Dialogue October- December, 2007, Volume 9  No. 2


The Caste: A General Appraisal


B.B. Kumar*



Indian society consists of numerous endogamous hereditary units, called ‘jati’ in the Indian languages, and ‘caste’ in English. The membership of the unit is acquired by birth. The word ‘jati’ is derived from ‘jan’ (to be born; jayate, Present tense1). It denoted the one, in whom (feminine) the person is born (Sanskriti, Jati ; jayate yasyam iti2; yasyam, locative of feminine base ‘ya’ of the pronoun ‘yad’, who, which;3 ). The term ‘jati’ is widely used in almost all the languages of India, including the tribal languages.4 The word ‘caste’ is derived from the Portuguese word ‘casts’ (unmixed race; breed, race, strain; from casto, pure; Latin, castus, pure).5 It is interesting to note that the word ‘jati’ does not have the racial meaning, which the Portuguese word has. The Sanskrit word also meant ‘birth; gotra and the four varnas, namely, Brahmana/Kshatriya/Vaishya/ and the Shudra.6 The four varnas gradually split into numerous units known as jati or caste. Although caste is a special feature of the Hindu society, but Muslims,7 Christians8 and other9 religious communities in India are also not free from the same. The elements of caste are also found outside India in a very large area.10

The caste remained the synonym of varna in India for thousands of years. This remained so up to the advent of Al-Beruni.11 The rules of marriage and endogamy operated in the over all varna frame.12 The rules of purity and pollution were simple and operated only within the varna frame; the persons of all varnas used to take meal at one place forming four groups up to the time of Al-Beruni.13 It was taboo to eat the leavings of one another,14 as is the case today. Thus, splitting of the varnas into numerous castes and sub castes, extension of the rules of endogamy and that of the commensality and the rigidity in the purity


*Editor, Quarterly Dialogue and Chintan-Srijan, Delhi; Secretary, Astha Bharati, Delhi.

and pollution rules seem to be later developments which took place after the arrival of Muslims in India. The people of all the varnas lived together in the towns and villages in identical houses and they used to freely mix up at the time of Al-Beruni.15 The society used to have the persons out of the varma frame also and they were called16 antyaja.

Multiplicity of castes and to some extent the local variations in the beliefs and usages, which are but natural for a vast country like India, baffle a casual observer. But a keen unprejudiced observer does not fail to see the broad, fundamental principles and the framework under which they operate and provide an unified picture. Dubois, though not an unprejudiced person, has mentioned about this aspect. He wrote:

“With regard to caste usages, I must warn my readers that my researches were confined to the provinces south of the Krishna river, where I passed most of the time that I was in India. I can not say whether these usages are same to the north of that river and in Hindustan proper; but if any differences there be it is probable that they exist only in form. There is no place in India which does not possess certain customs and practices of its own, and it would be impossible to give descriptions of them all. Fundamentally, however, caste constitutions are the same everywhere. Further more, however, many the shades of difference between the various castes, however diversified the customs that control them, only slight differences exist between the various forms of religious belief. Indeed, the religion of Hindus may be said to form a common centre for the numerous elements, which constitute Hinduism in its widest sense. Moreover there is a certain general uniformity of rule and practice in everyday social matters, which compels one to look upon the different masses of the population as belonging in reality to one big family.”17 

Indian castes form the integrated part of a cohesive system. The system, as per the Puranas and the epics operated throughout the world consisting of the seven dwipas inhabited by different races.18 It included all the races of India within its operational frame.19 It specifically included the communities of the Indian fringe and beyond, such as, the Shakas, Yavanas and the Kiratas.20 The colonial scholars and their followers of India origin have often, neglected these aspects. They present a highly localized and racist interpretation of caste aimed at the social divide in India.

One of the salient features of the caste system is the common hereditary occupation of the members of any caste. This aspect, as well as the endogamy practiced by the caste men attracted the attention of Megasthenes in the third century B.C. He wrote, “It is not permitted to                 contract marriage with a person of another caste, nor to change from one profession or trade to another, nor for the same person to undertake more than one, except he is of the caste of philosophers.”21 

These features of the caste system attracted the attention of others also. However, the observation of Megasthenes does not seem to be authentic so for as the question of hereditary profession is concerned, None of the four varnas—the Brahmanas,22 the Kshatriyas,23 the Vaishyas,24 and the Shudras25—were denied the choice of professions other than those ordained by the Shastras/Sastras. Of course, the choice was always limited.

