FAMILY – A GLORIOUS SOCIAL UNIT
Lecturer in History
Dr. V.S. Krishna Govt. Degree & P.G. College
The primitive men have no families. They lead their sexual life according to their wish. The primitive society is a free society. The problem came with the children. Who should bring the children up which is a main question in the primitive society. Then an arrangement was made by the elder. The children born to the lady should be responsible for upbringing of her children. The male who was responsible for pregnancy of a lady should look after the female and her children. This is only a arrangement but not a family. At the threshold of the civilization a thought was struck to the mind of the people that both male and female united together to give birth to the child. That means a marriage system slowly came into existence. The marriage of male and female make them to join together. This marriage union was a source of setting up of a family. Family is nothing but a union of two bodies. This is called a nuclear family. This kind of family is consisting of wife and husband and their children. In India the Aryan civilization has produced joint families. The head of the joint family was called Karta. He was responsible for performing marriages and providing education to the children. Male person was the head of the family called Grihapathi. The role of female is pivotal in joint families. The Grihapathi takes the decision with the consent of the elder ladies. The role of female is key in upbringing of children. Female plays a notable role in performing a Yajnas and Yagas. This is about the past.
In the modern family women’s role limited to provide sexual pressure and give birth to the children. Their duties are restricted to kitchen. They have no say in the economic matters. After the enforcement of the constitution the position of women in the family has been changed to some extent. Now the women are doing jobs. The government has taken steps to elevate the women’s position. The family members particularly the male counter parts have to encourage their female members. To take up economic, political and education jobs. Now the family is again restricted to nuclear and residing in cities. All these issues would be highlighted in my full text paper.
FAMILY – A GLORIOUS SOCIAL UNIT
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
Family is a pivotal unit of the society. Family is a living symbol of unity and integrity. Woman’s role in the family is key for the development of the children. Family is the source of the prosperity of the nation. Considering these statements present study has been conducted with following objectives kept in mind.
1. To understand the origin of the family right from the beginning of civilization.
2. To link the family with the nation for its prosperity.
3. To lay emphasis on the woman’s role in family.
4. To understand the functions and duties of a family for the social development.
The researcher has adopted doctrinaire method to complete the present paper. The researcher has consulted several books to know the origin of the family. With the assistance of sociologists the researcher tries to ascertain the link between the family and society. The researcher has attended conferences and workshops to have good resource on this topic.
Family is being considered as backbone of the society. Family is developed through the union of two bodies male and female. The children born to the parents may inherit the culture, habits, living style and intelligence from their parents. On the basis of these tentative conclusions present study has been made.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
Family is a source for the economic social and ethical development. Family is source for the glory of nation. Family is known for growth and development of heritage, customs and the culture. Family is known for social stratification and social status.
THEME OF THE PAPER:
Before going through the discussion about the domestic violence a mention must be made about the formation of the homes through the families. The making up of families is an age old tradition. The families are set up through the marriages. This Unit is formed to understand the theoretical outlines of the institution of Family and the origin, scope and development of family legislation in India. From the family individuals gain a common code of behavior which permits them to fit into the larger group of society. The family is the basic unit of the society. It is an institution which not only serves the primate man but also is responsible for the religious and moral aspects of the society. The family integrates with the legal, political and governmental institutions. Though the family is different from locality, territorial, social, or governmental groups, it is an integral part of all these groups.
The family integrates and preserves rights and obligations in the basic fields of human interest, namely private, moral, religious, and public. Certain rights and obligations of the family are purely private in their nature, whereas other rights and obligations are connected with society and public institutions. The individual members of the family must also obey the public law, pay their taxes to the government and serve, if necessary, in the armed forces.
A family is defined as a group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more of their children of their own or adopted by sexually cohabitating adults.
The family plays an important role in the society and it has certain functional requisites which includes biological functions, reproduction, socialization of new members of the society, production and distribution of goods and services, maintenance of order within the group and maintenance of motivation for individual and group survival etc. But this maintenance cannot be possible through a single male or female. As for the Hindu Dharmasastras after the completion of their education from a Guru. They return their homes to enter into Grihastashrama Dharma. This Dharma is only source of family. Grihastashrama Dharma is nothing but performance of marriage. The system of the marriages are the union between male and female different from one region to another. The actual marriage system in India will be discussed after making a mention about the family settings in different zones divided by sociologists.
