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Hindu, Hinduism and Hindustan: Part III
by Dr. Jaipal Singh Bookmark and Share

The Varna System and Vegetarianism

Continued from Part II

The author had made a reference in the previous essay to the common criticism of the Hinduism being the practices of idol worship, caste system and promoting vegetarianism by protecting cattle (mainly cow). A deep analysis and insight into the practice of the idol worship has revealed that it is based on sound reasoning and scientific concepts that leaves no room for unwarranted criticism by people without understanding it. This is particularly relevant for the Indians under the influence of the western education who under the garb of secularism and liberalism so often try to ridicule and belittle own cultural heritage without bothering to learn even basic facts about it. The other two issues remain the caste system and vegetarianism including the protection of cow which author intends to explore in the current article.

As it appears from various Hindu scriptures and texts, the Hindu society was broadly divided into four classes during the ancient times namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Traditionally, priests, scholars and teachers were recognised as Brahmins; rulers, warriors and administrators as Kshatriyas; merchants, businessmen and farmers as Vaishyas; and labourers and service providers in different categories as Shudras. People belonging to one of the above four varnas or classes were called savarna while certain tribes and outcasts which could not be categorized under any of these classes were called avarna. However, it appears that at some stage during the course of history even some Shudras were also treated at par with avarna placed in the category of untouchables. This quadruple division and social stratification of ancient times known as Varna System is so often mixed up with the more prevalent and nuanced 'Jati' or ‘Caste’ System – the latter supposedly a European term.

Early References of Varna System

The Varna System is referred to in several Hindu scriptures and its earliest origin is traced to the Purusha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda, the oldest known Hindu scripture. The Rig Vedic Purusha Sukta (RV 10.90.11-12) formally refers to four social classes without using the terminology ‘Varna’ namely Brahman, Rajanya, Vaishya and Shudra symbolising to the mouth, arms, thighs and feet, respectively, of the primordial Purusha. Of this Rajanya is akin to the term Kshatriya used in subsequent texts while the remaining three classes are adopted as such with same implications for all purposes.

“…12 The Brahman was his mouth,
of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thighs became the Vaisya,
from his feet the Sudra was produced.”

However, some scholars argue that the Purush Sukta varna verse was not part of the original Vedic text, instead it was probably added on a later date. Stephanie W. Jamison, a professor of Asian Languages and Cultures and head of the program in Indo-European Studies at the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA), in collaboration with her colleague Joel Brereton did extensive work on Rig Veda and held opin that there was no evidence in the text for an elaborate, much subdivided and overarching Caste System and the Varna System appeared to be only in embryonic form in this supposedly the oldest Hindu scripture. However, in post-Vedic period, the Varna System finds an elaborated mention in the many Dharmashastras, Epics and Puranas.

Varna System in Manu Smriti and Other Hindu Texts

Among Dharmashastras, Manu Smriti appears to provide the most comprehensive as also controversial and widely debated text on Varna System including some differences among scholars about the vintage and chronology of the text. According to Manu Smriti, the entire society was divided in four varnas namely Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra based on the division of labour (work) in the society. A Brahmin was defined as one who attained spiritual knowledge and wisdom of high order through sustained learning, lived spiritual life and taught to enrich the society with the spiritual wisdom and knowledge. Usually priests, scholars and teacher came under this category. The Kshatriyas were rulers, warriors and people associated with administrative functions with a duty to protect and safeguard the interests of the society against the external aggression as well as maintenance of the internal peace and rule of law. The traders, businessmen and farmers were categorized as Vaishyas who were largely sustaining the society through money transactions, barter and trade and farming. The Shudras were the people engaged in labour and services including technical and mechanical jobs of carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, cobblers, porters etc, so on and so forth.

As could be derived from the very description that under the Varna System the religious and educational, political and administrative, finance and commerce, and physical powers and functions were distinct separated and assigned to four different social classes in the society. Most probably, it is due to this clear division of duties, responsibility and functions that we seldom encounter any instance of the ancient Indian society ever turned into an autocratic or theocratic society, although one may find odd references of individuals turning errant.

