by Mr. Hill
Om (also spelled Aum)
• A sound, considered the greatest of all “mantras”,
spoken at the beginning and ending of Hindu
• Also used in Buddhist and Jain rituals
• Composed of 3 sounds, aw-oo-m
• 3-fold nature said to represent:
– 3 worlds: Earth, Atmosphere, Heaven
– 3 major Hindu Gods: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
– 3 Vedic scriptures: Rg, Yajur, Sama
• Captures the essence of the entire universe
• God first created sound, and everything arose from it
• Om is the root of the universe and everything that exists,
and continues to hold everything together
AUM is a bow, the arrow is the self,
And Brahman (Absolute Reality) is said to be the mark.
The essence of all beings is the earth.
The essence of the earth is water.
The essence of water is the plant.
The essence of the plant is man.
The essence of man is speech.
The essence of speech is the Rigveda.
The essence of Rigveda is the Samveda.
The essence of Samveda is OM.
All those activities which people start with uttering the syllable OM do
not fail to bear fruit.
(Shankaracharya's Commentary on the Taittriya Upanishad 1.8.1)
BCE and CE
• Common Era, abbreviated as CE, is a designation for
the calendar system most commonly used world-wide for
numbering the year part of the date.
• The numbering of years using Common Era notation is
identical to the numbering used with Anno Domini
(BC/AD) notation, 2009 being the current year in both
notations and neither using a year zero.
• Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of
BCE, short for "Before the Common Era".
• Both the BCE/CE and BC/AD notations are based on a
sixth-century estimate for the year in which Jesus was
BCE and CE
• Common Era (BCE/CE) notation has been adopted in
several non-Christian cultures, by many scholars in
religious studies and other academic fields, and by
others wishing to be sensitive to non-Christians, because
Common Era does not explicitly make use of religious
titles for Jesus, such as Christ and Lord, which are used
in the BC/AD notation.
• The abbreviation BCE, just as with BC, always follows
the year number. Unlike AD, which traditionally precedes
the year number, CE always follows the year number.
Thus, the current year is written as 2009 CE or AD 2009,
and the year that Socrates died is represented as 399
BCE or 399 BC.
• The abbreviations are sometimes written with small
capital letters, or with periods (e.g., “399 BCE" or “2009
Compilation of the
code of Manu
400 BCE-400 CE
600 CE – 1700 CE
200 BCE Compilation of the
3000-2500 BCE Composition of Puranas
Indus Valley Ramayana
the four Vedas
Indus Valley Civilization
• Earliest evidence of religious thought in
• Extended over Pakistan and northwest India.
• Had temples with stone sculptures representing
a mother goddess.
• Depictions of man
wearing a head-
dress seated in a
• Fire altars containing
ashes and animal
The four Vedas
• A collection of writings on subjects ranging from the
divine spirit to medicine and the sciences.
• Collectively called Vedanta and form the basis of
• Before 1500 BCE, these compositions were
memorized and transmitted orally from teacher to
• Four Vedas:
– Rig-Veda: 1028 hymns that praise ancient gods
– Yajur-Veda: priest’s handbook for the performance of fire
– Sama-Veda: melodies, chants, and tunes for the singing of
– Athrava-Veda: magical formulas, chants, spells and charms
Rig Veda Hymn 159
I praise with mighty sacrifices Heaven and Earth at festivals, the
wise, the strengtheners of the law. Who, having Gods for children,
conjoined with Gods, through wonder-working wisdom bring forth
choicest boons. With invocations on the gracious Father’s mind,
and on the Mother’s great inherent power I muse. Prolific parents,
they have made the world of life, and for their brood all round wide
These sons of yours well skilled in work, of wondrous power, brought
forth to life the two great Mothers first of all. To keep the truth of all
that stands and all that moves, ye guard the station of your son
that knows no guile.
They, with surpassing skill, most wise, have measured out the Twins
united in their birth and in their home. They, the refulgent sages,
weave within the sky, yea, in the depths of the sea, a web forever
This is today the goodliest gift of Savitar: this thought we have when
now the God is furthering us. On us with loving kindness Heaven
and Earth bestow riches and various wealth and treasure
• Philisophical commentaries that appear at the end
of each Veda
• Have dominated Indian life and thought for well over
• Of the over 200 Upanishads, 16 are considered the
• Discuss topics such as the mind, the senses, worship,
meditation, and the various means of liberation.
• Represent Hinduism’s most central beliefs, such as
Brahman, atman, karma, samsara, moksha, and maya.
• The supreme being, without form or quality, the soul
of the universe from which all existing things arise and
into which they all return. It is everything and
everywhere. Divine, invisible, unlimited, indescribable.
“As a spider envelopes itself with the threads of its web,
So does he, the One God, envelop himself with threads
Sprung from primal matter out of his own essence.
May he grant us entry into Brahman, the One God,
hidden in all creatures.
Pervading all, the Inner Self of all contingent beings,
The overseer of karma abiding in all creatures…
Eternal among eternals, conscious amound conscious
• The human soul or spirit. The part of our innermost
self that is identical to Brahman, the universal soul.
• Eternal and immortal – when one dies, the atman lives
on, shedding the lifeless body to enter a new one.
