Saturday, 3 September 2011

Formulation of Social System in the later Vedic period.

(30 marks)

Society in the later Vedic period was highly prejudiced and discriminative and marked by social inequality and injustice. In this period the social life began to be formulated into an institution. The social hierarchy became more pronounced in its character. The continuance of caste was secured by making it hereditary. Varna system became the way of life and it was very rigid allowing no mobility between the classes. Moreover growing cult of sacrifices indiscriminately in the name of rituals added to the power of Brahmans, This paved for the brahmanical domination in the society. Thus this period can also be earmarked as age of rigorous rituals which in later course of time became a bone of contention and a reason for rise of heterodox societies.

Kshetriyas, second in hierarchy of Varna class were hand-in-glove with priestly class for establishing their position of supremacy. Vysyas engaged themselves in economic activities and agricultural practices. Last stem of Varna division was highly suppressed and downtrodden ‘sudras’. These were not entitled for any privileges and were also not allowed to habitat among the top three classes. Moreover, all the three higher varnas were entitled to Upanayana but not the sudras. The institution of Gotra appeared in this period. Eating of flesh of animals was looked upon with disfavor, though it was permitted on ceremonial occasions.

Position and dignity of women comparatively worsened in this period. Immoral and evil practices prevailed; women rights were suppressed. Texts of this period say, daughters were source of misery and moreover, they also give references of prevailing child marriages. Erstwhile symbolic sati became compulsory. Widowhood was made inauspicious to propagate sati practices. Anuloma marriages were allowed but not Pratiloma and offsprings of Pratiloma marriages are debarred from society and their life was made heinous. Polygyny was accepted but not polyandry.

Thus, this society was very much apathetic towards sudras and women and it was precedent of current Hindu society.

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