The Hindu Caste System

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					  The
Hindu
 Caste
System
            Hinduism

Hinduism is derived from the Persian
word “Hind” for “inhabitant of India”.
It is different than Christianity and
other religions because it does not have
a single founder like Abraham or Jesus
Christ.
It grew over a period of 4,000 years.
             Hinduism

Hinduism is composed of many different
groups and has no well-defined
organization.
Its two most general features are the caste
system and acceptance of the Vedas as
the sacred scriptures.
            Hinduism

Many outsiders influenced the
development of Hinduism, especially the
Aryans, who came to India in 1500 and
brought with them their religion of
Vedism and the Vedas, their sacred
scriptures.
These beliefs became mixed with the
Indian beliefs to form the Hindu
religion.
              The Vedas
           The Vedas are some of the
           oldest written text on our
           planet. They date back to the
           beginning of Indian civilization
           and are the earliest literary
           records of the Aryan race. They
           were written between 4-6,000
           years ago in an ancient language
           called Sanskrit.

           The Vedas are divided into four
           groups, Rigveda, Yajurveda,
           Samaveda and Atharvaveda and
           are full of hymn, rituals,
Sanskrit   religious practices and poems.
      The Vedas
The Rig Veda tells the story of
Prajapati, the first god who created
the world.
Prajapati was sacrificed to himself
by the younger gods Indra, Agni,
and Varuna, and out of his body
parts the whole universe was made.
The Rig Veda says that the
Prajapati’s body parts turned into
different groups of people, so that
Indian people thought of themselves
as belonging to one of four castes, or
groups.
This idea of caste is an Aryan idea.
Hinduism
       The Caste System

So, the Caste System began in India after
the Aryans invaded and established their
own rules for governing the society.
The Aryans did not permit marriages
between their own people and people of the
cultures they conquered.
This was very different from the Romans,
who encouraged the people they conquered
and the soldiers to marry.
       The Caste System
A caste is a division of society based on
occupation and family ancestry. The caste
system was based on birth. People inherited
caste from their parents and passed it on to
their children.

Each caste had its own specific place in
society. They socialized, ate, married,
worked, and worshipped within their own
caste. They would never consider marrying
or working outside their caste.
      The Caste System

The caste system, then, was based upon
idea that people are different, so they
should have different roles.

From 1000 to 500 BC, four classes of people
emerged in India. Really there are 5
groups, however the untouchables are
considered so low that they aren’t even
counted.
 The
castes

upper
class
    BRAHMAN
They are the priestly class, who
are entitled to study the Vedas,
which are the sacred scriptures,
and perform rites rituals for
themselves and for others.
They are the men between the
gods and the people. They are
expected to show excellent
behavior and spend their lives in
the pursuit of divine knowledge
and preservation the traditions of
Hinduism.
   KSHATRIYAS
They are the warrior class, who
are commanded to protect the
people, give gifts to the
Brahmins, offer sacrifices to gods
and ancestors, study the Vedas,
and dispense justice.
 It was their responsibility to
protect the caste system and the
social order and lavish the priests
with generous gifts at every
opportunity.
 The
castes

middle
 class
       VAISYAS
They are the merchant and
peasant classes, who are expected
to tend cattle, offer sacrifices,
study the Vedas, trade, lend
money and farm the land.
They had the right to perform and
participate in certain Vedic rituals
but they were not allowed to
marry women of higher castes.
 The
castes

lowest
classes
        SUDRAS
The are the laboring class, whose
only duty is to serve the other three
castes.
They were not required to observe
any Vedic rituals. They were not
allowed to study the Vedas or even
hear the sacred chants.
They were not allowed to eat food in
the company of higher castes or
marry their women.
             SUDRAS
           HARIJAN also called
              Untouchables
The lowest of the sudras were called
harijan or the untouchables. They were
outside of the caste system because of
their religious practices, rites and
unclean habits.
In ancient times they were not allowed
to enter a village or city during day
time or walk in the same street where
men of other castes walked.
         SUDRAS
         HARIJAN also called
            Untouchables
Even their shadow was considered
impure and seeing an untouchable
was considered bad luck.
So they lived mostly on the edges of
society, unknown and uncared for,
and working in graveyards or as
hunters, butchers and professional
cleaners of human waste.
            Varna


             Brahmins        Social
                            Hierarchy
            Kshatriyas



            Vaishyas



             Shudras



Outcasts [Harijan]  Untouchables
    Varna


 WHO IS…                         Brahmins



 The mouth?   Kshatriyas


 The arms?
 The legs?                        Vaishyas

 The feet?

                       Shudras

				
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