Religious traditions saw significant changes between 700 and 1750. Several significant developments happened in Hinduism during this time period. The worship of new deities and the building of temples by rulers began. The status of Brahmanas and priests grew. They started receiving gifts instead of fees.
In Judaism, the Babylonian Exile ended when Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return home (about 536 BC). About a quarter of the people went back, but most stayed in Babylon. Over time, more Jews came to believe that God should be worshiped alone, not along with idols (the old religion was mixed religion - it included elements of idolatry along with faith in God). This change led to the emergence of Christianity.
During the Hellenistic period, many Jewish scholars learned Greek and traveled around the empire teaching Torah. They also wrote commentaries on the Prophets and Psalms. Today, these texts are called "Midrash." In addition, several new sects appeared within Judaism. Most notable among them was the Essenes, who lived near Judea's Dead Sea and believed in spiritual purity. They had rules about food, clothing, and sleep and lived mostly alone.
The Pharisees were a political group that wanted to run Israel according to the law. They checked people's deeds against the Law and taught them how to live righteously.
Hinduism has seen some of the most significant religious advancements. The new developments were the worship of new deities, the construction of temples by kings, and the rising significance of Brahmanas, or priests, as dominating groups in society.
The earliest evidence of a king being worshipped as a deity comes from the Indus Valley Civilization. The first known worshippers of gods from outside India were the Egyptians. They had many gods borrowed from India, such as Osiris, Dionysos, and Apis. However, the Greeks also had a way of naming their own gods after Indian ones; for example, Zeus is equivalent to Vishnu. Jesus is believed to have been born around 6 B.C. and to have lived on Earth in what is now Palestine. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate and died at the age of 30. Although there are differences between the Hindu and Christian religions, they do share some similarities too. For example, both religions have many rules regarding food and diet. Also, both religions have some aspects of ritual purity code called "pancha karma". This means "five actions" - good deeds - that will eventually earn you salvation.
There are many other religions in India, but they all belong to the broader category of "non-Islamic faiths". These include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. India's population is the largest in the world with over 1.25 billion people.
Rigid caste norms, new coinage, and language obstacles were major contributors in the creation of new religious cults. The increasing use of silver as a currency tool for trade was one of the main factors that caused the introduction of new gods.
The first question that comes to mind when discussing the reasons that led to the emergence of new religions in the 6th century BCE is: why so many new religions? The answer lies in the fact that most of them did not survive the initial period when they were founded, with only a few having survived up until today.
Besides rigid caste norms that forced outlower-caste people from important positions in the temples and in the administration of some religions, language barriers also played an important role in the formation of new religions. For example, the Brahmins, who made up the priestly class of Hinduism, didn't speak any common language. They used Sanskrit, which was already being used for writing legal documents and complex philosophical texts, as well as for singing prayers to their own god. This made it difficult for them to communicate with people outside the upper castes.
The idea of a separate class of people called "Caste" came about when the old tribal system broke down and there was no longer any guarantee of protection from hostile tribes or foreign invaders.
The presence of Greek culture along India's west coast made its way into Indian history through trade. The Indians learned about Athens, Sparta, and Corinth from their traders and visitors who brought back stories about these famous cities.
The most important visitor from Greece to turn up in Indian history was Alexander the Great. He invaded India in 326 B.C. and killed almost everyone involved with the old religion before moving on to other places. After his death, his generals divided up his empire; but since they could not agree on which one of them should be king, they decided to let their armies fight it out until one winner remained.
The story goes that King Darius sent an army to help his general Alexander who had gone too far into India. But the Indians defeated the Persian force, took Alexander's horses, and used them to ride into battle against Darius. This victory allowed their countryman Parmenio to take over the kingdom of Macedonia and make himself king.