the meaning of varNa

Ferenc Ruzsa f_ruzsa at ISIS.ELTE.HU
Mon May 24 14:42:36 UTC 1999

Dear Vishal,

> The word Varna has indeed been used for 'skin color' ... However, that
> still does not prove that when used for caste, it denotes 'skin color'.
Sure, it does not prove - it just makes it possible. And at places I have a
feeling that the most natural way of understanding varNa is that it at least
includes a hint at skin colour. E.g. in RV. II. 12, 4 b:
[i'ndro] dA'saM va'rNaM a'dharaM gu'hA'kaH
[Indra] made the varNa of the dAsas lower and hidden
the hidden varNa seems to suggest a 'not apparent' (not bright, i.e. dark)

Yours, Ferenc

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