Who was the first śūdra (or the śūdra-couple) to be born?

Likewise, who was the first brāhmaṇa, the first kṣatriya and vaiśya to be born?

Some might argue, the first śūdra could not have been born because that would make his/her parents also śūdra and then they would become the first śūdras. So we end up with an infinite regress. To avoid this problem, assume the first śūdra (or the śūdra-couple) just appeared on Earth and were not borne of a womb, then the question becomes: Who was the first śūdra (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, etc.) to appear on Earth?

Note: This question assumes the caste-system to be birth-based, so I'm not looking for answers/comments that argue that varṇa is guṇa-based or varṇa is independent of birth.

  • Who as in by name?
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:47
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    Yes, by name. Imagine a śūdra drawing his genealogy/ancestry chart, who's the first person on this chart? Jan 10, 2019 at 2:08
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    I don't even think the scripture records such a fact.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 10, 2019 at 2:38
  • your question also assumes that whatever is the birth-based varna, that remains the same throughout his life. It is possible to downgrade very easily i.e lose Brahmana-tvam. That's why we repeatedly say 'birth' is necessary but not sufficient, guna & karma are also necessary (for 99.99% of cases, rare exceptions of upgrading varna by tapa/guna/karma do exist). So, a brahmana (or kshatryia/vaishya) who fell down from his path and became Sudra, may have been the first Sudra and then sired the first 'birth-Sudra', starting off the chain. You need not assume that they were not born of a womb.
    – ram
    Jan 10, 2019 at 5:49
  • @ram The only assumption I'm making is that the first few people in each varṇa are born without any intermixing/loss of castes (they just appeared). But if you think the first śūdra was not born but a brāhmaṇa became one because he lost his caste, that's a valid answer if you can find a source. Then the question becomes: Who is the first of the brāhmaṇas and who was the first that became a śūdra? Jan 10, 2019 at 21:19

2 Answers 2


The first Shudras were created in the beginning of Treta yuga based on their quality of Tamas.

The Vayu Purana says:

"The Váyu goes farther than this, and states that the castes were now first divided according to their occupations; having, indeed, previously stated that there was no such distinction in the Krita age: 'Brahmá now appointed those who were robust and violent to be Kshetriyas, to protect the rest; those who were pure and pious he made Brahmans; those who were of less power, but industrious, and addicted to cultivate the ground, he made Vaisyas; whilst the feeble and poor of spirit were constituted Śúdras: and he assigned them their several occupations, to prevent that interference with one another which had occurred as long as they recognised no duties peculiar to castes."

So, there was no caste division in Krta Yuga because everyone was pure, and then by the beginning of Treta yuga, humans underwent changes and started exhibiting different tendencies, so Brahma divided humanity based on their inherent guna.

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    Can you also add the link to the source from which you're quoting? "so Brahma divided humanity based on their inherent guna" - so suddenly a group of people all became śūdras? How big was this group? And the rest (brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, etc.) suddenly started wearing yajñopavītas and came to be identified as dvijas? Was each of the śūdra told in person by Brahma that he/she was a śūdra? Jan 10, 2019 at 2:20
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    Manu Smriti the Smriti to be particularly applicable in Krita clearly talks about caste system.. so what's up? @Ikshvaku
    – Rickross
    Jan 10, 2019 at 6:38
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    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru Vedas themselves were composed in Treta yuga. This is said in the Smritis themselves. In Krta yuga there was only one Veda, the holy pranava. Then in treta yuga, the pranava manifested into shabda-rupa, the Vedas. Then at the end of dwapara yuga, Vyasa divided the one Veda into four parts: rk, yajus, sAman, and atharva (which has all the other 3).
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 14, 2021 at 18:46
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    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru The AtharvAngirasa Veda is a Veda compiled by Atharvan and Angirasa, that consists of rks, samans, and yajus. Those are the 3 verse types. Atharva-angirasa are the names of two rishis. Saman is just a rk set into musical intonation. Yajus is prose.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 14, 2021 at 18:47
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    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru "Sir then why do we say Vedas are Eternal?" - Mimamsakas and Vedantins think that the Vedic sentences are literally eternal. I think that is absurd. The Vedas themselves say they were created by Rishis based on their perception of Brahman, plus that is the more rational conclusion. So, any scripture that says "eternal Veda" means that some text called "Vedas" is created every kalpa by Rishis, or that the vedic knowledge is eternal.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 15, 2021 at 15:08

There is one origin story of Shudras attributed to Vishvakarma. This will at least give an origin story to the artisans among Shudras, though not to others like cowherds, boatsmen, etc.

There is one story of Vishwakarma and Ghrtachi apsara cursing each other to be born on earth as a Brahmin and Shudra (cowherd caste) respectively. With their union these 9 sons were produced.

The story is found in the Brahmavaivarta Purana Brahma Khanda Chapter 10

Thereafter the lustful woman became pregnant with well-nourished foetus and she gave birth to nine beautiful sons at that very place. O Saunaka, Visvakarma, imparted adequate training in various arts to all his sons and they became intellects, competent valorous and wise. He then entrusting then the jobs of gardeners, blacksmiths, conch-makers, weavers, potters, carpenters, gold smiths and painters and also blessed them variously. He then dedicated all of them to the universe and discarding the human body, Visvakarma went to his heavenly abode.

Thereafter, there is a whole list of the origin of other Shudras. Since it is too lengthy, I’m citing a few examples only:

  1. Painter + unchaste Shudra woman = Balcony maker
  2. Balcony maker (m) + Potter (f) = home maker/ mason
  3. Potter (m) + mason (f) = oil crusher
  4. go on to describe other Varnasankaras

Other Shudras whose origin is not mentioned are (yes there is overlap):

O best of the Brahmanas, the cowherds, barbers, sweet meat sellers, the weavers, the black smiths, the gold smiths and the traders are known as sat-Sudras
-verses 17-18

The basic point of this answer is that for the craftsmen, Vishwakarma was their originator. They still revere him in many parts of India and call themselves the Vishwakarma caste.

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