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Hinduism Timeline

Hinduism Timeline


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  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 500 BCE

    Indian scholars of the so-called Vedic Period commit the Vedas to written form; basic tenets of Hinduism are established.

  • c. 400 BCE - c. 200 CE

    The Bhagavad Gita, part of the Mahabharata, is written at some point between 400 BCE and 200 CE.

  • c. 480 CE - c. 500 CE

    The Gupta-era Hindu temple at Bhitargaon is built.

  • c. 770 CE

    The Kailasa rock-cut temple at Ellora is completed and dedicated to Shiva.

  • 1122 CE

    Construction begins of the Hindu temple at Angkor Wat.


History of Major Religions

Judaism is an abrahamic belief based on the teachings of Moses. The holy book of Judaism is the Torah. It is the oldest religion of the group and starts around 4,000 years ago. A main figure from Judaism is Moses who freed the Israelites from bondage. One particular scene from Judaism is Moses with the Ten Commandments. It shows a older long bearded and long haired standing upon a big jagged grey rock. He is holding 2 stone tablets with older Roman numeral on it carved deeply in the tablet.

Jewish, Christianity and Muslim religion all have a similar doctrine. They all are monotheistic and worship the same God. The difference between Jewish and Christianity is that Jewish people do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and are still waiting for the coming of the savior. The difference between Christianity and Muslim is that the Muslim religion believe that Muhammad is the last and final prophet.

Jews and Muslims don't have the best history. During the holocaust, which was a brutal attack on Jewish people led by Adolfo Hitler, most Jewish people were forced out of their homes. They were in the cold with no where to go because their house was in unlivable conditions or the house itself was reduced to crumbles or ash or there were anti-Semitic rallies going on. Seeing this the British gave them a part of Israel that they were colonizing. A part that Muslims were already lived in. They pushed the Muslims to a small part of Israel called the West Bank. They're still not on the best terms

*Origin of Hinduism

Hinduism is the religion of the majority of people in India and Nepal.Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. Dharma is an important term in Indian religions. In Hinduism it means duty, virtue, morality, even religion and it refers to the power which upholds the universe and society. In Hindu history the highest class, the Brahmins, adhered to this varnashrama-dharma doctrine. The class system is a model or ideal of social order that first occurs in the oldest Hindu text, the Rig Veda and the present-day caste. Hinduism originated around the Indus Valley near the River Indus in modern day Pakistan. About 80% of the Indian population regard themselves as Hindu, also, most Hindus believe in a Supreme God, whose qualities and forms are represented by the multitude of deities which emanate from him.
Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by Karma.
Hindus believe that the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives and its next incarnation is always dependent on how the previous life was lived. In some ways Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world, or at least elements within it stretch back many thousands of years. Yet Hinduism resists easy definition partly because of the vast array of practices and beliefs found within it. It is also closely associated conceptually and historically with the other Indian religions Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. Throughout its extensive history, there have been many key figures teaching different philosophies and writing numerous holy books. For these reasons, writers often refer to Hinduism as 'a way of life' or 'a family of religions' rather than a single religion.

Origin of Confucianism

Confucianism is an archaic, Chinese philosophical tradition that originated from the revolutionary philosopher, Confucius. This out breaking axiom derived from Ancient China during a period of corruption between powerful, dominant rulers & the submissive, feeble lower-class men. With intentions of prosperity, Confucianism was able to strongly subdue the exploitation that occurred between the animosity of the classes in China.

Ancient China was in a prosperous era in which their army of fearless, supreme Zhou rulers kindle the colossal expansion of valued land of other inferior empires. They were also able to establish a beneficial system that granted infertile nobles to obtain partial land in exchange for their much needed service in war they acquiesced even for what was soon to come. Eventually, the rulers took advantage of their power and the article "Mastering the TEKS in World History"' Chinese philosopher Confucius began to put order in China's political and social life as a response to the turmoil.

Confucius theorized that of each citizen performs their divine duties, this would be the key to harmony. The respect of superiors and inferiors were critical to the strive for peace within a civilization. Similar to Buddhism, Confucianism promotes the importance of interrelationships between one to another is paramount to achieve blissful harmony.

In summation, Confucianism's impact on China was what salvage China from further abuse between the supreme leader and the regulated, subordinate citizens that had to accept the ruler's malfeasance.

