Indian religions

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The Dharmic religions all originated in India and share a number of common beliefs. They offer varied styles of gameplay depending on which religion you choose. Hinduism offers military benefits, Buddhism offers technology, and Jainism offers stability.

Common features[edit]

Although historically conflicts did occur (especially resulting in Jainism being routed by Hinduism), in-game, all three religions are relatively tolerant of each other, getting no increased revolt risk in provinces of the other religions and only a minor (-10) relations penalty with rulers of the other religions. Similarly, none of the religions have heresies; instead, different sects of each religion coexist peacefully, with followers of different sects having a small -5 relations penalty. None have formal religious heads, though all have five holy sites. There is no great holy war mechanic. Followers of Indian religions have no modifier for following a female ruler. Indian holy orders always exist as long as RoI is active.

Followers of one of the religions may, once in their lifetime, convert by decision to another Indian religion, at the cost of some prestige. This allows the members of a dynasty to switch to the religion whose features are best for their current needs. For example, the founder of a dynasty might practice Hinduism for its military benefits, while successors might adopt Jainism to peacefully govern their realm. You must control a province of the religion in question in order to convert. Characters with the Zealous  trait cannot convert.

The Indian religions have a Subjugation casus belli, usable on de jure kingdoms held by other Indians. The target must be in the same cultural group to use the CB, which also costs 500 piety (karma or purity) to use. It can only be used once per lifetime, so make certain that you will win before using it. If targeting another religion, the defender will likely hire their respective holy order to assist in the defense, assuming they have the 280 piety needed to do so. If they do, expect to encounter an additional 5 to 10 thousand troops beyond what the defender would normally possess, depending on the defender's religion. The Hindu holy order is the largest, making it more difficult for other Indian religions to subjugate Hindu rulers.

With Monks and Mystics, each Dharmic religion has its own monastic society, and can also access Lucifer's Own (in the form of a malevolent cult of Kali).


Jains and Buddhists (but not Hindus) can designate one of their children as heir, regardless of the child's age relative to their siblings. However, the choice cannot override gender law: a ruler with agnatic-cognatic succession and an eligible son cannot designate a daughter.

Feudal rulers are generally restricted to elective gavelkind, gavelkind, primogeniture, and ultimogeniture succession laws. In particular, they can never use seniority succession, and they can only switch to feudal elective with Conclave and full council authority.

These restrictions force most low-tech realms to use gavelkind. However, players have some options that AI rulers don't consider:

  • Players with Conclave can voluntarily enact full council authority in order to implement feudal elective succession.
  • Players without Conclave can enact ultimogeniture before primogeniture becomes available. If the religion supports heir designation, ultimogeniture is equivalent to primogeniture as long as the ruler has children.
  • An education in the Irish Band allows tanistry succession, at the cost of giving up war elephants and use of the subjugation CB.

Like most Christians, Indians can disqualify characters from succession by ordering them to take the vows or by granting them a temple.

Caste system[edit]

Indian characters are divided into three varnas or castes, marked in-game by traits:

  • Brahmin.png Brahmins, the priests. +0.5 Karma/month.
  • Kshatriya.png Kshatriyas, the soldiers and nobles. +0.5 Prestige/month.
  • Vaishya.png Vaishyas, the craftsmen and merchants. +0.03 gold/month.

(The fourth caste, the Shudras (slaves/servants), is not represented in-game.) The castes correspond to religious (temple), feudal (castle) and city holdings, respectively. Hindus may only give holdings to characters of the appropriate caste. Characters may only marry within their caste. Children belong to the same caste as their parents, while a child of parents from different castes gets the lower of the two parental castes.

Hindus get a -30 opinion modifier toward characters with a holding that does not match their caste, as well as -30 towards characters married to someone of a different caste. Non-Indians who convert to Hinduism are considered to be casteless untouchables, which gets them a -15 opinion from other Hindus. Hindu characters must be of the Kshatriya caste in order to qualify as commanders.

A decision allows tribal/feudal Hindus to become Kshatriya, at the cost of considerable gold (cut in half if Learning at least 15) and prestige (if a Vaishya or casteless) or 200 karma (if a Brahmin). Hindu patricians have a similar decision to become Vaishya. It is also possible to change a line's caste by seducing a woman of the desired caste and legitimizing the child.

