Society and Economy Brahmana, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras, Asrama

Glide to success with Doorsteptutor material for UGC : Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 147K)


  • According to Smritis and among the Grihya-sutras, only the Asvalayana Grihya Sutras and most of the Dharmasutras mention Eight forms of Marriage:


  1. Brahma: Adequate dowry in the same caste

  2. Prajapatya: without dowry and without demanding bride price.

  3. Arsa: In place of dowry -price of a cow and bull

  4. Daiva: To sacrif icial priest in lieu of fees


  1. Gandharva: Marriage by mutual choice (love-marriage)

  2. Asura: Marriage by purchase, examples of Asura marriage:

    1. Madri, sister of Salaya, to Pandu;

    2. Kaikeyi to Dasaratha

  3. Raksha: Marriage by Capture, examples:

    1. Arjuna and Subhadra,

    2. Vichitravirya, on whose behalf Bhishma abducted Ambalika and Ambika, daughters of the King of Kasi.

  4. Paisacha: Marriage by Stealth Manu also legitimizes: Gandharva and Raksha Manu has approved different forms of marraige for different castes

    1. The first four forms as well as asura and gandharva for Brahmanas;

    2. asura and gandharva, raksha and paisacha, or else gandharavas, or raksha or finally raksha alone for Kshatriyas;

    3. asura, gandharva and paisacha or else asura alone for Vaisyas and Sudras.

Age of Marriage

  • Baudhayana: Prepuberty marriage - a father who didnot give his daughter in marriage before her first menustration incurred the guilt of one procuring for every menstrual period in which she remained unmarried.

  • Yajnavalkya refused Upanayana for women.

  • Vishnu Puranas: The age of bridegroom should be more than three times of the Bride, but according to Angaras: the difference should be less.

  • Apastamba's Grihya Sutras: forbidding marriage with a girl reaching the age of puberty.

  • Manu: denounces post-puberty marriage of girls: fixes the age 24 years for Bridegroom and 8 years for bride.

  • Susruta Samhita: practice of child-marriage was occasional


  • Manu and Yajnavalkya a maiden should be given once only in marriage. Nevertheless, both recognize, as of old, the title of the son of a remarried woman (Paunarbhava) to inherit his father's property in the absence of respectable classes of sons.

Types of Marriage

  • Anuloma: in direction: Hypergamous: when the male is of higher caste and the female is of lower caste

  • Pratiloma: Against the hair: Hypogamous: when the female is of higher caste and the male is of lower caste.

  • According to Vaijayapati, Kalhan, and Kallukabhatta: 64 castes consisting of sons born out of the Varnas the (a) 12 Anuloma and Pratiloma sons and their 48 offshoots

  • Anuloma is considered to be twice born and subject to investiture, on the other hand Pratiloma is considered to be not twice born and impure and ineligible for the investiture.

  • Gautama was first to permit the Anuloma and Pratiloma marriage: the products of marriage are called Vamasamkara

  • Apastamba gives example of only three mixed caste:

  • Sesha, Polkasha, and Chandala)

  • Gautama has given five types of Anuloma, six types of Pratiloma and 8 types of Varnasamkara:

  • Ambastha: a product of Anuloma, according to Baudhayana and Manu, they "are product of Brahmana Male and Vaisva Female, they were mainly Physicians. Gautama regards this as a result of the marriage of Kshatriya Male and vaisya female.

  • Ayaogaba: According to Baudhyana it was a product of Vaisya Male and Kshatriya Female, whereas according to Gautama a product of Sudra Male and Vaisya female.

  • Ugra : According to Manu: a Anuloma, mainly hunters. According to Gautama, a product of Vaisya male and Sudra female, whereas for Baudhyana Kshatriya male and Sudra female.

  • Karan: According to Baudhyana, a product of vaisya Male and Sudra female.

  • Chhata: Both Baudhayana and Gautama: a product of Pratiloma: Sudra female and Kshatriya male.

  • Chandala: Accoring to Gautama and Apastamba: Sudra male and Brahmana female. Also supported by Vasistha Dharma sutras

  • Nisada: Manu: Anuloma mainly Chaurakarmi; Gautama: Brahman male and Vaisyafemale, but according to Apastamba Male Brahmana and Sudra female.

  • Magadha: Gautama: Vaisya Male and Kshatriya female but according to Baudhyana: Sudra Male and vaisya female.

  • Rathankara: According to Baudhyana, a product of Vaisya male and Sudra female.

  • Vedehika: a product of Pratiloma: Sudra Male and Kshatriya Female

  • Suta: Baudhayana: Kshatriya male and Brahmana Female.


  • In Vajseynayi Samhita: polygamy has been mentioned;

  • According to Taittriya Brahmana: The polygamy caused deep resentment amongst the families.

  • In Maitrayani Samhita: there is a reference of 10 wives of manu.

  • In the lOth Mandalaof Rig Veda, there is a reference of "Sauta"

  • Vatasayana accepts polygamy.

  • Later Polygamy became more prevalent:

    1. Chief Queen: Maishi or Mahadevi

    2. Queen (Devi),

    3. Honoured Lady (Parivritiki),

    4. Beloved Lady (Vavata),

    5. Lady who has been won in war (Phalakali),

    6. Lady who is not the daughter of the king (Swarnini),

Avarodha-Vadhu - secondary wife, According to Morco Polo King of Mabbar had 500 wives, King of Coil had 300 wives.

Varna System

  • Vratyastoma Ceremony: to secure for the outcaste into Aryan fold.

  • Kautilya enumerates the following duties of Brahmana

  • Adhyayana (Study)

  • Adhyapan (Teaching)

  • Yajana (officiating at Worship)

  • Dana (making gifts)

  • Pratigraha (accepting gifts)

Attacks on Brahmana

  1. Aitarya brahmana "a receiver of gifts, a drinker of soma, eater of the foods, to be expelled at will"

  2. Candogaya Upanishad: vision of sage: Vaka Dalbhya: Dog move around a circle.

  3. Rig Veda " a croaking of frog at the beginning of the rainy season compared to the monotonous reciting of the priest;

  4. Referred Brahmanas as Vidusaka

  5. A Brahmana was forbidden to cultivate, trade, moneylending - although Manu says yes to Moneylending

Types of Brahmans

  • According to Dharma-sastras and the Nibandhas; Devala classified the Brahmin, according to the Standard knowledge of the Vedas.

    1. Brahmana: One who has studied a portion of the Vedas

    2. Srotriya: One who has studied only one recession of the Veda along with its six vedangas and performed six duties of Brahmana

    3. Anuchana: Knowing the meaning of vedas and vedangas

    4. Bhruna: having qualities of anuchana brahmin and performing yajna

    5. Rskalpa: One who has wordly and Vedic Knowledge

    6. Rishi: Austere, and able to curse or reward

    7. Muni: Staying in forest, subsists on roots, fruits and vegetables.

According to Category

  1. Devasama Brahmana: Observes daily routine carefully, all the 12 vratas

  2. Muni Brahmana: Lived in segregation (isolation)

  3. Pasu Brahmana: Illiterate

  4. Nissada Brahmana: Thief and Dacoit

  5. Melchha Brahmana: one who spoils the wells

  6. In epics, the Brahmans are divided into 6 categories:

  7. Brahman-sama,

  8. Deva-sama,

  9. Sudrasama,

  10. chandalasama,

  11. Kshatriya-sama

  12. Vaisyasama.

  13. Only devasama and Brahma-smam were very respectable.

  14. According to Maha-bharata: The Apaddh-arma: the profession in distress:

  15. was applicable to the Brahmanas: but they can adopt only Vaisya dharama and kshtriya Dharma

  16. According to Gautama: 100 Karsahapana to be fined if a Brahman humiliated by Kshatriyas

  17. Mahapatakas: the murder of the Brahmana heads the list of mortal sins.

  18. Pali Literature indicates that the Brahmans were of two types: Suddha and Sansarika: The sansarika was divided into 10 categories:

