Essay Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1665 words and 8 pages.


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MIDTERM EXAMINATION

What is the relation, if any, of the concept of varna to the concept of karma?

Two major concepts of the Hindu religion are varna and karma. While at first glance it
may not appear that they are related, they in fact do have a direct correlation. The
combination of the caste system and the concept of karma have an important part in
explaining the consequences of life for the Hindu followers.

Varna refers to the caste system. The caste system was divided into four categories. The
Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas, and the Shudras. There were also the untouchables.
The Brahmins were the priests. The leaders were the Kshatriyas. The Vaisyas were the
common people and the Shudras were the servants. Your membership in a particular caste
was derived at your birth. If your mother was a Brahmin then you were a Brahmin for the
remainder of your life. You could not marry someone unless they were in the same caste
that you belonged to and in some cases they had to belong to the same sub caste.

The Law of Karma assumes that everything one does, each separate deed of one’s life,
weighed along with every other deed, determines destiny. (Noss) Whatever you do in your
life will have consequence in a later life. These consequences could be good or bad.
With enough good deeds one may become a Brahmin. On the other hand if your deeds were not
so great you might end up being a rock or a worm. Thus the Law of Karma and Varna relate
with one another.

With the caste system installed it was quite easy to discriminate against another person
of a lower caste, which also meant discrimination against color because varna can mean
class and color. Obviously a Shudra had done things in his previous life that had caused
him to be born in a lower caste. This gave the Brahmins incredible power. They believed
that they had earned their position through great deeds in previous lives and deserved to
be on top.

With only varna or only the Law of Karma there would be no way to judge yourself and your
progress in samsara. No one would be able to know if they were becoming closer to moksha
or drifting farther away into eternal death and re-birth. The junction of the two
concepts helped people’s beliefs and led on to the principles of modern day
Hinduism.


Explicate each, and compare and contrast with each other the concepts of animism,
polytheism (paganism), and (mono)theism.


Religious beliefs have existed since the beginning of man. Whether they wanted answers to
make themselves feel secure or to explain natural wonders man had to create something to
make it all make sense. While there are many different religious concepts three are very
prominent and include almost all of the world’s religions. These concepts are
animism, polytheism, and monotheism. While they are very different there are some
similarities.

Animism is considered the most ancient belief. Animism is the belief that all objects and
even storms have an individual spirit within. (Noss) When you dream it is because your
soul left your body and then returned. Every object was an individual. If you hurt a
tree then you were hurting an individual spirit. You could worship anything because
everything had a supernatural power within it. This led to other things such as totemism.
Tribes broke into groups who were set to worship one object while another group
worshipped another object. This kept everything that the tribe needed plenitful.

Polytheism is the belief in more that one god. An example of polytheism is the Greek
Gods. They had a ruler in Zeus but there were many gods and people could worship whomever
they wanted to.

Monotheism, also known as theism, is the belief in one single god. Many religions today
are monotheistic including Christianity and Judaism.

In animism the people can worship anything from another human to a certain tree. In
polytheism the people worship certain gods but animism could be interpreted as a
polytheistic religion because they worship more than one thing. The thought of
philosophers was that the history of religion started with first animism, then polytheism,
henotheism, monotheism, and finally atheism. A discerning voice was A. Wilhelm Schmidt.
He thought that monotheism was first.

Animism, polytheism, and monotheism do have their major differences. Through science many
of these religions have been eliminated. It will be interesting to see what religion
comes next.


Hinduism, in contrast to Western monotheism, has historically afforded to women a place of
high honor in its doctrines. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Please elaborate, and defend your answer.


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