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):
- Rig-Veda - composed 2300 to 1200 BCE? - hymns of praise to the gods
- Yajur-veda - largely about sacrifices to the gods
- Sama-veda - chants for worship
- Atharva-veda - healing, "magic" spells
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...