American Verna

American Verna “The American Verna” Why is that humans were able to practically “take over” their environment and leave all other animal species far behind in the race of survival? Not many would argue that we were able to do so just because we can walk upright and we have unspecialized teeth. In fact, humans are capable of many things that separate us from the animals. Our far most important trait is the ability to analyze and comprehend complex subject matters. From that we can learn, understand and communicate with one another so we could accomplish things as a group, a group which one day became so complex that without structure and laws, chaos would preside. In our times, we see many distinct cultures where each has its own way of organizing and way of keeping its people in harmony. Although most of the world is leaning towards democracy, there are few nations who believe in the ancient ways. One of the most controversial civilizations studied is the Indian civilization, which developed and flourished as early as 7000 B.C.E.

The controversy rises from a harsh though well-thought classification of people due to their skin color and other physical characteristics. To democratic America this may sound a bit horrifying although some even argue that the United States maintains some sort of a caste system perhaps even as harsh as the one in India. This idea can surely be proven wrong through a close comparison of the Indian social structure and the American freedom. A false conclusion should not be made that there is no sort of a caste system in America, but one that is not as rigid nor providing social importance as the one in Ancient Indian culture. The way a culture develops and evolves plays a major role of how the system would stand. As explained later, there are few theories of how and why a caste system is created, but all studied caste systems have common foundations. One common issue is that there are physical differences between each caste whether they associate with the way a person can perform activities or not. However, a major difference is how the separate classes serve and correlate with one another. Manu, one of the earliest rulers of India, wrote a description of the Indian social structure.

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The Law of Manu consists of a brief explanation of what are the objectives and duties of each Indian class, also know as Varna. Even though the lower castes were involved in more physical obligations, it clearly shows that the upper classes were also involved in someway of serving the lower classes: Teaching, studying performing sacrificial rites, so too making others perform sacrificial rites, and giving away and receiving gifts- these he assigned to the [Brahmins]. Protection of the people, giving away of wealth, performance of sacrificial rites, study, and nonattachment to sensual pleasures- these are, in short, are the duties of the kshatriya. Tending to cattle, giving away of wealth, performance of sacrificial rites, study, trade and commerce, usury, and agriculture- these are the occupations of the Vaisya. The lord has prescribed only one occupation [karma] for a Sudra, namely, service without malice of even these other three classes.

Within the Indian culture, there is a great level of interaction between the different classes, unlike in the early United States, where Americans imported an entire society and forced them to serve as their lower class. The slaves were treated with unbearable conditions, which made them develop hate and the need to revolt. The aftermath of the civil war included the abolishment of slavery though racism still plays a major role. Just the fact that there was a need for a revolution shows how negatively based the American system became. Lower classes wanted to climb the social ladder and are now able to do so.

In Indian societies the movement up the hierarchy is not as simple as getting your education and working a good job. In fact, the concept of changing one’s Varna during his lifetime was unheard of. In order to “get bumped up” the Indians had to follow the Dharma which is described as “a law regulating human behavior and imposes different requirements on different individual depending on their status in society.” Living by the Dharma creates good Kharma, which is measured with death. Good Kharma could be vaguely compared to money, not in a sense of buying materialistic objects, but in a sense of gaining in order to have a better life. If the good Kharma had been obtained through the person’s life, he would have the opportunity to reincarnate and achieve higher status in the next lifetime.

This is also a reason why Indians seem to live and accept their status since they have the constant belief that things would be better after death. Revolting, would just create bad Kharma and “ruin” the person’s future life. The degree of Social mobility, as Vijai Singh points out, is inversely related to the extent of the association between status of parents and status of children. Because of the strong relation of one’s class to his parents, social mobility is very difficult to achieve. In contrast, in the United States, there are many institutions, which help lower class people (those with low financial means) to break the patterns of their parents, receive an education, and obtain a career, which would grant them a brighter future. When comparing how rigid different social structures are, we must examine how easy it is to achieve mobility between the classes.

There are two perspectives when examining social mobility; as a society, the progress towards perfect social mobility, would eventually eliminate the caste structure. As an individual, the advance towards social mobility comes with the accepting of the existence of the individual’s place in the caste system. Political movements toward social mobility in the United States show how the caste system is becoming more and more malleable as time goes by. Unlike other ancient societies, India’s Caste System …


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