Top 10 Powerful Caste In India

Written By Ahmed Raza
Reviewed By Diary Trend Staff

India is a country of many cultures, religions, languages and of course, castes. The caste system has been an integral part of Indian society for centuries. Even today, one’s caste plays an important role in social status and access to resources. Though the Indian constitution has outlawed caste-based discrimination, it is still rampant across the country.

Some castes wield more power and influence than others. Here is a look at the 10 most powerful castes in India:

1. Brahmins

The Brahmins are at the top of the caste hierarchy and considered the most learned and pure. Traditionally, they served as priests, teachers and intellectuals. Brahmins have dominated politics, business, academia and other spheres for decades.

Prominent Brahmin communities include Saraswat, Iyer, Iyengar, Joshis, Chitpavan, Deshastha, Karhade, Daivadnya, Niyogi, Panda, Rarhi, Mohyals etc. Brahmins remain a powerful caste group that comprises about 5% of India’s population.

2. Kshatriyas

The warrior rulers and aristocrats come under the Kshatriya caste. They were kings, administrators and military leaders who protected their kingdoms and maintained law and order.

The Rajputs in North India topped the Kshatriya hierarchy for centuries. Other influential communities include Marathas, Pindaris, Nepalis, Nairs, Kammas, Reddys, Vokkaligas etc. Kshatriyas comprise around 10-15% of the Indian population.

3. Vaishyas

Vaishyas were the merchants, bankers, landlords, industrialists and businessmen of traditional Indian society. They engaged in commercial activities and formed the economic elite.

Prominent Vaishya communities include Banias, Marwaris, Gujaratis, Patels, Maharashtrian Vanis etc. The Vaishya caste makes up about 15-20% of the Indian population.

4. Kayasthas

The Kayasthas worked in administrative positions under royalty. They were writers, accountants, bureaucrats and managers serving in courts and keeping official records.

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The Chitragupta Kayasthas of North India are perhaps the most influential section of this caste. Other communities include Kayasthas of West Bengal, Mathurs of UP, Karanas of Odisha etc. Kayasthas comprise around 3-5% of Indians.

5. Yadavs

The Yadavs or Ahirs were traditionally cowherds, milkmen and cattle breeders. They wield significant political power in North India today.

Prominent Yadav subcastes include Yadavs, Ahirs, Gwalas etc. The Yadav caste population in India is estimated to be around 9%.

6. Vaisyas

Visyas were traditionally involved in agriculture, dairy farming and cattle rearing activities. They form the biggest Shudra caste group in states like Haryana, Punjab, UP and Rajasthan.

Major Vaisya communities include Jats, Gujjars, Patidars, Kammas, Kapus, Reddys, Kunbis etc. They comprise around 30-35% of the Indian population.

7. Dalits

Dalits fall outside the caste hierarchy and were formerly known as untouchables. They faced exclusion from society and extreme discrimination for centuries.

Major Dalit communities include Malas, Madigas, Holeyas, Pulayas, Paraiyars, Chamars, Dusadhs, Pasis etc. Dalits form over 16% of the Indian population.

8. Tribals

Tribals refer to the indigenous communities of India residing in forests and hills. They lived outside the Hindu caste system.

Some major tribal groups include Santhals, Gonds, Bhils, Oraons, Mundas, Korkus, Baigas etc. Tribals comprise around 8% of India’s population.

9. Lingayats

Lingayats originate from Karnataka and reject caste hierarchy. They were historically known to wear the lingam.

The Lingayats community forms around 12% of Karnataka’s population and has significant political influence in the state.

10. Marathas

Marathas were warriors, peasants and landowners originally based in Maharashtra. The Maratha empire dominated India in the 17th and 18th century.

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The Marathas remain influential in Maharashtra politics and society. They comprise over 30% of the state’s population.

In Conclusion

The caste system has shaped Indian society for ages. While legal safeguards are in place, caste-based discrimination and exclusion remain harsh realities even today.

Several dominant castes like Brahmins, Banias, Rajputs, Yadavs, Jats and others have traditionally wielded more socio-economic and political clout than other caste groups.

However, as India modernizes, the hold of caste is slowly loosening, especially in urban areas. With progressive laws and attitudes, we can hope for a society where caste does not determine one’s opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most powerful caste in India?

Brahmins have traditionally been considered the most powerful and influential caste in India. However, various other dominant castes like Banias, Rajputs, Marathas, Jats, Yadavs, Patels etc. wield considerable economic and political power in their respective states and regions today.

What percentage of India’s population do Brahmins comprise?

Brahmins form around 5% of India’s total population. They remain highly influential despite being a small minority overall.

Are Kshatriyas higher than Brahmins?

No, Brahmins are at the top of the caste hierarchy followed by Kshatriyas. However, royalty and warriors did hold political power historically.

Which caste is Dalit?

Dalits are outside the caste system and considered ‘untouchables’ by upper castes. Major Dalit communities include Malas, Madigas, Chamars, Dusadhs etc.

Who are Lingayats?

Lingayats are a dominant community from Karnataka who reject caste hierarchy. They have significant political influence in the state.

Ahmed Raza

Ahmed Raza is a versatile writer featured on and notable sites like He excels in crafting insightful content across various sectors, enriching readers with his diverse expertise.

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