CST 232-B01

Asian Indian Religion

Sanatana Dharma — written scriptures called Vedas

(North & West)
* ARYAN * (root culture which spread NW & SE, Indo-European language)
(South & East)

Established in the Indus valley roughly 3700 years ago

Rta (pronounced rit-uh) this is a word, not an acronym: the underlying order and energy of the cosmos; not self-sustaining

Sacred Hierarchy:

Why perform fire sacrifice? (only male heads of household permitted)
to sustain rta
propitiate the gods
gain wished-for things
immortality in heaven with the gods

3 main gods:
Brahma (creator god)
Vishnu (preserver, keeps the world going by incarnating in avatars)
– Hanuman (monkey god, the messenger)
– Ganesh (elephant-headed god, remover of obstacles)
– Rama (human avatar, warrior-archer who slays the dragon of chaos)
– Krishna (human form, dark blue; avatar of vitality)
Shiva (the destroyer)

creation/preservation/destruction cycle: Yuga (there will only be 4, our current cycle is #4)
considered to be appx 20billion years long

(far too numerous to mention all, these two are key)
Indra (thunderbolt god)
Agni (fire god)

Three levels of existence
heaven — gods
atmosphere — demigods
earth — persons

Three social groups (caste system):
Priests / educators
warriors / administrators
workers / merchants
(all but Priests/educators can be marginalized or bypassed)
outcaste – no match to any of the above

Shamans (root form of priest) called rishis

Maharishi: (Maha = great, rishi = seer)
some: sustance that granted visions

Rig Veda: oldest of the vedas

Soma: substance mixed with other ingredients to produce visions — soma has been lost (we don’t know what it was made of)

Three stages of Life (defined by self-sufficiency)
Student – pre-adult
Householder – adult
Retiree – post-adult

What is an adult?
take care of self
take care of others
contribute to community at large
know what’s “worth knowing”

level of cultural complexity correlates to age of adulthood
simple cultures: as early as 12-16 (tied to onset of puberty), complex cultures: much older

Three social values
Pleasure / happiness
Duty (obligations)

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