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Mr. Knoblauch
Social Studies
Council Rock High School South
Lotus Flower: represents beauty and nonattachment. The lotus is rooted in the mud
but floats on the water without becoming
wet or muddy.
This symbolizes how one should live in the
world in order to gain release from rebirth:
without attachment to one's surroundings.
• Has no official founder or date
• Historians estimate it was started around
2500-1500 BCE (Before the Common
Era/Before Christ)
• Invaders from the north called Aryans came
into the Indus Valley with a set of texts called
the Vedas
• A combination of the Aryans’ Vedas and the
local beliefs became Hinduism
• Earliest texts of Hinduism
• Consists of 4 parts known as the ‘eternal
• It was written in Sanskrit around 1200 BCE
Other Sacred Texts
• The Upanishads- written between 800-400 BCE
– A continuation of the Vedas philosophy on how to reach
‘eternal truth’
• Ramayana – written around 100 CE (Common Era or
– Epic poem about a love story with moral undertones
– The Lord Rama and his beloved Sita
– Still a very important text in India today
•Mahabharata – written between
540-300 BCE
– Contains the poem the Bhagavad Gita
– The Gita is the story of Lord Krishna and the
warrior Arjuna and a fight that wages between
two warring families
– It discusses selflessness, duty, devotion, and
– Central to Hindu philosophy
This poem discusses the idea of a soul in Hindu philosophy
“It is never born, nor does it die: after coming
to be, it does not cease to be; it is without
birth, eternal, imperishable and timeless; it is
not destroyed with the destruction of the
• Three principle Gods that make up the one
truth or eternal force: Brahman
1. Brahma: The Creator
2. Vishnu: The Preserver
3. Shiva: The Destroyer
• Numerous other gods
The Trinity
• Three Cosmic Functions of the Supreme Lord
• Generator + Operator + Destroyer = GOD
• Swastika
– Symbolizes The
eternal nature of
Brahman as it points
in all directions
• Aum (OM)
– A mantra (prayer)
– Sacred symbol and
sound that
represents Brahman
Basic Beliefs
Hinduism is the eternal way
It is polytheistic
Each person has an essential self or
atman. This can be interpreted as your
soul or inner self.
Your atman contains Brahman
The atman is reincarnated many times
through the system of samsara
(Sanskrit word meaning reincarnation)
• The goal of life in Hinduism is to end the cycle of
• When your atman is no longer reincarnated you
have reached moksha.
– Your soul is now connected to Brahman
• The way to reach moksha and end reincarnation is
to follow your dharma– your duties and obligations
in life according to caste.
• In order to follow your dharma and achieve moksha
you must have good karma.
• Karma is:
– Moral law which guides the universe
– Good and bad actions, thoughts or words
– The balance of karma in a previous life determines one’s
present condition
• To have good karma you must follow your dharma!
The Caste System
• Social classes (Varnas) in Indian society determined
at birth
• Your past life and karma will determine what caste
you are born into
• The word caste comes from a Portuguese word
meaning race
• Origins of the caste system are cited in the Ancient
The Castes
There are four castes in India that are
related to the physical features of
Purusha (a primordial being)
Brahmin (priests)
Kshatriya (warriors)
Vaishya (traders and farmers)
Shudra (servants)
There are thousands of sub-castes!
The 5th Caste
• Technically, there is no 5th caste, but there exists in
India a group of people who are outside the
system– The Harijans or Dalits; also known as
• People who are considered too impure, too
polluted, to rank as worthy beings
• India has outlawed discrimination of Untouchables,
as they have the caste system as well….but there
are still major problems
• Each caste must follow its own rules and
ways of behavior
• This is your duty or dharma and
therefore must be followed to achieve
good karma
• Caste determines a person’s profession