Is caste system mentioned in Hindu sastras and Bhagwad Gita?
Answer by Tejasvita Apte:
Yes. Lord Krishna speaks to Arjuna as he clarifies the origin and purpose of the caste system in sanaatana dharma (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, Shloka 13).
cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ .
tasya kartāramapi māṃ viddhyakartāramavyayam .. 4\-13..
I have created this four fold order ( 4 varnas / castes namely – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras) according to the quality of work.
Now, let me elaborate a little more on the basis of the Hindu personal laws that made further laws. Before that –
One has to understand that social stratification exists in every society of humans. There isn't a single human society without it.
So, Krishna divided society on the basis of work. I believe that this stratification is a lot better than stratification on basis of skin colour or wealth.
Also, if one analyses the society, one can actually appreciate the caste system as it acknowledges that there ought to be a distribution of power with proper checks and balances.
In a monarchy, therefore, the Brahmins could not own any property. They were gives houses to live but the ownership vested with the King. Brahmins were not allowed to accumulate wealth. There were not supposed to take money as consideration for their teaching. All their chores were done by their students in return of their learning.
In fact just so they don't become obnoxiously proud of their knowledge, they even were required to beg for food.
Coming to Kshatriyas – Even though they were kings, they had counsel of ministers above them known as 'Amatya'. They were Brahmins who could not own property. Therefore there was hardly any chance of corruption. Every decision made by the king had to made after consultation with the Amatyas. Also, the king could not take a decision without the consent of 2/3rd of the counsel of Ministers.
The rest of the citizens were free to choose their professions. In fact one can see examples to such citizens throughout history.
For example, Parashuram was born as a Brahmin, but he lived his life as a Kshatriya. Vishwamitra on the other hand was born to a Kshatriya, but chose to become a Brahmin. Shabri ( A woman born to Shudra parents) was running an Ashram and chose to be a Brahmin.
Now, after one sees the system objectively, one will realise that it is quite good. Not bad at all.
Problem started when people did not have a choice as regards their profession. When laws of Heredity superseded every other rule, problems arose and exploitation began.
Today, right now, the caste based social stratification is completely out dated.
Which is why it makes no sense.
The only reason why I wrote the above was because I have seen a tendency among people to hate caste division per se. This stratification inherently is not so bad. The exploitation that followed was most certainly bad.
Note that distribution of political power existed in India long before Montesqui's birth. So, when this system was thriving, the rest of the world was in dark ages.
Given this, I see no reason to hate caste system.