During Mahabharata period, if at all it had historically taken place, or during the period of the formation of the Epic Mahabharata i.e. approximately the Gupta Dynasty Rule of 4th Century CE circa, the Priests Class (I do not want mean this Priests Class to refer to Birth Brahmin Caste of 21st Century India), consider themselves as WHITE BODY COLORED PERSONS, while other three castes i.e. kshatriya warriors as red, vysya cultivators and traders as yellow, and sudra servant castes as fair (Not necessarily coal black). I quote below the relevant Verses from Vyasa Mahabharata for our Readers' benefit:--
WORD OF CAUTION
During these thousands of years, several inter-caste (inter-racial?) marriages might have taken place, or concealed sexual relationships might have taken place. And today we cannot attribute castes or body colors to anybody. Today everything is like a 'chemical compound' where the constituting elements lose their characteristics, and the new compound exhibits its own characteristics. Hence, whatever is observed here, as might have taken place, pertains to the Mahabharata period, and not to the 21st Century.
vyAsa mahAbharata in Sanskrit language. vyAsa, is also known as KRISHNA DVAIPAYANA.
--Santi Parva 181 005 (bhrigu explained to bharadvAja):
brahmaNAnAm sito varNah kshatriyANAm tu lohitah-
vaiSyAnAm pItako varNah SUdrANAm asitas tathA
English gist: brahmins have white color. kshatriyas have red color. vaisyas have yellow color. sUdras have black color.
Context in mahAbhArata epic.
mahAbhArata Epic is compared to a sugar cane full of juice. Each parva is a part of the cane. mahAbhArata has 18 main parvAs. Sub-divisions in the parvAs are also called parvAs.
Santi Parva means the Sugarcane segment of "Peace". This is the 12th volume of the mahAbhArata epic. It is very voluminous with hundreds of chapters.
Brief narration of story completed upto this point: PAnDavas and kauravas were paternal cousins. They fought a fierce battle, which resulted in annihilation of huge armies. pAnDavas were five brothers. The eldest, yudhishThira (also called dharma or, dharmarAja (the king of righteousness), became the new emperor/king.
Though yudhishThira won the battle and became the supremo, he suffered from a complex of guilt of killing grand parents, uncles, cousins, relatives. He felt that he was full of 'kilbisham', i.e. sin.
Great Grand sire and protector of the race, bhIshma pitAmaha was still alive. He was lying on a bed of arrows, awaiting the arrival of auspicious uttarAyaNa (Northern winter solstice, when sun changes his direction towards North at the line of Capricorn.)
yudhishThira fell at the feet of Grand Sire and sought solace. Grand sire bhIshma gave him a long discourse on duties of kings, what was good and what was not good, etc. This discourse is so long that we need several weeks or months to comprehend its full spirit and purport and tenor.
Context of this quote in SAnti parva (vol. 12 of mahAbhArata).bhIshma was speaking to yudhishThira. bhIshma narrated the conversation between two sages. The first sage was bhrigu, here the preceptor. The second sage was bharadwAja (or bharadvAja) inquirer. bharadvAja asked bhrigu about the origin of this Universe, humans, etc. bhrigu explained him the whole thing in nearly a 100 verses.
This verse is a part of explanation of the four caste system prevailing in Hindus of India. brAhmaNas (priests), kshatrias (warriors), vysyas (agriculturists and merchants), and sUdras (or soodras = servants) were the four castes or classes. The verse attributes colors to the bodies of these casstes.
ybrao a donkey's (this blogger's) comments
Hitherto we know that Americans and Europeans have this obsession with colors of bodies of people (racialism?). People were segregated into whites, blacks, yellow colored people (mongols or Chinese?), hispanic etc. etc. Residents of India were treated as brownies.
Indians today have bodies with mixed complexions. Transformation of white body color to black over centuries is due to presence of skin pigment 'melanin' to guard against sun's heat. Less melanin meant whiter color of body. Diseases like Psoriasis can also cause loss of melanin and formation of scales, resulting in white patches and even totally white body.
