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Indian Culture_ Hinduism_ and Buddhism

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					Indian Culture and
   Background
A few essentials for studying
        Siddhartha
A Bit About the Author
Author - Hermann Hesse
              Herman Hesse was born
              in 1877 in Germany. He
              was brought up in a
              Lutheran household
              where it was assumed
              he would study for the
              ministry. His parents
              both served as
              missionaries in India.
              He learned about Indian
              culture through their
              experiences, and
              pursued an interest in
              Eastern religion and
              philosophies later in life.
Author – Hermann Hesse
       As a teenager, Hermann Hesse was
       expelled from the seminary to which his
       father had sent him. He struggled to
       complete school and educated himself
       while working in bookstore. He cultivated
       a special interest in Hinduism and
       Buddhism.

       In 1922, at age 35, he began writing
       Siddhartha, the story of an Indian youth’s
       search for the meaning of life. During this
       time, Hesse became a patient of psycho-
       analsyt Carl Jung. His writing reflects
       many of Jung’s ideas on the conscious
       and unconscious mind – including his
       theories on archetypes.
Author – Hermann Hesse
         Hesse also wrote the novels
        Demian and Steppenwolf.
        These works combined his
        interest in spiritual quests with
        the political and social develop-
        ments in Germany in the early
        20th century.

         In 1946, Hesse was awarded in
        the Nobel Prize in literature. He
        lived out his life in Switzerland
        during World War II and died
        there in 1962.
Introduction to Siddhartha
   Translation and Publication
Siddhartha was published in 1922 in
Germany and translated for publication in
the US in 1951.

The English translation gained true
popularity in the 1960s with young
counter-culture move-
ments that embraced
Eastern philosophies.
 Title Translation - Siddhartha

“Siddhartha” is made up of two words in the
              Sanskrit language:

            siddha = achieved
        artha = meaning or wealth

  Together, the words mean “he who has
      found meaning or existence.”
      Character Connections
The spiritual founder of Buddhism was known as
  Prince Siddhartha Gautama before his
  renunciation of social hierarchies.

The young protagonist in Hermann Hesse’s novel
  is known as Siddhartha. He is also the son of a
  wealthy Brahmin family.

The main character should NOT
be confused with the spiritual leader!
They are two different people who
appear separately in the novel.
      Setting in Siddhartha
The story is set in ancient India around 500
BC during the rise of Buddhism.
This was a time of great change in ancient
India. Many age-old philosophies were
being challenged. Additionally, a new
spiritual leader was offering a hopeful
alternative to those living within the bounds
of the traditional caste system.
           Ancient Indian Society
•   Some research suggests that Indo-Aryan invaders
    established a long-standing social stratification in India.
    Records of the caste system date back to the Vedic
    Period (300 BCE).
•   Certain Hindu scriptures describe a caste system for
    organizing society but never endorse discrimination based
    on caste.
•   Traditionally, an individual’s
    caste defined occupation,
    diet, social interaction, and
    style of dress.
         Indian Caste System
• Brahmins / Priests - intellectual and spiritual
  leaders (Siddhartha)
• Kshatriya / Warriors and aristocrats - protectors
  of society
• Vaishyas / Merchants, farmers,
  artisans - skilled producers
• Shundras / unskilled labor
• Untouchables - outside of caste
  system
          Caste in Siddhartha
• The story’s protagonist, Siddhartha is the oldest
  son in a wealthy Brahmin family.

• As a member of this priestly class, young
  Siddhartha was supposed to follow in his father’s
  footsteps as a spiritual leader. He was expected
  to practice the rites and rituals of Hinduism
  closely.

• His social status was closely linked to his
  father’s religion, and he questioned both.
         Religion in Siddhartha

•   Siddhartha combines the beliefs of both
    traditional Hinduism and early Buddhism.

•   Siddhartha, the protagonist, studies both religions.

•   Thus, it is important to know a few concepts
    related to both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Concepts in Hinduism
              Early Hinduism
• Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions in
  the Indian sub-continent and has no single
  founder.

