As I had read in books on Indian History (which certainly do not discuss ideas in detail), the caste system as had been originally devised was not rigid; in other words, a person 'born into' a caste could change his work and thereby, shift his caste. I am curious to know if the scriptures give us an idea about the transition of the nature of the caste system. On a side note, I'd also like to know if untouchability prevailed during the ancient times.

  • I do not think it was that easy,Because according to our scriptures, caste is determined by birth.You could read the answers on difference relations between caste and varna etc. – user17294 Apr 25 at 19:02
  • A better title would be just: "How did caste system go from fluid to rigid?" because I doubt if scriptures discuss the transition. If they did, history books would be simply quoting/citing them. 'if untouchability prevailed during the ancient times' - see this post. – sv. Apr 25 at 23:53
  • who wrote those 'Indian History' books ? probably people with western-inclined ideologies. Caste system was and is based on birth for 99.99% of cases, with the exceptions being those with superhuman ability (e.g. fasting for years in deep meditation), or those born with divine boons (or curses). So it didn't go from fluid to rigid. It was and still is rigid. the only difference now is that most people don't follow it due to long periods of caste-mixing through inter-marriage and inter-work. – ram Apr 26 at 6:42
  • yes untouchability prevailed in olden days, and still prevails today, and it is nothing to be ashamed of, once you understand the reason behind it. for example, a person belonging to one varna will not touch another person belong to same varna if the latter has not washed his feet post urination. if he does touch him by accident, he has to bathe himself. even today, we put criminals behind bars and nobody interacts with them right ? in olden days, chandalas were those who had done heinous crimes (they could even be a brahmana by birth) in this birth or previous, and society would shun them. – ram Apr 26 at 6:46
  • I always know the caste system was for a reason, and a well defined one. But I heavily doubt that it has been implemented the way it was supposed to. We must accept the evils it has brought, and Brahmins of the time should have brought modifications to it, so that the loopholes could be closed. However, Hindus are fundamentally different (and IMO, better) in the way that we realize and openly debate what is not good, unlike other religions like Islam where preachers keep idealizing the faith despite huge gaps between purpose and execution. – Aabesh Ghosh Apr 26 at 14:37

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