Shared Flashcard Set


Hinduism exam 2
exam 2
Religious Studies
Undergraduate 2

Additional Religious Studies Flashcards




Upanisadic Period
800 BCE-> Saw a rise of movements of wandering philosophers who promulgated competing views about the nature of existence, the pupose of life, and methods to live it correctly.

The classifications of major philosophical systems


  1. Orthodox: did not explicitly reject the Vedas as Sruti, or the class system
  2. Heterodox: If they did reject either or both
6 Orthodox systems
  1. Sankhya Enumeration of the elements that make up reality.                                                             -Founded by the famous sage Kapila.               -Evidence of ancient roots: 4th century CE
  2. Yoga Psycho-physical system of attaining union with the absolute reality.                     -many systems; ancient origin (Indus Valley?)                                                      -Earliest systematic treatment: Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras (c.2nd CE)
  3. Nyaya Logic
  4. Vaisesika Realism and atomism (rhetoric)
  5. mimamsa Interpretation of the Vedas and rituals (Samhitas, Brahmanas, etc)
  6. Vedanta Interpretation of the Upanisadic literature.                                                   -Highly influential systems (resurgence in 20th CE)
3 Heterodox systems
  1. Buddhism founded c. 500 BCE by Siddharta Guatama (the Buddha)
  2. Jainism founded c. 500 BCE by Vardhamana Mahavira (the Jina)                                *both B and J reject the class system and Vedic authority and are grounded in meditative approaches to liberation*
  3. Carvaka (sweet tongued) materialists, rejected class, scriptural authority, and "spiritual" dimensions of life.
Tattvas (categories) of reality in Sankhya philosophy
  1. Purusa: the soul, pure, eternal consciousness. (does nothing, just exists)
  2. Prakrti: nature, materiality (does everything)

Both of these are transcendant

This is otherwise known as a dualistic realism

3 Gunas

(Qualities/attributes) that compose Prakrti in a state of equilibrium 


  1. Sattva (pure, luminous, illuminating)
  2. Raja (active, passionate, stimulating, painful)
  3. Tamas (passive, dark, heavy, obstructing)

**when Prakrti comes into contact with Purusa, the Gunas lose their equilibrium initiating the evolution of the material world. Prakrti manifests as 23 elements.**


23 elements which manifest Prakrti


Start with the least material and get progressively more material:

1. Maha/Buddhi: (discriminating intellect, intelligence, understanding) The most subtle

2. Ahankara: ("I-maker", the ego, ego-maker)

3. Manas: (heart/mind, the inner sense organ)


        **These three tattvas are called cita (impure consciousness, mind stuff, the internal agents, thoughts)


4-8. The five knowledge senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching.


9-13. The five action senses: Communication (mouth), appropriation (hand), locomotion (foot), excretion (anus), reproduction (penis)


14-18. The Subtle elements: Shape/colour, sound, odour, flavour, texture


19-23. The Gross elements (Mahabhuta): earth, water, air, fire, space/ether      


The proportion of Tamas guna increases while sattva guna decreases, but all three gunas are present in every tatva (T/F)?


The proportion of Tamas guna increases while sattva guna decreases  as the numbered tattva increases (T/F)?

True, but all three gunas are present in every tatva.
Liberation consists of reversing the evolutionary process (the unfolding of the 23 elements), once the elements are folded back into their more subtle manifestation, one is able to refine the capacities of the buddhi tattva.

(Discrimination); Buddhi's highest act, in which it recognizes that none of Prkrti's manifestations are the true self, or pure consciousness. At this point Prakrti completely stops its activity, returns to its transcendant state and Purusa knows itself.


