According to the varna system, there are four varnas of human

1) Brahman

2) Kshetriya

3) Vaisya

4) Sudra

A person if does not fall under any one of the four is Candala

Then is mleccha classification different from all the above or does a mleccha person falls into one of the five categories of human mentioned above?


3 Answers 3


No, Chandala is an outcaste varna born from a Pratiloma marriage of Brahmin woman and Shudra man and live within Aryavarta(India).

Examples of Anuloma and Pratiloma marriages?

Mahabharata 13: Anusasana Parva SECTION XLVIII

The Brahmana may take four wives, one from each of the four orders. In two of them (viz., the wife taken from his own order and that taken from the one next below), he takes birth himself (the children begotten upon them being regarded as invested with the same status as his own). Those sons, however, that are begotten by him on the two spouses that belong to the next two orders (viz., Vaisya and Sudra), are inferior, their status being determined not by that of their father but by that of their mothers. The son that is begotten by a Brahmana upon a Sudra wife is called Parasara, implying one born of a corpse, for the Sudra woman's body is as inauspicious as a corpse. He should serve the persons of his (father's) race. Indeed, it is not proper for him to give up the duty of service that has been laid down for him. Adopting all means in his power, he should uphold the burden of his family. Even if he happens to be elder in age, he should still dutifully serve the other children of his father who may be younger to him in years, and bestow upon them whatever he may succeed in earning. A Kshatriya may take three wives. In two of them (viz., the one taken from his own order and the other that is taken from the order immediately below), he takes birth himself (so that those children are invested with the status of his own order). His third wife being of the Sudra order is regarded as very inferior. The son that he begets upon her comes to be called as an Ugra. The Vaisya may take two spouses. In both of them (viz., the one taken from his own order, and the other from the lowest of the four pure orders), he takes birth himself (so that those children become invested with the status of his own order). The Sudra can take only one wife, viz., she that is taken from his own order. The son begotten by him upon her becomes a Sudra. A son that takes birth under circumstances other than those mentioned above, comes to be looked upon as a very inferior one If a person of a lower order begets a son upon a woman of a superior order, such a son is regarded as outside the pale of the four pure orders. Indeed, such a son becomes on object of censure with the four principal orders. If a Kshatriya begets a son upon a Brahmana woman, such a son, without being included in any of the four pure orders, comes to be regarded as a Suta The duties of a Suta are all connected with the reciting of eulogies and encomiums of kings and other great men. The son begotten by a Vaisya upon a woman of the Brahmana order comes to be regarded as a Vaidehaka. The duties assigned to him are the charge of bars and bolts for protecting the privacy of women of respectable households. Such sons have no cleansing rites laid down for them. If a Sudra man unites with a woman belonging to the foremost of the four orders i.e Brahmin woman, 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. These, O foremost of intelligent persons, are the offspring of intermixed orders. The son begotten by a Vaisya upon a Kshatriya woman becomes a Vandi or Magadha. The duties assigned to him are eloquent recitations of praise. The son begotten through transgression, by a Sudra upon a Kshatriya women, becomes a Nishada and the duties assigned to him have reference to the catching of fish. If a Sudra happens to have intercourse with a Vaisya woman, the son begotten upon her comes to be called Ayogava. The duty assigned to such a person are those of a Takshan (carpenter).

