India is possibly one of the most complex countries in the world in their social relationships are concerned, with its well – known “castes” that determine interactions, obligations, and requirements of much of the population of the subcontinent. These 5 curiosities about the social classes of India will take you into a culture full of aromas, color, and also some contradictions.
The castes of India belong to a system that divides social classes according to their lineage or work. This design, coming from the Portuguese word that would come to mean “lineage”, began to be much more promoted during the second half of the 19th century, a time when the British colonization organized India administratively when serving the Empire. Still, the social division of India is a trend fostered since ancient times, although not in such a structured way.
The four castes
In India, there are currently two perceptions of the caste system: the Varna, which includes the four castes. And the Jati, a system that adds more options to the previous one depending on the different jobs. The Varna system would be the following:
- Brahmans (priests): it is the highest, cultured and philosophical caste. The Brahmans are thinkers who since ancient times have interpreted reality manifested religious forms. And interpreted the Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, and stands for a paltry knowledge than any other social class can imitate.
- Kshatriya (politicians and rulers): this caste is the one that acquired the greatest importance during the foreign domination since it corresponds to those personalities who are in charge of governing or defending the country: ministers, kings, policemen …
- Vaisyas (merchants): Vaisias make up the class linked to commerce, also including landowners in charge of promoting agricultural activities.
- Sudras (workers): members of the lower class, those linked to the land, and serving the previous three: ranchers, servants, servants.
The “fifth” caste
The so-called untouchables or “Dalits” are considered an unclassifiable group since it is one made up of people who are in charge of a frowned upon or dirty occupation: working in cemeteries, cleaning the streets of garbage or not having an occupation. They are also known as “pariahs” and currently represent 17% of the population of India. All of them living in absolute poverty and denied many of the justice or health services.
The main problem faced by the lower castes in India lies in the fact that the social class into which you were born will condition you throughout your life and prevent you from interacting with another, as happens with the Brahmins who do not accept food from the Shudras , or the shudra who can never marry the daughter of criteria. A reality that not only hinders the development of an individual on a “physical” level but also on a mental level, since it will drive them to always think that they are inferior. To all, this should be added the impotence of not being able to choose a job freely or suffer marginalization. As is the case of untouchables who during their childhood must eat separately from other children at school. And cannot maintain physical contact with other castes as they grow up.
Although after the independence of the United Kingdom this system was officially considered illegal. The reality is not so different from then. In large cities such as New Delhi or Mumbai, the increased interaction between different castes has allowed intermarriage. And new job opportunities, but for the vast majority of the country, especially in rural areas. The caste system continues to be implemented.
These 5 curiosities about the social castes of India will help you immerse yourself even more in the culture of a country where its mausoleums, dishes, and colors make up the most superficial part of what is one of the most complex (and unfair) social systems in the world.