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first post here in s&p in quite awhile, this is a rather rudimentary one.
Recently i've been taking a class in which i've learned some very basic things about the Hindu religion. Here in the united states buddhism, hinduism and islam are all pretty much ignored. most people don't know the first thing about any of them.
I guess the going pholosophy with hinduism is that everyone is part of this giant god named brahmin. your rank in society is determind by which part of his body you're from. how they determine this, i'm not sure. but, i guess if you come from his feet you might have a really shitty job. cleaning sewers, laying mudbricks, something like that. You have to do that job for the rest of your life, there is almost no social mobility.
However, if you are a good hindu, always do your job, keep your head down, don't complain etc. then in your next life you'll be born a step up. The idea is that eventually you'll reincarnate as part of brahmin's forehead. People from brahmin's forehead are high priests, they live in the lap of luxury and are even themselves called brahmin.
This creates sort of an interesting parralel, to me, between hindu and christian beleif structures. Although they developed independantly from one another. They both act to control people in almost exactly the same fashion, in my opinion at least.
Every society needs people to do the jobs that no one else wants to do, every society has a poor class, there's no getting around it.
So, how do you keep the have-nots from making a fuss over the have's? In christian society, if you're good, you get to go to heaven.
The powers that be tell everyone who is less than happy with their lives not to worry, their reward will be in heaven. Just an excuse not to try to build heaven here on earth.
footnote: yes i realize i only scratched the surface of the hindu religion. i realize that there are many, many more gods than just brahmin, that they have, over thousands of years, developed some of the most sophisticated and effective meditation techniques the world has ever known, and i know that i have much, much more to learn of their culture. but, none of these things were central to my point.
-------------------- We live in a world where lemonade is made with artificial flavours and furniture polish is made with all natural lemon.
im not linking this to say that you didnt touch on the important parts or anything like that, so dont take it that way.
But i agree with you 100% about the class system and making people do the work they dont want to. Our lives thrive on some people having shitty lives....just another way to make it happen, although the shudra dont actually get to take part in the traditions, they just get cast aside, at least by my understanding.
I viewed the traditions of hinduism that you focused on more to the point of getting people involved in the tradition. Letting you live your every day life, but still being part of a tradition that incorporates the most popular ascetic traditions that were just dying out. Let the crazy religious and not so crazy religious join together under the same temple.
"Human suffering has been caused because all too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence of a word in the dictionary does not mean it necessarily refers to something definitive in the real world"
--Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"
"It is the mind which creates the world about us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours."
"Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if he was surrounded by bread."