As an example of this it may be said that a Sudra begets upon a woman belonging to the most superior order a son that is outside the pale of the four orders (for such a son comes to be regarded as a Chandala who is much inferior). The son that is outside the pale of the four orders by uniting with women belonging to the four principal orders, begets offspring that are further degraded in point of status. From those outside the pale of the four orders and those again that are further outside that pale, children multiply in consequence of the union of persons with women of classes superior to their own. In this way, from persons of inferior status classes spring up, altogether fifteen in number, that are equally low or still lower in status. It is only from sexual union of women with persons who should not have such union with them that mixed classes spring up. Among the classes that are thus outside the pale of the four principal or pure orders, children are begotten upon women belonging to the class called Sairindhri by men of the class called Magadha. The occupation of such offspring is the adornment of the bodies of kinds and others. They are well-acquainted with the preparation of unguents, the making of wreaths, and the manufacture of articles used for the decoration of the person. Though free by the status that attaches to them by birth, they should yet lead a life of service. From the union of Magadhas of a certain class with women of the caste called Sairindhri, there springs up another caste called Ayogava. Their occupation consists in the making of nets (for catching fish and fowl and animals of the chase). Vaidehas, by uniting themselves with women of the Sairindhri caste, beget children called Maireyakas whose occupation consists in the manufacture of wines and spirits. From the Nishadas spring a caste called Madgura and another known by the name of Dasas whose occupation consists in plying boats. From the Chandala springs a race called Swapaka whose occupation consists in keeping guard over the dead. The women of the Magadhi caste, by union with these four castes of wicked dispositions produce four others who live by practising deceit. These are Mansa, Swadukara, Kshaudra, and Saugandha. From the Vaideha springs up a cruel and sinful caste that lives by practising deception. From the Nishadas again springs up the Madranabha caste whose members are seen to ride on cars drawn by asses. From the Chandalas springs up the caste called Pukkasa whose members are seen to eat the flesh of asses, horses and elephants. These cover themselves with the garments obtained by stripping human corpses. They are again seen to eat from broken earthenware. These three castes of very low status are born of women of the Ayogava caste (by fathers taken from different castes). The caste called Kshudra springs from the Vaidehaka. The caste called Andhra which takes up its residence in the outskirts of towns and cities, also springs up (from the Vaidehakas). Then again the Charmakara, uniting himself with a woman of Nishada caste, begets the class called Karavara. From the Chandala again springs up the caste known by the name of Pandusaupaka whose occupation consists in making baskets and other things with cleft bamboos. From the union of the Nishada with a woman of the Vaidehi caste springs one who is called by the name of Ahindaka. The Chandala begets upon a Saupaka woman, a son that does not differ from the Chandala in status or occupation. A Nishada woman, by union with a Chandala, brings forth a son who lives in the outskirts of villages and towns. Indeed, the members of such a caste live in crematoria and are regarded by the very lowest orders as incapable of being numbered among them.

Thus to these mixed castes spring up from improper and sinful union of fathers and mothers belonging to different castes. Whether they live in concealment or openly, they should be known by their occupations. The duties have been laid down in the scriptures for only the four principal orders. As regards the others the scriptures are entirely silent. Among all the orders, the members of those castes that have no duties assigned to them by the scriptures, need have no fears as to what they do (to earn their livelihood). Persons unaccustomed to the performance or for whom sacrifices have not been laid down, and who are deprived of the company and the instructions of the righteous whether numbered among the four principal orders or out of their pale, by uniting themselves with women of other castes, led not by considerations of righteousness but by uncontrolled lust, cause numerous mixed castes to come into existence whose occupations and abodes depend on the circumstances connected with the irregular unions to which they owe their origin.

Whether a man happens to be possessed of learning or not, lust and wrath are natural attributes of humanity in this world. Women, therefore, may always be seen to drag men into the wrong path. This natural disposition of women is such that man's contact with her is productive of misery to him. Hence, men possessed of wisdom do not suffer themselves to be excessively attached to women.'

Mlecchas are the races that sprung up from the war of Vashista-Vishwamitra over the Kamdhenu cow and live outside Aryavarta(outside India)

Mahabharata links the origin of Hunas with sage Vasishta. Viswamitra, a king in the Ikshwaku clan, attacked the cow of Vasishta. Then many armies emerged for the protection of that cow and they attacked the armies of Viswamitra. Cow symbolizes land, in ancient Indian scriptures. Thus this war was fought with the tribes allied with Vasishta for their own land. Other tribes that were mentioned along with the Hunas in this incident were Sakas, Yavanas, Savaras, Savaras, Paundras and Kiratas, and the barbarous tribes of Khasas, Chivukas, Pulindas, Chinas and numerous other Mlechchhas.

From the list it seems that it is a compiled list of tribes formerly unknown to the Vedic Kingdoms. The above story of Mahabharata differs somewhat from the Shavala cow story of Valmiki Ramayana. According to Valmiki Ramayana which is older than the Mahabharata, the list of the tribes connected with Vasishtha-Vishwamitra war over the possession of Shavala/Kamdhenu cow includes the Kambojas, Pahlavas, Yavanas, Shakas, Mlecchas, Haritas, Kiratas etc [Ramayana, Bala Kanda, 55.1-4]. Ramayana list being older is often taken more authentic of the two lists. Medieval Hindu literature, such as that of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, also uses the term to refer to those of larger groups of other religions, especially Muslims


