The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India—Volume I (of IV)
by R.V. Russell
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The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India


R.V. Russell Of the Indian Civil Service Superintendent of Ethnography, Central Provinces Assisted by Rai Bahadur Hira Lal Extra Assistant Commissioner

Published Under the Orders of the Central Provinces Administration

In Four Volumes Vol. I.

Macmillan and Co., Limited St. Martin's Street, London.



This book is the result of the arrangement made by the Government of India, on the suggestion of the late Sir Herbert Risley, for the preparation of an ethnological account dealing with the inhabitants of each of the principal Provinces of India. The work for the Central Provinces was entrusted to the author, and its preparation, undertaken in addition to ordinary official duties, has been spread over a number of years. The prescribed plan was that a separate account should be written of each of the principal tribes and castes, according to the method adopted in Sir Herbert Risley's Tribes and Castes of Bengal. This was considered to be desirable as the book is intended primarily as a work of reference for the officers of Government, who may desire to know something of the customs of the people among whom their work lies. It has the disadvantage of involving a large amount of repetition of the same or very similar statements about different castes, and the result is likely therefore to be somewhat distasteful to the ordinary reader. On the other hand, there is no doubt that this method of treatment, if conscientiously followed out, will produce more exhaustive results than a general account. Similar works for some other Provinces have already appeared, as Mr. W. Crooke's Castes and Tribes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Mr. Edgar Thurston's Castes and Tribes of Southern India, and Mr. Ananta Krishna Iyer's volumes on Cochin, while a Glossary for the Punjab by Mr. H.A. Rose has been partly published. The articles on Religions and Sects were not in the original scheme of the work, but have been subsequently added as being necessary to render it a complete ethnological account of the population. In several instances the adherents of the religion or sect are found only in very small numbers in the Province, and the articles have been compiled from standard works.

In the preparation of the book much use has necessarily been made of the standard ethnological accounts of other parts of India, especially Colonel Tod's Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Mr. J.D. Forbes' Rasmala or Annals of Gujarat, Colonel Dalton's Ethnology of Bengal, Dr. Buchanan's Eastern India, Sir Denzil Ibbetson's Punjab Census Report for 1881, Sir John Malcolm's Memoir of Central India, Sir Edward Gait's Bengal and India Census Reports and article on Caste in Dr. Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Colonel (Sir William) Sleeman's Report on the Badhaks and Ramaseeana or Vocabulary of the Thugs, Mr. Kennedy's Criminal Classes of the Bombay Presidency, Major Gunthorpe's Criminal Tribes of Bombay, Berar and the Central Provinces, the books of Mr. Crooke and Sir H. Risley already mentioned, and the mass of valuable ethnological material contained in the Bombay Gazetteer (Sir J. Campbell), especially the admirable volumes on Hindus of Gujarat by Mr. Bhimbhai Kirparam, and Parsis and Muhammadans of Gujarat by Khan Bahadur Fazlullah Lutfullah Faridi, and Mr. Kharsedji Nasarvanji Seervai, J.P., and Khan Bahadur Bamanji Behramji Patel. Other Indian ethnological works from which I have made quotations are Dr. Wilson's Indian Caste (Times Press and Messrs. Blackwood). Bishop Westcott's Kabir and the Kabirpanth (Baptist Mission Press, Cawnpore), Mr. Rajendra Lal Mitra's Indo-Aryans (Newman & Co., Calcutta), The Jainas by Dr. J.G. Buehler and Mr. J. Burgess, Dr. J.N. Bhattacharya's Hindu Castes and Sects (Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta), Professor Oman's Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India, Cults, Customs and Superstitions of India, and Brahmans, Theists and Muslims of India (T. Fisher Unwin), Mr. V.A. Smith's Early History of India (Clarendon Press), the Rev. T.P. Hughes' Dictionary of Islam (W.H. Allen & Co., and Heffer & Sons, Cambridge), Mr. L.D. Barnett's Antiquities of India, M. Andre Chevrillon's Romantic India, Mr. V. Ball's Jungle Life in India, Mr. W. Crooke's Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, and Things Indian, Captain Forsyth's Highlands of Central India (Messrs. Chapman & Hall), Messrs. Yule and Burnell's Hobson-Jobson (Mr. Crooke's edition), Professor Hopkins' Religions of India, the Rev. E.M. Gordon's Indian Folk-Tales (Elliot & Stock), Messrs. Sewell and Dikshit's Indian Calendar, Mr. Brennand's Hindu Astronomy, and the late Rev. Father P. Dehon's monograph on the Oraons in the Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Ethnological works on the people of the Central Provinces are not numerous; among those from which assistance has been obtained are Sir C. Grant's Central Provinces Gazetteer of 1871, Rev. Stephen Hislop's Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of the Central Provinces, Colonel Bloomfield's Notes on the Baigas, Sir Charles Elliott's Hoshangabad Settlement Report, Sir Reginald Craddock's Nagpur Settlement Report, Colonel Ward's Mandla Settlement Report, Colonel Lucie Smith's Chanda Settlement Report, Mr. G.W. Gayer's Lectures on Criminal Tribes, Mr. C.W. Montgomerie's Chhindwara Settlement Report, Mr. C.E. Low's Balaghat District Gazetteer, Mr. E.J. Kitts' Berar Census Report of 1881, and the Central Provinces Census Reports of Mr. T. Drysdale, Sir Benjamin Robertson and Mr. J.T. Marten.

The author is indebted to Sir J.G. Frazer for his kind permission to make quotations from The Golden Bough and Totemism and Exogamy (Macmillan), in which the best examples of almost all branches of primitive custom are to be found; to Dr. Edward Westermarck for similar permission in respect of The History of Human Marriage, and The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas (Macmillan); to Messrs. A. & C. Black in respect of the late Professor Robertson Smith's Religion of the Semites; to Messrs. Heinemann for those from M. Salomon Reinach's Orpheus; and to Messrs. Hachette et Cie and Messrs. Parker of Oxford for those from La Cite Antique of M. Fustel de Coulanges. Much assistance has also been obtained from Sir E. B. Tylor's Early History of Mankind and Primitive Culture, Lord Avebury's The Origin of Civilisation, Mr. E. Sidney Hartland's Primitive Paternity, and M. Salomon Reinach's Cultes, Mythes et Religions. The labours of these eminent authors have made it possible for the student to obtain a practical knowledge of the ethnology of the world by the perusal of a small number of books; and if any of the ideas put forward in these volumes should ultimately be so fortunate as to obtain acceptance, it is to the above books that I am principally indebted for having been able to formulate them. Other works from which help has been obtained are M. Emile Senart's Les Castes dans I'Inde, Professor W. E. Hearn's The Aryan Household, and Dr. A.H. Keane's The World's Peoples. Sir George Grierson's great work, The Linguistic Survey of India, has now given an accurate classification of the non-Aryan tribes according to their languages and has further thrown a considerable degree of light on the vexed question of their origin. I have received from Mr. W. Crooke of the Indian Civil Service (retired) much kind help and advice during the final stages of the preparation of this work. As will be seen from the articles, resort has constantly been made to his Tribes and Castes for filling up gaps in the local information.

Rai Bahadur Hira Lal was my assistant for several years in the taking of the census of 1901 and the preparation of the Central Provinces District Gazetteers; he has always given the most loyal and unselfish aid, has personally collected a large part of the original information contained in the book, and spent much time in collating the results. The association of his name in the authorship is no more than his due, though except where this has been specifically mentioned, he is not responsible for the theories and deductions from the facts obtained. Mr. Pyare Lal Misra, barrister, Chhindwara, was my ethnographic clerk for some years, and he and Munshi Kanhya Lal, late of the Educational Department, and Mr. Aduram Chandhri, Tahsildar, gave much assistance in the inquiries on different castes. Among others who have helped in the work, Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath, Diwan of the Patna and Bastar States, should be mentioned first, and Babu Kali Prasanna Mukerji, pleader, Saugor, Mr. Gopal Datta Joshi, District Judge, Saugor, Mr. Jeorakhan Lal, Deputy-Inspector of Schools, and Mr. Gokul Prasad, Tahsildar, may be selected from the large number whose names are given in the footnotes to the articles. Among European officers whose assistance should be acknowledged are Messrs. C.E. Low, C.W. Montgomerie, A.B. Napier, A.E. Nelson, A.K. Smith, R.H. Crosthwaite and H.F. Hallifax, of the Civil Service; Lt.-Col. W.D. Sutherland, I.M.S., Surgeon-Major Mitchell of Bastar, and Mr. D. Chisholm.

Some photographs have been kindly contributed by Mrs. Ashbrooke Crump, Mrs. Mangabai Kelkar, Mr. G.L. Corbett, C.S., Mr. R.L. Johnston, A.D.S.P., Mr. J.H. Searle, C.S., Mr. Strachey, Mr. H.E. Bartlett, Professor L. Scherman of Munich, and the Diwan of Raigarh State. Bishop Westcott kindly gave the photograph of Kabir, which appears in his own book.

Finally I have to express my gratitude to the Chief Commissioner, Sir Benjamin Robertson, for the liberal allotment made by the Administration for the publication of the work; and to the publishers, Messrs. Macmillan & Co., and the printers, Messrs. R. & R. Clark, for their courtesy and assistance during its progress through the press.

September 1915.


Part I—Volume I

Introductory Essay on Caste Articles on the Religions and Sects of the People of the Central Provinces Glossary of Minor Castes and Other Articles, Synonyms, Subcastes, Titles and Names of Exogamous Septs or Clans Subject Index

Part II—Volumes II, III and IV

Descriptive Articles on the Principal Castes and Tribes of the Central Provinces


Part I

Articles on Religions and Sects

The articles which are considered to be of most general interest are shown in capitals

ARYA SAMAJ RELIGION 201 BRAHMO SAMAJ RELIGION 208 Dadupanthi Sect 215 Dhami Sect 216 JAIN RELIGION 219 KABIRPANTHI SECT 232 Lingayat Sect 244 MUHAMMADAN RELIGION 247 Nanakpanthi Sect 277 Parmarthi Sect 281 PARSI OR ZOROASTRIAN RELIGION 284 Saiva Sect 302 Sakta Sect 304 SATNAMI SECT 307 Sikh Religion 317 Smarta Sect 325 Swami-Narayan Sect 326 VAISHNAVA SECT 330 Vam-Margi Sect 333 Wahhabi Sect 335

Articles on Minor Castes and Miscellaneous Notices Included in the Glossary

Agamudayan. Alia. Arab. Are. Arora. Bahelia. Bahrupia. Banka. Bargah. Bayar. Belwar. Besta. Bhand. Bhatia. Bhima. Bhona. Bind. Birhor. Bopchi. Chenchuwar. Chero. Dangur. Daraihan. Dhalgar. Dhera. Dohor. Gandli. Girgira. Goyanda. Hatwa. Jasondhi. Jokhara. Kamad. Kamathi. Kamma. Kammala. Kandra. Kast. Khadal. Khadra. Kotwar. Kumrawat. Kundera. Londhari. Madgi. Malyar. Mangan. Marori. Medara. Mirdha. Mukeri. Mutrasi. Nagarchi. Otari. Pabia. Pahalwan. Panchal. Pandra. Parka. Periki. Redka. Rohilla. Sais. Santal. Satani. Segidi. Siddi. Sidhira. Sikligar. Solaha. Sonkar. Tanti. Tirmale. Tiyar. Vellala. Wakkaliga.

