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.