The thought of being born into a life where your duties and life goals are already set for you is bizarre to most people, but in Hinduism, it is believed that it’s an essential part in one’s happiness. This is commonly known as the caste system.
In the Hindu caste system there are four varnas the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras, these varnas were heavily influenced by the Aryans. The beginning of the Hindu caste system dates back to 1200 BCE and is one of the world’s oldest forms of stratification. The Hindu caste system is a closed system of stratification, meaning the caste that you are born into chooses your social status (¨A brief history of India’s caste system”). Hinduism caste system was heavily influenced by the Aryans, they created very strict roles that society needed and would assign people to them under three divisions: The Kshatriyas, Brahmans, and the Vaishyas (Ramirez, Stearns, Wineburg, 2008, pg.97).
In Hinduism each caste is ranked as one of the four Varnas. The first out of the four was the Brahmins, which was primarily composed of priests and scholars. Ranked second are the Kshatriyas, including soldiers along with the political leaders, followed by Vaishyas whom for the most part are merchants. Peasants, servants, artisans, and laborers fall under the fourth varna, Shudras. Below these four varnas lie the untouchables. People in this category do the work that was considered unclean, these people are seen as outcasts and not worthy of a caste (Ramirez, Stearns, Wineburg, 2008, pg.
97). Jatis, or the smaller division of the varnas are characterized by a specific line of work per each sub-group. Once you are born into a Jati it cannot be changed. It was commonly thought that by breaking away from the caste that you were born into you would receive bad karma, which will result in a miserable life because you are going against what the fate in this life offers you ( “8b. The Caste System).
Hindu religious beliefs on the creation of the caste system are that it was established by an important Hindu book called Manusmriti which is the book of Hindu law. The Manusmriti “acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society”(bbc news). It was said that each varna was made from a body part of Brahman; Brahmin’s the scholars and priests from his head, Kshatriyas the rulers and warriors from his arms, Vaishyas the merchants from his thighs, and Shudras from his feet since they do the labor work. The caste system was created to control the local people and to keep order in society. It ensured that there will always be priests, scholars, servants, and laborers (Jay Elwes, Alexander Brown).It’s believed that the caste system was put in place in India by the Aryans 1500 BC.
The first written records of the factors that make up the caste system were found in this period. The Aryans were categorized in social division from highest to lowest ranking, it went Rajayana, Brahmans, and the Vaishyas; these divisions later on formed the Hindu varnas. To secure their ranking the Aryans created strict rules to keep the castes distinctly separated so much so that they didn’t even want intermarriage between castes, this forced people to become part of a caste (Jayaram V).The most accepted theory on the Indian caste system is that the caste system was put in place by the Aryans around 1500 BC, Aryan divisions were of Rajayanas the warriors, Brahmans the priests, and the Vaishyas who were farmers and craftspeople. The present-day Hindu castes are divided by four varnas; Brahmins the priests and scholars, Kshatriyas the soldiers and political leaders, Vaishyas the merchants and lastly Shudras the peasants, servants, artisans, and laborers, which come with responsibilities and goals for happiness.