Part II—Vol. II

Articles on Castes and Tribes of the Central Provinces in Alphabetical Order

Agaria (Iron-worker) 3 Agharia (Cultivator) 8 Aghori (Religious mendicant) 13 Ahir (Herdsman and milkman) 18 Andh (Tribe, now cultivators) 38 Arakh (Hunter) 40 Atari (Scent-seller) 42 Audhelia (Labourer) 45 Badhak (Robber) 49 Bahna (Cotton-cleaner) 69 Baiga (Forest tribe) 77 Bairagi (Religious mendicants) 93 Balahi (Labourer and village watchman) 105 Balija (Cultivator) 108 Bania (Merchant and moneylender) 111

Subcastes of Bania

Agarwala. Agrahari. Ajudhiabasi. Asathi. Charnagri. Dhusar. Dosar. Gahoi. Golapurab. Kasarwani. Kasaundhan. Khandelwal. Lad. Lingayat. Maheshri. Nema. Oswal. Parwar. Srimali. Umre.

Banjara (Pack-carrier) 162 Barai (Betel-vine grower and seller) 192 Barhai (Carpenter) 199 Bari (Maker of leaf-plates) 202 Basdewa (Cattle-dealer and religious mendicant) 204 Basor (Bamboo-worker) 208 Bedar (Soldier and public service) 212 Beldar (Digger and navvy) 215 Beria (Vagabond gipsy) 220 Bhaina (Forest tribe) 225 Bhamta (Criminal tribe and labourers) 234 Bharbhunja (Grain-parcher) 238 Bharia (Forest tribe) 242 Bhat (Bard and genealogist) 251 Bhatra (Forest tribe) 271 Bhil (Forest tribe) 278 Bhilala (Landowner and cultivator) 293 Bhishti (Water-man) 298 Bhoyar (Cultivator) 301 Bhuiya (Forest tribe) 305 Bhulia (Weaver) 319 Bhunjia (Forest tribe) 322 Binjhwar (Cultivator) 329 Bishnoi (Cultivator) 337 Bohra (Trader) 345 Brahman (Priest) 351

Subcastes of Brahman

Ahivasi. Jijhotia. Kanaujia, Kanyakubja. Khedawal. Maharashtra. Maithil. Malwi. Nagar. Naramdeo. Sanadhya. Sarwaria. Utkal.

Chadar (Village watchman and labourer) 400 Chamar (Tanner and labourer) 403 Chasa (Cultivator) 424 Chauhan (Village watchman and labourer) 427 Chhipa (Dyer and calico-printer) 429 Chitari (Painter) 432 Chitrakathi (Picture showman) 438 Cutchi (Trader and shopkeeper) 440 Dahait (Village watchman and labourer) 444 Daharia (Cultivator) 453 Dangi (Landowner and cultivator) 457 Dangri (Vegetable-grower) 463 Darzi (Tailor) 466 Dewar (Beggar and musician) 472 Dhakar (Illegitimate, cultivator) 477 Dhangar (Shepherd) 480 Dhanuk (Bowman, labourer) 484 Dhanwar (Forest tribe) 488 Dhimar (Fisherman, water-carrier, and household servant) 502 Dhoba (Forest tribe, cultivator) 515 Dhobi (Washerman) 519 Dhuri (Grain-parcher) 527 Dumal (Cultivator) 530 Fakir (Religious mendicant) 537

Part II—Vol. III

Gadaria (Shepherd) 3 Gadba (Forest tribe) 9 Ganda (Weaver and labourer) 14 Gandhmali (Uriya village priests and temple servants) 17 Garpagari (Averter of hailstorms) 19 Gauria (Snake-charmer and juggler) 24 Ghasia (Grass-cutter) 27 Ghosi (Buffalo-herdsman) 32 Golar (Herdsman) 35 Gond (Forest tribe and cultivator) 39 Gond-Gowari (Herdsman) 143 Gondhali (Religious mendicant) 144 Gopal (Vagrant criminal caste) 147 Gosain (Religious mendicant) 150 Gowari (Herdsman) 160 Gujar (Cultivator) 166 Gurao (Village Priest) 175 Halba (Forest tribe, labourer) 182 Halwai (Confectioner) 201 Hatkar (Soldier, shepherd) 204 Hijra (Eunuch, mendicant) 206 Holia (Labourer, curing hides) 212 Injhwar (Boatman and fisherman) 213 Jadam (Cultivator) 217 Jadua (Criminal caste) 219 Jangam (Priest of the Lingayat sect) 222 Jat (Landowner and cultivator) 225 Jhadi Telenga (Illegitimate, labourer) 238 Jogi (Religious mendicant and pedlar) 243 Joshi (Astrologer and village priest) 255 Julaha (Weaver) 279 Kachera (Maker of glass bangles) 281 Kachhi (Vegetable-grower) 285 Kadera (Firework-maker) 288 Kahar (Palanquin-bearer and household servant) 291 Kaikari (Basket-maker and vagrant) 296 Kalanga (Soldier, cultivator) 302 Kalar (Liquor vendor) 306 Kamar (Forest tribe) 323 Kanjar (Gipsies and prostitutes) 331 Kapewar (Cultivator) 342 Karan (Writer and clerk) 343 Kasai (Butcher) 346 Kasar (Worker in brass) 369 Kasbi (Prostitute) 373 Katia (Cotton-spinner) 384 Kawar (Forest tribe and cultivator) 389 Kayasth (Village accountant, writer and clerk) 404 Kewat (Boatman and fisherman) 422 Khairwar (Forest tribe; boilers of catechu) 427 Khandait (Soldier, cultivator) 436 Khangar (Village watchman and labourer) 439 Kharia (Forest tribe, labourer) 445 Khatik (Mutton-butcher) 453 Khatri (Merchant) 456 Khojah (Trader and shopkeeper) 461 Khond (Forest tribe, cultivator) 464 Kir (Cultivator) 481 Kirar (Cultivator) 485 Kohli (Cultivator) 493 Kol (Forest tribe, labourer) 500 Kolam (Forest tribe, cultivator) 520 Kolhati (Acrobat) 527 Koli (Forest tribe, cultivator) 532 Kolta (Landowner and cultivator) 537 Komti (Merchant and shopkeeper) 542 Kori (Weaver and labourer) 545 Korku (Forest tribe, labourer) 550 Korwa (Forest tribe, cultivator) 571 Koshti (Weaver) 581

Part II—Vol. IV

Kumhar (Potter) 3 Kunbi (Cultivator) 16 Kunjra (Greengrocer) 50 Kuramwar (Shepherd) 52 Kurmi (Cultivator) 55 Lakhera (Worker in lac) 104 Lodhi (Landowner and cultivator) 112 Lohar (Blacksmith) 120 Lorha (Growers of san-hemp) 126 Mahar (Weaver and labourer) 129 Mahli (Forest tribe) 146 Majhwar (Forest tribe) 149 Mal (Forest tribe) 153 Mala (Cotton-weaver and labourer) 156 Mali (Gardener and vegetable-grower) 159 Mallah (Boatman and fisherman) 171 Mana (Forest tribe, cultivator) 172 Manbhao (Religious mendicant) 176 Mang (Labourer and village musician) 184 Mang-Garori (Criminal caste) 189 Manihar (Pedlar) 193 Mannewar (Forest tribe) 195 Maratha (Soldier, cultivator and service) 198 Mehtar (Sweeper and scavenger) 215 Meo (Tribe) 233 Mina or Deswali (Non-Aryan tribe, cultivator) 235 Mirasi (Bard and genealogist) 242 Mochi (Shoemaker) 244 Mowar (Cultivator) 250 Murha (Digger and navvy) 252 Nagasia (Forest tribe) 257 Nahal (Forest tribe) 259 Nai (Barber) 262 Naoda (Boatman and fisherman) 283 Nat (Acrobat) 286 Nunia (Salt-refiner, digger and navvy) 294 Ojha (Augur and soothsayer) 296 Oraon (Forest tribe) 299 Paik (Soldier, cultivator) 321 Panka (Labourer and village watchman) 324 Panwar Rajput (Landowner and cultivator) 330 Pardhan (Minstrel and priest) 352 Pardhi (Hunter and fowler) 359 Parja (Forest tribe) 371 Pasi (Toddy-drawer and labourer) 380 Patwa (Maker of silk braid and thread) 385 Pindari (Freebooter) 388 Prabhu (Writer and clerk) 399 Raghuvansi (Cultivator) 403 Rajjhar (Agricultural labourer) 405 Rajput (Soldier and landowner) 410

Rajput Clans

Baghel. Bagri. Bais. Baksaria. Banaphar. Bhadauria. Bisen. Bundela. Chandel. Chauban. Dhakar. Gaharwar. Gaur. Haihaya. Huna. Kachhwaha. Nagvansi. Nikumbh. Paik. Parihar. Rathor. Sesodia. Solankhi. Somvansi. Surajvansi. Tomara. Yadu.