The Hindu society consists of the four varnas and the outcastes. The Vedas do not recognise mixed castes. The present day society also does not. The Smritis/smrtis, and the Puranas/puranas, however, do it. The term ‘varna is derived from Sanskrit root ‘varni’ (to describe). The meaning of the term is also colour. The four varnas are interdependent. They are, (i) the priests, poets and the scholars called Brahmans, (ii) the warriors and the rulers called the Kshtriyas, (iii) the merchants, agriculturists and the husbandmen called the Vaishyas, and (iv) the artisans, wage-earners and the servants called the Shudras. The first three categories undergo initiation ceremony, and are called dwija. i.e. twice born. They were allowed to wear the sacred thread (Yajnopavita) and are allowed to study the Vedas and perform the yajnas. In reality, not even one out of a lakh of them see the Vedas and a microscopic minority of them perform the yajnas. Thus, we find a fossilised custom today in the form of the initiation ceremony and the sacred thread wearing.

The varna of a person was decided in ancient days by his work and the quality. Thus, it was a functional and a behavioural category. Later on the status-fossilization took place and the varna started to be decided by the birth only. Earlier, the persons who failed to perform their ordained duties were subjected to degradation. Such persons were called ‘Vratya/Vratya26 or ‘Vrishala/Vrsala’. and were later on grouped with the Shudras.27 Thus, there was change in the status for a large percentage of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas  due to the reason given above, and they were included in the Shudra category of today. Such persons have the living tradition of their former varna status in the memory of their community. They wanted the same to be duly recorded during the caste enumeration by the Indian Census their valid attempts were erroneously termed as the attempts of status improvement, This gave birth to the myth of Sanskritization. It may be mentioned here that our sciptures recognize the fluidity in the varna frame by mentioning the existence of the Shudra born of the Brahmana parents (Brahmana-janma Shudra) and the Brahmana of the Shudra parentage (Shudra-janma Brahmana).28

As mentioned above, the caste attracted the attention of the foreigners such as Megasthenes and Al-Beruni, from the very beginning. The foreigners’ interest in caste was renewed after the British rule in India, especially after the start of the Census Operations in India by the end of the 19th  century. The initial studies on caste were mostly impressionist studies based on scant data and over-generalizations. Sir Henry Maine made one of the earliest remarks on the system in 1871. He wrote:

        “I am aware that the popular impression...is that Indian society is divided, so to speak, into a number of horizontal strata, each representing a caste. This is an entire mistake...The true view of India is that, as a whole, it is divided into a vast number of independent, self-acting, organised social groups...”29

        Needless to say that both the views mentioned above are wrong. The society is not divided into as many horizontal strata as many castes are there.30 It is also not true that the self-acting, organised social groups are independent. The interdependence of the castes31 is a well-known phenomenon. The system based on the principles of division of labour manifests itself into contractual and Jajmani/Jajamani relationships.32

        The study of caste during last one and a quarter century was done in massive scale and in many directions. The approach and the emphasis differed. The study of caste as a class was also made and a social theory was developed ignoring its inaccuracies.33 Massive attempts were made and vast literature was produced to provide the racist interpretation of caste.34 The functional aspect was emphasized, likewise by many others.35 Many western and Indian writers indulged in the indiscriminate use of the caste to refer to an established social order and to a situation fostering social injustice.36 Some writers over-emphasised the hierarchical aspect of the caste37 and yet some did the same with the caste linkages of the purity and the pollution.38 The interest of the empire was supreme in the minds of a section of the colonial functionaries of the British government in India and they accordingly misdirected caste studies. The paid agents of the empire distorted the traditions and misinterpreted the caste system. The application of European colonial experiences in Africa, America and elsewhere,41 and of their prejudices of race and colour in Indian scenario42, coupled with the biases of the writers brought highly undesirable results. The frame of reference in the study of caste has frequently been confused.43 This still continues to be so in large number of cases. Thus, the caste studies in India, though massive, are not reliable.

