The Vedic Foundations
of Indian Religion


 
The Aryan Invasion Hypothesis
 
 

Aryan Society
The Four Castes

Priests; provided sacrificial offerings to the gods on behalf of (wealthy) families.
Kshatriya
Warriors; served as clan/tribal leaders.

Vaishya
Socially undifferentiated mass of tribal members.

Shudra
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).