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Caste System in India

The pattern of social classes in Hinduism is called the “caste system.” The chart shows the major divisions and contents of the system. Basic caste is called varn.a, or “color.” Subcaste, or jâti, “birth, life, rank,” is a traditional subdivision of varn.a.

The Bhagavad Gita says this about the varn.as:

The works of Brahmins, Ks.atriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras are different, in harmony with the three powers of their born nature.

The works of a Brahmin are peace; self-harmony, austerity, and purity; loving-forgiveness and righteousness; vision and wisdom and faith.

These are the works of a Ks.atriya: a heroic mind, inner fire, constancy, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and noble leadership.

Trade, agriculture and the rearing of cattle is the work of a Vaishya. And the work of the Shudra is service.

There are literally thousands of subcastes in India, often with particular geographical ranges and an administrative or corporate structure. When Mahâtmâ Gandhi wanted to go to England to study law, he had to ask his subcaste for permission to leave India. (“Gandhi” means “greengrocer” — from gandha, “smell, fragrance,” in Sanskrit — and that should be enough for a good guess that Gandhi was a Vaishya.) Sometimes it is denied that the varn.as are “castes” because, while “true” castes, the jâtis, are based on birth, the varn.as are based on the theory of the gun.as (the “three powers” mentioned in the Gita). This is no more than a rationalization: the varn.as came first, and they are based on birth. The gun.as came later, and provide a poor explanation anyway, since the gun.a tamas is associated with both twice born and once born, caste and outcaste. Nevertheless, the varn.as are now divisions at a theoretical level, while the jâtis are the way in which caste is embodied for most practical purposes. Jâtis themselves can be ranked in relation to each other, and occasionally a question may even be raised about the proper varn.a to which a particular jâti belongs.

Associated with each varn.a there is a traditional color. These sound suspiciously like skin colors; and, indeed, there is an expectation in India that higher caste people will have lighter skin — although there are plenty of exceptions (especially in the South of India). This all probably goes back to the original invasion of the Arya, who came from Central Asia and so were undoubtedly light skinned. The people already in India were quite dark, even as today many people in India seem positively black. Apart from skin color, Indians otherwise have “Caucasian” features — narrow noses, thin lips, etc. — and recent genetic mapping studies seem to show that Indians are more closely related to the people of the Middle East and Europe than to anyone else. Because Untouchables are not a varn.a, they do not have a traditional color. I have supplied blue, since this is otherwise not found, and it is traditionally used for the skin color of Vis.n.u and his incarnations. Chief among those is Kr.s.n.a (Krishna), whose name actually means “black” or “dark,” but he is always shown blue rather than with some natural skin color.

The first three varn.as are called the twice born. This has nothing to do with reincarnation. Being “twice born” means that you come of age religiously, making you a member of the Vedic religion, eligible to learn Sanskrit, study the Vedas, and perform Vedic rituals. The “second birth” is thus like Confirmation or a Bar Mitzvah. According to the Laws of Manu (whose requirements may not always be observed in modern life), boys are “born again” at specific ages: 8 for Brahmins; 11 for Ks.atriyas; and 12 for Vaishyas. A thread is bestowed at the coming of age to be worn around the waist as the symbol of being twice born. The equivalent of coming of age for girls is marriage. The bestowal of the thread is part of the wedding ceremony. That part of the wedding ritual is even preserved in Jainism. Ancient Iran also had a coming of age ceremony that involved a thread. That and other evidence leads to the speculation that the three classes of the twice born are from the original Indo-European social system — the theory of George Dumézil. Even the distant Celts believed in three social classes. The three classes of Plato’s Republic thus may not have been entirely his idea. Although there must have been a great deal of early intermarriage in India, nowhere did such an Indo-European social system become as rigid a system of birth as there. The rigidity may well be due to the influence of the idea of karma, that poor birth is morally deserved.

According to the Laws of Manu, when the twice born come of age, they enter into the four âshramas or “stages of life.”

The first is the brahmacarya, or the stage of the student (brahmacârin). For boys, the student is supposed to go live with a teacher (guru), who is a Brahmin, to learn about Sanskrit, the Vedas, rituals, etc. The dharma of a student includes being obedient, respectful, celibate, and non-violent. “The teacher is God.” For girls, the stage of studenthood coincides with that of the householder, and the husband stands in the place of the teacher. Since the boys are supposed to be celibate while students, Gandhi used the term brahmacâri to mean the celibate practitioner that he thought made the best Satyagrahi, the best non-violent activist.

The second stage is the gârhastya, or the stage of the householder, which is taken far more seriously in Hinduism than in Jainism or Buddhism and is usually regarded as mandatory, like studenthood, although debate continued over the centuries whether or not this stage could be skipped in favor of a later one. This is the stage where the principal dharma of the person is performed, whether as priest, warrior, etc., or for women mainly as wife and mother. Arjuna’s duty to fight the battle in the Bhagavad Gita comes from his status as a householder. Besides specific duties, there are general duties that pay off the “three debts”: a debt to the ancestors that is discharged by marrying and having children; a debt to the gods that is discharged by the household rituals and sacrifices; and a debt to the teacher that is discharged by appropriately teaching one’s wife or children.

The third stage is the vânaprastya, or the stage of the forest dweller. This may be entered into optionally if (ideally) one’s hair has become gray, one’s skin wrinkled, and grandchildren exist to carry on the family. Husbands and wives may leave their affairs and possessions with their children and retire together to the forest as hermits. This does not involve the complete renunciation of the world, for husbands and wives can still have sex (once a month), and a sacred fire still should be kept and minimal rituals performed. This stage is thus not entirely free of dharma. The Forest Treatises were supposed to have been written by or for forest dwellers, who have mostly renounced the world and have begun to consider liberation. I am not aware that forest dwelling is still practiced in the traditional way. The modern alternatives seem to consist of the more stark opposition between householding and becoming a wandering ascetic.

The fourth stage is the sannyâsa, or the stage of the wandering ascetic, the sannyâsin (or sâdhu). If a man desires, he may continue on to this stage, but his wife will need to return home; traditionally she cannot stay alone as a forest dweller or wander the highways as an ascetic. The sannyâsin has renounced the world completely, is regarded as dead by his family (the funeral is held), and is finally beyond all dharma and caste. When a sannyâsin enters a Hindu temple, he is not a worshiper but one of the objects of worship. Not even the gods are sannyâsins (they are householders), and so this is where in Hinduism, as in Jainism and Buddhism, it is possible for human beings to be spiritually superior to the gods. It has long been a matter of dispute in Hinduism whether one need really fulfill the requirements of the Laws of Manu (gray hair, etc.) to renounce the world. There are definitely no such requirements in Jainism or Buddhism. The Buddha left his family right after his wife had a baby, which would put him in the middle of his dharma as a householder. Jainism and Buddhism thus developed monastic institutions, but these did not really develop as such in Hinduism.

The four stages of life may, somewhat improbably, be associated with the four parts of the Vedas: the sam.hitâs with the stage of the student, who is particularly obligated to learn them; the brâhman.as with the stage of the householder, who is able to regulate his ritual behavior according to them; the âran.yakas with the stage of the forest dweller, who regulates his ritual behavior according to them and who begins to contemplate liberation; and finally the upanis.ads with the stage of the wandering ascetic, who is entirely concerned with meditation on the absolute, Brahman.

The twice born account for about 48% of Hindus. The rest are Shudras and Untouchables. The Shudras may represent the institutional provision that the Arya made for the people they already found in India. The Shudras thus remain once born, and traditionally are not allowed to learn Sanskrit or study the Vedas. Their dharma is to work for the twice born. But even below the Shudras are the Untouchables, who are literally “outcastes,” without a varn.a, and were regarded as “untouchable” because they are ritually polluting for caste Hindus. Some Untouchable subcastes are regarded as so polluted that members are supposed to keep out of sight and do their work at night: They are called “Unseeables.” In India, the term “Untouchable” is now regarded as impolite or politically incorrect (like Eta in Japan for the traditional tanners and pariahs). Gandhi’s Harijans (“children of God”) or Dalits (“downtrodden”) are prefered, though to Americans “Untouchables” would sound more like the gangster-busting federal agent Elliot Ness from the 1920’s. Why there are so many Untouchables (15%-20% or so of Hindus) is unclear, although caste Hindus can be ejected from their jâtis and become outcastes and various tribal or formerly tribal people in India may never have been properly integrated into the social system. When Mahâtmâ Gandhi’s subcaste refused him permission to go to England, as noted above, he went anyway and was ejected from the caste. After he returned, his family got him back in, but while in England he was technically an outcaste. Existing tribal people, as well as Untouchables, are also called the “scheduled castes,” since the British drew up a “schedule” listing the castes that they regarded as backwards, underprivileged, or oppressed.

The Untouchables, nevertheless, have their own traditional professions and their own subcastes. Those professions (unless they can be evaded in the greater social mobility of modern, urban, anonymous life) involve too much pollution to be performed by caste Hindus: (1) dealing with the bodies of dead animals (like the sacred cattle that wander Indian villages) or unclaimed dead humans, (2) tanning leather, from such dead animals, and manufacturing leather goods, and (3) cleaning up the human and animal waste for which in traditional villages there is no sewer system. Mahâtmâ Gandhi referred to the latter euphemistically as “scavenging” but saw in it the most horrible thing imposed on the Untouchables by the caste system. His requirement on his farms in South Africa that everyone share in such tasks comes up in an early scene in the movie Gandhi. Since Gandhi equated suffering with holiness, he saw the Untouchables as hallowed by their miserable treatment and so called them “Harijans” (Hari=Vis.n.u). Later Gandhi went on fasts in the hope of improving the condition of the Untouchables, or at least to avoid their being politically classified as non-Hindus. Today the status of the Shudras, Untouchables, and other “scheduled castes,” and the preferential policies that the Indian government has designed for their advancement ever since Independence, are sources of serious conflict, including murders and riots, in Indian society.


The Hindu community is divided into numerous socially-differentiated groups, better known as castes. In keeping with the change in Government policy, the census enumeration has ceased to take cognisance of these groups since 1941. However the customs, practices and traditions of the various communities or castes are sociologically so important that a publication such as Gazetteer should give a vivid account of the various communities which is of immense interest to a student of sociology, a scholar as also a general reader. It is with this important consideration that the account from the former edition of the Sholapur Gazetteer has been reproduced below with necessary changes and abridgement. The lengthy description of the mode of dress, pattern of food, betrothal, marriage customs, child birth rites, various rituals and after-death rites and obsequies, as given in the former edition, is required to be abridged as many of those observances are either not in vogue, or are on the decline even among those castes which used to practise them in the past.

The influence of education and impact of modern concepts about social hierarchy, individual freedom and the place of religion in life have generated a spirit of questioning the old practices and beliefs. In the present-day society there appears a general apathy towards the past ways of life and many of the beliefs and customs appear to be insipid, superfluous and ridiculous. The pace of change has been further accelerated by growing urbanisation and industrialisation. The impact of economic forces has been so deep that they have shaken many of the convictions about communal as also religious life of the people. The impact of the evolutionary process is felt even among the backward class tribes which were formerly in a stagnant stage. It is therefore necessary to give a narration in a changed perspective though it has to be viewed in the context of tradition and heritage which sway human dealings for long.

Brahmans: Brahmans include thirteen classes, viz., Deshasthas. Devrukhas, Golaks, Gujaratis, Kanaujs, Karhadas, Konkanasths, Marwadis, Ramanujs, Shenvis, Telangs, Tirguls and Vidurs. Each of the class is described below:-

Deshasthas: Deshasthas or local Brahmans are found over the whole district. They are old settlers in the district and have no tradition or memory of any earlier home. They are divided into Ashvalayans, Kanvas, and Yajusshakhis or Madhyandins, who eat together but do not inter-marry. Among the members of the same section intermarriage can-not take place if the family-stocks or gotras are the same. Their surnames are Aradhye, Dandavate, Deshpande, Gatade, Gore, Guljar, Kale, Kande, Konkne, Tathe and Thite. Persons bearing the same surname cannot inter-marry unless the surname is only an office or calling name. Thus a Deshpande of one village can give his daughter in marriage to a Deshpande of another village provided their family-stocks are different. The names in common use among men are Anant, Bandoba, Bhagvant, Bindo, Gindo, Krishnacharya, Malhar, Narhari, Shamraj, Timaji, Venimadhav and Yamaji; and among women, Gita, Koyna, Krishna, Lakshmi, Radha, Rahi, Sarasvati and Satyabhama. They are generally dark with regular features, but are rougher, hardier, and less acute than Konkanasth Brahmans. The women, like the men, are dark and rough, and not so good-looking as the Konkanasth women. Deshasth Brahmans live in houses of the better sort one or more storeys high with walls of mud and stone and flat roofs. Their house goods include copper and brass and stainless steel pots and pans, plates, ladles, and cups, also cots, bedding, and quilts. They generally have no servants, the women of the house doing all the work. They are a thrifty and careful people, are vegetarians, whose staple food is millet bread, rice, pulse and vegetables. They are extremely fond of spices and chillis. Their chief holiday dishes are gram cakes or puranpolis and sugared and spiced milk. Snuff-taking and tobacco-chewing is common and betel-eating is universal. The men used to wear the top-knot and the moustache, but neither the beard nor the whiskers in the past. They dress in a waist-cloth, a waist-coat or a coat, a head-scarf or turban, a shoulder-cloth, and shoes or sandals. Except in public, the shoulder-cloth takes the place of the coat and waist-coat. The women dress in the backed bodice and the full Maratha robe with the skirt drawn back between the feet and tucked in at the waist behind. They mark their brows with a large red circle and braid the hair into a coil like a scorpion’s tail. They have rich clothes in store many of which have been handed down two or three generations. As a class they are indolent, and untidy, but thrifty and hospitable, and franker and less cunning than Konkanasthas. Their slovenliness and dullness had given them the name of dhamyas or dhamgands, that is, stay-at-homes in the past. They are writers, bankers, money-lenders and changers, traders, medical practitioners, land-holders, priests and religious beggars. They claim to be superior to all Brahmans, professing to look down on the Konkanasths as Parashuram’s creation. They associate freely with Konkanasths and Karhadas, and eat with them; but except in a few cases do not marry with them. Some are Smarts or followers of the doctrine that the soul and the universe are the same, and others are Bhagvats who hold that the soul and universe are distinct. The members of both sects worship all Brahmanic gods and goddesses, and keep the ordinary fasts and festivals. Their priests belong to their own caste. They make pilgrimages to Alandi, Allahabad, Banaras, Gaya, Jejuri, Mathura, Nasik, Pandharpur, Rameshvar and Tuljapur. Like many other conservative Hindus in the past they believed in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens, and lucky and unlucky days, and consult oracles. They always have their horoscopes cast and when anything goes wrong they either consult their horoscopes or go to an astrologer. They have house gods and goddesses, goddesses being more frequently worshipped. Some of the goddesses Karamma, Saha-devi, Shakambari, and Yallamma, seem to point to a Dravidian, that is, an eastern or a southern origin. In social matters they belong to the great local community of Brahmans which includes the members of the Chitpavan, Deshasth, Devrukha and Karhada castes. Now they are an enlightened and educated class.

Devrukhas: Devrukha Brahmans are immigrants from Devrukh in Ratnagiri. They have no sub-divisions and their family-stocks or gotras are Atri, Jamadagnya and Kashyap. Their surnames are Joshi, Mule and Padval. Sameness of stock, not sameness of surname, bars marriage. In house, dress, food and customs they do not differ from Deshasthas. They are either Smarts or Bhagvats, keep all Brahmanic fasts and festivals, and go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Jejuri, Nasik and Pandharpur. They believe in sorcery and witchcraft, and consult oracles. They form part of the great Brahman community, and settle social disputes at meetings of local Deshasths, Chitpavans, Karhadas and Devrukhas.

Golaks: Golaks are found in Barshi and in Pandharpur. They say they are Govardhan Brahmans, and that they are considered degraded because their ancestors, instead of rearing cows, sold them and lived on the proceeds. They say they came to Sholapur from Parali Vaijnath in the thirties of the 19th century in search of work. The names of their family-stocks or gotras are Bharadvaj, Bhargav, Kashyap, Kaushik, Sankhyayan, Vasishtha and Vatsa; and their surnames are Alate, Avte, Kakde, Kolsune, Mandvale, Nachne, Pachpore, Polade, Rishi and Supnekar. Persons bearing the same stock-name and the same surname cannot inter-marry. They look like Deshasthas, and differ little from Deshasthas in speech, food or dress. They are hardworking, even-tempered and hospitable. They are writers, moneychangers, cloth merchants, messengers, Government servants and husbandmen. They claim to be equal to Deshastha Brahmans, but Deshasthas consider them inferior and neither eat nor drink with them. They worship the usual Brahman and local gods and goddesses, especially Bahiroba, Khandoba, and the Bhavanis of Aundh, Kolhapur and Tuljapur. They keep all Hindu fasts and feasts and call Deshastha Brahmans to officiate at their houses. They go on pilgrimage to Alandi, Allahabad, Banaras, Jejuri, Oudh, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. They believe in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens, and lucky and unlucky days and consult oracles. The Golaks had some peculiar rituals at the child-birth in the past, most of which have now been discarded.

Gujarat Brahmans: Gujarat Brahmans are found over the whole district except in Malshiras. They come in search of work either as cooks or priests, stay for a few years, and go back to their native country. They are divided into Audiches, Nagars and Shrimalis, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The names of their family-stocks are Bharadvaj, Kapil and Vasishth, and persons belonging to the same family-stock cannot inter-marry. Their surnames are Achare, Bhat, Pandya, Raul, Thakur and Vyas, and families bearing the same surname can inter-marry provided the family-stock or gotra is different both on the father’s and on the mother’s sides. The names in common use among men are Aditram, Atmaram, Shankar, Shivshankar, Umya-shankar, Vallabhram and Vithal, and among women Gulab, Jadhav, Moti, Narbada, Reva and Rukhmini. They are generally fair with regular features, and neither very strong nor tall. The women are fairer than the men with delicate features, oval face, and small hands and feet. Their home-tongue is Gujarati, but out-of-doors they speak Marathi mixed with Gujarati. These Gujarat Brahmans are extremely careful and frugal; they are sober, thrifty, and orderly. They are religious beggars, astrologers, family priests, and cooks. They are well paid by their Vani patrons, and are free from debt, and generally carry back considerable sums to their native country. They are a religious people. Their family-deities are Ambabai and Balaji, and they worship all Brahman gods and goddesses and keep all fasts and festivals. Their priests belong to their own caste and they go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Nasik, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. They believe in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens, and lucky and unlucky days, and consult oracles. They are bound together by a strong caste feeling. Now-a-days they are a prosperous class, but not keen about scholastic pursuits.

Kanaujs: Kanauj Brahmans are found over the whole district except in Malshiras. They are an offset from the Kanya-Kubjas of north India, and are said to have come into the district as soldiers in Aurangzeb’s army (1658-1707). They are divided into Kanaujs, Sanadhyas, and Sarvariyas, who eat together but do not inter-marry. The names of their family-stocks or gotras are Bharadvaj, Gargya, Kashyapa, Lohita and Maithuna; and persons bearing the same family-name cannot inter-marry. Their surnames are Adrun, Avarti, Chobe, Dube, Pande, Sukul and Trivedi. The names in common use among men are Beniram, Girdharlal, Kanyalal, Mohanlal, Prasad and Ramchandra; and among women Balubai, Chhotibai and Jamnabai. They are fair with regular features, tall, strong, and athletic. In dress and appearance the rich and well-to-do resemble Konkanasth Brahmans, and the poorer classes have a martial Rajput-like air. Since their settlement in the district the women, who are very fair and delicate-looking with small hands and feet, have taken to wear the Maratha women’s dress. Their home-tongue is Hindustani, but out-of-doors they speak Marathi and Kanarese. They are thrifty, hardworking, even-tempered and hospitable. They are money-lenders and changers, writers, and soldiers formerly in British regiments. Though their calling is neither steady nor flourishing, their thriftiness keeps them from debt. Some of the poorer may be indebted but as a class they have credit enough. They are religious people and worship all Brahmanic gods and goddesses. Their family-deities are Bhavani of Calcutta, Mahadev of Banaras, and Betrajmata of upper India. Their priests belong to their own caste. They keep the regular Brahmanic fasts and feasts and go on pilgrimage to Dwarka, Jejuri, Kashi or Banaras, Mathura, Pandharpur, Prayag or Allahabad, Rameshvar, and Tuljapur. They believe in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens and lucky and unlucky days, and consult oracles. Their customs do not differ from those of the Poona Kanaujs. Formerly they had a caste council which settled social disputes at meetings of the castemen. Offences were punished by fines which, when recovered, were spent on sweetmeats.

Karhada Brahmans: Karhada Brahmans are found over the whole district. Their original settlement is Karhad (Karad), the sacred meeting of the Krishna and Koyna, in Satara. They believe they came into the district from the Konkan, Kolhapur and Satara during the last hundred years in search of work. They have no sub-divisions, and the names of some of their family-stocks are Atri, Bharadvaj, Gautam, Jamadagnya, Kashyap, Kaushik and Lohitaksh. Persons belonging to the same family-stock or gotra cannot inter-marry. Their surnames are Agle, Amonkar, Athlekar, Buge, Chunekar, Devuskar, Gadre, Kelkar, Kirane and Kole. Sameness of surname is no bar to marriage. The names in common use both among men and among women are the same as those among Chitpavans. Their home Marathi differs little from the ordinary Sholapur Marathi, but it is more like the Chitpavans’ dialect than any other. In their house, dress and food they do not differ from Chitpavans. They are the best cooks of all Deccan or Konkan Brahmans. They are thrifty, clean and neat in their habits, hospitable and orderly. Most of them serve in the revenue, police, and judicial departments of Government service. Some are land-holders letting their fields to husbandmen on the crop-share system. Karhadas claim and hold an equal rank with Deccan Brahmans with whom they eat. Their customs from birth to death are the same as Konkanasth customs. They worship all Brahman gods and goddesses and more often worship goddesses than gods. The family-goddess of almost all is the Kolhapur Bhavani though some have the Tuljapur Bhavani. Their priests belong to their own class. They keep all Brahmanic fasts and festivals and go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Kolhapur, Nasik, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. They believe in spirit possession and lucky and unlucky days, and consult oracles. They hold caste councils, send their boys to school, are free from debt, and live in fair comfort.

Konkanasths: Konkanasth Brahmans are found over the whole district. They are said to have come into the district during the time of the Peshwas (1714-1818). They are divided into Apasthamba or the followers of the Yajurved, and Ashvalayans or the followers of the Rigved. The members of both these branches eat together and inter-marry. Their personal names, stock-names and surnames are the same as those of Poona Konkanasths. Both men and women are fair, many of them with grey eyes. They have an air of intelligence and superiority, and are always awake to their own interests. The women are delicate with small hands and feet and are the fairest Hindus in the district, though those who have been long in the district are somewhat darker and rougher than Ratnagiri Konkanasths. Their home Marathi differs from the Deshasth Brahman Marathi in being more nasal and in the use of some peculiar phrases. Their staple food includes rice, pulse, wheat, millet, curds and pickles. They are good cooks, though compared with those of the Deshasths or Karhadas their dishes are somewhat insipid. They are very fond of curds and buttermilk, cocoanuts, and kokamb, and live almost entirely on rice. Like other Brahmans they are fond of clarified butter eating it chiefly with bajri bread. Their intelligence, pride, cunning, and love of intrigue have combined to raise the Konkanasths to the first place among Deccan Brahmans. They are hard-working, sober and wideawake to their own interests. They are thrifty and proverbially stingy. Konkanasths are landed proprietors, money-lenders, cloth and grain dealers, and Government servants. They are fond of parading their religiousness. They are either Smarts or Bhagvats and worship all Brahmanic gods and goddesses. They keep the usual fasts and festivals and their priests belong to their own caste. They make pilgrimages to Banaras, Kolhapur and Tuljapur, and believe in sorcery and witchcraft, and in the supernatural powers of magicians. They have a full belief in astrology. They are very keen on educating their children, and are one of the most enlightened of Indian castes.

Marwadis: Marwad Brahmans are found over the whole district except in Madha, Pandharpur and Sangola. They say they have come into the district from Marwad in the middle of the last century. They are divided into Adigauds, Audichs, Dayamas, Gauds, Gujar Gauds, Parikhs, Purohits, Sanavadis, Sarasvats, Shri-Gauds and Shrimalis. The names of some of their family-stocks or gotras are Bharadvaj, Bhargav, Gautam, Kashyap, Sandsan and Shandilya, and persons belonging to the same family-stock or gotra do not inter-marry. The surnames are Joshi, Mishar, Ojha, Pande, Pandit, Tivari, Upadhya and Vyas; and persons bearing the same surname cannot inter-marry. The names in common use among men are Bansilal, Bholaram, Girdharlal, Rupchand and Shivlal, and among women Champa, Chhoti, Kasturi, Keshar, Rangu, Saku and Thaki. They are fair, tall and stout, the women fairer than the men. The men have notably hard greedy lines at the corners of their mouths and sharp twinkling eyes. Among themselves they speak Marwadi, a mixture of Gujarati and Brijbhasha.

They are hard-working, sober, and almost miserly in their thriftiness. They are writers, petty bankers, money-changers, cooks and beggars. They believe in astrology, but profess to have no faith in witchcraft, sorcery or oracles. Child marriage and polygamy were allowed but widow marriage was forbidden by them in the past. They are bound together by a strong caste-feeling.

Ramanujas: Ramanuja Brahmans are found only in Pandharpur. Ramanujas or followers of Ramanuja, the twelfth-century reformer of Vaishnavism, belong to all high and middle class Hindus. Each marries with and keeps to the customs of his own caste. All the Pandharpur Ramanujas are Brahmans by caste and ascetics. Ramanuja, the founder of the sect, was, it is said, an incarnation of Shesha, the cobra god, on whose coils and under whose open hood lies Narayana or Vishnu, the universal spirit. [For details refer to the former edition of the Sholapur District Gazetteer.]

Ramanuja belonged to the Vishishtadvaita school which regards the deity as one with the universe. The sect spread widely in southern India, most of his followers being Dravidian Brahmans, though it also numbers many northern India or Gaud Brahmans. His followers claim a high antiquity for the sect, but, as has been noticed, Ramanuja seems to have lived in the twelfth century. The Ramanujas of Pandharpur are all Brahmans and are divided into Badagalai [Badagalai is the Tamil badag north; and Tingolai is the Tamil tingol south.] or Badahalai meaning northerners and Tingolai meaning southerners who eat together and inter-marry. Their family-stocks or gotras are Atri, Bharadvaj, Jamadagnya, Kashyap, and Shandilya. Sameness of stock is a bar to marriage. A member of the Ramanuja sect, whether his caste be Brahman, Vani, Sonar, Sutar or Kunbi, can be easily known by two upright yellow guardian-sandal or gopichandan-marks which stretch from between the eye-brows to the root of the hair and are known as Vishnu’s feet. Between the two lines is a third, red or yellow, representing the goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu’s spouse. The Pandharpur Ramanujas are unmarried ascetics who live in a strongly-built math or religious house at Pandharpur well supplied with vessels and furniture and with cows, buffaloes and parrots. Brahman Ramanujas are strict vegetarians. They are great eaters and fair cooks.

The men wear the sacred thread unless they turn ascetics, mark their brow with the nam or two upright colour lines and brand their arms with the discus or chakra and other symbols of Vishnu. The Pandharpur Ramanujas are a quiet, hospitable and harmless people, now following many callings. During the 1876-77 famine they fed some hundreds of famished people daily at their own expense. They claim equality with Deshastha Brahmans, but will not eat or drink at their houses. Deccan Brahmans keep aloof from them and profess to look down on them. Except Panchals other Hindus eat at their houses. They are religious and believe Vishnu to be the Supreme Being who exists from before the creation and will for ever remain. Their leading gods are the incarnations of Vishnu, Krishna, Ram and Vithoba. Their chief religious books are the Bhargava purana, Vishnu purana and Ramanuja bhashya. Their chief monastery is in northern India and they also have shrines in south India. They are the priests of Balaji’s temple at Giri or Tirupati in North Arkot.

Except their initiation their customs are the same as those of the caste to which they belong.

Sarasvats: Sarasvats or Shenvis are found over the whole district except in Karmala and Sangola. The Sholapur Shenvis say that they take their name from Shahannavi or ninety-six villages over which they had authority. According to their account Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, the destroyer of the Kshatriyas, brought three families of Sarasvats from a town called Trihotrapur supposed to be Tirhut and settled them and their family-gods in Goa; the original settlers were afterwards joined by seven more families. The Sholapur Shenvis are said to have been settled in the district for four or five generations and to have originally come in search of work from Gwalior, Kolhapur and the Konkan. They are divided into Bardeshkars, Kudaldeshkars, Rajapurkars, and Shenvis proper. These divisions do not inter-marry and used not to eat together though lately the Shenvis proper, who are the highest of the four classes, have begun to employ Rajapurkars as cooks. The men are generally middle-sized, and the women taller than the men, fair and regular-featured. They speak Marathi both at home and abroad. They have forgotten the Konkani dialect which Goa, Malvan, and Savantvadi Shenvis speak, though their speech has still traces of the Konkan twang.

They are a neat, clean, sober, hospitable, and orderly people. They are land-holders and occupy high position in Government service. They are a well-to-do class seldom in debt. They hold themselves equal to Deshastha, Konkanastha and Karhada Brahmans and have the same privileges as other Maratha Brahmans. Shenvi women are quiet, forbearing and hard-working. A rich man’s wife leads an easy life generally with a servant to do the heavy unpleasant parts of the housework. The wife of a poor Shenvi is always busy.

They are religious and worship all Hindu gods and goddesses. The shrines of their family-gods are chiefly in Goa. They are either Smarts or Bhagvats and their priests are Deshasth Brahmans. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts and go on pilgrimage to Alandi, Banaras, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. They have three religious teachers or swamis, two of them Bhagvats and the third a Smart. The sacraments or sanskars observed by Shenvis are puberty, pregnancy, birth, naming, first feeding, keeping of the top-knot, thread-girding, marriage, and death. Many of them are highly educated and follow intellectual professions.

Telangs: Telang Brahmans are found in Barshi, Pandharpur, and Sholapur. They do not always live in the district but come once every two or three years, gather money by begging, and go back to Telangan in the south. They have no sub-divisions, and the names of their family-stocks are Angiras, Bharadvaj, Kaundanya, Kashyap, Kaushik and Shrivatsa. Their surnames are Chalavaru, Chalbatavaru, Pidal-batalavaru, and Rantachantalavaru, and persons having either the same family-name or the same surname do not inter-marry. The names in common use among men are Govindanna, Rachaya, Ramaya, Ramanna and Shripatanna; and among women Kashibai, Mariamma and Shitamma. The men are dark, tall, and stout, and besmear their face and hair with cocoanut oil. Formerly a Telang Brahman was proverbially regarded as an unbidden guest. When a dinner was given to Brahmans, the Telangs came unasked, clamoured for a share, and if they got no share used to load the host with hearty curses. But these traits are no more in existence. Both men and women dress like Deshastha Brahmans. They are clean but idle and hot-tempered. They are beggars and some make and sell sacred threads. They are religious and are chiefly Smarts or followers of Shankaracharya, the apostle of the doctrine that the soul and the universe are one. They worship all Brahman gods and goddesses, and their family-gods are Jagadamba and Vyankoba whose shrines are in the Telangana country. They keep the ordinary fasts and feasts, and their priests belong to their own caste. They have great faith in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens, and lucky and unlucky days and consult oracles.

Tirguls: Tirguls are found over the whole district except in Karmala and Sangola. According to Sholapur Brahmans, apparently a play on the words tin gul or gol, Tirguls are those whose ancestors for three generations have been Golaks. The local history is that during the time of the Peshwas, Brahman widows and wives who were pregnant by men who were not their husbands were sent on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, to prevent them committing abortion and infanticide. The women lay in at Pandharpur and the infant with or without money presents was made over to any one who would take it. This is said to be the reason why so many Tirguls are found in and about Pandharpur. Their family-stocks are Angiras, Bharadvaj, Haritasya, Kashyap, Lohit and Shrivats, and their sub-stocks or pravars are Bhargav, Chavan, Jamadagni and Shrivatsa. They look and speak like Maratha Brahmans, are betel-vine growers, cultivators, grain dealers, money-lenders and changers, bankers and Government servants. Their house, food and dress do not differ from those of Maratha Brahmans. They are well-to-do but other Brahmans do not eat with them and look down on them because in growing the betel-vine they kill insects. They are either Smarts or Bhagvats and worship all Brahman gods and goddesses and keep the usual fasts and festivals. Their priests are Deshastha Brahmans. They go on pilgrimage to Alandi, Banaras, Nasik, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. Their customs are generally the same as Deshasths. They follow many professions to individual tastes and abilities. Among Tirguls, a lighted lamp is kept burning in the lying-in room for three months after child-birth. For the first ten days, the family-priest every evening repeats sacred verses at the mother’s house.

Vidurs: Vidurs are found only in Barshi and Sholapur. They are said to be illegitimate, born of a Brahman father and Maratha mother. They say they cannot tell when and whence they came into the district. The names of their family-stocks or gotras are Kashyap, Govardhan and Kaundanya, and their surnames are Degade, Devle, Londhe and Parmale. Persons whose surname and family-name are the same cannot inter-marry. They look like Deshastha Brahmans, and are healthy and strong. They speak a Marathi closely like that spoken by Marathas and cultivating Kunbis. Both men and women dress like Deshasth Brahmans, but, unlike all other Maratha Brahmans, their widows never shave their heads. They are hard-working, sober, thrifty and hospitable. They are land-holders and money-changers though most of them prefer service to other callings now-a-days. They are either Smarts or Bhagvats, worship all Brahman gods and goddesses and keep the usual fasts and festivals. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans. They go on pilgrimage to Alandi, Banaras, Jejuri, Nasik, Pandharpur and Tuljapur, and believe in sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, omens, lucky and unlucky days, and oracles.

Their customs from birth to death are the same as those of Deshasths. They are bound together by a strong caste-feeling and settle social disputes at meetings of the caste-men.

Kayastha Prabhus: Kayastha Prabhus are found over the whole district except in Malshiras. They claim to be Kshatriyas and to be descended from Chandrasen, an early king of Oudh. Some of their surnames are Randive, Tamhane and Vaidya. They are middle-sized, slightly built and fair, and their women are graceful. They speak Marathi and are clean, neat and hard-working. Most of them were writers in the past. They eat fish and flesh and drink liquor, occasionally. They worship all Brahmanic gods and goddesses, but so greatly prefer to worship goddesses that they are known as devibhaktas or goddess-worshippers. Their priests are Deshastha Brahmans and they keep the usual fasts and festivals. They go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Nasik and Pandharpur, and believe in witchcraft and soothsaying and consult oracles. They are very keen about educating their children, and occupy important positions in Government and private services. Inspite of their small numbers and the keen competition against Brahman and other classes whom they term intruders, they are decidedly well-to-do.

Mudliars: Mudliars, literally south-easters, also called Madrasis, are found in Barshi, Karmala and Sholapur. They are said to have come to the district from the former Madras Presidency in the middle of the last century in search of work. They are divided into Mudliars, Pilles and Telangs, who eat together but do not inter-marry. They have only two family-stocks or gotras Shiv and Vishnu, and families bearing the same stock-name cannot inter-marry. They have no surnames. The names in common use among men are Armu, Jagannath, Khamaya, Madhavrav, Narhariaya, Pulaya and Tandrav. The mode of writing their names is to write the initial letter of their native town, then the person’s name, his father’s name, and lastly the name of the sub-division or caste; thus Tanjor Madhavrav Jagannath Pille or T. M. Jagannath Pille, or simply T. Madhavrav. The women’s names are Bhagirthi, Ganga, Manakbai and Sonubai. They are very dark with regular features, and the men are rough and hardy. Their home-tongue is Telugu, but with others they speak Marathi or Hindustani.

They are hard-working, even-tempered, hospitable, thrifty, polite and orderly. Their women are not so neat or clean as the men. They are clerks and writers, contractors, money-lenders, land-holders letting fields to husbandmen on the crop-share system, tobacconists selling cigarettes and cheroots. They claim to be Vaishyas and take food from Brahmans. The Mudliars are religious. Their family-gods are Mahadev, Maruti, Ram, Vithoba and Vyankoba. Their priests are Dravidian or Telugu Brahmans who officiate at their houses and are greatly respected. They fast on Saturdays and the lunar elevenths or ekadashis and keep the ordinary Hindu fasts and festivals. Formerly they use to marry their girls between ten and sixteen and their boys between fifteen and twenty-five. The girl’s father had to find her a husband. When a boy was found, on a lucky day his parents with relations and friends went to the girl’s house and presented her with a robe, a bodice and ornaments. [For details of marriage ceremony and after-death rituals refer to former edition of Sholapur Gazetteer.]

Traders: Traders include nine classes, viz., Agarvals, Bhatias, Gujarat Vanis, Kashikapdis, Komtis, Lingayat Vanis, Lohanas, Marwad Vanis, Vaishya Vanis which are briefly described below:-

Agarvals: Agarvals are found in Barshi, Pandharpur and Sholapur. They believe they are called Agarvals because they make frankincense sticks or agarbattis, and think they came to Sholapur about three hundred seventy-five years ago from the neighbourhood of Agra and Delhi. They are divided into Dasa and Visa Agarvals who eat together but do not inter-marry. They have no surnames. The names in common use among men are Chandulal, Girdharlal, Motiram, Shankarlal, Shivdas and Vithallal; and among women Bhagirthi, Dwarka. Jasoda, Kashibai, Lakshmi and Munyabai. They are dark and stout and speak Marathi. Both men and women dress like Marathas and are hard-working, even-tempered, thrifty and hospitable, but neither clean nor neat. They are perfumers, selling scents, frankincense sticks, powders, and oils, and spices, butter, sugar, wheat, millet, rice or pulse flour, and cloth both country-made and European. Some are husbandmen whose women help them In the field. They worship all Brahman gods and goddesses, and their family-deities are Balaji of Giri, Bhavani of Tuljapur, and Kalika of Delhi. Their priests are Gaud Brahmans. Their fasts and festivals are the same as those of Marathas and they believe in sorcery, witchcraft and sooth-saying. Formerly a girl was married between three and twelve, and a boy between five and twenty-five. The boy’s father had to look for a wife for his son, and, when a girl was found, on a lucky day presented her with a robe and bodice and ornaments. [For details of marriage ceremony refer to the oldedition of Sholapur Gazetteer.] When a girl comes of age they hold her impure for four days, and on any lucky day within the first sixteen, the boy and girl are presented with new clothes, and seated near each other on low wooden stools. The girl’s lap is filled with grain and fruit, and the ceremony ends with a dinner to near relations. They burn the dead and mourn ten days, with almost the same rites as those of local Marathas. They are bound together by a strong caste-feeling.

Bhatias: Bhatias are found in Barshi and Sholapur. They have come from Kutch probably through Bombay since the beginning of British rule. They are stout and healthy and the men wear the top-knot and moustache. Their home-tongue is Gujarati and out-of-doors they speak Marathi. They are strict vegetarians, and among vegetables avoid onions and garlic, and spend much on caste-feasts. Both men and women keep to the Gujarat dress, the men wearing their peculiar double-peaked turban, and the women the petticoat, open-backed bodice, and upper scarf or odhni. They are sober, thrifty, hospitable, hard-working and well-to-do. They used only to sell tobacco, now they are traders, dealing in grain, oil, and butter, and also acting as money-changers and money-lenders. They are Vaishnavas, have images of their gods in their houses, and employ Gujarat Brahmans as priests. When seven years old, the boy is taken to the priest’s house and is there girt with the sacred thread. Their marriages are preceded by betrothals; they rub the boy and girl with turmeric at their houses, raise an earthen altar in the girl’s marriage booth, set earthen jars at its four corners, and pass a thread round them. A sacred fire is lit, and when the boy and girl have walked four times round the fire they are husband and wife. They bum their dead, the corpse-bearers being helped on the way by other mourners. They mourn ten days, on the eleventh day wheat-flour balls or pindas are offered to the deceased and thrown in a running stream. They feast Brahmans on the twelfth, and their caste-fellows on the thirteenth. They do not allow widow marriage and settle social disputes by a caste-council. They send their boys to school and are a wealthy rising class.

Gujarat Vanis: Gujarat Vanis are found over the whole district. They are believed to have come into the district within the last about two hundred and seventy-five years and are divided into Humbads, Khadaits. Lads, Mods, Nagars, Porvads and Shrimalis, each of which is again divided into Dasas and Visas. The main divisions neither eat together nor inter-marry, and the sub-divisions eat together but do not inter-marry. Their home-tongue is Gujarati, but most of them can speak pure Marathi like Brahmans. It is sometimes difficult cither from their look or their talk to tell a Gujarat Vani from a Maratha Brahman. They are clean, neat, sober, frugal and hard-working, and are shop-keepers, money-lenders, merchants and petty dealers. They marry their girls prematurely and, as they have to pay large sums to the girl’s parents, they do not marry their boys till they are about twenty-five. Widow marriage is forbidden. Their priests are Gujarat Brahmans and they have images of their gods in their houses. They are a well-to-do class.

Kashikapdis: Kashikapdis are found only in Barshi and Sholapur. They are wandering beggars and petty dealers of Telugu extraction but they cannot tell when and whence they came into the district. They have no sub-divisions. They speak Telugu among themselves and broken Marathi with others. They are dark, tall, and regular-featured, and their young women are pretty. They are religious, worshipping all Hindu gods and goddesses. Their priests are Telang Brahmans to whom they show great respect. Their family-deities are Balaji of Telangan, Bhavani and Durga. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and festivals and believe in witchcraft, sooth-saying and sorcery. They allow child and widow marriage and practise polygamy. They burn their dead and mourn ten days. They hold caste-councils, send their boys to school for a short time, and are a poor people.

Komtis: Komtis are found over the whole district except in Sangola. They are said to have come for trade purposes within the last about three hundred years or more from Karnatak, Penguthpattan and Telangan. They say they had once six hundred family-stocks or gotras but that the number has dwindled to one hundred and one. The story of the decline in the number of family-stocks is that once a low-caste king wished to marry a beautiful Komti girl, Kanika of the Labhshatti family. The girl refused his offer and the king sent an army to bring her by force. Kanika agreed to come but asked that she might worship her family-goddess. Her wish was granted. She bathed, kindled a great fire, walked round it several times, and threw herself in. Men of a hundred and one families, each after offering a fruit or a vegetable to Nagareshvar, the village-god, leaped after her into the fire. The 499 other families joined the king’s army and lost caste. The order in which the 101 devotees followed Kanika is preserved by the number of dough lamps which the members of the different family-stocks burn when they worship Kanika, and a trace of the offering of a flower or a vegetable to Nagareshvar remains in the rule under which the use of some one fruit or vegetable is forbidden to the members of each family. The one hundred and one families are known by the name of Yagginvandlus or the injured and the remaining four hundred and ninety-nine by the name of Yagganvandlus or the disgraced. A section of the 499, found in Madras but not in Sholapur, are known as Repakvandlus who eat fish and drink liquor. Of the one hundred and one family-stocks only eight are found in Sholapur, Buchankula, Chedkula, Dhankula, Gundkula, Masatkula, Midhankula, Pagadikula and Pedkula. The members of these family-stocks cat together but do not inter-marry. The Labhshattis, Kanika’s family, have died out. Their memory is said to be preserved in Labh the trader’s name for the first measure. The commonest names among men arc Bhumaya, Narayan, Narsaya, Sangaya, Viraya and Vithu; and among women Ganga and Vitha. Men add appa or aya that is father, and women amma or mother to their names. Komtis are tall and thin and proverbially black. The men wear the top-knot and moustache and sometimes whiskers but never the beard. Their home-tongue is Marathi though very few speak Telugu. They are vegetarians, and their staple food is millet, rice, pulse and vegetables. They are forbearing, sober, thrifty, even-tempered and orderly. Most of them are grocers, dealing in spices, salt, grain, butter, oil, molasses and sugar. They also trade in cotton, hemp and oil-seeds. They claim a higher position but rank with Vaishyas. They eat from Brahmans only, and say that they are Brahmans and have a right to perform the sixteen sacraments or sanskars according to the Vedas. Deccan Brahmans do not admit their claim and say they are shudras. The Komti trader rises early in the morning, opens his shop, and sits in it till late at night. Their family-deities are Balaji, Kanyakadevi, Nagareshvar, Narsoba, Rajeshvar and Virbhadra, all of whose chief shrines are in Telangan. All their ceremonies are conducted by Deshastha Brahmans. They keep the usual Brahmanic fasts and festivals and make pilgrimages to Banaras, Nasik, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. Those who have no Kanika jar in the house worship the god Virbhadra before beginning a marriage. Their religious guide or guru is the Shankaracharya Swami and Bhaskaracharya, a pupil of his, is also now acknowledged as guru. They have a separate teacher known as mokshguru. literally the sin-freeing teacher, who repeats verses to the penitent to ensure his salvation. The sin-freeing teacher is by caste either a Brahman or a Vaishya. If he is a Brahman, his disciples drink water in which his feet have been washed; if he is a Vaishya, he pours a few drops of the water in which his feet have been washed on a pinch of cowdung ashes or bhasma which they eat.

The family-god of some families is Nagareshvar or the city god, a form of Mahadev, who is found only in cities where there are Komtis of at least one hundred family-stocks. His chief shrine is in the valley of the Kaveri. Some Komti men wear the sacred thread, others wear the ling, and others wear both the ling and the thread. The ling is worn as a purifying or diksha rite. A Jangam or Lingayat priest cannot claim a ling-wearing Komti as a Lingayat. A ling-wearing father may ask a Jangam to invest his child with a ling immediately after birth, but this is done without any ceremony. The child can at any time give up wearing the ling. The son of a ling-wearing father is not bound to follow his father’s practice. Some Komtis assume the sacred thread without ceremony, even without calling a Brahman. A father can present his son with a sacred thread at any time before the boy’s wedding. When a Komti father girds his son with a sacred thread the boy goes begging, beginning at his sister’s house, and asking his first alms from his sister’s daughter. Before he leaves their house his sister and her husband pour water over the boy’s hands. Among Komtis a man must marry his sister’s daughter, however ugly or deformed she may be. So strict is the rule that if the sister is young the brother must wait until the sister gets a daughter and the daughter grows old enough to marry him. It sometimes happens that the parties do not agree, and a caste-meeting is called to settle the dispute. Under no circumstances can the girl be given away without the consent of the boy’s parents. Among Komtis, a woman pregnant with her first child is sent for her confinement to her parents’ house.

The thread-girding now forms part of the wedding. They say they used to have a separate thread-girding ceremony and gave it up because Of its costliness, as the rule was that all the boy made by begging had to be increased fourfold and given to the priests. Others say they gave up a separate thread ceremony because it was degrading for them as merchants to beg. According to a third account the thread-girding was given up because they rode on bullocks. The Brahmans said they must give up either the sacred thread-girding or the bullock-riding. They preferred to give up the sacred thread ceremony. Among Komtis girls were married formerly between seven and ten and always before they came of age; boys were married between ten and fifteen. The child’s marriage occupies the parents’ thoughts from its earliest days. In families who have a young daughter the women, in consultation with the men, fix on some boy as a good match for the girl and either the girl’s father or other near male relations are sent to the boy’s house to see if they are willing to take the girl in marriage. The girl’s relations do not go straight to the boy’s house. They go to a neighbour and make enquiries about the girl. If everything goes well, the engagement is fixed. [For details about the betrothal and marriage which are no more in vogue, refer to old Gazetteer of Sholapur.] In the past, the Komtis, like many other communities, used to have a very elaborate marriage ceremony with a lot of fanfare and ostentatious observances. The marriage ceremony was preceded by a number of rituals with minute details, and was followed by many religious as also frivolous practices. The ceremony proper was an occasion of rejoicing full of a number of trivial rituals, and many solemnities with some religious significance. The fanfare of the marriage used to continue over 3-4 days with some feasts from the boy’s as also the girl’s side. Many of these rituals and practices appear to be insipid and superfluous, if not ridiculous, in the present-day context. In the nature of things, many of them are either not in vogue or are gone through hurriedly.

The Komtis’ after-death rites and obsequies are quite elaborate. Cold water in which the tail of a cow or a silver miniature cow is dipped is dropped into the dying person’s mouth. After death the body is carried to the burial-ground, some rituals are performed and burnt on the pile containing cowdung cakes and firewood. The obsequies are gone through with solemnity. Most of these rituals vary from those of other castes only in details while the pattern is almost the same. A Brahman priest presides over the important after-death rites.

Lingayats: Lingayat Vanis are found all over the district but chiefly in Sholapur. They seem to have come into the district about two hundred and seventy-five years ago. According to the Nandikeshvar Puran, Basveshvar, the founder of the Lingayat sect, was born of a Brahman woman at Bagevadi in Kaladgi, and claiming divine inspiration, founded the Lingayat faith. He established his religion about the middle of the twelfth century at Kalyana and he, or rather one of his apostles, is said to have gone to Marwad, and brought back 1,96,000 converts from Marwad and spread them all over the Panch Dravid country or southern India. [In connection with this story it is worthy of note that Ujjain in Malwa is one of the five chief or lion seats of the Lingayats. At the same “time the story of converts brought from Marwad seems unlikely. Perhaps the foundation of the story was the conversion of local Jains who were afterwards confused with Marwadis as most modern Jains come from Marwad.] The earliest Sholapur settlements of these Marwadi converts arc said to have been at Kasegaon a village three miles to the south of Pandharpur, Mohol, and Malikpeth in Madha. These towns are now greatly declined and Kasegaon and Malikpeth arc in ruins. Their second great centre was Vairag in Barshi which remained a prosperous place until the railway centred trade at Sholapur. Their chief family-stocks or gotras are Bhringi, Nandi, Skanda, Vina and Vrishabha. They lay little count on family-stocks. Many people do not know their stock, and inter-marriage takes place among families belonging to the same gotra so long as the surname is different. The names in common use among men are Baslingappa, Chanbasappa, Gopalshet, Hariba, Kalappa, Krishnappa, Malkarjun, Maruti, Rajaram, Ramshet, Shivappa, Shivlingappa, Vishvanath and Vithoba; and among women Basava, Bhagirthi, Chandrabhaga, Janki, Kashibai, Lakshmi, Lingava, Malava, Rakhumai and Vithai. Their commonest surnames are Ainapure, Barge, Bodhke. Galakatu, Karanje, Kare, Korpe, Lokhande. Mahalshet, Rajmane, Samsher and Shilavant. The surnames have their rise in distinctions of trade, calling, residence, or any notable family event or exploit. Thus Galakatu, or cut-throat, arose from the fact that years ago some member of the family had his throat cut by highwaymen. Whatever their surnames, all Lingayat Vanis eat together but do not inter-marry. They are a dark, thin, and middle-sized people, healthy and long-lived. They can be easily known from other Hindus by the ash-mark on the brow and by the ling case which they wear. Most speak Marathi both at home and abroad, and some speak Kanarese at home.

Both men and women mark their brows with ashes, carry the ling in a small metal-box, or roll it in an ochre-coloured cloth, tied either in the headscarf, round the neck, round the upper left arm or right wrist, or hanging from the neck down to near the heart, or the navel. They are hard-working, sober, thrifty and hospitable, but hot-tempered, overbearing, and impatient. They term themselves Virshaivs, that is. fighting Shaivs. They greet one another with the words Sharanarth or I submit or prostrate. They are mostly traders dealing in grain, spices, salt, oil, butter, and molasses or sugar. They are cloth-sellers, bankers, money-lenders, brokers and husbandmen. Some act as brokers, a business which does not require capital unless the broker acts as shroff or money-changer, making purchases on account of orders from outside customers. As husbandmen some are over-holders but most take fields from others paying a certain yearly acre cash rent. They are a prosperous and well-to-do people and have considerable power over the local market. They eat from no one, not even from Brahmans.

Lingayat Vanis are a religious people and worship all Hindu gods and goddesses, calling them forms of Shiv. Their family-deities are Ambabai of Tuljapur, Banali and Danammai in Jat, Dhanai in the Konkan, Esai, Janai, and Jotiba of Kolhapur, Khandoba of Jejuri, Mahadev, Malikarjun near Vyankoba in Tirupati, Nesai, Rachoti-virbhadra in Giri, Revansiddheshvar in Sangli, Shakambari in Badami, Siddheshvar of Sholapur, Yallamma of Saundatti in Bijapur, Vyankoba and Virbhadra, to all which places they go on pilgrimage. Their worship is the same as that of Brahmanic Hindus except that they offer their gods neither red flowers nor kevda (Pandanus odorutissimus)Their family-priest is a jangam of the rank of a mathapati or beadle. He is the general manager of all their ceremonies. A strict Lingayat Vani does not respect Brahmans and never calls them to conduct his weddings so long as he can find a jangam to conduct them. Still in practice they tolerate Brahmans, and, after the jangam is done, allow a Brahman to repeat verses and throw grains of red rice or mantra-kshada over the boy and girl. The only use they make of a Brahman is in finding out lucky days for the performance of ceremonies, and also on the day when turmeric is rubbed on the boy and girl on which occasion he chooses women to rub the turmeric. A Lingayat has no horoscope based on the time of his birth, but of late jangams have learned enough to act the astrologer’s part and thus the occasions on which Brahmans are needed are becoming fewer. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and festivals, and believe in sorcery, witchcraft, soothsaying, omens, lucky and unlucky days, and oracles.

Formerly Lingayats used to marry their girls between eight and sixteen, and their boys between twelve and twenty-five. The magni or public asking is an important marriage observance. On a lucky day the boy’s kinspeople, with a Lingayat beadle or mathapati go to the girl’s and present her with a robe, bodice and ornaments. The girl’s mother is presented with another robe and bodice and five of her kinswomen with bodices. The girl’s lap is filled with five pounds of rice, five dry dates, turmeric roots, betelnuts, plantains, five half-dry cocoa-kernels, and a cocoanut. A dinner and a service of betel packets closes the day. Next day the girl’s kinspeople and friends go to the boy’s and present him with a turban, and, if well-to-do, with robes and bodices for the boy’s mother and kinswomen. The day closes with a dinner. This ceremony is not performed if the boy and the girl belong to the same village. A marriage generally takes place within a couple of years of the asking, and on any day in Magh or January-February, Phalgun or February-March, Vaishakh or April-May, Jyeshth or May-June, Kartik or October-November, and Margashirsh or November-December.

A marriage always takes place in the evening or at any time of the night, never after day-break or before lamplight. The marriage time is fixed either by a jangam or by the village Brahman astrologer. On the marriage day the boy is seated on horse or bullock back, and is taken in procession to the village temple of the god Maruti with a party of kinspeople and friends with music. A marriage ornament is tied to the boy’s brow. He is met by the girl’s relations and the two parties throw red and scented powders on each other and are led to the girl’s house. At the girl’s a woman of her family waves a cake and water round the boy’s head and throws the cake on one side to satisfy evil spirits. In the booth is raised an earthen altar covered with a rich carpet on which the jangam sits the boy. Near the jangam are laid two trays, one from the girl’s house containing a waist and shouldercloth and a turban, the other from the boy’s with a robe, a bodice, and ornaments for the girl. The jangam touches the hems of the different clothes with red powder and gives them to the boy and the girl. The girl walks with them into the house and comes back dressed in them, and the boy puts them on in the booth. The jangam or the village Brahman fills the girl’s lap with grains of rice and with fruit and both take their seats as before facing the jangam. One end of a piece of five strands of gray cotton thread is held by the jangam under his feet and the other end by the boy with both his hands, and the boy’s hands are held by the girl with both her hands. An enclosure is formed with a sheet in which are the jangam and the boy and the girl. The hems of the couple’s garments are knotted together and the mathapati repeats verses over their joined hands, pours a little water over them, with ashes. He throws sandal, grains of rice and flowers over them, burns incense, camphor and a lamp before them, and puts a little sugar into the boy’s and the girl’s mouths. He repeats verses, and, at the end, throws grains of rice over their heads, pulls the threads from their hands, throws them on the ground, and orders the curtain to be pulled aside. The couple now turn their faces towards the guests, and the Brahmans repeat marriage verses or mangalashtakas and at the end throw rice over the boy’s and the girl’s heads and the musicians play. Money is given to jangams and Brahmans and the guests retire each with a packet of betelnut and leaves. The ceremony of giving away the bride or dharghalne is now performed. The hems of the boy’s and the girl’s clothes are knotted together, and the father taking in his hands a metal pot of red water and the mother a plate, sit in front of the boy and girl. The girl’s mother holds the boy’s feet in both her hands over the plate, the father pours water over them from the pot, and the mother rubs them with both her hands and wipes them dry. The pot and the plate are now the property of the boy and the ceremony is over. The boy’s father presents the girl’s mother with a robe and bodice and her father with a turban and shouldercloth. The ceremony of sheshbharne comes next when women by turns draw near the couple, and each standing in front of them with both hands throws pinches of coloured rice over the boy’s and girl’s knees, thighs, shoulders and heads. Some in addition wave a copper coin over the couple’s heads and give the coin to a jangam. The couple are now taken before the house-gods, make a low bow to them, and retire. Then as a sign of friendliness and good feeling they perform the bhum or earth offering ceremony, when a large tray filled with various dishes is set in the middle and the boy and girl and their kinsmen sit round it and take a few morsels. Sometimes the men merely touch the tray with their fingers and give the food to children to cat. On the third day comes the rukhvat or boy’s feast when the girl’s kinswomen take several cooked dishes to the boy’s on the heads of servants, empty them, and return with the empty pots and baskets. The boy and girl rub one another’s body with turmeric powder and wash one another with warm water. They then play games of odds and evens with betelnuts and bite off rolls of betel-leaves from one another’s mouths. Either on the fourth or the fifth evening the boy’s relations are asked to dine at the girl’s. On their way cloths arc spread for them to walk on. The girl’s relations carry with them a large jar filled with water, a dish, and strings of onions, and carrots, rags, old brooms, and a broken piece of a white-washed jar. At times on the way the boy’s mother takes offence and refuses to go further. A wooden stool is set in the street and she is seated on it and the girl’s mother washes her feet, gives her clothes, and asks her to walk on. On the way one of the party takes one of the pieces of the white-washed earthen jar and asks the boy’s mother to look at her face in the looking-glass. Some hold old brooms over her head, and hang strings of onions, carrots and rags round her neck. When they reach the girl’s house, the women are bathed, new glass bangles are put round their wrists, or, if they are well-to-do, they are presented with robes and bodices. Next day comes the robe or sada ceremony when the boy’s relations and friends go with music to the girl’s house and present her with a new robe and bodice. The girl’s parents present the boy with a new waistcloth and turban and the pair dress in the new clothes. Either the jangam or the Brahman priest fills the girl’s lap with grains of rice and the boy and girl are seated on a horse or bullock or in a palanquin and with kinsfolk and music go in procession to the boy’s. At the boy’s they are seated on low wooden stools, and the boy’s mother, approaching the girl with a wooden rolling-pin wound in a bodice-cloth and smeared with red powder, calls it a child and lays it in the girl’s lap. The girl asks the boy to take it saying she is going to look after the house. She then looks to her father and mother-in-law and husband and says she must have good clothes for her child, and putting the bodiced rolling-pin into her husband’s hands, says she is going to sweep the house. After this the boy’s parents present the girl’s parents with clothes and one of the boy’s relations, taking a winnowing fan or a basket, beats it with a stick crying: The wedding is over. It is time the. guests were taking their leave.

Lingayat Vanis allow widows and divorced women to marry. For a widow’s marriage the widow s consent is necessary and for a divorced woman’s marriage both her and her husband’s consent is wanted. If a man wishes to marry a divorced woman, he applies to the headman of the caste who is called Shetya, who summons both the women and her husband, and, in the presence of some of the caste-men, asks them whether they are willing to separate. If the husband is willing he gives his consent in writing. Then on a dark night the man goes to the woman’s with a few friends among them perhaps a widow or two, as no married woman attends these marriages.

For her first confinement a young wife goes to her parents. When the child is born, its navel cord is cut by a Lingayat midwife. They name their children on the twelfth day after child-birth. The ling-girding or lingdharna takes place on the fifth day after a child’s birth. In a ling-girding, the mathapati or beadle, the sthavar resident, the deshantari, the math ganacharya or manager, and the guru or teacher should take part. But as the Lingayat Vanis cannot keep up all these priests the mathapati or beadle and the deshantari or head of a religious house serve the purpose. On the morning of the fifth the whole house is cowdunged, and the mother’s bedding and clothes are washed. The mathapati and deshantari bring a ling, and, after rubbing it with a mixture of molasses and cement, place it in a metal plate, and bathe it first with the five nectars or panchamrits (milk, curds, honey, sugar and butter and again with the five cow gifts or panchgavya (urine, dung, curds, milk and butter), then with water, again with lime and sugar, and once more with water. It is marked with sandalpaste, rice, tulsi leaves and flowers are laid on it, camphor and frankincense are waved round it, a few drops of water in which a deshantari’s feet have been washed are poured over it, and a mixture of sugar, sugarcandy, dates, cocoa-kernel, almonds, and dry grapes arc laid before it. The ling is folded in a piece of white cloth and tied round the child’s neck.

When a Lingayat Vani is on the point of death money is distributed among jangams. After death the body is bathed in cold water, wiped dry, and rubbed with ashes. Earth is heaped in the veranda into a raised seat and the dead is seated on it leaning against the wall, with his head tied to a string hung from a peg in the wall or the ceiling. The body is dressed in its every-day clothes, and the mathapati, sitting in front of it, lays sandal-paste, flowers and burnt frankincense before it, and the ling which hangs from the neck. Over the body and the ling the mathapati throws bel leaves, flowers, sandal, water, and ashes, and burns incense and camphor before them. Then with a low bow, the mathapati gives the jangams who are present, pieces of cloth about a foot and a half square to the end of which are tied bel leaves, ashes, and a couple of camphor. The mathapati then calls forward four men from among the mourners and rubs them with ashes as a sign that they are to lift the body. If the family is well-to-do, the body is carried in bamboo frame, if poor it is carried in a blanket slung from two bamboos, and the head is held behind, by the chief mourner. In front of the body musicians play and a jangam blows the conch-shell. Behind the body walk the male mourners and after them the female mourners, all repeating Har Har, Shiv Shiv. When they reach the outskirts of the village, the bearers change places those behind going in front and those in front coming behind. Then the body is borne to the burial-ground. A grave is dug and in the grave a second hole five pands or the dead man’s five feet long broad and deep, and in front of it, facing either east or north, a niche is dug three and a half feet deep and four square with an arched top. The whole is either cowdunged or white-washed and the dust of the jangam’s feet is thrown into it. The body is seated in the hole, and, except the loin-cloth, all the clothes are stripped off. The mathapati takes the ling worn by the deceased, lays it on the dead man’s left hand, and places the palm on the left thigh. He then lays before the body rice, flowers, sandal, and ashes, and round it waves burning incense and camphor. The ling is tied with a string to the hand and it is lifted up and laid in the niche in front. Bel leaves, cowdung ashes, salt, and earth are thrown in, and, when the earth is filled as high as the face, a piece of gold is laid in the mouth and the chief mourner, touching the lips with water, strikes his mouth, and covers the mouth with a cloth. The hole is filled with earth and stones, and a small mound of earth and stone is raised over it. The mourners go to the river or stream and wash their hands and feet, the chief mourner gives each of the jangams present a copper, and all go to the mourner’s house. The spot where the dead breathed his last is cowdunged and a pot of water and ashes are set on it, and each mourner drawing near to it takes a little ash, rubs it on his brow, and goes home. The Lingayats keep no mourning except that a few of the nearest relations and friends send the family presents of cooked dishes. On the third day the chief mourner, jangams, and the four corpse-bearers go to the burial-ground, pour a little milk and butter on the grave, return to the deceased’s house, and dine. Money presents are made to the jangams and the deceased’s clothes and other personal effects are made over to the mathapati or to the deceased’s guru.

Lingayat Vanis are bound together as a body and settle social disputes at meetings of the Shetya, the mathapati, and the caste-men. If the chief guru is present he presides. The Shetya is the most influential hereditary headman. He had formerly privileges and rights equal to those of a police patil. What a patil is to a village a Shetya is to the Lingayat peth or ward of a town. The chief offences to punish which meetings are called are eating fish and flesh, drinking liquor, drinking water with people who are not Lingayats, and cohabiting with a woman who is not a Lingayat. The minor offences are many as they are most strict in observing the rules of their faith. Caste-meetings are held in religious houses or maths. The power of caste shows no signs of failing.

Marwad Vanis: Marwad Vanis are found in all the towns and leading villages in the district. They are tall, dark, hardy, and vigorous with sharp eyes and hollow cheeks. The men shave the head leaving three patches of hair, a top-knot, and a lock over each ear. All wear the moustache, and some whiskers and beards dividing the beard down the chin. They speak Marwadi among themselves and an incorrect Marathi with others. They worship Parshvanath and their priests are Marwadi Brahmans. Social disputes are settled at caste-meetings. They have betrothals and marry their girls before they come of age. Eight days before marriage, each at their own house, the boy and girl are seated on a horse, dressed in rich clothes, and paraded through the town with music and party of kinspeople. This is called the horse parade or ghoda miravni. They do not allow widow-marriage. They teach their boys first at home, and then send them to school to learn Marathi and to cast accounts. They are a well-to-do class.

Vaishya Vanis: Vaishya Vanis are found mostly in Barshi, Madha and Sholapur. They are rather tall, thin and dark; the men wear the moustache and top-knot. Their women are fair but not good-looking. Their home-speech is Marathi. They eat fish and flesh and drink liquor. They are hard-working and thrifty, but not enterprising. They are husbandmen, traders and petty shop-keepers. They worship the usual Hindu gods, have images in their houses, and keep all the Hindu fasts and feasts. Their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans generally Deshasths. Their social disputes are settled at caste-meetings. They send their boys to school for a short time and are in easy circumstances.

Husbandmen: Hatkars: Hatkars are an agriculturist class found over the whole district. They say they came from Bijapur. Their surnames are Bhusvar, Jarvar, Karvar, Sadgar and Yarngar, who eat together and inter-marry except with families bearing the same surname. They speak Marathi and eat the flesh of goats, sheep, hare and deer. The women do not eat fish or flesh, and men who have eaten flesh are held impure and are not touched till the next morning. In house and dress they do not differ from Marathas. They are land-holders, potters, messengers, house servants, shepherds, and a few money-changers. Their family-deities are Bhavani, Durga, Khandoba, and Sidoba, and their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans. Their women are impure for twelve days after child-birth, they worship Satvai on the fifth, and name girls on the twelfth and boys on the thirteenth. They cut the child’s hair any time between its first and its fourteenth years. The. hair-cutting is later with them than with other castes, as before cutting the hair they have to offer seven sheep to seven different Satvais and hold feasts. They have betrothals. Except that they tie two marriage ornaments one over the other on the boy’s and girl’s brows, their marriage ceremonies do not differ from those of Marathas. Their marriage guardians are the panch palvis or five tree-leaves in whose honour they feast five married women, seven in honour of the goddess Satvai, five in honour of Jukerya, the water goddess, seven in honour of the goddess Ashar. and three in honour of Gadjivan. They either bury or burn the dead. The chief mourner shaves his moustache on the thirteenth day after death and feasts his caste. They have two headmen, each of: whom they term gauda, the Kanarese term for headman. They send their boys to school and are steady people.

Maratha Kunbis: Marathas are found over the whole district. According to local accounts the Marathas came to Sholapur from Karad, Satara, and the western Deccan after the great Durgadevi famine at the close of the fourteenth century. After their coming they are said to have degenerated into Kunbis. A Maratha proper keeps no spinning wheel or bell-metal pot in his house, and allows no widow-marriage. A Kunbi allows widow-marriage and keeps the wheel and the quilt, and eats, and drinks from bell-metal vessels. The Marathas and Kunbis eat together but do not inter-marry. Maratha Kunbis vary greatly in appearance. Some of the gentry, the village headmen, and other large land-holders are strongly built, occasionally fair with good features and a martial air. The bulk of the caste, though as a rule stalwart and well-made, are dark and coarse-featured hardly to be distinguished from Dhangars and Mahars. All the men wear the top-knot and among the Kunbis some wear ear-tufts. Marathas, both at home and abroad, speak a somewhat coarsely and broadly pronounced Marathi. Rich Marathas live in houses of the better sort generally one-storey high with mud walls and flat or tiled roofs. Of the old mud-walled forts or gadhis, which, in the hands of the Maratha gentry or deshmukhs, sometimes held out against an army, examples remain in Kasegaon, Gurhal and Mohol. The furniture in Maratha houses includes metal and earthen vessels, bedsteads, and field tools. Most of them have cattle and ponies but few keep house servants. Kunbis generally live in untidy, ill-cared-for mud-walled flat-roofed houses. Their staple food includes millet, pulse and vegetables. They eat the flesh of sheep, goats, hare, deer, fowls, the wild hog, and eggs. They are great eaters. Their holiday dishes include wheat and gram cakes fried in oil, wheat cakes, vegetables, fowls, and mutton and liquor. Animal food is too dear to be often used. Those who have become varkaris or keepers of holy times profess to leave off fish, flesh and liquor. Traditionally Maratha men dress in a loincloth, a waistcloth, or a pair of short drawers reaching the knee. The well-to-do use silk-bordered waistcloths and gaily dyed tight-fitting well-folded Maratha turbans. Their women wear the backed short-sleeved bodice and the full robe with or without passing the skirt back between the feet. When going out women of the higher Maratha families cover themselves from head to foot with a broad white sheet which prevents any part of the body being seen. This is commonly known as the Maratha mola or Maratha practice. There is however a conspicuous change in their dress ensemblance with the increase in number of school and college going boys and girls. They do not work out-of-doors, the water being brought home by servants or by the men of the house. An upper class Maratha woman on no account shows her face before strangers. The wives of Kunbis work in the fields and appear with their faces uncovered in public. Women wear glass bracelets, and pearl, gold and silver nose, ear, neck, hand and foot ornaments, as well as the black glass bead necklace, the mangalsutra or lucky thread. They are hard-working, hospitable, and frugal in ordinary life, but wanting in forethought and extravagant on great occasions. Most are husbandmen. Of the husbandmen many are land-holders, many under-holders, and many field labourers with no interest in the crop beyond their wages. The women help the men in the field. Well-to-do Marathas claim connection with the old Maratha aristocracy and consider themselves Rajputs and Kshatriyas, claim to rank immediately after Brahmans, and say they eat from Brahmans only. The Kunbis consider themselves Shudras and eat from Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. They worship Jotiba near Ratnagiri, Khandoba of Jejuri, Mahadev of Singnapur, and Vithoba of Pandharpur. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans. They go on pilgrimage to Pandharpur, Tuljapur, and sometimes to Banaras. Within the last about 100 years the worship of Vithoba of Pandharpur has greatly risen in favour. The Varkari sect which holds the Pandharpur Vithoba in high veneration has gained good ground in the district. The followers of this sect are known by wearing a necklace of tulsi beads. Those that are not varkaris worship local deities.

The Maratha holidays are the same as those of other Hindus. The husbandman’s chief holiday is the Pola or Ox Day, which falls on the last day of Shravana in July-August. In Malshiras the Ox Day is known as Bendur and falls on the last day of Bhadrapada or August-September. On Ox Day the Marathas deck their bullocks and feed them on sweetmeats. At births, among the well-to-do, betel packets are distributed among kins-people and friends. After child-birth a Kunbi woman is held impure for ten days during which neither is she touched nor are her house-gods worshipped. On the fifth evening, to the grind-stone or pata, fruit, cakes and sweetmeats are offered. A sword or a common house knife or vila is laid near the grind-stone and a dry millet stump which they call an arrow or tir. The goddess Satvai is believed to come on that night to guard the mother and her infant from evil. A blank sheet of paper, a pen and an ink-pot are set near the stone to enable her to write the child’s destiny. They name their girls on the twelfth and their boys on the thirteenth. On the naming day, kins-women and friends are called, and present the child with new clothes, and cradle, and name the child, the name being chosen by the village astrologer. The guests retire with a handful of wet gram or wheat. A year after, on a lucky day, the child if it is a boy is seated on its maternal uncle’s lap and its hair is clipped.

Before a marriage can be fixed, the boy’s father must ascertain that the boy and girl are not of the same clan, have different surnames, and have a different devak, that is, guardian or crest. The Kunbi marriage is preceded by a betrothal. The marriage may take place immediately after the betrothal and in no case should more than a year pass between the two. On the betrothal day the boy’s relations bring a bodice, a robe and an ornament or two to the girl’s house and present them to her. The village astrologer is asked to fix a lucky day for marrying the boy and girl, and at their houses the boy and girl are rubbed with turmeric first by the village washerwoman and then by five married women. On the marriage morning the guardian or devak is brought and tied to a post in the marriage porch. In the evening the boy is taken to the girl’s in procession on bullock or horse back with music and a band of kins-people. At the girl’s the boy and girl are made to stand on a blanket facing each other and a cloth is held between them. While the priest repeats verses one of the party goes on the roof of the house or mounts a tree to see the sun go down. When the sun is set the verses cease, the cloth held between the boy and girl is pulled on one side, and they are husband and wife. Cotton thread is passed ten times round the boy and girl, and the threads are cut in two and tied round the wrists of the boy and girl. Next comes the girl-giving or kanyadan when butter is poured over the hands of the boy and girl. The girl’s parents wash the boy’s feet in a metal plate with water and the ceremony is over. Marathas allow widow marriage but hold the ceremony only on dark nights. No married woman or girl attends the ceremony and the faces of the newly-married couple are not seen for a couple of days.

Marathas, as a rule, burn their dead, and the Kunbis either burn or bury. The dead body is washed, laid on a bier, and red powder and betel leaves are thrown over it. The chief mourner walks before the body, carrying a fire-pot hanging from a string. They mourn ten days and offer a rice-flour ball on the eleventh. They feast bearers and kins-people on the twelfth and thirteenth. Formerly they were bound together by a strong caste-feeling, and settled social disputes at caste-meetings under the village patil or headman. But of late the forces of modern education have weakened the feeling of caste cohesion. There is considerable improvement in the standard of their education. Many of them are found to occupy high position in services as also in political fields. They suffered severely during the 1876-77 famine, and though they have since improved considerably they are still as a class poor.

Malis: Malis or gardeners are found over the whole district. They are divided into Khirsagar Malis and Rant Malis. Their home-tongue is Marathi, and they look and dress like cultivating Marathas except that the women in the past used to wear shoes like men’s shoes. Their houses do not differ from Kunbi houses. They eat fish and flesh. Malis are a hard-working, orderly and contented people. They earn their living as husbandmen, gardeners and labourers, and their women and children help in selling vegetables and flowers. With the availability of irrigation facilities the Malis have progressed economically, and have immensely been benefited by sugarcane cultivation. They have concurrently gained in their social and political status. They worship Ambai, Bhavani, Janai, Khandoba, Mahadev, Tukai and Vithoba; and their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans to whom they pay great respect. Except that at the marriage time their boys and girls are rubbed with turmeric at their house by washerwomen, their customs are the same as those of Marathas. They either bury or burn their dead, hold caste-councils, send their boys to school, and are a steady class.

Craftsmen: Craftsmen include about thirty classes, viz., Khatris, Koshtis, Kumbhars, Lakheris, Lohars, Lonaris, Niralis. Otaris. Panchals, Patharvats, Patvekars, Rangaris, Rauls, Saltangars, Salis, Sangars, Sonars, Sutars, Shimpis, Tambats, Tambolis and Telis. These are briefly described below:-

Beldars: Beldars or quarrymen are found in Barshi, Karmala, Sangola and Sholapur. They are strong and dark and the men wear the moustache and top-knot. They speak Marathi. They are stonecutters and brick-layers, digging wells, blasting rocks, and breaking stones. Their houses are alike those of cultivating Marathas. The men wear the loincloth, waistcloth, and short tight trousers or cholnas, the jacket, and the Maratha turban; and the women dress in the ordinary Maratha robe and bodice and do not tuck the end of the robe back between the feet. They eat fish and flesh and drink liquor. They are hard-working, orderly and hospitable but fond of drink. They have caste-councils, do not send their boys to school, and are a steady people earning enough to maintain themselves.

Bhadbhunjas: Bhadbhunjas or grain parchers are found in the Sholapur town. They are divided into Marathas and Pardeshis. The following particulars apply to the Maratha Bhadbhunjas. Their surnames are Gaikavad, Jadhav, Povar and Shinde, who eat together and families with the same surname do not inter-marry. They look like Marathas, speak Marathi, and live in houses the same as Maratha houses except for the furnace or bhatti and a shop in the veranda. In dress and food they resemble Marathas, eating fish, fowls, and the flesh of the hare, deer and wild hog. They arc an orderly, sober, hard-working and even-tempered people. In religion, customs, and community they are the same as Marathas. They send their boys to school and are a poor people.

Buruds: Buruds or bamboo-workers are found in towns and large villages. According to their own account they arc descended from Kenshuka, whose father’s name was Bhivar and his mother’s Kuvinta, and they are said to have come into the district five or six generations back. They are dark and strong and the men wear the top-knot and moustaches. They speak Marathi both at home and abroad, and live in untidy and ill-cared-for grass huts or houses of stone and mud with flat or tiled roofs. The dress of the men and women is the same as live Mahar’s dress. They are hard-working, patient, and forbearing, but intemperate and impulsive. They make bamboo baskets, mats, winnowing fans, and sieves, and a few make cane chairs and cots. In Pandharpur they find good employment in making fine bamboo sticks for the use of frankincense stick preparers. They belong to no particular sect, and worship all Hindu gods and goddesses, chiefly Ambabai, Jotiba, Khandoba and Satvai. Their priests are village Brahmans and they have no priests belonging totheir own caste. They keep all Hindu lasts and feasts and believe in sorcery and witchcraft. Except that their guardian or devak is the mango-tree, branches of which are brought home and tied to the marriage hall, and that the boy and girl are married on the earthen altar or ota, their marriage and funeral ceremonies are the same as those of Mahars and Mangs. They generally bury their dead. They allow widow marriage making over the first husband’s children to his relations. They have a caste-council, and their headman, who is called mhetrya, decides social disputes in consultation with a few leading members of the caste. The fine generally takes the form of a caste-feast. They do not send their boys to school, and as their calling is not well paid, many have turned varkaris or Pandharpur holy time keepers and go about begging.

Chambhars: Chambhars or leather-workers are found all over the district. Their surnames are Dhodke, Kamble and Vaghmare. Families with the same surname eat together but do not inter-marry. They are generally rather fair with regular features and the men wear the top-knot and moustache, and a few the whiskers. They speak Marathi. They are hospitable and forbearing, but fond of drink, and proverbially lazy. They work in leather, cut and dye skins, make sandals, shoes and water-bags, and till the ground. The women help the men in drawing silk flowers and making silk borders to the shoes. They worship the ordinary Hindu gods and goddesses, and have house images of Bahiri, Jotiba, Khandoba and Mhasoba. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts, and their priests are village Brahmans to whom they pay the greatest respect. The poor bury the dead and those who can afford it burn them. They allow widow marriage, the widower during the ceremony being seated on bullock harness and the widow on a low wooden stool. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes in presence of the headman. Formerly they did not send their boys to school but now-a-days there is considerable expansion of education among them.

Gavandis: Gavandis or masons are found all over the district. They are divided into Jingars, Jires, Kamathis, Marathas, Panchals and Sagars. A few Brahmans also work as masons. Of these, Jingars, Kamathis and Brahmans are found in very small numbers in the district, and Panchals are rare.

Jire Gavandis: Jire Gavandis are found only in Pandharpur and Sholapur. They are called Jires after their headman’s surname who was the Bijapur kings’ builder. They are said to have been Maratha husbandmen who were put out of caste because they refused to pay a fine which their caste-fellows levied on them for building mosques for the Adilshahi kings (1490-1686) at Bijapur. They say Marathas are willing to let them back, but that they do not wish to go back, because the Marathas have lately taken to eating, and in out-of-the-way places, marrying with Telis and Sangars. The Jires and Marathas eat together, and their married women or savashins attend feasts at one another’s houses. They have Kadus or bastards among them, with whom they eat but do not inter-marry. The Jire surnames are Kamle, Pavar, Salunke and Surve, and families having the same surname do not inter-marry. The names in common use among men are Apa, Balvanta, Ganpati and Rama; and among women Elubai, Ittai, Rakhumai and Subai. All belong to the sun family called Surygotra or Surugotra. Neither men nor women differ from cultivating Marathas in look, speech, house, dress or food. They eat fish and the flesh of goats, sheep, rabbits, hare, and fowls and their staple food is bajri, tur, jvari, milk, and every two or three days rice.

