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History Of Caste
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If they had handed out sacred thread to 25% of the tamil population
( tamil elites ), there would have been no dravidianist movement<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->That is a very simplistic way of looking at the world.
IMO, much of the dravidianist movement came up because of the apparent concentration of brahmins in the government services.
Before the British era, Brahmins were just as dirt-poor as everyone else, and living on charity given by others. Once the footprint of the state grew much larger than it was in pre-British times, Brahmins living in urban areas took to education and the secular services, and were seen by others as cornering the benefits of proximity to power. I suspect all this has a history of no more than 150-200 years.
<!--QuoteBegin-vishwas+Aug 12 2008, 10:28 PM-->QUOTE(vishwas @ Aug 12 2008, 10:28 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If they had handed out sacred thread to 25% of the tamil population
( tamil elites ), there would have been no dravidianist movement<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->That is a very simplistic way of looking at the world.
IMO, much of the dravidianist movement came up because of the apparent concentration of brahmins in the government services.
Before the British era, Brahmins were just as dirt-poor as everyone else, and living on charity given by others. Once the footprint of the state grew much larger than it was in pre-British times, Brahmins living in urban areas took to education and the secular services, and were seen by others as cornering the benefits of proximity to power. I suspect all this has a history of no more than 150-200 years.

In maharashtra, the father of Bal Thakeray started an anti-brahmin movement due to brahmin dominance in jobs
However in maharashtra, anti-brahminism did not extend to anti-hinduism as in tamil nadu, because 25% of the maharashtra population has the thread
AchArya rAmAnuja preserves a very interesting passage from an earlier shaiva-text, at one place in shrI-bhAShyam, upon the subject of caste-flexibility as thought to exist in old days.

He quotes in seventh adhikaraNa, of second pAda of the second chapter, at thirty sixth sUtra:

"dIkShA-pravesha- mAtreNa brAmhaNo bhavati kShaNAt
kApAlam-vratamAsthA ya yatirbhavati mAnavaH || "

["One becomes a brAhmaNa instantly by entering (the deed of) initiation (by Guru), and an ascetic too, by establishing the kApAla vows"]

The prose commentary before and after this quotated shloka leaves no doubt that he was referring to the flexibility in varNa-AShrama system as expounded upon by the shaiva schools of old.

In prose commentary he says, "ityAdi cha prasiddhaM shaivAgameShu| tathA kenachit kriyAvisheSheNa vijAtIyAnApi brAhmaNya prAptimuttamAShram prAptiM". ["so this is all well known in the agamas of shaiva philosophy, that through certain acts, one of other jAti may attain brAhmaNa-hood, as well as gain the best AShrama (i.e. sannyAsa)."]

(and then he goes on to refute the above. Nobody can "become" a brAhmaNa like this in his worldview.)

Now...question. Which is that shaiva agama of kApAla school where rAmAnuja was quoting from?
korean commenter
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->NevermindTheCoals (1 year ago) Show Hide

I live in Seoul and the great thing about the religious people here is that usually they never touch you. When I stayed in NYC for a time, they would always touch me and stuff. Creepy bastards.

shintaroDaKiIIa (11 months ago) Show Hide

<b>Touching is a way of manipulating.</b> It has been well studied. By making physical contact, it is harder for people to think clearly, and they are more likely to trust the person who is speaking. Touching can be used in a good way or a bad way. This is a bad way.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
A comprehensive analysis of colonial manipualtion of jati diversity into "caste system":

Colonial Project of Secular India (pdf, 51 pp.)
Jakob De Roover, Raf Gelders, Esther Bloch
Caste system

Justice Markandey Katju’s vision that the caste system is on its last legs and will vanish in 10-20 years can become a reality only if all of us start following the caste of humanity and practising the religion of love. Otherwise, it will remain a dream.

J.P. Reddy,


* * *

The caste system is deeply entrenched in society. It survived in India even during the 200 years of colonial rule. Advancement in science and technology and social progress might have produced a change in which a few are economically empowered regardless of their social background. But social progress has not been inclusive. It has left behind a vast majority. Rural India is still polarised on caste lines. Caste can be eliminated only if it is perceived as a problem of the entire society.

N. Sekar,


* * *

The caste system did not lead to the division of labour alone. It also led to the division of labourers. It divided society vertically where workers were graded. It was the ‘upper’ castes who created the division and legitimised it by codifying it in Hindu scriptures. The caste system never had any purpose other than to maintain the domination of the ‘upper’ castes over the backward sections. That is the reason why the caste system did not emerge in any other country while division of labour was a universal social phenomenon.

As historian D.D. Kosambi says in An introduction to the study of Indian History, there was no ownership and trade of slaves in ancient India because the institution of caste did the work of enslaving without owning and with far greater efficiency. The place of the slave whose surplus product could be expropriated was taken by the shudra. To foresee that caste will end due to inter-caste marriages and technological advancement in a couple of decades is like digging a dam with a tablespoon.

Deepankar Wavare,


* * *

Apart from people’s struggles, technological advancement and inter-caste marriages, there is one more factor that can effectively end the caste system — equality. Although the principles of equal opportunity and equal protection of law are enshrined in the Constitution, they are not practised. From birth to death, an individual relies on his family ties and caste circle for his protection and progress. The presence of caste lobbies in all the sectors can be attributed to this lack of equal opportunity.

Jambunathan Ravikumar,


* * *

Besides being a pointer to one’s occupation, caste represents one’s culture. Even today, people follow the rituals associated with their caste, irrespective of their economic status. People form caste-based associations not only to get political opportunities but also to preserve their history and identity. Technological advancement and inter-caste marriages will only create problems that are more dangerous than the existing system of discrimination.

