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Hindu Gods And Heroes: Studies in the History of the Religion of India

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ISBN: 9781516807420
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: 2015-08-08
Number of pages: 92
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“Who are the gods to whom these priests offer their prayers and psalms? They are many, and of various kinds. Most of them are taken from the religion of the people, and dressed in new garb according to the imagination of the priest; and a few are priestly inventions altogether. There is Dyaush– pitā, the Sky-father, with Pithivī Mātā, the Earth-mother; there are Vāyu the Wind-spirit, Parjanya the Rain-god, Sūrya the Sun-god, and other spirits of the sky such as Savitā; there is the Dawn-goddess, Ushās. All these are or were originally deified powers of nature: the people, though their imagination created them, have never felt any deep interest in them, and the priests who have taken them into their charge, though they treat them very courteously and sing to them elegant hymns full of figures of speech, have not been able to cover them with the flesh and blood of living personality. Then we have Agni the Fire-god, and Sōma the spirit of the intoxicating juice of the sōma-plant, which is used to inspire the pious to drunken raptures in certain ceremonies; both of these have acquired a peculiar importance through their association with priestly worship, especially Agni, because he, as bearing to the gods the sacrifices cast into his flames, has become the ideal Priest and divine Paraclete of Heaven. Nevertheless all this hieratic importance has not made them gods in the deeper sense, reigning in the hearts of men. Then we find powers of doubtful origin, Mitra and Varua and Vishu and Rudra, and figures of heroic legend, like the warrior Indra and the twin charioteers called Aśvinaā and Nāsatyā. All these, with many others, have their worship in the ig– vēda: the priests sing their praises lustily, and often speak now of one deity, now of another, as being the highest divinity, without the least consistency.”

CONTENTS I. The Vēdic Age : Popular Religion, Ṛig-vēda and priestly religion, Dyaus-Zeus, Ushās, Sūrya, Savitā, Mitra and Varuṇa, Agni, Sōma, Indra, The Aśvins, Vishṇu, Rudra-Siva, Summary, II. The Age of the Brāhmaṇas : Growth of Brahman influence in expanding Aryan society, System of priestly doctrine: theory of Sacrifice and mechanical control of nature thereby, Its antinomianism: partly corrected by the growing cult of Rudra-Śiva, The Upanishads: their relation to the Brāhmaṇas, Brahma the Absolute, Karma-Saṃsāra, Results: Śaiva Theism, Kṛishṇa: early history and legends, Teachings, III. The Epics, and Later : I. The Great War and the Pāṇḍavas, Vishṇu-Kṛishṇa, Nārāyaṇa, Bhagavad-gītā and Nārāyaṇīya, Growth of church of Vishṇu-Kṛishṇa, Worship of Pāṇḍavas, New erotic and romantic Kṛishṇaism, II. Rāma: legend of Rāma and constitution of Rāmāyaṇa, III. Some later Preachers, —Religions of Vishṇu-Kṛishṇa and Śiva in Southern India, Śaṃkara Āchārya, Rāmānuja, Nimbārka, Madhva, Vallabha, Jñānadēva, Nāma-dēva, Tukārām, Rāmānanda, Tulsī Dās, Kabīr, Nānak, Chaitanya, IV. Brahmā and the Trimūrti, Dattātrēya, V. Two Modern Instances, Conclusion.

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