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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

One way of thinking about Hindu religion and society is to distinguish between the traditional religious society led mostly by brahmans and the large number of popular movements that have been led mostly by members of other caste groups. In India, religious movements are associated not only with different social classes but also with different castes. The followers of those popular Hindu movements that are led by non-brahmans are usually open to members of all castes, including scheduled castes. The social ideologies of brahman-led and non-brahman Hindu movements differ most clearly over the religious status of varna asrama dharma, the ideology of the caste system itself. This article discusses a few important regional non-brahman movements whose social dynamics have been well studied and which embody fairly explicit elements of dissent against the religious and social ideology of brahmanical Hinduism. These non-brahman Hindu movements include those of the Naths or Kanaphata Yogis, the Virasaivas or Lingayats of the Karnataka region in South India, and panths associated with poet-saints Kabir and Ravidas.

Keywords: Hinduism, brahmans, scheduled castes, India, religious movements, castes, panths, varna asrama dharma, Naths, Virasaivas

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