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The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religionsby Philip Novak
Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneHinduismSome four, thousand years ago pastoral nomads whose ancestors had sprung from the soil of northeastern Europe entered the Indus Valley of ancient India. They called themselves Aryans, or Noble Ones, and the religion they brought, with them comprised the first evolutionary layer of Hinduism. The ritual centerpiece of Aryan religion was afire sacrifice, a burnt offering to the gods, performed by priests specially trained to chant sacred hymns. The hymns themselves were known as Vedas or "sacred knowledge." The Vedas are the scriptural bedrock of the Hindu tradition.
The aim of the Vedic fire sacrifice, indeed of Aryan religion. in general, was to ensure well-being and prosperity in this life. The early Vedas, the focus of the first section, contain little evidence of sustained thought about human destiny beyond this, life. The doctrines most of us associate with Hinduism-the cycle of reincarnations driven by karma and the liberation from this bondage by means ofyogic discipline-were to be reflected 'only a thousand years later in the most recent layers of Vedic literature, called the Upanishads. Selections from the Upanishads comprise the second section of this chapter. The third section focuses on the scripture called the Bhagavad Gita and has its own introduction.THE EARLY VEDAS1. He, O Men, Is IndraOf the four collections of Vedas, theft- Veda is the most important and foundational. The most popular god of the Rig-Veda is the expansive and dynamic Indra. He is said to have surpassed the other gods in power as soon as he was born (v. I), and he is credited both with having created the world by slaying a cosmic serpent and thus releasing the lifegiving,monsoon-bringing maters (v. 3); . and with helping the Aryans overcome the non Aryan populations they encountered.
The chief wise god who who as soon as born
Who made firm the quaking earth who set at rest the agitated mountains;
Who having slain the serpent released the seven streams . . .
The terrible one of whom they ask "where is he," of whom they also say "he is not";
Even Heaven and Earth bow down before him; before his vehemence even the mountains are afraid.
a. From Rig-Veda I
Invoker, greatest bestower of wealth . . .
Ruler of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal Rta , radiant one,
b. From Rig-Veda' II
By thee, O Agni, all the immortal guileless gods eat with thy
c. From Rig-Veda VII
Bright, purifier, meet for praise,
Novak has created a world Bible for our time from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic and primal religion sources. The most powerful and elegant expressions of the religious spirit are coupled with authentic, poetic translations, insightful introductions, and "grace notes" that show how each tradition is best expressed as it is lived out.
A world Bible for our time from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and primal religion sources!
In this perfect companion to Huston Smith's bestselling The World's Wisdom, Philip Novak distills the most powerful and elegant expressions of the wisdom of humankind. Authentic, poetic translations of key texts are coupled with insightful introductions and "grace notes."
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
Philip Novak is the Santo Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, where he has taught for over twenty years, and the author of The World's Wisdom, a widely used anthology of the sacred texts of the world's religions and the companion reader to Huston Smith's The World's Religions.
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