Exploring Ancient World Cultures: Chronology, India,
Agriculture 7000 BCE Indo-Iranian
Initial Settlement 3,500 BCE
EARLY PERIOD: 3000 BCE to Rig-Veda, 1000.
Harappan Civilization (Indus Valley Civilization): 2,700-1,500 BCE.
The early inhabitants of India are referred to as the Dravidians.
Archaeologists have identified 200 hundred villages and 5 large cities, the two largest being Harappa and Mahenjo-Daro. At its zenith, around 2,400 BCE, Mahenjo-dara had a population of 35,000 - 40,000 people. Possible emerged as a defense.
After 1500, a shift in agriculture from the Indus to the Ganges Valley.
The Aryans 2000-1500
Conquest or migration?
Materian culture is crude, probable illiterate.
The Vedic Age, 1500-1000 BCE:The Vedas first written down beginning in 1500 BCE.This collection of texts is referred to as the Samhitas, literally “put together.”There are four Vedas.The Vedas, supreme knowledge, revelations of divine matters revealed to the seer, the rishi. The word comes from the Sanskrit “Vid,” to know.
Rig Veda (re, to praise):1,028 hymns and chants associated with sacrifice performed by hotars, Aryan priests. These priest would, at first, have the sole responsibility for correctly performing sacrifices.
Sama Veda (samans, songs): Almost exclusively verses of the Rig Veda arranged in the order that singers would use in rituals. This would also indicate that a second group of priests would have been involved in these rituals, along with the hotars.
Yajur Veda (yajuses, incantations): A collection of formulas and instructions to be used during and in preparation of various ceremonies. Again, this indicates still another group of priests who would be responsible for preparing the rite and handling the offerings.
Atharva Veda: The Athavans, a group of medical practitioners and counselors, were added to the sacrificial rituals. Spells, chants, and popular hymns, not used in sacrifice and associated with the Atharvan were collected into this fourth Veda.
One of the characteristics of the religion of the Vedic period is the importance of sacrifice, both as a means of influencing the gods and as a re-enactment of cosmic creation. Sacrifice maintained the order of the universe itself.
There are many interesting Vedas
that a student of the religion of this period could turn. One of the more
often cited Vedas
is the “Hymn of Creation,” from the Rig Veda.
Nasadiya: The Creation Hymn of Rig Veda
There was neither non-existence
nor existence then.
Translation by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. From the Book The Rig Veda - Anthology
It is important to bear in mind that this is not the only way that creation is imagined within the religions of India. For example, the idea of the sexual generation of life is also a used to describe creation.A good example is this selection from the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.1-7.
1. In the beginning this was Self alone, in the shape of a person (purusha). He looking round saw nothing but his Self. He first said, 'This is I;' therefore he became I by name. Therefore even now, ifa man is asked, he first says, 'This is I,' and then pronounces the other name which he may have.
And because before (purva) all this, he (the Self) burnt down (ush) all evils, therefore he was a person (pur-usha). Verily he who knows this, burns down every one who tries to be before him.
2. He feared, and therefore any one who is lonely fears. He thought, 'As there is nothing but myself, why should I fear?' Thence his fear passed away. For what should he have feared? Verily fear arises from a second only.
3. But he felt no delight. Therefore a man who is lonely feels no delight. He wished for a second. He was so large as man and wife together. He then made this his Self to fall in two (pat), and thence arose husband (pati) and wife (patni). Therefore Yagnavalkya said: 'We two are thus (each of us) like half a shell. ' Therefore the void which was there, is filled by the wife. He embraced her, and men were born.
4. She thought, ‘How can he embrace me, after having produced me from himself? I shall hide myself.'She then became a cow, the other became a bull and embraced her, and hence cows were born.The one became a mare, the other a stallion; the one a male ass, the other a female ass. He embraced her, and hence one-hoofed animals were born. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one became a ewe, the other a ram. He embraced her, and hence goats and sheep were born. And thus he created everything that exists in pairs, down to the ants.
5. He knew, 'I indeed am this creation, for I created all this.' Hence he became the creation, and he who knows this lives in this his creation.
