Category: Indian Anthropology

Tribe-Caste Continuum

Tribe-Caste Continuum: F. G. Bailey (1960) and Surjit Sinha (1965) proposed the concept of the tribe-caste continuum in the Indian context. In fact, Indian ethnographers were grappling with the problem of discriminating between tribe and caste. Sir Herbert Risley (1891) was the earliest ethnographer to point out that it was difficult to “draw a demarcating line …

Concept of Purushartha

Concept of Purushartha: The concept of Purushartha is a fundamental principle of social ethics. Like four classes in the society and four stages in the life of an individual, the ancient Indian seers conceived of four aims or purposes of a man- the Purushartha. These are not only meant to set an ideal objective but also …

Universalization and Parochialization

Universalization and Parochialization: Redfield’s Great and Little Traditions concept explains the contents of traditions present in a civilization that are inter-dependent and interactive. The process of that interaction and how the two traditions affect each other is well explained by Mckim Marriott’s concept of Universalization and Parochialization. Parochialization denotes the downward spread into the parochial village …

Concept of Sacred Complex

Sacred Complex: The study of Civilization and the concept of Great and Little Tradition led to many methodological innovations. Redfield and his students, Marriott and Singer, proposed a number of concepts and terms to facilitate the study of the complexity of Indian Civilization and emphasized the cultural role of the cities. The singer proposed the concepts …

Great Tradition and Little Tradition

Great Tradition and Little Tradition: The study of civilization, as such, was placed on the anthropological agenda by Redfield. He and his students studied a number of folk and urban communities in Mexico and India and came up with many important concepts to understand the structure and persistence of civilizations. Redfield viewed civilization as a complex …

Concept of Karma and Rebirth

Karma and Rebirth: Though analytically independent, the two concepts or doctrines of karma (deeds) and rebirth are mutually and functionally related. Karma is the sum of all actions, all deeds that a person performs in his life from birth to death. The karma in the present life, the status in life, nature and tendencies, physical enjoyment …

Four Stages of Life- Ashram System

Ashram System in India: Just as early Indian Society was divided into four classes, the Varna so was the life of an individual divided into four stages- the Ashram. But there is no reason to believe that both originated simultaneously. There is no reference to Ashram in Vedic literature. The four stages were Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, …

Concept of Varna

Concept of Varna: Literally meaning colour, this term is mainly used to describe the system of social stratification of the Aryans of the Vedic age. According to Sri Yaskacharya, Varna is derived from the root Vri, meaning choice, implying that Varna is that which a person chooses according to his nature or work. Originally, it appears, …

Caste System in India

Caste System in India: There are books, treatise, theses and theories galore on the Indian Caste System. There is hardly an Indologist or a social scientist who has not contributed his mite to understand the caste system’s intricacies and unravel its origin. What is Caste? Caste is an endogamous social group having a specific position in …

Concept of Westernization

Concept of Westernization: In his study of the Coorg, Srinivas made several references to Western influence and remarked that improvements in communications, newspapers, book, radio, films etc. have resulted in greater Sanskritization. In his paper “A note on Westernization and Sanskritization” (1956), he further analyzed how westernization and Sanskritization reinforce one another and how they are …