Hinduism - Lesson 20

Modern Day Guruism in India and the West

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.

Lesson 20
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Modern Day Guruism in India and the West

XII. Modern Day Guruism in India and the West

A. Introduction

B. Rise of Paramahamsa Ramakrishna (1836-1886)

1. Visionary experiences

2. New developments in Ramakrishna's thought

C. Rise of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

1. Popularization of Ramakrishna’s thought

2. Vivekananda comes West

a. Social ethics

b. Reification of Hinduism as a unified religion

c. “Hindusim” as a “world religion” and the birth of the “saffron mission”

3. Vivekananda and the Chicago Parliament of Religions

D. Streams of Modern Day Hinduism from Vivekananda's Thought

1. Social/Ethical Stream

a. Case study #1: Ghandi

b. Case study #2: RSS movement

2. Meditative/Devotional Stream

a. Case study #1: Hare Krishna movement

b. Case study #2: TM, Yogi

  • 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
Modern Day Guruism in India and the West
Lesson Transcript


Like the gods and goddesses. India has a lot of festivals, a lot of festivals. We're going to focus on some of the major ones. They're actually the government of India has recognized 16 religious holidays. That means that on those days the government workers do not have to work. So they're particularly well celebrated because everybody's on the streets and so forth. But there are many, many other holidays you actually have in India several layers of holidays. You have a layer. One would be the national holidays, which are the 16. Then every state, not every state in most every state will have their own holidays that are peculiar to their state. The most obvious or most important example in India would be example Onam, which is a very huge festival, but it's only celebrated in Kerala. So we're not even to look at that in this class. I was actually in Kerala for them last summer and it's a big deal. They closed down the entire government for an entire week of festivals. So you have a number of festivals that operate at the state level and then you may have a number of religious festivals that are peculiar to a particular sect of Hinduism that may not be across the board. So we're also going to be essentially focused on major surviving version of holidays. We're also limiting, taking out of our consideration major holidays like Christmas, which are which is acknowledged by the government because we have already know what Christmas says. I'm sticking kind of to the major Hindu festivals that are somewhere around the country. The only little caveat, which I will throw in is that even though some of these festivals are sort of out the country, they're often given different meanings based on where you are in the country.


So a lot of times North India will have a little spin on things that are different in south India, where they have a different tradition that they base it on. They do not north or south India or whatever. So there's a little differences. North and south regarding a lot of these festivals and how they develop it, mostly reflecting Soviet version of white tensions or any logical differences within Indian ethnic groups that's necessary to bring out or bring it out. Otherwise we'll let it stand as the major expression of it. What I've done also in both the introduction, is to point out that all of the holidays are most of the holidays are based on the lunar calendar. So the dates vary from year to year. I've given the central dates that most of these things take place in the margins or in a parenthetical points, so you can follow it that way. There's also, in India, a difference of opinion among Indians about what constitutes a lunar month and how you figure it, because some will start it immediately following the new moon. Others will start it at the appearance of the new moon. So there's a little bit of a difference in terms of how some groups will calculate it and all that. But most of the national holidays looking at have standard government calendars that they follow. What I've tried also to do is to kind of give you each of the major holidays what to look at. And as you can see, we're looking only at nine of them. I'm going to share with you basically the key thing that symbolizes and then I'm going to have what I call a practical sign. This is like for the layperson, what you would actually notice if you are in India.


Things that I've observed at various points looking at these holidays. So. We'll do that. Actually, the first one I don't have any pictures for, but the first is Hottie, which is generally somewhere around the middle of January is typically January 14th, I think is kind of that you often hear a lot It's kind of a new year thing is actually not the official beginning of the Indian calendar Indian year, but it is a starting off fresh. They will do things to symbolically demonstrate the casting off of evil and blessing, asking the gods to bless them for the coming year. They'll say this thing. They'll say at the IEA, the latter day means may the blessings come to me. IEA means come, May the curses leave day. So they will say this. Typically around campfires, these fires are build these huge fires and the fire technically represents Agni. Again, they go back to the Vedic times they will cast. Popcorn and peanuts. Candles into the fire. And it's supposed to be quite a remarkable way to cast off evils and ask for blessings for the new Year for the coming year. So that's done. You'll often find kids going around. It's almost like a the closest thing I can think of is trick or treat in America. Kids will go around to the doors and they'll knock on your door and ask for candy. And the candy symbolizes blessings. And so you give them the candy and they'll go and they'll dance around the fire and they'll eat candy big time, and then they'll throw the candy into the fire. Or some of the candy in the form also gets eaten. But some of the fire popcorn in the fire, things like that, that's the hurry.


The second one, which is certainly more instantly visible, is the celebration of the death of winter and the return of spring. So this occurs on February, March. We definitely need that right now. Everybody needs a holiday festival. But this is actually an exchange of colors is really the way it's described, as we will see in our own climate here. Things will begin to change, The colors will change, things will get green again. And so in India, this normally means, practically speaking, as you can see in this very, very ancient picture here, that people will spray each other or scored each other with colors. And so this is the thing. Naturally, the kids really enjoy this because you get to go around with the squirt guns and, you know, God says it's okay and you fill it with various colored fluids and everybody knows during the holiday you don't wear nice clothing because you will get your clothing splattered with various kinds of dye or color. And some people throw like colored sand on you, things like that. But you'll have an exchange of colors that goes on show and pictures in the moment. It goes back for ancient times. Here you have some again, this is a same picture just further out of the exchange of colors in ancient India. This is a modern day group that's just had a kind of holy battle, a holy battle of how they battle. So they've been spraying each other with colors and paint. So and you see this guy has these guys who put their handprints on their bodies and all. It's a very exciting thing. Now, all this supposedly is celebrating the death of one or the coming of a spring in north India, especially where we are.