Buddhists and Jains in the Indian subcontinent have castes, but are not bound by the restrictions that Hindus are, nor do they care about characters with the wrong caste. They do receive the minor bonuses granted by the caste traits themselves, however.

Specific features[edit]

Hindu.png Hinduism[edit]

Hindu holy sites.

Hinduism, which emerged from the Vedic religion of the early Indo-Aryans, is today the majority religion of India.

Unlike the other two religions, there is no unified definition of the religious beliefs of Hinduism, no single agreed-upon philosophy, pantheon of gods to be worshiped, or even who a Hindu is or is not. The most consistent and relevant difference is its strict adherence to a caste system that places the Hindu priests (Brahmins) at the top, followed by secular rulers, merchants, commoners, and finally the outcast (literally, "without caste") untouchables.

Historically, the placing of Brahmins at the top of the social order (as opposed to the soldier/military ruler castes) had a calming effect upon what had been in more ancient times a far more violent Indian subcontinent that practiced ceaseless war for empire and slaves. The Brahmins, by fragmenting the power of secular rulers and outlawing slavery, made the Middle Ages relatively more peaceful (although still quite bloody) in India compared to previous centuries.

In-game, the ruling caste for all practical intents is actually the higher class, and it is the most warlike of the three Indian religions, still. It has unrestricted access to the Holy War casus belli, usable on all followers of non-Indian religions. Hindu troops have 30% more morale, making them more durable than troops of other faiths, and Hindus may also raid, similar to pagans. However, Hindus cannot designate a primary heir like the other Indian religions can and, like Buddhists and Jains, they are restricted to gavelkind, ultimogeniture, and primogeniture succession laws.

Overall, the Hindus offer a very warlike playstyle at the cost of stability - like the pagans, but to a lesser extent. Convert if you plan on going to war outside of India.


  • The most warlike of the dharmic religions
    • Full access to Holy War CB.
    • Units get +0.3 morale.
    • Can raid; sacking non-Hindu temples will increase moral authority.
    • A very large holy order, which can be used against all non-Hindus.
  • Can choose a patron deity
    • Each deity gives +1 to one stat, -1 to another
    • Choosing Kali lets you hold a Kali Puja feast
  • Opinion penalty towards characters with the wrong caste for their title or who married the wrong caste.
  • Four sects:
    • Smartist hindu.png Smartism gives +0.5 karma (piety) per month.
    • Shaktist hindu.png Shaktism gives +20% fertility.
    • Shaivist hindu.png Shavism gives +0.5 prestige per month.
    • Vaishnavist hindu.png Vashnavism gives +5 vassal opinion.
  • Caste system restricts job opportunities.
    • Hindu rulers may have to rely on inviting characters of the right caste in order to have enough commanders, if they do not have enough holders of castles as vassals (or such holders are female). Similarly, they must match the type of holding being granted with the recipient's caste. This makes landing sons more problematic.
      • Also, foreigners who convert are considered casteless, making them ineligible to receive landed titles or marry other Hindus born with a caste.
    • Hindu patricians are also affected by opinion penalties with the wrong caste for their title.

Buddhist.png Buddhism[edit]

Buddhist holy sites.

Buddhism developed from the teachings of Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived in the 6th century BCE.

Karma is a central concept to Buddhism. It is the "debt" that people incur between themselves and the rest of creation (one way or the other), which guides their reincarnation and passage through the Wheel of Life. After death, souls are reincarnated somewhere else in the Wheel of Life as either a human or animal on Earth, or in one of many heavens or hells, according to what karma they carry. Even being born, one has a karmic debt relation to one's parents, to be paid off by paying for funeral rights for one's parents, and bearing children to bear your own.

Buddhism's central doctrines are the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths tell one that all things mortal and physical are transient and ultimately unfulfilling, leading to only suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path (which is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths) teaches the way to spiritual enlightenment, and release from worldly desires (which generate karma which bind people to the Wheel of Life). Buddhism teaches these offer an escape from suffering by acknowledging all these karma debts to become completely detached from worldly bindings, and therefore, detached from the Wheel of Life.

Strictly speaking, the in-game actions of conquest for physical territory, conflict, and status measured in gold and territory are all anathema to Buddhist teachings, although obviously not without historical precedent for actual rulers who at least nominally followed the religion.

