Writing Assignment 3

Writing Assignment 3 - 1 Caste & Religion of Ancient India...

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India is the origin of major world religions that are strongly prevalent in today’s world. These religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, have over two billion followers that greatly affected the society of the Indian subcontinent and around the world in the past until now. Religion in India brought about many changes but also helped to implement the separation of classes or caste system. I will analyze the most important ways in which religious developments in India affected the practice of class separation. Although Buddhism and Hinduism share similar characteristics, their effect on India varied quite profoundly. The caste system was strengthened by religion in India and it did so for thousands of years. The texts analyzed are The Mahabharata and the Resonances to demonstrate the profound effects of the caste system in India. The India of the past was generally closed off to the rest of the world. The only way to get to India was through the Khyber Pass in the north or through the unpredictable Indian Ocean. The Dravidians, who were the native people of India, had an impressive civilization where there were carefully planned cities, advanced plumbing, and even standardization of mud bricks. This civilization’s quick demise is a mystery but it could be due to climate change, deforestation, disease, or a possible invasion. Whether it was an invasion, the Aryans, who were Indo- Europeans came through the Hindu Kush Mountains to settle in northern India. Initially there was conflict with the Dravidian people because the Aryans were trying to build their civilization and inflict their beliefs on a place that already has its own way of living. (DuBois 11 Feb. 2010) The Aryans even wrecked the irrigation systems of the Dravidians. (Bentley 94) After 1000 B.C.E, the Aryans’ and Dravidians’ relations significantly improved because they interacted and 1 1
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intermarried. But this did not result in peaceful relations yet because a complex system of the separation of classes developed. The castes were first separated mainly by complexion such as skin color. Later they were separated as Brahmins who were the priests, kshatriyas who were the warrior and aristocrats, vaishyas who were the cultivators, artisans, and merchants, and the shudras who were the landless peasants and serfs. (Bentley 96) This is most likely because they mixed and it was harder to separate them based on their complexion. In Hinduism, there are thousands of deities, each with unique qualities and personalities. One of their beliefs is dharma, which is to accept one’s place in life. An example is that if one were born a peasant, one must remain a peasant for the rest of one’s life. Death is only temporary as one will be reborn again so the peasant has a possibility of being reincarnated as a vaishya if one lives one’s life “properly”. (DuBois 11 Feb.
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2011 for the course MMW 2 taught by Professor Chang during the Winter '08 term at UCSD.

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Writing Assignment 3 - 1 Caste & Religion of Ancient India...

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