6. Next he thus produced fire by rubbing. From the mouth, as from the fire-hole, and from the hands he created fire. Therefore both the mouth and the hands are inside without hair, for the fire-hole is inside without hair.
And when they say, 'Sacrifice to this or sacrifice to that god,' each god is but his manifestation, for he is all gods.
Now, whatever there is moist, that he created from seed; this is Soma. So far verily is this universe either food or eater. Soma indeed is food, Agni eater. This is the highest creation of Brahman, when he created the gods from his better part, and when he, who was (then) mortal, created the immortals. Therefore it was the highest creation. And he who knows this, lives in this his highest creation.
7. Now all this was then undeveloped. It became developed by form and name, so that one could say, 'He, called so and so, is such a one. ' Therefore at present also all this is developed by name and form, so that one can say, 'He, called so and so, is such a one.'
He (Brahman or the Self) entered thither, to the very tips of the finger-nails, as a razor might be fitted in a razor-case, or as fire in a fire-place.
He cannot be seen, for, in part only, when breathing, he is breath by name; when speaking, speech by name; when seeing, eye by name; when hearing, ear by name; when thinking, mind by name. All these are but the names of his acts. And he who worships (regards) him as the one or the other, does not know him, for he is apart from this (when qualified) by the one or the other (predicate). Letmen worship him as Self, for in the Self all these are one. This Self is the footstep of everything, for through it one knows everything. And as one can find again by footsteps what was lost, thus he who knows this finds glory and praise.
See also, The Vedic Experience by Professor Raimon Panikkar
PRE-CLASSICAL PERIOD: 1000 BCE – 100 BCE Mauryan Civ.-Alexander the Great
Upanishads (600-200 BC)
Upanishad, from the words, upa, near, ni, down, sad, sit.Pupils would sit near the master to hear the wisdom or truth that dispels ignorance.These sayings are the concluding portion of the Vedas and the foundation of Vedantic philosophy.Although there are more than 100 Upanishads, there are 10 main ones:Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, and Brhadaranyaka.Most are belong to the 8th and 7th centuries, BCE.
Not systematic and aimed toward the practical goal of self-realization or enlightenment there are, nonetheless, certain key ideas found in the Upanishads.
(Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Charles A. Moore, eds., A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989, 37ff.)
Mahavira the Jain (500 BCE) Age of Great Heresis
See: “Mahavira and Jainism” by Sanderson Beck, “Reaction and Rebellion:Buddhism and Jainism,” at World Civilizations, Jain History: An Outline, Lord Mahavir and Jain Religion, Nine Tattvas (Principles), and Path of Liberation.
Gautama the Buddha (500 BCE) The Axis Age
The Life of Gotuma Buddha, http://www.serve.com/cmtan/LifeBuddha/buddha.htm
Spread of the religion of the Brahmins, Buddhists, and Jains.
Persian invasion and Alexander the Great.Beginning of the outside influences on India.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gita/index.htm - arnoldgita
The Gita is part of the Mahabharata, it means, “Song of the Blessed Lord.”The text speaks to the metaphysical, religious, and ethical concerns in India’s religion.Metaphysically the Gita continues to develop the Upanishadic notion that Brahman is the ultimate Reality but, it also stresses the theistic side of Brahman, also found in the Upanishads.Brahman is not only a transcendent, detached Reality but a divine reality concerned, supportive of the cosmos found in each individual being.The phenomenal world is created from the being of Brahman.
Religiously, the Gita tells of the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of his avatar, Krishna.The story is concerned about redemption and Vishnu becomes incarnate to help humanity when threatened by evil.As a redemption story Krishna tells Arjuna that there are several paths that one can take to liberation, from the arduous path of karma or raja yoga to that of bhakti yoga, devotion to Krishna.
Ethical the story is about a warrior, caught, as it were, between conflicting sacred duties as a member of warrior caste and of a family.He is counseled that he must follow the path of the warrior, to heed the dharma that his role requires but, to do so without attachment born from the illuminated perception of Brahman’s all pervading presence.
Dharma= sacred duty, moral order that sustains the universe.
