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The Tradition's Own Version

 

Hindu accounts of the ancient world and Indian history differ from most academic versions. However, the development of empathetic research methods and the emergence of "new chronologies" is bringing together the two approaches (though school texts often present dated versions of academic theory). Conflicting opinions reflect the dynamics between different epistemologies—empirical and scriptural—and also between predominant Eastern and Western world-views. To better understand Hinduism, and its ways of seeing, interpreting and responding to the world, it is essential to examine its conceptual view of its own heritage.


Many Hindus do not believe that a non-technological past presupposes a necessarily poor and primitive one. This picture shows how one artist envisions a previous glorious age and a society based on performing dharma and relying on the natural gifts of God and nature.

Age

Predominant Spiritual Practice

Avatars

Satya Yuga
100% religious

Meditation

First five avatars: Matsya to Vamana

Treta Yuga
75% religious

Yajna (offering of Vedic sacrifice)

Parashurama and Ramachandra (Rama)

DvarapaYuga
50% religious

Temple worship (puja)

Krishna's descent and the Mahabharata war (at end)

Kali Yuga
25% religious, declining to complete degradation by the end

Personal practices that offer relatively quick effective routes to liberation often through specific mantra (prayers) or tantra, using techniques which emphasise the importance of Shakti, the feminine energy, expressed as Shiva-Shakti, Radha Krishna, etc.

Buddha and, still to come at the end of Kali-yuga, Kalki

The Hindu perspective on history is expressed in the following ways:

Scriptural Quotes

"Because or the powerful influence of the age of Kali, mercy, religion, honesty, cleanliness, tolerance, memory, life-span, and physical strength will diminish day by day. Wealth will be considered the sign of good birth, and justice will be won through power alone. A man will be known as a brahmana for his wearing a thread, and one expert at juggling words will be considered a scholar. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement and beauty will be thought to depend on one's hairstyle. Success in business will depend on deceit, and filling the belly will become the goal of life. As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power."

Bhagavat Purana 12.2.1-7 (selected passages)

Related Values and Issues

Quote

Gandhi, upon being asked, "What do you think of Western civilization?," replied, "It's a good idea!"

Meaning and Purpose