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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 1099Book's First Page
alliances with brahmins and kings. In other words, dominant castes came to control local communities in dynastic territories. The extension of caste society seems to have been a process that did not necessitate daily coercion. It appeared as an evolving caste hegemony in which the coercive features were concealed by beliefs in dharma that came to have wide acceptance as they offered everyone a place in the social ranks. Incorporation of New Groups in Caste Hierarchy The spread of jati ranking as a characteristic of social life appears to have been driven by ritual alliances among upwardly mobile groups. New dynastic domains were places where the construction of ranking systems made good sense. Dynastic lineage leaders and brahmins were important actors in building these systems of social difference, status, ranks and power. New societies came to incorporate new social groups and institutions created around models of behaviour, identity, aesthetics and patronage codified in Sanskrit texts as these were interpreted locally by brahmins who sanctified social rank. Rising families engaged brahmin genealogists and court poets, patronised brahmins and temples, provided feeding places for mendicants and pilgrimages, staged festivals, fed saints, and variously joined in activities that brought gods, priests, kings and farmers into communion. People moved up in society by supporting and imitating brahmins. EMERGENCE OF DOMINANT AGRARIAN CASTES All this took place as farmers extended their control over land and labour and as populations of peasants, nomads, pastoralists, hunters and forest tribes were slowly obtaining new social identities. Over many generations, people became high caste landowners, kings, protectors of dharma, kshatriyas, vaisyas, superior sudras, inferior sudras, untouchables, and aliens beyond the pale. Dominant agrarian castes came into existence in different regions: Jats, Rajputs, Kunbis, Vellalas, Velamas, Reddys, Kapus, Nayars and many others. In this extended process, ancient identities vanished. The Hoysala kings, for instance, were descendants of Melapas (hill chiefs in the Soseyur forests), whereas the Yadava and Wodeyar dynasties descended from herders. Gurjaras and Rajputs had once been pastoral nomads.