Racial Origin of Caste (Re: varna and jati)

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 23 20:54:29 UTC 1999

This post is another example of what happens when we ignore the traditional
etymologies given in the Vedangas and resort to flights of fancy. The
Nirukta clearly states: "Varna vrnoteh" meaning that 'Varna' is that which
is 'acquired'. The implication is clear.

In fact, a verse in the Mahabharata reads (please do not ask me to search
for the reference-I usually quote from memory, but I will be grateful if any
list member can locate it):
"We donot see any rule that the Brahmanas are white, the Kshatriyas are red,
the Vaishyas are yellow and the Shudras are black."
If we really see the above association of colors with the 4 Varnas, it will
be clear why these colors have been associated with the 4 respective castes.

White stands for Purity, Holiness, Simplcity, Straight
forwardness--Hallmarks of true Brahmins
Red stands for Passion, Anger, Violence etc: Qualities depicted by
Yellow is remniscient of Gold, a symbol of Wealth--with clear Vaishya
Black stands for Sorrow, ignorance, delusion: A hallmark of persons who are
bereft of understanding and knowledge i.e. the Shudras.

So there is nothing racist about this color coding. Another parallel example
is afforded by the characterization of the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas by the
colors White, red and black. The reasons for using these 3 colors alone
should be clear (ask me if you do not understand).

Regarding the 'Dark Dasyus', I refer you to the book "Kya Vedon mein Aryon
and Dasyuoun key paraspar yuddhon ka varnan hai?" by Pt. Ramagopal Shastri.
In this text of more than a 100 pages, the learned author has examined each
context in the Rigveda where the words Dasyu, Shambhar, Arya etc, occur and
has conclusively shown with the help of the context of these verses, the
Brahmanas and Vedangas that if at all there are 1 or 2 places where the
Dasyus must be taken as 'Dark Men', the meaning implied is metaphorical and
not literal.

Even amongst the 'Dark, Dravidian Malyalis' who perform the Kathakali, a
black mask denotes evil (this was told to me by none other than the famous
dancer Sonal Mansingh), And white Christians themselves denote the Angel of
death, Satan etc. in black robes. The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament
says "I am dark BUT comely". Are all these 'Racial"??? As a child, I
remember that I made a Christmas Card for a Christian teacher and not
knowing the signficance of the black color in Christianity, I drew a white
Angel holding a Black Cross. The teacher lovingly explained to me why it was
not proper to draw a Black cross on the Christmas Card.



----Original Message Follows----
From: Samar Abbas <abbas at IOPB.RES.IN>
Subject: Racial Origin of Caste (Re: varna and jati)
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 08:10:35 +0530

On Sat, 22 May 1999, Yaroslav V. Vassilkov wrote:
 > 'VarNa' never meant 'skin colour' or 'race' - such interpretation seems
 > to be a survival of XIX century racist or "colonial" ideas.

  Genetics has recently proven that the caste system of India is racial in
origin, with different castes representing different races :

- M. Bamshad et al, "mtDNA Variation in Caste Populations"
   Human Biology vol. 68 (1996) p.1

- ` p53 polymorphisms and haplotypes show distinct differences between
   major ethnic groups', A. Sjalander et al,
   Human Heredity (GE9) ( 1996 Jan-Feb ) 46 (1): 41-8.

Both papers show that the Sudroids are of African (and not Caucasoid)
stock, explaining the `black' colour associated with them in Vedic texts.
IndoPedia has a good page on this -

  `The Sudroid or Indian Negro Race'
  - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/1335/Anthro/sud_afr.html

Prof. Clyde A. Winters has given linguistic evidences of Indo-African
languages at (and has deciphered the Harappan script based on African

  - http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Bay/7051/dra2.htm (ekwesi)
  - http://homepages.luc.edu/~cwinter/wrharap.htm

  The `yellow' colour of Vaisyas may be due to darkening of Aryan skin, or
due to Mongoloid (`Naga') admixture; other surveys show considerable
Mongoloid racial admixture, esp. in East India.

Some more entirely political links, not very scholarly, but
shows that Sudras (Dravidians, Dalits and Adivasis) are becoming more
concious of their Black Heritage. Please do not visit if offended by
political `Indology' :

  `Africoid Populations In India', Runoko Rashidi
   - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/8192/india.html
   (Has a photo of a Dravidian girl. Anyone claim she is Aryan ?)

  `The African Presence in India' by Runoko Rashidi
   - http://saxakali.com/Saxakali-Publications/runoko19.htm
   - http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/india.html
   - http://pan.afrikan.net/history.notes/home.html
   (Rashidi recently visited India, and gave several speeches of solidarity
   with the Dalit Panthers, a movement modelled on the Black Panthers)

  `Revival Movement for Dravidian Religion', Dr. M. Deivanayagam
   & Dr. D. Devakala
   - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/1412/index.html
  (some nonsense, some sense)

  `Dalit : The Black Untouchables of India', V.T.Rajshekar,
   - http://www.bookmasters.com/clarity/b0001.htm


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