1. Way of Action - Karma Marga
Most of the gods were gods of nature, natural forces, and there was a king of the gods: Indra
No notion of reincarnation, when you die, you go to heaven
Rig Veda - "Him Knowledge". One of the oldest religious texts.
Sruti - "Revelation (heard)" ritual knowledge as heard by the ancient sages. The entire collection of earliest sacred texts containing the whole of knowledge
Smrti- "Revelation (remembered)"
Secondary in authority to the sruti, like church beliefs versus dogma.
Yagya or Homam
Ritual sacrifices, often in the form of objects, accompanied by sacred verses and large numbers of people. Hindu marriage, a ceremony with large numbers of people and worship of the fire god, is a good example.
Samskaras: ritualistic practices a Hindu is expected to follow and participate in during their life.
Upanayana: Initiation into the rituals of manhood
Marriage: Go from being a half-person to a complete person
Cremation: Passage into the afterlife
Sraddha: Basically offer rice bowls once a year to ancestors, or else they come and haunt you and make you uncomfortable
Moral Action - Dharma
Refers to the order of the universe and the way one should behave to fit into the order of that universe.
Root "dhr", a solid foundation. The old system, static.
"rita" one that which changes, a way to understand constantly changing cycles of nature. Fluid
Sutra - "a thread". Sacred books, don't go into too much detail, just the basic idea.
Dharmasutras - the earliest set of books written by the Brahman priests.
Dharmasastras - the later ones.
Laws of Manu: The dominant, central text for describing all aspects of how Hindus should behave.
Purusharthas - The goals of human life
Dharma: the code of conduct appropriate to people belonging to each of the four castes. Different laws for different kinds of people; not everyone is equal.
Artha: interest in power and wealth; not of the greedy kind, but dharmic.
Kama: desire, the satisfaction of sensual desire. There's a right time, a right place, and a right sort of person; other than those requirements, there is nothing essentially sinful about sex.
Surprisingly, they think the same thing in Judaism, only in Christianity and Islam is it a sin.
Moksha: liberation from rebirth; ultimate goal of all Hindus, but it should not get in the way of living.
Varnassramas - varna + asrama. Worshipping the gods according to your caste.
2. Way of Knowledge - Jnanamarga
"sitting knee down at the feet of". Or the "end of the Vedas". Some of the most brilliant literature in the word, to do with mysticism, or the experience of oneness, unity with everything. Conversations and dialogues between a teacher and a seeker.
What is the true self? philosophical texts that explore the nature of said ultimate self.
Thought of as philosophical commentaries on the Vedas: what is it about performing the sacrifice that makes it so incredibly important?
When doing a sacrificial ritual, one is summoning energy to direct towards a goal, but this energy is more powerful and basic than the gods themselves. This force is called Brahman, and the gods get their powers from it.
"universal thought". Those who knew how to manipulate this energy were called Brahman, with a long a.
What if Hindus could get right to the energy, and bypass the gods entirely?
No longer polytheistic, but monistic, not monotheistic.
If one could somehow come to experience one's life force directly, rather than the superficial identity we know now, one could actually touch the Brahman, which releases one from reincarnation. That is the immortal life-force called atman, or "breath of life".
Tapas, refers to "spiritual heat". When one looks inside one's self with great intensity, it generates an inner fire, a heat, and what one is doing is burning away all of the false levels of the self.
This is how one gets to the atman.
Asceticism is very