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SUBMITTED TO: DR. DEEPSIKHA
SUBMITTED BY: ANTRIKSH ARUN SIDDHARTH
[INTRODUCTION:INTRODUCTION:-] ] This project throws light on the Indian caste system . this led to the division of society into various sub castes.It also tells about the origin of caste system in india .
INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
A caste system is a social system where people are ranked into groups based on heredity within rigid systems of social stratification, especially those that constitute Hindu India. Some scholars, in fact, deny that true caste systems are found outside India. The caste is a closed group whose members are severely restricted in their choice of occupation and degree of social participation. Marriage outside the c aste is prohibited. Social status is determined by the caste of one's birth and may only rarely be transcended. Certain religious minorities may voluntarily constitute a quasi-caste within a society, but they are less apt to be characterized by cultural distinctiveness than by their self-imposed social segregation. A specialized labor group may operate as a caste within a society otherwise free of such distinctions (e.g., the ironsmiths in parts of Africa). In general, caste functions to maintain the status quo in a society.
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
ETYMOLOGY OF ENGLISH WORD ‘CASTE’:The word caste is derived from the Romance word casta (seen in Portuguese and Italian), which (in addition to representing the same concept as English caste) can mean "lineage" or "race". It comes from Romance casto, which can mean "pure" or "chaste" [the word chaste itself is ultimately cognate]. Casto is derived from Latin castus, which also meant "pure" or "chaste".
HOW DID THE CASTE SYSTEM BEGIN IN HINDU SOCIETY?
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM Aryans migrated from Central Europe and settled in the very fertile Indus Valley. Aryans were very clever. They implemented division of labor in their society. The most clever members of society were selected and given the task to teach others. The bravest people were selected and given the task to protect society. The dullest types of individuals who were able to tolerate a heavy workload were selected and given the task of supplying labor to others whenever needed. The rest of the people of the society were given the tasks to grow food, produce materials, trade, and supply the goods to others. As the Aryans were very clever, they found ways to keep the people doing what they had been doing. Thus, they bred four types of new generations. The ones considered most clever whose duty it was to teach were called "Brahmins". The protectors of society were called "Kshatriyas". The group of producers and suppliers were called "vaishyas". And the groups of laborers were called "Sudras". In Hindu philosophy, every creature in this world is created by the God, Brahma. Brahmins are thought to be created from the mouth of Brahma to symbolize teacher
groups. Kshatriyas are thought to be created from the arms of Brahma to symbolize warriors. Vaishyas are thought to be created from the lap of Brahma to symbolize a mother feeding her baby. And Sudras are thought to be created from the feet of Brahma to symbolize a weight bearer. Therefore, the Brahmins are the uppermost caste of society, followed by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Sudras. The source for proof for this setup is the "Bhaagavad Geeta", one of the holy books of Hindu religion.
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
VARNA SYSTEM AND CASTE:Although every Hindu must follow general moral c odes, each has individual duties according to his or her own nature. These are called sva-dharma, literally "own duties." They are regulated by the system of four varnas (social classes) .
1. Shudras :- (Artisans and Workers)
The Shudras are the only section of society allowed to accept another's employment; other Varna’s are occupationally and financially self-sufficient.
To render service to others.
To take pride in their work and to be loyal.
To follow general moral principles, (e.g. not to steal).
Vaishyas (Farmers, Merchants, and Business People)
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
The vaishyas are the productive class. They and the two Varna’s below are called twice born, indicating that they accept the sacred thread (symbolizing spiritual initiation) and must perform certain rituals and rites of passage.
To protect animals (especially cows), and the land.
To create wealth and prosperity.
To maintain workers with abundant food, clothes, etc.
To trade ethically.
To give taxes to the kshatriyas (ruling class).
3. Kshatriyas (Warriors, Police, and Administrators)
The kshatriyas are the nobility, the protectors of society. Though permitted a number of privileges, they are expected to display considerable strength of body and character.
To protect the citizens from harm, especially women, children, cows, Brahmans, and the elderly.
To ensure that the citizens perform their prescribed duties and advance spiritually.
To be the first into battle and never to flee the battlefield.
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
To be true to their royal word.
To never refuse a challenge.
To develop noble qualities such as power, chivalry, and generosity.
To levy taxes (from the vaishyas only) and to n ever accept charity under any circumstances.
To take counsel, especially from the Brahmans.
To know the scriptures, especially the artha-shastras.
To deal uncompromisingly with crime and lawlessness.
To take responsibility for shortcomings in their kingdom.
To conquer their own minds and senses and to enjoy only according to scriptural injunction.
To beget an heir.
4. Brahmanas (Priests, Teachers, and Intellectuals)
The Brahmans provide education and spiritual leadership. They determine the vision and values of any society. Traditionally their basic needs were fulfilled so that they could dedicate themselves to their spiritual tasks. They are expected to live very frugally.
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
To study and teach the Vedas.
To perform sacrifice and religious ceremonies, and teach others how to perform such rituals.
