In the books or the dictionary, the word castes is combined with many other words, due to which there is confusion in society. Nowadays casteism is understood by saying caste, but here we are not talking about the kind of caste which is prevalent at present. In very ancient times, people used to live around the Himalayas. On reading the Vedas and the Mahabharata, we come to know that the main castes in ancient times were Devas, Daityas, Danavas, Rakshasas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Bhallas, Vasus, Apsaras, Pishach, Siddhas, Marudganas, Kinnars, Charans, Bhats, Kirats , Reech, Snake, Vidyadhar, Manav, Vanar, etc. The gods were called Sur and the demons were called Asura. We are telling here about the ancient castes.
The deities originated from Kashyap’s wife Aditi. According to the Puranas, the place of residence of the gods on the earth has been depicted in the Himalayas. Earlier people knew the deities by the names of Swargdoot, Akashdev, Ishwardoot, etc. Some people believe that all these humans were the same. All of them are children of sage Kashyap and Aditi and all of them lived in the Nandankanan forest of the Himalayas.
All the Gods, Gandharva, Yaksha and Apsara, etc. Dev or Dev supporters castes used to live in the north of the Himalayas only. Lord Indra, Guru Brihaspati, and Vishnu are the supreme deities. Vishwakarma was the creator of the buildings, weapons, etc of the deities. It is believed that till about 12-13 thousand years ago, the entire earth was covered with snow and only a few places were left to live, one of them was Devlok, which was called Indralok and Swargalok.
Bharatavarsha, which was initially called Haimavatavarsha, had built cities in only a few places, the rest of Bharatavartha was filled with seawater and terrible forests, where many other castes and species lived. Both Sur and Asura were Aryans.
The king of the gods was called Indra. In this way, 14 Indras who rule heaven are considered. Whose names are as follows – Yajna, Vipaschit, Shebi, Vidhu, Manojav, Purandar, Bali, Awadhan, Shanti, Vish, Ritudham, Devaspati, and Suchi. It is said that one Indra was like a ‘Vrishabh’ (bull). Bali, the king of the Asuras, has also become Indra, and Ravana’s son Meghnad had also achieved the position of Indra.
Asuras are called demons. The demons originated from Kashyap’s wife Diti. Rishi Kashyap gave birth to two sons named Hiranyakashyap and Hiranyaksha and a daughter named Sinhika from the womb of Diti. According to Shrimad Bhagwat, apart from these three children, 49 other sons of Kashyap were also born from Diti’s womb, who was called Marundan. These sons of Kashyap remained childless. Whereas Hiranyakashyap had four sons – Anuhallada, Hallada, Bhakta Prahlad, and Sanhallada. It was from these that the clan and empire of the Asuras expanded.
In ancient times, whatever part was other than the Himalayas was considered the earth and the part of the Himalayas as heaven. Some people believe that Brahma and his clan did not belong to the earth. He had expanded his clan on earth by attacking the earth and killing the demons named Madhu and Kaitabh. Just from here, the battle between the demons of the earth and the gods of heaven started.
After Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashyap, the lords of the demons became Virochana, whose gurus Shukracharya and Shiva are the supreme deities. On the one hand, Vishwakarma was the creator of the buildings, weapons, etc. of the gods, and on the other hand, the Maidanav of the Asuras.
Indra’s war was first with Vrittasur who lived in Parsya country. It is believed that in some areas of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Asuras were the rule. Indra’s last fight was with Shambasura. The kingdom of Mahabali Bali was in Mahabalipuram in South India, which was made the king of Hades by Lord Vishnu.
Rakshash people were earlier appointed to protect, but later due to changes in their tendencies, they became infamous due to their deeds and in today’s context they are considered Asuras and Demons. According to Puranas, Kashyapa’s Sursa Yatudhan (demons) were born from a queen named Sursa, but according to a legend, Prajapita Brahma created many types of creatures to protect the ocean waters and creatures.
Some of those creatures took up the responsibility of protection, then they were called Rakshasas and those who accepted to do Yakshan (worship) were called Yakshas. This caste was considered sacred for handling the important work of protecting water. The people of the Rakshasa race lived on the coast of the sea.
The representation of demons was assigned to two people- ‘Heti’ and ‘Praheti’. These two were brothers. These two were also as strong and mighty as Madhu and Kaitabh, the representatives of the demons. Praheti was religious, while Heti was more interested in Rajpat and politics.
The people of the snake caste are considered to be the residents of Hades. The description of the seven underworlds on earth is found in the Puranas. These seven underworlds are Atal, Vital, Sutal, Talatal, Mahatal, Rasatal, and Patal. In the underworld called Sutala, there lives a community called ‘Krodhavash’ of many-headed snakes born from Kashyap’s wife Kadru. Among them, Kahuk, Takshak, Kalia, Sushen, etc. are the main snakes.
Kadru who is the daughter of Prajapati Daksha and the wife of Kashyap Muni, the whole snake race was born, that is why she is known as Snake mother. Goddess Manasa, who is the daughter of Lord Shiva, also called Nag Mata, was married to a sage named Jaratkaru. Once upon a time King Janamejaya, after his father died of snakebite, a snake sacrifice was performed to incinerate snakes.