      The Indian scholars of caste heavily rely on the translations44 of Sanskrit texts and the writings of the western scholars and outdated monographs on castes and tribes written in the 18th and the early part of the 19th century.45 Most of the writers of the monographs had scant regard for the traditions of the various castes and tribes about their own communities; they relied heavily on hearsay and the opinions of the uninformed biased persons.46

      The varna is often referred for determining the status of a caste. The status of a caste under the Brahman varna is considered to be higher than that under the other ones. The situation is not the same if there are more than one castes under the same varna claiming superiority over each other. Often a caste is found to have superior status in one area and the inferior status at a place elsewhere.47 Thus, there are other factors also which determine the status of a caste, which include the adherence of the higher social values and norms, including the socially preferred food habits by the community concern,48 the dominance of a particular caste in the region49 and the historic roles played by the referred community.50 The varnas are recognised as categories by the scriptures. The same is not true with majority of the castes.

      A person born in any varna was able to become a Rishi/Rsi and achieve Brahmanhood. We had Vedic Rishis born in all the varnas. Thus the religion of the Indians should not be labeled as Brahmanhood. All the four varnas were advised to read the Puranas, Itihasas (history), Mahabharata, Ramayana51, etc. The study of the Vedas, which was a very rigorous and time consuming act, was denied to the fourth varna.52 One had to study it for a very long period remaining celibate even up to the age of forty-eight years.53 Faulty pronunciation of the Vedic mantras was considered to be a sinful act and therefore avoided.54 The same was not the case with other scriptures and their study was considered to be a meritorious act.55 The pilgrimage,56 taking holy baths at the sacred places57 and other similar acts continued to be performed by all the varnas.

      Bhakti did not require the rigours of the rituals and therefore, it was a popular way of worship from a very ancient time.58 The worship of Shiva/Siva and Shakti/Sakti did not prohibit eating meat and the consumption of wine.59 Therefore, Shaivism, Shaktism and Tantric Hinduism was more popular wherever the rigours of vegetarianism and prohibition of wine were not liked.60 In spite of the above, we have people pursuing all the sects, in every corner of India within every castes61 within millions of families. All Hindus worship Vishnu/Visnu, Shiva, Shakti and all other gods and goddesses. A person of any caste, initiated into Vaishnavism, takes only the vegetarian food.62 The non-vegetarian food is often cooked separately in a vegetarian family. Thus, purity and pollution is not a community affair, but a personal affair in this case. The Brahmans of Bengal63 Assam,64 Manipur,65 Mithila66 and Konkan67 relish fish.

     The Hindus practise caste endogamy and the gotra exogamy.68 Some Brahmans also practise pravara exogamy.69 On the other hand, some communities belonging exclusively to the Kashyap gotra practise Gotra endogamy and avoid marriage up to certain degrees of kinship.70 As the generation gap between the gotra and the pravara is not much71, therefore, the two may be categorised together and thus the exogamy practised by the Hindus comes under only two categories. The Hindus consider marriage within the gotra or within the prohibited degree of kinship as an act of incest.72 The parents of a bride have the natural tendency to marry their daughter in a family of superior status. They think it below their prestige if the daughter is married in a family of inferior status. In many cases, the clans, or the exogamous sections of the caste, are graded superior and inferior.73 In that case, the daughter is married in the superior clan/section.74  This kind of hypergamous marriage is prevalent among many communities, such as among the Rajput,75 Nayars,76 Marathas77 and the Maithil Brahmanas.78 Kulinism among some sections of the Brahmanas and some other castes of Bengal was also the hypergamous practice.79 The hypergamy, where a bride is married among the higher ranking caste, the caste exogamy takes place and is tolerated.80 The reverse kind of exogamy was not preferred.81 The mixed castes, mentioned in the Smritis/Smrtis and the Puranas originated from such practice only.82

      The castes regulate their own affairs through their respective caste councils, called panchayats.83 Mostly the caste councils function at the village level. Some have inter-village or regional caste councils also.84 The communities, with thinly scattered population in a large cluster of villages, either call the caste representatives from different villages to settle their intra-caste disputes of serious nature or refer the case for settlement to the caste council of the dominant community of the village.85 The Brahmanas, usually, call the informal meeting of the senior caste-men to settle their disputes. Inter-caste disputes are settled by the village council and not by the caste council.86

       The caste councils, usually, decide the cases of the violation of the norms and usages, rape, incest, violation of the rules of caste endogamy and clan exogamy, property disputes, theft, divorce, violation of the rituals, taking tabooed meal, etc.87 The punishments include chastising, monetary fine, and asking the defaulter to give community feast. in extreme cases, social boycott or the ex-communication from the community was resorted to.88

       The jati or biradari panchayats, as they are called, are the only controlling agencies of the communities. The norms and usages have, of ten, the all-India framework with slight variations. The purity and the pollution aspect of the Caste system need to be studied at two levels. At one level, the rules of commensality applied. All the communities were subjected to such rules. Most of the communities took water and pakka food from each other. The people did not, usually accept Kachcha food, even from the house of a Brahman. At the other level, untouchability operated and a section of the Hindu society suffered from the social disability.

