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Madelyn Divino
Mrs. Lucarelli
Comparative Civilizations
9 November 2015
Influence of Hinduism in India
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that has many followers in India. While Hinduism is
followed by many in the Middle East, it has a major influence in India, most specifically in
Indian society. Its effects in India, such as its impact on human relationships and social structure,
can be shown through the fundamental beliefs of Hinduism and the caste system.
The fundamentals of Hinduism display this religions importance in India. For example,
Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have
been resolved and moksha is attained (Kauais Hindu Monastery). This is explaining that in
order for a person to reach moksha (the release of samsara, which is the reincarnation life cycle),
they must have good karma by being a good person. These beliefs are what formed the Hindu
caste system, which is really just a complicated set of social hierarchies, that is very common
in India (Resources for History Teachers). The order of the caste is: Brahmins at the top,
Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, and the Untouchables, who are not even considered to be a part of
the caste system because they are so low (Resources for History Teachers). According to excerpts
from Arrians Description of India, while there are few Brahmins, they are chief in honor and
regard, meaning that they are superior to all others (Knoblock, 86). They are under no
necessity to do bodily labor for others and their only job is to offer the sacrifices to the gods on
behalf of the people of India, which implies that Brahmins are greater than all others and are
priests in society (Knoblock, 86). The Brahmins are revered in Indian society by all others

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because they are believed to have the best karma and the closest ones to receiving moksha. A
picture of Brahmin children even illustrates them wearing fancy clothes and one of them holding
a book, showing how they receive a higher level of education than others and are clearly
wealthier (Hindu Children of High Caste, Bombay, India). The next two castes, which are the
Kshatriyas (kings and warriors) and the Vaishyas (merchants and landowners) are middle class
citizens in Indian society, because they have been fairly good people in their past lives, but are
not yet worthy of Brahmin status. The Sudras, who are stuck as peasants and servants are
considered very low class, but not as low as the Untouchables, who are not even considered a
part of the caste system. They perform the jobs that no one else wants to do, and are extremely
poor. It is even believed by the higher caste people that touching a lower caste person such as an
Untouchable or Sudra would contaminate them (Peart). All of these social rankings stem from
the Hinduism belief of reincarnation and samsara, and these rankings play a significant role in
the lives of people even today in India. There is a definite feeling of disgust towards lower caste
people, and the abuse of these people is justified by the Hindu belief that people of lower castes
must have bad karma in their past lives to get to where they are now. It is even said that the
Brahmins are the purest caste, while the Untouchables are the most polluted, and perform
polluted tasks such as sweeping streets for the Brahmin to preserve their purity (Fuller).
There are many relationships in India that are strongly influenced by Hinduism, as well.
To illustrate, the aforementioned caste system is important in Indian society, though it is now
illegal. Most people in India treat the Untouchables horribly, and force them to do jobs that
nobody else would ever think of doing, such as sweeping the streets and cleaning latrines (Peart).
Unlike in America, where the lower classes in society are pitied, Indians treat these people with
disgust because of the Hindu belief that you wind up in the life that you deserve to live. Instead

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of helping the lower class, Indians typically punish them for having such bad karma. Another
important relationship in India that is influenced by Hinduism is the one between Muslims and
Hindus. While the two groups have had troubles in the past because of their completely different
beliefs, they can live in harmony now (Banerjee). However, they are not allowed to marry or
have relations with each other, displaying that within India, there is divide between people
because of religion (Banerjee).
Finally, a third relationship that is strongly impacted by Hindu beliefs is one between
parents and children. During a PBS interview of the Gupta family living in India, Deepak Gupta
(the father) talks about his concern about children nowadays, who dont listen to their parents,
while, just a few years ago, they used to fear their parents (Gupta). He believes it is
advertisements found on television, billboard, etc., which are making children this way (Lazaro).
Now, India has religious based television channels, one of them being Aastha, which has a
variety of Hindu preachers and is meant to help forge a sharper sense of religious identity,
which displays the importance of religion in India and shows how parents truly want their
children to learn about how to behave based off of Hinduism traditions and ideals (Lazaro). The
people find it significant enough to create television channels in an effort to make it a prominent
part of society, therefore Hinduism must be valued in India.
To conclude, Hinduism plays a huge role in India. It affects Indias social structure,
interfaith relationships, and household relationships such as the one between children and their
parents. This can be shown through an analysis of the caste system and by examining
fundamental Hindu beliefs. Therefore, while India may technically be a secular country,
Hinduisms significant influence on Indias society proves that India is mostly based off of
religion (Banerjee).

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Works Cited
Banerjee, Proshanti. "Hinduism Shapes India's Caste System and Interfaith Relationships."
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. N.p., 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 Nov.
2015.
Basics of Hinduism. N.p., 2015. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
<http://www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/basics/nine-beliefs>.
Flood, Gavin. "Religion and Ethics: Hinduism." BBC. N.p., 24 Aug. 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Fuller, C. J. The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton UP, 1992. Google Scholar. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
"Hinduism and Modern India." PBS. N.p., 22 Jan. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
<http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2010/01/22/january-22-2010-hinduism-andmodern-india/5510/>.
Knoblock, Kathleen. Primary Source Fluency Activities. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell
Education, 2007. Google Scholar. Web. 5 Nov. 2015"Nine Beliefs of Hinduism."
Peart, Natalie. "Hindu Caste System- The Facts." Natalie Peart- Part of This World. N.p., 23
Oct. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
"WHI.21." Resources for History Teachers. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
<http://resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com/WHI.21>.
12674- Hindu Children of High Caste,. N.d. Bombay, India. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
<http://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3c00000/3c03000/3c03600/3c03634r.jpg>.

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