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Hinduism

Ten minute clip of the class

Note: Below I added lots of links to Wikipedia so that you can better understand these foreign words and concepts.

 

I played the music from this video in the background while students entered.  It is ancient chanting: vedic chanting video

 

The Hinduism & Sexuality lecture began with this image.  What do you see it in?  What is happening?  These are photographs.  What are they photographs of?

Well, it is actually the outside walls of Hindu temples in Khajuraho India.   This type of sculpted stone work is common throughout India on the outer walls of the temples.

Can you imagine going to church on Sunday and seeing this imagery?  Would it exist?  Can you imagine parents walking their children past these images on their way to the church door?

This starts us off with understanding we have a very different spiritual tradition here in Hinduism as opposed to Christianity.

 

Then we watched two videos.  The first one  Bollywood we watched from 3:20 and then after a little while skipped ahead to the 5min marker.  What do you see in this video?  Do you see love, sexuality, romance, intimacy?  What do you think of it?

Then we watched a video showing a very different side of India.  It is a TV show that is discussing the topic of love marriages.  As you know most marriages in India are arranged.  We watched from 16-28min marker, but you can watch as much of this video as you like- I think it is worth watching from the beginning. Video 

How to reconcile these very different sides of modern India- the Bollywood movie flaunting love & romance and the cruelty that the tv show discusses?  How did this culture of sexual openness- if that is what the temples reflect- turn into a modern culture of such irreconcilable dichotomies?

We spent the rest of the class tracing Hinduism back to its roots, and attempted to make sense of how it developed over the years.

 

Historical part- India arouse out of three civilizations: Aryans (from Persia), Indus Valley (North India), and Dravidian (South Indian).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We covered that India is Polytheism  and not monotheism.

 

And, we discussed how since long before written history they were already into fire ceremonies (and they still are).

 

 

 

 

 

Then talk turned to the first writings of the holy scripture in India, called the Vedas.  This was from circa 1200 BCE.

This was followed by the Upanishads which was the commentary on these.   Note that not any priest is qualified to comment on scripture in India.  Only the Englightened ones can.  What this means is that they have transcended identification with their self-identification and know themselves to be God itself.  One such example of a person that they’d considered Enlightened is Jesus.   So, if Jesus was Hindu, he would be qualified to provide commentary on scripture.  The average religious person is clearly not.

 

I then invited you to look at a couple of photos of Hindu practitioners.  We’ll try to make sense of this afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One guy is standing on his head.

The other guy is standing.  He is always standing- day and night.  He sleeps while standing, thus the support.

And, the third guy is doing some yoga-looking posture in a tree.  Maybe it should be called Monkey Pose.

These men are all called Sadhus.  The name literally means “good man.”  What it refers to is a man who is engaged in a yogic spiritual practice of renunciation.  They are trying to break their attachement to their bodies.

 

Here are some more of these guys:

 

 

 

The Sadhu on the left is smoking marijuana, which is following in the footsteps of one of the main God’s of Hinduism: Shiva.   By smoking it is believed to be easier to disconnect from the body and tap into the realms of the Divine.

The Sadhu on the right has his genital organ wrapped around a pole- or is the pole wrapped around his genital?  Either way, he is also doing a practice to break identification with the physical form.  He wants to dis-identify with the body.  This is his path to God.

One last image for you of Sadhus.  This time they are at a festival that attracts Sadhus together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to see more Sadhu images?  Search Google images or click here.

 

All Sadhus are yogis.  But not all yogis are Sadhus.  On the left you will see a yogi.  On the right you will see a Sadhu-yogi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s try to make sense of this all.

Before the Vedas, before their first holy scripture (and they do have lots of them now), there was a growing movement to ritualized worship.  Lots of fertility ceremonies done with fire.  Women were empowered back then- education, respected, and they could do religious rites.

Then came the Vedas and the shift to a fully agrarian economy.  In the process two views emerged:

Advaita, or nonduality.

And, Dvaita, or duality.

