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 varṇa system is found in a…

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Babb, Lawrence A., “Caste”, in: Brill's Encyclopedia of Jainism Online, Denison University University of Edinburgh University of Bergen University of California, Berkeley John E. Cort, Paul Dundas, Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristi L. Wiley. Consulted online on 29 June 2022 <>
First published online: 2020

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