Sociological analysis of Hindu caste and ritual has primarily been confined to the empirical study of local communities. In this classic work, the author adds a new dimension to such analysis by basing her data on an examination of selected myths in Puranic and Sutra literature, in particularthe Dharmaranya Purana and the Grihya Sutra, going thereby to the sources of the ideology that have given local communities their particular shape and character. The book places the discussion in the wider setting of discussions on Hinduism. This original approach, bridging the gulf that dividesIndology from Sociology, resolves many questions that had previously defied definitive explanation, and charts a fruitful alternative direction for future sociological inquiry. The Third Edition comes includes a new Preface by the author.