12-year-old Kumar and the Vedic Society

  • A glimpse into the life of Kumar, a 12-year-old boy studying the Vedas in ancient India.
  • The complex social structure of the Vedic society, with its four varna or classes, explained.
  • The belief in rebirth and the pursuit of a higher class through good deeds in Vedic culture.
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お願いします!続き Imagine a 12-year-old boy named Kumar who was getting ready to study the Vedas.On a typical day,Kumar awoke to the sounds of his mother getting breakfast ready and his older sister sweeping the kitchen in preparation for the morning rituals.The kitchen would have been located in an open courtyard in the northeastern part of the house,the purest and most holy part of the home.The sun hit this area first,warming the mud-plastered walls and bringing light to the courtyard.On cold mornings,Kumar might well have wished that he had been born a girl.His sister got to stay at home and help their mother in he warm kitchen,but he had to bathe in the ice-cold river in the fog before his morning worship of the sun deity Surya. One of the first things Kumar learned as a child was that there were four different varna,or classes of people.In reality,society was a lot more complex,with many different communities.The Vedas taught that the four varna came from the body of Purusha,the cosmic being whose sacrifice resulted in the creation of the universe.The Brahmins,the class of priests,came from the head of Purusha.The Kshatriyas,the warriors and kings,came from his arms,while the Vaishyas,or merchants,came from his thighs,and the Shudras,or peasants,from his feet. The peoples of the late Vedic period believed that people were born into the varna they deserved.If people lived good lives,they would be reborn into a higher class.When people kived such good lives that they became perfect,they united with the cosmic being.

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ベーダを勉強する準備をしていたクマールという名の12才の男の子を想像してください。典型的な日には、朝食を用意している彼の母と朝の儀式に備えて台所を掃いている彼の姉の音で、クマールは目をさましました。台所は、家の北東の一角の開いた中庭にあり、家の最も清らかで最も神聖な部分でした。太陽は最初にこの場所を照らし、泥で固めた壁を暖め、中庭に光を届けました。 寒い朝は、クマールは、自分が女の子として生まれたらよかったのにと思いました。彼の姉は家にいて、彼らの母を暖かい台所で手伝わなければなりませんでした、しかし、彼は太陽神スルヤの朝の礼拝をする前に氷のように冷たい川で沐浴しなければなりませんでした。 子供の頃にクマールが学んだ最初のことの一つは、4つの異なるバルナすなわち人々の階級があるということでした。実際、多くの異なるコミュニティがあって、社会はもっと複雑でした。ベーダの教えによれば、4つのバルナはプルシャの身体に由来していました、プルシャはそれが犠牲となって宇宙の創造につながった宇宙的存在でした。聖職者階級であるバラモンは、プルシャの頭に由来しました。武人や王であるクシャトリアは彼の腕に由来していてました、他方、商人のバイシャは彼の腿に、シュードラすなわち百姓は、彼の足に由来していました。 後期ベーダ期の民族は、人々が彼らにふさわしいバルナに生まれると思っていました。人々が良い人生を送るならば、彼らはより高い階級に生まれ変わることになります。人々が良い人生を過ごし完璧になった時、彼らは宇宙の存在と一体となるのでした。





  • 日本語訳を!c11-3

    お願いします!続き As a child,Kumar learned to recite the names of his male ancestors beginning with his father and going back many generations.He was proud of his father's family line,but he was also proud that his mother belonged to the second most important class:the Kshatriya,who were the warriors and politicians.(During Vedic times,people from different varna could marry,but in later periods this practice was discouraged and eventually banned.) Kumar walked to the river for his bath with other boys.Some of them may have been from the Kshatriya or Vaishya class.Their fathers were warriors,landowners,merchants,or important community leaders.On the road they passed another group of boys who were driving oxen pulling a heavy plow to the fields.These boys were from the lowest class,the Shudra.Shudras worked the land and butcheredanimals or made leather harnesses.Eventually,because the work that they did was considered unclean,they were not allowed to learn the sacred hymns and prayers calked mantras. As a Brahmin,Kumar's job was to keep the world from ending by making sacrifices to the deities,which he could only do if he was pure.This was the Brahmins' sacred duty,not just eor themselves,but for everyone in the community,including the Kshatriyas,Vaishyas,and even the Shudras.It was an important responsibility.

