The division of society on the basis of region, religion, caste, creed, sex, etc., which is gnawing the basic structure of the nation is not new, it has a long past behind it. Preachers and Leaders came with different philosophies and sometimes their wrong interpretations led to these prejudices and divisions in the society. It has not only divided the hearts of the people but boundaries too. Gods were also not spared, their different forms are worshiped across the regions.
Although we have so many diverse religions- Hinduism, Islamism, Christianity, Jainism and Sikhism, to name some, but not a single religion or cult is without a division or sub-division. And yet they all preach people to tread the right and virtuous path.
The division can be attributed for better governance and better co-existence due to the increase in population.
In ancient India, the tasks were related to different sections of the society to ease leadership issues, management and specializing. The Brahmin were given priest class to impart knowledge of religion, philosophy, and other ancillary branches ,while the warrior class, the Kshatriya, were trained in the various aspects of warfare. The business class, the Vaishyas, were taught their trade and the working class of the Shudras had to perform other various supporting roles. Slowly ,with the time, these divisions became rigid as the hard liners took over and discrimination became common. Reservations offered by politicians for votes too aggravated the problem.
Manu’s eldest son, Priyavarta, a Kshatiya, was a king. Out of his ten sons, seven became kings while three became Brahmins. Valmiki, the composer of Ramayana is supposed to belong to low-caste. There are various other incidences which depict the flexibility in the ancient caste system.
Either the division of society has prevailed since ages, even in the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata or these epics were written after the division. In Ramayana, Lord Rama did eat plums of Shabri while his brother Laxman refused. Kevat (boatman) helped them to cross the river. Then again on washer man’s insistence, Rama sent Sita to forest. In Mahabharata, Karan was also humiliated for being sutputra (charioteer’s son). Eklavya was not taught archery because of religious restrictions.
Similarly the role of women was limited to household chores as they were not educated. As the importance of women in society increased with the time in the man dominated world, Goddesses were included for worship along with the Gods.
The sun rays shine equally on everybody and everywhere, it is the pal of ignorance and illiteracy that has covered our souls, that pesters us to discriminate. Aptly said-division is the last refuge of human savagery.