Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Varna at Wikipedia (Caste) or at Kamat's Potpourri.

VARNA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'Class or caste.' The Chaturvarna, or four castes, as found established in the code of Manu, are-

1. Brahman. The sacerdotal and learned castes, the members of which may be, but are not necessarily priests.

2. Kshatriya. The regal and warrior caste.

3. Vaisya. Trading and agricultural caste.

4. Sudra. Servile caste, whose duty is to serve the other three.

The first three castes were called dwija, "twice born or regenerate," from their being entitled to investiture with the sacred thread which effects a second birth. The Brahmans maintained that their caste alone remains, that the other three have been lost or degraded, and it is generally believed that there are no pure Kshatriyas or Vaisyas now existing. The numerous castes which have sprung up from the intercourse of people of different castes or from other causes are called Varnasankara, 'mixed castes.'

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM