Hinduism - Lesson 2

Historical Windows on Hinduism (Part 1)

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.

Lesson 2
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Historical Windows on Hinduism (Part 1)

II. Historical Windows on Hinduism

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

1. Structure of Sacred Literature

2. Four strata of sacred literature

3. Classification of sacred literature

a. Sruti

b. Smrti

III. Vedic Religion/Ritual [Split here 38:20]

A. Introduction

B. Socio-cultural Influences from Vedic Religion

1. Aryans and Dasyus and the origins of the Caste System

2. Varna (social classification) vs. Jati (caste)

C. Religious/Theological Themes in Vedic Religion

1. Henotheism in the Vedas

2. Rta in the Vedas

  • 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



Historical Windows on Hinduism (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


Now, what we have learned from the Rig Veda and other archeological discovery is that before what they would call Hinduism arose, there is a. Religion that preceded it, known as Vedic religion. And this religion. Yeah. We must at least do a little bit about because it's so influential in the way that Hinduism originally develops. We mentioned last time or last part of the lecture on the lecture one about the Rig Veda, the thousand 20 Ed Helms. This is a wealth of information that reveals that when the Aryans came down. Into north India was today part of Pakistan. They encountered a group of people that they referred to. And I think I have it on here. Maybe not. I don't have it. Yes, I do. The dots you see the no point one there, the Arians and the shoes and the guards, the caste system, the rig Veda is dominated by this conflict between the Aryans, which were the noble ones and the Doshi. The Doshi refers to a people group that are described in the Vedas as dark skinned people. With flatter noses, wider noses, and in various kind of pejorative terms they're referred to in the flat faced and all this flat noses. There even one time where they're called the UN on this, which means the those without a face at all. Literally those without a nose because the Aryans have very prominent noses and their noses seem to be squashed in and flatter. And they thought that was really funny and they made fun of them. And so you definitely have a racial conflict that's going on between a people who are warriors, who view themselves superior to these other people. That is hugely important because eventually in the Vedas and I have one to pass out to show you this, but there is early on the conception is brought out even in Vedic religion of the concept of Varna and the word Varna means colors.


And the idea is essentially that God created people. I'm using the word God there in print and kind of quotation marks, but when you are created, you are brought into existence there that God created people from different color strata. And so, for example, the white people would be the top. The black people at the bottom. So you have what unfortunately is painfully familiar to all of us in our own society is a differentiation being made which disenfranchizes people with darker skin. And the other two our here I guess want to put all four colors would be red and yellow. These are the four varnishes or four colors to this day. People will be upset in India if there are and then some be honest without being overly pejorative. But it's even to this day among even Christians, a Christian young boy will not be happy. For example, if his parents arrange a marriage for him with a girl that has really dark skin. They like the lighter skin they cause pervades the whole culture. People look at you and make judgments about you based on the shade of your skin. And if you're in India, you quickly become aware of the dramatic differences in skin color, skin shading. And it gets back to this, these documents which say God created certain people better and more likely to rule than other people. So those who are invading they or those that begin to meditate in reflection, all of this claims that they were at the top of this list. In fact, in the one of the documents which we'll look at a moment, they argue that when God created the world, that certain people came out of his head, some came out of his his arms, some kind of a stomach or some kind of his feet.


So you have a theological background, not just a sociological one, a theological basis for racism, because you can say you are created in a lesser status than I have. So white represents purity in light red passion fired the warriors all the way down to the black, which is darkness. So to this day, if you talk in India, people understand the Varna system. It's a very prominent idea in India, and it is actually based on a chapter in the Rig Veda that is a smash. It meshes. And we, of course, will have to look at this later. We're not at that point yet, but well, it's meshes because the belief is if someone has bad karma, they will come back in their next life in a state that is where they're being punished. And one of the ways they're punished, being born back as a low caste or outcast person. So if you are a Brahmin, you're a high class person. It means that you have this pure background and you have not had bad karma. So it's actually intimately tied into the system. These colors are based on your karma. Now, your question maybe is how can you be created? You know, from the beginning with this, but the we haven't yet discussed the way karma comes in to even the creation account because you're saying of creation as the beginning point. It's not a beginning point. It's a part of a process that continues to happen and recycle so that karma gets brought over. But we're not quite ready to fully explore that yet. That's a great, great question, though. Yes. So are the bronze typically lighter skinned? Yes, they are, definitely. Okay. Let's just read one of these hymns that brings us out.


