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UNIT 5: Early Belief Systems

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism

In the last millennium BCE, social turmoil and increased interaction between peoples also led to the development of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism. In India in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, Indo-European invaders melded indigenous Indian beliefs with their own. The result, Hinduism, provided some of the core concepts that would later be incorporated into Buddhism, including the notion of samsara (recurring cycles of life), dharma (duty), and karma (the results of one's actions).

In Persia in the sixth century BCE, a priest named Zoroaster postulated a cosmological vision of two gods — one good, one evil. He also postulated a heaven and hell rather than an endless cycle of rebirth.

In the same century, Hebrews in Palestine developed a similar belief in good and evil, heaven and hell. They also came to believe that there was only one god who would not tolerate the worship of any others, and that humans should behave morally. Together, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism provided the foundation and context for the development of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Peter Langer, ZOROASTRIAN FIGURE IN PERSEPOLIS (n.d.). Copyright Peter Langer, Associated Media Group.

Joseph ben David of Leipnik, THE ISRAELITES, HAVING CROSSED THE RED SEA, WATCH THE EGYPTIANS DROWNING (1740). Courtesy of The British Library.


Henry Winkles, IMAGES OF HINDU COSMOLOGY AND GODS (1851). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Anonymous, HINDU WHEEL OF LIFE (n.d.). Copyright Peter Langer, Associated Media Group.



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