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Religion, Society and Lifestyle - Gupta Period
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The Gupta period is best remembered for two reasons : 1. The development in the field of religion 2. The development of science, art and culture. This lesson will deal with the society, the lifestyle of the people and the religious development at that time. What we call 'Hinduism' today, took its shape during this period only. Many details are present in the slides but could not be highlighted due to the limitation of time. So the students are advised to study the details in the individual slides very carefully.

Abhyudaya Kelkar
Completed B.Com from DAVV, Indore Cleared CS, CWA (CMA) and CA Final (Group I)

Unacademy user
  1. Religion, Society, Lifestyle The Gupta Period (Part-5) Presented by: Abhyudaya Kelkar CS and CWA (CMA) Cleared, CA Finalist

  2. Religion 1. 2. Kings were Vaishnavas Vishnu and his avtaras came into prominence and many legends were added. Emergence of Bhagwat Cult. 3. Major additions to Vaishnavism : Vishnu-sahastrnaam and 4. Bhagwat Cult highlighted : Bhakti (Devotion) and Ahinsa (non- 5. Tolerance towards other sects and religions viz. Shaivism 6. Examples : Bodh Gaya Monastery Grant by Samudragupta, Bhagwat Purana. violence), that led to over-importance of vegetarianism Shakt, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. Nalanda University under Kumaragupta, Sarnath as a flourishing Buddhist centre. 7. Fa-Hien's accounts about flourishing Vedic and Buddhist religions. Absolute religious freedom. 8.

  3. Religion Revival of Vedic Rituals after the Kushan interlude. E.g. Ashwamedha Yajnas and other yajnas. Puranas attained their final form. Continuation of Sanskrit as the liturgical language. Hinduism as we know today, got crystalized as a religion during the Gupta period. The Hinduism today is more or less based upon the Gupta period's notions. First Hindu temples emerged, made up of bricks and terracotta (backed clay) Idol worship increased a lot. The titles like 'Mahabhagwat' and gods and goddesses on the coins, show increased personification of Gods and Goddesses 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

  4. Society: Castes Kings were viewed upon as the supreme power. As Vedic society revived, the four castes Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras re-emerged, based on duty and profession. Casteism was prevalent. Shudras and Chandalas were considered low, according to Fa-Hien. The position of Chandalas was even worse. Untouchability was also common, particularly for Chandalas. Chandalas lived outside the villages and cities. Shudras were not Dwijas (Dwijatiya/Twice-born) Inter-dining and Inter-marriages were avoided but not restricted or prohibited. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

  5. Society: Slavery 1. Slavery was not as harsh as in the west viz. Romans and the Arabs. 2. Slaves could be freed on fulfillment of certain conditions. 3. Categories of slaves: i) Prisoners of War ii) Servants in a royal household ili) Indebted and bankrupt gamblers, drunkards, etc.

  6. Society: Other Features 1. Foreign tribes of Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian, Shaka, Kushan, Indo-Sassanian and later on, Hephthalite too were assimilated into the caste structure and religious framework of the society. 2. Except Brahmins, the other three castes swelled. 3. Warriors became Kshatriyas, new merchants became Vaishyas and the rest, Shudras. 4. Rajputs emerged as 'Kshatriyas' during and just after the Gupta Period.

  7. Society: Families and Status of Women 1. Patriarchal Society and abundance of joint families. 2. Instances of child marriages. 3. In almost all of the eight forms of marriages of Vedic Age, the role of woman was subsidiary. 4. Attempts to restore the initially high status of woman 5. Education of women was allowed, especially in upper 6. Upper caste women sometimes participated in as during the Early Vedic Age. castes. cultural activities and administration,

  8. Society : Families and Status of Women 6. Widowed Dhruvadevi married Chandragupta II, the brother of her dead husband 7. Polygamy was very common. But polyandry was not allowed. 8. The status of upper caste women was better. Swayamwaras were allowed. 9. The women of lower castes were allowed to particiate in the economic activities. Agriculture, animal rearing, selling, helping men in their occupation, etc. 10. The first instance of Sati comes from Eran (near Bina, Sagar Distt., M.P.), dated c.510 AD. The other notable site is Mandsaur.

  9. Society General Lifestyle 1. Many people were vegetarians. 2. Fa hien notices that people avoided onion, garlic, potato (roots?), wine, etc. 3. Exclusions: i. Potato ii. Tomato iii. Chilli iv. Corn/Maize v. Tobacco vi. Cocoa vii. Coffee viii. Tea

  10. Society: General Lifestyle 1. Pastime : gambling, animal fights, musical concerts, dances. Chess was invented as 'Chaturanga' during the late Gupta Period. It consisted of 'Chaturangini Sena' (Four parts of an army viz. chariots, elephants, horsemen and infantryman) Chess went to Persia, became Chatranga and Arabicized version became Shatranj, and the present form is Medieval European. Chaturanga is considered as the ancestor of all board games, apart from chess, like Chinese Checkers, etc. Festivals : Religious (associated with deities) and agricultural (traditional and seasonal). Agricultural festivals were somehow linked to religious legends. 2. 3. 4. 5.