Hinduism - Lesson 1

Hinduism as a World Religion

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and one of the oldest. It is about 12% of the world population and about 95% are in India. Hinduism is difficult to define. There is evidence of civilization in the Indus valley as early as 2800 BC. The sacred literature that is the basis for Hinduism was created and developed over hundreds of years. It was originally transmitted orally and was eventually written down.

Lesson 1
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Hinduism as a World Religion

I. Hinduism as a world religion

A. Numerical growth

B. Growth rate by percentage of the world population

C. Most unreached people groups

II. Hinduism Defined

A. Cultural definitions

B. Common source of authority

C. Shared belief system

D. Social practices

III. Historical Windows on Hinduism

A. Indus Valley civilization  (2800-1700 B.C.E)

B. Aryan Presence in India (1500 B.C. -1200 B.C.)

C. Vedic and Upanishadic Period (1200 B. C. - 400 B.C.)

D. Structure of sacred literature

  • Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and one of the oldest. It is about 12% of the world population and about 95% are in India. Hinduism is difficult to define. There is evidence of civilization in the Indus valley as early as 2800 BC. The sacred literature that is the basis for Hinduism was created and developed over hundreds of years. It was originally transmitted orally and was eventually written down.

  • Introduction to fundamental ideas and literature that are basic to the Hindu religion. The first lecture given for this class is not available at this time. This lecture begins on the class outline at II, C.

  • Discussion of the influence that the Vedic tradition has on Hinduism. 

  • Mahavakyas is made up of two words meaning, “great utterances.” The creation stories are a collection of different stories with various themes. The world is created by a divine figure dismembering themself and their body becomes the world. The caste system has a racial element to it based on some of the creation narratives in the RgVeda.

  • The Upanishads are one strand of the Vedas. Brahman refers to the all-pervading reality in the Upanishads, not the Brahmin caste. The question throughout the Upanishads is, “Who or what is Brahman?”

  • Brahman is the ultimate reality of the universe. Our atman is encrusted with karma and stuck on the wheel of Samsara. A Hindu's goal, in the process of being reincarnated through thousands of lifetimes, is to rid themselves of karma so they can achieve moksa, oneness with Brahman.

  • Maya is the ability of the gods to create the world and give it the appearance they choose, thereby concealing the true nature of Brahman. Karma is the principle that what you sow, you alone reap.

  • A Hindu must work off their karma to be released from the wheel of Samsara and achieve moksa when their atman becomes one with Brahman. Yoga was developed as a way to achieve the goals of the Samkhya philosophy. Hindus see God as a material cause of the universe, not an efficient cause.

  • The Mahavakyas are “great sayings” that give you insights into core teachings of Hinduism. The Brehed Aranyaka Upanishad shows that Hindus believe that diversity can come through oneness and not be an “other.”

  • Sankara says that Brahman is unknowable and we can't perceive any of his qualities. The rope-snake metaphor is often used by Hindus to discuss the difference between perception and reality.

  • Hindu writers often use metaphors to illustrate and teach the essentials of the Hindu philosophy. In their writings, they refer to these metaphors in a way that assumes that you know and understand them.

  • The purpose of this lecture is to see the structure of Hinduism at a glance. Hinduism operates and a philosophical level and a popular level. Hinduism attempts to resolve the relationship between knowledge, works and devotion. The four stages of life and the caste system determine much of cultural structure of Hinduism. Hindus worship many Gods.

  • The three major dissent movements that area a challenge Hinduism are Buddhism, Janism and materialism. Hinduism is adept at absorbing other movements. Buddhism claims that there is a teaching that makes it possible for you to reach the state of Nirvana which is liberation from all suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama. The content of his teaching is the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

  • The key insight of the Upanishads is the identification of atman with Brahman. Buddhists deny both atman and Brahman.

  • The Bhakti marga is branch of Hinduism that emphasizes a spiritual journey undertaken by a devotee that will culminate in a state of union with God or mutual indwelling of the deity and the bhakta.

  • The Hindu gods have identifying characteristics that make them easy to recognize when you see them in temples or other settings. The Trimrti are the three major gods of India which are Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is not often visually represented, so Vishnu and Shiva are seen the most. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. Vishnu has 10 incarnations or avatars. These are partial incarnations and don’t represent the fullness of Vishnu.

