Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sacred Hindu texts

(1) Vedas means wisdom or knowledge, and contains hymns, prayers and ritual texts composed during a period of a thousand years. (2) The Upanishads are a collection of secret teachings including mystical ideas about man and the universe, it contains the core teaching of Vedanta 1. The word, Brahman, comes into focus within this group, which is the basis of reality, and atman, which is the self or soul. (3) The Ramayana, which is one of two major tales of India. The work consists of 24,000 couplets based on the life of Rama, a righteous king who was an incarnation of the God Vishnu. (4) The Mahabharata is the second epic and is the story of the deeds of the Aryan clans. It is composed of 100,000 verses written over a 800 year period. The text has immense importance to culture in the Indian subcontinent. Its discussion of human goals (artha or purpose, kāma, pleasure or desire, dharma or duty, and moksha or liberation) takes place in a long-standing tradition, attempting to explain the relationship of the individual to society and the world (the nature of the 'Self') and the workings of karma.Contained within this work is a classic called the Bhagavad Gita, or the "Song of the Blessed Lord." It is one of the most sacred books of the Hindus and the most read of all Indian works in the entire world. The story is centered on man's duty, which, if carried out, will bring nothing but sorrow. The significance of this story is based on Hindu belief of bhatki, (devotion to a particular god as a means of salvation). These two stories have become ideals for the people of India in terms of moral and social behavior. (5) The Puranas are an important source for the understanding of Hinduism, and include legends of gods, goddesses, demons, and ancestors describing pilgrimage and rituals to demonstrate the importance of bhatki, caste and dharma.

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1A spiritual tradition explained in the Upanishads that is concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman). Vedanta teaches that the believer's goal is to transcend the limitations of self-identity and realize one's unity with Brahman. Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedantic philosophy.Vedanta is based on two simple propositions: 1. Human nature is divine. 2. The aim of human life is to realize that human nature is divine.