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Candalas: Untouchability and Caste in Early India

Vivekanand Jha (Author)

This volume is a collection of essays on untouchability written by Professor Jha at various points of his long and illustrious career. It dwells on the manner in which social stratification in ancient India developed to exclude castes like Candalas and Nisadas, leading to their exploitation and sub-human treatment. The book begins with tracing the origin and condition of Candalas (1000 BC to AD 600), who were first mentioned in later Vedic literature (1000 to 600 BC) at the Purushamedha (symbolic human sacrifice) dedicated to deity Vayu. Another essay examines the acculturation of the Nisadas-who were mainly fishermen and hunters by profession-which started from the Later Vedic Period. Candalas and Nisadas were both over time assimilated into the Brahmanical caste structure as degraded shudras, and ultimately relegated to being untouchables. The book also examines the Bhagavadgita and Asoka's Dhamma from the perspective of caste and untouchability. It provides key insights into the origin and growth of the caste system, especially untouchability, extending beyond the brahmanical lens. It is a valuable addition to the study of early Indian social history and social structures.

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About the author

Vivekanand Jha

Vivekanand Jha, former Director, Indian Council of Historical Research, edited the Indian Historical Review (20 vols, 1974-94), making it India's most substantive historical jorunal. He also edited Itihas (Hindi), Vols I-III (1992-94), and co-edited Indian Society: istorical Probings (1974), as well as the Journal of Studies on Ancient India (1998) of the World Association for Vedic studies. One area of his scholarly interest has been the early history of the Untochables (the theme of his doctoral thesis, 1972), on which he has published several papers. He has also published studies of the Bhagavadgita. In 1990 he presided over the Ancient Indian section of the Indian History Congress.

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Bibliographic information

Title Candalas: Untouchability and Caste in Early India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 23.10.2017
Edition 1st. ed.
Publisher Primus Books
Language: English
isbn 9789386552556
length 262p.