      Many castes, in reality, are not the castes, but the caste clusters. The endogamous groups following different professions are of ten clubbed together and termed as single caste. This violates the basic concept of caste as an endogamous social unit with its own profession. There are numerous communities where we find the clustering of castes. The Newars of Sikkim and Nepal have six tiers of occupational sub-groups headed by Deva Brahmanas.89 Parbatiya Brahmans have replaced Deva Brahmans in Nepal and Sikkim, as priests now a days.90 Such things have happened many times in almost every part of the country where the status of the castes of a particular area have been lowered simultaneously. Such downward mobility of castes followed by their fusion into a single caste cluster have resulted into the disappearance of all the varnas except the Shudra varna. This happened in every part of the country in the past.

      The case of Chhattarkhai caste of Orissa, although of identical nature, is slightly different. Some people lost their caste for eating in relief-kitchens (chhattras) during 1866 famines. They formed Chhattarkhai caste after their social degradation. They have two endogamous sub-castes. The upper sub-caste consists of Brahmanas, Karans, Khandaits, and Gop-Goalas,91 The other castes formed the lower sub-caste.92  This is the case of simultaneous downgrading and fusion of castes.

     The downgrading of castes and the individuals in the varna frame used to take place due to behavioural reasons.93 The Vratyas of the Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya origin attained the status of Shudras.94 Many Kshatriyas became Shudras due to the fear of Parasurama95 and Muslims,96 especially Aurangzeb.

      We know of the cases, when the persons indulging in the incestuous relationship or marrying within their own thars were liable to be sold as slaves and formed the Kamara caste.97 The Kamaras freed by their masters on the payment of their manumission fee formed the Gharti caste. It had the persons born in any caste as its members.98 

      In many cases, such as in the case of Lohar caste, a heterogeneous aggregate is formed by the fusion of ethnic elements from diverse sources following the common profession to form the single caste.99 Kanaujia, Magahiya, Birbhumia, Govidpuria and many other sections among the Lohars indicate towards the places from which they originated or came from100 On the other hand, Munda, Lohars, Bagdi Lohars, Manjhi Turiyas, etc. point towards the tribes and the castes from whom they were recruited.101 

      The downward mobility of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas and their merger into fourth varna resulted into the swelling of its ranks. Shudra varna also became a complex one duo to that reason. As a consequence, the Shudra varna was divided into different categories. In Bengal, the Shudras are classified into Satsudra, Jalacharaniya Shudra, Jalabyabaharya Shudra and the Asprishya Shudra.102 In Tamil Nadu, they are divided into the left hand and the ‘right hand’ categories.103

     The division of labour was the basis of the varna system. The society had only four endogamous categories. The numerous artisan groups did not form separate endogamous castes at that early period and therefore, the varna did not split into the numerous castes. However, at the later stage, especially after the Turk invasion, the marriage at the distant places to the unknown persons was discouraged. The same thing happened with the groups pursuing different callings and the professions. This resulted into the split of varnas into numerous castes. The process of fission did not stop at this stage and the developing specializations resulted into the formation of endogamous sub-castes. As for example, the gardener caste (Mali) split into endogamous Phul Mali, Kacha Mali, Jire Mali and Haldo Mali sub-castes who produce flowers, cotton braid, cumin seeds (jire) ad turmeric (halad or haldi) respectively.104




     One of the features of the caste system, which needs special mention, is the civil and the religious disabilities suffered by a section of society. Such disabilities were very severe in the Deep South.105a That was not so in Assam. The severity was far less even in the north.  The nation fought against such disabilities under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The response of society was positive. The untouchability was eradicated. The political elite of this country talked of the eradication of caste. Very soon, they learnt the political use of the caste and thereafter the process was reversed. The caste is also used as a protective mechanism to save the most corrupt among the power elites.

