Caste system and domestication went for a walk

  • Post category:Psychology / Social
  • Reading time:7 mins read
I got you finally!

I like to walk, a lot. I have been on various walks at variety of places. On the street, by sea side, by lakes, rivers or on mountains. Many of those walks were more than 30 km. A walk can open a portal to different world or worlds. It depends how long you can manage to stay in one portal. Which “outer” world you would go to probably depends on many different factors including your state of mind and the place where you are walking. I have no clue which bus or flight would I take when I step out of the house. However, I usually know that it would be a new experience.

Alright, let’s get back in this world for now. It is not that you always end up in some new dimension. On other times, when you are waiting on the stop, the bus just never comes. However, for me it opens up an opportunity to observe. Observe myself, my thoughts or in simple case people around me. If you are walking in the city, it gives you plenty of options and perspectives to observe. One common site in the modern city is to see the people moving around with one end of “rope” in their hand and on other side supposedly “man’s best friend”, a dog. It is a pretty simple view where the owner and dog are having nice walk together. It is apparently way more important moment for the dog than the owner. However, couple of weeks back it made me think in a different way and I do not know the answer to it.

On my travels, for work or otherwise, I came across people from many different countries. From many topics, there is a common topic most of them are curious about, “the caste system“. Of course, this is a very wide topic, but I will try to stick to just one perspective for this article. Just to be clear, that I am not addressing the debate on different understanding of the caste system by western scholars and Indian historians and who started what and who changed what. For this article, I am using caste, jati, varna all in one bucket as the common understanding goes today. I am sorry, if some experts do not like this idea.

The opening sentence could be, “Does the caste system still exists in India? It was really bad for the people”. Or it could be, “We heard that there were some people tagged as untouchables, what are they called, I forgot the word!” It is not easy to answer such a complex topic, especially even while grown up there, I won’t classify myself as someone who can respond with its full understanding. How can you explain the untouchables? One popular story is that these were the people who would do the tasks that stand lowest in the categories of the “The caste system” examples including cleaning, taking care of animals etc. I do not remember where, but in one debate between the upper class and lowest class the, the reference is made that lower class would be put to clean the high class people toilets and their pets toilets.

Who is the boss now?

Of course, there were many other ways in which the lowest class was limited, but I won’t go into that detail here. Now for a brief moment, I would like to add another historical/evolutionary event in the human history, the domestication of animals. Different animals were domesticated to take care of menial tasks that humans would not like to do themselves. Just a couple of examples; I do not want to plough by myself, lets get bulls to do it Or I do not want to be up watching my barn, lets put some dogs around for that. Of course thousands of years caused people and animals to change. Both kept on changing their behavior as the situations changed. For a lot of people around the world, having an animal as pet probably does not serve the same purpose today as the forefathers would have thought.

Now let me try to bring these two totally unrelated topics together and join them with a rope. One side there is hand of a human and on other side a dog’s neck. In a simple glance it looks like human is the master and dog is the pet who does things for the master. However, let’s look at this scene from the domestication perspective.

  • The master is buying toys and gadgets for the dog. 
  • Master takes the dog to washing centers or give it to somebody or puts his own effort.
  • Master needs to, and is actually worried that he must be on time to, take the dog out for the much needed walk. 
  • Master buys special food for the dog and tries to watch which company makes the food that his dog likes. 
  • There are even those who take their dogs to the “dog beauty parlors”.
  • The master does not go out to a party as the dog would be left alone. 

Now, who has domesticated whom at the end? People are carrying dogs in their arms while putting leashes to their kids! Now let’s take the perspective of caste system on the same scene. Again, here the upper caste made use of the caste system to pass on things to lowest cast which they themselves found disgusting to do or found too low for their status.

  • Master drives the car, while the dog sits in the back of the seat! 
  • Dog walks around the park while the master wait eagerly around him, so that as soon the dog does its business, he is ready to bend his back to pick up the delivery while its still fresh 

Surely, the humans became the most powerful animal on the planet and rose up to the top of the food chain. Humans are also proud to be the smartest species on this side of the universe. However, seems like with time humans changed quite a lot to move to the other side of the table. They seems to be happy doing those things, which earlier they thought unfitting for their pride or utility.

Be careful there you human!

I do not have any pet of my own. I hope to keep the situation as is for couple of other reasons too. I am not sure if I will evolve so fast in my life time to reach the other side of the table. But, if that happens, then I hope someone can share this article to me. If it does not change my decision, it might add some strange smile to my face.

Now for you, who has a dog, pick up that leash and take him out. Your master is waiting for you!

Keep smiling


Arundeep Singh

PS: I took dog as an example. However, it applies to other pets as well.

A man was seated at a lunch counter when a pretty girl, followed by young Mulla Nasrudin came in. They took the only vacant stools, which happened to be on either side of the side. Wanting to be gracious, he offered to change seats with Mulla Nasrudin so they might sit together. ”Oh, that’s not necessary,” said the Mulla. But the man insisted, and they changed seats.