Short Questions with Answers - Kingship, Caste and Class Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History Class 12

Humanities/Arts : Short Questions with Answers - Kingship, Caste and Class Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

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Q.1. Elaborate two types of marriages mentioned in Mahabharata.
Ans.
Marriages during Mahabharata were:
(i) Endogamy
(ii) Exogamy
(iii) Polyandry
(iv) Polygamy
(v) Any from the eight forms of marriages recognised in the Dharma-Shastras.

Q. 2. The central story of Mahabharata reinforced the idea of kinship and succession. Explain.
Ans. 
The main story of Mahabharata reinforced the idea of kinship and succession. The whole story runs around this theme. The war is the central theme of Mahabharata and the main cause of war was the fight for succession among the fraternal kins. The Kauravas and the Pandavas were cousins. Pandu, father of Pandavas succeeded on throne in place of Dhritarashtra as the latter was blind. So, there was a fight among the Pandavas and the Kauravas for the throne. Pandavas emphasised that their father was king and hence they are rightful heir to the throne whereas Kauravas said that the rightful king was their father and that king Pandu was only a caretaker king. Thus, the whole story runs around succession. Both took help from their extended kins.

Q. 3. “The Mahabharata is a good source to study the Kinfolk’s values of ancient times.” Justify this statement with suitable arguments.
Ans. 
Mahabharata is a colossal epic running in its present form upto 100,000 verses covering social categories and situation. It was composed more than 1000 years ago (500 BCE onwards) and some of the stories might be circulated earlier. Hence, it is a suitable text to give insight in family, marriage and kinfolk’s values which are depicted through episodes of Mahabharata. Patriliny means tracing descent from father to son, grandson and so on. While patriliny existed prior to Mahabharata, story of Mahabharata reinforced the idea that it was valuable. We find that most of the family’s inheritance was inherited to sons only. In some cases, when there were no sons, it was transferred to brothers. Women had no claims on the resources of household. Only in very exceptional circumstances, women such as Prabhavati Gupta, exercised power. Patriliny was not unique to ruling families. It was practised by families of wealthy men and Brahmanas which is evident in Rigveda.
Rules of marriage were defined along exogamy. Marrying outside the clan and relatives was considered good. Polygamy was a common practice. For example, Arjuna married more than one women but polyandry was also practiced. For example, Draupadi had five husbands. There were gendered access to property and therefore the practice of Kanyadana was an important duty of the father.

Q. 4. Describe the evidences suggesting that Brahmanical prescription about kinship and marriages were not universally followed during the Mahabharata Era.
Ans.
The evidence that suggests Brahmanical prescription about kinship was not universally followed during Mahabharat Era were as follow:
(i) Patrilineal succession existed prior to composition of the epic and under this, sons could claim the resources (and throne in case of kings) after father’s demise.
(ii) Example of evidence of Brahmanical prescription about kinship not followed during Mahabharat era could be seen Dhritarashtra was blind, his younger brother Pandu ascended the throne of Hastinapura.
(iii) Non-Kshatriya kings, for example,
(a) Satavahanas who were brahmanas
(b) Mauryas and Shungas of low origin
(c) Shakas were mlechchhas or barbarians
(iv) Examples of marriages in which Brahmanical prescription not followed during Mahabharata era:
(a) Polyandry—Draupadi had five husbands
(b) Hidimba’s marriage with Bhim

Q.5. Describe how the kinship relations changed with reference to Mahabharata.
Ans.
Mahabharata, to a certain extent, the story about the kinship relations. It describes the feud over land and power between two cousins who belonged to a single reigning family – the Kurus.
The ultimate battle of Kurukshetra proclaimed patrilineal succession. This was reinforced by the central story of the epic. Although there were variations in the practice of the system by some of the ruling dynasties due to reasons like no sons. We can see a rising concern with patrilineal from the mantras and ritual texts such as the Rigveda.

