Caste System and its effects

Discussion in 'Social & Current Events' started by Flintlock, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. Flintlock

    Flintlock ELITE MEMBER

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    I have been rather harsh towards the Islamic rulers :P

    Let me just say, to balance things out, that the caste system played an equally important, if not greater role, in ensuring that Hindu society remained ignorant and weak.

    Infact its the rigid caste system itself that brought innovation and science to a grinding halt in ancient India, thus turning it into an inward-looking, ignorant society that was unable to defend itself when the time came.

    This is what Naipaul thought about the effect of the caste system:

    Caste he finds still dominates life in India, serving to imprison "a man in his function," rendering "millions faceless." A businessman's function is to make money by whatever means he can; he does not have a duty though to produce good quality items. It is not an issue of dishonesty or of short-sightedness, as service is not an Indian concept. He described groups of sweepers who cleaned a set of stairs; after they worked with twig brooms, rags, and buckets of dirty water, the stairs and wall are not only not cleaner but dirtier than ever. However they fulfilled their function, which was to sweep, or rather to be sweepers. Actual cleanliness was not the issue. Indians have been known to be picnicking on the banks of a river while someone drowned, not lifting a finger to help. He writes that the Indians do not lack courage or an admiration for it, but rather see courage and the choice to risk one's life to save another the function only of soldiers. Attempts to save government jobs for untouchables is not lauded, as this merely in many Indian's eyes simply puts responsibility into the hands of those unqualified - by their caste - to perform that function. Those who buck the caste system, or are outside of it, such those Indians who were born overseas, are not accepted by the system and often frustrated.

    It just goes to show what happens if any damaging dogma takes hold of a society.

    But I think reformers like Ambedkar, Vivekananda, Rammohun Roy and others effectively ended the debate regarding the caste system, and today everyone accepts that it was a theory that was very damaging for hindu society.
     
  2. mujahideen

    mujahideen SENIOR MEMBER

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    You mentioned you have been harsh to Isalamic Rulers. What I say to this is that forget the past and lets focus on the present. Lets address today's problems like the caste system and let us find some sort of solution to fix this problem.
     
  3. Flintlock

    Flintlock ELITE MEMBER

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    Mujahideen, the caste system has been debated by Indians for the last 300 years.
    It has been outlawed, and is slowly dissolving.

    Obviously, its an old mindset, and will take its own sweet time to disappear.

    What I meant by harsh is that I have only been focussing on the damage done by Islamic rulers, and not really paying attention to the factors which weakened Hindu society from within.

    The effects of the brutal foreign rule are, I feel, far worse than those of the caste system.

    On this particular thread, I am trying to find out the origin of this system, how this system changed over time, its advantages and disadvantages.

    Feel free to post appropriate articles or add your own views.

    Thanks
     
  4. Flintlock

    Flintlock ELITE MEMBER

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    Social life in the Vijayanagara Empire (Taken Verbatim from Wikipedia) (14th to 17th Cent. AD)

    Most information on the social life in Vijayanagara empire comes from the writings of foreign visitors and evidence that research teams in the Vijayanagara area have uncovered. The Hindu caste system was prevalent and rigidly followed, with each caste represented by a local body of elders who represented the community. These elders set the rules and regulations that were implemented with the help of royal decrees. Untouchability was part of the caste system and these communities were represented by leaders (Kaivadadavaru). The Muslim communities were represented by their own group in coastal Karnataka.[51] The caste system did not, however, prevent distinguished persons from all castes from being promoted to high ranking cadre in the army and administration. In civil life, by virtue of the caste system, Brahmins enjoyed a high level of respect. With the exception of a few who took to military careers, most Brahmins concentrated on religious and literary matters. Their separation from material wealth and power made them ideal arbiters in local judicial matters, and their presence in every town and village was a calculated investment made by the nobility and aristocracy to maintain order.[52] However, the popularity of low-caste scholars (such as Molla and Kanakadasa) and their works (including those of Vemana and Sarvajna) is an indication of the degree of social fluidity in the society.

    The practice of Sati was common, though voluntary, and mostly practiced among the upper classes. Over fifty inscriptions attesting to this have been discovered in the Vijayanagara principality alone. These inscriptions are called Satikal (Sati stone) or Sati-virakal (Sati hero stone). Satikals commemorated the death of a woman by entering into fire after the death of her husband while Sati-virakals were made for a woman who performed Sati after her husband's heroic death. Either way, the woman was raised to the level of a demi-goddess and proclaimed by the sculpture of a Sun and crescent moon on the stone.[53]

    The socio-religious movements of the previous centuries, such as Lingayatism, provided momentum for flexible social norms to which women were expected to abide. By this time South Indian women had crossed most barriers and were actively involved in matters hitherto considered the monopoly of men, such as administration, business and trade, and involvement in the fine arts.[54] Tirumalamba Devi who wrote Varadambika Parinayam and Gangadevi who wrote Madhuravijayam were among the notable women poets of the era.[55] Early Telugu women poets like Tallapaka Timmakka and Atukuri Molla became popular during this period. The court of the Nayaks of Tanjore is known to have patronised several women poets. The Devadasi system existed, as well as legalised prostitution relegated to a few streets in each city.[56] The popularity of harems amongst men of the royalty is well known from records.

    Well-to-do men wore the Pethaor Kulavi, a tall turban made of silk and decorated with gold. As in most Indian societies, jewellery was used by men and women and records describe the use of anklets, bracelets, finger-rings, necklaces and ear rings of various types. During celebrations, men and women adorned themselves with flower garlands and used perfumes made of rose water, civet, musk or sandalwood.[57] In stark contrast to the commoners whose lives were modest, the lives of the empire's kings and queens were full of ceremonial pomp in the court. Queens and princesses had numerous attendants who were lavishly dressed and adorned with fine jewellery, their daily duties being light.[58]

    Physical exercises were popular with men and wrestling was an important male preoccupation for sport and entertainment. Even women wrestlers are mentioned in records.[59] Gymnasiums have been discovered inside royal quarters and records speak of regular physical training for commanders and their armies during peace time.[60] Royal palaces and market places had special arenas where royalty and common people alike amused themselves by watching matches such as **** fights, ram fights and wrestling between women.[60] Excavations within the Vijayanagara city limits have revealed the existence of various types of community-based activities in the form of engravings on boulders, rock platforms and temple floors, implying these were places of casual social interaction. Some of these games are in use today and others are yet to be identified.