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Exploring The Hindu Caste System Of India

2803 words - 11 pages

There is no single definition that is accepted for what the caste system means. When societies formed in India they were tribes, not castes, then came the caste system. This is stricter than social stratification. Most people who observe the caste system believe that it only has a religious background based on the religious texts: the Rig Veda and Bhagavad Gita. The caste system exits to maintain peace within society. Economic differences are very obvious: Brahmins are the patrons-priests of the country; Kshatriyas are the military forces- warriors; Vaishyas are the merchants who supply goods for the country’s survival; and Sudras are reserved to serve the other three castes. If one of these castes were not there, the entire country would go into chaos. To sum it up, the caste system is not only followed because of its religious background, but also to maintain social harmony and economic differences in the subcontinent of India.
In English, castes are defined as a ranking system, however in the Indian culture, castes are two separate but related concepts: Varna and Jati. Varna consists of the main four groups seen as castes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Sudras. The Untouchables are a separate sub-caste assigned jobs that would pollute or shun the other four higher classes. Jati refers to the occupations within each of the four Varnas, which then are divided by birth. Besides birth and occupation, skin color also plays a role. Since the Aryans were white, they used to maintain their power over the darker- skinned Indian-Davidian speaking people. Therefore, one’s life is based on his heredity.
Brahmins are the highest caste and are patriotic figures for the lower castes. They used to make up the priestly class and continued on with the social order by performing rituals in certain manners “acceptable to the gods.” Today they are the dominant social class, who develop literature and the culture. Brahmins were the educated class and were able to keep records of the past and religious events. They were expected to follow rules and traditions while still knowing the restrictions that are applied. “They were considered to be pure as a result of being born into the Brahmin class. In order to maintain their purity, they were expected to have a vegetarian diet, even though in some parts of India fish was allowed.” Meat is considered to be a product of violence, hence the reason it is avoided. When a Brahmin eats food cooked by a member of a lower- caste, that is considered impure. Removing impurity is and can be as easy as a bath or the non- pure has to have another member of the priestly class preform special rituals to cleanse the soul and body.
Kshatriyas protect the other castes and are the only caste that is allowed to fight and bear arms. When the Aryans were in India, all men of a tribe worked. Those who were training for military purpose gradually became know as the Kshatriyas and had a passed-down tradition of a family...

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