Destruction of the First Temple (Judaism)

*Origin of Buddhism

Buddhism is a very interesting major religion with a very big set complex of distinguished beliefs. One of them being The Four Noble Truths, which is basically: suffering exist it has a cause it has an end and it has a cause to bring about this end which means, suffering is real, There's a reason for it and it can be ended with good karma, which brings me to Karma. There's another belief which would be called Karma. Karma is basically good or bad actions that someone makes during their lifetime. Good actions bring about happiness in the long run, while bad actions bring about unhappiness in the long run. Hinduism is also a believer in karma, but that's not all that Hindus and Buddhist have in common, Hindus also believe in The Cycle Of Rebirth just like Buddhist. The Cycle Of Rebirth is basically 6 planes into which a person or an animal can be reborn into three fortunate realms and three unfortunate realms, and this is also where Karma plays in because those with good karma are born into 1 of the 3 fortunate realms. The realms of the Demi Gods, the realms of Gods, and the realm of Men are the three fortunate realms. While the unfortunate realms are animal, ghost and hell, who are left to suffer untold suffering. Another thing that really interested me about Buddhist is that they don't have "just one" holy book like how Christianity has the Bible, Buddhist have multiple holy books. Buddhist are also 90% Korean and I also figured out that Buddhist used to study text, now they just practice meditation just like their Buddha did. As you can tell, Buddhism is a very interesting religion with lots of facts and history behind it, its a very loving and relaxing religion and I would definitely join it.

Life of Confucius (Confucianism)

Construction of Second Temple (Judaism)

Life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddhism)

Fall of Rome (Christianity)

Buddhism Arrives in South East Asia (Buddhism)

Life of Jesus Christ (Christianity)

Christianity is a religion based on the teaching of Jesus Christ. The religion was started 2,000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was born. The religious doctrine for this religion is "The Bible." This religion is based off of the fact that we all sin but can be saved through believing that Jesus Christ died for our sons and rose again. This process is called salvation. One particular scene from Christianity is the scene of the cross where it features an old, rickety wooden cross with a man bleeding profusely and with a crown of thorns around his head. It also shows the man with black iron pegs.

Christianity has some similarities to other religions. Like Islam and Judaism it is monotheistic and their doctrines share the similar qualities. Unlike Christianity, Islam religion recognizes Muhammad as the last prophet and Judaism only uses the Torah which are the first 5 books of the bible and believes that Jesus was not the messiah and they are still waiting for the messiah.

Christianity has had a big impact on the world. A very important impact was the Crusades caused trade and exploration. The crusades were a group of soldiers organized by The Pope to take back the holy land of Jerusalem. They tried many times to take back the holy land but were unsuccessful. It was also the start of the fight between Muslims and Christians. Now some Christians blame all Muslims for terrorist attacks which isn't true. It's kind of funny how these two religions can be so similar and have such animosity for each other. Christianity is a very important religion that has impacted our world in more ways than 1.

Origin of Christianity

Christianity is the belief in the bible and the new testament, From the research I did I learned that christianity is a monotheistic religion and that christians has many beliefs like the trinity, and that Jesus is the son of god. If christianity wouldn't exist people would be part of other religions, but nowadays christianity is one of the biggest religion in the world. In the ancient times in rome christianity was a big deal because all christians believed in only one god and refused to worship the roman gods so they had to meet in secret and if they were caught they were killed. Romans and Christians had different beliefs for example christianity promised life after death in heaven and in Roman religion only gods went to heaven, another belief that christians had was equal opportunity.


The Indus River Valley Civilization

In 1921, archaeologists uncovered evidence of an ancient civilization along the Indus River, which today runs through northwest India into Pakistan. The so-called Indus Valley civilization (also known as the Harappan civilization for one of its chief cities) is thought to have originated as early as 7000 BCE and to have reached is height between 2300 to 2000 BCE, at which point it encompassed over 750,000 square miles and traded with Mesopotamia.

Some writings of this period have been discovered but unfortunately in such small amounts that they have yet to be deciphered. Knowledge of this great civilization's religion must therefore be based on physical evidence alone. Baths have been found that may indicate ritual bathing, a component of modern Hinduism. Some altar-like structures may be evidence of animal sacrifice, and terra cotta figures may represent deities. An important seal features a horned figure surrounded by animals, which some conjecture is a prototype of Shiva, but it could be a bull parallel to that found on Mesopotamian seals.


