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Religion, Poverty And Wealth Essay

1216 words - 5 pages

Religion, Poverty and Wealth

Poverty is now a problem on a global scale, and Hinduism has needed,
and will continue to need, to undertake an ongoing state of change and
adaptation. Many of the beliefs Hindus held only a couple of centuries
ago have been altered or even removed altogether. The globalisation of
Hinduism, bringing it into contact with a wide range of other cultures
and religions, has influenced this a lot. Hinduism, however, is full
of variations itself, so what is said of Hinduism may be true for some
Hindus, and false for others. Hinduism is less a religion, than a
culture, and way of life. This way of life affects how they view
poverty and wealth, and what there reactions to it are, as outlined

Unlike many other societies, where the caste system is based on power
or wealth, thus giving the poorest the least power, Hinduism has four
set castes, which a member belongs to by birth. These groups are
called varnas, and each has its own set of rules and duties to live
by, known as dharma. Too much inter-varna mixing, especially
intermarriage, is strongly disapproved of. The first, and highest
varna is that of a Brahmin-priests, teachers, and wisemen. The next is
Kshatriya-warriors, rulers, and leaders. The third is Vaishya-traders,
merchants, agriculture, and other work involved with commerce. The
final, and lowest varna is Sudra-manual labour and service. In many
societies, the difference between the high and the low, in terms of
social status, has caused great troubles, due to discontentment of the
poor and weak to continue living like they are. In Hinduism, however,
this problem is avoided, by the promise of being born into a better
life next time, and a higher varna, for those who follow the dharma
well. This attitude, of following the dharma above all else, mainly
comes from a Hindu text called the Bhagavad Gita, in which a powerful
prince and general has to go to war according to his class (Kshatriya)
dharma, but does not feel it is the right thing to do. His charioteer,
Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, tells and persuades him that
the most important thing is to follow your dharma, rather than be
guided by a judgement of right and wrong.

The varnas limit the jobs a Hindu may have, since it is only
appropriate for a Hindu to have a job suitable for their caste. A
priest should be a Brahmin, and a builder a Sudra. In recent times,
however, especially in the cities, these attitudes have been breaking
down somewhat, allowing members of lower varnas to fill professions
before filled only by higher ones. Today, in the cities, there are
some jobs reserved for the lowest, oppressed group, outside the caste
system-the 'dalits' or untouchables. Some occupations go against basic
Hindu beliefs, irrelevant of caste, making it unlikely to find a Hindu

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