CBSE Class 8 Social Science Challenging The Cast System Notes. Learning the important concepts is very important for every student to get better marks in examinations. The concepts should be clear which will help in faster learning. The attached concepts made as per NCERT and CBSE pattern will help the student to understand the chapter and score better marks in the examinations.
CHALLENGING THE CASTE SYSTEM
ARGUMENTS FOR REFORMS OF CASTE
In the Rigvedic period the society was divided into four 'varnas', i.e., the Kshatriyas, the Brahamans, the Vaishyas and the Shudras to affect a division of labour. But with the passage of time these four 'varnas' developed into many castes and sub-castes. Not only this, the caste-system degenerated and many evils crept into it. It was with the aim of removing these defects that caste reforms were initiated. Some of the major evils which necessitated
the reforms within the caste system were the following:
= Cause of Hostility and Jealousy : With the increase in the number of castes and the rigid attitude that the various castes adopted, the Hindu society was soon divided into so many hostile groups with sharp differences. Their differences and mutual jealousies did not allow the Indians to unite even against the foreign invaders. Thus the caste system proved anti-national and very disastrous to the Hindu society.
= Main Cause of Untouchability : The greatest fault of the caste system was that it gave rise to the curse of untouchability. The three upper classes (i.e., the Brahmans, Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas) began to regard themselves somewhat superior to the Sudras, who were nothing more than animals for them. Their very touch was enough to pollute them and their belongings. They began to be regarded as untouchables. The three upper classes refused the entry of the Sudras in the temples, and forbade them to draw water from their wells. In short, almost all human rights were denied to them. Naturally, many Sudras embraced other religions. This practice of untouchability is very harmful and that is why it has been totally banned by the New Constitution of
= A Check on Religious Advancement : Because of class pride and rigid caste rules the people belonging to other religions found it difficult to embrace Hinduism. When the status of equality was denied to them they could not easily give up their own faith for the sake of a religion for which they had no attraction. In this way conversion to the Hindu religion was almost completely stopped and a great check was put in the way of its advancement.
= Responsible for Narrow Outlook : The caste system has been to a large extent responsible for the development of a narrow outlook among the Indians, because it does not allow the Indians to mix freely with the foreigners and to go to foreign lands. Thus, for a very long time the Indians remained in a state of stay-at-home and could not go to foreign lands either for trade or for education.
= Against the Feeling of World Brotherhood : The caste system, with all its exclusiveness and rigidity, is also against the feeling of world brotherhood. This institution has now outlived its utility and must be discarded. In this age of science and inventions the Indians cannot live in seclusion.
IDEAS OF PHULE, VEERESALINGAM, NARAYANA GURU, PERIYAR, GANDHI AND AMBEDKER
= Jyotiba Phule (1827-1890)
Jyotiba Phule was the founder of the Satya Shodhak Samaj. It was founded in AD. 1848 in Maharashtra for the upliftment of the oppressed classes. He opened many schools for the education of the girls of the so-called lower classes. He condemned the caste structure and opened the gates of Satya Shodhak Samaj for every one without any distinction of caste and religion. He was against the supremacy of the Brahmans and started the practice of performing the marriage ceremonies without Brahman priests. For his good work for the oppressed classes he was given the name of 'Mahatma'.
= Veeresalingam (1848-1919)
Kandukuri Veeresalingam was a born crusader against social evils. A man of firm determination he heralded a social revolution in Andhra. He was born on April 16, 1848. Even as a pupil in a primary school he opposed meaningless customs and religious beliefs. While working as a school teacher in his later life he waged a long battle for the rights of women. He encouraged inter-caste marriage and throughout his life he campaigned against the caste system. He waged a long battle against untouchability. Veeresalingam was a versatile writer who, through his plays and essays in the Telugu language, vigorously preached against the caste system. He was a great supporter of the oppressed and the downtrodden. As a tribute to his great contribution towards the society, the posts and telegraph department issued stamps in his honour, after his death on may 27, 1919.
= Sri Narayana Guru (1854-1939)
What Jyotiba Phule did in Western India, Shri Narayana Guru did in Kerala. He fought to the last for the emancipation of the oppressed sections of the society, especially for the Ezhavas, a caste in which he was born. This caste was considered untouchable by the so-called people of the upper castes. Shri Narayana Guru could not tolerate this injustice. He acquired a deep knowledge of the Sanskrit language and fought vehemently for the uplift of the Ezhavas and other oppressed people. He laid the foundation of many temples without the image of Gods and Goddesses. He founded the Shri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, for propagating social reform. He regarded all distinctions based on religion and caste as meaningless. He advocated the principle
of "One God and One Religion".
= Periyar Ramaswami (1879-1973)
Periyar Ramaswami was a reformer of Tamil Nadu. He was born in the Indian state of Madras (now Tamil Nadu) in 1879 and lived a long life of about 95 years and died in 1973. He was pained to note that the Dalit, or low caste men had remained untouch able since many centuries. According to him the members of this caste were denied education, participation in social activity and contact with other castes, except when their services as scavengers or hide flayers were required. When he attempted to take a number of people to a temple in Kerala, he was s arrested along with his followers. He set up an organisation, Dravida Kazhgam by name, for the benefit of casteless Hindus. This organisation fought for the reservation of the low caste people in government jobs. As a result of this agitation the first amendment in the Indian Constitution was made to safeguard the rights of discriminated caste Indians. Since the lower castes could not pay heavy amount to the priests at the time of marriage of their wards very simple marriage ceremony without the priests. In this respect he was akin to Jyotiba Phule who did the same thing in Maharashtra. Some of the sayings of Periyer are still famous. At one place he says, "There cannot be any caste among mankind. To speak of caste differences among us, who are of the same country, is sheer mischief." At another place he says, "The caste system that teaches notions of superiority, inferiority, high and low depending on level should be scotched at the very base".
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