Part 1 of this Series dealt with my desire to debunk popular misconceptions around the Caste System and in Part 2, I’ve spoken about the true purport or true meaning of the Caste System. I now propose and establish in Part 3 of this series, that some form of Caste or Class segregation has existed all over the world, to set the right context. And to establish this I’m looking at social stratification in ancient civilizations, political systems and the animal kingdom.

Right from ancient times, ancient civilizations such as the Aztec, Mesopotamia, Greece, Russia, China, Japan, Norse, right through to the time of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, society was always divided into classes and indeed class based segregation exists even today in every society. Not just that, in a lot of the Societies and Civilizations people were even bought and sold, so let’s not kid ourselves and go knocking our Culture and Social Stratification.

Let’s start with the British as they are responsible for so much of the social upheaval that started from the time they first stated trading with us centuries ago and then finally came to establish their dominion over us through their divide and rule strategy.

The British had the Monarchy, the Nobleman, The Yeomen, The Gentry, The Merchants and the Peasants and each class were entitled differently. More recently the classes became the Upper Class, the Middle Class, the Working Class and the Under Class. The Monarchs and Aristocrats were determined by birth or by lineage and a commoner could never be anything more than a commoner.
Russia had the Upper Classes composed of Royalty, Nobility, Clergy. The Middle Classes were the Merchants, Bureaucrats and Professionals. The Working Classes were factory workers, artisans, soldiers, sailors and the Peasants were the farmers.
How about China? There we had the Nobles and Wealthy People, Farmers or Peasants, Artisans, Craftsmen and Merchants.
In Japan we saw the Samurai, Peasants, Artisans, Merchants and yes, not to forget the Untouchables – those falling outside mainstream society.
Let’s move to Latin America where we find the Aztecs. Aztec society consisted of the Nobility or Pipiltin, the Commoners or the Macehualtin, the Serfs or the Mayeque and Slaves or the Tlacotin.
Mesopotamia was no different! There was the King and Nobility, The Priests and Priestesses, The Upper Class, Lower Class and Slaves.
Greek civilization is ancient too and even there we have the Athenians or the Upper Class, the Middle Class or the Metics, the Freedmen or the Lower Class and then came the Slaves.
The Vikings or the Norsefolk had their Earls or Jarlar, the Karlar or the Free Men and Women and finally at the bottom rung were the Proelar.

Effectively, a Caste or rather Class system, either formal or informal was in existence or came into being, or then was adopted almost by all cultures from ancient times.

Political Systems.

Switching track a bit, but still staying on topic, let’s talk Political Systems. For example, Communism. This word stems from Commune or Community Living. Under this system, tasks and responsibilities were given to commune members as per their abilities and rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties were assigned as per a pecking order. There was always a commune leader.

The Animal Kingdom.

The Birds, The Bees and the Ants: Ever heard of queen ants, warrior ants, worker ants, slave making ants? Even the Animal Kingdom has classes, or divisions based on size, strength, abilities and age. Even the bees have Queen Bees, Drones and Workers.

The Lion is the King of the Jungle. Why is this so? Why is this majestic creature feared by man and bast alike?

The Law of Nature has as its basic tenet, Survival of the Fittest. So in this context the fittest are the ones who are knowledgeable and can think for themselves. Similarly the Law of Nature encompasses Humans as well and it is but natural that divisions and classes will exist, just so that Society can function, people can be categorized and allocated duties and responsibilities based on skills, location, abilities and attitudes.

Let me tell you this and this is not something we like to hear. There is nothing like WIN - WIN. Somebody will always win and someone will always lose. The degree of win or loss is what defines the winner and loser and more likely than not, probability favors that winners are the ones who have the muscle, the clout, the acumen and the smarts to get ahead and these traits often come from our roots, our background and our DNA.

Surely, you will now see, that in some way shape or form, there is a division or classification of society based on various factors such as birth, age, ethnicity, capabilities, socio-political factors or then a combination thereof. Perhaps you will now see why I see red when the Indian Caste System is singled out?

With that I conclude my propositions for Part 3 and promise more in Part 4, which is a departure from scripture, civilization and deals more with practical aspects of social stratification.

Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here.