The Truth About The Caste System & How We Can End It

Virender Sehwag asks Sadhguru to illuminate the truth about the caste system in India and how we can move beyond it to establish greater inclusivity and equality.
Illustration of father teaching blacksmith to son | The Truth About The Caste System & How We Can End It
 

Virender Sehwag: Namaskaram Sadhguru! I want to know the truth about our Indian caste system. How can we ensure more inclusiveness and equality?

Sadhguru: Namaskaram Viru. We must understand that this caste system essentially began as division of labor. Unfortunately, over a period of time, these divisions became discriminatory and people started working against each other. 

For a society to function, a certain number of people in the population must be skilled artisans, others should take care of business, some should take care of administration, and some others should take care of the education and spiritual process for the community. Like this, they made four basic divisions

We must also understand that in ancient times, there were no engineering schools and medical schools…Skills were transmitted from generation to generation by maintaining this caste system.

We must also understand that in ancient times, there were no engineering schools and medical schools. If your father was a carpenter, you learned carpentry at home from your childhood and became a good carpenter. Skills were transmitted from generation to generation by maintaining this caste system. 

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a goldsmith started thinking he is superior to a blacksmith. Though a blacksmith’s work may be far more useful to society than a goldsmith’s, somehow one thought he was superior to the other and over generations, this superiority got established. In trying to establish this superiority, all kinds of exploitative processes happened, and it came to a place where caste system has manifested itself almost like apartheid.

Largely, transfer of skill does not happen through family anymore. The caste system is no longer relevant in that context.

Terrible things have been done to people for a few hundred years. In many villages in India, the people who are considered to be lower caste – whom you call Dalits – still do not have even basic human rights. Though much has changed in the last twenty-five to thirty years, many horribly undesirable things still keep happening in our country. 

 

What is the way out of this? One thing is, skills can be transmitted in many different ways today. We have educational and technological institutions. Largely, transfer of skill does not happen through family anymore. The caste system is no longer relevant in that context.

But the caste system is still functioning in the context of social security. People take care of their own clan and caste. They will always reach out to people in their caste who are in trouble. Until we establish a nationwide social security system for every citizen in this country, the caste system will continue to exist to some extent. 

It is very important that we bring a nationwide social security system and an education system which will transmit skills to everyone according to their aptitude.

Just trying to abolish the caste system and work against it will not produce results. People are still clinging together to the system mainly because of the social security it provides. It is very important that we bring a nationwide social security system and an education system which will transmit skills to everyone according to their aptitude. When this happens, the relevance of the caste system will completely disappear. Once that happens, I think caste system will die a natural death.

Editor's Note: Whether you're struggling with a controversial query, feeling puzzled about a taboo topic, or just burning with a question that no one else is willing to answer, now is your chance to ask! Ask Sadhguru your questions at UnplugWithSadhguru.org.

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