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Outcastes. The gravest punishment for a member of any one of the four varṇa was to be declared an outcaste, and, in former times, this outcasting would be ritually performed against anyone who seriously offended against caste laws. This effectively cut the offender off from social intercourse, religious ritual, economic gain, even home and family. This almost amounted to a sentence of death in some cases. For other categories of outcaste, and for Harijans, see UNTOUCHABLES. For those sometimes called ‘the untouchables of Japan’, see BURAKU(MIN).