Caste System in India - History & Annihilation

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
Hindus in Bali only marry within their born castes, though there are exceptions today. So there is social discrimination, but overall it is not as bad as in India from what I know. They don't have outcastes (dalits).
A Brahmin could take any profession and would still be a Brahmin in Hinduism. This is an exception. Not surprising since they wrote 'the book'. So your statement is incorrect.
What is wrong if some people marry in their own community? Dalits are not out-castes. They are Shudras, very much a part of society. The out-castes were 'chandalas', who were excommunicated from the society for a severe wrong. Perhaps India also will have/has a society like Bali, not bad as it may be in some regions.
That has been clarified in many Hindu scriptures. A person born in a brahmin family is not a brahmin unless he/she has the attributes expected of a brahmin. Just the birth does not make one brahmin.

"Janmana jayate shudrah, samskarad dvija ucyate l vedapathi bhaved viprah, Brahma janati brahmanah ll"
(Every one is born a Shudra, by observing samskaras one becomes a Dvija (twice born); by studying the Vedas one becomes a Vipra, and one who knows Brahman is a Brahmana.)
Satyakama Jabali became a sage and VedaVyasa compiled the Vedas.
 
Apr 2019
410
India
What is wrong if some people marry in their own community? Dalits are not out-castes. They are Shudras, very much a part of society. The out-castes were 'chandalas', who were excommunicated from the society for a severe wrong. Perhaps India also will have/has a society like Bali, not bad as it may be in some regions.
'Chandalas' were the only untouchables of ancient India. Vedas tried to integrate them in the society. But what power did rishis have in front of society?
Their community was very small who dealt with disposal of corpse and they were dog-eaters. I think this can be the reason why they were shunned by the city dwellers. Ancient Indian were hygiene-nuts.
But still nobody was torturing them, starving them, denying them justice or depriving them from their property or progeny.
They were allowed to follow their own culture without interference.

I came across a few references of chandals in literature and it looks like they used to mingle with city dwellers too from time to time.

Like in 7th century novel Kadambari a chandal women(though considered unmarriageable) not just enters city but also court of king to present him a magical parrot. Her entry in court was just as normal as would have been in case of an 'upper caste' woman. Nobody 'cleanse' the court after she leaves. So it looks like chandals were untouchable only in matter of marriage or food.

In drama Mrchhakatika two chandal(witty and funny) men carries Charudatta(a brahmin) for execution. Nobody had a problem with their touch. Neither the city people shunned their sight as in later days.
Neither I think chandals were shunned from ascetic religious orders. Because we know the ascetic orders don't follow caste system and lowest born person can become a respectable sadhu.


Outcastes belonged to each and every caste. Any criminal who was exiled from the society was considered outcaste. Traditionay outcastes could be assimilated in the society after a fixed time-period but in the hodgepodge of continuous foreign invasions whole of the families/communities were thrown out of society if there was suspicion of treachary/change of religion/change of food habits etc.
 
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Apr 2019
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But to get the correct understanding of the text one has to step back and look at it in a rational and objective manner.


"One's own duty though devoid of merit is preferable to the duty of another, well perf
Not only Geeta but every Hindu texts asks people to look at every thing(including themselves) in objective and rational manner. This is what sets Dharmic religions apart from Abrahmic religions where one is forced to be a believer not an independent seeker.
Not only this Hindu texts also ask to dicard every teaching which is impractical.
Geeta asks people to choose their varna according to their inclinations. What is wrong in this teaching? What is wrong with being a member of lower varna?
 
Apr 2019
410
India
Dronacharya refuses to teach archery to Eklavya.

Rajeev
Few days ago I tried to dispel two myths from this post. Instead of going through the version of popular media I will try to interperate Drona-Eklavya episode by my own understanding of the text.

Let's go thosands of years back:
First of all Nishads the hunter-gatherers used to be outside of traditional 'varna' system(due to lack of following proper rites). But they were neither weak(like media portrays them) nor untouchables. Neither they were obliged to follow Vedic-Aryan mores hence they gained distrust of general public. Though Vedas tried to embrace them like they tried to do with each and every community.
But it looks like even after owning kingdoms Nishads did not bother to go through 'kshatriya' rites(where a mythical or Vedic lineage would be conferred on them) to be part of traditional Aryan society in which Aryan customs were followed(atleast outwardly).
If you read Mahabhrata non-Aryan tribes like Rakshashas, Nagas etc even did not follow code of conduct of noble kshatriyas. They abducted, killed at dark, killed armless weaklings etc. So considering time-place-circumstances axis we should make a pass at Drona's reluctance to teach Eklavya.

