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Old October 30th, 2017, 10:55 AM   #1

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Caste System in India - History & Annihilation


Historically there have been two disadvantaged groups in the Indian caste system

(i) Outcastes (now called 'Dalits'), and
(ii) Shudras (now broadly called 'Other Backward Classes'/OBCs).

Fight against discriminatory Caste System in last 70 years:

It is a two-pronged fight as under.

(i) First Prong: GOI (Government of India) introduced effective affirmative action programs in terms of reservations in education, reservation in employment, fee waivers, and protection against social discrimination where the burden of proof is on the accused.

The affirmative programs are so effective that in last decade several castes have launched agitations to demand / force Govt of India or States to classify them in as a disadvantaged group. We have seen agitations by Gujjars (Rajasthan), Jats (Rajasthan, Haryana), Patidars (Gujarat).

(ii) Second Prong: Caste vote banks are wooed by political parties to win elections. Some political parties are exclusively caste-based (like BSP of Dalits) while others have broader base but make a special pitch to particular castes (like SP to Yadav caste).

Due to these reasons caste identities are becoming stronger and perhaps permanent as well.


The questions proposed for discussion:


[i] Which occupations formed part of Dalits (Outcastes) and which of OBC (Shudras) at various points of history?

[ii] What were / are the different types of discrimination / disadvantage they faced - economic and social?

[iii] Going forward, what are the possibilities of caste being "annihilated"?

Regards

Rajeev


Terminology / Definition:

Outcaste: These were people outside the four-fold caste system.

Dalits (used by Political parties), SC & ST (Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes used by Government), Harijan (used by Gandhi during colonial rule), Backward classes (used by British during colonial rule).

Shudras: These were people in lowest tier of four-fold caste system.

They get clubbed in what Mandal Commsions called 'Other Backward Classes' / OBCs. The term "OBCs" is also used by Govt of India and Govt of States.

Request:

Let us please use the terms 'Dalits' and 'OBCs'

Kindly cite primary & secondary sources supporting comments - like the Manu Smriti or any other.

Last edited by Rajeev; October 30th, 2017 at 10:58 AM.
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Old October 30th, 2017, 11:04 AM   #2
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Gread thread Rajeev. I saw this [below] documantary by Christian Amanpour. How well or otherwise does this reflect the situation on the ground in India?

Quote:
Kindly cite primary & secondary sources supporting comments - like the Manu Smriti or any other.
Yes, that would great if we can have the precise textual referance in the Manu Smriti that underpins the caste system.


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Old October 30th, 2017, 12:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeev View Post
Historically there have been two disadvantaged groups in the Indian caste system

(i) Outcastes (now called 'Dalits'), and
(ii) Shudras (now broadly called 'Other Backward Classes'/OBCs).

Fight against discriminatory Caste System in last 70 years:

It is a two-pronged fight as under.

(i) First Prong: GOI (Government of India) introduced effective affirmative action programs in terms of reservations in education, reservation in employment, fee waivers, and protection against social discrimination where the burden of proof is on the accused.

The affirmative programs are so effective that in last decade several castes have launched agitations to demand / force Govt of India or States to classify them in as a disadvantaged group. We have seen agitations by Gujjars (Rajasthan), Jats (Rajasthan, Haryana), Patidars (Gujarat).

(ii) Second Prong: Caste vote banks are wooed by political parties to win elections. Some political parties are exclusively caste-based (like BSP of Dalits) while others have broader base but make a special pitch to particular castes (like SP to Yadav caste).

Due to these reasons caste identities are becoming stronger and perhaps permanent as well.


The questions proposed for discussion:


[i] Which occupations formed part of Dalits (Outcastes) and which of OBC (Shudras) at various points of history?

[ii] What were / are the different types of discrimination / disadvantage they faced - economic and social?

[iii] Going forward, what are the possibilities of caste being "annihilated"?

Regards

Rajeev


Terminology / Definition:

Outcaste: These were people outside the four-fold caste system.

Dalits (used by Political parties), SC & ST (Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes used by Government), Harijan (used by Gandhi during colonial rule), Backward classes (used by British during colonial rule).

Shudras: These were people in lowest tier of four-fold caste system.

They get clubbed in what Mandal Commsions called 'Other Backward Classes' / OBCs. The term "OBCs" is also used by Govt of India and Govt of States.

Request:

Let us please use the terms 'Dalits' and 'OBCs'

Kindly cite primary & secondary sources supporting comments - like the Manu Smriti or any other.
I am writing from a south indian perspective

[i] Which occupations formed part of Dalits (Outcastes) and which of OBC (Shudras) at various points of history?

