CASTE AND VARNA

PART 1

1. There are people who have the fancy to say Casteism is the bane of Hinduism and in turn blame it on our Dharma.

2. Is it really true that casteism is a product of our Dharma?

3. Many people, actually almost 100% dont know what is a caste! They know caste is a barrier but have no clue beyond that.

4. Caste is endogomous meaning you are born into a caste. It means you are of the same caste as your parents.

5. Caste is compartmentalized. It means you follow the profession of your father and if you try someone else’s job they will resist.

6. You have to marry within your caste which means the caste walls are secure and no one breached it.

7. Caste dictates a barber has to marry a barber’s daughter and any violation is strictly dealt with.

8. This compartmentalization has created conflict between SC and MBC, between MBC and OBC and between OBC and BC and between BC and FC.

9. In caste system you have option on what you can learn, what you can practice and what you can enjoy.

10. How many can clearly articulate in a dispassionate, objective and logical way that the castes tend to stay as it is?

11. How many have clearly understood what is it that sustains the caste system and what will tend to destabilize it?

12. The anti-Hindus blame it on Hindus so they will benefit out of the destruction of Hinduism. But are they right?

13. Those who decry casteism as a curse of Hinduism are ignorant ones for they do not know that casteism comes back to lives in their remedy!

14. All secular, democratic countries are rampant with casteism, and wage slavery. Purushartha is unheard of in secularism.

15. If I say our Dharma is the anti-thesis of casteism it will startle some for they have been ingrained with a lie in their very being.

16. People today are products of British and of their successor the Congress with their lies and distortions of our society.

17. I want the people who were misled on the question of caste as a Hindu heritage to use their buddhi to redeem themselves.

18. True abolition of Caste is possible only by refusing all incentives to remain in the caste such as BC, OBC, SC etc.

19. I will also explain that going back to our Varnasrama Dharma alone guaranteed total freedom not compartmentalization of castes.

20. Caste had never been a Hindu thinking. Linguistically too, we find no word for ‘caste’ in any of the native languages of India.

21. I want to repeat this again and again!

22. Caste had never been a Hindu thinking. Linguistically too, we find no word for ‘caste’ in any of the native languages of India.

23. Max Weber also holds that the Vedic varnas were not castes.

24. Romila Thapar too opines, on the basis of her more recent studies, that varna is not caste and it is the word jati which represents caste.

25. In Bengali and Assamese, jati means ‘nation’, and not caste.

26. The word jati therefore meant nation before caste system was established in India.

27. Using a native word for a foreign meaning is a secular perversion inherited from the English.

28. Tamil, Bodo, Dimasa, Naga, Khasi, Tripuri, Santal, Kurukh and many other languages use the word jati to mean ‘tribe’.

29. Only foreigners had castes among them. Persian Zat (also in Pushto) meaning caste got imported into India along with the Muslims.

30. Word zat is Pushto, where it means caste. Bad-zat means born in low caste.

31. Because any Bharathiya language does not have letter z it became Jat.

32. Another word meaning caste today in North India is biradari which too is Persian in origin.

33. Jat & Biradari words came to India with Muslims.

34. That means currently used Indian word for caste jati is a product of derivation from Persian zat

35. It, zat or jat, is not the same word as Sanskrit jati.

36. Al-Biruni, who visited India in about 1000 AD was Persian.

37. He used zat for caste & noted that Hindus used the word varna & took it for caste.

38.The fact that caste was absent from early Indian society, was noted by no less a person than Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

39. प॒द्भ्याग्ं शू॒द्रो अ॑जायतः The association laboring people with feet of divine is also to be taken with our worship of feet of the divine.

40. Shudras were certainly revered in the Vedic society and explicitly mentioned in Vedic hyms.

41. Veda salutes carpenters, cart-makers, pottery-makers, blacksmiths, bird-hunters, fishermen, bow-makers, hunters.

42. And even dog-eaters in the hymns!

43. नमः पुञ्जिष्टेभ्यो निषादेभ्यश्च वो नमो – We salute the bird-hunters and the nishada (fishermen) [i.e.tribal people]

44. नम इषुकृद्भ्यो धन्वकृद्भ्यश्च वो नमो – We salute the arrow-makers and the bow-makers (artisans).

45. नमो मृगयुभ्यः श्वनिभ्यश्च वो नमो – We salute those who live by hunting animals, and we salute those who survive on dogs.

46. These are from Krishna Yajurveda (Taittiriya Samhita). Similar verses are to be found in Shukla Yajur Veda too.

47. The hard work of the shudras was considered with tapa or worship and this has been acknowledged in the Veda.

48. Shatapatha Brahmana says: “तपसे शूतप एव तत् तपसा समर्ध्यत्येवमेत देवता….” meaning follows.

49. Shudras are like taporupa, ascetics, their hard work increases the wealth and tapas of society.

50. Kunal (2005) provides a large compilation of mantras expressing respect for the shudras from ancient Hindu texts like the Vedas, the Purana.

51. Our Smrithis and PuraNas remained unwritten and transmitted by word of mouth. Only got written down between 7th & 11th century.

52. The Apastamba Sutra gives due respect to the working classes by stating that the knowledge of the shudras is equivalent to the Atharva Veda

53. The skills of the shudras were considered at par in status with the skills of the brahmanas in Apastamba Dharma Sutra.

54. In the Mahabharata Rishi Parashara compares shudras with God Vishnu, and explains this to king Janaka, both of whom were great scholars.

55. वैदेह! कं कं शूद्रं उदहरन्ति द्विज महाराज श्रुतोपपन्नः | अहं हि पश्यामि नरेन्द्र देवं जगतः प्रधानं ||

56. O Vaideha, the brahmin scholars of Vedas compare the shudras with Brahma; but I see the shudras as the Lord of the world, God Vishnu.

57. कं is Brahma as explained in the Shatapatha Brahmana 2.5.2.13: “कं वै प्रजापतिः ”

58. We find Nishada-gotra Brahmana mentioned by Panini. So to say Nishadas are sudhras is wrong.

59. In all likelihood, Ekalavya would have become a Nishada-gotra Kshatriya had he been allowed to pursue archery.

60. Because Drona did not refuse to teach Ekalavya saying giving any such false reason that he is not a kshatriya.

61. Drona simply exercised his right to refuse to teach as no one has a right to demand that he be taught.

62. Varna has two components – Guna and Karma. It is called गुण कर्म विभागं – a divison made of Guna and Karma.

63. If you talk of a person only on the basis of his occupation then it is caste. Caste do not know of Guna.

64. You are born not arbitrarily as the bible says. You are born to enjoy and suffer your poorva karma that you did not enjoy.

65. In order to enjoy and suffer your poorva karma you are given the kind of body and mind conducinve to enjoy poorva karma.

66. Guna brings you the body and mind condusive to enjoy and suffer the poorva karma. Such body could be any living being.

67. One’s Guna does not change though he changes his profession. He enjoys and suffers poorva karma inrrespectively.

68. Guna tells you a person, a human, is adept in one of four powers: Knowledge, weapon, wealth and labor.

69. Geetha tells you that that if a person weilds more than one power in his hands then he will become a dictator.

70. So people with these four powers were never allowed to pursue other’s positions while keeping his own.

71. Such pursuit can an does take place by making others work for your fancy.

72. Guna is not inherited from parents only caste and its occupation is inherited.

73. A person’s Guna comes from his previous births and nothing to do with parents.

74. Guna is the basis of the Varna and no other.

75. So a parent can give birth to children of all four varnas.

76. The mother breast feeds her children who are Brahmanas, kshathriyas, vaisyas and sudhras.

77. The siblings belonging to the four varnas sit together and eat and play and hug, cry and laugh at each other.

78. Untouchability is unheard of in our Vedic Dharma. It is simply impossible to have such a nonsense.

79. Under our Vedic Varna system a person born to a parent do not necessarily follow the father’s profession.

80. This is the pursuit of happiness called Purushartha as envisaged in our Veda.

81. Untouchability belongs to the castes that came with the Muslim invasion and it is adharm

 

PART 2

 

ic.54. In a caste system, phrases like ‘son of a Kayastha’ or ‘son of a Gujjar‘ etc are not used because son of a Kayastha is a Kayastha and son of a Gujjar is also a Gujjar.

56. Therefore calling Karna in Mahabharata as suta-putra or son of a Suta (stable keeper) cannot be called a caste oriented insult

57. simply because suta is not a caste. Also Karna was kshathriya and not a suta (charioteer), even though he was son of a suta.

58. The matter is further proved when we find that Karna is appointed the king of Anga, and later the Commander in Chief of the Kaurava.

59. After 75 years of age people embraced sannyasa as also many directly from Brahmacharya. Sannyasis had no varna.

60. At one time majority entering Sanyasa Ashrama lived outside varna system. Still they were part of Aashrama Dharma.

61. This is in contrast with the caste system in which caste is thrust on to the individual at birth and it does not leave him till death.

62. Secular idea was Hindus were within the grips of caste system, which Buddha disliked, and started a new religion to end caste discrimination.

63. Buddha, they allege, criticized Brahmanas and it was because of this that most of the masses consisting of lower castes converted to Buddhism.

