1 points | Post submitted by suyash95 8 days ago | 2 comments
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EUROPEAN CASTE SYSTEM superimposed on HINDU VARNA-JAATI SYSTEM
Here's how you explain the "caste system" back to the Europeans. When Indians arrived in Europe in the 17th century, we found bricklayers, coal miners, coach drivers and sailors, the four original Castes of Britain. But then we found Russians, Frenchmen, Germans and Poles. The confusion came about when we tried to fit the Russians into the four original Castes. There were Russians who were bricklayers and coal miners, the Poles who were coal miners, coach drivers and sailors. However the French were mainly bricklayers, with some sailors. The choice was between fitting them into one of the four original Castes, or creating new Castes like Russian, French, German and Pole. This is precisely the kind of discussions in the colonial administration in the lead up to the census enumeration of 1871-72, when they first introduced Castes into India.
Till late 19th century more than quarter of European population were untouchables but the State has not made a separate category n given them privileges,the blunder which India has made
casteism was part of every feudalistic society in the world. I don't know why people think it was onlypart of Indian society and keep yapping 'hurr hinduism created casteism.’ Birthbased supremacy is also part of every society. From Greek to Persian, everyking claimed to be descendant of a god only and their preists were birth based.
Even in Iliad, Paris was raised bysheep herders but he still displayed his warrior skills because he was son of aking. The priest's daughter gets abducted by Agamemnon and entire Greek fleetstarts dying of plague but for other women getting abducted and violated therewas no issue but Illiad is enjoyed as great romantic epic of ancient Greekswhereas Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata are frowned upon by antihindu propagandist who cherry pick verses to defame hinduism by dissecting ourancient scriptures under the modern day morality and microscope.
In case of Europe itself they hadheirarchy where church was at the top, then kings, nobles, knights, peasants,serfs and slaves. The peasants, serfs and slaves weren't even permitted to huntwild animals for food or anything since the animals were considered propertiesof royals which was entirely birth based only. There was capital punishment ifcaught doing such acts. Hindu Brahmins (priest's) are stereotyped for doingthis and that and their history is linked with entire hinduism but history ofchurch is separated from christianity due to the vile level of degeneracy init.
The church's history is so bad yetit's not discussed. The casteism in feudal societies of Europe ended duringindustrial revolution and colonisation. When you have entire world to enslaveand exploit, you don't need to do the same in your own country but that's allseen as rennaisance affair and their attrocities are to be overlooked. Samegoes for islamic society, Hindu society in comparison was far peaceful.Oppression did exist but for most part of casteism, people of a communitysimply didn't interact with others and kept to themselves. Most of theaccusation of historical attrocities have no base. One line from manusmriti isused as a norm that happened for thousands of years lol.
Claim-Dalit settlements on fringes of villages were not established by colonialists.
Response - Feudal societies lived like that without bothering one another. Even in European societies the cobblers, butcherers lived on the outskirts of the society. Looking at it from modern lens won't prove Indian society was any more bad. U trying too hard.Also fringes of villages* this itself is an exhagerattion. Different communities lived in their own specific part of towns without bothering one another. Colonialists did far worse things but it doesn't matter to brown sepoys.
Is it impossible to imagine that communities may have been built around professions and these communities provided individuals with necessary safety nets in the absence of a State? It happens everywhere especially in royal families (much more hardline with cousin marriages).
Social stratification in the UK which no one talks about:
Endogamy cannot be equivalent to oppression. For example, prevalnce of slave wives in Islamic societies bought or looted from others, if genetically studied amongst progeny after a few generations, cannot be a proof of an open and diverse society based on genetic studies.
Why don't Indian textbooks mention this of "caste" in Europe?
"Droit du seigneur, (French: “right of the lord”), a feudal right that existed in medieval Europe giving the lord the right to sleep the first night with the bride of any one of his vassals." (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Also is this one reason there is more genetic uniformity in Europe?
Later, a requirement called the culagium involved payment of a fee to the feudal lord for permission to marriage. This served as a tax on the serfs. The Church also demanded payment of a fee to get the couple out of a three day waiting period before consummating their union.
400 years of slave-trading that your ancestors engaged in and profited from. Or the Holy Inquisition or witch-burnings, or the treatment of the serfs in the Middle Ages or the extermination of native people by the forces of Christian Imperialism or the persecution of the Jews which culminated in the holocaust etc. etc. etc.
Birth-based social hierarchy is a very European idea where social privilege and rank was carried by birth. Note how there is an explicit hierarchy of titles (which get passed down by primogeniture) Archduke, Duke, Marquis, Count, Earl , Viscount, Baron , Lord, Gentleman.
