Caste: 3 definitions

Introduction:

Caste means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

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In Hinduism

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: SOAS University of London: Protective Rites in the Netra Tantra

Caste system in Tantra.—The Svacchanda-tantra allows for the initiation of members of many castes. A student may even become a member of the caste of Śiva through initiation. This new identity eclipses the caste status of the non-Tantric society. While this could, in theory, indicate the erasure of hierarchy within a society, these new Śaiva identities create, in fact, several new hierarchical categories. The first replaces caste distinction with initiatory status. The second, which I discuss below, involves power exchanges between Tantric and non-Tantric practitioners. Here, the Tantric practitioner simultaneously maintains multiple identities. Further, because his status as a Tantric would normally be concealed from the non-Tantric, he is in sole possession of knowledge that shapes the interaction with the non-Tantric.

Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Yoga (school of philosophy)

Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation by Jason Birch

The Caste (in Sanskrit: Jāti) one feels connected to, should be abandoned as preliminary practice before one starts to meditate on his own (inner) state, according to the Sarvajñānottara verse 20.34-39.—Accordingly, while discussing the culmination of detachment (for the process of attaining the no-mind state): “Having abandoned those feelings connected with his region, caste (jāti), his caste-class and religious disciplines, the wise should meditate on his own [inner] state. Abandoning all such feelings as ‘this is [my] mantra’, ‘this is [my] deity’, ‘this is [my] meditation’ [or] ‘this is [my] austerity’, he should meditate on his own [inner] state. [...]”.

Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): (shaktism)

Castes are known in the Sanskrit as Varṇa, according to the 17th century Kaulagajamardana (“crushing the Kaula elephant”) authored by Kāśīnātha or Kṛṣṇānandācala.—Accordingly, [as Īśvara said to Pārvatī]: “Listen, O Pārvatī, I shall give a critique of the Pāṣaṇḍas. Knowing this, a wise man is not defeated by them. Those devoted to fake observances; those who rebuke the religion of the Vedas; those who have fallen from caste and religious duties (varṇa-āśrama-paribhraṣṭa); those who have erred and think themselves learned, they are [all] called Pāṣaṇḍas [because] they act contrary to [true] religion. They fall into a terrifying hell until the end of the world. [...]”

Shaktism book cover
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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