The Jires are hard-working, even-tempered, sober, thrifty, hospitable, contented and orderly. They are masons and husbandmen and their women mind the house. Their family-deities are Bhavani of Tuljapur, Jakhai and Jokhai, and Khandoba of Jejuri. They also worship all Brahmanical gods and goddesses, and keep the regular fasts and feasts. Their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans before whom they bow and whom they worship as gods. Their gurus or religious teachers are either Gosavis or Brahmans. When a child or a grown person is initiated the teacher whispers into his right ear a sacred verse. A year or two after marriage they generally go and seek the advice of the teacher. Before a marriage can be fixed, the parties must ascertain that the boy and girl have different surnames and have not the same guardian or devak. When the Brahman has fixed a lucky evening for the wedding, word is sent to the girl’s parents, and the boy’s father sends invitations to relations and friends. Marriage booths are built at both houses. Except that an altar is built at the girl’s, the preparations at both houses are the same. The marriage ceremony does not differ much from that of the Kunbis except for trivial formalities. Traditionally the Jires allow widow marriage and polygamy, though the latter custom is now banned by law. Their rituals pertaining to child-birth as also obsequies differ from the Kunbi gentry only in minor details. The power of caste has of late grown weak. The Jires can read and write Marathi both Balbodh and Modi, and keep their boys for long at schools. They are a steady and contented, if not a rising, class.

Sagar Gavandis: Sagar Gavandis claim to have come from Banaras in search of work to the Nizam’s Hyderabad. Their caste-fellows are found near Hyderabad, some of them wearing sacred threads and dining in silk waistcloths. They occasionally come on pilgrimage from Hyderabad to Pandharpur when they dine with the Sholapur Sagars, but not unless the local Sagars dress in a silk or in a fresh washed waistcloth. They are said to have come into the district about three hundred and seventy-five years ago, and are divided into Sagars proper and Lekavlas or Kadus, that is, bastard Sagars who eat together but do not inter-marry. The names in common use among them are Govind. Nagu, Narayan and Narsu; and among women Bhagirthi, Kashi, Yamuna and Yashvada. Their surnames are Gadpate, Kalburge, Kasle and Name; and families bearing the same surnames do not inter-marry. All belong to the Kashyap family-stock. Both men and women look like and dress like Maratha husbandmen. They eat fish and the flesh of sheep, goats, hare, rabbits and fowls, and their staple food is jvari, tur, bajri, and occasionally rice and wheat bread. Formerly all ate flesh whenever they could afford it without offering it to the gods. Many of them keep to the old practice, but some who have become varkaris or Pandharpur devotees, offer no sheep, goats or fowls, have given up eating flesh and drinking liquor, and have taken to wear anecklace of tulsi beads. The women wear the nose-ring, ear-rings, neck ornaments, bangles and toe-rings. Men wear a gold neckchain and finger rings, and boys up to fifteen wear wristlets. They are hard-working, even-tempered, sober, thrifty, hospitable and orderly. Besides by stone-cutting and house building some earn their living ashusbandmen and some as labourers. Sagars claim Kshatriya descent though they admit they have fallen in social ranking. They eat with Marathas, Dhangars and Lingayat Vanis, but not with Lingayat Telis, Panchals, Jingars, Sonars, Kasars or low caste Hindus like Buruds, Mahars and Mangs. They are a religious people and worship Hindu gods and goddesses as well as Musalman saints and the tabuts or Muharram biers. Their family-deities are Balaji of Giri or Tirupati. Bhavani of Tuljapur, Jotiba of Ratnagiri, Khandoba of Jejuri, and Yallama of the Karnatak to whom they sometimes go to pay vows. Their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans to whom they show the greatest respect. The gurus or teachers of some are Ramanujas and of others Shankaracharya. They are either Smarts or Vaishnavs and keep the usual Brahmanic fasts and feasts. They believe in sorcery, witchcraft and sooth-saying. Formerly they used to marry their girls between seven and twelve, and their boys between twelve and twenty-five. Sagar Gavandis are bound together by a strong caste-feeling. They have no headman, and settle social disputes at meetings of men of their own castes. The spread of English law and of lawyers has weakened the power of caste, and the people are afraid to enforce their rules by the old penalties. The Sagars have realised the necessity of educating the children. They are a steady class.

Ghisadis: Ghisadis or tinkers are found wandering over the whole district. They are said to have originally passed from Gujarat to Hyderabad and from Hyderabad, about five hundred years ago, to Sholapur in search of work. Their commonest surnames are Chavan, Kate, Khetri, Padval, Pavar, Shelar, Solanke and Suryavanshi, who eat together and inter-marry. They are said to have sprung from Vishvakarma, the framer of the universe, who brought out of fire the airan or anvil, the bhata or bellows, the sandas or tongs, the ghan or hammer, and the hatodi or small hammer. He taught the Ghisadis how to make the sudarshan chakra or Vishnu’s discus, ban or arrow, trishul or trident, nal or horse-shoe, khadg or sword, and rath or war chariot. When these were prepared and approved by their master the caste came to be called Ghisadis and were told to make various tools and weapons of war. They are strong, dark, ditty, hot-tempered and hard-working. They speak a mixture of Gujarati and Marathi. They are wandering blacksmiths and tinkers. They have abetrothal ceremony which is performed one to five years before marriage. On the betrothal day, with kins-people and music, the girl is taken to the boy’s house, is presented with new clothes and a full set of ornaments, is feasted and is sent back. The boy’s father has to pay in cash to the girl’s father. If the boy’s father tails to pay the stipulated amount, the girl is offered to another boy. No second betrothal ceremony is performed. At the time of the marriage the boy stands with a dagger in his hand in front of the girl on an earthen altar and a cloth is held between the boy and the girl. The Brahmans repeat verses and they arc husband and wife. Four near relations stand on the four sides of the boy and girl and pass cotton thread round them on their thumbs, cut the threads into two parts and tie them with two turmeric roots to the wrists of the boy and the girl. Feasts are exchanged, and the boy takes his wife to her new home. They burn their dead and mourn for eleven days. They allow widow marriage. They settle social disputes at caste-meetings. They do not send their boys to school and take to no new pursuits. They are a poor class.

Karanjkars and Jingars: Karanjkars that is fountain-makers, including Jingars, that is saddlers, who call themselves Somvanshi Arya Kshatris, are found over the whole district. They say that the Brahmand and Bhavishyottar purans contain a full account of their origin. The founder of their caste was Mauktik, Mukdev or Mukteshvar, whose temple is in Shiv Kanchi or the modern Conjeveram in Madras. The spot where Mukteshvar bathed and prayed is called Muktamala Harini. Even two demons Chandi and Mundi were made holy by bathing there, and bathing at this spot still cleanses from sin. This place the Karanjkars hold to be sacred and make pilgrimages to it. They have no divisions and have eight family-stocks or gotras, the names of which are Angiras, Bharadvaj, Garg, Gautam, Kanv, Kaundanya. Valmik and Vasishth. Their surnames are Chavhan, Gadhe, Gavli, Honkalas. Kale, Kamble. Lohare, Vaghmare and Vasunde. Of these. Chavhans belong to the Vasishth gotra, Mukteshvar pravar, Rudragayatri. Rigved, and the colour of the horse and chariot is white or shvet. Families belonging to the same family-stock eat together but cannot inter-marry. They have regular features and are neither dark nor fair. The men wear the top-knot and moustache and rub sandal on their brow. Their women, who are fair and pretty, tie the hair in a knot behind the head and rub red powder on their brows. The home-tongue of most is Marathi, but some speak Kanarese both at home and abroad.

They are sober, thrifty, hard-working, even-tempered, hospitable, orderly and clever workers. They follow a variety of callings, making cloth-scabbards, and khogirs or pad-saddles and charjamas or cloth-saddles, but not leather-saddles. They make boxes and cradles, carve stones, paint and make figures of clay and cloth, pierce metal and paper plates, carve wood, make and repair padlocks, make and repair tin brass and copper pots, make gold and silver ornaments, cut diamonds, and make vinas or lyres and sarangis or fiddles and other musical instruments. A skilful workman seldom serves under another man. He opens a shop or works in partnership with his master. The Arya Kshatris always work to order, and keep no ready-made articles in stock. The merchants who want the articles give them the metal agreeing to pay them at so much a pound. Their work is not constant and few of them have capital. According to their calling Jingars are known as Chitaris, Jades, Lohars, Nalbands, Otaris or casters, Patvekars, Sonars, Sutars, Tambats, Tarkars or wire-drawers, and Tarasgars or scale-makers who eat together and inter-marry. They claim to be Somvanshi Kshatris and their claim is supported by deeds or sanads given to them by the Shankaracharya of Shringeri in Mysore. The Arya Kshatris are Smarts and keep images of their gods in their houses. Their priests are ordinary Brahmans, generally Deshasths to whom they pay great respect. They keep the usual Brahmanic fasts and feasts, and make pilgrimages to Banaras, Gaya. Jejuri, Shiv Kanchi, Tuljapur and Vishnu Kanchi near Rameshwar. and Mukteshvar near Shrivangapatam. Their teacher or guru is Shankaracharya whose chief monasteries are at Shringeri and Sankeshvar. Every two or three years his followers make Shankaracharya a money present. For her first child a young wife generally goes to her parents’. [For details of the mode of engagement, betrothal and marriage ceremony refer to the old Sholapur Gazetteer.]

The Jingars perform the thread-girding ceremony when the boy is between seven and nine in consultation with an astrologer. Among many other rituals they install the devak (marriage god) as among the Brahmans. They also follow many of the rituals as done by the Brahmans, which include Bikshaval, Sodmunj, etc. Formerly this ceremony used to last for three days, which is now summarily gone through in a day. They also used to entertain guests with feasts and gondhal dance.

Arya Kshatris used to marry their girls in the past between five and eleven or on pain of loss of caste, at least before they came of age. Boys were married at any time and were generally married between twelve and eighteen. The parents limit the choice to families of the same caste, and among caste-fellows, to families of a different stock or gotra. The marriage rituals are not much different from other caste of equal social ranking. The marriage party from the boy’s side (Varhad)goes to the girl’s village and the usual ceremonies of simantpujan, exchange of garlands, lucky verses, madhupark, etc. are performed. The priests recite marriage verses, and at the end throw red rice on the heads of the couple and they are husband and wife. Betel is served, money is presented to Brahmans and other beggars, and the guests retire. The cloth and the sandal grind-stone are removed and the boy and the girl are seated on the low wooden stools on which they were standing. Five Brahmans sit round the couple, repeat verses, and taking a cotton thread dip it in water and pass it seven and nine times round the couple. The thread is divided in two and laid in a plate along with two turmeric roots and worshipped by the boy and girl. Turmeric roots are tied to the two threads, the thread of seven turns being tied to the girl’s wrist and the thread of nine turns to the boy’s wrist. This is called the tying of the wristlets or kankans, and silver toe-rings or jodvis are also put round the girl’s big toes. The boy and girl leave their places and are seated on the altar. The boy feeds the sacrificial fire with butter, and the girl feeds it with parched grain which her brother hands her. This ends the ceremony, and the boy and girl walk into the house. The ear-squeezing ceremony is not performed but on account of it the boy’s father presents the girl’s brother with a turban. The boy and girl dine in company with other children, and after the guests have all dined, the marriage day is over. On the morning of the second day the girl’s kins-people accompanied by music go to the boy’s and ask his party to a feast at their house. About twelve the girl’s kins-men go to the boy’s house with music and fetch the men to dine at their house. After the men have dined the women are brought and after dining they too retire. On the third day the same ceremonies are performed as on the second day except that the women walk on cloths which the washerwomen spread in front of them. The girl’s mother washes the boy’s mother’s feet with warm water and presents her with a comb and five brass boxes and a washing pot or tast. Many trivial rituals take place which are but rarely observed these days. The Lakshmipujan or Lakshmi worship is performed with the same rites as among the Komtis. That night the girl stays at the boy’s house. Next morning the boy and girl bathe and are taken to the girl’s house. The priest repeats verses, and the threads or kankans are untied from the wrists of the boy and girl. After some rituals the boy and girl are taken to the boy’s house and the girl’s parents and relations are feasted. Meanwhile at the boy’s house the marriage gods are bowed out. Next day the marriage gods at the girl’s house are bowed out and the boy’s party are feasted. If their deity is the Tuljapur Bhavani a gondhal dance is held that night. After a copule of days the boy’s party has a final feast and starts for its own village. [For details refer to the old Sholapur Gazetteer.]

Shortly before death a dying Jingar is laid on a blanket and his son sits with his father’s head on his right knee. Water in which a Brahman’s toe has been washed, a few drops of the Ganga water, and the five cow gifts are dropped into the dying mouth. When all is over relations gather round the dead and weep. A bamboo bier is made, and the body is brought out of the house, and its head is rubbed with butter, and warm water is poured over the body. After dressing body is taken to the burial-ground on a bier, where it is burnt. The after-death rites and obsequies differ from other principal castes of the same ranking only in minor details. They also perform the vedishraddha and shodashi shraddha. As a caste, they believe in performing in the traditional rituals, though the hold of tradition is declining with the passage of time. They are a clever class.

Kasars: Kasars are found in every large village and town. They are divided into Marathas and Jains, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The Maratha Kasars look like high caste Hindus and speak Marathi. Except the Jain Kasars they eat fish and flesh. Both men and women dress like Maratha Brahmans. They are clean, neat, hard-working and orderly, and make vessels of copper, brass and tin. They also deal in glass bangles and make and sell wax bangles, in some of which they set small pieces of looking glass. They worship all Hindu gods and goddesses and keep the usual fasts and feasts, and their priests are the ordinary village Brahmans. They wear the sacred thread only at the time of marriage. Formerly they used to marry their girls before they were nine and their boys between twelve and sixteen. They hold their women impure for eleven days after child-birth, worship the goddess Satvai on the sixth, and name the child on the twelfth. They have lost much of their former trade and income from the competition of factory-made utensils, but on the whole are a well-to-do class. They have a caste-council and send their boys to school.

Khatris: Khatris are found in all sub-divisions. They claim to be Khatris and are said to have come from Cheul in Kolaba about hundred and eighty years ago. The men are short, spare, fair and small-eyed; and the women are fair and short but not good-looking. Their home-tongue is Marathi though some times they speak a mixture of Kanarese, Gujarati and Hindustani. They are cotton and silk weavers, dyers and dealers in gold, silver, and silk lace. They worship the ordinary Hindu gods and goddesses, and their favourite house-hold gods arc Khandoba, Narsoba and Renuka. Their priests are ordinary Brahmans whom they treat with respect. They gird the boy with a sacred thread before he is ten years old, and marry him before he is twenty-five. They mourn ten days and on the twelfth feast the caste. They practise widow marriage and polygamy. Their social disputes are settled by a meeting of elderly caste-men in presence of their Brahman priests.

Koshtis: Koshtis or weavers are found all over the district. They are divided into Hatgars, Khatavans and Patnavals, and are said to have come from Mungi Paithan six to seven generations ago. Of the three divisions, the Hatgars and Patnavals are Lingayats and do not eat from the Khatavans. None of the three divisions inter-marry. They look and dress like Marathas and high caste Hindus. They speak Marathi. The Khatavans eat fish and flesh. The Hatgars and Patnavals are vegetarian and avoid spirits. They are hard-working, forbearing, hospitable and temperate. Koshtis, Salis, and Sangars, though of different castes, all follow the craft of weaving cotton and silk. They weave sheets, quilts, waistcloths, robes and turbans. Some are shopkeepers and others are labourers. Their women help in cleaning yarn and spinning. The competition of mill-made cloth depresses the Koshtis. Their house-gods are Khandoba, Mahadev, Vithoba. and the goddesses Ambabai, Jakhai, Kombai, Nalsaheb and Shivrai, and their priests are Brahmans. The priests of the Hatgars and Patnavals are Jangams. The Khatavan customs are the same as those of Maratha. They burn the married and bury the unmarried dead. The Koshtis have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Kumbhars: Kumbhars or potters are found in all towns and market villages. It is not known when they came into the district, but they are believed to have come with the Marathas as their potters. Most are Marathas but a few are Lingayats and Pardeshis. Except Pardeshis who speak Hindustani, both Lingayats and Marathas speak ordinary Marathi. Their daily food is jvari bread, split pulse and vegetables and except the Lingayats, all eat fish and flesh and drink liquor. The men wear a pair of drawers reaching to the knee, a smock, a waist-cloth, turban, and blanket, and the women a robe and bodice. They are hard-working, patient, forbearing and hospitable. Their wives never help them in their work, but they make hearths or chuls. They are a poor class, living from hand to mouth, and bartering their wares for grain.

Kumbhars do not gird their boys with the sacred thread. At the marriage time they rub the boy’s and girl’s bodies with turmeric at their houses. Their marriage guardian or devak is the thapatne or bat-shaped piece of wood with which they beat their pots to harden them before baking. To their marriage Lingayat Kumbhars call both a Jangam and a Brahman priest. Other Kumbhars call only a Brahman priest. During the night the boy and girl are seated on a bullock and paraded through the village. [This custom is not in much vogue now.] Feasts and return feasts are given and the marriage ceremony is over. They bury their dead and carry the body in a cloth slung from the shoulders of two men. Lingayat Kumbhars mourn for three and other Kumbhars for seven days. They have a headman or mhetar who settles all social disputes in the presence of the caste-men. They are a poor class.

Lakheris: Lakheris or lac workers are found in the town of Sholapur. They are Marwad Vanis who are said to have come into the district about one hundred and seventy years ago to trade in lac bracelets. They say they are Kshatris, and their surnames arc Bagdis of Jaypur, Chavaris of Ajmir, Povars of Ujain, and Sisodes of Udepur. Their stocks or gotras are Gautami Kashyap, and Vasishth; persons bearing the same surname do not inter-marry. They are the same as Marwad Vanis, look like them, wear their hair like them, with a top and two ear knots, the moustache and whiskers, and some the beard. Their home-tongue is Marwadi, but out-of-doors they speak good Marathi. Their staple food is bajri and wheat. They are notorious for the amount of butter they consume at feasts mixed with sugar. They have no objection to eat fish and flesh. Both men and women dress like Marwad Vanis and the women wear lac bangles or chudas and occasionally a couple of glass bangles. They make eight kinds of bracelets kangnis, todas, gots, chudas, gangajamnis, gajras, raymanis and chhavds. Their work is not constant and they work to order. The craft is hereditary and their women and children help. They say a good workman can make three thousand bracelets or chudas in four or five days. They are either Shaivs or Vaishnavs, and their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans. They do not perform thread ceremony, and marry their girls after they come of age. They allow widow marriage, burn the dead and mourn ten days. They have caste-councils.

Lohars: Lohars or blacksmiths are found in all villages and towns. They are divided into Akuj, Kalsabad, Kamle, Pokalghat, Parvale, Shinde and Tingare, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. They are dark and strong and speak Marathi. They eat fish and fiesh and dress like cultivating Marathas, and make and repair the iron work of ploughs and carts. They also make pick-axes, spoons, iron vessels, and nails. Their house-deities are Bhavani, Khandoha, Jotiba and Mahadev, and their priests are Maratha Brahmans. They keep the chief Hindu fasts and feasts. They marry their girls before they are eleven, and their boys between fifteen and twenty. Their devaks or marriage guardians are sandas or a pair of tongs, the hatoda or hammer, and the panch palvis or five tree-leaves which they tie to a post of the marriage hall and worship. At the time of marriage thread bracelets or kankans and turmeric roots are tied to the wrists both of the boy and the girl, and after the marriage ceremony, are untied by washerwomen at the boy’s and girl’s houses. They also tie marriage brow-horns or bashings to the boy’s and girl’s brows, and in addition, gird the boy with the sacred thread. On the fourth day after marriage the girl’s lap is filled with rice and sesamum seed or til balls. After the marriage the marriage ornaments and sacred thread are removed and are never again used. They either bury or burn the dead and mourn ten days. They settle social disputes at meetings of the caste-men.

Lonaris: Lonaris or cement-makers are found all over the district. Their surnames are Bule, Dage, Gadse, Gaganmal, Gavne, Ged, Gudal, Jhadge, Kalarkar, Karche, Korde, Khandekar, Khilari, Kolal, Lagad, Munje, Notraliparkar, Pharkar, Shelki, Thire and Vag, who eat together and inter-marry. They are strong and robust. They make and sell cement and charcoal and also work as labourers. Their women help by hawking cement and charcoal. Their chief god is Mahadev, and they have house-images of Ambabhavani, Bahiroba and Khandoba. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts and their priests are the ordinary Deshasth Brahmans. They have betrothals, and if the boy’s parents are poor, they present the girl with a rupee and the ceremony is over. They marry their girls before they come of age, and the day before the marriage offer a sheep to the family-god. At the time of the marriage the girl is made to stand on a grind-stone or pata, and the boy on a coil of rope. A cloth is held between them, paper brow horns or bashings are tied to their brows, at the end of the marriage verses the Brahman priest and other guests throw rice over their heads and the boy and girl are husband and wife. They are seated on the altar or bahule, the hems of their garments are knotted together, and presents of clothes are exchanged. Feasts and return feasts are given, the girl bows to the village Maruti, and walks with the boy to his house. They burn their dead, mourn ten days, offer rice-balls on the eleventh, and end the mourning with a feast. They have a caste-council, and a feast or a low bow admits the guilty back into caste.

Niralis: Niralis or indigo-dyers are found in towns and large villages. They are divided into Niralis proper and Kadus or bastards who eat together but do not inter-marry. Their surnames are Chitrakar, Kadge, Kalaskar, Kandarkar, Mehetar, Misal and Nakil. The traditional founder of their caste was one Prakash who was the son of a Kukut mother and an Abhir father. Their home-tongue is Marathi. They prepare indigo and dye yarn, some weave and others serve as day-labourers. Their women and children help in untying the bundles of yarn and keeping them well reeled. Their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans, and their chief deities are Ambabai, Khandoba and Vyankoba. They worship the usual Hindu gods and goddesses, have images in their houses, and keep the regular fasts and feasts. At the time of betrothal, the boy’s parents present the girl with a robe and bodice and with silver and gold ornaments. A day before the marriage the boy and girl are rubbed with turmeric at their houses, booths are raised, and caste-fellows feasted. During the marriage the boy and girl are made to stand on low wooden stools in front of each other, a cloth is held between them, and when the priests have repeated the marriage verses and the guests have thrown red rice over their heads they become husband and wife. Niralis either bury or burn the dead. The body is carried either slung in a cloth or on a bier. They mourn ten days, offer balls to the spirit of the dead, and feast caste-fellows on the thirteenth on rice and wheat bread. They allow and practise widow marriage and polygamy.

Otaris: Otaris or casters are found in towns. They look, speak arid dress like Maratha husbandmen. They eat fish and flesh. They are hard-working, hospitable and orderly. They make molten images of Hindu gods, copper and brass ornaments, and vessels. Except that their goddess Satvai is offered cakes or mutkis of bajri flour on the fifth day after child-birth, and that their devak or marriage guardian is a pardi or pair of scales and panch palvis or the leaves of five trees, their customs are the same as those of cultivating Marathas. They burn their dead, allow widow marriage and practise polygamy.

Panchals: Panchals are found only in Madha. They give three explanations of the name Panchal, first that they are composed of five classes: goldsmiths, coppersmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters, and masons; second, that the word comes from panch five and al to melt because they melt gold, silver, copper, brass and zinc; and third that they have only five stocks or gotras, Abhuvan, Pratan, Sanag, Sanatan and Suparn. They say they are sprung from Vishvakarma the framer of the universe, and that they came to the district two hundred years ago. They are divided into Kasars or coppersmiths, Lohars or iron-smiths, Patharvats or masons, Sonars or goldsmiths, and Sutars or carpenters who neither eat together nor inter-marry. Their surnames are Dharmadhikari, Kshirsagar, Mahamuni, Pandit and Vedpathak; and persons bearing the same surname eat together but do not intermarry. The names in common use among men are Govind, Narhari, Raghunath, Vaman and Vishnu; and among women Chandrabhaga, Ganga, Mathura, Sarasvati and Savitri. They are strong and fair, and especially the Sonars, look like Brahmans. They speak an incorrect drawling Marathi both at home and abroad. Their staple food is millet, rice, pulse and vegetables, and they are fond of chillis and hot spices. They are generally hard-working and thrifty, but hot-tempered. They are goldsmiths, coppersmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters. masons, husbandmen, and clerks and writers. Their calling is steady and well paid, but owing to heavy marriage expenses they are generally in debt. They consider themselves equal, if not superior, to the local Brahmans and do not eat or drink either with them or from them. The local Brahmans term them Shudras, and hold them lower than Kunbis. Panchals worship all the Brahmanic gods and goddesses. Their family-deities are Bhavani of Tuljapur, Kalmadevi of the Karnatak, Khandoba of Jejuri, and Vyankoba of Giri. Their family priests, who are members of their own community, are held in. high respect. They keep the usual Brahmanic fasts and feasts and go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Jejuri, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. They gird their boys with a sacred thread when they are between seven and nine. Formerly the thread-girding ceremony was elaborate which is now gone through hurriedly.

A girl is married between eight and twelve and a boy between twelve and twenty-five. Marriage was formerly celebrated on a larger scale [For details refer to the former edition of the Sholapur Gazetteer.] than at present, and the ceremony used to last 2/3 days. The rituals of simantpujan, madhupark, varat, kanyadan, kankan-bandhan, laxmipujan, sacrificial fire, navagrahapujan and many others are performed. A feast is held in honour of the guests and the marriage party. Panchals burn their dead. The dying man is laid on a blanket strewn with darbh grass. The body is carried on a bier, and the usual rituals are performed at the burial-ground. Their customs as regards after-death rites and obsequies do not differ much from those of other Hindu castes of equal status.

Patharvats: Patharvats or masons are found over the whole district. They look like Marathas, speak Marathi, live in mud and stone houses, and eat fish and flesh. They make stone pillars, handmills, grind-stones, rolling-pins and images of gods and also work as stone masons and carriers. They worship the usual Hindu gods and goddesses and keep the regular fasts and feasts. Their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans, and their customs are the same as those of Marathas. They marry their widows and burn their dead. They had a caste-council.

Patvekar: Patvekars or tassel-makers are found in the town of Sholapur. They look, speak and dress like Marathas and like them eat fish and flesh and drink liquor. They are hard-working, orderly people and make silk threads for necklaces, and other head, hand and waist ornaments. They string and fix gems or beads on silk or cotton threads, and make fringes tassels and netted work. They make silk and cotton waistcords called katdoras or kargotas to which high caste boys a short time after their thread ceremony and all Marathas fasten the loincloth or langoti. They work from sunrise to sunset. Their work is constant. The craft is hereditary and the women do not help them. Their boys begin to work at twelve and are skilled workers by sixteen. They also work as day-labourers and some of them are musicians.

Rangaris: Rangaris or dyers are found in towns and large villages. They say they were originally Kshatris, and that their ancestors who were twin brothers, on being pursued by Parashuram, hid in a temple belonging to the goddess Ambabai and sought the goddess’ protection. The goddess gave one brother a piece of thread and a needle, and the other a paint which she spat at him and told the one to sew and the other to dye. Meanwhile Parashuram begged the goddess to make over to him the two Kshatris, but she denied all knowledge of them and Parashuram had to go back disappointed. From that time the sewer became a Shimpi and the dyer a Rangari. Their surnames are Bagre, Kunthe, Nikte, Rashankar and Sarvade, who eat together but do not marry with people who have the same surname. Among their family-stocks or gotras are Gangav Rishi and Vasishth. They look, speak and dress like Marathas. A Rangari’s house can be known by the high four-legged stool or jhanji which is generally kept on the veranda and also from dyed turbans and robes hung to dry on ropes or poles. They say they prepare thirty-six colours. They do not dye black and look down on and refuse to touch any one who dyes black. They have house-images of Ambabai, Davud Malik, Ganpati, Khandoba and Mahadev and their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts. Their women are not held impure after child-birth. They worship the goddess Satvai on the fifth and if the child is a girl name her on the twelfth, and if a boy on the thirteenth. They marry their girls between five and ten and their boys between five and twenty. If a girl remains unmarried till after she comes of age her whole family is put out of caste. They either burn or bury the dead. They mourn ten days and the chief mourner gets his moustache shaved either on the tenth or on the twelfth day after a death. They give a feast to their caste-fellows on the thirteenth. They had a caste-council in the past which used to settle caste-disputes. Breaches of caste rules were punished by fines.

Rauls: Rauls or tape-makers are found scattered over the whole district. They say the founders of their caste were Adinath and Machhindra-nath. They look and dress like Marathas and Gosavis. It is sometimes difficult to tell a Raul from a Gosavi. Their surnames are Abdule, Chavhan, Gaikavad, Jadhav, Kavad, Naikjavle, Povar and Salunke. All of these eat together, but the Abdules and Jadhavs do not marry with the rest. When they do not cover themselves with ashes, wear the hair long and matted and the beard and whiskers, they look like Marathas; otherwise they do not differ from Gosavis. They speak Marathi both at home and abroad. They are clean, neat, hard-working and orderely. They weave strips of coarse cotton cloth, and girdles, tape, wallets, purses, and coarse cloth bags. They are Shaivs of the Gorakh panth or sect and their fasts and feasts are the same as those of Marathas. They worship Bahiroba, Devi, Khandoba, the bottom or patar of a dried gourd, the trishul or trident, the dried gourd or tumba cut at the head or the begging bowl, and the shankh or conch-shell. They carry a whistle or shringi hung to a woollen string or saili, wear ear ornaments called mudras and a necklace of manshankh or rudraksh beads. Their betrothals and their guardians or devaks are the same as among Marathas and except that the Gurav repeats the words dhan properly dhyan that is attention in the boy’s cars after die marriage ceremony, their ceremonies are the same as those of Marathas. They allow widow marriage, and bury the dead carrying the body slung from a pole. The body is dressed in ochre-coloured clothes and in front of the body one of them goes blowing a conch-shell or shankh. They repeat the word Gorakh while carrying the body, and their women accompany the men to the grave. After the body is laid in the grave, the chief mourner pours a little water into its mouth and the grave is filled. They feast the caste on the thirteenth day after a death.

Tanners: Saltangars or tanners are found only in Karmala. They are a wandering tribe of Marwadis, and are said to have come into the district from Marwad some centuries ago. They are generally good-looking, fair and robust and the men wear the moustache and a few the beard. They speak a mixture of Hindi and Marwadi. They are hardworking and hospitable. The men tan hides and skins, deal in cattle and go about selling them in market villages. Their god is Balaji or Vyankoba and they keep the eleventh of each fortnight as a fast day. They mourn ten days and allow widow marriage.

Salis: Salis or weavers are found all over the district, but especially in towns and large villages. They are dark and tall, and speak Marathi. They are hard-working, even-tempered, courteous and hospitable and weave turbans, quilts or pasodis and waistcloths: a few are money-lenders and the rest day-labourers. They eat flesh but their staple food is jvari, pulse and vegetables. They do not allow widow marriage. Their family-gods are Ambabai. Jotiba, Khandoba and Mahadev, and their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at meetings of the caste-men.

Sangars: Sangars or wool-weavers are found over the whole district. They are divided into Sangars proper, Dhangar Sangars and Mahar Sangars. The surnames of the Sangars are Dhoble, Gonjare, Karande, Palshande and Raul who eat together but do not inter-marry. They cannot tell when or whence they came into the district, neither can they give an account of their origin. They look like Marathas and speak Marathi. They dress like Marathas and the women do not pass the end of the robe back between the feet. They weave and sell blankets and serve as day-labourers. Their house-gods are like those of Marathas and their priests are both Brahmans and Jangams to whom they pay great respect. They have betrothals and their marriages are not very costly. They have no rule that girls must be married before they come of age. Both Jangams and Brahmans conduct their marriages, and one after the other repeat marriage verses. At the end rice grains are thrown over the boy and girl and they are husband and wife. As a rule they bury the dead but a lying-in woman who dies within fifteen days of child-birth is burnt. In all cases a Jangam walks before the body ringing a bell. They have a caste-council.

Sonars: Sonars or goldsmiths are found over the whole district. They are divided into Panchal Sonars and Lad Sonars and Dasiputras or bastards born of Panchal and Lad Sonars, who do not eat together or inter-marry. The surnames of the Panchals are Dahale, Jojari Kulthe, Dolge, Misal, Shahale, Tak and Udvant, and the Panchal’s family-stocks are Abuvan, Pratan Sanag, and Suparn. They look like local Brahmans. Panchals are vegetarians and Lads and Dasiputras eat fish or flesh. Panchals dress like Brahmans and Lads and Dasiputras like Marathas, and their women like Maratha women, do not pass the skirt of the robe between the feet. They are hard-working, frugal, polite and hospitable and generally they make gold and silver ornaments, and set precious stones. Their position in the local caste list is below Vaishyas, but they claim place next to Brahmans and some even rank themselves above Deshasth, Konkanasth and other Deccan Brahmans; Kshatriyas and Vaishyas hold aloof from them, only Shudras eat from their hands. Of late their efforts to imitate Brahmans have increased.

Panchal Sonars have priests of their own caste, the others employ the ordinary village Brahmans. Their favourite deities arc Bhavani, Ganpati, Mahadev and Vyankatesh. They have image of their gods in their houses. Except the Panchals, Sonars do not gird their boys with the sacred thread. Their guardian or devak is the savana or pincers and the panch palvis or the five tree-leaves. They marry their children standing on low wooden stools and holding cocoanuts in their hands. They burn the dead, and except the Panchals who do not bathe the body they pour warm water over the corpse before laying it on the bier. Panchals forbid and Lads and Dasiputras allow widow marriages. Ail have caste-councils and the Panchals give their priests the fines inflicted for breaches of caste rules.

Sutars: Sutars or carpenters are found over the whole district. They are divided into Arya Kshatri Sutars, Brahman Sutars, Mahar Sutars, Mang Sutars, Maratha Sutars, Panchal Sutars, Shiv Brahma Sutars and Vidur or Kadu, that is, Bastard Sutars.

Most Sholapur Sutars are Vidur or Kadu and Shiv Brahma Sutars. Kadu Sutars say that other people call them Dasiputra Sutars, Akar-mase Sutars, Shinde Sutars or Vidur Sutars all words meaning bastards or of illegitimate birth. They call themselves Maratha Sutars or simply Marathas, and eat and sometimes marry with cultivating Marathas. They say that the origin of the caste was a young good-looking Maratha widow who had an only son, lived with a Sutar widower, and got the boy married to bastard Maratha girl. Their surnames are Chavhan, Jadhav, Mise and Povar; one of their family-stocks is Kashyap. They are like Marathas in all respects. They are carpenters, husbandmen, labourers and messengers. Their customs are the same as those of Marathas; they have a caste-council.

Shiv Brahma Sutars belong to the Abhavany and Manujay family-stocks or gotras and their surnames are Bamne, Kashikar and Morajkar. They are said to belong to Sankhli and Dicholi about 50 miles from Goa and say that their ancestors came to Sholapur two or three hundred years ago to avoid the tyranny of the Portuguese. They have still relations near Goa and they still go there to get their children married. They are tall, dark and thin and look more like Shudras than Brahmans. The men wear a large gold ring in the upper part of the right ear like Konkan or Deccan Marathas. They are clean, neat, hard-working, thrifty and orderly. Their chief deities are Kalamma and Mahadev and they keep house-images of their gods. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans, and they keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts. They marry their girls before they are ten and their boys between fifteen and twenty. They burn their dead, forbid widow marriage, and practise polygamy. Their social disputes are settled at caste-meetings.

Shimpis: Shimpis or tailors are found all over the district They are divided into Jain Shimpis, Namdev Shimpis and Rangari Shimpis, of whom Rangaris eat from Jains and Namdevs, Jains neither eat from Namdevs nor Rangaris, and Namdevs eat from Jains but not from Rangaris. They are a Marathi-speaking people. The Jains avoid flesh and liquor; the Namdevs and Rangaris eat flesh. They dress like cultivating Marathas and especially the women are clean, neat, orderly and hard-working. Their customs are the same as those of Marathas and they allow widow marriage. Their house-deities are Ambabai, Bahiroba, Khandoba and Vithoba, and their priests are village Brahmans. They settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Tambats: Tambats or coppersmiths are found all over the district. They say they came into the district about hundred and forty years ago from the Konkan in search of work. They have no sub-divisions. The names of their family-stocks are Bharadvaj, Bhargav and Kashyap and their surnames are Bode, Dhamdhare, Gondle, Hajare, Kadu, Pimple, Samle and Vadke; families bearing the same gotra or family-stock eat together but do not inter-marry. The names in common use among men are Govind, Lakshman, Pandurang and Rama; and among women Chandra, Gita, Godavari and Sita. They are dark, middle-sized and hardy, and speak Marathi both at home and abroad. They are not neat or clean in their habits but are hard-working, thrifty, orderly, sober and hospitable. They make vessels of copper, brass and tin and tin cooking vessels. They claim to be Brahmans, and avoid flesh and liquor. The Tambats are a religious class, worshipping the usual Hindu deities and keeping the regular fasts and festivals. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans who officiate at their houses. They go on pilgrimage to Banaras, Jejuri, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. Their family-deities are Narsoba of Narsingpur, Khandoba of Jejuri, Bhavani of Tuljapur, and Amjai, Mimjai and Satvai in the Konkan. They gird their boys with the sacred thread between eight and twelve and marry their boys between twelve and twenty-five. Their thread-girding and marriage ceremonies are generally the same as those of Maratha Brahmans.

Tambolis: Tambolis or betel-sellers are found in the town of Sholapur. In appearance, speech, house, food and dress they do not differ from cultivating Marathas. They grow betel leaves and sell them retail. They say they are Kunbis rather than Tambolis. They worship all Hindu gods and goddesses and keep the regular fasts and festivals. They allow and practise child and widow marriage and polygamy, and their customs social and religious are the same as Maratha customs. They burn their dead and mourn ten days. They have a caste-council.

Telis: Telis or oil-pressers are found all over the district. They are divided into Lads, Lingdas or Lingayats, Mirjis, Pardeshis and Tuljapuris, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The Tuljapuris look like Marathas and their home-tongue is Marathi. They do not eat fish or flesh. Both men and women dress like Marathas, the women without drawing the end of the robe back between the feet. They are dirty but hard-working and thrifty. They press sesamum seed, kardai seed, and groundnuts. They worship the ordinary Hindu gods, and their house-deities are Ambabai, Jotiba and Khandoba. Their priests are the ordinary village Brahmans and Lingdas in addition employ Jangams. Except that the Lingda women after child-birth become impure for five days and tie a ling to the child’s neck on the fifth, their ceremonies are the same as Maratha ceremonies. Besides the ling ceremony the Lingdas worship Satvai on the fifth day like other Telis and name their children on the twelfth. Except that their devak or guardian is the iron bar or pahar and the stone oil-mill or ghana, their customs are the same as those of Marathas. The marriage priests of all Telis are the ordinary village Deshasth Brahmans. The Lingdas carry their dead in a bag or jholi behind a Jangam who blows a conch-shell. The Telis bury their dead, mourn three days and offer no balls. They allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. Their headman or mhetar settles social disputes in presence of the council or panch.

Servants: Servants include two castes, viz-, Nhavis and Parits.

Nhavis: Nhavis or barbers, also called Variks or time-keepers, are found all over the district. They are divided into Maratha, Telangi, Lingayat, Pardeshi, Marwadi and Gujarati Nhavis. The following particulars apply to Maratha Nhavis only who are divided into Konkanis and Deccanis who eat together but do not inter-marry. Their customs are the same as Maratha customs. They marry their girls between ten and fourteen and their boys between fifteen and twenty. The marriage ceremony lasts four days. They allow widow marriage, practise polygamy, worship the ordinary Hindu gods and goddesses, keep the regular fasts and feasts, and employ the local Maratha Brahmans as their priests. They settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Parits: Parits or washermen are found in small numbers all over the district. They have no memory of any former home and are divided into Lingayats, Marathas, and Telangis who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The following details apply chiefly to Maratha Parits. Their personal names and surnames are the same as those of Maratha Kunbis and they do not differ from local Kunbis in look, speech, house, dress or character. Parits belong to the class of balutedars and rank low in the social scale. Their social and religious customs are the same as those of local Kunbis. Early marriage, polygamy, and widow marriage are allowed and polyandry is unknown. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Musicians: Musicians include three castes, viz., Ghadshis, Guravs and Holars.

Ghadshis: Ghadshis or musicians are found in towns and large villages. They are a dark people and look like cultivating Marathas. They speak and dress like Marathas and have the same customs. They are musicians, songsters and beggars. They act the part of Bhats and Bahurupis, and imitate half-naked Gosavis and Bairagis.

Guravs: Guravs or priests are found in small numbers all over the district. They are divided into Khatavni and Nakhatavni, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. They speak Marathi. They neither eat fish nor flesh, and their staple food is jvari, pulse and vegetables. They are clean in their habits, hard-working, even-tempered and hospitable. They serve at the shrines of the village gods. They make leaf-cups and plates and are excellent musicians. They wear the sacred thread, and their chief gods are Ambabai, Khandoba, Mahadev and Maruti. Their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans whom they show great respect. They gird their boys with the sacred thread. Their guardian or devak is the leaves of the vad or banyan tree which they tie to a post of the marriage hall and worship. The boy and girl are married standing face to face and a cloth is held between them. When the Brahman priest has finished the marriage verses, and the guests have thrown rice over their heads, they are husband and wife. Feasts are exchanged on both sides, and the boy walks with his bride to his village. They burn their dead dressing the body in a green robe and bodice if the deceased is a married woman.

Holars: Holars, apparently meaning field men or sons of soil, are found over the whole district. They are divided into Ayavle, Birlinge, Garode, Gijge, Gulik, Javir, Kamle, Karde, Halmane, Namdase, Parsha and Vagar, who all eat together but do not inter-marry. They are like Mangs, dark, tall and strong. They speak Marathi both at home and abroad. In food and dress they are the same as Mangs, and are hard-working, dirty and when they can afford it, drunken. They are shoe and sandal makers, leather-dressers, tillers, musicians, and day-labourers. Betrothal takes place before marriage, and they generally marry their girls between five and fifteen and their boys between twelve and twenty. They have a great fondness for child marriage but their poverty often prevents them satisfying their and their women’s wishes. They allow widow marriage, but the ceremony is always held in dark nights, and no one will look at the newly-married couple’s face till the Sun has been up four or five hours. They bury their dead, but say they would burn them if they could afford it. In religion they are the same as Mangs, worshipping all Hindu gods and goddesses, especially Bahiroba, Damrai, Janai, Jokhai, Khandoba and Satvai. Their priests are the ordinary village Brahmans whom they greatly respect. They have a caste-council and their social disputes are settled at caste-meetings.

Shepherds: Shepherds include two castes, Dhangars and Gavlis.

Dhangars: Dhangars or shepherds, literally cow-keepers, are found over the whole district. They are said to have come to Sholapur during the great Durgadevi famine (1396-1408) from the valley of the Man river in north-east Satara. They are divided into Barges or Bandes, Hatgars and Khutegars or Khutes, who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The chief Dhangar surnames are Bhage, Chendke. Duble, Gadekar, Kore, Murle and Rayural. They are dark, large, and well-featured. Their home-tongue is Marathi. They are neither neat nor clean in their dress. The men are strong, sturdy, simple, hospitable, orderly, dirty and rough. Their women are brave and hard-working. The Khutegars are weavers and the Hatgars sell milk, butter, clarified butter, and wool, sell sheep and goats and make and sell country blankets. The Barges are husbandmen. Some Dhangars also work as brick-layers, day-labourers, petty shop-keepers, messengers, writers and a few are money-lenders and cloth merchants. Besides goats and sheep they own cows and buffaloes. Their chief gods are Bahiroba of Raji in the Indi sub-division of Bijapur, Bhuloba, Khandoba of Jejuri, Tukai of Tuljapur, and Yemai of Mardi in Sholapur. Dhangars worship the ghosts of their deceased ancestors and keep ancestral images in their houses. On Dasara day they go to the temple of the god Hedamdev in waste land with music and one of them gets possessed and strikes himself with a naked sword but is not wounded. Those who are present throw wool and pieces of cocoa-kernel over their heads and all dance and sing. They have Brahman priests who officiate at their marriage and death ceremonies. They keep the usual Hindu holidays and fast on the elevenths of every lunar month. They marry their boys between five and fifteen and their girls at any time before they come of age. Their marriage customs are the same as those of cultivating Marathas, except that the bride sends to the boy a present of about two hundred stuffed cakes. Most Dhangars bury the dead, but those who can afford it burn them. A woman who dies in child-birth is always buried. A feast is given on the twelfth day after death. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Gavlis: Gavlis or milkmen are found all over the district. They are divided into Bijapur Gavlis, Kunbi Gavlis, and Nagarkar Gavlis who neither eat together nor inter-marry. The Bijapur and the Nagarkar Gavlis are Lingayats. The Kunbi Gavlis were formerly in the service of the Bijapuris. They have established themselves as Gavlis but eat, drink, marry and associate with Kunbis from whom they differ in no respect. The chief surnames among the Bijapur and Nagarkar Gavlis ore Aglave, Ajidvani, Bashkar, Bahervadi. Bhaganagdi, Chipkar, Dhajaie, Divte, Gadya-Palatukar, Ghule, Ghungre, Gholi, Gisal, Huchche, Jangavli, Kalagate, Lakdya, Langute, Malkunaik, Namdhe, Pangud. Sathe, Shadapure and Sholapure. The Gavlis look like Marathas and speak Marathi. They are dirty in their habits, but hard-working and thrifty. The men wear the ling in their turbans. They generally carry betel and tobacco in a pouch or batva with bells tied to it. They marry their girls between six and twelve and their boys some time before they are twenty-five. Before marriage they have the same magni or asking ceremony as among cultivating Marathas. Formerly they used to have a very elaborate method of celebrating the magni ceremony as also the marriage ceremony, the details of which are furnished in the old Sholapur Gazetteer.

On the marriage day the boy is dressed in new clothes, goes on a bullock to the village Maruti with kins-men and kins-women, friends and music, makes a bow, and goes straight to the girl’s house where he and the bride are seated together on a blanket in front of the altar or bahule. Brahmans repeat verses and when the verses are ended throw rice over the pair and they are husband and wife. Betel is served and the guests retire. Next day a feast is held at the boy’s and on the day after at the girl’s. The boy and girl are presented with clothes and seated on the shoulders of two men, who dance while musicians play and the boy and girl pelt each other with sweet scented powder. Formerly when the boys and girls were married at an early age they were seated on the shoulders of a man who was called kotvalghoda or the police commissioner’s horse and he danced to music.

Except women who die in child-birth Gavlis bury the dead. The body is carried sitting in a bamboo frame, the grave is dug, and sprinkled with cowdung and cow urine and water in which a Jangam’s feet have been washed. The body is lowered into the grave and the Jangam goes into the grave, drops some water in which his toe has been dipped into the dead mouth, places the lingam which the dead wore in his clasped hands, and comes out. The grave is filled with earth up to the corpse’s neck, from that till the head is covered it is filled with salt, and above that with earth. When they come home the mourning family are impure for three days, and on the fourth day are purified by drinking a mixture of cow’s urine, dung, milk, curds, sugar and honey. They worship all the usual Hindu gods, and chiefly Ambabai, Khandoba, and Krishna, and fast on Mondays, on the elevenths of every lunar month, and on Gokulashtami in August and Anant Chaturdashi in September. Their priests are Jangams whom they hold in great respect. They call caste-meetings to settle social disputes. Caste,, offences are punished with fine and after the fine is paid the offender drinks water in which Jangam’s toe has been washed, and is pure.

Fishers: Fishers include two castes: Bhois and Kolis.

Bhois: Bhois or fishers are found in towns and large villages. They are divided into Maratha Bhois who speak. Marathi and Pardeshi Bhois who speak Hindustani. The following particulars apply to Pardeshi Bhois:-They are a lazy and dirty people, earning their living as fishers and day-labourers, the women helping the men in selling the fish. Their chief god is Vyankoba. They keep all Hindu holidays, and their priests are ordinary village Brahmans.

On the marriage day Pardeshi Bhois fix a post in the ground in the middle of the booth, and place near the post a new earthen jar filled with cold water. When the boy comes to the girl’s house, he and the girl are bathed in the booth with the cold water from the jar, and they are seated near the post. The Kulkarni or any other Brahman repeats marriage verses, throws grains of rice over their heads, and they walk five times round the post and the boy goes walking with the bride to his house with kins-folk, friends and music. Their marriage guardian or devak is the Sun god or Surya. They allow widow marriage and either bury or burn the dead. Their chief deities are Ambabai, Bahiroba and Khandoba; and their great holiday is Shivratra in February. Their headman who is called Chaudhari, settles social disputes and levies fines. When a fine is recovered the headman is presented with a turban, and the rest is spent in a feast.

Kolis: Kolis are found all over the district. According to a book called the Malutarangranth, Shalivahan, with his minister Ramchandra Udavant Sonar, sent four Koli chiefs from Paithan to Sholapur, to punish a rebel in the Dindirvan forest. After the rising was put down the Koli chiefs were placed in charge of the forest and the country round, and were ordered to maintain themselves by carrying on the work of boatmen and by acting as priests in all Mahadev temples. Afterwards two more chiefs with their families and the parents of the four original chiefs came and settled in the district. The names of the four original chiefs were Abhangrav, Adhatrav, Nehetrav and Parchande, and these with a few others have become Koli surnames. The Kolis are divided into Maratha and Panbhari or Pan Kolis who cat together and inter-marry. [Besides these two classes of Kolis some Kamathis from the Balaghat hills in the Nizam’s country call themselves Mahadev Kolis. Most speak Marathi out-of-doors, but in many families the home-speech is Telugu. This class is interesting as they apparently are the origin of the Mahadev Kolis of the Ahmadnagar hills.] The names in common use among men are Babaji, Hari, Keru, Kondi, Limba, Mukund, Nathaji, Pandu and Rakhma; and among women Bhagu, Gita, Kondu, Kusha, Krishna, Rakhma, Rangu and Tulsi. They look like Marathas, and are strong, dark and hardy. They speak an incorrect Marathi mixed with peculiar expressions, some for shortness sake and others without any apparent reason. [Thus for do not want nako, they say naga, for yonder palikade, palyad; for take this h; ghe, hinga; for plenty pushkal, lai or mayndal; for little thode, ulis; for there tikade, takada, for here ikade, hakada, for soon lavkar, be gi; and for beat mar han.] They give caste dinners on marriages and the anniversaries of deaths. They eat fish and the flesh of goats, sheep, hare, deer, and domestic fowls and eggs. They hold themselves impure when they eat flesh and on that day do not visit the temple. Such of them as have turned varkaris, devotees of the Pandharpur Vithoba, and wear necklaces of basil or tulsi leaves, have given up eating flesh. They sometimes get over the difficulty by hanging their tulsi necklaces to a peg in the house before tasting flesh and putting them on again next morning after bathing. Both men and women dress like Marathas. They are a hard-working, even-tempered, thrifty, hospitable and orderly people. They are boatmen, carrying passengers across rivers and streams during the rainy season. They are hereditary ministrants in Mahadev’s shrines and take to themselves the offerings laid before the god. The Pan Kolis or watermen carry water in bags on the backs of buffaloes, supply the villagers, and receive a yearly allowance in grain, hay or money. They claim the same rank as Maratha Kunbis with whom they dine. They are a religious people and worship the usual Hindu gods and goddesses. Their family-gods are Vithoba of Pandharpur, Bhavani of Tuljapur, and Khandoba of Jejuri. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans to whom they pay great respect. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and festivals. Their spiritual guides or gurus are the Kanphata Gosavis. They marry their boys before they are twenty, and their girls before they are twelve. The father of the boy has to look cut for a suitable girl as a wife for a son. They either bury or burn their dead. On the way to the burning ground they halt, and leaving a cake and cooked rice folded in an old piece of cloth go to the burning ground. The body is either buried or burnt and the chief mourner, taking the fire-pot and filling it with water, goes round the grave or the pyre, and picking a pebble makes a hole in the Jar, dashes the pebble and the jar on the ground and beats his mouth with the palm of his open hand. He marks the spot by a big stone, bathes in the river or stream and goes home. The chief mourner remains impure for ten days. On the third day with a few near kins-men he goes to the burning ground, removes the ashes, sprinkles flowers over the spot, lays two earthen saucers one with bread and the other with water, bathes and goes home. Either on the tenth or the twelfth day the chief mourner goes to the burning ground and has his moustache shaved. He then takes a nimb branch, dips it in oil, and with it touches the shoulders of the four corpse-bearers, asking them at the same time ‘Are the shoulders rested?’ and they answer ‘ They are rested.’ [The Marathi is ” Khande utarle kay?” ” Hoy, utarle. “] When they go home a mutton feast is held. A Bhat who is called in, sings songs and leaves with uncooked food and money. His nearest relations present the chief mourner with a turban and he is free to go out. The Kolis have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Labourers: Labourers include six classes. They are: Kalals, Kamathis, Khatiks, Lodhis, Pardeshis and Raddis.

Kalals: Kalals or distillers are in the town of Sholapur. They are said to have come into the district from Lucknow in search of work. They are dark and strong. They are vegetarians as a caste. They marry their children at any age but their girls generally before they come of age. They burn their dead and mourn ten days. On the tenth day they offer rice balls to crows and beg them to eat, and on the twelfth the caste is feasted. They practise polygamy but do not allow widow marriage. On the death of the husband the widow’s necklace and nose-ring are taken off, but her head is not shaved and she is allowed to wear bangles. A headman called either mukhi or shetya settles all their social disputes.

Kamathis: Kamathis are found in small numbers over the whole district. They have come from the Nizam’s country since the beginning of British rule. They are tall, dark and robust, and their young women are good-looking and healthy. A few speak Telugu, but the majority of them speak Marathi. They are an active, hard-working and frugal people. They are masons, husbandmen, gardeners, messengers, blacksmiths, carpenters, house-builders, painters, stone-cutters, grain-sellers, money-lenders and money-changers. Most of them are labourers, both men and women working for daily hire.

Their boys are married between eleven and fifteen and their girls between nine and eleven. The boy’s father sends a present to the girl’s to ask if her parents will give their daughter in marriage. If they agree, a Deshasth Brahman is called, the horoscopes of the boy and girl are laid before him. He advises the desirability of the engagement and fixes the date of betrothal. Formerly the marriage used to be celebrated with a lot of fan-fare which is very much on the decline. At the time of marriage the boy stands on the altar and the girl is made to stand before him face to face and a cloth is held between them. The Brahman repeats verses and the guests keep throwing grains of jvari on the heads of the boy and girl. When this is over the boy and girl are husband and wife. They are seated on low wooden stools near the altar and round their wrists threads are bound to each of which is tied a turmeric root and a marriage paper or patrika. The boy and girl then go into the house and bow before the house-gods. A feast is given, betel is served and the guests withdraw. Next morning the boy and girl are taken to the girl’s and friends and relations are feasted. On the third day comes the sada or robe ceremony when the boy’s father presents the girl with a robe and bodice and ornaments, and the girl’s father presents the boy with a turban and waist-cloth. The boy and girl are seated on horseback, [ Now that the girls are married after about 15 years of age, they are not seated on horseback.] taken to the village god, and brought back to the girl’s house where they bow to the elders of the family and to the house-gods and the boy’s parents take the boy to their house with the girl. The wedding ends with a feast or two at the boy’s to the girl’s friends and the untying of the turmeric bracelets and the marriage papers. Widow marriage is allowed. The man makes the offer of marriage, and the wedding generally takes place between ten and twelve at night in the presence of a few near relations. It is kept secret till next morning when a few kins-people and friends are asked to dine.

When a Kamathi dies butter is rubbed on his head and warm water is poured over his body, a silk cloth is tied round his loins, his body is sprinkled with red powder and betel leaves, flower garlands are thrown round his neck, the Jangam marks the brow with cowdung ashes, and the body is laid on a bamboo bier. The body is covered from head to foot with a white cloth, it is raised by four persons, musicians head the party and the son walks in front of the bearers with an earthen fire-pot. The Jangam walks in front blowing a conch-shell. The body is burnt, and the Jangam retires with a present of a couple of coppers. At the end of the three days the ashes are searched for footprints, and the marks are supposed to be those of the animal into which the spirit of the dead has passed. After examining them the ashes are gathered and thrown into the river. Mourning lasts ten days. On the thirteenth a feast is given to caste-fellows including the corpse-bearers, or if the heir is poor only the bearers are asked. The Kamathis are Shaivs. The men mark their brows with ashes and sandal and the married women rub theirs with red powder. They worship the ordinary Hindu gods, and visit Banaras, Jejuri, Nasik and Pandharpur. They worship the cholera and small-pox goddesses Mariamma and Pochamma and Musalman saints or pirs. They keep the usual Hindu holidays. They wear neither the sacred thread nor the ling. Their priests are Deshasth Brahmans and they treat both them and Jangams with great respect. They have house-images of Ambabai, Khandoba, and embossed plates or taks of their dead ancestors whom they daily offer flowers and cooked food. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Khatiks: Khatiks or butchers are found in large towns and villages all over the district. They believe they came into the district a number of generations ago. They are like Marathas and speak Marathi both at home and abroad. They are hard-working and are more restless and active than other low class Hindus. They are fond of show and pleasure and are rather extravagant. Most are mutton butchers, but some trade in sheep and goats buying them and sending them to Bombay. They worship the same gods as Marathas and their priests, whom they treat with no great respect, are Deshasth Brahmans. They keep the same fasts and feasts as Marathas, believe in witchcraft and sorcery, and have the same marriage and other rites. They have a caste-council and their headman is styled a mhetre.

Lodhis: Lodhis are found scattered over the whole district. They are Pardeshis and are dark, tall and strong. They speak Hindustani at home and Marathi and Kanarese with others. They are a hard-working people, but intemperate and improvident and wanting in courtesy and hospitality. They are cart-drivers, thatchers, fuel-sellers, tillers, and day-labourers. Their family-deities are Ambabai and Khandoba, and they generally keep no fasts. They allow widow marriage, practise polygamy, and either bury or burn their dead. They mourn ten days, offer balls to the crows on the twelfth, and if well-to-do, give a caste-feast. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Pardeshis: Pardeshis, literally foreigners, chiefly Brahmans and Rajputs from upper India, and their children by local Maratha mistresses, who also call themselves Rajputs, Pardeshis, or Deccan-Pardeshis, are found in large towns and villages all over the district. They have come in considerable numbers since the railway has made travelling easy. They are strong, dark and tall. Some of the men wear the beard and others whiskers; others again both shave the head and the face. They speak Hindustani with a mixture of Marathi. A few of them have north Indian wives who dress in a petticoat and a bodice fastened either in front or behind and an upper robe with which they carefully hide the face. They are proud, hot-tempered, clean, faithful, thrifty, obedient, strong and brave and will face any danger to save their employer’s life and property. They show no attachment to their illegitimate children and mistresses, and some of them desert them and go back to upper India. Many, however, marry Maratha girls and settle in the district. They keep sweetmeat, parched grain, and fruit shops and are tillers, barbers, shoe-makers, potters, washermen, milkmen and labourers. The Brahmans act as priests to their countrymen. They are a saving people and are seldom in debt. They are generally Shaivs but they worship all Hindu gods and goddesses and keep the regular fasts and feasts.

They marry their boys between twelve and twenty-five. They nave a betrothal ceremony before marriage. At the marriage they rub the boy and girl with oil and turmeric at their homes, and as telsadas or oil robes, the fathers-in-law present the boy and girl each with a white cloth, ten and a half and seven and a half feet long. The boy goes on horseback to the girl’s and is there presented with a new waistcloth which he puts on. In the marriage hall a post is fixed in the ground and near it is set an earthen jar full of cold water covered with an earthen lid in which a dough lamp is kept burning. The boy and girl are made to stand face to face, a cloth is held between them, the priest repeats verses and the priest and the guests throw rice on their heads and they are husband and wife. The sacrificial fire is lit, and the marriage ends with the boy and girl walking seven times round the earthen jars. Feasts are inter-changed and the boy walks with the girl to her new home. Pardeshis burn their dead, mourn ten days, offer rice balls on the eleventh, the mourners become pure on the twelfth, the sacrificial fire is lit on the thirteenth, and thirteen earthen pots each with a copper coin in it, a piece of white cloth seven or eight feet long, and a betel packet are presented to thirteen Brahmans, along with wheat, butter and pulse. They have a caste-council.

Raddis: Raddis are found over the whole district. They speak Telugu at home but Marathi outside and eat fish and flesh. They sell scented oils, powders, tooth paste and frankincense sticks, and also cultivate. Their chief objects of worship are Ganesh, Ishvar, Jamblamma, Mallikarjun and Vyankatraman, and their priests are Telugu Brahmans. They marry their girls between eight and ten, are impure for twenty-one days after the birth of a child, worship the goddess Satvai on the third and name the child on the thirty-fourth. At the time of marriage at the girl’s the boy and girl are seated on low wooden stools set on the two altars, they are touched by an iron bar which is laid between the two stools, and verses are read over them by the priest. After an exchange of feasts the boy leads his bride to his house where they are again seated on altars. They either bury or burn their dead and mourn ten days and on the tenth shave the chief mourner’s moustache. They offer rice balls on the tenth and feast caste-fellows either on the twelfth or thirteenth.

Unsettled tribes: Unsettled tribes include eight classes, [The Census of India, 1971, has enumerated the following Scheduled Tribes in Sholapur district, besides some unspecified tribes:-

(1) Barda, (2) Bhil, (3) Gamit, (4) Gond, (5) Kathodi, (6) Kokana, (7) Koli-dhor, (8) Naikda, (9) Pardhi, (10) Pomia and (11) Vitolia.] viz., Berads or Ramoshis, Bhamtas, Bhills, Kaikadis, Katavdis, Phasepardhis, Vadars and Vanjaris.

Berads: Berads or Bedars are found over the whole district. Like Mahars, Mangs and others who serve as village watchmen Berads are sometimes called and sometimes call themselves Ramoshis. They arc divided into Berads and Helgas who neither eat together nor intermarry. They are dark and either stout or strongly made. They arc idle, hot-tempered and impudent. Their most binding oath is taken on bhandar or turmeric. Their main calling is village watching. Some arc husbandmen and others labourers. The chief objects of their worship are Ambabai, Jotiba and Khandoba, and their priests are the village Brahmans. Betrothal among them is the same as among cultivating Marathas. A day before the marriage booths arc raised at the houses both of the boy and of the girl, the marriage guardian or devak consisting of leaves of five trees or panchpalvis is worshipped, a sheep is offered, at night a feast is held, and the boy and girl are rubbed with turmeric at their own houses. On the marriage day the guests are feasted at the girl’s, the couple are presented with clothes and ornaments, and made to stand on an earthen platform or ota and a curtain is held between them. A Brahman, who acts as priest, repeats verses, rice is thrown over their heads and they are husband and wife. They allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. Their funeral ceremonies are the same as those of cultivating Marathas. Their headman called naik or leader settles all social disputes.

Bhamtas: Bhamtas or pick-pockets are found solely in towns. They look like high caste Hindus, and speak a mixture of Hindustani, Gujarati and Marathi. They have the same rules about food as Marathas, eating the flesh of sheep, goats, fowls, hare, and deer. Formerly when they used to start on a thieving expedition either in gangs or singly the men dressed in silk-bordered waistcloths and shouldercloths, coats, coloured waistcoats, and big newly-dyed turbans with large gold end dangling down their backs and folded either in Maratha or Brahman fashion. Both men and women were petty thieves and pick-pockets. But now they have taken to other pursuits, and no more follow their hereditary calling.

Bhils: Bhils were probably outside beggars or labourers. It is said that no Bhils are settled in the district.

Kaikadis: Kaikadis are found in towns and large villages. They are divided into Jadhavs and Manes, who eat together but do not intermarry. They speak Marathi with a mixture of other words. [Among the non-Marathi words are, Rati for bhakar bread, telni for parti water, pal for dudh milk, tat for dhanya grain, gomda for gahu wheat, seja for bajri millet, yersi for tandul rice, mor for dahi curds, nai for tup clarified butter, shakri for sakhar sugar, balle for gul molasses, ta for de give, ita for nahi no, ba for ye come, ho for ja go, od for dhav run, and nankot mi duila for maj javal kahi nahi I have got nothing with me.] They were hereditary thieves and robbers but have now taken to other pursuits. They eat pork, sheep and goats and drink liquor. They make the reed sizing brushes which are used by weavers, they also make snares for catching birds and deer, and their women plait baskets of the branches, leaf, fibres and stalks of the tarvad (Cassia suriculata)tree. They plait twigs of the same material into wicker work. and cages for storing grain, and sell them and beg at the same time. Some have lately taken to tillage. Their favourite deities are Bhavani, Khandoba, Narsoba and Vithoba and their priests are the ordinary Brahmans. Their wedding guardian or devak is the mango and the umbar (Ficus glomerata)twigs of which they bring home, worship and offering a sheep, feast the caste at least a couple of days before the marriage. They either burn or bury the dead. The four corpse-bearers are held impure for five days, and are not only avoided by others but do not even touch each other. Except the chief mourner who is held impure for five days the other members of the family mourn for three days only. They make an image or tak of the dead, set it in the family shrine with the other gods, and worship it on Dasara and on Divali. They allow widow marriage, the widow during the ceremony being seated on a bullock’s saddle. A caste-council or panch settles social disputes.

Katavdis or Katkaris: Katavdis or Katkaris, that is, catechu-makers, are found in Madha only. They are not permanent residents of the district but occasionally come during the fair weather from below the Ghats in search of work, especially the picking of groundnuts and return to their homes before the rains.

Phansepardhis: Phansepardhis or snarers are found wandering over the district. They are an unsettled tribe. The men do not shave the head, and let the beard, moustache, and whiskers grow. They speak a mixture of Gujarati, Marathi, Kanarese and Hindustani. The men dress in short drawers, a tattered turban, and short shouldercloth with which they often cover their bodies. The women dress in a robe and out-of-doors put on a bodice which generally reaches to the waist. They wear ear, nose, neck, hand, and foot ornaments generally of bell-metal and brass. They are a strong, hot-tempered and cruel people. They are hunters and snarers and are very skilful in making horsehair nooses in which they catch almost all birds and some animals. They prepare and sell cotton cakes and sell fuel. A few are husbandmen and watchmen and the rest work as day-labourers and beg. Their favourite deities are Ambabhavani, Jarimari, Khandoba and all other village gods, and their chief holidays are Shimga and Dasara. Among them betrothal takes place a day to a year or two before marriage. On the marriage day the boy and girl are made to stand side by side, the hems of their garments are tied together by seven knots, a white sheet is held over their heads, and the village Brahman repeats verses. At the end he throws rice over their heads and the boy and girl are husband and wife. The Brahman retires with a money present, the caste is feasted with split pulse and wheat cakes both by the boy’s and the girl’s fathers, and the marriage ends by the boy taking the girl to his house. They have a headman called naik or leader, and settle social disputes at caste-meetings. A person accused of adultery or other grievous sin is told to pick a copper coin out of a jar of boiling oil. If he picks the coin out without harming his hand he is declared innocent; if he refuses to put his hand into the jar, or if in putting it in his hand is burnt, he is turned out of caste and is not allowed to come back.

Vadars: Vadars are found scattered over the district. They are divided into Gada or Cart Vadars, Mati or Earth Vadars, and Pathrat or Stone Vadars, who eat together and inter-marry. Cart Vadars take their name from their low solid-wheeled stone-carrying carts, Earth Vadars because they do earth work, and Stone Vadars because they quarry and dress the stone. They are dark, tall and regular-featured. Their home-tongue is Telugu, but with others they speak Marathi. They eat the flesh of sheep, goats, fowls, hogs and rats of which they are specially fond. They drink liquor but do not eat beef. They keep from animal food on Fridays and Mondays in honour of their gods Narsoba and Vyankoba. Their dress is like that of other low caste Hindus. As a class Vadars are hard-working, thrifty, hospitable and orderly, but rude, drunken, hot-tempered, and of unsettled habits.

They worship the usual Hindu gods and goddesses, and their chief object of worship is Vyankoba of Giri or Tirupati in North Arkot. They worship Mariamma, Narsoba, Padmava and Yallamma. Among their house-gods are the images of their deceased ancestors, generally square flat metal plates with turned edges and a figure stamped on them. They worship them with the same rites as other Hindus, washing them, rubbing them with sandal, throwing flowers over them, burning incense before them and offering them cooked food. They have no priests, but ask Brahmans to name their children and to fix a lucky day for their children’s marriage. They keep the regular Hindu fasts and feasts. They make pilgrimages to Pandharpur, Tuljapur and Vyankatgiri in North Arkot. They generally marry their boys after twenty and their girls after sixteen. An unmarried girl who has a child is put out of caste and is not allowed to come back. They allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. They have no music at their marriages, exchange no presents of clothes, and do not rub the boy and girl with turmeric. They say they used to have music, presents, and turmeric, but gave them up because a man who was sent by one of their chiefs to buy clothes for a wedding on his way to the town saw by the roadside the lower half of a stone handmill. He lifted the stone and under it saw a beautiful naked girl, the goddess Satvai. The girl told him to put back the stone. He was confused by her beauty, failed to obey and was struck dead. The chief waited for a time and had to go on with the marriage without the presents. When the marriage was over they searched the country and found the dead man. Since then they have never used turmeric, music or presents. Vadars are bound together by a strong caste-feeling and settle their social disputes at caste-meetings.

Vanjaris: Vanjaris are found in all sub-divisions. They are tall, dark and rather good-looking, and their women are healthy and well-made. They speak Marathi. Some of the men eat the flesh of goats and sheep, and drink liquor, but the women touch neither liquor nor flesh. They marrytheir children at any time between five and thirty but girls are generally married between twelve and twenty. Their marriage ceremony lasts five days and they rub the boy and girl with turmeric at their houses, at least couple of days before the marriage. Marriage halls are raised at both houses and kins-people and caste-fellows are feasted. On the marriage day the boy with kins-people, friends and music goes to the girl’s on a bullock and they are married, the marriage verses being repeated by a village Brahman. Feasts are given at both houses and when the feasts are over the boy goes with his wife on a bullock to his house with kins-people and music. They allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. They generally burn their dead, and mourn ten days, offer wheat cakes and balls to the crows, and purify themselves. The ceremony ends with a caste-feast on the thirteenth. They worship Ambabhavani, Mahadev and Ramchandra, and also non-Brahmanic gods as Mariai, Mhasoba and Vaghoba whom they generally fear. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts, and there has been no recent change in their religious beliefs. They settle their social disputes at meetings of the caste-men.

Depressed Classes: Depressed classes include four castes, [The Census of India, 1971, has enumerated the following eleven Scheduled Castes in Sholapur district, besides some unspecified castes:-

(1) Bakad, (2) Bhangi, (3) Chalwadi, (4) Chambhar, (5) Chenna Dasar, (6) Dhor, (7) Holar, (8) Mahar, (9) Mang, (10) Mang (group A) and (11) Mang Garudi.] viz., Dhors, Halalkhors, Mahars and Mangs.

Dhors: Dhors or tanners are found over the whole district. The founder of the caste is said to have been the sage Lurbhat who was born of an Aygav father and a Dhigvar mother. They are divided into Maratha and Lingayat Dhors who do not eat together or intermarry. In each division families having the same surname eat together but do not inter-marry. They are generally dark with round faces, thick lips and straight black hair. Both at home and abroad most speak Marathi, and the rest speak Kanarese at home. They are hardworking and hospitable but intemperate and dirty. They work in leather, cut and dye skins, make saddles, shoes and water-bags, and till the ground. They are fairly off. They are religious and keep house-deities, generally Bahiroba, Bhavani and Khandoba. Their priests are the ordinary village Brahmans whom they greatly respect. They fast on every lunar eleventh and on Shivratra. The Lingayat Dhors who are a small body are invested with a ling by a Jangam soon after birth. Their teacher or guru, who is a Lingayat, visits them occasionally. Except the Lingayats, Dhors held their women impure for ten days after child-birth. In their customs they differ little from Marathas. Their guardian or devak is formed of the branches of five trees or panchpalvis, which they tie to a post in the marriage booth. At the time of marriage the boy is made to stand on a grind-stone and the girl facing him in a basket on a coil of thick plough rope, belonging to her father’s field. A quilt is held between them, the Brahman priest utters some words and throws grains of rice over their heads and they are husband and wife. They are then seated on an earthen altar in the marriage hall, and to keep evil, married women draw near and each in turn takes a few rice-grains in her hands and throws them over the boy’s and the girl’s head, body, knees and feet. The hems of their garments are knotted together and they are taken on a bullock to the village Maruti, and to the boy’s. They allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. They either buryor burn the dead, and mourn ten days. The chief mourner shaves his moustache and the body is carried on the shoulders of two bearers in a blanket or coarse cloth slung on a pole. Lingayat Dhors as a rule bury the dead, do not shave the mourner’s moustache, and observe no mourning. Their headman is called Mhetar and their social disputes are settled at caste-meetings.

Halalkhors: Halalkhors orscavengers are found in all municipal towns. They are Hindustanis and have come into the district since the establishment of municipalities for whom they work as night-soil men. They are tall, dark and thin, and speak Hindustani. Their priests are ordinary village Brahmans who during the marriage stand at a distance and repeat the texts. They have a caste-council.

Mangs: Mangs are found all over the district. According to their tradition they are descended from Jambrishi, and their ancestors came into Pandharpur at the same time as the god Vithoba. They say that their high priest or chief Dakalvar, who lives in Karwar in North Kanara, knows their whole history and occasionally visits them. They are divided into Mangs proper, Mang Garudis, Pend Mangs, Holar Mangs, Mochi Mangs, and Dakalvars. Of these, the first are considered the highest, and their leavings are eaten by Holars and Dakalvars. The Dakalvars say they are the highest branch of Mangs and that the others profess to despise them to punish the Dakalvars because they refused to touch the other Mangs. This story seems unlikely as Dakalvars eat the leavings of Mangs and Nade Mangs and no Mang will touch them. At the same time some sanctity of power is attached to the Dakalvars as no Mang will ever swear falsely by a Dakalvar. As a class Mangs are tall, some of them as much as six feet high, dark and strongly made, and the white of their eyes is generally bloodshot. They generally speak Marathi both at home and abroad. Their Marathi accent and intonation are rough and coarse and sometimes unintelligible. They live by themselves in a quarter known as the Mangavada, separate from the Mahars, the hereditary rivals and enemies of their tribe. The Mang Garudis or snake-charmers, being a wandering class of jugglers, have no fixed dwellings. They are passionate and revengeful at times. They are hard-working, unthrifty, dirty, and fond of pleasure.

Mangs make thin cord or charate of ambada (Hibiscus cannabinus)or hemp and of kekti or Sweet Pandanus, ropes, date brooms, slings for hanging pots in and also slings for throwing stones with and bullock-yoke straps. They are carpenters, brick-layers, musicians, songsters, beggars and labourers. Mangs rank lowest among Hindus and will take food from any caste except Bhangis. Mangs do not eat from the hands of twelve castes, of which the only ones the Sholapur Mangs know are Ghadshis, Jingars, Mahars and Buruds. They are not a religious people. Their chief deities are Ambabai, Jotiba, Khandoba, Mahadev, Mariamma and Yallamma. Their fasts and feasts do not differ from those of Maratha cultivators.

They marry their children very young. Their betrothals do not differ from Mahar betrothals, the girl being presented with a bodice and robe and clothes are exchanged between the two fathers. Mang marriages take place during Vaishakh and Jyeshth that is in April, May and June, and on days when Brahmans perform their marriages. [For details of the marriage ceremony refer to the former edition of the Sholapur Gazetteer.] Mangs generally bury the dead. When any one dies fire is lit in the front part of the house and water heated over it in a new earthen jar, and the body is bathed and then laid on a bier, red powder and betel leaves being sprinkled over it. The chief mourner walks in front with an earthen fire-pot and music, and the mourners follow. The body is buried and some rituals are performed at the burial-ground as well as the deceased’s house. They allow widow marriage and polygamy. They have a headman called mhetrya and settle social disputes at meetings of the leading members of the caste. They levy fines and spend the amount on a caste-feast. Till the feast is given the offender is not allowed back into caste.

Mahars: Mahars are found over the whole district. They are divided into Advans, Bavans, Godvans, Kadvans or bastards, Soms and Tilvans, who except the Kadvans all eat together and intermarry. Of these divisions, the Soms or Somvanshis are the most numerous. Their surnames are Jadhav, Jugle, More, Shelar and Sarvgod. They are generally tall, strong, muscular, and dark with regular features and low foreheads. Mahars are Shaivs and Vaishnavs and worshippers of goddesses. Most of them are Vaishnavs and worship Bhavani of Tuljapur, Chokhoba, Jnyanoba of Alandi, Khandoba of Jejuri, and Vithoba. They also worship the usual Hindu gods and goddesses and Musalman saints especially the ancestral Cobra or Nagoba, the small-pox goddess Satvai, and the cholera goddess Mariai whose shrines are found in all Mahar quarters. They go on pilgrimage to most of the places mentioned above as well as to the shrine of Shambhu Mahadev in Satara. Their religious teachers are Mahar gurus and sadhus or gosavis. They have also Mahar vachaks or readers who read and explain their sacred books, the Bhaktivijay, Dasbodh, Jnyaneshvari, Harivijay, Ramvijay, Santlila and the poems of Dnyanoba, Tukoba and others. The readers also preach, and repeat marriage verses when a Brahman is not available. The gurus, sadhus, vachaks and Mahar gosavis all belong to the Mahar caste and some of them are very fluent preachers and expounders of the Purans. Any one of these lecturers who maintains himself by begging may become a guru or teacher. Every Mahar both among men and women has a guru; if they have no guru they are not allowed to dine in the same line with the sadhus. A child is first brought to be taught by its guru when it is about a year old. The rite is called kanshravni or ear-whispering and more commonly kanphukne or ear-blowing. Mahars in the past used to marry their girls sometimes when they were infants and always before they came of age, and their boys sometimes before they were twelve and seldom after they were twenty. They had no rules forcing them to marry their girls before they came of age. Now however they marry their boys and girls after coming to age. Among them the magni or asking the girl’s parents to give their daughter in marriage is the same as among Marathas. On the marriage day the boy, with kins-people, friends and music, goes to the girl’s sometimes on horseback or on an ox. On reaching the girl’s the girl’s brother or some other near kins-man leads the boy into the house and seats him on a blanket. The girl is brought by her sister or some other Kins-woman and seated on the blanket beside the boy. The guests of both houses feast at the girl’s. He dresses in the new clothes and takes his stand on a wooden stool near the blanket. The girl stands on another stool facing him, and each of them holds aroll of betelnut and leaves in both hands. A cloth is held between them, the boy and girl stretch out the tips of their fingers till they touch on either side of the cloth or below the cloth and the village priest from some distance, or if not one of their own holy men repeats marriage verses. When the last verse is over the guests throw over the couple’s heads rice mixed with the rice which the Brahman astrologer gave the fathers at the time of settling the marriage day. The cloth is pulled on one side and five persons hold it over the pair’s heads.

For four days, including the marriage day, the boy stays at the girl’s and feasts are held. On the evening of the fifth comes the sada or robe ceremony when the boy’s father presents the girl with a robe and bodice, a necklace of black glass beads with a gold bead in the centre, glass bangles, and silver toe-rings. The boy and girl are seated on the laps of their maternal uncles and bite the ends of a black thread. At night a procession is formed and the boy and girl are paraded through the village with kins-people, music and dancing. The marriage is over and the guests go home.

They allow and practise widow marriage and polygamy. Mahars generally bury the dead. The body is shrouded in a new cloth, laid on the bier, and sprinkled with red powder and betel leaves, and grains of rice arc tied to one of the hems of the cloth. The body is carried to burial on the shoulders of four kins-men who as they pass say ‘ Ram’ ‘ Ram’ in a low voice. The chief mourner walks in front with fire in the new earthen jar and music if he has the means. The mourners follow. The body is buried in the graveyard and some rituals are performed. Like Marathas Mahars keep the death-day, when crows are fed with rice and a dish of molasses. They settle social disputes either by a council or panchayat composed of the foremost members of the caste, under the hereditary headman called patil, or by a caste meeting.

Beggars: Beggars include thirteen classes, viz., Balsantoshis, Bhats or Thakurs, Dasaris, Dauris, Gondhalis, Gosavis, Jangams, Joharis, Kolhatis, Kudbuda Joshis, Vaghyas and Murlis and Vasudevs.