  • 日本語訳を!c13-6

    お願いします!続き  Back among mere mortals,the Brahmin men were taught the sacred scriptures and conducted sacrifices. And that was the main job they were born to do. In early Vedic times,every kind of responsibility was delegated to a particular group,or varna.For example,people of the Kshatriya group owned land,fought wars,and ran the government.The members of the Vaishya varna became craftsmen and traders.The Shudra group worked the land,swept the streets,emptied the latrines,and collected garbage and dumped it outside the city.Although at first it was possible for people to move from one varna to another,changing places was discouraged,and after about 1000 BCE,it was not allowed at all.  Based on what varna you were born into,your career was decided for you.Any say you had in the matter was narrowed even further by whether you were a boy or a girl.Brahmin boys learned the rituals and scriptures that their fathers,brothers,and uncles did.Brahmin girls and women fed and clothed their families and cared for the young,the elderly,and the sick.They also performed religious rituals,especially the daily worship of the female deity who protects the home and family.Many aspects of women's worship was not part of the early Vedic scriptures-it was handed down from mother to daughter from very ancient times.  We don't know very much about women and men from the lower classes,because the records we have,the Vedas,the Mahabharata,and the Ramayana,are about the upper classes.Many scholars believe that the need to earn a living meant that men and women worked together more equally among the other classes than they did among the Brahmins.Non-Brahmin women were allowed and even encouraged to get an education and sometimes were trained in warfare.

  • 日本語訳を!!

    お願いします (1) Ising of war and of that man who first came in exile from the shores of Troy to the coast of Italy. He was battered on land and sea by divine violence,... He had to suffer much in war until he built a city.... From him came the Latin people,...and the high walls of Rome. (2) With his homeland in enemy hands and his city in flames, Prince Aeneas, son of the goddess Venus, led a small group of Trojans to sea. After many months of being tossed about by fierce winds and storms, the travelers finally anchored their ships near the mouth of the Tiber River in Italy. Yet no sooner had they landed than the men began to plan another voyage. (3) This appalled the Trojan women. As the Greek historian Dionysius records the story, a noblewoman named Roma secretly took the women aside and suggested that they take matters into their own hands. “Tired of wandering,”the others listened eagerly. “Roma stirred up the... Trojan women”and suggested a simple plan. They all agreed, and “together, they set fire to the ships.” (4) At first the men were furious, but pretty soon they realized that the women had done the right thing. They had landed in a perfect spot. With mild weather and beautiful countryside―a cluster of hills just 15 miles from the sea―why should they leave? The men were so pleased that they named the place after Roma, the rebellious wife.

  • 日本語訳を!c14-6

    お願いします!  He did not speak in the fancy Sanskrit used by Brahmin priests,but instead in simple,easy-to-understand words in the local languages.He quickly became very popular and had soon gathered a large following,called a sangha-a community.His followers included princes and common people,kings,and farmers-inside of the sangha,no one bothered about varna,or class.When Buddha died at the age of 80,he was cremated and his ashes were distributed and buried in dome-shaped monuments called stupas.His followers continued his work.They wore simple yellow robes and traveled around the country eight months of the year preaching the Four Noble Truths that the Buddha had taught them.  The Buddha preached Four Noble Truths that helped a person gain release from the process of rebirth.This ultimate freedom is called nirvana.It is a state in which the individual's sense of him- or herself ceases to exist and there is nothing to be reborn.Instead of focusing on“me”and“mine,”a person who follows the teachings of Buddha begins to learn how to focus on“everything and nothing”at the same time.  Early Buddhist religious practices stayed away from what they thought were difficult and snobby rituals and costly sacrifices.Simple rituals included meditation,pilgrimages,and offerings of food to pilgrims.Eventually,faithful Buddhists began to build burial monuments,meditation halls,monasteries,and sacred monuments to remind each other about the Buddha and his teachings.

