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  1. 1. Continuity and Change in Religious India Religion in India has been present for almost 3000 years. Although manycenturies have passed since the start of religious beliefs in India, many of thesetraditional practices continue to be performed and followed. From 650 BCE to presenttimes, India’s religious practices shifted from non acceptance of other religions tocoexisting with different faiths as shown through British colonization and the introductionof Islam through Mongols although the social structure in Hinduism still remains in Indiatoday. Before the first religions were introduced to India, Hinduism was the only faithaccepted by the natives. When British colonists migrated into North-Eastern andSouthern India, they brought their religion of Christianity along with them. SinceChristianity was first introduced into India, Hindus strangely lived in peace with theforeign Christians. The two religions have happily been able to live together withoutmany disagreements. In present-day India, Christianity is the third largest religion in thecountry. 3000 years ago, you would never see another religion besides Hinduism withas many followers as the 24 million that Christianity has. Before the migration of theBritish colonists, the native Hindus were not as accepting of other religions occupyingtheir territory.
  2. 2. Therefore; when the Mongols took over control of India, the religion of Islam spreadthroughout India. The Quran’s teachings were enough for the religion to become thesecond most followed religion after Hinduism in India. Similar to Christianity, Islam wasaccepted by the people of India which would not have been common before these tworeligions migrated into the area. One of the clearest and most obvious continuities in India is the social structure.Hindus follow the Caste System which basically divides up the social classes in societywith the highest caste being the priests and the lowest class being the peasants. TheCaste System first came into play when Hinduism was introduced into India in 650 BCE.Over time, the Caste System is still to this day practiced by the Hindu followers allacross India. Many might believe that because the Caste System was outlawed in 1949that it is no longer in effect. Actually, the Caste System is still practiced secretly andheavily by the followers of Hinduism. The Caste System has remained important toIndian society because of the way it divided up the people into social classes. One’sdharma and karma continue to play a major role in the social stand point of India aswell. “Dharma” means one’s duty or role in life and it related directly to the CasteSystem. Members of the pyramid are expected to perform their dharma well in hopes ofreceiving good karma. Also, the practice of pacifism or non-violence is seen throughoutIndia. The Hindus, Jainists, and other religious followers believe in peace between each
  3. 3. be constantly changing or remaining constant, but no one can predict which practiceswill truly be the same forever.

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