NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 3 Kinship, Caste and Class

Q. What are the seven means of acquiring wealth for men according to the Manusmriti?

Ans. The seven means of acquiring wealth for the men are:

  1. Men have the sole right to inherit the property of their parents after their death.
  2. Men have the right over the wealth that is discovered by him during excavations.
  3. They have the right over the wealth that is purchased by him.
  4. Another important means of wealth was conquest from other kingdoms which was common during those times.
  5. Men can make money by investing their wealth into profitable trade and other commercial practices.
  6. Men can be employed in certain professions and can be paid for their work.
  7. They can receive gifts from various kinds of people.

Q. What methods were used by the Brahamanas to obtain legitimacy for the Varna system?

Ans. Several methods were used by the Brahamanas for attaining legitimacy for the Varna system.Some of them are:

  1. They proclaimed that the Varna system has a divine origin and they cited phrases of Rigveda for that purpose.
  2. They took Kings under their confidence and convinced them that this order should be followed in society.
  3. They persuaded people to believe that the status of an individual is fixed by birth.
  4. They did not allow the people from the lower caste to read Vedas and get educated.
  5. It was not easy for the Brahamanas to maintain their high status in society as they faced a lot of hurdles.

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

Ans. Patriliny may have been important for the elite families for several reasons:

  1. According to the ideas of the Dharmashastras, sons were to carry forward the legacy of his father’s kingdom. Due to this reasons the elite families had great desire
    for sons rather than daughters.
  2. In the royal families the acquisition of throne was present in the inheritance. It was given to the eldest son after the death of his father.

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

Ans. The Shastras said that only Kshatriyas can become the King. The main functions of this class was to engage in the warfare and look after the administration of the Empire. However there were several dynasties who had different lineages:

  1. The Mauryans were of low caste according to many Brahamanical texts.
  2. The rulers of the Shungas and Kanvas were Brahmans.
  3. The Shakas came from the Central Asia and were addressed as the outsiders and barbarians by the Brahamans.
  4. Many of the rulers of the Satavahana dynasty were Brahamanas.

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

Ans. Drona was a teacher. Once a capable archer came to him to learn archery. His name was Eklavya. He was a very talented archer but belonged to the low caste of Nishadas. Seeing his extraordinary capability Guru Drona was surprised. As Guru Drona has given his word to the Arjuan to make him the greatest archer of the world, he asked for the right thumb of Eklavya in guru-dakshina. Eklavya gave his thumb but he could not remain as efficient as he was before.

Hidimba belonged to the class of rakhas. She fell in love with Bhima and urged him to marry her. Seeing her love as pure Bhima’s elder brother Yudhishthira gave him the permission to marry her but on certain conditions.

Mattanga was a Bodhisatta who was born in the family of the Chanadala. He married Dittha Mangalika who was the daughter of the merchant. They had a son named Mandavya Kumar. When he started to grow up he learnt three Vedas and also started offering food to 16,000 Brahamanas every day. One-day Mantanga arrived at his son’s house and begged for food. Mandavya refused to provide food to Matanga because he looks like an outcaste and the food is meant for Brahamanas. On these words of Mandavya, Matunga gave a sharp reply to him after which he was thrown out by Mandavya.

Q. 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 Brahamans often cited a verse from the Purusha Sukta in which they define the sacrifice of the Purusha, the primeval man. They said that the four social categories have derived from the body of the Purusha. The Brahamans are obtained from the mouth of the Purusha, the arms made the Kshatriyas and thighs made the Vaishyas. From his feet there was origin of Shudras.

Q. 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.

Ans. There were several factors that were considered to prepare the list along with the age, gender and kinship ties. The Brahamanas and Purohits used to have a very high status in the society. Fraternal kins were given due respect and held a similar position to that of the parents. The people of equal age and younger were also bestowed love and affection. Women used to have an important place such as wife, daughters and sisters. The poor and the marginalised was also dealt with affection.

Q. 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. The historians belief that Mahabharata was a great epic which contains insights about several social, political and cultural aspects of the society in those times. It is believed that the earliest stories of the text was composed by the Sutas who were the charioteer bards of the Kshatriya kings. They composed poems in the praise of
the Kings. These compositions used to circulate orally to different sections of the society. This epic contains information about the battle scenes, position of the women in the society, social structure of the society, administrative structure of the society.

Q. Discuss whether the Mahabharata could have been the work of a single author.

Ans. There are large number of views about the author of Mahabharata. Some of the common views are:

  1. It is believed that the earliest stories of the text was composed by the Sutas who were the charioteer bards of the Kshatriya kings. They composed poems in the praise of the Kings.
  2. These compositions used to circulate orally to different sections of the society for several centuries. Later the priests and Brahmins made an effort to compile these stories that ultimately culminated in the form of Mahabharata.

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

Ans. There were several gender differences in the early societies in the position of men and women. It was considered that the men will carry forward the legacy of their family. The social and economic position of the women was not convincing at all. Women generally did not have any share in the property of their parents. However, they have the right to possess some forms of wealth: Only the gifts that she received during her marriage were possessed by her and she has the sole right over them. Women did not have a sound political and administrative position in the society and generally remained away from these matters.

Q. Discuss the evidence that suggests that Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not universally followed.

Ans. Brahamanical prescription about the kinship: The family was represented by the term ‘Kula’. Some of the features of the family were : The members of the same family often share food and other resources. They generally live and work together. They perform the rituals together. The familial ties used to define a larger network of kinfolks.

Some of the prescriptions about the marriage are:
There were some conventions associated with the marriage of women:

  1. Their marriage outside their clan was considered desirable. This practice was known as Exogamy.
  2. Women had no rightful claim to the resources of their households.

Women generally did not have any share in the property of their parents. However, they have the right to possess some forms of wealth:

  1. The gifts that she received during her marriage were possessed by her and she has the sole right over them.
  2. These gifts can be carried forward to her children and her husband had no right over them.

Q. Describe the contribution of V.S. Suthankar in reconstructing social history through the critical edition of Mahabharata.


Describe the life of untouchables in the ancient period.

Ans. The ’Critical Edition of the Mahabharata’ that takes into account the various versions of the Sanskrit epic compiled over centuries runs into 13,000 pages in 19 volumes. It was collated by scholars of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune between 1919 and 1966. This work, often referred to as the “Poona” edition
of the Mahabharata, is used for current studies of the epic. Vishnu Sitaram Sukthankar or V.S. Sukthankar was a famous Sanskritist. Under Sukthankar, a team prepared a critical edition of the popular epic, Mahabharata collecting the Sanskrit manuscripts of the text written in a variety of scripts. Ultimately, they selected the verses that were common to most of the versions and published these in several volumes.


The Brahmans developed a dividing wall that socially divided a section of people as untouchables. They were referred to as the Chandalas or Shudras, according to the
Brahmanical norms. The Brahmanas secluded those people based on their work or occupations. The Brahmans were mainly connected with the performance of rituals or religious practices. They formed the uppermost section of the ancient Indian society. Then of course, were the Kshatriyas or the warrior class and the Vaishyas or the traders. These formed the upper classes. These people were considered pure and they generally avoided taking food from those designated as untouchables or chandalas or shudras in the society. The lower classes were involved in activities works such as sweeping, cleaning, carrying heavy loads on their backs, handling human corpses or dead animals, etc. These people involved in such activities were called as chandalas or untouchables. They were placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. Not only touching them, but looking at them was also considered as polluting or making oneself impure by those who claimed the higher orders in the hierarchy. Manusmriti laid down the duties of the chandalas which further determined their status in the society.