Varna and Jati

1.      Great Tradition and Little Tradition

a.       “Great” tradition(s) -- wide spread, draws on Sanskrit texts, more uniformity

                                                  i.      Based on authority of Brahamanical, sanskritic texts

b.      “Little” traditions -- popular Hinduism, vernacular (Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Hindi)

                                                  i.      Diversity, regional differences

c.       How are the two related?

2.      Varna: Aryan ideal as first described in the Purusha Sukhta, developed later in the dharmashastras (treatises on dharma)

3.      Jati (“genus” or “birth”)

a.       Over 2000 jatis

b.      Distinctive customs, dress, diet – jati is thought to inhere in one’s nature

c.       Pollution and purity: how and how not to mingle

                                                  i.      Jati ranking, occupation

                                                ii.      Receiving pollution from bodily excretions (menstrual blood); Kinship (shared pollution); other castes (proximity, food, water, touch, intermarriage, intercourse)

                                              iii.      How to remove pollution: bathing, drinking pure substances

                                              iv.      Purity as basis for contact with gods