{{{Brahmins}}} do not descend from a common group

I don’t know if I mentioned it, so I will do so here: Brahmins do not seem to form a natural descent group from a common ancestral population. I say this because Vagheesh Narasimhan looked into the question, and the model could not be made to work.

That being said, Brahmin groups do not seem arbitrarily descended from just any South Asian groups. South Indian Brahmins are clearly shifted toward having more ANI-like ancestry than other South Indians. Bengali Brahmins are clearly very distinct from other Bengalis. Both these groups can be well modeled as UP Brahmins in three parts and one part non-Brahmin native.

I will leave it to readers to puzzle these facts out and suggest how {{{Brahmin}}} groups emerged in the Indian context.

29 Replies to “{{{Brahmins}}} do not descend from a common group”

  1. S Indian Brahmins cluster well with Gujarati Vanias too. It seems like S Indian Brahmins and N Indian Vaishya are roughly similar.

    Granted, I noticed this from a cursory glance and my own clustering.

  2. “Bengali Brahmins are clearly very distinct from other Bengalis. Both these groups can be well modeled as UP Brahmins in three parts and one part non-Brahmin native.”

    LOL, considering in last 50 years, the bengali brahmin is perhaps closest to subaltern/native politics (in their own state) than other brahmin groups. While almost all subaltern poltics in India has been against the Brahmins. BJP vs Mandal, Brahmin vs Marathas, Tam Bram vs Dravidians etc

    If Bengali Brahmin are still so distinct perhaps the other Brahmins dont even have that 1/4th native part. 😛

  3. Any representation source or data-set to check the info shared in the original post ? – Brahmins No common Group.

  4. I have no theories regarding the origin of Brahmins, but I can offer some sociological observations which hopefully will help.

    Among the 4 varnas of caste Hindus, only Brahmin varna seems to be the most well defined. What I mean by that is that there is usually no ambiguity about which caste is a Brahmin and which is not.

    Compare that to Kshatriya varna, which seems to be very murky. There is no real consensus as to which caste is Kshatriya and which is not. While some castes are universally acknowledged as Kshatriya (for e.g., the royal Rajput clans of Rajasthan), claims of many other castes are not so unreservedly accepted. Are Jats, Marathas, or Reddys Kshatriya? The answer will depend on who you ask.

    This suggests to me that Brahmins do share a common cultural fountainhead. Looks like Brahmin varna appeared earliest, and formed the cultural workhorse for the indo-aryaniation of India. Other varnas look more like an ad-hoc aggregation of local castes without a common cultural or genetic source.

    1. I think you are overfitting the data into your theory. Kshatriyas are indeed ill-defined, but Brahmins are not the only varna that are well-defined. Vaishyas and Shudras are too (cultivator castes like Jats would have been called shudras until Independent India).

      I think it’s the Kshatriyas who are the exception, not the Brahmins. Which isn’t surprising when you examine Indian history. Wars, invasions, and conquests have a habit of killing or dispossessing the warrior/aristocratic class, which is what the Kshatriyas were. Other varnas were not so vulnerable.

      1. Brahmins vary. Which is why S Indian Brahmins can even autosomally cluster with me, and I am decently far from N Indian Brahmin and Brahmin like populations (I am in between Gujarati B and Gujarati C on all calculators, with a Steppe closer to Gujarati B and an AASI closer to Gujarati C, with a lower Iranic component than both), such as Gujarati A. Also, vaishya do vary a fair bit. They all seem quite Indus Periphery heavy. But the AASI Steppe ratio varies from 2.1:1 to 1:1.

        Agarwal 37 Delhi Delhi 0.293 0.559 0.14

        Oswals 4 Gujarat Ahmeda 0.269 0.574 0.157

        Baniya 4 Haryana Kurukshetra 0.2 0.605 0.195

        Jain 3 Rajasthan Bhilwara 0.293 0.559 0.14

        GujaratiC 5 USA USA 0.258 0.565 0.177

        GujaratiB 5 USA USA 0.213 0.566 0.221

    2. talking of kshatriya, it does not seem there are surviving strains of the kshatriya of the old arya tribes. This is because the rajputs seem to be descended from the huns who invaded in the 5th century onwards and established themselves locally by absorption into the caste system.

