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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 1104Book's First Page
too, as stated in the Vishudharmottarapurana, thousands of mixed castes were produced through union between Vaishya women and men of lower castes. It was, however, a “hypothetical explanation of the increasing caste groups in the society” and the real reason for the proliferation of castes lay in the continuous process of acculturation, which brought new areas and new social groups within caste society. Even such groups as specifically mentioned to have been non-indigenous—the Khasas and the Hunas being two contemporary examples—came to claim high caste status. Regional Differentiation among Brahmins Among the brahmins too arose differentiation based on regions. Numerous early medieval epigraphs indicate special social prestige attaching to such regional castes as Kanauj Brahmins, Gauda Brahmins, Kolanca Brahmins and so on. In fact, localism became so strong in the period that special importance was attached even to gramachara. Some of those epigraphs highlight grama as the basic territorial unit of social organisation. EMERGENCE OF NEW CASTES New entrants into caste society had, however, varied status and even the same tribe could break up into several varnas and castes. The Abhiras, for example, came to be grouped into brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas, mahasudras and so on. Some entrants were ranked as impure sudras and the period witnesses “a phenomenal growth in the number of impure sudras or untouchables”. In the higher echelons too, new castes emerged. New professions such as that of a scribe rendering his service to various categories of court gave rise to the Kayasthas. In north India, among the chieftains arose a new category, that of the Rajaputras or Rajputs. By about the twelfth-thirteenth century AD, the number of Rajput clans in western India had been standardised as thirty-six, but the structure was flexible and provided sufficient scope for mobility among ruling elites, as can be seen in the inclusion of the tribal Medas among the Rajaputras. Theoretically, as in the Varnaratnakara, the Rajaputra concept extended to the south also.