World History

c.600 B.C.E to c. 600 C.E



Brahmins: Brahmins is at the top of the Hindu caste system. The Brahmins are considered the “scholar class.” They are the highest class and also the smallest class in terms of percentage of the population.

Buddhism: Buddhism and Hinduism both developed in India. Buddhism took some of the main tenets of Hinduism but changed them. The largest change is perhaps that Buddhism allows for much less social hierarchy, whereas Hinduism generally keeps the caste system in place. Humans are the only animal that suffer - is not one of the Buddha’s four noble truths. Though nothing about animals is specifically stated in the four noble truths of Buddhism, Buddhism typically views animals as sentient beings that can suffer and feel pain.

Dharma in Hinduism: Fundamental to Hinduism is belief in dharma. Dharma is a duty to perform throughout one’s life. In Hinduism, dharma was used to perpetuate the caste system. People were supposed to stick to their duty in life as dictated by their caste. Though there are differences in how the word is used, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all use dharma in their belief systems.

Karma in Hinduism: In Hinduism, buildup of good Karma leads most directly to moving up in the level of samsara in the next life. Karma is seen as a sort of natural cause and effect in Hinduism. Though it is sometimes believed that gods have direct influence on karma, it is usually more directly consequential than that: goodness leads to goodness and badness leads to badness.

Polytheism: Most early religions took the form of Polytheism. Polytheism means belief in more than one god. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Hindus, and Norwegians all had polytheistic religions.

Siddhartha Gautama: Siddhartha Gautama, the man who would eventually be known as the Buddha, left his life as a prince to search for answers to some troubling questions. An example of the sort of question that Siddhartha Gautama would have asked is - Why is there so much suffering? According to legend, Gautama found enlightenment after resolving not to get up from underneath a Bodhi tree until he had found answers to his questions. The renunciation of desire that he came up with was a middle way between an asceticism that was practiced at the time, and the main religious beliefs.