Describe the basic characteristics of the Vedas.

Describe the basic characteristics of the Vedas.
Explain in what ways Vedic sacrifices/rituals are understood as (a) benefiting the patron/sponsor of the ritual, (b) benefiting the gods, and (c) supporting the cosmic order (ṛta).
How do the Upaniṣads differ from the early parts of the Vedas? Trace and discuss the development of the new religious trends, in beliefs and practices, that they represent.
Instructions: Make sure to use the relevant secondary readings/sources from our classes so far, adding references to them throughout the essay. If possible, also provide examples from the primary sources (see: Excerpts from the Vedas: R. N. Dandekar and R. Weiler, “The Brahmanical Tradition: The Vedic Period,” in: Ainslee T. Embree (ed.), Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. 1, pp. 9–28; for excerpts from the Upaniṣads, see the PPT slides). Your essay should clearly reflect that you have read all the relevant assigned readings/sources. You can find them on eLearn. Any additional sources should be reliable academic sources (journal articles, book chapters, books, etc.). Most internet websites do not count as reliable academic materials. Be careful to cite all the sources properly. You can use any citation style, as long as you use the same one throughout the essay. Make sure to add a bibliography at the end of the essay. The bibliography does not count toward the required essay length (1000 words).

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