India’s Caste System

For countless centuries, there has been a caste system India. Throughout the years people have been classed by occupation and the family you where born into and have been rooted by the Hindu religion. At first, ranks were assigned as a means of differentiating and distinguishing people based only on personality. Over time, the system took root as an inescapable hereditary characteristic; passed from one generation to the next with no recourse for change.

India's System

There are four main castes in India. Here are the names in descending order; Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

Brahmins are usually people with a higher form of education; people of great prestige who receive many advantages. Most of Brahmins are vegetarian and are not allowed to own leather.  Brahmins also occupy the highest spiritual positions.

Then,  as the second highest caste, we have the Khsatriyas who are mostly involved in public service, such as administration or law and order. They are also considered the authority of India.

The third class is the Vaishyas, which is commonly known as the commoners. They are usually found doing productive labour, engaging in agricultural and pastoral tasks, and in trading.

Shudra is the fourth and lowest class in India. These are usually artisans and labourers. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to study in the sacred rite of Vedas, which all other classes are free to study.

There is a fifth caste, called the “untouchables”. You won’t see them on many charts representing the caste system in India because a lot of people do not even consider them human. These are the Indians stuck with the awful jobs that everyone else is repulsed by: they clean the streets, public bathrooms or if they aren’t lucky enough to take those jobs they are often forced to beg on the street.

Discriminating against the classes is technically considered illegal and tourists are not expected to talk to the different castes differently then you would the other. Unfortunately, among the Indian population it is a social convention which has not gone away.  I don’t think in our lifetime we will see the caste system disappear because it has been such a huge aspect in the Hindu culture and religion. It is going to take a lot more than protest to change their culture.

(Nikki James)

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