Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Notes on Hinduism

Hinduism is a potage of philosophies. It's simultaneously a religion, a developed cultural tradition and a social structure. So, it grows in all directions. 

Hinduism has an amazing capacity for holding together a variety of spiritual cultural and social traditions. The best way to study Hinduism as a process, i.e., a tradition in constant development. 

There are three important changes 

1- the arrival of the Aryan peoples (around 2000 B.C.), 

2- the rise of the sectarian religions of Vaishnavism and Shaivism 

3- the development of Hinduism during the 19th Century, when Western influences poured into India. 

The early period results from the interaction of the Aryan and non-Aryan tradition (Jainism), which are the two basic components of Hinduism. The non-Aryans represent the primordial traditions of India. In fact one can see Hinduism as the Indianization of these traditions (i.e. non-Aryans gradually modified the Aryan elements. One can see a similarity in the interpenetration of Hellenistic and Christian traditions in the West).

Non-Aryan component

In Hinduism there is a world-negative aspect that seems opposed to the influence of the Aryan conqueror. One perceives this attitude opposing delight in life, which is found in the Vedic Hymns that can be very difficult to understand if one doesn't see the phenomenon from a historic perspective. 

This devaluation of the world as non-being, as confinement, as meaningless, as a source of confusion or duhkha (suffering) is the most significant aspect of the entire spiritual development of India. These are also felt in Buddhism, but more so in Jainism which is really non-Aryan. So, in a sense one can say that the Hindu achievement consists in interpreting and transforming their historic situation into an existential compass of the human condition.

Nowhere in the civilization of the Eurasian world was the objective world seen as more oppressive and alienating. We are affected not only by the afflictions of the external world, but even more by the inner limitations of our own being (this worldview was ultimately accepted by the Aryans).

(Read more here)