Religion evolved from Brahmanism to Hinduism in India during 1500 B. C. E. and 300 C. E. because of challenges to the Vedic beliefs. The religion stayed the same in terms of Polytheistic practices and Brahmin power but changed in terms of less strict social classes and opportunities for worshippers to have contact with Gods. The, “Vedic Age,” was the foundation for Indian civilization and lasted from 1500 to 500 C. E. This age was based off of religious texts called Vedas that continue to be the world’s resource for information on pre- modern era India.
In this age the people of India had strict social classes, many deities or gods, powerful religious officials and specialized practices. Later, this religion adapted to meet the concerns of mass conversions to Buddhism and Jainism. After 700 B. C. E. various forms of reaction against Brahmin power and privilege emerged. People objected to rigid hierarchy or community’s demands on the individual. Buddhism and Jainism emerged as cultural response.
The Vedic religion responded with changes to please the people in disagreement.
The Brahmin religion adjusted due to the challenge of new, spiritually challenging and egalitarian movements. It built from the foundation of Brahmanism and drew influence of Dravidian culture in the South. This new religion is known as Hinduism, a still prominent faith in Southern Asia. In the Vedic age people were separated in to severe classes. Social divisions were determined by family and then farther divided into Jati or birth groups. The divisions were believed to be born from the body parts of the creature Purusha.
Class was heavily influenced by skin color. In India there were two main races. The Aryas were light skinned peoples and the Dasas were dark skinned peoples. As Aryas held positions in higher class society the Dasas were at the bottom of the caste system. The Dasas were known as the Shudra and sentenced to the menial jobs. A fifth class, The Untouchables, were people that could not associate with anyone of a higher class. They were completely excluded from the Caste system and often worked in demeaning jobs if they had any job at all.
One of the most argued factors of Brahmanism was the restriction through severe divisions of class. Jainism, Buddhism and other independent religions broke away to focus on the individual rather than the place in society. The Vedic religion, as it progressed into Hinduism, decreased importance of the class distinction to appease to Indian people. This also could have been due to the slight decline in Brahmin power and incline of individuals’ contact with the heavens. The highest of the caste system was the Brahmin.
This was made up of few powerful priests that knew the specifics of important religious rituals with orally passed traditions. They controlled sacrifice, a vital expression of gratitude to the gods, and served as an intermediate between earthly believers and the heavens. With this control over important rituals the Brahmin priests could easily maintain power as well as economic well-being in Indian society. The second largest opposition to Vedic religion was this Brahmin power.
Brahmanism began to focus less on the Brahmin power, although the priests upheld status. Sacrifice became less important and there were more opportunities for direct contact between people and Gods. This was because the number of deities increased allowing people to connect with specific qualities. Also, worshippers were offered multiple paths to obtain divine favor. Pilgrimages to shrine, devout practice and extreme discipline were all ways in which people could connect with the gods. Polytheism remained an imperative aspect of Indian religion.
Even as the opposing religions did not incorporate the worship of gods, the Vedic religion maintained the foundation belief of multiple gods. In fact the number of Gods has increased since the evolution of Hinduism. Some come from the South Indian Dravidian culture, some from the ancient Vedic and some have been made up with the passing of time. Currently, there are said to be three hundred and thirty million different gods. All of these gods provide the proof that a plethora of gods is a foundational dynamic of Hinduism.
Even through the reform of religion Brahmin priests still had ultimate power in Indian society. This class also upheld political influence through the period although sacrifice became less important. The Brahmin class still served as an important part of the religion. Each class had a religious duty depending on gender and life stage. A young man from the Brahmin class would endure a ceremony acknowledging entrance into manhood and then proceed through and, “Ideal life style. ” The role of the priests stayed a fundamental through the change to Hinduism from Vedic.
By 500 C. E. the transformation of Brahmanism had completely changed in to the current religious organization of Hinduism. Between 1500 B. C. E. and 500 C. E. Brahmanism in India changed in terms of strict social divisions and forms of contact between people and the heavens but stayed the same in polytheistic practices and Brahmin power. This religious evolution is similar to the Latin West Catholic Reformation. The change due to opposing religions of Jainism and Buddhism in Brahmanism is parallel to the belief reform in Catholicism as the Protestant faith grew stronger.
Cite this Ccot- the Evolution of Hinduism
Ccot- the Evolution of Hinduism. (2016, Oct 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ccot-the-evolution-of-hinduism/