64. Such claims of Buddha vs Brahmins have no basis, and they are products of fertile brains.

65. Buddha never claimed departure from the Sanatana Dharma (Esa Dhammo Sanatano – Thus is the Sanatana Dharma – Dhammapada, 5).

66. At the time of Buddha, brahmanas were a class, not by birth, but by education and profession. Buddha indeed spoke very highly of the brahmanas.

67. Buddha described the characters of an ideal brahmana which is in consonance with the charecters of brahmanas described by Hindu scriptures.

68. Of all the classes of people, Buddha selected the Brahmana alone to declare that “no one should ever hurt a Brahmin”.

69. Buddha rated service to Brahmana at par with serving the parents. (atho brahmannata sukha; Dhammapada, 332).

70. Some translations give meaning of this verse (atho brahmannata sukha; Dhammapada, 332) as ―it is a blessing to be a brhamana.

71. The hereditary caste system did not exist at the time of Buddha, otherwise he must have condemned it.

72. Later Buddhists too supported the varna system, yet they claimed that Kshatriya was highest varna & Brahmana was below that (Basham:139).

73. In Jataka Kathas, written by Buddhist monks, Buddha (Bodhisattva) was almost always born in either a brahmana family or a kshatriya family.

74. Let me bring out the absence of Caste in Post-Vedic Ancient Period.

75. Tenth century Jain poet and historian Pushpadant in his Mahapurana says that there were four varnas during his times (10th century AD),

76. which were not based on birth, but on the duty one performed in his life.

77. Basham noted that Huen Tsang in the 7th century was well aware of the four varnas, and also mentioned many mixed varnas by marriage.

78. It however did not affect the varna system for none inherited a varna by birth. Neither was there a compusion to die in a varna.

79. A person taken on a varna on his mental inclination but wud’nt change it for the fun of it. He can abandon it for non-varna by assuming sanyasa.

80. Al-Biruni did not get three or four thousand castes in India in c. 1000 A.D., but found only four varnas.

81. VarNa classification did not apply to children, widows & sanyasis. So majority were outside varNa dharma in our system.

82. Impact of one’s varNa on society happens only when the person has a role to play such as profession or productive family role.

83. Children, students, widows, retirees, ascetics do not have productive role in society so varNa dharma cannot apply to them. They form majority.

84. Varna dharma apply only to householder who is called Grihastha. So focus of varna dharma is Grihasthasrama dharma.

85. Though kanchi Sankaracharya, Baba ramdev & Swami Vivekananda have no varNa. casteists brand them as Brahmin, Yadhav & Kayastha respectively.

86. Al Bruni said a 1000 years ago that he found no evidence of endogamy, the key component of caste.

87. Arthasasthra clearly states even a Shudhra cannot b made a slave. Human chattel was a key component of western caste system.

88. Megasthanes declared there were no slaves in India.

89. Slave trade started only in the 13th century after Turko-Afghan occupation of India.

90. Slave markets in Delhi appeared from the accounts of Barnani which is as recent occurance by alien occupiers & not indigenous.

91. Absence of slaves, rudimentary market economy & freedom of movement of people in India indicate far advanced economic system vs feudal west.

92. Thus contrary to allegation and propaganda Medieval Hindustan was egalitarian.

93. All classes had lived respecting each other. If any author had made disparaging remarks, it wont indicate social trend but of individual.

94. Those remarks of ill-will between different classes may as well be lated day insertions of wicked persons.

95. In fact slave trade started in India only after Turko-Afghan occupation of India.

96. And for the first time in 13th century, slave markets at Delhi appears from the accounts of Barani.

97. It may be understood that original Indian population must have consisted of innumerable tribes based on territoriality.

98. As civilization evolved, tribes were drawn into larger regional civilizations (like Mehrgarh or Harappa).

99. It was only after a level of civilization had been achieved, that people were considered as classes. Vedas mention these classes.

100. The oldest verses of Rig-Veda mention only two classes, brahmana and rajanya (or kshatriya).

101. The other two (vaishya and shudra) appear only in the last mandal, ie Mandala 10.

102. This indicates that these latter classes were products of increasing civilizational complexity in production, industry and trade.

103. If we accept Vedic timeline of Kazanas, the shudra varna (not caste) became prominent during Indus Civilization according to Premendra Priyadharshi.

104. Appearance of Vaishya & Sudhra correspond to the period of Atharvana Veda (Premendra Priyadharshi)

105. Although varnas were only few, Vedas always mentioned a large number of vedic tribes(called jana) like Kuru, Puru, Bharata, Panchala etc.

106. These tribes had local territories of origin. Each tribe later developed its brahmana, khshatriya & other classes depending on profession.

107. Vedic values laid stress on forgetting inter-tribal (or inter-jana) rivalry, and encouraged gotra-exogamy.

108. Gotra-exogamy led to establishing inter-jana relationships, and a stronger feeling of Indian identity.

109. Gotra-exogamy lead to weakening of jana identity or tribal identity, until advent of Islam.

110. Islam terminated the Vedic customs in India and the beginning of endogamy (marriage within group) the main feature of caste.

PART 3

Origin of caste?

1. Today’s tweets deal with ‘Origin of caste?’

2. Castes rise and fall in social scale, and old castes die out and new ones are formed, but the four great classes (varna) are stable.

3. They are never more or never less than four of these varnas. And for over 2,000 years their order of precedence were not altered.

(Bhasham in p. 148) says as follows:

4a) “Caste is defined as a system of groups within the class, which are normally endogamous, commmensal and caste exclusive.”

4b) “We have no real evidence of its existence until comparatively late times.”

5. TRUTH OF TRUTH IS THAT CASTES DID NOT ORIGINATE FROM 4 VARNAS.

6. It is impossible to show its origin conclusively,

7. and we can do little more than faintly trace its development, since early literature paid scanty attention to it;

8. but it is practically certain that the caste DID NOT originate from the four classes.

9. The Brahman gotras which go back to Vedic times are not castes, since the gotras are exogamous, and members of the same gotras are to be found in many castes. (Bhasham p. 148)

10. Max Weber noted the European trade guilds had all the features of modern Hindu castes, including even untouchability.

11. Hence it is quite possible that many of the modern Indian castes were trade guilds during the mediaval period.

12. With passage of time the trade guilds adopted colors of caste.

13. Basham explains how caste didn’t exist in India before Muslim period (Medieval Age).

14. Bhasham also explains how it originated from tribes & guilds during Muslim period of Indian history.

15. In late medieval times the final caste division took place as exogamy couldn’t work.

16. Bhasham wrote in his celebrated work – “The wonder that was India” as follows:

17. “It was only in late medieval times that it was finally recognized that exogamy and sharing meals with members of other classes were quite impossible for respectable people. These customs and many others such as widow-remarriage, were classed as kalivarjya — customs once permissible, but to be avoided in this dark Kali Age, when men are no longer naturally righteous.” (p. 148).

18. “…In attempting to account for the remarkable proliferation of castes in 18th – and 19th – century India, authorities credulously accepted the traditional view that by a process of inter marriage and subdivision the 3000 or more castes of modern India had evolved from the four primitive classes, and the term ‘caste’ was applied indiscriminately to both varna or class and jati or caste proper. This is a false terminology; castes rise and fall in social scale, and old castes die out and new ones are formed, but the four great classes are stable. They are never more or less than four, and for over 2,000 years their order of precedence as not altered. … If caste is defined as a system of groups within the class, which are normally endogamous, commensal and caste exclusive, we have no real evidence of its existence until comparatively late times.”(p. 148).

19. “…It is impossible to show its origin conclusively, and we can do little more than faintly trace its development, since early literature paid scanty attention to it; but it is practically certain that the caste did not originate from the four classes. Admittedly it developed later than they, but this proves nothing. There were subdivisions in the four
classes at a very early date, but the Brahman gotras, which go back to Vedic times, are not castes, since the gotras are exogamous, and members of the same gotras are to be found in many castes.” (p. 148).

20. “…Many trades were organized in guilds, in which some authorities have seen the origin of the trade castes; but these trade groups cannot be counted as fully developed castes. A 5th century inscription from Mandsore shows us a guild of silk-weavers emigrating in a body from Lata (the region of the lower Narmada) to Mandsore, and taking up many other crafts and professions, from soldiering to astrology, but still maintaining its guild consciousness. We have no evidence that this group was endogamous or commensal, and it was certainly not craft-exclusive, but its strong corporate sense is that of a caste in the making.” (p. 149)

21. “…Indian society developed a very complex social structure, arising partly from tribal affiliations and partly from professional associations, which was continuously being elaborated by the introduction of new racial groups into the community, and by the development of new crafts. In the Middle Ages the system became more or less rigid, and the social group was now a caste in the modern sense. Prof J.J. Hutton has interpreted the caste system as an adaptation of one of the most primitive of the social relationships, whereby a small clan, living in a comparatively isolated village, would hold itself aloof from its neighbors by a complex system of taboos, and he has found embryonic caste features in the social structure of some of the wild tribes of present-day India. The caste system may well be the natural response of the many small and primitive peoples who were forced to come to terms with a more complex economic and social system. It did not develop out of the four Aryan varnas, and the two systems have never been thoroughly harmonized” (p. 149-150).

22. “Equalitarian religious reformers of the middle ages such as Basava, Ramanand, and Kabir tried to abolish caste among their followers; but their sects soon took characteristics of new castes.” (p. 151)

23. Romila Thapar had changed her racist theory narrating a false Aryan invasion theory. Listen to Premedra Prayadarshi’s monumental treatise.

