for the socialisation of each generation. Entirely new societies materialised in
each period. Some ways of life disappeared as others evolved. Along with
arrivals of new peoples, new cultural elements were introduced inside old
cultural areas to form more and more complex composites. On the whole,
people became more identified with villages, towns and regions around them.
Societies became more complex, differentiated and highly stratified.
Making of Hindu Societies In early medieval centuries, the places where
changes took place were not characteristically big cities like those that hosted
ancient imperial societies. Ancient cities were huge for their day, but
encircled by open land and by communities cut off from city life. They relied
on long distance lines of support that broke down when new dynasties set up
regional domains. Early medieval trade established dense links among
localities that filled up with farms and markets. The regional domains were
less dependent on long distance trade and wide military operations, which
nevertheless were carried on at the local level. Each medieval Indian
kingdom resembled a grove of banyan trees that hosted different travellers
who went around the groves, strengthening their growth.
Medieval Texts on Dharma New kinds of society came into existence as
medieval agrarian domains extended into landscapes inhabited by nomads,
hunters and forest dwellers. Kings, priests, and local leaders led the drive to
extend and protect the moral authority of dharma. Protecting dharma
permitted royal families and local elites to form ranks of honor and spiritual
merit that also disciplined the labour force, coordinated economic activities
and secured rights over landed property. Medieval texts on dharma do not
always maintain that a king should be a kshatriya, and in most areas, caste
(jati) ranks grew without the presence of all four varnas. Instead, the
medieval Dharmasastras lay down that the king’s sacred duty (rajadharma)
was protection of local custom. Kings, brahmins and local landed elites had
to work together to realise dharma.
Creation and Extension of Caste Societies Coercion was definitely
implicated in the creation of caste societies, but the practice of ranking jati
groups according to varna was appealing for several groups, particularly at
the higher levels. Caste rules stabilised communities, systematised production
and sanctified power. Rituals of caste ranking facilitated family alliances by