Since I am passionate about promoting inclusion in a variety of ways, today’s dialogue and interview is about the “Caste System” and it’s roots in the Hindu religion. Because it is a system that stresses division, I thought I would interview a dear friend who is from a different caste than me to share how we choose to live with reconciliation deep in our hearts!!
What is Caste?
Caste is an institutionalized spiritual structure of oppression that affects over 1 billion people across the world. At birth, every child inherits his or her ancestor’s caste, through the Hindu varna system, which determines their social status and assigns them “spiritual purity”. This inherited status can determine where you live, what you eat and who you marry, and even where you can be buried or cremated when you die. It is also referred to as the “Heredity Principle” and Hindus believe it to be eternal.
Caste also determines access to opportunities for employment and ownership of resources. Many individuals actively participate in “Manual scavenging”. This is a euphemistic name for the Caste occupation of picking up fecal and other sewage with bare hands, and it is forced onto Dalit communities and continues to still be pervasive across South Asia. Throughout South Asia, there is also a high rate of caste-based violence both physically and sexually.
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation.
Meet my friend
My guest today is a dear friend and brother, Mr. Vaibhav Moon. He has an MBA and is the Executive Director at Udhhar (meaning “lifted up”). Udhhar is a Non-profit organization serving the rag pickers, farmers, tribal and people in crisis in Nagpur, India. As the title of this post suggests we have a friendship and service relationship. My ancestors are from the Brahmin caste and my guest and dear friend was born into the Dalit caste. According to cultural and religious design, the two should never mix or associate.
When asked “how did you choose to work with the rag pickers?” He said, “I went to them since they believe they can’t come to us because of the caste divisions. My work should lead to reconciliation”. And that, my friends, is what unites us.
Feel free to contact Vaibhav directly through the Udhhar website or at his personal email listed below.
Direct Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Udhhar Multipurpose Society: http://www.uddhar.org
Thank you for joining us. Let’s connect and continue the conversation!!
Here’s to Growing Forward Together and considering others better than ourselves.