Wednesday, May 23, 2012

India's Terrible Caste System (audio) (PRI); Wisdom Quarterly
Anand Giridharadas (Photo: Darshan Photography)
Anand Giridharadas (Darshan Photography)
Anand Giridharadas is a columnist for the New York Times and the author of India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking.
He was born in Cleveland, USA, to Indian immigrant parents.
They came from different castes (part brahmin) and raised him to ignore the proscriptions of the caste system. He talks with The World’s Marco Werman about how caste came into being and how India is gradually shaking free of it.
Caste System Origins
Wisdom Quarterly
Giridharadas sticks to a humanistic theory, an almost evolutionary explanation that all human societies go through.
Sticking to these terms and modern assumptions, he carefully avoids mentioning what all brahmins know:
There was a strong alien or extraterrestrial influence or at least a cynical alien justification for the entire system of  inequality.
According to the ancient Vedas -- India's sacred texts derived from the far more ancient Indus River Valley Civilizations the caste system was dictated from above. It was instituted by extraterrestrial invaders, whether one imagines them to have been maleficent conquerors or beneficent creators.
Judeo-Christian apologists have interpreted this hierarchical order as "divinely ordained" or decreed -- just as India's "warrior caste" (kshtriyas), which the Buddha completely renounced, claims the divine right of rule in the East and West.

Contrary to the brahmins (brahmanas), who were fond of retaining their "elite" status as priests and sometimes even as recluses (shramanas).
Although the brahmins may claim otherwise, India did not   always consider them to be at the top of the social hierarchy. 
In some parts, particularly the northwest, the warriors (the nobility, the kings, the ruling clans) considered themselves supreme. Brahmins were considered their royal ministers, advisers, chaplains, scholars, and educators. Even then, in a sense, the brahmins ruled in a backhanded way: 
They manipulated titular "rulers" the way permanent civil servants orchestrate what presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens, and other heads of state say, plan, and actually accomplish and put into effect.
The Buddha disavowed the traditional caste system determined by birth. Instead, he promoted the position that personal responsibility and actions (karma) in this life are what really lead one to be a "brahmin" or an "outcast." We are not born meriting privilege and deference, mere outcomes of actions from past lives, we earn it in this life.
Of course, it is not only our karma now that conditions our circumstances and beauty, wealth, talents, longevity, wealth, and success. But it is more important what we do now -- how choose to respond to our circumstances -- than simply what we have inherited from the fruition of our past actions and habits.

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