Rajwar (Forest tribe) 470 Ramosi (Village watchmen and labourers, formerly thieves) 472 Rangrez (Dyer) 477 Rautia (Forest tribe and cultivators, formerly soldiers) 479 Sanaurhia (Criminal thieving caste) 483 Sansia (Vagrant criminal tribe) 488 Sansia (Uria) (Mason and digger) 496 Savar (Forest tribe) 500 Sonjhara (Gold-washer) 509 Sudh (Cultivator) 514 Sunar (Goldsmith and silversmith) 517 Sundi (Liquor distiller) 534 Tamera (Coppersmith) 536 Taonla (Soldier and labourer) 539 Teli (Oilman) 542 Thug (Criminal community of murderers by strangulation) 558 Turi (Bamboo-worker) 588 Velama (Cultivator) 593 Vidur (Village accountant, clerk and writer) 596 Waghya (Religious mendicant) 603 Yerukala (Criminal thieving caste) 606

Note.—The Gonds are the most important of the non-Aryan or primitive tribes, and their social customs are described in detail. The Baiga, Bhil, Kawar, Khond, Kol, Korku and Korwa are other important tribes. The two representative cultivating castes are the Kurmis and Kunbis, and the articles on them include detailed descriptions of Hindu social customs, and some information on villages, houses, dress, food and manner of life. Articles in which subjects of general interest are treated are Darzi (clothes), Sunar (ornaments), Kachera and Lakhera (bangles), Nai (hair), Kalar (veneration of alcoholic liquor), Bania (moneylending and interest), Kasai (worship and sacrifice of domestic animals), Joshi (the Hindu calendar and personal names), Bhat (suicide), Dahait (significance of the umbrella), and Kanjar (connection of Indian and European gipsies). The articles on Badhak, Sansia and Thug are compiled from Sir William Sleeman's reports on these communities of dacoits and murderers, whose suppression he achieved. For further information the Subject Index may be consulted.



Map of India Frontispiece Map of the Central Provinces Map of the Central Provinces, showing principal linguistic or racial divisions 6


Volume I

1. Hindu temple of the god Siva 16 2. Hindu sculptures 26 3. Peasant's hut 40 4. Group of religious mendicants 56 5. Drawing water from the village well 72 6. Gayatri or sacred verse personified as a goddess 108 7. Image of the god Jagannath, a form of Vishnu 118 8. The god Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, with attendant deities 144 9. Hindu bathing party 158 10. Pilgrims carrying Ganges water 184 11. A meeting of the Arya Samaj for investing boys with the sacred thread 202 12. Jain temples at Muktagiri, Betul 220 13. Jain ascetics with cloth before mouth and sweeping-brush 224 14. Jain gods in attitude of contemplation 228 15. Jain temple in Seoni 230 16. Kabir 232 17. Beggar on artificial horse at the Muharram festival 248 18. Carrying the horse-shoe at the Muharram festival 252 19. Tazia or tombs of Hussain at the Muharram festival 256 20. Famous Tazia at Khandwa 260 21. Representing a tiger at the Muharram festival 272 22. Temple of Siva at Bandakpur, near Damoh 302 23. Images of Siva and his consort Devi, or Parvati, with the bull and tiger 304 24. Devotees, possessed, embracing each other, while supported on tridents, at Siva's fair at Pachmarhi 306 25. Image of the prophet Swami Narayan in the Teli temple at Burhanpur 326 26. Images of Rama, Lachman and Sita, with attendants 330 27. Image of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, the consort of Vishnu, with attendant 332 28. Image of the boar incarnation of Vishnu 334 29. Bahrupia impersonating the goddess Kali 344 30. Dasari religious mendicant with discus and conch-shell of Vishnu 406

Volume II

31. Aghori mendicant 14 32. Ahirs decorated with cowries for the Stick Dance at Diwali 18 33. Image of Krishna as Murlidhar or the flute-player, with attendant deities 28 34. Ahir dancers in Diwali costume 32 35. Pinjara cleaning cotton 72 36. Baiga village, Balaghat District 88 37. Hindu mendicants with sect-marks 94 38. Anchorite sitting on iron nails 98 39. Pilgrims carrying water of the river Nerbudda 100 40. Coloured Plate: Examples of Tilaks or sect-marks worn on the forehead 102 41. Group of Marwari Bania women 112 42. Image of the god Ganpati carried in procession 116 43. The elephant-headed god Ganpati. His conveyance is a rat, which can be seen as a little blob between his feet 120 44. Mud images made and worshipped at the Holi festival 126 45. Bania's shop 128 46. Banjara women with the singh or horn 184 47. Group of Banjara women 188 48. Basors making baskets of bamboo 210 49. Bhat with his putla or doll 256 50. Group of Bhils 278 51. Tantia Bhil, a famous dacoit 282 52. Group of Bohras at Burhanpur (Nimar) 346 53. Brahman worshipping his household gods 380 54. Brahman bathing party 384 55. Brahman Pujaris or priests 390 56. Group of Maratha Brahman men 392 57. Group of Naramdeo Brahman women 396 58. Group of Naramdeo Brahman men 398 59. Chamars tanning and working in leather 416 60. Chamars cutting leather and making shoes 418 61. Chhipa or calico-printer at work 430 62. Dhimar or fisherman's hut 502 63. Fishermen in dug-outs or hollowed tree trunks 506 64. Group of Gurujwale Fakirs 538

Volume III

65. Gond women grinding corn 42 66. Palace of the Gond kings of Garha-Mandla at Ramnagar 46 67. Gonds on a journey 62 68. Killing of Rawan, the demon king of Ceylon, from whom the Gonds are supposed to be descended 114 69. Woman about to be swung round the post called Meghnath 116 70. Climbing the pole for a bag of sugar 118 71. Gonds with their bamboo carts at market 122 72. Gond women, showing tattooing on backs of legs 126 73. Maria Gonds in dancing costume 136 74. Gondhali musicians and dancers 144 75. Gosain mendicant 150 76. Alakhwale Gosains with faces covered with ashes 152 77. Gosain mendicants with long hair 154 78. Famous Gosain Mahant. Photograph taken after death 156 79. Gujar village proprietress and her land agent 168 80. Guraos with figures made at the Holi festival called Gangour 176 81. Group of Gurao musicians with their instruments 180 82. Ploughing with cows and buffaloes in Chhattisgarh 182 83. Halwai or confectioner's shop 202 84. Jogi mendicants of the Kanphata sect 244 85. Jogi musicians with sarangi or fiddle 250 86. Kaikaris making baskets 298 87. Kanjars making ropes 332 88. A group of Kasars or brass-workers 370 89. Dancing girls and musicians 374 90. Girl in full dress and ornaments 378 91. Old type of sugarcane mill 494 92. Group of Kol women 512 93. Group of Kolams 520 94. Korkus of the Melghat hills 550 95. Korku women in full dress 556 96. Koshti men dancing a figure, holding strings and beating sticks 582

Volume IV

97. Potter at his wheel 4 98. Group of Kunbis 16 99. Figures of animals made for Pola festival 40 100. Hindu boys on stilts 42 101. Throwing stilts into the water at the Pola festival 46 102. Carrying out the dead 48 103. Pounding rice 60 104. Sowing 84 105. Threshing 86 106. Winnowing 88 107. Women grinding wheat and husking rice 90 108. Group of women in Hindustani dress 92 109. Coloured Plate: Examples of spangles worn by women on the forehead 106 110. Weaving: sizing the warp 142 111. Winding thread 144 112. Bride and bridegroom with marriage crowns 166 113. Bullocks drawing water with mot 170 114. Mang musicians with drums 186 115. Statue of Maratha leader, Bimbaji Bhonsla, in armour 200 116. Image of the god Vishnu as Vithoba 248 117. Coolie women with babies slung at the side 256 118. Hindu men showing the choti or scalp-lock 272 119. Snake-charmer with cobras 292 120. Transplanting rice 340 121. Group of Pardhans 350 122. Little girls playing 400 123. Gujarati girls doing figures with strings and sticks 402 124. Ornaments 524 125. Teli's oil-press 544 126. The Goddess Kali 574 127. Waghya mendicants 604


a has the sound of u in but or murmur. a has the sound of a in bath or tar. e has the sound of e in ecarte or ai in maid. i has the sound of i in bit, or (as a final letter) of y in sulky i has the sound of ee in beet. o has the sound of o in bore or bowl. u has the sound of u in put or bull. u has the sound of oo in poor or boot.

The plural of caste names and a few common Hindustani words is formed by adding s in the English manner according to ordinary usage, though this is not, of course, the Hindustani plural.

Note.—The rupee contains 16 annas, and an anna is of the same value as a penny. A pice is a quarter of an anna, or a farthing. Rs. 1-8 signifies one rupee and eight annas. A lakh is a hundred thousand, and a krore ten million.



List of Paragraphs

1. The Central Provinces. 2. Constitution of the population. 3. The word 'Caste.' 4. The meaning of the term 'Caste.' 5. The subcaste. 6. Confusion of nomenclature. 7. Tests of what a caste is. 8. The four traditional castes. 9. Occupational theory of caste. 10. Racial theory. 11. Entry of the Aryans into India. The Aryas and Dasyus. 12. The Sudra. 13. The Vaishya. 14. Mistaken modern idea of the Vaishyas. 15. Mixed unions of the four classes. 16. Hypergamy. 17. The mixed castes. The village menials. 18. Social gradation of castes. 19. Castes ranking above the cultivators. 20. Castes from whom a Brahman can take water. Higher agriculturists. 21. Status of the cultivator. 22. The clan and the village. 23. The ownership of land. 24. The cultivating status that of the Vaishya. 25. Higher professional and artisan castes. 26. Castes from whom a Brahman cannot take water; the village menials. 27. The village watchmen. 28. The village priests. The gardening castes. 29. Other village traders and menials. 30. Household servants. 31. Status of the village menials. 32. Origin of their status. 33. Other castes who rank with the village menials. 34. The non-Aryan tribes. 35. The Kolarians and Dravidians. 36. Kolarian tribes. 37. Dravidian tribes. 38. Origin of the Kolarian tribes. 39. Of the Dravidian tribes. 40. Origin of the impure castes. 41. Derivation of the impure castes from the indigenous tribes. 42. Occupation the basis of the caste-system. 43. Other agents in the formation of castes. 44. Caste occupations divinely ordained. 45. Subcastes, local type. 46. Occupational subcastes. 47. Subcastes formed from social or religious differences, or from mixed descent. 48. Exogamous groups. 49. Totemistic clans. 50. Terms of relationship. 51. Clan kinship and totemism. 52. Animate Creation. 53. The distribution of life over the body. 54. Qualities associated with animals. 55. Primitive language. 56. Concrete nature of primitive ideas. 57. Words and names concrete. 58. The soul or spirit. 59. The transmission of qualities. 60. The faculty of counting. Confusion of the individual and the species. 61. Similarity and identity. 62. The recurrence of events. 63. Controlling the future. 64. The common life. 65. The common life of the clan. 66. Living and eating together. 67. The origin of exogamy. 68. Promiscuity and female descent. 69. Exogamy with female descent. 70. Marriage. 71. Marriage by capture. 72. Transfer of the bride to her husband's clan. 73. The exogamous clan with male descent and the village. 74. The large exogamous clans of the Brahmans and Rajputs. The Sapindas, the gens and the g'enoc. 75. Comparison of Hindu society with that of Greece and Rome. The gens. 76. The clients. 77. The plebeians. 78. The binding social tie in the city-states. 79. The Suovetaurilia. 80. The sacrifice of the domestic animal. 81. Sacrifices of the gens and phratry. 82. The Hindu caste-feasts. 83. Taking food at initiation. 84. Penalty feasts. 85. Sanctity of grain-food. 86. The corn-spirit. 87. The king. 88. Other instances of the common meal as a sacrificial rite. 89. Funeral feasts. 90. The Hindu deities and the sacrificial meal. 91. Development of the occupational caste from the tribe. 92. Veneration of the caste implements. 93. The caste panchayat and its code of offences. 94. The status of impurity. 95. Caste and Hinduism. 96. The Hindu reformers. 97. Decline of the caste system.

