NCERT Solutions Class 12 History Kinship Caste and Class

NCERT Solutions Class 12 History Kinship Caste and Class


1. Explain why  patriliny may  have  been  particularly important among elite families.


• Patriliny  had existed  prior  to the composition of the Mahabharata; however, the central  story  of the text strengthened the ideal of patrilineal succession.

•  Most ruling  elites  and dynasties claimed  to follow patrilineal succession.

•  Under patriliny, sons could claim  power  and the resources  of their  fathers when the latter died.

• In ruling  dynasties which had no sons, rulers  of brothers succeeded  one another or kinsmen claimed the throne.

2. Discuss  whether kings  in early states were invariably Kshatriyas.


•  Kings in early  states  were not  invariably Kshatriyas.

• Several important ruling  lineages  had different origins.

• For example, according  to later  Buddhist  texts, social background of the Mauryas  was Kshatriya, but Brahmanical texts  described  them  as being  of "low" origin.  They established a mighty empire.

• Shakas were regarded as mlechchhas (barbarians or outsiders) by the Brahmanas. However, Rudradaman, the  best-known Shaka ruler, was a powerful ruler.

• Powerful  mlechchhas who were familiar with Sanskritic traditions could become  rulers.

• Ruler of the Satavahana  dynasty, Gotami-puta Siri­ Satakani  claimed  to be both  a Brahmana  and a Kshatriya.

3. Compare and contrast the  dharma or norms mentioned in the  stories of Orona, Hidimba and Matanga.



Orona, a Brahmana  teacher, accepts Eklavaya, a forest­ dweller, as his pupil  and defied the rule of dharma  that non-Brahamanas should  not be imparted education. However, by asking  Eklavaya's  thumb as fee, Orona ensured  that  Arjuna  remained unrivalled among  his pupil.


Dharma  does not allow  Brahmanas to have matrimonial alliance  with  non-Brahmana communities such as forest­ dwellers. However, the  story  shows that  Yudhishtira and Shima agreed  to marry  Hidimba  (sister  of a rakshasa). Thus the dharma of gotras  was not followed in this  case.


In the  story  of Matanga  (a Chandala  beggar), Mandavya Kumara, son of the former, denies food to the latter. Mandavya  who grew  up learning three Vedas is not aware of the fact that  the beggar  seeking  food, in fact, is his father. He strictly follows  the dharma that  outcaste should  not be given food, and only Brahmanas deserve  it.

 4. In what ways was  the  Buddhist theory of a social contract different from the  Brahmanical view of society derived from the  Purusha sukta?


•  Buddhists  developed their  theory of social contract to understand social inequalities, and wanted  to create institutions to regulate sociaI conflicts.

• In Sutta  Pitaka, they  suggested  that  originally humans  lived  in peace without any inequality, and had harmonious relations with  nature.

• They proposed  that  an authority ca lied mahasammata should  be selected  by the people to regulate  social affairs.

•For the Buddhists, institution of kingship  was based on human  choice, and subjects could pay taxes as a form  of payment for services  rendered by the king.

• They strongly believed  that  humans  could create  and institutionalise economic  and social relations.

•  Contrary to Buddhist  theory  of social contract, Brahmanas  asserted  that  the  varna  order  was of divine  origin, and it was determined by birth.

• To justify this  myth, they  argued  all the elements of the  universe and the four varnas  emanated from Purusha, the primeval man.

• Brahmana  was his mouth, of his arms  was made the Kshatriya. His thighs  became the Vaishya; of his feet the Shudra  was born.

5. The following is an excerpt from the Mahabharata, in which Yudhisthira, the  eldest Pandava, speaks to Sanjaya, a messenger:

 Sanjaya, convey  my respectful greetings to all the  Brahmanas  and the chief  priest  of the house of Dhritarashtra. Ibow respectfully to teacher  Orona ... Ihold the feet of our preceptor Kripa  ... (and)  the chief of the Kurus, the great  Bhishma.  Ibow respectfully to the old king  (Dhritarashtra). I greet and ask after the  health  of his son Duryodhana and his younger brother ... Also greet  all the young Kuru warriors who are our brothers, sons and grandsons  ... Greet above all him, who is to us like father  and mother, the wise Vidura (born  of a slave woman)  ... I bow to the elderly ladies who are known  as our mothers. To those  who are our wives you say this, "I hope they  are well-protected"... Our daughters-in-law born of good families and mothers of children greet  on my behalf.  Embrace for me those  who are our daughters ... The beautiful, fragrant, well-dressed courtesans of ours you should  also greet.  Greet the  slave women  and their  children, greet  the  aged, the  maimed (and)  the  helpless ...

 Try  and  identify the  criteria used to make this  list  - in terms of age, gender, kinship ties. Are there any other criteria? For each  category, explain why  they are  placed in a particular position in the  list.


• The criteria used to make this  list  are that  of dynastic hierarchical order.

• First, the list begins  with  salutation to Brahmanas, the chief priest  and teacher, highly  venerated by the rulers.

• Then, the eldest  Pandava goes on greeting the chief of the  Kurus, the old king, brothers, warriors, elders, mothers, wives, sons, daughters and children. He aIso greets  courtesans.

• The list ends with  his greetings to slave women  and their  children, the aged, the maimed and the helpless. These categories  are placed at the end of the  list as they  were considered inferior in the social order.

• Other  criteria  used in the list is that  of socio­ economic  order; slave women  and their  children, the aged, the  maimed  and the helpless  were placed at the bottom of society  as they  were labouring groups.


