Origins of Varna System Essay

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| Origins of Varna System | Legal History Final Essay- | INTRODUCTION Varna system illustrates the spirit of comprehensive synthesis characteristic of the ancient Indian mind with its faith in the collaboration of races and the co-operation of cultures. The characteristic of Indian society that strikes one as distinctive of it is what is termed as varna dharma or caste. Paradoxical as it may seem, the system of varna was the outcome of tolerance and trust. Though it may now have degenerated into an instrument of oppression and intolerance and it tends to perpetuate inequality and develop the spirit of exclusiveness, these unfortunate effects were not the central motives of the varna system. The system of varna insisted that the law of social life should not be cold and cruel competition, but harmony and co-operation. Society should not be a field of rivalry among individuals. The varnas were not allowed to compete with one another. Varna divisions were based on individual temperament, which were not immutable. Originally varnas were assigned to people based on their aptitude and qualities but in later periods they were assigned based on birth. However, there were a number of exceptions in the entire period which shows the flexibility of the system. There were four varnas: brahmin, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. The basic idea was division of labor in the society. * Brahmin was defined as brahman nayati iti brahmin. People who preached spiritual teachings to the society and lived spiritual lives were called brahmins. * Ksatriya is defined as kseeyate traayate iti ksatriya. These were the people who protected the society against external attacks and maintained internal order. * Vaisya is defined as visati iti vaisya. Businessmen, traders and farmers fall under this category. * Sudras were the people engaged in services. Carpenters,
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