came to be known as Rajputs.
    Again in the Gupta and post-Gupta periods proliferation of castes took
place in another form. Increasing land grants were connected with the decline
of trade and of towns. Since local needs were met locally, artisans and traders
lost mobility. As a result occupations became hereditary and came to be
converted into artisanal castes. Thus in the late ancient period there came into
existence favourable conditions for the growth of the Jati or caste system.
Practice of Varna System
The concept of varna has been held by a good number of scholars to have
been largely a theoretical model and never an actual description of society.
Our information on the varna concept comes largely from the ancient Indian
Brahmanical law books (Dharmasastras), and the description of it in these
sources is not always corroborated, in fact it is occasionally even
contradicted, by other sources.
    The terminology used for the varnas has its own interest. The terms
‘Brahmin’ and ‘Vaishya’ are used more in the sense of people with particular
vocations. But the terms ‘Rajanya’ (and later Kshatriya) and ‘Sudras’ are
either tribal names or words qualifying a category of tribes. The existence of
the Rajanya tribe is attested by both literary (for instance Panini’s
Ashtadhyayi) and numismatic sources of the ancient period. The occupational
term ‘Rajanya’, meaning a member of the royal family or a noble, may be an
extended meaning of the original term derived from the tribe with an
oligarchic system. However, identification of the Sudras with a tribe poses no
problem whatsoever. For it is explicitly stated in a variety of literary sources,
such as the Mahabharata, Indica of Megasthenes, Patanjali’s Mahabhashya
and several Puranas. The varna category of Sudras may have originated from
the low status of this tribe vis-a-vis aryan society. The fact that the status of
the Sudras was low is clearly indicated by their association with the Nisada,
the Abhira and the Malla.
    That the listing of varna occupations in the Manu Smriti was largely
theoretical is suggested by the large number of instances provided by non-
Dharmasastra sources of occupations directly conflicting with those
legitimised by the varna theory. The survival of caste is, therefore, partly