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  1. #1
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    Is the caste system weakness of Hinduism?

    I read an article about cast system. It high lighted advantage and disadvantage of caste system and concluded caste system is the weakness of Hinduism. It says ‘Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam thrived in India on the weakness of Hinduism rather their own merits’ . I love Hinduism, but I am not able to convince myself caste system will do any good to the humanity.

    http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_caste.asp.

    I cut and pasted some part of the article below.

    Hinduism is a universal religion. Its primary emphasis is on universal brotherhood. I views the world as one family. It believes that man is divine in nature and realization of that supreme truth as the primary aim of all human activity. It is therefore unfortunate that for a very long time this religion of great antiquity has been in the clutches of few privileged castes.

    A great service it would be to Hinduism, if the present day Vedic teachers identify bright children from the lower castes and star teaching them the Vedas and the Upanishads and allow them to serve God in the temples of India. The strength of Christianity stems from dedicated missionaries who come from all sections of society. The weakness of Hinduism and of India is caste system, which divides the Hindu society into divergent and bickering groups and keeps them apart.

    Perhaps there is no other nation in the world that is openly and shamelessly as racial as some of the nations in the Indian subcontinent. A number of Indians who visit foreign countries often complain about being treated condescendingly on account of their skin color or accent, without acknowledging the fact that a vast majority of people in their own country exhibit a far greater obsession with accent, the color of ones skin and ones family (caste) background.

    And there are countless scholars who justify the caste system quoting chapter and verse from the Hindu scriptures, ignoring the fact that they were convenient interpolations in an otherwise sacred lore to justify a cruel and unjust system theological using the very authority of God.

    The Rigvedic society probably had a caste system that was flexible and allowed an individual to change his caste if he so desired. But during the later vedic period it became very rigid. The caste system was responsible for the weakness of Hindu society and for the invasion and subjugation of Hindus by several foreign forces. The physically strong shudras were condemned to pure agricultural labor and menial jobs. They would have been more useful as fighters and soldiers and defended the land well against foreign invasions.

    Hinduism does not support caste system. The focus of Hinduism is on the individual and his salvation not on his caste or its privileges. Scholars tend to quote the Purushasukta as the basis for the emergence of caste system. There are also references to caste system in the Bhagavad gita. But for a serious student of History, it becomes obvious that these references appear to be deliberate manipulations and later day interjection intended to justify a system that was otherwise fully unjustified. The Manusmriti, in the form that is available today did more damage to Hinduism and the self esteem of many Hindus than Islam and Christianity.

    Hindus should be clearly aware of the distinction between a sacred scripture (shruti) and a book written by an individual (smriti) such as Manusmriti. Manusmriti was probably edited and reedited a hundred or thousand times by different scholars during different periods. It is time Hindus realize this and stop castigating Hinduism on the basis of this grotesquely tampered scripture. It is time they examine their thinking and take some positive steps to create a more equitable and dignified human society based on a new manava dharma shastra based on present day values and ideals.

    Conclusion

    The caste system might have served its purpose in ancient times, but does not fit into the values and principles of modern times, such as democracy, fundamental rights, individual freedom, equality and non-discrimination. It does not uphold the values of modern Hinduism either, such as tolerance and universal brotherhood. It does not validate the concept that all life is a sacred expression of divine will and energy. Followers and upholders of Hinduism can not and should not rationalize caste system if they want to maintain the credibility of Hinduism as world religion that can not accommodate people of all nations, races and backgrounds.
  2. #2
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    I am just giving my personal opinion on this with no intention of blaming anyone.
    The caste system could have started out based on gunas.
    Brahmanas from the head(intellect), kshatriyas from arms(strength),Vaisyas from abdomen(agriculture/trade) and shudras from feet(service/support).
    Untouchability is not mentioned in the above explanation.
    We are all enveloped by ether,sustained by air,warmth by fire,nourished by water and bourned by earth.
    When the five elements caress us in our daily existence, who is really an untouchable?
    This division of society was for the whole of humanity i feel because the race of the individuals were not mentioned.
    But once division is done no matter on what grounds the division stays and later on rigidity sets in.
    Other religions take pride that they do not differentiate humans and categorize them but in reality thats not true.
    Humans overall categorize everything especially into pairs of opposite.
    Rich and poor, black and white, beautiful and plain.
    So even if the caste system wasn’t there humans would have found some other category of division.
    The only difference is in other religions anyone with the requirements and qualifications can become a priest.
    Maybe not so or not yet in Hinduism.
    Its almost hereditary but to a certain extent all of us also practise “hereditary” concept.
    Many doctors for example prefer their children to become doctors too.
    Traders prefer their children to take over trade.
    We see so many children of actors becoming actors these days too.
    So if we accept priesthood as an occupation,wont it be just a natural transition from father to son?
    Other religions have a hidden agenda to propagate their teachings and finding faults have become their middle name.
    But don’t we realize that no qualification is needed to realise God?
    Didnt Lord Krishna mention that anyone can reach Him whether vaisya, women, shudra, etc.
    He mentioned all categories not to differentiate but to make sure no one is left out knowing the human minds of the future.
    Didnt Lord Krishna’s idol turn towards Kanakadas?
    May be we should concentrate more on God realization and practise “Love All & Serve All”.
    We need not lose our identity but need to see unity in diversity.
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  4. #3
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    From time immemorial, the so called `brahmins' have created problems for themselves.

