Caste System in India - History & Annihilation

Oct 2015
1,133
India
A very common holy Hindu text one would find in Hindu homes is 'Bhagavad Gita' (Song of the God). The text embodies what it is to be a Hindu, all written by the Brahmin caste. The main purpose of this text is to justify one's born caste, and glorify the virtues that would bring to one's life if one fulfills one's caste duties, while demonizing low castes. It is written about 2000+ years ago. Such theologies have long created a Hindu culture infused with caste system. It is hard to get rid of something like that as easy as Japan did.
On caste normally 'Manu Smriti' is demonised. But that is also a about 1800 old text. The criticism of Manu Smriti does not allow for time difference. But in human practices have existed in all religions. Christians too practiced barbarities like witch hunting till the 18th century in which women were tortured, burned, drowned, or executed. [1] But western historiography just puts it aside.

Bhagavad Gita is about Karma Yoga (or performing one's duties). This is the first time I am reading someone saying that Bhagwat Gita "main purpose" is to glorify caste.


[1] Witch-hunt - Wikipedia
 
Jul 2014
1,602
world
Caste system in India is something that is entirely different from anything that existed elsewhere. It is very unique, religiously justified and glorified in Hinduism. For example. a Hindu without a caste just can't be a Hindu. Caste runs deep in Hinduism. A very common holy Hindu text one would find in Hindu homes is 'Bhagavad Gita' (Song of the God). The text embodies what it is to be a Hindu, all written by the Brahmin caste. The main purpose of this text is to justify one's born caste, and glorify the virtues that would bring to one's life if one fulfills one's caste duties, while demonizing low castes. It is written about 2000+ years ago. Such theologies have long created a Hindu culture infused with caste system. It is hard to get rid of something like that as easy as Japan did.
I know caste system sucks. and Hinduism with caste system sucks. But so did all the other religions which have mostly moved away from the bad parts. Jewish people dont stone women nowadays and Christians don't persecute Pagans and women. Why cant Hinduism reform once again as well since they have done it many times before ?

Arya Samaj is a very good example of reformed Hinduism. NO castes.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,652
New Delhi, India
Courts and police provide whatever protection the couple need.
The main purpose of this text is to justify one's born caste, and glorify the virtues that would bring to one's life if one fulfills one's caste duties, while demonizing low castes.
No. Gita does not demonize lower castes. It says:

"The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcaste)". BG 5.18

Not much can be done if the person was born in a poor family. Not everyone of them will become a Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. Most will have to adjust with their situation. But if they fulfill their duties ('dharma')then they also would be happy. There are hundreds of people from lower castes who are revered in Hinduism as saints, including Sage VedaVyasa. Some Azhvars and Nayanars also were from lower castes. Do not demonize Hinduism in a history forum.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,652
New Delhi, India
I would trust BBC anytime, compared to what you claim. Could you give some details on this 'dalit temple priests'?
Here, my adversary (He is not a temple priest, he is a Mahamandaleshwar, equivalent to Bishop or more. A Cardinal. Remove your colored spectacles):
Dalit Sadhu to be Mahamandaleshwar at Kumbh 2019
Why cant Hinduism reform once again as well since they have done it many times before ?
I think I have given the reasons to you earlier for the same query. It is politics, it is democracy and votes which keeps the caste system alive. Not only caste differences but also religious differences. The Christian clergy regularly issue advice to their constituents not to vote for BJP.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,767
USA
Bhagavad Gita is about Karma Yoga (or performing one's duties). This is the first time I am reading someone saying that Bhagwat Gita "main purpose" is to glorify caste.
In the context of Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu prince Arjuna, born of warrior caste, hesitates to go to an impending battle because it would kill his enemies who are also his cousins, and friends. He wishes to renounce the duty expected of a warrior - that is to fight the battle. God Krishna who acts as Arjuna's charioteer then convinces Arjuna through a dialog that there is nothing more important for a Hindu than performing the duty of the caste one is born into, and that performing the duty of another caste is fraught with fear. That is the essence of Gita.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,652
New Delhi, India
God Krishna who acts as Arjuna's charioteer then convinces Arjuna through a dialog that there is nothing more important for a Hindu than performing the duty of the caste one is born into, and that performing the duty of another caste is fraught with fear. That is the essence of Gita.
The essence of BhagawadGita is to do one's duty irrespective of all other things without the desire of a reward. That is 'Anasakti Yoga' of Mahatma Gandhi. If you were a police officer, would you not arrest your brother if he has committed a crime? BhagawadGita famously says:

"You have a right only to your action, and not to its rewards. Do not consider the result of your action as solely yours*, and never associate with inaction." BhagawadGita 2.47
* There are many other variables (commonly termed as 'luck') involved.

