NCERT Solutions for Class 12th: Ch 3 (Theme 3) Kinship, Caste and Class (Early Socities) History

Page No: 80

Answer in 100-150 Words

1. Explain why patriliny may have been particularly important among elite families.


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 dharamshastra, it was belief that the son carried forward the dynasty. That was the main reason that the families wish for the son and not for the daughters. A couple of Rig-Veda 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.
In Royal families. The acquisition of thrones was included in the inheritance. After the death of the king, his elderly son was supposed to inherit the throne. After the death of parents, the property was equally divided among all the sons to avoid disputes in between the family. Most of the royal families followed patriliny since 600 B.C. But sometimes this system had the exception,
(a) The brother of king ascended the throne in case the former had no son.
(b) Relatives also claimed inheritance of the throne.
(c)In some special cases, women also ascended the throne like Prabhavati Gupta.

2. Discuss whether kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas.


As per the Dhramashastra, only Kshatriyas were supposed to be the kings. But it was also to be noted that important ruling lineages perhaps had different origins. Mauryas were considered Kshatriyas by many people. Some Brahmanical texts described Mauryas as of low origin. The shungas and Kanvas who were immediate successors of the Mauryans were Brahmans. In fact those section of the society controlled the political power which enjoyed support and resources. It did not depend on the question of being born as Kshatriya.
There were other rulers like shakes who came from Central Asia. But the Brahmans considered them as mlechchhas, barbarians and outsiders. Similarly Gotami-putra Satkarni, the best known ruler of Satavahana Dynasty, became a destroyer of the pride of kshatriyas. This we see that the Satavahanas claimed to be brahmanas whereas the Brahmanas were of the opinion that the kings should be Kshatriyas.

3. Compare and contrast the dharma or norms mentioned in the stories of Drona, Hidimba and Matanga.


Drona: He was Brahmanas. As per the dharamshastras, it was the duty of the brahmana to impart education. It was considered a pious deed of brahmanas. Drona was also following that system. He was imparting education. He thought 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 Arjuna in the field of Archery.
Hidimba: She was lady demon that is rakshasini. In fact all the rakshasa 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 born to him, named Ghatokacha. In this way, Hidimba did keep the norms of rakshasas.
Matanga: He was Boddhisatta who was born in the family of chandala. But he married Dittha Mangalika who was the daughter of the merchant. A son was born to him named Mandavya kumara. In the course of time he learnt three Vedas. He used to offer food to sixteen hundered 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 Mangalika 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?


The purusha sukta of the Rig Veda says that the four Varnas emerged because of the sacrifice of Purusha, the primeval man. The four varnas were Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and shudras. These Varnas had different jobs. The Brahmanas had supreme position in the society. They were also considered as teachers. Kshatriyas were considered warriors. They also ran the administration. The vaishyas were the masters of trade. The shudras were at the lowest strata. Their duty was to serve the above three varnas. Under this brahmanical system, birth was the only criteria to judge the stutus and prestige in the society.
But the Buddhist theory of a social contract was different. As per the Buddhist concept, there was inequality in society. But they also opined that this inequality was neither natural nor permanent. They did not favour the idea of birth being the criteria of social status.

5. The following is an excerpt 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 greet and ask after the health of his son Duryodhana and his younger brother ... Also greet 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 slave 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- law 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, greet the aged, the maimed (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.


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 gurus were bowed the highest honours. They all were widely respected.
Fraternal kins were also given respect who were considered like parents. People who were of equal age of younger were placed at the third rank. N the next order, the young Kuru warriors was respected.
Women also received due place. Wives, mothers, daughter-in-la and daughter came in this order. Orphans and handicapped had also been taken care of. Yudhisthira also greets them.

Page No: 81

Write a Short Essay(About 500 words) on the following:

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.


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 important has been recognised even by the foreign writers. Its important has also been recognised by Maurice Winternitz 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 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 section contains prescription 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 get several different views about the authorship of the Mahabharata was a dramatic, moving store and that the didactic portion were a later interpolation.
We get several different views about the authorship of the Mahabharta. It was believed that the original stories were composed by sutras. Sutras were charioteer beads. They accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battle field and composed poems celebrating their victories other achievement. These compositions were circulated orally. From the fifth century BCE onwards, Brahmans took over the story and started writing story and started witting story.
This great epic contains vivid description 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.


There are so much views about the author of the Mahabharata. Following views have been put forward regarding the authorship of the Mahabharata.
(a) It is believed that the original story was written by the charioteer-bards known as sutras. They generally accompanied Kshatriya warriors to the battle field and composed poems celebrating their victories and other achievements.
(b)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 Brahmans took over the story and started writing. This was the time when Kurus and Panchals were gradually becoming kingdoms. The story of the Mahabhartata also revolved round them. Some parts of the story reflect that old social values were replaced by the new ones.
(c)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 section resembling the Manuscript was added during the period between C 200 and 400 CE. This interpolation made Mahabharata an epic consisting of 100,000 verses. This enormous composition is traditionally attributed to a sage named Vyas.

8. How important were gender differences in early societies? Give reasons for your answer.


It is seen that in early societies families were generally patriliny. Patriliny means tracing descent from father to son and to grandson and so on. Matriliny family was generally not in use. But exception was also available. As exception, Satavahanas of Andhra can be mentioned. Historical sources mention the name of some rulers from inscription association with the name of the mothers of the king. As Gotami-putra means son of Gotami. Gotami and Vasistha are the ferminines of Gotama and vasistha.
Sons were consdered important for the continuity of the family. Attitudes towards daughter were different. They had no claims towards the resources of the household. But marrying them into the families outside the kin was considered desirable. This system of marriage was called exogamy. According to this system, the lives of the young girls and the women belonged to those  families which claimed that high status were often carefully regulated to ensure that  they were married at the right time and  to the right person.  This gave rise to the tradition that in marriage kanyadana was an important religious duty of the father.
After marriage women were supposed to give up their fathers gotra and adopt their husbands.
As per manusmriti, the parental state was to be divided equally amongst sons after the death of the parents, with a special share for the eldest. Women were not given any share in this state.
But women were allowed to keep the gifts with themselves which they received at the time of their marriage. This was called stridhana. This could be inherited by their children and the husband had no claims over it. But at the same time Manusmriti also told women not to hoard family property or even their own valuables without the permission other husband.
In fact, social differences were sharpened because of the differences in access of resources. Many texts suggest that while upper class women may have access to resource but land, cattle, money were generally controlled by the men. Vakataka queen Prabhavati Gupta was rich women.

9. Discu ss the evidence that su ggests that Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not universally followed.


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 terms vasha 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 the people defined as relatives technical terms used to be 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 s 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.

Prescription about marriage
For the continuity of the patrilineage the sons were considered important. The daughter could not have right over the resource of their household. They were married into families outside the kin. This system was known as exogamy which means marrying outside ones kin or gotra. The women of high stats families were married to the right person at the right time. Kanayadan or the gift of the daughter in the marriage was considered as an important religion duty of the father. Satvahana rulers did not follow exogamy of Brahmans.

Go To Chapters
Previous Post Next Post