The Four Castes
Priests; provided sacrificial offerings to the gods on behalf of (wealthy) families.
Warriors; served as clan/tribal leaders.
Socially undifferentiated mass of tribal members.
Non-Aryans integrated into Aryan society by the addition of a “serving” caste.
In the latest stratum of the Vedas (the foundational scriptures of Hinduism), known as the Upanisads, there is a shift from theworldly goals of the early Vedic fire sacrifices to more spiritual goals, with an emphasis on four key ideas:
The “universal soul”; regarded as the ultimate source of reality.
The “individual” reflection of this universal soul.
Literally “action,” karma is the cosmic principle governing the transmigration of the atman through an incalculably long cycle of life/death/rebirth.
Release from the cycle of rebirth through a direct realization of the identity of atman (individual soul) and Brahman (universal soul).