Caste System

I

 

The Lord said, If you imagine the society to be a human body, than the Brahmins are the head, the khastriyas are the hands, the viashyas are the stomach, and the shudras are the feet of the Lord.

Some people have forgotten that as Hindus, we worship the feet of the Lord.  To treat the feet of the Lord as un-touchable, is an insult to the very deity we worship.  To relegate the "feet" of the Lord to some forgotten corner of our lives is a belphmous act !  Even if we see this as a socio-economic model, and want the society to progress, it must walk with its feet, not scrape along on its rear !  We have tried to cut off our own feet and want India / Hindus to progress, how is that possible ? 

Perfect human body needs its head, torso, arms and legs to work in concert to progress.  The head has to "think", arms have to be "active", torso has to "blood and nutrition" to the rest of the body and the legs have to "carry" the body.  One without the other can't work.  All four are needed for a healthy body.

However, during the last few decades, the "progessive" element of our thinkers and politicians have decided to reverse the situation and relegate the rest of the body to a secondary position and promote the "feet" to be over and above every other part of the social body !  How can that work ?  Once again, the society cannot progress with its head in the dust and feet dangeling above ! 

The society must be properly organised and each and everyone must respect the others in the society.  If the feet decide to strike, the body cannot go forward.  If the hands stop working, the rest of the body cannot defend its self even from a bite of a mosquito !  Nor can such a body produce anything without the use of its hands.  The stomach, if it decides not to work, will cause great illness and the body will become weak.  Similarly, if the head decides not to work, the rest of the body will impossible to do its functions properly and the body will roam aimlessly ! 

It is imperative that the body works in a proper manner and each and every part of the body works in full co-operation and union with each other.  None is mightier than the other.  None can survive without the other.

Let us not fight.  Let us work together.  Let us understand and respect the work done by each other.

 

Caste has been used time and again by all other religions as a stick to beat up Hinduism with.  They have often gained converts, especially from the lower rungs of the caste ladder, by promising their new members special rights and priviledges if they convert.  Often, this mirage has elluded them and the converts are in no better position than before.  Even now, Christians in Kerala, who converted soon after Christ's demise, still practise strict segragation, with seperate churches for the upper and lower caste converts.  Even the newly converted, often financed by the evengelical zelots from USA, maintain this caste barrier in order to gain all the government subsidies reserved for the OBCs.

Caste system is often confused with the class system and hence the westeners often attibute the worst excesses of the class system to the caste system.   Class system is based on money and hence poverty is often associated with low class.  Westeners, comparing the two systems, inadvertently conclude that the low caste members must be poor like their low class citizens back home.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Caste system is based on purity. Purity of geneology, purity of mind, purity of income, purity of action, purity of diet, purity of the body.  The brahmins are at the top of the scale not because of their financial standing, but because they insist on leading a highly moral life above a highly "profitable" one.   They are often poor, as generation after generation, they have shunned wealth over "vidya" - knowledge.  They kept to a strict vegitarian diet, lived a simple life, with minimum requirments.  They bathed three times a day, studied constantly and taught all sincere seekers of the divine.  Their pursuit of the scriptures was without a thought for financial reward. 

The warrior caste considered valour and chivalery to be of parmount importance in their lives.  Over the centuries, they have maintained strong fighting genes in their families and have done all they can to protect the weak and helpless in the society.  As they were required to fight, physical strength was more important than purity of mind, so they were permitted to eat meat and drank wine.

The merchant caste have found ways to keep the Indian subcontinent wealthy, despite all the ravages of foreign conquests, religious repressions and natural disasters.  Till the British Raj depleted its resources, India was one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  Indeed, the fact that Europeans discovered the "world" while searching for India, is proof enough of India's allure.  Much of this was thanks to the integraty and ingenuity of the merchant class, who were traders, manufacturers, farmers and skilled artisens who created the cornecopia of items India could trade with the world for. 

Service industry was run by members of the lower castes.  Their practical skills and know-how were passes on from father to son for generations.  They also had guilds to train others who might want to learn but have no family members to teach them.  Guilds also kept a close watch on quality and prices.  India's service industry has always been known for its professionalism and paying attention of the smallest (shudra) detail.  Their service was valued long before the outsource-outfits came to India for its calls centre and coders. 

 

The lower castes  

Muslims converted a large number of skilled and unskilled labourers with lure of better life in a casteless society.  Even now, the painters, dyers, weavers etc eke out a poor living, doing eaxctly what their ancesters did a thousand years ago, and still living in the same segregated society, whereby muslims from better off backgrounds hardly ever mix with them.

Indeed, poverty and lack of progress has often been cited as a reason for conversion.  Neither of which is the fault of the caste system.  Indeed, wealth has nothing to do with the caste system.  Indeed, the Brahmins were often the poorest of the poor in the social system, often making a living by begging alms from other members of the society.  For them, being intelletual was more important than being wealthy.  The warrior caste was often employed by the wealthy to look after them and the merchant caste, though sometimes wealthy, was forever in danger of having its hard earned wealth confiscated by greedy kings or looted by bandits.  The backward caste members could become wealthy by their trade and there was no bar to this at any point in time.  Progress in all other fields was equally based on merit rather than anything else.

Examples of famous dalits abound.  Indeed, the very person who organised the Vedic hymns into seperate "books" was Veda Vyasa, born of a fisherwoman.  The epic Ramayana was written by Rishi Valmiki, a bandit and an OBC by birth.  They have made sufficient progress in the political world too, the Maurya Emperors of India were OBCs whose ancestors used to care for peacocks.  Various other low caste kings have ruled in various parts of India throughout history, including Shalivahan, Hoysalla and several Maratha kings of recent royals, including the Gayakvads of Baroda.  In matters of wealth, caste was never a barrier and several OBCs have been known to contribute lavishly on the constrution of Buddhist stupas and Jain vihars.   The famous 19th century saint, HH RamaKrishna Paramhansa was actually working as a priest in a vast temple complex wholly construted and paid for by the low cast patron, (Rani) Rasmani.  Dr Ambedkar was an OBC and was the author of independent India's constitution.  There were other higher caste, eminent lawyers, in the independent movement, but they all agreed that Dr Ambedkar should take charge of the constitution.  Indians, high caste Indians, have always been fair despite being portrayed otherwise.

What is required is equality of oppertunity, not reservations.

 

 

Bhagwat    Bhagwat_s@Yahoo.com

 

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