Thursday, November 28, 2013

The caste system in India

Now here’s a topic that you could spend hours on.

This post is not meant to be a definitive account about the caste system – there are many more people who have devoted their lives to studying this subject.

I’m just trying to give you a brief overview.

Basically, the caste system is broken down into four main groups:


Are those engaged in scriptural education and teaching, essential for the continuation of knowledge (ie: priests, teachers, and judges)


Are those engaged in all forms of public service, including administration, maintenance of law and order and defense (mainly known as the warrior caste)


Are those engaged in commercial activity (ie: businessmen, skilled farmers and merchants)


Semi or unskilled workers

There is one more caste known as the untouchables (referred to by Gandhi as the Harijan, or "Children of God."). Today, they are known as the Dalit, a term that can be translated as “oppressed.”

The Dalit are those that perform the most menial of labour.

The census of 2001 showed that the proportion of Dalit population was 16.2% of India's total population at that time.

There is extremely limited mobility and interaction between castes.

Members of a caste are regulated as to who they interact with and can only marry members of their own caste.

The designation of caste overshadows any and all religious distinctions and is a powerful influence in a Hindu’s life.

According to Hindu doctrine, the only way to change castes is to be reborn into a new caste after death as a result of good or bad karma from you previous life.

Thus ends the (very) brief lesson on the caste system.

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