Coming back to Eklavya. We also need to study his background.
Eklavya was not a poor downtrodden boy as he is portrayed in the media.
He was son of a Nishad king (in present Rajasthan) who was close ally of Jarasandh. Jarasandh as you know was the emperor of India at the time and was ruthless. Even though there was peace between Hastinspur and Magadha still we have to remember that it was Pandu who killed Jarasandh's father during his dig-vijaya campaign.
So it was bad idea to let an enemy's son inside secret training camp of the princes. Moreover do you think the Hastinapur elders would let Drona teach him?
Drona was not teaching arts or trade but he was conferring lethal weapons on the worthy princes. Not just worthy in skill but also in conduct. That's why only Arjun got the celestial weapons.
Should we again blame the whole episode on evilness of yet another Brahmin?
What was personal gain of Drona except approval of his employees.
What about Eklavya's conduct?
Was he an innocent little boy?
We also hear about the episode of Arjuna's jealousy which deprived poor more skilled Eklavya of his finger.
But we forgot Arjuna was a boy under ten and Ekl was a teenager during this episode. It is normal for kids at his age to be too competitive. Arjuna grew up in a hostile environment so it was natural for the little boy to feel upset when he couldn't live upto best. In later life arjun not just turns out to be kind but also very resonsible.
But how does Ekl turns out to be?
Answer lies in the fact he was called a 'dushta' by Krishna and was also killed by him during Rukmini haran.
Drona turned Ekl's request down citing he is not a kshatriya. He lets him go.
But he continues to practice declaring Drona was his guru.
How would this incident affect Drona's reputation?
Ekl was most likely spying on them. He even calms his anger by shooting arrows inside mouth of the dog. Which left the onnlookers aghast at the cruelty.
Drona was in tricky situation, the teenager boy, the son of the enemy of his employees was claiming to be his deciple.
So he found an ingenious solution. He asked him to offer him his right thumb as his gurudakshina.
Which Ekl obliged without coercion without hesitation. This act of Ekl made him immortal. So even though Vyasa also described Drona's act cruel, this incident helped Ekl get fame. Because there was no way he was going to be better archer than Arjuna (with both of his thumbs intact).
Moreover Vyasa did not have the habit of dwelling on the intenal monologues of the characters. This leaves a lot of things to readers imagination.
Ekl had the choice of rejecting Drona's wish but he did not.
Was it because he was innocent? or because he felt the obligation? Or because he was greedy of the fame which will come with this act?
After reading Mahabharat I realized that the third option, the thirst of fame, was the main motivator behind most of characters' superficial acts of self-secrifice in the epic(cue Bheeshma, Karna, Gandhari etc). So I would not be surprised if same was the case with Ekl.
That was different time. Different standards need to apply.
 
Jun 2017
537
usa
Few days ago I tried to dispel two myths from this post. Instead of going through the version of popular media I will try to interperate Drona-Eklavya episode by my own understanding of the text.

Let's go thosands of years back:
First of all Nishads the hunter-gatherers used to be outside of traditional 'varna' system(due to lack of following proper rites). But they were neither weak(like media portrays them) nor untouchables. Neither they were obliged to follow Vedic-Aryan mores hence they gained distrust of general public. Though Vedas tried to embrace them like they tried to do with each and every community.
But it looks like even after owning kingdoms Nishads did not bother to go through 'kshatriya' rites(where a mythical or Vedic lineage would be conferred on them) to be part of traditional Aryan society in which Aryan customs were followed(atleast outwardly).
If you read Mahabhrata non-Aryan tribes like Rakshashas, Nagas etc even did not follow code of conduct of noble kshatriyas. They abducted, killed at dark, killed armless weaklings etc. So considering time-place-circumstances axis we should make a pass at Drona's reluctance to teach Eklavya.

