Difference Between Jati and Varna

Jati vs Varna
 

Jati and Varna are two words that are very important while studying Indian social system. These are classifications of the traditional Indian society that confuse many people who are outsiders, especially westerners as they go for literal translation of these words. The western world is aware of the caste system that is prevalent in India, but they make the mistake of treating both Jati and Varna as the caste of an individual where the two terms are not synonymous. This article attempts to highlight the differences between Jati and Varna for the benefit of the readers.

Jati and Varna both play an important role in the life of a Hindu. In ancient India, society had a system of classification that was known as Varna vyavastha or system. This Varna system divided the society into 4 classes that were as follows.

• Brahmins who happened to be the priestly class

• Kshatriyas who happened to be the warrior class

• Vaishyas who happened to be the trader class

• Shudras who happened to be the servant or the laborer class

Varna

The word Varna, when translated into Hindi, literally translates into color. However, the Varna system had nothing to do with the color of the skin of an individual. In fact, the Varna system was devised to classify a person on the basis of his attributes or characteristics. However, the system got degenerated with the passage of time and developed into the much maligned caste system that is seen even today. This caste system meant that a person had no chances of upward mobility in the society, and he remained in the caste that he was born into.

The original Varna system was devised to have harmony and cooperation between people living in the society and people in different Varnas did not interfere in each other’s lives to compete. It was when the Varna of a person was decided on the basis of his birth rather than his qualities that it became rotten.

Jati

The ancient Varna system did not have much of significance in the social order in the society. If one was a Brahmin, it may have meant a lot to other Varnas, but inside his own Varna, he was just another individual with no identity. The need for identity within a single Varna led to the development of Jati system inside the Varna system. There was no Jati system in ancient India, and even the Chinese Scholar Hsuan Tsang has not mentioned anything about it in his writings. The literal translation of the word Jati gives us the word birth.

Jatis developed much later in India to reflect the trade or profession of a particular community. So, while Gandhi comes from Gandha which means smell, the community of Gandhis is the one that trades in perfumes. Dhobi community came from the word dhona which meant to wash, and thus Dhobis were people who washed other people’s clothes. Thus, a jati is a community engaged in a particular profession or trade. This system of classification continued in modern India till recently, and a person’s surname was enough to let others know all about his profession. However, with modern education system and no discrimination from the state, this caste system or the Jati system is on the decline.

What is the difference between Jati and Varna?

• The Jati was a subdivision of the communities in the Indian social order which was broadly divided into four Varnas.

• Varna is a much older system of classification than Jati.

• Jati helped in identification within one’s own Varna.

• Jati system of classification got degraded into the modern caste system.

  • Tanvi

    Varna has everything to do with colour. The word literally translates to colour. The Aryans (fair skinned) formed the upper 3 castes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The non-aryans, also known as Dasas (dark skinned) constituted the 4th caste : Shudhras. This caste was created in order to serve the upper three castes.

    • kingjohnthegreat

      Yes, Varna does mean “color,” but have you ever bothered to look up the “colors” of the Varna system? Of course you haven’t, because you are a typical ignoramus who has blindly swallowed the outdated propaganda taught about Hinduism.

      The “colors” of the Varna system were white, red, yellow, and black. I don’t see a lot of red and yellow-skinned people running around India, do you? The “colors” of Varna meant the colors of one’s GUNAS, or INHERENT VIRTUES. It had NOTHING to do with skin color. This ridiculous obsession with skin is a sickness unique to Europeans and no one else.

      • Shruti Pandey

        Ha ha ha..My friend , it takes guts to say Indians are not obsessed with skin color..Haven’t you heard of this phrase when a dark girl is born – ladki woh bhi kali ? Have you not noticed the preference for “fair” brides? Is it a coincidence that most (though not all) lower caste people are dark skinned?
        You may be right about gunas and virtues – but we are talking about a 3 thousand year history. What you said does not necessarily negate the concept of Aryans and native darks skinned people which might be in vogue at an earlier point in time.

        Have some humility before name calling others. May I know your credentials? Are you a historian , researcher or just a proud Hindu who is unable to stomach some of the not so nice origins of Hinduism?
        Also I would be interested in any references to the four colours you mentioned – I am guessing black represented the Shudras -right?

        • kingjohnthegreat

          Indians are NOW obsessed with skin color, after a thousand years of being ruled by light-skinned foreigners. But it was never a problem in ancient times, like it has become. Krishna, Draupadi, Rama, Shiva, etc. are all famously dark, and yet they are all so highly honored.

          Generally lower-caste people may be darker-skinned, but this is not at all uniform. There are millions of milk-white Dalits, and in the South, there are many incredibly dark Brahmins. Skin tone is hugely influenced by how much exposure to sunlight one receives. A dark baby can become much lighter if he/she spends a lifetime indoors, in a cool climate.

