The Indian Caste System

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The Evolution of the Indian Caste

The term "Hinduism" originated from the word "India" and it refers to variety of religious traditions and philosophies that have developed in India over thousands of years. It is known that the Indian society was based on the caste system, but according to one of the leading world historians William H. McNeill it is still unknown how or when Indian society became organized this way. According to McNeill the Indian society turned with time from an organized grouping society into a more personal tradition of self-recognition through caste, reincarnation and karma.

According to McNeill, the Indian caste system was a system of divided society. Thus, the Indian society was divided into where each group had its own symbols and codes of behavior. Within the caste, the people ate together, and intermarried with other members of their group. When strangers came around one caste they would become a separate/different caste. “When an entire society comes to be organized on those principles, any group of strangers or intruders automatically becomes another caste, for the exclusive habits of the rest of the population inevitably thrust the newcomers in upon themselves when it comes to eating and marrying.” (page 85) The origins of the caste system in India remain unclear, but they certainly made an impact on modern Indian society. Some of the caste principles were preserved through time. One of those principles was the ceremonial purity, which meant that people didn’t want to get involved in other “unclean” castes. Some of the castes immerged from poor and humble people who were primitive, and had an interest to preserve some of primitive forest life, those people formed castes which preserved their old traditions. Moreover, the Indus believed that all men were naturally divided into 4 main castes: the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas and the Sudras. The first 3 were considered Aryan and the last as non-Aryan. The...
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