Coming back to Eklavya. We also need to study his background.
Eklavya was not a poor downtrodden boy as he is portrayed in the media.
He was son of a Nishad king (in present Rajasthan) who was close ally of Jarasandh. Jarasandh as you know was the emperor of India at the time and was ruthless. Even though there was peace between Hastinspur and Magadha still we have to remember that it was Pandu who killed Jarasandh's father during his dig-vijaya campaign.
So it was bad idea to let an enemy's son inside secret training camp of the princes. Moreover do you think the Hastinapur elders would let Drona teach him?
Drona was not teaching arts or trade but he was conferring lethal weapons on the worthy princes. Not just worthy in skill but also in conduct. That's why only Arjun got the celestial weapons.
Should we again blame the whole episode on evilness of yet another Brahmin?
What was personal gain of Drona except approval of his employees.
What about Eklavya's conduct?
Was he an innocent little boy?
We also hear about the episode of Arjuna's jealousy which deprived poor more skilled Eklavya of his finger.
But we forgot Arjuna was a boy under ten and Ekl was a teenager during this episode. It is normal for kids at his age to be too competitive. Arjuna grew up in a hostile environment so it was natural for the little boy to feel upset when he couldn't live upto best. In later life arjun not just turns out to be kind but also very resonsible.
But how does Ekl turns out to be?
Answer lies in the fact he was called a 'dushta' by Krishna and was also killed by him during Rukmini haran.
Drona turned Ekl's request down citing he is not a kshatriya. He lets him go.
But he continues to practice declaring Drona was his guru.
How would this incident affect Drona's reputation?
Ekl was most likely spying on them. He even calms his anger by shooting arrows inside mouth of the dog. Which left the onnlookers aghast at the cruelty.
Drona was in tricky situation, the teenager boy, the son of the enemy of his employees was claiming to be his deciple.
So he found an ingenious solution. He asked him to offer him his right thumb as his gurudakshina.
Which Ekl obliged without coercion without hesitation. This act of Ekl made him immortal. So even though Vyasa also described Drona's act cruel, this incident helped Ekl get fame. Because there was no way he was going to be better archer than Arjuna (with both of his thumbs intact).
Moreover Vyasa did not have the habit of dwelling on the intenal monologues of the characters. This leaves a lot of things to readers imagination.
Ekl had the choice of rejecting Drona's wish but he did not.
Was it because he was innocent? or because he felt the obligation? Or because he was greedy of the fame which will come with this act?
After reading Mahabharat I realized that the third option, the thirst of fame, was the main motivator behind most of characters' superficial acts of self-secrifice in the epic(cue Bheeshma, Karna, Gandhari etc). So I would not be surprised if same was the case with Ekl.
That was different time. Different standards need to apply.
A very different POV though I disagree.
To chop one's thumb off and become handicapped for life for fame? That is a tough sell.
The fact is, that Dronacharya's action against Eklavya was abhorent.
How does one conclude that there was no way Eklavya was going to be a better archer than Arjun? He did not get the chance to prove that.
He was already better than Arjun without any formal teaching.
You say he was probably spying and was the son of Dronacharya's enemy. Fine, but why would he so willingly oblige Drona's cruel request?
I think you are trying to justify something that has no justification.
I know that Mahabharat is open to a lot of interpretation and speculation but nothing can make Drona and to a certain extent Arjun look good in this incident.
Dronacharya was so insecure about Arjun's abilities that he had to tell eklavya to cut his thumb off or was he insecure and ashamed about his own teaching abilities? After all, it is pretty sad that a forest dweller with limited resources was a better archer than a prince who had all the great teachers teaching him and was supposed to be the best archer.

And let us not try to victimise Brahmins here. What was bad and immoral does not change whether it is a Brahmin doing it or someone else.
Drona's action should have been to arrest Eklavya and hand him over to the right authorities for whatever punishment was deemed fit. Instead, he chose to handicap a young man in his prime.
The very fact that Vyasa writes this in the story is an indication that Drona's action was not according to Dharma.
 
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Jun 2017
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Not only Geeta but every Hindu texts asks people to look at every thing(including themselves) in objective and rational manner. This is what sets Dharmic religions apart from Abrahmic religions where one is forced to be a believer not an independent seeker.
Not only this Hindu texts also ask to dicard every teaching which is impractical.
Geeta asks people to choose their varna according to their inclinations. What is wrong in this teaching? What is wrong with being a member of lower varna?
There is nothing wrong except the fact that we have this "higher" varna and "lower" varna.
It should just be "different" varna. After all, all varnas need each other to survive and thrive.
There needs to be mutual respect.
That, I think is the crux of the problem.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,781
USA
Not only Geeta but every Hindu texts asks people to look at every thing(including themselves) in objective and rational manner. This is what sets Dharmic religions apart from Abrahmic religions where one is forced to be a believer not an independent seeker.
Not only this Hindu texts also ask to dicard every teaching which is impractical.
Geeta asks people to choose their varna according to their inclinations. What is wrong in this teaching? What is wrong with being a member of lower varna?
This is polar opposite to what Gita says, and what it was written for. Prince Arjuna's inclination was not to fight the battle. Lord Krishna's preaching in Gita was to convince him to fight because he was born into the warrior caste, and that it was the sacred duty of such a born person (dharma), and that he must perform that duty no matter what. One expects certain spinning of the message when it comes to the sensitive topic of Hindu caste system, but spinning it to mean exactly the opposite of what a Hindu text says is totally baseless.

If "Not only Geeta but every Hindu texts asks people to look at every thing(including themselves) in objective and rational manner", there wouldn't be a Hindu caste system, and Hindus wouldn't be having a hard time eliminating it; which is the subject of this thread. If nothing is wrong with being a low caste (varna) what is the purpose of this thread?
 
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