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While reading, I stumbled upon references to Alexander's seizure of Brahmin towns in what would today be called Pakistan. Googling did not fetch much information, most results are just references to a book by P Eggermont.

  1. Does some one know of other sources I can read upon?
  2. I find "Brahmin towns" a little strange. In present day India, I do not think there are any single-caste-exclusive towns. Was this something that was widespread in the past? If yes, when did the practice of single-caste-town go out of fashion?
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You stumbled upon this while reading what? –  coleopterist Apr 22 '13 at 8:05
I recommend this book (partly) on the subject of Alexander's most remote conquests in Asia (and e.g. Pakistan): Alice Albinia, Empires of the Indus. –  Drux Apr 22 '13 at 8:33

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I strongly suggest you read the celebrated and widely read and revered books on Ancient India by:

  1. Romila Thapar (Marxist in views)
  2. A. L. Basham (Non-partisan)

You can also refer to the bibliography of the Wikipedia page Indian campaign of Alexander the Great.

In earlier times, India ran from the Hindukush mountains(Afghanistan) to the Himalayas, and from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. So today's Pakistan was also part of India.

Here in this context, "Brahmin towns" means "the towns of the people who followed the Vedic traditions".

The peculiar feature of the Indian society, even today, is the caste system. Caste was based on birth and one has to work according to his/her caste. The caste may also have sub-caste. For example, Maratha caste has Kunbi-Maratha as sub-caste. All the castes are grouped into four Varnas:

  1. Brahmin (priests): caste eg: Pancha-Gauda. (its one of the division)
  2. Kshatriya (warriors): caste eg: Marathas.
  3. Vaishya (Traders): caste eg: Maheshwaris.
  4. Shudra (workers and slaves): caste eg: Mahars.

Sometime the term "Vedic culture" is used interchangeably used with "Brahminic culture". That's why villages or towns which followed Vedic traditions were called "Brahmin" villages or towns.

In India, there was (the caste system was officially abolished by Articles 15 to 18 - Indian Constitution) a very strong caste-based society. But there were never separate villages for different castes. However, there were separate parts of the same village for separate castes. Only the Shudras or Chandals live outside the villages, but not in separate villages.

Even if the single-caste-town exists in ancient India, it is very rare, almost negligible.

So, There is no question of the practice of the single-caste-town going out of fashion. However, there is a question of caste system itself going out of fashion. There is no longer a caste classification according to Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

Today, due to reservation policies, instead of asking castes, people are asking "who are you, Open, OBC, ST-SC or NT".

Even though there are lot of caste problems, mainly due to electoral politics, thanks to India's Constitutional Fathers the caste system is on the verge of elimination.

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+1 Thx for naming those books. I'll put the 2nd (by A. L. Bashmam) on my reading list. Lots of 1-star reviews with reservations voiced on amazon.com (basically all say saying "too strong Marxist bias") made me skip the 1st (by Romila Thapar) so far. Could you perhaps elaborate a bit and defend your 1st recommendation, in which case I might reconsider. –  Drux Apr 22 '13 at 23:06
@Drux. It is very true that Romila Thapar is Marxist Historian. She take this stand because the way the history of India was written earlier by British administrators in India. She is against the racist theory that India was invaded by light-skinned foreigners known as Aryans, who drove the indigenous people known as Dravidians down South and imposed their Brahminic/Vedic religion on the indigenous people. She claims that the importance given to Veda by Hindus is the result of the British study of ancient Hindu texts, and not an ongoing reality. –  fortytwo Apr 23 '13 at 5:05
Excellent, so she's now also on my reading list alright: it's always good to consult more than one book on each topic. –  Drux Apr 23 '13 at 6:44
Upon request, have de-wikified this answer (and removed obsolete wiki-related comments). bhau should now start getting the rep credit he deserves, at least for future votes. If @Abhilash wants to be really nice, he might consider un-accepting and re-accepting this answer. –  T.E.D. Apr 26 '13 at 18:46
@T.E.D. The reputation earned from acceptance isn't affected by the CW status, it always goes to the original poster. Same with bounties, the only problem (reputation wise) is with upvotes. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 26 '13 at 20:19

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