In 'Dalit Movement in India and Its Leaders',   By R K Kshirsagar gives the following   meaning of Untouchability quoting authorities:



Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde:

A nation-wide institution indicating three features of often observing pollution, asking to live outside of village and not giving equal legal protection of law”(l 933).  V.R. Shinde, Bharatiya Asprushyancha Prashna (Marathi).

Mahatma M.K.Gandhi:

Untouchability means pollution by the touch of certain persons by reason of their birth in a particular state of family (1933).   My philosophy of Life by Mahatma Gandhi.


Dr Babasaheb B.R.Ambedkar:

Dr B R Ambedkar on Stamp""1"="Untouchability is the notion of defilement, pollution, contamination and the ways and means of getting rid of that defilement. It is a case of permanent hereditary stain which nothing can cleanse”’ (1948). BR. Ambedkar. The Untouchables.


Professor Marc Galanter, Director of the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin: In Its broadest sense ‘untouchability’ might Include all instances in which one person treated another as ritually unclean and a source of pollution.

A second somewhat narrower sense of the term would include all instances in which a person was stigmatized as unclean or polluting or inferior because of his origin or membership in a particular group I.e. where he is subjected to invidious treatment because of difference in religion and membership in a lower or different caste.

Thus, we arrive at a third and still narrower sense of the term, ‘untouchability’ as referring only to those practices concerned with the relegation of certain groups beyond the pale of the caste system’ that is confining it to those disabilities imposed on groups commonly regarded as ‘untouchables'

‘Untouchability’ then, as used in Article 17, is confined to individual discrimination against certain not readily definable classes of persons” (1969). Prof Marc  Alanter, ‘The abolition of Disabilities-untouchabililty and the law* in Mahar Michael

The Committee on untouchability etc (Govt of India, Dept. of Social Welfare, 1969) headed by L.Elayaperumal:

Untouchability is a basic and unique feature of the Hindu social system and order. It is generally held these days that it is an economic backwardness of the people concerned. But the simple fact is forgotten that while economic Issues are present in all other countries untouchability is a unique problem confronted in this country only. It does not require much research to realise that the phenomenon of untouchability In this country Is fundamentally of religIous and political origin. Untouchability Is not a separate Institution by Itself, It is a corollary of the Institutions of the Caste system of Hindu society. It is an attitude on the part ofa whole group of people. It is spirit of social aggression that underlies this attitude” (1969).

"It is generally observed that untouchability is a unique feature of Hinduism. The Karma theory, expounded In the Gita, states that man attains salvation by worshipping God through performance of one’s own duties as decided by the religious scriptures. Consequently all the Hindus, Including touchables and untouchables, strongly believed that there was no salvation except by complying with the rules of caste system as expounded and interpreted by the Brahmins who had the right to that effect. Almost all the religious gurus and pujaris believed in the sanctity of untouchability and they had practised and enforced several disabilities based on untouchability. Even as recently as 1969, Shri Shankarachazya of Jagannathpuri is said to have justified the practice of untouchabUlty as a matter of religion in the Vlshwa Hindu Dharma Samrnelan held at Kashi. Banaras.( V.S. Nargolkar. Removal of untouchablilty. goals and attainments” Indian Journal of Social Work, VoLXXX, No. 3, Oct. 1969. ) Therefore, it is necessary to inquire Into the fact whether or not untouchablilty Is a part of the principles of Hinduism. Here the important question is, what Is Hinduism? What are Its main features?"

Rural Sociology  By Rajendra Kumar Sharma gives the following definitions of castes

"A caste may he defined as an endoganious and hereditary subdivision of an ethnic unit occupying a position of supenor or intenor rank or social esteem in companson with other such subdivisions. . . . Actually the census of India records over eight hundred castes and subcastes. or nearly five thousand. counting minute or wholly localized ones. These include hot oniy occupational groups hrn tnibes. races, sects. in fact all populational bodies possessing any distinctive traits and group consciousness.(Kmeber 1930:254,255)

 “A caste may be defined as a collection of families, or groups of families, bearing a common name, which usually denotes or is associated with specific occupation claiming common descent from a mythical ancestor, human or divine, professing to follow the same professional calling and are regarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single and homogeneous community.”  Sir Herbert Risley.

