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By Susan Bayly

The phenomenon of caste has most likely aroused extra controversy than the other point of Indian existence. This quantity explores the emergence of principles and practices that gave upward push to the so-called "caste-society." utilizing a ancient and anthropological process, the writer frames her research within the context of India's financial and social order, examining caste as a contingent and variable reaction to adjustments in India's political panorama in the course of the colonial conquest. The book's wide-ranging research bargains essentially the most robust statements ever written on caste in South Asia.

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Extra info for Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age (The New Cambridge History of India)

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The emphasis here will be on the increasing rigidities of the so-called pollution barrier, by which is meant the formalisation of social barriers separating those of superior caste from the lowest or most unclean and inauspicious caste groups, in circumstances of growing con¯ict in both town and countryside, in the period before the First World War. Turning next to the power and resources of the twentieth-century Indian state, Chapters 6 and 7 focus on the electoral arena and the impact of modern political institutions on the experience of caste, ®rst in the late colonial era, and then in the period since Independence.

Gail Omvedt in particular has thus rejected older Marxist views of caste as mere `superstructure' or `false consciousness' in a world where the true realities of political economy were to be seen as those of class-based oppression. 29 Some of those who have argued in these terms have at least hinted at the idea that Dumont's picture of caste may therefore be an accurate if only partial re¯ection of Indian reality, not in the sense of being a timeless expression of age-old `traditional' values, but as a product of economic and social change in comparatively modern times.

Here, as in the Bhagavad Gita, the focus is on the concept of dharma. This key principle of `caste Hindu' thought is usually understood as the code of duty, religious law and right human conduct which de®nes the path to virtue and spiritual ful®lment for all humankind. In the Institutes of Manu, the source of this dharma is the will of the divine creator who gave each of the four human archetypes or varnas a distinct moral quality, and a calling to follow. 14 All wellbeing and merit, indeed the preservation of the entire created universe, depend upon this strati®ed ordering of castes.

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