social duality, recorded only in later Vedic literature. This essentially
linguistic distinction to begin with, between the arya and the mleccha,
separating the speakers of Indo-Aryan from others, takes on a social
connotation as well, with mleccha meaning a barbarian or one outside the
pale and ritually impure. The recognition of basic differences in these
dualities of arya-dasa, deva-asura and arya-mleccha is an indication of the
recognition of heterogeneity and the need to juxtapose the differences within
a working system.
Forms of Kinship and Social Units
Gotra Exogamy The integration of groups through particular forms of
kinship was a parallel process and is more often referred to in the concept of
the gotra, literally meaning a stockade for cows, which was used to identify
descent groups among the high status varnas. Initially, it appears in more
frequent association with the brahmanas and was to remain essential to
brahmana identity. Later, sources mention certain kshatriyas (such as the
Andhaka-Vrishni, Sakyas and Licchavis) using gotra identities. But among
them, it was more a means of differentiating between families within the clan
than for wider social identification. The gotra was an exogamous clan where
exogamy was emphasised in the prohibition on marrying sagotras, and
marrying those related up to seven generations on the father’s side and five
on the mother’s.
    In later periods, it was maintained that the gotra system was prevalent
only among brahmanas, although it is conceded that kshatriyas could take
the gotra of their purohitas. In the case of the kshatriyas, recruitment to the
varna meant latching onto one of the two major genealogies, Suryavamsha or
Chandravamsha, which was done with considerable facility in the first
millennium ad, when low status chiefs acquired power and aspired to the best
lineage links.
Widening Circles of Social Units The nuclear unit in such a society was
the kula, the family, and a group of such families made up the grama or
village. Grama by extension, therefore, also referred to a community. In
some instances, it conveyed the meaning of a body of men. It was therefore, a
larger unit than the kula but smaller   than the vis. The term gramani, used for