Caste Sytem III

1. As I have said before, my hypothesis is meant to guide the research and, as such, suggests that we find that the Brahmins will exhibit more of a heterarchical organization than a hierarchical one. Let us assume that what you say is true. In that case, this anomaly (or these anomalies) will become the problem(s) that my hypothesis has to solve. That is, the hypothesis will force one to look for an explanation in multiple directions: for instance, have these hierarchies emerged due to induction of new groups and individuals in the course of history? (That means, this hypothesis forces one to probe the truth of the statement that once one is born into a jati, there is no way of moving to another Jati. The Madhva conversion in South India has disproved it but no one I know has taken this fact into consideration.) Who were the majority jati’s in the area and what was the nature of interaction between these Brahmin groups and other Jati’s? And so on. In other words, each anomaly we confront forces further research. There is always the possibility that my research hypothesis will crumble under the weight of accumulated anomalies but that is not the case yet. At the moment, they merely call for further research.

2. Second, my hypothesis suggests that both hierarchical and heterarchical organizations flourished in India and that ‘the social structure’ consisted of mechanisms that allowed both organizations to interact with each other, reproduce themselves and expand. In the course of interactions between two groups, as I have already mentioned, groups will borrow many things from one another, including forms of organization. This means that my hypothesis does not forbid the existence of some hierarchical upper caste groups in certain regions and sub-regions in India. But it does predict some kind of visible uniformity. Only research can tell us whether this uniformity is there or not. Anecdotes help, to be sure, but they do not decide the case.

3. The above point stands to reason because no central authority ‘imposed’ a specific form of social organization in India. This means that groups organized themselves ‘spontaneously’: many discovering the same forms of organizations on their own, others borrowing from others, others through modification of what emerged, and so on. In other words, we would expect to find multiple empirical combinations throughout India. This too, says the hypothesis, is something that is to be expected. Consequently, this hypothesis becomes sensitive to the historical, changing and dynamic nature of the structure of group organizations. There will be no changeless, static ‘caste system’ to be found in India. Yet, some general trends will emerge and the hypothesis also directs one’s attention towards them.

4. At the moment, you must remember, I am simply suggesting that we map hierarchy and heterarchy onto one single axis, namely, ‘Madi’ or ‘purity’. We also need to define further axes: perhaps, power, authority, lineage etc should also be used to define hierarchy and heterarchy. At this moment, I am merely proposing the next step of research along one axis. Only after a few years of sustained fieldwork in multiple parts of India would we be able to say something more concrete about it. This is not the only kind of research that requires doing: we need to dig into the historical archives, read about the nature of human organizations, study archaeological records, and so on. All that my hypothesis can do at the moment is to propose a course of enquiry that none is following.