Essay on Spirituality in Classic India

Submitted By skerple
Words: 850
Pages: 4

Andrew Roney 9-18-12 Short Essay Assignment: Spirituality in the Indian Classics

The culture of classical India was no different than any previous civilizations. All civilizations strived to gain the three basic needs: food, shelter, and protection. While trying to achieve these three things, questions began to come up regarding the world. People began to wonder things such as, “How did the world begin?” and “Why are we here?” Since nobody understood how things worked or why things happened, they turned to religion, and by doing this, the people in India developed spirituality in order to gain an understanding of the world. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, spirituality can be defined as “sensitivity or attachment to religious values”. It can also be defined as “the quality or state of being spiritual”. To me, it seems as if the people of classical India defined spirituality as believing in a greater power and having beliefs that helped you understand the world. The reason I think this is because everyone strived to achieve nirvana and become free of reincarnation. Not everyone could be spiritual though. When Brahmanism was the main religion, the priests, or Brahmins, were the key to spiritualism. They created a sort of monopoly with religion and held all the spiritual power. Beneath the Brahmins were the warriors, then the merchants, next the laborers, and finally the untouchables (A History of World Societies). Regardless of who you were, you needed the priests for spiritualism. Since Brahmins couldn’t always make sense of what was happening in the world, people referred to collections of stories like the Rigveda. One story in particular, To Purusha, talked about a god named Purusha who had a thousand heads, eyes, and feet. The text states that, “He covered earth on every side, and spread ten fingers’ breadth beyond. This Purusha is all that yet has been and all that is to be;” The meaning behind this quote was simple to the ancient people. The story tells of a great being that created and covered the whole Earth. He is all there ever was and he is all that there will ever be. This story helped people cope and understand their world. People believed in this because they had no idea of what actually happened. They believed these stories and that’s all that religion is. Belief.
Eventually the people put their faith in something called Upanishads. This means that people began to believe in samsara, also known as reincarnation, and karma (A History of World Societies). This led more and more of the lower class people to follow this type of belief system. They wanted to live a life full of good deeds so they could be reborn in a higher class. This showed that people’s souls have always truly wanted to be in a better situation than they are already in. This helped push the belief that Brahmin’s weren’t necessary for bettering your soul. After the Upanishads, a new type of religion sprouted up. Siddhartha Gautama went on an ascetic journey and became “enlightened”. By doing this he reached the perfect insight into the process of the universe (A History of World Societies). This was the start of the religion known as Buddhism. Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as Buddha, which means the enlightened one, talked about the Four Noble