Interest in caste as well as the sects of India has increasingly been in evidence among sociologists and anthropologists all over the world. Books on caste are generally descriptions of some of the features of the institutions as observed in some part of India by the authors. Books written on the same subject by earlier historians or anthropologists generally partook of the character of encyclopedic notes, alphabetically arranged, of the origin, division and distribution of various castes in different provinces of India.
In both these cases, the details furnished were generally of an objective character and they had their own value, even when the questions asked were of rather limited range. The present book, first published in 1896, however, retains till today its essential interest and worth because it, firstly, comes from a trained jurist and, secondly, from one who has the President of Brahmin Sabha of Bengal. The author was fully conversant with the traditional, i.e., Shastric aspects of the system with which many social scientist are not so familiar today. This knowledge helped him specially to assign authoritatively the rank of different castes and of different occupations in Bengal during his time. In addition to this, the author gave the equivalents of Bengali castes in other parts of India, and wherever possible also indicated the differences in culture or in ritual practice that marked off one from the other.
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Things are changing fast today in India and some of the observations made in 1896 may not hold true at the resent time. Yet it is the only accurate account of the framework of the caste system as it existed at the end of the last century
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