When this book was originally published in paperback in 1971, one of the most hotly debated themes in Indian sociology was the meaning of the term caste. At one extreme Professor Dumont argued caste is an aspect of Hinduism that cannot be isolated from its religious matrix; on the other, certain American-trained sociologists represented the caste order as a specially rigid form of social class hierarchy. Aspects of Caste endeavoured to test these two hypotheses against the data. The first paper, by E. Kathleen Gough, describes the caste order of a village in Tanjore that corresponds closely to Dumont's ideal type. The second paper, by Michael Banks, relates to a Jaffna Tamil community in Northern Ceylon. Nur Yalman's paper describes a Buddhist Sinhalese community in Central Ceylon. Fredrik Barth's study of Swat in Northwestern Pakistan exhibits an even more divergent case. Edmund Leach's introductory essay discusses the general theoretical issues raised by these examples and their importance for an understanding of social issues in South Asia.