Gangipelli Thirupathi,


<b>Looking back on the caste system</b>

Markandey Katju

India’s caste system had its roots in race and later developed into an occupational division of labour in tune with the needs of a feudal society. But what lies ahead for it?

The caste system is one of the greatest social evils plaguing India today. It is acting as a powerful social and political divisive force at a time when it is essential for us to stay united in order to face the challenges before our nation. It is a curse that must be speedily eradicated if we wish to progress.

We may consider a few facts to realise how strongly caste is still entrenched in our society:

— Our politics is largely governed by caste vote banks. When the time comes to select candidates for elections, a study is made of the numerical caste distribution in a constituency, because voters in most areas vote on caste lines;

— What to say of illiterate people, even the so-called intellectuals tend to operate on caste lines. Thus, in the elections to many bar associations, lawyers tend to vote for candidates of their caste;

— Many castes want to be declared Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Scheduled Castes in order to get the benefits of reservation. Even some OBCs strive to be declared the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) or Scheduled Castes;

— Fake caste certificates have become rampant, as is often witnessed in our law courts, to secure jobs, or admission to educational institutions;

— Marriages are still largely performed within one’s caste;

— Violence often occurs between castes, as was noticed in a recent fight between students of different castes in a law college in Chennai, while policemen looked on as silent spectators;

— Even Muslims, Christians and Sikhs often have caste divisions, although their religions preach equality.

We can multiply these facts manifold. Many books and articles have been written on the caste system in India but a scientific study is still to be done. An attempt is made here to explain the origin, development and future of the caste system.

The origin of the caste system was in all probability racial. It is said that caste originated when a white race, the Aryans, coming from the northwestern direction, conquered the dark coloured races inhabiting India at that time, probably 5000 or so years ago.

Some people deny that the Aryans came from outside India and assert that India was their original home (Aryavarta) from where a section of them migrated to Europe. It is difficult to accept this view because people migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas (see the article ‘Kalidas Ghalib Academy for Mutual Understanding’ in www.kgfindia.com). Why should anyone have migrated from a comfortable country like India which had level and fertile land ideal for agriculture to a place like Afghanistan or Russia which was cold and mountainous and therefore uncomfortable? Indian history bears out the view that almost all invasions and immigrations were from outside India, mainly from the northwestern direction and to a lesser extent from the northeastern direction, into India.

The caste system is called the varna vyavastha and the word varna in Sanskrit means colour (of the skin). This also points to the racial origin of the caste system. Fair skin colour is usually preferred over darker skin even today, as is evident from many matrimonial advertisements.
Subsequent development

While the caste system thus appears to have racial origins, it subsequently developed an altogether different basis in tune with the needs of the feudal society. In other words, the caste system, though it originated in race, subsequently developed into the feudal, occupational division of labour in society. This needs to be explained in some detail.

In theory there were only four castes: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. This, however, was only a piece of fiction. In reality there were (and still are) hundreds, if not thousands, of castes and sub-castes in India, many of which do not fit into the four traditional castes. For example, there are Yadavs, Kurmis, Jats, Kayasthas, Bhumihars and Gosains. Every vocation became a caste. Thus, in northern India badhai (carpenter) became a caste, as did lohar (blacksmith), sonar (goldsmith), kumbhar (potter), dhobi (washerman), nai (barber), darzi (tailor), kasai (butcher), mallah (fisherman), kewat (boatman), teli (oil presser), kahar (water carrier), and gadadia (sheep herder).

This was not unique to India. For instance, in England even today there are many people with the surnames Taylor, Smith, Goldsmith, Baker, Butcher, Potter, Barber, Mason, Carpenter, Turner, Waterman, Shepherd, and Gardener which indicate that their ancestors followed those professions.

In a feudal society, apart from agriculture the handicraft industry also developed. This happened in India, too, and the caste system became the Indian variation of the feudal occupational division of labour in society, somewhat like the medieval European guild system.

As Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, division of labour results in great progress. The caste system in India resulted in great development of the productive forces. Hence in the feudal age it was a progressive institution, as compared to the slave society that preceded it.

It is well known that before the coming of the British, India was one of the world’s most prosperous countries of that time. India was exporting Dacca muslin, Murshidabad silk, Kashmir shawls and carpets, ornaments, and so on, apart from agricultural products such as spices and indigo to the Middle East and even Europe. The discovery of Roman coins in several parts of South India point to a great volume of trade with India, which shows the considerable development of productive forces in feudal India. In fact, India was once a superpower with a 31.5 per cent share in global production, which came down to 3 per cent by 1991.
Destruction of handicraft industry

It is estimated that before the coming of the British to India, about 40 per cent of the population of India was engaged in industry and the rest in agriculture. This industry was no doubt the handicraft industry, not the mill industry. Nevertheless, there was a very high level of production of goods in India by these handicraft industries, and many of these goods were exported to Europe, the Middle East, China and so on.

A rough and ready test of the level of economic development of a country relates to the percentage of the population that is engaged in industry and agriculture respectively. The greater the percentage in industry and the lesser in agriculture the more prosperous a country will be. Thus, the United States, the most prosperous country in the world today, has only about 2 to 3 per cent of its population in agriculture, while the rest is in industry or services.

India was a relatively prosperous country before the coming of the British because a high percentage of the people (which could be up to 40 per cent) was engaged at that time in industry. Thus, Lord Clive around 1757 (the year of the Battle of Plassey) described Murshidabad, then the capital of Bengal, as a city more prosperous than London (Glimpses of World History, Jawaharlal Nehru, Third Impression, Page 416, chapter titled ‘The Indian artisan goes to the wall’).

