The latest estimates place the Hindu tradition in literature as
far back as 8000 BCE.
The basis for Hindu revealed literature is:
1) Sruti--that which is heard (inspired)
2) Smriti--that which is remembered
3) Commentaries on 1 & 2
4) Subcommentaries on the commentaries
Concerns in Hindu literature:
Dharma--derived from the Sanskrit root dhri,
meaning to support, hold up, or bear. Dharma is the
central organizing principle of the cosmos; it is that which
supports and maintains all existence, that which must
be if anything is to continue to be. It is similar to the
Chinese Tao, the Egyptian Maat, and the Sumerian Me.
On the individual level, it refers to duty and inner nature.
Subcategories of Dharma:
1) Psychology--the theory of the gunas: Sattva--which
Eliade describes as "the modality of luminosity, of purity
and comprehension" (Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and
Freedom, 20); rajas--"the motor energy
that makes all physical or cognoscitive experience
possible" (Yoga 21); and tamas--"inertia
of matter, darkness of consciousness, the barrage of the
passions" (Yoga 21). Consciousness is determined by
the relative proportions of the three gunas:
When sattva predominates, consciousness is calm,
clear, comprehensible, virtuous; dominated by rajas, it
is agitated, uncertain, unstable; overwhelmed by tamas,
it is dark, confused, passionate, bestial. (Mircea Eliade, Yoga:
Immortality and Freedom, 23).
2) Linguistics----transformational grammar
etymology--a heard not a seen
3) Acoustics--sound is at the basis of Hindu spirituality and
Poetry is spiritual power--the underlying power of the
universe. Sound--and the language, literature, and song
which springs therefrom--is in service of salvation.
Universe--two levels of reality:
1) unmanifest--3/4 of the universe
2) manifest--1/4 of the universe
1) Sat--Truth or true unchanging being
2) Cit (chit)--Consciousness
Truth, bliss, and consciousness are properties of the state of
Sound and silence are deeply related
Poetry=divine speech. Poetry works to reduce sound to
rsi (rishi)--seer--resuces sound and thought to
the point of ultimate reality
all of the above relates to Veda--knowlege (in the
sense of gnosis): wit/wisdom/vision
The universe can be crudely split into two levels:
|There is no duality at
The Universe is vibration (sound--language)
The relation of sound to silence is shown in the sacred
AUM is a threefold sound which rises from, and returns to
the fourth element--Silence.
Levels of speech:
1) A--spoken (vaikari)
2) U--thought (madhyama)
4) Silence--supreme (para)
Subject and Object come together in silence. All oppositions
come together in silence.
The meaning of the Veda is its effect--on the chanter,
the hearer, and the universe-- when chanted. The meaning
is the sound.