The Caste system Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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In order to answer this question it is necessary to address the issues raised from the caste system and the importance it has for society and the Hindus. The main issue that has emerged from the caste system is the treatment of the untouchables or Dalits. The Dalits exist outside the caste system, there are literally outcastes, and because of this status thrust upon them they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy. This status has dire consequences for the dalits. In village life they are expected to dwell outside the confines of the village, as they are considered to be polluting for the higher castes.

Because they are considered to be polluting they are expected to have certain occupations that caste Hindus would consider polluting, such occupations include pig tending and assisting to cremate the dead, occupations that are not particularly appealing. They are the subject of crime and discrimination, for example K Danalaxmi, a Dalit, in Tamil Nadu and 57 other dalits have had been raided by higher caste Hindus and their huts the subject to arson attacks: she tells a BBC correspondent: the parents of children that go to the same school as my daughter did this¦

they hate us and may come back again. 5 Politically speaking the dalits are legally equal to any other higher caste Hindu, indeed in the village Tamil Nadu high caste Hindus go to school with dalit children, so efforts have been made to reconcile the social rift between castes. However, such action has resulted in the assaults and violent actions committed against the dalits similar to that of the dalits in the village of Tamil Nadu. Indeed throughout history there have been many attempts to affiliate the higher castes with the untouchables.

In the middle ages the Bhatki movement, meaning to love, encouraged the worship of God through adoration and devotion. More importantly in terms of caste, it attracted Hindus of all castes and presented a greater representation in Hindu society for those of the lower castes. In the 12th century, founder of the new philosophic movement, Shankaracharya preached that the two ways to salvation, dhyan and karma, was being monopolised by the Brahmin caste. Devotion was considered by the Bhatki movement as an equal path towards salvation.

Another historical example of criticism of the caste system came much later in the 18th and 19th centuries, during the days of the British Empire. Missionaries were sent out to civilise the native pagans to the light of Christianity. Missionaries were successful at converting the dalits and the lower castes; for these subsections of society Christianity presented an attractive alternate life style. More recently another critic of the Caste system had an enormous impact on Indian society, indeed on the world.

Mahatma Ghandi, who was a Vaisya, campaigned against the unjust social and economic aspects of the caste system, and did much work to improve the status of the untouchables, which he called the children of God or Harijans (a term much resented by the untouchables who preferred the term Dalits. ) The caste system is a highly controversial aspect of Hinduism, originating from Vedic times and lasting to the present day. It affects every aspect of Indian society, from marriages to government. It is has been heavily criticised since its creation, and constantly reformed.

Indeed in the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna invented the concept of Dharma, which offered reassurance to low caste Hindus for a chance for salvation. Albeit the caste systems origins may have been secular, it has become so embodied with the religion of Hinduism that to criticise the caste system is to criticise Hinduism. Thus it remains the foundation of modern Indian society. Has the caste system outlived its relevance to modern life? From a western perspective it has, westerners see it as inequitable and morally wrong.

But in order to understand the true flaws of the caste system it is necessary to view the caste system from a Hindu perspective, only then can a scholar see if the caste system should still exist and the importance it has to Hindu life.

Bibliography Introduction to Hinduism-Kim Knott www. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/south_asia/459591. stm http://artworld. uea. ac. uk/teaching_modules/india/historical_background/the_hindu_caste_system/welcome. html http://www. themystica. com/mystica/articles/b/bhakti. html 1 Introduction to Hinduism-K.

K. Klostermaier. 2 At the core of most religions is the idea of attempting to join a supreme being. 3 The term cycle is perhaps misleading as it is more linear than a cycle. (perhaps) 4 Arvind Shama in Hinduism by Kim Knott. 5 www. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/459591. stm Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Agard: Half-Caste section.

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