1. The Central Provinces.

The territory controlled by the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces and Berar has an area of 131,000 square miles and a population of 16,000,000 persons. Situated in the centre of the Indian Peninsula, between latitudes 17 deg.47' and 24 deg.27' north, and longitudes 76 deg. and 84 deg. east, it occupies about 7.3 per cent of the total area of British India. It adjoins the Central India States and the United Provinces to the north, Bombay to the west, Hyderabad State and the Madras Presidency to the south, and the Province of Bihar and Orissa to the east. The Province was constituted as a separate administrative unit in 1861 from territories taken from the Peshwa in 1818 and the Maratha State of Nagpur, which had lapsed from failure of heirs in 1853. Berar, which for a considerable previous period had been held on a lease or assignment from the Nizam of Hyderabad, was incorporated for administrative purposes with the Central Provinces in 1903. In 1905 the bulk of the District of Sambalpur, with five Feudatory States inhabited by an Uriya-speaking population, were transferred to Bengal and afterwards to the new Province of Bihar and Orissa, while five Feudatory States of Chota Nagpur were received from Bengal. The former territory had been for some years included in the scope of the Ethnographic Survey, and is shown coloured in the annexed map of linguistic and racial divisions.

The main portion of the Province may be divided, from north-west to south-east, into three tracts of upland, alternating with two of plain country. In the north-west the Districts of Sangor and Damoh lie on the Vindhyan or Malwa plateau, the southern face of which rises almost sheer from the valley of the Nerbudda. The general elevation of this plateau varies from 1500 to 2000 feet. The highest part is that immediately overhanging the Nerbudda, and the general slope is to the north, the rivers of this area being tributaries of the Jumna and Ganges. The surface of the country is undulating and broken by frequent low hills covered with a growth of poor and stunted forest. The second division consists of the long and narrow valley of the Nerbudda, walled in by the Vindhyan and Satpura hills to the north and south, and extending for a length of about 200 miles from Jubbulpore to Handia, with an average width of twenty miles. The valley is situated to the south of the river, and is formed of deep alluvial deposits of extreme richness, excellently suited to the growth of wheat. South of the valley the Satpura range or third division stretches across the Province, from Amarkantak in the east (the sacred source of the Nerbudda) to Asirgarh in the Nimar District in the west, where its two parallel ridges bound the narrow valley of the Tapti river. The greater part consists of an elevated plateau, in some parts merely a rugged mass of hills hurled together by volcanic action, in others a succession of bare stony ridges and narrow fertile valleys, in which the soil has been deposited by drainage. The general elevation of the plateau is 2000 feet, but several of the peaks rise to 3500, and a few to more than 4000 feet. The Satpuras form the most important watershed of the Province, and in addition to the Nerbudda and Tapti, the Wardha and Wainganga rivers rise in these hills. To the east a belt of hill country continues from the Satpuras to the wild and rugged highlands of the Chota Nagpur plateau, on which are situated the five States recently annexed to the Province. Extending along the southern and eastern faces of the Satpura range lies the fourth geographical division, to the west the plain of Berar and Nagpur, watered by the Purna, Wardha and Wainganga rivers, and further east the Chhattisgarh plain, which forms the upper basin of the Mahanadi. The Berar and Nagpur plain contains towards the west the shallow black soil in which autumn crops, like cotton and the large millet juari, which do not require excessive moisture, can be successfully cultivated. This area is the great cotton-growing tract of the Province, and at present the most wealthy. The valleys of the Wainganga and Mahanadi further east receive a heavier rainfall and are mainly cropped with rice. Many small irrigation tanks for rice have been built by the people themselves, and large tank and canal works are now being undertaken by Government to protect the tract from the uncertainty of the rainfall. South of the plain lies another expanse of hill and plateau comprised in the zarmindari estates of Chanda and the Chhattisgarh Division and the Bastar and Kanker Feudatory States. This vast area, covering about 24,000 square miles, the greater part of which consists of dense forests traversed by precipitous mountains and ravines, which formerly rendered it impervious to Hindu invasion or immigration, producing only on isolated stretches of culturable land the poorer raincrops, and sparsely peopled by primitive Gonds and other forest tribes, was probably, until a comparatively short time ago, the wildest and least-known part of the whole Indian peninsula. It is now being rapidly opened up by railways and good roads.

2. Constitution of the population.

Up to a few centuries ago the Central Provinces remained outside the sphere of Hindu and Muhammadan conquest. To the people of northern India it was known as Gondwana, an unexplored country of inaccessible mountains and impenetrable forests, inhabited by the savage tribes of Gonds from whom it took its name. Hindu kingdoms were, it is true, established over a large part of its territory in the first centuries of our era, but these were not accompanied by the settlement and opening out of the country, and were subsequently subverted by the Dravidian Gonds, who perhaps invaded the country in large numbers from the south between the ninth and twelfth centuries. Hindu immigration and colonisation from the surrounding provinces occurred at a later period, largely under the encouragement and auspices of Gond kings. The consequence is that the existing population is very diverse, and is made up of elements belonging to many parts of India. The people of the northern Districts came from Bundelkhand and the Gangetic plain, and here are found the principal castes of the United Provinces and the Punjab. The western end of the Nerbudda valley and Betul were colonised from Malwa and Central India. Berar and the Nagpur plain fell to the Marathas, and one of the most important Maratha States, the Bhonsla kingdom, had its capital at Nagpur. Cultivators from western India came and settled on the land, and the existing population are of the same castes as the Maratha country or Bombay. But prior to the Maratha conquest Berar and the Nimar District of the Central Provinces had been included in the Mughal empire, and traces of Mughal rule remain in a substantial Muhammadan element in the population. To the south the Chanda District runs down to the Godavari river, and the southern tracts of Chanda and Bastar State are largely occupied by Telugu immigrants from Madras. To the east of the Nagpur plain the large landlocked area of Chhattisgarh in the upper basin of the Mahanadi was colonised at an early period by Hindus from the east of the United Provinces and Oudh, probably coming through Jubbulpore. A dynasty of the Haihaivansi Rajput clan established itself at Ratanpur, and owing to the inaccessible nature of the country, protected as it is on all sides by a natural rampart of hill and forest, was able to pursue a tranquil existence untroubled by the wars and political vicissitudes of northern India. The population of Chhattisgarh thus constitutes to some extent a distinct social organism, which retained until quite recently many remnants of primitive custom. The middle basin of the Mahanadi to the east of Chhattisgarh, comprising the Sambalpur District and adjoining States, was peopled by Uriyas from Orissa, and though this area has now been restored to its parent province, notices of its principal castes have been included in these volumes. Finally, the population contains a large element of the primitive or non-Aryan tribes, rich in variety, who have retired before the pressure of Hindu cultivators to its extensive hills and forests. The people of the Central Provinces may therefore not unjustly be considered as a microcosm of a great part of India, and conclusions drawn from a consideration of their caste rules and status may claim with considerable probability of success to be applicable to those of the Hindus generally. For the same reason the standard ethnological works of other Provinces necessarily rank as the best authorities on the castes of the Central Provinces, and this fact may explain and excuse the copious resort which has been made to them in these volumes.

3. The word 'Caste.'

The word 'Caste,' Dr. Wilson states, [1] is not of Indian origin, but is derived from the Portuguese casta, signifying race, mould or quality. The Indian word for caste is jat or jati, which has the original meaning of birth or production of a child, and hence denotes good birth or lineage, respectability and rank. Jatha means well-born. Thus jat now signifies a caste, as every Hindu is born into a caste, and his caste determines his social position through life.

4. The meaning of the term 'Caste.'

The two main ideas denoted by a caste are a community or persons following a common occupation, and a community whose members marry only among themselves. A third distinctive feature is that the members of a caste do not as a rule eat with outsiders with the exception of other Hindu castes of a much higher social position than their own. None of these will, however, serve as a definition of a caste. In a number of castes the majority of members have abandoned their traditional occupation and taken to others. Less than a fifth of the Brahmans of the Central Provinces are performing any priestly or religious functions, and the remaining four-fifths are landholders or engaged in Government service as magistrates, clerks of public offices, constables and orderlies, or in railway service in different grades, or in the professions as barristers and pleaders, doctors, engineers and so on. The Rajputs and Marathas were originally soldiers, but only an infinitely small proportion belong to the Indian Army, and the remainder are ruling chiefs, landholders, cultivators, labourers or in the various grades of Government service and the police. Of the Telis or oil-pressers only 9 per cent are engaged in their traditional occupation, and the remainder are landholders, cultivators and shopkeepers. Of the Ahirs or graziers only 20 per cent tend and breed cattle. Only 12 per cent of the Chamars are supported by the tanning industry, and so on. The Bahnas or cotton-cleaners have entirely lost their occupation, as cotton is now cleaned in factories; they are cartmen or cultivators, but retain their caste name and organisation. Since the introduction of machine-made cloth has reduced the profits of hand-loom weaving, large numbers of the weaving castes have been reduced to manual labour as a means of subsistence. The abandonment of the traditional occupation has become a most marked feature of Hindu society as a result of the equal opportunity and freedom in the choice of occupations afforded by the British Government, coupled with the rapid progress of industry and the spread of education. So far it has had no very markedly disintegrating effect on the caste system, and the status of a caste is still mainly fixed by its traditional occupation; but signs are not wanting of a coming change. Again, several castes have the same traditional occupation; about forty of the castes of the Central Provinces are classified as agriculturists, eleven as weavers, seven as fishermen, and so on. Distinctions of occupation therefore are not a sufficient basis for a classification of castes. Nor can a caste be simply defined as a body of persons who marry only among themselves, or, as it is termed, an endogamous group; for almost every important caste is divided into a number of subcastes which do not marry and frequently do not eat with each other. But it is a distinctive and peculiar feature of caste as a social institution that it splits up the people into a multitude of these divisions and bars their intermarriage; and the real unit of the system and the basis of the fabric of Indian society is this endogamous group or subcaste.

