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Religious and Gender Roles in Ancient India

  • Date Submitted: 10/19/2014 06:40 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.8 
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RELIGIOUS AND GENDER ROLES IN ANCIENT INDIA

Bureaucracy is the key to establishing a successful empire. In Ancient India, their bureaucratic system was the Caste System which was developed for social, economic, cultural and religious reasons. In this system, you were born into a particular caste and it would never change. The Law of Manu states that “the Exceedingly Resplendent One [the Creator of the Universe] assigned separate duties to the classes which had sprung from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet.” The Law of Manu divides the Indians into four different groups. The mouth of the Exceeding Resplendent One is the brahmins. This small, top caste is filled with those who study, teach and perform sacrificial rites and also makes others perform them as well. The next caste is a group called the kshatriya, the arms. This caste was responsible for the defense of the people and the performance of sacrificial rites, among other smaller duties. The third caste was the vaisya, the thighs. These were the commoners who performed duties like agricultural work and the performance of sacrificial rites. The lowest of the castes was a group called the sudra. These were the feet of the Creator. According to the Law of Manu, “the Lord has prescribed only one occupation for a sudra, namely, service without malice of even these other three classes.” Just as there was a strict caste system, the Law of Manu indicated strict gender rules. Women were considered unequal to men in every aspect of life. They had one role in society, women were “destined to bear children” and they were completely dependent upon their fathers until they were married and then the burden was transferred to their husbands. The Sermon at Benares shows a different viewpoint on religious and gender roles. Buddha had a different view of religion and purpose. He claimed there were four noble truths: life is suffering, suffering is caused by desire. One must end desire, and to follow what Buddha calls the...

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