Balsantoshis: Balsantoshis or children-pleasers are found only in Sangola. They look and speak like cultivating Kunbis, and do not differ from them in food, dress or customs. They are fortune-tellers and weather prophets. They wander about the streets in the early morning, turn into some house, and shower blessings on the children always ending with Balsantosh, bless the babies. In religion they are the same as Marathas, keep the same fasts and feasts, and employ the ordinary village Brahmans as their priests. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Bhats or Thakurs: Bhats or Thakurs are found all over the district. According to their tradition they were created from the sweat of Shiv’s brow and were driven out of heaven because they persisted in singing Parvati’s instead of Shiv’s praises. They look like Marathas and speak Marathi. They are intelligent, patient, and hospitable. They earn their living by repeating the songs called banis and kavits, reciting stories, and begging. Their customs are the same as Maratha customs. Boys are girt with the sacred thread at the time of marriage. They are Shaivs, worship the usual Hindu gods as well as Dhanai, Janai, and Jogai, and other early and village deities, and go on pilgrimage to kharsun Shiddh in Mhasvad thirty-five miles west of Pandharpur. Their priests are the ordinary Maratha Brahmans whom they greatly respect. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Dasaris: Dasaris or slaves are found wandering over the whole district. They are a dark, tall people whose home-tongue is Kanarese though they speak Marathi with others. They move from place to place and seldom own houses. They are a dishonest, hot-tempered people and work as beggars, musicians and dancers. When they beg they wear bells round their feet and carry a drum and two metal cups or cymbals in their hands. Their family-deities are Ambabai and Yallamma, and they keep no fasts. They have a priest or guru who lives in Telangana. Their marriage ceremonies are like those of Marathas. They allow widow marriage and burn the dead. They settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Dauris: Dauris or the daur drum beaters are found in towns and large villages. Their surnames are Jadhav, Mane, Povar and Salunke. People with the same surname eat together but do not inter-marry. They offer their food to their gods before eating and do not touch it till they have called on one of their Navnaths or Nine Saints, and blowing a small wooden whistle or shingi. Both men and women dress like Marathas. They have the peculiar practice of hanging a wooden whistle about an inch and half long round their necks fastened to a woollen string which reaches to the navel. They are beggars, and beg and perform the gondhal dance with a daur drum in their hand. Except that the girl is made to stand on a grind-stone laid in a basket, and the boy facing her in another basket in which a coil of rope is laid, the Dauris’ marriage customs are the same as those of Marathas. They bury the dead, carrying the body in a cloth or blanket slung on a pole resting on two men’s shoulders, and repeating Shiv, Gorakh, Jade. They mourn three days and on the seventh or ninthgive a feast called bhandara. They allow widow marriage. In religion they belong to the Nathpanth sect of Gosavis. They keep in their houses metal plates engraved with figures of Ambabai, Bahiroba and Jotiba. Their priests are Maratha Brahmans, and they keep the usual Hindu fasts and feasts. Their religious house is on the banks of the Godavari and their teacher visits them once every year or two, when he is feasted.

Gondhalis: Gondhalis or gondhal dancers are found all over the district. They are a set of wandering beggars recruited from all castes, and are generally children offered to goddesses in fulfilment of vows. Their surnames and guardians are the same as those of Marathas and they look, speak, eat, drink and dress like Marathas. They beg and perform at the houses of Brahmans and other Hindus whose family-goddesses are Ambabai, Bhavani, and Durga, either before or after a marriage or on the fulfilment of a vow. The men cover their bodies with shells and go begging with a thick lighted torch soaked in oil. They wear a long flowing coat smeared with oil and daub their brows with red powder and on their heads wear either a long flowing turban or a cap covered with tassels and rows of shells. They are sometimes accompanied by one or two men who do not cover themselves with shells but carry a one-stringed fiddle or tuntune and a drum or samel, and metal cups or cymbals. They tie a number of brass bells to their feet, and while singing, dance and wave the lighted torch away from the house or shop, saying ‘ may evil go and my lord be happy ‘. [The Marathi runs: ” Idapida javo, maharaj sukhi raho. “] Their customs are the same as Maratha customs and they worship goddesses more than gods. Their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans to whom they show great respect. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Gosavis: Gosavis or passion lords are found over the whole district. They are divided into Bajaran, Bharathi, Giri, Kanphate, Puri, Sagar, Sarasvati and Tirthashram, who have their religious houses at Allahabad, Banaras, Dwarka, Giri and Puri. Most of them are hereditary Gosavis, the children of wandering beggars, but they admit members of any caste and of both sexes. They are generally dark. They are sluggish, hot-tempered and greatly feared as sorcerers. They arc notorious as sturdy beggars and a few trade in cloth, pearls, and cattle, til and are money-lenders and bankers. They are either Shaivs or Vaishnavs, carry images of their gods with them and worship them whenever they halt. When a woman wishes to marry the chief part of the ceremony is the exchange of necklaces by the bride and bride-groom. After marriage the woman wanders with her husband. Boys marry between sixteen and twenty, and girls between twelve and fourteen. They bury the dead, dressing the body in an ochre cloth and burying it sitting with a quantity of salt, and on the head bel leaves if the dead was a Shaiv, or tulsi leaves if a Vaishnav. They never mourn the dead. Their only funeral service is on the thirteenth a feast to caste-fellows including the four corpse-bearers. They allow widow marriage. They have a headman. In cases of disputes they go to Allahabad, Banaras, Dwarka or other places where their people gather and settle the disputes according to the opinion of the majority.

Jangams: Jangams or Lingayat priests are found in small numbers over the whole district. Almost all have come north from the Kanarese country. Their home-tongue is Marathi. They neither eat flesh nor drink liquor. Both men and women wear a ling in a small box or shrine hung round the neck, bound round the upper right arm, or hid in the folds of the headcloth. Jangams are clean, sober, thrifty, even-tempered, hard-working and hospitable. They are traders and shopkeepers, selling almonds, sugarcandy, spices, cocoanuts, oil, butter, molasses and drugs, and also beg. Their chief god is Mahadev and they fast on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as on ekadashis or all lunar elevenths and observe the usual Hindu holidays. After the birth of a child the family remains impure and worship goddess Satvai. They tie the ling round the child’s arm hung from its neck or laid under its pillow. They do not gird their boys with the sacred thread, and they marry their girls between ten and twelve and their boys between twelve and twenty. They rub them with turmeric daily for five days before the wedding and marry them on a lucky day fixed by the village astrologer. Their marriage guardian is a bunch of mango and jambhul (Syzigium jambolanum)leaves, tied to a post in the marriage hall. Their priests are Maratha Brahmans who repeat marriage verses and throw rice over the heads of the boy and girl. Feasts are held for five days, and at the end the boy takes the girl with him, and visits the village Maruti, and goes straight with his wife and relations to his village. They allow widow marriage and bury the dead. When a person dies red powder is rubbed on his face, and he is carried to the burying ground in a blanket hung from a pole which is carried on two men’s shoulders. On the spot where the dead breathed his last, a pot full of water is laid and the mourners when they return from the burial-ground bring in their hands a few blades of grass, throw them on the pot, rub their brows with ashes, and return to their homes. A shraddh or mind-rite is performed at the close of the year. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Joharis: Joharis are found in the towns of Pandharpur and Sholapur. They are said to have come into the district from northern India during the times of the Peshwas. About twenty families numbering in all one hundred and twenty-five came in search of work and settled near Sholapur. They are divided into Agdode, Ardhaduba, Badgujar, Bam, Bhati, Bhayad, Dasivant, Digva, Gadria, Gaud, Gujar, Kapsya, Kativale, Mathian, Pathivan, Rathod, Sarvativale, Shishode, Sonya Rathod, Suni and Thak. They are and look like Pardeshis and speak a mixture of Gujarati and Hindi. In food they are vegetarians. They sell pearls, corals, diamonds and other precious stones, and glass beads. They buy old gold and silver lace and embroidered clothes, burn them, and extract the gold and silver. Their women keep small haberdashery shops selling wooden and tin boxes, combs, glass beads of different sizes and colours, needles, thread, buttons, marbles, looking glasses, tops, whistles, dolls and small brass cups and dishes. They worship Khandoba, Mahadev, Satvai, Vithoba, Vyankatesh and Yallamma and other Hindu deities, and keep Sundays, Gokulashtami in August, and Shivratra in February as fast days. Their priests are Kanauj Brahmans, and in their absence the ordinary Deshasth Brahmans officiate at their houses.

A few wear the sacred thread and generally marry their girls before they come of age. At the time of marriage date leaves are tied to the brows of the boy and girl as marriage ornaments, and they are made to stand on wooden stools, face to face and after repeating marriage verses and throwing rice-grains, they are husband and wife. The priest kindles the sacred fire and the boy feeds it with parched grain. Feasts are interchanged, and, followed by kins-men, friends and music, the boy starts with his bride for his home either on foot or on horseback. They do not allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. They burn the dead and mourn ten days, feed crows, and offer rice balls in the name of the deceased, the deceased’s father and the deceased’s grandfather. They have a caste-council and settle social disputes at caste-meetings.

Kolhatis: Kolhatis or Dombaris, rope dancers and tumblers, are found scattered in towns and large villages. They have no sub-divisions and their surnames are Andhare, Jadhav, Pavar and Sankeshvar, who eat together and inter-marry. According to their story the founder of their class was a man who was named Nat or dancer and nicknamed Kola, born of a Teli father by a Kshatriya mother. They have no tradition about coming into the district or of any former home. Their chief settlement in the district is at Mankeshvar in Barshi. They are active and dark. They also make hide combs and gunpowder flasks. Their women, besides singing and dancing, make and sell rag dolls. They are a wandering people. The women wear a long rich robe and a tight-fitting bodice and have gold, silver and brass ornaments. As the boy’s father has to pay the girl’s father a dowry, two families, if they can make a double marriage and so avoid the expense. Two or three days before marriage a sheep is offered to the village god and the caste are feasted. Next day a marriage hall is built, two earthen pots are white-washed and worshipped, a bunch of mango-leaves is tied to a post in the marriage hall called their guardian devkarya or devak. The boy and girl are rubbed with turmeric at their home and bathed by kins-women who sing songs. On the marriage day the boy with kins-people and music walks to the girl’s and touches her brow with red powder or kunku. The pair are made to stand on low wooden stools facing each other, and the Brahman repeats some words and throws grains of rice over their heads and they are husband and wife. No dinner is given but large quantities of liquor are drunk. The women dance and sing the whole night. Next day the fathers knot the hems of their clothes together, and taking the boy and girl on their shoulders, carry them to the village Maruti before whom they bow. They are then taken to the boy’s house, where the hems of the fathers’ garments are untied and the boy and girl call each other by their names. A large feast is held, and quantities of flesh and liquor are taken. They bury the dead, carry the body sitting slung from a pole on the shoulders of four men. On the third day funeral ceremonies arc performed and a dish of rice, split pulse, salt, and oil is prepared. Six months after, the caste is feasted on wheat bread and split pulse. They worship Ambabhavani, Hanuman, Khandoba, and the cholera goddess Mariai, but their favourite, and, as they say their only living gods are the bread-winners or hunger-scarers the drum, the rope, and the balancing pole.

Kudbuda Joshis: Kudbuda Joshis or Kudbud-playing astrologers are found wandering over the whole district. They occasionally come to the district from the Konkan and are a class of Maratha astrologers and beggars who wander playing on an hourglass-shaped drum called the kudbud. Their surnames are Bhosale, Chavhan, Jadhav and Povar and families of all these surnames eat together and inter-marry. They look, dress and speak like Marathas. They wander from house to house and village to village beating a drum. They know how to read and write, foretell events by referring to a Marathi calendar which they carry rolled in their turbans, and tell fortunes from lines on the hands. On the marriage day the guardian or devak, which is the leaves of five trees or panchpalvis, is tied to a post of the booth along with a hatchet, two wheat cakes, and an earthen lighted lamp. A sheep is offered to the guardian and the caste is feasted. The boy and girl are rubbed with turmeric at their homes, and the boy goes on horseback to the girl’s, where both the boy and girl are made to stand in bamboo baskets half full of rice and a curtain is held between them. The Brahman priest hands red rice to all the guests, and chants marriage verses, and at the end along with other guests throws grains of rice over the couple’s heads and the boy and girl are husband and wife. Kudbudas allow widow marriage and practise polygamy. They bury their dead, the body being slung from a pole carried on the shoulders of two men. On the third day wheat bread, rice and milk are laid on the spot where the dead was buried. They mourn the dead ten days and feast caste-fellows on the twelfth. Their chief deities are Ambabhavani, Bahiroba and Shidoba. Their priests are Maratha Brahmans to whom they pay great respect.

Vaghyas and Murlis: Vaghyas are found in the larger towns. They are divided into Maratha, Dhangar and Mahar Vaghyas, of whom the Marathas and the Dhangars eat together but do not inter-marry. The surnames of the Maratha Vaghyas are Chavhan, Dhaigude, Jadhav, Kare and Shinde. Like Murlis, Vaghyas are children of Marathas, Dhangars and Mahars whose parents have vowed them to the service of the god Khandoba. Both boys and girls are devoted as Vaghyas; only girls become Murlis. Vaghya boys and girls can marry; a Murli cannot marry as she is Khandoba’s bride. Vaghyas generally marry into their father’s caste, but there is no objection to the inter-marriage of a Vaghya boy and Vaghya girl. Their children are Vaghyas and marry with their father’s caste. The child is always dedicated in Khandoba’s temple of Jejuri in Pune on any day in the month of Chaitra or April-May. When parents have to dedicate a boy to Khandoba they go to Jejuri, stay at a Gurav’s house and perform the dedication ceremony under his religious guidance. Vaghyas are considered Khandoba’s disciples, and Marathas and other middle and low caste Hindus bow down to them. They have to go to Jejuri once every three years. They beg loitering in the streets ringing small bells in their left hand, singing, and rubbing turmeric on the brows of passers-by. Sometimes a Murli goes with them. If the Murli is clever and good-looking the people give, otherwise Vaghyas get little. Their religious, ceremonial, and social observances are the same as those of Marathas.

Murlis, literally flutes as if instruments on which the god may play, are found over the whole district. They are divided into Maratha and Mahar Murlis. The following details apply to Maratha Murlis:- They are like Maratha women, most of them plain and somewhat harsh-featured, many of them pleasant-looking, and some of them handsome. Their home-tongue is Marathi. They keep Vaghyas in their houses to dance, to take care of them and as servants. They eat fish and flesh and are fond of liquor. They wear a flowing robe and a tight-fitting bodice; they mark their brows with red and turmeric powder, and wear gold and silver ornaments. Their special ornament is a necklace of nine cowrie shells. They are clean, neat and hospitable, but idle, dishonest and given to drink. They are beggars, singing and dancing with bells in their hands. They generally go with two or three Vaghyas who beat small drums or dafris. The Vaghyas dance and if the Murli is handsome the entertainment is popular. The Murli sings songs generally indecent in praise of Khandoba. While singing she suddenly seats herself in the lap of one of the listeners, kisses him, and will not go till she is paid in silver. Murlis like Vaghyas are generally children whose parents have vowed them to Khandoba’s service. Others are married women who leave their husbands and even their children, saying they. have made a vow to Khandoba, or who are warned in a dream that they should be the brides of Khandoba, not of men. Middle and low class Hindus respect and bow before the true Murli who was wedded to the god as a girl; they look down on women who leave their husbands and children to play the Murli. Girls whose parents have vowed them to Khandoba are married to the god between one and twelve and always before they come of age. When she is to be married to Khandoba her parents take the girl to Jejuri sometimes in Chaitra or April-May. At the temple the girl is bathed, the god is rubbed with turmeric and the rest of the turmeric is rubbed on the girl. The girl is dressed in the new robe and bodice, green glass bangles are put round her wrists, and flower marriage ornaments or mundavals are tied to her brow. The god is worshipped, the turban and sash are presented to him, and the Gurav, taking in his hands a necklace or gatha of nine cowrie shells, fastens it round the girl’s neck. This is called the gatha phodne or breaking cowrie necklace. When a Murli comes of age she sits by herself for four days. Then she looks for a patron. She lives with her patron fifteen days to a month and afterwards, if he wishes to keep her he settles with her. Murlis have house-images, generally or Bahiroba, Bhavani, Jotiba, Khandoba and Satvai. Their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans. They keep the usual Hindu fasts and settle social disputes at meetings of Vaghyas.

Vasudevs: Vasudevs are found over the whole district. They are dark, tall and regular-featured, and speak Marathi. They dress like Marathas, the women wearing the robe without tucking the skirt behind. The men beg dressed in a long crown-like hat with a brass top and surrounded with peacock feathers, a long white coat and trousers. They dance and sing while begging, playing on several musical instruments and blowing a whistle. They train their boys from infancy and by fifteen they are expert dancers and singers. Their house-deities are Bahiroba, Bhavani, Jotiba and Khandoba, and their priests are ordinary Maratha Brahmans. Their marriage and death customs are the same as Maratha customs. They allow widow marriage.

Castes: The Hindu community is found divided into various socially differentiated groups better known as castes. In consonance with changes in government policy, the Census enumeration has ceased to take cognisance of these groups since 1941. However, of the ninety or more castes enumerated in the district in 1931 the following ones could be considered as important. (Figure of male and female population are given in bracket against each caste and its traditional occupation, arranged alphabetically).

Ahir, graziers. (3.092: 2,555): Bahana, cotton carders. ((2,529; 2, 543); Banana-Hindu and Jain traders. (5, 486: 4,733); Badhai, carpenters. (7,653; 7,494) Bhoyer, agriculturists. (1,989; 1,906): Brahman, Priests. (21, 494; 16, 344); cambhar, leather-workers. (5,074; 4,979); Darzi, tailor. (2,029; 1,984): Dhirmar, water-Bearers, (11, 871; 11,698);Dhobi, washermen, (4,583; 4, 589); Gond-Hindu; agriculturists. (21,546; 21, 801); Gond-tribals, (4, 925; 4, 730) Govari, graziers. (11, 020; 10,940): Kalar, distillers,(5,278; 4,969); Kayastha, writers, (1,028; 928); Kosti, cotton-wavers, (23, 822; 23,327); Kumbhar, potters, (2,172; 2,166); Kunbi, agriculturists, (89,934; 86, 345); lodhi, agriculturists, (4,652; 4,604); Lohar, iron smith, (6,202; 6,049); Mali, vegetable and fruit growers, (17,366;16,708); Mana, agriculturists. (2,308; 2,345); Mang, native musicians, (4,523; 4,659); Maratha, soldiers, (5,081; 4,877); Mehra; cotton-weavers, (82, 360; 82, 477); Mehtar, scavengers, (2, 314; 2,175); Mhali, barbers. (5,468; 5,554); Pardhan, tribal-priests, (3,009; 5,398); Rajput, soldiers, (6,650; 5, 398); Sonar, goldsmiths, (5,716, 5,778); and Teli, Oil-pressers, (40,317; 39,625)

Of these the most numerous casts in the district in 1931 were the Kunbis, the Mehras or Mahars, the Telis, the Gonds, the Kostists, the Brahmans, the Malis, the Dhimars, the Govaris, and the Barhais who constituted respectively about 19, 17, 8.5, 5.6, 5.4, 3.6, 2.5, 2.3, and 1.6 per cent of the population.

Speaking generally about these castes the old District Gazetteer of Nagpur (1908) states: the most numerous castes in the district are the Kunbis constituting 20 per cent of the population, and the Mahars or Mehras 16 per cent. Brahmans are the largtest proprietors and own 750 villages or a third of the total number and next to them come Kunbis with 440. The bulk of the population are of Maratha extraction, but in the north of the district there is a fair sprinkling of Hindustani castes, Kirars, Lokhis and Raghvis, who have come down from the Satpuda plateau, and thise are the best agriculturists. Gonds are the only forest tribe, constituting 6 per cent of the population, but many of them have taken to work in the mines, and as cookies and porters in towns, and except in features are hardly distinguishable from Hindus. The reminder live principally in the tracts adjoining the Satpuda hills to the north.

The old Gazetteer describing at some length these caste-groups makes some pertinent observations about them. Written as early as ds1908 the account derives now some historical value and it is worth while to mention a part of it which to some extent still holds good.

Brahmans: Of the Brahman community the majority consisted of maratha Brahmans of Desastha sub-caste, whose home is Poona country above the western Ghats. As distinguished from the Konkanasthas who belong to the Bombay Konkan or littoral, and the Karhades from Satara and the north. These are further divided into sects such as Rgvedis and Yajurvedis according to the Vedas from which the prayers which they recite are taken. Inter-marriage was formerloy prohibited among these sub-castes. Maratha Brahmans generally use three names. Their own Christian name. Their father’s and their surnames. They have also a gotra or exogamous group named after a Rsi or saint of Vedic times.

Mr. Craddock describes the Maratha Brahmans as follows:- ‘as traders, moneylenders they fall far below the ideal standard. As clerks and officials they are second to none, and they almost monopolise the subordinate appointments in Government service. An outsider in an office largely manned by Maratha Brahmans stands a very small chance of success.

Excellent judges of character themselves, they are past masters in concealing their own thought. Their abhorrence of practial and mechanical work is also beginning to give way. Bragmans have become thoroughly practical as well as scientific agriculturises, and have also taken to engineeridng and othr professions.

Marathas: The Marathas are castes formed from military service, and it seems probable that they sprang mainly from the pesant population of Kunbis and followed sivaji in his guerilla warfare aginst the armies of Aurangzeb. In the Central Provices the Marathas are divided into 96 exogamous clans which marry with each other. But the Bhosle Rajas selected seven of the highest clans including their own, and confined their alliances to these. The names of these clans are Bhosle, Gujar, Mohite, Sirke, Mahadik Phalke and Ahirrav. Now that the authority of the ruling chief has been removed, this arrangement, though still commonly observed. Has in some cases been violated. The Marathas proper seclude their woman, do not permit them to wear silver ornaments on the arms or to spin cotton, and prohibit widow-marriage.

Speaking about the Maratha families connected with the Bhosles Mr. Craddock observed:-

Many of them own villages or hold tenant land, but as a rule they are extravagant in their living; and several of the told Maratha nobility have fallen very much in world. …… The sons are brought up to no employment and the daughters are married with lavish pomp and show. ……. It is a question whether thir pride of race will give way before the necessity of earning their livelihood soon enough for them to maintain or regain some of their former position; thorerwise those with the largest landed estates may be saved by the intervention of Government, but the rest must gradually deteriorate till the dignities of their class have become a mere memory. The humble members of the caste find their employment as petty contractors or traders, private servants, government peons, sowars and hangers-on in the retinue of the more important families.

Kunbis: The kunbis, the traditional tillers of the soil, have several sub-castes, of whom the Tiroles are considered the highest. These generally held offices of Desmukh under indigenous rule, and the Desmukh families have taken to marrying among themselves and prohibiting widow-marriage. The Manes and Dhanojes are the lowest sub-divisions. Manes appear to be Manas who have become Kunbis; the Dhanojes are probably an their name from the term Bavan, formerly applied to Berar; and the Khaires from the occupation of boiling catechu from the bark of the Khair tree.

Speaking about this caste. Mr. Craddock remarked: ‘to the outside world the Kunbi is regarded as the embodiment of the agriculturist and the term Kunbi and become the generic name for professional cultivator. He is certainly a most plodding. Patient mortal with a cat-like affection for his land. Some of the more intelligent and ffluent of the caste, who have risen to be among the most prosperous member of the community, are as shrewd men of business in their way as any section of the people, though lacking in education. But of the general body of the kunbi caste it is true to say that in the matterof enter prise, a capacity to hold their own with the money-lender, determination to improve their standard of comfort or their style of agriculture, they lag far behind the cultivating classes as the Kirar, the Raghvi and the Lodhi. However, he is muchtheir superior in endurance under adversity, is more law-abiding, and commands both by reason of his character and caste, greater social respect among the people at large.

Northern Cultivating Castes: ‘The Kirars, Raghvis and Lodhis’, Mr. Craddock remarked, ‘are exceptionally good cultivators and represent the immigrants from Hindustan (upper India), as distinguished from Kunbis who are much given to display. Extravagance ruins a great many of the community and they have no compunction about preying on each other. Still, with all their faults they take high place among the cultivators, a position which would be impossible if they had no compensating virtue.

The Raghvis who are but Raghuvansis of Chindvada have by their pushing charactedr occcupied the most fertile tracts of the Saoner and Narkhed country. Though of Rajput descent, they are of mixed blood, and have split off into a separate caste. Some have a sect of their own and have gurus or priests, discarding Brahmans. Though fond of comfort a Raghvi combines a good deal of thrift with it, and whatever may happen to other classes, he will never give way to the money-lender.

The Lodhis are good cultivators and generally men of strong character. But their constant family feuds and love of faction militate against their prosperity.

Kostis: Among the artisan-castes the principal are the Kostis who are still engaged in the production of finer kinds of cotton cloth. They are found in great number generally in Nagpur, Umrer and other smaller towns. The old Gazetter reproduces a description of the community from the Nagpur Settlement Report which though may strike as quaint at present pictures well a situation arising at the time an artisan caste had to face in inception of mechanized labour and factory life. The account says-

“The Kosti is an inveterate grumbler and indeed from his point of view he has a great deal to complain of. On the one hand the price of raw cotton and th3e cost of his living have increased very largely: on the other hand the product of his loom commands no higher price than it did before and he cannot rely on selling it when the market is slack. He cannot adapt himself to the altered environments and clings to his loom. He dislikes rough manual labour, and alleges, no doubt with truth, that it deprives him of the delicacy of touch needed in weaving the finer cloths. If prices rise he is the first to be distressed, and on relief works he cannot perform the requisite task and has to be treated with special indulgence. The mills have been established many years in Nagpur, but very few of the older weavers have sought employment there. They have begun to send their children but work at home themselves, though they nearly all use machine-spun yarn. The Kostis are quarrelsome and addicted to drink and they have generally been the chief instigators of grain riots when prices rise. They often marry several wives and their houses swarm with a proportionate number of children. But although the poorer members of the community are in struggling circumstances, and are put to great straits when prices of food rise, those who turn out the finer sill-bordered work are fairly prosperous in ordinary times.. Though riotous, the Kostis are not physically strong… they are a religious caste and are divided into numerous sects. Some are Kabirpanthis, other Lingayats and Sivites. In Nagpur they have two or three other sects, one of which consists of the followers of a local saint Koliba Baba-a miracle-worker. As already stated the Kostis marry a number of wives to obtain their assistance in spinning-work and in the preparation of the frame of the warp. Without several assistants a weavers business does not pay at present, and a wife is really a factory hand. Well-to-do Kostis buy or occasionally steal as many women as they can, and cases in which wives are sold or mortgaged are by no means unknown.”

Mahars: Mahars or Mehras formed about 17 per cent (1931) of the population. “Looked down upon as outcastes by the Hindus, they are hampered by no sense of dignity or family prejudice. They are fond of drinking but are also hard workers. They turn their hands to anything and every thing. But the great majority to them are agricultural labourers. If there is only one well in the village he may not use it but has to get his water supply from where he can. His sons are consigned to a corner in the village school and the schoolmaster, if not superior to caste prejudice, discourages their attendance. Nevertheless Mahars will not remain for years down-trodden in this fashion and are already pushing themselves up from this state of degradation. In some places they have combined to dig wells and in Nagpur have opened a school for member of their own community”. Occasionally a Mahar is the most prosperous man in the village. Several of them are money-lenders in a small way and a few are malguzars.

A large number of the Mahars have turned to Buddhism following the lead given by Dr. Ambedkar and call themselves as neo-Buddhists. In schools, colleges and in Government services a number of seats are reserved for them and economic aiod is given. Gonscious and painstaking efforts by social workers to create a proper social attitude as also by the members of their own community to come up in various spheres have helped to overcome the former prejudices, and a new trend has begun.

The other important castes in the district are the Telis, the Malis, the Dhimars, the Govaris and the Barhai.

Telis: Telis, the occupational caste of oil pressers and sellers though found in great number in the district have now generally abandoned their hereditary trade and have taken to agriculture, the number actually engaged in oil-divisions. On Nagpur side the principle sub-division are the Ekbaile and the Dobaile, so called because they used to yoke one or two bullocks, respectively, to the oil-press. The distinction is still maintained, the Dobaile being also known as Tarane. Each sub-caste is divided into a number of exogamous groups for the regulation of marriages. The names of the groups appear to be taken either from villages or titles or nicknames. The derivation of most of them cannot be deciphered except for a few such as Baghmare(Vaghmare). A tiger-killer; Deshmukh, a village officer; Vaidya, a phusician; Bavankule, the fifty-two steps; Satpute, seven sons; Caudhari, a caste headman; and Sonicar, born on Saturday. The marriage of persons of the same sent and of first cousin is usually forbidden. Divorce and widow-marriage are permitted. The caste especially revere Mahadev or Siva, who gave them the oil-mill. They do not work the mill on Monday, because it is Mahadev’s day. Like other low castes the Telis of Nagpur make the sacrifice of a pig to Narayan Dev or the Sun God at intervals. The social status of the Teli was in t he past consdered low, in the group of castes from which Brahmans would not take water, and below such menials as the blacksmith and carpenter. The Teli was considered a caste of bad omen. The proverb says,’God protect me from a Teli, Cambhar and a Dhobi, and the Teli was considered the most unlucky of the three.

The opening up of oil-mills have robbed a number of them of their traditional occupation. However. The Telis are a very enterprising caste. And the great bulk of them have abandoned their traditional occupation and taken to other to other which are more profitable. Many of them have became money-lenders in a small way, and some have even acquired property. They are also shopkeepers and petty traders travelling about the goods like the Banjaras.

Mali: Mali, the functional caste of vegetable of flower gardeners, derives the name from the Sanskrt Mala, a garland. The caste has numerous endogamous groups, varying in different localities. The Phulmalis, who derive their name form their occupation of growing and selling flowers (phul), usually rank as the highest. The Jire Malis, are so named because they were formerly the only sub-caste who would grow cumin (Jire), but this distinction no longer exists as other Malis, except perhaps t he Phulmalis, now grow it. The caste has also exogamous septs or vargas, with designations taken from villages, titles or nicknames or inanimate objects. Marriage is forbidden between members of the same sept and between first and second cousins. Girls were once betrothed in childhood and married before maturity. The marriage ceremony follows the standard form prevalent in the locality. Widow-marriage is permitted. Like other castes practising intensive cultivation the Malis once married several wives where they could afford it. The dead may be either buried or burnt: in the former case the corpse is laid with the feet to the north. Devi is the principal deity of the Malis, weddings being celebrated in front of her temple.

The Mali combines the callings of a gardener and nusery man. In laying out a flower-garden and in arranging beds he is an expert. Many Malis live in the towns and keep vegetable or foler-garden just outside. Thy sell flowers, and the Mali girls are very good flower-sellers. The mali also prepares the Maur or marriage crown both for the bride and the bridegroom at marriages.

Dhimar: Dhimar, the caste of fishermen and palanquin –bearers derives the names from a corruption of the Sanskrt Dhivara, a fisherman. It has a large number of sub-divisions of a local or occupational nature. The Singadia or those who cultivate. Singada nut; the Nadha or those who live on banks of streams, and the Dhurias who sell parched rice. A large number of exogamous group are also returned, either of titular or totemistic nature: such as Baghmare or Vaghmare, tiger-slayer; Godhve, a vulture; and Kolhe or Jackal. Marriage is prohibited between members of the same sept and also between first cousins. In many localities families do not intermarry so long as they remember any relationship to have existed between them. Two families may exchange daughters in marriage. A custom exists among the poorer Dhimars of postponing the marriage ceremony to avoid expense: a man will thus simply take a girl for his wife, making payment of Rs. 1.25 or so to her father and giving a feast to the community. She will them live in the house as his wife, and at some subsequent date, perhaps in old age, the religious ceremony will be held so that the couple may have been properly married before they die. In this fashion the weddings of grandparents, parents and children have all been celebrated simultaneously. Widow-marriage is freely permitted; divorce is allowed, but is of rare occurrence. Adultery on the part of wife will be frequently overlooked, and the extreme step of divorcing her is only taken if she creates a public scandal. When a widower marries a second time his wife sometimes wears a tawiz or amulet round her neck in order to ward off the evil machinations of her predecessor’s spirit. Dhimars usually bury the dead, cremation being beyond their means.

The occupations of Dhimar are many and various. Primarily he is a fisherman and a boatman. He is adept in various methods of river-fishing and is also regularly employed as a worker on a ferry. He monopolises growing Singade or waternuts in tanks; also grows melons, cucumbers and other vegetables on the sandy stretches along the banks of streams, but at agriculture proper he does not excel. The Dhimar’s connection with water has led to his becoming the water-carrier for Hindus. Another business of the Dhimars is to take sweet potatoes and boiled plums to the fields in harvest times and sell them; he also supplies water for drinking to the reapers and receives from them shares in payment. With the introduction of wheeled transport the Dhimar’s or Bhoi’s occupation as carriers of palanquins or litters has dwindled. Because of his comparative social purity all castes will take water and cakes and sweetmeats from a Dhimar. The Dhimar is often seen selling parched grain and rice to travellers in markets and railway stations.

Govari: Govari the herdman or Grazier caste corresponds to the Ahirs or Gavlis. The name is derived form gai or gao, the cow, and mean a cowherd. Many of the caste have largely abandoned the work of grazing cattle in the forest and have taken to more profitable business of making milk and ghee. They have three divisions, the Gai-Gavari, Inga and Maria or Gond-Govari, the Gai or cow Govari being considered the higehst. The Govaris have exogamous sections of the titular and totemistic types, such as: Cancamia from cacan, a bird; Lohar form loha, iron; Ambadare, a mango branch: Kohria fom kohri or Kohli caste: and Sarwaria, and Gond sept. some septs do not permit inter-marriage between their between their members, saying that they are Dudh-Bhais or foster-brothers. Marriage is prohibited within the same section or Kul, and as mentioned above between sections related to ecach other as Dudh-Bhais. Girls are usually married after attaining maturity, and a bride-price is paid by way of grain, cash and cloth. The auspicious date of the wedding is calculated by a Mehra mohturia or soothsayer. Brahmans are not employed the ceremony being performed by the bhanya or sister’s son of either the girl’s father or the boy’s father. The wedding is held mainly according to the Maratha ritual. Divorce and the remarriage of widow are permitted. The dead are either buried or burned being more common. The principal deities of the Govaris are the Kade Kodvan or deeitied ancestors. All Govaris revere the haryal or green pigeon calling it a kinsman. The community has a caste committee the head of which is known as sandia. He is elected and holds office for life.

Badhai: Badhai, the occupational caste of carpenters is naturally most numerous in large towns. The name Badhai is said to be from the Sanskrt Vardhika and the root vardh, to cut. Sutar is a common name of the caste, and is from Sutra-Dhara, meaning a holder of string, referring to the strings used in planning and measuring. The caste is of comparatively recent growth as is shown by its sub-divisions. There are sub-castes like Pardesi or foreigner, so also Jat and Teli Badhais, consisting of Jat and Telis (oil-pressers) who have taken to carpentry. The castes are also divided into exogamous septs named after villages. In some localities they have no septs, but only surnames, and persons of the same surname cannot intermarry. Brahman priests are employed at weddings, though on other occasions their services are occasionally dispensed with. The caste worship Visvakarma, the celestial architect, and venerate their implements on the Dasara festival. In some localities well-to –do members of the caste have begun to wear the sacred thread.

In cities the carpenters are rapidly acquiring an increased degree of skill as the demand for a better class of house and furniture becomes continually greater and more extensive. In villages he works as a village artisan and makes and mends plough and harrow and other wooden implements of agriculture for which he receives annual contribution of grain from each cultivator.


  1. As in the other Berar Districts the great cultivating caste of the Kunbis preponderates; they number 227,000 or an average of more than one in every three of the population. Next in numerical importance are the Mahars, who number 70,000 or 11 per cent. of the population, and the Malis with 47,000 or 8 per cent. The Malis are an important cultivating caste while the Mahars are chiefly employed as agricultural labourers or on menial posts and as village watchmen; the weaving of coarse cotton cloth is also a speciality of the caste. Other castes strongly represented in the District are Brahmans (19,000), Dhangars (18,000), Wanis (15,000), Wanjaris (13,000), Rajputs (13,000), Telis (13,000) and Mangs (11.500). The Brahmans occupy the highest social position; they hold high Government appointments and are also largely represented among the village accountants. The Dhangars follow their traditional occupation of tending sheep and are also engaged in agriculture. The Wanis are in a small way the chief traders and moneylenders, and in their latter capacity they have obtained a hold over much valuable land. The Wanjaris, whatever their origin may have been, have now settled down to agriculture, and it is probable that the bulk of the Rajputs and Telis are likewise engaged. The Mangs are the well-known menial caste. The Kolis (9000), a caste of somewhat doubtful origin, have also taken to agriculture. The village servant and artisan castes are represented by the Mhalis (7500), Chambhars (8000), Sonars (6000), Sutars (6000), Shimpis (4500), Dhobis (4000), Rangaris (3500), Kumbhars (4000), Lohars (2800), and Dohors (2500). The Baris (6ooo) are the pan cultivators, and the Marathas (6000) follow a variety of occupations. The Banjaras (4000) are the remnants of the old caste of carriers whom the advent of the railway has gradually driven to other pursuits.

Social position of the various castes.

  1. The following table was drawn up by Mr. Kitts in 1880 to show the relative social Position, good or inferior of the chief castes [The castes marked with an asterisk are not mentioned in Mr. Kitts’ table.]:—

Castes of good social standing.

Castes of inferior social standing.


Sutar, Lohar, Jirayat.*


Hatgar, Koshti, Rangari.

Kayasth and Parbhu.

Beldar, Kumbhar, Panchal.



Vidur, Golak.*

Teli, Dhangar.

Gurao, Jangam.


Gosawi, Bairagi, Jogi, Joshi.


Bhat, Thakur.

Koli, Andh,* Gond.*

Sonar, Kasar.





Pathrats,* Takaris.*



Gaoli, Wanjari, Mali.

Kolhati, Pardhi

Bari, Lodhi.

Burud, Khatik, Waddar,


Chambhar, Dohor.

Mahar, Bedar.

Mang, Bhangi.*

Castes of good social standing.

  1. In social position the Brahman stands first. He is,’ says Manu, ‘ by right the chief of this whole creation. He is born above the world, the chief of all creatures.’ The Kayasth and Parbhu are regarded, probably by reason of their hereditary occupation, as superior to the Wards or trading castes. Among; the latter the traders from Gujarat take the highest; social rank; and those from Marwar are placed above the Komtis, Lads, and Lingayat Wanis. After the Wanis come the half-castes, Vidur and Golak, who get this position by reason of the Brahman blood in their veins. According to some authorities, the Kunbi ranks next after those already mentioned: according to others, his place is lower. Kunbis, however, in many parts of Berar, have a higher social status than they possess in parts of the adjoining Presidency. Jangams and Udasis rank with Wanis. Guraos, the attendants in the temples of Siva and Maroti, are slightly inferior to them, and below the Guraos come the religious mendicants. Bairagis, the smaller and more fanatical sect, are ranked below Gosawis. After the Bhats and Thakurs, or village bards and genealogists, come the highest artisan castes, those of the Sonar, Kasar and Tambatkar castes, or workers in gold, brass and copper, respectively. Other artisans rank below the Kunbi. The position assigned to the Manbhaos is questionable. The Shimpi, or tailor caste, is also ranked above the Kunbi: it owes its position in some measure to the general intelligence and education diffused among its members. The castes of Weavers and dyers resemble it in this respect. Although the Kunbi is ranked below the castes already mentioned, this position is certainly much lower than would be claimed by, or conceded to, many divisions of the caste. The Gujar, for example, takes rank above other agriculturists; but a Kunbi who claims Rajput descent, and probably also a Kunbi who calls himself a Maratha, would object to yield him this precedence. The precedence among the different divisions of a caste is certainly as intricate a question and as difficult to determine as the social position of the caste as a whole. A ‘ Maratha ‘ deshmukh often rejects the name of Kunbi altogether: he would scorn to be classed with the base-born Akaramase, and would probably claim a position immediately succeeding that of the Rajput. The Kunbi of Berar corresponds with the Kapu, or cultivator caste of Telingana, and the Vellalar of the Tamil country. Almost on a par with the Kunbis in social estimation, although generally less prosperous, are the Gaolis. With them are ranked the Wanjaris, a well-to-do and respected caste engaged in agriculture; they claim to be, and locally are, distinct from the Banjara—carrying castes, in rites, customs, dress and features. They are slightly superior to the Malis. Inferior to the latter caste are the Baris and Lodhis. All these castes are of good social position, although the precise place at which the dividing line should be drawn must necessarily be a matter of somewhat arbitrary choice.

Castes of inferior social position.

  1. The Sutar, or carpenter, is sometimes considered superior to the worker in brass or copper the Lohar, with whom the Jirayat is on a par, is the lowest of the large artisan castes. The weavers and dyers rank next, Hatgars, or Bangi Dhangars, being however a higher caste than other Dhangars. Then follow the remaining artisan castes, the Beldar, Kumbhar and Panchal. The Beldars are a mixed race; their name means the mattock-workers; their position is therefore questionable, and varies from part to part. Some Beldars are said to be remnants of Pindaris. The Kumbhars, or potters, are a caste of long standing in the land, who have probably sunk lower at each invasion. The worship of the potter’s wheel, and the invocation of a potter as a layer of ghosts, indicate a feeling which can scarcely be of recent origin. Salivahan, the legendary founder of the Maratha nation, was, according to some accounts, a Kumbhar. ‘ His mother,’ says a legend quoted by Grant Duff, was ‘ the virgin daughter of a Brahman, who becoming pregnant by a snake of a sacred kind by a man of the Nagvansi race) was in consequence supposed to be disgraced, and was driven from her father’s threshold; but she was received into the house of a potter, by whom she was protected.’ The Panchals and Ghisadis are rough ironsmiths; they owe their low social rank to their poverty and vagrant habits. The Pathrats also belong to the same social stratum: they are a poor people: their lowly position shows that stone-dressing is not so honourable an occupation as metal-working or carpentry. The Kalal owes his low rank to his reprehensible calling: a priest may not eat the food of one who sells fermented liquors: drinking is one of the six faults which bring infamy on married women; and even eating what has been brought in the same basket with spirituous liquor is an offence which causes defilement. The Telis, on a par with whom are the Tambolis, are decidedly inferior to the large agricultural castes. The distinction between Tili and Teli, observed in Bengal, is unknown in Berar: although there are divisions, of which the Rathor Teli is the higher, within the caste it self. The Dhangars or tenders of sheep and goats, naturally rank below the Gaolis or cow-herds. The Halbis, who in Berar are a weaving rather than an agricultural caste, are socially on a par with Dhangars. Mhalis, or Hajams, probably owe their low position to their being village servants, obliged not only to shave the com-munity, but also to act occasionally as torch-bearers or as personal attendants. The low position assigned to the Gondhalis, the sect devoted to nocturnal song and vigil in honour of the local goddess Hinglaj Bhawani, marks the contempt inspired by neo-Brahmanism for the older local cult. The Kolis would scarcely take precedence of the Bhois, but that part of their number were reclaimed from a wild life at an earlier period than the rest; they ‘ have among them several substantial patels, and they have fairly reached the agricultural stage of society here.’ The Bhoi, or fishermen caste, ranks below the Koli. ‘The Warthi or Dhobi, or village washerman, comes low down on the social scale, probably because of his calling, and possibly also because, like the barber, he is fond of liquor. The castes which remain belong to a much lower level than any of the preceding. They are not so much socially inferior, as be-yond social notice altogether. The Banjaras are, in social estimation, on a par with Bhamtas (thieves): so that if the Wanjaris were originally the same people as the Banjaras, they have certainly achieved a wonderful rise in social rank, amid a population very conservative of social distinctions and differences. Decidedly inferior to the Banjaras, in the esteem of their neighbours, are the Kolhatis and Kaikaris, wandering tribes addicted to crime and immorality; the Chitrakathis, who are vagrant mendicants; the Pardhis, or Baurias of Upper India; and the Takankars, or Bagris. Below these again, or rather of equal inferiority in a different sphere, are various castes of settled habits. The Jingars, who make native saddles, and the Buruds, who work in’ bamboo, are socially on a par with the Khatik or Hindu butcher. The professional slaughterer of animals, not-withstanding the number of his customers, and not-withstanding that he never lifts his hand against the sacred kine, is placed near the foot of the social ladder. The Waddars, noted for their thieving propensities and fond of catching and eating vermin, are, in the villages of their own country, relegated to a separate quarter, which in appearance is not less poverty-stricken and squalid than that of the Mahars: in Berar they live in little pals; they rank below Khatiks The leather-working castes are superior to the Mahars; the lowest position of all is assigned to the Mangs and Mang Garoris.

Variety of opinion.

  1. The arrangement, which has been indicated, although as accurate as information will allow, must be partly conjectural The distinctive and segregative nature of the caste system, rendering each caste in social matters a world apart, renders at the same time any system of precedence between different castes to some extent un-necessary and impossible. With castes which never mix in social intercourse, their relative social rank, if nearly the same, must remain undetermined. The feeling on such matters may vary from taluk to taluk; probably it also varies from generation to generation. The wealth and rank attained by its prominent members may, even among so conservative a people, raise the social estimate in which a caste is held; the Wanjaris and Kolis are examples in point. The numbers of a caste produce a similar effect: and local opinion is therefore safest in its estimate of the local precedence of the largest castes. A brief description of the castes, whose representatives in the District at the last census numbered more than one hundred, is given below. Unfortunately the actual occupation followed by the members of each caste cannot be given, as the information was not obtained at the last census.


  1. The Andhs numbered about 3300 persons in the District at the census of 1901, of whom 2600 persons were returned from Mehkar taluk and some 700 from Chikhli. They are probably an aboriginal tribe, but nothing can be ascertained as to their origin, and they are not found in any other Province. They have now adopted nearly all the practices of Kunbis and are hardly distinguishable from them in dress or personal appearance. In social status they are generally considered to be only a little lower than the Kunbis, and cultivate in the ordinary manner like them. They employ Brahmans as their priests, and profess to be Vaishnavas by religion, wearing sect-marks on their foreheads. In religion, says Mr. Kitts, the Andhs are more Hinduised than other aborigines. They worship Khandoba, Kanhoba, Maroti, Bairam, and the goddess Elamma or Bhawani. Some worship Dawal Malak and others reverence Haji Saiyad Sarwar. But in two matters they appear to show their Dravidian origin. One is that they will eat the flesh of such unclean animals as fowls, pigs, rats, snakes, and even cats; while they abstain only from that of cows, monkeys and a few others. And the other, that they will re-admit into their caste Andh women detected in a criminal intimacy with men of such impure castes as the Mahars and Mangs. Widow-marriage is practised, but a widow is not permitted to marry the younger brother of her deceased husband. Divorce is not allowed by the caste on any ground. At the time of birth of a child the elderly females of the caste act as midwives. The mother remains impure only for seven days after the birth of a child. The caste burys its dead and performs the mourning ceremony on the tenth day, but they observe no shraddh.


  1. The Bairagis (400), lit. a person disgusted with the world, are wandering ascetics or beggars.


  1. The Banjaras numbered 4000, of whom 2776 were found in the Mehkar taluk. The numbers show a great fall, 9842 having been recorded at the census of 1891, of whom 7561 belonged to the Mehkar taluk. The Banjaras of Berar are the same people as the Lambadis of the Madras Presidency and the Manaris mentioned by Tavernier. They are supposed to be the people mentioned by Arrian in the fourth century B.C. as leading a wandering life, dwelling in tents, and letting out for hire their beasts of burden. Their home seems originally to have been the long tract of country under the northern hills from Gorakhpur to Hardwar. In Berar as in the Punjab the Banjaras are often, if not generally, known as Labhanas. Although the Charan division outnumbers the Labhanas, a Charan if asked his caste will answer Labhana, and, if asked what Labhana, will answer Charan Labhana. There are in all six divisions, four Hindu and two Musalman. The highest in rank of the Hindu Banjaras are the Mathurias, who claim to be Brahmans and wear the sacred thread. The Labhanas or salt-carriers evidently came from further north than other Hindu Banjaras. Their claim to be descended from Gaur Brahmans, when coupled with the details of their serpent worship as described by Tavernier, suggests that they are possibly connected with the Gaur Taga tribe. They are considered socially superior to the Charans. Like the Mathurias their women wear saris, while Charan women wear lahengas. They wear the sacred thread. The Charans are said to be of Rajput origin. The story of their creation by Mahadeo to replace the feeble Bhats is well known. Under their leaders Bhangi and Jhangi Naiks, they came first to this Province with the army of Asaf Khan in the campaign which closed with the annexation by Shah Jahan of Ahmadnagar and Berar. ‘ The two Banjara leaders had with them 190,000 bullocks, and in order to keep these well up with his force Asaf Khan was induced to issue an order engraved on copper and in gold letters, as follows:—

Ranjan ka pani, Chappar ka ghas,

Din ka tin khun muaf

Aur jahan Asaf Jan ke ghore,

Wahan Bhangi Jhangi ke bail,

which being freely translated runs: ‘ If you can find no water elsewhere, you may even take it from ranjans (pots) of my followers; grass you may take from the roof of their huts; and if you commit three murders a day I will even pardon this, provided that where I find my cavalry I can always find Bhangi Jhangi’s bullocks.’ The Duke of Wellington subsequently in his Indian campaigns regularly employed Banjaras as part of the commissariat staff of his army. On one occasion he said of them: ‘ The Banjaras I look upon in the light of servants of the public, the price of whose grain I have a right to regulate.’ The Charans do not allow infant marriage; they worship Mariai, the cholera goddess, and the famous bandit Mitu Bhukia, to whom in nearly every tanda a hut is set apart surmounted by a white flag. As a class the Charans are more indiscriminately criminal than the other two divisions, who in their crimes confine themselves to cattle-lifting and kid-napping. The original occupation of the Banjaras was to convey for sale articles for trade such as wheat, salt, rice, red ochre, etc., from one place to another on pack bullocks. When there were no railways, trade was monopolised by them. They have now been forced to settle down to ordinary labour and private service, and have of late years lost much of the evil reputation which formerly attended them.


  1. The Baris, that is, those who direct water, number 6000, of whom 5089 are found in the Jalgaon taluk. They are a caste whose specialty it is to keep pan-gardens, but they are also engaged in agriculture. They have a legend that at some former time at the Diwali festival the daughter of a Bari affixed a mark of vermilion to the forehead of a Kumbhar’s son who presented her with a creeper which she should cultivate and thereby earn her livelihood. In token of their gratitude the Baris still take water from the hands of a Kumbhar. A Bari will never give betel-leaves folded in a bundle to a Kumbhar as he will do to people of other castes. Infant marriage is also allowed. They both bury and cremate their dead. The corpse is laid in the grave on one side with feet to the north, head to the south, and face to the east. They place some food and an earthen pot filled with water for the use of the disembodied soul. A pan-garden can be cultivated successively for five years. In the sixth year they must change its site. The Baris eat fowls and eggs and take the flesh of a goat or sheep. Liquor is drunk both at the time of marriage and funeral rites. They can take food from the hands of a Kunbi, a Phulmali and a Brahman.


  1. The Bedars (1100) who are immigrants from the Carnatic have increased from 139 in 1881. They are a labouring caste.


  1. The Beldars (2000) are earth-workers who get their name from the use of the bel, or mattock in digging, and are principally found in the plain taluks.


  1. The Bhangis (400) are the Hindu scavenger caste and are employed almost exclusively as sweepers.


  1. The Bhois (2900) are fishermen. They still cleave to their hereditary caste occupations much more closely than is the case with many castes, and are consequently to be found where rivers or tanks supply them with fishing. They belong to the Dravidian family of aboriginal races. A Bhoi considers it pollution to eat or drink at the house of a Lohar, a Sutar, a Bhat, a Dhobi, or a barber; he will not even carry their palanquin at a marriage. Like the Pardhis the Bhois have forsworn beef but not liquor. like the Dhangars they wear tanwad ear-rings. Their women wear the toe-rings but not the nose-rings of Hindu women: like Gond women they wear brass bangles, which they do not remove, although they discard the black bead necklace during widowhood. Their funeral ceremony resembles that of Gonds. Cremation is rare. After a burial each mourner repairs to the deceased’s house to drink: each then fetches his own dinner and dines with the chief mourner. On the third day after the birth of a child the Bhois distribute to other children food made of juari flour and butter-milk. On the fifth day the slab and mortar, used for grinding the household corn, are washed, anointed and worshipped. On the 12th day the child is named and shortly after this its head is shaved.


  1. The Borekars (200) are a comparatively new caste as they were not mentioned in the census of 1881. They are practically confined to the Jalgaon taluk, and are mat-makers. At the time of marriage the bride and bridegroom are seated on mats prepared by the elderly persons of the caste.


  1. Brahmans (19,000) constitute 3 per cent. of the population. Almost all the Brahmans are Maharashtra Brahmans of the Deshasth, Konkanasth and Karhada subdivisions. The foreign Brahmans are mostly to be found amongst pleaders, munims and traders, whilst Berar Brahmans are chiefly to be met with in Government service, as patwaris and karkuns. The following note on Brahmans made by a former Deputy Commissioner of Akola is worthy of reproduction:—’ Brahman women are regarded by them as but a little lower than men. Their presence is required at many religious ceremonies. The husband publicly eats with his wife on the occasion of his marriage. Their funeral ceremonies are the same. In the ” worship of fire ” the wife may perform the ceremony alone should her husband be absent from home for a time, whereas the reverse is not the case. The tuition of girls is not general, certain hymns taught to boys may not be imparted to girls; although others, which it is considered derogatory for a boy to learn, are taught. Brahman widows may be known by their not having a red mark on their forehead; by their saris being white, red or yellow, and composed of either cotton, or silk; by their not wearing a choli, or glass bangles, or a mangal sutra; and by their heads being clean shaven. Although allowed to pray at the temples they are not allowed to take part in any religious ceremony of a festive nature. If their relatives are too poor to maintain them, Brahman widows are frequently employed by their caste people as cooks; and some- times they will secretly wash clothes for certain families, or gain a livelihood by grinding grain. The intellect of a Brahman is incisive rather than powerful; his peculiar characteristic is self-complacency. He considers no position too high or difficult; he knows that no act, however mean and bad, can prevent his re-admission into his own, the foremost caste. He is envious of those in power, even if placed there by himself. To his exclusiveness much of his influence is due: this, however, is gradually giving way to the requirements of the public service. Brahman schoolmasters, patwaris and others are obliged to reside in small villages where, if they are to have any society at all, they must forget their exclusiveness and mingle with Kunbis on a footing approaching equality.’ A Brahman, from his conception in his mother’s womb to his death, passes through twelve purificatory rites, three of which are most important and are performed by rich and poor alike. They are the investiture with the sacred thread, marriage ceremony, and funeral rites.

Thread ceremony.

  1. The thread ceremony called upanayan is performed when the boy is about eight years old. He becomes by this ceremony twice born and is entitled to study the Vedas. The boy is shaved, perhaps the only auspicious occasion on which shaving is allowed: and after a few ordinary ceremonies is invested with the sacred thread, and a piece of cloth is put around his loins. The father acts as acharya or spiritual teacher, and says that he hands over the boy bachelor to the sun, and invokes the aid of the sun to protect the boy. The prajapati, ‘ Lord of men,’ is also called upon to protect the boy. Then the boy is taught the Gayatri mantra. It may be thus rendered, ‘ We praise the noble strength of the Sun-god. May he propel our intellects.’ There is still a prejudice among Brahmans against repeating this sacred verse before a yavana or one who does not believe in the Vedas. Then a mekhala or ‘ girdle ‘ is tied round the boy’s waist. The girdle is praised as being lucky, dear to gods, and protector of truth, able to augment penance and withstand the demoniac influences. The girdle is called upon to protect the boy. The boy is also given a small palas stick. The boy accepts it, saying, that the stick may keep him, uncontrollable as he is, from going astray. The boy is then advised to observe the following:—

(a) Achaman (sipping) according to rites after each impurity, such as touching an out-caste.

(b) Not to sleep by day.

(c) To go to a teacher and learn the Vedas.

(d) To beg his food morning and evening.

(e) To offer sacred fuel (satnidh) to the fire, morning and evening.

(f) To lead a pure life of celibacy and study of: Vedas for a period of 12 years.

The boy begins his lesson that very day by begging his food from his mother. The rice thus given is now-a-days cooked and served to Brahmans.

Marriage ceremony.

  1. Out of the eight forms of ancient Hindu marriage only two survive. The commonest form is known as Brahma (approved), while the other is called Asuri (disapproved). In the latter form the father of the bride receives payment for giving his daughter in marriage. The marriage age is now later than it used to be, boys being married generally between fourteen and twenty, and girls between nine and twelve. The girl’s parents privately propose the match, and take from the boy’s parents his horoscope to compare it with the girl’s. The comparison is made either by the family priest or by some professional astrologer. Occasionally when a marriage is very much desired, the horoscopes are not consulted to avoid the risk of their not agreeing, and the marriage thus settled is called pritvivah or love-match. If the horoscopes agree a for-mal proposal is made by the parents of the girl regarding hunda (dowry), a fixed sum in cash, karni (presentation of clothes, etc., by one party to the other) and travel-ling expenses. The amount proposed depends upon the status of the father of the boy. As much as Rs. 2000 or Rs. 3000 is sometimes Raid by a Brahman of the upper classes. If the parties are on very friendly terms or are closely related, the dowry is sometimes not taken. The marriage ceremony is invariably performed within a few months after the betrothal, but before that several preliminaries are gone through, one of them being the ceremony called shal mundi, in which a shawl is given to the boy by some member of the girl’s family. On the day fixed for the marriage a curtain is held between the bride and bridegroom who are clothed in fresh yellow cotton robes and verses are recited for about half an hour. The curtain is then dropped and the parties see each other for the first time. The guests then generally leave the pandal. Two or three hours before the marriage ceremony takes place the ceremony of kanyadan is per-formed. The father and mother of the bride generally give her away to the bridegroom. The father of the bride recites the motives for the marriage, which are three:—

(1) that the father may go to heaven;

(2) that the souls of the manes may be liberated; and

(3) for procreation.

These formulas are repeated thrice, and at each re-petition the bridegroom assents, finally adding the words ‘ I take the girl for religious merit and procreation.’ The father of the bride then describes how he has nourished his daughter, and requests the bridegroom not to fall short of her in religious duty and desire, to which the bridegroom assents. Various gifts are then made to the bridegroom. Then follows the suvarn abhishek. Water from a pot in which gold, grass and leaves have been put is sprinkled by the priests upon the bride and bridegroom. At the same time they chant verses enjoining the parties to love each other, and the wife to obey the husband. After that cotton thread dyed yellow with turmeric is tied round the pair and verses representing the strength and glory of ancient India are recited. Half the threard is taken by the bride and tied round the wrist of the bridegroom and the latter ties the other half round the wrist of the bride. This ceremony is known as kankan bandhan. Then follows the akshada ropana. Wet rice is thrown by the parties on each other’s heads and prayers for wordly prosperity and religious merit are offered. A thread- is then tied round the neck of the bride by the groom, saying that it is the gift of her life and wishing her a life of 100 years. The marriage sacrifice (horn) is now made, sacred fuel, ghi, and fried rice being cast in the fire. Fried rice is then put in the palm of the bride’s hand by her brother, and the bridegroom, having added a morsel of ghi, seizes her hands and makes her throw the offering in the fire. He then with his right hand seizes her right wrist, and they both walk round the fire. The bride places her foot upon a slab of stone and a hymn is recited exhorting the bride to be as steady as the stone, be the attack of the enemy ever so strong. The stone is placed to the south, and the faces of the couple are turned to the east. This ceremony is repeated thrice. Then follows the saptapadi. Seven small heaps of rice are laid to the north, and a small pot of water is placed to the east. The couple stand at the first heap with their faces to the east. The bride touches the first heap with her right foot, and as they walk round each of the seven heaps mantras are repeated, of which the first runs thus:—’ Oh ! put your first foot and love me— we shall get many sons, may they be at the finish.’ The priests sprinkle them with water and bless them. This ceremony is the most important of the marriage celebration, and it is believed that when it is completed the. marriage is binding and cannot be revoked.


  1. The Buruds (200) are practically confined to the Khamgaon taluk. They are makers of baskets and matting.


  1. The Chambhars (8000) are leather workers. The Harale (or Marathe) Chambhars claim the highest rank. In religion they are devoted to Mahadeo, whom they worship on a Sunday in the month of Shrawan. The sadhu, who acts as guru to his flock, makes a visitation once every four or five years. They will eat pork but not beef, and drink liquor. They dye leather, and make shoes, mots and pakhals. They will not use uhtanned leather, nor will they work for Mahars, Mangs, Jingars, Buruds, Kolis or Halalkhors. If one of these buys a pair of shoes, they will ask no indiscreet questions, but they will not mend the pair as they would for a man of higher caste. Their womenkind work the silk pattern which adorns the native shoes.


  1. The Dhangars number 18,000 and the Hatgars 1067. In the Malkapur taluk the Dhangars number 6585. The Dhangar caste, to which the Holkar family belongs, are hereditary tenders of sheep and goats, corresponding to the Gadarias elsewhere. They are also weavers of woollen blankets, and a large number have settled down to agriculture. The Hatgars or Bangi Dhangars, that is, shep-herds with spears, were originally a division of Dhangars, but having adopted military service they became a, separate caste. They also have settled down to agriculture.


  1. The Dhobis (4000) otherwise known as Warthf and Parit are village balutedars. Besides the grain at harvest time they also receive presents when a child is born to any of their employers. As a rule the Dhobi considers a; monthly wash to be sufficient for an ordinary villager.


  1. The Dohors (2500) are principally found in the Chikhli and Mehkar taluks; They are one of the most important divisions among the leather-working castes, and probably immigrated into this District from Khandesh. They worship chiefly Mari Mata and sometimes Bhawani. Their spiritual interests are in the care of Bhats or Thakurs. They will work for all castes except Mangs. They dye leather and make shoes, but not mots and pakhals. The men do not wear dhotis as do the Harales; the Harale women again wear lugras which bind round the waist, whereas the Dohor women wear lahengas, which tie round like a petticoat. The dead are usually buried and mourned for three days. Those who die married, if well-to-do, are burned.


  1. The Gaolis (1300) include the Ahirs, Gaolans and Gawaris which are synonymous names. They are a pastoral caste, but have taken to agriculture and other pursuits. They are supposed to be an old Indian or half Indian race, who were driven south and east before the Scythian invaders. Like the Jats and Gujars they retain the Scythian custom whereby the younger brother takes the widow of the elder brother to wife. Before the Christian era they were near the north-west frontier of India: they passed down through Upper to Lower Sindh, and thence to Gujarat; ‘ when the Kattis arrived in Gujarat in the eighth century they found the greater part of the country in the possession of the Ahirs’; meanwhile part of the tribe had journeyed east. They are spoken of as settled in Khandesh. And an inscription in one of the Nasik Buddhist caves shows that early in the fifth century the country was under an Ahir king: and ‘ in the Puranic geography the country from the Tapti to Deogarh is called Abhira, or the region of cowherds.’ It seems probable that they were connected with the Yadavas, who were in power in the eighth, and again appear as the rulers of Deogiri or Daulatabad in the twelfth and thirteenth century. ‘ The Ahirs or cowherd kings’, says Meadows Taylor, ‘ ruled over the wild tracts of Gondwana, and parts of Khandesh and Berar, and had possession of fortresses like Asirgarh, Gawilgarh and Narnala, and other mountain positions, where they remained secure and independent, tributary however to the Yadavas of Deogarh, or to the Hindu dynasties of Malwa as long as they existed, and afterwards acting independently,’ Berar was in those days a trouble-some border country, and the Ahirs seem to have fallen into a secondary position before the influx of Kunbis.


  1. The Ghisadis (300) are practically confined to the Chikhli and Mehkar taluks. They sometimes claim a Rajput origin. They are, inferior blacksmiths and do rough work only. Among them large bride prices varying from Rs, 300 to Rs. 500 are paid in cash to the parents of the girl before the performing of the betrothal ceremony. The marriage is performed after the Maratha ritual, and widow-marriage is also practised, but divorce is not allowed on any ground. An unmarried girl puts a round patch of vermilion on her forehead, but after her matriage this is replaced by lines. The caste generally buries its dead and some ghi (clarified butter) is put in the mouth of a corpse before it is buried. The Ghisadis are worshippers of Khandoba, Ambamai and Mhasoba. They take freely spirituous drink and eat the flesh of a goat, fowl, and deer, but abstain from pork.


  1. The Golaks (100) are almost all found in the Chikhli taluk. They are a class of inferior Brahmans; the offspring of a Brahman father and a Brahman widow. Pure Brahmans neither eat nor marry with them.


  1. The Gonda (300) are practically all found in the Jalgaon taluk. They mostly belong to the labouring class.


  1. The Gondhalis (800) are a sect of wandering beggars recruited from all castes. They are especially attached to the temples of the goddess Tukai at Tuljapur and the goddess Renukai at Mahur. Hence arise the two great divisions of the caste, the Renurai and the Kadamrai, who do not intermarry. Other divisions are known as Maratha, Kunbi, and Mali Gondhalis: these are the descendants of children of the castes named, offered in fulfilment of vows at the shrine of the goddess. The Gondhalis perform what is known as the Gondhal ceremony at the houses of Brahmans and Sudras. The chief occasions are the worship of Bhawani at the Dasahra, and the worship of Tukai and Renukai on Hanuman’s birthday. The ceremony is held at night. The Gondhalis are previously feasted: they eat flesh and drink liquor. The image of the goddess is placed on a stool and a sacred torch is lit. By the side of the idol a pot filled with water is placed, betel-leaves are put around its mouth, and a cocoanut is placed on them. The rest of the stool is covered with offerings of fruits and spices. The Gondhalis now worship the goddess, wave the lighted torch around their bodies and chant monotonous hymns ‘in honour of the deity all through the night. At other times of the year the Gondhalis subsist upon alms by reciting ballads called povade. They wear a string of cowries round their necks: this string is put on at the time of marriage, and marks the wearer’s right to per-form the gondhal, a right forbidden to the unmarried.


  1. The Gosawis (Gosains)(1900) are mostly religious mendicants, but a few are engaged in agriculture, trade and money-lending.


  1. The Guraos (1600) are attendants in the temples of Maroti and Siva, and sellers of bel leaves for offerings to the idol. They receive the food offered to the idol. As trumpeters they were formerly employed in the Maratha armies. They are to some extent mendicants but they do not wander.


  1. The Jangams (300) are mostly found in the Mehkar taluk. Thev are priests of the Lingayats.


  1. The Jats (200) are mostly found in the Mehkar taluk. Most of them are agriculturists but a few are weavers. They claim a Rajput origin.


  1. The Jirayats (200) chiefly occur in Malkapur and Jalgaon taluks. They are said to be immigrants from the south. The majority of them are ironsmiths whose speciality is fine work, but Here and there one is found following some other handicraft than that peculiar to the caste. Infant marriage prevails in the caste, and the parents of a girl attaining puberty before marriage are excommunicated temporarily from the caste. Liquor and flesh of sheep or goat are permitted. Persons eating fowls or pork are outcasted, but can be readmitted into the caste after providing a feast. The caste can eat food cooked by a Brahman, Kunbi, Rajput and Phulmali.


  1. The Jogis (500) or Yogis (lit., contemplative saints) are Sivite beggars.


  1. The Joshis (100) are beggars and astrologers.


  1. The Kalals (1700) are mostly agriculturists, only a small number being engaged as liquor distillers and sellers, which is their traditional occupation.


  1. The Kasars (2000) take their name from the; bell-metal (kansa) in which they work, and rank high among artisans.

Kayasth and Parbhu.

  1. The Kayasths and Parbhus number 200 persons in the District, and are the wellknown writer class. The former trace their descent from Chitragupta, the recorder of Yama, and the latter from King Chandrasen.


  1. The Khatiks (500) are Hindu butchers, and by reason of the impurity of their calling rank very low in the social scale.


  1. The Kolhatis (600) are most numerous in the Malkapur taluk. They are a wandering tribe of acrobats, and their women are generally prostitutes.


  1. The Kolis (9000) are principally found in the Malkapur taluk. Little is known regarding their origin. They are said once to have been soldiers and guardians of the Berar hill passes, and their hereditary occupation is said to be that of fishing. There are a large number of Ahir Kolls in the Malkapur taluk, immigrants from Khandesh. They are said to be frequently employed as watchmen, and to work ferries and grow melons in the beds of rivers. They eat pork but not beef, and they drink liquor.


  1. The Koshtis (900) are the well-known weaving castes. Their speciality is white cotton clothes with coloured borders.


  1. The Kumbhars (4000) are potters and brick and tile makers. They have no competition from outsiders to contend with in their caste occupation, and there are few instances in which Kumbhars have adopted handicrafts entirely foreign to the caste occupation.


  1. The Kunbis number 227,000 or 37 per cent. of the population. A full account of the caste has been given in the Yeotmal Gazetteer, and here a reference will only be made to the Deshmukhs and Pajne Kunbis. The Deshmukh was originally the manager or headman of a circle of villages, and was responsible for apportioning and collecting the land revenue. The office was hereditary and was usually held by members of the Tirole subcaste of Kunbis, though other castes such as Brahmans, Rajputs, Marathas, Mails and Muhammadans also shared the privilege. The Kunbi Deshmukhs have now developed into a sort of aristocratic branch of the caste and many among them-selves when matches can be arranged. They do not allow the marriage of widows nor permit their women to accompany the wedding procession. A Deshmukh sabha has been formed for Berar, one of its aims being to check intermarriage with ordinary Kunbis. Deshmukhs have also lately begun to wear the sacred thread, and in three generations of the family the latest member may be seen wearing it, while the two older members are without it. Some Deshmukhs now repudiate their Kunbi origin and prefer to he called Marathas, thus claiming through that name to belong to the Kshattriya clan. The sect of Kunbis known as the Pajne Kunbis is only found in Berar in the Malkapur taluk of this District, and deserves a separate notice. The Pajne Kunbis are found in about So villages near Khandesh, and number roughly 2000, Another local name for them is Rewas, which is apparently a variant of Levas who form the largest subcaste of Kunbis in Gujarat. They seem to have broken off from the parental stock so long ago (500 years) that they have forgotten all connection with it, and account for their names by somewhat curious folk-etymologies. The word Pajne is traced to Pawakhand which they say formerly formed a part of Gujarat, and Rewa is supposed to be derived from the river Rewa in Gujarat. In Gujarat, however, Leva is said to mean mild as opposed to Kadwa (bitter), another subcaste of Kunbis. The men of the Pajne subcaste wear a head dress like that of Gujarati Wanis and they ‘themselves claim to be Wani immigrants from Gujarat afterwards repudiated by their caste fellows owing to their having mingled with the local Kunbis. The Leva Kunbis of Gujarat are really of Gujar origin, and the tecollection of the Pajnes is so far correct that they originally belonged to a different caste, but their claim to be Wanis is merely presumptuous. In religion they worship all Hindu gods, but there is a special sect called Malkari or Bhagvat panthi which confines its worship to Vithoba, Rama and Mahadeo. The gurus of Muktabai at Edalabad, Jnyaneshwar at Alandi, Tukaram at Dehu, Vithoba at Pandharpur, Nivrittinath at Trimbakeshwar, Yeknath at Paithan, and Sopandeo at Sachoie initiate disciples into the sect by bestowing upon them wreaths of beads of tulisu wood, at the same time advising them to observe ekadaski (fasting), to worship daily the tulsi plant in the angans, to offer daily prayers to god, and to attend with-out fail the Ashadhi and Kartiki fairs at Pandharpur with Pandharpur Patakas (flags). In their social customs and ceremonies the Pajne Kunbis follow generally the Tirole Kunbis, slight differences being that Pajne remales on the bridegroom’s side attend marriages, and before the marriage ceremony takes place the bride and bride-groom are made to worship a dunghill. Pajne Kunbis cannot marry with other Kunbis., but inter-dining is not prohibited. Widow-remarriage is permitted. The marriageable age is for a girl seven years and for a boy eleven years. After marriage the woman wears in one ear an ear ornament called pachatur, a ring of gold with five corals and five beads of gold; the poorer women wear rings of corals only. The wearing of this ornament is a certain means of identifying a Pajne Kunbi. For some reason unknown the Chambhars of the Balaghat will not repair the shoes of Pajne Kunbis. Pajhe Kunbls are exclusively moneylenders or cultivators. Their education does not go beyond the 4th or 5th Marathi standard, but most of them know how to read and write and keep accounts. They have a reputation for economy; borrowing for marriage ceremonies is strictly prohibited, the expenditure being limited to a sum fixed alike for rich and poor by the community. They are very clannish and assist each other in need. They abstain from the use of alcohol and both socially and mentally they rank above the other Kunbis. Some of them are watandar patels.

An excellent account of the Kunbis as a class given by an anonymous writer [Notes on the Agriculturists of Aurangabad quoted in Mr. Kitts’ Berar Cestui Report of 1881, p. 111 foot note.] is deserving of reproduction. ‘ The Kunbi is a harmless, inoffensive creature, simple in his habits, kindly by disposition, and unambitious by nature. He is honest, and altogether ignorant of the ways of the world. He knows little of the value of money, and when he happens to earn any, he does not know how to keep it. He is satisfied with very little, and is contented with his lot, however humble. His passions are not strong, he is apathetic, and takes things easily, is never elated with success, nor is he readily prostrated by misfortune. He is patient to a fault, and shows great fortitude under severe trials. He is a thorough conservative, and has a sincere hatred of innovations. He cherishes a strong love for his watan (hereditary holding and rights), and whenever any trivial dispute arises in connection with these he will fight it out to the very last. He will often suffer great wrongs with patience and resignation, but his indignation is aroused if the least encroachment be made upon his personal watandari rights, though they may yield him no profit, but happen on the contrary to be a tax upon his purse. If the regulated place be not assigned to his bullocks when they walk in procession at the Pola feast, or if he has been wrongfully preceded by another party in offering libations to the pile of fuel, that is to be fired at the Holi, the Kunbi at once imagines that a cruel wrong has been done him, and his peace of mind is disturbed. He will haunt the courts of the taluk and District officials for redress, and, neglecting his fields, will pursue his object with a perseverance worthy of a better cause. “The Kunbi’s domestic life is happy and cheerful; he is an affectionate husband and a loving father. He is a stranger to the vice of drunkenness, and in every respect his habits are strictly temperate. He is kind and hospitable towards the stranger, and the beggar never pleads in vain at his door. In short, the Kunbi, within the scale of his capacities, is endowed with most of the virtues of mankind, and exhibits but few vices. We cannot, however, accord to the Kunbi the merit of energy. Industrious he is, he rises early, and retires late; in the hottest time of the year he works in the field under the burning rays of the sun; at other seasons he has often to work in the rain, drenched to the skin; he is to be seen in the fields on a bitter winter morning,, defying the cold, clad only in his simple coarse kambi (blanket). Thus his life is one of continued toil and exposure. But, while admitting all this, it cannot be denied that he works apathetically and without intelligent energy of any kind. The Kunbi women are very industrious, and are perhaps more energetic than the men. Upon them devolves the performance of all the domestic duties. They have to carry water from the river or well, grind corn, prepare the meals, sweep the house and plaster St with liquid clay or cowdung, clean the cooking vessels, wash the linen, and attend to their children. For a part of the day they are also employed on light field work. Be-sides getting through these multifarious duties, the women of the poorer classes generally manage to find time to gather a headload of either fuel or grass, which they carry to their own or any other adjoining village for sale. From these hardly acquired earnings they purchase salt, oil, and other necessities for household use, and a little opium, a minute quantity of which they invariably administer to their children as a narcotic. Indeed the Kunbi woman takes an honest pride in supplying opium to her children from her personal earnings. If all the women in the family have not enough work on their holdings, some of them go out to labour in the fields of other holders, and their earnings form no mean addition to the income of the Kunbi cultivator. The women work as hard as the men, and fortunate is the cultivator who is blessed with a number of female relatives in his family, for, instead of being a burden, their industry is a steady source of income to him. With a heavy load on her head, an infant wrapped up and slung to her back, the Kunbi woman of the poorer classes will sturdily tramp some six or seven miles to market, sell the produce of her field there, and from the proceeds buy articles for household consumption; she will then trudge back home in time to prepare the evening meal for the family.’ Regarding their treatment of children the Deputy Commissioner, Akola, writes: ‘ For the first day or two after birth a child is given milk; and then it is allowed to take the mother’s milk; if this is insumdent a wet-nurse is called in. A low caste woman or a Musalman may thus suckle a Brahman child. Until the child is six months’ old, its head and body are oiled every second or third day, and the body is well hand rubbed and bathed. The rubbing is to make the limbs supple, and the oil to render it less susceptible of cold. They are very kind to their children, never harsh or quick-tempered. This may in part be due to constitutional lethargy. They seldom refuse a child anything; but, taking advantage of its innocence, will by dissimulation make it forget it. The time arrives when this course of conduct is useless, and then the child learns to mistrust the word of its parents. This evil effect is intensified by the dissimulation and reticence necessary among members of large families who wish to live together peaceably. Children thus learn not to repeat what they have seen or heard, and hence arises a tendency to dissimulation.’


  1. The Lads (700) who claim to be a subdivision of the Wani or Bania caste are most mimerous in the Malkapur taluk. They are immigrants from Gujarat and take their name from Lat, the classic name of the southern portion of Gujarat.


  1. The Lohars (2800) or Khatis when balutedars of their villages do the iron work of the agricultural implements and perform the necessary repairs.

Mahar. Customs and ceremonies.

  1. The Mahars number 70,000 persons and constitute 11 per cent. of the population. The Old local religion, as might be expected, survives more markedly among Mahar and Mang castes than among those higher in the social scale, although the Brahmans have impressed the mark of their creed upon the more important occasions of life. The auspicious day for a marriage is ascertained from the village Joshi, a Brahman, who receives a fee for his information. And although some peculiar custom may here and there be kept up, as when a Mahar bride-groom drops a ring into a bowl of water, which the bride picks out and wears, or as when a Chambhar bride twice or thrice opens a small box which her future spouse each time smartly shuts again, still the ceremony is conducted, as far as possible, according to the ordinary Hindu rites. Furthermore, as the Joshi will not come to the marriage, it can only take place on the same day as a marriage among some higher caste, so that the Mahars may watch for the priest’s signal, and may know the exact moment at which the dividing cloth (antarpat) should be withdrawn, and the garments of the bride and bridegroom knotted, while the bystanders clap their hands and pelt the couple with coloured grain. The identity of time and the proximity of position multiply the opportunities and the temptation to copy the marriage rites of the higher castes. So, too, after a death, the chief mourner mourns for ten days and observes the general rule of abstinence from all sweet or dainty food during the days of mourning. If a Mahar’s child has died he will, on the third day, place bread on the grave; if an infant, milk; if an adult, on the tenth day, with five pice in one hand and five pan leaves in the other, he goes into the river, dips five times, and throws them away; he then places five lighted lamps on the tomb, and after these simple ceremonies gets himself shaved as though he were an orthodox Hindu.


  1. No outcaste is allowed to approach a temple; to it his touch would bring pollution. Occasionally they worship Khandoba, or Devi in one of her more terrible forms. They worship also Dawal Malik and Rahman Dula. The new moon and the full moon of every month are days held sacred to Vetal, Mahishasur, Satwai and the Asuras, and to male and female ghouls. Marai Mai, Meskai and Bhairava are worshipped when sickness befalls. The goddess Winai is worshipped on the ninth day of Ashwin (Dasahra). The chief Mahar of the village and his wife, with their garments knotted together, bring some earth from the jungle, and fashioning two images set one on a clay elephant and the other on a clay bullock. The images are placed on a small platform outside the village site, and worshipped; a young he-buffalo is bathed and brought before the images as though for the same object. The patel wounds the buffalo in the nose with a sword, and it is then marched through the village. In the evening it is killed by the head Mahar, buried in the customary spot, and any eyll that might happen during the coming year is thus deprecated, and, it is hoped, averted. The claim to take the leading part in this ceremony is the occasion of many a quarrel and an occasional affray or riot. The only other Hindu festival which the Mahars are careful to observe is the Holi or Shimga. Of the confusion which obtains in the Mahar the ogony the names of six of their gods will afford a striking example. While some Mahars worship Vithoba, the god of Pandharpur, others worship Varuna’s twin sons Meghoni and Deghoni, and his four messengers, Gabriel, Azrael, Michael, and Anadin, all six of whom they say hail from Pandharpur! Among others of their deities they enumerate Kali Nik, Waikach, Sari, Gari, Mai Kaus, and Dhondiba; the four Bhairavas, Kal, Bhujang (snake), Samant and Audhut; the heroes Bhima, Arjun, Lachman Bala, Chhatrapati (Sivaji), Narsingh, Munda, Bawan, Raktia, Kaktia, and Kalka; and the demons Aghya and Jaltia Vetal. A certain Choka Mela was a saint of note among Mahars; and certain saintly mendicants, who abstain from flesh and from social intercourse with their castemen, are still named after him. In their worship some are said to officiate naked: others with their clothes wet and clinging. Their offerings consist of a red thread to which is attached a small packet of sandal-powder and red-turmeric with flowers of oleander, swallowwort and chameli: country liquor, yellow-coloured grains of juari and urad, red-lead, frankincense, plantains, limes, pieces of cocoa or betelnut, unripe dates, rice, curds, fried cakes of pulse or wheat, five coloured thread or silk: all these are used as offerings, as also at times a kid, a fowl or an egg.


  1. Although their theology is a greater medley, and their religious system grosser than among the higher castes, the Mahars seem in some respects to be less superstitious and less fettered. They repeat mantras if a man is possessed by an evil spirit, or stung by a snake or scorpion, or likely to be in danger from tigers or wild boars: and the threat to write a Mahar’s name on a piece of paper and tie it to the scavenger’s broom is used in the Morsi taluk of Amraoti District with potent effect by their creditors: but they have not the same reverence for omens. Nor is the younger brother prohibited, though he is not obliged, to marry the elder brother’s widow. The touch of a dead dog or pig, or of a dead or living donkey, entails a pollution which can only be removed by shaving their moustaches and giving a caste dinner: but other dead animals are not unclean. A bitch or cat having young in a Mahar’s house, or any one throwing a shoe on the roof, is supposed to pollute the place: meat of any kind, except pork, they may eat: and tari as well as mahua liquor may be drunk. They are indeed themselves generally employed as tari drawers: and the impurity of then-touch compared with that of the Kalal is the reason why so many castes drink mahua who will not touch tari.

Somas Mahar and other divions.

  1. One division of the Mahars is called Somas or Somavansi, and claims to have taken part with the Pandavas against the Kauravas in the war of the Mahabharat, and subsequently to have settled in the Maharashtra.