*Buddhi cannot know Purusa*


Sanskrit root (yuj): to yoke, to join, to unite. Thus Yoga means Union

  • Yoga is a set of body-mind theories/philosophies and techniques/practices.
  • Designed to unite an individual's relative consciousness with the absolute.
  • Encompasses a wide spectrum of techniques.
  • Utilised in Hindu, Buddhistm Jain and ither religious systems
  • a precise account of its origin is not possible
  • Roots are in humanity's oldest ascetic techniques (as in shamanism)
compiled religious encyclopedia stating that shamanism is present in all cultures, but Yoga (enstatic/inside) traditions originate in South Asia
Indus Valley Civilisation seals indicate possible practice of Yoga (ithyphallic prot-siva) The seal is important for 3 reasons:
  1. Points out a physical and mental yoga prior to the Aryan arrival
  2. Sexual arousal, but semen retention, point to Tantric practices
  3. Early existence of a cult of Siva, lord of beasts, supreme ascetic. (most worshipped god in Hinduism, worshipped in the form of linga embedded in Yoni
Rg Veda (1200 BCE) suggestion of Yoga
Hymn to a Long haired sage (like a Yogi)
Upanisad (600 BCE) suggestion of Yoga
Mentions asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), and tapas (inner heat)
Suggestion of Yoga in Bhagavad Gita (400 BCE)
Presents Yoga as a practical means for attaining moksa (liberation), however without emphasis on renunciation from worldly affairs. 

300 CE, composed the famous Yoga-Sutras systematized a wide variety of early sources into one authoritative text.

Later commentaries were made by Vyasa it forms Raja (royal) yoga

Raja Yoga

Royal Yoga

  • Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras consists of about 200 aphorisms (sutra)
  1. This is the beginning of the instruction in yoga
  2. Yoga is the cessation of turnings (vrtti) of thought (citta)
  3. Only then does one abide in one's true nature. (Purusa)
  4. Otherwise, a person gets attached to turnings of thought (cittavritti)
Most common forms of Yoga
  1. Jnana Yoga (discipline of intelligence)
  2. Karma Yoga (Discipline of Action/deeds)
  3. Bhakti Yoga (Discipline of loving Devotion)
  4. Hatha Yoga (Discipline of application)
  5. Kundalini Yoga (Discipline of the coiled energy)
The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Astanga)
  1. Yama: Moral Principles (ahimsa/non violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, no greed) Participation in cociety morally
  2. Niyama: Observances (Bodily purification, contentment, ascetic practices, study of sacred lore, dedication to the Lord of Yoga) Moral individual behaviour
  3. Asana: Posture (that which is firm and pleasant)                                                       -designed to make body supple, strong and stable                                                          -develops muscle control and relaxation                                                   -identify/dissolve mental/emotional patterns blocking energy flow                                                                  -acquire alert, relaxed basis for exploration of consciousness
  4. Pranayama: control of the vital energy (breath)                                                      -steadies the mind, provides vitality to reach the highest yogic states, connected to breath, control of breath is control of Prana (vital energy)                                                      -Life-span is believed to be connected to a limited amount of breaths, prana circulates through the nadis (energy channels)
  5. Pratyahara: Detachment of the senses, from objects
  6. Dharna: concentration (attaining one-pointedness)                                               -mantras are often used, japa (constant uttering of the mantra), mala (prayer beads/108 in number)
  7. Dhyana: meditation (attaining steady unbroken flow of awareness)
  8. Samadhi: Contemplative union (insight into nature of awareness itself)
Types of Samadhi (2)
  1. Sabija samadhi: (with seed) contemplation has a focus
  2. Nirbija Samadhi: *higher* pure awareness

Nirbija is true liberation


Supernatural powers acquired through yoga


EG: learning language of animals, reading thoughts, levitation

However non atacchment to these powers leads to liberation

In Tantra, attainment of these powers is encouraged




"Thus it was said" (history)


