Caste and Class System in Hinduism

Topics: Hinduism, Caste system in India, Sociology Pages: 4 (1515 words) Published: July 15, 2011
The caste system in Hinduism was created around 1200 BC, during the Vedic period, and has been a continual tradition in Hindu society even after being outlawed in the Indian Constitution in 1950 which was a major change for Hindu society. This tradition, which is so deeply embedded into Hinduism, is hard to abolish as it has been a continued tradition and way of life for a long period of time .The Indian term for caste is jati, and generally designates a group that can vary in size from a handful to many thousands. There are thousands of jatis each with its own rules and customs. The various jatis are traditionally arranged in hierarchical order and fit into one of the four basic Varnas. The caste system, although illegal in India, still continues to dictate power and authority over social relationships and social control in Hindu countries. The Vedics justified this social order on the idea of Karma, that actions in your past life would determine what caste you would be born into in your next life. Through the use of superstition and fear of retribution, the elite classes were able to suppress the lower castes and maintain their status. Some see this system as way of the higher castes upholding their powerful positions in society, but to others the system is a way of life that allows everyone to be in the caste they deserve to be in. This rigid caste system did not allow for upward mobility and members of a specific caste were trapped in society’s expectations that a person could only practice a certain occupation if they were born into it. Your place in society is inherited as people under the caste system are born into their castes and do not have a choice of upward mobility. This has sometimes caused conflict throughout time between the many different castes, especially in modern Hindu societies where the lower castes have come to see this as discriminatory.

Hindu society was divided into four Varnas. The word translated means colour and refers to a...
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