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India- Indentification

10/24/04

India- Indentification

  1. Arjuna/Krishna: Arjuna- warrior prince in the Bhagavadgita to whom Krishna explains the nature of being, the nature of God, and the way humans can come to know God; Krishna- Chariot driver who advises Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita and was the incarnation of the Indian deity Vishnu.
  2. Ganges/Indus River: Ganges- Indias holy river and sacred to Hindus; Indus River- River to the west that flows into the Arabian Sea
  3. Harappans: Civilization covering over 600,000 square miles, from Himalayas to the coast of the Indian Ocean. They have similar language and physical characteristics to that of the Dravidian peoples and are a fascinating enigma.
  4. Mohenjo-Daro: City 400 miles to the south near the mouth of the Indus River and means city of the dead. It was a walled neighborhood with advanced drainage systems and narrow lanes separating the rows of houses.
  5. Harappan Seals: Fired clay seals that showed a deft touch in carving animals such as elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, and antelope. Pictographic symbols inscribed on the seals are the only examples of Harappan writing. They were probably used to identify the owners of goods for sale and also as amulets or other religious significance.
  6. Deccan Plateau: Region of hills and an upland plateau that extends from the Ganges valley to the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
  7. Dravidians: Descendants from the Indus River culture that flourished at the dawn of Indian civilization, over 4,000 years ago.
  8. Aryans: Nomads who entered India from beyond the mountains north of the Khyber Pass between 1500 and 1000 B.C.E. and descendants from the pastoral people who flooded southward from Central Asia in the second millennium B.C.E. They were Indo-European-speaking.
  9. Raja/Maharaja: Raja- prince or chieftain who was assisted by a council of elders composed of other leading members of the tribe. He was normally a member of the warrior class and was a representative of the gods who protected his tribe from rival groups. Maharaja: Great prince or king who was transformed from a raja.
  10. Rigveda: An ancient work that was written down after the Aryans arrived in India. It is one of several Vedas, or collections of sacred instructions and rituals.
  11. Alexander the Great: Macedonian leader who launched an invasion of the east and created a vast empire that extended throughout Asia and Africa.
  12. Chandragupta Maurya: Founder of the new state that drove out the Greeks and solidified his control over the northern Indian plain. He made the capital at Pataliputra in the Ganges valley.
  13. Arthasastra: A passage that sets forth some of the characteristics of a king including efficiency, diligence, energy, compassion, and concern for the security and welfare of the state. Its a treatise on politics.
  14. Varna/Caste: Varna- Indians classes, literally color; Caste- social classifications consisting of the priests and warriors at the top, the commoners in the middle, and finally the peasants or artisans and the untouchables at the bottom.
  15. Jati: A system of extended families that originated in ancient India and still exist today that were identified with a specific caste living in a specific area and carrying out a specific function in society. Each caste is divided into thousands of separate jatis, each with a different economic function.
  16. Brahmins: Priestly caste that was usually considered to be at the top of the social scale and meant one possessed of Brahman, a supreme god in Hinduism. They were descended from seers that advised the ruler on religious matters in Aryan society.
  17. Kshatriya: Second caste of the warriors who were probably descended from the ruling warrior class in Aryan society before the conquest of India.
  18. Vaisya: Third ranked caste in Indian society that means commoner. Also known as the merchant caste, they were originally guardians of the tribal herds and shared the privilege of being twice-born and wearing the sacred thread.
  19. Sudras: Represented the great bulk of the Indian population that were peasants or artisans or people that worked at other forms of manual labor.
  20. Law of Manu: Set of behavioral norms and social organization prescribed by Indias mythical founding ruler, Manu.
  21. Untouchables/pariahs: Lowest level of Indian society who were outcastes and originated as a slave class consisting of prisoners of war, criminals, ethnic minorities, and other groups. They were given the worst jobs and were not considered human, more of a pollution than a person. No Indian would touch or eat food handled or prepared by an untouchable and they lived in special ghettos. They even had to tap two sticks together to announce their presence when outside their quarters.
  22. The Monsoon: A seasonal wind pattern in southern Asia that blows from the southwest during the summer months and from the northeast during the winter. The southwest monsoon brought heavy rains.
  23. Asceticism: Self-mortification; Initial motive was to achieve magical power, but then it was seen as a way of spiritual meditation. Asceticism then evolved into yoga, the modern practice of body training.
