- from Ancient India
From the Vedas, we know that Aryan society was strictly divided into four classes, or varnas. Each class was made up of families with similar jobs and status.
At the top were the Brahmans, traditionally priests, followed by the Kshatriyas, traditionally warriors. Next came the Vaishyas, who were farmers, craftsmen, and merchants. The Shudras were the lowest recognized class, and many were slaves or servants. Below the Shudras were people who did work no one else would do, and they were referred to as untouchables. When Europeans came to India many centuries later, they used the word caste to describe India’s rigid social system.