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Caste System

            The Hindu Caste System is a social/class structure that has been around and enforced for thousands of years. The system categorizes four main groups beginning with the Brahmins. This category is at the top and contains priests, scholars and philosophers. The Kshatriyas are warriors and rulers. The Vaishyas are traders, merchants and farmers. The last and lowest cast is the Shudras. This caste is reserved for people that are laborers and servants. This category/class is even below the Shudras. They are considered to be outside the caste. They are known as the Untouchables or Dalits. This caste of people are to remain separate from the other castes. This include living in other areas and drinking from separate wells (www.emory.edu). Their occupation is menial and they may perform jobs that are dirty and deal with coming in contact with bodily fluids and feces. Higher caste people believe that if they were to come in contact with these people they would also be contaminated. Hindusim is concerned with cleanliness and hygiene. The untouchables were later named "Harijans" (Children of God) by Mahatma Gandhi (www.emory.edu). .
             The Caste System is thought to have originated during the Aryan invasion. The Arayans were a higher class than the native inhabitants. The Caste system is not necessarily a religious system but does belong to Hinduism. The system helps maintain the structure of Hinduism. A persons caste is determined at their birth. If you are born a Brahmin you will most likely remain Brahmin. The only way to change your caste is to die and reincarnate into another caste. Your caste determines what your occupation will be and who you will choose for a spouse. It also determines the punishments that one will receive for crimes or misdeeds that are committed. A Brahmin will not be treated the same as any other caste. It is a punishable offense to marry or have a relationship outside your caste (The Humanist, Nov-Dec 2001).

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