  5. I dont understand this caste issue fully.
    Is verna and caste the same thing?
    How many vernas and castes are there in total?
    Is there anything called middle caste?
    Can people from different ethnic groups and ethnolingual groups and different states belong to the same caste?
    Who are dalits?Are dalits a caste?
    Do even Muslims,Christians and non hindus have caste?
    Are the surnames of castes directly mentioned in religious scriptures?
    Is the caste of a person mentioned in official documents(like national ID)?
    Why dont indians completely get rid of the caste system?

    Why dont people of lower castes change their name and become middle or upper caste? I mean the entire group of lower caste can change their name and become upper caste.

    1. Hello Rose,

      You seem new to all of this. So I will try to be relatively succinct. I hope you are able to get the gestalt from my explanation. This issue is complex and ever changing.

      Peopling of the Indian Subcontinent

      1. First out of Africa migration brought indigenous people to S Asia. They are distantly related to the current Andaman Islanders and even more distantly related to Australian aboriginals. We name this component AASI.

      2. Second wave brought people that split of from Iranian Mesolithic Hunter Gatherers. They came quite long ago but established the Indus Valley Civilization about 2500-3000 (perhaps older) BCE. They simultaneously mixed with the AASI population present. Therefore, skeletal samples of these people recently analyzed show a majority Indus Valley component and a minority AASI. No one knows the language of these people. But they built a complex civilization with written language and even plumbing. It is hypothesized that they possibly spoke the precursor of modern day Dravidian languages of South India. The resolved the public defecation issue that India still quite has not gotten right. They spanned the modern day Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat. They spanned the modern Pakistani states of Punjab and Sindh. There were images on their walls that are suggestive yoga poses, and there are images to suggest they, like many of their contemporaries, were polytheistic peoples.

      3. People residing in current day Eastern Europe and Northwest Asia in the grasslands, known as the Steppe, had a male mediated migration into the Indian Subcontinent. It is debated whether the term invasion is appropriate. But they migrated in waves. They were not literate but they used oral tradition. They spoke a precursor to Sanskrit, a language part of the Indo European language group. It is closely related to Latin. Sanskrit is also the precursor languages today of all of the languages of modern day India.

      To clarify, just because these people were located in modern day Eastern Europe, does not mean they are identical to modern day Europeans today. They were probably darker, given fairer skin is rather recent in human history. They also only form a component of modern day European DNA, maxing at out at about 45% but falling much lower than that in many areas, especially the Basque region, a place where Indo European Languages are not even spoken.

      These people, when they came to S Asia, literally searching for greener pastures, encountered an Indus Valley Civilization already in major decline. It is hypothesized that floods and food constraints but strain on the Indus peoples. These migrants from the Steppe brought horses, chariots, and iron weapons with them. They, in many senses, overpowered the Indus people, asserting themselves on top of the dominance hierarchy.

      They brought with them the Rig Veda, the first of the Vedas of Hinduism. Later the Hinduism that developed however incorporated some of the principles from the conquered Indus People.

      Establishment of caste

      Caste and varna are effectively the same. As you can tell from above, the Indian people are a mix of three groups: the AASI, the Iran Mesolithic related HGs, and the Steppe people. Caste is thought to be established by those Steppe people who asserted themselves on top of the dominance hierarchy of a declining Indus people (mix of majority Iran Mesolithic related HGs and minority AASI peoples).

      In doing so, they established a feudal system, one composed of 5 basic castes: Brahmin (priests) , Kshatriya (kings and warriors), Vaishya (merchants), Shudra (peasants), and outcastes. They put themselves on top. Initially, DNA evidence suggests it was a bit more meritocratic at first, with people moving up castes, but these castes very much stabilized about 2000 years ago.