No surprise then that the British tried to map Indian society to the Birth-based privileges in their own society. Hence the creation and enumeration of "the caste system." Not that "gentleman" is also a rank in the social hierarchy, coming from the notion of "landed gentry."
The "aristocracy" was based on blood and race privilege in the British system of peerage and the landed gentry was below this. Landed gentry were those who could live off of rental income from the underclass. The Mughals had similarly created "zamindari."
Caste system develops, 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”.
This is the Spanish casta system used in New Spain. It was based on the concept of the purity of blood (limpieza de sangre) of the inhabitants of New Spain.Unfortunately, bhāratīya-varṇāśrama has become mired with the baggage of the Iberian casta system.
Drug use & alcoholism was a cope that the amerindian resorted to in an increasingly unhappy & unfair world. A telling quote - “The Spanish rebuked and penalized the indio for not being a European while at the same time making it impossible for him to become a true European”
Not at all. The ārya-varṇāśrama was a religious system that had nothing to do with blood ancestry or "race" Arya did not care about skin color or race. In fact Vedic Arya Brāhmaṇas desired dark skin offsprings in 900-1000 BCE.
It is parochial to project modern notions of race or skin color obsession on the ancients. They simply did not care. In fact, even in Latin Europe in the early middle ages - the primary demarcator of peoplehood was language (lingua gentem facit) "language makes race"
On the other hand. the Spanish casta system led to complete cut-off all mixed castes from civilized society. This made them social lepers & plunged them into banditry and violence, drug addictionIn India, "low castes" were Emperors & Kings. Or Poets. Does this sound comparable?
Meanwhile, in India - the so called "dalit castes" rose up to ranks as sophisticated and cultured as being court poets of Emperor Harshavardhana. One of the 9 jewels of his court.
Emperor Harsha (c.606 – c. 647 CE) had a Cāṇḍāla "dalit" court poet named Mātaṅga Divākara in his court.The poet was apparently quite famous for being a Cāṇḍāla who had become renown. Rajaśekhara (9th CE) mentions him. His poetry is quoted in सुभाषितावली of वल्लभदेव.
India isn't America,Hindus aren't white, and Dalits aren’t“Black and brown people.”Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma is an identity thatpredates “race,” just as it predates America, and the sin of slavery, and theidea of nations and the Christian and Muslim faiths.
Same idea of color identity is beginning 2 b used by 'caste oppression' activists in US, both Indian origin n American, even though color has nothing to do wiTH caste. But since American wokedom infiltrating everything n everyone lets them understand just one thing-color, it works Dalit Panthers was modelled after Black Panthers. - "Racist Algorithm" narrative inthe West is being mapped as "Casteist Algorithm" in India. - Agencies like Equality Labs are working overtime to mass Pavlovian-train westerners into associating India with "caste oppression." In the West, they're discovering ever newer forms of "systemic-racism" on the basis of some super-lame criteria each day & revising its meaning with it. Little would a layman know that its not nuance, it's chaos. An analogous academic malpractice has hit India vis-a-vis caste.
The standard state propaganda is that the caste faultlineswithin the Hindu Fold is natural whereas the Hindu vs Muslim conflict is a British conspiracy. The truth is the precise opposite. How many inter casteconflicts can Historians name before the British came?
Al beruni said - that “much, however, as these classes differ from each other, theylive together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same housesand lodgings”. Another acquired another’s trait; they became rigid and losttheir mobility. All mobility was now downward.
H. A. Rose (1867 – 1933), Superintendent of Ethnography, Punjab,from 1901 to 1906, author of A Glossary of Punjab Tribes and Castes, says thatduring Muslim period, many Rajputs were degraded and they became scheduledcastes and scheduled tribes. Many of them still retain
Rajput gotra of Parihara & Parimara.Similarly, G. W. Briggs in his The Chamars, tells us that many Chamars stillcarry names and gotra of Rajput clans like Banaudhiya, Ujjaini, Chandhariya,Sarwariya, Kanaujiya, Chauhan, Chadel, Saksena, Sakarwar; Bhardarauiya, andBundela, etc
Dr K. S. Lal cites many similar instances in his recent Growth ofScheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India. The same is true of Bhangis.William Crooke (1848 – 1923) of Bengal Civil Service tells us that the “rise ofthe present Bhangi caste seems, from the names applied to the castes and its subdivisions, to date from the early periodof Mohammedan rule”. Old Hindu literature mentions no Bhangis of presentfunction. In traditional Hindu rural society, he was a corn-measurer, a villagepoliceman, a custodian of village boundaries. But scavenging came along with the Muslim and British rule. Their numbers also multiplied. According to 1901 Census, the Bhangis were most numerous in the Punjab and the United Provinces which were the heartland of Muslim domination.Then came the British who treated all Hindus equally all an inferior race—and fuelled their internal differences. Theyattacked Hinduism but cultivated the caste principle, two sides of the samecoin. Hinduism had to be attacked. It gave India the principles of unity andcontinuity; it was also India’s definition at its deepest.
