Vaisya

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Related to Vaishyas: Shudras
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vaisya

 

(Sanskrit), the members of one of the four castes in ancient India. In the period before the emergence of class society, the Vaisyas enjoyed full legal rights along with the Kshatriya and Brahman castes. In the class society of ancient India, the Vaisyas included free members of a community who enjoyed full legal rights: farmers, livestock raisers, and certain artisans and traders in cities and villages. Beginning in the first centuries of the Common Era, as feudal relations developed and communal dwellers became dependent peasants, farmers (and also the majority of artisans) began to be regarded as Sudras (a caste that did not enjoy full legal rights), but the term “Vaisya” continued to be applied mainly to traders.

G. F. IL’IN

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(10) 'Brahmin: born from the head; Kshatriya from the arms; Vaishya from the thighs and Shudras from the feet'.
From the purusha's mouth came the Brahmins, the priestly caste; from his arms, the Kshatriya, warrior/military caste; from his thighs, the Vaishya, business/trading caste; and from his feet were born the Shudra, the caste of toiling agriculturists, artisans, and fisherfolk.
Raja was reacting to the Congress claim that Modi was born in an upper caste "Vaishya" family, with the title of Modh for being wealthy like the Modh Brahmins and Modh Banias.
For instance, even in 1871 (the first decennial census), the Brahmins formed only 3.7 percent of the Hindu population, the Kshatriyas only 0.5 percent, and the Vaishyas only 2.4 percent.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad states that God created the Brahmanas from his face; the Kshatriyas from his arms; the Vaishyas from his thighs; and, the Shudras from his feet.
According to the ancient Hindu scriptures, there are four "varnas" (social Classes)": the Brahmins (teachers, scholars and priests), the Kshatriyas (kings and warriors), the Vaishyas (agriculturists and traders), and Shudras (service providers and artisans).
According to some commentators the dwija (twice born) is found not only among brahmanas, but also among kshatriya and vaishyas, all of whom must pass through the four stages of life to attin the four vargas or purusharthas (goals) of life viz.
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Even Gita places women, Vaishyas and Shudras in the lower category and describes theirs as sinful birth.
The other castes, in order, include: Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (traders), and Shudras (agriculturists, laborers)
soldiers), Vaishyas (merchants and farmers), and the Shudras (servants).