Hinduism - Day #3


Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord.
Thus working you may live a hundred years.
Thus alone will you work in real freedom.

We'll take a quick look at a couple of additional aspects of Hinduism, and we'll wrap it up with an excerpt from a series done by Bill Moyers and Huston Smith...

Here's an article about Lakshmi, the young girl whose "extra" limbs were removed last year in an operation.

These were the articles for today:

  • "An Opulent and Pugnacious Champion of India's Outcasts," The New York Times, May 4, 2003
  • "Holy Cow a Myth? An Indian Finds The Kick Is Real," The New York Times, August 17, 2002
  • "For Hindus and Vegetarians, Surprise in McDonald's Fries," The New York Times, May 20, 2001
  • "McDonald's To Settle Suits On Beef Tallow in French Fries," The New York Times, March 9, 2002
  • "A Religious Tangle Over the Hair of Pious Hindus," The New York Times, July 14, 2004
  • "How India Reconciles Hindu Values and Biotech," The New York Times, August 21, 2005

Sacred Literature of Hinduism- As I mentioned, even attempting to read a small section of Hinduism's sacred literature might occupy a lifetime. Rather than attempting to be at all comprehensive, we'll highlight some of the more important works below.

Vedas - These are the oldest and most sacred of the Hindu scriptures, the "breath of the eternal." They were long known only in oral form, and they deal predominantly with ritual.

Divided into four samhitas (collections):

Upanishads - "sitting down beside" - composed orally between 800 - 400 BCE, written down much later. They focus on two broad types of thought:

  • What is the essence of the human self?
  • What is the essence of the ultimate reality?

Mahabharata - considered the longest epic in the world, tells the story of a war between two Bharata tribes. This includes the full text of the Bhagavad-Gita , which is perhaps the most widely read of the Hindu sacred literature. It tells the story of the warrior Arjuna and his interaction with Krishna, one of the avatars of Vishnu. (Here are some interesting visual images from an edition of the Gita. Scroll down past the gurus and swamis and click on the images...)

Ramayana - This epic tells the story or Rama and his wife, Sita. Each represents an ideal model for Hindu life, and it is later revealed that each is a manifestation of the divine (Vishnu and Lakshmi).

The Laws of Manu - These were compiled somewhere between 200 BCE and 200 CE, and they serve as a sort of "guide" to ancient Hindu life. They offer rules and guidelines for caste, gender responsibilities, and many similar topics.

DO THIS: Browse a number of the links above to get a feeling for the various types of literature. Please bookmark or clip at least three quotations or other points of interest to share with classmates.

The Hindu Concept of Time - I've got a couple of visual representations of the reckoning of time according to the Hindu world view. While we are well into the "final" portion of this cycle of the universe, you can see that we don't exactly need to start panicking...


We can also take a quick look at a calendar and several festival periods.

HoliThis "Festival of Colors" celebration marks the birth of spring, and it is a time of license.

DivaliThe "Festival of Lights" is a five-day period in autumn.

DO THIS: Pick either of these two festivals. Check out the web site and be prepared to explain how that holiday might be celebrated in a Hindu community.

Huston Smith's The Wisdom of Faith: Hinduism and Buddhism

We will watch the first twenty minutes of this video series. As you might guess, they deal with Hinduism. In addition to being a good review of a number of topics, he raises some fairly complex and philosophical issues about art, beauty, and human desires.

Warning: This videotape series lacks the "bells and whistles" that some of you are accustomed to watching. It is not designed to "entertain" you. Instead, it should make you think. Huston Smith is unquestionably the West's most prominent expert on world religions. This is a chance to benefit from his knowledge in the twilight of his career. Give it a chance.

Homework for Hinduism - Day #4

Read the articles in the packet for Hinduism - Day #4.

You should already have read through page 63 by this point. Please read pages 63 through 77 before Tuesday's class, as that finishes off the Hinduism chapter.

Reminders: Both the Hinduism Blog Entry and Independent Assignment #2 are due on Thursday, September 25th. The Hinduism Essay Questions are due on Monday, October 6th.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Vergin published on September 19, 2008 8:00 AM.

Hinduism - Day #2 was the previous entry in this blog.

Hinduism - Day #4 is the next entry in this blog.

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