What Are the Levels of the Indian Caste System?

The different levels in the Indian caste system are the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, the Shudras, the Adivasi and the Dalits. While Indian law prohibits discrimination by caste, the system still appears to have an important connection to social mobility in India.

The Brahmins, being the highest caste of all, were traditionally priests or teachers. During the British rule in India, Brahmins were placed at some of the most influential administrative positions. Ever since India’s freedom, Brahmins have dominated positions in science, business and government.

The next caste level is the Kshatriyas, who were traditionally the military class. While the preeminence of this caste has disappeared through time, Kshatriyas are still largely land owners in India.

Vaishyas were traditionally farmers, cattle-herders and merchants. Making up approximately one fifth of today’s population in India, Vaishyas are mostly middle-class individuals. Shudras, on the other hand, were considered the lowest of all castes in India. They are not considered a historically disadvantaged caste.

The Adivasi were mostly ethnic and tribal groups that lived in rural areas. Today, these individuals are dependent on forest produce as a source of income, and 68 percent of them do not reach secondary education.

The Dalits were at the bottom of the caste system. Often known as “untouchables,” the Dalits were those who carried out jobs considered ritually impure.