      Trends of Caste

      All S Asians are fundamentally made of these 3 components: AASI, Iran Related Mesolithic HGs, and Steppe.

      The most critical trends are the following. The Iran Mesolithic Hunter Gatherer component forms the majority of S Asian DNA. It does vary between groups but more in a geographic manner. Recall, these people form the majority of DNA of the Indus Valley people. The Indus Valley was in the NW of the subcontinent. The SE of the subcontinent is the furthest. So it makes sense that their ancestry peaks in the NW and gradually declines towards the SE.

      On the other hand, the AASI ancestry is lowest in the NW and peaks in the SE, following a cline in that direction. Additionally, some of the AASI stayed in forests or isolated tribes, not mixing with either of the two groups, so those groups also tend to be AASI heavy. Those groups, when encountered by the already trimixed people, were designated as out castes, the lowest on the caste ladder.

      Steppe people invaded in the NW and so it makes sense their ancestry peaks in the NW and declines as one would go SE.

      The last trend is the most critical for understanding caste. Remember the Steppe people imposed themselves on top of the dominance hierarchy. Therefore, the more Steppe, the higher the caste tends to be. The more AASI, the lower the caste tends to be.
      So the Steppe: AASI ratio is the most important for determining caste. But, once again, geography, as stated above also plays a role.

      Caste and geography

      The 5 castes are present, at varying quantities, in all places. But remember the geography plays a role. The AASI ancestry declines as one goes NW to SE and the opposite for the Steppe.

      So a S Indian Brahmin (priest) may have equal Steppe ancestry compared to a N Indian Vaishya (merchant) caste person and that N Indian Vaishya may have the Steppe ancestry of some even more NW Indian Shudra (peasant) caste person. But the system is effectively racialized along the Steppe:AASI cline, especially in the context of a single state.

      Steppe ancestry, averages 10-20% across the subcontinent. It is the lowest among tribals (sometime as low as 3%), who never really mixed and remained largely AASI with a solid component of Iran Mesolithic HG. It peaks in Brahmins (as low as high teens % in the South and as high as high 20s % in North) and also some herder groups in the NW. These herders groups, such as Jats and Rors, are a bit of a surprise. They don’t occupy a high place in the traditional caste system. But they did not mix with the AASI as much. It is hypothesized they lived on the NW fringes of S Asia and later migrated deeper into S Asia, probably also searching for greener pastures. Depending on the subgroup, their Steppe ancestry can average as high as 35%.

      But as you can see, the majority of S Asian DNA is a combination of AASI+ Iranic Mesolithic HG, the combination seen in the Indus Valley People. A minority component, the Steppe DNA, effectively ranging from 3-35%, depending on peoples, is however the most important for understanding the last migration into the subcontinent and the caste system.

      Dalits

      Dalits are designated as the outcastes, the untouchables, the lowest of the low. They have high AASI ancestry. They have jobs like cleaning toilets. They did not, until recently, receive some degree of equity, though still imperfect, to better fight for through rights through the exercise of political agency.

      Christians, Muslims, Sikhs

      All these religions, in their texts, are against caste like systems. However, S Asians of caste who converted, wanted to keep their high caste privileges so they kept subtle markers, such as certain last names, to designate who converted from a high caste vs. low caste and discriminate that way.

      Surnames are mentioned in religious scriptures. Dalits do not want to change their surnames. They get tremendous affirmative action benefits for educational and professional opportunities. In fact, some upper and middle castes are shrewdly trying to change their surnames to get Dalit affirmative action benefits.

      Caste is not in official documents. The Indian Constitution OUTLAWED caste. Many intellectuals abhor it. But like all power structures lasting thousands of years, those in power don’t want to give it up. However, the current generation is changing and at a faster rate than those of the past. Progress is certainly being made and generally moving in the right direction. Of course hiccups, sometimes temporary episodes of even nasty ones, are present. And the Dalit people are still oppressed. But things are changing for the better.

      Why don’t Indians get rid of caste?

