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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Pancamas, PaJcamas, Paycamas

Pañcamas literally means ‘those who belong to the fifth caste’.

The four varṇas[1] into which the society was divided is well-known. Certain castes which were considered as outside this category, were relegated to the ‘fifth’[2] place. Almost all those who have been listed among the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the country come under this category.


  1. Varṇas means castes.
  2. Fifth means pañcama.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore