Wydawca: R. V. Russell Kategoria: Humanistyka Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2015

The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Book I ebook

R. V. Russell  

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Opis ebooka The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Book I - R. V. Russell

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.

Opinie o ebooku The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Book I - R. V. Russell

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R. V. Russell

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Table of contents

Preface

Part I. Introductory Essay on Caste

Part I Glossary of Minor Castes and Other Articles, Synonyms, Subcastes, Titles and Names of Exogamous Septs or Clans Note.

Political Divisions of the Indian EmpireScale = 1 : 17,500,000Central Provinces and BerarScale = 1 : 4,000,000 or 63.1 Miles to an InchMain Linguistic or Ethnical Divisions of the Central Provinces with the Sambalpur District and Certain States now in Bihar and OrissaScale = 1 : 4,000,000 or 63.1 Miles to an InchHINDI-speaking Districts.—The western tract includes the Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore, Narsinghpur, Hoshangabad, Nimar and Betul Districts which lie principally in the Nerbudda Valley or on the Vindhyan Hills north-west of the Valley. In most of this area the language is the Bundeli dialect of Western Hindi, and in Nimar and Betul a form of the Rajputana dialects. The eastern tract includes the Raipur, Bilaspur and Drug Districts and adjacent Feudatory States. This country is known as Chhattisgarh, and the language is the Chhattisgarhi dialect of Eastern Hindi.MARATHI.—Amraoti, Akola, Buldana and Yeotmal Districts of Berar, and Nagpur, Bhandara, Wardha and Chanda Districts of the Nagpur Plain.TELUGU.—Sironcha tahsil of Chanda District. Telugu is also spoken to some extent in the adjacent tracts of Chanda and Bastar States.TRIBAL or Non-Aryan dialects.—Mandla, Seoni, Chhindwara, and part of Balaghat Districts on the Satpura Range in the centre. Sarguja, Jashpur, Udaipur, Korea, and Chang Bhakar States on the Chota Nagpur plateau to the north-east. Bastar and Kanker States and parts of Chanda and Drug Districts on the hill-ranges south of the Mahanadi Valley to the south-east. In these areas the non-Aryan or Kolarian and Dravidian tribes form the strongest element in the population but many of them have abandoned their own languages and speak Aryan vernaculars.URIYA.—Sambalpur District and Sarangarh, Bamra, Rairakhol, Sonpur, Patna and Kalahandi Feudatory States. This area, with the exception of Sarangarh, no longer forms part of the Central Provinces, having been transferred to Bengal in 1905, and subsequently to the new Province of Bihar and Orissa. It was, however, included in the ethnographic survey for some years, and is often referred to in the text.

Preface

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 Rājasthān, Mr. J.D. Forbes’ Rasmāla or Annals of Gujarāt, 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 Rāmāseeāna or Vocabulary of the Thugs, Mr. Kennedy’s Criminal Classes of the Bombay Presidency, Major Gunthorpe’s Criminal Tribes of Bombay, Berār 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 Gujarāt by Mr. Bhimbhai Kirpārām, and Pārsis and Muhammadans of Gujarāt by Khān Bahādur Fazlullah Lutfullah Faridi, and Mr. Kharsedji Nasarvānji Seervai, J.P., and Khān Bahādur Bāmanji Behrāmji 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 Kabīr and the Kabīrpanth (Baptist Mission Press, Cawnpore), Mr. Rajendra Lāl Mitra’s Indo-Aryans (Newman & Co., Calcutta), The Jainas by Dr. J.G. Bühler and Mr. J. Burgess, Dr. J.N. Bhattachārya’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 Brāhmans, 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 Islām (W.H. Allen & Co., and Heffer & Sons, Cambridge), Mr. L.D. Barnett’s Antiquities of India, M. André 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 Hoshangābād Settlement Report, Sir Reginald Craddock’s Nāgpur Settlement Report, Colonel Ward’s Mandla Settlement Report, Colonel Lucie Smith’s Chānda Settlement Report, Mr. G.W. Gayer’s Lectures on Criminal Tribes, Mr. C.W. Montgomerie’s Chhindwāra Settlement Report, Mr. C.E. Low’s Bālāghāt District Gazetteer, Mr. E.J. Kitts’ Berār 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 Cité 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 Bahādur Hīra Lāl 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. Pyāre Lāl Misra, barrister, Chhindwāra, was my ethnographic clerk for some years, and he and Munshi Kanhya Lāl, late of the Educational Department, and Mr. Adurām Chandhri, Tahsīldār, gave much assistance in the inquiries on different castes. Among others who have helped in the work, Rai Bahādur Panda Baijnāth, Diwān of the Patna and Bastar States, should be mentioned first, and Bābu Kali Prasanna Mukerji, pleader, Saugor, Mr. Gopāl Datta Joshi, District Judge, Saugor, Mr. Jeorākhan Lāl, Deputy-Inspector of Schools, and Mr. Gokul Prasād, Tahsīldār, 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 Diwān of Raigarh State. Bishop Westcott kindly gave the photograph of Kabīr, 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.