      Well, they are trying. Just like Americans are trying to get rid of racism. The caste system is fundamentally a religiously encoded feudal system that was racialized from its inception. It was reinforced by invaders, at times, as part of a divide and rule strategy, to more easily subjugate the Indian peoples.

      Also, there is a ton of politics surrounding caste. Unscrupulous politicians turn people of a different castes against each other, in order to get votes.

      Finally, upper caste people dominant all of the power spheres. Bollywood is an example. It is composed of upper caste people of the NW, fundamentally the most steppe populations. The Indian populations with the most ancient ancestry that is also shared with Europeans. Their looks are highly prized because of the legacy of the Steppe peoples, constant invaders from the West Asia (such as Mughals and Persians), and the British, who all happened to be lighter and more Caucasian peoples imposing themselves. Despite the fact that ONLY, the Steppe people, had a real DNA impact on the population, even among upper castes, because that component is most closely related to all the invading populations that came after it, this only further reinforced the phenotype air superiority surrounding, thus serving as a tool to further psychologically entrench and justify the caste system. Bollywood tends to love Steppe ancestry heavy people. The British reinforced a lot of racism with added layers, such as Martial Race Theory, where to combat other peoples of the subcontinent, they anointed the people of the NW, who also happen to be the most Steppe, the top of the racial hierarchy and the only ones most fit for military service. They also wanted to justify the Steppe Migration and assertion on top of the S Asian dominance hierarchy as justification for themselves to conquer and subjugate India because it was just history repeating it self, a history of a more dominant, part of the “natural order,” of a more Europid peoples, subjugating a darker native populace.

      Lower caste peoples have fought back more and more. Their heroes, include the likes of Ambedkar. The current head of the Indian Space Agency is a lower caste man. Mayawati, a dalit woman, is a famous former chief minister of the most populous Indian state.

      Phenotype

      Upper caste people tend to be lighter and more caucasoid in appearance; however, geography plays a HUGE role. Once again, I give the example of myself. I am a middle caste N Indian, but I genetically cluster with Brahmin S Indians, and some Shudra (peasant caste) people further to the NW. I am about 20% of this Steppe DNA. Also, once again, all Indians have some Steppe DNA. So stuff like colored eyes randomly pops up in Indian children, even those of darker lower caste parents. However, of course, such phenomena, though uncommon for essentially all groups of S Asia, do occur more frequently among upper caste people.

      As we have left the age of Kings, the two castes that dominant the most are Vaishya (merchant) and Brahmin (priest) castes in the space of controlling wealth and the media. Because of martial race theory, the NW people dominant the military more than their population would suggest. Some of the shudra (peasant) peoples of varying ancestries, such as Patels of Gujarat, Reddies of Andhra Pradesh, Jatts of Haryana, or Yadavs of Bihar, have dominated a lot of politics, just to shear numbers. They reap the benefit of majoritarian unity in a democratic system. They also own a lot of land. Land is a premium in a place as overcrowded as India. Dalits still do the lower level jobs.

      India is highly corrupt and has a lot of nepotism. So that also hinders upward mobility. But once again, growth and liberalization, though ebbing and flowing with time, are noteworthy trends in the subcontinent over the last 25 years. This is lead to increased growth, more freedom, and more equity. There is still a long way to go and religious fundamentalism adds another layer of complexity to all of this. But that is a discussion for another day. What is important is that things are improving.

      And I will leave with the following statement

      “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” T. Dobzhansky

      “Nothing in South Makes Sense Except in Light of the Steppe to AASI Ratio”
      T. Warlock

      PS. If you want to learn more of the ancient ancestries of S Asia, please read David Reich’s book “Who we are and how we got here”

      Also, for scientific literature the following paper from Reich’s lab at Harvard (Narasimhan et al. 2018) is pretty good

      biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/292581v1

      1. Cool explanation. This cool explanation is the result of your having serbian admixture 😉

        But that even Muslims and Christians belong to caste is news to me. Reading some internet Pakistani surnames,i already assumed that they have some sort of ancestral supremacy complex connected to caste system. But it never happens in Bangladesh. And surprisingly all hindus i have ever met in my life were either from middle or upper caste(by surname)

      2. @theWarlock,

        Caste is in government ID. My father’s SSLC certificate had it and is an official document for proof of caste asked at my college admissions. My school asked everyone to bring their caste names to be added to the official records.

