Most of what we know about the early Aryan period comes from the Vedas Vedas –Scared writings, Epic poems, hymns, magic spells –Passed on by oral tradition –Provide details about Aryan history and society
Vedic Religion Polytheistic –Worshipped many gods connected to a single eternal spirit –Became the basis for Hinduism Priests performed rituals that they claimed kept order in the universe –Fire sacrifices –Chanting hymns Priests hold great importance and developed power in Aryan society
Vedic Social Structure Rig Veda –Oldest of the Vedas –Describes the creation of the four varnas Social Classes –Each varna played a specific role in society Brahmins –Priests Kshatriyas –warriors and rulers Vaisyas –Traders, farmers, herders Sudras –Servants
The mouth? The arms? The legs? The feet? WHO IS… Brahmins Kshatriyas Vaishyas Shudras
10/12 Focus:10/12 Focus: –The 4 varnas established a social hierarchy in Indian society –The varnas evolved into a more rigid social structure known as the caste system Do Now:Do Now: –Explain why priests held so much power in Aryan society
The Caste System The varnas were the basis for the caste system Castes –You were born into a caste and stayed there through your life The way to move up to the next level in the caste system was through reincarnation in the next life Linked to Hindu faith –Determined what: jobs you could have Who you could marry Who you could eat with –Some castes had more privileges than others
Untouchables Did not belong to a caste No protections of caste laws Could not associate with other castes Could only perform jobs that other castes did not Handling dead animals Digging graves and cremating bodies Handling trash
Closure Why are the Vedas important to our understanding of the Aryans? What are varnas? Who was at the top of social structure in India?