  • The Siva icon always has the presence of the Trishal, which is a sacred weapon of destruction. There is also the nag (cobra), damaru (drum), third eye, Ganges river flowing out of his head. The dancing Siva has a damaru in one hand and a flame of fire in the other that represents creation and destruction of the world. He also has dreadlocks and the trunk of an elephant.  The third eye of siva is what Hindu women have on their forehead. The Siva Lingum is the most dominant icon in north India.

  • The Brahminical branch teaches that works and devotion lead to true knowledge (Upanishadic vision, tat twam asi). Bhaktis say that knowledge and works should lead to devotion.

  • The Ramayana is an epic account of India. It is the story or epic of Rama and Sita, and is the origin of the tradition of Suti. Mahabharata is the epic of India. It’s the longest collection of poems in the world. The Bhagavad-Gita  is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It talks about both the dharma of caste and the dharma of denial and renunciation.

  • Gurus integrate different parts of the marga system. Paramahamsa Ramakrishna declared the unity of all religions. He claimed to have visions of Hindu gods and Jesus Christ and Mohammed and that all religions lead to the same ultimate reality, sat chit ananda. Swami Vivekananda was the most well-known follower of Ramadrishna and brought his message to the western world. He accepts tat twam asi, the great insight of the Upanishads, but thinks that everyone, not just Brahmans can perceive that unity. (The last point of the lecture was cut short due to a technical limitation.)

    You may download the text of Vivekananda's speech by clicking on the Handouts link in the upper left corner.

  • These are nine of the major holidays celebrated in India. Sankara has been called India’s greatest philosopher. Sankara emphasized universals and Ramanuja emphasized the particulars, similar to Plato and Aristotle in Western thought. Sankara has greater status as a philosopher, but Ramanuja has had a great influence on how the masses practice Hinduism.

    The chart Dr. Tennent refers to near the end of the lecture is the “Three Vehicle Structure of Hinduism,” which is labeled Lecture 6 in the complete class outline pdf document on the class page.

  • Brahmabandhav Upadhyay was an upper jati Brahman teacher who converted to Catholicism. He attempts to explain Christianity by using Advadic motifs. Brahmabandhav is an example of how a Brahman can address the Brahminical community using a Brahminical line of reasoning.

  • There are opportunities for preaching the gospel and planting churches, but there are significant challenges. There is a difference between being unreached and being unevangelized. Homogenus unit principle is one factor that makes it difficult for the gospel to spread in India. It’s important to send people to unreached groups and use a strategy that is effective for those groups.

In-depth survey of philosophical and popular Hinduism’s historical and theological themes. Exposure to current strategies being used to bring the gospel to Hindus and how Christian theology is being formulated in the Indian context.

Dr. Tennent occasionally uses pictures of Hindu gods or other visual resources in his lectures. You can download a document with these pictures by clicking on the Hindu Deity Pictures link. 



Dr. Timothy Tennent
Hinduism as a World Religion
Lesson Transcript


You recall after some preliminary discussions about statistics and the some of the problematic issues with defining Hinduism, we actually finally, on lecture number one, we launched into some of the historical windows on Hinduism, and you really cannot properly understand the emergence of modern day Hinduism without knowing something of the early Vedic religion which preceded it and in many ways still influences Hinduism today. So we actually discussed the Indus Valley civilization and recall we talked about the difference between the Aryans or Orientals, the noble ones who migrated in 1500 B.C. into North India. And we talked about the Dravidian or indigenous people that had gradually migrated to South India and were there to this day, located mainly in four southern states. So I think that's really where we left off. We left off with the Aryans beginning to populate this region that had once been dominated by the Indus Valley civilization. And it's that point I want to pick up, because this indigenous population that was there in North India began to reflect on a number of remarkable things that influenced later thought. This eventually will come all the way down into some material that's assigned in class. But these Aryans became a settled people when they got into the Indus Valley Indus River. And over a period of 800 years, they compose what is widely regarded as the most remarkable literature in the history of the world. This is basically an oral tradition. None of it is written down at this stage, but it is being passed down from person to person. And the result is a wide range of sacred material which occurs in several strata. And you can see on the handout, on lecture number one, that there are a number of strata to this that we have to kind of unpack, because what happens is that the material that is chanted or meditated upon forms eventually a corpus of material.


