posted on Jan, 14 2010 @ 03:37 PM
You are welcome.
The caste system has existed in different phases throughout the times. Originally it was meritocratic(merit based) then it became birth-based. Later,
Western people abused it to their own advantage with the "Aryan race" propoganda. Westerners, or basically white people exploited what is known as
the "Aryan invasion theory" which posits that the Indians were invaded in 1500BCE by white people(Aryan race) and they imposed the caste system on
the Indians which discriminated on the basis of skin colour, against darker skinned people. The white-skinned Brahmins were the highest caste.
However, due to breeding with the dark skinned people, the white Brahmins lost their "colour" The Indian Brahmins were therefore an impure white
race. Based on that pure whites saw themselves as a super-caste.
Of course the Aryan invasion theory was nothing more than racist propoganda typical of 19th century European academia and was used as a political tool
to justify colonial rule in India and also by social darwinianists to justify white racial supremacy and hence their birth-right to rule, exploit and
harm other "races". The truth is there was no white-invaders who invaded India in 1500BCE and the caste system was not a racist system.
The caste system discriminates on the basis of "varna" which means ones merit or quality and organizes society into complex divisions based on the
"varna" The four main types of varnas are: teachers, warriors, merchants and labourers. In the original caste system deciding the varna you would
belong to is done on the basis of education. The education system access your aptitude and then train you in one vocation which would be your vocation
for your entire life. If you had no education you would be a labourer caste by default. The other castes are called "twice born" because you needed
to become educated to be assigned to them. In the birth-based caste system, because education was no longer available to the masses due to changing
social circumstances, so the masses would gain their education from their family instead. So if you were born into a family of blacksmiths, you would
be educated as a blacksmith.
Each caste are assigned a set of duties and has certain entitlements and different rules regulating them. The highest caste being Brahmins, are the
only ones entitled to higher education and are exempt from paying any taxes, but they are not entitled to owning capital or earning a living. Whatever
they are given is donation from others or the state. As Brahmins are seen as the teachers and therefore advisors to society, the law is much more
harsh on them for commiting a crime than other castes. Modern equivalent: Academic class.
The warrior caste, which included government, are entitled to basic education, but are not entitled to owning capital. Their duties are to serve
civilians. The warriors duties are to protect civilians, the administrators/superintendents's duties are to supervise the correct functioning of the
various industries, the kings duties are to ensure the correct distribution of tax revenues and maintaining social order. Modern equivalent: Civil
The merchant caste are entitled to basic education, ownership of capital and the goods they produce, selling and trading. They employ the labourer
caste. A portion of their produce must be given to the state.
Modern equivalent: capitalist class.
The labourer caste are not entitled to any formal education and nor are they entitled to owning capital. They are entitled only to wages which they
exchange for their labour by working for the other castes. The punishment for commiting crimes for them are the most leniant of all castes. Modern
equivalent: working class.
The caste system was therefore a very efficient and rigid social system which maintained order in Hindu society. It is due to this that this system
has been able to endure over thousands of years and Hindu society has maintained its values and traditions. For this reason it was seen as a huge
threat by Western people and the biggest obstacle against taking control of India, so it became the subject of much derision and demonization.
I hope this helps answer your question and clears some confusions about the caste system.
[edit on 14-1-2010 by Indigo_Child]