The Indian Caste System

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Traditionally, the organization of the Indian social classes relies on the caste system, a system introduced some 3,000 years ago by Aryan invaders in India. This system divided the existing Indian society into a hierarchy according to professions and trades. Additionally, individuals inherit their parents' caste at birth (Ninian, 189). Parents pass down their caste and property to future generations, and marriages usually occur within castes. Due to supposed divine origins of the caste system, the castes are unchangeable, and the movement from one caste to another is impossible. The castes are classified from the highest to lowest in Indian society. These castes are, Brahmin, the priests; Kshatriya, warriors and nobility; Vaisya, farmers and …show more content…
Hinduism believes in a cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. In this cycle, after death, a soul is reborn into a new form. The caste system dictates the occupation one would have, the choice of spouse, and many other aspects of one's next life. If an action was committed related outside of an individual’s caste, exclusion from their respective caste is a potential consequence (Vaid, 406). Removal from a caste would bring shame to the ancestral history due to the face that work must be done within an individual’s caste. The individual would no longer be able to work in the original caste, but would have to find work in the new, lower caste. The presence of such rigid ranking is only validated through the idea of rebirth according to a person’s karma, the summation of individual’s deeds in current life and past lives (Rinker, 245). Many believe that after death, a person’s life receives a judgement by divine forces, which assign a high or low caste for rebirth. The actions in one's life reflect his future rebirth (Fernandes, 269). If one remains faithful and dutiful in this life, then in the next life, that person will receive a better life than currently. The caste system fits well with this belief. Lower caste people believe that if one lived a good life, a life within the higher ranked castes awaits him, and this is how the Indian Caste System remains …show more content…
The urbanizing of India's economy has made an impact in the caste system by bringing a new awareness of social mobility to Indians living in rural areas. Industrialization encouraged urbanization, as village inhabitants of both high and low castes move into the cities for better jobs. “In the urban areas, the rigid, age-old, caste-centered thinking gave way to a more liberal outlook, and encourage the mixing of castes without distinction” (Mayell n.pag.). This is best exemplified in trade unions and other associations that consist of cooperating members from all castes. Among crowds in urban public spaces and on public transportation, it is impossible to distinguish members of different castes, and purity and impurity rules have no significance (Waughray, 328). Restrictions on interactions with other castes have started to reduce and, at the same time, observance of other rules have started to decline. As new working opportunities arise in urban areas, the correlation of castes with job decreases. Urbanizing the economy of India certainly reduces and prevents the caste system discrimination within

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