NCERT Solutions For Class 12 History Chapter 3 Kinship, Caste and Class Early Societies
NCERT TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS SOLVED
1. Explain why patriliny may have been particularly important among elite families.
Ans: Patriliny is the system through which descent from father to son and grandson is traced. The principle of patriliny would have been essential for the elite families for the following reasons:
Continuity of Dynasty: As per the Dharmashastras, it was an established belief that the son carried forward the dynasty. That was the main reason that the families wished for sons not for daughters. A couplet of Rigveda also substantiates this view. In this couplet, a father at the time of the marriage of his daughter wishes that she should have best sons with the grace of Lord Shiva.
Inheritance: In royal families, the acquisition of throne was included in the inheritance. After the death of a king, his eldest son was supposed to inherit the throne. After the death of the parents, the property was to be equally divided among all the sons. In fact, parents avoided disputes in the family after their death. Most of the royal families followed the patriliny since 600 B.C. But sometimes this system had exceptions also.
- The brother of the king ascended the throne in case the former had no son.
- Relatives also claimed inheritance of the throne.
- In some special cases, women also ascended the throne like Prabhavati Gupta.
2. Discuss whether kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas.
Ans: According to the Shastras, only Kshatriyas could be kings. Their functions were to ‘ engage in warfare, protect people and administer justice. But the kings in early states were not invariably Kshatriyas. Several important ruling lineages probably had different origins as mentioned below :
- Regarding the Mauryas, the Buddhist texts suggested they were Kshatriyas but Brahmanical texts described them as being of “low” origin.
- The Shungas and Kanvas were Brahmanas.
- The Shakas who came from Central Asia, were regarded as mlechchhas, barbarians or outsiders by the Brahmanas.
- The best known ruler of the Satavahana dynasty, Gotami-puta Siri-Satakani, claimed to be both a unique Brahmana and a destroyer of the pride of Kshatriyas.
Thus, it appears that political power was effectively open to anyone who could muster : support and resources, and rarely depended on birth as a Kshatriya.
3. Compare and contrast the dharma or norms mentioned in the stories of Drona, Hidimba andMatanga.
Ans: Drona: Drona was a Brahmanas. As per the Dharmashastras, it was the duty of the Brahmana to impart education. It was considered a pious deed of the Brahmanas. Drona was also following that system. He was imparting education. He taught archery to the princes of the Kuru Dynasty. In those days, people of low caste were not entitled to get education. Keeping this view in mind, Drona refused imparting education to Ekalavya. But in the course of time, Ekalavya learnt archery and acquired great skill. But Drona demanded right thumb of Ekalavya as his teaching fee. This was against religious norms. In fact, Drona did this just to ensure that no one could be better archer than Aijuna in the field of archery.
Hidimba: Hidimba was a lady demon, that is rakshasini. In fact, all the rakshasas were man-eaters. One day her brother asked her to catch Pandavas so that he may eat them. But Hidimba did not follow this. She fell in love with Bhima and married him. A rakshasa boy was bom to him, named Ghatotkacha. In this way, Hidimba did not keep ; the norms of rakshasas.
Matanga: Matanga was Boddhisatta who was bom in the family of a chandala. But he married Dittha Mangalika who was the daughter of a merchant. A son was bom to him named Mandavya Kumara. In the course of time he learnt three Vedas. He used to offer food to sixteen hundred Brahmanas every day.’But when his father appeared before him dressed in rags with a clay alms bowl in his hand, he refused to offer food to him. The reason was that, he considered his father as outcaste and his food was meant for Brahmanas only. Matanga advised his son not to be proud of his birth. After saying this, he disappeared into the air. When Dittha Mahgalika knew this incident, she went after Matanga and begged his forgiveness. This way acted like a true wife. She performed her duty religiously. A donor is considered generous. But Mandavya failed to follow the norms of religion and generosity.
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: The Brahmanical view of society derived from the Purusha sukta describes the four social .categories to have emanated from the body of Purusha : The Brahmana was his mouth. The Kshatriya was made of his arms. His thigh became the Vaishya and of his feet the Shudra was born. Thus, the four social categories or vamas – Brahmana, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras were result of a divine order. The Brahmanas often cited this verse to justify their claims for ideal occupations of four vamas. They also attempted to persuade people that their status was determined by birth.
On the other hand, the Buddhists in the Sutta Pitaka suggested that originally human beings did not have fully evolved bodily forms, nor was the world of plants fully developed. All beings lived in an idyllic state of peace, taking from nature only what they needed for each meal.
However, in due course of time, human beings became greedy, vindictive and deceitful. This led to deterioration of their condition. They felt some authority to control them and he would get something in return from the people. Thus, the institution of kingship came into existence and people could change it in future in accordance with their needs. It was, therefore, a social contract and not a divine order.
5. The following is an excerpt from the Mahabharata in which Yudhisthira, the eldest Jandava, speaks to Sanjaya, a messenger:
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: Not only age, gender and kinship ties but there were other factors too which were considered to prepare the list.
The Brahmana, the Purohits and the Gums were bestowed the highest honours. They all were widely respected.
Fraternal kins were also given respects who were considered like parents. People who were of equal age of younger were placed at the third rank. In the next order, the young Kuru warriors were respected.Women also received due place. Wives, mothers, daughters-in-law and daughters came in this order. Orphans and handicapped had also been taken care of. Yudhisthira also greets them.