Both paths believed in Brahman or Atman, which we translate to be God (the distinction between the two is not important now).  However, the Advaita advaita non-dualist believe that God was everywhere and thus in us.  Not just in us, but the same as us.  Thus, they believe that man is God.  And, when he releases that he experiences the state of Sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss.  This brings them to moksha, or freedom from the attachment of our material existence.

The above Sadhus and yogis are all with the Dvaita dual worldview.  They believe that Atman (God) is “out there.”  Thus, how to tune into “out there” if we are so habitually attached to life “in here” in the body?  Their answer is to break our attachment to the body.  That is what you see above through the yoga, the pot smoking, and the whole genital torture.  They see that our normal world is maya or illusion.  There entire spiritual effort is to break the illusion- the trick of the mind that believes that this human world is real.  The only thing that is real is the domain of the Divine.

 

One thing that both views have in common is the understanding that life has masculine and feminine energies.  These energies are in us individually, they are in their Gods, and in all of their stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above image is of Radha and Krishna.  I told a story about them.  Krishna is the masculine- the blue stud with the flute surrounded by all of the gopis, the car-herding girls.  Radha is  his favorite lover.  In one night he made love to a thousand women at once.  But, as we discussed in class this is not “sex” as our American minds conjure the word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also discussed Shiva (the masculine energy and the God above) and Shakti (the feminine energy and the Goddess above).  Neither are complete without the other.  There is no Shiva without Shakti, and vice versa.  This is considered to be an inner truth and an outer truth.  We all have both masculine and feminine energies.

 

Next was the conversation on the Lingam and Yoni.  Lingam is a penis-like symbol in temples across India that symbolizes the masculine energy of Shiva.  Yonis are also in the temples and depict  feminine energy as symbolized by a vagina.   (Follow the linked words to wikipedia articles on them

Here are some images of Shiva as 1/2 masculine and 1/2 feminine.  Sometimes he is depicted like this to remind us how the two are inseparable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then described the devidasis, who were girls married to a God, who would dance for them and worship them in a very sensual way.  They were also often sexually involved with the men associated with the temples.

This image is a modern dancer in a pose that was once typical of the devadasis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then discussed Karma, Samsara, Enlightenment, and Samadhi.

So, we started with Dvaita- the dual tradition with the Sadhus and yoga.

Then we turned to the description of the masculine and feminine energies inside and in the Gods.

Now we turn to Advaita- the nondual.

We discussed the path of tantra.  We discussed how these nondualists used their bodies as a vehicle to see the God within.  Sex, amongst other things was a path to God-consciousness or Enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then discussed chakras, kundalini, and then the very interesting Left-hand Tantra.  These people would intentionally break every social norm to free themselves of their habitual thinking and action.  They’d bring alcohol and meat and sex into their sacred spaces (temples), all of which was very taboo.  They’d watch the bodies of the dead burn on the funeral pyres and then would roll around in the ashes.  And, something that I forgot to mention in class, they’d find it most valuable to have intercourse with virgin girls who were just getting their first menses.  They believe that some nectar of immortality or amrita can be gathered from the girls most strongly in this moment.

 

Then there was the Muslim Invasion which led to lots of repressions that I discussed in class that include the covering of the women, the halting of sexual openness, and the destruction of many temples and statues that were too sexual for the Muslims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Followed by the British invasion which brought some civil freedoms along with lots of puritanical attitudes towards sexuality.

 

Within this increasing conservatism of the Islamic and Christian invasions came a need to express their Hindu devotion.  Bhakti, or love-devotion, was one of the few dual traditions that survived.  Here is one bhakti mystic who is in love with Lord Krishna and as she loves him and makes love to him he pours blessings on her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, to pull it all together I explained how the advaita path has remained untouched.

And, the dvaita path- the dual path- which had the ascetism of the yogi/Sadhus and the love-devotion of the Bhaktis became split.

Returning to the beginning of the class, when you see the temple walls that is advaita-tantra, and it is still alive, yet not mainstream.

The Bollywoood videos you see are the bhakti path of dvaita, and it is still very strong in the hearts of modern Indians.

And, the ascetic path mixed with the judgments and morals of the Muslim and British invaders is likely what has led to the cruelty that we heard happens to some who choose love marriages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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