Q. 6. Identify any two occupations to be performed by Kshatriyas as per Varna order.
Ans. 
The occupations of the Kshatriyas were to engage in warfare and protect people. Kings should maintain justice and can study Vedas. They can get sacrifices performed and make gifts.

Q. 7. How did Brahmanas develop a sharper social divide? Give two examples.
Ans.
 Brahmanas created sharper social divide caste hierarchy by classifying certain social categories as “untouchables”. The notion that those connected with the performance of rituals, were sacred and pure. They should avoided taking food from these untouchables. Secondly, Brahmanas composed Manusmriti which laid down norms for all social categories, thus making caste system and rigid occupational structure.

Q. 8. Critically examine the social order of caste hierarchies laid in Dharmashastras and Dharmasutras.
Ans.
Caste hierarchies laid in the Dharamshastras and Dharamsutras:
(i) The ideal order was laid down in the Dharamshashtras as Brahamanas were ranked first, and divinely followed, they, were supposed to study and teach the Vedas, perform sacrifices and get sacrifices performed, give and receive gifts.
(ii) Kshatriyas were to engage in warfare, protect people and administer justice, study the Vedas, get sacrifices performed and make gifts.
(iii) Vaishyas who were expected to engage in agriculture, pastorals and trade.
(iv) Shudras were assigned only one occupation that was serving the three higher Varnas.
(v) Brahmans evolved two or three strategies for enforcing these norms to assert the Varna order to advice kings and to persuade people.

Q. 9. According to Shastras, only Khastriyas could be the kings. Provide evidence to prove that this was not followed universally.
Ans. 
According to the Shastras, only Kshatriyas could be kings. Some people considered Mauryas to be the Kshatriyas. But some Brahmanical texts describe them to be of lower origin. The Shungas and the Kanvas, the successor of the Mauryas were Brahmanas. In fact, the political power went to those who had the support and resources, it did not depend solely on birth. There were Shakas who came from Central Asia but Brahmanas considered them as Mlechchhas and barbarians. Similarly, Gotami-putra Sivi Satakani, the best known ruler of Satavahana Dynasty, became the destroyer of the pride of Kshatriyas. Therefore, Satavahanas claimed to be Brahman whereas according to Brahmanas, the king should be Kshatriyas.

Q. 10. Explain the ideal occupation as laid down in Dharmashastras and Dharmasutras for the four Varnas and one strategy evolved by the Brahmanas to enforce these norms.
Ans. 
The term caste refers to a set of hierarchically ordered social categories which were laid down in the Dharmashastras and Dharmasutras. Brahmanas were ranked first while Shudras at the bottom. Brahmanas asserted that it was the divine order in which they are ranked first. Positions within the order were determined by birth. The Dharmashastras and Dharmasutras also contained rules about the ideal occupations of the four Varnas.
(i) Brahmanas were supposed to study and teach the Vedas, perform sacrifices and get sacrifices performed, give and receive gifts.
(ii) Kshatriyas were to engage in warfare, protect people and administer justice, study the Vedas, get sacrifices performed and make gifts.
(iii) Vaishyas were expected to engage in agriculture, pastoralism and trade in addition to study Vedas, make gifts and get sacrifices performed.
(iv) Shudras were in occupation of serving the other three higher Varnas.

Q. 11. Describe how the kinship relations changed with reference to Mahabharata.
Ans. 
Mahabharata is, to a certain extent, the story about the kinship relations. It describes the feud over land and power by two groups of cousins who belonged to a single ruling family – the Kurus. The ultimated battle of Kurukshetra proclaimed patrilineal succession. Though this was practiced even early, patriliny was reinforced by the central story of the epic. Although there were variations in the practice of the system by some of the ruling dynasties due to reasons like no sons, succession by brothers or other kinsmen, etc.

