Critical Podium Dewanand
Caste by Elst Koenraad - best must read
Sacrificer Elst Koenraad
Sacrifice code wfor0423
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Caste by elst koenraad - best must read
Every sociaty has cast system . ---PLEASE READ ON ----The Caste System
The Caste system is the need of the society. Books and media are not accurate
when they depict the caste system 0f India.
Mankind is divided into people with different ideals, inclinations and
aptitude. Some are philosophers and like to preach, known as Brahmans;
some like to fight and protect as warriors, known as Kshatriyas; some
like to do business, known as Vaishyas; and some are contented to do manual
labour, known as Shudras.
This is the Universal instinct of human everywhere and that is what the
caste system is all about. It is not a repressive or forced system, merely
a division of labour by natural selection or inclination. It is good for
all of the people in every country of the world at all times.
The caste system is the ordered way for a civilized society to live in.
It is the classification of the work force. This system exists everywhere
in every country at all times under different names, as:
Warriors (army, police, navy, air force) Kshatriyas
Business people Vaishyas
Caste system, arranged marriages, vegetarianism, reincarnation, etc are
used by Christians and Muslims as a propaganda to subjugate Hindus and
to convert Hindus into Christianity and Islam. Christians and Muslims
perceive every Hindu positive things as negative things.
Caste by elst koenraad - best must read
By Prof. Koenraad Elst
In an inter-faith debate, most Hindus can easily be put on the defensive
with a single word-caste. Any anti-Hindu polemist can be counted on to
allege that "the typically Hindu caste system is the most cruel apartheid,
imposed by the barbaric white Aryan invaders on the gentle dark-skinned
natives." Here's a more balanced and historical account of this controversial
Merits of the Caste System
The caste system is often portrayed as the ultimate horror. Inborn inequality
is indeed unacceptable to us moderns, but this does not preclude that
the system has also had its merits.
Caste is perceived as an "exclusion-from," but first of all
it is a form of "belonging-to," a natural structure of solidarity.
For this reason, Christian and Muslim missionaries found it very difficult
to lure Hindus away from their communities. Sometimes castes were collectively
converted to Islam, and Pope Gregory XV (1621-23) decreed that the missionaries
could tolerate caste distinction among Christian converts; but by and
large, caste remained an effective hurdle to the destruction of Hinduism
through conversion. That is why the missionaries started attacking the
institution of caste and in particular the brahmin caste. This propaganda
has bloomed into a full-fledged anti-brahminism, the Indian equivalent
Every caste had a large measure of autonomy, with its own judiciary,
duties and privileges, and often its own temples. Inter-caste affairs
were settled at the village council by consensus; even the lowest caste
had veto power. This autonomy of intermediate levels of society is the
antithesis of the totalitarian society in which the individual stands
helpless before the all-powerful state. This decentralized structure of
civil society and of the Hindu religious commonwealth has been crucial
to the survival of Hinduism under Muslim rule. Whereas Buddhism was swept
away as soon as its monasteries were destroyed, Hinduism retreated into
its caste structure and weathered the storm.
Caste also provided a framework for integrating immigrant communities:
Jews, Zoroastrians and Syrian Christians. They were not only tolerated,
but assisted in efforts to preserve their distinctive traditions.
It is routinely claimed that caste is a uniquely Hindu institution. Yet,
counter examples are not hard to come by. In Europe and elsewhere, there
was (or still is) a hierarchical distinction between noblemen and commoners,
with nobility only marrying nobility. Many tribal societies punished the
breach of endogamy rules with death.
Coming to the Indian tribes, we find Christian missionaries claiming
that "tribals are not Hindus because they do not observe caste."
In reality, missionary literature itself is rife with testimonies of caste
practices among tribals. A spectacular example is what the missions call
"the Mistake:" the attempt, in 1891, to make tribal converts
in Chhotanagpur inter-dine with converts from other tribes. It was a disaster
for the mission. Most tribals renounced Christianity because they chose
to preserve the taboo on inter-dining. As strongly as the haughtiest brahmin,
they refused to mix what God hath separated.
Endogamy and exogamy are observed by tribal societies the world over.
The question is therefore not why Hindu society invented this system,
but how it could preserve these tribal identities even after outgrowing
the tribal stage of civilization. The answer lies largely in the expanding
Vedic culture's intrinsically respectful and conservative spirit, which
ensured that each tribe could preserve its customs and traditions, including
its defining custom of tribal endogamy.
Description and History
The Portuguese colonizers applied the term caste, "lineage, breed,"
to two different Hindu institutions: jati and varna. The effective unit
of the caste system is the jati, birth-unit, an endogamous group into
which you are born, and within which you marry. In principle, you can
only dine with fellow members, but the pressures of modern life have eroded
this rule. The several thousands of jatis are subdivided in exogamous
clans, gotra. This double division dates back to tribal society.
By contrast, varna is the typical functional division of an advanced
society-the Indus/Saraswati civilization, 3rd millennium, bce. The youngest
part of the Rg-Veda describes four classes: learned brahmins born from
Brahma's mouth, martial kshatriya-born from his arms; vaishya entrepreneurs
born from His hips and shudra workers born from His feet. Everyone is
a shudra by birth. Boys become dwija, twice-born, or member of one of
the three upper varnas upon receiving the sacred thread in the upanayana
The varna system expanded from the Saraswati-Yamuna area and got firmly
established in the whole of Aryavarta (Kashmir to Vidarbha, Sindh to Bihar).
