hierarchy established. The concept    of varna as a form of social stratification
texts. There is a difference of opinion among scholars on the precise social
roles of varna and jati.
    A study of the origin of caste should go beyond the description of the
varnas in the Vedic corpus and of Indo-European beginnings. It should
involve an investigation of factors relating to environment, kinship patterns,
access to economic resources and the role of religious ideology, all of which
are significant to the evolving of caste. The roots of the system may go back
to societies prior to those described in the Vedic texts and therefore, known
to us from excavations in northern India. The earlier standard works on caste
and its history have therefore, to be seen from a fresh perspective. More
recent studies of caste have attempted to present new formulations,
particularly that of viewing caste as an Indian social organisation extending
over time. Some scholars have emphasised the dimensions of kinship. This is
particularly important in the functioning of jati and continues to be so in later
times as well.
    Jati derives its meaning from the root jan, to be born, and therefore, the
patterns of kinship relations are of primary importance to caste organisation
and these patterns have regional variations. Jati carries an element of the kind
of stratification associated with kin-based societies such as pre-state tribes
and chiefdoms prior to the class stratification often linked to state societies.
The hierarchy or the splitting up or the aggregating of such groups may have
influenced jati hierarchies. To this would be added control over productive
resources as an avenue to power. To argue that jatis emerged from the
breaking up of varnas is perhaps too simplistic. The two systems, the varna
seeking ritual legitimacy and jati based on kin-relations, were apparently
fused together.
Political Transformation The janas go back to Rigvedic times, but there
are references in the later texts to larger groups resulting from the coalition
and the confederating of individual janas, such as the Kurus or the Panchalas.
The Vedic raja gradually evolved into a king, an evolution which involved
the transformation of the rajanya into the kshatriya, a term which has its root
in kshatra or power and occurs frequently in later Vedic texts. The
heightening of power is also associated with the performance of elaborate
sacrificial rituals such as the rajasuya, the asvamedha and the vajapeya. It
was through these rituals that