Overview

The term Hinduism became familiar as a designator of religious ideas and practices distinctive to India with the publication of books such as Hinduism (1877) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams, the notable Oxford scholar and author of an influential Sanskrit dictionary. Initially it was an outsiders’ term, building on centuries-old usages of the word Hindu. Early travelers to the Indus valley, beginning with the Greeks and Persians, spoke of its inhabitants as “Hindu” (Greek: ‘indoi), and, in the 16th century, residents of India themselves began very slowly to employ the term to distinguish themselves from the Turks. Gradually the distinction became primarily religious rather than ethnic, geographic, or cultural.

Since the late 19th century, Hindus have reacted to the term Hinduism in several ways. Some have rejected it in favour of indigenous formulations. Others have preferred “Vedic religion,” using the term Vedic to refer not only to the ancient religious texts known as the Vedas but also to a fluid corpus of sacred works in multiple languages and an orthoprax (traditionally sanctioned) way of life. Still others have chosen to call the religion sanatana dharma (“eternal law”), a formulation made popular in the 19th century and emphasizing the timeless elements of the tradition that are perceived to transcend local interpretations and practice. Finally, others, perhaps the majority, have simply accepted the term Hinduism or its analogues, especially hindu dharma (Hindu moral and religious law), in various Indic languages.

Since the early 20th century, textbooks on Hinduism have been written by Hindus themselves, often under the rubric of sanatana dharma. These efforts at self-explanation add a new layer to an elaborate tradition of explaining practice and doctrine that dates to the 1st millennium bce . The roots of Hinduism can be traced back much farther—both textually, to the schools of commentary and debate preserved in epic and Vedic writings from the 2nd millennium bce , and visually, through artistic representations of yakshas (luminous spirits associated with specific locales and natural phenomena) and nagas (cobralike divinities), which were worshipped from about 400 bce . The roots of the tradition are also sometimes traced back to the female terra-cotta figurines found ubiquitously in excavations of sites associated with the Indus valley civilization and sometimes interpreted as goddesses.


3 Answers 3

The beginning of Kaliyug. (3102 BC)

Starting with the age of Kali Yuga, it is 4,32,000 years. Till now 5115 years have passed. According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE. This is also considered the date on which Lord Krishna left the earth to return to his heavenly abode.

Kaliyug and Mahabharat war. Lord Krishna ascended to His Divine abode at the end of dwapar yug and immediately kaliyug started in 3102 BC. Krishn lived for over 125 years. He descended on the earth planet in 3228 BC. The Pandavas, after winning the Mahabharat war, ruled for 36 years and 8 months. Accordingly, the date of Mahabharat war comes to 3139 BC.

Now about Vedic age, first we need to understand what actually Vedic age is, as stated here:

The Vedic Period or the Vedic Age refers to that time period when the Vedic Sanskrit texts were composed in India. The society that emerged during that time is known as the Vedic Period, or the Vedic Age, Civilization. The Vedic Civilization flourished between the 1500 BC and 500 BC on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.

So if you refer the above passage it conveys that during this period the Sanskrit texts were composed (Smriti) before that it existed (as Vedas are eternal) but were not composed, hence that period is termed as Vedic Age.

Difference between Shruti & Smriti: Shruti is “that which has been heard” and is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves. Smriti is “that which has been remembered” supplementary and may change over time.

So basically the period which is before this Vedic period is termed as Pre-vedic period.

About Indus Valley age as stated here:

The Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization located in what is Pakistan and northwest India today, on the fertile flood plain of the Indus River and its vicinity. Evidence of religious practices in this area date back approximately to 5500 BCE. Farming settlements began around 4000 BCE and around 3000 BCE there appeared the first signs of urbanization. By 2600 BCE, dozens of towns and cities had been established, and between 2500 and 2000 BCE the Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak.

So if you analyze everything closely you can conclude that basically it started during Dwapar Yuga and continued in Kali Yuga as well.


