the distinction between the non-state and the state is presented along a
continuum rather than in absolute terms, the gana-sangha system of the
Vrijjis would be a turning point being, closer to state formation than, for
example, the gana-sangha system of the Vrishnis of western India.
Varna, in Buddhist sources, differs hierarchically with khattiya (kshatriya)
being the highest followed by bahamanna (brahmana), vessa (vaishya),
sudda (sudra) and chandala appears frequently as a synonym for
untouchable. Equally often the order is khattiya, bahamanna and gahapati.
which seems to be a more realistic organisation of socio-economic groups
rather than that of ritual rank.)
Varna as a system of social status and organisation seems to be absent in
the gana-sangha areas. The lineage system in such areas is different from that
in the western Ganga valley. Sacrificial rituals on a large scale played no role,
whether religious or economic, and this made the brahman varna redundant
and altered the nature of the economy and pattern of control. The emphasis
was more on the availability and organisation of labour and these societies
were characterised by two broad well demercated groups, those who owned
land and those who worked on the land. The recognition of this demarcation
made the sudra varna unnecessary since the dasa-karmakara were in effect
performing the functions of the sudra.
References to brahmans in Buddhist sources occur more frequently in the
context of kingdoms (particularly in Kosala and Magadha) rather than in
gana-sanghas, perhaps because Vedic ritual was generally absent in the latter.
The substitution of gahapati by vaishya points to the final disintegration
of the original vis. The gahapati is not only the head of the household but is
also often the landowner. References to gahapatis include men of wealth who
may be associated with professions such as carpentry and medicine, but have