HomeBlogs Balinese Caste System The Balinese caste system is a system of social organization similar to
the Indian caste system. However, India's caste system is far more
complicated than Bali's, and there are only four Balinese castes.
The four castes of Bali are: * Shudras - peasants making up more than 90% of Bali's population. They constitute close to 93% of the population. * Wesias (Vaishyas) - the caste of merchants & administrative officials * Satrias (Kshatriyas) - the warrior caste, it also included some nobility and kings * Brahmins - holy men and priests
Note the similarity of the castes to the four varnas (shudra, vaishya, kshatriya, brahmin) of India.
members of the four castes use different dialects of the Balinese
language to address members of a different caste. Middle Balinese is
generally used to speak to people whose caste is unknown in an
encounter. Once the caste status of the participants are established,
the proper language is used to address each other.
caste system is used more in religious settings where the members of the
lower caste would ask the members of the Brahman caste (the Pedandas)
to conduct ceremonies. Since the Dutch colonial years and more recently
after the Indonesian independence, the differences in the economic roles
of the members of the caste system are slowly eroding as the government
prohibits treatments based on the caste system.
Most of the
Kshatriya families in Java and Bali became extinct during the fall of
the Majapahit and the numerous Javanese wars. Almost all of the Balinese
Kshatriyas trace their origin to the royal family of King Deva Agung,
who ruled 500 years ago. Some of the original Kshatriyas, like those
claiming descent from Arya Damar were relegated to Wesia status, so only
those claiming descent from Deva Agung are recognized as proper
Kshatriya in Bali.
During the 1950s and 1960s there were
conflicts between supporters of the traditional caste system in Bali and
its opponents. Many of the latter were affiliated with the PKI, the
Communist Party of Indonesia, which was violently oppressed during the
Indonesian killings of 1965–1966.