Sanskritization: Introduction, Concept, Definition and Analysis

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  • The term Sanskritization was used by MN Srinivas to denote a type of process where there is a kind of mobility which is upward in nature .
  • It is a process of cultural Mobility within and outside framework of caste system
  • The lower caste collectively tries to adopt upper caste practices and aspire to acquire higher status.
Introduction of Sanskritization

Srinivas used the concept of Sanskritization to evaluate mobility in Indian Social System.


  • Lower caste people try to claim higher status by imitating the lifestyle of upper caste people
  • He studied Coorgs in Karnataka and found that the lower caste people adopted the customs and practices of the Brahmins to raise their position and also gave up their own practices which were considered as impure by the higher caste
  • For example, drinking liquor, animal sacrifice, eating meat etc.
  • He called this as Brahmanizatiom originally in his book, Religion and Society among the Coorgs, 1971
  • Later replaced with the term - Sanskritization


  • The process of mobility of lower caste by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism to move in the caste hierarchy in a generation or two
  • New definition: A process by which a lower caste or tribe or other group changes its customs, rituals, ideology and way of life in the direction of a high and frequently twice born caste … book 1971, Social change in modern India.
  • The new definition is broader and includes ideology of pap-punya, karma etc.


  • Reference group of Sanskritization not always Brahmins
  • Today brahmins eat non-veg too
  • Other castes can be reference group
  • So, they can imitate Kshatriyas, Jats too
  • Earlier he excluded other castes so changed the term to Sanskritization from Brahmanizatiom
  • Elite emulation by O. M. Lynch
  • Sanskrit lifestyle is preceded by certain changes in the lower caste
  • Sanskritization, thus refers to the efforts made by the lower castes to emulate the dominant caste of higher Varna. Lynch (1969) called this process as elite emulation.


  • Role of local dominant class
  • Takes time may be a generation
  • Positional change not structural change meaning individual castes move but structure remains constant
  • Old phenomenon and always present
  • Need for ritual, economic and political power
  • Economic development not necessary
  • Also found in Tribals e. g. Bhils of West India, Gonds etc.
  • Pattern not same and give and take relationship


  • Not universal in India - DN Majumdar
  • Yogendra Singh said fail to lead to consistent theory of social change
  • Change in definition creates confusion

What About Reservation?

It should be pro Sanskritization but goes against it.


  • Role of British rule
  • Removes gap between secular and ritual rank
  • Material culture gave a boost
  • Challenge to traditional caste system
  • Upward mobility
  • Serves as a reference group


1. While studying a society in which state has Srinivas given the concept of Sanskritization?

(a) Karnataka

(b) Kerala

(c) Tamil Nadu

(d) Orissa

Ans. (a)

2. Name the book where Srinivas for the first time has given the concept of Sanskritization.

(a) Caste and Inequality

(b) Caste and Economic Frontier

(c) Religion and Society among the Coorgs

(d) Indian Social Structure

Ans. (c)

3. Sanskritization implies

(A) Change in caste structure

(B) Change of caste structure

(C) Change for caste structure

(D) None of the above

Answer: (A)

4. Who among the following were not presenting an example of Sanskritization in any sociological studies?

(a) Distillers of Orissa

(b) Chamars of Agra

(c) Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh

(d) Shukla Brahmi՚s of east Uttar Pradesh

Ans. (d)



#M. N. Srinivas

#Theoretical Perspectives

#Structural-Functional Perspective

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