Today we call, for example, the Rig Veda. But the Rig Veda is actually a collection about 1028 Helms. And these helms were chanted and these hymns were passed on and were used for certain purposes. And then eventually they're like appendices. They get put on to this material. And so it's actually not if you look at this is like a little miniature library. You will not have the proper view of this. This is not like we have the Bible and it has six books and they have this kind of group of writings. And there's, you know, half a dozen of these or a couple of dozen of these books is actually, unfortunately, not that simple, because what you actually have are books that have various attachments to the end of the books. And so that's one dynamic where you have a book that they keep putting attachments to. So this one book has several sections to it. And then as you get to the different layers among the Vedas and we'll, we'll kind of unpack all this minimalist kind of give me overview. The material in each of the Vedas is not new material, but it's the same basic material that's reworked for a different purpose. And so the result is a rather unusual kind of way in which the parts that are used. So we'll go back to the earliest part of this strata and kind of show you how it works out. The earliest writings that we have is known as the Rig Veda, and you'll notice that the term Veda is the common word for all four strands. The rig, Veda, Summer, Veda, Jer, Veda. I thought about Veda, and the word Veda comes from the word vid and vid means knowledge. So these are different kinds or strands, levels of knowledge.


The rig simply means the helms of knowledge. And as I mentioned, the Rig Veda represents 1028 Helms. Now, this is the earliest and most sacred of all of the Hindu writings. Even in modern day Hinduism. The Rig Veda is a very important document. Everyone knows about the recovery of the rig. Veda is collected together into what we would call ten books or ten sub sections that they very interestingly refer to not as books but as mandalas. And I believe that probably should be a term. Yes. Turn them off for on the back of your handout. Let me just say the word mandala, because this actually gives you some insight into how the Rig Veda functions. A mandala is a little diagram that they believe gives one's insight into the entire cosmos. Now in the history religions. This is called the term for this. If you'd like to have the theological term for this. It's called a cosmic call homology. A cosmic homology. Now, I cosmic homology is the belief that by studying something tiny or a representation of something, you can gain insight into the entire cosmos. So the Hindus as long believe, for example, that if you understood the human body, you can understand the universe, that there's a connection between the individual body and the entire universe. It's a long held belief that runs even the modern day Hinduism. That's an example of a cosmic homology. If you understand your body, you can understand the universe. If you understand even a single atom, you can act to understand the whole universe. So they developed, eventually developed a number of diagrams I have here on the overhead, some examples of some of these that are well known ones. And these are examples of mandalas that mean anything to you.


They're just simply diagrams. But what they believe is by studying these diagrams and by meditating on them, these diagrams can give you insight into the universe. This is called a mandala. There are many, many mandalas. Some are very simple, straightforward that just look like a very basic diagram of squares and rectangles. This is a very simple, simple Mando. This particular one actually is. In fact, all three of these actually, all three of these are mandalas that are used by Buddhist rather than Hindus. The other ones were Hindus, but doesn't matter. Hindus and Buddhist both accept the idea of cosmic homology. So by meditating on this lotus flower, for example, you can gain insight into the whole structure of the cosmos. Now that is a very, very dominant idea within Hindu thought. So the fact that they refer to the Rig Veda has been divided into mandalas actually gives you a little insight into the way the document functions. And again, I'm careful to call it a document because it's not really meant to function as a document. Because when we talk about sacred literature in Christian circles, naturally we think about the text in more of a propositional way. What is the information or data that's being taught here? We look at it doctrinally. It proclaims about Christ's coming resurrection and so forth. When the case of the Rig Veda, it's actually a collection of words that contain inherent power. So each of these films contain the words that release the power necessary to control the entire universe and to understand the whole universe. It's not just merely propositional truth. This is kind of a cosmic truth. They don't believe that the written version of this represents the reality of it. I think I maybe mentioned that last time in passing that they believe that all of the truths, what they call the Senate and of Dharma, the eternal truth, resonates through the entire universe with a certain sound.


The sound is most often forgotten by the term ohm. You'll see it written like this ohm, but it's pronounced ohm. I had a dispute about this with Baker Press because Baker Press, when I put this in my book, I mentioned that it was pronounced Ohm like this aew M They wrote it back and said, actually, we looked up at the the dictionary of whatever, you know, the official encyclopedia of whatever, British Britannica, whatever. And they said they wanted to do it like this along our own rather than our own. I know it's a small thing, but actually there's a little there's a sliding sound in this thing. It's actually a, um, as the best pronunciation ohm rather than ohm. So the sound is so important that Hindus will spend years practicing the annunciation of the sound. And it's very, very typical to find if you're looking at a Hindu temple or a book about Hinduism, I wanted to show you. But the symbol in Sanskrit for Ohm is on the front cover of everything you see all over the place. It's a very common thing in India. But what happens is they believe the sound, this ohm sound is resonating through the whole universe, just like a bell that you hit. They call it the unstuck sound. It's a sound that never was struck, but it's eternally resonating. And so what happens is these sages would get themselves in tune with it. They would, you know, own all this ohm. Eventually they feel like they're going in tune with this resignation of the universe again. Their meditation connects themselves with the whole universe is part of the cosmic cosmology, and eventually they believe that they're in touch with the sound and the sound. Bearing with the sound contains all of the Vedic knowledge.