24. Premendra Priyadarshi points out that Romila Thapar earlier subscribed to the racist theory of Indian castes, that the original Indians were subordinated by invading Aryans into lower castes and the Aryans placed themselves in the top castes, however, she changed her mind later and found that castes originated from guilds and tribes. (Thapar 2003: 422).

25. Romila Thapar earlier (1966) used caste to denote varna and sub-caste to denote jati. But in her latest book she uses the terms varna and jati in English also, and avoids the word caste at most of the places. Thapar wrote: “However, there have been other ways of looking at the origins and functioning of caste society. A concept used equally frequently for caste is jati. It is derived from a root meaning ‘birth‘, and the number of jatisare listed by name and are too numerous to be easily counted. The hierarchical ordering of jatis is neither consistent nor uniform, although hierarchy cannot be denied. The two concepts of jati and varna overlap in part but are also different…But it can also be argued that the two were distinct in origin and had different functions, and that the enveloping of jati by varna, as in the case of Hindu castes, was a historical process…The origin of varna is reasonably clear from the references in the Vedic corpus…The genesis of the jati may have been the clan, prior to its becoming a caste.” (p. 63)

26. “There are close parallels between the clan (tribe) as a form of social organization and the jati.” (p. 64, bracket added) (Thapar, Romila; The Penguin History of Early India from the Origins to AD 1300, Penguin Books India, New Delhi, 2002 reprint 2003).

27. It is on record that many of the Brahmana castes and Rajput caste are products of mobility of clan and tribes (and later, of castes).

28. Thapar notes this phenomenon in the following words:

29. “The temple could also act as a conduit of social mobility. In coastal Andhra, a large herd of cows was donated to Draksharama temple. The herd was …cared for by the local Boya tribal community. In the course of time, and because they were looking after the temple property, these Boyas rose in status from from outcasts to shudras. As shudras they entered the lower echelons of administration and gradually some attained high office.” (p. 390).

30. “A number of new groups entered the established hierarchy of castes. Perhaps most visible were the new kshatriya castes. They were open to those who had acquired political authority and could claim the status through genealogy or an appropriate marriage alliance. Other than those claiming connection with existing kshatriya castes, they were grantees in category of samantas or chiefs that had been inducted into the caste society…By the end of this period, designations such as rauta, ranaka, thakkura and such like were available to those who had received grants of land and became grantees.” (Thapar, Ibid ., p. 462).

31. Thapar (2003:66) also holds identical views about origin of castes from guilds, tribes and religious sects:

32. “The conversion from tribe or clan to caste, or from jana to jati as it is sometimes called, was one of the basic mutations of Indian social history..” (p. 66)

33. “The conversion of clan to jati was not the only avenue to creating castes. Since caste identities were also determined by occupations, various professional associations, particularly urban artisans, gradually coalesced into jatis, beginning to observe jati rules by accepting a social hierarchy that defined marriage circles and inheritance laws, by adhering to common custom and by identifying with a common location.Yet another type of jati was the one that grew out of a religious sect that may have included various jatis to begin with, but started functioning so successfully as a unit that eventually it too became a caste. A striking example of this is the history of the Lingayat caste in the peninsula.” (p. 66)

34. Basham‘s finding that the Hindu caste system became fully developed only during the late Middle Ages, corroborates well with similar findings by other investigators. Raghuvanshi noted that the travellers of the early Medieval Period were silent on the complex caste structure of the society, but by the time of the later Mughals, the institution of caste had grown to maturity, and its ramifications into sub-castes were numerous. ( Raghuvanshi, V.P.S., Indian Society in the Eighteenth Century)

35. Romila Thapar’s Changed Views on the Origins of Caste:

36. Romila Thapar earlier subscribed to the racist theory of Indian castes, that the original Indians were subordinated by invading Aryans into lower castes and the Aryans placed themselves in the top castes. However, Thapar changed her mind and now finds that castes originated from guilds and tribes (Thapar 2003: 422). Historians took longer to understand origin of caste because, as Srinivas had rightly pointed out, many of the Indians can actually never understand the difference between varna and caste.

37. Romila Thapar earlier (1966) used caste to denote varna and sub-caste to denote jati. But in her latest book (2002, reprint 2003) she uses the terms varna and jati in English also, and avoids the word caste at most of the places. Prof Basham also had strongly discouraged the use of word ‘caste’ to mean ― varna, and Srinivas had also held similar views.

38. Thapar writes:

“One of the current debates relating to the beginning of Indian history involves both archeology and linguistics, and attempts to differentiate between indigenous and alien peoples. … To categorize some people as indigenous and others as alien, to argueabout the first inhabitants of the subcontinent, and to try and sort out these categories for the remote past, is to attempt the impossible. (p.xxiv)

39. Thapar continues:

“It was not just the landscape that changed, but society also changed and often quite noticeably. But this was a proposition unacceptable to colonial perceptions that insisted on the unchanging character of Indian history and society. (p. xxiv)

40. “That the study of institutions did not receive much emphasis was in part due to the belief that they did not undergo much change: an idea derived from the conviction that Indian culture had been static, largely owing to the gloomy, fatalistic attitude to life. (p. xxv)

41. Again Thapar says:

“The formation of caste is now being explored as a way of understanding how Indian society functioned. Various possibilities include the emergence of castes from clans of forest dwellers, professional groups or religious sects. Caste is therefore seen as a less rigid and frozen system than it was previously thought to be, but at the same time this raises a new set of interesting questions for social historians. (p. xxvii)

42. “However, there have been other ways of looking at the origins and functioning of caste society. A concept used equally frequently for caste is jati. It is derived from a root meaning ‘birth’, and the number of jatis are listed by name and are too numerousto be easily counted. The hierarchical ordering of jatis is neither consistent nor uniform, although hierarchy cannot be denied. The two concepts of jati and varna overlap in part but are also different…But it can also be argued that the two were distinct in origin and had different functions, and that the enveloping of jati by varna,as in the case of Hindu castes, was a historical process…The origin of varna is reasonably clear from the references in the Vedic corpus…The genesis of the jati may have been the clan, prior to its becoming a caste. (p.63).

43. “There are close parallels between the clan (tribe) as a form of social organization and the jati. (p. 64) Thus we have noted views of Hutton, Basham and Thapar that the caste system did not originate from the ancient Hindu varna system. It is on record that many of the brahmana castes and Rajput caste are products of mobility of clan and tribes (and later, of castes).

44. Thapar notes this phenomenon in the following words:

The temple could also act as a conduit of social mobility. In coastal Andhra, a largeherd of cows was donated to Draksharama temple. The herd was …cared for by the local Boya tribal community. In the course of time, and because they were looking after the temple property, these Boyas rose in status from from outcasts to shudras. As shudras they entered the lower echelons of administration and gradually some attained high office. (p. 390).

45. A number of new groups entered the established hierarchy of castes. Perhaps most visible were the new kshatriya castes. They were open to those who had acquired political authority and could claim the status through geneology or an appropriate marriage alliance. Other than those claiming connection with existing kshatriya castes, they were grantees in category of samantas or chiefs that had been inducted into the caste society…By the end of this period, designations such as rauta, ranaka, thakkura and such like were available to those who had received grants of land and became grantees. (Thapar, Ibid ., p. 462).

46. In this way the tribe is a local group whereas caste is a social group.

47. The study of a Central Himalayan tribe Tharu reveals that though they have a tribal matrix and continue to practice certain distinctive tribal customs, richer elite among them have a tendency to claim kshatriya-hood and may possibly merge into Rajputs. One such example is the landed peasantry Tharus of Champaran district of Bihar in India.

48. A largesection of Tharu tribe has named itself Rana Tharu. Rana is the feudal aristocratic Rajput caste of Nepal and also in Rajasthan state of India. Thus affluent among the Tharus have been placed at a higher level in the caste hierarchy. Khasa is another Himalayan tribe, which has been accepted as a Rajput (upper caste) in the Hindu caste society of Uttarakhanda state of India.

49. In fact conversion of tribals into Rajput was such a general feature that Sinha coined the concept of Rajput-Tribe Continuum. Thus Bhumij, Munda and Gond tribes of Central Inida were able to establish their kingdoms (Munda Raj in Chotanagpur; Bhumij state in Barabhumand Raj Gond state of Gondwana), which added to their claims of Kshatriya status, and often melting into the Rajput caste by specific groups of these tribes.

50. Other Authors on Conversion of Tribes into Castes are given below:

51. In this context, von Furer-Haimendorf examines the case of Gond tribe. He finds that this tribe cleared the forests, and settled on the land as farming tribe. Later others (non-Gonds)came into the area. Yet with passage of time, although the Gonds are tribes till date, yet arevery near to an upper caste in the spectrum. He notes: “Even the mainstream Hindu immigrant populations see Gonds as having attributes of purity. If a Hindu is asked how he evaluates the Gonds‘ status in varna system, he will say that Gonds … must therefore be considered as high castes.”

52. Many Gonds were indeed able to enter Hindu caste system as a Rajput (upper caste) clan. Max Weber too noted that when an Indian tribe loses its territorial significance it assumes.

