Thus, it has been impossible to determine the exact origins of the caste system in South Asia. In the midst of the debate, only one thing is certain: South Asia's caste system has been around for several millennia and, until the second half of the 20th century, has changed very little during all of that time.
The British respected the Indian caste system in the formulation of their policies, formation of their military and in their government policies regarding education and employment. They did not attempt to abolish the caste system as they saw in it a great opportunity to maintain their hold by keeping the society divided. The Christian missionaries found in it a convenient means to convert people to Christianity and keep the Hindu society defensive. Educated Indian middle classes sensed the danger and felt a need to reform the caste system in the interests of Hindu society. Leaders like Baba Saheb Ambedkar demanded equal status for the low castes, while Gandhi advocated complete abolition of untouchability and equal rights to all people.
The Caste System and Stages of Life in Hinduism
Despites its universal appeal and emphasis on Muslim brotherhood, Islam could not destroy caste system nor Vedic religion. Caste system actually helped Hinduism to maintain its integrity and inner strength during this turbulent period. Some Muslim rulers made attempts to humiliate higher caste Hindus by forcing them to work in Muslim households as servants after reducing them to penury through unjust taxation. They also managed to convert to Islam some low caste and a few high caste Hindus. Some Muslim rulers made it a policy to kill a certain number of Hindus each year to humiliate and destroy Hindus. These developments made the caste system more rigid and uncompromising. Those who switched their loyalties to the new religion (usually the lower castes) became despicable and loathsome in the eyes of those who suffered silently. Interestingly the newly converted Muslims maintained some sort of caste system among themselves based on their old caste affiliations and added a new social dimension to the community of Muslims in the country.
Does America have a caste system
The Indian society was complex in ancient India as it is now. Any generalizations about it need to be regarded with some reservations. The political, geographic and linguistic diversity, absence of adequate dependable historical evidence, contradictory literary sources and the existence of multiple religious traditions make it a daunting task for any writer to present a satisfactory picture of the prevailing conditions of the Indian society at any point of time in the past. In the following paragraphs we attempt to trace a broad outline of the development of caste system in the post Vedic period.
How does the caste system affect one's body language…
The early Vedic society was more concerned with the color and family identity of people rather than their castes as is evident from the Rigvedic hymns which distinguish people based on their complexion and creed rather than occupation based castes. The caste system is known in Sanskrit as varnashrama dharma which actually means a system based on color. In the early days it was color of the skin that mattered, not the caste. A Brahmin was considered varnashresht or best of color. Varna also meant a letter or character or sound. Teaching how to write and spell Sanskrit letters was called varna-shiksha. The Vedic people were conspicuous by their color in contrast to the dark skinned tribes whom they derogatorily referred as dasyus, dasas, asuras, pisachas and rakshasas. These tribes spoke different languages, did not show any respect for the Vedic gods and sacrifices and would have probably shown the same contempt towards the Vedic people for their racial snobbery. Many scholars believe that the varnas were different from castes. The varnas were classes based on racial features, while the castes were further divisions within each class based on occupation or lineage. Thus while there were only four varnas or classes, the number of castes or occupational divisions with in each class varied.
Does America Have a Caste System? | Alternet
9. The lower caste people continue to be employed by the higher castes in the rural areas to perform menial and degrading jobs. We do not see the opposite happening anywhere in the country, except perhaps in companies and corporations owned by a few lower caste Hindus.