DR. MRUTUYANJAY SAHU Instructor
What is a “Caste”? Ø The word caste is derived from the Portuguese word Casta, meaning lineage, breed or race Ø Caste is a term used to describe the complex system of social divisions that pervades life in India. Ø Caste is an ancient hereditary system that developed alongside and became intertwined with Hinduism. Ø Since the majority of Indians are Hindu, the caste system played an important role in the history of India Ø This system is based upon the assumption that all people are not created equal and is practiced today through out Asia (e.g.India and Sri Lanka) and in Africa (Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria)
How Caste shapes a Society? Ø India’s Caste system is perhaps the worlds longest surviving social hierarchy based upon one’s birth. Ø Caste determines whom a person can marry, specifies what kind of work he can do and even controls what he can eat or touch Ø People can not move up or down to different castes or levels in their lifetime. Ø Essentially, you fell into the same caste as your parents.
Where does this system comefrom? Ø The Indian caste system is rooted in the religion of Hinduism Ø The most widely accepted theory is that the basic division of Hindu caste system- the varna developed in the period 1500-1000 B.C as the result of the Aryan conquest of India Ø The Aryans (fair skinned, blue eyed foreigners ) dominated the Dravidians (darker skinned, original residents) making them subservient. Ø The Aryans did not permit marriages between their own people and the people they conquered Ø This was very different from the Romans, who encouraged the people they conquered and the soldiers to marry Ø Over the years it has been used as an instrument to influence modern Indian culture and politics
How one’s caste isdetermined? Reincarnation: A person is born, lives, dies and is reborn again many times. Soul (Atman) are reborn many times until they are pure enough to be with the creator. Brahma Karma: A person’s social position in the next life is determined by his conduct in the present life Dharma: Code of behavior or set of moral and ethical rules that govern the conduct of each social class. Each group has a different set of rules to live by Law of Manu: Hindu book of sacred law Rules and restrictions for daily life
Wasitreallyreligionthatformedthecastesorracism? Ø Remember the Aryans were white and the people they conquered had darker skin. Ø Varna translates to “color” in Sanskrit. Ø Each caste has its own corresponding color.
CorrespondingColors These sound suspiciously like skin colors; and, indeed, there is an expectation in India that higher caste people will have lighter skin --.
The Aryans disregarded the local cultures, and at the same time pushed the local people southwards or towards the jungles and mountains in north India.
Ø The concept of ‘purity-pollution’. Ø An inherited occupational role.
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- Winter '20
- Dr. Mrutunjaya Sahu
- Caste, Caste system in India