In this paper, tooth crown morphologies of three modern populations from Gujarat, India are used to estimate biological distance. In an earlier odontometric analysis (Lukacs and Hemphill, 1993), the Garasia were morphologically intermediate between Bhils and Rajputs, but clustered more closely to the tribal Bhils. Because the Garasia were most similar to groups from proximal geographic regions, Hemphill and Lukacs (1993) concluded that the biological data supported the admixture and Hinduization described in historical and ethnographic sources (Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). The close association between the Garasia and Bhils may indicate that the division between high and low status groups is more significant than that between caste and tribe. This study uses the ASU system (Turner, et al., 1991) for scoring dental discrete traits, the frequencies of which were compared among the three groups. An estimate of the biological distance between them was calculated using the chi-square test, MMD, and principle component analysis. Spearman correlation coefficients were also calculated to measure interclass correlations and inter-trait correlation between Hypocone and Carabelli’s traits (Turner and Scott (1997). Contrary to the morphometric data (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993), the Garasia do not appear to be in an intermediate position between the Bhils and Rajputs in this analysis. In the Euclidean cluster and the MMD analysis, the Garasias most closely linked to the Bhils, and both groups are linked to the Rajputs. This result may indicate that the Garasia are not a hybrid group though they do appear to descend from the Rajputs. Their close proximity to the Bhils could indicate a genetic relationship, but may also be indicative of status differences between both groups and the Rajputs and/or a lack of Hinduization within the Garasia and Bhils. However, it could also indicate that the Garasia are descendants of the Rajputs, with some contribution from the Bhils and a long subsequent period of low status and marginalised environment. In looking at models of one-way migration, it appears that the Garasia could be descendants of the Rajputs with a small generational contribution from the Bhils. However, this model is based only on two traits which are proposed to have a mode of inheritance suitable for modeling and should be regarded with caution.
This project deals with three ethnic groups in the state of Gujarat in western India: Bhils, Rajputs, and Garasias. The history of relationships between these three groups has been altered and obscured through political and sociological processes such that there are as many stories as there are people to tell them. The political machinations of all three groups result from the dominant role of lineage and history in the caste system and attempts to construct roots of authority or power. This fluidity provided through creative geneology is probably a process as old as the caste system itself and provides a particularly interesting and challenging opportunity for comparison between oral history, genetics, and morphology. The lack of continuity between interregional communities of the three categorical populations further complicates the story in that for example, the origins and history of Garasias in one village is unique to that group. The Bhils are a particularly good axample of lack of continuity not only on the inter-village level, but interregionally they are an especially diverse group. The concept of Hinduization is particularly important to the study of relatedness because it incorporates flexibility and movement into understanding the caste system. Hinduization acts as a vehicle for upward mobility and increased status but simultaneously ensures some degree of preservation of tribal genetic marker patterning by adherence to the Hindu system of endogamous marriage (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). Indian caste hierarchies are permeable and flexible allowing groups and caste labels to have a transitory and sometimes obscured history because they are used as tools of mobility within the supposedly rigid hierarchy (Kolenda, 1978; Srinivas, 1966). Throughout Indian history, relocation and creative genealogy have served conquerors, tribes and other upwardly mobile groups. The Bhils are the largest modern tribal group in India with substantial communities in Gujarat, Madyha Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). The interregional diversity of groups which consider themselves to be Bhils poses an anthropological challenge in itself, labelled the Bhil problem by Naik (1956). Naik (ibid) hypothesized that distinct regional pressures molded a common ancestral population into diversified groups in an ecological niche approach to the problem. Bridget Allchin, among other workers, considers this diversity to be a reflection of many disparate populations labeled Bhil by conquering groups (Naik, 1956). However, there are cultural features common to the individual Bhil groups such as patrilineal and patrilocal kinship structure, bride price, clan, village and territorial exogamy (though cross-cousin marriage is preferred), divorce, and widow remarriage (Naik, 1956;Campbell, 1988). Linguistically, there are regional differences in Bhil dialects which reflect the cultural matrix but few non-Aryan elements have been recorded for any of the Bhil groups (Naik, 1956). In Gujarat, these non-Aryan elements represent about 6% of the Bhili language which appears most influenced by Rajasthani, Gujarati, Khandeshi, and elements of Garasia dialects are interspersed (ibid.). In Gujarat and neighboring Rajasthan, the Bhils are recognized by the Rajputs and in British administrative documents as the oldest known inhabitants and they are named in historical references