It's a such with Krishna, according to Hindu mythology, which we've only looked at a little bit in this class. But Krishna, as an infant, killed a demon who served the king of winter. And so they use this opportunity to celebrate Krishna across the most of India. It's actually dedicated to karma. We haven't discussed come of it. Karma is the God of sexual love in India, so you'll find a lot of celebration of love and people will get married. There's actually two periods he'll get married during this time and during Diwali. We'll look at later and almost everybody gets married during those two months. So in the north especially, you'll see a lot of influence on the GOP's all over India. People get plastic squirt guns, spray each other with colored liquids. It doesn't last five days, but occurs during the February, sometimes during February and March when it falls based on the lunar calendar. This guy here, he says, covered his face for holiday. The third festival is the fest, the Nog festival you have here Nog Panchami. Again, the word punch is the word for five acts. 13 hour punch is the five day festival. I want you to look at this and see if you can tell me a little bit about it from what you already know now. The word for snake is nog in Hindi as well as Sanskrit. And so this is a time to celebrate the snake and to revere the snake. There's a lot of a lot of stories in India to surround the snake. This is a poster celebrating the Nog festival. What can you tell me about it? Looking at what else besides the snake? There's a severe lingham. Rusty, See the arm symbol? You see the arm symbol? That is.


It is even. Even the snake is. Resonating with sound. What else you see? Right. Right. You definitely see the two main symbols of Chavez, if you count the Seville Lingam as the third major symbol. And what does Shiva wear on his neck? Snake. So this ties in to the all the shovel. So it's a north end is a very important festival. People will take the snakes, they'll paint them. One of my biggest memories in India was actually I had come to India with a suitcase, naturally, and I was in a van in Bhopal, and we went over this hill and where they used to live, you had to pass underneath this one of these bars. It's well, it's actually a bridge. But for the bridge, they have a big steel bar there. So the trucks that are there are too high, can't go because the dredge is too low. So it's like a protective bar, like you see it, you know, drive through or whatever. So he did not anticipate how high my suitcase would be. So when we swept underneath, there was a van which only passed right through. It just caught the edge of my suitcase and exploded it and all my stuff went flying everywhere. And the suitcase was just totally destroyed. All right. So I gathered my stuff out. The suitcase was totally lost. Just threw it in the ditch. I got all my stuff and put it in the back. And so we had to go buy a a suitcase as well. What was so interesting, you know, in India, they were so short. And if I walked in the Shard by suitcase, the price would double because I would. So, you know, as a white face. So they said, you stay in the car, we'll go buy it and then bring it back.


So they went to buy is a cigaret still use this day? Actually I go to India anyway it happened during dog festival. And so here I was sitting in this truck or this car brutally hot, had the windows down. It was so hot and they were in there negotiating the price of this box. They call them boxes but suitcases. So, you know, that takes forever. You know, we've gone through the whole process and, you know, I didn't want to buy the store, just the suitcase and all that, you know. So finally, while they're out there, the nug people get wind the I'm in the car. So they thought, oh, this might be opportunity for some some, you know, easy offerings. So I was surrounded by snakes, people holding snakes and I mean, and that's all just like little garden snakes. I mean, serious cobras and stuff that people had painted and decorated them and they kept thrust them into the window where I was. Now I can handle a lot of things, but that was really difficult because these snakes didn't look very friendly and mean. You see things like this, this is very typical. They're not festival. This is, you know, the famous Indian snake charmers, what happens during nog. And so these guys had these snakes. These are not just, you know, garden snakes. They had them all painted and all of they were holding the window at me, but I survived it. You'll find this. Why didn't I had a picture? They seem to have lost it. But I have another picture. Someone in the files. So you see a lot in India as people will take milk and pour it down Holes in India. Again, the ideas, the snakes open the holes will bless the snakes for milk down the hole.


So there's a lot of that. You see a lot of strange things going on. And this stuff I have yeah, I have it on here actually. Snakes are seen everywhere. People sprinkle vermillion as the red powder that they put on there. For the third, I shiver. They put rice on the hoods of the cobra. This is of course, you know, so this is the hood of the cobra. So they will they'll sprinkle rice on it. The main thing you'll notice is just snakes everywhere. Since we cobras people will wear snakes around their necks. Is is not a minor festival. This is I mean, again in north India. Am sure it's more than South India, but since I work in north India, I'm amazed this happens when I'm there. But you're just amazed that snakes will come out of the woodwork during this festival and they worship the snake. I was. If we had time, we could have taken time to explore a lot of the stories behind each of these things. But unfortunately, we're going to have to keep moving here. But just to give you a feel for some of the major holidays that occurs in July and August, why do the farmers refuse to plow during the night? They refuse to flower because they don't want to disturb the snakes, because when you plow, you kill snakes and mice and things. And so they refused to plow during that time. What do the Christians do during this festival? That is a great point. One of my handouts here Can a Christian celebrate Hindu Diwali festival? This is really probably why I bring this up, because it involves some really important dialog. Legal issues. And so we will talk a little bit about it and that'll happen.


Many of you who go to India probably go in the summertime. So you often see that if you if you go, you should be well aware of that. This is not a straight street with a snake on their neck. You won't feel surprised if you're in a holy place like they're an AC or Haridwar or Richard Case is right on the Ganges River. You may find someone with a snake around their neck and nothing else on. It's really quite a remarkable sight. Okay. Yes, I would say is it a living handling all these things? A lot of people die from snake like people do. The ones who do this, like this young man here that have been trained to do it, They handle snakes from the time they're very, very young. If I get a cast, there's a cast of people who do this, I mean, and then everything's a jati, I say, got cast. I mean Jati. It's a jati special caste grouping that does this. So because of that, they have techniques where they milk the poison out of them, but that that's not that effective, actually, that will keep you from being killed, but not necessarily from, you know, getting bitten or or sick that you handle snakes in your area. So tell us one of the. THOMAS They came to my area and then, you know, what do you do? It's a whole one, one kind of a problem. Yeah, right. And he didn't have that one. I wish they'd give me that herb before they took the snake in my car window in the movies where they have the baskets and they. They blow and they come out of the basket and all that. And I always thought that was like Hollywood, but I've seen it many times actually doing this.