53. William Crooke quotes from Risley that Rajput‘s development from original tribes can be with more or less confidence be assumed. He notes that often Bhil or Gond tribal man becomes leader of his sept and claims to be a Rajput sept. He is not at once admitted into the matrimonial fold of the Rajputs, but if he is rich enough and persistent in his claim, this boon is granted sooner or later. As a result of this constant conversion of tribes into Rajputs,Rajput became the single largest caste of India with widest territorial distribution. Trend to become Rajput was most marked during the Muslim period. It is because in any feudalarchy,it is the feudal caste which wields maximum power, respect and avenues. Purity of blood and supremacy of lineage are powerful ideologies during feudal period. Muslim period of India was the Golden Age of feudalism, and Dark Age for knowledge and capitalism.

54. William Crooke too noted this relationship between tribes and the Rajputs (an upper caste). “Dravidian Gond(tribe) were enrolled as Rajputs.” “Raja of Singrauli was a pure Kharwar (tribe), but became a banbansi Kshatriya during the life of the author.” “Col Sleeman gives the case of an Oudh Pasi who became a Rajput…”. “The names of many septs (of Rajputs), as Baghel, Ahban, Kalhans, and Nagbansi, suggest a totemistic origin, and Nagbansi suggests a totemistic origin which would bring them in line with the Chandrabanshi, who are promoted Dravidian Cheros and other similar septs of undoubtedly aboriginal race.

55. Kharwar is a tribe. Many Rajput (upper caste Hindu) dynasties have been said to belong to Kharwar group. Apart from the ones mentioned by Crooke, there is documentary evidence of Kharwar Rajput in Mirzapur, which revolted in 1857.

56. More such relations between tribes and Rajputs have been noted by Sadasivan from records of older authors, “Dr Francis Buchanan upon evidence states that the Pratihara Rajputs of Sahabad are descendants of tribe of Bhars. ‘Chandels’ observes Vincent Smith ‘who appear to have their descent from the Gonds closely connected with another tribe the Bhars, first carved out a petty principality near Chhatrapur’. Sir Denzil Ibbetson is also almost certain that the so called Rajput families were aboriginal, and he instanced the Chandels. ‘Recent investigation has shown’ writes H. A. Rose (A Glossory of Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and the North-West Province) that the ‘Pratihara’ (Parihar) clan of the Rajputs was really a section of the Gujars and other fireborn Rajput clans, Solanki (Chalukyas), Punwars (Paramaras), Chauhans (Chahumanas or Chahuvamsha) must be assigned similar origin”.

Views of Srinivas on Origin of Castes from Tribes:

57. Srinivas gave a very well studied view of caste tribe relationship:

58. “The category of Shudra subsumes, in fact, the vast majority of non-Brahminical castes which have little in common. It may at one end include a rich, powerful and highly Sanskritized group while at the other end may be tribes whose assimilation to Hindu fold is only marginal. The Shudra-category spans such a wide structural and cultural gulf that its sociological utility is very limited.”

59. “It is well known that occasionally a shudra caste has, after the acquisition of economic and political power, Sanskritized its customs and ways, and has succeeded in laying claim to be kshatriyas. The classic example of the RajGonds, originally a tribe, but who successfully claimed to be kshatriyas after becoming rulers of a tract in Central India, shows up the deficiency of the varna-classification. The term kshatriya, for instance, does not refer to a closed ruling group which has always been there since the time of the Vedas. More often it refers to the position attained or claimed by a local group whose traditions and luck enabled it to seize politico-economic power.”(pp. 65-66). – Srinivas.

60. “But in Southern India the Lingayats claim equality with, if not superiorityto the Brahmin, and orthodox Lingayats do not eat food cooked or handled by the Brahmin. The Lingayats have priests of their own caste who also minister to several other non-Brahmin castes. Such a challenge to the ritual superiority of the Brahmin is not unknown though not frequent. The claim of a particular caste to be Brahmin is, however, more often challenged. Food cooked or handled by Marka Brahmins of Mysore, for instance, is not eaten by most Hindus, not excluding Harijans.” (Ibid. p. 66) – Srinivas

61. “It is necessary to stress here that innumerable small castes in a region do not occupy clear and permanent positions in the system. Nebulousness as to position is of the essence of the system in operation as distinct from the system in conception. The varna-model has been the cause of misinterpretation of the realities of the caste system. A point that has emerged from recent field-research is that the position of a caste in the hierarchy may vary from village to village. It is not only that the hierarchy is nebulous here and there, and the castes are mobile over a period of time, but the hierarchy is also to some extent local. The varna scheme offers a perfect contrast to this picture.”(Ibid,p. 67). – Srinivas

63. In some countries (like Arabic speaking and other Muslim countries) caste word is not used by English language authors and media and instead ‘tribe’ word isoften used. In these situations ‘tribe’ often means a caste and nothing else. Though caste exists as an entity in these Muslim nations too, yet its existence is denied by English media by resorting to use of the word ‘tribe’ instead of caste. This is done deliberately to reserve the use of the word caste “exclusively” for India.

PART 4

Education

165. Were the Lower Castes deprived from education?

166. Raghuvamshi notes, on the authority of Martin, Adams and Buchanan, that even lower castes like Baidyas, Kayasthas and and a number of artisan classes labelled as shudra studied Sanskrit, if it was relevant to their profession, and there was no bar on Sanskrit education imposed on to them because of their caste.

167. The bar actually resulted from financial uselessness of studying higher Sanskrit, as Sanskrit educated graduates could not be absorbed as staff in the state machinery which functioned in Persian language, nor as teachers in state-funded educational institutions (muderssas) teaching in Arabic and Persian languages only.

168. Dharampal notes from the survey data recorded by British officials for Hindu educational institutions in the south India that soodra (by their meaning to indicate lower caste) students constituted overwhelming majority of students, and out of about 700 students studying in schools in Madras state, only 4 were Brahmins. However, out of 517 students studying at homes, 98 were Brahmins. These data clearly expose the bogusness of claims that the lower castes/shudras were not imparted education by the Brahmins.

169. Anti-Caste approach of Orthodox Hindu Religion during Muslim Period

Hindu religion is essentially egalitarian based on the concept of divine in all beings. Hindus criptures unequivocally declare that all the beings have to be seen as god:

170. ॐ ईशा वास्यमिदꣳ सर्वं यत्किं च जगत्यां जगत् । (Ishavasya Upanishad, 1) (Whatever exists in this world is permeated by God).

171. यस्तु सर्वाणि भूतान्यात्मन्येवानुपश्यति । सर्वभूतेषु चात्मानं ततो न विजुगुप्सते ॥ ६॥ (Ishavasya Upanishad,6)

172. (One who sees all living beings as equal to himself, and sees himself in all the living beings is the person who has the clear vision).

173. यस्मिन्सर्वाणि भूतानि आत्मैवाभूद्विजानतः । तत्र को मोहः कः शोक एकत्वमनुपश्यतः ॥ ७॥ (Ishavasya Upanishad , 7)

174. (One who knows all beings to be same as himself, and sees unity in all of them, he never suffers from any sufferings.)

175. Bhagvad-Gita clearly states that Brahmana, cow, elephant, dog and chandala should be seen equally by the people who are knowledgeable.

176. विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि । शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः ॥ १८ ॥ (Bhagavad-Gita, 5.18)

177. Hence it is intriguing if anyone claims that Hindu religion supports caste system and untouchability. It should be noted that even after the caste system and untouchability became established in India during the Muslim period, all the orthodox Hindu religious movements militated against the caste system and untouchability.

178. Chaitanya a Vaishnavite saint born in a brahmana family, rejected the caste system and led a movement for Dalit uplift. He said, “if anyone takes food from the same plate with a sweeper, he becomes entitled to obtain the favour of God.”

179. Chaitanya is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu Himself in Bengal, and modern ISCON is an offshoot of his sect Gauriya Vaishnavism.

180. Chaitanya reemphasized the old Hindu doctrine that leaving the Varnashrama-Dharma was essential for attaining salvation.

181. Chaitanya was no communist or secularist. He was a thorough orthodox Hindu.

182. One of the Brahmana disciples of Chaitanya named Kali Das made it a mission of his life to partake of refuse food left on the plates of untouchables (Chandals).

183. Not only in Bengal, but at other places also, orthodox Hinduism movements erupted as anti-caste Vaishnavite movements during the Muslim rule in India.

184. It was appreciated by these great Hindu saint-leaders that caste system was something alien to Hindu religion which had lately grabbed the Hindus.

185. Thus great orthodox religious leaders like Basava, Ramananda, Tukaram, Namdev and Ramanuja tried to abolish caste, and opposed untouchability.

186. The originator of the Vaishnavism, Ramanuja used the word “Thirukkural” for the shudras which means ‘one belonging to the highest lineage’.

187. Still later, many orthodox Hindu religious leaders like Dayananda, Vivekananda etc. worked hard to remove the caste barriers and untouchability.

188. Many Hindu saints came from untouchable castes, and they were highly revered by one and all Hindus from all castes.
189. Ravidas (Raidas) was a shoe-maker.

190. Yet he was guru of a very large section of Hindus, including the famous Vaishnavite poetess and princess Mirabai.
191. Dayananda, an orthodox Hindu sannyasi, extensively referred from the Vedic texts to prove that caste system was alien to Hinduism.