This is in the 10th Mandala, the 90th Helm within the 10th Mandala. And you'll look at the verse 11. And you see the following When they divided the man, this is basically this is a cosmic cosmology thing. What they have is the depiction here is this huge cosmic man they call the Perugia man. The word Perugia just means man. This Perugia, this great man is like this cosmic figure. So his body gets dismembered in order to make the whole universe. So everybody everybody in the universe comes eventually from this great Perugia man, this Perugia figure, cosmic figure. So that's what this is referring to when they divided the man. That's the word Perugia. And how many parts did either a portion him, what do they call his mouth? His two arms and thighs and feet. His mouth became the Brahman. His arms are made into the warrior. That's the shuttle Rhea, his thighs, the people of Asia. And from his feet, the servants were born. That refers to the shoe drawer. So you have even in the rig, Veda, the idea that there are these people, the Brahmins, the Qatari professors, the Warriors, the Vishay and the shoe drawer are to this day considered to be the four caste of India. So even in the Rig Veda, you have the in seed form, the idea that people are created in different states, different social divisions that must be respected because that's the way they were created, has nothing to do with money. How much money you make and nothing to do with your wealthy or poor. The Brahmins that are totally impoverished, their shooters that are very wealthy. It doesn't matter what matters. This is your social standing. So even if you have a poor Brahmin daughter, you would never allow her to marry a should there.


I don't care how well off he was because this is a totally be condemned by your own community. These provisions are kept very, very separate and it transcends sociology and money. Whereas in the West, in the West has a class system where if you prosper, you can move up into a higher class. In India, this is not the case as a social category has nothing to do. I mean, roughly, it does relate to money because most traders are poor, but even with all the exceptions to it doesn't change the fact of the social state any more than people today in the West might have a difficult time having their, you know, having an African-American and a European-American marry each other regardless of finances. For some people, that's a that's a problem socially. And that's the kind of things but much, much greater than that. Yes. QUESTION I don't know the history. I think the there's no question that the lighter skinned Europeans gave them a huge advantage in India. Definitely. I'm not sure I'd use the word revere, but certainly they were respected, deeply respected. They're not really part of the Varna system. This is an Indian thing. But the very fact they had a lighter skin, I think gave them an advantage over, for example, that African colonizers or something would certainly have been a problem. Indians do have a I. Hindus now have a very strong conception about the color of your skin refers to a social category. So they assume that white people must be rich and powerful. And like the Brahmans, dark skinned people must be poor and disenfranchized that kind of mentality is there even today. Let me say a word about how the word Varna, which is the social classification, ties in to the word Jati because these are two different terms are used in India and they're important to distinguish.


I'm not sure if the word caste here is the best word for Jati, but I'm trying to explain how we use language. In India. You often hear people say they're for caste in India. What they actually mean there for Vaan is there are four overall groups of people. Either you are a Brahmin, which are the priest. The three are the warriors. Vice. You are the merchants. And the Shuja are the servants. Now, this represents the basic categories that are laid out, even in the Vedas. That later Hinduism widely accepts that people fall in these four categories. Brahman Sutra Advice. Yasuda Priestly Class Warrior class. Merchant Class. Servant class. These top three are essentially what would be called upper caste. This group would be lower caste. Now there's another group that has been outcast. We use the word outcast in our own language. Outcast means that you've been because of bad karma. You've been thrown out of the caste system altogether. This group is today called Dalit. You heard on the news this this is probably huge. 45 to 50% of India falls in this category. You've got about, you know, at least 25% in this category. So you're looking at basically 70% of India falls in the category of either low caste or outcast. There's a huge percentage of people in every ten people, whereas only about 6% fall in this category, this upper caste, high upper caste Brahmins. So six of the people completely control the whole society. This is a huge, massive, theologically supported form of racism that disenfranchizes people. And uses these people to keep the society operating, you know, crops and all the rest to serve the higher caste people. If you go up to somebody and you say, What caste are you? And I realize this does not apply to Christians.


