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Cast System was Social Class System

In the Vedic period, the status of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras were all the same. It was not a caste system, but a class system. Which was fundamentally based on the strengths and abilities of each individual. The Brahmins were specialized in creating literature in sanskrit language, preserving the sacred texts and carrying out various types of rituals. Functioning as intellectual leadership, they also restricted social mobility between the varnas, as in the fields of science, war, literature, religion and the environment. The proper enunciation of verses in ritual was considered essential for prosperity and success in war and harvests. Kshatriyas amassed wealth and many commissioned the performance of sacrifices. Kshatriyas helped in administering the polity, maintained the structure of society and the economy of a tribe and helped in maintaining law and order. In the Early Vedic Period all the three upper classes Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas were considered as relatively equal Arya, but in the Later Vedic Age the Brahmins and Kshatriyas became upper class. The Vaishyas were pastoralists and farmers, the Shudras were the lower class, they included artisans and were meant to serve the upper three classes. As the caste system became deep-rooted there were many restrictions and rules which were to be followed. Cattle were held in high esteem and frequently appear in Rig-Vedic hymns, Goddesses were often compared to cows and Gods to bulls. Agriculture grew more prominent with time as the community gradually began to settle down in Post-Rig-Vedic times. The economy was based on bartering with cattle and other valuables such as salt or metals. Families were patrilineal and people prayed for the abundance of sons. The Society was strictly organized in a system of four varnas (classes, to be distinguished from caste, jati). The concept of ‘ Varna’ (class) and the rules of marriage were rigid as is evident from Vedic verses.


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