In fact, especially during this time, if you're a tourist and you go to a big hotel, even like Marriott and some international hotels like that, they all have on staff a guy who sits out in the front, you know, and and does this for tours, like if you have a five star, five star hotel and you come in India, a lot of people don't actually go out in the villages. They'll go to a five star hotel to go air conditioned train to see Taj Mahal in Agra, back to Delhi and out. So they want to see India. So their ideas in India is to see a snake charmer. And so these guys now have all the big hats, all the flowers and all that. This is kind of like your typical St Nog festival guy. This is what you would actually see in the heads of people standing like this. And there used to be a person with them that is asking you for money because you're getting to see the show, as it were. But in the hotels you'll see them really dressed up with all kinds of big, big fancy hats and plumes, and they're playing the things it's like comes out and opens up his hood and everybody gasp. He takes the money, he puts it back in the basket. And, you know, it looks great. I mean, you know, all he has do is feed the snake a lot more. And this idea that I'm not only in the festival, but people picture, you know, just give me eggs for the whole year and you sit in the one place down and not only the snake, but only you. Yes, that's true. That's true. You can see those snake transits, the big hotels year round.


I know in Bhopal. I don't if you saw the big anthill in Bhopal, the snake lives inside. There's a huge anthill in a city in central, north central India that they believe a snake lives in there. And there's all kinds of stories about the snake and how the snake saved the city and the da da da. And so people will pour offerings in this whole year around in honor of the snake in Bhopal. Okay. The other is Janmashtami, which is Christmas birthday, occurs in August and September, and you will find many, many, many reenactments of Christian stories that come out of the piranha material, especially back out to Parana, stories about Christian, his life, his boyhood. You'll find this particular well, this you see this baby Krishna, very, very typical. I'm sure the other hand is in the butter dish. This is the scene of the famous scene about Krishna stealing the clothing. They will reenact this event and many places around India. So during this time you'll see Krishna plays. People also will take pots, clay pots filled with butter or milk curd, whatever, and they will string it up way up high from trees or buildings or whatever, and people will reach for it and they'll have like human pyramids to see if you can go and grab it. And again, all this is play. On the idea of Krishna stealing the butter. You're reenacting this, you know, grabbing the butter. And of course, it supposedly represents getting blessings and so forth. So you'll see a lot of this kind of thing during this time period. The Western whites will also use it as an austerity time to fast until midnight, and then they will have celebrations throughout the night. So Christmas birthday is one of these.


Yes. When they're reenacting that scene, how much they reenacted. Yeah, they don't know. Believe me, they don't reenact it. In actuality, they reenact it symbolically. Yeah. Right. And then the other thing is, what do like the sense this would be obviously a big holiday vision of what to do, like the showboats and others such as those, What would they do? It depends on what you mean. If you're if you mean by that, do they still accept Christmas birthday because of the role of the Bhagavad Gita? Everybody can appreciate Christmas, birthdays, Even the South end was North Indians. There may be some of the particular stories that they may not celebrate in certain places, but just the basic idea of Christmas birthday is not a problem for anybody. They're very eclectic, you know, So it's not a problem even if you're. Renate The other is, of course, Ignatius life, the goodness Chaturthi, which celebrates his life and his exploits. You find this especially in West India and South India. What you'll find is they will create thousands and thousands of Ganesh images. And this is a picture of a man that's creating these. You can see behind him he has produced dozens and dozens of them, which will then be sold rather relatively cheaply. These are quickly made and people will take these images. They will sing to them for over a week and they'll carry them to the Ganges. Some body of water, well, they're all cast in the water and they're supposed to represent blessings. Remember the story about Ganesh when his head was cut off because of guarding this place? When he was head was restored by Shiva, He is called to be the overcomer of obstacles. I mean, it's the ultimate obstacle in your head cut off.


And so Ganesh supposedly helps you overcome even the worst obstacles that you face. And so people typically in India, my experience, if you go into a shop or retail shop, you almost always see a Ganesh statue there, because Ganesh statue represents poverty, overcoming poverty, loss and prosperity. You'll see either Ganesh or Lakshmi in these places very regularly. So Ganesh is tied into this a lot. You'll see thousands of clay idols of Ganesh appear in the marketplace for sale. This is later followed by all kinds of puja to Ganesh. Here's one example of a Brahman that's it's burning the sacred flame, offering incense to Ganesh. And you may not recognize this off the top as a Ganesh, but you can see, of course, his trunk. This is indeed a Ganesh Puja service going on. And you can see the sacred thread of the Brahmin there and there another guy has his on. These are some young men that haven't been invested yet. The next one is the sixth one is Durga Puja. You already know about the goddess Durga takes place in September October. It's really I don't have it noted here on the handout, but it's something is particularly practiced in West Bengal in the eastern part of India. The rest of India focuses not so much on Durga as on the Ramayana celebrations, because the basic theme of Durga, as you remember, is that she overcomes the demon God and she has a big, big epic battle where she destroys the demon. So in the same way the Ramayana epic is reenacted to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. So this is the time when children will come and they will have marvelous festivals. Now, this particular event here, which is called Duse Roar, it means the setting up of an effigy of Ravana.


And remember in the Rama Ramayana, this was the big demon that had captured Sita and they had had the whole engagement with Hanuman, and Hanuman helped Rama restore Sita to himself. Of course, it's a long, complicated story, but that's the gist of it. So Ravana is the demon king, so they will create these huge effigies. And this is I'll show you a picture of this other picture, but this is actually, I would say, small. By the standards of how these how these can be made. I mean, so this is as you can see, this is probably, what, 15 feet high, though. They have them that are 20, 30 feet high. Huge things, not as big as a Saddam Hussein's statue, but big. And what they'll do is they'll create the statue. They'll re reenact the whole event of the Ramayana. And then in the process, they will light this on fire and they'll burn up to symbolize the victory over the demons. And you can imagine the kids how much every kid would enjoy this scene, this huge effigy of this big figure being lit on fire. And people gather around, have big celebrations, and all the rest. Give you a few other pictures of it. Here's another one. See how large this is? This is a fairly large demon. Here's some others that are really big. You can see how the size of person is not that clear, but you can see it. And here they are setting one up. These are massive effigies that they create and then they burn to the ground at the height of the festival. So you'll see the Ramayana epics. I think I may have a picture here of a Yeah, this is a Ramayana epic that's being reenacted for a crowd.


