Jati – Indian Caste System

Caste SystemIndian Caste System

If a Hindu person were asked to explain the nature of the caste system, he or she might start to tell the story of Brahma — the four-headed, four-handed deity worshipped as the creator of the universe.

According to an ancient text known as the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma’s divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet.

Even today, most Indian languages use the term “jati” for the system of hereditary social structures in South Asia. When Portuguese travelers to 16th-century India first encountered what appeared to them to be race-based social stratification, they used the Portuguese term “casta” — which means “race” — to describe what they saw. Today, the term “caste” is used to describe stratified societies based on hereditary groups not only in South Asia but throughout the world.

According to one long-held theory about the origins of South Asia’s caste system, Aryans from central Asia invaded South Asia and introduced the caste system as a means of controlling the local populations. The Aryans defined key roles in society, then assigned groups of people to them. Individuals were born into, worked, married, ate, and died within those groups. There was no social mobility.

But, the idea of an “Aryan” group of people was not proposed until the 19th century. After identifying a language called Aryan from which Indo-European languages are descended, several European linguists claimed that the speakers of this language (named Aryans by the linguists) had come from the north — from Europe. Thus, according to this theory, European languages and cultures came first and were therefore superior to others — the so-called dark-skinned people from the rest of the world — and thus provide justification for genocide.

But 20th-century scholarship has thoroughly disproved this theory. Most scholars believe that there was no Aryan invasion from the north. In fact, some even believe that the Aryans — if they did exist — actually originated in South Asia and spread from there to Europe. Regardless of who the Aryans were or where they lived, it is generally agreed that they did not single-handedly create South Asia’s caste system. In the midst of the debate, only one thing is certain: South Asia’s caste system has been around for several millennia and, until the second half of the 20th century, has changed very little during all of that time.

In ancient India, the ranked occupational groups were referred to as varnas, and the hereditary occupational groups within the varnas were known as jatis. Many have immediately assumed that ascribed social groups and rules prohibiting intermarriage among the groups signify the existence of a racist culture. But this assumption is false. Varnas are not racial groups but rather classes.

Four varna categories were constructed to organize society along economic and occupational lines:

  • Brahmanas (Brahmins), priests and religious teachers;
  • Kshatriyas, kings, warriors, and aristocrats;
  • Vaisyas, traders, merchants, and people engaged in other professions; and
  • Sudras, laborers, cultivators, servants, and so on.

In addition to the varnas, there is a fifth class in Hinduism. It encompassed outcasts who, literally, did all the dirty work. They were referred to as “untouchables” because they carried out the miserable tasks associated with disease and pollution, such as cleaning up after funerals, dealing with sewage, and working with animal skin.

Brahmins were considered the embodiment of purity, and untouchables the embodiment of pollution. Physical contact between the two groups was absolutely prohibited. Brahmins adhered so strongly to this rule that they felt obliged to bathe if even the shadow of an untouchable fell across them.

Gandhi renamed the untouchables Harijans. Adopted in 1949, the Indian Constitution provided a legal framework for the emancipation of untouchables and for the equality of all citizens. In recent years, the Untouchables have become a politically active group and have adopted for themselves the name DaIlits, which means “those who have been broken.”

Source: http://www.ushistory.org/civ/8b.asp

 

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9 thoughts on “Jati – Indian Caste System

  1. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:14 am Reply

    In ancient Hinduism we can easily see Examples where people from low caste moved to higher caste and there was no problem from society. For example Sage Valmiki, he was a Robber named Ratnakar, when he came across in influence of another Sage, he left his life and became a Brahmin. He also taught Lord Rama and was the Author of Ramayana.

    Apart from this old example we can also see the during the invasion of Alexander there was one powerful king who was ruling Magadha, His name was Dhananand and he was from Nanda Dynasty. His grandfather was the barber of the king who later on killed the king and became the King of Magadha.

    There are plenty of more examples which you can easily find. But right now Indians believe what is taught in their textbook which is inclined towards Max Muller theory and thus showing wrong abour Hinduism.

  2. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:16 am Reply

    All human-beings are equal in the eyes of God.The human-beings have only created the caste system.There are good and bad people in both high caste as well as low caste.
    Ultimately,what matters to God is, whether one is a good person or striving to become one, or not.

  3. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:16 am Reply

    One who thinks himself to be of a high caste is actually low. While one who thinks himself/herself to be of low caste is said to be high caste.As per the scriptures, people are known by their nature and the quality of work they perform..

