South Asia Essay

3459 WordsFeb 12, 201514 Pages
South Asia Indian Caste System Background Belief the hierarchy comes from Vedas As part of scripture, unquestionable Vedic authority keeps it operating Key element is dharma Vedas depict the well-born elite: ksatriya Warrior families - Aryan ancestor Religious authority of parallel class: brahmin Third caste needed for non-warriors Farmers and merchants: vaisya Considered of Aryan descent Twice born (physical & ritual) Indigenous groups, mixed castes: fourth sudra - intermediate status Job was to furnish labor (servants) Rg Veda describes relative status Head - Brahmin (white) Arms - Ksatriya (red) Legs - Vaisya (yellow) Feet - Sudra (black) Each caste immutable and exclusive Sanskrit word is varna (color) in Vedas Thought to mean Aryan = white Instead colors are symbolic Reality of the System Movement was never impossible Varna was a way to assimilate new tribes or professions “Open-ended shelving” Systemized oppression, but way to increase loyalty Provided cohesion despite multiplicity Those irredeemably degraded by the nature of their work: outcastes Work duties (castes) associated with bureaucratic functions Specialization in trade & manufacturing caste professions led to guilds Asoka (Piyadassi) c 268-233 BCE Pali rediscovered in 1837 at Sanchi Temple Prakrit, a derivative of Sanskrit Popular during Buddha’s time Able to translate Asoka Brahmi Similar to language inscribed thru India Cliff faces, colossal cylindrical pillars 14 major rock, 8 minor, 7 pillars The Edicts Statements of policy, meant to be read aloud to the people Directives of a single sovereign Extraordinary humane sentiments Non-violence, human values, moral Messages reflect Buddhist

More about South Asia Essay

Open Document