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Sunday, June 21, 2015
The trade in karma
I'm plowing through Doniger's alternative history. Chapter 7 is where we get the Upanishads. Doniger holds that some Upanishads were available to the Buddha (p. 167). So she puts them before 400 BC.
These be where karma makes its arrival, formally. Before this the key concept in the Hindi mind was still Aryan arta, as it remained in the Iranian mind. Iran was still all about the Divine order. India was moving on...
It's generally difficult to date any of the Hindi literature, because they (like the Greeks and western Anatolians) lost their literacy during the Bronze Age upheavals. India has the additional problem that nobody was copying the early texts; the Vedas survived because they were just that important to memorise.
Texts were made, and it seems that monetary contracts were available in the 500s BC. Doniger thinks that the Upanishads assume this, and therefore belong to an urban and Iron age. With the rise of karma, came a notion of justice inherent to the cosmos - in theology, monism, p. 174. That dethroned or at least demoted certain of the old gods; of whom Indra fell furthest. p. 185.
Still later, the Hindus came up with a more urban-friendly theory of cosmic order, dharma. This subsumed arta / "rita": p. 201.
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