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Monday, 29 July 2013

Present day populace

"In order to study this enormous jana-samUha, many types of classifications have been suggested. Risley classified it this way – (1) those jAti-s which are modified forms of a tribe. AbhIra was a special human class which reached the desh while wandering about. It became a jAti of the huge hindu society after coming here. The speciality of such jAti-s is that in their internal matters, they keep following their own unique customs. They only accept brahmin superiority partially. In case of marriages, shrAdha-s etc., they invite brahmin-s. But sometimes, even that doesn’t occur. Doma or dusAdha or bhumija are jAti-s which have accepted Brahmin superiority, but they’re perhaps hardly in contact with brahmin-s for any anuShThAna-s. (2) there are some castes, which due to performance of certain activities, formed a specific class. jAti-s such as bhangi, chamAra, luhAra etc. seem to be have been originally formed due to numerous professions.  Such jAti-s are so many that sometimes on this very basis the entire population has been classified. (3) Some jAti-s are such that they were originally certain dhArmika sampradAya-s. atItha is jAti of a type of grihastha sanyAsi-s. bosTama of Bengal is a modified jAti form of vaiShNava sampradAya. Similarly, the lingAyata-s of South India are shaiva sAdhu-s (4) Some jAti-s are formed by mixture of two jAti-s. Although now a days, there is a sort of fashion of not subscribing to the concept of varNasamkara jAti-s described by the ancient scholars, even then, there are hundreds of jAti-s and upajAti-s which are elementarily created by mixture of two jAti-s only. Risley has produced a long list of such jAti-s. For example, munDA jAti has nine branches, namely – khangAra-munDA, khariyA-munDA, konkapata-munDA, karanga-munDA, mahilI-munDA, nAgvansI- munDA and OrAnva-munDA. These names themselves inform that munDA jAti mixed with these jAti-s. (5) There are jAti-s which may be called rAShTriya jAti-s or ‘national caste’. Risley has said that in a country where there is no presence of national spirit, the presence of ‘rAShTriya jAti-s’ is a contradiction. But there are jAti-s found in India who are actually remains of a national unit. The newAra-s of Nepal is one such jAti. They have many higher, lower and middle jAti-s and follow both hindu and bauddha dharma. Similarly, foreign scholars consider maraTha jAti as a rAShTriya jAti. (6) There are some jAti-s which migrated and settled far away from the place of their origin and thus their connection from the original jAti got severed and the changed into a new jAti. There are copious examples of such jAti-s in every pradesha. (7) Then there are such jAti-s which were separated from the original jAti since they did not follow the customs properly and this is how they formed a new jAti. Such AchAra bhraShTa jAti-s have been called vrAtya-s in dharma shAstra-s such as manu smriti etc. brahmin performing yajan-yAjana for such jAti-s have described as prAyashchittI.

Sometimes, a jAti bifurcated into two on the question of vidhwA marriage. The branch which performs vidhwA marriage is considered adhama while the one which doesn’t is considered uttama. It has been seen in modern times that some lower jAti-s claim to be higher by abolishing vidhwA marriages.

In this way, there are hundreds of layers of jAti-s in this mahAdesha. Many scholars with multiple reasons have studied this unique Indian speciality. Risley at the end of his incredible scholarly study formed nine theories. The readers of Acharya Sen’s treatises know the summary of these theories in this way-

(1)    There are seven types of physical attributes of natives of this country (see above), among whom only draviDa are purely native. Indo-Aryans, mongol and Turkish-Iranian types are primarily foreign. Remaining three viz. Arya-draviDa, shaka-draviDa and mongol-draviDa types are formed via mixture of foreign jAti-s with draviDa-s.

(2)    In creations of these special types, due to the natural condition of bhAratvarsha, it remained secluded from other countries. As a result of this seclusion, every invading jAti brought very few women with them and hence they were compelled to marry the strI-s of this country.

(3)    The only exception to this rule was the first group of Indo-Aryans.

(4)    In the social organization Indian populace are found both type of jAti-s which are denoted by the English words ‘tribe’ and ‘caste’1.

(5)    sagotra jAti-s and normal jAti-s are both found divided in intra-marriage, inter-marriage and anuloma sub-divisions.  [intra-marriage is one in which a person from the jAti is obligated to marry within the same jAti, inter-marriage is one in which the person is obligated to marry outside his jAti and anuloma marriage is one in which a woman from the jAti is obligated to marry only same or higher varNa man, not from the lower one.]

(6)    Most jAti-s following intra-marriage are ‘totemists’. [see page 105 of achArya Sen’s book to see a description of the word totem]

(7)    Classification of jAti-s can be done only on the basis of social superiority, but one can’t create a single method for the classification of jAti-s for the entire bhAratvarSha.

(8)    The theories which have been postulated in smriti-s and puraNa-s, i.e. jAti-s are formed due to inter-marriages or due to process of samkara, are probably taken from Iran. Though this doesn’t have much connection with reality, it still is accepted across bhAratvarSha.

(9)    The original study of different jAti-s is such a problem whose solution is difficult. We can merely make estimates, based on the similarity in facts, which can be less or more probable. The theories which have been propounded are resting on these 3 things – (a) by testing class categories and special physical attributes (on the basis of which mAnavmaNDali-s are scientifically tested) of certain jAti-s; (b) on development of various jAti-s of mixed colors; and (c) on the danta-kathA-s based on parampArA-s.

However, the study of Indian populace done from the point of view of race science, no matter how important or amusing it may be, it is in isolation. However, in creation of this immense mass of people, there is huge effect of dharma, AchAra, customs and  above all literature created by best individuals of this place. If one wants to study the people of India along with it’s enormous literature, perpetual folk lore, art and crafts, history and archeology etc. it is also important to study its languages and land.

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Footnote 1 : The word 'Caste' in English is new in that language as well.This is indicative of the same which we understand  in Hindi by the word ‘jAti’. There is a story of this word. The Portuguese who arrived at the Western bank of bhAratvarSha with Vasco de Gama saw this peculiar custom among the natives of this country. To understand this, the word ‘Castas’ or ‘Caste’ was used in the report of the Council of Goa. This word was constructed on the Latin word ‘Castus’ and was used in the sense of vamshashuddhi. In the description of this word, the Portuguese travelers attributed more importance to the trait of untouchability. Since then in Europe, the word ‘jAti’ is primarily considered in relation to untouchability, although jAti has closer and unbreakable bond with birth and marriage.

[Foreign critics of the Indian jAti studies have explained the word ‘tribe’ as – tribe is such a group of family or collection of families which introduce themselves as progenies of a certain historical man, paurANika person or some special totem. They usually speak the same language, follow same customs and call a particular pradesha as their native. A man or a woman from a tribe can marry another woman or man from a different tribe. But in ‘caste’ this is not possible. A person from one caste can not marry a person from another ‘caste’. But it is possible that one caste may have two such kula-s which identify two different individuals as their person of origin. AbhIra (ahIra) originally was a tribe which has now become a ‘caste’. ‘brahmaNa’ or bania were never a ‘tribe’. In Hindi, the word ‘sagotra jAti’ or kabIlA for tribe and  only ‘jAti’ for caste is used.]"

-translated from madhyakAlIn dharma sAdhnA by sri hazAri prasAda dwivedI.

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