Hinduism

Hinduism is a collective term applied to the many philosophical and religious traditions native to India. Hinduism has neither a specific moment of origin nor a specific founder. Rather, the tradition understands itself to be timeless, having always existed. Indeed, its collection of sacred texts is known, as a whole, as Sanatana Dharma, "The Eternal Teaching." It is thus a complex tradition that encompasses numerous interrelated religious doctrines and practices that have some common characteristics but which lack any unified system of beliefs and practices. Hinduism encompasses a number of major sects, as well as countless subsects with local or regional variations. On one level, it is possible to view these sects as distinct religious traditions, with often very specific theologies and ritual traditions on another level, however, they often understand themselves to be different means to reach a common end. The Hindu worldview is grounded in the doctrines of samsara (the cycle of rebirth) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect), and fundamentally holds that one's actions (including one's thoughts) directly determine one's life, both one's current life and one's future lives. Many, but not all, Hindus hold that the cosmos is populated by numerous deities and spiritual beings &mdash gods and goddesses, or devas &mdash who actively influence the world and who interact with humans. The tradition is typically divided into four major sects: Shaiva (devotees of the god Shiva), Vaishnava (devotees of the god Vishnu), Shakta (devotees of the goddess), and Smarta (those who understand the ultimate form of the divine to be abstract and all encompassing, Brahman).


Hinduism and Buddhism, an introduction

Unlike Christianity or Buddhism, Hinduism did not develop from the teachings of a single founder. Moreover, it has diverse traditions, owing to its long history and continued development over the course of more than 3000 years. The term Hindu originally referred to those living on the other side of the Indus River, and by the thirteenth century it simply referred to those living in India. It was only in the eighteenth century that the term Hindu became specifically related to an Indic religion generally.

Hindus adhere to the principles of the Vedas, which are a body of Sanskritic texts that date as early as 1700 B.C.E. However, unlike the Christian or Islamic traditions, which have the Bible and the Koran, Hinduism does not adhere to a single text. The lack of a single text, among other things, also makes Hinduism a difficult religion to define.

Hinduism is neither monotheistic nor is it polytheistic. Hinduism’s emphasis on the universal spirit, or Brahman, allows for the existence of a pantheon of divinities while remaining devoted to a particular god. It is for this reason that some scholars have referred to Hinduism as a henotheistic religion (the belief in and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities). Hinduism can also be described as a religion that appreciates orthopraxy—or right praxis. Because doctrinal views vary so widely among Hindus, there is no norm based on orthodoxy or right belief. By contrast, ritualized acts are consistent among differing Hindu groups.

Hindu gods and worship of the gods

Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja), c. 11th century, Copper alloy, Chola period, 68.3 x 56.5 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Within the Hindu pantheon are a number of gods, goddesses and deities however, one entity is supreme, Brahman. Brahman is the Supreme Being the One self-existent power the Reality which is the source of all being and all knowing. Enlightenment for the Hindu is recognizing that all things are united.

Brahman is traditionally said to manifest on earth as the Trimutri: Brahma as the creator god Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. Brahman manifests himself on earth in other gods so that he will be more knowable. With this said, for Hindus, reaching salvation is understanding that everything is in union. The different names and forms that a god can take is immaterial as they are essentially Brahman.

However, as human beings we crave the protection of many gods, in particular those gods with a very specific power. Beyond the Trimutri are numerous Hindu gods and goddesses : Ganesha, the elephant headed god and Durga, the female warrior. Each god has a specific power and role. Ganesha, for example, is the lord of beginnings and the remover of obstacles. It is for this reason that images of Ganesha are present in Hindu temples, regardless of who the temple is dedicated to. Durga , who is solicited for protection , is also equally sought by women for fertility.

These personal deities are called ishtadeva. Having an ishtadeva does not mean a worshipper forsakes other gods, but it does mean that they have a more personal relationship with their patron deity.

Hindu Worship

For Hindu worshipers, the concept of bhakti is important. Bhakti is the devotion, honor and love one has for god. The physical actions, which one takes to express one’s bhakti can be done in a number of ways such as through darshan and puja.

Darshan means auspicious sight. By making a pilgrimage to see a god at a temple or shrine, the practitioner is going there specifically to take darshan. It should be noted that for Hindus the image of a god is not just a symbol or a portrait of their god, but is in fact an embodiment of that god. While the god does not always reside in the image, he or she does, from time to time, descend to earth and takes the form of the image. Often these times coincide with special holidays or certain times of the day—especially when rituals in honor of the gods are taking place. It is during these times, when the god is present, that darshan is most effective. To worship the god, the practitioner must be seen by the god and in turn the practitioner must see the god.