Maya = Magical Illusion
Samsara = the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Brahma= The One, eternal reality.
The main issues are the problems of moral evil and suffering.It is a story of “conflicting sacred duties” “which is better?”What does “dharma” require?Notes the tragic dimension of human existence. --Arjuna & Krishna
Problem of moral evil & suffering
Bhakti—devotion“works performed in faith”
The Brahman/Atman is eternal.The distinctions between being and nonbeing is illusory, Maya.To say there are distinctions is to affirm a knower; perceived pairs of opposites of not reflect the nature of things but the perceiving mind.Brahman comprises all polarities, which proceed from it.Karma yoga= selfless action which entails self-surrender and devotion to the Lord who is identical to the self and within all.It is to act detached from the fruits of action.
Being endowed with a body, to believe that one can avoid the wheel of Karma is illusion but, by absolute self-sacrifice on might become less involved.
For an excellent list of internet resources on the Gitasee “Bhagavadgita Internet Resources” at World Civilizations at Washington State University and for an equally good introduction to the Gita see Soumen De’s, “The Historical Context of The Bhagavad Gitaand Its Relation to Indian Religious Doctrines,” at Exploring Ancient World Cultures.
Ashoka (304-232 BCE), the 3rd King in the Mauryan Dynasty, ruled from 272-232, converted to Buddhism.
The Edicts ofKing Ashoka, an English rendering by Ven. S. Dhammika, at
A map of the Mauryan Empire
CLASSICAL PERIOD: 100 BCE – 1000 CE HINDU-BUDDHIST CULTURE.
200 C.E. Beginning of Vedanta system of thought
800 C.E. Teaching of Advaita Vedanta philosophy by Sankara
MEDIEVAL PERIOD1000-1750 CE
1000 – 1750 Formation of Hindu – Muslim Culture
1200-1757 Muslim domination of India
MODERN PERIOD: 1750-
After 1750 Missionaries
1757-1947 British rule of India
1947 Independence of India
SAMKAYA & YOGA
RESTRAINT,DISCIPLINE, POSTURE, RESPIRATION, WITHDRAWAL, FROM SENSE-OBJECTS MEDITATION TRANCE
MIMASA- Ritual is efficacious in itself
Vedanta – a single divine reality underlying or sustaining existence
The sub school differ in their interpretation of ATMAN(self) BRAHMAN and the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
--VEDANTA sub schools
Shankara (Brahman 788-820AD) Follower of Shiva.NON-DUALISTIC
ATMAN & BRAHMAN ARE ONE (MONISTIC)
ONLY BRAHMAN IS REAL, ALL ELSE IS MAYA(illusion)
TWO LEVELS OF TRUTH- HIGHER-ORDINARY
RAMANUJA (+1137) Follower of Vishnu.
Concerned with a personal God & devotion & worship
A “body-soul” cosmology-distinct but inseparable.
TWO SCHOOLS SPLIT ON GRACE & WORKS –CAT(grace) & MONKEY (works)
REJECTED MAYA & SOUGH BEAUTITUDE IN HEAVEN
Madhva ( 1300 cent)VISHNU
Concerned with Bhakti
Each soul iS distinct, God is distinct
Different salvations and damnation's
--Islamic INFLUENCE (Invasion 998, 13th century, 16th century
Sikh – combines the two
a)KABIR 1440-1518 MUSLIM
b)NANAK 1440-1538 the first guru- stressed BHAKTI for both
c)AKBAR THE MUGHAL-UNIVERSALISTIC
ARJON 5th GURU 1581-1606 SIKH
GOVID SINGH 10TH LAST GURU 1675-1708
Smart identifies the following elements as the ingredients of Indian Religion.
Dhyana-meditation to liberation
3.Mythic (330 million gods)
Brahma, Visnu, Shiva
Sakti-female consorts-creative force
Karma(action) to the round of existence-samsara
Moksa-liberation (nirvana in Buddhism)
Sanctity of life
Priest and Philosophers (Brahmins)
Kings, Warriors, Vassals (ksatriyas)
Temple and house icons.
Internet Resources on the Religions and History of India