Hindus consider it as the basis of their religion, their ethics and their social conventions. Even movements that challenged the paramountcy of the Veda, such as the Buddhists and Jainas, recognized the importance of the Vedic tradition in their very efforts to distance themselves from it. The actual knowledge of the Vedic texts over the last or years has been surprisingly limited, as L. Renou has demonstrated in his Le destin du Veda dans I 'Inde,1 and the claim that rules on righteousness in the dharma-sastra-s are based on the Veda, is difficult to substantiate in any detailed fashion, though continuing tendencies are obvious.
It is more important that the Veda was seen as the "primeval event," "the beginning and opening par excellence,"2 and through its language the foundation of language itself and—since language is closely identified with reality—of all distinctions and rituals in the world. The Veda validates Hindu dharma by its remote sanctity. Veda words are anarthaka: meant to be employed and enacted, not to be understood.
Sankara, the influential Vedanta teacher, rejected4 even the teachings of Samkhya, Yoga, etc. Renou, Etudes vediques et Panineennes vol. Halbfass, Tradition and Reflection, p. Not all Indian thinkers were as rigid in their adherence to the Veda as Sarikara; theistic thinkers Yamuna, Madhusudana Sarasvati, etc. But Sahkara berates the Buddhists, e. This restraint resulted eventually in a stifling of creativity, and the great Iranian scholar Al-BirunI eleventh century A. Brian K. II II Halbfass, ibid, p.
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Sachau, Alberuni's India, London , vol. Smith, Classifying the Universe, New York , p. Since he can not adduce any Vedic testimony to this identification, it is an illegitimate extension of Vedic data, at best B. Smith's private Vedic world. The authority of the Veda is crucial not only for doctrinal or philosophical questions but also for personal ethics, something as personal as one's conscience. Even its negative counterpart, "the outcry of the heart" hrdaya-krosana , i.
The despised foreigner mlecchd who lacks the instruction of the traditional teaching sdstra is not disturbed,17 because he, according to the commentator Parthasarathi on this stanza, has no "outcry of the heart. In the dominant opinion, only man—and only in India —can improve his karman and progress towards liberation, though Buddhists, Jains, and some Puranas and Mahatmyas concede this privilege also to animals. There were general statements in some Vedic texts that call Man "a two-footed 13 I. Svarm Dvarikadasa Sastii, Varanasi , p.
They are often credited with speech, noble thoughts and altruistic deeds, and animals and plants are often viewed with affection as in Sakuntala's departure from the dsrama in Kalidasa's drama. Subsequent developments in society and religion worked against a more universalistic approach: when liberation moksd could be attained only in India, when the distinction between brahmins, ksattriyas, vaisyas, and sudras was attributed by Kumarila25 to belonging to different species —each marked by a specific universal jati, sdmdnya , just as lions, elephants, etc, are different from each other and from man—, and when the body was presented as but a temporary vehicle of the self of a man, it did not make much sense to search for characteristics of common humanity or the unity of body and soul.
Sheldon Pollock27 thinks so, but his assumption may only be valid for a later period: his references for this attitude come from the epics and later texts, whereas his reference to TB II 6. SB VI 2,1,18 prathamah pasunam. Gonda, Studium Generate 20 , pp. Svami Dvarikadasa Sastri, Varanasi , p. Others believed in a common humanity: Samkhya-karika 53 manusas caikavidhah "The human race is of one kind" and the Prabhakara school of the MImamsa: Salikanathamisra's Prakaranapancika, ed. Subrahmanya Sastri, Benares ,p.
Halbfass, NA WG no. Waldschmidt , Berlin , pp.
Pottock, JAOS , pp. Claiming God as the source of everything "through the Veda" is not quite the same as the later attempts to trace secular works back to a Vedic root.
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All sciences are rooted in the Veda and its ancillaries according to Vakyapadlya , with the Veda both the source and the instructor. The medieval logician Jayanta claimed in his Nyayamanjari p. The Tamil grammar Tolkappiyam III differentiates between mutal-nul "original work seen by sages free from karman" and valj-nul "secondary works," i. There are thus no new discoveries, only perhaps new divine releases of the "perfect knowledge" which always already existed.
Even erotic practice, a secular matter if there ever was one, must be based on kama-sastra, not on observation and deduction by individuals; this is the claim of Kamasutra 13, and Yasodhara's commentary on Kamasutra I 1,1. But according to Vatsyayana, [the women] learn the application, or practice, and practice is dependent on sastra.