It held together castes as well as the country. Take away Hinduism and the country was easily subdued. Caste in old India was a cooperative and cultural principle; but it is now being turned into a principle of social conflict. In the old dispensation, castes followed dharma and its restraints; they knew how far they could go. But now a caste is a law unto itself; it knows no self-restraint except the restraint put on it by another class engaged in similar self-aggrandisement. The new self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without Dharma. This may be profitable to some in the short run but it is suicidal for all in the long run. In the old days, castes had leaders who represented the culture of the land, Who were natural leaders of their people and were organic to them. But now a different leadership is coming to thefore: rootless, demagogic and ambitious, which uses caste slogans fo rself-aggrandisement.
HINDUISM does not degrade lower castes but in practice it does, a natural consequence of its leadership being over-represented by upper castes who promote their own socio-economical and political interests. It is human nature — everyone seeks their own interests. Thus it is time the RSS leadership h
Historian Kathy Stuartpoints out that in pre-modern Europe, 'throughout the Holy Roman empire,dishonourable tradesmen suffered various forms of social, economic, legal, andpolitical discrimination on a graduated scale of dishonour at the hands of‘‘honorable’’ guild artisans and in ‘‘honorable’’ society at large' and thenshe points out that 'dishonor was transmitted through heredity, often overseveral generations. The polluting quality of dishonor is one of its definingcharacteristics.' (Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp.2-3).As late as 17th century, when a rich Cagot dared to ‘pollute’ an upper castewater font his hand was chopped off and pinned to the Church gate.
It would have provideda fascinating account to see how those caste systems became irrelevant because of the genocidal colonial exploitation of other societies. Perhaps studying possible discrimination even today against those with higher native-Britongenetic markers as against those with increased Anglo-Saxon ones may reveal equally amusing yet relevant results for the problem in hand.
Castes in Jewish society: Kohenim or Cohanim, Lebiim and Israelites with Cohanim being thehighest castes and Israelites just ordinary people.
Surnames like Cohen,Kagan, Kahn, Katz etc. are mostly Cohanim surnames and middle caste surnamesare Levy, Levin. Landau, Horowqitz etc.
More often than not,surnames can allow one to know the relations like a man with Cohanim surnamecannot be related through paternal lines to a man born to the Leviim orIsraelite castes. (Gary Mokotoff, 'Jewish American Research' in 'The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy' (Ed. Szucz& Luebking), AncestryPublishing, 2006 p.766). Here is an example of a culture and a nation whereorthodox ‘caste’ can coexist with the most progressive modernity.
It would have been quite interesting if one had studied how the traditional 'caste' system of the Nativ eAmerican nation could absorb different races into their 'caste' system asagainst the clearly hierarchical, injustice-laden Protestant caste system,which gets compared with the Hindu social system.
Jamaican poet andsocial anthropologist Michael Garfield Smith (1921-1993) had pointed out thisaspect of Hindu jati and it needs tobe quoted at some length:
The feudalorganization of medieval Europe and Japan also rested on fairly generalconsensus and habituation. ... None the less, these estate systems differsharply from caste. Ritual heredity differentiates castes but in estatesystems, hereditary differences are secular in base and referents. While castecan accommodate secular ranking as a secondary local stratification, inmedieval Europe, ritual stratification was itself indirectly dependent on birthdifferences of a secular nature. Under caste, secular relations among rankedcastes are rather variable; and instances of Sudras acquiring Kshatriya statusby virtue of their territorial and military dominance are well known. In thesecular estate system, the political bases are correlates of stratification arefixed and clear. Members of superior strata exercise jurisdiction over membersof inferior ones, individually and collectively. ... In Europe, besides stratadifferentiated by birth and political status, the nobility was also dividedbetween church and state. In the secular sphere, nobles competed for titles,land and power against rivals also qualified for this competition by birth; inthe ritual sphere, birth status was qualified by secondary emphasis on learnedclerical skills.
‘Corporations and Society: Social Anthropology of CollectiveAction‘, Transaction Publishers, 2017, 1974:2009, p.156)
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.
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?
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.
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