June 19, 2007


Once upon a time in history, India was known as “The Golden Bird”. The name was a result of India’s immense wealth – natural as well as man made. But what goes up has to come down and, in time, India too was reduced to an impoverished state with very limited resources.

Many factors were responsible for India’s fall- external as well as internal. One of the internal factors that led to the down fall of India as a culture, and is still plaguing modern India, is the caste system.

The caste system seems to have its root in the fact that during ancient times sons often followed their father’s footsteps with respect to the profession they chose to make a living. Soon, professions began to be attached to a particular family or a group of families and thus caste were born.

There were four major castes that were prevalent in the society. The Brahmans or the priests occupied the top position in this hierarchy, Kshatriyas or the Kings and soldiers came Second, Vaishyas or the trades’ men and Sudras or the workmen made the bottom rung of the societal ladder. Initially there were no water tight compartments dividing each caste, but with time the differences began to get greater and greater until, finally, there were four classes that were separated by a barrier even greater than the Great Himalayas.

Though over the years things have changed for the better, but it is still not surprising to hear about fighting among two castes for no particular reason. Still there are a lot of temples that do not allow harijans (A name meaning people of God, given by Gandhi ji to the Sudras) to enter. Inter-caste marriages are still not common in the Indian society and even the most modern of men try to find a girl within their caste to marry.

What surprises me is how we humans find one way or another to differentiate between each other. If it’s not color, then its caste; if it’s not caste then it will be something else. Though it is always said that all men are born equal, and that all men are children of one God, yet what is actually practiced is totally different from what is preached.


Sandy Carlson said...

This is interesting. In the US, there is a caste system of sorts--a class system and a religion system. When my husband and I married, his Roman Catholic parents went nuts. His mother said to me, "You Protestants are so liberal." We had just met. The assumptions and judgments come with these first sets of labels, and they kill of meaningful relationships. It's awful, but I believe it's changing for the better. If only we can keep what is good about our belief systems and let go of those things that build walls.

RC said...

this is interesting...

and you're right we're natural discriminators...

it's as though it's are unhealthy nature in how we understand the world.

Blue Panther said...

Sandy: I agree, we should let go of the things in our belief systems that only result in the building of walls. And if there are good things in other systems we should not hesitate in accepting those ideas.

RC: I hope we can change before it is too late.

stev said...

mmm. interesting how taj mahal lead towards talking on castes

(would love to hear more on your thoughts on taj mahal from your perspective some day)

well i guess it is within our nature by humans to stereotype & discriminate. yet we do it either discreetly or in public view based on the culture and people around us.

still some signs are encouraging, yet of course some other events show that we might yet actually be taking a step backwards.

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