This is how the BBC Defines Hindu Caste System – The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. The main castes were further divided into about 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, each based on their specific occupation. Outside of this Hindu caste system were the achhoots – the Dalits or the untouchables.
BBC’s narrative is in-line with most of the available literature on India’s caste system which is supposed to be archaic, unfair and something which is inherited, not earned. But is it so? Do Vedas advocate caste by birth? Do the Upanishads talk about it? Do our ancient epics advocated a caste by birth system. Let us not bother ourselves with History or theology, let us talk science, Mathematics more specifically.
It is mathematically impossible that there existed caste by birth in India. Here is why.
Each of us has two (2) biological parents, a father and a mother. Similarly, we have four (4) grandparents and eight great-grandparents (8) and so on. Put otherwise, as we go backwards for each generation the number of ancestors doubles from the previous generation. It is basically a simple mathematical phenomenon. In mathematical notation, it is written as 2^n (where n = the number of generations ago).
If one calculates the value for, say 10 generations we get a value of 1024 ancestors, that is great-great-…-great-grandparents. Continuing on to 20 generations ago, we get an astoundingly astronomical figure of 1,048,576 (ten lakhs forty-eight thousand five hundred and seventy-six only).
This is a mathematical reality and not a gimmick.
The current population of the Republic of India alone is about 130 crores (1.3 billion people). This excludes the population of “united India,” that is the pre-1935 Government of India Act territory nations of Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Pakistan and Bangladesh.
If everyone’s ancestral count 20 generations ago are added the total would exceed the number of humans ever lived on this planet.
Mathematicians had shown that just 20 generations ago our ancestors were all brothers, sisters and cousins: all of us alive now shared the same ancestors. This is technically called the “pedigree collapse.”
The implications of pedigree collapse are that there could have been no caste-by-birth in existence then as they were all from the same extended family. How can there be different caste-by-birth within a family? Of course, each one can become a doctor, a soldier, a priest and so on by merit though.
Thus our “eminent” historians and politicians have been perpetrating a lie used by the British Christians to further the agenda of divide and rule. Liar liar, pants on fire…
1. Chang JT. Recent common ancestors of all present-day individuals. Adv. Appl. Prob. 1999: 31, 1002–1026
2. Rhode DLT, Olson S, Chang JT. Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans. Nature. 2004: 431, 562–56