Position of Women and Labour - Changes in Social Structure of Ancient India, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev

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The document Position of Women and Labour - Changes in Social Structure of Ancient India, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims.
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Position of Women

  • In the Vedic times women had access to all brahches of learning. Women like Ghosa, Apala, Visvavara were composers of outstanding Vedic hymns. 
  • The age of the Upanishads produced philosophers like Gargi who challenged the invincible Yajnavalkya in debate and Maitreyi who spurned wealth because it would not give her immortal light. 
  • Women of higher castes were indispensible partners of their husband in the Yajna. They could hold property and widows could remarry. There was no equality of sex as men could have more than one wife while women could have only one husband and must be loyal to him. 
  • During the Buddhist period women were not denied learning. Women took active part in the community life of the village but they had lost the right of Vedic studies. 
  • The deterioration is more perceptible in the Gupta age. 
  • The svayamvara and gandharva forms of marriage fell into disuse and the arsa and asura forms in which the bridge had to be given with a price became popular. 
  • Widows could not marry again; they had to spend the rest of their lives in penance and austerity. Women had no right to real property. But there was no pardah or seclusion and they freely took part in game and festivals. 
  • During the time of Harsavardhana the practice of sati and somewhat in vogue.

Position of Labour

  • Manual labour was relegated to four social classes. The free artisan and peasant who owned their tools and land were their own masters and formed the middle stratum of society. 
  • Originally of the vishya caste, they were split up into numerous subcastes which were not very respectable by sastric standards. Below them were slave labour and free unskilled labour.
  • Slavery originated from the law of tribal war. The vanquished Anaryas became the slaves of the

 

Literature
 Politics

     Somadeva    Nitivakyamrita
     Hemchandra    Laghu Arhanniti
Ayurveda
     Vagbhata    Astamgasamgratha.
     Vrinda    Siddhiyoga
Music
     Sarngadhara    Samgita-Ratnakara
Grammar
     Sakatayana    Sakatayana-Vyakarna
     Hemchandra    Haima Vyakarana
Prakrit
     Rajasekhara    Karpuramanjari
     Bhoja    Kurmasataka
     Hemchandra    Kumarpala-Charita.
Kanarese
     Amoghavarsa    Kavirajamarga
     Pampa    Pampabharata
Tamil
     Jayagondan    Kalingattupparani
 The literary activities of the Post-Gupta and early medieval period.

 

victorious Aryas. Children of female slaves became their master’s property. 

  • Enslavement in lieu of uncleared debt was known from Vedic times. Slaves purchased with money were common in the time of Buddha. 
  • The Arthasastra testifies to enslavement by court decree. Slaves had no personal rights. They could not own property.
  • The unskilled labourer working for hire was a free man but worse off than the slave. Terms of contract and rates of payment, as given in the Shastras were entirely to the employer’s advantage. 
  •  Below the slaves and hirelings were the outcastes known variously as Mleccha, Apasada, Hinajati, Hinasippa, they were assigned low professions like sweeping, corpse-burning and executing criminals. 
  • In this category were the Chandalas, Pulkasas and Nishadas. 

FEW more Informations

  • It is said that all human beings are divided into four categories according to their natural aptitudes and endowments. Some possess high spiritual and intellectual qualities, others fighting qualities, still others producing qualities, and accordingly they are placed in various categories.
  • According to a second theory the caste system is based on motions of purity and impurity. The Brahmanas possess the purity of the first degree, the Kshatriyas of the second degree, and so on. The ritual ranking of the varnas and jatis is based on their relative purity.
  • There is a third theory which explains the origin of caste as legacy from the aboriginal tribal communities of India. According to it every tribe is 

 

Sanskrit Literature
 Poetry   
 
     Kaviraja    Rahavapandaviya
     Jinasena    Parsvabhudaya-Kavya
     Sri-Harsha    Naisadha-charita
     Jayadeva    Gita-govinda
     Hemchandra    Dvashraya-Kavya
     Somadeva    Kirti-Kaumudi
     Jayanaka    Prithviraja-Vijaya
     Kalhana    Rajtarangini
Poetics    
     Rajasekhara    Kavyamimamsa
     Dhananjaya    Dasarupa
     Bhoja    Sarasvati-Kanthabharana
     Hemchandra    Kavyanusasana
Drama    
     Bhavabuti    Malatimadhava
     Mahavira-charita
     Uttara-Rama-charita
     Rajasekhara    Balarmayana
     Balabharata
     Somadeva    Lalitavigraha-raja
Dictionary
     Halayudha    Abhidhana-ratnamala
     Hemchandra    Abhidhana-chintamani
     Mahesvara    Visva-prakasa
Philosophy
     Kumarila    Commentary in three parts-Slokavarttika,
             Tantravarttika and Tuptika.
     Vachaspati    Nyayakanika, Tatttvabindu
     Mishra    Kaumudi.

 

divided into a number of clans, and members of a clan marry within the tribe but outside the clan. When such a tribe is absorbed as a caste in the Brahmanical system it continues to marry within the tribe or caste and refuses to have social intercourse with other caste.

  • A fourth theory accounts for the origin of the caste system in terms of the division of labour. It is said that the need for occupational division leading to more production and economic efficiency gave rise to castes.

Some Typical Adminstrative
 Technical Terms

 Aksapatalika: The word occurs in the Arthasastra of Kautilya and it stood for an officer incharge of records. Aksapatalika was an administrative department under the Palas and is also mentioned in the Panichobh Copper plate of Samudragupta.
 Adhikari: He was official recorder or scribe who drew up documents and prepared Sale-deeds etc. It came to be used as a title and issued as such in the Panji of the fourteenth century A.D.
 Karna Kayastha: According to Usanhas samhita, Karna was extracted with the task of ‘rajaseva’ and ‘durgantahpuraraksa’. It is also identified with Carana and connected with the study of the science of eroties.
 The word ‘Karna’ indicated a department, a court of Law, a department of account and revenue, of war and peace and so on.
 The Kayasthas were originally a professional class of accountants or scribes and the whole group of writers were later crystallised into a sort of Caste called Karna or Kayastha.
 Kanungoe: This word must have come into use after Sher Shah. According to Tarikh-i-Shershahi Kanungoe was the custodian of revenue practices and regulations of the locality.
 Karyi: Varma holds the view that Karyi was responsible for enacting the gifts made by the king and was at the same time incharge of village administration.
 Khana: The title Khana is used both in the case of Brahmanas and Karana kayasthas of Mithila. It indicated an administrative designation, the nature of which is not very clear at this stage and the title is still current among the Brahamanas of village Bangaon in the district of Saharsa.
 Chaturddharika: (Chaudhary): According to Agarwal they are small feudal Chiefs enjoying fourth part of the revenue. According to Sirear they are officers of the royal guard. Chaurodhamikas of Gupta age are meant for suppressing theft and other allied offences.
 Navaka: The word occurs in Kautilya’s Arthasastra and also in Sukranitisara. He was the head of the villages. In medieval times, a Nayaka enjoyed royal land on condition of offering military help under the Vijayanagar empire.
 Negi: It is a title of the Kayastha yet in vogue in the areas of U.P. It is strange that this title is found in vogue in the Palm-leaf Panjis of Mithila.
 Thakkura: It is a feudal title frequently used in the Gahadawala inscriptions. Kalhana has used the word both as title and a fief-holder.
 Mahattaka: The word ‘Mahattaka’ signified an officer whose rank can not be precisely flexed. Mahattaka, Mahattara, Mahto, Mahattama etc. are used in a number of inscriptions in the sense of a village Panchayat Board. Even the head of a family or a community is known as a Mahattara or Mahattama.
 Majumdara: The word is connected with the revenue administration under the Muslim rulers. A Majumdar  was entrusted with the maintenance of musterroll account and was associated with the pargana administration.

