“Some persons are forced to carry on
the prescribed callings which are not
their choice.” B.R. Ambedkar
Following the Aryan
invasion, India was broken up into
five strict classes, known as the caste
“May all that have life be delivered
from suffering.” -Buddha
Note: Depending on the
source, spelling of the
various castes may be
At the top of the caste system were the
Brahmans, or the priests and leaders. These
individuals we few in number. They were the
only ones who were allowed to teach in
schools and go to school, however the
Brahman women could do neither.
Underneath the Brahmans was the Kshatriya,
or the warriors. This group was not large in
number. The Kshatriya were in the army or
leaders in a way different from that of the
Brahmans. Women could not be warriors but
they could belong to this class.
Under the warriors were the vaishyas, these
individuals were traders or farmers who
owned their businesses or farming land. This
group was made up of a great deal of people in
Second to last were the shudras, who were servants
and farmhands who did not own their own land or
businesses and who were employed by other people in
a higher class. Many farmers who were in the vaishyas
caste would lose their property or business and fall
into this group after a while. This caste held the highest
number of members.
At the very bottom of the caste
system, technically not belonging to
a class at all, were the untouchables.
The untouchables held the worst
jobs in society, usually collecting
garbage and cleaning up human
The slaves in India were thought to be below
the untouchables and were not classified at all.
They were not even seen as human but rather
Living in ancient India, you were defined by
There was no way for an individual or their
children in India to escape their caste and move
up. Not even death could break the cycle.
There were extremely strict rules surrounding
the caste system in India. People from different
castes could certainly not marry each other or
even become friends and they were not even
allowed to eat in the presence of another class.
There are three main religions in India,
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. The time of
the Aryan invasion and the adoption of the
caste system marked the beginning of modern
Questions to ponder:
1. What are the different castes and what is one
distinct feature of each?
2. Chose one caste and compare it with a modern
day example in our society.
3. Chose one caste and name one part of the day
that you might look forward to.
4. Chose one caste and name one part of the day
that you might dread.
5. After the invasion of which group of people did
the caste system come about in India?