  • 日本語訳を!c11-1

    お願いします!  Imagine you could watch the history of the world as a super-fast movie shot from outer space.If you were watching the South Asian subcontinent,things would look about the same from about 3000 to 2000 BCE with cities,villages,and crops sprinkled throughout the Indus Valley.But about 2000 BCE,the scene would start to change dramatically.Some of the old settlements along what used to be the Saraswati River would disappear as the once-great river dried up.Then you would see spaces opening up in the jungles along the Yamuna and Ganga River valley as new communities moved in.These communities cut down and burned trees to make room for towns,cities,and fields of summer crops watered by the monsoon,such as rice and millet.  We know a lot more about these new communities than we do about the Harappans because we have their scriptures,called the Vedas.The Vedas are a collection of hymns,narratives,and religious instructions in the Sanskrit language.Sanskrit was not written down at first ,and the Vedas were only passed on through memorizatiom.How much can you memorize? Could you memorize a poem? A story? How about a whole book? How about memorizing a whole book by repeating back what your teacher tells you,without having words to look at? How about a whole lot of books? The Vedas were so important that students spent 10,15, or even 20 years studying and memorizing them so that they would not be lost from generation to generation.Young boys who belonged to a class of people called Brahmin had to learn the alphabet of the sacred language of Sanskrit before they could begin to learn the hundreds of sacred texts in the Vedas.

  • 日本語訳を!c13-4

    お願いします!続き  Shiva wears a pair of mismatched earrings.This jewelry represents his masculine side and his feminine side.The one in his right ear is in the shape of a crocodile-like creature.That one represents his masculine nature.His other earring is circular with a hole in the middle.It represents his feminine nature.Sometimes Shiva is shown half male and half female to symbolize fertility.And sometimes Shiva is completely female.Then Shiva is known as Devi or the Mother Goddess.Devi changes her form depending on the circumstance.She can be either destructive or loving and gentle.Durga and Kali are terrible and extremely blondthirty forms of this deity.Although they seem frightening,Durga and Kali are not out to get good people.They are there to destory evil and demons.The Mother Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity,and Saraswati,the Goddess of Learning and Music.  Shiva was not the only deity that people began paying more attention to about 1000 BCE.People began telling more and more stories about Vishnu.Vishnu takes on a special form(called an avatar)and appears on earth to save people whenever some major obstacle or evil power threatens the universe.Krishna,who drives the chariot of Prince Arjuna in the Mahabharata,is actually Vishnu appearing as a charioteer in order to lead the embattled prince to victory.Vishnu's job is to maintain the balance between good and evil in the universe.From time to time,it becomes necessary for Vishnu to destroy the universe,because there is too much evil and it has to be purified.But after a period of rest,the whole cycle of existence begins again.

  • 日本語訳を!c12-3

    お願いします!続き  Archaeologists have found some of the things talked about in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.Both of the poems describe warriors and rulers gambling with dice(the good guys always lose everything because the bad guys cheat!).Sure enough,archaeologists have found colored counters and rod-shaped dice dating from that time-they look a lot like dice still used in India today.They have also found soapstone molds for gold and silver jewelry;horse bones;and iron,brass,and bronze tools.  The Ramayana is a Sanskrit poem written by Valmiki sometime after 400 BCE.The Ramayana tells the story of Prince Rama and his lovely wife,Sita.Rama,an earthly form of Vishnu,is a noble and ideal person.Valmiki describes himself as a leader and a father to everyone:“As a father to his children,to his loving men he came.”Unforttnately,Rama's father had three wives,including-Rama's mother and stepmother,Kaikeyi.The king is about to name Rama as his heir when Kaikeyi reminds the king that he has promised that he will grant her two wishes.She wants the king to send Rama into exile for 14 years and to make her son,Bharata,the crown prince.  While Rama is in exile with his wife,Sita,and his younger brother,Lakshmana,an evil ten-headed demon named Ravana captures Sita and takes her to his palace.Rama and his brother spend the next year searching for her,eventually helped by an army from the kingdom of the monkeys.(Monkeys are considered sacred throughout most of South Asia because of the help they gave Rama and Sita.)