‘A caste is an aggregate of persons whose share of obligations and privileges is fixed by birth sanctioned or supported by religion and magic.”   Martindale and Monachesi

“Caste is a system of stratification in which mobility, movement up and down the status ladder, at least ideally may not occur. A person’s ascribed status is his life-time status. Birth determines occupation, place of residence, style of li.fe, personal associates and the group from among whom one must find a mate. A caste system always includes the notion that physical or even some forms of social contact with the lower caste people is degrading to higher caste persons. The caste system is also protected by law and sanctified by religion.”   A. W Green.

Origin of Untouchability


The Theory of Taboo of Vedic Origin


The Purusha Suktham  (Rig Veda 10:91) says:

“The Purusha has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. He pervades the earth everywhere and extends beyond for ten fingers’ breadth. The Purusha himself is all this, whatever has been and whatever is to be. He is the lord of immortality and also lord of that which grows on food. Such is his greatness, and the Purusha is yet greater than this. All creatures make up a quarter of him; three quarters are the immortal in heaven. With three quarters the Purusha has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here, whence he spread out everywhere, pervading that which eats and that which does not eat. From him Virj was born, and from Virj came the Purusha, who, having been born, ranged beyond the earth before and behind. When the gods spread the sacrifice, using the Purusha as the offering, spring was the clarified butter, summer the fuel, autumn the oblation. They anointed the Purusha, the sacrifice, born at the beginning, upon the sacred grass. With him the gods, Sdhyas, and sages sacrificed. From that sacrifice in which everything was offered, the clarified butter was obtained, and they made it into those beasts who live in the air, in the forest, and in villages. From that sacrifice in which everything was offered, the verses and the chants were born, the metres were born, and the formulas were born. From it horses were born, and those other animals which have a double set of incisors; cows were born from it, and goats and sheep were born from it.


 “When they divided the Purusha, into how many parts did they disperse him? What became of his mouth, what of his arms, what were his two thighs and his two feet called? His mouth was the brahmin, his arms were made into the nobles, his two thighs were the populace, and from his feet the servants were born. The moon was born from his mind; the sun was born from his eye. From his mouth came Indra and Agni, and from his vital breath the wind (Vayu) was born. From his navel the atmosphere was born; from his head the heaven appeared. From his two feet came the earth, and the regions of the sky from his ear. Thus they fashioned the worlds. There were seven, enclosing fire-sticks for him, and thrice seven fire-sticks when the gods, spreading the sacrifice, bound down the Man as the sacrificial beast. With this sacrifice the gods sacrificed; these were the first dharmas. And these powers reached the dome of heaven where dwell the ancient Sdhyas and gods” (Rig Veda 10.9).

But where does the Dalit come?   

यत् पुरुषं व्यदधुः कतिधा व्यकल्पयन् ।
मुखं किमस्य कौ बाहू का ऊरू पादा उच्येते ॥

When they divided Purusha how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms?
What do they call his thighs and feet?

ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीद् बाहू राजन्यः कृतः ।
ऊरूतदस्य यद् वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत ॥

The Brahmana was his mouth, the Rajanya (Kshatriya) were his two arms.
His thighs became the Vaishya and the Shudra was born from his feet.

A "dust under our feet " were not originated from the body of Purusha, so do not belong to castes, but has a name: they are the Dalits or outcasts, called untouchables. Those who came from the body of the Purusha are called Savarna (Coloreds) and those not from the Purusha from the dust under his feet are called Avarna (Non-colored).  Dalits fall here.

The Dalits are considered to have been born separate from the supreme being, and therefore are inferior to even the servants – they are not low-caste but outcaste.

Since there is nothing below the feet of God they do not certainly originate from him, They are the PANCHAMAS (The fifth class), the impure, the unclean, and untouchables. These outcasts are the scum of the society-treated with contempt.


Twice Born





In the Arthasastra that is attributed to Chanakya, the approval of the social order of chaturvarna is quite clear and unequivocal. A look at the verses of Chapter III  The End Of Sciences,  leaves very little room for doubt especially with verses like these:

Chaturvarna system: Endorsed by Puranic scripture but older than the Puranas

“As the triple Vedas definitely determine the respective duties of the four castes and of the four orders of religious life, they are the most useful.”

“That (duty)  of a Sudra is the serving of twice-born (dvijati), agriculture, cattle-breeding, and trade (varta), the profession of artisans and court-bards (karukusilavakarma)”

“The observance of one’s own duty leads one to Svarga and infinite bliss (Anantya). When it is violated, the world will come to an end owing to confusion of castes and duties”.

