The Caste System of India

450 Words2 Pages
The caste system and the major advantages and disadvantages of it.

Hindu philosophy and religion with customs and traditions are connected to the caste system as being deeply rooted in the society of India. Over 2800 documented castes break down into sub-castes with each having their own uniqueness and variety of rules. The hierarchy divides society with the highness or superiority and lowness or inferiority to set a defined rank structure. Each caste has set customs, traditional practices and rituals but also have it’s own informal procedures and rules as applicable. The dominant caste wields economic power, high status because of wealth, political power and numerical strength. The presence of higher educated persons and the higher occupation rate members play a decided role in the dominance within local caste groups. It is highly discouraged to seek any justice from local, area or government officials located outside the village.

The caste system is broken down into four main groups: Brahmans as the elites and mainly priests or highly educated. The Kshatriya as the rulers, warriors and land owners. The Vaishya are the merchants. The Shudra are the artisans and agriculturalists, there many sub-groups as this is the service provider group. Many of the “birth right” service groups function similarly to unions in the US. Then actually outside of the system are the Harijan or “untouchables”or as they like to be called “Dalits” (which in India means oppressed), their occupations are labeled as the unclean, unhealthy, and all dirty work which can be anything from being a musician, making cow dung into patties to burn as fuel or heat (by all castes)

A major advantage of the caste system is the ensuring of continuity of traditional social organization in India. The passing down of knowledge and skills with trades and occupations from one generation to the next is highly important. The rituals and traditions promoted cooperation and unity within the local areas between the different castes. Some subsystems promote interactions between different villages, communities and the castes independently.

Major disadvantages include the promotion of untouchability and discrimination against certain members of society even though it is illegal by the India constitution.

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