Social Stratification and Inequality The Five Castes The Indian caste system has existed for about 3,000 years. There were four original castes, and one caste so low that it was not even considered to be part of the caste system: 1. The Brahman caste usually consisted of priests or scholars and enjoyed a great deal of prestige and wealth. 2. The Kshatriya caste, or warrior caste, was composed of those who distinguished themselves in military service. 3. The Vaishva caste comprised two sets of people—business-people and skilled craftspeople. 4. The Shudra caste consisted of those who made their living doing manual labor. 5. The Harijan , Dalit, or Untouchable caste was thought to comprise only inferior people who were so repulsive that an individual who accidentally touched one would have to engage in extensive ritual ablutions to rid himself or herself of the contamination. There is no social movement in a caste system. An individual born into the Harijan caste cannot change his or her fate. Nor can someone be demoted to a lower caste; the caste into which a
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