It does not apply to people in the tribal areas, and northeast doesn't apply to people outside of they're not part of the Varna system. But if you go up to a Hindu people and you ask them, What caste are you from? Or what caste do you belong to? Every Western is always asked that when they meet people in India. And it's a good question, I guess. But the person will typically not answer and say, I'm a Brahmin, though you might more likely to hear Brahmin say that he knows. That's what you would love to hear. But what they usually respond is not one of these four terminologies, but what's called a jati, now a jati. The best definition will be people group or ethnic group. Now what happens is, even though there are Brahmans, there are hundreds of little subgroups and families. That are part of the main Uncle Vanya. So, for example, if your name is Chakraborty, I know immediately if someone tells me their name that their name is my name is AJ, talk about the book. When I hear they talk about that, I know two things about him. I know that he is from West Bengal. I know he's a Brahmin. He's a Brahmin from West Bengal. You know that by his name Chakraborty. I met his dissertation on a guy whose name is Upadhyaya. If you name Rupert Hyatt, you know he's a Bengali. Some Brahmin is a Brahmin. Indians are very well acquainted. All this. The minute they hear a name, they hear someone say, We have a friend at seminary. I think. I think you mean you know Sam. There. You meet Sam there. Was he there when you were there? And when he works with the the ministries on Friday.


He was already gone when you got there. Anyway, Sam Nair, who now lives down in Bombay, Mumbai. He's from Gujarat. He's a Gujarat to the north, northern part of India. The minute someone hears the name Nair, they know he's a Gujarati, he's a Brahmin, he's a brown background. What they're more likely to say is, Oh, I'm going to talk about the. I'm in there or whatever. So there are many subgroup ends that are within each of these groups and then within these jockeys, and there's probably over 4000 of these jockeys, 4000 plus there is social mobility within that. And so there is a little bit of pecking order and competition between the Qataris as to which group has more standing and other, for example, the circuit board. These are a very light skinned medical group. You see them. They have all the classic features of a Brahman. They look like Brahmans. They have a very, you know, long, thin noses. They're pretty tall people. They've got light skin compared to many Indians. But the neighbors who are Brahmans have a little darker skin. Many people regarded theirs is lower than a checkerboard. This is all part of kind of like the internal pecking order within of ANA. So people groups over time have gradually moved their way up the ladder or down the ladder. But it's always within a particular caste. So there's no way for a screwdriver to ever become a warrior. That's impossible. A shooter cannot ever become a Brahman. There's no way there's no social mobility between these groups at all. But within the groups, there is a bit of a pecking order. There's at least 10% of people in villages when the research was done. Who just flat out did not know.


They just said, I don't know if I am a Dalit or a Shuja. I don't know. Aravinda casts out. I mean, they're so far down the line that they don't know where the caste system stops and the outcasts begin. It's that bad, like 10% who just simply don't know. So, you know, it gets pretty bad as you get down to this. So you can say, boy, there's some nobility there a little bit. But at that point, who cares? It's so bad. For example, in their house of Parliament, the lower house is called the Lok Sabha the People's House. They have certain seats reserved just for Dalits. And so if you're a Dalit, you can get a seat in the Congress that gives you power. It's a very revolutionary idea in India, or they have universities all over India that now say we reserved some of these seats for Dalits and that way give them education, all that. And in that sense, it has helped a lot in India. But even if a person gets education or a political office, I promise you it will not help them when it comes to things like marriage or even just who you eat with. So it's a little bit at that level, kind of like the racial situation in America, in the sense that you have opportunity on one hand that is breaking through at some point kind of a reverse discrimination kind of policy, affirmative action kind of stuff. But on the social level, the societies are very separate. And that sense is very, very true in India today. And it's much harder to break because there's a theological basis, not just a sociological basis. Okay. Questions or comments about this, the outcasts coming to be if everything was arranged into the forecasts.