    During Mahabharath war, both Kripachariar and Dronachariar were suppose to be brahmins.

    Bhima Sena tells Dronachariar during the war that he is not suppose to fight the war as per his kula dharma and can only teach.

    Dronachariar's son Aswathama goes one step further and misuses his powers and is condemned by Lord Krishna.

    Deviating from one's kula dharma is the root cause of the problem. If they were sticking to the profession, there would not have been any problem.

    Now all the communities are doing all the professions. But instead of varna, caste system prevails.

    There is a possibility that caste system differentiation will reduce over a period of time but I doubt it will not go. Our politicians & beneficiary groups will not allow it to die.

    The so called `Brahmins' have withdrawn from electoral politics, Government jobs etc. They have almost vacated agriculture. They have almost vocated accounting, auditing & secretarial jobs. They have withdrawn from medical and legal profession to a great extent. Now mostly software, financial services, engineering jobs are the focus and it may change in the future also.

    If at all they are uniting as a group, it is because of `brahmin bashing' by the politicians and certain groups within India and Tamilnadu.

    Brahmin community has withstood onslaught to a great extent. Now the community is least bothered about others and would like to focus only on development of the community.

    Things are happening due to circumstances and no body can take either credit or criticism of the whole thing


    All the best
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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by *** View Post
    Things are happening due to circumstances and no body can take either credit or criticism of the whole thing

    Brahmins and the upper caste ruled all these eons and now we have this -- and the brahmins won't take any responsibility, it is all the politician's fault. Is it really?

    Regrads!
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    Quote Originally Posted by renukakarthikayan View Post
    Didnt Lord Krishna mention that anyone can reach Him whether vaisya, women, shudra, etc.

    Yes, he said they were of sinful birth and yet they can reach him. Why are they of sinful birth, nobody wants to get into that.

    Cheers!
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  10. #6
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    Sri *** ji,

    Hats off to your clear, valid and practical feedback.

    I believe the near future generation of we Hindus would not have cast system. The present generation is very clear as how to lead a flexible and comfortable life. I believe inter-cast marriages are not so bothered by NB communities. It's only we Brahmins who all are worried about our boys and girls marrying NB's. But that also seems to be fading away in due course of time.

    "Live & Let Live", "Love All & Serve All", "Where There Is A Will There Is A Way" etc...all would seem to become the only Mantras of we all Hindus, giving liberty to the style of worship, eating habits, principles, belief, and life style.

    I believe majority of people are least bothered about their cast. They would like to partner with some one educated with whom one's frequency matches well (Obviously it is valid & logical). If some one is taking a decision to marry from the same cast, bearing the strain to find the perfect match within would be doing so just to make his/her parents happy and to convince the society. I believe this mindset would be changed completely in near future and the society would not be astonishing to find a Brahmin girl marrying a NB Boy, A Devar girl marrying a Chettiar boy, A Tribal girl marrying a Nadaar boy...etc...just as a regular marriage system.

    The future society may than just be convinced that a Religion called Hinduism is still having its existence and is proud to express to the world that Hinduism in not just a religion but "A way of Life"
    Cheers.........