5. The subcaste.

The subcastes, however, connote no real difference of status or occupation. They are little known except within the caste itself, and they consist of groups within the caste which marry among themselves, and attend the communal feasts held on the occasions of marriages, funerals and meetings of the caste panchayat or committee for the judgment of offences against the caste rules and their expiation by a penalty feast; to these feasts all male adults of the community, within a certain area, are invited. In the Central Provinces the 250 groups which have been classified as castes contain perhaps 2000 subcastes. Except in some cases other Hindus do not know a man's subcaste, though they always know his caste; among the ignorant lower castes men may often be found who do not know whether their caste contains any subcastes or whether they themselves belong to one. That is, they will eat and marry with all the members of their caste within a circle of villages, but know nothing about the caste outside those villages, or even whether it exists elsewhere. One subdivision of a caste may look down upon another on the ground of some difference of occupation, of origin, or of abstaining from or partaking of some article of food, but these distinctions are usually confined to their internal relations and seldom recognised by outsiders. For social purposes the caste consisting of a number of these endogamous groups generally occupies the same position, determined roughly according to the respectability of its traditional occupation or extraction.

6. Confusion of nomenclature.

No adequate definition of caste can thus be obtained from community of occupation or intermarriage; nor would it be accurate to say that every one must know his own caste and that all the different names returned at the census may be taken as distinct. In the Central Provinces about 900 caste-names were returned at the census of 1901, and these were reduced in classification to about 250 proper castes.

In some cases synonyms are commonly used. The caste of pan or betel-vine growers and sellers is known indifferently as Barai, Pansari or Tamboli. The great caste of Ahirs or herdsmen has several synonyms—as Gaoli in the Northern Districts, Rawat or Gahra in Chhattisgarh, Gaur among the Uriyas, and Golkar among Telugus. Lohars are also called Khati and Kammari; Masons are called Larhia, Raj and Beldar. The more distinctly occupational castes usually have different names in different parts of the country, as Dhobi, Warthi, Baretha, Chakla and Parit for washermen; Basor, Burud, Kandra and Dhulia for bamboo-workers, and so on. Such names may show that the subdivisions to which they are applied have immigrated from different parts of India, but the distinction is generally not now maintained, and many persons will return one or other of them indifferently. No object is gained, therefore, by distinguishing them in classification, as they correspond to no differences of status or occupation, and at most denote groups which do not intermarry, and which may therefore more properly be considered as subcastes.

Titles or names of offices are also not infrequently given as caste names. Members of the lowest or impure castes employed in the office of Kotwar or village watchmen prefer to call themselves by this name, as they thus obtain a certain rise in status, or at least they think so. In some localities the Kotwars or village watchmen have begun to marry among themselves and try to form a separate caste. Chamars (tanners) or Mahars (weavers) employed as grooms will call themselves Sais and consider themselves superior to the rest of their caste. The Thethwar Rawats or Ahirs will not clean household cooking-vessels, and therefore look down on the rest of the caste and prefer to call themselves by this designation, as 'Theth' means 'exact' or 'pure,' and Thethwar is one who has not degenerated from the ancestral calling. Salewars are a subcaste of Koshtis (weavers), who work only in silk and hence consider themselves as superior to the other Koshtis and a separate caste. The Rathor subcaste of Telis in Mandla have abandoned the hereditary occupation of oil-pressing and become landed proprietors. They now wish to drop their own caste and to be known only as Rathor, the name of one of the leading Rajput clans, in the hope that in time it will be forgotten that they ever were Telis, and they will be admitted into the community of Rajputs. It occurred to them that the census would be a good opportunity of advancing a step towards the desired end, and accordingly they telegraphed to the Commissioner of Jubbulpore before the enumeration, and petitioned the Chief Commissioner after it had been taken, to the effect that they might be recorded and classified only as Rathor and not as Teli; this method of obtaining recognition of their claims being, as remarked by Sir Bampfylde Fuller, a great deal cheaper than being weighed against gold. On the other hand, a common occupation may sometimes amalgamate castes originally distinct into one. The sweeper's calling is well-defined and under the generific term of Mehtar are included members of two or three distinct castes, as Dom, Bhangi and Chuhra; the word Mehtar means a prince or headman, and it is believed that its application to the sweeper by the other servants is ironical. It has now, however, been generally adopted as a caste name. Similarly, Darzi, a tailor, was held by Sir D. Ibbetson to be simply the name of a profession and not that of a caste; but it is certainly a true caste in the Central Provinces, though probably of comparatively late origin. A change of occupation may transfer a whole body of persons from one caste to another. A large section of the Banjara caste of carriers, who have taken to cultivation, have become included in the Kunbi caste in Berar and are known as Wanjari Kunbi. Another subcaste of the Kunbis called Manwa is derived from the Mana tribe. Telis or oilmen, who have taken to vending liquor, now form a subcaste of the Kalar caste called Teli-Kalar; those who have become shopkeepers are called Teli-Bania and may in time become an inferior section of the Bania caste. Other similar subcastes are the Ahir-Sunars or herdsmen-goldsmiths, the Kayasth-Darzis or tailors, the Kori-Chamars or weaver-tanners, the Gondi Lohars and Barhais, being Gonds who have become carpenters and blacksmiths and been admitted to these castes; the Mahar Mhalis or barbers, and so on.

7. Tests of what a caste is.

It would appear, then, that no precise definition of a caste can well be formulated to meet all difficulties. In classification, each doubtful case must be taken by itself, and it must be determined, on the information available, whether any body of persons, consisting of one or more endogamous groups, and distinguished by one or more separate names, can be recognised as holding, either on account of its traditional occupation or descent, such a distinctive position in the social system, that it should be classified as a caste. But not even the condition of endogamy can be accepted as of universal application; for Vidurs, who are considered to be descended from Brahman fathers and women of other castes, will, though marrying among themselves, still receive the offspring of such mixed alliances into the community; in the case of Gosains and Bairagis, who, from being religious orders, have become castes, admission is obtained by initiation as well as by birth, and the same is the case with several other orders; some of the lower castes will freely admit outsiders; and in parts of Chhattisgarh social ties are of the laxest description, and the intermarriage of Gonds, Chamars and other low castes are by no means infrequent. But notwithstanding these instances, the principle of the restriction of marriage to members of the caste is so nearly universal as to be capable of being adopted as a definition.

8. The four traditional castes.

The well-known traditional theory of caste is that the Aryans were divided from the beginning of time into four castes: Brahmans or priests, Kshatriyas or warriors, Vaishyas or merchants and cultivators, and Sudras or menials and labourers, all of whom had a divine origin, being born from the body of Brahma—the Brahmans from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaishyas from his thighs, and the Sudras from his feet. Intermarriage between the four castes was not at first entirely prohibited, and a man of any of the three higher ones, provided that for his first wife he took a woman of his own caste, could subsequently marry others of the divisions beneath his own. In this manner the other castes originated. Thus the Kaivarttas or Kewats were the offspring of a Kshatriya father and Vaishya mother, and so on. Mixed marriages in the opposite direction, of a woman of a higher caste with a man of a lower one, were reprobated as strongly as possible, and the offspring of these were relegated to the lowest position in society; thus the Chandals, or descendants of a Sudra father and Brahman mother, were of all men the most base. It has been recognised that this genealogy, though in substance the formation of a number of new castes through mixed descent may have been correct, is, as regards the details, an attempt made by a priestly law-giver to account, on the lines of orthodox tradition, for a state of society which had ceased to correspond to them.

9. Occupational theory of caste.

In the ethnographic description of the people of the Punjab, which forms the Caste chapter of Sir Denzil Ibbetson's Census Report of 1881, it was pointed out that occupation was the chief basis of the division of castes, and there is no doubt that this is true. Every separate occupation has produced a distinct caste, and the status of the caste depends now mainly or almost entirely on its occupation. The fact that there may be several castes practising such important callings as agriculture or weaving does not invalidate this in any way, and instances of the manner in which such castes have been developed will be given subsequently. If a caste changes its occupation it may, in the course of time, alter its status in a corresponding degree. The important Kayasth and Gurao castes furnish instances of this. Castes, in fact, tend to rise or fall in social position with the acquisition of land or other forms of wealth or dignity much in the same manner as individuals do nowadays in European countries. Hitherto in India it has not been the individual who has undergone the process; he inherits the social position of the caste in which he is born, and, as a rule, retains it through life without the power of altering it. It is the caste, as a whole, or at least one of its important sections or subcastes, which gradually rises or falls in social position, and the process may extend over generations or even centuries.

In the Brief Sketch of the Caste System of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Mr. J.C. Nesfield puts forward the view that the whole basis of the caste system is the division of occupations, and that the social gradation of castes corresponds precisely to the different periods of civilisation during which their traditional occupations originated. Thus the lowest castes are those allied to the primitive occupation of hunting, Pasi, Bhar, Bahelia, because the pursuit of wild animals was the earliest stage in the development of human industry. Next above these come the fishing castes, fishing being considered somewhat superior to hunting, because water is a more sacred element among Hindus than land, and there is less apparent cruelty in the capturing of fish than the slaughtering of animals; these are the Kahars, Kewats, Dhimars and others. Above these come the pastoral castes—Ghosi, Gadaria, Gujar and Ahir; and above them the agricultural castes, following the order in which these occupations were adopted during the progress of civilisation. At the top of the system stands the Rajput or Chhatri, the warrior, whose duty is to protect all the lower castes, and the Brahman, who is their priest and spiritual guide. Similarly, the artisan castes are divided into two main groups; the lower one consists of those whose occupations preceded the age of metallurgy, as the Chamars and Mochis or tanners, Koris or weavers, the Telis or oil-pressers, Kalars or liquor-distillers, Kumhars or potters, and Lunias or salt-makers. The higher group includes those castes whose occupations were coeval with the age of metallurgy, that is, those who work in stone, wood and metals, and who make clothing and ornaments, as the Barhai or worker in wood, the Lohar or worker in iron, the Kasera and Thathera, brass-workers, and the Sunar or worker in the precious metals, ranking precisely in this order of precedence, the Sunar being the highest. The theory is still further developed among the trading castes, who are arranged in a similar manner, beginning from the Banjara or forest trader, the Kunjra or greengrocer, and the Bharbhunja or grain-parcher, up to the classes of Banias and Khatris or shopkeepers and bankers.