Buddhists may be considered a hybrid of Hindus and Jainists. Like Jains, Buddhist rulers can designate any of their legitimate children as the primary heir and have no short reign penalty. They lack the Jain bonus to vassal opinion and demense limit, but do not have as severe restrictions on violent behavior (Buddhists can duel rivals without penalty, go on tiger hunts, etc.) Their troops do not have the Hindu morale bonus, but Buddhist rulers have an easier time navigating succession crises than their Hindu counterparts.

Overall, Buddhism offers a middle path, with no great strengths or weaknesses. Consider converting if one wishes to leave options open.


  • +4 learning.
  • Can wage county conquests against infidels, instead of duchy-level holy wars. Since Buddhist county conquests vassalize rather than usurp, they can be used to capture infidel claimants or heirs, making them surprisingly useful.
  • No short reign penalty (only if vassal is also Buddhist)
  • No penalty for female rulers.
  • Ability to designate primary heir from among one's children.
  • Special ambitions to remove negative traits.
  • Three sects: Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana
    • Mahayana buddhist.png Mahayana gives +5 vassal opinion.
    • Theravada buddhist.png Theravada gives +1 learning (in addition to the +4 all Buddhists get)
    • Vajrayana buddhist.png Vajrayana gives +1 health.

Jain.png Jainism[edit]

Jain holy sites.

Jainism is an ancient pacifistic religion. Jains believe their religion to be ever-existing, having no origin and end. It is occasionally forgotten by humans and revived by a succession of tirthankara (literally "ford-maker", one who builds a ford across the ocean of rebirth and transmigration). The existence of Parshvanatha (c. 877 – c. 777 BCE), the twenty-third tirthankara, is the earliest Jain leader now accepted as a historical figure.

It is from Jainism that the concept of "karma" originates, which they see as pollutants in the soul. The objective of Jainist practice is to further refine and purify one's soul and work against the desires and worldly attachments of karma. A core principle of Jainism is Anēkāntavāda, a belief in the multiplicity of viewpoints, and that conflict is, at its core, a result of misunderstanding and miscommunication, rather than inherent human evil. Jainists are taught to see the truth or falseness of any statement as a complicated multi-faceted probability, based upon one's own point of view compared to others. They are taught to avoid absolutes, as leading down a path of dogmatism and intolerance. (An odd stand-out in a game named after religious dogmatic warfare, and why Jainists are the only one to lack a Holy War CB of any kind.)

Proper practitioners of Jainism practice Ahimsa, a code of pacifism that protects even animals, and are forbidden from violence for any reason but the least violence necessary for self-defense or defense of another. This extends to diet; Jains are expected to be vegan, and in some cases cannot even eat root vegetables (such as potatoes or onions) due to the uprooting of such vegetables harming soil life.

The game gives Jain rulers serious flexibility compared to these standards. (And historical rulers and militaries were at least nominal practitioners of Jainism in spite of not particularly adhering to non-violence.) +15 vassal opinion gives Jainists long, stable realms no matter how large the empire is. Convert if you have a large, unstable empire.


  • Increased stability:
    • +3 Demesne limit
    • +15 vassal opinion
    • Ability to designate primary heir from among one's children
    • No short reign penalty (only if vassal is also Jain)
  • Expectation of non-violence:
    • No Holy War CB
    • No tiger hunts
    • No hunting focus
    • Purity (piety) lost when taking certain event choices
    • +1 purity per month while at peace
  • Two sects:
    • Digambara jain.png Digambara gives +1 Health.
    • Svetambara jain.png Svetambara gives a further +5 vassal opinion.


Unless your realm is located at the western regions of India (where you'll fight Muslims), the main way of waging war in India is through claims. Due to the relative lack of religious conflicts, the eastern region of India is an ideal place to start in 769, as even Ireland and many parts of Europe are seeing conflict between pagans and Catholics, and among warring tribes. The kingdom of Kamarupa controls a number of provinces on the Silk Road, making it an interesting start. See Kamarupa walkthrough for more details.

India itself is a relatively poor subcontinent; temples and castles are more likely to be found than cities. However, given that clergy here act like any other vassal (unlike Catholic clergy), a relatively small realm can still punch pretty hard, compared to a Catholic realm of the same size. Hindu raiders can weaken their neighbours, and enrich themselves at the same time.

Unique concepts
Religion groups
ChristiansMuslimsZoroastriansPagansJudaismIndian religions