1200 BC – the composition of the first book of the Vedas (Rig Veda)
c. 700-500 BC - Main composition of the first book of the Vedas (Rig Veda)
Collection of hymns mainly addressed to nature deities
Main gods: Surya (sun); Indra (thunder);
Introduction of the Caste System- 4 classes grouped according to occupations
The 4 classes were:
Brahmins or Priests
Kshatriyas or Warriors
Vaisya or Merchants
Sudras or Untouchables
Initially the caste system was flexible and individuals could gain higher or lower status through choice of profession and marriage but later on it became very rigid.
Later Hinduism 4th -6th C AD
Main trinity: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer)
10 incarnations - many of which are animalistic in nature. Rama and Krishna also figure as two of the well known incarnations
Role of Shiva as a destroyer
First Hindu temple built in the Gupta period. Iconographic representations of Hindu gods.
Ramayana and Mahabharata
Date: 3rd-2nd century B.C. It is the story of Rama, a prince of Ayodhya who, along with his wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshman, is exiled for fourteen years. The epic describes his adventures culminating in the abduction of his wife by the demon, Ravana, and the war waged to rescue her. After the completion of his exile, Rama returns to his kingdom and assumes rule.
The festival of Diwali is associated with the return of Rama.
Date: 6th century B.C. This is a complex story of the struggle for the throne between two sets of rival cousins, Pandavas and Kauravas. The Pandavas lose their kingdom to the Kauravas in a game of dice. As a result they are exiled for fourteen years. The story describes their adventures. At the end of their exile the Pandavas return to claim their kingdom but on the Kaurava refusal, they go to war. In the war, the Pandavas are assisted by Krishna. The text of the Bhagvad Gita is recited by Krishna in order to strengthen the Pandavas’ resolve to destroy their brethren.
King of the gods
His weapon is the thunderbolt which he carries in the right hand
He is fair complexioned and has a golden skin
He rides a horse or is seen riding a chariot drawn by two tawny horses with flowing manes and tails.
He has a violent nature
He has an insatiable thirst for the intoxicating soma, which gives his strength
He is the defender of the gods and men against the demon Vritra or Drought