After the Somas Mahars the three most important divisions are the Ladwan or Ladsi, the Andhwan and the Bawane or Baonya. The latter sometimes become Manbhaos: they have the same scruple as the Balahi has to grooming a stranger’s horse; they will not eat with any other division of Mahars, The total number of sub-divisions is 12½ the half caste being sometimes given as the base-born and sometimes as the religious mendicants. Illegitimate children are more often than others consecrated to divine service, and hence the confusion. The Gopals arc sometimes looked upon as the half caste of Mahars. The Bankar, Goski, Holar and Lotwal castes are also Mahars. Other divisions of the caste are given as Kachore, Kharse, Nimari, Malwi, Kathalya, Dharkia, Peudaria and Ghatole.

Social life and village duties of the Mahars.

  1. The men among the Mahars wear a black woollen thread around their necks: their women share the common aversion to shoes with pointed tops.

Adultery is of rather common occurrence, and the illegitimate issue arc admitted into caste, although the woman is not allowed to cook food or to eat in the same dish. As fourth balutedar on the village establishment the Muhar holds a post of great importance to himself and convenience to the village. The knowledge gained in his official position renders him a referee on matters affecting the village boundaries and customs. To the patel, patwari and the ‘big men’ of the village, be acts often as a personal servant and errand runner: for a. smaller cultivator, he will also at times carry a torch or act as escort. To the latter class, however, the Mahar is. an indirect rather than a direct boon, inasmuch as his-presence saves them from the liability of being called upon to render the patel or the village personal service.

For the services which he thus renders as pandhewar the Mahar receives from the cultivators certain grain-dues.

When the cut juari is lying in the field the Mahars go round and beg for a measure of the ears (bhik paih).But the regular payment is made when the grain has been threshed. The amount of the due and the mode of calculation vary greatly, almost from village to village. The calculation is sometimes made upon the total area of land cultivated (e.g. one seer per acre cultivated), but in other parts land cultivated with edible grain is alone liable to the payment (e.g., 11/2 or 2 seers per acre of edible grain). Another duty performed by the Mahar is the removal of the carcasses of dead animals. The flesh is eaten and the skin retained as wage for the work. The patel and his relatives, however, usually claim to have the skins of their own animals returned: and in some places where half the agriculturists of the village claim kinship with the patel, the Mahars feel and resent the loss. Another custom, which occasionally obtains, gives one quarter of the skin to the Mahar, one quarter to the Chambhar, and a half to the patel. A third duty is the opening of grain-pits, the noxious gas from which produces at times asphyxia. For this the Mahars receive the tainted grain. They also receive the clothes from acorpse that is laid on the pyre, and the pieces of unburnt wood which remain when the body has been consumed.


  1. The Malis number 47,000 persons or 8 per cent. of the population. They are found in strength in the taluks of Malkapur (14,074), Jalgaon (10,990) and Khamgaon (9104) but are less numerous in the taluks of Mehkar (8275) and Chikhli (4,476). The word Mali is derived from Sanskrit mala (a garland). The caste cannot be said to be a very old one. Generally speaking it may be said that flowers have scarcely a place in the Veda. Wreaths of flowers are used as decorations, but the separate flowers and their beauty are not yet appreciated. That lesson was first learned later by the Hindu when surrounded by another flora. Similarly among the Homeric Greeks in spite of their extensive gardening, and their different names for different flowers, not a trace of horticulture is yet to be found. The caste is chiefly engaged in raising vegetable and garden crops. The chief subdivisions of the caste are Phulmalr, Jire, Ghase, Kosaria, Baone and Lonare. The Phulmalis who take their name from phul (flower) are considered the highest The Jire are the cumin-seed growers; the Kosarias derive their name from Kosala, the classic name of Chhattisgarh; the Raones are named after Berar, ‘the revenue of which was fifty-two (bawan) lakhs as against six lakhs only obtained from the Jhadi or hill country; and the Lonare are the residents of the country round about Lonar lake which is about 12 miles south of Mehkar. The Phulmalis will neither cultivate nor boil turmeric. The reason alleged is that in the turmeric flower is the outline of a small cow tied with a rope, to which in boiling turmeric damage might ensue. The Jire Malis will both grow and boil turmeric for which they are despised, but they will not grow onions. From his dealings in flowers which are used in worship and on all ceremonial occasions the sight of a Mali is considered lucky. In social characteristics the Malts resemble the Kunbis. The Phulmalis take the flesh of a goat, but abstain from liquor and the flesh of fowls; the Ghase Malis have no objection to taking spirituous drink and eating eggs and fowls. The caste performs the marriage ceremony according to the Maratha ritual. Widow-marriage is also practised and divorce allowed. The Malis are the votaries of Devi and Kal Bhairava and also worship all the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They stop their ordinary work on the day of Nag Panchami festival and offer worship to their trade implements on Dasahra.


  1. The Manbhaos (500) are a local Vaishnava sect and some of them are religious mendicants. The caste is steadily decreasing.


  1. The Mangs (11,500) are a menial caste ranking only above Bhangis There are many customs and legends connected with the Mang caste which prove them to be of very long standing in the country. The first Mang, Maghya, was created by Mahadeo to protect Brahmadeo from the winged horses which troubled him in his work of creating the world. The devotion of the Mangs to Mahadeo is noticeable: it shows the kind of religious conceptions once current in the country, which that name has been made to cover. The Mangs still worship Man Mata, Asura and Vetal or Brahma. Like the Mahars they worship no graven image : the visible representations of their deities are round stones daubed with vermilion. Occasionally they worship Dawal Malik, and Khandoba, but no god belonging strictly to the higher Hindu pantheon. Meghya Mang waxed proud and was humbled by being ordered by Mahadeo to castrate oxen for the Kunbis, an office still performed by the village Mang who receives six or eight annas or four or, eight seers of grain per job. At the Naoratra a Mang woman is still sometimes worshipped, a custom, the origin of which dates according to the legend, from the time of Parasuram,

A Mang is the born enemy of the village Mahar, whose grain dues are three times his own, and who disdains to receive food which the latter has prepared, or to beat the drum in his funeral procession.

The Mangs beg during an eclipse. Rahu, the demon who swallows the moon and thus causes her eclipse, and his companion Ketu were both Mangs, and it is to appease them that grain is given to their caste men.

Status in village.

  1. The Mang is a balutedar: formerly he acted as hangman when necessary, and occasionally as watchman: his wife acts as midwife. At marriages he beats the drum and plays the crooked horn. His salutation is ‘ Farman ‘ as that of the Mahar is ‘ Namastu,’ He swears by the dog. He uses a slang language, some of the words in which are of Dravidian origin. Those of the caste who deal in the black art worship demons and goblins (bhut, pisach) on every new moon; those who revere Dawal Malik abstain from eating pork. The Mangs are men of strong passions, and generally have a bad name among the more respectable castes and among the police. In robbery they are said to respect the person of a woman, a bangle-seller, a Lingayat Mali, and a Mang.


  1. There are nominally 12½ divisions in the caste, but the names given differ in different parts, and are often merely descriptive of their residence or occupation. Thus the Ghatole Mangs are Mangs from the Satmala Ghats: the Madhige division are probably Telugu Madigas: the Uchles are pickpockets, and the Pendari Mangs are highway robbers; Pungiwalas play on the fife, and Daphlewalas on the tom-tom. The different divisions sometimes contract prejudices which tend to perpetuate the distinction. The Berar Mangs and the Buruds (who are reckoned as the half caste in the enumeration) make baskets of bamboo and use a knife known as the bhal, while the Dakhani Mangs will not touch this knife, and work with date-palm leaves.

Customs and religious observances.

  1. The ordinary trade of a Mang is to prepare brooms or date-palm matting. On the Akshayatritiya, when offerings to the dead are paid, the Mang supplies a new broom to each of the more important houses in his villages.

Like the Mahars, the Mangs always bury their dead. They do not use a bier, and make no distinction of persons further than that the deceased, if married, is dressed in new clothes and mourned for ten instead of three days. On each of the three days succeeding the death, the mourners hold a feast, on the first two days generally at their own expense, but on the third day always at the expense of the chief mourner, who on the tenth day gets himself shaved and gives a caste dinner. Their marriages take place usually in the month of Asharh, the 15th of which month is sacred to their worship of the deity Mari Mata. Those of the girls who are not married before they reach the age of puberty become Muralis or Joginis, in other words mendicant prostitutes.


  1. The Marathas number 6000 or 1 per cent. of the population. It is difficult to avoid confusion in the use of the word Maratha, which signifies both an inhabitant of the area in which the Marathi language is spoken and a member of the caste to which the general name has, in view of their historical importance, been specifically applied. The native name for the Marathi-speaking country is Maharashtra, which has been variously interpreted as ‘ the great country” or’ the country of the Mahars.’ Another, and perhaps the most probable, derivation is that it is named from the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which was dominant in the area for some centuries after 750 A.D. The name Rashtrakuta was contracted into Ratth; and with the prefix Maha, ‘ great,’ might evolve into the term Maratha. The Marathas are a caste formed from military service, and it seems probable that they sprang mainly from the ‘peasant population of Kunbis, though at what period they were formed into a caste has not yet been determined. The designation of Maratha first became prominent during the period of Sivaji’s guerilla warfare against Aurangzeb. Several of the Maratha clans have the names of Rajput tribes, as Chauhan, Ponwar, Jadhao, Solanki and Suryavansi, and in 1836 Mr. Enthoven states that the Rana of Udaipur was satisfied from enquiries conducted by an agent that the Bhonsla and certain other families had a right to be recognised as Rajputs. But the general feeling does not admit this claim. The caste is of a decidedly mixed nature, as is apparent from its internal structure. In Buldana they are commonly spoken of as Maratha Kunbis. Indeed in the Berar census of 1881 they were amalgamated with Kunbis, and have only been recorded separately in the last two generations. They are not mentioned as a separate caste by Sir A. Lyall in the Berar Gazetteer. In Buldana the Marathas will take daughters from the Kunbis in marriage for their sons, though they will not give their daughters in return. But a Kunbi who has got on in the world and become wealthy may, by a sufficient payment, get his sons married into Maratha families and even be adopted as a member of the caste, just as a successful soap boiler in England occasionally becomes a peer and sets himself up with a complete portrait gallery of Norman ancestors. It seems a necessary conclusion that the bulk of the caste are of much the same origin as the Kunbis, though some of the leading families may have had Rajputs among their ancestors. The family of the jadhao Rajas of Sindkhed, from a daughter of which the renowned Sivaji sprang, is the leading Maratha family of Buldana and Berar, and claims to he of the purest Rajput blood. In 1870 Sir A Lyall notes that this family had recently made a show of great reluctance to permit a poor kinsman to espouse the Gaikuar of Baroda’s daughter. A notable trait of this and similar families is the fondness with which they cling to their hereditary watans. In Buldana the Marathas are principally engaged in cultivation and money-lending, though many of them have taken up personal service and are also employed in Government service as clerks, peons. and constables. The caste eat the flesh of clean animals and of fowls and wild pig and drink liquor. Their rules about food are liberal like those of the Rajput. a too great stringency being no doubt in both cases incompatible with the exigencies of military service. They observe the parda system with regard to then women, and will go to the well and draw water themselves rather than permit their wives to do so; but the poorer Marathas cannot maintain the system, and they and their wives and children work in the fields. The men often in imitation of the Rajputs have their hair long and wear beards and whiskers. They commonly wear a turban made of many folds of cloth twisted into a narrow rope and large gold rings with pearis in the lower part of the ear. They assume the sacred thread and invest a boy with it when he is seven or eight years old or on his marriage though this is not strictly observed. Some Marathas do not wear the sacred thread at all, saying their forefathers never wore it. In appearance the men are often tall and well-built and of a light wheat-coloured complexion. The principal deity of the Marathas is Khandoba, a warrior incarnation of Mahadeo. He is sup-posed to have been born in a held of millet near Poona, and to have led the people against the Muhammadans in early times. He had a watch dog who warned him of the approach of his enemies, and he is named after the khanda or sword which he always carried. The Marathas are generally kind to dogs, and will not injure them.


  1. The Mhalis (7500) are barbers and balutedars. The Mhali shaves the heads, chins, and armpits of his clients and pares their nails. When the first son is born to any of his clients, the barber carries the good news to the relatives. He takes a bamboo stick in his hand, adorns it with cloth, and crowns it with an earthen pot. For this, and in return for the presents of sugar and pan leaves which he then distributes, he expects to receive from each man a rupee, a turban or a shoulder cloth, or at least a few handfuls of grain as a reward. In the case of a marriage among Sudras, it is the village barber who takes out the invitations and who subsequently superintends the bathing of the bridegroom. The barbers also light the lamps and hold the torches during the ceremony, and at its close two of them take the bride and bridegroom in their arms and distribute the sugar sweetmeat (van) which have been provided for the Brahmans.


  1. The four chief classes of Muhanimadans (population 48,720) commonly known as Saiyids, Sheikhs, Mughals, and Pathans are found in the District. The Saiyads claim their descent from Fatimah and All, the son and son-in-law of the Prophet. There are two branches of Saiyads, those descended from Hasan and those descended from Husaiu (both sons of Ali). Saiyads mark their high birth among men by placing the title Saiyad or Mir before, and among women the title of Begam after their names. Mughals include two distinct classes, the Persian and the Indian or Chagtai from Chagtai Khan, the son of Changiz Khan. They are, therefore, the descendants of those Musalmans from Central Asia who invaded India under the standards of Timur and Babar. Mughals always place the title Mirza, born of great man, before their names, and add Beg. Pathans are of Afghan origin and their name means highlanders.

Below the four great classes, there is a population which may be described as miscellaneous Muhammadans. These are the converts from Hinduism, or more strictly speaking, the descendants of such converts, together with those who follow certain petty trades in towns. At the census of 1901 the principal classes which returned caste names were Atari, Bhil, Fakir, Gaoli, Bhat, and Pinjari. These classes are perfectly endogamous groups marrying only among themselves.


  1. The Panchals (400) are vagrant blacksmiths. They have been in Berar for some generations. They live in small pals or tents, and move from place to place with buffaloes, donkeys, and occasionally ponies to carry their kit.


  1. The Pardhis (2600) from the Marathi word for a huntsman are a wandering people ostensibly occupied in snaring game. Malkapur seems to be a favourite taluk with them, as a large proportion of their number was enumerated there both in 1881 and in 1891. There are three well-known divisions of Pardhis, the Shikari, Phans and Langoti Pardhis. The Pardhis of Berar admit that they are Baurias, who originated from Rajputana and are held to be aborigines of that part of India. The Pardhis have the. custom whereby on the death of an elder brother the younger takes his widow to wife. They pay for their wives. At the time of marriage a mock resistance is sometimes made; generally, however., the couple walk round the encampment under a cloth borne on four poles. In front of them walks a married woman carrying five pitchers of water. The couple eat grain from the same dish or throw it on each other’s head. The bridegroom gives the bride a dress, a bodice, and a fold of the paper helmet which he himself wears. A Brahman is asked to name an auspicious day for the event, and among the Phans Pardhi division he is also asked to officiate. In religion, besides worshipping their ancestors, they worship goddesses who are now identified with the Hindu goddess Devi, but who are known in the caste by many different names. Sometimes they carry small silver images of these deities; at other times they fashion one of clay.

Omens and ordeals.

  1. Like the Sudras they are superstitious and believe in omens. A favourite omen is the simple device of taking some rice or juari in the hand and counting the grains. An even number is lucky: an odd number is unlucky. If dissatisfied with the first a second or a third pinch is taken and the grains counted. A winnowing basket or a mill-stone falling to the right when dropped on the ground is lucky, as is also a flower falling on the right side from the garland with which they crown their goddess. The Phans Pardhis never use the railway; and are forbidden the use of any conveyance whatever. More precautions however attend the women than the men. The women may not wear silver bangles on their feet: they may not among the Langoti Pardhis touch a cast-off lugada, they may not eat flesh or drink liquor: nor mai they in any division of Pardhis prepare the food or mix with the family until three months after a child-birth. Similar religious scruples exist among the Langoti Pardhis against the wearing of a razai or a spotted cloth, or the using of a cot. Their name is derived from their wearing the langoti, because of their fear that a dhoti if worn might become soiled and therefore unlucky. Their ordeals resemble those in vogue two thousand years ago. If a woman is suspected of adultery she has to pick a pice out of boiling oil: or a pipal leaf is placed on her hand and a red hot axe placed on it. If she is burnt or refuses to stand the test she is pronounced guilty. The punishment for adultery consists in cutting a piece off the ear and in exacting a fine. Another test is the water ordeal. The accused dives into water; and as he dives an arrow is shot from a bow. A swift runner fetches and brings back the arrow: if the diver remains under water until the runner has returned he is pronounced innocent. Their chief religious ceremony, at which many gather together, occurs about once every five years. The idol of Devi is taken to a tree two or three miles from a village and placed with its face to the east. In front of it a fireplace of earth is made, on which wheaten cakes and meat are cooked and eaten at night. A young buffalo or a goat is brought to the spot and stabbed in the left side of the neck: the idol is besmeared with the blood which spouts out, and the worshippers then taste it themselves. The animal is then killed. To the north of the idol a small mound is raised. On the third day, by which time the flesh has all been eaten, the skull of the animal is placed on the mound, ghi and country liquor is poured on it, and fire is applied. This burnt offering closes the ceremony.


  1. The Pathrats (300) whose name is a contraction of Patharwat or stone dresser, are stone workers.


  1. The Rajputs (13,000) show a large decrease from 20,000 since 1891, but this is partly due to a large number of Marathas and Kunbis having returned themselves as Raj-puts at the previous census. They may be divided into two classes, (1) those who were originally of foreign origin (2) those who have assumed the name of Rajputs but who are really of humbler birth. The Rana Rajputs chiefly found in the Malkapur and Jalgaon taluks are believed to be of Maratha origin. Agriculture is the ordinary occupation of the Rajput caste.


  1. The Rangaris (3500), the caste of dyers, are mostly found in the Malkapur taluk. They worship Hinglaj Bhawani, Dawal Malik and Khandoba; and beginning at the Gudi Padwa or Hindu New Year’s Day they observe a fort-night’s holiday, during which all business is suspended, and a subscription is raised in order that a caste dinner may be held. They use as dyes morinda, indigo and safflower but aniline dyes are also in considerable vogue. They are governed in caste matters by a punch or council, and an elective headman or chaudhari. The caste is said to have come originally from Gujarat.


  1. The Shimpis (4500) are tailors. They are divided into the Jain, Marathi and Telugu Shimpls. The Jains belong usually to the Setwal caste; the Marathi Shimpls are often Lingayats; and the Telugu division are generally Vaishnavas. The Jain Shimpls claim the hero Niminath as a caste-fellow; the Marathis claim the noted saint Namdeo Sadhu.


  1. The Sonars (6ooo), workers in precious metals, are the most important of the artisan castes. Among the Sonars there are several divisions, the most important being the Vaishya, Malvi, and Panchal. The Vaishya and Panchal Sonars invest their children with the sacred thread when they are seven years old, the ceremony sometimes being performed by a Brahman, and sometimes by one of their own castemen. The Vaishya and Panchal Sonars have religious teachers of their own caste and they are said to have claimed and vindicated their right against the Brahmans to perform their own marriage ceremonies. The Sonars discountenance the remarriage of widows. In his business life a Sonar is noted for an acuteness sometimes bordering on dishonesty; there is a proverb which says that he will cheat his own mother.


  1. The Sutars (6000) are carpenters. They probably take their name which means literally a maker of string or a ‘ worker by string ‘ either from their sometimes joining planks by string or from their skill in planing or measuring. Some Sutars wear the sacred thread; the well-to-do assuming it in childhood, and the poorer from the time of their marriage. The Sutar heads the list of village balutedars. The highest division of the caste are the Kharatis or turners who come from Northern India.


  1. The Takaris (900) mend the handmills (chakkis) used for grinding corn, but have also a reputation for crime. They are practically confined to the plain taluks.


  1. The Telis (10,000) are oil pressers by origin. Their hereditary trade has suffered from the introduction of cheap bulk oil and also from the oil mills worked by steam power. They have largely taken to agriculture.


  1. The Thakurs (1100) are almost identical with the Bhats. They are the hereditary village bards, members of the village community. Many of them have taken to labour and cultivation.


  1. The Vidurs (1200) are descendants of Brahman fathers and mothers of lower castes They are almost, if not quite, synonymous with Krishnapakshis. In dress the Vidurs copy the Brahmans. If a Vidur mother have an illegitimate child, and the father be a Brahman, the child remains a Vidur, but if a Vidur woman or man be detected in adultery with one of a lower caste, he or she is outcasted and the offspring, if any, has no claim to their property.


  1. The Waddars (500) have decreased considerably. They are immigrants from Southern India and are earth-workers, and are constantly moving about in search of work. Their movements depend upon the demand for labour for roads and other public works.


  1. The Wanis or Banias (15,000) are chiefly of foreign origin, being immigrants from Marwar, Gujarat and Rajputana, Most of them are traders, moneylenders, shroffs and grocers, but a large number have also taken to agriculture. Being strangers in the land, Wanis are generally distinguished among Beraris by the name of their country or their sect. Lingayat Wanis affix the term appa to their names, as Kunbis and others affix ji.


  1. The Wanjaris number 13,000 persons of whom 8643 are found in the Mehkar taluk and constitute 2 per cent. of the population. They are said to have come into this District from the Nizam’s Dominions where they are still found in large numbers. The caste claims to be of Maratha origin and yet they aver that they were originally Paundrakas, a tribe inhabiting the old Paundra country, that is, Bengal and Behar. They allege that they with seven other castes were allies of Parasuram when he ravaged the Haihayas of the Vindhya mountains, and that after this the task of guarding the passes was entrusted to them. From their prowess in keeping down the beasts of prey which infested the gorges and ravines under their charge, they became known as the Vanya-Shatru, subsequently contracted into Wanjari. In course of time their services were rewarded with grants of land similar to the Metkari inams and one division of the caste is now known as the Metkari Wanjaris. Though some Wanjaris connect their name with wanja or trading by pack bullocks yet to confound them with the Banjara carrier castes gives them great offence. They, however, are unable to reconcile their claim of Maratha origin with the Bengali one which they also claim and of which no traces in their manners, customs, or gotras now remain. The men dress like Kunbis, the women never wear the parti-coloured bodices and skirts which Banjara women affect, nor do they patronize the bone bangles with which the latter cover their arms. They are not addicted to crime like the Banjaras”. Other subdivisions of the Wanjari castes are Raojin, Bhusarjin, Ladjin and Kanarjin. These subdivisions neither intermarry nor eat with each other. Each subdivision has twelve-and-a-half minor divisions; each minor subdivision has also 50 kuls, and each kul has 4 gotras. Among the 4 gotras of a particular kul no intermarriage can take place as they are considered to be descendants from the same parental stock. Infant marriage prevails in the caste. The betrothal ceremony is performed by presenting the girl with new clothings (phadki and parkor), washing her feet with water, and affixing a patch of kunku to her forehead. A piece of sugarcandy is put in her mouth and packets containing coriander, sugar, kunku and five small pieces of cocoanut are put in her dhoti. The father of the boy then distributes pan-supari to the men assembled, while the father of the girl applies red gandh to the forehead of each man. This ceremony is called Sakarpuda. Women do not accompany the men to the village of the girl. A few days before marriage there takes place the ceremony of Waghinseo or Hobas, apparently a corruption of Wag-Nischaya, or settling the marriage contract by word of mouth. The boy’s father visits the girl’s village and presents her with ornaments and clothing. In addition to the above the following things are given, gur (unrefined sugar), cocoanuts, khurma, cardimum, godambi, kunku, coriander and sugarcandy. The ceremonies known as Shalmundi and Gondhal also take place before the marriage is performed. In the first the father of the girl visits the village of the boy and presents him with a gold ring, an uparna and a turban. At the second from one to five goats are sacrificed though sweetmeats are sometimes substituted. The Wanjaris follow the Maratha ritual of marriage, in which the bride and the bridegroom stand facing each other with a curtain drawn between them, and the assembled guests throw juari dyed yellow on the contracting couple. The marriage ceremony is performed on the mutha (a sort of country saddle used for the bullock). Widow-marriage is allowed by the caste, but a bachelor is not allowed to marry a widow. The dead are both burnt and buried, the corpse is laid in the grave, flat on the back, with feet to the north and the head to the south. By religion Wanjaris are Sivites or worshippers of Siva; some of them are the followers of the Dawal Malik sect. Drinking is prohibited amongst them. No parda system is observed by them. They are now mainly engaged in agriculture and in nearly every point they resemble the Kunbis. They eat from the hands of Kunbis and Marathas. The Bhusarjin and Kanarjin subdivisions are scarcely found, but the ladjin and Raojin subdivisions are common. Men and women of the Raojin subdivision are allowed to eat flesh, whereas the women of the Ladjin subdivision do not touch it, but the prohibition is not extended to males. The Dhola ceremony is performed when the woman is in the seventh month of pregnancy. On this occasion green lugdas are given to her and new clothes are presented to her husband as well.

Criminal classes.

  1. The District is characterised by no class of crime specially, but dacoities, robberies, and house-breaking are not infrequent, and are in many instances the work of criminal gangs and professionals from outside. Kaikaris and Bhils are apt to raid the District from the Khandesh direction and from across the Hyderabad border. The Bhil is not pre-eminently a criminal in the sense that some of the subcastes of the Kaikari are. He goes out into open outlawry on a large scale only as the result of bad years, want, the exactions of moneylenders or some other disturbing cause. When the pinch of agricultural distress is felt, or any other provocation arises, Bhlls readily go out in gangs and take to looting and wide-spread depredations. For the rest his activities are mostly confined to minor crimes against property, an occasional murder, the outcome of jealousy, revenge or a belief in witchcraft. Civilizing influences have of recent years done much to redeem the Bhils from the predatory habits which characterised them in the past. Nevertheless the criminal instinct remains sufficiently strong in the present day to need but little temptation to induce him to revert to the roving life of the freebooter and depredator.

Another class of people who give considerable trouble along the northern border of the District are the Nihals or Nahals. They have always been notorious robbers and Koli, Bhil, Nihal is the common word used in old documents for predatory hillmen. Ever since the great famine of 1899-1900 a number of Nihals—fortunately few—have devoted themselves to petty dacoity and cattle-lifting, They avoid taking any jewellery or other recognisable property when committing a dacoity, and as they invariably take to the hills after a successful raid, it is by no means easy for the police to prove a case against them even when caught. They are also adepts at changing their name and village. They extend their operations to Nimar, Khandesh, Akola and Amraoti, keeping not very far from the hilly parts of these Districts.

A considerable number of Pathans and Afghans also ostensibly lend money in the District but are sometimes mixed up with the local criminals. The Pathan hails from Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Provinces, and his mother tongue is Pushto. His appearance and dress are sufficiently distinctive to proclaim his caste. His physique is excellent and far superior to that of any class indigenous to the Province. He is broad and well built, medium to tall in stature, strong, muscular, hardy and energetic, with Caucasian features, fair ruddy complexion and haughty bearing. By temperament he is treacherous, impetuous, avaricious, excitable and sometimes even fanatical, fond of good living, very hospitable to his countrymen, of cheerful disposition and not incapable of appreciating a joke. The Pathan as a rule makes for some large town where employment is procurable, and sets up as an itinerant hawker of sundry goods or as a moneylender. Many of them are employed by sahukars to recover debts or collect rent from backward tenants. The Pathan is generally successful in this line owing to his imposing appearance, uncouth manners, reputation for truculence, tyrannical methods and the tenacity with which he persecutes the recalcitrant debtor. Some of the well-to-do Pathans are moneylenders on a small scale who are invariably given to extortion and tyrannical practices in recovering their dues. They exact exorbitant interest and are said never to lose sight of a loan, but will reimburse themselves years after it was given, travelling expensive journeys to recover quite a small amount; in this way they keep up the fear which they instil. Their customers are generally the poorer and lower castes such as Mahars, Mangs, Kolis, Kunbis, Bhils, sweepers, etc., who enjoy no credit with the Marwari or Bania, and who yield to the temptations offered by the Pathan to borrow money without a note-of-hand or any security, and at large railway centres, the subordinate staff. As soon as the time is up the Pathan gives his debtor no peace. He is at his door before day dawns to demand his dues, usually with a big stick which he displays in a threatening manner while making his demand in persuasiva tones. It is no use the unhappy victim endeavouring to put off his persecutor by asking him to call again, or attempting to evade the interview by urging a pressing engagement elsewhere. The Pathan is not to be baffled by subterfuges of this sort. He will establish himself in the doorway of the house and give the occupants an unpleasant time by his importunities to settle up. He is not devoid of a sense of humour, and will meet a request to phir kar ao (call again, literally to turn and come), by turning round in a circle where he is standing saying good humouredly that he has complied with the request, or, if asked to dam pakado, i.e., to have patience (literally to hold his breath), he will shut his mouth and hold his nose for a couple of seconds and urge that he has done what was asked. He can only be got rid of by payment either in full or in part of principal or interest. The Pathan’s ostensible profession of hawker or moneylender has the advantage of enabling him to go about from District to District keeping his eyes and ears open, forming connections with local bad characters and marking down suitable places to rob. They generally select isolated houses in towns and cities, and commit the burglary or dacoity in some force. Occasionally a Pathan when employed as a servant with some wealthy, sahukar after ascertaining all he wants to know, takes leave of his employer on the pretext that he wants to return home. He then organises a gang and brings off a successful raid; or perhaps information is communicated to distant friends who, acting thereon, swoop down and loot the servant’s master, the informant making a display of loyalty during the attack and remaining in service for some time afterwards to avert suspicion.

Baorias, Minas, Bhamtas, and other professional criminals also work in the District, attracted thither by the prosperity of the residents of the plain taluks. The local criminals are Takankars, Mangs, Mahars and others. The Takankar while rechiselling grinding stones has excellent opportunities to examine the interior economy of houses, the position of boxes, and the Mang’s profession of selling brooms and ropes also enables him to spy out the land and acquire valuable knowledge. Those classes generally commit dacoity and house-breaking by night.

The Four Varnas by Manu In Manusmriti

The Four Varnas

The term Varna indicates the functional division of society into four major functional classes. It originated from the Sanskrit root ‘Vri’ which means adoption of duties and obligations and their performance in accordance with one’s virtues and capabilities. According to G.H. Mees, “Social, cultural, professional or occupational, symbolic and cult, these five conceptions have been the basis of Varna system. We find various references to the source of origin of this social system”. 

Man is no doubt spirit, but he is an embodied spirit. His nature ; spiritual development, and plan of life are determined not only by his spiritual nature, but also by the material or bodily aspect of his being which has the three qualities of prakrti, namely, sattva, rajaş and tamas. These may be roughly translated into English as law, energy and materiality. The three aspects of consciousness-desire, thought and action-interacting with the three qualities of material body determine the various types of men and their characters; they constitute the psychological basis of the organization of society into four classes or varnas and the division of an individual’s life into four stages or ashramas.

The duties of the different castes are thus defined by Manu : of the Brahmanas-teaching, studying, offering sacrifices, officiating at sacrifices, charity and acceptance of gifts; of the Kshatriyas-protection of the people, charity, performing sacrifices, study and want of attachment to pleasures; of the Vaishyas-cattle-rearing, agriculture, charity, performance of sacrifices, study, trade and money-lending; of the Shudras-service of the three orders.

 The four varnas are: 

(1) Brahmanas

The Brahmana is the lord of the entire creation for he sprang from the head of Brahma, and he is the eldest of all created beings’ (Manu, 1,92). In the first place, there are individuals in whom satva predominates over rajas and tamas. Such persons are men of thought and piety; they are calm and collected, and their efforts are steady. Such a person is designated as Brahmana by Manu. Brahmanas are teachers and preachers by profession. The Brahmanas were concerned with knowledge. Brahmanas were thinkers, priests and philosopher statesmen.

According to Manu, the study of Vedas, meditation, acquisition of wisdom, self discipline, purity, control of senses, service of fellow-men are the marks of the Brahmana. The Varna dharma denies the accumulation of wealth to the Brahmana; his main dharma lies in spiritual and intellectual quests. 

(2) Kshatriyas 

There are men in whom the quality of rajas is more prominent thar the other two; they are men of action and have an energetic temperament. Manu calls such person Kshatriyas. Kshatriyas are warriors and rulers of society. Delight in action, feats of valour, maintenance of public order and discipline and the joy of living are the marks of the Kshatriyas. The Kshatriyas were concerned with courage and valour in order to provide protection to the weak. To Kshatriyas Manu commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study (the Vedas)and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures. 

The Kshatriya might accumulate so m uch wealth as was necessary for the upkeep and protection of the people dependent upon him, and he was to use it for the same purpose. 

(3) Vaishyas 

There is a group of persons in whom the tamasic quality is more pronounced than the other two; they are impelled by desire and have the acquisitive and possessive instinct to a marked degree. They form the Vaishya class and devote themselves to trade, business, agriculture, industry, etc. The marks of the man of desire, i.e. the Vaishyas are possessiveness, pusillanimity and acquisitiveness. 

The Vaishyas were the people concerned with the satisfaction of necessities of life viz., agriculture, crafts and trade. To Vaishyas, Manu commanded to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, offer sacrifices, to study (the Vedas). to trade to lend money and to cultivate land. The Vaishya was allowed to accumulate wealth, but with a view to strengthening mainly the economic resources of the society and not for the purpose of hoarding merely for personal use. 

(4) Shudras 

There is the fourth class, that is the Shudra class. A Shudra has no defined personality; his thoughts, actions and desire do not mark a coherent pattern. He has not reached the stage in mental and moral development where he can form the conception of life’s goal or purpose. Manu calls him once- born. He is in the child stage, whatever the age of body may be. He is swayed by the impulse of the moment. He can progress in life only by taking such a part in the group life as will help him to come into contact with the members of the three upper classes who are known as vice born. This second birth consists in their initiation into the higher life of the spirit which synchronises with the ceremony of wearing the sacred thread and the beginning of the study of religious literature. 

One occupation only the Lord prescribed to the Shudras, was to serve meekly the other three castes. The Shudra class was designed to assist others by doing actual constructive work and also by directing their energies towards the service of the Varnas. He was not eligible for sacraments (samskaras), not for hearing sacred texts except their substance. 

Principles of found place in the social organization of Manu. But it is hierarchically- lower under higher-organized. Men are not equal in their executive capacity which manner. Each person must perform functions for which he is naturally endowed with. The people have to be given powers and functions in proportion to their qualities and talents. At the top came the Brahmanas-seeker of knowledge and virtue. Next to them are Kshatriyas who stand for bravery and protection of society. The Vaishyas look after production of services and goods. At the lowest, the Shudras perform normal labour. 

The social regulation of varna – dharma was so compact that the origin of varnas was attributed to the divine dispensation. In Purusha Sukta of Rig Veda, Brahmanas are represented as the mouth of the Purusha, the Rajanyas (i.e., Kshatriyas) his arms, the Vaishyas his thighs and the Shudras his feet. Thus, in describing the salient characteristies of ancient Indian society as a whole, one of the most important generalization is the concept of varna, from which later developed the caste system.

“On the whole, therefore, the Varna theory was devised With a view to engaging the different types of human energies in different channels, suitable to each of them, and all towards the one end of social organization, social stability and social progess’.”

Caste System in India

Question: Discuss Social Laws of Manu as prescribed in Manusmriti.


Manu and his Social Law

The term Manu is found with various meanings in Hinduism. In early texts, it refers to the archetypal man, or to the first man in the earth. The Sanskrit term Manu means, ‘human’. In later texts, Manu is the title or name of fourteen Kshatriya rulers of earth. He is the first teacher according to legends. He revealed the essence of humanity to mankind and was the first legislator to prescribe norms of social life and practices, later incorporated in various Dharmashastra and Samhitas, premised on a moral view of history. Manu’s social lawis explained as follows;

The Contents of Social Law:

In social laws origin of the world is described in mythological ways. Here, mythological figure of Shyambhu (Brhamma or God) is the main creator of the world. All things the earth, human being universal, heaven, hell etc. originated from him. Besides this, sources of the law and Dharma, Dharma of social classes, rules relating marriages, inheritance, food (dietary), pollution and purification, rules for women and wives, rules relating to crimes, punishments, dispensation of justice, rules of action in normal times and times of adversity, Dharma of a Brahmin, rules of action for a King, Vaisyas and Sudras, rules relating to fasting and penance, fruits of action and actions for supreme good contained in social laws.

Aim or purpose of Manu’s Social laws Prescribed in Manusmriti:

  1. Firstly, aim of social law of Manu is make people virtuous.  Manusmriti prescribes some ‘codes of social conduct’ for both individual and society for virtuous life and attainment of supreme individual good.  That means, if the principles of Manusmriti are followed it will bring an ideal life for both individual and society and so it is called supreme individual good. Here, there are some similarities between Plato and Manu. Both of them   said that individual should attain some virtues to establish an ideal society.
  • Secondly, Manu desired to make a particular social structure in society and he considered it as just and virtuous. It is similar to the Platonic ideal state. In Platonic hierarchical system the top position of was occupied by the guardians and next was the soldiers and in the bottom the workers.  But, Hierarchical, and Patriarchal social order of Manu was based on Varna system as prescribed in Vedas. The sequences from the top position of Manu’s hierarchical system was the Brahmin, Khastrya, Vaysa and in the bottom the Sudra.  Probably, at his period the social order was not good and therefore, he made a social hierarchical system on the basis of Varna to make the people virtuous and maintain social order and to fulfill a social life as mentioned above.
  • Thirdly, the aim of Manu was to maintain the traditional social order of Hindu religion through Manusmriti. He was not the lone sage who said about the social order based on Veda. He just attempted to prescribe laws and to maintain the order and attainment of highest personal and social Good.

Basis or Sources of Manu’s Social laws

   Manu prescribed four bases of social laws and these are

  1. According to Manu the main basis of social order was the Shrutis as prescribed in Vedas, and Upanishads. 
  2. Other basis is social practices, traditions, conventions and conduct of virtuous people, sages and of wise persons.
  3. Self satisfaction is another important basis of social law. Individual should not follow the social law blindly. If his conscience allows him he should follow the social laws, otherwise not.
  4. There are three scales – Inferences, Perception and Authority through which the social laws can be proved and it was called Pramanas (proof).  To justify the social laws no logic and reason should be applied. Because according to Manu all laws are given by God through His Vedas and therefore, it is not possible for people to justify these on the basis logic and reasons. These are the basis of social laws.

Social Structure based on social laws

Manu’s Views regarding society and its structure is multi-fold and these are explained as point wise as follows;

  1. Society, for Manu, is the creation and manifestation of the self existing supreme Brahma, i.e. the creator who created the universe, air land, heave, hell etc.
  • According to Manu society is an organic whole. The four Varnas or social classes as its limbs.  The organs of human body have no any existence if it is separated from the body. The body can perform functions with co-operation of different parts. Likewise, the society can perform its function with the co-operations with different Varna. This is similar to Plato’s ideas.
  • There are four fold divisions in society – Brahmans, Khastrya, Vaisya and Sudra. According to Manu this division of society is not just functional. It supposes a specific social hierarchy in society. The position of each Varna in the social hierarchy depends on the limb from which the Varna is said to have originated. It is assumed the four fold divisions are created from different parts of Brahma.
  • Unity of personal and common good Common good depends on proper discharge of duties by all the members of society. Similarly, personal good depends on the functioning of society as a whole, just like the health of body and of its limp are identified. It leads to the common good of society.

Question: Discuss the Varna (Caste) System of Manu


Varna (Caste) System

The caste system or the Varna system was an essential part of the social fabric of the ancient Hindu society. Manu thought that there are four Major castes i.e. the Varnas which is divine origin. There are some Slokas in Maunsmriti where the existence of caste system is recognized. Manu Believed that the society is like a human body. The human body performs its function with the co-operation of its different organs. Like human body society also performs its duty with the co-operation of different castes. Manu classified the human body into four parts – head, arms, chest and feet. The head of the body thinks gives suggestion and take decision. The arms protect the body. The chest takes the responsibility of food and the feet helps to walk and move. Like the functions of these organs in society also there are four sections- the Brahmins, Kshtriya, Vaishyas and Sudra. The Brahmins represents the head of the body and performs the functions of intellects, give advice the king and take decision. The Kshtriya represent the arms of who protect the territory of the state. The represents the Vaishyas chest and performs the function of producers and the Sudra which is the lower part of body should provide service to other three castes

  1. Brahmins (The priestly Class):  Brahmanasor the priestly class is predominantly spiritual class in society. The large portions of Slokas in Manusmriti are written on Brahmanas. Because, the Brahmin are on the top position of social hierarchy and it is absolute right of this caste to acquire knowledge of Veda. This caste is the treasure of knowledge and therefore, it is spiritually is the gate of knowledge. In modern terms they are like the scientists and research scholars.  Among the twice born Brahmanas is the first importance. Brahmanas are considered gods on earth. The main functions of Brahmanas are – teaching and studying Veda, scarifying of their own benefits for others and giving and accepting aid.  For special position in society they are also called privilege caste in society and as privilege caste they found some special facilities and these are – no tax, free lands and gifts, no capital punishment and lesser amount of punishment other than theft.
  • Kshatriyas (administrators and army men): The second important Varna is Kshatriyas, the military class. This caste enjoys the political powers. Its chief function is to protect people, territory of the country and maintain law and order in society. Other functions of this caste are to bestow gifts to Brahmanas, to offer sacrifices, like Brahmanas to study Veda and abstaining from sensual pleasures. Along with protecting the people and maintaining social order and peace it is also is to protect the King. The king isDivine origin. The creator created a king for the protection of whole world by drawing particle from the essence of Anil (wind), Yam (god of justice), Surya (sun), Agni (fire), Varuna, Chandra (moon) and Kuber (God of wealth). Therefore, the Kshatriyas are to protect the King because he is the head of the state.A king even though a child must not contempt by Kshatriyas.
  • Vaishyas (traders, farmers and herdsmen): Vaisyas are the agricultural traders, farmers and herdsmen who constitute the third eminent Dvija class.  The economic conditions of state most depend on this class.

Vaisyas were to tend cattle, to bestow gifts to Brahmanas, to offer sacrifices, to study Veda, to lend money and to cultivate land. They are usually wealthy with rights on land and property. The state takes care to protect their property and trade from internal disturbances and external invasions. They form the taxpaying lot who finance the political and religious operations in the state. The prosperity and stability of the state mainly depends on agricultural production and trade. So, Vaisyas are very prominent class in the society and therefore, like Brhamanas and Kshatriyas they also enjoyed    the privileges of being a Dvija (double born).

  • Sudras (The Serving Class): Sudras form the fourth Varna whose function is service to Dvijas i.e. Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas. They were not considered Dvijas. (Double born) they are or once born. They have no access to Veda and other purificatory rites which are exclusive for the Dvijas. Sudras are even denied collection of wealth. Except for theft, they get maximum punishment for same offence. A Sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude. They are designated as outcaste and it happens due to their bad deed done in their early birth. Again a Brahmin does the bad deed in his present position he will born as Sudra in next birth. At present they are known as Dalits.

Migration within Caste (Varnas)

According to Manu, the caste system is not based on birth. Therefore, there may be migration of caste. That means there may be caste mobility in caste system. Some of important aspects regarding caste migration are described as follows:

  1. Manusmriti asserts that Brahmin can become Shudra and Shudra can become Brahmin. Similarly Kshtariyas and Vaishyas can also change their Varnas.
  • If a Shudra (uneducated) serves the educated ones, is polite, devoid of ego and stays in respectful company of knowledgeable ones, he/ she is considered as having a noble birth and stature.
  • There are several shlokas in Manusmriti that state that a person belonging to high Varna falls down to level of a Shudra (uneducated) if he does not conduct noble deeds. For example, A person who does not worship the Supreme Lord twice daily should be considered a Shudra.
  • A Brahmin acquires brilliance through company of noble persons and avoiding bad company. On contrary, if he indulges in bad company, he becomes a Shudra.
  • A Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya who puts efforts in other areas except understanding and following the Vedic precepts becomes a Shudra and his future generations also suffer from ignorance of Vedas.
  • One becomes Brahmin only if he completes the education and not merely by taking birth in a Brahmin family or taking admission in Brahmin course of a gurukul. A Brahmin devoid of education is equivalent to an elephant made of wood or a deer made of leather. They are merely namesake and not real.
  • As per Manu, actual birth happens after completion of education. All human beings are Shudras or uneducated when born. Those who complete their education are supposed to have a new birth. Thus, they are called Dwija or Twice Born. Those who were unable to complete the education remain Shudra. This has nothing to do with birth or heredity. This is pure meritocracy.


The caste system as viewed by Manu can be criticized from different angles. These criticisms are mentioned as follows;

  1. Manu’s views regarding the classification of people on the basis of varnas are totally unscientific. He mentioned that the God, i.e. the Brhamma  has created the people from his four  Wings i.e. the Brahmins from his head, the Kshatriyas from arms or shoulders, the Vaishyas from chest and the Sudras from his feet is totally irrational.
  • Manu always tried to give privileges to and posed some restrictions on the lower caste, the Sudras.  
  • The tendency of Manu’s was to establish the slavery system in society and he treated the lower caste as slaves of the upper caste, the Brahmins.
  • The view of Manu regarding the caste system was fully contradictory. On the one hand his desire was to establish hegemony of upper caste; on the other hand he supported the caste mobility or migration of castes from one caste to another. 
  • One of the important virtues of Brahmins was to take education and by this they can intact their existing position in the society. Again he said that education should be open for all castes and by taking education the lower castes can reach to the position of upper castes. But, in his social stratification he imposed some restrictions for the lower castes for which it is no possible for the lower caste people to reach the position of upper caste. 
  • Manu said that if a Brahmin did not performs his duty assigned by Vedas he was considered as the Sudra, the lower caste people. But, in actual practice it did not happened. Once he got the status of upper caste he never gave up this to the lower caste. 


In conclusion it can be said that the Varna system as said by Manu is not rigid. It is flexible and changes according to functions performed by the castes in their day to day life. He viewed that caste system should not be based on birth.  He farther said that it is acquiring knowledge is the criteria of caste. The Brahmins can fall down to the Sudras if he takes liquor and again the Sudras can achieve the position of Brahmins through his noble deeds.  

Short Note


Manusmriti or Manava Dharmashartha is a mythical book of Hindu religion. It wasprobably Compiled in 220 BCE to 400 CE by mythical first man and lawgiver, Manu and his disciple Bhrigu. Manusmriti was a Compilation on moral, social, and religious code of Brahminical Hinduism of that time dealt mainly on dharma duties, righteousness, moral obligations, laws, conduct, virtues etc. for attainment of supreme personal and social Good. These codes are not secular code but based on only Hindu religion. Manusmriti is based on Shruti and Smriti. Shruti is the voice of God and the sages hear these voice and it’s remembered formed by the sages are called Smriti. The sages give religious teaching on the basis of Smritis. These Smritis are highest version of God so there is nothing above these Smritis. There are 12 chapters 2694 Shlokas.  1034 verses are related to Dharma of Brahmins and how to conduct and 971 verses for Dharma for Kshatriyas. It gave more importance on these upper Castes. Only few verses are found on Vysas and Sudras. Original text of Manusmriti is not available. There are only some interpretations and commentaries and these are also done from their own of interpreters.     Over the fifty manuscripts; one by kullka Bhatta of Kolkata School of fifteen century and it was taken up by European scholars and now considered most authentic. First Sanskrit text has been translated into English in 1794, by Sir William. Jones, and on the basis of it, the British colonial government formulate the Hindu personal law. Some Indian scholars commented on the Vivekananda, Amebedkar and Gandhi did accept the script whole heartedly. Vivekananda thought Manusmriti is outdated and therefore, new Manusmriti is to written. Amebedkar was deadly against Manusmriti and he therefore, burnt in a bonfire on December 25, 1925.  On the other hand, Gandhi accepted it as part of Shastra, but didn’t agree to contradicting and dehumanizing parts done against the lower castes of Hindu society.  But, some other scholars admired the script and among them Swami Dayanand saraswati, Annie Besent, Friedrich Nietsche. Friedrich Nietsch even commented that the Bible should be replaced by Manusmriti.

Manu’s Laws And Social Order

One of the most significant and reputable legal scriptures used in Hinduism is the Manu-Smriti. The Laws of Manu are other common names for it, along with Manav Dharma Shastra. Manu, the alleged first law-giver, is credited with penning the treatise in Sanskrit. Several respectable historians assert that Manu’s beliefs are reflected in the book as a discourse on issues like laws, duties, behavior, and other essential parts of everyday life. It outlines a set of moral principles for human society.

When the Manu-Smriti was written, modern civilizations did not even have a fundamental grasp of rules, rights, and other concepts that have a stifling effect on society. In this respect, it is acknowledged that the Manu-Smriti is largely progressive in most regards. For its opinions on women and the caste system at the same time, the text is attacked by a sizable segment of society.

In spite of the fact that more than fifty of its manuscripts have been discovered, there are several conflicts and inconsistencies regarding the legitimacy of Manu-Smriti. Each manuscript differs from the others, and over time, there have been numerous additions, deletions, and revisions that have changed the text’s structure.

It is also disputed if the text is the original creation of a single author or a collection of ideas from several intellectuals of the period. However, it is still possible for us to identify the text’s essential components, which discuss laws, rules, and customs.

The purpose of this research paper is to answer the following questions:

  1. firstly, how did the Manu-Smriti divide society into castes?
  2. Secondly, how does the Manu-Smriti handle the status of women in society?
  3. Thirdly, what was the concept of Rajdharma or the duties of the King given by Manu?

According to Indian mythology, Manu was the first man and the fabled author of the Manu-Smriti, a significant body of Sanskrit law. The name shares etymological roots with the Sanskrit verb man-, which means “to ponder,” and the Indo-European word “man.” Hinduism’s sacred text, the Vedas, describes Manu as the one who carried out the first sacrifice. He is also referred to as the first king, and the majority of the emperors of medieval India could be traced back to him through either his son or his daughter.

The Manusmriti, also known as “The Laws of Manu,” which is regarded as one of the most authoritative scriptures in the tradition, is one of the most authoritative writings in the Brahminical tradition that outlines social and civil regulations and codes of conduct required for the maintenance of dharma.

It establishes standards of behavior for both sexes belonging to the four social classes, or varnas-Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra-as well as guidelines for interactions among them. Additionally, it outlines behavior expectations for those in the four ashramas of life-brahmacharya, grihstashrama, vanprastha, and sanyasa.

In addition, it establishes laws governing civil issues like business and contracts as well as the rajdharma, or duties and obligations, of the King. These strict social norms and restrictions help to protect dharma, the hierarchical varna system-based social order in which Brahmans and Shudras have different social standings and advantages.

Manusmriti And Caste System

Nearly a thousand thirty-four verses of the Manu-Smriti text are devoted to the laws for and expected virtues of the Brahmans. Manu-major smriti’s section is this. The verse count for the Kshatriyas is somewhere between 971 and 972. In contrast, the laws and regulations for the two lower classes, the Vaishyas and Shudras, who represent the working class and merchant classes, respectively, are very brief in description.

This proves that the Manu-Smriti had a very judgmental viewpoint of the social groups that belonged to the lower castes. Manu preaches against Shudras and Vaishyas on multiple occasions in his verses, such as:

According to one of the verses, Brahma, the “ultimate creator,” gave birth to Brahmans from his mouth, Kshatriyas from his shoulders, Vaishyas from his thighs, and Shudras from his feet. The idea of untouchability, a serious societal ill, can be extrapolated from this statement that Vaishyas and Shudras should not be handled because they are filthy creatures.

In a different verse, Manu declares that according to what God commanded, a Shudra’s responsibility was to serve the upper castes with dedication and without complaint.

Manu believed Shudras were unsuitable to pursue education. The upper varnas, according to him, should not educate or give advice to Shudras. He believed that Shudras did not need to be aware of the laws and codes, hence they should not be taught about them.

People from all walks of life have rightfully attacked Manu-Smriti for encouraging social inequity and being a sign of hatred. These guidelines are still followed by dishonest religious individuals who also attempt to impose them on others. A well-known social reformer and advocate for equality, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, burned the Manu-Smriti in protest of such societal standards and claimed that it was to blame for the caste system’s pervasiveness in India. He noted that the Manu-Smriti impeded the development and advancement of the country.

Manu presents and defends the caste system in a very frightening and unsettling way. Manu has defended the caste system as the cornerstone of societal order and regularity. Vaishyas and Shudras are subjected to oppression and neglect while Brahmans and Kshatriyas are granted all the privileges a man could hope for.

Members of the upper caste receive forgiveness for their transgressions. The harshest punishment was meted out to a Shudra for even the smallest transgression, but a Brahman who harms a Shudra gets off easy. Things have altered in the modern world as a result of the political prominence of the caste system. The book Manu-Smriti is frequently burned in protest rallies because it is believed to be the root of India’s inequity.

Manusmriti And Women

The Manu-Smriti also receives criticism most frequently for how it portrays women and their place in society. Its portrayal of women offers a picture of how women were seen as little more than objects of males in ancient India, and we may relate to it to some extent by looking at how women are treated today in Indian society. Let’s start by looking at some passages from the Manu-Smriti that are discriminatory, prejudiced, and insulting toward women in order to understand how women are depicted in the literature.

According to him, the “smart” men are never unguarded in the presence of women because it is in a woman’s nature to seduce a man. He also advised against marrying a woman with reddish hair, a woman who is frequently ill, a woman with no hair or excessive hair. Wise men should only marry women who are physically flawless, have lovely names, grace comparable to an elephant, moderate hair on the head, soft limbs, etc. Girls should remain in the care of their fathers as children, their husbands as adults, and further, their sons as widows. Under no circumstances should she be allowed to make independent claims.

The Manu-Smriti lays down in great detail the responsibilities that a woman has in the home, denying her any freedom or opportunity to leave the home. Women have always been portrayed as being unable to support themselves independently and reliant on their spouses for all of their needs. For this reason, the Quran advises that women should continue to be under the care of their son, husband, and father in that order. A woman is referred to as virtuous and a “good lady” if she submits to her husband and treats him like a slave; yet, this is not said of a woman who uses her intelligence to acquire things.

In general, the Manu-Smriti advises women to concentrate on the tasks at hand, such as caring for the home and having children to preserve the family name, since these are the things they are apparently skilled in. According to the Manu-Smriti, a woman’s existence consists of three stages: birth, marriage-related obligations, and death. Given this situation, women’s status would inevitably decline, and this would be the cause of many of the issues we are presently dealing with, including dowries, child marriages, gender inequality, female feticide, and a host of other issues.

Child marriage and female feticide are two serious issues that Indian society is currently facing. These issues have been brought on by people who still adhere to the principles of antiquated religious scriptures like the Manu-Smriti and have a colonial mindset that fails to recognise their errors. We require a thorough educational programme that addresses these difficulties, informs people of the flaws in these antiquated books, and instructs them on how to approach all situations with a rational mind in order to completely eradicate these issues. There is no doubt that the future of society lies in education.

Manusmriti And Rajdharma

Numerous facets of rajdharma, or statecraft, are covered in depth in the seventh chapter of Manusmriti. The Dharmashastras have given considerable thought and discussion to the idea of rajdharma since it has always been of essential importance.

  • Who should reign as king?
  • How should he be taught?
  • What kind of training should a king receive?
  • A king is chosen in what way?
  • What obligations does he have to his family?
  • What role in the public is he supposed to play?
  • How will the social order be maintained and incorporated?

These were the main issues it tried to solve. In addition to these, a number of additional items were a component of the rajdharma of the traditional Indic government. Manu was the first to organize the study of governance and administration, even though all facets of statecraft had previously been discussed.

Manu was a staunch advocate for the “divine right doctrine” of the genesis of the state, which held that God created the state. According to K. P. Jayaswal, the doctrine of the king’s divinity was developed by Manusmriti to defend the Pusyamitra Brahmin empire and to refute the Buddhist theory of the state’s formation by contract.

God, who created the entire cosmic order, is in charge of ensuring both the well-being of the populace and the smooth operation of the entire system. He established the king as His representative on earth and the institution of kingship was born out of this idea. Even the Vedas and Upanishads have explanations of this. The notion that a king is a divine creation is one that Manusmriti shares.

Manu emphasizes the ruler’s moral and intellectual qualities because the monarch was the most significant component of the overall state administration. He is instructed to heed the advice of the Brahmins who are knowledgeable about the Vedas and are able to exert control over their senses. In order for a ruler to better govern his subjects, the Arthasastra also extols the virtues of self-discipline.

The king of Manu was the perfect man: intelligent, morally upright, efficient, well-educated, and a scholar. He was not a slave to his sexual inclinations and instincts, and he also lacked resentment and avarice. All of his subjects received the same treatment from him. Manu likens the character of this ideal ruler to the ocean, which is peaceful on the surface but deep and chaotic inside, harboring both pearl and trash.

Additionally, Manu lays out the attributes that a ruler must possess. The king had to be devoid of corruption and faithful to dharma, artha, kama, and moksha-the four tenets of satvik existence. He should have attributes like sama, dama, danda, and bheda because he is the state’s chief executive. Additionally, he needed to be modest, respectful, forceful, and driven.

The science of government is referred to by the titles Arthashastra and dandaniti in two different contexts. The Arthashastra is described by Kamasutra as a system of learning, lands, gold, cattle, domestic utensils, and enhancing what has been acquired. It is known as dandaniti when it pertains to the people’s government and penalizing offenders. The consensus among almost all authorities is that a state, or rajya, is made up of seven things (prakriti). The term “Saptanga Rajya,” or “state of the seven elements,” is used to describe it.

They are as follows:

  1. Swami (ruler or sovereign)
  2. Amatya (minister)
  3. Janapada or rashtra (the territory of the state and its people)
  4. Durga (fort, fortified city or capital)
  5. Kosa (accumulated wealth in the ruler’s treasury),
  6. Danda (army) and
  7. Mitra (friends or allies of the rajya).

Manu goes on to say that the punishment administered should be proportionate to the seriousness of the offense committed. Kautilya and Manu had similar opinions on the king’s coercive power, or danda. Along with the ideas of the earlier arthashastra philosophers, Manu expands on this idea.

The Lord, according to Manu, invented danda in order to benefit kings and kingdoms, and then appointed his own son as the defender of all living things and dharma, or morality. Danda doesn’t just rule over people; he also looks out for them. The danda’s terror keeps everything in order across the planet. A ruler who possesses these qualities-truth, wisdom, virtue, efficiency, and impartiality-is entitled to utilize danda.


On the other hand, the same danda that the corrupt and dishonest king inflicts is used to destroy him. Along with his tribe and realm, he is destroyed. One who is prepared to use danda inspires awe throughout the entire planet. No person is exempt from the king’s danda if they fail to do their obligations, whether they be the father, mother, friend, or domestic priest.

The purpose of the danda is to maintain social order stability as well as individual safety of life and property. The theory of the temporal ruler’s creation and endowment by God is entirely consistent with this understanding of danda. Sometimes, the word “danda” is also associated with “dharma” or “law,” signifying that one is necessary in order to carry out the other. Manu also establishes the notion of the king’s unrestricted jurisdiction over all criminals and offenders, regardless of their social or political standing.

This is consistent with the Arthashastra’s application of the danda principle. He adds that God created retribution, or danda, so the king could carry out his responsibilities successfully. In addition, he has issued a warning that using force or power should only be done so when it is absolutely necessary to punish those who have been found guilty in order to both correct the offender and serve as a deterrent to others.

The army and local governments are also examined by Manu, as they are tools for enforcing the territorial limits of the state or kingdom as well as the authority over its citizens. His system of local government consists of a number of officials at different levels in charge of smaller and larger groups of villages with a minister of the monarch to routinely inspect their work.

The village, which is headed by a headman, is the main administrative unit in the area. Groups of ten, twenty, hundred, and thousand villages comprised the gradually higher tiers of local government.

A supervisor of all affairs with an army of spies to help him “explore the behaviour of the people” was another requirement he insisted on. A minister should be assigned to oversee local government as a whole at the headquarters. For the kingdom’s defense, a company of troops must be stationed in the middle of two, three, five, or hundreds of villages.

Manu’s Code Of Law

Greater stress was placed on the concepts of justice and equity by Manu, who also felt that whomever breaks justice is always disgusting. The original court and the appellate tribunal are merged in the king, who administers justice. The monarch oversees the courts, and he is supported in this by Brahmins and seasoned councilors.

Cases must be decided in line with the sacred law’s institutions and the guiding principles of regional customs. The king shall appoint a learned Brahmin and three sabhyas (assessors) to decide the cases in the event that he is unable to administer justice himself for whatever cause. Following the defendant’s denial of the allegations, the complainant should invite witnesses or present more evidence.

If there is disagreement among the witness statements, the king must take the majority of the evidence as conclusive. Judges should use an investigative approach if there are no witnesses. Yajnavalkya categorizes the three types of proofs-documents, witnesses, and possessions-in a way that further organizes Manu’s notions about evidence.

The idea of social justice as it exists today is included in Manu’s conception of justice. He referred to it as the “social purpose of justice,” where the king had to stand out for the rights of people who couldn’t stand up for themselves. A minor’s inheritance and other property must be protected by the king until the minor returns from his teacher’s house or reaches adulthood, he continues. Additionally, he had to look for orphans, barren women, males without kids, spouses, widows, and ladies afflicted with various ailments.

In Manu’s day, this enormous subcontinent was home to diverse ethnic and linguistic groupings with a wide range of worldviews and moral principles. Manu could sense the necessity to preserve this diversity of culture and society as a one organic unit. Almost all facets of life are covered in Manusmriti, including political, economic, legal, social, etc.

It is an omnibus that is of gigantic and epic proportions that is still relevant today. Manu works to modify human life in order to accomplish normatively stated goals by using law and politics as instruments of continuity. It is the moral realization of the ideas of that great thinker from ancient India who advocated both pragmatism and idealism. This is possibly the most outstanding aspect of the book, which has added a hint of universality while tempering it with particularities that cross the boundaries of time.

Manu frequently receives criticism for combining law and religion. Manu claimed that his rules were inspired by God, although this is more a reflection of the time he lived in and is not inherently flawed. In fact, the majority of ancient people believed that their rules were divinely inspired. In ancient Egypt, the Gods were said to be the source of law. The Hammurabi Code and the Manusmriti rules both professed to be founded on divine inspiration.

The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are claimed to have been spoken to Moses by Yahweh. Furthermore, it was claimed that Moses received all of the commandments recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers directly from God.

In fact, Manu-Smriti encourages and counsels the usage of the oppressive caste system in society to categorize people according to their line of work. Even more obscene seems to be the continued use of this system. How is it that society still adheres to a petty, misguided, and discriminatory caste system despite having learned so many lessons?

The fact that Manu-Smriti, a book that Hindus hold in high favor and consider to be their law manual, portrays women in such a deplorable way. This shows us clearly how males frequently utilize and treat women as objects in today’s culture. The only long-term answer to eliminating these social ills is to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality education so they are aware of the myths that society likes to perpetuate.

The Manusmriti, also known as “The Laws of Manu,” is regarded as one of the most authoritative scriptures in the tradition and is one of the most authoritative writings in the Brahminical tradition that outlines social and civil regulations and codes of conduct required for the maintenance of dharma.

Manu wrote about how the society should be divided according to the different varnas as well as guidelines for interactions among them. Additionally, Manu had also outlined the behavior expectations for those in the four Ashramas Of Life-Brahmacharya, Grihstashrama, Vanprastha, And Sanyasa. He also gave certain strict guidelines for women and women had no rights or independence, they were even not allowed to have property rights.

Manu was regarded as the first king and he was the one who gave certain duties for the king as to how he is supposed to govern(Rajdharma).

Manu also gave the code of law which is regarded as the first legal doctrine in the world.

Though Manu’s code has a lot of shortcomings but the fact that it was the first legal doctrine which served as a base for modern legal principles.

The Varna, The Jati and The Caste: The Good, The Rational and The Horrible

In the vast lexicon of Sanatan Dharm, the term ‘Varna,’ often misinterpreted as ‘caste,’ holds a far more profound significance. The essence of Varna is neither discriminatory nor restrictive; instead, it is a system that promotes self-discovery, societal organization, and personal growth. 

The Four Varnas

The Varna system in Sanatan Dharm divides society into four major categories: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras, each with distinctive traits and responsibilities.

1. Brahmins: The intellectuals, teachers, and scholars. As per Bhagwad Gita (18.42):

“शमो दमस्तप: शौचं क्षान्तिरार्जवमेव च |

ज्ञानं विज्ञानमास्तिक्यं ब्रह्मकर्म स्वभावजम् || 42||”

(śhamo damas tapaḥ śhauchaṁ kṣhāntir ārjavam eva cha

jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam)

“Tranquility, restraint, austerity, purity, patience, integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and belief in a hereafter—these are the intrinsic qualities of work for Brahmins.”

2. Kshatriyas: The warriors, rulers, and administrators. As elucidated in Bhagwad Gita (18.43):

“शौर्यं तेजो धृतिर्दाक्ष्यं युद्धे चाप्यपलायनम् |

दानमीश्वरभावश्च क्षात्रं कर्म स्वभावजम् || 43||”

(śhauryaṁ tejo dhṛitir dākṣhyaṁ yuddhe chāpy apalāyanam

dānam īśhvara-bhāvaśh cha kṣhātraṁ karma svabhāva-jam)

“Valor, strength, fortitude, skill in weaponry, resolve never to retreat from battle, large-heartedness in charity, and leadership abilities, these are the natural qualities of work for Kshatriyas.”

3. Vaishyas: The merchants, agriculturists, and traders. As described in Bhagwad Gita (18.44 – 1st line):

“कृषिगौरक्ष्यवाणिज्यं वैश्यकर्म स्वभावजम् |

(kṛiṣhi-gau-rakṣhya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśhya-karma svabhāva-jam)

“Agriculture, dairy farming, and commerce are the natural works for those with the qualities of Vaishyas.

4. Shudras: Those who serve the other 3 Varnas. As described in Bhagwad Gita (18.44 – 2nd line):

परिचर्यात्मकं कर्म शूद्रस्यापि स्वभावजम् || 44||

(paricharyātmakaṁ karma śhūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam)

Serving through work is the natural duty for those with the qualities of Shudras.

The Manusmriti (Verse 10.4) confirms this classification:

“ब्राह्मणः क्षत्रियो वैश्यस्त्रयो वर्णा द्विजातयः ।

चतुर्थ एकजातिस्तु शूद्रो नास्ति तु पञ्चमः ॥ ४ ॥”

(brāhmaṇaḥ kṣatriyo vaiśyastayo varṇā dvijātayaḥ

caturtha ekajātistu śūdro nāsti tu pañcamaḥ)

“The Brāhmaṇa, the Kṣatriya, and the Vaiśya are the three twice-born varnas; the fourth is the one varna, Śūdra; there is no fifth.”

However, these Varnas do not denote hereditary castes but represent fluid classifications based on inherent qualities and deeds.

Varna and Deeds: Not Hereditary but Acquired

The Varna system is not a rigid, birth-based stratification as it’s often misconstrued. It classifies individuals based on their inherent qualities (Gunas) and actions (Karma), not birth.

The Manusmriti (Verse 10.65) affirms this principle:

“शूद्रो ब्राह्मणतामेति ब्राह्मणश्चैति शूद्रताम् ।

क्षत्रियाज् जातमेवं तु विद्याद् वैश्यात् तथैव च ॥ ६५ ॥”

(śūdro brāhmaṇatāmeti brāhmaṇaścaiti śūdratām |

kṣatriyāj jātamevaṃ tu vidyād vaiśyāt tathaiva ca || 65 ||)

“The Śūdra attains the position of the Brāhmaṇa, and the Brāhmaṇa sinks to the position of the Śūdra; the same should be understood to be the case with the offspring of the Kṣatriya or of the Vaiśya.”


The Role of Deeds in Determining Varna

Bhagavad Gita (18.55) provides further insight into this, emphasizing the critical role of performing one’s duties to attain perfection:

“स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरत: संसिद्धिं लभते नर: |

स्वकर्मनिरत: सिद्धिं यथा विन्दति तच्छृणु || 45||”

(sve sve karmaṇyabhirataḥ saṁsiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ

svakarmanirataḥ siddhiṁ yathā vindati tachchhṛiṇu)

“Each person attains perfection by dedicating themselves to their natural duties. Now hear how a person attains perfection by engaging in their natural duties.”

It is clear that the Varna system, as envisaged in Sanatan Dharm, is a profound and flexible social structure designed to cater to individual predispositions and talents, focusing more on personal qualities and deeds rather than birth.

The Flexibility of Varna System

The dynamism of the Varna system is evident from the fact that it can be changed during a person’s life through actions. The Bhagwad Gita (Verse 18.55) states, “By fulfilling their duties, born of their innate qualities, human beings can attain perfection.” This verse elucidates the adaptability and fluidity of the Varna system, signifying that the Varna of an individual can evolve based on one’s actions and qualities.

Misinterpretations and Misconceptions

The rigid interpretation of the Varna system, with no scope for upward mobility, is a more modern concept and is largely a result of the willful erroneous translation and interpretation of Hindu scriptures. A primary culprit in this misrepresentation was the German philologist and Orientalist Friedrich Max Muller.

While Max Muller played a significant role in introducing the Western world to the vast corpus of Indian scriptures, his translations, particularly concerning the Varna system, have been widely criticized for injecting colonial and racial biases. His translation, influenced by the prevalent social stratification in Victorian England, cast the Varna system as a rigid, birth-based system, which was contradictory to the fluid, qualities, and deeds-based categorization envisioned in the original texts.

To fully comprehend the wisdom of Sanatan Dharm, it is critical to understand the Varna system’s true essence and intent. An unbiased interpretation reveals a profound social structure that values individual qualities and contributions, providing a pathway for everyone to attain perfection through their unique path of action.

The Jāti System in Sanatan Dharma: A Fluid Classification Rooted in Occupation

The concept of Jāti in Sanatan Dharma, often translated as ‘caste’, traces its roots to the Sanskrit word ‘जाति’ (Jāti), derived from ‘जात्’ (Jāt), which means ‘born’ or, in a broader sense, ‘born in.’ Rather than denoting a rigid hierarchy, the Jāti system provides a flexible, occupation-based classification much akin to the concept of a ‘clan’ in English. This system has practical implications, largely influenced by the occupational nature of the family one is born into, and has been misinterpreted and misrepresented over time, often for political or ideological reasons.

Jāti: A Socio-occupational Classification

The Jāti system essentially pertains to the occupation or profession of a family or community. A child born into a goldsmith’s family, for instance, would naturally acquire the skills of melting, casting, and carving gold from a young age. Such skill inheritance leads to the child’s outperformance in the goldsmithing art, compared to children from other Jātis.

It’s critical to understand that the Jāti system is neither rigid nor immutable. New Jātis can emerge, reflecting changes in the job market or societal structure. For example, the British India era saw the rise of the Kanungo Jāti, supervisors of Patwaris (village registrars or clerks in the Indian system), where ‘Kanungo’ symbolizes ‘the knower of laws’. As society evolves, it’s plausible that a new Jāti such as ‘Sanganakagya’ (a term translating to ‘Knower of Computers’) might arise, reflecting the prevalence of software engineers in modern society.

The Fluidity and Mobility within the Jāti System

The Jāti system provides a broad framework, not a constraining straitjacket. There’s significant fluidity in this system, as seen in how individuals across generations have chosen professions outside of their family occupations.

While it’s common to see children pursuing professions similar to their parents – like a doctor’s child becoming a doctor or a lawyer’s child a lawyer – there are countless instances of individuals breaking this trend. A doctor’s son might choose to become an actor, or a lawyer’s son may develop a passion for astrophysics. The Jāti (often denoted by one’s surname) does not dictate a person’s destiny or occupational choice.

Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations of the Jāti System

Contrary to popular belief and the numerous narratives peddled by Western Indologists and intellectuals, the Jāti system is not a confining structure designed to imprison individuals within certain occupations. It’s a flexible system allowing for occupational mobility and individual choice.

Notable figures in history demonstrate this fluidity. Gautam Buddha, born into royalty, chose a life of asceticism. Mahatma Gandhi, with a surname denoting skill in perfumery, is globally renowned not as a perfume maker but as a barrister-turned-freedom fighter.

Social Stratification in Victorian England: A Detailed Examination

Social stratification in Colonial England that peaked during the Victorian era (1837-1901) was markedly hierarchical, rigid, and complex. A social class system, largely based on birth, wealth, and occupation, dominated society and dictated one’s life opportunities. This system played a crucial role in shaping social relationships, economic conditions, and cultural norms.

The Aristocracy

At the top of Victorian England’s social hierarchy was the aristocracy, comprising the monarchy, nobles, dukes, earls, viscounts, barons, and other titled individuals. The aristocracy’s privileges stemmed primarily from hereditary titles and land ownership. This group made up a very small percentage of the population but held substantial influence in the political, social, and economic spheres.

The Aristocracy was further divided into the upper and lower aristocracy. The upper aristocracy included the royal family and the nobility, who were typically landowners with significant wealth. The lower aristocracy consisted of individuals with hereditary titles but had lesser landholdings and financial resources.

The Working Class

The majority of the Victorian population belonged to the working class, individuals employed in manual labor. This group included factory workers, miners, servants, farm laborers, and other manual laborers. Their work conditions were often harsh, with long hours, low pay, and minimal security.

The working class was divided into skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled laborers. Skilled workers, such as artisans or craftsmen, had specific trades and could earn a decent living. Semi-skilled and unskilled laborers, however, often lived in poverty and faced challenging living conditions.

The Underclass

Beneath the working class was the underclass, comprised of the poor and destitute who struggled for daily survival. This group included beggars, vagrants, prostitutes, and criminals. They were generally unemployed or employed in low-paying, unstable jobs.

So, we can see clearly that England’s social stratification was a well-defined and rigid class system structured around birth, wealth, and occupation. It shaped social norms, life opportunities, and interpersonal relationships during the era. The upward mobility was a big zero and still exists in a somewhat diluted form.

So, what is CASTE, then?

The English word “caste” was derived from the Portuguese term “casta,” meaning “race” or “lineage,” and can also be translated as “class of people” or “breed.” It referred to a fixed, hereditary system of social stratification. British colonizers loved the word. They found the concept of a social hierarchy similar to their own. This appealed to their English sensibilities, which were grounded in a well-defined class system back home.

And thus, the British, as part of their strategy of governance, codified and rigidified the fluid and complex social structures they encountered in India, simplifying them into a hierarchical system that could be easily managed and manipulated. This facilitated the British imperial policy of “divide and rule”, as it emphasized and institutionalized divisions within Indian society.

Varna became Caste. India changed forever.

The imposition of the rigid British interpretation of “caste” upon the fluid Vedic Varna system had significant and lasting impacts on Indian society. It effectively hardened what was previously a more flexible structure, pushing individuals into rigid social and occupational roles based on their birth and fostering deep-seated social divisions that persist to this day.

  • Loss of Social Mobility: The Vedic Varna system allowed for high social mobility, as it was rooted in individual abilities and qualities rather than birth. The British, however, rigidified these roles based on their understanding of caste as a hereditary, immutable class. This led to a loss of social mobility, with individuals trapped in the social roles assigned by their birth.
  • Division and Discrimination: The British colonial government deepened the divisions between different castes, using them to divide and rule India. This led to increased discrimination and social tension between different social groups, many of which persist today.
  • Distortion of Social Identity: The colonial interpretation of caste led to the distortion and oversimplification of India’s diverse social identities. Many diverse and complex social groups were lumped together under a single caste label, losing their unique identities and practices.
  • Entrenchment of Caste Hierarchies: The colonial administration often favored certain castes over others for jobs and opportunities, entrenching social hierarchies and perpetuating social inequality. The effects of these policies continue to affect Indian society, with certain castes facing significant social and economic disadvantages.
  • Creation of Caste Consciousness: Prior to British rule, individuals were conscious of their varna or jati, but the notion of a pan-Indian caste identity didn’t exist. The British classification created a consciousness about one’s caste on a pan-Indian level.

The imposition of the British understanding of “caste” on the Vedic Varna system created deep divisions and inequalities within Indian society that continue to persist. It created a rigid, hierarchical system of social stratification that was based on birth rather than individual qualities and abilities, significantly affecting the social dynamics of Indians not just in India but the Indian diaspora living in Western countries. The West still seeks to divide Indians based on “caste.” One such example is the caste-based Bill SB-403 in California. But that is a topic for another day.

Chapter IX:

1. I will now propound the eternal laws for a husband and his wife who keep to the path of duty, whether they be united or separated.

2. Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control.

3. Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.

4. Reprehensible is the father who gives not (his daughter in marriage) at the proper time; reprehensible is the husband who approaches not (his wife in due season), and reprehensible is the son who does not protect his mother after her husband has died.

5. Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear); for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families.

6. Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands (must) strive to guard their wives.

7. He who carefully guards his wife, preserves (the purity of) his offspring, virtuous conduct, his family, himself, and his (means of acquiring) merit.

8. The husband, after conception by his wife, becomes an embryo and is born again of her; for that is the wifehood of a wife (gaya), that he is born (gayate) again by her.

9. As the male is to whom a wife cleaves, even so is the son whom she brings forth; let him therefore carefully guard his wife, in order to keep his offspring pure.

10. No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:

11. Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfilment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.

12. Women, confined in the house under trustworthy and obedient servants, are not (well) guarded; but those who of their own accord keep guard over themselves, are well guarded.

13. Drinking (spirituous liquor), associating with wicked people, separation from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping (at unseasonable hours), and dwelling in other men’s houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women.

14. Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), ‘(It is enough that) he is a man,’ they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly.

15. Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world).

16. Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, (every) man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them.

17. (When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their) bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct.

18. For women no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women (who are) destitute of strength and destitute of (the knowledge of) Vedic texts, (are as

impure as) falsehood (itself), that is a fixed rule.

19. And to this effect many sacred texts are sung also in the Vedas, in order to (make) fully known the true disposition (of women); hear (now those texts which refer to) the expiation of their (sins).

20. ‘If my mother, going astray and unfaithful, conceived illicit desires, may my father keep that seed from me,’ that is the scriptural text.

21. If a woman thinks in her heart of anything that would pain her husband, the (above-mentioned text) is declared (to be a means for) completely removing such infidelity.

22. Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a river (united) with the ocean.

23. Akshamala, a woman of the lowest birth, being united to Vasishtha and Sarangi, (being united) to Mandapala, became worthy of honour.

24. These and other females of low birth have attained eminence in this world by the respective good qualities of their husbands.

25. Thus has been declared the ever pure popular usage (which regulates the relations) between husband and wife; hear (next) the laws concerning children which are the cause of happiness in this world and after death.

26. Between wives (striyah) who (are destined) to bear children, who secure many blessings, who are worthy of worship and irradiate (their) dwellings, and between the goddesses of fortune (sriyah, who reside) in the houses (of men), there is no difference whatsoever.

27. The production of children, the nurture of those born, and the daily life of men, (of these matters) woman is visibly the cause.

28. Offspring, (the due performance on religious rites, faithful service, highest conjugal happiness and heavenly bliss for the ancestors and oneself, depend on one’s wife alone.

29. She who, controlling her thoughts, speech, and acts, violates not her duty towards her lord, dwells with him (after death) in heaven, and in this world is called by the virtuous a faithful (wife, sadhvi)

30. But for disloyalty to her husband a wife is censured among men, and (in her next life) she is born in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases, the punishment of her sin.

31. Listen (now) to the following holy discussion, salutary to all men, which the virtuous (of the present day) and the ancient great sages have held concerning male offspring.

32. They (all) say that the male issue (of a woman) belongs to the lord, but with respect to the (meaning of the term) lord the revealed texts differ; some call the begetter (of the child the lord),

others declare (that it is) the owner of the soil.

33. By the sacred tradition the woman is declared to be the soil, the man is declared to be the seed; the production of all corporeal beings (takes place) through the union of the soil with the seed.

34. In some cases the seed is more distinguished, and in some the womb of the female; but when both are equal, the offspring is most highly esteemed.

35. On comparing the seed and the receptacle (of the seed), the seed is declared to be more important; for the offspring of all created beings is marked by the characteristics of the seed.

36. Whatever (kind on seed is sown in a field, prepared in due season, (a plant) of that same kind, marked with the peculiar qualities of the seed, springs up in it.

37. This earth, indeed, is called the primeval womb of created beings; but the seed develops not in its development any properties of the womb.

38. In this world seeds of different kinds, sown at the proper time in the land, even in one field, come forth (each) according to its kind.

39. The rice (called) vrihi and (that called) sali, mudga-beans, sesamum, masha-beans, barley, leeks, and sugar-cane, (all) spring up according to their seed.

40. That one (plant) should be sown and another be produced cannot happen; whatever seed is sown, (a plant of) that kind even comes forth.

41. Never therefore must a prudent well-trained man, who knows the Veda and its Angas and desires long life, cohabit with another’s wife.

42. With respect to this (matter), those acquainted with the past recite some stanzas, sung by Vayu (the Wind, to show) that seed must not be sown by (any) man on that which belongs to another.

43. As the arrow, shot by (a hunter) who afterwards hits a wounded (deer) in the wound (made by another), is shot in vain, even so the seed, sown on what belongs to another, is quickly lost (to the sower).