Many historians accept that Aryans migrated from North Europe to North West India, through Central Asia and Afghanisthan. Great Indian patriot late LOkmAnya bAla gangAdhar tilak too felt that Aryans came to India from polar regions. I too (this blogger) personally felt that Aryans might have come from LaTvia, Lithuania, Finland or Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden), or in other words Baltics and North Sea.
Many Indians, owing to excess patriotism, seem to believe that Aryans were natives of India. They feel that India had great civilisation when Europeans didn't still learn how to clothe themselves and that Aryans dispersed from India to various parts of the world and taught civilisation to the whole world. They quote some common words between English and Sanskrit, such as mother , father, brother, two, three, etc. as evidence of Sanskrit being the mother of English. They ignore that the commonality of vocabulary was due to the common parentage of Indo European prototype, which apparently had a Scandinavian origin.
Loving one's own country and its civilisation is good. At the same time, we cannot ignore facts or indications which may lead us to probable facts. Indians forget that they are a mixed population and a sort of hybrid race, a result from the interminging of numerous races including Aryans. They seem to believe that if they concede the proof of Aryans having come from North Europe, it may tantamount to their accepting that they were foreigners living in India. For this reason only, they advocate the theory that Aryans originated in India and spread to the whole world.
When I raised this issue of Aryan foreign origin with some of my friends, they banged me for being swept away by British stories. I withdrew at that moment, because I didn't have sufficient solid evidence.
This verse probably serves as one of such evidences.
If Aryans were natives of India, they ought to have regarded black as natural color, instead of white. In the above verse, the highest caste- brahmins (priests) were given the white color, second down rulers were given red color, agriculturists and merchants were given yellow color, and the lowest caste sUdras were given black color.
European Aryans who migrated into India were very conscious of the white and red color of their bodies. The Indian natives, whom the Aryans conquered, but were admitted into Aryan Society at the lowest rung, naturally had their melanin and their black color. They were called SUdras and entrusted with menial duties.
Aryans didn't want their white and red complexions to be lost by constant marrital relationships with native Indians. For this reason only, they seemed to have developed the anulOma and vilOma marriage systems. For the information of readers, I briefly explain below the anuloma and vilOma marriages.
anulOma marriages: An upper caste man can marry a girl of a lower caste. Example: A brahmin can marry a warrior caste girl, a agri-trader caste girl, a servant caste girl. A warrior caste man can marry, an agri-trader girl, and a servant caste girl. An agri-trader man can marry a servant caste girl. Though anulOma marriages were allowed, they were not encouraged because descendents would have had darker colors. People born from anulOma marriages were given lower social status calling them sUtas (charioteers), mAgadhAs (court flatterers), parasavas et al. At every stage they were insulted. Readers can recall how bhIma insulted karNa, a sUta comparing him to a dog tasting sacrificial food.
vilOma marriages: A lower caste man marrying an upper caste girl. This was never permitted (exception: Priest SukrAcArya forcing king yayAti to marry his daughter (Sukra's daughter) dEvayAni, a vilOma marriage). Descendents from vilOma marriages were condemnded as canDAlAs and forced to stay outside villages, eating dead animals, and cleaning/tanning animal carcasses and skins.
Prohibiting vilOma marriages had another nefarious intent. White men through anulOma can conveniently use darker native girls for satisfying their lust. At the same time, the same white men did n't want their sisters and daughters to be attracted by handsome darker men of Indian native races. Even in 21st Century some of these remnants continue, in what we now call as HONOR KILLINGS where relatives do not tolerate inter-caste marriages and kill loving couples.
Thus it is clear that Aryans discriminated people on the basis of body color. If Aryans are considered as natives of India, this racial discrimination also will have an Indian origin. In that case, should we say that when the entire world was not civilised enough to wear a loin cloth, and when Indians taught them to wear it by migrating to Europe, Indian Native Aryans also taught racial discrimination to Europeans and Americans?
Probable fact: Racial discrimination is a trait of Europe. Regarding Aryans as European migrants to India, with their obsession with white body color, and disdain to black Indian natives of those days, seems to be more meaningful. Aryans were Europeans, and hence they are more worried about their white and red colors.