Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

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(10,336 words)

The term “caste,” as well as “caste system,” is commonly used to describe the social organization peculiar to India and most of South Asia. Typically, society here is divided into a number of named groups or communities that are ranked and, to a considerable extent, occupationally specialized. Membership of a caste is hereditary, and the groups are largely endogamous. A number of attempts have been made to define caste or caste systems more closely. Since each definition presupposes a particular…

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Tambs-Lyche, Harald, “Caste”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 29 January 2022 <>
First published online: 2018

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