Samuel Krupski / World History CP with Mr. Masterson / September, 2010 / Notes for WH

Chapter 3 - 2: Hinduism & Buddhism Develop

Key Terms and/or People:
  • Reincarnation - (or rebirth) the belief that an individual soul or being is reborn into another shape or entity.
  • Karma - the good or bad deeds that affect what happens to the souls in their afterlife.
  • Jainism - a religion founded by Mahavira.
  • Siddhartha Gautama - the founder of the religion Buddhism.
  • Enlightenment - wisdom or knowledge or an epiphany.
  • Nirvana - the result of following the Eightfold Path if one is selfish or pained, they will be released from that.

Key Events and/or Happenings:

The history of Buddhism religion dates back to the year 580 BC, which started with the birth of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. Born in the Lumbini, Southern Nepal, Siddhartha left his home at a young age of 29 years, in search of enlightenment. After going through a life of self-denial, discipline and meditation, he attained enlightenment, which resulted in the alleviation of all his pain and suffering. He then set on a journey of teaching people the path to enlightenment that would liberate them from the cycle of life and death.

Gradually, Buddhism spread to numerous countries of the world, which resulted in development of the religion. The original Indian foundation was expanded by the inclusion of Hellenistic as well as Central Asian, East Asian, and Southeast Asian cultural elements. The history of Buddhism also witnessed the development of numerous movements and divisions, such as Theravada, Mahayana, etc.

Hinduism is the oldest and one of the most complex of all religious systems. It is difficult to provide adequate history of Hinduism because it has no specific founder or theology. The development of this religion was influenced when light-skinned nomadic Aryan Indo-European tribes invaded Northern India BC from Russia and Central Asia attacking the Harappan people who lived there in 1500. The word, Hinduism, comes from the word, Indus, which is the name of an Indian River that existed about 5000 years ago.

Both groups adopted the beliefs of the other so they were similar in their religious doctrines. The Aryans believed in multiple gods to worship and the Harappans believed in the sanctity of fertility.

The Aryan group developed what is called the caste system, which ranked society according to occupational class. That system is as follows: Brahmins are priests; Kshatriyas are soldiers, king-warrior class; Vaishyas are merchants, farmers, Sutras laborers and craftspeople; Harijahns are "untouchables" -- those thought to be descended from the Harappan aboriginal people who are extremely poor and discriminated against. The higher the person's caste, the more the person is blessed with the benefits and luxuries of life. The system was outlawed in 1948, but it is still important to the Hindu people and recognized as the proper way to categorize society.

The Hindu religion has branched out and now encompasses a wide variety of religious beliefs and organizations. Portions of the Hindu beliefs have found their way into other countries, and are the foundation of other religions such as Transcendental Meditation and Buddhism.