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This will trace the earliest known roots of religious traditions in India.
Pre-aryan India: The Aryan invasion theory states that people came into India from poland/lithuania area, who were polytheistic and nomadic, and conquered the land, spreading their beliefs.
1500-1200BCE, came through Afghanistan and India to take over.
The Vedas are the early writings of these people, written in Sanskirt, a language that is highly representative of reality in its written/spoken form.
These people said that the Pre-Aryan people (original inhabitants) were subhuman.
These people were the Indus Valley Civilization, an advanced culture from 2500-1500BCE or so. There are no writings from these people currently.
Early Vedic Religion The vedas are a collection of hymns & chants taken from oral traditions, and written down in sanskrit. The Rig-Veda is the earliest known vedas.
The gods of the Vedas are arranged into 3 categories:
1)Celestial 2)Atmospheric 3)Terrestrial
Varuna (Celestial) - established the normative order to the cosmos (rita) and punished those who violated it.
Rudra (atmospheric) - Storm force of nature, heals and protects as well (also comes to be known as Shiva).
Indra (atmospheric) - God of thunder and warriors, the ideal aryan warrior.
Varuna and Indra were thought to be representative of class tensions at the time (preist and warrior, respectively)
Late Vedic Religion: 1000-600BCE
Increased interest in terrestrial class of gods, human control over the world (instead of asking the gods to change things, you controlling the gods), and priest class power (through commanding the gods).
** Agni (Terrestrial) - God of fire, messenger between humans and the gods -- becomes a key god in these times, will explain below.
Soma (Terrestrial) - Possibly a psylocybin/amanitas drink, taken by warriors and priests.
Agni and Soma were controlled by the priest class, giving them power.
All households did agni sacrifices, that were very simple. There was more emphasis on the creative power of the rituals, however, to keep the priests in power with more esoteric complex rituals.
Priest class is esoteric, you must be born into it, no joining it.
Basically these agni sacrifices are going to keep getting more complex to keep the priests in a position of power, they are the only ones who will know how to correctly perform them. (ACTION is important right now, not the meaning behind the rituals)
Back to Sanscrit: When i said it is representative of reality, i meant that you could study the shape and sound of the word, and learn about the object.
Sanskrit was considered a language of the gods, and the power inherant to it had a word:
Brahman - power inherant in sacrifice. because of this, the priest class gets dubbed Brahman.
With this increase in power, they seperate themselves even more from others, sacrifice now brought the world into being, no longer Varuna.
Purusa was sacrificed, and created the Varna system (class): Mouth of purusa - Brahman Arms - Warriors Legs - Merchants Feet - Shudra "Peasants"
Along with the concept of Varna comes a new one, the concept of Dharma, or "norm, duties"
Upanishadic Period 600BCE +
increased emphasis on the knowledge behind the actions now (mantras, sacrifices, agni rituals) Brahmanas were written, a set of texts that were commentaries on the rituals, only the priests saw these.
If you do the rituals, but dont understand the meanings, then nothing will happen, so you have to have the Brahman do it for you (Increasing power still, continuing esoteric nature)
A major shift in focus: Away from things of this world, to other-worldy concerns of permenance.
Upanishads - set of texts dealing with other-worldly knowledge.
Atman The concept of the atman gets introduced in the Katha Upanishad text. Atman is described as pure consciousness, "bliss". Atman is equalified to Brahman, the goal is to be in touch with your atman now.
the "om" mantra is given down in the Katha Upanishad as a method to focusing on your atman.
So this is the introduction to Hinduism, since that follows later off this path. ALso this is when the 6th century Ascetic movements (Buddhism/Jainism) show up, because of dissatisfaction with Vedism.
More later, --Kremlin
"Human suffering has been caused because all too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence of a word in the dictionary does not mean it necessarily refers to something definitive in the real world"
--Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"
"It is the mind which creates the world about us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours."
"Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if he was surrounded by bread."