Season 01 | Special episode 02

Varna Vyavastha

19 July 2020 / 8 mins 12 secs

Show summary

Topic: History of India - Ancient India.

In this episode of Namaskar India, we will talk about the so-called caste system and the divine theory associated with it. And why it made sense in historic times but not anymore.

The Aryans developed a hierarchical society that sorted people into social groups called varnas or castes. A person entered the varna of his or her family at birth and stayed there for life, marrying only within the varna, practicing only the professions open to the varna, and maintaining the level of ritual purity required by the varna.

There were four primary varnas:

The Brahmans - As the highest varna, the Brahmans had the roles of priests, philosophers, and scholars. They followed strict rules for perfect ritual purity and spent much of their lives studying and teaching religion.

The Kshatriyas - This was the ruling and warrior varna, made up of kings, generals, soldiers, and their families. The whole society counted on them for guidance and protection.

The Vaishyas - This was a practical varna composed of craftspeople, traders, merchants, and farmers. They had the important jobs of growing food and keeping the society's economy running smoothly.

The Shudras - They were the servants and laborers for the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas.

The Untouchables - The outcasts of society. People who had violated the rules of the varnas and become ritually unclean, along with their families. They were regulated to the lowest jobs, things that no one else wanted to do, like picking up dead bodies, leather work, and sanitation.

The castes are thought to have derived from a hymn found in the Vedas to the deity Purusha, who is believed to have been sacrificed by the other gods. The Brahmins, or priests, came from Purusha’s mouth; the Kshatriyas, or warrior rulers, came from Purusha’s arms; the Vaishyas, or commoners such as landowners and merchants, came from Purusha’s thighs; and the Shudras, or laborers and servants, came from Purusha’s feet.