The importance of sight and its reciprocation in worship is directly reflected in the production of Hindu images. Images of gods have large eyes, so that it is easier for them to see the practitioner and for the practitioner to make eye-contact with them. Moreover, there exists a strict set of parameters artisans must follow in order to create images of gods so that gods and goddesses will inhabit the body. Gods will not inhabit forms that they do not consider worthy of their stature. This set of rules is based on mathematical proportions and is called iconometry. Therefore, in order for an image to be successful it needs to have the appropriate iconography (forms and symbols) associated with the god and also have appropriate iconometry.

Beyond darshan, worship for a Hindu includes puja or offerings as a form of honoring. One can make puja by lustrating an image with ghee, milk or oils, or simply adorn an image with garlands of flowers.

The Hindu world

For Hindus, time and space are organized and conceived of as cyclical—where one era cycles into the next. In Hindu mythology there are cycles of cosmic ages from a golden age (kitri yuga) to the dark age (kali yuga). We are currently in a degenerate dark age. When it ends, in several millennia, the universe will be destroyed and Brahma will create it anew. Just as the universe and time is conceived as being cyclical so is the progress of the individual soul. For Hindus, the soul is bound to the samsaric wheel. Samsara is the continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

In order to escape this cycle one must realize everything is one, everything is Brahman. In other words, one’s individual soul is the same as the universal soul. When this is accomplished it is called moksa and marks the end of the samsaric cycle of rebirth.

All of this is understood through Hindu Dharma. For the Hindus, Dharma explains why things are and why they should be—there must be order in everything including society. And this is where the idea of the caste system finds credence in Hinduism. One’s ranking in the social caste system is dependent on one’s karma, translated from the Sanskrit to mean “action.” For Hindus, karma originally began as a purely ritual act, which was the act of making sacrifice/offerings to the sacred fire/gods. For Hindus, it is the Brahmin, or the priestly class, who has access to the sacred fire, which directly corresponded to their social rank, which was at the top. Brahmins refers to an elite caste, which includes priests, scholars, teachers, etc.

Buddhism and the Buddha

The social caste system as described by Hindu Dharma was likely one of the biggest factors in the development of Buddhism. Buddhism developed in reaction to the established religion in India at the time—Hinduism (Brahminism). Buddhism, in contrast to Hinduism, has a single founder and while there is no singular text there are texts that outline the teachings of the Buddha as the great and exemplary teacher.

Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni, 3rd-5th century Kushan period, Pakistan/ancient Gandhara (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Buddhism was founded by one individual, Siddhartha Gautama, sometime in 6th or 5th century B.C.E. Prince Siddhartha Gautama’s biography has very much become a part of the foundation of the Buddhist teachings.

Prince Siddhartha Gautama lived a cloistered life of ease and abundance. At the age of 29 years he came across a sick man, an old man, a dead man and an ascetic. Siddhartha had never seen these unpleasant aspects of life before, and was profoundly moved and confused. He could no longer ignore the existence of suffering in the world and live his life of privilege, knowing that old age and death are our inevitable fate. It was at this time that he chose to depart from his sheltered life to become an ascetic and find the truth to the universe.

The middle way

He removed his jewels and rich robes forever, cut his hair and went into the forest and became an ascetic where he studied with a variety of sages and yogis, but he was unsatisfied with their teachings. He also practiced several types of self-mortification—most importantly starvation, because he wanted to concentrate exclusively on his spiritual advancements. These searches proved fruitless and he finally came to the realization that the Middle Path (avoiding extremes) was the path towards enlightenment. The middle path teaches adherents to avoid extremes. For Siddhartha that meant neither a life of luxury as a prince nor starving himself.

He traveled to a town in northern India called Bodh Gaya, where he sat under a type of tree called a bodhi tree and vowed to remain there until he reached enlightenment. After remaining in that spot in deep meditation for 49 days, he was tested one night by the demon god, Mara (a symbol of ignorance—he is not evil, just deluded). Mara tried to disrupt Siddhartha’s meditation and sent his beautiful daughters to tempt him. Siddhartha remained unmoved, kept his meditation and thus passed this final trial and gained enlightenment. At the moment of his enlightenment, he came to be known as Buddha, which translates from Sanskrit as “enlightened one.”

