Gandhi as a defender of the caste system.

  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators
  • Vaishyas: cattle herders, agriculturists, artisans and merchants
  • Shudras: labourers and service providers.
Source: Shutterstock
  • For Gandhi, the caste system was “a social blueprint for the nation”, and one idea was to “abolish untouchability” by integrating the untouchables into the cast system.
  • According to Gandhi, the caste system is “natural”, and it exists everywhere in the world but in different forms.
  • The caste system was not based on inequality and irrationality. According to Gandhi, the caste system provides equality and rationality providing “ideal nationhood”, inherited personal qualities and needs for moral purification.
  • Gandhi’s view was that democracy, as based on political representation, citizenship and human rights, would lead to the abolishment of the caste system. Therefore, his idea was that democracy should be adjusted to the caste system.
  • Regarding the “Law of Varna”, Gandhi saw it as an essential part of Hindu religion based on pre-determination of profession and respect for ancestors. For Gandhi, the caste system was not a human invention but a “natural law” and that those who did not respect nor followed the caste system, as by choosing professions that were “outside” of their casts, were doing damage and violence to themselves.
  • According to Gandhi, individual self-realization was only possible by following the Law of Varna and that the individual could only be free by being a member of one of the casts — “the division into varnas can do no harm to individuality”.
  • For Gandhi, Varna(the caste system) was a system to achieve “individual spirituality” and to avoid conflicts of communism and capitalism.
  • Gandhi was in favour of “living wage” to secure the caste system and social cohesion and to prevent economic competition. He justified such views by arguing that otherwise, everyone would aspire to become a doctor or lawyer by seeking high-paid jobs.
  • In his earlier writings, Gandhi defended untouchability as “a necessary institution” and did not want to abolish that category because it was seen as essential for upholding the caste system.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store