Rituals Various References, Caste System, Ashram, Purusharth, Chatushtaya
Mppsc Mains Gs Paper 2 Part B Unit 4
Caste is derived from a Portuguese word Casta, which means breed, race or group.
Basically caused refers to people belonging to the same breed.
An individual is born into a caste and his caste status is usually permanent.
Definition :- It is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy hereditary, transmission of life,which also includes an occupation,ritual status,hierarchy and customary social interactions.
Origin of castes :-
Many western and Indian Scholars have described the origin of caste in their own ways,some important theories are as follows :-
It is a very popular theory which gives its origin to ancient literature. It believes that caste has a divine origin and it is created by Brahma for performance of various social functions.According to to purusha sukta(Tenth sukta) the hymen of Rigveda, Brahmins is supposed to have been born from the mouth of Brahma, Kshatriya from arms, Vaishya from Thigh, and shudras from the feet of Lord Brahma.
It also specifies their duties too,which are — The Brahman have to serve to society as a teacher, The Kshatriya have to defend the society in war, the Vaishya should provide food and other amenities to society,while the shudras have to serve to other classes.
This theory has been criticised by various sociologist including Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was just because of this theory Indian Hindu society has an Evil varna system which has further caused the exploitation of 4th class, the shudras.
This theory states that when there was less rigidity in society every individual has right to choose occupation of their choices, however gradually with increase in the rigidity the right to change occupation or profession came to halt & castes were identified on the basis of fixed occupation, those people whose occupation was to teach were considered as Brahmins,warriors as kshatriya, farmers as Vaishya and servants as shudras.
Various political thinkers have the opinion that the political convenience Of the ruling class established the caste system in society. They believe that if they want to retain the authority,then the manipulation of mass numbers can only be performed when the society is divided on the basis of caste and in order to do so the caste system has started.The brahmins were solely responsible for making and maintaining the system so as to retain the authority they established themselves in the highest status and declared all other inferior to them.
According to this theory the caste system came into existence due to clash of culture and interaction among races. The Aryans came to India as conquerors and then they accorded themselves as higher than non Aryans, in order to get the higher status than native indians, they started a system of aryans and non aryans in indian society which was further emerged as a caste system in india.
Characteristics of caste system
- Every caste system has a segmental division in society in which they are divided in various units called caste and each caste has its own set of norms and beliefs.
- Every caste system is hierarchical in nature, as there are certain castes in each society who have been accorded with higher and lower status in the society.
- Endogamy is an important element of caste system specially in Indian Hinduism where it is practised in marriage ceremonies which is still prohibited.
- Heredity status & occupation are some of the basic features of every caste system, as they can also be called as ascribed the status of a person.Indian social thinker Mahatma Gandhi believed in this system,Dr Ambedkar has criticized this.
- Cultural differences is an essential element of the caste system.
- Social segregation is also an essential element of the caste system, as society differentiate people on the basis of their economic status.
Why caste system is bad / Demerits
- The caste system has denied the fundamentals of Humanism as it does not provide equal status to each human being.
- The caste system also states that one has to follow the same occupation as his parents which brings great flaws in mobility of labour. Moreover, in this individual freedom and choices are greatly hampered.
- The caste system in India for the lead lead to untouchability and various social evils such as child marriage, rape of shudra women,dowry,Parda system.
- Caste system is also a great obstacle in a country’s growth as one section of society is prohibited to perform certain functions thus they are not able to contribute to nation building.
- It isfundamentally against the nature of a welfare state and a democratic country.
Ashram is derived from a Sanskrit word “Srama”,which means making an effort.
Ashram vyavastha primarily represents the Journey of life.
Its other meaning is the stages or duties of one’s life.
Objective of Ashram system :– The main objective of Ashram vyavastha is to attain Moksha or liberation and according to Hindu ethics the ashram system is a path towards it.
As per Hindu mythology there are four Ashram by which one can attain the Liberation or Nirvana, as originally human life used to be considered as of hundred years. Each ashram devoted the duration of 25 years :-
- Brahmacharya (0 to 25 years) – Stage of studentship
- Grihastha (25 to 50 years) – Stage of households
- Vanaprastha (50 to 75) – Stage of retiring
- Sanyas (75 to 100) – Stage of Renunciation
- Brahmacharya is the first stage of the ashram . In this stage one has to acquire knowledge, develop skills and mould character. Brahmachari starts with initiation of upnayan Sanskar.Here everyone has to start education in Gurukul and should develop the character and personality.
- Grihastha Is centred on marriage and responsibilities of life.In this stage, individuals should get married, earn money( by honest means) and produce children.In this system man should consider his wife as Ardhangini and should not perform any religious rituals without her.
- Vanaprastha stage starts when the householder’s skin wrinkles and his hair becomes grey And has grandchildren, then he should depart into the forest with his wife, without any family attachment and live a sacred life in the forest by controlling his senses.It is said so because by this age the person has fulfilled his entire responsibility of the family.
- Sanyasa ashrama is the last stage of life and this is the time for renunciation. one has to lay down all his commitments and responsibilities and should become a wandering Ascetic / Monk.
Purushartha and Chatushtaya
- The word Purushartha and Chatushtaya have similar meanings – The purpose or the objective of human life.These purusharth are the guiding principle of life of each individual at all stages.
- Meaning – Object of human pursuit :: It is the basic principle of Indian social ethics.
- The Purusharth (Chatushtaya) describes four objectives of every person’s life that is — Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.
- Description :–
- Dharma ( The principle of religiousness) :- It is the most fundamental and important principle of It means to hold together to sustain and to preserve together.It is very important to maintain the stability in society.It also means a moral code of conduct to be observed by all human beings in every sphere of their activity.
- Artha (Wealth) :– The artha means economic prosperity such as wealth and power.But it should be by honest means.It helps to sustain and enrich life.Its significance is described by Koutilya’s Arthashastra.
- Kama (Desire or Pleasure) :- It means the desire in man for enjoyment and satisfaction of life of the senses.The Kama involves sexual,emotion,aesthetic & instinctive life.
- Moksha :- It is the ending aim of everyone’s life,to achieve salvation.It is the supreme aspiration of man.In different religion it has different name – nirvana in buddhism,kaivalya in jainism and Moksha in mimansa.
This article is written by Ritik Sahu