Origins of Hinduism
Social Studies for 8th E.G.B. | Teacher: Mauricio Torres
Review Basic Concepts
As the Aryans moved into India, they developed a strict
system of social classes. As the Aryan’s influence spread
through India, so did their class system. Before long, this
class system was a key part of Indian society.
According to the Vedas, there were
four main Varnas, or social divisions
in Aryan society:
Indian society became more and more divided into
many castes or groups. This caste system divided
Indian society into groups, based on a person’s birth,
wealth or occupation.
The caste to which a person belonged determined
his or her place in society.
On rare occasions, people could change castes.
At first, both men and women had the same rights,
over time, women lost them with the passing of laws.
Untouchables: A group that could only hold certain,
often unpleasant jobs. They did not belong to any
To keep their classes distinct the Aryans developed
sutras or guides, which listed all the rules for the caste
For example, no class intermarriage was allowed, and not
even sharing the same table for supper was possible!
The punishment for breaking one of these rules could be
the expulsion from their homes and castes, deeming
Because the Aryan priests were called
Brahmins, their religion was called
The Vedas (“knowledges”)
It was based on the Vedas. There are four of
them, and the oldest one, The Rigveda was
probably written before 1000 BC.
The Brahmins would keep writing their
thoughts about the Vedas into collections
called the Vedic texts.
The texts include descriptions of Aryan
The last of the texts, are the Upanishads.
The basis for Indian religion
were based on the Vedas,
Upanishads, etc. but influence
from other cultures brought their
ideas to India.
This blending created
Hinduism, the largest religion in
The Hindus believe in many gods. The
three most important of them all:
Brahma, the creator.
Siva, the destroyer.
Vishnu, the preserver.
Hindus believe that everything in the
universe is part of a single spirit called
Brahman. Therefore, even the gods
belong to it.
Life and Rebirth
According to Hindu teachings, everyone
has a soul or atman, inside them.
It holds its personality and qualities that
make them who they are.
The goal is to reunite the atman with the
To Hindus, the world is an illusion. So, it
is hard to see through an illusion,
therefore it can take several lifetimes to
finally fin reality with Brahman.
Being born and reborn is part f their
beliefs, and it is called reincarnation.
Hinduism and the Caste System
Hinduism helped maintain the
caste system. This was because:
Through reincarnation, people
are reborn in a different
physical form. The type of form
depends on their karma (the
effects that good or bad actions
have on a person’s soul).
A good karma will take you to a
better caste, while a bad karma
will take you to a lower one.
A good karma will lead you to
moksha, or salvation.
The dharma, or a person’s
duties in life are done in
accordance to each caste.
What is Karma?
What is the Rigveda?
What are the three major forms of Brahman?
Do you think a wealthy Brahmin will want his or her servants to believe in
dharma? Why or why not?
What were the four varnas?
When was the Rigveda probably written?
What were some of the rules described in the sutras?
What led to the development of Hinduism?
Burstein, S. M., & Shek, R. (2012). World History
(Teacher´s Edition) (1st Edition ed.). (H. McDougal,
Ed.) Orlando, Florida, US.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Images taken from Google.com
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