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Indias Cast System - Essay Example

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The Caste System of India Introduction Many different societies have ways of organizing people, and Indian/Hindu society uses a hierarchical system known as the caste system. An individual is a member of the same caste as his or her parents, as it is genealogical and hereditary in nature…
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Download file to see previous pages It is linked to a concept called the four varnas, which will be covered in more detail below. The caste system comes about from an innate (something that a being is born with) spiritual place in the universe based upon these four varnas. The purpose of this paper is to investigate and evaluate the caste system in India and it’s relationships to Hinduism to provide a general overview of this important aspect of Indian life. The paper will also explore how important this system is for many Indians, and the changes that are being made to the system in response to global political change. Overview of the Caste System To fully understand the caste system of India, the specific consideration of different spiritual aspects is needed. Perhaps the most important part of the caste system is based around the central concept of the four varnas, which are large categories. The first of these (and the most highly regarded) is the Brahmin class. The usual translation for this caste is scholarly, representing the important role that this caste plays in religious and philosophical occupations within India (Fuller, 1979). The next most highly regarded caste is the Kshatriya, representing what could be considered a military elite or warrior class. The purpose of this caste in Hindu society is to protect society (Fuller, 1979). The third most important class according to the varnas is the Vaishya class. This is the pastoral or farming class, with many of the occupations of its members revolving around livestock and crop farming. This caste may also take up trade careers (Chandra, 2005). Finally, Shudra individuals are seen as part of the servant class. People born into this caste may typically expect to have jobs serving the members of the other three castes (Chandra, 2005). There is also a final group which may not be seen as part of the traditional caste system, for individuals who are not members of any other group. These people are known as the untouchables and can occupy some of the least favourable positions in society and can be ignored by members of any caste (Pruthi, 2004). There are also further divisions within each caste which are known as jatis (Singh, 2005). These can vary between Indian regions, but family members tend to remain within one jati (which dictates occupation). It is also traditional for jati members to marry within a group and carry on an occupation lineage, as with the much broader caste system described above (Singh, 2005). Each jati will fit with other ‘tribes’ into the more general caste system outlined above. These groups tend to be much smaller but still very close-knit in nature, which has led some people to call the jati the ‘building blocks’ of Indian society (Pruthi, 2004). It can be fairly difficult to move between jatis, as with castes, because intermarriage and communication between the groups is not generally encouraged (Pruthi, 2004). It may also be difficult for a member of one jati to learn the trade of another, again prohibiting movement between the groups (Pruthi, 2004). It is possible for a jati as a whole to improve social status by avoiding untouchables and unpleasant work and taking on more priestly ways (such as following the Hindu practices of vegetarianism, for example). History of the Caste System There is some debate about the origination of the caste system. As it has such close ties to Hinduism, it makes sense to evaluate the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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