  • Refers to the Indian epic genre of literature
  • The extent to which the epics possess historical content is highly debated
  • composed between 400 BCE and 400 CE
Two main Epics
  1. Ramayana: Adventures of Rama
  2. Mahabharata: Great epic of the decendants of Bharta. The Mahabharata contains the Bhagavad-Gita (song of the lord)
Most influential scripture in popular Hunduism
Some reasons the Epics are important (6)
  1. A literary genre which likely originated as ancient Ksatriya oral tradition (later textualised and reworked by Brahmins)
  2. Provide a better picture of life, social structures and values at the time of composition than the philosophical and instructive texts
  3. Contain semi-historical and geographical information.
  4. Reveal the development of the current pantheon of deities. rama, krsna, ganesa, visnu, siva
  5. Reveal a perios where human/divine identifications grow commonn (similar to Christianity)
  6. Contain widespread and Influential myths/values for Hindus (and Asia)

Age; eon 


Time period in the Hindu Calendrical system, they are marked by a progressive degeneration of dharma, we are a few thousand years into the Kali yuga


There are three Yugas:

  1. Satya
  2. Treta
  3. Kali

All together they add up to one Mahayuga or one day of Brahma

Satya Yuga

aka: Krta Yuga: an age lasting 4800 god (deva) years, which is 1,728,000 human years

Treta Yuga

an age lasting 3600 god (deva) years. This is the Yuga which the events of the Ramayana are said to have taken place in.


Kali Yuga


An age lasting 1200 god (deva) years; characterised by the rapid degeneration of the dharma.

Ramayana (yuga?)

God (Visnu) as a man (Rama) fights incarnate demon (Ravana)


Events take place in the Treta Yuga

Mahabharata (Yuga?)

The events of the Mahabharata mark the beginning of the Kali Yuga


Heroes (Pandavas: 5 brothers) fight their own kin (the Kauravas: cousins)

Brahmin sage who is thought to have composed the Ramayana (cleraly there have been interpolations over time though)


(goal, author, verses)

  • Goal is to teach Dharma, written between 400BCE and 400CE, however the story is supposed to have taken place in the Treta Yuga.
  • Written by Valmiki, who plays a role in the story himself.
  • Comprised of 8 books, 20,000 verses in total



  • King Dasartha (10 chariots) of Ayodhya has three wives and no children, performs Asvamedha, his three wives give birth to 4 sons
  • Senior wife: Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharata, and Sumitra to twins; Laksmana and Satrughna
  • One day a rsi demand that Rama accompany him to destroy a demon, accompanied by Laksmana
  • Rama slays the demoness (Tataka), and attends a Svayamvara (one's own choice) of the young princess Sita in which the suitor must string an impossible bow said to belong to Siva 
  • Rama does so with no effort and ens up snapping it in two
  • Rama and Sita enjoy blissful marriage in Ayodyha until Rama acquires the throne, Kalikey's hunchback servant Mantharta inspires her to ask for her two boons from the king (from saving him on the battle field)
  • She asks for Bharata to become king and that Rama be sent into the forest for 14 years. (Rama was not upset as he saw that it was his dharma to do so)
  • Laksmana accompanied Rama, as did Sita (a wife's dharma was with her husband)
  • Bharata sent an army to find Rama, could not convince Rama to stay, he touches Ramas feet and places Ramas sandals on the throne (to show submission) and vowed to look after the kingdon until Rama returned.
  • After years in exile, the trio meets the Demoness Surpanakha who is attracted to Rama, she shapeshifts into a sexy lady, Rama reminds her that he is married
  • She gets angry and threatens to devour Sita, Laksmana chops off her ears and nose, she flees to her brother Ravana (10 headed demon)
  • Ravana's servant Marica takes the form of a golden deer, which Sita wanted the skin of. When Rama killed the deer, it called out to Laksmana in Ramas voice, Sita urges him to go help Rama, leaving her alone.
  • Ravana approaches as a sage and kidnaps Sita, Jatayu (vulture king and friend of Rama) pursues Ravana and is lethally wounded. Ravana takes Sita to Lanka
  • Rama and Laksmana find the dying Jatayu who tells them that Sita is being taken to Lanka.
  • Rvana urged Sita to Marry him, she refused and Ravana put her in a forset grove, hoping to wear her down,
  • Meanwhile, Rama and laksmana meet Hanuman in the monkey kingdom, who pledges alliegance to Rama if he helps kill Valin and help the monkey's regain their kingdom, he does.
  • Hanuman jumps across the ocean to Lanka, he sneaks into the palace, finds Sita, shows her the ring of Rama, he says he will carry her to Rama, but she refuses on behalf of the dharma from touching another man.
  • Hanuman is caught, but sets the palace on fire with his tail.
  • Hanuman and the monkey army return with Rama and Laksmana, construct a bridge across the ocean, they fight Ravanas forces, and Laksmana and Rama are mortally wounded, needing specific herbs from the Himalayas. Hanuman flys to the Himalayas and ends up carrying a mountain back to Rama, and saves the day.
  • They defeat Ravana, and save Sita, however she is accused of not being chaste, she proves her innocence in a fire ordeal (Agni chastises Rama for questioning her), and is still banished after the citizens ask for it. Jowever she is pregnant.
  • She gives birth at the hermitage of the Sage Valmiki, to two sons Lava and Kusa. Valmiki teaches them the Ramayana. They recite it for Rama, who calls for Sita, but she wants no part of it and asks to be swallowed up by the earth.  