It can hardly be supposed that the Hindus either consciously or unconsciously arranged their gradation of society in a scientific order of precedence in the manner described. The main divisions of social precedence are correctly stated by Mr. Nesfield, but it will be suggested in this essay that they arose naturally from the divisions of the principal social organism of India, the village community. Nevertheless Mr. Nesfield's book will always rank as a most interesting and original contribution to the literature of the subject, and his work did much to stimulate inquiry into the origin of the caste system.

10. Racial Theory.

In his Introduction to the Tribes and Castes of Bengal Sir Herbert Risley laid stress on the racial basis of caste, showing that difference of race and difference of colour were the foundation of the Indian caste system or division of the people into endogamous units. There seems reason to suppose that the contact of the Aryans with the indigenous people of India was, to a large extent, responsible for the growth of the caste system, and the main racial divisions may perhaps even now be recognised, though their racial basis has, to a great extent, vanished. But when we come to individual castes and subcastes, the scrutiny of their origin, which has been made in the individual articles, appears to indicate that caste distinctions cannot, as a rule, be based on supposed difference of race. Nevertheless Sir H. Risley's Castes and Tribes of Bengal and Peoples of India will, no doubt, always be considered as standard authorities, while as Census Commissioner for India and Director of Ethnography he probably did more to foster this branch of research in India generally than any other man has ever done.

11. Entry of the Aryans into India. The Aryas and Dasyus.

M. Emile Senart, in his work Les Castes dans l'Inde, gives an admirable sketch of the features marking the entry of the Aryans into India and their acquisition of the country, from which the following account is largely taken. The institution of caste as it is understood at present did not exist among the Aryans of the Vedic period, on their first entry into India. The word varna, literally 'colour,' which is afterwards used in speaking of the four castes, distinguishes in the Vedas two classes only: there are the Arya Varna and the Dasa Varna—the Aryan race and the race of enemies. In other passages the Dasyus are spoken of as black, and Indra is praised for protecting the Aryan colour. In later literature the black race, Krishna Varna, are opposed to the Brahmans, and the same word is used of the distinction between Aryas and Sudras. The word varna was thus used, in the first place, not of four castes, but of two hostile races, one white and the other black. It is said that Indra divided the fields among his white-coloured people after destroying the Dasyus, by whom may be understood the indigenous barbarian races. [2] The word Dasyu, which frequently recurs in the Vedas, probably refers to the people of foreign countries or provinces like the Goim or Gentiles of the Hebrews. The Dasyus were not altogether barbarians, for they had cities and other institutions showing a partial civilisation, though the Aryas, lately from more bracing climes than those which they inhabited, proved too strong for them. [3] To the Aryans the word Dasyu had the meaning of one who not only did not perform religious rites, but attempted to harass their performers. Another verse says, "Distinguish, O Indra, between the Aryas and those who are Dasyus: punishing those who perform no religious rites; compel them to submit to the sacrifices; be thou the powerful, the encourager of the sacrificer." [4]

Rakshasa was another designation given to the tribes with whom the Aryans were in hostility. Its meaning is strong, gigantic or powerful, and among the modern Hindus it is a word for a devil or demon. In the Satapatha Brahmana of the white Yajur-Veda the Rakshasas are represented as 'prohibiters,' that is 'prohibiters of the sacrifice.' [5] Similarly, at a later period, Manu describes Aryavarrta, or the abode of the Aryas, as the country between the eastern and western oceans, and between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas, that is Hindustan, the Deccan being not then recognised as an abode of the Aryans. And he thus speaks of the country: "From a Brahman born in Aryavarrta let all men on earth learn their several usages." "That land on which the black antelope naturally grazes, is held fit for the performance of sacrifices; but the land of Mlechchhas (foreigners) is beyond it." "Let the three first classes (Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas) invariably dwell in the above-mentioned countries; but a Sudra distressed for subsistence may sojourn wherever he chooses." [6]

Another passage states: "If some pious king belonging to the Kshatriya or some other caste should defeat the Mlechchhas [7] and establish a settlement of the four castes in their territories, and accept the Mlechchhas thus defeated as Chandalas (the most impure caste in ancient Hindu society) as is the case in Aryavarrta, then that country also becomes fit for sacrifice. For no land is impure of itself. A land becomes so only by contact." This passage is quoted by a Hindu writer with the same reference to the Code of Manu as the preceding one, but it is not found there and appears to be a gloss by a later writer, explaining how the country south of the Vindhyas, which is excluded by Manu, should be rendered fit for Aryan settlement. [8] Similarly in a reference in the Brahmanas to the migration of the Aryans eastward from the Punjab it is stated that Agni the fire-god flashed forth from the mouth of a priest invoking him at a sacrifice and burnt across all the five rivers, and as far as he burnt Brahmans could live. Agni, as the god of fire by which the offerings were consumed, was addressed as follows: "We kindle thee at the sacrifice, O wise Agni, the sacrificer, the luminous, the mighty." [9] The sacrifices referred to were, in the early period, of domestic animals, the horse, ox or goat, the flesh of which was partaken of by the worshippers, and the sacred Soma-liquor, which was drunk by them; the prohibition or discouragement of animal sacrifices for the higher castes gradually came about at a later time, and was probably to a large extent due to the influence of Buddhism.

The early sacrifice was in the nature of a communal sacred meal at which the worshippers partook of the animal or liquor offered to the god. The Dasyus or indigenous Indian races could not worship the Aryan gods nor join in the sacrifices offered to them, which constituted the act of worship. They were a hostile race, but the hostility was felt and expressed on religious rather than racial grounds, as the latter term is understood at present.

12. The Sudra.

M. Senart points out that the division of the four castes appearing in post-Vedic literature, does not proceed on equal lines. There were two groups, one composed of the three higher castes, and the other of the Sudras or lowest. The higher castes constituted a fraternity into which admission was obtained only by a religious ceremony of initiation and investment with the sacred thread. The Sudras were excluded and could take no part in sacrifices. The punishment for the commission of the gravest offences by a Brahman was that he became a Sudra, that is to say an outcast. The killing of a Sudra was an offence no more severe than that of killing certain animals. A Sudra was prohibited by the severest penalties from approaching within a certain distance of a member of any of the higher castes. In the Sutras [10] it is declared [11] that the Sudra has not the right (Adhikara) of sacrifice enjoyed by the Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaishya. He was not to be invested with the sacred thread, nor permitted, like them, to hear, commit to memory, or recite Vedic texts. For listening to these texts he ought to have his ears shut up with melted lead or lac by way of punishment; for pronouncing them, his tongue cut out; and for committing them to memory, his body cut in two. [12] The Veda was never to be read in the presence of a Sudra; and no sacrifice was to be performed for him. [13] The Sudras, it is stated in the Harivansha, are sprung from vacuity, and are destitute of ceremonies, and so are not entitled to the rites of initiation. Just as upon the friction of wood, the cloud of smoke which issues from the fire and spreads around is of no service in the sacrificial rite, so too the Sudras spread over the earth are unserviceable, owing to their birth, to their want of initiatory rites, and the ceremonies ordained by the Vedas. [14] Again it is ordained that silence is to be observed by parties of the three sacrificial classes when a Sudra enters to remove their natural defilements, and thus the servile position of the Sudra is recognised. [15] Here it appears that the Sudra is identified with the sweeper or scavenger, the most debased and impure of modern Hindu castes. [16] In the Dharmashastras or law-books it is laid down that a person taking a Sudra's food for a month becomes a Sudra and after death becomes a dog. Issue begotten after eating a Sudra's food is of the Sudra caste. A person who dies with Sudra's food in his stomach becomes a village pig, or is reborn in a Sudra's family. [17] An Arya who had sexual intimacy with a Sudra woman was to be banished; but a Sudra having intimacy with an Arya was to be killed. If a Sudra reproached a dutiful Arya, or put himself on equality with him on a road, on a couch or on a seat, he was to be beaten with a stick. [18] A Brahman might without hesitation take the property of a Sudra; he, the Sudra, had indeed nothing of his own; his master might, doubtless, take his property. [19] According to the Mahabharata the Sudras are appointed servants to the Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. [20] A Brahman woman having connection with a Sudra was to be devoured by dogs, but one having connection with a Kshatriya or Vaishya was merely to have her head shaved and be carried round on an ass. [21] When a Brahman received a gift from another Brahman he had to acknowledge it in a loud voice; from a Rajanya or Kshatriya, in a gentle voice; from a Vaishya, in a whisper; and from a Sudra, in his own mind. To a Brahman he commenced his thanks with the sacred syllable Om; to a king he gave thanks without the sacred Om; to a Vaishya he whispered his thanks; to a Sudra he said nothing, but thought in his own mind, svasti, or 'This is good.' [22] It would thus seem clear that the Sudras were distinct from the Aryas and were a separate and inferior race, consisting of the indigenous people of India. In the Atharva-Veda the Sudra is recognised as distinct from the Arya, and also the Dasa from the Arya, as in the Rig-Veda. [23] Dr. Wilson remarks, "The aboriginal inhabitants, again, who conformed to the Brahmanic law, received certain privileges, and were constituted as a fourth caste under the name of Sudras, whereas all the rest who kept aloof were called Dasyus, whatever their language might be." [24] The Sudras, though treated by Manu and Hindu legislation in general as a component, if enslaved, part of the Indian community, not entitled to the second or sacramental birth, are not even once mentioned in the older parts of the Vedas. They are first locally brought to notice in the Mahabharata, along with the Abhiras, dwelling on the banks of the Indus. There are distinct classical notices of the Sudras in this very locality and its neighbourhood. "In historical times," says Lassen, "their name reappears in that of the town Sudros on the lower Indus, and, what is especially worthy of notice, in that of the people Sudroi, among the Northern Arachosians." [25]

