THE MODERN LOW CASTES In the Punjab Himalayas the Hinduism is of a primitive type and presumably caste is so likewise. Here we find the Dagi, also commonly called Koli, and in the higher mountainous regions Betus, while those who have taken to any specific trade are styled barhai, carpenter, dhogri, iron-smelters, pumba, woolcomber, and barara, basket maker, etc., and these names stick to families long after they have abandoned these crafts. These families do not form castes. Probably Chamars and Lohars are merely Dagis who once took to such trades as the tanner's and smith's, though in some parts a Dagi will not eat with the former or marry with the latter, even though he will eat the flesh of bears and monkeys and all, except the Lohar, that of cattle which have died a natural death. The term Dagi seems to be derived from dog, a blemish, and a Dagi is always below the Kanet and the Ghirth, the yeoman or cultivating castes of these hills. But inter se his status has varied and is varying. It depends for example on religious influences as round about the temple of Nirmand the Kolis will only marry with a family of Koli tanners who still style themselves Dagis also but refrain from touching dead cattle.
Kolis.—But the Kolis are still more numerous than the Dagis. The term Koli indeed is used in three distinct. senses. The old Rajas of Kulu were known as Koli Rajas, and it appears to be in fact a territorial name; secondly it denotes the Dagi just de scribed, and, in Chamba, the Sippi. Thirdly it is used of Chamars in the south-east plains of the Punjab who have taken to weaving. Of the term Koli several explanations are given. It is supposed to be derived from kulin, "degraded from a family," i.e., of SUdra status and so on; just as the Dagi is said to be a degraded off shoot of the Kolis. In one part of the hills sumptuary rules restrain the Kolis and Dagis from wearing gold and using certain instru ments of music; in the lower hills both castes may use them, though Chamars may not, and a Dagi who makes shoes becomes a Chamar. Further the Kolis are divided into two classes, the true (sacha) Kolis from whose hands water may be taken by higher castes ; and the rest. Another tale divides the Kanets from the Dagoli and Thakur, the latter descended from a Kanet who killed a bullock in a passion, and were degraded a degree further because they eat and drink with Muslims. Further local sub divisions exist, distinguished one from another by local customs. At some time or other the Kolis probably obtained caste promo tion which took the form of sumptuary privileges granted by the local Rajas or chieftains for services rendered.
Batwals.—Westward, in and near Chamba State, the position of the Dagis is held by the Batwals who in the Kangra hills form a true caste. The term is said to mean "tax collector," and every one so employed is thus styled, but a true Batwal is probably a Barwala, a maker of winnowing fans and mats, who was enlisted as a soldier and in the lower hills the latter term is applied to a man of any low caste employed as a watchman or messenger, an other name for him being satwag, "bearer of burdens," or kirauk "convener of men for forced labour." But as soon as we reach the plains we find the occupational Barwalas forming a caste though each section of them has its own temple, merely a mound of earth at which sacrifice is offered in the eldest son's honour. Although both the castes are Hindus they do not employ Brahmans but Meghs at weddings. The Batwal tradition is that they are de scended from a Raja's daughter who went astray and was married by a Chuhra, the lowest caste, and that the name is really Betwal, "son of a daughter," but in Chamba they claim descent from a deified ascetic.
Meghs.—The Meghs are numerous in Sialkot and ramify all along the borders of Jammu (Kashmir) into the submontane. Among them caste feeling is strong and attempts have been made to raise the standing of the fraternity by avoiding the use of dead animals and so on. Employing Brahmans of a low degree the Meghs also have prayer-sayers of their own and being by occupa tion largely weavers affect the cult of Kabir; indeed further to the westward megh seems to be a synonym for Julaha, "weaver" ; but they have also a priest of their own and his decision is final in social as well as on religious points and he has local agents. There are also two superior sections which hold aloof from the mass of the caste. It is impossible to say whether the Barwalas and Meghs are by origin occupational. Probably they are so, but their posi tion all along this borderland from the inner high ranges down into the plains at their feet, suggests that they are debris of sup pressed races or fragments of ancient states which have preserved something of their primitive pride.