Notwithstanding above, the structure and contents of the Manu Smriti does indicate that it was largely focussed on the Brahmins and Kshatriyas considered at the time to be the most influential, elite and powerful upper classes. This argument gains strength from the fact that the said Smriti allegedly contains overwhelmingly large number of verses on the laws and supposed virtues of Brahmins and comparable yet a lesser number of verses on the duties, responsibilities and virtues of the Kshatriyas. As against this, the verses on the laws of the Vaishyas and Shudras are in brief and considerably less in number. Some scholars have opined that this possibly suggests the overwhelming dominance and influence of the Brahmins and Kshatriyas in the ancient social structure and the author of the Manu Smriti possibly did so to maintain a balance between the priestly interests and the political power around that time.

The reference of Varna System is found in many Dharmashastras and Puranas that include description and discussion on the Varna (i.e. social classes) as well as related subjects of Ashrama (i.e. stages of life), purushartha (i.e. goals of life), rules of war, personal virtues and duties, ahimsa (non-violence) and kindness against all living beings etc. The Varna System also finds scholarly references in the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. It talks about the behavioural pattern of Varna viz. people who imbibe truth, austerity and pure conduct are Brahmins; people who are inclined to anger, boldness and material comforts attain Kshatriya Varna; those who are inclined to trade, cattle rearing and farming acquire Vaishya Varna; and men doing menial jobs and being prone to covetousness, violence and impurity fall under the Shudra Varna.

There are sufficient illustrations in the ancient texts to suggest that the concept of Varna was based on merit and not birth and it was actually practiced in the ancient societies. The entire Varna concept came under criticism as an evil practice consequent to either some unknown ancestors or certain unfortunate turn of events changed this merit-based system into the inheritance or birth-based system leading to present day social conflicts and miseries. A few illustrations of merit based Varna system from the ancient era are given below in support:

  • Aitareya Rishi was the son of a Daasa (slave) but was recognized as Brahmin of highest order during his lifetime. He wrote Aitareya Brahman and Aitareyopanishad, the former a critical commentary on Rigveda.

  • Maharishi Satyakama Jabala was son of a prostitute but became Brahmin through learning and good deeds.

  • Sons of Vishwamitra became Shudra while he himself was Kshatriya who turned Brahmin in later life.

  • Vidur was a dassiputra (servant’s son) but became Brahmin and a minister of Hastinapur empire in Mahabharata era.

  • Matanga was son of a Chandal by birth but became a Brahmin in Mahabharata era.

Notwithstanding criticism of Manu Smriti from many quarters, there are specific verses in the text suggesting that a person belonging to high Varna could fall down to level of a Shudra or vice versa depending upon the deeds of the person during the lifetime. One such illustration is given below in support (Manu Smriti Verse 10.65).

Sudro brahmanatameti brahmanascaiti sudratam |
Ksatriyaj jatamevam tu vidyad vaisyat tathaiva ca || 65 ||

{The Sudra attains the position of the Brahmana and the Brahmana sinks to the position of the Sudra; the same should be understood to be the case with the offspring of the Ksatriya or of the Vaisya.—(65)}

Appraisal and Criticism of Varna System

The Varna System and more particularly Manu Smrti have been subject to so often debate and criticism. The most vocal and prominent among the Indian critics has been none other than Dr BR Ambedkar who is considered to be the man behind the drafting of the Indian Constitution in the post-independence period. Dr Ambedkar hailed from one of the deprived classes of India who vehemently opposed the caste system blaming Manu Smriti for the evil practice. In protest, reportedly he even burnt Manu Smriti in a bonefire in December, 1927 and in the later life even himself got converted to Buddhism along with a large number of followers.

Dr Ambedkar’s contention that the Manu Smriti was deliberately written during the times of Pushyamitra in the context of the then social pressures caused by the rise of Buddhism, was later denied by the historian Romila Thaper citing that the archaeological evidences do not confirm the claims of Buddhist persecution by Pushyamitra. Mahatma Gandhi too did not endorse his act and suggested that the caste discrimination was indeed harmful for the social and spiritual growth but it did not undermine the greatness of Hinduism or the texts like Manu Smriti. Gandhi was of view that the Manu Smriti contained different callings and professions insisting on duties rather than rights of people, hence one should consider the text in totality, accept parts of the Smriti consistent with truth and ahimsa and ignore the other parts.

