Thursday, January 28, 2016
Manu, the author of Manusmrithi has been the most maligned sage of the Hindu fold ever since the foreigners started dabbling with ancient Indian texts, as the ‘master-mind’ of the caste system and promoter of Brahmin superiority. At a time when this view has gained ‘universal’ acceptance, here comes a genetic study on Indian population that exonerates Manu of his ‘wrong doing’, as the study has sniffed this evil of caste only from 1500 years before present! Manu is certainly an old timer, much older than 500 CE – a fact I believe the Manu-baiters and Brahmin haters would agree with. Until 1500 years ago, there was no restriction on inter-caste marriages according to this study. Marrying within one’s own clan or endogamy thereby indicating a strict adherence to caste consciousness was noticed only 70 generations ago or from 1500 years ago, says this study.
So this proves that though Manu had classified people into 4 groups or rather ‘castes’ and further ‘created’ many ‘castes’ that arise out of inter mix of these castes, no rigid structure of castes was noticed until recently that is, until 500 CE. Instead of recognising this vital fact, the authors of the study insert a vicious idea that Vedic Brahmanism has infused this caste structure 1500 years ago thanks to the ‘ardent Gupta Rulers’ who enforced strict Hindu laws! What a sweeping statement by them! An idea which was given by an undated Manu had not thrived for all these millennia, but suddenly made its presence by the strict Hindu rulers favouring Brahmanic order. Were there not enough “Hindu” rulers until then to enforce the caste system of Vedic Brahmanism? How could the authors make such a claim without giving thought to other possibilities such as economic and political reasons?
The time period of 1500 years BP coincided with a lot of social disturbances, change of power equations and movement of people from one part to another. Even as early as Silappadhikaram times (in the 1st century CE), Satakarani sent 96 sects of people to Cheran land. There is inscriptional evidence of 96 sects of people in Kongu regions of Tamilnadu. There had been Idangai (Vamachara) and Valangai (Dakshinachara) conflicts for long which was noticed until the British period. These were people based and not promoted by kings or Brahmanic orders. Marriages were discouraged between these sects though they may be of same caste. The causes cannot be traced to Manu or Vedic Brahmanism of Guptas or Dharma satsras. This particular conflict between Idangai and Valangai went to the extent of destroying each other’s temples and denying entry to others into their temples. This was characterised as casteist tendencies of caste Hindus perpetrated against Dalits in the last century. But a deeper analysis of the genesis into the past shows Idangai – Valangai conflict.
This is just one case I have quoted here. Like this there are different cases having different causes for the formation of rigid tendencies among castes in the last 1000 plus years. While so much has to be probed in the social set up of the people to know why strict adherence to caste (as seen from endogamous tendency in the genetic study) developed after 500 CE, putting the onus on Gupta- promoted Brahmanic rules in a ‘genetic study’ is preposterous.
Related article:- Caste is not a curse.
The caste system has left its mark on Indians’ genomes
by Annalee Newitz - Jan 26, 2016
A group of researchers has identified exactly when Indians stopped intermarrying.
Over 1,500 years ago, the Gupta emperors ruled large parts of India. They helped consolidate the nation, but they also popularized India's caste system, making it socially unacceptable for people to marry outside their castes. Now, a new analysis of genetic variation among contemporary Indians has revealed that this social shift left a distinctive genetic signature behind.
A group of researchers in India conducted this analysis by comparing the genomes of hundreds of Indians from throughout the country. As they write in a paper published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, samples came from "367 unrelated individuals drawn from 18 mainland and two island (Andaman and Nicobar Islands) populations selected to represent geographic, linguistic, and ethnic diversities." Previous studies had suggested that today's Indians came from two ancestral populations, but the new analysis revealed four distinct "haplotypes," or bundles of genetic elements that travel through generations in a package. People with the same haplotypes likely came from the same ancestral groups. The researchers also found a fifth haplotype among people of the Andaman archipelago.
Careful examination of the variations between these haplotypes, compared with haplotypes of other people throughout the world, revealed that India's ancient populations probably came first from Africa. Later waves of settlement came from people who shared genetic similarities with populations in South Central Asia and East Asia. These groups remained genetically distinct, and the linguistic history of India suggests they spoke languages with dramatically different origins. Nevertheless, it appears there was a good deal of intermarriage, which shows up in genomes of people who possess genetic sequences typical of two or more haplotypes.
But then there is a sea change about 1,500 years ago. At that time, the researchers note:
The reign of the ardent Gupta rulers, known as the age of Vedic Brahminism, was marked by strictures laid down in Dharmasastra—the ancient compendium of moral laws and principles for religious duty and righteous conduct to be followed by a Hindu—and enforced through the powerful state machinery of a developing political economy.
Especially among the upper castes, endogamy was the only legal option. People had to marry within their castes. And suddenly, we no longer see signs of intermixing between different groups. The researchers were able to measure exactly when endogamy became the rule of the land by looking at subtle shifts in haplotype sequences. With each generation, these sequences are cut into smaller pieces via recombination between chromosomes.
The researchers report there is a startlingly sudden shift where genetic mixing seems to stop. If a person has genetic material from two haplotypes—let's call them Hap1 and Hap2—a shift to endogamy causes far more recombination events in Hap1 than in Hap2. That's because future generations stop intermarrying with people from the Hap1 haplotype, yet they keep getting new copies of the Hap2 haplotype. This keeps Hap2 intact while recombination constantly breaks up the Hap1s.
Using a common system for extrapolating generations from genetic recombination, the researchers estimated "all upper-caste populations, except [one] from Northeast India, started to practice endogamy about 70 generations ago... This time estimate belongs to the latter half of the period when the Gupta emperors ruled large tracts of India (Gupta Empire, 319–550 CE)." This genetic shift was most marked among the upper castes who spoke Indo-European languages. Other groups appeared to have stopped intermarrying much later.
By identifying five ancestral populations among contemporary Indians, the researchers have revealed that Indians today are more genetically diverse than we've realized. But they have also shown that social shifts can dramatically affect a nation's genomes. The caste system has consequences that affect people all the way down to their DNA.
The findings of the study can be read here: