He is not too low” (Srinivas, 1955,

He defines the
term ‘dominant caste’ as, “A caste may be said to be “dominant” when
it preponderates numerically over the other castes, and when it also wields
preponderant economic and political power. A large and powerful caste group can
be more easily dominant if its position in the local caste hierarchy is not too
low” (Srinivas, 1955, p.18). It is interesting to note that he was unconsciously
influenced by the Caste Hindu’s identity throughout his work. The work,
“Dominant Caste and Other Essays” is a study on Rampura village in south India and
it could be viewed as a collection of fallacious narratives instituted to
construct a sound base for Sanskritization. It is so because he says “by a
strange quirk of fate all the three copies of my fieldwork notes, processed
over a period of eighteen years” were in my study at the Centre when a fire was
started by arsonists” (Srinivas, 1992) which is mentioned
in his work “The Remembered Village”. For Srinivas, everything destroyed
could be extracted from his flashback to corroborate his theoretical framework
without evidence or data.  It is not a surprise
for the readers because it has also happened in his another
work titled “Religion and Society Among the Coorgs” (1952).


According to
Srinivas, Dominant caste in Ramapura are peasants owing to the facts that they
are numerically higher, economically sound and politically powerful. They hold
the power over the lands. But they are Shudras, ranked fourth in the caste
hierarchy below the Brahmins. They are ritually lower than the Brahmins and the
dominant castes are found only in traditional villages. His conceptualisation
of dominant caste may in fact be resembled to Forrest’s study on ‘Ruling Class’
of Africa (Forrest, 1987).

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

It could be observed further is, hat while developing the concept, he was insentient
influenced by Pritchard’s observation on dominant clans and dominant lineage among
the Nuer people (Beidelman, Thomas
Owen. & Evans-Pritchard, E. E, 1971). 


Srinivas observes that, “the
ritual rank of Peasants is not very high. While they do rank above the
Untouchables and such low castes as the Swineherd, they are well below Brahmins
and Lingayats” (Srinivas, 1995, p.98).  It means, the dominant caste may act
as an ideal model to the lower caste group. He emphasizes that although the
dominant castes have had some characteristics of numerical, economic or
political elements, their lower ritual rank indicates tthe Brahmanic
complex of ritual superiority in the caste hierarchy. Therefore, lower caste
people imitate upper caste’s behaviour, ritual pattern, customs etc. In other
words, he meant indirectly that Untouchables don’t have customs alike the Caste
Hindus has. To recall, they undergo the process of Sanskritization for being a part
of the dominant castes having a higher ritual ranking. To describe the concept
Sanskritization is “A
low caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the
hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritizing its
ritual and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs,
rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and the adoption of the Brahminic way of
life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically
forbidden.” (Srinivas, 1952, p. 29). In this way, they help in cultural dissemination.


notion of dominant caste echoes that the peasants are Shudras and they are never
supposed to be hold land and but they do with their political, economic and
numerical dominance. It is obvious with his statement that,

the last fifty years or more, the dominance of Peasants has increased in
Rampura. The available evidence indicates that in the early years of this century
Brahmins owned a considerable quantity of irrigated land in the village. The
Brahmins were the first to sense the new economic opportunities opened to them
through Western education, and they gradually moved to the towns to enter the new
white-collar professions. Urban living, the cost of educating children, and the
high dowries which the new education and economic opportunities had brought
about, gradually caused the Brahmins to part with their land. Much of this land
passed to non-Brahmins, especially the Peasants, during the years 1900-1948 (Srinivas, 1995,

His general argument about
the presence of dominant caste being not particular to Rampura but generally
everywhere in India is dubious; such as in Mysore the Lingayat and Okkaliga; in
Maharashtra, Maratha; in Tamilnadu, Gounder, Padayachi and Mudaliar; in Andhra
Pradesh, Reddy and Kamma; in Kerala, Nayar or Nair; in Gujarat, Patidar; and in
northern India, Rajput, Jat, Giyar and Ahir are dominant castes.  In his work, it appears that it was a feudal
zamindari system pursuantly rooted in rural India. It is obvious that they were
not Shudras or Brahmins (Aggarwal, 2009). For
instance, the Nairs of Kerala is not a lower caste but they are upper caste in
the hierarchy. Their hierarchical position is equated to the brahmins or kshatriyas
according to the Hindu social order.


His binary
approach towards the high castes as ‘native’ and low castes as ‘aliens’ or
‘internal others’ habitually reflects in his work. To quote Srinivas’s

“At the end
of World War I, most of the important posts in the Government of Mysore were
held by Brahmins, and Non-Brahmin leaders realized that they must get Western
education if they wanted position and power. Agitation was started for the
institution of scholarships to help non-Brahmin youths study in schools and colleges,
for reservation of seats for non-Brahmins in medical and technological
colleges, and for preference in appointments to government posts. The
non-Brahmin agitation succeeded, and gradually a number of rules discriminating
against the Brahmins were evolved by the Government of Mysore. As a result of
these measures there has come into existence since the late thirties a Western-educated
non-Brahmin intelligentia” (Srinivas, 1995, p.98-99).