There's two ways that it happened. The first way is believe that there are certain groups that from the beginning were outcasts because all of these groups represent the Aryan groups. All right. So this is these are the Aryans that came migrating in. These are the dice you the darker people that were there, the Davidians. Now, that's a little bit of a simplification of what actually happened over time, but that's essentially it. So what happens once they met these people, They called them shooters, but then they met other people as they migrated further south who were clearly not part of that group. And so some of these people, they said, well, they must not be a part of the caste system. That's one theory. But the more dominant reason and the more historically verifiable reason is that if a and this happens all the time, then in today a Brahmin, for example, is found to be in bed with a shooter or a woman, for example, they fall in love or whatever. When that comes to light or even they marry them, then both those Brahman answered or outcast. So many of the people groups today that are outcast were once part of a Varna group, but they did something to break caste, for example. My own research on this Bengali Brahmin. He had traveled to the West. Now in Hindi society to cross the ocean is to assault the God. So you're not permitted to cross the ocean, He across the ocean. Now, they had a way in which if you came back, you can repent of that. There's a little procedure, I call it, prior to where a Brahman can go through repentance. I'm sorry for crossing the ocean and he can be readmitted into the Brahmans.


But you could only do that if you'd eaten with foreigners for less than an X number of times. If you only had like 40 meals with the Western person, they could let you back in. If you ate more meals than that, you're outcast. And he had this problem and had this huge this not that many years ago, see? And so the possibility of being outcast for breaking any of their rules is very great because that's how these groups maintain their purity, they believe, is by having very strict rules about what you can do, who you can eat with, who you can talk to, who you can marry, you can control who you will talk to, you know who they can work with and marry and eat. Well, then you can control the whole group. And so that's how it happened. So if a Brahman is caught eating with a shoe drop or a Qatari is taught caught eating with a shoe drop, then they're they're outcast. What if it Brahmins caught with their shoes or a prostitute? That wouldn't count. Wrong. Right? It's hard to say that in terms of practical. I mean, there are probably Brahmans that have had sex within countless prostitutes and gotten away with it. But they have to be very careful about who knows, especially if that she becomes pregnant. Because if the person is seeing with a shoe drawer in any way even touch, and that's what are called untouchables, if a Brahmin even touches a shoe drop, a Brahman can be outcast for that. So now, obviously, sexual intercourse is a serious from a touching. Yes. From if you're an outcast. Yeah, right. Yeah. If you're outcast. I mean, that problem is that there are people who have had the entire clan cast out, and so names can get recalibrated.


But yes, they can no longer call themselves by their family name. The family names in India operate bit differently than ours do. They don't come at the end, so their name kind of their common name doesn't really change. But that family name, they would no longer able to use it. Essentially we drop in that. So yes, I was going to ask the same question. But is that their only distinguishing mark? No, because once you if you're in the caste system, especially a Brahmin, you're a title all kinds of privileges. So for example, you draw water from the village well inside the city limits. I should was never allowed to draw water from the village well, so she had to walk four miles outside the village to get to get water. So if a person was outcast by the political group in that village, then that person would not be allowed to get water. The person would not be allowed to ever no one would ever enter their home again. No one crossed the threshold, you know, So they would be just ostracized in every way that happens socially. It's not just a name change. It involves everything all the way down the line. And then that I guess, you let into the the next part of that. Who is it that decides the there's obviously the rules that you can't break but yet. Right. This is control. This is controlled by the rabbinical social structures. So the Brahmins have guidelines like the laws of my knew which which tell them what they can and cannot do. Even something simple, like if you were to be caught wearing a pair of leather shoes or a leather belt, which comes from a cow, of course. Absolutely. Brahman will never do that if you doing the outcast for that.


So I mean, it controls everything. So someone is found doing these things, then they're ostracized by their peers, people. So we're going out one day and suddenly you notice that no one is speaking to me. You know, something's happened. You inquiring, you find out you've been put out. You no longer belong to God in Cornwall. You have lost your status here. So moving your apartment today at 2:00. So you better get your things and go. You know, I mean, fact, there's many ways they can just completely ostracize you. Yes, I happened to be. In terms of marriage? Yes. In terms of eating with it is not as strict, to be honest with you. There are certain distinctions made between a Brahman is absolutely shut down. They can't even see a person. But the vice is because they're involved in the merchants and farming. They have to work with these these Dalits and surgeries. And so what happens is they are allowed to talk to them. They will often even be seen eating with them on some some parts of India is where you are in India. But they would never, never give their daughter in marriage to one. Absolutely not. So there's kind of distinctions there. You know, we're going to come back to the caste system in other ways throughout the course because it plays into various things. But right now, our only main point here is to simply acknowledge that in the Rig Veda, we have the theological basis for the whole thing. Now what we want to do is to establish some of the religious and theological themes in the Vedas. And if you were to read the Vedas in its entirety and you read a number of them here and I passed out a few more that we'll look at today and next time your first thought is this is kind of like the your typical world of pantheism.


