The Period Of South Asian History

2177 Words Nov 20th, 2014 9 Pages
Society and government in our day and age is much more secular than it has been for most of human history. In fact, many countries, such as the United States of America, even have laws built into their governments’ constitutions establishing a barrier between religion and government. But throughout humanity’s past, it was quite common across many diverse societies for religion and politics to overlap; religion often influenced politics and politics often used religion for practical purposes. In the process of trying to come up with a topic to research on South Asian history in the ancient and medieval periods, I was very interested in this relationship between religion and politics and knew I would want to pursue this topic in my paper. …show more content…
To examine the role of religion in politics in this historical period and region, a brief background on the primary religions that existed and their general characteristics is necessary. The first major religion of note was Brahmanism, which eventually evolved into the modern-day religion of Hinduism. Brahmanism originated as the religion of the Vedic Aryans and is described in their religious texts, the Rig Veda, which was introduced to India around 1500-1200 BCE. Brahmanism evolved as a religion, incorporating new spiritual aspects over time, but has always been polytheistic. In its earliest known traditions, this religion focused on honoring the Gods through sacrifices involving a sacred fire, and often required priests to be present to administer the sacrifices, but there were no temples. The social order established by this religion placed priests, known as Brahmins, at the top of the social hierarchy. Thomas R. Trautmann writes “the late Vedic texts, called Aranyakas and Upanishads,” (…) “direct[ed] the theory of the sacrifice away from the ritual itself toward the beginnings of philosophy.” Over time, Brahmanism took on some new doctrines, such as “the doctrines of Rebirth, Moral Causation, Release, and the Four Ages.” Rebirth is basically the concept of reincarnation, and Moral Causation was the
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