Kinship Caste and Class (Early Societies) NCERT Textbook PDF

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Kinship, Caste and Class Early Societies NCERT Textbook With Solutions PDF Free Download

Kinship Caste and Class Early Societies

Chapter 3: Kinship, Caste, and Class Early Societies

One of the most ambitious projects of scholarship began in 1919, under the leadership of a noted Indian Sanskritist, V.S. Sukthankar.

A team comprising dozens of scholars initiated the task of preparing a critical edition of the Mahabharata.

What exactly did this involve? Initially, it meant collecting Sanskrit manuscripts of the text, written in a variety of scripts, from different parts of the country.

The team worked out a method of comparing verses from each manuscript.

Ultimately, they selected the verses that appeared common to most versions and published these in several volumes, running into over 13,000 pages. The project took 47 years to complete.

Two things became apparent: there were several common elements in the Sanskrit versions of the story, evident in manuscripts found all over the subcontinent, from Kashmir and Nepal
in the north to Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south.

Also evident were enormous regional variations in the ways in which the text had been transmitted over the centuries.

These variations were documented in footnotes and appendices to the main text. Taken together, more than half the 13,000 pages are devoted to these variations.

In a sense, these variations are reflective of the complex processes that shaped early (and later)
social histories – through dialogues between dominant traditions and resilient local ideas and

These dialogues are characterized by moments of conflict as well as consensus. Our understanding of these processes is derived primarily from texts written in Sanskrit by and for

When issues of social history were explored for the first time by historians in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they tended to take these texts at face value – believing that
everything that was laid down in these texts was actually practiced.

Subsequently, scholars began studying other traditions, from works in Pali, Prakrit, and Tamil.

These studies indicated that the ideas contained in normative Sanskrit texts were on the
whole recognized as authoritative: they were also questioned and occasionally even rejected.

It is important to keep this in mind as we examine how historians reconstruct social histories.

Language English
No. of Pages29
PDF Size4.9 MB

NCERT Solutions Class 12 History Chapter 3 Kinship Caste and Class (Early Societies)

1. Explain why patriline 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 the best sons with the grace of Lord Shiva.

Inheritance: In royal families, the acquisition of the 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 the 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 an education. Keeping this view in mind, Drona refused to impart education to Ekalavya.

But in the course of time, Ekalavya learned archery and acquired great skills. But Drona demanded the 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 a better archer than Arjuna in the field 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 learned 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 an outcast 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.

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