Important Aspects of Hinduism
There are many different areas of Hinduism covered in the book The Hindu Religious Tradition. The first important area discussed is about Aryans and early Indian culture. The Indus civilizations, cities, art, and culture are explained. Also discussed is the coming of the Aryans, the Gods of the early Aryans, and Aryan fire sacrifice.
The creative power of the sacrifice is explained. The Upanishads, and the search of a self of a man, speculation in the early Upanishads, the teaching of the Yajnavalkya, and the final goal of the Upanishads are also major topics in this book. Religious implications of Upanishadic teaching, challenge and change of Hinduism are explored. Lastly, the new Brahmanical Synthesis, the religion in the epics and puranas, late puranic religion, the full tradition, and the continuing tradition are all fully explained in this book.
Karma and Dharma in the Brahmanical tradition was a topic that expanded my knowledge in the subject more than the textbook could explain. Dharma is a large body of Brahmanical teachings on social as well as ritual responsibilities. This is "what men ought to do". This was defined largely in terms of proper actions in a sacrificial world in the early veda and Brahmans. "Dharma, what men ought to do, thus could not be confined to the circumscribed set of ritual actions in the fire sacrifice, it had to include all actions by which men express and define their place in the cosmos". In the development of Brahmanical thought karma and rebirth were important. Brahmanical texts classified as karma-kanda, having to do with actions as distinguished from the texts such as the Upanishads were jnana-kanda, having to do with knowledge. The oldest karma-kanda texts were the Brahmanas by the seventh century B.C. these had been supplemented by texts called Kalpa-Sutra manuals containing consise rules or sutras concerning Kalpa. Kalpa meant what is fitting or proper. "Consistent standards of dharma were assigned to all men, making explicit the relevance of Brahmanical goals and values for all aspects of life".3
There were also dharma texts that concentrated instead only on the particulars of social duty. The term varnasrama-dharma is summarized by the basic focus with the arrangement of life within a social system. Marginal concerns in the dharma texts are where metaphysical aspects of reincarnation are found. "There was a practical situation where emphasis was put on: if a person is a Brahman or a ksatriya, a householder or hermit, what are his duties?"4 The answer dealt with acceptable behavior in the wide range of situations encountered in daily life.
"Moral uprightness lies in faithfulness to dharma, and dharma is rightly different for everyone. This has helped create the tolerance for which Hinduism is noted."5 The textbook gives a very general view on this topic where as The Hindu Religious Tradition does not.