Caste System in Nepal


The phrase Caste is derived from the Portuguese phrase casta, that means lineage, breed or race. The time period “caste,” when utilized in a cultural context, is normally along side the social division in Hindu society, significantly in India though a type of the caste system was prevalent in lots of historic societies, and particularly feudal societies.

In historic India there developed a social system through which individuals have been divided into separate shut communities. These communities are recognized in English as caste. The origin of the caste system is in Hinduism but it surely affected the entire Indian society later it has transmitted to Nepal. The caste system within the non secular type is mainly a easy division of society in which there’s 4 castes organized in a hierarchy and beneath them the outcast. However socially the caste system was extra difficult, with way more castes and sub-castes and different divisions. Legally the federal government disallows the apply of caste system however has a coverage of affirmative discrimination of the backward lessons.

In Hinduism there exists 4 castes organized in a hierarchy. Anybody who doesn’t belong to certainly one of these castes is an outcast. The non secular phrase for caste is ‘Varna’. Every Varna has sure duties and rights. Every Varna members need to work in sure occupation, which solely these Varna members are allowed. Every Varna has sure sort of eating regimen. The very best Varna is of the Brahman. Members of this class are clergymen and the educated individuals of the society. The Varna after them in hierarchy is Kshatria. The members of this class are the rulers and aristocrats of the society. After them are the Vaisia. Members of this class are the landlords and businessmen of the society. After them in hierarchy is the Sudra. Members of this class are the peasants and dealing class of the society who work in non-polluting jobs. The caste hierarchy ends right here. Under these castes are the outcasts who’re untouchable to the 4 castes. These untouchables labored in degrading jobs like cleansing, sewage and many others. (Arora: 1998:84,The Idea of Impurity and Hindu caste System)

The primary three castes had social and economical rights, which the Sudra and the untouchables didn’t have. The primary three castes are additionally seen as ‘twice born’. The intention in these two births is to the pure beginning and to the ceremonial entrance to the society at a a lot later age.

Every Varna and in addition the untouchables and ethnic group in case of Nepal are divided into many communities. These communities are known as Jat or Jati (The caste can also be used as a substitute of Jat). For instance the Brahmans have Jats known as Dhakal, Bhattarai, Marasini and many others. The untouchable have Jats Kami, Damai, Sarki and Doom, Chammar within the case of terai system and Pode, Chame and many others within the case of Newar.However there is no such thing as a such division of society on the premise of caste in ethnic group though we will discover some class variations amongst this group. Every Jat members are allowed to marry solely with their Jat members. Persons are born into their Jat and it can’t be modified. As soon as if some one is born to sure forged he/she can’t be change to a different jat besides within the case of girls when they’re married they could change to different clan however not jat.If a person is born as Kami he can’t be a Brahmin and Brahmin can’t be a Kami,so caste is a everlasting attribute among the many Hindu.

Religiously anybody who doesn’t belong to the 4 Varnas is an outcast and untouchable. It means, all foreigners and non-Hindus are all presupposed to be untouchables, within the case of Nepal all of the ethnic group ought to fall on this classes however Muluki Ain has included the complete ethnic group into Caste hierarchy. However in actuality neither all foreigners nor non-Hindus have been handled as untouchables.

That is the how the caste system is meant to be in its non secular type. However in actuality it’s way more difficult and completely different from its non secular type.

1.1.Starting of the caste system

There are completely different theories in regards to the institution of the caste system. There are non secular mystical theories. There are organic theories. And there are socio-historical theories. The non secular theories clarify how the 4 Varnas have been based, however they don’t clarify how the Jats in every Varna or the untouchables have been based. In accordance the Rig Veda, the traditional Hindu ebook, the primal man Purush destroyed himself to create a human society. The completely different Varnas have been created from completely different components of his physique. The Brahmans have been created from his head; the Kshatriyas from his fingers; the Vaisias from his thighs and the Sudras from his ft. The Varna hierarchy is decided by the descending order of the completely different organs from which the Varnas have been created. Different non secular principle claims that the Varnas have been created from the physique organs of Brahma, who’s the creator of the world.

The organic principle claims that every one current issues, animated and inanimated, inherent three qualities in numerous apportionment. Sattva qualities embrace knowledge, intelligence, honesty, goodness and different optimistic qualities. Rajas embrace qualities like ardour, pleasure, valour and different passionate qualities. Tamas qualities embrace dullness, stupidity, lack of creativity and different destructive qualities. Folks with completely different doses of those inherent qualities adopted several types of occupation.