"Thus their existence as a distinct nation is established in the neighbourhood of the Indus, that is to say in the region in which, in the oldest time, the Aryan Indians dwelt. The Aryans probably conquered these indigenous inhabitants first; and when the others in the interior of the country were subsequently subdued and enslaved, the name Sudra was extended to the whole servile caste. There seems to have been some hesitation in the Aryan community about the actual religious position to be given to the Sudras. In the time of the liturgical Brahmanas of the Vedas, they were sometimes admitted to take part in the Aryan sacrifices. Not long afterwards, when the conquests of the Aryans were greatly extended, and they formed a settled state of society among the affluents of the Jumna and Ganges, the Sudras were degraded to the humiliating and painful position which they occupy in Manu. There is no mention of any of the Sankara or mixed castes in the Vedas." [26]

From the above evidence it seems clear that the Sudras were really the indigenous inhabitants of India, who were subdued by the Aryans as they gradually penetrated into India. When the conquering race began to settle in the land, the indigenous tribes, or such of them as did not retire before the invaders into the still unconquered interior, became a class of menials and labourers, as the Amalekites were to the children of Israel. The Sudras were the same people as the Dasyus of the hymns, after they had begun to live in villages with the Aryans, and had to be admitted, though in the most humiliating fashion, into the Aryan polity. But the hostility between the Aryas and the Dasyus or Sudras, though in reality racial, was felt and expressed on religious grounds, and probably the Aryans had no real idea of what is now understood by difference of race or deterioration of type from mixture of races. The Sudras were despised and hated as worshippers of a hostile god. They could not join in the sacrifices by which the Aryans renewed and cemented their kinship with their god and with each other; hence they were outlaws towards whom no social obligations existed. It would have been quite right and proper that they should be utterly destroyed, precisely as the Israelites thought that Jehovah had commanded them to destroy the Canaanites. But they were too numerous, and hence they were regarded as impure and made to live apart, so that they should not pollute the places of sacrifice, which among the Aryans included their dwelling-houses. It does not seem to have been the case that the Aryans had any regard for the preservation of the purity of their blood or colour. From an early period men of the three higher castes might take a Sudra woman in marriage, and the ultimate result has been an almost complete fusion between the two races in the bulk of the population over the greater part of the country. Nevertheless the status of the Sudra still remains attached to the large community of the impure castes formed from the indigenous tribes, who have settled in Hindu villages and entered the caste system. These are relegated to the most degrading and menial occupations, and their touch is regarded as conveying defilement like that of the Sudras. [27] The status of the Sudras was not always considered so low, and they were sometimes held to rank above the mixed castes. And in modern times in Bengal Sudra is quite a respectable term applied to certain artisan castes which there have a fairly good position. But neither were the indigenous tribes always reduced to the impure status. Their fortunes varied, and those who resisted subjection were probably sometimes accepted as allies. For instance, some of the most prominent of the Rajput clans are held to have been derived from the aboriginal [28] tribes. On the Aryan expedition to southern India, which is preserved in the legend of Rama, as related in the Ramayana, it is stated that Rama was assisted by Hanuman with his army of apes. The reference is generally held to be to the fact that the Aryans had as auxiliaries some of the forest tribes, and these were consequently allies, and highly thought of, as shown by the legend and by their identification with the mighty god Hanuman. And at the present time the forest tribes who live separately from the Hindus in the jungle tracts are, as a rule, not regarded as impure. But this does not impair the identification of the Sudras with those tribes who were reduced to subjection and serfdom in the Hindu villages, as shown by the evidence here given. The view has also been held that the Sudras might have been a servile class already subject to the Aryans, who entered India with them. And in the old Parsi or Persian community four classes existed, the Athornan or priest, the Rathestan or warrior, the Vasteriox or husbandman, and the Hutox or craftsman. [29] The second and third of these names closely resemble those of the corresponding Hindu classical castes, the Rajanya or Kshatriya and the Vaishya, while Athornan, the name for a priest, is the same as Atharvan, the Hindu name for a Brahman versed in the Atharva-Veda. Possibly then Hutox may be connected with Sudra, as h frequently changes into s. But on the other hand the facts that the Sudras are not mentioned in the Vedas, and that they succeeded to the position of the Dasyus, the black hostile Indians, as well as the important place they fill in the later literature, seem to indicate clearly that they mainly consisted of the indigenous subject tribes. Whether the Aryans applied a name already existing in a servile class among themselves to the indigenous population whom they subdued, may be an uncertain point.

13. The Vaishya.

In the Vedas, moreover, M. Senart shows that the three higher castes are not definitely distinguished; but there are three classes—the priests, the chiefs and the people, among whom the Aryans were comprised. The people are spoken of in the plural as the clans who followed the chiefs to battle. The word used is Visha. One verse speaks of the Vishas (clans) bowing before the chief (Rajan), who was preceded by a priest (Brahman). Another verse says: "Favour the prayer (Brahma), favour the service; kill the Rakshasas, drive away the evil; favour the power (khatra) and favour the manly strength; favour the cow (dherm, the representative of property) and favour the people (or house, visha)." [30]

Similarly Wilson states that in the time of the Vedas, visha (related to vesha, a house or district) signified the people in general; and Vaishya, its adjective, was afterwards applied to a householder, or that appertaining to an individual of the common people. The Latin vicus and the Greek o>=ikoc are the correspondents of vesha. [31] The conclusion to be drawn is that the Aryans in the Vedas, like other early communities, were divided by rank or occupation into three classes—priests, nobles and the body of the people. The Vishas or clans afterwards became the Vaishyas or third classical caste. Before they entered India the Aryans were a migratory pastoral people, their domestic animals being the horse, cow, and perhaps the sheep and goat. The horse and cow were especially venerated, and hence were probably their chief means of support. The Vaishyas must therefore have been herdsmen and shepherds, and when they entered India and took to agriculture, the Vaishyas must have become cultivators. The word Vaishya signifies a man who occupies the soil, an agriculturist, or merchant. [32] The word Vasteriox used by the ancestors of the Parsis, which appears to correspond to Vaishya, also signifies a husbandman, as already seen. Dr. Max Mueller states: "The three occupations of the Aryas in India were fighting, cultivating the soil and worshipping the gods. Those who fought the battles of the people would naturally acquire influence and rank, and their leaders appear in the Veda as Rajas or kings. Those who did not share in the fighting would occupy a more humble position; they were called Vish, Vaishyas or householders, and would no doubt have to contribute towards the maintenance of the armies. [33] According to Manu, God ordained the tending of cattle, giving alms, sacrifice, study, trade, usury, and also agriculture for a Vaishya." [34] The Sutras state that agriculture, the keeping of cattle, and engaging in merchandise, as well as learning the Vedas, sacrificing for himself and giving alms, are the duties of a Vaishya. [35] In the Mahabharata it is laid down that the Vaishyas should devote themselves to agriculture, the keeping of cattle and liberality. [36] In the same work the god Vayu says to Bhishma: "And it was Brahma's ordinance that the Vaishya should sustain the three castes (Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaishya) with money and corn; and that the Sudra should serve them." [37]

In a list of classes or occupations given in the White Yajur-Veda, and apparently referring to a comparatively advanced state of Hindu society, tillage is laid down as the calling of the Vaishya, and he is distinguished from the Vani or merchant, whose occupation is trade or weighing. [38] Manu states that a Brahman should swear by truth; a Kshatriya by his steed and his weapons; a Vaishya by his cows, his seed and his gold; and a Sudra by all wicked deeds. [39] Yellow is the colour of the Vaishya, and it must apparently be taken from the yellow corn, and the yellow colour of ghi or butter, the principal product of the sacred cow; yellow is also the colour of the sacred metal gold, but there can scarcely have been sufficient gold in the hands of the body of the people in those early times to enable it to be especially associated with them. The Vaishyas were thus, as is shown by the above evidence, the main body of the people referred to in the Vedic hymns. When these settled down into villages the Vaishyas became the householders and cultivators, among whom the village lands were divided; the Sudras or indigenous tribes, who also lived in the villages or in hamlets adjoining them, were labourers and given all the most disagreeable tasks in the village community, as is the case with the impure castes at present.

14. Mistaken modern idea of the Vaishyas.

The demonstration of the real position of the Vaishyas is important, because the Hindus themselves no longer recognise this. The name Vaishya is now frequently restricted to the Bania caste of bankers, shopkeepers and moneylenders, and hence the Banias are often supposed to be the descendants and only modern representatives of the original Vaishyas. Evidence has been given in the article on Bania to show that the existing Bania caste is mainly derived from the Rajputs. The name Bani, a merchant or trader, is found at an early period, but whether it denoted a regular Bania caste may be considered as uncertain. In any case it seems clear that this comparatively small caste, chiefly coming from Rajputana, cannot represent the Vaishyas, who were the main body or people of the invading Aryans. At that time the Vaishyas cannot possibly have been traders, because they alone provided the means of subsistence of the community, and if they produced nothing, there could be no material for trade. The Vaishyas must, therefore, as already seen, have been shepherds and cultivators, since in early times wealth consisted almost solely of corn and cattle. At a later period, with the increased religious veneration for all kinds of life, agriculture apparently fell into some kind of disrepute as involving the sacrifice of insect life, and there was a tendency to emphasise trade as the Vaishya's occupation in view of its greater respectability. It is considered very derogatory for a Brahman or Rajput to touch the plough with his own hands, and the act has hitherto involved a loss of status: these castes, however, did not object to hold land, but, on the contrary, ardently desired to do so like all other Hindus. Ploughing was probably despised as a form of manual labour, and hence an undignified action for a member of the aristocracy, just as a squire or gentleman farmer in England might consider it beneath his dignity to drive the plough himself. No doubt also, as the fusion of races proceeded, and bodies of the indigenous tribes who were cultivators adopted Hinduism, the status of a cultivator sank to some extent, and his Vaishyan ancestry was forgotten. But though the Vaishya himself has practically disappeared, his status as a cultivator and member of the village community appears to remain in that of the modern cultivating castes, as will be shown subsequently.

