Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The caste system

In the Jatakas Brahmins are mentioned as traders, hunters and trappers. R P Masani quotes the case of a Kshatriya prince, Kusa, mentioned in one of the Jataka tales, who became an apprentice in turn to a potter, a basket maker, a florist and a cook. Conversely, from even the Vedic days there have been innumerable instances of men born in the lowest rank of caste-society taking to professions which in theory were the monopoly of the other castes. Even the Mauryas royal family came from among the Sudras.” Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji ( ? ) of the India Heritage Research Foundation defines: "The Caste system as you see it today is not was originally simply a division of labor based on personal, talents tendencies and abilities. It was never supposed to divide people. Rather, it was supposed to unite people so that everyone was simultaneously working to the best of his/her ability for the greater service of all. In the scriptures, when the system of dividing society into four groups was explained, the word used is “Varna.” Varna means “class” not “caste.” Caste is actually “Jati” and it is an incorrect translation of the word “varna.” When the Portuguese colonized parts of India, they mistakenly translated “varna vyavasthaa” as “caste system” and the mistake has stayed since then.

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