6. This is what a famous historian of Indian literature, Maurice Wintemitz, wrote about the Mahabharata: “Just because the Mahabharata represents more of an entire literature…. and contains so many kinds of things….(it) give(s) us an insight into the most profound depths of the soul of the Indian folk.” Discuss.
Ans: Plenty of literary sources are available to reconstruct the ancient Indian history.
Mahabharata is one of them. It is an important literary and historical source. Its importance has been recognised even by the foreign writers. Its importance has also been recognised by Maurice Wintemitz because in his opinion the Mahabharata represents an entire literature. This great epic is full of various examples of different aspects of the Indians life. The reading of the Mahabharata gives a profound depth of the soul of the Indian folk. It has been written in simple Sanskrit and therefore widely understood.
Generally, historians classify the contents of the Mahabharata under two sections.They are narrative and didactic. Narrative section contains stories and didactic sections contains prescriptions about social norms. But at some instances, there were intermingling also.
Many historians believe that the Mahabharata was a dramatic, moving story and that the didactic portions were a later interpolation.
We get several different views about the authorship of the Mahabharata. It was believed that the original stories were composed by Sutas. Sutas were charioteer bards. They accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battle field and composed poems celebrating their victories other achievements. These compositions were circulated orally. From the fifth, century BCE onwards, Brahmanas took over the story and started writing story.This great epic contains vivid descriptions of battles, forests, palaces and settlements.
It describes kinship, political life of the said period, social priority. Major features of the family life such as patriliny, different forms of marriage and rules related with marriage, position of women in the society, social differences of the Indian society can be traced back to the period of the Mahabharata. This great epic also describes social mobility.
7. Discuss whether the Mahabharata could have been the work of a single author.
Ans: There are so much views about the author of the Mahabharata. Following views have been put forward regarding the authorship of the Mahabharata.
•It is believed that the original story was written by the charioteer-bards known as sutas. They generally accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battle field and composed poems celebrating their victories and other achievements.
•It is also believed that in the beginning the text of the Mahabharata was orally circulated. Scholars and priests carried it from one generation to another. From the fifth century BCE, the Brahmanas took over the story and started writing.
This was the time when Kurus and Panchals were gradually becoming kingdoms.
The story of the Mahabharata also revolved round them. Some parts of the story reflect that old social values were replaced by the new ones.
• C. 200 BCE and 200 CE is another phase in the composition of the Mahabharata.
During this period worship of Vishnu was gaining ground Krishna came to be identified as Vishnu. Large didactic sections resembling the Manusmriti were added during the period between C 200 and 400 CE. These interpolations made the Mahabharata an epic consisting of 100,000 verses. This enormous composition is traditionally attributed to a sage named Vyas.
9. How important were gender differences in early societies ? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans: Gender differences in early societies were very important because it had effects on social life of men and women in the following ways :
- No share for women in the paternal estate : According to Manusmriti, the paternal estate was to be divided equally amongst sons after the death of the parents. Women could not claim a share of these resources. Women were allowed to retain the gifts they received on the occasion of their marriage as stridhana.
- No hoarding by women : Manusmriti warned women against hoarding family property, or even their own valuables, without the husband’s permission.
- There was the ideal of patriliny under which sons could claim the resources, including the throne in the case of kings, of their fathers when the latter died.
- Gotra of women : Women were expected to give up their father’s gotra and adopt that of their husband on marriage.
- Polygyny : Under polygyny, a man could have several wives. Satavahana rulers were polygynous.
- Wives to be treated as property of their husbands : Wives were treated as property of the husband because Yudhisthira after losing everything including himself had staked their common wife Draupadi in a game of dice and lost her too. However, Draupadi asked whether Yudhisthira after losing himself could stake her. The matter remained unresolved and ultimately Dhritarashtra restored to the Pandavas and Draupadi their personal freedom.
9. Discuss the evidence tliat suggests that Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and F marriage were not universally followed.
Ans: Brahmanical prescription about kinship and marriage:
Prescription about kinship:
According to Sanskrit texts the term “kula’ was used to designate families and jati for the larger network of kinfolk. The term ‘vamsha’ was used for lineage. Very often people belonging to the same family share food and other resources they live, work and perform rituals together. Families were considered as the part of larger networks of people defined as relatives a technical term used to defined them was kinfolk. While familial ties were considered “natural” and based on blood they can be defined in different ways.
For instance, some societies regard cousins as being blood relations, whereas others, do not regard as from Historians retrieve information about elite families fairly easily from it is very hard reconstruct the familial relationship of ordinary people. Historians also try to analyse their attitudes towards family and kinship. These are important, because they provide an insight into people’s thinking. It is also expected ideas would have shaped their action because their actions may have led to changes in their attitudes.
Prescription about marriage:
For the continuity of the patrilineage the sons were considered important the daughters could not over the resources of their household. They were married into families outsidethe kin. This system was known as exogamy which means marrying outside one’s kin or gotra. The women of high status families were married to the right persons at right time. Kanayadana or the gift of a daughter in marriage was considered as an important religious duty of the father. With the emergence of new means of communication people came into contact with each other and they began to share their view. So the Brahaman said down codes of their social behaviour. These codes regarding social behaviour were later on enshrined in Dharmashashtra. These text recognized eight types of marriage. Among these types of marriage the four were considered as good while the rest four as condemnable. Satvahana ruler did not follow exogamy of Brahmans.
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