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Varna (Hinduism) facts for kids

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Varṇa (Sanskrit: वर्ण), a Sanskrit word with several meanings including type, order, colour or class, was used to refer to social classes in Hindu texts like the Manusmriti. These and other Hindu texts classified the society in principle into four varnas:

  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Shudras: laborers and service providers.

Communities which belong to one of the four varnas or classes are called savarna or "caste Hindus". The Dalits and tribes who do not belong to any varna were called avarna.

This quadruple division is a form of social stratification, quite different from the more nuanced system Jātis which correspond to the European term "caste".

The varna system is discussed in Hindu texts, and understood as idealised human callings. The concept is generally traced to the Purusha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda.

The commentary on the Varna system in the Manusmriti is oft-cited. Counter to these textual classifications, many Hindu texts and doctrines question and disagree with the Varna system of social classification.

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