The caste system had a very huge impact on ancient Hinduism, as well as the belief of rebirth and karma. Without those convictions, Hinduism would not have been what it was. The caste system told the people what responsibility they had based on the caste they were born into. The idea of good karma leading to reincarnation or rebirth into a better caste was used to keep people in line while also telling them how to live.
Every caste had a standard of what they were supposed to do. In the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, there was a war going on where both opponents had members of the same family in their army. Arjuna was one of those members. When he arrived at the battlefield he realized that his family would be killing each other, he did not believe this to be right. Since Arjuna was born into “kshaktriya rajput” (caste of warriors), he was told by Kṛṣṇa to “not yield to this degrading impotence” (2.3). Because Arjuna was a warrior, it looked weak of him to allow himself to be attached to family ties over doing his warrior responsibilities. He was expected to “give up such petty weakness of heart and rise” as he was called the “chastiser of the enemy” (2.4). Arjuna disagreed with fighting against his family but according to his caste, he had to do what he was born to do; which was fight any enemy put in front of him. It was all based on
Karma and rebirth were used to reinforce the responsibility of each caste. When Arjuna had uncertainty about whether or not to fight against members of his family, Kṛṣṇa attempted to persuade him that “No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul” (2.17) because “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time” (2.20). The Hindu religion believes that the body is just temporary for the soul and once the body is killed, the soul will just be reborn into another body. Putting this idea into the people’s head is what kept them doing what their caste was responsible for. The people believed that if you fulfilled your given responsibilities in whichever caste you were born into, you would have good karma which would ultimately lead to your rebirth into a higher caste. However, the opposite was also true. It was believed that anyone with bad karma would be reborn into a lower caste. Karma and rebirth were utilized in controlling Hindu followers.
The Hindu people believed...