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Hinduism and Buddhism Develop
Core Beliefs
 Goes through evolution from Vedic
religion to popular Hinduism
 Epic poems undergo changes in 1st
century Brahmans help make changes
and go from being secular poems to
focusing more on god Vishnu (the
 Bhagavad Gita—short poetic work and
revised often between 300 BCE and
300 CE—enforced idea of social
responsibilities and that they had
spiritual significance—perform duties
faithfully with no thought to the
 Underlying force in everything called
Brahman—gods are Brahma (Creator),
Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva
(Destroyer)—can take many forms,
human or animal
 Essential self is your atman (individual
human soul)—reincarnated many
times before moksha (union with
 4 aims of human life
o Dharma—obedience to
religious and moral law
o Artha—the pursuit of
economic well-being and
honest prosperity
o Kama—enjoyment of social,
physical, and sexual pleasure
o Moksha—salvation of soul
o Need balance of first three to
attain moksha
 Begins to appeal to more aspects of
Indian society—evolved from Vedic
religion of Upanishads and Vedas
 Becomes less involved in the rituals
and sacrifices, Brahmins play less of a
 Devotion to specific gods and
 Tolerant and inclusive, would rather
 First great universal religions
 Founded by Siddhartha Gautama, born about
563BCE, Indian prince, left his life of luxury to
take up life of an ascetic
 534 BCE-left home and family to search for
spiritual enlightenment
 Lived life of an ascetic
 Sat under tree 49 days until he understood
suffering and how to eliminate it—became
“Buddha”—the enlightened one
 Organizes followers into monks, only owned
robes and begging bowls
 Beliefs—4 Noble Truths
o All life involves suffering
o Desire is root of all suffering
o Eliminate desire to end suffering
o Follow 8 fold path to eliminate
o 8 fold path—lead moderate life,
reject extreme luxury and ascetic
lifestyle—right belief, right resolve,
right action, right speech, right
behavior, right effort, right
occupation, right contemplation
o Five Precepts: to abstain from
harming living beings, stealing, sexual
misconduct, lying and intoxication.
 Follow both leads to nirvana, escape from
cycle of reincarnation—all Buddhist dharma
o No Brahmins
o No class separations
Bhadavad Gita
Gather Buddha’s teaching in Tripitaka “Three
Baskets of Wisdom”
Effects on
society (include
gender roles if
Further separates classes in India as your
varna is now tied to the idea of your
dharma, resulting in karma
Still views women as inferior
Attracted support from Gupta
emperors—Guptas support Hindu
Brahmins and educational system that
promoted Hindu cause
Also attracts following in southeast
Asia—sea lanes through Indian Ocean
helped spread these religions
Over time, Hinduism loses in popularity to
Buddhism, but then makes a revival as the
Buddha is simply incorporated to the
Hinduism pantheon of god in India
Also in Java, Vietnam and Cambodia
leaders adopt Indian custom and use
Sanskrit and some promote Hindu cults of
Shiva and Vishnu
New Religions/
 Mahavira is the founder, abandons
 Everything in the universe possesses a
soul (traced to Upanishads)—
experienced suffering and must purify
selves of selfish behavior to gain
 Purified self by practicing non-violence
(ahimsa)—sweeping, masks, strain
 Did not gain much of a following—
nearly impossible to follow ethical
requirements, in work, nearly always
harmed something
 Appeals to some because it did follow
the varna system
 Ahimsa is an element of both
Hinduism and Buddhism as they
Could help unify large/diverse empire
Helped Buddhism spread by encouraging
Buddhists to spread their faith
Early popularity—language of common
people, pilgrimages to holy site and stupas
(shrines with relics)
Monastery serves people-learning, banks,
Ashoka—Mauryan Emperor converts to
Buddhism about 260 BCE
Could help unify large/diverse empire
Buddhism popular in India by 3rd Century BCE
in northern India
Attracted many merchants as converts—
practiced religion and explain to others,
makes its ways across silk roads to Iran,
central Asia, China, and southeast Asia
 Helped Buddhism spread by encouraging
Buddhists to spread their faith
 Sent missionaries to Bactria and Ceylon
(helps gain support in central Asia, east Asia,
Southeast Asia)
 Attracts merchants, artisans, low rank people
(no complicated ceremonies)—but is a lot to
Mahayana Buddhism
 Changes in Buddhism—less strict version
(original is Theravada Buddhism)
 Buddha seen as a god
 Bodhisattras—more like a a Christian saint
 Spreads quickly, more wealthy attracted in
central Asia, China, Japan, Korea
 Flourishes due to educational institutions—
organized after monasteries form—
Nalanda—most famous monastery and
educational center