Classical India Project
Trace the development of the caste system, Mr. Lorentz,
5 November 2013
The Aryans introduced the caste system to India. The caste system is a complicated set of social hierarchies. People are traditionally not allowed to associate with members outside their caste and usually not allowed to marry outside it. Some believe the caste system came from a belief that society had two tiers, a top and a bottom. Others believe that the caste system developed from a system used by priests to divide society into three levels: priests, warriors, and ordinary people.
Looked at positively, the caste system was designed to preserve order and it virtually guaranteed that sons would be able to follow in their father's occupational footsteps - much like guilds or union jobs today.
Looked at critically, it allows for virtually no social mobility based on merit or effort and is intrinsically exploitive and unjust.The system evolved into five separate caste distinctions determined solely by birth: priests (Brahmins); rulers, warriors and landowners; merchants; artisans and farmers; and the so-called Untouchables. There was some blurring of the lines among the middle tiers, not so between the extremes.