-Hinduism is probably the oldest of all the main world religions.
-India is the most religiously oriented of all major cultures.
-Hinduism –literally “Indianism” –is hard to define and the religious element is hard to separate from more general cultural practice.
-The caste system is a Hindu practice but it is also observed by South Asian Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.
-The functional units of caste were and remain “subcastes” or jatis usually connected with occupation, marrying only fellow jatis members.
-The sadhu, Hindu Holy man, has always been beyond caste.
-Earliest civilization in “Indus Valley” nobody knows much about them.
-Fertility cult, so their goddess statues consist of big breasts and buttocks.
-Archaeology evidence: Indian subcontinent related migration from Africa, and physically like Australian Aborigines.
-Possible influence on Indian Civilization.
-Dravidian Cultures located in South India:
→Once spread all over India subcontinent ended up in the south due to Indo-European invasion.
Who were the Indo-Europeans?
-Originated from Russia: →Language culture, languages were connected so were the people. →Indo-Iranians from Persia
-Indo-Europeans ancestors of Celts, Persians
-Aryan (Iran) “The Noble Ones” and Ireland.
-Praised (male sky god) status paradimable warrior by lightning bolt.
-Male sky gods tend to dominate the nomadic cultures.
-Agrarian society follow female gods relating to fertility. -Common mythological trait is the “Lightning Bolt”.
-Significant theme “sacrifice” →Sacrificial action, maintaining cosmic order.
-Indra in Thailand emphasise Indian influences
-Diamond signifies indestructibility.
-“Rig Veda” was foundation scriptures for life.
-fire is key image for domestication in the world. (What makes humans different from the animals is fire.)
-Soma (drug) →priests take drugs to make connection with deities. (Drugs were lost so religion was to replace the drug)
-Hymns (Ritual were overpowering belief)
-Personal belief related to another aspect.
-Ritual has effect in the cosmos.
-The gods related to natural element.
→Sacrificial action is crucial, as rituals tame Chaos.
→Requires constant recreation.
The importance of the Veda
-The Vedic texts do not merely constitute the oldest sacred books of Hinduism; they are also the most revered of the scriptures and form the fundamental canon of Hinduism.
-These works are wholly positive in their view of life and death and in their recognition of the cosmic and moral law rita which includes acknowledgement of the ultimate values in the universe – goodness, beauty and truth (satya).
-All the Vedic gods are aspects of one divine entity.
-The Veda in general describes this ultimate and all pervading power as representing the beauty and light of the natural world and also all the goodness and nobility of which the human spirit is capable.
-The Veda Samhita was composed by the priestly class of Brahmins, living in northern India, as their devotional scripture, but it also acts as their working reference manual.
-Sacrificial ritual making the universe understandable to the human interest.
Social Structure in the Vedic Thought
Indian society was divided into the Four Varnas (lit. colour); which is not exactly a caste system.
1/ Brahmins (Priests and Scholars)
→ Knowing the principles of the religion, manipulating power.
→Brahmins knew the underlying maps and how things run.
2/ Ksatriya (Kings, Warriors)
→Warriors protecting the Brahmins.
3/ Vaisyas (Merchants)
→Economic power, holding material power and wealth of resources.
→Questioning the rule of the Brahmins.
4/ Sudras (Peasants)
→Hold no power at all.
The top two societies are twice born. They are born into the society. The Four Varnas were seen as a natural order and not an egalitarian society.
Power in the Vedic Society