Lion Capital, Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath, c. 250 B.C.E., polished sandstone, 210 x 283 cm, Sarnath Museum, India (photo: AS Mysore for Vincent Arthur Smith, not in copyright – pre Independence princely state publication)

The Buddha’s teachings utilized much of the same vocabulary of the Hindus. For example, Dharma for Hindus explains why things are and why they should be. For Buddhists, Dharma came to be defined as the teachings of the Buddha. The caste system became invalid as the Buddha simply denied its relevance towards reaching salvation—as his salvation denied the existence of the self.

For Hindus, salvation comes in realizing that everything is one, everything is in union with Brahman and one’s soul is the same as the universal soul. When the Buddha taught that there was no self, there was no need to attach the self to Brahman. Similarly, in the Hindu context karma refers to ritual action—darshan and puja—whereas for the Buddhists karma has always been an ethical action. For Buddhists, karma (action)—whether good or bad —lay in the intention. Buddha deemphasized Brahmanical rituals by making karma an ethical act and focusing on intention. Moreover, the Brahmin caste who had direct access to the gods through rituals were no longer a privileged class in Buddhism. In Buddhism, anyone who understood the teachings of the Buddha could achieve salvation.

For Buddhists, salvation is gained through the understanding of the ways things really are according to the Buddha’s Dharma. Once an individual has become enlightened they can then reach a state of nirvana. Nirvana is described as the extinguishment of suffering by escaping the continuous cycle of rebirth called samsara. An individual’s ability to reach enlightenment and nirvana are dependent on their understanding of the Dharma. Recall that the goal for both Hindus and Buddhists is to escape the samsaric cycle of rebirth—but each religion’s interpretation of how to do this and what it meant to get off the cycle differed.

The Buddha’s teachings

The basic tenets of the Buddhist faith are called the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are meant to uncover one’s eyes of the dust from the secular world and show the practitioner that:

  1. Life is suffering: it is suffering because we are not perfect nor is the world in which we live perfect.
  2. The origin of suffering is attachment or desire: attachment to transient things and ignorance thereof. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a “self” which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call “self” is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.
  3. The cessation of suffering can be attained through detachment of desire and craving.
  4. The end of suffering is achieved by seeking the middle path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence and excessive self-mortification, leading to the end of the cycle of rebirth.

The middle path can be achieved by following the Eightfold Path to end suffering and begin the course to reaching nirvana. The Eightfold Path requires the practitioner to seek:

  1. Right or Perfect View: is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realize the Four Noble Truths.
  2. Right Intention: can be described as a commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement.
  3. Right Speech: is abstaining from the use of false, slanderous and harmful words which hurt others.
  4. Right Action: means to abstain from harming others, abstaining from taking what is not given to you and to avoid sexual misconduct.
  5. Right livelihood: means that one should earn one’s living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully.
  6. Right Effort: is the prerequisite for the other principles of the path as one needs the will to act or else nothing will be achieved.
  7. Right Mindfulness: the ability to contemplate actively one’s mind, body and soul.
  8. Right Concentration: the ability to focus on right thoughts and actions through meditation.

Buddhist practice

During the time of the Buddha, there was only one school of Buddhism, which is the one that the Buddha taught however, over time there came to be different sects of Buddhism. These Buddhist sects were produced by fissures within the monastic order. Such fissures occur in differences in practice not in belief in the doctrine. In other words, regardless of what sect of Buddhism one is talking about, all adhere to the Buddha’s doctrine of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Two major schools of Buddhist thought are Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhism

Theravada translates to “the School of the Elders” since it is believed by some to be closer to the Buddha’s original teachings. According to Theravada Buddhists, each person is responsible for their own enlightenment. There are teachers and models, and the Buddha is exemplary, but, everyone must ultimately reach enlightenment by their own volition. Today, Theravada Buddhism is practiced in much of mainland Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism was a school that developed in c. 100 C.E. Mahayana literally means: the “big vehicle.” It is a big vehicle that transports more sentient beings off the samsaric cycle towards enlightenment and nirvana. One of the cornerstones of Mahayana Buddhism is compassion, which is visualized in the appearance of bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are altruistic enlightened beings that vow to delay their own parinirvana (final nirvana) until every sentient being reaches enlightenment. Mahayana Buddhism is most commonly practiced in East Asia and Vietnam.

