How did Varna-Jaati System took shape?Why is there OBSESSION of WORLD with India's Caste System?Is Caste System Unique to only India?How does Varna-Jaati System differs from Caste system? Jati

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How did Varna-Jaati System took shape?Why is there OBSESSION of WORLD with India's Caste System?Is Caste System Unique to only India?How does Varna-Jaati System differs from Caste system?

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  • suyash95 259 days ago | +0 points

    Humans evolved as social animals many centuries ago. We started off as nomadic creatures who hunted, farmed and reared animals. We were the simple folks who did manual labour and hardwork and found happiness in the mundane life. That was the foundation of civilisations.

    Slowly when tribes formed, people started trading with each other to obtain necessary items. Barter system was established first and people gave what they had in excess in exchange for what they needed. Thus came to be the concept of traders who helped the society progress.

    As trades grew and resources in some places depleted, some rogue people decided to steal and loot. To protect themselves from such harms, some of the people fought. They provided protection to their tribes and helped the workers and traders live peacefully and safely. Warriors came to be so.

    When societies became more complex, they needed leaders and guides. Philosophies were created and preached by some. They became teachers. Since the teachers were wise, they had the power to command respect and decide on who would lead the people. Often the strong, the warriors, would be the leaders while the wise would be the king makers. Thereby came to be the political masterminds and teachers. The men of ancient times had learned to worship the nature. Some of the wise regularised and arranged methods of worship which slowly and over the centuries evolved into religions.

    Why I wrote down this long lesson of history is to show that the physical labourers, the farmers, artisans and the ones who do the day to day activities are the foundation of the society. If you see the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you can see that the most basic needs of everyone are fulfilled by these people. That's why they are the base of every society.

    Humans, like many other mammals, live in various social groups. We often build a web of relationship known as the Kinship. Initially we were all in small bands or tribes & we were not in close contact with other groups. As we kept coming together to form more complex societies, some wanted to organize & formalize the group.

    Band - Bands are the smallest units. It is an informal group of a few dozen people who work together. It might not have a leader.

    Clan - This is a slightly more matured group with a belief in a common origin & descent. In India, this roughly translates to Gotra.clans were in most ancient human societies. The clans formed a strong kinship & bonding among themselves. Also, most clans thought of others in the clan as brothers/sisters & thus would not marry within the clan. The Khaps in Haryana take to this the extreme & can even give death sentences to those who marry within the clan.

    Tribe - Mulitiple clans can come together to form a tribe & tribes can often be quite well structured. They can have their own leaders & build common cultural practices. In many ancient societies, people married within the same tribe. In short, you marry out of a clan and within a tribe. In India, this roughly corresponds to Jati.

    Nations - Tribes formed even bigger groups named the nation. For instance, in the Battle of the Ten Kings the tribal groups formed the nation of Bhāratas that won over the confederation of 10 tribes in north India. Thus, we call our nation Bharat.

    Division of labour - As we started forming civilizations, we also found it quite useful to divide work. Thus, some would produce milk, some would farm, others would weave etc. Like in other civilizations, India had this division of labor too. These divisions then got superimposed over the much older clan & tribal divisions.  

    It has become a common theme in modern times to selectively read through different kinds of traditional scriptures, and come to grossly erroneous and ill-informed conclusions about alleged atrocities or discrimination or denigration such as the question frames it. Most folks today see the ancient world retroactively through the lens of their current situation instead of doing a mental time-travel thing and putting themselves back in time. Life spans were short in them days (40 - 50 years was very old) — and the imperative for most people was to learn a trade and get to work, get married at puberty - have as many kids as possible because 1/3rd of them would die before their first birthday. The only way to get an education was to learn the trade of your father and your community. To study one Veda it took a full-time study of 12 years ending at age 21. Most commoners were parents of numerous children by then. BUT there was a major revolution in 1439 when a German guy invented a printing press - not long after, printed books began appearing in India and in a flash we arrive at the 21st century when all the Vedas and allied literature is now IN PRINT!

    You cannot judge a society of 3000 years ago by our modern values. Freedom is a post-modern concept. Every society is in transition and evolving. 200 years ago the British transported women who stole potatoes to feed their starving children, to Australia for 7 -8 years. People were hanged in England for stealing anything above 40 pounds in value. The British had a very rigorous class system. Gays have been outcasts in European society till 50 years ago.It was after the invasions and the colonization that the stratification got really bad. Heck, when Marco Polo visited India in the 13th century, he said that both men and women walked around more or less naked and it was not considered anything. He was pretty puritanical and pissy about it. Then came the Islamic invasions, mass rape and worse - then women had to cover head to toe and restrictions increased over time to the point many communities didn’t allow their womenfolk to go outside due to the danger then it became a “custom”. Now we are called “conservative” for that. Oh the irony.Those who ask try to argue that one's birth cannot be the criterion for the choice of one's work. Should we continue with the philosophy of birth driven fate in this world? If they are considered as age old practices that perpetuate ignominy in our culture, why not the caretakers of our religion should declare it null and void. Well, send yourself back in a time machine - before government sponsored public education. How would a person get an education or learn a trade? It was from their fathers or their family. So priests son’s were priests, carpenter’s sons were carpenters etc.Nowadays everyone gets education and few people follow their traditional professions and everyone can follow a career of their choosing, therefore judging a person by their birth is wrong and should be condemned at every level.But registering a person’s caste on their ID card only reinforces and perpetuates the patriarchal hierarchical caste system

    Modern Hindus, buying into the Marxist social justice agenda are deeply embarrassed and have no idea how to respond.When investigating ancient social structures the most important factor is perspective and context. Modern social class categories do not really apply to ancient cultures..The HINDU varṇa system refers to the classical structure of society first described in the Rig Veda where society described as a single socio-economic being (puruṣa) was divided into four sections: brahmins - teachers, priests, scholars, advisors were the head of the social entity, the kshatriyas - warriors and administrators were the arms of the social entity, the vaishyas - farmers, were the loins and the sudras - legs, were the support, the stabilizers and the locomotion of society. This was a purely idealistic description of society and not a socio-political functional model. Power in ever society in invested in the economy and in those who control the means of production.

    The four Varnas are a general professional classification of human society - the same four categories can be found in every complex society.These were only a THEORETICAL

    All politicians, governing agencies, law-enforcement, border protection, armed forces etc. are “Kshatriyas”.

    All those who work in the teaching, consulting and legal profession are categorised as “Brahmins”

    Those who work in finance, investment, banking, entrepreneurs and investors, owners of the means of production etc. are “Vaishyas”

    And all those who work in service professions and vocations are “shudras”.

    Theoretical — which is what we get from the much maligned Manu et. al - is the division of society into the four well-known divisions known technically as varna. This is an ideological division which was never seriously or consistently applied since it was an entirely agrarian based system. This is what the British administrators latched onto for purposes of social engineering. The actual borders between these groups is very hazy.

    The unionization of labour known as jāti — these are hundreds and thousands of kinship groups that have transactional rights with other groups — cooperating and coordinating through structured channels.

    This is just a THEORETICAL concept

    The problems associated with this arrangement are universal — arrogance, hubris, discrimination, inequality, oppression, exploitation, coercion etc. - all of which are common to every society and indeed every human being. They are not unique to the caste-system. If they were then there would be no social-justice warriors anywhere except in India. Just wind back and read about the treatment of the working class and the poor in Victorian England and the theories of Marx - all based on European social conditions!

    There is hierarchy (pecking order) in every living species on the planet. Dominance hierarchy is imprinted in our biological and genetic DNA.Individuals are constantly competing for dominance in every sphere of existence - as with individuals so with groups.humans are social being. We eventually seek to form groups and like minded people get together.

    Hindu scriptures reflect reality. So an hierarchy of power and value is mentioned but there are many variations on what exactly the hierarchy is.

    Supremacism n Elitism in Caste like Japanese feudalism n Chinese imperial bureaucracy hv origins in sociology n economics. Skilling limitations, less opportunities due 2 hereditary transference of knowledge coupled vd stagnant urbanisation results in system like caste.It dies vd economic prosperity and education.

    Every complex sophisticated society on earth has a hierarchy based either on power or competence or both.

    Every power hierarchy however benign and benevolent at inception tends towards exploitation, oppression and tyranny.

    Every human being will seek his/her advantage at the expense of others unless restrained by some moral force. All primates naturally care for their own circle or tribe and will exploit and plunder others mercilessly.

    Fear of the other, stereotyping, racism, tribalism, discrimination and all forms of separative judgment and rationality are inherent human qualities which need to be overridden by moral and ethical teachings and practice.

    It was made when then there were no formal training centers for any particular profession in India,In Ancient times,There was no car,train,or any such modern equipment that we use today Suppose your father was a blacksmith, so at the age of 6, the moment you were ready, you started playing around with the hammer and anvil. By the time you were 8, your father saw that you anyway wanted to hit it, so it was better to hit it with some purpose. By the time you were 12, you were on the job By the time you were 18 or 20, you had some craft and expertise on your hand to make your own living. So if your father was a blacksmith, you became a blacksmith; if your father was a goldsmith, you became a goldsmith. Each profession developed its own training centers within the family structure because that was the only training center; all the craft, professionalism and skills in the society could only evolve like this. If you are a blacksmith, you do not try to go and do a goldsmith's job, you just do a blacksmith's job because we need a blacksmith in the society. When people multiplied and became a thousand blacksmiths, naturally they had their own way of eating, their own way of marriage and their own way of doing things, so they formed a caste. There is really nothing wrong with it if you look at it on one level. It was just a certain arrangement of convenience for the society. Between a blacksmith and a goldsmith, the kind of hammer they use, how they work, how they look what and how they eat, everything was naturally distinctly different because the type of work was very different. It is over a period of time that it became a means for exploitation. We started saying that a man who runs the temple is better than a man who runs the school. A man who runs the school is better than a man who runs the blacksmith shop. These are differences, do something. But we established differences as discriminations over a period of time. If we had just maintained the difference, we would have been a nice, colorful culture; but we made it ddiscriminatory. These kind of discriminations existed in every Society n Civilization n Culture at that times.Anybody can look this from China,Japan,Korea,To European Societies.… … All these societies reformed by themselves becoz there was no Foreign entity reforming them. The main Problem is Hindus were never given the chance to correct things by their own,Instead People who destroyed India made rules n labels for Indians .I am talking about a time when there was no car,planes,trains,electricity,Internet etc

    Every religion and ideology has the same problem - how about Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism even Sikhism.

