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II. 3.2.7 Jajmani system


Jajmani system is a system of distribution whereby high caste land owning families are provided services and products of various lower castes such as Khati (Carpenter), Nai (Barber), Kumhars (Potters), Lobars (Blacksmiths), Dhobi (Washer man), Sweeper etc.

Wiser was the first to use word Jajmani system for intercaste and inter familial system. He described it in ” Hindu jajmani system 1936″ based on study in karimpur village of Uttarpradesh.

Jajman means for land owning cast and kamin for serving group. Jajmani refers to person performing yagna in vedic literature( he is termed as yajaman). Intially jajmani system was studied with reference to relation between jajman and purohit but later other serving caste were also added to list of kamin. One who receives services is known as Jajman, the patron. The families that provide services are known as Kamin

Case studies in india on jajmani system indicate that it is sub continental rural phenomemom with certain similar or general features with different nomencleture.

As per Majumdar, it mostly prevails in rural India. It was universal in urban and rural India in pre-british times. He studied working of jajmani system and presented in “caste and communication in a indian village 1962”.


“A person by whom a Brahmin is hired to perform religious services, hence a patron, a client”. —Webster’s Dictionary

“The service relations which are governed by a hereditary tenure are called Jajman-Praja relations”. —N.S. Reddy

Features of jajmani system-

  1. It is relation between landowning and other caste, the landlord could be rajputs, brahmin, reddy, vokkalingas or even backward communities.
  2. Jajmani relation between fixed families involves economic rights that cannot be transfered to other families. but Majumdar studied in lucknow indicated that on mutual agreement rights can be transfered.if a jajmani family splits rights are distributed among sons of commom family.
  3. Payments are generally in kind i.e food grains along with free residence, financial help etc to kamins. Jajman protects the kamin in troubles and help in their survival.

4.Beidelman brought out the elements of dependence of one caste over the other. According to him kamin have more than one family in village or number of families in village to serve, on other hand landlords have a limited choice.

Characteristics of  The Jajmani System

  1. Relationship under Jajmani was permanent
  2. Jajmani was hereditary
  3. Castes received grains against services rendered
  4. Barter system
  5. establish good relations between higher and lower castes


  1. EDMAND LEECH- this system maintains and regulates division of labour and economic inter dependence of caste
  2. WISER- this system serves to maintain Indian villeges as a self sufficient community
  3. HERALD GOULD- It distributes agricultural produce in exchange of menial and craft services
  4. BEIDELMAN- it maintains the prestige of upper caste
  5. OSCAR LEWI- it provides stable labour supply- .


It has been economic system of consisting of both exploitative and protective elements.

According to Beidelman, kamins were exploited by jajmans through lesser payments and coersions.

Majumdar has contributed emergence of bonded labour from downward exploitation to Jajmani system.

Oscar lewi suggested that jajmani system does not give opportunity for the kamin to escape the coersion of jajmani and economic dependence of kamin on jajman increased rural poverty in india.

M.N.Srinivas says that the exploitation is not only downward but also upward. His study in mysore pointed at the refusal of kamin to serve the jajman who intern persuades the kamin for service.

Herald Gould opines that kamin are not totally dependent on jajamn as they can sell their services to other families and villages.

Advantages of Jajmani System:

1. Security of Occupation

2. Economic Security

3. Close and Intimate Relationship

4. Peaceful Living

Disadvantages of Jajmani System

1. Source of Exploitation

2. Feeling of Superiority and Inferiority

3. Impediment to Occupational and Social Mobility

4. Supported by Caste System

The rigidity of caste system is reducing so is the jajmani system. Modern agricultural technology, emergence of market economy have provided a wayout for both kamin and jajman. Government policies such as land reform and abolition of jamindar was a blow to jajmani system. Globalisation, urbanization, mechanization of means of production, education of lower caste,  welfare scheme, employment opportunities etc has precipitated the fall of jajmani system. Jajmani system is found in traces as a relic of past.

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