The Social structure is a very important and most controversial part of Hinduism, in this thread I will try to explain how original philosophy of Hinduism ensured social justice for all.
First basic definition-
Justice means- “A person getting what they deserve” Social justice means each and every member of society is given due and equal consideration. That will ensure each one gets what they deserve.
▪︎ Varna-Ashrama system –
The original purpose of Varna system which was work and quality based, was to ensure that people get what they deserve.
Original Varna system was based on qualities of individual and varna could change, we have enough evidences for that (Manusmriti 10/65, Aitreya Brahman 2.19 etc)
So Varna system Categorized individuals on basis of their qualities and ensured same duties and privileges for a group. This ensures “Equal treatment for equals” and hence promotes social justice.
But Varna system also promoted “Propotionate Justice” different groups were treated differently according to their qualities, For example a Learned and well educated person would get more punishment as compared to an illiterate person for same crime. (Manusmriti 8.337-338)
Also as there was no suriety in which Varna a person can land in according to Karma and qualities, something like “Rawls’ theory of Justice” ensured no group was discriminated against.
So the Varna system ensured that a person gets what he deserved, unfortunately this system became “only birth based” , got entrenched in our society and we got the present form of Caste system which is synonymous with Injustice.
The Ashrama system similarly categorized people on basis of “which stage of life they are in”, the students had different rules and duties as their objective was to attain knowledge, Households had different set of duties and privileges and similarly “Sanyasis”(hermits) had a different set of rules.
Even today while making policies governments consider “Age, Education, health, professions etc” This shows that how important categorization is.
▪︎No Gender based discrimination-
In Hinduism women are given equal status and opportunities while not ignoring the natural inequalities between men and women at the same time. Women did get educated, followed “Brahmacharya Ashrama” just like men (Atharva Veda 11.5.18)
Girls and boys were considered equal (Manusmriti 9/130) and “Respect and Happiness” of women was given utmost importance (Manusmriti 3.56-57) Women were allowed to remarry freely( Atharva veda 9.5.27-28) same way as men were. Hence Hinduism ensures Social justice for all.
Hindu society didn’t discriminate against women and Shudras until the land was invaded and ancient system became Rigid. Now we must recognize the true nature of Hinduism, remove medieval adulterations and try to implement the beautiful teachings in society to ensure Social Justice.