What would happen to a non-Dalit if a Dalit touched them in Ancient India?

  • 9
    Those were days when there was untouchability. Dalits used to be unclean and do works related to that in the past. So people are said not to touch them or not go near them. But now nothing is there like untouchability. untouchability based on caste is abolished. If it is there, then it has nothing to do with religion. Now everyone are clean and hygienic. So there is no need to follow untouchability. Nothing happens when you touch a clean and healthy human being let him be of any caste or religion. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 17:38
  • 4
    Yes , totally agree with @SreeCharan there is no such things happening in Indian societies. beside there is Prevention of Atrocities Act in India. So your claim "there are many instances where I hear that non-Dalits will not go near Dalits." is invalid and your question is not related to Hinduism Or Hindu Religion.PLS. EDIT YOUR QUESTION OR IT WILL GET DELETED as OFFTOPIC. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 17:42
  • 3
    @Armaan The aim of the site is to promote harmony by understanding great ancient values that can be sustained. Avoid discussions from the past of divisive historical customs that are no more relevant in present social context.
    – Narasimham
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 19:37
  • 3
    @Armaan Be serious in accepting answers. Else this question will be deleted as part of (your) hate propaganda.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 10:53
  • 1
    @SreeCharan, "Now everyone are clean and hygienic" - actually, nowdayas everyone maybe clean according to scientific sense, but not according to shastric sense, because very few follow rules of vizhuppu & theetu - should not touch bed after bathing, should not touch woman when she is on her periods, should wash hands, feet & mouth after using toilet etc. So.. nowadays it is OK to touch anyone, because everyone is unclean, not because everyone is clean.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


First of all, the word "Dalit" is not an ancient Sanskrit word. Like the word "Harijan", "Dalit" is a word used by so-called anti-caste "reformers" to attack certain aspects of the caste system they disagreed with. So Hindu scripture doesn't talk about the word "Dalit", but it does talk about Chandalas. Here is what Bhishma says about Chandalas in this chapter of the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata:

If a Sudra unites with a woman belonging to the foremost of the four orders, the son that is begotten is called a Chandala. Endued with a fierce disposition, he must live in the outskirts of cities and towns and the duty assigned to him is that of the public executioner. Such sons are always regarded as wretches of their race.

More detail is provided in this chapter of the Manu Smriti:

But the dwellings of Kandalas and Svapakas shall be outside the village, they must be made Apapatras, and their wealth (shall be) dogs and donkeys. Their dress (shall be) the garments of the dead, (they shall eat) their food from broken dishes, black iron (shall be) their ornaments, and they must always wander from place to place. A man who fulfils a religious duty, shall not seek intercourse with them; their transactions (shall be) among themselves, and their marriages with their equals. Their food shall be given to them by others (than an Aryan giver) in a broken dish; at night they shall not walk about in villages and in towns. By day they may go about for the purpose of their work, distinguished by marks at the king's command, and they shall carry out the corpses (of persons) who have no relatives; that is a settled rule. By the king's order they shall always execute the criminals, in accordance with the law, and they shall take for themselves the clothes, the beds, and the ornaments of (such) criminals.

And here is what Vyasa's father Parashara says in this chapter of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata:

The man of intelligence would never do an act that is sinful in character even if it leads to the greatest advantage, just as a person that is pure would never touch a Chandala.

Now this may harsh treatment of Chandalas may seem unjustified on the surface, but it's completely justified once you take reincarnation into account. The Chandala did heinous acts in past births to deserve to be born as a Chandala; here is what this chapter of the Manu Smriti says:

The slayer of a Brahmana enters the womb of a dog, a pig, an ass, a camel, a cow, a goat, a sheep, a deer, a bird, a Kandala, and a Pukkasa.

This chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad says much the same thing:

Those whose conduct has been good, will quickly attain some good birth, the birth of a Brâhmana, or a Kshatriya, or a Vaisya. But those whose conduct has been evil, will quickly attain an evil birth, the birth of a dog, or a hog, or a Chandâla.

In any case, the situation of a Chandala is not without hope; here is what Krishna says in chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita:

O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers] – can attain the supreme destination.

So I encourage everyone, Chandala and Dvija alike, to perform Sharanagati.

  • 3
    "So I encourage everyone, Chandala and Dvija alike, to perform Sharanagati." Proselytizing.
    – user1195
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 1:45
  • 1
    @moonstar2001 He is just saying "I encourage" how is that proselytizing, any literate person would use his/her discretion to make his/her own decision whether to do sharanagati or not. In anycase Bhakti Yoga is the only path left if there is no Sharanagati, and to do Bhakti yoga you need to meditate on Bramha Vidyas which is subject to qualification (dwija and upavitas only can meditate). So for people who do not qualify for Bhakti Yoga Sharanagati is the best/only possible way.
    – Yogi
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 10:51
  • 1
    This conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 15:07
  • Sir one honest doubt please help. I heard few Agamas prohibit Chandalas from Panchasamskara. Is it true??? But there wont be any initiation mantra for them??Ramanujacharya himself initaited many Pariahs and welcomed them inside temples right?? Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 10:32
  • @KeshavSrinivasan true, but I also heard Chandalas who are pious and good-hearted are fit to be worshipped by Brahminas even. Also is this state permeant, because Tirtha-Yantra Parva mentions purification rights for mixed castes?
    – Haridasa
    Commented Jan 12 at 13:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .