How does the Indian cast system work?

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How does the Indian cast system work?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Are you talking about casting for Bollywood? Or the caste system, which is a social classification?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Indian here. I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

**Varna** is a 4 part system described in the Vedas. You can think of this as the “OG” divisions of society and you’ll often see these labels referenced in ancient Hindu texts, epics, treaties, etc

– Brahmin (priest)
– Kshatriya (warrior)
– Vaishya (trader)
– Shudra (farmer/laborer)

The important thing to remember is that the real life ranking of castes and their power was extremely variable by location/time period and differed from what we would see in texts (written by Brahmins). As an example, the vast majority of kingdoms across Indian history were created by Kshatriyas or Shudras. Rulers, administrators, land owners, the rich and powerful were not Brahmins or necessarily Kshatriyas either. We have hundreds of ancient inscriptions where Shudra kings proclaim their Varna as the purest, the bravest, etc so clearly caste was not a total determinant of your success.

The thing is, Indians don’t go by Varna. Endogamy and caste politics is not based on these 4 categories. No, there is something a lot more modern and complex called **Jati** which is by far the more relevant societal category or label

Jati roughly translates to a community or clan. There are thousands of Jatis across the subcontinent, and they developed over the past 1500 years or so. Some claim to have descent from an old ruler, some claim to have migrated from elsewhere, the list goes on. When you ask an Indian about their Jati, you are getting much more relevant information about that persons background that applies to socioeconomic status, religion, culture, and more. Also, there is no actual ranking for Jatis. Most Jatis will think of their own group as superior and look down on mixing with other groups, regardless of their overall position in society, it’s just typical tribalism bullshit. But Jati is basically synonymous with caste and is a lot more accurate than classifying people based on Varna.

There is also something called Gotra which means “lineage” technically every Hindu has a Gotra and descends from some ancient Hindu dynasty but it’s more of a niche thing for religious people imo.

It’s worth considering that the caste system in India TODAY is very different from what it used to be 500 years ago vs 2000 years ago vs 4000 years ago. Caste has been illegal since 1947, but for a long time the Indian government used caste divisions to pander to voters and win elections. They also implemented extensive affirmative action based on caste so Indians would always be reminded of it even decades later. I think it’s slowly going away though, fortunately

I hope this was helpful. I probably got some stuff wrong lol

Anonymous 0 Comments

In the Ancient times, there were 4 Varnas/Castes: Brahmins(priests), Kshatriyas(Warriors) , Vaishyas(Traders) and Shudras(Workers/Labourers) and the basis of assigning caste was their profession. Also at that time it was quite flexible.

But later on this varna system became rigid and formed today’s so called caste system. Mobility from one caste to another was not possible. And this was the order of superiority: Brahmin> Kshatriya> Vaishya> Shudra.

This led to attrocities upon lower caste people. Like if a lower caste person draws water from a village well, then upper caste people will consider it as polluted. Lower caste people were not allowed to sit together or eat together with upper caste people.

And to overcome this, the govt started categorising every caste/ethnicity into certain categories like Unreserved(UR), OBC, SC, ST and gave them reservation benefits. And this system is still prevailing now.

In order to get a seat in a government college or in order to get a government job, different categories have different cutoff marks. Like an ST person would get the same job as an Unreserved(UR) person at a lesser marks.

(I will give a real life example. I am from Unreserved Category and I got 128 marks in an entrance exam for a job and I could not get the job at that marks. One of my senior who is from ST category got 108 marks and he got the job).

This is one factor which has led to increase in immigration to the west mostly by upper caste people of India.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s similar to racism, but instead of skin colour or race you have categories based on ancient professions and cultural practices. So you can have folks with very different appearances belonging to the same caste. However it’s still similar to racism in that professions were supposed to be inherited. So children inherit the caste of their parents.

Priests, Warriors, Traders, and Farmers/ Workers are the ones mentioned in the old scripts, but below those you also have the untouchables – the toilet cleaners, funeral workers, tribals etc.

You can change your name, but you can’t change your caste (even today). Caste based negative discrimination was abolished long ago, but informally it has of course continued e.g. Inter-caste marriages in villages can still lead to “honour killings”. Caste bias also resulted in informal economic exclusion of lower castes, which is especially relevant given the dependence on informal community financing and social contracts in business.

Affirmative action towards people of lower caste is a point of contention and both sides of the debate have been politicized. Anecdotally lower castes do seem under-represented and relegated to nominal or symbolic roles in business, politics, media etc. At the same time the folks benefiting from caste based affirmative action often seem to be from affluent families, i.e. they might not “need” the affirmative action.

Do note that reddit ELI5 is not a great place to ask this question. The current political climate in India is right-wing, and most Indian redditors are affluent Indians who have limited direct exposure to caste based issues. It’s better to depend on organizations and experts doing development work in Indian villages for a more nunced understanding of caste.