Caste and Varna in Hinduism
The ancient culture of India was based upon a system of social
diversification according to spiritual development.
Four orders of society were recognized based upon the four main goals of
human beings and established society accordingly. These four groups were
the Brahmins, the priests or spiritual class; the Kshatriya, the
nobility or ruling class; the Vaishya, the merchants and farmers; and
the Shudras or servants.
These four orders of society were called "varna", which has two
meanings; first it means "color"; and second it means a "veil".
As color it does not refer to the color of the skin of people, but to the
qualities or energies of human nature. As a veil it shows the four different
ways in which the Divine Self is hidden in human beings.
In ancient India, these divisions were not based on birth but based on
qualifications. According to the Bhagavad Gita this Aryan family
system broke down in India over three thousand years ago at the time of
Krishna. Hence after three thousand years this system of determining natural
aptitude has degenerated into the caste system which resembles it now only