    What about socialism? In theory wonderful, but in practice it caused the death of over 100 million people and has failed in every country it was implemented

    A knowledge of History would be useful in answering this question. All the major religions and cultures since the beginning of time are guilty of discrimination, oppression, subjugation and exploitation at some stage in their history, and much of this discrimination is sanctioned in their Holy Books (B & Q) by order of God. Both the B and the Q endorse slavery and a two tiered system of people - chosen/elite and the rejected or damned. The chosen heading to heaven and the rejected going straight to eternal damnation and torture. This is ETERNAL discrimination and torture which is far worse a doctrine than caste. The big difference is that the discriminatory practices of the caste system are a disgraceful social issue and are not endorsed by the Veda, Upanishads or the Gita. So they are man-made as opposed to divinely sanctioned practices.

    I suggest you study up on the European religious wars, the Inquisition, the witch-burning, slavery, the anti-semitism and diabolical treatment of the Jews in European Christian countries for 1900 years culminating in the murder of 6,000,000 of them during the 2nd WW - just because of their religion - now THAT is discrimination!! how racism is the foundation of the Western university; epistemicide, i.e. destruction of knowledge of indigenous peoples.

    Includes 1. Burning of libraries of all rival peoples (including Muslims and the Aztecs) 1/2…

    Indigenous pre-Christian oral knowledge held by European women was destroyed by burning women's bodies (witch-hunts; women's bodies were living books). Then read about the Islamic Jihad and the conquest of North Africa, Spain and the Middle East, and of course India and the discriminatory treatment of the unbelievers and schismatics. (Still on-going) Then read up on the history of conquest and settlement of the Americas, the genocide of the natives and their subjugation and impoverishment. Then take a peek at the civil war in USA and browse the Jim Crow laws. Then pop down to Australia to check out the treatment that the Aborigines received the notorious “aboriginal hunts” in which they were hunted and killed like animals and the deplorable conditions that they suffered and are still suffering. And on and on it goes - discrimination is not unique to Hinduism - it is a universal phenomena which all civilised nations are now working on in order to rectify. Gender, race, sex and class inequality is still on the front page of the Western political agenda today! So instead of wringing your hands and moaning, what are YOU doing to change the situation? Hinduism is an open system and has been evolving, reforming and adjusting for over 5000 years, so why should the reformation stop now?

    Hinduism by its very nature cannot be oppressive or discriminative since there is not one set of rules and regulations or standards that apply to everyone. There is no command and control structure and no one in charge.There is complete freedom to do as you please as long as it is legal according to civil law. No one is compelled to express belief in any dogmas or creeds, to pray, fast, go to temple, eat vegetarian food, or to abstain from alcohol of sex - it is up to the individual and his or her Karma - obviously there may be oppressive families and tyrannical patriarchs - but that has nothing to do with religion.

    • suyash95 259 days ago | +0 points


      The Hindu Varna-Jaati system was a socio-political arrangement for a stable and sustainable economy. Each JAATI had a share of the market which was specifically theirs and each JAATI was an independent professional and legal body. They made their own rules and laws and administered their own justice and provided social security to all its members. All professional education was undertaken by the caste for all its members in a time when there was no universal education.
      They decided what they would eat, how they would dress, who would marry and how ceremonies and other functions would be carried out. Some JAATIS ate beef some didn’t, some remarried their widows some didn’t, some engaged in child-marriage and some didn’t etc. etc.

      When the Jews arrived in India they were assigned the JAATIS of Saniwar Telis (Saturday oil-pressers because of their refusal to work on Saturdays) They remained as a distinct JAATIS until the 19 century when they adopted full status as Beni Israel Jews.
      The Parsis who sought refuge in India became vaishyas and survived with all their customs and language in tact to this day.
      The Christians of Kerala were also able to maintain their traditions and customs for nearly 2000 years BECAUSE of this system.

      The incredible multi-culturalism of India where myriads of groups have maintained a distinct identity for thousands of years is only because of the Varna-Jaati system and its group autonomy.

      The unit of an ancient pre-industrial society was the extended family; a large number of families working in the same profession constituted a jāti. The extended family fulfilled all those functions which are now fulfilled by the market and the government. Education, employment, health care, insurance, old age care, arranging of marriages, child-care and resolution of family disputes. Those matters which could not be resolved within the extended family were referred for arbitration to the elected governing body of the jāti community known as the panchayat. Each and every jāti was autonomous and took care of their own members providing training, employment, security, super-annuation etc. They decided their own laws and rules about marriage, food and personal and inter-personal conduct and every other aspect of social life. So for example some jātis ate pork and beef and others didn't, some were vegetarian, some drank alcohol and used marijuana, some were matriarchal some were patriarchal, some accepted divorce and remarriage of widows and others didn't. The jāti also resolved land and stock disputes and also dealt with crime such as theft, murder, rape etc.

      The different jātis also had networks of other jātis with whom they would exchange goods and services. One of the defining features of the jātis was the complex matter of inter-dining and inter-marriage. Inter-dining consists of sharing water, raw-food, dry food and cooked (wet) food. There were rules about what item of consumption could be taken from which jātis. Many of these rules were obvious - like vegetarian jātis would not take cooked food from carnivore jātis or inter-marry with them.

      Members of jātis would dress in certain ways and wear insignia and forehead marks which would identify them to others. On seeing another member of one's jāti one could be assured of mateship, help and hospitality.

      The kings would refrain from interfering with working of the jātis and concentrated on the collection of taxes. The jāti system in an agrarian society functioned to create a stable and sustainable economic framework. Nowadays it is no longer required since education, health-care, social security and crime is dealt with by the state and employment, business, insurance and retirement are all taken care of by the market. The vast majority of the traditional jāti occupations are now redundant just as 40% of the jobs done today will become redundant in another 30 years.

      Sidney Low in his 'Vision of India’ (pp.262-263, 2nd ed. of 1907) speaks of the beneficent aspect of the caste system in the following eloquent passage:
      ‘There is no doubt that it is the main cause of the fundamental stability and contentment by which Indian society has been braced up for centuries against the shocks of politics and the cataclysms of Nature. It provides every man with his place,’ his career, his occupation, his circle of friends. It makes him at the outset a member of a corporate body, it protects him through life from the canker of social jealousy and unfulfilled aspirations; it ensures him companionship and a sense of community with others in like case with himself. The caste organization is to the Hindu his club, his trade union, his benefit society, his philanthropic society. There are no work-houses in India and none are as yet needed.'

      Abbe Dubois, who wrote about 200 years ago after being in close touch with Hindus of all castes for 15 years as a missionary and not known for his love of Hinduism, remarks (in his work on the character, manners and customs of the people of India, translated into English and published in London in 1817)
      “I consider the institution of castes among the Hindu nations as the happiest effort of their legislation; and I am well convinced that, if the people of India never sunk into a state of barbarism, and if, when almost all Europe was plunged in that dreary gulf, India kept up her head, preserved and extended the sciences, the arts and civilization, it is wholly to the distinction of castes that she is indebted for that high celebrity.” (p.14)
      and he devotes several pages to the justification of this remark.


      The caste system was a very effective tool of social engineering, of structuring society, regulating labour and facilitating the exchange of goods and services.

      The caste system was common to all the ancient societies - Roman, Greek, Egyptian, European, Mayan, Incan, Chinese etc.

      But There was an exception .In all Other countries,There was no Social Mobility.In India,the mobility was available
      caste is derived from the Portuguese casta = class. In Hinduism caste is known as varṇa and jāti. Varṇa means "character" or "Nature" and refers to one's natural disposition. Jāti refers to the community in which one is born.
      The problems associated with the caste/class system are the universal ones — prejudice, discrimination, oppression, exploitation, corruption, coercion, etc. These faults are found in all Human Societies wherever they are. Even the Soviets and Chinese couldn’t eradicate the class system in their Communist Utopias.

      Why is the world so obsessed with India’s caste system?

      There is an obsessive tendency to project the caste system as a form of social exclusivism found only in India. Clearly, not enough attention is being directed to the history of social hierarchies and exclusions in the western world, nor is the peculiar development of India’s social stratification under British colonialism being fully appreciated.

      India’s caste system and ‘untouchability’ have been a matter of profound interest to a large number of social science researchers, historians, and even the general public in modern times. Perceptions of Indian caste have taken such deep roots in the minds of non-Indians that I am often asked whether I belong to an upper caste during casual conversations with westerners.

      This is not surprising, because even today, high school textbooks in the US such as ‘World Civilizations: Global Experience’ (AP Edition) carry sentences such as: “The Indian caste system is perhaps the most extreme expression of a type of social organization that violates the most revered principles on which modern Western societies are based.”

      Strangely, Indians themselves have internalized all these stories of exploitation of lower castes and untouchables and never asked questions about their validity or about similar practices in the western world. Was there really no caste system anywhere else except in India? How were the people who emptied human faeces from the privies of the rich citizens of Europe treated? How were the men who handled human corpses and animal carcasses treated? Did such people get the chance to sit at the same table as rich men or marry their daughters?

      Many will be surprised to know that under the European caste system, the lowest castes lived in terrible conditions until the 20th century. In Defiled Trade and Social Outcasts – Honour and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany, author Kathy Stewart describes social groups that were “dishonourable by virtue of their trade” in the 17th century and lists executioners, skinners, grave-diggers, shepherds, barber-surgeons, millers, linen-weavers, sow-gelders, actors, latrine cleaners, night-watchmen and bailiffs.

      Executioners were shunned by European society even though their services were frequently used.

      Ms Stewart goes on to connect the dishonourable trades with the times of the Roman Empire. “Throughout the Holy Roman empire dishonourable tradesmen suffered various forms of social, economic, legal, and political discrimination on a graduated scale of dishonour at the hands of ‘‘honourable’’ guild artisans and in ‘‘honourable’’ society at large. As a matter of course, dishonourable people were excluded from most guilds. In the case of the most extreme dishonour, that of executioners and skinners, Unehrlichkeit [concept of dishonour] could lead to exclusion from virtually all normal sociability. Executioners and skinners might be pelted with stones by onlookers, they might be refused access to taverns, excluded from public baths, or denied an honourable burial. Dishonour was transmitted through heredity, often over several generations. The polluting quality of dishonour is one of its defining characteristics. By coming into casual contact with dishonourable people or by violating certain ritualized codes of conduct, honourable citizens could themselves become dishonourable. Being labelled dishonourable had disastrous consequences for an honourable artisan. The guildsman, who was tainted by dishonour suffered a kind of social death. He would be excluded from his guild and forbidden to practice his trade, so that he would lose both his livelihood and the social and political identity which guild membership conferred. The fear of pollution through personal contact could go so far that neighbours and onlookers would refuse to help a dishonourable person even in the face of mortal danger. A dramatic example is the executioner’s wife who was left to die in childbirth in the north German town of Husum in the 1680s, because the midwife refused to set foot in the executioner’s house.”

      Throughout history, the task of handling wastes and faeces has never been a dignified one. Until as late as the 20th century, human excrement had to be removed physically from cesspits and privies in Europe. The European lower-caste people who did the dirty job were called gongfermours (French) or gong farmers in English. Do you think they were treated with respect and allowed to mingle freely with the upper echelons of society?

      Gong farmers or gongfermours in Europe were tasked with digging out and removing human excrement from privies and cesspits.

      The gong farmers of England were only allowed to work at night, so they were also called nightmen. They came into respectable neighbourhoods in the dead of the night, emptied cesspits and carted away the wastes to the boundaries of the cities. They were required to live in certain areas at the fringes of the city and could not enter the city during day-time. There were severe penalties for breaking this rule. Even after water closets arrived on the scene, their contents flowed into cesspits for a long time and needed to be cleaned out by nightmen.

      Worldwide, until modern systems of transporting and handling sewage and sludge came into existence, workers in this sector were ostracized from society. Until modern cities became populated with millions of migrants that helped to increase diversity and heterogeneity, communities were close-knit and exclusionary.

      Interestingly, the English word ‘caste’ is derived from the Portugese ‘casta’. It was used by the Spanish elites who ruled over conquered territories. The terms sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas were used in the 17th and 18th centuries to describe the mixed-race people in Spanish-controlled America and Philippines. The castas system classified people on the basis of birth, colour and race. The more white a person, the higher were the privileges and lesser the tax burden. The casta was an extension of the idea of purity of blood developed in Christian Spain to denote those without the “taint” of Jewish or Muslim heritage. That concept had already been institutionalised during the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of converted Jews and Muslims (European lower-castes) were killed on the suspicion that they had reverted to their previous religions.

      Edward Alsworth Ross (Principles of Sociology, 1920) gives a detailed description of rigid and strict caste system of Europe and notes that it was a product of forces within the European society. He says:

      “The tendency of the later [Roman] empire was to stereotype society by compelling men to follow the occupation of their fathers, and preventing a free circulation among different callings and grades of life. The man who brought the grain of Africa to the public stores of Ostia, the labourers who made it into loaves for distribution, the butchers who brought pigs from Samnium, Lucania or Bruttium, the purveyors of wine and oil, the men who fed the furnaces of the public baths, were bound to their calling from one generation to another… Every avenue of escape was closed… Men were not allowed to marry out of their guild… Not even a dispensation obtained by some means from the imperial chancery, not even the power of the Church could avail to break the bond of servitude.”

      The Indian ‘caste system’ was a label imposed by the British colonialists and this label did not correctly represent the stratification of the society. In the Vedas, there was no concept of purity of blood, which was a characteristic of Europe’s caste system. On the other hand, there was a concept of actions and personal qualities determining one’s ‘varna’. The Indian term “jaati” that refers to occupational division of society into barbers, cobblers, cattle-herders, blacksmiths, metal-workers and other trades is not a concept exclusive to India (even though the concept of artisans’ guilds has most likely originated in India). In every settled society in the world, traditionally, sons followed the same occupation as their fathers. The sons of carpenters became carpenters. The sons of weavers became weavers. It made sense because the children were well acquainted with the trades of their father, and could keep their trade secrets with themselves.

      In India, the lines dividing jaatis were initially loose and there were many instances of people moving across the hierarchy. There have been saints from lower castes such as Ravidas, Chokhamela and Kanakadasa who earned the respect of people and were not regarded as lesser than Brahmin saints. The Maratha Peshwas were Brahmins who became Kshatriyas. The Maratha king Shivaji was regarded as a low-caste in the beginning who, after his victory over many kingdoms, proclaimed himself as a Kshatriya with support from liberal Brahmins. Says M.N. Srinivas, the well-known sociologist:

      “It is necessary to stress here that innumerable small castes in a region do not occupy clear and permanent positions in the system. Nebulousness as to position is of the essence of the system in operation as distinct from the system in conception. The varna-model has been the cause of misinterpretation of the realities of the caste system. A point that has emerged from recent field-research is that the position of a caste in the hierarchy may vary from village to village. It is not only that the hierarchy is nebulous here and there, and the castes are mobile over a period of time, but the hierarchy is also to some extent local.”

      It must also be noted that the castes in India never had the upper-class/lower-class economic divisions as in Europe. The Brahmins were traditionally the poorest, often beggars. The Vaishya and Shudra merchants and tradesmen were often very well-off and hired the services of Brahmins. Land was typically owned by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The famous mathematician Aryabhata was himself a non-Brahmin and yet he had Namboodri Brahmins studying under him. Even today, there are hundreds of Brahmins engaged in cleaning toilets in India, whereas one will find it challenging to find a white man driving a garbage truck in America.

      Historian Dharampal, in his work ‘The Beautiful Tree’ on the indigenous education systems in 18th century India has laid out how British surveys carried out in Madras, Punjab and Bengal Presidencies revealed the widespread enrolment of children in schools. Almost every village had a school. In many schools, the Shudra children outnumbered the Brahmin children. These schools were gradually shut down as poverty became widespread under the British and villagers moved to cities in search of jobs.

      The lines of caste became more rigid on account of various factors such as foreign invasions and the British policy of “divide and rule”. Until the British carried out a wide-ranging survey from 1881 to list down various surnames into separate castes, most Indians were not aware of the placing of various castes. Typically, some family names were affiliated with a particular caste in one village and with a different caste in another village. Suddenly, hard lines of division were drawn with the survey. The sense of caste identity emphasized by the British which was aimed at preventing natives from uniting and resisting foreign occupation created deep schisms within Indian society. The placing of several scheduled castes and tribes into criminal categories by the British also caused the hardening of the caste lines with disastrous consequences for free India. Funnily, even as the class and caste practicing British codified the Indian castes, they did not allow English women to marry Indian men, while they had no qualms in taking on Indian women as concubines.

      It must be remembered that the stigmatising and hardening of India’s loosely-structured, occupation-based jaati system was a part of the strategy of the Christian missionaries. When Governor-General John Shore became a member of the evangelical Clapham Sect, missionary activity in India increased substantially. Hindus were declared to be the “most enslaved portion of the human race” on account of their superstitious religion. William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery champion who was also a member of the Clapham Sect declared in the House of Commons in 1813 that emancipating Hindus from their religion was as much the sacred duty of every Christian as emancipating Africans from slavery.

      No country in the world is free from inequalities. A constant human endeavour for more money and more power ensures that. A discriminatory system has been widespread, whether it worked against non-Christians, non-Muslims, blacks, homosexuals, women, AIDS patients or lepers. The racism that was historically prevalent in western societies and continues in various forms today is also a kind of pernicious caste system. The holocaust has been blamed on Nazism and anti-Semitism, but few have noticed the caste system in which it was embedded Even the United Nations Security Council has its own caste system with just five permanent members, which have veto powers. The graduates from Ivy League universities and members of exclusive clubs enjoy their own caste privileges.

      It can be argued that India has put together the world’s biggest affirmative action plan called “Reservations” to help the historically disadvantaged castes. With reserved slots in government schools and colleges, positions in government services and seats in electoral constituencies, there has been a massive effort to be inclusive. Whether the effort has yielded results or has resulted in a “reverse caste system” is something that needs to be examined.

      The modern stratification of caste-identity in India and its bizarre expressions is an outcome of the institutionalized policies of the British and Indian governments abetted by the Marxists and minorities, as well as poverty and lack of opportunities for growth. It is not due to any imagined perversity of the original classification of society in Hindu traditions.

      It is high time the world and Indians themselves stopped typecasting India as the land of the caste system and made an effort to understand its beginnings as well as the socio-economic hierarchies in every part of the globe. Having been the subject of sociological and anthropological studies of the western researchers for so long, the Indians have begun to believe that like laboratory specimens, their place is under the microscope. It is time to reverse the lenses. There is a whole world outside India waiting to be examined and understood from an Indian perspective.

