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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Emergence of Hinduism

Urdu Version

The religion of Hinduism emerged during the Vedic period around 1500 BC.

Last Updated: 27 Jan. 2014

Hinduism

The emergence of Hinduism can be traced back to about 1500 BC with the appearance of Indo-Aryans in the subcontinent. The Aryan religion was well developed, with rituals focusing on sacrifice and gods reflecting their warlike nature. For example Indra, the god of war and storm, was depicted as a deity who smashed cities and killed enemies.

The Aryans divided themselves into three roups, the Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (common people) but these groups were not fixed, except for the Shudras (local inhabitants or non-Aryans). With time as the upper classes became wealthier, they wanted to retain their power and status, so the caste system became more rigid and hereditary.

Rig Veda

The Vedas
The Vedas
(Indian Mirror)

The Indo-Aryans sang hymns and gave sacrifices to their gods. Between 1500 to 1200 BC they had compiled more than a thousand such hymns. These became the first book of Hindu scripture, known as the Rig Veda or The Knowledge of Verses in Sanskrit. These were remembered orally through several generations before they were finally written down around 300 BC.

Epics

Songs and stories sung were handed down from generation to generation becoming the myths and legends known as the Epics. The two famous epics are the Mahabharata – describes the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas fought near Panipat around 950 BC – and the Ramayana – tells the tale of Prince Rama and his wife, Sita, who is captured by a demon and rescued by Rama with the help of Hanuman, the monkey god. These epics were revised over a long period of time until they took their final form between 200 BC to 200 AD.

Primary sources

Rig Veda: Two hymns to Indra & Purusha.

Ramayana: Stories from the Ramayana.

Find out more

Books & Articles

Hussain, Jain. An Illustrated History of Pakistan (Book 1). Karachi: Oxford UP, 1981.

Flood, Gavin. “History of Hinduism.” BBC Religions. BBC, 24 Aug. 2009.

Koeller, David. “The Rig Veda 1200 – 900 BC.” The Web Chronology Project. Then Again.

“Epics and Puranas.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 Nov. 2012.

Websites

PBS Story of India: Hinduism


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