Caste system is a social evil that is present in the Indian society since the ancient times. It has been criticized immensely by the people over the years. However, it still has a strong hold on the social and political system of the country. A number of social evils have been prevalent in the Indian society since centuries and caste system is one of them. The concept has undergone certain changes over the centuries and is not as stringent as it was in the earlier times. However, it still impacts the religious, social and political lives of the people in the country. Here are some simple yet informative essays of varying word lengths on the caste system in India to help you perform better in your class.
Essay on Caste System in India
Caste System in India Essay 1 (100 words)
Caste system in India has been prevalent since the ancient times. However, the concept has been moulded and evolved over the centuries by those in power. It underwent a major change particularly during the Mughal Rule and the British Raj. Nevertheless, people were and are still treated differently based on their caste. The social system basically has two varied concepts – Varna and Jati.
While Varna refers to the four broad social divisions namely Brahmins (teacher/priests), Kshatriyas (kings/warriors), Vaishyas (traders) and Shudras (labourers/servants), it got degenerated into Jatis, determined by birth. Jati is generally derived from the trade or occupation of the community, and is known to be hereditary.
Caste System in India Essay 2 (150 words)
India has been under the spell of the evil caste system since centuries. This system finds its roots in the ancient times and has undergone change over the time. The rulers of medieval, early modern and modern India moulded it to suit their convenience. Those belonging to the higher castes were treated with high regard and those from the lower caste were looked down upon all along.
In today’s times, caste system in India has become the basis of reservation when it comes to acquiring education and securing jobs.
The social system in India basically comprises two different concepts, Varna and Jati. Varna is said to be the class of the person. Under this there are four categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Jati on the other hand is said to be a person’s caste and finds reference to a person’s birth. There are thousands of Jatis and these are generally determined by the traditional occupation of a community.
Caste System in India Essay 3 (200 words)
The origin of caste system in India dates back to the ancient times. There are two different perspectives for its origin in the country. These are either based on socio-economic factors or ideological factors.
The first school of thought is based on the ideological factors and as per this, caste system finds its base in four Varnas. The perspective formed centuries ago was especially common among the scholars from the British colonial era. This school of thought categorises people based on their class. There are basically four classes – Brahmins (teachers/priests) , Kshatriyas (kings/warriors), Vaishyas (traders) and Shudras (labourers/servants).
The second school of thought is based on the socio-economic factors and as per this the system is rooted in the political, economic and material history of India. This perspective was common among the post-colonial era scholars. This school of thought categorises people based on their caste, which is determined by the traditional occupation of their community.
Caste system has had a strong hold in India and continues to do so. Today, this system has become the basis of reservation in education and jobs. Due to political reasons where castes constitute vote banks for parties; the reservation system is still intact in the country.
Caste System in India Essay 4 (250 words)
Caste System in India divides people into four different categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. It is believed that these groups came into being from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Priests, intellectuals and teachers come under the category of Brahmins. They stand at the top of the hierarchy and it is believed that they came from Brahma’s head. Next in line are the Kshatriyas who are the rulers and warriors. These apparently came from God’s arms. Merchants, traders and farmers come under the Vaishya category and are said to have come from His thighs and the labour class forms a part of the fourth category that is the Shudras – these are said to have come from Brahma’s feet.
Then there is yet another category which was added later on and is now known as the dalits or the untouchables. These comprise of the street sweepers or cleaners. This category was considered to be outcastes.
These main categories are further divided into as many as 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, based on their occupation.
As per Manusmriti, the most significant book on the Hindu laws, Varna system came into being to establish order and regularity in the society. The concept is said to be 3,000 years old and distinguishes people based on their dharma (duty) and karma (work).
The religious as well as social life of the people in the country has been influenced largely by the caste system since centuries and the trend continues today, with political parties misusing it for their own ends.
Caste System in India Essay 5 (300 words)
Caste system has been prevalent in our country since time immemorial and continues to have a strong hold on the society and political system. People have been divided in four different categories of class – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Historically it is believed that this social system came into being in the country in around 1500 BC with the arrival of the Aryans. It is said that Aryans introduced this system in order to control the local population at that time. In order to make things systematic, they defined main roles and assigned them to groups of people. However, in the 20th century, this theory was dismissed as it was stated that Aryans never invaded the country.
As per Hindu theologians, it is said that this system came into being with the Hindu God Brahma who is known as the creator of the universe. As per this theory, the people who hold the highest stature in the society that is the priests and teachers came from Brahma’s head, the ones from the second category were the warriors who came from God’s arm, those belonging to the third category, that is, the traders and merchants came from God’s thighs and the peasants and workers, that is, those belonging to the lowest category came from Brahma’s feet.
The actual origin of the caste system is thus not known yet. Manusmriti, the most ancient text on Hinduism, however has cited this system in 1,000 BC. In the ancient times, the communities followed the class system stringently. While the people from the upper classes enjoyed several privileges, those from the lower class were deprived of many things and thus suffered immensely. Though not as stringent as in the earlier times, even today a lot of discrimination is done based on a person’s caste.