      • suyash95 259 days ago | +0 points


        Boad outline of Castes prevailing in various nations globally, It may allow introspection for the responsible global institutions who blame Hindus for this curse on humanity; though it will still not be enough to silence the critics because of their vested ulterior motives ignoratio elenchi. Having said, it may empower the victim to plan their counter strategy for better cohesion and advancement.


        The current Chinese society under the tuff communist regime may have tried to change, but only with partial success under the rise of Mao Tse Tung in 1949 with establishment of the People’s Republic of China but the earlier Chinese society was divided into multiples of castes. From 17th century to the early 20th century, Chinese society was divided into closed social classes/castes: aristocracy and officials, literati, commoners, and people with inferior status. The commoners were called liangmin, meaning good people. The inferior people were called jianmin, meaning cheap, lowly and mean people. The lowest caste, jianmin, included slaves as well as people who were born into families of certain occupations. These occupations considered inferior, shunned and defiling, included nupu, changyou and lizu (yamen runners). Within each caste, there were further hierarchies and status levels. Domestic servants and agricultural slaves were considered less defiling than actors. The upper castes had special privileges and a separate legal code. For the same behavior or crime, a person of upper caste was treated differently by law than a person of lower caste. Offsprings inherited their caste status from their fathers i.e. on paternity (jiefi chengfen or chitsen).

        The commoner sub-castes in China were four, and were called the simin. These included the gentlemen (local nobility), farmers, merchants and artisans. The simin castes were considered the pure descent people. The so-called lowly, mean people were not part of the simin castes, and they were considered as filthy, dishonored and defiled by birth. Marriage between simin castes (commoners) and so-called lowly, mean castes were stringently prohibited. Marriages within commoners were also limited to those within sub-castes.

        Beyond these castes, China had its pariah caste, who were the untouchables and who passed on this status to their descendants automatically. The untouchables were considered impure by birth, and had to live in isolation away from rest of the community. Within these outcastes, there were hierarchies, such as dan boat people, bandang people, beggar households, and hereditary servant people. Their state was fixed for life; they were frequently despised wherever they went, and there was no legal way for them to escape from their inferior status. The outcastes married within their caste and status level, and taught their offsprings their occupations. Some of the outcast occupations involved human and animal waste, dead carcasses, leather work, human corpse rituals, postpartum blood rituals, and such work; for this, the Chinese outcasts were considered a polluted and irreversibly impure segment of the society. The untouchables were different and below the so-called lowly, mean people castes. The treatment of untouchables was fluid and less harsh in some parts of China, and very rigid in others. All of these Chinese castes belonged to the same race, same religion and same culture prevalent in their community. In the Chinese system of law, the outcastes were unequal, had limited or no rights, and in social matters judged accordingly. The social status of outcastes mirrored their legal status; both reflected their sense of social identity. The outcasts were shunned and ostracized by the upper castes, and the sub-castes excluded, shunned and mutually repulsed the other.

        Traditional Yi society in Yunnan was class based. People were split into the Black Yi (nobles, 5% of the population), White Yi (commoners), Ajia (33% of the Yi population) and the Xiaxi (10%). Ajia and Xiaxi were slaves. The White Yi were not slaves but had no freedom of movement. While Qing dynasty abolished appointment of hereditary headmen, slavery and the treatment of poor peasants as serfs continued through 1949.

        Watson finds that rigid caste strata system continued after China’s communist revolution, and was actively exploited in rural regions by party officials for control, at least through 1960s. The old established customs die hard irrespective of legal or political maneuvers.


        Korea had its own version of caste system through the 19th century. Yangban, above, were the aristocratic caste. Below them were petty officials, the middle people called Chungin. Inferior and below them were the freed commoners who were peasants and merchants called Pyeongmin or Sangmin. At the bottom were so-called vulgar commoners, called Cheonmin caste, with the pariah castes, the untouchable Baekjeong. Hereditary, hierarchical and closed, marriages across caste lines was strongly opposed.

        The Baekjeong were an “untouchable” minority group of Korea. The term baekjeong literally means “a butcher”, but later changed into “common citizens” to change the class system so that the system would be without untouchables. In the early part of the Goryeo period (918-1392), these minority groups were largely settled in fixed communities. However, the Mongol invasion left Korea in disarray and anomie, and these groups became nomadic. Other subgroups of the baekjeong are the ‘chaein’ and the ‘hwachae’.During the Joseon dynasty, they were specific professions like basket weaving and performing executions.

        With the unification of the three kingdoms in the 7th century with foundation of Goryeo dynasty in Middle Ages, Koreans systemised its own native caste system. At the top were the two official groups, the Yangban that literally means “two classes.” It was composed of scholars (Munban) and warriors (Muban). Within the Yangban, the Scholars (Munban) enjoyed a significant social advantage over the warrior (Muban) caste, until the Muban Rebellion in 1170. Muban ruled Korea under successive Warrior Leaders until the Mongol Conquest in 1253. In 1392, with the foundation of Joseon dynasty, the full ascendancy of munban over muban was final.

        Beneath the Yangban class were the ‘Jung-in’ – literally “middle people”. They were the technicians. This was small and specialized in fields such as medicine, accounting, etc. Beneath the Jung-in were the ‘Sangmin’ – literally ‘commoner’. These were mostly the peasants. Beneath the Sangmin were the ‘Chunmin’. They specialised in lowly professions such as executing, butchering etc. These people composed the majority of Korean society until the 17th century. Underneath them all were the Baekjeong, meaning today is butcher. They originate from the Khitan invasion of Korea in the 11th century. The defeated Khitan invaders who had surrendered were settled in isolated communities throughout Goryeo to forestall rebellion. They were valued for their skills in hunting, herding, butchering, and making of leather, common skill sets among nomads. Over time their ethnic origin was forgotten, and they formed the bottom layer of Korean society. Korea had a very large slave population, ‘nobi’, ranging from a third to half of the entire population for most of the millennium between the Silla period and the Joseon DynastySlavery was legally abolished in Korea in 1894 but remained extant in reality until 1930. Yet the Yangban families have carried on traditional education and formal mannerisms into the 20th century.

        Balinese caste system

        Caste system in Bali is akin to the four varnas of India with a little different spellings e.g.

        – Shudras – peasants making up more than 90% of Bali’s population. They constitute close to 93% of population.

        – Wesias (Vaishyas) – the caste of merchants & administrative officials

        – Ksatrias (Kshatriyas) – the warrior caste, it also included some nobility and kings

        – Brahmins – holy men and priests

        The Brahmana caste was further subdivided by these Dutch ethnographers into two: Siwa and Buda. The Siwa caste was subdivided into five – Kemenuh, Keniten, Mas, Manuba and Petapan. The other castes were similarly further sub-classified by these 19th century and early 20th

        century ethnographers based on numerous criteria ranging from profession, endogamy or exogamy or polygamy, and a host of other factors in a manner similar to castas in Spanish colonies such as Mexico, and castes in British colonies such as India.

        Hawaii and Polynesia

        Ancient Hawaii was a caste-based society, similar to Polynesia. People were born into specific social classes; social mobility was extremely rare. Each caste had their distinct dresses, mores, and hierarchical status. Each caste was subdivided into 4 to 11 endogamous sub-castes. The primary castes were:

        Alii – the royal suuwop caste. This consisted of the high and lesser chiefs of the realms. They governed with divine power called mana.

        – Kahuna, the priestly and professional caste. Priests conducted religious ceremonies, at the heiau and elsewhere. Professionals included master carpenters and boat builders, chanters, dancers, genealogists and physicians and healers.

        – Maka?inana, kanaka-wale or noa the commoner caste. Commoners farmed, fished and exercised the simpler crafts. They labored not only for themselves and their families, but to support the chiefs and kahuna.

        – Kauwa, the outcast or slaves. They are believed to have been war captives, or anyone born in an outcast or slave family. Marriage between higher castes and the kauwa was strictly forbidden. The kauwa worked for the chiefs and were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau. They were not the only sacrificial victims; law-breakers of all classes or defeated political opponents were also acceptable as victims. (Organised cannibalism)

        West Asia

        Social stratification into caste system elsewhere in the world has been part of West Asia and neighboring regions, both before and after advent of Islam. Partly they have been dealt with Muslim and Persian cultures in earlier sections. These caste strata were endogamous, exclusionary and their social status inherited. In most cases castes had no social mobility. In some cases, mobility was possible; for example, a slave caste member could get manumission according to a mukatab. In some societies, social mores dictated that women could only marry men in her caste or a caste higher than her own. Men had no such rules.

        West Asia has witnessed a numbers of pariah castes e.g. Huteimi, Sulaib, Jabarti, Hijris, Jabart or Gabart, Akhdam amongst others; a social status granted to them by birth. They have been shunned and ostracized by their local communities.. These castes are considered ritually unclean. Serjeant reports them as amongst the untouchable castes of South Arabia. Mainstream Arab society can be conceived of as divided into three classes, Bedouin (nomads), farmers – fellahin (villagers) and hadar (townspeople).

        In Yemen there exists a further caste, the African-descended Al-Akhdam who are perennial manual workers and are still considered lowly, dirty, ill-mannered, immoral and untouchables with over 1 million of these discriminated and ostracized people – about 5 percent of Yemenis.

         Latin America

        The Spanish and Portuguese colonists of the Americas instituted a system of racial and social stratification and segregation based on a person’s heritage – castas. The system remained in place in most areas of Spanish America up to the time of independence from Spain. Classes were used to identify people with specific racial or ethnic heritage e.g. PeninsularCriolloCastizoMestizoCholoMulatoIndioZambo and Negro. This caste system was based on race, ethnicity and economic condition. According to Cahill, for governance ease, the Spanish developed a complicated breeding calculus to classify people into twenty-one ‘castas or genizaros’ according to their color, race and origin of ethnic types. Both the Spanish colonial state and the Church expected higher tax, proportionate tribute payments from those of darker color and lower socio-racial categories.

