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An insight into the Indian caste system: How we are systematically misguided by its misinterpretation

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If the word caste is derived from the Portugese word ’casta’, if there is no caste in ancient India, where did the caste system and caste discrimination come from? Didn’t sage Manu write about caste and social stratification in his book Manu Smriti? No, it is highly misinterpreted by people with vested interests, here is why.

varna representation

There are around 20 smritis in Hinduism written by 20 different sages. Not one of them is considered veracious but as everyone wants to question it, lets dig into it. What Sage Manu has written in ManuSmrithi is about Varnas, not castes. These varnas have been highly misunderstood by the people. Sage Manu divided people into 4 varnas or categories Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra. As sage interpreted varnas the professions that fall under the Brahmin category are researchers, teachers, engineers, authors, scientists, Priests, doctors.., etc.

The people who fall under the Kshatriya category are Rulers, soldiers, administrators, guards.., etc. The people who fall under the Vaishya category are businessmen, merchants, traders, finance, agricultural workers, pastoral work .., etc. Finally, the professions under the shudra category are artisans, hunters, manual labor, cattle breeding.., etc. all these are irrespective of their own birth. It is hugely misinterpreted when he said from where the varnas are born from respectively.

Brahmin varna is the one who has the profession with the use of intellect, so he symbolically said they are born from the head of Brahma. Kshatriyas are warriors, a profession with the use of hands symbolically from the shoulders of Brahma. As vaishyas have work of agriculture, so born from thighs of Brahma and finally, Shudras are with the profession of smaller works like labor with the use of feet so symbolically born from feet of Brahma. Some people argue that there are five varnas and the fifth varna is (untouchables)Dalit caste. But in Manu smriti it is clearly mentioned that there are only four, no fifth varna.

So what did sage Manu mean by the importance of Varna?


In ManuSmriti, Sage Manu has written that “Brahmin can become a shudra and Shudra can become Brahmin, a person from any varna can change to any varna by acquiring such Qualities”. When he mentioned that people are to be revered by the level of their Varna, everybody misunderstood and misinterpreted that Shudras are to be looked down on. But, what It really means is that when a person has both skills and professions that belong to two different varnas, they should be revered with Varna which is top in the order.

This is the reason why the Valmiki who is a hunter a shudra, became a highly revered Sage, a Brahmin. Vyasa Maharshi who is born in the family of a Fisherman became a great sage who gave us Mahabharata, Maharshi Vishwamitra who was a Kshatriya by birth became Brahmin. Satyakama Jabali who is a Shudra in Chandogya Upanishad became a Rishi a Brahmin due to his qualities. All the Alwars and Nayanars whose idols are present in the Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva’s temples, none of them are from Brahmin caste but are all worshipped first, even before the God himself.

slokha from Bhagawadgita

In BhagawadGita it is written that “Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra Varnas are distributed by their qualities and Skills and the karmas they do, it is not acquired by birth.” It also mentions a person who wears a janeu (sacred thread) but misses the skills and qualities of becoming a Brahmin, is a shudra. and is the same with every Varna. The reading and misinterpreting of the ancient Hindu scriptures have been done by Many foreign scholars like Max Muller who had vested interests and misinterpreted vedas and are read by great scholars like BR Ambedkar. This varna system through years of outliving through generations became a mere profession by the lineage of birth.

max muller

Then, how can we prove that we are but one with different varnas? well, through Gotras. Every Gothra that we know is present in all the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra castes. This is a live example that we all are but one and the Varna system has been misunderstood and the caste system has been created between people to divide Us.

The oppression of lower Varnas

As soon as the Varna system has become hereditary as a family profession by lineage, the oppression of lower varnas has started, there is no denying that. This soon has been labeled as the caste system. But the Struggle and fighting against the caste discrimination have also been shared by people from higher caste such as Annamacharya, Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Veerabrahmendra, Swami Ramanand Tirtha, and many more. These are the people who knew the real meaning of varna and fought for social reformation in a revolutionary way. “The Land on which King, servant, Brahmin and Sudhras sleep is same. There is no class distinction, when it is Lord who dwells in all the beings.” is one of the line in Annamacharya’s song.

Ramanuja leading Harijans into the Temple.

Observe the pseudo-liberals who pose for social reforms always blames only Brahmins but not other higher castes who oppressed Dalits? This is because they want to eradicate the Hindu religion, but not the caste system. If tomorrow there will be the annihilation of the caste system, these people will be the first ones to oppose it.

Urban Naxal propaganda rally in USA

Episode of Shambhuka in Ramayan.

Whenever the caste issue raises and wants to blame the ancient Hindu scriptures, the two things that are most primarily brought up are Manu Smriti and Shambhuka episode from Ramayana. There is a misinterpretation that Lord Ram killed Shambook because he is a Shudra. But is it true? what really happened?

Shambooka vadha

A person comes running to Lord Ram with his dead child in his arms and asks for help, he comes to know that someone has been doing a rigid penance which resulted in his child’s sickness. So, lord Ram goes to search for the one doing the penance and is shocked to see him doing penance hanging upside down, then introduces himself, and asks him to stop, because of the catastrophe it’s been causing, he asks him who he is and why is he doing this penance. He says “I am Shambooka, a Shudra, I am doing this penance to attain swarg, celestial heaven with my living body and conquest the world of heaven by defeating Indra and will not stop his penance until I achieve it.” while he is still talking, Lord Ram takes his sword and beheads him. While you might think he killed him as he said he is a Shudra, you might wanna rethink that from the perspective of Varnas. And don’t forget that, this is the time of Sage Valmiki, who has been able to change his varna with his qualities. When it is said about being a Brahmin, it is not a caste but a quality, education of vedas and upanishads.

When it is said about being a shudra it is not about being a lower caste and it doesn’t mean he can’t attain swarg after death through karma and good deeds, it just means he can’t do it while he is still alive. Attaining Swarg with the living body is impossible even to Great sages who did a penance, only to attain moksha, but here, Shambooka has been doing a rigid penance in an irregular way hanging upside down for an evil reason which caused the death of a child, which is why Lord Ram killed him. Then Lord Rama told Indra “ This Man wants to attain swarga, please bless him with eternal Heaven”. Then Indra says ” Rama, as he died in your hands, he has already attained moksha”. Lord Ram never showed any discrimination towards shudras. In Arayana Kaand, Lord Rama accepted the directly tasted berries from Shabari who is a Tribal. It is just one of the many moments in Ramayan.

Ancient scriptures Like Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagawadgeeta nowhere support any discrimination or inferior status towards Shudras. Rigveda says “There is no one superior or inferior in the Vedas. All are equal just like brothers. All should help each other to attain the pleasures of this as well as the other world”. It is written that “Shudras are the giver of grains”. Truth is that in the Vedic age there was no caste system. Only the Varna system was in practice. In the middle ages, the caste system came into practice. Few ignorant priests, elites and western scholars interpolated the Texts like Ramayana and Manu smriti with verses supporting the caste system. These interpolations were done with vested interests.

The recent events of Hindu unity are shaking the western and pseudos to the core, which is why they have been using the words like Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, caste and Brahminical patriarchy. This is how they tried to divide us during colonial times and they are using the same policy to divide us even today. The unity is what saves Hindus today in this world where the mere existence of Hindus is considered offensive. To stop this Hinduphobia, let’s forget all the differences and fight back the evil forces that have been trying to divide us.

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