Justice, Equality & Respect for Life

Justice, Equality & Respect for Life

Justice and Equality

The caste system

religious studiesThe caste system divides Hindus into five different Varnas (classes). In descending order of status, these are Brahmins (priests), Ksahtriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (skilled workers), Shudras (unskilled workers) and Harijans (untouchables). Some modern Hindus oppose the caste system because they believe it is oppressive while conservative Hindus support it.

Wealth and poverty

Hindus see no shame in wealth as long as it has been gained legitimately. They regularly give to charity, especially to their Mandirs. The act of giving is one way to accrue good Karma. An example of a Hindu charity with a global reach is Sewa International, which is inspired by the Hindu tradition of service before self.

The role and status of women

Traditionally men had to protect women although they were seen as inferior. Some important religious rites can only be carried out by men. Many modern Hindus argue that women should have equality with men.


Respect for Life

religious studiesHindu respect for life is based on the concept of Ahimsa, which includes the ideas that you should cause no harm and that violence should be avoided.


The Ahimsa principle means that Hindus do not allow abortion as it clearly harms the foetus, a living thing.


Hindus are divided on euthanasia. Some say that the Ahimsa principle means it is never permissible. Others argue it may be allowable if it helps to end someone’s suffering.

Environmental concerns

The idea of Karma teaches that people should act unselfishly, and this can include the way they act towards the environment which should be conserved.

Attitudes to animals

The majority of Hindus are vegetarian and no Hindu eats beef. Most Hindus believe that humans are superior to animals but the Ahimsa principle means that cruelty to animals is wrong.