Brill's Encyclopedia of Jainism Online

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Our starting point must be the ancient Brahmanical system of hereditary classes known as varṇas. While it is not quite the same thing as caste, as will be seen, some initial knowledge of the varṇa system is crucial to a full understanding of caste in India, be it among Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, or others. The Jains accept the system in part but reject its Brahmanical justifications, and to understand the Jain view, we must know something of what they are rejecting.

The earliest reference to the vara system is fou…

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Babb, Lawrence A., “Caste”, in: Brill's Encyclopedia of Jainism Online, Edited by: John E. Cort, Denison University, Paul Dundas, University of Edinburgh, Knut A. Jacobsen, University of Bergen, Kristi L. Wiley, University of California, Berkeley. Consulted online on 20 September 2019 <>
First published online: 2019
First print edition: 20180409

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