Great World Religions: Hinduism [TTC Video]
30 October 2016, 15:30
Course No 6104 | AVI, XviD, 528x384 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | 2.95GB
Terms we associate with Hinduism—"Hinduism," "religion," and "India"—are all Western labels, terms that for most of history did not accurately reflect the thinking of those who practice this ancient faith. In fact, one of the primary themes of Professor Mark W. Muesse's lectures is the difficulty of studying Hinduism without imposing Western perceptions on it.
In Hinduism you will find a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all. It worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and it rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine.
A Window into All Religions
These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You will explore over the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey:
- The Indus Valley civilization
- The sizable variety of Hindu gods and goddess
- The sacred writings in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads
- Ritual purity rites
- The Aryan language of Sanskrit, whose roots can be seen in English words such as "divine," "video," and "ignite."
The story of Hinduism is the story of very non-Western traditions—arranged marriages and the caste system—that have survived and thrived for thousands of years; and of a wealth of gods, terms, and practices—karma, Krishna, yoga, guru—that have found a home in Western lives and language.
The course also explains that Hinduism rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine, and at its best, it honors all seekers of truth.
Understand the Oldest Religion
Hinduism is the world's oldest living religious tradition, with roots deep in the early cultures of India. These ancient cultures, the most important of which were the Indus Valley civilization and the Aryan society, combined to create a highly diverse family of religions and philosophies.
The series moves chronologically through the history of Hinduism, from its earliest precursors through its classical manifestations to its responses to modernity. Along the way, Dr. Muesse discusses salient aspects of Hindu life and places them in historical and theological context.
The journey begins with an examination of the early cultures that most significantly shaped the development of Hinduism.
- Dr. Muesse makes a brief visit to the indigenous culture of northern India, the Indus Valley civilization, before introducing the migration of the Aryans from Central Asia.
- Hinduism received from the Aryans its most sacred and authoritative scripture, the Veda, which is explored in detail.
- After the Vedic period, classical Hinduism formed many of its basic ideas and practices, including the notions of transmigration of the soul, reincarnation, and karma. Major social arrangements were established in Hindu culture.
- The classic phase strongly influences the present day. Social stratification and gender relations greatly affect the nature of spiritual life for all Hindus. Professor Muesse discusses the caste system, and the different life patterns for men and women.
The Way of Action, ye Way of Wisdom, the Way of Devotion
Hinduism is religiously and philosophically diverse. It affirms the multiplicity of the divine and acknowledges that there are multiple paths to divine reality. Dr. Muesse outlines:
- The Way of Action, the spiritual discipline pursued by most Hindus, aims to improve an individual's future lives through meritorious deeds, according to the Hindu belief in reincarnation. The lectures look at several examples of such action, including ritual, festival, and pilgrimage.
- The Way of Wisdom is a much less-traversed pathway to salvation because it is so demanding and rigorous. Gaining wisdom means to understand the unity of the soul and ultimate reality, and to live one's life accordingly.
- The Way of Devotion, or bhakti, is oriented toward faith in a deity of personal choice. It is a widely chosen road to god among Hindus. Your introduction to bhakti practice comes through one of the most important and beloved Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Gita, a wondrous story of a warrior's dilemma and the counsel of the god Krishna. It has been a treasure trove of spiritual enrichment for Hindus for centuries.
Dr. Muesse also explores the functions of images in Hindu worship and how Hinduism can be both monotheistic and polytheistic. You learn about devotion to the Goddess and her many manifestations in the Hindu pantheon, and investigate some of the theory and practice of Tantra, a yogic discipline associated with the Goddess.
Modern Hinduism faces challenges from Islam and from Western culture. Theological differences between Hinduism and Islam have generated tense relationships between Hindus and Muslims, frequently erupting into outright violence.
Dr. Muesse describes the British Raj and the Indian independence movement led by Gandhi, includes examples of Hindu missions to the West, and discusses the tensions between Hinduism and modernity.
The many paths of Hinduism involve very different conceptions of divine reality, and Dr. Muesse explains how such divergent views coexist within the Hindu tradition.
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