Jajmani System and Jajmani Relations: Introduction and How It Functions

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  • Important Rural social institution
  • Emerged in ancient India
  • Important in medieval India but declined in colonial India
  • Sociologists who studied – William Wiser, S. C. Dube, Lewis, K. Ishwaran

What is Jajmani System?


What is Jajmani System?
  • Owners and non-owners
  • Specialization of services
  • Recipient of specialized services
  • Network of alliances
  • Socio-economic and ritual ties with castes
  • Relationship between two castes – Upper caste or Patrons and Landless caste or service class
  • Patron caste – Rajputs, Bhumiars, Patels, etc.
  • Service caste- Brahmins (Priest) , blacksmith, etc.
  • Service class offers services
  • Paid in cash and kind by Patrons

The bond is:

  • Permanent
  • Enduring (hereditary)
  • Exclusive (family to family)
  • Multiple (economic, social and ritual)
  • There is barter system – goods against services e. g. Grains

How It Functions

  • Exists at family level
  • Family of service caste offers its services to specific families of Jajmans
  • Service caste depends on livelihood and the dominant caste
  • Generation to generation relationship
  • Therefore, villagers are bound in the system of exchange of services
  • Client relationship extends to neighboring villages (patrons can be from outside villages)
  • Problems are settled in Panchayats
  • Gifts given to service providers on occasions like marriages


  • Wiser said, “The various castes of a Hindu village in North India are interrelated in a service capacity. Each in turn is Master. Each in turn is Servant. Each has its own clientele comprising members of different caste which is Jajmani.”
  • The Hindu Jajmani System (1936)
  • Uttar Pradesh villages
  • Inter-dependence reciprocity and cooperation between caste and families in villages

Conflicts View

  • Dominance, exploitation and conflict by Lewis and Biedleman
  • Rich exploit the poor to maintain the dominance system
  • Superior and inferior
  • Supported caste system
  • Hurdle to caste mobility
  • It is weak now due to commercialization of agriculture, wage labour, education, migration etc.


Q. 1. Rampur village study conducted by Oscar Lewis was about

(a) Caste system in Indian village

(b) Jajmani system

(c) Redistribution in village economy

(d) Agricultural production

Ans. (b)

Q. 2. Jajmani system can best be explained by

(A) Mutual trust and co – operation of the people

(B) Conflicting interest of the people

(C) Oppression and suppressive measures adopted by the Jajmans

(D) Conflicting interest and distrust of the people

Answer: (A)

Q. 3. Who among the following explained for the first time in sociological literature Jajmani system as patterned interaction among the caste groups?

a) William Wiser

b) Oscar Lewis

c) R. Desai

d) Yogendra Singh

Ans. a




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