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Chapter Three – Hinduism Learning Objectives: After reading ALL of this chapter in its entirety [pp. 73 – 121] and watching the video “Hinduism: An Ancient Path in the Modern World”, you should be able to: Describe the origins of Hinduism. Explain a monistic worldview. Discuss concepts of karma, rebirth, and liberation. Discuss aspects of social life, such as caste and stages of life. Explain the practices and goals of the four religious paths. Describe features of devotional Hinduism practiced by the majority of Hindus. Recall the names and characteristics of Hinduism’s most popular gods. In order to accomplish these objectives and prepare for Exam # 3, you should answer and understand each of the following: A Comment on the following religious characteristics as it relates to Hinduism (p. 76): 1. Founder 2. Organizational structure 3. Creed 4. Belief in one god. B. Review the timeline for Hinduism in the shaded area on page 77. C. The ancient scriptures of India are called? (p. 78) What does the name mean and what are related English words? (p. 80) The ancient language of these scriptures and of India was Sanskrit. The religion described in these scriptures consisted of the worship of male gods, who were believed to control the forces of nature. Read about this on page 79 along with where the worship occurred and the importance of sacred chants. D. There are four basic sacred text collections that constitute the Vedas. Which one of these has an account of the origin of the universe? Familiarize yourself with this explanation of the creation of the universe (p. 80) E. Resentment and questioning of Vedia religious beliefs and practices gradually developed into seekers believing that there might be a single divine reality that is the source of everything. During this period known as the Axis Age [around 500 B.C.E.] all sorts of techniques for altering consciousness emerged and practiced by any social class – not just the priests. Review these practices on pages 80 -81. F. What are the Upanishads and into what do they provide insight? What is the derivation of the word? What does the title suggest about religious practice? Do these sacred writings suggest that, unlike the Vedic material, that other people can become spiritual masters other than priests? (p. 82) G. The term Brahman originally stood for the cosmic power present in Vedic sacrifice and chants, over which the priest had control. The Upanishads expanded the meaning to “a divine reality at the heart of things”. It can be known – not simply believed in and that knowing Brahman is the “lived experience that all things are in some way holy because they come from the same sacred source. Read the story of the father teaching his son about Brahman on page 83. H. Experiencing the timelessness of Brahman can do what to suffering and death? (p. 84) I. In Hindu belief, each person has an individual soul (jiva). At the deepest level of what I am is a what? Therefore, is it true to ever suggest that I am God? Brahman refers to the experience of the sacred within nature and the external universe, while Atman, to the experience of the sacred within oneself. (p. 84) J. Maya (p. 84) is a Hindu term that suggests in reality, “the world is one basic holy reality that takes on many different forms…the outside world shifts and changes and time is relative”. How do the Upanishads see individuals? Explain the process of reincarnation. (p. 85) K. There is also a Hindu concept that is the moral law of cause and effect that determines the direction of one’s birth. What is this concept? Stated simply, the nature of this concept can be summarized in “what goes around comes around”. This belief allows human beings upward mobility and helps explain why some people are born with great gifts while others with no advantages at all. (p. 85) L. What Hindu concept suggests that you cannot say “you only live once”? (pp. 85 – 86) M. What Hindu concept describes the ultimate human goal? What does this imply? Read about some practices that will help an individual achieve helpful karma and ultimately liberation. (p. 86) N. Much of what the ordinary Hindu layperson does spiritually in described in the Bhagavad Gita. What are some typical Hindu practices described on top of page 87? O. Read the dialogue between two figures [Arjuna, a prince and his charioteer and advisor, Krishna] which comes from the Bhagavad Gita. (p. 87) P. Gandhi and others saw the Bhagavad Gita as religious allegory. What did he say the call for arms was for? (p. 88) Q. What is the caste system? What does it advise about marriage? Where is still strong in India today? Can an individual change his present caste? (p. 88) R. List the five main social classes within the Indian caste system (use only English terms like priest, warrior, merchant, etc). (p. 89) What did Gandhi promote with the lowest caste? S. Hinduism not only teaches that an individual’s path to “correct action” is suggested by caste and subcaste, it holds that each stage of life has its proper way of being lived. List and remember the four