When the British conquered India, they introduced the products of their mill industry into India and raised export duties on Indian handicraft products exorbitantly. Thus they practically destroyed the handicraft industry in India. The result was that by the end of British rule hardly 10 per cent or even less of the population of India was in the handicraft industry. The rest of those who were earlier engaged in the industry were rendered unemployed. This way those who were employed in the handicraft industry, accounting for about 30 per cent of the population of India, became unemployed. They were driven to starvation, destitution, beggary or crime: the thugs and ‘criminal’ tribes were really these unemployed sections of society. As an English Governor General wrote in 1834, “the bones of the cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India.”

(Justice Markandey Katju is a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. This is the first part of a two-part article.)

Why the caste system is on its last legs</b>

Markandey Katju

This institution did good to India in feudal times but today it is a curse that should be eradicated. Indeed it will stand effaced in a decade or two, for its basis has been destroyed.

At the end of British rule, India, which was once one of the world’s most prosperous countries, became one of the poorest. It was unable to feed itself. Its industrial development was stalled as the British policy was to not permit industrialisation (see Rajni Palme Dutt’s India Today). Life expectancy was low and the literacy rate was very low. As Angus Madison, the Cambridge University historian, points out, India’s share of world income fell from 22.6 per cent in 1700 to 3.8 per cent in 1952.

In the revenue records in many Indian States one often finds entries of this sort: ‘A, son of B, caste lohar (smith), vocation agriculture,’ or ‘C, son of D, caste badhai (carpenter), vocation agriculture,’ or ‘E, son of F, caste kumhar (potter), vocation agriculture,’ and so on. This indicates that their ancestors were in those professions, but later they became unemployed (although ostensibly they were shown as agriculturists). British mill industry had destroyed their handicraft.

In England and other European countries, too, handicrafts were destroyed by mill products, but the handicraftsmen got employment in the mills.
Handicraft industry & mill industry

Some people think that if the British had not come to India an indigenous mill industry would have developed in India, because the development of the handicraft industry leads to capital accumulation which is the prerequisite for industrialisation, and India would have become an industrial state by the 19th century, as in the case of countries of North America and Europe. But it is not necessary to dwell on this: there is no use crying over spilt milk.

In the feudal period there were no engineering colleges or technical institutes, and the only way to learn a craft was to sit with one’s father from childhood and learn the craft by seeing how he worked, with some tips from him. Thus the father was not only doing the production work through his craft but also teaching his son the craft.

This was totally unlike modern times where the teacher in an engineering college or technical institute is not a producer engaged in some industry. In other words, in modern times the vocation of a teacher is separated from the vocation of a producer. There was no such separation in the feudal age.

In feudal times, one had no choice with respect to one’s profession: you had to follow your father’s profession. Thus, the son of a carpenter (badhai) became a carpenter, the son of a blacksmith (lohar) became a blacksmith, and so on. This way, carpenter, blacksmith, potter, all became castes. The same thing happened in Europe in feudal times.
Modern mill industry

In the modern industrial age the demand for skilled technical personnel is much more than in the feudal age, because the demand for goods is much more owing to increase in population and other factors. Hence the traditional feudal method of teaching a craft, in which only a handful of persons (usually the sons of handicraftsman) were taught, would no longer suffice for modern society. Now technical institutes or engineering colleges, where a large number of students are taught technical skills, have become necessary. Obviously all these students could not be sons of the teacher. This destroyed the very basis of the caste system in which one had no option in choosing one’s vocation and had to follow one’s father’s profession. The caste system, in which one’s vocation is chosen by one’s birth, is thus totally outmoded in the modern age.

Today a boy of the badhai (carpenter) caste comes from a rural area to a city where he becomes an electrician or a motor mechanic or takes up some other vocation. If he gets some education he becomes a clerk or even a doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher. He does not usually follow his father’s profession. This has largely destroyed the basis of the caste system economically.

The caste system is now being artificially propped up socially by some vested interests, for example, vote bank politics. But when the basis of an institution has been destroyed (by the advance of technology) how long can that institution survive? To my mind, the caste system in India will not last for more than 10 or 20 years from now because its very basis has gone.

A modern mill no longer bothers about the caste of a worker it employs, and only sees his or her technical skills. The caste system was a social institution corresponding to the handicraft industry. Now that the handicraft industry has largely been replaced by mill industry, the caste system has become totally outmoded, and is hindering our progress. The sooner it is destroyed the better.
Was it bad for India?

Many people think the caste system did a lot of damage to India. This is undoubtedly true of modern times. But in the feudal age the system did good to India because it corresponded to the feudal occupational division of labour in society, as pointed out above, which resulted in the development of productive forces at that time.

It is a myth that today’s Scheduled Castes were always treated with indignity. In fact, up to the coming of British rule the members of these castes were usually in some handicraft vocation and were earning their livelihood from that vocation. It was only when the British mill industry destroyed their handicraft and they became unemployed that they began to be treated with indignity. An unemployed man becomes a poor man, and a poor man is not given respect in society.

For instance, the chamars were at one time a respectable caste because they earned their livelihood by doing leather work. It was only when large companies destroyed their handicraft, and thereby their livelihood, that they sank in the social ladder, so much so that today to call a person a chamar is often regarded as an insult (see the judgment of the Supreme Court in Swaran Singh & Ors. vs. State through Standing Counsel & Anr. [2008(8) SCC 435, JT 2008(9) SC 60]).

Similarly, other castes whose handicraft occupations were destroyed by the British mill industry became unemployed and thereby fell in the social order.
How will the caste system be destroyed?

To my mind, the caste system will be destroyed (and is in fact being destroyed) in India by the advance of technology, through people’s struggles, and inter-caste marriages.

As regards the advance of technology, it has been pointed out above that in a modern industrial society the division of labour cannot be on the basis of one’s birth but on the basis of technical skills. Hence industrialisation destroys the caste system. In fact, the caste system has become weak in a State such as West Bengal, which was partially industrialised before most other States.