They're all gathered there and that's being reenacted on the stage for them. How long is this festival? All these festivals are roughly a week or slightly less than that. Five or six days. And what role? The gentlemen generally have certain things that take place on each day. It doesn't mean they could have worked the whole week, but they'll have like a build up that maybe the government will give them off the day of the main day of the festival. But there'll be all kinds of things you do building up to that. So just like usually a whole week or so, the whole workweek from Monday to Friday. And set aside for this, you have people this is a painting, but it's the painting of young boys and young girls gathered around while this sage recounts them. The epic stories. I mean, this is an idealized thing. I don't know that it happens quite this way today as much. You probably have it more often with just families and things of that nature. But still, the idea of young people gathered on hearing these stories and epics, now they seem on TV is really a big part of the way Hindu thought is passed down from period to period. The next big one, and this is the biggest one in terms of just practical, what most Hindus will definitely celebrate is Diwali. It's spelled various ways. I have on my hand out the valley because it's more how it's pronounced Diwali, you'll see it spelled D, e w ally or d i w i d i valley the v and w in India is completely merged. I'm not saying that to be critical of Indian English, but it's just a fact that even in high level Indian schools where they teach English, they don't distinguish from a V and a W, And so it's very normal even to have a very well-educated Indian who has beautiful, perfect English, will not always have their BS and WS, right? They'll say they're older than world.


And so you'll find that this is a kind of ongoing problem has to do with certain features in Hindi especially that make this difficult. So Diwali is the way it's probably pronounced and it actually come from Deepavali, which is Sanskrit, which is a deep is a word for blessings, the time of receiving blessings. And this is a time where they have major celebration of fireworks. It celebrates the return of Rama from exile, which is part of their minor and a long exile period. Because it's Diwali, they will have a number of weddings during this period. They believe this is a very auspicious time for weddings. So you'll see Lakshmi, which you should recognize this as Lakshmi, because the iconography, especially the lotus and the coins come from the hand. Lakshmi is often associated with Diwali, and so they will celebrate Diwali, celebrate prosperity. People believe it's a good time to get married. And in my experience, being in India during Diwali is that there's a wedding almost every night they'll parade the groom to the streets. I mean, traditionally the groom comes on a big horse and all. They have a big celebration. Nowadays. It's sometimes on a car, but they'll have these generators and they will generate power on the card itself without having electricity plugged in. They can just parade down the streets with these huge lights and loudspeakers and they'll be singing. And it's not something that happens like a wedding that's an hour. This is like an all night affair. Sing, Sing, sing, sing, sing all night long. Beat on drums, child. And it's difficult to sleep for really is this is a whole several weeks. This goes on. So say fireworks, weddings, People clean their homes out. They were getting new clothing.


It's a very. First of all, Tom, this is the closest thing to Christmas. In terms of how it's regarded, a lot of gift giving, visiting homes and all that. Another big part of it, though, were Diwali refers to the Festival of Lights. And so they will buy lights and lamps and put them in their homes. Have some pictures here of this is an ancient picture of a Hindu woman bringing light to the gods, putting lights in her homes. Here is a modern day picture in north India. It's not a great picture, but I think it's rather typical. This is a typical marketplace in India, and people are all gathered around. They come in their scooters. This is very, very typical modern site, and they're buying these lamp lanterns. This is definitely Diwali time. They buy these lanterns and they take them and put them up in their homes, kind of people to here decorate Christmas trees and all that. Here's another example of this. A nearby market, same thing, plenty of lights. People come and they buy these lights and decorate their homes in a beautiful way. This is the end of the monsoon, period. Oh, you notice that Also the mask where they have the demons, they'll reenact the Ramayana as well. And they will sell these masks and they'll reenact various plays and all that various for one of the epics. The next one is the massive arati, which is actually the Great Shiva austerity. This is a day of fasting and a night of keeping vigil to earn the merits of Shiva. They will usually follow this with a great festival eating celebration. All of this people go and dip in the Ganges. This is very, very popular. You might imagine North India and they will celebrate all the things connected with Shiva.


And you can see here, you can barely see. But this is the snake around Shiva's neck. So you definitely recognizes the shiva. You can see that it's a spot, not an ark. It's definitely a sign of Shiva, but it's a close up shot, too. You don't see the Meru and other things. So you'll see pilgrims going everywhere to dip in the Ganges. You see Shiva Lingam sold in the marketplace in the shops. We'll talk about the pilgrimage here in a minute. But the if you live anywhere near the Ganges and where I teach is right at like very, very close to the Ganges River, you'll just see thousands of pilgrims on the street and they typically will come. They'll have these long banners on their shoulders with all kinds of decorations on it. And that tells people we're on our way to the Ganges and you'll see a thousand people going. But especially in the Kumba Mela, which is the last one. The Kumba Mela is the great festival. Now, this does not occur every year. It technically occurs once every 12 years, but they are again back to Hindu mythology. In Hindu mythology it was a great fight between the gods and the demons over this stuff called AMREF. Which gives you immortality. And in the process of this battle, there were several drops that were dropped out. There's actually seven drops, but four are the most important drops, three or other, a whole other kind of tradition. But the four drops that come out and fall on four sacred places on the Ganges River, they believe that those spots, immortality can be achieved. Of course, this is a great tragedy that people believe this, but people believe that at this time it's certain auspicious times.


Then the gods are goddesses will especially come down to provide this immortality. So the result is you have massive migrations to the Ganges River during this time. What they've done is they have taken the four sites and they have divided into every three years. They'll go to one of the one of them will be the main place you go. So there's always one of these of meals occurs every three years, but on every 12th year they'll have a Maha Kumba Melo, the great Cuban manna, which represents the real 12 year cycle period. And we had one a few years ago. I'll show you some pictures of actually that are absolutely amazing, the number of people that come to these things. They believe the Sarasvati mystically turns into a river at that time. Sarasvati, of course, is the goddess of knowledge and right where the Ganges and the Yemini river meets. These are two very famous rivers in India, where they meet is an especially auspicious period. People will come and they'll be they'll dip into the river. Look at the number of people here. This is not a small gathering. I mean, just as far as the eye can see, you have people coming to dip in the Ganges River. This man here is facing the sun. Most likely there's a certain prayer that you pray in of the Vedas when you face the sun like this. Dipping in Ganges, a lot of people will come. This is this is actually at Allahabad. This is the Maha Kumar Mela. They say it's the largest gathering in the entire history of the human race. Millions and millions of people gathered in one city. It's unbelievable. You have to see it to believe it. Here's a picture again.


