Bhakti

1.      The Post Classical (or Medieval) Period (600 C.E. – 1800 C.E.): Three Major Developments

a.       (1) Systematization of Hindu philosophy into six schools (darsanas)

                                                   i.      Advaita philosophy

1.      Sankara (788-820): philosophical defense of absolute unity.  Saiva Siddhanta

2.      Brahman is without qualities (nirguna)

3.      Maya - from false notions of what is real

b.      (2) Rise of Tantrism (dissent against convention)

                                                   i.      Techniques that lead directly to liberation, bypassing tradition

                                                 ii.      Mantras, mandalas, yogic techniques, guru

                                                iii.      Right-handed and left-handed

1.      RH: For all adepts, use of mantras, mandalas, rituals

2.      LH: Partaking of forbidden things, transcend artificial distinctions (caste, purity-impurity, dharma-adharma). Polluting things, meat, illicit sexual intercourse.

a.       Everything pervaded by Brahman, sanctity of all things, underlying unity -- no high/low, no pure/impure

2.      (3) Rise of devotional movements

                                                   i.      Nayanmars (Saiva) and Alvars (Vaisnava) – new forms of piety

                                                 ii.      Rise of temples as religious centers

                                                iii.      Puranas (“stories of old”): 18 major

3.      Alvars: 6th - 9th centuries.  Wandered from temple to temple, est. pilgrimage sites.

a.       Before extensive influence of Sanskrit and Brahmanical culture

b.      Tamil culture assimilated the above

                                                   i.      Poetry and songs: love and war, devotion to Murukan

                                                 ii.      Tradition of emotional expression - basis of Tamil religious literature and devotion - fueled development of bhakti all over India.

c.       Classification of emotions of love.  5 groups, corresponding to 5 different landscapes, types of flower.  E.g.:

                                                   i.      love-making -- mountain landscape -- mountain flower

                                                 ii.      anxiously awaiting loved one -- seashore (sharks and fishermen)

                                                iii.      separation -- arid landscape, desert, cultures, starving elephants -- desert flower

4.      Devotionalism: Bhakti

a.       Bhakti: love, service

b.      Early dev in 4th cent Tamil, flourished from 12-18th century in all regions and languages

c.       Exterior manifestation in temples, images, processions, feasts, popular gurus

d.      General Characteristics: Populist, Vernacular Poor, dispossessed and oppresses linked in their religious attitudes with orthodox, upper class devotees.

2.      Poets and Saints

Darsan, Murti, Puja, and Prasad

 

1.      Darsan: auspicious seeing

a.       The prominent role of the eyes in apprehending the sacred

b.      Giving and taking darsan

c.       Iconic and aniconic images

2.      Murti: iconic images of the gods

a.       Divine descent

b.      Embodiment of the deity: from formlessness to form

3.      Puja: rites of worship and honor

a.       Divine-human reciprocity

4.      Prasad: offerings of food

Terms:

 

  1. bhakti
  2. Alvars
  3. Nayanmars
  4. Shankara
  5. Advaita Vedanta
  6. Tantra
  7. darsan
  8. murti
  9. puja
  10. prasad