As regards people’s struggles, these are in fact going on everywhere in view of the harsh economic conditions in India (marked by price rise, unemployment, and so on). People in India are realising that united they stand and divided they fall, and that caste is certainly a dividing force.

As regards inter-caste marriages, I have stated in my judgment in Lata Singh vs. State of U.P. [2006(5) SCC 475, JT 2006(6) SC 173], that they are in the national interest and hence should be encouraged.

(Justice Markandey Katju is a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. The first part of this article was published yesterday.)
Food Culture in the Student Hostel Messes
and Brahmanization of Economics
“If we aren’t supposed to eat animals, then why the hell they are made of meat?”
This article is not offering a matured argument per se, but several thematic sights on
which the argument can be developed. Divided into several sections, each section, therefore
presents, a sight where the battle can be fought for the issue, the title suggests. Though no
attempt is made to contextualize the argument, the whole issue resurfaced, at least for me, in
the context of rustication of ten Dalit students of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on
January 10, 2002. So it would be just appropriate to brief the incident for the readers unaware
of it.
On Jan 10, 2002, a few students of HCU (Hyderabad Central University) raised
dissenting voices against several incidents including increasing mess bills in the hostel.
University responded very awkwardly by rusticating ten students, all belonging to dalit
castes, and filed criminal cases against them, charging physical assault on the hostel warden.
The question, I am raising here, is not the validity of such shameless easy assumptions and
hasty conclusions of a five star repute university. But for me this traumatic, case of rusticating
ten Dalit students in HCU has again pointed at the question of Brahmanization of our food
habit. This has implied in effect a serious consequence on the food composition of meals in
the hostels, and an imaginary symbiotic and direct relationship amidst food composition and
mess bills. One of the objectionable attitudes of the HCU hostel administration, that lead to
the problem, is to “segregate vegetarian and non-vegetarian eaters.” 1 Further, as the Dalit
students are telling, they are watched at by upper caste students with a quizzical look while
eating, as if to say all Dalit students eat a lot causing increase in the mess bills, which all
others have to bore. Subsequently Dalit students were even denied to be in the student mess
committee and the purchasing committees in the hostel.2
Let us come back to the arguments we began with. Last year when I took charge of the
mess administration of CIEFL (Hyderabad) hostel, (as a part of the mess committee run by
students), for a month, the easiest way I chose to slim down the apparently high mess bills
[I have been working on this topic for quite a long time. However, I could only manage to
put together a few points I a very ‘populist’ mode. One of several problems I faced is lack
of archival resources, (articles, information etc.,) and works of other scholars in the field.
Thus this article has not gone beyond being an outline of the intended larger
argument/article, which is still under progress. Readers are therefore kindly requested to
send their opinions, suggestions, and all related information to me at:
<dunking@rediffmail.com> & <dunkin_jalki@yahoo.co.in>]
was to reduce the quantity of non-veg food from the weekly menu of our mess. Not
surprisingly, mess bills came down significantly. BUT, a question hanged on unsolved for
me, the politics of such economic equations, which I realised soon:
Can the cost distinction of food habit (as veg and non-veg) be made
‘democratically’, devoid of any inherent (caste) biases?
If the composition of food goes hand-in-hand with the exercise of power, power
exercised to prescribe food cannot simply be associated with the questions of raising mess
bills. Even economics is just an annex to the power relations in cultural politics. Anything and
everything under the sun, should be considered a specific variant of such ‘cultural politics’.
A careful glance at the (national) common menu of our hostel messes (which comprises
of rice, chapati/parota, sambar/dhaal/rasam, curd, pickle, happala(m) and a vegetable curry)
should surprise everybody. Not many hostels provide non-vegetarian food for students. And
wherever meat is provided the taken for granted items in this non-veg menu are egg, fish and
chicken/mutton (notice the absence of pork and beef items in the menu). Two layers of
oppressive strategies are sandwiched into this deceptively simple problem: firstly the absence
of non-veg in the food and secondly the absence of pork and beef from the non-veg menu.
These disciplinary attitudes are justified on several grounds:
♦ The absence of meat (including egg and fish) is justified as, providing meat is
against ‘Indian’ food sentiments (the argument will be “hostel is a public place”, i.e., to
say, hostel is meant for people from all religions/castes and economic backgrounds, so
meat cannot be provided), and in a little ‘radical’, atmosphere (like HCU or CIEFL)
meat becomes a non-affordable, luxury, fashion food.
♦ The absence of beef/pork (in those hostels where meat is provided) is justified on
the grounds that beef and pork are against the sentiments of Hindus and Muslims
A whole set of ridiculous (contradictory and paradoxical) categories and equations are at
work in these two defensive methodologies. The former argument is presented as, either
something that consensually shaped itself, devoid of any kind of politics or as something
natural to a Gandhi and Buddha’s non-violent India. This clichéd pretext of ‘Indian food
sentiments/hostel is a public place’, when divides students into vegetarians and nonvegetarians,
the school/college reserves both India and public-sphere exclusively for
vegetarians. The logic of this equation, assumed to be distanced from relations of power,
exiles more than two third of Indians out of India. For, (a) on the whole, vegetarianism stands
