Caste System

Caste System

Nowhere in the world we find people of the same country divided into so many castes (divisions) based on (the accident of) birth as in India.

            Generally, ‘caste’ system among the Hindus –only among people who are enslaved to aryan principles, proclaimed to be ‘created by God’—has the basic division of people into four castes, brahmins, kshatriyas, vaisyas and sudras. Everyone knows that his is a social hierarchy, the brahmins at the top of the ladder and each other caste is in descending order the last one considered as the most inferior and degraded one. Still, what is the reason for the prevalence of so many castes. This is because people who were divided into ‘varna’ according to the creation of God, subsequently deviated from that and got ‘mixed’ varna, due to intermixture of varnas leading to emergence of separate castes, consequent upon such lapses on moral codes enjoined upon each varna. We also find authorities for such divisions getting the name of panchama castes.

It is also mentioned by such sources that many important castes prevalent in our country came about due to this inter-mixture, consequent upon the higher caste people deviating from their moral norms and that resulting in the origin of “panchama castes”. It is also said that in Tamil Nadu, the popular and important caste of velalars belonged to this Panchama caste and that people in this caste came about by brahmin girls and kshatriya girls marrying and giving birth to children by mixing with other varnas.

            It is also mentioned that among these people called velalas, if they have their livelihood by agricultural operations they were referred to as ‘kaniyalars’ and if they were in administrative posts called as ‘velan samanthars’; books like Supra bhothakam, brahma puranam, vaikanasam, madhaviyam and sathivilakkam are authorities for this categorisation.

            If a brahmin begets children through a vaisya girl, such children were called Ambattans and if the children were born out of wedlock they were referred to as ‘kuyavars’ (potters) and ‘navithas’ (barbers).

            Similarly if a brahmin begets children with sudra women, the children born by marriage are called ‘baradhwar; or ‘Sembatwar’ and those born out of wedlock were called ‘Vettaikaran’ or ‘Veduvar’

            Similarly, if brahmin girls beget children through kshatriyas by marriage, they were referred to as ‘savarnas’ and ‘telungars’.

            If a sudra cohabits with a brahmin girl, the children were referred to as ‘chandalars’ .

            If a chandala cohabits with a brahmin girl, children were referred to as ‘chamars’ or ‘sakkiliars’ (cobblers): if chandala cohabits with a kshatriya girl the resultant children were known as ‘venugars’ (people who play venu or flute); kanagars (goldsmiths), saliars (weavers).

            Similarly if for ‘ayovaha caste’ girls (one of the castes which came about consequent to inter-mixing of lower-higher castes) children are born through relationship with nishadas, they were known as ‘bharghavas’. Similarly a number of rules are stated for having given caste names to many. These are found in Abhidana Kosak, Abhidana Chintamani—and also other books cited by Hindu pundits as authorities. Also, among many other castes considered inferior to four principal castes, children born due to mix up of high caste women-low caste men, high caste men-low caste women etc. and also people born out of wedlock are referred to as Chettiars and Asariyars. Also they are referred to in a degrading manner.

            So if we persist with caste-system, it is tantamount to our accepting these degrading remarks indirectly.

Translated by Prof.T.Marx

(‘Republic’, Editorial: (kudiarasu) 16.11.1930)