192. His sect Arya Samaj shuns caste and untouchability.The list is endless. Hence it is clearly inferred that the Hindu religion is against caste differences.

The Genesis of the Confusion

193. We have seen that there was no caste system until the Muslim rule got established in India.

194. Muslim rule destroyed ancient Hindu traditions and centres of Vedic studies.

195. This led to withering away of the four varnas.

196. Populations regrouped on the basis of clan, tribe, occupational guilds or religious sects, and thousands of castes were now formed, none of which we find mentioned in any earlier Indian text.

197. However, these new grouping known as castes or zat (in Persian) soon started claiming status of Vedic Brahmana,Kshatriya, Vaishaya or Shudra.

198. Hence Thapar writes, “It was not that an existing varna was invariably subdivided into jatis, but that jatis were often allotted varna statuses.” (pp. 66-7).

199. This was the main reason for genesis of confusion.

200. Srinivas has also noted this phenomenon taking place in modern India when a caste acquired a varna status like the Vishvakarma brahmana.

201. Srinivas writes:

“It is interesting to note that the mobility of a caste is frequently stated in varna terms rather than in terms of local caste situation. This is partly because each caste has a name and a body of customs and traditions which are peculiar to itself in any local area, and no other caste would be able to take up its name. A few individuals or families may claim to belong to a locally higher caste, but not a whole caste. Even the former event would be difficult as the connections of these individuals or families would be known to all in that area. On the other hand, a local caste would not find it difficult to call itself Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya by suitable prefixes. Thus the Bedas of Mysore would find it difficult to call themselves Okkalingas (Peasants) or Kurubas (Shepherds), but would not have difficulty in calling themselves Valmiki Brahmins. The Smiths of South India long ago, in pre-British times, changed their names to Vishvakarma Brahmins. In British India this tendency received special encouragement during the periodical census enumerations when the low castes changed their names in order to move up in the hierarchy.”

202. Processes of change of status from shudra to kshatriya and brahmana continued until1931 census.

203. Such caste changes and class mobility which has taken place in India until recent times were not possible in the caste systems of Europe, Japan, Korea or Yemen and Iranian populations.

204. Thus after ancient period, it was not the individual which moved in the hierarchy of varnas, but his clan, tribe or caste as a group adopted the suffix brahmana, kshatriya etc. after the caste name. This created an impression that these groups are the same as the ancient brahmanas etc.

205. For example, very many in today’s society who say they are Brahmins are not really VarNa Brahmanas but caste brahmanas whose way of life is not in accord with the Varna Brahmana of the Vedas.

206. In VarNa terms these caste brahmins are not Brahmanas at all!

207. In the last two centuries, scholars tried to find out the Indian Caste phenomenon in ancient Indian texts, although it was a new phenomenon for India.

208. These Indologists found varna from Hindu scriptures, and thought that this must have been the forerunner of caste.

209. In a bid to fuse the two, they confused the two.

PART 5

210. Even After Castes were formed, mobility in Hierarchy Remained:

211. Indian castes were not rigid like Jewish, Medieval European, Japanese and Iranian Castes

212. During the ancient period, when caste did not exist, it was an individual which moved up and down in the varna frame.

213. Such movement up and down varna frame was possible because varna was neither hereditary nor endogamous.

214. But once caste had been formed during the last millennium, the individual got bound up with his caste.

215. Caste had a hierarchical level relative to other castes. Let’s examine them.

216. Now it was the caste which could move up or down in the scale of hierarchy depending on many things.

217. The caste could claim brahmana or kshatriya status, and usually such claims were granted by consensus of other castes of the locality, depending on customs followed by the caste i.e. level of Sanskritization (Srinivasa:45), land holding, profession (like trade, military profession etc.).

218. Thapar wrote, “With caste becoming hereditary, and the close connection between occupation and jati, there was an automatic check on individuals moving up in the hierarchy of castes.

219. Vertical mobility was possible to the jati as a whole, but depended on the entire group acting as one and changing both its location and its work.” (Thapar 2003:125).

220. Thapar says:

“Intermediate castes sometimes claimed high status. Among these were the kayasthas, the scribes of the administration who were responsible for writing documents and maintaining records.” [They claimed to be degraded kshatriyas, although most of others regarded them to be shudras.] “But contact with rulers improved their social standing and those who received grants of land and made donations became part of the elite. Kayastha ministers were mentioned in association with Chandellas, Kalachuris and Gangas.” (Ibid: 464, brackets supplied)

221. Thapar writes:

“The khatris, an established caste of traders in northern India, claimed kshatriya origin in recent times, maintaining that their lower status was purely a result of having had to work in commerce. Gurjaras, Jats and Ahirs also claimed kshatriya origin and conceded that they had lost this status. The emergence of new jatis had been a feature of caste society since its inception…” (Ibid :464).

222. Thapar states: “However, the imprint of upper caste model was clear. In the process of claiming higher status, patriarchal requirements would have been insisted upon, particularly in relation to upper-caste laws of marriage and inheritance… These groups would have included the forest-chiefs of central India, or those who assisted in the making of dynasties, such as the Bhillas who had associated with the Guhilas in Rajasthan, or the Gonds who were linked to the Chandellas.” (Ibid:465)

223. Premendra Priyadharshi writes on Lower Origins of many Brahmana Castes of today during Medieval Period:

224. Even until the nineteenth century, caste was quite fluid, and not as closed as European or Persian classes.

225.The British officers recorded lower or menial origins of many of the Brahmanas.

226. Ojha Brahman is a successor of Dravidian Baiga. (Crooke: 202).

227. Trigunait Brahmana, Pathak (Amtara), Pande Parwars (Hardoi) and Sawalakhiya Brahmana (Gorakhpur and Basti), Mahabrahmana, Barua, Joshi and Dakaut had originated from lower castes.

228. The Mishra Brahmanas of Arjhi were descendants of a Lunia who was conferred Brahmanhood by a Raja in the eighteenth century.(ibid )

229. Ahir, Kurmi and Bhat were once converted into Brahmanas on record. (Nesfield: 139)

230. Often rich persons aspiring to become higher caste paid fees to some Brahmana, and got their lineage constructed descending from some ancient hero.(Stuart: 183-4.). Srinivas refers to similar instances from United Provinces.(Srinivas 1972:101-2).

231. According to Skanda Purana,Parashurama conferred Brahmanahood to many Kaivartta (fisherman) families as well as several other people. (Nath:33).

232. Prof.Nath refers to another Puranic story which states that “Lord Rama on his return from Lanka in order to perform a sacrifice, collected eighteen thousand hill-tribes and made them Brahmanas.” (Nath:33). Prof Nath opines that such Pauranic myths might have been added to facilitate entrance of marginal tribes into the brahmana varna. As such transformation was possible and therefore Nath mentions that Malvika Brahmins originally belonged to the Malava tribe.
Similarly, the Boya Brahmanas mentioned in the Koneki grant of Chalukyan king Vishnuvardhana II, actually belonged to the Boya tribe of Andhra. (Ibid:33).

233. The PadmaPurana mentions Parvatiya Brahmanas who were of tribal origin. (Ibid:33)

234. “Large number of tribal and aboriginal priestly groups appeared to have gained entry into its fold as a low grade Brahmana.” (Ibid:33).

235. It is to be noted that Panini had also mentioned Brahmana among the Nishadas (fishermen) as Nishadagotra Brahmana. (Nath:32).

236. Romila Thapar too mentions how a section of Boya tribe of Andhra Pradesh got converted into Boya Hindu caste after getting job of temple servants, and with time were able to rise in the hierarchy in the temple establishment, reaching highest positions. (Thapar 2003:390)

237. Some Boyas eventually entered Brahmana Caste is documented by other authors (supra).

238. Romila Thapar also notes that forest tribals have entered into Kshatriya and Rajput fold quite late. (Thapar 2003:422-423)

239. In Muslim dwelling houses, such an arrangement is essential because of purda system, where women cannot go out of home for natural acts.

240. There used to be a room at the back of house. On the floor, there used to be a hole though which human excreta fell down in a large pot.The pot was later cleared away at a distant place. In Muslim countries, slaves were employed to do this job of cleaning. In India, Muslim arrival and settlements caused requirement of such a force of cleaners. It is likely, that many of the Hindu slaves might have been given option to do this job to preserve their religion and freedom both, which later became their hereditary caste.

241. The leather-workers’ caste chamar or Jataw were also needed to fulfill the needs of shoes etc for the Muslim army. Consumption of beef by large Muslims in India must have generated enough cow-leather for making shoes etc. It may be noted that Hindus generally used canvas, wooden or flax foot-wears.

242. Before conversion into chamar, members of this caste possibly pursued midwifery, pediatrics and surgery. This can be suggested because the alternative name of the caste Jatawa is derived from Sanskrit jataka which means ‘new-born’, and even today wives of chamars perform the delivery and minister the umbilicus-cutting samsakara of the new born of all castes in the rural area.

243. Mobility of One Caste into Another is now being examined in detail.

244. At a lower plane Sadgope of Bengal were Yadavas who established themselves as Rajas in Gopphum in the 17th century.

245. The Rajas of Amragarh, Valki, Dignagar, Kanksa, Karnagarh, Balrampur and Narayanagarh were Sadgopes during 16th to 18th century. (Anjali Chatterji, p.213).

