (dawn). A gn i is particularly the sacrificial fire. and transports. sym bolizing cosm ic chaos. the lord of death. and the Vasus. Soma is a deity w h o intercedes betw een men and gods and is regarded as a link betw een the human and divine. Indra is the w arrior king. though som e are undoubt­ edly m ore im portant than others. D hara (the earth). w ith the sun. at the level o f the earth.50 Indeed Soma is identified w ith A gn i and w ith the m oon w hich contains the am brosia o f im m ortality (am rta) and there are parallels betw een the m yth o lo gy o f Som a and that o f A gni. w ithin the atm osphere. There is no suprem e deity in the R g Veda. Bhaga. thus freeing the w aters o f the sky.53 The storm gods. H e transports the dead to the realm o f Yam a. A ryam an . as things w hich distinguish the hum an w o rld from the natural w orld. all offerings to the realm o f the gods. accom pany Indra on his adventures w hich seem to reflect the w arrio r ethos o f vedic society: Indra captures the cow s as the A ry an w arriors w ou ld have gone on cattle raids to neighbouring groups. O ther deities in the R g Veda are im portant. D hruva (the pole star). w h o destroys obstacles w ith his thunderbolt club. the sons o f R u d ra. Varuna. w as hidden from the gods upon a m ountain and captured b y Indra riding an eagle. L ik e A gn i.49 W hile being sim ply fire.An introduction to Hinduism A n oth er classification places a group oi gods called A dityas. the M aruts or Rudras.51 Sim ilarly Som a. and A m sa). 46 . is discovered b y the gods and agrees to co n vey the sacri­ fice to them. and purifies. w ithin the category o f heaven. and P ratyüsa (light). the M aruts. the pillar o f the sk y and bringer o f ecstasy and understanding o f the divine realm s. H is m ost fam ous m yth is the destruction o f the snake V rtra (whose name means ‘ obstacle’ ). the sons o f the G odd ess A d iti (nam ely M itra.52 T here are parallels here w ith the G reek m yth o f Prom etheus and both A gn i and Som a can be seen as bringers o f culture. A n ila (wind). placed at the level o f the earth. w ith the daw n and w ith fire hidden in its stom ach. though none have such transform ing p o w er in the w orld as A gn i and Som a. A gn i m ysteriously pervades the w o rld as heat and is identified w ith the earth as the sacred cow Prsni. A gni. Som a (the m oon). T he m y th o lo gy o f A gn i plays on the idea o f fire being hidden w ithin the w orld and aw akened b y the fuel-sticks w hich kindle him. like A gn i. em powered b y soma.

perhaps it form ed itself. include Varuna. the elements and natural phenom ena are deified. the god o f social responsibilities o r contracts. A lth ou gh their use is prim arily liturgical. Siva) w h o becom e the central focuses o f later traditions. EARLY THEOLOGY In the vedic w o rld view ritual has suprem e im portance and the vedic Samhitas prim arily serve as liturgical texts. the contents o f the vedic songs or hym ns reflect and presuppose narrative traditions about the gods. that m ore system atic speculation begins. A ryam an .’57 H ow ever. the sons o f the goddess A diti. though very inferior to these other three. It reads: ‘W hence this creation has arisen . the waters (Apas).or p er­ haps he does not k now . Th e A dityas. M itra. The Brahm anas are a discourse b y the Brahm ans on the srauta ritu ­ als.55 The you n g A svin twins are deities o f good fortune and health. Varuna. particularly on the nature o f sac­ rifice.54 O f these. presider over jo u rn eys. neither death nor im m ortal­ ity. the lord o f the ethical order. There are other deities in the pantheon such as V isnu and R udra (i. neither light nor dark. on ly he know s . such as the sun (Surya).e. T he m ost fam ous o f these hym n s56 asks unansw erable questions about w hat existed at the beginning o f time w hen there w as nei­ ther existence (sat) nor non-existence (asat).58 The sociologist Em ile 47 . majestic sk y god w ho protects the cosm ic and social order (rta). o r perhaps it did not . many of the gods in the Veda are opaque.the one w h o looks dow n on it. it is w ith the Brahm anas. the god o f custom such as marriage. the w ind (V ayu). one Indian com m entator on the Taittiriya Sam hitd clearly and succinctly defined a Brahm ana as ‘ an explanation o f a ritual act and o f the m antras belonging to it’ .Ancient origins A lthough Indra stands out in clear profile. in the highest heaven. T he final verse conveys the hym n ’s sense o f cosm ic m ystery and w e can read into it both the beginnings o f a theistic tradition and also the beginnings o f Indian scepticism . is the m ost im portant. There are also philosophical speculations concerning the origins o f life. and is asked fo r forgiveness and m ercy fo r any m oral transgression or fo r ‘going against the current’ . father sk y (D yaus Pitar). Pusan. w h o accom pa­ nies Varuna. and the origins o f the w o rld and o f human society. w hich attempt to explain ritual action and relate it to w ider cosm ic and m ythological phenom ena. the distant. the sun at dawn and sunset (Savitr). the goddess earth (PrthivI) and her consort. and. later developed in the U panisads. A part from these.

59 O ne o f the Brahm anas’ central concerns was the establishing o f such hidden o r inner connections (bandhu. w h ose names are invoked du r­ ing the fire-kindling cerem ony. It is present in the vedic tradition from the Rg Veda and is found in all later Indian traditions. w hich is placed on the lo w er (female) fire stick. from the different parts o f w hose b o d y the cosm os and society are form ed and even the verses. songs and form ulae o f the Veda itself. the ‘ male person ’ {purusa). came from his arms. F o r exam ple. and retas in turn is identified w ith an em bryo and also w ith rain. the Brahm ans. is between the body. science and philosophy become possib le’ . The ritual is a m icrocosm reflecting the w ider m acrocosm o f the cosm os and the m esocosm o f society. nidana) between the srauta rituals and their purposes. m ight be said to be a principle o f Indian religion.62 This hym n occurs in a late b ook o f the R g Veda and p rob ab ly does not accurately reflect vedic society in the earlier period w hich m ay have had less clearly delineated boundaries between social groups. in the individ­ ual’s b od y and in the ritual. occurring late in the Rg Veda. w hich becomes central in later esoteric traditions. and between ritual and m ythology. the Purusa Sukta . o r later ksatriya ). is the fam ous hym n o f the cosm ic man. the w arrio r class {rajany a. the child o f the divine couple. This hym n describes the creation o f the w orld b y the gods. touched b y the adjvaryu priest.61 along w ith hierarchy. 48 . A k ey text here. The highest sacerdotal class. G hee is also identified w ith semen (retas). COSMICAL H OMOLOGY Identification. The redactor o f the text is aware o f the sex­ ual sym bolism o f the fire sticks and identifies the ghee in the ghee pan.60 These kinds o f identifications and analogies are foun d throughout the texts and express a cosm ology in w hich the hierarchical structure o f the w ider cosm os is recapitulated in the structure o f society. including Buddhism and Jainism . w ith A y u . as society’s strength. came from his m outh as so ciety’s voice. w hich is quoted and reiterated throughout the H indu tradition.An introduction to Hinduism D urkheim once w rote that ‘ the moment when men have an idea that there are internal connections between things. or ‘ cosm ical h om olo gy’ . the Satapatha Brahmana clarifies the connection between the upper and lo w er fire-sticks used to kindle the sacred fires and the divine beings UrvasT and her husband Pururavas. the universe and the sacrifice. as the historian o f religions M ircea Eliade has called it. O ne o f the fundam ental vedic identifications o r hom ologies. w h o sacri­ fice and dism em ber a cosm ic giant.

the rulers o r w arriors protecting and ruling the com m unity. this order is reflected in sacri­ fice and in the hierarchical structure o f the body. Vedic society O f the fo u r classes (varna) o f A ry an society.64 T he sacerdotal class w o u ld serve the ruling. the m ost polluted. the Brahm ans as the priests sustain­ ing the com m unity w ith spiritual sustenance. D u m ézil’s three functions correspond to the tw ice-born classes o f priests (brâhmana).Ancient origina the com m on people (vais'ya) came from his (highs as society’s support. the w arrio r or ruler and the farm er.63 In many w ays this is an idealized picture. w h ich gives them access to being full members o f society. the com m on fo lk practising. If the cosm os w as in some sense sacred. the low est part. and clearly m arks the boundary betw een those w h o have access to the vedic tradition and those w h o do not. perform ing vedic rit­ ual. w as the purest and the feet. T h is rite separates the tw ice-born from the fourth estate. animal husbandry and agriculture. w arriors or rulers (ksatriya. and the serfs serving the other classes. a scholar o f In do-E u ropean studies. T he social and individual bodies w ere reflections o f each other. and elucidated in the Bràhm anas. then so w as society w hich manifested its hierarchical order. T he argument has been that upon entering the su b ­ continent the A ryan s w ith their tripartite social structure placed the local population on the bottom . hereditary social groups w ere part o f the structure o f the cosm os. w h o can m arry and perpetuate the ritual tradi­ tions. w h ich is eternal and unchanging. and the serfs (südra). has argued that In do-E u ropean ideology is char­ acterized b y a social structure o f three classes o r functions: the function o f the priest. m ilitary aristocracy. In vedic India. expressed in the songs o f the vedic seers. prim arily. râjanya) and com m oners (vais'ya). the ‘ serfs’ (südra). that is. w hich is the serf class (südra) com posed o f 49 . brought to life in vedic ritual. is the sacred order or law (rta) o f the universe. The scale o f this order was the degree o f pu rity o r pollution associated w ith the b ody: the head. came from his feet. those on w hom society stands. o f b o d y and society. a rite o f passage. and both w ere part o f the larger structure o r b o d y o f the cos­ m os. the highest three are kn ow n as the ‘ tw ice-born ’ (dvija) because their male mem bers have undergone an initiation (upanayana ). This structure has been pre­ sent throughout Indo-E u ropean com m unities. G eorges D um ézil. This integration o f society and cosm os. Y et this im portant hym n show s that the hierarchical. M oreover. as the highest part o f the body.

there is strong supporting evidence to show that the language o f the Indus valley civilization was D ravidian. the suprem e god o f the A ris. thereby ensuring the Süris’ ritual pow er. The reality o f social classes in vedic society seems to have been m ore com plex. These tw o cultures. the D ravidian Indus valley culture and the A ry a n vedic. W hatever the origins o f the system . the Süris and the A ris. the priestly and ruling classes o f the Indus valley cities probably lived separately in or near the citadels o f their towns. Rather than a priestly class serving a ruling aristocracy. H ow ever. Th is is reflected at cultic and theological levels w hen Indra. W hile the A ry a n culture o f the Brahm ans provides the ‘ master narrative’ fo r later traditions. 5° . the im portance o f the D ravidian cultural sphere should not be underestimated and A ry a n culture itself. including the Sanskrit language. trium phs over and becomes m ore im portant than Varuna. the process of class form ation in early Indian society is m ore com plex and may go back to an indigenous struc­ ture in the ancient past. there seems to have been tw o ruling elites. w h ich contrasts w ith the Indo-E u ropean language o f the vedic A ryan s. perhaps present in the Indus valley civilization. at least at the time o f the R g Veda. A gu ilar i Matas has argued that R g-ved ic religion w as patronized b y the Süris and so the R g Veda favours them at the expense o f the A ris w h o have a negative reputation in the text. the favourite god o f the Süris. has absorbed D ravidian elements. Furtherm ore the tw o liturgical deities A gn i and Som a.65 Sum m ary We have seen h ow the origins o f H induism lay in the ancient cultures o f the Indus valley civilization and A ry an culture. pass from the side o f Varuna to Indra. and H indu civilization can be seen as a p ro d ­ uct o f the com plex interaction between the D ravidian and A ry an cultural spheres. Indeed. it m ust be remem bered that the fou rfold class structure is a theoretical model and ideological justification based on sacred revelation. each o f w hich w ere served by their ow n priesthoods. A lth o u gh the issue is con­ tentious. contribute to the fo r­ mation o f H indu traditions.An introduction to Hinduism n o n -A ryan D ravidians.

w hich saw the rise o f the renouncer traditions. India. 140 - 78 c e ). The Sünga d yn asty (c. culm inating in the rule o f K aniska (between 78 and 144 w as founded b y C andragupta I (c.3 Dharma D urin g the late vedic period b y the time o f the com position o f the Satapatha B râhm ana and the early U panisads. there w as a p olitic­ ally unsettled period prom pted b y incursions from the north-w est.15 0 b c e ). A fter M enander’s death the kingdom broke b c e up to be eventually replaced b y the Sâka em pire. 320 ern. established b y Sai-W ang tribes from central A sia (c. Betw een the M auryan dyn asty (c. A ry a n culture had becom e established in the G anges plain. and the establishing o f brahmanical ideology. 18 5 -7 3 b c e ) lost m uch o f its em pire to G reek invaders from Bactria under K in g D em etrios w h o founded an extensive empire. A so k a (268-233 b c e ) was c e c e ). particularly Buddhism . The last M au ryan king. as was 51 . 16 6 . the Kusânas (Kuei-shang) invaded. and established an em pire w hich extended along the Ganges plain to beyond Varanasi. Political support fo r religions varied w ith different dynasties and w ith different kings. was assassinated b y his Brahm an general Pusyam itra Süñga in 185 b c e . the m ost im portant king o f w hich was M enander (c. Brhadratha. w e kn o w that the Satapatha Brâhm ana and B rhad àran ya ka U panisad w ere com posed in the Videha regio n . F in ally the G u p ta em pire ) and spread across all o f n orth­ favourable to Buddhism . W ith a slight decline in Sâka pow er. and much o f central. 3 2 0 -18 5 b c e ) and the G u pta em pire (320-500 c e ). This was a form ative period in the h istory o f Indian religions.1 Larger kingdom s replaced smaller ones and a process o f urbanization began.

the m aintaining o f boundaries betw een social groups.3 w h ich refers espe­ cially to the perform ance o f the ‘ solem n’ rites (srauta) enjoined on all Brahm ans. These tw o figures. and the regulation o f individual behaviour in accordance w ith the overarching principle o f dharm a. perhaps in celebration o f a victo ry over the G reeks.An introduction to Ilinduism K aniska (first century c e ). ‘religion’. the Brahm an and the king. With the death o f the last M auryan. dharm a becom es an ideal operat­ ing in the dom estic realm o f the high-caste householder and in the political realm o f the H indu state.2 M ore particularly dharm a is the perform ance o f vedic ritual b y the Brahm ans. W ith the rise o f the kingdom s culm inating w ith the G uptas. It is ‘ the ritualistic order o f Vedic sacrifice’ . This brahmanical religion w as con ­ cerned w ith the ritual status o f the king. ‘ ethics’ . It has been vario u sly translated as ‘d u ty ’ . w ere intim ately connected. T he id eology o f dharm a was articulated at the level o f the court. A lthough official patronage o f religions varied. an id eo lo gy central to the G uptas (320-600 c e ) and to later dynasties. his assassin Pusyam itra favoured a return to vedic sacrificial religion and perform ed the horse sac­ rifice and seems to have perform ed a human sacrifice at the city o f Kausam bi. T he brahm anical id eology o f dharm a w as articulated b y the vedic tra­ ditions or schools (sakha) in texts concerned w ith the perform ance o f vedic ritual and social ethics. intim ately allied to the status o f the king. and to obligations appropriate 52 . brahmanical ideology grew in im portance and established itself as the centre o f a sociopolitical religion. yet it was the Brahm ans w h o perform ed the ritual consecra­ tion o f the king. ‘law ’. In this chapter w e shall examine the institutions o f dharm a as they are developed in the D harm a literature and as they became expressed in H indu history. ‘ religious m erit’ . em bodied in the figure o f the king. C andragupta M aurya may have been a Jain . T h e idea o f dharm a T he term ‘dh arm a’ is untranslatable in that it has no direct semantic equiv­ alents in any western languages w hich con vey the resonance o f associa­ tions expressed b y the term. though both kings seem to have been tolerant o f other religions within their realms. ‘prin ciple’ and ‘ right’ . and manifested in the social w orld in rules o f interpersonal interaction and ritual injunction. to the dom estic rituals (grh ya). ‘justice’. and expressed in the dom estic realm b y the figure o f the ideal Brahm an and in the political realm b y the figure o f the ideal king. It w as the king w h o legitim ized the B rahm an’s p o w er through his patronage.

and the custom s o r ‘ good custom ’ o f the virtuous or those learned in the Veda. the study of grammar. correct pronunciation of vedic texts. T hese texts.6 53 . astrology. tradi­ tion (smrti). L ! j'f * The sources of dharma W hile the source o f dharm a is ultim ately the Veda. kalpa. T he G au tam a D harm a Sutra says that the Veda is the source o f dharm a and also o f the traditions w hich flo w from it. the auxiliary sciences. oral texts w ere fo rm u ­ lated betw een the eighth and fourth centuries b c e . vydkarana. w hose neglect w ould have bad social and personal consequences.I )harm a to on e’s fam ily and social group. D harm a is identified w ith vedic obligation. etym ology of vedic words. T h e philosopher o f the Mimamsa school (see p.e. are fo r their ow n realiza­ tion: it is ritual for ritual’s sake. though it does create reward in heaven fo r the ritual patron. A Brahm an can also perform supererogatory rituals for gaining w ealth and happiness in this w o rld and the next. form part o f a b o d y o f know ledge. w hich is eternal. to perform ritual action (karm a). Jaim ini. jyotisa. particularly the solem n rites. 236). defines dharm a as that o f w hich the characteristic is an injunction (v id h i). the Veda). the K alpa Sutras. The Vedangas are: siksa. kn ow n as the ‘lim bs o f the Veda’ (vedanga). nirukta. The rituals. w ithin the vedic tradi­ tions (sdkha).4 T h is means that dharm a is an obligation.5 There are three sources o f dharm a according to the D harm a Sutras: revelation (i. declared b y the Veda. w hich brings o f itself no rew ard other than that its non-perform ance w ould be ‘that w hich is not dharm a’ (adharm a) and result in retribution or ‘sin’ (papa). chandas. The M anu S m rti o r M a n a va D harm a Sastra adds to these three ‘w hat is pleasing to oneself’ w hich might be rendered as ‘ conscience’ . the correct performance of ritual. D hartna is an all encom passing ideology which embraces both ritual and moral behaviour. but these are not obligatory. and w ith action w hich is particular: the transcendent dharm a is expressed or manifested at a human level in ritual action in order to produce that w hich is good. concerned w ith ritual and law. prosody.

and G rh y a Sutras attributed to them. but w hich uses the same sutra style. texts dealing with the correct performance of the solemn or public rites. The Srauta Sutras are rit­ ual manuals w hich lay out the rules fo r the perform ance o f srauta rites. E ach sage is thought to have com posed a text in all three classes. dom estic rites. D urin g the G u pta period they underwent a revival and are preserved in present times am ong the N am bu dri Brahm ans o f Kerala. an oblation made w ith ghee is understood. dealing with law and social ethics. called srauta because they fo llo w fro m sruti. D harm a. is a pith y aphorism w hich states a principle or rule. though regarded as inspired and extraordinary hum ans. W hile the Veda is revelation. have Srauta. to perform dharm a correctly is to fulfil one’s ritual obligations. the second source ol dharm a. dealing with domestic rites. and surprisin gly have survived p o lit­ ical upheavals and social changes throughout In dia’s long history.7 The Srauta Sutras are technical manuals com prising rules and metarules fo r w hat Frits Staal has called a ‘ science o f ritual’ . literally ‘thread’. but rather concentrating on the rules b y w hich it should be perform ed. A sutra. T H E SR AU TA SUTRAS These texts. The actual srauta rites are prim arily focused upon A gn i and Som a to w h om vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings are made into three o r five fires established upon altars. These rules are cum ulative. lay dow n the rules.An introduction to Hinduism T he Kalpa Sutras. These 54 . Th is science is furtherm ore distinct from the Brahm ana literature w hich preceded it. ‘rem em bered’ texts (smrti) com posed b y hum an sages w ithin the various vedic schools. fo r the perform ance o f public. H iranyakesin and Baudhayana. Thus. vedic ritual. . . In all o f these texts w e see h ow dharm a was seen v e ry m uch in terms o f rit­ ual. in an injunction to m ake an oblation. in not speculating about the hidden meanings o f ritual. in a high ly technical form . T he earliest is b y Baudhayana (sixth century b c e o r earlier) w h ose text is the first example o f the sutra style.the Srauta Sutras. This science o f ritual has close parallels to the science o f language w hich developed a little later. the later rules assuming the earlier. though in fact o n ly three sages. A pastam ba.the Dharma Sutras. the Kalpa Sutras are tradition o r secondary revelation. These public rituals are older and m ore co m ­ plex than the simpler.the G rhya Sutras. ¡ire categorized into three groups: .

Baudhayana. That is. w ere to reject. w hose texts con ­ tain rules fo r perform ing dom estic rites. the G rh y a Sutras dem onstrate the dom estic concerns o f the Brahm an householder. T H E D H A R M A SUTRAS These texts develop material found in the G rh y a Sutras and are concerned w ith custom s and correct human conduct. In contrast to the Srauta Sutras. Indeed. though the tw o spheres became intim ately connected: to perform one’s ritual obligations w as to act in accordance w ith one’s social status w hich w as to act ethically. laying emphasis on dom estic rituals and codes o f acceptable behaviour. and rites o f passage. particularly Buddhism . but came to be restricted to the Brahm an class. initiation. It is interesting to note that at the level o f self-representation. T he m ost im portant o f the D harm a Sutras are ascribed to the sages Gautam a. as Staal lias shown. rules fo r ritual pu rity. m ar­ riage and death. Vasistha and Apastam ba. and lay the foundations for the im portant traditions o f the D harm a Sastra. C on cern fo r ritual became supplemented in the D harm a Sutras w ith a concern fo r reg­ ulating and defining social relationships w ithin and betw een groups. A Brahm an could perfo rm them fo r him self or fo r the other tw ice-born classes.8 T H E G R H Y A SUTRAS The G rh y a Sutras describe different kinds o f ritual (yajna) to be per­ form ed in the home. ritual procedures took precedence over social considerations. These dom estic rituals m ay have been perm itted fo r all tw ice-born classes in the earlier vedic period. a household m ight em ploy a Brahm an to perform dom estic rituals on ly fo r rites o f passage. 55 . classified as ‘ occasional rites’ (naim ittika-karm a) rather than ‘ daily rites’ (n itya-k arm a).I )h a rm a texts. T he significance o f these texts is that they lay d ow n rules fo r the perform ance o f dharm a fo r the A ry a n house­ holder. an idea w hich the renouncer tradi­ tions. are also distinct Icom Ihe later M imamsa philoso­ phy which is concerned with arguing a viewpoint. particularly against the Buddhists. and rules pertain­ ing to the fo u r stages o f life (asram a). These texts contain instructions on kindling the dom estic fire w h ich it is incum bent upon the Brahm an to keep. from the perspective o f dharm a there is no gap between ritual perfo r­ mance and social or ethical obligation. jurisprudence. p articu larly birth.

‘cart-m akers’ ). T he subject matter is the same. though they contain older material. The D harm a Sastras differ from the earlier Sutras in that they are com posed in verse in contrast to the prose or m ixture o f prose and verse o f the Sutras. particularly the Yajnavalkya Smrti and the Narada Smrti. the caste o f W heelw rights. w hat w as prohibited. indeed. In one inscription. and w ere particularly concerned w ith dharma in respect to caste and stage o f life. T h e rules o f dharma in the D harm a Sastras merge into jurisprudence and they becom e im portant texts in H indu legislation and litigation. other D harm a Sastras are im portant fo r their legal material. p rob ab ly com posed during the G u pta period (320-50 0 c e). Indeed. w hat w as expected o f him. and contain m ore material o f a juridical nature. cosm ic sense o f law and duty. w hich elaborates upon the topics o f the Sutra literature. all-encom passing law. the varnasrama-dharma. first translated into English b y the founder o f Indology. and h ow these rules relate to a wider. The Brahm ans w h o fo llo w ed the teachings o f these texts w ere know n as Smartas. one o f the first Sanskrit texts ‘ discovered’ b y the British w as the M ann Smrti or M anava Dharma Sdstra. and published in 1794. Sir W illiam Jon es. com posed betw een the second cen­ tu ry b c e and third century c e .9 It is these texts w hich are particularly im portant as sources o f dharma and w hich provide clear indications fo r the high-caste householder as to w h at duties he should perform . These texts contain a doctrine o f dharma as a universal. w hich is y et flexible and adaptable to different circumstances and a variety o f situations. We kn o w som ething o f their use from tw elfth-century epigraphic evidence. som e­ times sim ply referred to b y that name. W hile the M anu Smrti is the oldest and m ost im portant text o f this genre. T h ey w ere used particularly b y assemblies o f Brahm ans throughout the history o f H induism to help decide legal matters. those w h o fo llo w ed the smrtis. though the Sastras give m ore explication w here the Sutras are silent.An introduction to Hinduism T H E D H A R M A SASTRAS T h e D harm a Sastras are a slightly later group o f texts. W hile other texts o f human authorship were regarded as smrti. are disputing their p o si­ 56 . it is the D harm a Sastras w hich are particu larly associated w ith smrti and are. The Sanskrit com mentaries are also im portant. particul­ arly the Epics (itihdsa ) and narrative traditions (purana ). even during the period o f British rule in India. particularly pertaining to the role o f the kin g . the rathakaras (lit. particularly M edhatithi’s com m entary on the M anu Smrti.

1)h arm a tion in the vetlic social hierarchy. not on ly from the D harm a Sastras. The context-sensitivity of dharma W hile dharm a has been an im portant concept associated w ith kingship and has pervaded all classes o f H indu society. w hether the sta­ tus o f pu rity is subordinate to political p o w er o r superior to it. There is. eternal principle. The Sastras reflect the dom inant brahmanical ideol­ o gy and a vision o f social order in w hich the Brahm ans. The Brahm an. had an im portant place as the upholders o f ritual and moral pu rity and the conveyors o f the sacred traditions. how ever.10 Such inscriptions show that the D harm a Sastras w ere im portant and were used in an advisory capacity to help settle am biguous legal matters. should be in as pure a state as possible through ritual purification. To fulfil his dharm a a Brahm an’s ritual action must be pure (su d dh i). including the N arada and Y djn avalk ya Smrtis. The p olarity o f pu rity and pollution organizes H indu social space. 57 . the class w ith the highest status. menial group. the law books have been m ainly concerned w ith the obligations o f Brahm ans. and another. A t a universal level dharm a refers to a cosm ic. by virtue o f being the highest class o f person. These inscriptions also show us that texts w ere open to a continuous process o f interpretation in the light o f contem ­ porary social events. is excluded from certain kinds o f interaction w ith other classes. In quoting from a w ide range o f textual sources. the inscriptions suggest an awareness o f a scholarly H indu tradition and a high degree o f assertiveness and self-aw areness am ong low er social groups. one group born from ‘ respectable’ o r hypergam ous marriages o f the tw ice-born classes. A t a particular level. born from the marriages o f high-caste w om en w ith low -caste m en. Th e body. p rincipally b y water. A lth ou gh there is some debate concerning the im portance o f p u rity in H induism . the stone records the decision that there are tw o types o f wheelw rights. a principle recognized in the D harm a Sastras w hich view social ethics as the maintenance o f order and the boundaries between groups and genders as governed b y degrees o f pu rity and pollution. rules o f com m ensality and strict m arriage regulations ensure the clear maintenance o f boundaries. yet it m ust also relate to the w orld o f hum an transaction. W illi quotations from a num ber o f Sanskrit sources. w hich is polluted every day b y its effluents. a deeper level o f p o l­ lution w hich is a p rop erty o f the b od y and differentiates one social group from another. pu rity is undoubtedly a ve ry im portant concept.

that is. the N o b les o r W arriors (rajanya. [even] w ithout any good qualities. and in terms o f the W est’s perception o f H induism .12 The D harm a Sastras p rovid e us w ith examples o f this. is ‘custom ’ .An introduction to Hinduism dharma applies to specific laws and the contexts to which they are applied. M anu says: ‘ on e’s ow n duty. as w e have seen. have defined themselves against this brahm anical norm . Th e religious obliga­ tions o f men d iffer at different ages and v a ry according to caste {jati). fam ­ ily (kula ). its influence has been substantial in terms o f H indu self-perception and self-representation. the C om m oners {vais'ya) and the Serfs (sudra). This means that dharma can be adapted to particular situations and particular applica­ tions o f it w ere decided b y a local assem bly o f a num ber o f learned m en. C L A S S (V ARN A) A N D C A S T E { j A T l ) Vedic society. and so on. ksatriya). W hile it should be rem em bered that some H indu traditions have rejected this model.14 V arnasram a-dharm a Tw o concerns in particular dom inate the D harm a Sutras and Sastras. and cou n try (des'a). m ust judge according to the custom s and particular duties (svadharma ) o f each region.15 O n ly the tw ice-born classes were allow ed to hear the Veda and. dharma is ‘context sensitive’. one’s obligation {dharma) w ith regard to one’s position in society. These tw o concerns together became know n as varnasrama-dharma w hose fu l­ film ent w as a sign o f brahmanical orth op raxy and. part o f an essentialist definition o f a H indu. class {varna). fo r instance. T his idea o f svadharma is im portant in understanding that dharma is relative to d if­ ferent contexts: w hat is correct action fo r a w arrio r w o u ld be incorrect fo r a Brahm an. O ne o f the sources o f dharma according to Manu. such as tantric tradi­ tions. the Brahm ans. This sys­ tem w as part o f a larger ‘ chain o f being’ . and obligation w ith regard to one’s stage o f life (asrama ). indeed. fitting into a cosm ical hierarchy in w hich various categories (jati) w ere arranged in varyin g degrees o f subtlety and purity and associated w ith each other. on ly the Brahm ans came to be its 5« . was divided into fo u r classes.13 A king.1 1 as W endy D on iger has observed. is bet­ ter than som eone else’s du ty w ell-d on e’ . w hat is correct fo r a man m ay be incorrect fo r a w om an. w hile in an earlier period all tw ice-born were eligible to learn it. It has been integral to brahmanical id eology and m any H indu traditions. the top three classes being called the ‘ tw iceb o rn ’ {dvija) because b oys underwent an initiation {upanayana).

the Vaisyas w ith yellow . the term ja ti (‘birth’) refers to those endogam ous sections o f H indu society w hich w e k n o w as ‘ castes’ . practise agriculture and m oney-lending.17 This ‘ substance’ has been regarded b y some anthropologists as som ething w hich is exchanged in transactions: social actors constantly emit and absorb each other’s substances and so are not autonom ous individuals. . Insects. and the Sudra should serve the other classes and practise a rt. w hich show s that differences betw een human castes m ight be regarded as being as great as differences between different species. C astes are characterized b y the fo llo w in g features: . the Brahmans being the most pure.i guardians. dom estic animals. as Gandhi called them. refers to the fo u r classes o f vedic society. ‘ colou r’ . Indeed the Brahm an and K satriya varnas are also taken to be jdtis. T he Visnu Sm rti states clearly that the Brahm ans’ duties are to teach the Veda and to sacrifice for others. Between these are a wide array o f other castes. the colour o f the earth. the Untouchables the most impure. with the Brahmans at the top. the colou r o f passion and energy.the caste of any individual is inalienable.I )h arm . it is a property of the body and cannot be removed (except according to some traditions by initiation). w ild animals and celestial beings are all jdtis. 59 . the Vaisya should tend cattle. and the Sudras w ith black. the K satriya’s is to practise with arms and protect the people. the colour o f pu rity and lightness. M em bers o f a ja ti share the same b o d ily substance. .18 The hum an jdtis are a highly com plex social reality w hich incorporate w ithin them m any sub-divisions.ils.the caste hierarchy is based on the polarity between purity and pollution. w hich refers not to an y supposed racial charac­ teristics.16 T he term translated as ‘ class’ is varn a.there are strict rules of caste endogamy and commensality. learning it and reciting it during i iiu. The caste system . . but to all categories o f beings. Th e Brahm ans w ere associated w ith w hite.castes are arranged in a hierarchical structure in any region. The term ja ti refers not on ly to social classes. but to a system o f colour sym bolism reflecting the social hierar­ chy as w ell as the qualities (gu n a) w hich are present in varyin g degrees in all things. W hile the term varna. plants. the K satriyas w ith red. dalits as they call themselves) at the bottom. the Untouchables (harijans. substances w h ich are ranked hierarchically. the colour o f darkness and inertia.

legendary origin. then those in w hich the man is o f higher caste than the w om an. fo r exam ple. as the Rg Veda states. the universal m oral law. m ar­ riages ‘with the grain’ (anuloma ). against the dangers o f w hich he warns the tw ice-bo rn . if they are to occur. there are nevertheless subtleties in dharma w hich accom m odate various human situations. are better than marriages o f low-caste 60 . The varnas on the other hand. yet there is the institution o f the tem porary gandharva marriage fo r the satisfaction o f desire. has nevertheless retained a continuity. creating a pure. as do all human social institutions. and adultery b y the w om an being ‘ eaten b y dogs in a place frequented b y m an y’ and the man ‘ burnt on a red hot iron bed’. Indeed philosophical texts do not consistently distinguish between the tw o terms and.19 The traditional view is that the jatis repre­ sent a proliferation o f social groups from the varna system . It is probable that the caste system was com plex even at the time o f Manu.21 It is not certain w hether such severe punishm ents w ere ever actually carried out. Dharma. M anu could be attempting to m ake sense o f a pre-given social stratification in terms o f the clear id eology o f the vedic classes.yiiz is used in the sense o f varna in the D harm a Sastra literature.20 Indeed Manu prescribes some severe penalties fo r ‘ sexual m isconduct’ .An introduction to Hinduism w hile having changed through time. Yet w hile M anu presents a clear vision o f social ethics based on caste hierarchy. w hen he attempts to explain the proliferation o f jatis in terms o f miscegenation am ongst the varnas. F o r exam ple. sacrificed at the beginning o f time. and fluid in the sense that different castes can change their rank relative to each other in any region over a period o f time by. It is not certain that the ‘ castes’ or jatis developed from the varna system . there are circumstances in w hich it is permitted. T he exact historical relationship between varna and jd ti is unclear. A Brahm an w ho sleeps w ith a Sudra w om an goes to hell and loses brahm anical status upon the birth o f a son. according to H albfass. provide a stable m odel fo r a stratified social order in w h ich each group is clearly defined and functions as part o f an organic w hole: as part o f the b o d y o f society w hich is also the b o d y o f the prim al person or being. m ust be adapted to human situations and to the everyday reality o f the householder. but these examples certainly have rhetorical impact and M anu clearly makes the point that sex outside the boundaries o f m arriage pre­ scribed b y dharma is not to be tolerated b y an ordered society. A lth ough cross-caste marriages are condemned in Manu. hom osexuality is punished b y loss o f caste. sex outside caste-restricted m arriage is w rong. and w hile killing is w ron g.

U ntouchable castes constitute about a fifth o f India’s population. The dating o f Manu is unsure. is not much used in Sanskrit sources. though forbidden to hear the Veda and ou t­ side the tw ice-born designation. according to Manu.22 The ‘ fierce’ caste. though it is earlier than the third century c e and p ro b ab ly far older. w hom Manu classifies as a group w hom he contem ptuously calls ‘dog-cookers’. from the Buddhist Jatakas.I )h arm a men with high-caste wom en.26 T H E ASRAMA S Y S T E M T he second concept in the id eology o f dbarma is that o f life’s stages o r the asramas. T h ey were totally excluded from vedic society and high-caste ritual traditions. as Manu directs. am ongst others such as one fallen from caste or a menstruating wom an. fo r the im purity o f the U ntouchable is inseparable from the p u rity o f the Brahm an. cocks. If a Brahm an is touched b y a member o f one o f these groups. are taken as exem plifying the low est social groups. and the ‘fierce’ Untouchables (candala ) . stories o f the previous lives o f the Buddha. living on the outside o f villages. the candalas. cited b y D um ont. though the actual term asprsta.23 A lth ough untouchability is now legally prohibited in India. mentions the Untouchables as having to strike a piece o f w ood before entering a tow n as a w arning fo r people to avoid them. he should p u rify him self w ith a bath. highly polluting to the higher castes. and so becom ing know n as ‘ untouchables’ in the West.are born from the union o f Sudra wom en with C om m oners. three o f the lowest or outcast groups . ‘outcaste’ beyond the system o f the fo u r classes (avarna ). E ven the Sudras w ere w ithin the class system . Fa-hsien.25 Th e untouchable classes alm ost certainly go back into the first m illennium b c e . they are at opposite ends o f the status hierarchy. o f untouchable castes several centuries before the com ­ m on era. carvers. dogs and pigs. These are codifications o f different elements present in vedic 61 .24 and living b y perform ing m enial and polluting tasks such as w o rk in g w ith leather and sweeping excrement from the village. There was never a literal caste o f ‘dogcookers’ . marriages ‘ against the grain’ (jnatiloma). There is evidence.the castes o f carpenters. but the U ntouchables had no place w ithin the higher social orders. Th e fifthcentury C hinese Buddhist pilgrim . F o r example. and D um ont not im plausibly suggests that both Brahm ans and U ntouchables w ere established at the same time. are the consequences of such mixed marriages. ‘ untouched’. The jdtis. W arriors and Brahm ans respectively. this is m erely M anu’s rhetoric fo r groups identified w ith the most impure o f creatures.

or institutions. and renouncer (samnydsa).27 T he ds'ramas are a theological entity w hose object o f reflection is the social institution. as O livelle has show n.29 T h us. and much space in the Sastras is devoted to describing the demands o f each stage. the source o f the anglicized ‘ ashram ’ ) and came to be applied to the style o f life o f those Brahm ans w h o lived there.An introduction to Hinduism society and an attempt to integrate them into . Initially the term referred to a ‘ herm itage’ (dsrama . A s w ith the varna system . perform ing the dom estic sacrifice. should be dis­ tinguished from the socio-religious institutions com prehended b y the system . T he student o f the 62 . householder (grhastha). as a theo­ logical construct w ithin the H indu hermeneutical tradition. B y the time o f the D harm a Sastras. The four stages are: that o f the celibate student (brabmacdrya ). and eventually came to refer to other brahmanical styles o f life as w ell. T he brah­ manical ‘herm its’ w h o lived in an dsrama w ere householders w ithin the vedic fold. In the D harm a Sutras the dsramas are not regarded as successive stages through w hich a man m ust pass. The term. this time concerned not w ith the ordering o f society but w ith the diachronic ordering o f the individual’s life: they are a paradigm o f h ow the high-caste man should live. referring not on ly to the place w here the brahm anical householder-herm its dw elled. P atrick O livelle has show n that the dsrama system . guru) to learn the Veda. The dsrama system arose during the fifth century b c e as a result o f changes w ithin the brahm anical tradition. T he celibate student stage o f life (brahmacdrya) refers to the traditional period after the high-caste initiation (upanayana ) w h en a b o y w o u ld go to the hom e o f his teacher (dearya. w hich the system reflects upon. the dsramas are a m odel. w h o pursued a religious life. H e w ou ld then becom e a ‘student’ in the house o f a teacher.28 T he m eaning o f the term came to be extended.or lifestyle choices . he could choose a life o f stu dy and continue as a ‘ student’ or to the tw ice-born male after com plet­ ing his studies. The tw ice-born b o y w ou ld be separated from childhood b y the vedic initiation. the dsramas have solidified into successive stages through w h ich the tw ice-born should pass. but as perm anent po ssi­ bilities . herm it o r forest dw eller (vanaprastba ). referred to this special category o f brahm anical householder. but to the style o f life they led. A t the end o f this period o f study he w ou ld choose one o f the dsramas that he w ould w ish to fo llo w fo r the rest o f his adult life.1 coherent system . p rob ab ly in areas rem oved from towns and villages. during w hich time he w ou ld learn about the duties and responsi­ bilities o f each o f the fo u r dsramas.

the idea behind this. in a sense. H ere. ‘ constantly devoting him self to the recitation o f the Veda. in order to generate spiritual energy or ‘ inner heat’ (tapas) ? “ The 1 significant difference between this stage and that o f the total w o rld renouncer is the use o f fire. then. In this stage a man. collects fuel. along w ith his w ife if he so wishes. the Vedas. he should be controlled. eating on ly certain kinds o f food such as vegeta­ bles.31 Yet. and m entally com posed. A ccordin g to M anu. in the w o rd s o f Manu. he should retire and becom e a herm it o r forest-dw eller (vanaprastha). trans-hum an realm o f spiritual liberation. If fire and cooked food are sym bols o f culture and raw food o f nature.10 where he has all the charac­ teristics o f the student portrayed in the 1 )harma Sastras: he begs fo r food. practises penances. wears an antelope skin. w e can see that vanaprastha practised severe b o d ily asceticism.33 H e is not a com plete renunciate and has not given up fire fo r cooking and. roots and fruits and even practising extreme austerity such as sitting surrounded b y five fires in the sum m er o r w earing w et clothes in winter. Indeed the term brahmacarin can mean ‘ one w h o is celi­ bate’ . as Lévi-Strauss has suggested. flow ers. this state w ou ld last between nine and as m any as th irty-six years. fo r m aking the daily offerings into the three sacrificial fires. N evertheless. can be sublimated fo r a religious purpose. and practises heat-generating austerity (tapas). A fte r this the student w ould undergo a hom e-com ing ritual and w ou ld soon be m arried and entered upon the householder’s life. says Manu. friendly. m ore im portantly. the creator deity in the Bráhm anas. com pas­ sionate to all living beings’ . during w hich time the student w ou ld learn all. then the renouncer in relinquishing fire has. com m on to all Indian religions. he is attem pting to transcend culture fo r a pure.32 W hen a householder is w rinkled and grey and sees his grandchildren. 63 . from the descriptions o f this stage in the D harm a Sastras. Th e renouncer has gone beyond the vedic injunctions o f maintaining his sacred fires. relinquished culture. being that to remain celibate is to be unpolluted b y sex and to control sexual energy w hich. retires from householder’s duties to live an ascetic life in the forest and to devote him self to ritual. is know n as early as the Atharva Vccla. usually understood as the retention o f semen.I )h a rm a Veda o r brahmacarin. or a num ber of. he should alw ays be a giver and a non-taker. and is under a strict rule o f celibacy. the brahmacarin is in a h oly condition in w hich he is identi­ fied w ith Prajápati. unlike the contem porary idea o f the student. ‘ one w ho moves with or applies him self to brah­ man’. living entirely b y begging he does not coo k his ow n food.

a model o f rational self-control w h o restrains his senses ‘ as a charioteer his race­ horses’ . then he m ay aim at attaining liberation (m oksa). Th e D harm a Sastras favou r the householder’s life. and has paid his three debts (rn a) o f vedic study to the seers (>>/). remain in tension.37 The image o f the renouncer might be contrasted not o n ly w ith the Brahm an but also w ith the image o f the king. have regarded the renouncer and the householder to be the central contrast w ith H induism . and tw o institutions. w h o has given up hom e. in the sense o f social obligation. w ho. unlike the Brahm an. and death rites .and rites perform ed fo r a desired result (kam ya-karm a) such as going to heaven. explicitly states that. This is in contrast to the renouncer. O f the asramas the householder and renouncer stages are clearly the m ost im portant both ideologically and in terms o f concrete historical developm ents. making it clear that w hile renunciation and the goal o f liberation are valid. does not possess brahmanical purity. and w h o cultivates total detachment.36 and w h o perform s the correct ritual activity. db arm a . These tw o stages. Some scholars. nam ely the perform ance o f obliga­ to ry daily rituals (nitya-karm a ). W hile throughout the history o f H induism there are attempts to reconcile the householder and the renouncer ideals. or rather the figures o f the householder and the renouncer w h o pass through them. reflect the distinction between sociopolitical religion and soteriology. the tw o images. w hile others. unlike the renouncer. the use o f fire fo r ritual and cooking. The relation between the images o f the renouncer. says M ann. being lo w er in the varn a hierarchy and having corpse-pollution due to w ar and punishm ent. notably Ja n H eesterm an. high-caste initiation. and o f begetting sons to make funeral offerings to the ancestors (pitr). the householder’s is the best because the householder supports the others and his activity is the suprem e good . of ritual to the gods (d e v a ). Manu. have argued fo r 64 . treating everything w ith equanim ity and going beyond attachment to the material w o rld . possesses political pow er. occasional rituals (n aim ittika-karm a) such as the life-cycle rituals (samskara) o f birth. and. H e abides b y the ritual injunctions (vidh i) o f the Veda.An introduction to Hinduism I f a Brahman fo llo w s through the slaves nl life. they must be deferred until social obligations have been met: here. is clearly superior to moksa. I lowever. o f the fou r stages. the Brahm an householder and the king.35 The text presents a picture o f the Brahm an as a learned man. such as Lou is D um ont. if he has not fulfilled his social obligations then he goes to hell. the ideal householder. has been contentious.

The first and last asramas are explicitly celibate. love {kam a) w as a traditional art w hich w om en handed dow n to one another through the generations.39 This is also the case in H indu erotic literature where w om en are not sim ply the instruments o f male desire.40 and a realm o f human experience w hich is legitim ized in the Sm rti literature. Sex is not inherently sinful but can be legitimately explored and expressed w ithin the correct caste-specific boundaries. The forestdweller and the renouncer. 65 . the Kam a £astras. 72). A s Biardeau <>bserves. and the m ost notable text. ‘w om an ’s d u ty ’ . or more correctly her strldharm a. H ow ever. 'That physical love {kam a) is a legitimate purpose o f life is significant in demonstrating a strand in brahmanical id eology w hich was generally p o s­ it ive towards the b od y and transform sexual pow er for the purposes o f the higher goal o f libera11011. a text to which. Yet even the B rah m an s sexuality stands w ithin his rational control. celibacy is a defining characteristic o f brahmacarya^ the 1 cntral ascetic idea being that sexual p o w er contained in semen can be 1 (directed to a spiritual end and. like the brahm acarin. E ven M anu. w ou ld experience kam a w ith courtesans trained in the arts o f love. particu­ larly a king. was anathema to the orth od ox Brahm an fo r it threatened his ritual pu rity and threatened the stability o f society and the family. Sexual enjoym ent was regarded as the forem ost o f pleasures and a man o f wealth. nam ely his w ife and other w om en o f his household. p ar­ ticularly the control o f diet and sexuality. a text which in the light o f contem porary western sensibilities seems oppressive o f wom en’s rights. sexuality beyond rational control. love was a w om an ’s svadh arm a. O n ly the householder can express and explore his sexuality as a legit­ imate goal o f life (kam artha). recognizes the need fo r the mutual sexual satisfaction of husband and w ife. Gender roles All these stages are characterized b y different regimens o f the body. a control which orders his w orld according to the principles o f maintaining 1 itual purity and o f controlling elements w ithin it w hich threaten to dis­ rupt that purity. are seeking to transcend . that is. w om en had access.I )h a rm a I he sim ilarity between the renouncer and the Brahm an and have em pha­ sized the contrast between the Brahman and the king38 (seep. exceptionally. indeed. outside o f caste restrictions and pollution controls. especially b y men w ith w ealth and power. particularly his ow n desire and its focus. be stored in the head. V atsy ay ana’s K am a Sutra. concerning w hich there is an extensive literature.

obedient service to her husband is her prim ary religious duty. even beyond regard fo r her ow n life. A high-caste wom an must do nothing independently (svatantra). as a married w om an to her husband. A ccordin g to M an u . wom en are to be subject to male control throughout their lives. has on ly begun to change in the twentieth a child to her father. yet she is also strong in herself. still sometimes occurs in contem porary India. yet wom en are also polluting to the Brahm an male during menstruation.43 An eighteenth-century dharmic text.sauca. suddhi) and pollution (asauca. Sita is demure. w ithin the realm o f dom esticity. a clear p ic­ ture o f brahmanical ideology.An introduction to Hinduism M ann's attitude to wom en expresses tlie ambivalence of the general brahm anical ideal. A b o v e all. in India as elsewhere. In this narrative the god-king Ram a is banished to the forest w ith his brother Balaram a and his w ife Sita. a situation w hich. but w ielded little p o w er in the realms o f public office. but the H indu epic poem com posed perhaps as early as the fifth century b c e . but the degree to w hich this reflected social reality is unclear. a w om an ’s virtuous behaviour w ill be rewarded b y heaven upon her death. T ryam baka’s Strldharm a P a d d h a ti. and his expectations o f her. endures great hardship and displays great devotion to her husband. but must be subject to male authority . gives details o f the w ife ’s duties tow ards her husband. adm inistration and politics. w h o is treated b y her as a d e v a .44 H ow ever. and as a w id o w to her sons. m odest. W omen p ro b ab ly wielded p o w er w ithin the hom e. beautiful and dedicated to her L o rd Ram a. In M anu w e have the brahmanical view o f h ow things should be. asuddhi) and on the other the distinction between auspiciousness 66 . a ‘ good w om an ’ (sati) is one w h o dies on her husband’s funeral p yre if he predeceases her. Purity and auspiciousness Tw o distinctions have been im portant in the h istory o f H indu society: on the one hand the distinction between pu rity (. She is the ideal highcaste w ife. W omen are to be revered and kept happy by the house­ holder in order that the fam ily may thrive.42 In later brahm anical tradition.41 B y leading a life subject to male authority. In exam ining H in du literature on dharm a w e are dealing w ith brah­ m anical self-representations and idealized images o f gender roles. the R am ayana. a practice w hich had devel­ oped b y the fourteenth century though it was not kn ow n to Manu> and although n ow illegal. prob ab ly the text w hich best portrays the ideal high-caste w om an is not a technical law b ook.

The scale o f purity and pollution is a scale o f status hierarchy which corresponds to the caste hierarchy with the Brahmans at the top and the dalits at the bottom .45 A lth ou gh in one sense the king is the ideal householder. jurisprudence and. auspiciousness has been the predom inant concern o f the king and the local dom inant caste. able to fulfil the ¿7 . intim ately linked to the idea o f the sacred. A uspiciousness and inauspi­ ciousness. W hile p u rity has been the predom inant concern o f the Brahm an. an ideal in w hich the king was the centre o f the H indu universe. times and relationships are conducive to the w ell-being o f the society or in d ivid­ ual. social or caste obligation. The political theology of kingship O ne o f the m ost im portant aspects o f dharm a is its applicability to k in g­ ship. The king. m añgala) and inauspiciousness (a iu b h a . W hile the Brahm an creates a ritually pure environm ent. A stro lo g y is particularly im portant here in determ ining the degree o f auspiciousness for a particular event such as a m arriage. so the king must create an auspicious kingdom . and had apolitical dim en­ sion in governing the status and behaviour o f the king. the D harm a texts have w ider inter­ ests in the fou r stages o f life. it was also the province o f dom estic affairs and public. sim ilarly the king was thought to do so. The degree o f pu rity and pollution is concerned w ith status. A s the icon o f a deity is thought to mediate betw een the divine and hum an realms. on the other hand. Kingship has been ve ry im portant in H induism . might be regarded as a channel fo r divine p o w er and the level o f p rosperity in the kingdom related to the degree to w hich he lives up to this responsibility. This ideal o f kingship plays an im portant role even in contem porary H induism and rituals o f kingship persist into the present. the rites and duties o f kings. w hile dharm a is timeless and transcendent. W hereas the G rh y a Sütras are concerned on ly w ith dom estic ritual. one in w hich there is good fortune and prosperity. the ideal o f kingship was upheld through­ out H indu h istory from the vedic period onw ards. particu­ larly political power. like the icon in a temple. Regardless o f the actions o f any particular king. the degree o f auspiciousness and inauspiciousness concerned w ith power. amarínala). particularly.Dharma (yu bh a. social relationships. is a scale o f the degree to w hich events. The ability to create auspi­ ciousness in the kingdom is a function o f the kin g’s divinity. H indu society is arranged around this scale. both as an ideal and as a sociopolitical reality. F ro m these texts w e see that.

or rather a com posite deity. therefore he surpasses all living beings in brilliant energy. o f wealth. and he is (Yama) the King of Justice. Manu writes: Because a king is made from particles of these lords of the gods. but this changed in the later vedic period w hen the pow er o f the king became m ore absolute. generally even if not a K satriya. W hile the king is not endowed w ith divine origin in the D harm a Sutras.49 This passage show s the king as the highest point o f the kingdom or polity. K a u tilya’s Artha Sdstra and the great epic poem the M ahabharata . being form ed from fragments o f the different vedic gods Indra. he is the Sun and the Moon. and he is great Indra. The beginnings o f this id eology are found in the R g Veda Samhita where Indra is the king ‘ o f that w hich m oves and that w hich rests. and o f sexual love with innumerable courte­ sans. he is also divine.An introduction to Hinduism goals o f dharm a . H e is a great deity in the form o f a man. o f the tame and o f the horned. E ven a child king is no mere m ortal but a great deity in human form . he burns eyes and hearts. deva . Varuna. later texts clearly identify the king w ith a deity or deities.particularly identified in the m edieval period w ith the god Visnu. W orldly pow er in the history of I lindu kingship is legitim ated in terms o f a religious sym bolism in which the qualities o f deities are attributed to kings. X The kings o f the early vedic period w ere constrained b y the po w er o f tribal councils. the king is emitted b y the L o rd o f the C osm os.47 The king ideally aspires to be a ‘ruler o f the universe’ or cakravartin (‘one w h o is at the centre o f the w h eel’ ). A gn i. encircling all this as a rim encircles spokes.a divin ity w hich is attested in one o f the names fo r king. H e rules the people as their king. . that w e can build a clearer picture o f the id eology o f sacral kingship in early Indian politics. and b y the id eology o f the d eity’s energy (sakti) flow in g through him .48 O nce consecrated. Surya. A ccordin g to M anu . This m odel o f sacral kingship w as later em bellished b y the tantric identifi­ cation o f the king w ith the deity. V ayu .’46 Sim ilarly the hum an king is lord o f his kingdom or sphere and as such should protect his realm and w age w ar against his enemies. Som a and K u bera and in some sense m ight be said to contain all gods. he is Kubera [Lord of wealth] and he is Varuna. and. the king is no mere hum an being but a god. particularly the G oddess. It is from the D harm a Sastras. Through his special power he becomes Fire and Wind. Yam a. The king was regarded as a divine being . like the Sun. and no one on earth is able even to look at him.

than in the practical concerns o f the day-to -d ay running o f a region or regions. Rather. functioned in an integrated way. Inden writes that w ithin this w orld ‘the kingship equated w ith the sun. and the su pralocality w ithin the kin gd om . dow n to com m on people in the villages. W hile there is much rhetoric in the D harm a literature concerning the need for the king to administer justice. F o r m ost o f the h isto ry o f south A sia from the advent o f kingship to dom ination b y foreign p o w ­ ers. pow er descends to the court and to the rest o f the realm. an ‘ imperial fo rm ation’ . in w hich each part played a role in its maintenance. From the king. The ruler o f a large kingdom . the king was an integral part o f a w hole structure in w hich he and those b elow him. but the tradition and legitim ation of the institution o f kingship through the idea o f the descent o f p o w er from above during the k in g’s anointing. its officialdom w ith the lesser gods o f the sky. the locality w ithin the supralocality. a dharm araja.50 T H E S E G M E N T A R Y H IN D U STATE The H in du kingdom . all parts’ .1)h arm a It was not so much the charisma of any particular king which maintained power. w ere. These elements w ere em bedded w ithin each other. the H indu king was m ore im p or­ tant as a ritual figure in close p ro xim ity to the divine than as a ruler involved w ith the bureaucracy and running o f the kingdom . as historian B u rto n Stein has show n. Th is m odel is found in K a u tily a ’s A rth a Sdstra w h ich presents 69 . The H in du king w o u ld have been the ritual focus o f the sacred centre. The politically segm entary nature o f the H indu k in g­ dom was ritually united in the figure o f the king. a ritual figure w h o held together his kingdom not so m uch as a united adm inistrative entity. was segm en­ tary. We cannot sim ply regard the H indu king as a despot or the institution o f divine kingship as a pecu­ liar consequence o f caste society. each region w o u ld have been ruled b y a chief or p etty-kin g w h o acknow ledged and paid allegiance to a sacred centre. to use R onald Inden’s term. The H indu p o lity was a com plex structure.51 Lesser kings gave ritual and sym b olic lo y a lty to m ore p o w erfu l kings and chieftains paid hom age to lesser kings. the queen w ith the earth. was m ore im portant as a m oral and ritual source. together w ith the com m oners. com prising a num ber o f em bedded elements or socio-political groupings w hich form ed a pyram idal structure. but as a segm ented political structure w ithin a com m on m oral fram e o f reference. the village w ithin the locality.

The king could be seen. W hile the physical b o d y o f the king was subject to death. therefore. but if he acts against d h arm a. W hatever happens to him 7o .53 This m odel can be applied to kingship in south A sia. m ore refined w orlds are located ‘ above’ . T he various w orlds w hich com prise the cosm os are con ­ trolled b y forces w h ich are also ‘persons’ . Furtherm ore. have some autonom y. regenerated b y the act o f royal consecration. the political b o d y o f the king as a m anifestation o f the gods. as the interm ediary between the eternal. yet at the same time they incorporate.An introduction to Hinduism the king as the centre o f a state form ation held together by alliances and w ars. There is a ‘ chain o f being’ w ithin the H indu universe w hich is reflected in the sociopolitical realm o f the H in du segm entary state. con ­ structed b y a cosm ic overlord out o f him self’ . lower. contained splendour and great power. a natural b o d y subject to disease and death and an im m utable political b o d y in w hich resided his sovereignty.w hich means the people . so the king rules his kingdom . the b o d y o f the kingdom . as in the segm entary H indu kingdom . the kingdom was embedded within a hierarchical cos­ m os. the b o d y o f the kingdom 54 lived on in the form o f the new king. The k in g’s body. T he physical b o d y o f the king could be killed. cosm ic law o f dharm a and its w o rld ly m anifestations in justice adm inistered through the courts o f a segmented hierarchical structure. If he acts in accordance w ith dharm a the kingdom prospers. The king is the pivotal point o f the b o d y politic: the ‘ b o d y o f the k in g­ dom ’ is recapitulated in his ow n body.suffers. as are all human bodies. w hich expressed the social body. In vedic and later H indu cosm ologies.52 The hum an realm m ust be located w ithin the context o f this w ider cosm o lo gy o f w hich it was thought to be a part. impure w orlds w hich. Inden has observed that the ‘natural w orld o f ancient and m edieval India was person-based. but the political body. was the w o rld ly counterpart o f the cosm ic m an’s imm olated b od y w hich com prised the cosm os. the universe is regarded as a hierarchical structure in w hich purer. T H E B O D Y OF T H E K I N G D O M The fam ous study b y K an torow icz show s h ow in medieval E urope the king had tw o bodies. In this hierarchical cosm ology the various w orlds or realms are governed b y an overlord or god w h o also em bodies the principles controlling or govern­ ing that w orld . A s a god might rule a sphere o f the cosm os.

governs all created beings. the term fo r w hich. castespecific duties and ensures the obedience o f the castes to the dharm ic ideal. It creates fear in all beings so that they do not w ander from their ow n. the king as upholder o f cosm ic order or dharm a is central to the contem po­ rary H indu politics (see p. A bad king. and even at an ideological level. W ith British colonialism the p ow er o f kings in India dim inished but was not w h o lly eradicated. M anu says that the king is created ‘as the protector o f the classes and stages o f life’ . the rajadharm a. and the ideal state was the ideal kingdom 7i . the king should see that justice is done and so maintain social order and harm ony. are: . .the protection of the people. there w ere still 565 kingdom s or princely states not under direct B ritish rule in 1947. protects them w hile they sleep and w ithout it there w ou ld be no order in society. A s Fuller notes. THE K IN G ’ S FUNCTIONS A ccording to the D harm a literature.the maintaining of social order through the control of caste boundaries. T he ritual im portance o f the king should not be underestimated. so society is a recapitulation o f the cosmic body o f the primal man. and even up until the 1 930s the M aharaj o f M ysore. one w ho neglects the protection o f the people and neglects the adm inistration o f justice. As the king is a m anifestation o f the gods. a kingdom w hich had developed out o f the ruins o f Vijayanagara. The king was the centre o f the H indu uni­ verse in the material w orld . danda (literally ‘the stick’). also meant punishm ent. . castes w ou ld be m ixed and the w hole w o rld w o u ld be in a state o f rage.56 Th rough the legal processes o f the state. w ou ld bring about social disharm ony and chaos. 262). a direct legacy from the festival o f the Vijayanagara kings. It keeps the w hole w o rld in order.I )h a rm a as the pinnacle o f the social body affects the dom ain for good or bad. The king is the absolute dispenser o f justice.the administration of justice (danda). D an da is the w a y in w hich dharm a is manifested upon the earth. celebrated the n avaratri festival. the central functions o f the king.55 H e is the suprem e upholder o f justice in the social w o rld w h o ensures the prosperity and protection o f the com m unities w hich he g o v­ erns so that his subjects live w ith a sense o f security.

the king aspires to participate in the transcendent realm o f the Brahm an. has been contrasted w ith the pu rity o f the Brahm an. but other castes. above all. D um on t has observed that castes can be divided into those w h o ow n land and those w h o do not. H e also gives a portion o f grain to other castes w ho provide him w ith services. and untouchable labourers w h o in turn receive ‘ gifts5 fo r their services. including w orsh ip. There is a reciprocal relationship here. the king hopes to participate in 72 . protec­ tion. and giving in turn gifts and. The other castes gain access to the means o f subsistence through personal relationships w ith the dom inant caste. w h o em bod­ ies an ideal o f w orld transcendence in perform ing the ritual. The dom inant caste em ploys Brahm ans for its ritual needs. w ith the king. the king might be regarded as a jajm an.An introduction to / /induism ruled by a king w ho was the analogue ol I he deity. pow erfu l landow ner w h o em ploys Brahm ans to perform rituals fo r him in return for a fee.58 B y em ploying Brahm ans in his court to perform the necessary sacrifices. often Sudras. Royal power and transcendence The w o rld ly p ow er o f the king. because it controls the means o f subsistence. but is rooted in the socio-ritual structure o f caste hierarchy w hich itself is regarded as sacred. The jajm anl system W hile the king o f kings ruled over a num ber o f kingdom s. The caste in a village or region w hich ow ns the land is the caste w ith political p ow er and control over other castes. These controlling castes are u sually not Brahm ans. T h e ja jm a n is a local. There is a rift between the king’s order o f conflict and the B rahm an’s and renouncer’s order o f transcendence. those kings in turn ruled over a num ber o f regions con ­ trolled b y a dom inant caste or coalition o f castes. A ccording to Heesterm an. barbers. carpenters. Heesterm an contrasts the Brahm an. The jajm anl system is not a pu rely econom ic arrangement. receiving the services o f others. w h o is necessarily em broiled in the w o rld ly concerns o f p o w er and v io ­ lence.57 A t the level o f the kingdom . The term is derived from the vedic yajam ana. but necessarily fails because o f his involvem ent and entanglement in the w o rld o f politics. a K satriya. an ideal established in ritual. themselves ruled b y kings. the ‘sacrificer’ or ritual patron for w hom sacrifices w ere perform ed b y the Brahm ans. desire and inter­ ests.

Th ere is thus an insoluble problem here and a gap between the pow er o f the king operating in the ‘ turbulent order o f conflict’ and the authority or status o f the Brahm an. D irks argues that caste is em bedded in kingship and that the dom inant ide­ o lo gy has not been one o f p u rity but one o f royal authority and social rela­ tions based on pow er and dom inance. that there was no such distinction between the pure Brahm an and the pow erful. The king in return gave the Brahm ans land. lacking the Brahm an’s pu rity and authority. however. yet in becom ing entangled in the w orld. against Heesterm an. U ntil recently. This is w hat Heesterm an calls the ‘inner conflict o f tradition’ . tem poral interests. a process w h ich led to the ascendancy o f the Brahm ans. in contrast to the need to accom ­ m odate to w orldly. timeless principle. there was not the rift between w o rld ly life and transcendence w hich H eesterm an suggests. land and other valuables to the Brahm ans. king. is based on p o w er related to kingship and the H indu state. The Brahm an perceived a continuity between his inner life and its outer expression. particularly b y R on ald Inden and N icholas D irks. W ith the general demise o f the H indu state. The Brahm an faces both w ays. tem poral dh arm a. w here the Brahm ans perform ed rituals fo r the king and became emblems o f the kin g’s sovereignty. on the other. the need to assert dharm a as the eternal. and. kings still ruled the small state o f P udokkottai in the middle o f Tam ilnadu. turns tow ards transcendence.59 The Brahm an. w hile the king. C aste. operating in the ‘ static order o f transcendence’ . This m odel has been criticized from the perspective o f h istory and anthropology. w hile yet being in the w orld . w hile the king is em broiled in the realm o f w orld ly. and particularly the role o f the Brahm ans. according to H eesterm an. T h eir importance was alw ays. the Brahman moves aw ay from that transcendence. Inden argues. 73 . a contrast w hich poses an insoluble dilemma. timeless principle. remains w ithin the w o rld o f strife and violence. it refers to w o rld ly or human transactions. O n the one hand it refers to an eternal.I )h a rm a their sacred level. and. The king w o u ld donate wealth. but im pure. caste became separated from kingship and survived it. towards transcendence through ritual.60 Rather there was an intimate relationship betw een king and Brahm ans w h o lived b y the k in g’s patronage. This contrast is related to a contrast betw een tw o senses o f dharm a. w hile they w ere clearly distinct from the king. N icholas D irks has argued against D um ont that caste cannot be under­ stood outside o f the ideas o f kingship and the structure o f the H indu state.

An introduction to ! Un du ism
argues D irk s, mediated through the king, 'w h ose kingship was in turn made all the m ore p ow erful because o f the presence o f the Brahm ans’.61 Pudokkottai provides an example in which the pow er ot the Brahmans is directly related to the p ow er o f the king and in which the Brah m an s p u rity is subordinated to his dependence on the k in g s patronage.

Sum m ary
D h arm a is the central id eolo gy o f orthoprax H induism , believed to be eternal and deriving from the revelation o f the Veda and from the sec­ on dary revelation o f the D harm a literature. It is particularly concerned w ith caste hierarchy expressed in the varnâsram a system and w ith the nature and behaviour o f the H indu king. The king expresses dharm a through just rule and so ensures the p rosperity o f the kingdom . The rela­ tion o f the Brahm an to the king is am biguous. O n the one hand the Brahm an is the highest being on the status hierarchy o f p u rity and p o llu ­ tion, yet the Brahm an is dependent upon the p o w er o f the king fo r patronage. H eesterm an has described the tension between the w o rld transcending tendencies o f the Brahm an and his w o rld ly concerns as the inner conflict o f tradition. Studies b y Inden and D irk s, in contrast, have argued fo r the closer p roxim ity o f the Brahm an to the king and D irks has argued that the status o f the Brahm an cannot be separated from the po w er o f the king; the religious realm o f the Brahm an cannot be understood out­ side the political realm o f the king. W hether there is an opposition between the Brahm an and the king, or w hether the tw o figures are closer than has been thought, is a matter o f continuing debate. H ow ever, one contrast w hich is made b y the H indu tradition is that betw een the renouncer and the householder. H induism contains a sociopolitical id eology o f a chain o f being w hich endorses the social hierarchy, caste, and gender roles, alongside an id eo lo gy o f renunci­ ation w hich negates those roles at doctrinal and practical levels. In order to com e to a fuller understanding o f orthoprax H induism and the contrasts w ithin it, w e need to turn our attention to renunciation, the institution fo r leaving the sociopolitical w orld o f suffering.


4 Yoga and renunciation

B y the sixth century

bc e

the brahmanical schools are w ell established and

the ritual traditions passed through the generations from teacher to stu­ dent. P rob ab ly the h eyday o f vedic ritual perform ance was between iooo and 500
b c e


though the traditions are never com pletely attenuated and

have survived into the present. A longside the perform ances o f ritual, spec­ ulation about its nature and purpose developed, initially in the Brähm anas and later in the Ä ra n y akas and U panisads. In speculating about the ritual patron and the renew ing effects o f the ritual upon him, the Brahm anas begin to represent the ritual as the sustainer o f life and posit elaborate co r­ respondences (b a n d h u ) between ritual and the w ider cosm os. These spec­ ulations are developed in the Ä ranyakas and U panisads w hich com pletely re-evaluate the nature o f ritual, seeing its internalization w ithin the indi­ vidual as its highest meaning, and subordinating ritual action to k n o w l­ edge. This spiritual know ledge could be attained b y asceticism or w orld-renunciation and disciplines w hich came to be kn ow n as yoga. The U panisads attest to the existence o f ascetic traditions and, b y the sixth or fifth century b c e , traditions o f asceticism and w orld-renunciation fo r the purpose o f spiritual know ledge and liberation had developed both w ithin the bounds o f vedic tradition and outside those boundaries, m ost notably in the Ja in and Buddhist traditions.

General observations
Tw o ideas o f great significance developed between the ninth and sixth cen­ turies b c e , nam ely that beings are reincarnated into the w o rld (samsdra)


An introduction to Hinduism
over and over again and that the results of action (karma) are reaped in future lives. This process o f endless rebirth is one o f suffering (duhkha ), escape from w hich can be achieved through the m inim izing o f action and through spiritual know ledge. Patanjali (second century b c e ) , a system atizer o f yo ga practice and philosophy, states that all is suffering to the spiritually discrim inating person (vivek in )} This doctrine that all life is suffering is com m on to renouncer traditions and is the first noble truth o f the Buddha. To be free o f suffering one needs to be free from action and its effects. The renunciation o f action at first meant ritual action, but comes to refer to all action in the social w orld. This renunciation o f action could be achieved through asceticism (tapas) and meditation, w hich means tech­ niques o f altering consciousness or w ithdraw ing consciousness from the w o rld o f the senses in order to experience total w o rld transcendence. The groups o f ascetics w hich grew up during this period are kn ow n as, am ong other names, sramanas (Pali samana ), ‘ strivers’ , w h o seek libera­ tion through the efforts o f their austerity. T h ey are hom eless, depend fo r food on alms (bhiksd), and m inim ize, in varyin g degrees, their ow nership o f possessions. Buddhism , the first w o rld religion, originated in these groups, as did Jainism . B oth Buddhism and Jain ism reject the Veda as rev­ elation and em phasize the practice o f austerity, in the case o f Jainism , and m editation, in the case o f Buddhism . Indeed these early renouncer tradi­ tions cannot be understood in isolation from each other as there is mutual cross-fertilization o f term inologies and ideas: Buddhism influences the brahm anical renouncer religion and brahm anical religion influences B uddhism .2 The higher states o f consciousness or meditative absorptions spoken o f in the Buddhist scriptures, the jhànas (Pali) or dhyânas (Sanskrit), w hich are certainly pre-Buddhist, are rem iniscent o f the later H indu stages o f yogic concentration o f samâdhi. These renouncer traditions offered a new vision o f the human con di­ tion w hich became incorporated, to some degree, into the w o rld view o f the Brahm an householder. The ideology o f asceticism and renunciation seems, at first, discontinuous w ith the brahm anical id eo lo gy o f the affir­ m ation o f social obligations and the perform ance o f public and dom estic rituals. Indeed, there has been some debate as to w hether asceticism and its ideas o f retributive action, reincarnation and spiritual liberation, might not have originated outside the orthodox vedic sphere, or even outside A ry a n culture: that a divergent historical origin m ight account fo r the apparent contradiction w ithin ‘ H in du ism ’ between the w o rld affirm ation


Yoga and renunciation
o f the householder and the world negation o! the renouncer. H ow ever, this dichotom ization is too sim plistic, fo r continuities can undoubtedly be found between renunciation and vedic Brahm anism , while elements from non-brahm anical, £ramana traditions also played an im portant part in the form ation o f the renuncíate ideal. Indeed there are continuities between vedic Brahm anism and Buddhism , and it has been argued that the Buddha sought to return to the ideals o f a vedic society w hich he saw as being eroded in his ow n day.3 G eneral ideological features o f w o rld renunciation com m on to d iffer­ ent renouncer traditions can be sum m arized as follow s: - action leads to rebirth and suffering. - detachment from action, or even non-action, leads to spiritual emancipation. - complete detachment, and therefore spiritual emancipation can be achieved through asceticism and methods of making consciousness focused and concentrated.

Ascetics in the Veda
In the R g Veda Sarnhita the im portant religious figures are the priests w h o officiate at the ritual and the inspired seers (rsi) w h o receive the Veda. There are, however, some references in the vedic corpus to figures w h o do not have a ritual function and seem to be outside the brahmanical, vedic com m unity. Tw o groups are o f particular note, the Kesins and the V rátyas.


O ne fam ous hym n in the R g Veda Sam hita describes long-haired ascetics ( [kesin) or silent ones (m uni), w h o strongly resem ble later H indu ascetics. The text describes them as either naked (‘ swathed in w in d 5) or clothed in red tatters. T h ey have ecstatic experiences, being ‘possessed b y the god s’, and they fly outside the body, perhaps suggestive o f w hat have becom e kn ow n as ‘o u t-o f-th e-b o d y experiences’ . The text also indicates that they possess the ability to read minds, a pow er attributed to accom plished yogins in later yo ga traditions. Such experiences are seem ingly induced b y an unidentified ‘d ru g’ (visa) w hich the ascetic drinks w ith the god Rudra, and w hich is pre­ pared b y a (possibly hunch-backed) goddess Kunam nam á.4 W hether the hym n describes a drug-induced vision ary experience depends upon the interpretation o f the term visa, w hich is usually taken to


An introduction to Hinduism
mean ‘poison*. Som e scholars have argued that visit here refers to a hallu­ cinogenic drug, though distinct from som a^ while others have argued that to see the hym n in terms o f a chem ically induced ecstasy is to disregard the sym bolic nature o f the vedic texts, and that drinking poison is akin to the m yth o f S iv a s drinking the poison churned up from the w orld ocean. O n this view the K esin attained his m ystical state through a yoga practice, and the poison he drinks refers to his ability to remain in the poisonous m ater­ ial w orld , w hile being unaffected b y it.6 It is, o f course, possible to view the hym n as describing a hallucinogen-induced ecstasy and being sym bolic at the same time. The description o f the K esin is rem iniscent o f later ascetics w h o undergo extraordinary inner experiences. Regardless o f the cause or facil­ itator, w hether through a drug or through ascetic practices, this hym n provides us w ith one o f the earliest recorded descriptions o f an ecstatic religious experience. O ther features o f the hym n, such as the K esin ’s asso­ ciation w ith R udra, are significant in establishing a connection w ith later yo gic traditions. R udra, w h o later becomes Siva, the archetypal ascetic, him self associated w ith the hallucinogenic plant datura, is a terrible deity w ith long, braided hair, on the edges o f vedic society, w h o is entreated not to harm the com m unities b y taking aw ay their cattle and children.7 R u d ra is peripheral to the vedic pantheon, there are o n ly three hym ns to him in the R g Veda, and the K esin ’s association w ith him suggests that he too w ou ld have been on the edges o f the vedic com m unity. T he goddess Kunam nam a is on ly m entioned in the Veda in this hym n, again suggestive o f the K esin ’s location outside o f the vedic com m unity. W hile it might not be legitimate to argue that the K esin represents a n o n -A ryan tradition - after all the com poser o f the hym n is sym pathetic to the K esin - it w ou ld be reasonable to assume that the K esin represents a strand o f asceticism existing outside mainstream, vedic ritual culture and was p ro b ab ly an influence on later renouncer traditions; indeed the Buddha him self, like the Kesin, is described as a m uni. H ow ever, it w o u ld be a gross oversim plification to suggest that the renouncer tradition sim ­ p ly developed from this M uni culture. The developm ent o f renunciation in the U panisads is intim ately connected to the vedic ritual tradition, yet one must also recognize the force o f the argument that the U panisads co n ­ tain a discontinuity o f ideas w ith the vedic ritual tradition; a discontinuity w hich indicates non-vedic influences, such as are represented b y the ‘ K esin H y m n ’ .


Yoga and renunciation


A part from the Kesins, B ook 1 5 of the Atharva Veda Samhita attests to the existence o f a com m unity o f aggressive w arriors m oving about in bands, the Vratyas, w h o lived on the edges o f A ry an society and m ay have been connected w ith the Kesins. These V ratyas com prised itinerant groups, concentrated in the north-east o f India, w h o spoke the same lan­ guage as the vedic A ryan s, but w h o w ere regarded w ith disdain b y them. Indeed, there is a special purification ritual, the vratyastoma , in w hich they could be assimilated into vedic society and assume the A ry a n status w hich they forfeited b y not undertaking the brahm anical rites o f passage. W hile evidence is lacking to say precisely w h o the Vratyas w ere, they cer­ tainly seem to have been on the bound ary o f groups w h o w ere acceptable to the vedic A ryan s, though H eesterm an has suggested that the vedic, sacrificial initiate (diksita ) derives from the V ratya.8 The A tharva Veda describes them as w earing turbans, dressed in black, w ith tw o ram skins over their shoulders.9 The V ratyas practised their ow n cerem onies. The precise nature and structure o f these rites is unclear, but they w ere p rob ab ly concerned w ith fertility and the magical renewal o f life w ith the seasons. D urin g the sum ­ mer solstice ‘ great v o w ’ (mahavrata ) ritual, the priest (hotr) muttered chants w hich included reference to the three breaths animating the body. These breaths are inhalation, the breath w hich is retained, and exhalation, and suggest an early kind o f breath control w h ich becomes developed as

prandyama in later yogic traditions. This rite is accom panied b y obscene
dialogues and also involves ritual sexual intercourse between a ‘ bard’, w h o m ay have otherw ise remained celibate, and a ‘prostitute’ ; a rite w hich has echoes in later tantric ritual (see pp. 18 9 -9 1). The V ratyas demonstrate a close connection, found in later traditions, between asceticism and martialism. W arrior brotherhoods, skilled in physical techniques and the technologies o f war, became associated w ith ascetic, renunciatory practices: the outer war, as it w ere, becom es an inner w ar to subdue the b o d y and the passions. This connection between ascetic and martial fraternities is further borne out in that ascetic ideologies and practices emerged w ithin the ruling o f w arrio r classes o f Indian society. The Buddha, fo r example, came from a m artial background and the secret teachings o f the U panisads are associated w ith rulers. W hile renunciation and asceticism are prefigured in vedic religion, a


An introduction to Hinduism
developed id eolo gy o f renunciation comes with a change in social and eco­ nom ic conditions in India from the sixth century


These changes

allow ed fo r the developm ent o f ideas from outside the strictly brahmanical, ritual fram e o f reference. To these conditions we now turn.

Individualism and urbanization
Vedic ritualism developed in an agrarian society: the A ryan s w ere pastoralists and later agriculturalists living in rural com m unities. B y the fifth century
b c e


how ever, an urban culture is developing along the Ganges

plain and m ajor kingdom s have arisen associated w ith the grow th o f urban centres. O f particular note are the kingdom s o f M agadha and K osala, w ith the tribal ‘republics’ o f the Vrijis and the Sakyas to the north. Some o f these tow ns, such as Pataliputra (Patna), the capital o f the M agadha em pire, w ere w ell-fortified centres w hich rapidly expanded w ith an increase in population, a food surplus, and the developm ent o f trade. W ith the developm ent o f kingdom s, trade routes w ere secured and roads con ­ structed. Such im proved com m unication in turn meant that new ideas could be more easily disseminated, particularly b y w andering ascetics. It is in the context o f this urbanization that renouncer traditions developed. Richard G om b rich has outlined this process, show ing h ow the rise o f tow ns under royal protection allowed fo r trade, fo r the m ovem ent o f p eo ­ ple, and fo r greater personal freedom and m obility. A lo n g with this devel­ opm ent came a bureaucracy and institutions o f control w hich eroded the traditional, rural social order.10 N o t on ly do w e need to take these material and political concerns into consideration, but ideological concerns as w ell. Paul W heatley has con ­ vincingly argued that the earliest towns and cities are not o n ly com m ercial centres, but prim arily ritual com plexes, and that the size and com plexity o f the c ity ’s walls might be seen not on ly in terms o f defence, but also in terms o f status and prestige w hich reflect the k in g’s glo ry.1 1 Such a picture clearly fits into the H indu theology o f sacral kingship. The early cities o f the Ganges valley are centres o f early polities w hich reflect or sym bolize the ritual status o f the king. The urban centre as sym bol o f the k in g’s p ow er is a phenom enon w hich occurs in the later h istory o f south A sia, fo r example at Vijayanagara, and attests to a continuity o f the id eology o f kingship from ancient times to the m edieval period. W ith urbanization a traditional agrarian lifestyle was eroded and emphasis placed on trade initiatives and enterprise; values w hich highlight 80

ritualized behaviour patterns. as G om brich show s. the m ajority o f his com m unity o f m onks and nuns seem to have been draw n from the towns rather than the country. w here em erging com m ercial classes w ere interested in new ideas. nirvana) from suffering is a form o f spiritual 81 . Indeed. celibacy. as the trader. The m ove from an agrarian to an urban situation provided a context in which individualism could develop in some segment o f the com m unity. became the im portant agent in the socioeconom ic functioning o f tow ns.12 This is not to say that at this time there w as an articulate id eology o f individualism w hich stressed autonom y and per­ sonal rights . Jain ism and Buddhism . was not present in the ancient w orld . With the weakening o f tradi­ tional. The form o f individualism that developed in the Protestant West. grew up in urban contexts.there was not . The Buddha visited num erous tow ns. the skilled w orker. and the governm ent official.or that the urban individual was not subject to law and a hierarchical social structure. law and bureaucracy. they generally agree that life is characterized b y suffering (duhkha) and adhere to a teaching in w hich liberation (m oksa. the individual rather than the group. did develop in urban cen­ tres. mentioned in the B uddhist scriptures.13 The earliest ascetic traditions w hich are w ell docum ented. some o f w hom w ere w ealth y tow n-dw ellers. M oreover. the shopkeeper.14 The sram ana traditions F ro m about 800 to 400 bc e Sanskrit and Prakrit texts bear witness to the emergence o f the new id eology o f renunciation. the separation or distinction o f persons is necessary fo r them to be objects o f social control b y an abstract social structure. but m erely that socioeconom ic functioning w as placed m ore in the hands o f innovators than w o u ld have been possible in a rural context. The purpose o f such training is the cultivation o f altered or higher states o f consciousness w hich w ill culminate in the blissful m ystical experience o f final liberation from the bonds o f action and rebirth.Yoga and renunciation the individual above the w ider social group. w ith its emphasis on autonom y and responsibility. in w hich know ledge (jn a n a ) is given precedence over action (ka rm a ). and detachment from the material and social w orld is cultivated through ascetic practices (tapas). p o verty and methods o f mental training (yoga). W hile the renouncer o f sramana tra­ ditions differ on points o f doctrine and m ethod. but a form o f individuality w hich em phasized or particularized the distinct self. and was supported b y the urban laity.

