The People and Culture of India

The People and Culture of
Early Peoples of India
• Dravidians- original people of Indus/
Ganges River valleys, forced to move by
• Aryans-nomadic, warlike, fair-skinned,
came from Central Asia and conquered
India, many aspects of their culture can
be found in Hinduism
• More than a religion-way of life
• One of the world’s oldest religions
• Basic belief-all things have a soul
• Predominate religion of India-900
million followers
• Organization– No founder
– No formal church-people worship at
home or in a temple
• Polytheistic-belief in many gods/goddesses
• Brahman- The Supreme Being;
creator and sustainer of the
universe; all-powerful spirit
• Hindu Triad-3 gods, each is
considered to be an aspect of
-Brahma-creator of life
-Vishnu-preserver of life
-Shiva-destroyer of life
• A Person’s Soul ( ATMAN )
-leaves the body at death and moves to a
new life form, where a soul goes is based
on its behavior during its life
• Reincarnation– the belief that the soul continues through a
series of lives on a journey to nirvana
(ultimate resting place)
What determines where a soul goes?
• Karma-”to do”
-sum of all of your good and bad thoughts
and actions
-good karma=better place next life
-bad karma=soul moves down
Where/When have you
heard about Karma
What determines where a soul goes?
• Dharma-moral and social responsibilities in a
person’s life that must be followed
-is determined by your caste
-do your dharma=get good karma
A Soul’s Journey……..
• Transmigration-when the soul leaves the body at death
and moves to a new life form
• Nirvana/Moksha-the ultimate resting place
-end of the cycle of reincarnation
Caste System
• Society was broken into castes based on
• Born unequal in ability and opportunity
• Stay in the caste you were born into for
Caste System
4 Main Varna
• Brahminpriests/teachers
• Kshatriyawarrior/politicians
• Vaishyamerchants/business
• Sudralaborers/servants
• Untouchables- street
cleaners, lowest jobs
• Origins of Caste- dates back to Aryan
• No intermarriage-must marry someone
from your own caste
• Pollution- contact with members of a
lower caste can pollute your soul
• Vegetarianism- no meat, except Kshatriya
Hindu Sacred Writings
• Vedas & Rig Veda-( 800 BCE) oldest
known religious document
– Prayers, chants and truths
• Upaninshads-(600 BCE)- tells the origins
of the universe & the meaning of the soul
• Law Book of Manu- (250 BCE) explains the
origins of the caste system
Epic Masterpieces
• Mahabharata- long poem that tells the
story of a war between a royal family,
shows the importance of following dharma
-Bhagavad-Gita-part of Mahab.-tells the
story of Prince Arjuna-code of conduct
• Ramayana-story of Prince Rama,
illustrates the importance of appropriate
behavior and karma