for Hindus and non-vegetarianism for non-Hindus, and (b) the collective noun ‘Hindus’, here
comprises of (only) theoretically vegetarian upper-caste (Brahmins and Jains). Theoretically
in the sense of the cultural by our history and social sciencies textbooks, according to those
textbooks all ‘Hindus’ in general and Berahmins and Jains in particular, are vegetarians. The
danger of this theory is that it keeps out individual exceptions, of a Brahmin/Jain eating meat,
or the ‘exceptions’ like meat eating Brahmins of Bengal, Bihar and South Kanara of
Karnataka, or several meat eating Buddhists living in the Himalayan Mountain region.
Naturally only vegetarians become lawful citizens of India. Thus this segregation structurally
reinforces the varna distinction of Hinduism into impressionable young brains. In the
‘modern’ days (that too in a ‘modern’ institution like HCU), exploitation of Dalits on caste
line is increasingly becoming impracticable. As such, the power in the dominating position
has to constantly upgrade its tools and technologies of exploitation. Rendering food culture of
non-vegetarians as polluted or luxury has become one of several such modern technologies
involved in contemporary casteism.
The concept of ‘Indian food sentiments’ is being easily demonstrated as secular and pan-
Indian tradition as more and more celebrities are adopting vegetarianism and publicising it as
something ‘Indian’ and ‘natural’. Vegetarianism thus is becoming a demonstratably active
non-religious symbol of public life of ‘secular modernity’, enshrined as different from
Western modernity. In the present era where ‘secular’ and (values that are) non-Western (in
India) is predominantly Hindu; Islam and Christianity are rendered alien and (so) communal
by the unstrained effort of the Hindutva organizations, constantly wagging the flag of antimeat
eaters campaign. This invokes an aura of nationalism for vegetarianism, an old but
effective tool to counter the Muslim and Christian critique of vegetarianism. Sadly, more the
vegetarianism is ornamented with religious meanings and institutions; more it becomes
‘secular’ and ‘Indian’, an easily incontestable terrain. Thus, such a clichéd version of
‘nationalism’- both for export and internal consumption - becomes a form of cultural
imperialism. The whole Indology and Oriental studies, it seems, also have contributed to this
The often-heard argument of ecologists and environmentalists, that an omnivorous
human requires ten times more land space for food production than does a vegetarian, also
denies meat eating. What is implied in this argument is that, by stopping eating meat man
frees up land to feed the world's starving and eases the pressure on rain forests and other
valuable resources. But these mathematical equations never correspond to real life situations.
They are just paradoxes of our great power politics, for in our day-to-day life all the land
owning and ruling (upper) castes and classes are by rule vegetarians. The contradiction of this
equation is, majority of the world population eats meat, and they are the back-bending
farmers working on the land. In contrast to this fact, the majority of the landowning class (at
least in India) is vegetarian, and the meat eating farmers who cultivate land, by common
sense, engage in producing vegetarian food and not meat. (Thankfully our poor sociologists
have failed to pick upon such arguments of ecologists and environmentalists. Otherwise, they
might have proved to the world long back that upper castes confiscate/d land from carnivores
Dalits, Tribals, and minorities, in the supreme interest of the humanity, and saved the
mankind from starvation.)
A few more catalysts in the process of ever-increasing popularity of vegetarianism are
Animal Rights Activists, (pro-vegetarian) NGOs, NRIs and Celebrities. Each one of them has
their ‘misplaced’ concern for vegetarianism, an anti-Dalits and anti-minorities movement.
The tools, with which activists fight for ‘animal rights’, whether safeguards animals or not
but, always re-establishes Brahmanism; as eating animals is by far considerd the most
unkindest (some time the only) crime of all against animals. The corollary is only meat eating
masses are rendered susceptible to violation of animal rights; as though Dalits and minorities
had to carry the burden of Gandhi’s non-violence. In fact ‘Gandhi’ is increasingly being
produced as a non-liqidatable virtuous (!) restraint on the freedom of Dalits and minorities.
Animal activists have also (though rarely) talked about abstaining from eating dairy products
(i.e. veganism) as it involve gross ‘abuse’ of cows and dairy products are very bad for human
health (as it is argued). However the influence of Jains and Brahmins on our knowledge
system has never allowed the activists to fight for veganism seriously. Thanks to the
herbivores celebrities, NRIs, and NGOs – the list includes such saintly personalities like
Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Maneka Gandhi, Amala and so on – for their assistance
through posters, appearance in advertisements, sponsorship etc., to promote such a cause in
the global (rather animal) interest of converting meat eaters into Good, Indian, Hindu
If we just go by the argument of several “eminent jurists”, state too has its role in the
game, as it “cannot spend any funds for any religious event or institution.”3 State, as a
consequence, cannot/should not fund on advertising vegetarianism, as it redefines meat-eating
practices of several cast/religious communities out of existence. But “In both the Gandhian
and RSS mode of nationalist thought…”, which state buys readily, “the cow not only remains
sacred but is constructed as a constitutional animal as well”.4 Thus – in fact the over
Brahmanization of our state apparatus camouflages the fact that – the state which is thought
to be democratic is in fact patronising anti-Dalit and minority power. When Andhra Pradesh
“government took up the temple entry programme for Dalits” the Hindutva organisations,
made some embarrassing oafish statements, “Dalits can enter Hindu temples only when they
give up meat and beef eating”. But the question is “why should somebody give up his/her
