Varna and Jati

Yashwant Malaiya malaiya at CS.COLOSTATE.EDU
Wed Jan 5 18:49:45 UTC 2000

Kailash Srivastava asked:

>Under which varna does "Kayastha" fall?

I have studied this subject in some detail and can give
a detailed answer.

But a note on the question itself first.

The question presumes that the four varnas exist today as
described in Dharma-shastras (like by Manu).

Originally the four-varna concept could describe the classes
in the Indian society with a reasonable approximation. However
even then, quite a few communities did not fit any of the
four. They were classified into varna-sankaras, and the authors
struggled to come up with an explanation of the origin.

The four-varnas division gradually became meaningless. Some
scholars declared that the Kshatriyas and Vishyas have ceased
to exist. There is considerable disagreement among scholars
regarding what varna a community (jnyati=nyat) belongs to.

My view is that the four varnas have coalesced and thus each
person is at the same time a Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and


PS: I have seen an article in Encyclopedia Indica (published
in Bengali and Hindi in 30s) arguing that the Kayasthas have
been included in the varna-sankara list because they were
mostly Buddhist. It does seem to be correct because Kayasthas
have had a strong connection with Buddhism once.

Many of the modern Hindu leaders have been Kayasthas:

Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

not counting authors, scientists and politicians.

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