        I am not sure how you are interpreting the government records thing. My father had it in his official government job records as does my brother.

      3. “Dalits are designated as the outcastes, the untouchables, the lowest of the low. They have high AASI ancestry. They have jobs like cleaning toilets” —-> It seems that most people are not aware of the actual reality and work mostly on perception. AFAIK, ‘dalit’ is simply an alternative term for Scheduled castes (who are a cluster of more than 1,000 jaatis spread across india ) some of whom had NOTHING to do with “cleaning toilets” . There is a scheduled caste in Bihar who used to be village guardsmen and watchmen traditionally. Believe it or not, some of the “dalit” jaatis even had martial history like the Mahar jaati of Maharashtra (the jaati to which Dr BR Ambedkar belonged, his father and grandfather, both worked in the army) who used to be soldiers in the Maratha army during the Shivaji’s and the later Peshwas reign . At least in north india, the “cleaning toilets” stuff was mostly limited to a group of jaatis who call themselves “Valmikis” today (though you will find brahmins cleaning toilets today) .

        As for how the Scheduled castes were identified, well, they are simply a continuation of the “depressed class” category( with some additions of ex-criminal tribes/jaatis that were included post independence in the Scheduled caste category) that were identified during the british census. In 1917, Sir Henry Sharp, Educational Commissioner with the Government of India, prepared a list of the Depressed Classes, while pointing out some problems in the use of the term:

        ” The depressed classes form the unclean castes whose touch
        or even shadow is pollution. But a wider significance is often
        attached to the expression, so that it includes communities
        which though not absolutely outside the pale of caste, are back-
        ward and educationally poor and despised and also certain
        classes of Muhammadans. Some have interpreted it as simply
        educationally backward. The task of defining is made difficult
        by doubt as to where the lines should be drawn and the elastic differences of such classes as dwell on the borderland of respectability. Sometimes the whole community DECLARES ITSELF
        TO BE DEPRESSED WITH A VIEW TO REAPING SPECIAL CONCESSIONS of
        EDUCATION OR APPOINTMENT ” .

        It was later the Lothian committee which took up the job to “accurately” find the depressed classes . Different tests/parameters of “untouchability” were taken .
        One of the earliest such test said that that people living up to the following criteria should be considered Untouchables: “are denied access to the interior of ordinary Hindu
        temples” and “cause pollution, (a) by touch, (b) within a certain distance”

        The “tests” were then applied on the census results to find out the depressed classes but given the extreme diversity and heterogenity of the subcontinent , as expected, it was found that a depressed caste comprised both of “touchable” and “untouchable” members .

        For example , In the 1911 central province census, it was found that ~ 2,000,000 members of the “Chamar” jaati were “touchable” while ~4,000,000 members were “untouchable” .

        I think it was Dr B R Ambedkar later in his 1932 report (i might be wrong about the 1932 date, please correct me if i am ) who argued about the “notional” aspects of untouchability and thus , even the “touchable” members of a particular jaati were included in the depressed class. Later , some of the jaatis who were labelled as “criminal tribes” during the british rule ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Tribes_Act ) were also included in the Scheduled Castes with some additions later on( There are still jaatis who protest to be be included within the Scheduled castes today because of government “benefits” ) . Contrary to the popular prception, the “dalit” word is still unknown in the rustic areas of the cow belt . The “dalit” folks in these areas refer to themselves either by their jaati name or by the term “harijan” .

        I believe i have explained the Scheduled Caste/Dalit in nutshell.

