JAC Board Class 7 Social Science Notes History Chapter 7 Tribes, Nomads and Settled Communities
→ Society was divided according to the rules of varna in most parts of the subcontinent. These rules were prescribed by the Brahmanas and were accepted by the rulers of large kingdoms. The difference between the rich and poor increased.
→ Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Societies
- There were other kinds of societies present as well in the subcontinent who did not follow the social rules and rituals dictated by the Brahmanas. Nor they were divided into numerous unequal classes. These types of societies are called tribes.
- There was a distinctive bond of kinship among the members of each tribe. The main source of livelihood was agriculture but there were hunter-gatherers or herders as well. There were some tribes who were nomadic and moved from one place to another.
- Many large tribes usually lived in forests, hills, deserts and places difficult to reach. The tribes retained their freedom and preserved their separate culture in various ways.
→ Who were Tribal People?
- Tribal people did not keep written records but they preserved rich customs and oral traditions. And these were passed down to each new’ generation.
- Some powerful tribes controlled large territories as people were found in almost every region of the subcontinent.
- The Khokhar tribe in Punjab was very influential and powerful during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more important. Kamal Khan Gakkhar, the chief was made mansabdar by Emperor Akbar.
- The Langahs and Arghuns in Multan and Sind, dominated extensive regions before they were subdued by the Mughals.
- The Balochis were another large and powerful tribe in the north-west.
- The shepherd tribe of Gaddis lived in the western Himalaya.
- The Nagas, Ahoms and many others too dominated the north-eastern part of the subcontinent.
- Chero chiefdoms had emerged by the twelfth century in Bihar and Jharkhand. Akbar’s famous general Raja Man Singh attacked and defeated the Cheros in 1591.
- The Mundas and Santals were among the other important tribes that lived in Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa (now Odisha) and Bengal.
- The Kolis, Berads and numerous other tribes were found in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka.
- Far away south there were large tribal populations of Koragas, Vetars, Maravars and many others.
- The tribe of Bhils were spread across western and central India.
- Another tribe, the Gonds were found in good numbers across the present-day states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
→ How Nomads and Mobile People Lived?
- Nomads who lived on milk and other pastoral products and moved over long distances with their animals are called nomadic pastoralists. They also exchanged wool, ghee, etc., with settled agriculturists for grain, cloth, utensils and other products.
- The most important trader nomads were the Banjaras. Their caravan was called tanda.
- To transport grain to the city markets, Sultan Alauddin Khalji used the Banjaras.
→ Changing Society: New Castes and Hierarchies
- As the society grew, people with new skills were required hence, smaller castes, or jatis, emerged within varnas.
- Artisans such as smiths, carpenters and masons were also recognised as separate jatis by the Brahmanas. Jatis became the basis for organising society rather than varna.
- New Rajput clans, the Kshatriyas became powerful by the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They belonged to different lineages such as Hunas, Chandelas, Chalukyas and some others. Among them, some had been tribes earlier. They moderately replaced the older rulers especially in agricultural areas.
- The tribal people had to follow the Rajput clans to the position of rulers as they set an example for them.
→ A Closer Look The Gonds
- The Gonds practised shifting cultivation as they lived in a vast forested region called Gondwana or “country inhabited by Gonds”.
- The Akbar Nama reveals the Gond kingdom of Garha Katanga that had 70,000 villages.
- The kingdom was divided into garbs and each was controlled by a particular Gond clan. It was further divided into units of 84 villages called chaurasi. The chaurasi was again subdivided into barhots which were made up of 12 villages each.
- The Gond raja of Garha Katanga Aman Das, assumed the title of Sangram Shah. His son, Dalpat, married princess Durgawati, the daughter of Salbahan, the Chandel Rajput raja of Mahoba.
- She was very capable and brave and started ruling on behalf of her five-year old son, Bir Narain. In 1565, she was defeated by the Mughal forces under Asaf Khan and preferred to die than to surrender. Her son also died fighting after sometime.
→ The Ahoms
- In the thirteenth century, the Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar. They created a new system of the bhuiyans means landlords.
- They used firearms in 1530s and by that the Ahoms built a large state. They could even make high quality gunpowder and cannons by the 1660s.
- In 1662, the Mughals under Mir Jumla attacked the Ahom kingdom but they were defeated.
- The state depended upon forced labour. Those who were forced to work for the state were called paiks.
The new methods of rice cultivation was also introduced by Ahoms.
- The society was divided into clans or khels. A khel often controlled several villages.
- The Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods. During the reign of Sib Singh (1714-1744), Hinduism became the predominant religion. But they did not completely give up their traditional beliefs after adopting Hinduism.
- The historical works known as buranjis were written first in the Ahom language and then in Assamese. It was a very sophisticated society. Theatre was encouraged a lot.
This period saw more interaction between varna based society and the tribal groups. Few established extensive states with well- organised systems of administration hence, became politically powerful.