Human Rights and the World's Major Religions

By William H. Brackney | Go to book overview

SEVENTEEN
Buddhism and Caste

Lord Buddha rather clearly addressed the caste system, one of the defining social structures of the Hindu tradition. While it is not certain exactly what form of the system prevailed in India where Gautama grew up and lived, there are a number of references to issues that arose from it in the Buddhist canon. The basic idea of the Hindu caste system is that all human beings belong to a particular social slot by virtue of birth, and that one’s social duties, responsibilities, and benefits are clearly laid out according to one’s position in the hierarchy. Every particular rebirth into the social system is understood as being the fruit of one’s personal karma in his or her previous existences, which, in effect, means that whatever one gets one deserves.

In practice, in India the caste system is very complex indeed, with many local variations, but the basic idea is that there are four classes, which were established in primal times by divine activity. Therefore, they are immutable, holy, and understood to be a fundamental expression of the law that governs the whole of creation (dharma). To break the laws of caste is not only a human error to be punished here and now, it also violates the divine order. Functionally, the four classes from the highest down are priests (Brahmins), warriors or rulers (Ksatriyas), merchants (Vaisyas), and servants (Sudras). The Sudras at the base were there to serve all the others.

Lower than the four classes, there were also the “outcastes,” groups who were said to have come from those who violated the laws of dharma, by improper intermarriage for example, and were therefore thrust out from society altogether. Outcastes were considered so polluted that to touch

-339-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Human Rights and the World's Major Religions
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 486

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.