To accept alms and also give in charity.
To offer guidance, especially to the kshatriyas.
To provide medical care and general advice free of charge.
To know Brahman (spirit, the self, God).
To never accept paid employment.
To develop all ideal qualities, especially honesty, integrity, cleanliness, purity, austerity, knowledge and wisdom.
INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM:-
The Indian caste system is the traditional hereditary system of social stratification of India, in which social classes are defined by a number of hierarchical endogamous groups often termed as Jāti. Not only Hindus but Muslims, Sikhs and Christians too practice it (ref. Francis Buchanan, Indian Census Record, 1883). As Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity gained influence in the Indian subcontinent, Hindu converts would often retain their caste customs. The Indian caste system was historically linked to Hinduism
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM through the use of scripture such as the Manusmriti. The Manusmriti is not necessarily regarded as "divine proclamation" and is regarded as the work of man. The normative texts in Hinduism such as the Vedas mention the concept of the Brahmin but do not canonically allude to any socially mandated caste system.
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF CASTE SYSTEM:-
1. Caste system among Hindus:-
The Indian caste system, prevalent also among local Muslims and Christians, exhibits some differences from those of other countries. Elsewhere, the separation between one group and the other is usually along racial lines. Within India, that is not so. Nor is there any discernable dichotomy (white/black or high/low) because the caste system forms a continuum that defies such ready definition. While many lower-caste people live in conditions of great poverty and social disadvantage, many upper-caste Brahmins too are poor and now disadvantaged politically. Efforts by the Indian government to emancipate the lower castes with affirmative action like reservations in education, jobs and promotions have achieved some success, although the benefits have tended to be cornered by the well-off "Creamy Layer" of lower castes. The concept of 'upper' and 'lower' caste is therefore a matter o f social standing and assimilation rather than anything based on wealth or influence. Even in this age, some castes do not allow other caste members, whom they consider to be "lower" to touch Page | 9
INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM them, and would have washed themselves or their possessions if they had been touched by someone from a "lower" caste. In some parts of India, there was the practice of defining the physical distance one should keep from persons of another caste. As a result of this, children who attended a school where children of lower castes were present had to bathe in running water before returning home. In some parts of the world, as well as in India, such discrimination still exists, though it is punishable by law and unconstitutional in India. The Indian constitution was drafted by Ambedkar, himself of low-caste origins, who is regarded as an emancipator of the Dalits. Loss of caste could occur if individuals strayed from the norms of behavior expected of them; for instance, if one married a person belonging to another caste. Despite the prosletysing efforts of Christian missionaries, the fact is that converts rarely
achieve emancipation from the caste system to gain an equal social standing with people of privilege. Even among converts, matrimony between members of different castes is rare, although it is not unknown. A detailed analysis of the caste system, Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development in India was presented by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in his doctoral paper at the Columbia University.
Caste system among Indian Muslims
There is also several caste systems among some Muslims in India. They are broadly divided into two castes, Ashraf and Ajlaf, or oonchi zaat (high caste) and niichi zaat (low
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM caste). The Muslim Caste system in India was analyzed by Ambedkar, who had a very dim view of the rampant discrimination of the Ajlaf castes by the Ashraf castes.In addition to the Ashraf and Ajlaf castes, there exist the Arzal under-caste or the Dalit Muslims who are regarded by the Ashraf and the Ajlaf as ritually impure and are relegated to professions regarded as "menial" such as scavenging and the carrying of night soil. In addition, Muslims in Bengal organize their society according to social strata called "Quoms", where division of labor is granted by birth, rather than by economic status. Professions perceived as "lowly" are provided to people of certain ostracized Quoms and higher Quoms get professions perceived as superior. The Quoms are rigidly segregated with little or no intermarriage or cohabitation.
3. Caste system among Indian Christians
Converts to Christianity have retained the old caste practices. In particular, Dalit Christians are regarded as an undercaste by upper caste Christian clergy and nuns and are discriminated against in society.
INTERACTION AND MOBILITY AMONG CASTES:-
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM
Interaction and Mobility
Interactions between the oonchi zat (upper caste) and neechi zat (lower caste) are regulated by established patron-client relationships of the jajmani system, the upper castes being referred to as the 'Jajmans', and the lower caste as 'Kamin'. Upon contact with an low-caste Muslim, a Muslim of a higher zat can "purify" by taking a short bath, since there are no elaborate rituals for purification. Higher caste Muslims and lower caste Muslims are sometimes even segregated by graveyards. Some data indicates that the castes among Muslims have never been as rigid as that among Hindus.The rate of endogamous marriage, for example, is less than two thirds.An old saying also goes "Last year I was a Julaha (weaver); this year a Shaikh; and n ext year if the harvest be good, I shall be a Sayyid.".However, other scholars, such as Ambedkar, disagreed with this thesis .
