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By Klaus K. Klostermaier

The 3rd version of this well-regarded creation to Hinduism provides new fabric at the religion's origins, on its kinfolk with rival traditions, and on Hindu technology.

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Extra resources for A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition

Example text

It abounds with Greek and Latin technical terms, it contains an abundance of formulas, composed of Greek and Hebrew letters. If scholars with only a background in the classical languages were to read such works, they might be able to come up with some acceptable translations of technical terms into modern English, but they would hardly be able to really make sense of most of what they read, and they certainly would not extract the information that the authors of these works wished to convey through their formulas to people trained in their specialties.

Indian scholars pointed out all along that there was no reference in the Veda to a migration of the Āryas from outside India, that all the geographical features mentioned in the Ṛgveda were those of northwestern India and that there was no archaeological evidence whatsoever for the Aryan invasion theory. On the other side, there were references to constellations in Vedic works whose time frame could be reestablished by commonly accepted astronomical calculations. The dates arrived at, however, 4500 bce for one observation in the Ṛgveda, 3200 bce for a date in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, seemed far too remote to be acceptable, especially if one assumed, as many nineteenth-century scholars did, that the world was only about six thousand years old and that the flood had taken place only 4500 years ago.

The aim, therefore, was to reach a higher position with greater power through tapas. There are numerous stories in Indian literature about forest hermits who had accumulated so much tapas that the gods, and even the highest among them, Indra, became afraid of losing their positions. The gods usually sent to the ascetic as their ultimate weapon a bewitchingly beautiful heavenly damsel to confuse his thoughts, or a rude fellow to make him lose his temper in an outburst of anger, thereby burning up all his stored up tapas energy.

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