You see these people here have on their birthday suits. I mean, it's a very dramatic sight. They have maybe nothing on but a snake and a holding sword. And it's quite a dramatic festival. And they believe intently believing. You see the banners I was telling you about, they're holding up these banners tell people that we're on our way to pilgrimage. So. Well, now they've all arrived and there are millions of people here to dip in Ganges and believe they believe by doing this, they receive salvation. This is the great tragedy of the whole Hindu religion. This is the because this is the great this is as good as it gets. I mean, this is the climax of your faith. Is it one of these auspicious times coming in, receiving salvation? All the puja and all that is common in this kind of event. And this is what they can offer. They will dip in the Ganges. And it's not just, you know, when we see crowds, it maybe it doesn't have the personal faith, but this is the one I got off the Internet. This are some much better shots of a woman up close who is dipping in. This is actually taken during a Kumba may not the mark of Amala, but she's dipping in Ganges River and she believes by having this experience that she'll be saved. That's what she's been told. This man here coming to the Ganges to to die or to make his final puja to the river. God believed by coming this way, he will. He'll be saved. Yes. You know what I mean? Yes. We're going to. Where does it come from? It came from a turtle shell that was holding this milky, amorous substance. And they believe that some drops fell out in this substance, which they believe is immortality.


So it's part of their mythology. Yes, it was. It was actually a fight between the nog. Part of the nog. Snake comes to this one as well, because one of the parts of the battle you have, the big demon figures. I can't think of their names, but they're fighting Vishnu. And in the course of this fight, the nog, which would be a civil part of mythology, later comes and the demon tries to drink it all, and he wraps himself around the demons neck and set with the snake so that he can't get the he can't swallow it. And it comes out and they catch it. And there's this huge epic battle. And so it's all very high in mythology. It's not really in the gospel of Mark, but once they will, yeah, they'll do this repeatedly if they can, then they don't have faith that it worked the first time. Now they have no assurance of this. Absolutely not. If they have the ability to go to Ganges, they'll go, There's many times they can. This is not like the going to Mecca, you know, for once in your lifetime. No, there's absolutely no assurance in Hinduism. What have you done enough? So you're doing this, hoping that you'll be saved. Look at the crowds. Yes, kind of along the lines where I was going to ask, how does the city function, what that means. It is it's unbelievable. I mean, I don't know how they function. I know when they claimed when the crowd came to alibied for the McNamara that they could they were satellite pictures taken from space that could see the movement of people. There's no other human gathering. I've always heard the only thing that can be seen from space manmade is the Great Wall of China.


Right? You always have always heard that. But they saw the movement of pilgrims in Allahabad from space. That's many people. I mean, it's all millions. It's unbelievable. I have no idea how they dealt with it, because there's people who, of course, get killed. And I'm sure there's a lot of problems that occur with this. But just the sheer mass of them you look at this is just a little thumbnail of a massive, massive pie that goes on for weeks and weeks and weeks. And these people here, you notice they're carrying food with them, offerings that they'll throw into the Ganges River. She's got this little vessel to bring water home with her from Ganges. There are other important rites of passage which are not really part of the festivals I just mentioned here in passing. You do not need to know these some scars, which is the ritual of naming a child a very big part of the Hindu. It's actually where you enter into the into life as a part of the Hindu community later on Open Yana, which is where an upper caste boy is started out in the student stage of his, the four stages of life and you're invested with the sacred thread. I meant to bring a thread to show you to my office, but I'll do it next time. But all it is is just a little cotton piece of cloth. They'll invest this on the boy at this stage, the Vaka, which of course is second stage, the household stage at marriage. Marriage is very important. One of the things culturally in traditional times, the purpose of marriage, according to traditional Hindu writings, is to produce a son that will continue the Vedic sacrificial fire not for love, emotional satisfaction, on and on all those things, the ethics bring out all kinds of emotion and love and satisfaction, all the rest.


So India, like everything else, has these kind of twin ideals that is always pressing people regarding what marriage is. I think for most people, marriages means all the things that we would say it means. But I think that there's other kinds of religious service that comes into it. And then DST, which is the funeral service where the deceased is cremated, called a shot, Ha, where you and then your ashes are cast into the Ganges River. Other sites of the Kumbh Mela. Here you have all these gurus that are gathered that gather followings and people come and sit their feet. These are all Brahmins here. Brahmin. They're giving you his blessing. Yes. If these guys are saying that they do use drugs, I don't know how widespread it is because I never heard anything about that. But I know in Haridwar, which is near where we are, which is one of the suspicious sites, the men will sit on circles like this and they will have these huge water pipes. Well, they have like multiple what they call it stems. Yeah. From his experience and all this. So yeah. So they, they will smoke the water pipes and in the part of the this burning that they suck through the water is hashish which is the much stronger the marijuana is like the, the active ingredient of marijuana. So they will they are smoking hashish is very regularly whether there's other drugs involved, I don't know but these guys definitely like to smoke those water pipes. Yes. No, there's no particular time to die other than when your time comes. But there are people who make a long journey to Ganges in order to die when they get to the end of their life. So there are places that you can stay along the Ganges River while you're awaiting your death.


I don't know that anybody hurries it along. You know, people's life span in India is a bit shorter anyway. And so a lot of these people come when they're very old. And you can see some extremely old men that have made their way to the Ganges. They probably took a bus to get there, but once they get there, they put their stuff on row one. They have their little cane and they'll be there for months and months until they die. And then they are cremated and their ashes are scattered in the Ganges River. And usually what they'll do, rather, is dump their ashes. Then they take the bodies, whether it be a man or a woman, if they're doing the cremation. And what they'll do is you'll take the body and you'll wrap the body. And if it's a woman like a sorry head to foot. So you can't actually see the person's face or any part of actually just it's like a mummy and they'll send you the men. I have cloths, they wrap the man around, wrapped, wrap around the man's, then they take the body and you lay it out on the, on the bank and they have these bodies just laid out there. You can just see their obviously bodies. And then the family goes to the special place and they say this family is the richest family in India. Their only job is to keep fire going. And they claim this is the Vedic the original Vedic fire that has never gone out. The whole thing about sons keeping the fire going, it's all part of the whole Vedic mythology. You can't just go down there and put your own family and you took a match. You've got to go and get the they the fire.