44. (Sages) who know the past call this earth (prithivi) even the wife of Prithu; they declare a field to belong to him who cleared away the timber, and a deer to him who (first) wounded it.

45. He only is a perfect man who consists (of three persons united), his wife, himself, and his offspring; thus (says the Veda), and (learned) Brahmanas propound this (maxim) likewise, ‘The husband is declared to be one with the wife.’

46. Neither by sale nor by repudiation is a wife released from her husband; such we know the law to be, which the Lord of creatures (Pragapati) made of old.

47. Once is the partition (of the inheritance) made, (once is) a maiden given in marriage, (and) once does (a man) say,’ I will give;’ each of those three (acts is done) once only.

48. As with cows, mares, female camels, slave-girls, buffalo-cows, she-goats, and ewes, it is not the begetter (or his owner) who obtains the offspring, even thus (it is) with the wives of others.

49. Those who, having no property in a field, but possessing seed-corn, sow it in another’s soil, do indeed not receive the grain of the crop which may spring up.

50. If (one man’s) bull were to beget a hundred calves on another man’s cows, they would belong to the owner of the cows; in vain would the bull have spent his strength.

51. Thus men who have no marital property in women, but sow their seed in the soil of others, benefit the owner of the woman; but the giver of the seed reaps no advantage.

52. If no agreement with respect to the crop has been made between the owner of the field and the owner of the seed, the benefit clearly belongs to the owner of the field; the receptacle is more important than the seed.

53. But if by a special contract (a field) is made over (to another) for sowing, then the owner of the seed and the owner of the soil are both considered in this world as sharers of the (crop).

54. If seed be carried by water or wind into somebody’s field and germinates (there), the (plant sprung from that) seed belongs even to the owner of the field, the owner of the seed does not receive the crop.

55. Know that such is the law concerning the offspring of cows, mares, slave-girls, female camels, she-goats, and ewes, as well as of females of birds and buffalo-cows.

56. Thus the comparative importance of the seed and of the womb has been declared to you; I will next propound the law (applicable) to women in times of misfortune.

57. The wife of an elder brother is for his younger (brother) the wife of a Guru; but the wife of the younger is declared (to be) the daughter-in-law of the elder.

58. An elder (brother) who approaches the wife of the younger, and a younger (brother who approaches) the wife of the elder, except in times of misfortune, both become outcasts, even though (they were duly) authorised.

59. On failure of issue (by her husband) a woman who has been authorised, may obtain, (in the) proper (manner prescribed), the desired offspring by (cohabitation with) a brother-in-law or (with some other) Sapinda (of the husband).

60. He (who is) appointed to (cohabit with) the widow shall (approach her) at night anointed with clarified butter and silent, (and) beget one son, by no means a second.

61. Some (sages), versed in the law, considering the purpose of the appointment not to have been attained by those two (on the birth of the first), think that a second (son) may be lawfully procreated on (such) women.

62. But when the purpose of the appointment to (cohabit with) the widow bas been attained in accordance with the law, those two shall behave towards each other like a father and a daughter-in-law.

63. If those two (being thus) appointed deviate from the rule and act from carnal desire, they will both become outcasts, (as men) who defile the bed of a daughter-in-law or of a Guru.

64. By twice-born men a widow must not be appointed to (cohabit with) any other (than her husband); for they who appoint (her) to another (man), will violate the eternal law.

65. In the sacred texts which refer to marriage the appointment (of widows) is nowhere mentioned, nor is the re-marriage of widows prescribed in the rules concerning marriage.

66. This practice which is reprehended by the learned of the twice-born castes as fit for cattle is said (to have occurred) even among men, while Vena ruled.

67. That chief of royal sages who formerly possessed the whole world, caused a confusion of the castes (varna), his intellect being destroyed by lust.

68. Since that (time) the virtuous censure that (man) who in his folly appoints a woman, whose husband died, to (bear) children (to another man).

69. If the (future) husband of a maiden dies after troth verbally plighted, her brother-in-law shall wed her according to the following rule.

70. Having, according to the rule, espoused her (who must be) clad in white garments and be intent on purity, he shall approach her once in each proper season until issue (be had).

71. Let no prudent man, after giving his daughter to one (man), give her again to another; for he who gives (his daughter) whom he had before given, incurs (the guilt of) speaking falsely regarding a human being.

72. Though (a man) may have accepted a damsel in due form, he may abandon (her if she be) blemished, diseased, or deflowered, and (if she have been) given with fraud.

73. If anybody gives away a maiden possessing blemishes without declaring them, (the bridegroom) may annul that (contract) with the evil-minded giver.

74. A man who has business (abroad) may depart after securing a maintenance for his wife; for a wife, even though virtuous, may be corrupted if she be distressed by want of subsistence.

75. If (the husband) went on a journey after providing (for her), the wife shall subject herself to restraints in her daily life; but if he departed without providing (for her), she may subsist by blameless manual work.

76. If the husband went abroad for some sacred duty, (she) must wait for him eight years, if (he went) to (acquire) learning or fame six (years), if (he went) for pleasure three years.

77. For one year let a husband bear with a wife who hates him; but after (the lapse of) a year let him deprive her of her property and cease to cohabit with her.

78. She who shows disrespect to (a husband) who is addicted to (some evil) passion, is a drunkard, or diseased, shall be deserted for three months (and be) deprived of her ornaments and furniture.

79. But she who shows aversion towards a mad or outcast (husband), a eunuch, one destitute of manly strength, or one afflicted with such diseases as punish crimes, shall neither be cast off nor be deprived of her property.

80. She who drinks spirituous liquor, is of bad conduct, rebellious, diseased, mischievous, or wasteful, may at any time be superseded (by another wife).

81. A barren wife may be superseded in the eighth year, she whose children (all) die in the tenth, she who bears only daughters in the eleventh, but she who is quarrelsome without delay.

82. But a sick wife who is kind (to her husband) and virtuous in her conduct, may be superseded (only) with her own consent and must never be disgraced.

83. A wife who, being superseded, in anger departs from (her husband’s) house, must either be instantly confined or cast off in the presence of the family.

84. But she who, though having been forbidden, drinks spirituous liquor even at festivals, or goes to public spectacles or assemblies, shall be fined six krishnalas.

85. If twice-born men wed women of their own and of other (lower castes), the seniority, honour, and habitation of those (wives) must be (settled) according to the order of the castes (varna).

86. Among all (twice-born men) the wife of equal caste alone, not a wife of a different caste by any means, shall personally attend her husband and assist him in his daily sacred rites.

87. But he who foolishly causes that (duty) to be performed by another, while his wife of equal caste is alive, is declared by the ancients (to be) as (despicable) as a Kandala (sprung from the) Brahmana (caste).

88. To a distinguished, handsome suitor (of) equal (caste) should (a father) give his daughter in accordance with the prescribed rule, though she have not attained (the proper age).

89. (But) the maiden, though marriageable, should rather stop in (the father’s) house until death, than that he should ever give her to a man destitute of good qualities.

90. Three years let a damsel wait, though she be marriageable; but after that time let her choose for herself a bridegroom (of) equal (caste and rank).

91. If, being not given in marriage, she herself seeks a husband, she incurs no guilt, nor (does) he whom she weds.

92. A maiden who choses for herself, shall not take with her any ornaments, given by her father or her mother, or her brothers; if she carries them away, it will be theft.

93. But he who takes (to wife) a marriageable damsel, shall not pay any nuptial fee to her father; for the (latter) will lose his dominion over her in consequence of his preventing (the legitimate result of the appearance of) her enemies.

94. A man, aged thirty years, shall marry a maiden of twelve who pleases him, or a man of twenty-four a girl eight years of age; if (the performance of) his duties would (otherwise) be impeded, (he must marry) sooner.

95. The husband receives his wife from the gods, (he does not wed her) according to his own will; doing what is agreeable to the gods, he must always support her (while she is) faithful.

96. To be mothers were women created, and to be fathers men; religious rites, therefore, are ordained in the Veda to be performed (by the husband) together with the wife.

97. If, after the nuptial fee has been paid for a maiden, the giver of the fee dies, she shall be given in marriage to his brother, in case she consents.

98. Even a Sudra ought not to take a nuptial fee, when he gives away his daughter; for he who takes a fee sell his daughter, covering (the transaction by another name).

99. Neither ancients nor moderns who were good men have done such (a deed) that, after promising (a daughter) to one man, they have her to another;

100. Nor, indeed, have we heard, even in former creations, of such (a thing as) the covert sale of a daughter for a fixed price, called a nuptial fee.

101. ‘Let mutual fidelity continue until death,’ this may be considered as the summary of the highest law for husband and wife.

102. Let man and woman, united in marriage, constantly exert themselves, that (they may not be) disunited (and) may not violate their mutual fidelity.

103. Thus has been declared to you the law for a husband and his wife, which is intimately connected with conjugal happiness, and the manner of raising offspring in times of calamity; learn (now the law concerning) the division of the inheritance.

104. After the death of the father and of the mother, the brothers, being assembled, may divide among themselves in equal shares the paternal (and the maternal) estate; for, they have no power (over it) while the parents live.

105. (Or) the eldest alone may take the whole paternal estate, the others shall live under him just as (they lived) under their father.

106. Immediately on the birth of his first-born a man is (called) the father of a son and is freed from the debt to the manes; that (son), therefore, is worthy (to receive) the whole estate.

107. That son alone on whom he throws his debt and through whom he obtains immortality, is begotten for (the fulfilment of) the law; all the rest they consider the offspring of desire.

108. As a father (supports) his sons, so let the eldest support his younger brothers, and let them also in accordance with the law behave towards their eldest brother as sons (behave towards their father).

109. The eldest (son) makes the family prosperous or, on the contrary, brings it to ruin; the eldest (is considered) among men most worthy of honour, the eldest is not treated with disrespect by the virtuous.

110. If the eldest brother behaves as an eldest brother (ought to do), he (must be treated) like a mother and like a father; but if he behaves in a manner unworthy of an eldest brother, he should yet be honoured like a kinsman.

111. Either let them thus live together, or apart, if (each) desires (to gain) spiritual merit; for (by their living) separate (their) merit increases, hence separation is meritorious.

112. The additional share (deducted) for the eldest shall be one-twentieth (of the estate) and the best of all chattels, for the middlemost half of that, but for the youngest one-fourth.

113. Both the eldest and the youngest shall take (their shares) according to (the rule just) stated (each of) those who are between the eldest and the youngest, shall have the share (prescribed for the) middlemost.

114. Among the goods of every kind the eldest shall take the best (article), and (even a single chattel) which is particularly good, as well as the best of ten (animals).

115. But among (brothers) equally skilled in their occupations, there is no additional share, (consisting of the best animal) among ten; some trifle only shall be given to the eldest as a token of respect.

116. If additional shares are thus deducted, one must allot equal shares (out of the residue to each); but if no deduction is made, the allotment of the shares among them shall be (made) in the following manner.

117. Let the eldest son take one share in excess, the (brother) born next after him one (share) and a half, the younger ones one share each; thus the law is settled.

118. But to the maiden (sisters) the brothers shall severally give (portions) out of their shares, each out of his share one-fourth part; those who refuse to give (it), will become outcasts.

119. Let him never divide (the value of) a single goat or sheep, or a (single beast) with uncloven hoofs; it is prescribed (that) a single goat or sheep (remaining after an equal division, belongs) to the eldest alone.

120. If a younger brother begets a son on the wife of the elder, the division must then be made equally; this the law is settled.

121. The representative (the son begotten on the wife) is not invested with the right of the principal (the eldest brother to an additional share); the principal (became) a father on the

procreation (of a son by his younger brother); hence one should give a share to the (son begotten on the wife of the elder brother) according to the rule (stated above).

122. If there be a doubt, how the division shall be made, in case the younger son is born of the elder wife and the elder son of the younger wife,

123. (Then the son) born of the first wife shall take as his additional share one (most excellent) bull; the next best bulls (shall belong) to those (who are) inferior on account of their mothers.

124. But the eldest (son, being) born of the eldest wife, shall receive fifteen cows and a bull, the other sons may then take shares according to (the seniority of) their mothers; that is a settled rule.

125. Between sons born of wives equal (in caste) (and) without (any other) distinction no seniority in right of the mother exists; seniority is declared (to be) according to birth.

126. And with respect to the Subrahmanya (texts) also it is recorded that the invocation (of Indra shall be made) by the first-born, of twins likewise, (conceived at one time) in the wombs

(of their mothers) the seniority is declared (to depend) on (actual) birth.

127. He who has no son may make his daughter in the following manner an appointed daughter (putrika, saying to her husband), ‘The (male) child, born of her, shall perform my funeral rites.’

128. According to this rule Daksha, himself, lord of created beings, formerly made (all his female offspring) appointed daughters in order to multiply his race.

129. He gave ten to Dharma, thirteen to Kasyapa, twenty-seven to King Soma, honouring (them) with an affectionate heart.

130. A son is even (as) oneself, (such) a daughter is equal to a son; how can another (heir) take the estate, while such (an appointed daughter who is even) oneself, lives?

131. But whatever may be the separate property of the mother, that is the share of the unmarried daughter alone; and the son of an (appointed) daughter shall take the whole estate of (his maternal grandfather) who leaves no son.

132. The son of an (appointed) daughter, indeed, shall (also) take the estate of his (own) father, who leaves no (other) son; he shall (then) present two funeral cakes to his own father and to his maternal grandfather.

133. Between a son’s son and the son of an (appointed) daughter there is no difference, neither with respect to worldly matters nor to sacred duties; for their father and mother both sprang from the body of the same (man).

134. But if, after a daughter has been appointed, a son be born (to her father), the division (of the inheritance) must in that (case) be equal; for there is no right of primogeniture for a woman.

135. But if an appointed daughter by accident dies without (leaving) a son, the husband of the appointed daughter may, without hesitation, take that estate.

136. Through that son whom (a daughter), either not appointed or appointed, may bear to (a husband) of equal (caste), his maternal grandfather (has) a son’s son; he shall present the funeral cake and take the estate.

137. Through a son he conquers the worlds, through a son’s son he obtains immortality, but through his son’s grandson he gains the world of the sun.

138. Because a son delivers (trayate) his father from the hell called Put, he was therefore called put-tra (a deliverer from Put) by the Self-existent (Svayambhu) himself.

139. Between a son’s son and the son of a daughter there exists in this world no difference; for even the son of a daughter saves him (who has no sons) in the next world, like the son’s son.

140. Let the son of an appointed daughter first present a funeral cake to his mother, the second to her father, the funeral to his father’s father.

141. Of the man who has an adopted (Datrima) son possessing all good qualities, that same (son) shall take the inheritance, though brought from another family.

142. An adopted son shall never take the family (name) and the estate of his natural father; the funeral cake follows the family (name) and the estate, the funeral offerings of him who gives (his son in adoption) cease (as far as that son is concerned).

143. The son of a wife, not appointed (to have issue by another), and he whom (an appointed female, already) the mother of a son, bears to her brother-in-law, are both unworthy of a share, (one being) the son of an adulterer and (the other) produced through (mere) lust.

144. Even the male (child) of a female (duly) appointed, not begotten according to the rule (given above), is unworthy of the paternal estate; for he was procreated by an outcast.

145. A son (legally) begotten on such an appointed female shall inherit like a legitimate son of the body; for that seed and the produce belong, according to the law, to the owner of the soil.

146. He who takes care of his deceased brother’s estate and of his widow, shall, after raising up a son for his brother, give that property even to that (son).

147. If a woman (duly) appointed bears a son to her brother-in-law or to another (Sapinda), that (son, if he is) begotten through desire, they declare (to be) incapable of inheriting and to be produced in vain.

148. The rules (given above) must be understood (to apply) to a distribution among sons of women of the same (caste); hear (now the law) concerning those begotten by one man on many wives of different (castes).

149. If there be four wives of a Brahmana in the direct order of the castes, the rule for the division (of the estate) among the sons born of them is as follows:

150. The (slave) who tills (the field), the bull kept for impregnating cows, the vehicle, the ornaments, and the house shall be given as an additional portion to the Brahmana (son), and one most excellent share.

151. Let the son of the Brahmana (wife) take three shares of the (remainder of the) estate, the son of the Kshatriya two, the son of the Vaisya a share and a half, and the son of the Sudra may take one share.

152. Or let him who knows the law make ten shares of the whole estate, and justly distribute them according to the following rule:

153. The Brahmana (son) shall take four shares, son of the Kshatriya (wife) three, the son of the Vaisya shall have two parts, the son of the Sudra may take one share.

154. Whether (a Brahmana) have sons or have no sons (by wives of the twice-born castes), the (heir) must, according to the law, give to the son of a Sudra (wife) no more than a tenth (part of his estate).

155. The son of a Brahmana, a Kshatriya, and a Vaisya by a Sudra (wife) receives no share of the inheritance; whatever his father may give to him, that shall be his property.

156. All the sons of twice-born men, born of wives of the same caste, shall equally divide the estate, after the others have given to the eldest an additional share.

157. For a Sudra is ordained a wife of his own caste only (and) no other; those born of her shall have equal shares, even if there be a hundred sons.

158. Among the twelve sons of men whom Manu, sprung from the Self-existent (Svayambhu), enumerates, six are kinsmen and heirs, and six not heirs, (but) kinsmen.

159. The legitimate son of the body, the son begotten on a wife, the son adopted, the son made, the son secretly born, and the son cast off, (are) the six heirs and kinsmen.

160. The son of an unmarried damsel, the son received with the wife, the son bought, the son begotten on a re-married woman, the son self-given, and the son of a Sudra female, (are) the six (who are) not heirs, (but) kinsmen.

161. Whatever result a man obtains who (tries to) cross a (sheet of) water in an unsafe boat, even that result obtains he who (tries to) pass the gloom (of the next world) with (the help of) bad (substitutes for a real) son.

162. If the two heirs of one man be a legitimate son of his body and a son begotten on his wife, each (of the two sons), to the exclusion of the other, shall take the estate of his (natural) father.

163. The legitimate son of the body alone (shall be) the owner of the paternal estate; but, in order to avoid harshness, let him allow a maintenance to the rest.

164. But when the legitimate son of the body divides the paternal estate, he shall give one-sixth or one-fifth part of his father’s property to the son begotten on the wife.

165. The legitimate son and the son of the wife (thus) share the father’s estate; but the other tell become members of the family, and inherit according to their order (each later named on failure of those named earlier).

166. Him whom a man begets on his own wedded wife, let him know to be a legitimate son of the body (Aurasa), the first in rank.

167. He who was begotten according to the peculiar law (of the Niyoga) on the appointed wife of a dead man, of a eunuch, or of one diseased, is called a son begotten on a wife (Kshetraga).

168. That (boy) equal (by caste) whom his mother or his father affectionately give, (confirming the gift) with (a libation of) water, in times of distress (to a man) as his son, must be considered as an adopted son (Datrima).

169. But he is considered a son made (Kritrima) whom (a man) makes his son, (he being) equal (by caste), acquainted with (the distinctions between) right and wrong, (and) endowed with filial virtues.

170. If (a child) be born in a man’s house and his father be not known, he is a son born secretly in the house (Gudhotpanna), and shall belong to him of whose wife he was born.

171. He whom (a man) receives as his son, (after he has been) deserted by his parents or by either of them, is called a son cast off (Apaviddha).

172. A son whom a damsel secretly bears in the house of her father, one shall name the son of an unmarried damsel (Kanina, and declare) such offspring of an unmarried girl (to belong) to him who weds her (afterwards).

173. If one marries, either knowingly or unknowingly, a pregnant (bride), the child in her womb belongs to him who weds her, and is called (a son) received with the bride (Sahodha).

174. If a man buys a (boy), whether equal or unequal (in good qualities), from his father and mother for the sake of having a son, that (child) is called a (son) bought (Kritaka).

175. If a woman abandoned by her husband, or a widow, of her own accord contracts a second marriage and bears (a son), he is called the son of a re-married woman (Paunarbhava).

176. If she be (still) a virgin, or one who returned (to her first husband) after leaving him, she is worthy to again perform with her second (or first deserted) husband the (nuptial) ceremony.

177. He who, having lost his parents or being abandoned (by them) without (just) cause, gives himself to a (man), is called a son self-given (Svayamdatta).

178. The son whom a Brahmana begets through lust on a Sudra female is, (though) alive (parayan), a corpse (sava), and hence called a Parasava (a living corpse).

179. A son who is (begotten) by a Sudra on a female slave, or on the female slave of his slave, may, if permitted (by his father), take a share (of the inheritance); thus the law is settled.

180. These eleven, the son begotten on the wife and the rest as enumerated (above), the wise call substitutes for a son, (taken) in order (to prevent) a failure of the (funeral) ceremonies.

181. Those sons, who have been mentioned in connection with (the legitimate son of the body), being begotten by strangers, belong (in reality) to him from whose seed they sprang, but not to the other (man who took them).

182. If among brothers, sprung from one (father), one have a son, Manu has declared them all to have male offspring through that son.

183. If among all the wives of one husband one have a son, Manu declares them all (to be) mothers of male children through that son.

184. On failure of each better (son), each next inferior (one) is worthy of the inheritance; but if there be many (of) equal (rank), they shall all share the estate.

185. Not brothers, nor fathers, (but) sons take the paternal estate; but the father shall take the inheritance of (a son) who leaves no male issue, and his brothers.

186. To three (ancestors) water must be offered, to three the funeral cake is given, the fourth (descendant is) the giver of these (oblations), the fifth has no connection (with them).

187. Always to that (relative within three degrees) who is nearest to the (deceased) Sapinda the estate shall belong; afterwards a Sakulya shall be (the heir, then) the spiritual teacher or the pupil.

188. But on failure of all (heirs) Brahmanas (shall) share the estate, (who are) versed the in the three Vedas, pure and self-controlled; thus the law is not violated.

189. The property of a Brahmana must never be taken by the king, that is a settled rule; but (the property of men) of other castes the king may take on failure of all (heirs).

190. (If the widow) of (a man) who died without leaving issue, raises up to him a son by a member of the family (Sagotra), she shall deliver to that (son) the whole property which belonged to the (deceased).

191. But if two (sons), begotten by two (different men), contend for the property (in the hands) of their mother, each shall take, to the exclusion of the other, what belonged to his father.

192. But when the mother has died, all the uterine brothers and the uterine sisters shall equally divide the mother’s estate.

193. Even to the daughters of those (daughters) something should be given, as is seemly, out of the estate of their maternal grandmother, on the score of affection.

194. What (was given) before the (nuptial) fire, what (was given) on the bridal procession, what was given in token of love, and what was received from her brother, mother, or father, that is called the sixfold property of a woman.

195. (Such property), as well as a gift subsequent and what was given (to her) by her affectionate husband, shall go to her offspring, (even) if she dies in the lifetime of her husband.

196. It is ordained that the property (of a woman married) according to the Brahma, the Daiva, the Arsha, the Gandharva, or the Pragapatya rite (shall belong) to her husband alone, if she dies without issue.

197. But it is prescribed that the property which may have been given to a (wife) on an Asura marriage or (one of the) other (blamable marriages, shall go) to her mother and to her father, if she dies without issue.

198. Whatever property may have been given by her father to a wife (who has co-wives of different castes), that the daughter (of the) Brahmani (wife) shall take, or that (daughter’s) issue.

199. Women should never make a hoard from (the property of) their families which is common to many, nor from their own (husbands’ particular) property without permission.

200. The ornaments which may have been worn by women during their husbands’ lifetime, his heirs shall not divide; those who divide them become outcasts.

201. Eunuchs and outcasts, (persons) born blind or deaf, the insane, idiots and the dumb, as well as those deficient in any organ (of action or sensation), receive no share.

202. But it is just that (a man) who knows (the law) should give even to all of them food and raiment without stint, according to his ability; he who gives it not will become all outcast.

203. If the eunuch and the rest should somehow or other desire to (take) wives, the offspring of such among them as have children is worthy of a share.

204. Whatever property the eldest (son) acquires (by his own exertion) after the father’s death, a share of that (shall belong) to his younger (brothers), provided they have made a due progress in learning.

205. But if all of them, being unlearned, acquire property by their labour, the division of that shall be equal, (as it is) not property acquired by the father; that is a settled rule.

206. Property (acquired) by learning belongs solely to him to whom (it was given), likewise the gift of a friend, a present received on marriage or with the honey-mixture.

207. But if one of the brothers, being able (to maintain himself) by his own occupation, does not desire (a share of the family) property, he may be made separate (by the others) receiving a trifle out of his share to live upon.

208. What one (brother) may acquire by his labour without using the patrimony, that acquisition, (made solely) by his own effort, he shall not share unless by his own will (with his brothers).

209. But if a father recovers lost ancestral property, he shall not divide it, unless by his own will, with his sons, (for it is) self-acquired (property).



The Spanish-Portuguese word ‘casta’ which meant race, breed, or lineage gave birth to the modern word ‘caste’ & it was first used by the British in the 1700s to signify the Hindu hierarchy of social communities. It was a part of their divide & rule policy because India has always been the land that focuses on union & believes in unity. Surprisingly enough, as we can see, Hinduism or the Indian culture did not have the caste system specifically, what they had was the Varna System.

What exactly is the Varna System? 

The word ‘Varna’ had come from ‘Vri’ which signifies the choice of one’s occupation & the Sanskrit word ‘Varna’ means color. 

 The explanation of this Varna system from the religious aspect derives from the Rig-Vedic hymn & Purushashukta defining how the varnas were created from the creator’s mouth, arms, thighs & feet respectively. Here’s the Shloka that defines the above : 

ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखामासीद्वाहू राजन्य: कृत:।

ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत॥१३॥

Purusha Sooktam 13 / Rigved — The Brahmana (spiritual wisdom and splendor) was His mouth; the Kshatriya (administrative and military prowess) His arms became. His thighs were the Vaisya (commercial and business enterprise); of His feet, the Sudra (productive and sustaining force) was born.

Just like the parts of a body, all Varnas had a significant role & were equally important in their playing, so we can say that the classifications & specifications of the Varna system were mostly positive. 

There have been four varnas in ancient Hinduism: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya & Shudra. 

You’ll be astounded to know that these Varnas had absolutely nothing to do with birth. Instead, varnas were specifications for people attending certain karmas. Let’s make it clearer for you : 

Priests, teachers & scholars were Brahmans. Warriors, rulers & administrators were Kshatriyas. Agriculturists & merchants were Vaisyas. And laborers or manual service providers were Sudras.

 So, if a Brahman gains the knowledge of war & administration & becomes a Kshatriya, he could do that & if a Kshatriya dedicated his life to education, & help others in leading religious lives by transforming into a Brahman, he could do that as well. A very confounding fact is that Varnas could be changed! Yes. Since they were defined by actions & not birth unlike today, one could change their Varna if they wanted to.

 You’d ask for an example at this point since it sounds unrealistic, I’ll tell you factually that Prishadhra, the son of a man named Manu who was the first-ever man, composed Manusmriti and became Shudra because of the murder of his cow & later on, Manu’s grandson, son of Dishta, became Vaishya because of his deeds. This information is all written in Vishnupuran. Shocking? Isn’t it? 

In addition to that, there was no such Varna as ‘Dalit’. The ones who committed unscrupulous sins would fall out of their Varna & would be considered outcasts. It’s not at all what the modern caste system portrays at this point, untouchability was not thrown upon a group by default, it was a punishment that one would get after committing a hideous task. 

 The history of the caste system in India roots back to 1860. Between 1860 & 1920, the British colonial government included the caste system into their system of governance & appointed jobs only to certain castes. The word “caste” has a completely different origin & there isn’t any Indian translation of it but the closest we can get is the Sanskrit word ‘Varna’ or ‘Jati’. ‘Varna’ & ‘Jati’ had origins in the pre-modern era but the caste system as it is existing now is the result of its development during the British colonial period & Post-Mughal period. 

The basis of the caste system during the British colonial era was ‘Jati’. The census of 1881 & even after that, the colonial ethnographers were using caste or Jati headings to classify & count the people of the then British India. In the census of 1891, sixty subgroups were included, each subgroup was again subdivided into six occupational & racial categories & the numbers kept increasing with the subsequent censuses.

Susan Bayley states that the colonial era census caste tables “ranked, standardized and cross-referenced jati listings for Indians on principles similar to zoology and botanical classifications, aiming to establish who was superior to whom by virtue of their supposed purity, occupational origins, and collective moral worth”.

 The colonial officials were using these census-determined jatis or castes to decide which group of people were eligible for certain jobs & which ones were completely unreliable. Khushwant Singh, a Sikh historian & writer, and Tony Ballantyne, a History professor, have said that these colonial-era laws helped create and erect barriers within land-owning and landless castes in northwest India. Caste-based discrimination and denial of human rights by the colonial system had a similar impact elsewhere in India. 

Nicholas Dirks has debated that Indian caste as we witness today is a “modern phenomenon,” as caste was “fundamentally transformed by British colonial rule”. Dirks thinks that before the colonial period, the caste system was way more loose & flexible than how it is today, colonial government has constructed it in a much more strict hierarchy with some castes receiving preferential treatment & some being criminalized on the other hand. 

Our independent land has seen & felt caste-related violence to an extent. As a 2005 UN report says, approximately 31,440 cases of violent acts were committed against Dalits in 1996, as reported. The modern generation thinks that the discrimination of the caste system has come from Manusmriti but surprisingly, that’s wrong! 


There was no mention of Dalits in the book. Chapter 10, Verse 4 states : 

Brāhmaṇa, the Kshatriya, and the Vaisya castes (varṇa) are the twice-born ones, but the fourth, the Śūdra, has one birth only; there is no fifth (caste). 

As you can see, it’s clearly written that no fifth caste had existed. Moreover, what manusmriti states is practical even today. When it says ‘twice born’, it’s not talking about another birth, it’s talking about a complete transformation. 

For instance, Gautam Buddha left his kingdom in order to gain Moksh & returned as a new being full of knowledge & wisdom by doing Sadhna for years in a forest & later on led a community that still follows his insight & perspectives. 

Buddha’s outlook on the caste system stated that all four castes were equal to him. He thought that on the metaphysical ground, after death, one should be reborn according to their karmas and not according to their caste or jati, he says,

 “a man who is a murderer or a thief or a fornicator, or a liar, or a slanderer, or of violent speech or tattles or covets or is malevolent or holds wrong views, he will, after death at body’s dissolution pass to the state of misery and woe, whether he be a Brahmana, a Kshatriya, a Vaisya or a Sudra.”

In Assalāyana Sutta of Majjhima, it’s stated that the Buddha thought all castes had equal purity in blood regarding the concept of purity of caste blood. 


Dr. Ambedkar thought that Manusmriti, the religious text, was responsible for the caste discrimination & in protest, he publicly burnt Manusmriti in a bonfire on December 25th, 1927.

But do you know that Manusmriti is written in Sanskrit and Dr. Ambedkar did not know the Sanskrit language?

Yes, Dr. Ambedkar has also admitted in his book,” Who were the Sudras” that he was incapable of reading Sanskrit. Then by what means was he able to read the Manusmriti?

Whose translations did he read?

he read the incorrect translations of Manusmriti by Max Mueller, which was a misinterpretation of the Sanskrit language and the slokas.


Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was a strong critic of the caste system & he made sure the kids belonging to the so-called lower castes attended school & got the education that was needed. He gave incentives to their parents & did everything he could. He said, “Once the children are educated together, they will not observe caste hierarchy in later life. They will not feel the need to observe caste division. In addition, the government should abandon the title ‘special schools for low caste children’. This very title creates a feeling of inferiority among children attending the school”. 

He used to visit houses of people from different castes on Indian festivals & in fact; he brought up a girl child from a former so-called untouchable community. After reading Satyarth Prakash written by Dayanand Saraswati Ji, Savarkar got really inspired that he taught people from the untouchable community to read, write & recite the Gayatri Mantra. Now that’s some real & genuine effort don’t you think?

The caste system always had an influence over power & politics. There have been innumerable movements that took place in order to eliminate the injustice & inequality that has made a place in the Indian caste system. During the national movement, Gandhi used the term “Harijans” (God’s people) to refer to the so-called “untouchables” to make a positive attitude blossom towards them.

 The “Dalits” (the ones who have been suppressed) were later termed as Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribe. The anti-caste Dalit movement started with Jyotirao Phule during the mid-19th century and he worked for the education & empowerment of women of the Shudra & Dalit communities & his protest reached all over India. 

The castes have played a significant role in shaping the Indian society, occupations & values of our land. The numerous movements associated with the caste system have motivated our land to be more civil and respectful towards all the caste members. 

Even though the modern caste system’s discrimination got less to no connection with the Varna system of the ancient Hinduism period, it’s still important to look at the changes and find the missing links in order to understand our nation in a better way.

The Indian Caste System: Explained

The Origin of the Caste System

Maybe you learned what the caste system is in world history class in school. Maybe you thought it was a historical system that was left in the past a long time ago. But, unlike other societal divisions we’ve seen throughout history – this one still dictates much of life in India today. Including where you can live, what job you can hold, and even what water you can drink. But let me rewind. The caste system is deeply rooted in the Hinduism belief in karma and reincarnation.

Dating back more than 3,000 years, the caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras based on who they were in their past life, their karma, and what family line they come from. Many believe that the system originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, believing that the Brahmins represent the eyes and mind of Brahma and are therefore often teachers and priests, the Kshatriyas represent his arms and are often warriors, the Vaishyas represent his legs and are often farmers or merchants, and the Shudras represent his feet and are often laborers.

Here is the Breakdown of the Four Main Castes:

  1. Brahmins: The highest and most esteemed caste. These people often hold the job of priest or teacher.
  2. Kshatriyas: The second caste. These people are often known traditionally as ‘warriors.’ They often hold the job of farmer, trader, or merchant.
  3. Waishyas: The third caste. These people often hold the job of farmer, trader, or merchant.
  4. Shudras: The fourth caste. These people are often those that do manual labor.

Although there are 4 main castes, the system is divided into thousands of sub-castes, further dividing the people of India. Additionally, there is a whole separate caste, who society believes to be so vile that they aren’t considered part of the system at all – the Untouchables or Dalits. They are completely shunned from society. forbidden to live amongst those of high castes.

Here are Some Facts About India’s Caste System:

  • Brahma, the four-headed, four-handed deity who Hindu’s worship as the creator of the universe. The caste system is based on Brahma’s diving manifestation of the four main castes explained above.
  • Mahatma Gandhi spent much of his life working to bring equality to the Dalits (Untouchables). He was the refer to Untouchables as “Harijans,” meaning children of God.
  • Your caste is assigned at birth based on the caste of your family.
  • The caste system was first outlined in the Hindu text, the Laws of Manu – written around 250 B.C.
  • Dalits are considered so impure, the are forbidden to share the same water, use the same street, etc. as higher castes.
  • Although many bigger cities across India have moved away from such a heavy influence on castes – the system is still very prevalent in villages across the country – determining who can live where, what job they can have, who they can speak to, and even what human rights they may have.
  • It’s a system so deeply embedded in the culture of the country, it’s guidelines and effects will live on for many years to come.

Manu Smriti on Shudras

Manu divides Hindus into four varnas i.e. casteism. He not only divide Hindus into four varnas, he also grades them. Besides prescribing rank and occupation Manu grants privilege to swarnas and imposes penalties on the shudras.The status of the Shudras in the Hindu society as prescribed by Manu the Law-giver and the Architect of Hindu society. There are so many Codes of the Manu Smriti against the Shudras which are below:

  1. For the welfare of humanity the supreme creator Brahma, gave birth to the Brahmins from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his shoulders, the Vaishyas from his thighs and Shudras from his feet. (Manu’s code I-31,)
  2. God said the duty of a Shudra is to serve the upper varnas faithfully with devotion and without grumbling. (Manu 1-91) Manu is not satisfied with this. He wants this servile status of the Shudras to be expressed in the names and surnames of persons belonging to that community. Manu says:
  3. Let the first part of a Brahman’s name denote something auspicious, a Kshatriya’s be connected with power, and a Vaishyas with wealth but a Shudra’s express something contemptible. (Manu II. 31.)
  4. The second part of a Brahmin’s name shall be a word implying happiness, of a Kshatriya’s (a word) implying protection, of a Vaishya’s a term expressive of thriving and of a Shudra’s an expression denoting service. (Manu II. 32.)
  5. A hundred year old Kshatriya must treat a ten year old Brahmin boy as his father. (Manu 11-135)
  6. The Brahmin should never invite persons of other varnas for food. In case, the latter begs the Brahmin for food, the Brahmin may give them some left-over. Even these left-over must be served not by the Brahmin but by his servants outside the house. (Manu II2).
  7. He who instructs Shudra pupils and he whose teacher is a Shudra shall become disqualified for being invited to a shradha. (Manu III. 156.)
  8. A Shudra is unfit of receive education. The upper varnas should not impart education or give advice to a Shudra.It is not necessary that the Shudra should know the laws and codes and hence need not be taught. Violators will go to as amrita hell. (Manu IV-78 to 81)
  9. “Let him not dwell in a country where the rulers are Shudras.” (Manu IV. 61)
  10. He must never read the Vedas in the presence of the Shudras. (Manu IV. 99.)
  11. Any country, where there are no Brahmins, of where they are not happy will get devastated and destroyed. (Manu VIII-20 to 22)
  12. A Brahmana who is only a Brahman by decent i.e., one who has neither studied nor performed any other act required by the Vedas may, at the king’s pleasure, interpret the law to him i.e., act as the judge, but never a Shudra (however learned he may be). (Manu VIII. 20.)
  13. The Kingdom of that monarch, who looks on while a Shudra settles the law, will sink low like a cow in the morass. (Manu VIII. 21.)
  14. Any Brahmin, who enslaves or tries to enslave a Brahmin, is liable for a penalty of no less than 600 PANAS. A Brahmin can order a Shudra to serve him without any remuneration because the Shudra is created by Brahma to serve the Brahmins. Even if a Brahmin frees a Shudra from slavery the Shudra continues to be a slave as he is created for slavery. Nobody has the right to free him. (Manu VIII-50,56 and 59)
  15. A Shudra who insults a twice born man with gross invectives shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin. (Manu VIII. 270.)
  16. If he mentions the names and castes of the (twice born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red hot into his mouth. (Manu VIII. 271.)
  17. If a Shudra arrogantly presumes to preach religion to Brahmins, the king shall have poured burning oil in his mouth and ears. Manu VIII. 272.)
  18. A Shudra who has an intercourse with a woman of the higher caste guarded or unguarded shall be punished n the following manner; if she was unguarded, he loses the offending part; if she was guarded then he should be put to death and his property confiscated.” (Manu VIII. 374.)
  19. A Brahman may compel a Shudra, whether bought or unbought, to do servile work for he is created by the creator to be the slave of a Brahmana. (Manu VIII. 413.)
  20. No Shudra should have property of his own, He should have nothing of his own. The existence of a wealthy Shudra is bad for the Brahmins. A Brahman may take possession of the goods of a Shudra. (ManuVIII-417 & X129)
  21. A Brahman may seize without hesitation, if he be in distress for his subsistence, the goods of his Shudra. The Shudra can have only one occupation. This is one of the inexorable laws of Manu. says Manu. (Manu VIII. 417)
  22. A Shudra who wants to just fill his stomach may serve a Vaishya. If he wants a permanent means of living he can serve a Kshatriya. But if he wants to go to heaven or wants higher or superior birth in the next generation he must serve a Brahmin. (ManuIX334 & 335)
  23. The most sacred duty of a Shudra is to serve the Brahmins, always, reciting the words “Brahman” with utmost devotion. Such a Shudra will get salvation. Otherwise he will die a worst death and will go to the worst hell. (Manu X-121)
  24. But let a (Shudra) serve Brahmans, either for the sake of heaven, or with a view to both (this life and the next) for he who is called the servant of a Brahman thereby gains all his ends. (Manu X. 122.)
  25. The service of Brahmans alone is declared (to be) an excellent occupation for a Shudra for whatever else besides this he may perform will bear him no fruit. (Manu X. 123.)
  26. They must allot to him out of their own family (property) a suitable maintenance, after considering his ability, his industry, and the number of those whom he is bound to support. (Manu X. 124.)
  27. Brahmins to give Shudras food leftovers, old torn clothes, spoiled grain and old utensils (Manu X-125)
  28. No superfluous collection of wealth must be made by a Shudra, even though he has power to make it, since a servile man, who has amassed riches, becomes proud, and, by his insolence or neglect, gives pain to Brahmins. (Manu X. 129.
  29. A Brahmin shall never beg from a Shudra, property for (performing) a sacrifice i.e., for religious purposes. All marriages with the Shudra were prescribed. Marriage with a woman belonging to any of three other classes was forbidden.

A Shudra was not to have a connection with a woman of the higher classes and an act of adultery committed by a Shudra with her was considered by Manu to be an offence involving capital punishment. (Manu XI. 24.)1, 2 ,3, 4In the matter of acquiring learning and knowledge Manu’s successors went much beyond him in the cruelty of their punishment of the Shudra for studying the Veda. For instance, Katyayana lays down that if a Shudra over heard the Veda or ventured to utter a word of the Veda, the king shall cut his tongue in twain and pour hot molten lead in his ear. Manu’s law book and its strict compliance by the Brahmans, it may be summarized that men and women are not born equal. There is no room for individual merit and no consideration of individual justice. If the individual has the privilege, it is not because it is due to his/her personally. The privilege goes with class, and if it is his/her good luck to enjoy it, he/she is destined to be born in the privileged class. On the other hand, if an individual is suffering in a class, it is because he belongs to that class. Thereby, logically speaking from Manusmriti’s point of view, the suffering of Shudras and women is because of their being part of their caste and sex respectively. Manu’s ‘social order’ breeds ‘social out-caste,’ which in turn dishes out ‘social injustice’ to the underprivileged. Narda’s ‘Smriti’ (law book), openly advocate slavery, but since Varnashram (a creation of caste system by the Manu) was critical and deviously interwoven into religion, to subjugate the Shudras through superstitions like opium to an addict, the Brahmans let the slaves die.”

Hindu Caste System & Laws of Manu

Who is Manu?

According to Hinduism, the first man to exist was a man named Manu. The name Manu roughly translates to ”man” and also has etymological links to the Sanskrit verb man-, meaning ”to think.” He was said to be the first king of India and the author of some of ancient India’s first laws. Manu in Hinduism is also said to have been the savior of a legendary great flood.

According to the Satapatha Brahmana and the Mahabharata, Manu was told by the god Brahma (or the god Vishnu according to the Puranas) in the guise a fish that a great flood was coming that would destroy all of humanity, and that to survive he must build a massive boat. Adhering to the advice of the fish, Manu constructed his boat and tied it to the fish’s horn to safely maneuver to a resting spot atop a mountain. Now safe from the flood and the sole survivor of humanity, Manu performed a sacrifice and ceremony of pouring butter and sour milk into the water. Out of the water came a woman, and together the two would help to replenish humanity upon the earth.

In this story, one can make several connections with Manu to other figures in religion, including the legendary Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Noah, who also make mention of a great flood, as well as the Hebrew and Biblical Adam, the first man.

What are the Laws of Manu?

Manu’s contributions to Hinduism are far more reaching than simply being the first man. He is often credited as the first king of Indian civilization, along with being the first lawmaker. One of the most important contributions made by Manu, according to Hinduism, is the introduction of the Laws of Manu. Also known as the Manava-dharma-shastra (“The Dharma Text of Manu”), the Laws of Manu is the most authoritative text in the Hindu code. Among many things, the Laws of Manu introduced the idea of the caste system, a societal division that separates Hindus into members of one of five social classes and still dictates much of Indian society today.

Hindu Caste System

The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories that are all based on one’s actions in the present and in one’s past life, along with one’s karma and what family line they come from. It is possible to ascend or descend from one level to another, but more often one’s caste level remained the same according to their past life and family lineage. The purpose of having a caste system was to have clear and distinct roles for each member of society to have. Each level in the caste system is also said to represent a different aspect/body part of the Hindu god Brahma, the god of creation.

The categories in order include: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. There is also a fifth category known as the Dalits (or Untouchables), the lowest ranking class and often considered to be ”caste-less” in Hindu society


The highest and most esteemed level in the Hindu caste system, the Brahmins enjoy a great deal of influence and change in their lives. According to Hindu tradition, the Brahmin caste level represents Brahma’s head and source of knowledge. The members of the Brahmins are said to possess an inherently greater ritual purity than members of the other castes. Because of this, they were more often put into priest or teacher roles, although they were also allowed to serve as advisors and ministers to ruling chiefs.

Because of their preserved religious purity, Brahmins often strictly adhere to a vegetarian diet and abstain from certain occupations like plowing fields or handling leather. Brahmins continued to enjoy their role as intellectual advisors and leaders during the era of British occupation, and still make up a large portion of Indian government and politics today.


The second caste, the Kshatriyas, are traditionally referred to as the ”warriors” of Hindu beliefs. This second level in the caste system is said to represent the arms and hands of the creation god Brahma. While technically second in the caste system, Kshatriyas are often cited as first in rank according to early Vedic texts. More often than not, members of the Kshatriyas occupy the roles of rulers and warriors in ancient Hindu India. Kshatriyas rulers were often advised by Brahmin priests, members of the higher class. In modern times, the members of this caste still retain a large portion of Indian society and politics.

What are the major Hindu castes?

The three upper classes in the Hindu caste system include the Brahmins (priests, intellectuals), the Kshatriyas (warriors, leaders) and the Vaishyas (merchants, traders). The two levels of the lower castes include the Sudras (manual laborers) and the Untouchables (street cleaners, latrine cleaners).

How many castes are there in Hindu religion?

In the Hindu religion, there are four main castes for a person to exist within, including the Brahmins (priests, intellectuals), the Kshatriyas (warriors, leaders), the Vaishyas (merchants, traders), and the Sudras (manual laborers). There is also a fifth out-of-caste level known as the Untouchables (street cleaners, latrine cleaners).

What was the purpose of the Hindu laws of Manu?

The purpose of having a caste system in the Laws of Manu was to have clear classes/castes with distinct roles for each member of society to have. The Laws of Manu was said to be the creation of Manu, the first man ever created according to Hinduism.

Introduction to Varna

Varna and the Caste System of India

The Varna system is the description of the hierarchical society with a Brahmanical ideology explained in Manusmriti. The division of classes in society in Hinduism was designed by this concept and it had four broad divisions. In this article, we will define all these divisions along with the people of occupation included in them during the Vedic period in contemporary India.

What is Varna?

The term ‘Varna’ means colour in Sanskrit. In Vedic literature, it is signified as a particular class in a contemporary society defined by the colour and occupation of people. The Varna meaning is defined and epitomized in Manusmriti and Vedic scriptures of Yajur Veda. The distinction was made based on skin colours, origin, and occupation across the society by the Aryans invading contemporary India.

Aryans had lighter skin tones whereas the indigenous people were dark-skinned. This difference in skin colours created a distinction between these alleged invaders and indigenous people. In order to add more supremacy, they decided to distinguish between people as per the factors mentioned above. One such factor is skin colour.

What is the Varna System?

As per the Vedic scriptures in Rig and Yajur Veda, the old society of India was divided into four different castes. A caste was defined by the skin colour and occupation of the people. The idea emerged from the invasion of Aryans, the comparatively fair-skinned invaders in India. They defined the caste system in order to segregate society into a hierarchical system.

The Varna system in India suggests the distinction of four different castes based on occupation and skin colour. These castes are:

  1. Brahmin

The Brahmins held the highest position in society due to occupation and colour. They were destined to be respected by the rest of the castes and were the only ones to study. They also taught others from the same sect. It was them who can only practice Vedas and the rituals. Brahmins were entitled to do rituals, pujas, and execute sacrifices from the other castes. Hence, this caste was entitled to read, write, and study. They basically made all the rules and regulations of the society as they were well-versed in Vedas.

  1. Kshatriyas

The second caste in the Varna caste system was the Kshatriyas. This is the warrior group in society. From the very beginning of their childhood, they were trained as soldiers and warriors to save the nation from invasions. It was their responsibility to protect all four castes from the hands of enemies by all means.

  1. Vaishyas

This Varna or caste falls third on the social ladder. The people in this caste were all traders, farmers, and other professionals who worked for a living. Only the Vaishyas and Kshatriyas were entitled to do rituals and make sacrifices under the guidance of the Brahmins.

  1. Shudras

This caste belongs to the lowest level in the social ladder of four Varnas. The Shudras were designated to serve the above three castes and were barred from performing any rituals, getting educated, or practising any other occupation. All they have to do is to serve the above three classes doing their household work, etc.

Women in this Brahmanical society were not allowed to study or work outside. Like Shudras, they were entitled to work inside their homes and to serve their respective families. They were also not allowed to study Vedas or learn how to fight.

Explanation of the Varnas in Different Vedas

As per Rig Veda, there are four castes in the system. In Yajur Veda, the discrimination between the people was done by means of skin colour. Only two colours existed, white and black, at that time.

From the above discussion, we can easily understand what is Varna and how people were segregated based on their occupations and skin colour. All the three Varnas were considered to be born twice. The first birth is from the mother’s womb and the second is when they enter manhood.  This second birth was conducted in a spiritual way called ‘Upanayana’. The Shudras were born once and were designated to serve the other three.

The three castes can practice Veda and study along with their primary occupations. If we look closely then Vaishyas were the common people, cultivators, potters, grazers, etc. The Brahmins and Kshatriyas were dominant and held the supreme authority to run a society. These two were the governing castes according to the Varna meaning.

The answer to what is Varna system tells us that India had a four-caste societal system with a proper definition of functions and responsibilities of all the castes. Women did not have much freedom to explore as men did. They remain enclosed serving their families inside their houses. Apart from these four classes, another class existed that was not included in the system.

This class comprised the untouchables. They were not within the system and lived away from the villages. They were mostly foresters and tribal. As they did not belong to any specified class, they were called ‘Avarna’. This caste system gave birth to the ‘Jaati’ practice we can still witness in India in a very formidable shape.

The Four Varnas

Although every Hindu must follow general moral codes, each has individual duties according to his or her own nature. These are called sva-dharma, literally “own duties.” They are regulated by the system of four varnas (social classes) and four ashrams (stages of life).

Shudras (Artisans and Workers)

The shudras are the only section of society allowed to accept another’s employment; other varnas are occupationally and financially self-sufficient.

To render service to others.
To take pride in their work and to be loyal.
To follow general moral principles, (e.g. not to steal).
To marry (the only compulsory rite of passage).

Vaishyas (Farmers, Merchants, and Business People)

The vaishyas are the productive class. They and the two varnas below are called twice-born, indicating that they accept the sacred thread (symbolising spiritual initiation) and must perform certain rituals and rites of passage.

To protect animals (especially cows), and the land.
To create wealth and prosperity.
To maintain workers with abundant food, clothes, etc.
To trade ethically.
To give taxes to the kshatriyas (ruling class).

Kshatriyas (Warriors, Police, and Administrators)

The kshatriyas are the nobility, the protectors of society. Though permitted a number of privileges, they are expected to display considerable strength of body and character.

To protect the citizens from harm, especially women, children, cows, brahmanas, and the elderly.
To ensure that the citizens perform their prescribed duties and advance spiritually.
To be the first into battle and never to flee the battlefield.
To be true to their royal word.
To never refuse a challenge.
To develop noble qualities such as power, chivalry, and generosity.
To levy taxes (from the vaishyas only) and to never accept charity under any circumstances.
To take counsel, especially from the brahmanas.
To know the scriptures, especially the artha-shastras.
To deal uncompromisingly with crime and lawlessness.
To take responsibility for shortcomings in their kingdom.
To conquer their own minds and senses and to enjoy only according to scriptural injunction.
To beget an heir.

Brahmanas (Priests, Teachers, and Intellectuals)

The brahmanas provide education and spiritual leadership. They determine the vision and values of any society. Traditionally their basic needs were fulfilled so that they could dedicate themselves to their spiritual tasks.They are expected to live very frugally.

To study and teach the Vedas.
To perform sacrifice and religious ceremonies, and teach others how to perform such rituals.
To accept alms and also give in charity.
To offer guidance, especially to the kshatriyas.
To provide medical care and general advice free of charge.
To know Brahman (spirit, the self, God).
To never accept paid employment.
To develop all ideal qualities, especially honesty, integrity, cleanliness, purity, austerity, knowledge and wisdom.

Scriptural Passages

“It is better to perform one’s prescribed duties, even though faulty, than another’s duties. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.”

Bhagavad-gita 3.35

Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, and shudras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own nature in accordance with the three material qualities.”

Bhagavad-gita 18.41

See also: Bhagavad-gita 2.31–8, 4.13, 18.41–8

Related Values and Issues

  • Duties, rights and responsibilities
  • A classless society
  • Moral dilemmas

Related Stories

Many in the Epics. They usually relate to the warrior dharma, and also give insight into the characteristics of genuine brahmanas.


The Idea of Varnas came from Ancient Hindu texts like Manusmriti and Bhagwat Geeta. The mention of Varna can also be found in the Vedas and Puranas. Vedas were written by Brahmanas and they had written how the rituals were to be performed. The priests had also written rules about society. In ancient times society was divided based on one’s function and skill. There were various groups, such as priests, Traders, Warriors, Vaishyas, Labourers, Peasants, Fishermen, Forest dwellers and many more. Priests and Warriors were relatively richer than Peasants, Labourers and fishermen. According to the Priests, the society was divided into four classes, called Varnas. Each Varna had a different function to follow in society. It was the duty of every person to obey their Varna and follow their Dharma. Brahmin was at the top of the hierarchy in the Varna system.

What is the Varna System?

  • Varna system was a social classification of people based on their function and duties in society.
  • People with certain skills and knowledge were put in different Varnas.
  • It was not hereditary, which meant people did not born in certain Varna, they were put in a class according to their function and skills.
  • The earliest mention of the Varna system can be found in the tenth mandala of Rig Veda.
  • Each Varna was obliged to do the work according to their social strata.
  • There were four Varnas. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras.




  • Vaishyas were the third class of the Varna system hierarchy.
  • Vaishyas simply mean the common people, they were the subjects of the king
  • Vaishyas were associated with activities like farming, trade, cattle rearing, business and craftsmanship
  • Vaishyas were the class which paid tributes to the kings. They brought gifts whenever the king organised any sacrifices.
  • Vaishyas were allowed to sit during the sacrifices.
  • Vaishyas and their families generally worked for the king.


  • The Shudras were the lowest class of class hierarchy in the Varna system.
  • They were comprised of Manual labourers, Workers, Slaves and land-less tenants.
  • Shudras were considered untouchables.
  • Shudras were given menial jobs and they were tasked to serve the upper three Varnas.
  • Shudras were not allowed to see any sacrifices. They were not allowed to read or listen to Vedas.
  • Shudras were not allowed to live in the main part of town, they were given special areas where they could reside.

Varna and the Caste system of India

The Varna system originated from Rig Ved and many Hindu scriptures from the ancient period. It was a system of classification of people based on their function and skill in society. Those who were associated with religious activities and study the Vedas were Brahmins. Those who went to battles and became kings were from Kahatriya Varna and Vaishyas were related to trade and business and Shudras were manual and menial workers.

The Varna system was flexible in earlier times; people could move from one Varna to another. It was a system based on occupation. The son of a Kshatriya could be Brahmin if he studied Vedas and performed rituals.

In Later centuries the Varna system became rigid and Priests made some laws which restricted the movement among Varna. Now the Varna became hereditary. A person had to follow the Varna in which he was born. Gradually the Varna system transformed into the Caste system which acted as a discriminatory system for Shudras and Vaishyas.


The invasion of the Aryans formed the basis of the caste system that developed in India. The Aryans stressed the superiority of the lighter-skinned invaders over the darker-skinned indigenous peoples of India.

Indian society was divided into five castes:

  1. Brahmins: Initially the priestly caste, the Brahmins were revered for their religious and spiritual knowledge. As the significance of their religious role decreased, they transitioned into roles of learning and became the caste of officialdom and scholarship.
  2. Kshatriya: Often referred to as the warrior caste, the Kshatriyas took on roles of kingship and governance. Historically, the Kshatriya class were considered to be direct descendants of the warriors that had conquered India. They also bore the responsibility of protecting their realms and upholding justice.
  3. Vaisya: Representing the third tier in the caste hierarchy, the Vaisyas primarily comprised merchants, farmers, and traders. Their contribution was crucial to the economic backbone of ancient Indian society, playing key roles in commerce and agriculture.
  4. Sudras: This caste represented the great bulk of the Indian population. Most of the Sudras were peasants, artisans, or individuals engaged in various forms of manual labor. Their contributions were foundational in building and maintaining the material aspects of the civilization.
  5. Untouchables: These were individuals often considered outside the traditional Varna system. Labelled as the “Dalits” in later times, they are said to be descendants of slaves or prisoners, and were relegated to performing menial and degrading tasks that were shunned by the other castes. They faced extensive discrimination and were often segregated from the main populace.

The rigidity of the caste system was palpable. For centuries, people’s lives were determined by their birth caste, which dictated their professions, social circles, and even dietary habits. Marriages were almost exclusively endogamous, meaning they took place within the same caste. Over time, the system became even more complex with the emergence of numerous sub-castes or “jatis”.

The Caste System in India

The caste system in India is considered to be the classic example of caste and the world’s oldest surviving form of social stratification at around 3,000 years old. India’s caste system classifies Hindus into four varnas (classes) based on their occupation:

  • A Brahmin is a member of the highest caste or varna and is an incarnation of knowledge.
  • The Kshatriyas are the second-highest of the four varnas representing warriors and aristocracy.
  • Vaishyas (business people) are the third class of the caste system.
  • Sudras (laborers) are the lowest of the four classes of the caste system.

Varna is a Sanskrit word that is translated as ‘class’. Varna is an ancient division with origin in the Vedas (the oldest texts of Hinduism). The caste system was called the varna system in Vedic society (c. 1100 – c. 500 BCE). The purpose of the varna system was to distribute responsibilities among the people. The four social classes in the Varna system are:

Brahmins: priests and teachers
Kshatriyas: warriors and rulers
Vaishyas: farmers, traders, and merchants
Shudras: laborers
Each varna covers certain aspects in the society, if all the four varnas prosper in their respective functions, society is healthy, prosperous, strong, and free.

Jati is from a Sanskrit root jaha meaning to be born. A jati describes a group or community that has generic hereditary characteristics and requires endogamy (marriage within the same group).

To maintain the purity of the varnas and establish eternal order, each jati had its customs and rituals. A person’s jati determined his/her occupation and status, and those with whom he/she was permitted to eat and drink with, to interact with socially, and to marry.

There are only four varnas, but each varna contains many jatis. There are more than 3,000 jatis and these different jatis all fall under one of the four basic varnas.

The Origin of the Caste System
Following Hindu religious theory/scripture, many people believe that these four classes originated from Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. According to the Rig Veda, the first man Purush used his body to create a human society: Brahmins came from Purush’s head, Kshatriyas came from Purush’s arms, Vaishyas from his thighs, and Shudras from Purush’s feet.

The Dalits (“Untouchables”)
The caste system did not consider the Dalits — the “untouchables”, people who had no jati classification. Outside of the caste system, the Untouchables performed “untouchable” jobs, such as toilet cleaning and garbage removal, requiring them to be in contact with bodily fluids! These were considered the ultimate uncivilized occupations and so were not given a jati.

Brahmins: Highest Caste in India
In Hindu scripture, Brahmin originated from the head of Purush, so they are at the top of the varna hierarchy. Brahmin consist of priests and teachers. They have the privilege of interpreting religious scriptures and sacrificing to gods, the right to enjoy religious dedication, and the best education. They were in charge of the teaching of cultural education and reporting on agricultural seasons and the interpretation of religious discourse. They also had key positions in science, business, and government.

Although Brahmins have many privileges, many activities are forbidden to Brahmins, including making weapons, butchering animals, making or selling poisons, trapping wildlife, and other jobs associated with death. Brahmins live with strict austerity and voluntary poverty. They are very strict vegetarians and conform to many other Hindu beliefs.

For Brahmin women, chastity gets unequaled respect, Brahmin women usually only marry a Brahmin as inter-caste marriages are considered an imperfect match, culminating in ignoble offspring. But under some conditions, Kshatriya or Vaishya are allowed to marry a Brahmin. Shudra men are prohibited.

Brahmins comprise a small part of the Indian population — only about 5%. They are mainly distributed in the northern states of India like Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, with a lesser number in the southern states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.

Kshatriyas: Second Highest of the Four Varnas
Kshatriyas, it is written, come from the arms of Purush, and they are considered to be the second highest caste in the varna system or the second social classes.

Kshatriyas exercise temporal authority and power and their main occupations are warriors and rulers. They have the privilege of collecting various taxes, and they are in charge of the army. They are responsible for guarding the Brahmin class.

Kshatriyas traditionally learn weaponry, warfare, penance, austerity, administration, moral conduct, justice, and often start ruling from an early age.

The Kshatriyas had wealth and power and were permitted material indulgence like eating meat, and many also enjoyed alcoholic drinks. These characteristics set them apart from the Brahmins.

Kshatriyas are allowed to marry a woman of all varnas, but Kshatriya or Brahmin women are considered the best option. The Kshatriyas make up around 4% of India’s population and are mainly located in the north of India.

Vaishya: Third Highest of the Four Varnas
Vaishyas are described as commoners and they are the third highest of the four varnas that were penned as coming from the thighs of the first man.

Vaishyas mainly control commercial and agricultural occupations. They don’t have political privileges, but they become strong economically because of their close relation to commerce and many become traders, merchants, landowners, and money-lenders.

Vaishyas support Kshatriyas and Brahmins by sacrificing, giving gifts, providing food through agriculture, and money through taxes. Vaishyas play an important role in the public sphere, providing artisans with technical education, but they are still considered as a lower caste.

Sudras: Lowest Caste in India
Sudras are the lowest rank of the four Hindu castes and are considered to come from the feet of Purush. They are mainly composed of artisans, laborers, and high-level servants and craftsmen, including those who serve meals and cook.

Sudras are the most populous caste, making up nearly half of India’s population. As the default varna, many of this caste are a product of the marriage of an upper caste member or even an Untouchable and a Sudra.

Because Sudras are believed to be created from feet, they face a lot of discrimination from the higher castes and are not permitted to have the same rights and privileges as higher castes, like being “twice-born” (initiation into a Vedic school) and offering certain sacrifices.

How has the caste system worked?
The caste system in India has existed in Indian for thousands of years and has played a significant role in shaping the occupations and roles of its people, as well as the value system of Indian society.

It has ruled the interaction between members of society, especially that of people from different positions in the hierarchy. It has had the effects of segregation, hierarchy, and hereditary specialization.

Caste Dictates One’s Occupation
According to the Rig Veda, all the four varnas come from a body created by the god Brahma, just from different parts.

The soul (head) is considered incomparably holy in Hinduism, while the flesh (rest of the body) is on a different level. Brahmins (from the head) are therefore responsible for religion and culture, whereas Kshatriyas (from the arms) are responsible for politics and military affairs, Vaishyas (from the legs) are responsible for supporting the upper castes, and Sudra (from the feet) are laborers.

Caste is Hereditary
In general, the caste of your parents determines your caste, and your caste determines the caste of your children. Once a person is born, his/her varna is determined. His/her jita (occupation group) is also determined, and it cannot be changed in a lifetime.

However, some have changed their castes through certain rites of passage, such as entry into a Vedic school, or recognition by society. Some marry into a different caste.

Lifestyles and Interactions are Caste-Controlled
Each caste has its unique way of life and code of conduct. If it is violated, it will suffer serious consequences cosmologically, it is believed, as well as punishment by the believing populace.

In general, upper castes were prohibited from having contact with lower castes. The upper castes lived in the center of society, while lower castes lived in the periphery. Water wells were not shared, Brahmins would not accept food or drink from Shudras, etc. Vegetarians and abstainers had a higher status than meat-eaters.

In order to prevent lower castes from breaking the caste barrier through marriage, Hindus could (usually) only marry within their caste. Cross-caste marriages could be classified as “untouchables”.

To change your low-caste situation, you would have to strictly abide by Brahmin doctrine throughout your life, keep yourself sacred, and support the Brahmin nobles to raise your caste in the “next life” (reincarnation).

India’s Caste System Today
Today, the caste system in India has been abolished by law. There is no caste mark on the identity certificates of Indians. After India’s independence, the restraint of the caste system on people was significantly reduced. Relationships between castes are more relaxed today. There is more food sharing between castes and inter-caste marriages are becoming more common.

Both the Sudra and the untouchables can go to school and receive an education. Many people have become doctors, lawyers, and professors, changing the destiny of their ancestors, inter-caste marriages are becoming more common. Some of the low-castes have gone abroad and made big achievements in foreign countries. There have even been two presidents from the “untouchables” in India: Narayanan in 1997 and Ram Nath Kovind in 2017.

In order to take care of the low castes and untouchables, who have been oppressed for a long time, the Indian government introduced many policies of positive discrimination such as quotas in government, employment, and education for members of lower castes. To apply these policies, local governments classified thousands of communities and castes. Lower castes were given the status of Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST), and the slightly higher-ranked-but-still-poor were called Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Although modern India has a positive discrimination policy, most of the communities that were low in the caste hierarchy remain low in the social order, even today. And communities that were high in the social hierarchy still remain high in the social hierarchy. Most of the degrading jobs are still done by the Dalits, while the Brahmins remain at the top of the hierarchy by being the doctors, engineers, and lawyers of India.

The social hierarchy system has existed in India for about 3,000 years, and casteism has long been deeply rooted in the hearts of Indians, so it is hard to change it in a short time. India is still a long way from completely abolishing the caste system.

Justification of Caste System

Caste system was rationalized in ancient India on various grounds. Some of them are discussed below.

  • Justification in the Vedas: No Vedic tradition is valid unless it is found in the Vedas. The caste system would not have found approval among the Vedic people unless there was some reference to it in the Vedas. The Purusha Sukta in the 10th Mandala of the Rigveda describes how the castes came into existence, from different parts of Purusha, the Cosmic Soul, at the time of a grand sacrifice performed by the gods. The brahmins came out of his mouth, the kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaisyas from his thighs and the sudras from his feet. Many scholars believe that concepts and the imagery of Purusha Sukta 11 belong to later Vedic period rather than the Rigvedic period and so it was probably a later day interpolation. It is interesting that this hymn is quoted even today by many orthodox brahmins to justify the system, despite the inconsistencies in the logic employed. Firstly the one indivisible and unchanging Brahman does not have a body like humans. Secondly even if he has, his feet cannot be unclean compared to his mouth. Judging by the human physic, the mouth should more unclean than the feet unless God has a tendency to wallow in mud. Thirdly, among the bodily parts, it is the feet of God that is usually worshipped in the temples and rituals rather than any other part of His body.
  • Justification in the theory of Karma: The concept of karma perfectly justifies the caste system based on birth. It favors the argument that people of lower castes have to blame themselves for their plight because of their bad karma in their past lives. Their pitiable plight is a stern warning to the rest of the humanity that the wheel of dharma operates inexorably, sparing none and favoring none. This line of argument is found in many scriptures, including the Bhagavadgita, according to which people of good merit and those who had developed detachment or dispassion were born in pious families12. In the fourth chapter of the book, Lord Krishna declared that the fourfold varna system was created by him based on the triple gunas and mechanism of karma . By combining the belief in karma with the caste system, the ancient law makers prescribed different vocational and occupational duties for each caste and expected people to follow them sincerely as an integral part of their religious duty. Observing these duties without questioning them was an act of merit, which entitled them to progress on the path of dharma and obtain a better life in the next birth.
  • Justification by the theory of Gunas: According to many schools of Hindu philosophy, all beings and objects in the world contain the triple gunas or qualities of Prakriti. Their dominance or suppression cause people to act and behave differently and make them fit for certain types of occupations. These three qualities are sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva is characterized by purity and spirituality and manifests in men in the form of knowledge, intelligence, faith, sincerity, devotion, piousness and so on. Sattva is believed to be the predominant quality among the men of knowledge, in other worlds, brahmins. Rajas is characterized by egoism and materialism and manifests in men as ambition, pride, desire for wealth and personal power, lust, hypocrisy, attachment and so on. Rajas is believed to be the predominant quality in case of men of action, in other words, in kshatriyas and Vaisyas. Tamas is characterized by lethargy and manifests in men in the form of ignorance, lack of ambition, extreme austerities, demonical resolve, uncleanliness, negative attitude, unhealthy habits and other forms of undesirable behavior. Tamas is believed to be the predominant quality in men who are unclean and ignorant, in other words, sudras.
  • Justification by the religious laws. The caste system was justified by most of the smriti literature, Manusmriti being the most notorious among them and by such religious scriptures as the Puranas, the Sutra literature and scriptures such as the Bhagavadgita and some later day Upanishads. The law books not only justified rigid caste system but prescribed severe punishments in case of violation. The very purpose for which the law books were composed and the manner in which the information was organized in them on caste lines suggest that in ancient and medieval India they were meant to perpetuate and justify the caste system and provide clear guidelines to the administrative machinery to enforce the laws concerning social divisions with little confusion.

Critical Analysis of Caste System

The Hindu caste system had its own merits and demerits and should not be judged purely based on the social values of today. Inequalities and social divisions based on economic and family status were not unknown in other parts of the world. The Nordic races followed some form of caste system. The Greeks and Romans had freemen and slaves. The British, the French and the Russians had their landed gentry and nobility in contrast to the commoners and peasants who were subject to unjust taxes and unequal treatment. The new world had its own slave system practiced for nearly two centuries. Compared so some of these systems and practices, the Hindu caste system was more humane and gentle. Although the chandalas were excluded from social interaction, they were free men within their own world. So were the sudras. The Romans had their slave revolts. The French had their revolution. The injustices of American slave system produced deep rooted aggression, resentment and frustration in the USA. But the low castes in India never launched large scale organized revolts or violence against the upper castes because there was no physical suppression of castes but only limitations of opportunities imposed by tradition and religious beliefs. There were rigid walls among the communities but within the walls life went on as usually independent of how others lived. It is in this context one should examine the advantages and disadvantages of Hindu caste system which are listed below.


  1. Continuity of traditions: It would be unfair to say that the caste system had no merit, because if it were true it would not have survived for so long. If Hinduism survived amidst many competing traditions, religions and foreign invasions, without a central authority and with so many centrifugal forces working from all directions, a great deal of credit ought to go to the rigid caste system that discouraged people from experimenting with their faith and beliefs acting as a binding force and kept them within the boundaries established by the scriptures and the tradition. A vast majority of the Hindus were illiterate, but were not unaware of the laws of karma or the implications of violating caste rules or their commitment to their caste based family occupations and its role in ensuring their family well being and survival.
  2. Division of labor: The caste system promoted division of labor and specialization of knowledge which helped each family perfect and improve their vocational skills and continue them from generation to generation.
  3. Bonds of Brotherhood: The caste system contributed to the development of caste based guilds in the urban areas, which acted like social and labor unions. They united people together under a common purpose and provided some kind of social insurance against unfair competition and unjust exploitation of labor. They ensured fair wages to their members, loaned money to them acting like banks, helped the unemployed to find work, in addition to promoting work ethics and standards of performance among their members. In the rural areas the caste system brought together people of the same caste and promoted unity, solidarity and fraternity among them, strengthening the bonds of their relationships through marriage, friendship and other forms of social and professional interaction.
  4. Purity of lineages: Because of the rigid rules regarding marriage and physical union among the castes and prohibition of marriages with in the same gotras, many families were able to maintain the purity of their lineage.
  5. Unity in diversity: The caste system was not a system of mere division of labor. While it acknowledged birth related inequalities and karma based existential problems, it also emphasized the underlying unity of all the castes and their divine nature as products of a great cosmic sacrifice, arising from various parts of the universal being. The original purpose of the caste system, at least in theory, was not to exploit the weaker castes but establish social order, regulate the affairs of the people and preserve the sacred law (dharma). God was the protector of this order and it was also the responsibility of everyone to ensure that chaos and unrest would not ensue from the intermixture and confusion of castes.


Following are some of the disadvantages of caste system

  1. Exploitation of the Weak: The Hindu caste system had inherent weaknesses which rendered it unjust and exploitative over a period of time, giving rise to social injustices, disabilities and inequalities among a vast majority of the people. Its rigidity and continued practice exposed the weaker sections of society to unjust exploitation by the socially and politically privileged groups in the name of religion and tradition.
  2. Disunity and division of loyalties: The caste system divided the society vertically and horizontally into several groups and bred distrust and resentment. It promoted disunity, distrust and caste prejudices among the people
  3. Foreign domination: The caste system weakened people’s resolve to stand united against foreign invasions. The physically strong sudras were condemned to pure agricultural labor and menial jobs, while they could have been more useful as fighters and soldiers in defending the land and the religion against foreign invaders. By relegating the physically strong population to menial labor and ignoring them in the political affairs of the country, except for tax and labor purposes, the Hindu rulers deprived themselves of able bodied soldiers who could have defended them and their empires against foreign aggression. It is interesting to note that the Muslim rulers and the British who recruited people from all castes into their armies were able to conquer the subcontinent and rule it for centuries.
  4. Preferential Treatment: The caste system was based on birth rather than individual talent and vocational choice. This created many disabilities for talented individuals belonging to the lower castes. The story of Ekalavya in the Mahabharata is a good example of how the system preferred to protect the less competent or the incompetent among the higher castes from the more talented lower caste persons in the name of dharma. This biased approach stilted the growth of the nation and contributed to its downfall in course of time.
  5. Political and military implications: The caste system placed the foreigners on par with the untouchables and prevented healthy exchange of knowledge and ideas. This worked to the disadvantage of Indians in general and the armies in particular as it isolated people from the rest of the world and prevented them from knowing about the invading foreigners, their strategic moves and counter moves and methods of warfare. The caste system also divided Indian soldiers on caste lines and created groups within groups, making coordination a difficult task for the army generals.
  6. Conversion to other religions. Caste system indirectly contributed to the decline of Hindu religion as many people belonging to the lower castes were converted to other religions to escape the social indignities and inequalities associated with their castes. Buddhism, Christianity and Islam thrived in India on the weaknesses of Hinduism rather their own merits. Speaking of this subject, Swami Vivekananda commented in the following words, “Was there ever a sillier thing before in the world than what I saw in Malabar country? The poor Pariah is not allowed to pass through the same street as the high-caste man, but if he changes his name to a hodge-podge English name, it is all right; or to a Moahammedan name, it is all right. What inference would you draw except that these Malabaris are all lunatics, their homes so many lunatic asylums, and that they are to be treated with derision by every race in India until they mend their manners and know better.”
  7. Instrument of oppression. The caste system became an instrument of oppression in the hands of socially privileged castes. Landlords and wealthy merchants exploited the lower castes and subjected them to inhuman treatment without fear as the lower castes did not enjoy equal rights nor the confidence of those who enforced the laws.
  8. Untouchability: Caste system created a class of individuals who were regarded as untouchables and treated as less than human beings. They were not allowed to enter the cities and villages freely. People of higher castes were advised not to touch them or let their shadows fall on them because the shadows were also treated as sources of defilement. They were not allowed to draw water from the wells or ponds used by the upper castes. In modern times, many untouchables converted to other religions because they saw no hope in sticking with their traditional castes and among those who did not opt for conversion, the educated ones are its worst critics.
  9. Low self-esteem: The caste system lowers the self-esteem of many and makes them feel bad about their social status and caste identity. Since it is based on birth, there is nothing much anyone can do about one’s caste other than changing one’s religion, a decision that may have other social implications such as alienation from one’s own family, friends or community, accompanied by feelings of guilt and fear of divine retribution. The caste system is a blistering and festering ancient sore of Hindu society that evokes painful memories and keeps the Hindu society divided for ever.

Caste System in Modern Hindu Society

Today untouchability is a serious crime. But the idea of caste system still prevails in the minds of many Hindus. The following points are worth noticing:

1. Inter caste marriages are not approved in many traditional and rural families.

2. Caste based organizations and associations still exist in India and play a crucial role in perpetuating the idea of caste.

3. Upper caste people are unhappy with the government’s reservation policy and their grievance is not entirely unfound. Some castes demand the government to recognize them as scheduled castes or tribes and from time to time resort to violent agitation over the issue.

4. Caste conflicts often lead to violence and bloodshed in the rural areas and college campuses.

5. In many educational institutions students tend to group themselves on the basis of castes, often with the tacit connivance of teaching faculty and local politicians. A similar trend is often noticeable in the work places also. Scheduled caste and tribe unions and organizations often put undue pressure on the government and managements using their protected status. Frivolous complaints of discrimination and bogus criminal cases against officers of higher castes to settle some past scores are not unknown.

6. In Indian politics, caste is a powerful factor. In many states of India political parties are identified on the basis of dominant castes that support them. During general elections many politicians appeal to the baser instincts of people using caste affiliations. They shamelessly and clandestinely seek votes in the name of caste.

7. Indian temples are still under the siege of caste chauvinism. The temple administrations, some of which are managed by government officials, do not recruit people from other castes to act as temple priests. They also often perform purification rituals for caste transgressions which invite lot of public criticism. The priesthood continues to be an exclusive privilege of the brahmins and no noticeable effort has been made to encourage people from other castes to study the Vedas and join the priesthood.

8. Discrimination continues in several states in remote areas. There are still people who would not let low castes draw water from their wells and would not let them sit in the same row to share food.

9. The lower caste people continue to be employed by the higher castes in the rural areas to perform menial and degrading jobs. We do not see the opposite happening anywhere in the country, except perhaps in companies and corporations owned by a few lower caste Hindus.


The caste system might have served its purpose in ancient times, but does not fit into the values and principles of modern times, such as democracy, fundamental rights, individual freedom, equality and non-discrimination. It does not uphold the values of modern Hinduism either, such as tolerance and universal brotherhood. It does not validate the concept that all life is a sacred expression of divine will and energy. Followers and upholders of Hinduism cannot and should not rationalize caste system if they want to maintain the credibility of Hinduism as world religion that can accommodate people of all nations, races and backgrounds.

Scholars tend to rationalize the caste system by quoting the Purushasukta and the Bhagavadgita. They ignore the fact that these verses contradict the very core values of Hinduism emphasized in the same texts and present a world view that is a negation of Hinduism. If caste system is allowed to prevail, it would do a much greater damage to Hinduism than any other disruptive force we can imagine. We have already seen its negative impact. If Hinduism lost millions of its followers to other religions and continues to lose so, it is because the lower castes were pushed to the wall and made to feel bad about themselves. It is time we consign the ancient law books such as Manusmriti to the dustbins of history and move forward to establish an egalitarian society based upon firm ethical and spiritual foundation upon which Hinduism can brace itself to meet the challenges of the coming times and appeal to the inquisitive and advanced minds of the future generations.


1. A twice-born man who knowingly eats mushrooms, a village-pig, garlic, a village-cock, onions, or leeks, will become an outcast. (5:14)

A Brahmana who neither performs austerities nor studies the Veda, yet delights in accepting gifts, sinks with the (donor into hell), just as (he who attempts to cross over in) a boat made of stone (is submerged) in the water. (4.190)

2. A Brahmana who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will (after death) sink into hell; if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana. (Manusmriti: Ch3:17)

3. Let (the first part of) a Brahmana’s name (denote something) auspicious, a Kshatriya’s be connected with power, and a Vaisya’s with wealth, but a Sudra’s (express something) contemptible. (Manusmriti: Ch2:31)

4. Manusmriti Chapter 7:35

5. Manusmriti Chapter 7:14

6. It is said that the Dravidians or those who spoke Dravidian languages and probably lived in the Indus valley and present day Rajasthan before migrating eastwards and southwards due to climatic changes, practiced some form of caste system based on vocation which was later taken up by the Vedic priests as the model along with the integration of traditions such as Vaishnavism, Saivism and Tantrism.

7. He is also considered to be the progenitor of the Andhras of the south.

8. Prof K.p. Jayaswal

9. According to H.G. Rawlinson, caste is a Portuguese word meaning purity of race.

10. The Satavahanas, who ruled in the early Christian era, patronized Brahmanism and contributed greatly to the revival of Brahmanism in southern and central India. Their empire extended from the river Krishna in the south to Malwa and Kathiawar in the north and also included large parts of present day Maharashtra and some parts of Gujarat and Orissa

11. The Purusha Sukta verses dealing with the creation of castes is reproduced below

When they divided the Purusha how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?

The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thigh became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was Produced.

12. Bhagavadgita Ch6:42

13. Bhagavadgita Ch4:14

14. Fahien mentioned that when the Chandalas entered a city or a street they were required to strike a price of wood to warn others of their coming so that people moving in the streets would not be polluted by their contact.

Caste System

Caste is closely connected with the Hindu philosophy and religion, custom and tradition .It is believed to have had a divine origin and sanction. It is deeply rooted social institution in India. There are more than 2800 castes and sub-castes with all their peculiarities. The term caste is derived from the Spanish word caste-meaning breed or lineage. The word caste also signifies race or kind. The Sanskrit word for caste is Varna that means color.

The caste stratification of the Indian society had its origin in the chaturvarna system. According to this doctrine the Hindu society was divided into four main varnas – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The Varna system prevalent during the Vedic period was mainly based on division of labor and occupation. Earlier there were only three varnas, the Shudras were added later and occupational division was not rigid. A fifth group that falls outside the Varna system and is called Avarna or outcaste or untouchable also exists. Caste is an endogamous group having a relatively independent culture and structural existence. The caste system owns its origin to the Varna system.

Ghurye says any attempt to define caste is bound to fail because of the complexity of the phenomenon. According to Risley caste is a collection of families bearing a common name claiming a common descent from a mythical ancestor professing to follow the same hereditary calling and regarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single homogeneous community.

