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Mount Allison University
Religious Studies
RELG 1681
Sam Borsman

Vedic Society: Class (varna=colour)  found in Rig Veda's "Hymn to the Cosmic Man" o Purusha Sukta, the "Cosmic Man" is sacrificed and from his body arises the cosmos, and the social order o "From his mind came the moon From his eye, the sun Indra and Agni from his mouth The wind came from his breath."  elaborated in later Hindu legal texts o Dharmashastra literature o Laws of Manu (c. 1C. CE)  "varna" as both a racial designation and a cosmic phenomenon  The 4 Varnas: o 1. Brahmins- priestly class; teach and recite Vedas; perform Vedic ritual; come from Cosmic Man's mouth o 2. Kshatriyas- warrior, ruling class; protect society (kings, soldiers); come from Cosmic Man's arms o 3. Vaishyas- merchant, commoner class; trade, culture class; come from Cosmic Man's legs o 4. Shudras- servant class; serve the top three classes; no access to Vedic knowledge or rituals; come from Cosmic Man's feet o the top three classes were made up of Aryans, and the Shudras were non-Aryan or Dravidian o additionally, there exists outside the caste system, a group called the Pariah, or "the untouchables" (Ghandi called them "Children of God" but this was seen to be patronizing); now called the "Dalit," meaning "the oppressed"  the varnas are not occupations, but rather social designations based on ritual degrees of purity o remember the two M's: meals and marriage- varna determines who one can eat with and prepare food for, and whom one can ma
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