Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

Victor Che
21.12.2015

Does India need a twenty-first century caste?

What determines the life of Hindus in modern ashrams and megalopolises? The system of government, built on European patterns, or a special form of apartheid, which was supported by the castes in ancient India and continue to embody in itself today? The clash of the norms of Western civilization with Hindu traditions sometimes leads to unpredictable results.

Varna and Jati

Trying to figure out which castes existed in India and continue to influence its society today, one should turn to the basics of organizing tribal groups. Ancient societies regulated the gene pool and social relations with the help of two principles - endo- and exogamy. The first allows you to create a family only within its own range (tribe), the second prohibits marriages between members of a part of this community (clan). Endogamy is a factor in preserving cultural identity, while exogamy is opposed to the degenerative effects of closely related relationships. In varying degrees, both mechanisms of biosocial regulation are necessary forthe existence of civilization. We appeal to the experience of South Asia, because the role of endogamouscaste in modern indiaand Nepal continues to be the clearest example of the phenomenon.

In the era of the development of the territory (1500 - 1200 years BC) the social system of the ancient Hindus already provided for the division into four varnas (colors) - Brahmins (Brahmins), Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Varna, presumably, once were a homogeneous entity without additional class division.

Brahmins

In the early Middle Ages, with the growth of the population and the development of social interaction, the main groups underwent further social stratification. The so-called “jati” appeared, the status of which is associated with the original origin, history of the group, professional activity and region of residence.

In turn, the Jati themselves contain many subgroups of different social status. Anyway, the slender pyramidal structure of subordination can be traced both by the example of jati and in the case of generalizing superclans - varnas.

Brahmins are considered the highest caste in India. Priests, theologians and philosophers among them play the role of a link between the worlds of gods and people.Kshatriyas bear the burden of state power and military leaders. Gautam Siddhartha Buddha is the most famous representative of this varna. The third general category in the Hindu hierarchy, vaishyas, is mainly composed of clans of merchants and landowners. And, finally, the “working ants” of the Sudra are servants and hired laborers of narrow specialization.

The lowest caste in India — the untouchables (the Dalit group) —is outside the barn system, although it represents about 17% of the population and is involved in active social interaction. This group "brand" should not be taken literally. After all, even the priests and warriors do not consider it shameful to have a haircut at the hairdresser's Dalit. An example of the fantastic class emancipation of the representative of the untouchable caste in India was Dalit K. R. Narayanan, who was president of the country in 1997-2002.

Warriors

The synonymous perception by Europeans of untouchables and a pariah is a common misconception. Pariahs are completely declassed and completely powerless people, deprived of even the very possibility of group unification.

Mutual reflection of economic classes and castes in India

The last time information about class property was studied in 1930 at the time of the census. Then the amountcaste in indiawas more than 3000. If a bulletin table was used at such an event, it would have counted up to 200 pages. According to ethnographers and sociologists, the number of Jati by the beginning of the twenty-first century has declined by about two times. This may be due to both industrial development and ignoring caste differences among Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas who were educated in Western universities.

Technical progress leads to a certain decline in handicraft. Industrial corporations, trade and transport companies need armies of identical Shudras - workers, detachments of middle managers from among the Vaisyas and Kshatriyas in the role of top managers.

Vaishyas

Mutual projections of economic classes and castes in modern India are not obvious. Most modern politicians are vaisyas, not kshatriyas, as one might suppose. The management of large trading firms is mainly those who, according to the canon, should be warriors or rulers. And even the impoverished Brahmins who cultivate the land live in the countryside ...

Sudra

To understand the controversial reality of the modern caste society will not help either recreational travel trips or search queries such as "India Caste Photos". It is much more effective to get acquainted with the opinions of L. Alaev, I. Glushkova and other orientalists and Hindus on this issue.

Stronger than the law can only be a tradition

The Constitution of 1950 affirms the equality of all classes before the law. Moreover, even the slightest manifestation of discrimination - the question of origin at the time of admission to work - is a criminal offense. The irony of the collision of modernist norms with reality lies in the fact that the Indians unmistakably determine the group identity of the interlocutor for a couple of minutes. Moreover, the name, facial features, speech, education and clothing are not here of decisive importance.

Sadhu

The secret to preserving the value of endogamy lies in the positive role that it can play in social and ideological plans. Even the lower class is a kind of insurance company for its members. The castes and varnas in India are cultural heritage, moral authority and a system of clubs.The authors of the Indian constitution were also aware of this, recognizing the original endogamous nature of social groups. In addition, universal suffrage unexpectedly for modernizers became a factor in strengthening caste identification. Group positioning facilitates the tasks of propaganda and the formation of political programs.

This is how the symbiosis of Hinduism and Western democracy develops in a contradictory and unpredictable manner. The caste structure of society demonstrates both illogicality and high adaptability to changing conditions.In ancient india castewere not considered eternal and indestructible formations, despite the fact that they were consecrated by the law of Manu from the “Aryan code of honor”. Who knows, perhaps we are witnesses to the realization of the ancient Hindu prediction that "in the era of Kali-yuga, everyone will be born sudras."

Hereditary orientalist Allan Rannu talks about human destiny and the four varnas as tools for knowing the world and yourself.


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  • Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?

    Does a 21st Century India Need Caste?