(author, verses) 

  • Longest Epic in the world, with 100,000 couplets
  • Authorship attributed to Vyasa, although there are many interpolations, there is a myth that Ganesa was his scribe, as long as he continued his recitation and Ganesa did not write anything down he did not understand. (Brahma is said to have commisioned Vayasa to wite it)
  • Written between 200BCE and 200CE
  • Although the events are supposed to have happened as the Kali Yuga is ushered in



  • Vyasa was a surrogate father for the princes Dhrtasastra and Pandu for the king Vicitravirya, who died prematurely leaving his two queens heirless. Dhrtastra was born blind and Pandu pale.
  • Bhimsa was a warrior who should have been king, but took a vow of celibacy in order to preserve dharma, and was given the boon that he would be able to chose when he died.
  • Pandu ruled the kingdom since Dhrtastra was blind, Pandu shot a deer while it was copulating, and the deer cursed him to die the next time he makes love with his two wives Kunti and Madri. He renounces the throne and moves to the Himalayas to live in celibate austerity.
  • Kunti uses a mantra given to her to have a child with a god of her choice, she used it in her youth to have a child with Surya, her son was Karna (golden armoured), fearing consequences she sent him down the river in a basket.
  • She now summoned the god Dharma (aka Yama) then giving birth to Yudhisthira (firm in battle), then summoned Vayu (wind god) and gave birth to Bhima (enormous strength), from Indra; Arjuna (peerless warrior)
  • From Madri, twins Nakula and Sahadeva from the Asvins (twin god)
  • Pandu makes an advance on Madri and dies, Madri performs Sati on the funeral pyre.
  • Kunti returns to Hastinapura with the Pandava princes (the five sons of Pandu)
  • Dhrtastra had married Ghandari who blindfolded herself, they gave birth to one daughter and 100 sons, the eldest was Duryodhana. The sons were known as the Kaurvas, and they were constantly in rivalry with the Pandavas.
  • The Children studied the arts of war under Drona, who sensed that Arjuna was a peerless warrior, however, during a contest Karna showed up and Duryodhana gained his alliance by giving him a kingdom.
  • Duryodhana tried to have the Pandavas killed, the Pandavas esacpe into the forest, they attend a Svayamvara in disguise and Arjuna wins by shooting a revolving target using only a reflection, winning Draupadi who eventully weds all five brothers.
  • They return and are given the land of Indraprastha where they build a prosperous kingdom (Yudhisthira even performs a rajasuya yajna which required other kings to indicate alleigance)
  • Duryodhana was envious of the Pandavas and challenged Yudhisthira to a game of dice, knowing that it wasn't his game, Yudhisthira eventully loses his kingdom, his brothers, and then Draupadi.
  • The Kaurvas drag Draupadi out in to the court and tried to strip her naked, Draupadi's sari seemed to be endless
  • One more bet: the losers go into exile for 13 years to be killed if found, the Pandavas lose. They have many adventures in exile and have children, Krsna develops a friendship with Arjuna
  • On the 13th year, the Pandavas sneak into the castle of another king (disguised) They are discovered, just as the year ends.
  • Duryodhana denies them their kingdoms back, and both he and Arjuna approacj Krsna, Arjuna at his feet, and so gets to choose first, he cooses Krsna as an advisor and Duryhodana gets Krsnas army.
  • Arjuna has an existential crisis, driving his chariot between the lines and seeing friends and family on both side. Krsna convinces Arjuna to fight as a measure of Dharma, rvealing to him his true form as visnu and by teaching him the various methods of self realization (Bhagavad-Gita)
  • The Pandavas eventually win, by somewhat adharmic means, however nearly all the Pandava children get murdered by Drona's son, except one.
  • Yudhisthira rules dharmically even at the doors