  4. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:17 am Reply

    Hindu (body) four community: brahmin (head) kshatriya (arm) vaishya (belly) shudra (feet) All these four community called as hindu. We all are parts of one body. Without each part our body is not complete. If we lost one part of our body then we become handicap. The human body is the entire structure of a human being. Human Body is considered so loving that God even wants to have it. Spiritual Yogis have found that after going through the 84 millions species this souls get the most dignified human body. So it is the last step to explore the God or to get the view of almighty father god. We know that the soul never dies it takes birth again and again just like as we take new clothes to wear the soul as it takes new body and it is an infinite process. But the body what we get in next birth depend on our karma that has been cited in Gita by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. We all here to perform our duties. Our action makes our destiny and nothing else. The result is in the hand of supreme power. Karma is the seed of plant and if the seed is genuine it must be fruitful.

  5. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:17 am Reply

    Many a time, man has taken birth in high caste and low caste; but this does not make him great or lowHaving been born in high caste man thinks himself to be great and being born in low caste thinks himself to be low and pitiable; both of these states of mind are wrong because many times man has been born in high and low castes. Hence, one should not be proud of having been born in high caste and not feel low if born in low caste family.
    Greatness has nothing to do with high caste. Man becomes great because of his noble work, exemplary character and becomes loathsome because of his immorality and evil conduct. Thus, it is his conduct only that decides his greatness or lowliness. Who does not know that high family born Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana and others are censurable; whereas Metarya muni, Harikeshi muni and others, though born in low family, are venerable.Then, what is the importance of high or low caste?

  6. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:19 am Reply

    Whenever someone’s ask you about your caste then your answer should be to them is:
    I am a Brahmin in knowledge,I am kshatriya in valor,I am vaishya in business,I m shudra in service.
    In the end I am just sanatam dharmi hindu and nothing else..Then say you proud to be a hindu..

  7. cutie March 14, 2014 at 11:20 am Reply

    Gone are the days when marriages were executed by parents; The times when a Punjabi marrying a Punjabi or a Bengali marrying a Bengali was the norm. Welcome to 2013 where inter-caste marriages are quickly becoming the season’s flavors and why shouldn’t they? Everyone knows that India is a diverse land that boasts of being a mother to different cultures. But what’s the point of having so many different cultures when people snarl at the very thought of their integration?
    There is something new to learn in different cultures and we, as Indians should feel proud of having such a strong and traditional backbone with us.
    But when some of these people get offended at the thought of their son/daughter marrying into a different caste, a sense of anger sweeps me.
    What is the problem in a South Indian marrying a Punjabi or vice-versa? Why do educated people talk like uneducated pigs when their family member steps out of his/her caste for marriage? Why do people have to be such haters?
    In my opinion, an inter caste marriage should be applauded by one and all as the amalgamation of different cultures will put an end to mindless racism and discrimination on the basis of caste in our exotic land. Wouldn’t you want your next generation to be more peace loving and more socially acceptable to different kinds of people in the world? So, are you ready to take the plunge and applaud inter-caste marriages?

  8. cutie June 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm Reply

    We always talk about religion and castesim but in reality there is no any caste and religion. We all are same our blood are same.then why we believe in discrimination. God never created any caste they made simple human being.. Mentally sick people take the path of fundamentalism and spread casteism and communism. They suffer from inferiority complex and divide the society into “we” and “they”. They (belonging either to higher or lower ranked caste) have a fear in their heart that if they do not get a higher place for themselves in society, “other” people are going to exploit them and going to put them down.They don’t have believe on themselves and their own work. They have doubt own their capability. People with negative mindset suffer from inferiority complex and divide society into compartments like higher castes or lower castes.and can’t tolerate “others” progress or well-being. They cannot work hard and cannot tolerate anybody else’s achievements. These are the people with negative mindset who believe in ranking some belonging to higher castes and/or some to lower castes. They are coward and they are unable to protect themselves…

  9. cutie June 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm Reply

    The brahmin community has been one of the dirty communities which has planned strategically to fool people in the name of god by generating the highest donations in the temple, doing business to fool and loot money in the name of puja, death, marriage, new home… For any occasion, there’s one puja. They charge very high prices and take away all the items after the puja. They have created prostitution in the name of devadasis. They suppress jobs and employment and welfare and equality are destroyed. they have destroyed the Indian medical system. They have killed Indian medical science like siddha vaidhyam and created ayurveda and carnatic music by destroying dravidian music. Even today they have the temples under their control. They say they don’t like untouchables, but they have always been sexually harassing low caste women.

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