Talk:Caste system in India

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Removed quotes[edit]

I removed these quotes as I found them non-notable:

  • Historically, the insistence on including caste among the criteria for Hinduism is not so innocent: it was part of the British 'divide and rule' strategy against the Freedom Movement. (...) These criteria were calculated to exclude the lowest castes and certain sects, regardless of their beliefs and Hindu practices... The aim was to fragment Hindu society: 'Given the upper caste character of the leaders of the Swadeshi movement, this 'test' was designed to encourage the detachment of low castes from the 'Hindu' category, reducing the numbers on whose behalf the upper castes claimed to speak.' The 'test' in effect implemented a suggestion by Muslim League leader Ameer Ali (1909) to detach the lower castes from the Hindu category. Ever since, it has remained a constant in anti-Hindu circles to maximize the importance of caste, and in Hindu Revivalist circles to work for its decrease in importance or even its ultimate abolition.
    • P. Datta, Elst, K. in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743, with quote from Pradip Kumar Datta: Dying Hindus, Economic and Political Weekly, 19-6-1993, p. 1306.
  • Caste, as we know it today, is not in fact some unchanged survival of ancient India, not some single system that reflects a core civilizational value, not a basic expression of Indian tradition. Rather, I will argue that caste (again, as we know it today) is a modern phenomenon, that it is, specifically, the product of an historical encounter between India and Western colonial rule. By this I do not mean to imply that it was simply invented by the too clever British, now credited with so many imperial patents that what began as colonial critique has turned into another form of imperial adulation. But I am suggesting that it was under the British that “caste” became a single term capable of expressing, organizing, and above all “systematizing” India’s diverse forms of social identity, community, and organization. This was achieved through an identifiable (if contested) ideological canon as the result of a concrete encounter with colonial modernity during two hundred years of British domination. In short, colonialism made caste what it is today.
    • Dirks, Nicholas B. (2001), Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of New India, ISBN 978-0-691-08895-2, page 5
  • 'It would be a mistake to suppose that Buddhism and Jainism were directed from the outset consciously in opposition to the caste system. Caste, in fact, at the time of the rise of Buddhism was only beginning to develop; and in later days, when Buddhism commenced its missionary careers, it took caste with it into regions where upto that time the institution had not penetrated.'
    • Sir W.W. Hunter: W.W. Hunter: Imperial Gazetteer 1907; quoted in J. Kulkarni: Historical Truths, p.27.
  • Discussing the early Vedic period, V.M. Apte says that the Rig Veda refers to the varnas in a way that cannot be considered discriminatory or hierarchical. He concludes that the Brahmins did not constitute an exclusive caste or race and the prerogative of composing hymns and officating at the services of the deities in the age of the Rig Veda was not entirely confined to men of priestly families. Even the other vocations such as being a poet or a physician were more flexible. Apte emphasizes that in the Rig Veda, there is not even a remote hint of prohibitions of inter-dining or intermarrying among the varnas; these are the prohibitions that have been considered the most serious forms of oppression in recent times.
  • In the subsequent Smriti period... Some historians speculate that this was the period when foreign kings became established in certain parts of India, and as a result of this, or as a reaction to it, there emerged a practice to fix legal rights based on varnas. it could be that brahmins came up with such laws in order to limit the rights of the foreign kshatriya kings at the time.
    • The Battle for Sanksrit by Rajiv Malhotra
  • In fact, there is no record that Indian society on a large scale decided to abandon identities based on varna or jati as a result of the teachings of the Buddha.
  • G.C. Pande, the noted Sanskrit scholar, says that only the Dharmashastra in the post-Vedic period started to pervert the original idea of varna by conflating it with jati. And this period is when the ritual superiority of the brahmins got converted into a more or less formal hereditary right of priesthood.
    • The Battle for Sanksrit by Rajiv Malhotra
  • The British census by Lord Risley ... was the basis for creating the caste hierarchy on birth on a permanent basis.
    • The Battle for Sanksrit by Rajiv Malhotra
  • Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata says the following: The marks of the shudra are found in a brahmin; but a shudra is not necessarily a shudra nor a brahmin a brahmin. in whomever a brahmin's marks are found, he is known as a brahmin and in whomever they are not found, him we designate as a shudra.
  • British India... was as much infected by caste as Indian India.
    • Philip Mason, quoted in Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire by David Cannadine
  • A budding line in Hindu Revivalist history-rewriting, rather well in touch with modem Western scholarship, is to question this alleged age-old rigidity of caste and emphasize the relative fluidity of the system before British policies and the census classifications rigidified it. Even Jawaharlal Nehru observed: 'But I think that the conception of Hindu society as a very conservative society (...) is not quite correct. In the past, changes took place not by legislation but by custom; by the people themselves changing.'
    • Nehru in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743, with reference to Nehru, Nehru talking to Tibor Mende: Conversations with Mr. Nehru, p. 107.
  • The new self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without dharma.
    • Ram Swarup: “Logic behind Perversion of Caste”, Indian Express, 13-9-1996.
  • Brahmin writers have not only codified and justified the existing caste system, and possibly hardened it; in the final editing of many influential classics of Puranic Hinduism, they have also unnecessarily extended caste distinction beyond the social sphere, incorporating spiritual liberation in the calculus of karma and caste duties.... 'There has been an enormous shift in attitudes between the period of the former, among the earlier additions, and the latter, among the latest parts included in the text', viz. an appalling hardening of caste discrimination. The harsh caste discrimination of recent centuries is a vaguely datable innovation in Hindu social history, not an age-old conditions.... This contrast between less casteism in antiquity and more casteism in the Christian era is even proven by Buddhist anti-caste polemic itself. As Maurice Winternitz ... notes about the Vajrasûchî, a text attributed to the Brahmin-born monk Ashvaghosha: 'This work refutes the Brahmanical caste system very cuttingly. The author (...) seeks to prove from the Brahmanical texts themselves, by quotations from the Veda, the Mahâbhârata and the law book of Manu, how frail the claims of the Brahman caste are.'
    • M. Winternitz, J. Brockington, Elst K., in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743, with quote from J. L. Brockington: Righteous Rama, p.158. and from Maurice Winternitz (A History of Indian Literature, vol.2, p.265-66)