The Gita teaches that there are many paths to Godhead/the absolute, any belief or practice, however unusual, if sincere, goes to the source. There are 3 approaches based on individual temperments. These are called the three yogas:


1. Karma

2. Jnana

3. Bhakti

Jnana Yoga
  • The path of transcendental knowledge (Jnana)
  • considered to be the most difficul; favoured by those of an intellectual temperament
  • Centres on meditation in order to know the self/absolute
  • Mantra meditation, Patanjali's Raja yoga could be considered Jnana yoga
  • Ramana Maharishi (a modern Hindu Sage) exemplifies this path, taught the technique of Vicara (inquiry): asking the question "who am I? over an over again.
  • Krsna identifies himself as the highest realisation in the Gita.
Karma Yoga
  • the path of action (karma), originally meant obeying class/caste duties, practicing rituals, etc. essentially the goal was not moksa but a better rebirth on earth or heaven, the gita, however transformed it into a path of self realisation.
  • this is done through Niskama karma (action w/o attachment to its fruit)
  • Mahatma Ghandi exeplifies this path, emphasizing a technique called Satyagraha (force of truth; grabbing hold of the truth)
  • Can be understood as selfless action
  • The Ramakrishna mission hospitals and Mother teresa exemplify these
  • If one is perfectly detached from the outcome of action, one is free form karmic seeds, hence liberation
Bhakti Yoga
  • the path of loving devotion (Bhakti)
  • The Bhagavad-Gita is the first Hindu text to describe this path; krisna as the object of devotion, regarded as the easy method, open to all classes, genders, etc. and is the most popular form of worship today.
  • Sri Chaitanya: 16th century CE exemplar of Krsna Bhakti, lived in estativ devotion of Krsna, characterised by public chanting (Kirtana) of Krsnas name, Hare-Krsnas are an offshoot of Chaitanyas movement.
  • Bhakti can be done in Puja (ritual worship), pilgramages, and singing.



Devotional ritual worship; the most common form of Bhakti, While yajna is ritual worship woth a contractual nature, in which the gods are compelled to respond, puja places the worshipper at the mercy of the deity.

  • In puja the worshipper needn`t ask for anythingm and the deity neddn`t respond
  • Puja can be performed in the home or temple
  • Consists of 5 kinds of offerings
  1. Gandha (fragrant paste)
  2. Puspa (fresh flowers)
  3. Dhupa (incense)
  4. Dipa (flame)
  5. Naivedya (food)
  • The devotee then makes a short utterance of homage and a bow, the temple visits are for Darsana (to be seen/to see a deity)
  • Puja is performed by the devottee, or the temple priest, the high point is the priests flame worship (arati) of the deity
  • Hindus worship primarily according to their family tradition

The primary family deity

The individuals personal deity
Three major sects
  1. Saivites: worshippers of Siva
  2. Vaisnavites: Worshippers of Visnu or his incarnations
  3. Saktas: Worshippers of Sakti, the Great Goddess

