The sacred scriptures of both Hinduism and Islam have been objects of examination for centuries now, merely for the mystery attached to their existence.
Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world. It is neither based on a single book nor on the words of any teacher or prophet but on the Eternal Truth. However there are, literally, thousands of books and scriptures to guide both beginner and the scholar alike, which offers rich source of spiritual literature. Bhagavad Gita is also known as Gitopanishad. It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upanishads in Vedic literature. The speaker in Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna, who is mentioned in all the pages of this scripture as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For this reason it is quite imperative for one to feel slightly enthralled about the Bhagavad Gita and conduct a study on it.
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Islam, on the other hand, is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity. The Noble Qur'an, as believed by the Muslims is the only religious text which has survived for over fourteen centuries now, without any corruption or human intervention. It still continues to be in its purest form as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Angel Jibreel (Gabriel). It is a stock of valuable research material under one roof catering to the needs of scholars, theologists and scientists all across the globe.
Therefore, as a student of literature, it is quiet explicable for me to select these two enigmatic scriptures for my research and comprehend how God communicates to man through them.
To understand the usage of language, both semiotic and rhetoric, in the religious texts of Hinduism and Islam.
To study the pattern of communication between God and Man in Bhagavad Gita and Qur'an.
To study the common themes such as Concept of God, Creation of the Universe, and other common teachings etc.
There are three types of Research Methods, namely Qualitative analyses, Quantitative analyses and the third, Mixed method analyses is a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The basic difference between Qualitative analyses and Quantitative analyses is that the former involves the analysis of data such as words (e.g., from interviews), pictures (e.g., video), or objects (e.g., an artifact), whereas the latter involves the analysis of numerical data (e.g., statistics). Mixed method analyses, as the name suggest is a mixture of both Qualitative and Quantitative analyses and in the process covering the short comings of both these methods.
The study undertaken in this particular work falls under the broad category of- Qualitative content analysis.
Qualitative Content Analysis
Qualitative content analysis procedures were influenced by the writings of Weber (1907), Bulmer (1933) and Levi-Strauss (1963).
Analytical tools deriving from the disciplines such as literary criticism, film studies and linguistics have been applied to investigation of text structure and production of meaning. Qualitative content analysis procedures emphasize the capacity of texts to convey multiple meanings, depending upon the receiver. (Gunter 2000)
Krippendorf (1980) distinguishes two key concepts of framework and logic in relation to content analysis. The framework of content analysis involves clear statement of the main research question, the kind of data, the context relative to the data and the naming of interferences from data to certain aspects of their contexts or the target of their inferences. That is to say that, to accomplish these inferences the researcher needs to have the operational theory of data-context relationships. Logic deals with the procedures involved in the selection and production of data, the processing of data, methods of inference and analysis, including the assessment of validity and reliability. Hijmans (1996) distinguishes several types of qualitative content analysis.
In this research the semiotic analysis method and narrative analysis method of the qualitative content analysis procedures will be used.
Semiotics in recent years has come to mean both the study and interpretation of signs. Founded by Ferdinand de Saussure, semiotics seeks to explain the content and the aesthetics of the text by means of the signs using which the text has been encoded. Signs mean different things to different people and semiotics try to interpret the meanings that are derived from it. Semiotics can be defined broadly as a domain of investigation and that explores the nature and function of signs as well as the systems and the processes underlying signification, expression, representation and communication. It is a valuable tool for understanding how people find meaning in life-in objects, in rituals, in text of all kinds. It is an extremely important tool to analyze text found in the mass media as well as communication in everyday life.
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The following are the concepts that come under the science of signs.
Languages and speaking
For this research the following concepts will be used to analyze the religious scriptures:
Denotation and Connotation
Denotation is defined as the 'literal", "obvious' or 'commonsense' meaning of a sign. The term connotation is referred to the socio cultural and personal associations (ideological, emotional etc) of a sign. The associations are very much related to interpreter's class, gender, ethnicity, age and so on. So sign are more open to interpretation -in their connotation than their denotations.
Denotations and connotations both involve the use of codes. Structural semioticans who emphasize the relative arbitrariness of signifiers and Social semioticans who emphasize the diversity of interpretation and the importance of cultural and historical contexts are hardly likely to accept the notion of a 'literal' meaning. Denotation simply involves a broader consensus.
Denotation is the first order of signification propounded by Roland Barthes. This refers to the common sense, obvious meaning of the sign. It is the manifest meaning of the sign. In case of linguistic signs, the denotative meaning is what the dictionary attempts to provide.
Connotation is the second order of signification. It describes the interaction that occurs when the sign meet the feelings or emotions of the users and values of their culture. This is when meaning move towards the subjective or the inter-subjective, it is when the interpretant is influenced as much by the interpreter as by the object or sign. It refers to the hidden, subtle, the latent meaning of the sign. It is largely arbitrary, specific to one culture.
This term deals with communicating with associations. Meaning is made out of association, by making connection between two things. It thus invokes certain ideas or represents an object. For example in literature we can speak of the king, the idea of kingship as "the crown"
This is subcategory of metonymy where a part is used to stand for a whole or vice-versa.
The term deals with the relation between texts and is used to show how texts borrow from one another, consciously and sometimes unconsciously it involves the use of material of kind or another that becomes a coming currency and find their ways with anyone being aware of it ,into texts. Arguments among literary theorists exists that all creative texts are ultimately intertextual, that is are related to other texts in varying degrees.