          Tanvi (above) was merely regurgitating the colonial propaganda about caste. I am not a historian, but I have done quite a bit of research about Hinduism, and it is plain as daylight that Varna has nothing at all to do with skin color. That was a simple misunderstanding of the whole concept by 19th and 20th century Europeans, who were obsessed at that time with skin color and the idea of an “Aryan race.” No serious scholar today actually believes that Varna/caste has anything to do with skin; it is a completely anachronistic idea.

          If you are interested in finding out more, I highly recommend reading

          “The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate” by Edwin Bryant. It is an excellent book, and he deals thoroughly with the misunderstandings that led to this “racial” interpretation.

          Indeed, the whole idea of “Aryans and native dark-skinned people” is total speculation (especially the “dark-skinned” part). There has never been a single piece of conclusive physical evidence- even after nearly 2 centuries of fervent searching- that any such dichotomy ever existed. It is just as likely that the so-called “native” people (at least of Northern India) WERE the “Aryans.”

          Finally, the Varna system was as follows- white for the Brahmins, red for the Kshatriyas, yellow/golden for the Vaishyas, and black for the Shudras. Yes, the Shudras were represented by black, but this obviously does not refer to their “skin color,” since otherwise, we would have to assume that the Kshatriyas were generally red, and the Vaishyas yellow! These terms were exclusively spiritual in nature, and it is utterly ridiculous to misinterpret them as having the slightest thing to do with “upper caste domination of the lower castes,” as the colonial and (later) Marxist myths would have us believe.

          • Shruti Pandey

            Thank you for your detailed reply and references- Much appreciated.

          • kingjohnthegreat

            No problem :) If you have the time, please do read the book. It is perhaps one of the most balanced and thorough works on this entire subject that I have ever read.

    • Nimish Joshi

      Dude, do not expose your pea-brains. “Aryan race” is an invention, which was later abused by the Nazi’s. Please educate yourself. Do not fall in the trap created by colonists. For example, Portuguese introduced “caste” (castos) in India and others just followed it and British divided us based on that for their own interests!

      • unacademy

        why u Hindus always blame others for all kind of your problems u instead of accepting truth project Muslims and Christians as the destroyer of your culture , when caste and varna system exist that gave immense pain to the oppressed that surely became the epitome of oppression .exploitation and suppression then why u people try to defend it u get nothing then say caste and varna system was based function, i don’t know when function based varna system was in practice because HISTORY how much I know varna system with its draconian features was based on birth from initial stage of history, if u quote myths then I can do nothing because if I will start to believe in myths then I have to salute u as the inventor of aeroplane. u say Muslim invaders are responsible for the existence of disgusting sati system in India while evidences of this practice can be found in Gupta the golden age, u say influence of Islam and Christianity increase the rate of divorce, while u do not have any method how husband and wife can be separated that show how u treat women either she will be imprisoned by her husband or killed by rituals on the name of religion, I request u people please accept that their are problems that have to be solved, don’t get virtual happiness by belying yourself, don’t be intellectually corrupt, go and apologize to Dalits and women for unbearable pain that u have given hundred of years, your repentance will be to upside down the socially unjust pyramid.

        • Nimish Joshi

          Your opinions like those of the slaves of the masters of the bygone era – congies, commies, “sick”ulars and self-proclaimed intellectual(masturbater)s.

          The problems you describe are not unique to India at all, especially related to “cast” (the term introduced by Portuguese and abused by British). Class separation is and was as bad among Christians and Muslims (who always killed those who refused to convert and took women, children and weak as slaves and made their “low cast”! or what Romans called barbarians). Please study writings of Greco-Romans that followed Macedonian Alexander who mentioned absence of slavery in India, and when Indians fought wars they did not harm common populous nor did they resort to collateral damage like Christians and Muslims. Also read descriptions of India by Chinese travelers. You will realize how Indian society and values were different then. Poverty and class become more rigid when Muslims squandered wealth during wars, especially Aurangzeb, and Europeans took wealth out of India and other colonies and squandered that during world wars.

          With regards to “dalits” (the word was coined on the 19th century!) and women – there were many social reformers who have worked towards that. I can refer you to many of those who worked throughout India even before Europeans arrived in India. But salves of the masters of the bygone era – like you – refuse to study them and talk like puppets of colonists.

          Women had right too choose or give up husband in Indian society. Women even socialized when Muslims first came to Sindh. It was treatment of women by Muslims that lead to downfall of women in Indian society. Please study treatment of women by Muslims, Rajput history in particular.

          Since independence India has made great progress. Poverty and discrimination exists in reach nations too you idiot.

          If you do not like conditions in India then you are very welcome to migrate to middle-east or Europe get treated like slaves and beggars.

