SN1101E - Caste - Caste SN1101E Varna and Caste The largest...

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Caste SN1101E Varna and Caste The largest category of Indian society is varna , and it is a much simpler categorisation than the caste system It consists of the four hierarchal classes described in the Rig Veda: the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras Varna conveys the idea that each class has its own specific duties, and as a religious model of Hindu society, is also a scripturally authoritative one The function of each class is necessary to sustain the whole, and although there is no historical evidence that the modern-day caste system emerged from varna , or that the latter was even practised for any extended period of time, it does provide a point of reference for an idealised harmonious society In reality, though, the caste system is far more complex than this: the above merely provides the religious understanding of caste, but not the social and legislative understanding Caste is not simply an abstract, religious idea, but a visible dimension of everyday life – particularly in rural India – and is part of an individual's social and personal identity Perhaps most telling is the fact that caste is not restricted to Hinduism, but exists even among the Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Muslims Additionally, consider the existence of jatis , or sub-groups within varna that are based within a community or a village In any given locality, castes might even differ as to their perception of what the hierarchal pattern is Depending on the context, an individual queried about his jati might claim himself to be a Brahmin or name his sub- caste – or even sub-sub-caste – instead Moreover, given the geographical scope of these Indian villages, and how no two Indian villages are exactly alike, there is naturally a lack of hard and fast boundaries in the caste system
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SN1101E - Caste - Caste SN1101E Varna and Caste The largest...

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