Sramana broke with Vedic Hinduism over the
authority of the Brahmins and the need to follow ascetic lives.
Understand the Sramana movement
Sramana was an ancient Indian
religious movement with origins in the Vedic religion. However, it took a divergent
path, rejecting Vedic Hindu ritualism and the authority of the Brahmins—the
traditional priests of the Hindu religion.
Sramanas were those who practiced an ascetic, or
strict and self-denying, lifestyle in pursuit of spiritual liberation. They are commonly known as monks.
A member of a caste in Vedic Hinduism, consisting of priests and teachers who are held as intermediaries between deities and followers, and who are considered the protectors of the sacred learning found in the Vedas.
A person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention from worldly pleasures as a way of seeking spiritual enlightenment and freedom.
was an ancient Indian religious movement that began as an offshoot of the Vedic
religion and gave rise to other similar but varying movements, including
Buddhism and Jainism. Sramana, meaning "seeker," was a tradition that began around
800-600 BCE when new philosophical groups, who believed in a more austere path to spiritual
freedom, rejected the authority of the Brahmins (the priests of Vedic Hinduism). Modern Hinduism can be regarded as a
combination of Vedic and Sramana traditions; it is substantially influenced
Vedic Religion was the historical predecessor of modern Hinduism. The
Vedic Period refers to the time period from approximately 1750-500 BCE, during
which Indo-Aryans settled into northern India, bringing with them specific
religious traditions. Most history of this period is derived from the Vedas, the
oldest scriptures in the Hindu religion. Vedas, meaning "knowledge,"
were composed by the Aryans in Vedic Sanskrit between 1500 and 500 BCE, in the northwestern
region the Indian subcontinent.
are four Indo-Aryan Vedas: the Rig Veda contains hymns about their mythology;
the Sama Veda consists mainly of hymns about religious rituals; the Yajur Veda
contains instructions for religious rituals; and the Atharva Veda consists of
spells against enemies, sorcerers, and diseases. (Depending on the source
consulted, these are spelled, for example, either Rig Veda or Rigveda.)
Sramana movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century
BCE. Sramana existed in parallel to,
but separate from, Vedic Hinduism. The dominant Vedic ritualism contrasted with
the beliefs of the Sramanas followers who renounced married and domestic life
and adopted an ascetic path, one of severe self-discipline and abstention from
all indulgence, in order to achieve spiritual liberation. The Sramanas rejected the
authority of the Brahmins, who were considered the protectors of the sacred
learning found in the Vedas.
is a caste, or social group, in Vedic Hinduism consisting of priests and
teachers who are held as intermediaries between deities and followers. Brahmins
are traditionally responsible for religious rituals in temples, and for reciting
hymns and prayers during rite of passage rituals, such as weddings.
India, Sramana originally referred to any ascetic, recluse, or religious
practitioner who renounced secular life and society in order to focus solely on finding religious
truth. Sramana evolved in India over two phases: the Paccekabuddha, the tradition of the individual ascetic, the “lone
Buddha” who leaves the world behind; and the Savaka, the phase of disciples, or
those who gather together as a community, such as a sect of monks.
A "tradition" is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society, with symbolic
meaning or special significance. Sramana traditions drew upon established Brahmin concepts to
formulate their own doctrines.
Sramana traditions subscribe to diverse philosophies, and at times significantly disagree
with each other, as well as with orthodox Hinduism and its six schools of Hindu philosophy.
The differences range from a belief that every individual has a soul, to the
assertion that there is no soul. In terms of lifestyle, Sramana traditions include
a wide range of beliefs that can vary, from vegetarianism to meat eating, and from family
life to extreme asceticism denying all worldly pleasures.
varied Sramana movements arose in the same circles of ancient India that led to
the development of Yogic practices, which include the Hindu philosophy of
following a course of physical and mental discipline in order to attain liberation from
the material world, and a union between the self and a supreme being or principle.
Sramana traditions drove the so-called Hindu synthesis after the Vedic period, which spread to southern Indian and parts of Southeast Asia. As it spread, this
new Hinduism assimilated popular non-Vedic gods and other traditions from local
cultures, as well as the integrated societal divisions, called the caste system.
Sramaṇa traditions later gave rise to Yoga, Jainism, Buddhism, and
some schools of Hinduism. They also led to popular concepts in all major Indian religions, such as saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death, and moksha, liberation from that cycle.