17 Yet. w hile the A jlvik as rejected free w ill. A t an early period. is not som eone born to a particular mother. all sramana groups shared a com m on value system and fram ew ork o f discourse.15 In these new ascetic ideologies. and a life dedicated to finding understanding and spiritual know ledge.18 Yet w hile Brahm anism rejects the authority and teachings o f the sramana schools. teachings akin to those o f the Sram anas. w hile there are divergencies w ithin Sram anism. W hile there are elements o f doctrine and practice shared b y the sramana m ovem ents.sramana . the fourth layer o f the Veda. and liberation. and in later literature. w e must envisage a com m on heritage o f m editation and mental discipline practised b y renouncers w ith varyin g affiliations to n on -orthod ox (Veda-rejecting) and orth odox (Veda-accepting) traditions. The institution o f w orld-renunciation or ‘ going fo rth ’ offers the renouncer (. The spread o f disease among the new urban population m ay well have contributed to the grow th o f ascetic m ovem ents and added poignancy to the doctrine o f life as sufferin g. rejected the idea them. and all rejected the Veda as revelation and so rad­ ically turned against orthodox. the Jain s em phasized extreme m ortification in order to becom e detached from action. The materialists (< o f reincarnation and spiritual insight. These schools are understandably regarded as heterodox (nastika ) b y orth odox (dstika) Brahm anism . 82 . cdrvdka ). during the form a­ tion o f the U panisads and the rise o f B uddhism and Jainism . The true Brahm an. concerning rebirth. fo r example. com e to dw ell in the heart o f the brahmanical tradition and find expression in the U panisads. but on ly b y liberating insight or understanding the nature o f existence.16 Personal experience in this w a y is placed above the received know ledge o f the vedic revelation. spiritual salvation cannot be attained sim ply due to a high-caste birth. bhiksu . there are nevertheless w ide differences between lokayata . brahmanical teaching or reinterpreted those teachings. W hile the Buddhists em phasized a m iddle w a y between extremes o f aus­ terity and indulgence. as w ell as from w o rld ly responsibilities. a know ledge w hich is expressed and conceptualized in various w ays according to different sy s­ tems. according to the Buddha.An introduction to Hinduism know ledge or gnosis (Jnanayvidyu). but a person w hose conduct is pure and m oral. parivrajaka) an escape route from w o rld ly suffering. T h eir mutual hostility has been pointed out b y R om ila Thapar w h o notes that the gramm arian Patanjali refers to their attitude towards each other as being like that between a snake and a m ongoose. retributive action.

T H E I N T E R N A L I Z A T I O N OF T H E R I T U A L The U panisads continue the w o rk o f the Brahm anas and A ran yakas in interpreting the meaning o f the srauta ritual.21 A gain. defining themselves against what they regard as an em pty vedic ritualism which does not lead to liberation. the text makes the distinction between know ledge and ign o ­ rance: Saying aum one recites: saying aum . nisad = ‘ to sit d o w n ’ ) and the term upanisad takes on the general sense o f ‘ esoteric teaching’ . The earlier U panisads continue the magical speculations o f the Brahm anas.19 The emphasis on a m ore p er­ sonal religious experience is indicated not on ly in internalized m editation but also in the idea o f a direct transm ission o f teachings from teacher to disciple. begin b y identifying the horse sacrifice (asvamedha) w ith the natural w orld . The opening verses o f the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad . the verses o f the Sama Veda chanted b y the udgatr priest during the srauta ritual. w hich maintained that know ledge o f the correspondences betw een ritual and cosm os is a kind o f power. fo r example.define themselves centrally w ithin the vedic tradition as a reinterpreta­ tion o f the ritual process and an elucidation o f its inner meanings. the sections on know ledge (jnanakanda ) take prece­ dence over sections on ritual (karmakanda). B y contrast the Upanisads .the Vedanta or ‘ end o f the V eda’ . though practices found in the U panisads seem to be directly akin to Jain and Buddhist meditation m ethods. though com bined w ith the idea that know ledge gives rise to p o w er or energy. H avin g identified the udgitha . the h orse’s head is the daw n. the Chandogya Upanisad illustrates this kind o f speculation. its eye the sun. w ith the sacred syllable aum . with its greatness and its essence. ascetic tradi­ tions. one orders: saying aum . Indeed the U panisads indicate no explicit awareness o f non-vedic. W ith these texts w e see the increasing im portance o f know ledge o f esoteric correspondences as com ­ pared to ritual action. one sings aloud in honour of that syllable. 83 .20 The w ord upanisad is perhaps derived from the student or dis­ ciple sitting at the feet o f a teacher to receive his teachings (upa = ‘near to ’. its breath the w ind and so on.Yoga and renunciation Renunciation in the Upanisads The sramana traditions developed a clear identity.

the king o f Videha. indeed. the mind.24 Brahman is a neuter noun and it should not be confused w ith the masculine noun Brahm a. w hich illustrates the early U p an isads’ questing spirit fo r the essence o f the universe. the term brahman means the p o w er o f the ritual.22 The text then goes on in the next group o f verses to internalize the ritual: the sound aum is to be contemplated as being identified w ith various parts o f the b ody: w ith the breath. a sacrifice to the self w ithin the self. and the self.An introduction to Hinduism He who knows this thus. and the heart (hrdaya). and he who knows not. is termed brahman and is identified w ith the sacred sound aum or om (called th tpranava). both perform with it. Th e internalization o f the ritual means that the real purpose o f the rite is not its external perform ance. though the term is related to these other meanings. the eye. but is 84 . indeed. but know ledge o f its deeper meaning. What. but also to the essence o f the universe. BRAHMAN In the Brahm anas.25 This brahman is not on ly the essence o f the ritual and o f the w o rld . vital breath (prana ). supporting the ritual and even the cosm os itself. Y ajn avalk ya replies that these answers are half-true and that brahman is in fact the deeper support o f all these phenom ena. This being or essence o f the ritual. one performs with knowledge. the cosm os. becomes more powerful. eye. and Janaka. faith and meditation. the very being at the heart o f all appear­ ances. W hereas the Brahm anas are concerned w ith establishing the hidden connections betw een the srauta ritual and the cosm os. In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad there is a dialogue between one o f the earliest H indu theologians. In time. the true sacrifice becom es the fire oblation on the breath (pranagnihotra ). Knowledge and ignorance. a m eaning w hich points to an underlying foundation or being. are different. speech. ear and mind. however. nor Brahm an (brahmana ) the highest caste. K in g Janaka tells Y ajn avalk ya the teachings o f other sages he has heard concerning brahman . the creator god. The emphasis moves from external perform ance to internal m editation. Y ajnavalkya.23 the Upanisads are concerned w ith contem ­ plating the deeper significance o f these correspondences. apart from w hich there is nothing m ore ancient or brighter. a process o f abstraction occurred w h ereb y brah­ man became a principle referring not o n ly to the p o w er o f the ritual. that it is speech (vac). connections w hich appear to be fairly arbitrary. that. nor w ith Brahm ana. the group o f texts.

so brahman is the essence o f all things. The truth (satya) is the absolute (brahman) which is also the self (atman). Svetaketu. realized w ithin the self. Sim ilarly. w hen departing. and that the experiences o f the 85 . he splits a fruit and then the fru it’s seed to show h ow brahman cannot be seen.27 The Upanisads represent the culm ination o f a process w hich com es to regard the individual self as having great inner depths.Yoga and renunciation also the essence of the self (atman). particularly in the later Vedanta tradition and in m odern N eo -H in d u ism (see ch. That is truth. know ledge o f w hich is the purpose o f the ritual’s internalization. beings here are born from bliss. In an early example o f theological em piricism . but in the realization o f its sym bolism and its esoteric meaning revealed b y the U panisads.The true m ean­ ing o f the ritual is not to be found in outer action.’ This im personalist m onism is central to the earlier Upanisads and becomes a theology o f great im portance. KARM A AND RE IN CARN ATION Such spiritual fulfilm ent and the blissful experience o f realizing one’s essence to be brahman is the cessation o f action and its consequences. the totality is that self. The emphasis in the Upanisads is on the internalization o f ritual and the texts are even critical o f their external perform ance. but a direct and immediate intuition experienced as jo y or bliss. The idea that every action has an effect w hich must be accounted fo r in this or future lifetim es. they enter’ .26 This essence is the self. the smallest particle o f the cosm os.28 T his is no ordinary bliss. This know ledge is not sim ply inform ation to be under­ stood. as salt placed in w ater b y Svetaketu com pletely dissolves and cannot be seen. U ddalaka A runi. and. This is the single reality underlying the diversity o f appearances. F o r truly. who along with Y ajfiavalkya can be regarded as one o f the earliest H indu theologians. nam ely rebirth. w hich cannot be seen but can be experienced. The essence o f the self is the absolute. in dialogue with his son £vetaketu. they live b y bliss and into bliss. though it can be tasted. the truth ol a person beyond apparent differences. far beyond any o rd i­ nary hum an joy. through the know ledge o f the ritual’s inner meaning and the w ithdraw al o f the senses from the sensory w orld. and the passage explicat­ ing this concludes w ith the fam ous lines: ‘that w hich is minute. w hen born. To quote the Taittiriya Upanisad : ‘H e kn ew that brahman is bliss (ananda). indeed. but is at the top o f the hierarchy o f blissful experiences. T hat yo u are. That is the self. illustrates how brahman is the essence. as con ­ taining the universe within. n ) .

fo r exam ple. A third alternative is that the origin o f transm igration th eory lies outside o f vedic or sramana traditions in the tribal religions o f the Ganges valley. R itual pro ce­ dures are meant to prevent this eventuality. These concepts w ere certainly circulating among the Sramanas. The origin o f the doctrines o f karma and samsara are obscure. Yet on the other hand.29 Rebirth into this w o rld could have devel­ oped from this partite view o f a person. Artabhaga questions Y ajn avalk ya about the fate o f a person after death.the eyes to the sun. This basic soteriological structure. clearly states that the subject.31 Later the text spells out the th eory m ore clearly . and the essen­ tial ‘person ’ to the ancestors. the breath (atman) to space. the mind to the m oon and so on? Y ajnavalkya leads him aw ay to a private place and. tells him about karma: that m eritorious action leads to merit (punya). w hile evil action leads to further evil (papa).30 In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad retributive action first appears to be a secret and little-know n doctrine. w hich is also to be freed from the store o f action (karma) built up over innum erable lifetimes. The Svetasvatara Upanisad (400-200 b c e ).32 B y the later Upanisads the doctrine is firm ly established. having died in this w orld . might die yet again in the next. mukti. apavarga) in m ost H indu traditions is freedom from the cycle o f reincar­ nation (samsara).An introduction to Hinduism present lifetim e are the consequences ol past actions. Salvation or liberation (moksa . is o f central im por­ tance fo r H indu soteriology.33 86 . there is the idea o f ‘redeath’ : that a person. w anders in the cycle o f transm igration according to his actions (ikarma ).that the self (atman) moves from b o d y to body. developed w ith variations b y most later traditions. the breath (atman) to the w ind. It is ve ry possible that karm a and reincarnation entered mainstream brahm anical thought from the sramana or renouncer tradi­ tions. We also have in the R g Veda the idea that different parts o f a person go to different places upon death: the eyes go to the sun. although there is no clear doctrine o f transm i­ gration in the vedic hym ns. and Jainism and B uddhism developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process o f transm igration. as a caterpillar or leech moves from one blade o f grass to another. E choing the R g Veda . the ‘perform er o f action w hich bears fru it’ . or even in D ravidian traditions o f south India. begins to be articulated in the Upanisads. w arning him not to divulge this doctrine. F ro m the notion o f redeath the idea o f a return to this w o rld could have developed. he asks w hat becom es o f the person after different parts have been dissipated .

householder id eology o f the srauta ritual. 7 2 -3 ). o f course. It may. their difference is one o f degree 87 . THE O RTHOGENETIC THEORY W hat has been called the ‘ orthogenetic th eo ry ’ o f renunciation maintains that there is a developm ent from the vedic. T he term ‘ orthogenetic’ is used b y H eesterm an to refer to this gradual. and perform s ascetic practices in preparation fo r the ritual itself. w hich presents a problem in understanding the origins o f renuncia­ tion. into the upanisadic ideal that the true ritual is its internalization or transcendence. but rather between the Brahm an and the king (see above pp. to the id eology o f renunciation. renunciation is not an idea com ing from outside the vedic com m unity. save one o f emphasis. O n the one hand. The gap or conflict in brahm anical society is not between the Brahm an householder and the renouncer. thereby em phasizing that ‘man depends on ly on his ow n (ritual) w o rk ’ . U ltim ately there is little d iffer­ ence between the ideal Brahm an and the ideal renouncer. becom ing ‘ one w ho is initiated’ (1 iksita ). perhaps from the p re -A rya n D ravidians.35 The idea o f the ritual as a private process develops. d The ritual sym b olically acts out the regeneration or renewal o f the patron and also sym bolizes the regeneration o f the cosm os. but is a developm ent w ithin vedic culture. has its origin in the vedic srauta rituals as presented in the Brahm anas and Srauta Sutras. R E N O U N C E R AND BRAH M AN F urtherm ore. H ere the ritual patron (yajam ana ) undergoes initiation (diksa ). there is a strong parallelism between the ideal code o f the Brahm an householder and the renouncer. the ideology o f renunciation can be seen as a natural developm ent from vedic ritual traditions. and renunciation develops as a consequence o f this internalization. internal developm ent w ithin vedic thought.34 In other w ord s. on the other. renunciation. developed in the U panisads and later codified in the D harm a Sastras. on H eesterm an’s account. it can be argued that renunciation comes from outside the vedic tradition. The patron is at the centre o f the ritual w hich he has instigated.Yoga and renunciation The origins of renunciation Both brahmanical and sramana asceticism share a number o f com m on fea­ tures. O n this account. be the case that both theories are accurate in some respects w hile lacking in others.

whereas the renouncer is in the last stage o f life (asram a). Com plem enting H eesterm an’s argument. as H eesterm an argues. there is a conflict between the tw o traditions. but rather a structural unity all the fragm ented m ovem ents w ithin H induism .V E D I C O R I G I N S OF R E N U N C I A T I O N U ndoubtedly.the difference between the tw o figures being that the Brahm an is fulfilling his househ olders obligations. and the full docum entation o f the renouncer traditions is later than texts describing the srauta rituals. w hich is n ow here found in H induism . though interrelated. but rather between the Brahm an ritualist and the renouncer. whereas the renouncer has internalized the sacrifice. there are ele­ ments in the renouncer tradition w hich are also present in the house­ hold er’s ritual tradition. as Biardeau and Heesterm an have show n. and act with detachm ent and equanim ity36 . This integration is not an institutionalized unity. L ik e the renouncer. stem m ing from the vedic revelation. including renunciation. but returns to it after the rite’s conclusion. the difference being that the householder is concerned w ith external sacrifice. the lir. sacrifice and renunciation. be truthful. w hich are tw o sides o f the same coin. Patrick O livelle has argued in a num ber o f publications that renuncia­ tion represents a new id eology w hich emerges w ithin the context o f vedic ritualism and uses the term inology o f that tradition. W hereas the renouncer has turned his back on society. Yet it might be the case that the renouncer traditions develop outside the vedic ritualist cir­ cles.ihman should restrain his senses. The continuity is further stressed in that both the ritual patron and the renouncer undergo p urifica­ to ry rites and so are structurally related to each other.An introduction to Hinduism rather than kind. the Brahm an has not. exempt from ritual o b lig­ ations. N O N . M ore than mere difference. parts are integrated into a com plete H indu culture. and gradually becom e incorporated and assim ilated b y the vedic tradition. or rather has on ly turned his back on the social w o rld during the srauta ritual. between the Brahm an ritualist and the king. The fault line .37 This structural un ity can be p er­ ceived in the tw o m ost im portant elements w ithin H in du culture. The ‘ conflict o f tradition’ is not therefore. F o r Biardeau the various traditions w ithin the H indu universe are united at a deeper level: the diverse. but w hose ethos and aims are quite distinct. M adeleine Biardeau and C harles M alam oud have also argued fo r the continuity o f vedic tradition. practise non-violence to all beings.

O livelle has developed the distinction betw een the renouncer ideal and the householder ideal. householder. is the true agent o f developm ent in Indian religion and the creator o f values w hich enter the brahmanical householder tradition from outside. and statements lauding the B rahm an as the ideal renouncer are often ‘mere rhetoric’ . show that renouncer values are incorporated into vedic ideology. particu­ larly that it takes aw ay agency from Indian social actors. on the other it m ay have developed from outside the vedic w o rld . D um ont argues that H induism can be seen in terms o f a dialogue between the ‘w o rld renouncer’ and the ‘ m an -in-th e-w orld’. U nlike the renouncer. Statements in the later D harm a litera­ ture w hich praise the Brahm an as the ideal renouncer. determines the Brahm an householder’s status. as an individual outside soci­ ety. separating the w orld of the Brahman house­ holder from the world o f the renouncer. from w hom the seminal ideas and influences on the house­ holder religion are derived. the renouncer is outside society and so has established an individuality.Yoga and rc nun dation runs in a different direction.38 A ccordin g to this view.40 To sum m arize this discussion so far: there are essentially tw o positions w ith regard to the origins o f renunciation in India: on the one hand it m ay have developed from vedic ritualism (the view o f Heesterm an and Biardeau). Because o f the social restrictions o f caste. unlike the renouncer w h o has stepped outside this net­ w o rk . The caste system . male. The renouncer is an individual devoted to his ow n salvation. nam ely the Brahm an. nam ely the caste system . based on the distinction between p u rity and im purity. the m an-in-the-w orld is defined b y his social existence. on whose ideas O livelle builds. The renouncer.39 the idea that renunciation introduces a ‘n ew ’ element into Indian religions and presents a challenge to vedic orthodox ritual tradition needs to be taken seriously. but exists pu rely in a n etw ork o f social relationships. This distinction between householder and renouncer has been a focus of Louis D u m o n ts w ork. W hile m any criticism s can be levelled against D u m o n t’s thesis. arguing that the ‘p rofound conflict’ between the tw o cannot be explained if Heesterm an is correct in thinking that renunciation is a developm ent o f vedic thought. though not necessarily outside the brahm anical w o rld (the view o f O livelle draw ing on the w o rk o f D um ont). 89 . the manin-the-w orld is not an individual. The form er position highlights the continuities between the vedic tradition and renouncer traditions. rather than reflect­ ing the close p roxim ity o f renouncer and Brahm an. and functions w ithin the restrictions and boundaries o f his social context.

O rthodox renunciation The early renouncers wandered alone. in w hich renunciation (samnydsa) is the final. arguing that the w orld-negating values o f renunciation are quite distinct from the w orld-affirm in g values o f the ritu­ alist householder. though there are some restrictions on people entering the early B uddhist m onastic order. in the B rhadâran yaka U panisad the sage Y âjn avalk ya decides to leave his tw o w ives. though b y the time o f the 90 . nevertheless. w ith the advent o f Buddhism . and retire to the forest. W hile there have been w om en renouncers. O rthoprax renunciation is open on ly to the tw ice-born. they obtain fo od b y begging and dress in an ochre robe or go naked. w hich accept people from a w ider social spectrum and o f all ages. joined a monastic com m unity. social obligations as householders or fo r those celibate students w ho have never becom e householders. Renouncers are homeless except fo r fou r months o f the year during the rainy season. N o m onastic institution develops in H induism until the medieval period. There are certainly lineages o f teachers going back m any generations.An introduction to 11indu ism between the individualism o f the ritualist and renounccr. It seems clear that the origins o f renunciation cannot be understood sim ply in terms o f either a vedic or a non-vedic tradition. the four­ fold system o f the âsramas or stages o f life develops. includ­ ing a ban on soldiers and slaves. It is significant that early Brahm anism does not contain institutions o f renunciation akin to those o f Buddhism or Jainism .41 W hile there is no m onasticism in early brahm anical tradition. m ost have been men. O rthoprax renunciation is o n ly fo r those w h o have fulfilled vedic obligations and w h o correctly perform rules laid dow n in the D harm a Sâstras. F o r example. Rather.42 The central emphasis o f brahmanical religion is on the householder and the perform ance o f the appropriate ritual. and is meant o n ly fo r those w ho have fu l­ filled their w orld ly. or. but these are not m onastic institutions. The latter position highlights the discontinuities. in the Upanisads w e do find the idea o f giving up w o rld ly life and retiring to the forest to perform religious observances. liberating institution. in small itinerant groups. there is a com plex process o f assim ilation from outside the vedic sphere as w ell as a transform ation o f elements w ithin the vedic tradition. and between the pu rificatory practices o f the ritualist and renounccr. This contrasts w ith the heteroprax renouncer traditions o f Buddhism and Jainism . his status as a householder. though.

practising austerity through the ‘ five fire sacrifice5. but. from a ritual to a non-ritual state. a sym b ol o f the B rah m an s status. Sometim es a renouncer w ill sym b olically perform his ow n funeral before the fire. and he has given up life in the hom e fo r the homeless life o f wandering. the renouncer has given up brahm anical rites. 500 B C E -500 c e ) renunciation (samnyasa) is in corpo­ rated into the brahmanical system as the last stage o f life (as'rama). state that a renouncer must not stay for m ore than one night in a village. at least sym bolically. the renouncer internalizes the fire o f the vedic solem n ritual and so abandons its external use. The rite o f renunciation is a ritual to end ritual and the shift. whatever the variations. from action to non-action. L ik e his heterodox counterpart. these exceptions 9i . w ater pot and begging bow l.43 though he can remain in the same place during the rain y sea­ son. the behaviour expected o f the renouncer. the N agas. the renouncer also gives up his old clothes. not occurring before the sec­ ond century b c e . These texts describe the act o f renunciation. and types o f renouncers. There are a num ber o f variations on the ritual o f renunciation. N evertheless. into the fire and takes on a w aistband. In giv­ ing up fire. H e offers his sacred thread. The rite o f renunciation w ill be the last time the renouncer kindles his sacred fire. w hile bearing a staff.Yoga and renunciation Dharma Sastras (c.45 There are exceptions to this and some renouncers do maintain fires. such as the Visnu Sm rti. social self. Some renouncers. Sym bolically breathing in the flames during his last rite. becomes naked and so resem bles his condition at birth. and does not occur in the literatures o f Buddhism and Jainism . he has given up cooking and must henceforw ard beg fo r food . the im portant point is that this is the last time the renouncer w ill kindle fire and thenceforth he w ill not be allow ed to attend further rituals. remain naked. The actual term samnyasa is purely brahmanical. particularly the Sam nyasa Upanisads. Later texts develop the idea o f renunciation. Sometimes the rite w ill involve the burning o f the ritual im plem ents. Renunciation means the abandoning o f the religion o f vedic ritual and the abandoning o f fire. loincloth and ochre robe.44 Taking the fire into him self. w hich consumes his old. com posed during the first few centuries o f the com ­ mon era. The L a w B oo k s. the orthodox renouncer seeks liberation from the cycle o f birth and death b y fostering detachm ent from w o rld ly concerns and desires through asceticism and yo ga practices. a sym bol o f his high-caste status w o rn over the shoulder. w hich involves m editating sur­ rounded b y five fires in the heat o f the day.

Such com m unities are associated w ith larger H indu traditions. bhdrati (‘learning’ ). 788-820 c e ) founded monastic centres in the fou r corners o f India. these renouncers develop their ow n spiritual practice (sadhana) fo r the purpose o f liberation w hile living (jivanm ukti ). nam ely giri (‘ m ountain’). and Sarasvatls at Sringeri. vana (‘ forest’). W earing ochre robes. nam ely at Sringeri in Kerala. b y the banks o f sacred rivers. asrama (‘herm itage’ ) and sarasvatl (‘ eloquence’ ). A n oth er im portant centre at Kanchi in Tamilnadu m ay have been founded b y Sankara or his disciple Suresvara. puri (‘ city ’ ). the renouncer into these orders is given a new name. the great Vedanta theologian Sankara (c. such as crem ation ground ascetics associated w ith the w orship o f Siva and the G oddess. ságara (‘ ocean’). but rather his body placed in a sacred river or buried upright in a special tom b or samadb. A t initiation. D w ark a in the far west. m any renouncers. have chosen to live a life alone on the edges o f society. O thers have joined co m ­ munities o f renouncers and live in ‘herm itages’ (asramas) or ‘ m onasteries’ (mathas). focused on the great H indu deities Siva and Visnu respectively. also kn ow n as ‘ good m en’ (sadhus) and ‘ good w om en ’ (sadhvis ). particularly the Saiva and Vaisnava traditions. generally the renouncer has abandoned lire and will not even be cre­ mated at death. and the A ran yas and Vanas at Puri. w ith shaven heads or long. or in w ild places such as m ountainous regions or crem ation grounds. the Tirthas and A sram as at D w arka. the teacher o f the u n i­ verse. Sankara founded the renunciate order o f the ‘ ten named ones’. are on the edges o f vedic orth od o xy and orth op raxy (see p. the D asanám is. A ccordin g to tradition. while others. These orders are associated w ith the different m onastic centres: the Bháratis. A lo n g w ith these m onastic centres. Puris. Later renuncíate orders W hen they are not w andering. or naked. parvata (‘m ountain’). often ending in A nanda. aranya (‘forest’).An introduction to Hinduism aside. Ságara and Parvata at Badrinath. covered w ith sacred ash. Badrinath in the H im alayas and Puri on the east coast. similar institutions on ly appear later in H induism . matted hair. tirtha (‘fo rd ’). and the name o f the order he or she is joining. W hile m onasticism developed in Buddhism from its inception. The hierarch o f the m onastery at Puri is regarded as the head o f the entire D asanám i order and is referred to as the jagadguru . the G iri. T he orders founded b y Sankara w ere partly instrum ental in eradicating 92 . 16 1). Some renuncíate orders are centrally placed w ithin the vedic tradition.

A lso o f im portance in giving a sense o f cohesion to vedic tradition is the re n o u n c e d pilgrim age o f circum am bu­ lating India b y visiting the ‘four corners’ o f Badrinath in the north. These w arrior-ascetic orders develop from the ninth to eighteenth cen­ turies as a response to M uslim invasions and organize themselves into six ‘ regim ents’ or akhdras (called A nanda.46 D uring the seventeenth century Vaisnava w arrio r sects arise. to still the mind. or to hold aloft an arm until the muscles becom e atrophied. theistic traditions maintain that liber­ ation occurs through the grace o f a benign deity to w hom one is devoted. w h o. The Dasanam is are among the m ost orth od ox and learned o f H indu renouncers. finally. such as vow in g not to lie dow n or sit for twelve years but on ly rest leaning on a fram e. philosophically adhere to a m onistic m etaphysics (see pp. karma. These armed ascetics. since the seventh century c e have been w arrio r-A scetics. C lad in ochre robes they can be contrasted w ith the naked renouncers. H avin g abandoned the w orld . Yoga A lon gside concepts o f w orld renunciation. the renouncer can practise asceticism or the developm ent o f ‘ inner heat’ (< tapas) in order to attain liberation. protectors o f the D asanam i tradition. Ju n a. the bairagls. Indeed. There are a num ber o f responses to the question o f h ow liberation can be attained in H indu traditions. vedic traditions.the methods or technologies w hich can lead out o f the w o rld o f suffering. w h o. particularly in Kerala. H ow ever. 2 4 1-2 ) and their tutelary diety is Siva. like the Dasanam is.Yoga and renunciation Jainism and Buddhism from south India and also in giving coherence and a sense o f pan-Indian identity to orth od ox. transm igration. renouncers have provided an im portant sense o f coherence within H induism . A vahan. and liberation are ideas about the w ays or paths to liberation . unlike the N agas. and. the lord o f ascetics and yogins. the N agas. an ascetic is particularly encouraged to practise yo ga in order to achieve a state o f n on­ action: to still the body. and D w ark a in the west. A tal and N irvan i). non-theistic traditions maintain that liberation occurs through the sustained effort o f detaching the self from the sensory w o rld . as they w ander around the villages teaching and conveying religious ideas to ordinary people. A sceticism might take the form o f a severe penance. Puri in the east. on the other. Ram eshw aram in the south. still the breath. do not go naked. N iranjani. There are also tradi­ tions o f fighting ascetics w ho have developed elaborate fighting system s. O n the one hand.

m ust be understood historically in the context o f tradi­ tions o f renunciation. as w e have seen. The earliest vedic texts. mental constraints or impurities such as greed and hate. nam ely the M unis or Kesins and the Vratyas. In the U panisads one o f the earliest references to meditation is in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad . to ascetics. Yoga is the means w h ereb y the m ind and senses can be restrained. ‘ to y o k e ’ or ‘to unite’. derived from the Sanskrit root yuj. the limited. or range of disciplines. yoga becom es detached from the institution o f renunciation and becom es adapted to the householder’s life. refers to these technologies or disciplines o f asceticism and m editation w hich are thought to lead to spiritual experience and p ro ­ found understanding or insight into the nature o f existence. bear witness to the existence o f ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references. Th e term yoga .An introduction to Hinduism through asceticism and meditation. indeed. been exported beyond the boundaries o f H induism to the contem porary West. contains the fo llo w in g im portant features: . em piri­ cal self or ego (ahamkara) can be transcended and the self’s true identity eventually experienced.the transformation of consciousness eradicates limiting. and the litera­ ture o f yoga traditions on this subject is extensive. which leads to a state o f gnosis (jnana ). W hile the developm ent o f yoga. . form an ideological and social com plex developing in the new urban centres o f ancient is a discipline. In the sramana traditions and in the U panisads technologies fo r controlling the self and experiencing higher states o f consciousness in meditation are developed. constructed to facilitate the transformation of consciousness. Yoga in H indu traditions The h istory o f yoga is long and ancient. as w e have seen. The concept o f yo ga as a spiritual discipline not confined to any partic­ ular sectarian affiliation or social form . It is this aspect o f H induism w hich is not neces­ sarily confined to any particular H indu w o rld view and has. 94 . w hich.consciousness can be transformed through focusing attention on a single point. the Brahm anas. . and the idea o f spiritual salvation (moksa ) to w hich it leads. Both responses can be com bined when devotion is seen as a form o f know ledge and grace as a com plem ent to effort. ‘ to con trol’.

Yoga and renunciation the earliest Upanisad. m editation (dhyana ). and the pure self unaffected b y action. A s a chario­ teer controls the horses o f the chariot. m ore im portantly. is kept w aiting w hile the god o f death. which. ‘ all life is short’ . w ith ­ draw al o f the senses (pratyahara ). along with the cessation o f mental activity. N aciketas replies. saying that the w ise man realizes G o d through the practice o f self-contem plation. having becom e calm and concen­ trated. Yam a. which states that. one perceives the self (atman) w ithin oneself. fo r the second he asks about the sacrificial fire w hich leads to heaven. the b o d y the chariot itself. This text describes a retired king. w h o tells the old king about the difference between the phenom enal self subject to karma.48 Y o ga ’s appearance in the Katha Upanisad is in the context o f the story o f N aciketas and Death. H e is then visited b y an enlightened ascetic. then teaches the king a six-faceted yoga involving breath-control (prandyama ).51 95 . The text goes on to liken a person to a chariot: the self (atman) is the controller o f the char­ iot. ‘a b o d y made in the fire o f y o g a ’ w hich ensures that the w ise man is healthy. freed from sorrow . Brhadratha. Yam a eventually responds to the question. U p o n his return Yam a grants N aciketas three boons in recom pense for so rudely keeping him waiting. death takes it in the end. N aciketas’ first request is to be returned to his father. his purpose com ­ pleted. and fo r the third he asks h ow to conquer re-death {pun- armrtyu). Sakayanya. a classification w hich predates the sim ilar system o f Patanjali’s classical yo ga (see below ). repress the breathing and restrain the mind as he w o u ld ‘a chariot y oked w ith vicious horses’ . w h o is banished to the realm o f death w hen he irritates his father.000 days.49 The Svetasvatara Upanisad sim ilarly says that a yo gin should hold the b o d y erect. but in the face o f death. so the self should control the senses through keeping them restrained.47 The actual term yoga first occurs in the Katha Upanisad where it is defined as the steady control o f the senses. N o matter h ow long life lasts. The seer.50 The last o f the classical U panisads to deal w ith yoga to any extent is the Maitrayaniya or M aitri Upanisad . Yam a tries to dissuade him from asking this third question w ith the prom ise o f long life and riches. concentration (dharana ). is out. belonging to the branch o f the black Y aju r Veda. This yo k in g o f the mind leads to inner visions and. inqu iry (tarka) and absorption (samadhi). N aciketas. and the senses are the horses. w h o prac­ tises austerity (tapas) b y staring at the sun w ith his arms raised high fo r 1. leads to the suprem e state.

w hich has links w ith Indian alchemy. con ­ tains pith y aphorism s on classical yoga. the y o ga o f inner sound (nada. inner visions. such as postures. yoga). mentions fo u r kinds o f yoga: m antra-yoga. the sym bolic dissolution o f the cosm os w ithin the b o d y and the raising o f a corporeal energy kn ow n as K undalini. and inner sound. The m ost fam ous o f the Yoga U panisads. and descriptions o f esoteric or subtle anatomy. the yoga o f ‘fo rce’ focusing on various postures. ‘kn ow led ge’ (jn a n a ). the Yogatattva. visions o f light. breath control. breath control. The text also m en­ tions the magical pow ers (siddhi) gained b y the yogin . O ne group o f about tw en ty texts. The G ita also introduces the fam ous three kinds o f yoga. Patanjali gives a succinct definition o f yoga in the second sutra: ‘yo ga is the cessation o f mental fluctuations’ . The Yoga Sutra represents a codification o f yoga ideas and practices w hich had been developing fo r m any centuries. is controlled and made to be one-pointed (ekagratd). hathayoga. w hich is the classical system o f Patanjali. and ‘lo ve’ (b h ak ti). 6) devoted to traditional yoga practice.52 That is. the Y o ga U panisads. or sim ply ‘the best’ . yo ga is a state o f concentration in w hich the w andering mind. includ­ ing a com plete chapter (ch. Tantrism and the Siddha tradition. H ath a-yoga itself develops an extensive literature. ‘ action’ (karm a). contain interesting details about the practice o f yoga. This text. particularly Svatm aram a’s H ath ayogap ra d ip ik a (fifteenth century c e ) . Parts o f the fam ous epic poem the M ahabharata (c'400 B C K -300 c e ) contain pas­ sages describing the practice o f yoga as does the B h a g a v a d G ita . U panisads continue to be com posed into the com m on era and tend to becom e sectarian in orienta­ tion. RAJ A-YOGA The text w hich is m ost significant in the yo ga tradition is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. w hich involves the repetition o f mantras.An introduction to Hinduism There are several centuries between the com position of the Katha and the Svetasvatara Upanisads and we must assume that the yoga tradition developed during this time within the orbit o f 1lindu thought. com posed sometime between io o bce and 500 c e . These are: 96 . called the ‘ eight-lim bed’ (astdnga) or ‘the best’ (raja) yoga. This mental control occurs through developing eight aspects or lim bs o f the yo gic path. fed b y sense im pressions and m em ories. sabda). prob ab ly dating from around io o bce to 300 c e . laya-yo g a. and rdja-yoga (‘ro y a l’.

In this school there is a com plete distinction between the self or the passive. and the sense of T (asmita). There is a clear connection here between consciousness. Patanjali assumes this system as the philosophical backdrop to his thinking. study.)'<>ya an d ranun< :iation 1 ethics or restraint (yama). in Patanjali’s system . celibacy and not being greedy. 2 discipline (niyama). breath and body. not stealing. These degrees o f absorption represent levels o f consciousness purified o f lim iting constraints. 6 concentration (dharana). 4 breath-control (prandydma)\ 5 sense-withdrawal (pratyahara). telling the truth. comprising non violence (ahimsa). serenity. but rather 97 . kaivalya is nevertheless conceptualized w ithin a fram ew ork o f dualist m etaphysics. the breath through pranayama and the mind through concentration. W hile the experience o f samadhi leading up to liberation (kaivalya ) is ineffable. nam ely the m etaphysics o f the Sam khya school o f philosophy. (ii) concentration without the support of objects of consciousness (asamprajnata samadhi). asceticism. liberation is here not the realization o f the self’s identity w ith the absolute. 7 meditation (dhydna ). anger and delusion. unlike the m onistic Upanisads. 3 posture (asana). is liberation from the w heel o f transm igration. In the state o f concentrated absorption or samadhi the yogin is no longer conscious o f the b o d y or physical environ­ ment. H ow ever. conscious observer {purusa ) and matter (prakrti). free from greed. devotion to the Lord. jo y (ananda). 8 absorbed concentration (samadhi). K aivalya . The states o f samadhi are classified b y Patanjali into various degrees o f subtlety and refinem ent until the transcendent state o f ‘isolation’ is finally achieved. H avin g developed ethical behaviour and discipline the yo gin stills the b o d y and the breath and withdraw s attention from the external w o rld . as a tortoise pulls its limbs and head into its shell. comprising cleanliness. sustained thought (vicara). in order to control the mind through various degrees o f concentration or m editation.initial thought (vitarka ). the b o d y is stilled through posture. but his consciousness is absorbed in a higher state. comprising: (i) concentration with the support of objects of consciousness (samprajnata samadhi) sustained on four levels . In his exposition.

or the ‘yoga o f fo rce’ . and ‘lo cks’ (bandha).53 O ther texts o f note are the Gheranda Samhita. O ne o f the main texts o f the tradition is the H athayoga-pradipikd b y Svâtm aràm a (fifteenth century) w hich describes the various com plex p o s­ tures (dsana). breath control. W hile these texts are concerned w ith the m ore subtle levels o f m editation. The purpose o f hatha-yoga is the realization o f liberation during life. the Siddhasiddhânta Paddhati. A lth ough aspects o f these practices are m uch older. in w hich consciousness is absorbed in itself w ith ­ out an object. a realization made possible through cultivating a b o d y made perfect or divine in the ‘ fire’ o f yoga. HATH A -YO G A W hile Patanjali’s yo ga is prim arily concerned w ith developing mental concentration in order to experience samàdhi. ESOTERIC ANATOMY These texts also describe the existence o f a subtle b o d y w ith centres or ‘w h eels’ (cakra) located along its central axis. p ro b ab ly the oldest N ath text. connected b y channels (nddi) along w hich flow s the energy (prâna). It is a state beyond w o rld ly or sensory experience. O f these channels. w hich traces its origins to a saint. revered also in Buddhism . cleaning the nose w ith threads and taking w ater through the nose and expelling it through the m outh. draw ing w ater into the rectum . hatha-yoga . the Siva Samhita and. M atsyendranâth. or the life-force. w hich ani­ mates the body. having itself as its ow n object. hatha-yoga as a com plete system was developed from about the ninth century c E b y the N àth or Kânphata sect. in w hich the self awakens to its innate identity w ith the absolute (. This is a condition o f pure awareness in which the self has become com pletely detached from its entanglement with matter. and his disciple G orakhnâth (between the ninth and thirteenth centuries c e ) .An introduction to Hinduism the realization o f the self’s solitude and com plete transcendence. Such practices are high ly regarded as purifications w hich make the b o d y fit fo r the m ore difficult practices o f postures and breath control.sahaja ). or is reflexive. the emphasis is undoubtedly upon disciplines o f the body: cleansing the stomach b y sw al­ low in g a cloth. w hich are the m uscular constrictions o f breath and energy w hich flo w through the body. three are o f particular im portance: the central channel (susumnâ nddi) w hich connects the base o f the trunk to the 98 . develops a system o f elaborate and difficult postures (dsana) accom panied b y breathing techniques (prdndydma ).

form ing a vertical axis through the body.Yoga and renunciation crow n o f the head. pan -H ind u m odel. flow ing from the nostrils and joining the central channel at its base. w here the bliss o f liberation is experienced. adopted b y m ost yo ga schools. the genitals. Th rough h atha-yoga the energy lyin g dorm ant at the base o f the central channel in the ‘ root centre’ (m uladhara) is awakened. the throat. aw ak­ ened b y hatha-yoga rises up the central channel. This system originates in the cult o f the tantric goddess K u b jika in about the eleventh century c e . w hich flow s up the central channel to the ‘ thousand petalled lotus’ (sahasrarapadm a) at the crow n o f the head. the heart. and tw o chan­ nels to its right and left. These centres are said to be located in the regions o f the p er­ ineum. but rapidly becom es a popular and standardized m odel o f esoteric anatomy. one system o f six or seven cakras along the b o d y ’s axis becomes the dom inant. the solar plexus. piercing these centres until the bliss o f union w ith the god Siva residing at the crow n o f the head 99 . This energy is envisaged as the goddess Kundalinl. 3). between the eyes and at the crow n o f the head (see fig.54 W hile in earlier texts there are various system s o f cakras and nadls. the ‘ serpent p o w e r’ . The pow er o f Kundalini.

is to stop the nectar o f im m ortality dripping aw ay through this ‘tooth ’ b y turning the tongue back inside the palate and entering the cavity leading into the skull.An introduction to Hinduism is achieved. like a serpent w hich. not tainted b y karm a and unaffected b y time. This part o f the b o d y as an im portant locus fo r spiritual realization is attested from as early as the Taittiriya Upanisad w hich describes this point as the ‘ birthplace o f In d ra’ w here the head is ‘ split’ a hair’s w idth . the raising o f energy in the body. they w ere rather system s o f visualization in meditation fo r the purpose o f achieving samadhi. The Hathayogapradipika details h ow this is to be achieved b y cutting the membrane w hich connects the tongue w ith the lo w er part o f the m outh and gradually stretching the tongue. A yo gin w h o has perform ed this technique is said to be not afflicted b y disease.56 The dripping o f the nectar o f im m ortality from the crow n o f the head through the talu-cakra is not on ly regarded as a m etaphor fo r the attention flow in g out into the w orld . then a rum bling sound like a kettledrum . kn ow n as the kloecari m udra . a flute. Th rough concentrating on this inner sound. is the ‘palate centre’ (talu-cakra ) or uvula. but at one level is taken literally. This subtle sound resounds in the central channel and can be heard b y the yo gin b y blocking the ears. w hich. from w hich is said to drip the nectar o f im m ortality (amrta). and the doctrine o f an esoteric anatomy. even if ‘ embraced b y a passionate w om an ’ . It is not clear that such sy s­ tems o f esoteric anatom y w ere meant to be understood in a literal or o n to­ logical sense. his true self. the yo gin becom es absorbed in the suprem e reality w hich is. nose and eyes and controlling the breath. is accom panied in hatha-yoga b y a fu r­ ther practice. on hearing the sound o f a flute.55 O ne o f the N ath practices. ultimately. O ne im portant ‘centre’ fo r the N ath yogis. The absolute manifests in the form o f sound in hatha and other yo ga doctrines. and the khecarim udra is meant to stop this flow. H e does not need to sleep and can control desire. upon which are inscribed the letters o f the Sanskrit alphabet. not incorporated into the six-centre scheme. and then a lute. according to the Hathayogapradipika initially resembles a tinkling sound. the yoga o f inner or ‘unstruck’ sound (anahata nada or sabda).57 T H E Y O G A OF I N N E R S O U N D T he practice o f Kundalini yoga. know n as the ‘ro yal tooth ’. Th rough the yo ga o f inner sound the mind is controlled and becom es absorbed. Each centre or lotus is described as being associated with a particular sound and having a specific number o f petals. ‘becom es 100 .

know ledge o f past lives. particularly those w ithin the Radhasoam i tradition w hose central teaching is that o f inner sound m anifested in the form o f the guru. does not move aw ay elsewhere*. are regarded not on ly as states o f individual p s y ­ chology. but also as subtle levels o f a hierarchical cosm os. they nevertheless hold an im portant position as indicators o f progress along the path. the sound o f the universe identified w ith brahm an. fo r they create attachment. supernorm al senses.59 A s in m any yoga traditions there is a correlation between psychological experience and cosm ology. alm ost incident­ ally. The inner experiences o f yoga. The yoga o f inner sound is im portant fo r m any contem porary H indu yo ga schools. fluctuating states o f human conscious­ ness. W hile generally the cultivation o f these pow ers fo r w o rld ly ends is frow ned upon.Yoga and renunciation oblivious o f all else.58 This doctrine o f inner sound is well attested in the Yoga U panisads. as a means o f accessing the inner sound w hich is their source. the higher levels corresponding to m ore refined. along the w a y yoga traditions claim that magical pow ers are attained. m ostly com posed between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. various pow ers begin to arise. purer states identi­ fied w ith various levels o f sam adhi. or the mental penetration o f the objects o f consciousness. the repetition (japa) o f mantras. and. levitation. including know ledge o f the cosmic regions. M AGICAL POWERS W hile the ultimate aim o f yoga practice is liberation in life. absorbed in the one iliing. but as a jou rn ey through the layers o f the cosm os back to its source. they are a hindrance to higher consciousness. though it has precursors in the earlier vedic idea o f the syllable om. grosser levels corresponding to the usual.60 W hile such pow ers m ay be advantageous from the perspective o f w akin g consciousness. the apprecia­ tion o f sound and light. L ik e an onion.the lower. Indeed mantras might be regarded as expressions o f the inner sound and m an tra-yoga. These pow ers include know ledge o f past and future. and om niscience. The com m entary on the Yoga Sutra b y V yasa lists eight magical pow ers 101 . The practice o f K undalinl yoga and the yoga o f inner sound are not on ly regarded as psychological experiences. Patanjali says that upon attaining concentration. foreknow ledge o f one’s ow n death. The third section o f Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is devoted to m agical pow ers or w onders. the ability to disappear. telepathy. the yogic cosm os is divided into a num ber o f layers . great strength.

renunciation is a vital institution w ithin H induism and central to H indu soteriology.that a person reaps the consequences o f their action . practices and social form s w hich are at the heart o f H induism and w hich have developed over thousands o f years. We are dealing here w ith oral traditions o f teachings in w hich the list o f pow ers. the pow er o f irresistible w ill. w hich show s that the association o f meditation or yo ga w ith supernorm al pow ers has been w ithin Indian meditation traditions from an early date. fo r both renouncers and laity. A lo n g w ith renunciation go ideas o f karm a . 102 . as w ell as o f other states. w hile being incorporated w ithin m ain­ stream vedic tradition. Yet w h at­ ever its origin. Y oga is the m ethod o f attaining libera­ tion. w hether from w ithin the vedic tradition or from outside it. though there are variants. To the latter tradition w e n o w turn. and liberation or salvation from the cycle o f rebirth. m ay have originated outside that tradition in the sramana m ovem ents o f w hich Buddhism and Jain ism are a part. has been standardized and the original meaning o f som e o f this term inology has becom e obscure.reincarnation. all-pervasiveness. the ability to expand. the pow er to create and the fu lfil­ ment o f desires. m ost notably o f the traditions o f Siva and Visnu. Yoga has been adapted to different doctrinal system s and has been used in the service o f different traditions w ithin H induism . Renunciation.An introduction to Hinduism or accom plishm ents (sid d h i): the ability to becom e as small as an atom. Sum m ary This chapter has surveyed a com plex set o f concepts.61 This is a standard list o f magical pow ers found in other texts. These pow ers are included in the Buddhist system as the first o f the five higher know ledges (abhijna) attained b y m editation. levitation. control over the natural elements. and w e have in this chapter surveyed the origins o f yoga and some o f the central developm ents in its vast history.

This chapter w ill trace some o f these developm ents. and an through the first m illen­ nium c e . w hich came to be characterized as ‘Vaisnava’ . in m ythological and ritual treatises kn ow n as the Puranas. there was a grow th o f sectarian w orsh ip o f particular deities. This lack o f h istoriography has made the dating o f Sanskrit texts difficult and has reinforced a tendency to construct India as ahistorical. H indu narrative traditions There is no h istoriography in south A sia. scientific and 103 . w ith a few exceptions.Bhagavati ). and vedic sacrifice. This grow th o f H indu theism and devotionalism is reflected in the Sanskrit narrative tra­ ditions o f the E pics (itihasa ). From about 500 b c e b c e . became a central. A rab ic and European traditions. Bhakti to a personal G od (Bhagavan) or G oddess (. gave w a y to devotional w orsh ip (puja). all-pervasive movem ent. adherence to varnasrama-dharma and the id eo lo gy o f renunciation. and in devotional poetry in vernacular languages. These developm ents occurred w ithin the context o f the grow th o f kingdom s. particu­ larly Tamil. and became the central religious practice o f H induism .5 N arrativ e traditions and early Vaisnavism The first m illennium b c e saw the developm ent o f the brahmanical tradi­ tions o f ritual. though never dying out. o f the kind w hich developed in the G reek. m ythical and irrational. in contrast to the West . such as M agadha in the fourth century id eology o f sacral kingship. focusing on the rise o f the gods Visnu and K rsna and the traditions associated w ith them.seen as historical. P e r fo r m in g / ? ^ is a w a y o f expressing love or devotion (bhakti ) to a deity in some form .

indeed. although it is classified as smrti. ‘ hagiography’ and ‘m y th o lo g y ’ . the concerns o f ord in ary people. We have texts w ritten in Sanskrit. The Itihdsa Purdna has had. is orientated tow ards the traditions o f Visnu. pilgrim age and m ythology. w hich still play a vital role in contem porary H indu life. grammar. stories. there is nevertheless a case fo r saying that the Epics are prim arily Vaisnava in orientation. and descriptions o f ritual. and all castes have access to it. particularly Visnu. architecture. stories and presentations o f norm ative and non-norm ative behaviour. the concerns o f Brahm ans. as. Some review o f this vast literature is necessary in order to understand the unfolding o f H indu theistic traditions in general and the religions o f V isnu in particular. the Sanskrit term itihdsa embraces the western cate­ gories o f ‘h istory ’ and ‘m yth ’ . These texts also docu ­ ment the rise o f the great theistic traditions o f H induism focused on the gods. the G oddess. mathematics. logic and philosophy) and to underplay the m ythical dim ension in western thought. the sense o f truth that it conveys. rituals and theologies. Th e tw o m ost im portant groups o f H indu narrative traditions em bod­ ied in oral and w ritten texts are the tw o E pics. not o n ly the tw iceborn. 104 . imm ense impact upon H induism at all levels. and continues to have. N evertheless.An introduction to / /in du ism rational. The Itihdsa Pur ana is even kn ow n as the ‘ fifth Veda’ . yoga. though som e­ times n ow mediated through the television and cinema screen. Rather. w hat seems to be im portant w ith these m ythological narratives is the story being told. are m any o f the Purânas. and the historicity o f particular events is either assumed. H induism did produce elaborate m ythical narratives in w hich there is no clear distinction between ‘ h isto ry ’. revelation. the Mahabhdrata and Rdm dyana . and not sruti. A lth ou gh the Epics contain a wealth o f material w hich cannot be neatly categorized as belonging to any particular tradition. Siva and D evi. and ver­ nacular languages. H in du traditions have been com m unicated through the generations in these narrative gen­ res. Even the M ahdbhdrata w hich is som e­ times com pared to an encyclopaedia of H indu deities. Indeed. T he construction o f India as the West’s irrational ‘other* has tended to hide the stroivgly ‘ rationalist’ element in I I indu culture (the sci­ ence o f ritual. or is sim ply not an issue. and the Purânas. and the sense o f com m unal or traditional values and identity being com m unicated. w hich are clearly presenting what w ere regarded as im portant ideas. texts o f hum an authorship. In these texts w e see reflected the concerns o f political life at the court.

1 T h eir v e r­ sion is the one form ulated b y the Brahm an fam ily o f Bhargava. The Mahabharata lives in these presentations and recitations. the sec­ ond. reaching its established form b y the first century c e . not to m en­ tion in a television series w hich presented the sto ry to rapt audiences throughout India in the 1980s. Yudhisthira. attributed to V yasa. though scholarship has show n that it was in fact com piled over several centuries from the first half o f the first m illennium b c e . A part from the northern and southern recensions. there are regional variations o f the text and it is im portant to em phasize that the Mahabharata exists not on ly as a ‘ critical edition’ or as the object o f schol­ arly study. a version o f about 7. an elaboration b y Vaisam payana. as the popularity o f Peter B ro o k s nine-hour English stage production has attested. the H arivam sa . one northern and one southern. is the son o f D harm a personified as a deity.000 verses. and was retold in a Tamil version. The Sanskrit narra­ tive traditions o f the Mahabharata are also acted out and recited o rally in vernacular languages throughout the villages o f India at popular festivals. the longest com prising over 14. The origins o f the Mahabharata lay in non-brahm anical social groups o f the ‘A ry a n hom eland’ (aryavarta). in India. The critical edition o f the Sanskrit version was produced b y scholars at the B handarkar O riental Research Institute at Poona. The first. It is the longest epic poem in the w orld. There is also a supplem ent to the E pic. a text about the life o f Krsna. w ho rew rote the epic incorporating into it much material on dharma. the shortest having o n ly 120 verses. The text itself is divided into eighteen parts o f varyin g length.N arrative traditions and early Vaisnavism The M ahabharata The Mahabharata is an epic o f universal proportions with appeal across centuries and across cultures. but also as a vital and fluid part o f contem porary H induism . though the story 105 .000 verses. There w ere prob ab ly tw o m ajor stages in its com position. w h o com pared m any different m anuscripts. the author o f the text was the sage V yasa w hose name means ‘ an arranger’ . descended from the ancient sage Bhrgu. and it gives us some understanding o f the life o f those groups.000 verses or s'lokas. com prising over 100. still in the process o f being recast in different modes. B y the medieval period the E pic existed in tw o m ajor recensions. Indeed. The text is further sub­ divided into 98 sub-portions. A ccord in g to tradition. the central hero o f the E pic. nam ely the K satriya aristocracy. though still being form ulated b y the fourth century.

While the text is enjoyed sim ply as a story. A rju na. and Yudhisthira. B him a. O nce again Yudhisthira loses and so begins the Pandavas’ thirteen-year exile with D raupadi. N ak u la and Sahadeva) grow up w ith their 100 cousins. but it m iraculously never unfolds due to the p o w er o f K rsn a’s grace. D uryod han a. O n the field o f K uruksetra the tw o armies are lined up and the eve o f the battle sets the 10 6 . including his w ife D raupadi. all recorded in the M ah abh arata. it is also understood to have different levels o f meaning and to be a m etaphor for the ethical battle on the human plane. D uryod hana cannot abide this insult and challenges Yudhisthira to a game o f dice at H astinapur fo r the entire kin g­ dom .An introduction to Hinduism was qu ickly appropriated by orthodox. the loser having to go into exile in the forest fo r tw elve years and spend a further year incognito. but w hile he is there he falls into a lake w hich provokes laugh­ ter from Yudhisthira. had tw o sons. V icitravirya. T h ey p lay one further game o f dice. the elder prince. a partic­ u larly inauspicious karm a. how ever. The w ar lasts eighteen days. so. Sanski it u Brahmans and overlaid b y the Bhargava fam ily with a brahmanical id eo lo gy which emphasized the perform ance o f social duty (dh arm a). loses everything to D uryod hana. She is p u b licly hum iliated b y the Kauravas w h o try to tear o ff her clothing. Pandu reigns and has five sons. The eldest o f the K auravas. w ith D uryod han a ruling in the north from Hastinapur. Pandu and D hrtarastra. he could not. T he story is as follow s. exiled. claims to be the rightful successor to the throne and has the Pandavas. B y ' now. the eldest Pandava. the sons o f D hrtarastra: the Kauravas. D u ryo d h an a pays a visit to Indraprasta. In the forest m any adventures befall them. D hrtarastra. and fo r the battle betw een the lo w er and higher self on a w orld-transcending plane. should have succeeded his father on the throne. The Pandavas. Yudhisthira w h o has a passion fo r gam bling. how ever. the Pandavas or ‘ sons o f Pandu’ . A king o f the lunar dynasty. D uryodhan a becom es king and his father abdicates. challenge his right to the throne. but as he w as born blind. W hen Pandu dies. T h ey spend the thirteenth year in disguise in the court o f a king and emerge from exile in the fourteenth year to reclaim their kingdom . ruling in the south from Indraprasta (modern D elhi). and there are stories within stories told b y different charac­ ters. D uryod han a is no longer w illin g to give up his kingdom and so the stage is set fo r war. and their com m on w ife D raupadi. the blind old ex-king divides the kingdom in tw o. to avoid conflict. his blind brother D hrtarastra takes over the throne and the Pandavas (nam ely Yudhisthira.

Yudhisthira abdicates. the exem plum o f dharm ic conduct. w h o then leads Yudhisthira into heaven w here he is astonished to see D uryodhan a. turns out to be the god D harm a him self. and w ith his brothers and D raupadi leaves fo r the realm o f In dra’s heaven in the H im alayas. Indra in his chariot meets Yudhisthira and invites him into heaven.Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavism scene for the Bhagavad G ita . the southern being the earlier. m ay w ell have been inserted into the M ahabhdrata . slightly shorter. The dog. The R ám áyaná The second. accom panied b y a devoted dog w hich had attached itself to him.4 This dialogue between A rju n a and K rsna. dated to not before the sec­ ond century b c e . became one o f the m ost im portant texts in H induism . the fam ous dialogue between Krsna and Arjuna. E pic is the Ram dyana . Yudhisthira. attributed to Valm lki.3 The fam ous Bhagavad G ita . but Yudhisthira w ill not go w ithout the dog w h o has been devoted (bhakta). the cause o f so much suffering. A s the dialogue unfolds. the creator. even though they w ere their enemies. though on stylistic grounds its origin m ay be later than the Mahabhdrata. leaving the kingdom under the sovereignty o f a you nger relation. they are filled with sorrow at the loss o f so m any allies and relatives. narrated b y the sage Sanjaya to the blind king D hrtarástra. The battle is fierce and all the K auravas are killed. m aintainer and destroyer o f the universe. D raupadi and four o f the brothers die along the w ay. has yet to be reborn on earth because o f his affection: a last attachment to be purged before liberation can be attained. A s w ith the Mahabhdrata there are tw o m ajor recen­ sions.5 There are later Sanskrit versions o f the text and versions w ere com posed in ver­ nacular languages. ‘the Song o f the L o r d ’ . continues the journey. en joying heaven because he had fulfilled his dharma as a w arrior. A lthough the Pándavas w in. K rsn a responds to A rju n a ’s doubts about the w ar and gradually reveals him self as a suprem e L o rd . though some scholars think that it was com posed as part o f the text. how ever. This text w as certainly in circulation b y the first century c e . the story o f K in g Ram a. o f particular note being K am pan ’s Tamil rendering (ninth-tw elfth centuries) and the fam ous H indi Rdmacaritmanas (‘The io 7 . W ithin this basic narrative structure m any other stories are em bedded which m ay originally have been independent tales. such as the love story o f N ala and D am yantI2 and the sto ry o f the nym ph Sakuntalá. the northern and the southern. O n ly Yudhisthira.

there are innum erable versions o f the text told and retold in different regions. suspect that Slta did not remain chaste w hile held b y Ravana. the daughter o f K in g Jan aka o f Videha (w ho first appeared in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad). w h o makes D asaratha prom ise to banish him. but w ith the help o f a m on key arm y sent b y the m onkey king Sugriva. it is a tale about dharm a . M an y years later Ram a discovers the twins and wishes to take back Slta along w ith their children. H e is accom panied b y his w ife and brother Laksm ana. however. w h o is no ordin ary m on key but the son o f the w in d-go d V ayu . The people o f the city. Ravana and his arm y are killed and Ram a returns with Slta to A yo d h y a w here he reigns as king. enacted tradition o f the Rdmayana?* Th e story is essentially simple. out o f filial duty. Slta is abducted b y Ravana. and his w ord is his pow er. K a ik eyl. w here she gives birth to twins. Apart from these texts. W hile the brothers are aw ay hunting. Ram a must go to the forest to ob ey his father. Ram a is forced to go into exile into the D andaka forest. traditionally the author o f the text. and Ram a m ust banish Slta in the end to fulfil his duty to his subjects. son o f K in g D asaratha. The text ends w ith Ram a and all the inhabitants o f A yo d h ya going to the Sarayu river and there entering the b o d y o f Visnu. from a H in di television production in 1987 which attracted 80 m illion view ers to village perform ances in Tamilnadu or stage productions in the U S A . The Ramayana is the story o f a heroic king w h o becom es deified. her mother.7 The annual R am L ila festivals and perform ances. but not w ishing to return to A yo d h ya. however. attract thousands o f pilgrim s and express the liv ­ ing. m arries Princess Slta. 1543 1^23).6 The Rdm ayana exists in many versions and in m any tellings. Slta calls on the Earth. even though her virtue is not in question.An introduction to Hinduism Lake o f R am a’a Deeds*) by Tulsidas (c. as w ith the M ahabharata . though Ram a him self has no doubts about her virtue (since she had p reviou sly proved this to him b y em erging unscathed from a fire ordeal). w h o opens and sw allow s her. as dharma dictates. a prince o f A yo d h ya. the ten-headed dem on-king o f Sri Lanka. 108 . b y the last books o f the text Ram a is referred to as an incarnation (avatara) o f Visnu. Indeed. Ram a ban­ ishes Slta to the hermitage o f V alm iki. U n d er the leadership o f the m on key general H anum an. Ram a . Ram a w ins her back. particularly at Ram nagar near Varanasi. a causew ay is built from India to Sri Lanka. To fulfil his duty to his subjects. Because o f his father’s second w ife. D asaratha is forced to banish his son because he must keep his w ord . A b o ve all. w hich allow s Ram a and his arm y to cross over and defeat the dem on-king.

‘ stories o f the ancient past5. The language is beautiful in its detailed descrip­ tions. are a vast b o d y o f com plex narratives w hich contain genealogies o f deities and kings up to the G uptas. whence she sprang w hen her father. cosm ologies. while she is m od­ est. The Purànas have 109 . the fulfiller o f all his ethical responsibilities. Kama and Si ta are ideal examples o f dharmic gender roles for Hindu couples. and today the texts are recited b y special individuals kn o w n b y the H in di term bhat. There are eighteen m ajor Purànas and eighteen related subordinate texts know n as U papurànas. asserts itself at the end o f the narrative w hen Sïtà. L ike the Mahâbhàrata it is an oral tradi­ tion recited and acted out throughout the villages and tow ns o f India. popular appeal. yet w h o retains self-possession and an element o f autonom y and identity independent o f her husband Ràma. and some degree o f independence. 264-5). This strength. yet strong in herself. w hose name means ‘fu rro w ’ and w h o perhaps originated as an independent goddess associated w ith agriculture. dedicated to her L o rd and husband. demure. and devoted to his w ife.9 The w orship o f Ràm a has becom e high ly significant today as the focus o f politicized H in du movements in recent years (see pp. I le is honest. The w orsh ip o f Ràm a became w idespread in the medieval period in northern India and the name ‘ R àm ’ became a syn on ym fo r ‘ G o d ’ . The Puranas In contrast to the Epics. and is a precursor o f later Sanskrit poetic literature or kàvya. law codes. Yet the Râmayana is im portant beyond these considerations and plays a vibrant part in contem porary H induism . and descriptions o f ritual and pilgrim ages to h oly places. U panisads.N arrative traditions and early Vaisnavism The Râmayana is the story of the trium ph ol good over evil. W ith the Puranas w e are dealing w ith oral tra­ ditions w hich w ere w ritten dow n and w hich have absorbed influences from the Epics. Janaka. o f order over chaos. virtuous. even dow n to describing the spiral m ovem ents o f the hairs on H an u m ân s tail. the Purànas. D harm a literature and ritual texts. Sïtà is the ideal H indu w om an. fulfilling her ‘w o m ­ anly d u ty ’ (strisvadharma) to the letter. The story is m ore straightforw ard than the Mahâbhàrata and has w id e­ spread. o f dharma over adharma. The Puranas w ou ld have been recited at gatherings b y specialists w h o w ere tra­ ditionally the sons o f K satriya fathers and Brahm an mothers. brave. though there are variations as to w hich texts are included w ithin the ideal num ber o f eighteen. returns to her m other the Earth. was ploughing.

it is im possible to precisely date them or to establish an accu­ rate chronology. Brahm avaivarta . Siva. N evertheless there are tendencies tow ards sectarian affiliation. such as the Visnu and Siva Puranas . Brahm anda . T h ey indicate the rise in popu larity o f Visnu and Siva and docum ent the brahmanical expression o f their cults. Skanda (the god o f w ar and son o f Siva). N aradiya . and som e texts. It is possible to find passages w hich have parallels across different Puranas but it is v e ry difficult to establish the sequence o f their com position or inclusion.An introduction to Hinduism traditionally been classified according to three qualities (guna) which are inherent in existence. rather than to try to establish their diachronic or historical sequence. pas­ sion (rajas) and darkness or inertia (tamas). The sattva category contains the Vaisnava Puranas (the Visnu Bhagavata . Because these texts developed over a long period o f time and had fluid boundaries. show ing no . Bhavisya and Vamana Puranas ). Skanda and ylgm Puranas). the G oddess (Devi) and other deities o f the H indu pan­ theon such as A gn i (the god o f fire). 320 -c. This neat classification. Attem pts have been made b y scholars to establish the original portions and chronologies o f individual texts. 500 c e ) . We do kn ow that the bulk o f the material contained in the Puranas was established during the reign o f the G uptas (c. w hich do not fall easily into this fram e o f reference fo r the texts themselves are not exclusively focused upon a single deity. Matsya . does not really th row light on the nature or contents o f these texts. Six Puranas belong to each cat­ egory. There are also Puranas affiliated w ith a particular place or temple. G aruda . although interesting in terms o f the tradition’s self-understanding. the sthala Puranas. those texts w hose central deity is Siva (the Siva . Ganesa (Siva’s elephant-headed son) and Brahm a (the four-headed creator o f the universe). the rajas category contains Puranas w hose central deity is the creator Brahm a (the Brahm a . To understand the Puranas it makes m ore sense to treat them as com plete texts in themselves and examine them and their intertextuality synchronically. w hile the category contains the Saiva Puranas. Padma and Varaha Puranas ).10 but this is n oto rio u sly difficult. though amendments w ere made to the texts up to later medieval times. M arkandeya . The Puranas contain essential material fo r understanding the religions o f Visnu. Kurm a . are clearly centred on a particular god. Linga . are not so clearly sectarian. nam ely the quality of light or purity (sattva ). O thers such as the A gni Purana w hich con ­ tains material about both Visnu and Siva.

they nevertheless each present a view o f ordering o f the w orld from a particular perspective. The text thus establishes Visnu as the supreme deity. The Visnu P urana for example (fourth century c e ). Siva or D evi. and m ater­ ial in one is found in another.the genealogies of gods and sages. it is really Visnu. w h o takes the designation Brahm a. bursting out from a pillar (neither inside nor outside the house) to kill the demon. b y man or b y beast. PURANIC COSMOLOGY A lth ou gh no one text strictly adheres to this pattern. or. indeed. Visnu awakens. sustains it and destroys it as R u d ra (a name fo r Siva). Yet despite his efforts the b o y cannot be killed and Visnu. w ithin or outside the house. w hether it be focused on Visnu. ‘ the adored o f hum anity’ . is centred on Visnu and presents a Vaisnava w orldview . creates the universe.destruction and re-creation of the universe. . any num ber o f deities. w h om the text calls Janarddhana. Visnu and Siva. The m ost im portant features o f the Puranas are the genealogies o f various royal lineages. T h ey must not be seen as random collections o f old tales. to avenge Prahlada. . from which all kings trace their descent. the Puranas tradi­ tionally cover five topics: .the reigns of the fourteen Manus or mythological progenitors of humanity. Although these texts are related to each other. iii . w hile generally fo l­ low ing the typical puranic style.the history of the solar and lunar dynasties of kings.11 The suprem acy o f Visnu in this text is also established b y narratives such as the sto ry o f Prahlada. . H iran yakasipu orders the bo y to be killed because he is a w orsh ipper o f Visnu. but as h igh ly selective and crafted exp o ­ sitions and presentations o f w orld view s and soteriologies. . at tw ilight (neither day nor night). becom es the creator god Brahm a. Prahlada is the son of the dem on H iranyakasipu w h o cannot be killed b y day or b y night. in w hich h istory as w ell as m yth o lo gy m ay be em bedded. com piled b y particular groups o f Brahm ans to propagate a particular vision. incarnates as the ‘m an -lion 5 N arasim ha (neither man nor beast).N arrative traditions and early Vaisnavism how popular levels o f religion w ere assimilated by the Brahm ans w ho com posed them.the creation or manifestation of the universe. H e then rests on the serpent Sesa upon the cosm ic ocean.

ghee and treacle. traditionally dated to 3 10 2 b c e . rum . and one can be reborn into any o f these realms depending upon one’s action (karma) nor heaven are perm anent here. wine. nym phs (.000 human years. is characterized b y loss o f dharma w hich w ill be renewed b y the future incarnation o f V isnu.12 W ithin Jam b u -d vlpa are a num ber o f lands. This entire cosm os is populated b y all kinds o f beings. dom estic beings (paisaca) aAd m any more. The kaliL ife in all o f these w o rld s is. until the realm o f darkness is reached b y the outer shell o f the egg. the treta age o f 1. 14 The im age used is o f a co w stand­ ing on all four legs in the perfect age. Jam b udvipa is surrounded b y a salt ocean. snake-beings (naga ).apsaras). the dvapara age o f 864. im perm anent and one w ill eventually be reborn elsewhere. butterm ilk. This makes a total o f 4. such as ‘im paling’ and ‘ red-hot iro n ’. B elo w and above the level o f the earth in the cosmic egg are further layers. plants. heavenly musicians ( gandharva ). black water. animals. m ilk and sweet water. The universe is conceptualized as an array o f concentric circles spreading out from M ount M eru at the centre.bhur ) are the atmosphere (ibhuvas ). Spreading out from here are seven fu r­ ther lands and various kinds o f ocean made o f sugar-cane juice. though itself several thousand miles from M eru. This is very similar to Ja in cosm ologies which list the oceans as containing salt. including India (Bharata) w hich is subdivided into nine regions ruled b y descendants o f the culture-hero Prthu. B elo w the earth are the seven underw orlds and below them at the base o f the egg. w h o w ill com e to begin a new perfect krta yuga. but tottering on o n ly one leg in the kali age.000 years.000 years during which time the w orld moves from a perfect state to a progressively m ore m orally degenerate state in w hich dharma is forgotten.000 years w hich began w ith the M ahabharata war.000 years. vivid ly describe their contents. enclosed within the vast ‘ w orld egg\ Im m ediately surrounding M eru is Jambu-dvTpa. The w o rld goes through a cycle o f four ages or yugas: the perfect krta or satya age w hich lasts fo r i . gods. w hose various names. ghee.296. and the dark kali age o f 432. K alki.An introduction to Hinduism and the elaborate cosm ologies occurring over vast expanses o f time. clear water. standing on three legs in the treta age.320. the present age o f darkness. o f course. . the Puranas also have a vast conception o f time. w h o cultivated the earth (prthvi). the earth or ‘ island o f the rose-apple tree’ . N either hell ynga . hum ans. A b o ve the earth (.728. m ilk. sk y (svar) and various other w orlds up M oun t M eru to the ‘true w o rld ’ (satyaloka ) at the top. on tw o legs in the dvapara age. A lon gside a vast conception o f the structure o f the cosm os. the hell realms.

A fter 1. w hile. 1. particularly in the south. there also arose w orship o f particular deities. w hich absorbs into it external.649 m illion years. abiding b y vedic social values and p u rity rules. public. in the context o f the rise o f regional kingdom s. mainstream Smärta w orsh ip o f Visnu and Siva is established. the norm ative. There is no end to this process. The Smärtas m ay be seen in contrast to the Srautas w h o perform ed elaborate. Sürya (the Sun) and the G oddess (Devi). after the collapse o f the G uptas. or p a u rä n ik a . vedic rituals . heterodox follow ers o f non-vedic revelation called the Tantras.the solemn rites and also in contrast to the Täntrikas. and the Rashtrakutas. the universe will be destroyed by fire or flood and undergo a night o f Brahm a o f the same period (i. the texts nevertheless contain a significant amount o f tantric material. which com prise one day fo r Brahma. T H E SMÄRTAS With the com position o f the Puränas a mainstream form o f brahm anical religion developed w hich expanded and continued into the medieval period. particularly on ritual. and the Palavas in the south-east. the pan cäyatan a-pujä. especially Visnu and Siva. replacing the 113 .000 manvantaras. the C holas in the Tamil region. o f course.Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavism The total period o f four yugas is called a m an van tara. Ganesa (Siva’s elephant-headed son). D urin g the sev­ enth century these w ere the kingdom s o f the C h alukyas in the central and western Deccan. w h o w ere elevated to a suprem e p o si­ tion.e.000 manvantaras). nor purpose other than the L o r d s play (lilä). Siva. until the process begins again fo r all eternity. Fro m about 900 to 1200 these kingdom s are replaced b y the dynasties o f the Pandeyas in the far south. A lth ough the authors o f the Puränas are not Täntrikas. This form o f religion was concerned w ith the dom estic w orship o f five shrines and their deities. those w hose w orship was based on the Smrtis. nonbraham nical and sometimes non-vedic or tantric material. The development of temple cities The com piling o f the Puränas and the developm ent o f devotion or bloakti to particular deities must be seen firstly in the context o f the stability o f the G u pta period and secondly. those based on the Puränas. nam ely Visnu. A lth ou gh the central Smärta practice was the dom estic w orship o f the five deities. A kalpa is one such night and day o f Brahma com prising 8. The Brahm ans w h o follow ed the puranic religion became kn ow n as sm ärta. the age or lifeperiod of a Manu. Thus w ith the Puränas.

discus. Visnu is icono- graphically depicted in tw o w ays. the suprem e or absolute reality. Theism is the idea that there is a suprem e. covers the universe w ith three strides and destroys the p ow er o f the dem on B a li. cities which were not only centres o f com m erce and adm inistration. and it is to his h istory and tradition we n o w turn. mace and lotus. and all o f w h om w ere established in im p or­ tant temples. respectively. large temple com plexes w ere built as centres o f the regional kingdom s. F irstly as a dark blue youth. and the Rajarajesvara tem ple at Tanjavur also in Tamilnadu. O f particular im portance are the gods Visnu. H e wears the jew el called the kaustubha 114 . Visnu takes three strides thereby separating the earth from the sky.An introduction to Hinduism C h alukyas. distinct G o d (Bhagavan) or G oddess (Bhagavati ) w h o generates the co s­ m os. often coupled w ith the w arrior god In d ra. Siva and D evi.15 The name Visnu m ay be derived from the Sanskrit verbal root vis (‘ to enter’). p ar­ ticularly the Svetasvatara and the Mahanarayana. all o f w h om had their ow n Puranas. Each o f these kingdom s developed urban centres and these cities became the centres o f those kingdom s. In one hym n. possessing fou r arms and holding in each hand.16 a story w hich form s the basis o f the later m yth in the Puranas w here Visnu. w ho both gain in im portance and becom e identified b y their devotees as the highest god. Exam ples o f such cities are the Jagannatha temple at Puri in O rissa. Tw o deities begin to becom e the focus o f theistic attention. The ritual sovereignty o f the king was established through his brahmanical legitim ization in the tem ple and. bear witness to the beginnings o f H in du theism. a conch. incarnated as a dw arf. from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. standing upright. maintains it. but ritual centres with the tem ple at the hub o f the tow n and the streets radiating out from there. The devotees o f Siva com e to be referred to as Saivas. w h o in the R g Veda appeared as R udra. In the R g Veda Visnu is a benevolent. and finally destroys it. solar deity. Visnu The late U panisads com posed from the eighth to sixth centuries b c e . and Visnu. and w h o has the po w er to save beings through his grace. Siva. Each o f these temples w ou ld have installed one o f the m ajor puranic deities or a m anifestation o f those deities.17 B y the time o f the Puranas (fou rth -sixth century c e ). Visnu in particular is associated w ith the ideal o f the divine king. the N ataraja tem ple at C idam baram in Tam ilnadu. so Visnu is ‘he w h o enters or pervades the u n i­ verse’ . as Vaisnavas. those o f Visnu and his m anifestation.

