Much has been written and discussed about the untouchables in contemporary India but almost nothing about their emergence, visibility and eventual degradation in society. The present study undertakes the ardous task of finding out from hitherto unexplored bibliographical sources the relevant questions like, who were the most powerful people; when, why, and how could they bring others under their control?
It starts with the Rgveda, the earlier written materials regarding India and attempts to describe the emergence, crystallization and ultimate discrimination of untouchables in India. The study continues upto C. AD 200 when the exact Sanskrit word asprsya appeared for untouchables replacing other words like "unclean", impure", etc.
In this edition several topics have been discussed with more details. Comparison has also been made with similar phenomena in other countries to show that untouchability in India was not unusual. What however was unusual is that with untouchability becoming a taboo it became viable and therefore more difficult to eradicate from society.
About the Author:
PRABHATI MUKHERJEE (b. 1920) obtained the degree of D.Phil. from Humboldt-University, Berlin. She had the opportunity of studying and working under the late Professor Walter Ruben. He greatly influenced her in the study and interpretation of social history of ancient India, mainly from the Sanskrit texts.
Mukherjee has been interested in two areas of ancient India-the status of women and the marginal groups in society. Besides numerous academic papers published in India and abroad, her first book entitledHindu Women: Normative Models, was brought out by Orient Longman in 1978 and revised and enlarged in 1994.
Preface to the Second Edition
Chapter I: Conflict, Cooperation and Coexistence Materials from sacred literature
Chapter II:Identification, Rejection and Segregation Materials from sacred and technical, non-Hindu and non-Indian source (a)Evidence from sacred and technical literature (b)Evidence from non-Hindu sources (c)Evidence from non-Indian sources
Chapter III: Where and how did they live:
Chapter IV: Summing Up
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