The Caste System: Development
During the first millennium B.C.E. in South Asia, the caste system was developed as a way to divide the people into different social classes. The way the system was integrated had the Brahmins (Priests and Teachers) at the highest level followed by the Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaisyas (farmers, merchants, and artisans), and Sudras (laborers). According to “The Caste System: Effects on Poverty in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka”, the caste system was developed to initially “promote harmonious workings of society”; However, unfortunately, the caste system led to much corruption in South Asia, thus leading the people to promote discrimination and prejudice against one another rather than respect the status of each individual.
The Caste System: Consequences
While parts of the caste system remain in modern day India, most of the social organization has vanished. While the people thought dividing the people into different social classes would be beneficial to the society (and in some cases, it was), there were many consequences brought along with the caste system. One of the consequences was that it hindered national unity, as previously mentioned. The people started becoming more aware of their status, which in terms of those of higher status, they felt above the people of lower status which caused them to treat them poorly. Of people with lower status, women dealt with the worst of it. Women were denied the right to higher education and were seen as objects that could bore children. This idea led to many of the women being sexually harassed, especially by men with a higher status within the caste system. Another consequence of the caste system was a lack of decent education. Due to the fact that the teachers were of higher status, sometimes they only paid attention to their students who were of a similar type of status, thus failing to pay attention to the students that came from a lower status. This was one of the ideas of untouchability. Untouchability basically were the lowest status in the caste system. They suffered from various political, social, religious, and economic disabilities. They were denied the right to be educated, had to dwell in unclean places, and could not even use most public facilities.
Brahmanism: Beliefs and Faith
Brahmanism originated from the Vedic era which thrived from 1500 BCE to 500 BCE. It is said to be the predecessor of Hinduism. Brahmanism focused on the metaphysics of life or questioned what was real, the validity of time, and basically questioned the origin of all existence. Another important concept in Brahmanism is the Atman. The Atman (the soul) is considered “the source of all vitality among humans” according to the Ancient History of Encyclopedia. The soul is identified as nearly identical to the Supreme Soul, which permeates everything, specifically to the belief of Brahmanism. With the beliefs of Brahmanism focusing on the ideals of existence, it allowed people to agree with the development of the caste system as a good idea. The people then believed that the social class they were given was made for them and ultimately, the key to their existence. They started to believe that no matter how hard they tried, they would not be able to change their status – it was their destiny and thus, they must follow as such. Altogether, Brahmanism gave people the idea that the Gods had chosen their destiny specifically for them and in order to receive blessings from the Gods, they must act in a way that was sacrificial and grateful to them.
"Asia/Philosophy 105." Brahmanism. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://www.gossamerstrands.com/Asia105/lecture1.htm>.
"Brahmanism." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://www.ancient.eu/Brahmanism/>.
Global Majority E-Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2010), Pp. 97-106. The Caste System: Effects on Poverty in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.american.edu/cas/economics/ejournal/upload/Global_Majority_e_Journal_1-2_Rao.pdf>.