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Class System
 Do you think people should be judged in
society by how much money they make?
Hinduism & the Caste
The Beginnings of Hinduism
 In about 1500 BC, when the Aryans
invaded India, they brought with them
parts of their culture
 Their language Sanskrit, which the
Aryans believed was a holy language,
was spoken by the gods.
 The Aryans’ holiest books, the Vedas are
written in Sanskrit.
 These four books describe the Aryan
 Hinduism is one of the
oldest religions still
practiced today.
 They worship three main
gods, (polytheistic)
 Brahma the Creator
 Vishnu the Preserver
 Shiva the Destroyer
 Below these gods are
many other lesser gods.
Brahma the Creator
 Creator of the Universe
 Hindu followers believe
all other gods originated
from Brahma.
 4 faces to see the 4
corners of the universe
Vishnu the Preserver
 Preserves the
 He is all powerful and
all knowing
 Role is to maintain a
balance between
good and evil powers.
 To do this he returns
to Earth in many
Shiva the Destroyer or Purifier
 Shiva is responsible
for change both in the
form of death and
 Many forms but most
famous is Lord of the
Hinduism Teachings
 Hinduism teaches that people live many
lives until they reach spiritual perfection
 Belief in reincarnation, the soul lives on
after death and returns to life in a new
 Those who live good lives will be reborn into
a higher social caste
 Those who live bad lives will return as lower
caste, could be an animal or an insect.
Teachings continued
In other words, a person’s life is measured by Karma.
 Karma: Good or bad things you have done that will
result in good or bad things happening to you.
 Good Karma will allow you to reincarnate to a higher caste,
bad karma will reincarnate you into a lower caste.
 If you are in the Brahmin caste and earn good Karma,
it is said that you will achieve Moksha.
 Moksha: like heaven, state of changeless bliss.
Ultimate reward of Hinduism: Released from
reincarnation and united with the universe (Brahman).
Caste System
 The priests used the
Vedas and the belief in
reincarnation to give
order to their society.
 The Aryan social
classes are divided
into 4 castes.
Soldiers and Rulers
Farmers and merchants
Common people
The Caste
 A person born into one caste could never
change castes or mix with members of
another caste.
 Caste members live, marry, and work
within their own group.
The Untouchables
 Below all the castes were
the untouchables.
 They did all the
unpleasant jobs of
society, such as garbage,
cleaning stable, or the
 Were though to be
 They had to avoid all
contact with the rest of
Accepting the Caste System
 What made life under the caste system
bearable was reincarnation.
 Hindus believe that each person has a soul.
The soul is reborn, born again, in another
 They believe that even though life might be
hard, if you obey the rules of your caste,
there is hope that you will be reborn into the
next life in a better caste.
In Summary,
Why have the Caste System?
 It kept order in society.
 People didn’t disobey or rebel.
 There was always the hope of good karma
leading to a higher caste in the next life.
***This allowed Aryan priests to keep
order in society for hundreds of years***