Hence the king shall never allow people to swerve from their duties; for whoever upholds his own duty, ever adhering to the customs of the Aryas, and following the rules of caste and divisions of religious life, will surely. be happy both here and hereafter. For the world, when maintained in accordance with injunctions of the triple Vedas, will surely progress, but never perish.


The dalits not only find themselves out of the four-fold caste system but are also forced to live in separate colonies (cheries) outside towns and villages.

Manu Dharma, the Hindu religious code of conduct, which is believed to be divinely revealed spells out clearly the meticulous details of how the outcasts should conduct themselves, where they should live and what duties are ascribed to them.

It is the practice of this code of conduct that still keeps the dalits outside the villages living in subhuman conditions.
Most of the dalits are bonded laborers of the village landlords.
They own no land, property or houses.
They still do the works that the society considers to be the works of the slaves.
They are the scavengers, street cleaners, cobblers, washer-folk, those who beat the drums for the dead, those who carry the dead and those who wait upon the upper caste lords. There are still many villages where a dalit can not sit on the same bench with a high caste person in a coffee shop.
There are still villages where a dalit cannot ride a bicycle through the streets of a high caste people or even walk with any kind of foot wear.
The dalit women can not go to the common village well to draw water.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that the dalits are still the poorest of the poor in Indian society. They are not even low people.

They are "no people".
The Hindu society has robbed their identity as human beings.
The Christian society has in no way treated them any better.

  “I realized people were going to fall and be trampled before it happened. I took photos, then went to help other people while snapping more shots,” said Jakarta Globe photographer Safir Makki about this shot taken at an Idul Fitri handout event at Jakarta Town Hall. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)


Race and Occupation Theory

Dravidians were the occupants of India when the Aryans entered in India and enslaved them or pushed them out of their land.  They were pushed down to the Southern Parts of India or they retired into more difficult terrains of the hill countries.   It appears that these Dravids mingled well with the Pre-Dravidians of undefined


Jaipal Singh Munda (1903-1970) became a voice for tribal rights in pre-Independence India and formed the Adivasi Mahasabha in 1938 which asked for a separate state of Jharkhand, to be carved out of Bihar. He argued eloquently for affirmative action in favour of tribal India.  In his speech on the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly on December 19, 1946 he said:

 “As a jungle, as an adivasi, I am not expected to understand the legal intricacies of the resolution. But my common sense tells me that every one of us should march in that road to freedom and fight together. Sir, if there is any group of Indian people that has been shabbily treated, it is my people. They have been disgracefully treated, neglected for 6000 years. The history of the Indus Valley Civilisation, a child of which I am, shows quite clearly that it is the newcomers-most of you here are intruders as far as I am concerned-it is the newcomers who have driven away my people from the Indus Valley to jungle fastness...” 



Stainly Rice ( Stainly Rice. Hindu Customs and their origin.) propounded the theory of race and occupation for explaining the origin of untouchabiliity. According to Stanley these were the original inhabitants of India.  Long before the Aryan invasion, there was a Dravidian invasion.


Classical anthropologists, such as Carleton S. Coon in his 1939 work The Races of Europe, argued that Ethiopia in Northeast Africa and India in South Asia represented the outermost peripheries of the Caucasoid race. In the 1960s, genetic anthropologist Stanley Marion Garn considered the entirety of the Indian subcontinent to be a "race" genetically distinct from other populations. The geneticist L.L. Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford, based on work done in the 1980s, classified Indians as being genetically Caucasian. Cavalli-Sforza theorized that Indians are about three times closer to West Europeans than to East Asians. More recently, other geneticists, such as Lynn B. Jorde and Stephen P. Wooding, demonstrated that South Indians are genetic intermediaries between Europeans and East Asians. Nevertheless, Indians are classified by modern anthropologists as belonging to one of four different morphological or ethno-racial subtypes, although these generally overlap because of admixture: Caucasoid (concentrated in the north), Mongoloid (concentrated in the north), Australoid (concentrated in the south), and Negrito (located in the Andaman Islands). Dravidians are generally classified as members of the Proto-Australoid or Australoid race .

The term “Adi Dravidar” implies that there were Original Inhabitants.


The First African Invasion
In the Supreme Court case heard by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Markandey Katju and Hon'ble Mrs. Justice Gyan Sudha Misra they state:

“…..the tribals of India have  generally (though not invariably) retained a higher level of ethics than the non-tribals in our country. They normally do not cheat, tell lies, and do other misdeeds which many non-tribals do. They are generally superior in character to the non-tribals. It is time now to undo the historical injustice to them………”

“ ...A number of earlier anthropologists held the view that the Dravidian peoples together were a distinct race. However, comprehensive genetic studies have proven that this is not the case. The original inhabitants of India may be identified with the speakers of the Munda languages, which are unrelated to either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian languages”.

