Aryans Brahmanism and Classical Hinduism all believe in nature gods. There doctrines revolve around things such as rain, oceans, sun, and other unique physical features. Shiva, Indra, Varuna, and Surya are the most important gods in these religious orientations. Even though Aryan is the religion, Brahmanism represents the sacrificial structures within which the Aryans serve their gods.
Brahmans, priests in this religion, are responsible for the conduct and execution of all rituals within the beliefs in this system. Therefore, Brahmans must offer rituals and sacrifices to the specific gods to protect believers from issues such as floods, famine, diseases, cyclones, tsunamis, and other natural calamities. This paper seeks to explore the similarities and differences between the Aryan Brahmanism and classical Hinduism.
Aryan Brahmanism draws its doctrines from the early times of ancient immigration of the early inhabitants of North West India around the Arya and Himalayas mountains. Despite such immigrants harboring highly distinct cultural orientation from the original inhabitants, the forces of existence compelled them to interact with the local cultures. Since the local cultures already held a bearing on the existence of some form of supreme natural force that checked issues such as floods and famines, the immigrants had to conform to such cultures. These coupled with the hostilities of the local populations, the immigrants and the locals reached a compromise to create a new form of system that served the mutual beliefs of the two groups of people.
In the Aryan Brahmanism, this doctrine states that humans lack souls. Underlying substances that regulate human behaviors and characters are non-existent. To the subscribers of this school of thought, five dynamic components form the basis of human existence (Moreman 30). These components include body, consciousness, karmic activities, feelings, and perceptions. For the believers, it is the combination of these components, which create human behaviors and characters, hence the argument of “no-self.”
Impermanence argument explores the dynamic nature of these components. In this argument, believers contend that every change creates the different cultures and characters. Due to the changes in the basic components of individuals, it follows that the existence of the self becomes invalid. Since changes in these components take place every minute of human life, it becomes evident that human self is a dynamic component that lacks a universal controller (Moreman 32).
According to the teaching of Aryan Brahmanism, when an individual dies, he/she is reborn into a new entity composed of different components discussed in Anatman above. Contrary to most religions that subscribe to the existence of immaterial souls that live after death, Arya Brahmanism teaches that the thoughts, perceptions, and feelings take an entirely new form at death until the achievement of Nirvana. Teachers and religious leaders in this religion teach the doctrine of rebirth differently. Despite these differences in the number of days taken for rebirth to take place, all believers in this religion subscribe to the believe that the total sum of the dynamic components of the previous life hold the greatest bearing to the new entity that comes at rebirth (Moreman 37).
Apart from excellence, security, purity, and freedom, Nirvana remains one of the greatest goals of Arya Brahmanism religion. From a black box perspective, Nirvana represents astate of complete freedom of the body from ills such as greed, hatred, and delusion. For the believers of this doctrine, once wisdom frees the embodiment of five components discussed in Anatman from emotional and psychological ills, human minds become free and joyful, thus do not require rebirth. Nirvana teaches doctrines of absolute cessations and freedom (Moreman 38).
In this doctrine, there exists a caste system of management and authority in the society. In order to outline the doctrines of this teaching clearly, the classical Hinduism describes four stages of the dynamic life components. The celibate student, also known as the Brahmacharin, represents the period of study and discipline. In this stage, an individual stays indoors with strict studying of the Vedas and the sciences with absolute disregard to human pleasures (Foulston and Abbott 44).
The Grihastha represents the second stage in this doctrine. After completion of the studentship stage, one enters this stage at marriage. It is at this stage that responsibilities and duties in the society set in within an individual’s life. In this religion, this stage is the most vital as it represents the pivot upon which lives of other individuals in the society rotates. The Vanaprastha, also known as the recluse represents the third stage of life in this doctrine. After completion of the householder stage of life, individuals retire into spiritual reverence with the higher orders in the society.
Individuals in this stage are free from the confinements of individual responsibilities and duties of serving the society. It is at this stage that one maximizes on spiritual nourishments and adequate study of scriptures. The last stage of life in this doctrine is the Sannyasin. Referred to as the Renunciate, this stage involves the denouncement all possessions, entire differences in the caste systems, every societal rites, and all attachments to regions, religion, doctrines, and schools of thought. The individuals in this stage live in alms and engage in constant meditations. This stage represents a state of absolute freedom of minds with unquestionable wisdom (Foulston and Abbott 55).
Oblation to fire
These teachings as evident among the Sankhayana Aranyaka believe that there exists a fire within individual human bodies. Apana represents important air going downwards, while Garhapatya represents the air circulating within the body. Anvaharyapacana represents the smoke that provokes flames of anger within self.
The teeth act as the burning charcoals that power the expression of anger. As the fists of all rites within this religion, oblation to fire takes place throughout human life until one becomes incapable of doing so due to old age. Fire acts as the physical and mental energy that drives the will to carry out activities. Since energy remains a basic requirement for human life, the recurrent fire takes place within in a systematic pattern encompassing all the five components of life, hence developing vision for human existence under the patterns of Veda (Foulston and Abbott 59).
Even though the two religions originated from Brahmanism, there are predominant differences. The differences are in key areas like the concept of Yoga, caste discrimination, aspects of conversion, and cosmology (Moreman 78). While Buddhism, just like Christianity and Islam, believed in the conversion and evangelism of its practices, classical Hinduism stayed away from this conception. The latter religion did not engage its followers in active conversion and evangelism of the beliefs and practices. Buddhism uses the term Yoga to designate any kind of spiritual exercise assumed, while Hinduism uses the term to mean the eight limps of yoga. Classical Hinduism went on to adopt and implement the caste distinctions of the Brahmanical religion as Buddhism criticized the caste system, implying a total rejection from Buddha (Young 37).
Classical Hinduism and Arya Brahmanism are all orthodox religious orientation among several people. However, the reverence within individuals in such societies confine their faith to the supreme power is unquestionable. Therefore, it is important to understand the drivers and core values subdued within these two religions in order to understand believes characters, and societal orientation of the believers from these two schools of thoughts.
Foulston, Lynn, and Stuart Abbott. Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices. Brighton, England: Sussex Academic, 2009. Print.
Moreman, Christopher. Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 2008. Print.
Young, William. The World’s Religions: Worldviews and Contemporary Issues. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.