    ANBE SHIVAM...
    ----------------------------------
    The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.
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  12. #7
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    Ramansrini...asks whether caste is a weakness of Hinduism.
    In today's world it is made out to be a curse.
    Those in Hinduism who curse Brahmins for establishing the caste system, dont bless Brahmins when they go to their own caste associations. Baby men go about giving new respectable names to their castes rather than improving the lot of their kinsmen.
    The Christian missionaries secretly bless the Brahmins for caste...a good baton to beat them with and also earn in dollars for conversions...
    Let us not confuse ourselves about the past. You can argue this way and that...for and against...you can quote this book...you can curse that saint...Where will it take us? Everything is dependent on the standpoint of the person arguing...and his motives for saying what he does...
    There is a beautiful word the Kural uses...Naduvu-nilamai...non-partisan thinking...It is non-existent today...and cannot be expected from petty people.
    So don't worry whether caste is good or bad....
    It was there as an institution....
    It is still there in our minds and in society...
    But is that our Purushaarthaa...aim? What is the aim of Hinduism....The very purpose is ordering the life of man and taking him to higher levels of Spirit....This is the compass you must use for every issue. Respect men not for their caste but for their values and character.
    Kondraad Elst.....the clear-eyed scholar on Hinduism (De-colonising the Hindu mind) says...''Yes..caste system was there in Hinduism...but Hinduism can live even without it...''. (My own paraphrasing - Refer to his website)
    Kindly dont internalise the abuse poured on you for the caste system. Live above caste...Love people for what they are..
    ''Needhi...Uyarndha Madhi...Kalvi....--Anbu...
    Niraiya Udaiyavargal Meloar Paappa''........(Bharati)
    Koodi Vilaiyaadu Paappa..Anbu
    Kondu Vilaiyaadu Paappa...
    Thedu Paramporulai Nidhamum - Adhil
    Thella Thelindhuvidu Paappa (Vamanan)

    Every religion, every nation has many many crimes to live down...
    Is the slate of other religions clean? But I won't indulge in mudslinging...
    When men commit so many follies, will not a society, evovling over hundreds and hundreds of years, one of the oldest civilisations, have made mistakes...
    We may, or may not have committed sins in the past...the caste system may or may not be what it is made out to be by Hinduism's enemies and those who suffered because of past injustices....

    But Hindus are part of a living religion...Bathe in the pure waters of this flowing Ganga...Immerse yourself in the invigorating springs of its spirituality...You are spirit playing in matter...Don't allow anybody to restrict you to the body. Amritasya Puthraa - children of immortality...
    You are Vivekananda's children...You are the children of numberless sages who gave love not just to men and women from every clan and caste...but even to animals and birds...
    Last edited by Vamanan; 06-12-2009 at 10:28 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nara View Post
    Yes, he said they were of sinful birth and yet they can reach him. Why are they of sinful birth, nobody wants to get into that.

    Cheers!
    I think you could ascribe the 'sin' to mean 'material desires' of the athma...
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  16. #9
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    Caste system is a bane to the country

    It originally started based on the kind of work people were doing e.g Priests, Warriors, Traders . Others etc.Such a sustem was there in all the ancient civilisations.But in India it gor systemsed into Jaato from Varns
    And throught out the history of medival India Brahmins do not come out in good light
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  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nara View Post
    Brahmins and the upper caste ruled all these eons and now we have this -- and the brahmins won't take any responsibility, it is all the politician's fault. Is it really?

    Regrads!
    Prof Nara Sir,

    Our forefathers would have committed some excesses. Is it justified crucifying the present generation for that?

    Our community played a leading role in the Independent struggle.

    I think most of us are born after India became independent and became a true democratic republic.

    Even in western world such as UK and USA voting rights were extended to all only in instalments unlike in India where everybody attaining a particular age got voting right from day one of our republic.

    Practically the agraharams have vanished. In the city all communities are living together in mostly apartment type environment.

    Our community members are migrating outside Tamilnadu on a continuous basis and we are not at all fighting for anything. But politicians are still crucifying the residual people staying back. Is it justified?

    It is pure vote bank politics of Dravidian parties and let them do it. We have no problem. Personally I have faced the onslaught on our community throughout my career staying back in Tamilnadu. During this period, our community members have done an excellent job, focussing on developement only and not playing into the hands of these politicians. Let us hope this will continue in the future till the voices of our politicians stop talking about us.

    All the best
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