Posted Image
King Anil Munda is the King of Mundas at Koyera, Khulna of Bangladesh.



“Thus the generally accepted view now is that the original inhabitants of India were not the Dravidians but the pre-Dravidians. Munda aborigines whose descendants presently live in parts of Chotanagpur (Jharkhand), Chattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, etc., the Todas of the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, the tribals in the Andaman Islands, the Adivasis in various parts of India (especially in the forests and hills) e.g. Gonds, Santhals, Bhils, etc.”


Todas of Nilgiris


“Thus the generally accepted view now is that the original inhabitants of India were not the Dravidians but the pre-Dravidians Munda aborigines whose descendants presently live in parts of Chotanagpur (Jharkhand), Chattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, etc., the Todas of the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, the tribals in the Andaman Islands, the Adivasis in various parts of India (especially in the forests and hills) e.g. Gonds, Santhals, Bhils, etc.”


The projection of those Tribes by Cambridge University (Indian History, Part 1) as Pre-Dravidians and that they are the Original Inhabitants of India who contribute to the 8% of Indian Population and the rest 92% are immigrants is to be debated.


The HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium (HPASC) (Mapping Human Genetic Diversity in Asia)

"The HPASC has done much to bring the genetic data for India in line with the archaeological, anthropological and linguistic data. Ray and Excoffer argue that coupling the archaeological data with genetic data is a powerful way to infer population migration 

Before this research by HPASC, researchers have noted the absence of congruency between Indian population genetics and archaeological research  As a result research into India population studies are not supported by historical, archaeological and linguistic evidences . The archeological evidence indicated that the first settlers of India were probably Negritos and Austro-Asiatic, then Dravidian speakers and finally Southeast Asians. But Geneticists maintain that the Dravidian speakers originated in India. They support this view by showing how the Indian mtDNA belonging to the M haplomacrogroup must have developed in situ in India.

Some researchers use Rosenberg et al. to argue that there is a low level of genetic divergence across geographically and linguistically diverse Indian populations based on their analysis solely of Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers from India .

This study by HPASC contradicts Rosenberg et al and supports the view that the Indian populations are not homogenous and that Negritos were probably the first settlers of India. Using an Indian sample from India, HPASC acknowledges that the Dravidians were probably not the first population to settle India. The research of HPASC also supports an Indo-European migration into India.





Tilak and the Aryan Origins



Thus today's genetic patterns, the researchers explained, vividly reflect a historic event, or events, that occurred 3,000 or 4,000 years ago (about 3,600 years ago). The gene patterns ``are consistent with a historical scenario in which invading Caucasoids -- primarily males -- established the caste system and occupied the highest positions, placing the indigenous population, who were more similar to Asians, in lower caste positions.''

The researchers, from the University of Utah and Andhra Pradesh University in India, used two sets of genes in their analyses. One set, from the mitochondria, are only passed maternally and can be used to track female inheritance. The other, on the male-determining Y chromosome, can only be passed along paternally and thus track male inheritance. `there was a group of males with European or Caucasian affinities who were largely responsible for this invasion 3,000 or 4,000 years ago,'' said geneticist Lynn Jorde of the University of Utah.  If women had accompanied the invaders, he said, the evidence should be seen in the mitochondrial genes, but it is not evident.


Thus by the Vedic period there were two powerful races, Aryans and Dravidians all over India.  The local original inhabitants of India were forced to move into remote mountains and remained as tribal community.  They were living outside of the villages beyond the wall.  This became the norm as Vedics came in.  They brought with them their Chathurvarna (the four castes).  Vedic people could not classify them under their scheme and hence became the Outcaste - those outside of the Hindu Caste System - the avarnas the people without a color or caste.  As the defeated serfs they came to be Untouchables and Outcastes.

Manu made these inequalities as law.


Manu made these inequalities as law.  Manusmṛti also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra is one metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of   Hinduism.  According Jayaram (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/dharma/manusmriti.asp) realistically dates it to 200 AD.  Since it is written in Classical Sanskrit it cannot be earlier than 150 AD.  However until recently it was dated way back in the vedic ages.  

