KIRAN ATMA: Arthashastra
Showing posts with label Arthashastra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arthashastra. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is The History Of Indian Culture?

 


A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF INDIA'S CULTURAL HISTORY. 

 


The "animistic" and "polytheistic" Indian subcontinent is home to tens of thousands of local cults that have native shamanic roots, that perhaps reminds one of civilizations described in the African continent or resemble the Pscythian tribes of Eurasia. 


  •  However, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are four main spiritual traditions that rank among the global religions. 
  •  As a result, India's contribution to global spirituality is unparalleled. 


More than any other race, Indians have shown great versatility in spiritual issues, inspiring many other countries and resulting in a much-needed spiritual enrichment of our spiritually sick Western civilisation in our century. 


  •  For millennia, Hinduism has been the main tradition of the Indian subcontinent, with more than 1.2 billion followers worldwide. 


There are about 967 million Hindus in India, about 80% of the population which today stands over 1.4 billion people. 


  • Muslims, are the second biggest religious group, followed by Christians and Sikhs.
  •  In India, Buddhists make up a tiny minority, although they are well-represented in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Tibet, and Southeast Asia. 

 

The word "Hinduism" is a bit of a misnomer. 

 

  • It is often used to refer to the whole culture of all Peninsula residents, excluding those who adhere to clearly recognized faiths like as Buddhism and Christianity. 
  •  More precisely, the term refers to a number of traditions that are historically and ideologically linked to the ancient Vedic civilization of more than 6,000 years ago, and which took on its distinctive shape around the turn of the first millennium c. E. 


NOTE: The term "Hinduism" is used on this site in the broadest meaning possible. 

 

Hinduism is a philosophy as well as a religion just as much as it can be a universal identity today. 


  •  It is a complete civilization with its own particular lifestyle, defined by a distinctive social structure: the caste system, much like the other global religions. 

For thousands of years, Hindu society has been divided into four estates (varna), which are incorrectly referred to as castes: 

  1. the priestly or briihmana estate or class;
  2. the warrior or kshatriya class; 
  3. the "common people" or vaishya class (comprising farmers, traders, and artisans); 
  4. and the servile or shudra class. 

 

This arrangement is believed to have its origins in the heavenly order. 

  •  The primal being or macranthropos is depicted as giving birth to the four estates as follows in the RigVeda's "Hymn of Man" (purusha-sfi.kta) (1 0. 90.  1 2): 
    • The brahmin is His lips; the warrior is made of His arms; the merchant is made of His thighs; and the servant is made of His feet. 
  •  Members of the slave estate were systematically barred from acquiring holy knowledge, and they ultimately became outcasts. 
    •  The feet are metaphorically "filthy," and the shudras' assignment to the Cosmic Man's lower limbs denotes their poor social position.
    • However, since the feet are an essential component of a fully functioning human person, the servile estate is also vital to society's well-being. 
    •  However, the shudras are karmically predestined for menial labor rather than intellectual, leadership, or creative activity, according to Vedic beliefs, since their awareness is of a darker color (varna). 


 It is a common misconception that the word varna ("color") relates to skin color and that the four states are divided by ethnic lines. 


  •  All four estates, however, are part of the Vedic Aryan social body, which, according to the Rig-Veda, valued the hue of the soul above ethnic traits. 
  •  Only the top three estates are regarded "twice-born" (dvija), meaning they have been "born again" via appropriate Vedic initiation. 
  •  Boys and girls from the priestly, military, and agricultural/mercantile estates were customarily married at the ages of eight, eleven, and twelve, respectively. 
  •  They were then given a holy thread (yajna-upavita, spelled yajno­ pavita) to wear permanently over the left shoulder, hanging diagonally across the chest, as part of the investiture (upanayana) ceremony. 

 

Allowing marriages between members of different estates resulted in the formation of social groupings known as castes (jati). 


  •  As a result, a growing number of subcastes emerged. 
  •  The conduct and actions of members of various castes are tightly regulated by complex rules that control this social order. 
  •  This stratification very certainly resulted in marginalized people being labeled "outcasts" or "untouchables."

Visionaries and reformers have often questioned this enormous social superstructure. 