food culture to become a priest in a Hindu temple?”5 About 15% schedule castes, 12%
Muslims, 3% Christians, 7% Tribals and 10% OBCs eat beef in the contemporary era. What
these Hindutva organizations never understood is that the sentiments of these 47% people
(excluding exceptions among upper castes mentioned previously) are also hurt.6
Defining inequality in terms of wealth misrepresents caste inequalities. One can invoke
here the long battle of Dalit thinkers, on the over use of Marxian tools to analyse caste
problem, which according to them, has rendered caste oppression less severe in comparison
with race oppression. For, money based distinction dubiously assumes that only rich people
eat meat and poor do not. In fact it is poor who eat more meat (think about beef as food
among Muslims, Christians and Dalits or fish as food in Kerala, Bengal or any coastal areas
for that matter) and vegetarianism is a fashion among rich people. (For instance, beef/pork is
not provided in train or air travel, or in star hotels.) Therefore denying meat, taking its highcost
into consideration or dividing students in terms of food habit is clearly an indication of
Brahminization of economics. People even argue that such a division is very ‘natural’ and
inevitable, because it is a habit of upbringing. To elucidate the ineptitude of such segregation
try dividing students as pickle eaters-non-pickle eaters or rice with rasam eaters-rice with dhal
eaters, and arrange separate mess or counters for them at the best, or ban either of them at the
The unreflective enforcement of Jain/Brahmin centred vegetarian food habit as
something ‘normal’ is particularly distressing in a college/school atmosphere where usually
(if the school is not run by an upper caste organisation, preferring students from the same
community) non-vegetarians out number vegetarians. So asking meat eaters, to abstain from
their usual food (meat) to respect the cause of minority non-meat eaters is relatively more
horrendous than to ‘blasphemously’ ask non-meat eaters to eat meat to respect the cause of
majority. It is mere cannibalism. Though a critique need not provide a ‘solution’ per se, just
to suggest, as we do not divide between dhaal eaters and rasam eaters, and arrange food
separately or ban either of them, division between meat eaters and non meat eaters also
should not be followed either.
Regarding providing beef and pork in a hostel mess, Christians and Dalit food habits
(eating both beef and pork) are never taken into consideration. The whole issue is posed as
Hindu v/s Muslim’s problem. The collective noun ‘Hindu’, it seems, now includes everybody
except Muslims (Jains, Brahmins and those castes which eat meat and not beef will be the
standard bearers of this Pan-Indian Hindu tradition, an anti-Muslim alignment). “The ‘sacred’
cow has come to be considered a symbol of community identity of the Hindus whose cultural
tradition is often imagined as threatened by the Muslims who are thought of as beef eaters.” 7
A very modern and secular teacher used to take social studies classes, in my high-school
days. He used to argue that (beef/pork) meat eating is entirely a personal matter. “I respect
their culture.” He will say, and stop, and look around, each one of us straight in our eyes, and
will narrate an incident, why he did not attend a Muslim friend’s marriage, even though he
happened to be his closest friend. “They serve meat in public.” After such a long preamble, in
a mesmerising tone he used to teach us the First War of Independence; how British provoked
Muslims and Hindus against each other. Anything but one lesson he and t/his history has
taught me in my high-school days was that ‘Hindus’ do not eat cow (but eat pork!), and
Muslims do not eat pork (but eat cow!), AND British, because they are Christians, do not
mind eating either of them. It seems, our nationalist historiography it self, in its urge to
counter British imperialism, is written in such a way that the First War of Independence/1857
Sepoy Mutiny instead of uniting Indians under one banner divides them on their food habit.
But is it not very funny that only those cows which Muslims, Dalits and Christians eat are
Holy, those which are allowed to “wander waif and orphan-like on the streets of cities”,8 or to
steal onto neighbours fields in villages are not holy?
It is indeed sad that a school that tries to incorporate a culture of equality among its
students from the very first day by insisting them to wear ‘Uniform’ dress, on the contrary
teaches them to divide themselves in terms of food. In a system where Dalits and minorities
are tend to be alienated culturally, both by the choice of texts and teaching methods,
unreflective adoption of vegetarianism only adds to the cultural alienation felt by them. Such
a feeling mars their performance in the courses. It is high time, Food habit should be declared
fundamental right of a citizen, and any kind of impediments, ‘hate campaigns,’ against
particular food, should be regarded violation of basic human rights.
-Dunkin Jalki.
Research Student, CIEFL, Hyderabad.
1 Chandraban Prasad draws our attention to this food issue (Dalit Diary Sunday Pioneer “High on Science Low
on Morals.” 27, Jan 2002. p. 5.) This article should neither cause a misunderstanding that the whole issue is
based merely on problem regarding food nor that the activist fighting for the cause have totally forgotten this
issue. Though it is an important issue, for the time being, struggle committee, I feel has not paid much attention
to this, as the consequence of other discriminations are for more severe and needs immediate attention.
2 For more information refer the article written by Anveshi Law Committee, “Castaway in Hyderabad.” The
Hindu “Magazine”, Sunday March 3, 2002. pp.1-2.
3 Rajeev Dhavan, “The Kumbh.” Hindu Jan 26, 2001. p. 10.
4 Kancha Ilaiah. “Caste and the UN Meet.” Hindu Aug 21, 2001. p. 10.
5 Kancha Ilaiah. “Reject the Oppressor.” Hindustan Times Nov 21, 2001. p. 10.
6 Udit Raj. “Who Killed Buddhism?.” Hindustan Times Nov 27, 2001. p. 10.
7 DN Jha, “Paradox of the Indian Cow.” Hindustan Times Dec 18, 2001. p. 10.
8 Akhilesh Mithal Sunday Chronicle 16 Dec 2001. p. II
How Varna Originated in Hinduism - Subramaniam Swamy - video

