Chapter : 3

What Are Kinship, Caste And Class ?

  • V.S. Sukthankar was a noted Indian Sanskritist who took the task of preparing a critical edition of Mahabharata.
  • Polygyny is a practice in which a man has several wives.
  • Polyandry is a practice in which a woman has several husbands.
  • Endogamy is a practice in which marriage between men and women of the same gotra take place.
  • Patriliny is used when descent is from father to son and matriliny is used when descent is from mother to the children.
  • Dharmashastras were the Sanskritic texts that were composed by the Brahamanas from 500 B.C.E.
  • The Dharmashastras gave recognition to the eight form of marriage. Out of those eight forms of marriage four were considered good and others were criticised.
  • On the top of the caste system was the Brahamanas. Below Brahamanas was Kshatriyas. Then came the Vaishyas. On the lowest level were Shudras.
  • Kanyadan was considered to be an important religious duty of a father in which he gives her daughter to another family in marriage.
  • After the death of the parents, the paternal estate was to be divided equally amongst the sons. The elder son however had a greater claim for the resources of his parents.
  • Women generally did not have access to economic resources such as land, cattle and other valuables which undermined their economic status.
  • A woman had the right to all the gifts she received during her marriage, the gifts that she received as affection from her relatives. The gifts that she received from her brother, father and mother solely belong to her.
  • Gotras were generally named after the Vedic seer.
  • Jatis were the social groups that were created for the community involved in similar occupations or activities.
  • The meaning of the word ‘Kula’ in Sanskrit is family.
  • Caste was a social category that was used to determine the position of an individual or group in society.
  • The famous Sudarshana Lake was repaired by the famous Shaka ruler Rudradaman in the second century CE.
  • The ordinary people generally used languages such as Pali, Prakrit and Tamil.
  • The people who generally spoke the non-Sanskritic language were known as the Mlechachhas.
  • Chandalas were the people who were considered untouchables and used to perform activities like handling corpses and dead animals.
  • The language that was exclusively used by the elites in the society was Sanskrit.
  • Vyasa was a sage who is attributed to be the composer of the great epic of Mahabharata.
  • Mahabharata is a dynamic text as apart from the Sanskrit language it has been written in numerous other languages.
  • The epic of Mahabharata was classified into two sections i.e narrative and didactic.
  • The critical edition of Mahabharata was prepared from the Sanskrit manuscripts that were collected from the whole of India.
  • Seer Vyasa told Drupada that Pandavas were the incarnations of Indra and the fate of Drupadi is pre-decided. 
  • Pandavas lost all their wealth and possessions to the Kauravas during the game of dice.
  • Pandavas even lost their freedom to the Kauravas. Yudhisthira even lost Draupadi in the game of dice.
  • Sutas were the charioteer bards of the Kshatriya warriors. The Sutas also constructed poems in praise of the Kshatriya warriors they accompanied.
  • The forest dwellers or people engaged in hunting such as Nishadas were considered uncivilised.
  • The nomadic pastoralists who find it difficult to become settled agriculturalists were also labelled as uncivilised.
  • Mahabharata is one of the most critical source of information for the ancient period of India.