Do not try to explain something which you do not understand because of your biases of being a Christian and a Hindu-hater (as your religion demands. We are, after all, pagans and non-believers in Jesus' pedigree and mission). You hardly deserve the membership of this 'history' forum. Kindly remember that this is not a forum for evangelism, and that we have answers for all your observations.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,767
USA
The essence of BhagawadGita is to do one's duty irrespective of all other things without the desire of a reward. That is 'Anasakti Yoga' of Mahatma Gandhi. If you were a police officer, would you not arrest your brother if he has committed a crime? BhagawadGita famously says:

"You have a right only to your action, and not to its rewards. Do not consider the result of your action as solely yours*, and never associate with inaction." BhagawadGita 2.47
* There are many other variables (commonly termed as 'luck') involved.

Do not try to explain something which you do not understand because of your biases of being a Christian and a Hindu-hater (as your religion demands. We are, after all, pagans and non-believers in Jesus' pedigree and mission). You hardly deserve the membership of this 'history' forum. Kindly remember that this is not a forum for evangelism, and that we have answers for all your observations.
What is this nonsense? The topic of this thread is about the caste system, a paramount feature of Hinduism, a religion. Also take heed to yourself first on your own words "Do not try to explain something which you do not understand because of your biases", before lecturing others.

This is what historian A.L. Basham condenses as the gist of Bhagavad Gita: "The stern ethics of the Gita was clearly intended as a defense of the old established order against the attacks of reformers and unbelievers. The virtue of the Brahmin is wisdom, of the warrior valor, of the Vaisya Industry, of the Sudra servitude; by fulfilling his class (caste) function to the best of his ability, with devotion to God and without personal ambition, a man will find salvation, whatever his class." - The wonder that was India (p.344). That is what I have stated. Bhagavad Gita justifies and glorifies the Caste system. Stop mischaracterizing Hinduism, and stop white washing it, to confuse people.
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,652
New Delhi, India
That Basham had certain views, it does not mean that every one must agree with him. That is a very foolish statement. Who is he, the All mighty God?
 
Apr 2019
406
India
The topic of this thread is about the caste system, a paramount feature of Hinduism, a religion.


This is what historian A.L. Basham condenses as the gist of Bhagavad Gita: "The stern ethics of the Gita was clearly intended as a defense of the old established order against the attacks of reformers and unbelievers. The virtue of the Brahmin is wisdom, of the warrior valor, of the Vaisya Industry, of the Sudra servitude; by fulfilling his class (caste) function to the best of his ability, with devotion to God and without personal ambition, a man will find salvation, whatever his class." - The wonder that was India (p.344).

Stop mischaracterizing Hinduism, and stop white washing it, to confuse people.
Varna system is not paramount feature of Hinduism but of Indian society. Hinduism can easily survive without it. Neither four fold social system was ever strictly followed in every part of country. Local customs prevailed like where I lived only three classes existed who were totally interdependent. Endogamy existed but every class had nearly equal land, wealth and most importantly people had and still have warmth for each-other.

Secondly Hinduism is not a 'religion' but Hinduism is coalescence of various sects(often having conflicting views) who have been originated in the land of India and who practice mutual tolerance. They believe in existence of multiple ways for betterment of both self as well as society as well as in their limitations.

Geeta asks people to find their true calling and act accordingly without ever dettering from their path.
 
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Oct 2015
1,133
India
What is this nonsense? The topic of this thread is about the caste system, a paramount feature of Hinduism, a religion. Also take heed to yourself first on your own words "Do not try to explain something which you do not understand because of your biases", before lecturing others.

This is what historian A.L. Basham condenses as the gist of Bhagavad Gita: "The stern ethics of the Gita was clearly intended as a defense of the old established order against the attacks of reformers and unbelievers. The virtue of the Brahmin is wisdom, of the warrior valor, of the Vaisya Industry, of the Sudra servitude; by fulfilling his class (caste) function to the best of his ability, with devotion to God and without personal ambition, a man will find salvation, whatever his class." - The wonder that was India (p.344). That is what I have stated. Bhagavad Gita justifies and glorifies the Caste system. Stop mischaracterizing Hinduism, and stop white washing it, to confuse people.
Hi Kandal,

Above is not the "the gist of Bhagavad Gita" as per AL Basham. Here are the things he writes in the same section which sum up his understanding of gist of Gita:

"The teaching of Bhagavad Gita can be summed up in the maxim "your business is with the deeds, and not with the results" (p344)
"It may be that the author of the Gita sought merely to convey this message, rather barren and uninspiring when thus condensed. But behind his teaching was the fervour of a great religious poet, which transcended the narrow framework of contemporary social and religious law." (p344)​
"Hence the inspiration of Bhagavad Gita has been widely felt in India from the time of Guptas to the present day, and it has been commended by Christians and Muslims, as well as by the HIndus, whose most influential scripture it is." (p344-345)
"No one so ungrudgingly admitted his debt to its doctrine of tireless and unselfish service as Mahatama Gandhi, who so strongly opposed the two features of ancient Indian society which the Gita itself was in part written to defend - militarism and the class system." (p-345)​
The quote from AL Basham selected does not convey the "the gist of Bhagavad Gita" as stated by you, but only one aspect of the then prevailing social system. Remember the 8th Commandment!

On a more serious note, any 2000 year old book will have a few issues and there is no holy book in the world which can not be faulted on some ground or the other. What is the compulsion to focus only on faults?

Regards

Rajeev
 
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