Church's History in India: Dividing Hindus to Rule Them - Jati becomes Caste - Rajiv Malhotra - video
I took a DNA Tribes ancestry test a while back, I'm posting results here for anyone's interest -





<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dhangar (India) (58) 1.49E+17
PC/BT-Asian (4) 4.66E+17
Brahmin (India) (72) 7.30E+17
Rajput (India) (72) 8.50E+17
Kurdish (Iraq) (225) 1.04E+18
Bhumihar Brahmin (India) (72) 1.26E+18
Desasth brahmin (India) (58) 2.76E+18
Chinese (83) 2.97E+18
Oriya Brahmin (India) (61) 4.40E+18
NCSBI Caucasian (4) 5.81E+18
Chitpavan brahmin (India) (58) 6.60E+18
Khandayat (India) (61) 1.02E+19
Gope (India) (61) 1.03E+19
Bosnian (156) 1.30E+19
Azores (82) 1.64E+19
Norwegian (224) 1.85E+19
Karan (India) (61) 1.93E+19<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
How to take this test?
Basically, you are from Indian Brahmin tribe, one of your ancestor may have married to european lineage.

You can purchase a kit from there, do a cheekswab, send it back, and they will give you results in about 2 weeks.

I'm not brahmin. my caste is saiva vellalar from southern most tip of TN. So this omnipop caste result confused me a little bit. Also, I don't have any european ancestry, one of those maps don't indicate any direct ancestry, they show which places have the highest frequency of my blend of ancestry.
<!--QuoteBegin-Pandyan+Feb 22 2009, 04:22 AM-->QUOTE(Pandyan @ Feb 22 2009, 04:22 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->http://www.dnatribes.com/?gclid=CPvSh_HY...Ggod8mlA1Q

You can purchase a kit from there, do a cheekswab, send it back, and they will give you results in about 2 weeks.

I'm not brahmin. my caste is saiva vellalar from southern most tip of TN. So this omnipop caste result confused me a little bit. Also, I don't have any european ancestry, one of those maps don't indicate any direct ancestry, they show which places have the highest frequency of my blend of ancestry.
[right][snapback]94814[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->The way I understand it, I don't think this tells you your ancestry, only what your DNA correlates closely to - that is, what other communities *also* share all/various(?) elements of your DNA. (They seem to have got a lot of data on Indian brahmin communities and not anything on Saiva Vellalars of TN.)

If one *were* to read it (wrongly IMO) as indicating ancestry then it says you have part Chinese, part Kurdish, part Norwegian, part Bosnian and oh yeah part Azores ancestry!
Azores is an island off the coast of S? America that the Portuguese colonised and took stolen Africans to. So not sure if the "Azores" element actually means you have native American (Azores) ancestry as well now <!--emo&Wink--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='wink.gif' /><!--endemo-->. Note that if they'd found components in your DNA that are also there in Portuguese and/or Africans, the results would have said Portuguese and/or some African community, wouldn't they? They wouldn't have specifically said "Azores". So, reading the results as indicating ancestry says you're a bit Native American, I think <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<i>Actually,</i> if the results on how closely your DNA corresponds to the different communities identified are accurate, wouldn't that rather indicate the reverse: that the genes which your Southernmost Indian Tip ancestors gave you are now found dispersed in other parts of the world. So how does this disprove the idea that your ancestors - who would have got their genes from even more ancient communities in S India - may have long ago colonised different parts of India, and then eventually (as humans populations expanded in other directions) the genes moved out to make it to Azores, China, and Kurdistan, Bosnia eventually to Norway.
Remember that "Real Eve" book that Dhu and G Sub discussed in the DNA thread? Africa -> Indian subcontinent + SE Asia -> rest of the world.

Kurdish people are related to Iranians, aren't they? And wasn't there that journal paper that found how two ancient S Indian Girijan communities' genes were to be found not only in all Indians - and hence you and me as well - but also in "W Asians" (Iranians and Afghans). At some point in time, colonies of Iranians could well have settled in Bosnia (along with communities indigenous to that area) who could have transported the genes to Norway.

(People should correct me if I've made a logic error anywhere.)

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->my caste is saiva vellalar from southern most tip of TN.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Saiva Vellalar community. Kirei.
You're a Hindu. That makes you my 'caste' - well, it makes you mine, anyway (since I don't really know what caste actually means: I don't know Portuguese AND I don't understand christian theology). Didn't you know I had planted my flag on you all. :greed:
"Possession is nine tenths of the law." All you Hindus are mine, all your ancestors are mine. The maths to explain all this is complex. And, as we know, I can't explain complex math. Just take my word for it. "Trust me," said the wolf <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
"But we don't want to belong to you, we want to be free" chirruped the cuddly Hindu animals assembled.
Well, that's just too bad - too bad for you. Because, hear that? That's the sound of inevitability. There's no escaping it.
<!--QuoteBegin-Pandyan+Feb 21 2009, 10:52 AM-->QUOTE(Pandyan @ Feb 21 2009, 10:52 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->http://www.dnatribes.com/?gclid=CPvSh_HY...Ggod8mlA1Q

You can purchase a kit from there, do a cheekswab, send it back, and they will give you results in about 2 weeks.

I'm not brahmin. my caste is saiva vellalar from southern most tip of TN. So this omnipop caste result confused me a little bit. Also, I don't have any european ancestry, one of those maps don't indicate any direct ancestry, they show which places have the highest frequency of my blend of ancestry.

It means that caste is not genetic based social order but it is just a clan identity. It also show that clans had inter reletions over several thousand years.

It means that Euroepans have your genetic markers and you have given it them.

It is not the other way round.
Pandyan - thanks for posting your results. Of course caste does have a genetic component. But separating the origins needs a good marker set.

It is well-known that Indians can be identified reasonably well by a sufficiently large genetic marker panel. It has identified you correctly as an Indian, which is not bad at all. But beyond that it is well known that amongst the forward caste populations of Indian it is hard to distinguish between north and south even with an extensive panel. So the panel this company seems to have was clearly not sufficient for you to be localized.
But given that you say that you are shaiva vellAlar makes things quite clear.
The core of the vellAlar jAti (though they appear to have assimilated others later) appears to have descended from the velir, who within early tamil literature itself are recorded as being of northern origin from gujArat or further north according to others. In support of this it clear from the tamil sources that they were one of the early patrons of the brAhmaNa-s of the tamil country (there is a well-known poetic cycle a velir warlord who was killed in battle who entrusted his daughters to a brAhmaNa). In shaiva-era, which is a much neglected facet of the study of Indian history, the vellAlar became patrons of the pAshupata-s and the saiddhAntika shaiva-s and were critical for the support for the latter in the south.

