What Is Sub Caste?

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India is known for its rich cultural and social diversity, with a myriad of languages, religions, and traditions coexisting within its borders. Within this diversity, the concept of “sub-caste” plays a significant role, contributing to the intricate fabric of Indian society. In this blog, we will delve into the meaning and significance of sub-caste, its historical roots, and the complexities it adds to the social structure of India.

What Is Sub Caste?

Sub-caste, often referred to as “jati” or “jaati” in Hindi, is a term used to describe social groups within the broader framework of the caste system in India. While the caste system itself categorizes people into distinct social groups based on occupation, heredity, and social hierarchy, sub-castes further break down these categories into smaller, more specific groups.

Key Aspects Of Sub-Caste:

  1. Hierarchical Structure: Like the larger caste system, sub-castes also have their own hierarchical structure. Each sub-caste typically has its own distinct set of customs, traditions, and rituals.
  2. Occupational Specialization: Sub-castes often specialize in specific occupations or professions, and these roles can be hereditary. For example, within the broader “Brahmin” caste, there are sub-castes that may focus on teaching, while others may specialize in religious rituals.
  3. Endogamy: Endogamy, the practice of marrying within one’s social group, is prevalent within sub-castes. Marriages are often arranged within the same sub-caste to preserve cultural and social traditions.
  4. Local Variation: Sub-castes can vary significantly from region to region within India. What is considered a sub-caste in one area may not exist in another, or it may have a different name and set of practices.

Historical Roots Of Sub-Caste

The concept of sub-caste has deep historical roots in India’s complex social structure. It evolved as a way to accommodate and adapt to changing societal and occupational needs. Over time, as communities and professions diversified, sub-castes emerged to reflect these changes. Many sub-castes can trace their origins to specific occupations, geographical regions, or historical events.

Significance And Challenges

  1. Identity and Belonging: Sub-caste plays a crucial role in shaping an individual’s identity and sense of belonging within the larger caste framework. It defines one’s social and cultural identity, influencing their customs, traditions, and way of life.
  2. Social Mobility: Sub-castes can influence an individual’s access to social, economic, and educational opportunities. Some sub-castes historically occupied lower positions in the caste hierarchy, limiting their social mobility.
  3. Challenges of Discrimination: While India has made significant progress in addressing caste-based discrimination through legal measures and affirmative action policies, sub-castes that have traditionally faced discrimination may continue to experience social and economic challenges.
  4. Resilience and Pride: Despite the challenges, many individuals and communities take pride in their sub-caste identities and work to preserve their cultural heritage and traditions.


Sub-caste in India represents the intricate layers of diversity that make the country unique. It reflects the complexities of Indian society, where a multitude of identities coexist within a broader framework. While sub-caste has played a significant role in shaping social and cultural identities, it also underscores the need for continued efforts to promote inclusivity, equal opportunity, and social justice for all, regardless of their sub-caste or caste affiliation.


What Is Sub Caste With Example?

However, a sub-caste is a sub-division of a caste. Brahmin is designated both as a Varna and a caste. Kanyakubja, Suryupari and Gaur Brahmins are examples of castes, and Shrimali, Purohit and Pushkarna Brahmins are examples of sub-castes, while Bhardwaj, Gautam and Kashyap Brahmins are examples of gotras.

What Is The Meaning Of Sub Caste In Obc?

Of late, it has been noted that reservation benefits are mostly enjoyed by only around 25 OBC communities, including Yadavs, Jats, and Kurmis. To counter this, the center has decided to sub-categorize the OBCs for the equitable and fair distribution of reservation benefits among all the sub-castes.

Is General A Sub Caste?

General Category in the Indian context means the caste of people who have been historically strong in terms of opportunities, wealth, etc. The general category does not simply include Brahmins but also includes Kshatriya sub casts (Rajput, etc.) as well as Vaishya sub castes (marwaris, etc.)

What Are The Sub Caste In India?

It is referred frequently in the ancient Indian texts. There are four classes: the Brahmins (priestly people), the Kshatriyas (rulers, administrators and warriors; also called Rajanyas), the Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers), and the Shudras (labouring classes).

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