Monday, 23 January 2017

Caste and Jati - Sunny Narang

(via Sunny Narang )
I in all my years of traveling , engaging , working in rural North India came across a phrase frequently " Har Barah Kos mein Paani aur Boli badalti Hai" . ( Every 12 Kos the quality and nature of water changes as well as the dialect/language) .
The kos is an ancient unit of distance that has been in use in the Indian subcontinent for over three thousand years; evidence exists from Vedic times to the Mughal period, and even now elderly people in rural areas refer to distances from nearby areas in kos.
A kos can vary from 1.125- 2.25 miles or 1.8-3.62 kms . Along India's old highways, particularly the Grand Trunk Road, one still finds Kos Minar, or mile markers, erected at distances of a little over two miles.
So about every 20-40 kms the dialect changes as well as the cuisine as "water" means flavours of the most basic ingredient in cooking !
1652 is the number of "mother tongues" recognized by the 1961 census !
A new study in 2013 , the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, says that the official number, 122, is far lower than the 780 that it counted and another 100 that its authors suspect exist. The 35,000-page survey is being released in 50 volumes.
Like all data on anything in India , it is contested , as there is just too much to absorb.
I have my own theory on the Infinite Rasas of India .
And it has at least 6 layers . And more are being added with last few centuries of Western engagement raising the complexity bar .
These 6 are traditional layers.
Jati , Sampradaya , Boli , Jal-Paan , Shilpa changes in India every little distance , and in fact even Kaal Rahasya or time-secrets , as different time zones exist simultaneously .
(Caste , Religious/Spiritual Sect , Dialect/Language, Water/Food, Craft/Artisanship , Time Phases )
India is another parallel universe and no documenter , researcher can get it without drowning in faith and flavours , sounds and swadeshi-samaj .
Everyone talks about castes and tribes , but no one really understands till date how exactly Varna and Jati intersect , how across every region of the Indic Civilization , across every religious sect that has emerged on this land , or come from outside , such social differentiation exists.
How was it created through thousands of years and how it sustained , how new Jatis were created and old one destroyed , how many resurfaced in newer forms and how different ones combined for more social, political and economic power.
For me personally , Jati remains the deepest enigma and mystery that defies every single theory ancient or present , for it's like a tropical forest ecology , thousands of creepers , shrubs , trees , herbs, grasses and filled with unique species .
You can see one here , one there but the incredibly complex interactions and their continuous renegotiation and restructuring among all of them is beyond the capability of any social theorist .
You cannot even begin understanding India without understanding Jati , the right word for which is an endogamous community , not caste . Endogamous meaning that they marry within the community.
There were multiple sub-Jatis and in many there still are, in what is considered in popular imagination as Yadav , Vaishya , Brahmin , Kshatriya along with hundreds of sub-jatis depending on the occupational or knowledge specialisations or regional variations or sectarian beliefs among artisans and skill based service communities.

Mohammad Chappalwala There is nothing special about india this has to be true for all of the world
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Sunny Narang How many countries are there with 900 dialects/languages , 1000's of distinct communities , 22 national languages , foundation of many world religions , and much much more in pluralism and cultural diversity ?

Sunny Narang The only comparative regions are ASEAN , EU and what was USSR at one time . Modern Indian State for me is an accident of history that is like EU with a common currency and army . EU will have to move towards this model for survival , ASEAN is far way off , USSR was demolished by West and the Centralized Communist Model collapsed .
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