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The Caste System. INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION ARYANS  Water/Religious Rituals/Purity  Worshipped Mountains, Rivers as gods  Animal Sacrifice (over time.

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Presentation on theme: "The Caste System. INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION ARYANS  Water/Religious Rituals/Purity  Worshipped Mountains, Rivers as gods  Animal Sacrifice (over time."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Caste System

2 INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION ARYANS  Water/Religious Rituals/Purity  Worshipped Mountains, Rivers as gods  Animal Sacrifice (over time turns to personal rites and rituals)  Vedas—mythology, gods

3 Moksha: Freeing of the soul from earthly pain and suffering->Eternal Bliss/Nirvana (peace of mind). Union with the Supreme Being Brahman Reincarnation: Living multiple lives, improving each time until you reach the peak Karma: The actions of your current life determine how you will be reincarnated—better than before and closer to Moksha or worse and farther away Part of good Karma is following your Dharma: the proper path for your current life– done by humility, personal sacrifices, living a ‘pure’ life in all aspects

4  “I believe in Reincarnation which explains about the human hope—hope to do better; and which makes a person responsible. If there is no reincarnation, if I have money and wealth I could do anything—I don’t have to obey, to be compassionate, to care for people. So reincarnation makes it clear, the way I am supposed to live.”

5  Living a ‘Pure’ life is essential in all ways—part of good Karma  Moral Purity  Ritual Purity--Washing is a ritual way to demonstrate purity  Other ritual ways to demonstrate purity:  Daily bathing, dressing properly, proper diet, bathing in more ‘pure’ water, no physical contact with less pure people The higher the caste, the higher the level of purity required

6  1 God—Brahman is the Universal Spirit  1 god takes on many different forms to perform different roles and to offer comfort to people in different ways.  Millions of deities  Brahma  Shiva  Vishnu  Priests are called Brahmins—different spelling

7  Ganges River—Sacred, a divine goddess  River poured forth to cleanse the earth from sin  Bathing in the Ganges can give peace of mind and cleanse sins  leads to a higher spiritual level  Therefore, the Ganges is a key pilgrimage spot  City of Varanasi—one of the oldest Aryan settlements. If you die in Varanasi—it is possible to break the cycle of life, death, and rebirth  After death Hindus are cremated. Putting one’s ashes in the Ganges also leads to higher spiritual level

8  Worship—temples or shrines  Make personal offerings  Meditate  “Meditation is the practice of the skill of paying attention. Through practicing meditation we learn how to learn, we learn how to love, we learn how to respect, we learn how to worship, we learn how to be communal”  Yoga is the Hindu practice of meditating  Pilgrimages to Holy Places

9  Do not injuring or harming others by thought, word, or deed  Practice Truthfulness  Don’t steal, covet, or enter into debt  Be sexually pure  Exercise patience  Show steadfastness—persevere, plan, don’t complain, have a purpose  Practice Compassion  Act honorably at all times—don’t cheat, follow the laws, don’t take shortcuts  Moderate diet—don’t over indulge, drink in moderation  Avoid impurity in body, mind, and speech

10  Begins under Aryans—way to organize society  4 main castes originally—gets broken down into 1000s.  How do you know what caste someone is in? Occupation, family name, family location, manner of dress, manner of speech,  Controls marriage, occupation, restrictions on eating and drinking, ranking of castes within society

11  Mentioned in the sacred texts (Vedas)—discussed in the Rigveda and the Bhagavadgita  Karma and reincarnation reinforce the idea of caste—only have yourself to blame, reinforces the idea of better religious behavior  Part of good Dharma is observing duties without question  Laws set up severe punishments of broke Caste rules: Fines, outcast, lose family and social support, death  Human nature to stay with what’s familiar so little social resistance

12  Live outside the Caste System—too dirty and too impure to actively participate in Hindu society  Anyone doing jobs related to death or dirt are seen as unclean or impure (leather workers, street sweepers)  If you are higher caste and have contact with untouchables you can become ‘unclean’ too  Extremes—no eating, drinking, touching, even shadows of the untouchables were unclean  Untouchables couldn’t enter into the city gates, couldn’t drink from the same wells

13  Social classes exist in every society. (Ancient Rome, feudal Europe, Slavery etc)—most included force and terrible treatment. The Caste system did not include physical oppression  Helped Hinduism survive through foreign invasion and exposure to other belief systems—provides tradition  Allowed specialization of skills and labor  Each caste was very united-social and economic groups, friendship and marriage  All castes were viewed as important with a special role to fill in society—1 universal goal

14  Exploitation of the weak in the name of religion  Divided society— breeds distrust, resentment, and prejudice  Talented people in lower class held back— bad for economy and overall progress of country  Foreign domination by Muslims and British— no united country to resist  Untouchables treated as less than humans— weakens the concept of democracy and Human Rights

15  Technically illegal  Indian Constitution—bans negative public discrimination on the basis of caste (employment, education, etc)  Government has set up quotas in schools and government to help traditional lower castes  In reality—still exists. Many educated, upper class, urban Indians don’t follow it but more popular in rural settings. State of mind

16  Intercaste marriages often not approved—in traditional families or areas  Caste based organizations still exist  Political Parties—often organized around Caste membership  Some workplace or school conflicts (some violent)  Lower castes still have lower quality of life


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