The Caste System of South Asia
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The Caste System of South Asia

The Caste System had spread to the entire region known as South Asia. Even to this day it is practised in some remote areas.

The Caste System is practised even today in the region known as South Asia. As the name suggests, it divides societies into many different castes or groups with a similar profession. It evolved with the Evolution of the Hindu religion, but even after many parts of South Asia became non-hindu, the castes were still remembered by the people.

The Basic division is of the Society into four groups, at the top are the Brahmins, or the Priests. Next come the Kshatriyas, or the Warriors, generally the rulers. Next come the Vaishyas, the Tradesmen and Merchants. Then finally at the bottom are the Sudras, the Untouchables, also known as the Harijans and Dalits.

The Formation of the Castes is a complicated topic and is much debated by Historians. A common conclusion which can be come upon is that, after the Aryan invasions, the Aryans brought there gods with them. These Aryan gods which were not originally from South Asia include, Indra,Agni,Vayu etc. With time, the Aryans adopted local gods such as Shiva,Vishnu,Brahma etc. But the local tribes were not easily assimilated, some civilizations like the Indus Valley Civilization were completely destroyed. With time, the religions today known as Hinduism gradually came up, with the absorption of more tribes into the Aryan religion. But these tribes were given lowly jobs, they were servants and slaves. The Aryans became the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas.

But there were more invaders, such as the Scythians,Huns,Mongols etc. These people gradually settled down in South Asia and became a part of the Hindu Society. Whatever job a person did, was to be done by his next generation. So the Caste system limited the Oppurtunities for the lower Castes. With time, there were Brahmins and Kshatriyas from the local population in the Dravidian dominated region of South India.

In the starting days of the Caste system, it is likely that it was mainly a system of dividing people on the basis of Profession and not much about discrimination, but with time the Upper Castes began the practise of Untouchability. Discrimination increased and the Sudras were not allowed to live near Upper Caste areas or allowed to drink from Upper Caste Wells.

After the Islamic Invasions and the Establishment of the Mughal Empire, mass conversions to Islam began taking place. But some sort of distinction remained betweent the converts and the Caste system still affected them. After the coming of the Colonial Era under the British Empire, many Sudras and tribals began converting to Christianity but were still regarded as Untouchables by the Upper Caste Hindus. Untouchability was still practised in the Colonial Era. After the Independence of India, Caste based discrimination was made illegal. Since the 1950s, Casteism has gradually declined in India and the rest of South Asia.

The Castes divided people not only to the four main groups but also subcastes. People of the same Caste would not marry if they did not fall into the same sub-caste which was generally defined by the region which the people lived in. Even till this day, marriages take place in the same caste or sometimes the same sub-castes. But in some cases, marriages in the same Clan are prohibited.

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Comments (3)

The Aryan invasion never happened and has been abolished.There is really no distinction between the different orders. The whole world at first consisted of Brahmanas. Brahmanas possessing the attribute of Passion, - became Kshatriyas. Possessed of both the attributes of Goodness and Passion, and took to the professions of cattle-rearing and agriculture, became Vaisyas.Those Brahmanas again that became fond of untruth and injuring other creatures, possessed of cupidity, - engaged in all kinds of acts for a living, and fallen away from purity of behaviour, and thus wedded to the attribute of Darkness, became Sudras.

Jerry Burridge

While your analysis is interesting. Where is your empirically verifiable documentation of your evaluation that Aryans are fiction; does this also means that hitler's use of the Aryans is fiction?

I never said Aryans are a fiction, I said the Aryan invasion never happened. This has been accepted and proved world wide, by the Rig Veda which is far older and the oldest text available to mankind. It mentions the river Saraswati clearly. There is no archeological evidence of any invasion at all. It was merely a theory put to shake the very foundations of India and its far mature wisdom. Theory is completely baseless. Who is Arya? An Arya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct. And the great epic Ramayana has a singularly eloquent expression describing Rama as: arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah - Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone. The Rig Veda also uses the word Arya something like thirty six times, but never to mean a race. The nearest to a definition that one can find in the Rigveda is probably: praja arya jyotiragrah ... Children of Arya are led by light - Rig Veda VII. 33.7. “Krunvanto Vishwam Aryam” - Rig Veda IX.63.5 “Anaryajushtam aswargyam akeertikaram arjuna - Lord Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita -II.2. Thus, the modern notion of an Aryan-Dravidian racial divide is contradicted by ancient records. We have it on the authority of Manu that the Dravidians were also part of the Aryan fold. Interestingly, so were the Chinese. Race never had anything to do with it until the Europeans adopted the ancient word to give expression to their nationalistic and other aspirations.