Was this many classification were there in ancient India .I believe there were only 4 classification of people in Purana.

Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra

Why we have this many caste classification and very different caste in every state.

How , Why and when this happened ?


1 Answer 1


It was Risley, the commissioner of the 1901 census of India who introduced so many castes. It was the game-plan of British as part of their divide-and-rule policy:

“Risley wrote that he wanted his 'scientific' research to 'detach considerable masses of 'non-Aryans' from the general body of Hindus'. He adopted the popular Race Science measurement methods used by French experts, according to which physical traits, such as the size of the nose, were a more reliable measure than skin color. Risley was an enthusiastic champion of the newly fashionable science called anthropometry, which measured various parts of the head to characterize different peoples. He used his measurements of people in India to conclude that there was a remarkable correspondence between two kinds of data, namely, (i) the 'gradations of type' as brought out by certain indices of head measurements, and (ii) the 'gradations of social preference'. This, he wrote, 'enables us to conclude that the community of races, and not, as has frequently been argued, the community of function, is the real determining principle . . . of the caste system'. His 1891 ethnographic study of Bengal became the model for similar studies across India. His program measured Bengali heads and noses with calipers in order to establish hierarchies based on physical body dimensions.” “Based on Risley's research, Indians were classified into seven major races located on a linear scale, with Aryans and Dravidians as the two opposite poles. He also organized 'social types' into seven groups. To protect himself, he wrote numerous disclaimers against blatant racism, and against taking things too far. Yet that was precisely what he did and wanted others to do. He claimed that according to his data, 'the correspondence between the two sets of groupings', namely, the seven races and the seven social types, was sufficiently close. He thereby concluded that Indian tribes had turned into castes. He described the various tribal types in the order of their primitiveness, positioning the Dravidians as the lowest, assigning manual labor as their 'birthright', along with human sacrifices to a goddess.16 Those tribes that had developed professional specialization became castes, while those that had remained in a limited geographic territory were still classified as tribes.”

“As the commissioner of the 1901 census of India, Risley wrote the section on caste, which was published in the highly influential Imperial Gazetteer of India, and became the template for academicians and colonial administrators to do their studies. He decided that Indians consisted of 2,378 main castes and tribes (with sub-castes), and 43 races. To implement his hierarchy of castes, he decided not to list them in alphabetical order in the census forms, but rather in order of what he considered 'social preference' based on his evaluation of 'native public opinion'. Thus, a hierarchy was constructed and made official. The bewildering array of castes he listed, from which each person was required to choose when filling out official government forms, ran into so many pages that it 'gives so much trouble to the enumerating and testing staff and to the central offices which compile the results.” “Risley translated the dharma of various jatis as 'race sentiments', and made it his ambition to scientifically prove that a comparatively pure 'Aryan type' existed in North India. His obsession with noses caught on with other colonial administrators. For example, noses of Indians became the subject of scientific inquiry for Edgar Thurston, author of the voluminous Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909). Thurston even used his 'Lovibond Tintometer' (originally an instrument for quality-testing in breweries) to measure the racial features of Indian villagers.”

The above are excerpts from a book 'Breaking India' by Rajiv Malhotra.

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