That's kind of what you probably will. The taste will go in your mouth that there are all kinds of gods that are worshiped. In fact, traditionally there are 33 different gods worshiped in the Vedic kind of pantheon. I want to pass out for you here a list of these gods and how they're divided plays here. This this is f y for your information only. Do not feel like you need to memorize this list, but man, you do not need to memorize these 33 gods. All right? This is just to help us to talk about it. There's only a few of these that will employ into our. Our march toward Hinduism. This is just to help you of. Because it's hard to talk about this without at least looking at something to give you a feel for. What happens in the Rig, Veda. Essentially, you have 33 different gods that are worshiped at various points in the Vedas, and they have been divided in many ways between celestial, heavenly deities, atmospheric or air deities and terrestrial earth deities. What I have done is to highlight and kind of large letters and bold letters, the four most important of these deities. Varuna, Indra, Agni soma. Those are very important. Indra, for example, is the National Guard of the Arians. So naturally, he's very important. Indra is a warrior. God, Indra creates fertility in the crops and all that. So, Indra is very, very important. Varuna, which we will look at in a moment. Here is the God who upholds the moral order. It's kind of like the God who keeps justice or rightness in its place in the universe. That becomes very important in Hinduism. The other one over there on the right is Agni, which is the God of the ritual fire or sacrificed, which is very, very important.


Soma is an intoxicating drink that is derived from a plant. In north India. And by drinking this, you can get. Intoxicated. And this became used in order to. So I say get in touch with certain spiritual realities. The Brahmins are known in India for their smoking of hashish, which is much more powerful than marijuana. And apparently creates a lot of delusional states. And this is part of sometimes how this meditations work. But anyway, these are for the gods that are very, very important and they are punished. Shards. But I want to just point out a few things about the kind of pantheon of Vedic deities that is important because you can take an entire course at Harvard on Vedic religion. So this is a kind of a world in itself. People who study and analyze what was done and worshiped and all that in Vedic times, we're not interested in that. In this course. We're mainly interested in what gets carried over into Hinduism or what can we see invaded religion. That is a precursor to what really is important in Hinduism. And one of these is the concept of hypnotism and Raita in the Vedas. Let me explain both of these terms, because you find all kinds of specialized gods, sky, fire, sun, dawn. And if you go down that list there, that the dias is the sky God, the agonies of our God, who says as the God of the dawn, all of these different gods are there or is this is a goddess? But it's vital to understand that we end in a bit of a different category because monotheism. Is the belief in one God. Polytheism is a belief in many gods. But this is actually in a slightly different category known as Hino Theism.


He No theism means that we worship a particular God without denying that other gods exist or are worthy of worship. So I think you find that early on in that religion, the idea that every God can be worshiped as a supreme being. In fact, I think I have some quotes from the Vedas. I am Indra King of the Gods, Lord of the Gods Supreme. These are just quotes I pulled out of the Vedas. Lord of the 33 Gods. The best of the Immortals. This sounds like Indra claims to be the Supreme being of the 33 gods. But think around the Brahma, the first Creator, and Lord the Lord of the Universe. Supreme Guru of the whole universe, God of Gods, Best of Gods, Lord of all. The soul of all. This is the kind of titles he's given, Vishnu. The universe is made of Vishnu. Vishnu, who is himself, the form of everything, Lord of all the supreme soul, the support of the earth, the beginning, the end of the universe. This kind of thing is typical of this literature. Apparently you have what's often called asymmetrical theism. You have people relating to gods in a way that is not in a clear structure of authority. Like, you know, there's the chief God and there's the subordinate gods and all that. But in fact you have multiple isms and people may relate to this, this or that God in a way that is quite independent of the others. Certainly in the presence of that God, you acknowledge his total sovereignty and power. If you do call it polytheism, you have to call it polytheism that is blind polytheism. Polytheism doesn't seem to know about any other gods. And so that really becomes hypnotism. There are people who argue, by the way, that some of that not the leadership, but some of the people of Israel were this way.


