History Tuition » Ancient India » Vedic Soceity » Later Vedic Civilization » Social Life And Caste System

Social Life

In the later Vedic period joint family system was prevalent. The families were patriarchial. Father was the head of the family and was very powerful. He could even disinherit his son. People worshipped their male ancestors. Another chief feature of the later Vedic period was the vanashram system. During this period life span of 100 years of a man was divided into four equal parts of 25 years each and different duties were assigned to him in different parts of life. These ashrams were-

  1. Brahmacharya
  2. Grahastha
  3. Vanaprastha
  4. Sanyasa

In the later Vedic period position of women declined. They were given a lower position in the society. They were considered inferior and subordinate to men. Women could not participate in the political assemblies. They no longer accompanied their husbands in religious yajnas. Marriage was considered a sacred bond. Woman was the mistress of the house and enjoyed respectable position in the household. Polygamy also prevailed. Education was provided independently by teachers in the ashrams maintained by them. The rich people and king gave large donations to the learned teachers. The main aim of education was to shape their character and prepare them for the future. Besides religion and philosophy other important subjects of study were arithmetic, logic, astrology, grammar, medicine and language. The art of writing had become known to the Aryans. Women were free to get education. There were women scholars also. Dress was similar to the early Vedic period. They wore cotton, woollen and silken clothes. Shoes were also used by the people. Both men and women wore ornaments. Aryans started wearing silver ornaments. The principal means of entertainment of this culture were music, dancing, dicing, hunting and chariot racing. The Aryans had built up cities during this period. Indraprastha, Hastinapur, Koshambi and Benaras had grown up as principal cities. They still led a moral and virtuous life.

Caste System

During the later Vedic period the caste system became very rigid. It was difficult to change one's caste but it was not absolutely impossible. The society had been divided into four main caste divisions- Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Brahmans emerged as the most important class. They performed the sacrifices and rituals for their clients. Kshatriyas came next and they were to fight wars, third position was occupied by Vaishyas and they carried trade and Shudras were considered the lowest among the four castes. They were to serve the other three castes. The first three castes called Dvija -twice born but Shudras were deprived of it. According to Satapatha Brahmana, Kshatriyas and Brahmans could marry women from the Vaishyas and Shudras but the Vaishyas and Shudras could not marry Brahmana and Kshatriya girls.