Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh (early history)

by Prakash Narayan | 2011 | 63,517 words

This study deals with the history of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh (Northern India) taking into account the history and philosophy of Buddhism. Since the sixth century B.C. many developments took place in these regions, in terms of society, economic life, religion and arts and crafts....

Jati is only one of the several concepts found in the texts which ascribe status on account of birth. Like the kula, jati is also resolved into khattiya, brahmana, vessa and sudda groups.[1] The Vinaya elsewhere states that there are two jatis the low jati (hina jati) and the excellent jati (ukatta jati). The excellent jatis are the khattiya and the brahmana.[2] On another occasion also there are said to be two jatis, the high (ucca) and the low (nica), and they are resolved into the khattiya, bramana, vessa, sudda, candala and pukkusaka jatis respectively.[3]

The Buddha attributes the third grouping based on jati to his contemporary Purana Kassapa. There are six jatis as far as the opinion of Purana Kassapa is concerned. The first one is the black jati (kanhabhi jati) and consists of mutton butchers (orabhika), pork butchers (sukarika), fowlers (sakunika), hunters (magavika), violent men (buddha), fishermen (macchaghataka) robbers (cora), robber-killers (cora-ghataka), jailers (bandhanagarika) and all who follow a bloody trade (kururakammanta). The blue jati (nilabhi jati) consists of: bhikkus who live as thought with a thorn in the side (kantakavuttika) and all other who profess the deed and doing theory (kammaada kiriyavada). The red jati (halidd abhi jati) consists of white robed householders (gihi odatavasana) and followers of naked ascetics (acelaka savaka). ajivakas and their followers are the white jati (sukkabhi jati). The purest white jati consists of the ajivaka leaders, Nanda Vaccha, Kisa sankicca and Makkhali Gosala.[4] However, the Buddha refutes the six-fold groupings made by Purana Kassapa and maintains that there are two jatis the black and the white. These are decided by birth since the black jatis may breed a black one or white one and white jati may do the same.

The grouping made through the use of the concept of jati is interesting in many ways. The foremost one is that it recognizes the two-fold division of the society, the low and high, the low and excellent, and the black and white. The Buddha uses the last division to refute the concept of jati in the matters of spititual attainments. In doing so the Buddha expressly recognizes the operation of jati-gotta in social interaction.

Footnotes and references:






Ibid., III.383-84.

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