p.p1 Classical Hindu texts generally give little attention

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For Hinduism, the term dharma can mean law, duty, righteousness, or even “religion,” all of which have to do with living in a way that upholds cosmic and social order. Dharma is traditionally believed to have been divinely revealed to the rishis, the poet-sages who composed the Vedas. Through the centuries, Hindu texts have set forth ritual and social obligations that define a good life. The Laws of Manu, for example, a classic juridical text from the period 200 b.c.e. to 200 c.e., contains detailed prescriptions for correct behavior in all aspects of life. The two ancient and enormously influential Indian epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, depict the simultaneous particularity and universal- ity of dharma. As we will consider in more detail in a later section, both poems present epic heroes who must resolve conflicts between social or family obligations and their own personal sense of what duty demands from them. 

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13. Hindu tradition has tended to be patriarchal, both subordinating and marginalizing women. Although there is some evidence in the Vedic literature that some women participated in early philosophical movements or dialogues, for the most part their public roles have been secondary to those of men. The role of Hindu women has been primarily domestic.
Classical Hindu texts generally give little attention to women, but there are excep- tions. One example is the Laws of Manu, which, in the course of its extensive coverage of varnashrama dharma, includes some statements that confer upon women a relatively high place: “Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields rewards.”12 At the same time, numerous pas- sages subordinate and marginalize women, clearly asserting the predominance of father, husband, and even sons.
The bhakti movements enabled women to overturn social hierarchies. Women poets and saints such as Meera, who lived during the fifteenth century in Rajasthan, rejected marriage, devoted themselves to a spiritual life, and challenged the limits of gender, class, and caste. Today, Hindu women are increasingly assuming leadership roles in India and in the Indian diaspora. Women sometimes act as priests and are be- ginning to wield influence as spiritual teachers, monastics, and theologians.

15.The path of devotion, bhakti marga, is the most widely practiced of the three paths to liberation. This chapter’s survey of the history of Hinduism in- cludes a section detailing the rise of the bhakti tradition. In an important manner, the tradition is grounded in the Bhagavad Gita, which, along with prescribing the other two margas, gives pride of place to bhakti. In the Bhagavad Gita, the featured deity is Krishna. Bhakti, however, can be directed toward whatever deity one chooses. Hindus typically worship more than one deity, depending on personal preference and on the occasion; for instance, during the festival in honor of Saraswati, goddess of education, Hindu schoolchildren offer devotion to her. There are numerous such festivals of the gods in the Hindu year. 
The concept of bhakti influences the development of the dualistic or devotional Hindu traditions. Bhakti is intimately connected to the rise of Hinduism’s various sectarian affiliations and the growth of temple cultures. Bhakti advocates a deep, abiding love for God and encourages the devotee to nurture an intimate and personal relationship with the divine. The devotee is free to choose a favored, personal deity, who is perceived as the supreme entity and toward whom devotion is directed. For many Hindus, bhakti is both a belief and a practice. That is, they cultivate bhakti as the most effective way out of samsara. 


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