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  1. 1. Origins of HinduismSocial Studies for 8th E.G.B. | Teacher: Mauricio Torres
  2. 2. Background 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.
  3. 3. The Varnas According to the Vedas, there were four main Varnas, or social divisions in Aryan society:
  4. 4. Caste System  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 caste.
  5. 5. Caste Rules To keep their classes distinct the Aryans developed sutras or guides, which listed all the rules for the caste system.  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 them “untouchables”.
  6. 6. Brahmanism  Because the Aryan priests were called Brahmins, their religion was called Brahmanism.  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 religious rituals.  The last of the texts, are the Upanishads.
  7. 7. Hinduism Develops 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 India today.
  8. 8. Hindu Beliefs  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.
  9. 9. 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 Brahman. 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.
  10. 10. 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.
  11. 11. Ask Yourself Identify  What is Karma?  What is the Rigveda?  What are the three major forms of Brahman? Evaluate  Do you think a wealthy Brahmin will want his or her servants to believe in dharma? Why or why not? Recall  What were the four varnas?  When was the Rigveda probably written? Describe  What were some of the rules described in the sutras? Analyze  What led to the development of Hinduism?
  12. 12. Bibliography Burstein, S. M., & Shek, R. (2012). World History (Teacher´s Edition) (1st Edition ed.). (H. McDougal, Ed.) Orlando, Florida, US.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Images taken from