I am not an expert, just a person who reads all sorts of books – from philosophy, rereading of epics to mild pornography, periodicals and web pages. I am now reading “Ka” by Roberto Calasso. I am one of those who believe that Aryans did migrate to India at the end of the period of Indus civilization. For that matter if you believe the scientists that Homo sapiens were born to the first primeval mother in Africa then everybody is a migrant. Only dispute is who is the earlier migrant and who is later. For example earlier human migrants in Greece were followed by migrants from the Mesopotamia region. Similarly the first migrants to Taminadu were tribals (present STs) and then those who are loosely called Dravidians. Similarly Harappan population was the previous migrants to Indus valley and then the Aryans came. When the Aryans came I believe that there was no caste system. Perhaps in addition to temporarily settled colonies there were individual persons living isolated in the forest with minimum support by human beings. Food was from the forest. The abodes were simple hut like things made up of forest produce. So they had time not only to do the simple tribal rituals like Agni worship they had lot of time to speculate on intellectual matters like life, matter, death, God etc. These individuals, whom let us call tentatively “rishis” do not have any wants. They do not need defense and so no need of a king (more because they live in isolated spots) and so no need of carpentry and so no carpenter caste, no iron works so no iron smiths perhaps they even wore only “mara uri” (wooden cloth) and so no weavers etc. They might have come into contact with tribal societies in the area who left them alone because these rishis were not going to steal anything from them. So I believe there was no concept of castes during this period of Aryan migration. Even though there appears to be some mention of Chathur varna (Rig veda), at that stage the difference was more due to the quality of people and to some extent color of the skin. Perhaps this chatur varna concept itself might have been later inclusion because if you read rig veda it is only prayers to symbolization of nature like Agni, Varuna, Vayu and their leader as Indra. Perhaps they did not want to leave any remembrances of them, any stone image or any artifact even of gods they worshipped. Though they were polytheists there were not idolaters. As they burnt the dead bodies there are no funeral pots etc. The first stone artifact is only from the time of Buddha.
The concept of caste came much later when the Aryan colonies became more organized into rural and urban set ups and became more complex societies, then the ruling elite started thinking of concept of caste (of course some of those “rishis” might have contributed to this later concept). Perhaps after half a millennium of this concept it was Manu who codified and added his commentary and rules to the concept of caste. So if you want to trash anybody in early Aryan society you should trash Manu. He was such a clever person that what he codified became more and more complex and sustained for nearly 2000 years and still going strong. At this stage even Ambedkar’s seminal work “The Annihilation of Caste” did not have any effect; on the other hand the concept became more divisive.
If the concept of castes was codified by Manu who talks about only four castes how so many castes did come up. This is a question which even radicals should think about and try to find an answer. Is it because in the hierarchy of castes each small group of people tried to form into a caste or sub caste to claim superiority over other groups of the same caste? The Vadgalai Iyengars claim they are superior to Thengalai Iyengars because former follow Vedas in Sanskrit whereas later follow Divya Prapandam in Tamizh. I am told (I do not know how far it is true) there are hierarchy of Dalits also and some groups claim superiority to other Dalit groups. I have even heard one of Tamizh Dalit leaders saying that they were the kings of the country some time back.
These vague musings will continue.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s