Incidentally, the Manu Smriti was among the early Sanskrit texts studied and interpreted by the European philologists. The first such translated version by Sir William Jones was published in 1794. In nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche, a German Philosopher and Cultural Critic, considered Manu Smriti as an incomparably spiritual and superior work of high order particularly attributable to the ethical perspectives of the spiritual leaders, noble classes and warriors. While not fully endorsing the system, he considered Manu's social order as far from perfect, yet favouring the general idea of a Varna or Caste system to be natural and right. Reportedly, in praise of the text he even commented that 'To prepare a book of law in the style of Manu means to give people the right to become master one day, to become perfect, to aspire to the highest art of life.' Manu Smriti also found admirers among some great personalities like Dayanand Saraswati, Hindu religious leader and founder of the Arya Samaj and Annie Besant, British theosophist and supporter of Indian self-rule.

It appears that the common criticism of the Manu Smriti and Varna system on issues like inequality, genealogical inheritance and coercion is mainly on account of the fact that the original intent of the system is either misinterpreted or consciously overlooked by the people:

Inequality: The common observation is that the Varna system treats humans unequally by putting Brahmins on top and Shudras at the bottom of the social hierarchy and order. This observation complicates the situation when applied to the present caste based society and compared with the ancient merit based Varna System. While criticising Hinduism, people often tend to forget or ignore that the social hierarchy and order is not limited to Hinduism alone but prevalent in various forms in all contemporary Indian and societies of other religions. Even in western societies where religion has less bearing on the social order, different classes and groups based on social status and financial strength and even by birth are observed. Not to justify it but inequality is a social phenomenon and is prevalent worldwide in various forms. In fact, Upanishads, Vedic scriptures and Bhagavda Gita mention at several places that moksha and virtues of life can be attained by everyone including Shudra (by good karma i.e. self-control, truth and righteousness) and all living beings are part of the same Brahman.

Coercion: The other common grievance raised against the Varna System is that it forced people to act or pursue profession in a particular based on their social order. Perhaps the best response to this allegation comes from the epic Mahabharata itself which is widely read and circulated in India and beyond. While Krishna motivated the reluctant Arjuna, a born Kshatriya, in the battle field to fight against the enemies who were his own relatives and kin, there were many warriors such as Dronacharya, Kripacharya and Asvatthama, who participated in the war though they were not Kshatriya by birth. Besides, there are numerous instances in ancient India where people had changed their Varna based on merit. In fact, some such coercion always exists primarily from parents, elders and teachers in all societies lest it may lead to social chaos and disaster. A balanced society always needs merit based teachers, warriors, merchants and labourers but any birth based coercion is unethical and not justified.

Nature (Svabhav) by Birth: Another common criticism is that in Varna System svadharma (action in accordance with nature) is based on svabhäva which is not in order. Again it is a misconception because the Varna system was merit based and not driven by birth. Notwithstanding this explanation, this is rather a complex issue and is still debated by the modern genealogists and geneticists. There is a general consensus that both the genes and environment have significant role and effect on shaping an individual’s nature.

As it appears, Manu Smriti and other Hindu scriptures referring to the Varna System were written in the ancient era when the concept of the birth based Varna (caste) System was not in vogue. Like any other contemporary rishis or scholars, Sage Manu appears to have taken inspiration from Vedas and other contemporary Upanishads while proposing a systematic social system based on merit i.e. largely the qualities, actions and nature of the individuals. In fact, the Manu Smriti and other Vedic scriptures while describing four Varna do not make reference to any caste at any place which indicates that the use of the term as such came in social existence at a much later time.

Origin of the Caste System

While it is pretty clear that the Varna System of the ancient India and the Caste System have originated and evolved separately in different time capsules despite several commonalities with, off course, a possibility that the prevalent Caste System is perhaps a distortion of the Varna system, yet when and how so many castes and sub-castes evolved in India is still not clear. Several theories have been put forth from time to time but none has so far provided solid proof or satisfactory explanation in convincing ways.

According to one popular theory, Aryans from the North and Central Asia invaded and conquered a large portion of the South Asia and introduced the Jati (Caste) System then as a distinct and effective method of controlling the local population. As it appears, the Aryans disregarded the local cultures and continued to supress and take control over various regions in north India and at the same time forcing the local people southwards and towards the jungles and mountains in north India. They defined key roles in society and assigned appropriate groups of people to them. Further, they didn’t allow any social mobility and consequently, individuals were born into a group, worked, married, spent life and died within the earmarked groups, and these expanded groups in due course gave rise to birth based Jati (Caste) System.

