Presentation on theme: "HINDUISM Prior to 600 C. E. By Rachel Houldridge."— Presentation transcript:
HINDUISM Prior to 600 C. E. By Rachel Houldridge
Origins Arayans Indo-Europeans that migrated to India around 1500 BCE Brought traditions Vedas: hymns to Arayan Gods Dravidians Indigenous people of India Believed in reincarnation – spirits come back in a new form after death. Cultural Mixing Sometimes they fought bitterly, the Arayans destroying irrigation systems and raiding towns Sometimes they were on good terms and intermarried Arayans learned and adopted Dravidian agriculture techniques
Vedas Means wisdom or knowledge Collection of 4 vedas Earliest and most important is the Rig Veda (compiled BCE) Origionally passed from generation to generation orally, but between 1400 and 900 BCE they were written down.
Caste It developed gradually First based on Aryan or Dravidian ansestory It got to the point where you could not tell between the wheat colored Aryans and the darker Dravidians. It began to solidify in 1000 BCE Four main Varnas or Colors Brahmins – Priests Kshatriyas – warriors and aristocrats Vaishyas – cultivators, artistans, and merchants Shudras – landless peasants and serfs Around 500 BCE they developed another labled the untouchables to do the lowest, impure jobs.
Upanishads They were interpretations of the Vedas by spiritual leaders Included Samsara and Karma Karma justifies why people are in the caste they are in by establishing that it is because of good or bad actions in a previous life. They preached that becoming one with Brahman ( the universal spirit) can only be achieved by disconnecting ones self from the world and renouncing worldly things. only rich Brahmins could afford this lifestyle, and were responsible for performing all sacrifices, so were highly favored by the rest of society They were exempt from taxes Received high pay for performing sacrifices Showered with gifts to keep the gods happy
Popular Hinduism Around 500 – 400 BCE Hinduism evolved (aroud the same time that Buddhism did) It became a religion of salvation In other words, the main goal was for the individual to become so spiritually in tune that they would achieve union with Brahman. This catered more toward the ordinary people of lower or middle castes, not just Brahmins. Now the not so wealthy could also gain salvation Became very popular
The Epics The epics were long stories of love and adventure that were originally secular and then edited by Brahmins to include religious meaning. ( transmitted orally 1500 – 500 BCE, written in the early centuries of CE) Mahabharata It tells of a massive war between cousins for land. The Bhagavad Gita is an excerpt about the hero being taught by his friend and mentor. He teaches of reincarnation and how the sword cannot touch the soul. Also he taught the caste duties have spiritual significance Ramayana A story illustrating the ideal Hindu husband and wife
Hindu Ethics Caste duties should be fulfilled To reach Brahman one must live an active honorable life Although active, they must still remain detached Have no feelings and do not think of the consequences There are four aims of human life Dharma – obedience to religious and moral laws Artha – pursuit of economic self proficiency and honest prosperity Kama – the enjoyment of pleasure, physical and social Moksha – Salvation of the soul Moksha is achieved when there is a proper balance of the first three.
Gupta Dynasty The Guptan rulers promoted Hindu They supported an educational system that promoted Hindu ethics They gave land to Hindu Brahmins Hindu became the dominate religion in India around CE Buddhism began to decline It spread to China, and many Buddhists would come to India to visit holy sites, but the majority of Indian people were not Buddhist.
Primary Source Documents The Rig Veda on the Origin of the Castes When they divided Purusha, how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet? The Brahmin was his mouth, of both is arms was the kshatriya made. His thighs became the vaishya, from his feel the shudra was produced. Source: Ralph T. Griffith, trans. The Hymns of the Rigveda, 4 vols. 2 nd ed. Benares: E.J. Lazarus, , 4:289, 93. This shows the different levels of importance the Castes have. The highest caste is the highest on the body, the one that does not work, but speaks. This means that Brahmins have the task of speaking for the gods, or being the spiritual leaders. The kshatriya are the arms, and do the work, as well as the vaishya as the thighs. The shudra are the feet, the very bottom, and they hold up the entire system they do the lower jobs that must be done. By associating each caste with a part of the god it make each one important and needed, helping to keep tensions between castes down.
Primary Source Document Cont. Caste Duties According to the Bhagavad Gita Having regard to your own duty, you ought not to falter, for there is nothing better for a kshatriya than a righteous battle. Happy those kshatriyas who can find such a battle – an open door to heaven! But if you will not fight this righteous battle, then you will have abandoned you own duty and your fame, and you will incur sin. All beings too, will tell of your everlasting infamy; and to one who has been honored, infamy is a greater evil than death. Source: the Bhagavad Gita. Trans. By Kashinath Trimbak Telang. In F. Max Muller, ed., The Sacred Books of the East, vol. 8. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908, pp This is a prime example of Karma as defined by Popular Hinduism. Individuals were urged to actively fulfill their caste duties, just as the warrior in this document is being told that fighting a good battle will get him into heaven. Failing to fulfill Caste duties was seen as a sin and therefore bad Karma, and the fact that they will come back with a harder life when reincarnated. This belief kept the social structure in India very secure and successful for a vast amount of time.