Caste System in India Essay 6 (400 words)
India has been under the clutches of the evil caste system since the ancient period though the exact origin of this system isn’t known as there are different theories that state different stories about its initiation. As per Varna system, people were broadly divided into four different categories. Here is a look at the people who fall under each of these categories:
- Brahmins – Priests, Teachers and Scholars
- Kshatriyas – Rulers and Warriors
- Vaishyas – Farmers, Merchants and Traders
- Shudras – Labourers
The Varna system later got degenerated into caste system. The society was divided into 3,000 castes and as many as 25,000 sub-castes based on the occupation of the community that a person was born into.
As per one theory, the Varna system initiated in the country as the Aryans arrived here in around 1500 BC. It is said that Aryans introduced this system to have control over people and make things work more systematically. They assigned different roles to different groups of people. As per the Hindu theologians, on the other hand, the system initiated with Brahma, the Hindu God who is known as the creator of the universe.
As Varna system degenerated into caste system, a lot of discrimination was done on the basis of caste. People belonging to the higher castes were treated with great respect and enjoyed several privileges while those from the lower classes were scorned at and were deprived of several things. Inter-caste marriages were strictly forbidden.
The caste system in urban India today has declined immensely. Though, people from the lower classes are still not respected in the society as the government offers several benefits to them. Caste has become the basis of reservation in the country. People belonging to lower classes have a reserved quota in the education sector and also when it comes to securing government jobs.
After the departure of the British, the Constitution of India banned the discrimination based on the caste system. It is then that the quota system was introduced for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. BR Ambedkar who authored the Constitution of India was himself a Dalit and the concept of social justice for protecting the interests of these communities on the lower rung of society was considered to be a great move in the Indian history, though now it is being misused for narrow political reasons by different parties in the country.
Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize winning author, has accused Mahatma Gandhi of discrimination and called for institutions bearing his name to be renamed.
Speaking at Kerala University in the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram, Roy, 52, described the generally accepted image of Gandhi as a lie.
"It is time to unveil a few truths about a person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on the acceptance of a most brutal social hierarchy ever known, the caste system … Do we really need to name our universities after him?" Roy said.
The caste system is thousands of years old but still defines the status of hundreds of millions of people in India. So-called untouchables, or Dalits, continue to suffer discrimination.
The author's comments provoked immediate outrage from descendants and some scepticism from historians.
"Being outspoken is one thing but being so blase about your ignorance is quite another," said Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of the world-renowned thinker and activist. "It's just an attempt to get publicity."
Prof Mridula Mukherjee, an expert in modern Indian history at Jawaharlal University in Delhi, said Roy's criticism was misplaced. "Gandhi devoted much of his life to fighting caste prejudice. He was a reformer not a revivalist within the Hindu religion. His effort was in keeping with his philosophy of nonviolence and bringing social transformation without creating hatred," Mukherjee said.
Roy's comments are part of a long-running historical argument over Gandhi's views on caste.
Gandhi's stance is sometimes contrasted by commentators with that of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Dalit who grew up in poverty but went on to become a prominent independence leader and India's first law minister, with responsibility for much of the country's constitution. Roy recently wrote a new introduction to Ambedkar's undelivered 1936 speech, The Annihilation of Caste, in which she called Gandhi "the saint of the status quo".
Mukherjee said Gandhi and Ambedkar "represented different understandings of how to solve problems of caste oppression in India, but each was equally sincere".
The British government recently announced that a statue of Gandhi would be placed in Parliament Square.
Roy's comments come amid a series of rows over the study and representation of Indian history.
The appointment of a little-known academic to the head of a national research body has raised concerns that the new Hindu nationalist government in India may try to promote an ideological version of the country's past.
The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, won a landslide victory in May, ending a decade of rule by the centre-left Congress party. When last in power, between 1998 and 2004, the BJP prompted controversy with its criticism of prominent historians and efforts to excise what ministers claimed was a Marxist or western vision from textbooks.
Prof Yellapragada Sudershan Rao took up his post as chair of the Indian Council of Historical Research last month. Rao was formerly head of history and tourism management at a little-known university.
Rao immediately caused controversy with comments criticising alleged Marxist influence on Indian historical studies and western-inspired methods of research. He also told interviewers that he believed the Hindu literary epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were historically accurate accounts of real events.
Salil Tripathi, a columnist in Mint, a local newspaper, wrote: "His appointment is troubling … because he appears to believe that history is shaped by both faith and reason. Faith matters, of course, but faith is part of a culture, it should not dictate history. Faith is about unquestioned belief; history is about facts and reality."
Romila Thapar, one of India's most respected historians, said she feared "the ICHR may now turn the clock back".
"Historical research in India is no longer limited to trying to prove that the narratives of the ancient texts were historically accurate. We are now perhaps more concerned with what they tell us about our past societies and cultures," Thapar wrote.
BJP officials have denied any intention to change the way history is taught in schools or elsewhere.
The decision in February by Penguin to stop distributing an academic work on the Hindu religion by US expert Wendy Doniger after a legal challenge from conservatives prompted particular concern among liberal writers and thinkers in India. The BJP government last week denied reports that it had destroyed thousands of files, including some related to Gandhi's assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.