The Caste System

What is it and how does it work?

Brahmins and Kshatriyas

This is the top level of the caste system. It consists of priests and academics. Their work requires many years of training, starting from age 10.They were treated with the utmost respect by everyone, but they also had to follow the strictest rules in order to live up to their name. These rules constrict them from doing many every-day tasks, so they depend on the lower castes to do things for them.

The Kshatriyas are the second highest level of the caste system. This caste consists of kings and warriors. Their niche is to protect the society from dangers and crimes. They must study Hindu scriptures under the watch of a Brahmin. They also followed many of the same rules of purity as the Brahmins, but not all the rules. Both the Brahmins and Kshatriyas are twice-born groups, which means they undergo a spiritual cleanse or rebirth around the time of adolescence.

Vaishyas and Sudras

Vaishya is the middle level of the caste system. Vaishyas are mainly merchants, landowners, and farmers. They do a lot of trading activities with others of their caste. They are not very rich, but also not very poor, hence being the middle caste.They are also a twice-born group.

Sudra is the second to last part of the caste system. They are all commoners, peasants, and servants. They are not a twice-born group. In ancient law, their one job was to cater to the twice-born groups. As part of their job serving the top three castes, they had to do work that was considered "pollution" like agricultural labor, disposing of garbage, and laundering. As time went on though, many sudras became successful in their own right.

Examples of the Castes

The Untouchables

This is the lowest part of the caste system. It is so low, that it is not really even considered a part of the caste system. The people that were in this section of the system are the people who failed to live up to their expectations. They were seen as unclean and have to do the jobs that no one wants. People in the higher castes avoided them at all costs because they are convince that a touch or even a glance from an untouchable could cause you to lose purity.