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Class 12 History Chapter 3 Kinship Caste And Class
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Kinship, Caste And Class
Chapter – 3
PART – I
Very Short Answer Type Questions
Q.1. Who was V. S. Sukthankar ? What did he do?
Ans : V. S. Sukthankar was a noted Indian Sanskritist. Under his leadership, the task of preparing critical edition of the Mahabharata was started.
It involved collecting Sanskrit manuscripts of the text from different parts of the country and selecting verses which were common to most texts. These were published in several volumes and took 47 years to complete.
Q.2. Name the Chinese pilgrims who came to India in the 5th and 7th century.
Ans: a) In the 5th century the Chinese Buddhist monk Fa Xian visited India.
b) In the 7th century Xuan Zang visited India. Both have commented on the treatment meted out to the untouchables.
Q.3. How many forms of marriage were recognised by the Dharmashastras?
Ans : The Dharmashastras recognised eight forms of marriage. Of these the first four were considered as were condemned. Possibly the “condemned” forms were practised by those who did not accept Brahmanical norms.
Q.4. How important were mothers during this period ?
Ans : The fact that the names of the Satavahana rulers were derived from their mothers would indicate their importance.
But this seems doubtful as succession to the throne was generally patrilineal.
Q.5. Who were Kauravas and Pandavas? How did their kinship relation changed?
Ans : Kauravas and Pandavas were two groups of cousins. They belong to single ruling family that of the Kurus.
The Mahabharata gives us information that the kinship relation between them changed greatly. The Mahabharata described a fend over land and power between these groups.
Q.6. Mention about the way in which mother were viewed in early Indian society.
Ans : Generally mothers were viewed as the most affectionate member of the family. She was given proper regards by all members of the family. But it was not necessary that at every time her advised followed by her sons. Sometimes her advised were neglected.
Q.7. Who was Ghatotkacha?
Ans: He was son of Bhima, a second Pandava and a lady named Hidimba (she was sister of a man-eating rakshasa) in due course of time the mother of Ghatotkacha and he himself left the Pandavas. Ghatotkacha promised to return to the Pandavas when ever they needed him.
Q.8. Who is said to have composed the Mahabharata?
Ans : The composition of Mahabharata is traditionally assigned to Vyasa but it could not have been a work of a single author as it is said to be composed over a period of 1000 years-500 BCE onwards.
Q.9. Distinguish between the terms patriling and matriliny.
Ans: Patriling means tracing descent from father to son, grandson so on. In contrast matriling is the term used when descent is traced through the mother.
Q.10. How did the Political and Economic changes that occurred in 600 BC to 600 A.D. Affect the contemporary society?
Ans : a) There was an expansion of agriculture in the forest areas. It brought a change in the life-style of the people.
b) There was an elite social group in the experts of craft and sculpture.
c) There was an increase in social diversities because of an unequal distribution of property.
B. Textual Questions & Answers:
Q.1. Explain why patriliny may have been particularly important among elite families.
Ans : i) Patriliny is a system where descent is traced through the father. Though it existed prior to the composition of the Mahabharata, its importance was reinforced by the central story of this epic.
ii) It was important since daughters were regarded as inferior and it allowed sons to claim the wealth and property (including the throne in the case of kings) of their fathers when they died.
iii) However there were exception to this practice when there were no sons.
iv) Sometimes brothers succeeded one another or other kinsmen claimed the throne.
v) In very exceptional circumstances women like Prabhawati Gupta exercised power.
Q.2. Discuss whether kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas.
Ans : Dharmasatras and Dharmashastras compiled between C500- 200 BCE lay down code of social behaviour and ideal order in great detail especially the duties of each caste. Caste status was determined by birth and was prescribed under the four fold varna hierarchy in which the Brahmanas were ranked first followed by Khatriyas and Vaisyas and Shudras or untouchables at the bottom.
The Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras contained rules about ‘ideal’ occupations of the four categories or varnas. As per this the Kshatriyas were to “engage in warface”, protect people, administer justice, study the Vedas, get sacrifices performed and make/give gifts.
The Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras stated that only kshatriyas could be kings. However several important ruling lineages had different origins.
i) Mauryas : Brahmanical texts describe them of being of low origin while Buddhist texts term them as kshatriyas.
ii) The Sungas and Kanvas, the successors of Mauryas were bas boinam Brahmans.
iii) The Shaka rulers were regarded as mlecchas barbarians or outsiders by Brahmans.
iv) The Satavahana rulers were Brahmans.
The political power was effectively open to anyone who could muster support and resources and rarely depended on birth as Kshatriyas.
Q.3. Compare and contrast the dharma or norms mentioned in the stories of Drona, Hidimba and Matanga.
