‘Caste System’ one of the most talked and, according to me, is the most corrupted tradition in Indian culture. The word ‘caste’ was first used by the Portuguese around fourteen hundred which mean hereditary groups. As the word was coined for an already corrupted system, its meaning was already quite far from the actual Varna pratha (system) advocated in ancient India. Varna system used to be one of the building blocks of Indian society which ensures proper functioning of the society. Please don't be judgmental here. Let me put an example from our familiar domain and try to draw similarities. In an organization, you will find officials for different work or purpose. There are CEO, CTO, Managing Directors, Board Members, Managers, Clark, Pion, Security, Cleaning etc. You omit one, and the organization would be non-functioning in a week time. Now come to the context of Indian Varna protha, it was just like organizational posts, purely based on Shrama bivajan (work division).
By definition, your karma is your Varna. It depends upon your character and will. There is no disrespect for anyone. But in practice, it is a big challenge to avoid corruption in an organization of the size equal to India. Especially for a span of 3 to 5 thousands years. Those who were holding the position with power started to exploit others. Just like a boss exploiting his subordinates in modern portfolios.
As I told it's your karma defines your Varna, in modern time you may say army, politicians, IPS, IAS etc. are the Kshatriya. Brahmins would be scientists, professors, teachers, masters, scholars etc. i.e., those who are in the field of knowledge acquiring and teaching. Tata, Birla, share traders and even the next door grocery shop owners are bOishya. Sudras are those who provide the physical labors. Examples could be the painters, carpenters, garage mechanics, drivers, farmers etc. Anyone can join in any profession his or her will permits. Certainly, each of these requires specific skills. Now you surely able to understand why the value of Brahmin and Kshatriya had higher in the first place. Because for Brahmin, acquiring knowledge and teaching disciples were a novel job. Require dedication and devotion. Even today becoming a professor require 17-18 years of study plus a considerable amount of time for establishing new theories. It is a long 23-25 years of dedication and devotion. And for Kshatriya, it comes naturally as they were holding leadership positions. See the examples of politicians this days.
Situation is different nowadays. Money became more powerful than knowledge. Hence the respect and power shifted from Brahmins (knowledge seekers) to Boisya (industrialist). Kshatriya (politicians) probably enjoy the same position as of the ancient time.
I think the same Varna protha exists in modern India too. According to the modern demands, the number of portfolios changed and also names are modified to suit with the modern ecosystems. We now use cars not chariots with horses. Hence, instead of calling Suta, we are calling them driver. We have pilots now for flying vimana, a new profile. Similarly, IT professionals, a modern profile, does not exist in the past. Modern India thinks calling by names in a foreign language is much cooler than using indigenous names. Hence, instead of Mathar, we call them sweeper now. We call doctor for Boddi. Chef instead of Thakur. Professor in place of Upadhyay. In practice, respect between these groups are almost similar that of the corrupted version of the Varna system.
But the descendants of those days Brahmin, Kshatriya, bOisya or sudra are still bearing the same identity even if they are not attached to the profession anymore. Why? Possibly Because with the course of time, those jobs became a family profession. One of the reason might be that it was easier to learn the required skills. Children of a carpenter have higher possibility to adopt the same skill than becoming a jewelry maker. Or a child of a Brahmin who grows up with the chanting of Vedas may feel learning Veda is a cup of tea rather than becoming chief minister to the king. There may be other reasons too. Most of the child naturally wish to be like their father or mother. Especially if they are successful. So, this might be Another reason for a child to build their interests in the same field. Just like a child of a doctor wants to be a doctor one day. They also enjoy the backing of the parents' reputation. So with moderately lower skills, they get the similar job profiles very easily. Like the way, Tushar Kapur, Avishek Bachchan, Sonakshi Sinha became actors. Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav became politicians. Anil Ambani becomes an industrialist. Son of Sachin Tendulkar may play for India one day. So, you can see that even today, Varna slowly and silently becoming a family attribute. After three to four generations, people may associate a family with their profession viz. acting or dancing or sports or business. In the past in such situations, they were honored or referred with family names defining the work. For example Senapati, Upadhay, Ghosh, Thakur, Sahu etc. That is the legacy we are still bearing. In my opinion, the same would happen to modern India too if the administration reduces the rigidity of names for different administrative works.
Disclaimer: I am not a scholar of literature, language, history or sociology. The post is purely out of my special interest and observations within my way of living. Opinions about the ancient definitions are formed based on translations and comments on old scriptures by other scholars. I am open for any correction if concrete facts are presented.
» Colonial Hangover in India
» Religious Expansion: Consequences and an Alternative
» মনুষ্যত্বের মৃত্যু