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Hinduism Origins, Beliefs, and the Caste System Essential Questions 1. How did Hinduism originate? 2. What are the beliefs of Hinduism? 3. What is the Caste System? 4. How does the Caste System influence and affect society in India? Where is it practiced? 1. Origins Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in and the world It is the third largest today There are over 1 billion Hindu followers in the world 2 million followers in the US Started around 1500 B.C.E. and found in the Vedas What are the Vedas? Which early civilization is the Vedas from? 2. Brahmanism Brahmins (priests) recited the Vedas and were written down in Sanskrit much later Aryan religion changed and borrowed ideas from other people the Aryans encountered The mix of beliefs eventually became Hinduism Hinduism grew out of the religious customs of many people over thousands of years Even though Hinduism has many deities Hindus believe they are part of one universal sprit which is Brahman. 3. Upanishads Ancient sacred texts that say that every living being has a soul that wants to be reunited with Brahman This happens when a person dies Upanishads describe how a person united with Brahman “A soul that becomes one with Brahman is like a lump of salt thrown into water. The lump of salt is gone, but the water tastes salty. The salt has become part of the water.” 4. Beliefs Reincarnation: the idea of passing through many lives to reach Brahman Soul is not joined to the Brahman right after death but a person passes through many lives first Soul may be reborn into a higher caste unless a person lived a bad life then maybe into a lower caste Influences how Hindus live their daily lives and even how they treat animals (because all life is sacred) 4. Beliefs Dharma: the divine law To earn the reward of a better life in the next life, Hindus believe they must perform their duty Requires people to perform the duties of their caste A farmer has different duties than a priest Men have different duties than a woman 4. Beliefs Karma: the consequences of how a person lives If Hindus do their duty and live a good life, they will have good karma Having good karma will move them closer to Brahman in their next life Having bad karma will have negative effects 5. The Caste System Originates in the early religious ideas of the Aryan people that were written about in the Vedas The Vedas laid out the early forms of Hinduism and the Caste System The Caste System divides people according to their occupations and roles in society Hereditary (passed down) differences between individuals and groups 6. Varnas Varnas: the classification of the Hindu society into four castes that were created by the Brahmins and their sacred texts Four main varnas (divisions) Brahmins: priests Kshatriyas: rulers and warriors Vaisysas: farmers, craftspeople, traders Sudras: laborers 7. Caste Rules To keep their classes distinct, the Aryans developed guides which listed all the rules for the caste system Rules included: You cannot marry someone from a different class You cannot eat with people from another class If you broke the rules you could become an untouchable 8. Hinduism and the Caste System According to reincarnation, a person who has died is reborn in a new physical form but this depends on karma (do good things and good things will happen to you) People with good karma are born into a higher caste in their next life Discussion Question The Caste System really enslaves the poverty stricken in India. How is life in India influenced by Hinduism and its beliefs and rules? Why don’t the people living in poverty try to make their lives better? Discussion Question Answer Untouchables make up a large part of India (the poorest of poor) They are unable to reborn into a higher caste These people follow dharma (be happy with the situation you are in). If they don’t follow the rules that would be bad karma and bad karma means you won’t be reincarnated. If you aren’t reincarnated you won’t move into a higher caste which means you will never get out of poverty.