      The scriptural perception of caste supports the traditional perception of the downward mobility of the castes in the overall varna frame. Different castes communicated their status in the varna frame, as they knew from the tradition and their collective memory,  when the community was asked to do so by the Census Organization during the British period. It was not only the castes of non-Brahmana varnas who suffered due to the crisis of identity due to the duality of the pre-and post degradation status, but even the castes under the Brahmana varna. There were many Brahmana castes also who were not given due recognition. Sir Athelstane Baines has written about them, thus :

      “In every linguistic group, moreover, there are certain classes which though called Brahmanas by the public, and enlisted to perform some of the ceremonial functions of the Brahman, are either not recognized by other Brahmans, or are relegated by them to a degraded position, inferior, in reality, to that to which many of the non-Brahmana castes are admitted.”105A

      It may be pointed out that the priestly Brahmans or their relatives pursuing other professions do not face such crisis of identity. It is also relevant to note in this connection that majority of the Brahmans do not follow the profession ordained by the scriptures and do not deserve to be called ‘Brahmanas’ according to the prescriptions of Manu. It was only the status fossilization which prevented them from sliding down to the status of the Shudras, as a vast majority of the Brahmans, including the priests have not seen the Vedas in their life-time and therefore, the question of reading and teaching the Vedas by them does not arise.106 In this connection, it must be kept in mind that priestly profession was always pursued by, comparatively, a small percentage of the Brahmans and it was looked down upon with disfavour by the most deserving ones.107

    The Brahmanas perform all sorts of jobs including that of the agricultural labour and tilling the soil.108 The persons of their own varna challenge the Brahman status of a section of them. Therefore, the so-called status improvement efforts109 are not confined to any particular section of the society. Here, it needs mention that the Hindus do not follow Brahmana model, Kshatriya model, Vaishya model and the Shudra model.110   They follow the varna model only.

      Even if we ignore the fact that the ‘Sanskritizstion’ is a misnomer, like other hypotheses framed on that line, such as the Pali-ization,111 it is difficult to agree with Shrinivas that a “low” Hindu caste, or tribal or other group, changes its customs, rituals, ideology, and way or life in the direction of a high and frequently, “twice-born” caste.112 First, they try to change in the direction prescribed by the scriptures and the twice-born also follow the same. Second, many so-called low castes are more puritan than the Brahmans of many regions of India. Third, many Brahman castes are lagging behind some dominant non-Brahman castes in the processes of Sanskritizatin and westernization. The concept of Sanskritization, therefore, needs re-examination.

      The caste system had both the positive and negative aspects. The system had, mainly, the behavioral, social and moral basis. The elements of co-operation, interdependence and the cohesion made its functioning smooth. These aspects were often ignored by the colonial writers. There is an urgent need, therefore, to study the caste system with positive frame of mind and with objectivity. We need to develop the macro perception of caste in India basing on the micro studies made by various foreign and Indian writers. The study may help us in understanding the distortions and mis-interpretations about the Indian society, especially, the caste system, and the ill motives and biases of the colonial scholars.113

      India has numerous castes and tribes. But, these castes and tribes function under a more of less uniform frame. The social continuum in India, incorporating the Caste-Tribe continuum, and the mobility from caste to tribe and vice-versa is often not studied properly. An in-depth objective study is necessary.114



Notes and References :

           1.    Kale, M.R., A Higher Sanskrit Grammar, p.45.

        2.     Halayudh Kosh, p. 315.

        3.     Kale, op. cit., p. 92.

        4.     Kumar, B.b., Tribal Societies of India, P. 2.

        5.     Wyld, Henri Cecil, Universal English Dictionary, p. 158.

        6.     Halayudh Kosh, P. 92.

        7.     Bhatty, Zarina, Social Stratification among Muslims in India, In M.N. Srinivasa’s ‘Caste, Its Twentieth Century Avatar’, pp. 244-62