It counted as a sign of superior culture setting the arya, civilized,
heartland apart from the surrounding mleccha, barbaric, lands. In Bengal
and the South, the system was reduced to a distinction between brahmins
and shudras. Varna is a ritual category and does not fully correspond
to effective social or economic status. Thus, half of the princely rulers
in British India were shudras and a few were brahmins, though it is the
kshatriya function par excellence. Many shudras are rich, many brahmins
The Mahabharata defines the varna qualities thus: "He in whom you
find truthfulness, generosity, absence of hatred, modesty, goodness and
self-restraint, is a brahmana. He who fulfills the duties of a knight,
studies the scriptures, concentrates on acquisition and distribution of
riches, is a kshatriya. He who loves cattle-breeding, agriculture and
money, is honest and well-versed in scripture, is a vaishya. He who eats
anything, practises any profession, ignores purity rules, and takes no
interest in scriptures and rules of life, is a shudra." The higher
the varna, the more rules of self-discipline are to be observed. Hence,
a jati could collectively improve its status by adopting more demanding
rules of conduct, e.g. vegetarianism.
A person's second name usually indicates his jati or gotra. Further,
one can use the following varna titles: Sharma (shelter, or joy) indicates
the brahmin, Varma (armour) the kshatriya, Gupta (protected) the vaishya
and Das (servant) the shudra. In a single family, one person may call
himself Gupta (varna), another Agrawal (jati), yet another Garg (gotra).
A monk, upon renouncing the world, sheds his name along with his caste
Below the caste hierarchy are the untouchables, or harijan (literally
"God's people"), dalits ("oppressed"), paraiah (one
such caste in South India), or scheduled castes. They make up about 16%
of the Indian population, as many as the upper castes combined.
Untouchability originates in the belief that evil spirits surround dead
and dying substances. People who work with corpses, body excretions or
animal skins had an aura of danger and impurity, so they were kept away
from mainstream society and from sacred learning and ritual. This often
took grotesque forms: thus, an untouchable had to announce his polluting
proximity with a rattle, like a leper.
Untouchability is unknown in the Vedas, and therefore repudiated by neo-Vedic
reformers like Dayanand Saraswati, Narayan Guru, Gandhiji and Savarkar.
In 1967, Dr. Ambedkar, a dalit by birth and fierce critic of social injustice
in Hinduism and Islam, led a mass conversion to Buddhism, partly on the
(unhistorical) assumption that Buddhism had been an anti-caste movement.
The 1950 constitution outlawed untouchability and sanctioned positive
discrimination programs for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Lately, the
Vishva Hindu Parishad has managed to get even the most traditionalist
religious leaders on the anti-untouchability platform, so that they invite
harijans to Vedic schools and train them as priests. In the villages,
however, pestering of dalits is still a regular phenomenon, occasioned
less by ritual purity issues than by land and labor disputes. However,
the dalits' increasing political clout is accelerating the elimination
In the Mahabharata, Yuddhishthira affirms that varna is defined by the
qualities of head and heart, not by one's birth. Krishna teaches that
varna is defined by one's activity (karma) and quality (guna). Till today,
it is an unfinished debate to what extent one's "quality" is
determined by heredity or by environmental influence. And so, while the
hereditary view has been predominant for long, the non-hereditary conception
of varna has always been around as well, as is clear from the practice
of varna conversion. The most famous example is the 17th-century freedom
fighter Shivaji, a shudra who was accorded kshatriya status to match his
military achievements. The geographical spread of Vedic tradition was
achieved through large-scale initiation of local elites into the varna
order. From 1875 onwards, the Arya Samaj has systematically administered
the "purification ritual" (shuddhi) to Muslim and Christian
converts and to low-caste Hindus, making the dwija.
Conversely, the present policy of positive discrimination has made upper-caste
people seek acceptance into the favored Scheduled Castes.
Veer Savarkar, the ideologue of Hindu nationalism, advocated intermarriage
to unify the Hindu nation even at the biological level. Most contemporary
Hindus, though now generally opposed to caste inequality, continue to
marry within their respective jati because they see no reason for their
Racial Theory of Caste
Nineteenth-century Westerners projected the colonial situation and the
newest race theories on the caste system: the upper castes were white
invaders lording it over the black natives. This outdated view is still
repeated ad-nauseam by anti-Hindu authors: now that "idolatry"
has lost its force as a term of abuse, "racism" is a welcome
innovation to demonize Hinduism. In reality, India is the region where
all skin color types met and mingled, and you will find many brahmins
as black as Nelson Mandela. Ancient "Aryan" heroes like Rama,
Krishna, Draupadi, Ravana (a brahmin) and a number of Vedic seers were
explicitly described as being dark-skinned.
But doesn't varna mean "skin color?" The effective meaning
of varna is "splendor, color," and hence "distinctive quality"
or "one segment in a spectrum." The four functional classes
constitute the "colors" in the spectrum of society. Symbolic
colors are allotted to the varna on the basis of the cosmological scheme
of "three qualities" (triguna): white is sattva (truthful),
the quality typifying the brahmin; red is rajas (energetic), for the kshatriya;
black is tamas (inert, solid), for the shudra; yellow is allotted to the
vaishya, who is defined by a mixture of qualities.
Finally, caste society has been the most stable society in history. Indian
communists used to sneer that "India has never even had a revolution."
Actually, that is no mean achievement.
Address: Professor Koenraad Elst, PO box 103, 2000 Leuven 3, Belgium.
Dr. Elst is a Belgian scholar who has extensively studied
the current socio-political situation in India. Keenly interested in Asian
philosophies and traditions from his early years, he has studied yoga,
aikido and other oriental disciplines. Between 1988 and 1993 he spent
much of his time in India doing research at the prestigious Banaras Hindu
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