definition of outcast

The word pariah has two meanings. He is a member of the lower caste of Hinduism and, at the same time, in the Western world an outcast is a socially marginalized person, someone who is very disadvantaged in the whole of society.

Outcasts and the caste system in India

In the tradition of Hinduism, society is organized from a stratified system. In this way, the birth of an individual within a type of family and his ethnicity determine his social position. This structure is known as caste systems.

The caste system is based on the belief in reincarnation, that is, the human being has lived a life prior to this and will have another life after death. According to the behavior in the current life, one life or another will be had in the next existence. Consequently, the behavior in life will determine a more or less favorable reincarnation.

In the caste system it is not possible to change from one social stratum to another, since when you are born into a caste you remain in it until death. Each caste has its world, that is, its rules, its language, and its own gods.

Comparing the caste system to a pyramid, at the top are the Brahmans, who are the religious leaders

At the next level are the Kshatriyas, made up of warriors and rulers. Then come the Vaishyas or merchants and the Shudras, who are the peasants and workers. At the base of the pyramid are the Dalits, also known as outcasts or untouchables.

Outcasts are considered impure and this causes them to be despised by the rest of the castes. In recent decades they themselves began to call themselves Dalits, a term that means downtrodden. With this term the outcasts were denouncing their unjust social situation and the marginalization they suffered. Despite the fact that the caste system is officially abolished, in everyday life the outcasts continue to carry out the least recognized activities (they incinerate corpses, carry out cleaning tasks in very precarious conditions and carry out the most thankless tasks).

Outcasts in the Western world

In the Western world there is no caste system, but there is a social hierarchy based on economic position as the main factor that determines the role of each individual in the whole of society. The most disadvantaged are called pariahs, a term that is equivalent to others, such as marginalized, uprooted, destitute, homeless or homeless.

Photo: iStock - triloks

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