Social Life

Exact Match
  Indus Valley
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Huns | Harsha Vardhana | South India | Pulakeshin II | Parsis & Arabs | Rashtrakutas | Social Life


Formal education was available both in Brahmanical institutions and in Buddhist monasteries. Theoretically, the period of studentship at the former was the first thirty to thirty-seven years. It is unlikely that this was so in practice and few even amongst the Brahmans spent so many years as students. Buddhist monasteries took students for only ten years, but those wishing to be ordained as monks had to remain for a longer period. Nalanda near Patna grew to be the foremost Buddhist monastery and educational centre in the north. It attracted students from places as distant as China and south-east Asia. The excavations at Nalanda have revealed a large area of well-constructed monasteries and temples. Nalanda was supported by the income from a number of villages which the monastery acquired over the years through donations.

These villages and estates covered the expenses of the university, which was thus able to provide free educational facilities and residence for most of its students. The concentration of formal education was on subjects such as grammar, rhetoric, prose and verse composition, logic, metaphysics, and medicine.


Most of the legal texts took the Dharmashastra of Manu as their basis and elaborated upon it. A number of such works were written during this period, the best known being those of Yajnavalkya, Narada, Brihaspati and Katyayana.

Katyayana describes the judicial process at length. The court of justice was attended by the king as the highest court of appeal. He was assisted by the judges, ministers, Chief Priest, Brahmans, and assessors, varying in accordance with the needs of the individual cases. On certain occasions representatives of commercial institutions were also invited to assist the king. Recognized judicial bodies were the guild, the folk-assembly or council, a substitute appointed by the king in his own place (generally a Brahman), and the king himself. judgement was based either on the legal texts or social usage or the edict of the king (which could not contradict the first two to any great extent). Evidence was based on any or all of three sources, documents, witnesses, or the possession of incriminating objects. Ordeal as a means of proof was not only permitted but used. Katyayana speaks about the theory of caste punishments, though it is highly doubtful that whether it was applied in every case.

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