        Caribbean Nations

        Modern day social stratification in Caribbean nations such as Jamaica and Haiti developed during the colonial era with closed, hierarchical social stratification in castes. The colonial planters from Britain and France, and other European powers stratified laborers. Johnson describes that the African identity constructed the caste system by dividing enslaved Africans, mixed race offsprings, and indentured servants by their occupations, and by skin color; which proved a singular most powerful symbol of social and economic mobility. The perpetuation of caste system amongst Africans continued through the 20th century, claims Johnson to maintain social control in the Caribbean nations that served colonial interests.

        Franklin Knight notes that the caste system was extended to the whites also. At the top were the elite Europeans who owned plantations. Next in social hierarchy were the occupational merchants, officials, doctors and clergymen. At the bottom of the white social hiearchy came the so-called “poor whites,” often given such pejorative names as ‘red legs’ in Barbados, or ‘walking buckras’ in Jamaica. The lowest hierarchical layer of whites included small farmers, servants, laborers, artisans, as well as the various hangers-on required by the so-called “deficiency Laws” – requiring plantations to retain a minimum number of whites to safeguard against slave revolts. Slaves and indentured laborers were segregated from others, and were further classified into separate groups. Beyond these were colored people of mixed descent, who were treated with suspicion.

        West Africa

        Griot, described as an endogamous caste of West Africa, specializes in oral storytelling and culture preservation. They have been also referred to as the bard caste.

        Madhiban, also known as Midgan or Medigan or Boon or Gaboye, specialize in leather occupation; have been listed as one of three occupational castes discriminated in East Africa. Austrian Red Cross reports that they, along with Tumal and Yibir people are locally known collectively as sab, meaning low caste people.

        Among the Igbo of Nigeria – especially EnuguAnambraImoAbiaEbonyiEdo and Delta states of the country – Obinna finds Osu caste system has been and continues to be a major social issue. The Osu caste is determined by one’s birth into a particular family irrespective of the religion practised by the individual. Once born into Osu caste, this Nigerian person is an outcast, shunned and ostracized, with limited opportunities or acceptance, regardless of his or her ability or merit. Obinna discusses how this caste system-related identity and power is deployed within government, Church and indigenous communities.

        The Osu caste system of eastern Nigeria and southern Cameroon is derived from indigenous religious beliefs and discriminate against the “Osus” people as “owned by deities” and outcasts. The Songhai economy was based on a caste system. The most common were metalworkers, fishermen, and carpenters. Lower caste participants consisted of mostly non-farm working immigrants, who at times were provided special privileges and held high positions in society. At the top were noblemen and direct descendants of the original Songhai people, followed by freemen and traders.

        In a review of social stratification systems in Africa, Richter reports that the term caste has been used by French and American scholars to many groups of West African artisans. These groups have been described as inferior, deprived of all political power, have a specific occupation, are hereditary and sometimes despised by others. Richter illustrates caste system in Cote d’lvoire, with six sub-caste categories. Unlike other parts of the world, mobility is sometimes possible within sub-castes, but not across caste lines. Farmers and artisans have been, claims Richter, distinct castes. Certain sub-castes are shunned more than others, e.g. exogamy is rare for women born into families of woodcarvers.

        Similarly, the Mandé societies in GambiaGhanaGuineaIvory CoastLiberiaSenegal and Sierra Leone have social stratification systems that divide society by ethnic ties. The Mande regards the jonow slaves as inferior. Similarly, the Wolof in Senegal is divided into three main groups, the geer (freeborn/nobles), jaam (slaves and slave descendants) and the underclass neeno. In various parts of West Africa, Fulani societies also have caste divisions. Other castes include Griots, Forgerons, and Cordonniers.

        Tamari has described endogamous castes of over fifteen West African peoples, including the Tukulor, Songhay, Dogon, Senufo, Minianka, Moors, Manding, Soninke, Wolof, Serer, Fulani, and Tuareg. Castes appeared among the Malinke people no later than 14th century, and were present among the Wolof and Soninke, as well as some Songhay and Fulani populations, no later than 16th century. Tamari claims that wars, such as the Sosso-Malinke war described in the Sunjata epic, led to the formation of blacksmith and bard castes among the people that ultimately became the Mali Empire. As West Africa evolved over time, sub-castes emerged that acquired secondary specializations or changed occupations. Social status according to caste was inherited by off-springs automatically. That is, children of higher caste men and lower caste or slave concubines would have caste status of father.

        Central Africa

        Albert in 1960 claimed that the societies in Central Africa were caste like social stratification systems. Similarly, in 1961, Maquet’s theories though controversial, note that the society in Rwanda and Burundi can be described best as castes. Maquet noted the Tutsi considered themselves as superior, with the more numerous Hutu and the least numerous Twa regarded, by birth, as respectively, second and third in the hierarchy of Rwandese society and were largely endogamous, exclusionary and with limited mobility.

        East Africa

        In a review published in 1977, Todd reports that numerous scholars report a system of social stratification in different parts of Africa that resembles some or all aspects of caste system. Examples of such caste systems, he claims, are to be found in Rwanda and Ethiopia in communities such as the Gurage and Konso. He then presents the Dime of South-West Ethiopia, amongst who operates a system which Todd claims can be unequivocally labeled as caste system. The Dime has seven castes whose size varies considerably. Each broad caste level is a hierarchical order that is based on notions of purity, non-purity and impurity. It uses the concepts of defilement to limit contacts between caste categories and to preserve the purity of the upper castes. These caste categories have been exclusionary, endogamous with social identity inherited.

        The Borana Oromo of southern Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa also have a class system, where the Watta, an acculturated Bantu group, represent the poorest.

        The traditionally nomadic Somali people are divided into clans, wherein the Rahanweyn agro-pastoral clans and the occupational clans such as Madhiban are sometimes treated as outcasts.

        North Africa

        In Islamic North Africa, caste system has existed in recent centuries amongst the Tuareg people. The castes include: nobles (imoshar), clerics (ineslemen), pastoral vassals (imghad), and artisans (inadan). The clerics occupy an inferior position to nobles in the Tuareg hierarchy of castes. All of these people of Tuareg castes are of the same race, religion and culture.

        Below the four castes were slaves (éklan or Ikelan in Tamasheq, Bouzou in Hausa, Bella in Songhai). Eklan were further split into distinct sub-castes, and their serf status was inherited. Other Tuareg castes were also hereditary and social strata closed with one exception: if a slave woman married a noble or vassal, her children could belong to the respective free caste. A 2005 report claimed that 8 percent of modern Niger‘s population continues to be slave, discriminated and routinely humiliated.

        Sahrawi-Moorish society in Northwest Africa was traditionally (and still is, to some extent) stratified into several tribal classes, with the Hassane warrior tribes ruling and extracting tribute – horma – from the subservient Znaga tribes. Although lines were blurred by intermarriage and tribal reaffiliation, Hassane were considered descendants of the Arab Maqil tribe Beni Hassan, and held power over Sanhadja Berber-descended zawiya (religious) and znaga (servant) tribes. The so-called Haratin lower class, largely sedentary oasis-dwelling black people, has been considered natural slaves in Sahrawi-Moorish society.

        In Algeria, “desert Berbers and Arabs usually have a rigid class system, with social ranks ranging from nobles down to an underclass of menial workers, mostly ethnic Africans.”


        Haviland says social systems identical to caste system elsewhere in the world, are not new in Europe. Stratified societies were historically organized in Europe as closed social systems, each endogamous, into e.g. nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasants. These had distinctive privileges and unequal rights that were neither a product of informal advantages because of wealth nor rights enjoyed as another citizen of the state. These unequal and distinct privileges were sanctioned by law or social mores, confined to only that specific social subset of the society, and were inherited automatically by the offspring. In some European countries, these closed social classes were given titles, followed mores and codes of behavior according to their closed social status, even wore distinctive dress. Royalty rarely married a commoner; and if it did, they lost certain privileges. This endogamy limitation wasn’t limited to royalty; in Finland, for example, it was a crime, until modern times to seduce and defraud into marriage by declaring a false social class. In parts of Europe, these closed social caste groups were called estates.

        Along with the three or four estates in various European countries, another outcast layer existed below the bottom layer of the hierarchical society, a layer that had no rights and was there to serve the upper layers. It was prominent for centuries, and continued through middle 19th century. This layer was called serfs. In some countries such as Russia, the 1857 census found that over 35 percent of the population was serf. While the serfs were of the same race and religion, serfs were not free to marry whomever their heart desired. Serf mobility was heavily restricted, and in matters of who they can marry and how they lived, they had to follow rules put into place by the State and the Church, by landowners, and finally families and communities established certain social mores that was theirs to follow because the serfs were born into it.

        In modern times, regions of Europe had untouchables in addition to the upper castes and serfs. These were people of the same race, same religion and same culture as their neighbors yet were considered morally impure by birth, repulsive and shunned, just like the Burakumin caste of Japan and Osu caste of Nigeria.

        A sense of hereditary exclusion, unequal social value, and mutual repulsion was part of the relationship between the different social strata in Europe. In late 19th century through the early 20th century, millions of the outcasts, downtrodden and socially ostracized people from Europe migrated on their own, or transferred as indentured laborers to the New World.


        Romani people have been variously described as the low-caste or untouchable people of Europe. While some are dark skinned and insist on their own customs, others are of the same color and are Christians or Muslim like the communities they live in. This map shows their relative distribution in various parts of Europe.

        Along with the rest of the world, Europe has had its own periods of social trauma. Twice in Europe’s history, for example, Romani people were the target of genocide. In other periods, they were expelled, or children forcibly removed from their parents so that they can learn a superior culture (?).