It is also alleged by some scholars that Brahmins are responsible for creation of the caste system in India in order to exercise full control over the society and rule them according to their social and political interests and convenience. To maintain their supremacy, mainly threatened by the dominance of Kshatriyas as rulers and warriors, Brahmins made people of other Varnas almost inaccessible to knowledge based learning and arbitrarily kept making changes in the Dharmashastras and scriptures to suit their requirements that led to severe restrictions on other Varnas and outcasts ultimately leading to fragmentation of society into numerous social groups later identified as Jatis (castes). Yet another theory suggests that multiple religious customs and rituals had given birth to the caste system in which people connected to religion and power such as Brahmins and Kshatriyas were accorded higher positions. All others were assigned different tasks by the administration in the society without allowing them to move from one occupation to the other. All this laid foundation of the caste system but again exactly when and how remains unanswered.

John Collinson Nesfield, a British Anthropologist and curate of St Michael's Church, gave an occupational theory for the Caste System in India. According to his theory, castes in India developed as per the occupation of a person. As some occupations were considered superior than the others so also came the concept of superior and inferior caste with persons doing superior and inferior jobs, respectively. For illustration, priestly and ruling jobs were considered superior; accordingly, Brahmins and Kshatriyas were considered higher castes.

Although different theories have been propounded on the evolution of the Caste System in India but none of the theories convincingly explain the exact origin in terms of when, or even pinpointing a watershed period, and how it was evolved. So it seems that the Caste System in India is not a result of one individual factor; instead several factors leading to distortion of the erstwhile Varna System have played a role over a period of time in the post-Vedic period to evolve the Caste System in the present form.

In the Indian context, the majority Indian languages use the term "Jati" for the hereditary Caste System in South Asia. As for the term ‘caste’, it is a European term and it is believed that when Portuguese traders in 16th-century India noticed this distinct and differential racial social stratification, they used the Portuguese term "casta" to describe it. By now, the term "caste" is an accepted terminology to describe stratified societies based on inheritance not only in India but worldwide too. Thus as it appears, in ancient India merit-based occupational groups were called Varnas, the hereditary occupational groups within Varna gave birth to Jati System at some point of time and Jati became synonym of the Caste under the European influence around 16th century in the Indian sub-continent.

Modern Reforms in the Caste System

Simultaneously with the struggle for freedom in the British India, several Indian leaders played a key role to fight against the evils of the Caste System too to bring in reforms. The prominent personalities among them are Mahatma Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule and Dr BR Ambedkar. Gandhi renamed the untouchables and lower caste people as Harijans (the people of God). Around the middle of the 19th century, Jyotirao Phule started a Dalit movement to uplift the status of lower caste people. Dr BR Ambedkar actively worked on the Dalit movement during 1920s and 1930s for the support and upliftment of the lower caste people and played key role in creating a system of reservation for the Dalits in free India by making such provision in the Indian Constitution which was adopted in 1949 providing a legal framework for the emancipation of untouchables and equality of all citizens.

In fact, with the sustained efforts of several Indian leaders on reforms, the British government had identified about 400 groups regarded as untouchables and they were later classified as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. After independence, the Indian government has reviewed the classification and made continuous reforms besides completely outlawing the caste discrimination officially. Consequently, though the social and political evils of the caste discrimination have not vanished completely but the overall position has considerably changed for improvement. While the erstwhile wide gap between the upper and lower castes in various social spheres have significantly narrowed and undergone transformation, but it still continues to play an important role in events like marriage and religious ceremonies.

In the modern India, social interaction and convergence among different groups is more relaxed now in so far as occupation, working, dining and sharing leisure time together is concerned. Besides, the recent trend shows that many educated and well-to-do urban middle-class families are more relaxed and receptive to even inter-caste marriages too. Government too is encouraging and incentivising such marriages among the different communities. However, there are still some religious places in India which are not accessible to untouchables (Shudras). Then there is a flip side too of the reservation of jobs in government employment. Over a period, a creamy layer has been created among the Dalits and such people are usurping the major portion of the privilege available at the cost of other deprived Dalit people. India still needs to go a long way to completely eradicate the caste-based inequalities from the society forever.

