Following were the conditions of the people living in rural areas from c. 600 BCE to 600 CE:
• The society was patriarchal in nature with rigid social stratification. This meant that only sons could claim the resources of their fathers when the latter died.
• Women had to submit to their fathers, husbands and sons. They do not have the right to own property. They only possessed the dowry that they brought to the marriage.
• Exogamy was practised. This means that women were married outside the kin.
• People were classified in terms of gotras. Women gave up their father’s gotra upon marriage and adopted that of their husband’s. Also, the members of the same gotra were not allowed to marry.
• The society was hierarchically organized along with the ideal “occupations” of four categories wherein Brahamans occupied the top position. They studied and taught Vedas. They were followed by Kshatriyas who were warriors and administered justice, Vaishyas who were engaged in business and trade and finally Shudras which occupies the lowest place in society and served the higher Varnas. The caste system was rigid.
• The use of iron ploughshare led to an increase in agricultural productivity. Irrigation facilities such as well, tanks and canals raised agricultural production.
• The communication system was developed which led to the economic growth of the empire.
• Land and river routes crisscrossed the subcontinent and extended in various directions. This facilitated the growth of trade.
• Goods such as salt, cloth, grain were exchanged. Spices were demanded in the Roman Empire. They were transported across the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean.
• Exchanges were facilitated by the introduction of coinage. Silver and copper coins made exchange easy.
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