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 religion.
Hinduism 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 universe. 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 forms.
Shiva the Destroyer or Purifier Shiva is responsible for change both in the form of death and destruction. Many forms but most famous is Lord of the Dance.
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 body. 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. Priests 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 dead. Were though to be impure They had to avoid all contact with the rest of society.
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 body. 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***