According to Maclver and Page when status is wholly predetermined so that men are born to their lot without any hope of changing it, then the class takes the extreme form of caste. Cooley says that when a class is somewhat strictly hereditary we may call it caste.

M.N Srinivas sees caste as a segmentary system. Every caste for him divided into sub castes which are the units of endogamy whose members follow a common occupation, social and ritual life and common culture and whose members are governed by the same authoritative body viz the panchayat.

According to Bailey caste groups are united into a system through two principles of segregation and hierarchy. For Dumont caste is not a form of stratification but as a special form of inequality. The major attributes of caste are the hierarchy, the separation and the division of labor. Weber sees caste as the enhancement and transformation of social distance into religious or strictly a magical principle. For Adrian Mayer caste hierarchy is not just determined by economic and political factors although these are important. Nesfield gave a theory of caste based on occupation. Caste is also viewed from two broad perspectives:

Inherent qualities associated with the caste system. Bougle used this perspective to focus on key features of caste.

How castes are actually ranked with respect to one another in a local empirical context. Its prime focus is on interactions. Beteille subscribe to this view.

Main features of caste system

Caste system hierarchically divides the society. A sense of highness and lowness or superiority and inferiority is associated with this gradation or ranking. The Brahmins are placed at the top of the hierarchy and are regarded as pure or supreme. The degraded caste or the untouchables have occupied the other end of the hierarchy. The status of an individual is determined by his birth and not by selection nor by accomplishments. Each caste has its own customs, traditions practices and rituals.It has its own informal rules, regulations and procedures. The caste panchayats or the caste councils regulate the conduct of members. The caste system has imposed certain restrictions on the food habitats of the members these differ from caste to caste. In North India Brahmin would accept pakka food only from some castes lower than his own.

But he would not accept kachcha food prepared with the use of water at the hands of no other caste except his own. As a matter of rule and practice no individual would accept kachcha food prepared by an inferior casteman.The caste system put restriction on the range of social relations also. The idea of pollution means a touch of lower caste man would pollute or defile a man of higher caste. Even his shadow is considered enough to pollute a higher caste man. The lower caste people suffered from certain socio-religious disabilities. The impure castes are made to live on the outskirts of the city and they are not allowed to draw water from the public wells. In earlier times entrance to temples and other places of religious importance were forbidden to them. Educational facilities, legal rights and political representation were denied to them for a very long time. If the lower castes suffer from certain disabilities some higher caste like the Brahmins enjoy certain privileges like conducting prayers in the temples etc.There is gradation of occupations also. Some occupations are considered superior and sacred while certain others degrading and inferior. For a long time occupations were very much associated with the caste system. Each caste had its own specific occupations which were almost hereditary. There was no scope for individual talent, aptitude, enterprise or abilities. The caste system imposes restrictions on marriage also. Caste is an endogamous group. Each caste is subdivided into certain sub castes which are again endogamous.Intercaste marriages are still looked down upon in the traditional Indian society.

Functions of the caste system

The caste system is credited to ensure the continuity of the traditional social organization of India. It has accommodated multiple communities including invading tribes in the Indian society. The knowledge and skills of the occupations have passed down from one generation to the next. Through subsystems like Jajmani system the caste system promoted interdependent interaction between various castes and communities with in a village. The rituals and traditions promoted cooperation and unity between members of the different castes.

The dysfunctions

Caste system promoted untouchability and discrimination against certain members of the society. It hindered both horizontal and vertical social mobility forcing an individual to carry on the traditional occupation against his or her will and capacity. The status of women was affected and they were relegated to the background. The caste system divided the society into mutually hostile and conflicting groups and subgroups.

Dominant caste

This concept given by M.N Srinivas holds that a caste is dominant when it is numerically higher than the other castes. In the Mysore village he described the peasant Okkalinga composed of nearly half of the population made up of nineteenth jati group. The Okkalinga were the biggest land owner. The chief criteria of domination of a caste are

  1. Economic strength
  2. Political power
  3. Ritual purity
  4. Numerical strength

The dominant caste also wields economic and political power over the other caste groups. It also enjoys a high ritual status in the local caste hierarchy. The dominant caste may not be ritually high but enjoy high status because of wealth, political power and numerical strength. The presence of educated persons and high occupation rate also play an important role in deciding its dominance over other caste groupings. Sometimes a single clan of dominant caste controls a number of villages in areas. The dominant caste settle dispute between persons belonging to their own and other jati.The power of the dominant caste is supported by a norm discouraging village from seeking justice from area,govt official, court or police located outside the village. The members of the dominant caste particularly those from the wealthy and powerful families are representative of this village in dealing with the officials.

Purity and Pollution

The notions of purity and pollution are critical for defining and understanding caste hierarchy. According to these concepts, Brahmins hold the highest rank and Shudras the lowest in the caste hierarchy. The Varna System represents a social stratification which includes four varnas namely- Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras.The Shudras were allocated the lowest rank of social ladder and their responsibilities included service of the three Varnas. The superior castes tried to maintain their ceremonial purity

Dumont holds the notion of purity and pollution interlinked with the caste system and untouchability.The hierarchy of caste is decided according to the degree of purity and pollution. It plays a very crucial role in maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies from caste to caste and from place to place.

Dipankar Gupta observes that the notion of purity and pollution as Dumont observed is integrally linked with the institution of untouchability .But unlike untouchability the notion of purity and pollution is also a historical accretion. Over time this notion freed itself from its specific and original task of separating untouchables from the others and began to be operative at different planes of the caste system.

The concept of purity and pollution plays a very crucial role in maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies from caste to caste and from place to place.

Here is the Breakdown of the Four Main Castes:

  1. Brahmins: The highest and most esteemed caste. These people often hold the job of priest or teacher.
  2. Kshatriyas: The second caste. These people are often known traditionally as ‘warriors.’ They often hold the job of farmer, trader, or merchant.
  3. Waishyas: The third caste. These people often hold the job of farmer, trader, or merchant.
  4. Shudras: The fourth caste. These people are often those that do manual labor.

Although there are 4 main castes, the system is divided into thousands of sub-castes, further dividing the people of India. Additionally, there is a whole separate caste, who society believes to be so vile that they aren’t considered part of the system at all – the Untouchables or Dalits. They are completely shunned from society. forbidden to live amongst those of high castes.

Who is a Brahmin?

Brahmin (also spelled Brahman) is the highest-ranking of India’s four castes or varnas, hereditary Hindu social classes. With their history of religious prestige and a tradition of education, Brahmins hold an elevated position in society. They have been politically influential throughout India’s history, before British colonialism, during the British Raj (1858–1947), and then leading the Congress Party and the nationalist movement that promoted independence. Brahmins dominated politics for many years after independence was achieved in 1947. For example, the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a Brahmin, and eight of the thirteen post-independence prime ministers have been Brahmins.

History of the Brahmin Caste

The caste system in India is ancient, having existed for at least 3,000 years. The system is a hereditary social hierarchy that can determine a person’s profession, appropriate marriage partners, and acceptable social contacts. Although castes originally applied only to Hindu people, today, Indian people of any religion identify with a caste.

At the top of the hierarchy are the Brahmins. The history of this caste stretches back to the Vedic period, between 1500 and 600 BCE when the caste system first developed. Sacred texts composed during this time remain critical in Hindu religion and culture; they are also crucial sources containing information for knowledge of this period. The ancient Vedic religion helped to shape modern Hinduism, although there are marked differences between them.

In the caste hierarchy, each caste has its primary role:

  • Brahmin: This caste has priestly and educational roles, and its members are believed to be of greater ritual purity than those of the other castes
  • Kshatriya: This caste has the duties of fighting in the war and governing in peace
  • Vaishya: This caste is responsible for providing for the higher caste. They were originally farmers, but over time they became landowners, businessmen, and money-lenders
  • Shudra: This caste has the duty of serving the other castes, primarily as unskilled laborers

Beyond its primary duty, each caste has acceptable alternatives for its members. For example, Hindu priests are drawn from the Brahmin caste, although only about 10 percent of adult Brahmin men are priests or religious teachers. Brahmins, about 5 percent of today’s Indian population, may hold many other positions and occupations, including those typically associated with the other castes. In the Maratha Dynasty from the 1600s to the 1800s, Brahmins held both government and military offices normally associated with the Kshatriya warrior caste. Other Brahmins were merchants, normally considered to be the province of the Vaishya caste, and even farmers, usually relegated to members of the Shudra or laboring caste.

Roles of Brahmins in India

Discrimination by caste is officially banned in India. Although many of its social practices remain, the strictures of the caste system have loosened in modern times. Brahmins remain at the top of the social hierarchy, however, holding many important government offices, academic positions, and business roles. As priests and religious leaders, they study religious texts, perform temple ceremonies, and conduct weddings for Hindu people of all social classes.

Some important Brahmin figures are listed below:

  • Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google
  • Durga Prasad Dhar, diplomat and former ambassador to the Soviet Union
  • Ravi Shankar, Indian sitar virtuoso and composer
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale, the first woman to be nominated to the upper house of India’s Parliament
  • Dhanvanthi Rama Rau, founder and former president of Family Planning Association India

Criticisms of the Hindu Brahmins

Indigenous opposition to the caste system is long-standing in India, as it began in pre-colonial times. Modern criticism of Brahmins, however, stems primarily from their role under British colonialism.

As the most educated and respected caste, Brahmins came to dominate the colonial civil service and new urban jobs. Their wealth, elevated position, and cooperation with the British colonizers created resentment among lower-caste and non-Hindu people. By the early twentieth century, developing anti-Brahmanism became organized with the formation of the Justice Party in southern India in 1916. Composed of non-Brahmins, it opposed Brahmins’ disproportionate representation in government and urged more positions for non-Brahmins. This policy was enshrined when the post-independence constitution banned caste discrimination, and the government sought to fill positions with lower-caste Indians.

What makes someone a Brahmin?

Brahmins are born into the Brahmin caste. This is the top of the four Indian social castes, which can determine occupations, marriage partners, and social contacts.

What are the levels of the caste system?

The Indian caste system contains four levels. Initially, Brahmins, the top level, were priests; Kshatriya, originally warriors; Vaishya, who served the higher-ranking castes in occupations such as landowners and businessmen; and Shudra, usually unskilled laborers.

Brahmin Caste

Brahmin is a member of the priestly caste of India. Brahmins occupy the highest position in the Hindu Varna (caste) system. The Brahmins are the caste from which Hindu priests are strained and are responsible for teaching and maintaining the holy knowledge.

Brahmin is considered as a member of the priestly caste of the country. In Hinduism, there is the concept of â ˜Varnaâ system where the society is stratified into four â ˜Varnasâ or castes – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudras. The Brahmin occupies the highest level in the â ˜Varnaâ system and is considered to be the priest class in the Varna system of ancient India. The word â ˜Brahminâ has been derived from the Sanskrit word â ˜Brahmanaâ . Besides Hinduism, Brahmins are also found in Buddhism. Dhammapada has a list on the Buddhist Brahmin section. Brahmin Bhikshus were quite common with this religious sect. Other sects like Jainism, Islam and Sikhism also bear testimony to the existence of Brahmins within their religious sects.
Brahmins during Vedic Period
The Vedic period, a crucial phase in ancient Indian history, witnessed the emergence of a class of individuals known as Brahmins, who played a pivotal role in shaping the social and religious fabric of the time. The earliest reference to Brahmins can be traced back to the Rigveda, particularly in the renowned hymn called Purusha Sukta. Within this sacred text, the Brahmins are depicted as having originated from the mouth of Purusha, signifying their association with the realm of words and knowledge.
However, scholars now believe that the Purusha Sukta varna verse was likely inserted into the Vedic text at a later date, possibly as a charter myth. The Rigveda itself does not provide evidence for an elaborate caste system, and the varna system appears more as an aspirational social ideal rather than an established reality.
In the context of their societal role, the Grhya-sutras highlight the distinctive duties and privileges of Brahmins, which encompassed Yajna (ritual sacrifice), Adhyayana (the study and teaching of the Vedas), and dana pratigraha (accepting and giving gifts). These responsibilities were considered inherent to the Brahmin class, setting them apart in their contributions to religious and educational domains.
It is important to note that the term “Brahmin” in ancient Indian texts did not solely denote a priestly class based on birth but rather emphasized personal qualities of virtue and goodness. This broader definition aligned with the principles of Hinduism, particularly the concept of Sannyasa or the renunciate stage of life dedicated to spiritual pursuits. As such, Brahmins were often associated with asceticism, embodying the values cherished during this phase.
The Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras, canonical texts of Hinduism, expounded the expectations, duties, and responsibilities of Brahmins in society. Drawing parallels with Greek virtue-ethics, these texts portrayed the virtuous Brahmin as one possessing practical wisdom and moral uprightness, akin to the philosophers of the Greek tradition. Nonetheless, the distinction lay in the Brahmin’s sacred role as a priest and custodian of religious rituals.
One of the distinguishing features of Brahmins during the Vedic period was their obligation to perform all six Vedic duties, unlike other twice-born individuals who performed only three. These duties encompassed Adhyayan (the study of the Vedas), participation in Yajana (ritual sacrifice), Dana (giving gifts), Adyapana (teaching of the Vedas), conducting Yaajana (acting as priests during sacrifice), and Pratigraha (accepting gifts).
History of Brahmin
Some parts of India were also ruled by Brahmin Kings. From Vedic times on, the Kings acted in close relationship with Brahmins and relied on them as their advisors. The Brahmins had become an influential and powerful group in India and were famous for discriminating against ‘lower’ castes. The history of the Brahmin community in India starts with the Vedic religious conviction of early Hinduism which is now frequently referred to by Hindus as Sanatan Dharm. Vedas are the main source of knowledge for Brahmin practices. Most â ˜sampradayasâ of Brahmins have taken motivation from the Vedas.
The Brahmins only show up in the historical evidence around the time of the Gupta Empire, which ruled from the 4th to the 6th century CE. The caste system has clearly been more flexible, in terms of suitable work for Brahmins, than one might anticipate. With the sovereignty of the Maratha Dynasty, members of the Brahmin caste served as administration and military leaders, occupations more characteristically associated with the Kshatriya.
The Muslim rulers of the Mughal Dynasty also used Brahmins as advisors and government officials, as did the British Raj in India. The ancient Hindu caste system is divided on the basis of occupation. With the Vedic religion in ancient India the history of the Brahmin community actually begins. In chapter ten of the Rig Veda, Brahmins were created from the mouth of Purusha. The primary source of knowledge for all Brahmin tradition, both orthodox and heterodox lies in the Vedas. The origin of the Brahmins can be traced back to 6000 B.C. the earliest references are found in Vedas. Brahmins are known as Vedic People. Vedas depict them as a population originating in North India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sages like Vishwamitra, Agastya, Brihaspati, Daksha, Kashyapa, Manu, Parasara, Vashishta, Vyasa and Yamaand and several others are mentioned in the mythological texts and Vedas. They imparted education and led a life of simplicity. The life of an Indian Brahmin is divided into four stages – Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa.

Brahmins in Buddhist and Jain Texts
The term “Brahmin” finds frequent mention in ancient and medieval Sutras and commentary texts of both Buddhism and Jainism. It is essential to note that the usage of the term in these contexts does not necessarily imply a reference to the caste system prevalent in Hindu society. Rather, it carries diverse connotations, such as “masters” (experts), guardians, recluses, preachers, or guides of any tradition. In the non-Hindu traditions, an alternative synonym used for Brahmin is “Mahano.”
Scholars have examined these ancient texts closely, shedding light on the nuanced interpretation of the term “Brahmin” within the context of Buddhism and Jainism. It becomes evident that the term is employed to signify individuals who possess expertise, knowledge, or authority in specific domains, rather than being solely associated with their social status or lineage.

In the Buddhist tradition, “Brahmin” denotes individuals who have achieved mastery in certain aspects of their spiritual practice or teachings. They may act as guides for others on the path of spiritual enlightenment and serve as guardians of sacred knowledge. It is worth emphasizing that the Buddhist understanding of Brahmin transcends the boundaries of caste and instead focuses on one’s spiritual attainments and wisdom.

Similarly, within Jainism, the term “Brahmin” is used to designate learned and enlightened individuals who have attained profound knowledge of Jain scriptures, ethics, and philosophical principles. These Mahanos or Brahmins in Jain texts assume the role of spiritual mentors, guiding their disciples toward righteous conduct and spiritual progress. Culture of Brahmin
The Brahminâ s conventional occupation is that of a priest. In Odisha, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh, many Brahmin have land and practice agriculture with the administration facility, business, household industry and astrology. No one apart from a Brahmin can be a socially accepted priest. Brahmins were the foremost to act in response to English education and the first to benefit from political and managerial power.

The Brahmin caste is mainly the strict vegetarians. In Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the younger generation eats meat. Rice, wheat and maize are the staple cereals. In dry regions such as Rajasthan, coarse cereals like bajra and jowar, seasonal vegetables and fruit and milk and dairy products are staple food for Brahmins.

The adequate age for marriage of women is 18 and older for men. Marriages are in order by the parents and monogamy is the standard. The family property is inherited equally by sons only, the eldest son following to the head of the family. Wives spread vermilion powder known as â ˜sindurâ along with the hair parting and wear toe rings. Payment of dowry is both in cash and goods. Divorce is rare and remarriage for widows is forbidden. Widowers however, are allowed to remarry.
The Brahmans are alienated into 10 major protective divisions, 5 of which are connected with the north and five with the south. The northern group consists of â ˜Sarasvatiâ , â ˜Gaudaâ , â ˜Kannaujâ , â ˜Maithilâ , and â ˜Utkalâ Brahmans, and the southern group comprises of Maharashtra, Andhra, Dravida, Karnata, and Malabar.
The various Brahmin castes are Chitpavana Brahmins, Dadhich Brahmins, Dayama Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins, Deshastha Brahmins, Dravida Brahmins, Gaud Brahmins, Gouda Saraswat Brahmins, Havyaka Brahmins, Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins, Iyers, Kandavara Brahmins, Karade Brahmins, Karhada Brahmins, Kayastha Brahmins, Khandelwal Brahmins, Kota Brahmins, Konkanastha Brahmins, Koteshwara Brahmins, Maithil Brahmins, Nagar Brahmins, Namboothiri Brahmins, Niyogi Brahmins, Padia Brahmins, Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Saklapuri Brahmins, Sanketi Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins, shree gaud brahmins, Shivalli Brahmins, Smarta Brahmins, Sthanika Brahmins, Thenkalai Iyengars, Tuluva Brahmins, Vadagalai Iyengars, Vaidiki Brahmins and Vaishnava Brahmins.

Brahmins during Social Reform Movements
Throughout history, Brahmins have played a pivotal role in shaping the spiritual landscape of India, particularly during the Bhakti Movement and subsequent social reform movements. The Bhakti Movement, which emerged during the medieval era, sought to foster a direct and personal connection between individuals and their chosen deities, transcending rigid religious hierarchies.
In the realm of the Bhakti Movement, Brahmins stood as prominent thinkers and early proponents. Figures such as Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vallabha, and Madhvacharya of Vaishnavism, along with the devotional poet sant Ramananda, were instrumental in nurturing this transformative movement. Ramananda, born into a Brahmin family, epitomized the inclusive spirit of Bhakti, welcoming all seekers regardless of gender, class, caste, or religion, including Muslims. His spiritual teachings were expressed in vernacular poems, accessible to people from various walks of life. Today, Ramananda is revered as the founder of the Hindu Ramanandi Sampradaya, one of Asia’s largest monastic renunciant communities.

Similarly, other medieval-era Brahmins contributed significantly to spiritual movements that rejected social and gender discrimination. Notable figures like Andal, a 9th-century female poet, Basava of Lingayatism in the 12th century, Dnyaneshwar, a Bhakti poet from the 13th century, Vallabha Acharya, a Vaishnava poet from the 16th century, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a Vaishnava saint from the 14th century, stood as beacons of inclusivity and devotion.

In the wake of the Bhakti Movement, the 18th and 19th centuries witnessed several Brahmins leading religious movements that openly criticized idolatry and sought reform. For instance, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, an illustrious Brahmin, spearheaded the Brahmo Samaj, a socio-religious reform movement emphasizing monotheism, rationality, and social equality. Another influential Brahmin, Dayananda Saraswati, took the lead in establishing the Arya Samaj, advocating for Vedic teachings, denouncing caste-based discrimination, and promoting educational reform.

In more recent times, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a prominent Brahmin, played a key role in popularizing the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which involves the worship of Lord Ganpati in the form of an idol. His efforts helped make this celebration a unifying event that transcended barriers of caste and creed.

Brahmin in different states
In Andhra Pradesh, the Brahmins are categorized into two groups – Vaidika and Niyogi, Bihar Brahmins are divided into two broad groups namely Bhumihar Brahmins and the Maithili Brahmins. In Karnataka, the Brahmins are divided into three major groups namely Smarthas, Madhvas (or Vaisnavas) and Sri-Vaishnavas (Iyengars).
Brahmins are classified into two groups in Kerala, while the major priestly activities are performed by Namboothris and the other activities associated with the temple is performed by Pushpaka Brahmins. In Rajasthan, Brahmins are mainly classified into Dahima Brahmin, Gaud Brahmin, Sri Gaud Brahmin, Khandelwal Brahmin, Gujar-Gaud Brahmins.

Who Are the Brahmins

A Brahmin is a member of the highest caste or varna in Hinduism. The Brahmins are the caste from which Hindu priests are drawn, and are responsible for teaching and maintaining sacred knowledge. The other major castes, from highest to lowest, are the Kshatriya (warriors and princes), Vaisya (farmers or merchants), and Shudra (servants and sharecroppers).

History of the Brahmin Caste

Interestingly, the Brahmins only show up in the historical record around the time of the Gupta Empire, which ruled from circa 320-467 CE.1 This does not mean that they did not exist prior to that time, however. The early Vedic writings do not provide much by way of historical detail, even on such apparently important questions as “who are the priests in this religious tradition?” It seems likely that the caste and its priestly duties developed gradually over time, and probably were in place in some form long before the Gupta era.

The caste system has evidently been more flexible, in terms of appropriate work for Brahmins, than one might expect. Records from the classical and medieval periods in India mention men of the Brahmin class performing work other than carrying out priestly duties or teaching about religion. For example, some were warriors, merchants, architects, carpet-makers, and even farmers.

As late as the reign of the Maratha Dynasty, in the 1600s to 1800s CE, members of the Brahmin caste served as government administrators and military leaders, occupations more typically associated with the Kshatriya.2 Interestingly, the Muslim rulers of the Mughal Dynasty (1526–1858) also employed Brahmins as advisors and government officials,3 as did the British Raj in India (1858–1947).4 In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of modern India, was also a member of the Brahmin caste.

The Brahmin Caste Today

Today, the Brahmins comprise about 5% of the total population of India. Traditionally, male Brahmins performed priestly services, but they may also work in jobs associated with lower castes. Indeed, occupational surveys of Brahmin families in the 20th century found that less than 10% of adult male Brahmins actually worked as priests or Vedic teachers.

As in earlier times, most Brahmins actually made their living from work associated with the lower castes, including agriculture, stone-cutting, or working in the service industries. In some cases, such work precludes the Brahmin in question from carrying out priestly duties, however. For example, a Brahmin who begins farming (not only as an absentee land-owner, but actually tilling the land himself) may be considered ritually contaminated, and can be barred from later entering the priesthood.

Nonetheless, the traditional association between the Brahmin caste and priestly duties remains strong. Brahmins study the religious texts, such as the Vedas and the Puranas, and teach members of other castes about the holy books. They also perform temple ceremonies and officiate at weddings and other important occasions. Traditionally, the Brahmins served as the spiritual guides and teachers of the Kshatriya princes and warriors, preaching to the political and military elites about the dharma, but today they perform ceremonies for Hindus from all of the lower castes.

Activities that are forbidden to Brahmins according to the Manusmriti include making weapons, butchering animals, making or selling poisons, trapping wildlife, and other jobs associated with death. Brahmins are vegetarian, in keeping with Hindu beliefs in reincarnation. However, some do consume milk products or fish, particularly in mountainous or desert areas where produce is scarce. The six proper activities, ranked from the highest to the lowest, are teaching, studying the Vedas, offering ritual sacrifices, officiating at rituals for others, giving gifts, and accepting gifts.

Pronunciation: “BRAH-mihn”

Alternate Spellings: Brahman, Brahmana

Examples: “Some people believe that the Buddha himself, Siddharta Gautama, was a member of a Brahmin family. This may be true; however, his father was a king, which usually aligns with the Kshatriya (warrior/prince) caste instead.”

A List of Brahmin Communities
List of Brahmin Communities
(in alphabetical order)

Adi Goud Ahiwasi Brahmins
Anavil Brahmins
Ashtasahasram Iyers
Aravttokkalu Brahmins
Audichya Brahmins
Babburkamme Smartha Brahmins
Badaganadu Smartha Brahmins
Badaganadu Madhwa Brahmins
Barendra Brahmins of Bengal
Basotra Brahmins
Beyal Brahmins
Bhargava Brahmins of Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh
Bhumihar Brahmins
Bral Brahmins
Brahatcharanam Iyers
Brahmabhat Brahmins
Daivajna Brahmins
Deshastha Brahmins
Devrukhe Brahmins of Konkan region in Maharashtra
Dhima Brahmins
Dravida Brahmins (originally from Tamilandu, migrated to parts of Godavari and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh)
Embranthiri Brahmins of Kerala
Gaur Brahmins
Gouda Saraswat Brahmins
Gurukkal or Shivacharya Brahmins
Halenadu Karnataka Brahmins, also known as Muguru Karnataka Brahmins
Havyaka Brahmins
Hebbar Iyengars
Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins
Jangid Brahmins
Jijhotia Brahmins
Kandavara Brahmins
Kanyakubj or Kanaujia Brahmins
Karhada or Karade Brahmins of Karhad region of Maharashtra
Kashmiri Saraswats or Kashmiri Pundits
Kayastha Brahmins
Kerala Iyers
Khajuria or Dogra Brahmins of Jammu
Khandelwal Brahmins
Khedawal Brahmins
Konkanastha or Chitpavan Brahmins
Konkani Saraswat Brahmins
Kota Brahmins
Koteshwara Brahmins
Kudaldeshkar Brahmins
Madras Iyengars
Madhwa Brahmins
Maithil Brahmins

Malwi Brahmins
Mandyam Iyengars
Modh Brahmins
Mohyal Brahmins
Muluknadu Brahmins
Nagar Brahmins
Namboothiri Brahmins
Nandimukh or Nandwana Brahmins of Gujarat and Rajasthan area.
Naramdeo or Narmdiya Brahmins
Nepali Brahmins
Niyogi Brahmins
Padia Brahmins
Paliwal Brahmins
Pangotra Brahmins
Pottee Brahmins of Kerala
Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins
Pushkarna Brahmins
Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
Rahri Brahmins of Rahr region of Bengal
Rigvedi Deshastha Brahmins
Sadotra Brahmins of Jammu
Sakaldwipi Brahmins
Saklapuri Brahmins
Sanadhya Brahmins mainly of western Uttar Pradesh
Sanketi Brahmins
Sarwaria Brahmins
Sarypari Brahmins of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
Sirinadu Smartha Brahmins
Shrimali Brahmins
Shivalli Brahmins
Shrotriya Brahmins of Jharkhand (in the districts of Hazaribag, Dhanbad, Giridih, Bokaroand) and Bihar (in the districts of Gaya, Nawada, Biharsharif).
Smartha Brahmins
Srigaur Brahmins
Sthanika Brahmins
Suryadwij Brahmins (of Kota region in Rajasthan)
Thenkalai (a.k.a.Thengalai) Iyengars
Tuluva Brahmins
Tyagi Brahmins
Uppal Brahmins
Upreti Brahimins of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand
Utkal Brahmins
Uluchakamme Smartha Brahmins
Vadagalai Iyengars
Vadama Iyers
Vaidik or Vaidiki Brahmins
Vaishnava Brahmins
Vathima Iyers
Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmins

Brahmin Castes in India
Brahmin Castes in India have been divided in different communities. The two popular divisions in India are the North Indian Brahmins and the South Indian Brahmins.

Brahmin Caste in India refers to the class of educators, law makers, scholars, priests and preachers of Dharma in Hinduism. The concept of Brahmin caste had started from the Vedic times. Brahmins are the members of the highest of the four varnas. According to Hindu mythology, Brahmins are the creations of Lord Brahma, God of knowledge and education.

Types of Brahmin Caste in India
The Brahmin caste in India has been broadly divided into two divisions based on regions. They are ‘Pancha-Gauda Brahmins’ from North India and ‘Pancha-Dravida Brahmins’ from the South India.

The Pancha-Gauda Brahmins have further been divided into five classes. They are;

  1. Saraswat Brahmins
  2. Kanyakubja
  3. Maithili Brahmins
  4. Gauda Brahmins
  5. Utkala Brahmins

The Panch Dravida Brahmins are also divided into five classes. They are;

  1. Andhra
  2. Dravida
  3. Karnataka
  4. Maharashtra and Konkan
  5. Gujarat
    Various Brahmin Castes in India
    In different states of India, the Brahmin caste appears with individual names and individual practices. Some of the well known Brahmin castes in India are Anavil Community, Andhra Brahmin Community, Ayyangar Brahmin, Ayyar Brahmin, Chitpavan Brahmins, Deshastha Community, Karhada Community, Kashmiri Brahmin Community, Madhava Community, Mohyal Community, Nagar Brahmins, Rarhi Brahmins, Barendra Brahmins, Dhadich Brahmins, Bhumihar Brahmins and a lot more.

Anavil Community: This community of Brahmins date back to era of Ramayana. They claim that their lineage is linked to the sages of the Yajur Veda. They were mostly concentrated in South Gujarat and have flourished in administrative services.

Andhra Brahmin Community: The origin of the Andhra Brahmins can be traced back to the 2nd Century BC. This erudite community proved to be a lot of help as counsels to the ruling class. Today they are concentrated in Andhra Pradesh. The cultural contribution of Andhra Brahmins has been immense.

Ayyagar Brahmin Community: They are the followers of Ramanuja’s principles. This sage advocated Visistadvaita. This community has also been witness to the Bhakti cult. They are generally quite orthodox about their religion and social set up. They are also considered one of the most talented Brahmin communities.

Ayyar Community: The biggest Brahmin community in South India constitutes of the Ayyars. They are mainly concentrated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They are in love with their age old traditions and customs. Indian literature is indebted to this community for their literary contribution.

Chitpavan Brahmins: This particular community belongs to Maharashtra. Their origin is steeped into legends. Historically it was during the Maratha rule that they came into prominence. They are also popular for their contribution in the nationalist struggle.

Deshastha Brahmins: The region around the Krishna and the Godavari rivers and plateau of the Sahyadri Hills are hailed as the birth land of the Deshastha Brahmins. Today they have settled in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Kashmiri Brahmins: As their name suggests they have originated from the valley of Kashmir. Till date they have successfully stuck to their Vedic Aryan root. India has always had some Kashmiri Brahmin or the other to serve her in the form of poets, scholars, statesmen and diplomats.

Madhava Brahmins: Madhava community is the follower of Lord Vishnu or simply, Vaishnavites. They are settled in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and parts of Maharashtra and are also known as Tuluva Brahmins. They have been influenced greatly by the principles of Madhavacharya and his Dvaita Philosophy.

A Complete and Analytical History of Brahmins

Today is Basant Panchami when Goddess Saraswati is worshipped across India and World and I think this is right time to present my lond research on Origin and expansion of Brahmins to all of you. May Maa Saraswati Bless us all.

Brahmin Mantra:

|| Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavanthu || (May the whole world be happy)

|| Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu || (May all people be happy)

|| Sarva Jeeva Janthu Sukhino Bhavanthu || (May all beings be happy)

“The wisdom of the ancients has been taught by the philosophers of Greece, but also by people called Jews in Syria, and by Brahmins in India.”

-Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador to Gupta Empire of India (now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India), writing around 300 BC.


In the ancient world and even in the modern society people usually form cohesive groups based on their language, culture and geographical location. These groups have a common ancestry and are led by chiefs of the families around which they gathered. Such communities are called tribes1. There are innumerable tribes in this world. The Indian continent is not different from the rest of the world1b as far as tribes and the rivalries between them are concerned.

It seems there are two kinds of tribes in the Indian continent, the tribes and castes2. The tribes are still in the forests and hills and not really part of the modern society. Castes have been living in the villages and cities since ancient times and are civilized. In the Indian Continent, a caste means a modern civilized tribe or clan or group of people that have marital relationship among them. Some castes are further divided into subcastes. Matrimonial relationship among subcastes is not acceptable due to differences in religious and cultural practices. It is important to note that the caste or tribe is blood-related and genetic, and hence hereditary. So, one has to be born into a caste or tribe to belong to that tribe or caste. Again, this is not unique to India. These ancient tribal traditions are slowly disappearing in this modern age3. One among such communities in the Indian continent is the Brahmin caste. For consistency in this article, Brahmins are referred to as a caste.

Brahmin Population4

The census of 1881 enumerated 1,929 castes. Brahmins, Kunbis and Chamars accounted for approximately 10 million each. Of these 1,929 castes, 1,432 (74 per cent) were geographically localized groups and each caste or tribe is unique to a particular place. Only few castes like Brahmins had an all-India presence.

Brahmins are one of many minority groups in India. In 1931, Brahmins were 4.32% of the total population. The so-called Muslim minority in India is approximately 20 to 25 percent of the total population, even after Muslim Pakistan and Muslim Bangladesh separated from India. However, registered Muslim percentage is only ~15%, less than the real percentage of the total population, due to misrepresentation. Brahmins even in Uttar Pradesh, where they are most numerous, constitute just 9 percent. In Tamil Nadu they form less than 3 percent and in Andhra Pradesh they are less than 2 percent.

During the Islamic conquests in India, it was a typical policy to single out the Brahmins for slaughter, after the Hindu warriors had been bled to death on the battlefield. Even the Portuguese in Malabar and Goa followed this policy in the 16th century, as can be deduced from Hindu-Portuguese treaty clauses prohibiting the Portuguese from killing Brahmins.

Geographical Location

Brahmins are Vedik people. The Vedas describe the landscape of northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over and over the Vedas mention a mighty river called the Sarasvati where Brahmin communities flourished, where the Indus Valley civilization flourished and dispersed when the Saraswati river dried up around 1900 BCE. Long before, during the Ramayana period Brahmins migrated to Dandakaranya (Dandaka Forest) in the south with Viswamitra, the author of several hymns in Rigveda including Gayatri mantra, and practiced Vedik religon performing yajnas under the protection of Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Long before Rama went south, Agastya, a prominent Brahmin sage and writer of several hymns of Rigveda, crossed Vindhyas and established Vedik religion in south India. Sage Agastya appeared to Rama when he was despondent at the impending war with Ravana and instructed him in the use of Aditya Hridayam, a hymn praising the Sun God. Brahmins have been migrating to various regions within the Indian Continent since time immemorial and recently to other continents as well.

Meaning of “Brahmin”

The word Brahmin means many things to many people resulting in confusion. One of the reasons for this confusion is Sanskrit language5. Many words in Sanskrit have many meanings6. Depending upon the context one has to take the meaning of the word. The word Brahmana (hereinafter “Brahmin”) means the God, one who knows God, one who has the knowledge of God, one who has the knowledge of Vedas, an intellectual, a priest, a teacher, a professor, a person belonging to Brahmin caste, a superior person, a text related to Vedas, and so on7. Accordingly, priests in a mosque, church, a synagogue, a gurudwara etc. are all Brahmins because they are all , obviously, priests. They are also Brahmins because they are supposed to have the knowledge of God. They are also Brahmins because they are intellectuals. However, none of them are God and at least a couple of them would consider it blesphemous to say so. They may not have the knowledge of the Vedas and they may not belong to the Brahmin caste. And certainly, they are not the texts related to Vedas. To add to this confusion there are Boston Brahmins who are Americans and have nothing to do with the Vedas or vegetarianism. They are not even remotely related to the Indian Continent.

There are hundreds of religions, practices, traditions, castes, tribes etc. dubbed as Hinduism. One among those religions is the Brahminism8 practiced by the Brahmin caste. Brahmins have distinct traditions, culture and religion and follow certain principles and practices. This religion9 may also be called Sanatana (ancient) Dharma or Vedic religion. However, there is a lot of confusion as to the definition of Hinduism10, which encompasses everything indigenous to the Indian Continent, e.g., some groups of Indians like Busddhists, Jains, Sikhs, dalit Christians, Muslims, and people like Iliah Kanche, a Kuruma Christian, confuse Brahminism with Hinduism (Indigenous Religions of Indian Continent). Iliah Kanche declares that he is not a Hindu, because he does not follow any of the principles of Brahmins such as vegetarianism etc. However, Brahminism is only one of the many religions of India that are collectively called Hinduism. Yet, almost all other Indian (Hindu) religions also respect the Vedas because they are essentially the human heritage and the most ancient texts. The Rig Veda was declared by UNESCO as part of the world heritage.

Most of the practicing Brahmins adhere to the principles such as acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation and realization of the truth are diverse; God is one, but has innumerable names and forms to chant and worship due to our varied perceptions, cultures and languages; that a Brahmin works for the welfare of the entire society and so on. Daily practices of Brahmins include sandhyavandana (prayers to Gayatri and Sun God), prayer to ishtadaiva or ilavelpu (personal God), yoga, non-violence, vegetarianism etc. Everything in the daily life of a Brahmin is a ritual. However, special rituals include marriage, ritual conception and consummation of the wedding, rituals of childbirth, naming ceremony, first feeding ceremony, the child’s first tonsure, upanayana (the sacred-thread ceremony – initiation into vedic learning and ritual), ritual baths, cremation rituals, shraaddha, etc. All of these rituals are very important for a practicing Brahmin.

The Vedas are the primary source of knowledge for all Brahmin traditions, both orthodox & heterodox. All religions of Brahmins and all traditions, in one way or other, take inspiration from the Vedas. Traditional Brahmin accepts Vedas as apaurusheyam (not man-made), but revealed truths and of eternal validity or relevance and hence the Vedas are considered Srutis that which have been heard and are the paramount source of Brahmin traditions and is believed to be divine. These Srutis include not only the four Vedas (the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda), but also their respective Brahmanas. Brahmins also give tremendous importance to purity of body and mind and hence attach importance to ritual baths and cleanliness.

Brahmin Sages and Branches (Gotras and Subcastes)11:

In general, gotra denotes all persons who trace descent in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as ‘ apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram’ (IV. 1. 162), which means ‘the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son’s son. When a person says ‘ I am Kashypasa-gotra’ he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. According to the Baudhâyanas’rauta-sûtra Vishvâmitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishtha, Kashyapa and Agastya are 8 sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras. This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known to PâNini. The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called ‘ gotrâvayava ‘.

The gotras are arranged in groups, e. g. there are according to the Âsvalâyana-srautasûtra four subdivisions of the Vasishtha gana, viz. Upamanyu, Parâshara, Kundina and Vasishtha (other than the first three). Each of these four again has numerous sub-sections, each being called gotra. So the arrangement is first into ganas, then into pakshas, then into individual gotras. The first has survived in the Bhrigu and Ângirasa gana. According to Baud, the principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas. The pravara of Upamanyu is Vasishtha, Bharadvasu, Indrapramada; the pravara of the Parâshara gotra is Vasishtha, Shâktya, Pârâsharya; the pravara of the Kundina gotra is Vasishtha, Maitrâvaruna, Kaundinya and the pravara of Vasishthas other than these three is simply Vasishtha. It is therefore that some define pravara as the group of sages that distinguishes the founder (lit. the starter) of one gotra from another.

There are two kinds of pravaras,
1) sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara, and
2) putrparampara. Gotrapravaras can be ekarsheya, dwarsheya, triarsheya, pancharsheya, saptarsheya, and up to 19 rishis. Kashyapasa gotra has at least two distinct pravaras in Andhra Pradesh: one with three sages (triarsheya pravara) and the other with seven sages (saptarsheya pravara). This pravara may be either sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara or putraparampara. When it is sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bridegroom gotras. If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.

Due to the diversity in religious and cultural traditions and practices, and the Vedic schools which they belong to, Brahmins are further divided into various subcastes.

The Beginning of Divisions among Brahmins: sutra Period:
During the sutra period, roughly between 1000 BC to 200 BC, Brahmins became divided into various Sakhas or branches, based on the adoption of different Vedas and different readings and interpretations of Vedas. Sects or schools for different denominations of the same Veda were formed, under the leadership of distinguished teachers among Brahmins. The teachings of these distinguished rishis are called sutras. Every Veda has its own sutras. The sutras that deal with social, moral and legal precepts are called dharma sutras, whereas those sutras that deal with ceremonials are called Srauta sutras and domestic rituals are called gruhya sutras. sutras are generally written in prose or in mixed prose and verse. These sutras are based on divine Vedas and are manmade and hence are called Smritis, meaning “recollected or remembered.”

There are several Brahmin law givers such as Angirasa, Apasthambha, Atri, Brihaspati, Boudhayana, Daksha, Gautama, Harita, Katyayana, Likhita, Manu, Parasara, Samvarta, Sankha, Satatapa, Usanasa, Vasishta, Vishnu, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya and Yama. These twenty-one rishis were the propounders of Dharma Sastras. There is a lot of contradiction among theseDarmasastas, even within one Smriti. These differences in the rules and rituals resulted in the rigid stratification of subcastes among Brahmins. None of these smritis is supreme and universally applicable throughout the Indian Continent. The oldest among these Dharma Sutras are Apasthambha, Baudhayana, Gautama and Vasishta Sutras.

Apasthambha: Apasthambha, a native of Andhra Country, belonged to Krishnayajurveda School. He belonged to fifth century BC. Apasthambha’s teachings are called Apasthambhasutra or Apasthambhasmriti.

Baudhayana: Baudhayana also belonged to Krishnayajurveda School and was an inhabitant of Andhra Country. Baudhayana’s teachings are called Baudhayanasutra or Baudhayanasmriti.

Brihaspati: Brihaspati was probably the first jurist to make a clear distinction between civil and criminal justice. Yajnavalkya referred to Brihaspati. However, Brihaspati is considered to belong to 200-400 AD. Brihaspatismriti has a lot of similarities with Dhammathats of Myanmar (Burma).

Gautama: Gautama was the most ancient sage of all Brahmin lawgivers. He was quoted by Baudhayana and belonged to Samaveda School. Gautama’s teachings are called Gautamasutra or Gautamasmriti.

Harita: Baudhayana and Vasishta in their Dharmasutras quote Harita. Haritasmriti or Haritasutra is an extensive work.

Katyayana: Yajnavalkya mentions Katyayana. Katyayanasmriti is quoted in several works of Viswarupa, Mitramisra etc. Smriti Chandrika cites 600 verses of Katyayanasutras. He may belong to the same period as Narada and Brihaspati.

Manu: Manu is a mythical personality and is the ancestor of the entire humankind. Manu received the code from Brahma, and communicated it to ten sages and requested Bhrigu rishi to repeat it to the other nine. This code of conduct recited by Bhrigu is called Manusmriti. For convenience, the British took Manusmriti as the paramount law of the Indian Continent. Manudharma is not only revered by Brahmins and Hindus, but also by Buddhists in Java, Siam and Myanamar. Manusmriti was composed around 200 BC, around which time a revival of Brahminism took place under the rule Sungas in the North India.

Narada: Sage Narada was probably a native of Nepal around first century AD. Naradasmriti is the first legal code unhampered by the mass of religious and moral teachings. Some authors think that Narada belonged to Gupta period when there was a distinct revival of Brahminism and Sanskrit literature.

Vasishta: Vasishta belonged to 3rd century BC and a native of North India. Vasishta’s teachings are called Vasishtasutra or Vasishtasmriti.

Vishnu: Vishnu belonged to 1st or 2nd century AD. Vishnu’s teachings are called Vishnusutra or Vishnusmriti.

Yajnavalkya: Yajnavalkya belonged to Suklayajurveda School12. He was a native of Mithila City in North Bihar and probably lived anywhere from few centuries before Christ to 200 AD. However, some scholars think he belonged to first or second century AD. Yajnavalkya Dharmasmriti has been subject of numerous commentaries. The most celebrated of all the commentaries of Yajnavlkyasmriti is Mitakshara and is practically the beginning of the Brahmin law and the so-called Hindu law. Passages from Mitakshara have been found practically in every part of the Indian Continent and became an authority. The Yajnavlkyasmriti is concise, more systematic and better arranged than the Manusmriti. From early times, commentators like Viswarupa, Vijnaneswara, Apararka, Sulapani, Mitramisra etc., from every part of India selected the Yajnavalkyasmriti as the basis of their commentaries. Passages from Yajnavalkyasmiriti appeared in Panchatantra

Other important Brahmins who gave smritis/sutras/laws are: Angirasa, Atri, Daksha, Devala, Laugakshi, Prajapati, Pitamaha, Pulatsya, Yama, Vyasa, Samvarta and Satatapa. Prominent smriti writers of later age include, Devanabhatta or Devanandabhatta of Madras province, who belonged to ~1200 AD and wrote Smritichandrika, and Madhavacharya or Vidyaranya, who was the Prime Minister of Vijayanagara dynasty and pontiff for some time of the celebrated mutth at Sringeri in Mysore province. He wrote Parasaramadhaviya, which is a commentary on Parasarasmriti.

Major Brahmin Castes: Major Brahmin castes in the Indian Continent include Chitpavana Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins, Deshastha Brahmins, Dhima Brahmins, Gouda Saraswat Brahmins, Havyaka Brahmins, Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins, Iyers, Kandavara Brahmins, Karade Brahmins, Karhada Brahmins, Kayastha Brahmins, Khandelwal Brahmins, Kota Brahmins, Konkanastha Brahmins, Koteshwara Brahmins, Nagar Brahmins, Namboothiri Brahmins, Niyogi Brahmins, Padia Brahmins, Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Saklapuri Brahmins,Saryupareen Brahmins, Sanketi Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins, Shivalli Brahmins, Smarta Brahmins, Sthanika Brahmins, Thenkalai Iyengars, Tuluva Brahmins, Vadagalai Iyengars, Vaidiki Brahmins and Vaishnava Brahmins.

In addition to the above major castes of Brahmins, there are several Brahmin subcastes. The Rev. M.A. Sherring4 had, in the 1860s, compiled some 2,000 of them in the second volume of his Hindu Tribes and Castes. He considered the list incomplete. The Brahmin subcastes are grouped under various gotras13 that are patrilineal groups.

According to some Shashtras and popular belief as mentioned in “Hindu Castes and Sects” (by Jogendranath Battacharya), the Brahmins in the Indian Continent are divided into two major groups: Panch Gaur and Panch Dravida. Panch Gaur (the five classes of Northern India) group constitutes: 1) Saraswata, 2) Kanyakubja, 3) Gaudra, 4) Utkala, and 5) Maithila. In addition, for the purpose of giving an account of Northern Brahmins each of the provinces must be considered separately, such as, North Western Provinces, Gandhar, Punjab, Kashmir, Sindh, Rajputana, Kurukshetra, Oudh, Cetral India, Trihoot, South Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, Assam etc. Panch Dravida (the five classes of Southern India) group constitutes: 1) Andhra, 2) Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), 3) Karnataka, 4) Maharashtra, 5) Gujarat.

According to one legend (according to Sherring), all the chief Brahmin gotras are descended from the Saptarishis (seven sages). Sherring says the Vatsa, Bida, Arshtikhena, Yaska, Mitryu, Shaunak and Bainya gotras claim descent from sage Bhrigu; the gotras of Gautam, Bharadwaj and Kewal-Angiras from sage Angirah; the Atre, Badbhutak, Garishtira and Mudhgala from sage Atri; the Kaushika, Lohit, Raukshak, Kamkayana, Aja, Katab, Dhananjya, Agamarkhan, Puran and Indrakaushika from sage Viswamitra; the Nidruba, Kasyap, Sandila, Rebha and Langakshi from sage Kasyap; the Vashisht, Kundin, Upamanyu, Parashara and Jatukaraniya from sage Vashisht; and the Idhamabahar, Somabahar, Sambhabahar and Yagyabhar from sage Agastya. Other gotras are said to have been derived from these gotras.

Sherring has also listed some chief gotras according to the Veda each one observes. Thus the Bhargaus, Sankritas, Gargs (Chandras), Bhrigus and Saunaks follow the Rig. The Kasyaps, Kaasyaps, Vatsas, Sandilas and Dhananjays follow the Sama. The Bharadwajs, Bhaaradwajs, Angirahs, Gautams and Upamanyus observe the Yajur; and the Kaushikas, Gritakaushikas, Mudhgalas, Galawas and Vashishts follow the Atharva. All others follow the Yajur. The Brahmin subcastes are broadly categorized into two great geographical divisions-the north and the south. The dividing line is the Narmada River. The gaur (white) subcastes, according to Sherring, inhabit the region north of the Narmada and the draviDa subcastes, the south. The chief gaur subcastes are Kanakubja, Saraswat, Gaur, Maithila and Utkala and the chief draviDa subcastes are Maharashtra, Tailanga, Dravida, Karnata and Gurjar. Then there are supplementary subcastes like Mathur (from Mathura), Magadh, Malwa, Kurmachali, Naipali (from Nepal), Kashmiri, Sapt-Shati, Shenevi, Palashe, Sengardaro, Sankahar, Thatiya, Ahwasi (Haiwasi), Byas, Bilwar, Lrikhishwar, Agachi, Bagaria (Parchuniya), Unwariya, Golapurab, Lyariya, Nade, Myale, Dasadwipi, Dehra-dun, the names largely indicating their habitat. Today, many Brahmins don’t know and don’t care about these distinctions, which are now of historical importance only. Intermarriages are becoming very common among these groups, nowadays. As a matter of fact, Brahmins have been marrying non-Brahmins also.

Various Brahmin Communities15

(Note: The following list does not represent all the Brahmin castes of the Indian Continent)

1) Andhra Brahmins

   i) Niyogi Brahmins        

    ii) Vaidiki Brahmins

2) Chitpavana Brahmins

3) Daivajna Brahmins

4) Deshastha Brahmins

5) Dhima Brahmins

6) Gaur Brahmins

7) Gouda SaraswatBrahmins

8) Havyaka Brahmins

9) Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins: The Hoysala Karnatakas are Smarta Brahmins living in the State of Karnataka in the Indian Union. Many eminent scholars, musicians, philosophers, generals and religious pontiffs belong to this community. (Read more here)

10) Iyers

11) Kandavara Brahmins

12) Karade Brahmins

13) Karhada Brahmins

14) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins

15) Kayastha Brahmins

16) Khandelwal Brahmins

17) Konkanastha Brahmins

18) Kota Brahmins

19) Koteshwara Brahmins

20) Nagar Brahmins

21) Namboothiri Brahmins

22) Padia Brahmins

23) Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins

24) Saklapuri Brahmins

25) Saryupareen Brahmins

26)Sanketi Brahmins

27) Saraswat Brahmins

   a) The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins

   b) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins or Kashmiri Pandits

   c) Rajapur/Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmins

   d) Haryana Saraswat Brahmins

28) Shivalli Brahmins

29) Smarta Brahmins

30) Sthanika Brahmins

31) Tuluva Brahmins

32)Vaishnava Brahmins

Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh16

Brahmins have been migrating from time immemorial. The Brahmin families that migrated made an impact peacefully by example rather than converting people by any means.

The Brahmin migration to the South features in the legends of sage Agastya. The Vindhya mountain range in central India continued to grow higher showing its might and obstructed cloud movement causing draught. Sage Agastya decided to solve the problem and traveled south. The Vindhya mountain bowed to Agastya and the sage requested Vindhya to stay prostrated until he returns. Vindhya complied with this request and sage Agastya never returned to north.

The earliest Brahmins to arrive in Andhra were most probably sage Viswamitra’s students and progeny around 1200 BC. South Indian kings showed respect and patronage for Brahmins and Brahminism since ancient times, e.g., Satavahana dynasty that ruled for five centuries and extended over Andhra and central India, founded by Srimukha (221-198 BC), supported Brahminism and Vedic tradition.16a One of the most important features of Satavahana dynasty was granting land to Brahmins.16b Sangam era of Chera, Chola and Pandya kings in Deep South also used to grant lands to Brahmins.16c Similarly there have been Brahmin migrations back and forth that continue even today. Due to these waves of Brahmin migrations, perhaps, we see today various sub-castes and traditions among Brahmins.

Most of the Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh belong to smaarta Brahmin group, i.e., the followers of smritis and followers of Adi Sankaracharya. The smaarta Brahmins follow Apastambasmriti or Apastambasutra (not Manusmriti). Apasthamba (~600 BC) was one of the earliest lawmakers of south India who lived on the banks of River Godavari. Boudhayana, Parasara, Yajnvalkya sutras and other laws were also important in the past, e.g., in the courts of Srikrishnadevaraya.16d Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins (see below) follow Yajnavalkya sutras and Kanva sutras. The smaarta Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh can be grouped into two major divisions formed about a thousand to about 700 years ago (most probably during Kakatiya rule), Niyogi and Vaidiki. However, in addition to smaarta Brahmins, there are other Brahmin groups such as Sri Vaishnavas, Madhavas and Aradhyas. I have grouped them in Vaidiki Brahmin group below for convenience only. Today, many Brahmins don’t know and don’t care about these distinctions. Intermarriages have been very common among theses groups. As a matter of fact, Brahmins have been marrying non-Brahmins also. The following is only of historical importance.

i) Niyogi Brahmins : Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who took up various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood. Niyogi Brahmins depend and emphasize on modern education. They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories. Many of them were village accountants/clerks, karanams (Andhra) or patwaris (Telangana), until recently. The Niyogis are considered to be eligible for priestly service. But they will never either accept a religious gift or partake of Sraaddha food (food given to Brahmins duiring the death related rituals). According to Jogendranath Bhattacharya16e, Niyogi name is derived from Yoga, which means religious contemplation or meditation, as opposed to Yaga, which means religious sacrifice. Niyogin in Sanskrit also means “employed” or “appointed” and accordingly, it is probable that they are so-called because they accept secular employment.

They were very rich and influential. Legendary Rayamantri belongs to this group. Niyogi Brahmins include eminent personalities like Veeresalingam Kandukuri, Radhakrishnan Sarvepalli, Venkatgiri Varahagiri, KL Rao, Prakasam Tanguturi, Venkatanarasimharao Pamulaparti (PV), General K. V. Krishnarao etc. PV was the only Brahmin Chief Minister (1971-72) of Andhra Pradesh and also the only Telugu Brahmin Prime Minister (1991-1996) from South India who ruled the modern Indian Union. Over the past millennium the Niyogi Brahmins are divided further into various groups:

a) Pradhamasakha (First Branch) Niyogi Brahmins

b) Aruvela Niyogi

c) Nandavarika Niyogi

d) Karanakamma Niyogi

e) Velanati Niyogi

f) Telaganya Niyogi

g) Dravida Niyogi

h) Karanalu

i) Sristikaranalu or Sistukaranalu or Sistakaranalu.

j) Kasalanati Niyogi

k) Pakanati Niyogi.

a) Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins: This caste belongs to Sukla (white) Yajurveda School12, while majority of Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh belong to krishna (black) Yajurveda School. In Maharashtra also there is a group of Brahmins called Pradhamasakha Brahmins. The Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins16f are further divided into branches such as Vajasaneyulu, Saivulu, Yajnavalkyulu and Kanvulu.

b) Aruvela Niyogi: Aruvela Niyogi group is the largest Niyogi group. They belong to Krishna Yajurveda School. According to some, the word “Aruvela” is derived from 6000 (Aruvelu) villages in velanadu area of Andhra Pradesh. Some believe that Arvelanadu is an alternate name for Velandu and hence the Niyogi Brahmins of that region are Arvela Niyogis. Aruvela Nioyogi Brahmins are political, worldly-wise, and business minded. They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories, and clerks and accountants (Karanalu). Pamulaparti family belongs to Aruvela Niyogi Brahmins.

c) Nandavarika Niyogi

d)  Karanakamma Niyogi

e)  Velanati Niyogi

f)  Telaganya Niyogi

g)  Dravida Niyogi

h)  Karanalu

i)  Sristikaranalu or Sistukaranalu or Sistakaranalu: These are teachers, officials, village accountants (karanam). They are mostly located in Ganjam and Visakha districts. Famous poet Krishnamurthy Sistu belongs to this group of Brahmins.

j) Kasalanati Niyogi

k) Pakanati Niyogi  

ii) Vaidikulu (Vaidiki Brahmins): Vaidiki Brahmins are those Brahmins who practice mainly religious vocation performing various religious activities, in addition to other mainstream secular vocations like agriculture, cooking, teaching, clerical, management, administration, architecture, science etc. They perform various religious activities including performing rituals and prayers to please Gods, planets and stars as priests for both Brahmins and non-Brahmins, at homes and in temples. However, they are not the priests for many Hindu temples in which animal sacrifices are common. The priests in such Hindu temples are non-Brahmins. Vaidikis also perform rituals for every occasion in life such as birth, giving solid food to the infant for the first time (annapraasanamu), initiation into education (upanyanamu), female puberty, marriage, consummation of marriage, several stages of pregnancy, death, carrying the dead bodies, cremating the dead, etc. Many of these rituals are very important and limited to Brahmins, except a few ceremonies like marriage. They also take up even begging as ascetics. This ascetic life of Brahmins was the inspiration for the Buddhist ascetics.

The majority of Vaidikulu belongs to krishna Yajurveda School. However, there are Rigvedis, Samavedis etc. also. Some Brahmins had proficiency in several Vedas, e.g., Dvivedi is one who has proficiency in 2 Vedas, Trivedi in 3 vedas and Chaturvedi in 4 vedas and are known by those titles as such. However, these titles became family names, even though the family members may not know any Veda at all today. While Niyogis embraced western education, Vaidikulu had shunned Western education and as a consequence many Vaidikulu are poor and not well educated in Western education, contrary to the notion that Brahmins are rich and well educated.

According to Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji, the Brahmins who perform priestly duties and other religious activities should follow certain rules:

The Brahmin has to wake up at four in the morning and bathe in cold water, rain or shine, warm or cold. Then, without a break, he has to perform one rite after another: sandhyavandana, Brahmayajna, aupasana, puja, vaisvadeva and one of the 21 sacrifices. If you sit before sacrificial fire for four days you will realise how difficult it is with all the heat and smoke. How many are the vows and the fasts the Brahmin has to keep and how many are the ritual baths….

…. Other castes do not have to go through such hardships. A Brahmin cannot eat “cold rice”in the morning like a peasant – he has no “right” to it. The dharmasastras are not created for his convenience or benefit, nor to ensure that he has a comfortable life. He would not have otherwise imposed on himself the performance of so many rites and a life of such rigorous discipline. When he has his daytime meal it will be 1 or 2. (On the day of a sraddha it will be three or four). This is the time the peasant will have his rest after his meal under a tree out in the field where he works. And the Brahmin’s meal, mind you, is as simple as the peasant’s. There is no difference between the humble dwelling of the peasant and that of the Brahmin. Both alike wear cotton. The peasant may save money for the future but not the Brahmin. He has no right either to borrow money or to live in style. …

In the “Yaksa-prasna” of the Mahabharata the simple life of Brahmin is referred to:

pancame’ hani saste va sakam pacati svegrhe

Anrni ca’ pravasi ca sa varicara modate

If daytime is divided into eight parts, the Brahmin may have his food only in the fifth or sixth part after performing all his rites. Before that he has neither any breakfast nor any snacks. And what does he eat? Not any rich food, no sweets like almonds crushed in sweetened milk. “Sakam pacati” – the Brahmin eats leafy vegetables growing on the banks of rivers, such areas being no one’s property. Why is he asked to live by the river side? It is for his frequent baths and for the leafy vegetables growing free there and for which he does not have to beg. He should not borrow money: that is the meaning of the word “anrni”, because if he developed the habit of borrowing he would be tempted to lead a life of luxury. Poverty and non-acquisitiveness (aparigraha) are his ideals. A Brahmin ought not to keep even a blade of grass in excess of his needs. …

The Brahmin must be conversant with the fourteen branches of the Vedic lore. He must be proficient even in Gandharva-veda or music and must be acquainted with agricultural science, construction of houses, etc. At the same time he must give instructions in these subjects to pupils from the appropriate castes. His own vocation is the study of the Vedas and he must have no other source of income. …

If the Brahmin is asked, “Do you know to wield a knife? ” he must be able to answer, “Yes, I know”. If he is asked, “Do you know to draw and paint” again he must (be able to) say, “Yes”. But he cannot wield a knife or become an artist to earn his livelihood. All he can do is to learn these arts and teach others the same according to their caste. He is permitted to receive a daksina to maintain himself and he must be contented with it however small the sum may be. The Brahmin’s specialty is his true vocation is Vedic learning.

… The goal of Vedic works is the happiness of all mankind, indeed the happiness of all the worlds (“Lokah samastah sukino bhavanthu”). The sound of the Vedas creates universal well-being, so too Vedic sacrifices. … Brahmins would be committing a sin if they gave up Vedic rituals and earned money by doing other types of work.However, it is important to realize that the successive secular governments in the Indian Union are determined to destroy the Hindu religions, in favor of non-Hindu religions. The modern Indian democracy tends to support Abrahamic religions to appease the rich and powerful global proselytizing religions. The ancient tradition of rulers protecting Brahmins is an obsolete tradition. Accordingly, it is upon the individual citizens to step up to help and protect Brahmins, temples and their traditions. As the times have changed, even Vaidika Brahmins should earn money to protect the Dharma, despite the traditional ban on earning money. That was one of the main reasons for the existence of Niyogi Brahmins. However, many Brahmins in India are Naxalites, communists and atheists. Thus, it is incumbent on all Brahmins, who believe in their culture, to rise to the challenge of protecting the Vedik culture.

There are many subcastes in Vaidiki Brahmins as well:

l) Vaishnava

m) Draavidulu

n) Madhvulu

o) Velanati Vaidikulu

p) Telaganyulu or Telaganadu Vaidikis

q) Venginati Vaidikulu

r) Kasalnati Vaidikulu

s) Muraknati Vaidikulu

u) Adisaivulu

v) Saivulu

l) Vaishnava: Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Brahmanulu: Among the Vaishnavities, the strict vegetarians and highly educated people also are given the approximate status of brahmins in Andhra Pradesh. They adhere to either the medieval Tenkalai or Vadakalai and Agaama scriptures. One section follows Vaikhanasa scriptures and other the Pancharaatra, dealing mainly with temple ritual. They run large temple establishments very efficiently. They rose to prominence during Vijayanagar times. They are followers of panchasanskara, ekayanayajussakha and katyayanasutra. These Vaishnavite Brahmins are spread mainly in Karnataka and Andhra, and to some extent in Tamilnadu also. Vaikhanasa subcaste belongs to this group. The great Vaishnavite reformers like Ramanujacharya, Ramananda (north India), Madhva (all over south India), Vallabhacharya (found among velanadu, gujarat, rajasthan and UP), Nimbaarka, etc. Not all the followers of these Vaishnavite reformers are Brahmins. Some of these Vaishnavites include Acharis, Iyengars and velanadu vaideekulu. These Vaishnavas are also known as Andhra Vaishnava.

They rely on the doctrines laid down in the medieval scriptures (agamas). Many of the famous temple establishments like Tirupati and Ahobilam are run per vaishnavite agamic canons. The big hearted Raamanuja fought against caste distinctions and gathered under his doctrine, people from all walks of life and caste and religion and occupation and said henceforth they shall be known as one community. Thus he created the Iyengar community, and told them to always work for reform of society. Some of the earlier vaishnava and bhagaavata adherents also merged into the iyengars. Later there was a large immigration of Ramaanandi vaishnavas from north India and another large migration from Gujarat. While they too merged, slight differences arose.

The great Raamanuja specifically included among his followers sc’s, tribals, immigrant foreign soldiers, arabs and turks, destitutes women, jains, etc. Raamanuja’s efforts are glossed over by modern pseudo-secular writers. Ramanuja and his later disciples running the movement, certainly saw to it that there was no more exclusivism of caste groups inside the community. All the same it appears they made sure that the brightest were selected as iyengars, evangelizers of vaishnavism, without any regard to their former caste or other origins. It is however true, after some centuries this reformist movement became just another caste, not quite sure about its place in the hierarchy.The immense and lasting influence of Raamanuja is probably not realised by many Indians. Here are some direct and indirect descendants of his thought: —the entire actual live vaishnava tradition of today, and including offshoots and modifications and the movements heavily influenced like those of Raamananda Kabir Ravidas Nanak Tulsidas Vallabhacharya Nimbaarka Madhvacharya Raghavendra Chaitanya Ramdas. …even recent reformers like Phule and isckon and others

One characteristic method used by the gurus was community dinners, where everybody sat together without distinction. This went a long way towards reduction of old discriminations. As a consequence there are expert cooks who easily handle very large scale cooking among them. Old tribal cult spots and medieval pilgrimage centers like the Varaaha shrine at Tirupati were modernised, along with the new scriptures and new rituals invented by Ramanujacharya to foster a cooperative spirit. He also kept in mind the weaning away of simple tribal people from blood sacrifices. It seems many jains also merged with vaishnavites, just like in an earlier era buddhists shifted to various sects of saivism. His followers also took up the spread of education, whose effect which lasts to this day. The vaishnavite communities in Andhra Pradesh have a marked bent towards education, literature and performing arts like music and dance.

The Madhvaas date from the recent reform activities of Madhvacharya (somewhere in the 12th century) also of the vaishnava sampradaya , and they were prominent in the last days of Vijayanagar (1500’s) . A famous guru of the line was Raghavendraswami. (They are found all over karnataka, south Maharashtra, Tamilnadu as well as Andhra). Their roots include a strong marathi one, and a north Indian connection as well.

m) Draavidulu: Draavids, who seem to be north Indian Brahmins who arrived in coastal Andhra. Dravidas are further divided into subcastes like Aaraamadravidulu, Perurudravidulu, Ryalidravidulu, Divili Brahmins, Pudurudravidulu, Tummagunta Brahmins etc based on the locations they settled. Some of these Dravida Brahmins belong to Rigveda school and some belong to Krishnayajurveda school. The Telangana Vaidiki Brahmin caste to which Goutamiputra Satakarni beloged to is a Dravida Brahmin caste (?). This group belongs to Rigveda school.

) Madhvulu: Madhvas are the followers of Sri Madhvacharya, (a k. a. srimad Anandateertha), the 13th century saint-philosopher of Karnataka, India They were prominent in the last days of Vijayanagar (1500’s). Raghavendraswami was a famous guru of this caste. They are found all over Karnataka, south Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Andhra and have very strong roots in Maharashtra and the north.

o) Velanati Vaidikulu16e: The Velnadus are most numerous class of Vaidiki Brahmins. Vallabhachari, who in the 15th century attained great success as prophet, and whose descendants are worshipped almost as gods still Rajputana, Gujarat and Maharashtra was a member of this caste. The Velnadus are most numerous in the Godavari and Krishna districts. Colonies of this caste are found in the erstwhile Mysore State (Karnataka), except Kadur.

p) Telaganyulu or Telaganadu Vaidikis: The Telaganya Vaidikis are as numerous as the Velnadus and found mostly in Telangana, chiefly in the Northeaster part of erstwhile Hyderabad Kingdom.

q) Venginati Vaidikulu: The Venginadus are chiefly found in the districts of Godavari and Vizianagaram, formerly known as the Vengi Country.

r) Kaasalnati Vaidikulu: The Kasalanadu derive their name from Kosala, the ancient name of Oude, from where they migrated to Kalinga Country, where they are found now.

s) Muraknati Vaidikulu: Murakanati Vaidikis are found mostly in the country sounth of the River Krishna. They are numerous in Karnataka.

t) Gouda Brahmins are teachers and priests. They belong to Sukla Yajurveda and Kanva madhyandina sakha and have the family names such as Joshi, Ojjhulu etc.

u) Adisaivulu: They belong to Krishna Yajurveda school. These Saiva Brahmins are further devided into several castes such as Kanchisaivulu, Antarvedisaivulu, Balajipetasaivulu, Tiruvalngadusivulu, Sakteya Brahmins etc.

v) Saivulu: The Saivite Brahmins follow the Saiva aagamas. However, they study Vedas also and belong to Krishna Yajurveda school. One of the sects of these saivite Brahmins is called Aradhyas, related to Panditaradhyas of Sivakaviyugamu (Era of Saiva poets) of 12th century. They generally run Saiva and Shakti shrines, often very large, and famous ones like Kalesvaram, Vemulavada, Srisailam, Kalahasti, etc. They have a link to Kashmir Saivism, Varanasi and Jyotirlinga shrines all over India like Kedarnath. The rituals they follow are different from the smaartas. Aradhyas are in fact semiconverted Lingayats. They following Basava and attach great importance to Linga worship. However, they adhere to Brahminism, recite Gayatri prayers and marry Smaarta Brahmins. Although Lingayat Saiva religion attempted to dismatle the tribal differences, the Lingayats adhere to their original castes naturally. Thus Aradhyas remain designated to be Brahmins, just like other castes in Lingayat religion (followers of Basava) today, e.g., various Jangamas.2) Chitpavana Brahmins: Konkanastha Brahmins17

Chitpavan brahmins are basically from Konkan, the coastal belt of western Maharashtra. Since they are from Konkan they are known as Konkanastha. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt as his Peshwa or Prime Minister. It was the first time a person from Konkan appointed to an important post in Deccan. Eventually, many people from Konkan migrated to join the service of Marattha kingdom. Chitpavan Brahmin folks are easily recognised by the certain characteristics suc as fair skin, light coloured eyes (blue, green or grey), sharp nose, distinct jawline, and some have light or blonde hair.

3) Daivajna Brahmins

4) Deshastha Brahmins

5) Dhima Brahmins

The Brahmins of Haryana14 are divided into four main groups: Gaurs, Saraswats, Khandelwals and Dhima. The Khandelwals and Dhima came into this region after Saraswats and Gaurs, most probably from neighboring Rajasthan. The Brahmins themselves had a ranking system between them with the Gaurs being on the top followed by the Saraswats, the Khandelwals and the Dhima. The Gaurs used to consider themselves to be superior to the other Brahmins and neither ate, drank nor intermarried with them.

6) Gaur & Sharma Brahmins

The Gaurs of Haryana claim that they come to Haryana originally from Bengal. It is believed they came as Purohitas along with various immigrant farming tribes. The Brahmins themselves had a ranking system between them with the Gaurs being on the top followed by the Saraswats, the Khandelwals and the Dhima. The Gaurs used to consider themselves to be superior to the other Brahmins and neither ate, drank nor intermarried with them.

Sharma is a surname found in India’s Western Uttar Pradesh,Haryana,Himanchal Pradesh ,Some Parts of Rajasthan and Nepal as a surname or given name among Brahmins. [1] As a noun in Sanskrit, Sharma has various positive connotations, such as “bliss”, “happiness”, “shelter”, “laid back” and “protection.”

The name Sharma is written as शर्मा in Hindi.[2] An alternative English spelling of the name used in the city of Varanasi and the Indian states of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Kerala is “Sarma”.[3] Some Assamese people also use Sarmah.[3]

According to the Dictionary of American Family Names,[1] the name Sharma is listed as “Indian: Hindu (Brahman) name from Sanskrit šarma ‘joy’, ‘shelter’.” Other theories suggest that origin of the name Sharma lies in the ancient Sanskrit word “Sharman” which means teacher or master.

According to Indian sociologist, S. Devadas Pillai,[4] “The suffix Sharma indicates that the chanter is a Brahman…”

7) Gouda Saraswat Brahmins

8) The Havyakas18

It is believed that the Kadamba kingdom had many Kshatriyas and Havyakas were brought in to perform the royal rituals and the related functions of the empirical government. Thus the first few families were settled in Banavasi, the beautiful capital of the Kadambas and the place so adored by Pampa. Since the very purpose of bringing these Brahmin families was to perform Havana (Havya) and Homa (Gavya), they were aptly named as Havyaga or Haveega, which has transcended to the present day “Havika” or “Havyaka.” This functionality of naming even extended to the specific role played by families in the whole gamut of rituals. Thus originated the seven family names given by Raja Mayooravarma. The Havyakas are the only Brahmins who derive their surnames from the job they perform rather than by their origin (e.g., Kota, Shivalli) or by the preacher (e.g., Madhva) or by God worship (e.g., Shivite, Vaishnavite). Thus came the names “Hegade (Hegde)” for the head of the village who sponsors the ritualistic activities, “Dixit” for one who is the head of the Yajna, “Bhat”, who actually performs the rituals and so on.

9) Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins

10) Iyer19: The earliest group of Brahmins to come to Tamil Nadu is largely known as Gurukuls. They have been here from very ancient times and were primarily invited to be temple priests in the early Chola period. Many of them were great Vedic scholars. They conducted the coronation of the kings and acted as their spiritual advisors and Gurus. They also acted as the Gurus to the villages and the towns where the temples were located. They advised people on various matters including fixing of auspicious time for commencing important ventures. Many of them were the great exponents of Vedic Astrology and Ayurvedic Medicine. They are supposed to be followers of Baudhyana sutra and are divided as ‘Kanchipuram’, ‘Tiruvalangadu’ and ‘Thirukazhakundram’ Gurukuls. It is interesting that all the three are the names of ancient towns and temples around Kanchipuram. This clearly indicates that the earliest migration was to Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is one of the two most ancient cities of India, the other being Varanasi (Kashi). The linkage between the Varanasi (Kashi) and Kanchi has existed from earliest times and has been facilitating the migration of priests between the North and the South. It is possible that Kanchipuram, Tiruvangadu and Tirukalikundram were the first destinations for the Gurukuls who arrived. They stayed and worked there till they were redeployed to other interior temples and towns.

11) Kandavara Brahmins

12) Karade Brahmins

13) Karhada Brahmins

14) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins

15) Kayastha Brahmins

16) Khandelwal Brahmins

The Brahmins of Haryana14 are divided into four main groups: Gaurs, Saraswats, Khandelwals and Dhima. The Khandelwals came into this region after Saraswats and Gaurs, most probably from neighboring Rajasthan.

17) Konkanastha Brahmins

18) Kota Brahmins

19) Koteshwara Brahmins

20) Nagar Brahmins

21) Namboothiri Brahmins

22) Padia Brahmins

23) Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins

24) Saklapuri Brahmins

25) Saryupareen Brahmins

When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after killing Mahapandit Ravan and bringing back his love consort Sita, as per custom and Ritual he had to wash away ‘The Pap’ of killing a brahmin. For that he invited all brahmins of Kosla and offered them 56 bhog and Daan.

There were handful of Brahmins who requested Lord Rama that they will accept his offerings after taking a dip in River Saryu and walked away towards river. Actually after taking a dip in Saryu they crossed the river and did not return to accept Lord Rama’s offering. Since they crossed River Saryu in order to avoid accepting Daan and settled across eastern side of Saryu,they were called Saryupareen. One of the noblest Brahmins who dared to differ Lord himself as he had killed a Brahmin by not accepting “Daan”. Saryupareen Brahmin’s Vedda is Krishna Yajurveda.

26)Sanketi Brahmins

27) Saraswat Brahmins

   a) The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins20

The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins represent a relatively small group of Brahmins who firmly established their identity as a unified group in the year 1708. The history of migration of their ancestors from Kashmir to a variety of places all over the country of India serves to demonstrate how their strong religious and cultural beliefs developed into the present century. Today, members of this group are in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu.

b) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins or Kashmiri Pandits21

According to accepted traditions in the rest of the country, Kashmiri Brahmins are believed to be a branch of the Saraswat Brahmins who were so called because they were believed to have settled along the course of an ancient river in the North-West Indian Continet (Indo-Pak region) called Saraswati. When this river dried up, these Brahmins migrated. A large section of this uprooted community was settled in the Western Konkan coast of the present state of Maharashtra. Others moved further North into the Valley of Kashmir. The first Prime Minister of the Indian Union, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, belongs to the Pandit community. The Nehru dynasty ruled the Union for almost half a century. Yet, Kashmiri Pandits are subjected to a genocide, which under UN resolution, means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (Article 2 of Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the U.N. General Assembly on 9 December 1948. Entry into force: 12 January 1951. U.N.T.S. No. 1021, vol. 78 (1951), p. 277)
Genocide in Kashmir22

400,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99% of the total population of Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley, were forcibly pushed out of the Valley by Muslim terrorists, trained in Pakistan, since the end of 1989. They have been forced to live the life of exiles in their own country, outside their homeland, by unleashing a systematic campaign of terror, murder, loot and arson.
Genocide of Kashmiri Pandits has reached its climax with Muslim terrorism succeeding in ‘CLEANSING’ the valley of this ancient ethno-religious community.
With the completion of 11th year of their forced exile, this peace loving, culturally rich community with a history of more than 5000 years, is fighting a grim battle to save itself from becoming extinct as a distinct race and culture.
Main Refugee Camp Sites in Jammu: Muthi Camp, Transport Nagar, Purkhoo Camp, Stadium Camp, Jhiri Camp, Nagrota Camp, Mishriwala Camp, and Battalbalian Camp, Udhampur

   Main Camp Sites in Delhi:  Nandnagri, Sultanpuri, Kailash Colony, Maviya Nagar, South Extension, Palika Dham, Lajpat Nagar, Aliganj, Bapu Dham, Amar Colony, Mangol Puri, Patel Nagar, Sultanpuri, Moti Nagar and Begampura. c) Rajapur/Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmanas22

Rajapur/Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmanas,as they are known, belong to the “Pancha (five) Gauda Brahmana” groups or “Gaudadi Panchakas”. The Saraswats of all subsects of today are said to have originated from the Saraswath region, from the banks of river Saraswati. In Rigveda, references to river Saraswati has been frequently made in the shlokas praising the river as the most mighty river and describe her as “limitless, undeviating, shining and swift moving”. But the Saraswati vanished from the region.

d) Haryana Saraswat Brahmins

The Saraswats of Haryana are original settlers of this region, taking their name from the Saraswati river.

28) Shivalli Brahmins

29) Smarta Brahmins

30) Sthanika Brahmins

31) Tuluva Brahmins23: The ancient Tulu nadu extended from Gokarna in the north, all along coastal Karnataka up to Kasargod in the south. This included both coastal Uttara Kannada district as well as all of Dakshina Kannada district. Over many centuries the principal language of Tulu nadu was Tulu. Today Tulu is spoken only south of River Kalyanpur in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. This is the heartland of Tulu nadu today. While Udupi is the religious center of Tulu nadu, Mangalore is the commercial hub. Innumerable smaller towns and villages comprise of a green landscape within the mountainous range of the Western Ghats as well as along the coastal Karnataka with access to Arabian Sea. Here Tulu language, one of the five main Dravidian languages of the South, with its extinct script is spoken. For historical purposes the regions settled by Brahmins are three in number. Haige or Haive (Uttara Kannada), Taulava (Dakshina Kannada) and Kerala.

32)Vaishnava Brahmins

1Tribe (Lat., tribus: the tripartite division of Romans into Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans), a social group bound by common ancestry and ties of consanguinity and affinity; a common language and territory; and characterized by a political and economic organization intermediate between small, family-based bands, and larger chiefdoms. Some anthropologists believe that tribes developed when more stable and increased economic productivity, brought on by the domestication of plants and animals, allowed more people to live together in a smaller area. A tribe may consist of several villages, which may be crosscut by clans, age grade associations, and secret societies; each of these crosscutting institutions may, at different times and in different ways, perform economic, political, legal, and religious functions. Tribes are popularly believed to be close-knit and parochial, but some anthropologists now argue that they are flexibly defined communities of convenience.1b Japan: Our Japanese friend tells that there are 4 castes (sections) in Japanese society. It is called Shi – Nou – Kou – Chou system.

  1. Byshi (Samurai) = Kings and Soldiers
  2. Noumin = Farmers etc. (large section)
  3. Kou = Artisans and Workers
  4. Choumin = Merchants

A Japanese Male can never change his caste. But, a woman can climb up by marrying a man of upper caste. But, she can be only a 2nd wife of upper caste. May be her children are considered as upper caste, but some difference in minds will be there.

Those who work in Temples are not included in any of these. They are called Bouzu. The bouzus can not marry. They adopt people from other castes (not Samurai in general) and train as Bouzus.

There are UNTOUCHABLES, called Era Hina. This community is called BARAKU. These people are not considered as HUMAN BEINGS. They live far from the society. It seems about, nearly, 150-200 years back, American army captain- Pierre went to Japan. At that time, Japan was closed to outside world by the Emperor for the fear that others spoil their society. But, when American captain went there, the Emperor was not given any choice. He had to obey or fight. So, American army entered and they forced the Emperor to make some system like in UK. King, his family, some Lords as higher section, rest of the society as Lower section. This existed till 2nd world war after which due to American pressure again, the present system came into existence. Source: A friend from Japan.

. 2According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a tribe is a social group consisting of people of the same race who have the same beliefs, customs, language etc. and usually live in one particular area ruled by a chief. Illustrated Oxford Dictionary defines a tribe as a group of (especially primitive) families or communities, linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, and usually having a common culture and dialect, and a recognized leader. Webster’s dictionary defines a tribe as a system of social organization comprising several local village bands, districts, lineages, or other groups and sharing a common ancestry, culture, language, and name. It is also a group of persons sharing a common occupation, interest, or habit. However, a tribe means, in general, a group having marital social relationship within the group and won’t allow any matrimonial relationship outside the tribe, e.g. Marriage between a Yeruka and a Lambada or other tribe is not common.