In accordance with this principle the Brahmans inherent Sattva qualities. Kshatrias and Vaisias inherent Rajas qualities and the Sudras inherent Tamas qualities. Like human beings, meals additionally inherent completely different dosage of those qualities and it impacts its eater’s intelligence. The Brahmans and the Vaisias have Sattvic eating regimen, which incorporates fruits, milk, honey, roots and greens. Many of the meats are thought of to have Tamasic qualities. Many Sudra communities eat completely different sorts of meat (however not beef) and different Tamasic meals. However the Kshatrias who had Rajasic eating regimen eat some sorts of meat like deer meat, which is taken into account to have Rajasic qualities. Many Marathas who declare to be Kshatrias eat mutton. The downside of this principle is that in numerous components of India the identical meals was generally certified to have completely different dosage of inherent qualities. For instance there have been Brahmans who eat meat, which is taken into account Tamasic meals.

The social historic principle explains the creation of the Varnas, Jats and of the untouchables. In accordance with this principle, the caste system started with the arrival of the Aryans in India. The Aryans arrived in India round 1500 BC. The truthful skinned Aryans arrived in India from south Europe and north Asia. Earlier than the Aryans there have been different communities in India of different origins. Amongst them Negrito, Mongoloid, Austroloid and Dravidian. The Negrito has bodily options just like individuals of Africa. The Mongoloid have Chinese language options. The Austroloid have options related the aboriginals of Australia. The Dravidians originate from the Mediterranean and so they have been the biggest group in India. When the Aryans arrived in India their most important contact was with the Dravidians and the Austroloid. The Aryans disregarded the native cultures. They started conquering and taking management over areas in north India and on the similar time pushed the native individuals southwards or in direction of the jungles and mountains in north India.

The Aryans organized amongst themselves in three teams. The primary group was of the soldiers and so they have been known as Rajayana, later they modified their title Rajayana to Kshatria. The second group was of the clergymen and so they have been known as Brahmans. These two teams struggled politically for management among the many Aryans. On this battle the Brahmans acquired to be the leaders of the Aryan society. The third group was of the farmers and craftsmen and so they have been known as Vaisia. The Aryans who conquered and took management over components of north India subdued the locals and made them their servants. On this course of the Vaisias who have been the farmers and the craftsmen grew to become the landlords and the businessmen of the society and the locals grew to become the peasants and the craftsmen of the society.

Afterward the Aryans who created the caste system, added to their system non-Aryans. Totally different Jats who professed completely different professions have been built-in in numerous Varnas based on their career. Different overseas invaders of historic India – Greeks, Huns, Scythains and others – who conquered components of India and created kingdoms, have been built-in within the Kshatria Varna (warrior castes). However most likely the Aryan coverage was to not combine unique Indian communities inside them and subsequently many aristocratic and warrior communities that have been in India earlier than the Aryans didn’t get the Kshatria standing.

Many of the communities that have been in India earlier than the arrival of the Aryans have been built-in within the Sudra Varna or have been made outcast relying on the professions of those communities. Communities who professed non-polluting jobs have been built-in in Sudras Varna. And communities who professed polluting professions have been made outcasts. The Brahmans are very strict about cleanliness. Previously individuals believed that illnesses may additionally unfold additionally by air and never solely by bodily contact. Maybe due to this purpose the untouchables weren’t solely disallowed to the touch the excessive caste communities however additionally they needed to stand at a sure distance from the excessive castes.

Some primary factors to mark about caste are:

1. That caste is an establishment of the Hindu faith, and wholly peculiar to that faith alone;

2. That it consists primarily of a 4 fold classification of individuals basically beneath the heads of Brahman, Kshatria, Vaisias and Sudras.

three. That caste is perpetual and immutable, and has been transmitted from technology to technology all through the ages of Hindu historical past and fantasy with out the potential for change.(V.Jayaram:1997:1,Caste System is the most important risk to Hinduism, preliminary paper posted in web,[])

2.Caste System in Nepali context

The caste system might be hint again to introduction of Muluki Ain (1854) by Jung Bahadur Rana after his return from his European tour. The Muluki Ain (1854) was a written model of social code that had been in apply for a number of centuries in Nepal. Its caste classes diverged from the 4 varnas of the classical Vedic mannequin and as a substitute had three classes to accommodate the tribal peoples between the pure and impure castes. These have been additional categorised into 5 hierarchies with the next order priority. (Harka Gurung 2005:three,Occational Papers in Sociology and Anthropology)


Thagadhari, (Wearer of holy chord)




Namasyane Matwali (Non-enslavable alcohol-drinkers)


Masyane Matwali (Enslavable alcohol drinkers)


Pani nachalne choichoto halnu naparne, (Impure however touchable castes)


Pani nachalne chiochoti halnu parne, (Impure and Untouchable castes)

The above point out classes implies that Thagadhari (Wearer of holy chord) stays within the highest hierarchy in Hindu caste system adopted by Matwali, (Non-enslavable alcohol-drinkers) and enslavable alcohol drinkers touchable caste and lastly untouchable.

