The origin of Hinduism remains a topic of contention among analysts. The culture is believed to have originated and grown in the ancient Indus Valley civilization during the Vedic Period. Two theories exist that purport to explain how Hinduism grew; the cultural transformation notion and the Aryan migration perspective. The former theory holds that Hinduism resulted from a transformation of the Aryan culture that developed in the Indus Valley (Kumar 116). This theory refutes the claims of an Aryan migration and any ensuing invasions. The latter thesis holds that Hinduism is an agglomerate of religions that resulted from the migration of the Aryans and their interactions with elements of indigenous cultures that they encountered. The latter theory is more popularized and common since it explains not just the origin but also the spread of Hinduism throughout the Indian sub-continent.
The Indus Valley civilizations were monarchical in nature and headed by emperors who maintained and developed social systems over time. The Aryans were nomadic pastoralists who prior to their migration into mainland India had already developed and established a caste system with four major groupings; the Shudras, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, and Brahmins. The Shudras were composed of the serfs, Vaishyas the merchants, Kshatriyas the aristocrats, and Brahmins the priests. This segregation of people informed the Hindu culture tremendously. The prominent Hindu god Purusha is mythically believed to have been assembled by these four castes. The brahmins are believed to have taken the head of Purusha and the Shudras the feet. Analysts believe that the popular culture of Hinduism first gained mainstream consensus among the brahmins making it hard for the other castes to access it before its monumental spread afterward. The values and gods consistent with the Hindu culture were well introduced and explained in two Hindu poems; the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Kumar, P. Pratap. “Introducing Hinduism: The Master Narrative—A Critical Review of Textbooks on Hinduism.” Religious Studies Review 36.2 (2010): 115-124.