The other tamil groups in this company's list are:
Indian Tamil (Sri Lanka) (40)
Pallar (Tamil Nadu, India) (33)
Paraiyar (Tamil Nadu, India) (21)
Shiite Muslim (Tamil Nadu, India) (62)
Sri Lankan Tamil (Sri Lanka) (107)
Sunni Muslim (Tamil Nadu, India) (62)
Tamil (India) (103)
Tanjore Kallar (Tamil Nadu, India) (101)
Vanniyar (Tamil Nadu, India) (87)

Other than generic tamils which might include vellAlars the remains groups are clear quite removed from them in the jAti hierarchy.
<!--QuoteBegin-Hauma Hamiddha+Feb 21 2009, 02:18 PM-->QUOTE(Hauma Hamiddha @ Feb 21 2009, 02:18 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Pandyan - thanks for posting your results. <b>Of course caste does have a genetic component</b>. But separating the origins needs a good marker set.


Can you explain further,
You are the expert here
Thanks for your insight HH.

Here is some more info about the velir-vellalar.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Nacchinarkiniyar descibes a tradition relating to the migration of the Yadava race as follows: The sage Agastya repaired to Dwaraka and taking with him the 18 kings of the line of Krishna, 18 families of Vels or velirs and others, moved to the South with the Aruvalar tribes. There, he had the forests cleared and built up kingdoms settling therein all the people he had brought with him. Kapila, a poet probably of the 2nd century AD addresses the reigning Velir chief as the 49th in descendence from the original founder of that dynasty. M Srinivasa Iyengar points out that allowing the usual 25 years for each generation, the above kingdom must have been established about BC 1075 and this may be assumed as the probable date of the migration of the Ay Velirs to South India. There were many Velir chiefs in the Tamil country during the Sangam period. They had 'Ay' as a prefix or a suffix to their names, such as Ay-andiran and Vel Ay. The latter had his capital in Ay-kudi and ruled the Potiya region. Many Sangam poets have glorified his bravery and charitable qualities.   

M. Raghava Iyengar held the popularity of the worship of Krishna in the ancient Tamilakam might be partly due to the influence of the Velirs who are often referred to in the Sangam works. He has clearly shown that the Velirs referred to in the Sangam works belonged to the 18 Kudi velirs of the descendants of the Yadu kula to which Krishna also belonged, and that the Velirs migrated from Dwarapati, and settled in different parts of South India. The Ay velir kings of later period also mention in their copper plate charters that they belonged to the Yadu kula of Krishna.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ancient Tamil literary tradition links the descent of vELir chieftains from Tuvarai (Dwaraka).

This attests to the migration from the Sarasvati River Basin to South India, during the phases of desiccation of the Sarasvati River.

Puram. 201 states: " Descended from 'fortynine generations' from the initial origin from the pitcher of a northern sage, Agastya, the vELir chieftains had ruled over Tuvarai (Dwaraka) of the 'soaring bronze walls' ".
Forty nine generations may be approximately equal to 1000 years.

The Great Epic, Mahabharata, recounts the migration of yaadava's from Mathura to Dwaraka to escape persecution by Jaraasandha and Sisupaala.

Agastya had reportedly led a migration of eighteen kings, descendents of Krishna (neTumuTiaNNal) and of eighteen families of vELir from Tuvaraapati (Dwaraka) to Potiyil (of Tamil land: Nacc. commentary on Tol. Paayiram.PoruL. 34).

The Chalukyas are also referred to as descendants of the pitcher sage, Agastya. According to Tamil nighanTus, vELir considered themselves as yaadava's. In epigraphical inscriptions (aaykuTi plates), vEL aay (aabhiiras) are described as vRSNikula. vELir are also linked to dynasties of andhras, kadambas, kaakatiiyas and yaadavas of Devagiri. 

I believe you partly cover this in your article titled, the End of the era of Tamil warlords.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Can you explain further,
Not sure if I am an expert on anything but briefly the chief issues are as follows:
-It has become fashionable amongst the modern Indian elite to deny the importance of social structure in Indian populations. Of course Indians traditionally did not think so.

-While it is known that people could transit from one jAti to another or even from one varNa to another, the general male mobility across lines was limited by the jAti and gotra system (both brahminical and non-brahminical). This was particularly strong in the "service jAti-s" e.g. weaver, tailor, potter, etc where the trades required learning through father-son apprenticeship.

-marriage in several jAti-s was also confined within jAti-s although here there was some directional flexibility i.e. vivAha is allowed but not AvAha.

-A consequence of these practices is that we find an imprint of this on the genetic landscape. Thus if we look at just Y-chromosomal markers we see a strong gradient from 1) brAhmaNa+kShatriya->2)degraded kShatriya+middle jAti-s->3)tribal and lower jAti-s.
For example R1a1 is highest in 1 found in 2 but rare in most of 3; R2 -same; j2A2- same nearly absent in 3; G2- only 1; H1 highest in 2 and 3; J2b2 highest in 2; L1 highest in 2(especially Tamils/Telugus to some degree); F* highest in 3.
This shows that genetics and social structure do have a correlation. Beyond this fine structure correlations simple need a higher resolution marker set.
What varna do yadavs fall under?
<!--QuoteBegin-Pandyan+Mar 13 2009, 04:59 AM-->QUOTE(Pandyan @ Mar 13 2009, 04:59 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->What varna do yadavs fall under?

Sri Krishna was a Kshatriya

The Gujjars who are milkmen formed many kingdoms
The hoysalas were also shepherds as was Holkar

However, in most places today, Yadavs are upper end OBC
In the late 19th century, until the Arya Samaj movement,

Yadavs did not have thread ( non-Dwija )


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