Chatur means four and Varna means guna or category. Hindu society was divided into four major hierarchic castes categories on the basis of varna or colour. Varna is understood as guna or merit. But caste was determined not on the merit of the person but by birth. Thus caste is inherited. These are four varnas:
- the Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.
- the Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
- the Vaishyas: cattle herders, agriculturists, artisans and merchants.
- the Shudras: laborers and service providers.