Muluki Ain imposes the caste system in Nepal as a way to incorporate individuals of various origin to deliver beneath one umbrella of caste system. The primary classes of Thagadhari which embrace Parbate Brahmin and Chettri are the within the larger classes of hierarchy the place as Brahmins of Terai and Newari Brahmin as per Muluki Ain don’t fall beneath this classes.

Matwali group, salvable and enslavable falls beneath second classes, which embrace the individuals of ethnic origin and Brahmins of terai and Newari Brahmins. It additionally consists of these individuals within the non-enslavable group equivalent to Magar, Gurung, Rai, and Limbu and many others and enslavable are Tamang, Chepang, Thami and many others.

Untouchable are the classes of varnas system in historic Manu’s Code however some individuals equivalent to Musalman and foreigners as properly falls beneath these classes Untouchables are divided into Pani nachalne choichoto halnu naparne, (Impure however touchable castes) and Pani nachalne chiochoti halnu parne, (Impure and Untouchable castes). In current day context caste system falls beneath Hindu varna system i.e,Brahmin,Khatria Vaisias and Sudra respectively as a substitute of following Muluki Ain’s codification, as ethnic group don’t observe the caste system as a result of they’ve their very own tradition, custom ,faith and values system which don’t fall beneath caste system.

three. Purity and impurities in caste system

There are completely different polluting components in Hindu caste system.

three.1 Impurity associated to Dying

The ceremonies are of the ultimate life -cycle rites these thought of with dying are sense by no means actually full. (Lynn Bennett, 1983:92. Harmful Wives and Sacred Sisters) When some one dies the very best rank of Sudham is the one which must be noticed whereas performing rituals related with dying anniversaries, which is named Sraadha Sudham or colloquially Sudham.When an individual is died son or the shut relative who’re eligible to carry out the sradham has to debar all unpolluted meals and he shouldn’t contact anybody. For this operate, garments, that are worn on the sooner day must be washed and dried yesterday worn garments will not be permitted to be worn. For performing these rituals, one ought to bathe within the morning within the close by river or at residence the place it’s possible. Members dip garments in water in the course of the first tub and unfold them within the solar for drying earlier than continuing to Sandhyaavandanam. Solely these garments (even when solely partly dried) are allowed in the course of the ritual.This impurity proceed for 13 days, on the 13 day a purification ritual is performed which is named Suddhai or Sraadha Sudham.(Arora:1998:39)

2. Impurities associated to beginning

When a toddler is born in Hindu household the entire household grow to be impure and so they need to observe the principles as per Hindu ritual. Probably the most effected is the mom of kid. She is taken into account as impure for 11 days the place she will be able to’t contact members of the family and he or she has been positioned in remoted place along with her child. Child would not think about as impure on this case. On the eleventh day the priest provides the toddler its secret non secular title.” The ceremony mark the end of birth pollution period” (Lynn Bennett, 1983:57)

three.three Impurity associated to menstruation

If a woman or girl menstruates, she ought to stay in full isolation for 4 days and on the fourth day, a particular operate or purification must be carried out by pouring drops of water combine with urine of cow or dipping any golden ornaments in water within the conventional method by sprinkling it. After finishing tub, the ladies symbolically clear her and he or she grow to be pure after fourth day. Throughout this for days she can’t contact any elder male family members and he or she both capable of contact any form of fluid include objects, if she touches it’s thought of as impure. This is without doubt one of the shot interval impurities.

1. Impurity associated with funeral

When some one dies many male members observe to funeral procession to ghat (Funeral web site) Throughout this time these member who goes to ghat for funeral ceremony are thought of as polluted and they don’t seem to be capable of enter the home till they carry out the purification ritual. Normally purification ritual follows by having tub in close by river or at residence and altering clear costume and sprinkling water dipped in gold.

four. Caste system and untouchable

The untouchablity function within the caste system is without doubt one of the cruelest options of the caste system. It’s seen by many as one of many strongest racist phenomenon on this planet.

Within the Hindu societies individuals who labored in ignominious, polluting and unclean occupations have been seen as polluting peoples and have been subsequently thought of as untouchables. The untouchables had nearly no rights within the society. In several components of Nepal they have been handled in numerous methods. In some areas the perspective in direction of the untouchables was harsh and strict. In different areas it was much less strict. . (Arora: 1998:104,Idea of Impurity and Hindu caste System)

