Syntheses of World Maintaining and World-Renouncing Traditions

 

 

1.    The Great Confluence:

a.    Early Vedic values, beliefs, and practices = beginning of World-maintaining traditions, Brahmanical orientation

                                              i.     The world and our lives in it are to be maintained, perfected, celebrated

                                             ii.     Emphasis on rituals and the Brahman priests who perform them

                                           iii.     Primary focus on human relations with the gods (very early Veda) and the power of the sacrificial ritual, especially yajna (later in early Veda)

b.    Late Vedic values, beliefs, and practices = World-renouncing orientation

                                              i.     The world and our lives in it are characterized by suffering and we must seek liberation

1.    Understood in terms of samsara (re-death and our bondage to it) and karma.  These ideas not clearly in use until around 800 BCE.

2.    Emphasis on renunciatory practices of sanyasa (including ascetic lifestyle, yoga, and meditation) and the gurus and renouncers (sanyasis) who teach and exemplify the path of liberation (moksha, a new aim).

3.    Primary focus on achieving moksha and the realization of one’s divine identity (Atman = Brahman).

2.    Purusharthas:

a.    Dharma (virtue), Kama (pleasure), Artha (wealth, success, power) / Moksha (ultimate liberation)

3.    Ashramadharma:

b.    Brahmacaryastudenthood.  Study of Vedas.  Lasting about 12 years after initiation (upanayana).  Education in home of preceptor, ritual skills, in exchange for service to teacher.  Terminates with marriage.

c.    Grhastya – householder.  Devoted to enjoyment of life, duties of care for family, acquisition of artha.
When one’s children are adults, temples graying.

d.    Vanaprasthya – life in the forest. Hand over worldly affairs to sons.  With wife.  Devote oneself to moksha.

e.    Sanyasa – world renunciation.  Life of homeless ascetic, possesses nothing, desires nothing but liberation