Hindu society is traditionally divided into numerous jātis or classes, which are usually grouped into the four varṇas – often called ‘castes’ – of:
- Brāhmaṇa – priest
- Kṣatriya – warrior
- Vaśya – merchant or farmer
- Śūdra – labourer.
Relating to ritual purity, castes are hereditary and probably based on occupation. Members of different castes performed particular socio-economic roles and did not mix or eat the same food. People outside the caste system were usually looked down upon.