          • unacademy

            first of all I will congratulate u for swallowing history begotten by those, who entertain themselves by practicing NIYOGA with myths, who first fucked by Nazis and at present engaged in fellatio with their male counterpart Zionist Israel.
            Again your hypocrisy resurfaced at one hand u rely on foreign sources to defend your banality done in the past what u find good u accept like their was not slavery in india as mentioned by Greco-Romans but when these foreigners raise issues related to women and oppressed classes,your narrow-mindedness, your sordid ritualism then u start to criticize them because of being biased,if u trust so much what described by Greco Romans then u will have to accept that their were seven groups in india in mauryan age as described by Megasthenes and painting of Ajanta and elloara were inspired by Romans this is what mentioned by Vincent smith but u will not accept this point your hypocrisy reach at extreme level when u say non violence is the characteristic of Hinduism u liar did violence against women and shudras not one and ten year but thousand of years now u will shamelessly demand evidence then go and see what is urinated by your lawmakers(liemakers) Rishis in smritis that u think are sacred, what kind of social structure used to be existed before fifty year can not be concealed to any one where human dignity had gone so lowest level that a particular community was regarded untouchable ,u people are so bigger hypocrate that u like samudragupta and his territorial expansion u feel proud to say him Nepolean of India but when Muslims inflicted defeat on u then they became mlecha for u, then u start to hide your impotency in the cloak of ahimsa started to show that how much tolerance u have, why don’t u accept that u did not tolerate other but u were so vulnerable that u cud have done nothing where was your tolerance when u were putting melting glass in the eyes and ears of sudras , cutting their tongues and burning women.
            Words caste and Dalit can be coined in 19th century but sudra , varna and jati exist for time immemorial, if castes are found in Islam it is because of Brahmanism this communicable disease reached among the Muslims of India, u sud thank Muslims that bhakti movement in India and social reform movement in 19th and 20th century could take place, u sud thank Ambedkar that Hinduism cud witness little bit of progress at the level of caste and class related problems even at the time when he initiated for the passes of Hindu succession and inheritance bills many saffron colored chimps opposed him.
            How shamelessly u r saying that poverty became destiny of people during Muslims age while India’s contribution in world GDP during Mughal age was more than 25%,trade with other countries reached at unprecedented level, villages were self dependent. had Aurangazeb adopted the attitude towards Hindus what is propagated by saffron chimps then these chimps would not have been here to menstruate but they had reached at the age of menopause in 17th century,
            This land was mine, is mine and will be mine and I am not going any where , I am not like those ,whose impotency refrained them from crossing Indus but I will like to be treated as slave in the society where I can display my capacity and capability where I can reach at the culmination of success, but I will not like to live in the society where a filthy Brahmin is better than a intellect Sudra and women.

          • Nimish Joshi

            You reply is nothing but intellectual masturbation! Leave India now and find out that you will always be treated as shit everywhere.

          • unacademy

            masturbation to show the impotency of saffron chimps

          • Nimish Joshi

            Saffron lions will send cowards like you packing. You only know to bark like street dogs!

          • unacademy

            I am sure u have weak eye sight that u cud not differentiate between lion and lion tailed macaque, recently one lion tailed macaque was seen in kerala clear evidence that they r endangered and very soon are going to extinct.
            u r right I need lesson in grammar and composition but my English is better than that of an orangutan, who is nowadays lives in flight mode, has so long lasting influence on u that u will like to stand in front of him in bitch position if he allows.

          • Nimish Joshi

            huh? what are you doped with? Read your own comments when you get sober and check if they are relevant.

          • Nimish Joshi

            Barking dogs never bit!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Barking dogs never bit!

          • Nimish Joshi

            More of intellectual masturbation from rotten brains!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Accusing others by calling “Zionist” shows your cheap mentality! Introspect, identify your own flows and fix then rather than pointing fingers and blaming others!

          • unacademy

            I wanted to go Nagpur but I got information that shooting of ‘planet of aps’ was going on there.

          • Nimish Joshi

            You are free man to go to hell then!

          • FREEMAN

            u cowboy very soon u will know ,who will go to hell

          • Nimish Joshi

            Dumb comment!

          • FREEMAN

            dumb comment to cow dung

          • Nimish Joshi

            You are to stupid to even have a conversation!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Ha Ha I will not see there for sure. We do not believe in hell!!!

          • FREEMAN

            events r not run on the basis of your belief system.Had it been whole world would have been transformed into habitat of chimps

          • Nimish Joshi

            Your brains are sure of a chimp!!!!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Idiots do not know what they talk about!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Huh? You have no brains!

        • Nimish Joshi

          “u say Muslim invaders were responsible for the existence of disgusting sati system in India,” ” u say influence of Islam and Christianity increased the rate of divorce.” I never said that! You are an complete idiot. You don’t even comprehend what written. I pity the education system that you went through. I hope you have brains to know when to shut up.

          • unacademy

            you did not say but those who compelled their wives ‘NATIONALISM’ to practise niyoga with ‘MYTHS’ that gave birth the bastard like you

          • Nimish Joshi

            Ha ha! Garbage comes out of bastard minds; like yours!

          • Nimish Joshi

            Ha! your name justifies your response! Add unsocial to that!!

        • Nimish Joshi

          Perhaps your mother will apologize for producing you!

        • Nimish Joshi

          U “angrezo ke aulads” go to saudi arabia or england and lick their assess.