Shudra The fourth and the last varna or caste in the Hindu socio-religious hierarchy is Shudra. The Aryans grouped themselves into brahman, ksatriya, and vaishya and assumed the responsibilities of performing different types of important work while the non-Aryans and natives were made Shudra and allotted physical labour for the services of the higher castes. Nevertheless, many ancient Indians remained outside the four castes and lived independently of the influences of casteism.

The puranas describe all the sub-castes of Bengal except the Brahmans as mixed Shudra classes some of which during the later part of British rule were upgraded as higher castes. In Bangladesh Shudras are recognised as a Scheduled Caste, and form the majority of the Hindu minority community in Bangladesh. In India Shudras belong to the Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes and account for more than 52% of the Indian population and have about 3,473 sub-castes or jaties.

The Shudras are untouchables and extremely poor. They have little access to sanitation, housing, health care, and education facilities. Untouchability has almost disappeared from Bangladesh but it is still acute in many parts of India.

In the ancient and medieval periods, there were Shudra hermits, sages, scholars, heroes. Modern India produced many Scheduled Caste politicians, scholars, teachers, bureaucrats and artists. [Hiralal Bala]

See also caste system.