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Ancient India
Caste System in Ancient India



Caste System in Ancient India
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.62

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    inter-caste, labor-intensive, norm, outcastes, populace, reborn, setup, twice-born, untouchables, VYSH-yuh, herders, combat, embedded, initiation, marketplace, so-called
     content words:    Central Asia, As Kshatriyas, Like Kshatriyas, As Shudras, When Brahma


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Caste System in Ancient India
By Vickie Chao
  

1     About 3,600 years ago, a group of cattle herders from Central Asia settled into India. This group of people, called the Aryans, brought with them their beliefs, customs, and writing system (Sanskrit). They introduced a rigid caste structure that divided people into four classes.
 
2     Under this setup, Brahmins or priests made up the highest caste. They held a tremendous amount of power over everybody else. They were the only ones who could both study and teach the holy texts, known as the Vedas. They were also the only ones who could perform sacrifices and other religious rites. Because of their authority, people of other castes often gave them generous donations. By giving Brahmins (also spelled as Brahmans) valuable goods, people of other castes believed that they would be rewarded in their next life.
 
3     Next to the Brahmin class was the Kshatriya (pronounced "shuh-TREE-uh") class. It consisted of warriors and rulers. Kshatriyas' main duties were to govern and defend the country. Though they could learn the Vedas as Brahmins did, they could not teach the holy texts. As Kshatriyas were responsible for the national defense, they underwent extensive military training. They were the experts in archery, swordsmanship, and hand-to-hand combat.

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