Ans: According to dharma or norms mention that Dronacharya was a teacher and per his social role he had to teach archery to the Kuru princes, when a youngman named Ekalavya, a forest dwelling nishada (a hunting community) Guru Dronacharya refused to have him as his pupil, Ekalavaya returned to the forest, and he became excellent archer. Panday tracked down Ekalavya, who introduced himself as a pupil of Drona. Drona had once told him favourite student Arjuna, that he would be unrivalled amongst his pupils.
Drona demanded his right thumb as his fee, Ekalavya unhesitatingly cut it off and offered it. But there after, when he shot with his remaining fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been before. Thus, Drona kept his word no one was better than Arjuna. The Pandavas had fled into the forest. A man-eating rakshasa caught the scent of the Pandavas and sent his sister Hidimba to capture them. She fell in love with Bhima, transformed herself into a lovely maiden and proposed to him. He refused ultimately, Yudhisthira agreed to the marriage on condition that they would spend the day together but that Bhima would return every night.
The couple roamed all over the world during the day. In due course Hidimba gave birth to a rakshasa boy named Ghatotkacha. Then the mother and son left the Pandavas. Some historians suggest that the term rakshasa is used to describe people whose practices differed from those laid down in Brahmanical texts.
According to the Matanga Jataka. Once the Bodhisatta (Gautam Buddha) was born outside the city of Banaras as a chandala’s son and named Mantanga. One day, when he had gone to the city on some work, he encountered Dittha Mangalika, the daughter of a merchant. Both of them married and had a son. Matanga gave up family life and went to attain salvation through meditation. One day, Matanga, dressed in rags, with a clay alms bowl in his hand, arrived at his son’s doorstep and begged for food. Mandavya replied that he looked like an outcaste and was unworthy of alms the food was meant for the Brahmanas.
mandavya lost his temper and asked his servants to throw the man out. Matanga rose in the air and disappeared. When Dittha Mangalika learnt about the incident, she followed Matanga and begged his forgiveness. He asked her to take a bit of the leftover from his bowl and give it to Mandavya and the Brahmanas. All the three stories indicate that ancient Indian society was not having equality of all people whether it was education or matrimonial alliances or treatment to religious saints. One thing was common that norms fixed by religious books or traditions laid down by text were honoured by teacher, people of elite families and common persons of city. All systems favoured upper caste and classes of the society.
Q.4. In what ways was the Buddhist theory of a social contract different from the Brahmanical view of society derived from the purusha sukta ?
Ans : According to the purusha sukta of the Rigveda, the four varnas emerged because of the sacrifice of purusha, the primeval man. These varnas were- Brahamans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. These Vamas had different jobs. The Brahmans enjoyed the supreme position in the society. They used to study Dharma Shastras. They also taught others. The Kshatriyas were brave warriors. They ran the administration. The Vaishyas were was inequality in the society. In this system, only the birth was the basis of status and prestige in society.
The Buddhist concept was contrary to this Brahmanical notion. They accepted that there was an inequality in the society. But according to them, this inequality was neither natural nor permanent. They also rejected birth as the base of social prestige.
Q.5. The following is an expect from the Mahabharata, in which Yudhisthira, the eldest pandava, speaks to Sanjaya, a messenger:
Sanjaya, convey my respectful greetings to all the Brahmanas and the chief priest of the house of Dhritarashtra, I bow respectfully to teacher Drona.. . . I hold the feet of our preceptor Kripa ………. (and) the chief of the Kurus, the great Bhishma. I bow respectfully to the old king (Dhritarashtra). I great and ask after the health of his son Duryodhana and his younger brother …….. Also great all the young Kuru warriors who are our brothers, sons and grandsons … Greet above all him, who is to us like father and mother, the wise vidura (born of a slava woman)… I bow to the elderly ladies who are known as our mothers. To those who are our wives you say this, “I hope they are well- protected” …….. Our daughters -in – low born of good families and mothers of children greet on my behalf. Embrace for me those who are our daughters… The beautiful, fragrant, well- dressed courtesans of ours you should also greet. Greet the slave women and their children, great the aged, the naimed (and) the helpless…
Try and identify the criteria used to make this list-in terms of age , gender , kinship ties. Are there any other criteria? For each category, explain why they are placed in a particular position in the list.
Ans: The criteria used is a mix of age, gender and kinship ties as well as their standing in society. Yudhisthira first greets Brahmans and the chief priest due as much to age as to norms of the caste system which render Brahmans worthy of the utmost respect moreover being advisors to the king they are of great importance. After Brahmans, one’s guru and king are important hence he greets Drona, Bhisma and then the king (Dhritarashtra). Next Yudhisthira greets all his kin-Duryodhana and all the Kuru warriors then Yudhisthira greets the womenfolk, the mothers, wives, daughters-in-law etc. He probably keeps their importance in the social setup in mind while greeting them. Thus women are greeted last and the Brahmans first.