of the area by as early as 600 AD (Naik, 1956). The Bhils are incorporated in the tika ceremony, the Rajput accession to the throne whereby the new ruler’s forehead is imprinted by a Bhil with his own blood (Naik, 1956; Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). This ceremonial inclusion of the Bhils may have originated through Rajput strategies to incorporate the conquered indigenous population into the dominant power structures. The Bhils were also formalized as village watchmen for the Rajputs in exchange for land-use and there was frequent intermarriage between the two groups in a hypergynous flow of women into Rajput chieftain families until orthodox Hinduism enforced strict caste endogamy (Naik, 1956). The landholding interests of the Parmar Rajput warrior caste had reached south into Gujarat by 800 A.D. when they were pushed south from Sindh by Muslim powers (Lal, 1978). The Rajputs ruled Gujarat in a feudal-like structure after 1100 AD, until Indian independence from British control in 1947 (Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). This is not to suggest that there was never resistance to Rajput control or to elements of their government by the Bhils. The Bhils were not passive subjects under Rajput rule, nor under the administrations of Moghul, Maratha, nor British colonialism. Although they did not mount successful large scale revolts, many Bhils retreated into the forest to escape subjugation and raiding parties continued to threaten security until the Bhil Corps, begun in 1825, harnessed some of the martial energy of the Bhils against dissent (Naik, 1956). The Bhil culture did incorporate features of the dominant cultures’ languages and religious ideas including lesser Hindu gods and Muslim features (ibid.). There were basic similarities between the Bhils and conquering Rajput clans which may have facilitated inter-relations and understanding between the two groups. Rajput lineages are structured in patrilineal, exogamous, warrior clans similar to the Bhil lineages (Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). These lineage structer similarities may have facillitated not only an exchange of women but also may have been responsible for the resultuing arrangements concerning land tenure. Access to and control over land remains today an essential issue for most groups in India and was the foundation of the raja’s control during their reign (Kolenda, 1978). Land-use was granted through kinship, loyalty, and service and the landholder was responsible for mediation between the raja and his tenants (Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). Some of the local indigenous occupants of that land, including the Bhils, were used as village landlords while other groups were pushed further into the forests and/or more marginal areas. The origin of the Garasias became a problem to be tackled when British administrators and anthropologists sought to classify and categorize India’s diversity in census reports during colonial rule. This classificatory quest has more recently been the focus of the Indian government in creating the scheduled castes and tribes classification to disperse benefits to depressed classes. The colonial British administration classified the Garasias as landholders through a peripheral, or fallen Rajput heritage (Campbell, 1988). British land acquisitions further marginalised many of the Garasia and their poverty eventually associated them with forest-dwelling tribal peoples (Unnithan-Kumar, 1997). As Indian nationalism has nurtured the conception of traditional culture and roles in the attempt to solidify regional identities, cultural differences between the Bhils, Rajputs, and Garasias took on new importance and became magnified (ibid.; Naik, 1956; Lal, 1979; Chatterjee, 1989). The emic identity of most Garasia communities is based on descent from Rajputs (Unnithan- Kumar, 1997). Some Garasia see themselves as “tribalized” Rajputs while others believe that they are the progeny of the hypergynous flow of women from Bhil groups after the Rajputs conquered the area, these Garasias are sometimes called Bhilalas (Naik, 1956; Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). Some Garasia communities may have originated by expatriates from elsewhere in India or Hinduized tribals (Srinivas, 1966) who adopted the Garasia classification in order to raise their status despite their ancestral designation (Lal, 1978) The historical record of Gujarat seems to allow for the possibility that the Garasias are tribalized Rajputs who fled into the Aravalli Hills to escape Moghul subjugation in the 11th century, and were subsequently associated with forest dwelling people (ibid.). There are also records of admixture between the two groups and the clan names of the Garasia are taken from traditional Rajput clans, possibly because of eroded status of inter-caste couples after orthodox Hinduism began to enforce strict segregation along caste lines (ibid.). In order to strengthen their control over rebellious border communities, the Moghul sultan Mahmud III ordered any Rajput clans who were living in Gujarat to be summarily executed unless they were marked as traders or police enforcers (Lal, 1978). This situation is exemplary of the type of pressures which forced the Rajputs deep into the hills and into further mingling with Bhil communities which concealed the Rajputs from regular army sweeps (ibid.). Regional legends about the origin of the Garasias include tales of both Rajput refugees in the hills who retained their clan names as well as narratives of love marriages between the Rajputs and Bhils (ibid.). In addition to historical and legendary evidence, the census worker perceptions of Garasia identity included both the idea of a hybrid population from Bhil and Rajput unions as well as a group of Rajput thakors, or