Comments from Sunila Muzawar & Santosh Helekar at foot of this post
Human migration into India - new genetics data - Dr. Santosh Helekar (jan 11, 04)
The Caste System of
The caste system of
The word 'caste' is the English language translation of the
Portuguese word 'casta' which literally
means 'breed or lineage'. When the Portuguese arrived in
In order to have a better picture of the 'casta' or the caste system of India, it is important to review the events occurring in the northwest corner of the Indian subcontinent about 3000 years prior to the arrival in India of the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama.
The original inhabitants of
In the northwest corner of the
Indian subcontinent, in what today is Sind-Pakistan
Around 1500 BC, there was another development occurring several
hundred thousand miles west and north-west of the
The Sanskrit speaking people, the Aryans traveled towards the
The origins of the caste delineation are at THIS point in
history, when the fair skinned Aryans finally defeat the darker skinned
Dravidians and other non Aryans. The word used to describe this
classification is '
The original classification was as follows:
- This was the highest 'caste' to which all the tribal chiefs and warriors
The Aryans were quite contemptuous of the darker, non Sanskrit speaking Dravidians who worshipped different gods. They considered them as 'pannis' ( cattle thieves ) and 'dasas' ( slaves ). They formed the fourth 'caste' or the Shudra. Aryans who were mixed with Dasas also fell into the Shudra caste. The tribals were to be the Untouchables.
With time however, a few re-alignments took place. The most
important being the move made by the Brahmins to displace the Kshatriyas from the top spot. The Kshatriyas
or the warriors were busy either fighting or getting killed. There was no
time or perhaps inclination to learn. This was quite convenient for the
Brahmins who did not have to fight or get killed. They became powerhouses of
knowledge, especially in the fields of medicine and astrology. With
extraordinary skill, the Brahmins organized their superior position in the '
One example of the Brahmin skill is the manner in which they organized the accordance of 'solar and lunar lineage' for the strong and powerful Rajputs who were actually the invading Huns!. It was a case of 'please the powerful in order to stay in a powerful position. Buddhist literature claims that the Brahmins used the Rajputs to destroy the Buddhists who had shown their dissent to the Brahmanic authority from around the 8th century BC. This explains why Buddhism which was almost the national religion of the subcontinent has comparatively little to show in the form of temples and following.
Women had a special place in this ancient subcontinental society........in the background!. They were denied the opportunity to learn Sanskrit and had to be satisfied with the dialect Prakrit. Sanskrit was the domain of the Brahmin men. The women were hence relegated to subservient positions. They were there, as it were, to cook, clean, sing, dance and for the sexual pleasure of the men folk until it was time to jump into the funeral pyre in order to become a 'sati'. In this regard, the Kamasutra texts make interesting reading.
Much has changed in
The caste discrimination has been officially outlawed. The caste system itself is slowly beginning to dismantle. Education is taking care of that albeit at snail pace. People of all religions and all castes live and work side by side often oblivious and without regard for the other person’s religious beliefs or caste. There are pockets of religious bigotry and intolerance but they are almost always politically driven. And while they are painful and get widespread press attention, they are an aberration from the present norm of Indian life.
The central government in
The ugly head of 'caste' rears itself ever so often at the time of marriage. This will continue not only in the system of arranged marriages but also in the non-arranged ones.
A curious oxymoron is the presence and practice of the caste system among the Roman Catholics of Goa and Mangalore. For centuries after conversion to Catholicism, caste discrimination was practiced even within the precincts of the Church !. This is slowly dissipating.
The bias against women remains but to a lesser extent than hitherto. Women are now occupying their rightful place as 'equals' in industry, in society and in many homes. But much work needs to be done in this area. The situations which subjugate individuals because of poverty, lack of education and lack of employment opportunities remain as the major barriers.
PS: I owe my information on the above subject to a long list of sources. In particular, I wish to acknowledge the help, advice, criticism from and reference to the work and writings of the following :
Alfredo de Mello, Romila Thapar, Dr. Teotonio de Souza, Percival Spear, Vivek Menezes, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Dr. K. Jamanadas, Eddie Fernandes, Ben Antao, Ashok Chowgule, Edgar Martins, Paolo Colaço Dias and Francisco Alves.
Originally scripted January 26, 1998
The rigidity came
about when the kings, merchants, scholars began to secure themselves against
competition by disallowing the professional changes between father and son.
If caste is a
slavery tool, religion is fast becoming one or in many cases has already become one. Now
since many on this forum are very religious, it means they are slaves with
the priests being their masters.
evidence completely rules out the above contention that "a person could
change his/her profession (caste) without a problem".
The case appears to be pretty strong that the caste system was the earliest form of skin color-based racist apartheid system.
Human migration into India - new
genetics data -Dr. Santosh Helekar (Jan 11, 04)
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