Part I. Introductory Essay on Caste

1. The Central Provinces.The territory controlled by the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces and Berār 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°47′ and 24°27′ north, and longitudes 76° and 84° 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, Hyderābād State and the Madras Presidency to the south, and the Province of Bihār 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 Marātha State of Nāgpur, which had lapsed from failure of heirs in 1853. Berār, which for a considerable previous period had been held on a lease or assignment from the Nizām of Hyderābād, 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 Bihār and Orissa, while five Feudatory States of Chota Nāgpur 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 Mālwa 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 Satpūra 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 Satpūra range or third division stretches across the Province, from Amarkantak in the east (the sacred source of the Nerbudda) to Asīrgarh in the Nimār 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 Satpūras 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 Satpūras to the wild and rugged highlands of the Chota Nāgpur plateau, on which are situated the five States recently annexed to the Province. Extending along the southern and eastern faces of the Satpūra range lies the fourth geographical division, to the west the plain of Berār and Nāgpur, watered by the Purna, Wardha and Wainganga rivers, and further east the Chhattīsgarh plain, which forms the upper basin of the Mahānadi. The Berār and Nāgpur plain contains towards the west the shallow black soil in which autumn crops, like cotton and the large millet juāri, 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 Mahānadi 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 zarmīndāri estates of Chānda and the Chhattīsgarh 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 Gondwāna, 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 Betūl were colonised from Mālwa and Central India. Berār and the Nāgpur plain fell to the Marāthas, and one of the most important Marātha States, the Bhonsla kingdom, had its capital at Nāgpur. Cultivators from western India came and settled on the land, and the existing population are of the same castes as the Marātha country or Bombay. But prior to the Marātha conquest Berār 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 Chānda District runs down to the Godāvari river, and the southern tracts of Chānda and Bastar State are largely occupied by Telugu immigrants from Madras. To the east of the Nāgpur plain the large landlocked area of Chhattīsgarh in the upper basin of the Mahānadi 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 Rājpūt 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 Chhattīsgarh thus constitutes to some extent a distinct social organism, which retained until quite recently many remnants of primitive custom. The middle basin of the Mahānadi to the east of Chhattīsgarh, 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 jāt or jāti, which has the original meaning of birth or production of a child, and hence denotes good birth or lineage, respectability and rank. Jātha means well-born. Thus jāt 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 Brāhmans 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 Rājpūts and Marāthas 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 Ahīrs or graziers only 20 per cent tend and breed cattle. Only 12 per cent of the Chamārs 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 panchāyat 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 pān or betel-vine growers and sellers is known indifferently as Barai, Pansāri or Tamboli. The great caste of Ahīrs or herdsmen has several synonyms—as Gaoli in the Northern Districts, Rawat or Gahra in Chhattīsgarh, Gaur among the Uriyas, and Golkar among Telugus. Lohārs are also called Khāti and Kammāri; Masons are called Larhia, Rāj and Beldār. The more distinctly occupational castes usually have different names in different parts of the country, as Dhobi, Wārthi, 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 Kotwār 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 Kotwārs or village watchmen have begun to marry among themselves and try to form a separate caste. Chamārs (tanners) or Mahars (weavers) employed as grooms will call themselves Sais and consider themselves superior to the rest of their caste. The Thethwār Rāwats or Ahīrs 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 Thethwār is one who has not degenerated from the ancestral calling. Sālewārs 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 Rāthor 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 Rāthor, the name of one of the leading Rājpūt 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 Rājpūts. 