        ——————–

        As for high AASI ancestry in the “dalits” , i thought some north indian SCs are mid-caste/baniya tier like Meghwals, Jatavs, Haryanvi Chamars(iirc, Haryanvi Chamars had around ~19% Steppe_MLBA_ancestry per qpADM estimate in Narasimhan’s paper)

    2. Rose,

      Varna and caste are different things. For example you can have Sudra varna with multiple castes in it ( like mangali (Barbers), chakali(washermen), kummari ( potters), golla (herders)). As you can see most of them are profession based. But they can also include castes that changed their profession overtime (Gowda) usually they are moving to farming.

      Most confusing thing is Brahmins and Vysya are caste names and also varna names. But, note that Vysya caste is not the representative of entire Vysya varna. Same with Brahmins. Although this group has consistent practices, not all Brahmins inter-marry. There are distinct endogamous groups(ie castes) even within this varna. Nambothri Brahmins, saraswat Brahmins, Tamil Brahmins ( within them Iyers and Iyengars) etc.

      There are four varnas (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysya and Sudra) and people outside this system (outcastes). There are many castes, ranging in hundreds at least. Some castes are common across ethno-linguistic divisions but some are pretty much geographically restricted. Most notably Brahmins are the common ones across all parts.

      Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vysyas are “twice-born” and have special marker to distinguish from Sudras and outcasts. But vast majority of population is sudras.

      Given multiple castes within Sudra, there is a caste hierarchy partly based on profession, class and wealth. For example, Reddys and Naidu castes were rulers of principalities in south, and hold lot of wealth and political power. But they are technically sudra as they don’t follow “twice-born” ceremonies. These are “forward castes”. You have middle castes with respectable professions like merchants, farmers. People with poor professions or deal with dirty things are usually “backward castes”(e.g. cobblers dealing with leather products, Palm-toddy makers dealing with alcohol products, butchers).

      People who are outcasts also have castes like Mala, Madiga, Yanidi, Erukula etc. They deal with corpses, clean up of human feces, trapping rats and rodents etc. These are called “scheduled castes” or lumped under “Dalits” or older term “Harijans”. Under the name of cleanliness, historically these people were treated very poorly.

      Indian government has affirmative action for backward and scheduled castes. This means, your birth certificate or government id would carry your caste name so that you can claim your reservations. Particularly for admission to public institutions and jobs. But also some other incentives like food rations and health benefits.

      Indian Muslims and Christians also maintain caste in some parts of India. For example both Reddys and Mala converted
      to Christianity. But Reddys still use their caste name at the end of their given name. (E.g. Late Y.S. Rajasehkar Reddy).

      There is a tradition of having your caste name appended to your given name or sometimes your last name is a derivative of your caste profession. (E.g. Chaturvedi is supposedly someone who mastered four Vedas. Since only Brahmins studied Vedas, it is a fair inference that chaturvedi is a Brahmin name)

      On changing your caste name, it is not a big deal if there wasn’t a government affirmative action associated with it. But also, same caste can be high or low based on economics and geography. E.g, Gowdas are landowners and forward caste in Karnataka but they are lumped with Ediga and are backward caste in Andhra Pradesh. Same goes for Kapu and Balija. Their status depends on their location and wealth and usually forward and middle castes. Balija are traders but have agitated in the past to be categorized as backward caste.

      Caste lives because people are particular about who they marry. Even Malas don’t marry Madiga (have inter-caste rivalry) even though they are all treated as Dalits. The big deal is when forward and scheduled castes love marriages happen, then honour killings and power imbalance makes it worse for scheduled castes.

      Some of the power trips of class and wealth get coded under caste. Some of the caste issues get snickered under skin colour, intelligence and cleanliness. You can’t stop humans creating social categories. But you can’t “get rid of caste” if there are legal consequences related to affirmative action.

      Hope this helps.

        1. hey Rose. Sorry few errors that some have pointed out
          1. You can think of caste as subdivisions in the same varna. The above about competition between different castes within the dame varna and geographic consideration are also true.
          2. The untouchable castes are on ID cards sometimes to identify those eligible for affirmative action
          3. I said Sankrit is precursor to Indian languages. I meant N Indian languages aka non Dravidian ones.