So eventually they begin to hear these words and they wrote them down, or they at least recited them. And the structure of this is that originally these words of the priest or hymns, the priest are collected together in what is known as the Rig Veda. And then later these same words get used by the priest to form chants or mantras. You may have heard of this word mantra. A mantra or a chant is a certain way that you arrange the words in order to create and release spiritual power. So, for example, in this way I wanted you to see these not as separate books of the 1000 and 549 stanzas of the Rig Veda, 1474 of them reappear in the summer Veda. Just in different form, their shape differently and turn into mantras, but essentially the same material. So to know the Red Veda is essential to know the Summer Veda. There's not a lot of difference between the documents in terms of the actual words. The difference is how they're used. So actually, rather than thinking of the rig Veda, as is often done. As for books like The Rig Veda, the Summer Veda, the order of it, I thought of Veda or even like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's actually better to look at it as four presentations for different uses of the same material, especially the first three. You find this to be true. It's not quite as true for the fourth. So all four of these receptions are now collectively known as the Vedas. You look in the handout, the rig stands for hymns or words. The words. Some are chants. The word your daughter stands for sacred formulas. And then the atharva refers to secret formula. This is a little different.


This is a collection of writings where they they will come and people would say things like, How can I get this woman to fall in love with me? How can I cause this person to have suffer harm? Whatever. Anything that you want to have done. There's a secret formula which cannot create the spiritual power and cause this to happen. So this is a collection of all of those formulas, and it's a lot of different material. And it's not so much or ascension as the other three are, though it does use a lot of the same words for the sake of that. So the priest believed that by cradle sacrificial fire, for example, that this fire represents the fire that governs the whole cosmos. So, Chris, I was on fire. And then the other these chants and these chants, which just a few words, but nevertheless, those words represent the resonating sound that governs the whole universe. Fundamental to the whole thing is the idea of cosmic homology and mandalore is critical to the way the whole thing is structured eventually. These oral representations the Roman priest used were written down, and today we had them in fixed form. The Rig Veda, some of the age of our Theravada are all written down in a very in a set form. So, you know you can read them as you're we'll be reading portions of these in our textbook questions about the four Veda structure. We're going to go into more of the other as a moment, but just the basic structure of that. Okay. Fair enough. If you look at the bottom of the sheet, you'll see that these were written between 1206 hundred B.C. So within 300 years of the Arian arrival in North India, they begin to emerge.


And these four representations rig some major atharva are today collectively known as the sum heaters. So you see the term samhita there. That is the term for all four of them. Now, let me just be clear about that. That's the term for all four of them, apart from any of the other amendments to them. So this is for referring to a particular strata. Let's just say, for example, if you had a book that had this was the book and you had this addition to it. This addition to this addition to it. All right. And so, in a sense, this is one document that has different things that are added to it. But we're talking about this particular strand. Only some heat does refers to the four Vedas are then eventually the Brahmins. We haven't yet discussed who the Brahmans are. We'll come to that a little bit. But the Brahmans, which are the priest who are chanting these hymns and are controlling this, they begin to write some commentary on the Vedas to explain the Vedas. Now once again this commentary, and I've read these commentaries so I can say from some experience, but also from just the way they do it. In general. These commentaries are not like the commentaries that we're familiar with where supposedly you open a commentary and explicate something. It makes it plain for the average person to read. That's like supposedly, right? What is the commentary? This is not the purpose of these commentaries. The commentaries are never meant to make it plain to the average Hindu. The commentary is meant to give the outline of what a particular teacher teaches about the Vedas, or how a particular teacher interprets the Vedas and how they understand the Vedas. So what does it say? For example, you have you have the pastoral epistles.


