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Origin and History of Castes, Caste In India, What Is Caste? , Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra,

Origin Of Caste ? What Is Caste ?  How Many Type Of Castes In India, 

The word “Caste” itself stems from the Spanish and Portuguese “casta”, which means “race, lineage, or breed”.

It was applied by white colonials during the 17th century C.E. to refer to the system of social codification they witnessed existing in South Asia.

The native terms for Caste are often “varna (Caste group)” and “jati (Caste)”. Each Caste group encompasses within it several individual Castes varying in cultural and social practices, and who are limited from structural power by their placement within the pyramid.
Origin and History of Castes, Caste In India, What Is Caste? , Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra,
Caste pyramid

Caste apartheid is the system of religiously codified exclusion that was established in Hindu scripture. Hindu origin myths state that different people were created from different parts of God Brahma’s body and were to be ranked hierarchically according to ritual status, purity, and occupation. By this system, everyone at birth, is ranked with a Caste. Crucially, Caste is inherited from the family one is born into and is unalterable throughout that person’s life.

There are four main Caste groups. Those at the very top are Brahmins, who have traditionally been priests, scriptural knowledge-keepers and legislators. Below them in status are the Kshatriyas, who were kings and warriors. They are followed by Vaishyas, or the merchant classes. People in these three Caste groups are often referred to as the “upper” Castes. Those at the bottom of the Caste hierarchy are Shudras or traditional peasants. Many Shudras are also termed “Oppressed Castes”. Outside the 4-Caste group structure are people considered lower than the lowest of Castes.

They go by the term Dalit (meaning “broken” but “resilient”), formerly known as “untouchables” and the Adivasis, or the indigenous peoples of South Asia. Together these Caste-oppressed groups continue to experience profound injustices including socioeconomic inequalities, usurpation of their land, rights, and brutal violence.

The Caste one belongs to can determine your perceived level of ritual purity or pollution and goes on to determine the outcomes of your whole life - from where one can live and die, to what one can eat, what one’s occupation can be, and even who one can marry. The “Untouchables” in particular, are embroiled in a system of Caste apartheid even today. Their experience is made up of segregated ghettos, banned from places of worship, and denied access to schools and other public amenities including water and roads.

This entire system is enforced by violence and maintained by one of the oldest, most persistent cultures of impunity throughout South Asia, most notably in India, where despite the contemporary illegality of the system, it has persisted and thrived for 2,500 years.


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