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This is not only so in this particular sastra. For all over the world there are only a handful of people who know the sastra, while the practice is within the grasp of many people. The cause of practice is sastra, however far removed it may be. As it is said: 'A man who does not know a given sastra may occasionally achieve his end, but do not think too much of it - it is like a letter etched into wood by a termite. But for the MImamsaka who wants to restrict such claims of transcendent legitimacy, "the authority of the kamasastra rests exclusively on empirical grounds" kdma-sastrasya drsta-pramana-mulatvena pramanya-siddhih '.
Pollock, Shastric Traditions in Indian Arts, ed. In the spirit of essentialism, it follows that one considers "mind as receptor and reflector of the antecedently given world" and postulates that "Through Progress in the Indian tradition usually follows the way described by Walter Ong,34 i.
They are seldom if ever explicitly touted for their novelty but are presented as fitting the traditions of the ancestors. The branches of Buddhism, too, developed in gradual steps, always claiming to give the true meaning of the teaching of the Buddha. The extreme asceticism, once contrasted with the civic dharma-s of ordinary and productive men, then an eccentric option for the graduate as against founding a household of his own was soon incorporated as a fourth stage dsramd and eventually regulated in newly created manuals.
It is not an act like casting off a worn-out garment, for instance, to be done according p. Halbfass, Tradition, p. Brameld, Philosophies of Education, New York, 2nd print. Jack Goody.
The Domestication of the Savage Mind, Cambridge , p. Even in classical and mediaeval India, though, this was not the only view among scholars, some of whom believe that the sastra does not try to regulate behavior but merely to explain the principles underlying it. No sastra, in their mind, is required for "visible" things: we eat when we are hungry. Kumarila 37 and Rajasekhara38 hold that secular sciences are man-made; the founder of a sutra-tradition did not claim to be am', as such men are found but rarely or not at all in our time. Thus Caraka declares: "The cognition of specific diseases is threefold: instruction by the competent, perception, and inference But in this threefold sum of knowledge first comes the knowledge from the instruction of the competent, then the examination by perception and inference is fitting; for what would one know by examining through perception and inference what has not been taught before?
Olivelle, Wien , p. ApDhS I 2,5,4f. But some in their new birth, on account of a residue of the merit acquired by their actions, become rsi-s of [traditional] knowledge," i. One astronomical text, the Jyotirmlmamsa of Nilakantha,44 downplays the role of revelation: regarding the tradition that "Brahman taught Aryabhatta astronomy" he argues that "Brahman or the Sun would not personally come and teach" - divine grace instead granted the author clarity of thought. Old astronomical doctrines must be checked against contemporary observations and, "in case of discrepancies, investigations must be conducted with instruments and revolution-numbers of the planets calculated therefrom.
A new system has thus to be expounded.
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Nobody will be ridiculed for this in this world nor punished in the next. I shows that the inquisitive spirit was still alive in India in an age dominated by rigid traditionalists. Aristotle and the Western tradition in general start out with observation and a study of practice, culminating in theory, whereas in India the balance is heavily tilted toward theory. The modern neo-positivist philosopher Karl Popper assumes that our dispositions and in fact senses are "theory-impregnated.
Susruta-samhita ed. Jadavjl Trikamji, 3rd ed. Varanasi Sharma, Hoshiarpur , p. The editor p. Pollock, JAOS , p. Popper, Objective Knowledge, rev. One should consider novelty only in rephrasing the older truths of the ancients in modern terminology. The architects that designed and built the great temples did not leave their names behind, the authors of the great law codes hid behind venerable names of a mythic past: Manu, Yajnavalkya, Vasistha, etc.
These creative men saw themselves as representatives of a community and a culture, and their conforming to the prevalent standards, and their faithfulness to their social and religious identity dharma , was more appreciated than any bold individual moves could have been. Daniel H. Matilal, Nyayavaisesika, Wiesbaden , p.
In the older Vedic texts it was the attainment of heaven, and the luster of brahman brahma-varcasd 1; later the release or liberation moksa from bondage bandha became more prominent,2 using a terminology probably derived from the penal system or the capture of prisoners. A different image lies behind RV VII 59,12 urvdrukam iva bandhandn mrtyor muksiya "May I be released from the bond of death like a cucumber from the bond i.
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Even if buried in the subconscious, "moksa persists as the main element in the 'ideology of the superego,' providing an unconscious ethical direction to the course of life. Bhagavadgita IX 28b moksyase karma-bandhanaih "Thus you shall be freed from the bonds of your deeds" and XVIII 30c bandham moksam ca ya vetti "[The cognition] which knows the bond and the release Gonda, [S. Chatterji Comm. For the followers of Ramanuja, the Saiva-siddhanta and other devotional sects the goal is unity with or closeness to a personal god or eternal and blissful life in his paradise. They want to be with God, see God, serve God forever.
Only occasionally we read that education gives pleasure. We shall return to these goals later.
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