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Lecture 7 (Part 1) 29 September 2009

Historical: Anti-establishment figures Anti   

What is the Establishment? Abraham Jesus Prophet Muhammad

Historical: Economics and War


Economic rationale for religion Military force in the name of religion Inward and outward Struggle

Historical: Schisms and Denominations


Parent Religions Radicals Conservatives and Orthodoxies Councils, Caliphates and Formal Conferences

Belief: One God or Many?


Monotheism Iconoclasm (destroying icons) Malevolent beings/spirits Polytheism?

Belief: Sacred Texts


Origins and authors Seen, heard and written Structure Versions and Revisions Interpretations, commentaries and guides

Belief: Soteriology

How? Who? What? When? Where?

Practice: Worship

Regular worship
Prayer Everyday good deeds


Calendar Rites Commemorative Rites Sacramental Rites

Practice: Depiction of the Divine


Prohibitions against depiction and alternative forms of representation Influential depictions Widespread proliferation of symbolism Everyday depictions

Practice: Sacrifice

Who what when where how Historical basis for sacrifice Self sacrifice Divine sacrifice Martyrdom

Practice: Religious Freedom


Circumcision Sexuality Prohibitions and Restrictions


An Intellectual shift

There is no historical founder, no single scriptural text recognised by all, no single authoritative voice or organisation or institution, no common creed for all who call themselves Hindu, and no single god or goddess or conception of divinity
Patterns.. p. 121

Continuing the conversation..


Introduction to Hindu scripture The Divine: Brahman and Atman

Early Hisotrical Context


The Indus Valley Civilization (6500 1500 B.C.E.) 1000 BCE, Aryans migrated into Dravidian territory Is Hinduism a parent religion? Hinduism as a recent phenomenon? (see Patterns p.122)

Early Hindu Scriptures (see table 4.1)

Shruti The Foundational Scriptures


Vedic Hymns Brahamanas Aranyakas Upanishads

Smriti Later Texts with Scripture Authority


Mahabharata Ramayana Dharma shastras Bhagavad Gita Puranas

Hindu Scripture (Shruti): Vedas (contd.)

Some Gods of the Rig-Veda Rig Agni, the god of fire (a central element in the ritual of sacrifice) Indra, a warrior god who slays demons and protects human beings and gods Soma, the personification of a sacred plant Varuna, the god of truth Mitra, the personification of agreements or contracts

Is Hinduism Monotheistic?

Though Hinduism concedes the existence of several gods or deities, it accepts only one God, the Supreme. All these myriad popular deities are the diverse manifestations of one God. The formless God assumes various forms in order to fulfill the desires of His devotees Every one has he freedom to worship any form of God and His formless aspect. aspect.
Religions in Singapore, p.17 Singapore,


Who am I? Atman Eternal and boundless, not physical Atman survives through physical existence.


Brahman, is conceived of in various ways:

saguna, with attributes saguna, nirguna, beyond imagining nirguna,


An Ultimate Reality How is Brahman similar to Abrahamanic God Almighty? How is it different?

Brahman as saguna

God is One only, One without a second. His nature is Sat-chit-ananda i.e. eternal Sat-chitExistence-ConsciousnessExistence-Consciousness-Bliss. He is the Creator of this universe. He creates it by His power out of Himself, sustains it and then withdraws it into Himself, once its purpose is over. This process goes on forever, in a cyclical order.
Religions in Singapore, p.16 Singapore,

For Next week


Dharma, Karma, Samsara, Moksha Caste Contemporary Issues in Hinduism