Vedic creator god (aslo called Prajapati) not central in Hinduism, depicted with four heads, seated atop a lotus growing from Visnu's navel

  • Mount/vehicle (Vahana) is the swan
  • Only a few temples are dedicated to him (one at Pushkar) 
  • Siva centered groups 
  • Siva: one of the two great gods in Hinduism, often depicted clad in animal skins (or naked) with matted hair in a topknot, the river goddess Ganga flows through his hair, crecent moon forehead. Holds a drum, a trident, mount is the bull (nandi), adorned with snakes (belt, necklace, etc)
  • regarded as the destroyer, as Siva Nataraja (lord of the dance), he dances the cosmos to destruction.
  • is regarded as the Yogi par excellence, worshipped in the form of an erect phallus (linga)
  • balances the erotic and ascetc dimensions of life
  • Banaras/kashi is a city most sacred to Siva.


  • Siva's wife; performed austerities to win his attention and love.
  • Destroyed in her father Daksa's Yajna, reincarnates as Parvati.
  • Mother of Ganesa, the elephant headed god
  • Elephant headed son of Siva, leader (isa) of his cohorts (gana)
  • Lord of obstacles, propitiated before most undertakings
  • first to receive homage before puja to any deity
  • Handsome son of Siva
  • God of war
  • born from Sivas seed
  • carried by Ganga and delivered to a reed bed
  • nursed by the 6 pleiades (krittika) the source of his six heads
  • followers of Visnu
Siva: one of the two great gods in Hinduism, often depicted clad in animal skins (or naked) with matted hair in a topknot, the river goddess Ganga flows through his hair, crecent moon forehead. Holds a drum, a trident, mount is the bull (nandi), adorned with snakes (belt, necklace, etc)
Siva Nataraja
Lord of the Dance, Siva dances the cosmos to destruction 

One of the two great Gods of Hinduism

  • depicted as blue (like the sky) woth four arms (conch, club, lotus, discus)
  • Often depicted asleep atop Anata (the endless serpent-space and time)
  • feet massaged by laksmi and Bhu Devi (goddess Earth)
  • Brahma dots on a lotus growing from Visnus navel.
  • Preserves the balance between creation/destruction, order/chaos. Often does so with avataras (incarnations) 

Ten Avataras (incarnations) of Visnu

  1. Fish: saves the first Manu from the flood (tells him Purana)
  2. Tortoise: pivot of pole in Ocean churning myth (immortality)
  3. Boar: rescues earth goddess (destroys pollutants)
  4. Man-Lion: Destroys devout Prahlada's demon father
  5. Dwarf: three-stepping Visnu regains triple world from the demon Bali
  6. Rama-with-axe: Brahmin earrior who kills Ksatriyas (parusa Rama)
  7. Rama: destroys demon Ravana
  8. Krsna: kills many demons in youth; helps defeat adharmic Kauravas
  9. Buddha: teaches non-violence, etc (balarama in Buddhist view)
  10. Kalki: Kingly figure on white horse; yet to come
  • Offers devotees many options for a personal relationship with God.
  • Baby Krsna is delightful apple of every mother's eye (eg. butter thief)
  • As teenager he is ideal companion (eg. lake serpent & Mt. Govardhana)
  • As a young man, he is irresistible, flute playing cowherd, he charms the gopis (milkmaids), especially Radha, his favorite
  • In many forms of Bhakti, the devotee adopts the stances Radha, in adulthood Krsna is the ideal ally, spiritual and political advisor






Goddess of good fortune/prosperity/fertility; consoty of Visnu. Worrshipped by all Hindus (esp. merchants) on Divali, the festival of lights.

  • Sita and Radha are regarded as manifestations of Laksmi

Monkey God: Ideal devotee; gaurdian deity; worshipped by Saivas & Vaisnavas


Worship some form of the great Goddess as the highest deity, she is known by many names including: Devi, Mahadevi, Sakti, or Durga.

  • all other Goddesses are regarded as forms/aspects of the great goddess.
Supporting users have an ad free experience!