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The Indian Subcontinent
The Aryans and the Vedic Age
Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization
 Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the largest cities
 Civilizations participated in long-distance trade
 Possible causes for their Decline:
 Monsoons destroyed irrigation and farming prospects
 Invasions
 Long distance trade collapsed
 Root of the word is arya meaning “noble” or “pure”
 Spoke an early form of Sanskrit
 Where did they come from?
 Theory One: Aryans descended from North India through the
Hindu Kush.
 Theory 2: they arrived much earlier, and perhaps descended
from the Harappans.
 Theory 3: they were the originals inhabitants of India
Aryans and the Vedas
 The Vedas
 A collection, in multiple volumes, of hymns, rituals, and philosophies
 The Vedas include stories that attempt to explain how the world was
created, who the gods are, etc.
 Thought to be the earliest written texts
 Rig Veda
 The earliest Veda
 Originally was recited orally and passed down generation to
 Children began learning the Rig Veda at an early age, would learn to
chant each syllable in perfect order
Importance of Aryans: Introduction of a
Social Order
 Each tribe was headed by a raja, or chief
 Priests were next in importance
 They learned complicated rituals
 Rituals typically focused on honoring or appeasing the gods
 Warrior class
 Farmers
 Non-Aryans made up the lowest class
 They were not slaves
 They were only allowed to perform the most menial tasks
Caste System
 The system of dividing
society into hereditary groups
that limited interaction with
each other, especially
marriage between castes
 The hierarchical groups
(classes) into which Indian
society was divided is called a
 Brahmins (priests)
 Kshatriyas (warriors and
 Vaishyas (merchants and
 Sudras (peasants and
 Dalits (untouchables) outside
the caste system
Caste System
 Brahmins
 Aryan priests who supported the growth of royal power
 The only caste that was permitted to perform important,
sacred, daily religious rituals
 Untouchables
 Were not permitted to participate in or be near religious rituals
 It is believed that people ended up in this caste as a result of bad
karma that accumulated in previous lifetimes
 Perform(ed) the most menial jobs
The Beginning of Hinduism
 Brahmins memorized Vedas
and passed traditions down
from generation to
 The religion of the Vedic
Age is called Brahmanism
 Brahmins studied the Vedas
and were the only ones that
performed rituals
Beginnings of Hinduism
 Indians beliefs began to change
 Gurus were thinkers and teachers that left their homes and
went into the forest to meditate about life and its big
 Ex. Why are we born?
 Ex. How should we live?
 Their ideas were put into writing (Upanishads)
 Vedas and Upanishads became Hinduism’s holy scriptures
Epic Poems explained how people
should lead their lives as Hindus
 Moral lessons about right
 200,000 lines long
and wrong
 Importance of loyalty and
 Two families at war for
control of kingdom
 Moral Issues
 Bhagavad-Gita:(“Song of
the Lord”) is a sacred
section of this poem.
Beliefs of Hinduism
 Reincarnation
 The rebirth of the soul in a
new body
 Karma
 Effects of a person’s actions
in this and in previous lives
 Determines how a person
is reborn
 Bad karma brings rebirth
into a lower caste or as an
Beliefs of Hinduism
 There is one supreme
cosmic consciousness,
spiritual force, or God
called Brahman
 Every person is born with a
 The soul is also a form of
 All of the Gods and
Goddesses are a form of
 Ex. Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti
 Brahman is the source of all
Hinduism: 4 Basic Goals in Life
 Dharma
 Pleasure
 A person’s duty or what is
 Physical Pleasures
right and wrong for them.
 Your caste’s duties
 Ahimsa: avoid doing harm
to any living being
 Ex. Eating good food
 Strive for Well Being
 Make a good living with
 Raise a family
 Run an honest business
 Cannot be only goal we
 Moksha
 Liberation from
 Person’s souls becomes one
with Brahman
 Live forever in state of joy
3 Paths to Moksha
 1st Path: Way of Knowledge
 Brahmins
 True understanding of one’s soul
 2nd Path: Way of Works
 Carrying out religious rituals
and duties
 Good deeds without
 3rd Path: Way of Devotion
 Path of love
 Worship of Gods and goddesses
 Offerings to the Gods