Impact of Caste in India Essay

1334 WordsFeb 2, 20146 Pages
The Institution of Caste was a prominent feature of India’s social structure during the Vedic Period. It is defined as a rigid social hierarchy that represented the economic status of an individual within society. The caste system was one of the main reasons that led to the segregation, injustice and inequality of several social groups within India. It also had an influential impact on the practice of various religions including Hinduism and Sikhism. Furthermore, the institution of caste has influenced the structure and foundation of Hinduism and Sikhism and is the core reason for the differences between both religions; since Sikhism rejected the caste system while orthodox Hinduism embraces it. This is significant because it illustrates the positive shift in the social and political order of India since heterodox religions; such as Sikhism, embraces equality and rejects caste. The Vedic period was one of the earliest social orders in India that established the first form of social hierarchy. There were specifically three classes known as the Brahmanas, ksatriyas and the vaisyas. The Brahmanas were individuals who had a high social status within society whose functions consisted of priestly teachings to the public. On the other hand, the Ksatriyas were responsible for protecting the tribe while the Vaisyas were in charge of performing domestic chores. Later on, a fourth class emerged known as the Shudras who were identified as a group of workers with the lowest social status. In result, the division of these classes later established the Hindu system of caste which represented individuals in accordance to the inherited occupation they held in society. In addition, the Rg Veda was a sacred text that was composed during this period and consisted of an important myth that illustrated the origins of the caste system. The myth was known as “Purusa’s body parts.” It

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