Caste System

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Caste System

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Although the influence of the caste system in India is now weakening, especially since it "officially" ended with Indian independence, the system did exert a powerful hold for countless generations and continues to have an impact on Indian society. It seems to have been a product of the Aryan migration of 1500 BCE ; it was perhaps utilized to control the indigenous population. Society was divided into five groups, and it was a tenet of Hinduism that the only way to advance to a higher group was to live an exemplary life, following the rules of the caste into which you were born. Then, in your next incarnation, your good Karma would propel you toward birth into a higher caste.

At the top of the system were the Brahmins. These were the priests and scholars. (Western knowledge of the caste system was prevalent enough that in New England the term "Boston Brahmin" became synonymous with wealthy, upper-class society.)

Next down the social scale were the Kshatriyas, the rulers and warriors. They were followed by merchants and tradesmen, called Vaishyas. Lower on the ladder were the Shudras, the peasants.

The dregs of society, about 20 percent of the population, were the "out-castes," those without a caste, also known as the "untouchables."

The system functioned by popular consent. Built into the Hindu religion was the belief that you simply did not associate with people of a lower caste. Vaishyas stood aside on the road whenever a Brahmin walked by, not even letting their shadows get in the way of the person of higher caste.

Although modern Westerners shake their heads at such beliefs, it must be remembered that in pre-Civil War America, religion was used to enforce a similar pattern of social behavior between people of different races.

No one knows exactly when the caste system began. But it may be significant to point out that when Westerners first discovered its existence, during British colonial expansion, there seemed to be a direct correlation between skin color and caste ranking. The lighter the skin, the higher the caste. Even the word Varna, a collective term naming the four castes, means "color" or "appearance." If the caste system was, indeed, an Aryan import, by observing Aryan history in other parts of the world it is hard not to draw the inference that it represented a system of domination by people of white skin who used religion to enforce imposed racism.

References in periodicals archive ?
39) As such, at its most rudimentary level, the caste system is seen as a way in which Indian society is divided into hierarchical groups based on the Hindu conception of social order.
An important aspect of the findings of the study is the explanation by the author that within the framework of social structure built on caste system which perpetuates relative socioeconomic positions of individuals and groups from one generation to next, parents' fertility behaviour in response to economic change is influenced by the concern of not only their own interest but also of their children's interest.
The best explanation of the caste system I have ever heard; what a realistic explanation," I commented admiring his analysis of the caste system.
It is no surprise that the caste system, and the unequal society it produces, leads to moral blind spots that hide rapes from public view.
Those who keep the caste system alive in their behavior forget that Garbas have played a key role in the creation of new Ladakh.
Islam teaches equality of all believers, but the caste system is alive and kicking in Pakistan.
A caste system in general, and especially one so cruelly and strictly implemented as this one, brings up questions of racism and classism.
The term "dalit" means "crushed" or "oppressed," and is used to describe those who are born 'outside' of the four-tiered caste system in Hindu societies.
He said it has fantastical secret beliefs - which can be read on the internet - a caste system, brainwashing techniques, and relies on interrogation and forced manual labour to help enforce discipline.
Reena, from Coventry, who formed the theatre group Caste Away Arts after completing an MA about the UK's caste system, said: "The play tackles issues which are often regarded as a taboo subject within British Asian society.
Topics covered include German militarism, America's role in the war, British-American politics, the decline of the British caste system, and an intriguing comparison between the political impact of the Mitford sisters and Violet Bonham Carter, who used her social position to improve the status of women.
We would love to have any of these women priests come to preach and concelebrate the Eucharist with us, not as in a caste system but as a simple community ministered by priests who have the ecclesiastical impediment of having received too many sacraments, just like the new women priests.