        The discrimination of Roma people, in different parts of Europe, for the last 1000 years, has been an elaborate and complex social system. In the best of times, the European social system enforced elements of endogamy, closed occupation, culture, social class, affiliation and power – all of which define any caste system. In the worst of times, such as during the World War II, just like Jewish people, they were gathered in concentration camps and exterminated.

        Alaina Lemon writes that in parts of Europe, Roma people have been called children of India; or worse, in Eastern Europe as ‘Asian parasites’. Everywhere, their Indic origins have been reduced from historical narrative to a source of stereotypes about India (stress). These stereotypes and prejudices about India have been projected onto Roma people. Some European communities, claims Lemon, consider the Roma people to be of low caste. They have been called untouchables in Europe.

        Czech Republic

        Caste system in Czech Republic and neighboring countries emerged few centuries after an equivalent system was prevalent in Western Europe. According to Gella, the royalty created a system of warrior nobility to preserve their kingdom. This warrior nobility were given exclusive rights to land, each with ‘glebae adscripti’ (peasants tied to the land). This warrior caste thus became landowners. Caste consciousness, hereditary titles, exclusive privileges and strata discrimination followed. As armies modernized into infantry and team effort, the warrior caste evolved into modern form of nobility caste. The political boundaries shifted with time between Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and other countries; the three social strata remained a constant: clergy, nobility and peasants.


        Spain has had a number of isolated and endogamous social groups where an individual’s mores, culture and worth is set at birth. These groups had negligible mobility. Examples include the Vaqueiros de Alzada of Asturias, the Maragatos of Leon, the Agotes of Navarra, and the Kale (gypsies) of the entire Iberian Peninsula. These have been called castes, and by some as accursed races.


        Cagots were the shunned caste of France. They were considered polluted and untouchables by birth. They were not allowed to enter a Church through the main entrance. There is a segregated drinking fountain for Cagots in Oloron Cathedral.

        Under the Ancien Régime, French society was divided into three estates (“États” in French). The first estate was the clergy, the second estate was the nobility, and the third estate was the commoners (“Tiers État” in French). The clergy itself was divided into an upper and a lower stratum. Even after the French Revolution, a closed system of social stratification continued through the 19th century. These groups were endogamous; marriages were arranged particularly in the aristocracy and bourgeoisie classes. Social mobility between these strata, regardless of an individual’s effort, was difficult and uncommon.

        Roland Mousnier is amongst those French sociologists who found that the French society was stratified beyond three levels. Mousnier proposed that France, in modern history, had at least four major social levels and nine sub-hierarchies. He observed that the closed social system idea in France resembled in design the essence of a caste system. The vertically ordered society had social mores and inherited sense of maître-fidèle – relationships between those considered to be socially superior and those in the socially inferior orders.

        The history of France, along with Spain, has other sides of caste systems. Along with Romani people (also called Gypsie), France has long shunned Cagots (also called Agotes, Gahets, Gafets, Capets, Caqueux). For centuries, through the modern times, the majority regarded Cagots of western France and northern Spain as an inferior caste, the untouchables. While they had the same skin color and religion as the majority, in the Churches, they had to use segregated doors, drink from segregated fonts, receive communion on the end of long wooden spoons. Socially isolated Cagots were endogamous, and chances of social mobility non-existent.


        The hierarchical social strata in Netherlands included prince, noblemen (some called Ridder, knight), clergy, patricians (councilmen and officials), bürghers (commoners), plebeians (vagabonds), and peasants. The nobility was either inherited op allen (by all descendants), or by met het recht op eerstgeboorte (first born male per Salic law). The noblemen and clergy had exclusive privileges and rights, such as being tax exempt. The lowest castes, the peasants supported the upper estates of society not only through direct taxation but also agriculture and keeping of livestock.

        The Dutch created unusual caste policies in their colonies. For example, in Sri Lanka, the Dutch formally promulgated a rule that automatically expelled any Dutch woman from the Sri Lankan Dutch community, if she married a man who was not Dutch, yet no equivalent rule for expelling Dutch men. The Dutch in Sri Lanka were not an exception; over time, laws forbidding intermarriages between social strata were seen in other colonies, such as South Africa.


        Germany had its hierarchical social strata like The Netherlands before the 20th century. Early modern era in Germany also witnessed the so called unehrliche Leute (dishonorable or dishonest people), an outcaste group; considered dishonorable by virtue of their trades. This dishonor was either hereditary or arose from ritual pollution whereby honourable citizens could become dishonorable by coming into casual contact with these untouchables. Therefore, the social mores required the upper caste honorable people to shun and ostracize the lower caste dishonorable people leading to endogamy. The dishonorable people included the executioners, skinners, grave-diggers, latrine-cleaners, shepherds, barber-surgeons, millers, sow-gelders (spay female animals), and bailiffs. The honourable and dishonorable people were from the same race, religion and culture. Stuart described unehrliche Leute caste in the city of Augsburg over three centuries through early 19th century in early modern Germany. She notes that this was a closed system, with negligible social mobility, and this severely affected the self identity of the so called dishonorable people. Other sociologists such as Danckert claim unehrliche Leute caste and other hereditarily excluded poor were present elsewhere in Christian Germany. Jewish extermination is well known.


        In medieval Anglo-Saxon England, society was organized, according to Alfred the Great into three hierarchical orders: Gebedmen (men who pray), Fyrdmen (men who fight), Weorcmen (men who work). Other classifications included Ethel (nobles), Eorls (freemen) and Ceorls (villeins, farmers).

        Even past the medieval times, characteristics of closed social systems that define any caste system, existed in England through the modern times. Beatrice Gottlieb notes that households in England, just like the rest of Europe, experienced social stratification from ancient times through the 20th century. Inheritance and a sense of social value fixed for life, two key requirements of any caste system according to Haviland, was a pervasive principle of almost everyone’s life.

        The principle of inheritance continues to recent times. The House of Lords of the UK parliament had, for example through the 1990s, over 700 members with a hereditary right to being a lawgiver; this practice was reformed in 2004, still some 92 parliamentary seats are set aside for hereditary peers as of 2012. Edward Freeman called such peerage system as a privileged hereditary caste.

        More generally, inheritance now is quite different than those in the past. Offsprings still inherit, to the extent the parents own something of material value, and leave instructions in their will or per local laws. In past, however, everything was inherited – material possessions, social status, lifelong occupation and a personal sense of value. This principle defined the closed system, and this principle was not a function of one’s skin color or religion or economic class. It applied to all of England, or Europe for that matter. At the highest levels of hierarchical society, titles and names and special privileges were inherited. Status was enshrined in the law, regarded as hereditary, and fixed. Mobility was inconceivable. A serf, a commoner, a gentleman, a lady, a lord, a noble or a royalty was what he or she was from birth. Even those in the Church inherited their privileges and status. From clergy jobs to farming to shepherd to smith to cobbling jobs, virtually all occupations were inherited. Peasants whose job was to deliver babies were the offspring of the previous holder of that job. This system was so fixed, the mores so strong, the affiliation and culture so widely ingrained that while nobles were insisting that certain exclusive privileges be theirs, theirs alone and of their offsprings, shepherds in the countryside were insisting, occasionally with violent demonstrations, that their jobs be strictly hereditary. In economically impoverished times, such demands for hereditary exclusivity and related mores were stronger.

        Endogamy within England’s closed social strata was common. The social structure and classes in England remains a controversial topic. Like the rest of the world, social mobility in modern England – and Europe – has increased because of industrialization, economic growth, access to knowledge, and cultural transformations. Sociologists such as Mike Savage suggest there is not simple decline of social strata identities, but rather a subtle reworking of how the strata are articulated. Please also peruse: “Caste or Class Systems versus India in Global Perspective – CHAPTER NINE & TEN” – Western Obsession on Caste in Indian Society.


        Ireland had social strata that were hereditary, closed and hierarchical. Examples include Flaith (lords, warriors), Áes Dána (druidsfilibards) and Áes Trebtha (farmers). These three orders were later subdivided into seven ranks or grades.

        In some ways, Ireland’s caste system was unique from other countries of the world. Along with the nobility and clergy caste, the Celtic population treated poets as the upper caste. Known as the bards caste, they and other upper castes had privileges that they inherited by birth. These castes had sub-castes, each with its privileges, its distinctions, its peculiar dresses. The bards, according to Williams for example, were divided into so-called Fileas or Fili, who accompanied the Celtic chief. Below the Fileas, were the Brehons – the second layer of bards caste. The Brehons composed verses of law. The third sub-caste was the Senachies who preserved the genealogies in a poetic form, along with the annals of time. The Senachies were the repository and disseminators of Celtic cultural truths. The bards and other upper castes were exempt from lay courts, and they were also endogamous. The farming peasants and artisans were at the bottom of the social strata.

        Over the modern history of Ireland, Greer and Murray observe that it would be difficult to find a more rigid example of caste system than that of 19th-century rural Ireland, with its landlords and peasants. The society was closed, endogamous and with no mobility.


        Hungarian nobles, circa 1831: Before the 19th century, closed social hierarchies were common in Hungary. Each had their own mores, hereditary privileges (maiores natu et dignitate), and endogamous practices. The Hungarian castes were: Nobility (f?nemesség), Nobles of the Church (egyházi nemesek), and commoners. Each of these had their own segregated sub-hierarchies – for example the prelates, the magnates and the nobles-in-laws. These sub-classifications and privileges changed over the history of Hungary. The special privileges for the Clergy and the Nobles continued through Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Even past the 1848 Revolution, these closed social systems continued to enjoy hereditary power and privileges through late 19th century.

        Szelényi observes that at the start of the 20th century, Hungary along with other countries in Central Europe resembled a caste society.