  24. Sati: Ritual that symbolizes womens subjection to men that required the wife to throw herself on her dead husbands’ funeral pyre.
  25. Hinduism: The religion that emerged from early Indian religious tradition and is the religion of 70% of Indian people.
  26. Vedas: Sacred text that is a set of four collections of hymns and religious ceremonies transmitted by memory through the centuries by Aryan priests.
  27. Upanishads: A set of commentaries on the Vedas compiled in the 6th century B.C.E. Philosophical treatises contributing to the theology of ancient Hinduism.
  28. Kamasutra: A Sanskrit treatise setting forth rules for sensuous and sensual pleasure, love, and marriage in accordance with Hindu law.
  29. Dyaus/Indra: Dyaus- parent god that was similar to the Greek father-god Zeus; Indra- primary Aryan god that was a great warrior and summoned the Aryan tribal peoples to war. Indra was represented in nature by thunder.
  30. Vishnu/Siva: Vishnu- Varuna, lord of justice and also the preserver; Siva- the destroyer who was originally the Vedic god Rudra.
  31. Brahman: A single monistic force in the universe, he was described as a creator god eventually known as Vishnu. Brahmanism is the early form of Hinduism.
  32. Karma: Ones actions in the current life that determines ones next life. A persons destiny or fate that has an effect from the previous life.
  33. Dharma: A set of laws that set behavioral standards for all individuals and classes in Indian society. The principle or law that orders the universe.
  34. Reincarnation: The individual soul is reborn in a different form after death and progresses through several existences on the wheel of life until it reaches the Great World Soul.
  35. Buddhism: Religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama and the teachings of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment is obtained through right conduct.
  36. Siddhartha Gautama: Historical founder of Buddhism who was a native of Nepal and was the son of a ruling Kshatriya family. At age 29, he noticed the pain of illness, the sorrow of death, and the degradation caused by old age and dedicated his life to find the cure for human suffering.
  37. Sermon @ Deer Park @ Sarnath/Benares: Siddhartha transmitted a message that Nirvana could be achieved by being released from the wheel of life. The sermon had four noble truths.
  38. Nirvana: Metaphysical or supernatural reality that involves an extinction of selfhood and a final reunion with the Great World Soul.
  39. Bodhi: Wisdom; enlightenment or awakening
  40. Atman: The individual soul or essence
  41. Four Noble Truths: Life is suffering; suffering is caused by desire; the way to end suffering is to end desire; and the way to end desire is to avoid the extremes of a life of vulgar materialism and a life of self-torture and to follow the Middle Path.
  42. Middle Path/8 Fold Way: Calls for right knowledge, right purpose, right speech, right conduct, right occupation, right effort, right awareness, and right meditation.
  43. Mahavira/Jainism: Mahavira- A contemporary of Siddhartha Gautama. Jainism- Resembled Buddhism in its rejection of the reality of the material world, but preached a doctrine of extreme simplicity.
  44. Mauryan Empire: Empire of Chandragupta Maurya that established the capital at Pataliputra (modern Patna) in the Ganges valley. The government was highly centralized and despotic (characterized by a ruler with absolute power). The empire was divided into provinces that were ruled by governors.
  45. Asokan Pillars: Pillars that had official edicts and Buddhist inscriptions to instruct people in the proper way of life.
  46. Sanskrit/Prakrit: Sanskrit- The language of the Vedas and one of the Indo-European families of languages. It was the language of the bureaucracy and literary expression, serving as a common language of communication between various regions. Prakrit- Replaced Sanskrit in northern India and was a simpler tongue.
  47. Panini: Scholar who wrote a famous grammar with four thousand grammatical rules prescribing the correct usage of the spoken and written language.
  48. Mahabharata/Ramayana: Mahbharata- A vast epic of early Indian society that consists of more than 90,000 stanzas describing a war between cousins for control of the kingdom about 1000 B.C.E. It is about moral confrontations and an elucidation of the ethical precepts of the dharma. Ramayana- Much shorter than the Mahbharata, it is an account of a semi-legendary ruler named Rama who, as the result of a palace intrigue, is banished from the kingdom and forced to live as a hermit in the forest. It is a story of the triumph of good over evil, duty over self-indulgence, and generosity over selfishness.
  49. Stupas/Rock chambers: Stupa- Stone towers housing relics of the Buddha that were constructed in the form of a burial mound. It was surmounted with a spire and according to legend, Asoka ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas. Rock Chamber- Carved out of a cliff on the side of a mountain, Asoka began the construction of these chambers to provide rooms to house monks or wandering ascetics and to serve as halls for religious ceremonies.
  50. Rule of the Fishes: Glorified warfare as the natural activity of the king and the aristocracy.

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