• Today, the religion has over one billion
  adherents who study a wide range of sacred
  texts, including:
      Sacred Texts in Hinduism
• The Vedas: The oldest scriptures in Hinduism
  recorded in Sanskrit, includes The Rig Veda, Sama
  Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda

• The Upanishads: philosophical texts passed down
  by oral tradition; associate with Vedas

• Mahabharata and Ramayana: Sanskrit epics that
  relate Hindu history. The Mahabharata includes the
  Bhagavad Gita (lessons of Lord Krishna)
          Hindusim and Castes

• Many sacred texts in Hinduism recognize the
  traditional caste system as a divine order in
  which upward social mobility is only achieved
  through reincarnation, or rebirth.

• Collected karma (actions)
  influences your atman’s
  (soul’s) position in next life.
                   Hindu Rituals
• Traditionally, in order to achieve
  good karma every household
  must perform many ablutions
  (sacrifices).

• Critics of Hinduism said sacrifices
  were too great and rituals too
  tedious; only those in higher
  castes could improve their
  position

• The poor were offered
  alternative to this tradition
  with Buddhism.
           Concepts in Hinduism
Hindu concepts of god, spirituality, etc. vary widely with each
particular tradition or philosophy. Siddhartha’s family practiced
a form of Vedic Hinduism. Here are a few useful terms from
that tradition (see your glossary for more):


Atman – the true soul, or “self,” of a person

Brahman, the supreme spirit or truth. Most want to
find a connection between this universal spirit and
self. (Do not confuse this term with Brahmin caste.)
     Concepts in Hinduism

Samsara – The cycle of life, death, and rebirth
connected to reincarnation. The wheel of life is
a symbols for this process.

Moksha – state of true understanding and
freedom from samsara (known in some
traditions as Nirvana).
       Concepts in Hinduism
Meditation - a mental discipline by which one
attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking"
mind into a deeper state of awareness. This is one
method for achieving enlightenment.

Om – a highly symbolic
sound made to focus and
guide religious meditation.
Each syllable (a-u-m) takes
on a specific meaning in
Sanskrit and represents
a universal element.
From Hinduism to Buddhism
   From Hinduism to Buddhism
Around 500 BC, Buddhism was a new philosophy
founded by a “Buddha,” a man who had reached
enlightenment by his own means.

This Buddha had new ideas
about reaching enlightenment
and was seen as a savior by
many for his views on the
caste system.
         Buddhism Basics
Buddha – means awakened one or enlightened
one.

Buddhism is a set of beliefs based on the
teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly
known as “Buddha.” He is referred to as
“Gotama” in Hesse’s novel.

The teachings of Buddha focused on ethical
conduct, rejection of worldly matters, and
meditation as a means to true wisdom and
enlightenment.
    Siddhartha Gotama’s Life
According to recorded stories,
priests told Gotama’s father that
he would either be a powerful
ruler or an enlightened teacher.
Because his father wanted him to
be a leader, he confined young
Gotama to the palace and
prevented him from experiencing
the outside world. However, as
Gotama grew older, he venture
outside the palace walls and
viewed The Four Sights that
made him aware of human
suffering (old age, disease, death,
renunciation).
    Siddhartha Gotama’s Life
These four sights made Gotama long to find an
 end to suffering. At the age of 29, he leaves his
 family and spends the next six years searching
 for a solution to suffering. He sought out
 spiritual masters and even joined a group of
 ascetics who practice self-denial.
              More Terms
Asceticism – the practice
of denying the physical
self through fasting and
starvation to discover
spiritual truths

Samana – a wandering
ascetic monk of any
tradition (Hindu or
Buddhist)
   Siddhartha Gotama’s Life
Reflecting on the experiences of his life,
still, Siddhartha found no answer. He knew
that luxury and indulgence could not keep
suffering away, nor could the extreme
denial of asceticism. He needed a “middle
path.” He left the company of the ascetics,
and traveling some distance, found a
Bodhi tree and sat down beneath its
branches. He closed his eyes.
   Siddhartha Gotama’s Life
He turned all of his attention within. As he
moved deeper and deeper into himself, he
began to see the truth of existence. He
saw that all life was connected. Nirvana
was revealed. At this moment, in the here
and now, Siddhartha became the Buddha,
“enlightened one.” He was transformed.
He went on to teach others of the Four
Noble Truths and to encourage them to
seek Nirvana for themselves.
Images of
Buddha
Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)
 As we begin to read Siddhartha, pay attention to the
similarities and differences between Siddhartha’s journey
                   and Buddha’s journey.




      Let the meditation begin!
            Ommmm. . .

				
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posted:7/26/2012
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