Indian Caste System vs. Modern Social Stratification

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Indian Caste System vs. Modern Social Stratification

By | April 2011
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ESSAY

Subject: History of Civilizations

Question:
1. Analyze the Indian caste system and compare it to modern social stratification of the society. Discuss and identify similarities and differences.

"Birth is not the cause, my friend; it is virtues which are the cause of auspiciousness. Even a chandala (lower caste) observing the vow is considered a Brahman by the gods." (Lord Krishna)

In period of around 1500 BCE, Indo-European civilization called Aryan, settled in south-east area of India, around Ganges River. They were not big numbered civilization, but their great military skills, physical strength and proposed heroism allowed them to establish dominant position over sedentary Dravidians. In intention to protect conquest identity of their own people over defeated Dravidians, Aryans establish a rigid social order based on division according to skin color, social position, wealth, activity and religion.

According to that established system, society was divided into:

- Brahmins or priests, who were on the top and their job was to interpret faiths, texts and conduct ceremonies. Their high education allowed them engagement in legislature and judiciary, and by time they lead all the important jobs in the country.

- Kshatriyas were administrators who managed land,

- Vaishyas were all free producers and workers in agriculture and trade,

- Shudras, or enslaved, dark skinned Dravidians that made the hardest physical work. They were considered as without soul, and thus could not be part of liturgy.

- Kharijis, “untouchable”, were completely expelled from the caste system. They were considered unworthy of life in the community due to the work they performed.

In almost the same time Hinduism appeared. Stratification in Hindu society comes from sacred texts, according which the main society groups came out from ancient creature. Brahmins came out from mouth, Kshatriyas from hands, Vaishyas from thighs...