stages of life and what obligations are associated with each? (pp. 89 - 90) T. Although the Hindu spiritual ideal is generally world-denying, Hinduism does respect worldly goals in increasing order of value or importance: pleasure, economic security and power, and social and religious duty. These goals must be tempered by moderation and social regulation. The highest of the goals is moksha – complete freedom! (p. 90) U. There is tolerant recognition in Hinduism that different sorts of people need different spiritual paths, and that an individual’s caste and personality type will determine the appropriate yoga to practice. Yoga are methods that can be used to help people live spiritually and to perfect their union with the divine. Review the six types of yoga on pages 90 – 93. What type of yoga, popular in the West, consists of breathing, stretching and balancing exercises designed to help make longer periods of meditation easier? V. Since meditative practices have become popular in our Western world, read the shaded area on page 92 entitled: Hindu Meditation: More than Emptying the Mind. W. Although Hinduism is described as a religion that promotes a belief in many gods, in reality Hindus often focus their devotion [called bhakti] on only one of the gods. What is puja and what practices are performed in this devotional ritual? (pp. 94 – 95) X. Three gods have been particularly important in the devotional and artistic life of Hinduism. When linked together they are called Trimurti. What do the following three gods represent: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva ?(pp. 95 – 96) Note the picture on page 98 and read about the lingam on page 99. Y. The three Hindu gods are portrayed as masculine. Of all the great world religions, Hinduism strongly recognizes the female aspects of divinity. Who is Devi? (p. 100) Z. Anyone who seeks spiritual growth would the advice of a guru [“the one who removes darkness”] who is both a saint and a living embodiment of the divine. Hindus believe that one needs only to be in the presence of a guru to gain spiritual benefits like a plant being in the sunshine. Although Hindus believe divine reality exists within all human beings, what restricts the expression of the divine nature? (p. 102) AA. Hinduism is distinctive among world religions for its kindness to animals. A devout Hindu does not kill or eat animals. Explain the reason for this practice. (p. 103) BB. Someone suggested that there are as many gods and goddesses in Hinduism are “as many as the sands of the Ganges”. What does Hinduism dictate about personal religious practice? (p. 104) CC. List one Hindu practice that so conflicted with European values that it became illegal in the 19th century. (p. 110) DD. There have been several influences that have presented challenges to Hinduism [read pp. 108 – 111]. You can begin to understand the conflict that exists between Hinduism and Islam. Also, the European influence exists after India became independent of Britain in 1947. What Hindu practice was made illegal in the early 19th century? EE. Read the fascinating story about one of the most popular non-violent reformers in the world, Mohandas Gandhi. He was influence by non-violent principles of Hinduism, Jainism, Jesus [Matthew 5 – 7] Bhagavad Gita, Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy. Read about the famous Salt March. 1) What was the new title assigned to him after this march? 2) Who assassinated Gandhi? 3) What were his last words? 4) What famous American non-violent reformer did he influence? FF. How has life for the “untouchables” changed as a result of legal assistance in the 20th century? (p. 113) GG. Read the section on how the role of women has changed and marriage on pp. 113 – 114. Describe how marriages are planned and advertised. What could happen if a dowry payment made by a bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family is deemed insufficient? HH. Gandhi had a vision that India would be a peaceful, multi-religious society. Today, there is an Indian nationalism movement. Fundamentalism is growing among Hindus as well leading to conflict in places like Kashmir. What is this movement trying to accomplish? Read the shaded section on p. 114. II. What is the New England movement exemplified by famous American literary figures Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman that traces its roots to Hinduism? (p. 116) JJ. Famous westerners like the Beatles studied under a Hindu guru. The Beatle George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord” was written to honor whom? (p. 117) KK. What is the popular American movement influenced by Hinduism that promotes regular daily meditation to achieve health and happiness, practices chanting, and a vegetarian diet? (p. 118) LL. From the front inside cover of your text, give the approximate date of the origins of Hinduism. MM. Review the Key Terms on page 121. You are responsible for all of these except the following: Devi, dhyana, jnana yoga, Kali, karma yogo, kundalini yoga, monism, and raja yoga.
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