15. Mixed unions of the four classes.

The settlement of the Aryans in India was in villages and not in towns, and the Hindus have ever since remained a rural people. In 1911 less than a tenth of the population of India was urban, and nearly three-quarters of the total were directly supported by agriculture. Apparently, therefore, the basis or embryo of the gradation of Hindu society or the caste system should be sought in the village. Two main divisions of the village community may be recognised in the Vaishyas or cultivators and the Sudras or impure serfs and labourers. The exact position held by the Kshatriyas and the constitution of their class are not quite clear, but there is no doubt that the Brahmans and Kshatriyas formed the early aristocracy, ranking above the cultivators, and a few other castes have since attained to this position. From early times, as is shown by an ordinance of Manu, men of the higher castes or classes were permitted, after taking a woman of their own class for the first wife, to have second and subsequent wives from any of the classes beneath them. This custom appears to have been largely prevalent. No definite rule prescribed that the children of such unions should necessarily be illegitimate, and in many cases no doubt seems to exist that, if not they themselves, their descendants at any rate ultimately became full members of the caste of the first ancestor. According to Manu, if the child of a Brahman by a Sudra woman intermarried with Brahmans and his descendants after him, their progeny in the seventh generation would become full Brahmans; and the same was the case with the child of a Kshatriya or a Vaishya with a Sudra woman. A commentator remarks that the descendants of a Brahman by a Kshatriya woman could attain Brahmanhood in the third generation, and those by a Vaishya woman in the fifth. [40] Such children also could inherit. According to the Mahabharata, if a Brahman had four wives of different castes, the son by a Brahman wife took four shares, that by a Kshatriya wife three, by a Vaishya wife two, and by a Sudra wife one share. [41] Manu gives a slightly different distribution, but also permits to the son by a Sudra wife a share of the inheritance. [42] Thus the fact is clear that the son of a Brahman even by a Sudra woman had a certain status of legitimacy in his father's caste, as he could marry in it, and must therefore have been permitted to partake of the sacrificial food at marriage; [43] and he could also inherit a small share of the property.

16. Hypergamy.

The detailed rules prescribed for the status of legitimacy and inheritance show that recognised unions of this kind between men of a higher class and women of a lower one were at one time fairly frequent, though they were afterwards prohibited. And they must necessarily have led to much mixture of blood in the different castes. A trace of them seems to survive in the practice of hypergamy, still widely prevalent in northern India, by which men of the higher subcastes of a caste will take daughters in marriage from lower ones but will not give their daughters in return. This custom prevails largely among the higher castes of the Punjab, as the Rajputs and Khatris, and among the Brahmans of Bengal. [44] Only a few cases are found in the Central Provinces, among Brahmans, Sunars and other castes. Occasionally intermarriage between two castes takes place on a hypergamous basis; thus Rajputs are said to take daughters from the highest clans of the cultivating caste of Dangis. More commonly families of the lower subcastes or clans in the same caste consider the marriage of their daughters into a higher group a great honour and will give large sums of money for a bridegroom. Until quite recently a Rajput was bound to marry his daughters into a clan of equal or higher rank than his own, in order to maintain the position of his family. It is not easy to see why so much importance should be attached to the marriage of a daughter, since she passed into another clan and family, to whom her offspring would belong. On the other hand, a son might take a wife from a lower group without loss of status, though his children would be the future representatives of the family. Another point, possibly connected with hypergamy, is that a peculiar relation exists between a man and the family into which his daughter has married. Sometimes he will accept no food or even water in his son-in-law's village. The word sala, signifying wife's brother, when addressed to a man, is also a common and extremely offensive term of abuse. The meaning is now perhaps supposed to be that one has violated the sister of the person spoken to, but this can hardly have been the original significance as sasur or father-in-law is also considered in a minor degree an opprobrious term of address.

17. The mixed castes. The village menials.

But though among the four classical castes it was possible for the descendants of mixed unions between fathers of higher and mothers of lower caste to be admitted into their father's caste, this would not have been the general rule. Such connections were very frequent and the Hindu classics account through them for the multiplication of castes. Long lists are given of new castes formed by the children of mixed marriages. The details of these genealogies seem to be destitute of any probability, and perhaps, therefore, instances of them are unnecessary. Matches between a man of higher and a woman of lower caste were called anuloma, or 'with the hair' or 'grain,' and were regarded as suitable and becoming. Those between a man of lower and a woman of higher caste were, on the other hand, known as pratiloma or 'against the hair,' and were considered as disgraceful and almost incestuous. The offspring of such unions are held to have constituted the lowest and most impure castes of scavengers, dog-eaters and so on. This doctrine is to be accounted for by the necessity of safeguarding the morality of women in a state of society where kinship is reckoned solely by male descent. The blood of the tribe and clan, and hence the right to membership and participation in the communal sacrifices, is then communicated to the child through the father; hence if the women are unchaste, children may be born into the family who have no such rights, and the whole basis of society is destroyed. For the same reason, since the tribal blood and life is communicated through males, the birth and standing of the mother are of little importance, and children are, as has been seen, easily admitted to their father's rank. But already in Manu's time the later and present view that both the father and mother must be of full status in the clan, tribe or caste in order to produce a legitimate child, has begun to prevail, and the children of all mixed marriages are relegated to a lower group. The offspring of these mixed unions did probably give rise to a class of different status in the village community. The lower-caste mother would usually have been taken into the father's house and her children would be brought up in it. Thus they would eat the food of the household, even if they did not participate in the sacrificial feasts; and a class of this kind would be very useful for the performance of menial duties in and about the household, such as personal service, bringing water, and so on, for which the Sudras, owing to their impurity, would be unsuitable. In the above manner a new grade of village menial might have arisen and have gradually been extended to the other village industries, so that a third group would be formed in the village community ranking between the cultivators and labourers. This gradation of the village community may perhaps still be discerned in the main social distinctions of the different Hindu castes at present. And an attempt will now be made to demonstrate this hypothesis in connection with a brief survey of the castes of the Province.

18. Social gradation of castes.

An examination of the social status of the castes of the Central Provinces, which, as already seen, are representative of a great part of India, shows that they fall into five principal groups. The highest consists of those castes who now claim to be directly descended from the Brahmans, Kshatriyas or Vaishyas, the three higher of the four classical castes. The second comprises what are generally known as pure or good castes. The principal mark of their caste status is that a Brahman will take water to drink from them, and perform ceremonies in their houses. They may be classified in three divisions: the higher agricultural castes, higher artisan castes, and serving castes from whom a Brahman will take water. The third group contains those castes from whose hands a Brahman will not take water; but their touch does not convey impurity and they are permitted to enter Hindu temples. They consist mainly of certain cultivating castes of low status, some of them recently derived from the indigenous tribes, other functional castes formed from the forest tribes, and a number of professional and menial castes, whose occupations are mainly pursued in villages, so that they formerly obtained their subsistence from grain-payments or annual allowances of grain from the cultivators at seedtime and harvest. The group includes also some castes of village priests and mendicant religious orders, who beg from the cultivators. In the fourth group are placed the non-Aryan or indigenous tribes. Most of these cannot properly be said to form part of the Hindu social system at all, but for practical purposes they are admitted and are considered to rank below all castes except those who cannot be touched. The lowest group consists of the impure castes whose touch is considered to defile the higher castes. Within each group there are minor differences of status some of which will be noticed, but the broad divisions may be considered as representing approximately the facts. The rule about Brahmans taking water from the good agricultural and artisan castes obtains, for instance, only in northern India. Maratha Brahmans will not take water from any but other Brahmans, and in Chhattisgarh Brahmans and other high castes will take water only from the hands of a Rawat (grazier), and from no other caste. But nevertheless the Kunbis, the great cultivating caste of the Maratha country, though Brahmans do not take water from them, are on the same level as the Kurmis, the cultivating caste of Hindustan, and in tracts where they meet Kunbis and Kurmis are often considered to be the same caste. The evidence of the statements made as to the origin of different castes in the following account will be found in the articles on them in the body of the work.

19. Castes ranking above the cultivators.

The castes of the first group are noted below:

Bania. Bhat. Brahman. Gurao. Karan. Kayasth and Prabhu. Khatri. Rajput.

The Brahmans are, as they have always been, the highest caste. The Rajputs are the representatives of the ancient Kshatriyas or second caste, though the existing Rajput clans are probably derived from the Hun, Gujar and other invaders of the period before and shortly after the commencement of the Christian era, and in some cases from the indigenous or non-Aryan tribes. It does not seem possible to assert in the case of a single one of the present Rajput clans that any substantial evidence is forthcoming in favour of their descent from the Aryan Kshatriyas, and as regards most of the clans there are strong arguments against such a hypothesis. Nevertheless the Rajputs have succeeded to the status of the Kshatriyas, and an alternative name for them, Chhatri, is a corruption of the latter word. They are commonly identified with the second of the four classical castes, but a Hindu law-book gives Rajaputra as the offspring of a Kshatriya father and a mother of the Karan or writer caste. [45] This genealogy is absurd, but may imply the opinion that the Rajputs were not the same as the Aryan Kshatriyas. The Khatris are an important mercantile caste of the Punjab, who in the opinion of most authorities are derived from the Rajputs. The name is probably a corruption of Kshatri or Kshatriya. The Banias are the great mercantile, banking and shopkeeping caste among the Hindus and a large proportion of the trade in grain and ghi (preserved butter) is in their hands, while they are also the chief moneylenders. Most of the important Bania subcastes belonged originally to Rajputana and Central India, which are also the homes of the Rajputs, and reasons have been given in the article on Bania for holding that they are derived from the Rajputs. They, however, are now commonly called Vaishyas by the Hindus, as, I think, under the mistaken impression that they are descended from the original Vaishyas. The Bhats are the bards, heralds and genealogists of India and include groups of very varying status. The Bhats who act as genealogists of the cultivating and other castes and accept cooked food from their clients may perhaps be held to rank with or even below them. But the high-class Bhats are undoubtedly derived from Brahmans and Rajputs, and rank just below those castes. The bard or herald had a sacred character, and his person was inviolable like that of the herald elsewhere, and this has given a special status to the whole caste. [46] The Kayasths are the writer caste of Hindustan, and the Karans and Prabhus are the corresponding castes of Orissa and Bombay. The position of the Kayasths has greatly risen during the last century on account of their own ability and industry and the advantages they have obtained through their high level of education. The original Kayasths may have been village accountants and hence have occupied a lower position, perhaps below the cultivators. They are an instance of a caste whose social position has greatly improved on account of the wealth and importance of its members. At present the Kayasths may be said to rank next to Brahmans and Rajputs. The origin of the Prabhus and Karans is uncertain, but their recent social history appears to resemble that of the Kayasths. The Guraos are another caste whose position has greatly improved. They were priests of the village temples of Siva, and accepted the offerings of food which Brahmans could not take. But they also supplied leaf-plates for festivals, and were village musicians and trumpeters in the Maratha armies, and hence probably ranked below the cultivators and were supported by contributions of grain from them. Their social position has been raised by their sacred character as priests of the god Siva and they are now sometimes called Shaiva Brahmans. But a distinct recollection of their former status exists.

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