The Sudra varna is known as the “not
knowledgeable” varna because – unlike the members of the three
higher varnas – the Sudra are prevented from performing upanayana,
a rite that begins the study of the sacred Vedas. The Sudra varna,
therefore, is a class of people who lack this religious education.
The Sudra comprise the largest varna,
which has evolved to include everyone from small landowners on one
end of the spectrum to scavengers on the lower end. Sudra varna includes
those working in such jobs as maids, street sweepers, janitors,
unskilled laborers, barbers and waiters. The traditional varnas include:
- Brahmin –
the priestly and teacher varna.
- Kshatriya –
the ruler and public service varna.
- Vaishya –
the business and merchant varna.
- Sudra/Dalit –
the semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
Hinduism offers a path to moving up the
varna system via reincarnation. Someone who fulfills his/her duty
(dharma) in one life may improve his/her social position in the