Dalits: leather making, barbers, cleaning of toilets

OBC: military, agriculture, office work, manufacturing

[ii] What were / are the different types of discrimination / disadvantage they faced - economic and social?

Dalits: separate facilities within village, temple entry prohibition, compulsory obeisance to OBC and brahmins, denial of education. It was basically slavery

OBC: Not anything i can think of. Mainly a culture of mediocrity developed because of the caste system. The OBC were contend to stay above dalits in the heirarchy. They did not challenge the supremacy of the brahmins.

[iii] Going forward, what are the possibilities of caste being "annihilated"?

In india increasing urbanisation will be the driving force in the dismantling of the caste system. English education, reservations and globalisation are speeding up the process.
When the per capita income of India equals that of the western world, I believe the caste system will be annihilated
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Old October 30th, 2017, 01:05 PM   #4
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Interesting articlre that sheds light on the philosophical and religious underpinng of caste in Hinduism. It appears to be informed by various Hindu text - mostly the Manusmrti.

"The ancient Indian term for caste was ‘varna’ i.e. complexion. In general people belonging to the three upper castes were of fair complexion and the Shudras of swarthy complexion. So, it may be conceived that the former were were primarily Aryans (believed to be belonging to Cacasoid whilte races from central Asia which had invaded India and subjugated the indigenous people and got settled as rulers of the Indian suncontinent) and the Shudras, indigenous people (mainly proto-Australoid or Dravida) whom the Aryans had subjugated while invading the Indian subcontinent and incorporated these vanquished black people into the Aryan hierarchy as the fourth and serving class for their own interest.The Vedic Concept
The relevant sloka from Rig Veda is:
“The Brahmanas were His Mouth, the Kshatriyas became His Arms, The Vaishyas were His Thighs, and the Shudras were assigned to His Feet” (Rig Veda, 10.90.12)3.
Caste System in Manusmriti

Manu opines that the creator has assigned specific duties to specific classes of people and to substantiate his views he repeats the Vedic concept viz., Brahmins originated from the mouth, Kshatriyas from the arms, Vaishyas from the thighs, and Shudras from the feet of the creator. So, they have different functions in all the ages. To quote:
1.87. But in order to protect this universe He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate duties and occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet4.
10.5. In all castes those children only which are begotten in the direct order on wedded wives, equal in castes and married as virgins, are to be considered as belonging to the same caste as their fathers5.
The lowest caste, viz. the Shudras, forming the majority of the population, was turned into almost slaves of the minority upper three through the guideline that the primary function of the Shudras is to serve the three upper castes. To quote:
1/91: One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Shudra, to serve meekly even these other three castes6.

Manu opines that if a person belonging to any caste relinquishes his assigned duties and adopts some forbidden duty, he will be degenerated, unless he is compelled to do so by unavoidable pressure of circumstances. To quote:
12.70: But men of the four castes, who have relinquished without the pressure of necessity their proper occupation, will become the servants of Dasyus, after migrating into despicable bodies7.
It appears that Manu emphasized that division of labour according to castes should be based on heredity.
Caste System in Mahabharata

From certain slokas of the epic Mahabharata, it may appear at first sight that the epic insisted on determination of caste of a person by his propensities and talents and not by birth. To quote:
“Everyone derives his own nature from the nature of his acts, in respect of their circumstances, place, and means and motives.” (Ganguli, Sec-62)8.


Manusmriti and Origin of Dalits in India | Sulekha Creative
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Old October 30th, 2017, 01:23 PM   #5
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Simple "abc" of caste system by the Dalit's themselves.

https://www.dalitsolidarity.org/dali...chability.html
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Old October 30th, 2017, 08:10 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullit View Post
Simple "abc" of caste system by the Dalit's themselves.

https://www.dalitsolidarity.org/dali...chability.html
That would be one-side of the story, Christian and political.
(St. Patrick's School on their home-page is a give-away)

Last edited by Aupmanyav; October 30th, 2017 at 08:18 PM.
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Old October 30th, 2017, 11:56 PM   #7

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If Shuras are mentioned in RigVeda (Purusha Sukta), then they were not indigenous Indians. They were part of the Aryan society. Incidently Purusha Sukta does not say that Shudras are not at par with the other three divisions. They are part of One Purusha.

"Brāhmaṇo.asya mukhamāsīd bāhū rājanyaḥ kṛitaḥ l
ūrūtadasya yad vaiśyaḥ padbhyāṃ śūdro ajāyata ll"
http://sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10090.htm

(The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rājanya made.
His thighs became the Vaiśya, from his feet the Śūdra was produced.)