  • 日本語訳を!c13-5

    お願いします!続き  In sculpture,Vishnu often has four hands,each holding a symbol of his power.Two hands are not enough to rid the world of evil.In one hand he holds a conch shell which,just like Shiva's,symbolizes his power.In another hand,he wields a razor-sharp disk,a weapon that symbolizes the way intelligence can destroy all evil(the disk is called a chakra).In another hand,Vishnu holds a lotus,a flower that grows in water.Lotuses are rooted in mud but they blossom above the water.Vishnu's lotus is a symbol of his creative force and lordship over the universe.In his fourth hand,Vishnu holds a club or mace,which is a symbol of his power and knowledge.  Shiva and Vishnu are sometimes shown together with Brahma in art.Brahma,who should not be confused with Brahman,the Ultimate Supreme Being,is the oldest of the three major Hindu deities.Although all three deities are mentioned in the Vedas,Shiva and Vishnu didn't become really popular until later.In the Ramayana,Brahma himself says that“Of the Trinity,I am the Creator,Shiva is the Destroyer,and Vishnu is the Protector.”  Brahma rides a swan or goose to symbolize purity,detachment,and divine knowledge.Brahma represents the balance between forces that destroy and fragment the universe and those that create and unite.He is usually shown with four heads,facing north,south,east,and west,so that he can see everything(at one point he actually had a fifth head,but that was cut off by Shiva during a fight).His heads also represent the four Vedas and the four groups that people are divided into(called varnas).He is often shown with four arms that hold symbolic objects: a special pot with a spout that is used for ritual cleansing and represents the earth,the sustainer of all things; palm-leaf manuscripts,which represent the Vedas; prayer beads that he uses to recite prayers; and the sacred conch shell that calls the deities to sacrifices.

  • 日本語訳を!c11-4

    お願いします!続き Kumar was preparing for his initiation along with some other boys from his class.When that day arrived,his mother and sister plastered the courtyard of their home with a fresh layer of clay mixed with sacred cow manure.Cows were holy,and their manure mixed with clay purified the space needed for the special ritual.(Many harmful bacteria do not grow in cow manure,so this practice actually did keep things clean.Grass fibers in the manure did something else,too,it made the plaster of the walls stronger.)Kumar's family built small,square fire altar in the center of the courtyard with four rectangular fired bricks that his mother and sister also plastered with clay and manure. When everything was ready,Kumar's father and two other priests brought out the special tools to kindle the sacred fire.One man held a wood plank,and a second man held a wooden drill.Kumar's father pulled back and forth on a cord wrapped around the thick wooden drill,so that the drill tip pressed into the wood board.After a few turns,the tip of the stick rtarted to smoke,and soon the charred wood powder that built up in the hearth began to glow.One of the priests blew on the glowing embers and added a bit of dry kindling soaked in butter until the sacred fire-Agni-sprang to life. Once the fire was going,Kumar's father recited a hymn to Agni,inviting the deity to the altar to receive the sacrifice: May your offerings,oblations,directed to heaven Come forth with the butter ladle. Agni goes to the deities,seeking their favor. Having been called,Agni,sit down for the feast.

  • 日本語訳を!c9-4

    お願いします!続き After about a month of travel,the ship from Dholavira arrived at the delta of the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers.Here they paused until the captain could hire a local fisherman to help guide the ship through the treacherous channels of the delta before it arrived at last in the great city of Ur. Many people of the Indus Valley had made the trip before,and some of them had probably settled there to live.The captain most likely would have contacted a merchant originally from the Indus Valley to help convert Mesopotamian weights and measures and interpret for his Akkadian-speaking customers. The people of southern Mesopotamia may have paid for some of their goods with fine embroidered woolen shawls and blankets.They might also have traded in silver from Anatolia,which was widely used in Mesopotamia,and perhaps even in the more valuable gold bangles from Egypt.These simple,round bracelets were a convenient way to measure and carry gold,and could be melted down and made into other objects. On the slower return journey,the captain stopped at Dilmun,the island that today is called Bahrain,and traded Mesopotamian silver and textiles for pearls from the Persian Gulf.He also stopped at Magan,in what is now Oman,for copper and large,heavy seashells. Finally,around the beginning of June,the captain would have seen the long red flag at the top of his mast begin to flap in the southwesterly winds.That meant it was time to set sail and catch the winds before the monsoon became too strong.After filling the water pots,he and his crew headed east to the mouth of the Indus and the Gulf of Kutch.The whole trip took almost five months,but he was coming home with a ship full of valuable things that he could sell for a good profit in Dholavira and up the Indus River at Mohenjo Daro.