        8.     Tharamangalam, J., Caste among Christians in India, in M.N. Srinivas’s op. cit., pp. 263-91.

        9.     Sikhs and Jews have also the castes among them.

        10.   Ghurye, Elements of Caste Outside India, in ‘Cast and Race in India, pp. 141-61.’

        11.   Al-Beruni, India (Hindi version), p. 47.

        12.   Manu-Smriti,3.12.14.

        13.   Al-Beruni, op. cit., p. 49

        14.   Ibid.

        15.   Ibid, p. 48.

        16.   Ibid.

        17.   Dubois, Hindu Mannes, Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 10-11

        18.   Shri Vishnu Puran, II.4.17, 30.31, 38.39, 53, 69.

        19.   Manusmriti. X. 4-5: 44-45.

        20.   Mahabharat Sabha. 52.13-17: Sabha. 38.

        21.   Quoted by Ghurye, op. cit., p.2

        22.   Manusmriti. X.81.86.

        23.   Manusmriti. X.95.

        24.   Manusmriti. X.98.

        25.   Manusmriti. X.99-100.

        26.   Ibid, X.43.

        27.   Ibia, X.44-45.

        28.   Mahabharat Van. 216.13-14.

        29.   Maine, Sir Henry, Village Communioties in the East and West, Pp.56- 57; quoted in the Encyclopedia Americana, (1964 edition), vol. 6; p. 1.

        30.   Except for the upper most and lower most section of the Hindu society, there are large number of castes bracketed together. It is wrong to say  that every caste forms a strata.

        31.   The castes with different economic activities and the Jamani system  makes the society interdependent.

        32.   Mandelbaum, David G., Society in India, pp. 161-62.

        33.   Melvin M. Tumin’s ‘Caste in a Peasant Society’ uses caste as a class.

        34.   The works of Max Mueuller and Risley have set the tradition of the racist interpretation of Indian Society.

        35.   Kindly see the chapter on ‘The Colonial Theories of Caste.

        36.   Kindly see J.H. Hutton’s Caste in India: Its Nature, Function and the Origin.

        37.   Dumount over-emphasised this aspect.

        38.   India was successful in eradication of untouchability. This aspect is neglected even to-day by   the Indian scholars and the aspects of purity and pollution continues to get prominence in there studies and the creative writings.

        39.   The state sponsored monographic micro studies of the castes and tribes aimed at projecting Indian society as a dis-organised entity.

        40.   Max Muller was paid for preparing a distorted version of Rigveda to facilitate proselytization of India. He was responsible for giving racial meaning to many vedic words, such as the ‘Arya’, ‘Sasya’,

        41.   The presented the so called Aryan aggressors in their own role in deplorable empire making activities in Africa, America Australia and elsewhere. This was not the Indian experience.

        42.   The Europeans were had tremendous errogance about their white colour and the race. They assumed so called ‘Aryans’ also to the their replica. The colonial theories of caste are full of the assumptions that the so called Aryans had these complexes which played due role in the origin and development of the Caste System.

        43.   Encyclopedia Americana, op. cit., p. 1.

        44.   The foreign and Indian writers on caste never use the original Sanskrit Texts. They voluminously quote from the translations of Max Muller, Wilson, etc. and from the books like books like ‘Vedic Indrex’.

        45.   It is interesting to go through the books written by the Indian writers and the publications of the Government agencies and to find massive   references from the publications which are as old as a century or more  and liberal quotes and references from Sherring, Thruston, Ibbetson, Crooke, Metcafe, Russel and Hiralal, Wiliam, Enthoven, Lyall, Hutton,  Gait, Buchanan, Opert, Carlieyle, etc. Their views are often accepted   without any adverse comments of these writers. These have only the historical importance.

        46.   The study of the scriptures declined during the Muslim rule and the trend continued during the British rule. The people become became shortsighted. The persons whom these writers selected as the informants seem to have scant knowledge about the other caste. They thought others except those belonging to the own caste to be the degraded ones to be. We find the observations of the western writers about various communities mostly impressionist.

        47.   Mandelbaum, op. cit., p. 23.

        48.   Mayer, Adrian C., Some hierarchical aspects of caste; Southwestern  Journal of Anthropology (1956), 12.117—144.

        49.   Shrinivas, M.N., The Social system of Kysore village; in Village India, N. Marriott, p. 25.

        50.   Dubois, op. cit. p. 23.

        51.   The advice to read Mahabharat and the merit acquired by reading the same is given at the end of every Parva. The last chapter of the Ramayan of Valmiki also exhorts one to read the same and points out the merits acquired by reading the same.