Bill Mounts writes a commentary on the pastoral Epistles, lets Jesus build mount an example. Bill Meltzer's commentary is meant to make the Pistols plain. What if Bill Maltz were to say, I don't want to make it plain? Because I want people to come to me and say, What did you mean by this? I want people to come to me and study under me. So I'm going to create a like a little esoteric outline of what I believe. I've heard the record by the means, and then people will come to me and create a little bit of a community here. We can have dialog and discussion as to the way things happen anyway, not just by reading something or hearing something. So these commentaries are themselves a bit difficult to read because they come across esoteric, but they're purposely esoteric because they are being put out by priests who want to hide, not reveal their innermost teaching. So you have the permanent Ramona's which are the attached to the some heaters. Not all of the waiters have bananas attached to them. So only some of the some heat some of the the Vedic material have Roman is attached to them, then attached to the bananas. There is yet another appendices known as the Aron Jockeys. This emerged during the same time period. But one of the things and again, a lot of this will make more sense as we explain kind of the structure of Hindu society in a moment. But there are people that. Toward the end of their life. They renounce the world and they go out and live in the forest. They're called forest dwellers or are in Yonkers. These forest dwellers would themselves meditate on the some heaters as well as on the branches, and they would also have insights that they believe were worth noting.


And they were there are a clearer in that sense, they're actually trying to point out things they've discovered in them. And then finally, at the end of each of all three of these strands is the last and final Penance appendices known as the Upanishads. You punish Gods is a whole collection of speculative treatises, highly philosophical. That really launched us into modern day Hindu philosophy and all the rest is based primarily only upon a shard. This is extremely important material. The word upon a shard literally means to sit down near and is generally believed to refer to sitting down near a guru who will pass on this information to you. They are attached to the end of the Vedas and there's a famous school of Hinduism, which we'll look at later in the course known as Vedanta. Vedanta is a huge one of the most important. It is the most actually important school of Hindu philosophy. And the word Vedanta means the end of the Vedas. And that is because they focus on the upon shards. That's why I want you to read the upon the shards. And you'll notice that I have on the handout here, there are 108 classical upon us shards and 18 principle upon us shards. The 108 classical. Don't worry about that. There is a large group of material that people dispute over, but the 18 principle are the most important of the eponymous shards. The bridge it aniocha the ten dog eared Eritrea, the treaty, other Ishaq Kina, Qatar you can see those and Prasanna moon and so forth. Now I would like you to read all 18 of these upon shards. For the class, that was the assignment. You do not need to read the commentary. The commentary is voluminous.


Just read the text of the upon shore. That's the main thing. But if you can find the this list is on the handout and read those, then those are the 18 principal upon of shards that you need to be aware of. And some of these are very short. Like the very secret upon a shard is just one page long. Some of these, like the Brigadier and Yaka are longer, more difficult documents to push yourself through, but are nevertheless really important. One final kind of clarification on terminology. What we've now done is we haven't talked about the people or anything about those who are doing this, but at least we're laying the groundwork for the structure of sacred literature in India. And essentially. You have the most important facts before you already. There are a number of other documents which we will come into later on, a few important documents like the Bhagavad Gita and other things, the piranhas. But essentially this represents the most important thing to be aware of. So you have the same heat as the bananas that are niarchos the punch cards. If you understand that you've got a good leg up on this, if you understand the fact that the four Vedas rig some major atharva are dissensions and these are attachments to the Ascension's, then you already know more than many, many people who talk about the material inaccurately. Now, one last point of clarification. There is some discrepancy, especially between Indians who are writing and Western writers about how you use the word Vedas. Because in our own ratings for our course, there's some discrepancy in how this is used. And a part of me is apologetic when I say, well, you better just get used to it, because this is actually the facts on the ground.


There is a disagreement about how to properly use the word Vedas. So there are many people who do not use the word Samhita as they just don't use them. He does. So when they say Vedas, they're referring to regard Samya Jawahar, but even that's not accurate. That is in fact what they mean, that you find this, especially in the West. Western scholars tend to refer to the Vedas, referring to those for receptions. Technically, the term Vedas refers to either all of the sum heated by monitors or not because of Punjab's. All of that's called Vedas because it's all just appendices attached to it or appropriately. Not many Indian scholars and writers will refer to the Vedas, referring to the Samhita promoters and our Antiochus and the upon Assads is treated separately because it's such an important document collection documents and they often will not refer to that as Vedas. So you find a slight difference in terms of how the word Veda Vedas is used. And then the other thing you should be aware of is don't ever confuse the term Vedas, plural. Which is referring to particular what we'd call day documents and the term Veda singular. Another thing is student stumbled over the term Veda singular refers to the whole concept of sacred revelation that's kind of floating through the universe. And the word Veda can apply to things that are not on this list at all. I mentioned last time, it's kind of out of the fifth Veda and all that. This kind of esoteric idea that we've heard things that are not really been recorded in this kind of formal way. So because it's an oral tradition, there's a lot of fluidity to it, or at least some fluidity to it.


