Chapter

The Caste System (<i>Varṇa, Jāti</i>) and Human Rights

Arvind Sharma

in Hinduism and Human Rights

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195665857
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082025 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195665857.003.0004
The Caste System (Varṇa, Jāti) and Human Rights

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This chapter shows how the caste system can be brought into relationship with human rights through the twin concepts of varṇa and jāti. The concept of varṇa can be viewed as a system of balancing duties and privileges. Human rights can be brought into relationship with both sides of this scale. The point at which Hindu thought makes its own contribution to human rights discourse is when it proposes that the discourse must view rights and duties as an integrated whole. The concept of jāti refers to the entire human race (mānava jāti) because one is born a human being. This is in keeping with human rights discourse for at the basis of the discourse on human rights there is the assumption of a universal human nature common to all peoples.

Keywords: caste system; human rights discourse; varṇa; jāti; universal human nature

Chapter.  11726 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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