6. Write a short  essay  (about 500 words) on the following:


This is what a famous historian of Indian literature, Maurice Winternitz, wrote about the  Mahabharata: "just because the  Mahabharata represents more  of an entire literature ... and contains so much  and  so many kinds  of things, ... (it) gives(s) us an insight into  the  most  profound depths of the  soul of the Indian folk." Discuss.


Mahabharata gives  us an insight  into  the most profound  depths  of the  soul of the Indian folk.

• It was composed  over a period  of about  1,000  years (500  BCE onwards).

• Though  its central  story  is about  two sets of warring cousins  (the  Kauravas  and the Pandavas)  for wealth and power, the text  also contains  sections  laying down norms  of behaviour for various  other  social groups.

• Some of the stories  it contains  may  have been in circulation even earlier; they  depict  a wide range  of social categories  and situations.

•  While using the text, historians ask careful  questions- who composed  what  and for whom.

• They also consider  the language  used, and the ways in which the text  circuIa ted.

• By analysing the nature  of family  and kinship depicted  in the text, various  cultural practices  that shaped social histories can be understood.


7. Discuss  whether the  Mahabharata could have been  the  work of a single author.


Mahabharata is not the  work of a single  author.

• Original  story  in the text  was composed  by charioteer-bards known  as sutas  who accompanied Kshatriya  warriors to the battlefield.

• They composed  poems  celebrating their  victories. These compositions circuIated  orally.  From the fifth century  BCE, Brahmanas  wrote  down  them.

• There was another phase in the composition of the text  between  c. 200 BCE and 200 CE.

• This phase in the text  depicts  the worship  of Vishnu and Krishna, one of the important figures  of the epic.

•  Between  c. 200 and 400 CE, large  didactic  sections resembling the Manusmriti were added.

• The original text  with  less than  10,000  verses grew to comprise  about  100,000 verses.

•  According  to myth, Vyasa dictated the text  to the deity  Lord Ganesha who scribed  it.


8. How  important were gender differences in early societies? Give  reasons for your  answer.


• Gender differences in early  societies  were maintained for depriving women  of equal  share in property.

• In some cases, women  were treated as property.

•  According  to Mahabharata, in a dice game  between Duryodhana and Yudhisthira, the latter stakes Draupadi  along  with  gold, elephants, chariots, slaves, army, treasury and kingdom and loses her to the former.

• It shows that  women  in early  societies  were treated as property by ruling  dynasties.

•  According  to Manusmriti, paternal  estate  was to be divided  amongst sons, and women  could not claim  a share of it.

•  However, women  were allowed  to retain  their marriage gifts  (stridhana), but  only with  husband's permission.

• This could be inherited by their  children, and husband  had no claim  on it.


9. Discuss  the  evidence that suggests that Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not  universally followed.


•  Brahmanical prescriptions about  kinship  and marriage were not universally followed.

• For example, Satavahana  ruler, Gotami-puta Siri­ Satakani, who claimed  to have ensured  that  no intermarriage amongst members of the four  varnas, entered  into  a marriage alliance  with  the kin  of Rudradaman, who was a mlechchha (barbarian or outsider).

• Brahmanical texts  classified  people  in terms  of gotras.

• Women were expected  to give  up their  father's gotra and adopt  that  of their  husband  on marriage and members of the same gotra could not marry.

• However, Satavahana  rulers  were polygynous (married more  than one wife).  Women who married them  retained their  father's gotras.

• Many of them  belonged  to same gotras. It was against  the ideal of exogamy prescribed in the Brahmanical texts.


Map work


10. Compare the  map  in this chapter with Map  1 in Chapter 2. List the  mahajanapadas and cities located near  the  Kuru-Panchala lands.


Mahajanapadas:  Kuru, Shurasena  and Matsya

• Cities:  Hastinapura, Indraprastha, Mathura  and Virata




Click for more History Study Material

Latest NCERT & CBSE News

Read the latest news and announcements from NCERT and CBSE below. Important updates relating to your studies which will help you to keep yourself updated with latest happenings in school level education. Keep yourself updated with all latest news and also read articles from teachers which will help you to improve your studies, increase motivation level and promote faster learning

CBSE Board Exams in July Press Release

CBSE has released press note for the dates for the CBSE Board exams for Class 10. CBSE said “With regards to conduct of Class X examinations several queries are being received by the CBSE. In this context, it is once again reiterated that remaining examinations of...

Checking of Boards Answer sheets starts today

CBSE has instructed almost 3000 schools to start the evaluation work for class 10th and class 12th board exam answer sheets from today. The checking of answer sheets for class 10th and class 12th was stopped earlier due to covid crisis in the country. Now in order to...

Board Exams Class 10 and Class 12 Datesheet 2020

CBSE has announced the datesheet for the remaining exams of class 10 and class 12 exams. The exams are going to start in July. The class 10 and 12th board exams will be conducted for the remaining 29 papers from July 1 to July 15, 2020, at various centers nominated by...

TV Channels for Students by CBSE

In enhancing the students studying part, the Government is planning to introduce one standard one channel plan. The lockdown in India has adversely collapsed all the operations including schools, colleges, and workplaces with unanticipated setbacks. On behalf of the...

Art Integrated Project work for classes 1 to 10

CBSE Board has decided to introduce Art-Integrated Project work for classes I to X to promote Art-Integrated Learning in schools to make teaching learning Competency-Based and joyful. As part of this, at least one Art-Integrated Project in each subject shall be taken...

Studies Today