Jayaram V explains:  "The Manusmriti, translated "Laws of Manu" or "Institutions of Manu", is regarded as a foundational work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society, compiled and written quite late, c.200 CE in India. It is one of the eighteen Smritis of the Dharma Sastra (or "laws of righteous conduct"); Smriti means "what is remembered" and is applied in general to a Hindu text other than the Vedas, including traditional Indian epics, the Puranas, and science and grammar treatises. Unlike the Vedas which are considered to be eternal or of divine origin, the Smritis are considered to be of human origin and therefore susceptible to the flaws of humans. They contain laws, rules and codes of conduct to be applied by individuals, communities and nations. Some of these laws codify the Hindu caste system and discuss the "stages of life for a twice-born man".

"The book is ascribed to Manu, said to be the forefather of all human race. Manu's writings prescribe a particular ideal of Indian society, conforming to detailed social and religious rules which are expressed as being in line with the universal ethical principle of 'dharma'. For many scholars, it is merely one (particularly influential) set of laws to which many Hindus have appealled - others guides to social practice exist, and have complemented or contradicted Manu throughout India's history and across its communities"

However the normal exagerated claims of the Hindu tradition argues that "As per Skanda Purana, Bhrigu Rishi had migrated to 'Bharuch', located on Narmada river later on. Even Archeological findings near Narmada river are dated more than 8500 years old  and said to be belonging to post Bhrigu era, confirming that Bhrigu and Manu had existed some 10,000 years ago, and their creation 'Manusmriti' is that old. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manusmriti dated 11/11/2012)

 Manu in Other Traditions

One take on the name Manu connects him with Manes, Minos and Moses, foremost contributors to the world’s humanity. 

  • The name of the man who laid down the social and religious laws in ancient India was Manu. The lawgiver of the Egyptians was called Manes.
  • The Cretan who codified the laws of the ancient Greeks – laws that he had learned in Egypt – was called Minos.
  • The leader of the Hebrew tribes and the promulgator of the Ten Commandments was called Moses.

 They all belonged to the same archetypal pattern. All four stood by the cradle of important civilizations of the ancient world. All four laid down laws and instituted a theocratic priestly society.

In Sanskrit, manu signifies a man of excellence, a lawgiver.  However there were concurrent cultures in existence in all continents in the connection with other names whereas Manu was the first man who survived the flood..


Moses' sytem of hierarchy stood as:

Levites (Priests)
Judges (Administrators) Later replaced by Kings and Warriors
Twelve Tribes of the Children of Jacob
Laborers and Slaves took from neighboring Tribes

Jews were a nomadic wandering tribe and encamped in the desert where this hierachial system is visibly evident.  Here is the encampment arrangement.

(Laborers and Slaves  from neighboring Tribes lived Outside the camp)

This system evolved into various forms later.  One example is the replacement of Judges with Kings (The Davidic lineage).  The changeover was marked with struggle between Samuel and Saul.

Noah, Manu, Gilgamesh and Atra-Hasis

The alternative is Manu as Indian version of Noah.  This is supported by the flood story and the survivor Manu.  Manu is the progenitor of all humans on the earth during the period  one pralya to another , one flood to another flood. Manu appropriately came to mean "man" or "mankind" (since Manu, or Noah, was the father of all post-flood mankind). The word is related to the Germanic Mannus, the founder of the West Germanic peoples. Mannus was mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania. Mannus is also the name of the Lithuanian Noah.  Another Sanskrit form, manusa is closely related to the Swedish manniska,  both words meaning "human being."

In the old Indian story of the great flood, Manu looks like Noah in some respects, and like Adam in others. 

Manu is a generic term, mysterious, and means far more than may be supposed. MANU declares himself created by Vaiswanara (the Spirit of Humanity), which means that his Monad emanates from the never-resting Principle in the beginning of every new Cosmic activity; that Logos or Universal MONAD (collectively Elohim) that radiates from within himself all those Cosmic Monads that become the centers of activity -- progenitors of the numberless Solar Systems as well as every being thereon. Each Cosmic Monad is "Swayambhuva," the self-born, which becomes the center of force from within which emerges a planetary chain (of which there are seven in our system), and whose radiations become again so many Manu Swayambhuva (a generic name); each of these becoming, as a Host, the Creator of his own Humanity. It is taught that the Manus are the creators of the creators of our first Race -- the Spirit of mankind -- which does not prevent the seven Manus from having been the first "pre-Adamic" men on earth.   

