Friday, May 15, 2009

Notes on Hinduism 2

So we have extreme asceticism: Hindu wanderers were known as Munis (the silent ones). From the Munis developed the Sanyasis and the entire complex of wandering mendicants. 

A different homelessness: The Munis choose a homeless life, without wife, children or possessions of any sort, except robe, staff, begging bowl and drinking cup. These wondering saints are destitute yet, honored by most. What is the purpose of asceticism?  It brings human nature closer to a spiritual disengagement from life, but also it becomes a way to understand the limits of the body-experience before the physical phase of the death experience is upon oneself.

The Aryan Component:
The Aryans invaded the subcontinent shortly after 2000 B.C. They came from the north and settled in the Hindu Valley (where five tributary rivers flow from the lower Himalayan regions). Later, around 1200 B.C. the Aryans moved to the central Ganges region (between the Himalaya Mountains and the Ganges River). They bring with them some interesting ideas:

Yajna (sacrifice): This worship through sacrifice is characteristic of the Aryan people in the early period. The most common sacrifice is the drinking of soma (a fermented drink). There was also the horse sacrifice, an elaborate ritual which took years to perform and required a large number of priests. The transition from sacrificial act to ontological absolute happens because the sacrifice was considered the dynamic whereby the entire cosmic-human order was sustained in existence. 

Atman/Brahman: Inner self of all things, supreme reality. Both designate the final reality, the inner support of beings, the One behind multiplicity. "Thou art that" means that the deepest subjective reality is identical with the absolute manifested objectively in the world without.

The Union of Traditions: Maya: The term refers to the creative power of Brahman, came later to mean the insubstantial nature of the visible world, a phenomenal world which is "unreal"; (the appearance of things).

Samsara: The world conceived as a constant endless, cyclic, process of change, of birth and death and rebirth. At the time of death,one form gives way to another form according to a process designated as reincarnation.Another body of the human, subhuman, or suprahuman succeeds the dissolution of the body.

Ineffability: The sublime character of Brahman the ultimate truth, which cannot be understood in any adequate manner. In the Kena Upanishad it's represented as "unthinkable form... not understood by those who understand it and understood by those who do not understand it."

Karma: The law of moral causality. Every deed, good or evil, has an inevitable consequence leading either toward final release from the birth death cycle, or toward further immersion in the painful cycle of unending change. The law of Karma is known as sowing and reaping. Some point to the fatalism involved in the notion of Karma. Others rejoin that a person is always free to perform deeds that will lead to salvation or a least to an improved state of existence.

Moksha: Salvation by union with Brahman. Salvation meant a liberation from the confining, limiting world of time and an emergence into the more expansive world of the eternal and infinite. It means the extinction of phenomenal existence and absorption into Brahman.

Bhakti: Intimate devotion to a personal deity. In centuries before Christianism, Hinduisn developed an amazing awareness that the supreme way of salvation is through the love of God.