landholders, whose status was slowly degraded by conceptual association with tribal communities (Lal, 1978; Cambell, 1988). The Garasia group included in this study live in an area of the Aravalli Hills called Danta Taluka which has been a center of Hindu culture at least since the Jain temples were built in the 10th and 11th centuries (Lal, 1978). The historical record shows that the Garasia were definitely occupying the area by the 18th century but there has been a lot of fluctuation and movement by the Garasia throughout their history and they are not considered an ancestral population as the Bhils and Rajputs (ibid.). These migrations contributed to the lowered status of Rajput groups, the raised status of members of the Bhil groups, possibilities for incorporation and intermarriage, as well as transforming the Garasia legends and assisting in the modern degradation of Garasia tradition although movement has decreased since independence when land rights restrictions became most rigidly defined. Culturally, the Garasias have similarities to the Bhils and Rajputs, and fall within the margins of the regional patterns of patrilineal, exogamous clans who negotiate bride price in exchange for women leaving their natal family for patrilocal marriage residence (Lal, 1978). The Garasias prefer arranged marriages and territorial exogamy but, like the Bhils love marriages are common and territorial exogamy is not as strictly enforced as clan exogamy (ibid.). Like the Rajputs, there are defined strata within the group based on lines of purity and pollution which at one time were strictly maintained except for hypergynous flow of women (ibid.). The Garasia culture is however distinct from their neighbors and one important aspect is that matrilineal kinship is considered binding in terms of familial responsibilities and privileges (ibid.). Anthropometric and serological analyses are usually used to confirm traditional social divisions between caste and tribal groups, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian language speakers, and finally between tribal groups associated with north and east versus south and west India (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). However, Srinivas (1956, 1968) redefined the observed disparity as that of high and low status, a distinction which is generally determined by the level of Hinduization attained by the group and may follow caste versus tribe divisions (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). Hemphill and Lukacs (1993) used tooth crown diameters from modern Gujarati Bhil, Rajput and Garasia groups as well as in ten pan-Indian groups. Their research was designed to explore three main questions: do tooth sizes vary according to social groups in India? Can the variation be used to map genetic relatedness? Do the patterns of size variation correspond to evidence from other indicators of relatedness? Their research was placed within a broader biocultural perspective which sought to bridge the inconsistencies between the historical and archaeological records, to test theories on the origins and evolution of the caste system itself, as well as testing the relationship between tooth size and major subsistence classifications (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). Their results indicated that Garasia tooth size is intermediate between Rajputs and Bhils though Garasia males are closer to the Bhils than to the Rajputs. Intergroup differences were greater than intragroup sex dimorphism. The parental Bhil and Rajput groups were the furthest from each other within the Gujarat sample. Principal components analysis suggested that over half the variance between Gujarati males and females could be accounted for by 3 variables: overall size, difference between mesiobuccal and buccolingual dimensions, and contrast between anterior and posterior teeth. One interesting result of their analysis was obtained by comparing the three Gujarati groups with ten other Pan-Indian groups. Though the three Gujarati groups were clustered most closely together in the Pan-Indian comparison, the Gujarati males clustered closer to Rajput males than to the Bhils (Hemphill and Lukacs, 1993). Another important conclusion from the Pan-Indian comparison was that the tribal Bhils showed more similarity to proximal caste groups than to more distant tribal groups. This result confirms the diversity contained within the Bhil label and suggested to the authors a long period of intermixing and Hinduization within the Gujarat samples (ibid). The Brahmin groups were also distant from one another except for neighboring Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu groups confirming the sublimation of caste under regional pressures and admixture (ibid.). The Bodhs and Varlis presented an exception to the general pattern; these two tribal groups are spatially distant but show evidence of relatedness possibly a manifestation of their more ancient indigenous relationships (ibid.). Hemphill and Lukacs (1993) concluded that the Garasias were an intermediate group but were most similar to the Bhils. The three Gujarati groups were closer to one another than they were to any other Indian groups and of the Pan-Indian sample, groups in neighboring states were more similar than groups of similar caste and/or status. These results show that regional similarities outweigh imposed caste and status categories and the area of Gujarat appears to have a significant level of admixture across caste boundaries. The results for the Gujarati sample were expected to be confirmed by the present study: that the Garasias occupy the position of a hybrid group between the Bhils and the Rajputs, and that status differences would be evident in similarities between groups of commensurate status.
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