Vaivasvata is the name of the seventh Manu, the forefather of the post-diluvian race, or our own fifth humankind. A reputed son of Surya (the Sun), he became, after having been saved in an ark (built by the order of Vishnu) from the Deluge, the father of Ikshwaku, the founder of the solar race of kings. Vaivasvata Manu is the Indian Noah, connected with the Matsya (or the fish) Avatar of Vishnu

According to the Matsya Purana, ( c. 250–500 AD)The Matsya Avatar of Vishnu is believed to have appeared initially as a Shaphari (a small carp), to King Manu (whose original name was Satyavrata), the then King of Kumari Kandam, while he washed his hands in a river. This river was supposed to have been flowing down the Malaya Mountains in his land of Dravida. The little Fish asked the king to save Him, and out of compassion, he put it in a water jar. It kept growing bigger and bigger, until King Manu first put Him in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited Him in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing Fish, the King placed Him in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth. As it grew further King Manu had to put the fish in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.

It was then that He (Lord Matsya), revealing Himself, informed the King of a all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. The King built a huge boat which housed his family, all types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede. At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which Vaivasvata Manu fastened the boat to horn of the fish.

According to the Matsya Purana, his boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains.   This narrative is to an extent similar to other deluge stories, like those of Utnapishtim from ancient Sumerian Mythology, and the story of Noah's ark from the Bible

When the flood receded, Manu was the sole human survivor. He then performed a sacrifice: He poured butter and sour milk into the waters. After a year a woman was born from the waters. She announced herself as "the daughter of Manu." These two then became the ancestors of a new human race that filled the earth.

(THEOSOPHY, Vol. 47, No. 2, December, 1958  Pages 78-82)

Evidently the similarity with Noah is clear.  The whole earth was replenished by people from the four children of Noah.  Manu appropriately came to mean "man" or "mankind" (since Manu, or Noah, was the father of all post-flood mankind).   

The English word "man" is thus also related to the Sanskrit manu, as well as its equivalents in other Germanic languages. Gothic, the oldest known Germanic language, used the formManna, and also gaman ("fellow man").

The Manusmriti presents itself as a discourse given by the sage Manu, to a congregation of seers, or rishis, who beseeched him, after the great floods,  in the vedic state of 'Brahmavarta', in India, some 10,000 years ago, to tell them on, how to face such calamities in future by organising themselves and lead an organised life with the "guidelines for all the social classes  Veteran sages Manu and Bhrigu gave them a discourse in some 2685 shaloks, compilation of which is called 'Manusmriti'. Manu became the standard point of reference for all future Dharmaśāstras that followed it.  

When British Colonisers took control of India, they took advantage as the Indo-European brothers of the Aryans the right to rule India in accordance with the Manu Laws.  Today the Hindus disassociate themselves from their British Aryan brothers Robert Clive and Lord Macaulay. In fact all the hard work of research, codification and translation of Aryan contribution to India was done by British colonisers including the name Hinduism for a vastly differentiated variety of religions as a religion which never existed as a monolithic religion as presented today.

Sir William Jones
(1746 –1794)

Manusmriti was first translated into English in 1794 by Sir William Jones, an linguist, English Orientalist and judge of the British Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta.

Multi-causal Theory

Maharishi Vitthal Ramji Shinde

He was born in 1873 in the princely state of Jamkhandi in Karnataka, India.    He was influenced by the writings of many intellectuals such as Mahatma Jotiba Phule, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and Max Müller.

In 1898 he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Fergusson College at Pune, India. He had also studied and passed the first year law and moved to Mumbai (Bombay) for the LL.B. examination; however, he gave up this course to attend to other compelling callings in his life. This same year he joined the Prarthana Samaj, where he was further inspired and influenced by G.B. Kotkar, Shivrampant Gokhle, Justice Mahadev Govinda Ranade, Sir Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar and K.B. Marathe. He became a missionary for the Prarthana Samaj. Prarthana Samaj was founded by Dr. Atmaram Pandurang in 1867 with an aim to make people believe in one God and worship only one God as opposed to the polytheism and idol worship of the various Indian religions.  It was during this time the name Hinduism as a religion came into existence.  The main reformers were the intellectuals who advocate reforms of the social system of the Hindus.

The Prarthana Samaj selected him to go to England in 1901, to study comparative religion at Manchester College, Oxford, which had been founded by the Unitarian Church. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, of Baroda, a progressive and reformist, provided some financial help for his travels abroad.

