Is Brahmin truely a Caste???
Brahmins are the self proclaimed upper caste in India. Vedas were crude documents of aryans which later were refined under the influence of indegenous Yogic and Tantrik civilization of India.
The Brahmins , in another opposing view, are only a "Class"("Varna", profession-based categorisation) and not a Caste("Jaati", a descendance-based categorisation) of People. This is because, a Caste, which can be interpreted nearly same as what is called a "tribe' in the west, the brahmins have no specifically described physical features or a geographical region to describe their origin.
In the Vedic literature also, there are hardly any specifc story to showcase the origin of this 'caste' of people, unlike the case of oher 'caste'.. Infact the stories which exist also reveal how people from different 'Caste' moved into the 'Class' of being callled Brahmins, and this by virtue of hard 'tapasya'(yoga/learning, as the case may be) they performed.
The word Brahmin connotes thing which is "Brahma' who is a hindu god who created this universe. The knowledge which was held in creation of the universe is called "Brahmmah". And the custodian of this knowledge is called a "Brahmin".
Thus a Brahmin is the holder of knowledge --the knowledge which relates to origin of universe, or call it, the theory of interconnection of actions and events in this Universe. One can notice, how the Concept of 'Brahmmah', further connotes about the ability of it's keeper, the Brahmin, in speaking about a future event. That is a Brahmin, a person able to speak about Future.
In course of time, the ability got further mystified into a new subject called "Astrology", which was about using the Star-gazing to do future-telling. This was quite an aberration and a kind of 'corruption' of the true knowledge --an art and a science- which was meant to provide a person his position while at sea-- called Nautical Astronomy. As this science of Nautical Astronomy also provided a sea-farer an ability to predict his position and to decide about his future course ( of his ship) at sea, It appears that some 'new" (read Weird) theories came about to 'corrupt' this science into an art of future-telling by way of Astrology!
The one who acquired this sophisticated knowledge of future-telling was called a Brahmin. In its original sense, the knowledge was resting on the theories of Action, the Karma, and thereby evolution of Ethics from it, the Dharma. In modern equivalent terms , this was like a study in Psychology and Social Psychology. Notice that with the help of knowledge of Psychology, a psychologist attempts to 'predict' the consequences of conduct of a person. That is how the actual knowledge of the Brahmmah must have worked.
In the Vedic Religion, there is no definite distinction between the Good and the Evil. It is in fact one such thing which makes the Vedic religion strikingly different from the Abrahmic faiths. Therefore the Vedic Faith is , in the study of religions across the world, also referred to as Dharmic Faith.
In Dharmic faiths, the Good and Evil are decided based upon Karma. For example, Ravan despite his huge knowledge and respect and devotion to Lord Shiva, stole away (kidnapped) Ram's wife Sita. Now, it is among these vacillating values and action that the legend hails the killing of Ravan by Ram, but also mentioning at one point that after arrowing down Ravan, Ram ordered his brother Lakshman to sit by Ravan to respectfully beg the latter to impart knowledge of "raaj paath" (Political Science and Public Administration) from the learned Scholar. (Refer J.L. Nehru's special mention of this episode in his book 'The Discovery of India')
THAT IS the reverence and worth of a Brahmin, which Ravan was.
Actions decide one's position as Good(meaning ,a publicly acceptable thing ) and Bad (meaning, a publicly reject-able thing).
Owing to this ever-shifting nature of Good and Evil, and a complex means to conclude the Good and Evil, that is, the understanding of Dharma, the Vedic people had tremendous dependence on the special acquirer of the knowledge, who were the Brahmins. NOTE AGAIN THAT SUCH ACQUIRERS OF KNOWLEDGE COULD COME FROM ANY CASTE OF PEOPLE.
Therefore, the whole idea of Brahmin being a 'Caste' and since the wisdom being predominantly of Genetic origin, thus apportioned to this club of people , is a kind of myth. The likely origin of the myth may be the fact that since the concept of Brahmm is very difficult to be understood, the Muslim rulers of India and later the British rulers, gave the Brahmin the treatment of a Caste. That was the mistake. Again, take note that there is no mention of Brahmin as a Caste in the Panchjanya of Vedas, the first five 'tribes' of people on earth, as per Vedas.
In the original sense,The Brahmin 'class' of people , thus, came with its own sets of duty towards common people . That was about imparting knowledge, helping the common people to distinct between Good and Evil, to help him with his day-today conduct, a good practice personal behaviour, to inform common man about future of his personal conduct, etc. The brahmins were thus respected by those same common people, for their altruism, austere conduct, renunciation, high knowledge.
Trouble seems to start at a later stage when the Brahmin Class of people also started to see themselves as a caste. There seems to be a rise of fascism (belief of seeing oneself better and higher than the rest) in them therefore, which is quite an antithesis of there reverend self in eyes of the common people.It is this self-proclaimed conduct of upper caste which reveals out the corruption of Brahmin from a mere class of people to a caste of people.
Another attempt by some common speaker on this matter , who has also pointedly expressed the problem of people, particularly the English Language writers, about the Jaati and Varna system of Indian society is available here. The author, however, as I disagree with him, treats a Varna to mean Color.! Like Indian society also believed in color discrimination., while the Gods were generally seen as dark -"Shyam".