        Russia has had a long history of caste system. The details changed with time, the core was the same: a hierarchical society, with each strata closed, privileges that were hereditary, and mobility was non-existent.

        Noble gentry had serfs to serve them. Both the nobility and the serfs had sub-layers and social ranks. Palmer observed that Russian society in early 20th century had a rigid insistence and strict observance of differences in social rank. The serfs of a lower level, for example, would never take their meals with serfs of a higher level.

        The Russian priests formed a caste apart, according to Palmer. They were distinct from both the peasants and the nobles. The sons of priests were forbidden to undertake other occupations, and compelled to become priests. Priests could marry, but only within their caste. For centuries, the priestly caste had remained an unmixed social group. There was near universal prejudice against the priests among other social strata.

        Sweden and Finland and Norway and Denmark

        Stories on shunned social strata from 1948: The four estates in Sweden and Finland were the clergy, nobles, burgesses and peasantry. The hierarchical, exclusionary and hereditary characteristics of these were similar to estates in other parts of Europe.

        Below the four estates, were the villeins. To reflect how the people belonging to the upper castes saw them, the Finnish word for “obscene“, säädytön, has the literal meaning “estateless“.

        In Sweden, one of the shunned social strata in modern times has been the Tattare. They were called natmandsfolk in Denmark. In Norway, they were called fanter. Another word for them was kältringar. They emptied the latrines, worked as hudavdragare (processing skin, leather), chimney sweeps and busters at night. In 1948, Sweden witnessed Tattarkravallerna Jönköping, where the prejudices for these social strata led to speeches on how these people were degenerate, impure, and parasitic and corroded from within, triggering violence and cleansing.


        Palmer noted the caste system prevalent amongst Polish people in the 20th century, in his essay on Austro-Hungarian life in comparison to life in continental Europe. He noted:

        “The Polish aristocracy is, in fact, a caste entirely apart from the people. This, it is true, is also the case among the aristocracies of nearly all Continental countries, but in hardly any other nationality is the gulf so wide as almost to exclude the possibility of mutual feelings of respect. The Austro-German nobles, though no less a caste, are, as a rule, decidedly proud of the Germanic peasantry, and regard them as infinitely superior to those of other races. The Magyar nobles have, perhaps, an even higher opinion of the peasantry of their own nationality. The Polish peasant, on the contrary, is not regarded with greater contempt by the Austrians, Prussians, or Russians than he is, with rare exceptions, by nobles of his own race.”

        — Francis Palmer, reporting on life in Europe

        Lenin called Jewish people in Poland as a caste, a claim that became controversial. Celia Heller has called the rigid social segregation and status of Jewish people from Middle Ages through early 20th century in Poland as a closed caste system.


        Georges Dumézil in his controversial trifunctional hypothesis proposed that ancient societies had three main classes each with distinct functions: the first judicial and priestly; the second connected with the military and war, while the third class focused on production, agriculture, craft and commerce. Dumézil offered Roman Empire with its flamenslegions and peasants, along with the caste system in India to illustrate his theory.

        After the Roman Empire, hierarchical castes continued in Italy from ancient times to the medieval times. Jacob Burckhardt, in his cultural classic The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, observed that hierarchy, exclusionary and inherited caste structure was pervasive in Italy, from the nobili caste to the merchants to the peasants. These castes had a complex structure in the fragmented city states of Italy such as Genoa, Venice, Naples, Roma, Florence and Lombardy; in some, the merchants were the nobili, in others the nobili despised the merchant caste and were agriculturalists, in yet others the nobili caste despised all work. Even the Church and hereditary clergy had become highly hierarchical, and the holders of benefices, the canons and the monks were under scandalous aspersions and mutual repulsion. It was Renaissance in Italy, in the late Middle Ages, that started a movement of hostility to caste hierarchy, and then a shift towards ideas of equality, merit, freedoms, skepticism, innovation, judge people by their talent and not by their birth, and such concepts.


        Caste system develops, in view of Ross, when the worth difference within a society sharpens to such a point that the social superior shuns fellowship and intermarriage with the inferior, thus creating a society made up of closed hereditary classes. This happened in European history for centuries. For example, among the Saxons of the eighth century social divisions were cast-iron, and the law punished with death the man who should presume to marry a woman of rank higher than his own. The Lombards, claims Ross, killed the serf who ventured to marry a free woman, while the Visigoths and Burgundians scourged and burned them both. Among the early Germans a freedman remained under the taint of ancestral servitude until the third generation, i.e., until he could show four free-born ancestors.

        As class lines harden, the upper class becomes more jealous of its status and resists or retards the admission of commoners, however great their merit or wealth. This was the motivation of observed caste lines in the Roman Empire. Castes become a means to block social mobility. Over time, it does not matter if an individual has merit or talent or creative energy. The birth or purity of blood becomes more decisive for social status than the differences of occupation or wealth which raised up the original social inequalities. Look for more details on global perspectives and for “The last untouchable in Europe”.

        Gender and Class/Clan in British Society:

        The Western English society was deeply ridden in the class divisions which are very well signified by certain examples noted here. ‘Pamela or Virtue Rewarded’ is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, first published in 1740. It tells the story of a beautiful 15-year old maidservant named Pamela Andrews, whose nobleman master, Mr. B, makes unsolicited advances towards her after the death of his mother, whose maid she was since age 12. Mr. B is infatuated with her, first by her looks and then her innocence and intelligence, 
        but his high rank hinders him from proposing marriage. He abducts her, locks her up in one of his estates, and attempts to seduce and rape her.

        The history of Ballochmyle Hospital, Mauchline, Scotland and its Mansion House which belonged to the noble Alexander family had a deep trench dug out on the front landscape connected with its backyard and to the passage on the village side meant for the use of the family servants. The trench must have been about ten feet deep opposite the front main entrance so that the heads of the servants will not be seen by the noble family and remain well inside the trench. This has been now filled up sometime perhaps in the 1980s. It is another stark revelation of the ‘Master-Servant’ relationship in the modern British society. The Mansion House is also connected to the memory of Robert Burns, the celebrated Scottish national poet and his famous work – Auld Lang Syne and Bonny Lass O Ballochmyle.

        Then there are the Ilfracombe Tunnel Beaches in North Devon where the males and females had to use separate bathing beaches built in 1823. The gender segregation was enforced very strictly by employing guards to prevent any stealth trespassers on either side. But they were opened to both sexes in 1905 only. For the picture and more details peruse the link below.

        Victorian era was a conservative period and the status of the females from the present standards was far below par in the British society. It is exemplified by the saga of the most learned lady writer who had to use a male pseudonym to attract a wider readership only because the society in those days did not consider writings by female authors seriously. Mary Anne Evans, who wrote under the pseudonym George Eliot, was born on November 22, 1819, at South Farm, Arbury Hall in Warwickshire.

        Mary Anne Evans’s transformation into the fiction writer George Eliot began in 1856, when Mary Anne decided to try her hand at writing novels. In 1858, George Eliot’s second novel, Adam Bede, became a critical and popular success; soon after, George Eliot’s identity as Mary Anne “Lewes” became known. Though this disclosure did not threaten her writing career, she was forced to put up with an increasing amount of personal criticism as her literary fame as George Eliot grew.

        Encouraged by her success, Eliot began exploring continental and political themes in her next works: Romola (1863), which was set in Renaissance Italy, and Felix Holt, The Radical (1866), which depicted the political controversy surrounding the Reform Bill of 1832. Mary Anne began writing Middlemarch in 1869. The novel was serialized through 1871 and 1872, and became a great success, making George Eliot (and Mary Anne) even more famous. … George Lewes and Mary Anne became very social and popular as her writing continued to make a great deal of money for the couple. They continued living together until 1878, when Lewes suddenly became ill. Lewes’s death in November of 1878 was heartbreaking for the writer, and she began a period of intense mourning that lasted more than a year.

        John Cross, the couple’s “business manager” of sorts, became very concerned about Mary Anne’s well-being during this trying period. He proposed marriage to her several times until she finally accepted in 1880. Their union was one of companionship rather than romance; Cross was more than 20 years younger than Mary Anne, who turned 61 soon after their marriage. In December 1880, after only seven months of marriage, Mary Anne became seriously ill. She passed away in her sleep on December 22, 1880, and was buried next to her lifelong companion, George Lewes.

        The status of women in the Victorian era is often seen as an illustration of the striking discrepancy between the United Kingdom’s national power and wealth and what many, then and now, consider its appalling social conditions. During the era symbolized by the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria, women did not have suffrage rights, the right to sue, or the right to own property.

        A common man had no right to stand for Member of Parliament seat independently. This is why Lord Macaulay had to fight his first election in England from a pocket Borough in London. “In 1830 the Marquess of Lansdowne invited Macaulay to become Member of Parliament for the pocket borough of Calne. His maiden speech was in favor of abolishing the civil disabilities of the Jews. However, Macaulay made his name with a series of speeches in favour of parliamentary reform. After the Great Reform Act of 1832 was passed, he became MP for Leeds. In the Reform, Calne’s representation was reduced from two to one; Leeds had never been represented before, but now had two members.

        The Representation of the People Act 1832 (commonly known as the Reform Act 1832 or sometimes as The Great Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament (2 & 3 Will. IV) that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. According to its preamble, the act was designed to “take effectual Measures for correcting divers Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament.”  Other reform measures were passed later during the 19th century; as a result, the Reform Act 1832 is sometimes called the First, or Great Reform Act

        The Representation of the People Act 1867′, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102 (known informally as the Reform Act of 1867 or the Second Reform Act) was a piece of British legislation that enfranchised the urban male working class in England and Wales.

