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Tribe and caste :

Although tribe, caste, sects, racial group and class are the
various types of social groups found in India , it is the caste and the
tribe which dominate,the former among primitive communities and
the later in hindu society when one looks in to the definition given by
various anthropologists, one is bound to be impressed by the
dissimilarity of as regard what constitutes atribe. Kinship ties, common
territory, one language, joint ownership,one political organisation have
all been referred toas the main characteristics of a tribe.
Majumdar defined the tribe as a social group with territorial affiliation,
endogamous, with no specialization of function, ruled by tribal officers,
herriditary 0r otherwise, united in language dialect, recognizing social
obloquy attaching to them , as it does in caste stucture , following tribal
traditional belifes and customs, above all conscious of a homogenety of
ethenic and territorial intigration.
Max weber in his celebrated essay on social structures regards an
indian tribe as converted into an indian caste when it loses territorial
meaning and significance. He also poin out that, whereaswithin atribe
there may be difference of rank and status, all member of caste have
one common rank.
Group dynamics:
From very early times there has been a gradual and silent change
from tribe to caste. This change has taken in a number of ways and it is
bellieved that most of the lower and exterior caste of today were
formally tribes. Actually the earliest reference to hindu caste system
mention three aryan caste and a fourth, or fourth and a fifth of sudras

and chandala comprised of dark skinned , noseless tribal people.this


process of tribes into caste has ,therefore, proceeded ever since the
coming of the aryan speaking people in india. (T.N Madan).

The phrase People who have lost contact permits of no interpretation


other than the assumption that Indian so called aboriginals represents
splinter groups separated from the bulk of hindu society by historic
accident. Dumont has never pursued this hypothesis in detail, but his
frequently asserted insistence on the fundamental of homogeneity of
indian civilization seems to discount the possibility that most tribal
population have their roots in cultural strata basicly distinct from the
sphere of hindu society which encompasses majority of Indians.
Several times tribes are explicitly contrasted to hindu society . Thus
Dumont compare what happens in the case of death among the
hindus with what in atribe. And remark that hindu notion of impurity
is distinct from the notion of danger attributed to tribes. Further he
says the tribal chiefe is taboo i.e, dangerous for common people
whereas the Brahman is vulnerable to pollution by an iferior. These
statement applies precisely to the position of a Konyak Naga chief,
whose supernatural powers are belived to be pottentially dangerous to
persons of less exalted status, but who is not vulnerable to pollution by
such inferiors as his concubines of low class, who may cook for him
without diminishing his sacredness.
Among the konyak nagas, for intance , there is a clear division between
commoners and priviledged aristocratic class which furnishes
powerful autocratic chiefs. Within the chiefly class there is a
distinction between those who have preseved the noble blood

undiluted and the issue from the unions of chiefs women of


commner status. The succession in aruling house is confined to
the sons of the chief whose mother is of the hieghest chiefly rank
and in the absennce of an heir acceptable by this standered a
member of a colleteral lineage ma be brought in from another
village. The strtification of the koneyak nobility resulting from
hypergamous marriage resembles closely the familier division of
the Rana family of nepal into A B andC class Rnas, a systemization
of status-distinction within a high hidu caste determined by
similar cosideration. Culturally and structurally, the head-hunting
Koneyak Nagas and the shophesticated Chetri nobility of nepal are
poles appart but the menifestation of the hierarchic principale are
remarkably similar in both the society.