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II. 3.2 Tribe and caste

Difference between Tribe and caste

  • According to Andre Beteille there are certain commonly observed differences between tribes and castes. The tribes are relatively isolated as to the castes .They are world within itself having few externalities. Tribes speak a variety of dialects which separates them from non tribes. They follow their own religion and practices which are not common in Hinduism. Language is a criterion of difference as tribes speak their local dialect for example Mundas and Oraons of Chota Nagpur speak different dialects but Bhumij have lost their tribal dialect and speak dominant language of the area.
  • According to N.K Bose there are many similarities in customs between tribes and castes and they are interdependent. Marriage within the clan is forbidden both in the tribe as well as in the caste. Both generally don’t encourage marriage outside the group.
  • According to Herbert Risley the convention of endogamy is not rigidly enforced in the tribe where as such is the case in a tribe. But this view is not acceptable since the law of endogamy is enforced with extreme rigidity in some tribes.
  • Max Weber writes in Social Structure that when an Indian tribe loses its territorial significance it assumes the form of an Indian caste. In this way the tribe is a local group whereas caste is a social group.
  • According to D.N Majumdar the tribe looks upon Hindu ritualism as foreign and extra -religious even though indulging in it and the in the worship of God and Goddess where as in the caste these are necessary part of the religion.
  • In caste individuals generally pursue their own definite occupations because functions are divided under the caste system. In the tribe individuals can indulge in whatever profession they prefer as there is no fixed relation between them and occupation.
  • According to Bailey tribe and caste should be viewed as continuum. He seeks to make distinction not in terms of totality of behavior but in more limited way in relation to the political economic system. Briefly Bailey’s argument is that a caste society is hierarchical while a tribal society is segmentary and egalitarian. But in contemporary India both caste and tribe are being merged into a different system which is neither one nor the other.

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