The sociological concept of Sanskritization in India

All the changes, which have occurred in the castes, are intercaste changes and these have no way affected the fundamentals of caste system. For this process of change M.N. Srinivas a pioneer of Indian sociology has used the concept of Sanskritization.  Sanskritization is not a new concept in sociological literature but M.N. Srinivas has used this concept in a peculiar way. In his words, Sanskritization means not only the adaptation of new customs and habits but also exposure of new ideas and valued which have found frequent expression in the vast body of Sanskrit literature, social as well as Secular. These ideas reach the common people through Sanskrit myth and stories. Thus Sanskritization means the adaptation of the values of a cultured society.In explaining the meaning of Sanskritisation, M.N. Srinivas pointed out that Sanskritization was not always due to Brahmans; generally Sanskritisation qualifies as caste for a higher status. In the dynastic system, Sanskritisation emphasised the status of dynasty.According to Srinivas, Sanskritization spread during the British Rule with the development of means of communication, the impact of Sanskritisation was felt in the remote corners of the century.  With the spread of education and literacy it percolated to the lowest castes.  The western terminology radio press rail etc.  generally facilitated the process of Sanskritisation.The mobility associated with Sanskritisation results only in positional changes in the system and does not lead to any structural change. In other words, the spectrum itself doesn’t change.  He also notes how the tribal groups such as Bhils of western India, the Gonds and Oraon of central India claim to be a caste through the process of Sanskritisation and thus claim a place in the caste hierarchy.  It is well known that there is no conversion process in the traditional Hindu system.While Srinivas took Sanskritisation to mean some kind of Brahminisation, other investigators showed that Sanskritisation could be based on Kshatriya or Vaisya or Sudra’ morals. As Srinivas himself points out the varna hierarchy is clear and immutable’. It is evident; therefore, that Sanskritisation reinforces and consolidates the ‘immutable varna hierarchy’ rather than dislodges it or modify it.Thus, Sanskritisation is not a process by which structural change in the Hindu society can become possible. It is certainly not a means by which any social change in India can be brought about.