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What is the difference between class and caste?

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2011-09-14 09:24:37

There have been tremendous interpretations and

mis-interpretations over these two words ,

Jaati, and Varna by lots of

scholars of Indian society on this matter.

A branch of people believes that Jaati is a profession-based

categorization of Hindu masses whereas a Varna is a color based

categorization of Hindu masses.! People , the scholars, have even

cited refernces from many Vedic documents to make their assertion

and to prove them. But what sounds surprising to me is point that

none of the scholars, particularly the English scholars, have

attempted to understand the contextual sense of what the authors of

those vedic documents have attempted to mean when they speak

something about these two systems. For example, one cited Vedic

document speaks that the four Varna/Jaati, whatever one may treat

that for the time being, were created from the limbs of Manu-- the

Brahmins being those from his head and mouth, the Kashtriya being

his Arms and hand, the Vaishya being his torso and Sudra being his

Legs...and for normal functioning of the society all have to do

their duty, like for the case of human body.

Is it not surprising that scholar fail to mention the

metaphor involved in the description above?? Does it anywhere

mention that Brahmins were created from the head of Manu, to be

taken as a serious note answer for "what is the origin of Brahmins

?" , or for that matter , " what is the origin of Kashtirya ?".

Similarly the word varna which duly has one of its

meaning as Color, as in "woh shaym varna ke the " (he was of dark

complexion). From this, a derivative comes that Varna was about

color discrimination, and this further supported by another Vedic

Document which mentions that Brahmins were fair complexioned, the

Kastriya were Red, Vaishya were yellow , and Sudra weer black !

Being a Hindu, I have hardly felt the existence of color

discrimination in our people, although a preference for a "gori

bahu" (a fair complexioned bride) is seen. But even then, the above

remains only a simili/metaphor in my opinion, while the vedic

author of the above might have been attempting to theorise how the

Varna difference might be showing up, (as in, a V-shape underwear

may mean that the wearer is likely to be a sporty chap, or 'Lord

Lochinvar' means he was a noble person, although he was a 'the

highway man'), which the English Scholars of Indians Sociology have

almost successfully managed to thrust in the minds of our, Hindu

youngsters, to the extent that color discrimination might begin

now, even when nobody is red or yellow. While a 'dark Brahmin' may

be actually falling out with his distractors about his Brahmin

status, or otherway, the standards of 'Fair complexion' as assigned

to the Brahmin club.!!

That will be the tragic irony of myths created by English

Scholars while studying Indian System, which is prone to accepting

the outside observer as a Judge impartial !!

The word Jaati I think remains that of the Vedic origion,

but has to treated as something connoting a tribe. There are other

usages, such as Jan-jaati, janya, to mean the 'club of

people' but , as i see them, referentially to mean the Tribe of

people who share a common descent. It is in this regard that there

are Vedic mentions of 'Panchjanya' to mean the five tribes

of early vedic people. A janjaati is impling- 'those people who are

commonly found in a given territorial area', a small town, of a

forest region, etc. Thus a Jaati, spoken of as Caste

in English ('casto' a Portuguese origin for the word caste), is

suppose to mean a birth/hereditrical/genetic categorisation of


A Varna on the other hand is likely to mean a

work/profession based categorisation. The word, Varna,

has an alternate meaning as "categorisation/ distinction/ or

description' (a close derivative of Varga; Varnamala

meant the alphabets in Sanskrit; the word "Varanan' means the act

of describing something. ), itself, apart from the previous

meaning 'Color'.

Thus a person from any Jaati was accepted to come to any

Varna depending upon how he fared--

behaved/conducted/practised his vocation.

The examples of Jaati would be-- Saini, Kurmi, yadav,

raghuvansh, jaat, Puru, khatri, etc.

But for the Varna-- there are only four of them-- Brahmin,

Kshtriya, Vaishya, Shudra.

It is here that one can note there is no Jaati as

Brahmin. In fact, all the four Varna are Status only,

which people from any of the several Jaati attain by virtue

of their accomplishment. But the modern Indian scholars, and also

the common people, interpret it as one and same, which for some

natural psychological causes is not too far from reality for the

reason that Children do acquire the traits if the parents better

than anyone else, and hence become almost one and the same. The

further affirming of uch mistaken belief of seeing them as one is

attibutable to the treatment and recognisation to the system in

this manner by the past Invading rulers of India, the Moghuls and

the British.

Another cause of confusion of Jaati and Varna to

come around in Indian society was the fact that the descendants of

the Varna- Brahmin, the people who attained a high state of

wisdom, the Brahmmah , and thus provided discretion on Good

and Evil, and also gave Prudence thoughts to the people at large

from rest of the Varna, the descedants attempted to retain

their high social status, by releasing it from the clutches of

continuous attainment of wisdom, the Brahmmah, by putting

Brahmin also as a Jaati. This was one of the first cases of moral

corruption by high wisdom people. One can very plainly note that

among all Jaati and Varna as known to Indian system today,

only the Brahmin are both (!!) a Jaati and also a Varna. The

causes of this can be plainly understood, and more when one tries

to explore the origin of Brahmin as Jaati in the Vedic


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