ATH 346-01

Hinduism & Vedic tradition

Great Tradition v. Little Tradition

  • Great Trad
    • pantheistic
    • largely textual
    • very ancient roots
    • connectedness between the earlest trads & present day
  • Little Trad
    • polytheistic
    • amalgam of smaller more localized religious beliefs
    • diverse ethnic regional & linguistic groups on IN subcont.

Hinduism

  • srivinas “vast syncretism”
  • no single founder
  • axial age religion
    • complex theosophy
    • gradual changes over thousands of years
    • has spread
      • religion of Bali

India: 4 major linguistic groups

  • Dravidian: largely in South, 1 gorup in NW
  • Indo-European: related to Eng.; Sanskrit: ancestor lang. to modern Hindi; Urdu, other languages; Sinhalese in Sri Lanka
  • Austro-Asiatic
    • largely in E. India
    • spoken of as “tribal” people
    • culturally connected with people of Myanmar & SE Asia
  • number of language isolates

Indus valley civ

  • 3000-1500 BCE
  • widespread civ in NW India & Pak
    • Mohenjo-Daro
    • Harappa
  • probably multi-lingual
  • commonly associated w. Dravidian people

Textual Hinduism

  • Vedas 1500-800BCE
  • Rig Veda
    • Sanskrit
    • probably originally oral in nature
  • focus around pantheon of gods, often personified elements of nature
    • Varuna: sky god
    • Agni: fire
    • Indra: thunder
    • Surya: Sun
    • Soma: hallucinogenic herb (amanita muscaria?)
  • woship similar to other indo-euro
    • animal sacrifice
    • local patron gods
    • some ecstatic dance
    • agricultural rites
  • women deities often had powerful roles as consorts to gods, or beings who tamed sexual nature of male deities
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