I do resort to his ten incarnations (avatara) upon the earth during times of darkness.within the hearts of all beings as their inner controller (antaryamin). though they w ere initially distinct goddesses. . although I am the lord of the creatures. The incarnations of Visnu Visnu is the suprem e L o rd w ho manifests him self in the w o rld in times o f darkness w hen dharma has disappeared from view. the irivatsa (‘ beloved o f the goddess Sri*). Vaikuntha. indeed. upon his mount. but also manifests him self in the w orld . I US . floating upon the cosmic ocean. Sesa (‘ rem ainder’) or Ananta (‘ endless*). F or whenever the Law (dharma) languishes. These m anifestations are his incarnations or ‘descent-form s’ (avatara). The classic statement o f this doctrine is in the Bhagavad Gita. . is addressing A rju n a (whom he addresses as Bharata): Although. They appear in later H induism as other consorts o f the god. his devotees go upon liberation. and I take on birth by m y own w izardry (maya). b y all Vaisnava traditions and have been articulated in Sanskrit and in Tamil texts. The second form is Visnu lying asleep upon the coils o f the great cosmic snake.Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavism and has a curl o f hair on his chest. sometimes w ith Laksm i. w ho form a single being. out o f the lotus appears the creator god Brahm a. w ith their L o rd ’s grace. H e is also depicted riding. and lawlessness (adharma) his various manifestations or icons (murti. principally in three w ays: . I am unborn and imperishable. w h o then manifests the universe w hich is maintained b y Visnu and then destroyed by Siva: Brahm a is enfolded b y the lotus w hich w ithdraw s into V isn u ’s navel w ho. at the top o f the cosm ic egg. falls asleep once more. he creates the universe. When he awakes. Visnu is the transcendent Lord dw elling in his highest heaven. Yet Vaisnava traditions maintain that the L o rd not on ly dwells in far-o ff Vaikuntha. finally. the eagle G aruda. F o r his devotees and in Vaisnava literature. A lotus emerges from his navel. w ith varyin g degrees o f emphasis. where. These ideas are maintained. Visnu is married to Laksm i and Sri. area) in temples and shrines. Bharata. which is mine. an incarnation o f Visnu. H ere K rsna.

som e­ times erroneously referred to as the ‘ H indu trin ity’ : Brahm a. piles up mountains and divides her into seven continents. such as Balaram a. and b y the eighth century c e the standard num ber o f descent-form s in the Vaisnava Puranas is ten. w h o has tried to destroy his son Prahlada. I take on existence from aeon to aeon. is saved from a cosm ic deluge b y the F ish . A lth ough particular incarnations are not m entioned here. A p art from this list. Vam ana (‘The D w a rf’). objects emerge. L a stly K alk i.19 The Tortoise places him self at the bottom o f the ocean o f m ilk as the support fo r the m ountain M andara. including the nectar o f im m ortality (am rta). K urm a (‘Th e Tortoise’). The B oar rescues the Earth.20 N arasim ha. destroys the w icked dem on H iran yakasipu. ‘The W hite H o rse’ . Varaha (‘The B o a r’). pleasureseeking figure. a devotee o f Visnu (see above). personified as a G oddess. a rustic. later regarded as an incarnation o f the three gods. Ram a or Ram acandra. This picture is further com plicated b y the idea o f portions o f Visnu (am sa) m anifested in history. the m an -lion. Buddha and K alk l. Visnu and Siva. w hich is then used as a stick b y the gods and dem ons to churn the cosm ic ocean. some other figures are mentioned as incarnations in the Puranas. from w hich various desired. Krsna. N arasim ha (‘The M a n -L io n ’ ). The Buddha is a curious inclusion in this list: an incarnation sent to lead the wicked and the dem ons astray and so to hasten the end o f the current age o f darkness (k a li-yu g a ).An introduction to Hinduism crcate myself. in order to re-establish the Law (dharm a). The M atsya P u r ana tells h ow the first man. M anu. destruction and recreation o f the cosm os. Parasuram a is incarnated to d estroy the arrogant K satriyas w h o threaten the Brahm ans. The m yth o lo gy o f these incarnations focuses upon the creation. w hile Ram acandra and K rsn a are the hero kings o f the epics. and D attatreya. for the rescue of the good and the destruction of the evil. and unde­ sired. These are M atsya (‘The F ish ’). they do begin to appear in the later epic literature in varyin g num bers. These incarnations are represented as appearing during different w orld ages iyuga) w hich display signs o f grad­ ual degeneracy from the first to the fourth or dark age (see above). w ill com e at the end o f the dark age to d estroy the w icked 11 6 . H ayagrlva (‘ H o rse-n eck ed’) w h o recovered the Veda stolen b y Titans (daityas).18 This is a clear statement o f the doctrine. from the bottom o f the cosm ic ocean and brings her to the surface w here he spreads her out. K rsn a’s brother. Parasuram a (‘Ram a w ith the axe’). The D w a rf avatara strides across the universe in three steps and destroys the dem on Bali (see above).

originally inde­ pendent deities.N arrative traditions and early Vaisnavism and restore purity and righteousness. The doctrine and m yth ology o f the incarnations is im portant in Vaisnavism for it emphasizes the suprem acy and transcendence o f Visnu. the term can be applied w ith m ore justification to the great theistic traditions o f Vaisnavism and Saivism . In its early stages. reserving ‘Vaisnavism ’ fo r cults focusing on Visnu in w hich K rsn a is m erely an incarnation. The a vatar a doctrine allow s fo r the universalizing claim o f V isnu ’s total world-transcendence. F o r example. aquatic life form s to higher life form s living on the land. w hich is yet expressed in finitude. In this h istory Visnu becom es fused w ith other. The Visnu Purana says that all beings. including the gods. rituals and social organizations. indeed. Balaram a. usually from the perspective o f a particular group. These are religions w ith revealed. rather than the transcendent being 117 . Vaisnavism represents the m erging o f the religions o f a num ber o f different social groupings from both north and south India. the term ‘ K rsn aism ’ has been used to describe the cults o f K rsna. o f the descent-form s m ay have had an independent life w ith cults o f their ow n. K rsna him self was a distinct deity incorporated into the m ain­ stream tradition. Literature in Sanskrit attests to the existence o f a num ber o f originally independent deities .and cults focused upon them . K rsna and N arayana. developed doctrines.21 M ythological texts are never neutral but alw ays present a particular angle or view point. w orsh ip V isn u’s incarna­ tions. We shall firstly describe the form ation o f Vaisnavism in the northern traditions before m oving on to the southern. Indeed. K rsn a’s brother.w h o became fused w ith Visnu. authoritative texts. O f these deities K rsna is p ar­ ticularly im portant and Vaisnava traditions tend to cluster around either V isnu or Krsna. and the traditions w hich focused upon these deities becom e merged in the Vaisnava tradition. Early Vaisnava traditions The early h istory o f the developm ent o f Visnu and his w orship is high ly com plex. W hile there are difficulties in applying the w estern term ‘ religion’ to H induism as a w hole before the nineteenth century.22 This allows fo r nonVaisnava deities to be incorporated into the Vaisnava tradition and fo r other cults to be colonized b y Vaisnava ideology. and allow s fo r Vaisnavism to incorporate other traditions. fo r his suprem e form is u nknow able. Som e. w as a distinct fertility deity and. if not all. particularly Vasudeva. We see in these incarnations a m ove­ ment from lower.

K rsn a-G o p ala and N arayana. w h o in turn all becom e identified w ith V isn u . rather than an abstract absolute (nirguna ). as the traditions intersect over time. however. and then m ove on to d e s c r ib e the traditions associated w ith them. To help clarify this com plex p ic t u r e . P u t simply. w ith V asudeva becom ing a term used fo r the Pancaratrin’s absolute. w hile N arayan a was w o rs h ip p e d b y the Pancaratra sect. m ore com plex t h a n this. he creates.the Lord is the ‘Supreme Person’ (purusottama) with personal qualities (saguna). t h e r e are certain features w hich are held in com mon: . temple icons. in his incarnations (avatara) and in sain ts. . w e shall firstly describe the form ation o f the three deities V a su d e v a -K rs n a . and N arayan a becom e merged in V a isn avism .23 The independent cults o f V a su d e v a -K rsn a . Figure 4 The development of Vaisnava traditions him self.An introduction to Hinduism Visnu in the Veda Vaikhanasa ---Páñcarátra * Tamil sources Bhàgavata K rsn a-G o p ala ♦ i y P u r a n ic V aisnavism V a is n a v a Sam pradàyas -M r ▼ m odern Vaikhanasas Sri V aisnava G a u d ly a V allabhacârya etc. maintains and destroys* it.. 118 .the Lord is the cause of the co sm o s. Yet in spite o f the diversity o f traditions w ithin the Vaisnava fold. K r s n a . E a rly Vaisnava w orsh ip focuses o n three deities w h o becom e fused together. V asu d eva-K rsn a and K rsn a-G o p ala w ere w orshipped b y groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas. The picture is. K rsn a-G o pala.the Lord reveals himself through sacred scriptures. .G o p a la and N arayan a. nam ely V asudeva-K rsna. itself a term used to encompass a num ber o f distinct traditions (sam prczdaya).

The w orship o f Vàsudeva is recorded as early as the fifth or sixth centuries b c e . M egasthenes. though it is im possible to trace a line back to an original Vàsudeva. particularly the B h a g a v a d -G ïtâ . a devotee o f Vasudeva. The Vrsnis became fused with the Yâdavas. B y the second century b c e V âsu d eva-K rsn a was w orshipped as a 119 .25 Vasudeva is m entioned in the B h a g a v a d G ïtâ 2() and in the gram m arian Patanjali’s M ahàbhâsya (‘ G reat C o m m en tary’ ).28 There is a reference to K rsna in the C hdn dogya U p a n isa d 2C ) a reference w hich. Tw o centuries later another G reek is p ro b a­ b ly the case that K rsna was a deified king or hero. records that the people o f M athura on the river Yam una revered H eracles. indeed. was the supreme deity o f a tribe called the V rsnis or Satvatas and m ay have o rigi­ nated as a V rsni hero or king. for his devotees. he is one o f the central focuses o f that text. The historicity o f K rsna is im possible to assess from sources in w hich hagiography and his­ to ry are inextricably bound together. K rsn a appears as the chief o f the Yâdavas o f D vâraka. In the M ah âbh ârata. the historicity o f K rsna is im portant fo r the tradition. and. w hich show s that the V asudeva religion was adopted b y (at least some of) the G reeks w ho ruled Bactria in the far north-w est. H eliodorus describes him self as a bb d ga va ta . a G reek am bassador to the court o f K in g C andragupta M aurya (c. and Vaisnavas believe that he was a historical personage. H ow ever. being m entioned b y the fam ous gram m arian Pânini in his book o f gramm ar the A stâ dbyâyi. says on an inscription found at Besnagar in M ad hya Pradesh. 3 20 b ce) at Pataliputra. present-day D w arka on the north-w est coast. thought to be the nearest G reek equivalent o f V asudeva. K rsna was a deity o f the Y âdava clan. W hile it is im possible to arrive back at an original K rsna . w h o p rob ab ly became fused w ith the deity Vasudeva. the Pali canon written dow n in the first century b c e .K R S N A Vàsudeva. also m ention the w orshippers o f Vasudeva in a list o f various religious sects. H eliodorus. places K rsn a w ithin the vedic fram e o f reference. the tribe o f Krsna.2^ H ere he explains the term v âsu d eva ka as referring to a devotee (bh akta) o f the god Vasudeva.the historical form ation o f the deity is too com plex . w ho becom cs identified with Krsna and Visnu. The scriptures o f the Theravâda Buddhists. w here he describes V asudeva as belonging to the Vrsni tribe. 150 b c e ) . 1 1 5 b c e ) .27 a com m entary on Pânini (c. that he erected a co l­ umn w ith an image o f G aruda at the top in honour o f V asudeva (c.Narrative h adHums and early Vaisnavism T H E C U L T OF V A S U D E V A .

a settlement o f cow herds o f the A bhlras clan. T H E C U L T OF N A R A Y A N A The cult o f N arayan a is another im portant ingredient in the fusion o f tra­ ditions w hich form s Vaisnavism. such as Ja y ad ev a ’s G itago vin da (twelfth century) w hich extols the love between K rsn a and his favourite gop i. These stories. Radha. N arayan a is a deity found in the Satapatha Brahm ana:31 where he is identified w ith the cosm ic man (purusa). three times in the H hagavad G ita ^ as sy n o n y ­ m ous w ith Visnu. describe K rsn a-G o p ala as an am orous you ng man. dancing and m aking love w ith the cow girls (gopis).33 both o f which are characteristics o f Visnu. fo r exam ple.G O PAL A B y the fourth century ce the Bhagavata tradition. N arayan a appears in the M ahanarayana 120 . the protector o f cattle. The H arivam sa is dated to the first few centuries o f the com ­ m on era and sees itself as supplying inform ation about K rsna before the events o f the M ahabharata war. T H E C U L T OF K R S N A . H is name. absorbs another tradition. and particularly the B hagavata P u ran a. nam ely the cult o f K rsna as a you ng man in Vrndavana: K rsn a-G o pala.32 and in the N a ra ya n iya section o f the M ahabharata he is the resting place and goal o f m en. a tribal god o f the A bhlras. though this text was com posed in the south under the strong influence o f south Indian em otional devotionalism .An introduction to I hndiiism distinct deity and finally identified wilh Visnu in the M ahabharata. wandering w ith his brother Balaram a through the forest o f Vrndavana. and in the p oetry o f Candidas and V idyapati (fourteenth century). means ‘resting on the w aters’ . w hich are so im portant as the focus o f later devotional and folk traditions. The H arivam sa directly influenced the Visnu Purana w hich in turn influenced the B h agavata P uran a. according to M a n u . The H arivam sa (the ‘ appendix’ to the M ah abh arata). w ho possib ly originates outside the vedic pantheon as a nonvedic deity from the H indu K ush mountains. appearing. the tradition about V asu d eva-K rsn a in the M ah abh arata. the Visnu Puran a. em body narrative traditions about K rsn a as a b o y and yo u n g man in G o ku la. that is. K rsn a-G op ala. on the banks o f the Yam una. w ere pastoral deities w ho became assim ilated into the Vaisnava tradition. The erotic exploits o f the yo u n g K rsna becom e * highlighted in later Vaisnava poetry. along w ith his brother Balaram a or Samkarsana. destroying dem ons.

different form s o f Visnu still becom e favoured above others b y devotees o f particular Vaisnava traditions. Th e cosm os below the vyu has is . on a giant snake in an ocean o f m ilk. he is an incarnation o f V isnu. and therefore subordinated to Visnu. respectively. the term V asudeva is also used. The doctrines o f the Pancaratra are m entioned in the N a ra ya n lya section o f the M ahabh arata37 where Bhagavan N arayan a. a figure w h o has fused w ith o rigi­ nally distinct deities and various elements from the m ythologies o f those deities over the centuries. which praises him as the absolute and highest deity w ho yet dw ells in the heart. like Visnu. his son. he is the suprem e deity. is regarded as the preceptor o f the Pancaratra tradition. the ‘pure creation’. lying.35 H ere N arayan a has clearly becom e identified w ith Visnu. These begin w ith V asuveda w h o manifests Sam karsana. F o r some Vaisnavas. N arayan a dw ells in his heaven o f ‘ white island’ where he lies on the b od y o f Sesa w ith Laksm I sitting at his feet. w hile below this are intermediate or ‘m ixed’ creation and the ‘ im pure’ or ‘ m aterial’ creation. w hile fo r others.N arrative traditions and early Vaimavism IJpanisad34 (com posed around the fourth century hck ). T h e P a n c a ra tra The tradition associated w ith the w orsh ip o f N arayan a is the Pancaratra.The name ‘pancaratra’ (‘ five-night5) m ay w ell be derived from the ‘ five night sacrifice’ m entioned in the Satapatha B rahm an a . the Pancaratra is characterized b y a doctrine o f the m anifestation o f the absolute through a series o f emana­ tions or vyu h a s. he is the suprem e deity himself. from w h om A niruddha emerges. Yet although these form s becom e identified with each other.36 in which P u ru sa-N arayana conceives the idea o f a sacrifice lasting five nights w h ereb y he w ou ld becom e the highest being. w h o pervades the universe and is seen in all religious system s. Indeed. This series o f vyu h a emanations com prise the highest level o f the universe. This is particularly salient w ith regard to Krsna. such as the G au d iya Vaisnavas. In the M ahabharata and in some Puranas. Visnu is therefore a com posite figure. A ccordin g to a later text o f the eleventh century. These are the names o f K rsn a’s elder brother. and grandson. w h o in turn manifests Pradyum na. such as the Sri Vaisnavas. the Kathasaritsagara. w hich manifests through Pradyum na. Each vyu h a has a cosm ological function w ith regard to the low er creation. Yet although N arayan a denotes their supreme deity. though the familial relation is not particularly significant in the cosm olo gy o f the system .

and the A hirbudhnya Samhita and Laksm l Tantra should also be mentioned as im portant texts within the tradition. rejected the authority o f the Tantras. Indeed. 15 8 . A p art from the N arayaniya section o f the M ahabharata .6 1). The m ost im portant o f these texts are the ‘three gem s’ o f the Pauskara . initiation (1diksa ).pure creation I I made up o f categories (tattva ) some o f w hich have their origin in the earlier philosophical system o f Sam khya (see p. texts w hich w ere rejected b y m any orthodox Brahm ans. ritual. The texts form the basis o f w orsh ip in south Indian temples to this day. w ith vedic mantras replacing tantric mantras and vedic deities replacing tantric deities. 23 2).38 The concerns o f this literature are cosm ology.An introduction to Hinduism The vyubas Vasudeva Samkarsana Pradyumna Aniruddha mixed creation impure creation Figure 5 Pancaratra cosmology I I . is classified as part o f a w ider group o f texts kn ow n as Agam as or Tantras (see pp.whether or not they could be classed as rev­ elation .. w hich bears witness to the early existence o f the tradition. kn o w n as the Pancaratra Samhitas. sacred form ulae (mantra) and temple building. w ith Y am una. The Pancaratra Samhitas represent ‘tantric’ Vaisnavism in contrast to an ‘ orth od ox’ vedic Vaisnavism o f the Bhagavatas. W hile this distinction should not be exaggerated. Pancaratra literature as a dis­ tinct genre develops o n ly from about the seventh or eighth centuries c e . it is nevertheless an im portant factor in that m any orthodox Brahm ans w h o accepted the authority o f the Veda. one o f the teachers o f the Sri Vaisnava tradition. the status o f the Pancaratra Samhitas w ithin Vaisnavism . This literature. arguing fo r the status o f these texts 122 . Sattvata and Jakakhya Samhitas .was an issue w hich provoked debate.

distinct from the Páñcarátra Samhitás. w hich describe kinds o f offerings and the w orship o f the L o rd in his form s as V isnu. those w h o fo llo w Bhagaván. where they remain to this day. The Bhágavatas B y the second century b c e . indivisible form . being w ithin the Taittiriya school o f the black Y aju r Veda. Purusa. The w orshippers o f this deity w ere Bhágavatas. w h o lly o rth o ­ dox and vedic. The G uptas. Satya and A cyu ta as the vyühas o f Vásudeva. installed in the inner sanctum o f a temple. In the tradi­ tion’s self-perception it is clearly distinguished from the ‘u n orth o d o x’ tantrika tradition o f the Páñcarátra. D urin g the w orship (puja). W ith V isn u ’s grace. There is some connection here w ith the Páñcarátra Samhitás.40 The daily ritual proceeds b y m aking the obligatory vedic offerings into the fire. or his divisible. The term bhágavata might have referred to a general tradition or orientation towards theistic concep­ tions and modes o f w orsh ip. Satya. movable form . particularly at the Tirupati temple. The sect has its ow n Vaikhanasasmárta Sütra (fourth century c e ) w hich describes daily w orship o f Visnu as a blend o f traditional vedic and nonvedic ritual. as w ell as the Buddhist Yogácára 123 . if not earlier. insisting on its orthodox or vaidika status. Visnu is welcom ed as a royal guest and given food offerings accom panied b y the recitation o f vedic and non-vedic mantras. particularly o f V ásudeva-K rsn a. the terms Vásudeva and K rsna w ere used to refer to the same deity. for the Jayakhya lists Purusa.39 One tradition of Brahmans who are associated with the Páñcarátra. sup­ ported the religion o f the Bhágavatas. rather than a specific sect in the sense that the Páñcarátrins or Vaikhánasas w ere specific sects. A cyu ta and Aniruddha. The Vaikhánasas The Vaikhánasa sect regards itself as a Vaisnava tradition. are the Vaikhánasas. but who remain distinct from them over this issue of ortho­ doxy. the devotee w ill attain liberation (moksa). a name w hich had developed to refer to a personal absolute or theistic G o d . There is also a collection o f Vaikhánasa Samhitás. a pilgrim age centre in A ndh ra Pradesh. and m aking offerings to Visnu in either his essential. w h o ruled during the fourth to sixth centuries c e . understood as entry into V isn u ’s heaven (vaikuntha).Narrative traditions am ! early Vaisnavism as revelation. The Vaikhánasas came to function as chief priests (arcaka) in m any south Indian Vaisnava temples.

This is not to say that the text does not have a specific theology. A lth ough it is im portant to get the fame o f the text into perspective . since then. The Vedänta tradition claims the G itä as its ow n .An introduction to Hinduism tradition. translated into m any European and Indian lan­ guages and reported to have been G an dh i’s favourite book. has had a non-sectarian and universalist appeal in H induism . The royal patronage of the Guptas suggests the wide influence and appeal o f the Bhägavata religion . the ‘ Song o f the L o r d ’. rather than the G itä . V äsudeva. particularly am ong m ore educated social groups. It did not. the central text o f the Bhägavatas. It was rew orked in vernacular languages. and it has even been referred to as the ‘ H in du N e w Testament’ . particularly Sankara. The terms K rsna. supreme. N um erous renditions have been made. as one o f three system s 124 . Indeed. a deity w hose qualities are articulated in the G ita. The first E nglish translation was made b y C harles W ilkins in 1 78 5.that it was m ore central to state life and culture than a n arrow ly defined sect. alw ays enjoy popu larity and such great interest has o n ly occurred since H indu revival movements o f the nineteenth century. w ith a preface b y W arren Hastings. in the villages.w e must nevertheless acknow ledge the text’s theological im portance as one w hich has pro vo k ed a num ber o f com ­ mentaries upon it b y fam ous H indu theologians. notably into a M arathi verse rendering b y Jnänesvara (thirteenth century). and Abhinavagupta in the Saiva tradition. how ever. it is the earthy stories o f the B hä gavata Puräna w hich have alw ays had much w ider appeal. the fam ous and eminent B h a g a v a d G itä . H ow ever. Visnu and Bhagavän all refer to the same. E ven G andhi read. b y fo r example the fam ous Transcendental M editation guru M aharishi M ahesh Y o gi and the H are K rsn a guru Srila Bhaktivedänta Swam i Prabhupada. w hich reflects the non-sect-specific nature o f the Bhägavata tradition. and was influenced b y the English rendering o f the G itä b y Sir E d w in A rn old . but that the theology was estab­ lished on a broad basis w ith royal and brahm anical support. T h e B h a g a v a d G itä The B h a g a v a d G itä . Räm änuja and M adhva in the Vedänta tradition. is perhaps the m ost fam ous o f the H indu scriptures. It has touched the hearts o f m illions o f people both in south A sia and throughout the w orld . though Vaisnavism remained the most important religion in the state.its mass appeal being a fairly recent phenom enon . and contem ­ p o rary com mentaries have appeared in English. per­ sonal deity fo r the Bhägavatas.

41 Regardless o f whether A rju na fights or not.dharma and renunciation are compatible: action (karma) should be performed with complete detachment. A rjuna is faced w ith a m oral dilemma: should he fight in the battle and so kill members o f his fam ily or w ou ld it not be better to renounce and go beg­ ging fo r alms. including the bh akti cult o f K rsna. reason. The text puts in narrative form the con ­ cerns o f H indu orth od oxy: the im portance o f dharm a and o f m aintaining social stability. So the one in the body discards aged bodies And joins with ones that are new. the text’s theology differs considerably from these others and it must be understood on its own terms. but rather: As a man discards his worn-out clothes A nd puts on different ones that are fight. The second. In response to his deep m isgivings. the im portance o f correct and responsible action. his action w ill not affect the eternal soul w hich journeys from b od y to b o d y in a series o f reincarna­ tions. fo r him. The main themes o f the G ita can be sum ­ marized as follow s: . become central.the Lord is reached through devotion (bhakti) by his grace. and the ideal o f non-violence (ahimsa). so K rsna gives tw o further reasons fo r A rju n a s involvem ent in the battle.the soul is immortal and until liberated is subject to rebirth. The G ita displays a num ber o f influences. along with the Upanisads and the Brahm a Sutra. Sam khya ph ilosoph y and even Uuddhist ideas and term inology. K rsna exhorts him to go to battle. however. and the one w hich convinces . it ‘is not killed nor does it k ill’ . the inevitable bloodshed o f the battle ? There is a conflict w ithin A rju n a betw een his duty . I lowcver. Firstly.N arrative trail mans and early Vaisnavism which constituted it. . and the importance o f devotion to the transcendent as a personal L o rd (not dis­ similar to the ideal king). rejects this argum ent and refuses to fight.the importance of dharma\ . the soul cannot be killed. thereby avoiding. m ore significant. A rju na. for not to do so w ou ld be unm anly and dishon­ ourable. O n the eve o f the great battle between the Pandavas and the K auravas. .the Lord is transcendent and immanent. perform ed with detachment. . espoused by the renouncer traditions. as a theology in which devotion to the Lord and action in the w orld for the sake o f social a w arrio r and son o f Pandu .

the Suprem e Person (purusottama). says to A rju na that although he is the creator o f the fo u r social classes (varna) he is not bound b y action (karma) and has no attachment to the results or fruits o f his actions. The war is lawful and should be fought to uphold dharm a. Krsna.An introduction to Hinduism Arjuna to fight. The term ‘action’ here refers to both everyday action in the w o rld and also to the traditional. even w om en and lo w castes can achieve liberation in this w ay. Indeed. A s the ancient sages w h o desired libera­ tion w ere detached from the result o f their ritual perform ances (karma). so too A rju n a should becom e detached and give over the results o f his acts to Krsna. one attains the state o f brahman and enters the L o rd through his grace (prasada). w hich. the unfolding o f K rsn a ’s divinity. an idea w hich is clearly im portant to the Gita.e. A man w h o understands the L o rd sim ilarly becom es detached from the fruit o f his actions. as L o rd . N o action accrues to a person w h o acts w ith a controlled mind. T h rou gh non-attachm ent to action. w ithin it. K rsn a responds to this request b y giving A rju n a a divine eye w ith w hich he can see K rsna as the creator and destroyer o f the universe: a cosmic form o f innum erable shapes and colours. through the asrama system). all gods and all creatures. a person w ill be liberated and be united w ith the L o rd at death. is detachment from the fruits o f action or ritual action. The path o f action (karma-yoga). w ithout expectation and contented w ith w hatever comes his way. containing the entire universe. a process w hich culm i­ nates in the theophany o f chapter n . is that it is Arjunas own duty (svudharma) and responsi­ bility as a warrior to do battle.44 The Gita expounds the idea that there are various paths (marga) to lib ­ eration. yet perform ing these actions w ith detach­ ment. The idea even 126 . as w e have seen.43 K rsn a gradually reveals his divinity to A rju n a. Yet above action is the path o f devotion (bhakti-yoga) as a w a y o f salvation.45 a statement in stark contrast to the orth odox brahmanical idea that on ly the tw ice-born have access to liberation through renunciation (i. O ne o f the m ost im portant messages that the text conveys is the necessity o f p er­ form ing one’s appropriate duty. to reveal his majestic or glorious form . is em phasized as a w a y o f reconciling w o rld ly com m itm ent w ith liberation. an idea w hich has been developed in m odern H induism . H ere A rju n a asks K rsna. and know ledge o f the L o rd . Th rough devotion. and the developm ent o f the paths to liberation.42 A num ber o f themes run through the text: the necessity o f doing o n es du ty w hich is nevertheless com patible w ith liberation. vedic ritual action.

particularly in the south o f India.47 The B h a g a v a d G ita is a rich and open text. that . This devotionalism is expressed in the ‘ fifth V eda’.Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavisrn appears here. These texts reflect a brahmanical appropriation o f popular traditions on the one hand. 127 . there is a bond of love between human and divine.i human being. is dear (priya) to the L ord . S u m m a ry D uring the last half o f the last m illennium b c e devotion (b h ak ti) to a per­ sonal L o rd (Bhagavan) began to develop in H indu traditions. fo r the first time in 1 linduism . the tradition o f the Epics and Puranas (Itihasa Purana). namely Arjuna. We shall n ow trace the developm ent o f this w orsh ip in later traditions.46 These paths o f action and devotion contrast with the path o f know ledge (jn a n a -yo ga ) mentioned in the text. and the ascendancy o f the ideal o f kingship on the other. as the variety o f interpretations placed upon it show. The theistic traditions centred on Visnu and Siva particularly begin to develop during this period and w e have traced here the rise o f Visnu and some o f the early traditions w hich w orshipped him or one o f his form s. whereas the Vaisnava Ram anuja regarded know ledge o n ly as a condition o f devotion. which refers to know ledge o f the absolute (brah m an) but also refers to the Sam khya system o f discrim inat­ ing the various constituents (tattva) o f the cosm os. Com m entators have put their ow n emphases on its diverse aspects: the m onist philosopher Sankara highlighted know ledge o f the absolute (jn d n a ).

as did the cults o f Visnu and K rsna.6 The love of Visnu • • So far w e have described the Sanskrit narrative traditions w hich developed in the north and focused on the religions o f Visnu reflected in that litera­ ture. from the south o f India. w h o seems to have been conversant w ith Sanskrit gramm atical to the first. Sanskritization is the process w h ereby local or regional form s o f culture and religion . literary genres . a tradition o f bardic p o etry developed w hich was gathered into a num ber o f anthologies collectively kn ow n as the C an kam literature. com posed in the D ravidian language o f Tamil.1 From the first century the sixth century c e bc e io o bce b c e and a descriptive gram m ar o f the early literary Tamil language. W hile „ the Sanskrit material is im portant in understanding the developm ent o f theism in India. its influence is equal to that o f the Sanskrit m ater­ ial. and perhaps through to . A lth ou gh it com es to have pan-H indu appeal. the B h a g a v a d G ita originated in the north. H ow ever.2 O nce established. was com posed around th inking. A ry an . Tamil began to be cultivated as a literary language around the th ird -fo u rth centuries Tolkappiyam . H indu Tamil culture thrived under the rule 128 . rituals. there is a vast b o d y o f devotional literature. Brahm ans.becom e identified w ith the ‘great tradition’ o f Sanskrit literature and culture: nam ely the culture and religion o f orthodox. both Saiva and Vaisnava. w hich accepts the Veda as revelation and. The earliest Tamil literature developed before the onset o f Sanskritization and so is originally quite distinct from Sanskrit literature. the Tamil literature had a deep effect upon that develop­ ment and.local deities. in the south. adheres to varn asram a-dharm a. generally. the b y a Ja in m onk in southern K erala.

w hich corresponds to a m ountainous landscape. indigenous Tamil deities became identified and absorbed into A ry an . and the im portant deity M urukan.iveri basin became as im portant in the developm ent o f H induism as the ( iangcs basin in the north. sym bolized b y vultures. 12 9 . a th riv­ ing Tamil culture flourished and Tamilnadu became the central region fo r i he developm ent o f H induism after the M uslim M ughals established their empire in the north. I he process o f Sanskritization only began to significantly influence the south after the first few centuries ce and Tamil deities and form s o f w o r­ ship became adapted to northern Sanskrit form s. the ‘ Eight A nth o logies’ and the ‘Ten Songs’ . These are love-m aking. In the process o f Sanskritization. Srirangam . correspondences which are furtherm ore identi­ fied w ith types o f flow er. nam ely Tamil p o etry and the Tamil d eity M urukan. orth od ox H indu doctrines and praci ices associated w ith brahmanical w orsh ip o f the deities and w ith the cult of the deified king.ihe love of Vimu ol the C h ola dyn asty from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries C E and the K. grew up at Cidam baram . M adurai and Tanjavur. These anthologies o f bardic poetry have tw o central concerns: love and war. w ith a desert flow er. K otravai the goddess o f w ar w ith D urga. nevertheless. starving elephants and robbers. w ith Siva’s son. w ith the m ountain flow er that bloom s every twelve years. Tamil culture was itself ve ry rich and any influences or cultural form s from the north were adapted and shaped b y indigenous Tamil w ays. sym bolized b y millet fields and waterfalls. Tamil poetry and culture Before the influence o f Sanskritic or brahm anical culture. The class o f love po etry is called akam (‘inside’ or ‘ internal’). w hich corresponds to an arid landscape. Yet. unsurpassed b y any in the north. The Tamil deities M udvalan and Tirum al became identified w ith Visnu and Siva. the god o f war. Skanda. sym bolized b y sharks and fisherm en. The class o f love po etry is particu­ larly significant fo r it classifies the inner em otions o f love (uri) into five groups w hich correspond to five types o f external landscape and their sym bolic representations. W ith regard to devo­ tional religion. separation. w aiting anxiously for the beloved. there are tw o im portant factors w hich allowed its develop­ ment in Tamil culture. These became bastions o f classical. Enorm ous temple com plexes. w hich corresponds to the seashore. The earliest bo d y o f the Carikam literature com prises tw o main groups. vedic deities. w hile the class o f w ar or heroic po etry is calledpu ram (‘ outside’ or ‘ external’ ).

and anger at a lo v e rs infidelity. Yet his presence here show s. firstly. and represented a ‘v e ry archaic and uni­ versally Indian form o f popular religion o f n o n -A ryan origin ’ . and w h o accepted blood sacrifice. and. p o t­ ters and farm ers. handsom e and heroic. w hich the C ankam literature hardly mentions. sym bolized by a bull. cou rtly sanction. The C ankam po etry reflects an elite culture w hich propagated an id eology o f a ve ry th is-w o rld ly nature.and goldsm iths. and absorbed into the H indu pantheon. This allow s fo r the w holehearted adoption o f bh ak ti and sets the scene fo r the poetry o f em otional devotion so characteristic o f Tamil religious litera­ ture. cow herd or the rainy sea­ son. secondly. w ou ld com prise manual labourers. iron. A god m entioned in the C ankam anthologies is M urukan. The significance o f this poetry is that we see w ithin Tamil culture a strong tradition o f em otional expression through verse and a pattern o f stylized or culturally classified em otional states associated w ith love. w ith the jasm ine flow er. fighting. depicting the ideal man living a m arried life. that this religion was far from the ascetic ideals o f renunciation and w orld-transcendence propagated in the U panisads and also b y the renouncer traditions o f Jainism and Buddhism . hunting and m aking love: a far cry from the ascetic ideal o f the northern renouncer tradition. that the ‘fo lk religion’ w hich he seems to represent was im portant and had official. and fo r the developm ent o f an em otional bh akti w hich was to signif­ icantly influence northern H indu culture. H e is a god o f both w ar and o f love. in the U panisads. a deity w h o is you ng. sym bolized by a stork or heron. A low er level o f society. H a rd y makes the point that the cult o f M urukan was not unlike fo lk religion in the north. the god o f war. which corresponds to an agricultural. H is cult m ay have been served b y priestesses and the texts indicate a possession cult in w hich yo u n g wom en became possessed b y the god and danced ‘in a fre n z y ’ (v e r l ayartal).6 The possession cult o f M urukan and a developed bardic tradition o f love-po etry allowed for the easy absorption o f a b h ak ti id eo lo gy from the 130 .3 W ithin this culture there was little idea o f transcendence.5 Indeed. Parpola has argued that M urukan was a deity o f the Indus valley civiliza­ tion w hose name is preserved in the Indus valley language. Rather.An introduction to / linduisni patiently waiting for a w ife. there is a concept o f the divine or supernatural (katavul) w hich can be manifested in possession. real or imagined.4 M urukan later became identified w ith Siva’s son Skanda. fo r example. as had been developed. which corresponds to a pastoral landscape. river-valley landscape. carpenters. states.

The narrative traditions and cult o f K rsna becom e firm ly i <m )ted i n the south. K rsna becomes M. w hile his disciple.8 The A lvars came from the w h ole social spectrum o f Tamil society.1 mil landscape. are poet-saints. 'Tradition maintains that there w ere tw elve A lva rs. em otional love fo r a personal Lord. T heir songs are still recited in Tamil homes and in temples <>n public occasions such as w eddings. w h o. between the sixth and ninth centuries. yoga and theology. and legend has it that she was absorbed into 131 . particularly those which developed in the south during the early medieval period. This intense devotion was expressed in the poetry o f the Vaisnava A lvars and the Saiva Nayanars. lih akti traditions often reject institutionalized form s o f religion. both Vaisnava and Saiva. D evotional form s o f religion. for both V isnu/K rsna and Siva. This kind o f devotional religion w hich emphasizes per­ sonal experience is often centred around a charismatic founder w h o is deified b y the later tradition. him self one o f the A lvars. N am m alvar was from a low -caste farm ing fam ily (vellala). as an intense. was a Brahm an.The love of Visnu nin th and a transformation of it into a particularly Tamil form. She came to be regarded as an incarnation o f V isnu ’s w ife Sri. and to help stem the grow th o f B uddhism and Jainism in the south. A ntal was the daughter o f a Brahm an priest o f the temple o f Srivillipputtur. illustrate these general tendencies. had developed in the south. was a w om an . linking into patterns o f culture already established. wandered from temple to temple in south India singing the praises o f Visnu. and was to influence later b h a k ti traditions both in the north and the south.7 the most fam ous o f whom is N am m alvar and one o f w hom . to convert m any people o f all castes to the w orship o f Visnu. The A jvars and the Tamil Veda The A lvars. revered in Vaisnava com munities. self-referential ego in an experience o f selfi ra nscending love. tend to si ress the devotee’s em otional outpouring fo r his or her deity and the sense ol losing the limited. B y I lu* seventh century c e bh akti. such as formal temple w orship. Krsna and ilie stories of Vrndavana begin to move south and infiltrate into the < arikam literature from as early as the third century C E . The bh akti traditions w hich developed in the south.iyon and his mythical landscape o f M athura becomes translated into a 1 . M aturakavi. ‘those imm ersed in go d ’. in favour o f an immediate experience o f the divine. A ntal. em bodied in a temple icon and expressed in narrative traditions. T h ey helped to establish pilgrim age sites (particularly at the fam ous tem ple at Srirangam).

W ithin this collection the m ost fam ous and influen­ tial text is the Tiruväym oli o f N am m älvär (c. dancing and singing o f the devotee. w hich contains 1. thereby reflecting the old Tamil poetic genres o f akam zndpuram . It attracted a num ber o f significant com mentaries and had impact beyond the south in B engali Vaisnavism . This is a religion o f longing. The other Ä lvärs w ere sim ilarly regarded as incarnations of Visnu or his deified regalia. T he songs o f the Ä lvars w ere collected in the tenth century by Nätham uni.referred to b y his Tamil name M äyö n (‘the D a rk O n e’) . the devotion o f longing (viraha bhakti ). kaustubha jewel. Indeed the Tamil tradition o f the Sri Vaisnavas is kn ow n as the ‘D ual V edanta’ (ubhaya vedänta) because it reveres both the Sanskrit tradition from the Veda and the Tamil tradition o f the Ä lvärs. In these poem s N am m älvär conveys the idea of V isn u’s transcendence and form lessness and yet the L o rd is also manifested in the form o f icons in particular tem ­ ples. so characteristic o f the Ä lvärs and later devotees o f K rsnaG opäla. in a co l­ lection know n as the T o u r Thousand D ivin e C o m p o sitio n s’ (Näläyira D ivyaprabandham or Prabandham fo r short). Later Vaisnava traditions The poetry and ecstatic bhakti o f the Ä lvärs influenced later traditions and was adopted b y devotees in different regions and at various temples 132 . is characteristic o f em otional devotionalism . both K in g and Lover. Indeed the form s o f the Ä lvärs themselves came to be treated as icons or manifestations o f the L o rd . The Tiruväymoli (‘the ten decads’ ) is regarded as equal to the Veda am ong Vaisnavas and is called the ‘Tamil Veda’ .000 verses o f songs to Visnu . and ammonite stone (sälagräma ). ecstasy and service to a personal L o rd w h o is beyond the cosm os and yet present in the w o rld in specific loca­ tions in the sacred geography o f Tamilnadu. This collection proved to be v e ry influential as a scriptural basis fo r the Sri Vaisnavas. the mace. The w eeping. The Tamil Veda contains songs o f em otional pow er. conch. H e is installed in temples and devotion to him must be seen in the context o f tem ple w orsh ip {pujä ) to these specific form s.An introduction to Hinduism V isn u ’s icon in the fam ous Vaisnava temple of Srirangam. 880-930). a theologian and a founding father o f the Sri Vaisnava com m unity. possessed b y the god. expressing the p o et’s devotion to Visnu in m any o f the form s in w hich he is installed in the temples o f Tamilnadu. These ‘poem s’ w ere intended to be sung and so are more akin to bardic com positions than to the m ore form al Sanskrit p oetry (kävya) o f the court.

1* Devotionalism. based respectively on the teachings o f Ram anuja (c. and N im bárka (twelfth century) w h o emphasizes total surrender to the guru. the famous Sri Vaisnava theologian. as Fuller has observed. but there w ere also m ore » philosophical texts in Sanskrit such as the B h a k tiSütra o f Sándilya (eighth century c e ). especially in the south. The h istor­ ical reality o f the developm ent o f Vaisnavism is. the dualist theologian. was influenced by Tamil devotionalism. The Bhdgavata Purina.1 1 3 7 ) . more com plex 133 . C laim ing descent from a particular saint is. in contrast to the gnostic uly vision of the body and senses as the prison of the soul. cognition. his parent . The N árada Bhakti Sütra (possibly tw elfth century) says that K rsn a should be w orshipped in varying degrees o f em otional attachment: from perception o f the L o rd ’s majestic glo ry to experiencing the various emoi ions associated w ith the roles o f K rsn a’s slave. and expressed in ver­ nacular languages. four traditions or sampradayas are highlighted. expounded by m hiu* systems such as Sámkhya. however. rather than their control through yoga.9 The early medieval period saw the rise o f regional kingdom s and the popularization o f brahmanical ritual and m yth o lo gy w hich sometimes came to be fused w ith regional and local traditions. however.10 Within Vaisnavism . A num ber o f traditions developed in Vaisnavism du r­ ing the m edieval period. his com panion. p rob ab ly evolved gradually over a long period.I 'he love o f Visnu throughout the land. The bhakti tradition placed emphasis on IIn body. the ‘pure non-dualist’. particularly in Bengal. M an y o f these traditions are associated w ith a particular individual saint as their founder. 1 0 1 7 . composed in Sanskrit in the m iiIi. the emotions and the embodied forms of the Lord which * • ihi Id be seen and worshipped. transpersonal brahman. and emphasized the Im as a sacred locus of the Lord in the world. as was Sanskrit devotional m pi » 1 ry and northern forms of Vaisnavism. These orders also needed to locate themselves in a w ider social context and needed the support o f the laity finally his w ife. the patronage o f the k in g. particularly. Some « 1 i he most fervent bhakti poetry was in Tamil. Vallabha ( 14 7 9 -15 3 1). and the abstract. im portant in order to establish a pu pillary succession and so validate the tradition’s authenticity. rather than on the idea of the soul’s worldII anscendence. Yet bhakti alw ays retained an em otional dim ension and placed emphasis on affective experience rather than cognitive understand iii)'. though m ost o f the earlier ones. emphasized the expression of »•inn! ions. M adhva (thirteenth century).

This in turn influenced devotion to K rsn a in Bengal. accepting householders o f both. w hich refers to a tradition focused on a deity. all castes including U ntouchables. disputes over succession. particularly in traditions which see the guru as the em bodiment o f the divine. w ay. These sampradäyas developed w ithin the w ider m ainstream o f brahmanical w orship based on the Smrti texts. ‘ ord er5 or ‘tradition’ is a rough equivalent o f the Sanskrit term sampradäya . just m entioned. N im bärka and Vallabha. the Tantras. possessing the pow er to bestow the L o r d ’s grace on his d evo­ tees. w hile the sect o f Tukäräm view ed the devotional relationship as one o f servant to master. Indeed the Vaisnava sampradäyas generally located themselves w ithin the context o f Smärta w orsh ip. into w hich a disciple is initiated b y a guru. and the cult o f Vithobä or Vitthala in M aharashtra. W ith initiation (diksä ) into the sampradäya the disciple undertakes to abide b y the values o f the tradition and com m unity. originating w ith the founding father or po ssib ly the deity. The term ‘ sect’ . The idea o f pu pillary succession is extrem ely im portant in all form s o f H induism as this authenticates the tradition and teachings. w hat is significant here is that the relationship between the devotee and the L o rd is m odelled on human rela- 134 . each guru is seen to be w ithin a line o f gurus. fo r example. The relationship between the disciple and the L o rd could be one o f servant to master. A num ber o f devotional attitudes to the personal absolute developed. particularly the Sri Vaisnava and G au d lya Vaisnava traditions w hich are squarely in the vedic. directly influenced by the Ä lvars. he or she receives a new name and a mantra particularly sacred to that tradition. often associated w ith different sampradäyas. puranic tradition. was that o f the Sri Vaisnavas. especially the Puränas. possibly.An introduction to Hinduism than this. founded by the Vaisnava theologians and saints. friend to friend. as well as the orders. H ow ever. Th e most im portant order in the south. but incorporated these form s in a respectable. or G au d lya Vaisnavism. Furtherm ore. yet w hich nevertheless have absorbed m any ele­ ments from the non-vedic Tantras. o f parent to child. regarded the attitude o f the lover to the beloved as the highest expression o f devotion. A sam­ pradäya m ight demand celibacy and com prise o n ly w orld-renouncers. Smärta w orsh ip (based on smrti) was itself pervaded b y form s and ideas derived from non-vedic revelation. vedic. genders and. can be o f deep religious concern. or lover to beloved. M adhva. or it might have a much w ider social base. w hich have sometimes been vehem ent. a santäna or param parä . often regional in character. The Bengali Vaisnavas.

135 .the northern Sant tradition. w hich developed in Tamilnadu. They revere the teachings of the Bengali saint. Their teachings are derived from the saints (sant) Jnanesvara.TheloveofVisnu lionships and that the Lord can be perceived and approached in a variety nl ways: the love of God takes many forms. and focus their devotion on Krsna and Radha. . the founder of Sikhism. Orissa and Vrndavana. . While it is im portant to remem ber that there is a strong element o f per­ sonal seeking and devotion w ithin bhakti wom en. T H E SRI VAISNAVA T R A D I T I O N The Sri Vaisnava tradition.the cult of Rama located mainly in the north-east at Ayodhya and Janakpur and associated with an annual festival of Ramllla in which the Ramayana is performed. nevertheless some are m ore tolerant o f non-discrim ination on the grounds o f caste and gender than others.the Gaudlya or Bengali Vaisnavas located mainly in Bengal. that is b y caste and gender. the cult of Vithoba in Maharashtra. The Sri Vaisnavas.the Sri Vaisnavas located in Tamilnadu whose centre is the temple at Srirangam. . restrict lower-caste access to their tem ple at Srirangam . the northern Sanskrit tradi­ tion o f the Pancaratra and puranic w orsh ip o f Visnu. fo r example. Namdev. Especially venerated are Kablr and Nanak. w ith its emphasis on the L o rd as the transcendent cause and sustaining pow er o f the cosm os. this tradition nevertheless derives much of its teachings and names of G od from Vaisnavism. E ven though at an ideological ( level most bhakti traditions have m aintained that caste and gender are immaterial to devotion and final salvation. Caitanya. worshipping a transcendent Lord beyond qualities. Janabai etc. the form s that this devotion will take have been moulded b y the devotee’s place w ithin the > k i. while not being strictly Vaisnava. w hile (> her sects such as the Raidasis are themselves low -caste. particularly in the pilgrimage centre of Pandharpur. for whom the theology of Ramanuja is particularly important. w hile not excluding lo w er castes . inherited a dual vision o f the universe: on the one hand. The m ost im pori u n t Vaisnava orders and cults are: . The ascetic Ramanandl order is devoted to Rama and Slta.11hierarchy.

w as Räm änuja (c. was Nätham uni (tenth century c e ) w h o collected the songs o f the Ä lvars in his P raban dh am . thereby elevating the status o f the Tamil text. the Vaisnava religious centre and m ythological hom e o f K rsna. and the theolo­ gies o f the B h a g a v a d G itä . w ho was a Sudra. w here he received a vision o f Visnu in the form Mannanär. the southern Tamil tradition of longing devotion to a personal Lord installed within specific temple icons. noted fo r his defence o f the Päncaratra Ägam as as having revelatory status and o f the Päncaratra ritual as being equal to orth odox brahm anical rites. m an ip raväla. The Sri Vaisnavas also revered a line o f teachers (äcärya) w ho functioned as the­ ologians and interpreters o f the tradition and as hierarchs o f the order. The Sri Vaisnavas therefore revered sacred scriptures in Sanskrit. Räm änuja w rote in Sanskrit. and the founder o f the Sri Vaisnavas. W hile his em otional and aesthetic inspiration came from the Tamil poet-saints. but became the recognized leader o f the com m unity. became the next Sri Vaisnava äcärya. the Visnu Puräna and the Päncarätra Ägam as. N ätham uni^ grandson.1 1 3 7 ) . particularly the Vedanta. w rote a com m entary on N am m älvär’s T iru väym o li in a language w hich was a m ixture o f Sanskrit and Tamil. but he was in flu ­ enced b y the bh akti p oetry o f the Ä lvärs. N ätham uni is said to have gone on pilgrim age to Vrndävana in the north. both the Vedas and the Päncarätra Ägam as or Samhitäs. and the Tamil songs o f the Ä lvars. N atham un i’s main intellectual inheritance was the Sanskrit philosophical tradition.12 Salvation or liberation fo r the Sri Vaisnavas was conceived as transcend­ ing the cycle o f reincarnation (samsära) and karm a and going to V isn u 5 s 13 6 . firstly in the temple o f M annanär and later in the Visnu temple at Srirangam w hich became the centre o f the Sri Vaisnava com m unity. H e is attributed w ith founding the Sri Vaisnava tradition and legitimated the tradition b y establishing a lineage w ith the Tamil Ä lvärs. 243). H e did so and became an administrator. 1 0 1 7 . Pillän. Pillän. implies here that caste is not an impediment to salvation. the first text in a D ravidian language to have com ­ m entary written on it. H is favoured disciple. devel­ oping a Vaisnava th eology and interpretation o f the Vedänta tradition in the light o f his theism. w hose influence was to extend throughout H induism . In the vision the god told him to return to his hom e tow n.An introduction to Hinduism and. Yäm una.11 The m ost fam ous Sri Vaisnava leader. H e did not directly meet Yäm una. on the other. w hich became kn ow n as ‘ qualified non-dualism ’ (visistädvaita\ see p. the icon in his local temple in Tamilnadu. The first o f these äcäryas.

on the other hand. D o not fear. This state is iti liieved through attachment to the I . and non-Brahm an castes w h o w orshipped and became possessed b y local village deities. and so are lib er­ ated through surrender. those w h o are tw ice-born and lib ­ erated through the perform ance o f ritual devotion and those o f lo w er castes w h o cannot perform ritual devotion in the temples. This distinction is brought out in tw o under­ standings o f a passage in the Bhagavad Gita ( i 8. more specifically. consisting o f Brahm ans and nonBrahm ans. There is also a path o f total surrender (prapatti) in w hich the devotee gives him self up to the L o rd w h o saves him through an act o f unmerited divine grace (saranagati). existed w ithin the w ider social context o f Brahm ans w h o adhered to the puranic w orship o f Visnu and other deities. the Sri Vaisnava com m unity 11.ord and detachm ent from the w orld . traditional bhakti-yoga and the esoteric. the fam ous carama-sloka . where the soul is united with the Lord in a loving relationship. In the form er there is some emphasis on effort and human agency. path o f surrender {prapatti). w hich reads ‘A bandoning all law s seek shelter in me alone. the vatakalai theologian.’ T he tenkalai understood this pas­ sage to mean that there w ere tw o distinct paths. as a baby m onkey clings to its mother as she moves through the trees. oi. These tw o theologies became kn ow n as i lie ‘ m onkey’ and ‘ cat’ schools respectively. I will save yo u from all sins. w hile the tenkalai em phasized the Tamil scriptures and s 111 render to the L o rd b y his grace. claim ing that the devotee is saved o n ly i hrough grace. nam ely the Smartas.66). About 200 years after Ram anuja’s death.¡he love ofVisnu In . salvanon is achieved b y both effort and grace. maintained that the verse referred to tw o groups o f people. emphasized the grace o f the L o rd . The Sri Vaisnavas encompass high-caste levels o f 137 .13 The Sri Vaisnava com m unity. The vatakalai em phasized the Sanskrit .in uvatara). that is devotion io the temple icon. in the latter the emphasis is entirely on the p.ul split into sub-sects called the ‘northern culture’ (vatakalai ) and the 'southern culture’ (< tenkalai ).won (vaikuntha ) at death. Vedantadesika (i 26 9 -130 7 ). through the religious practice (upasana ) o f devotion i n I service (seva ) to the Lord in one o f his incarnations in temple icons < (.( t iptures and salvation through traditional bhakti-yoga .i ace and agency o f the Lord. In the ‘m o n k ey’ school. w hile the L o rd saves him. while yet maintaining its distinction. the devotee clings to G o d i hrough his effort. O n the other hand. T he ‘cat’ school. as a m other cat picks up her yo u n g and carries them w ith ­ out any effort on their part. superior.

W hile they meet secretly in the forest fo r their love-play. expressed her deep em o­ tional longing for Krsna. separation and reunion o f the lovers.the pre­ scribed vocabulary. the theme o f the poem is the union. particularly around V rndävana and in Bengal. characteristic o f bh a k ti. 1 17 9 -12 0 9 ). a poetry w hich was ornate and baroque^ expressing prescribed em otions in a particular form . the G lta g o v in d a .15 Th eir poetry. and found articulation in Sanskrit devotional and poetic litera­ ture as w ell as in m ore popular devotional m ovem ents. a poet under his patronage. described in classical p oetry (. w h o used the form al conventions o f k ä v y a .An introduction to Hinduism Sanskrit learning and theological tradition. there was a thriving tradition o f co u rtly love p o etry in Sanskrit. com posed a fam ous poem . while at the same time having a w ide popular appeal even am ongst low er castes. A s w ith co u rtly poetry generally. the G au d lya Vaisnava tradition devel­ oped a th eology in w hich the categories o f aesthetic experience. GA UD lYA VAISNAVISM D evotional traditions focused on K rsna the C o w h erd developed in north ­ ern express the love o f Rädhä fo r K rsna and.14 Jayad eva is a high-class poet in the classi­ cal k ä v y a tradition. the ornamental language and the stock metaphors .k ä v y a ). as the devotee longs fo r the Lo rd . b y im plication. B y the early medieval period. Yet while the devotionalism o f the Ä lvärs had been ecstatic. the lovers yet k n o w that w ith the daw n they must be separated. occurring in the context o f form al temple ritual. die out with the Ä lvärs but developed in northern Vaisnavism . written from the point o f view o f Rädhä. a fact w hich causes great longing (viraha) until their next meeting. A lth ou gh in Saivism a direct correspondence between the religious and the aesthetic had been perceived. This tradition o f poetry focused on the love o f K rsn a and R ädhä continued. however. H e writes: 138 . In the court o f the Bengali K in g Laksm anasena (c. about the love o f K rsna and Rädhä his m istress. w hen he describes Rädhä hearing the sound o f K rsn a’s flute. This ecstatic dim ension in bh a k ti traditions did not. particularly in Bengal. o f the devotee for Krsna. particularly w ith the Bengali p o etry o f Candldäsa and the M athili verses o f Vidyäpati (fourteenth/fifteenth cen tu ry). The form o f Vaisnavism w hich grew in Bengal (G audlya) developed a theology w hich laid great emphasis on devotion and the love relationship between the devotee and K rsna. Candldäsa b eautifully expresses the essential longing. came to be applied to devotional religious experience. Jayad eva. the devotion o f the Sri Vaisnavas was controlled.

ecstatic experience o f the divine love-play (lila ) between Radha and K rsna in a spiritual or perfected body. though w ith an eroticism w hich is regarded as transcendent and not w orld ly. C aitan ya and his follow ers would accom pany the carriage. thirsty and lost. ( laitanya spent the rem ainder of his life at Puri. he nevertheless firm ly established G au d iya Vaisnavism and determ ined its style and flavour. during his annual festival. In 1 5 1 0 C aitanya took form al vows o f renunciation and m oved to the pilgrim age tow n o f Puri in O rissa where K rsna is w orshipped as L o rd Jagannatha in the fam ous temple. The eroticism o f G au d iya devotion is perhaps not dissim ilar to the ‘ bride-m ysticism ’ (brautm ystik) o f C hristian m ystical theology. w h o is regarded as an incarnation o f K rsna and Radha in one body.I he love of Visnu Let us not talk of that fatal flute. the L o rd Jagannatha is paraded out of 1 he temple in a huge processional carriage. In 1508 he w ent to G a y a lo perform a mem orial rite for his deceased father. Krsna]. a love w hich is strongly erotic. H e generated a tradition which continues to this day. by w riting a com m entary on the B rahm a Sutra. C aitanya was brought up in a Vaisnava Brahm an fam ily where he had a conventional Sanskrit education. A devoted wife forgets her spouse To be drawn like a deer. w orshipping Radha and Krsna. and in the West is m anifested as the H are K 1 sna movement. This erotic love and attraction between Radha and K rsna is ‘pure love’ (prema) as opposed x39 .17 A lthough C aitan ya was not the founder o f an order in a form al sense. The central focus o f G au d iya Vaisnava devotion is the love between Radha and Krsna. the figure w h o did m ost to prom ote K rsna b h ak ti was Kisnacaitanya or sim ply C aitanya ( 14 8 6 -15 3 3 ). innocent girl do?16 I lowever. What then can a helpless. and frequently going into ecstatic states. H e began to experience ecstalic or possessed states o f consciousness. Even the wisest ascetics lose their minds And the plants and trees delight in its sound. Indeed. I ach year. There he had a con ver­ sion experience induced b y a south Indian renouncer w h o initiated him into the w orship o f Krsna. liberation fo r the G au d iya Vaisnavas is the constant. H e returned to his hom e tow n o f N avadvipa (N abadw ip) in Bengal where he began to w orsh ip K rsna w ith a group o f devotees b y singing or chanting his praises. It calls a woman away from her home and drags her by the hair to that Shyam [i. dancing and singing the L o r d s praise.e.

In loving K rsna. she is an older married w om an and the love between her and K rsna is conventionally adulterous. maintains and destroys the cosm os over and over again. rejects these practices as a m isun­ derstanding o f a p rofoun d spirituality.19 The G au d iya Vaisnava tradition. and an erotic devotional th eology was developed b y six o f C aitan ya’s disciples.An introduction to Hinduism to an im pure w o rld ly love pervaded by selfish desire (lcama). the Ujjvala-m lam ani (‘The Splendid B lue Je w e l’) and the Bhaktirasamrta-sindhu (‘The O cean o f the Im m ortal N ectar o f D evo tio n ’20).as the soul’s longing for the L o rd is the highest hum an spirituality. focused on this relation­ ship. but they include w ithin the category o f revelation the Puranas. the Sahajiyas. The love between Radha and K rsna is love-in-separation characterized b y longing . Radha disobeys w ife ly du ty (stridharma) (see p. to meet him. and between the devotee and the L ord . Rupagosvam in w rote tw o im portant texts in Sanskrit on K rsna devo ­ tion. 6 5).svakiya . and love-in-separation (paraklya . w h o maintained that ritual sexual union could overcom e duality and reflect the divine union o f K rsn a and Radha. it does not m ention b y name Radha w h o on ly appears w ith the Gitagovinda and in later literature and visual art. antinomian and ecstatic B au ls. however. This is theologically im portant and relates to a distinction in Sanskrit poetics between love-in-union (. Indeed the relationship between the L o rd as the ‘holder o f p o w e r’ (saktimat) and Radha as his po w er (sakti). and although they are united.[H K rsna is the suprem e Lord (not sim ply an avatara o f Visnu) w ho creates. is characterized as ‘inconceivable differen ce-in-identity’ (acintya-bhedabheda). espe­ cially the Bhagavata Pur ana. The form er is charac­ terized b y lust (kam a ) and union. Radha leaves a shadow o f her­ self b y her husband’s side and goes out at night. indeed. 140 . Radha is K rsn a’s ‘ refreshing p o w e r’ through w hich the cosm os is manifested. This relationship is m anifested in the w o rld in the love between Radha and K rsna. The w o rk s o f the G osvam ins are. In Vaisnava m ythology. high ly orth od ox in the sense that they accept the authority o f the Veda. a tradition which developed into the low -caste. they are yet distinct. ‘another’s w om an ’ ) associated w ith adulterous love. v A lth ou gh m uch o f the Bhagavata Purana contains reference to K rsn a’s love-play w ith the gopis. the latter by pure love (prema) and lo n g­ ing (viraha). fo r the love o f G o d transcends social obligation. ‘ one’s ow n w om an ’) associated w ith marriage. kn ow n as the G osvam ins. pulled b y the sound o f K rsn a’s flute. This th eology m ay have been influenced b y a tantric Vaisnava sect.

22 O T H E R KR SN A SECTS ( )ther Vaisnava sampradayas sim ilarly maintained an element o f erotic mysticism . and sexual desire into the i npcrience o f the erotic. erotic love. on the path o f rdganuga-bhakti . w orsh ip o f temple icons or the 114Iasi plant sacred to Visnu. rama rama.15 3 1) founded a tradition centred on the w o r­ ship o f K rsna the C o w h erd after receiving a vision o f K rsna. A* cording to Sanskrit poetics. such as the fam ous H are K rsn a mantra . This passionate all-consum ing love fo r K rsna is called. grief can be transform ed into the ( fHpm ence o f tragedy. B oth paths lead to salvation. singing hym ns (kirtana ). The main practices o f the G au d iya Vaisnavas to achieve their soteriolo^ical goals w ere the ritual practices o f repeating the names o f K rsn a (nama japa). Vallabha ( i 4 7 9 . hare hare . ufrtnuga-bhakti. i sna’s names. b y Rupagosvam in. In raganuga-bhakti K rsna can be as close and intimate w ith the devotee as a lover. krsna krsna . hum our into com edy.hare krsna . visu aliz­ ing K rsna’s acts. This w ou ld involve repetition o f Is. whereas in vaidhi-bhakti K rsna is perceived as a pow erful and majestic king. em otion (b h a v a ) can be transform ed into .The love of Visnu I Inc aesthetic categories which had been developed in Sanskrit poetics w eir applied to different kinds of devotional em otion and experience. calling his w a y the ‘path o f grace’ (pustimarga) and his doctrine ‘pure n on ­ dualism ’ (suddhadvaita). so b y repeating it the devotee is m voking his presence.or madhura-bhakti) fo r K rsna: the subli­ mation o f human sexual love into divine. Vallabha identifies K rsna w ith the absolute (brahman) and maintains that the w o rld is not illu so ry (mdyd) but is real 141 .21 The name o f the deity em bodies his essence. hare rama. A fter initiation the K rsna devotee w o u ld perform w orsh ip in iIk* morning. called vaidhi-bhakti. hare hare follow ed b y libations fo r the ancestors and m aking offerings. sexual desire can be transform ed into ru n ic or ‘sw eet’ love (srngara. or transcendent. H e w rote com mentaries on the Brahma Sutra and Bhagavata Pur ana and con ­ structed a th eology w hich is a fusion o f m onistic and devotional ideas. hare rama. afternoon and evening. in contrast to devotion in w hich the devotee fo llo w s i tiles and injunctions (vidhi) laid dow n in scripture.n •« hetic experience (rasa): for exam ple. though passionate devotion is higher than the m ore form al approach and leads directly to Krsna. A t death the devotee w ill serve K rsna in a perfected spiritual b o d y (siddha-deha) in one o f the L o r d s spiritual abodes. hare krsna. and. particularly the lo ve-p lay o f K rsn a and the gopls (lila smarana). Sim ilarly.

w hose follow ers take refuge in the sect’s founder Swam inarayan. The Vaisnava Sants taught devotion to the L o rd as a personal being installed in tem ples. 142 .24 Several other orders focus their attention on the erotic pastimes o f K rsna. became the focus o f devotional movements. the male sect o f the Säkhi B hävas. devotion to one’s guru. The Rädhävalläbhis founded b y H arivam sa (158 5) concentrate their w orsh ip on Rädhä. the main focus o f Pusti M ärga devotion is on K rsna as a child and the devotee as the parent. Liberation occurs. the Visnusväm is should be m entioned. through follow in g a path com prising a series of stages until the devotee. Bilvam angala: the Krsnakärnämrta (‘The N ectar o f the A cts o f K rsn a’). situated b y the eastern seaboard w ithin the northern Sanskritic cultural sphere yet strongly influenced b y the D ravidian. Lastly. The Pusti M ärga is particularly large in w estern India.25 T H E CU L T OF V I T H O B Ä Vaisnava devotionalism spread northw ards and local deities. associated w ith the great H in du gods. w ith qualities (. dress in w om en ’s clothing and adopt female m an­ nerisms in order to emulate the gopls. rather than in K rsn a. w ithin the general Sant category. w h o still exist. its main temple being at N athd vara in Rajasthan. T h ey taught a path to liberation through devotion to the L o r d ’s name (näm ). as in G au d lya Vaisnavism . becomes part o f his play (lild)y though unlike G au d lya Vaisnavism the Pusti M ärga is non-renunciatory. w hile an offshoot. founded in the tw elfth century.23 A n im portant order developed from the Pusti M ärga in the nineteenth century. w orshipped o n ly K rsna. fam ous fo r a Sanskrit text b y one o f their devotees. com prising o n ly householders. taught devotion to an abstract L o rd beyond qualities (nirguna). from w hich Sikhism developed. founded b y C hakradhär Swam i in the thirteenth century. the Sw am inarayan m ove­ ment. several devotional traditions w ere established. In M aharashtra.saguna). were a num ber o f Vaisnava devotional m ovem ents w hich can b road ly be described as Sant traditions. with K rsna’s grace. The M ahänubhäva Sam pradäya. and the devotional meetings or satsang (‘ the com m unity in truth’ ). The term sant means ‘ good m an’ and refers to saints from all castes w h o lived between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. W hile m aintaining an erotic dim ension. though another Sant tradition based in the Punjab. In M aharashtra.An introduction to Hinduism and is identified with Krsna.

In contrast to G au d iya Vaisnavism. erotic im agery is not used b y the M aharashtrian Sants and the pure devotion (prem a-bhakti) which they advocate represents the L o rd as a loving parent rather than a lover.26 B y the seventeenth century the V arkaris w ere Ilie most im portant sect in M aharashtra and the fam ous K in g Sivaji. was centred on the w orship o f Vithoba w hose main temple. the focus o f an important pilgrimage. W hile fo r highly orthoprax Smarta H indus. and some o f his verses have found their w a y into the sacred scripture o f the Sikhs.mesvara liberation is m erging w ith the L o rd . 15 3 3-9 9 ) and Ram das (16 0 8 -8 1). F o r |n. 143 . says |iunesvara. though w orship o f Vithoba predates him. 15 6 8 -16 5 0 ). the Varkari Panth ('T he Pilgrims* path’). is said to have met Tukaram and been initiated by Ram das. Tukaram (c. notably Jnanesvara (thirteenth m iiu ry ). His text extols devotion to the L o rd and to his guru w h o. N am dev (c./'he love ofVisnu while the most im portant sect. though generally the images o f w om en in the poetry o f E knath and Tukaram are negative. •jK).A dvaita Vedanta and the N aths (see p. is at Pandharpur in southern M aharashtra. the m ourge o f the M ughal A urangzeb. As with m any other Sants.a teaching w hich is com mon to the Sant traditions o f the north as well. I lui. fo r the Maharashtran Sants caste and gender are not obstacles. There w ere also a number o f w om en saints in the V ark ari tradition.ith (c. A devoinMi. Tukaram is perhaps the m ost revered saint in M aharashtra. w h o stressed the love o f the L o rd as the path to liberation and the necessity o f 1 lie dualism between the devotee and the L o rd in order fo r love to develop. the Jn a n e s v a r i27 w hich show s influences 1» 1 apart from Vaisnava bh akti . all except Ram das belonging io the V arkari literature in Marathi. m any other M aharashtran Sants w ere lo w caste: N am d ev was a tailor and Tukaram was a Sudra. though the individual devotee can never com prehend his imm ensity. A lth ou gh Jnanesvara w as a Brahm an. rescued him from the ocean o f w o rld ly existence. lo w castes and w om en are excluded from spiritual liberation and form s o f w orship. Janabai. N am d ev is not on ly 1 evered as a saint in M aharashtra but in the Punjab as w ell. the A d i ( ¡ninth. developed in the w rit­ ings of a number o f Marathi saints. H e w rote a M arathi com ­ mentary on the B h a g a v a d G ita . 12 7 0 -13 5 0 ). Tukaram advocated singing the L o rd ’s praise and a m editational devotionalism in w h ich one attains liberation b y sitting m meditation and repeating the L o r d ’s name (n am ) . Jnanesvara is sometimes considered to be the founder o f the V arkari I\m t h. a Sanskritic language.

M irabai. Vithabai. focused on devotion to a saguna form o f Visnu or Krsna. w hose verses to Vithoba sometimes address him as a w om an. Like the M aharashtrian Sants. Indeed the cult o f Vithoba goes beyond sectarian divisions and the tw o pilgrim ages each year to his temple at Pandharpur attract a w ide cross-section o f the com m unity. but there are also Raidasis.000 people are attracted to the m ore im portant o f the pilgrim ages during asadha (Ju n e-Ju ly ).28 THE SANT T R A D IT IO N W hile the Vaisnava Sant tradition developed in M aharashtra. U p to 6. That Janabai could address Vithoba as a w om an demonstrates the am biguity o f the god. rather. w h o was an initiate o f Nath Yoga. W hile he is generally associated w ith Visnu or Krsna. W hile he is generally male. further north. nam ely form s o f H in di and Punjabi. The teachings o f the Sants are preserved in collections o f poetry in their respective languages and in the sacred scripture o f the Sikhs. Som e o f the Sants spawned traditions w hich continue to the present. D adupanthis and Kabirpanthis. not all wT ere o f low status: N an ak was a ‘w arrio r’ (kh atri) and M irabai a princess. m ost notable. and Janabai. he is sometimes female and referred to as a mother.30 H ow ever. he is som etim es associated w ith Siva. Sufism and N ath Yoga.An introduction to Hinduism presenting w om an as the temptress and dish actor from the m ales path ol detachm ent from the w orld. M an y o f these w ere low -caste. these northern Sants com posed devotional songs in vernacular languages. being Sikhism from G u ru N an ak. N anak. The songs o f these Sants w ou ld have circulated around north 144 . beyond form . such as Raidas w ho was an untouchable leatherw ork er (cham ar)29 and K ab ir w h o was a w eaver. N otable wom en Sants are Jnanesvara s sister M uktabai. though caste divisions during the pilgrim age are not entirely eradicated. the A d i G ranth. Raidas and D adu. the maid servant o f N am dev. another Sant tradition developed w hich advocated devotion to a nirguna L o rd as the ineffable absolute w ithout shape or form . o f course. the source and support o f the cosm os. w hose term inologies can be found w ithin Sant literature. the personal experience o f a transcendent L o rd . but rejected external ritual. This northern Sant tradition drew on Vaisnava b h a k ti. b y w hose grace beings are liberated from the cycle o f birth and death. A m o n g the m ost fam ous Sants are Kabir. em phasizing. thereby blurring the distinc­ tion between Vaisnava and Saiva. and especially in the Punjab.

M adhav. The most popular and influential of the > *m I i was Kablr. and must i <111111 to the L o rd through the meditative devotion o f repeating his name (mm simran) and b y the grace o f the guru. used to shock his audience out o f com placency and to 1 mii vcy the idea that the L o rd is ineffable and beyon d everyday logic..’31 While there are. D evotion to Ram a. T H E CU L T OF RA M A While the term Ram is used b y the Sants to refer to the transcendent L o rd . K rsna and H ari. 1 hough sometimes the m ore Saiva names o f N atha or Um apati might be used and even the term A llah is sometimes referred to. though if Ram ananda was born in 1299.•nil will perceive the light o f G o d . as i nite lext suggests. C entres o f Ram a w orship are found in Janakpur.amis. individual differences between the northern '. eould have met him.itiin bards. « 1 the Alvars and Nayanars.. the legendary birthplace o f Sita. luck to its true abode (sach-khand). Lalla (fourteenth century). m 1 he Ram anuja lineage. w h o 11 1 * »..ih e love o f Visnu India during the sixteenth century.. the hero o f the Ramayana. being sung at various temples by wantl. such as Ram . H e is • 111 ical of caste. The soul is trapped in l lie world governed b y D eath or Tim e (kal) and illusion (maya). such as ‘the co w is sucking it 1 lie calf’s teat’. o f course. R am a’s legendary birthplace and capital o f his kingdom . and highly 11 1 11i al o f H indu and M uslim religious practices and doctrines current at Iiis time. maintaining that it is irrelevant to liberation. 'Then they kill each other. K a b ir’s (ineiry is quite distinctive. Indeed 145 . as would probably have happened in the south with the . it is highly unlikely that Kablr. H e writes: ‘The H indu says R am is the beloved. hear the divine ‘unstruck soun d’ (. king o f A yo d h ya. became widespread in north­ ern India during the medieval period. in the Ram a cults the term refers to the L o rd as he was incarnated in K in g Kama. K ablr (13 9 8 -14 4 8 ) was born into a w eaver fam ily in m M nates who had converted to Islam one or tw o generations prio r to his i Im 1 Ti adition maintains that his guru was the Vaisnava Ram ananda. T he names fo r the L o rd used b y the Sants are generally Vaisnava. the Turk says Malum. and A yo d h ya in A n dra Pradesh.inahata sab da) o f the L o rd . H e was influenced b y N am d ev and b y the |ioeiry of the Saiva wom an saint. born alm ost 100 years I n» 1. T h rou gh this repetition the . . O ne o f its striking features is his use o f stark Images in ‘ upside-dow n language’ (ultavdm si). as well as his m on key com m ander H anum an.. there are com m on themes in their teachings. and rise up through the hierarchical cosm os.

his m arriage. w hose main centre is at A yo d h ya. he advocated devotion to Ràm a and Sïtà. In this style of bh akti the devotee’s attitude is as a servant to the master. in contrast to G au d ïya Vaisnavism . particularly at Ram nagar near Varanasi. a version o f a version o f V àlm ïk i’s R âm â yan a. w hile being eulogized. Ràm a is the suprem e L o rd and other deities. hence Hanum àn is hailed as the exem plum o f devo­ tional service to his master Ràm a. w ith possible connections w ith the Sri Vaisnava tradition. The Ràm ànandï order is predom inantly ascetic and renunciatory.16 2 3 ) w h o com posed the Râm acaritm ânasa (‘The Sacred Lake o f R am a’s D eed s’33). is devoid o f eroticism . rather than as a lover to the beloved. though n o w there are few nuns rem aining in the order. The story o f Ràm a and Sïtà is enacted from his birth. W hile there are no w ritings of Ràm ànanda him self. banishment. were founded by Ràm ànanda (fifteenth century?). are said to have been shocked b y the com position o f such a text in a vernacular language. are subordinated to him. It was tested b y being placed in the Siva temple fo r one night. The Brahm ans o f Varanasi. caste restrictions are im posed in Ràm ànandï temples and o n ly Brahm ans can be priests.34 In this text and other com positions b y Tulsidàs.An introduction to Hinduism the cult o f Ràm a continues to have serious consequences in contem porary India as the dem olition in 1992 o f the Babji M asjid in A yod h ya dem on­ strates. In contem porary practice. the th eology o f the sect is based on the w ritings of Tulsidàs ( 15 3 2 . w ere initiated into it and at initia­ tion all previous caste duties w ere abandoned and service to Ràm a insti­ tuted in their place. including Untouchables.32 The Ràm ànandis. The m ost popular festival associated w ith Ràm a is Ràm lïlà w hich occurs throughout north India. the Râm ànandï order. T h eir literature is expressed in the medium o f H indi. along w ith the recitation o f dramatic dialogues. how ever. In the m orning. w ith the Vedas and Purànas placed on top o f his tri­ umphant return and the establishing o f R àm a’s kin gdom . D uring this festival Tulsidàs’ Ram acaritm ânasa is recited b y priests o f the M aharàja o f Varanasi. O rigin ally both sexes w ere initiated. A ccordin g to the tradition. w h o are also found in N epal near the Bihar border. w here the text was com posed. com posed in H in di rather than the sacred language o f Sanskrit. O ne sect o f Ràm a worship predominates in A yo d h ya. though no w riting o f Ràm ànanda him self is preserved. a devotion w hich. Tulsidàs’ text was on top o f them all. w ar against Ràvana . In the past.35 146 . through the m ajor events o f his life . w h ereb y its authority was legitim ized. all castes.

|M 11ul devotion.such as the association o f local or regional deities w ith the i* Hies of the great Sanskritic tradition.iheloveofVisnu Summary In i Ins survey o f the Vaisnava and associated traditions we can see a jh •it ess m which an exuberant and em otional form o f devotionalism . All hough Saivism has tended m ore tow ards the ideals o f yo ga and . i 47 . becomes associated with a more sober tradition o f *. . originating in the north. o rig­ inal mf. To the developm ent o f this sim ilarly vast tradition w e n ow mi n. I•»v < nevertheless been strong devotional tendencies w ithin it. particularly in i hr south. there . 1 Mi lied asceticism rather than tow ards em otional devotionalism . and the establishing o f orders b y Mints are also follow ed b y devotional m ovem ents w ithin Saivism . The patterns o f bh akti that *t tt. in the south. ice here .

ritual form s and possession cults becom e universalized through Sanskritization. it becom es Sanskritized). the tradition becom es universalized) w hen their poetry is absorbed w ithin the brahmanical id eology o f the Sri Vaisnavas (i. orth odox renouncers such as the Dasanâm is. We have seen this. A second im portant process can also be identified. Yet. w hich w e have discussed. The p oetry and em otional devotion o f the À lv lr s becom es a pan-southAsian phenom enon (i. R egional traditions expressed in vernacular languages. in the cult o f V ithobâ w h o becomes identified w ith Visnu and o f M urukan w h o becom es identified w ith Skanda.7 Saiva and tantric religion W ithin the developing H indu traditions w e can see the process o f Brahm anization o r Sanskritization. T h eo lo gy is thus built up from a level o f regional ritual and possession cults and in turn influences those cults. local m ythologies. Betw een these extremes w e have the highly revered. there have been.1 A t the one extrem e is the h igh ly 148 .e. nam ely the tran sfor­ mations o f the ascetic ideal: on the one hand its assim ilation into the higher-caste householder’s ideology. w hatever its origins. R egional ritual and possession form the basis or substratum o f brahm anical theology. as in the B h a g a v a d G ïtâ . on the other its assim ilation into the low -caste possession cults o f the crem ation ground. local deities. fo r exam ­ ple.e. vedic ritual form s and Sanskrit learning absorbs local popular traditions o f ritual and ideology. These m anifestations o f the ascetic ideal m ay be linked to the historical question regarding the vedic or nonvedic origins o f renunciation. am bivalent attitudes tow ards renouncers am ongst householders. w h ereby the great brahmanical tradi­ tion o f vedic social values. and still are.

In other w ord s. is to be found m the renouncer traditions. Saivism .2 A lth ou gh there are undoubtedly ecstatic and antinom ian dimensions in devotion to Krsna. the ideal o f m any high-caste male house­ holders. yet at the other extreme there is the feared unorthodox ascetic.Saiva and tantric religion revered. orthodox renouncer. The Saiva ideals o f asceticism contrast w ith those o f Vaisnavism which is strongly associated w ith the householder. and sometimes ecstatic. Processes occur in Saivism w hich are also found in Vaisnavism: the absorption b y brahm anical orth op raxy o f non-vedic rit­ ual forms and ideas and the identification o f local deities w ith pan-H indu <ines. or its inspiration. the ideologies o f Vaisnavism have tended towards vedic o rth o­ praxy and the maintaining o f vedic values. while also having some orthoprax tendencies. L ik e Vaisnavism . Vaisnavism has tended to be m ore vedic and orthoprax than Saivism . can be applied to Vaisnavism and Saivism at an ideological level. m ore com plex than this and Saivism did have loyal patronage. but generally ascetic. Som e o f the ecstatic tendencies of Saivism are em bod­ ied in the m yth ology o f the deity Siva him self. in particular the renouncer traditions o f the i remation ground. between A pollonian cultures in w hich order. it might he argued that R u th Benedict’s distinction. Saivism has absorbed w ithin it a variety ol ritual practices and theologies. w ith life in i lie w orld and w ith the id eology o f kingship. Indeed. In this chapter w e w ill trace the rise o f Siva and the traditions centred oil his w orship. than has Vaisnavism. or sometimes his consort and power. tendencies predominated. The m yth of D aksa An im portant m yth in the corpus o f Saiva narratives is the m yth o f D aksa. Sakti. unreservedly accepted the non-vedic revelation o f the Tantras and draw s its inspiration from the polluting crem ationground asceticism. openly courting pollution and living in the crem ation ground. control and law are im porl ant and D ion ysian cultures w hich revere the ‘ ecstasy o f the dance’. The picture is. o f course. derived from N ietzsche. This ambivalent attitude is clearly dem onstrated in the religions o f Siva w h o is himself a god o f paradox: both the ideal householder and the ideal ascetic. even in its householder form s. W hile one needs to be cautious o f generalizations. the genius o f Saivism . Saivism refers to the traditions w hich fo llo w the teachings o f Siva (>/vasasana) and which focus on the deity Siva. 'This story is told in the M ahabharata and there are a num ber o f variants in 149 . though it has tended m ore tow ards asceticism or the ascetic ideal.

