The history of Hinduism has been traced as far back as 1500 BCE, and it dominates the culture of India in both secular and religious arenas. At its origin, a nomadic people known as Aryans worshipped a mother goddess as well as "phallic gods, sacred bulls, and in one case a deity in perhaps a yogic meditation posture" (Ellwood 61). The Aryan peoples possessed the Vedas, or basic scriptures of Hinduism, plus a strong priestly class, led by the brahmins, and strict rituals, designed to hold together the order of the cosmos (Ellwood 61, 65-6). What became Hinduism seems also to have incorporated various deities of central Asian peoples and cultures, with the god Brahman, "the One beyond and in all these forms and changes" (Ellwood 69), expressing the unchanging cosmos.
Religious and social beliefs intersect in Hinduism. In Vedic belief, there are four stations of life, called varnas, which correspond to the group structure of Hindu society:
(1) the Brahmins, who are described as priests and scholars; (2) the Kshatrias, who are said to be warriors and rulers; (3) the Vaishyas, who pursue commerce and trades; and (4) the Shudras, who are described as serfs whose duty it is to serve and support the three higher groups (Kinsley 153).
The first group is associated with wisdom and social ideology, or the priestly class, though not all Brahmins are priests. The second group protects society; the third group sees to its material needs. These correspond to Indo-European social groups;
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igious and quasi-religious strands of thought. This further evolved into Ch'an or Zen Buddhism, and that so-called subitist sect migrated from China into Korea, Japan, and other Asian countries (Wright 47-48). The attractions of Buddhism to the Chinese can be linked to the doctrinal fundamental of transcendence. Why that is so must be understood with reference to Buddhism's so-called Four Noble Truths: 1) that all life is inevitably sorrowful; 2) that sorrow is due to craving; 3) that it can only be stopped by the stopping of craving; and 4) that this can only be done by a course of carefully disciplined and moral conduct, culminating in the life of concentration and meditation led by the Buddhist monk. These four truths, which are the common property of all schools of Buddhist thought, are part of the true Doctrine (Skt. dharma), which reflects the fundamental moral law of the universe (Creel 307). The Buddhist aim of life is to transcend the body (reality, existence), so that its being (not strictly soul) will revisit (i.e., be reincarnated in) human forms until craving is fully expunged and one achieves nirvana, or the conjoining of right moral conduct, absence of craving, and bodhi (enlightenment), which that derives from t
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Approximate Word count = 1512
Approximate Pages = 6 (250 words per page)