Vegetarianism and Protection of Cattle

Hinduism and Hindu scriptures accord high emphasis to truth and ahimsa in life. In common parlance, ahimsa denotes the respect for all living things and avoidance of harm through violence towards all living creatures and lifeless objects as well. Another Hindu sage Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutra that outlined yamas i.e. restraints and niyamas i.e. observances. Ahimsa is the first of the yamas and according to the Yog Sutra, once ahimsa is mastered, even wild animals and ferocious criminals can be tamed and made harmless. It is not surprising then that the same ahimsa became such a powerful tool in the hands of Mahatma Gandhi as to force the British to leave ultimately by granting independence to Indian people.

So it is under the influence of the Hindu scriptures and texts since ancient ages that a large number of Indians opt for vegetarianism at any point of time. Among the world fraternity, the Indians have the lowest rate of meat consumption and number wise perhaps India would have more vegetarians compared to the rest of the countries put together. India has even devised a system of marking edible products made from only vegetarian ingredients, with a green dot in a square. Besides, a mark of a brown dot in a square indicates the presence of some animal-based ingredients in the preparation.

According to various estimates, approximately 31 to 40% Indians are vegetarian in the modern time. The corresponding figures for some other big and prominent nations are as follows: USA 3%, UK 3.3%, Australia 11%, Brazil 7.6%, Russia 3-4%, Canada 8%, China 4-5%, France 1.5%, Japan 4.7%, Germany 6-9% (Source: Wikipedia). In addition, there are large number of Hindus who fall under the category of non-vegetarians but do not ever kill or cook any kind of meat at home and only occasionally take it in hotels or parties. In India, the majority of people associated with meat trade hail from a particular section of the Muslim community. Most likely, the truth and ahimsa emphasized by the Hindu scriptures is largely responsible for a large number of Hindus remaining vegetarian. Besides, Hindus are most tolerant and least violent compared to the followers of the any other major particularly Abrahamic religions in the world. Respecting the life of all living beings and opting for the vegetarian diet should not be a cause for criticism or interference by other nationalities or religious groups.

Many Hindu texts refer to a voluntary stop to cow slaughter and the pursuit of vegetarianism as a part of a general abstention from violence against others and killing of animals. Though Hinduism lays emphasis on ahimsa but it neither interferes with the food habits of people through any edict or commandment nor through any means of coercion. It recommends the cattle protection because the ancient Indian Vedic society was agricultural based largely dependent on farming and cattle rearing. Cattles (particularly cow) were the only known rich source of complete protein diet and bulls were used in farming. Cattle faeces remained easy and plenty source of fertilisers and fuel. The cow milk was also an important ingredient for Indian medicine and even after the death of the cattle, the various body parts were made use in making various articles and artefacts. These are some of the reasons why Hindus lay emphasis on protection of Cattle (particularly cow) even today and in fact many devout Hindus even worship cows symbolically treating it like mother.

The chief reason of criticism and conflict in India on account of the cattle protection is the philosophically opposite way of lives of the two major communities. While Hinduism talks of ahimsa and preservation of life and insist for the protection of cattle for the given reasons, the followers of Islam believe that Allah (God) has created resources (cattle) for their consumption. Cattle slaughter has remained as a religiously approved practice among the Muslims and they sacrifice it particularly on festive occasions such as the Id-ul-Zuha (Bakrid). In the absence of cow, they settle for the goat slaughter as an alternative but many of them consider cattle protection by Hindus as some sort of encroachment in their ‘religious’ right to sacrifice cattle.

The cow veneration in Hinduism probably started in Vedic era as several religious text from the period recommend non-violence against man and animals, and some even equate the killing of a cow to that of a human particularly a Brahmin. The available records indicate that the Hindu opposition of the slaughter of animals has roots in the ancient Indian history but it took the form of the socio-religious and political opposition during the times of the British Raj. Some well-known personalities associated with the cow protection included Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, and Mahatma Gandhi, known as the father of the nation during the time. Even several communal riots were reported on cow killings towards the end of the nineteenth century, consequently cow slaughter was banned in several parts of India during the British period. Reportedly, even during the Mughal period Emperor Akbar had banned the cow slaughter considering the sensitivity of Hindus. In fact, not only Hindus but people from other Indian religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism have strong reservations against the killing of cows due to pious reasons.

