What is caste system in India?5 basics of caste and its impact on Indian society.

What is  a caste?

Numerous philosophers and sociologists have described caste in their own way. To name few are the following:

E. Blunt – “Caste is an endogamous group bearing a common name, membership of which is hereditary, imposing on its members certain restrictions in the matter of social intercourse, either following a common traditional occupation a claiming a common origin & generally regarded as forming a single homogenous community.

In a layman’s language, any division of society into groups known as caste. Surprisingly, its not only human beings who have a rigid caste system in the Indian scenario but also social insects too have their specific division of caste. For example, the most dynamic miniatures i.e. honey bees and ants do follow a well established caste system purely based on their mode of action or work. This unlike ,the human caste system has nothing to do with the born legacy, i.e. the son of a soldier ant might not be a soldier ant .

Caste system in honey bee

Unfortunately,that is the case of Indian human society.Well now lets dig a bit deeper into this.

Theological aspect of caste?What does our holy scriptures say ?

The most known form of caste system is still believed to have originated from the  holy Gita…….

brahmana-kshatriya-visham shudranam cha parantapa
karmani pravibhaktani svabhava-prabhavair gunaih

Meaning:The duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras—are distributed according to their qualities, in accordance with their guṇas (and not by birth).

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Caste system in india
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This meant that the caste system was purely based on the then occupational requirements of the then society and also was never defined by birth.It was infact based on the nature of thoughts of any human beings.Further it was to note that no caste was either higher in the hierarchy nor was any caste termed untouchable.It still seems quite unreasonable and questionable as to how a mere occupation can be deemed untouchable.Dont we clean our own clothes ,our own houses,infact our own bodies daily,why arent we termed untouchable in the 1st hour of the day ??

Historical aspect of caste? The origin of Indian caste system?

In the early vedic age I.e 1000-1500 BC the Aryans have been believed to have migrated to India somewhere from the middle east.While they were believed to have been exceptionally intelligent so much so that the well known scriptures such as Mahabharat and Ramayana were scripted at those times.

The caste system has been believed to have originated in the early vedic period when The gita came into picture but scientific studies show that the intermixing of different castes of people was evident .Then at the end of the medieval period this intermixing stopped and distinguished groups emerged.

caste system in india
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Slowly these castes became linked with occupation since there was no other mode of transmission of knowledge and skills.Eventually castes became rigid and subcastes developed.Also this social stratification lead to the emergence of various different religions ,Buddhism being one of them.

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While the later religions shunned divisions ,the followers still divided themselves into various sects within the same religion and this caste system worsened further.Also the enemity and intermingling of people slowed down more. Thus is the then formation of modern Indian society,ruined by all sorts of division,forms of superstitions,ill believes and societal evils and tortures. People still continue to have diversed yet absurd thoughts ,which has led to the formation of cracks in the society further worsening its structure.

The society stills fails to understand that the so called nomenclature of caste was occupational did not tend towards clan formation rather unison. It never mentioned that inter caste marriages were shunned or are a sin. Neither did these scriptures denote caste stratification nor were they in favour of any societal favoritism.

Economic aspect of the caste?Present scenario of caste system in India..

Unlike other religions,Hinduism though, is the only oldest religion which classifies people hierarchically based on the occupation in the beginning and by virtue of birth in the later medieval period. This rendered people to be deemed as that of lower caste or untouchables and the others as higher castes or the framers of the society. So in short it can be said,”Raja ka beta hi raja banega.”OR “the son of the king is the upcoming king according to lineage.”

caste system in india
economic aspect of caste system in india

Not only that this age old tradition has rendered higher caste to be of higher class and lower caste to be of lower class.Till date this scenario has strengthened itself so much that the lower castes are deemed to rather forced to earn their living by minimal jobs .This has further secluded them so much that the general tendency of calling them as untouchables and treating them as aliens or non human beings is still prevalent not only in the rural areas but also in the urban culture.

I bet you wont be able to find out a household in India that drinks water or eats from the same vessel as that of there maid if he or she belongs to the so called lower castes.

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Social aspect of the caste?How is the caste system deshaping humans?

This system of caste has been so prevalent in our lives that we dare not cross its boundaries.It has been so widespread in our hearts and minds that we have not only judge people based on their castes but also define their chacterstics based on their castes. Nonetheless,this endless fight of thousands of years has profounded its rigidity so much that in many cases there are certain castes which has its own signature physical characterstics.

Caste system in india
Social aspects of indian caste system

Such physical ,mental and behavioural characterstics are a product of rigid intra caste marriages.These characters are also bullied upon by the upper caste goons and everyone fails to understand that this is the only reason that the caste stratification is still prevalent in the society.

The upper caste men look very lowly upon the lower castes and thus take them and their rights as granted.Though this has been the trend in the past but these guys are yet to realize their importance in the society.Take a look at the situation and you would realize that bringing them back to the mainstream in the government papers may be realized within another 20-30 years still getting them their social and psychological equality wont be possible in less than a century.

So was the system of reservation initiated but now it only remains a political agenda.No one has ever realized that the people who compete with those reservations in hand are already back to the mainstream hence donot require further attention.But those who are still unable to compete are still being pushed back due to either ignorance or their mentality to enjoy being in those social strata.Most probably they have been used to it and getting them back doesn’t need any reservation rather social counseling.

Genetic aspect of the caste.How bad is it?

Owing to the widespread of caste and its ill effects in India ,people have marginalized themselves in various groups and sub groups.Also in India,basically there are about 7 religions each with its own sect of division while Hinduism has the most number of divisions.Upon being variedly marginalized and reproducing constantly within that same gene pool for years altogether ,we have violated the nature’s interest of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Lets go through this example. Suppose we are 100 members in a group and there is random mating,the offsprings thus produced are healthy and the weaker ones slowly die out extruding those weaker or recessive genes out of the gene pool. But currently these 100 members of a common group are now divided into castes and various sub castes comprising about 5-6 members in each of them. Now imagine the offsprings of these endogamy within the sub castes will not be much healthy after 2-3 generations. Slowly the next generations will start being sick right from the birth itself and the entire subcaste would wipe out owing to Darwin’s theory of ,”survival of the fittest”.

caste system in india
genetic framework of caste system in india

This is a very established theory which is used in hybridization of major crops.Since human beings are sexual organisms,continuous breeding within a limited gene pool leads to inbreeding depression or loss of vigour and healthy nature of the offspring.No wonder,now we find some or the other disease in every family ,diabetes and blood pressure being the most common. Ofcourse our sedentary lifestyles and food habits as well as various environment factors are to be blamed for this,but genes still remain the prima facia for everything that happens in your body.

Anyways,this explains how deleterious this caste system has been to our society.


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