      1. “People with poor professions or deal with dirty things are usually “backward castes”(e.g. cobblers dealing with leather products, Palm-toddy makers dealing with alcohol products, butchers)” —- @Violet, it’s quite funny that in north india, the jaatis which were associated with the above professions like cobblers(Some Sub-jaatis of Chamar ) , palm toddy makes dealing with alcohol products(Some Pasi groups, some jaatis in bengal) , butchers(Khatik) are categorized as “Scheduled Castes” 🙂 . Believe it or not , on some occasions, even “induction” of an outsider into some of the modern day scheduled castes by the jaati-panchayat has been been observed

        For example , one researcher(in 1950) noticed the process of how an outsider can become a member of ‘chamar’ jaati in Rajasthan. A ceremony was performed in which other caste members who intended to become a chamar had to sleep under the cot. In the presence of caste gathering, the five panchas of the Chamar caste sat on the cot and took bath one by one . After this ceremony was performed, the newcomer became a member of the Chamar caste.

    3. @ rose The ans. by Mr. Thewarlock remaining true to his name i.e. ‘war’ inserted his own interpretation & ideological beliefs into the answers he has provided to your questions.

      Instead of providing my response i would rather give you the discussions by imminent leftist Indian scholars engaging with this new data –

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N65Fj8WXKmA – Panel Discussion on ‘The Peoples of Early India: Origins, Migrations and Identities’

      https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/audio/arya-sanskrit-vedic-culture-is-not-the-foundation-source-of-indian-civilisation-tony-joseph – Tony Joseph discussing his interpretation of data in brief within 15 minutes.

  6. Dont know who uses words varna, shudra et all in India anymore. These are redundant categories. For all practical purpose caste is caste, and it can see manifest itself in multiple varnas as well.

    Trying to fit varnas within all this causes more confusion than its really is on ground. Everyone on the ground know where everybody else stands (caste wise), its actually more simpler than its made out in academic circles

    1. Agreed. Castes are endogamous social groups. Caste groupings have affinities with geography, social class and profession. There is a relation (in the mathematical sense) of greater/lower between any two castes. This relation is incomplete (i.e. two castes may be incommensurable) and not necessarily transitive, although it is often so. Some castes are obsessed with notions of purity and superiority and will not shrink from extreme violence against perceived transgressions. Often they are aided by the very institutions that are supposed to uphold the law (which essentially outlaws caste-based discrimination).

      Caste is gradually withering away in cities. This is part of the process of Indian nation-building in parallel with mixing across boundaries of language and religion.

      All the rest is speculation, especially much of the theorizing about history and origin of castes.

    2. @Saurav,

      The issue is shoe-horning “Manu smiriti” on to caste issues by people who don’t know caste system on ground. Saying that caste system has scriptural or religious support is laughable when scripture is concerned about varnas and most caste-related atrocities are intra-varna.

      Also, all this discussion on genetics and mapping of Steppe, Iran_HG & AASI proportions on to castes leads to the temptation to apply varna categories to castes. It is misleading to make off-the-cuff comments like “Reddys are kshatriyas” and proceed to apply interpretation on their steppe component.

  7. Hi Rose,

    I see that you’ve just passed Warlock’s initiation, who Invested pretty good effort in this. He is a member of my family and currently he is lifting 189 kg. Last week, he accomplished a great win for himself. If you are not brown (optionally you may or may not mention your background), welcome to our brown world. Let me just complement his story with a couple words. I am also glad that one girl finally joins the BP commentators.

    In my opinion, the central issue are the falsifications of the world history. It means that you must use your brain and not only read wiki. The main consequence of this here in SA is so-called Aryans issue, the migration to SA or not. It is pretty much resolved but there are some side effects. All agree that Aryans were R1a. None disagree that ancient Serbs (name for Slavics until 7c.AC) are only R1a group. I’ll leave you to make conclusion by yourself.

    The terminology is also corrupted and confusing. When you see – Indo-European (people and language), Steppe, East Europeans, ancient Slavics, etc. just replace this with Serbian speaking tribes and everything will go on the right place. W made one mistake. Latin language is a young language, many thousands of years younger than Serbian. Sanskrit is Aryans’ language and it is still about one third identical or very similar to Serbian.