        Before the Act, only one million of the five million adult males in England and Wales could vote; the act doubled that number. In its final form, the Reform Act of 1867 enfranchised all male householders and compounding was also subsequently abolished in the process. However, there was little redistribution of seats; and what there was had been intended to help the Conservative Party

        In the United Kingdom, the Representation of the People Act 1884 (48 & 49 Vict. c. 3, also known informally as the Third Reform Act) and the Redistribution Act of the following year were laws which further extended the suffrage in Britain after the Disraeli Government’s Reform Act 1867. Taken together, these measures extended the same voting qualifications as existed in the towns to the countryside, and essentially established the modern one member constituency as the normal pattern for Parliamentary representation.

        The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This act expanded on the Representation of the People Act 1918 which had given some women the vote in Parliamentary elections for the first time after World War I. It widened suffrage by giving women electoral equality with men. It gave the vote to all women who paid rates to the local government on the same terms as men.

        • suyash95 259 days ago | +0 points

          Caste is derived from a Portuguese and Spanish word “casta” meaning race or breed. In mid-16th century Europe, it described the Portuguese and European social structure of Pope/Cardinals, Aristocracy, Merchants and Peasants. The caste system has 3 main attributes including hierarchical, endogamous (i.e. people marry within their groups) & hereditary. Europe’s caste system was based on purity of blood and the occupation of a person. There is no equivalent word or concept in the Hindu Scriptures and no identical structure either recorded or promoted in Hindu Scriptures 

          So, how did this European caste concept travel to India then?

          The missing link is the British! “Race Science” was a major invention of 18th century European scholars and the British were eager to experiment with this new tool to effectively govern their subjects. Sir Herbert Hope Risley (1851-1911), himself a race scientist, used the ratio of width and height of nose (!!!) to classify Indians. When he implemented the first census of India in 1881, he forced Indians to register themselves into a hierarchy-based caste system. It is interesting to note that most Indians did not know where they belonged in this hierarchy of classes and there are historical records of petitions filed by Indians to challenge their categorization into a certain caste. Risley created 2,378 castes, tribes and sub-castes (out of the existing Jaatis) and ordered them (NOT alphabetically!) but by social preference

          The following censuses conducted every decade further entrenched the system. Gradually but surely, Indians adopted the caste system since to avail of government facilities and other benefits, they had to fit into the foreign framework imposed by the ruling British government.

          “We pigeon holed everyone by caste and if we could not find a true caste for them, labelled them with the name of hereditary occupation. We deplore the caste system and its effect on social and economic problems, but we are largely responsible for the system we deplore.” - ML Middleton, ICS, Superintendent of the Government of India, in the Census 1911 Report for Punjab and Delhi (Vol. 15, Part I, p. 343).

          the next question is – what was India’s social structure before the British?

          Prior to colonization, the structure of Indian society was known by Varna, Jaati, Kul and Gotra. Varna divided the society or people into 4 groups based on their natural attitude and aptitude. Jaatis were occupational guilds. Kul describes the extended family of a person and Gotra broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor.

          Varna and Jaati are most relevant to this discussion:

          Varna in Sanskrit specifically means “variations/variety, choice from a varied selection”. Brahmanas (not to be confused with the Brahmin caste of today) have a natural aptitude for learning, analyzing, teaching and research. Kshatriyas have a natural aptitude for protecting others, governance and warfare. Vaishyas are entrepreneurs, farmers and skilled laborers while Sudras have a natural aptitude for service and physical work and are the supporting pillars of the other Varnas. Sometimes, the four varṇas may even be realized within a single individual during one’s lifetime (e.g. Sri Krishna in Mahabharata). Even today, we can see the 4 Varnas in action in the world around us!

          There are numerous examples to illustrate the inter-mobility and flexibility within Varnas. Hindu Itihaasas like the Puranas and Smriti texts, show that there were a staggering number of rules, duties, and privileges, for various sub-groups formed by inter-Varna marriages. 

          Vaishya and Shudra merchants and tradesmen were often very well-off and hired the services of Brahmins. Land was typically owned by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. For instance, of the 540 autonomous kingdoms that existed when the British arrived in India, over 400 were owned and ruled by Shudra Kings (the so-called backward castes of today).

          Jaatis were thriving when the British set foot in India:

          Jaatis were occupational guilds. For example, the steel making people were a jaati and there were several thousand jaatis like this. There was competition among them but no Conflict or Hierarchy. When steel- making flourished, the corresponding jaatis flourished and when the steel industry went down, the associated jaatis went down. Each jaati had a distinct identity, complete with its occupation, religious practices and its own Hindu religious deity.

          The Indian Jaati system allowed diversity to flourish unlike what you’d observe in other regions of the world. For example, in France or Italy, there were violent language-based wars to impose homogeneity on everyone. In other words, a single Jaati survives in France or Italy today which is made up of a single ethnicity following similar religious practices and speaking one language.

          We can corroborate the strong jaati social system by looking at high-quality Indian exports (of those times) which were in high demand among the European elite. (No wonder Columbus was sponsored by the Spanish queen to discover a sea route to India!)

          Caste imposed on the more fluid and ever-changing Jaati structures:

          British policy of divide n rule and Christian evangelism were primary motives behind breaking the strong jaati structures of India. You’ll find an uncanny resemblance to this divide n rule strategy in Rwanda, Africa, where the role of Christian missionary education played a key role in creating deep social divisions (between otherwise more loosely organized sects of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa of pre-colonial Rwanda). These missionary created deep fault-lines are at the root of ethnic conflicts in many African countries.


          The Criminal Tribals Act of 1871 (passed by the British) was instrumental in creating today’s Dalits and untouchables of India. The groups affected by the law were labelled “criminals by birth”. The British enforced this law meticulously for almost 80 years and well planted the seeds of ostracization and discrimination that can be felt even today! Per a research report by NCHT (National Council of Hindu Temples, UK), when India gained freedom in 1947, 13 million people in 127 “criminal by birth” communities faced search and arrest, if any member of the group was found outside the area prescribed to them, by Anglicans.

          Prolonged societal/cultural stagnation owing to foreign invasions starting with Alexander (4 BCE), Islamic invasions (7 CE - 14 CE) and European imperialism (15 CE - 19 CE), British policy of divide n rule and human weaknesses, led to and created rigid lines in India’s loosely-structured divisions of society.

          Caste system in modern day India:

          Caste system today continues to be characterized by hierarchy, hereditary and endogamy. Some positive aspects include the beauty of diversity, community and brotherhood, shared customs, traditions and ancestors, social security and trade expertise. The downsides are obvious – discrimination, violence, one group looking down upon another, social prejudices, untouchability and so on. Disadvantages outweigh the benefits since it is now a tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians for vote bank politics and of course, with the latest Cambridge Analytica scandal exposing caste-based research by Indian political parties, it is more than obvious that caste data can be used for anything including undermining democracy. Destabilizing forces in India play a key role in first creating and then deepening the fault lines between say Dalit/Dravidian groups and the rest of Hindu community, for instance.

          In conclusion, I do not believe, even for a moment, that everything was fine and dandy in the Indian society before caste was imposed. Of course, there was some amount of inequality, discrimination, one group looking down upon another and several other social grievances. But find me one place and time in history or even today where everything and everyone was/is equal?! What I do find remarkable about this Varna-Jaati civilization is that they did NOT indulge in mass genocides (both physical and cultural), violent language wars, aggressive and forceful religious conversions, massive destruction of public properties like universities and places of worship, persecutions and illegal wars.

          “Truth is not dependent on history, rather, history is a manifestation of it.” – Rajiv Malhotra 

          • suyash95 259 days ago | +0 points

            Caste (from the Portuguese - casta) is a socio-economic arrangement of a sophisticated and complex and economically stable society. All societies have had and do have hierarchical structures based on birth and occupation. Farmers, workers guilds - now known as unions, merchant guilds known as associations, law-enforcement and soldiers, nobility and clergy are all class compositions of almost every society.

            If one takes the IT industry as an example, there are the innovators and developers = brahmins; there is the security division dealing with cyber crime and hacking = kshatriyas; there is the marketing and merchandising division = vaishyas; and there are the technicians & workers who build the hardware and the supply chain the gets the product to market = sudras.

            The problems associated with every hierarchical structure are the same - all based on greed and self-interest — exploitation, oppression, prejudice, discrimination, dissimulation, cruelty etc. etc.

            In historical terms in India there were several benefits which the caste-system known as varna brought with it. In one respect it was the original multiculturalism in action. Intermarriage was discouraged so every group retained its culture, tradition, customs, dress, habits etc. e.g. the Jews, Parsis, Syrian Christians - all kept their traditions alive for a thousand years due to the caste-system. So the 1000’s of different groups maintained their autonomy in respect of their traditions and customs and also in respect of their law - each caste was ruled by a panchayat (5 member elected committee) which adjudicated in all disputes and criminal offences with respect to their own caste.

            All members of the caste were educated in their tradition craft and all were employed and social security maintained through mutual channels of assistance.

            Obviously all this changed with the market forces. Nowadays few people work in their hereditary professions. The problems with the caste system are the same as mentioned above.

            • suyash95 257 days ago | +0 points

              Egypt had 8 levels with more fine grained. 


              Japan also had 8 


              Mesopotamia had 6. 




              Modern western class system. 


              • suyash95 255 days ago | +0 points


                • suyash95 255 days ago | +0 points

                  Zoroastrian Varna system in Iran

                  priests (Persian: Asravan‎)

                  warriors (Persian: Arteshtaran‎)

                  secretaries (Persian: Dabiran‎)

                  commoners (Persian: Vastryoshan‎)

                  Confucian Varna system in CHINA -

                  the shi (gentry scholars),

                  the nong (peasant farmers), 

                  the gong (artisans and craftsmen),

                  and the shang (merchants and traders).

                  Plato Varna System in Ancient Greece

                  Producers or Workers: 




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