Etymology and origins
The Sanskrit term varna is derived from the root vṛ, meaning "to cover, to envelop, count, classify consider, describe or choose" (compare vṛtra).
The word appears in the Rigveda, where it means "colour, outward appearance, exterior, form, figure or shape". The word means "color, tint, dye or pigment" in the Mahabharata. Varna contextually means "colour, race, tribe, species, kind, sort, nature, character, quality, property" of an object or people in some Vedic and medieval texts. Varna refers to four social classes in the Manusmriti.