 

  • The rate of payment and economic privileges differed according to the varna to which a person belonged. Thus a Brahmana was required to pay two per cent interest on loans, a Kshatriya three per cent, a Vaishya four per cent, and a Sudra five per cent.
  • According to Manu, if children are born
  • of women as a result of intercourse with a person other than her husband, and if their father cannot be determined, they would be known as gudhot panna.
  • According to the Agni Purana woman and animal can be kept as pledge, and interest on them is the seventieth part of their original value.
  • According to the Garuda Purana those who do not acquire learning during childhood and are without property and wife in youth are deplorable, and move in this world as deer in the form of human beings.
  • Agni Purana states that one who commits the murder of a woman shall be required to perform the same kind of penance as is prescribed for the murder of a Shudra.
  • The Satapatha Brahmana warns that while teaching pravarjya the teacher should not look at 

 

Some Typical Adminstrative
 Technical Terms

 Malik: Malik is mentioned in connection with the cremation ground. The Governor of a Province or the Chief of a horde of slaves enjoying political status or wielding military power or authority was also known as Malik.
 Rauta: Rauta is well-known feudal title, current in Mithila in the middle ages. It signified a noble man or a subordinate ruler. Even the Ganga kings of Orissa deseribed themselves as Rauta.
 Laskara: Laskara is said to have been an officer incharge of possibly ten troops. He was the lowest officer in the military hierarchy based on decimal system.
 Lekhi: Vidyapati describes Lekhi as a city administrator. He was responsible to Mahattaka. Chaturadharika and Panijikaras were under him.
 Vaidya: Vaidyas of Bengal associate themselves with Ambasthas. In the Tamil region they are associated with the profession of surgeon. Manu  prescribes the profession of a physician for Ambasthas a large section of the people who led the life of medicine men were known as Ambasthas in the forth century B.C.
 Viswasa: It is an official designation derived from Vaisvasika, a privy councillor or a private Secretary. It is possibly the same as Rahasyadhikrta or Antaranga. The Muslim rulers brought this title in use.
 Shiqdara: Shiqdara was a pargana officer and we find its first mention in the time of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq. A Shiqdara was officer of Shiqq, a territory bigger than pargana. Shiqwas later on replaced by Sarkar.
 Sarkar: An administrative unit under Sher Shah.
 Sahna: It is an administrative title came into use during the time of Tughlaq.
 Sahi: It indicates royal titles used by some Indian rulers of foreign origin.

 

the woman, the Shudra, the dog, and the blackbird, because they are untruth.

  • The Brahma Purana, a work of the Gupta period, declares that members of the first three varnas should perform the ceremonies of bathing and muttering of prayers according to the Vedic methods, but women and Shudras cannot perform these ceremonies accordingly.
  • According to the Sankhayana Grihyasutra it was not permissible to recite the Veda in the neighbourhood of a Shudra or a woman that had her courses.
  • The Brihatsamhita, a work of about the sixth century A.D. declares that the eclipse which take place as a result of the sun and the moon having rise one-sixth brings calamity to the woman and Shudra.
  • Manu and Yajnavalkya hold that a woman is never independent. While unmarried the father protects her, when married the husband protects her, and in the old age the son protects her.
  • According to the Dharmashastras one of the requisites for a valid marriage was that both the bride and the bridegroom should belong to the same caste.
  • Commenting on a passage of the Asvalayana Griha sutra Narayana states that because of its association with wealth the asura form of marriage is prescribed for the Vaishyas.
  • Rakshasa, which according to Dharmashastra, marriage by capture, is prescribed by Manu for the Kshatriya.
  • According to Jolly the gandharva or love marriage was a privilege of the nobles.
  • Baudhayana opined that since the gandharva marriage is based on mutual love it can be performed by all.
  • Several authorities lay down special rules regarding the wives of those Brahmanas who go abroad for Vedic studies. In such a case, according to Guatama, the wife should abstain from having intercourse with other men for twelve years.
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