Explain the Caste System in India.  

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The caste system in India is a method for organizing socio-economic groups. It is an ancient system that the Aryans used to subjugate the local Dravidian population. The Aryans migrated from Asia and settled along the Indus River. The system in the early years was closely connected to skin color and race.

A caste, or varna, a social condition that an Indian is born into. Indians called the different castes the jati. The caste system dictated what jobs you could have and who you could associate with. It also establishes rules for daily living. Different laws are created and applied to different castes.

There are thousands of jati within this system, but they were eventually categorized into five main groupings: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras, and Untouchables. The Brahmin caste is at the top of the socio-economic ladder. The entire concept of the castes system evolved to become an important part of reincarnation and the religion of Hinduism. The Hindu could expect to be reincarnated to a higher caste if they performed all of their duties for their jati in this lifetime. While you were born into a certain jati, you could not improve your status for the next life. Through this process of following your duty, or dharma, the soul could eventually be released from reincarnation to a heavenly existence.