Census of India . . .


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Changes in the original occupation may give rise to subdivisions of the caste which ultimately develop into entirely distinct castes. Thus among the large castes shown in the maps at the end of this chapter the Ahirs are by tradition herdsmen; the Brahmans priests; the Chamars and Muchis workers in leather; the Chuhras, Bhangis, and Doms scavengers; the Dosadhs village watchmen and messengers; the Goalas milkmen; the Kaibarttas and Kewats fishermen and cultivators; the Kayasths writers; the Koiri and Kachhi market gardeners; the Kumhars potters; the Pods fishermen; and the Teli and Till oil pressers and traders. But the proportion of a caste that actually follows the traditional occupation may vary greatly. It is shown in the Bengal Census Report that 80 per cent of the Ahirs in Bihar are engaged in agriculture; that of the Bengal Brahmans 17 and of the Bihar Brahmans only 8 per cent are engaged in religious functions; that only 8 per cent of the Chamars in Bihar live by working in leather, the remainder being cultivators or general laborers; that two-thirds of the Kayasths in Bengal are agriculturists, and that only 35 per cent of the Tells follow their traditional profession. . . . Changes of occupation in their turn, more especially among the lower castes, tend to bring about the formation of separate castes. The Sadgops of Bengal have within recent times taken to agriculture and broken away from the pastoral caste to which they originally belonged; the educated Kaibarttas and Pods are in course of separating themselves from their brethren who have not learnt English; the Madhunapit are barbers who became confectioners; the Chasadhobas washermen who took to agriculture. But perhaps the best illustration of the contagious influence of the fiction that differences of occupation imply a difference of blood is to be found in the list of Musalman castes enumerated by Mr. Gait in the Bengal Census Report. This motley company includes the Abdal of Northern and Eastern Bengal, who circumcise Mohammedan boys and castrate animals, while their women act as midwives; the Bhathiara or innkeepers of Bihar; the butchers (Chik and Kasai); the drummers (Nagarchi and Dafali), of whom the latter exorcise evil spirits and avert the evil eye by beating a drum (daf) and also officiate as priests at the marriages and fun erals of people who are too poor to pay the regular Kazi; the cotton carders (Dhunia or Nadaf) numbering 200,000 in Bengal; the barbers (Hajjam or Turk Naia); the Jolaha, weavers, cultivators, bookbinders, tailors, and dyers numbering nearly a quarter of a million in Bengal and nearly three millions in India; the oil pressers (Kalu); the greengrocers (Kunjra); the embroiderers (Patwa); and a number of minor groups. All of these bodies are castes of the standard Hindu type with governing committees (panchayats or matbars) of their own who organize strikes and see that no member of the caste engages in a degrading occupation, works for lower wages than his brethren, eats forbidden food, or marries a woman of another caste. Breaches of these and various other unwritten ordinances are visited in the last resort by the extreme penalty of excommunication. This means that no one will eat or smoke with the offender, visit at his house or marry his daughter, while in extreme cases he is deprived of the services of the barber and the washerman.1

Risley has pointed out also that whether the tradition of the four original castes is fact or fiction (and it is evidently a rationalization zation of an existing situation) it has become a classical pattern, and has stimulated groups and tribes to structuralize themselves on this basis and to invent fictional genealogies deriving them from superior ancestry. An aspiring caste may even employ a learned man to invent a legend relating its distinguished origin.

1Risleyn/an/an/an/an/an/a, , 521–522.


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Chicago: "Census of India . . .," Census of India . . . in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PCHXH8FUARKQRQA.

MLA: . "Census of India . . ." Census of India . . ., in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PCHXH8FUARKQRQA.

Harvard: , 'Census of India . . .' in Census of India . . .. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PCHXH8FUARKQRQA.