Indian Caste System

The Five Levels

Brahmans

The Brahmans are reining at the top of the caste system. They contain priestly and academic people.


Definition: a member of the highest Hindu caste, that of the priesthood.

(in Hinduism) the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena.

Kshatriyas

The Kshatriyas are a step below the Brahmans, which is the level containing warriors and kings. The Kshatriyas are meant to be warriors during warfare, but at calm times they are expected to work as part of the government.


Definition: warrior and authority.

Vaisyas

The Vaisyas are at the middle of the caste system and include the commoners. Many were merchants and landowners.


Definition: a member of the third of the Hindu castes, comprising the merchants and farmers.

Sudras

The Sudras contain most of the Indian population. This fourth level includes peasants, artisans, or people who did other forms of manual labor. They had limited rights.


Definition: a member of the worker castes, lowest of the four Hindu castes.

Untouchables

The Untouchables were at the lowest level of society. They were not even considered a part of the caste system and they were not viewed as human. They make up about 5% of the Indian population. Their presence is viewed as harmful to other classes. This group consisted of Street Sweepers and Latrine Cleaners. Untouchables were also referred to as Dalit, and this group includes anybody not in the caste system.