Term Paper: Hinduism Is Among the Oldest Religions

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Hinduism is among the oldest religions in the world. It is a total way of life that evolved by the great sages and seers of ancient India, with traditions that extend back before recorded history (Tribute pp). Although the early phase of the Vedic tradition is dated between 10,000-7,000 BCE, Hinduism is a living tradition (Tribute pp). India remains today a predominantly Hindu country, with its ethos that have evolved down the ages through its ancient traditions, customs, philosophy and culture (Tribute pp).

In all Hindu traditions, the Universe is said to precede not only humanity, but also the gods, and fundamental to Hindu concepts of time and space is the motion that the external world is not solid and real, but illusionary (Hindu pp).

India is rooted in a timeless universe of eternal return: everything that happens has already done so many times before, though in different guises (Hindu pp). Hinduism arose from the discoveries of people who believed they had gained an insight into the nature of reality through deep meditation and ascetic practices (Hindu pp). According to the Prashasta Pada:

After a cycle of universal dissolution, the Supreme

Being decides to recreate the cosmos so that we souls can experience worlds of shape and solidity.

Very subtle atoms begin to combine, eventually generating a cosmic wind that blows heavier and heavier atoms together. Souls depending on their karma earned in previous world systems, spontaneously draw to themselves atoms that coalesce into an appropriate body" (Hindu pp).

The Caste System, or varna-ashrama, is said to be the mainstay of the Hindu social order, yet it has no sanction in Vedas (Caste pp). India's ancient culture was based upon a system of social diversification according to spiritual development, not by birth, but by his karma (Caste pp). This system became hereditary and over the course of many centuries degenerated as a result of exploitation by some priests, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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