In areas the place the perspective was much less strict the untouchables have been seen as polluting individuals and their dwellings have been at a distance from the settlements of upper caste. The untouchables weren’t allowed to the touch individuals from the upper caste. They weren’t allowed to enter homes of the upper caste. They weren’t allowed to enter the temples. They weren’t allowed to make use of the identical wells utilized by the upper caste individuals. In public events they have been compelled to take a seat at a distance from the upper caste. In areas the place the perspective in direction of the untouchables have been extra extreme, not solely touching them was seen polluting, but additionally even a contact with their shadow was seen as polluting. It’s apparent that a lot of the trades pursued by impure castes are a way related to impurity. (Andras Hoffer2004: 74)

If, due to any purpose, there was a contact between an untouchable and a member of the excessive caste, the upper caste member grew to become defiled and needed to immerse or wash himself with water to be purified. In strict societies, particularly among the many ‘Twice Born’ (the three high Varnas) the touched ‘Twice Born’ additionally needed to cross by some non secular ceremonies to purify him from the air pollution. If the untouchable entered a home and touched issues of a excessive caste, the members used to clean or clear the locations the place the untouchable touched and stepped.

In some incidences the untouchables who related to the excessive caste members have been crushed and even murdered for that purpose. Some larger hierarchy the orthodox Hindus handled anybody who labored in any form of polluting job as untouchable and didn’t have any contact with them. In accordance with orthodox guidelines anybody who doesn’t belong to the 4 Varnas, that means foreigners, are untouchables.

5. Conclusion

There are numerous causes for the emergence of caste system as dominated social actuality throughout Vedic period. The social compulsion of that point should have contributed to its growth. Probably the most believable and accepted principle is that most likely Vedic individuals discovered forged system as a handy means to combine a multicultural society into one advanced system. As later within the context of Nepal, Muluki Ain 1854 has included all ethnic group to Caste system.

Within the later Vedic time this technique has flourished extra as a result of those that are in place, energy and authority acquired higher alternatives to use different to make them selves to stay in energy particularly the priestly class and Khatiyas which end in establishing forged system extra rigidly.

Caste system is without doubt one of the most exploitative programs the place individuals of decrease strata can’t rise to the upper place. With no scope for his or her development or financial independence, ever beneath bondage, and affected by varied sorts of disabilities, the place they grow to be third or fourth class residents of Hindu society with out any dignity of their very own and with a standing corresponding to that of animals, as they have been the ‘as soon as born’ in distinction to ‘twice born’.

Effectively it’s troublesome to generalize Hindu society on any explicit points because it consisted of numerous teams and communities. However we will confidently think about the caste system as bane of Hindu society from earlier occasions and until immediately has continued as one of the vital difficult system, which is in practiced very rigidly within the society.

The caste system should have emerged as a result of individuals of various communities have tried to lift to larger place and to monopolize the facility of dominants individuals, the stratifications of society is completed as a way to stay in energy completely by them. The division of society into Varna system is the results of larger caste unwilling to work on polluted job and imposing weaker, poor, warfare prisoners and slaves to do that career.

In trendy context caste system has taken one other type that’s class. Those that are poor, oppressed and made slave couldn’t rise to larger place and end in stagnant to decrease class residents, for instance Dalit are within the decrease class in strata than larger caste Brahmins and different ethnic group in Nepal. It’s as a result of they have been constantly being oppressed since historic time. Principally once we speak about Nepal regardless of being the oppression is continuous, the anti-discrimination provisions contained within the 1990 Structure, caste discrimination stays ingrained in Hindu-dominated Nepalese society. Caste discrimination constitutes a type of racism through which persons are categorically relegated to subordinate social positions, and are denied equal entry to social, financial, political and authorized assets. Wealth and energy are disproportionately distributed to favour larger castes, limiting social mobility and the potential for intergenerational change, as a result of caste is predicated on traces of descent. Cultural attitudes that perpetuate the caste system are inculcated at a younger age in Nepal, and are sometimes bolstered throughout the schooling system. Adults train youngsters to take care of the stratified society, and continuous reinforcement of the system cement it into an unquestionable actuality. Caste discrimination is often current in government-initiated growth programmes, with lots of the tasks failing to profit the decrease castes.


1. Arora, D.B: 1998

Idea of Impurity and Hindu Caste System. Sultan Chand and Co. Delhi

2. Bennett, Lynn: 1983

Harmful Wives and Sacred Sisters. Columbia College Press.

three. Hoffer Andras: 2004

The Hierarchy and the State in Nepal, Himal Books Lalitpur, Nepal

four. Ram Bahadur 2005

Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology, Tribhuwan College, Nepal.

5. Nicholas B.Driks: 2003

Castes Of Thoughts, Parmanent Black, Delhi

6. Prayag Raj Sharma: 2004

State and Society In Nepal, Himal Books Lalitpur, Nepal

7. Shrestha, Gyan Bhadur: 2061

Ain Sangra, Pauravi Prakashan, Kathmandu

eight. V.Jayaram: 1997

Caste System is the most important risk to Hinduism, preliminary paper posted in Web, []

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