Central Provinces.—In the Central Provinces we have a more developed system of caste among the lower strata. Occupation is the real basis of the divisions and social precedence of the castes down to the lowest. Thus the Udia Ghasias are not merely grass cutters, but cure raw hides and do scavengers' work and are looked down on by other Ghasias. The Pardhis or "sportsmen" are di vided into Shikaris who use firearms ; Phansas, who use snares ; Chitewalas, who tame leopards; and Gayakas who employ bullocks to stalk game. The sub-caste of Dhimars, "fishermen," are Singaria who grow waternuts, Tankiwala who sharpen grindstones, Jhingar or prawn catchers, Bansia or Saraia, "anglers," and others. Nowhere is difference of occupation more active, yet other factors also operate. The Gohardhua Chamars wash out the undigested grain from the droppings of cattle to eat, and the Chungia group of the Satnami Chamars to whom smoking is prohibited, use the chongi or leaf pipe; the Nagle, or naked, Khonds wear only a negligible amount of clothes and the Makaria Kamars eat mon keys : and all are despised. The taint of illicit birth is also a fre quent cause of a new, more or less temporary, group within the caste. But as a rule a new subcaste subsists and among the Kum hars the hand-using potters are still separate from those who use the wheel, though hand-made pottery is now unknown. Lastly we find groups adopted into other, even lower, castes, such as the Kor-Chamars, Koris, "weavers," received into the Chamars, "tan i:ers"; Khatri Chhipas, Khatris admitted into the dyers and print ers ; and similar groups in the Dangris and tailors, probably owing a similar origin. We do not, however, find caste so much in proc ess of formation as already formed though the Satnami Chamars of one district are now endogamous, the Kabir-panthis only tend to be so.
The Naiyadis, or hunters, of Malabar are the dog-eaters and the lowest of the Hindu castes. Miserable specimens of humanity, they used to be excellent shots, but the Arms Act deprived them of their weapons and they now work at rope-making, slings, mats and so on, with occasional cultivation. Yet they have succession in the male line and adultery is abhorrent to them. Some have been converted to Christianity and others to Islam, the latter maintain themselves by begging from Mohammedans. Their chief priest, Muppon, is hereditary. He enquires into all matters affect ing the community and can excommunicate a guilty person.
In the Central Provinces the subdivision of labour is well ex emplified. Objection is taken to the growing of hemp and so Kur mis who descend to it form the Santora (from san, "hemp") sub caste, and so on. The Indian madder-dye (al) is likewise offen sive on account of its blood-like product, so we have Alia sub castes of the Kachhis, who grow vegetables, and of the Banias. Similarly Barais grow the betel-vine, and various groups of the Malis, "gardeners," specialize in flowers, cumin and turmeric. The arts of weaving also divide castes. Thread is spun by a special caste, the Katias. Cotton is cleaned by the Mohammedan Bahnas, and coarse cloth is woven by groups of the low castes, such as the Mahars, Gcndas and Koris; while the finer kinds are again the work of separate castes, the Patwas embroidering in silk and braid; Tantis ; Koshtis, the latter having a separate sub-caste of Salewars, "silk-weavers." Metal workers and even bangle-makers are divided on identical lines.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.-Sir H. H. Risley, The People of India (1915). Bibliography.-Sir H. H. Risley, The People of India (1915). Ethnographic Survey of India:—R. E. Enthoven, Tribes and Castes of Bombay (Bombay 192o) ; H. A. Rose, Tribes and Castes of the Punjab (Lahore) ; R. V. Russell, Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces (London, 1916), and E. Thurston, Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909, Madras). The volumes for the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Rajputana, etc., have not yet been published. Sir D. C. J. Ibbetson, Punjab Castes (reprint, Lahore, 1916). The Census Reports, Imperial and Provincial, for 5905, 1911, 1921, also contain much valuable information. (H. A. R.)