Similarly Gita also does not say anything about higher of lower castes:

"Chatur-varnyam mayā srishtam, guna-karma-vibhāgasah;
tasya kartāram api mām, viddhy akartāram avyayam." BG 4.13

(I have created the four divisions according to their inclination and work ascribed to them. Although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.)
https://asitis.com/4/13.html

The Zoroastrians also have a similar four-fold division of the society.

Last edited by Aupmanyav; October 31st, 2017 at 12:05 AM.
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Old October 31st, 2017, 12:33 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by maratha View Post
I am writing from a south indian perspective

[i] Which occupations formed part of Dalits (Outcastes) and which of OBC (Shudras) at various points of history?

Dalits: leather making, barbers, cleaning of toilets

OBC: military, agriculture, office work, manufacturing
Hi Maratha,

I have never got a text-reference on whether farmers and foot-soldiers were classed as OBC (Shudra caste) in ancient times.

At least military may be classified as kshatriyas.

Regards

Rajeev

PS: Megasthenes (c. 300 BCE) recorded seven hereditary classes or professions - Philosophers, Farmers (most numerous), Herders, Artisans, Military (second most numerous), Overseers, Councilors / Assessors.
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Old October 31st, 2017, 02:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeev View Post
Hi Maratha,

I have never got a text-reference on whether farmers and foot-soldiers were classed as OBC (Shudra caste) in ancient times.

At least military may be classified as kshatriyas.

Regards

Rajeev

PS: Megasthenes (c. 300 BCE) recorded seven hereditary classes or professions - Philosophers, Farmers (most numerous), Herders, Artisans, Military (second most numerous), Overseers, Councilors / Assessors.
Hi Rajeev,

I am writing from experience. Most of the south indians can trace their ancestry from mid 17th century. Ive lived in tamilnadu and karnataka. The OBC castes aka shudras in those areas were mainly serving the nayaks, arcot nawabs, polygars and the british till mid 19th century. Military service and agriculture were their occupations. The vedic kshatriyas you are talking about ceased to exist in the BC period itself. The subsequent kshatriyas were mlecchas and shudras who were elevated to kshatriya status.

The multiple wives of India?s ?Photographer Prince? | Daily Mail Online

The king here does not look any different from an average indian

Last edited by maratha; October 31st, 2017 at 02:33 AM.
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Old October 31st, 2017, 04:53 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by maratha View Post
The subsequent kshatriyas were mlecchas and shudras who were elevated to kshatriya status.

The multiple wives of India?s ?Photographer Prince? | Daily Mail Online

The king here does not look any different from an average indian
Yes, many dynasties of Rajas were from village or forest or even foreign backgrounds. But then 'women in the harem' could be any woman who interested the King and was brought to the palace (concubines) and not a queen. Nizam Hyderabad had some 450 concubines. I suppose the photographs and dress do not do justice to them.

As for the much-maligned and the much-interpolated Manu Smriti:
एवं यः सर्वभूतेषु पश्यत्यात्मानमात्मना । स सर्वसमतामेत्य ब्रह्माभ्येति परं पदम् ॥
Evam yah sarvabhūteshu pashyātyātmānamātmanā l sa sarvasamatāmetya Brahmābhyeti param padam ll
He who thus recognizes in his individual soul (Self, Atman), the universal soul that exists in all beings, becomes equal-minded towards all, and enters the highest state, Brahman.
- Manusmriti 12.125

@Bullit:
The varna scheme is like this: Brahmins: pouring over their book and not going out in the sun - not tanned - fair. Kshatriyas, engaging in various war games, non-vegetarian, ruddy complexion. Vaishyas: sitting in their shops, not exercising, pale. Shudras: working in the sun, in fields, Swarthy. That is what scriptures also picked up. Complexions related to what they were doing.

One must also note that there are many manuscripts of Manu Smriti and not all manuscripts are the same. Going through the Wikipedia article will be useful.

"Over fifty manuscripts of the Manusmriti are now known, but the earliest discovered, most translated and presumed authentic version since the 18th century has been the "Calcutta manuscript with Kulluka Bhatta commentary". Modern scholarship states this presumed authenticity is false, and the various manuscripts of Manusmriti discovered in India are inconsistent with each other, and within themselves, raising concerns of its authenticity, insertions and interpolations made into the text in later times.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manusmriti

Last edited by Aupmanyav; October 31st, 2017 at 06:13 AM.
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