Q. 12. Who were categorised as untouchables? Describe the duties prescribed for them in Manusmriti and Shastras.
Ans. 
The four Varna system defined by Shastras had namely Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. There was a fifth category who were considered lowly and outside the Varna system. These were named as Chandalas and treated as untouchables by all others. Below mentioned were the list of rules that this clan has to follow:
(i) They had to live outside the village.
(ii) They were regarded as untouchables, they had to use discarded utensils, wear clothes of the dead and ornaments of iron.
(iii) Their appearance in public life was considered inauspicious. They could not walk about in villages at night. They had to dispose of the bodies who had no relatives and serve as executioners.
(iv) Chinese Buddhist monk, Faxian or Fa-Hien (fifth century CE) mentioned that untouchables had to sound a clapper in the streets so that people could avoid seeing them.

Q. 13. What do you know about the language and the content of Mahabharata? Explain.
Ans.
The main language of Mahabharata was in Sanskrit and it was in simple form than the Vedas. It was written in other languages like Prakrit, Pali and Tamil. The content of the story is divided into two major heads – the narrative and the didactic sections. The narrative section includes all stories and the section that includes prescriptions about social norms is known as didactic. Historians feel that Mahabharata was a dramatic story and the didactic portions could have been added later. The text is also described as “Itihasa” in the early Sanskrit tradition. Some historians feel that there is no corroborative evidence of the battle.

Q.14. What do you know about the author and period when Mahabharata was compiled? Explain.
Ans. 
According to tradition, sage Vyasa told the story. The original story was probably composed by charioteers and bards known as Sutas who accompanied the Kshatriya warriors to the battlefield and composed poems celebrating their victories, which was usually circulated orally. From 5th century BCE, Brahmanas took over the story and wrote it. Another phase of the text was completed between 200 BCE to 200 CE, which was the period when Lord Vishnu’s worship was growing and Lord Krishna was identified with Vishnu. Between 200 BCE and 200 CE, many didactic sections were added and 10,000 verses became 100,000 verses. This composition was attributed to sage Vyasa.

Q. 15. Explain how you will prove that the text of Mahabharata was a dynamic one.
Or
Why do you call Mahabharata a dynamic text?Explain.

Ans. Mahabharata as a dynamic text:
(i) The growth of the Mahabharata did not stop with the Sanskrit version.
(ii) Versions of the epic were written in a variety of languages through an ongoing process of dialogue between people, communities and those who wrote the texts.
(iii) Several stories that originated in specific regions or circulated amongst certain people found their way into the epic.
(iv) The central story of the epic was often retold in different ways.
(v) Episodes of Mahabharata were depicted in sculpture and painting.
(vi) They also provided themes for a wide range of performing arts-plays, dance and other kinds of narrations.
(vii) Any other relevant point.
Detailed Answer:
Salient feature of Mahabharata is its dynamic character. Its growth did not restricted to Sanskrit version. Versions of the epic were written in several languages over the period, all of which can be the symbol of the ongoing process of dialogue between people, communities and authors. The central story of the epic is retold in a number of ways. The work of the proportion and publication of the critical education of the Mahabharata was accomplished during the period 1919–1966 CE. In modern times, several scholars have retold the story in creative ways. Mahashweta Devi, a contemporary Bengali writer, was one such scholar.

Q. 16. Who composed the original story of the text of Mahabharata? Describe the various stages through which Mahabharata was completed between fifth century BCE and 400 CE?
Ans. (i)
The most ambitious project of compiling Mahabharata was done by V.S. Sukhtankar and his team.
(ii) The original story was composed by bards (Sutas) who celebrated their achievements by composing poems and transmitted it orally.
(iii) Later Brahmans took over the story and put it into written form.
(iv) The new kings wanted their ‘Itihaasa’ to be recorded.
(v) The importance of Vishnu and Krishna grew and they became important figures of the epic.
(vi) With these additions, Mahabharata became voluminous.
(vii) It is attributed to the sage seer, Vyasa.

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