Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Describe the social system of the Vedic age with the special reference to the emergence and salient feature for the Varna system. Was it so rigid in the ancient period?
The Varna system became a hallmark of the Aryan society in the later Vedic age. The chatur Varna system evolved a universally accepted social stratification, restricting the social and professional mobility. Brahmanas, Kshetriyas and Vaishyas were accorded the status of Dvija by the Upanayana and path of Moksha was confined to these three classes. The Sudra was subject to social discrimination and suffered from all kinds of social inequalities.
The Varna system has become too rigid in the later Vedic age, restricting Pratiloma marriage an indication of subjugation of women. The social status of women was supposedly deteriorating with the emergence of child marriage, sati and social taboo on widow remarriage. The birth of a girl child was unwelcomed.
Around 10th C BC, the Varna became hereditary and was attributed to a divine origin. Individual’s profession was determined by his Varna. Inter caste dining(s) and marriages were prohibited. However, the offsprings of Pratiloma were considered as Panchama or outcast. But the Anuloma marriages were recognized gradually. So, the Chaturvarna system was still observed rigidly in spite of Varna sankara. Brahmanas enjoyed elite status and commanded great respect in the later Vedic age.
In conclusion, the Varna system became rigid and was practiced in later vedic age. In spite of social anomalies, conflict is observed in fields of caste division, women status and religious rituals accompanied by animal sacrifice.