The Caste System of Ancient India

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The Caste System of Ancient India

  1. 1. The Caste System of Ancient India By: Megan Douglas
  2. 2. Origins of the Caste System <ul><li>Indo-European Aryans invaded India in 1500 BC </li></ul><ul><li>They were warrior people who established control and began to restructure Indian social classifications </li></ul><ul><li>Under their influence Indian people were divided into five different social groups </li></ul>The Aryans
  3. 3. Caste According to the Rig Veda The duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and of Sudras, too, O terror of your foes! are distinguished according to the qualities born of nature. CHAPTER XVIII, pp. 126-127 http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Germany/Caste Quotes.htm
  4. 4. The Different Castes
  5. 5. The Brahmins <ul><li>Members of the highest caste </li></ul><ul><li>Priests and teachers of Sanskrit </li></ul><ul><li>Performed religious duties and preached Dharma </li></ul><ul><li>Only caste allowed to teach and attend school </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Kshatriya <ul><li>Ranked below the Brahmins </li></ul><ul><li>Functioned as warriors or army leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Apart of the military and ruling elite </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Vaishyas <ul><li>Below the Kshatriya </li></ul><ul><li>Traders, cattle farmers, minor officials, merchants and artisans </li></ul><ul><li>Owned their own business or farm land </li></ul><ul><li>There were many more people in this caste than the Kshatriyas or Brahmins </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Sudras <ul><li>Below the Vaishyas </li></ul><ul><li>Servants and farmhands </li></ul><ul><li>Did not own their own land and businesses </li></ul><ul><li>Were employed by members of higher castes </li></ul><ul><li>The most populous caste </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Harijans <ul><li>Known as “untouchables”, “pariahs”, “the people” </li></ul><ul><li>Technically not even a caste, below all others </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for handling the dead, cleaning up human waste, and collecting garbage </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Caste System in Practice <ul><li>Impossible to change castes, even in death </li></ul><ul><li>Caste status passed down through family generations </li></ul><ul><li>People from different castes could not marry, befriend, or eat with each other </li></ul><ul><li>Castes were supported by religious texts </li></ul>
  11. 11. Resources for Standard 6.5.4: Outline the social structure of ancient India's caste system <ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/india/people/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.historytution.com/ancient_india/castesystem.html </li></ul>

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