February 19, 2010
Jati, Sangha, Gana and Sreni
I must first emphasize that I am not in favour of Jati system as such. However, I, being a student of history, get amused and amazed on learning that when it is claimed that times are changing and old things are dying out and new things are replacing. I till this day have not understood the actual meaning of Jati. I am called Brahmin. There are suggestions and expectation for being a Brahmin to behave in an expected manner. However, I find that many Brhamins do not follow what they preach. I find the same things in case of other Jatis.
I am not sure those who say that old is dying out and new things are replacing, do actually know that what is dying and being replaced by new. The democratic processes had changed the political arena of human life. The stories about Monarchies are now dumped in untouched titles of history books. The family system is loosing its actual efficacy and marriage system has been reduced to a social contract attended by legal mechanism. A new factor of technology is bringing out more radical and extreme paradigm shift even in the democratic world. Even new is dying out faster than the old one but no body knows what actually is dying out and what new is replacing them.
Anyhow, I came across a book, which was a Thesis published in form of a book by a name in history books of India and it is 'Corporate Life in Ancient India' by R. C. Majumdar. I found in introduction a highly arresting hypothesis which just grabbed my attention and soothed me at some subconscious level. I am not going to pass any judgement. Being a student of history, I have learnt that it is foolish to pass a judgement. The best way to treat a fact as a fact as given in a language medium is to keep on visiting it again and again with keeping alive a question or query still the actual truth behind the fact as given in a language dawns upon your perception or the mental eye. Say it cognition or perception, as you like but here I am reproducing the lines from the book which requires attention by the world of scholars.
“The spirit of co-operation was a marked feature in almost all fields of activity in ancient India and was manifest in social and religious as well as in political and economic life. The well-known ' Jati (caste)and the Samgha (the community of the Buddhist monks) are the most notable products of this spirit in the first two spheres of life. The same spirit, however, played an equally important part in the remaining ones, and its effect may be seen typified in Gana (political corporation) and Sreni (guild)."
Quoted from Corporate Life in Ancient India by R. C. Majumdar, 1920. pp 1-2.