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Advantages and Disadvantages of the Caste System in India

By olynka84 Nov 16, 2013 929 Words
Question 3a. What were the advantages and disadvantages of the caste system? How did the caste system reflect Indian society.

A caste system was used by the ancient Indian society to separate themselves into categories. There are advantages and disadvantages with the use of this system but they all reflected Indian society in different ways. The term Caste and Varna meant “heredity” and “color”. The caste system was originally created to separate the early Aryans from the native Indians by the color of their skin. This method was seen as an advantage in a case where the early Indians would want to rid their community of the Aryans one day. As time went on the difference between the Native Indian and the Aryans faded due to the intermarriage which led to the evolving of the original Caste system.

Varna was the new way the people of the early Indian society used to categorize themselves. Varna dealt with the type of job a person had in the society that consist of Brahmin (priest); Kshatriyas ( warriors and aristocrats), vaishyas(cultivators, artisans, and merchants),and shudras(landless peasant and serfs). The category of the untouchables was later added. Each one of these classes did their part which led to the society benefitting as a whole. The priest dealt with all of the religious affairs of the society, the warriors defended their homes and won lands while the aristocrats made for good figure heads was used for good-will missions to other noble of different lands. The early Indian civilization was provided by the people of the vaishyas class of people with the means of preserving and spreading their culture, trading throughout the nations and providing food. The lower class of society was the shudras, peasant and serfs who served the members in the upper class and the lowest of the Varnas was known as the untouchables who received their names from the ‘dirty jobs’ that was place upon them because no one from the upper ladder wanted to do them. Subcategories called Jati was later added to separate each Varna by job. This gave each Verna their own social code, where a person of a lower Jati had to show utmost respect to their superior even at the untouchable level of the caste system.

Though the Indian caste system would have been a perfect trait for their society it was filled with many disadvantages. For one; the people of the upper class felt empower by their supreme position given in society which enabled them to pass down all of the jobs they didn’t want to do to the people of the lower class. Such behavior could have caused internal tension between the two groups of people and open an opportunity for the lower group to rise. Another disadvantage is that the caste system was too complex. For example there are four Varna’s and each of them is made up with at least 1800 Jatis within them depending on how many jobs are in that Varna and their rank. Anyone entering the Indian society would be unsure of where they belong because they might have the qualification to be a part of more than a hundred of those Jati, and still can’t tell exactly where they fit in, this might cause them to give up and seek a less complicated society. Another disadvantage of the caste system is that it made the Early Indian civilization fragile as a whole. Because of all the Varnas and Jatis including the rules they all have, the people are too wrapped up in the personal rankand the proper behavior that goes along with it. Last but not least it is easy for someone in the upper level to lose their place, but it is hard for someone from the lower rank to move to the top. For instance an aristocrat can be convicted of a wrong doing, lose all his land and money and be reduce to a serf. However, an untouchable would barely be looked at, let alone have a chance to move up to at least a shudra, must less a vaishyas. As mention in the the above reading the caste system is full of many disadvantages that can cause people of the early Indian society to complain or even improve.

The reflection of the caste system can be seen in many aspects of the Indian society. For beginners the early Indians place a lot of emphases on religions. This is proven based on the fact that the highest ranking Varna was a priest. The priest was responsible for the prayers, messages and other religious ceremonies that the early civilization believed sustained their way of life and gave them a good chance of enjoying the afterlife. Another way the caste system reflected on the Indian society is by the order in which each classification is organized from the one which have the most effect on the society to the least benefit of the society (servants and peasants).Another reflect the caste system of the early Indian society shows is that a person successfulness was displayed by the amount of land

they owned. Finally the caste system itself signifies the separations between the people of the early Indian society this can be seen by the actions of the people belonging to different Varnas, who felt more obligated to their caste rather than the Indian civilization as a unit.

Moreover, the caste system of the Indian civilization had some advantages as well as well as disadvantages, however it deemed what was important to the Indian society.

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