Caste System Meaning Definition & Characteristics of Caste System

Sun, 11/04/2012 - 05:48 -- Umar Farooq

Meaning of Caste System

The origin of the word caste found differently. Some says that “caste” meaning lineage. In other books the term caste was derived from from Spanish word “Casta” meaning breed or race. It means that the people of the same caste belonging to the same race. The caste system today is still existent, but not in its worst form. It is because of media, education and modern means of communication available to the people. Though the law was passed in 1962 against illegal discrimination of undoubtable caste but it this evil still exist in today’s world.

Definition of Caste System

There are some important definitions of caste system give below:

  1. According to Colley, “when a class is somewhat hereditary, we call it caste”.
  2. “When status is pre-determined that men are born without any change in their fortune, the class takes the extreme form of caste”.
  3. Someone can define it as the extreme form of class is called caste or people belonging to the same breed or race.

Characteristics of Caste System

There are some important characteristics of a caste system.

Segmental Division

In segmental division of caste system, a society is divided into different segments. In this segmental division the status or position of an individual is recognized by birth not by ability or money. Caste confined the behavior of an individual in segmental division and described punishment for the violators.

Group Hierarchy

It divides a group into lower and upper groups. Those who are on the top of such groups or segments are considered pure if they compare to those who are at the bottom. Group hierarchy exists both in social and religious class and everyone is limited to remain in their own group.

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Restriction on Marriages

There are two types of people in every caste which is upper and lower. Those who belong to one caste are restricted and are not allowed to keep in touch with other caste in form of marriages or any other social interaction. There is violation in both caste system for one another that is why they cannot marry outside the same caste.

Religious Disability

Those belonging to lower caste system are religiously disabled. They are not allowed to participate in any religious activities. The upper caste people are the only one to participate in religious activities. There are severe social and religious disabilities in caste system.

Limited Choice of Occupation

Any individual belonging to any caste system today cannot choose the profession of another caste. There are limits for everyone in their caste system while choosing occupation. The occupation is described and predefined by birth for every caste. In caste system of India everyone is stuck to certain occupations and cannot cross the limits.

All these characteristics of caste system are those which are running the caste system. No change is allowed in the predefined rule and regulation for the caste systems.