As a result, all the snakes fell into the yagya and got consumed, after that such measures were taken by Astika, the son of Goddess Manasa, which stopped the snake yagya, and all the snakes were protected, since then Goddess Manasa is also known as Nag Mata. There are 12 main snakes of snake species whose names are as follows- 1. Anant 2. Kulik 3. Vasuki 4. Shankuphala 5. Padma 6. Mahapadma 7. Takshak 8. Karkotak 9. Shankhchud 10. Ghatak 11. Vishdhan 12. Shesh Nag.
Gandharva and Apsara
The Gandharvas originated from Kashyapa’s wife Arishta. In the north of the Himalayas, the situation of Gandharva Lok has been created near Devlok. Yakshas, Gandharvas, and Apsaras have been mentioned in Indian Puranas. Yaksha, Gandharva, and Apsara are considered in another category of deities. It is said that after composing 108 hymns, Indra revealed the Apsaras.
The idols of Apsaras inscribed in attractive postures in every corner of the temples attract attention with beautiful body shapes and expressions. All Apsaras have strange stories. It is believed that these Apsaras used to live in Gandharva Lok. She used to entertain the gods in Devloka through dance and music.
The other names of Gandharvas are ‘Gatu’ and ‘Pulam’. The Mahabharata also mentions a caste named Gandharva, who lived in the mountains and forests. In Rigveda, Gandharva Vayukesh, Somrakshak, sweet-spoken, musician, and supernaturally Prabhavishnu has been told over women.
According to the scriptures, 11 Apsaras were the main servants in the heaven of Devraj Indra. These 11 Apsaras are Kritasthali, Punjikasthala, Menaka, Rambha, Pramlocha, Anumlocha, Ghritachi, Varcha, Urvashi, Purvachitti and Tilottama. The main Apsara of all these Apsaras was Rambha.
Yaksha, men and their women are called Yakshinis, they are a kind of ghosts who are the protectors of the secret treasure buried in the ground, they are also called Nidhi Pati. Kuber, the wealthy husband, is enthroned at the highest place and is the keeper of the wealth of the deities. It is notable that when the Pandavas were wandering from forest to forest during the second exile, they met a Yaksha who posed the famous ‘Yaksha Prashana’ to Yudhishthira. According to a story in the Upanishads, a Yaksha had shattered the pride of Agni, Indra, Varuna, and Vayu.
Information about Yakshini Sadhana is available. Mainly eight Yakshinis are discussed in Puranas. These are the main Yakshinis – 1. Sur Sundari Yakshini, 2. Manoharini Yakshini, 3. Kankawati Yakshini, 4. Kameshwari Yakshini, 5. Ratipriya Yakshini, 6. Padmini Yakshini, 7. Nati Yakshini and 8. Anuragini Yakshini.
Even today the people of the Kinnar caste live on the hills of the Himalayan states. Especially they are spread in Nepal and Sikkim. According to the Puranas, Kinnar is the name of a human race living in the regions of the Himalayas, whose main centers were Himvat and Hemkut. At present, Kinner Himalayas are called hill people of the modern Kannur region, whose language belongs to the family of dialects like Kannauri, Galcha, Lahauli, etc.
Nowadays, the word eunuch has also been used for eunuchs, but this caste was supernatural and magical. Some people worship famous and proven eunuchs. Their meditation is especially beneficial for singing and beauty. The boon of eunuchs is obtained very quickly and easily. Mainly there is a group of six Kinnaris:- 1. Manoharini Kinnari, 2. Shubhag Kinnari, 3. Vishal Netra Kinnari, 4. Surat Priya Kinnari, 5. Sumukhi Kinnari, 6. Diwakar Mukhi Kinnari.
Demons have been considered the same as Asur while all of them were different. Although both were allies of each other. The demons used to be huge. So giant that they could crush human beings with their feet. Sage Kashyapa was born to Dvimurdha, Shambar, Arishta, Hayagriva, Vibhavasu, Arun, Anutapan, Dhumrakesh, Virupaksha, Durjaya, Ayomukh, Shankushira, Kapil, Shankar, from the womb of his wife Danu. Ekachakra, Mahabahu, Taraka, Mahabal, Swarbhanu, Vrishparva, Mahabali Pulom, Viprachiti, etc, 61 great sons were born. All of them expanded the demon clan and empire.
Prajapati Kashyap also married Puloma and Kalka, two daughters of Vaishwanar, by the order of Brahma. Sixty thousand Ranveer demons named Paulom and Kalkeya were born from them, who later became famous as Nivatkavach.
Charan and Bhat
Charan are genealogists living in the western Gujarat state of India and keeping details of the genealogy of the Hindu caste. How and when the Charans originated, how they spread in this country, and what was their original form, etc. information is found in the Puranas. This is a sub-caste of the gods.
Reech and Vanar
Many species of monkeys lived in India in ancient times. Hanumanji was born in a monkey caste named Kapi. Researchers say that 9 lakh years ago, such a unique monkey species existed in India, which started disappearing 15 to 12 thousand years ago and finally disappeared. The name of this caste was ‘Kapi’.
There were also bear-like humans in the Ramayana period. Jambavantji is an example of this. Jambavant was also from Devkul. The bear is a mammal of the family Ursidae. However, now only 8 castes of it are left. In Sanskrit, the bear is called ‘ricksha’ from which the word ‘reech’ is derived. Certainly, now the caste of Jambavant has become extinct. Although this is a subject of research.