Differences

Where Theravada and Mahayana differ is that Mahayana regards becoming a bodhisattva as the ultimate goal. Therefore depictions of bodhisattvas are frequent in Mahayana art. Another fundamental difference between the two schools is how they regard the character of the Buddha. Mahayana considers the Buddha to be nearly divine in nature—he is superhuman and as such, he is worshipped in Mahayana Buddhism.
Theravada considers the Buddha an exemplar, the great teacher.

Decline of Buddhism in India

By the thirteenth century Buddhism had largely disappeared from the country of its birth, though it has been kept alive in various forms across Asia. In fact, it is the single most important shared cultural phenomenon found throughout Asia was the transmission and adoption of Buddhism.


5. The Vedas and Modern Science

The Vedas represent a collection of hymns and religious texts that were formulated somewhere between 1500 and 1000 BC. These sacred verses were written in the Indus region where it is believed Hinduism originated. The scripture used in the Vedas is Sanskrit. Even though the Vedas were composed thousands of years ago, scientists have found a strong connection between their messages and modern science.

For instance, modern scientists put forward the idea of the existence of multiple universes in string theory. It states we live in a multiverse – there are many universes that exist in parallel. The Hindu Vedas clearly echo this “modern” concept by mentioning the existence of cyclical infinite worlds in the ancient Hindu cosmology. The sacred texts in the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita were perfect in their understanding of the universe. In fact, Albert Einstein once said: “When I read the Bhagavad Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems superfluous.”


2006 March - US and India sign a nuclear agreement during a visit by US President George W Bush. The US gives India access to civilian nuclear technology while India agrees to greater scrutiny for its nuclear programme.

2007 April - India's first commercial space rocket is launched, carrying an Italian satellite.

2007 July - Pratibha Patil becomes first woman to be elected president of India.

2008 July - Congress-led coalition survives vote of confidence brought after left-wing parties withdraw their support over controversial nuclear cooperation deal with US.

2008 October - India successfully launches its first mission to the moon, the unmanned lunar probe Chandrayaan-1.


Cultural developments in Medieval India

Language and literature

Medieval India saw the rise of regional languages as mediums for great literature. Whereas Sanskrit had been the Brahminical language of ancient India, now the Tamil dialects of South India, for example Kannada, became prominent vehicles for intellectual expression. The fact that the new Hindu cults used local languages for their sacred texts was a major part of their appeal, but even at court these regional languages replaced Sanskrit.

Nevertheless, Sanskrit retained its status as the primary language of high culture. Just as in Guptas times, works which had intellectual pretensions, or wanted to be read right across the subcontinent, were written in Sanskrit.

Literary works included poetry, grammar, lexicons, manuals, rhetoric, commentaries on older works, prose fiction and drama. They were written on palm leaves tied together into codices, or book-like forms.

Leading poets were major figures at the course of Indian rulers. Some noblemen, ministers, ascetics and monks also contributed to the literary output of the period. Poetry came in different forms, including shatpadi, six-line verses ragale, lyrical compositions in blank verse and ttripadi, three-line verses. The traditional champu, composed of prose and verse, also continued in use. These were sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument.

Inscriptions on stone and copper plates were also common. These were written mostly in regional languages but some were in Sanskrit, or were bilingual. The sections of bilingual inscriptions stating the title, genealogy and origin myths of the King were generally done in Sanskrit.

Local languages were used in everyday administration and commerce, including contracts, information on land ownership, and so on.

Architecture and Art

The kings of medieval India are famous for their patronage of art and architecture. The brisk temple building of the period is evident throughout the subcontinent, but more especially in central and southern India.

Independent architectural traditions arose in different parts of India. One of the most notable can be seen in Hoysala temple architecture of southern India. It is characterized by an attention to exquisite detail and skilled craftsmanship, reflected also in its temple sculpture, with its sensuous depictions of feminine beauty. The outer walls of many Hindu temples contained an intricate array of stone sculptures and friezes depicting the great Hindu epics.

The End of Medieval India

After a brief revival, the Delhi sultanate was finally finished off when the last of its rulers was killed by the forces of another invader from central Asia at the battle of Panipat (1526). The victor of Panipat, Babur, went on the found the Mughal dynasty.

Another chapter in India’s long history had opened. This was not just due to the rise of a new imperial dynasty, but also to the fact that influences from outside the subcontinent began to make themselves felt, moving India into the modern era. The use of firearms was an example, but more than this was the appearance of European traders along the coasts of India. From small beginnings these would come to have control over the entire subcontinent.

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