Varna was a hierarchical social order in ancient India, based on the Vedas. Since the Vedic corpus constitute the earliest literary source, it came to be seen as the origin of caste society. In this Brahmanical view of caste, the varnas were created on a particular occasion and have remained virtually unchanged. In the varna ordering of society notions of purity and pollution were central and activities were worked out in this context. Varna divides the society into four groups ordered in a hierarchy, the fifth being Chandala (untouchable) and therefore beyond the pale.
- Viswanath, Rupa (2014). The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India. Columbia University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-23116-306-4.
- Jha, Ashok Kumar (2013). Meghadutam. PartridgeIndia. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-48289-494-3.
- Thapar, Romila (2004). Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300. University of California Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-52024-225-8.
- Biswas, A. K. (2000). The Namasudras of Bengal: profile of a persecuted people. Blumoon Books. p. viii.
Though he is physically almost practically unknown, save and except in Bengal, calling someone a Chandal is the ultimate insult and humiliation of a Hindu anywhere under the sun.