Under the Indian Constitution, Article 48 mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught cattle. The Supreme Court of India too in a landmark judgement on 26 October 2005 had upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by the states in India. Currently, out of 29 states in India, 24 states have various regulations prohibiting either the slaughter or the sale of cows, Kerala, West Bengal and north-eastern states remaining the ones with no regulations on cow slaughter. The export of beef (i.e. cow, oxen and calf) is also prohibited. Apart from the religious sentiments of the majority populace, it is also a crucial issue of prevention of cruelty towards animals in a majority of illegally run slaughter houses.

In a country, where a large number of options are available for the meat-eating people in terms buffalo, goat and sheep, pork, poultry and eggs, variety of fresh and marine water fishes and prawns, there seems to be no rationale in pressing for illegal cow slaughter or trade by certain people of one community and consequent violence by the said cow vigilante (a new phenomenon) of the other community under the heightened passion. Ironically, such isolated unfortunate incidents are followed by a vicious campaign by some media, religious, political and self-styled seculars and liberals for scoring own points in the name of intolerance only tarnish the image of traditionally the most tolerant and vibrant democracy.

There is another point, with the majority people in the modern times switching over to the mechanized farming with the use of tractors, other farm equipment and chemical fertilisers, the utility and rearing of cows and oxen have minimized. The majority of the Indian farmers are now rearing Buffaloes and mixed breed cows (foreign origin) which yield more milk and dairy produce with no slaughter restriction. Besides, with anti-slaughter laws in place, more and more people shall move from cows to buffaloes, hence the banning of cow slaughter should not make much impact on the business segment and people must stop conflicts on the cattle protection.

There is Silver Lining

A deep and unbiased exploration of the Hindu scriptures and texts establish that the ancient Varna System was based on the merit and inclination of the individuals in the society and even Shudras (worker class) were included in the category of Savarna. The Varnas were not created to compete but to synergise together. Varna divisions were based on individual nature, temperament and acquired skills which were not immutable. In addition to the four Varnas, there was another class of ‘outcasts’ or ‘untouchables’ assigned to those who fell out of the system due to grievous sins or crime. These people along with the barbarians and other unrighteous people were classified as Avarna and employed in more menial and miserable tasks like sewage disposal, skinning of dead animals, cleaning up after funerals, and so on so forth.

At some later period, the practice appears to have gradually degenerated into the hereditary or birth based Jati or Caste System. Even in the modern times, irrespective of the caste consideration, the usual practice is that a doctor would endeavours to groom his children into the medical profession or a civil servant would facilitate his children to join in the civil service. Because a certain domain expertise is available in the family, the children will get a natural opportunity to imbibe the similar traits and expertise. Taking clue from this phenomenon, it is not unlikely that even in the Varna System, the unintended heritance was in-built with adequate flexibility to change as per acquired skills and competence. With the passage of time, the Hindu society also experienced maximum external aggressions and interference in their political and cultural life as also internal rifts and turmoil causing deep stress and insecurity within the society. It is not unlikely that all these factors had unfavourable bearing on an otherwise open and liberal society pressing individuals to follow a course as more conservative and self-seeking assertive people in an increasingly fragmented society, leading to a gradual transformation into a birth based caste system what used to be an erstwhile merit based Varna System.

The Varna System as such illustrated the high spirit of comprehensive synthesis and noble characteristics of the ancient Hindu mind with its faith in the collaboration of races and the cooperation of cultures with in-built values of the tolerance and trust. Similarly, the truth and ahimsa have been established as time tested and self-validated virtues that the ancient Hinduism emphasized since the ancient times through scriptures in the society. This is evident from the fact that the maximum number of Hindus opt for vegetarian food avoiding harm to other life forms. Similarly, Hindus are the only major civilization in the world which neither ever invaded other countries nor ever tried to offend or destroy other civilizations or cultures through evangelism or coercion. The caste system does have its evils but the reforms introduced by the government and various initiatives of the social groups and individuals in a self-validating Hindu society are quite competent and capable to tackle it with time.

Continued to Part IV 

More by :  Dr. Jaipal Singh
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