varna and jati

Asha Naidu ashanaidu at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 25 19:35:11 UTC 1999

In some parts of Andhra Pradesh, members of the brahmin community are dark
in colour(i.e. dark complexioned in comparison to the usually fairer skin
colour common among Indian brahmins). In my community (kammas - a sudra
community) they are referred to as "nalla brahmalu"(black brahmins). I
believe they may be representative of ancient  incorporations and inclusions
of darker non-brahmins into the brahmin community. They are fully accepted
as Brahmins.  I believe that this suggests that the caste system may not
have always been inflexible. Perhaps other list memebrs from Andhra may
throw more light on the matter.

Interestingly, in the last century among some members of the Kamma community
in coastal Andhra Pradesh, anti - brahmin rebellion took the form of Kamma
men training as Hindu priests!! I am not sure how exactly they obtained this
training. After this training they officiated as priests known as "Kamma
Brahmalu" (Kamma Brahmins) at the births, marriages and deaths of those
kamma families which chose to use their services - not all kamma families
made this choice. A few people in my family had their weddings performed by
Kamma Brahmins! Nowadays there are hardly any Kamma Brahmins left as the
priestly profession is not lucrative.

I am acquainted with a number of Andhra Brahmin families, who out of
conviction educated (or paid for the western education of sudras - including
some people I know) sudras. Many such Brahmin families have fought against
casteism and set up schools and colleges that accept and educate all
applicants (including Muslims and Sudras) irrespective of caste.  For
example the Madapati Hanumantha Rao school in Hyderabad.

The point I am trying to make, is that the history of varna and jati may
have always been
complicated and the picture is constantly changing.

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