These concepts were appealing to many people, especially those of the lower varna, because they offered the possibility of advancement in a future life. A person’s karma was affected by how well they conformed to the roles of their place in the caste system; good karma could result in a person being reborn to a higher caste in their next life. Indian elites encouraged the acceptance of the teachings of theUpanishads.MAHABHARATA & RAMAYANATwo other important texts of Brahmanism were the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Mahabharata, at 100,000 verses in 18 books, is the world’s longest poem and is even longer thanthe Bible. The Ramayana tells the tale of the virtuous prince Rama and his loyal wife Sita, using their examples to show the reader the ideal qualities of rulers, husbands, wives, and family members.BHAGAVAD GITAThe most famous book of the Mahabharata is Book 6, the Bhagavad Gita (“Song of the Lord”). In the Bhagavad Gita, the god Krishna disguises himself as a charioteer and counsels Prince Arjuna to fulfill his duty according to Dharma with the lesson that as a leader, he should “Always perform your duty efficiently and without any selfish attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains Supreme.” Brahmanic mystics claimed that the worldwas an illusion and the only way to escape it was to accept the unchanging nature of ultimate reality.JAINISMIndia is one of the most culturally diverse places on Earth, and while Brahmanism was the first major religion to develop there, it was soon followed by others. Around the year 520 BCE, Vardhamana Mahavira founded the religion of Jainism. Jains shared many of the same beliefs of Brahmanism, such as the concept of reincarnation. However, they believed in a system of ordered laws rather than one of all-powerful gods and goddesses.KARMAMahavira taught that the doctrine of karma extended to all animate and inanimate objects. Nonviolence and compassion for all life are central principles of Jainism. Jains support non-violence towards all living things, whether they are people, animals, or plants; they are not only vegetarians, but also eschew the consumption of plants such as carrots and onions, which cannot be harvested without killing the entire plant.ASCETICISMAnother key principle of Jainism is asceticism, the practice of an extremely austere life dedicated to self-denial and contemplation. Mahavira had been a prince of the Kshatriya caste before disavowing his privileged life in favor of one as a mendicant. While Jainism never became as widely accepted as other Indian religions, it left an important influence.BUDDHISMSIDDHARTHA GAUTAMAAnother major religion was also founded by a former prince who had chosen to lead a life of asceticism. This prince was Siddhartha Gautama, who lived around 500 BCE. According to legend, Siddhartha began his life in a palace where he was completely isolated from the world.
His parents were determined that he never experience suffering in any form. It was not until the