And so the term Veda can be used to refer to the Hindu oral tradition, kind of that I would say just a kind of general category. The Hindu sacred oral tradition. And the way that oral tradition relates to this text is not an absolute equality. There is some fluidity there. Okay. Questions or comments about the kind of overall structure of these What now are two documents? Yes. This book into that overall structure. I can partially but not completely this text. Thankfully, at the end of the chapters and various portions of the book, I think you can borrow your book they will give you. Footnotes to tell you where it's from. And so, for example, in many cases, they'll tell you this is from a particular upon a shore. They may not give you the name of it. They'll say, for example, can we give an example? On page 73, it says from the Rig Veda, this is select number 23 on page 23 from the Rig Veda. So that you know where that comes from. That's one of the 1028 Helm's in this case. It's the portion of that hymn that's found number 24 also from the Rig Veda. All right. But you'll find a number of these. I have this assigned because it's different. They'll say from the Mahabharata or from the Piranhas. We have not yet talked about the Mahabharata or the Piranhas or any of that. We will. We Well, don't worry. So most of these do not yet fit into our structure. But on page 22, from the chakra path of Brahma now say, Now you know where that is. That's what the prominent doctor see. So this will actually tell you where it's from. That's one I like this particular book by this she's a Irish scholar and she lived in India.


She's a Hindu herself. And so it can tell you that also in the background, they tell you all the sources of all of these exactly where they're found, because she just says kind of in generally from the the Bhagavad Gita or whatever. But then in the back, she gives you the exact citation so you can actually go on the Internet or whatever and find this material. Exactly. What are these dots? The dots under the letters are part of the transliteration challenge of Now just mention the the most dominant ones here. You need to know any dot underneath a letter. Like this example is Christina. That dot there is gives the eye sound is the ear sound is the vowel. And so that typically you should put it. We'll be looking today at this word here a lot. This is a very important word in Vedic religion that's called raita. The other thing you should know is that the slash on top like that is the SHA sound. S-H So you could say, Krishna, that you often sort of see it like this. That's another pronunciation of Krishna That would sound complicated. It's a little bit, but essentially this is the sound, this is the SHA sound. And if you know those two things, you'll be able to get pretty far down the road in terms of pronunciation. As I was reading all together, The Hindu, my visit. We're going to discuss that before today's out, hopefully because we're headed we're going to be going looking in the next outline deals of creation myths. And we'll actually look at some of these documents in that particular book. So hopefully we'll answer that question in due course. Oh, yes. We're talking about massive amounts of documents. Right, with all of these.


You know, when you say how do you define massive? Oh, you mean massive, like thousands of pages or tens of thousands of pages. What I'm getting to is how familiar is your average Hindu with that? So maybe the average Hindu is not would not have read. I mean, most Hindus are are illiterate and so they would not have read any of this material. But many Hindus would be familiar with many of the major mantras that are found in this material. And there's no doubt that they have been deeply influenced by the world view of these documents. So you have like anything else, it's like saying how many people on the streets of Boston have ever read this? One amount. Probably very few. But on the other hand, our whole civilization been shaped by some of the realities of of Christ teachings. You can't underestimate the influence of this, even if you have people in the villages who may never read it because they're always going to temple every week or every day. That temple will be headed up by a priest who will have read at least a chunk of this material. Okay. Other thoughts or comments? Before you get done in this class, you'll have read more than many Hindus and all this, so you'll be way ahead of the game. Okay. On the back of this. We're going to kind of close the circle a little bit on some of the other documents and the way it's classified, because Hindu literature is divided into two categories. And maybe I should actually invoke the pronunciation rule here, because we're actually in an example that right now this first one is actually called Shruti. And you should have a a line over the SE like that.


