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The term Jajman has its origin in the Sanskrit word yajñamān (यज्ञमान), which means the patron who holds the yajna (Sanskrit: यज्ञ, fire worship) which is conducted by the Brahmin (priest) in lieu of Dakshina (Hindi: दक्षिणा, gift). It got converted to Yajman and finally to Jajman.
According to the Jajmani System, there is exchange of goods and services between landowning higher castes and landless service castes. The service castes traditionally include weavers, leather workers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, barbers, washermen and so constitute groups of artisans serving the community. The landed higher caste Jajman are the patrons, and the service castes are the kameen (servers) of the jajman. The Jajmani system is based on the agricultural system of production and distribution of goods and services. It is the link between the landowning high caste groups and occupational castes.
Oscar Lewis mentions that each caste group within a village is traditionally bound to give certain standardized services to the families of other castes. While the landowning high caste families receive services from lower castes and, in return, the members of low castes receive grains.
The terminology of Jajmani System was introduced into the Indian social anthropology by William Wiser. In his study of a village in Uttar Pradesh, he discovered how different castes interacted with one another in the production and exchange of goods and services. It was found that, with some variations, this system existed throughout India.
Characteristics of Jajmani Systems
The Jajmani System is characterised by the following:
- Relationship under Jajmani was permanent
- Jajmani was hereditary
- Castes received grains against services rendered
- Barter system
- establish good relations between higher and lower castes
Various studies of the Jajmani system in India have been made. Oscar Lewis studied Jajmani in North Indian villages. Jajmani in Eastern U.P was studied in 1955 by Opler and Singh and in 1955 N.S. Reddy studied this system in North India. Miller studied Jajmani system in Cochin in 1952, and in 1955, Sri Niwas and Bir Singh studied the same system in Mysore District. S.C. Dube’s Indian villages are based on his classics study of Jajmani in Hyderabad. Jajmani in Tanjore was studied by though in 1955. In Gujarat Jajmani was studied by steel in 1953. An early study, in 1934, of Jajmani in Punjab was made by darling. All these studies revealed and confirmed the universality of this system in Rural India but they also revealed that there were minor variations in the system from regions to region.
Interactions between the oonchi zat (upper caste) and neechi zat (lower caste) are regulated by established patron-client relationships of the jajmani system, the upper castes being referred to as the 'Jajmans', and the lower caste as 'Kamin'.
- Shabdkosh.com. "What is the meaning of the word Jajman ? - Language Forums by Shabdkosh.com - Shabdkosh.com". www.shabdkosh.com.
- John H. Bodley; Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System; Page 314; https://books.google.com/books?id=COgW94KxVL4C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Jajmani System in Rural Society http://www.sociologyguide.com/rural-sociology/jajmani-system-rural-society.php
- "Ewcwwp013.pdf" (PDF).