Ta and What Role Does it Play Term Paper

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¶ … ta and what role does it play in Vedic society?

According to Zaehner, the term "?ta" signifies "right order" and "truth" in the Vedas. In the later writings, "?ta" will be called "dharma." The word captures an essential aspect of Hinduism: the idea of the existence of a cosmic, general order on which the human order depends. The Vedas emphasize the correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm or between the world of men and the absolute world of the gods. The concept is crucial for the understanding of the roots of the four Indian casts or social classes, namely the priests or ?shis, the warriors or Kshatriyas, the peasants or Vai-yas and the servants or?

udras '. As Zaehner notes, this fourfold structure of the human society is reflected in a similar classification of the gods, highlighting thus the importance of the idea of an universal order that structures the world. The god Varuna is preserver of ?ta, as cosmic law or truth. Thus, essentially, ?ta is at once the supreme law that governs the universe, the law that operates in sacrifices and rituals, and the moral law that governs the world of men.

2. Explain the significance of the Purushas-kta hymn in the Rig-Veda.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Ta and What Role Does it Play Assignment

Purushas-kta is the hymn that describes a very important myth of creation in the Rig-Veda: the creation of the world through the self-sacrifice of a primordial being- Purusha, the giant man. According to this myth, the world is not created by a god through the ordering of previously existent matter, but by the self-immolation of Purusha, who divides his own self, forming everything that exists. In this myth, as Zaehner observes, god and matter are one and the same thing. The importance of the myth lies again in the correspondence between the parts and the whole, between the individual man and the plenitude of the universe. The myth directly links the human microcosm with the macrocosm. Another very important element is the idea of the primordial sacrifice, which is the basis of Hindu sacred rituals. Zaehner shows that the sacrifices performed in ritual symbolize the "repetition of the creative act"(43). Differing from other religions that also involved sacrifice as a propitiatory act, Hinduism attributes cosmic importance to the sacrifice, which points to the correspondence between the one, the individual and the many. The human order also springs from this sacrifice, as the four classes of men are shown to originate in different members or body parts of the primordial, giant man, thus: the Br-hmans came from his mouth, the Kshatriyas or warriors from his arms, the Vai-yas or husbandmen from his thighs, and the ?dras or serfs from his feet. The rest of the world, with its physical coordinates is also formed from different parts of Purusha.

Why does the Taittir-ya Upanishad describe Brahman as food?

Brahman is a central concept in Hindu thought: it is matter and spirit at the same time, the absolute and the manifest. As such, Zaehner shows that Brahman is conceived of as breath and food at once, the breath being the life or the spirit that animates everything and the food the living matter. Breath is thus dependent on food, on the matter that sustains it. The beings in the world are not only the eaters of food but also the food eaten by others. This emphasizes again the relationship between the parts and the whole: to be eaten by others is to be integrated in the whole, to be one with the plenitude of the world: "O rapture, O rapture, O rapture! / I am food, I am food, I am food! / I am an eater of food, I am an eater of food, I am an eater of food!" (52) This conception of the world, advocating the union and communion with the whole, is essentially different from that classical Yoga, in which the supreme truth is to be attained through detachment of the self from the whole.

4. Define the doctrine of rebirth or transmigration. How is it associated with the doctrine of Karma?

The doctrine of transmigration constitutes one of the most striking differences between the Semitic religions and Hinduism. Hinduism thus holds that, after death, soul is carried away by Agni, the god of fire, who burns the material cover, leaving the spirit free to be reincarnated in another being, which can be a man, an animal or a plant. There are three categories of souls: the soul that can perceive ?tman, the soul that performs its duties of sacrifice and asceticism and the soul that is ignorant of both. The first is liberated from rebirth, the second returns to this world in human form, while the third is condemned to the life of an insect or reptile. Thus, it is obvious that there is a very strong relationship between the concept of transmigration and that of 'karma' or act, as men are reincarnated according to their acts in the previous life. Every sacred act produces its appropriate result or 'fruit'. Thus, the basic idea is that there are certain appropriate acts for every category of people, for example, the act appropriate to a Br-hman is sacrifice and the study of the Veda, but the act appropriate to a Kshatriya is the waging of war, that of a Vai-ya is to till the soil, while that of a?

dra is the service of the other castes. As Zaehner shows, the doctrine of karma is inextricably connected with that of transmigration because it is held to explain the inequalities of birth as well as the suffering of the innocent.

5. How is the concept of Samsara related to the Hindu notion of time?

Samsara is held to define life itself, as an endless cycle of rebirths and suffering, therefore as something evil from which liberation or moksha is sought. Zaehner explains the meaning of this concept and its relation to the Hindu notion of time by citing a parable, according to which a man who hovers over a great pit (that symbolizes the endless chain of sufferings and rebirths) tries to cling to a tree, but then observes that its roots are being nibbled away by white and black mice, which symbolize the days and nights of the all-consuming time. Man is thus caught in the endless cycle or rebirths, in which nothing is permanent except change and decay. Therefore, life with its three goals k-ma, artha, and dharma-'desire or pleasure, the acquisition of wealth- has to be transcended through moksha.

6. Using the example of Yudhishthira in the Great Epic, describe the apparent tension between dharma and moksha.

Dharma, as the concept defining righteousness in the real world is in obvious contradiction with moksha, which represents a transcending of life itself, and therefore of dharma as well. In Mahabharata, Yudhishthira is the dharma-r-ja or, 'King of Righteousness', and thus the very embodiment of dharma. Nevertheless, he is constantly forced by Krishna to do actions that are contrary to his dharma, among these being the extremely bloody battle described in the poem, which is meant to give him back the throne of his kingdom. In spite of his righteousness and superiority, Yudhishthira cannot attain moksha yet precisely because he is still concerned with the opposition between good and evil and with dharma, or the right conduct, while moksha lies beyond these things. Thus, the king is not ready to transcend his own karma, and therefore he cannot relinquish his dharma yet either, but must wait to be "ripe" for that. Even the righteous persons have to go a long way before the final liberation from samsara and the attainment of moksha.

7. Why is Samkhya considered dualistic? Discuss in detail the Samkhya system.

The Samkhya, literally meaning 'enumeration', divides existence into twenty-five categories, of which twenty-four are evolutes of prak-ti or Nature, all of them thus subject to change, and the twenty-fifth is purusha, the 'person' who is indestructible and not subject to change. The system is therefore considered dualistic because it perceives the world as both natural and absolute at the same time. The Samkhya is a monadic system, from which the doctrine of the Yoga sprang later. As opposed to the Upanishads that emphasized the union of the self with the whole, the Samkhya proposes the contrary: moksha can only be attained through total isolation of the self from the rest of the world, to the point that it can become an independent entity that imitates the absolute unity of the divinity. Thus, for the S-mkhya, purusha, the spiritual essence, and prak-ti are entirely distinct. Furthermore, nature is a feminine element, while purusha is here the masculine spirit. As Zaehner points out, the twenty-four categories of Nature are, besides Nature herself, mahat, the 'great', also called buddhi, 'consciousness' or 'intellect'; akhamk-ra, the 'ego-principle'; manas or 'mind'; the five sensory organs (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), the five 'motor' organs (speech, handling, walking, evacuation, and reproduction), the five 'subtle' elements… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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