H e has been described b y W endy D on iger O ’F laherty as the ‘ erotic ascetic’ . w ho dances in the crem ation ground and yet w h o seduces the sages’ w ives in the pine forest. and their tw o 150 . that he is a deity perhaps origin ally from outside the vedic pantheon. in fact. Indeed. o f necessity. in a state o f grief and frenzy. the son of Brahma (in the Veda his m other is Aditi). Sati becom es the w ile of Siva who is attracted to her because o f the p o w er o f her austerities as well as her beauty. Siva then resuscitates the sacrifice as w ell as D aksa. so Saiva traditions are incorporated into vedic id eo lo gy and practice.3 In some. H e is the three-eyed god w h o has burned D esire w ith his third eye. absorbed w ithin the vedic pantheon. p o ssib ly later. during the w edding. A s Siva is outside the vedic fold. U p o n hearing the news o f his w ife ’s death. W hile this m yth is m ulti-levelled and can be understood in a variety o f w ays. see in this m yth an analogue fo r the developm ent o f Saivism. picks up her corpse and dances w ild ly w ith it across the universe (see p. tension builds up between D aksa and his unconventional sonin-law. thereby him self becom ­ ing the sacrificial victim . in some versions w ith a goat’s head. w h o is also the celibate yo gin . versions. the ithyphallic and prom iscu ­ ous god. but. Parvati. D aksa. 192 fo r what happens next). perhaps an obvious reading is that Siva w as originally excluded from the vedic sacrifice. Siva is paradoxically fulfilling it and so ensuring that the sacrifice is his. practising austerities in the H im alayas. Siva and Sati retire to M ount Kailasa and D aksa prepares a horse sacrifice to w hich he invites all the gods except Siva. in destroying the sacrifice with fire. but w h o came to be accepted as one o f the gods. We can. W hile Siva is not bothered b y the snub. and the sacrifice proceeds sm oothly w ith Siva included. A ll is destroyed and D aksa is killed. is the father o f Satl.An introduction to Hinduism the Puranas. Sati is distraught at the insult and goes in anger to her fath ers sacrifice w here she is rebuffed b y D aksa. Siva is enraged and attacks D ak sa’s sacrifice in the terrifying form o f Virabhadra w ith his hordes o f dem onic beings. beheaded b y Siva. and as Siva makes his presence know n so forcefu lly and is. H e is the w ild m atted-haired ascetic. so are the traditions associated w ith him. yet he is also the ideal fam ily man and householder w ith a w ife. The image of Siva Siva is a god o f am biguity and paradox. Siva finds the b od y o f Sati and. In her rage she co m ­ mits suicide b y burning herself through her yo gic pow er.

standing nearby. part o f the ‘ 1 lindu trin ity’ with Muhina as creator and Visnu as sustainer. in his form as the Siva linga or ‘icon’ found in most Hindu temples.tiaiva and tantrie religion »mis ( lAncsa and Skanda. W hile there is a ve ry strong sense o f Siva’s tranii • mlence in Saivism . having been 151 . following form s: as the Lord of Yoga meditating on M ount Kailasa or Kailash in the I limalayas. \ le contains all opposites wiihin him and is even . not to kill their horses and cattle. R g Veda 2 . seated upon a tiger skin and holding a trident.1. the goddess Parvatl.4 3 and 1 . These hym ns. Early worship of Rudra-Siva Apart from some speculation over an Indus valley seal as a representation ol Siva (see p. 29).(• h libed as half male and half female (ardh an arisvara). praise R udra and ask him to leave their com m unities alone. creates. H e is especially w orshipped and iconographically depicted in tli. at the same time. maintains and destroys the cosmos. but for his devotees he is the *ti|Herne Lord w ho creates. H e conm »I*. w hich are also represented in « lit vI lu»logy. the M aruts. garlanded by a snake and sacred rudraksa beads. dancing upon the dwarf of ignorance (Apasmara) within a circle of flames. w ith a black belly and red back. not to take their children and grandchildren.3 3 . 1 1 4 . w h o ait acks ‘like a ferocious w ild beast’. with the sacred bull Nandi. He is four-armed. and their two sons. with a third eye with which he burned Desire (Kama). the earliest references to the god are found in the R g Veda where three hym ns are addressed to him as Rudra. symbolic of the union of Siva with his dynamic energy or sakti.5 The linga represents a phallus within a vulva. maintains and destroys the cosm os. a crescent moon in his hair. He is iconographically portrayed as covered in ashes. he is nevertheless represented or installed in a num l« i ol forms in temples and shrines. Skanda and the elephant-headed Ganesa. with his matted locks in a chignon. the Lord of the Dance. and. yet. yet he is also the benevolent healer and 1 ooler o f disease. as the family man with his wife. ‘the roarer’ . as Siva Nataraja.4 Siva is som e­ thin s described as the god o f destruction.tmi e as an act o f grace. clothed in a skin. Kudra is brow n. who. can reveal his it. H e is ferocious and destructive. the Ganges pouring from his locks. the L o rd o f the storm gods. his true nature from humanity. in his awe-inspiring dance which expresses his boundless energy.

The hym n is still recited in Saiva temples today. the fact that he is included in these hym ns shows that he is still. the L o rd o f cattle. to go aw ay and strike dow n som eone else instead! In the Taittiriya Samhitd of the black Y aju r Veda and in the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd o f the w hite. speaking o f his auspi­ cious form in contrast to his malignant form . the recitation o f the Satarudriya is claimed. in the Jabala Upanisad . fo r instance. and Pasupati.8 R udra is a peripheral deity in the vedic pantheon and the descriptions o f him as living away from the A ry an com m unities m ay indicate that his o ri­ gins are non-vedic. part o f the vedic pan152 . how ever peripherally. w ho lives apart from hum an com m unities w ho are terri­ fied b y his feral habitations. the L o rd o f medicinal herbs.An introduction to Hinduism Karly worship of Rudra Puranic Naivism N on -P u ran ic Saivism _____ I _____ _ Atimarga i — i Saivism Pasupata n Mantramarga K ap alik a Saivism Saiva ! Siddhânta L ak u la I / K au la X Trika K alam ukha pop u lar w orship o f Siva i r Lin gayat *— 1 A g h o ri Tam il Saiva Siddhânta Figure 6 The development o f the Saiva traditions praised. This hym n is an early example of enumerating the divine names o f a deity in order to make contact with him/her. to lead to im m ortality.6 is a hym n to the ‘hundred names o f R u d ra’ (satarudriya) w hich further develops the am biguous nature o f the god. B y the first few centuries c e . he is also the healer. nevertheless. Yet. haunted places. as in the R g Veda . yet.7 and the Satarudriya is often referred to in the Siva Purdna. H e is the god o f w ild.

F o r the Svetasvatara: . journeys from b od y to b od y according to its karm a until liberated through the efforts o f yoga and b y the grace (prasada ) o f the L o rd w ith whom it is united. dwelling beyond the cosmos. although the term bhedabheda is not used. hm nologically after the Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanisads. Indeed the term bhakti in the context o f one having highest devotion fo r G o d and fo r one’s guru as G o d . however. T he soul. yet also immanent. occurs here fo r the first tim e. as this is the last stanza o f the text it is p ro b ab ly a later interpolation.the Lord is the cause of the cosmos. the Lord is a ‘magician’ (mdyin) who produces the world through his power (sakti) and sustains it.9 H ow ever. Ily the fifth or fourth centuries H e r. . was com posed around the fifth or fourth centuries b c e . the efficient and material • iui. Rudra-Siva has risen m i a more prominent position and in the Svetasvatara Upanisad has become identified with the suprem e absolute. The text begins b y asking a series o f »juestions about the origin o f the universe and the origin o f hum anity: w hat is the cause o f all this? W ho rules over our various conditions o f pleaui e and pain? The text then attempts to answ er these queries b y p ro p o s­ ing a theology w hich elevates R udra to the status o f supreme being. but lief ore the Bhagavad Gita. as docs Siva in later traditions. dwelling in the hearts of all of the cosm os. w hich is w ithout gender. w hile the seeds o f bhakti are here. the Lord (Isa) w h o is transcendent yet also has cosm ological functions. the Svetasvatara pre­ sents a difference-in-identity theology. The Svetasvatara Upanisad I he Svetasvatara Upanisad . and like those texts i here seems to be some distinction betw een the L o rd and the individual soul and. they have not yet developed. 153 . for. There are parallels here w ith the slightly later Vaisnava theologies o f the Mabdnarayana Upanisad and the Bhagavad G ita .Satva and tantric religion ihron. . fo r it marks a transition I»ei ween the sim pler m onism o f the earlier U panisads and the theism o f the I nci Saiva and Vaisnava traditions. This text is v e ry im portant fo r understanding ilie developm ent o f H indu religious thought. the teachings o f the sage w ith the w hite mule ( M'chisvatara).the Lord is transcendent.

based on those texts. W ith the decline o f the G uptas. a Siva-bhägavata . This expansion w as accom panied b y the developm ent o f brahm anical form s o f w orsh ip. the most im portant o f w hich are the Linga. eventually throughout the subcontinent. PURA NIC SAIVISM D urin g the G u pta dyn asty (c.10 H ow ever. Saiva and K äpälika. it is w ith the Puränas that w e see Saivism develop as a m ajor strand o f H indu religiosity. w hile this Smärta w orsh ip is w ell established. m any o f w hich. descrip­ tions o f the various form s o f Siva. perhaps a precursor o f Siva’s trident. as clad in animal skins and carryin g an iron lance as the sym bol o f his god. The Puränas classify Saivas into four groups. A p art from material on the form al w orsh ip o f Siva.1 1 A ll these groups are generally outside the vedic or puranic system . Indeed all the Puränas w ere com posed w ithin the sphere o f vedic or Smärta o rth od oxy and texts such as the Kürm a-Puràna condem n the 154 . the duties o f different castes. becom e absorbed into brahmanical form s o f w orship. Puränas such as the Linga also contain inform ation on asceticism and yoga. as transcendent and immanent.i o o c e ) have been found bearing a bull. o f the narratives. C oins o f G reek. whose b o d y is the cosm os. through the singers or reciters. particularly the yo ga o f the Päsupatas. as w ell as exclu­ sively Saiva elements such as the installing o f lingas in temples.An introduction to / /induism The form ation of Saivism W hile R u d ra-Siva is eulogized in the Rg Veda and identified with a theistic absolute in the Évetâs'vatara Upanisad . the Smärta or paurdnika. there are other early references to Siva and Saiva w orsh ip. and there are references to early Saiva ascetics in the M ahäbhärata . or elements o f which. he describes a devotee o f Siva. Säka and Parthian kings w h o ruled north India ( 2 0 0 b c e . K äpälins and K äläm ukhas. the earliest Saiva sect o f w hich w e know. w hile Räm änuja in his com m entary on the Brahma-Sütra lists the Saivas. and the Siva Puränas . and the stories o f the Puränas spread rapidly. a sym bol o f Siva. In the gramm arian Patanjali’s ‘ G reat C o m ­ m entary’ (Mahäbhäsya) on Pânini’s fam ous Sanskrit gramm ar (second century b c e ) . and the nature o f Siva. Läkullsa. there occurs an increase o f esoteric cults. D harm a Sästra material and astrology. Päsupatas. The Saiva Puränas. 320-500 c e ) puranic religion developed and expanded. and indeed com posers. nam ely the Päsupata. contain the usual puranic subjects o f genealogies.

A Brahman householder w ho w orshipped Siva b y perform ing a pm . they nevertheless distance themselves from these non-orthodox or tantric sys­ tems which posed a threat to vedic purity and dharm a. pro b ab ly from the second .tittiva and tantric religion lVmip. the Päsupata and a sub-branch. the Saiva householder or M ahesvara w ou ld at death be taken to Siva’s heaven (Siva-loka) at the top o f the w orld egg (where vaik u n th a w ou ld be fo r the pu ränic Vaisnava). part o f w hich was the K äläm ukha order. the Ägam as or Tantras. going even higher than the orthodox stage o f renunciation according to the A tim ärgins. technically kn ow n as a Saiva. between on the one hand the ‘ O uter Path ’ (atimdrga) and on the other the ‘ Path o f M antras’ (m a n tra m drg a)}AThese are tw o m ain branches described in Saiva texts. making offerings b y using vedic mantras to orthodox form s nt Siva. A s A lexis Sanderson has described. T h e Päsupatas are the oldest Saiva sect. pau rd n ik a devotees) can be lurther classified w ithin a m ore general distinction. a M ahesvara.favouring instead the authority of th eSataru driya and i late Upanisad containing Saiva material. but also to the attainment o f supernatural or magical pow ers (siddhi) and pleasure (bh oga ) in higher worlds along the w ay.the path w hich has transcended the orthodox system o f four stages o f life (< äsram a). In his com m entary on the B rahm a Sutra (the same \ ri se as com mented on b y Räm änuja) Sankara refers to M ahesvaras w h o w > ship Siva. was not an initiate into a specific Saiva sect. P ÄSUP AT A SAIVISM Within the higher path (atimdrga) tw o im portant orders existed. again clearly expli­ cated b y A lexis Sanderson. but w orshipped Siva within the general context o f vedic dom estic rites and Smärta adherence to varnasram a-dharm a. such a brahmanical Saiva within the Smärta dom ain. Although the Puränas are pervaded by non-orthodox Saiva material. w hile the latter. The path o f the atim drga might also be rendered as the ‘higher path’ . open to ascetics only. pro b ab ly meaning those w h o fo llo w thzpa u rdn ik a form o f <i worship. w h o has undergone an initiation (diksd ) and who follow s the teachings o f Siva (sivasdsana) contained in Saiva scrip­ tures (s d stra )P W hile the Saiva initiate hoped fo r liberation (m oksa). open to ascetics and household­ ers.mic p u jd.1 . can be contrasted w ith an initiate. the Läkula. is a path exclusively for the purpose o f salvation fro m samsdra. The Saiva initiates (as opposed to the lay. The form er. is a path w hich leads to eventual salvation. the Atharvasiras system.

m aking lew d ges­ tures to you ng w om en. snoring loud ly w hile not being asleep. his high-caste status was still im portant in his reli­ gious practice in so far as he should not speak w ith lo w castes nor w ith w om en. though he was nevertheless disapproved o f and rebuked b y some vedic. The first involved the ascetic living b y a Saiva temple. ‘perfected stage’ (siddha âsrama) and spurning vedic householder injunctions on pu rity and fam ily life. A lth ough ultim ately this liberation was through the grace o f R udra. This form is also regarded as the last o f Siva’s incarnations {avatara) m entioned in the Kürma P u râ n a }7 In this form he gave out the teachings contained in the Pasupata Sütra. Lakulïsa. Smârta texts such as the Kürm a-Puràna .An introduction to Hinduism century c e . w h o had undergone the high-caste initiation cerem ony. Indeed one passage o f K aun d in ya’s com m entary on the Pasupata Sütra 18 speaks in m isogynistic terms o f w om en as the temptresses o f the ascetic. though pretenth-century. referred to in the N iran iya section o f the Mahâbhârata . rem ove external signs o f his cultic affiliation. and w orsh ippin g the deity through dancing and singing. This took the form o f a vo w or observance (vrata) w hich involved a spiritual practice (sâdhana) in three developm ental stages. w ishing to see his tradition as in some sense the culm ination and fulfilm ent o f vedic life rather than its rejection. meditation on five mantras sacred to Siva.19 The Pâsupatas seem to have been very much on the edges o f orthodox house­ holder society. The second stage was to leave the temple. and w hose sexuality cannot be con ­ trolled b y scripture. some effort on the part o f the Pasupata was needed. Liberation from karm a and rebirth occurred at death: a liberation w hich was conceptualized as acquiring the qualities o f omniscience and om nipotence.16 A ccordin g to tradition. covering him self in ashes w hile avoiding bathing in water. The only Pasupata scripture which we have is the com paratively late. and even 156 . the Pasupata never com pletely abandoned or explicitly rejected vedic values. Pasupata Sütra with a com m entary by K au n d in ya. The Pasupata ascetic had to be a Brahm an male. this text is the revelation o f R udra w ho became the possib ly historical sage. going beyond the four stages (âsrama) to a fifth. w h o creates madness in him. and behave in public places in anti-social w ays such as acting as if deranged. A lth ough he could becom e a Pasupata from any stage o f life. unlike m any other Saiva groups. laughter and temple circum am bulation. The Pasupata ascetic had to be a Brahm an and had to be celibate (brahmacârya ). b y entering and reanim ating the corpse o f a Brahm an in a crem ation ground. 15 though no ancient texts belonging to them have survived. Yet.

fo r a tw elve-year period. Siva is also kn ow n as the beggar Bhiksayatana and the skull-bearer Kapalin. the m ost im p or­ tant of which was the Lakula. as il crippled. in order to meditate upon the five sacred mantras and out he syllable om. he finally withdrew to a crem ation ground w here he lived from w hatever he • imid find and ultim ately died gaining union w ith R udra (rudrasayu- I yam). Siva. a garland o f human bone. in a hut in a t which describes them as w andering. A s a consequence.21 H ere the ascetic takes his im itation o f R udra to the extreme.22 'This idea is further reinforced b y a m yth told in a num ber o f variants in the Puranas. Siva is then freed from the sin o f Brahm anicide. such as a cave ni deserted house.D I V I S I O N S OF T H E P A S U P AT A S Chore were various sub-divisions am ong the Pasupatas. in the lorm o f the terrible Bhairava. in order to expiate the crim e. These w ere ascetics w ho accepted the docIlines of the Pasupata Sutra.e. cuts o ff B rah m a’s fifth head w ith his thumb nail. carrying a skull-topped staff (k'hatvanga). The D harm a Sastras state that one w ho lias killed a Brahm an should perform penance b y living outside vedic soci­ ety. Brah m a’s) skull. The head does not leave Bhairava’s hand. w ith a skull begging b ow l. carrying the skull o f the person slain like a flag. This behaviour was to invite the abuse o f passers-by in older that their merit o r good karma would be transferred to the ascetic. ss 1111c* his bad karma would be transferred to those who had abused him. W hen this meditation could be achieved effortlessly. I In* third and final stage was to w ithdraw to a remote place. Part o f the Lakula order w ere the Kalam ukhas w h o flourished from the 1 57 . w ith matted hair or shaven head in im itation o f their l o rd R udra.23 but the main point here is that the narrative serves to reinforce the identification o f the Lakula ascetic w ith the skull-carrying form o f Siva.Sarva and tantric religion u imp. There are a num ber o f versions o f this m yth.20 S U B . though they w ere m ore extreme in their ascetic practices and rejection or transcendence o f vedic injunctions than i lie other Pasupatas. The essential story is that the god Brahm a feels passion fo r his daughter and attempts to sleep w ith her. Sanderson quotes one surviving m anuscript o f the . so he wanders around vari­ ous pilgrim age sites (tirtha) until he reaches Varanasi w here the skull falls at the Kapalam ocana (‘freeing the skull’ ) tirtha. A s the w anderer w ith the Brahm an’s (i. and t overed in ashes. as one w ho has taken the ‘ great v o w ’ (m ah avrata) required o f someone for killing a Brahm an.

can be divided into tw o broad categories. w e need first to make some general points about the tantric revelation. m ost w ere p rob ab ly com posed from the eighth century onw ards and b y the tenth century a vast b o d y o f Sanskrit texts had developed. though the term ‘ A gam a’ is also used and ‘ Sam hita’ fo r Vaisnava texts o f the Pancaratra (see p. fo r their revelation com ­ prises the Saiva tantric texts. in spite o f strongly hetero­ dox elements in their practices. B efore going on to examine the traditions o f the m antram drga. W ithin this general category are a num ber o f traditions and ritual system s which. E ven so.25 There is a sub­ stantial b o d y o f Ja in Tantras and there was a corpus o f Tantras to the Sun (Surya) in the Saura tradition. such as w orshipping Rudra in a pot filled w ith alchohol and covering themselves in the ashes o f corpses rather than cow -dung. The K alam ukhas had their ow n temples and. texts w hich w ere regarded as heterodox b y the strictly orth odox vedic tradition. generally called ‘Tantra’. b y the traditions w hich revere them: the Saiva Tantras are thought to have been revealed b y 158 . none o f w hich have survived. There is a large corpus o f Buddhist Tantras w hich form the textual basis o f the V ajrayana w hich. are preserved in Tibetan translations. th ey regarded themselves as being w ithin the vedic fold. m any o f these texts came to infiltrate o rth od o xy and came to be revered as authoritative even w ithin Smarta circles. The religious culture o f the Tantras is essentially H indu and the Buddhist tantric m ater­ ial can be show n to have been derived from Saiva sources. the Saiva Siddhanta and non-Siddhanta system s w hich incorporate a num ber of other groups and texts. T he traditions o f the path o f mantras are know n as the ‘ tantric traditions’. The tantric texts are regarded as revelation. the path o f mantras (m antram drga) leads to libera­ tion via the acquisition o f magical pow ers and experiencing pleasure in higher w orld s fo r initiates. though little remains in Sanskrit. Sanderson has show n.24 A ll o f these tra­ ditions w ithin the path o f mantras revered as authoritative revelation a vast b o d y o f texts know n as the Agam as and Tantras. the Agam as and Tantras. superior to the Veda. In contrast to the higher path (atim drga) w hich was thought to lead straight to liberation. The tantric revelation The Tantras cannot be dated before 600 ce at the v e ry earliest.An introduction to Hinduism ninth to thirteenth centurics and about whom we gain inform ation mainly from south Indian epigraphic evidence. T h ey were prevalent in Karnataka w here they w ere superseded by the Lirigayat sect in the thirteenth century. 122).

the Vaisnava Tantras by Visnu and the Salua Tantras by the G oddess. 'The main geographical areas fo r the early medieval explosion o f tantric ieligion w ere K ashm ir and N epal. The Tantras generally take the form o f a dialogue between Siva and the G oddess (D evi. J Vaisnava and Smârta religion. to be revealed b y the guru o n ly w ith the appropriate initiation which wipes aw ay the pow er o f past actions. Pàncaràtra Samhitâs) the dialogue is betw een the L o rd (Bhagavân) and the G oddess Sri or Laksm l. M an y Tantras have been translated into Tamil and are used as the Iusis fo r liturgies in south Indian temples. oral tradition and teachings given b y the guru. so the disciple receives w isd om from his or her m as­ ter. the tantric orders and practices <> w hich the texts speak w ere prob ab ly pan-Indian b y the tenth or eleventh 1 i cnturies. Tantrism has been so pervasive i hat all o f H induism after the eleventh century. A s the G oddess receives w isdom from Siva. asks the questions and Siva. the follow ers o f the Tantras. Pàrvatï. in some sense. perhaps w ith the exception of the vedic Srauta tradition.those o f the Sâkta tradition . w hile Buddhist Vajrayânists w ou ld sim ilarly i ej.e.m ost o f their contents are o f a more sober nature and they contain material on a w ide range o f topics.ard their Tantras as the culm ination o f M ahâyana Buddhism . Um à). areas in w hich im portant manuscripts have been preserved. Revelation was. The Tantras often regard themselves as secret.26 W hile the Tantras are notorious fo r their erotic and antinomian elements . I a ill ric Saiva groups w ou ld regard their revelations as the esoteric culm i­ nation o f Vedic orthodoxy. While being rejected by vedic orthodoxy.ritual sex and the consum ption o f alcohol and meat offered to ferocious deities . A 1 form s o f Saiva. the Tântrikas placing their ow n system s at the top o f a hierarchy. The G odd ess. A lth ough they are 159 . and transmitted to the human world via a series of intermediate sages.Satva and tantric religion Siva. answers. as the master. included the orthodox system w ithin their ow n as a lo w er level «*1 attainment and understanding. is influenced b y is Siva w h o does the asking and the G oddess w h o replies. or in some cases vice versa. This narrative structure reflects the im portance and centrality o f the guru in Tantrism. as the disciple. the itintrikas. In some Tantras focused on the G oddess . Indeed. The meanings o f the Tantras are often obscure and it must be rem em ­ bered that they w ere com piled w ithin the context o f a living. even those form s w hich wanted to distance themselves from Tantrism. Bengal and A ssam w ere also im portant and the Tantras penetrated to the far south. In the Vaisnava Tantras (i. absorbed elements derived from the Tantras. p rogres­ sive.

the Tantras are concerned with the attaining of magical powers (siddhi) and the experience of bliss in higher worlds (bhoga) as part of the practitioner’s spiritual journey.there is a common ritual structure in the Tantras. nam ely doctrine (v id y a . Their union within the body is the symbolic expression of liberation.or jn a n a -p a d a ). yoga. The male deity is often Siva and his Sakti is the Goddess Kundalinl. mandala). though on ly exceptionally do the texts fo llo w this scheme. there are nevertheless com m on elements.the Tantras are concerned with practice or sadhana. doctrine. . . .28 The m ost com m on features contained in the Tantras are the follow ing. though some o f these are not unique to the Tantras and not all Tantras contain all these elements: . yo ga (yoga-pada) and discipline or correct behaviour (carya-pada). the creation of a divine body/self through mantra. followed by external worship or puja. internal worship or visualization. though variation with regard to deities and mantras. ritual (ik riya-p ad a ). Traditionally the Tantras should cover four topics or stand on four ‘feet’ or ‘ su pports’ (pada). hierarchical cosm ologies. regarding their ow n revelations as going beyond those o f other 1 60 . particularly in respect o f spiritual practice (sadhana) and ritual: practice cuts across doctrinal distinctions. .An introduction to Hinduism prim arily ritual texts. as a journey of the Kundalinl through the body. mantra repetition and the construction of sacred diagrams (yantra. which involves initiation (diksa). .27 W hile there is divergence over doctrine and each tantric system regards itself as superior to the others. the Tantras also explain the form ation o f m antras. and the cosmic polarity of the male deity and his consort. which is also conceptualized. the tantric orders tended to be sectarian. For example the highest world of the Saiva Siddhanta is transcended by further worlds within Kashmir Saiva traditions. the female energy. ritual and yoga. initiations. This process involves the use of hand gestures (m udra). This structure can be summarized as the purification of the body through its symbolic destruction. A lthough these are com m on features.the Tantras are concerned with possession (dves'a) and exorcism. appropriate behaviour and temple architec­ ture. and experienced.the Tantras present elaborate hierarchical cosmologies which absorb the cosmic hierarchies of earlier traditions. the evolution o f sound from subtle to gross levels.the body is divine and contains the cosmic hierarchy within it.

w h om they w o u ld appease with non-vegetarian offerings.30 These ascetic groups w ou ld have been supported b y lo w castes w ho lived b y the cremation grounds. Texts such as the Netra Tantra bear witness to cults o f possession and exorcism . Tantric influence was a real social concern and its infiltration into co u rtly circles in K ashm ir was caricatured b y dramatists such as Ksem endra. alcohol and sexual substances. in w hich the practilioner w ou ld invite the deity to possess him (avesa m am . largely due to M uslim onslaughts and the establishing o f the D elhi Sultanate (12 0 6 -15 2 6 ). after the tw elfth century. The I . but m ore significantly so are the higher social levels o f the Brahm ans and the court. groups o f ecstatic ascetics w ou ld imitate their terrible deities such as Bhairava and the goddess K ali. but w h o w ere above low-caste groups. is influenced b y tantric asceticism.31 H ow ever. B y the early medieval period. K ashm ir was plundered b y M ahm ud o f G h azni in 10 14 . Tantrism has survived and been absorbed into the social matrix. ‘ enter m e’) but would attempt to control the deity and so gain power. a form o f Siva. In the south. I lere the popular cult o f the deity Svacchanda-Bhairava. The Tantras are used as temple texts and are quite respectable in Tamilnadu and Kerala w here ‘Tantris’ are high-caste 161 . Tantrism rapidly declined in northern and central India. o f w h om the Saiva theologian A bhinavagupta was a part.29 These ascetics are beyond the pale o f vedic o rth o­ doxy: the ascetic ideal is here expressed at a low er social level. C o n trolled Ih>ssession w ou ld have been a feature o f their practice. TheTantras The social basis of the Tantras I here is very little know n about the social status o f the Tantrikas.ultras seem to have originated am ong ascetic groups living in crem ation grounds.tiiiiva and tantric religion thereby recapitulate a general feature of Hindu tra•Inions: they incorporate previous religious lorms and texts within them . beyond the region o f M uslim dom ination. Indeed the learned Brahm an elite. The ideologies o f these groups began to influence not on ly popular reli­ gion.ii a lower level. Such crem ation-ground asceticism goes back a long w ay in Indian religion and the Pali canon o f Theravada Buddhism hears witness to it. began to transform extreme tantric id eology into a m ore respectable religion o f the higher castes. but also brahmanical circles. w ho w ere prob ab ly not o f brahm anical origin. though remained free from M uslim dom ination until the tw elfth century. ii'ftditions. as w e see in eleventh-century Kashm ir.

An introduction to Hinduism Nambudri Brahmans who install icons in temples. norm ative form o f Saivism in south India. on the other hand. w hich is presupposed b y all the non-Siddhänta tradi­ tions. The Saiva Siddhänta is a ‘ dualist’ system . maintaining that there is an eternal distinction between the L o rd and the soul. O rigin ally it was not concerned w ith bhakti but w ith ritual. in contrast to the m onistic ‘ K ash m ir’ Saivism w hich view ed the L ord and the soul as one. com prises all the Saiva Tantras. on the scriptures o f other traditions w hile regarding itself as transcending all scriptures. M onistic Saivism replaced the £aiva Siddhänta in Kashm ir. These are themselves subdivided into a num ber o f traditions. it origin ally developed in the north. There w ere a num ber o f eminent Saiva Siddhänta theologians w h o w rote com mentaries on tantric texts and com ­ posed independent w orks on ritual and theology. or the teach­ ings o f Bhairava (Bhairava-sästra ). There are tw enty-eight Tantras o f the Saiva Siddhänta (divided into ten Siva Ägamas and eighteen Rudra Ägamas) and num erous Bhairava Tantras. it m ay be the case that it did not have its ow n distinctive revelation. as did the parallel Sri Vaisnava tradition. a vast b o d y o f texts belonging to a num ber o f groups. relying. The m ost im portant dis­ tinction w ith the path o f mantras is between the tradition know n as the Saiva Siddhänta on the one hand. particularly in Kashmir. A ccording to Saiva Siddhänta theology there are three distinct cate162 . T H E SAIVA S I D D H Ä N T A The Saiva Siddhänta provides the basic ritual and doctrinal system o f the Path o f M antras. using Tamil scriptures. and Bhojadeva (eleventh century) and A ghorasiva (twelfth century) in the south.33 It is to the Saiva Siddhänta that w e turn first. In Tamilnadu the tradition com es to incorporate an em otional devotion (bhakti) expressed in the hym ns o f the Tamil saints. and non-Siddhänta groups.32 The revelation o f the path o f mantras (. rather. W hile the Saiva Siddhänta is the m ost im portant. The path of m antras A lth ou gh the outer or higher path (atimärga) does have the Pdsupata Sutra . the m ost significant amongst them being Sadyojoti (eighth century) in Kashm ir.mantramärga ). a long way from Tantrism’s cremation-ground origins. w hich then established itself after the eleventh or tw elfth century in the south. on the other.

Liberation is thought to occur fo r the initiated Saiva Siddhantin at death. pasu (‘Soul’. but could becom e a Siva. As Sadasiva. as o f m ost other Indian religions. B ou n d souls are beings w ith con ­ sciousness w h o are entangled in the unconscious material universe. T h e Lord. The soul could never becom e one w ith Siva. from w hich the material and mental universe is generated. the concealing o f himself. creating it via a regent. The L ord is the efficient cause o f the cosm os. distinct from £iva. souls (j>asn)% and the mental and m ater­ ial universe which binds them (pasa). the material cause and sub­ stance o f w hich the universe is a transform ation. To achieve this end the practitioner (sadloaka) undergoes initiation b y a consecrated teacher (acarya) and undertakes a process o f d aily and occasional rituals w hich 163 . The three ontological cate­ gories can be sum m arized as follow s: Pati (‘ L ord ’) Siva. he performs the five acts of emission. its m ainte­ nance. H e is w h o lly transcendent and distinct from the eternal substance o f m aya. b y im purity (mala). b y m aya. the L o rd Ananta. ‘beast’) The individual soul. its material substratum. comprising many different worlds. b y action and its consequences (karm a). H avin g been manifested. and the revealing o f himself through grace. w hich means that he becomes om niscient and om nipotent. The universe. the material substratum (maya) and Siva’s will. but on tologically distinct from him. is liberation from the cycle o f reincarnation. concealment and bestowing grace. like Siva. conceived as becom ing equal to Siva. lit. The soteriological goal o f the Saiva Siddhanta. its re-absorption. the cosm os eventually dissolves back again into m aya in an endless process o f emanation and re-absorption. action. efficient cause of the cosmos.Savva ami tantrie religion ju ries o f existence: the Lord (j)ati). is manifested from maya. The soul is eventually liberated from this entan­ glement b y ritual action and b y Siva’s grace. bound in the cosmos because of impurity. in an aspect called Sadasiva. re-absorption. pasa (‘bond’) The universe which comprises all mental and material phenomena. maintenance. and b y the L o rd ’s pow er o f w ill. perform s five actions: the em ission o f the cosm os. w ho activates m aya.

34 E ssentially Siva is treated as an honoured guest. This w o u ld certainly be true o f m any tantric system s. the sou l’s freedom could on ly be attained b y ritual after initiation. fo r according to the Tantras o n ly a god can w orship a god: ‘having becom e Siva one should w orsh ip Siva’ . These texts are still used today in the south. because the so ul’s bondage is ultim ately caused b y im purity (mala) w hich is a su b ­ stance. A substance cannot be rem oved b y thought or cognition. and after a process o f purification is invited or brought dow n into the icon or lihga before w hich the devotee w orships and offers his services to the god. W hile this path o f ritual is open to all classes. such as that b y Som asam bhu (twelfth century) describing a ritual structure. but o n ly through action: thought cannot affect the w o rld . along w ith children. w h o are categorized as ineligible fo r the com m on initiation. but is finally attained on ly due to the pow er o f the Lord. KAPALIKA SAIVISM The Saiva Siddhanta form s the basic ritual and theological system o f the Path o f M antras. Siva then leaves the linga concluding the daily ritual. H ow ever. the basics o f w hich are found in all tantric traditions. in w hich the soul and the absolute are ultim ately one. the mad and the disabled. in that liberation is not a mechanical process. W omen can participate in the w orsh ip o f Siva but on ly vicariou sly through their husbands w h o perform the Saiva liturgies. O ne o f the essential practices w ithin this and all tantric ritual is the divinization o f the w orshipper. and there are ritual manuals (paddhati) com posed sum m arizing the procedures. the old. but action can. a wom an can rise up to Siva’s abode through the merit o f her husband’s practice. F o r the Saiva Siddhanta. The other main branch w ithin this division com prises the 164 . but not so w ith the Saiva Siddhanta.An introduction to Hinduism gradually rem ove im purity from tlu* soul. it is not open to w om en. however.35 This practice o f identification w ith the deity could be seen as the ritual expression o f a m onistic m etaphysics. The dualist A gam as and Tantras contain details o f the dom estic and temple w orsh ip necessary fo r salvation. counterbalanced b y a doctrine o f grace. The logic o f this effort-oriented doctrine is. There are two initiations which he must undertake?the lesser initiation into the shared scriptures and ritu­ als o f the cult (the sam aya-diksa) and the liberating initiation (n irva n a diksa) w hich ensures the soul’s final release. R ather it means that the practitioner (sadhaka) becomes equal to Siva w hile rem aining ontologically distinct.

appeasing his deities w ith offerings w hich w ou ld be anathema to the vedic practitioner. The classification ol Tan tras and groups within iliis category is highly com plex. such as the Svacch an dabhairava-T an tra. This cat|. In place o f vegetarian food the K ápálika offered meat. These w ere h igh ly polluting activities lor an orthodox Brahm an and even the sight o f such an ascetic w ou ld p o l­ lute him. distinct from the tw entyri|»ht Agam as o f Saiva Siddhánta. that is. in place o f m ilk the K ápálika offered w ine.36 The practitioners w h o com ­ posed these texts and w ho practised asceticism in the cremation ground where they originated. These Tantras.siddhi) which he thought he could achieve through breaking social taboos. w hile the Seat o f V idyás contained texts belonging to extreme cults o f the G oddess. W ithin the Bhairava Tantras. meat. very popular in the Kashm ir valley. W hile meat and w ine w ere com m on enough among the low er castes.K°ry includes a num ber o f sub-divisions. but they are all characterized b y mi emphasis on the worship o f ferocious form s o f Siva. the penance fo r Bi ahmanicide. and excluded from the world o f p u ja. there is further division into texts belong­ ing to the ‘ Seat o f M antras’ (m antrapitha) and those belonging to the ‘Seat of V id yá s’ (vid y á p ith a ). Yet his doctrines and practices w ere developed on the basis o f Saiva Siddhánta id eology w hich lie radically reinterpreted. The Kápálika ascetic was quite the opposite o f the respectable Smárta Brahman householder or even Saiva Siddhántin. The goal o f the K ápálika was pow er (. and the ferocious G oddess K ali. The K ápálika ascetic lived in the crem ation \\rounds. alcohol and sexual fluids from ritual intercourse unconstrained b y caste restrictions. and harnessing the p ow er o f his deities through controlled possession. the ‘ skull-m en5. like the Lákula ascetic o f the higher path. so called because. the pow er (sakti) o f Siva. such as the god Bhairava. they carried a skulllopped staff (khatvariga) and carried a cranium begging bow l. they w ere im pure for a Brahm an.Suiva and tuntrie religion non Siddhánta system s. w ere called Kápálikas. A n orthodox Brahm an w o u ld make on ly pure. im itating his fierce deities and appeasing these deities w ith o ffer­ ings o f blood. are called the Bhairava Tantras. the m ost im portant o f w hich are the K aula or K u la. they had undertaken the ‘ great vow ’ (m ah dvrata). vegetarian offerings to his gods and sexual activity w ou ld be constrained b y the code o f varn dsram a-dh arm a. a name which comes to refer to a num ber o f groups as w ell 165 . W ithin the Seat o f M antras w ere texts belonging to the cult of Siva in the form of Svacchanda.

K apalika asceticism has all but died out in I ndia.37 THE KAULA TRADITION The K aula or K u la tradition developed w ithin the context o f the K apalika crem ation-ground asceticism. w hich it remains in the south to this day.An introduction to Hinduism as a general orientation towards tannic worship o f female deities. refers to the families o f goddesses (yogini) w h o are the retinues o f a num ber o f tantric deities and their consorts. The Trika o f K ashm ir Saivism develops from this transm ission. a clear picture emerges o f mild cults on the one hand. the Trika was 166 . The id eology and some o f the practices o f the extreme K aula cults w ere adapted to be palatable to a w ider audience. though it is unclear precisely h ow this self-classification relates to the sociohistorical reality o f these groups. The Saiva Siddhanta. perform ing a corpseeating ritual. as the norm ative system . The w estern transm ission focuses on the hunch-backed crone K u b jika and the southern transm ission w orships the beautiful. The term k u la . using bodily products to appease their god and. The northern transm is­ sion w orships the terrible G oddess G u h yak ali and form s the basis o f the Kram a system w hich w orships a series o f ferocious deities in a sequence (k ram a). U n like the Saiva Siddhanta. The K aula divides itself into four trans­ m issions named after the directions. This developm ent has come to be know n as ‘ K ash m ir’ Saivism. particu­ larly Saiva Siddhanta. m editating in the cremation grounds. erotic. G oddess-oriented cults on the other. i A lth ough the developm ent o f these tantric groups and their texts is com plex. with the exception o f the A gh o ris particularly in Varanasi. and extreme. Kam esvari or Tripurasundarl. KASHMIR SAIVISM K ashm ir Saivism refers to the developm ent o f the eastern K aula transm is­ sion know n as the Trika (‘T h reefo ld’) into a householder religion akin to the Saiva Siddhanta. established itself as a householder’s religion. eating from skulls. in theory if not practice. who preserve the Kapalika ethos. m eaning ‘fam ily’. w h o w orsh ipped ferocious deities (particularly the goddesses) w h o demand appeasement w ith blood. This form s the basis o f the Sri V id ya tradi­ tion in the south (see pp. alco­ hol and erotic offerings. how ever. The eastern transm ission in this model w orships Siva and Sakti as K ulesvara and Kulesvari. w orshipping Siva as Sadasiva. surrounded b y their retinue o f goddesses.

the individ­ ual soul and the universe or bond. its theological articulation in the w o rk s o f these authors is called the ‘ Recognition’ school (Pratyabhijna). cit). The initiate w o u ld p u rify his b o d y through its sym bolic destruction. maintaining a theology of the identity ol the Lord. 875-925) bad a dream in w hich Siva told him to go to the M ahadeva m ountain in k ashmir. the m onistic ideology and practice came to influence and appeal to Brahm an householders w h o appropriated Trika teachings. T h e aim o f life is to recognize one’s identity w ith the absolute consciousness o f Siva w h o. perform mental or inner w orship w hich involved the visualization o f the sym bol o f Siva’s trident pervading the body. W hile the ritual system or basis o f K ashm ir Saivism is the I rika. involved a daily. A part from this divine 1 evelation. The n »Ninos is an emanation or vibration o f consciousness and individual In mgs are but manifestations o f the absolute ‘ G reat Siva’ (M ahesvara or 1*41 amesvara) w hose nature is pure consciousness. and finally perform an exter­ nal w orsh ip w ith an external sym bolic diagram (m andala). 900-50). These arc not separate ontologies but i v. a sage called Vasugupta (c. w h o was the grand-teacher o f the greatest Saiva theologian A bhinavagupta (c. 9 25-75). there w ere authors w h o gave theological articulation to m onis1 ic Saiva texts o f human authorship. as w ell as form s o f yogic practice called the ‘m ethods’ (u paya) w hich included the practice o f Kundalini yo ga (see p. becom es Kali at the Trika’s esoteric heart. re-create it w ith the im position o f mantras (nyasa). The visualized trident is significant fo r Trika th eology in that each prong represents one 167 . tim e-consum ing ritual w hich follow ed the pattern o f Saiva Siddhanta. the S iva Sutras. who first gave theological articulation to m onistic Saivism in his ‘V ision o f Siva’ (Sivadrsti). The soteriological goal nj the Trika initiate is to merge his individual consciousness back into a lusher. however. universal consciousness.Saiva and tantric religion monistic. Trika practice (. m anifested at a cult level in the form s o f Siva and also the G oddess Kali. and his disciple U tpaladeva (c. described in A bhinavagupta’s com pendium the ‘ Light on the Tantra’ (Tantraloka). O n this mountain he is said to have found verses inscribed upon a rock. Alongside the tantric revelation. absorbing them m ore into the mainstream o f H indu traditions and articulai ing a theology distinct from the Saiva dualists. W hile the Trika originated as a crem ationi. 9 75 -10 25). 99).mund cult. particu larly Somananda (c.sadhana). w hich outline the teaching o f Saiva monism: a text which form s one o f the k ey sources o f the tradition.m tially a single reality w hose nature is consciousness (sam vit.

namely Para (‘ the Suprem e’). H ow ever. pervaded b y Tamil cultural values and form s. Sakti. love o f the land. expressed in the early C ankam literature o f the classical Tamil age p rior to the third century c e .An introduction to Hinduism o f three goddesses. T H E S O U T H E R N SAIVA S I D D H A N T A A s Saiva Siddhanta faded in K ashm ir it developed in Tamilnadu. The the­ o lo gy o f the tradition maintained the three categories o f the L o rd . and love o f life gener­ ally. it established thriving temple cultures. fo r w ith its m ove to the south aw ay from direct M uslim rule. The cultural context o f the Tamil love o f poetry. This ritual act recapitulates the union (yam ala) o f Siva and his energy. w hich still survive today. Prvrapara (‘ the Suprem e N on Suprem e’) and A para (the N on-Suprem e). the soul and the bond. devotional religion. the Saiva equivalent o f the A lvars.39 The Trika theologians. 168 . the significant feature w hich p ro fo u n d ly affected the tra­ dition in the south was that it merged w ith the Tamil Saiva cult expressed in the Tamil b h akti p oetry o f the sixty-three Tamil Saiva saints. how ever. The Saiva Siddhanta absorbed bh akti and became a Tamil religion. and the litu rgy maintained the pattern o f the dualist A gamas. These in turn represent m anifestations o f pure conscious­ ness expressed as the goddess Kalasam karsini. Trika ide­ o lo gy was v e ry influential at a courtly level and m any o f its ideas and prac­ tices w ere absorbed into orthodox Smarta Brahm anism . 10 00 -50). The Saiva Siddhanta remains strong in Tamilnadu today. from which the name 'T rika’ is derived. and a group o f ‘original Saiva’ priests. leaving o n ly an echo o f the tradition in m odern times. lies the ‘ secret ritual’ (the kulayaga) which involves offering the G oddess meat and alcohol. The dualist doctrine. Th ough p ro b ab ly never popular among lo w er strata o f society. transform ed the Saiva Siddhanta into a Tamil. K ashm ir Saivism all but died out. particularly A bhinavagupta and his disciple Ksem araja (c. the A disaivas. w hile vanishing from Kashm ir. W ith the subjugation o f K ash m ir b y the M uslim s in the eleventh century.40 W ith the Saiva Siddhanta the sto ry is different. as occurred to Vaisnavism in the south. A t a deeper layer o f Trika liturgy. the N ayan ars. successfully defeated the dualist interpretation o f scripture in Kashm ir. sometimes w ith royal patronage. took root in the south where it fused w ith Tamil devotionalism . fo r the spiritually elect. and ritual sex between the practitioner and his female partner. and the aesthetic pleasure (rasa) arising from this ritualized sexual congress recapitulates the jo y (ananda) and w on d er (cam atkara) o f pure consciousness.

what is forem ost is the direct relationship between the devotee and the Lo rd . though. unmatta) w ith the love o f G o d and straying from accepted social and personal behaviour. w e read o f devotees as being ‘ m ad’ (piccu. there is alw ays the possib il­ ity that bhakti could be w ild. Th e devotional traditions o f Saiva Siddhanta and the Lingayats (see pp. though not exclusively. These three poets. which had the blessing o f the C h o la kings. There is almost a sense o f anti-structure in these hym ns and a reversal o f received social norm s: in M anikkavacakar’s Tiruvacakam (‘ Sacred Verses’). 1 7 1 . along w ith the later ninth-cen­ tu ry saint. H indu orthodoxy. for example.2 ) have expressed. and the Saiva Siddhanta Sastras. Yet. all that is needed is love and the grace o f the Lord. but rather encompassed them w ithin their ideological structures. unlike a subject’s devotion. the needs o f non-brahm anical social groups. that is the Brahmans w ith royal support. did not generally actively repress m ove­ ments w hich could be seen as antithetical to orth od ox interests. Indeed. are regarded as 169 . uncontrolled and ecstatic. arc still qualified to perform worship in Saiva Siddhanta temples. C am pantar and C untarar (sixth-eighth centuries c e ) w hose p oetry form s the Tevaram . Bhakti tends to reject caste and gen­ « der restrictions as having any consequence fo r salvation. in favou r o f an em otional. a collection com piled and classified on the basis o f music in the tenth century b y N am p i A ntar N am pi. w hich con ­ tains the p oetry o f the N ayanars. M anikkavacakar. Saiva bhakti stresses the loss o f the limited self and ephemeral w o rld ly interests. As with Vaisnava bhakti . A m on g the poets w hose w o rk appears in the Saiva canon are A ppar. the author o f the Tiruvacakam . the tw elve books o f the Tamil Saiva canon called the Tirumurai. Yet devotionalism within these traditions has in turn been absorbed into m ore form al structures w hich the founders o f bhakti m ovem ents m ay have originally been against. In the vision o f bhakti presented in the Tamil sources. perhaps ironically. devotion to a tem ple deity might be seen as an analogue o f the subject’s devotion to the king. The texts revered b y the southern Saiva Siddhanta are the Vedas. outpouring 1>ve for an eternal transcendent Lord. bhakti and the hym ns o f the Tamil saints became part of the Saiva canon and an integral part o f structured temple w orsh ip. the tw enty-eight dualist Agam as w hich form the ritual basis o f the tradition.Saiva ami tantrie religion Irom five Brahman families. The Tirumurai contains a vast b od y o f material w hose dates span a 600-year period from about the sixth to the tw elfth centuries.

and an em otional bhakti cult based on the hym ns o f the 170 . A nother im portant factor which led to the developm ent o f bhakti was popular reaction against Buddhism and Jainism . both Saiva and Vaisnava.42 There w as constant political and m ilitary conflict between these k in g­ dom s. Sanskrit siddha ).41 U n d er the C holas. can be seen in part as a reaction against a system w hich oppressed the lo w er social strata and im posed heavy tax burdens in order to finance m ilitary struggles. and o f being filthy and generally anti-social. the period du ring w hich the N ayan ars w ere com posing their hym ns. and puja to perceptible deities the practice. w hich w ere w ell established in the south until about 1200 c e . 8701 280). devel­ oped a strong social structure akin to feudalism . The Jains particularly bore the brunt o f the devotees’ invective. devotion becom ing the predom i­ nant ideology. D urin g the period from 600 c e to the rise o f the C embedded hierarchy o f patronage w hich w ou ld have involved a sophisticated bureaucracy. as w ell as w ith the C h alu k ya kingdom to the north. Tamil yogis w hose ideas are expressed in T irum ular’s Tirumantiram. There is brahmanical adherence to the Veda. both ascetic and renunci­ atory traditions. as they jostled fo r territory and power. Tamil Saiva Siddhanta is therefore a fusion o f a num ber o f elements.An introduction to Hinduism the founding fathers o f the Saiva Siddhania in the south. These poets praise Siva and the tem ples o f south India where he lives.43 W ritings against caste can also be found am ongst the ‘ adepts’ (Tamil cittar . there is nevertheless a strong sense in w hich bhakti is opposed to rigid structures and rationalized systems: all devotees o f Siva are his slaves (atiyar) and each has a personal relationship w ith him outside any institu­ tionalized religion. w hich stressed the equality o f devotees. a strong cult o f tem ple ritual. though practically it is neglected in favou r o f the A gam as. based on the Agam as and focused on Siva’s form s located in temples throughout the sacred Tamil land. The doctrines o f renunciation and the ‘ atheism’ o f these religions had little appeal to Tamil culture in the medieval period and so they died out. being accused o f know ing no Tamil or Sanskrit (but o n ly Prakrit). the Pallavas w ho ruled northern Tam ilnadu and the Pandeyas w h o ruled the south. Saivism enjoyed patronage with the great tem ­ ple at Cidam baram becom ing an im portant political and religious centre. The bhakti m ovem ent. W hile the bhakti m ovem ent should not be exaggerated as an articulation o f a ‘class strug­ gle’ . form ing a netw ork ol pilgrim age sites and creating a sacred geography which also became a sacred political geography with the dyn asty o f the C hola kings (c.

A n oth er im portant regional tradition. The tw o k ey texts used in temple ritual are the Tantrasamuccaya b y C enasnam budri (fifteenth century c e ) and the Isanasivagurudeva-paddhati w hich dates back to the twelfth century. G anesa.Saiva and tantric religion NityauSirs.idition in neighbouring Karnataka soon became infected by Tamil ilrvolionalism. they still reflect an archaic tantric w o rld view and reflect the roots o f Tantrism in crem ation-ground asceti­ cism. T A N T R I S M IN K E R A L A l. rapidly spread north and the Lingayat * ti. This emotional bhakli. There is a. particularly goddesses. w e can see the im portance o f I intrism in the general temple culture and the w a y in w hich tantric form s » 1 worship are integral to daily ritual practices. ‘wearers o f the linga\ or V irasaivas. and low -caste regional deities. while originating in the south with the l*i mi ry of the Nayanars and Alvars. incorporating in its w orsh ip a num ber o f brahmanical Saiva and Vaisnava deities. In Kerala a Tantri is a N am bu dri Brahm an belonging to one o f a group o f families ranked in a status hierarchy. in K erala these dislinctions are not maintained and Kerala Tantrism cannot be classified in l his way. TH E LINGAYATS The Lingayats. as indeed inTam ilnadu. ‘ heroes fo r Siva’ . a fusion o f bloakti w ith Tantrism. Visnu. generally low -caste. Yet. w as that o f the Lingayats. though seem to have had some 171 . In Kerala. the extrem e south-w est o f India. and a Tantri might w ell perform the functions o f both tem ­ ple priest and ‘ m agician’ (mantravadin ). w hile the daily ritual observances are per­ formed b y piijdr is o f different families.mtrism also took root in Kerala. w hich developed in A ndh ra Pradesh. such as Siva. whereas in Tamilnadu > i an trie traditions are clearly either Saiva or Vaisnava.44 W hile these texts are used in the temple tantric cults o f the respectable householder religion. The main function o f these Tantris is to install icons in temples. tradition o f ritual magic to cure sickness and w ard o ff m isfortune. The precise origins o f Tantrism in K erala are unclear. where 11 has become one o f the predom inant traditions o f the N am b u dri lit ¿limans. The Tantrism o f K erala appears to be far Irom the crem ation-ground traditions o f northern Tantrism and has become com pletely em bedded w ithin orthoprax vaidika traditions. though the tradi­ tion m ay have com e from Kashmir. the mantravadam . w ere founded b y Basava (twelfth century c e ) .

Take these husbands who die. w h o expressed his devotion in p o etry and founded a new com munity. and feed them to your kitchen fires!45 Basava was vehem ently against the caste system and ritualistic religion. lived out his days aw ay from the co m ­ m unity he founded. h o w ­ ever. including caste-free marriage.. according to B asava’s biographer. Basava (c. w hich is w orsh ipped daily.47 172 .An introduction to Hinduism connections with the Kalam ukha order. H e began a com m unity at K alyan a w hich em phasized egalitarianism. as is done w ith h o ly men. This in turn led to repression o f the Lirigayat com m unity. caused a riot against the king w h o was assassinated. w h o w as opposed to the com m u­ n ity ’s violence against the king. The Lin gayats therefore need no orthoprax funereal rites and bury their dead. naked ascetic and is iconographically depicted clothed only in her hair.46 Indeed. and developed an ethos o f w hat V ictor Turner has called com munitas or ‘com m union’ . In her poetry she writes o f her longing fo r Siva and she scorns w o rld ly love as impermanent and unsatisfactory: I love the Beautiful One with no bond nor fear no clan no land no landmarks for his beau ty. H e was a social and religious reform er. She became a wandering. There is still a large Lirigayat com m u­ n ity in Karnataka. 110 6 -6 7 ) was a Saiva Brahm an at the court o f K in g Bijjala. a devotee o f Siva as the ‘ L o rd o f the M eeting o f R iv ers’. rather than repressing the com m unity. decay. an act w hich. the king o f K alyan a. M ahadevyakka. w hich nevertheless survived. A n oth er notable poet am ong the Lin gayat com m unity was a you nger contem porary o f Basava. except for a liriga worn around the neck. a w edding occurred betw een the son o f an outcaste and the daughter o f a Brahm an. This flouting o f social convention led to K in g B ijjala condem ning the couples’ fathers to death. The Lirigayat devotee believes that upon death he w ill go straight to union w ith Siva and that there w ill be no return to the w orld . U nlike the Kalam ukhas. they lay emphasis on devotion rather than asceticism and reject tem ­ ple w orsh ip and icon w orship.. Basava.

perhaps as far as the Indus valley civilization. Saivism is a com plex and rich tradition. am ong the Tantras w here the G oddess predom articulation in the post-G u pta period. ranging from the orthoprax Smarta or pauranika w o r­ ship o f Siva. to ecstatic bh akti. A s w ith Vaisnavism . W ithin the tantric realm. reaching a * Ic. and to h igh ly esoteric and antinomian lorms o f w orship in its tantric extreme.Stiivd twd tantric religion Sum m ary As with Vaisnavism. less concerned w ith locating 11 self in the tradition stem ming from the vedic revelation. it is difficult to distinguish between Saiva and Sakta orientations. and incorporated the vedic revelaIion within it at a low er level. 173 . Saivism has been generally less orthoprax than Vaisnavism . though its roots stretch back a long way. It has provided its ow n revelation in the Saiva Tantras. there is a w ide diversity of religious form s. It is this m ore exclusive Sakta w in g of the tantric material and the religion o f the G oddess generally to w hich we now turn.

W endy O ’Flaherty has referred to tw o distinct categories o f Indian goddesses w hich reflect these tw o natures: on the one hand are ‘ goddesses o f tooth ’ w h o are erotic. the benevolent mother w h o is giving and overflow ing.8 The Goddess and Sakta traditions The traditions o f Siva and Visnu have dom inated H indu literature and have been the m ajor focus o f devotional attention. subservient to their divine husbands. as W endy O ’F laherty observes. w hose w orship m ay go back to p re­ historic times if sixth. Yet there is nevertheless a vital H indu G oddess tradition and m any goddesses are w orshipped daily throughout south A sia. O n the one hand she is the source o f life. on the other are ‘ goddesses o f breast’ w ho are auspicious. The high-ranking goddesses o f breast are sexually controlled w ithin a brahmanical fram ew ork. W orship o f the H in du G oddess is also im portant beyond the bounds o f H induism in contem porary western revivals o f G oddess w o rsh ip .1 The G oddess is a contradictory and am bivalent figure in H induism . low -ranking and dom inate their consorts if they have any. to attack 174 . the low -ran kin g goddesses o f tooth are free. The innum erable goddesses o f local tradi­ tions are generally regarded b y H indus as m anifestations or aspects o f a single G reat G oddess or M aha D evi.2 The goddesses o f breast are generally role models o f H indu w om en w h o em body maternal quali­ ties o f generosity and graciousness.or fifth-m illennia terracotta figurines are taken to be G oddess images. meat and alcohol to placate her wrath. ferocious and dangerous. bountiful and fertile. w hile the goddesses o f tooth are independent. yet on the other she is a terrible malevolent force w h o demands offerings o f blood.

and w hich . H ow ever. The Säkta tradition is.ile deities. We w ill then go on to trace developments in the h istory o f G oddess w orsh ip am ong the orthoprax Brahmans.iins a w ild independence as a sym bol o f the reversal o f brahmanical values. The m yth of Devi There are a num ber o f narrative traditions about the G oddess and m inor goddesses in the Puränas and Tantras. especially the D evib h ä g a va ta Puräna and the D evim ä h ä tm ya . the tribals. the w arrior goddess w h o slays the buffalo dem on Mahisa.The (iodilrss and Sakta traditions M ' There are some exceptions to this distinction and some goddesses. ihe universe. at its tantric heart Saivism is pervaded b y feminized images o f divinity and practice. H indu o rth op raxy contains the G oddess w ithin a brahm anical structure. a name fo r the G oddess denoting the female ‘p o w e r’ or ‘en ergy5 o f . is incorporated into m thoprax. particularly at village level w here her demands are ve ry immediate as are her boons. B oth Vaisnavism and Saivism have incorpo14led the G oddess w ithin them as the consorts or energies (sakti) o f their in. Devi. Yet. This m yth is central to the cult o f D evi and provides the inspira­ tion fo r her main iconographic representation w hich show s her as M ahisamardinl. she maini. and at village only Säktas w orship the G oddess. embraces both of these images and her cults express this ambivalence. less clearly defined than V i ivism or Vaisnavism . Indeed it w ou ld be greatly misleading to assume ili. In this chapter I w ill first describe images o f the G oddess in m yth and iconography w hich developed during the first m illennium c e . A lm o st all H indus w ill revere her in some capacity. a part o f the M ärkan deya Puräna. are both beautiful and independent. the 175 . ini «in h as Tripurasundari. The m yth is told in a num ber o f variants in the Puränas. on the edges o f the brahm anical w orld . how ever. puranic w orsh ip and her tantric w orsh ip becomes brahm anj/. the I ii cAt (ioddess.ire still im portant in contem porary H induism . T he m ost im portant m anifestation of D evi is D urgä. W ith Säkta texts this fem inized irligion becomes overt in both puranic and tantric manifestations. the slayer o f the buffalo demon. I >evotees o f the G oddess are generally called Säktas: the follow ers o f * ilui. on the edges o f brahmanical authority am ongst the low er castes. The latter text. as w e have seen. among the tantric traditions. The < ioddess.ed in the later medieval tradition o f the Sri V id yä. and m the tantric m iddle ground between the high and lo w castes.

M ah isa himself in a handsom e hum an form goes to D evi and again p roposes marriage. terror and wonder. and he and his councillors are confused b y her am orous dem eanour yet her w arlike talk. had obtained a boon from Brahm a that he could not be killed b y any male. so he thinks. he firstly conquers the w o rld aiul then. but D evi drinks wine. assum ing the form s of different animals. The rem aining dem ons flee to hell and D evi is praised b y the gods w h om she prom ises to help w henever necessary. Th rou gh his en vo ys. The gods m anifest replicas o f their w eapons and give them to her. unw arlike and w h ere a w om an’s role is defined in terms o f male authority on w hich a w om an should always be dependent as daughter. and a w om an. and defeats him. or mother. She gives out a terrible laugh and the gods shout ‘v ic to ry ’ . M ahisa proposes m arriage to D evi w ho refuses him. The buffalo dem on. F ro m the bodies and angered faces o f the gods. Indra scorns M ahisa and a terrible battle ensues in which Indra is defeated and flees to Brahma fo r shelter. W ith the confidence o f his invincibility. but she tells him that she has been born to protect the righteous and that he must flee to hell or fight. M ahisa’s initial reac176 . M ahisasura or sim ply M ahisa (‘ buffalo ’). laughter. M ahisa can not be killed by any male. then to Siva and finally to Visnu. elates Irom the fifth to seventh ceil* turies c e . heroism. w h o is. the king o f the gods.An introduction to Hinduism earliest w ork g lo rifyin g the ( foddcss. w ife. telling him o f the beauty o f the Goddess w h o is unm arried and w h o p o s­ sesses all the qualities o f love.4 A num ber o f them es and attitudes are expressed in this m yth. H e attacks the G odd ess. M ahisa is angered and sends his troops to find out w hat is going on. could not possib ly b e strong enough to defeat him. T h e envoys attack the G oddess when they are rebuked by her and are slain. great energy masses emerge w h ich fo rm into the shape o f a beautiful w om an. w ish ing to conquer heaven as w ell. pursues M ahisa on her lion. kicking him w ith her foot. H er lion m ount she receives from the m ountain god Him avat and her cup o f w ine from K ubera. sends an ultim atum to Indra. the god o f wealth in the north. U p o n hearing the laughter and the shouting o f the gods. This version in the D evim ahdtm ya is the simplest and the fo l­ low in g account is based on that earlier version. D evi. o f course. The m yth directly confronts brahm anical models o f w om anhood expressed in the D harm a Sastras w h ere the nature of w om an (strisvabh ava) is passive. T h ey return. piercing his chest w ith her trident and decapitating him w ith her discus as he emerges in hum an form from the b u ffalo ’s body. requesting her to defeat the demon M ahisa.

slayer of the buffalo-demon (Mahisasura). seated on or attended by a lion or tiger (when she is called Ambika). the ‘difficult to access’. an act indicative o f her origins as a G odd ess to w hom offerings o f il< ohol and blood w ere made. or a yo u ng girl. as w ith the local goddess Santosi M a w h o became a pan-H in d u deity due to a film id lin g her story. W hen M ahisa does attack. . Throu ghou t south A sia the G odd ess is referred to as ‘M o th er’ : Mata. and w ith nature or matter (prakrti). She can be approached and w orshipped in m any forms. Images of the Goddess 1 name D evi is interchangeable w ith D urga. an old wom sometimes for local goddesses to becom e universalized. the G odd ess em bodies paradox and ambiju ity: she is erotic yet detached: gentle yet heroic. A m m a in the D ravidian I. H er main representations are: . Durga. there is a tendency fo r local goddesses to becom e identified w ith the G reat G oddess through the process o f Sanskritization. These aspects are expressed in a variety o f different goddesses at local and Imu-1 ndian levels. she drinks w ine before going into (•»title. in natural phenom ena. The G oddess generates all form s and so is identified w ith Visnu’s second w ife. blood-drinking and violent forms who haunt the 177 . the G odd ess is the ultimate reality. . or in hum an form s as a mother. F o r her devotees. M ataji or M a in the H indi-speaking north. for the G oddess em bodies the traditional aesthetic quali­ ties (rasa) found in Sanskrit poetics o f both heroism (virya) and eroticism (0 flgdra).as Kali and other terrible manifestations. yet she is .i Iso the ensnaring veil o f the ‘ great illusion ’ (m ahdm aya) binding all beings. has ten arms and weapons. though D evi incorporates a ‘he wider conception o f deity. knowledge o f w h om liberates from the cycle o f birth and death. kicks and pierces Mahisa with her trident and beheads him. She is far m ore p ow erfu l than the gods. fo r «mly she can defeat the all-conquering demon. the energy or power o f Siva. A com m on term fo r the G oddess is sim ply ’ M other’ . and he is confused by her attractiveness which contrasts w ith her like speech. the Earth (Bhu). Indeed.The ( loddess andtidkta traditions Ihiti is to want to m arry the beautiful D evi and thereby contain and conmil her.inguages o f the south. while yet maintaining a calm and detached demeanour. a w ife. As the p ow er w hich both enslaves and Durga. Lik e Siva. They are emaciated. she is Sakti. beautiful yet terrible. Vet she also destroys the cosm os and the hum an com m unities w h o inhabit it with terrible violence. such as Camunda.

poles. We do not k n o w the purpose o f these figures. preying on children yet also destroying demons. and terracotta figurines have been found at M o h en jo -D aro (c. In early vedic religion. Parvatl and LaksmI. Fem ale fig ­ urines o f baked clay have been found in the north-w est at M ergarh and Sheri K han Tarakai. such as Sltala in the north and Mariyamman in the south. with rolling. weapons. U n fortu n ately the archaeological record is incom plete. garlanded with severed heads. the consorts of Brahma.u k ’ or 'blue’. Kali is ‘ hl. the earliest textual record w e have. dated to the sixth or fifth millennium . magical diagrams (yantra) and stylized female genitals (yoni). the m ajor city o f the Indus valley civilization. She dances on the corpse of her husband consorts or energies (s'akti) of the gods. girdled with severed arms. the wife of Rama. .as natural local or regional icons in village or family shrines and temples. .as male and female ‘mediums’ possessed by a goddess. . Local goddesses are often goddesses of smallpox and other pustular diseases. M ost notable am ongst 178 bce w hich m ay represent a continuity o f tradition from ancient times. after the collapse o f the Indus . trees and groves. Siva and Visnu. . the sacred Ganges and the Kaveri). particularly Sarasvatl. In this category we can also include Radha. notably the ‘seven mothers’ (Saptamatrkas) whose natures are ambiguous. or sim ply as gifts. intoxicated eyes and . Early worship of the Goddess W orship o f goddesses m ay be extrem ely ancient in south Asia. perhaps as offerings or talismans. It is possible that they served a ritual function. particularly rivers (such as the rivers Gariga. 2500-2000 b c e ).An introduction to Hinduism cremation grounds. . goddesses (d e v i) are insignificant in that they p lay no role in the sacrifice at this early date.t lolling tongue. the consort of Krsna. who arc beautiful models of wifely and maternal devotion (though not devoid of righteous anger). particularly during festivals. . though several are m entioned in the R g Veda. and Slta. In esoteric tantric literature they are associated with letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and the Goddess M atrka is the deity of the complete alphabet. lakes. though figurines from the north-w est region have been dated to the third and fourth centuries valley groups of generally ferocious female ‘ aniconic’ forms such as stones.

survived into later Hindu times. As the early texts are all the evidence w e have regarding vedic religion. Speech plays an im portant part in later H indu ph ilosoph y and hi yogic and tantric traditions as the p o w er behind w ords.the evidence of goddess worship from the archaeological record and from references in the Veda.rising o f the days.The ( ¡oddess artdSakta traditions ♦lit hi arc Prthivi (the Earth).there is no evidence of a ‘ Great Goddess’ in the Vedas. . Sarasvatl becomes the Goddess of learning and music and wife of Brahma. and D iti. suggests that worship of goddesses has non-vedic. Prthivi is M other Earth w hose coniiii i is D yaus. origins. Aditi is a goddess o f som e significance as the Mini her o f the A dityas. though there are Jain and Buddhist 179 . particularly mantras. we can conclude from this evidence the follow in g points: .5 She provides safety and wealth and is associated Hith the cow w hose m ilk nourishes hum anity. Imi their role is subordinated to that o f the gods. an early representation o f destructive female p o w er found 1 hi Liter H induism in local and pan-H ind u goddesses such as K ali. O ther goddesses are mentioned in early vedic literature.goddesses have a subordinate position in early vedic religion. an idea for which there is textual evidence only from the medieval period. Nil 11i (destruction) and Vac (speech). reveals the meaning o f language and is identified with truth. . N irrti is a goddess i * destruction. Prthivi. N igh t. Father Sky.8 In contrast V ac (speech) is a creative p o w er who inspires the sages. The 1 m ns of the R g Veda im plore her to go aw ay and ask the gods fo r protec1V i ion from her. and probably non-Aryan. the m other o f the dem ons. Aditi (the ‘ unbound*). Prthivi or Bhu (the Earth) becomes the second wife of Visnu. the direction o f death. yet conversely. male deities being predominant.6 U sas is a yo u ng girl w h o brings light to ill«' world each m orning b y going before the Sun (Surya). she also wears aw ay peop le’s lives.i s later father-in-law. . Usas (the dawn).7 In the Brahm anas she is described as dark and living in the MUIth. such as i lie river Sarasvatl. notably Prthivi and Sarasvatl.some of the goddesses in the Veda. She is bestow er m prosperity and long life. a group o f seven or eight deities including D aksa. . The form ation of Goddess worship Between the com position o f the Vedas and the Puranas there is little liter­ ary evidence o f G oddess w orsh ip. In the Brahm anas she is identified with the Earth. because she announces the I p. the Forest.

local goddesses becom ing absorbed into. rather than A ry an . the M arvars. to w h om b u ffa­ los w ere sacrificed and for w hom forest w arriors. all-em bracing ‘ G reat G o d d ess’ (M ahadevi) w h o encompasses all other deities. w hose tem ple is situated at the tip o f India. and the idea o f a single.10 H ow ever. particularly upon children w h o must be protected from their unwanted attentions. The Virgin G oddess K an ya Kum ari.An introduction to Hinduism Worship of the Goddess in the Veda (Indus Valley ?) (Dravidian worship) Purânas -► Tantras K âlïku la I brahm anical G odd ess w orsh ip Figure 7 The development of traditions of Goddess worship U K ali cults village goddess w orship Sri V id ya sculptures depicting divine female beings. and bringing m is­ fortune. w ere exhorted to ritual suicide. the ‘M others’ and a num ber o f other demonesses. This process o f assim ilation might 180 . Som e o f these goddesses w ere o f D ravidian. the G odd ess U m a or Parvati. brah­ manical tradition. presents vari­ ous images o f fem ale destructive pow er in the form o f the seven or eight M atrkas. it is not until the Puranas that w e find a m ore developed Sakta theology and m yth ology. origin. The ferocious K ali is m entioned in the E pic as being generated from the anger o f Siva’s consort. such as on the first-century bce B uddhist m onum ent (stupa) at Sanchi.9 In south India there is evidence o f early w orsh ip o f goddesses. and the Tamil C ankam literature m entions K orravai. A picture emerges therefore o f the gradual incorporation o f the G oddess into the brahmanical sphere. A general picture is suggested of low -caste. com posed b y Brahm ans. and D urga is praised in tw o laudations b y A rju n a in order to defeat his enemies. existed in the early centuries o f the com m on era. The M ah abh arata. goddess o f victory. living on the periph ery o f society. and resisted by. The M atrkas are described as dark.

Brahm a im plores her to release Visnu from sleep and she does. the transform ation * h! probably aniconic entities (that is. In Vaisnava m ythology. This story is retold in the D evim ahatm ya. part o f the M arkan deya P uran a. but here the G oddess is made superior to Visnu b y being identified w ith his yogic sleep (yoganidra). is superior to them. T H E G O D D ESS IN T H E PU RAN A S t he earliest w o rk glorifyin g the G oddess in India is the D evim a h a tm ya c e (‘The G lo ry o f the G o d d ess’). The G oddess is her ow n ‘m aster5. poles and natural phenomena) into iconic representations w hich D * eventually assimilated into the brahmanical pantheon as the w ives o f M ■ i hr Kods. w h o is idho M ahamaya. The G oddess is not subject to the authority o f the gods and. Visnu 5 sleep becomes a manis Iestation o f the G oddess w h o thereby has him under her spell and is made superior to him. w h o. M ahisasura. here it is Devi. M adhu and Kaitabha w ere tw o demons w h o attacked Brahm a w hilst Visnu slept. retrieves female p o w er (sakti) from male authority and makes it her ow n. h i ipons. The text presents a picture o f the ultimate reality as the G oddess. and Sum bha and Nisumbha. as it w ere. nam ely M adhu. and Kaitabha. and defeated the demons Sum bha and N isum bha. whereas in that i ext K rsna is presented as the highest m anifestation o f the divine.1 1 . deities represented by stones. I 'he account o f the defeat o f M ahisasura follow s and the third m yth relates how K ali sprang from D u rga’s forehead. controlling Visnu through her pow er o f sleep and not w ishing to be m arried to any o f them. though. This text is related to the B hagavata P u ran a.r I I The ihc ( ¡<nlJew and tidkta traditions In mtii as the ‘ upwards* movement of local goddesses. H e then defeats the demons as in the Vaisnava versions o f the m yth. The text demonstrates her salvific power b y recounting three m yths o f h ow she defeated a num ber o f demons. indeed. the great autum n festival to the G oddess. personifyin g her anger. an early I'urana which is dated to between the fifth and seventh centuries . the great illusion. later D evib h a g a va ta Purana continues the vision o f the D evim ahatm ya in placing the G oddess as the absolute source o f the cos­ mos. The solitary G oddess is herself incorporated into Smarta w o rihip as one o f the five deities o f th epancayatana p u ja and universalized in pin inic m ythology. Brahm a managed to wake Visnu and he destroyed the dem ons. This Iext is extrem ely popular and is still recited in D urga temples and through­ out I ndia during the D urga Puja.

Smarta id eology dom inated the early medieval period and became pan-Indian. respectable brahmanical w orld . N o t on ly w orsh ip o f D urga. She has nevertheless attracted brahmanical attention and devotion. and still enjoys. haunting polluting crem ation grounds and appealing to untouchable castes and tribals.An introduction to Hinduism PA N -H IN D U « G O D DESSKS Puranic. 182 . K ali and Cam unda. particularly in Bengal. as she dw ells on the social periphery. and archaeological evidence attests to the w orship o f the G oddess throughout the subconti­ nent. a nineteenth-century Bengali poet w ho w rote devotional verses to her as the ‘ M other5. became w idespread w ith the developm ent o f puranic H induism . She is treated w ith am bivalence b y brahmanical orthopraxy. the inspirer o f poetry. and the fam ous saint Ram akrishna had visions o f her. K ali demands blood sacrifice and goats are sacrificed to her daily at the fam ous Kalighat temple in Calcutta. B oth Ram prasad Sen. These traditions spread. She is identified w ith the goddess o f speech (Vac) and is. The day is saved b y C am unda w h o drinks up the blood o f the dem on before it touches the ground and so he is eventually defeated. O ther goddesses w hich have independent cults are less violent than D urga. the little M others (M atrkas) m anifest from the G oddess. W ith the Puranas the G oddess was assimilated by brahm anical religion and a theology o f the G oddess was articulated in puranic narrative traditions. but also o f K ali. a seventh-century tem ple depicts D urga slaying the buffalo dem on and she is also depicted in the cave sculptures at Ellora (sixth-eighth century). upon w hich the dem on R aktabija (‘B lo o d y -S e ed 5) appears to challenge them. the personified anger of D urga. A noth er popular ferocious G oddess is Cam unda w h o in the M arkan deya Purana sprang from the furro w ed b ro w o f D urga. K ali nevertheless enjoyed. is benign. A t M am m alapuram (also kn ow n as M ahabalipuram ) on the south east Tam ilnadu coast. m usic and learning. but each drop o f blood w hich falls to the ground gives birth to a replica dem on. A lth ou gh alw ays on the edges o f the controlled. great popularity. like the muse. The cult o f D urga was therefore very widespread b y the early m edieval period and the standard m yth and icon o f her slaying the buffalo dem on w as w ell established. Sarasvati. w h ose fallen blood in turn gives rise to further demons. In one m yth in the D evim d h a tm ya . T h ey attack him. the ancient G odd ess o f the Sarasvati river in the Veda.

particu­ larly am ong Brahm ans and renouncers. some w ithout iconographic i epresentation. A p art from the pan-H in du goddesses such as these. w hich reflects in m yth o lo gy the idea o f her thinking the blood o f the sacrificed victim in ritual. in the popular religion o f the act i cminiscent o f royal consecration. W hile in the ‘pu rified’ brahm anical form s o f H induism the idea o f sacrifice is extracted out o f ritual and confined to sym bolism or the realms o f m yth ology. w ith tantric m anifestations o f the G oddess. yet they make offerings o f blood substitute to local or fam ily G oddesses such as Raktesvari. the ‘ G oddess o f B lo o d ’ (see pp. yet this ideal contrasts starkly with the eruptive and b lo o d y violence o f the goddess. Sacrifice and the Goddess ( )ne o f the m ost striking things about the independent G oddess is that she accepts. as can be seen b y the V ijayanagara kin g’s ritual identification w ith the G oddess. 2 1 0 . and at local level am ong the village goddesses.r. Sri or Laksm i. the N am b u d ri Brahm ans o f K erala w ou ld not practise b lo o d y sacrifice as this w o u ld be too polluting. associated w ith royal p ow er and iconographically depicted . F o r example. present w ith the high Hindu deity D urga. the vin a.1ted w ith royal power. «rated upon a lotus and playing a musical instrument. blood sacrifice. The G odd ess drinks wine from a cup as she slays the buffalo demon. i Ik* spouse o f Visnu also has an independent cult which had developed b y i he time o f the Puranas.The Goddess andSakta traditions Although she is married to Brahm a. and demands. N o n -violen ce (ahimsa) is an im portant element in H induism . M an y i lassrooms in Indian schools bear her image upon the wall.ited upon a lotus and being sprinkled w ith w ater b y elephants . b lo o d y sacrifice is an integral element in the w orsh ip o f local goddesses. Indeed drinking the blood o f the victim has been a feature o f G odd ess w orship. 183 . Because the G oddess is all-giving and fecund.1 1 ) . there are innumerable village or local goddesses. The drinking o f blood is an im portant sym bolic element in the m yth olo gy o f the G odd ess. such as the northern and eastern snake goddess M anasa. Sacrifice is part o f her cult and central to her m yth ology in w hich the slaying o f the buffalo dem on can be read as the sacrifice o f the buffalo. he docs not play an important role in Itrr worship and she is iconographically depicted independently o f him. A lo n g w ith D urga she is strongly asso11. particularly in its medieval tantric manifestation. She is the goddess o f financial reward and good lortune. she m ust also be renewed w ith blood.

A t the level o f village goddesses. The idea o f sacrifice to the G oddess is also given esoteric interpretation. com posed before the eleventh century. b y some Tantras in w hich the sacrifice becom es the sacrifice o f the limited. The tantric w orsh ip o f the G oddess. the destruction o f the buffalo becom ing the destruction o f the buffalo demon. is regarded in the Veda as the highest sacrifice. This idea o f sacrifice becomes filtered through the layers o f H indu cu l­ ture in a num ber o f w ays. but is particularly the blood of sacrificial victim s w hich can be seen as substituting for the devotee him or herself. 1 66). These texts. The connection between the G oddess and royal p o w er can be related to sacrifice in so far as one o f the ideals o f kingship was to w age w ar upon neighbouring kingdom s. the appeasing o f a w rathful deity becom ing the stabilizing or re­ balancing o f the cosm os. This renewing blood can be related to the G o d d e ss’ menstrual cycles. is found in a num ber o f early Tantras o f the southern K aula transm ission (see p.An introduction to Hinduism the pow er o f life. then. the killing o f sacrificial victim s. can be divided into those w hose focus is the benevo- . generally asso­ ciated w ith low er castes. if her bounty is to continue. the sacrifice o f the ‘ great beast’ (m ahapasu). A m on gst Brahm an com m unities the sacrifice o f animals and offering o f blood w ill not actually be practised. and the G odd ess w h o accepts the sacri­ fice o f animals. particularized self into the all-pervading K a li self: the G oddess as absolute. even though hum an sacrifices m ay never have actually taken place. There is. then violence might be seen as an essential element in the w orld o f the K satriya. the sacrificial victim becom es a demon. if non-violence is an essential element in the B rahm an’s w orld in order to m aintain ritual purity. The battlefield thereby can be read as a sacrifice. the ritual practice o f sacrifice becom es ethicized: the destruction o f the victim becom ing the destruction o f evil. Indeed. uncontam inated consciousness. A t this level. as is the idea o f vedic sacrifice in the U panisads. Indeed the hum an sacrifice. the killing o f the enemies. the actual sacrifice o f animals is com m onplace. but w ill remain present as a sym bolic element. w hile at the level o f pan-H indu m ythology. Tantric worship of the Goddess W hile the G oddess tradition developing from the Puranas was o f great im portance. an allied tradition o f G oddess w orsh ip developed from the Tantras. or Sakta Tantrism. traditionally counted as sixty-four. a correspondence between the king w h o accepts the ‘ sacrifice’ o f both the enem y and his ow n army.