246. The Bhumija families of Purulia, who were again from lower castes, established control over tracts of districts in Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura, Hoogly, Midnapore and became “taraf sardar” of the area under their control.(Anjali Chatterji, p. 214)

247. “Between 13th and 15th centuries a greater number of such pastoralists succeeded in achieving and passing on to their heirs some measure of landed status. Possibly agricultural expansion and demographic growth during the sultanate period helped them to emerge as important local groups. They did not constitute endogamous castes but formed largely open status groups of clans, lineage or even families and individuals some of which were connected to each other by exogamous connubial ties. Inevitably a certain groups identity grew amongst these families and they have been given the name Rajput. Literally meaning of the word is Rajputra but it used to denote various individuals who achieved such status as ‘horsesoldiers’, ‘troopers’, or headman of a village. In course of time it became a generic term for this military or landed class as a whole” (Chatterji, Anjali; “Aspects of Medieval Society: Gleanings from Contemporary Literature”, Sectional President‘s Address, Section I, Medieval India, Indian History Congress Proceedings, 61st (Millennium) Session 2001, p.204; see also: Habib, Irfan; “The Social Distribution of Landed Property in Pre-British India”, in ed. R.S. Sharma, Indian Society: Historical Probings. New Delhi, 1974, p. 297.).”The result was to foster marriages across state boundaries and in consequence, to build important inter-clan and inter-state links of an effective interest and even of political kind by uniting families, property and dynastic interests.” (Chatterjee, Anjali, op. cit., p. 205).

248. During the Medieval age also many castes other than Brahmanical castes were working as priests in many temples throughout India.

249. One such example is Gurava caste of Maharashtra, which although was a lower caste, officiated as temple priest in Maharashtra.

250. According to Alfred Master, “Gurava is a shudra employed in the temples of Shiva.” (Prachin Marathi Koriv Lekh, Ed. S.G. Tulpule, Pune, 1963, p. 137; also see Ranade, Anuradha K.; Temple Priests in Early Marathi Inscriptions, 11-15th Centuries, Indian History Congress Proceedings,61 (Millennium) session, 2001, p. 434-439)

251. About mobility (movement) of a caste from one level of hierarchy to other, Srinivas writes, “It is interesting to note that the mobility of a caste is frequently stated in varna terms rather than in terms of local caste situation. This is partly because each caste has a name and a body of customs and traditions which are peculiar to itself in any local area., and no other caste would be able to take up its name. A few individuals or families may claim to belong to a locally higher caste, but not a whole caste. Even the former event would be difficult as the connections of these individuals or families would be known to all in that area. On the other hand, a local caste would not find it difficult to call itself brahmin, kshatriya or vaishya by suitable prefixes. Thus the Bedas of Mysore would find it difficult to call themselves Okkalingas (Peasants) or Kurubas (Shepherds), but would not have difficulty in calling themselves Valmiki Brahmins. The Smiths of South India long ago, in pre-British times,changed their names to Vishvakarma Brahmins. In British India this tendency received special encouragement during the periodical census enumerations when the low castes changed their names in order to move up in the hierarchy.‖ (Ibid. p. 69).

252. Not only lower castes or tribes entered the Rajput fold, but Brahmanas also entered into the Rajput fold possibly because of the repeated foreign invasions from the North-west. “Firstly, a major part of the influential Brahmanas had adopted political and military career and as time rolled on, they came to be recognized as Rajputs. Dr Dashrath Sharma tells us that the origin of Solankis, the Parmaras, the Guhilas and the Chahamanas was from the Brahmanas.” (Nigam, Shyamsunder; Social Change in Rajsthan and Malva, The Journal of the Bihar Puravid Parishad, Vol. XI-XII, Patna, 1987-88, p. 101.) Before 7th century A.D. Malvas, Aulikaras, Arjunayanas, Abhiras (Ahir), Yaudheyas, Nagas, Mauryas, Hunas etc. dominated the scene in political art. But all of a sudden these communities disappeared. It is possible that many of these merged with emerging Rajput caste, although those who could not merge can be traced down to present day OBC castes. (p. 106, Ibid).

PART 6

DNA STUDIES OF CASTE

253. Vikrant Kumar and his colleagues found that many of the upper castes of the Northeast India,like Rajbanshi, Ahom, Chutiya etc. have descended from Mongoloid tribes of that region.

254. Other DNA studies found that the all the Indian castes share same DNAs and their DNAs vary more because of geographical distance rather than because of caste levels.

255. This made clear that division of Indian population in endogamous castes is a recent development hence its effect is not visible at DNA level.

256. Two of the scheduled castes namely Pallan and Paraiyan were compared genetically with two Brahmana castes Iyer and Iyengar, in Tamil Nadu.

257. The results of this study corroborated well with earlier studies and showed that all the four castes studied belonged genetically to the same lineages (Vijaya 2008).

258. Analysis of DNAs from 752 individuals belonging to seventeen tribes and four non tribal groups from all over India by Cordaux et al (2003) revealed that caste and tribal groups of both north and south India are genetically similar with respect to mtDNA variation. (Cordaux, R.et al, 2004)

259. Sawarkar Sharma and others (2005) found that Indo-European speakers and Dravidian speakers of India were both descendants of a deep rooted very old Indian mtDNA lineage. (Sharma, S.et al, Human mtDNA hypervariable regions, HVR I and II, hint at deep common maternal founder and subsequent maternal gene flow in Indian population groups, Journal of Human Genetics 2005, 50:497)

260. His another work proved tribal origin of many brahmins.

261. Same authors (Sharma 2009) in another genetic study found that Brahmin upper castes and Dravidian speakers as well as the tribal people all share the R1a1 haplogroup which was earlier thought to represent Aryan invasion and a marker of Brahmana males.

262. The study proved that such assumptions like Aryan invasion cannot be sustained on the basis of genetic findings; and the Brahmanas as well as the south Indian tribes belong to the same Indian genetic stock. ( Sharma, S.et al, The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1 substantiates the autochthonous origin of Brahmins and the caste system, Journal of Human Genetics2009, 54: 47 – 55.)

263. Kivisild et al (2003) discussed how the genetic evidence shows that there is no genetic difference between the tribal and the caste populations of India.

264. The latter conclusion was further supported by Ramana et al (2001), who after comparative genetic study of the tribal and caste populations of Andhra Pradesh demonstrated that no phylogenic genetic difference existed between the tribal and the caste population. ( Ramana, G. V. et al, Y-Chromosome SNP haplotypes suggest evidence of gene flow among caste, tribe and the migrant Siddi populations of Andhra Pradesh, South India, Eur. J. Hum. Genetics 2001,9: 695-700.)

265. Kashyap et al (2006) in a large and extensive genetic study comprising 54 castes and tribes spread all over India concluded that their analyses failed to reveal any genetic groups that correlate to language, geography, ethnicity or socio-cultural affiliation of populations.

266. This implies common ancestry of all Indians and only late formation of modern Indian population groups. (Kashyap, V. K.et al., Genetic structure of Indian populations based on fifteen autosomal microsatellite loci, BMC Genet.2006; 7: 28. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-7-28.)

267. Exactly same conclusion was derived from DNA study of Krithika and colleagues(2009) (Krithika, S.et al, A microsatellite study to disentangle the ambiguity of linguistic, geographic,ethnic and genetic influences on tribes of India to get a better clarity of the antiquity and peopling of South Asia, Am J Phys Anthropol 2009, 139(4): 533-46.)

268. By examination of DNAs of Roma (Gypsies) of Europe, it was found that when the Romasleft India about 2000 years back, they did not have caste. However, they have developed into many hierarchical endogamous castes more recently during their stay in Europe.(Gresham, D.et al, Origins and divergence of Roma (Gypsies), AJHG 2001, 69(6):1314-1331)

269. On the other hand, examination of DNA of Jews reveals that there is clear evidence of caste system on the Jew DNAs.

270. The Jewish priest caste Cohanim displays different DNA lineage than others.(Thomas, M.G. et al, Origins of Old Testament Priests, Nature 1998, 394(6689): 130 140. Hammer, Michael F; Doron M Behar and 7 others (2009-08-08). “Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood”. Hum Genet (Springer); Clark, David (2002).”Cohanim Modal Haplotype (CMH) finds the Ten Lost Tribes! (among Iraqi Kurds, Hungarians, and Armenians)”.Archived from the original on 2005-03-22.http://web.archive.org/web/20050322111222/http://www.geocities.com/hrhdavid/English/frames/index.html Zoossmann-Diskin, Avshalom (2001). “Are today’s Jewish priests descended from the oldones?”. Journal of Comparative Human Biology 51 (2-3): 156 – 162)

271. The Lemba is a Bantu speaking tribe of Southern Africa. Groups within this tribe claiming decent from Cohen caste have been proven by genetic studies to belong to the Cohen caste of the Jews. (Thomas, M.G. et al., Y Chromosomes Traveling South: The Cohen Model Haplotype and theOrigins of the Lemba — the Black Jews of Southern Africa, Am. J. Hum. Genet., 66:674-687, 2000.)

272. This distinction is important. Roma also left India, but their ancestry cannot betraced back to any caste of India. That implies that Indian castes are new entities, and did not exist when the Roma left India.

