The Cyber-Cave

Reflections on the political, technological, cultural and economic trends of the world

Hinduism

VEDAS

‘Veda’ in Sanskrit means ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’. The ‘Vedas’ are a collection of religious texts that are believed to have been composed between 1500-1000 BC in the nortwestern India and Pakistan. Vedas’ texts are divided in four sections: philosophical-spiritual meditations, benedictions and mantras, how to make rituals, commentary on the rituals.
Most of the hymns are about three important gods: Soma, Agni and Indra.
The hymn dedicated to Purusha is one of the first descriptions of the caste system.
The hymns suggests that the social division is constructed in the following way: the Brahmans originate from Purusha’s mouth, the Kshatriyas from Purusha’s arms, the Vaishyas from Purusha’s thighs and the Shudras from Purusha’s feet.
Shudras were not considered to be ‘twice-born’ and were not allowed to study the Vedas.
The four Vedas:
-Rig-Veda
-Yajurveda
-Samaveda
-Atharvaveda

UPANISHADS (1500-600 BC)

There are 13 principal Upanishads (the first ones to have been written, already during Vedic times):
-Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
-Chandogya
-Kausitaki
-Taittiriya
-Aitayrea
-Kena
-Katha
-Isa
-Mundaka
-Svetasvatara
-Prasna
-Mandukya
-Maitri

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

It contains the famous mantra “Lead from me from what is transient to what is eternal, from darkness to light, from death to immortality”. There is a similarity with the allegory of the androgynous in Plato’s Symposium. Purusha, the cosmic man, is androgynous and he splits himself into two bodies: male and female (which is why since then male and female feel incomplete alone).
Everything one wishes to know about the world is a form of the mind. Space is the materialisation of the mind.
There are two forms of Brahman: gross and subtle. In the human body, the ‘gross’ is what the eye can see, the ‘subtle’ is the awareness animating the body. The ‘gross’ is limited, mortal while the ‘subtle’ is immortal.
Reality is an intelligence on which all other things converge, like a grain of salt which dissolves itself in a glass of water but gives flavour to the water.
All the beings perceive each other because of the Atman.
The Atman can only be described through exclusion (‘it is not this, it is not that’)- a similar approach was used by some Christian theologians (the via negativa) and by Maimonides.
In a state of deep sleep with no dreaming, the Atman is truly at rest and united with the Brahman. The Atman forgets its corporeal identity and is free from pain or desires. The separation between the observer and the observed is dissolved. The senses are suspended because there is no longer a separation in the existence of who perceives and of what is perceived.

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