Caste (Fr, Pg, Sp, race, breed, lineage, chaste, stock etc.) is a closed group whose members preferred a particular occupation and a degree of social participation. Marriage outside the caste is prohibited. A specialized labor group may operate as a caste within a society otherwise free of such distinctions (e.g., the ironsmiths in parts of Africa).

According to Webster’s unabridged dictionary a caste is a race, stock, or breed of men or animals; one of the heriditary classes; a system of social stratification more rigid than class and characterized by hereditary status, endogamy, and social barriers rigidly sanctioned by custom, law or religion; a form of polymorphic social insects that carries out a particular function in the colony.

The Longman Dictionary defines a caste as one of the fixed and unchangeable social classes into which people are born in India. Oxford dictionary defines caste as any of the Hindu hereditary classes, distinguished by relative degree of purity and pollution (of blood), whose members are socially equal with one another and often follow the same occupation. A caste, according to Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary, is one of the four major hereditary classes of Hindu society, each caste is distinctly separated from others by restrictions placed on occupation and marriage. Apparently, the editors of these dictionaries have no idea of how many thousands of castes are in the Indian continent. Further, one has to wonder why the same kind of group elsewhere in the world is a tribe and in India is a caste. Whatever may be the reason, caste and tribe are distinguished in India. The Sanskrit words like varna, kul, jati etc. are very much confused and as a result words like class, caste and tribe are misinterpreted by the world.

There is another important aspect to this caste. Even though, castes or tribes are not unique to India, caste was invented by Western indologists and Western influenced Indian leftist intellectuals to define the bewildering diversity of the ancient culture. During the colonial and Muslim period it served the interests of foreign rulers to diminish Indian society by instilling a sense of shame and inferiority. In fact, castes are found in the history of every nation in this world. Even today, we find such divisions in the most advanced countries like the United States of America. However, the Western and leftist Indian intellectuals interpret Sanskrit scriptures to fit their agendas and continue to cling on to those interpretations even when they don’t make any sense.

The so-called caste system, a complex network of interdependent yet separated, heriditary, endogamous, occupationally specialized, and hierarchically ordered social groups is incomprehensible to leftists and Westerners. Caste as an institution transcends the religion, just like various tribes in Islam, e.g. Kurds, Arabs, Pashtoons, Mohajirs etc. Brahmins, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs, Vaishnavites, Shaivites, Veera Shaivites, Shaktites, Christians, Secular humanists, and others in India are all subject to the overarching dictates of caste. Attempts to break the caste system were made time and again from the days of Lord Buddha. Religions like Buddhism, Veera Shaivism, Vaishnavism etc., succeeded momentarily, but the caste always resurrected itself with vengeance, because it is a natural phnomenon. It happens in Christianity and Islam also. Islam not only has tribes like Kurds, Arabs, Pashtoons, Mohajirs, but also many so-called Hindu castes. Christinaity is no different either, e.g., Reddi Chrisitans, Kamma Christians, Mala Christians, Madiga Christians, Kuruma Christians etc.

There is no universal system of caste throughout India. The belief that the Vedic varnashrama dharma was the “caste system in embryo,” is flawed. If not, the tribes of Afghanistan should also be considered originated from this class system, because Afghanistan was Hindu/Buddhist and didn’t know Islam until 700 AD. For that matter, the Hutus and Tutsis of Burundi should also be a result of Vedic hypothetical class system. The caste system is different from the ideal vedik varna class system. Varna is hypothetical and is a class, whereas caste is real and plays a major role. Varna (the class) allows movement of people from one class to the other, while tribe or caste does not. Thus, it is preposterous to say the vedic hypothesis of class is same as caste.

According to Vedas, in any society in general, there are four underlying varnas (colors or divisions or groups), the four groups being, intellectuals and priests (Brahmin varna), rulers and warriors (Kshatriya varna), agriculturists and business persons (Vaishya varna), and other workers (Shudra varna). Without these four classes there is no society in this world. Thus, if the society is the God, his/her head is the intellectuals and priests, shoulders are the warriors and military, the trunk is the business and agricultural community and finally the legs are the workers who fulfil the basic needs of the society starting from the work in agricultural fields to the temple construction, without which society cannot go forward.

“Giving a human form to the society, we may say priests and teachers are its expressive face, rulers and warriors its protective arms, traders and farmers its supporting thighs and servants and labourers its transporting feet. To conceive of the world in the image of man, we may say the sun and moo are its eyes and mind, water and fire its mouth, air its breath, sky its head, earth its feet, and the ethereal space its body. This world is itself a continuing sacrifice, in which we see all matter and energy evolving into new forms by consuming whatever existed before.” Purusha Sukta: (The Hymn of God); Rigveda.

Anybody can become a Brahmin varna (intellectual group), but one has to be born into Brahmin caste to be a Brahmin caste. If there is a confusion, it is because the word Brahmin has several meanings including the ultimate God, earthly God, intellectual, teacher, priest, Brahmin tribe/caste.

The castes in Andhra Pradesh can be divided into two distinct categories. Brahmin, Komati, Reddy, Kamma, Velama, Kapu, Nayudu, Relli, Mala, Madiga, Yeraka, Yanadi etc., castes are based on their tribal, cultural and religious differences, while the castes like Chakali (washerman), Kummari (potter), Kammari (smith), Kamsali (goldsmith), Mangali (barber) etc are based on their duties in addition to the above differences. With a few exceptions like the Brahmin caste, all these castes are uniquely localized in Andhra Pradesh. Each caste has a deity and distinct social formalities. The interaction between various castes is difficult because of these religious, cultural and tribal considerations.

3Conversions and adoption are such mechanisms by which a tribal identity of the offspring may be changed. However, one has to remember that changing the labels cannot change genes. Only inter-caste marriage combined with conversion would result in genetic change as well. In the past, inter-caste marriage had resulted in new castes, as conversion was not an option. Indian castes, just like any other tribes, do not appreciate conversion to another tribe or caste, as most of them are non-proselytizing and consider their customs superior to any other customs and caste practices.

Brahmins are also non-proselytizing and do not appreciate tribal-caste conversion in general. However, it may be inevitable when faced with proselytizing forces such as Christianity and Islam, and when there is a need for increasing the numbers in a particular community. Also, in a cosmopolitan civilized world, where there cannot be restrictions on one’s choice of the spouse, conversion is the best compromise. Muslims and Christians follow this method very strictly as a method of increasing their fold. Usually, anyone who marries a Muslim must convert to Islam.

In the past, however, through rigorous courses and tests some non-Brahmins became Rishis, e.g., Kings like Viswamitra, Vishnuvardhana, Radheerga, Veerahavya etc. became Rishis and established their own Vedik schools and new Brahmin branches. (Reference: “Andhra Viprula Gotramulu, Indla Perlu, Sakhalu,” by Emmesroy Sastri, Gollapudi Veeraswami Son, Sri Seetarama Book Depot, Rajamandri).

4 “The Risilient Brahmin,” The Week, November 10, 2002,

5 The Sanskrit is an ancient language that became irrelvant to Indians in general, and Brahmins in particular. It is the language of Brahmins. However, whenever, Brahmins migrated to lands, they adopted to the local language and customs and adopted local Gods, yet maintained their Sanskrit language, the Vedas, traditions and culture. Unfortunately, today’s Brahmin lost this ability to keep the Sanskrit language and the Vedas due to various reasons.

6Many words in Sanskrit have many meanings, e.g., Hari means God, Vishnu, Indra, Yama, the sun, the moon, a monkey, a lion, an eagle, a horse, a frog, a parrot, air, wind, a ray of light, yellow color, the best, etc.

7With hidden agendas and/or without proper knowledge of Sanskrit, many interpreters distort the Sanskrit texts.

8Brahmanism is an ancient non-proselytizing religion and forms the basis for many Indian religions such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Buddhism, Jainism etc., to a large extent.

9A religion is a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power accepted as the creator and governor of the universe and having a certain organization and tradition in worshipping such Supreme Being. Brahmins believe in such Supreme Being and have a unique way of worshipping with certain rituals, which are different from that of the rest of the world. However, Brahmins have embraced the local religions wherever they migrated and yet maintained their identity and basic Vedic culture.

10 Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. It includes traditions, culture, religions and othe practices of various peoples localised in the Indian Continent. Hinduism includes communists, atheists, capitalists and numerous Indian religions. However, the so-called experts also tell us that there is a religion called Hinduism. For example, the Longman Dictionary says, Hinduism is the main religion of India, which includes belief in destiny and reincarnation, while the Oxford Dictionary says Hinduism is the main religious and social system of India, including the belief in reincarnation and the worship of several gods. However, there are many non-Inidan religions in this world that believe in destiny and reincarnation. Some say that rather than a single doctrine or a single system of worship, Hinduism is a broad confluence of ideas and attitudes. Well, of course, then one has to wonder why the ideas and attitudes from Middles East, such as, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, are not included in it!

However, historically, there was never such a thing as Hinduism in the Indian Continent. It is a recent creation by the outsiders to define the myriad religions and cultures that exist in the Indian Continent. Whatever may be the history, the fact is that now there is so-called Hinduism in the minds of people, who cannot comprehend the diversity of the Indian Continent and have no intention of even attempting to understand it. So, even the Brahmin Gurus and Pandits and other so-called Hindus have come to accept the name-the Hinduism, given to them by the outsiders, while denouncing and redefining it again and again.

In an attempt to define Hinduism that exists in India today, the Constitution Bench in Sastri Yajnapurushadasji and Others Vs. Muldas Bhudardas Vaishya and Another, 1996 (3) SCR 242 held: “Then we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one God: it does not subscribe to any one dogma: it does not believe in any one philosophic concept: it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.” The Supreme Court further opined “Hinduism had originally a territorial and not a cradle significance. It implied residence in a well-defined geographical area. Aboriginal tribes, savage and half-civilized people, the cultured Dravidians and the Vedic Aryans were all Hindus as they were the sons of the same mother. The Hindu thinkers reckoned with the striking fact that the men and women dwelling in India belonged to different communities, worshipped different gods, and practised different rites.” Thus Hinduism is a group of religions.

A story from Panchatantra illustrates the present confusion perfectly. Once there was a Brahmin who used to live on alms provided by generous villagers. One day he was offered a calf by a neighboring villager. The Brahmin was happy and was carrying the calf home. Three cheats saw the Brahmin carrying the calf and thought that it would make a nice meal for them, while it would be useless to the vegetarian Brahmin. They came up with a plan to cheat the poor Brahmin. One after the other all three pass by the Brahmin and tell him that he was carrying a goat, donkey and a dead pig, respectively. Although the Brahmin didn’t believe initially, he came to a conclusion that whatever he was carrying was certainly not a calf and it must be demon because it was appearing to various people as various things. So, he became scared and abandoned the calf. The three cheats happily had a nice meal of the calf. This story tells us that persistent misinterpretation gets credibility over a period of time. And so, now we have Hinduism and everything in India is Hinduism and the tribes and castes in India are due to the Hindu philosophy, contrary to the reality and the interpretation of the Supreme Court. Life is simple that way, otherwise the diversity in India is bewildering.

This Western and leftist definition of Hinduism resulted in attribution of Brahmin customs, traditions, and culture to non-Brahmins. As a result, non-Brahmins like Iliah Kanche, a Kuruma Christian, who had developed a bitter hatred against Brahmins declared themselves as non-Hindus. Many other Hindu religions also declared themselves as separate from Hinduism, e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc.

This Western definition of Hinduism as a single religion, contrary to the above Supreme Court definition, by the Western and leftist Indian intellectuals has resulted, unfortunately, in another SC judgment of far-reaching consequences for Brahmin religion. The Supreme Court has ruled that Brahmins do not have monopoly over performing puja in a temple where Brahmins have been priests for centuries and said a non-Brahmin, properly trained and well-versed in the rituals, could be appointed as a priest. In this decision, the SC has trampled on the freedom of religion enshrined in the constituion as applied to Brahmins. The Brahmins and non-Brahmins are considered part of a single religion called Hinduism and, thereby, a non-Brahmin can take over the temples of Brahmins. This decision was delivered by a Bench comprising Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice Doraiswamy Raju, while upholding the appointment of a non-Brahmin as a priest in Kongoopilly Neerikode Siva Temple at Alangad village in Ernakulam, Kerala. The government of India and the Judiciary not only interfere in the religions of Hindus and Hindu institutions, but also actively attempt to destroy the Hindu religions such as Brahminism, while supporting and allowing the growth of Western religions such as Islam and Christianity and those religons that declared to be separate from Hinduism, by all means. This kind of interference by the government would not be tolerated anywhere in the world, including India. It is impossible to have a Kurdish priest in a Turkish mosque or a Catholic priest in a Serbian church or a Muslim in Christian Church; and even the most secular/communist government in the world would not impose such an absurd decision, except in India and that too with regard to Brahmins only.

11Mayne’s Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage, 14th Edition, 14th edition, pp. 1-45.

Pandurang Vaman Kane, History of Dharmasastra (ancient and mediæval religious and civil law in India) — 2d ed. — Poona : Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. — (Government oriental series. Class B ; no. 6.). — Vol II, Part I. — 1974. — S. 483 -486.

12Once upon a time, an assembly of Brahmins was arranged in presence of Lord Brahma. All the Brahmin teachers and professors were invited. It was declared that who ever among the invited fails to attend the Brahmin assembly would be considered to have committed the sin of murder of a Brahmin (Brahmahatya). For some unavoidable circumstances, Professor Vaisampayana could not attend this meeting and acquired the sin of Brahmahatya. He assembled all his disciples and requested them to share the burden of the sin of murder. One of his disciples was Yajnavalkya. He was a great intellectual and was very powerful due to his knowledge. He came forward and suggested that he would take all the sin and manage it with his powers and requested Vaisampayana to let go other disciples. Vaisampayana was enraged at this request. He considered this request as arrogance of Yagnavalkya and completely out of line. Consequently, he ordered Yajnavalkya to give up all the learning that he learned from Vaisampayana and leave his school immediately. Yajnavalkya followed the orders of the professor and discarded all the learning, which immediately evaporated into the solar dimension. And he became poorer in his knowledge and hence in powers and luster.

Yajnavalkya went to the Sun God and requested the Sun to teach him Yajurveda. The Sun God agreed to teach and asked him to follow him in the form a horse during his continuous travel across the skies and learn. Thus Yajnavlakya became a Vajasaneya, one who learned as a horse and a branch formed called Vajasaneya sakha. This Yajurveda learned by Yajnavlkya as a horse from the Sun God is called SuklaYajurveda and the earlier one that was learned from Vaismpayana was Krishna Yajurveda.

According to Vedas, when Yajnavalkya discarded the knowledge of Vedas, other disciples absorbed it like Tittiri birds and hence the branch that came from those disciples is called Tittiriya sakha.

Source: Vayaupuranamu in “Ashtadasapuranamulu,” by Venkataramasastri Kompella, Rohini Publications, Rajamandri, pp. 308-309.

13In Sanskrit, gotram means family, race, lineage, a mountain, a cow-pen and so on!

TYPES OF BRAHMINS AS PER SKAND PURAN: 1) Matra (मात्र) Brahman is the one who took birth as Brahmin but has no inclination towards Knowledge. 2) Brahmins (ब्राह्मण) follow the rules ascribed to him as a Brahmin and has positive qualities.


In the Smriti-Puran’s, 8 distinctions of Brahman are found : – mere, Brahmin, Srotriya, Anuchan, Embryo, Rishikalpa, Rishi and Muni. There are 8 types of Brahmins mentioned earlier in Shruti. Apart from this, Brahmins who are elevated from descent, knowledge and virtue are Trident. Brahmin is also called the Dharmgya Vipra and Dwij.

8 Distinctions :

  1. Matra (only) :

Brahmins who are Brahmins by caste but they are not Brahmins by karma are called Matra (only). No one is called a Brahmin by taking birth in a Brahmin clan. Many Brahmins are away from Brahmin-oriented Upanayana rites and Vedic deeds, then they are called Matra (only). Some of them are not even this they are simply Shudras. They worship various kinds of deities and indulge in the pleasures of night thus can be called Rakshash (demon).

  1. Brahmin :

Those who are strong with God, Vedpathi, Brahmagami, simple, reclusive (likes to stay alone), truthful and wise are called Brahmins. Does not do different worship as mentioned in Purans and lives life as mentioned in Vedas is said to be a Brahmin.

  1. Shotriya :

According to the Smriti (memory), any person who reads any one branch of the Veda with Kalpa and all the six limbs, is enriched in the six deeds of Brahmanism, it is called ‘Shotriya’.

  1. Anuchan :

Any person who is an enlightenment of the Vedas and Vedangas, sinless, pure mind, superior, teaching and scholar to the pupils of the Vedas, is considered as ‘Anuchan’.

  1. Bhrun (Fetus) :

Having all the qualities of the Anuchan, he only engages himself in Yajna and Swadhyaya, such a person with self-control is called a fetus.

  1. Rishikalp :

Anyone who has knowledge of all Vedas, Smritis and cosmic subjects, subdues the mind and senses and resides in the ashram by always following celibacy is called Rishikalp.

  1. Rishi :

Such a person is above any doubt, stays brahmachari (celibate) while doing proper diet, dietary habits, etc. and whose curse and grace is coming to fruition, that truthful and capable person is called a Rishi (sage).

  1. Muni :

A person who is situated in the path of isolation, knowledge of all elements, meditational, Jitendriya (control over his 5 senses) and Siddh, such a Brahmin is called ‘Muni’.

The word Brahmin was first used for the Rishis, the pronounceers of the Atharveda. Then to understand each Veda, the texts were written and they were also called Brahman literature. The Brahmin did not belong to any caste or society then.

Now after the formation of the society, the highest division or classification in India is among the Brahmins such as: Saryuparin, Kanyakubj, Jijhotia, Maithil, Marathi, Bengali, Bhargava, Kashmiri, Sanadhya, Gaur, Maha-Baman and much more. Similarly, the highest surname (surname or title) is also prevalent among Brahmins. How the origin of these surnames came to know about some of them.

  • Brahman reciting one Veda was called Pathak.
  • The two Veda reciters were called Dwivedi, which became Dubey over time.
  • The one who read the three Veds was called Trivedi, also known as Tripathi which later became Tiwari.
  • The four Vedas recited are called Chaturvedi, who later became Chaubey.
  • Those who read Shukla Yajurved are called Shukla or Shukla.
  • The knower of the four Veds, Purans and Upanishads was called Pandit, who later became Pandey, Pandiya, Padhyaya. This Padhyay later became Upadhyay.
  • Those who hold shastras or perform Shastras were honored with the title of Shastri.
  • Apart from these, the descendants of the famous sages adopted the name of their Rishikul or gotra as a surname, such as: – Bhagavan Parasuram also belonged to Bhrigu clan. The descendants of Bhrigu clan are called Bhargav, similarly Gautam, Agnihotri, Garg, Bhardwaj, etc.
  • Many Brahmins were also given many titles by many rulers, which were later used by their descendants as surnames. In this way the surnames of Brahmins came into vogue. Such as Rao, Rawal, Maharawal, Kanungo, Mandalik, Zamindar, Chaudhary, Patwari, Deshmukh, Cheetnis, Pradhan, etc.
  • Banerjee, Mukherjee, Joshiji, Sharmaji, Bhattji, Vishwakarmaji, Maithliji, Jha, Dhar, Srinivas, Mishra, Mendola, Apte, etc. have thousands of surnames which have their own separate history.

Kshatriya Definition, History & Origin

The Caste System in Hinduism

The caste system in Hinduism represents a hierarchical social system in which different groups of people are classified based on their social characteristics and attributes. The caste system in India is based on one of two methods of social classification systems: Jati and Varna. The Jati system categorizes people based on their profession or occupation, while the Varna system divides people into four main classes:

What is Kshatriya?

The Kshatriyas are the second highest caste within the Varna system. Sometimes referred to as Ksatriyas, the name for this caste is derived from the Sanskrit word kshatra, meaning “power and authority.” They serve as both rulers in times of peace and as warriors in times of battle. In addition to creating order within the country and population as a whole, the Kshatriyas also protect the political dharma, or cosmic order of society.

Originally, the Kshatriyas were chosen based on three traits:

  • Guna: their aptitude to serve as Kshatriyas
  • Karma: their personal conduct
  • Swabhava: their nature and temperament.

Over time, however, the use of these three criteria was eliminated, as the Kshatriya caste eventually became hereditary.

Together with the Brahmin caste, the Kshatriyas represent the upper castes of Indian society, representing roughly 20% of the population. The Kshatriya caste usually includes members of the military and the rulers involved in government.

Kshatriya Caste

Hindu tradition states that the Kshatriyas were created after evil spirits tortured Lord Brahma. These evil spirits form when Lord Brahma emits negative energy from his body. This negative energy leads to the formation of Rakshasas, or devil spirits, that try to injure Brahma. Lord Brahma asks for assistance from Lord Vishnu, who destroys the devil spirits and describes how the use of positive energy also leads to the formation of negative energy. To help keep this negative energy from harming people, Lord Vishnu suggests that Lord Brahma create a special group of people to protect others from this negative energy.

Lesson Summary

Ancient Indian society developed the caste system in Hinduism as a way to create a hierarchical stratification of the Indian population. The Kshatriyas are the second highest caste in the Varna caste system and consist of the warriors who help to rule and defend the Indian people. In the past, the Kshatriyas were chosen based on their personal qualities, such as strength, valor, and courage. The term Kshatriya is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word kshatra, meaning “power and authority.”

What is Kshatriya known for?

The Kshatriya are known for their strength, valor, and courage, as well as their abilities to both rule and serve as warriors. The Kshatriya can study the Vedas, much the Brahmin caste, but are unable to teach these texts.

Which Indian caste is the highest?

The highest Indian caste is the Brahmin caste. The Brahmins learn the Vedas, or the ancient Hindu sacred scriptures, and perform ceremonies based on these texts.

What are the characteristics of Kshatriya?

The Kshatriya are known as warriors and rulers who help to defend India from attack. They are known for their valor, strength, and courage.


Definition – What does Kshatriya mean?
Kshatriya, meaning “ruler” or “warrior” in Sanskrit, is the ruling caste in traditional Hindu society. Outlined in the Vedic texts, Kshatriya is the second highest of the four classes (or varna). Members of this varna are believed to be able to attain moksha through good works, otherwise known as Karma yoga.
Yogapedia explains Kshatriya
According to Hindu scriptures, the varna that an individual is a part of is based on their qualities or characteristics. Varna is classified into four types: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. According to the popular belief that exists about varna classification, Brahmins are considered the supreme, in which class priests and preachers reside; Kshatriyas are kings and warriors; Vaishyas are traders and agriculturists; and Shudras are considered laborers who provide service to those who belong to other types of varna.

Historically, Hindus of the Kshatriya caste were often in ruling governmental or military positions within society and were considered elite. Those individuals belonging to the Kshatriya caste were expected to protect others during times of war and to govern, although not all members served in military roles. In modern India, the Kshatriya comprise a wide range of jati groups (communities associated by profession), all united by claims to some sort of rulership, nobility, public service or military pursuit.

Kshatriya Varna
Kshatriya occupies the second highest position in Indian Hindu society.

Kshatriya ranks the second highest position among four Varnas in Indian Hindu caste system. This caste is responsible for upholding justice and social harmony. Under the Indian Varna system, Kshatriyas are rulers and warriors.

Etymology of Kshatriya
Kshatriya, the term is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ksatra’ which means “roof, umbrella, dominion, power, government”. The Kshatriya caste members have held power for centuries in India.

Origin of Kshatriya
The Aryans were the earliest warrior classes whose reference is found in the Rig Veda. The Kshatriya dharmapropagates that it is the duty of every Kshatriya to fight against injustice. Their origin can be traced back to the Vedic Civilization. According to the Hindu Mythology, while Lord Brahma was creating the universe it was decided that a special kind of human race would have to be created to save and protect the humans. Thus the Kshatriyas came into existence.

History of Kshatriya
According to the earliest Vedas, the Kshatriyas rank the highest in position. But they were given punishment by Parashurama, the 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu for their tyranny and the caste had fallen to the second position at the end of the Vedic era. They were the ruling class and often by collaborating with the Brahmins they reigned over their kingdom. In ancient India, the rulers were bound by Holy Scriptures to govern their kingdoms with justice. A Hindu ruler was the protector of his subjects.

Mythological References of Kshatriya
According to the doctrine the Lord’s 4 body parts make up the 4 classes of the society. Thus in Rig Veda, it is stated that the Kshatriyas are made up of God’s arms. According to Manu, the Vedic theologist, it was due to different occupations that the people were divided. Those who practiced martial arts became Kshatriyas.

Kshatriyas were considered to be the descendents of Lord Surya, Lord Agni or Chandra. For instance Lord Rama was Suryavanshi or the descendent of Sun Dynasty while Lord Krishna belonged to the Lunar Dynasty or Chandravanshi. Owing to different reasons these were not considered as a part of the warrior class.

Qualities of Kshatriya
The Rajputs are considered to be most revered and persistent Kshatriyas. The Rajputs were known to make deft political channelizes to consolidate their kingdom or to defeat an enemy. They are also known to follow certain codes of war to fight. They are legendarily said to have untiring persistence to attain their goal as in the case of Maharana Pratap Singh. Legendary Rajputs are Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, Raja Bhoja, Rana Mokal, Prithiviraj Chauhan, Rana Hamir, Hadi ke Rani, etc.

The Kshatriyas were specialized in guerrilla warfare. History said that the Maratha warrior and emperor, ShivajiBhonsle had his own army specialized in guerrilla warfare. The Kshatriyas were unsparing in their attack on whatever obstructed the growth of the nation. They respect people with courage and intelligence. Almost all the aggressive virtues were imbibed in them. The spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance and courageous attack made them perfect rulers.

Set of Laws for Kshatriya
In the Kshatriya caste, there were certain rules that a Kshatriya required to follow. In this caste, a male child is considered as a symbol of masculinity where a female child needs to be gentle and well behaved. He was not allowed to marry outside his class; joint family system was to be followed strictly and several other traditions were pre-eminent in the society

Kshatriya: Kshatriyas were warriors and rulers who protected people and helped people. They came out from the arms or shoulders, and there is a lot of strength in our arms, that’s why Kshatriyas were strong people who were able to fight.

History Of Kshatriyas

  • Kshatriya is one of the four varnas of Hindu culture and it is less of a caste and more of a community. Protect all other religions and community and patriotism were their identity.
  • They were so brave, expert, and smart in war and fights.
  • Be fearless, valiant, daring, truthful, and full of dignity these qualities were commonly and easily found.

Properties And Identities Of Kshatriya

  • Courage, grace, and brilliance were seen in every Kshatriyas. According to the 43rd shlok 18th chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta,

शौर्यं तेजो धृतिर्दाक्ष्यं युद्धे चाप्यपलायनम् ।

दानमीश्वरभावश्च क्षात्रं कर्म स्वभावजम् ।।

  • Kshatriyas should have a quality of bravery; Kshatriyas should be valor and strong determination in war. It’s the duty of every king to protect their people, state, and kingdom. It was necessary to be determined to follow and protect his religion. He should be a genius in taking all decisions. He always moved forward in war, and never ran away from the battleground. He should be a good donor, who donates the funds to the people of the state. He filled the necessaries of all people. If there is any deficiency or some mistake has happened, then he considers himself guilty.
  • Kshatriyas never took decisions without thinking, in his court he keep some experts or ministers for the right suggestions.

What Is Written About Kshatriyas In Vedic Texts?

  • Kshatriyas was at the top not second in Vedic texts. It has been mentioned that Kshatriyas were destroyed by Parshurama the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
  1. Brahmanic texts claim the victory of Brahmins but some epics claim it differently.
  2. People of the Hindu religion were considered as the protector of state land and maintained their image strong.
  3. Kshatriyas did the profession of war and captured lands of another state by defeating its rulers.

What Is Written About Kshatriyas In Rigveda?

Rigveda also claims the description of the symbolic structure of four varnas.

  1. It has used the Rajanya word instead of the Kshatriya word in Purusha Sukta.
  2. In the end time of Vedic Rajany word was changed into Kshatriyas.
  3. Sages believe that Rajanya were political people and rulers who ruled on state and protect people and fight battles to increase their state and image, prestige, and own state.
  4. In the Sanskrit language, Kshatra is the meaning of ruler and that word also describes the meaning of power and energy.
  5. They had the idea of monarchy and owning the land.

Sanskrit Shlokas Of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta

स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य न विकम्पितुमर्हसि ।

धर्म्याद्धि युद्धाच्छ्रेयोऽन्यत्क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते ॥

Meaning: “Even after seeing your religion (Kshatriya religion), you should not be disturbed or distraught, because nothing is more beneficial to a Kshatriya than a war of religion.”

यदृच्छया चोपपन्नां स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम् ।

सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम् ।।

Meaning: “O Partha! The Kshatriyas attain this war on their own, that is, spontaneously and as the opened gates of heaven.”


  • The meaning of the Rajput word is the son of a king. They believe a Kshatriya themselves. The Rajput rule was from 700 CE to1200 CE, and some historian reports claim duration between 700 CE to 1200 CE in middle, North-West India and there are some Muslim Rajputs in East Pakistan. Personal honor, ideal, and dignity these qualities are included in them.

The Origination Of Rajput

  • It started in the middle of the 5th century with a huge division in Indian society.
  • Some historical notes say that some aboriginal people got the status of Rajput, some of them mean aboriginal ministers considered Rajput.
  • Some epics like Mahabharata claim that Rajputs and Kshatriyas are the same. But there is a lot of controversy going on between Rajput and Kshatriya, whether they are different or the same.

Are Rajputs Kshatriyas or not? There are some different theories on this topic.

  1. Theory of Colonel James Tod: He was a British historian, who claimed that Rajput is an extension of some foreign castes, which were invented in India. And he said that the same people who had won during the war would go ahead and become Rajputs. But Indian historians do not believe that because Tod was an officer of the British East India Company.
  2. Theory of Gaurishankar Harichand Auja: He is a historian who claims that Kshatriya who was connected to Araya became Rajput.
  3. Theory of Chand Bardai: He was a state poet and good friend of Chauhan dynasty ruler Prithviraj Chauhan. Chand Bardai claimed Bakshish Rishi prayed on mount Abu for help to fight enemies. AndRishi Bakshish got four Rajput castes from the fire pit. Which were Gurjar Pratihar, Chauhan, Parmar and Chalukya. But this story is considered an imaginary story.
  4. Theory of Gopinath Sharma and Bhandarkar: These two historians claim that Rajput originated from of Brahmin caste.
  • According to Colonel James Tod and Prithviraj Raso a book of Chand Bardai, there were 36 gautra (clans) in ancient India. Which are given below,
  • Rajput Rule Started In 800 Ce In North Indian States. Like, As Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharastra, Delhi, Punjab, Kannauj, And Madhya Pradesh. Muslim Rulers Started Entering India From 700 To 1200 Ce. Rajputs Were The Biggest Resistance To Muslim Rulers.
  • During The Rule Of The Rajputs, The King Of The Following Dynasties Ruled India.

1. Gurjara-Pratihara

  • Gujarat and jodhpur Rajasthan (between the 6th and 9th centuries). Nagbhata was founder of Pratihar (Gurjara-Pratihar) dynasty. Ujjain was the capital of them in the starting but after some time main capital was Kannauj. They were descendants of Lakshman brother of Lord Ram and that’s why they were called Dwarpal, Pratihar. Mir Kasim was the first Muslim ruler who invented them. Mihir Bhoj was the major ruler of this dynasty whose kingdom grew well and Yashpal was the last one.

2. Chalukya

  • After the ending of the Gurjar Pratihara dynasty, Gujarat and Rajasthan (between the 6th and 12th centuries). Mulraj Pratham was the founder. During the rule of Bhim Pratham, Ghori first time invaded Somnath. One minister of Bhim Pratham made a Jain temple on mount Abu. Siddhraj Jaysinh was the chief ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. He made seven statues of his lineage on Mount Abu. Modhera Sun temple was also structured at that time.

3. Chauhan Dynasty

  • It is the most important dynasty which ruled India, Ajmer, and Delhi (between the 6th to 12th centuries). Chauhan dynasty was divided into 24 different subcastes. Its founder is Vasudev but some say Chahamana is the founder that’s why that dynasty was named by Chauhan. Ajmer was tier capital. Somdev wrote Lalit Vigrahraj, about king Vigrahraja. Prithviraj Chauhan was the chief ruler of the Chauhan dynasty. Chand Bardai was his friend and state poet who wrote Prithviraj Raso, and Jaynaka wrote Prithviraj Vijaya. The first war of Tarain and the second war of Tarain are the most famous wars in Indian culture. Prithviraj was the last ruler of the Rajput dynasty.

4. Parmar Dynasty

  • Malwa and west-central India (between 9th and 14th centuries) Dhar and Mandu capitals. It is said that the founder of the Parmar dynasty is Upendra or Krishnaraj or Ajab Dev Parmar. Dharanagari was the main capital of the Parmar dynasty. Raja Bhoj was the major ruler of this that dynasty. He was so brilliant and clever. He is known as Kaviraj, he wrote books on science, maths, Ayurveda, and therapy. He made a Sanskrit Vidhyalaya (school) and Sarasvati temple.

5. Chandela Dynasty

  • After the ending of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, Bundelkhand. (Between 8th and 12th centuries). It was founded by Nannuka. Khajuraho was the capital. At that time Parmardi dev was defeated by Prithviraj Chauhan.

6. Sisodiya Dynasty

  • Mewar and Rajasthan (Hammira Singh founded this dynasty in 1326). It is also called the “House of Mewar”. Bhagwat Singh was the final ruler of this dynasty.

7. Gaekwad Dynasty

  • Kannauj to Varanasi(from the 18th century until 1947). Their rule started after the end of the Pratihar dynasty. Chandra dev was the founder of this dynasty but some notes claim the name of Damaji. Jaichand was one of the rulers of the Gaekwad dynasty. Many people know the story of Jaichand and Prithviraj, where Prithviraj took the daughter of Jaichand from the crowded assembly. And they became enemies of each other. Muhammad Ghori killed Jaichand in 1194.

What Did They Do For The Country?

  • Kshatriya Rajputs were so brave, strong, powerful and so firm for the matter of their image and prestige. There are great sacrifices of Rajput rulers for the country. They always fought for their motherland, their religion, and their self-respect. And there is no doubt that they were not a patriot.
  1. The Rajput race is the noblest and proudest of India. There is a big contribution of Rajputs to save the country and people.
  2. They protected India many times from different types of invaders and dedicated their lives to the military. It is said that there is a major contribution of them to the country.
  3. They gave money and much more wealth to the country and its welfare. They provided funds for the start-up and helped much for the nation.
  4. Many kings supported India in uniting small states and forming a federation.
  5. Even during British rule, many Rajput kings are known to have a nationalist movement against them.
  6. Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, and Prithviraj Chauhan are the well-known Rajput kings for their power, impact, impression and their war skills, etc.
  7. Yes, there are some things that history does not forgive, such as Prithviraj Chauhan letting Ghori go and on the contrary, it went heavy on him. But it is not like, that’s the only reason why Muslim invaders established their rule on the country. We can’t say that he did nothing but he did everything to let them stop. His sacrifices and efforts to save the country were not so little that we can ignore them.

OBC (Educationally And Socially Backward Class)

  • Kshatriya is a big class of Hindu castes in India. After the varna system was invented in India, subcastes of four varnas began to emerge. The feeling of difference between people started spreading more. Now Kshatriya varna has many subcastes in Indian society. We know the Chauhan caste had been divided into 24 different subcastes. Many times before there were castes like ST, SC, and general but OBC wasn’t. OBCs are described as socially and educationally backward caste by the Indian Constitution.
  • The backward class (The castes which are educationally and socially disadvantaged) is the term used by the Government of India. According to the Mandal Commission report, in 1980 OBCs were 55% country’s population of India. And the National Sample Survey Organization claimed about 41% in 2006.
  • Until 1985, the backward classes’ cell in the ministry of home affairs took care of backward classes. But another ministry was established in 1985, especially for backward classes.

Top 13 Interesting Facts About Kshatriyas

  1. Kshatriyas are at the second stage in the ancient varna system and came from the arms of Lord Bramha. And because our arms are strong so Kshatriyas were called warriors and rulers. To rule the state, fight, protect people, and maintain the welfare of people were the professions of Kshatriya.
  2. Kshatriyas are also known as Rajputs, yet some people believe that both are different. But some Indian historians, historical notes/reports, and books claim both to be the same.
  3. These were some of the qualities that were seen in him, brave, strong, intelligent, donor, an expert in war/battles, fearless, etc. They also protected their religion, and it is said that they never stepped back from the battleground.
  4. Many people claim that OBCs have been left behind in teaching. Most of the people of the OBC caste believe in superstitions.
  5. Rule of Rajputs was from 647 A.D. (or around 7th century A.D.) to 1200 A.D., from the death of Harshvardhan to the 12th century. They ruled for about 500 years in India. The rule of the Rajput dynasty ended after the death of Prithviraj Chauhan.
  6. Many times it is mentioned that Rajputs used to fight and quarreled inside. And the foreign Muslim rulers took the advantage of this. And that’s why the Rajput rule ended and Muslim rule started in India.
  7. The practice of Sati was so famous during the rule of Rajputs, the practice of Sati promotes injustice against women in society. It’s a long story in Hindu religious texts where Goddess Sati jumped in the fire of yajna. In Rajput rule when a man is killed by any invader then his wife would self destroy herself by jumping in the fire. This system was protested by Raja Rammohan Roy and good results were seen.
  8. In Ramayana, Lord Ram didn’t become a king because he was a big son but he became a king because he had those qualities which are the same as Kshatriya. Basically, it means the son of the king will not become the king, but he will become the king who has the qualities of Kshatriya. If I am the son of a Brahmin, but I love marketing, business, or agriculture so I could be a Vaishya.
  9. OBC is a socially and educationally backward caste not economically.
  10. OBC, ST, SC, and genera these castes can not prove that the people of the following cast are Kshatriyas or Brahmins and Shudras or Vaishyas. Kshatriya was varna not a caste only, there are many castes under Kshatriya varna.
  11. Four gautra came out from the fire pit (Agnikund), which were Gurjar Pratihar, Chauhan, Parmar, and Chalukya. Chauhan was divided into 24 different castes.
  12. There is a big discussion on the number of people who are OBCs. It is considered a large number but some people and their reports claim that is bigger than the report of the National Semple Survey.
  13. Even if we talk about today’s society, we can easily see that four varnas according to the varna system. The teachers who give the knowledge are Brahmins. The soldiers, army officers, ministers whoever does the work of power and public welfare is Kshatriya. Traders and businessmen are Vaishyas and people who work for cleaning and servicing are Shudras.

Kshatriya’s 36 Kuls and Full details of all Kshtriyas and Rajputs



Important branches of Suryavansh

Branch Location Gotra Kuldevi

Suryavanshi UP & Uttranchal Kashyap Chandika

Raghuvanshi UP, Bihar, Raj,MP Kashyap,Vasistha Kalika
Nimivansha Bihar Vasishtha Chandika
Nagvanshi Jharkhand, Orissa,MP Kashyap Chandika
Gohil Vansha Gujarat, Rajasthan Kashyap Vanmata
Rathore Bihar, Rajasthan Kashyap, Gautam Vindhyavasini
Gautam Bihar,UP Gautam
Parmar Bihar,UP,MP Vashishtha Durga
Kachwaha Bihar, UP,Rajasthan Gautam Mangala
Parihar UP, MP, Rajasthan Kashyap Chamunda
Gaud UP,MP,Rajasthan Bhardwaj Mahakali
Chauhan Bihar,UP,Haryana Vatsa Shakambhari
Vaishya UP,Bihar Bhardwaj Kalika
Pundir UP,Gujrat,Rajasthan Paulsatya Dadhimata
Dixit Gujrat,UP,Bihar Kashyap Chandi
Kaushik UP,Bihar Kaushik
Bisen UP,Bihar Prashar

Important branches of Chandravansh

Branches Location Gotra Kuldevi

Somvansha UP,Bihar,Punjab Aatri Mahalaxmi
Puruvansha UP Bhardwaj Chandi
Haridwar UP Bhargawa
Kuruvansha Bihar,UP Bhardwaj Bandi
Drahhuvansha Tripura,Assam Aatri Mahalaxmi
Bhriguvansha UP Bhargava
Bhativansha Bihar,Rajasthan Aatri Mahalaxmi
Chandel Bihar,UP,Himachal Chandraya,Vatsa Mahadevi
Jhala Gujrat,Rajasthan Kashyap Mahakali
Solanki Guj,Rajashthan,Bihar Bhardwaj Chandi
Sengar Bihar,UP Gautam Vindhyavashini



1.Badgujar Kshatriya:
Gothra – Vashishtha.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Kalika.
From the vansha of Ramchandraji.
Branches – Sikarwar, Khadal, Batela, Raghav, Chopra, Bafna etc.

2.Gyatvanshi Kshatriya:
Tirthankar Mahavir was Rajput Kshatriya and belongs to this vansha. He later formed Jain Dharma.

3.Gour, Goud Kshatriya:
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Ved – Yajurved.
Devi – Mahakali.
Ishta – Hridradev.
From the vansha of Lord Raja Jayadrata, Sinhaditya, Laxmanaditya also belongs to this vansha. States – Ajmer, Takshasheela, Awadh, Gohati, Shivgarh.
Branches – Amethiya Kshatriya .
Total 5 branches. Existed from 1290.

4.Raikwar Kshatriya:
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Ved – Yajurved.
King Suval, Shakuni belongs to this vansha.
States – Raikagarh near Jammu, Ramnagar, Rampur, Mathura etc. Named Raikwar as they belongs to Raikgarh.
This is a branch of Rathor.

5.Sikarwar Kshatriya:
Shikharwal, Sakarwar are the same.
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Kuldevi – Durga.
Devata – Vishnu.
This is a branch of Badgujar. Many kings belongs to this vansha.
State – Shikarwar (City). Branches – Kadoliya, Saraswar etc.
6.Dixit Kshatriya:
Gothra – Kashyap.
Ved – Samved.
Devi – Durga (Chandi).
King Durgbhav belongs to this vansha. Samtat Vikramaditya has given them the title of Dixit as they belongs to Dikhitana. Being from the vansha of Raja Durgbhav the are called Durgvanshi. King Udaybhan, Banwarisingh, Gaibarshah also belongs to this vansha.
Branches – Durgvanshi, Kinwar.
States – Nevnatangarh, Umri, Phulwariya. Dixit surname also comes under Bhumihar caste which is different.

7.Gohil Kshatriya:
Gothra – Kashyap.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Banamata.
Kuldev – Mahadev.
Branches – Vajasniya. This is a branch of Gahlod vansh. Maharaja Gohil founded a state at the basin of Luni river which includes 350 villeges with capital Khergarh.
State – Sourashtra, Kathiyawarh, Gohilwarh, Bhavnagar, Sihor, Palitana etc. Grahadatta was the first king from Gohin vansha. Great king Shiladitya also belongs to this vansha. This vansha existed from 703.
This is a branch of Gahlod.

8.Suryavanshi Kshatriya:
These are Suryavanshi Kshatriya and their kul is also Suryavanshi.
Gothra – Bhardwaj, Kashyap, Savanya.
Guru – Vashishtha.
Ved – Yajurved. King Akaldev, Tilakdev etc. belongs to this vansha.
States – Shrinagar and Garhwal.

9.Singhel Kshatriya:
Gothra – Kashyap.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Kali.
State – Sinhalgarh.
Being from Sinhalgarh they are called Singhel.
Branches – Chhokar, Jadeja, Jaiswal, Khagar, Kharbad.
Sub-Branch – Jadoun.

10.Thakur Kshatriya:
Thakur – Thakurai Kshatriya are Suryavanshi.
Thakur is their Kul also. Notice: Thakur is not our caste, our caste is Rajput Kshartiya. Thakur is a title given to Rajput Kshatriya. There is also a different caste called thakur.

11.Nimivanshi Kshatriya:
Gothra – Vashishtha.
Ved – Yajurved
Gothra – Kashyap.
Ved – Samved.
This vansha is named after Nimi, son of Maharaja Ishwaku.
Branch – Nimodi kshatriya.

12.Sisodiya Kshatriya (Branch of Gahlod) :
Rana Vansha Being from Sisoda village they are called Sisodiya.
This is a third branch of historical Gahlod Rajputs.
They have same Gothra, Ved, Kuldevi and Isht dev as for Gahlod Vansha. The great heroes from history like Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji belongs to Sisodiya Vansha.
State – Udaypur.
Ranawat, Chundawat, Sangawat, Meghawat, Jagawat, Shaktawat, Kanhawat etc are included.
This is just like Chundawat is a son of Chunda, Shaktawat is a son of Shaktisingh. In Sanskrit, meaning of “wat” is son. The name of Kul begins with the name of Rajput King. The Rajput king who fighted in a battlefield (Ran) has given a title Rana and those who fought greatly were awared with a title Maharana.

13.Kachhwah Kshatriya:
Gothra – Goutam, Vashishtha
Kuldevi – Durga.
Isht – Ramchandraji.
From the vansha of Kusha. Famous king Prithviraj belongs to this vansha.
They have 21 branches – Narwar, Gwalior, Drawakunda, Majkotiya, Jasrotiya, Jammuwal, Dhar etc.
Semi-branches are Shekhawat, Dudhawat, Ratnawat, Rajwat, Bakawat, Pahadi Suryavanshi, Naruka, Jamuwal, Gudwar, Rai Malot, Mounas Kaushik, Manhas, Minhas etc.
State – Rohtasgarh, Amer, Jaipur, Amethi, Karmati, Fort of Gwalior.
Kings from this vansh are Sumitra, Suryasen, Sawai Jaishingh etc.
Their state existed from 1503 to (Sawai Jaisingh) 1930. There are also many branches and sub-branches of this vansha.

14.Rathor Kshatriya:
Gothra – Goutam, Kashyap, Shandilya.
Ved – Samved, Yajurved.
Devi – Pankhani, (Vindhyavasini). Nagnecha (nagana)
Isht – Ramchandraji.
Kings belongs to this vansh are Raav Bika (14650, King Jaichand, Veer Durgadas Rathor, Veer Amarsingh Rathor etc.
States – Idar, Jodhpur, Marwad, Bikaner, Kishangarh, Kannouj.
Having 24 branches and many sub-branches like – Chandawat, Champawat, Jaitawat, Jhabua, Kumpawat, Kailwarh, Raikwarh, Surwarh, Jayas, Kanoujia, Bikawat, Dangi, Kotecha, Kupawat, Jodhawat etc.

15.Nikumbha Kshatriya:
Gotra – Vashishtha, Bhardwaj.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Kalika. Nikumbha, Sagar, Bhagirath etc. were the kings from this vansha.
States – Mandalgarh, Fort of Alwar etc.
Branch – Kathariya.

16.Shrinet Kshatriya:
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Ved – Samved.
Kuldevi – Chandrika.
This is a branch of Nikumbha. Kings from this vansha are Dirghabahu, Bahusuket, Shakun Dev etc.
State – Kapilvastu, Shrinagar etc.
Narouni Kshatriya is one of its branch. Being originated from Shrinagar they are called Shrinet.

17.Nagvanshi Kshatriya:
Gothra – Kashyap, Shunak.
Isht Dev – Nag Devta. Ashwasen, Ritusen belong to this vanshaRaj .
State – Mathura, Marwad, Kashmir, Chhota Nagpur.
Branches – Taank, Katoch, Takshak etc.

18.Bais Kshatriya:
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Kuldevi – Kalika.
Ved – Yajurved.
Isht Dev – Shivji.
First king from this vansha was Harshawardhan. Other kings are Trilokchand, Vikramchand, Kartikchand, Ramchandra, Adharchandra, Narwardhan, Rajyawardhan etc.
States – Baiswada, Pratishthanpur etc.
Branches – Trilokchandi, Kotbahar, Rawat, Pratishthanpuri, Dodiya, Chandosiya, Kumbhi, Narwariya etc. Being originated from Baiswada they are called Bais.

19.Bisen Kshatriya:
Gothra – Parashar, Bhardwaj, Shandilya, Atri, Vatsya.
Ved – Samved.
Kuldevi – Durga.
Kings from this vansha are Mayurbhatt, Birsen. Vansh Bisen obtain its name from Raja Birsen. States – Bisenvatika, Gorakhpur, Mankapur, Pratapgarh.
Branches – Donwar, Bambwar, Bamtola.

20.Goutam Kshatriya:
Gothra – Goutam.
Ved – Yajurved.
Devi – Durga.
Isht Dev – Ramchandraji. This is the vansh who destroyed Shakya Dynesty.
Branches – Kandawar, Antoyya, Rawat, Maurya, Goniha.
Lord Goutam Buddha was born in this vansha, then after he founded Boudha Dhamma. Mahapurush Dhumraj also belongs to this Vansha.
Note: Bhoomihar community also has a caste Goutam which is different.

21.Raghuvanshi Kshatriya:
Gothra – Kashyap, Vashishtha.
Ved – Yajurved.
This vansha is named after Suryavanshi King Raghu who was born in the 54th generation of King Ishwaku. Raja Raghu was a great warrior, he conqured in all the directions and when he returned to his capital he performed Vishwajeet Yagya and donate all his wealth to the Bramhins. He defeated Kings of Suhadra desh, Bang desh, Basins of Ganga river. He marched towards north by defeating the kings of Durdul and Malay mountains. He destroyed the Hoon Kshatriyas and expanded his regime upto kailash. The history of Raghuwansh is very famous.

22.Rawat Kshatriya:
Gothra – Bhardwaj.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Chandika.
Vethhar is their place of orgin. This is a branch of Bais, and according to Kshatriya Bhaskar this is also a branch of Goutam.

23.Pundir Kshatriya:
Gothra – Pulutsya.
Ved – Yajurved.
Kuldevi – Dahima.
Veer Pundhir was the first king from this vansha. This vansha was very popular during the regime of Prithviraj Chouhan.
Kulwal, Kanpuriya and Dhakad are its branches.
Pundhir is Suryawanshi Kshatriya, Hrishivanshiya. This is a branch of Dahima Kshatriya.
Lahore was their state.
Being from the vansha of Punchrik they called Pundhir. Their ansistors ruled on Telangana (Andhra) and their territory was Jasmor. The world famous Shakhumbari Devi Fair is organised in this state. This temple is situeated in the terrains of Shivalik Temple.

Other Suryawanshi Kul Amethiya kshatriya from Amethi, Gohil, Kaktiya, Udmatiya, Madiyar, Chumiyal, Kulwal, Donwar, Dhakar, Maurya, Kakan, Shanguvanshi, Bambobar, Cholavanshi, Pundir, Dogra, Lichhawi etc.


1.Somvanshi Kshatriya:

Gothra – Atri.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Mahalaxmi.

King Lakhansen was one of the king from this vansha.

State – Pratapgarh.

2.Yadav Kshatriya:

Gothra – Kondinya.

Ved – Yajurved.

Guru – Durvasa.

Kuldevi – Jogeshwari.

Lord Vishnu was born in this vansha. Raja Arjundev was also from this vansha.

States – Dwarka, Karoli, Kathiyawara.

3.Bhati Kshatriya:

They are also called as Somvanshi. Somvanshi belongs to the vansha of Pradyumna, elder brother of Lord Krishna. The first king from this vansha was Raja Jaisa Bhati. This brave king was the son of Baland Yadav. Raja Gajsingh, Abhaypal, Prithvipal, Maharawal, Ranjitsingh, Maharawal Shalini Vahan were also the kings from this vansha. State Jaisalmer, Sirmur, Mysore, Karoli, Jaisawat.

Branches – Sirmour, Jaiswar, Sarmour, Sirmuria, Kaleria Kshatriya, Jadeja. Rawal Jaisal founded Jaisalmer. The temple, palaces of this city are build from yellow stone. Raja Rawal ruled from 1212.

4.Jadeja Kshatriya:

At some places this vansha is also called as Chudasa.

State – Gondal state, Navnagar (Gujarat).

5.Tanwar/Tomar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Gargya.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Yogeshwari.

This is a branch of Yaduvanshi. Sinharaj was the first king from this vansha who ruled from 1013. Angpal and Tungpal were also from this vansha. Tomar vansha begins from Tungpal. He was the son of king Yayati from the vansha of Puru.

States – Delhi, Gwalior, Nuspur (Himachal), Paatan (Sikat).

Branches – Sub Branches – Beruar, Birwar, Badwar, Katiyar, Katouch, Jinwar, Indoria Kshatriya and Tirota Kshatriya. Indoria Kshatriya has branches – Raikwar, Jaiwar.

6.Kalchuri Kshatriya:

Kalchuriya : This is a Haihya Kshatriya Vansh.

Gothra – Krishnatreya, Kashyap.

Kuldevi – Durga and Vindhyavasini.

Devta – Shivji. Raja Kartvirya was from this vansha.

States – Ratanpur, Raipur, Koushal (M.P.) and Mahashati City. The inscription from this vansha are kept in a museum at Nagpur.

7.Koushik Kshatriya:

Gothra – Koushik.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Yogeshwari.

Devta – Shiv. Raja Koushik belongs to this vansha.

State – Gorakhpur, Gopalpur.

8.Sengar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Goutam, Shandilya.

Ved – Yajurved.

Devi – Vindhyavasini.

River – Sengar. Kings from this vansha are Chitrarath, Dashrath, Dharmrath.

States – Chedipradesh, Dakshinpradesh, Sourashtra, Malwa, Champanagari.

9.Chandel Kshatriya:

Gothra – Chandatreya (Chandrayan), Sheshdhar, Parashar and Goutam is also found.

Kuldevi – Maniyadevi. Devta – Hanumanji. Veer Shishupal, Chandrabramha (Chandravarma), Yashovarman was from this vansha. This vansha defined itself.

State – Chanderi (Gwalior). Many brave kings were from this vansha.

Chandel, Chanderi nagar, Khajuraho Temple, Madan Sagar of Mahoba are the glory symbols of this vansha. The mark of Hanuman was engraved on the coins of Chandel vansha.

10.Gaherwar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Kashyap.

Ved – Samved.

Devta – Vishnu, Mahadev.

State – Kashi and Kashipuri. Kashya, Dinadas, Manikchand were the kings from this vansha. Bundela is a branch of Gaherwar vansha and Bundelkhand is the state of Bundela vansha. Kherwad is the branch of Bundela.

11.Janwar/Janakwar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Koushik.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Chandika.

Research and historical inscription has proved that this vansha belongs to Maharaj Janmejay, grandson of Arjun.

States – Chhaoni in Gujarat, Japaner near Nimach and Pawagarh.

12.Jhala Kshatriya:

Gothra – Kashyap.

Ved – Samved.

Kuldevi – Durga, Mahakali.

Isht – Mahadev.

Veer Kundmal, Harpal, Vijaypal were from this vansha.

States – Kuntalpur, Sekhrigarh, Krantigarh, Bikaner, Kathiyawarh, Jhalawarh, Limdi. When the three prince of Raja Harpal and Rani Shaktidevi were playing, an elephant lifted them. Rani Shaktidev catched them (“Jhel lena” in hindi) in her hands and from then this vansha is named Jhala.

13.Palwar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Vayaghra.

Ved – Samved.

Dev – Nag.

As they lived in Pali village, this vansha is named as Palawar.

14.Gangavanshi Kshatriya:

Gothra – Kanvayan.

Ved – Samved.

This vansha was named after Raja Gangeya. The famous Jagannath temple at Puri was build by this vansha. This vansha also has its own calender.

15.Biladariya Kshatriya:

Gothra – Atri.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Yogeshwari. Raja Bhogpal migrated to Biladar and thereafter this vansha comes into existance.

16.Puruvanshi Kshatriya (Paur):

Gothra – Bahryasptya.

Ved – Yajurved.

Devi – Durga.

Devta – Shiv.

Paurav (Poras) was the son of King Ila. He fought with Alexander at the basin of river Jhelum. Branch – Bhardwaj.

17.Khaati Kshatriya:

Gothra – Atri, Bhardwaj.

Kuldevi – Durga. They are the Kshatriya from Garhwal. Kursela was their state. They are Bihari Kshatriya.

18.Kanhvanshi Kshatriya:

Gothra – Bhardwaj.

Ved – Samved.

Kanhvansha begins from Raja Kanhsingh. The city of Kanpur is founded by them. Kaithola was their capital.

Branch – Kanpuria.

19.Kuruvanshi Kshatriya:

Gothra – Bhardwaj.

Ved – Yajurved.

Devta – Bandi. Kuruvansha begins fromm Raja Kuru and Yaduvansha begins from Raja Yadu.

20.Katouch Kshatriya:

The fort and temple of Kangra (Himachal) was build by Katouch Kshatriya Vansha. The temple of Ambika devi is situated inside the fort.

Branch – Jaswal, Guleria.

21.Banafar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Koundilya, Kashyap.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Sharda. King Daksharaj and Bachharaj belongs to this vansha. Brave Alha and Udal were their sons also known as Malkhan and Sulkhan respectively. Pathania is their branch.

22.Bhardwaj Kshatriya:

Gothra – Bhardwaj.

Ved – Samved.

Kuldevi – Sharda. Bhardwaj vansha begins from king Puru.

23.Sarniha Kshatriya:

Gothra – Bhardwaj.

Kuldevi – Durga.

They belongs to Sarangarh and hence called as Sarniha Kshatriya.

Branch – Karmwar/Karamwar.

Drahyavanshi Kshatriya: This vansha begins from Raja Drahayu, the thirt brother of Raja Yadu. Tripura was their capital. This vansha is from Bengal.

24.Choukatkhamb Kshatriya:

This vansha found its name (Choukatkhamb) as the used to break apart the pillars (Khamb) of the Rath of enemy to defeat them.

Branch – Bachhil.

Note: Gargvanshi, Bachhil, Jadeja, Bundela, Jaiwar, Katiaar etc are also comes in Chandravansha.


1.Parmar Kshatriya:

Pramar, Parmar, Pambubar.

Gothra – Vashishtha.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Sinchimaay Mata, Durga in North India, Kali in Ujjain.

Their ancient capital was Chandrawati, situated 4 miles away from Abu station. This vansha evolves out from the Agni Kunda of Yagya on the Abu mountain.”Parajan Marithi Parmar” means “Vansha which defeats the enemy” hence it is called Parmar. Great Brave king Vikramaditya, Raja Bhoj, Shalinivahan, Gandharwasen were from this vansha.

States – Malwa, Dharanagari, Dhar, Devas, Narsinghgarh, Ujjain. Samrat Vikramaditya was also recognised as a great ruler by the muslim community. According to the book Shayar ul Okul at Makab e Sultania, His glory was written on a golden plate kept at Kaba. It is also mentioned in Shayar ul Okul that Khushnuba dhoop was the giving of Vikramaditya. The entire world knows that Shivling and Kutubminar were build in Kaba by Vikramaditya.

Parmar Kshatriya has 35 branches which includes Pawar, Baharia, Ujjainia, Bholpuria, Sounthia, Chawda, Sumda, Sankla, Doda, Sodha, Bharsuria, Yashoverma, Jaivarma, Arjunvarma etc.

King Umravsingh, Jaiprakashsingh, Babusahabjadasingh were belongs to Ujjaini Kshatriya. The great Kunwarsingh Mahaveer was the son of Babusahabjadasingh.

2.Solanki Kshatriya:

Gothra – Bhardwaj, Manavya, Parashar.

Ved – Yajurved.

Kuldevi – Kali.

In South India they are also known as Chalukya or Choulukya. Kings Prithvidev, Madansingh was from this vansha. Madanakul was build by King Madansingh. King Chandradeep Narayan singh also from this vansha who build an ashram for Mahatma Gandhi on his own land. This ashram is known as Hajipur congress ashram.

States – Ayodhya, Kalyan, Andhra, Paatan, Gangatat. Solanki Kshatriya has 16 branches which includes Baghela, Baghel, Solanke, Kataria, Sikharia, Sarakia, Bharsuria, Tantia etc.

This vansha is existed from 1079.

3.Parihar Kshatriya:

Gothra – Kashyap.

Kuldevi – Chamunda.

Isht – Lord Vishnu. The first king from this vansha was Nagbhatta.

The great king Harishchandra was also from this vansha. He has two wifes, one was a Brahmin and the other was Kshatriya.

States – Kathiwarh, Ayodhya, Kurukshetra to Banaras, Bundelkhand, upto Himachal.

This vansha has 19 branches which includes Surawat, Chandrawat, Gajkeshar, Badkeshar, Chandrayan, Kalhansa etc. The state of Kalhansa Kshatriya was at Basti (U.P.). Many kings were born in this vansha. Chopra Kshatriya vansha is also one of its sub-branch. This vansha is existed from 894.

4.Chouhan Kshatriya:

Gothra – Vatsa.

Ved – Samved.

Kuldevi – Ashipuri.

Guru – Vashishtha.

Isht – Mahadev.

Devta – Shrikrishna.

Samrat Prithviraj Chouhan, Lakha (1451) were from this vansha.

States – Bundi, Kota, Sirohi, Asthir. Delhi, Ajmer, Bhadoch, Dholpur was also come under their regime. They build beautiful lakes. Samrat Prithviraj Chouhan defeated Mohammad Ghori several times and forgive him later 16 times. The coward Mohammad Ghori deceitfully arrested Prithviraj Chouhan and take out both his eyes. Like Arjun, Prithviraj Chouhan was very fluent in his verbal approach. There are many other kings also belongs to this vansha.

Chouhan Kshatriya Vansha has 25 branches, sub-branches includes Hada, Khinchi, Bhadoria, Songar, Songara, Devra, Rajkumar, Sambharia, Gadharia, Bhurecha, Balecha, Tassera, Chachera, Bhawar, Bankat, Bhople etc. Chouhan vansha existed from 1067.

5.Hada Kshatriya:

Gothra – Vatsa.

Devi – Ashapuri.

Guru – Vashishtha.

Ved – Samved.

King Maniklal was from Hada vansha. One of the famous personality from this vansha is Ramdeva. Hada Kshatriya Vansha is also popularly known as Hadouti.

States – Bundi, Kota. There is a history of Brave Hada Rani.

Branches – Udawat, Devra, Devre, Jaitawat, Chandrawat.

6.Songira Kshatriya:

Gothra – Vatsa.

Kuldevi – Chandi.

Ved – Samved.

King Kirtipal, Samarsingh, Udaysingh, Samantsingh, Kanhdev, Maldev belongs to this vansha. The fort of Jalor was captured by this vansha. The mother of Maharana Pratap was from this vansha.

Branch – Bhadoria. Songira Kshatriya is a branch of Chouhan Kshatriya.

7.Baghel Kshatriya:


Gothra – Bhardwaj, Kashyap.

Ved – Yajurved.

Devi – Kali. This vansha derive its name from their ancistor Vyaghradev. Many brave perfonalities were born in this vansha.

State – Madarv, Pandu, Pothapur, Nayagarh, Ranpura etc. This is a branch of Solanki. Branch of Baghel Kshatriya is Pawar.

8.Bhadoria Kshatriya:

Gothra etc. are the same as that of Chouhan Kshatriya. They ruled on Bhadawar and hence named as Bhadoria. This is a branch of Songara.

9.Bachgoti Chouhan Kshatriya:

They derived mis-spelled name from Vatsa Gotri and called themselves as Bachgoti Kshatriya. Rajkumar and Rajwar are their branches.

10.Khinchi Kshatriya:

Gothra – Vatsa and Goutam is also found.

Ved – Samved.

Devi – Bhagwati.

Kings Bhagwatrai, Gugalsingh and Jaisingh were from this vansha. Khinchipur was their state. Raja Bhagwatrai has translated 7 stories of Ramayana into poems very beautifully. He has also written Hanuman Pachhisi.

This is a branch of Chouhan Kshatriya.

11.Dogra Kshatriya:

They are the natives of Kashmir.

Gothra – Kashyap.

States – Jammu, Balia.

Other Vansha (Kul):

Negi Kshatriya, Katnaas etc. are also Agnivanshi Kshatriya.


They are also called as family goddess. It is told that some 64 Charan kanya became Sati, in process of saving that kul (nukh). We have 12/13 kuldevis for our various surnames (kul).

Here I am trying to give as many details as possible about them. Also I will tell you which matajis have a vahan(vahan= Animal they travel with)

Here are surnames with there kuldevis:

  1. Parmar(Rana-vadvala),Bhundia,Solanki,Wadhia(wanza)=Chamunda maa


Dhanani,Virparia,Chandaria,Bid,Mamania=Sachai mataji

3.Chheda, Nagda= Amba maa

4.Pattani,Gala,Galayai,Pathad=Sri Vishal mataji and saval mataji

5.Gangar,Bhawsar Kshtriya samaj= Sri Hingraj maa

6.Gosrani=Sri Dadal Mataji

7.Harania= Sri Malan Mataji

8.Shethia= Chakreshwari maa

9.Mandalia= Sri Pithdai maa (Pithad mataji)

10.Bharakhada,Karia:Harsiddhi maa

11.Sri Tulja Bhavani Mataji kuldevi of Nandha

12.Balvimaa ,vara kutums and desai kutums kuldevi alsokhatri Kakaiya kuldevi mandirs Varotra,vervade,Balva,kutyana,vasavada.Makwana (luhar)= Balvi mataji

13.Thanki, Dave, Pandit,Bardai Brahmanis,Chauhan, Jadejas= Sri Ashapura maa

14.Bhokataria, Haria, Gudhka,Maru,Dodhia,Malde, Bhanvad-Parmar, Vadher :Momai Maa(Dasha maa)

15.Nayi,Valand: Sri Limbach Mataji

16.Kadva-Patidar: Umiya Maa

17.Gosai:Bahuchar mataji

18.Chudasama:Khodiyar Maa

19.Katwa : Shree Brahamani Mataji

20.Kotecha, Sodha,Ruparel,Savjani :Randal mataji

  1. Jethwas= Vindhyavasini




2.Sumaria,nagaria,Jhanakaria,Karania,Gada, Dhanani,Virparia,Chandaria,Bid,Mamania=Sachai mataji

4.Pattani,Gala,Galayai,Pathad=Sri Vishal mataji and saval mataji

6.Gosrani=Sri Dadal Mataji

8.Shethia= Chakreshwari maa

10.Bharakhada,Karia:Harsiddhi maa

12.Balvimaa ,vara kutums and desai kutums kuldevi alsokhatri Kakaiya kuldevi mandirs Varotra,vervade,Balva,kutyana,vasavada.Makwana (luhar)= Balvi mataji

14.Bhokataria, Haria, Gudhka,Maru,Dodhia,Malde, Bhanvad-Parmar, Vadher :Momai Maa(Dasha maa)

16.Kadva-Patidar: Umiya Maa

18.Chudasama:Khodiyar Maa

20.Kotecha, Sodha,Ruparel,Savjani :Randal mataj

22.Jhalas= Sri Shakti maa.

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10 Responses to “Kshatriya’s 36 Kuls and Full details of all Kshtriyas and Rajputs”
kutchitihasparisad Says:
October 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
Turha Rajputs
The Turha are Hindu caste, found in the state of Bihar in India. They are also known as the Tomar

History and origin

The Turha claim to have belonged to the Tomar Rajput community, who arrived from Rajasthan some five hundred years ago. After suffering a defeat, the Tomar took growing and selling vegetables, to disguise their Rajput identity. Over time Tomar was corrupted to Turha. They are found mainly in Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur districts, with a few also found in the neighbouring Terai region of Nepal, eastern U.P. and western Bihar. They speak Bajjika, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Hindi. [2]

Present circumstance

The Turha are divided into a number of lineages known as khandans. Marriages are forbidden within the khandan. The largest khandan is the Palak Turha. There main occupation remains the growing and selling of vegetables, and have much in common with the Mali, another community of a similar status. [3]


Tomara dynasty Rajput & Gurjar Clan: Tomar / Tanwar / Tuar

Vansh: Chandra Vansh

Lineage: Som or Chandra – Yayati – Puru – Hasti – Ajamidh – Kuru – Shantanu – Dushyant – Yudhisthira – Arjuna – Kshemaka – Tungpal – Anangpal

Branches: Pathania, Janjua, Jarral, Janghara, Jatu, Jaraita, Satraura, Raghu, Rulers Of Indraprastha, Uttar Kuru, Dilli, Nurpur, Tanwarawati / Torawati, Gwalior, Kayasthapad, Dholpur, Tuargarh.

Gotra: Atri/Kashyap

Ved: Yajurved

Kuldevi: Yogeshwari (or Jogeshwari) maata, Sarund maata

Isht Dev: Sri Krishna

Kul Devta: Shivji

Original Seat (Mul Kheda): Hastinapur

Shankh: Dakshinavarti

Nagada (beating drum for War): Ranjeet

River: Gomati

Flagpole (in war): Hanumanji on flagpole

Throne, Canopy and Sign Color: Square Green with Moon on it

Mantra: Gayatri Mantra, Gopal Mantra

Tilak: Ramnandi

Mala: Rudraksha

Mountain Range: Dronanchal

Bird: Garuda

Devak (Clan Object): Guler Tree, also called ‘Udumbar’, or ‘Umbar’ tree.

The Tomaras (also called Tanwar and Toor) are believed to be an ancient clan of the Chandravanshi lineage and descendants of Som and Ila, Yayati, Nahush, Puru, Kuru, Dushyant, Arjuna, Kshemaka, Tungpal, Tome lineage.

History According to legend and the puranas, Tomara’s are the descendants of the Pandava Prince Arjun, through his great grandson Emperor Janamejaya, son of Emperor Parikshit. Tomara clans include kshatriyas -Rajput, Jatt and Gurjar’s. Historian Dr. Augustus Hoernle believes that Tomara’s were one of the ruling clan of the Gurjaras (or Gujjars) in the Gujara-Pratihara era of North India- 4th – 8th century A.D.

Lord Krishna displays his Vishvarupa (Universal Form) to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Pandavs Prince Dhritrashtra, blind by birth and the elder son of Kuru Scion Vichitraveer abdicated the throne in favor of his younger brother Pandu whose sons were the Pandav’s. King Pandu later abdicated the throne back to his elder brother due to his ill health. Their son’s were involved in a great battle and finally Yudhishtra became the king after defeating Duyodhana. King Yudhishtra founded the city of Indraprastha in the Kuru kingdom and later abdicated in favour of Parikshit, the grandson of his brother Arjuna. Capital city after Mahabharata war remained Hastinapur which was later flooded and the capital of the Pandava kingdom was moved eastwards. Indraprastha remained one of the major cities of Kuru-Panchala Empire for many centuries.

Dilli (DELHI) The modern city of Delhi is believed to be on the site of Indraprastha. Delhi was established in 736CE by the Tomar/Tuar king Anangpal Tomar-I who re-established the Pandava ancestral capital. “The Kingdom of Delhi was founded by Anangpal Tomar, whose dynasty, by virtue of descent from the Pandavas, claimed to be Lords Paramount of India” —From A Pageant of India by Adolf Simon Waley

Anangpal Tomar The Tomar Rajput dynasty of Delhi lasted until Anangpal Tomar-III, who to quote Lt. Col. Tod, in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan was “justly entitled to be termed the paramount sovereign of Hindustan”. Anangpal Tomar III appointed his grandson (daughter’s son, and son of King of Ajmer), Prithviraj Chauhan, as the heir apparent. Some historians believe that Prithvaraj was merely a caretaker king as long as his grandfather was alive. Prithviraj was never crowned in Delhi, hence adding weight to the view that the Chauhan ruler usurped the throne from his maternal grandfather.[citation needed]. Anangpal Tomar III had 23 brothers and they each had territory of their own. According to records kept by Jagas of Tomar/ Tanwar Rajputs, King Anangpal made Prithviraj only as caretaker when he went on a religious pilgrimage, as his own sons were very small at that time. When King Anangpal returned, Prithviraj refused to hand over the kingdom. (Jagas are hereditary tribal record keepers of Rajputs.)

Following their loss of control at Delhi after the defeat at Tarain of the Indian Confederacy against Shahbuddin Ghori, a branch of the Tomar clan established itself in the area of modern Gwalior in northern Madhya Pradesh. Later – Virsingh Deo and his descendant Man Singh Tomar built a strong fortress citadel which still stands there. The Mughal emperor Akbar captured Gwalior in 1559. Some Tomar Rajputs converted to Islam during the Muslim-Mughal rule; Tomar Muslim Rajputs are found in western Rajasthan, Pakistan and Sindh.

Tomars in north India Tomars moved from Delhi to Haryana (Bhiwani, Mahendergarh and Karnal Districts), Madya Pradesh (Gwalior, and Morena and Bhind Districts), Punjab, and Rajasthan (Patan State and surrounding areas). They are spread from Punjab, to Western Uttar Pradesh (Meerut, Badaun, Bareilly, Baraut, Muzaffarnagar Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Bulandshahr), Bewar (Mainpuri) significant parts of Himachal Pradesh, to western Rajastan to Northern Madhya Pradesh, Bhavnagar (Gujrat) and even some in Pakistan.

Vikramaditya Samrat Vikramaditya, king of Ujjain, won his paramount place in Indian story by driving out Scythian invaders. An era, the Vikram Samvat, beginning in B.C. 57, was founded in honor of his achievements. He reigned at Ujjain in Malwa. He was a liberal ruler, a patron of learning, encouraged art. He was a follower of the Brahmanical religion, a worshiper of Siva and Vishnu. This great Vikramaditya of the year 56 BC is claimed to be a prince of the Tuár dynasty, and is supposed to have reigned at Ujjain (Ujjáyini). According to the Hindu traditions in India and Nepal, the widely used ancient calendar is Vikrama Samvat or Vikrama’s era. This is said to have been started by the legendary king following his victory over the Sakas or Synthians, in 56 BC.

Shakhas or Sub-Clans Jatu Rajputs These are descendents of Thakur Jatu singh and now inhabit surrounding villages of Bhiwani (Haryana). It is believed that there were 1440 villages of Tanwar Rajputs from Bhiwani to Agroha. However, now there are not that many villages left but there still are a significant number of villages of Tanwar Rajputs. A few famous ones are Bawani Khera, Bapora, Luhari Jatu and Tigrana, Ratera (Ratangarh in past) Chhapar, Devsar, Haluwas, Paluwas, are a few bigger villages in District Bhiwani.

The three brothers Jatu, Raghu and Sutraola divided amongst themselves the Parganah of Hansi’, each share was called a Tappa and the names Tappa Jatu, Tappa Raghu and Tappa Sutraola were for years used in the Government Records which divisions are well known to this day. The descendants of the three brothers went on as opportunity afforded adding to their possessions. Those of Jatu’s were the most extensive. Umr Singh of the family took Tosham hence that Ilaqua (Area) was known as Umrain tappa. Similarly Bhiwani was called Bachoan tappa after Bacho who had taken possession of it. Jatu’s descendants at Sewani were called Raes, those at Tulwundi were called Ranas hence the village is still called and recorded as Tulwundi Rana, while those at Kulheri called Chowdris and Pica still retain these titles.

Janghára Rajputs Known as a large and turbulent branch of the Tomar/Tuar Rajput clan, the Janghara Rajputs were readily recruited by the British Indian Army. The turbulent nature of the tribe is further enhanced by the origin of the name Janghara being derived from the words, Jang (war) and Ahára (hunger) meaning “the men who hunger for war”. After the fall of Delhi to the Chauhans, the Janghara sept parted from the main Tomar branch in disgust. They entered Rohilkhund under the leadership of the prince Dhápu Dhám whose warlike nature was proverbial. A couplet sung by women of the clan states “Neeche Darti upar Ram, beech mein lade Dhapu Dham” meaning “Below is Earth, above is Lord Ram. Between the two, fights Dhápu Dhám”

The Janghara Rajputs of Bareilly claim to have ejected the Gwálas in 1388CE. in 1405CE they expelled the Ahirs from their Kingdoms. The Katehriya Rajputs were also defeated and exiled from Rohilkhund by the Janghara Rai’s . “The Jangháras have always been turbulent and warlike; they should furnish the (British Indian) army with some excellent recruits” —Handbook on Rajputs.

Jarral Rajputs Originally a branch of Tomar/Tuar Rajputs, they gained prominence after their conversion to Islam in the 12th century. They are descendants of Pandavas and ruled a certain territory of Northern India from a place later came to be known as Kalanaur. They fought against Muhammad Ghor in both the battles of 1191 and 1192 joining Prithviraja Chauhan of Ajmer. They were ferocious and battle hardy Rajputs. Even after conversion they were fond of battles and seized Rajauri from the Pal rulers in 1193 AD.

Jarrals enjoyed fighting the Afghans, the Sikhs, the Dogras and the British and never rested but expanded their state in great length and width of the Punjab Hills. They were ousted from Rajauri State by the combined forces of Sikhs, Dogras and British in 1846. Later, knowing their feats of bravery and courage, the British befriended with them that helped them great in the latter years. It is one of the highest castes of Tomar but due to conversion to Islam were excommunicated by the clan and were not mentioned by the Sagas who note, maintain and narrate rajput family trees. They reside in India, Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab and other parts now in Pakistan. The descendents of Jarral Rulers reside in Musaman Burj, Wazirabad in Pakistan.

Pathania Rajputs Descendants of Raja Jhet pal, younger brother of Jaipal tuar of Delhi. Established his kingdom at Paithan, now called pathankot. Their kingdom was called Dhameri which was later renamed Nurpur. Famous for their resistance against foreign rule, which they proved by giving battle to invaders till 1849 A.D., after which the Kingdom was annexed by the British, the Raja being a minor. This clan has to its credit three Maha Vir Chakra winners in the Indian Army. This clan has also won many other gallantry awards while serving in the British army of India.

Janjua Rajputs The Janjua Rajput clan claim descendancy from the Pandava dynasty through the Pandav Prince Arjun. Prince Arjun, known as the Achilles of India, was famous for his valour. He was eulogised in the Mahabharata epic as the perfect Kshatriya warrior. He conquered many powerful kingdoms in the Mahabharata epic and was the main lead in the battle field of Kurukshetra. Arjun’s great grandson, Maharaja Janamejaya, is an apical ancestor of the Janjuas. Janamejaya was later the ruling Emperor of the Kingdom of Hastinapur, the capital of which was Indraprasta (modern day Delhi). Regarding the Janjuas descent from the Pandavas dynasty, the Bali and Bhimwal generals of Raja Dhrupet Dev of Mathura, recorded that the Janjua Raja Dhrupet Dev was the descendant of Emperor Janamejaya of the Pandava dynasty of Prince Arjun. Sir Lepel H Griffin K.C.S.I. had also recorded in the early 1900s that the Janjua were Pandavas in origin.

Beruari Beruari/Beruar/Birwar is one of the most dominating rajput sub caste of eastern UP. According to local sources, area of present days Balia and Mirzapur district was once governed by Sudras of Berua caste. A tomar prince defeated them and established the rule of dharma. He and his decedents later called as Berua+ari (Beruari), i.e., enemy of Beruas. There are many villages of this clan in Mithilanchal (Bihar) also. Hati is one of the prominent village of this clan. They are being treated as Amnekh (Superior) rajput clan in Bihar. Others Sub Branches – Birwar, Badwar, Katiyar, Jinwar, Indoria Kshatriya and Tirota Kshatriya. Indoria Kshatriya has branches – Raikwar, Jaiswar/Jaswar.

Baba Ramdevji Tanwar MAHARAJA RAMDEVJI TANWAR Baba Ramdevji, the Holy Sage from Runicha, Rajsthan also known as Ram Pir. Born in 13th Century was a great social reformer and propounder of peace and equality. An yearly mela is held in Ramdevra in Jaisalmer District 118 km from Jaisalmer in his remberance where devotees from Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat and Punjab participate.

Major Tomar kingdoms Indraprastha (Now called Delhi) The bastion of Lal Kot fort, Mehrauli, Delhi, built by Tomar Rajput ruler, Anangpal in ca 736 CE. Founding of Delhi by Tomars Pasanaha Chariu of Vibudh Shridhar (VS 1189-1230) an Apabhramsha writer, provides the first reference to the legend of the origin of the name Dhilli for Delhi.

There are countless villages in Haryana country. The villagers there work hard. They don’t accept domination of others, and are experts in making the blood of their enemies flow. Indra himself praises this country. The capital of this country is Dhilli.

The ruler Anangapal is famous, he can slay his enemies with his sword. The weight (of the Iron pillar) caused the Nagaraj to shake.

Old Fort and lake outside it, Delhi A VS 1383 inscription in Delhi Museum confirms the founding of Delhi by the Tomars:

Prithviraj Raso also confirms the founding by the Tomars and the legend of the loose nail (i.e., the Iron pillar):

Iron pillar of Chandragupta with an inscription by Anangpal I Today Gurjars have around 20 villages of Tomar or Tanwar Gujjars in and around Delhi which makes the perception strong that this was originally a Gurjar clan. These Gurjar Tanwars proved to be the toughest repellents to the Britishers in 1857 during the first war of independence. They captured the Matcalfe house for 12 days cutting all supplies to British Armies and declaring independence for Delhi (though for a small period of time only).

Gwalior A major Tomar kingdom in central India.

Torawati Patan Located in Rajasthan, Haryana border. The kings of Torawati Patan are descendants of Anangpal Tomar, king of Delhi. They have ruled since the fall of Delhi in 1192 A.D. under Prithviraj Chauhan.