PART 7

CASTE OUTSIDE HINDU SOCIETY

273. There have been very few students of human civilizations who had thorough knowledge of ancient sociologies of a large number of civilizations.

274. And those who had such knowledge, found that endogamous, hereditary and often craft exclusive castes had existed universally during ancient times.

275. Comte (1858) wrote:

“Thus the great system of castes flourished first in Egypt, Chaldcea, and Persia; and it abides in our day in those parts of the East which are least exposed to the contact with the white nations, as in China, Japan, Tibet, Hindostan etc. and from analogous causes, it was found in Mexico and Peru at the time of their conquest. Traces of these causes can be recognized in all instances of indigenous civilization; as in Western Europe, among the Gauls, the Etruscans etc. The primitive influence may be perceived in their various ulterior institutions, and is not entirely effaced in the most advanced societies. In short, this system is the universal basis of ancient civilization.”

276. However, Comte interpreted the early loss of caste from the White races as their inherentracial superiority:

“…though the white races in their season were equally subject to it, with the difference that, from their inherent superiority, or through the influence of more favourable circumstances, they disengaged themselves more rapidly from it.” (Comte, August, Positive Philosophy, English translation asThe Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, freely translated and condensed by Harriet Martineau, Calvin Blanchard (Publishers), New York)

277. Not only loss of caste discrimination, but an earlier freeing of women and flourishing of science have been considered by the White chauvinists the results of inherent superiority of the White races.

278. However, Comte (and many other authors) failed to note that the caste system was lost from West not because of inherent superiority of the White race, but because of transfer of modernism, rationalism, mathematics and science from India through Arabic channels from eighth century to the sixteenth century, and that became complete only by the end of the sixteenth century. ( Duncan, David E., The Calendar , Fourth Estate, London, 1998; also see Priyadarshi, P., Zero is not the Only Story: Origin of modern science in ancient India, India First Foundation, New Delhi, 2007.)

279. It was this scientific knowledge of Indian origin which caused weakening and finally loss of many social evils which had existed in the European society during the Dark Age of Europe.(Priyadarshi, P., India’s Contributions to the West, Standard Publishers India, New Delhi, 2004.)

280. Moreover, the Indian caste system is different from Jewish, Zoroastrian, Mithra and Egyptian caste systems, because in India, priesthood has never been a monopoply of the pristine caste,whereas it has been so in the caste systems of other religions (mainly Jew, Parsee and Egyptian).

281. Sannyasi is the god-man priest in many cases, and he may have born in any caste, yet he does not belong to any caste.

282. Currently most of the recent Hindu god-men/women were born in the lower castes.

283. Often Hindus have a temple at home, and every householder is entitled to do rituals by his own, and thus he is his own priest.

284. The yajnas recommended to be done by every householders five times a day have never involved and can never involve any priest.

285. Then, there are family-gods, which have to be worshipped by the family members and not the priest.

286. Many worships (poojas) and vratas like karawa chauth, tij, jitiya (jivit-putrika vrata), chhath, etc. have to be done by the individual himself (mostly women) without involvement of a priest.

287. Even in the Satyanarayan Puja, the priest who comes, guides the house-husband how to do rituals, and pronounce the mantras, and himself stays back as a professional guide.

288. Hence karta of any puja, havana or yajna is the house-holder himself.

289. In temples too, mahanths and priest from all castes have been employed.

290. Often, many of the castes have their own local temples, and the lower castes often have a priest of their own caste in their temples.

291. Thus priest-caste is not essential in Hinduism.

292. Even during the Vedic times, all the famous brahmanas known to us were great scholars and teachers, but none was a temple-priest, say for example Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Parashurama, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara,etc.

293. On the other hand, it has been proven by many authentic researchers that India had no caste system during the ancient period.

294. During this ancient period India was the world leader in mathematics, science and rationalism,–the Indian golden age.

295. And that the caste system erupted in India only after the Muslim invaders destroyed modern sciences and rationalism from India plunging this nation into a dark age, wherein soon illiteracy, poverty, caste, superstitions, subjugation of women, sati, female infanticide etc emerged as ignorance grew within the masses.

296. Let’s consider the Caste System in Europe

297. Caste is a word “which in most minds is most strongly connected with Hindu social order”, wrote A. L. Basham, while noting that this practice did not exist in the ancient India.(Basham, A. L., The wonder that was India, thirty-fifth impression (1999) of the Third Revised Ed.of 1967, Rupa and Co., Bombay, p. 148)

298. A study of writings by early twentieth century sociologists makes it obvious that the caste system was deeply rooted in European customs and laws until 200 years back.

299. But tactfully this fact was suppressed by most of the later authors, and the caste system was projected on exclusively to India.

300. John Oman Campbell’s Readings in European Caste System:

The unjustifiable treatment and bullying of Hinduism in name of “caste system‘ was criticized a hundred years back by John Campbell Oman, who was a professor of social sciences at Government College, Lahore at the end of the nineteenth century. ( Oman, John Campbell, “Caste in India”, in Brahmanas, Theists and Muslims of India, Republished Kessinger Publishing, 2003, pp. 63, 64. (First published by T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1907).

301. John Oman Campbell wrote, “No little amused wonder and supercilious criticism on the part of Europeans hasbeen aroused by the caste system of India, which has generally been regarded as an absurd, unhealthy, social phenomenon, without parallel elsewhere… but caste prejudices, and institutions based on such prejudices, are not wholly absent from social life outside India, even in the highly civilized states of the western World. And a little consideration of such indications of caste feelings will help us account in some measure for the more salient characteristic of the Indian system, or at any rate serve to clear our minds of certain unfounded prejudices and offensive cant…but it is nevertheless undeniable that, even in Europe, certain genuine hereditary caste distinctions have at various times been maintained by law, and are to be found there at the present day.”

302. “One much derided peculiarity of the Hindu caste system is the hereditary character of trade and occupations, and in this connection it is interesting to recall to mind that at certain epochs the law in Europe has compelled men to keep, generation after generation, to the calling of their fathers without the option of change.” (John Oman Campbell, pp. 63-64).

303. “..in England an ancient enactment required all men who at any time took up the calling of coal-mining or drysalting, to keep to those occupations for life, and enjoined that their children should also follow the same employment. This law was only repealed by statutes passed in the 15th and 39th years of the reign of George III; that is in the lifetime of the fathers of many men who are with us today. A more striking European example of a compulsory hereditary calling, common enough in the Middle Ages and down to the last century in Russia, is that of the serfs bound to the soil from generation to generation. Then again there existed through long periods of European history, the institution of hereditary slavery, with all its abominations.” (John Oman Campbell, p. 65)

304. A further study of European social history will reveal more of details how an extremely tyrannical and rigid caste system was operative in Europe with legal sanction, which of course functioned under the theocratic rule of Church.

305. Ross’es Readings in European Caste System

Edward Alsworth Ross (Principles of Sociology, 1920 Ed. and 1922 Ed.) gives a detailed account of rigid and strict caste system of Europe, which lasted till the beginning of the nineteenth century.

306. Ross noted that Europe had a strict caste system during the Roman Empire period, however, it had not been brought to Europe by the Roman conquests, but it was a product of forces within the European society (Ross, 1922, p. 322). Thus the Europeans of the “Middle Ages lived in their caste rather than in their people… Something of this spirit has lived on in Poland.” (Ross, 1922, p. 359).

307. “The tendency of the later empire was to stereotype society by compelling men to follow the occupation of their fathers, and preventing a free circulation among different callings and grades of life.

308. The man who brought the grain of Africa to the public stores of Ostia, the labour who made it into loaves for distribution, the butchers who brought pigs from Samnium, Lucania or Bruttium, the purveyors of wine and oil,the men who fed the furnaces of the public baths, were bound to their calling from one generation to another… Every avenue of escape was closed… Men were not allowed to marry out of their guild… Not even a dispensation obtained by some means from the imperial chancery, not even the power of the Church could avail to break the bond of servitude.” (Dill,Samuel, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, MacMillan and Co. Ltd., London 1905)

309. In Prussia, not only men, but land too belonged to castes, and land belonging to a higher caste could not be purchased by individual belonging to a caste lower than that. This provision was abolished by the Emancipation Edict of 1807 (Ross, 1922, p. 182).

310. Oman quoted from Ingram: “This organization established in the Roman world a personal and hereditary fixity of professions and situations, which was not very far removed from the caste system of the East…Members of the administrative service were, in general, absolutely bound to their employments; they could not choose their wives or marry their daughters outside of the collegia to which they respectively belonged, and they transmitted their obligations to their children… In municipalities the curiales, or the members of the local senates, were bound, with special strictness, to their places and their functions, which often involved large personal expenditure… Their families, too, were bound to remain; they were attached by the law to the collegia or other bodies to which they belonged. The soldier, procured for army by conscription, served as long as his age fitted him for his duties, and their sons were bound to similar service.” (Ingram, p. 75)

311. “In a constitution of Constantine (A.D. 332) the colonus is recognized as permanently attached to the land.

312. If he abandoned his holding, he was brought back and punished; and anyone who received him had not only to restore him but to pay a penalty.

313. He could not marry out of the domain; if he took for wife a colona of another proprietor, she was restored to her original locality, and the offspring of the union were divided between the estates. The children of a colonus were fixed in the same status, and could not quit the property to which they belonged.” (Ingram, p. 78, quoted in Oman, J. C., p. 64).