Among the Hindus, marriage and family were in the past strictly regulated in accordance with the ritual and legal injunctions of Manu, Badarayana and others. Great importance was attached to the initiation into family through eight recognized types of marriage. For the performance of rituals and rites family was the right place. The Grihastaashrama was a significant aspect of Hindu social organization. It was in the properly constituted household that one propitiated the gods of the family and its deceased ancestors, sheltered the young and the infirm, and extended hospitality to guests and relatives. Hence marriage was regarded as sacred and not as a contract. P.N. Prabhu and K.M. Kapadia, the two Indian social scientists, have shown the linkage between Hindu texts and the legal and social patterns of Hindu family.
IravatiKarve, an Indian anthropologist, has divided India into kin-zones, namely, the Northern zone, the Central zone, the Southern zone and the Eastern zone. According to her “joint family is a group of people who generally live under one roof, who eat food cooked in one kitchen, who have property in common, participate in common family worship and are related to one another as some particular types of kindred”. In the Northern type, those who trace descent from a common male ancestor form the centre of the family; the women who are brought in as brides and the young unmarried daughters of the family constitute the periphery. The northern family, according to her, is strong in the unity of its men. This unity is susceptible to cross-pressures because of the fact that brides are brought in from different places. All existing families in the North are offshoots of wider kin-structures (which may be broadly called clans) founded by common ancestors. In the northern zone, besides patriliny there are some specific features such as village exogamy. Here for purposes of marriage, a village is an exogamous division of society. This means that all the people belonging to one caste living in a village behave as if they were the descendants of a common ancestor. Hence all males and females born and brought up in a village are regarded as “brothers and sisters”. So it is obligatory for the parents to seek a bride or a bridegroom from another village.
Karve divides the northern system into two zones: northern and central. The northern zone consists of the Gangetic belt of U.P. and M.P. Kashmir and Punjab in the north, and Assam, Bengal and Bihar in the east. Village exogamy is invariably followed in U.P. and M.P., but in other parts of the north, it is not always consistently followed. The central zone consists of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Orissa. Here, apart from patriliny and patri-locality there are some additional features such as hypergamy and cross-cousin marriage.
Hypergamy refers to the practice wherein a ritually and socially low-ranking family tried to marry off its daughter into a higher-ranking family. Among the Rajputs there is a rank-order with four ruling clans at the top: These are the Sun, Moon, Fire and Serpent clans. The Western Rajputs are believed to belong to the four prestigious clans; the eastern Rajputs are members of lesser-ranking clans. Hence, the eastern brides are given into the western families.
Apart from Rajputs, Marathas of Maharashtra and the Patidars of Gujarat also practice hypergamy. Hypergamy has had two social consequences: (a) it has enabled lower-ranking groups to improve their status within the caste system; and (b) it has lessened the rigidity of castes by allowing marriages between families of different ritual rank. In addition to hypergamy nearly all the castes of Maharashtra and the peasant castes of Gujarat (especially of the Kathiawad area) allow cross-cousin marriage. The presence of both northern and southern features in the Central Zone is the product of interactions between northern immigrants and the southern groups. In the kinship terminology also, mixed patterns are evident.
In this zone, consisting of the four southern states and some contiguous regions the kinship pattern is bilateral as patrilineal and matrilineal groups exist side by side. Here, there is a definite bias for marriage within a very small kin-group, just outside the immediate primary family. The only rule for southern marriage is clan exogamy, i.e., marriages within the same Gotra have been traditionally prohibited. The relations between men and women in a Southern family are quite distinct from those prevailing in a northern family. In the north, the focus is on males, women being regarded as appendages. In the south both males and females are entitled to certain privileges. In the south west(Kerala), Nairs and certain other castes among Hindus have had a distinctive matrilineal system. In Kerala, the matriliny existed side by side with the patriliny of Nambudiris, a Brahmin caste of Kerala. The joint family of Nambudiri Brahmins called ‘Illom’ and that of the Nairs called “Taravad” were till recently regarded as impartible, i.e., its property could not be divided. As only the eldest son in a Nambudiri family had the right of inheritance, the other sons of the family entered into conjugal unions with the Nair women. It was purely a contractual relationship and they had no obligation to bring up the children of such unions. Also, in parts of Kerala, there was adelphic polyandry among some castes whereby two or more brothers shared one wife. These practices have almost disappeared in present-day Kerala.
