Caste and Caste system

I would like to pick up the thread on ‘the caste system’ and begin at the beginning. Let us find out what we are discussing about and disagreeing with.

Assuming for this entire post, ‘caste’ is an English word for ‘Jati’, the first question is:

1.   Are there Jati’s in India? 

Yes, of course, there are. No one is denying this obvious fact.

2.   Is there a system of Jati in India?

This question is ambiguous because it is unclear what ‘system’ means in this context. It could mean,

3.   Is it possible to describe (or classify) all the jati’s in India as though all jati’s are related to each other? 

Let us assume ‘relations’ to mean: hierarchical relationship, part-whole relationship, hetararchical relationship, relation of descent, kinship etc. In that case, once one has specified what kind of relationship one ‘wants’ between all the jati’s, then the answer can be given. My hypothesis is: No, it is not possible to describe all the jati’s in such a manner.

Or, the second question could mean:

4.   Do all the Jati’s, together, form a ‘structure’ of sorts?

Again, the issue is what this structure is: mathematical structure, logical structure, or whatever else. I do not know, because no one has specified what kind of structure Jati’s (in their entirety) are supposed to exemplify.

5.   Is Jati a social system or a social structure?

This question can only be answered when someone tells us what a social structure or social system is. There are many senses in which these terms are used: one speaks of democratic structures of a polity, social structure of a Feudal society, the Capitalist social system, kinship and family structures, the system of nuclear family, and so on. Given this plurality of uses, it becomes necessary to specify very clearly the sense in which the Jati’s are not only a system but also a social system.

In short, after the first question, the discussion about jati’s is mired in ambiguities, table-thumping, and flag waving. Perhaps, it is best if people begin by getting a handle on the second question before coming up with anecdotes.

One thought on “Caste and Caste system

  1. Sumant Kasbe

    Three things… 1) the rig Veda was the first instances where we saw the rise of verna system, which over the time developed the ashrams and the scared right of the Brahmins to perform sanskars. With the growth of the society the need of specialisation grew and that made the Varnas water tight as now it was practically impossible to jump the Varnas. (One can see this in a monopolistic market in modern day where the new entry in that sector is tightly guarded, in this case the priestly class did this in various forms.One such example is the two brith theory and the passage of knowledge through the scared thread) this made it impossible to jump class and when this was carried out with collective conscience, the little pathological behaviour that might had occurred could not change the collective consciences and the after math of all this is the caste system
    2) Britishers translated the Manusmriti (Vedic text) to govern the country after 1757 as per Hindu law and this further deepened the distinction as now the priestly class got the right to have a say in the punishment and comment on the severity of crime. (the Britishers took advise from them to make judgements for civil cases) The powering of the alreadying powerful class further declained the position of the other sects of the society.
    3) caste system is a social fact and as the anti-positivist theory suggest, it cannot be fully studied by scientific methodology as the rise of anomity in the transitional society is complex and finding facts that are imperially verified and do not have the influence of culture of the researcher is hard to achieve. The Durkheim theory will fail to produce solid conclusion about social facts(in my opinion)