 

  • The founder of Buddhism, Gautama, was one of the first to reject it. 
    •  Despite this, it has persisted throughout the ages and has had a strong effect on all other subcontinental cultures. 
  •  Social innovators who opposed the caste system in general had to oppose the Vedic revelation that legitimized it as well. 
  •  The caste system, with its social inequalities, is as natural to the devout Hindu as democracy is to us.
  •  The caste system is justified by citing the law of karma, much as we defend democratic principles by emphasizing the value of the individual. 
    •  Because of previous decisions and acts, each individual has a certain station in life. 
    •  Brahmins are brahmins because of their past lives' moral and spiritual endeavors. 
    •  Outcasts are outcasts for a variety of reasons, including a lack of desire for a better life or serious crimes. 



 Although the caste system offends our modern Western sensibilities, our forefathers formerly had beliefs and ideals that were comparable to those of traditional Hindus. 


  • The old social order, which was clearly hierarchical, was only questioned, contested, and eventually destroyed with the development of a strong individualism during the Renaissance. 
  •  Even our modern so-called egalitarian countries, with a super-wealthy elite at one end and a large number of impoverished people at the other, are not without social stratification. 



The caste system's rigidity has been counterbalanced by a considerable ideological flexibility. 

  •  As a result, Hinduism has shown an incredible ability for absorbing even the most diametrically opposed elements inside itself. 
  •  For example, at one end of the spectrum is Shankara's extreme non­ dualist school, and at the other end is Classical Samkhya's rigorous dualist school, which, despite its atheism, is nevertheless considered one of Hinduism's six main philosophical systems (darshana). 
  •  The "cool" contemplative approach of nondualist Jnana-Yoga of the Upanishads on the one hand, and the passionate emo­ tionalism of certain schools of monotheistic Bhakti­ Yoga on the other, is another example of such radically divergent philosophical views. 
  •  The medieval way of devotionalism (bhakti-marga) is very syncretistic, including aspects from Islamic Sufism, for example. 
    •  The Allah-Upanishad, a late book written under Muslim influence, exemplifies Hinduism's all-inclusive ethos. 
  •  Even a well-defined religious tradition like Christianity fell prey to Hinduism's spongelike absorptive capacity, and had to be saved from Hinduization by Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

The inclusive nature of Hinduism is often misconstrued as universal tolerance, which is not the case. 


  •  There have been many examples of intolerance between different schools or factions of Hinduism throughout India's history, such as the long-standing conflict between the Vaishnavas and the Shaivas. 
  •  Hinduism is best understood as a complex sociocultural process that has evolved via the dynamics of continuity and discontinuity, or the survival of ancient forms and the incorporation of new cultural and religious manifestations. 
  •  Thus, Hinduism may be considered to have begun with Vedic civilization from one perspective (possibly as early as the fi fth millennium B . C. E. ). 
  •  From another perspective, the Vedic sacred culture and Hinduism as we know it now have genuine and significant contrasts. 
  •  Nonetheless, the general consistency has been remarkable, perhaps more so than the shifts that have occurred through time. 

 Most Western and Indian academics, until recently, emphasized the discontinuity in India's cultural development. 


  •  They perceived a conflict between the Indus Valley civilisation and the Vedic "Aryan" culture, which they believed originated outside of India. 
  •  However, this long-held Aryan invasion hypothesis is currently being actively contested. 
  •  A increasing number of academics in India and the West view this historical model as a scientific fiction that was created without sufficient evidence and has had a negative impact on our knowledge of ancient India's history and culture. 
  •  The book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization documents this significant shift in scholarly thinking. 

 

All evidence suggests that the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans who wrote the Vedas were not barbaric nomads who arrived from outside India and wreaked havoc on the local people. 

 Rather, the available evidence suggests that they were genuine Indian natives. 


Furthermore, there are compelling grounds to believe that the Vedic civilization, as represented in the Rig-Veda and the other three Vedic Samhitiis, was substantially, if not entirely, similar to the so-called Indus civilization. 


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Hinduism - Indian History Timeline



    In light of a new perspective, Hindu India's recorded history may be conveniently divided into nine eras, each expressing distinct cultural styles. 



    Because history is essentially continuous, the following chronology is extremely speculative, and the periodization is arbitrary to some extent. 


    •  Although the date of the first four historical eras is speculative, the conventional chronology presented in college textbooks is as well. 
    •  The Vedas must obviously be placed in a time period prior to the benchmark date of 1 900 B C E, as will be demonstrated soon. 



