The Caste Divide

Shri Guru Ravidass Ji was born into a time in which severe discrimination based on caste existed and which was actively encouraged by those who stood to gain most from it, peple born into the so called higher castes.

It may be worthwhile looking at the whole issue of Caste and although it would take a lot more than just this website to do this seriously, a small effort has been made to present some details for your consideration.

Caste is associated primarily with cultures of the Indian sub-continent. The term ‘Caste’ itself is not an Indian one, coming from the Portuguese casta, meaning ‘race’ or ‘pure stock’. Indians themselves do not have a single term for describing the caste system as a whole, but have a variety of words referring to different aspects of it, the two main ones being varna and jati.

The varna consists of four categories, each ranked differently in terms of social honour. Below these groupings are the so-called ‘untouchables’, those in the lowest position of all. The Jati are locally defined groups within which the caste ranks are organized. Jati is coupled with one’s occupation and the meaning of varna in Sanskrit is ‘colour’.

According to those who propogate it, caste is determined by birth and can never be changed. Uniquely in the annals of prejudice, it hamstrings the individual’s ‘upward mobility’ from rebirth to rebirth in those religions where reincarnation plays a part, even at a distance as with caste Christianity.

Dalit is a term used to denote people who have been born into occupations falling outside the caste system. Dalits are regarded as so inferior as to be ‘Untouchable’. This is used to justify the discrimination that they face and consign them to only the most menial and poorly paid of occupations.

Naturally those who have spent a lot of time in the UK may not think it exists in the UK but all you have to do is to ask those who have fallen victim to it. It does happen, its effects are extensive and often, very traumatic and we would do well to capture details when it does happen.

CasteWatchUK is a registered charity in the UK and is a group of committed professionals who, in wishing to put something back into society, joned together to try and remove casteism. If you wish to know more, click here to access their website

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Shri Guru Ravidass Temple (Foleshill)
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5 May 2005