Caste system is one of the unique social institution in India. It introduced social stratification in Indian society. casteism is one of the form of communalism. In communalism two or more religious communities fights with each other and in casteism two or more castes and subcastes have conflicts with each other. e.g. Thousands of castes and sub-castes in Hinduism has been under constant conflicts. There are conflicts in Shia and Sunni in Islam and also the same thing we found recently in Akal Takht and Dera saccha Sauda. The same kind of inequalities, conflicts are going on among all religions and their castes.
If we have to understand the problem of caste system in India we have to trace the ancient past of Rigveda. It is mostly believed that 10th mandala of Rigveda consists of purushasukta hymn which mentions about the evolution of Varna system. According to their theory, there was a sacrifice being performed and from it there appeared a Giant purasha. Then there was birth of Brahmins from the mouth of Purusha, birth of Kshyatriyas from shoulders, birth of Vaisyas from thighs and birth of the Sudras from the feet of the purusha.
Though some believe it a mythology but the established fact is that these Varnas were practically followed by the society. The ati- sudras had no place in the Varna System. In the beginning, varna system was flexible, anyone could enter into any varna by the merits of his own. But in later vedic period these were restricted and the varna system became the caste system. This varna system was converted to Caste System for the benefit of the top most Varnas. In a caste there came many sub-castes. The members of the caste system were forbidden to marry, dining or other family relations outside their own castes and subcastes. Caste system in India is so rigid that the lower castes are always looked down upon as inferior and subordinate to the upper castes. Even they are treated lower than the birds & animals.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar studied the Indian caste system while he was studying in Columbia University (U.S.A.) He presented a research paper before the anthropological seminar based on castes in India in 1916. He also wrote a Presidential Address to Jatpat Todak Mandal of Lahore in the year 1936 under the title of ‘Annihilation of Castes’. These are the published books now. He also had study about varna system and Sanskrit texts of Hindu religion. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar rightly described nature of caste system in India as a multi-storied building without stair cases. He made the exposition of the functions of caste system as well. The authority over the study of Caste System.
According to Varna system the varna born from upper part of the body will have upper status and lower part, the lower status. These varnas were coverted into castes, castes into sub-castes. Then there came rise of untouchability and they were totally segregated from the main-stream of the society. Many times this untouchability was said to be divinely ordained and it was became the religious duty of the touchable person to observe untouchability and the duty of untouchable to behave like untouchable. Dr B. R. Ambedkar devoted his whole life for the annihilation of castes and untouchability.
When one caste asserts that his caste is superior to other castes and lower castes are segregated, boycotted, treated downtrodden, treated untouchables, inflicted injustice on them, that said to be the Casteism.
According M. N. Srinivas “Caste is a hereditary endogamous, usually localized group, having traditional association with an occupation and a particular position in the local hierarchy of caste consciousness for personal gains and creating unrest in the society”.