    Apart from those who negate that Aryans ever existed, we have people who confess that IE people came but they were illiterate barbarians without any culture. The truth is opposite. Aryans had the oldest alphabet in the world, the oldest calendar (now is the year 7528.) and modern technology, including iron weapon. You may research Lepenski Vir and Vinca culture which are 10000 and 8000 years old. Aryans had merittory rank system identical to caste system in India. I don’t know if caste existed before Aryans arrival. Ancient Aryans mythology is very similar to Hindu. For eg. Priya is an ancient Serbian goddess (her later replicas are Greeks’ Aphrodite and Romans’ Venus). Aryans (who were hunters) got their name based on the god Arion who was the protector of hunters.

    Aryans also brought the Rig Veda to SA which maybe later updated. Aryans occupied the territory which changed over time, but it was spread out from Aral lake to Sri Lanka (Serendib=serpska dvipa). There are now almost 200 million of people in SA who have some Aryans descendancy. It is sad that Aryans are still a political issue in India. Those who negate their existence and culture, basically have no respect to own ancestors.

    Once again welcome aboard. I don’t like to give advices, at least unpaid (I am also a consultant) but I’ll give you one for free – stay away from cricket and do the real staff, so as your initiator warlock does. And, stay cool.

    1. 😮 sick burn bro. @Milan
      Just because I am busy these days or that I lift 185 lbs doesn’t make me NOT girl commentator of BP.

      I like to think I inspired other flowers 😀.

      1. Is this you, Rose? I cannot recognise you. Is Violet your second name or second face? Whatever is the case, if you are male, female or neutral, whatever you are the Benetton nuance of brown, it doesn’t matter. You are in the right place at the right time and you are welcome.

  8. @Arjun

    I dont know how much caste is really breaking down. There is hardly any decrease of caste associations, there is some flow but mostly around the edges like upper OBC-UCs or lower OBCs – SCs. Mostly its within intra caste groups like Brahmin-Rajput, Yadavs-Kurmis etc. You could be right, but i would need to see more evidence to really say something concrete.

    @Voilet

    I think that the importance of manu -smriti in ancient India is overblown , first by the left and Brits(because its one of the first scripture to be translated into English) and now the right is wasting time justifying it.

    2 of the first mega empires of the North were ruled by Shudras (Nanda and Mauryas) for 100 of years . In the South innumerable kingdom were ruled by Shudras who used to import Brahmins from North to confer to them Kshatriya status. The world was too complicated to neatly divide into Varna categories and impose Manu smriti rules on them. Just like India today, the laws are for the weak , the strong make their own laws. So obviously the dalits (and women ) got the raw deal, and its on them the manu smriti would have really applied.

    Whether caste was spiritually ordained or not ( its a futile discussion) , it became a part of Hindus, and thats what really matters. For the outsider trying to explain caste is not Varna and all , sounds like a justification of caste , and makes us sound defensive. Rather than just accepting and trying to fix the problem, rather than explaining the nitty gritty of Hinduism, (which hardly anyone is interested about)

    My 2 cents.

    1. @Saurav,

      Caste system “is”. It is better to understand it correctly to modify it rather than conflate with genetic basis and racism or religion.

      It is useful to point out that categorization is imprecise. People can draw whatever inference from that as they like.

      You seem to think caste is just a Hindu issue while I think it as an Indian cultural and identity issue. Otherwise, I don’t see the point of Christians carrying around their caste names or Sikhs claiming to be Jats or Jain Vanias.

    2. ” So obviously the dalits (and women ) got the raw deal, and its on them the manu smriti would have really applied. ” — @Sourav, If manu smriti would have been applied on women, why were a lot of widows burning themselves on pyre after their husbands deaths ?AFAIK, the kulluka Bhatt commentry on MS ( the one which is famous) doesn’t talk of sati and talks about widow remarriage .

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