    How much earlier is unknown with any certainty, though astronomical references in the Vedas, as well as dynastic genealogies (from the Puriinas) and a list of sages in the Briihmanas and Upanishads, support a date of at least two thousand years prior to 1200 B C E, which is the commonly accepted but demonstrably incorrect date for the composition of the Rig-Veda. 


    • For identical reasons, the creation of the original Briihmanas must be pushed back in time before 1 900 B C E, just as the Vedas must be ascribed to an earlier era. 
    • In light of all of this, the earliest Upanishads, which are usually believed to have been written soon before the Buddha's time, should be put considerably earlier. 





    1. Pre-Vedic Period (6500-4500 B C E).

     


    Archaeological excavation in eastern Baluchistan (Pakistan) has uncovered a metropolis the size of Stanford, California, that dates from the middle of the seventh millennium B C E Archaeologists have named this early Neolithic settlement Mehrgarh, and it anticipated later urban civilization along the two major rivers of northern India: the Indus and the now-dry Sarasvati east of it. 


    •  Mehrgarh's population was believed to be about 20,000 people, which was a large number at the time. 
    •  The town seems to have been a center of technical invention and innovation, in addition to being a thriving marketplace for imported and exported products. 
    •  By the fourth millennium B C E, the hardworking inhabitants of Mehrgarh had mass-produced good-quality pottery and were cultivating cotton as early as the fifth millennium B C E Terra-cotta figures from about 2600 B C E show a striking aesthetic similarity to the art of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization as well as later Hinduism. 

     



    2.  Vedic Period (4500-2500 B C E).

     


    The development and cultural dominance of the wisdom tradition reflected in the hymns of the four Vedas characterize this era. 


    •  The majority of the hymns were written around the fourth millennium B C E, according to astronomical allusions in the Rig-Veda, with some hymns potentially going back to the fifth millennium B C E.

    The ultimate bottom limit of the Vedic period is set by a major natural disaster: the drying up of the powerful Sarasvati River over many hundred years, presumably as a consequence of geological and climatic changes. 

     

    • Around 3100 B C E, the Yamuna River altered its path and stopped flowing into the Sarasvati, becoming a tributary of the Ganges instead. 
    •  Around 2300 B C E, the Sutlej, the Sarasvati's largest tributary, began to flow into the Ganges. 
    •  The Sarasvati, formerly the largest stream in Northern India, had dried up by 1900 B C E The many settlements along its banks were soon abandoned and eventually buried by the enormous Thar Desert's dunes. 



    Given the age of the Vedic poems and the fact that the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans were not foreign invaders, we can only come to one conclusion: the Vedic people lived in India at the same time as the so-called Indus civilization. 


    • Furthermore, the cultural world as reflected in the Vedic hymns is in no way contradicted by the archaeological remnants of that civilization. 
    •  As a result, we must conclude that the inhabitants of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, as well as the hundreds of other cities along the Indus and Sarasvati rivers, were the same as the Vedic Aryans. 
    •  Furthermore, as has been shown, Vedic mathematics impacted Babylonian mathematics, implying that the Shulba-Sutras containing Vedic mathematical theory must have existed about 1800 B C E. 
    • Because the Sutras are thought to be older than the Brahmanas, the Vedas' chronology may be pushed back to the third millennium B C E to account for these developments. 


    According to some academics, the epic battle recounted in the Mahabharata, which is traditionally dated to 3102 B C E, marks the end of the Vedic Age (which includes the Brahmanas and Upanishads). 


    • This marks the start of the Kali-yuga, the dark epoch described in subsequent Puranas, Tantras, and other texts. 
    • This date, however, is likely too early, and a date for the battle and the final redaction of the four Vedic hymnodies of about 1500 B C E is more plausible. 




    3.  The Brahmanical Age(2500-1500 B C E).



    The Vedic civilization moved east to the fertile banks of the Ganges (Ganga) River and its tributaries when the towns along the Sarasvati and Indus rivers collapsed. 


    •  The changing environmental circumstances in the new settlement regions, predictably, resulted in changes in the social structure, which became more complicated. 
    •  During this time, the priestly class evolved into a highly skilled professional elite who quickly came to dominate Vedic culture and religion. 
    •  The Brahmana literature, after which this period is called, captures the priesthood's theological-mythological speculations and ceremonial preoccupations. 
    •  The Aranyakas (ritual texts for forest-dwelling ascetics) and the vast Sutra literature dealing with legal and ethical problems as well as the arts were also created in the last decades of this period. 