This theory has its roots in the soviet union of the late 1920 and has been fed by the studies of a diverse, international group of linguistics, semiologists, anthropologists, folklorists, literary critics and film theorists. (Allen 1997)
Works of history, drama, fiction or philosophy may be comprehended only with an understanding of rhetoric. Rhetoric simply put, denotes the art of persuasion. Marcus Tullius Cicero, a statesmen and rhetorician, suggest that rhetoric has five parts: "Since all activity and ability of an orator falls into five divisions. He must first hit upon what to say; then manage and marshal his discoveries, not merely in an orderly fashion, but with a discriminating eye for the exact weight as it were of each argument; next go on to array them in the adornments of style; after that keep them guarded in his memory; and in the end deliver them with effect and charm." Rhetoric for Cicero is thus broken into five parts: Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory and Delivery. The terms which were originally used for analyzing oratory are applicable to texts too. (Berger 2000)
The art of rhetoric alludes to the right understanding of the symbolism of the 'tone' used. In other word, meaning and intention in language are reliant upon where and how words are emphasized in a particular context. Misinterpretation of tone can cause misinterpretation of the writer's purpose. 'Tone' in literature is often difficult to describe with exactness. The following are words that have been used to describe various tones: playful, solemn, mocking, reverent, excited, earnest, whimsical, sarcastic, sardonic, condescending philosophical, light hearted, assertive, dogmatic, flat, dramatic, impersonal, calm, savage, intimate, detached gloomy, heavy, personal, etc. (A Close Study of Literature 2001)
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The following are the concepts that come under Rhetorical devices:
Metaphor indicates an implied comparison between two things of unlike nature that yet have something in common.
E.g.: David was a lion in the battle.
Simile indicates an explicit comparison of two things of unlike nature that yet have something in common.
E.g.: David was like a lion in the battle.
Personification is an ontological metaphor in which you give human attributes to abstractions and inanimate objects.
Hyperbole indicates the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis of heightened effect.
E.g.: His eloquence could split the rock.
Euphemism implies the substitution of an agreeable or at least offence expression for one whose plainer meaning might be harsh or unpleasant.
Onomatopoeia indicates the use of words whose sound echoes the sense.
E.g.: He clattered and clashed in the dark inn yard.
Metonymy implies the substitution of an implied word by an attributive or suggestive word.
E.g.: Pen for writers.
Allegory is the use of fictional characters in the literal level of a story to unravel the abstract, philosophical, divine, historical, social, moral, mythological, religious or political meaning lying underneath its surface. Great allegories have many levels of meanings.
Oxymoron implies the yoking of two words that are ordinarily contradictory.
E.g.: beggarly riches; strenuous idleness; relaxed tenseness; rational hysteria
Aphorism is a general truth or a deep observation expressed in a concise manner. The word aphorism comes from Greek aphorismos meaning to define.
E.g.: A conclusion is where you get tired of thinking.
Paradox indicates an apparently contradictory statement that nevertheless contains a measure of truth. A paradox is not so much concerned with a turn of meaning in juxtaposed words, but with a turn of meaning in the whole statement.
E.g.: Art is a form of lying in order to tell the truth.
Irony implies the use of word in such a way as to convey a meaning opposite to the literal meaning of the word.
E.g.: For Brutus is an honourable man.
Rhetorical Question implies asking a question, not for the purpose of eliciting an answer but for the purpose of asserting or denying something obliquely.
E.g.: How can you possibly make good wine from poor grapes?
Imagery means word-images.
Apposition is the usage of the colon mark for explication.
Antithesis implies the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, often in a parallel sequence.
E.g.: Though studious, he was popular.
Climax implies arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of increasing importance. It is a heightened form of anadiplosis, a prominent feature of modern prose.
E.g.: I think we have reached a point of greater decision, not just for our nation, not only for all humanity, but for life upon the earth.
Parenthesis implies the insertion of some verbal unit in a position that interrupts the normal syntactical flow of the sentence.
E.g.: Dogs have (like every other predator) the killer instinct.
Cumulation is a technique of repeating one word or several words with the same or a similar meaning. The reader is overcome by the sheer number of words. This can be an effective means of emphasis in persuasive communication. Repetition may add unity, or emphasize important ideas. It can give force to a subject, and can also work towards a dramatic climax.
E.g.: Everyone was busy, prosperous, snug, complacent, convinced that nothing could disturb the security of the solid reassurances of progress.
Simple repetition often merely reinforces the meaning of a line, as in Hopkins' poem God's Grandeur.
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod.
Shakespeare uses simple repetition to emphasize King Lear's anguish at the finality of Cordelia's Death"
Thou'il come no more, never, never, never, never.
Anaphora implies repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginnings of successive clauses or sentences. Anaphora is always used deliberately by the author. Repetition of words helps establish a marked rhythm in the sequence of classes, producing a strong emotional effect.
E.g.: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, and we shall fight in the hills.
Epistrophe implies repetition of the same word or group of words at the end of successive clauses or sentences.
E.g.: In a cake, nothing tastes like real butter, nothing moistens like real butter, nothing enriches like real butter, nothing satisfies like real butter.
Epanalepsis implies repetition at the end of a clauses or sentence of the word that occurred at the beginning of the clause or sentences. It is a poetic mode of expression that springs spontaneously from intense emotion.
E.g.: Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answered blows.
Antimetabole implies repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order. This kind of phrasing figures in most aphorisms.
E.g.: One should eat to live, not live to eat.