Dholpur Dolpur was founded by Raja Dholan Deo Tomar in 1004 A.D., his descendants were ruling in the time of Babar and surrendered to Humayun. Dholan deo Tomar held the country between rivers Chambal and Banganga in early eleventh century.

Hastinapur Ancient capital of Kuru kings.

Gwalior Gwalior Fort built by the Tuar Rajputs of Gwalior Tomars of Gwalior Anangpal II/AnayPal A.D. 1046 (A.D. 1052 – inscription on the Iron pillar at Mahrauli), grandson of Jeypal Tuar Bhumpal Tomar A.D. 1081, Settled in Narwar area (Near Gwalior) Mahendra pal Tomar A.D. 1105 Hirapal Tomar A.D. 1130 Baghpal Tomar A.D. 1151 Pritam Pal Tomar A.D. 1175 Dilip Pal Tomar A.D. 1200 Bir Pal Tomar Anup pal Tomar Sonpal Tomar Sultanpal Tomar Kunwar pal Tomar Brahmdev Tomar A.D. 1350 Note- In some genelogy listings, Brahmpal is shown as descendant of Anangpal III (or Daktpal, the last Tomar king of Delhi) Virsingh dev A.D. 1375 Tomars Kings of Gwalior Virsingh dev or Bir Sing Deo A.D. 1375 (1432 V.S.). a Zamindar of Dandroli, captured fort from a Sayyid King of Gwalior.[41] Uddhharan Dev, Brother of VirSingh Dev, ruled for some time. Lakshman dev Tomar Viramdev A.D. 1400 (1457 V.S.) s/o Virsingh Dev. Ganapati Dev Tomar A.D. 1419 Dugarendra (Dungar) Singh A.D. 1424, consolidated Gwalior as a major power of central India. KirtiSingh Tomar A.D. 1454, Fought with Rana Kumbha of Mewar against Muhommadan Kings of Malwa (Mehmood Khilji). Mangal Dev was yougner son of Kirti Singh and had and estate of 120 villages in Dhodri and Amba of Tomargarh, he tried to recapture Gwalior after the fall of Tomars in A.D. 1516. Kalyanmalla Tomar A.D. 1479 Man Singh Tomar A.D. 1486, Musician and father fo Dhrupat Gharana. greatest of the Tomar Kings of Gwalior. Vikramaditya Tomar A.D. 1516, A.D. 1518- Ibrahim Lodhi captured Fort Gwalior. Ramshah Tomar A.D. 1526, Ousted from Gwalior, fought at Haldighati with Maharana Pratap. Salivahan Tomar – A.D. 1576 fought at Haldighati for Maharan Pratap. LATER Tomar Kings of Gwalior Salivahan Tomar – A.D. 1576 fought and killed at Haldighati for Maharan Pratap. Shyam Shah Tomar – A.D. 1595, accepted Akbar as suzerain and held Gwalior Fort.[42] Mitra Sen, brother of Shyam Shah, for sometime he held gwalior fort. Sangram Shah Tomar A.D. 1670 (Raja of Gwalior) Kishen Singh Bijay Singh, sought refuge in Mewar Uday Singh, sought refuge in Mewar Narayandas Tomar Torawati – Patan, Rajasthan

Sri Krishna – Isht Devta of Tanwar Rajputs. Established by King Anangpal II while he was ruler at Delhi, Patan is a city in Rajasthan ruled by the Tomars since 12th Century AD. Patan was capital of Tanwarawati or Torawati state. It is one of the oldest remaining states still ruled by the Tanwar’s who are direct descendants of Anang Pal Tomar.

Chronology of Tomar rulers at Patan Rao Salunji (Saalivaahan), fought Khilji Kings for 12 years, son of Anangpal II, last Tomar king of Delhi. Rao Nihaalji Rao Dothji (Dohthaji) Rao Popatraj ji Rao Peepalrajji (fought against Bhinvraj Sankhla of Bihar and killed him, founded Patan Fort) Rao Ranaji Rao Alsiji (Aasalji) Rao Kamalji (Kavarsi) Rao Mahipalji Rao Bhopalji, founded the Sarun Mata Temple in 1276 VS/ 1332 AD, the temple of Kuldevi of Tanwar Rajputs. Rao Bachrajji Rao Bhaadarji Rao Bahadur Singhji Rao Prithvirajji Rao Kalyaan Ji Rao Kumbhaaji Rao Baharsiji Rao Jagmaalji Rao Purnamalji Rao Laakhanji Rao Loonkaranji Rao Kanwalrajji (Kevalji), married and had issue. Rao Udoji, heir apparent, moved away from Patan and established Thikana Gaonri (or Gaondi), and was ancestor of the Thakur Sahebs of Mandholi, Gaonri, Puranabas. Rao Aasalji (qv) Rao Kheebu (Pevji) Rao Sahamalji Rao Karpooriji Rao Beekoji Rao Chhotaa Aasalji Rao Balbhadra Singhji Rao Dalpat Singhji Rao Pratap Singhji Rao Kesri Singhji (Sinhraj) Rao Fateh Singhji Rao Jaswant Singhji Rao Ghaasiramji Rao Bamsiramji Rao SAMRATH SINGHJI -/1757 Rao SAMPAT SINGHJI 1757/1790 – Battle of Patan, De Boignes the French bigot defeated Rajput confederacy at Patan and took all the gold from Patan Fort. Rao JAWAHAR SINGHJI 1790/- Rao LAXMAN SINGHJI Kunwar Pratab Singhji Rao Mukund Singhji Rao KISHAN SINGH -/1873 Rao MUKUND SINGH 1873/-, born about 1862, son of Kunwar Pratap Singh, younger brother of # Rao Kishan Singh. Rao KHUMAN SINGH, married and had issue. Rao MAHARAJ SINGH Rao Sahib UDAYA SINGH, married 1928 in Kathmandu, Rani Thagendra Rajya Lakshmi Kumari Devi, daughter of Gen. HH Shri Tin Maharaja Mohun Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal, Prime Minister of Nepal. Rao Sahib BIR BIKRAM SINGHJI -/1991, born 18 August 1932, married 28 April 1960, Rani Sahiba Raghuraj Kumari [presently the Rajmata Sahiba of Patan], daughter of Maharaj Pratap Singhji of Bhupalgarh (Mewar). Rao Sahib DIGVIJAY SINGHJI, Rao of Patan and Head of the Tomar clan in India, since 11 September 1991.

Buhana Bhawani singh, Founder of Buhana (Jhunjhunu)in 1234. Baba Umad Singh (Maharaj), lok Devta (Saint) of Buhana, Dist Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan), now Baba Umad Singh Seva & Vikash Samiti. Rao Lakhaji Tanwar (1523–1544) of Gaonri Captured Mandholi from Jat Rulers, placed Inderpalji Tanwar at Mandholi. Maonda kalan: Two brothers Shyamdasji and Sunderdasji moved from Gaonri and founded Maonda Kalan. There Jagirdari was spread over twelve villages from Dudas on one side to Purana Baas. One of the sons of Sunderdasji moved from Maonda Kalan and founded Dantil. Banethi: Near Kot Putli, Rajasthan Gaonri (or Gaondi)

Nurpur Founded in the 11th century (1095 A.D.), by Raja Jhet Pal, younger brother of the Ruler of Delhi (Anaypal Tomar). Originally known as Dhameri, name changed to Nurpur by Jehangir in honor of Queen Nur Jehan. Rulers at Pathankot Raja Jhetpal Pathania, a yougner brother of Tomara[45] king of Delhi. Raja Khetrapal Raja Sukhin Pal Raja Jagat Pal Raja Ram Pal Raja Gopal Raja Arjun Pal Raja Varsh Pal Raja Jatan Pal Raja Vidurath Pal Raja Jagan Pal Raja Kirat Pal Raja Kakho Pal Raja JAS PAL 1313/1353, married and had issue, 9 sons, each of whom was progenitor of a branch of the Pathania family. Raja Kailas Pal 1353/1397 Raja NAG PAL 1397/1438 Raja PRITHI PAL 1438/1473 Raja Bhil Pal 1473/1513 Raja Bakht Mal 1513/1558, died 1558. Ally of Sikandar Sur. Raja PAHARI MAL 1558/1580, brother of Bakht Mal. Rulers at Dhameri (Nurpur) Raja BASU DEV 1580/1613, enjoyed a mansab of 1500 under Emperor Akbar, which was increased to 3500 by Emperor Jahangir, married and had issue. He died in the thana of Shahabad in 1613. Lost Pargana of Pathankot and moved capital to Dhameri. Raja SURAJ MAL Raja JAGAT SINGH Mian Madho Singh, granted the title of Raja by Emperor Jahangir. He died after 1623. Raja SURAJ MAL 1613/1618, granted a mansab of 2000. He died 1618 in Chamba. Raja Jagat Singh 1618/1646 Patronized by Jehangir, rebelled against Shah Jehan but restored, accompanied Dara Shikoh to Kandahar. Raja Rup Singh 1646/1661 Taragarh taken from him, granted 1500 mansab Raja Mandhata Singh 1661/1700 Raja Dayadhata 1700/1735 Raja Fateh Singh 1735/1770 Indar Sing – younger son. Ruler at Reh. Raja Prithvi Singh 1770/1805 Raja Bir Singh 1805/1846, born 1785, last ruling Chief of Nurpur, married a daughter of Raja Jit Singh of Chamba, and had issue. He died in Battle in, 1846 AD. Raja Jaswant Sngh 1846/1898 Raja Gagan Singh 1898/1952, 6th Viceregal Darbari in Kangra District, an honorary magistrate in Kangra District, the hereditary title of raja was conferred 15 March 1909 by the Viceroy, married and had issue. He died 1952. Raja Devendra Singh 1952 REH Mian Indar Singh of Reh, married a daughter of the Raja of Kangra, settled in that state and was ancestor of the Reh branch of the Nurpur Royal Family, married and had issue.

Dholpur The Honourable Raja Sri Pratap Arjun Singhji Tomar of Kayasthpada in his uniform of Her Majesty’s Guards.

Dholpur was founded in circa 700 AD, Raja Dholan Deo Tonwar founded Dholpur in 1004, his dynasty ruling till 1505, Sikander Lodhi Obliterating it and merging it with Mughal states. It was later captured by Mughal Babur. It was later merged with GOHAD state existing as such till 1806 when Rana Khirat Singh of Gohad (1803/1805), became the first ruler of Dholpur.

Kayasthapad, Dholpur – In 1873 Maj. HH Rais ud-Daulah Sipahdar ul-Mulk Maharajadhiraj Sri Sawai Maharaj Rana NIHAL SINGH Lokindra Bahadur Diler Jung Jai Deo of Dholpur Invited Thakur Saheb Karan Singh Ji of Musepur in 1876, from the family of the Thakur of Hussait, who were descendants of Raja Dholan Deo Tomar, and created him the Raja of Kaysathpada Thikana. He was succeeded by his son Raja Pratap Arjun Singh Tomar who was also a member of the His Majesty’s Guards. Kayasthpada family is now headed by Raja Saheb Ravendra Singh Ji Saheb Tomar who is also a well known conservationist and nature photographer with being the pioneer of the Tourism industry in Kotah. Bikaner Lakhasar, Sawantsar and Janjheu villages have some tanwar population.

Who are 96 Kuli Maratha Kshatriyas, also called Maratha Rajputs by some?

About the Maratha of the Deccan, the famous historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar wrote, “In India few can be more proud of their legacy as the Marathas as their forefathers measured swords on equal terms with the strongest and beat back the tide of Muslim conquest and defended the independence of their country against all resources of the mighty Emperor Aurangzeb. Their ancestors played a key role in shaping Indian history in its immediate past and that memory is a priceless asset to the Maratha race.”

After defeating the Marathas in the 1761 Third Battle of Panipat, the Afghan invader, Ahmedshah Abdali, wrote a letter to the then-Jaipur ruler, Madhav Singh. He said, “These dauntless blood-shedders didn’t fall short of doing great deeds on the battlefield. It was beyond the capacity of other races to fight like them.”

It was among the richest tributes to the race.  

The Maratha Kshatriya caste — which is spread over 96 clans in the Deccan and played a key role in bringing an end to Mughal rule in India — is born out of the union of the Kshatriya clans of the Deccan and some Kshatriya/Rajput clans from the north. Scions of Rajput clans like Parmar, Solanki, Chauhan, Yadava,  Sisodiya, Gaur, Jadon-Bhatti or Yadavs and Maurya left North India after the Muslim invasions and settled in Maharashtra, before entering matrimonial alliances with the local Kshatriyas. The caste born of this union came to be known as Maratha Kshatriyas or Maratha Rajputs.

However, many Solanki families who originated from the Chalukyas of South India were already in Maharashtra before the Muslim invasion. So were the Jadhavs or Jadhavrao known as Jadon-Bhatti in the north — also known as Jadeja in Kathiawad/Saurashtra and just Bhati in Rajasthan desert.

How Rajputs clans got incorporated in Maratha Kshatriyas

Many of these North Indian clans took new surnames after migrating to Maharashtra, based on location and other factors. So, Nimbalkars and Pawars of Maharashtra are Parmars. Chattrapati Shivaji’s surname, which was originally Sisodia, got changed to Bhonsle. The Ghorpades are also Sisodias. The Mauryas became More and the Maratha surname Bhoite is also believed to be descended from Bhati. Chauhan is pronounced as Chavan in Maharashtra which makes obvious the Rajput origin of the Chavans of Maharashtra, while the Phalkes are originally Tanwars and the Manes are Gaurs.

The Rathores came to rule over Baglan area of Maharashtra bordering Gujarat till the 16th century and came to be surnamed Bagul or Bagal — a very respectable clan but sparse in number. There is one Bagul Jagirdari under Kolhapur State.

The Patankars, Mahurkars and Kathikar Deshmukhs are Solankis but their surname is pronounced as Salunke. The Shinde or Scindia clan, of which the Gwalior royal family is the most prominent house, is descended from the Trilokchandi Bais clan of the Ganga-Jumna Doab, where many prominent Taluqdari families of this clan, bearing titles like Rana and Raja, can be found even today, and a large area called Baiswara is named after the clan.

Interestingly, historians believe the Trilochandi Bais clan had emigrated to the north from Mungipaithan in Maharashtra in the 10th century. The most significant connection between the Shindes and the Trilokchandi Bais is the worship of Nagdevta  (snake) — both the clans rank paramount importance to the worship of Nagdevta. 

Strong historical evidence

The well-known Gwalior historian Sardar Anandrao Bhausaheb Phalke has marshalled strong historical evidence to prove that Trilokchandi Bais and Shinde are the same clan. The most prominent amongst the Trilokchandi Bais are Rana of Khajurgaon, Raja of Muranmau and Raja of Kusmanda in Awadh area of UP.

Raja Trilokchand of Baiswada was one of the first to raise a banner of revolt against religious persecution by Delhi Sultans in the 13th century in the Gangetic-Jamuna region. But he never got the historical recognition due to him. In fact, there is a dearth of sufficient research material on the Raja. 

Significantly, some Trilokchandi Bais also believe that the great 7th century emperor, Raja Harshvardhan, was their ancestor.

The most prominent commander of the Shinde dynasty was Mahadji Shinde, who won many battles for the Maratha empire in north India between 1770 and 1794. He is also famed to have kept the British at bay from establishing complete control over India — at least two decades before they actually did.

Mahadji Shinde: The man who kept the British at bay for 20 years with his military skill and diplomacy. Shindes are said to have descended from Bais Rajputs of Uttar Pradesh. (Credit: Steel engraving by WD Taylor (1794 – 1857), after drawing by William Daniell RA (1769 – 1837); later hand coloured; via author)

Significantly, the Gujar clan is the Rajput Badgjujar clan of North India, which is also called Sikarwar, Raghav and Raghuvanshi. The Badgujars held high positions in the Mughal Sultanate. The Raja Sahab of Pahadgadh near Gwalior — a great Shikari during the pre-independence era — was a Sikarwar (Badgujar). Anoop Singh, who founded the city of Anoopshahar in Uttar Pradesh, was  Badgujar. Even Jaipur (or Amer) was ruled by Badguars before it was conquered by the Kushwahas. A prominent Badgujar was Prataprao Gujar — the famous commander of Shivaji, who laid down his life for the Maratha ruler in the 1674 battle of Nesri near Kolhapur. As a mark of recognition of Prataprao ’s sacrifice, Shivaji got his second son, Raja Ram, married to the deceased commander’s daughter Jankibai.

There is an interesting anecdote mentioned about the Phalke clan in Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan — the famous work of British historian Col. James Tod. In a footnote in the book, Tod says that he was on friendly terms “with Ramrao Phalke, a gallant commander of Maharaja Daulatrao Scindia of Gwalior.” According to Tod, the Phalke clan of Marathas was descended from Tanwar Rajputs — as conveyed to him by Ramrao. 

Statue of Prataprao Gujar in Nesari, Maharashtra. Prataprao laid down his life for Chhatrapati Shivaji. (Photo: Uday Mahurkar)

Interestingly, the Rajput connection of some of these clans can be derived from their Gotras. The Rajput Parmars of the North have the same Gotra — Vashishtha — as the Nimbalkars/Pawas of Maharashtra. The Solankis or Baghels of the north share their Bharadwaj gotra with the Salunkes of Maharashtra like Patankar, Mahurkar and Kathikar. 

Confusion still prevails

Interestingly, there is still some confusion about some Maratha clans like Rane — though they are undeniably of Rajput origin.

Ranes are found in Konkan and Goa and they had one big Jagirdari in Goa called Sankhli, from which family the former Chief Minister of Goa Pratap Singh Rane comes. In the north, “Rane” is a prefix written by Sisodias and also other Rajput clans. In Nepal, for example, Ranas claim to be Sisodias, but none of them put “Sisodia” or “Ranawat” (a branch of the Sisodias) as their clan name. In western UP, many Sisodias mention only “Rana” as their family name. In Kathiawar or Saurashtra also, many Jhala Rajputs write only “Rana” as their family name. There are Rajput clans in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab as well who also mention only “Rana”. So it’s confusing but as the Maratha surname, Rane suggests it has decidedly a Rajput origin. 

This confusion is like the one about the Maratha surname “Sawant” which is actually a title — Sawants of Ratnagiri in Konkan are actually Salunke/Solankis, and the Sawants of Sawantwadi are actually Bhonsales. Bhonsale is the same clan as Chattrapati Shivaji which has its origin in the Sisodias.

Significantly, the notion — that those Maratha Kshatriya surnames which don’t descend from northern Rajput clans are inferior in some way — is totally wrong. This is because in Shivaji’s fight for Swarajya (freedom) from the Mughal rule, many Maratha Kshatriya clans, who had no direct Rajput origin, played an important part, displaying great bravery and commitment to nationalist ideals.

These clans include Ghatge , Shitole Dabhade , Gaekwad, Mahadik , Shirke, Kadam,  Jagtap, Mohite, Ingle, Khanvilkar, Surve , Thorat , Pandhre , Bandal, Jedhe, Kakde, Dhamale, Dhumal, Marne, Maral , Pol , Pisal , Gadhwe, Nalge , Khanvilkar, known as Indulkar, Garud, Nalavde,  Kokate, Harpale, Dhamdhere, Nigade, Sawant, Hande, Shirole,  Mulik, Jedhe, and others. The Kadam clan, in fact, is one of the oldest in India — an inscription in Goa regarding the Kadams is nearly 10 centuries old!

Ramrao Phalke was a friend of British historian and army officer James Tod. Tanwar Rajputs became Phalke after migrating to Maharashtra. (Source: Chandrahasrao Phalke; via author) 

Amongst these, the Shirke clan — also called Rajeshirke — is one of the most ancient in Maharashtra. It is much respected, though it has no direct Rajput origin. Chattrapati Shivaji, his son Chattrapati Sambhaji and grandson Chattrapati Shahu had many matrimonial alliances with the Shirkes.

The British historian Grant Duff in his famous work — History of Marathas, written in 1826 — says, “Shirke clan ranks amongst the highest of Maratha nobility.”

Shivaji’s three sons-in-law hailed from Naik Nimbalkar, Raje Mahadik and Rajeshirke clans.

Members of all these Maratha clans were big and small Watandars (landholders, Inamdars and Sardars) when Shivaji rose. But they were serving Muslim Sultans of Deccan and the Mughals — it was Shivaji who showed them the path to freedom, and eventually, when the Maratha empire was founded, the leaders of some of these clans formed kingdoms in Central India.

Exploits of Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav should be taught in school

Shivaji was the greatest warrior and administrator that the clan produced. But there are many lesser-known Maratha commanders whose exploits can inspire the entire Indian nation even today. For example, Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav kept the Maratha flag flying in the South after the inhuman death that Shivaji’s son Sambhaji bravely met at the hands of Aurangzeb in 1689. Sambhaji was tortured and executed on Aurangzeb’s orders after the former refused to convert to Islam. The lives and times of such commanders should be added to history textbooks in schools. 

Santaji Ghorpade terrorised Aurangzeb with his daring warfare. Ghorpades claim to have descended from Sisodia Rajputs. (Source: Jaisinghrao Pawar; via author)

The two commanders — Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav — defeated the Mughals in so many battles in the Deccan that their mere name struck terror in the hearts of the Mughal commanders. There was a time when Aurangzeb himself was terrorised by their relentless attacks. Ghorpade, along with another young Maratha commander, Vithoji Chavan Himmat Bahadur, once almost succeeded in capturing Aurangzeb alive, which is unknown to the present generation today. There are many such great episodes in Maratha history.

What is Vaisya meaning in Hindi?
The word or phrase Vaisya refers to a member of the mercantile and professional Hindu caste; the third of the four main castes, or the third of the four varnas: the commoners or yeoman farmers or mercantile and professional category. See Vaisya meaning in Hindi, Vaisya definition, translation and meaning of Vaisya in Hindi. Learn and practice the pronunciation of Vaisya. Find the answer of what is the meaning of Vaisya in Hindi. देखें Vaisya का हिन्दी मतलब, Vaisya का मीनिंग, Vaisya का हिन्दी अर्थ, Vaisya का हिन्दी अनुवाद।

Tags for the entry “Vaisya”
What is Vaisya meaning in Hindi, Vaisya translation in Hindi, Vaisya definition, pronunciations and examples of Vaisya in Hindi. Vaisya का हिन्दी मीनिंग, Vaisya का हिन्दी अर्थ, Vaisya का हिन्दी अनुवाद

Varna system is the social stratification based on the Varna, caste. Four basic categories are defined under this system – Brahmins (priests, teachers, intellectuals), Kshatriyas (warriors, kings, administrators), Vaishyas (agriculturalists, traders, farmers ) and Shudras (workers, labourers, artisans).

What is Varna?
Varna is a Sanskrit term, derived from ‘vr’-to cover, to envelop, count, classify, consider, describe or choose.

The term is used to describe the social class divisions made in the Vedic period in the Brahminical books like the Manusmriti.

Origin of Varna system
The first mention of the Varna system was found in Purusha Suktam verse of the ancient Sanskriti Rig Veda.

Purusha is believed to be the first being constituted by a combination of the four Varnas.

Brahmins represent its mouth
Kshatriyas its arms
Vaishyas its highs
Shudras its feet.
The society is constituted to follow the varna rules in order to sustain prosperity and order.

Purpose of the Varna system
The division of the varna is to distribute the responsibilities among various people and to maintain the purity of caste and establish eternal order.

This system is believed to avoid conflicts within business and encroachment on respective duties.

Specific tasks were assigned to every particular varna citizen:
Brahmins: They provide education and spiritual leadership. They are ought to determine the vision and values of any society.

Kshatriyas: Their responsibility is to protect society and is expected to portray considerable strength of body and character.

Vaishyas: They are the productive class. Their duty is to protect animals and the land, create wealth and prosperity.

Shudras: They are the only class who are allowed to accept another employment. Their duty is the render service to other and to maintain loyalty.

Definition – What does Vaishya mean?
Vaishya is the name traditionally given to the class of people in Indian society who worked in agriculture, trade and commerce. The Vaishya comprise the third of the four social groups in the rigid Indian caste system, which divides people into hereditary groups with specific limitations and privileges, depending on where the person is on the social strata.

Although it is illegal in India today to discriminate based on caste, the system traditionally prevented those in the lower castes from improving their economic and social status. The caste system is rooted in Hinduism, but there has also been Hindu opposition to the barriers that castes present. Yoga developed outside the restrictions of society and, therefore, provided a means of salvation regardless of caste.

Yogapedia explains Vaishya
Vaishya is a Sanskrit word that translates as “settler” and derives from a word that means “to live.” As the caste, or varna, system developed, the Vaishya evolved from uneducated farmers and tradesman to skilled laborers, landowners, business owners and educated professionals who became an economic force in Indian society. Although considered members of one of the lower classes, the Vaishya traditionally have been wealthy.

The traditional castes include:

Brahmin – the priestly and teacher caste. Salvation (moksha) is achieved through Jnana yoga (learning and knowledge).
Kshatriya – the ruler and public service caste. Moksha is achieved through Karma yoga (good works).
Vaishya – the business and merchant caste. Moksha is attained through Bhakti yoga (devotion to the Divine).
Sudra/Dalit – the semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Moksha is attained through Bhakti yoga.
Hinduism offers a path to moving up the caste system via reincarnation. Someone who fulfills his/her duty (dharma) in one life may improve his/her social position in the next.


The Vaisyas are the third-highest of the four varnas or categories into which Hindu society is traditionally divided, ranking above the Sudras. Vaisya includes a large number of distinct castes of similar ranking, traditionally traders, moneylenders, or farmers. They are entitled to wear a sacred thread. It is distinctly less common to encounter castes claiming Vaisya status in Sri Lanka and south India than in the north.

The category is certainly a very ancient one, for it is referred to in the Rig Veda (c. twelfth century B . C .). Vaisyas are clearly referred to in other early hymns as being Aryas, the Indo-European invaders, rather than Dasas, the Dravidian and other Aborigines of the subcontinent. According to the Zend Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy book, there was in ancient Persia a social category called “Vastrya,” who ranked third in society below the Atharvas and Rethaesvas and bore a name that is cognate with the Sanskrit “Vaisya.” The classical Indian lawgiver Manu (c. second century A . D .) spells out the duties of the Vaisya: “to keep herds of cattle, to bestow largesses, to sacrifice, to read the scripture, to carry on trade, to lend at interest, and to cultivate land.” The economy depended on them, and the description of Manu still holds true

The Vaishyas ranks third in Indian class system and are the merchant class.

The Kshatriya occupies the second ladder of society. According to K. Dutt, the word rajanya is found in the purusasukta. This word Rajanya is synonymous to the word Kshatriya in the Sanskrit literature. The term Kshatriya is derived from ‘ksatra’, ‘rule dominion,’ and the class. Therefore it seems to have included only the chiefs and the nobles. Protecting people, performing sacrifices and making gifts are said to be the specific duties of Kshatriyas as well. During the earlier Buddhist period, this ruling class was socially supreme. But during Manu’s period, the supremacy seems to have passed to Brahmanas.

Immediately after the Brahmins it is the turn of the Kshatriyas or the warrior class. They were the ruling class and often by collaborating with the Brahmins they reigned over their kingdom. In ancient India the rulers were bound by Holy Scriptures to govern their kingdoms with justice. A Hindu ruler was the protector of his subjects. In order to protect his subjects the king needed to be an expert warrior. The word ‘kshatra’ in Sanskrit means government, power and dominion.

The Aryans were the earliest warrior classes whose reference is found in the Rig Veda: ‘praja arya jyotiragrah.’ According to this the subjects were ruled by the divine right theory. The Kshatriya dharma propagates that it is the duty of every Kshatriya to fight against injustice. It is their duty to protect the weak and their subjects. Their origin can be traced back to the Vedic Civilization. However, there is more than one theory that explains their evolution. The first version has its roots in the Hindu Mythology. According to this while the Brahma was creating the universe it was decided that a special kind of human race would have to be created to save and protect the humans. Thus the Kshatriyas came into existence.

Another theory in Rig Veda states that the Kshatriyas are made up of God’s arms. According to the doctrine the Lord’s four body parts make up the 4 classes of the society. According to Manu, the Vedic theologist, it was due to different occupations that the people were divided. Those who practiced martial arts became Kshatriyas. In earlier times the rigidity in the caste system was not much prevalent. As a result people often altered their occupations. But with the passage of time the scenario underwent change. The Varna system was not initially hereditary. It was much later that the Varna system was made hereditary.

Kshatriyas were considered to be the descendents of either Sarya, Agni or Chandra. For instance Lord Rama was Suryavanshi or the descendent of Sun Dynasty while Lord Krishna belonged to the Lunar Dynasty or Chandravansh. No matter to which family they belonged the lives of this warrior class were divided into 4 stages -‘brahmacharya’, ‘grihastha’, ‘vanaprastha’ and ‘sannyasi.’ Roots of this varna are also found in Jainism and Buddhism. Apart from these dynasties historical sources have also pointed to several non-orthodox Kshatriyas.

Owing to different reasons these were not considered as a part of the warrior class. Kingdoms, such as, Kamboja and Gandhara were Kshatriya. However, for not following the Vedas they came to be regarded as Sudras. On the other hand, certain kingdoms, like, Sakas, Darads, Pahlavas, Dravidas and others, lost their status as Kshatriya because of their neglect of the Brahmins. The saga of the warrior class does not end here. Much later in the Indian history the Rajputs were also depicted as Kshatriyas.

There were certain rules that the Kshatriya required to follow. He was not allowed to marry outside his class; joint family system was to be followed strictly and several other traditions were preeminent in the society.

The Kshatriyas were unsparing in their attack on whatever obstructed the growth of the nation and were never afraid to call a spade a spade. They respect people with courage and intelligence. Almost all the aggressive virtues were imbibed in them. The spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance and courageous attack made them perfect rulers.


An upper class in the Hindu tradition, the Vaisyas are the lowest level of the “twice-born” (dvijas ). They are commoners, but not a servant group. They undergo the sacred thread ceremony (Yajnopavita ), as do the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. But while male Vaisyas “take the thread,” it is made of a fiber different from that of the two castes above them (Brahmins and Kshatriyas). As part of the cosmic order of dharma, they have been assigned the role of merchants and craftspeople.

Vaisyas are described in the Laws of Manu (a Hindu sacred book) as being given at creation the duties to tend cattle, bestow gifts, offer sacrifices, trade, lend money, cultivate land, and study the Vedas. It is sacrilegious for a Vaisya to refuse to keep cattle. In trading it is the duty of Vaisyas to know the value of pearls, coral, metals, and other commodities.

The Laws of Manu charge Vaisyas with acquiring skills in good management of those they employ. They need to know languages, proper wages, and how to operate a business so that goods are properly stored and traded. These tasks are also to be done with exertion so that the wealth of the Vaisyas can increase, but in a righteous manner. It is also a Vaisya duty to give food to all creatures. Additionally, the Laws of Manu includes rules for accepting the testimony of Vaisyas and for their purification or their punishment in cases of adultery, murder, or other crimes.

Within the Vaisya caste there are subcastes of bakers, sheepherders, cowherders, agriculturalists, musicians, metal workers, and as well as traders and businessmen. All are people with a skill, trade, or profession.

In the myth of Purusha the Vaisyas were made from the god’s stomach. The Vaisyas resemble the Platonic people of bronze who are the people of the “belly.” They are the farmers, herders, merchants, and businesspeople who produce and distribute food and other needed goods to society.

The Bhagavad Gita assigned the Vaisyas the duties of farming, protecting the cows of India, and conducting business. Their way of life demands labor, study, sacrifice, and the giving of alms. On special days, giving to the Brahmin is a common practice. According to the Bhagavad Gita, Vaisyas are such an essential element in society that it cannot survive without them.

Vaisyas were expected to be specialists in the trading of jewelry, precious metals, spices, or other goods. They were often vegetarians and very devout practitioners of their religion. Many are devotes of Laksmi, wife of Vishnu and the goddess of wealth.

An important Vaisya subcaste are the Mahuri Vaisyas. They are believed to have emigrated from around the city of Mathura as well as from Vrindavan and Gokul to the Bengal area during the time of the Mughal Empire (1526–1827). They also comprise a religious community worshipping Mata Mathurashani Devi, an incarnation of the goddess Shakti.

Some of the Mahuri claim that they originated from the creative work of Krishna who made them as gopas and gopis (cowherders), but then gave them the task of earning their living from trading. Their surnames are derived from the names of the forest villages where they were originally placed. These surnames include Athaghara, Badgaway, Barahapuriya, Bhadani, Charanpahari, Ekghara, Gowardhan, Kandhaway, Kapasimey, Krishan-kunda, Kutariyaar, Lohani, Pawanchaudaha, Seth, Tarway, and Vaishakhiyar. Each clan has legendary stories that tell of their origins in remote areas where in some cases there are still temples dedicated to cows. Besides folklore, however, there is little that can be substantiated about them that is more than four hundred years old.

Around 1750, many Vaisyas migrated to the Chota Nagpur Plateau where they still maintain villages. Others are now located in western Bengal and Orissa. Many are also traders in New Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai (Bombay). Small numbers are located around the world.

Modern Vaisyas practice business and agriculture but with ethical practices in keeping with the modern global society. They practice environmentally sound agriculture that entails protecting the environment rather than exploiting it. This is an application of their role as cow protectors.

SEE ALSO Brahmins; Business; Caste; Caste, Anthropology of; Dalits; Hierarchy; Hinduism; Kshatriyas; Sudras

Vaishya caste is last name of many people in Indian subcontinent. Vaishya caste definition is Name of the third of the four classical castes. See Introduction. There is no Vaishya caste at present but the Bania caste are considered perhaps incorrectly to be descended from the Vaishyas.. Vaishya caste is one of the many castes subcastes of India.

India has thousands of castes and subcastes, they are in existence and practice since the Vedic times. They were created to solve the problem of division of labor. Vaishya caste name could indicate the type of work people belonging to the Vaishya caste do or did in earlier times. Many last names in India indicate the place the person originally belongs to. All castes sub castes are primarily divided into 4 categories:
1.Brahmins – The learned or priestly class
2.Khastriyas – The warrior class or those with governing functions
3.Vaishyas – The trader, agriculturalists or cattle rearers class

4.Shudra – The class that serves other three categories

Vaishya caste belongs to one of the above 4 categories. Indian caste system is the best system to solve the problem of division of labor. In earlier times there was no rigidity in caste system. Indian caste system is still the best solution for the problem of division of labor, the only change that is needed as per changed times is that rather than having a vertical hierarchical system with Brahmins on top and Shudras at bottom, it would be good to have a horizontal socialist system with Brahmins, Khastriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras all at same level.

The caste system of India is in ruins at present. It is also cause of bloody quarrels in certain parts of the rural India. People of backward castes have reservations in government jobs, this facility is widely misused in India. Many of the backward caste people have become rich and still use the facility for their benefit. Many in India believe reservation in jobs should be given on the basis of poverty rather than caste because there are many poors in upper castes as well.

Many foreginers and followers of Abrahmic religions criticize the Indian caste system because of bad material condition of lower castes but if they observe in an unbiased way they would find that there are many in upper castes with bad material conditions. The problem lies in power not in castes, power can corrupt anyone be it from upper caste or lower caste.

Secondly I have seen Abrahmic religions especially Muslims and Christians claiming that they have no caste system – It is an utter lie. All cultures, all countries, all religions have caste system in one form or the other. Christians have different churches depending on the region or language or skin color of people. Muslims have a priestly class that tries to control everything. Arab Muslims before the oil boom were so much divided among tribes that if you drank water from a well of a different tribe you could be shot dead. Tribal divisions still exists among Muslims. You can also see the caste system in a different form in your corporate companies. I had seen different food and drinking facilities for people at different levels.

Vaishya caste is also known as Vaishya Gotra.

Caste situation is quiet different in urban India, people in urban areas especially youngsters don’t bother about castes. Inter caste, inter religious, inter lingual marriages are quiet common in urban India. Inter caste, inter religious and inter lingual marriages in rural areas attract severe criticism and many times people are expelled from community for not marrying as per religious and caste rules.


Vaishya a Hindu caste. Vaisyas occupy third position and enjoy the occupations of pursuing farming, trade and commerce. Thus the economy was controlled by the Vaishyas.

The Vaisya traders and merchants transacted trade and commerce not only throughout India but also transacted businesses with the foreigners. Subsequently, various merchant classes and business communities flourished in ancient and mediaeval India.The ‘Vaisya’ community includes the Agrawal, Maheshwari, Khadelwal, Oswal, Joswal, Polwal, Das, and Mahajan. But in Bengal, their presence was always very small until the early British period. 

What is the Shudra Caste?

To understand the Shudra, also known as Sudra, caste, it is important to understand the concept of varnas. The varnas are a traditional social hierarchy traditionally in India; specifically, they comprise a caste system, which determines one’s place in society from birth. There is no movement through a caste system like there might be through a class system (wherein someone can become richer or poorer through work or marriage).

Hindu varnas can be separated into four different categories, although there are thousands of sub-divisions within these categories. The lowest caste in this system are the Shudras, which by definition are the unskilled laborers and menial workers of Hindu society. Historically, they have also been looked down upon by the other three categories.

Caste System in India

The varnas come from a story in the Rig Veda, a holy text brought by the Aryans into India around 1600 BC detailing the creation of the world. In the beginning, there was a giant named Purusha who was sacrificed and divided into four different parts by the gods.

  • From Purusha’s mouth, came the Brahmins. The Brahmins were at the top of the Indian caste system and social order and consisted of priests, scholars, teachers, and judges, and were deemed capable of interpreting the laws of the universe.
  • From Purusha’s arms came the Kshatriya. The Kshatriya were the rulers and warriors of society. This was the second highest caste in this social order.
  • From Purusha’s legs came the Vaishyas, the next caste below the Kshatriya. The Vaishyas were artisans, farmers, and traders.
  • From Purusha’s feet came the Shudras, the lowest caste in this social hierarchy. As mentioned before, these were the unskilled laborers of society, although their description overlaps with those of the Vaishyas at some points (particularly in regards to artisans and farmers). Overlap does not mean that the castes are interchangeable, however.

Life of Shudras

While India has outlawed the caste system and has made it illegal to discriminate based on caste, the caste system very much lives on in practice. The Shudras have traditionally comprised unskilled workers of society and have been expected to serve the other three varnas. They are the only caste expected to accept another’s employment and are expected to be loyal, hard workers who toil for the benefit of the other three castes. Needless to say, quality of life for Shudras is often less than that of the other three varnas. They are even discriminated against, given fewer rights, and seen as impure by the higher social classes.

In Hinduism, there is an important ritual known as upanayana, during while a male Hindu child would be initiated into the religion and begin studying certain religious texts. However, Shudras are prohibited from upanayana, although the other three castes can partake.

Challenges Faced by the Shudra Caste

Sudras experienced many challenges under the caste system. This practice would also prohibit close contact with the other castes, and even contact with their food and belongings. They are also limited from certain traditional ceremonies and studies of their religion.

Lesson Summary

To summarize, Shudras were part of the four varnas, or the four parts of the giant Purusha who was carved up by the gods early on in the world. While the Bhagavad Gita has sections on social mobility, holy texts such as the Arthashastra and the Manusmriti reinforce the caste system where your birth dictates your place in society. In this caste system, the Brahmins were at the top of the social classes. These were the priests, scholars, judges, and individuals who could interpret the laws of the universe. Next came the Kshatriyas, or warriors and policemen. Then came the Vaishyas, the peasants, farmers, and traders. Finally, the last varna was the Shudras, who were unskilled manual laborers.

While still seen above the Dalits, the untouchables who are not even in the caste system, Shudras are still heavily prejudiced against by the other castes economically, socially, and politically. Shudras are the only caste expected to serve the others and were expected to do physically demanding manual labor in doing so. Even in modern India, there are many cases of people being treated differently based on their caste.

What did the Shudras do?

Shudras did unskilled manual labor and were expected to serve the other three varnas of the caste system. They are the only caste expected to serve the other varnas.

What are Shudras not allowed to do?

Shudras cannot perform the Hindu rite of upanayana, which means that they are prohibited from studying certain ancient holy texts in the religion.

What is the role of Shudras?

The role of the Shudras is to work for the other varnas in the caste system which are the Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, and Brahmins.

How were Shudras treated in India?

Shudras, while treated better that the Dalits, were greatly discriminated against politically, socially, and economically by the other three castes.

What are the four varnas?

The four varnas are the social caste system in India. People are born into this system, and it decides where one fits in society. At the top of the social system are the Brahmins, then the Kshatriyas, then the Vaishyas, and finally the Shudras at the bottom of this caste system. The Dalits, or Untouchables, exist outside of the caste system.


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

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

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

The shudra story
Caste has very interesting dimensions and realities in this country. We have a Prime Minister who has very strategically claimed the “Other Backward Class” (OBC) identity for political gains1, when in reality he has suffered no ignominy of being a Shudra individual. On the other hand, we have a vast majority of OBCs who detest being even called Shudras while unwisely clinging onto the imaginary Neo-Kshatriya and Neo-Brahmana identities. Dr BR Ambedkar has rightly pointed out in his book Who were the Shudras (1946), “…the book is written for the ignorant and the uninformed Shudras, who do not know how they came to be what they are. They do not care how artistically the theme is handled. All they desire is a full harvest of material— the bigger the better.” Strangely enough, this statement holds true even to this day. On this note, I will briefly examine dominant castes of Karnataka to show how these communities have been trying to eliminate their Shudra identities with their upward economic mobility, without any significant upward intellectual or spiritual mobility. What was started by BR Ambedkar in Who were the Shudras is now being taken forward by prominent OBC scholars like Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. These scholars are igniting flames of rational inquiry into the minds of other Shudras, urging an exploration of the truth about their material existence and societal identities.

The non upper OBCs/Shudras constitute of about 650 million out of the total population of India, and including the upper OBCs, the numbers seem overwhelmingly big. The Mandal Commission pegs their total share in the population at 52% (1980). Yet, as Kancha Ilaiah has stated, “the Shudras remain vastly underrepresented in positions of power across all aspects of political, social and economic life, be it in government or business, religion or education. Particularly at the national level, they remain subordinate to Brahmins and Vaishyas—particularly Banias.”2 If one were to look at the caste composition of the Supreme Court Judges, over 70% of them are upper caste. This is ascertained by considering the second names of the Hon’ble Judges. An RTI was filed to the Supreme Court of India seeking this particular information, and the Additional Registrar & CPIO of the Supreme Court responded stating that the information is not maintained3. Similarly, even in Karnataka where the OBCs like Vokkaligas and Lingayats have a strong political hold, they are poorly represented in places such as the High Court of Karnataka4, and elite educational institutions5 such as the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore, Indian Institute of Science – Bangalore, and National Law School of India University – Bangalore6. This is no surprise as the Shudras, including the upper-Shudras in Karnataka, have remained backward when it comes to intellectual and scholarly pursuits. In order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to recognise how the “caste pride” operates in Karnataka amongst OBCs, which has led to their large scale marginalisation in the cultural, intellectual, spiritual and socio-political spheres of India.

The word “Shudra” means a low caste person without civilisation, without culture, without respect, and without position7. Vokkaligas and Lingayats are the land holding dominant Shudra castes of Karnataka. The term “dominant” indicate their numbers in terms of population and also, political and economic power8. Although it is said that the Shudras were a part of the Kshatriya varna in the Indo-Aryan society, they were degraded socially and placed as the last varna of the Chaturvarna system9. Since then, they have historically been restricted to menial jobs and to serve the other three varnas – Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. Their intellectual and cultural growth was curtailed viciously by the upper castes, specifically Brahmins.

The Shudras such as Vokkaligas, Lingayats, Patels, and Gujjars have traditionally been the “tillers of the land, cattle grazers, and harvesters of crops. They were also the soldiers in the service of different rulers through various periods of history10“. It’s these traditional occupations that connect them to their “dominant land holding” status in modern day India. They did not have the opportunity to learn and get educated until the British took control of India, which meant that they remained completely out of the cultural and intellectual consciousness of the country due to the hegemonic nature of upper castes/ruling classes’ social and cultural practices and their access to social and cultural capital. This process barely left any space for an alternative consciousness of the poor, deprived Shudra and Dalit masses in the social environment of the country. As social scientist KM Panikkar has noted in Culture and Consciousness in Modern India: A Historical Perspective, “Culture is a description of a particular way of life, which expresses certain meanings and values not in art and learning, but also in institutions and ordinary behaviour.” This extension of hegemony can be seen even in the freedom struggle, where most of the leading political figures were upper caste and rooted for political revolution over cultural or social revolution.

The result of this hegemonic erasure of alternative consciousness is evident even today as the Shudras do not occupy powerful and elite positions, which should have otherwise been proportionate to their share in the population. One glaring example is the share of OBCs in the lower judiciary. The numbers are so dismal and hold a mirror up to the Shudra lethargy towards educational and scholarly aspirations, despite their upward economic mobility. This lethargy is a direct outcome of their marginalisation. OBCs form just 12% of the lower court judges11, and less than 12% in central government jobs, but their share in the total population is about 52%. When such is the case, why are they proud of their caste lineage?

On the question of caste pride and social marginalisation, firstly, the dominant Shudra castes have fallen prey to the process of “sanskritisation” and upward caste mobility by brutalising the castes below them such as the Dalits and Adivasis. Secondly, they have latched on to the very process of hegemonic erasure that they were subjected to by the upper castes. As BR Ambedkar has stated repeatedly, caste system thrives on the practice of graded inequality. Shudras too were oppressed by the upper castes, but now they are the greatest oppressors of Dalits and other minority communities12. These Shudra groups have no proper understanding of their own oppressed identities and backwardness, which has made them believe that they are the Neo-Kshatriyas and Neo-Brahmanas.

In Karnataka, the Vokkaligas strongly believe that they are the Neo-Kshatriyas and take pride in their surname – “Gowda”. They use it as a weapon to terrorise caste and religious minorities13, just like the Jats and Reddys. One would find stickers stating “Gowdas”, “Kurubas” behind cars, autos, and trucks all over Karnataka. This false caste pride plays out gruesomely when young people from the community try to marry outside of their caste. It’s not just Vokkaligas, even other Shudra castes like the Kurubas indulge in similar caste name parading.

Similar yet distinct, the Lingayats tread a slightly different trajectory, but it does not mean that they have not committed atrocities time and again against Dalits in Karnataka14. Although the Lingayats are categorised as OBC by the government of India, there is a growing demand to recognise them as a separate religion divorced from the roots of Hinduism. It is important to note that Lingayats are the followers of social reformer Basavanna, who in 12th century rose up against the discriminatory Hindu caste system, mainly Brahminism, and built a new Dharma which rejected the Vedas, caste and gender discrimination15. The majority of Lingayats today have Shudra roots, and they have not escaped the viciousness of caste. It will be interesting to see what happens to their OBC status if they were to be accorded the tag of a separate religion, as granting a separate religion status doesn’t take away the structural inequalities faced by them.

Further, it is important to analyse the current status of OBC women and the impact of “caste pride” on the growing gender gap between OBC men and women and women’s participation in the workforce. There has been a significant drop in the percentage of women entering the workforce (5.8% for OBCs) according to data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) from rounds post-2004-05. Analysis of this data shows that there are multiple factors affecting women’s employment: the globalisation and deregulation of the country’s economy as well as the structural inequalities of gender and caste. The former, instead of diminishing the effects of the latter, as is often claimed it does, seems to in fact further perpetuate these inequalities. “Participation rates” of women have declined across all social divisions, SC-ST and OBC women show the highest decline, which highlights the role of the caste system; at the same time, the gender gap within each of these social categories is itself widening, demonstrating the effects of structural gender inequality16.

There are also strong gender biases which influence the participation of women in the workforce. These often operate within the caste system, so women belonging to different castes are differently affected with SC-STs showing the highest increase in this gap, and OBCs not far behind17. This is a reflection of the social pressures that force women to perform all domestic care work, leaving no time for work outside the home18. One factor that exacerbates this process is “sanskritisation”, where the lower castes (especially OBCs, as they are not as low as SC-STs in the caste hierarchy) attempt to gain greater social status by copying the rituals and traditions of the upper castes. One significant aspect of this is confining women to domestic labour only, and not allowing them to pursue work outside their homes even if they had the time and energy19.

While it is clear that the Shudra castes in India are clearly lagging behind on various societal parameters of growth, there is a conspicuous absence of any sort of rebellion against the established caste hierarchy, and compassionate inquiry into their own roots.

Shudra practices of untouchability against Dalits are well documented20, but the same is not done among Shudra castes. I, as a Shudra individual have experienced untouchability. My parents are also victims of untouchability, and were robbed of equitable educational opportunity. What makes caste so insidious is the fact that we were meted out such treatment not just by upper-caste individuals, but by another Shudra community that challenged the puritanical caste practices of Brahmins and yet continued to perpetuate the same against other Shudras. This is the travesty of caste system. Such instances of untouchability, denial of educational opportunities, and atrocities against OBC women are plenty among Shudra castes; however, they are not recorded for further inquiry and reflection by the concerned communities. The hegemony among Shudras in terms of sanskritisation, political and economic mobility needs to be studied meticulously.

Moving forward, the Shudras have so much to learn from the Ambedkarite and Dalit-Buddhist movements. Shudras have played a vital role in many anti-caste struggles before, for instance, the “Maharas movement”21. In fact, the pioneering anti-caste struggle was led by Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, a Shudra individual. Moving away from their oppressed Shudra identities in search of an elusive caste pride has rendered them faceless in the country’s cultural consciousness. Shudras need to work towards the annihilation of caste, keeping in mind their privileges as well as their subjugation by upper-castes.

The Four Varnas

Non-Hindus often see caste and varna as the same thing, but they are not the same. An individual is born into a certain caste or hereditary group. There are hundreds of castes, and one cannot escape the caste of birth. Indian varnas, however, refer to the occupations and social positions that people hold, and there is some flexibility possible within the categories. There are four varnas:

  • Brahmin: the intellectuals, for example, priests and teachers
  • Kshatriya: the protectors, for example, soldiers, police, and administrators
  • Vaishya: the producers, for example, farmers and businessmen
  • Shudra: the servants, for example, artisans and laborers.

History of Varna System in Hinduism

The Vedas are religious texts in Hinduism. They are considered among the oldest sacred texts in the world. The knowledge in the Vedas dates back at least 3,000 years and was written down c. 1500-500 BCE. The Vedas dictate all knowledge of the universe and provide instruction on how to live and organize society.

The oldest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda, contains a Creation Hymn which describes the origin of the varnas. The varnas emerged from the mouth (Brahmin), arms (Kshatriya), thighs (Vaishya), and feet (Shudra) of the primordial being. If everyone fulfilled his “dharma,” or duty, society would function smoothly.

“Dharma” is an important part of the varna system. Each varna was assigned specific duties:

Significance of Varna

The understanding of varna is rooted in multiple sacred Hindu texts and epic literature.

Varnas in Text

Lesson Summary

Varna in Hinduism refers to the four categories within society. There are four varnas:

  • Brahmin: the intellectuals who teach the Vedas and provide spiritual guidance to the people
  • Kshatriyas: the protectors, who provide protection and ensure that order is maintained within the society
  • Vaishya: the producers, who provide the necessities of life and create wealth for society to thrive
  • Shudra: the servants, who serve as laborers and artisans to serve the other three varnas.

What are varnas in Hinduism?

Varnas in Hinduism are social categories based on occupation or personal nature. Each individual is responsible for observing the duties assigned to his varna.How is varna different from caste?Varna is based upon occupation or personal nature, and there is some mobility possible among the four groups.. There are hundreds of castes, however, and hey are based strictly on birth with no flexibility available.What are the 4 main varnas of India?There are four varna, or social classes, in Hinduism. These are: brahmin, the intellectuals, for example, priests and teachers; kshatriya, the protectors, for example, soldiers, police, and administrators vaishya, the producers, for example, farmers and businessmen; and shudra, the servants, for example, artisans and laborers.

Hindu Goals

In today’s lesson, we’re going to tackle the four permissible goals of Hindu life. They are kama, artha, dharma and moksha. To do this in such a short amount of time will require some serious oversimplification of a very deep topic. Add to this the fact that most of the terms we’re going to use are completely foreign to the Western tongue, and it’s not hard to see how this lesson could get a bit hairy.

In order to make this lesson easier to navigate, there are three things I’d like you to grasp:

  1. Hinduism teaches that the pursuit of these four goals is permissible. In other words, it’s okay to want and seek them.
  2. Each goal is considered more important, or noble, than the previous goal.
  3. These goals traditionally apply to men only.

With this in mind, let’s get on with our goals.


The first permissible goal is kama. To put it simply, kama is pleasure, and it refers to the desires of the mind and the physical body. It is the human desire for passion and emotion. In other words, it’s ok to love; it’s ok to experience attraction and desire. In fact, the Hindus’ god of love is actually named Kama. From this name comes the famous and very ancient Hindu guide to the physical expression of love known as the Kamasutra.

Although kama, or pleasure, is a permissible goal, a spiritually maturing Hindu will realize it is not the end all to life. There is more to strive for. This brings us to our next goal, Artha.


Simply put, artha can be loosely translated as wealth and power, and according to the goals of Hinduism, it’s ok to want these two things. In fact, the pursuit of them is considered noble since a person needs them in order to raise a family and keep a household.


Since the goal of dharma is probably the most alien to our Western paradigm, we’ll spend a bit more time on it. To simplify, dharma means duty. It’s sort of a set of standards by which a person should live. However, dharma can be very circumstantial and very personal. In other words, each person’s dharma is different. Since this is rather confusing, let’s use a tangible example.


Moksha is freedom from the cycle of birth and reincarnation. It’s the prize at the end of the very long Hindu road.

Lesson Summary

The four permissible goals in Hinduism are kama, artha, dharma and moksha, with each goal being more important than those before it.

In Western terms, kama can be remembered as the pursuit of pleasure. It encompasses the human desires for passion and emotion. Although the pursuit of kama is permissible, it sort of takes a back seat to artha.

What is the Caste System?

”Caste” is derived from a Portuguese term denoting sexual purity. Portuguese imperialists used it to describe the sharp division between societal classes in India in the 16th century. A caste system is a type of society built on a hierarchy of supposed worthiness. Cultural purity is an attribute assigned to a group or individual. Each of the levels has rights associated with it that decrease down the hierarchy, ending with the lowest level which has no rights at all. Many times, the members of this untouchable level are automatically regarded as criminals just because they exist. The caste system inherently supports endogamy, which is marriage between two members of the same societal level. Caste systems are designed to protect the cultural purity of the hierarchal levels from each other, and its society in general from external influences. Cultural purity means that a culture (i.e., Hinduism) continues and does not syncretize with other cultures which interact with its adherents (i.e., Buddhism or Daoism). From an economic standpoint, caste systems provide the societal framework for an efficient and tightly controlled closed system, which supports internal economic growth while maintaining isolationism.

Caste System Meaning

The caste system is a societal order built on religious and cultural norms in which the population of a state is divided into a hierarchy of classes. The members of the different levels of this system have different degrees of purity or worthiness and therefore have different rights. For instance, in ancient and colonial India there were five different social categories to which families belonged, from the Brahmins at the top to the ”untouchable” Dalits at the bottom. Although Dalits are not considered part of the caste system, their role in society is determined by their being literal outcasts. The Cagots of medieval France and Spain occupied a similar place in Western European society. They were regarded as ”chimeras that degrade humanity”. As India is the most striking and enduring example of a nation that is imbued with a caste system, we will focus on that country. Its caste system is prescribed by the paramount religious text of Hinduism, Manu-smriti.

Indian Caste System Explained

The Indian caste system is divided into two types: varna and jati. The Manu-smriti explains the rights and obligations of each of the classes of the Indian caste system and combines religious and secular facets of life into one great whole. This is part of why the caste system has been so enduring.

  • Varna – A social class based upon occupation and the role a person plays in Indian society. There are four: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. The lowest level of Indian society, ”Dalits” were cast out and discriminated against. These rankings were given based on one’s social skills and talents, not assigned at birth. Varnas are created by Indian society.
  • Jati – a status assigned upon a person at birth that is passed on throughout a family. Jati are groups that have been created by the gods. A person cannot change their position in this caste, but levels in the system of jatis have changed many times over the years based upon developments in society. This hierarchy varies between local communities, and lower jatis can move up the hierarchy as a group, sometimes even combining with a higher jati, passing on its name and reputation to their descendants. Jatis act as an extremely large extended family. They are also a culturally legitimized interest group that works together to further their political and economic agendas. Critics believe that the Indian caste system impedes the economic prosperity of communities and limits political democracy. However, scholars and researchers have found that neither of these is true, generally speaking.

When the British Empire came to India in 1860 and established their Raj, they found that the ancient Indian caste system neatly divided people into groups. They took advantage of this, creating four major castes. This system was fully formed by 1920, and when India declared its independence in 1947, this altered caste system continued.

  • Brahmin – Priests; have the highest, most respected identity in Indian society, and thus have all privileges, alongside the Kshatriya. Brahmins have religious authority over the Vaishya and the Shudra. They alone possess the knowledge of the gods, and they know the rituals that the gods desire.
  • Kshatriya – Rulers and Warriors; have secular authority over the Vaishya and the Shudra, and they use this authority in coordination with the Brahmins. They also serve as physical protectors to the brahmins.
  • Vaishya – Tradesmen, Farmers, and Merchants
  • Shudra – Menial servants.

While there are only four levels, there are many people regarded as the ”fifth” level: the Dalits. They are the lowest in society because they are considered outcasts.

Functions of the Indian Caste System

Jati can move upward in society by performing rituals, wearing sacred clothing, and changing their lifestyle to fit the norm of castes that have established their cleanliness and purity in society. For example, many members of ”pure” castes are vegetarians, only marry once, and insist on having respectable jobs in society. In the absence of these options, castes can also force their way into the public’s notice by increasing their economic strength or their membership. In this way, a jati can influence local government and societal institutions.

The caste system has been built into the structure of many Indian institutions, including healthcare, education, businesses, and public services. For instance, Dalits cannot cross into the residential areas of any of the other jati. Additionally, higher castes could not cross into residential areas of those above them. Only brahmins had complete access to the entire community.

What was the purpose of the caste system?

The purpose of the caste system is to create an economic and social closed system to prevent corruption of a country’s culture. For instance, intermarriage and interaction between members of different castes are punishable by death in some local communities of India.

What is the caste system and how does it work?

The caste system is a division of people into distinct groups based on occupation or lineage. Many times, this creates discriminatory practices. Each level has its own rights and obligations. At the bottom of these systems, there is always the lowest caste that is considered untouchable to the rest of the population.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

Definition – What does Sudra mean?
Sudra is the name traditionally given to the class of people in Indian society who work in service and menial jobs. The Sudra comprise the fourth of the four social groups in the Indian caste system, which divides people into hereditary groups with specific limitations and privileges, depending on where the person is on the social strata. The Sudra’s role is to serve the other three castes, or varna.

Only the Dalit – once known as the untouchables – are lower on the social hierarchy, so much so that they have been excluded from the caste system. Some sociologists, however, now classify the Dalit with the Sudra as the Sudra/Dalit caste. Today, it is illegal in India to discriminate based on caste, but the system traditionally prevented those in the lower castes from improving their status. Yoga, which developed outside the restrictions of society, provided a means of salvation regardless of caste.

Yogapedia explains Sudra
Sudra is a Sanskrit word that is associated with meaning “not knowledgeable.” Unlike the members of the three higher varnas, the Sudra are prevented from performing upanayana, a rite that begins the study of the sacred Vedas. The Sudra, therefore, lack this religious education.

The Sudra comprise the largest caste, which has evolved to include everyone from small landowners on one end of the scale to scavengers on the lower end. Sudra jobs include maids, street sweepers, janitors, unskilled laborers, barbers and waiters. The traditional castes include:

Brahmin – the priestly and teacher caste.
Kshatriya – the ruler and public service caste.
Vaishya – the business and merchant caste.
Sudra/Dalit – the semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
Hinduism offers a path to moving up the caste system via reincarnation. Someone who fulfills his/her duty (dharma) in one life may improve his/her social position in the next.

Hinduism and Caste System

Hinduism is a universal religion. Its primary emphasis is on universal brotherhood. It views the world as one family. It believes that man is divine in nature and realization of that supreme truth as the primary aim of all human activity. It is therefore unfortunate that for a very long time this religion of great antiquity has been in the clutches a few privileged castes.

It would be a great service to the cause of Hinduism if the present day Vedic teachers identify bright children from the lower castes and start teaching them the Vedas and the Upanishads and allow them to serve God in the temples of India. The strength of Christianity stems from dedicated missionaries who come from all sections of society. The weakness of Hinduism and of Hindu society is caste system, which divides people into divergent and bickering groups and keeps them apart.

Perhaps there is no other nation in the world that is as openly and shamelessly as racial as India. To be born in an upper caste is a matter of pride whether the family to which a person belongs deserves it or not. A number of Indians who visit foreign countries often complain about being treated differently on account of their skin color or accent. They overlook the fact that a vast number of people in their own country exhibit a far greater obsession with accent, skin color and caste. Indian film stars put on white makeup, on the screen and off the screen, even if they are black, to look acceptable and desirable. The country’s democracy is not a true democracy, but castocracy, where people vote and leaders are elected on caste lines. The Indian political parties thrive and succeed by appealing to this base emotion of people.

There are countless scholars who justify Hindu caste system quoting chapter and verse from the scriptures, ignoring the fact that they were convenient interpolations or authored by bigoted scholars in an otherwise sacred lore to justify a cruel and unjust system using the very authority of God.
Caste System has been the bane of Hindu society for centuries. In terms of impact, it did much greater damage for a much longer period to a great many people than the slave system of the western world or the witch-hunting practices of medieval Europe. The Hindu caste system was a clever invention of the later Vedic society, justified by a few law makers. The upper castes found it convenient to retain and perpetuate their social and religious distinction and political and economic advantage. With the exception of Saivism and a few ascetic traditions, most of the ancient sects of Hinduism were caste biased.
The idea of staying away from unclean people is understandable in a society that was obsessed with the concept of physical and mental purity. There is nothing unusual with people who are selective in choosing their friends and relationships. It is normal behavior to stay away from people who are found to be socially deviant, untrustworthy or unfamiliar. It is an expression of our social intelligence and self-preservation instinct. Personal hygiene, family background and financial status do matter today in society as it was thousands of years ago. But what was wrong with the Vedic society was it recognized inequalities among men based on birth and family lineage and proclaimed it to be the will of God. This line of thought was perpetuated by Vedic scholars for centuries through the authority of scriptures and fear of divine retribution. They wrongfully created human stereotypes to justify a social structure that favored a few at the expense of many, denying a vast majority of people opportunities to use their inborn talents and pursue their own dreams and aspirations.
What is the Caste System ?
The Hindu caste system is unique in the world, but resembles in some ways Plato’s ideal society of philosophers, warriors and commoners. A caste is a division of society based on occupation and family lineage. Hindu caste system recognized four distinct classes or divisions among people based on these criteria and enforced it through a rigid code of conduct that was specific to each class and rooted in the dharmashastras (law books) of the later Vedic period. The four main castes recognized by traditional Hindu society based primarily on hereditary occupation are mentioned below.

Brahmins. They are the priestly class, who are entitled to study the Vedas, perform rites and rituals for themselves and for others and obliged to observe the sacraments. They are the middle men between gods and men. The act as temple priests and invoke gods on behalf of others. They are expected to show exemplary behavior and spend their lives in the pursuit of divine knowledge and preservation of the traditions. According to Manu, the law maker, a Brahmin was an incarnation of dharma (sacred tradition), born to serve and protect the dharma. He belonged to the excellent of the human race, endowed with intelligence and knowledge to attain Brahman. He was the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings. Whatever that existed in the world was the property of a Brahmana and he was entitled to all.
Kshatriyas. They are the warrior class, who are commanded (by tradition) to protect the people, bestow gifts to the Brahmins, offer sacrifices to gods and ancestors, study the Vedas, dispense justice, and, according to Manusmriti, abstain themselves from sensual pleasures. Manu laid down that it was a king’s duty to protect his kingdom and his people. He had something in himself of the gods such Indra, Vayu, Yama, Surya, Varuna, Moon and Kubera. A king should not be despised even if he was an infant. His authority should not be questioned except when he ignored his duties in supporting and protecting Brahmins. The king had the right to punish, but he must be fair in his punishment. It was king’s responsibility to protect the caste system and the social order and lavish the priests with generous gifts at every opportunity.
Vaisyas: They are the merchant and peasant classes, who are expected to tend cattle, offer sacrifices, study the Vedas, trade, lend money and cultivate the land. They had the right to perform and participate in certain Vedic rituals but they were not allowed to marry women of higher castes.
Shudras: The are the labor class, whose only duty is to serve the other three castes. They were not required to observe any Vedic rituals or samskaras except a few. They were not allowed to study the Vedas or even hear the sacred chants. They were not allowed to eat food in the company of higher castes or marry their women.
Chandalas: The lowest of the Shudras were called chandalas or the impure ones. They were treated as untouchables because of their gory religious practices, penchant for sacrifices, magical rites and unclean habits. In ancient times they were not allowed to enter a village or city during day time or walk in the same street where men of other castes walked. Even their shadow was considered impure and their very sight as a bad omen. So they lived mostly on the fringes of society, unknown and uncared for, following some esoteric religion of their own and working mostly in the graveyards and cremation grounds or as hunters, butchers and professional cleaners of human waste.14

How the Caste System was Enforced
The caste system was enforced with the help of law books such as Manusmriti and the support of kings who considered themselves as upholders of dharma. The force of tradition, superstition, religious beliefs, fear of punishment also played an important role in its success. Some of these factors are explained in detail.
Heredity. The caste system was based on birth. People inherited caste from their parents and passed it on to their children. Individuals had no right to change their caste as long as they practiced the Vedic religion. But they could be excommunicated from the caste by the kings or the local administrators or village heads in case of serious transgression. In case of inter caste marriage which were rare, children inherited the castes of their fathers.
Caste Rules. The caste rules were enforced strictly through the fear of political and religious authority. The success of the system depended upon the performance of duties prescribed for each caste. The rules varied from caste to caste. People of higher castes enjoyed privileges but were also expected to be good role models. For a Brahmin study of the Vedas, practice of rituals and leading a pure and austere life were a must. Otherwise he was considered to be equal to a sudra in the eyes of his fellow caste members. 

Women were expected to assist their husbands in observing the caste rules. Purification ceremonies, fines and minor punishments were prescribed to annul the negative effect of violating caste rules.
Marriage. The caste system prohibited marriages outside one’s caste to avoid inter mixture of the castes (varna samkaram), which was considered to be a sign of decline of dharma and the very reason why the caste system was devised. The law books allowed certain types of inter-caste marriages as an exception rather than rule. Marriages between a higher caste men and lower caste women were less objectionable than Marriages between sudra males and higher caste females and marriages between men of upper castes and sudra women. 2
Preferential treatment: The three upper castes enjoyed distinct advantages in society compared to the sudras whose job was to serve the three upper castes and live like fourth class citizens.3 People born in the three upper castes were given initiation into the study of the Vedas and treated as twice born, while sudras were not allowed to study or even hear the Vedas. They were treated on par with animals and considered once borne. The Brahmins enjoyed the highest status and privileges followed by the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas and the sudras in the same order. The laws were discriminatory in matters of rewards and punishments. They prescribed lighter punishments for higher castes than the lower castes who had technically little recourse against the former in criminal cases. For the same offence committed, a lower caste person might attract physical torture, slavery or death penalty while a higher caste person might get away with a simple fine or chastisement or purification ceremony. The lower caste persons were also not allowed to act as witnesses or sit in judgment against higher castes.
Royal Support: The caste system was preserved and enforced mostly through royal support. The relationship between the priestly class and the warrior class was one of convenience. The kings took upon themselves the tasks of protecting the caste system and preventing caste intermixture while the priests performed sacrificial ceremonies and purifications ceremonies seeking the welfare of the king and a place for him in heavens. The scriptures proclaimed the king as a god in human form and protector and preserver of castes and caste order 4. The very notion of punishment was a created by God and given to the kings upon earth to help them destroy evil and keep men on the path of dharma 5. The scriptures suggested that a king should start his day by worshipping three Brahmins on waking up and follow their advice with humility and modesty. He should also appoint a Brahman to the position of a chief minister with and deliberate with him on the most important affairs concerning royal policy.
Historical Perspective
The Rigvedic people came to the Indian subcontinent as priestly families, not as warriors. They won over the subcontinent not through the power of sword as some historians want us to believe but through their superior skill in debate and magical ritualism which they used to gain royal patronage of the local kings. With the support of some native kings whom they won over to their side and who probably had some racial affinity with them, by cleverly adopting many local customs and traditions that would make them acceptable in the eyes of the native people, with their special abilities in using magical incantations and elaborate sacrifices to summon rains or prevent floods or defeat the enemies or drive away thieving hostile tribes, diseases and pestilence, they established their social, political and economic power and spread their influence gradually to the four corners of the Indian subcontinent.
Non-Vedic Character of Caste System
The Vedic priests did not bring with them the caste system. The early Vedic people had a flexible social organization in which people could change their vocations easily. Different members within the same family practiced different vocations. But as they came into contact with hostile tribes and competing traditions, they resorted to caste system to preserve their identity as a group. Some form of caste system was already in vogue in ancient India 6, which in all probability the Vedic people adopted to maintain their racial purity and family lineages. This is evident from the fact in the entire Rigveda there is no reference to the caste system except in the Purusha sukta which is considered by many scholars as a later day interpolation.
Caste in Hindu Mythology
In the Hindu mythology we find men of lower castes ascending to positions of eminence and authority. Some important characters in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belonged to lower castes. Lord Rama was assisted by mostly men of humble origins, who lived in the forests and were ignorant of the Vedic scriptures. Lord Krishna himself was brought up by a family of cowherds. So was Balarama, his step brother, who is sometimes included in the list of Vishnu’s ten incarnations. Only three or four of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu came from higher castes. Of the ten only one, the incarnation of Vamana, belongs to the Brahmin caste. Rama, Parashurama and the Buddha belong to the Kshatriya caste while other incarnations such as the incarnation of fish, turtle, boar and the half man and half lion are actually animal incarnations, which in other words means once born, just like the forest dwellers that assisted Lord Rama in his battle against the demon king Ravana.
Many ancient sages and rishis also came from humble backgrounds. Parasurama was a Brahmin by birth but a warrior by profession. Vishwamitra7 was a warrior by birth but practiced austerities like a Brahmins and became a great rishi. Sage Parashar, the famous law giver, was the son of an outcaste (chandala). Rishi Vashista was born to a prostitute ,while sage Vyasa, the original author of the Mahabharata, was born to a fisherwoman. Rishi Valmiki the original composer of Ramayana came from a tribal family of traditional hunters. Some composers of the Vedic and Upanishadic hymns belonged to either lower castes or mixed castes. Satyakama Jabala was born to a prostitute who could not tell him who his father was. Karna, the famous character from the Mahabharata was brought up by low caste family, while Drona, the teacher of the Pandavas, was a Brahmin by caste but excelled in marital arts .
The Development of Rigid Caste System
The Rigvedic society had a flexible caste system which allowed individuals to change their castes if necessary. Color (varna) and family lineage were more important during this period rather than occupation. But during the post Vedic period, caste system became rigid and offered little flexibility to people to pursue vocations not authorized by caste rules. Foreign invasions and the presence of foreigners should have sparked this new development to prevent the possibility of caste pollution and confusion of castes. Well defined code of conduct, rewards and punishments and purification procedures became necessary to regulate the inflow of new members into the Vedic society and their integration into the existing framework of castes without disturbing the social structure and the dominance of the priestly class.
Elevation of the Sudra Kings
Many emperors and rulers in ancient India came from humble backgrounds. They became rulers on account of their personal valor and adventurous spirit. The Nandas who ruled a vast empire with Pataliputra as their capital at the time of the birth of the Buddha, belonged to a low caste of barbers. So was Chandragupta Maurya, who succeeded them. His mother belonged to a family of peacock tamers and probably served in the court of Nandas as a courtesan. The Sakas and the Kushanas were foreigners who came from outside. They patronized Saivism but kept away from Vedism. The Guptas were either Vaishyas or Jats8 while the Nagas or the Barashivas were sudras. We do not know for sure how the Vedic priests managed their relationship with the sudra kings and the foreign rulers. In most cases these kings joined Buddhism or Jainism or Saivism as these religions did not favor caste system. In fewer cases they accepted the compromise offered by the Vedic priests in return of gifts and land grants to admit them into the Vedic fold as Kshatriyas through purification ceremonies and the blessing of the gods and by tracing their lineage to some mythical race having roots in heaven. If these strategies failed, the Vedic priests either kept a low profile or sought the protection of neighboring rulers.
Varna, Jati and Gotra
The early Vedic society was more concerned with the color and family identity of people rather than their castes as is evident from the Rigvedic hymns which distinguish people based on their complexion and creed rather than occupation based castes. The caste system9 is known in Sanskrit as varnashrama dharma which actually means a system based on color. In the early days it was color of the skin that mattered, not the caste. A Brahmin was considered varnashresht or best of color. Varna also meant a letter or character or sound. Teaching how to write and spell Sanskrit letters was called varna-shiksha. The Vedic people were conspicuous by their color in contrast to the dark skinned tribes whom they derogatorily referred as dasyus, dasas, asuras, pisachas and rakshasas. These tribes spoke different languages, did not show any respect for the Vedic gods and sacrifices and would have probably shown the same contempt towards the Vedic people for their racial snobbery. Many scholars believe that the varnas were different from castes. The varnas were classes based on racial features, while the castes were further divisions within each class based on occupation or lineage. Thus while there were only four varnas or classes, the number of castes or occupational divisions with in each class varied.
The word jati actually means the form of existence that comes by birth. Thus animals belong to pasujati or the group of animals and humans to narajati or the group of humans. Jati is also used loosely to mean a caste, a race, a lineage, a tribe or a class of men. A jati-brahmin is some one who is a brahmin by birth but not by occupation or knowledge or performance of rites and rituals. Closely related with jati are the worlds jat, meaning birth or existence and jatakam meaning natal chart.

Gotra actually means the name of a cow pen or stable. It is also used to denote the name of a family, lineage or race of Brahmin families. Strictly speaking, only Brahmin families are supposed to belong to particular gotras. In case of people belonging to other castes, it denotes the lineage of their respective family priests. So if a Brahmin quotes his gotra he is telling from which lineage or family he descended and when a non Brahmin is quoting his gotra, he is telling the gotra of the priest whose services his family traditionally used. Traditionally the gotras of brahmin families are traceable to seven or eight ancient sages. But today there are thousands of gotras and no one knows how these many gotras have sprouted. While for Brahmin families gotras carry a lot of significance, for others gotras usually matter during ritual worship and performance of sacraments. As in case of castes, marriages within the same gotra are prohibited by the law books.
Subsequent Developments
The Indian society was complex in ancient India as it is now. Any generalizations about it need to be regarded with some reservations. The political, geographic and linguistic diversity, absence of adequate dependable historical evidence, contradictory literary sources and the existence of multiple religious traditions make it a daunting task for any writer to present a satisfactory picture of the prevailing conditions of the Indian society at any point of time in the past. In the following paragraphs we attempt to trace a broad outline of the development of caste system in the post Vedic period.
During the Mauryan period (300 BC), while the varnas remained four, the castes became many. Inter caste marriages, practice of polygamy, assimilation of foreigners, creation of vast administrative machinery that resulted in new classes of people and new positions of authority, and geographical expansion of the empires to the south which exposed new groups and communities to the Vedic religion contributed to this new development and added diversity and complexity to the social fabric of ancient India.

Megasthanese, who stayed in the court of Chandragupta Maurya as a Greek ambassador for several years and recorded his observations in his work titled the Indika, noticed seven classes of people in the Mauryan empire, namely






overseers and

councilors or assessors.

Within each of these classes there were further sub divisions. Megasthanese identified two distinct divisions with in the philosophers group, the priests and the ascetics.

In the Satavahana empire, society was organized into four classes

The first class consisted of high ranking officials and feudatory chieftains such as Maharathis, Mahabhojas and Mahasenapatis.

The second class consisted of officials such as ministers and treasurers (Amatyas, Mahamatras and Bhandagarikas) and non-officials such as merchants, traders and heads of guilds (Naigama, Sarthvaha and Sreshtin).

The third class consisted of professionals such as scribes (lekhakas), physicians (vaidyas), cultivators (halakiyas), goldsmiths (suvarnakaras) and chemists (gandhikas).

The fourth class consisted of carpenters (vardhaki), garderners (malakaras), blacksmiths (lohavanija) and fishermen (dasakas).

The Guptas patronized Hinduism and revived many ancient Vedic traditions. They enforced the caste system throughout their empire with religious zeal. They implemented many traditions of Vedic religion as a part of the king’s duty to uphold and protect religious laws (dharma) and safeguard the caste system from the unlawful inter mixture of castes. The Brahmins, who enjoyed many privileges under their patronage, were known for their austere lives. There were many groups within the priestly class, each performing specific duties. They studied the scriptures, practiced contemplation, devotional worship and observed austerities such as tapas and penance. They received lavish gifts and land grants from kings, often entire villages in return for their services. People venerated the saints and regarded the places where they lived as sacred places. The kings employed royal priests whom they consulted frequently. Brahmins of this period belonged to many lineages or gotras.

The Guptas brought peace and prosperity to the Indian subcontinent and contributed to the emergence of new classes of aristocracy. Their period witnessed the development new elite groups, as in the Roman empire, in the form of urban bourgeoisie consisting of wealthy traders and merchants and landed gentry owning vast tracts of agricultural lands, which precipitated a new power struggle requiring compromises within the social structure. While the priestly classes had their religious authority over the sudras or the landless peasants, the landed gentry assumed feudal and administrative authority over them.

The assimilation of foreign groups such as the Hunas in the declining phase of the Gupta rule resulted in some social unrest and imbalances within society. According to Havell, the infusion of Huna blood lowered the high ethical standards of Indo-Aryan traditions and caused the growth of many vulgar superstitions which were never contradicted by the great teachers of India. The intolerance of the Hunans only added to the rigidity of the caste system in the subsequent period as a defensive reaction, just as the intolerant attitude of Muslim rulers contributed to rigid caste system during the medieval period.

Hiuen Tsang who visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana noticed that the caste system dominated the Hindu society. He described the four distinct classes as described in the Hindu law books. The Brahmins and the Kshatriyas observed decency and decorum in their dress and eating habits. The higher castes were very particular about cleanliness. After eating food they destroyed the wooden and stone vessels in which they ate food and cleaned the metal ones thoroughly. They lived upright and honest lives and dreaded the retribution of bad karma. There were no inter-caste marriages and marriages with in the same caste among close relations. The caste distinctions and restrictions in food and marriage, however, did not prevent various castes from interacting socially with people from different castes.

Despite its universal appeal and emphasis on Muslim brotherhood, Islam could neither destroy the caste system nor the Vedic religion nor the related beliefs and practices. Caste system actually helped Hinduism to maintain its integrity and inner strength during this turbulent period. Some Muslim rulers made attempts to humiliate higher caste Hindus by forcing them to work in Muslim households as servants after reducing them to penury through unjust taxation. They also managed to convert to Islam some low caste and a few high caste Hindus. Some Muslim rulers made it a policy to kill a certain number of Hindus each year to humiliate and destroy followers of native faiths. These developments made the caste system even more rigid and uncompromising. Those who switched their loyalties to the new religion (usually the lower castes) became despicable and loathsome in the eyes of those who suffered silently. Interestingly the newly converted Muslims maintained some sort of caste system among themselves based on their old caste affiliations and added a new social dimension to the community of Muslims in the country.

The British respected the Indian caste system in formulating their civil and criminal laws and in enforcing their military and government policies regarding governance, military administration, civil services, trade and commerce, education and employment. They did not attempt to abolish the caste system as they saw in it a great opportunity to maintain their hold upon people by keeping them divided on caste and religious lines. The Christian missionaries who enjoyed their covert patronage found in it a convenient means to convert people to Christianity and keep the Hindu organizations on the defensive. Educated Indian middle classes sensed the threat the missionaries posed to the integrity of Hinduism and felt the need to reform the caste system and some outdated practices in the interests of preserving and safeguarding Hinduism and Hindu community. Indian scholars used religious themes and ancient legends to instill feelings of pride and nationalism in people.  Leaders like Baba Saheb Ambedkar demanded equal status for the low castes, while Gandhi advocated complete abolition of untouchability and equal rights to all Indians.

After India’s independence, the Indian constitution guaranteed equal status and fundamental rights to all classes of people. The practice of untouchability was officially declared as a serious crime, punishable with severe penalties. Provisions were made to identify and protect the lower castes from exploitation and ill treatment. A reservation policy was created to establish a level playing field in matters of employment and education and protect them from unfair competition from higher castes. Today, due to these efforts the lower castes are able to occupy positions of authority and leadership and assert themselves in every profession. While a lot of improvement is still required to improve their lot and bring a social change in people’s thinking and attitude, the Indian government established through constitutional guarantees many built in safeguards for the lower castes and considerably improved their status in society so much so that the high castes often complain of being discriminated and put to disadvantage in receiving welfare and economic benefits. By granting constitutional guarantees to the lower castes and protecting them from unfair competition, the Indian government averted a major disaster for independent India by minimizing the possibility of a civil war or civil strife or the mass conversion of lower caste Hindus to other religions.