Spirituality in India - A Cultural Perspective/Durability of spiritual traditions

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A fascinating aspect of Indian spirituality, specifically in the context of Hinduism, is its durability across hundreds and even thousands of years. As mentioned in the previous chapter, yoga as a practice seems to have been known in the Harappan civilization 5000 years ago. Similarly, the association of the triangle with feminine worship seems to have been present 11,000 years ago. This chapter will look at a few more examples of such nature.

Sanskrit[edit]

Sanskrit is one of the more well known examples. Sanskrit is among the oldest languages of the Indo–European group of languages. Though no longer a widely spoken language, it is still extremely important as the classical language of Indian culture and the sacred language of Hinduism. Sanskrit, in its oldest known form entered North-West India during the second half of the second millennium BC, at which time it was similar in nature to its relative Avestan. Later, it spread into North India and came to be the preferred language of communication in cultural and religious aspects. The language evolved during the Vedic period until it was standardized by the grammarian Panini around the fourth century BC. Thereafter, his grammatical rules were generally followed with exactness, to the present day.[1]

Harappan civilization[edit]

A continuity between the Harappan civilization and several practices found in the region inpresent times has been proposed by some scholars. For example, the units of measurement for length and weight are said to be similar. A similarity of housing plans has also been shown between houses in Mohenjodaro and modern Gujarat. Similarities have also been found in construction techniques. Structural similarities, namely the ratio between the breadth and length of a structure have been shown between the building of the Harrapan civilization and the later Mauryan period. This ratio is also found in the sacrificial altars of vedic rites which are practiced in modern India. Parallels have also been drawn between Vedic Soma sacrifices and Harrapan fire altars.[2] It has also been suggested that a sculpture of a male, called the "Priest King," found in Mohenjodaro may represent a yogi pose, with his eyes focused on the tip of his nose, half closed in concentration.[3]

Historicity of festivals[edit]

Navratri and Dussehra[edit]

There is evidence that the slaying of the buffalo demon by the goddess Durga was present as early as 1st Century BC. However, the DUrga cult could possibly date further back into prehistoric times. Towards the end of the Gupta period in North India and the Chola period in South India, the worship of Durga took the form of a ten-day festival associated with war. Besides martial rites, fertility rites and kingship rites associated with wealth were also present.[4] In the present day, these three factors are still found, represented as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, each allocated three of the nine days of Navratri, with the tenth day being Vijayadashami or the day of victory.[5]

References[edit]