Hinduism has influenced the social structure of Indian society through the caste system. Reincarnation is a core belief of Hinduism, and Hindu doctrine states that death could enter a person into a higher caste based on virtuous behavior. A person had little social mobility in India, and the only way to move ahead was through the next life.Continue Reading
Evidence indicates that the Hindu caste system is referenced in the Vedas, which are ancient scriptures that form the core of Hindu thought. The two highest castes are Brahmin, meaning priests, and Kshatriya, who are the warriors and nobility. The lower castes include the Vaisya, who are artisans and traders, and the Shudra, who make up the servant class.
Those who fell outside of the caste system, otherwise known as untouchables, carried out jobs such as removing animal remains or working with leather. There were thousands of castes and sub-castes throughout Indian society.
According to Hindu thought, someone from the Shudra class could become a Brahmin in the next life. Souls could also be reincarnated in the form of other animals, which is why many Hindus practice vegetarianism.
Marriage to a person from another caste was forbidden, and people married within their own caste. A Brahmin could give food to the poor, but a priest would be tainted if he accepted certain foods from someone below his social standing. Untouchables were considered so polluted that their presence would contaminate another caste member.Learn more about Hinduism
In Hinduism, "moksha" is the completion of the soul's cycle of birth, death and reincarnation. It is considered by many Hindus to be the ultimate goal, or the fourth and final "artha."Full Answer >
The religion of Hinduism has its roots in India. However, the great age of Hinduism makes it extremely difficult to precisely pinpoint when the religion started in India.Full Answer >
No one knows exactly why Hinduism started or even how it began. Traditionally, the belief was that the foundations for Hinduism were laid by the Aryans when they moved into the region of modern India in about 1500 B.C. They worshipped a god called Indra; some dispute this assertion, however, and claim that Hinduism has existed for all time and does not have a beginning or end.Full Answer >
Hinduism does not have one particular origin. Rather, it is the name for the collection spiritual practices and religious beliefs that developed over thousands of years in India.Full Answer >