rank inside the varna scheme.
TRANSFORMATION OF JATIS INTO STATUS-MARKED
In regional societies, many jati groups got transformed into collections of
status-marked ethnic groups in Indo-Persian cultural ranks that crossed
religious lines. This process marks another feature of the early modernity
that emerges under the Mughals. A modern style of government
standardisation begins with Akbar. The imperial monetary system made
Mughal India a new kind of economic region. The spread of Mughal
authority gave India its political identity for Europeans who came to
generate world markets for Indian products and integrate India into a
global economy that spanned the Atlantic and Pacific.
In this perspective, centuries of Indo-Persian cultural prominence contain
both medieval and modern aspects. Textual evidence also indicates a
transition to modern forms of social description and social order. Both the
Ain-i-Akbari and early nineteenth century English census enumerations list
caste (jati) groups alongside other groups that are not defined by varna,
but rather by language, religion, occupation and native place.
The term jati came to denote a specifically Indian style of multi-cultural
ethnic identity. The term could denote virtually any type, category or
group of people with similar characteristics, who tended to inter-marry,
live together, engage in similar customs, worship alike, dress alike, eat
similar food, speak alike and be represented by group leaders. Thus,
diverse kinds of groups like Iranians, Brahmins, Christians, Armenians,
Biharis and Firangis (Europeans) became jatis.
The term “caste” came to mean an ethnic group with a ranked position in
social relations. “Caste” comes from the Portuguese casta, which takes no
account of varna, but does encode ranks among status groups. When
Akbar engaged in ethnic politics, he explicitly balanced Afghans, Persians,
Turks, Rajputs, Indian Muslims, Jats and other jatis, because in his
cultural scene, any honour bestowed on any individual always carried
implications for the entire ethnic group to which that person belonged.
In cultural regions of ethnic ranking that emerged from the Mughal