  19. Tittichhacchhaka Brahman: Physicians

  20. Paricharak Sama Brahman: welcomed Kings and Ministers

  21. Gigihaka Sama Brahman: Mendicancy

  22. Anughata Brahmana: Mendicancy

  23. Vanikkasama Brahmana: Traders

  24. Sama Ambadhyaya Sashei: Agriculture and Animal Husbandary

  25. Gopayyattamak Sama Brahmana: Purohita/ Astronomy

  26. Nishmagopanishadehi: Arms and ammunition

  27. Luddha Brahmana: Hunting

  28. Malmazz Sama: Conducted Soma Yajna

  29. The Brahmanas were exempted from capital punishment


  • According to Arthasa-shtra: the svadharma or duties of the Kshatriyas comprised

  • Adhyayana

  • Yajana

  • Dana

  • Sastrajiva (profession of arms as source of livelihood)

  • Bhutarakshana (protection of living beings)

  • Aitreya Brahmana: Gave precedence over Brahmanas.

  • In Manu and Yajnavalkya as the older Smritis, the Kshatriyas, while sharing with the Brahmans and the Vaisyas and the duties of the Vedic Study, sacrificing for them, and making gifts, are assigned the sole occupation of ruling and fighting: and only in the time of Apad dharma Kshatriya allowed to live by the occupation of a Vaisya.

  • In the Athrava Veda's 20th mandal, from 23rd to 31st sutta has been dedicated to the kshatriyas.

  • In Athrava Veda Rajya Sakti has been referred as Stoma (Brave male) and Sampa.

  • Daring the Guptas, due to the absorption of outsiders, there were proliferation in the Kshatriya caste: 36 clans of Kshatriyas


  • According to Arthas-ashtra: the duties of the Vaisya are

  • Adhyayana

  • Yajana

  • Dana

  • Krishi

  • Pasupalya

  • Vanijya

  • In Pali literature referred as Grahapati or Gahapati in Prakrit mentioned as Gahavati.

  • Aitreya Brahmana: Paying tribute to another, to be lived by another, to be oppressed at will".

  • Manu Samhita: " Duty of Vaisya of keeping cattle and Farming, expert knowledge of Jewel, Metal and Thread.

  • Buddhist and Jaina scriptures: Vaisyas referred has humble tax-paying cattle-breeder but the ASITIKOTIVIBHAVA -the man possessing 8 million Panas. (According to Uvasagadasao).

  • According to Gautama: if a Vaisya insults a Kshatriya, he will be fined 150 Karshpana, and a Brahman then 100 Karshpana.


  1. Dvijatisusrusha (mental service of the three twice-born castes);

  2. Varta (Production of wealth)

  3. Karukarma (Arts)

  4. Kusilavakarma (Crafts)

  5. Skanda Puranas mentioned Sudras as Annada -Grain Givers

  6. Aitareya Brahmana: servant of another to be expelled at will, to be slain at will, to be beaten at will.

  7. Baudhayana mentioned Sudras as Krishna Varna.

  8. Sudras were of two types:

  9. Anirabasita: Pure, not excluded, and

  10. Niravasita: excluded "untouchables"

  11. Manu: For a Sudra, who makes money, is distressing to brahmana

  12. Manu: A brahmana killing a Sudra performed the same penance as for killing a cat or dog.

  13. Manu mention ANTYA VASAYIN a product of a cross between Nisada and Chandala

  14. According to Gautama Vaisyas were mainly agriculturist, and the sudras were to serve the twice born.

  15. During the Maury as, the Sudras not only worked as artisans but also worked as weaver, shopkeeper, mine digging, arms making, metal making

  16. Nevertheless, there were no slavery in India, but the Sudras had no right to give witness, and they were severely punished as compare to other varnas.

