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The Story of India

Lesson 1: Tracking Early Hinduism

(Vedic Period, 15th – 5th Centuries BCE)

Objectives

  • Understand the foundation of Hinduism.
  • Consider and examine the ancient texts that defined Hinduism.
  • Develop an overarching understand of the complexity of Hinduism and its early development.
  • Review the major deities in Hinduism and their individual roles in the spiritual lives of Hindus.

Introduction

India remains one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world. Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians have a home in India. The oldest and most widely practiced religion in India, Hinduism, has deep roots in the subcontinent. Throughout the numerous political upheaval and foreign invasions, Hinduism remained the sole constant throughout the region’s history.

Hindu beliefs developed over the centuries and include many influences, including numerous sacred texts, thousands of deities, and holy sites that continue to draw millions of pilgrims.

Main Task

Create a scrapbook of images and text that highlights your virtual tour of the development of ancient Hinduism from the perspective of a foreign traveler just discovering this religion. Use images from the Internet (with appropriate citation) or create your own.

You should draw from the ancient texts to the stories of the gods to the holy sites along the banks of the Ganges River. Topics could include:

  • The importance of the Ganges River
  • Origins of Sanskrit
  • The Vedas and Mahabharata
  • The various gods

Brief Process

  1. Gain a basic understanding of Hinduism through the provided text and video resource.
  2. Create a persona that will go on this exploration of the largest Indian religion. You can draw from the many historical visitors and invaders who have come to India for trade and conquest – from the Romans to the Mughals to the British.
  3. Review and research five to seven topics from the provided text and video resources.
  4. Create a scrapbook page for each topic. Include basic information about the topic, the perception of your foreign visitor, and images that help illustrate the subject.

Resources

Hindu Gods:

Extension Ideas

  • If you personally are Hindu, write a journal that records your spiritual and pragmatic reflections when reading about these holy sites, ideas, and figures.
  • Use one of the many online multimedia–making tools for the creation of your project.
  • Blog your findings as if you are in the field recording your thoughts.
  • Team up with a classmate and write letters to each other about your thoughts and perceptions of various Hindu topics.

Standards

Era 2: Early Civilizations and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples, 4000 – 1000 BCE
Standard 1A: The student understands how Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley became centers of dense population, urbanization, and cultural innovation.
Grade Level Therefore, the student is able to:
5-12 Compare the forms of writing that developed in the three civilizations and how written records shaped political, legal, religious, and cultural life.
7-12 Compare the development of religious and ethical belief systems in the three civilizations and they legitimized the political and social order.
Era 3: Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires, 1000 BCE-300 CE
Standard 3D: The student understands religious and cultural developments in India in the era of the Gangetic states and the Mauryan Empire.
Grade Level Therefore, the student is able to:
7-12 Explain the major beliefs and practices of Brahmanism in India and how they evolved into early Hinduism.
Era 4: Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter, 300-1000 CE
Standard 1A: Imperial crises and their aftermath, 300-700 CE.
Grade Level Therefore, the student is able to:
5-12 Describe fundamental features of the Hindu belief system as they emerged in the early first millennium CE.