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Sandy thinks: The Four Varnas ©
Who are the Untouchables?
  

When did untouchability came about? Hindus mainly followed the four Varnams based on the occupation - the Brahmins taught, the Kshatriyas protected, the Vaisiyas took care of the trading activity and the Soodhras tilled the land.

But where did untouchability came? Many people wrongly think that the Upaveedham, the thread worn across the chest is only the birthright of the Brahmins. No, every one born as a Hindu is bound to wear the Upaveedham, only the rules were made flexible for each varna.

The Brahmins put on the Upaveedham (the sacred thread) when they started their education and have to wear it all their life.

The Kshatriyas put on the Upaveedham on the day they were crowned. The Vaisiyas put it on the day of their marriage.

In contrast the Soodhras were to put on the Upaveedham only on religious occasions, more particularly when they were performing funeral and related rites. They were shown this concession because it was difficult for them to maintain the Upaveedham clean because they worked on the land all the time.

And were the Soodhras untouchables? Far from it - the name itself is derived from the Sanskrit word soodhram which means the critical point. People who make kites will remember that the knot is called the soodhram; unless this is done correctly the kite will not fly.

Soodhras were considered most important section of the society - the strong base on which the society is built up.

So where did untouchability come from? The main culprit is the economic situation. The landed and the landless. This was a latter day development when the members of the other varnams got hold of lands and had it worked by landless soodhras.

I remember the case of people prostrating at the feet of a political leader. Actually the leader never asked for it but those who wanted favors started the practice as a form of flattery and to get special attention. This happened for a long time and at one point the leader started to consider prostration as something that was his right!

This is what happened in society also. What people did on their own to show their respect became something that was demanded by later generations.


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