MODERN STATUS OF CASTE SYSTEM:The caste system was first exposed to the modern Western world during the Portuguese occupation and rule of sections of India. Indeed, the word 'caste' in this context is derived from the Portuguese, casta. Later, other European empires, including the British, occupied parts of the subcontinent. The anthropologist Herbert Risley's The Tribes and Castes of Bengal , published in 1892, was one of the first works on the caste system in India written by a Western scholar.
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes Page | 12
INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM Independent India officially documented castes and subcastes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation(positive discrimination in education) through the census. The Indian reservation system relies entirely on quotas. The Government lists consist of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes
Scheduled castes (SC)
Scheduled castes generally consist of former "untouchables" (the term "D alit" is now preferred). Present population is 16% of total population of India i.e. around 160 million. For example, the Delhi state has 49 castes listed as SC.
Scheduled tribes (ST)
Scheduled tribes generally consist of tribal people. Present population is 7% of total population of India i.e. around 70 million.
Other Backward Classes (OBC)
Other backward classes generally consist of cultivators, pastoralists, artisans, etc. The Mandal Commission has covered more than 3000 castes under OBC Category. According to the Mandal Commission, the present population of OBC's is approximately 52% of the
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM population. The Mandal Commission has since been criticized for fabricating data. The National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%. For e xample, Delhi places 53 castes in this group. There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBC's in India, with census data compromised by partisan politics. It is generally estimated to be sizable, but lower than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission or and national Sample Survey. Some Indian states are dominated by caste-based politics. Sometimes converts to other religions, such as Christianity or Islam, retain their caste identity, often due to the economic benefits it carries, and also to retain their ties with the community for social reasons. This practice, however, is often frowned upon by members of the same subcaste.
INCIDENTS BASED ON CASTE:-
Violence against Untouchables or Dalits in rural Tamil-Nadu
In 2000, three young men belonging to the Dalit undercaste were killed in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. This fuelled some localized v iolence in the caste-sensitive region, which has seen numerous caste-related incidents in which the majority of the victims
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM have been Dalits. Six of the killings have been registered as murders under the Indian Penal Code and others as "Deaths under suspicious circumstances". No arrests have been made in these cases. However, several Dalits have been arrested as "goondas" (gangsters). The Chief minister of Tamil-Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, has been accused of having an "anti-Dalit" bias by the radical organization "Dalit Panthers of India". Theories concerning these crimes against Dalits range from "alcohol bootleggers opposing prohibition movements among Dalits" to "inter-caste relations between an upper-caste Vanniya boy and a Dalit girl". Political parties sympathetic to the Dalits have protested against these incidents and have alleged systemic biases against Dalits in several parts of the country.
2. Bant Singh from Punjab
On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, a poor Dalit , was attacked by unknown assailants. His injuries necessitated medical amputation. He alleges that this was in retaliation for actively working to secure justice for his daughter, wh o was gang raped by upper caste members of his village in Punjab five years ago.
3. Phoolan Devi
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM Phoolan Devi was a bandit turned politician from a low caste Shudra background. She grew up in a backward part of the country where caste divisions were prominent in society. After facing abuse from mainly upper-caste law enforcement, she ran away to the deep jungle of her native region south of Agra and became the mistress of a bandit leader. A rival gang from the powerful Bhumihar caste caught them, killed her lover and dragged her to their village. She was publicly raped for days. She would never bear children. After three days she escaped, went back to the jungle and gathered a gang. A year later, 20 of her tormentors were dead. Pursued by the law enforcement authorities, for over two years, she proved difficult to capture. The government of Indira Gandhi and the police finally made a deal with her that she and members of her gang would not face the death penalty.As a part of this arrangement, in 1983 she surrendered on a stage before a crowd of 10,000 people. On July 25, 2001, she was fatally shot in front of her house in New Delhi, allegedly by one Sher Singh Rana, which he claims was retribution for the Behmai massacre. The police, however, are sceptical of his claims.
CONCLUSION:There has been strong criticism of the caste system existing in India. Some activists consider that the caste system is a form of racial discrimination. The participants of the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in March 2001, condemned the discrimination due to the caste system, and stated that caste as a basis for the segregation and oppression of peoples in terms of their descent and occupation is a form of apartheid.
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INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM The Indian government denies the claims of equivalency between Caste and Racial discrimination, pointing out that the caste issues as essentially intra-racial and intracultural. Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee insisted that "The only reason India wants caste discrimination kept off the agenda is that it will distract participants from the main topic: racism. Caste discrimination in India is undeniable but caste and race are entirely distinct.".
In India, some observers felt that the caste system must be viewed as a system of exploitation of poor low-ranking groups by more p rosperous high-ranking groups. In many parts of India, land is largely held by dominant castes high-ranking owners of property that economically exploit low-ranking landless labourers and poor artisans, all the while degrading them with ritual emphases on their so-called god-given inferior status.
Matt Cherry claims that karma underpins the caste system, and the caste system traditionally determines the position and role of every member of Hindu society. Caste determines an individual's place in society, the work he or she may carry out, and who he or she may marry and meet. According to him, Hindus believe that the karma of previous life will determine the caste an individual will be (re)born into.