Arjuna: Hero of Hinduism’s Ancient ‘Bhagavad Gita’

Arjuna takes center stage in the role of the seeker-student to the god Krishna’s role of teacher-guide. Introduction Arjuna (also given as Arjun) is the great hero of the Indian epic Mahabharata and the philosophical-religious dialogue Bhagavad Gita. His name means “shining”, “silver” and similar terms relating to brightness. He is the most popular champion[…]

‘Song of God’: Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita

The Gita is a dialogue between the warrior-prince Arjuna and the god Krishna who is serving as his charioteer at the Battle of Kurukshetra. Introduction The Bhagavad Gita (“Song of God” or “Song of the Lord”) is among the most important religious texts of Hinduism and easily the best known. It has been quoted by[…]

A History of the Ancient Hindu Vedas and Vedic Period

The Vedas existed in oral form and were passed down for generations until they were committed to writing between 1500 and 500 BCE. Introduction The Vedas are the religious texts which inform the religion of Hinduism (also known as Sanatan Dharma meaning “Eternal Order” or “Eternal Path”). The term veda means “knowledge” in that they[…]

The Upanishads: Philosophical and Religious Texts of Hinduism

Introduction The Upanishads are the philosophical-religious texts of Hinduism (also known as Sanatan Dharma meaning “Eternal Order” or “Eternal Path”) which develop and explain the fundamental tenets of the religion. The name is translated as to “sit down closely” as one would to listen attentively to instruction by a teacher or other authority figure, but[…]

India’s Goddesses of Contagion: Protection, Unless You Make them Mad!

Goddesses have traditionally protected against sickness and cured the ill, according to Hindu belief. But there’s a catch. Introduction Hindus in India have had a helping hand – several in fact – when it comes to fighting deadly contagions like COVID-19: multi-armed goddesses co-opted to help contain and kill pestilence. Collectively known as “Amman,” or[…]

Angkor Wat, Medieval Center of the Khmer Empire

Introduction Angkor Wat is a temple complex in the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu in the 12th century CE. It is among the largest religious buildings ever created, second only to the Temple of Karnak at Thebes, Egypt and, some claim, even larger. Its name means “City of[…]

Bharatavarsha: A History of Ancient India

India has often been overlooked, especially in the West, about the contributions of its rich history and culture to civilization. Introduction India is a country in South Asia whose name comes from the Indus River. The name ‘Bharata’ is used as a designation for the country in their constitution referencing the ancient mythological emperor, Bharata,[…]

Hindus and Muslims under the Delhi Sultanate in Medieval India

The Delhi Sultanate, which lasted from 1206 to 1526, is known as a period of cultural intermixing. By Christopher Klune The Republic of India stands as one of the most pluralistic nations in the modern world, with many people of varying faiths co-existing under one national identity. Part of the origin of this pluralism can[…]

Sacred Space and Symbolic Form at India’s Medieval Lakshmana Temple

The temples at Khajuraho, including the Lakshmana temple, have become famous for their amorous images. Ideal Female Beauty Look closely at the image above. Imagine an elegant woman walks barefoot along a path accompanied by her attendant. She steps on a thorn and turns—adeptly bending her left leg, twisting her body, and arching her back—to[…]

Muslim-Sikh Relations in Medieval India

Peace but also conflicts that occurred between the Sikh Gurus and the Mughal rulers who were contemporaneous with the former. Introduction: Context and Commitment of the Article Prof Dalip Singh—an eminent academic authority on Sikh Studies, senior-researcher of Sikh Research and Education Center (SREC) based in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA—had written six voluminous books as well[…]

Lessons from Atheism in Ancient India

We’re still playing the same game, 2500 years later. There were apparently many anti-superstitious atheists in ancient India. (I wrote of Ajita Kesakambali earlier.) Mostly, we know of them through their religious critics in Indian scripture. One such passage is known as Payasi Suttanta, from perhaps the 6th century B.C. In it, a holy man, Master Kassapa, confronts[…]

The Initiation of Religions in Ancient India

The Upanishads are the philosophical account deemed to be the earliest source of Hindu religion. Introduction The religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, known as the Vedic  religion (1500 BCE to 500 BCE) were written down and later redacted into the Samhitas, four canonical collections of hymns or mantras, called the Veda, in archaic Sanskrit. The Late Vedic age[…]

On the Pallava Trail in Kanchipuram

The creativity of the Pallavas did not diminish throughout their reign. By Anantha Krishnan Introduction The Pallavas ruled south-eastern India from the 3rd through the 9th centuries CE. Their empire covered what is today the Tamil Nadu state. Their origin is shrouded in mystery though historians believe their roots might have been from Andhra Pradesh[…]

Divine Light and Melodies Lead the Way: The Medieval Santmat Tradition of Bihar, India

Examining the branch of Santmat, prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Abstract This paper focuses on the branch of Santmat (thus far, unstudied by scholars of Indian religions), prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Santmat—literally meaning “the Path of Sants” or “Point of View of the Sants”—of Bihar represents a unique[…]

Ancient and Medieval Hindu Architecture

The first Hindu temples were built from rock-cut caves. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Hindu architecture evolved over the centuries from simple rock-cut cave shrines to massive and ornate temples which spread across the Indian sub-continent and beyond, forming a canonical style which is still adhered to today in modern Hindu temples across the globe. Essential[…]

Medieval Indonesia’s Prambanan Hindu Temple

Despite its grandeur and rich exterior ornamentation, the Javanese abandoned Prambanan within 100 years of its completion around c. 950 CE. By James Blake WienerHistorian Introduction Prambanan (Javanese: Rara Jonggrang) is a Hindu temple complex dating from the 9th century CE located near Bokoharjo, on the island of Java in Indonesia. Prambanan is the largest[…]

Initiation of Religions in Ancient India

Vedic religion had a strict code of rituals. Introduction The religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, known as the Vedic religion (1500 BCE to 500 BCE) were written down and later redacted into the Samhitas, four canonical collections of hymns or mantras, called the Veda, in archaic Sanskrit. The Late Vedic age (9th to 6th centuries BCE) marked the beginning[…]