Other than four (Brahman, Kshetriya, Vaisya and Sudra) varnas, there are mixed-cast (varnshankar) and outcast (mlechha). Their origin can be traced to

  • Offering meant for one god got mixed up with the one intended for another

    For example,

    offering meant for Indra got mixed up with the one intended for Brhaspati and Suta originated ~Padma Purana: Part 1: Chapter 1

  • The churning of left side of king Vena's body

    The sinless brahmanas distressed with the fear of anarchy, having killed him (vena), with a curse, forcibly churned his body. From that body, being churned, the Mlecha tribes, dark like collyrium, due to the (presence of) the mother's (Mrtyu's daughter) portion in the body were created. ~Padma Purana: Part 1: Chapter 8

    O king, when they could not dissuade Vena from his infatuation and pride, the angry great sages, forcibly seized him with rage, and churned the left thigh of his, who was trembling with anger. The magnanimous ones saw (there a being) that was possessed of ( = like) aheap of black coll yrium, that was very short and strange, that had a long face and deformed eyes, that was bright due to an armour , that had a protruded belly and broad ears, that was very much frightened and that was a gamester . They then said to him, "sit down". Hearing those words of theirs, he, being distressed with fear, sat down. His race was settled in mountains and forests. (They are) the Nisadas, the Kiratas, the Bhillas, the Nahalakas, the Bhramaras, the Pulindas and those that belong to the other Mleccha species. From that part (i.e. left thigh) all those sinful ones were produced. ~Padma Purana: Part 2: Chapter 28

  • The war of Vasishtha and Vishwamitra

    From the 'hums' of her mooing Kaamboja-s similar to sunshine are born, from her udder Pahlava-s wielding weaponry are born, from the area of her privates Yavana-s, likewise from her rectal area Shaka-s, and from her hair-roots Mleccha-s, Haariitaa-s along with Kirataka-s are issued forth. ~Valmiki Ramayana: Bala Kanda: Sarga 55

  • Anuloma and Pratiloma marriages

    Brahmana man + Sudra woman = Parasara

    Kshatriya man + Sudra woman = Ugra

    Kshatriya man + Brahmana woman = Suta

    Vaisya man + Brahmana woman = Vaidehaka

    Sudra man + Brahmana woman = Chandala

    Vaisya man + Kshatriya woman = Vandi or Magadha

    Sudra man + Kshatriya women = Nishada

    Sudra man + Vaisya woman = Ayogava

    and many more due to Anuloma and Pratiloma marriages between mixed cast

    ~Mahabharata: Anusasana Parva

The terms mixed-cast, out-cast, Chandala and mlechha are often used interchangeably. For example, Nishada is mixed cast but it is included in mlechha in above Padma Purana list and Chandala is mixed caste but often referred as an out cast. Yavanas are believed to be Kshatriyas earlier but later stopped following Vedic civilization so came to be known as mlechha-yavnas. So, key point is mlechhas are one not following vedic civilization either from beginning (e.g. foreigners) or stopped following (like yavnas or more level of Anuloma/Pratiloma marriages between mixed casts). Mixed casts are the one after just one level of Anuloma/Pratiloma marriages.


In the Sukra Niti (Sukracharya's system of morals), Sukracharya mentioned five separate categories: Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudra and Mlechchhas. Thus Mlechchhas are separate from the other four categories. (References are to lines, not to Slokas)

The Brahmana is so called because of his virtues, e.g., he is habitually a worshipper of the gods with knowledge, practices and prayers, and he is peaceful, restrained and kind. - 1.79-80

The man who can protect men, who is valorous, restrained and powerful, and who is the punisher of the wicked is called Kshatriya. - 1.81-82

Those who are experts in sales and purchases, who ever live by commerce, who are tenders of cattle and who cultivate lands are called Vaisyas in this world. - 1.83-84

Those man of the lower order who are servants and followers of the twice-born, who are bold, peaceful and have mastered their senses, and who are drivers of the plough, drawers of wood and grass are called Sudras. - 1.85-86

Those who have deserted practising their own duties, who are unkind and troublesome to others, and who are very excitable, envious and foolish are Mlechchhas. - 1.87-88


  • Sukra-Niti-Sara translated by Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar. Series - The Sacred Books of the Hindus. Vol. XIII (Part I and II), 1913.

By the way, Chandala is someone who is born from a Pratiloma marriage of a Brahmin woman and a Shudra man.

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