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 Rāthor 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 Banjāra caste of carriers, who have taken to cultivation, have become included in the Kunbi caste in Berār and are known as Wanjāri Kunbi. Another subcaste of the Kunbis called Mānwa is derived from the Māna tribe. Telis or oilmen, who have taken to vending liquor, now form a subcaste of the Kalār caste called Teli-Kalār; 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 Ahīr-Sunars or herdsmen-goldsmiths, the Kāyasth-Darzis or tailors, the Kori-Chamārs or weaver-tanners, the Gondi Lohārs and Barhais, being Gonds who have become carpenters and blacksmiths and been admitted to these castes; the Mahār Mhālis 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 Vidūrs, who are considered to be descended from Brāhman 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 Bairāgis, 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 Chhattīsgarh social ties are of the laxest description, and the intermarriage of Gonds, Chamārs 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: Brāhmans or priests, Kshatriyas or warriors, Vaishyas or merchants and cultivators, and Sūdras or menials and labourers, all of whom had a divine origin, being born from the body of Brahma—the Brāhmans 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 Chandāls, or descendants of a Sūdra father and Brāhman 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 Kāyasth 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.Hindu temple of the god Siva.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, Pāsi, 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 Kahārs, Kewats, Dhīmars and others. Above these come the pastoral castes—Ghosi, Gadaria, Gūjar and Ahīr; 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 Rājpūt or Chhatri, the warrior, whose duty is to protect all the lower castes, and the Brāhman, 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 Chamārs and Mochis or tanners, Koris or weavers, the Telis or oil-pressers, Kalārs or liquor-distillers, Kumhārs 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 Lohār or worker in iron, the Kasera and Thathera, brass-workers, and the Sunār or worker in the precious metals, ranking precisely in this order of precedence, the Sunār being the highest. The theory is still further developed among the trading castes, who are arranged in a similar manner, beginning from the Banjāra or forest trader, the Kunjra or greengrocer, and the Bharbhūnja 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 Brāhmans, and the same word is used of the distinction between Aryas and Sūdras. 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.”4Rakshasa 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 Brāhmana 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 Hindustān, the Deccan being not then recognised as an abode of the Aryans. And he thus speaks of the country: “From a Brāhman 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 (Brāhmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas) invariably dwell in the above-mentioned countries; but a Sūdra distressed for subsistence may sojourn wherever he chooses.”6Another passage states: “If some pious king belonging to the Kshatriya or some other caste should defeat the Mlechchhas7 and establish a settlement of the four castes in their territories, and accept the Mlechchhas thus defeated as Chandālas (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 Brāhmanas 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 Brāhmans 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 Sūdra.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 Sūdras 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 Sūdras were excluded and could take no part in sacrifices. The punishment for the commission of the gravest offences by a Brāhman was that he became a Sūdra, that is to say an outcast. The killing of a Sūdra was an offence no more severe than that of killing certain animals. A Sūdra was prohibited by the severest penalties from approaching within a certain distance of a member of any of the higher castes. In the Sutras10 it is declared11 that the Sūdra has not the right (Adhikāra) of sacrifice enjoyed by the Brāhman, 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 Sūdra; and no sacrifice was to be performed for him.13 The Sūdras, 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 Sūdras 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 Sūdra enters to remove their natural defilements, and thus the servile position of the Sūdra is recognised.15 Here it appears that the Sūdra is identified with the sweeper or scavenger, the most debased and impure of modern Hindu castes.16 In the Dharmashāstras or law-books it is laid down that a person taking a Sūdra’s food for a month becomes a Sudra and after death becomes a dog. Issue begotten after eating a Sūdra’s food is of the Sūdra caste. A person who dies with Sūdra’s food in his stomach becomes a village pig, or is reborn in a Sūdra’s family.17 An Arya who had sexual intimacy with a Sūdra woman was to be banished; but a Sūdra having intimacy with an Arya was to be killed. If a Sūdra 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 Brāhman might without hesitation take the property of a Sūdra; he, the Sūdra, had indeed nothing of his own; his master might, doubtless, take his property.19 According to the Mahābhārata the Sūdras are appointed servants to the Brāhmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.20 A Brāhman woman having connection with a Sūdra 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 Brāhman received a gift from another Brāhman he had to acknowledge it in a loud voice; from a Rājanya or Kshatriya, in a gentle voice; from a Vaishya, in a whisper; and from a Sūdra, in his own mind. To a Brāhman 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 Sūdra he said nothing, but thought in his own mind, svasti, or ‘This is good.’22 It would thus seem clear that the Sūdras 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 Brāhmanic law, received certain privileges, and were constituted as a fourth caste under the name of Sūdras, whereas all the rest who kept aloof were called Dasyus, whatever their language might be.”24 The Sūdras, 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 Mahābhārata, along with the Abhīras, dwelling on the banks of the Indus. There are distinct classical notices of the Sūdras 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 Sūdra 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 Sūdras. In the time of the liturgical Brāhmanas 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 Sūdras 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.”26From the above evidence it seems clear that the Sūdras 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 Sūdras 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 Sūdras, 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 Sūdras 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 Sūdra 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 Sūdra 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 Sūdras.27 The status of the Sūdras was not always considered so low, and they were sometimes held to rank above the mixed castes. And in modern times in Bengal Sūdra 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 Rājpūt clans are held to have been derived from the aboriginal28 tribes. On the Aryan expedition to southern India, which is preserved in the legend of Rāma, as related in the Rāmāyana, it is stated that Rāma was assisted by Hanumān 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 Hanumān. 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 Sūdras 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 Sūdras might have been a servile class already subject to the Aryans, who entered India with them. And in the old Pārsi 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 Rājanya or Kshatriya and the Vaishya, while Athornan, the name for a priest, is the same as Atharvan, the Hindu name for a Brāhman versed in the Atharva-Veda. Possibly then Hutox may be connected with Sūdra, as h frequently changes into s. But on the other hand the facts that the Sūdras 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 (Rājan), who was preceded by a priest (Brāhman). 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).”30Hindu sculpturesSimilarly 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 οἶκος 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 Pārsis, which appears to correspond to Vaishya, also signifies a husbandman, as already seen. Dr. Max Müller 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 Rājas 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 Sūtras 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 Mahābhārata 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 (Brāhman, Kshatriya and Vaishya) with money and corn; and that the Sūdra should serve them.”37In 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 Vāni or merchant, whose occupation is trade or weighing.38 Manu states that a Brāhman should swear by truth; a Kshatriya by his steed and his weapons; a Vaishya by his cows, his seed and his gold; and a Sūdra 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 ghī 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 Sūdras 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 Rājpūts. The name Bāni, 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 Rājputāna, 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 Brāhman or Rājpūt 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 Sūdras 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 Brāhmans 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 Brāhman by a Sūdra woman intermarried with Brāhmans and his descendants after him, their progeny in the seventh generation would become full Brāhmans; and the same was the case with the child of a Kshatriya or a Vaishya with a Sūdra woman. A commentator remarks that the descendants of a Brāhman by a Kshatriya woman could attain Brāhmanhood in the third generation, and those by a Vaishya woman in the fifth.40 Such children also could inherit. According to the Mahābhārata, if a Brāhman had four wives of different castes, the son by a Brāhman wife took four shares, that by a Kshatriya wife three, by a Vaishya wife two, and by a Sūdra wife one share.41 Manu gives a slightly different distribution, but also permits to the son by a Sūdra wife a share of the inheritance.42 Thus the fact is clear that the son of a Brāhman even by a Sūdra 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 Rājpūts and Khatris, and among the Brāhmans of Bengal.44