The report prepared by then census office of W.R. Cornish has some facts that can surprise many Indians. He confirmed in his report that Hindus were divided into 5 varna
These days some Indian intellectuals and western intellectuals are addressing Scheduled Castes as Panchamas. They argue that Scheduled Castes are outside of the 4 varnas of the Vedic Lineage and hence they are known as Panchamas. Some even went a step further and blamed Hinduism and Brahmins. Another argument was that the Scheduled Castes were Dravidians and hence they were not part of the chaturvarna system.
In 1931 H.V. Nanjundayya in his book Mysore Tribes and Castes (Vol 4) says that Panchama was a recent creation, he said it was the word coined to identify the Madiga and Holeya castes. H.V. Nanjundayya authored Mysore tribes and castes
As per the Oxford online dictionary, Panchamas are scheduled castes outside of Brahminic division. The western world and most part of the Indian society strongly believe that Panchamas are outside 4 Hindu Varnas. If we look at the definition in the Oxford online dictionary closely, we can see the word “Brahminic”. Rather than using Vedic or Hinduism or Sanatana dharmic, the British coined this word Brahminism to target brahmins, who were the knowledge bearers of India at that time.
British used the word Brahminism because Vedic Hinduism was preached and protected by Brahmins. By the same token, the British must call Christianity as pastorism or fatherism and Islam as mullaism. Because Christianity and Islam are being preached and protected by pastors and mullahs.
It is well known that Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra varnas were formed based on Satva, Rajasa, Tamo gunas and by their profession(karma). The same was mentioned in Bhagavad-Gita by Bhagavan Sri Krishna.
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
(Ref- Bhagavadgita 4-13)
Now let’s look at the history and see how this word Panchama came into effect. The European rulers of India did not understand the varna concept and added their imagination to the Varna system and gave birth to the neo Hindu Caste system which we are seeing today. While British were ruling India, they decided to prepare a census of Indians with the intention of making more people to pay tax. During this process, they adopted various methods. The present-day Door number system which is being followed in Bharat was introduced by the British when doing the census.
In 1931 H.V. Nanjundayya in his book Mysore Tribes and Castes (Vol 4) says that Panchama was a recent creation, he said it was the word coined to identify the Madiga and Holeya castes. H.V. Nanjundayya authored Mysore tribes and castes (4 volumes).
In the year 1871 British government did a census in Madras presidency. The report prepared by then census office of W.R. Cornish has some facts that can surprise many Indians. He confirmed in his report that Hindus were divided into 5 varnas, and he mentioned that it was done by “The committee of the Madras Town Census” and later it was applied to the whole British imperial census.
If we look at this committee report, the British openly admitted that they knew little about the Hindu Varna and Jati system. British blamed Hindus for not knowing their ancestor’s History. Yet they decided to categorize the people with the European Christian lens and claimed that all they did was to do as Hindu laws actually commanded.
There are many sakhas in each Kula. For example, in Telugu Brahmana there are Vaidiki, Niyogi, smartha…. etc. and each of these Sakhas also have Upa-Sakhas. For example, Vaidiki Telaganya, Vaidiki Velanadu … etc. Same applies to all Varnas. While categorizing classes “The committee of the Madras Town Census” decided to divide all Sudra Sakhas and made them to different castes, on the other hand in the other Varnas British put all sakhas in one respective category. To make it short British divided all Shudra varna people into different castes.
It was in this “The committee of the Madras Town Census” meeting the Schedule castes were carved out of Vedic Varna system. This gave birth to Panchama varna or Panchama Varga. Aryan Dravidian theory further confused Indians and made them believe that Scheduled Castes were out of Hindu Varna system. All Castes were part of different Varnas and there were no Panchamas in Hindu society before 1869.
It is now very clear that neither the Hindus nor the Brahmins had to do anything with the Panchama Varna. It was the invention of the British as part of their Divide and Rule policy. This event happened in 1869, almost 150 years ago. In the present day, it has taken a completely different form and we can see how the British dictionary itself is giving wrong information about the panchamas by declaring them as those outside the 4 Varnas. Many evangelical missionaries are using this panchama varna construct to further confuse the scheduled castes and convert them. Under the British Christian regime, the scheduled caste people also got robbed financially.
Brahmins these days are facing all sorts of criticism for many things they did not do. One such thing is the creation of the Panchama Varna. It is very clear that everyone in the Hindu society was part of Sanatana Dharmic Varna system. This shows how the British Christian world has manipulated the Hindus and divided them in order to effectively rule over them. Over the years, however, with the British leaving India and India having attained her independence, the blame conveniently got passed on to Brahmins.
Every society, every community has both good and bad. Perhaps Brahmins may have committed some errors in those times without thinking of the future implications of their short-sighted action, but the world should stop accusing them for things they did not do. Maybe its time to re-examine many of the allegations levelled against Brahmins by the western Christian world and now actively propagated with even more zeal by the Leftist cabal which dominates the humanities departments in the top influential and prestigious universities in India.
(The above write up is based on Upcoming book “Kuhana Medho Niyantalu” (Pseudo Intellectual Dictators) Written in Telugu. This book is an attempt to rebut the arguments of authors like Kancha Ilaiah, who criticized Hinduism and Brahmins for every ill in the Hindu society. “Kuhana Medho Niyantalu” is expected to be published by the end of March and is authored by Sudha Mohan Mylavarapu and Ranga Reddy.)
 Mysore tribes and castes-vol4- pp.125
 Report on the census of Madras Presidency-1871- W.R. Cornish, pp. 117
 Census of the town of Madras 1871, pp. 80
 Census of the town of Madras 1871, pp. 79
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.