Throughout thousands of years in the Hindu religion, a person’s social class was determined immediately after they are born. This organisation was then later known as the Caste System. Caste members lived, married, and worked within their selected group. A person born into one caste was not allowed to change castes or associate with other members of a different caste. Rules and expectations were set for each caste, each caste had a clear and distinct role within the community.
It does not allow for upward mobility in society the Caste System is made up of four different castes; the highest among Hindu society were the Brahmins or priests, for the members of this caste it is essential that they keep themselves pure since they handle the sacred objects, and approach the gods in worship. Next came the Kshatriyas whom were considered the warriors or rulers, the Vaishya’s were skilled workers and traders, just below that were the unskilled labourers and servants called the Shudras.
Outside of the four castes there is a fifth traditionally known as ‘Varna’, now considered the ‘untouchables’, they were made to do the most tedious and unpleasant work within Indian society. It is believed that the Caste System became popular between the times; 1000 and 200 BCE. From as early as 1500 BCE, early written evidence of the Caste System appears in the sacred Hindu texts; Vedas and those written in Sanskrit language. Sanskrit is the classical and traditional language of India. Both Vedas and the Sanskrit-language texts form the Hindu scripture. The Rigveda, from c. 700-1100 BCE, rarely mentions caste distinctions, and indicates that social mobility was common.
The Rig Veda is the oldest and perhaps the most sacred of all Hindu scriptures. ‘The Hymn of the Primeval Man’ in the Rig-Veda explains and justifies the reasons for the beginning of the caste system: ‘When they divided the Man, Into how many parts did they divide him? What was his mouth, what were his arms, What were his thighs and feet called? The Brahman was his mouth, Of his arms was made the warrior, His thighs became the vaisya, Of his feet the sudra was born. ’
Each caste of the Hindu society was created from the body of the Primeval Man, The Rig-Veda did not mention “untouchables” as a group of people, and they were often unconsidered. The Caste System has caused many negative effects on the Hindu society. The Caste System is reliable on birth rather than their individual talent or choice, this creates disadvantages for those unlucky to be born into lower castes. The Caste System determines the wealth, power and privilege of all human beings. But aside from the belief in tradition and order the Caste System brings about inequality and injustice towards many of society.
Members of the higher castes enjoy all kinds of privileges, whereas the lower caste of society are deprived of all privileges, more than 160 million people in India alone are considered “Untouchable. ” Oppression plays a huge role during the early ages of the Caste System. The Untouchables were made to fear all those that dominated above them, they were treated inhumanely, Untouchables live in continual fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped by upper-caste Hindus in reassurance to keep them in place.
They were deprived all choice of social, religious, economic, cultural and political rights and privileges. This is considered inequality as the Untouchables have done nothing to deserve such punishment. Walking through an upper-caste neighbourhood is a dangerous wrongdoing. During the beginning of the 1900’s was the time in which justice occurred. “You must be the change you want to see in the world. ” – Mahatma Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi undermined the Caste System and tried to remove the tradition of downgrading treatment towards the untouchables from the Hindu religion.
Gandhi launched a propaganda against the evils of untouchability, he referred to the lower castes as the “children of God. ” Gandhi’s overall goal was to bring about peace and tolerance for people of all religions, but discrimination against the untouchables remained so pervasive that in 1989 the government passed legislation known as The Prevention of Atrocities Act. The Prevention of Atrocities Act meant it was illegal to harm or publicly humiliate those of the lower castes.
The Caste System still exists today in modern India, but the impact on Hindu lives is fewer after Gandhi’s actions on helping the ‘Children of God’ and bring peace throughout India. Social status’ and classes exist all throughout the modern world, including Australia itself, these central roles include; working class: people have to work for a living but have no real control over their work and other major decisions that could possibly affect them, they obey the rules given to them..
This class also includes pensioners and the unemployed who have to depend off handouts supplied by the government. Ruling class are the top of the class, they have real power within the economy and state, and so they potentially control society. They are the people that control investment decisions, determine high level policy, and set the agenda for capital and state. This group consists of around 5-15% of the world’s population.