Write a Short Essay on the Following
Q.6. This is what a famous historian of indian literature, Maurice Winternitz, wrote about the Mahabharata, “just because the Mahabharata represents more of an entire literature…. and contains so much and so many kinds of things, ……… (it) gives (s) us an insight into the most profound depths of the soul of the Indian folk.” Discuss.
Ans : There are several literacy sources to reconstruct ancient Indian history. Mahabharata is one of them. This is a famous historical source. Its importance has been recognised in not by Indian historian but also by foreign and western historian. For example Maurice, Winternitz wrote about great epic, just because the Mahabharata represents more of an entire literature. It Contains to so many kinds of hints related with different aspects of the Indians lives. If we study this vast book it gives us and inside into the most profound depth of the soul of the Indian people. For example, Mahabharata won written in Sanskrit, a language meant also exclusively for priests and elites.
However, the Sanskrit used in simpler than that of the vedas. Therefore it was probably widely understood. Historians usually classify the contents of the present text under two broad heads sections that contain stories, designated as the narrative, and sections that contain prescriptions about social norms, designated as didactice. This division is by no means waterlight the didactice sections include stories and the narrative often contains a social message.
However, generally historians agree that the Mahabharata was meant to be a dramatic, moving story and that the didactice portions were probably added later. Interestingly, the text is described as an itihase within early sanskrit tradition. The literal meaning of the term is “thus it was”, which is why it is generally translated as “history”. Was there a real war that was remembered in the epic? We are not sure. Some historians think that the memory of an actual conflict amongst kinfolk was preserved in the
narrative, others point out that there is no other corroborative evidence of the battle. Who wrote the mahabharata, This is a question to which there are several answers.
The original story was probably composed by charioteer-bards known as sutas who generally accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battlefield and composed poems celebrating their victories and other achievements. These compositions circulated orally. Then, from the fifth century BCE, Brahmanas took over the story and began to commit it to those of the Kurus and panchalas, around whom the story of the epic revolves, were gradually becoming kingdoms. Did the new kings want their itihasa to be recorded and preserved more systematically? It is also possible that the upheavals that often accompanied the establishment of these states, where old social values were often replaced by new norms, are reflected in some parts of the story, The mahabharata, like any major epic, contains vivid descriptions of battles, forests palaces and settlements.
This book described not only kinship, political life of that period but also social priority based on caste, sex and social classes. We can find about some major feature of family life such as ideal of patriliny, different forms of marriage and rules related with marriage system, the social position of women, however mothers important in the society. Social differences Prevailed in the social system of India. Some thorns were occupied even by known Kshtriya kings. The epic also deals about jatti and social mobility etc.
Q.7. Discuss whether the Mahabharata could have been the work of a single author.
Ans : The Mahabharata represents one of the richest texts of the subcontinent, it’s a colossal epic running in its present from into over 100,000 verses. As it survives today it’s the longest single poem in the. world. The composition of Mahabharata is traditionally assigned to Vyasa but it could not have been the work of a single author.
The central theme of Mahabharata is about two warring cousins who belonged to the single ruling family Kurus – the Kauravas and the pandavas over land and Originally the Mahabharata may have been a description of a local feud, over time it acquired a number of episodes (some which were unrelated to the main story) and a variety of interpolations. This clearly indicates how it was not written by a single person. The original story was probably composed by charioteer bards known as ‘sutas’ who generally accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battlefields and composed poems celebrating their victories and other achievements.
These compositions circulated orally. Then from 5th century B.C.E. Brahamans took over the story and began to commit it to writing. This corresponds to the time when chiefdoms such as those of Kurus and panchalas were gradually becoming kingdoms. In fact upheavals that often accompanied the establishment of these states, where old social values were often replaced by new norms. and reflected in some parts of the story. The third noticeable phase in the composition of the text is between 200 BCE and 200 CE. This was the period when worship of vishnu was growing in importance.
Krishna one of the important figures in Mahabharata was coming to be identified with vishnu. Other phase is between centuries 200-400 BCE when didactic sections, Manusmriti were added. In fact the narrative and didactic sections clearly establish the fact that it is difficult to identify a single author. Thus the Mahabharata clearly underwent stages of growth.
a) First it was originally compiled.
b) It was mythologized finally.
Mahabharata reflects different stages of social evolution from early vedic period to later Vedic period, to urbanization of 6th century BCE to Gupta period. It was composed over a period of 1000 years.
