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Differentiate between Caste and Tribe. Is it possible for a tribe to caste?
Tribe and Caste
Marriage within the clan is forbidden both in the tribe as well as in the caste. Both generally condemn marriage outside the group. The modern development in the means of transport and communication has induced increased contact between members of various tribes and has weakened the laws of endogamy in both. The two do exhibit considerable similarity, yet they also differ in the following respects-
1. According to Risley, the convention of endogamy is not rigıdly enforced in tribes whereas such as in the case in a caste. But this view of Risley does not appear to be universally true since the law of endogamy is enforced with extreme rigidity in some tribes.
2. Max Weber writes in “Social Structures” that when an Indian tribe loses its territorial significance it assumes the form of an Indian caste. In this way, a tribe is a local group whereas the caste is a social group.
3. The caste originated, in ancient Hindu society, with a view to the division of labour on the basis of professions and occupations. The tribe came about because of the evolution of community feeling in a group inhabiting a definite geographical area.
4. According to Dr. D. N. Majumdar the tribe looks upon Hindu ritualism as foreign and extra-religious even though indulging in it and in the worship of gods and goddesses whereas in the caste these are necessary, parts of religion. The tribes of Madhya Bharat which are called Hindu and Kshatriya tribes are better acquainted which their own “Bonga” than with the Hindu gods.
5. According to Max Weber the status of all people is similar in the caste, whereas there is much difference in status and rank in the tribe. The view of Max Weber does not apply to all castes. Differences in rank and status can be found in many cases also.
6. There is greater consciousness of differences in status and rank in the caste than in the tribe.
7. The caste is never a political association whereas the tribe is a political association.
8. The names of clans in castes are adopted from some saint or mystical savant such as Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Bharadwaj, Kashyap, etc.
In the tribe the clans are based on the totem, for example, the clans in the Komti tribe of Mysore are named after all kinds of fruits, vegetables, species, foodgrains, etc. The list presented by Thurston in “Castes and Tribes of Southern India,” seems to indicate that hardly any name in the animal and vegetable world remains to be used as the basis for a totem name.
9. In the caste, individuals generally pursue their definite occupations because functions are divided under the caste system. In the tribe, individuals can indulge their fancies in whatever profession they please because there is no fixed relation between them and the occupations.
Actually, now the tribes arc gradually being converted into caste. Risley has mentioned four processes in this transformation.
(1) By changing one’s lineage
(2) By accepting the principles of any school of Hindu religion
(3) By joining the Hindu religion
(4) By entering into relations with Hindus without changing the name.
According to D. N. Majumdar, a tribe can enter Hindu society by adopting the clan and name of a caste.
As a result of these changes, the difference between tribe and caste is being continually reduced.
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