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Archive for August 26, 2018

Varna and Jati aka ‘Caste’ System Was Hugely Damaging to Indians: 1

August 26, 2018 23 comments

I have been thinking, for some time, about writing a long-ish series on this controversial topic. To be clear, condemning it is not the controversial part, as any decent human being can clearly see that it was bad. Instead, I will talk about the incredible and systematic levels of damage caused by that system, both in the past and to an a lesser extent, even today. Along the way, readers will find out why I refer to what most western readers call ‘caste’ as Varna and Jati systems. As you will also find out, both those two systems are actually somewhat independent of each other, but combine in real life to create a far bigger fuckup than either one could by itself.

In future parts of this series- I will show you the connection between Hinduism ceasing to be a proselytizing religion and formation of a fairly rigid ‘caste’ system at around the same time (between the 4th-7th century AD). I will also explain why endogenous technological innovation of any sort ceased at round the same time. You will see the connection between the ‘caste’ system and medieval Hindu armies barely using archers (unlike previous eras) and never adopting the crossbow. We will also go into some detail about how belief in the ‘caste’ fragmented Indian society to such an extent that even small invading armies (Muslims) or a smaller bunch of merchants (British) could conquer large parts of India.

In subsequent parts, I will talk about how belief in the ‘caste’ system made it ridiculously easy for foreign Non-Hindu rulers to keep ruling India for centuries. I hope to show you why belief in the ‘caste’ system is so closely linked to the unusually high rate of treachery seen throughout Indian history. We will go into the connection of this belief with the apparent lack of interest in recording real history by Indians. You will find out how this belief affected who was in charge of artillery and why guns were looked down upon as weapons of war. You will also see how this belief retarded the adoption of newer military tactics in India and does (to a lesser extent) even today.

At the risk of making this preamble a bit too long, I hope to show you how this belief system destroyed the ability of Indians to study and figure out other people (especially their adversaries) with tragic results. You will start understanding such oddities as why Indians ignored the printing press for almost 300 years or why Indian kings never built warships during the era of sail even though they had the craftsmen and raw material to do so. Hopefully you will understand why many Indians are obsessed with vegetarianism though they have zero interest in animal welfare.. and yes, it has something to do with ‘caste’ system. Or why they pay so much attention to symbolic and ritualistic bullshit as opposed to actual actions and behavior.

I also hope to cover topics such as how the low social status of skilled craftsman and other people who work with their hands had a huge negative effect on technological progress in India. You will finally understand why China had no problem becoming ‘the world’s factory’ while India struggles (and has historically struggled) with manufacturing stuff. You might also understand why post-1947 India has produced an almost continuous stream of ineffectual and highly corrupt leaders (at national as well as regional levels) with almost no vision or capacity for strategic thought.. and yes, it has something to do with long-term secondary effects of belief in ‘caste’ system.

Well.. we are already at a bit over 600 words and the first topic I want to explore is going to take almost (or over) a thousand. So, I will close this part by talking a bit about the next one. In case you are wondering, the first topic is basically an introduction to the concept of Varna and Jati and how they often overlap and complement each other in ancient India. I will focus on how both evolved from something analogous to ‘class’ and ‘vocation’ respectively to the grotesque system they later became- and why this occurred between 4th-7th century AD. I will also talk about why so many Indians willingly went along with the ‘caste’ system at that time and yet somehow it could not spread outside the subcontinent.

What do you think? Comments?