        52.   Manu. IV. 99;

        53.   Al-Beruni. op. cit., pp. 228-29; Manu. III.1.

        54.   Manu. IV. 99;

        55.   Maha./Van.,85, 103,; last chapter of the Ramayana, etc.

        56.   Maha./Van, 85,69-75; 88, 18; 184, 92, etc.

        57.   Ibid, 183, 113; 183, 139, etc.

        58.   The epics, Puranas and the other ancient literature copiously describe ‘Bhakti’ as a way of worship. Mahabharat advises to bow down the Bhakta born in Chandala family (Gita Press edition) pp. 6376-80; Shrimad Bhagwat is a Puran mostly of Bhakti cult.

        59.   Sarma, S.N., The Neo-Vaishnavite Novement and the Satra Institution  in Assam, pp.4-5

        60.   The people of the Eastern India take meat and fish and the Shakta and Shaiva worship is more prominent in this part of the country. Many tribal communities take meat, fish and wine and worship Shiva and Kali.

        61.   In spite of strong roots of the Tantric Hinduism, Shaktism and Shaivism, Bhakti movement was very prominent and strong in Bengal, Assam and Manipur.

        62.   The persons initiated into Vaishnavism are given beads of Tulasi plant  and they avoid non-vegetarian meal after wearing the same.

        63.   Brahman widows avoid taking fish.

        64.   Fishes having no scale of having the shape of a serpent were tabooed according to the Yogini Tantra (II.05.275).

        65.   Hodson, op. cit., p. 47; they take fish and avoid taking meat.

        66.   Brahmans of Mithila take both meat and fish.

        67.   Konkanastha Brahmanas take fish.

        68.   Ghurye, op.cit.,pp.252.

        69.   Ibid, pp.254,257.

        70.   Risley, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 495; The Koch and many other tribes do so.

        71.   The Gotra are classified into the group of five and three to form  pravaras.

        72. The boys and girls born in the same gotra or within the prohibited degree of kinship are considered to be the brothers and the sisters and therefore marriage between them is considered to be incestuous and is prohibited.

        73.   Mandelbaum, op. cit., pp. 236-37.

        74.   Ibid.

        75.   Ibid, p. 237

        76.   Ibid, p. 238

        77.   Ibid, p. 237

        78.   Risley, op. cit., pp. 158-59.

        79.   Mandelbaum, op. cit., p. 238.; Risley, op. cit., pp. 147-48.

        80.   Manu., X. 64-66.

        81.   Ibid, X. 67-68.

        82.   Ibid, Chapter X.

        83.   Ghurye, op. cit., p.2.

        84.   Mandelbaum, op. cit., pp. 285-91.

        85.   Lohars in the Munda and Oraon villages do not have their separate caste panchayats and refer their cases for settlements to the tribal village councils of the Mundas and the Oraons.

        86.   Mandelbaum, op. cit., pp. 279, 284.

        87.   Ghurye, op. cit., pp. 3-4.

        88.   Ibid, p.4.

        89.   Singh, K.S., Sikkim, pp. 132-33.

        90.   Ibid, p. 133.

        91.   Risley, op. cit., p. 196.

        92.   Ibid.

        93.   Manu. X. 43.

        94.   Ibid, X,44.

        95.   Risley, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 492; The Koch tribe has such a tradition.

        96.   Risley, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 312.

        97.   Ibid, Vol. I, p. 277.

        98.   Ibid.

        99.   Ibid. Vol. II, p. 22.

        100. Ibid.

        101. Ibid.

        102. Ibid, p. 270.

        103. Ghurya, op. cit., p. 13.

        104. Ibid, p. 38.

        105. Baines, Sir Athelstane, Ethnogrphy, Stralsburg, 1912, p. 26.

        106. Manu. II., 168.

        107. Mahabharat/Adi./166.4-21.

        108. Ghurye, op. cit., p. 17.

        109. Ghurye, Caste and Class in India, 1951; pp. 169-70.

        110. Shrinivas, Social Change in Modern India, p. 7.

        111. Shrinivas, Caste: its Twentieth Century Avatar, 1996, pp. 158, 168.

        112. Shrinivas, Social Change in India, p.6

        113. Such distortions and the motivations have been fully discussed in other chapters of this book.

        114. Kumar, B.B. Tribal Societies of India, pp.12-26.


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