What is the Caste System?

发布日期:2018-07-06   字体大小:   

The caste system was created with the entry of Aryans into India. The word “caste” is used to translate the Sanskrit word “Varna”. Its original meaning was “color” or “quality”. According to their theory, white-skinned Aryans were a superior race; the dark colored Dravidians and other aborigines were inferior races. At first, this system was used to distinguish between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. Subsequently, with the developing division of trades and occupations, the caste distinction formerly used for separating Aryans from non-Aryans also found reflection among Aryans themselves. Hence the division of four castes: the highest caste was Brahmana, the class of kings and warriors who administered military and political affairs; the third was Vaisya, composed of merchants, artisans and peasants engaged in farm work; and the fourth was Sudra, composed of farm labors, herdsmen, servants and slaves. The first three castes were Aryan and the last one non-Aryan. Each caste had its own hereditary occupations and were not permitted to inter-marry, and in particular, any mixing between Sudras and other castes was strictly prohibited. There were special laws governing the offspring of Sudra males and females of other castes. For instance, the shameful title of Candala was given to the child born of a Sudra male and a Brahmin female. The status of Canhala was the most degraded and since they were not allowed physical contact with others, they were known as the “untouchables”. From generation to generation, these people took the humblest jobs such as corpse-carriers, butchers, and executioners. The caste system was not only enacted in laws but also unshakably regulated by religious doctrines and tenets. In Madhya Desa, the caste system was most strictly enforced under the powerful influence of Brahmanism. (From Essentials of Buddhism: Questions and Answers)

Share: 0