Download Chp. 1.2 “Origins of Hinduism” pgs. 22

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Chp. 1.2 “Origins of Hinduism” pgs. 22-27 KEY
The Big Idea – Hinduism, the largest religion in India, developed out of ancient Indian beliefs and practices.
Main Idea 1 – Indian society divided into distinct groups.
Indian Society Divides
Over time Aryan society became more complex and divided itself into groups of social classes.
These groups were organized by people’s occupations.
Strict rules developed about how people of different groups could interact.
The Varnas (four main social divisions or classes in Aryan society)
Brahmins – highest ranking class – priests
Kshatriyas – rulers and warriors
Vaisyas – farmers, craftspeople, and trader.
Sudras – laborers and non-Aryans
The Caste System
The caste system divided society into groups based on a person’s birth, wealth, or occupation.
The caste a person belonged to determined his or her place in society.
o On rare occasions people could change caste.
Untouchables (lower than Sudras) who didn’t belong to any caste and did the worst jobs such as tanning hides
and disposing of dead animals. As a result they were seen as unclean.
o People from other castes were not supposed to have contact with them.
Caste Rules
Aryans wanted to keep the classes distinct and separate.
They developed Sutras, or guides, which listed the rules of the caste system.
o could not marry someone from a different class
o forbidden for people to from on class to eat with people from another
People who broke the caste rules could be banned from their homes and their castes. This would make them
Because of these strict rules, people spent almost all of their time with others in their same class.
Main Idea 2: The Aryans formed a religion known as Brahmanism
Aryan priests were called Brahmins, so their religion is often called Brahmanism
Aryan religion based on Veda, which contain sacred hymns and poems.
o oldest of the Veda, the Rigveda (c1000BC) includes hymns of praise to many gods
Verdic texts – thoughts about the Vedas
o One collection describes religious rituals
o 2nd collection describes secret rituals that only certain people could perform
o Final group are the Upanishads, written by 600BC. These writings are reflections on the Vedas by
religious students and teachers.
Main Idea 3 – Hinduism developed out of Brahmanism and influences from other cultures.
Hindu Gods and Beliefs
Hindus believe in many gods
Three major gods are: Brahma the Creator, Siva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Preserver
At the same time Hindus believe that each god is part of a single universal spirit called Brahman
Brahman created the world and preserves it
Hindus believe that everything in the world is part of Brahman
Life and Rebirth
According to the Hindu teachings everyone has a soul (atman)
The soul holds the person’s personality – qualities that make a person who he or she is
Person’s ultimate goal should be to reunite that soul with Braham
Hindus believe that souls are born and reborn many times in a new body
This process of rebirth is called reincarnation
Hinduism and the Caste System
In the Hindu view of reincarnation,a person who dies is reborn in a new physical form
the type of form depends on his or her karma – effects that good or bad actions have on a person’s soul
o Evil actions during one’s life equals bad karma – that person will be reborn into a lower caste or as lesser
creature (pig,ant)
o Good actions build good karma – that person will be reborn into a higher caste
o In time good karma will bring salvation (moksha) – freedom from life’s worries and the cycle of rebirth
Each person had to accept his or her place in world without complaint – obeying one’s dharma
Through reincarnation Hinduism offered rewards to those who lived good lives- even untouchables could be
reborn into higher caste
Hinduism and women
Early Hinduism – both men and women could gain salvation, but women were inferior to men
Women not allowed to study Vedas or other sacred texts
Over time women have gained more rights
The Sacred Ganges
Ganges River – most sacred pilgrimage site in India
o Improve karma and increase chances for salvation if you make pilgrimage to a sacred site
Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges will purify them and remove bad karma
Some cities along the Ganges are seen as especially holy and pilgrims gather to bathe and celebrate Hindu
Main Idea 4 – The Janis reacted to Hinduism by breaking away
Janism based on teachings of Mahariva who thought Brahmins put too much emphasis on rituals
Jains try to live by four principles
o injure no life
o tell the truth
o do not steal
o own no property
The Jains practice nonviolence (ahimsa) – avoidance of violent actions
o Many Hindus also practice ahimsa
Jains emphasis on nonviolence comes from the belief that everything is alive and part of the cycle of rebirth.
o The do not want to hurt any living creatures so Jains are vegetarians. They do not eat any food that
comes from animals.