After returning from England in 1903, he devoted his life to religious and social reforms. He continued his missionary work for the Prarthana Samaj. His efforts were devoted mainly to the removal of untouchability in India.

In 1905 he established a night school for the children of untouchables in Pune, and in 1906 he established the Depressed Classes Mission in Mumbai (Bombay). In 1922 the mission’s Ahalyashram building was competed at Pune.

In 1917 he succeeded in getting the Indian National Congress to pass a resolution condemning the practice of untouchability.

From 1918 to 1920, he went on to convening all the India untouchability removal conferences. Some of these conferences were convened under the president-ship of Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaja Sahyajirao Gaekwad.

According to Maharishi Vitthal Ramji Shinde (1873 - 1944)who tried to work for the upliftment of the untouchables from within the frame work of Hinduism.  He founded the Somvanshiya Mitra Samaj on March 14, 1907 to abolish the Devdasi system amongst Mahar and Mang women. He established the Akhil Bhartiya NirashritAkhil Bhartiya Nirashrit Asprushyata Nivarak Sangha, through which he organized an All-India convention in Mumbai emphasizing on the removal of untouchability, during the years 1918 to 1920. He was supported by Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaji Sayajirao Gaekwad. He gives five different causes of the origin of untouchabllity. (V.R. Shinde, Bharatiya Asprushyatecha Prasna (the problem of India's untouchability)1976)

They were:

1. Those who were living by performing filthy or unclean occupations were treated as untouchables.

Manual Scavengers

2. Those who were independent entities, but later on were vanquished in the wars and became untouchables.

3. Those who were Buddhists and non-believers In God, superstitions and Vedas and did not accept the supremacy of Brahmanism were made untouchables.

     India Dalit Caste Hindu Buddhist Mumbai


4. The tribals not living like civilians also came under this category.


5. The marriage of a high caste female with a low caste male was called Pratiloma marriage and it was prohibited by the caste laws. Those who performed Pratiloma marriage in contravention of the Dharma Shastras were boycotted and discarded as untouchables.


The Broken Men Theory




According to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar (1948 The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables?) the untouchables were the Broken Men.  The primitive society was mainly tribal. At a later stage they became settled as soon as they switched to agriculture as a means of their livelihood. However, all the tribes did not settle simultaneously. Some tribes were still nomadic when others settled down.  

There were intra-tribal wars as well as wars between settled and nomadic tribes. The causes for the Intra-tribal warfare were
 (I) stealing cattle.
(ii) stealing women, and
(iii) stealthy grazing of cattle In the pastures belonging to others.

On the other hand, the causes for the war between settled people and nomadic tribes were:
(a) the nomads found it more advantageous to fight against the settlers and steal their wealth, and (b) the settlers were unable to defend themselves from the nomads who were naturally more militant and aggressive.

Intra tribal wars gave rise to divisions among tribes. The defeated tribes were broken into groups. Hence there always existed in primitive times a floating population constituting groups of Broken Tribesmen.

 On the other hand, the settled versus nomadic war caused loss of property and lives among the former. They were facing acute problem of defence from certain aggressive tribes. Thus the Broken Men were in need of shelter and food whereas the settled were in need of protection of the property and persons. Consequently, they had to come to certain settlement and form an agreement for protecting each other’s Interests. wAithough we have, he states, no written text of a contract coming down to us from antiquity we can say that the two struck a bargain whereby the Broken Men agreed to do the work of watch and ward for the settled tribes and the settled tribes agreed to give them food and shelter. Indeed It would have been unnatural if such an agreement had not been made between th. two especially when the interests of the one required the cooperation of the other.

The primitive settlers, however, were not so liberal as to admit them into their area, hence they allotted the land outside the village to the nomadic tribes. From the protection or strategic point of view, their settlement outside the village was necessary so as to face the prospective dangers. Obviously, because of their living outside the village they were called Antyaja or Antyavasin.

 The second reason for the origin of untouchabillty according to Dr Babasaheb Arnbedkar was the contempt for Buddhism, the religion professed by the Broken Men. The Broken Men who were segregated from the village people must have been inclined to embrace Buddhism which was based on liberty, equality and fraternity. The village people who remained in the Hindu fold accepted the supremacy of the Brahmlns; whereas the Broken Men discarded the supremacy of the latter and continued to profess Buddhism.

This caused strife between the two communities which ended in suppression of the Broken Men and downfall of Buddhism In the later period.