     




    4. The Upanishadic/Post-Vedic Era (1500-1000 B C E).

     


    We enter a new era with its own unique philosophical and cultural character with the emergence of the first Upanishads. 


    •  They popularized the concept of internalized ritualism, or "inner sacrifice" (antaryajna), in combination with world renunciation. 
    •  We may discern the origins of India's psychospiritual technology in these anonymously written holy texts, which constitute the third level of Vedic revelation (shruti). 
    •  Yet, contrary to popular belief, the Upanishads do not constitute a dramatic departure from Vedic thinking; rather, they simply explain what is hinted at or present in a rudimentary way in the Vedas. 
    •  The end of the Post-Vedic Age is marked by the rise of non-Vedic religions such as Jainism and Buddhism. 






    5. The Epic or Pre-Classical Period (1000-100 B C E).



    India's metaphysical and ethical philosophy was in a state of flux throughout the fifth period of the current chronology. 

    •  It had progressed to the point where the different religious and philosophical systems were able to engage in a fruitful debate. 
    •  At the same time, we can see a positive trend toward unifying the many psychospiritual pathways, particularly the two major orientations of world renunciation (samnyasa) on the one hand and social duty acceptance (dharma) on the other. 


    This is where Yoga and Samkhya's pre-classical development takes place. 


    • The lessons contained in the Mahabharata epic, in which the oldest full Yoga book, the Bhagavad-Gita, is incorporated, finest exemplify the integrative, syncretistic ethos. 
    •  The enormous Mahabharata as we know it was written during this time period, but its core, which commemorates the epic battle between the Pandavas and the Kaurvas, dates from a far earlier period. 
    •  Because of the epic's importance throughout this time period, it is also known as the Epic Age. 
    •  Although the Ramayana epic is older than the Mahabharata, its historical core dates from almost thirty generations before the Mahabharata. 

     





    6. The Classical Period (100 B C E-500 C E).



    The six ancient schools of Hindu philosophy escalated their long-running battle for intellectual dominance throughout this period. 


    •  The Yoga-Surra of Patanjali and the Brahma-Surra of Badarayana were composed in the middle of this era, while the Samkhya marked the conclusion. 
    •  This is also the time when Mahayana Buddhism began to take shape, resulting in a burgeoning interaction between Buddhists and Hindus. 
    •  The fall of the Gupta dynasty, whose final major king, Skan¬dagupta, died about 455 C E, corresponds with the end of the Classical Age. 
      •  The arts and sciences thrived tremendously during the Gupta rulers; whose reign started in 320 C E 
      • Despite the fact that the monarchs were ardent Vaishnavists, they were tolerant of other faiths, allowing Buddhism to flourish and make its imprint on Indian culture. 
    •  The Chinese emperor Fa-hien was awestruck by the land and its people. 
      •  He describes affluent cities with many charity organizations, as well as rest stops for highway visitors. 

      





    7. The Tantric/Puranic Age (500-1300 C E ).



    We may see the beginnings of the great cultural revolution of Tantra, or Tantrism, about the middle of the first millennium C E, or perhaps earlier. 


    This tradition, whose remarkable psychotechnology, is the impressive result of millennia of labor to build a great philosophical and spiritual synthesis from the various divergent approaches that existed at the period. 


    •  Tantra, in particular, may be thought of as combining the highest metaphysical concepts and aspirations with common (rural) beliefs and practices. 
    •  Tantra came to be known as the gospel of the Kali Yuga (dark era). 
    •  Tantric doctrines had spread throughout the Indian subcontinent by the first millennium C E, affecting and transforming the spiritual lives of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jainas equally. 
    •  Tantra, on the one hand, was just a continuation of a millennia-old process of amalgamation and synthesis; on the other, it was really innovative. 
    •  Tantra was of the greatest importance on the level of spiritual practice, while adding nothing to India's intellectual repertory. 


     It advocated a spiritual lifestyle that was diametrically opposed to much of what had previously been deemed acceptable within the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. 


    •  Tantra, in particular, gave intellectual legitimacy to the feminine psychosomatic component (known as shakti), which had long been recognized in more local Goddess worship cults. 
    •  This period is also known as the Puranic Age, since the vast encyclopedic collections known as the Purcinas were produced during this time period based on far earlier Puranic traditions (dating back to the Vedic era). 
    •  The Purcinas are holy narratives that have been woven with a network of intellectual, mythological, and ceremonial knowledge. 
    •  Many of these books are influenced by Tantra, and many of them include useful Yoga knowledge. 