And that is the most sacred term for Hindu literature. It literally means that which is heard. So then we have this whole thing about the resonating ohm in the universe, and it's considered to be eternal with no earthly origin. This is already one of the first theological issues in the syllabus I raised. Let me just give you why this is so important. The Bible is by our own testimony, but is given in time. So we believe that even the Old Testament, which is very ancient, is nevertheless in a very specific time frame. New Testament by Hindu standards, is very recent. So one of the things that troubles them is why do you say that? A document that in your own even your most orthodox scholars say was written down in the first century could possibly compare to our truth, which is eternal. They don't have a beginning or an end. These people hurt, reheard it and rewrote it down. And then millions and millions and millions of years later, when the whole world has had goes to dissolution and it's all reemerges again. We'll look at this cosmology later. Then it'll be reheard again. But it's eternally resonating through the universe in the form of this OAM. And therefore, why in the world would you argue that the biblical material is somehow better or superior to than their material because they had this idea of the eternal word resonant of the universe? There's a great theological response reply to this, but I won't let you think of it. Because I know you can just think about it. And if not, we can talk about it later if you get panicky about it. But think about it because there's some great responses to this. So everything we've looked at so far, there's some heaters.


The remaining monitors, the Arunachal and the Upanishads are all called Shruti. That is the highest level. So these are all represents things that were heard. Now, that's the stuff that is known by the Hindu scholarly community, particularly the philosophical group. This is like really the classical material. But as Rachel mentioned, on the popular level, people often know a different set of stories. This is known as Smriti. Asim. Ah, ah. With a dot underneath it. The. And this Smriti refers to that which is remembered. And this is passed down by wise sages within time. And it is not something that will necessarily be carried over to future emanations of the world's existence. Now, this is a material that everybody has awareness of, and it is very important. There are the law books, most famous being the laws of Manu May and you. Which lay out specifically example, if a Hindu person is caught stealing, then this will be his next reincarnation. If you eat meat, this is what will happen to you. All those kind of long delineations of what will happen to you in your next life if you do whatever. This is the whole ethical framework is assured through these law books and then the piranhas, very important popular material ever. Every Hindu is aware of certain piranhas that are in the popular tradition. And then there's two great epics, which we'll look at in this class later on. One is called the Mahabharata. And one is called the Ramayana. The word Maha means great. And bright is the word for India. It means the great epic of India. And the Ramayana means simply the story of Rama. Rama is a god in Hinduism We'll look at later. Everybody knows these epics. Everybody knows these epics, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains.


They all know these epics. They grow In fact, a few years ago. Well, we noticed that our Sunday school attendance just dropped through the floor and just kids just simply didn't show up in school. And that's like anywhere in the world. What's going on? Why are you not getting your kids any school? Because they just have to watch this cartoon program on Sunday morning. It's coming on at 10:00 or 930 whenever the time on Sunday school. And what is it? The Mahabharata. They had put these in cartoon form and everybody just had to watch them. I mean, even the adults would stay home in church to watch them. It was so people loved them. They loved them, and they created like a crisis. We had to move Sunday school to a different a different time because nobody want to miss these things because they're so much a part of Indian culture now. They're so important people. And one of the most famous parts of the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Gita. The Geeta is the longest hymn, and the Mahabharata is the longest. By the way, the longest poem in the world is the Geeta. And so the Bhagavad Gita is a part of this that you will read, so you'll be exposed in this class to the classical material. Do the upon Assad's. You'll be exposed to the popular material of piranhas that is largely this Hindu myth book, and you'll be exposed to the epic material by reading the Bhagavad Gita. So you're actually the choice of really as well plan to expose you to some of the major strands of Hindu writings. So they carefully distinguishing Shruti and Smriti that which is heard the ohm thing and just that which is remembered that is passed down among sages within time and will not be a part of any eternal kind of truth that is in the universe.


So the Bhagavad Gita technically is not eternal, to be fair. Like like you might imagine in Hinduism, there are teachers that have taught for centuries that they believe that the Geeta is in a special category in the Mahabharata. In that particular part about later is Shruti. And so there are people who believe that to be true, but technically it's not true. It is to be regarded on this lower level. But the Geeta is of all of these documents, is the most influential and famous, and it's been that way since the eighth century really turned to its prominence in Hindu life. Any questions or comments about the kind of the textual structure before we now look at the actual practice of Vedic religion by these early meditators? Any questions or comments? Okay, great. Let's pass out the next number to. Okay. Once again, I remind you that on the lecture you have the lecture basic outline on the front and the back, a list of terms that you should know because of hearing the lecture. And so keep that in mind as we go through the lecture.