Chapter 8 Review: Hinduism in India

By Michelle Crim

Chapter 8.1

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Sanskrit: Main religion of ancient India.

Vedas: The holy rituals written down by priests. The oldest book in the Vedas, Rig-Veda, is the only way we know anything about the Aryans.

Varnas: The four main social classes of Ancient India.

Brahmans: The Brahmans were the first and highest class according to the Varnas. The Brahmans were priests who studied and taught the Vedas, performed religious ceremonies, and ensured the welfare of people.

Kshatriyas: The Kshatriyas were the second class of the Varnas. The Kshatriyas were warriors and rulers who studied the Vedas, lead the government, and headed the army.

Vaisyas: The Vaisyas were the third class of the Varnas. The Vaisyas were common people, merchants, artisans, and farmers who tended herds, cared for the land, and made and sold products.

Sudras: The Sudras were the fourth class of the Varnas. The Sudras were made up of unskilled laborers and servants who served the other Varnas.

Pariahs: The Pariahs were the lowest class of the Varnas. The Pariahs were made uo of slaves who performed tasks considered unclean and lived outside of the cities.

Dharma: The duties of each male in each varna.

Mahabharata: The epic poem that outlines the ideal that one must do their duty no matter what.

Ramayana: The epic poem that describes the struggle between good and evil.

Upanishads: The religious writings that searched for the truth behind the gods.

Brahman Nerguna: The universal spirit.

Reincarnation: The rebirth of the soul.

Ahisma: The nonviolence towards all living things.

Moksha: The release from the pain of rebirth, to complete oneness with Brahman Nerguna.

8.1 Summary

In 1500 B.C., a group known as the Aryans invaded India from the Black and Caspian Sea Area. The Aryans who took over India were nomadic herders who considered their herds sacred, eventually banning them from being eaten. The Indian religion, Hinduism was rooted from the Aryan gods and goddesses, three of them being Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Hinduism was also rooted from the Vedas and Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Hinduism introduced the idea of reincarnation and ahisma. Hinduism states that if one were to be committed to prayer, religious rituals, strict self-denial, and the rejection of all worldly things, they could reach moksha. Another religion in India, Jainism, was started by a teacher known as Mahavira in 500 B.C. He emphasized ahimsa, rejected sacrifices and social division, and did not like the idea of farming. The Indian social classes, the varnas, were made up of the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, the Sudras, and the Pariahs. Each Varna was only permitted to associate with their varna. This is because, as one scripture reads, "It is better to perform one's duties, even though faulty, than another's duties. Destruction in the course of performing one's own duty is better than engaging in another's duties, for to follow another's path is dangerous," (Bhagavad-gita 3.35)

Chapter 8.2

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The Buddha: "Enlightened one"

Siddhartha Gautama: The founder of Buddhism, born the Prince of Kshatriya in 566 B.C., Age 29-left and wandered through India in search of "why does suffering occur and how to end it," lived as a hermit for 7 yrs., enlightened while preaching.

The Four Noble Truths: 1. All people suffer and know sorrow, 2. People suffer because their desires bind them to reincarnation, 3. End suffering by eliminating desires, 4. Eliminate desires by following the Eight fold Path.

The Eight Fold Path: States, know truth, resist evil, say nothing to hurt others, respect life, work for the good of others, free their minds of evil, control their thoughts, and practice meditation, leads to nirvana

Nirvana: Freedom from rebirth (a state of extinction)

Stupas: Large stone mounds over the bones of holy people

Theravada: South and southeast Asia, regards Buddha as a teacher

Mahayana: China, Korea, Japan; Buddha as a divine being and savior

8.2 Summary

In 566 B.C., Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism was born the Prince of Kshatriya. Living a sheltered life, he did not understand suffering until he witnessed the suffering of the poor in his provinces. At age 29, he wandered through India in search of the answer to the question, "why does suffering occur and how does one end it?" For seven years, he was a hermit, fasting and practicing self-denial. Eventually, while preaching, he became "enlightened." From there, he gained and large following and was considered the Buddha. Buddhism follows the four basic principals known as the Four Noble Truths. It also states that one can eliminate their desires by following the Eight Fold Path. The Eight Fold Path leads to Nirvana. As Buddhism spread throughout India, their art and architecture became very popular. Stupas could be found all throughout India. Eventually, Buddhism split into the Theravada and the Mahayana beliefs.

Chapter 8.3

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Chandragupta Maurya: Started the Mauryan Empire, was a skilled administrator, created a postal system, created a strong army and spy network, lasted until 184 B.C.

Asoka: Chandragupta's grandson, began rule in 274 B.C., fierce army, owned 2/3 of Indian sub continent, became buddhist after seeing bloodied battle field, passed laws stressing concern for others, created free hospitals and vet clinics, roads, rest houses.

Rock Edicts: Laws written on stones throughout empire in local languages

Chandragupta I: Started Gupta empire in 310 AD, Madadha base of his kingdom, rule for more than 200 years (Golden Age), Small empire, did what he needed to do to maintain power

Panchatantra: Wrote moral storis through animals

Kalidasa: Wrote Shauntala

8.3 Summary

The Mauryan Empire was started in 321 B.C. when Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the king. He was known as a skilled administrator who maintained a strong army and spy network. His empire included Northern and Central India. He ended his rule in 184 B.C. In 274 BC, his grandson, Asoka, began to rule. At first, he was known as a very brutal conqueror with a fierce army. He took over 2/3 of the Indian sub continent. However, he ended his conquest and became Buddhist after witnessing the aftermath of one of his battles. He then became known as a very peaceful ruler who passed laws concerning others. He was also known for creating the Rock Edicts, for creating free hospitals and vet clinics, created better roads and rest houses. He continued the caste system and died in 232 B.C. His successors were harsh and input heavy taxes. They were eventually murdered and the empire split in two. In 310 AD, Chandragupta I started the Gupta empire and the Golden Age. He was known for doing what he had to to maintain control of his small empire. He practiced Hinduism and encouraged learning based on the Upanishads. During this time, rules for grammar and politics were written down. However, women's rights declined because of arranged and child marriages and little independence. Many writings such as Panchatantra's stories focused on religion and folk tales. Also drama was very big with Shauntala being written by Kalidasa. Algebra was improved, the Arabic numerals were created along with zero and infinity. The theory of gravity was introduced, earth was predicted to be round, doctors began setting bones, and medical instruments were created. The Golden Age ended in 415 AD with the death of Chandragupta. India then faced invasions from the North. In 600 AD, India dissolved into smaller states. :.(