Mahabharata is a dynamic text whose growth did not stop with its Sanskrit version. Over centuries versions of the epic were written in a variety of languages through an ongoing process of dialogue between peoples, communities, and those who wrote the texts. Several stories that originated in specific regions or circulated amongst people found their way into the epic was often retold in different ways, episodes depicted in sculpture and painting. They provided themes for a wide range of performing arts- plays, dance and other kinds of narrations.
Q.8. How important were gender differences in early societies? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans : There were three main reasons of gender differences in early societies and these were-
a) Gender inequality patrilineal system.
b) Gotra of woman.
c) Right over property.
a) Gender inequality Patrilineal system : Earlier societies were male dominated societies and were running according to patrilineal system. That’s why male child was desired in every type of family as sons were important for the continuity of the patrilineage. Daughters were viewed rather differently in this system. They had no right over ancestral resources. They were expected to marry out of their gotras. This custom of marriage is known as ‘exogamy’, It means that young girls and women of reputed families were regulated in a way that they could marry at right time and with right person. This gave rise to the belief that Kanyadana was an important religious duty of the father.
b) Gotra of women : From C1000BCE onwards, people were classified into gotras by Brahmanas. Each gotra was named after a vedic seer as all the members of that gotra were assumed as the descendants of that seer. There were two important rules of gotras.
i) Woman had to adopt gotra of her husband after her marriage .
ii) Members of same gotra could not marry with each other.
But some evidences have been found in which these rules were not obeyed. For example some of the Satavahana rulers had more than one wife (Polygynous). A study of the names of wives of Satavahana rulers revealed that few of them bad names derived from gotras such as Gotama and Vasistha which were their father’s gotras. They probably had retained these names instead of adopting names of their husbands gotras. Some women also belonged to the same gotra as of their husbands.
This fact was against the rules of exogamy. This fact actually exemplified an alternative practice that of endogamy or marriage within the kin group. This type of marriage still exists in many communities of South India. These sorts of marital relations give strength to organised communities. Satavahana rulers were identified through the names derived from that of the mother. Although this may suggest that mothers were important b but we should note down the fact that succession to the throne, among Satavahanas, was generally patrilineal.
c) Access to property : According to Manusmriti, ancestral property of parents should be distributed (after their death) equally among all the sons. But eldest son should be given special share. Women could not demand their share in these ancestral resources. But they had the right over the gifts given to her at the time of her marriage. It was known as stridhan or womans wealth. This wealth could be inherited by her children. Their husbands had no right over this wealth. But Manusmriti restricts women to secretly collect any valuable goods or familial property without the permission of their husbands.
Some evidences indicate that yet women of upper class had resources within their reach but still land, animals and wealth were under the control of males. In other words, social differences among men and women were increased because of the difference in access of resources or property.
Q.9. Discuss the evidence that suggests that Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not universally followed.
Ans : Patriliny is system where descent is traced through the father. Though it existed prior to the composition of the Mahabharata, its importance was reinforced by the central story of this epic. It was important since daughters were regarded as inferior and it allowed sons to claim the wealth and property (including the throne in the case of kings) of their fathers when they died, However there were exception to this practice when there were no sons. Sometimes brothers succeeded one another or other kinsmen claimed the throne.
In very exceptional circumstances women like Prabhavati Gupta exercised power. Daughters were treated differently from sons and had no claims to the resources of the family. At the same time, it was considered desirable to merry them into families outside the kin or extended family and increase the prestige of the family. Consequently the lives of young girls and women of high status families were regulated to ensure that they married the right person at the right time. This led to the belief that Kanyadana was an important religious duty of the father.
The Brahmans classified people in terms of gotras. Each gotra was named after a vedic seer. All those who belonged to the same gotra were regarded as his descendants. According to the rules of the gotr, women were supposed to adopt the gotra of their husband after marriage. Moreover members of the same gotra could not marry each other. The names of many men and women in ancient times reflected the gotras to which they belonged.
This is particularly true for powerful ruling families such as the Satavahanas. Several inscriptions of this dynasty have been found which have allowed historians to trace family ties including marriage. An examination of the names of women who married Satavahana rulers show that many names were derived from gotras such as Gotama and Vasistha which were their father’s gotra. Thus, contrary to Brahmanical norms these women did not adopt the names associated with their husbands gotra. Also some of the women belonged to the same gotra as their husbands.
This was against the ideal of exogamy extolled by the Brahmanical texts. In fact, it represented the practice of endogamy marriage within the kingroup. Though against Brahmanical gotra rules, endogamous marriages were widely prevalent in southern India. Such marriages ensured a close knit society. Thus considerable deviations from gotra rules existed in the Indian subcontinent.
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