India and the Caste System

India and the Caste System - India and the Caste System...

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India and the Caste System Alternative Form of Neo-Kinship 1
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2 Dark side of iron Why did China outlast Rome? Iron > Slavery as well as freedom History of Rome from free citizen to slave state Slavery destroys Roman peasantry Slavery presupposes high labor productivity Slaves are not naturally careful Slaves require external supervision
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3 Implications of rice re Slavery Low productivity per worker Special care needed to manage irrigation > No slave agriculture for rice production > Selfless Confucian bureaucracy (ideally) > Long duration of Chinese society
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4 Daoism and Rice Production Peasant is close to land, to nature Works with hands, feet in mud Daoism: let nature take its course without human interference (i.e., without interfering high technology)
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Rivals or Complementary? Revolutionary rivalry Daoist revolutionaries fight corrupt Confucians Important differences in doctrine Confucian focus on society v. Daoist focus on nature But Confucianism is a philosophy of neo- kinship, and so also emphasizes the natural in society 5
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Dual sources of two philosophies 1) China must respect limitations of nature (12% arable land) 2) But China is also dependent on a complex, state-organized artificial irrigation system > two indigenous Chinese philosophies Daoism reflects closeness to nature Confucianism reflects state-based social organization 6
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Unity of two philosophies But both reflect closer-to-nature, neo- kinship society Chinese Syncretism: A “gentleman” can be a Confucian in his public life, and a Daoist in private life. 7
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Outline: India Social system Caste and its Origins Political level Short-lived imperial dynasties – feudal: Why? Compare China – social structure Greece – technology Beliefs: Karma, Reincarnation Bhagavad-Gita 8
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Caste System is a Kinship System A caste ( varna ) is an intermarrying group Kinship; hereditary membership A caste eats together A high-caste Brahmin does not eat with someone of a lower caste; different diets for different castes Divided by occupation: priest, warrior, merchant, peasant Legal status, rights based on caste membership Gandhi was refused permission to study in England Visible identifiers of caste 9
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Religious origin of caste hierarchy Dismemberment of Purusha (275-6) Head (mouth): Brahmin (priest, teacher) (white)
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course UGC 111 taught by Professor Bono during the Spring '08 term at SUNY Buffalo.

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India and the Caste System - India and the Caste System...

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