Ground Breaking Discovery of Hindu Social System
- Hindu social system – Caste and Marriage plays an important role.
HINDU SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS:
Hindu social institutions are distinctive in nature both in terms of their form and function.These social institutions ideally operate according to prescribed norms and religious sanction.
Let us discuss one by one…..
Caste is a hereditory social institution based on the principle of endogamy,hierarchy,occupational specialisation and purity and pollution.There are various kind of restrictions imposed on inter caste relationships. These restrictions are explicitly:
- in the acceptance of food and drink by the upper castes from a lower ones
- their inter caste marriage
- sex relation
- on going or touching the upper castes by a lower ones etc….
They are considered that the lower caste people are impure and by their simple touch they will pollute the upper caste members.Hence there are various prescribed rites for the repurification of the upper caste members.
Generally, the traditional hinduism is arranged in a hierarichal caste system.
In Hindu social system,marriage is considered as important social institutions.For obtaining salvation a Hindu is required to perform certain rituals towards the gods and the ancestors as prescribed in the religious texts.These are performed by the male descendants.Of this,every Hindu must have a male descendent for salvation.
There are well defined Samskara (Sacraments) in Hinduism.All aspects of Hindu life are a part of the divine activity. Thus through the processes of various samskara all aspects of Hindu life are purified to be the part of the divine.Utterances of Mantras is an essential part of the samskara. It is believed that such utterances invests a person or an object with same divine power and purifies them.These are performed in different stages of the Hindus from prenatal to funeral.
These are enumerated to be sixteen:
- Conception (Garbhadharna = placing the seed in the womb)
- Invocation to the male child (Pumsavana)
- Braiding of the hair of the pregnant women(Simantonanayana)
- Offering to Vishnu, the sustainer (Vishnu Bali in the eighth month of pregnancy)
- Birth rites (Jata Karma)
- Giving a name (Nama-Karana)
- Taking a child out of the house (Niskramana)
- first feeding (Annaprasana)
- Tonsure (Caula-Karma)
- the rite of letters (Aksararambha)
- Piercing of the ear lobe (Karnacedha)
- Sacred thread ceremony (Upanayana= Lit. taking a boy to the place of Guru for study)
- initiation into the Vedic studies (vedarambha)
- Entering into life (Samavartana)
- Marriage (Vivaha)
- Last rite (Antyesti)
According to the ancient Hindu texts there are three main objectives of marriage.There are:
- dharma (honest and upright conduct)
- praja (progeny) and
- rati (sensual pleasure). Thus according to scripture a Hindu is incomplete without a wife and male children.
Some of the salient features of Hindu marriage are as follows:
- Marriage of one man and one woman at a time
- Based on local customs,Polygamy was also found among some Hindus.
- However, various social reform movements led by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar, Dayanand Saraswati etc. took place in India against such practices
- Finally,after independence,Hindu MarriageAct 1955 permits only monogamous form of marriage.
- Marriages among themselves.
- They are maintaining the religious and caste endogamy.As it is legally permitted,inter-caste and inter religious marriages are very few and confined mostly among the literate sections and in the urban areas.
- The status of the husband is always higher than the wife.
- It was emerged based on the marriage among different sub-sections of a caste or sub-caste rather than between the castes.
- The ancient Hindu literature permits hypergamy in the form of anuloma and does not permitts pratiloma
- Anuloma — whereby a girl is married to upper sub-caste
- Pratiloma — whereby a girl marries a boy from lower sub-caste
Gotra Exogamy —
- Hinduism maintains the gotra exogamy.
- Gotra,indicates the common ancestor of a clan or a family.
- People with common ancestor are not allowed to Inter-marry.
- In recent years, Prohibition of marriage within five generations on the mother’s side and seven generations on the father’s side.
- But,some variations are prevailing between the Hindus in the North and the South India.
- Eg:In South India cross-cousin marriages are allowed, while it is strictly forbidden in North India
- Family Life of a Hindu,is Grihastha Ashrama.
- The main objective of the marriage is reflected in the Grihastha ashram.
- In this stage a Hindu perform his Dharma and Karma for the continuity of the family and his salvation.
- Family system of the Hindu is joint in nature where people of three generations usually live together.
- Hindu joint family is mostly patrilineal,patrivirilocal,co-residential and common property ownership and a commercial unit.
- Family,composed of a man and his wife, their adult sons and their wives and children.Some times some other close relatives become members of the Hindu joint family.
- The oldest male member of the famil is the head of the family.
- Sex and age are the guiding principles of the familial hierarchy.
Due to rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, spread ofcommercial values, education and mass-communication and implementation of land reform laws leads to severe threat to the joint family system
Nuclearisation has been the major trends prevailing in india.But the sentiments of the joint family still continues among most of the Hindu which are expressed on the occasion of family ritual, patterns of ownership of property and in the exigencies of these families.
Mitakshara system —
-Traditionally this practice of inheritance was practiced in most parts of India.
-According to this system a son has a birth right on father’s ancestral property and the father cannot dispose this property in a way which can be detrimental to the interest of the son.
Dayabaga system —
-Only to Bengal and Assam,the practice of inheritance the father is the absolute owner of this property and he has the right to dispose it,according to their wish.
-Traditionally,females are not coparcenary.Only they holds maintenance rights.
-But the Women,from the patrilinear society gets some movable property as stridhana at the time of marriage.
The Hindu Succession Act and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 has established a uniform system of inheritance.According to it,a husband is legally responsible for the maintenance of his wife and children.If a Hindu male,died without making any will,his individual property passes on equal share between his son, daughter, widow and mother. Male and female heirs have come to be treated as equal in matters of inheritance and succession.This act has also given a woman the right to inherit from the father and the husband. However,women have no right to coparcenary ancestral property by birth.
Hindu Social Institutions —
Some scholars told that the economic development fostered in the Western World because of the rationalisation of religious ethics of Protestantism of Christianity.But,such a process of rationalisation has not taken place in Hinduism.Moreover the Hindu belief system, which centered around the doctrinesof Dharma, Karma and Moksha, and the social institution of the Hinduism,these produced an irrational social atmosphere.This phenomena hindered their economic development and the growth of industrial capitalism.
But some others said that the Hinduism has not hindered the growth of the same.The traditional business families in India have generated the required capital from family sources and their traditional expertise are also used for economic development.
Also they told that the Hinduism holds enormous elements of rationalisation and this-wordly attitudes required for economic modernisation..To know more about the true history of hinduism…