The society of castes. Religion and politics in India

La sociedad de castas. Religión y política en la India

There is not question about India a more complex and controversial than the so-called “caste system”. You have written many books and articles on the issue (although almost none in Spanish). […] The “system” has been criticized ad nauseum, and exalted -although less – to the paroxysm. But, despite the importance that all the world granted, the topic is little known, and I would even say that it poorly understood by the public at large; even for quite a few indianistas. […]

Any anthropological study on the India should focus on both the identities assigned as in the acquired. Privilege of the caste to the detriment of other forms of solidarity or conflict can be a reductionist. […]

[…] The breed has been kidnapped time and time again to reaffirm the stereotypes preferred about India. For example, the cliché of the exoticism of India; that is to say, of its radical difference with respect to a tacit western pattern of “normality” (social, political, religious…). To be peculiar to India, the caste is paradigmatic of “the exotic”. […]

The image of a society dominated by the hierarchy of caste summarized in a single picture a vision of India that many indians or non-indians – I have been interested in representing. For many thinkers, the caste constitutes the essence of the indian civilization. That -in my opinion – disgraceful appreciation is also part of the caste society. At least, it should form part of a book on the subject. […]

[…] The breed remains one of the main markers of identity of millions of indians. Modernity has not settled office the breed. Among other things, because it rests on two solid foundations: the beginning of the diferencia and the principle of hierarchy.

Agustín Paniker. In the “Introduction”, pp. 5-28.


The Caste Society is an illuminating explanatory text and reflective, where we provide endless news for the reader or the reader already familiar with the world indian. A must-see for those who want to delve into the society, the religion, the politics or the history of India.


India is known for having developed a system of social stratification is unique in the world: the caste society. There is another aspect about the Southern Asia, you wake up opinions and emotions as found. But, despite the importance and controversial subject, there are hardly any texts in the Spanish language dealing seriously with the issue.

After many years of research, Agustín Paniker , plunges us into the complex universe that accompanies the breed: its dark origins; his gear in the religion, ritual and the ideology of brahmanic; their links with the political and economic power; the great social transformations over the centuries (including the criticism of buddhism, of the groups devotional hindu, tantrism or of B. R. Ambedkar); the existence of “caste” among non-hindus (and even in the gypsy village); the growing etnicización and the politicisation of caste (with policies of positive discrimination by reason of caste, political parties linked to caste, etc.); while still addressing the issues that are most sour of the topic, that is to say, the bond of caste with patriarchy and the practice of untouchability.

With the rigor that characterizes his writings, Paniker offers us a fascinating picture of a society, anchored to the once-in-a prodigious respect for difference (as shown by its thousands of castes and subcastas), as well as in the resilient power of the hierarchy (whether this ritual or policy).

The society of castes is, in sum, an illuminating explanatory text (with the public, non-specialist in mind) and reflective (where you are provided countless of news for the reader or the reader already familiar with the world indian). A must-see for those who want to delve into the society, the religion, the politics or the history of South Asia.


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Brief review about the author

La sociedad de castas. Religión y política en la India

Agustín Paniker (Barcelona, 1959) is an editor and writer. It has been co-director of the radio program “L Hour of Science” (1984-1985) and director of the magazine Be yourself (1990-1991).

He has published (always in Kairos) jainism: history, society, philosophy and practice(2001), Índika: a decolonization intellectual (2005), The sikhs: History, identity and religion(2007), The dream of Shitala (2011) and The caste society (2014).

Is a professor in the “master of religions and societies” of the University Pablo Olavide of Seville. He has been a professor in the “master d’història de les religions” of the UAB-UB, in the “master in studies of Asia and the Pacific” of the UB and in the master’s degree in inmigració i education intercultural” of the UB.

He is president of the fundación Ramuni Paniker Trust dedicated to help in the education of girls and needy children of India and to the cultural exchange between South India and Spain.

He has written numerous articles in popular science magazines and campus publications about societies, religions and cultures of the world. He collaborates in different media, and frequently gives seminars and lectures on various aspects of India and Asia.

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