Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Varna - The Caste System


वर्ण

According to the ancient texts men are classified into four classes or Varnas - Brahmanas (scholars/priests), Kshatriyas (kings/warriors), Vaishyas (artisans/merchants) and Shudras (peasants/workers). Generally, it is permitted that a higher caste man marry a lower caste woman, with the children of that marriage attaining the caste of the father. The marriage of a higher caste man with a lower caste woman was deprecated, with the children of that marriage being outside the proper caste system, and having a lower status in society. Specifically, the children born of the union of a Brahmana woman with a Kshatriya man were known as Sutas.

In addition to the four castes and the mixture of these castes, in latter days, people engaged in certain debased callings (such as those who tan animal hides), were considered totally out of the caste system, and even regarded as untouchable. They would be frequently referred to us Chandalas, although this appellation is also applied to those who have committed grievous sins.

According to the Purusha Sukta hymn in the Rig Veda, the Brahmanas sprang from the face of the primordial Purusha, the Kshatriyas sprang from his arms, the Vaishyas came from his thighs and the Shudras originated from his feet.

The classification is according to one's profession but in later days it became fixed at birth and very rigid.


Last Modified At: Sat Mar 26 22:57:13 2005