It's sort of like a little high place and Varanasi and there's a little structure there and inside it's completely dark, but there's a man there use like in the lotus position to represent the family. Or maybe he's part of the family, I don't know. And they have this fire going there in the side. It's like tube. And so you you go there and you pay money and you have like a torch or something that you light off of that fire. So now you have the fire. So then you take that fire down to the bank. Meanwhile, either before or after this depend on your situation. And the other families have done it. They go down to the banks and there's like I show you a picture of this where they have these big tent things, these big like circular basket umbrellas, basically. And underneath all of the umbrellas are Brahmans, and they will teach you some mantra. So they'll say, you know, you know, such outcome, my seashore, whatever. And you say, Grandma, he said, you pray, you pronounce this, you get the whole thing just perfect. And then finally you go down to the banks. Then of course, there's officials to do all these things for you. They take the body, they'll take the fire from you, and they'll light the body with the fire. And then they they burn them. I have stood out from here to you, from these bodies being burned. I mean, they look to get closer. And I've heard now that they no longer permit people to go and they want to take picture that I've observed it. They have like six or eight bodies at a time on this fire, and they'll just throw the body on the fire.


And after a while, you know, this stuff burns off and you see like burning flesh. I mean, it's just really, really shocking. But meanwhile, they're taking the ashes and they're kind of separating the ashes out. There's no way you can actually determine which ashes are yours because they have multiple bodies. Now, maybe if you're somebody special like Gandhi, I'm sure they didn't throw him an apology. What else? But ordinary people, they just on the fire. And so eventually they take what's basically wherever your ashes were, they take them off and they shove them into this basket. I love big weaved basket. And so they will say, okay, here, here they are, here, here she is, or here he is. All right. So you simply have a basket with a mound of ashes on it, and then they will have other people there to sell you flowers like flower petals, and you'll cover the whole thing with beautiful flowers and coconuts and various things. But your food, something about food on there. But mainly I've seen flowers. So you basically a big man of flowers on this basket. And the basket is made of fairly heavy reeds and stuff because it can float at least for a short period, like a small boat, a little boat thing. So you go to the Ganges, they go down to the water wherever it got, or steps that you think are the most auspicious and you have the money to pay for it and you're allowed to enter the ashes into the Ganges. So this little thing goes out in the Ganges and the water depends on what time of year it is, but it can be, you know, really, really high and monsoon periods. Fast moving water or low sloping water, but you put it out there and the river takes it away.


So you look out on the river and you'll see dozens of these things floating along. And then after just a little bit of time, maybe from the width of this room or less, the rapids will grab the edge of it and it'll flip it over and it'll be scattered in the Ganges. Paul Hiebert is a professor of missions at Trinity. He spent many years in India. This is not really what I would call a true case study in the technical sense, but these are called case studies. They're meant for classes like this or any class where you raise questions. And he asks the question that you raised earlier about what do Christians do about this? And essentially, during Diwali, the whole thing is steeped in various stories related to Hinduism, and yet it's become very much a cultural event. It's just a lot like asking why do people who don't aren't Christians, why they celebrate Christmas or put the lights on their house and Christmas trees and visit their families and exchange gifts when they're not Christians? Why do they do that? It's stupid. But if people do it, it's because it's become a cultural thing. This has happened with all the festivals in India, especially festivals like Diwali, because this is probably the most widely practiced one. If you look at the story, it kind of gives a background about the family. Mr.. Mrs. Claus had come from the Tamil Nadu, kind of gives their little story. This is all these are true stories. If you go down to the third paragraph, they got there just a few months before the annual Hindu festival Diwali, which celebrates the victory of the God Lord Krishna over the evil Nakamura, the demon. The missionaries were encouraged by the Prasad's conversion and did their best to strengthen them in their faith.


They visit and so forth. Next paragraph is Diwali approach. The villagers began to decorate their homes, preparing all the lamps they would place around them to some of the festival. Many of them that's their huts with new grass and bought new clothing. I mentioned as well when I talked about it as this particular festival approached, how the besides were depressed for the first time that the number of Diwali time their home was dark and undecorated, it didn't help their mood that Mr. or Mrs. Raj were away visiting a neighboring village. Finally, the evening before Diwali was to begin the mission return, the Prasad family had merely gone over to welcome them back. It was while they were sitting together and Mrs. Packer was preparing the evening meal that Dujarric had asked his disturbing question. Mr. Parish had said he needed a little time to think and pray about his response, so he invited the Prasad family to come again the following evening and when they would discuss it some more. As Mr. Cross neared his own home the next evening, he still was not sure exactly what he would say to Prasad's. The question is can we celebrate Diwali? He didn't remember hearing that the first Christians in Europe had begun to celebrate the birth of Christ in a pagan winter festival. They had picked that time because they were servants and their masters gave them holidays during that festival. It was his understanding that Christians had taken the pagan symbol of an evergreen tree, decorate light, and turned it into a symbol of their own evergreen hope for eternal life. Because of Jesus coming to the world, Could a similar interpretation be applied to the Hindu festival Diwali, which also celebrates the victory of good over evil? Perhaps Victor Christ felt it was important for new converts to make a clean break with Hinduism If they do not keep clear distinctions between Hinduism, Christianity, the Christian community could wind up being absorbed under Hinduism as inclusive umbrella.


