The term “Sanskritization” was introduced into Indian sociology by Prof M N Srinivas.
The term refers to a process whereby people of lower caste collectively try to adopt upper caste practices and beliefs as a preliminary step to acquire higher status. Thus, it indicates a process of cultural mobility that is taking place in the traditional social system of India.
MN Srinivas in his study of the Coorg in Karnataka found that lower caste in order to raise their position in the caste hierarchy adopted some customs and practices of the Brahmin and give up their own which were considered to be impure by the higher caste, for example, they gave up meat eating, drinking liquor, animal sacrifice, imitated Brahmins in matters of dress food and rituals by doing so within a generation of so they could claim higher positions in the hierarchy of castes.
Some features of the sanskritization:
Sanskritization denotes the process in which the lower caste try to imitate the lifestyle of the upper caste in their attempt to raise their social status.
It denotes the process of upward mobility. In this process, a caste is trying to increase his position in the caste hierarchy not at once but over a period of time, it would sometimes take a period of one or two generations.
Mobility that is involved in the process of sanskritization results only in positional changes for particular caste or section of castes, and need not necessarily lead to a structural change; it means while individuals move up or down the structure as such remains the same.
The castes which enjoyed higher economic and political power but related relatively low in the ritual ranking went after sanskritization for they felt that their claim to higher position was not fully effective.
The British rule in India provided a favourable atmosphere for Sanskritization to take place. Political Independence has weakened the trend towards this change now the emphasis is on vertical social mobility and not on horizontal mobility.
Significant development in the realm of material culture has accelerated the process of sanskritization. Industrialisation, occupational mobility, mass media, communication, spread of literacy, advent of Western technology, improvement in transportation system etc, has speeded up the process of sanskritization.