Caste System in India

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In each society, there are different types of rules and ideologies that are used in order to help govern its people. Within these communities, these rules create a social hierarchy developed through a ranked system based on either economic value or religious beliefs. A type of ranked system that most people are familiar with is the Caste System in India, which is a system of classification in a society based on birth. This complex social structure is most prevalent in India, where social hierarchy is in affiliation with Hinduism. It recognizes two concepts known as Varna and Jati. Varna is a word in Sanskrit meaning color and includes four main groups: the Brahmans, Kshtriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. The fifth group, the most segregated caste in the system, is the Untouchables. Within each Varna contains an array of sub-caste called Jatis, which are also based on birth. The rules of the cases are governed through religious ideas of purity and pollution. These two socially constructed ideologies determine whether or not you were respected in the community. Caste assignments in India are predestined at birth rather than a personal choice. Individuals act and dress like those of their own caste in public, due to strict caste laws. Pressures of these rules tend to brainwash people into conforming into what society considers pure, as we’ll see in Kakar & Kakar’s reading. As human nature takes precedent, caste rules become less relevant. Indulging in one’s own desires or needs, especially during times of hardship, outweighs any types of rules that we’ll see in Freeman’s reading and the movie Distant Thunder. Though the caste system is such an intrinsic part of life, when faced with needs to survive, it becomes nothing more than just a...

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... over people’s lives, no amount of rules can ever take away a person’s drive to take what they want.

Work Cited
Bhattacharya, S. (Producer) & Ray, S. (Director). 1973. Distant Thunder. [Movie] Balaka Movies.

Freeman, J.M. 1979. Untouchables: An Indian Life History. Stanford University Press. Pp. 3-53.

Hinduism: Caste Systems, Reincarnation, and Karma.2009. Oriental Philosophy. Retrieved January, 28,2014, from

Kakar & Kakar. The Indians: Portrait of a People. Pp. 35-37.

Pandey, T. N., 2014. Lecture 1/9/14: Culture of India: Aryan and Indigenous Population. Cultures of India. U.C. Santa Cruz.

Pandey, T.N., 2014. Lecture 1/14/14: Cultures of India: Hierarchy Structure in India. Cultures of India. U.C. Santa Cruz.

Paz, O. 1995. In Light of India. Harcourt, Inc. Pp.56-58
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