If that were going to happen, Christianity's distinctiveness and its evangelical witness would be quickly blurred and lost. On the other hand, Mr. Penrose also knew that he must help the Prasad family find a way to restore the joy their salvation. He wondered how I could do that. Finally, he decided, okay, don't turn your page. There's not. There's no other. That's the way all of these end. He has a whole book of these things. They all in. Dot, dot, dot. I got this off the Internet. Just keep me from typing it. But it's right out of his book. So what do you say? I mean, this is not a polite anthropology class, so we don't really have really had the background to talk about it, but just thought it would be worth throwing out there on the table. What do you think about this? Should Christians or Hindu background celebrate Diwali? The other one, is this just a big issue about eating the prasad, the food sacrificed to idols? I mentioned that this is one of the top 15 questions that Hindus ask Christians. I think I mentioned that to you that I'm doing this work on. It's impossible to do church plan in North India without somebody asking you why do you not take Prasad? So this is not like a theoretical question in the classroom. This is an actual question. And even more so, they would ask if you didn't practice Diwali. I was in India during Diwali a year ago, last December and a year and a half ago now, and I was there. And one of the questions that was asked, we were going to meet these Hindus in their homes during Diwali. And so one of the students said to me, how are you going to greet them? Because they knew that it's like when you meet somebody at Christmas time, you say, you know, Merry Christmas.


That's how you got involved in the Valley. You say, you know, happy the Valley. So the son asked me, Are you going to say Happy Valley to them? And I said, Well, I'll tell you what I said, but I want to get your own feedback. What do you think about the Valley? It's a similar thing. Some Christians celebrate it. Some Christians provide alternatives. Some Christians will say it's wrong to celebrate it. The only difference with that is that's a Christian holiday that's become pagan rather than I mean, Halloween was Hollywood Eve the evening before All Saints Day is Sun has become associated with all this other stuff. And so you might have a strong argument for saying, wait a minute, this is our holiday stolen, which you could argue happened on Christmas, too. Now it's kind of like a big orgy of materialism or something. How do you redeem national holidays, whatever their origin is, or can they be redeemed? Should they be redirected? Do you say happy Diwali when you meet them on the road? Anybody have any thoughts on it? I don't think there's like some super right answer and super wrong answer. I just curious your thoughts. You'll find Christians in India that are all on the spectrum on this point. It seems that a healthy alternative can be provided. If the heart of the festival is good over evil, then there could be a Christian alternative. However, the question remains, though would it cause new converts to stumble under? Let's see here. You know, the new said new converts need have a complete break with it. It's incorporating the three principles in talks about history. It mentions class. You can adapt the forms you know, that are already there or alternative or gradually, you know, inform the younger generation.


Okay, Anybody have. Well, I echo that or provide an alternative. Someone say, No way, Jose. You know somebody that would provide a different perspective. Yes. And you know, like especially. We decided on an emotional issue rather than a theological principle. We want to feel happy and good or. Radical. Okay. So you're saying you'd be more open to receive Assad and you would. So in the valley is what you're saying? No question. Claire. Okay? Yeah. I a. Other thoughts. Rachel I was thinking that which was really important in that. I guess. She's not lost. And it's important to provide context for people experiencing what we're. Okay. Yes. I just imagine with your family and your. I know. Okay, that's fair enough. Nobody doubts that that would be hard on a family to cleanse their children. But I think the point that she made, even if you should do Duvalier, should not be demolished, should be decided on theological grounds first. Those considerations may be there, but I think it would be worthwhile to at least explore what I think you are basically doing. Rachel, What are there biblical grounds or historical grounds for Christians participating in or redirecting or declining to participate in pagan festivals, quite apart from whether or not it would be hard to. There's a lot of things your kids, your your kids, you'll find out if you don't want to have kids are things your kids would like to do that you have to say, I'm sorry, you can't do it because I'm in charge of the household and your kids will scream, but eventually they get over it. First of all. And the people that we cannot do what we do, because if there is a. All of that. I know we have a lot of festivals, the Asian festivals, and we are now 98% Muslim, but used to celebrate these festivals in order to preserve the culture.


What we do is we are practicing all what we have done in the past, but we westernized to festivals and giving out a lot. And we started in Europe. And more importantly, it's not a finger. Thank you. He just won't cut off with all those festivals. I think it will be very different and I think those will again see our record to be ready for him. So I think if we can also celebrate, but in the present we well, that's a sense of what we do. I think it may be a little different in your case where you have such a high opinion of Christians that have more or less they can collectively Christianize it. But what we do is we make a distinction between Diwali as a cultural preserving the culture, because again, in India everything is steeped in Hinduism. You came by land and if you were to take that principle and say, okay, Christians cannot have any contact with anything that has to do with demonology or Hindu mythology, then you can't do anything. You can't even accept your own name because most of the Christian Hindu gods. So you have to change their name to Ezekiel or something. Is just unworkable. So I think that what you have to do is to acknowledge that this culture has its roots in Hinduism, but where Christians or Muslims or whatever in it. And what we do is we say, okay, Diwali is a essentially a cultural event of India. There's nothing. No lighting lamps in your house, nothing wrong with eating and sending gifts or fireworks. None of that is a problem. But if they're having a special reenactment of some Hindu mythology, Christians won't go. They just don't affirm that part of the whole thing.


So they make a distinction between a cultural event which affirms our Indian ness and the religious aspects of it. It'd be like someone who celebrated Christmas but didn't go to the Christmas Christmas Eve service. Because they were not a believer. But they celebrated Christmas as a general holiday of family goodwill, whatever else. That's basically the kind of thing in reverse that takes place. So when I greet a Hindu during Diwali as a Happy Diwali. I mean, I don't have that kind of fearful attitude about culture. I believe the gospel is so much greater than the culture. We don't need to live in fear about culture, demons. When I took my daughter, for example, up to my son to actually up to a Buddhist temple one time, a Tibetan temple, and we sat there in the main hallway while these Buddhist monks were going through the morning puja. I want my children to see it. And they sat there and watched the whole thing. And I couldn't they couldn't believe it. They never seen like some of the like Tibetan boy is 12 years old, you know, in Lotus position chanting. All right. So right there in this temple, I know you went next door and you seen the did you ever see the puja? You've been to the temple next door. Oh, anyway, it's there now. You know where it is, of course, right next door. So anyway, so I can hang out there. There are number of our our family in our community that would see no problem with that. There are others that thought that absolutely horrible because you go up there and the demons will jump into your children. They believe that you and your children play with demons forever. I don't believe that.


