Ans. Special features of tribal societies were:
i. They did not follow the social rules and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas. Nor were they divided into numerous unequal classes.
ii. Members of each tribe were united by kinship bonds.
iii. Many tribes obtained their livelihood from agriculture. Others were hunter-gatherers or herders.
iv. Some tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to another. A tribal group controlled land and pastures jointly, and divided these amongst households according to its own rules.
Ans. Rani Durgawati
i. Durgawati was the daughter of Salbahan, the Chandel Rajput raja of Mahoba. She got married to Dalpat, the son of Gond raja Aman Das.
ii. Dalpat, however, died early. Rani Durgawati was very capable, and started ruling on behalf of her five-year-old son, Bir Narain.
iii. Under her, the kingdom became even more extensive. In 1565, the Mughal forces under Asaf Khan attacked Garha Katanga.
iv. A strong resistance was put up by Rani Durgawati. She was defeated and preferred to die rather than surrender. Her son, too, died fighting soon after.
Ans. Ahom society
Ahom society was divided into clans or khels. There were very few castes of artisans, so artisans in the Ahom areas came from the adjoining kingdoms. A khel often controlled several villages. The peasant was given land by his village community. Even the king could not take it away without the community’s consent. Originally, the Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods. During the first half of the seventeenth century, however, the influence of Brahmanas increased. Temples and Brahmanas were granted land by the king. In the reign of Sib Singh (1714-1744), Hinduism became the predominant religion. But the Ahom kings did not completely give up their traditional beliefs after adopting Hinduism. Ahom society was very sophisticated. Poets and scholars were given land grants. Theatre was encouraged.
Ans. Changes in tribal societies
i. Considerable social change took place in the subcontinent. Varna-based society and tribal people constantly interacted with each other. This interaction caused both kinds of societies to adapt and change.
ii. There were many different tribes and they took up diverse livelihoods.
iii. Over a period of time, many of them merged with caste based society. Others, however, rejected both the caste system and orthodox Hinduism.
iv. Some tribes established extensive states with well-organised systems of administration. They thus became politically powerful. This brought them into conflict with larger and more complex kingdoms and empires.
i. The best-known pastoral and hunter gatherer tribe in history were the Mongols. They inhabited the grasslands (steppes) of Central Asia and the forested areas further north.
ii. By 1206 Genghis Khan had united the Mongol and Turkish tribes into a powerful military force. At the time of his death (1227) he was the ruler of extensive territories.
iii. His successors created a vast empire. At different points of time, it included parts of Russia, Eastern Europe and also China and much of West Asia.
iv. The Mongols had well-organised military and administrative systems. These were based on the support of different ethnic and religious groups.
Ans. Tribal people were found in almost every region of the subcontinent. In Punjab, the Khokhar tribe was very influential during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more important. In
Multan and Sind, the Langahs and Arghuns dominated extensive regions before they were subdued by the Mughals. The Balochis were another large and powerful tribe in the north-west. In the western Himalaya lived the shepherd tribe of Gaddis. The distant north-eastern part of the subcontinent too was entirely dominated by tribes – the Nagas, Ahoms and many others. In many areas of present-day Bihar and Jharkhand, Chero chiefdoms had emerged by the twelfth century. The Mundas and Santals were among the other important tribes that lived in this region and also in Orissa and Bengal.
The Maharashtra highlands and Karnataka were home to Kolis, Berads and numerous others. Further south there were large tribal populations of Koragas, Vetars, Maravars and many others. The large tribe of Bhils was spread across western and central India. The Gonds were found in great numbers across the present-day states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Ans. History of the Gonds was different from that of the Ahoms in the following ways:
i. The Gonds lived in a vast forested region called Gondwana – or “country inhabited by Gonds”. The Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar in the thirteenth century.
ii. Gonds practised shifting cultivation. The Ahoms also introduced new methods of rice cultivation.
iii. Gonds society was not as developed as Ahoms. The Ahoms built a large state, and for this they used firearms. They could even make high quality gunpowder and cannons.
iv. Gonds were influenced by Rajputs. In order to gain power and recognition, they had marriage alliances with Rajputs. Ahoms annexed the kingdoms of the Chhutiyas and of Koch-Hajo and subjugated many other tribes.
There were many similarities between Gonds and Ahoms.
i. Both the tribal states were attacked by Mughals at different times. Despite their brave defence, both were defeated by the Mughals.
ii. Both granted land to the Brahmanas.
iii. Both developed centralised administrative systems.
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