     





    8. The Age of Sectarianism (1300-1 700 C E). 




    The Tantric rediscovery of the feminine principle in philosophy and yoga practice paved the way for the bhakti movement, the next phase in India's cultural history. 


    • This religious devotionalism movement was the climax of the major sectarian groups' monotheistic ambitions, particularly the Vaishnavas and Shaivas; thus the name Sectarian Age. 
    •  The devotional movement, or bhakti-marga, completed the pan-Indian synthesis that had begun during the Pre-Classical/Epic Age by include the emotional component in the psychological/spiritual process. 

      





    9. The Modern Era ( 1700-Present). 

     


    The syncretistic bhakti movement was followed by the Mughal empire's fall in the first part of the nineteenth century and the increasing political presence of European countries in India, culminating in Queen Victoria's assumption of the title Empress of India in 1880. 

    •  The Queen was enthralled by Hindu mysticism and invited yogins and other spiritual leaders to her court. 


    Since the establishment of the East India Company in London in 1 600 and the Dutch East India Company two years later, Western secular imperialism has had an increasing effect on India's age-old religious traditions. 

    •  This has resulted in a progressive weakening of the native Scandinavian value system via the adoption of a Western-style (science-oriented and basically materialist) education coupled with new technology. 

     

    The following comment by Carl Gustav Jung comes to mind in this regard: 


    • The European conquest of the East was a massive act of aggression, and it has left us with the responsibility—noblesse oblige—of comprehending the Eastern mentality. 
    •  This is perhaps more important than we know right now. 
    •  However, India's creative brilliance has not been unaffected by these changes



    There has been a potential spiritual revival, which has, among other things, generated a missionary feeling among Hindus for the first time in history: 


    • There has been a continuous flow of Hindu knowledge, particularly Yoga and Vedanta, to the Euro-American nations since the imposing figure of Swami Vivekananda appeared at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. 
    •  We have never yet struck upon the idea that while we are conquering the Orient from outside, it may be fastening its grip on us from inside, as Jung noted with remarkable perceptiveness. 



    Much more might be written about the modern resurgence of Hindu tradition and its influence on the West. 


    •  The dates provided are variable, and the above effort at periodization is just an estimate. 
    •  Until the nineteenth century, India's chronology is famously speculative. 


    Hindu historiographers have a habit of mixing historical truth with mythology, symbolism, and ideology without regard for the accuracy of dates. 


    • Hindu consciousness and culture have long been praised for their "timelessness" by Western academics. 
    •  This belief, however, has proved to be a major blind spot, since it has prevented thorough examination of the historical material found in the Hindu texts, particularly the 6 Puranas. 


    A helpful difference may be established between the fundamental orientations of asceticism (tapas), renunciation (samnyasa), and mysticism (yoga) in the widest sense of the word, in addition to the split into religio-spiritual traditions and historical eras.  These are common to all of India's religious and philosophical traditions. 

     

    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.




    Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Is The Arthashastra?

     


    Arthashastra (or "Treatise on Power") is a Hindu treatise about power. 


    Kautilya, the Machiavellian prime minister who is believed to have engineered the rise to power of Chandragupta Maurya (r. 321–297 B.C.E. ), the founder of the Maurya dynasty, wrote a text on power and politics. 


    • The Arthashastra was created as a handbook for the monarch to use in order to better manage the people in his realm as well as the people in the neighboring kingdoms. 
    • The basic premise of the Arthashastra was that the monarch desired to stay in power and should do whatever it needed to keep it. 


    Within the kingdom, Kautilya pushed for a harsh and authoritarian administration, supported by a vast network of spies tasked with gathering information and gauging public opinion. 


    • Men masquerading as traveling ascetics were among the spies, allowing them to roam about freely. 
    • The book also recommended the monarch to appoint special spies to watch his closest advisors' ambitions, with these spies reporting exclusively to the king. 
    • The Arthashastra believed that each monarch sought to expand his realm at the cost of his neighbors when it came to neighboring nations. 
    • Weaker neighbors were to be invaded and absorbed, while stronger neighbors were to be pacified or delayed in the hopes of countering these stronger nations by forging new alliances. 


    Although the Arthashastra was never a governing Indian dynasty's "Bible," it described political theory and procedures that existed in ancient and medieval India, and may even be detected in modern parliamentary politics.



    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.