The caste system as a central symbol and core of Indian tradition seems to be an irrefutable reality today. What if it is not? What if it is actually a European construct?
Dr. Dunkin Jalki, in his seminar for the Indic Talks series, tackles this subject head on.
He posits, with good logic, that the ‘Caste system’ as commonly understood today is Eurocentric in origin and does not represent the traditional social structure of India. Many scholars, both Western and Indian, conflate varna, jati, and gotra with caste, a term derived from Portuguese word casta. Instead of using Indian sources, they prefer to rely on western sources such as ancient Greek historian Megasthenes to describe the Indian social structure. They portray it as a rigid, inhumane structure with occupational restrictions preventing mobility.
The end result is that Hindu society is stuck with an European imposed social structure that has little to do with their own tradition.