Religion and Philosophy

HUM 400 Hinduism


• When you complete this lesson, you will be able to:

– –

Have a basic understanding of the theories concerning the origins of Hinduism. Have knowledge of the spiritual disciplines including guru and yogic practices. Have knowledge of the religion's major theistic cults and philosophical systems. Become familiar with the worship practices of Hinduism. Recognize and understand important names and terms related to Hinduism.

• Hinduism
– name given by foreigners to people living in region of Indus River – Introduced in 19th century under colonial British rule as category for census taking

• Sanatana Dharma (eternal religion)
– Sanatan – eternal or ageless – Dharma - encompasses matters of duty, natural law, social welfare, ethics, health, and transcendental realization


Vedic Religion
• Aryan Invasion Theory
– Nomadic invaders from outside India – Brought Vedas
• Religious texts referred to as foundations of Sanatana Dharma • Written in Sanskrit language • 4 parts
– – – – Samhitas - hymns of praise in worship of deities Brahmanas - directions about ritual sacrifices to deities Aranyakas or forest treatises - written while meditating in forest Upanishads- teachings from highly realized spiritual masters


Philosophical Systems
• Acknowledge authority of Vedas • Acknowledge direct personal experiences of truth through meditation • Hold ethics to be central to orderly social life. • Hold that the ultimate cause of suffering is people’s ignorance of their true nature • The self is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, perfect, and eternal


Religious and Ritual Foundations
• Bhakti approach around 600 CE
– Opened spiritual express to women and to untouchables – Primary path of the masses ever since

• Hindus rest their faith in one genderless deity with the aspects of creating, preserving, and destroying • Three major groupings of deity worshipping
• Vaishnavits who worship the god Vishnu • Saivites who worship the god Siva • Sakatas who worship a mother goddess

Epics and Puranas
• Epics - eternal play of good and evil
– Ramayana
• • 400 BCE to 200 CE teaches duties of relationship, portraying ideal characters such as ideal servant or ideal brother

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• •

400 BCE to 400 CE teaches importance of sons, duties of kingship, benefits of ascetic practice and qualities of gods Shows all sides of human nature happiness of others is essential to one’s own happiness

– Myths about gods and divine heroes, such as Vishnu, Shiva, and Krishna

The Hindu Way of Life
• • • • • • • • • Rituals Castes and Social Duties Life Stages Home Puja Guru Fast, prayers, auspicious designs Reverence of trees and rivers Pilgrimages Festivals

Hinduism in the Modern World
• British colonialists tried to correct abuses perceived in certain Hindu practices • Mahatma Gandhi
– Encouraged grassroots nationalism – Emphasized people’s strength lay in awareness of spiritual truth and in non-violent resistance – Hinduism considered universal religion

Global Hinduism
• Some gurus left India to develop followings • California based Self-Realization Fellowship still growing and has centers, temples and living communities • Netherlands-based Transcendental Mediation (TM) movement • International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

• • • • • • • Hinduism defined Aryan Invasion Theory Samkhya, Advaita Vedanta, and Yoga Genderless deity Ramayana and the Mahabharata Spirituality Mahatma Gandhi


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