The ritual deification o f the you ng girl is an im portant annual festival in N epal. While the Sri V id ya. a text o f the northern transm ission. Bhairava. identified w ith light at the 185 . in religious norms. so his female partner becomes the G oddess.mces\ The tradition in the south became aligned with orthodox Vedanta iin I with the Sarikaracarya o f Srngeri and Kanchipuram . the ‘family of the Auspicious Goddess*. is the w orsh ip (> a you ng w om an (the kum ari-puja) in w hich a virgin girl o f about tw elve f is placed upon a ‘throne’ . \ which worshipped the benevolent and beautiful Lalita Tripurasundarl. w ere less concerned w ith orthopraxy. w hile the G oddess is w orshipped as a you th ful girl. traditions w hose origins can be found in the crem ation-ground cults. The tradition v Inch developed from the Srikula texts came to be know n as the Sri V idya. the Tantras of the Srlkula. w hich the devotee w ou ld visualize. A s the male w orsh ipper becom es the male deity. Yet. H ere K ali is the absolute. fo r only a god can w orsh ip a god. The K ali tradi­ tions. and m ore con»crned w ith the p ow er gained through im p urity and going against social . she can also be w orshipped in a terrible form as the b lood-drinking K ali or the old and crooked Kubjika. Hie Sri V idya aligned itself w ith orthoprax brahmanical values. The w orship o f K ali is found at the heart o f K ashm ir Saivism . the cults o f K ali are w ithin the northern and eastern transm issions. The Ja y a d ra th a ya m a la . the I mtras o f the K alikula. on w hose corpse she stands. The G oddess is installed or brought dow n into her. A prom inent part o f tantric practice is the rit­ ual w orship o f w om an or you ng girl b y both male and female devotees. the ‘ fam ily o f the Black G o d d ess’ . A n i mportant cerem ony. and those whose focus is the ferocious Goddess. develops from the southern transm ission in the Kaula system . possib ly dating to as early as the seventh or eighth centuries. as transcending the male form o f Siva. describes form s o f K ali. according to its self-classification. A com m on feature o f tantric id eology is that w om en represent or manilest the G oddess in a ritual context. even i In nigh some adherents w orshipped the G odd ess using ‘im pure subII . and she is w orshipped. T H E CULTS OF K A LI C ults o f K ali or her manifestations are in evidence from among the earliest tantric texts w e have.f /he ( ¡oddvss ami Sakta traditions (mi and gentle Goddess. as w ou ld occur w ith an icon. practised m ainly in Bengal and N epal. Indeed the G oddess is manifested in all women in varying degrees. especially Siva.

a w o o d o r a crem ation gro u n d .14 The G odd ess is also associated w ith the ‘co iled ’ goddess Kundalini. i spread throughout India. sym b olized b y the ‘thirteenth’ Kali. whence the tradition takes its name. T he K u b jik a school is significant because it is in the consciousness from whic ould meditate upon this process of the T H E SRI VID YA T R A D IT I O N flic Sri V idya is the cult o f Lalita Tripurasundari or sim ply Tripurasundari ( Beautiful G oddess o f the Three C ities’). T h e school had an esoteric dim ension and show s its close links to K ash m ir Saivism b y identifying the G o dd ess w ith pure con­ sciousness. . the Kubjikamata Tantra. the ‘ Path o f M antra’ (see p. the Sri V id ya w hich developed in south India became dis­ tanced from its Kashm iri tantric roots and the cult o f Tripurasundari was adopted b y the southern Vedanta m onastic order o f the D asanam is at Srrigeri and Kanchipuram . and. K alasam karsini.. id entifyin g K a li w ith states o f consciousness. and the Tripura l/panisad (‘The Secret o f Tripura’ ). she is identified w ith the Suprem e G odd ess (Para D evi) and also w orsh ipped in the form s o f a girl and a yo u n g w om an. While in principle it is not im possible that Sankara w ou ld com pose devolional hym ns to the G oddess . Para. is regarded in some literature o f this school to be the inner essence o f Tripurasundari. in its earliest phase. focused on the goddess G u h yakali.12 These esoteric tra ditions. Indeed the K ashm iri Trika go d ­ dess... Th is school j originated in the w estern H im alayas. particnlarly the extrem ely popular S aun da ryala h ari (‘The O cean o f B ea u ty ’).. This can be seen by the Trika id eo lo gy w hich pervades these texts and their term inologies derived from K ash m ir Saivism . the Tantraraja Tantra (the ‘ K in g o f Tantras’). and in the form o f a fifteen-syllable m. the p o w e r lyin g dorm ant at the base o f the b o d y until aw ak­ ened b y yo g a to pierce the centres o f subtle anatom y and unite w ith Siva at the crow n o f the head. The texts o f the K aliku la describe m acabre rites in the cremation grounds to evoke a goddess and allow the practitioner to achieve salvation through confronting gruesom e (ghora) experience.. 162).i (see below). the ‘offering to the jackals’. T h e devotee she .An introduction to Hinduis heart o f pure The ( ¡oddcssan dSakta traditions i ilie universe manifests and t< w hich it returns. a tantric form o f Sri/Laksm i. 1 he Lalitasaharanam a (‘The Thousand N am es o f Lalita’ ). The earliest sources III the Sri V id ya w ithin classifies this category are tw o texts.. 1 6 The N ityasodasikarn ava is concerned w ith external rituals and their magical effects... which explains the m ythology. liberating im plosion o f consciousness into itsell. interpreting the sricakra as the expansion and contraction o f the «osmos. A later text. location such as a crossroads.this w o u ld not be incom patible w ith the com position o f philosophical w orks in the Indian context19 . Yoginihrdaya (‘The H eart o f the Y o g in i’ ) w hich are said to form together the Vam akesvara Tantra . 1 86 187 . is know n to 1 have existed in N ep al b y the tw elfth century. called the sricakra. though po w erful. traditionally founded b y Sankara. jackals are revered as m anifestations o f K a li and offerings are made to them at an inauspicious.. She is w orsh ipped at an exoteric.13 A n oth er tantric goddess w h o is the focus o f a group o f Tantras o f the w estern K aula transm ission is K u b jika. upun 1 projection and w ithdraw al o f consciousness. These six centres also becam e adopted b y the Sri V id yá tradition. p o ssib ly in Kashm ir. visualized as having anim al and human heads with eight arms bearing weapons.. as Bharati has tra called the srivid ya . as the latest level «*11 he M antram arga. such as the idea o f 1 he cosm os as the m anifestation o f sound.. gives a more detailed exposition o f these subjects.20 H ow ever. and the the Nityasodasikarnava (‘The O cean o f the Tradition o f the Sixteen N ity a ( ioddesses’) w hich itself in the M antram arga.18 The S aun daryalahari and I alitdsaharanam a are traditionally said to have been com posed b y the Ad vaita Vedanta philosopher Sankara. The II ipurasundari cult can be classified. according to its texts. crooked w om an.these texts owe m ore to the non-dualism o f K ash m ir Saivism than to Sankara’s Vedanta.. who is worshipped in the form o f a sacred diagram or yantra o f nine inter­ im ting triangles.17 A p art from these early I antras. w hile the Yoginihrdaya is m ore esoteric.. popular level in N e p al as G u h yesvari and associated w ith the G oddess Kubjik. the ‘C ro o k ed O n e’. doctrines and ritual associated w ith h e r .. no indigenous Sri V id ya scholar w ou ld doubt his authorship o f these texts.H ritual 1~— 1 A lth ou gh the text and tradition takes its name fro m the G oddess w o r­ shipped in the form o f an old. identified with twelve Kalis. In a fam ous rite. Indeed. The principle text o f the school is the ‘Tantra o f 1 the Teachings o f the C ro o k ed G o d d ess’. The Sri Kubjikamata Tantra that w e first have m ention o f the classical six centres (icakra) o f esoteric anatom y w hich have becom e pan -H in d u and have been popularized in the W est. later became co n ­ cretely expressed in external ritual from the tenth century. and realize the final. a num ber o f later texts praise the G oddess Tripurasundari.15 Earlier Tantras m ention varyin g num bers at various locations.

A lthough visualized and praised in personal terms. In the th eology o f the Sri V idya the G oddess is supreme. w hich in turn is a manifestation o f a suprem e or causal body. used as a focus o f w orsh ip and installed in temples. T h eir interpenetra­ tion represents the union o f Siva and the G odd ess. the nasalized ‘ do t5 (. the central icon o f the tradition. to the gross material w o rld w hich humans inhabit. A ll these triangles emanate out from the central point or bindu. w h ich in turn is a m anifestation o f a higher form . p rio r to extension. transcending the cosm os w hich is yet a manifestation o f her. light and consciousness. This process is conceptualized as the m anifestation and contraction o f the W ord.21 This cosm o logy is sym bolized b y the cosm ogram o f the sricakra. Salvation or liberation is release from the cycle o f birth and . ready to burst forth as manifestation. E v e ry d a y speech is but a gross m anifestation o f this subtle. She unfolds the cosm os and contracts it once again in endless cycles o f emanation and re-absorption. but the principles are identical in Sri V id ya texts to those in K ash m ir Saiva Tantras. The details o f cosm ological schemes vary in different texts. non-m aterial realms.anusvara). This diagram or ritual instrum ent (yantra) is both the deity and a representation o f the cosm os. the absolute as primal sound (sabda. w hich sym bolizes concentrated.An introduction to Hinduism V id ya tradition became popular in the south and the cult o f T ri­ purasundari penetrated the Saiva Smarta com m unity as well as the highly orth odox m onastic tradition o f the Sarikaracaryas. Integral to the m ore esoteric practices o f the Sri V id ya tradition. potential energy. The fo u r upw ard-poin tin g triangles sy m ­ bolize the male principle in the universe. This subtle sound is expressed as a ‘point5 or ‘ d ro p 5 (bindu) o f energy. nam ely Sakti. nam ely Siva. an extrem ely im p or­ tant term in tantric theology. so the b o d y is the m ost coagulated form o f the subtle body. is the idea that the material human b o d y is a gross m anifestation o f a subtle body. w hich the aspirant or sadhaka realizes w ithin his ow n b o d y through the ritual identification o f the sricakra w ith his ow n body. is associated w ith the fifteenth phonem e of the Sanskrit alphabet. nada). w hich then p ro ­ ceeds to generate the m anifold cosm os. A s the material w o rld is the m ost solidified coagulation o f the subtle w o rld s. or the syllable ora. all-pervading sound w hich manifests the cosm os through a series oi graded stages from the m ost subtle. and closely related to cosm ological speculation. the five do w n w ardpointing triangles represent the female principle. identified w ith energy. The bindu. the G oddess is also an im personal force or power.

or ‘five realities’ (pancatattva). fo r a Brahm an. incense and vegetarian offerings. These refer to meditation upon her. conceived as a journey which retraces the stages of m anifestation luck to its source. qualification fo r w hich must be determ ined b y a guru. alcohol and sexual substances (p. meat (mamsa). as they are to all other tantric traditions. T h is yogic jou rn ey through the i osmos is also conceived as a journey through the body. These are the ritual use o f w ine (madya). Initiation is. ferocious female deities w ere appeased w ith offerings o f blood. This is illustrated b y the Tantraraja Tantra w hich describes three aspects or form s (rupa) o f Tripurasundarl. fish (.matsya). and the levels o f cosm ological m anifestation are identified with levels along the vertical axis o f the body. or visualization o f her form . The model used here b y the Sri V id ya is the stan­ dard Hatha yogic one w hich went beyond the boundaries o f any particu­ lar tradition. These ritual substances came to be kn ow n as the ‘ five M s’ (pancamakara) .22 so to ritually use these substances is. w ith the m ind.the initial Sanskrit let­ ter o f each being the letter ‘M ’ . w h o rises up from the ‘root centre’ . is the ritual use of ‘ substances’ prohibited w ithin Brahm anism . LEFT-H A N D TANTRA Perhaps the m ost fam ous controversy w h ich surrounds Tantrism gener­ ally. 98-9). piercing various centres or wheels o f energy as she rises (see pp. to con ­ sciously pollute him self. The Sri V id ya yogin will attempt to awaken the dorm ant power o f the G oddess KundalinI. We have seen that in the K aula rites o f early Saivism . meat and fish is expressly forbidden to Brahm ans according to the Law s o f M anu. to unite w ith Siva it the crow n o f the head. and w hich is o f concern to the Sri V id ya in particular. o f course. 165).ihv ( ¡oddtw andtiakta traditions death. a prerequisite fo r access to Sri V id ya daily and occasional rit­ uals. meat and copulation. and perform ing external worship b y offering flow ers. subtle and gross. parched grain (mudra) and sexual union (maithuna). T h e consum ption o f alcohol. A bhinavagupta speaks about the ‘three M s’ o f alcohol. which correspond to three w ays o f w orsh ippin g her. the supreme. at I he base o f the central channel w hich pervades the body. though it is not based on caste as is vedic initiation. referring to their use as true 189 . which is the G odd ess. with speech and w ith the body. repeating m antras. Ideas about the universe as a hierarchy o f levels and the h om ology or esoteric correspondences between the b o d y and the cosm os are central to 1 he practice and theology o f the Sri V id ya.

stretching back at least to the time o f the B uddha. The use o f parched grain (m udra) is sometimes said to be an aphrodisiac. that is. Left-handed Tantrism throw s up challenging ethical questions fo r orthoprax H induism . O n ly heroes and ‘the divine* should perform erotic w orsh ip.e. There is an oftquoted saying that the tantric Brahm an should be secretly a K aula (i. O thers. yet. sesamum fo r meat or fish. a left-hand tantric practitioner). Laksm idhara (sixteenth century) was a theologian o f the ‘conventional way* (samayacdra) w h o vehem ently rejected the non-vedic and im pure practice o f the ‘five Ms*. w hile rem aining vedic in his social practice.An introduction to Hinduism ‘ holiness* or ‘ celibacy* (brahm acarya). the Sri V id ya tends to distance itself from extreme antinom ian tantric groups. The earlier tantric literature seems to em phasize sexual rites as offerings to the deity.24 Indeed.25 Sex in a ritual setting and the transform ation o f desire fo r a spiritual purpose is an ancient practice in Indian religion. a hero (v lra ) or divine (1d iv y a ) . w ere h appy to advocate the secret use o f prohibited sub­ stances. transgressive practices using impurity. rejects the literal use of the ‘five Ms*.though the classification is not found in Saiva texts. yet m ay sim ply represent the kind o f offerings to deities made amongst lower-caste groups. Sakta Tantras even classify people according to three natures or dispositions (b h a v a ) . or uses sym bolic substitutes (pratinidhi) instead. whereas later texts indicate that semen should be held back in order to facilitate a yogic transform ation to a higher state o f awareness. The use o f the ‘ five Ms* in the Sri V id ya has been controversial. externally a Saiva. the ‘ Conventional* or Sam aya division.2 s The live Ms later developed and their use became know n as ‘ left-handed practice* (vam acdra).27 Sexual union (m aithuna) becomes im portant in Tantrism as both sym bol and event.o f being an animal (pasu). how ever. it is quite usual fo r the tantric Brahm an householder to maintain brahm anical social values alongside a tantric soteriology w hich involves the use o f otherw ise prohibited substances. There is a distinction w ithin the Sri V id ya between those w h o reject the use o f the ‘ five Ms* and those w ho incorporate them. such as B haskararaya (17 2 8 -5 0 ).siddhi).26 and m ystical union w ith the absolute has been com pared. in the B rhaddran yaka U panisad to the jo y o f sexual union. fo r those o f animal nature 190 . based on purity. The left-hand or Kaula division flouts brahmanical p u rity law s and conventions in order to gain magical p o w er (. w hile the right-hand. as opposed to the ‘ right-handed practice* (daksinacara). generally. such as m ilk fo r wine. and offerings o f flow ers fo r sex.

and their jo y reflects the jo y (ananda) o f that ultimate con d i­ tion. The actual or represented union o f the tantric practitioners sym bolizes the union o f Siva and Sakti. the tantric m odel o f the strong. man and w om an are physical representations o f K rsn a and Radha.33 M an y o f the elements o f brahm anical tantric w orship are derived from low -caste propitiation o f ferocious deities w ith alcohol and blood 191 . T h ey reflect the concerns o f the male practitioner rather than his female partner. whether sexual congress is perform ed.u sually Brahm ans . regarded as his ‘ m essenger’ or d oor to the divine realm. intelligent and beautiful w om an contrasts w ith the brahmanical m odel o f passivity and docile dependence. w hite semen. even though this might not be reflected in social institutions. Yet w om en have a higher ideological status in Tantrism than in strictly orthoprax Brahm anism . fo r men. though not exclusively.28 Indeed.32 F o r them. w hich devel­ oped from the tantric Buddhist Sahajiyas. higher states o f consciousness. can be achieved. other tantric groups w hich adopted the five M s arose during the later medieval period. or sam adhi. the m oon. or is substi­ tuted. Because w om en are filled w ith sakti in tantric ideology. as in left-handed ritual. and w hile these w om en ’s social realities w ere much m ore restricted than those o f their male consorts.SV */a traditions /A arc driven by desire which would lead to their destruction./hr ( ¡oddcs ' itml . yet this p o w er is generally not reflected in social realities where w om en have remained subordinate. adopting a Vaisnava theology. and. red blood.31 A p art from the transgressive K aula w in g o f the Sri V idya. activity and nature (prakrti). erotic w orsh ip taps into a rich and pow erIul sym bolism . O f particular note is the Vaisnava tradition o f the Sahajiyas. where tantric yogis w ou ld hope to meet them and obtain magical pow ers through their acquain­ tance. through erotic ritual. as in right-handed ritual.prim arily.30 There were also female tantric renouncers w h o w ere greatly revered and w h o dw elled at sites sacred to the G oddess (pitha). The w om en in these rites w ere generally from lower-caste groups such as washers. o f the male and female polarity in the cosm os.29 Tantric texts w ere written b y men . passivity and consciousness. The Bauls o f Bengal have inherited the Sahajiya id eo logy and erotic ritual continues to be used b y them . and Sakti. the sun. There are also strings o f sym bolic associations in the Tantras between Siva. on the other. though some texts make it clear that the ensuing liberation is for both partners. they are consid­ ered to be m ore pow erful than men. on the one hand.

I have already recounted the m yth o f D ak sa’s sacrifice: h ow Siva’s father-in-law D aksa had not invited him to the sacrifice. so in one sense the w hole o f ‘ India’ is the G oddess. highlights a tension between the dom inant id eo lo gy o f Brahm anism and an id eology infiltrated b y ideas and practices from crem ation-ground asceticism and from low er castes. through transcending his social inhibition in a controlled ritual context. The other gods becom e w orried. at C ape C om orin . such as the temple to the V irgin G odd ess. the tantric Brahm an can pursue his soteriological quest fo r p o w er and liberation. The theological split w ithin the Sri V id ya. in the D e vib h a g a va ta Purana and the K a lik a P u ran a. Later versions o f the m yth. to the ‘fo u r corners’ o f w hich a pilgrim can jo u rn ey and receive great blessing. yet w hich. the M inaksi temple at M adurai. fo r the Sri V idya. The G oddess is not only located at specific sites but is identified w ith the Earth and the landscape. between the Sam ayacara/right-hand path and the Kaula/left-hand path. It is one thing to perform erotic w orsh ip w ith a low -caste wom an in a ritual setting. and the K ali temple in Calcutta. K an ya K um ari. W hile m aintaining social status. is con ­ trolled b y or contained w ithin brahmanical structures and ideology. but quite another to interact w ith her outside that context. fearing the destruction o f the universe due to this dance o f death. Y et tantric literature refers specifically to ‘ seats’ (pitha) o f the G oddess w hich are distinct from these other pilgrim age centres. h ow his daughter Sati was so upset that she burned herself to death in the fire o f her ow n yoga. continue the story. into a so teriology in which the tantric Brahm an maintains his social status w hile follow in g the tantric path.An introduction to Hinduism offerings. so Visnu hacks at the b od y o f Satl. until Siva returns to a more com posed state. T H E SAKTA PITH AS There are various im portant locations o f G oddess w orsh ip in both north and south India.34 W hile this is a m yth behind the im m olation o f w id o w s upon their hus­ 192 . and from the cremation ground asccticism of the Kapalikas. cutting it aw ay piece b y piece. 149 -50 ). and h ow Siva destroyed the sacrifice in the ferocious form o f V lrabhadra (see pp. Siva is so upset at the death o f his w ife that he picks up her corpse in the crem ation ground and dances w ith it on his shoulders in a distraught state. such as the Sri V id ya devotee. The locations o f these ‘ seats’ are given justification in the m yth o f Siva’s first w ife Satl. Yet these becom e transform ed in the context ol the Brahman householder.

The ( ¡oddest andSahta traditions bands’ funeral pyres (sati. though other texts list more. hot diseases such as sm allpox w hich need to be cooled.35 T he standard fou r ‘ G reat Seats’ (m ahapitha) are at Jalandhara (possibly Ju llu n d u r in the Punjab). V ILLA G E GODDESSES A distinction can be draw n between ‘h ot’ and ‘co o l’ deities. there have been innum erable local goddesses. associated with a particular village or locality and repre­ sented b y a simple signifier such as a rock. H ere the G oddess is w orshipped in the form o f a vulva and her menstrual cycles celebrated b y adorning the icon w ith red powder. In the Tantras and Puranas there are four principal sites listed. The village goddesses. the gram adevatas. Regional and local traditions While esoteric form s o f Tantrism are o f central im portance in the h istory of H induism and have had impact on all its m anifestations. such as Visnu and Siva. m any w ithout iconic representations. called ‘ m others’ (m ata). p u rity and higher social levels. which are located where the different parts of Sati’s body fell. they are not directly relevant to the m ajority o f H indus. the cooling o f passion. C o o l deities are associated w ith detachment. This form o f the y o n i is not com m on. usually fall w ithin the hot classification. a stick. T h ey are alm ost alw ays female. The m ost important o f these ‘ seats’ as a living place o f pilgrim age is K am arupa or Kam agiri in A ssam w here Sati’s y o n i fell. O ddiyana or U ddayana (the Swat valley in the far north-w est). it is also an explanation o f the pithas. Village deities. H o t deities are associated w ith passion. deities o f the H indu pan­ theon. are classified as hot deities in contrast to the cool. The m ajority o f H indus in India live in villages and most devotees o f the G oddess at regional and local levels express their devotion through external w orsh ip (puja) o f local goddesses and in pilgrim age to places particularly sacred to the G oddess. A t these places the G odd ess’ tongue. a pile o f stones. w orshipped b y local villagers usually belonging to low er castes. W hile the brahmanical id eology o f the G reat G oddess spread throughout south A sia. m ostly male. ‘ suttee’). as w ell as ferocious goddesses such as Kali. Purnagiri (of unknow n location) and K am arupa in A ssam . but its h istory as an icon is w ell attested. pollution and low er social layers. a couple 193 . and the K ubjikam ata Tantra says that all w om en ’s homes should be w orshipped as pith as. nipples and vulva (y o n i) are said to have fallen.

In contrast the cool pan-H indu deities. goats and sometimes buffalos. yet accept blood offerings on ly in a second form such as a pot of water. in Kerala the particularly terrible goddess M uvalam kulicam undl is w orshipped in a num ber o f local shrines. as F u ller describes. These goddesses have no form al links w ith the pan -H in du goddesses. perhaps possessed b y the goddess. o f r example Laksm I. A lth ough sometimes barely distinguishable. the Tamil goddess M ariyam m an might have an im m ovable icon w ithin her temple. dem anding blood and alcohol. even w ithin the same caste.37 These offerings reflect caste ranking to a degree. particularly pustular diseases such as sm allpox. w ith low er-caste ‘priests’. an iconic cool form w ithin a shrine or temple. the goddess o f a particular fam ily (kula mata) w ou ld not be w orshipped b y a different fam ily. and need to be appeased. W hile certain village goddesses might not be w orshipped b y Brahm ans or. a thorn bush with pieces of cloth tied to it as offerings. is revered b y trading castes . and need to be appeased with offerings o f alcohol. For example. the teyyam shrines. as with Tripurasundari and Laksm L A particular goddess might o f course have tw o form s. She can be hot and ferocious. other deities have appeal across the social spectrum. or in the form o f a pot. F o r example. 194 .36 These aniconic hot goddesses not only accept vegetarian offerings but also demand blood sacrifice (bali). and accidental death. usually w ith blood and meat.An introduction to Hinduism o f bricks. the ferocious village go d ­ desses have a name and specific location. T h ey tend to be associated w ith disease. perhaps manifested on ly during certain festivals. m ak­ ing offerings o f meat to the low er form . present in iconic representations. though often villagers might identify the local goddess w ith the panH indu G reat G oddess. A lth ou gh they are unpredictable. and along w ith other deities is celebrated in local. Sometimes the village goddess w ill have a m yth about h ow she came to be in that particular location. aw ay from the central shrine. yet also cool and w o u ld be an oversim plification to regard the ranking o f deities as sim ply a reflection o f caste society. the goddess o f wealth. and an aniconic hot form outside the shrine. W hile it is true that some deities are affiliated to particular castes . The goddess is thus split into high and lo w form s. accepting o n ly vegetarian offerings. annual. accept on ly vegetarian offerings. even though there m ay be no iconographic or m ythological resemblance. they are also protectors o f a village or locality. The G reat G oddess shares both cate­ gories.

w hich expresses her ambivalent and angry nature as both Brahm an and U ntouchable. M ariyam m an has a couple o f m yths relating her origin. Upon realizing what had happened she killed herself and was transform ed into the goddess M ariyam m an w h o then burned the U ntouchable to ashes. w h ere­ upon her husband suspected her fidelity and ordered their son to kill her. Am ong goddesses w h o have a regional rather than p u rely village appeal. in the north. Sm allpox victim s were seen to be possessed b y the goddess and i95 . In one she w as a Brahm an girl w h o was deceived into marriage b y an U ntouchable disguised as a Brahm an. Sometim es these diseases are seen to be the w o rk o f demons w h om the goddess must defeat. Sitala is a hot goddess w h o is dorm ant m ost o f the year but w h o tradi­ tionally erupts w ith terrific violence during the hot season. The goddess is therefore w orshipped as the consort o f Siva in the Trikanyalapan tem ple as w ell as in the teyyam shrines. This m yth indicates that. spreading her ‘grace’ in the form o f epidemics through villages and needing to be pla­ cated.mtras and confine her in a copper vessel with a lid which he then buried in a hole (kuli) to the depth of three men (m uvalam ). She burst out o f the ground in a terrible form and pursued the Brahm an to a temple o f Siva where she agreed to settle dow n on ly if she could be installed there beside Siva. sm allpox has been particularly viru ­ lent in some parts of India during the hot season and has been regarded as a visitation or ‘possession’ b y the sm allpox goddess. She felt jealou sy and as a consequence lost her pow ers. H er pow er is contained and kept in place b y the male deity. she is yet contained within the p o w er o f the high-caste pan -H in du 11 city Siva. attempted to capture the goddess w ith m. but w h o one day saw tw o divine beings m ak­ ing love.The ( ioddcss and Sakt a traditions dance-possession festivals. and M ariyam m an. which du ly happened. although a hot low -caste deity (her teyyam dance is perform ed b y the lo w M alayan caste o f professional sorcerers). D uring these festivals the dancer becom es the goddess and relates her myth. A Brahm an. are the sm allpox goddesses Sitala. but instead o f upon her o w n body. E ven tu ally she is restored to life as M ariyam m an. her head was placed upon an U ntou chable’s body. yet w h o are not identified w ith p an-H ind u deities w ith large tem ­ ples. The son obediently cut o ff her head. in the south. who was perform ing sorcery upon one o f these devotees. and absorbed into a brahmanical structure. A lth ough n ow eradicated. at other times they are the w o rk o f the goddess herself. The second m yth tells o f a pure but po w erfu l w ife o f a h o ly man. who could perform miracles.

from aniconic village deities to high-caste panH indu goddesses. in tantric H induism and in village H induism . as A lf HiltebeitePs im portant study has show n. such as Laksm l. The G oddess is associated with the earth. as do m any marriages. and even D ravidian /A ryan. are intim ately associated w ith the cyclic pattern o f the year. the G reat G oddess herself. which are in effect offerings to appease her wrath. We have seen that. particularly the cycle o f agricultural activity. This chapter has presented central ideas. the tenth day follow in g the com m encem ent o f the ‘nine night’ (navaràtrï) festival. lo w caste/high caste.38 A p art from local festivals during the hot season. the hot season is im portant fo r village and regional goddesses. and the changing seasons might be regarded as changing modes o f the G oddess. the situation is m ore com plex and m any regional goddesses participate in both ‘lo w ’ and ‘high’ cultural spheres. In northern and central India the seasons can be divided into three: the hot season (approxim ately from M arch to June). regional/panH indu. fo r example. m yth o lo gy and icon o ­ graphie representations o f the G oddess in brahm anical H induism . It is possible to view the village goddesses in terms o f distinctions between popular/brahm anic culture. w hile there 196 .39 S u m m a ry H induism cannot be understood w ithout the G odd ess. fo r the G oddess pervades it at all levels.An introduction to Hinduism were ‘cooled’ with water and milk. such as D urgâ. is im portant during these times. culm inating in the day o f dassera. The goddess D raupadï. or the w ives o f the male gods. The ritual cycles o f the v il­ lages are closely associated w ith the seasonal changes and w orship o f the G oddess. In terms o f ritual cycles. though the most effective offering to soften her anger is blood sacrifice. participates in both realms as pan-H indu goddess . the m ost im portant festival fo r the G oddess as a pan -H in d u deity is the D urgâ-pü jà in O ctober. indeed. W hile these distinctions m ight be useful in understanding the structural o p p o si­ tions between village goddesses and pan -H in du deities. the wet season (approxim ately Ju n e to O ctober) and the d ry or w inter season (the rest o f the year particularly D ecem ber to Jan uary).the w ife o f the Pândavas in the epic M ahâbhârata and as local or regional deity in Tam ilnadu. w hose festivals occur at that time (the hot goddess w orshipped during the hot season). little tradition/great tradition. w hich allow expression to the ‘heat5o f passion. identified w ith the earth. These hot village goddesses and.

and a gentle benevolent form such as Tripurasundari or I . each one being unique to a particular place. w ithout the G odd ess a god such as Siva is a corpse. 197 . W hile some goddesses are independent . Indeed. 11 there are essentially tw o kinds o f G odd ess representations: a ferocious lorm such as Kali.others are perfect w ives to their divine husbands w h om they energize.iksmi.f The (¡oddvss and Saltta traditions > v innumerable goddesses.these tend to be the ferocious form s .

at places o f pilgrim age such as the confluence o f sacred rivers. W hile narrative traditions provide people w ith meaning and understanding o f w h o they are and how they came to be as they are. The 198 . m any ritual elements. ritual has seldom been abandoned within H indu traditions. m yths. to marriage and finally death. and in specially constructed pavilions. at w ayside shrines. and sometimes intim ately connected w ith it. the narrative traditions o f India. also serve to give coherence. and indeed actual rituals. encoded in manuals and in behaviour patterns passed through the generations from teacher to student and from parent to child. Rituals occur to m ark special occasions.1 9 Hindu ritual There are m any styles o f worship within H indu traditions and vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings are made to innumerable deities throughout south A sia. can be traced to very early H indu texts. W hile H indus have questioned the meanings o f ritual and interpreted rituals in a variety o f w ays. through childhood. Ritual patterns constrain life from birth. it is rit­ ual action w hich anchors people in a sense o f deeper identity and belong­ ing. W hile ritual behaviour can be extrem ely diverse. Ritual and H indu identity This ritual continuity m ay at first suggest a stability o f H indu social rela­ tions. Ritual patterns recur over vast geographical areas in south A sia and have been repeated and handed dow n from ancient times. A longside ritual. in the temple. to ask fo r blessings or to propitiate gods. it is nevertheless ritual. which gives shape and a degree o f unity to H indu traditions. yet it cannot be reduced to this or explained in these terms. H indu ritual occurs in the home.

die out. political and econom ic history. but rather demand action. In some sense ritual defies history. and even. rituals change. such as south-east A sia. the patterning o f action in certain w ays. they have been trans­ ported overseas to other countries. in I he last hundred years or so. seem com paratively unaffected b y social. and therefore the religious. to the other continents o f E urope. Ritual is prior to theology. ritual m ight be seen as a com ­ paratively stable and invariant event in contradistinction to a changing. it is clear that some ritual form s originated during specific historical periods and reflect cultural and political elements present during those times. O f course. it is certainly not possible to do so in terms o f doctrine and the­ ological beliefs. w e find cultural form s w hich do not demand belief in any particular doctrine. R itual also cuts across theological distinctions. Rituals have a persistence w hich survives great political upheavals. The ritual realm. they do. both historically and concep­ tually. ecological catastrophes and colonial repression. In the rich variety o f H in du ritual. m ost notably those o f the vedic solemn (srauta) rituals. a sense o f 199 . Indeed. and its understand­ ing b y those w h o perform it. and new rituals arise. hut they change at a far slow er rate than the societies in w hich they are periormed: fo r example. but rather that ritual and the politico-econom ic are distinct levels or realms w ithin H in du culture. rituals associated w ith kingship still continue in India. others having m ore recent origin in the medieval period. and expresses. some ritual structures. It is the persistence o f ritual in H induism . The M im am sa. it cannot be contingent upon econom ic structures: the realm o f ritual and the realm o f politics and eco­ nomics must be distinct. all have been perlormed w ithin H induism for significant periods o f time. and often unstable. fo r example. O n the one hand. If it is possible to define H induism . w hich provides. political and econom ic changes. The question o f the degree to w hich ritual is affected b y h istory or reflects social and political structures is a difficult one. cannot be reduced to the political. and various theologies in India have been built upon a ritual basis and make sense only in the context o f ritual traditions. Because ritual has persisted in the face o f great political and econom ic shifts in south A sia.I l indu ritual social and political contexts in which I lindu rituals have existed have been diverse. is based upon the interpretation o f vedic rites. This is not to say that they never coincide. Yet on the other hand. A frica and A merica. from Hindu kingdom s to colonial rule. O f the kinds o f ritual described in this chapter. some p ro b ab ly since the second millennium b c e .

involving birth. not on ly fo r the understanding o f vedic ritual. it is far less clear that dom estic rituals. In H induism rites o f passage form an im portant part o f ritual activity and constrain a p e rso n s passage through time from birth to death. personal and temple w orsh ip (puja). but not o n ly thus . Staal has argued that. w hile its structure has remained constant. w hich serves to give coherence to its diversity. b y the Brahm ana literature for example. it is unlike lan­ guage in that it has no meaning. w hile it might be the case that the srauta rites have no meaning in a form al sense. Indeed. Rites of passage There are traditionally tw o sources fo r H indu rites o f passage: on the one hand the texts o f tradition (. the grloya rites. these meanings must be arbitrary or at least secondary to the m ost dom inant feature o f ritual. W hile ritual behaviour w ould seem to provide a sense o f continuity and belonging. festi­ vals. has become a central feature o f H induism . no semantics. Ritual has often been conv pared to language as a system o f com m unication. m arriage and death. The issue cannot be considered rti). its structure and invariant transm ission. are meaningless activities. the regional oral traditions 200 .also in pilgrim age. I shall here give an account o f im portant ritual processes in H induism w hich give it coher­ ence.An introduction to Ilinduisrn identity for Hindu communities: an identity which goes beyond social and political changes and provides I lindus with a sense of belonging in the face of sometimes rapid social change. Pilgrim age. are secondary. w ith specific and detailed reference to vedic solemn rites. but fo r ritual studies gen­ erally. nam ely rites o f passage. a syntax. sacrifice and pilgrim age. in such rituals human life expe­ riences are o f vital significance and arguably such rites o f transition express deep-felt hum an anxieties and attempt to resolve conflicts. but.1 Staal’s argum ent is im portant and needs to be carefully considered. Because the interpretations o f ritual have changed over time. p ar­ ticularly in m odern times. Vedic ritual has a structure w hich has been transferred through the generations from ancient times. A H in d u s sense o f identity and belonging is given expression particularly through rites o f passage. an argum ent has recently been put forw ard b y Frits Staal that any meanings attributed to ritual are random . on the other. but any meanings attributed to it. H ow ever. while ritual is like language in that it has a structure. specifically the G rh y a Sutras and the D harm a Sutras and Sastras.

Indeed. As w e have seen..----------------------------------------------— « between w o rld ly life and soteriology. and transform . ‘process’ is associated w ith ‘ anti-structure’.. B y undergoing the various samskâras a H indu gains access to resources w ithin the tradition w hich were p reviou sly closed to him or her and enters a new realm or state. The anthropologist V ictor Turner has made a distinction between ‘ state’ and ‘process’ . are not included in the classi­ fication o f rites o f passage.. a person ’s iden­ tity. to some extent. In the G rh y a and I )harma literature. rites o f passage are classified as ‘occasional ritual* (naimittika-karma). rites ‘ occasioned by a special occurrence’/^ in coni rast to daily rites (nitya-karma) and rites fo r a desired purpose or object (hamya-karma). Rites o f passage are also classified as ‘ bo dily rites’ because o f their central concern w ith the b o d y . fo r w h o they exclude and fo r the ordering o f social groups..the im position oTcuItural meanings upon the biological b o d y and its transitions from conception to death. ‘constructed’ or ‘put together’ . defining ontological status. the form er being the concern o f the householder. T h ey are im portant not on ly fo r w h o they include. but also. the Sanskrit term fo r such rites is samskâra. The ritual o f renunciation and initiation into various sects. im plying the putting together o f a person as a social actor and even.. ‘ lim in ality’ and equality. an identity w hich is personally or p sych ologically im portant and which is recognized b y the w ider com m unity: they are the form al im position o f an identity and its recognition b y a social group.’ there is a fundam ental distinction— in H induism Jun. rituals w hich are concerned w ith liberation.. Rites o f passage m ould and help construct social identities. W hile ‘ state’ is associated w ith ‘ structure’ and hierarchy. Rites o f pas­ sage are w ithin the realm o f the householder’s life and are not concerned with liberation. 201 . as Pierre Bourdieu has pointed out.Hindu ritual whose legitim acy was recognized in the 1)harma Sastras. — . Rites o f passage are therefore transform ative processes linking different states. liminal. the latter being the concern o f the renouncer.3 this is distinct from liberation w hich cannot be attained b y rites con ­ cerned w ith social transform ation..4 ‘ State’ refers to a relatively fixed social condition. w hile ‘process’ refers to an unfixed. period o f transition between states. Yet it is im p or­ tant to rem em ber that the tem porary anti-structure o f process serves to reinforce the structure o f state. The samskdras are rites o f passage w hich serve to legitim ize social order and to uphold social institutions. W hile Manu does say that the perform ance o f dharma w hich encompasses rites o f passage leads to happiness in the next life. Rites o f passage are expressive of.---------------.

those belonging to the top three classes o f Brahm ans. the rite of ‘bringing forth a b o y ’ to ensure the birth of a male child. 2 pumsavana. the first tw o are concerned w ith w o rld ly life. The num ber o f samskaras varies.the theoretical m odel o f the as'rama system . The standard sixteen are: 1 garbhadhana. K satriyas and Vaisyas . the birth rite. maintains that there are fou r stages or states through w hich a man m ay pass: the student (brah- macarya). though the standard num ber in the G rh y a Sutras is between twelve and eighteen. the H indu stages o f life.5 The D harm a Sastras deal only with male rites o f passage.An introduction to Hinduism for separating those who have undergone the ritual from those who have not and from those who will never undergo it. the rite of the conception of the embryo or the ‘infusion of semen’ performed at the time of conception. The undergo­ ing o f any o f them implies an acceptance o f orthoprax brahmanical values and underlines differences in gender roles and castes. Rites o f passage are also rites o f exclusion and underline the differ­ ence between the high-caste b o y and others w ithin the com m unity. w h o are not eligible to undergo the rite.6 F o r high-caste or ‘ tw ice-born ’ H indu males . the ‘parting the hair’ rite of the woman during pregnancy. M ost H indus remain householders and the samskaras are con ­ cerned w h o lly w ith life as a social being. The Manu Smrti mentions thirteen. w ith the first tw o stages or states. from low er castes and from w om en. A s w e have seen. F o rty are recorded in the Gautama Dharma Sdstra. 3 simantonnayana. though sixteen tends to be the standard number. W hile there are a varyin g num ber o f samskaras recorded in different texts. the householder (grhastha). the third w ith a life retired from household duties and the fourth w ith the transcendence o f the social w orld . the im portant point is that they form a ritual sequence or com plete system w hich expresses the H indu social order. the herm it or forest-dw eller (vanaprastha) and the renouncer (samnyasa) stages. birth. . that is. or dharma. 4 jatkarman. childhood and educational rites. then marriage and death rites.7 T h ey can be divided into prena­ tal rites. but through­ out India w om en have undergone rites o f passage based on oral fo lk tradi tions. The high-caste b o y w h o undergoes vedic initiation is separated from his yo u nger contem po­ raries.

is a jo yo u s and auspicious occasion fo r H indus. it is said that the birth o f a son enables a generation o f ancestors to pass over from the intermediate realm into the w o rld o f heaven (svarga lo ka )? 203 . 9 karnavedha. and the funeral rites (antyesti) w hich end it. marriage. W ith the birth o f a son a man has repaid his debt to the ancestors and has enabled his forefathers to attain the w o rld o f heaven. the funeral ritual. the rite of initiation and investiture of the sacred thread. 14 samavartana. 7 annaprasana. though in con ­ tem porary H induism the initiation rite and m arriage are often conflated for reasons o f convenience and econom y. 11 upanayana.Hindu ritual 5 namakarana. though the birth o f a girl is not necessarily regarded as inaus­ picious. the initiation cerem ony (upanayana). D uring a w o m an ’s first pregnancy. the child’s first feeding with solid food. the first shaving of the beard. 1 3 kesanta. fo r all biological processes are considered to be polluting and so necessitate ritual control. marriage (vivah a) w hich m arks the beginning o f the house­ holder’s life. the ritual ending of student life. the tonsure ceremony during the first or third year. is considered to be m ore auspicious than that o f a girl. the ear-piercing ceremony around the age of three to five. the ‘beginning of knowledge’ when the child learns the alphabet between the ages of five and seven. S ehudakarana. but it is also hedged about w ith uncertainty and im purity. TH E B IR T H RITES Birth. the Tam il-speaking Smarta Brahm ans. The birth of a boy. 16 antyesti. the ritual of beginning the study of the Veda. she w ill go to the hom e o f her parents fo r the birth and remain there fo r some time before being re-incorporated back into her marriage hom e w ith a new and higher status o f mother. the child’s first outing. The m ost im portant o f these are birth. 6 niskramana. after the hair-parting rite. 12 vedarambha. especially o f a boy. the naming ceremony on the tenth or twelfth day after birth. A m o n g the A iy ars. particularly higher if the child is male. i o vidyarambha. 15 vivaha. occurring from the age of eight up to about twenty-four. especially the first child.

the b o y vow s celibacy and is invested w ith the sacred thread. thereby legitim izing social structure and gender roles. A feast follow s this and gifts are given to the boy. The actual cerem ony takes about a day. and h ou sew ork equiva­ lent to the fire oblations. the gayatri. the sym bol o f high-caste males. The cerem ony ends w ith the ‘departure fo r K a si’ . The b o y is persuaded b y his maternal uncle. a high-caste boy w ill undergo the vedic initiation or upanayana cerem ony at which he will be given the sacred thread. A com m on pattern might be fo r the b o y ’s head to be shaved except fo r the tuft on the crow n. as Ju lia Leslie has pointed out. w hich he should recite daily thereafter. after initiation the b o y w ould enter the student stage o f life and study the Veda w ith a teacher. m arriage is a w o m an ’s upanayana. which excludes him from other spheres o f social activity. the sym bol o f tw ice-born status. com prising three times three single strands. the sym bolic gesture o f leaving to go to the sacred city o f Varanasi in order to study the Veda. and it is im portant. A lthough. girdle and antelope-skin over his shoulder. this does not mean. Th rough the upanayana the high-caste b o y gains entry to high-caste society. O blations are offered into the sacred fire. and from low er impure castes. A ccord in g to the classical m odel. fo r him to be bathed and dressed in a loin-cloth. according to Manu. o f course. not to go. w ith some mirth. but upon oral fo lk (laukika) traditions. w o rn over the left shoulder and annually renewed until either death or renunciation.the Asvalayana Grhya Sutra states that a Brahm an b o y should be between eight and sixteen. Such w om en’s rites are not based upon Sanskrit treatises.An introduction to Hinduism H IG H -C A ST E IN IT IA T IO N Betw een the ages o f eight and tw enty-four. W hile the ritual texts have strict age limits on initiation .10 there are nevertheless w o m en ’s rites o f passage. not to see w om en in south A sia as ‘ the passive victim s o f an oppressive 204 . The b o y is taught the fam ous ‘root m antra’. that w om en are excluded from m em bership o f high-caste com m u­ nities. H e is separated o ff from the w o rld o f w om en and the sphere o f the mother. W hile vedic initiation is fo r high-caste males. serving her husband is equivalent to vedic study. a K satriya between eleven and tw en ty-tw o and a Vaisya between tw elve and tw en ty-fo u r9 contem porary H in du life is less strict and it is com m on practice to hold the upanayana on the day before the you ng m an’s wedding. though there are regional varia­ tions w ith regard to the content o f the rite. is given a secret name and is taught h ow to make oblations into the fire.

particularly sexual pleasure (kam a).sastra). p ro b ab ly in his village. A lternative rites fo r w om en have probably alw ays been a part o f south A sian religions. brahmanical framework or model should not be underestimated. the power of the ideo­ logical. v e r­ nacular languages subordinated to Sanskrit.11While this is an important point. they m ust be understood w ithin the context o f the broader fram ew ork o f brahmanical orthopraxy. o f course. M arriage can therefore be em otionally stressful and a you ng w om an is culturally 205 . D u v vu ry claims that such rites. arranged. including a rite during a g irls first m en­ struation akin to the upanayana cerem ony. I )uvvury has show n that they can be seen both as active agents and as co n ­ strained w ithin brahmanical orthopraxy. w ith a new set o f social relationships to negotiate. In her study o f A iy a r wom en. marriage marks the end o f her childhood life w ith her fam ily and friends and the beginning o f a new life w ith her husband. must also be seen w ithin a cu l­ tural context w hich defines w om en ‘largely in terms o f their functions as mothers and w ives’ . M arriages are.12 In the broader brahm anical fram ew ork the fo lk tra­ ditions (la u k ik a ) are subordinated to the dharm ic tradition (. in w hich case the you ng couple m ay already k n o w each other. O n the fourth day a ritual bath is taken and a feast held.! ¡indu ritual ideology but also (perhaps primarily) as i he activc agents of their own pos­ itive constructs’. W hile these rites give expression to w om en ’s aspirations and express a sense o f belonging to a com m unity. This rite involves the g irls being separated and isolated in a darkened room fo r three days (though not excluded from the com pany o f friends). and experiencing pleasure. but have not been recorded in Sanskrit treatises. being regarded as fo lk traditions. M A R R IA G E M arriage (v iv a h a ) is and has been the expected norm o f H indu societies unless a person becom es a world-renouncer. human conventions subordinated to universal law (dharm a) and wom en subordinated to men. W ith the m arriage sam skara a y o u n g high-caste man enters fu lly into the householder’s life in w hich he can pursue the goals o f du ty (dharm a). the Smarta Brahm ans o f Tam ilnadu. In D ravidian south India cross-cousin m arriage tends to be practised. gaining w ealth and w o rld ly success (artha). She show s that A iy a r w om en have their ow n rites o f passage. The girl is brought to the temple b y her mother and to visit other households w here older w om en perform cere­ monies o f offering lights (arati) to her. F o r a w om an. w hile expressing w om en ’s hopes. whereas in the north the couple w ill be strangers.

W ithin caste (jati). O blations are then offered into the fire. even from his ow n fam ily.An introduction to Hinduism expected to show signs o f sorrow at leaving her old home and w ay o f life. The N am b u dri father w ou ld visit the house. a com m on pattern is fo r the b ride’s father to give her to the groom and his father. a rite w hich he has learned during his upanayana. marriage is generally endogam ous. according to D um ont. bringing his ow n food and utensils in order to avoid becom ing polluted. m arriage is p rob ab ly the m ost im portant sam skara. w here the eldest son w ou ld m arry a N am bu dri w om an. I f the celebrations occur d u r­ ing the evening. C aste com patibility is the most im portant factor in a H indu marriage. a gesture sym bolic o f her intended fidelity. F o r example. as in m ost cultures. A fte r the celebrations.14 F o r a H indu. the essential part o f a H indu w edding. occupation and astrological com patibility are taken into account. the couple might go outside to see the pole-star and the bride w ill vo w to be constant like that star. FU N E RA L RITES Death. though other factors o f wealth. W hile there are regional variations in marriage cerem onies. yet exogam ous w ith regard to kin group (gotra). The marriage o f daughters involves a fam ily in great expense as it is an occasion fo r giving gifts to the b rid egro om s fam ily and fo r arranging an elaborate w edding celebration. a notable exception to caste endogam y has been am ong the N am bu dri Brahm ans o f K erala. w ith regional differences w ith regard to marriage and kinship patterns. is inauspicious in H in duism and fraught w ith the danger o f pollution fo r the bereaved and the danger o f being haunted 20 6 . and the groom offers oblations into the fire. Yet most you n g wom en will desire marriage as a necessary transition to com plete w om anhood and integration into the w orld o f mature wom en. The bride’s w rist is tied w ith a thread and she steps three times upon the groom ’s fam ily grinding-stone. as is specified in M a n u P Yet the social realities o f marriage in south A sia are m ore co m ­ plex than M a n u s prescriptions.15 as this is an o pportu n ity to dem on­ strate a fam ily’s wealth and status. but the rem aining sons w ou ld maintain alliances w ith low -caste N a y a r w om en. The couple then take seven steps around the sacred fire. Indeed. marriage is. the bride w ill return w ith the groom to his fam ily home where they w ill begin treading the path o f the householder. C hildren from these alliances w ou ld belong to the N a y a r caste and live in their m other’s house or the house o f their m other and her brother. the main cause o f debt in rural com m unities. w hich m ay go on for a couple o f days.

W hile the official id eo logy o f brahm anical H induism is reincarnation and this is the m odel generally assumed b y renouncer traditions. indicative o f the belief that. m oves into the realm o f the ances­ tors (pitr-loka). theoretically w ith the dom estic fire o f the deceased if he is tw ice-born.Hindu ritual hy a malevolent ghost. recapitulating the ten lunar months o f the em b ryo ’s gestation. as Parry show s. the last ritual reflecting the birth rite at life’s beginning. the god o f wealth. A h oly man might be buried in a tom b called a sam adhi or sam adh. These tw o concerns are panII indu. These sraddloa rites are offerings to the deceased o f rice balls (pinda) w hich construct a b o d y fo r him in the next w orld . O n the funeral p yre the co rp ses feet point south tow ards the realm o f Yam a. although he has left his body. While crem ation is the usual w a y o f disposing o f bodies.17 at w hich time the gh ostly b od y is com plete and. A renouncer. A person is cremated on the day o f death if possible. he has becom e absorbed into a higher state o f consciousness.for indeed. might sim ply be placed in a river. In south India the offering o fpindas to the deceased m ight take place at the confluence o f a sacred river and a ritual to determ ine w hether the ghost still lingers involves offering pin das to crow s. w rapped in a cloth and carried to the crem ation ground b y male relatives w h o m ove as quickly as possible chanting the name o f G o d (‘R a m ’ ). shaved if male. w ith the rite know n as sapindikarana. though funerary practices vary to some extent in different regions. and allow s I he spirit o f the deceased to travel on its w ay. The funeral p yre is lit. preferably the h oly G anges. This marks the end o f the life-cycle rituals. nntrols the pollution o f death and re-iintegrates the fam ily back into n o r­ mal social life from which they have been separated by death. the w o rld o f the ghosts (preta-loka). and so transcending his social identity. If the crow s eat the offerings then the deceased is happy. inhum ation is practised am ong low castes and h oly men and children are generally I»uried. The last $amskara% called the ‘ last sacrifice* (tntyesti) . and the remains are gathered up between three and ten days after the funeral and buried. crem ation is akin to sacrifice16 . the 207 . with the head pointing north to the realm o f K ubera. D urin g the days im m edi­ ately follow in g the funeral. The corpse is bathed. placed in a special area o f ground or immersed in a river. anointed w ith sandalw ood paste. the god o f death. having under­ gone his ow n funeral during his rite o f renunciation. These daily offerings continue fo r ten days. the fam ily are h igh ly polluted and remain p o l­ luted until the final rites (sraddha) are perform ed.

even called m oksam .m aking offerings to them and in turn receiving blessings from them. There are also rituals perform ed on a daily basis. / C ¿0 ^ . before the id eology o f reincarnation made its entrance. con ­ nected w ith the body. This indicates the autonom y o f the ritual realm. This part o f the person connected w ith the earth is sometimes thought to becom e a crow . p u ja w ould be perform ed before the icon o f the deity installed either in a separate room . in the houses o f the better-off.pisaca). the ritual pattern o f the funeral follow ed b y the creation o f the deceased’s b o d y in the next w o rld going back to the time o f the Vedas. G enerally. the kitchen. in K erala a com m on fo lk beliel is that a person has at least tw o pow ers (sakti) w hich separate at death: the ‘ soul’ (jiva) or ‘life principle’ (ayus) goes o ff to the L o rd or to heaven (. In the tem ple a p u ja might J 208 . a person is regarded as a com posite being. remains on earth as a ghost (preta. a Sanskrit w ord w hich can be loosely translated as ‘w o rsh ip ’ . 1 lere the dead go to an intermediate realm. after w hose death the different elements or pow ers w hich constituted the person go to different places. though some accept blood-sacrifice (ball) as well. is perform ed in private hom es and in public temples throughout H indu south A sia.svargam .19 Rites o f passage are occasional rituals perform ed at different junctures o f a person ’s life. w hile the other power. F o r example.18 W hile m any non-Brahm ans do not claim to believe in reincarna­ tion. P u ja . the ‘w orld o f the gh osts’ (preta-loka) and. V j or in the purest room in the house. M in im ally it might involve m aking a small offering o f a coin to the icon o f a deity and receiving the d eity’s blessing in the form o f a m ark (tilak) o f sandalw ood paste (candana) or red turm eric p o w d er (kunkum a) on the forehead. ‘liberation’). In private hom es. OS Puja v'e-C.An introduction to Hinduism funeral rites dem onstrate another model of the afterlife operating along side the reincarnation model. not only b y Brahm ans. p u ja is the offerin g o f vegetarian food. yet w h o nevertheless perform the correct funeral procedures. A ll deities accept these offerings and are the focuses o f p u ja. A t village level there are often no coherent beliefs Vs about the afterlife. In contrast to animal sacrifice. flow ers and incense to a deity. go into the realm o f the ancestors o r fathers (pitr-loka). but b y all H indus. there is no cognitive dissonance experienced b y H indus w ho do. These constitute the daily w orsh ip of deities . once they have a com plete body constructed through the p in d a offerings.

The rite is n ow approaching its culm ination and m ight be accom panied b y loud drum ­ ming. the p u ja should ideally be preceded b y a preparatory ritual and should end w ith a fire ritual (h om a). the dis­ p lay o f lamps (diparadhana). given a new sacred thread (the sym b ol o f high-caste birth). In south Indian tem ples. accom panied by the strong smell o f incense and the loud ringing o f bells and banging o f drum s. The rice is later consum ed b y the priests and temple officiants. pipes and the blow in g o f conches. A fte r the d eity’s meal. during w hich various substances are rubbed on the d eity’s ‘b o d y ’ . jew els and perfum es. A priest w ill then take a lamp to the devotees w h o cup their hands over the flames and touch their eyes and faces. D evotees w ill take aw ay blessed food (prasada) to be eaten later. but this is o n ly perform ed 209 . The devo ­ tees accept turm eric pow d er or w hite ash from the priest to m ark their foreheads and the p u ja is over. and in ritual manuals (paddhati). such as the K am ikagam a used in m any tem ples in Tamilnadu. T E M P L E W O R SH IP Puja follow s a sim ilar pattern and contains the same elements in different temples throughout India.Hindu ritual become very elaborate. with sacred verses (m antra) being uttered by the icmple priest (pujari/pucari) while the icon is bathed and dressed. The deity is then dressed and decorated in new clothes. The circling lam p. p u ja generally conform s to accounts given in sacred texts. in the M inakshi temple at M adurai. the A gam as and Tantras com ­ posed during the medieval period. bringing the deity’s light and w arm th to his or her devotees.a term w hich is used syn on ym ou sly w ith p u ja. or the Tantrasamuccaya used in m ost K erala temples today. Plates o f boiled rice and sweets are offered to the deity (naivedya) to the accom panim ent o f ringing bells. and a variety o f foods are offered.and to receive back the offered food blessed b y the god {prasada). such as sesame seed oil and curd. C h ris F u ller notes that. M any people m ight be present at such pujas to gaze upon the deity . is kn ow n as the arati lamp . Temples w ill adopt the rites and mantras prescribed in a specific text. and adorned w ith gold. often receiving a dot o f red turmeric on the forehead or bridge o f the nose. during w hich the priest w aves a variety o f cam phor lamps in a circular m otion before the icon. a curtain is draw n back and the devotees can have the ‘visio n ’ (darsana) o f the deity and see the final stage o f the ritual. In t e m p le s / ? ^ usually com prises a rite o f bathing the icon (abhiseka).to have its darsana . bringing the light and w arm th o f the deity to themselves.

the puja to the fam ­ ily deity Raktesvari. the extended fam ily o f parents. made out o f split layers o f banana tree stalks. five daily pujas arc celebrated. food and coloured pow d ers. These offerings include three bow ls o f substitute blood (gurusi). O n the day o f the ritual.m in­ im ally the m aking o f an offering and the receiving o f a blessing . w hile blessings are received b y his devotees in the form o f his vision (darsanam ). is prepared as an altar. fed. and lamps are lit on the m andalam w hich functions as the locus fo r the invocation o f the deity w h o receives offerings. The priest then w ithdraw s from the inner shrine. Traditionally each N am b u dri fam ily group has an ancestral hom estead (illam) to w hich fam ily members return on special ritual occasions. Preparations fo r the p u ja are begun on the evening before the ritual itself. and tw o betw een daw n and midday. In this particular p u ja . In temples such as the famous temple o f G u ru v a yu r on the Kerala coast. during w hich a fram e or m an dalam . ‘ L o rd o f G u ru v a yu r’. The G oddess is addressed b y a respected elder behind the closed door o f the shrine’s inner sanctum where she lives. W hile the day is techni­ cally divided into five p u jas. the temple ‘ prostitutes' m arried to the deity. The icon is in a standing posture located in the inner sanctum of the temple where the daily rituals are perform ed. These occur at the junctures o f the d ay (dawn. to perform sacred dances before the shrine. H ere. A d a y s jou rn ey north o f G u ru va yu r is the small tow n of Payyanur. touching parts o f the G o d d ess’ body. gather at the shrine b y the fam ily hom e in the m orning. w hich attracts m any thousands o f pilgrim s.21 The pattern o f w orsh ip that w e see here in the G u ru va yu r temple . paraded around the tem ple. bathed. The shrine is lit b y a num ber o f lamps and he utters mantras. in some sense the entire daily ritual cycle can be seen as a single p u ja . Raktesvari. is regarded as a manifestation ol Krsna. thereby em pow ering them (nyasa). and offered lights. w hich lasts fo r a couple o f hours. w ith variations. midday. the deity being awakened. w ould have had devada si dancers. is appeased through receiving offerings and in turn conveys blessing (anugraham ) on the family. uncles and aunts. w hich 210 . sunset). G uru vayu rappan . along w ith m any other fam ilies throughout K erala. throughout H induism . such as the fam ous Jagannatli temple at Puri. a N am b u dri Brahm an fam ily perform s an annual found. O ne further example w ill illus­ trate this. children. the fam ily deity. The presiding deity o f the temple*.An introduction to Hinduism on im portant occasions.20 Many temples. coloured black and red.

with regional variations. is punctuated b y a num ber o f religious festivals (utsava). w hich can be located throughout the subcontinent. Fin ally the arati lamp is brought around to the fam ily members fo r Ihem to take the flame and heat o f the G oddess. so he must use substitutes. w hich are often particular to specific tem ples. Red powder. whereas lower-caste groups use substances. Indeed Kaktesvari means ‘ G oddess o f b lo o d ’ . is given out to make a mark called a tilak on the forehead. p reviou sly offered. with the N am budris.Hindu ritual I he priest pours over the mandalam. The use o f actual blood to propitiate the G odd ess w ou ld be polluting fo r the N am budri. To witness the icon is to have the auspicious ‘visio n ’ (darsana) o f the deity and so to receive its blessing. social groups. some o f w h ich are pan-Indian. become. and used on ly on festival occasions or w hen the deity circum am bulates the temple. the N am budris say that. the N am b u dri uses mantras. and indeed in other countries w here Hinduism has journeyed. m ore im pure. pan -H in du festivals are: 211 . the fam ily members partake o f a feast w hich includes a dessert item (payasam) made from food offered during th epuja and called prasa- dam. The rit­ ual over. substitute or sym bolic offerings. The icon is often accom panied b y a procession o f decorated elephants. thousands o f people line the streets to w itness the procession o f the tem ­ ple icon (m urti) on a carriage (ratha) pulled through the tow n b y som e­ times hundreds o f men. The principal. In this puja w e see the basic elements o f H indu ritual: the offerings to the deity. Indeed. the repetition o f sacred form ulae. the offering o f light and the receiving o f the G o d d ess’ grace in the form o f fire. using the lunar calendar. The fam ily then circumambulate the shrine. the closing o f the doors o f the inner shrine. The processed icon is sometimes distinct from the cen­ tral icon installed in the temple. So w hat are literal offerings o f blood to the G oddess amongst lower. Festivals The H indu year. others o f w hich are local. and is a pattern. There is a fam ous festival at the Jagannatha temple in Puri. D urin g festivals. This structure is directly paralleled b y the rituals at G uruvayur. during w hich an enorm ous cart and icon is pulled through the processional street (the English w o rd ‘juggernaut’ comes from this cart). W hat is interesting about this puja is that the offerings o f coloured water are sym bolic representations o f blood. horses and h oly men (sadhu) often in a carnival atmosphere.

An introduction to Hinduism . . characterized by often robustious behaviour. The tenth day of the festival also celebrates the victory of Räma and his monkey army over the demon Rävana. Pilgrim ages are especially auspicious w hen undertaken during a temple festival. where the divine w orld touches or meets the human w orld . O ther festivals. * Pilgrimage Pilgrim age is integral to H induism and in m odern times. . though not as popular as the above.Holi. such as the annual procession o f the 212 . referred to as a ‘fo rd ’ (tirtha). Vasant. w here the higher realms meet the low^er. sacred to elephant-headed Ganesa. Lord of Beginnings and Obstacles. occurs. the Durgâ-püjâ. The festival during Bhadrapada (August-September). The festival sacred to Siva during Marga (Novem ber-Decem ber). .Ganesa Catürthi. and gifts exchanged. This falls in the month of Sravana (July-August) and celebrates Krsna’s birthday.Krsna Jayänti. O f these the N äga Pancam I in south India is popular. especially in Bengal. the sacred meets the everyday. and the spring festival.D ivâlï or Dipâvalî. in the north. during which people drench each other in water and coloured powder. celebrated especially by Saivas. w hen w om en and girls w ear bright yello w dresses. . The full moon day of Sravana during which girls tie coloured threads around their brothers’ wrists. . This is a holiday during Asvina (September-October) which marks the end of the monsoon. during w hich snakes are fed and w orshipped. T he tirtha is a place where the transcendent com es to earth. A pilgrim age is a tirtha yatra. a place fo r ‘crossing o ver’ .Rakhi Bandhan. The first nine days are called navardtri (‘nine nights’) at the end of which time the festival to the Goddess. a jo u rn ey to a h oly place.Siva Rätri.Dassera. are nevertheless celebrated b y large num bers o f people. has becom e ve ry popular. . w ith the develop­ ment o f good com m unication system s across the vast expanse o f India. A tirtha is therefore a point o f m edi­ ation between tw o realms. M ore local festivals also occur such as the ‘dancepossession’ festivals o f the teyyam deities in Kerala. The spring festival in Phälguna (February-M arch). The festival of light during Asvina. celebrated throughout the Hindu world with lamps placed in windows and around doors or floated down rivers.

Sacred rivers are themselves places o f pilgrim age. also rising in the H im alayas and joining the G anges. U jjain. It is v e ry auspicious to perform the dham a y a tra. the birthplace and capital o f Ràm a .Hindu ritual Lo rdjagan nâth aat Puri. Traditionally there are seven sacred cities w hich are the object o f pilgrim age. The actual source o f the Ganges. some are pan-H indu. O ther im portant pilgrim age centres are M athura (K rsn a’s birthplace). Tow ns located along the banks o f these rivers tend to attract pilgrim s. A yo d h ya. There are also traditionally fo u r sacred abodes (dh am a) at the fo u r ‘ com pass points’ o f India: Badrinath in the north. flow in g from Karnataka through Tamilnadu. the Y am una and the m ythical Sarasvatï . Ram eshw aram in the south and D w ark a on the west coast. Vrndavana (K rsn a’s forest home) and.such as A llahabad at the confluence o f the G anges. H ard w ar and. particularly the G anges. Badrinath and Kedarnath. VARANASI Varanasi or Benares is perhaps the m ost im portant and fam ous city fo r H indus. further up the river. according to some H indus. Puri on the east coast. Varanasi. fam ous fo r its ghats.22 There are m any pilgrim age centres in India. along the Ganges. particularly the h oly cities. or sim ply enjoy the transforming experience o f the pilgrim age. o f Varanasi. the pilgrim age to all four centres in a clockw ise direction. Kanchipuram . a little further than Kedarnath at G om ukha. rising in the H im alayas and flow ing dow n to the sea in West Bengal. and the K averi.are extrem ely popular pilgrim age centres. D uring the period o f the p il­ grimage there is a tendency fo r caste restrictions to fall aw ay (though p er­ haps never w h olly) and for people to relate to a collective identity characterized b y ideals o f equality and com m union. A llahabad (or Prayaga). attracts m any pilgrim s in spite o f its inaccessibility. D w arka and Kanchipuram . along w hich pilgrim s bathe and along w h ich bodies are cremated. while others have m ore local or regional interest. the G od avari rising in M aharashtra and flow ing through A ndh ra Pradesh.such as A yod h ya. fulfil a vow (v ra ta ). in the south. the Yam una. such as the city o f Varanasi or the temple o f K an ya K u m àrï at India’s southern tip. and so. H ardw ar. such as the temple o f G u ru vayu r in Kerala m entioned above. Indeed 213 . M athura. the steps going dow n into the G anges. Tow ns and cities sacred to a par­ ticular deity . attain salvation.or which have arisen at the confluence o f sacred rivers . A t such places 11indus can rid themselves o f ($in* (papa) or accumulated karma.

An introduction to Hinduism to die in Kasi. a cycle that is related to the m ovem ent o f the planet Jupiter.23 KUMBHA MELA K u m b h a M elas are festivals.though some w ear ochre . The most im portant is held at A llahabad every tw elve years. but o f the cosm os. H ard w ar and N asik . covered in ashes and w ith matted hair. SABARIMALAI L et us look at one last example from Sabarim alai in the western G hats o f Kerala. and the eating o f meat and eggs fo r the fo rty-o n e-d ay period o f the festival. m ainly yo u n g men. U p o n reach­ ing the temple. The pilgrim s w ear black . Varanasi is regarded as the centre. pilgrim s and renouncers process into the river G anges to bathe. H ere there is a temple to the god A iyap p an . lead the procession. F o r the duration o f the festival. the pilgrim smashes a coconut upon one o f the eighteen steps o f the temple. alcohol. a sym bol o f the dissolution o f him self into A iyap p an .and fo l­ lo w a strict regime o f abstention from sex. Varanasi is the great cremation ground (m ahasm asana) w hich reflects the crem ation ground w hich is the universe. and fin ally b y ordinary householders. undergoing a sym bolic funeral at his initiation b y a guru on the eve o f the pilgrim age. the pilgrim becomes a renouncer. another name for this city sacred to Siva. fo llo w ed b y other orders o f ascetics. smashing a coconut on each successive step until all eighteen have been covered. This pilgrim age occurs during M argali (D ecem ber-Janu ary) and traditionally takes fo rty-o n e days.24 These pilgrim ages attract huge crow ds and during the Allahabad K u m bha M ela in 1989 an estimated 15 m illion pilgrim s came to bathe in the river. A ll the gods are gathered there and all pilgrim age places united in the one. The naked naga sadhus. O f all pilgrim age centres.25 The pilgrim should undertake the pilgrim age each year. w hich is a sym bol o f a L o rd w h o em braces all phenomena. D urin g the festival. the son o f Siva and M ohini. U jjain . though prepubescent girls and post-m enopausal w om en are allow ed to undertake the pilgrim age. a female form o f Visnu. held at A llahabad. especially sacred to h o ly men and w om en. a place w hich embraces all places. Varanasi is perhaps the m ost popular. The A iyap p an cult is predom inantly male. H ere is a city w hich is m ore than just an urban centre. is to attain libera­ tion (m oksa) upon death. 214 . not on ly o f India.

festivals.ista-devatâ).26 the texts developing various aspects o f vedic know ledge. perform rituals fo r the sake o f spiritual salvation. Pilgrim s to Varanasi. w ill consult astrologers seated on the steps leading into the G anges. attending the temple and fam ily shrine. a Vaisnava tradi­ tion w hose w orsh ip is focused on Visnu or one o f his incarnations. and generally fulfilling his household obliga­ tions. Such devotees are generally male. such as a Saiva tradition w hose w orsh ip is focused on the god Siva. A devotee w ithin such a tradition. how ever. designed or used at first to determine the co r­ rect time fo r sacrificing. perform ed alone before the deity’s icon each day. pra sâda.b . These rituals are p ro p i­ tiatory and in return the com m unity receives the blessing o f the deity in the form o f its darsana. It is im portant in determ ining the times o f pilgrim age. the Saiva Siddhânta devotee described b y Richard D avis fo r exam ple. j Private ritual The kinds o fp ü jâ w e have so far described occur w ithin the public realm o f the temple or fam ily shrine. marriage. The astrologer (jyotisi) is a v e ry significant figure in the lives o f H indus w h o make m ajor decisions guided b y his advice. and the hope that the deity w ill protect and guide them. These w ill be con ­ sulted at all im portant occasions in the ch ild’s life to help determine auspi­ cious times fo r rites o f passage. The science o f astrology (jyotisa) com prises one o f the Vedârigas. and the parents o f m any children w ill have their infants’ horoscope draw n up shortly after birth. Some H indus. fo r example. and in determ ining marriage partners. w hich is conceptualized in a variety o f w ays. jv-vS s . though w om en are not necessarily 2 I5 . to undertake rituals.27 w ou ld o ffer privatepüjâs to his chosen deity (.Hindu ritual A stro lo g y There is a deep belief in H induism that human life is influenced b y the movements o f the planets and astrology is o f vital importance in determining an auspicious time. T he genre o f texts w hich form the scriptural basis o f m any o f these tradi­ tions are the Agam as and Tantras already discussed. even dow n to the correct hour. w hile at the same time maintaining a public ritual life. These seekers after w isdom and liberation from the material w orld o f suffering m ight be initiated into one o f the great traditions o f H induism . or a Sâkta tradition w hose focus is the G odd ess in one o f her manifestations. notw ithstanding the element o f privacy in the w orship o f the deity b y the priest behind a screen.

T h e buffalo is th row n to its side. tw o buffalos are sacrificed to the goddess in the public cult and a num ber o f cocks and male goats are sacrificed in private cults. due largely to its prohibition b y the Indian governm ent since 1947. there are tw o kinds o f offerings made to deities. Hindu ritual ^i aphies describing them. violent o r hot goddesses such as M ariyam m an and K ali. ro yal sacrifices to the G oddess during her ‘ten d a y ’ festival (das sera). unless during a special vedic srauta ritual. K aliyam m an and M ariyam m an. its legs tied above the h oof. T h e actual sacrifice is perform ed b y the P araiyar caste. ‘vegetar­ ian’ offerings o f fruit. H ere the main recipient o f the sacri­ fice is the goddess K am alakkanni. U ntouchables or H arijans. and. non-vegetarian offerings or the sacrifice o f animals (ball).the virtuosi dedicated to the task o f liberation and/or the gaining o f spiritual pow er the m ajority o f H indus on ly practice regularpujas. T h e y w ill meet their sister M ariyam m an later.28 In E llio t’s 1829 record. I I w h ich o n ly som e hot deities accept. suggests H iltebeitel. rice and so on. Indeed sacrifice o f buffalos is connected w ith ro y al p o w e r and the village buffalo sacrifice can be seen to reflect the grand. w h o are Sudras but w h o claim ksatriya origins. intoxicated. is the victim o f m assive violence and is sacred o n ly because it is to be killed. sprinkled w ith w ater and its head daubed w ith red and yello w turm eric powder. A second buffalo sacrifice occurs at a different location en route to the H arijan co lo n y and the b o d y 217 Sacrifice A s w e have seen. goats and som etim es buffalos is an integral part o f the w orsh ip and appeasement o f certain deities. on occasion. because of the death p ollu tion associated w ith it. though B errem an records a buffalo sacrifice in N epal during w hich the victim was hacked to death w ith sw ords and knives. The goddesses Kam alakkanni and K aliyam m an are brought in the form o f their em blems. ol the kind p revio u sly described. depending upon which specific tradition he is initiated into. the intoxication o f the G o dd ess upon slaying the buffalo dem on. w h ich has tended to be m arginalized in m ore recent years with the popularization o f ideas about non-violence and the pervasiveness o f a brahm anical id eo lo gy w hich stresses vegetarianism . The practice is w idespread at village level. vegetables. is sacrifice.An introduction to Hinduism excluded from initiation into these traditions. A lt H iltebeitel cites an early ethnography b y Sir Walter E llio t in 1829 and he himself witnessed and recorded a buffalo sac1 ifice at G ingee in Tamilnadu in 1984. usually b y low -caste groups. in hom e and temple. buffalo sacrifices to the G odd ess do occur during the autum n ‘ten d a y ’ festival or D urga Puja. so are ethno216 . w hich celebrates her v icto ry over the b uffalo dem on. made up m ainly o f a caste called Vanniyars. Th e representatives o f the goddesses and V irappan (those bearing their em blems) dance. w h ich all deities accept. n otably the ferocious. A nim al sacrifice has alw ays been an | »im portant dim ension in the history o f H indu traditions. but in the meantime they are accom panied b y the fierce male d eity V irappan: one o f the P araiyars w h o is possessed b y the god. though Brahm ans w ou ld generally not perform sacrifice. She is joined in the •¿acrifice b y tw o o f her seven sisters. H ow ever. W hile internalized ritual has been the practice o f the few . in contrast. on the one hand. D urin g the celebrations. A n ancient and im portant form o f H indu w orsh ip. is sacred and so should be treated w ith reverence. Because buffalo sacrifices are rare. T h ough often fro w n ed upon w ithin m odern H induism . Villagers w h o have becom e possessed b y the goddess jum p upon the bloodstained ground and w om en smear the b u ffalo ’s blood on their foreheads as a tilak m ark. b y individuals or individual fam ilies. and it is beheaded b y a num ber o f strokes o f a large knife. a leg o f the b u f­ falo is cut o ff and placed in its m outh. W hile fo w ls. B u ffalos have tradi­ tionally been beheaded. The sacrifice occurs at the end o f the ten-day festival and involves the co-ordination o f the three temples and a com m ittee w h o organize it. The first buffalo is led to a clearing b y a tree outside the R o y a l F o rt. the head is first rem oved from the sacrificial scene and then head and b o d y taken to the H arijan colony. The private rituals incum bent upon the initiate for the purposes o f spiritual salvation an su pererogatory and do not replace his public ritual obligations. Having perform ed the correct private rituals. the devotee hopes to attain spiritual salvation either during his lifetime or upon death. on the other hand. ‘ Lotus M aiden’ . buffalo sacrifice o n ly v e ry rarely occurs. and presented as an offering. a trident and a pot respectively. on the place o f the sacrifice. reported b y H iltebeitel. reflecting. the sacrifice o f fo w ls. goats and sheep are frequently offered (m ostly fow ls) to ferocious male and female deities. yet. usually to a blood-dem anding goddess. w hose small temple is half-way up a steep incline to the G ingee R o y a l Fort. Sacrifice refers to a ritual in w hich an animal is killed.29 A t G ingee. Such ritual hum iliation o f the victim is a com m on theme in sacrifice in w hich am bivalent attitudes are displayed tow ards the victim w h o.

but such a practice m ay never have actually occurred. at a deeper level. furtherm ore. recorded in the D evim d h d tm y a . the Brahm ans offering and consum ing o n ly vegetarian fo od next. F o w ls and goats offered to her b y meat-eating castes. w h o is carried from her temple in the form o f a pot. The other notable . The sacrifice at one level represents the com m unity itself w ith the G oddess at the top.31 The buffalo sacrifice reflects the H indu cosm os w ith the divine being at the top o f the scale. are sim ilarly consum ed as blessed food. in this case the G oddess w h o can absorb the im purity of blood-sacrifice. M yth and sacrifice The violence dem onstrated towards the buffalo victim reflects the v io ­ lence o f the G oddess tow ards the buffalo dem on. m ost notably in the m yth. We do possess texts w hich refer to a human sacrifice in the Indian traditions. Its offal and blood are offered to the dem onic beings on the village boundary. existing on ly as an ideal or possibility. vegetarian offerings are offered to the G oddess and consum ed as blessed food (prasada) b y the Brahm ans. In the meantime the tw o goddesses. The sacrificial v ic­ tim is. the Sudras. as it w ere. for the sisters have not been together since the previous y e a r’s festival. a violence w hich is. W ithin the ‘private cults’ o f individual families. w h o is depicted iconographically as both buffalo and human form in one. Kam alakkanni and Kaliyam m an. Here there is jo y fu l celebration. meet their sistei M ariyam m an. or perhaps the com m unity as a w hole. This social stratification is reflected in the offerings to the G oddess during the festival. the low er-ranking meat-eating castes b elow them. at the same time.An introduction to Hinduism is taken aw ay as before to where the meat will be divided. a p u rifyin g power. they reflect the social hierarchy. the don or or com m unity is purified: the sacrificial victim becom es a substitute fo r the donor or com m unity and. T h rou gh perform ing sacrifice.32 This iden­ tification o f sacrificial victim w ith sacrificer is reflected in a num ber o f H indu m yths. a substitute fo r the hum an don or or sacrificer. w ith the h igh ly polluting H arijans below them. Such sacrifices are a w a y in w hich the village or com m unity can contact the G odd ess and. The dem ons are classified here even below the H arijans. w hile the untouchable castes consum e the buffalo’s meat in their village. o f D urga slaying and decapitating M ahisasura.30 O n ly the G odd ess or one o f her form s accepts buffalo sacrifices. transform s the sins o f the com m unity or donor into the blessing o f the G oddess.

on ly the Brahm an priest is allowed into the inner sanctum o f the deity in the temple. the Brahm ans. there is a deeper level o f pu rity and pollution w hich is generally regarded as a property o f the body. despite this legislation. There are limits to w hich this is possible o f course. men from w om en and high caste from lo w caste. as O T la h e rty observes. should be as free from p o llu ­ tion as possible. through destroying the sacrifice. is identi­ fied w ith the sacrificial victim. though such discrim ination is n ow illegal in India. Siva. the U ntouchables are often fo r­ bidden entry to H indu temples or shrines w hich are administered b y Brahm ans. is in fact com pleting the sacri­ fice b y killing D aksa. The scale o f p u rity and pollution differentiates individuals from each other. Yet. have a pure b o d ily substance w hile the lo w er castes have im pure b od ily substance. and. w ho has becom e the sacrificial victim . tradi­ tionally w om en were excluded from cooking during m enstruation to p re­ vent pollution being spread to the rest o f the family. low -caste H indus and foreigners are frequently excluded from temples because o f their polluting properties w hich w ou ld anger the 219 K .33 Ritual purity C entral to H indu rituals is the idea o f purity. hair and nail clippings) are polluting fo r the H indu. menstruation and birth and during these times a person w o u ld be polluted and so excluded from certain activities such as entering a temple. Because o f their state o f constant pollution due to the su b ­ stance o f the bodies they are born w ith. the instigator of the sacrifice. the H indu must be in a state o f ritual purity. A part from every day pollution caused through the b o d y and inadvertent contact w ith p o l­ luting substances. w h o needs to p u rify him self each day in the ritual m orning ablution.Hindu ritual myth which suggests this identification is i lit* myth of 1 )aksa in which Siva beheads him. Indeed. w ith the U ntouchables being the most polluted. Sim ilarly. a low -caste person w ou ld not be allow ed w ithin the household shrine during the N am b u d ri’s p iijd to Raktesvarl. or having a ritual perform ed on their behalf. In the presence o f the divine at a temple or before the household shrine. as V lrabhadra. The natural functions o f the b o d y and b o dily products (all bodily fluids. It is clear that D aksa. w hich means that pollution (mala) has been eradi­ cated as far as possible. as a b odily substance. A n yo n e undertaking a ritual. There are also graver form s o f pollution caused b y death and grieving. and certain classes o f people might never be able to be rid o f the pollution w hich accrues to their bodies due to their social group. The highest caste.

B efore the teyyam shrine he sings or chants in M alayalam . A person might becom e possessed b y the deity regularly on the occasion o f the festival and might even becom e a ‘priest’ or ‘priestess’ o f the god. This usu­ ally occurs am ong lower-caste groups and is often integral to the ritual process. possession b y a ghost or dem onic presence w ou ld be inauspicious and require exorcism b y a ritual specialist. elaborately decora­ ted w ith headdress and face paint (see plates 19 and 20). a series o f laudations to the deity. as the teyyam dances accom ­ panied b y the intense. m urti). H indu ritual not only expresses w orship to a deity (or asks for protection or appeases the deity). as w e have seen w ith rites o f passage. b y stating. and a m irror is held up to him. but also. w here chickens w ill be sacri­ ficed and alcohol offered. so the divine can occupy and enter the b o d y o f his or her devo­ tee. The possessed person becomes a m anifestation o f the divine. w ho is excluded from those rites. The scale of purity and pollution is an organizing principle and co n ­ straint w hich controls the regulation o f bodies in social space in H induism .35 Ritual possession occurs m ost strikingly in festivals. A s the divine presence occupies and possesses the icon (murti) in the temple. U p o n seeing his reflection he becom es possessed b y the deity he is enacting. w ho dances around the shrine com pound. though. Possession in a ritual context b y the deity should be regarded as a blessing and auspicious. rapid drum -beats o f his associates. The festival lasts for about tw o days. There is an electric atm osphere during these festivals. D urin g the festival the deity w ill possess a teyyam dancer w h o is beautifully adorned as the god. These lower-caste festivals occur throughout the M alabar region at innum erable shrines w hich house the teyyam deities in the form o f icons or sw ords. im plicitly and explicitly. indicating that the possession is com plete. their b o d y paralleling the d eity’s icon (vig ra h a . such as those o f the teyyam deities o f Kerala. then in the second person and finally the first person.34 Ritual and possession A n im portant aspect o f public ritual during festivals is possession (avesa) b y the deities o f the temples w hich are the focus o f celebration. w ith each deity being perform ed in turn b y a dancer specifically designated to perform that particular deity on the occasion o f the festival. H e begins his dance b y an altar. not o n ly w h o can be included in any particular rite. praising the deity first in the third person. The 220 . o f course. giving darsanam to the onlookers. it also makes statements about group identity.An introduction to Hinduism deity.

but ve ry b road ly refers to sentences. fo r protection. w hile never losing their fierce nature. These are mantras. A lth ou gh there is a clear distinction between the high deity and the teyyam . that is. M antras can be uttered audibly and loudly. The im portant point is that possession is culturally determ ined and is not prim arily about the inner state o f consciousness o f the perform er. and to m agically affect the w o rld .Hindu ritual teyyam dances with sw ords and shields taken from the shrine. it is char­ acterized b y a highly form alized set o f behaviours and beliefs w hich ow e little to individual m otivations and dispositions’ . A lth ough the perform er m ay im provise to som e extent. though sometimes there is an exchange o f ritual offerings. T he teyyam is refused entry.38 they can be w hispered (a level w hich is often 221 . m ostly though not exclu­ sively in Sanskrit. F o r example. Th e teyyam sometimes marches out o f the com pound through the streets o f the tow n to the local temple. w h ich accom pany ritual acts. or as em bodying the p ow er or energy (sakti) o f a deity. pan-H indu. w h ich are recited or chanted fo r ritual and soteriological purposes. and returns to the teyyam shrine giving darsanam to people on the w a y and entering some houses and so blessing them. cool deity installed in the temple and the low -caste. as R ich Freem ans extensive study has show n. the teyyam Visnum urti. local. the ferocious incarnation o f Visnu. in verse and in prose. or w ord s.36 R itual and m antra O ne o f the m ost striking features o f all H indu ritual is the repetition o f sacred form ulae. phrases. are nevertheless often identified w ith the high deities. M antra has been n otoriou sly difficult to define. sym b o li­ cally attacking the high-spirited crow d.37 In the orth od ox vedic tradition they have been used to evoke deities. This pattern o f knocking at the temple door and being refused entry expresses a hierarchical relationship between the high-caste. the teyyam s. teyyam . w here he demands the attention o f the higher-caste officiant inside. and in tantric traditions they are themselves regarded as deities. The example o f the teyyam illustrates h ow possession. is identified w ith N arasim ha. Freem an observes: ‘possession in T eyyam is a fundam entally ritual activity. is a socially and culturally defined phenom enon. at a shrine in the small tow n o f N ileshw aram . The possessed ritual dancer acts in a ritually determ ined way. usually in Sanskrit. paralleling the processional march o f a tem ple icon. hot. the ritual songs he perform s about the teyyam fo llo w a standard pattern.

each distinct to its tradition and region. Summary F rom the examples that have been given.41 w ith the structure o f the cosm os in the Mandukya Upanisad. rep­ resents or encapsulates the entire vedic corpus. M antras are central to the ritual traditions o f H induism and. It is regarded as the m ost sacred sound in the Veda and. indeed. gives the w ords force or energy. being accepted as sacred even outside the H indu fold in Buddhism and Sikhism . the guru em pow ers the mantra. w hich can be loo sely translated as (O ra. the master o f m antra-know ledge. The m ost fam ous seed mantra is om. m ay he impel our th ou gh ts/40 This is taught to you ng Brahm ans during their sacred thread cerem ony (upanayana) and is thereafter uttered every m orning at sunrise b y orth odox Brahm ans. as D erm ot K illin g ly has observed. it is revered as the sound o f the absolute w hich manifests the cosm os. ‘ O m namah sivaya hum ’ contains a m eaningful ele­ ment. atmosphere.42 and finds a place in all o f H indu rit­ ual. or in silence regarded as the highest level. M antras often com bine ‘ seed syllables’ (bija). bhuva./tat savitur varenyam /bhargo devasya dhlm ahi/dhiyo y o nah pracod ayat’ . the essence o f the Veda.39 Of particular im portance is the idea that a mantra is given orally b y the teacher or guru. to the student. F o r example. sva.An introduction to Hinduism regarded as higher than the clearly vocalized mantra) and they can he uttered p u rely m entally. First appear­ ing in the Atharva Veda Samhita. w ith meaningful phrases. mantras fo r Siva w ill be repeated b y Saivas and so on.43 W hile om is not sem antically m eaningful. sound units based on Sanskrit p h o nolo gy but w hich are not m eaningful. in a w a y which parallels the icon o f a deity in a temple being em pow ered or brought to life. w e can see that within H induism there is a w ide range o f ritual practices w hich focus on deities. H indus per- . M ay w e contem ­ plate the desirable radiance o f the god Savitr. yet at the same time displaying features w hich can be found throughout H induism from K erala to the U S A . and sky. O m becom es identified w ith absolute reality (brahman) in the Taittiriya Upanisad. ‘ hom age to Siva’ (namah sivaya). H indu traditions can sometimes be defined or delineated b y the mantras they use: mantras fo r Visnu or his incarnations w ill be repeated by Vaisnavas. earth. from vedic sacrifice to daily puja in the temple. and the bijas om and hum w hich are sem antically empty. The most fam ous vedic mantra is the G ayatri: ‘ O m bhur.

Ritual provides continuity o f tradition through the generations. and some H indus perform private rituals for the purposes o f salvation (mukti) and to experience the pleasures o f higher w orlds or heavens (bh u kti).Hindu ritual I form rituals o f sacrifice and puja to propitiate deities and receive blessings. arguably conveys im plicit H indu values. 223 . and sets the parameters fo r the H indu’s sense o f identity.

nastika) view s o f Jainism . alongside system s o f ritual and soteriologies using yo ga and meditation. The Sanskrit terms generally translated as ‘ph iloso ­ p h y ’ or ‘th eology’ are darsana. some schools are atheistic and not concerned w ith a ‘theos’ . analysis or ‘investigative science’ w ithin the field o f vedic know ledge. particularly used w ith reference to logic (nyaya)} The term darsana. what traditional H in du thinkers do w ould on ly be partially recognized in contem porary departm ents o f ph ilosoph y in western universities. Th e orthodox darsanas have codified their teachings into aphorism s called sutras (‘ threads’) w hich are often too condensed to be understood 224 . has the im plication o f ‘v ie w ’ or even ‘v isio n ’ o f the w o rld and is used not on ly to refer to orthodox (astika) system s o f H indu belief. Alternatively. derived from a verb root drs\ ‘to see’ . but also emphasizes its exegetical nature. elaborate and often h igh ly sophisticated doctrinal schemes and m etaphysical speculation developed w ithin H induism . a system o f thought expressed through a tradition o f com mentaries upon fundam ental texts. W hile there are undoubted sim ilarities between traditional H indu thinking and m odern western philosophy. The term ‘p h iloso p h y’ has often been used to describe these system H indu theology and philosophy Fro m the earliest times. and anviksiki. but also to the het­ erodox (. w hile the term ‘th eo lo g y’ conveys not o n ly the system atic and transcendent aspects o f H in du thought. system s acknow ledging the Veda as revelation. B oth terms w ill be used in the fo llo w in g exposi­ tion as appropriate. Buddhism and M aterialism (Lokayata). The term darsana is also used in a quite different sense to refer to the reli­ gious act o f gazing upon a temple icon or a living saint.

offer systematic explanations and interpretations./ 1indu theology and philosophy w ithout the use o f a com m entary (bhasya).claim to have liberation (moksa) as their purpose.arthdpatti). . It is in the com m entarial literature that refined debates and technical refutations o f rival schools are to be found.sab d a ). These general features can be seen in relation to the central questions and concerns o f H indu thought. presum ption (. being expressed prim arily through commentaries and sub-commentaries on revelation (the Upanisads) and on prim ary texts called Sütras. In debating these issues the darsanas develop a com m on term inology. The different darsanas accepted all or some o f these means o f know ledge. and epistem ology. w hile epistem ological questions have been concerned w ith valid means o f cognition and methods o f logic and inference. W hile the flow erin g o f H indu ph ilosoph y and theology occurs between the seventh and seventeenth centuries ce. the h istory o f Indian ph iloso ph y can be broken dow n into the fo llo w in g broad periods: 225 . Q uestions o f on to lo gy have been intim ately connected w ith the ph ilosoph y or theology o f lan­ guage. inference (anum dna). or to see them as com plem entary aspects o f a single sy s­ tem. . These com mentaries form the exegetical expression o f the tradition and in turn have sub-com m entaries and glosses written on them.upam dna).are concerned with ideas about the structure of the body.are exegetical in nature. T hey: . consciousness and being. analogy (. particularly regarding the six means or methods o f valid know ledge (pram dna): nam ely percep­ tion (pratyaksa). particularly the relation between language. and non-apprehension (a b h a v a ). . . the theory o f know ledge. .assume the revelation of the Veda. the nature of matter and the functioning of consciousness. verbal authority (.assume a transcendent reality beyond the contingencies of the human condition. F o llo w in g Frauw allner and H albfass. These debates have often been sharp and intellectually rigorous and resist some m odern H indu attempts to collapse the real differences between the various darsanas. which form the scriptural source of philosophical/theological schools. G eneral features o f orthodox H indu darsanas can be sum m arized as follow s. particularly on tology or the nature o f being. the origins o f p h ilo ­ sophical speculation go back to the Veda.

or perhaps he does not kn ow . on ly he know s . Buddhism and Jainism.presystematic thought in the Vedas.2 Early.6 The text says that as all leaves are held together b y a stalk. A lth ou gh the terms sat and asat m ay not have had a technical. Epics and early Buddhist texts. . Upanisads. in the highest heaven. or perhaps it did not . are manifested. names and their form s. .the theologies of the theistic schools of the Vaisnavas and Saivas.the classical systems of speculation in Hinduism. The relation between the unm anifest brahman and the w o rld o f m ultiplicity is through the cosmic sound o f the mantra aum.An introduction to Hinduism . w hich prefigure a theme and school o f thought w hich develops at a later period.4 O f particular im portance are vedic speculations about the nature o f lan­ guage. instructs his son w h o has returned home. w hich is the prim e medium o f the vedic seers.modern Indian philosophy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which responds to western philosophy. . one o f the earliest theologians. particularly about whether in the beginning there was existence (sat) or non-existence (asat). conceited. so all sound is held together b y aum? 22 6 . after studying the Veda fo r twelve years. the hym n displays a rem arkable sense o f w on d er and intellectual sophisti­ cation in considering a state prior to existence or non-existence and beyond death or im m ortality. In the Upanisads speech is identified w ith the absolute brahman from w hich appearances.perhaps it form ed itself. U ddalaka tells him that existence (sat) is identified w ith brahman as the foundation o f the cosm os and the essence o f all beings. The Rg Veda contains hym ns to the p o w er o f speech (vac) w hich is treated as a goddess w h o makes men w ise.5 Th rough speech.the one w h o looks dow n on it. presystematic speculation O ne o f the earliest texts w hich demonstrates a sense o f m etaphysical spec­ ulation is a hym n in the Rg Veda w hich asks a series o f questions about the origin o f things. The text concludes w ith some irony: ‘W hence this creation has arisen . philosophical meaning in these early texts. O f particular note is chapter 6 o f the Chandogya Upanisad in w hich the teacher U ddalaka A ru n i.’3 M ore system atic speculation begins w ith the U panisads. truth is revealed and the truth o f speech is a power. which become important during the second millennium c e .

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theology and philosophy

Language and Hindu theology
A n y understanding of H indu theology has to begin with language and com m unication. Revelation is a com m unication to hum anity through the seers, expressed in language, specifically the ‘perfected’ language o f Sanskrit. The injunctions o f the Veda are in language, and the theological com mentarial traditions are expressed through language. Language, fo r the vedic H indu, inspires, clarifies, and reveals truth and meaning and so is the starting point o f theological investigation (brahmajijnasa). Language is a fundam ental concern o f H indu th eology and assumes and uses a long tradition o f linguistic analysis. This tradition can be traced back to the ‘limbs o f the Veda’ or Vedangas, the auxiliary sciences in which Brahm ans w ou ld be trained, w hich ensure the correct transm ission o f the Veda through time and the correct perform ance o f rituals. O f the six Vedangas (listed on p. 53), gram m ar (vyakarana) and etym olo gy (nirukta) are directly concerned w ith language as an abstract system , while pronuncia­ tion (.slksa) and p ro so d y (chandas) are concerned w ith its expression. The science o f gram m ar (vyakarana) developed into an independent tradition, itself regarded as a darsana, and provided the inspiration and analytical precision for schools m ore directly concerned w ith theological topics.

A highly sophisticated science o f language developed astonishingly early in India, from at least the fifth century
b c e


and provided the inspiration fo r

m odern linguistics through the study o f Sanskrit and the translation into European languages o f some o f its key texts during the nineteenth century. The earliest H indu linguist w e have record of, Panini (c. fifth century

), in his ‘E igh t C hapters’ (Astadhyayi) produced a descriptive analyti­

cal gram m ar o f Sanskrit, covering the analysis o f phonem es, suffixes, sen­ tences, the rules o f w o rd com bination (sandhi), and the form ation o f verbal roots. This w o rk has yet to be surpassed and a deeper understand­ ing o f it has on ly occurred w ith the developm ent o f m odern linguistics in the West. A lth ou gh there is little o f direct theological concern in the 4,000 Sutras o f the text, it is the standard reference w o rk against w hich later language is measured and w hich is the reference point fo r later interpreta­ tions o f the vedic texts. It also provides the basis fo r the grammatical school w hich did have theological, as w ell as m ore strictly philosophical, concerns. 227

An introduction to Hinduism

L A N G U A G E , C O N S f c l O U S N KSS A N D H E I N G

W ith Bhartrhari (fifth century c e ) , the leading thinker o f the Gram m arian school, gram m ar is transform ed in the service o f theology. Bhartrhari sees gram m ar as being fundam entally concerned w ith the nature o f existence and, ultim ately, about the quest for liberation. The analysis o f language becom es not m erely a task in itself, or a task to ensure the correct transm is­ sion o f the Veda, but a path or door leading to liberation, a means o f release from transm igration: the im m ortal brahman becom es kn ow n through the purification o f the w o rd w hich occurs through the study o f gramm ar.8 The study and use o f ‘correct’ form s o f language produce a force o f success or fortune w hich m oves the student aw ay from im pure (i.e. incorrect) speech tendencies, tow ards the pure goal o f the vision o f the absolute. Th rou gh language, and specifically through its precise and deep under­ standing, humans are saved. This is to elevate language to a very high status indeed. Bhartrhari iden­ tifies absolute reality w ith purified language and relates the im pure w orld o f hum an transaction to the pure, timeless absolute through the medium o f language. A bsolu te being does not stand outside or beyond language, but its essence is language. Language is the link between being as timeless, unitary, im personal stasis and being as contingent, tim e-bound and partic­ ularized experience. The term Bhartrhari uses fo r the absolute identified w ith language is the ‘ sound absolute’ or ‘w o rd absolute’ (.sabdabrahman), an o n tology w hich cannot be apprehended due to ignorance (avidya ). Ignorance clouds our vision o f the sound absolute, though this ignorance itself is a m anifestation o f that absolute, created b y the p o w er o f time. F rom a pure, non-sequential, unmanifested state w hich Bhartrhari calls ‘the seeing’ (pasyanti), the sound absolute m anifests in a subtle mode in w hich the p ow er o f time begins to function, creating space, sequence, and apprehended b y humans as thought. This mental level is the ‘ m iddle’ realm (madhyama), characterized b y the pow ers o f time (which is p ri­ m ary) and space. In the final phase o f vaikhari, the sound absolute is fu lly extended and the pow er o f time manifests d iversity and causal relation­ ships: time is the force w hich constrains all events in the universe and is expressed in the sequence o f ordinary human language.9 Language, in its manifested modes o f mental (madhyama) and gross (vaikhari) speech, is driven and differentiated b y time, but its source is the timeless, transcen­ dent and purified ‘language’ as pure being. 228

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This tripartite division o f language and existence is furtherm ore related by Bhartrhari to the im portant ‘disclosure theory* o f meaning (sphota). The level o f vaikhari vac is the level o f the uttered sentence, w hich is understood in a flash o f com prehension or intuition (pratibha): meaning is apprehended as a sudden gestalt. This flash o f understanding is the disclo­ sure (sphota) of the meaning o f the sentence as a com plete integral unit. Those ignorant o f a particular language break a sentence up into w ords and phonem es, but for a native speaker understanding occurs in a direct unitary w ay, as a person perceives a painting as a w h ole and not as a collec­ tion o f lines and colo u rs.10 Sphota is the bursting forth o f the m eaning o f a sentence, or book, or poem ; a revelation, as it w ere, from a m ore subtle level w hich has its prim ary ground in the sound absolute. This absolute, know ledge o f w hich is an ‘ intuition’ (pratibha), is the ultimate goal, as w ell as source, o f language. Theories about language are also theories about consciousness to w hich it is intim ately connected. Various terms fo r consciousness - cit, citta, caitanya, samvit - are the focal point o f a num ber o f Indian philosophical and theological system s, m ost notably the consciousness-only (Vijnanavada) school o f Buddhism and the R ecognition (Pratyabhijna) school o f K ashm ir Saivism. Yet the question o f consciousness is present in all Indian philosophical system s to some degree, particularly its relation to language and its relation to being. Indeed m any schools, notably K ashm ir Saivism and A dvaita Vedanta, identify purified or absolute consciousness w ith being. This purified consciousness is sometimes thought to be beyond language, w hile everyday com m unicative language, w hich expresses desire, prevents consciousness from realizing its true ineffable nature. F o r the Gram m arians language is the distinguishing feature o f human con ­ sciousness w hich, at its deepest level, is identical w ith being. W hile not agreeing w ith the G ram m arians, all schools o f Indian thought respond in some w a y to the Gram m arian school, participating in the debate about language, its relation to consciousness and being, and using a shared p h ilo ­ sophical term inology.

The one and the many
A p art from a concern w ith language and its relation to being, H indu the­ ologies have been interested in the relation o f ‘the one’ to ‘the m an y’ . That is, H indu revelation and yogic experience refer to an absolute reality w hich is unitary and w ithou t second, yet experience o f the w orld tells us 229

An introduction to Hinduism
that existence is m anifold and diverse. What is the relation between this unique one and the diversified many? Some I lindu theologies maintain that the relation is one o f identity, the absolute is ultim ately identical with the m any and difference is m erely illusory; some say that the relation is of difference and that the one and the m any are quite ontologically distinct; w hile others maintain that both identity and difference are true o f the rela­ tion between the one and the m any.11 H indu theologies arrive at different positions w ith regard to this fundam ental question. The question o f being is related to the epistem ological question o f cau­ sation. H indu theories o f causation can be b road ly categorized into tw o. O ne theory, the satkaryavada theory, maintains that the effect is p re-exis­ tent in the cause, as a pot (the effect) pre-exists in the clay (the material cause) - the other, the asatkaryavada theory, that the effect does not pre­ exist in the cause. The satkaryavada th eory can itself be divided into a the­ o ry w hich maintained that the effect is a real transform ation (parinama) o f the cause, and a th eory w hich maintains that the effect is not a transform a­ tion, but a mere appearance o f the cause (vivarta) in a certain w ay, as a man sees silver coins in the sand but discovers that they are shells. That is, the shells are the cause o f the effect (the perception o f silver) but the effect is not a real transform ation o f substance. The Buddhists maintain that the effect is not pre-existent in the cause (and ultim ately deconstruct the idea o f causation), w hile the Sam khya school holds that effects are real trans­ form ations o f substance. The A dvaita tradition rejects these view s; fo r them there can on ly be an apparent transform ation o f substance, there being in reality o n ly the single substance o f brahman.

The commentarial tradition
The m ost notable feature o f Indian theology and ph iloso ph y is that it is expressed prim arily through com mentaries and sub-com m entaries on sacred texts. A lth ou gh there are some independent philosophical texts apart from the terse Sutra literature w hich stands at the beginning o f a com m entarial tradition - the traditions are p rim arily exegetical. Sutras are short condensed aphorism s w hich sum m arize the teachings o f a school. Indeed, the aim o f w riting com mentaries is to bring out the meaning o f these aphorism s, to reveal w hat is already there in the earlier text, to illu ­ minate its truth and not to say som ething new or original (though, o f course, the com mentaries inevitably do). A com m entary (Jbhasya) is an explanation - often extensive - o f the Sutras, w hile there are also shorter


/ 11mlh theology ami philosophy
explanations or glosses (vrtti) and further explanations of commentaries (varttika). A n author might also com pose an auto-com m entary on verses which he him self has com posed. The com m entaries reveal a vibrant and living tradition w ith creative reading and interpretation at its heart; com ­ mentaries are, in the w ords o f Francis C loon ey, ‘ not signs o f decay or decline o f the original genius o f a tradition, its reduction to w ords, mere scholasticism ; they are the blossom ing and fruition o f that original genius’ .12 These intellectual traditions becom e codified, b y the m edieval period, into a standard list o f six orth od ox system s, the saddarsanas, though there are im portant schools, n otably the Jain s and Buddhists, outside o f this scheme. In his ‘ C om pendium o f A ll Philosophies’ , the

Sarvadarsanasamgraha, M adhava (c. 134 0 c e ) does not refer to the term ‘ six darsanas’ but discusses the ideas o f sixteen philosophical schools,
including the im portant theological schools o f m onistic, or Kashm ir, and dualistic, or Siddhanta, Saivism . It must be rem em bered that the system o f the six darsanas is a codification and an attempt to make coherent, w ithin the sphere o f vedic orthodoxy, traditions o f rigorous philosophical debate w hich have m arked differences between them, yet w hich share a com m on term inology and a com m on com m entarial style. W hile the authors w ithin some o f the schools share m any view s in com m on, it should not be taken fo r granted that all thinkers w ithin a darsana share the same opinions. Indeed the school o f Vedanta, for example, covers a w ide range o f diver­ gent view s, though b y the late medieval period there is a tendency, w ithin Vedanta, to synthesize view s and integrate divergent opinions into a hier­ archical scheme w ith Vedanta at the apex. The six orth odox systems are: - Samkhya, the ‘enumeration’ school which posited a dualism between matter (prakrti) and the self {purusa), both of which are real, though ontologically distinct; - Yoga, the school of Patarijali which assumes the metaphysics of Samkhya; - Mlmamsa, the tradition of vedic exegesis which assumes the reality of the many; - Vedanta, the tradition which develops from the Upanisads and which argues for the reality of the one and, in one of its forms, denies the reality of the many; - N yaya, the school of logic;


An introduction to Hinduism
- Vaisesika, the atomist school, associated with N yaya, which assumes the reality of the many; the constituents of existence do not arise from a shared source - rather, each phenomenon is distinct and separate. These are often coupled together into three groups, nam ely Sam khyaY oga, N yaya-V aisesika, and M lm am sa-Vedanta, fo r both historical and conceptual reasons: Sam khya is the theoretical substrate o f C lassical Yoga; Vedanta is a continuation o f M lm am sa; and N y a y a , logic, is used in the m etaphysical speculations o f Vaisesika. I w ill here describe the Sam khya and Vedanta schools as these are the m ost im portant w ith regard to the w id er religious traditions, N y a y a and Vaisesika being schools o f a m ore technical nature, concerned w ith categories o f being, language and logic.

T he Sam khya system is the oldest system atic p h iloso p h y to have emerged in the H indu tradition and is enorm ously influential on later theological schools, especially tantric Saivism and the Pancaratra. Indeed, other schools o f Indian thought, such as N y a y a and Vedanta, developed during the early centuries o f the com m on era partly due to polem ical reactions to Sam khya philosophy. T he term sam khya, w hich means ‘ enum eration’ or ‘ calculation’ , has tw o senses: one a general sense used in renouncer tradi­ tions, including Jain ism and Buddhism , to denote the enum eration and categorization o f elements w hich com prise the cosm os; the other a m ore specific sense to refer to the Sam khya philosophical system w hich devel­ oped a tradition o f com m entaries upon its k ey texts and is the backdrop to Patanjali’s Yoga. These uses are chronological: the earlier, general ten­ dency to categorize the cosm os and human p sych ology, w hich might be called P roto-Sam kh ya, occurs very early in renouncer traditions, from at least the ninth to the third centuries b c e , w hile the system atic philosophy, K arika Sam khya, develops fairly late from about the fourth century c e .13

In the general sense o f the enum eration o f the elements or constituents o f the cosm os, Sam khya-like speculations are found in early Jain , Buddhist and H indu texts. H ow ever, rather than seeing Sam khyan speculations arising out o f Jain and Buddhist contexts, it is p ro b ab ly m ore accurate to see the Jain , Buddhist and early brahmanical speculations, including m ed­ ical speculation, arising out o f a com m on ideological context in w hich Sam khya-like enum eration o f the categories o f experience is central. 232

I lin d a theology an d philosophy i self (purusa) i matter (prakrti) 3 higher mind (buddhi) 4 ego (ahamkara)

5 mind (manas) senses organs of action 6 hearing 7 touching 8 seeing 9 tasting io smelling

subtle elements 1 6 sound 17 touch 18 form 19 taste 20 smell

gross elemei 21 space 22 air 23 fire 24 water 25 earth


12 grasping 13 walking 14 excreting 15 procreating

Figure 8 The tw enty-five Sam khya tattvas

There are striking parallels between the later Sam khya philosophy, m ed­ ical system s or A yurveda, and Buddhist system s, particularly the A bhidharm a and Yogacara Buddhism . Indeed, Isvarakrsna, an exponent o f the philosophical tradition, begins his treatise on Sam khya w ith the idea o f life as suffering (< duhkha), a theme ve ry im portant in Buddhism . Rather than one system borrow in g from the other, they m ay w ell develop from a com m on heritage. The earliest enum eration o f cosm ic principles in the brahm anical tradition comes w ith the Chandogya Upanisad w hich posits a single (eka) being or truth (sat) w hich produces fire, w hich in turn p ro ­ duces water, w hich in turn becom es food. T he text refers to the sense o f self-identity sim ilar to the Sam khyan idea o f the ego (ahamkara) and also identifies the colours red, white and black w ith fire, w ater and earth, rem i­ niscent o f the later classification o f m atter (prakrti) into three qualities

(guna).14 The enum eration o f categories is also found in other U panisads,
n otably the Katha and Svetasvatara Upanisads. Presystem atic listings o f elements o f experience and w o rld are found in the Mahabharata,

2 33

17 D iscrim in ation allow s conscious­ ness to distinguish the self from what is not the self. Prakrti. wind. water.K A R I K A S W hile these P roto -Sam k h ya speculations can be located in early texts. w ith w hich it appears to be entangled. T his em pirical self.15 which are categories enumerated in latet Sam khya literature. in the Sam khya system the dualism is betw een the self {purusa) and matter w hich embraces w hat in traditional western ph iloso ph y has been called ‘ m ind5. F o r exam ple. com prising earth. Th ese qualities are ve ry im p o r­ tant in H indu thought and later becom e the basis fo r a num ber o f associa­ tions and classifications. w h ich includes the w estern idea o f the ‘m ind5. is due to the evolution o f m atter from a prim ordial state. the silent witness behind the em bodied subject o f first-person predicates. a system atic p h ilosop h y does not emerge until quite late. F o r example the top three classes are associated 234 . th rough a series o f stages or lev­ els in w hich different categories appear. W hereas in w e st­ ern philosophical dualism there is distinction m ade between the mind and the body. This text posits a radical dualism between the self or pure consciousness (purusa) and matter (prakrti). w hich is a sum m ary o f topics taught w ithin an ongoing Sam khya tradition.16 Liberation (kaivalya) is the discrim inative know ledge that pure consciousness is eternally distinct fro m prim ordial matter. evolves or transform s from an unm anifested state into a m anifested state. fire. o f passion or energy (rajas) and o f darkness or inertia (tamas). b y three q u ali­ ties (guna). the Samkhya Karikas (350 -4 50 c e ) . the true self is beyond. and so to perceive that the self was never actually bound to matter. This evolution or transform ation (parinama) is governed. nam ely the qualities o f light (sattva). The subject o f first-person predicates is w ithin the realm o f prakrti. ‘ that-ness5) com prise the universe o f experience. ether. S A M K H Y A OF T H E S A M K H Y A . but is not itself the true subject. the realization o f w h ich results in the ces­ sation o f suffering and reincarnation. there is on ly a p roxim ity betw een them. These categories. T h is self is transcendent. intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara). the Gita describes K rsn as nature as eight fold. a w ider concept than the w estern category ‘m atter5. The scheme which becom es identified w ith the philosophical school o f Sam khya is articu­ lated b y Isvarakrsna in his ‘Verses on S am kh ya5. mind (manas). or tattvas (liter­ ally.An introduction to Hinduism particularly in the section known as the Moksadharma and in the Bhagavad Gita. the self o f ‘ I 5 statements. or kept in balance.

adopts the Sam khyan dualistic m etaphysics and frames liberation w ithin these boundaries. though w ith som e differences. it is o n ly the em pirical self under the sw ay o f the gunas which does this. the five senses and their objects. What is interesting about the Sam khya enum eration o f the principles o f experience into tw en ty-five categories is that the structure refers both to individual p sy ch o -p h y sio lo g y and to cosm ological categories. ego and mind are sub­ sumed under the general category o f ‘ consciousness’ (citta) and. y o ga is concerned w ith the trans­ form ation o f consciousness and the m apping o f various inner states o f consciousness. w hich was described in chap­ ter 2. and w hich can be the focus o f m editation. establishing the existence o f the self and enum erating existents in the w orld . whereas the yo ga darsana adm its o f the idea o f G o d or the L o rd (Isvara) as a special kind o f self (purusa) w h ich has never been entangled in prakrti. from w hich emerges the mind (manas). These theistic tendencies are developed in the later tradition and the sixteenth-century theologian Vijnanabhiksu. as are categories o f food into ‘c o o l’ (sattva). argues that the idea o f a L o rd is not irreconcilable w ith the earlier Sam khya view. 8). ‘ hot’ (rajas) and ‘ dulling’ (tamas). the five organs o f action or m otor functioning. V ijnanabhiksu represents a tendency to synthesize the view s o f Sam khya y o g a and Vedanta. Patanjali’s yoga system . SAMKHYA AND YOGA Sam khya develops in a context in w hich renunciation and the practice o f yo ga are com m on. Isvarakrsna’s general scheme is assumed b y Patanjali. F ro m buddhi the sense o f ‘ I ’ or ego (ahamkara) develops. Sam khya is also an atheistic system . both p h ysio lo gi­ cal functions and the constituents o f the physical w o rld emerge from the sense o f ego. w hile ackn ow ledging that the system does not need it. five subtle. also called ‘the great one’ (mahat). T h rou gh his com mentaries he attempts to reconcile the pluralism and atheism o f Sam khya w ith the m onism o f 235 . and five gross elements (see fig. whereas Sam khya is concerned w ith ontology. W hile the self (j)urusa) appears to be entangled in matter and appears to transm igrate in a subtle body. The evolu ­ tion o f matter is both a cosm ic and an individual process. The first transform ation from matter is translated as the ‘ intellect’ or ‘ higher m ind’ (buddhi)./1mil Htheology and philosophy with the gunas. w hile also draw ing on the w ider popular tra­ ditions o f the E pics and Puranas. and refers to both an individual’s psych ological functioning and to a higher level in a hierarchical cosm ology. Buddhi.

These are the Purva M im am sa. w hich represent tw o distinct interpretations o f M im am sa. The innumerable selves of Sam khya which are on tologically distinct from each other and I rom matter (prakrti) are never­ theless related to the absolute (brahman) and share in its being. The Vedanta tradition is. It is significant that even the later school is referred to as M im am sa.18 M imamsa T he U panisads are referred to as the Vedanta. changeless. though the K um arila school is the m ost im portant representative o f the tradition. though the origins o f M im am sa m ust also be sought in the auxiliary sciences (Vedariga) particularly the K alp a Sutras. W hile the form er is concerned w ith correct action in accordance w ith dharma. ‘Vedanta’ is taken to be Indian p h iloso p h y par excellence. purified o f entanglement in matter. a term w hich em pha­ sizes that w e are dealing w ith an exegetical tradition o f com m entary and sub-com m entary upon sacred texts. the latter is concerned w ith correct know ledge (jnana) o f brahman. as sparks share in the being o f fire or a son is related to his father. I shall here refer to Purva M im am sa sim ply as ‘M im am sa’ and U ttara M im am sa as ‘Vedanta’. matter and absolute. through the creative reading o f texts and com mentaries. a term w hich is also used fo r the theological tradition developing from them. at a popular level in the West. 200 b c e ) w ith its com m entary. m ost notably b y Prabhakara and K um arila Bhatta (seventh century c e ) . as Francis C lo o n e y has show n. the Bhasya b y Sabara (second-fourth centuries c e ) . he tries to establish. Sahara’s com ­ m entary in turn has sub-com m entaries w ritten on it. This im m ensely rich tradition is so influential that.19 The M im am sa traces its origin to the Purva Mimamsa Sutra o f Jaim ini (c.20 Indeed the tradition is split into the Prabhakara and Kum arila branches w hich differ over the concept o f the effects o f ritual action (apurva) and the nature o f error. the ‘ end o f the Veda’. the exegetical continuity between them .21 The enterprise upon w hich Jaim ini is em barked in his text is stated in 236 .An introduction to Hinduism som e form s o f Vedanta. yet is also the efficient and material cause o f the universe. sometimes sim ply called Vedanta. however. divided into tw o main developm ents w hich are both referred to as schools o f exegesis or en quiry (mimamsa). that brahman is transcendent. A t liberation these selves rest in their consciousness. but w ou ld w ish to stress. and the U ttara M im am sa. pure consciousness. sometimes sim ply called M im am sa. W hile acknow ledging the independence o f souls. F o r the purposes o f clarity.

can be traced to the Veda. is action fo r its ow n sake. specifically sacri­ fice. Each part o f a ritual. unlike karma. Apurva is the force postulated w hich accounts fo r h ow the result o f a sac­ rifice can fo llo w its perform ance. Indeed there is even a sense in the M im am sa that ritual action is to be done. Dharma. w hich excludes certain classes. because it is enjoined in vedic revelation. H um an desires and purposes are really irrelevant to the perform ance o f vedic ritual. the correct perform ance o f sacrifice produces a transcendent pow er. w om en and the deform ed. creates its ow n apurva w hich accumulates until the ritual sequence is com ­ pleted.22 though this exclusion in itself tells us som ething about the ‘ exclusive’ nature o f vedic brahm anical society. The early literature o f the M im am sa is interested exclusively in dharma and the interpretation o f vedic texts. The ritual perform er is not defined b y changing personal qualities or know ledge o f ritual procedures. Because o f the emphasis on interpre­ tation in order to establish correct meanings. Sacrifice. not because it produces rewards in heaven. hum an rew ard is secondary. Rather. nam ely low er castes. H ow ever. H eaven rather than liberation (moksa) is the result o f sacrifice. are forbidden from participating in the sacrifice. Ritual action. the Sudra is sim ply not included w ithin the structures o f vedic ritual prescribed b y the texts. according to this view. but because it is a vedic injunction (vidhi). tracing action back to texts and estab­ lishing the relevance o f texts in ritual. there is w hat C lo o n e y calls a ‘decentering’ o f the human. even though there m ay be a tem poral gap between the action and its result. apurva is accum ulated on ly through ritual action during the present lifetim e fo r a post-m ortem reward. the results o f w hich w ill be experienced b y the sacrificial patron (yajamana) in heaven. according to the Veda. called apurva. the order o f the universe. the M im am sa developed a 2 37 . It is fo r this reason that certain classes o f people. since even a Sudra can acquire this. particularly the rew ard o f heaven (svarga) after death. the ritual perform er is defined b y his suitability. is revealed in the Veda and the investigation into it show s that the Veda is prim arily a series o f injunctions (vidhi) about ritual action. and any future. and the M im am sa is rational reflection on its purposes./ Innlu theology and philosophy the opening verse: ‘ N o w is the investigation into dharma* (athdto dharma-jijnasa). w hich produces the result o f the sacrifice. w hich is a store o f action built up over long periods producing results in successive lifetim es. A ccordin g to Jaim ini. The theory o f apurva bears some resem blance to the theory o f karma. once com pleted.

w hich sum m arize the teachings o f the Veda and U panisads. according to some scholars. Through the analysis o f sentences they try to show how the syntactic unity o f a sen­ tence occurs through sentence contiguity. and their sub-categories. on to lo gy and argument. action (karm a). accepting the reality o f the m any and rejecting any form o f idealism . the term ‘Vedanta’ refers to the U panisads and their teachings as w ell as to the traditions inspired b y them. A s has been noted. containing w ithin it a w ide variety o f theo­ logical and philosophical positions. w hich maintains the prim acy o f consciousness. exerting enorm ous influence on all religious traditions and becom ing the central id eology o f the H indu Renaissance in the nineteenth century.24 There are also strong continuities w ith the Vaisnava tradition and it can be argued that Vedanta is essentially a Vaisnava theological articulation. w h ich fo llo w from them. w hile there are continuities in Vedanta stretching back to the Upanisads. It has becom e the philosophical paradigm o f H induism p a r excellence. Yet. Vedanta The m ost influential school o f theology in India has been the Vedanta. also called the Vedanta Sutra and Uttara 238 . the source text o f the U ttara M im am sa or Vedanta is Badarayana’s B rahm a Sutra.An introduction to Hinduism theory o f language which is close to that of i he ( iram m arians. The am biguity over assigning the terms ‘ th eology’ or ‘p h iloso p h y’ to Vedanta stems from its clearly p h ilo ­ sophical interests in epistem ology. Indeed even Sankara. intended fo r m em oriza­ tion. and non-existence (iabhava). These m ethods establish the reality o f the objects o f know ledge. C o n tem porary scholarly understandings o f Vedanta tend to locate it w ithin a theological system o f com m entary w hich stresses the continuities w ith the earlier tradition o f M im am sa. nam ely su b ­ stance (d ra v y a ).23 The M im am sa concern with language is accom panied by a concern w ith know ledge. The M im am sa is realist and pluralist. the Vedanta is im m ensely rich. W hile Jaim in i’s P u rva M im am sa Sutra is the foundation text o f the Pura M im am sa. consistency and expectancy of the reader. A t the head o f these traditions are Sutras. m ay have been a Vaisnava. w h o is tradition­ ally regarded as a Saiva. yet also its exegetical nature w hich is regarded as a ‘theological’ enterprise. qu ality (guna). w hich recapitulate those o f the Vaisesika school. The M im am sa accepts all six means o f know ledge (pram ana) as valid. such as Y ogacara Buddhism .

w hich is p rob ab ly true as there w ou ld be no ideological rea­ son fo r locating his birthplace there. the Upanisads and the G ita . a small v il­ lage in Kerala. A dvaita Vedanta A dvaita Vedanta is the m ost fam ous Indian ph ilosoph y and is often. indeed. These tw o texts articulate the tw o m ajor realms o f inter­ est w ithin H indu traditions. it is not a royal centre or place o f religious significance (other than that it is Sankara’s birthplace). A num ber o f schools develop w ithin the Vedanta tradition.form s the ‘triple basis’ o f Vedanta com mentarial tradition. maintains the reality o f the one over that o f the many. the concern o f the renouncer seeking liberation.25 The term advaita means ‘N o n -D u a l’ and refers to the tradition’s absolute m onism w hich. written b y his follow ers.I Inuln theology and philosophy M imamsa Sutra. is Sankara or Sankaracarya. whereas the M im am sa Sutra is an investigation into dh arm a. There are a num ber o f traditional biographies. These texts agree that he was born in Kaladi. The m ost im portant Vedanta traditions are A dvaita (‘ N o n -D u alist’) Vedanta. Visistadvaita (‘ Q ualified N o n D ualist’) Vedanta and D vaita (‘D ualist’) Vedanta. This group o f texts the B rahm a Sutra. H is father died w hen he was yo u ng and he was brought up b y his mother. O ther texts w ere also the subject o f exegetical com mentary. the Brahm a Sutra is an investigation into brahm an. Yet. put simply. This text was com posed around the same time as Jaim in i’s text (c. the realm o f dh arm a. it begins in a similar fashion: ‘ N o w is the investigation into the absolute’ (athato brahm a-jijnasa). w hose founders and chief exponents w rite com m entaries on the B rahm a Sutra. The m ost fam ous A dvaita thinker. taken to be the o n ly representative o f vedantic thought. the Sankaravijayas. 2 0 0 b c e ) and. m ost notably the early Upanisads and the B h a g a v a d G ita. Indeed. and the m ost fam ous Indian philosopher ever to have lived. thereby establishing an independent school (sam pradaya) o f interpreta­ tion. and the realm o f brah m an . SANKARA The dates o f Sankara cannot be firm ly established but some scholars date him between 788 and 820 c e . the tw o texts refer to each other’s authors. 239 . H e certainly cannot have lived before the middle o f the seventh century as he refers to the M im am saka theologian K um arila and the Buddhist D harm akirti w h o can be dated to that century. m is­ takenly. the concern o f the Brahman householder.

N o t on ly did Sankara com pose com m entaries. about w hich.An introduction to Hinduism A s a young N am bu dri Brahm an boy of about eight. H e died aged th irty-tw o in the H im alayas. There is a sto ry that M andana’s w ife. he was w o efu lly ignorant. Sankara is said to have vow ed to becom e a renouncer but his m other w ould not let him. including the M im am saka M andanam isra w h o converted to Advaita. Bharati. So Sankara entered into the b o d y o f a king fo r a short period to experience the art o f love and returned to defeat Bharati in debate. A lth ou gh m any philosophical texts and devotional hym ns are attrib­ uted to Sankara. then travelled north to Varanasi. three others are positively accepted as being o f his authorship: the com ­ mentaries on the B rhad aran yaka and Taittiriya Upanisads and the inde­ pendent w o rk . and Kanchi as a possible fifth. Gaudapada is Sankara's gu ru s guru w h om Sankara calls his suprem e teacher (param aguru). w ith fo u r centres at Srrigeri. Sankara left hom e and found a guru. H ere he taught and gathered disciples. where he com posed his m ajor w o rk s. A part from the theological co m ­ mentaries. scholars are agreed that b y ‘Sankara5 w e mean the author o f the com m entary (bhasya) on the Brahm a Sutra. Th ere is a sto ry that one day whilst bathing in a river a crocodile grabbed his leg. G audapada was in flu ­ enced b y Buddhism and his K arikas are even quoted b y the Buddhist philosopher Bhavaviveka. so his m other agreed. G ovin da. the . the D asanam is. w h om he eventually left. challenged Sankara to a debate about the art o f love. Sankara is attributed b y the A dvaita and Sri V id ya traditions w ith 240 the authorship of a fam ous hym n to the G odd ess. Badrinath and Puri. A p art from this text. upon w h ich the crocodile let him go. H e returned to Varanasi and continued to teach and debate w ith other thinkers. the ‘Thousand Teachings5 (U padesasahan). B oth she and her husband then became A dvaitins. being a renouncer. D w ark a. though there is not universal agreement on this. G enerally. but also established a m onastic order.1(> H e p ro b ab ly also w rote the com m entary on G audapada’s K a rik a to the M an du k ya U panisad and the com m entary on the B h a g a v a d G ita . the A dvaita tradition is ve ry opposed to Buddhism and Sankara is vehem ent in his attack on B uddhist ‘ heresy5w hich rejects the Veda. however. H e became a renouncer but prom ised his m other that he w o u ld be w ith her during her last days and perform her funeral rites. H e w ent on a pilgrim age to the source o f the G anges and stayed at Badrinath fo r fo u r years. b y the N arm ada river. The only hope was to take renunciation there and then. w hich he did. H e shouted out and his mother came to the river bank.

cannot be identified. or sees a snake in the corner o f a house. o ntologically identical w ith the absolute (brahm an). as Bharati has pointed out. and nor can their respective attributes./ lindu theology and philosophy Saundaryalahari. And vice-versa [it is wrong to] superimpose the subject and its attributes on the object. whose respective spheres are the notion of the ‘yo u ’ and the ‘I ’. A ll know ledge is distorted b y superim position or projection. 241 . and it is certainly possible for a H indu the­ ologian to have com posed both erudite com m entaries and a devotional lit­ erature. In order to realize the truth o f the identity o f the self w ith the absolute. and which are opposed to each other as much as darkness and light. w hich prevents us from seeing our true nature as the self’s (atm ans) pure subjectivity. Superim position o f the self on w hat is not the self.27 san kara ’s t h e o l o g y In his com mentaries Sankara develops a th eology in w hich he tries to establish that spiritual ignorance (a v id y a ) or illusion (maya) is caused b y the superim position (adhyasa) o f w hat is not the self onto the self. Sankara’s enterprise is to show how his ad va ita interpretation o f sacred scriptures is correct. is the natural propensity o f ignorant consciousness. This is the withdraw al or disso lv­ ing o f projection. true being from objects. Hence it follows that it is wrong to superimpose upon the subject. as w hen a man w alking on a beach sees silver coins but then discovers that they are shells.28 This opening passage sums up a central point o f Sankara’s thought and gives a flavour o f his terse com m entarial style. a person must develop discrim ination. and w hat is not the self on the self. whose nature is awareness (cit) and which has for its sphere the notion of ‘ P. It is a method o f reading the texts and so gaining know ledge o f revelation’s truth: the process is one o f hearing (sravana). and know ledge ( v id y a jn a n a ) from ignorance (avidya). but then. Sankara s authorship of some of this text is accepted by its translator N orm an B row n . Such know ledge is liberation (moksa). upon inspection. Sankara opens his com ­ m entary on the B rahm a Sutra w ith the follow ing: It is a matter of fact that the object and subject. D iscrim ination allow s fo r a person to distinguish the self from w hat is not the self. finds it to be a rope. the object and its attributes whose sphere is the notion of the ‘not-I’. The rem oval o f superim position is the rem oval o f ignorance and the realization o f the self (atman) as the w it­ nessing subject identical w ith brahm an.

nam ely: ‘ I am the absolute’ (aham brahmasmi)\ ‘ this self is the absolute’ (ayam atm a brah m a). There is no reference in his w o rk s to any personal religious experience nor to the experience o f the ancient sages. and ‘yo u are that’ (tattvamasi). Sankara. that is ritual action. The Veda. fo r liberation is not a future state or goal w hich can be achieved. While the idea o f m ystical experience (anubhava). but in its tem poral m ode as the L o rd it has attributes (saguna). This liberating know ledge is referred to in the ‘ great sayings’ (m ahavakya) o f the Upanisads. This is not like the heaven o f the M im am sakas. which has been stressed in recent times in the West. The M im am sa maintains that sections about action. is beyond all predicates and qualities (nirguna). N o action can discrim inate the self from w hat is not the self. is im portant for Sankara as the goal to which rev­ elation leads.29 The sacred scriptures can be divided into sections dealing w ith action (ka rm aka n d a) and sections about know ledge (jn a n a k an da). on the other hand. LA T E R ADVAITA A fte r Sankara there are a num ber o f im portant A dvaita theologians w ho com posed texts in the com mentarial tradition.A n introduction to I Zimin ism thinking (m an an a) and reflecting or meditating (niclhiclhyasana). in its timeless essence as identical w ith the self. fo r liberation is the Veda’s central message. it can on ly be w oken up to. are o f prim ary im portance because injunctions to perform dharm a are the cen­ tral purpose o f the Veda. B rah m a n . maintains that the know ledge sections are o f greater im portance. all distinctions must be illusory. and so can be approached through devotion as an object o f consciousness. To realize the existential force o f these claims is to be liberated and to distinguish between pure being and w o rld ly phenomena. o n ly know ledge can achieve this. Sankara does make concessions to the idea o f devotion (bhakti) to a personal L o rd (Isvara) as a lo w er level o f know ledge. and o n ly know ledge leads to liberation. w hich is to retain a vestige o f ign o ­ rance w hich must finally be transcended. ‘ everything is indeed the absolute’ (sarvam khalu idam b rah m a). is not thought to be o f hum an authorship so personal experience is here irrelevant. If reality is one. as silver is suddenly seen to be shell. H avin g said this. he is p rim arily concerned with the correct interpretation o f scripture and the refutation o f what he regards as false views. To see the absolute as the L o rd is to maintain a distinction between self and absolute. w o rk in g out theological 242 . o f course.

com ­ poses a com m entary. and Sri H arsa (c. Ram anuja (see pp.30 Visistadvaita Vedanta W ith the developm ent o f theism in the great tradition o f Vaisnavism . Sankara had maintained that in reading a sacred text there are tw o levels o f truth in operation. the careful reading o f scripture in order to arrive at an understanding of G o d and his relation to the plural w orld . L ik e Sankara and the M im am sakas. M andanamisra. and goes against the scriptures. Ram anuja is concerned w ith exege­ sis. This system o f argu­ mentation is essentially the same as that o f the Buddhist philosopher N agarju n a. Ram anuja rejects this distinc­ tion. and responding to opponents in other schools. 13 6 -7 ). expressing him self forcefu lly and asserting that the A dvaita position is against reason. The A dvaitins. mentioned above. on the B rahm a Sutra. the other low er level representing brahm an as a personal L o rd . to refute the m onism o f Sankara. it is not m ethodologically sound to divide up scripture in ¿43 . one con ­ cerned with the higher truth o f the u nity o f b rah m an . arguing that all passages o f sacred scripture must be taken as equal w ith each other. The great theologian and hierarch o f the Sri Vaisnava com m unity./ Undu theology and philosophy and philosophical problem s incipient in earlier Advaita texts. the Vedanta Sam graha . against the firm understanding o f the meaning o f language. T hrough this method o f argum ent he brings out the unde­ sirable consequences o f his opponents’ positions. Vacaspatim isra (tenth century) w rote com mentaries on A dvaita texts as w ell as on other darsanas.31 In these w o rk s he argues vehem ently against Sankara’s m onistic reading o f sacred scripture. H e also com poses a brief independent w o rk . and a com m en­ tary on the G ita . must be plagued b y the im pressions o f beginningless sin (papa)\32 Ram anuja’s interpretation o f Vedanta is called ‘ Q ualified N o n D ualism ’ (visistadvaita) and articulates a form o f Vaisnava th eology w hich came from Ram anuja’s grand-teacher N atham uni to his ow n teacher Yam una: a th eology w hich draw s upon the w ide textual resources o f the Epics. is an older contem porary o f Sankara w ho is a M lmamsa theologian w ho converted to A dvaita. 11 5 0 c e ) developed a form o f reductio a d absurdum argum ent to show the inherent contradictions in all propositions about the w o rld (particularly N y a y a propositions). Puranas and even Pancaratra literature. the m onistic reading o f sacred scripture is resisted. to hold such groundless opinions. H e m ay or m ay not be the same as the A dvaitin Suresvara. the S ri B hasya.

The individual self (jiva) is distinct from G o d yet participates in G o d w h o is its essence and inner controller (antaryam in) and w ithout w h om it w ou ld not exist. or G o d . affection and parental love. Ram anuja agrees that brahm an is the one perfect reality w hich in itself is unchanging. This is not the 244 .34 A deep understanding o f the L o rd ’s nature is the experience o f liberation from the beginningless cycle o f reincarnation. Rather.An introduction to Hinduism this way. infinity. The L o rd also has beauty (saundarya) in both his essence and in his w o rld ly incarnations. G o d fo r Ram anuja has tw o aspects or sides. The essence o f G o d has five attributes . the devotee can understand the brahm an to be the supreme Person. The universe o f sentient and insentient matter as the b o d y o f G o d is there­ fore not illusory fo r Ram anuja. as the essence o f the universe and the inner soul o f all finite souls.w hile the accessibility o f G o d is show n in the modes o f m ercy and love. w h o is yet also a personal being. and he rejects the idea that the L o rd as a personal being is a lo w er level o f truth than the im personal absolute. the finite self and the w o rld . the brah m an . the m any being the one’s m anifold mode o f expression. and the relations betw een the absolute. O ne is the suprem e aspect o f G o d in his inner nature or essence (. The relationship betw een G o d and the self and the w o rld is expressed in a fam ous analogy that the universe. A s the self is related to the body. the other is his outer nature or accessibility (saulabhya). com prising conscious selves (at) and unconscious matter (< acit).a theology w ith western parallels in G re g o ry Palam as’ distinction between G o d ’s essence and his energy. then w e see. The relationship between the self and G o d is one o f insep­ arability. know ledge (jn a n a ). A p art from the problem o f h ow to interpret scripture. If w e reject this tw o-levels-of-truth theory with regard to sacred texts. yet are distinct from . him. so the L o rd is related to the self and w orld . Th rou gh apprehending the glo ry o f the L o rd in the w orld .o f truth (satya). w hile w h o lly depending on.svarupa). he rejects San karas idea that the w o rld o f m anifold experience is illusion (m aya) caused through ignorance. jo y and p u rity . but expresses his p o w er and is called the realm o f glory (v ib h u ti). that scripture testifies to a supreme soul. argues Ram anuja. H ow ever. generosity. the main theo­ logical concerns o f Ram anuja are the nature o f the absolute. is the L o rd ’s body.33 W ith Sankara. the self is w h o lly dependent upon G o d fo r its being. B oth the self and the w orld participate in G o d ’s existence. the avataras. H um ans com e into contact w ith G o d ’s nature through the accessibility o f his love . both the one and the m any are real.

y et nor can it be brah m an . that o f dualism (dvaita). where his guru. Vedantadesika. called the E k sn ti Vaisnavas. as w ell as an independent treatise sum m arizing the teachings of the B rahm a Sutra. A cyu ta Preksa. w ere never bound. w hile yet others. A num ber o f digests have also been com posed sum m a­ rizing the tenets o f the Visistadvaita theology. and entered a Vaisnava order o f a m onastic renouncer tradition. some have been liberated. Jain s and A dvaitins along the w ay. the main theologian o f the southern school (Tenkalai). disputing w ith Buddhists.36 In these w ritings he establishes a new interpretation o f Vedanta. The Visistadvaita tradition continued after Ram anuja’s death w ith sig­ nificant exegetes such as Pillan w h o w rote a com m entary on the Tam il Veda. the m agnificent bird Garuda. w h o w rote com mentaries on a num ber o f U panisads. Ignorance. b y definition w ithout ignorance. such as V isn u ’s mount. There is even a sto ry that he strongly advised a south Indian king to have thousands o f Ja in heretics impaled on stakes! M adhva eventually became the hierarch o f his monastic com m unity and 245 . This support cannot be the self. and Lokacarya Pillai. F o r Ram anuja there is real separation o f a distinct self from the Lo rd until such a time as that self is liberated. Indeed such a notion is nonsensical for Ram anuja. Some selves are still going through the cycle o f reincarnation. beings are still individuated b y their ve ry natures and not because o f extrinsic factors. M adhva w ent on a tour o f south India w ith his preceptor and then on a pilgrim age to the source o f the G anges in the north. needs to have a basis or rest on a support. the main theologian o f the northern school (the Vatakalai).35 Ram anuja here astutely recognizes the A dvaita problem concerning the nature o f ignorance and to w h o m it belongs. D vaita Vedanta Y et another developm ent in the Vedanta exegetical tradition came in the thirteenth century w ith the south Indian Vaisnava theologian M ad hva. became a renouncer as a you ng man. w as very im pressed b y M adhva’s skill in interpreting the sacred scriptures. the B h a g a v a d G it a . the B rahm a Sutra. he says. the A n u v y a k h y a n a . Indeed. fo r the idea o f the self is the product o f ignorance./ Inula theology and philosophy removal o f ignorance in the A dvaita sense of realizing the self’s identity with the absolute. not the rem oval o f ignorance. M adhva w as born near the South Kanarese village o f U d ipi. This liberation is the rem oval o f past karma. and the Bhagavata P u ra n a . even once karm a is rem oved. for brahm an is self-lum inous consciousness.

w hich is a participation in the bliss o f the L o rd . Each phenom enon in the universe is uniquely itself. A s the b o d y depends upon the self. the damned in hell. attained through devotion (bhakti) to an icon and the L o rd ’s grace. there are never­ theless five categories o f difference (bheda): between the L o rd and the self (jivatm an)\ between innum erable selves. those not yet liberated. nothing can exist outside o f the L o r d s w ill. Each thing in the universe is itself and unique and cannot be reduced to som ething else (an idea w hich is not dissim ilar to W ittgensteins contention that a thing is w hat it is and not another thing). yet he pervades the self as its inner witness and pervades matter as the inner controller. consciousness and bliss (. These selves are distin­ guished into three broad categories: those w h o are liberated such as gods and sages. A Saiva under­ standing o f Vedanta does develop in the thirteenth century w ith the teach­ ings o f Sri K antha’s Sivadvaita. M adhva insists on their com plete dis­ tinction. Yet w hile there are these distinctions and phenom ena exist inde­ pendently o f each other. the Vedanta tradition is a discourse broadly w ithin the parameters o f Vaisnavism . which continues to this day. but. between the self and matter. M adhva maintains that the correct interpretation o f sacred scripture is dualistic: that scripture maintains an eternal distinction between the individual self and the Lord.37 In com plete contrast to the advaita o f Sankara. W hile each thing is unique. so all beings and matter depend upon the L o rd w h o is their support. The L o rd in his essence is unknow able.saccidananda). including selves w hich are eternally transmigrant. D ifference or bh eda is a cornerstone o f his theology and scrip­ tural interpretation. between the L o rd and matter (p ra k rti).38 Saiva theology A lth ou gh Sankara is reputed to have been a Saiva. apart from this. and those incapable o f liberation. Saiva th eology 246 . the purer selves being higher than the im pure. U d ipi. though capable o f liberation. and installed there a fam ous icon o f K rsn a. and betw een phenom ena w ithin matter. made unique b y the p o w er o f particularity (visesa). H e established a m onastic centre at his birth place.An introduction to Hinduism established a reputation with his com m entary on the llrahma Sutra. There is a graded hierarchy o f selves w hich exist at different levels o f the hierarchical co s­ m os. and various classes o f dem ons. W hereas the A dvaita tradition emphasizes the non-difference (abheda) betw een the self and the absolute. Liberation is the self’s enjoym ent o f its innate being.

there is a dualistic Saiva Siddhanta w hich developed in the north and then in the south w here it incorporated Tamil b h ak ti. is real and the m any is false. O n the one hand is a pure m onism w hich holds that the one. w hereas the monists proclaim self. W ith the Pratyabhijna tradition. The theologians o f the m onistic school. In this view there can be no distinctions in ultimate reality and so no im purity: the self has to w ake up to the realization o f its identity w ith pure consciousness. but is ultim ately equal w ith him (Sivatulya). 900-50). 9 25 -75 ). even if on ly im plicit. that the self is distinct from Siva. because o f the ontological identity o f consciousness and its object.argued that the self. though this tradition also existed in the south. The ontological status o f the self became the central focus o f the­ ological debate dualists such as Sad yojoti (eighth century c e ). show ing that they are still w ithin the sphere o f orthodox dis­ course and disputation. it remains here to sum m arize the essential points o f Saiva theology. characterized b y con ­ sciousness. 9 7 5 -10 2 5 ) and Ksem araja (c. Bhojadeva (eleventh century) and A gh orasiva (twelfth century) arguing. 10 00 -50) .39 The developm ents of the Saiva traditions have been outlined (chapter 7). in their com mentaries on tantric texts such as the M rgendragam a and in independent treatises (most notably S ad y ojoti’s N aranaresvaraprakasa and B hojadeva’s Tattvaprakasa). Ksem araja says that. A bhinavagupta (c. Yet they are included in M adhava’s Sarvadarsana Sam graha. The dualists maintain that the L o rd (pati) is distinct from the soul (pas'u) and w orld (pas'a). called the Recognition school or P ratyabhijna ./ Inula theology and philosophy develops outside Vedanta. show ing that from a strictly vedic perspective they are on the edges o f orthodoxy.most notably Som ananda (c. there is nothing M7 . U tpala (c. and a m onistic school know n as K ashm ir Saivism . draw ing not so much on vedic resources as on its ow n Saiva revelation in the Tantras and Agam as. W hile all Saiva traditions have a theology. the tw o m ost significant developm ents fo r the h istory o f Indian theology are the dualistic and m onistic schools o f Saivism : the Saiva Siddhanta and K ashm ir Saivism or the Recognition school (Pratyabhijna). A s w e have seen. defined as pure consciousness. tw o conceptually distinct m etaphysi­ cal positions are maintained sim ultaneously. w o rld and L o rd to be essentially one reality: consciousness purified o f content. is identical w ith Siva w h o is the being w hose consciousness is total. It is significant that Saiva theologies are excluded from the orthodox (astika) list o f six darsanas.

C om m entaries and independent treatises w ithin the darsanas. and there has been keen interest in w estern m etaphysics w hich can be assimilated to A dvaita. M ehta. issues w ithin traditional H indu theology and ph ilosoph y have continued to be debated into the m odern period. Indian w o rld . continue to be com posed. A lth ou gh European phen om en ology and existen­ tialism have had a strong influence on the w o rk o f tw entieth-century Indian philosophers such as K .42 O ne o f In dia’s m ost erudite scholars to engage w ith western and Indian ph iloso p h y is the one-tim e 248 . and ‘ English-educated’. outside the secular u niversity system . w hich has responded to O rientalism and attempted to show the equality (or even superiority) o f Indian thought to western.the period during w hich the m ost influential theologians flourished . Gram m arian and N y a y a traditions are not sim ply the subjects o f scholarly over. and dialogue between western and Indian ph iloso ph y has occurred. analytical philosophy.40 The Pratyabhijna.41 Modern developments W hile the flow erin g o f H in du theology . also develops a theological aesthetics in w hich different aesthetic em otions (rasa) are seen as akin to religious em otions and the ultimate aesthetic experience o f tranquillity (santarasa) is identified w ith the religious or m ystical experience o f union w ith Siva. since colonialism the H indu system s have been exposed to outside influences.An introduction to Hinduism w hich is im pure (asuci). respec­ tively. Since the nineteenth century and the revitaliz­ ing w o rk o f Swam i Vivekananda. that the cosm os emanates from the one. the form s polluted b y the im purities o f action (. as taught in British and A m erican u niversi­ ties. particularly the w o rk o f A bhinavagupta. illusion (m ayiya-m a la) and egoity or individuality (anava-m ala) being at the b ot­ tom . L . A dvaita. The Sam khya. O n the other hand the Pratyabhijna maintains a cosm ological doctrine o f em anation. upon sacred scriptures and their com m entaries. the intellectual climate w ithin Indian university departments o f ph ilosoph y has been that o f A dvaita Vedanta. Bhattacharya and J . but are living intellectual tradi­ tions. This dialogue has m ainly confined itself to the Englishspeaking. A n oth er w a y o f saying this is that consciousness manifests itself through its vibration (spanda) as subjects and objects o f know ledge in a hierarchical sequence: the purer form s being at the ‘ to p ’ o f the hierarchy. C .karm a-m ala). A lth ou gh H indu th eology and ph ilosoph y continues in a fairly tradi­ tional w ay. has also had an im portant im pact.

/ htulu theology and philosophy president o f India. there is nevertheless a variety o f irreducible m etaphysical positions and a long his­ to ry o f rigorous philosophical debate. such as Eastern Religions a n d Western Thought .43 This approach ignores the H indu tradi­ tions o f region and village . A lth ou gh A dvaita Vedanta has becom e extrem ely popular as the p h ilosoph y o f H induism p a r excellence. the em phasizing o f H induism as a rational discourse w hich is also in touch w ith the ‘ spirit’ has been highly relevant and im portant in form ing con ­ tem porary H indu identity. The concern w ith on tol­ o g y has stemmed from reconciling the plu rality o f experience w ith the ‘ one’ absolute revealed b y revelation and experienced in yoga. It is to the form ation o f this contem porary sense o f identity and some o f its nationalistic expressions that w e turn next. 24 9 . H ow ever. and the relation between language and being. and partly due to the erosion o f these traditions in the pre-colonial and colonial periods. though n ow widened to incorporate traditional concerns o f w estern philosophy. the rhetoric o f liberation. There is no single orthodox H indu view w ith regard to theology. the language o f the gods (d e v a v a n i). The rigorous nature o f ph ilosoph i­ cal argument . but H indu the­ ological/philosophical traditions have shared a com m on term inology and concern about com m on issues.he seeks to reconcile western rationalism w ith H induism . and assum ptions about the nature o f know ledge . being perceived as sacred. The concern w ith language has stemmed partly from Sanskrit. The first concerns language. Sum m ary In this survey o f H indu theological and philosophical traditions w e have seen h ow w ide-ranging they are. This has been partly due to the rom antic construction o f India as ‘ m ystical’ . Tw o areas w hich have been im portant in Indian m etaphysics have been highlighted. presenting H induism as an essentially rationalistic and humanistic religious experience. These issues are still alive in H indu philosophical debate.w ithin the given param eters o f revelation. In his numerous books. the relation o f the one to the many.a grand survey o f w est­ ern and Indian ideas . and the second concerns ontology.the pragm atic H induism o f everyday ritual or relegates such religious expressions to an ‘irrational’ past. the nature o f revelation.has not been part o f the W est’s recent perception o f H induism . Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan.

began to respond to the British. presence. and particularly Christian. it is least representative o f H indu traditions which have been passed through the generations from pre-colonial days. are referred to as the ‘ H indu Renaissance: a religious and political m ovem ent w h ich is closely related to a burgeoning Indian nationalism . E ven though H indu revivalism is strongly inform ed b y a brahm anical culture.1 1 H induism and the m odern world The decline o f the M ughal em pire b y 1720 left a p o w er struggle in India. largely due to its use o f English as a medium o f com m unication. H indu traditions. 250 . These H indu reform s. its adop­ tion o f Christian elements and its ou tw ard-lookin g perspective. and has found expression m ore recently in H indu nationalist m ovem ents and political parties. to adopt rationalist elements from w ithin C hristianity. H induism as a global religion w ith a distinct identity has arisen since the nineteenth century. due in large part to the reform ers. This national­ ism eventually resulted in the ousting o f the B ritish and the establishing o f India as a secular state in 1948. w h ich resulted in British suprem acy fo llo w in g C live's defeat o f the N a w a b o f Bengal at the battle o f Plasey in 17 5 7 . w hich in the eighteenth century had been introverted and unresponsive to external events and ideas. w hose language is not English. H indu reform m ovem ents developed w hich attempted to restore the perceived greatness o f H in d u ism s ancient past. and to pay particular attention to social and ethical concerns. The H induism w hich they have prom oted is the kind w hich is best kn ow n in the West. instigated b y a num ber o f significant figures. B y the middle o f the nine­ teenth century B ritish p ow er was at its height. particularly R am M ohan R o y.

These traditions include the brahmanical system s o f theology and Sanskrit learning and popular or regional ritual and narrative system s. . .and he w as educated at the M uslim U n iversity at Patna. w here he studied A rab ic and Persian philosophical literature.the rejection of caste (or some elements of it). and set up educational establishments for training you ng Indian men to w o rk fo r the adm inistration under B ritish 251 . O ther reform ers. w h o fought for the rights o f the untouchable caste o f Tikkas.the construction of Hinduism as an ethical spirituality. equal. M an y o f the H indu reform ers w rote in English and attracted the interest o f the English-speaking w orld.18 3 3 ) came from a traditional Bengali Brahm an fam ily . such as N àràyan a G u ru in Kerala. he entered the em ploym ent o f the E ast India C o m p an y in Calcutta. w hich developed vast trading netw orks. The m ost significant figure in this awakening o f a new H indu awareness at the beginning o f the nineteenth century w as Ram M ohan R o y. in flu ­ ence engendered in R o y a strong dislike o f image w orship. The H indu Renaissance is characterized b y the follo w in g features: . H e also studied Sanskrit in Varanasi. This M uslim . regarded as idolatry. W hile H indu revivalism is o f vital im portance in the developm ent o f H induism as a w orld religion. centred in Bengal. and even studied H eb rew and G reek w ith a view to translating the B ible into emphasis on reason to establish the truth of the Veda. R am M ohan Roy Ram M ohan R o y ( 17 7 2 . to Christianity and Islam. com m unicated in M alayalam and so had a restricted audience. child-marriage and the practice of widow-burning (sati). and particularly Sufi. sometimes called the father o f m odern India. as w ell as English. . the influence o f these traditions o f Sanskrit learning and popular ritual upon it has been minim al. below the ethical spiri­ tuality o f the U panisads and the G ita.the rejection of icon worship. centred around local and regional temples./ Imdmsm and the modern world but Sanskrit and the Indian vernaculars.his father w as a Bengali Vaisnava. The grow th o f the British em pire in India w ou ld not have been possible w ithout the East India C om pany. the H indu renais­ sance has had a tendency to play dow n the differences between theological traditions and to relegate ritual to a ‘p o p u lar’ level. his m other a Sâkta . or superior. A fter his extensive education.

This G o d can be know n through reason and the observation o f the natural w o rld or cosm os. Indeed the ethical religion arrived at through reason w hich R o y advocates is stron gly reminiscent o f the eighteenth-century English D eists: G o d and his m oral laws can be known through reason and the observation o f nature. the Brahm o Samaj. Reason and ethics are central concepts fo r Roy. dedi­ cated to the reform o f H induism . especially Sufi. or ‘ suttee’ as the British called it. In a num ber o f letters and petitions presented to the H ouse o f C om m on s in Lon don . Because o f reason. R o y ’s central vision is to restore and p u rify H induism b y returning to the teachings o f the U panisads and the B rahm a Sutra. partly due to R o y ’s pressure. To further his ideas he founded a society. to devote him self full-time to religious and social reform . It is in the context o f these establishments that the seeds of a later nationalism and H indu revivalism are found. but who cannot be kn ow n in his essence w hich is ineffable. is a G o d o f nature w orshipped through reason. This he had witnessed as a yo u th w hen a sister-in-law was subjected to being burned alive in this w a y . the effect o f God. but left the com pany in 18 14 . imm utable being w h o is the creator o f the cosm os. the doctrine o f karm a and reincarnation should be rejected. and to abandon im m oral practices such as child-m arriage and w idow -b u rn in g (sati). the proliferation o f ritual system s. it is necessary. w hether she had volu ntarily agreed or not. w hich he sees as em bodying a timeless w isdom . The main philosophical influences on R o y com e from both East and West: from the Upanisads and the theology o f Sankara. a prac­ tice w hich was made illegal b y the British government in 18 29 . A ll religions agree about this and differ on ly in inessentials. fo r R o y. R o y vehem ently condem ned this practice in w hich the w id o w w ould often be tied dow n on the pyre. and from Unitarianism and D eism . thinks R oy. incident w hich left a deep im pression on the yo u n g man. having becom e wealthy. R o y therefore advocates a tolerant position . for them to give up icon w orsh ip.1 Th e essential belief o f R o y is that G o d is a transcendent. H e died in Bristol after contracting an illness w hilst on a visit to B ritain . he advocated the banning o f sati.often associated w ith H induism as a w h ole . G o d . In order to im prove the political as well as m oral standing o f H indus. R o y developed his ideas w hile em ployed b y the East India C om pany.An introduction to Hinduism rule. opposed to ‘ idol w o rsh ip ’ and the ethical degeneracy into which he thinks H induism had fallen. from Islam ic. but also because 2 52 .w hich maintains that all religions are essen­ tially one.

urban m iddle classes o f merchants and traders.3 A fter his death. p ro ­ fo u n d ly influenced b y C hristianity. signed b y R o y and seven associates. some o f w h ich w ere com posed b y R o y himself. like R o y. The m ajority sided w ith Sen. m ovem ent or society was m odelled on Christian reform movem ents and met regularly fo r religious services. but further splits in the m ovem ent weakened the p ow er o f its influence.w ou ld be the transform ation o f Indian society. Sen. leads to the discovery o f universal ethical codes. such as the doctrine o f atone­ ment and the trinity.2 This. should also be rejected as irrational. The Brahm o Samaj In order to prom ote his ideas o f restoring H induism to the rational. and Keshab C han dra Sen (1838-84). D urin g these services passages w o u ld be read from the U panisads. was against the all-pervasive tantric and puranic form s o f ritual and image w orsh ip. rather than revelation. Reason. The Brahm o Samaj held regular meetings in C alcutta and the Trust D eed o f the Brahm o Samaj. Th e yo u n g enthusiast Sen. the tw o leaders o f the society w h o continued R o y ’s message o f social reform were D ebendranath Tagore ( 18 17 . rational and ethical religion . because o f Sen a split occurred in the movement. it had little *53 . ethical religion it once was (as he perceived it). The adoption o f a purified. and his follow ers. states the purposes o f a building set aside fo r w orsh ip as being to provid e ‘ a place o f public meeting o f all sorts and descriptions o f people w ithou t dis­ tinction as shall behave and conduct themselves in an o rd erly and sober religious and devout m anner fo r the w orsh ip and adoration o f the Eternal Unsearchable and Im m utable B eing w h o is the A u th o r and P reserver o f the U n iverse’ . generally agreed. Tagore. abandoned the wearing o f the sacred thread. whereas dogmas lead to irrationality and unethical behaviour. This was too m uch fo r the m ore conservative members o f the society w h o follow ed Tagore in retain­ ing it. his younger.19 0 5 ) . W hile the Brahm o Samaj appealed to lower-class Brahm ans and the em erging. aggressively enthusiastic contem porary. ser­ mons delivered and hym ns sung. O n ly the im personal absolute o f the Upanisads should be the focus o f religious devotion. arguing fo r social equality even between Brahm an and Sudra.the essential qualities o f H induism according to R o y . the father o f the fam ous poet Rabindranath Tagore.f / /1mh<ism iiml the modern world o f reason the theology surrounding Jesu s. H ow ever. w hich he saw as idolatry. R o y founded a m ovem ent in 1 828 called the Brahm o Sam aj.

w hich is developed m uch further and m ore aggressively b y another society. is a representation and em bodim ent o f a higher power. did not really understand the deep devotion to deities o f the rural poor. Roy. the A ry a Samaj (the ‘N o b le ’ or ‘A ry a n ’ Society). founded b y D ayananda Sarasvati. Indeed. N evertheless. H e w andered as an itinerant h o ly man. eating the food w hich had been offered to the deity and so defiling it. H e did. w ith the B rahm o Samaj. im per­ 2 54 . w hich reveal the form less and om nipresent G o d w hich D ayananda believed in. om nipotent. having taken the personal name D ayananda and the name o f the renunciate order Sarasvati. reasoned D ayananda. D ayananda lost his faith in the Saiva religion o f image w orship during an all-night vigil.also thereby avoiding the marriage arrangements being made b y his parents. D ayananda advocated a return to a purer form o f vedic religion w hose focus is an eternal. did not allay D ayan an d a’s scepticism and he became a renouncer to seek the truth o f H induism beyond ‘ supersti­ tion ’ . w e have the beginnings o f a sense o f a H indu national identity. Seated w ith his father in a Saiva tem ple during the festival o f N a va ra tri. D ayananda Sarasvati and the Arya Samaj D ayananda Sarasvati (18 2 4 -8 3 ) was born in G u jarat to a Saiva Brahm an family. he saw mice clim bing over the temple icon. D ayananda then abandoned his quest fo r personal liberation and became a reform er and preacher. A t ten he w as initiated b y his father into a cult o f the Siva liriga. Virjananda Sarasvati. village level where ritual and devotion to deity icons is the main focus o f religion. the A ryjtSam aj. H e argued that the Veda is revelation and that H indu ‘ supersti­ tions’ should be abandoned along w ith reverence fo r other scriptures such as the Epics and Puranas. it surely w o u ld not allow such sacrilege. once consecrated. albeit o f a high ly ‘ deistic’ and abstract kind. intent upon the transform ation o f H induism . accept the teachings o f the D harm a Sastras. In 1875 he founded a society in Bom bay.An introduction to Hinduism appeal at a popular. that the icon in the temple. N o r did the ideas o f the Brahm o Samaj have much appeal to highly orthoprax Brahm ans w h ose main concern is the maintenance o f ritual purity. w h o predicted that he w ou ld restore H induism to its vedic glory. — L ik e R o y w ho influenced him. to prom ote his H indu reform ation. H is father’s explanations about the nature o f sym bolism . a highly educated intellectual. however. If the icon w ere a pow erful deity. on a per­ sonal religious quest to find truth. A t M athura he met an old blind guru. such as the ‘ Law s o f M an u’. H ow ever.

including m arriage from choice rather than b y arrangement and the eradication o f child-m arriage w hich w ou ld reduce the num ber o f w id ow s and so alleviate a large social problem . The teaching o f Sanskrit. political force against C hristian ity and Islam . and by reveri ng t he stories and doctrines o f the Epics and Puranas. he maintained. still in existence throughout India. good H indus. dh arm a. and lov^er classes w ou ld exert themselves to join the classes above them. quali­ fications and accom plishm ents. which H indus had moved away from by w orsh ippin g icons and incarna­ tions. medicine and trades. a claim w hich is still maintained b y m any H indus today. by going on pilgrim ages. called a niyoga m arriage. then. fo r com panionship as w ell as the rearing o f chil­ dren. more in line with Visistadvaita teachings than with A dvaita teachings: that liberation (m oksa) is not a m erging o f the soul into G o d . and its counter-offensive against attacks on H induism b y Christianity. H e wanted to return to the eternal law or sanatana dh arm a./ Innlnisni . but a freedom from suffering in w hich the soul retains its distinct identity. the sym bol o f India’s great past. The A ry a Samaj founded schools.ind the modern world sonal G od . H e also advocated the tem porary legal alliance o f w id o w s and w idow ers. m ore significant than his m etaphysics are his social teachings about caste. Were class to be determ ined b y personal pro clivity and merit. the gu ruku las. he reasoned. D ayananda does not condem n the caste system but reinterprets it to mean that class (varna) refers to individual differences in character. w hich attracted the m erchant classes w ho made up its m em bership. H is m etaphysics w ere basic. as w ell as overseas H indus in South A frica and Fiji. education. w hich prom ulgated the cause o f H indu unity and vedic or A ry a n culture. fo r through education. particularly education in grammar. Education. It was the reform ing aspects o f the A ry a Samaj. The other scriptures are later accretions w hich detract from the pu rity of the vedic message. the higher classes w ou ld maintain high standards fo r fear o f their children becom ing lower-class. H ow ever. is significant in this program m e. should be available to both sexes. H indus w^ould learn to be responsible. There is a strong link between language and national identity and in prom oting Sanskrit ¿55 . as w ell as the teaching o f H in di w hich D ayananda advocated as the national language. language and the reform ation o f H induism into an aggressive. Dayananda maintained. A ll these things are not found in the four Vedas.4 D ayananda advocated radical social reform s. D ayananda even claimed that all m odern scientific discoveries are p re­ view ed in the Veda.

and returned to C alcutta where she w ou ld join him once she had grow n up. the Mother. o f tolerance and accom m odation. B ack at the tem ple. H e became ecstatically devoted to K ali. and D ravidian. but intolerant o f other faiths and view s. in a way. the society has. rather. Ram akrishna’s love and devotion to K ali increased and he eventu­ ally lost outw ard sensations and perceived an inner vision o f the G oddess. H e was married in his hom e village to a five-year-old girl. w hich transform ed U ntouchables into tw ice-born H indus. occluded other elements and forces w ithin Indian society. the A ry a Samaj has not been open to pluralist understandings o f H induism . particularly Islam. stem ­ m ing in the m odern w o rld from the Bengali saint Ram akrishna and his devoted disciple and interpreter. People began to think that he was mad and his fam ily m ar­ ried him o ff in the hope that a fam ily life w o u ld eventually calm him dow n. H e was born to a Vaisnava Brahm an fam ily in Bengal and became a priest o f the K ali temple at D aksinesvar. the A ry a Samaj reconverted to H induism m any low -caste converts to Islam and C hristianity. H indu religions. D ayananda m oved the society’s headquarters to Lahore. Indeed. an aggressive H indu nationalism . W ith its success in the Punjab. n o w in Pakistan. Ram akrishna and Vivekananda Param aham sa Ram akrishna (1836 -86) was a H indu m ystic w h o declared the unity o f all religions. W hile adopting m any m odern elements. Christianity.iu d d h i). advocating. H ig h ly successful in the Punjab. in a cere­ m ony kn ow n as the ‘purification’ (. rejected h istory in order to return to a perceived past o f H in du purity. is also found. w eeping and pleading w ith her to reveal herself to him. and displayed great longing fo r her. while elevating D ayan and a’s vision o f H induism . another force w ithin H induism . The A ry a Samaj has been a p o w e rfu l voice in the developm ent o f H indu nationalist politics.An introduction to Hinduism and H indi the A ry a Samaj prom oted a certain view of India which. These visions became m ore frequent and his trance-like states grew longer in duration until it became im possible fo r him to carry out the daily ser­ 256 . based on a ‘return’ to the ancient Vedas and being critical o f the tradition w hich has developed since then. and after his death the m ovem ent split into a conservative branch and a progressive branch w h o w anted a ‘progressive education’ and the aban­ donm ent o f brahm anical dietary restrictions. W hile the influence o f the A ry a Samaj can be seen in contem porary Indian politics and cultural life. Vivekananda. notably Tamil. a few miles north o f Calcutta.

/ / n n l m . A ll religions are different paths to the O ne. as Radha is devoted. taking on the name Vivekananda. H e had a p rofoun d religious experience w ith Ram akrishna w hen the master put his feet upon N a re n ’s chest and he fell into a deep trance. H ere he achieved the state o f 257 . according to Ram akrishna. and practised the paths o f other religions. B y that time he had becom e transform ed through his religious practices and could not be a husband in a conventional sense. including C h ristian ity and Islam. The first was a learned Brahm an w om an. A s a renouncer he wandered the length and breadth o f India. D ifferent religions cannot express the totality o f this O ne. and experienced a vision o f Krsna. A m on g them was a yo u n g man. Sw am i Vivekananda (18 6 3 -19 0 2 ) is a figure o f great im portance in the developm ent o f a m odern H indu self-understanding and in form ulating the W est’s view o f H induism . including Jesu s C hrist. a tantric initiate w h o taught Ram akrishna to control energies w ithin his b o d y and to control passion. A t the age o f seventeen. he next realized the Vaisnava ideal o f love fo r G o d through devotion to K rsna. The second was a naked. Totapuri. but each manifests an aspect o f it. I I is nephew was appointed to carry on as functioning priest and Kainakrishna was left to his devotions. the eternal undivided being w hich is absolute know ledge and bliss. a m em ber o f the Brahm o Samaj. H e had visions o f other deities. Ram akrishna w orshipped his w ife as a m anifestation o f the M other and she served him in the temple until his death.5 D urin g his lifetim e Ram akrishna attracted a num ber o f middle-class intellectual H indus w h o w ou ld com e to hear and be w ith the saint in D aksinesvar. m editating fo r a time on a ro ck o ff Cape C o m o rin at the tip o f India. N arendranath (‘ N a re n ’ ) D atta. realized the goals o f these religions. w here a temple n ow iIhe modern world s n vices and priestly functions at the temple. stron gly influenced by w estern sci­ ence and rationalism . B oth K ali and brahm an are d iffer­ ent aspects o f the same reality. he concluded that all religions are true. Bhairavl. his wife walked the thirty miles to D aksinesvar to be w ith her husband. w h o taught Ram akrishna h ow to meditate and h ow to realize union w ith the absolute in the state o f n irvikalp a sam adhi. A fter this experience o f unity. B efore his w ife joined him. a high state o f concentra­ tion in w hich there is no awareness o f su bject-ob ject distinction. H aving practised and. tw o significant teachers came to Ram akrishna. H e abandoned his career in law to becom e a devoted disciple o f Ram akrishna and eventually became a w orld-renouncer. w andering sadhu.

a m onas­ tic order w hich differs from traditional H in du orders in prom oting educa­ tion and social reform . tech­ nological and scientific superiority o f the West. and in helping the sick. H ere he preached a doctrine o f the u n ity o f all religions and to l­ erance: that there should be recognition o f diversity and that there is value in diversity. The order disseminates Vivekananda’s vision o f H indu m odernism as N eo-V edanta: that there is an essential unity to H induism underlying the diversity o f its m any form s. the yo ga o f action or good w ork s. English-educated. H e was convinced o f the spiritual superiority o f the East. Vivekananda might be seen as the first effective proponent o f H induism as a w o rld religion. This dichotom y has tended to reinforce the image o f India as the W est’s ‘ other’. that India did not need m issionaries to convert its people to C hristianity. W hile this view o f H in duism tends to o ver­ ride the differences w ithin H indu traditions (let alone betw een w o rld reli­ gions). H is philosophy is the vedantic idea that the divine. nor churches. high schools and hospitals run b y the Ram akrishna M ission throughout India. middle classes. U p on returning to India in 1895 he founded the Ram akrishna M ission. perhaps.An introduction to Hinduism sam adhi which Ram akrishna had attained. H um an beings can achieve union with this innate divinity (as Ram akrishna had done) and seeing the divine as the essence o f others w ill prom ote love and social harm ony. w hile acknow ledging the material. furtherm ore. and there are colleges. the reality being m ore com plex as both cultures contain strong ‘ spiritual’ and ‘ m ater­ ial’ features. The m ission lays great im portance on this aspect o f its w o rk w hich it regards as karm a y o g a . This message had great popu larity am ong In dia’s emergent. and has been criticized as leading to a kind o f w o o lly thinking very 258 . W hereas C h ristianity accepts o n ly itself as the truth. but material support to stop star­ vation. along w ith V ivekananda’s stress on H induism as a ‘ scientific’ religion. Vivekananda went to the W orld Parliam ent o f R eligions held at C hicago in 1893 w here he made an imm ense impact and is now. som ething o f which Indians should be proud rather than apologetic. claimed Vivekananda. H induism is pluralistic and accepts all religions as aspects o f the one truth. and resolved to bring his vision o f H induism to the w orld. Indeed. Vivekananda stayed in the West to prom ote his ideas and founded the Vedanta Society in N e w Y o rk in 189 5. the m ost rem em bered figure at that occasion. exists within all beings regardless o f social status. Vivekananda is partly to blame fo r the com m on ly held belief that the East is spiritual w hile the West is m aterialistic. the absolute.

6 it nevertheless provides a strong ideology to link into Indian nationalism on the one hand. H e organized passive resis­ tance to the British. including a m arch to the sea against the Salt Tax w here G andhi and his follow ers sym b olically picked up grains o f salt from the shore. Indeed. M ohandas Karm achand G andhi. A fter tw enty-one years in South A frica. South A frica. it was w ith a couple o f Theosophists that G andhi read E d w in A rn o ld ’s translation o f the B h a g a v a d G ita w hich deeply affected him. w here he occupied a spartan cell. There is a fam ous sto ry o f h ow G andhi. Vivekananda might be regarded as the first to clearly articulate the idea o f H induism as a w orld religion. w h o was travelling in a first-class com partm ent o f a train w ith a first-class ticket. H e returned to B om b ay to practise law. This experience left a deep im pression on him and reinforced his com m itm ent to freeing people from oppression how ever he could. This action flouted the Salt L a w and. Vivekananda’s N eo-V edanta and his ideas o f social change feed into the ideas o f another reform er w h o was to change the face o f Indian politics and public life. along w ith a further 259 . Islam. and the construction of 1 linduism as a w orld religion on the other.7 The vision o f H induism p ro ­ moted b y Vivekananda is one generally accepted b y m ost En glish-speak­ ing middle-class H indus today. but in 1893 too k a job defending a M uslim merchant in D urban. he returned to India in 19 15 where he joined the nationalist m ovem ent and w orked fo r Indian independence through peaceful means. H e founded the N atal Indian C ongress to try to allevi­ ate the conditions o f Indians in the N atal state. Judaism and B ud dh ism . just outside of A hm edabad. H is religious context was there­ fore bh akti w ith Islam ic as w ell as Ja in influence. G andhi studied law in Lo n d o n where he com m unicated w ith T olstoy and met w ith T heosophy. the Satyagraha A shram . w ork in g out his political ph i­ lo so ph y o f non-violence and passive resistance to realize social change. Gandhi G andhi ( 1 869-1948) was born in G u jarat into a fam ily o f the Bania (a m er­ chant) caste w h o w ere devout Vaisnavas.iml the modern world different from the intellectual thoroughness ol the theological traditions. H e also advocated vegetarianism and supported the British Vegetarian Society. was fo rcib ly ejected due to South A fric a ’s apartheid policies at the time. H ere his com m unity p ro ­ moted cottage industries such as spinning. taking its place alongside C hristianity. H e founded a hermitage. a European m ovem ent w hich sought spiritual w isd om in the East./ Imdmsm .

G andhi called ‘holding fast to the truth’ or satyagraha. and w hich he applied to great effect in political situations. on ly be alleviated b y non-violence and holding fast to the truth. and so his method o f passive resistance. resulted in thousands o f arrests. and a dedication to the cause o f justice and truth. A ll Indians w o u ld benefit. thought G andhi. G an d h i’s abhorrence o f untouchability w as not an abhorrence o f a society structured according to divisions determ ined b y occupation. Yet he wanted this structure to be transform ed and the blight o f untouchability eradicated. and he expected high standards from them including sexual renunciation. and self (atman) are one in essence. T heir m anum ission b y the high castes w o u ld not on ly be a free­ ing o f the U ntouchables from econom ic and social oppression. The plight o f the U ntouchables could. he said. they had little political or econom ic power. but w o u ld effect a transform ation o f the w hole society.satya). including that o f G andhi himself. G a n d h is fundam ental idea is that Truth (. ^ Satyagraha became a w o rd used b y G andhi to denote his m ovem ent fo r Indian nationhood. It is the practical expression o f a higher reality: a m oral code and a selfdiscipline w hich requires the control o f the senses. C hastity or brahm acarya was o f central im portance for G andhi as a w a y to realize G o d and also to control the burgeoning population. w h om G andhi called H arijans. he subtitled his autobiography The Story o f M y E xperim ents w ith Truth. The ideal and pu r­ suit o f Truth are central themes in G an dh i’s w riting and in his political and social w o rk. follow ers o f satyagraha. a force. N on -violence is a m anifestation o f the Truth. Indeed. G an d h i’s follow ers w ere even called satyagrahis. though cu riou sly it is an ideal w hich is not found in his favourite text. N on -violence is the central idea fo r w hich G andhi is remem bered.9 Satyagraha w ou ld lead to the w elfare o f all (sarvodaya). classical varn asram a-dharm a o f orthodox brahmanical H induism . the control o f anger and violence. ‘born o f Truth and L o v e or N o n ­ violence’ . applied so effectively against the British. there should be harm ony and non-violence (ahimsa) between people. G o d . P artly due to G an d h i’s in flu ­ 260 . or G o d . w hich Gandh i saw as the original. The w elfare o f all included the em ancipation o f the U ntouchables.An introduction to Hinduism protest at the D harasana Salt W orks.8 Because all are united in an essential oneness. especially the control o f sexuality. the B h a g a v a d G ita. Relegated to p er­ form ing low -status w o rk w hich w ou ld pollute the high castes. w ho is the suprem e being (sat). the ‘children o f G o d ’ .

and in the H in du revivalism o f the last tw o centuries generally. resulted in Indian independence and the British w ithdraw al from India in 1947. G an d h i’s H induism is a religion o f strong ethical com ­ mitment to social justice and truth w h ich he identifies w ith G o d . the BSP. Sikhs too w ere victim s o f the slaughter. Yet in practice the institution remains stubbornly intransigent. there is little concern fo r the aesthetic and sen­ sual aspects o f H indu culture . successfully battling in som e states against the conservative H indu political party./ hmlmsm . one in w hich ritual and deities are subordinated to a vision o f tolerance. To G an d h i’s great distress. the R S S . in w hich G andhi became the leading voice in the C ongress Party. peace and truth. the ‘ O ppressed’ . assassi­ nated G andhi at a D elhi p rayer meeting in 1948. in the form o f a political party. Y et G an d h i’s legacy has lived on in India and he is w id ely revered as a saint. though there is a strong m ovem ent to alleviate the social conditions and raise the status o f ‘the children o f G o d ’ .unl the modern world ence. the BJP. a m em ber o f the militant organization. 261 .G andhi has even been referred to as a p u ri­ tan10 . In G an d h i’s thought. o f w hich Gandhi is a part. in post-independence India tin* idea o! untouchability has been o ffi­ cially abolished and it is an offence to disadvantage a person in education or profession because o f untouchability. Yet Gandhi displays little inter­ est in ritual or H indu m yth ology except in so far as they have bearing on ethical issues he was concerned about. particularly celibacy w h ich in the H indu view bestows great spiritual power. the par­ titioning o f the Punjab to create Pakistan w as accom panied b y massacres o f H indus b y M uslim s and M uslim s b y H indus. The Indian nationalist struggle. G andhi tried to calm the situation b y addressing groups o f people and urging H indus to respect M uslim s. G andhi fought fo r the rights o f U ntouchables to enter H indu temples. w hich has found articulate expression in the m odern w orld . W ith G andhi w e see one w a y in w hich H induism and m odern national­ ism m ix together. This m ovem ent has made some progress in rais­ ing the awareness o f these groups and giving them a cohesive identity. and Nathuram G odse. preferring to be called ‘ D alits’.but it is the Renaissance H induism . It was due to this tolerant attitude that he attracted the anger o f militant nationalist H in du s. G an d h i’s is an ethical H induism . Indeed. H is non-violence is inform ed b y the non-violence o f Jain ism and the renouncer tradition and also b y C h ristian passivism . even discovering a history o f ‘D alit literature’ and. H e is influenced b y the renouncer ideals o f renunciation. who reject G an d h i’s title as rather patronizing.

An introduction to Hinduism

Hindu political nationalism
T he man w h o assassinated G andhi was a member o f an extreme nationalist organization, the R SS. In contrast to the com m itted secularism o f the C ongress Party, in the face o f the religious and cultural pluralism o f India, a num ber o f right-w ing H indu nationalist groups have developed, w ish ­ ing to prom ote India as a H indu, rather than a secular, state. This H indu nationalism m ust be seen in the context o f an India w hich has been sub­ jected throughout h istory to foreign invasion and, at the present time, the ‘invasion’ o f western ideas and material goods. There is a certain nostalgia fo r In dia’s great past and a desire for the order and the clear traditional val­ ues o f the varn asram a-dharm a. There is a construction o f a H indu iden­ tity, w hich is v e ry m odern in being closely associated w ith the idea o f the nation-state, and w hich projects this identity into the past. This identity is constructed in apposition to the foreign ‘ other’ , particularly Indian M uslim s and, to a lesser extent, Christians, and in opposition to m odern­ ization and a w estern secularist ideology. These nationalist tendencies and m ovem ents have given m oral sanction to violence in the perceived struggle for H indu rights. The A ry a Samaj was an advocate o f a nationalism inform ed b y the idea o f H indu dharm a and m ore extreme nationalist groups have emerged from this. In 1909 the first vice-chancellor o f Benares H indu U niversity, Pandit M ohan M alaviya, w h o was a mem ber o f the A ry a Samaj, founded the H indu M aha-Sabha, a right-w ing H indu political party w h o set them ­ selves against the C ongress Party and the M uslim League in the days before independence, though the party has failed to make much o f a m ark in the post-independence years. The p a rty ’s m ost vociferous leader was V in ayak D am odar Savarkar w h o made a distinction between ‘H in du D harm a’ , the religion o f the various traditions, and ‘ H in d u tva’, the so cio ­ political force to unite all H indus against foreign influences. The idea o f ‘ H in du tva’ (‘ H induness’ or ‘ H in du dom ’) has also been taken up b y m ore recent H indu political groups. The H indu M aha-Sabha prom otes the idea o f India as ‘ H industan’ and the rights o f H indus to legislate and govern themselves in accordance w ith H indu id eology.1 1

O ne o f the members o f the H indu M aha-Sabha, K . V. H edgew ar (18 9 0 -19 4 0 ), founded, in 19 25, the highly influential R astriya Svayam 262

/ lmdm\m ,iml the modern world
Scvak Sangh or RSS, an organization which continues to this d ay.12 This is not a political party as such, hut a pow erful cultural organization to p ro ­ mote the interests o f H indus against those of M uslim s, C hristians and C om m unists. B y remaining as a cultural organization and not as a political party, the RSS has wielded considerable influence upon India’s political and cultural life, sponsoring H indu institutions such as temples and schools. R SS members dress in black and can be seen training in m ilitary fashion throughout India in the early m ornings. A related organization, the V isva H indu Parisad (V H P ) founded in 1964, has similar aims to the RSS and draw s on the same sources o f support. These organizations have had particular appeal to low er-m iddle-class male youths, providing them w ith a strong sense o f identity and an outlet fo r their nationalist aspira­ tions. O ne o f the R SS aims has been to provide a context in w hich H indus can be nationalized and nationalists H in d u ized .13 The fact that the R SS is not a political party means that its members are free to join other political parties and influence them from within. Indeed there have been divisions in the C ongress P arty between liberal secularists and H indu traditionalists, some o f w h om have been R SS members. The organization was banned for about a year b y N eh ru , but this was lifted and the organization continues unabated. M uch o f the com m unal violence in India’s recent history has been carried out b y R SS members and the R SS has been extrem ely influential in aw akening H indu political aspirations and the idea o f a H in du nation.

The m ost im portant H indu nationalist political party is the BJP. This is a developm ent o f the Jan a Sangh, a party founded in 19 51 b y Shyam a Prasad M ookerjee, to give voice to H indu nationalism and to oppose the C on gress Party. D urin g the 1950s and 1960s the Jan a Sangh tried to replace C ongress as the main p arty in the H indi-speaking north, stressing policies such as the introduction o f H in d i as the national language, a ban on the slaughter o f cow s, and the recognition o f the state o f Israel: policies w hich are im plicitly anti-M uslim . The party failed, however, in its efforts to replace the C ongress Party. The Jan a Sangh joined a coalition o f other anti-C ongress groups to form the Janata Party - form ally dissolving the Jan a Sangh - w hich defeated M rs G andhi and the C ongress P arty in the election o f 19 77, having been suppressed b y her governm ent during the em ergency regime (19 7 5 -7 ). H ow ever, internal squabbles prevented 263

An introduction to Hinduism
effective governm ent and M rs Gandhi was returned to office in 1980. A fte r this defeat the Janata Party fragmented and in A pril 1980 the B haratiya Janata Party or B JP was fo rm ed .14 The B JP is a H indu national­ ist party w hich w ishes to uphold the rights o f H indus and establish in India a H indu value system , as opposed to the secularist values derived from the West and supported b y the C ongress Party. The B JP has attracted w ide support, particularly from India’s educated classes both in the north and south, and, w hile maintaining the values o f varn asram a-dharm a, has cam paigned on a platform o f standing up fo r all H indus and correcting social injustices. W hile com m unal violence is often associated w ith the BJP, it should be rem em bered that not all B JP members and supporters approve o f violence as a tool to gain political ends.

W hile the R SS and the B JP have pan-H indu appeal, there are other H indu nationalist groups particular to a region. A m o n g these, the Shiv Sena (‘the arm y o f Siva’) m ovem ent founded in 1966 in B o m b ay b y Bal Th ak k eray is especially im portant. The Shiv Sena’s intention is to protect the rights o f M aharastrian H indus and to rid M aharashtra o f ‘foreign influences’, b y w hich it means M uslim s and, to a lesser extent, C hristians. The movem ent is responsible fo r com m unal rioting against M uslim s in Bom bay, fo llo w ­ ing the dem olition o f the m osque B abri M asjid in A yo d h y a in 1992. Indeed the M uslim com m u n ity’s property has been looted and burned, and m any lives have been taken, b y the Shiv Sena.15 There have been reac­ tions b y the M uslim and C hristian com munities to the Shiv Sena w ith the form ation o f M uslim and C hristian Senas, though these have been ineffec­ tive in protecting the com m unities they are said to represent.

The m ost significant act o f com m unal violence to have occurred in the recent h istory o f India took place in 1992. In 19 9 1 the B JP attracted atten­ tion b y going on a ‘pilgrim age’ through India to collect bricks to build a tem ple to Ram a at A yod h ya. O n 6 D ecem ber 1992, the B abri M asjid, a m osque erected in A yo d h y a in 1528 b y Babur, was dem olished b y an esti­ mated 100,000 volunteers or k a r sevaks, assembled there at the call o f the RSS, V H P and BJP, though the parliam entary leader o f the BJP, L . K . A dvan i, com mented that the m osque’s destruction was ‘unfortunate’ .16 O ne o f the motives behind the destruction was the belief that Ram a, the 264

Hinduism >tnd the modern world
incarnation o f Visnu, had been born on the exact spot where the m osque stood. The dem olition was accom panied by the looting and destruction o f M uslim homes, the destruction o f other m osques, and the brutal rape and m urder o f M uslim s in A yod hya. C om m unal riots in other parts o f India follow ed the A yo d h ya incident, as well as reactive M uslim violence against H indus in other countries such as Bangladesh. The rationale behind the highly organized cam paign o f violence at A yo d h y a has been that, in the past, M uslim rulers destroyed H indu tem ples, thereby dam ag­ ing H indu pride, so the destruction o f the B ab ri M asjid is ju stified.17 There are no clear explanations o f H in du com m unal violence. N o doubt deeply rooted historical antagonism s are part o f the cause; the sense o f a religious identity w ith clearly demarcated boundaries, and the idea o f ‘collective effervescence’ put forw ard b y the sociologist Em ile D urkheim are p ro b ab ly contribu tory factors as w e ll.18 C om m unal violence, associ­ ated w ith literal or fundam entalist understandings o f a religious narrative, are an all-too-com m on feature o f the m odern w o rld and not confined to India. The problem o f com m unalism is not solely an Indian one, but is particularly poignant in the contem porary Indian context. The belligerent nature o f conservative H indu m ovem ents such as the Shiv Sena is in com ­ plete contrast to G a n d h is voice o f tolerance and non-violence, but the factious voices o f these groups are not easily appeased.

Global H induism
In contrast to the narrow nationalism o f groups such as the R SS, there are also tendencies w ithin H induism tow ards universalization or globaliza­ tion. G lo b al H induism is the kind o f H induism w hich has w ide appeal and w hich is becom ing a w orld religion alongside C hristianity, Islam and Buddhism , both for the H indu diaspora com m unities and fo r Westerners seeking their sense o f belonging in non-w estern cultures and religions. This kind o f H induism lays emphasis on w hat it regards as universal spiritual values such as social justice, peace and the spiritual transform a­ tion o f humanity. G lob al H induism is the kind o f religion given expres­ sion b y Vivekânanda and G andhi, w hich has a sense o f India as its point o f reference, but w hich has transcended national boundaries. This kind o f religion maintains that H induism contains the oldest revelation available to hum anity, the Veda; believes in a transcendent G o d w ithout attributes w h o is nevertheless m anifested in the innum erable form s o f the H indu gods and h oly persons; believes in reincarnation; overrides differences 265

An introduction to / /induism
between traditions; and tends to avoid the issue o f caste or reinterprets it, along the lines o f G andhi, so that caste is sim ply a w ay o f organizing society according to profession. The philosophy here is predom inantly the N eo-V edanta o f Sw am i Vivekananda, though other voices, the theistic H are K rsna m ovem ent and even Saiva Siddhanta, have contributed to it. This kind o f global H induism appeals to m ore educated, E nglishspeaking, urban H in dus, m any o f w hom live outside India.

W hile H induism is intim ately linked to the sacred land o f India, its cu l­ tural influence spread in the m edieval period to south-east A sia and beyond as far as Ja v a and Bali. Kings o f south-east A sia m odelled them ­ selves on H indu kings, Sanskrit was a sacred language and Brahm ans p er­ form ed rituals in courts. F rom the last century, H induism has spread to other parts o f the w o rld through a process o f m igration. This m ore recent H in du diaspora, due to the B ritish exporting labour fo r plantations and other w o rk such as b uild­ ing railw ays, has placed H indus in all continents: in South and East A frica, the Pacific islands, South A m erica, the West Indies, N o rth A m erica, E u rop e and A ustralia. Indian im m igration into the U S A increased dram atically after 1965 w hen quotas lim iting im m igration w ere rem oved from the Im m igration A ct. These H indu com m unities have continued to practise their religious faith and to convert old churches and schools into temples or build new temples b y subscription in m ore affluent com m unities. In Britain, H induism has developed w ith the arrival o f E ast A frican H indus in 1965 and com m unities w hich have arisen as a consequence o f direct im m igra­ tion from India, particularly G ujarat. O f the 300,000 H indus in Britain today, 70% are G u jarati b y ethnicity, 15 % Punjabi, and 15 % from the rest o f In dia.19 The H in du com m unities in Britain are not hom ogenous. The G ujarati and Punjabi H indus, fo r example, as K im K n o tt has observed, ‘ speak different languages, eat different kinds o f food s, and dress d iffer­ en tly’ .20 These H indu com munities w orsh ip predom inantly in their hom es, but also in temples to various deities including K rsna, Ram a, D urga and Ganesa, especially during festivals. The H induism o f the diaspora has m oved aw ay from the strict varnas'ram a-dharm a system towards the kind o f universalism p ro ­ pounded b y the H indu reform ers such as V ivekananda and G andhi. T he 266

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Indian cultural centre, the Bharatiya V idya Hhavan in I ondon, is an exam ­ ple o f a centre dedicated to the dissem ination of Indian culture, inspired by the universalist H indu ideals of G andhi. Yet there are nevertheless some nationalist tendencies within diaspora com m unities, and attitudes to caste show little sign o f being eroded - som ething w hich is dem onstrated b y the rarity o f inter-caste m arriages.21

G lo bal H induism , inspired b y the teachings o f the H indu reform ers, is developing. In this G lob al H induism w o m en ’s voices are beginning to be heard. The Indian w om en ’s m ovem ent has been influenced b y that o f the West and its reactions to H induism fo llo w the western fem inist reactions to C hristianity: some believe it to be inherently patriarchal, w hile others believe that patriarchy can be separated from the spiritual values o f the religion. In traditional H induism , as w e have seen, w om en ’s nature was thought to be different to that o f men, being passive, nurturing and giving. In the contem porary Indian w om en ’s m ovem ent, expressed, fo r example, in the magazine M anushi, there is an attitude that w om en and men are equal and that statements about ‘w om en ’s nature’ and duty subordinate and oppress w om en.22 It is w ithin G lo b a l H induism that attitudes to w om en can be more easily changed than w ithin the classical m odel o f varnäsram a-dharm a.
THE ‘ P IZZ A -E F F E C T ’

G lo b al H induism has developed during the present century p artly due to re-enculturation: w hat Agehananda Bharati, som ew hat playfully, has called the ‘pizza-effect’ . The original pizza was a hot baked bread w hich was exported to A m erica from Italy, em bellished, and returned to Italy where it became a national dish. Sim ilarly, elements o f H indu culture, such as yoga, bh a k ti, gurus, some H indu teachings, dance and music, have been exported to the West, due largely to the H indu Renaissance, where they have gained great popu larity and then gained popularity among urban H indus in India as a consequence.23 The globalization o f H induism has been due initially to Sw am i V ivekananda’s w o rk , his founding o f Vedanta societies and the Räm akrishna M ission, and to the w o rk o f his disciples and other H indus strongly influenced b y his message o f universalism and tolerance. H ow ever, m any other teachers have follow ed in his w ake, bringing to the West teachings w hich have becom e an im portant cultural 2 67

An introduction to Hinduism
force in western societies, and which in turn have becom e an important cultural force in India, their place o f origin.

H induism in the West
T he interaction betw een H induism and western culture arose due to w est­ ern contacts w ith India and the colonial process. Vasco da G am a opened a seaw ay to India in around 1 500 and the spice trade developed as w ell as the settling on the w estern seaboard o f C atholic m issionaries, w h o w ere the first to be genuinely interested in H indu traditions, if on ly fo r the p u r­ poses o f conversion. The m issionaries learned the languages o f the people they w ished to convert. O f particular note w as R ob erto de N o b ili ( 15 7 7 -16 5 6 ) w h o tried to understand the H indu w orldview , trying to find in H in du scriptures a ‘non-idolatrous sense o f G o d ’ , in order to convert India to C hristianity. In the eighteenth century French missionaries co l­ laborated w ith H indu pandits on textual research, and a French Jesu it, J. F. Pons, produced a Sanskrit gram m ar in Latin in around 17 3 3 . This was the beginning o f In d o lo gy and the ‘ scientific’ interest o f the West in India. Tow ards the end o f the eighteenth century British ‘ O rientalists’, cen­ tred in Bengal, began the system atic study o f Sanskrit and Sanskrit litera­ ture. A m o n g these , Sir W illiam Jones (1746 -9 4), C . W ilkins (17 4 9 -18 3 6 ) and Thom as C o leb ro ok e ( 17 6 5 -18 3 7 ) w ere the pioneers w hose w o rk led to the establishment o f the discipline o f Indology, w hich concentrated on the philological study o f Sanskrit texts. The discipline developed through the nineteenth century, the philosopher Friedrich Schlegel becom ing the first professor o f Sanskrit at B on n in 18 18 . H . H . W ilson became the first B od en P rofessor o f Sanskrit at O xfo rd (professor from 183 2 to 1860), fo l­ low ed b y M onier M onier-W illiams (professor from i860 to 1888) w hose Sanskrit dictionary is still w id ely used, though based on the massive G erm an scholarship o f the seven-volum e Sanskrit dictionary b y R . R oth and O tto B oth lin gk.24 Freidrich M ax M üller was a Sanskritist and pioneer o f the com parative study o f religion, editing the Sacred B o o k s o f the East series. In the U nited States, In d ology w as developed b y a num ber o f scholars at N e w Y o rk , Yale and H arvard. O f particular note are C . R . Lanm an ( 18 5 0 -19 4 1) , w hose Sanskrit reader is still used in universities,25 W illiam D w igh t W hitney (18 27-9 4 ), and M aurice B loom field ( 18 8 5 -19 2 8 ), uncle o f the fam ous linguist Leonard B lo o m field .26 Some C hristian theologians during the nineteenth century also to o k H induism seriously and the beginnings o f interfaith dialogue can be seen here. O ne 268

T h eir interest influenced the U nitarian A ssociation w h o aligned themselves w ith the Brahm o Samaj. Protap C hunder M o zoom d ar in 1883 delivered a lecture to a group in the hom e o f E m erson ’s w id o w . though inevitably relegating it to a low er level than western philosophy. Friedrich N ietzsche (18 4 4 -19 0 0 ).28 A s w ell as to the missionaries and Indologists. did so at the invitation o f the U nitarian A ssociation. especially what they regarded as pantheism. notwithstanding advances made by Indologists in the understanding o f Sanskrit.18 3 1) .30 These thinkers are not concerned w ith accu­ rate readings o f H indu texts and philosophy. H egel was am ong the first to take H indu th eology seriou sly and incorporated H indu thought into his grand philosophical<l the modern world o f the earliest of these was Row land W illiams ol I .31 N o t on ly did H indu ideas. Ralph W aldo Em erson (18 0 3-8 2 ) and H e n ry D avid Thoreau (18 17 -6 2 ) . but also in A m erica w ith the N e w England Transcendentalists. H indu ideas. G . even before Vivekananda. w ere o f interest to w estern philosophers in the G erm an Rom antic tradition such as J. but are interested in using H indu thought to back up or contribute to their ow n. W esterners.18 29). Indeed. have some impact in the G erm an intellectual w orld . regarding themselves as seekers after truth reacting against the ‘ organized religion’ o f their 269 . though inevitably regarding C hristianity as superior.32 H indu gurus in the West Since the end o f the nineteenth century.ampeter who presented a sym pathetic view of H indu doctrines.27 H ow ever./ Innlmsni . Friedrich Schlegel ( 17 7 2 . The legacy o f this tradition is also found in the novels o f H erm ann H esse (18 7 7 -19 6 2 ) and the psych ologist C arl G u stav Ju n g ( 18 7 5 . know ledge alw ays being set within cultural presuppositions and boundaries. Schelling ( 17 7 5 . H egel’s younger colleague. the first H indu to speak about H induism in the West. Indian religions and Indian history. H erder (17 4 4 -18 0 3 ). notably Vedanta. and H egel ( 17 7 0 . Schopenhauer’s philosophical heir.19 6 1) w h o constructed India as hum anity’s spiritual hom e and the location where sym bols are m ost m ani­ fested from the collective unconscious. regarded Vedanta as an ‘ exalted idealism ’29 and enthu­ siasm fo r Indian thought was taken up b y A rth u r Schopenhauer (17 8 8 -18 6 0 ) w ho regarded India as a land o f ancient w isdom . also admired H indu ideas and referred to the ‘ L aw s o f M an u ’ as a text far supe­ rior to the N e w Testament. In d olo gy has com e under recent criticism fo r its colonial inheri­ tance and its claims to ‘objective’ know ledge o f texts.18 54).

Krishnam urti has a large follo w in g in the West and had dialogues w ith m odern nuclear physicists. B. 270 . A part from the teachers o f the Hindu Renaissance.35 A u ro b in d o ’s w ritin g on his system is volum inous. T he Theosophical Society influenced w estern intellectu­ als such as the poet W. Significantly he w rote in English and addressed an English-speaking audience from both India and the West. and C o lo n el A lco tt (18 3 2 -19 0 7 ). In 18 7 7 the society m oved to India. A nnie Besant (18 4 7 -19 3 3 ) to o k over the society’s leadership and trained a yo u n g b o y to becom e a w o rld spiritual leader. M adam e Blavatsky. H e called his system ‘integral Y o g a ’ . W hile in prison he had a religious experience. developing a philosophical system inspired b y Vedanta. Th e Th eosophical Society had been founded in 1 875 in N e w Y o rk b y a Russian psych ic. ultim ately derived from A dvaita Vedanta. U p o n release. he w ent to P o n dicherry where he started an ashram and lived a life o f study and contem plation fo r fo rty years.34 A m o n g H indu teachers to attract a w ide w estern fo llo w in g is A u rob in d o G h ose (18 7 2 -19 5 0 ).33 A pparent conceptual affiliations between contem porary science and som e ‘ eastern’ doctrines have attracted w ide interest in recent years (which has served to reinforce constructions o f ‘the E ast’ as ‘m ystical’). called ‘ objectless aw areness’ . Tantra and the th eory o f evolution: the spirit­ ual path is a path tow ards higher form s o f awareness and an integration o f matter w ith spirit. achieving a state o f sam adhi through yoga. the m ost im portant western m ovem ent responsible fo r the transm ission o f H induism to the West is Theosophy. interested in his ideas and the interface betw een science and eastern religions. Yeats and the novelists A ld o us H u x ley and C h risto ph er Ish erw oo d. Krishnam urti unequivocally rejected this role and w ent on to teach a doctrine o f pure awareness. U p o n the death o f M adam e Blavatsky. A s a you ng man A u rob in d o was involved w ith the Indian independence m ovem ent and jailed fo r terrorist activities as a result. w here its headquarters remain at M adras and w here it maintains a good lib rary and continues to publish texts and m onographs on H induism and T heosophy. and m any H indu ideas entered the West via Th eosophy. but inte­ grating elements from Y oga. to prom ote and explore esoteric know ledge. went to India in search ol spiritual truth and often found it there in the form o f various gurus.An introduction to Hinduism hom elands. Jid d u K rishnam urti (18 9 5 -19 8 6 ) was educated in England b y A nnie Besant and in 1925 she declared him to be the M essiah and founded the O rder o f the Star in the E ast to prom ote this idea. such as D avid B oh m .

western devotees. having experienced a state o f non-dual conscious­ ness. D r Ju lian Joh nson ./ lindiiism . he taught ‘ G o d -realization ’ through the practice o f the yo ga o f inner sound (see pp. 271 . H is teachings.ideas and practices came to the West and had a large im pact upon the counter­ culture then developing. O f the same generation as A urobind o.1). such as M aharishi M ahesh Y ogi. after the lifting o f im m igration restrictions in the U S A in 1965. the m as­ ter o f the Radhasoam i Satsang at Beas. w h o. and simple lifestyle attracted m any Westerners w h om he taught to ask the question ‘ W ho am I?' Through m editating upon this. These teachings have had w ide influence in the West and have produced ‘western* gurus such as Jean K lein and A n d rew C ohen w h o continue to attract large crow ds o f .111(1 the modern world I lis legacy lives on in the town Auroville. proceeded to teach.prom oted H indu ideas and gurus. 10 0 . D urin g this period. the then teenage guru M aharaji. Sawan Singh (mas­ ter from 1903 to 1948).38 D urin g the 1 960s m any H indu . w ho founded the D ivin e Light M ission (since renamed Elan Vital).as w ell as B uddhist and Chinese . Yogananda was a renouncer w h o achieved states o f sam adhi and w rote a fascinating autobiography o f his spiritual jou rn ey and the founding in C alifo rn ia o f the Self-Realization F ellow sh ip. and Sawan Singh.(bidi-) m aker N isarga Datta M aharaj. the founder o f the Transcendental M editation (TM ) m ovem ent.m ainly . took Sawan Singh as his spiritual master and was instrum ental in the developm ent o f the Radhasoam i Satsang in the West. a person's various roles and personae are thought to be stripped aw ay to reveal the truth o f the self as pure consciousness. D om inant figures in popular culture .37 The Punjabi m ystic o f the Sant tradition. there w as a flo w o f Indian gurus to the West.36 The teachings o f Ram ana have inspired m any other gurus such as the low -caste B om b ay cigarette.pop stars such as the Beatles and poets such as A lan G in sb erg . near Pondicherry. a Protestant preacher. also attracted a w estern audience. w hich are pure A dvaita. though his teach­ ings w ere v e ry different: rather than ‘ self-realization’ . founded by him and his companion. but with a much low er profile. Tw o other contem poraries o f A u rob in d o and Ram ana M aharshi to attract w estern interest have been Param aham sa Yogananda (18 9 0 -19 5 2 ) w ho founded the Self-Realization Fellow sh ip. was the Tamil m ystic Ram ana M aharshi ( 1 8 7 9 -19 5o) w ho lived and taught at Tiruvannam ali. a French woman known as the ‘ Mother* who took over spiritual leadership of the community after his death.

and in South Fallsburg. Cidvilasananda. w ho radically reinterpreted the traditional H indu understanding o f renunciation. and B hagavan Shree Rajneesh. fam ous fo r his m agical pow ers o f producing images and sacred ash from his fingertips. These teachings are not hom ogenous and there are great differences between the various teachers. but m any problem s follow ed upon their appointm ent and the m ovem ent has since veered aw ay from investing absolute authority in a few. and Sw am i Sivananda from Rishikesh. C entres o f the H are K rsna . R u d i. calling his follow ers Sannyasis.An introduction to Hinduism Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada. is an Am erican. initiated a N e w Y o rk art dealer. as his successor and she n o w heads the massive organiza­ tion o f Siddha Y oga. U S A . have started centres throughout the w o rld and have taught further swamis to carry on their N eo-V edanta teachings. Swam i Cetanananda. hum an teachers. M uktananda’s guru. w h o com mands a large fo llo w in g in India and abroad. w h o em phasize the direct experience o f a non-dual reality through surrender to the master. such as Swam i C hinm ayananda. founder o f the N ityananda Institute. This great influx o f H indu teachers and ideas to the West during the 1960s and 1970s has contributed to G lo bal H induism . for example. eleven western gurus w ere chosen to succeed as spiritual heads o f the H are K rsn a m ovem r exam ple. Sw am i M uktananda appointed an Indian w om an. based m ainly in G orakhpur. who brought the I larc Krsna movement to the West in 1965. and w h o fused eastern m editation w ith western psychotherapies. Swam i M uktananda who founded Siddha Yoga. India. Som e o f Sivananda’s disciples. fallible. U p o n the demise o f Prabhupada. very often W esterners. D a A vabhasa K alk i (alias D a Free Joh n). in the early 1960s. w hose successor. Lee L o z o w ic k and Jean K lein. M an y o f these teachers w h o set up movem ents have since died and passed on their spiritual authority to others. w ho taught the N eo-V edanta form ulated b y Vivekananda. Some western gurus derive their teachings from H induism . Sw am i N ityan an da. such as A nandam ayi. Bhaktivedanta P rabh u pad as teachings focusing on the theistic deity K rsn a are ve ry different from the m onistic teachings o f T M ’s M aharishi. but proclaim themselves to be self-realized and in some sense outside any original H indu tradition . after R u d i’s death in a plane accident. regarded as a living deity and identified w ith the G oddess D urga. O ther teach­ ers w h o have had an influence on the West have remained in India. Satya Sai Baba.39 M an y o f these gurus have been adopted b y urban H indus in India through the ‘pizza effect’ p reviou sly outlined.

for example have been adopted b y H indu com m unities living outside India as their own. H induism as a o global religion. or H indu D harm a. B oth o f these trends have emerged during the last twr centuries. Indeed the new religious m ovem ents lo o sely referred to as ‘ N ew A g e ’. Sum m ary There w ou ld seem to be tw o forces at w o rk within H induism in the m od­ ern w orld: on the one hand a trend tow ards a universalization w hich con ­ tributes to contem porary global culture and processes. Yet in contrast to these u n i­ versalizing tendencies. H induism has. expressed in the ideas o f the H indu Renaissance. It will be increasingly difficult. there has also developed a H indu political nation­ alism w hich connects H induism . has devel­ oped since the nineteenth century as a reaction to colonialism and Christianity.Bhaktivedanta M anor near W atford. or desirable. M uslim and C hristian com m unities in India and evoked some ter­ rible violence. 2 73 . England.I Imdmsm am i the modern world movement . to devotion to popular gurus.forces w hich demand expression. and w hich m ay contribute to finding solutions to the global problem s w hich face the human com m unity in the com ing century. yet on the other a trend tow ards exclusive. as have all religions. This kind o f H induism has been inclusive and has firm ly established itself on the w orld stage. to separate out the m ore recent manifestations o f H induism in the teachings o f the gurus w ho have come to the West from m ore traditional understandings o f the diaspora com munities. w ith the nation-state o f India. m any o f w hose ideas are derived from H induism via 'Theosophy. Yet H induism also contains w ithin it profound resources fo r peace and reconciliation . This political nationalism has inspired friction between the H indu. from the scholarly study o f texts in In d o lo gy departments in universities. been a cause o f b lo o d ­ shed and intolerence. reform ulating ‘ H in duism ’ and dis­ covering its ancient origins. H induism has becom e a w o rld religion w hich has had a deep impact both on India and on the West at all cultural levels. Th rough the w o rk o f Ram M ohan R o y and later o f Vivekananda and his follow ers. m ay also contribute to G lo b al H induism in the future. local or national identity form ations.

1987). 12. Thapar. 1962). 22-3. 6 O ’Connell. K. A lb eru m s In dia. 3 0 -1. pp. ‘Exorcising the Transcendent: Strategies for Redefining Hinduism and Religion’. 1 Points of departure 1 The March 1991 census of India estimated the population to be 843.861. 7 Quoted in B. 1982). pp. The M eaning and E n d o f Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row. Muslims. p. 1994)3 Knott and Toon. vol. Interpreting Early India (Delhi: O xford University Press. in Sontheimer and Kulke (eds. 1987). Sikhs and H indus in the UK: Problems in the Estimation o f Religious Statistics. 340-4. ‘The Emergence of Modern “ Hinduism ” ’. 9 Ibid. Smith. ‘The Word “ H indu” in Gaudiiya Vaisnava Texts\ Jo u rn al o f the American Oriental Society. 4 R. History o f Religions (Aug. 2 See Klostermaier. 93. pp. H induism Reconsidered (Delhi: Manohar. University of Leeds.3 (1973). 1888). I 993X p.Notes Introduction i Sachau. Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories R evea l A bout the M ind (Chicago and London: U niversity of Chicago Press. p. 10 Piatigorsky.930. i (London: Trubner and C o. Women.. A Survey o f Hinduism (Albany: S U N Y Press. 36.). 775 C. Religious Research Paper 6 (Theology and Religious Studies Department. Frykenberg. Smith. 1991). p. ‘Some Phenomenological Observations on the Study of 274 . 207. 8 Lakoff.

1990). p. whether any such object actually exists or not’ (Peirce. 13 W. 17 Otto. 26 . The H ollow Crow n (Ann A rbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 1982). pp. 14 Inden. and T. 1990). Z. 1 am also influenced here by C lifford Geertz’ definition of religion as that which ‘tunes human actions to an envisaged cosmic order and projects images of cosmic order on to the plane of human experience’ : Geertz. 1. Hinduism Reconsidered. 12 Smart. D IS K U S : A D isem bodied Jou rn al o f Religious Studies. 1964). p. ‘Hinduism’. Turning Points in Religious Studies (Edinburgh: T. Collected Papers o f Charles Sanders Peirce.9 Indian Religion’. The Interpretation o f Cultures (London: Fontana. The Idea o f the H o ly. 18 For a discussion of this distinction see Smart. Clark.14 .Notes to pages 7 . von Stietencron. pp. p. ‘Hinduism: On the Proper Use of A Deceptive Term’. Mass. 1990). ‘The Formation Rather than the Origin of a Tradition’. 11 J. 1993). pp. The Elem entary Forms o f the Religious L ife (London: Allen and Unwin. Smith. see also H. brief survey of the idea of ‘Hinduism’ and the development of recent scholarship about it. 90. 1982). 37. 13 . Z. 1993). vol. pp. Reasons and Faiths (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 20 J. see Hardy. 1. pp. Smith. M y use of the term has been influenced by Charles Pierce’s understanding of the icon as ‘ a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes merely by virtue of characters of its own. 15 Durkheim. The Meaning and E n d o f Religion. 14 5-55. also Halbfass. For an interesting. From Babylon to Jonestown (University of Chicago Press. Smith. pp. 1 have used the term ‘icon’ in preference to ‘image’ as a translation of the terms murti and vigraha to indicate the physical manifestation of a deity.). Imagining Religion. in Burghardt and <>antillc* (eds. p. p. 1 6 Berger. 1989). 2nd edn (O xford. 1985). 65. xi. Tradition and Reflection (Albany: S U N Y Press. 106-7. 1991). 19 For example. 11 (Cambridge. 5 5. in King (ed. Elements o f a Sociological Theory o f Religion (N ew York: Anchor Books. 1-2 2. and which it possesses just the same.: Harvard 2 75 .2 7 . 11. C. the important w ork by D irks. 1958) and more recently his The World's Religions (Cambridge University Press. in Sontheimer and Kulke. Im agining Religion. London and N ew York: O xford University Press. Indian Religion (London: Curzon. Im agining India (Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwells. (1993). p. The Sacred Canopy. 208-24.).

There Are also parallels between the Hindu murti and the Christian Orthodox ‘ icon* as a material centre which.). The World's Religions. 25-7. 1991). 1988). B. pp. p. 1994). p. 1989). in Viller. 21 Smart. Clarke and H ardy (eds. ‘ Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’. pp. 389. A lso Fauré. 29 Staal. pp. p. Houlden. Dumont. K . 27 Halbfass. Zaehner. 3-9. in his Hom o Hierarchicus (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Notes to pages io . The World's Religions (London: Routledge.). 24 See Piatigorsky.i$ University Press. are used by Alexis Sanderson. Dictionnaire de spiritualité. Tradition and Reflection. Hinduism (O xford U niversity Press. Milner. Theravâda Buddhism (London and N ew York: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 247). Status and Sacredness. Smith. ‘Some Phenomenological Observations on the Study of Indian Religion’ . 31 L. pp. The Rhetoric o f Im m ediacy: A Cultural C ritique o f Chan/Zen Buddhism (Princeton University Press. 30 Gombrich. ‘World Renunciation in Indian Religions’. p. have or maintain’ . R itual. 23 See ibid. 32 See L. perpetuate. 1932). p. Rules Without Meaning. 304. 1988). 28 Zaehner relates dharma to the Sanskrit root dhr which means ‘to hold. On this account a person can be an icon as well as an ‘object’ of stone or wood. Cavallera and de Guibert (eds. vol. Mantras and the Hum an Sciences (N ew York: Peter Lang. 1966). p. 19 71). in Sutherland. Dumont. 662. A general Theory o f Status Relations and an Analysis o f Indian Culture (N ew York and O xford: O xford U niversity Press. pp. 25 The terms ‘secondary’ and ‘indirect revelation’ referring to this literature of human authorship. 22 Bourdieu. Outline (Cambridge University Press. See Sanderson. 2. 267-86. and transform traditions with legitimizing reference to the authority of the Veda’. 1991). p. Hom o Hierarchicus. 1236). 1-2 . according to Vladamir Lossky. Carman and 276 . He defines dharma as ‘the “ form ” of things as they are and the power that keeps them as they are and not otherwise’. p. ‘Exorcising the Transcendent’. contains an energy and divine truth (quoted in Miguel. 40. v u (Paris: Beauchesme. 26 Brian Smith has defined Hinduism as ‘the religion of those humans who create. ‘Théologie de l’icone’. 1980). 1-2 2 . 9.

(1879. ‘The Date of the Buddha Reconsidered’. 23. Kings o f Kashmira: Being a Translation o f the Sanskrita Work Râjataraûgini o f Kalhana Pandita. 37 See Staal. vol. and how these relate to the caste system. 43 For a good summary of the structuralist position (Marx.). Power. 26 1-75. pp. 337. Dutt (trs. H induism Reconsidered. 1: Mythologies from Gingee to Kuruksetra (Chicago and London: U niversity of Chicago Press. 1991). 1994). Noirs to pages i$-2 ¡ Marglin (eds.).). 277 . 44 See the Indian feminist journal M anushi: Women Bhakta Poets. p. 1992). 11: On H indu Ritual and the Goddess (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.). See also HiltebeitePs important w ork on the Draupadi cult in Tamilnadu: Hiltebeitel.3 (1963). pp. Eley and Ortner (eds. Genre and Pow er in South Asian Expressive Traditions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp.). 29-36. 3 vols. 50. 46 Gombrich. 1981). 51. in Dirks. p. 45 See Bechert. pp. 48 Kalhana. 9 -16 . 3 6 Von Stietencron. 34 Ibid. 47 Thapar. 80-7. 52 (Jan. pp. 3. 13 -14 . pp. 41 Guha. pp. p. ‘The Prose of Counter-Insurgency’. 19S5). The Rhetoric o f Im m ediacy. 39 Biardeau (éd. R aj atarangini. Giddens). Purity and Auspiciousness in Indian Society (Leiden: 33 Fuller.-June 1989). 136 -73. Autour de la Déesse hindoue (Paris: Editions de PEcole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. 42 Inden.2 7 . The Cam phor Flame (Princeton University Press. History: A R eader in Contemporary Social Theory (Princeton University Press. 11. The Rhetoric o f Im m ediacy. in Sontheimer and Kulke. ‘Hinduism: On the Proper Use of a Deceptive Term’. 40 See Appadurai. Dumont) versus theories of practice (Bourdieu. see Milner. Interpreting Early In dia . vol. Theravâda Buddhism .I Brill. Im agining India. 38 For a discussion of these levels see Fauré. Culture. 4. The Cult o f D raupadi. 6. Indologica Taurinensia. 35 See Fauré. Delhi: M L B D . 1991). Status and Sacredness. reprint 1990). G ender. ‘Sanskrit and Sanskritization \ Jo u rn a l o f Asian Studies. p. 10 (1982). Korom and Miles (eds. 1988).

The Rise o f Civilization in India and Pakistan. pp. 1993). The Cam bridge History o f India Supplementary Volume (Cambridge University Press. Archaeology and Language. 8. Deciphering the Indus Script. 274-7.3 1 5* On the seals see Fairservis. 185. p. F ° r a discussion of the proto-Siva see Hiltebeitel ‘The Indus Valley “ proto-Siva” . O f Gram m atology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. See his ‘On the Decipherment of the Indus Script . Pakistan. See also Allchin and Allchin. Subash Kak in a number of papers has argued that the Indus script is of an IndoEuropean language and that the script bears some close resemblances to the Brahmi script. M ohenjo-Daro and the Indus C ivilization. pp. p. The Indus Civilization. 61. 10 2 -10 . that it was never constituted except reciprocally by a non-origin. 52. 243.Notes to pages 2 }-N 1 Ancicnt origins 1 Writing on the idea of the ‘ trace’ in relation to ‘origin’ the French philosopher Derrida writes: ‘the trace is not only the disappearance of origin. . the precursor of devanagari in which Sanskrit is commonly written. Deciphering the Indus Script (Cambridge University Press. Museum Monograph (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 105-7. pp. 5 Allchin and Allchin. 2 Wheeler. 1953). that the origin did not even disappear. The Roots o f Ancient India (University of Chicago Press. The Puzzle o f Indo-European Origins (London: Jonathan Cape. 3 vols. pp. the Buffalo. Excavations at Mohenjo Daro. 1. The Rise o f Civilization in India and Pakistan. 22. (London: University of O xford Press. 1987). 2 1 3 . p.A preliminary Study of its Connections with Brahm i’. p. Parpola. pp. 1994). The Rise o f Civilization in India and Pakistan (Cambridge University Press.8 (1980). 1976). Derrida. Re-examination through Reflection on the Goddess. 183. 7 Renfrew. pp. Dales and Kenoyer. See Parpola. 6 A sko Parpola and Russian scholars have argued that the script is Dravidian. p. . 9 Marshall. 1982). See Allchin and Allchin. Deciphering the Indus Script. 1975). 9 -12 . 166-225. vol.1 (1987). The Indian Jo u rn al o f History o f Science. 3 Parpola. 8 Allchin and Allchin. ‘The Antecedents of Civilization in the Indus Valley’. pp. 51-6 2. which thus becomes the origin of the origin’. The Rise o f Civilization in India and Pakistan. the trace. Scientific Am erican. and the Symbolism 278 . 4 Jarrige and Santoni. 19 31). it means .

3 vols. 167-8. ‘Bronze Age Iron from Afghanistan: Its Implications for South Asian Proto-history’. The Aryan Myth (N ew York: Basic Books. Mass. 222-34. 46 (Delhi: M L B D . 88. 19 51). 65-10 2. 14 Poliakov. Deciphering the Indus Script. SBE 32. 17 Tripathi. pp.. 18 Shaffer. D ravidian Borrowings from Indo-Aryan (Berkeley: University of California Press. The Painted Grey Ware: A n Iron A ge Culture o f Northern India (Delhi: Concept Publishing C o. Studies in the Archeology and Paleoanthropology o f South Asia (N ew Delhi: O xford and IB H Publishers.3 (1987). pp. 77-89. 15 Shaffer. Archaeology and Language.ation'. 192. 15 5-9. 20 Parpola. 19 Shaffer. Deciphering the Indus Script. 26 The standard German translation of the R g Veda Samhitä is by Geldner. Vedic Hymns. 142-59. ‘Indo-Aryan Invasions: M yth or Reality?’. Im agining In dia. D er R igveda: Aus dem Sanskrit ins Deutsche übersetzt und mit einem laufenden Komm entar versehen. 92. 11 Ibid. G ods. For the horse argument specifically see pp. Indian Jo u rn al o f History o f Science. 279 . reprint 1973) and there is an accessible translation of some hymns by O ’Flaherty: The R ig Veda.).Ar. 27 See Kak.. 1983). Jo u rn al of the Royal Asiatic Society o) Great Britain and Ireland. p.3. 23 Emeneau and Burrow. Harvard Oriental Series. pp. 16 Inden. p. The People o f South Asia: The Biological Anthropology o f India. 1 (1984). p. 89. See also Frawley.. pp. 256 -71. 1976). 22. 34. Pakistan and N epal (N ew York and London: Plenum Press.Notes to pages 2 9 -3 7 of the vahanas'y Anthropos. 22 Parpola. pp.5. 2 vols. 1962).: Harvard University Press. 21 Renfrew. 25 Ait. pp. in Lukács (ed. 767-79. 5. 15 2 -3 . 73. in Kennedy and Possehl (eds. pp. 12 For a discussion of this motif see ibid. Deciphering the Indus Script. ‘Indo-Aryan Invasions: M yth or Reality?’. Srinivasan. 35 (Cambridge. 248-50. 33. ‘ On the C hronology of Ancient India’. pp. 24 Parpola. ‘Unhinging Siva from the Indus ( livili/. 246-8.5-6 ( 1 97H). pp. English translations are by Müller and Oldenberg. The Indus C ivilization. 77-90.). 13 Wheeler. 1974). pp. pp. 10 Parpola. 1984). Deciphering the Indus Script. p.

29 Staal. 36 Staal. ‘ “ Scripture” in India: Towards a Typology of the Word in Hindu L ife’.Ar. 37 Staal. See Heesterman. 1989). 44-7. 2 vols. 43 The horse sacrifice and spnboftc^côpulation with the horse seems to have been a com mon Indo-European theme with parallels as far away as Ireland. Brace and World. p. See O Tlaherty. Katha. Rules without M eaning.1.3 . Rethinking Scripture. L A svam edha: description du sacrifice solennel du cheval dans le culte vedique d'après les textes du Yajurveda blanc. A lso Staal (éd.2. 37. 38 Wasson. Rules without M eaning. p. 30 Ait. 34 R V 2 . pp. Sat.). The Six Systems o f Indian Philosophy (London: Longmans. The Vedic Ritual o f the Fire A ltar.S.. Prasna. Kena. Androgynes and O ther M ythical . Svetàsvatara.1. Aitareya. 1975). 1991). Exploring Mysticism (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 31 Coburn.Notes to pages j 9-44 Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets o f Ancient Civilization (Salt Lake C ity: Passages Press. p. Isa. Kausïtaki. Rules Without M eaning. p. EthnoM ycological Studies 1 (N ew York: Harcourt. 41 For an account of the horse sacrifice see P. M undaka. M àndukya and Maitrï. 1968). 10. Essays from a Com parative Perspective (Albany: S U N Y Press. Chândogya. p. 33 Jamison. Taittirïya. O f these the oldest group are from the Brhadâranyaka to the Kausïtaki. A G N I.8.16 2. Paris: Geuthner 1927. Women. 8 1-3. 40 Staal. M ahânàràyana. pp. 1993). pp. S o m a th e D ivin e Mushroom o f Im m ortality. 42 R V 1. Green and C o. 13. namely the Brhadâranyaka. 3 . A G N I. 1991 ). (Berkeley: University of California Press). p. 32 This older group comprises fourteen texts. in Levering (ed. The Broken World o f Sacrifice: Essays in Ancient Indian R itual (Chicago and London: U niversity of Chicago Press. For a concise summary of the soma sequence see Staal. 35 Ap.5. 13.1. 68.). Dumont. S. Ravenous Hyenas and the w ounded Sun (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. 1899). 39 Parpola. E. 17. 28 Müller. 187-93.1. Deciphering the Indus Script.Br. 149. 112 .2.

p. 1. Cosmos and Society: Indo-European Themes o f Creation and Destruction (Cambridge. 14 1-4 . p. Myth.1 2 . 48 Sat. 1980). Aguilar i Matas. 52 R V 4. p. 47 Müller. 117 -2 6 . 188-203. 281 . p.Br. Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Sociétés. 237. 63 See Lincoln. Mass. 1 991). 47. Mantra Interpretation in the Satapatha Brâhm ana (Leiden: Brill. 1958). Androgynes and O ther M ythical Beasts. The R gvedic Adityas (N ew Haven: American Oriental Series 63. 44 René Girard.S 9 . 1 9 8 8 ) . 51 R V 10 . ‘Cosmical H om ology and Yoga’.1 quoted by Gonda.9 . pp. 57 R V 10. ‘Métiers et classes fonctionnelles chez divers peuples IndoEuropéens’. 45 See Bourdieu. 1981). 59 Durkheim.Notes to pages 44-50 Beasts (London and Chicago: University of ( Chicago Press. 168. pp. 64 Dumézil. pp. 2 1. 1 1 .90.5 . 4 (O ct. pp. 53 R V 1.1-2. Civilisations i j e année). p.Journ al o f the Indian Society o f Oriental Arts. p.74. 716-24. 1991). 1962). pp. .32. 25. 60 See O Tlaherty. 55 R V 7.. Women. 1986).: Harvard University Press.129. 65 E.2 . 46 B A U 3. 62 R V 10. 5 (1937). 5 . The Elem entary Forms o f the Religious L ife (London: Allen and Unwin. 61 Eliade.26.1. 56 R V 10. R g-vedic Society (Leiden: Brill. 58 Bhatta-Bhâskara on the Taittirïya-Samhitâ 1.-D ec. Annales (Économies. 49 R V 4-550 R V 9. 54 For an account of the Âdityas see Brereton. in O ’Flahertys translation The R ig Veda. The Six Systems o f Indian Philosophy. 1977). Language and Sym bolic P ow er (Cambridge: Polity Press.

Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 25 (Department Orientalistik. 10.Dh. pp. pp. 5 Gautama D harm a Sutra 1 . 3 Heesterman. in Lingat. Rules Without M eaning. 1994). H indu Ethics (Albany: S U N Y Press. 8 Staal.23. Leuven University: 1987). Flu id Signs: Being a Person the Tamil Way (Berkeley: University of California Press. 4 M S 1.4-14 . See Staal. 1976).97.).). 73-4. 282 . 20 Manu 10. India and the Ancient World.85. K. The In ner Conflict o f Traditions: Essays in Indian Ritual.371-2. 350.112 . p. n o .SS. in Pollet (ed. 9 Lingat. 1984). Transaction and M eaning: Directions in the Anthropology o f Exchange and Symbolic Behaviour (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. 1 1 Gaut. H induism .2 . 3. 13 M anu 1. 17 E. 15 B. The Classical L aw o f In dia. V. 8. 14 M anu 10. Smith. 18 Marriott. Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varna System and the Origins o f Caste (N ew York and O xford: O xford University Press. p.24. 355-9. 1. xlvi.1.16. 10 M. 22 Ibid. p. 16 Vis. 5. 7 Baud. 235-6. 1973). M anu 12 . 1991).Notes to pages 51-61 3 D harm a 1 Witzel.2 . pp. 11. Daniel. 12 Doniger. 3. pp. Lipner and Young (eds.). 19 Halbfass. 2 Cow ard.85.49-51. pp. 23 Ibid. 28. The Law s o f M anu. Kapferer (ed. 109-42. Tradition and Reflection.12. pp. Rules Without M eaning.7 and 6. in B. 194-200.1. 6 Manu 6. 102-24. Kingship and Society (University of Chicago Press. ‘On Localization of the Vedic Texts and Schools’. 3-1 5• 21 Ibid. 2. 2. The Classical L a w o f India (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1 . 273. 364-5. Derrett. 1985).17. ‘Appendix by the translator'. Zaehner.68. pp. p. p. ‘Hindu Transactions: D iversity without Dualism ’.Smrt.

6. 17 5 -9 1. 1994).Notes to pages 6 7 -7 24 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 33 Ibid. 19-20. The Law s o f M anu. p. I 993X PP. 1989). 1991). A lso Dirks. pp. Hinduism. O xford: O xford University Press. 37 Ibid. 285. 25 Giles.8. D oniger’s translation. in Homo Hierarchicus. 32 Ibid.13. pp. 41 Manu 5. 31 Gonda. The Anthropology o f a Civilization (N ew Delhi: O xford University Press. p.7>24" 8.147-8.43-4. 26 L.). ‘Suttee or Satl: Victim or Victor?’. 27 Olivelle.5 . 5. 117 . 50. 12. Dumont. reprint 1985). pp. 6. O xford University South Asian Series (Delhi: O xford U niversity Press. Dumont. 3. 3 .1-2 . p.V. pp. The Perfect Wife: The Orthodox H indu Woman According to the Strldharm apaddhati o f Tryam bakayajvan. p. 1989). 11. The H ollow Crow n. 34 Manu 6.88. 106-27. 39 Manu 3. 28 Ibid. The Travels o f Fa-hsien (399-414 A l))t or Record o f the Buddhist Kingdoms (Cambridge University Press. ‘World Renunciation in Indian Religions’. 283 . 42 Ibid. 1923).23-4. 21. 54.51.86. 267-86. The Cam phor Flame. 5738 L. 45 Fuller. 30 5-16 . pp. 30 Ath. 43 Leslie.60.). 1. 36 Ibid. 80-1. Homo Hierarchicus.165-6. 10. in Leslie (ed. the Blessing and the Curse: The Burning o f Wives in India (N ew York. See also H aw ley (ed. Satl. 44 Leslie. Change and Continuity in Indian Religion (1965 N ew Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 6. pp. Roles and Rituals fo r H indu Women (London: Pinter Publishers.77-8. The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics o f a Religious Tradition (N ew York. p. O xford: O xford University Press. 40 Biardeau. 35 Ibid.

holds sky and earth.4 (1986).V. D ivin e Revelation in Pali Buddhism (London: Allen & Unwin. Dumont. p. we have mounted the wind. American Ethnologist. Purity and Auspiciousness in Indian Society (Leiden: Brill. 4 The hymn reads: Long-hair holds fire. 38. 1957). so that everyone can see the sun. When gods enter them. holds the drug. 53 Kantorowicz. put dirty red rags on. 51 Stein. 160. 7. Peasant. 6. 59 Ibid.Notes to pages bti-77 46 R V 1. 6. 52 Inden. Ath. ‘ Kings and Omens’. 264.15 . 123-38. 22. 60 See Inden’s review of Heesterman’s The In n er Conflict o f Tradition: Inden. The H ollow C row n. pp. The King's Two Bodies (Princeton University Press. The Two Traditions o f Meditation in Ancient India (Delhi: M L B D . Im agining In d ia . 56 Ibid. /'he Rig Veda. 50 Inden. 1986). 1980). ‘Tradition Against Itself’. 7.12-2 4 . 15 1. 9.). pp. in Carman and Marglin (eds.2. H om o Hierarchicus. pp. ‘ Kings. 68-1 n . 1985). swathed in wind.35. 128. 58 Heesterman.87— 8.V. Lon g­ hair reveals everything. The Inner Conflict o f Tradition. pp. 228. pp. O ur bodies are all you mere mortals can see. p. These ascetics.15.’ 284 . 249. 57 L. 97-108. O ’Flaherty s translation. Power and the Goddess’. 762-75. p. 2 Bronkhorst. p.2 (1986). 1993). 49 M anu 7. 61 Dirks. 55 M anu 7. 3. ‘C razy with asceticism. 4 Yoga and renunciation 1 YS 2.17 } .32 . 47 R V 10 . 48 Gupta and Gom brich. p. p. 54 Ath. D oniger’s translation. The Law s o f M anu. State ¿maf Society in M edieval South India (Delhi: O xford U niversity Press. 3 Masefield. p. South Asia Research. Lon g­ hair declares the light. they ride with the rush of the wind.4. p.5-7. 13.

we have here perhaps a precursor of the ‘crooked’ tan trie goddess Kubjika. Olivelle. looking down on all shapes below. pp. Reynolds (eds. 9 Eliade. Exploring Mysticism. p. pp. B. ‘Yoga and the Rg Veda: A n Interpretation of the Kesin H ym n’. 11 4 . 5 Staal. pp. of wild beasts. p. 7 R V 1 . pp. Jo u rn a l o f Indian History. 285 . Turner. 163. 13 (1976).2 (1965). Yoga. Yoga: Im m ortality and Freedom (Princeton University Press. Long-hair drinks from the cup. 1987). 6 Werner. 103. 1991). See also Eck ‘The C ity as Sacred Centre’. 57-8.). pp. Yoga. O ’Flaherty. N ew York and Cologne: Brill. pp. 1 1 Wheatley. their most exciting friend. D er Vratya. The Technology o f Ecstasy (Wellingborough: Crucible. pp. The Samnydsa Upanisads.Notes to pages yH-Hi He sails through the air. 137-8. The Pivot o f the Four Quarters (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co. If Kunamnama is a hunch-backed goddess. Religion and Social Theory (London: S A G E Publications. reading their minds. Kunamnama prepared it for him. 1 1 1 . The ascetic is friend to this god and that god. 14 Gokhale. 289-93. lashed on by gods . 1-3 7 . vol 1: D ie Vratya als nichtbrahmanische Kultgenossenschaften arischer H erkunft (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag. devoted to what is well done. pp. 10 Gombrich. 8. 19 71). ‘The Early Buddhist Elite’. 10 3-4 .. 30-3. 1927). 13 B. Religious Studies. pp. 6 (1962). sharing the drug with Rudra. 1989). on the east and on the west.the ascetic lives in the two seas. Feuerstein.1 4 . is their sweet. 8 Heesterman. pp. 1973). The R ig Veda. The City as Sacred Centre: Essays on Six Asian Contexts (Leiden. friend of gales. in B. p. 185-7. ‘Vratya and Sacrifice’. Smith and H. S. Hauer. 12 Gombrich. pp. The wind has churned it up. Indo-Iranian Jo u rn al. The Broken World o f Sacrifice. Long-hair. He moves with the motion of heavenly girls and youths. Theravada Buddhism . On the Vratyas generally see Eliade. Heesterman. Theravada Buddhism . 391-402. The stallion of the wind. 42. 178-9. 5 1-8 .

1.87-100.6. 149. 1980). and 3. 6.16.9 -10 .42-9. See also Biardeau and Malamoud. H om o Hierarchicus. 4. 32 Ibid. pp. Jo u rn al Asiatique.U. 34 Heesterman. For the materialists.1-7 . p. The Two Traditions o f M editation.5.5 .11. The Principal Upanisads. 37 Biardeau. 1 6 Sutta Nipata 3. 5. 150. History and Doctrines o f the Ajivikas (Delhi: M L B D . 272. 40. 29 R V 10. Translation by Radhakrishnan. p. 38 L. 3. p. L e Sacrifice dans Vlnde ancienne (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.2 . p. 1959)18 Thapar. 1 .3.). see O ’Flaherty (ed.1-3 . ‘Etude sur Porigine de la doctrine du samsara’. 10 . 117 -2 0 . A lso Boyer. 36 M anu 2. For the Jains. 22 Ch. pp. 19 Bronkhorst. pp.1-4.13 . Interpreting Early In dia. 159.8. The Inner Conflict o f Tradition. 24 Sat. Theravada Buddhism .2. 21 Ibid. 286 . 6 . see Chattopadhyaya. 45-53. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions (Berkeley and Los Angeles: U niversity of California Press.12 .U. 1981). Dumont. 1. 20 B A U 6. The Jains (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. see Dundas. pp. 2 (1901).1 .4. 23 Staal. 17 For the Ajlvikas see Basham. 1976). The Principal Upanisads. 3 3 1. Rules Without M eaning. pp.5 . 27 Ibid. H induism . 451-99. 63. 1992). jN 9. 25 B A U 4 . 28 Tait.3 .1. 1. 35 Ibid. Translation by Radhakrishnan.2 . p. Lokayata (N ew Delhi: People’s Publishing House. the Anthropology o f a C ivilization.13.U. 557. 30 For a discussion of this debate and papers presenting various viewpoints.1.Br. 33 Svet. 31 B A U 3. 26 Ch.Notes to pages N2-9 15 Gom brich.1 . 34.Up.

3.Notes to pages tiy-107 39 Inden. T&e Logz’c 0/ (Princeton University Press. 1. 55 Tait. p. 41 B A U 4 .45. 61 F 5 bhdsya 1. Press. 4.42. 53 Svatmarama. 45 Olivelle. 57 /¿¿¿/.2.Smrt. 40 Olivclle.U.52-79. 1991). 94.8-14. 28 vols.6 .2 .n . Samnyasa Upanisadst p.10 . 3 1-5 .18. K undalini. p. 56 Hat. 2 .U. 42 Gombrich.4. 3. 2. 1972). 2 .5 . 281. Critical Edition with Pratika In dex. 107.16-49.65-102. 49 Ibid. 51 Mait.32-8. 48 Kat. 3. p. Radhasoam i Reality.7 -3 . 43 Vis. Samnyasa Upanisads. T&e Hathayogapradipika (Madras: The A dyar Library Research Centre.3 . 287 . 21.1.3-9. pp.U. The Principal Upanisads. Sadhus. in Olivelle. H oly Men o f India (London: Thames and Hudson. Yog. 1. 1993). 1. 3 Ibid. Imagining India. Van Buitenen. Modern Faith Energy from the Depths (Albany: S U N Y 5 Narrative traditions and early Vaisnavism 1 Mahabharata. A n English translation of this edition was initiated by Van Buitenen. The Mahabharata. 9 0 -1. 54 See Silburn.1-2 . 58 Ibid.U. 44 Nar.1. 52 r e 1. p. Samnyasa Upanisads. pp. 46 For a brief though clear account see Hartsuiker. 47 ZL4£ /4. in Radhakrishnan.U. 59 Juergensmeyer. 19 1-2 . 2 Mbh. 1923-72). 1988). (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 60 r e 3. Theravada Buddhism . 50 Svet. 3.12.68-72. 6. 203.23. of which three volumes have appeared. 96.

1 . 3. Pollock. 9 Whalling. 1994). 1991). 17 Vay.n o -4 2 . Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz. Pur. 14 Vis. in Blacker and Loewe (eds.1-6 ).8 . 2.Notes to pages ¡07-16 4 Van Buitenen. vol. The Rdmdyana o f Vdlmiki: A n Epic o f Ancient In dia. The Rise o f the Religious Significance o f Ram a (Delhi: M L B D . The Bhagavadgita. 86. 1983). The Religious Culture o f India: Pow er. 1: Balakdnda (Princeton U niversity Press. 15 R V 9 1.). A lso Bailey.).1. 8 Scheckner.36. 288 . Translation by van Buitenen. vol. 5 There are several editions and translations of the Rdmdyana in India.74-86.Br. p. Pollock.214. ‘ On the Object of Study in Puränic Research. The Future o f Ritual (London and N ew York: Routledge. A recent translation based on the Välmiki text is under the general editorship of Robert R Goldman: Goldman (ed.Pur.G . ‘Ancient Indian C osm ology'. Werden und Wandlungen einer Idealgestalt. 2. M any Rdmayanas (Delhi: O xford University Press. 10 Hardy. i960). Viraha B hakti (Delhi: O xford University Press. 12 See Hardy. 3.). Abhandlungen der Geistes. 1 1 Vis.19 (from the Sat. 1991). I 993X PP. L o ve and Wisdom (Cambridge University Press.37-40.2 2 . 87. 1 1 — 2 .16 -2 1. A lso Hacker. For an account of Indian cosmologies see Gombrich. 16 Ibid. 1. Prahldda. p.7. 1 1 1 : Aranyakdnda (Princeton University Press.Pur. 18 Bh. 19 Mat. 1980). Richman (ed. R ev iew o f the Asian Studies Association o f Australia. 4 . vol. 10. p. 1986). p. stage regular productions of the Rdmdyana. M anu 1. 1984). 10 6 -14. 4. 1. 29. for example. The Bhagavadgitd.21-4 .30 -2.und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse 13 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.3 (1987). 7 Ananda Ashram in N ew York State. 34. 1. 6 P.* 3i~83. 11: Ayodhyäkända (Princeton University Press. 13 Vis. pp. I 975X PP. Ancient Cosmologies (London: George Allen and Unwin.Pur. Three Recent Books on the Puränas’.Pur.154.1.

Yamuna's Vedanta and Pâncarâtra: Integrating the Classical with the Popular (Montana: Scholar’s Press. 47 Ibid.4 . vol. Introduction to the Pâncardtra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhitâ. or Ocean o f Streams o f Story. pp. 13.3. pp. 11. 43 Ibid. 299-301. 24 Ast. reprint 1968). 1. 33 Mbh.).19 . (1924-8.3. de la Vallée Poussin (London: Pali Text Society. 10.6 . reprint 1973).U. 5. 46 Ibid.1. 32 Manu 1. 4. Delhi: M L B D . 1. 12 . 3 5 Tawney (trs.2 1-2 . 29 Ch.2 5 . 3 8 See Schrader. 23 Hardy.337. 1 1 . 34 Mahnar.3 . 13.5-19 289 .34 1.11. pp.4 5 .6 .Br. 39 See Neeval. 12. 30 Bh.Pur.54-5. 65. Translation by van Buitenen.Br. (Madras: A dyar Library and Research Centre.G. 27 Mahhhas. 23-4.Pur.5 -4 9 . 21 Hardy. 3 . 75.G .98. Viraha Bhakti.37. 26 Bh. 4. 37 Mbh.9-23.Sam .G . 3 1. 22 Vis. 10 vols. 5 4 .33. 31 Sat. 24. 1. 63-4. The Religious Culture of India. 9.U.80. pp.117. 201-69. 36 Sat. 3. 17 -18 and passim.3. 18. 13. 44 Ibid.Notes to pages / 16 -2 7 10 Vis. ed.4.4 . 4.9. ed. 1977).1. 18 -19 . Penzer.2 1-3 .17. 25 M ahaniddesa. 28 See Hardy. 1. 41 Bh. 45 Ibid. 4.3 1-3 . 92. 40 Jay. Viraha Bhakti.19.G .3. 1916) 89.9 . 12. pp.742 Bh. 2 . Som adeva’s Kathâ Saritsâgara. The Bhagavadgïtâ.9 .2 1 . 2 .98.10 .8.6.28.

Pey. ch. 7 The twelve are: Poykai. pp. ‘Haunted by Sankaras Ghost: The Srivaisnava Interpretation of Bhagavad Gita 18. 1967). 225-32. Yamuna's Vedanta and Pancaratra. ‘Andal: She Who Rules’. Tirumarikai. 10 Fuller. 14 1. 1978). Manushi. Viraha Bhakti. 107. 1973).4 . 165. Kulacekaran. Texts in Context: Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia (Albany: S U N Y Press. Bhattacharya. L o ve Songs o f Chandidas. Periyalvar.). L o ve Song o f the D ark L o rd (N ew York: Columbia University Press. p. The Tamil Veda (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. The Smile o f M ur ugan (Leiden: Brill. Tamil H eroic Poetry (Oxford University Press. see Carman and Narayanan. 1967). 3 Kailasapathy. 1992). 1968). Nammalvar and Maturakavi. 290 . 17 Majumdar. 6 3 . Tiruppan. Deciphering the Indus Script. 18 Siegel. Tenth Anniversary Issue: Women Bhakta Poets. p. 137-77. 4. In Praise o f Krishna: Songs from the Bengali (N ew York: Anchor Books. 1989). 13 1-5 4 . 34-8. in Timm (ed. Allen and Unwin. 12 For an account of Nammalvar and the place of his text in the Sri Vaisnava tradition. L o ve Songs o f Chandidas (London. pp. 5 Hardy.66’. 82-3. Tirumalicai. 1972). 1963). Putam. 4 Ibid. 50-2 (Delhi: Manushi Trust. 13 Mumme. 1977). Caitanya: His L ife and Doctrine (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 1 1 Neeval. Sacred and Profane Dimensions o f L o ve in Indian Traditions as Exem plified in The Gltagovinda o f Jayad eva (O xford University Press. 8 See Meenakshi. Hardy. 258-64. 12 4 -3 1. pp. Dim ock & Levertov. 1969). Aphorisms on the Gospel o f D ivin e L o ve or the N arada Bhakti Sutras (Madras: Ramakrishna Math. 6 Parpola. p. 14 Stoler-Miller. 1. pp. 16 Bhattacharya. 9 Tyagisananda. pp. p. 69-84. Tontaratippoti. pp. pp. 1989). Viraha Bhakti. 15 For some good translations of these poets see Bhattacharya.Notes to pages 12H-40 6 The love of Visnu 1 Zvelebil. The Cam phor Flame. pp. L o ve Songs o f Vidyapati (London: Allen and Unwin. 2 Ibid. Antal. pp.

1988). The Cam phor Flame. 1984). Dimock. 33 Hill. 32 Van der Veer. 25 Wilson (trs. Jn an eshw ar’s Gita: A Rendering o f the Jnaneshw ari (Albany: S U N Y Press. see Callewaert & Friedlander. The N e w Face o f H induism . an English translation o f Tulsi D as’s Ramacaritmanasa (Calcutta: O xford University Press. 1 976). 32-3. The Cam phor Flame. 42 . 1959). in Zelliott & Bernsten (eds. The H oly Lake o f the Acts o f Ram a. The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu vol. The Cult o f Vitoba (Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute. 291 . Fuller. 26 See Deleury. 2 10 -14 .). Le rituel de la dévotion krsnaite (Pondicherry: Institut Français d’Indologie. 23 Barz. the Swam inarayan Religion (Cambridge University Press. ‘On the Road: A Maharashtrian Pilgrimage’. 20 Bon Maharaj (trs. 21 See Joshi. 1973). 1988). reprint 1983). 1969). pp.). 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 24 Williams. Essays on Religion in Maharashtra (Albany: S U N Y Press. A lso Fuller. 1952). pp. 1989). 1966). The Bijak o f K abir (San Francisco: N orth Point Press. 1965). vol.Noirs to pages 140-6 19 For an account of the Sahajiyas and the hauls. i960). see Dasgupta. Mysticism in India: The Poet-Saints o f Maharashtra (Albany: S U N Y Press. Obscure Religious Cults (Calcutta: M ukhopadhyay. 31 Hess & Singh. 87-93. pp. 30 Vaudeville.). 1 (Vrindaban: Institute of Oriental Philosophy. The L ife and Works o f Raidas (Delhi: Manohar. The Place o f the H idden Moon (Chicago University Press. 163-9. Acting as a Way o f Salvation: A Study o f Ràgânuga Bhakti (N ew York and O xford: O xford U niversity Press. Ranade. p. 1992). 29 For an account of Raidas. 28 For an excellent personal account of the pilgrimage see Karve. 1 9 8 3 ) . 1988).). Gods on Earth: The M anagement o f Religious Experience and Identity in a North Indian Pilgrimage Centre (London: Athlone. pp. 27 Tulpe (trs. Kabir. The L o ve o f Krishna: The Krsnakarnamrta o f Lilasuka Bilvam angala (Leiden: Brill. 22 Haberman. 1974). The Bhakti Sect ofVallabhdcarya (Faridabad: Thompson Press.

pp.30 . 2 Benedict. 10 Bhandarkar. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’. 56-8.Sam. 190-8.). p.U . 664-90.20. 1985). 19 79 ). Collins and Lukes (eds. The Future o f R itual. p. Sanderson.1 . 18 Pas. 6 Tait. 1.64. 5 The linga is often described as an ‘aniconic’ representation. 1 9 8 7 ) .23. 17 Kur. pp. 16 . A Board of Scholars (Delhi: A IT M . Pasupata-sutram with Pancartha-bhasya o f Kaundinya. reprint 1983). 1. p p .1 . Reissued as Siva. 16 Chakraborti. in Carrithers.9 1 . 35 Scheckner. N ew Delhi: Asian Educational Services. 14 Sanderson.Su.37.5 1.2. Vaisnavism. ‘Purity and Power Am ong the Brahmans of Kashm ir’. Philosophy. 13 1-8 3 .Sam. 15 Mbh.14. Non-renunciation (Delhi: O xford University Press. ‘T h e Satarudriya\ in N a g a to m i.66.10 . 1. the Erotic Ascetic (N ew York: O xford University Press.6 6 . 7 5 . Ingalls (D o rd re c h t: R e id e l.Pur. Patterns o f Culture ( 19 3 4 .’ pp. ‘ Personalizing Ram ayan: Ramnamis and Their Use of the Ramacaritmanas\ in Richman. 13 Sanderson.5 .). 3. Asceticism and Eroticism in the M ythology o f Siva (Oxford U niversity Press. 6. M a tila l and M a sso n (eds. Sanskrit and Indian Studies: Essays in H onour o f D aniel H. The linga can therefore be described as an ‘aniconic icon’ in the sense of ‘icon’ as a ‘spiritualization5 of a physical form. meaning that it is not a human representation. trs. 1 1 Sribha. London: RKP. 292 . reprint 1 9 7 1 ) . 2. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions. The Category o f the Person: Anthropology. santiparvan 349.U. 4 . 12 Kur. A . 237. History (Cambridge University Press. H. 7 Saiva and tantric religion 1 See Madan.9. 1 7 . pp.4 7 . Vaj.16 -43. 3 Siva-Purana. 8 See G o n d a . 1970) 2. 165. 1981).69. 9 Svet.Pur. pp. 1973). M any Ram ay anas. 7 Ja b . 4 O ’Flaherty. Saivism and M inor Religious Systems (19 13 . 1.Notes topages 14 6 -5 6 34 Lamb.

pp. p. 50. 37 Parry. See also Davis. 1987). 51-78 .30. pp. 668.69.N otes to pages 15 6 -6 6 19 Kur.1-24 . 1988). 24 Sanderson. 36 S a n d e rso n . Bulletin de VEcole française d'Extrêm e-O rient. R itual in an Oscillating Universe: Worshipping Siva in M edieval India (Princeton University Press. 1981).2 . D yczkow ski. pp. 35 Sp. 125-96. 1. Kramrisch. 34 Brunner-Lachaux. The Elder's Verses. 30 Brunner. 667-9. 28 Bharati. 1968. 2 1 Sanderson. pp. Mrgendrâgama: section des rites et section du comportement (Pondicherry: Institut Français d’ Indologie. ‘ S aivism and the T an tric T ra d itio n s ’ . Somasambhupaddhati. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’. 1977). 1985). The Doctrine o f Vibration (Albany: S U N Y Press. 164-84. Siva. 22 Manu 11.20. 1. ‘U n Tantra du nord: le Netra Tantra’. 19 71). p. pp. D eath and the Regeneration o f L ife (Cambridge University 293 . 29 Norm an. 668. 1963. 27 One text which does is the M rgendrâgama. 259-65. 123. ‘ S aivism and the T an tric T ra d itio n s ’ . 33 S an d e rso n . The Canon o f the Saivâgam a and the Kubjikâtantras o f the Western Kaula Tradition (Albany: S U N Y Press.Nir. ‘Sacrificial Death and the Necrophagus Ascetic’. 12 3-2 7 . 31 Sanderson. Indian Religion (London: Curzon. pp. See Brunner-Lachaux. 3 vols. 25 Snellgrove. the Erotic Ascetic. pp.17 . 1987). The Presence o f Siva (Princeton University Press. in Burghardt and Cantille (eds. in Parry and Bloch (eds). ‘Purity and Pow er’.). 23 O ’Flaherty. 14 . in spite of the immense disparity between the two philosophies’ . p. 1970). ‘The Aghori Ascetics of Benares’. 26 On the obscure terminological symbolism or ‘intentional language’ (sandhabhâsa) of the Tantras see Bharati. 27: ‘tantric sadhana follows a single pattern. pp. 20 Pas. 32 D yczkow ski. Vajrayâna Buddhist and Hindu tantric sadhana is indistinguishable. 3 1. p. pp. 4.14. 19 0 -216 . pp. 61 (1974). The Tantric Tradition (London: Rider. Indo-Tibetan Buddhism : Indian Buddhists and Their Tibetan Successors (London: Serindia Publications. vol. 1991).7 3 . 11 (London: Luzac. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions*. 1985). 152-60. 665-6.Pur. p.Su. Parry. pp. The Tantric Tradition. (Pondicherry: Institut Français d’Indologie.

169-207. pp. see Kinsley. For a very good general account of the Goddess and goddesses. 1994).). 44 For an account of Kerala Tantrism see Unni. p. See Stein. Death in Banaras (Cambridge University Press. Speaking o f Siva . ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’. pp. 41 Peterson. Yogimhrdaya a v e c le commentaire D ipika d ’Am rtananda (Paris: Diffusion de Boccard. 1988). 1982). 1973). State and Society in M edieval South India. The Smile o f M urugan. 269-301. pp. Renouncer (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. pp. 269-92. Parry. Flood.).7 1 / 1 38 See Padoux. 1993). 134. Mantras et diagrammes rituels dans VHindouisme (Paris: C N R S . 46. 1989). For a modern exponent of the Pratyabhijna. 13 -14 . Sanderson. however. 1990). in Padoux (ed. 39 F or both forms of Trika ritual see Sanderson. Kashm ir Saivism: The Secret Supreme (Albany: Universal Saiva Trust.3 (1978). 185-95. been questioned. 45 Ramanujan. pp. i 994)> PP. pp. in Madan (ed. H indu Goddesses: Visions o f the Fem inine in the H indu Religious Tradition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of 294 . 6 1-5 . 1986). Poems to S iva. 1-7 5 . pp. Body and Cosmology in Kashmir Saivism (San Francisco: Mellen Research U niversity Press. ‘Hindu Female Deities as a Resource for the Contem porary Rediscovery of the Goddess’. 43 Zvelebil.Notes to pages 166-74 Press. Way o f L ife. Speaking o f Siva (Harmonds worth: Penguin. 46 Turner. 91. pp. see Lakshman Jee. T h e ideology of the Householder among the Kashmiri Pandits’.pp. The R itual Process (Harmondsworth: Penguin. L e Coeur de la Yogini. 1974). The Hymns o f the Tamil Saints (Princeton University Press. 8 The Goddess and Sakta traditions 1 Gross. Women. ‘ Introduction’. Peasant. 47 Ramanujan. King. Householder. Tantra Samuccaya o fN arayan a (Delhi: N ag Publishers. Androgynes and O ther M ythical Beasts. pp. p.). in Ganapati Sastri (ed. 40 Madan. pp. 2 O ’Flaherty. 8-10. 1982). 42 Feudalism as a model for understanding south Asia has. 80-154.2 J I . Jou rn al o f the American Academ y o f Religion. 672-74. ‘Mandala and the Agamic Identity of the Trika of Kashm ir’. 223-49.

3. 1981).113 . 9 K in sle y . reprint 1977). The Secret o f the Three Cities: An Introduction to Sakta Hinduism (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.9. p. pp. 1918). p. p. pp. IllutU i h. 91. The Cult o f D raupadl.Pur. 2. A lso see Brooks. 1990). 687. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’.19 . Madras: Ganesh & Co. vol. H indu Tantric and Sakta Literature. 7.27. 16 Ibid. See C .60. H indu Tantric and Sakta Literature.5. 18 Sastri and Srinivasa Ayyangar (trs. This text was made comparatively famous by an early British exponent and scholar of Tantrism.19 . 17 Goudriaan and Gupta.59. The Srim ad D evi Bhagavatam . H indu Tantric and Sakta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. pp. M. 3 O ’Flaherty. Sacred Books of the Hindus 26 (N ew Delhi: Oriental Books.Br. See also N.Br. Saundaryalahari o f Sri Sam kara-Bhagavatpada (Madras: Theosophical Publishing House. v. M. Women. p. 1986). Androgynes and O ther Mythical Beasts. for a comparison of the myth in other Puranas.23.. The Saktas (Calcutta: Y M C A Publ ishing I louse.2. 2 95 . 8. The Triumph o f the Goddess: Canonical Models and Theological Visions o f the D evi-B hagavata Purana (Albany: S U N Y Press. 79-80. I 52“ 510 Hiltebeitel. See C. pp. History of the Sakta Religion (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 1 977)5 Shastri.47. H indu Goddesses. 689. Brown. 1 1 Dbh. 6 Sat. Arthur Avalon (alias Sir John Woodroffe). Payne. 318. N. The Canon o f the Saivdgam a. 14 D yczkow ski. 107-9. 15 Sanderson.6. 5 R V 1 .3. 12 Sanderson. 13 Goudriaan and Gupta. 8 Sat. p. 119 . 64-8. ‘Saivism and the Tantric Traditions’. The Lalitasaharanama with the Sauhhagyahhaskarahhasya o f Bhaskararaya (Bombay: N irnaya Sagar. Goudriaan and Gupta. 5. 2. Brown. 1974).3.1.iryya. 8.Notes to pages ¡7 5 -^ 7 California Press. pp. 4 Vijnanananda (trs. 1988). 7 R V 10. 59-64. who published it in his Tantrik Texts series (no. 1 (University of Chicago Press.60. 3.1. 674-8.). pp. 1933).2.). 87-92.2. 1990). 1935). The Triumph o f the Goddess.

See Shaw. 22 O ’Flaherty. pp. 34 O ’Flaherty.21: ‘A s a man embraced by his beloved knows neither the outer nor the inner.3. 28. Body. pp. p. 26 Eliade. 1991) 10.). 388-432. The Place o f the H idden .) 28 See Bharati. The Tantric Tradition. the Concept o f the Word in Selected H indu Tantras (Albany: S U N Y Press. Vâc. 19 3 -2 10 . 23-40. pp. LTm age D ivin e: culte et méditation dans l'Hindouism e (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. pp. 29 This picture of the socially subordinate role of women has been recently challenged with regard to Buddhist Tantra. Passionate Enlightenm ent: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton University Press. Jo u rn al o f the American Oriental Society. 16 . pp. 20 Sanderson. 202. 236-40. pp. 27 BA U 4. The Law s o f M anu (Harmondsworth: Penguin. in Padoux (éd. ‘Women in the Saiva/Sàkta Ethos’. 1973).5°296 .3 (1992). p. 1975). 112 . pp.Notes to pages 1 tij-9 4 19 Sec Bharati. Moon. H indu Views and Ways and the H m du-M uslim Interface (Santa Barbara: R ossE rickson. 258. The Secret o f the Three Cities. pp. ‘The Visualization of the Deities of the Trika’. 33 Das. 1994). 190-8. 24 Brooks. so a man embraced by the essence of wisdom knows neither the outer nor the inner/ (M y translation. p. 23 TA 29. in Leslie. ‘Purity and Pow er’. Eliade. p. 42. 21 Padoux.97-8. 80-2. p . 105-24. 25 Sanderson. 24.88. 1982). 2 5 0 -1. ‘Purity and Pow er’. 1990). 32 Dasgupta. H indu Myths (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 349.7-10 . pp. ‘Problematic Aspects of the Sexual Rituals of the Bauls of Bengal’. Obscure Religious Cults’ Dimock. 35 K B T . 36 Pocock. Yoga. M ind and Wealth: A Study o f B e lie f and Practice in an Indian Village (Oxford: Blackwell. 31 Kau. Gupta. 30 Sanderson. 1990). Roles and Rituals fo r H indu Women. Yoga.

297 . Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. 3 Manu 2. 10 M anu 2. 39 Hiltebeitel. 128. 6 See D u v v u r y . p p . x v iii. 8 Duvvury. Roles and Rituals fo r H indu Women. 91 1. 20 Fuller. Play . 182. 1. p. 9 Hindu ritual 1 Staal. H om o Hierarchicus. d isse rta tio n (P h ilad e lp h ia: U n iv e r s it y o f P e n n sy lv a n ia . Language and Sym bolic Power.Gr. Rules Without M eaning . The D ivine Hierarchy (New York: Colum bia University Press. 1 7 K n ip e . pp.9. 5 For this reason Pierre Bourdieu has referred to rites of passage as ‘rites of institution’ . p p. 18 See F re e m a n . 2 Ap. 1975).5 . Symbolism and Ritual. 1 . p . p. Play. pp. 16 Parry. pp.36. Symbolism and Ritual: A Study o f Tamil Brahman Womens Rites o f Passage ( N e w Y o r k : P e te r L a n g . 119 . Dumont.1. 1 9 9 1) . p. p. The Forest o f Symbols (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. P h . Religious Encounters with Death ( U n iv e rs ity P a rk : P e n n sy lv a n ia State U n iv e r s it y P re ss. 64-6. Purity and Violence: Sacred P ow er in the Teyyam Worship o f M alabar. 19 7 7 ). 1970). 38 Babb. The Cult o f Draupadi. 1 1 L e slie .1 4 . Play. The Cam phor Flame. 12 Duvvury. in R e y n o ld s and W au gh (eds. D eath in Banaras. 3 . pp.4 . n o . ‘ Sap in d ik a ran a: T h e H in d u R ite o f E n t r y in to H e a v e n ’ .67. M anu 2.). Bourdieu. 15 1-9 0 .S. H indu Samskaras (D e lh i: M L B D .3 7 . p. 26.16.Nates ta pages 19 4 . 1 1 3 . 117 -2 6 .S.Gr.19 .x x . 19 See O ’Flaherty.7 . 4 Turner. p. 14 L. 111-2 4 . 19 9 1) . 93.2 10 37 Fuller. 1 . 9 As. P an d ey . 7 Manu 2. 229. 29. 1 1 . 1. Symbolism and Ritual. pp. 13 Manu 3 . 1969).D . The Cam phor Flam e. 15 Ibid.

9931 Hiltebeitel. 1992). Violence and the Sacred.1.3" 538 Ap. 23 See Eck. p. pp. 36 Freeman. 25 Daniel. 24 F or a first-hand account of the Kumbha Mela in 1959 see Bharati. pp. 37 See Alper (ed. R itu al in an Oscillating Universe. Flags o f Flame. in Two South Indian Buffalo Sacrifices’. 1989). 30 Hiltebeitel. pp. p. 2 4 . V i . L'U om o.2 1 21 See Vaidyanathan. Los Angeles. 1993). Medusa's H air (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Understanding Mantras (Albany: S U N Y Press. 27 Davis. Language and Symbolic Power. pp.S. 35 See Obeyesekere. London: U niversity of California Press.). Lutze and M alik (eds. Mass: Harvard University Press.929 Girard. Banaras: City o f Light (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 22 See V. p. Sri Krishna: The Lord o/ ( ¡uruvayur (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 378. Cosmos and Society: Indo-European Themes o f Creation and Destruction (Cambridge. Turner. F lu id Signs. 26 Pingree. O ther People's Myths: The C ave o f Echoes. ‘O n the Handling of the Meat. 1. 245-78. 1986).8 -15 . 34 Bourdieu. H indus o f the Himalayas: Ethnography and Change. 1984). 22 8 -31. pp. pp. (N ew York: Macmillan. 32 Lincoln. Astral and Mathematical Literature.). 33 O ’Flaherty. 1984) for an account of possession as both cultural formation and an expression of personal biography. 10 1-9 . 298 . The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure (Harmondsworth: Penguin. M yth.S. 9. p. PP. p. 19 1. and Related Matters’.1/2 (1985). 186. The Ochre Robe (Santa Barbara: Ross Erikson. ‘Performing Possession: Ritual and Consciousness in the Teyyam C om plex’.Notes to pages 2 ¡0 . ‘O n the Handling of the Meat. 28 Berreman. Manohar Publishers.Jyotihsdstra. 99. in Bruckner. A H istory of Indian Literature 4 (Weisbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 1969). 1988). 1981). Studies in South Asian Folk Culture (N ew Delhi. 117 -2 6 . 116 . 80-154. 2nd edn (Berkeley. and Related Matters. 1972). 1980). pp.

). 15 Bh. Texts and Structures (Delhi: M L B D .U.1 3 1 . p p . 95-148. 6 Ch. pp. 7.3.62. 17 Ibid. 3 -4 1. 299 . pp.2-4. 263-86. Raja. The R ig Veda. 20 -1. A N et Cast Wide: Investigations into Indian Thought In M emory o f D a v id Friedm an (Newcastle upon Tyne: Grevatt and Grevatt. 4 Ch. 1963).Notes to pages 22 2-34 39 Manu 2. p. pp. pp. 40 R V 3. 1988). 10 Hindu theology and philosophy 1 Halbfass. Translation by Radhakrishnan. 2 Ibid. 6.8. A Dualist Tradition in Indian Philosophy (Delhi: M L B D . Translation by O Tlaherty.Kar. 1990). 7.10. Indian Theories o f Meaning (Madras: A dyar Library and Research Centre. 6 9 3 . 25-6. 41 Tait. pp. 1. 1 0 . 2. The Principal Upanisads. 14.Up. 43 Killingly. 1987). 16 Sam. Theology A fter Vedanta: A n Experim ent in Comparative Theology (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications.25. 12 Clooney. 6 . pp. pp.4. 1986). 5 R V 10 . 1 . 21. in Lipner (ed. H indu Theology: Themes. 4 4 7 -9 . pp. ^•I -3.129. India and Europe. A n Essay in Understanding (Albany: S U N Y Press. p.G . 3 5 . The Philosophy o f the Grammarians.8 5.7 0 5 . 8 Vakpad. See also Coward.1-2 . 13 See Larson and Bhattacharya.125. ‘ Om: the sacred syllable in the Veda’. 10 1-5 . 1993). Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies (Princeton University Press. Sam khya. 37-40.See Coward and Raja. The Sphota Theory o f Language (Delhi: M L B D . p. 62-4.U.23. 2. The Principal Upanisads .U. 9 C ow ard and Raja.U.1. 42 M andukya Upanisad 1 in Radhakrishnan. 7 Ch. 10 Ibid. reprint 1991). pp. 1 1 On these three positions see Pereira.1 1 .23. 14 Ch. 1987). The Philosophy o f the Grammarians. 4 0 -1.3. 3 R V 10.

19 See Clooney. 32. Yogavdrttika of Vijñdnabhikfu. 20 Jha. 24 See Clooney. 28 B SB 1. 1974). SBE 48 (Delhi: M L B D . 1978). 1988) for a history of the later Advaitins. The Vedanta Sütras with Comm entary by Ram anuja. 27 Bharati.). 1907) and Kumárila s Tantravdrtika. 38 (Delhi: A V F Books. 302. Van 300 . See Dasgupta. 47-68. 15 1. vol. 1965). Rediscovering the Pürva Mimdmsa o f Ja im in i (Vienna: De N obili Research Library. Van Buitenen. p. 1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 6. Delhi: M L B D . ‘Binding the Text. (Delhi: M L B D . p. 1981). pp. p. reprint 1983). Vedanta Sutras. reprint 1976). 3 (with some amendment of the translation). 1974). Texts in Context. N . Purva Mimdmsa in Its Sources (Bañaras Hindu University Press. Vedanta as Philosophy and Com m entary’. 1990). 1958). Tradition and Reflection. Revelation and Reason in A dvaita Vedanta (Delhi: M L B D . 1942). 23-40. Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia (Albany: S U N Y Press. Mass: Harvard University Press. A dvaita Vedanta Up to Samkara and his Pupils. Philosophy and Argum ent in Late Vedanta (Boston and London: Reidel. p. p. 1992). 22 Clooney. 116 . 26 Ibid. Brahmasütrabhasya (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. Gambirananda. pp.7 3 . Vedanta Sütras. 11 (1922. 29 See Halbfass. 1983).1 in Thibaut. The Saundaryalahari or Flood o f Beauty (Cambridge. Thinking Ritually. 9 -12 . 23 Raja. pp. Halbfass. p. 192. 1987). pp. Murty. 21 Halbfass. 25 Potter. F or translations into English of the Brahm a Sütra Bhasya. SBE 34. Indian Theories o f M eaning. There are English translations by Jha of Kumárila Bhattas Slokavdrtika (Calcutta: Asiatic Society. Ram anuja on the Bhagavadgita: A Condensed Rendering o f his Gitabhdsya with Copious Notes and an Introduction (Delhi: M L B D .Notes to pages 2 3 6 -4 1 18 Rukmani. 31 Thibaut. Theology A fter Vedanta. vol. Tradition and Reflection. Brown. H indu Views and Ways and the H indu-M uslim Interface. pp. Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies 3 (Delhi: M L B D . 2 vols. History o f Indian Philosophy. H um an Reason and Vedic Revelation in the Philosophy o f Sankara. in Rimm (ed. 23-30. 1981). (Reinbeck: Verlag fiir Orientalistische Fachpublikation. see Thibaut. 30 Granoff. Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik 9.

pp. Eastern Religions A n d Western Thought (Oxford University Press.). pp. 19 71). F or Kashmir Saiva theology see D yczkow ski. 35 See Dasgupta. 1974). 3 6 The A nuvyâkhyâna is translated into French by Siauve. 1992). pp. 10 1-2 0 3 . Serie Orientale Roma 9 (Rome: Is M E O . The Doctrine o f Vibration. Saiva Siddhânta Theology (Delhi: M L B D . Body and Cosmology in Kashm ir Saivism . Political and Religious Reform in Nineteenth Century India 301 . Ram Mohan R oy: Social. vol. Dhavam ony L o ve o f G o d according to Saiva Siddhânta (Oxford: Clarendon Press. The Bhagavad Gïtâ and Commentaries. vol. The Aesthetic Experience According to A bhinavagupta. v . 42 See. 1956). iv . 37 Rau. 43 Radhakrishnan. Dasgupta. The Vedanta Sutras with Comm entary by Ram anuja. 1957). 33 For Ramanujas theology see Carman. 11. A History o f Indian Philosophy. 175-9. and The Stanzas on Vibration (Albany: S U N Y Press. Ramanuja's Vedantasa nig rah a (Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute. Contemporary Indian Philosophy (London: George Allen and Unwin. The Bhagavad Gïtâ and Commentaries According to S ri M adw acharya’s Bhàsyas (Madras: Minerva Press. Sântarasa and Abhinavagupta's Philosophy o f Aesthetics (Poona: Deccan College 1969). vii-xviii. The Sym bol o f the Body in the Work o f Teilhard de Chardin and Ram anuja (Cambridge University Press. p. The Theology o f Ram anuja: An Essay in Interreligious Understanding (N ew Haven and London: Yale University Press. 39 For Saiva Siddhânta theology see Dunuwila. 1939). 1906). 1 956). 5 5-74. 40 See Flood. 1974). A History o f Indian Philosophy. 436. Gnoli. pp. 1992).Notts to pages 2 4 3 -5 2 Buitenen. 41 See Masson and Patwardhan. The Body D ivin e. 38 For a thorough account of Madhva’s teaching see Dasgupta. for example. The Gïtà commentary is translated into English by Rau. vol. 32 Thibaut. 11 Hinduism and the modern world 1 For an account of R o y and his w ork see Craw ford. Chatterjee (ed. History o f Indian Philosophy. 34 See Hunt Overzee. pp. La voie vers la connaissance de D ieu selon VAnuvyâkhyâna de M adhva (Pondicherry: Institut Français dTndologie. 1985). 20 -1.

Räm akrishna Paramahamsa. The L ife and Letters o f Raja Rammohan R oy (Calcutta: Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. Javeri. The standard biography of Gandhi in eight volumes is Tendulkar. 267-87. 1 7 .2 (1975). Green and C o. 48. pp. A n Autobiography or The Story o f M y Experiments with Truth (Harmondsworth: Penguin. The Brahm o Samäj and the Shaping o f the M odern Indian M ind (Princeton University Press. 116 . 12 See Anderson and Damle. 1993. 4 Richards (ed. 1959). pp. H indu Views and Ways and the H indu-M uslim Interface. ‘The Hindu Renaissance and its Apologetic Pattern’. Great Swan (Boston: Shambala. 19 15 to 1926’. 8 Gandhi. pp. Newcastle c upon Tyne: Grevatt and Grevatt. A Sourcebook o f M odern H induism (London and Dublin: Curzon Press. Western Images o f the B hagavad Gita (London: Duckworth. 1987). For an interesting. 1900). 1987). Rammohun Roy in H indu and Christian Tradition: The /’ ape Lectures 1990. p. The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh and H indu Revivalism (Boulder: Westview Press. 29. 9. 1982). p. 68. Räm akrishna. 1962). 6 See Bharati. 1978).).1 8 . 1 991). p.Notes to pages (New York: Paragon House. 56. The Philosophy o f G an dhi (London and Dublin: Curzon Press. The Gospel o f Sri Rämakrishna (N ew York: Rämakrishna-Vivekänanda Center. see Sil.2 (1970). K. M ahatma: L ife and Work o f Mohandas Karam chand G andhi (Bombay: V. Nikhilananda. M odern Asian Studies. p. 19 5 1-4 ). and H ixon. ‘The Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian National Congress. 1982). 7 See Sharpe. For a one-volume biography see Fischer. 302 . p. 471. 2 Kopf. The Ochre R obe. 1985). 1985). 1980). if somewhat reductionistic.. 3 Collet. Jou rn al o f Asian Studies. Killingly. psychological analysis of Rämakrishna. A Psychological Profile (Leiden: Brill. 1 1 On origins of the Mahä Sabhä see Gordon. also Bharati. 1993). 10 Bharati. 9 Quoted in Richards. 14 5 -7 1. His Life and Sayings (London: Longmans. 5 For an account of Ramakrishna’s life see Müller. The L ife o f M ahatma G andhi (Bombay: Bharatya Vidya Bhavon.

74-5 (1993). 20 Knott. see Halbfass. 18 Gold. 1986). H indu Trinidad (London: Macmillan. SH A P Mailing (London: Commission for Racial Equality. 10 2 . 25 Lanman. pp. 14 For an account of the Jana SaAgh and BJP see ibid. 1991). p. 3°3 . India and Europe. in H ayward (ed. 22 See Kumar. 1884).). 138-272. iN. The History o f Doing: An Illustrated Account o f M ovements fo r Women's Rights and Feminism in India. 24 Roth and Bothlingk.Notts to pages 263-69 13 Graham. ‘Rational Action and Uncontrolled Violence: Explaining Hindu Communalism’. 16 Guardian. S H A P Mailing (London: Commission for Racial Equality. pp. 1986). 21 For studies of Hindus in diaspora. 22. 1992). A R eader on the Sanskrit Grammarians (Cambridge. 1973). H indu Nationalism and Indian Politics (Cambridge University Press. ‘Organized Hinduism: From Vedic Truth to Hindu N urture’. for example. 1990).).. Mass. 1994). Parameswara-jnyana-goshti: A D ialogue o f the Know ledge o f the Supreme L ord in which are compared the claims o f Christianity and H induism (Cambridge: Deighton. ‘Hinduism in Britain’. see. 17 See Manushi. pp. 29 Ibid. 22 (1991). Vertovec. World Religions in Education: Religions in Britain. 15 See. 1986). and London: M IT Press. p. 25. Petersburg Worterbuch (Delhi: M L B D . Hinduism in Leeds (University of Leeds Press. ‘The Hindu Renaissance and Its Apologetic Patterns’. p. 23 Bharati. Text and Vocabulary and Notes (Massachussets: Harvard University Press. ‘Sketches of Formal Hindu N urture’. 19 Nesbitt and Jackson. reprint 1991). 28 For an excellent account of western scholarship and India. 27 Williams. p. 79 (Novem ber-Decem ber 1994). in Martz and A ppleby (eds. for example. 1856). A lso Gold. 26 See Staal (ed. Fundamentalisms O bserved (University of Chicago Press. Religion. in H ayw ard (ed. St. 7 December 1992. 273. p. pp.. A Sanskrit Reader. 357-76. 22-32.) World Religions in Education: Religions in Britain. p. 10. Bell and Co. Knott. 1800-1990 (London: Verso Press. the graphic accounts of Shiv Sena violence in Manushi.). 531-9 3.

Notes to pages 2 6 9 -7 2 30 Nietzsche. pp. 34 See for example Capra. The Spiritual Teaching o f Ram ana Maharshi (Boulder and London: Shambala. 37 Yogananda. Ghose. 3 -14 .. The Path o f the Masters: The Science o f Surat Shabd Yoga (Beas: Radha Soami Satsang. On H im self Com piled from Notes and Letters (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 1986). 1987). see Eban (ed. 3 1 For an account of the influence of the East on Jung. On the idea of ‘holy madness’ in the teaching and life of many western gurus see Feuerstein.). 1975). 32 Melton. 33 Jayakar. M aharishi the Guru. The Story o f M aharishi Mahesh Yogi (Bombay: Pearl Publications. 1972). The Twilight of the Idols and the Anti Christ (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1982). 1983). 1985). 1984). On Hare Krsna see Knott.2/3 (O ct.). Ghose. pp. Radhasoam i Reality. 1. 39 The literature put out by these movements and teachers is vast. 1972). Accounts of some of these groups can be found in Barker (ed. 1954). The Autobiography o f a Yogi (London: Rider and Co. 38 J. M y Sweet L ord (Wellingborough: Aquarian Press. Synthesis o f Yoga (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. See also Juergensmeyer. 56-9.-D ec. N e w Religious Movements: A Perspective fo r Understanding Society (N ew York: Mellen. 304 . 1984). 1970). On Rajneesh see Thompson and Heelas. though there are comparatively few scholarly studies. The N e w Religions (N ew York: Crossroad Press.A n Exploration o f the Parallels Between M odern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (London: Flamingo Paperback. The Philosophy o f India and Its Impact on American Thought (Springfield: Charles C. 1984). 19 71). 1950). 35 Ghose. Religion Today. Johnson. ‘H o w “ Indian” are the new Indian Religions?’. For the Maharishi. see Coward. 1968). The L ife D ivin e (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The M other As R evealled to M e (Banaras: Shree Anandamayi Sangha. For Anandamayima see Das Gupta. ‘The Attitude of Americans Toward Hinduism from 1883 to 1983 with Special Reference to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ (unpublished paper. Thomas. Riepe. 1986). Needham. 1973). A Jou rn al o f Contemporary Religions. The Tao o f Physics ./. Krishnamurti: A Biography (Delhi: Penguin. Hardy. 1968) pp.). H oly Madness (N ew York: Arkana. The Way o f the H eart (Wellingborough: Aquarian Press. 15 -16 . 1990). 36 M iller and M iller (eds. Ju n g and Eastern Thought (Albany: S U N Y Press.

Plate i A Saiva holy man by the Kanyakum arl Temple. Tamilnadu .

From the Siva N ataraja Temple. half serpent. Siva gave him this boon so that he would not crush insects with his feet. as half man. Cidam baram . Tamilnadu .Plate 2 A mythical representation o f Patanjali. the Gram m arian and possibly the author o f the Yoga Su tra.


A popular representation .P late 4 Lord Krsna with Radha.

A popular representation .Plate j L ord Siva the ascetic.

the Dancing Siva.P late 6 Siva Nataraja. c. 1 100 c e . Bronze.

Cidam baram .Plate 7 A Siva liñga covered in petals.

or thirteenth-century representation from O rissa. with his Sakti seated upon his knee I___________________________________________________________________________ . shows him with five heads.Plate 8 Lord Ganesa This unusual twelfth.

Siva Nataraja Temple.Plate 9 The Goddess D urga slaying the buffalo demon. Cidam baram .

Plate 10 The ferocious Goddess Cam unda seated upon a corpse. eighth or ninth century c e . O rissa.

the monkey-god .Plate ii Hanuman.

Madras . Plate 13 The Kapalesvari Temple.Plate 12 The Descent o f the Goddess Ganga or A rju na’s Penance. Mahabalipuram. seventh century c e In this rock carving we can see an ascetic (Arjuna?) practising austerity (tapas) and representations o f various divine beings. including N agas in the Ganges itself . Tamilnadu.

Plate 15 A young girl offering a flower to Lord Krsna’s footprint .

Karnataka . Bhagamandala.Plate 16 A serpent (naga) shrine.

Kerala . Nileshwaram .Plate iy Teyyam Shrine housing three teyyam deities.

housing the two teyyam deities. Kerala .Plate 1 8 Teyyam Shrine.

Plate 20 The teyyam deity Visnumurti .


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1. 13 (1976). R. K. Williams. EthnoMycological Studies 1. The Yogi and the Mystic.).).). Gods on Earth: The M anagement o f Religious Experience and Identity in a North Indian Pilgrim age Centre. 1974. 1856. Parameswara-jnyana-goshti: A D ialogue o f the Know ledge o f the Supreme L ord in which are compared the claims o f Christianity and Hinduism . Cambridge: Deighton. 1988. G. Whalling. C . Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. P. Tantra Samuceaya o f Narayana. 19 71. the Swaminarayan Religion. The L o ve o f Krishna: The Krsnakarnamrta o f Lilasuka Bilvam angala. Werner. ‘Yoga and the Rg Veda: A n Interpretation of the Kesin H ym n ’. 1992. Sacred Books of the Hindus 26. Sastri (ed. N . 327 . The Religions o f India. ‘Introduction’. pp. M. N ew Delhi: Oriental Books.. Cambridge University Press. 1-7 5 . Williams. Wasson. O xford: Clarendon Press. Bell and C o. N ew York: Harcourt. ‘O n Localization of the Vedic Texts and Schools’. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 25. Vertovec. Unni. The Rise o f the Religious Significance o f Ram a. Chicago: Aldine Publishing C o. (trs. Delhi: N ag Publishers. Sri Krishna: The L ord o f Guruvayur. 289-93. London: Curzon Press. Leuven University. Weber. R. London: Curzon Press. Aphorisms on the Gospel of D ivine Love or the Narada Bhakti Sutras. — L o ve D ivine. reprint 1977. Wheatley. 1972. London: Macmillan. Soma. Vaidyanathan. The Indus Civilization: The C am bridge History o f India Supplementary Volume. Swami (trs. Delhi: M L B D . Cambridge U niversity Press. Madras: Ramakrishna Math. 1973. Leiden: Brill. pp. Religious Studies.Bibliography Tyagisananda. Van der Veer. H indu Trinidad. N ew York: The Free Press. in G. Vijnanananda. Wheeler. The Pivot o f the Four Quarters. London: Athlone.). M. G. The N ew Face o f H induism . 1968. vol. 1992. Swami. 1993. Department Orientalistik. F. Vaudeville. India and the Ancient World. S. 1990. M. P. P. the D ivin e Mushroom o f Im m ortality. Pollet (ed. K. K abir. Brace and World. The Srim ad D e v i Bhagavatam . 1987.. R. in T. 1980. 1953. — (ed. F.). 1984. Wilson. 1989. 1958. Witzel.

‘ 135.Index As'valayana Grhya Sütra 38. 54. Agehananda 187.9 6 . Madame 270 bliss 85 blood offerings 18. 222 atimärga 155. 248 Bhàvaviveka 240 Bhavisya Pur ana n o Bhiksâyatana 157 Bhïma 106 blooga 155 Bhojadeva 162. 120 Bali 114 . 117 . G. D. 57. Caitanya. 55 Bauls 140. 264 about life after death 207-8 Benedict. 158. Heinz 20 belief(s) 6. 7. 123-4 Bhägavata Pur ana n o . D. 156. Kundalim Boethlink. 140. 260 Aurangzeb 143 auspicious. 65. R. 181 Madhva’s commentary on 245 Bhagavatl 103. 14 1. 62. 113 . 107. 241. 133. 217 Besant. 139. see also celibacy 62. 65. 150. 266 avatar a 1 15 . 188-9 as chariot 95 corresponds to cosmos 48 creation of divine 160 creation of in next world 207 identified with om 84 in bhakti 133 in Ramanuja’s theology 244. 138.17 . 124-7. see also Bhagavata(s). 63 brahmacdrya. 199. 157. 65. 162. 114 Bhairava 16 1. 260 330 . 190. O. 213. 173 as rejection of formal religion 13 1 ecstatic 132 in Saiva Siddhänta 162. 124 Bhägavata(s) 119. Peter 9 Berreman. 154-5 Madhva’s commentary on 245 Ramanuja’s commentary on 243 Sankara’s commentary on 240 brahmacàrin 13. 137. 115 . 268 Boar avatar a 116 body 48-9. C. 13 1. Bengali Vaisnavism. 42. Madeleine 18. 120. Roth 268 Bohm. 103. 139. 30. 125. 165 bhakti 11. see also esoteric anatomy. 247 Bhrgu 105 bhür 45. 118 of Siva 156 Avesta 30 avestan 27 Ayodhya 108. 48. 89 bija 1 1 1 Bilvamangala 142 bindu 188 birth rites 200. 172 Baudhäyana 38. 216 substitute blood 210 Bloomfield. 222 bhuvas 45. 132. Sri Vaisnavasa Bhakti Sütra 133 bhakti-yoga 126. 115 . 130. 204 As'valayana Srauta Sütra 38. 265 Ayurveda 233 Babji Masj id 264-5 Badrinath 92. and R. 116 bandhu 36. 106 Bhartrhari 228-9 Bhàskararàya 190 Bhattacharya. 119 . 202. Annie 270 Besnagar inscription 119 Bhagavad Gita 14. 12. 138-41 Berger. 264. Pierre 10. 165. Ruth 149 Bengali 27 Bengali Vaisnavism 135. 79. 37. 96. 88. 114 . David 270 Bourdieu. 222 Biardeau. 176. 137 Bhaktivedânta Swami Prabhupada 272 Bhandarkar Oriental Institute 105 Bhàratï 240 Bharati. 239. 191 Beatles. 241. 86. K. 258. 179 Brahma Purâna n o Brahma Sütra 125. 240 Gandhi influenced by 259 Madhva’s commentary on 245 Sämkhya in 234 Sankara’s commentary on 240 Bhagavän 103. 77. 367 Bharaty Vidya Bhavan 267 Bhârgava family 105. 143. 95. 203 BJP 263-4 Blavatsky. Asvins 47 Atharvasiras Upanisad 15 5 Atharva Veda Samhitä 36. 75 Banerjee. the 271 Bechert. 183-4. 208. 24 Basava 17 1. 144. the 15 auspiciousness 66-7 Australia 5. 162 ätman see also self 85. 136. 168-71 in Svetäsvatara-Upanisad 153 poetry 136 Sankara’s view of 242 Tamil culture and 129. L. 143. 201 Brahma n o . 240 Balaräma 116 .

61. F. 231. 149-50.1 3 cremation ground 207. Kàlï temple at 182. 233 Chinmayananda. 10 1. 126. 260 Goddess worship and 190. 249 commentary. 139 cakra 98. 84. Swami 272 Cholas 1 13 . 242 Brâhmana(s)/Brâhmana literature 36. Peter 105 Brown. theories of 230 celibacy. Hindus in 6. 202. Richard 215 death. 245 in Sankara 241. 257. 237 Colebrooke. 199. 165 Brahmanism 77. 241 Buddha 20. 70. 228. 235 Buddhism 17. 226.239 identified with Kali 257 in Ramanuja 243. 192 Campantar 169 camphor flame 209 Càmundà 177. 73. 233 Theravâda 119 . 10 1. King 52 Candragupta Maurya 52. 65. 17 1. 226. 236. 16 1. 210. 212. 219 Dalits. 81. 210 king and 72-4 overseer of vedic rites 42 renouncer and 87-8 true 82 Untouchable and 61 brahman 84-5. 77. see Sanskritization Brahmavaivarta Purâna n o Brahmo Samâj 252. 185-6 cosmology 48-9. 234. 82. 51. 190 Sankara’s commentary on 240 Brhaspati 45 Britain.2 5 5 . 40. 182 „ Candidas 138 Candragupta. 1 1 9 Candala 61 Carikam literature 129 -31. 45 Dassera 196. commentaries 230-1 communal religion 13 communalism 264-5 Congress Party 261. 261 datida 71 darsana (system of theology) 224 six darsanas 2 31-2 darsana/darsanam (vision of deity) 209. 89. T. 266 Brooks. 165. 185-6 Cultural Studies 19 Cultural transformation thesis 32-3 Cuntarar 169 custom. 170 Christianity 6. 76. 170 Cidvilasananda. 169. 153. 257 Brahui 27 Brhadâranyaka Upanisad 38. 170. 331 . 47-8. 200 asceticism in 94 continuation in Upanisads 83 Goddess in 179 Brahmânda Purâna n o brahmanicide 157. 82. 259 Cidambaram 129. 58-61. 129. 224. 225.90. 99. 72. 253. 62. 135. 189 Brahmanization 148. 169 causation. 86. 13. see also Untouchables 59. 192. 83. as source of dharma 58 Da Avabhäsa Kalki 272 Dädü 144 Dädüpanthis 144 Daksa 46. m . see also brahmacarya 63. 253-4.'64 Deists 252 . 220. 46. 87. 216 Dattätreya 116 Davis. 161 Vajrayâna 159 Caitanya 135. Swamini 272 Clive of India 250 Clooney. 86. 228. 81. 54. 133. 130. N. 100. 258. 191 rejected by bhakti 143. 48. 190 Chalukyas 113 . 83. 38. 170 Chandogya Upanisad 40. 44. 51. 214 cremation-ground asceticism 16 1. see also Yam'a 9.94. 20. 90. 229. 2 1 1. 256. three 13. 97. 255. 153. 186 cakravârtin 68 Calcutta. 90. 119 . 92. 19. 81. 30. 268 colonialism 6.230. 167. 232 Abhidharma 233 Buddhist Tantras 158 influence on Sankara 240 M ahàyànai59 Yogâcàra/Vijnanavàda 229. 148. 224 Dasanämi(s) 92-3. 167. 180 caste/caste system 12. 264 consciousness 94. 64 in class hierarchy 58-61 in Kerala 41. 247 identified with Kali 168. 221. 37.Index Brahman(s) passim àsramas and 62-j attitudes to sex 65-6 from cosmic man 48 ideal of 58-9. 92. 13 1. 263. 179. 240 Dasaratha 108 Däsas 34. 116 buddhi 233. 244. 236. . 206-8 debts. 54.

196. 265. 176. 175-8. 107 Dharma Castra 53. 73. 196. 47 earth 45. 254 Dharma Sütra 53. Sir Walter 217 Ellora 182 Emerson. 267 Ganesa 14. 157. 262. 209 funeral rites 203. Indira 263. Georges 49 Dumont. 34. 18 1. 89. 213 Dyaus 45. 206-8 Gandharva marriage 60 Gandharvas 112 Gandhi. 56. 141 eroticism 139. 54. 200 Dhrtaràstra 106. 186 myth of. 205 Frauwallner. 32. E. 212. 31. 68. Louis 61. 245-6 Dwarf avatdra 116 Dwarka 92. 221 Fuller. I27> 2 54 erotic mysticism 139.Index Delhi Sultanate 161 deva 13. 134 nirvana 164 samaya\ 164 see also initiation Dionysian cultures 149 Dirks. 64. Alan 271 Gitagovinda 138 Godavari 213 Goddess. 33. 142. 174. 66 devadàsï 21 o Devï 17. 103. passim as cosmic principle 57 context-sensitivity of 57-8 definition of 52-3 gender roles and 65-6 idea of 52-3 in Bhagavad Gita 125-6 in Jaimini 236. Emile 8. see also Mimamsa 231. 196 Dravidian culture 23. 31. 107 D uw ury. 29. 55. 86. 119. Ralph Waldo 269 emotion 133. 266. 81 Dumézil. 141 esoteric anatomy 98-100 Europe 199. 68. 107 Dhruva 46 diaspora. 213. 245 Garuda Pur ana n o Gaudapada 240 Gaudiya Vaisnavism see Bengali Vaisnavism Gautama 55 Gautama Dharma Sastra 202 Gautama Dharma Sutra 53 gdyatri mantra 204. Chris 7 1. R. 182 blood offered to 183-4 identified with Ânandamàyï 272 identified with Kotravai 129 in Britain 266 Durgâ Püjâ 18 1.1 2 . 108. 149 Kkanti Vaijnavw ¿45 Eknath 143 Elamite seals 29 Eliade. 44-7. 196 Dravidian languages 27. 122. 109 Gheranda Samhita 98 Ghose. 240 Ganges basin 129 Garuda 115 . 64. 200. 259-61. K. 65-6. 62. N. 233 Earth Goddess 47. 180. 222 gender roles 12. V. 216 -18 Durkheim. 18 1. Hindu 266-7 dïksà 87. 206 Durgâ 18. see also Goddess. n o . 65. 1 7. 214. 7 1-2 sources of 53-4 Dharma 105.1 2 . 266 exegesis. 18 1. 55-7. 195. 48. Aurobindo 270-1 ghosts 206-7 Gilgamesh 30 Gingee Royal Fort 217 Ginsberg. 192 Devïmdhdtmya 175. 104-9. 205 Dvaita 239. 63. 73. 265 Duryodhana 106. 128 Dravidians 50. 175-7. 236 Existentialism 248 exorcism 160. 72. 30. 17 1. 87 duhkha\ see also suffering 76. 215. 15 1. 237 in Epics 105-7. 138 Epics 1 1 . 50. 220 Fiji 25 5 fire-sticks 48 Fish avatdra 116 five fire sacrifice 91 five Ms 189-9 folk religion 130. Mircea 48 Elliot. 64. 264 Gandhi. M. 179 East India Company 251 ecstasy 132. 202. I09 of king 67-9. 40. 56-7. 107. 2 1 1 . 225 Freeman. 161 Fa-hsien 61 festivals 178. 18 1. the passim sacred sites of 192-3 332 . the 175-6 Devïbhâgavata Pur ana 175. 74 Diti 179 Divàlï/Dipàvalï 212 Draupadï 106. 182 dharma n . 116 . 266 Ganesa Caturthi 212 Ganges 80. 15 1. 113 .

F. 14 1. Richard 13. 217. 68. 222. 60. F. 2 11. 200. 204-5 Isanasivagurudeva-paddhati 17 1 Islam 145. 255 Hindu Mahàsabhà 262 Hindu Renaissance 250-1 Hindu State 52. Alf 196. 79 householder passim attitudes to renouncers 148 attitudes to sex 65 king as ideal 67-8 renouncers and 64. 208. 153. 29. H. 261 Gombrich. 112 . 52. 118 . 209 homology 48-9 homosexuality 60 horse sacrifice 22. 200 defined 6-8 Global 250. 31 Indology 19. 15 1. 134. 269 Heliodorus 119 hell 64. 176 Indus valley civilization 24-30 language 27. 262 Hindu trinity 116 . 126. 260 Harivamsa 120 Hastings. 89 Hegel. 32. 24. 69. 72-3. 14 1. 256. 46. 268. 268. 123. 59-61. 272-3 Hare Krsna mantra 141 Harijans. 269 hermit see vanaprastha Hesse. 33 script 27. N. 267. J. 87-90 human sacrifice 41. 2 4 ^ great sayings 242 great tradition 128 Greek invasions 51 grhastha see householder grhya rites 41. 188-9 of bliss 85 of patronage 170 of tantric systems 159 Hiltebeitel. 10 1. 137. 33 temple rituals 28 initiation. 55. 215. 266. Ranajit 39 Guhyakall/Guhyesvari 166. 47. 200 Grhya Sutras 54. 208. 124. Ronald 19-20. 218 cosmic 58. n o . 125. 221 immortality 46 Inden. 163. 142. 194. 142 Gorakhnath 98 Gosvamins 140 grace 93. 189. 225 Hanuman 108. 210. 74. 251. 112 . 246 gramadevata 198 Grammarian School 227-9. 46. 265. 88. 45. 217 Hindi 27. 261. 50. 144. 81 gopi(s) 120. 52. 52. 62. 203. n o . 201 Guha. 184. 14. 159. 218 icon of deity 10. 52. 62. 160. 67. 109. 257. see Untouchables 59. 154 guru 18. G. 146. 273 origins of 23-4. 50 pupillary succession 134 western construction of 19-20 Hindutva 262 Hiranyakasipu 116 Hiranyakesin 38. 25. 2 11. J. 115 . 2 11 Guruvayurappan 210 Halbfass. caste/social 57. 83 botr priest 42. 255. 256. 20. 220. 186 Gujerati 27 guna 59. 56. 15 1 Hinduism coherence of 88. 240 in West 269-73 gurukula 255 Guruvayur 210. 115 . 237 Heesterman. 132. 144. 153. 70. 269 Indra 30.Index sacrificc to 183-4 tantric worship of 1H4-93 tooth and breast goddesses 174 traditions of 180 village goddesses 193-6 worshipped by king 68 Godse. 54 historiography 20-1 Holi 212 homa 40. 262. 259 ista-devatà 215 Isvarakrsna 234 Itihâsa Purana\ see also Epics 104 333 . 265-8. 145 Harappa 24. 258. 73 India 5. 64. 234-5 Gupta period/dynasty 51. 27 Hardwar 213 Hardy. 80. 87. 156. 145. 250. 112 Herder. Warren 124 hatha-yoga 96-100 Hathayogapradipika 98 Hayagriva 116 heaven 45. 130 Hare Krsna movement 139. 100. W. 54. 269 hierarchy. see also dïksâ and upanayana 58. 209. 44. 195. 272 individualism 80-1 Indo-European people 23 ideology 31 languages 27.

2 10 . 69 Kaveri 15. 48.Index Jagannäth 14. Jean 272 Knott.i 52 Kannada 27 Kantorowicz. 259 Jung.imsk. 176. 213 karma-yoga 126 Karnataka 172 Kashmir Saivism 16 1. 207 334 . 218 Kämikägama 209 Kampan 107 Kanchipuram 92. 193. 90. 214. 186 Käliyamman 217. 76.11 Krsna-GopSla 117 . 247 Ksemendra 161 Kubera 68. 213 Jaimini 236. 85-6. 40 Jana Sangh 263 Janabai 144 Janaka 84. 107. 164-6 karma. 170. 142. 138 Kedarnath 213 Kerala 92. 116 Kalpa Sutras 53. 251 Tantrism in 171 Késin 77-8. 96 jnäna-yoga 127 Jnänesvara 143. 224. G. 116 . 114 . J. C. 233 Kâthaka Samhitâ 37 Kathasaritsâgara 121 Kaula traditions 166 Kaundinya 156 Kauravas 106. 205 Käma Sästra 6 5 Kärria Sutra 65 Kamalakkanni 217. 18 1. 197. 182. 213 basin of 129 Kâvya 132. 93. 59. 128. 256. 54. 186 Kalhana 21 Kali 16 1. Kim 266 Korravai 180 Kosala 80 Kotravai 129 Krama 166 Krishnamurti. 145 Kablrpanthis 144 Kaikeyi 108 Kailäsa. see caste 58-61 Jayadeva 138 Jayadrathayämala 185 Jayäkhya Samhitä 122 Jesus Christ 257 jiva 208. 237. 1 17 . Brâhmana and Upanisad 39 Kautilya 68. 187 theology of 247-8 Katha Upanisad 45. 102. 108 Janakpur 135. 91. 177. i °5 Ksemarâja 168. 163. karma 6. 172 Kälasamkarsini 168. 257 cults of 185-6 twelve Kalis 186 Kalibangan 25. 76. 269 jurisprudence 67 Kablr 135. 1K5. 107. E. 65. 82.2 1. 180. 236 käma 17. 216. Mount 151 kaivalya 97. 268 Judaism 6. 220. 239. 120. 178. H. 232 non-violence of 261 speculation of 232 Tantras of 15 8 Jajmäni system 72 Jalandhara 193 Jamison. 138 Krsna Jayanti 212 Krsnaism 117 Ksatriya/Rajanya(s) 48. 270 Krsna 105. 70 Kanya Kumârï 180. 94. 49. 218 Kalki 112 . 194. 125. 222 king. 210. 210. Jean-Fran^oise 25 Jätakas 61 jäti. 271 Jones.15 4 . 166-8. 139. 157. 240 K. 61. S. 123. 157-8. 244 jivanm ukti 92 jnäna 81. D. 125 Kausitaki Aranyaka. 139 bhakti towards 13 8-41 worship of 14 1. 13 1. 213 Kàpàlika(s) 152. 212. 209. the passim contrasted with Brahman 72-4 function of 7 1-2 two bodies 70-1 kingship rituals of 199 sacral 67-74 Klein. 68. 185. 125. 192. 28 Kälika Pur ana 192 Källkula 185. 145 jap a 141 Jarrige. 2 11. 234 Kälämukha(s) 15 2 . 93. 239 Jainism 17. 144. 58. 126 and Ràdhà 135. 96. 155. 144 Johnson. 140. 82. 94 Killingly. 184. 112 . Sir William 56. 16 1. 102. J. 165. 124. 179. 86. 81.

96. 95. 17 1. 155. 55. 271 mahavrata 79. 64. 154. 195. 186 Kubjikdmata. 236-8 Mimamsakas 239. 216. 191 Mahdbhdrata 32. R. 86. 157. 181. 94. 178 Meru. 238 Lanman. 17 1-2 Lokácarya Pillai 245 Lokáyata 224 Lothal 25 love 129. 197 Laksmi Tantra 122 Laksmldhara 190 Lákula Pásupatas 157-8 Lakulisa 156 Lalitasahsranama 187 Lalla Ded 145 language 227-9. 153 Mahánubhava Sampradáya 142 Maharashtra 142 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 124. 157. 172./'antra 186. 175. 178. 271 Megasthenes 119 Mehta. J. 189. 133. 181 marriage 200. Sir John 24 Maruts 45. 203. 169. 99. 204 liberation. 120. 176. 46 Matas. 185. 193 kula 1 66 Kulesvara and Kulesvari 166 kumdri-püjd 185 Kumárila Bhatta 236 Kumbha Mela 214 Kunamnama 77 Kundalinl 96. 145. 251 Mammalapuram 182 Manasa 183 mandala 160. C. 160. 182 Matsya Purana n o Matsyendranath 98 Mauryan dynasty 51 maya 14 1. 100.Index Kubjiká 99. 178. 100. 199. 242 Mimamsd Sutra z}6. 245-6 Madurai 129. 167. 225 lila 113 . 63. 202 attitude to women 65 influence on Nietzche 269 on the king 68 Manusbi 267 Marathi 143 Mariyamman 18. 97. 248 Menander 51 Mergarh 25. 12 0 -1. 102. 165. 187. 209 Mágadha 80. 157. 68. 163 Ramanuja’s doctrine of 244 Sankara’s doctrine of 241 Mayon 13 1 mediation 14 -16 meditation 76. 239 Mlnaksi 209 Mirabai 144 missionaries 268 335 . 160. 254 Liñga Purana 110 . 189 yoga of 99-100 Kurrna Purana n o Kuruksetra 106 Kusána dynasty 51 Lakoff. 159. 194. 138-9 in union and in separation 140 types of in Tamil poetry 129-30 Lozowick. 142 liñga 29. 76-7. 165 Mahesvaras 15 5 Mahisasura 175. 103 magical powers 10 1-2 . C. see also moksa 13. 268 laya-yoga 96 Leslie. 64. 221-2 mantra-yoga 96 Mantramarga 162. 205-6 Marshall. 238. 167. 105-7. 220. 224. 104. 180 Saiva ascetics in 154 Mahádévyakka 172 Mahámáyá 181 Mahamud of Ghazni 161 Mahanardyana Upanisad 114 . 218 maithuna 189. 213 Matrka(s) 180. 82. 149. J. 167 Mandanamisra 240 Mandukya Upanisad 240 Manikkavacakar 169 Manipravala 136 mantra 36. 12 1. 47. 231. 154 Liñgayat(s) 158. 160. 201. 123. 187 mantravadam 171 Manu the first man 116 Manu/Manu Smrti 53. 60. 102. 83. 232. 218 Markandeya Purana n o . 194. 189. 166. 139. 247 Madhu and Kaitabha 181 Madhva 124. 119 . 209. 93. George 7 Laksamana 108 Laksmi 115 . 190 Maitrayani Samhita 37 Maitrayani Upanisad 95 mala 163 Malayalam 27. 162. 122. 56. 187. 15 1. Lee 272 Mádhava 231. 61. Mount 112 Mlmamsa 53. Aguilar i 49 Mathura 13 1. 12 1.

214. 196 Pandeyas 113 Pándu 106. 104-5.149. 120 -1 Náráyana Guru 251 Náráyániya of the Mahabhdrata 12 1. 268 muni 77. 43. 92 Monier-Williams. 145. 47 modernity 19 Mohenjo-Daro 24. 232. Doniger 150. 222 oral tradition 35. 45. 54. F. 123. 269 Nimbárka 133. 159. 132. 88. 224 Natarája. P. 143 Pándavas 106. 130 Parry. J. Hindu 261. 109. 144 Nath Yogis 98. 136 Nampi Antar Nampi 169 Nának 144 Nandi 151 Narada Bhakti Sütra 133 Narada Smrti 56. 248 nyaya 224 O ’Flaherty. 240 Námdev 143 Nammálvár 13 1.1 1. P. 210 N yáya 231. 221 Náráyana 117 . 170 -1 Nehru. 7 Neo-Vedánta 259. 2 11 Murukan 29. 242 mysticism 43 mythology 14. 64. 219. 25. 107. 28. 158 pañedyatana puja 113 . 188 nadi 98 Naga PañcamI 212 Nágárjuna 243 Nagas (ascetics) 93 Nagas (snakes) 112 Nakula 106 Nambudri Brahmans 41. 130. 33.175. Rudolf 9 padapatha 39 Paddhatis 209 Padma Pur ana n o painted grey ware 32. 181 Pandarpur135. 2 10 . 179 nirvana 81 Nityánanda 272 Nityánanda Institute 272 Nityasodasikárnava 187 Nobili. 30. 122 narrative traditions 103-7 ndstika 82. 136. 78 murti\ see also icon of deity 115 . 135. 27. 180 pasa 163. 154. 57 Narasimha 116 . 33 Netra Tantra 161 New Age 273 Nietzche. W. J. 15 1. 43.Index Mitra 45. 86. 81. Patrick 62.92. 134 Parasuráma 116 Parpóla. 169. 86. 125 Pánini 119. 254 Náyanárs 13 1. 12 1-2 . 33 Pakistan 256. 262-5 Navarátri 71. 16 1-2 . the 271 Mozoomdar. 168. 261 Palavas 113 Pall canon 119 Páñcarátra 118 . 178 Mohinl 214 moksa 13. 212.185.182. 159 Orientalism 248 Orientalists 8 Oriya 27 orthogenetic theory of renunciation 87 orthopraxy 12. Max 37. 118 . 178. 225. 27. 81. Monier 268 Mother. 207 Parthian kings 154 Parvati 150. 100 Náthamuni 136 nationalism. A. Siva 151 Nátha yoga 98. Maharaj of 71 mystical experience 9. 213 Paraiyar 217 Paramesvara 167 parampard 16. 144. 227 papa 53. 242 Nirrti 45. 134 nirguna 142. 89 om or aum 83. 189 Mudvalan 129 Mughals 129. 58 . 206. 243. 183. 17 1. 44. Naciketas 95 nada 100. 205 Otto. 196. 42. 129. 39. 219 Olivelle. Robert de 268 non-attachment 126 non-violence 97 numinous experience 9 nyasa 167. C. 269 mudra 160. 125. 84. 34. 25. 149. 148 Müválakulicámundí 194-5 Mysore. 29. 250 Muktabai 144 Muktánanda 272 mukti 223 Müller. 247 33<> . 232 Samhitás 122. 174. 272 Neolithic Period 24. 237 in Sankara 241 monasteries 92 monasticism 90. 155.

108-9. 135. 104. 116 . 170. 234. 126 Purvamimdmsa Sutra 236 Pusan 45. 247-8 prema 139 prema-hhakti. 138. 165. Bhagavan Shree 272 Rakhi Bandhan 212 Raktesvari 183. 246 pramana(s) 225. 236. 207. 146 rajasiiya 44 rasa 141 Rashtrakutas 113 Ravana 108. 162 Pasupati 28. 57. 15 5-8 Pâsupata Sütra 15 6. 98 prânâgnihotra 84 prânâyâma 79. 193. 232 pati 163. 137. 146 BJP and 264-5 cult of 145-6 Slta and 66. 219 polytheism 14 possession/possession states 130. 219. 152 Patanjali.Index pasu 163. 234. 59. 219-20 auspiciousness and 66-7 purpose of life 65 Pururavas 48 Purusa (Cosmic Man) 48-9. 135. 107. 222 in home 208-9 in temple 209-10 private 2 15 -16 püjâri/pücâri 17 1. 181. 249 Radhasoami 7. 57. 194. 150 Goddess in 175-6. 85-6. 97. 155. 123. 56. 135. 272 Plasey. 10 1. 213 Ramllla 108. 200. 209 Punjab 144 Àrya Samàj in 256 partition of 261 Punjabi 144 puram 129 Purana(s) 1 1 . 215 pratibhâ 229 Pratyabhijnâ school 167-8. 240 purity 49. 179. 47 pusti marga 141 Qualified Non-Dualism see visistadvaita Radha 120. 102. 133. 98. 89. 206. 63 prakrti 97. 120 purusa 231. 238 prâna 84. 177. 234. 109. 145. 225. S. 145 Ramakrishna 256-7 Ramakrishna Mission 258 Ramana Maharshi 271 Ramananda 145 Ramanandi order 135. 82. 210. 233. I 35> J45 Ramdas 143 Rameshwaram 93. 96. 155 theology of 243-5 Ramdyana 66. 146. 182 Saiva 154-5 Sakta 175 Vaisnava 110 Puri 92. 139. 154 Patanjali. 2 1 1. 149. 19 1. 210. 97. 192. 95. 247 Pauskara Samhitâ 122 Payyanur 210 phenomenology 10. 145.247 Pâsupatas 154. 233. 213. 32 pollution 49. 104. 31. 2 11. 195. 76. 140. 219 Rama 66. the Grammarian 82. 109-13. 235 Rajneesh. 271 Radhavallabhis 142 raganuga hhakti 141 Raidas 144 Raidasis 144 raja-yoga 96-8 rajas n o . 248 philosophy 10. 212 reason 252-3 re-death 95 reincarnation 6. 132. 208 rejected by Ram Mohan R oy 252 337 . 16 1. 160. 2 1 . 231. 2 12 -14 Pillan 245 pinda offerings 207 pith a 192-3 pitrloka see ancestors. 98 prapatti 137 prasâda 209. 224. 2 0 8 -11. see also love 143 pretaloka 207 Prometheus 46 prototype theory 7 Prsni 46 Prthivi. battle of 250 polarity 160 Poliakov. 142. world of ‘pizza effect’ 267-8. 235 Purusa Sukta 48 Purusottama 118 . 135. 95. the yogin 76. 108. 145 Ramanuja 124. 143. 114 . 139. 136. L. see also Earth Goddess 179 Prthu 112 Pudukkottai 73-4 püjâ 103. 165. 119. 107-9. 248 pilgrimage 104. 180. 122 Prajâpati 45. 178 Radhakrishnan. 220-1 possession cults 148 Prabhâkara 236 Pradyumna 12 1. 10 1. 103.

183-4. 149. 117 . the 8-9. 200-8 ritual passim 6. 8. 13. 17. 81. 206 sanatana dharma n . srauta ritual Roy. 247. 40-4 sacrifice. 40-4. 95. 154. 98. 147. 16 2 -71. 125. 175. 33 renouncer(s) 13. 38. 76. 2 15 -16 language and 200 prior to theology 199 ritual purity 30. 166 sadhaka 163. 13 religious studies 10 Renfrew. 188 sabdabrahman 228 sach khand 145 sacred. 46. 239 Vaisnava 134-5 samsara\ see reincarnation samskara 64. 152. 227. 37. 157. 49 Rudi 272 Rudra/Rudra-Siva45. 231. 39. 82. 207 revelation n . 167 sadhu(s) 92. 74. 207 Brahman and 87-8 householder and 76-7 renunciation 13. 257. 178. 229. 34. 202. 63. 76. 160. 149. 35. 224. Rudras 46 Rupagosvamin 140-1 Sahadeva 106 Sahajiya(s) 140. 14 autonomy of 208 identity and 198-200 internalization of 83-4. J 86. 214 sadhvi(s) 92 Sadyojoti 162. 39 Sanskrit n . Ram Mohan 250. 154-8. 78. 144. 2 11. 124. 65.3> *54> 156. 273 rsi n . 154-5 see also Kapalika(s). 133. 47. 77. i n . 239-41. 242 338 . 241. 92. 37. 81. 122. 162-4.Index religion 6. 36. 148 rite of 9 1-2. 62. 226 rites of passage 79. 43. 188 sadhana 92. 60. 155. 191 Sakyas 80 salagrama 132 samadhi 76. 187 Tantrism 184-93 theology. 178. 2 5 1-3 . 225. 55. 12 1. 164. 77. 18 1. 102 origins of 87-90. 201. 158. 168-71 ritual of 163-4 theology of 247 Saka dynasty 51 kings 154 sakha see vedic schools Sakhl Bhavas 142 Sakta tradition(s) 17. 14 -15 . 145. 15 1. Satya 272 Saivas 154. 177. 157. 33 alphabet as deity 178 commentaries 56. 167-8. 191 Sai Baba. 255 Sanchi 180 Sanderson.3 I 5I . 153. 134. 162. 83. 149. Colin 27. A. 244 influence on R oy 252 theology of 241-2 Sarikhayana Srauta Sutra 38. 82.1 2 . 46. 30. 155. 160. 49. 156. Lirigayat(s). 201. 247 saguna 142. 36. 35 RSS 262-3. 230-1 devotional poetry in 133 language of gods 249 language of Veda 37 study of 268 8. 86. 127. 40. 258. 155 Saiva theology 246-8 Saivism 17. 175 pith as 192-3 Tantras 184-5. 158 Sahara 236 Sabarimalai 214 sab da 100. 264 Tta 45. 187. 49 sacred thread 204 sacrifice 26. 207 Sama Veda/Sama Veda Samhita 36. 47. 27. 15 1. Kashmir Saivism. 50. 118 . 83. 237. 173 formation of 154 puranic. 44. 202. 232-6 Samkhya Karika 234 samnyasa see renunciation Samnyasa Upanisads 91 sampradaya{s) 16. 219-20 tantric 159-60. Saiva Siddhanta Saiva Siddhanta 152. samhitapatha 39 Samkarsana 120. 122 Samkhya 97. 216 -19 cathartic function of 44 Mlmamsa idea of 237 of buffalos 2 16 -18 of Daksa 150 of self 84 Sadasiva 163. rites of passage. see also Sri Vidya 180 s'akti6S. 36. 243. 48. 19 1. 65. 148 orthodox 90-3. 75. 184-92 vedic see also puja. 9. 159. 134. 158 Sanjaya 107 Sankara 92. 271 tomb of saint 92. 140. 42. 249 R g Veda/Rg-Veda Samhita 31. 166. 41. 97.

135. 188 srikula 180. 191 Sen. 45. 177 sapindikarana rite 207 Sarasvatl 178. 241 Savitr 47. 200. 193. W. 1 10. 145. 149. 148. 84. 185 Sririgeri 92. 233 Sufism 144. 135-8. 155 Sati 150. 266 south-east Asia 199. 55. F. 92. 143. 54. 65. 134. 56. 159. 7. 190-1 outside marriage 60 Schaffer. 143. 116 . J. 115 . 39. 134. 45. 39. 121 Satarudriya 152. 47. 168 Smith. 94. 159. 200 social ethics 52. see also liberation 13. 269 Schlegel. 144. 87 traditions 77. Z. 28-9. 36. 93. 140 stnsvabhdva 176 suddhadvaita 141 suddhi rite 256 Sudra(s) 49. 129. 140. 266 sphota theory of meaning 229 sraddha rites 207 Sramana(s) 76. 129. 87 Sri 115 . Ninian 10 Smarta(s) 17. 148. 154 Siva Samhita 98 Siva Sutra 167 sivadvaita 246 Sivaji 143 sivaloka 155 Sivananda 272 Sivaratri 2 1 2 Sivasasana 149. 254-6 sarvodaya 260 Satapatha Brahmana 40. 56. i n . 134. 78 Somananda 167. 136 sruti n . 43-4. 58. 165. 143. 91 control of 64 Madhva’s view of 246 Ramanuja’s view of 244 Saiva view of 247 Sámkhya view of 234 Sankara’s view of 241 Yoga view of 235 semen 48. 15 1 Skanda Purana n o Smart. 155 Skanda 29. 154. 54. 57. 142. 36. 269 self 81. 251. 252 satsang 142 sattva n o . 253 Sesa i n . Frits 12. 159. 187 Sri Harsa 243 SriVaisnavas 12 1. 109. 81. B. 158. 200 status 67 steatite seals 28-9 Stein. 82. 133. 60 society. 186. 87. 60. 61. 216 Srauta Sutras 38. 46. 41. 132. K. 115 . 132. 108. vedic 49-50 Soma 30. 240 sricakra 187. 113 . C. Dayánanda 23. 54. 9 smrti 17. Sri Vidya 166. 195-6 Siva 14. 128. 234. 84. 137. 43. 247 Somasambhu 164 soteriology. 42. 120. 40. 54-5. 72. 261 Sita 66. 40. 159 srauta ritual 4 1-3 . 130. 135. 146. 182 river 213 Sarasvati. 150 -1 temples of 114 . 192-3 sati 66. 269 Schopenhauer. 109. 102 Sratua(s) 113 . 52. 78. 179. F.Index Sanskritization 1 8. 222 Sikhs 144. 178 általa 178. 13 1. 86. 69 stridharma/stnsvadharma 65. 104. 12 1 seva 137 sex control of 63. 142. 187-92. 41. 104 Staal. J. 59. 201 South Africa 5. 77. 185. 33 Shiv Sena 264 Siddha(s) 170 tradition 96 Siddhasiddhanta Paddhati 98 siddhi see magical powers Sikhism 135. J. 64. 254 Siva Pur ana n o . 17. n o . 175. 156. 48. 68.259. 251 Sugriva 108 suicide 180 Sunga dynasty 51 *43 339 . 165. 65 in ritual 79. 237 suffering 76. 260 satyagraha 260 satyaloka 112 Saundaryalahari 187. 199. 240 Sarikaracarya of 18 5 Srirarigam 129. 177 sant 135 Sant tradition(s) 135. 53. 168. 148. 144-5 santdna 134 Santos! Ma 18. A. 54. 81-2. 54. 235 Sattvata Samhita 122 Satvatas 119 satya 85. 222 Sawan Singh 271 Schelling.

124. 80-1 Urdu 27 Urvasi 48 USA 5. 94 tattva 12 2. 193 influence on Aurobindo 270 left-hand 189-92 right-hand 190 tapas 63. 235 Tamil 1 1 . 153. 13 1 architecture 160 temple cities 1 13 . 44. 213. R. 141 167 2 52 340 . 230 Svacchandabhairava 161 Svacchandabhairava Tantra 165 svadharma 58. D. 152 Vallabha 133. 39. 90. 13 d e x superimposition 241 Suris 50 Surya 17. 103. 133. 201 twice-born 49. 253 Tagore. 96. 180 Unitarian Association 269 Untouchable(s) 59. 47. 17 1. 138. 1). 65. 168. 153. 208. 164. 59. 246. 38. L. 136-9. 117 . 244. Bal 264 Thapar. 266. 114 . 75. 179 Tantras of 15 8 sutra 224 sutra literature 36. 58. 162-4. 197 Tryam baka 66 Tukàràm 134. later tradition 132-5 Vaisya(s) 49. 40. 80. 41. 146 Turner. 226. 38. 82. 153. 126 Svetaketu 85 ¿vetasvatara Upanisad 86. 271 Usas 45. 240. 67-9. 134. 239. 78. 19. 39. 217 Tanjavur 114 . 226. 188. 161 Tantris 16 1-2 . 219 Terikalai 137. 16 1. 97. 219. 256 emancipation of 261 Upadesasahari 240 upanayana 48. 269 three worlds 45 tilak 30. 47-9.2 Tamilnadu 73. 87. 117 -2 7 . 229 vaidhi bhakti 141 vaidika 171 Vaikhânasa 123 Vaikhânasasmârta Sutra 123 vaikuntha 115 . 242. 159. 129. 233. 170. 155 Vaisesika school 232. 54. 59 Vajasaneyi Samhita 37. 95. 128.1 4 ritual. 222. 12 1. 139 -4 1. 13 1. 123. 90. 184.68. 2 0 9 -11. 96. 19 1. 8 1. 212 Tirumâl 129 Tirumurai 169 Tirupati temple 123 Tolkâppiyam 128 Tolstoy. 259 Tortoise avatar a 116 tradition. 129 Tantra(s) 122. 123. 245 teyyam 194-5. 85. 159. 179 vâc 84. 247-8 ritual and 199 Theosophy/Theosophical Society 270 233 Thorcau. 162. 122. 61. 95. 171 Tantrism 96. 76. 125. 47. 234 Telegu 27 temple 28. 136 culture 129 -31 Tamil Veda 13 1. 187. 222 girl’s equivalent 205 Upanisads 36. 233. 132. 134. 226 Vaisnavism 17. 182. 204-5. Upapurânas 109 upâsana 137 urbanization 51. 226 Uddayana 193 Udgâtr priest 42. 37. 94. 135. 62. 196. 225. Goddess worship in 184-9 social basis of 16 1-2 Tantraloka 167 Tantraraja Tantra 187. 182. 2 53 tamas 110 . 241. 137. 207 Uddâlaka Âruni 85. 135. 189 Tantrasamuccaya 171 tantrika 113 . 238. 165. 27. 79. 224-32. 154. 51. 240 Tagore. 203. 103. 209. see also festivals 132. Romila 82 theology 17. Swaminarayan 142 movement 142 Taittiriya Samhita 37. 43 Ujjain 213 Umâ 159. 170. 149. 152 Taittiriya school 123 Taittiriya Upanisad 38. 130. 167.9 3. 238 Vaisnavas 115 . Victor 172. 189. 158 -61. 100. 123. 132-46. 234. 220-1 Thakkery. 217 tirtha 15. 85. 143 tulasï plant 141 Tulsidas 108. models of 16 Trika 166-8 Tripura Upanisad 187 Tripurasundari 166. I i. 108. 113 . 83-6. 222.

114 -17 . 49. 268 Wilkins. 120. 142-4 Vivekananda 256. D. 107 yuga(s) 1 1 2 . 122. 68 Vasistha 5 5 Vasudeva 117 . 68. 1 10. 94 Vrndavana 120. 42 black Yajur Veda 95. 127. 239. 102. 243 Yamuna. 144 cult of 135. 124. river 119 . 193 Yudhisthira 106. 72. 246 women’s movement 20. 124 Vasudeva-Krsna 118 . 155. 117 . 258. 118 . 91 Visnumurti 221 Visnusvamis 142 Vithoba 143. 264 vidhi 53. 202 Vanniyars 217 Varanasi 108. 240 Varkhari Panth 143 varna 12. 222. 188 yoga 13. 136. 204. 14 1.13 . 137. 92. 2 13 -14 . 146. 119. 245 v e d i42 vedic mythology 44-7 vedic schools 39-40 vedic theology 47-9 vegetarianism 6. 120 Visnu Smrti 59. 17 1. 231. H. 12 1. 268 Wittgenstein. 227 Vedanta 17. 75>8 l>93-I0 2 > I2 7> J 33> M 7» 153. 219 viraha bhakti 132. 183 Vijnänaväda 229 Vlrabhadra 150. Rowland 269 Wilson. 12 1. 265 ascetics in 77-80 contrasted with Tantra 15 8-9 deities of 44-7 Goddess in 178-9 rejection of 76 source of dharma 53 structure of 36-7 Vedängas 53 . 160. 18 1. 123. 236. 247. 140. 47. i n . 265 as Mohini 214 identified with Mudvalan 129 hacks Satis body 192 Visnu Purdna n o . 58-64. 269. Paul 80 Whitney. 138. 259. 232. 116 yupa 42 341 . 221. 268 Williams. 83. 207 Yamuna 122. 224. 87. 108 Veda 1 1. 226. 187. 128. H. 124. 270 Vedanta Society 258. 179. 35-40. 248. Charles 124. 127. 146. 56. 119 -20 . 64. 215. 104. 165 BJP understanding of 262. 229. 135. 90 Yajnavalkya Smrti 56. 245 Vatsyäyana 65 Vayu 45. 68. 178. 128. 58-61. 257-9 vrata 156 Vratyas 79. 157. 237 vidyä 82 Vidyäpati 120. 122 war 129 Warrior class see Ksatriya Wasson. 135. 184. Gordon 43 West Indies 5. 192. 101 vyuha(s) 12 1. 174. 146 Vämakesvara l'antra 187 Vämana Puräna 110 vanaprastha 62. 113 . 132. 80. 237 yajna 40. 140 Virappan 217 Virasaiva(s) see Lingayat(s) visistädvaita 136. 224 Yoga school 231. 103. 266 Wheatley. 243-5. 138 vidyapitha 165 Vijayanagara 71. i l l . 85. 152 Yama 46. 166. 176. R. 68. 228. 267 Vedäntadesika 137. 63. 95. W. 21. 213 Vrtra 46 Vyasa 35. 118 . 267 World Parliament of Religions 258 Yadavas 119 yajamana 40. 235. 259 VH P 263. 238-46. 80. 255 Visnu 17. 45. 126 varnäsrama-dharma 12. 136. 15 1. 47. 108. L. 123. 235-6 Yoga Sutra 96 Yogananda 271 yogini 166 Yoginihrdaya 187 yoni 178. 185. 136. 37.Index Välmlki 107. 123. 255.2 15 . 264 diaspora Hindus and 266 Gandhi’s understanding of 260 Varuna 45. 213 y antra 160. 5 5 Yajnavalkya 84. 57 Yajur-Veda Samhita 36. 62. 225. 112 . 227. 266. 123 Vasugupta 167 Vatakalai 137. 103.