Twelve Castes Among Ancient Tamils

The classification of society into four, based on disposition of individuals is an unique concept of Hinduism.

This is used to vilify Hinduism as practicing Caste is.

That this concept is incorrect has been explained in my articles on Caste.

The fact that Tamil is against Sanatana Dharma and Arya Invasion theory has been proved wrong.

Please read my article ‘The Fraud called Arya Invasion Theory.

There have been concerted attempts to portray that the ancient Tamil Society did not have Caste system and Tamils did not have Caste system at all and all were treated equal.

A perusal of Ancient texts like Tholkappiyam and other Sangam Literature indicate that not only were there the the four Varnasrama of the Vedic period, Brahmana , Kshatriya, Vysya and Sudra, but there were seven castes.

The Tamil and Sanskrit Grammar are said to have been revealed simultaneously to Agasthya and Panini by Lord Shiva! Though the literary proof for this claim can be had only in the post 15th century AD period, it cannot be denied that both Tamil and Sanskrit grammar have commonality in many ways. Yet another information that I want the readers of this mail-chain to know is that this Tamil Grammar work does say that the 4 varnas were there among the Tamil speaking people and adds 3 more categories, making it a 7- class society. The additional three are – astrologers, sages andPorunar (kshatriya vratyas). There was a separate class of astrologer called by a generic term “ARivan” – which is a Tamil equivalent of Daivajna.

Jayashree Saranathan blog


‘ Greek Traveler and Historian Megasthanes records these seven castes in his book Indica.

The Link for the book. <a href=””>Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Surendranath Jain

‘ 1. Maruta makkal or tribes of ploughmen (ulavar) inhabiting fertile, well-
watered tracts (panai) and living in villages called ur,
2. Kuravar makkal (or hill people who are foresters, make charms, and tell
fortunes and may come out of the forest to work in the panai,
3. Mullai makkal (or pastoralists, also called ayar (cowmen), kovalar
(shepherds), and idaiyar (cowherd or shepherd),
4. Neytal makkal ( or fishing people living in large coastal villages called
pattinam or small ones called pakkam, and
5. Palai makkal or people of the dry plains called eyinar. maravar, and veIar
who are hunters of both the dry plains and the forest.’

It appears that there were four castes, then further divisions took place.


It became seven and then twelve.

There were overlapping of castes as well.

Over a period some castes merged and some emerged.

This fact emerges from a reading of ancient Tamil Literature.


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