  17. But after Gupta age, the sudras transformed into agriculturists because of the process of subinfeudation.

  18. Sudras were mainly artisans: called Kaurathaksha (Panini)

  19. Manu has referred them as Kreta dasa (the dasas who are purchased)

  20. According to Maha-bharata: Shudras had no right to study Veda, Yajna, and education

  21. According to Bhattaswami, who has written a commentary on Arthasashtra the Shudras were agriculturist basically sharecroppers and they were called (Gramya Kutumbin)

  22. Nisada (a hunter), Kaivarta (a fishing caste), Karwara (leather worker), Pukkusa (Sweeper), Vena (Basket-maker), Rathankara (Chariot-maker), Melechhas (Milakkha) (Outcaste), Pariah (outcaste), Jabberer (Outcaste)

  23. According to Vinaya-Sutta-Vfbhanga: five types of Him-jatti, or Hina-sippa:

  24. Chandala,

  25. Vena,

  26. Nesada,

  27. Rathakara,

  28. Pukkusa

  29. Bhavadasa: classified the Chandalas:

  30. Kaibarta,

  31. Pukkasa,

  32. Kapalika,

  33. Nata,

  34. Nartaka,

  35. Taksana,

  36. Charmakara,

  37. Rajaka,

  38. Saundika

  39. Untouchables: Rajakas, Charmakara, Nata, Sailushika, Buruda, Navika, Kaivarta, Bhilla, Kuvindraka

  40. Alberuni: Antyajas - Hadi, Doma, Chandala, Badhatau

  41. Astasudras:

  42. Vyadha,

  43. Bhada,

  44. Khola,

  45. Koncha,

  46. Haddi,

  47. Doma,

  48. Jala,

  49. Bagatita,

  50. others are: Vyalagrahi and Chandala


  1. Brahmachari: it might be of two classes known as

    1. Upakurvana: one who undergones student-life for a period, after which he marries and becomes a householder, and

    2. Naishthika: one who remains a student and a celibate throughout the life, which he consecrates wholly to pursuit of learning.

  2. Grihastha: with his manifold duties broadly marked out as comprising

    1. Yajna (sacrifical worship),

    2. Adhyana and

    3. Dana

  3. Bhikshu: who has to live a life of restraint and denial, marked by the following characteristics:

    1. Anichaya, not given to hoarding;

    2. Urddhvareta (continence)

  4. Vanaprashta: Baudhyana called them Parivrajaka, Vaikhanasa

Society as Per Megasthenese

  1. Philosophers: included Purohita, Sanyasi, Brahmana (they had to remain unmarried up to 37 years of age), Sramana. : the Buddhist monk - the highest Sramana was Haliobeyai (vanabhasi), next was Physician,

  2. Agriculturist: Paid l/4th in taxation to the king, because king was the owner of the land.

  3. Herdsman,

  4. Artisans : Got state sponsorship,

  5. Soldiers,

  6. Councillors

  7. Spies


  • Earliest reference of Prostitution: Ramagarh cave

  • Gautama: muderer of a prostitute commits no sin and should incur no punishment at law.


  1. Dharma: Sa Dharma Hitaya, Sarvajana Sukhaiya

  2. Artha

  3. Kama

  4. Moksa

Position of Woman

  • First reference of sari was Eran, 510 A.D; the Sari increased due to practice of large number of women being maintained by the feudal chiefs and the resultant disputes about the property.

  • Matrilineal System: Marrumakkattayam: continued in Cochin and Travancore


  • It was right to bear arms against thieves assassins and oppose any unjust King -Medhatithi

  • There was no slavery in India: Magesthenes

  • Servitude is not in the nature of Aryan: Arthashashtra

  • It is law of war that the vanquished should be the victor's slave: Mahabharata

  • A man may go short himself stint his wife and children but never his slave, who does he dirty work for him: Apastamba

  • King was the Lord of the soil and elsewhere states that the field belonged to him: Medhatithi.

  • Gotra "cowshed" first appeared in Athrava Veda.

  • Chandrayana: Baudhyana Sutra: A man marrying the same gotra must perform Candrayana penance.

Family Rights

  1. Mitakasara: Follows son and grandsons have right in the family property

  2. Dayabhaga: Bengal and Assam

  3. Yajnavalkya: priorities of inheritance of women.

  4. Apastamba: forbids right of father to sale his son.

  5. Yajnavalkya: Inheriting the husband's property in the absence of sons

Developed by: