Brahmanical Theory on caste system

Brahmanical Theory on caste system

By second century AD, a Tamil poet named Kapilar noted  that caste system was planted in this country by the Brahmanas. Centuries later, in 1917, Abbe Dubois, a French missionary gave  credence to this notion.  He  stated that the caste system originated and developed in India because of the Brahmanas. He maintained that the caste system is an ingenious device made by the Brahmanas for the Brahmanas. The Brahamanas imposed restrictions on eating and drinking, marriage, social relations, etc., with the non-Brahmanas to preserve their purity necessary for the sacerdotal functions they were to perform. At the same time they conferred on themselves a high social status and special privileges and prerogatives. The shastras were also turned to be in their support. They declared that whatever a Brahmana says is a social  norm and binding on others. The entire property of the society belongs to the Brahmanas. All the three varnas shall pay obeisance to them. It is they who are visible lords of the earth. The salvation of individuals and society can come konly through the Brahmanas without their ministry, the prayers and offerings of the people will not be accepted by gods.  It is through them that the kings can earn punya (‘spiritual merit”). They shall rule the land only in accordance with the instructions by the Brahmanas. Nothing injurious can be done to the Brahmanas under any circumstance, on any account.

G.S.Ghurye also believes in the role of the Brahmanas in the origin of caste and supports the Brahmanical theory.  He maintains that when the Aryas entered India, in the first instance, they encountered a dark people whom they contemptuously called the Sasas or Dasyus, meaning “sons of darkness”. The Aryans had already had three well-defined classes – according to Rig Veda (VIII, 35,16-18), the Brahman (Brahmana), Kshatram (Kshatriya), and Visah (Vaisya) among them and inter-marriage was permitted between them.  When the indigenous Dasas were conquered in the encounter, a fourth class was formulated with them and that class was labeled the Sudras.  The Brahmanical literature contemplates the Sudra class as in contradistinction to the other three classes. Because of their aboriginal ancestry, the Sudras were despised and kept  away from the mainstream of social life. They were not allowed to practice the religious worship developed in the style of Brahmanic  culture. Even their presence was forbidden in the sacrificial hall. The first three classes were first enjoined not to marry a sudra female before any other restriction of an endogamous nature was tried to be promulgated. A Sudra male trying to marry a Brahmana female was the greatest sacrilege that could be perpetrated against society. By excluding the Sudras thus from religious and social communion, the Aryans attempted to uphold and preserve the Brahmanic culture.

An  important ingredient of the Brahmanic  culture is the notion of ceremonial purity. It is this idea that underlies the caste rules seeking to prescribe endogamy and to prohibit inter marriage, especially marriage with the Sudras; and to debar the Sudras from learning and reciting the sacred vedic hymns: and to exclude  them from performing the sacred Vedic  rites and sacrifices. Considering all these things to be the result of the attempt on the part of the upholders of the Brahmanic culture to preserve their purity, physical and ceremonial and cultural integrity, Ghurye conclude  that “caste in India  is a Brahmanic child of Indo-Aryan culture, cradled in the land of the Ganges and the Jamuna and thence transferred to other parts of the country.”