According to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar the third reason for the origin of untouchability was the habit of beef eating by the Broken Men. The untouchables became habituated to eating flesh of cows, whereas the touchables gave up the same. Even at the later stage the Brahmins not only gave up this diet, but became purely vegetarian so as to outsmart the Buddhists professing the principle of non-violence and compassion to all men and animals. Uunfortunately, beef eating instead of being treated as a purely secular matter was made a matter of religion. This happened because the Brahmins made the cow a sacred animal. This made beef eating sacrilege. The Broken Men being guilty of sacrilege necessarily became beyond the pale of society.

 Thus according to Babasaheb Anibedkar the ‘stain’ of untouchablhlty was imposed on these people who were Broken Men. - Buddhists and beef eaters.






Broken Men







The ‘stain’ of untouchablhlty was imposed on the Buddhists and beef eaters.




John Henry Hutton

“The origin of the position of the exterior caste is partly racial partly a matter of social custom.”

Portrait of John Henry Hutton

Hutton joined the Indian Civil Service and spent most of his administrative career in Assam, on the border between India and Burma, particularly in the Naga Hills. His book is entitled:
"Caste in India
its nature, function and origins"

According to John Henry Hutton (1885-1968) who  was an anthropologist-cum-administrator,  there are three causes of the untouchability:

1) Racial causes; 2) Religious causes; 3) Social causes.

1) Racial Causes:

It is a well known story that before Aryans came to this country this land was inhabited by members of some other race. Since the Aryans became victorious they subject the vanquished to all sorts of humiliations. Those who were considered inferior from the point of view of race later on became untouchables and inferior in many respects. They were not allowed to use the vehicles, palanquins, horses, etc.

Hebrews in Egypt





2) Religious Causes:

 In every religion regulations were in existence regarding purity and the process of becoming pure when polluted.  Those who engaged in impure occupations could not be considered as touchable. In the days of difficult sanitary conditions and difficulty of controlling the microbes of sickness, not coming in contact with situations of unsanitary conditions and transmission of sickness is the choice.  Since it was the lot of the Harijans to engage in impure professions like scavenging etc, they came to be realised as untouchables 

“There can be little doubt that the idea of untouchability originates in taboos.”

3) Social Causes:

Several factors that may be termed as social have also contributed to the origin and development of the untouchability. Various social customs and conventions that were basically meant at providing convenient life of the members of the upper class have made untouchability a part of the social order.  




Freudian Theories of Untouchability


Two Tales of Crow and Sparrow: A Freudian Folkloristic Essay on Caste and Untouchability by Alan Dundes

Prof. Alan Dundes (1934 – 2005) was Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley.

In the famous book The Crow and the Sparrow Alan Dundes traces untouchability practices from the point of view of anthropological Freudian psychology.   

The salient features of caste, according to Dundes, are expressed in terms of seven criteria:

  • vertical hierarchy,
  • ascribed (not achieved) membership,
  • endogamy,
  • association with a traditional occupation,
  • relative rank expressed through pollution,
  • avoidance of physical contact with or food touched by a member of a lower caste and
  • rituals of purification for the elimination of defilement.

Beyond these seven criteria we could list a number of others constituting the basis for Jaatis: lineage, heredity, locality, language, even colour.

“Who ever heard of anyone sitting down to dinner so dirty as you are?” said the sparrow.
“Your body is quite black and your head looks as if it were covered with ashes.
For goodness’ sake, go and wash in the pond first.”

 Dundes delves into Hindu scriptures, using the story of ‘clean’ sparrow and ‘dirty’ crow as polar opposites  from a symbolic clues; mouth as clean and anus as  dirty; using folklore data, religious texts, infant toilet training in India, the concept of pure and impure amongst the ‘gypsies’ whose origins possibly lies in India and many other sources, he offers what appears to be striking and original explanation that integrates all these patterns into a coherent whole.

He mentions, Rig Vedic text which states that men of low castes were borne out of the “rear end of god Brahma”, that is from his anus, that which would make such men cosmic turds. This applies not to Sudra or clean Sudra castes but to the theoretical fifth varna (denied by Hindu law givers) but to the ati-Sudras or unclean Untouchables. Thus they are the excretions of the Purusha and does not belong to him as a part of the bdy.     The whole concept of caste is thus inextricably tied up with some kind of native category of defilement or pollution.  The people wants to be free from pollution.  But pollution is part of life and hence some one must perform it so that the lords can remain free of those pollution.