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Social Studies for 8th EGB
Teacher: Mauricio Torres
As the Aryans moved into India,
they developed a strict system
of social classes. As the
Aryan’s influence spread
through India, so did their class
Before long, this class system
was a key part of Indian society.
INDIAN SOCIETY DIVIDES
When Aryan society became more complex, they divided
themselves into groups, according to people’s occupation.
Strict rules were developed about how people could interact. With
time, they became more strict and central to Indian society.
According to the Vedas, there were
four main varnas, or social divisions
in Aryan society (page 131):
Kshatriyas: rulers and warriors
Vaisyas: farmers, craftspeople, traders.
Sudras: laborers and non-Aryans
Harijans or Untouchables: people who
did not belong to any caste; they could
only hold unpleasant jobs.
The Bramins were at the top,
because they performed rituals for
the gods. This gave them great
influence over other varnas.
But they did not inly include priests:
they also included teachers and
This was because they dealt with
knowledge and spirituality.
THE CASTE SYSTEM
Rules of interaction between varnas got stricter. They divided
Indian society based on a person’s birth, wealth or occupation.
Castes determined a person’s place or role in society.
But this was not permanent. Sometimes castes gained or lost favor as they
members gained of lost wealth and power.
Rarely, people could change castes!
Both men and women
belonged to castes.
During the early Aryan
period, women had almost
the same rights as men.
They could, for example, own
property and receive and
Over time though, laws were
passed, which limited these
By the late Aryan period, a
segment of early Indian society
had developed, which did not
belong to any caste.
They were called the Harijans, or
They could only hold certain, and
often unpleasant, jobs.
To keep their classes distinct, the Aryans
developed sutras, or guides, which listed
all the rules for the caste system.
For example, people were not allowed to marry
anyone from a different class!
It was even forbidden for people from one class to
eat with people from another.
People who broke caste rules, could be
banned from their homes and castes,
which would deem them untouchables.
To avoid this, people spent most of their
time with people of their own class.
What were the four varnas?
What is a caste system?
What were some rules described in the
What would happen to someone who broke
the rules of the caste system?
Burstein, S. M., & Shek, R. (2012). World History (Teacher´s
Edition) (1st Edition ed.). (H. McDougal, Ed.) Orlando, Florida,
US.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Ellis, E. G., & Esler, A. (2009). World History. (P. Hall, Ed.) Upper
Saddle River, New Jersey, US: Pearson Education INC.
Images taken from www.google.com