Eastern Spirituality

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Portuguese word to describe in a western context the Hindu system of classification of peoples (jāti). Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, non-commensality and hereditary occupations. According to Human Rights Watch and UNICEF, caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide.

A paradigmatic, ethnographic example is the division of Indian society into social groups. Historically, the caste system in India has consisted of thousands of endogamous groups called Jatis or Quoms and Biradaris (among Muslims). The Nepalese caste system resembles the Indian Jāti system with numerous Jāti divisions with the theoretical Varna system superimposed for a rough equivalence.

Religious, historical and sociocultural factors have also helped define the bounds of endogamy for Muslims in India and Pakistan. The Caste system in Sri Lanka is a division of society into strata, similar to the Jāti system found in India.

Yezidi society is hierarchical. In Yemen there exists a hereditary caste, the African-descended Al-Akhdam who are kept as perennial manual workers. Various sociologists have reported caste systems in Africa.

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z