PART 8

314. Today I profusely quote from Max Weber’s Comparison of Hindu Caste and Untouchability with European Hereditary Guilds.

315. Max Weber found that the Vedic Indian society did not have anything like medieval European, or later Indian caste:

“Perhaps the most important gap in the ancient Veda is its lack of any reference to caste. The (Rig-) Veda refers to the four later caste names in only one place, which is considered a very late passage; nowhere does it refer to the substantive content of the caste order in the meaning which it later assumed and which is characteristic only of Hinduism.”

316. Max Weber was able to find similarities between modern Hindu castes and pre-modern European guilds. He wrote: “In this case, castes are in the same position as merchant and craft guilds, sibs, and all sorts of associations.”

317. “‘Guilds’ of merchants, and of traders figuring as merchants by selling their own produce, as well as ‘craft-guilds,’ existed in India during the period of the development of cities and especially during the period in which the great salvation religions originated. As we shall see, the salvation religions and the guilds were related. The guilds usually emerged within the cities, but occasionally they emerged outside of the cities, survivals of these being still in existence. During the period of the flowering of the cities, the position of the guilds was quite comparable to the position guilds occupied in the cities of the medieval Occident. The guild association (the mahajan, literally, the same as popolo grasso) faced on the one hand the prince, and on the other the economically dependent artisans. These relations were about the same as those faced by the great guilds of literati and of merchants with the lower craft-guilds ( popolo minuto) of the Occident. In the same way, associations of lower craft guilds existed in India (the panch). Moreover, the liturgical guild of Egyptian and late Roman character was perhaps not entirely lacking in the emerging patrimonial states of India.”

318. “The merchant and craft guilds of the Occident cultivated religious interests as did the
castes. In connection with these interests, questions of social rank also played a considerable role among guilds. Which rank order the guilds should follow, forinstance, during processions, was a question occasionally fought over more stubbornly than questions of economic interest. Furthermore, in a ‘closed’ guild, that is, one with a numerically fixed quota of income opportunities, the position of the master was hereditary. There were also quasi-guild associations and associations derived from guilds in which the right to membership was acquired in hereditary succession. In late Antiquity, membership in the liturgical guilds was even a compulsory and hereditary obligation in the way of a glebae adscriptio, which bound the peasant to the soil. Finally, there were also in the medieval Occident ‘opprobrious’ trades, which were religiously declasse; these correspond to the ‘unclean’ castes of India.”

319. “The merchant and craft guilds of the Middle Ages acknowledged no ritual barriers
whatsoever between the individual guilds and artisans, apart from the aforementioned small stratum of people engaged in opprobrious trades. Pariah peoples and pariah workers (for example, the knacker and hangman), by virtue of their special positions, come sociologically close to the unclean castes of India.”

320. “Furthermore, caste is essentially hereditary. This hereditary character was not, and is
not, merely the result of monopolizing and restricting the earning opportunities to a definite maximum quota, as was the case among the absolutely closed guilds of the
Occident, which at no time were numerically predominant.”

321. “Let us now consider the Occident. In his letter to the Galatians (11:12, 13 ff.) Paul reproaches Peter for ‘having eaten in Antioch with the Gentiles and for having wthdrawn and separated himself afterwards, under the influence of the Jerusalemites.’And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him.’ That the reproach of dissimulation made to this very apostle has not been effaced shows perhaps just as clearly as does the occurrence itself the tremendous importance this event had for the early Christians. Indeed, this shattering of the ritual barriers against commensalism meant a shattering of the voluntary Ghetto, which in its effects is far more incisive than any compulsory Ghetto. It meant to shatter the situation of Jewry as a pariah people, a situation that was ritually imposed upon this people. For the Christians it meant the origin of Christian ‘freedom,’ which Paul again and again celebrated triumphantly; for this freedom meant the universalism of Paul’s mission, which cut across nations and status groups. The elimination of all ritual barriers of birth for the community of the eucharists, as realized in Antioch, was, in connection with the religious preconditions, the hour of conception for the Occidental ‘citizenry.’”

322. “By its solidarity, the association of Indian guilds, the mahajan, was a force which the princes had to take very much into account. It was said: ‘The prince must recognize what the guilds do to the people, whether it is merciful or cruel.’ The guilds acquired privileges from the princes for loans of money, which are reminiscent of our medieval conditions. The shreshti (elders) of the guilds belonged to the mightiest notables and ranked equally with the warrior and the priest nobility of their time.”

323. Thus a review of works of Oman, Ross, Dill, Ingram and Weber is enough to prove that the caste system existed in Europe throughout most of its history.

324. On the other hand, we find that the caste system has a history of less than 1000 years in India.

PART 9

325. Caste in Buddhist countries – 1: We find untouchable castes Barakumin in Japan and Baekjeong in Korea till today (Korean Caste System: Baekjeong, Yangban, Bone Rank System, Chungin, Nobi,Hopae, Cheonmin, Sangmin, General Books Llc, 2010.)

326. In Korea earliest history, dating back to Goryeo period (918 onwards) shows presence of untouchable castes gorisuchae, divided into two groups hwachae and suchae, in the society.They have to live outside village. By fifteenth century, these untouchables were forced by law to live in ghettoes. (See ‘Baekjeong’ in the Wikipedia)

327. They later came to be known as Baekjeong. ( Miller, Frederic P., Vandome, A. F. and McBrewster, John, Caste, VDM Publishing House Ltd.,2010.)

328. Cheonmin was the lowest caste just above the Baekjeong. This caste too was often treated like untouchables, although the members were allowed to live within the village. The aristocratic class Yangban was composed of two castes, munban (scholarly caste) and muban(martial caste).

329. Japan too had a highly discriminatory caste system since pre-Buddhist (Shinto) period which was formally abolished by Meizi in 1871. Earliest records of Japanese caste system are available from the seventh century. The caste system entered Japanese Buddhism when Buddhism arrived into Japan. In this caste system, Samurai were the marshal caste, holding official and feudal positions. Burakumin were the untouchables. In fact the word Burakumin (meaning hamlet people) was substituted as a more benign word for ‘eta’ (meaning ‘full of filth‘) after the caste system had been abolished.  (Smyth, H.H.,’ “The Eta: A marginal Japanese caste”, in Schuler, E.A. (ed.), Reading in Sociolog, Crowell, 1960, p. 357. Also see, De Vos, George A. and Wagatsuma, Hiroshi, Japan‟s Invisible Race: Caste in culture and personality, University of California Press, 1966.)

330. However, authors note that caste still pervades the consciousness and all aspect of lives of the Japanese people, although explicitly denied. ( Benedict, Ruth, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2005, p. 57.)

331. China too had a custom of hereditary and endogamous system of priests, nobility, and craftsmen which constituted a caste system. (MacNair, Harley Farnsworth, China, University of California Press, 1946, pp. 50, 187, 246).

332. This custom was abolished after revolution of 1912. However, there are many ethnicities in China, which are endogamous and interact witheach other as castes even today, although the Chinese government recognizes only 56 of them and calls them ‘nationalities‘. The largest ethnicity Han (92% of total population) is itself divided into castes called ‘minxi‘ or ‘zuqun‘ (lineages). Each Han minx has retained the memory of its original district of origin, and sometimes even dielects too. Examples are Hakka, Hoklo, Cantonese, Putian, Teochew, Shanghainese, Wenzhou etc. Han Chinese society has not been studied so far. Yet hereditary occupational guilds having features of rigid caste were noted by Comte. (Quoted by Anonymous author, The Christian Examiner,LXIV, First Series, Vol II, 1858, Boston,p. 196.)

In Thailand we get a caste system among the Buddhists in which a Brahmana caste has been maintained to perform essential Vedic samskaras to the Thai Buddhists. (Wong, D.A., Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Performance, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 83. Also, Tambiah, Stanley J., Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand , University Press, 1070.)

333. Brahmana word is used in the Thai Royal Court, but in rural Thai dialects this caste is called phaam or phraam.

334. In Sri Lanka, we find a highly discriminatory caste system and untouchability. Veenhoven wrote, “Caste was the basis of social stratification in ancient Sri Lanka… It is doubtful if Sinhalese society was ever actually organized on the basis of the fourfold varna hierarchy of Indian society… From the very beginning there were castes in Sinhalese society which did not resemble Indian castes or sub-castes.” Moreover there was, and is even today, an untouchable caste Rodi or Gadi in Sri Lankan Buddhist society.

335. (Veenhoven, W.A., Case studies on human rights and fundamental freedoms: A world survey, vol 3, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1977, p. 108. Weeratunge, Nireka, Aspects of Ethnicity and Gender among the Rodi of Sri Lanka, A study prepared for the International Centre of Ethnic Studies,Colombo, 1988.)

336. Even today the dominant landlord caste Goyigama is very powerful caste of Sri Lanka. Honour killing of a lower caste male is executed if he loves an upper caste lady.

2 thoughts on “CASTE AND VARNA

  1. Thanks for this exhaustive paper. Found it answering many of my doubts. Modern studies by Guha and Bannerjee chronicle the attempts of the caste census undertaken by the British to validate a racist theory that they were using to justify genocides in the Americas, slavery in Africa and exploitation in India.

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