From Varna to Caste (II)- Endogamy

9 10 2007

N.B:- The accompanying table is a pain, because wordpress(free) does not support custom CSS. But we will put it as a picture for clarity.

(This) isolation among the classes is the work of Brahmanism. The principal steps taken by it was to abrogate the system of intermarriage and interdining that was prevalent among the four Varnas in olden times. This has already been discussed in an earlier section of this chapter. There is however one part of the story that remains to be told. I have said the Varna system had nothing to do with marriage. That males and females belonging to the different Varnas could marry and did marry. Law did not come in the way of inter-varna marriage. Social morality was not opposed to such marriages. Savarna marriage was neither required by law nor demanded by Society. All marriages between different Varnas irrespective of the question whether the bride was of a higher Varna than the bride-groom or whether the bride-groom was of the higher Varna and the bride of the lower Varna were valid. Indeed as Prof. Kane says the distinction between Anuloma and Pratiloma marriage was quite unknown and even the terms Anuloma and Pratiloma were not in existence. They are the creation of Brahmanism. Brahmanism put a stop to Pratiloma marriages i.e. marriages between women of a higher Varna and men of lower Varna. That was a step in the direction of closing the connection between the Varnas and creating in them an exclusive and anti-social spirit regarding one another. But while the inter-connecting gate of the Pratiloma marriage was closed the inter-connecting gate of Anuloma marriage had remained open. That was not closed. As pointed out in the section on graded inequality Anuloma marriage i.e. marriage between a male of the higher Varna and the female of the lower Varna was allowed by Brahmanism to continue. The gate of Anuloma marriage was not very respectable and was a one way gate only. still it was an interconnecting gate by which it was possible to prevent a complete isolation of the Varnas. But even here Brahmanism played what cannot but be called a dirty trick. To show how dirty the trick was it is necessary first to state the rules which prevailed for determining the status of the child. Under the rule existing from very ancient times the status of the child was determined by the Varna of the father. The Varna of the mother was quite unimportant. I he following illustrations will place the point beyond doubt:

Father’s Varna of Mother’s Varna of Child’s Varna Name father Name mother name child

1. Shantanu Kshatriya Ganga Shudra Bhishma Kshatriya


2. Shantanu Kshatriya Matsyagandha Shudra Vichitra Virya Kshatriya


3. Parashar Brahmin Matsyagandha Shudra Krishna- Brahmin

(Fisher) Dwaipayana

4. Vishwamitra Kshtriya Menaka (Apsara) Shakuntala Kshatriya

5. Yayati Kshatriya Devayani Brahmin Yadu Kshatriya

6. Yayati Kshatriya Sharmishta Asuri Druhya Kshatriya


7. Jaratkaru Brahmin Jaratkari Nag. Asita Brahmin


The rule was known as the rule of Pitra Savarnya. It would he interesting to consider the effect of this rule of Pitra Savarnya on the Anuloma and Pratiloma systems of marriage.

The effect on Pratiloma marriage would be that the children of mothers of the higher Varnas would be dragged down to the level of the lower Varnas represented by their fathers. Its effect on Anuloma marriage would be just the contrary. The children of mothers of the lower Varnas would be raised up and absorbed in the higher Varnas of their fathers.

Manu stopped Pratiloma marriages and thereby prevented the higher from being dragged to the status of the lower. However regrettable, not much damage was done by it so long as the Anuloma marriage and the rule of Pitra Savarnya continued in operation. The two together formed a very useful system. The Anuloma marriage maintained the inter-connection and the Pitra Savarnya rule made the higher classes quite composite in their make up. For they could not but help to he drawn from mothers of different Varnas. Brahmanism did not want to keep this gate of intercommunication between the Varnas open. It was bent on closing it. But it did it in a manner which is disreputable.

The straight and honourable way was to stop Anuloma marriage. But Brahmanism did not do that. It allowed the system of Anuloma marriage to continue. What it did was to alter the rule of determining the status of the child. It replaced the rule of Pitra Savarnya by the rule of Matra Savarnya by which the status of the child came to be determined by the status of the mother. By this change marriage ceased to be that means of intersocial communication which it principally is. It relieved men of the higher Varna from the responsibility to their children simply because they were born of a mother of lower Varna. It made Anuloma marriage mere matter of sex. a humiliation and insult to the lower Varnas and a privilege to the higher classes to lawfully commit prostitution with women of the lower classes. And from a larger social point of view it brought the complete isolation among the Varnas which has been the bane of Hindu Society.

CHAPTER-7 The Triumph of Brahmanism : Regicide or the birth of Counter-Revolution, part-III. Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India, Volume-III. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches




One response

14 01 2011
Sachet Shamkuvar

Apart from the and legal, literary… and scientific endowment, scholarly level of Dr B R Ambedkar is evident from His original efforts. In applause in admiration, one is also sympathetic to the workload needed of Him. Here, He is forced to take on the mantle of a Historian by deciphering sanskrit verses. Not that He performs any of the hundred roles He was required to play in His crusades against ignorance, supression & casteism with any dilution. Whatever be the field, He proves to be the best brain, even among the leading lights, this era or that. My salute to the greatest son India ever had.

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