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The History of Hinduism



The History of Hinduism
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.37

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bhakti, changeless, deathless, late-night, nepal, niyamas, yamas, domination, entrancing, aggression, predecessor, secular, untouchables, recognition, menial, restraint
     content words:    Indus River, Ganges River, Some Hindus, Golden Age, Mahatma Gandhi, Southeast Asia


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The History of Hinduism
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Hinduism is so old that no one knows exactly how it began. Most scholars think that it began about 3,000 years ago near the Indus River of northwestern India. It spread across India and then to the rest of Asia. Even though some Asian countries later made Islam or Buddhism their state religion, Hinduism is still the major religion of the people of India. Colorful roadside shrines and the tinkling of temple bells in Asia are constant reminders of Hinduism.
 
2     Hinduism has no original founder and no single holy text. The first Hindu teachers were called Brahmins. They passed down the teachings of Hinduism through oral stories at first. Later, the stories became the Rig-Veda, which was written down in 1,500 B.C. These teachings may have come from a people called the Aryans whose language may have been the predecessor of Sanskrit.
 
3     The Aryans were nomadic warriors who dominated northern India between 3,000 and 1,500 B.C. Later, they moved down into southern India where they met powerful local tribes. We don't know a lot about the Aryans because they left no cities behind for archaeologists to study. These nomads finally settled near the Ganges River around 400 B.C.
 
4     In the centuries before the birth of Christ, a mysterious author/authors (or authoress/authoresses) wrote two important Hindu scriptures, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Both of these epic poems tell stories involving kings and conflicts. They convey many truths in an entrancing, poetic form. During these centuries, India was divided into kingdoms that were ruled by rich princes.
 
5     A certain order of society in India was firmly established. This became known as the caste system, and it was based on another ancient Hindu text called the Bhagavad-Gita. The legend said that out of the mouth of a god came the scholars and priests. Rulers and warriors came from the god's arms. From the god's thighs came the merchants and farmers. The servants and laborers came from the god's feet. A last group, called the "untouchables," performed some of the most menial labor in society, such as cleaning bathrooms and sweeping the streets.

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