I told them, now we're going to be prayed up. We're going to be praying in the spirit the whole way through. You just say they're there. They're doing their mental. You do. Jesus is Lord Jesus and the Lord. But you don't have any fear. There's no fear in the Christian faith. And so they were there in my daughter when I a deep burden for the lost in India. And one of the ways Bethany Johnson hasn't Bethany has been to Haridwar. She's seen all this pilgrimage. And she came back home and she wrote a beautiful essay on the lost ness of India that you could never have gotten through books. You can never get to a course like this. You have to go and see it. And when you see it, you realize it in a way you haven't else before. So participate in these things. Seeing these things as an observer, a participant in the culture, I think is is fine because it gives it reassures us of what it means to be a Christian proactively in the world, but we don't participate in it ourselves. We don't, you know, go I don't go to these re-enactments and all that. I might go see Christian, but if they've got like that other man out. No, I'm kidding. Okay. Let's now turn if you have your chance, because we're now going to finally blitz our way to the end of this chart, and then we'll be doing the course and focused on the Christian response to Hinduism. But we do need to come back to this chart a little bit, because now at this point it's taken us to quite a while to work our way down the right hand side of the chart. But we have finally essentially covered this entire chart, though.


I want to come back to the six schools of philosophy and say a little more about Shankara and Ramanujan. On the very bottom left hand side of the chart. What we have looked at up to this point is three basic pathways to Moksha. Jana marga, karma, marga, bhakti marga. The way of knowledge, the way of works, the way of devotion. We did the first two before mid-term, and the rest of the time we've been spying on Bhakti marga. And looking at the kind of popular that version of the popular Hinduism, which includes the epics and puja and so forth, and devotion to a particular God or goddess. At this point, we're going to go back, though we've already done a little bit of this, but we want to go back to the left hand side of chart because we've already been to see glimmers of this through the guru ism, how the Brahmins have. They don't like this wall that I've drawn here that separates philosophical and popular. They don't like that because they want to demonstrate their control over the entire Hindu MARGA system. So it's always a struggle in India between the Brahmins and everyone else in terms of who's going to control this. So I showed you that. Sure, if I have this, I guess it's much later on in the in my overheads here, but I've shown you before the kind of the three tension points in India about knowledge works and devotion. So essentially the standard rabbinical approach is going to put knowledge first. At the apex and Devotion and works lead should lead to knowledge. This is very narrow because this means that the only way to have true knowledge be a Brahman and therefore you tell If you're not a Brahman only all you can hope for is to do produce good dharmic acts, reduce your karmic debt and be reborn as Brahman.


That's our only hope. That's going to change because the philosophers ultimate realize that that is an alienating thing. It's not a very empowering thing. And there's a limit to what 8% of the people can do, 8% the Hindus can do. So we're going to look at some of the ways that philosophers kind of nuance this and eventually break out to seek to undergird the whole system by the Brahmans. But are we clear at this point in the course about the three vehicle structure and the two basic divisions, the philosophical and popular and kind of the overall structure of modern Hinduism? The third, of course, mainly a response to Buddhism. But nevertheless, today this is very much a big part of modern day Hindu life and activity. Comments, thoughts or questions about this chart. Because this chart is critical to kind of having a structure in your mind. Understand a lot of what we're saying in the days to come. Next week will be dealing with particular Ramanujan. I want you to be able to be clear about where the manager falls on this and how he responds to this whole chart. What we're going to do briefly, just to give you a little heads up, we don't have time to get started today, but we're going to jump into a brief and I hope it's very brief overview of Shankara. I don't think we'll need a lot of time because Shankara is someone you already know about, essentially, because that is the basic upon historic vision I've laid out for you is kind of Shankar's take on it. But just to put it in context, Shankar does not come along until the eighth century, so long after baptism has arisen. Only after all the other things you still do not have the philosophical articulation like you have since the Middle Ages.


Shankar has been called one of the great magnitudes of philosophical and theological history. Reverend One of the great metaphysical tendencies in the history of human thought. That's Rudolf Otto says that. Yeah, the guy who wrote the idea of the Holy. He's been called India's greatest philosopher, the pinnacle of India's philosophical contribution to the world. If you think about our society or our culture, you think about the role of, okay, the three Big Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates, We have nothing about him written. So it all comes to Plato. So essentially Plato and Aristotle represent the philosophical worldview tendencies in the West. Aristotle pointing to particulars. Plato pointing to universals. Essentially that is the history of Western philosophy. If you've seen a wonderful picture by Raphael called Plato's Academy, I have in my house, Have you been in my house? But they shows Plato and Aristotle walking out onto the veranda there, and Plato has his finger up pointing to the universals. Aristotle has a hand like that represent the particulars, you know, the scientific analysis, study, division of human thought, all of that. And the Raphael is trying to say through the finger up in the hand down, it's like our own murders, you know, our own hand signals. That represents the whole of Western philosophy is represented in Plato and Aristotle. You have the same exact thing in India. Shankara is like Plato. Shankara is going to emphasize the universals. Brahman, no goona Brahman. You cannot know him speak of them. This is the ultimate kind of universal vision. Ramanujan is going to be focusing on particulars, so Ramanujan is going to have the kind of philosophical challenge to Shankara that you find in Aristotle against platonic thought. The same kind of philosophical revolution occurs in India as happened in the West.


And Ramanujan calls Shankara the guy who we have here the greatest magnitude. The great philosopher calls him one who is dark and in his understanding and has no light and insight into truth. I mean, nothing but pejorative things does manage to say about Shankara because he's a very different idea. He's going to reject and are going to signal distinction. He's reject all this, and yet he's still trying to explain the opponent's vision. So he explains it differently and affects the whole history of India. In fact, in my view, even though Shankara is almost routinely presented in the West as Hinduism, philosophical Hinduism is almost always Shankara is advait ism. Ramanujan actually represents more profound influence on the ground in India in terms of actually how it's shaped. I think so. Ramanujan may not have the status of Shankara as a philosopher, though There both are, you know, it's like Plato and Aristotle. But I think influence wise, it's very, very great. So we're going to kind of spin our way through Shankara briefly to remind you of the basic paradigm and mainly launch into a monitor to show you how that basic paradigm is challenged. We'll do that next week.