You know, Yahweh is our God. But, you know, who are we to say? Maybe the Philistines have their God. You definitely find this in the. The enemies of Israel definitely have this mentality. And they go and they say. When Neiman is healed, he says, Gosh, I'm going to bring back dirt from Israel back to my homeland, because I want to make sure that we have the power of your God. That's that's a very, you know, theistic idea or the text where it says, oh, when we got defeated by the Israelites because their God is the God of the hills. If we're going to entice them out of the plains will beat them. I mean that passage. Now, these are all insights into the worldviews of non Jewish people who regarded that Israel must have their God. We have our God. They have their God. We need to get them over to our territory because our God can beat up on their God in our territory. We'll win their territory. We'll get be it beaten up. It's a mentality. It's hard for us to kind of get our heads around, but this is certainly part of it. And then eventually. In the Indian version of theism, not in other examples of it. You begin to get the idea that maybe all of these gods are just different names for some, you know, all pervading principle. And that becomes very, very dynamic and present within Hinduism. The term for this that comes up in the Vedas. Is this term, Rita? Rita is guarded over by Verona. Rita is the all pervading order of the universe. But there are major, major odd claims made about Rita in the Vedas. For example, if you have your Vedic text by Rita, is the earth sustained by the sun or the heavens by Rita, the adit just stand.


That's one of the Pantheon's deities and Soma is set in the sky. This idea of Rita comes out repeatedly in the Vedas that Rita is somehow another the kind of the glue that holds all this together. Look at this bottom from the author of Veda Man calls the One Deity by the other others name before sunrise and before dawn the interchangeability of the names of the deity. On the right bottom, they call it Indra mitra Varuna Agni. And it is the heavenly bird that flies. The wise speak of what is one in many ways that even in the rig Veda. Very, very strong Hindu idea. It's already emerged in the Vedas. The idea that God has many names and you cannot speak of God in one name, that this is a reality that transcends all of our human expressions of God. That's something that we will encounter is very, very dominant within the Hindu worldview. And so it's already emerging in have an Indian twist of Hindu theism, which says that, oh, not only are there multiple gods that may be independent, and maybe these gods are really just reflections of some greater reality. And this reality in a kind of a cursory way is called Rita. Now, today in Hinduism, it's not called Rita. Rita is not ever discussed really in modern day Hinduism. But the concept of Rita gets carried on. The idea of some all pervading reality later would be called Brahman. But this is a important theological kind of space, or it's in the Vedic material that later gets filled out. We'll have to come back to this and explore it a bit more. Any more questions or comments about the concept of Rita or about theism in the way that is interpreted in the the Indian context? We may have.


No. And that's a big misconception. The West, because most in the West assume and people even use the language here, you know, what caste are you what they really mean is what Varna are you? Because the caste groupings are often the jati and practice in India. Other questions or comments? Yes, you know. You know, there's some tension between these three gods or any different pantheons or some tension between the pantheons, the terrestrial in the sky and all that. There's some tension there. But in terms of individual gods within a sacred pantheon, there seems to not be that really like a vine. Each of them just claims to be, Hey, I'm the chief dog. You don't have a lot of quotations about other deities. Other questions. Yes. So in reading this, I just thought it was inspired by the Soma ingestion of this. Do you think so? Well, I guess that's a good question. I think that if you argue that it's all just like drunken Mad Men, you have to say there's no coherence to it and that maybe that is arguable. There's no question that this in time is put within a very coherent system. All this fits within a system which we're gradually kind of building here. So this is not just a random class where we kind of like there is a lot of structured all this, which in due course we'll see. But whether or not there are individual hems, that may be really bizarre, I don't know. I mean, there's no question a lot of some has been drunk. Okay, let's stop there and we'll come back next Tuesday to continue this development.