Ayodhya has been much in the news in recent years. Hindu extremists pulled down a Moslem mosque. The Hindus claimed the mosque had been built on the site of Rama's birthplace. The situation is very inflammatory and currently there is a stalemate, the government has fenced of the site and has it under armed guard. Muslims wish to rebuild their mosque, whereas Hindus wish to erect a temple to Rama on the spot.
One United Country
Many rulers and conquerors had tried to unite India in its thousands of years of civilisation, but it was not to be politically united until the colonisation of the British was finally completed in the 19th century. For most of its history India has been divided into kingdoms ruled by wealthy princes.
Despite these facts, as enshrined in the Mahabharata (1,000 BC) Indian people have held the belief that India is one nation.
The Caste System
The caste system is a basis for social division in Hindu society. Every Hindu is born a member of a caste or group; this will be the group to which the child's parents belong. All the castes are ranked in order of importance and, following the belief in reincarnation, your caste is determined by the deeds performed in your previous life.
There are four large groups in the Caste system called the four Varnas. The highest caste are the Brahmins, they are the purest caste who perform all religious ceremonies. The Kshatriya caste are rulers and warriors. The Verity caste is made up from craft and trades people. The Shudra caste is the caste to which all ordinary workers belong. There was a fifth group outside the caste system of 'untouchables' who were considered unclean and were given all the dirtiest jobs, but in modern India classifying people as 'untouchable' has been banned. All these caste groups have many sub-divisions called 'Jati'; these may decide a person's exact job.
A Religion for the Western World?
Most large towns in Britain have a t least one temple. There are relatively few non-Indian Hindus, but there is a growing interest among westerners in Hindu teachings. The search for inner peace and spiritual enlightenment holds great fascination in comparison to our materialistic world.
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