• Hindu’s goal in life = reunite the atman with the
“Atman is not born, nor does he die at any time; nor,
having once come to be will he again come not to be.
He is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval; he is
not slain when the body is slain…
Just as a man, having cast off old garments, puts on
other, new ones, even so does the embodied one,
having cast off old bodies, take on other, new ones.
He is uncleavable, he is unburnable, he is undrenchable,
as also undryable. He is eternal, all-pervading, stable,
immovable, existing from time immemorial. “
• The totallity of one’s actions in life
• Determines the form that an individual
will take when he or she is reborn
• Accumulation of bad Karma results in
rebirth at a lower station in life or a lower
form of life (and vice versa)
Samsara and Maya
• Samsara is the endless cycle of
rebirth, or reincarnation into a
meaningless physical world (Maya),
which is temporary, changing, and
• The reuniting of the atman with the
• Liberation from the endless cycle of
4 Paths to Liberation (Moksha)
1. Bhakti Yoga (The Path of Devotion)
• Devotion and love toward a personal diety
2. Karma Yoga (the Path of Action)
• Good deeds and thoughts
3. Jnana Yoga (the Path of Wisdom)
• Gain the insight necessary to achieve
moksha by knowing the Hindu
scriptures, following a guru’s
teaching, and meditation
4. Raja Yoga (the Path of Meditation)
• Meditation (deep contemplation) on
• The story of prince Rama, worshipped by Hindus as the 7th
“avatar”, or incarnation of God Vishnu.
• Exiled to the forest for 14 years with his wife Sita and half-brother
Lakshmana, so that his half-brother Bharata could become king.
• Sita was abducted by the wicked
• A battle ensues where Rama,
assisted by Hanuman (king of the
monkeys) defeats Ravana, rescues
his wife, and returns triumphantly to
• Said to represent the constant
struggle between good and evil,
where good eventually prevails.
• Longest poem in the world (about 100000 verses)
• Compiled by several authors from 400 BCE to 400 CE
• The story of the war between two brothers and
their children: the Pandavas (who represent good),
and the Kauravas (who
• Eventually, the evil forces of the
Kauravas are defeated, and the
Pandavas rule for many years.
• Addresses the classic debate
over whether (and in what
circumstances) it is right or
wrong to go to war.
(The Laws of Manu)
• A legal document of 2600 verses affirming
the Hindu concepts of dharma, caste, and
the four aims of life.
• Referred to for legal guidance on matters
involving family property, inheritance, marriage,
adoption, and guardianship.
• Dharma = Code of moral and righteous duty
• Sometimes used by Hindus to refer to their religion
(“Hindu” are “Hinduism” were terms imposed by
• Pertains to the duties and responsibilities of the
• Considered essential to the welfare of the
individual, the family, and the society.
• Two types:
1. Sanatana Dharma: universal values
2. Varnashrama Dharma: specific duties of each individual
The Caste System
• People are born into each caste according
to the karma they have accumulated in
their previous lives.
• Each caste associated with certain
occupations, goals, duties, and required
characteristics, according to The Laws of
• Today, India’s Charter of Rights bans
discrimination on the basis of gender, caste,
race, or religion.
Caste Occupations Goals Duties Required
Brahmin Priests, Knowledge, •Performance of rituals and Highly developed
religious education sacrifice intellect, discipline
teachers •Pursuit of arts, sciences,
ethics, philosophy and
Kshatriya Warriors, Political •Government Physical strength
rulers power, •Maintenance of law and and courage,
diplomacy order governing skills
•Protection from foreign
Vaishya Merchants, Wealth, •Management of wealth Management and
farmers commerce •Trade with other societies entrepreneurial
Sudra Servants, Manual skills •Service to other castes Ability to acquire
labourers particular skills
Untouchables “Unclean” Live Separately from other
occupations Castes, not considered
part of Hindu society
The 4 Aims of Life
• Dharma: conducting one’s duties with compassion toward
all beings, forbearance, absence of jealousy, purity, tranquility,
goodness, absence of cruelty, and absence of greed
• Artha: Earning money by honest means to provide for
family; acquiring wealth and power
• Kama: pursuing love and phyisical pleasures to balance
life and sanctify marriage
• Moksha: Leading the soul towards salvation through
honest and moral actions
• Describe the exploits of the deities in 36
• Each Purana begins with the name of the God
or Incarnation it glorifies.
• Mostly used by temple priests.
Three major Sects of Hinduism
• Worship Shiva as the Great Yogi
sitting in meditation on the snow-
covered Himalayan Mountains,
the destroyer and creator of the
• Practice strict fasting and
• Primary Sacred Texts:
Svetasvatara Upinshad, Shiva
Three major Sects of Hinduism
• Worship female energy
(called Shakti, Devi or
• Male deity’s strength
comes from his female
Three major Sects of Hinduism
• Worship Vishnu as the
preserver of the universe.
• Vishnu sometimes appears
in human form to restore
righteousness and order in
• 10 Avatars, or incarnations
of Vishnu (9 have taken
place, the 10th is yet to
• Primary sacred text:
The Arya Samaj Movement
• Founded by Swami Dayanand
Saraswati in North India in
• Reformed version of Hinduism
that rejected the worship of
images as symbols of the
• Teachings based on the
• Most important form of
worship = havan (fire