Counter Culture: The Reality of Hierarchies in India

INDIA, “Independent Nation Declared In August”


Read it somewhere but some prefer to refer this Nation as Bharat or Hindustan. What come to an outsider’s mind when they think about Bharat are Himalayas, ancient Sanskrit (which is believed to be the mother of various languages in the world), Gautama Buddha, Vedas, Rishis, Taj Mahal, and Unity in Diversity etc. There are on the brighter side but on flip of the coin, Bharat is also well known for Black Magic, Myths, Caste system etc. Throughout this article I am going to bring certain misconceptions to light about present “Hierarchical Caste System” of this nation.

Origin: Vedas the Holy Scriptures revered by ancient Indians defined their way of living. Vedas are classified into 4 categories Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvanaveda, written in ancient Sanskrit, these scriptures comprises of worldly knowledge that helped mankind to prosper. The first mention of grouping a society is in Rigveda; “Jaati & Varna”.

Jaati: Jaati means a classification based on source of origin. Nyaya Sutra states “Samaanaprasavaatmika Jaatih” or those having similar birth source form a Jaati.

Rishis classified 4 categories as source of origin:

1)Udbhija (evolved out of ground like plants)

2)Andaja (evolved out of eggs like birds and reptiles)

3)Pindaja (mammals) and

4)Ushmaj (reproducing due to temperature and ambient conditions like virus, bacteria etc).

A particular Jaati will have similar physical characteristics, one cannot change from one Jaati to another and cannot cross-breed, according to this entire human race belongs to one Jaati the way animals, plants and birds forms unique Jaati’s respectively. This Jaati is created by almighty.


Varna: ‘Varna’ means one that is adopted by choice. While ‘Jaati’ is creation of God, Varna is our own choice. Vedas mentions 4 categories of Varna to choose from, they are Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

Those involved in intellectual activities have chosen ‘Brahmana Varna.’

Those into defence and warfare chose ‘Kshatriya Varna.’

Those in economics and animal rearing chose ‘Vaishya Varna’ and those involved in other support functions chose ‘Shudra Varna.’

They refer merely to various choices of professions and have nothing to do with any Jaati or birth that is why Vedic Dharma is called ‘Varnashram Dharma.

The word Varna itself implies that this is based on complete freedom of choice and meritocracy. There are piles of facts which prove that ancient Indians strictly followed meritocracy to choose their Varna and didn’t follow inheritance.

Few examples from Vedic texts:

  1. Aitareya Rishi was son of a Daasa or criminal but became a Brahmin of highest order and wrote Aitareya Brahman and Aitareyopanishad. Aitareya Brahman is considered critical to understand Rigveda
  2. Ailush Rishi was son of a Daasi, gambler and of low character. However he researched on Rigveda and made several discoveries. Not only was he invited by Rishis but also made an Acharya. (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)
  3. Prishadh was son of King Daksha but became a Shudra. Further he did Tapasya to achieve salvation after repenting.

(Vishnu Puran 4.1.14)

  1. Dhrist was son of Nabhag (Vaishya) but became Brahmin and his son became Kshatriya (Vishnu Puran 4.2.2)

In a nut shell ancient Indians followed grouping of society purely on meritocracy and not on inheritance, people of that period helped each other in all walks of life,

Brahmins helped others in spreading the knowledge and discipline, Vaishya’s helped others through cultivation and trading, Kshatriya’s helped others by protecting them from invaders/enemies and Shudra’s helped others in laborious duties like cleaning, plumbing, carpentry etc.

They choose their Varna depending on each individuals capabilities, to them Varna is something like a degree earned through talent and not by birth.

Invasions which lasted over hundreds of years corrupted the fabric of this society, people started following inheritance and forgot meritocracy, greedy fell in thirst for power, our own kin and kith were pitted against each other, un-touchability and inequality came into existence.

Invaders looted our wealth and destroyed our knowledge base by burning down our libraries and demolishing our universities. Indian history is been distorted and re-written. According to British, until the invasion of India by Alexander the Great, there was nothing worth mentioning in India. After Alexander, the Greeks taught civilization to Indians, and gave them the Western ideas but in reality this nation is far ahead in wealth and culture thousands of years before Alexander’s invasion (“Nalanda University” which is referred to be the first of its kind in entire world was established, many scientific inventions were made years before Alexander’s invasion), at last British well bringing “Divide and Rule policy” into existence by planting the seeds of hierarchies in society which changed the face of this nation that you see as present day India or Bharat or Hindustan.

In present day India Varna & Jaati is been replaced by Caste & Creed, caste has become the buzz word to gain political mileage, instead of helping each other people are in arms against each other, now their battle is not against enemies; instead they fight against their own kith & kin.

The meaning of Varna is been re-written by some as skin color and that convention is been strongly followed by the members of certain castes. Castes are been categorized as Upper, middle and lower castes and therefore prioritized. Efforts are been rife to keep the people of this nation divided forever on the basis of wealth, language, caste, skin color, food habits and by every possible means.

Education and Employment is allotted on the basis of caste and not on meritocracy, individuals from certain communities are been pardoned even they commit most heinous acts, Help and support is not reaching in the same proportion to certain section of people. News channels works only for certain sections of society, political parties mushroomed one each for individual communities. If a woman gets raped which is a most heinous act, it makes to the headlines as a “Dalit Woman gets raped” highlighting the caste for political mileage, if some gets brutally murdered media houses cry foul saying someone who belongs to minority community got killed, importance is given to the caste or community rather to poignancy. Rich and celebrated speak about intolerance and in the gamut of all these happenings one who suffers is the common man, who actually cares for people of all communities, whose conscience still sticks to the concept of ancient Varna/Jaati , who sheds a drop of tear for the sufferings of their kith and kin, who lends their helping hand for the needy irrespective of caste and creed.

Yes, it’s the common man who is feeling ashamed when anti nationalists are getting pictured as national heroes, it’s the common man who’s feeling the burnt when the suicide of a student who belongs to a certain community is blown out of proportion by media houses without taking into consideration why he was punished. For them supporting a terrorist or abusing the most revered “Swamy Vivekananda” on social media is freedom of expression which is the basic right provided by the Indian constitution whilst moral values and common sense is of no significance. Political parties are adding fuel to the fire by paying  media houses and historians to distort the facts and fed people with corrupt ideologies.

We are going to celebrate 70 years of Independence in few months from now ignoring the fact that even after British left our obsession to their policies didn’t lost, division of people according to hierarchies is deep rooted in the society to the extent that it had become a comfort zone and no one wants to come out of it though the integrity of this Nation is at stake. Constitution is been tweaked to please some sections of the society boosting the “Divide & Rule” policy that British invented, thousands of miles away British might be smiling in disguise for their success when we are getting ready to celebrate 70 years of Independence.  


Change should start from one’s conscience, it won’t happen either by preaching or forcing. Before hating Bharat’s ancient way of life know how the facts are been distorted and start to believe in our rich culture, know that Vedic scriptures are not gospels of particular religion, start falling back to the rules & regulations specked by our fore fathers, support meritocracy and equality, give up inheritance and pave way for future generations to make our Nation proud.

Image Source: [1], [2], [3] 

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