What is in Manusmriti , here is the translation.
In the early Vedic period (1300 B.C.E-1000 B.C.E), neither varnas nor jātis existed extensively. Instead the varna structure was presented in the Vedas as an ideal for society to aspire to. However, the Vedas do present a model of creation within which you were not to be equal in the eyes of the very divine that created you, at the time that they created you. The Purusha Suktha, the 90th hymn in the 10th Book of the Rig Veda, presents a cosmogony that describes the creation of man. From the head of a primeval God, arose the Brahmans (priests, scholars), from the arms, Kshatriya (kings, warriors), the thighs, Vaishya (merchants, cultivators) and the feet, Shudra (servants, slaves). While this visioning for society was not yet caste, it does implicitly and divinely ordain genesis directly into a compartments of graded inequality. It is very important to note that there is no neutrality in such a design. In other places throughout the texts and even today in most of modern South Asia, the head has always been considered superior and the feet lowly, ritually unclean and polluting.
The HAF states that the Vedas were not focused on the oppression of caste and that social divisions only came later. While many verses can be cited to present a counter to this claim, I cite only a key Vedic text — the Chandogya Upanishad, which records deep contempt for Chandalas (outcastes/Dalits) “Now, people of good conduct can expect to quickly attain a pleasant birth, like that of a Brahmin, the Kshatriya, or the Vaishya. But people of evil conduct can expect to enter a foul womb, like that of a dog, a pig, or a Chandala.”
Factor in the idea that the Vedas represent a supreme sanction of Brahminical dharma (law/praxis), and this lays ground for the materializing of more rigid, more complex and more oppressive varna-jāti religio-social orders.
Caste in the Smritis
The Smritis constitute sacred texts that are considered human recollections, like laws, histories and epics. The HAF has asserted in their caste report that the Smritis “by their very nature and intent, are recognized to change with space and time and do not necessarily teach Hinduism’s eternal spiritual truths.”
However this is not a uniform position in Brahminism. Aditi Banerjee, former board member has said “It is not a grant of license for political organizations like the HAF to cherry-pick among the texts to pick out verses that are their favorites and call them the real “Hinduism” and discard the others.”
We assert that both the Shrutis and the Smritis bear condemnable caste advocacy.
Why does the HAF attempt to diminish the role of the Smritis? A clue comes by the time of Manu (200 B.C.E — 200 C.E), the gruesome lawgiver and author of the Manusmriti at a time when Brahmins were issuing the last nail in the coffin of an equitable society. Through these Smritis, the varnas moved from being a divinely envisioned ideal to a hard everyday reality of both varnas and jātis. Manu and the authors of the Smritis effectively cemented the varna system. These texts are so inhumane that even the believers find them hard to swallow and would rather gloss over them.
A cursory reading of some of these rules in the various Smritis make it impossible to accept the HAF point of view of the varna system as an ideal system that people accepted without resistance. It is emphasized that the dharmic duty of Brahmans was to be scholars, Kshatriyas, warriors and Vaishyas to be farmers and merchants. In dealing with the Shudras, however, Manu and his colleagues are especially cruel.
“But a Shudra, whether bought or not bought (by the Brahmin) may be compelled to practice servitude, for that Shudra was created by the self-existent merely for the service of the Brahmin. Even if freed by his master, the Shudra is not released from servitude; for this (servitude) is innate in him; who then can take it from him.”
Education, reading, writing and academic pursuits were off-limits to Shudras and the slightest attempts at access to knowledge were severely punishable. “Now if he (a Shudra) listens intentionally to (a recitation of) the Veda, his ears shall be filled with (molten) tin or lac. If he recites (Vedic texts), his tongue shall be cut out. If he remembers them, his body shall be split in twain”
It is crucial to note that, in a varna society, penalties for “criminal” activities are meted out not proportional to the offense committed but specific to your location in the varna order.
“A Brahmin may take possession of the goods of a Shudra with perfect peace of mind, for, since nothing at all belongs to this Shudra as his own, he is one whose property may be taken away by his master.”
“Indeed, an accumulation of wealth should not be made by a Shudra even if he is able to do so, for the sight of mere possession of wealth by a Shudra injures the Brahmin.”
It is also important to contextualize these writings. These grim dictates were being established at a time when Śramaṇa (ascetic) traditions like Buddhism were beginning to take root and flourish. It is not inconceivable that under the threat of religious competition in the subcontinent, attempts were being made by the Brahmins to cement the varna-jāti framework through severe legal intervention.
With this understanding of religious basis for caste, let’s address some final points.
The Caste Structure was/is not Fluid
The HAF makes some bold claims on mobility supposedly inherent within caste society- that mobility existed as the norm between varnas, that people could really choose which varna they had characters they were most suited to. There are several alarming questions that arise from this claim. Why anyone would believe, themselves and their loved ones, to be most suited to peasantry and slave labor? If everyone had the choice, wouldn’t they have all chosen the seemingly respectable livelihoods of Brahmins and “upper”- castes? It is neither fulfilling nor dignifying to be bonded to a landlord, to be a village servant, to be cleaning up shit or disposing of rotting animal carcasses.
If mobility between varnas was in fact the norm, one must wonder why so much painstaking effort has then been put in by the authors of several Brahminical skriptures to legislate permanent social inequality between varnas, to condemn punish inter-varna relationships and to bastardize and excommunicate the offspring from such unions.
“On having intercourse with Chandala women, on eating their food or receiving presents from them, a Brahmin unwittingly falls; but if he does so wittingly, he comes to an equality with them.”
Another idea that contradicts the claims of a fluid caste structure is the Brahmanical belief of karma that states that the actions of your past life result in your jāti and fate in the present one. This is also profoundly offensive to Bahujans. It criminalizes people victimized by varna, celebrates oppressor varnas and accrues further social capital for them while freeing them from accountability for their actions.