Studying the rainbow coalition of castes and sub castes can be a fascinating subject as it provides clues to decoding the wonder that was
. Let’s skim the surface by exploring
the world of caste nomenclature. India
Have you ever wondered how the Gounders got their name? No. Gounda Mani had nothing to do with it. Linguists say that Gounder is from Kavundan or Kaamindan, the Tamil word for ‘noble protector of the country’.
What about Vanniars? For all that Tamil talk by Dr. Ramadoss, did you know that Vanniar is a derivation of the Sanskrit word Vahni (meaning ‘fire’)? The fire connection is because the Vanniars believe that they are Agnivanshi kshatriyas.
Vellalars, the agricultural landlords of Tamil Nadu, trace their lineage to the Velirs – migrant warriors from the lost city of
Kayasths, have a mythological
connect too. They are of the view that Chitragupta (Yamraj’s accountant) is the
progenitor of their race. Now Chitragupta was created out of the body of
Brahma. And Kayastha in Sanskrit means ‘from the body’. That’s why. Dwaraka
Quite a few castes owe their names to their professions. Kurmis from ‘krishi karmi’ or agriculturists. Gujjars from ‘gau charana’ or ‘cow grazers’. Bhumihars (‘landmakers’), Kapus (from ‘kaapu’ or ‘protector’) and Vokkaligas (from ‘okkalutana’ or ‘agriculture’) also have pastoral roots. While Lingayats (‘one who wears the linga’) and Kammas (from the Buddhist concept of ‘Karma’) have a religious basis. There are a million more stories to share. But I am forced to hold them back lest I be branded as a casteist!