The Brahmans present an elaborate system through which salvation may come to members of the fortunate upper three classes. Each Hindu boy is first initiated. (Girls are not even worth mentioning according to this system!). He is then regarded as 'twice-born' . He then must go through the four stages of life: (1) student; (2) the head of a house with wife and children; (3) a meditating hermit seeking enlightenment; (4) a homeless wanderer who has renounced all things of the world.
He is given four goals in life: (1) to become righteous and virtuous; (2) to have material goods; (3) to enjoy life through love, pleasure and appreciation of beauty; and (4) to have spiritual victory over life.
The writings of the Upanishads, composed between 800 and 300 B.C. added another way for man to attain salvation. These writings, also considered sacred by Hindus, contain a view of the world which is completely foreign to the Western mind.
The Upanishads teach that out and beyond this world is the brahmanatman (something like God) which is the only thing that really exists and has meaning. What man sees, the world of time and space, is maya. Maya is only temporary and has no real meaning. Yet everything that lives and breathes has an atman, or soul, which is part of the paramatman or world soul. Each individual atman, while existing in maya, is trying to get back to paramatman. All clear? Good, there's lots more.