Hindu attitudes towards prejudice and discrimination

According to the scriptures of the Vedic tradition Hindus belong to one of four varnasor social groups. Each varna has associated with it specific duties (dharma).

The Purusha Sukta (Hindu text) explains how the different varnas were formed from different parts of the body of Purusha, the first 'cosmic man', and comments on how different parts of the body fulfil different roles for the effective working of the whole body.

quote
His mouth became the Priests; his arms were made into the Warrior, his thighs the People, and from his feet the Servants were born.Rig Veda 10.90

The four varnas are:

  1. Brahmins (priests and teachers)
  2. Kshatriyas (warriors, rulers, administrators and leaders of society)
  3. Vaishyas (traders and merchants)
  4. Shudras (a variety of jobs, serving the needs of the other three varnas)
  5. The word 'caste' refers strictly to the sub-divisions within each varna, and not to varnas themselves.

The word 'caste' refers strictly to the sub-divisions within each varna, and not to varnas themselves.