There are two other important groups in Kerala, Christians and Muslims. The Christians are a patrilineal, monogamous group among whom there are no preferential marriages. The Muslims allow preferential marriages among both cross-cousins and parallel cousins. The matrilineal influence was traceable till recently among the Muslims of Kerala in the sphere of property inheritance. It may be noted that marriage among Christians is sacred, while among Muslims it is a contract which can be terminated unilaterally or by mutual consent.
Interpersonal relations in the South are based on reinforcement of ties among the existing kins. Only about 30 per cent of the marriages in the south are based on preference. In a majority of cases, marriages occur among unrelated persons. However, even when unrelated persons marry there is a continuous exchange of visits, gifts between agnates and affines. In the north, the relatives by marriage rarely visit each other’s house. In fact, if a father has to visit his married daughter he pays a sum towards hospitality. Thus, even in the absence of cross-cousin marriage, there is no sharp separation in the south between the kin by blood and kin by marriage.
A variant of preferential marriage is the uncle-niece marriage whereby a man may marry his elder sister’s daughter. Among the peasant castes of south it is common. The preferential marriage was also obligatory among some sections of south. Among the Komathis men were obliged to marry their mothers, brothers, daughters. Among Coorgis, a Hinduized tribal group of the South, the principle of obligation underlay their marriage practices. If a marriage took place between unrelated persons, this was preceded by a public ceremony in which the male cross-cousin tore up a piece of cloth symbolizing his surrender of rights over his female cross-cousin.
This zone consists of the various Australoid and Mongoloid tribes who inhabit the Eastern and northeastern India. The Eastern tribes are Mundari-speakers; the north-eastern tribes are Mon-kher speakers. These groups represent linguistic islands separated from each other by regions where other languages are spoken. These tribal languages belong to the Austro-Asiatic linguistic group. According to IravatiKarve, the present primitives are the remnants of more numerous and better-knit social groups which have been forced apart, partly absorbed and partly driven into forests by the conquering hordes of Aryans and Dravidians.
Most of the people speaking Mundari language are patrilineal and patrilocal in character. All these families are divided into exogamous totemistic clans. A person must marry outside the clan and must not marry relatives. (cousin). The Khasi and Gond (South Central India) practice cross-cousin marriages. The Mundari do not have a joint family. At the marriage bride-price is given but in lieu of it the husband may serve the father-in law’s household for a few years. Sooner or later man and wife set up a nuclear-type household where they bring up children on their own.
Though the rules concerning marriage, as laid down in the older Smritis, were not basically changed during this period and the commentaries and digests preserved them, they preferred lowering down the marriageable age of girls. While anuloma marriages took place, pratiloma marriages had gone out of practice before this period. Owing to the imposition of caste restrictions, the anuloma marriages too were gradually losing ground. Widow Remarriage and divorce had almost stopped and the sati custom was generally favoured. In the royal houses and in the richer sections of society some married more than one woman and polygamy was prevalent.
Marriage being the most important of all the samskaras and one of the sacred institutions of the Hindus, it has rightly been regarded as a very important event in one’s life. Married life has been highly praised in ancient Hindu scriptures. A man’s life was considered incomplete and unholy without a wife. According to Manu an un-married man is unfit to perform religious rites; the woman is visibly the cause in production of children, the nature of those born, and the daily life of men; heavenly bliss for the ancestors and oneself, offspring and religious rites depend on one’s wife alone. In this connection Al-Biruni writes that ‘no nation can exist without a regular married life. According to the epics marriage was a normal, natural and usual custom in every civilized society, leaving aside a lawless and unorganized society. Al-Biruni regards this institution as a biological necessity for maintaining sexual relationship in a civilized society. Indeed marriage was regarded as a social and biological necessity; it had been given a religious sanctity since the Vedic age. The epics attach the greatest importance to marriage as a prelude to a happy life. In ancient India marriage has been treated as a sacrament and not a mere relationship between the two parties. It was regarded as an ‘indissoluble bond uniting two souls’ so harmoniously that no one could think of one’s existence without the other. Thus the foundation of marriage is not only a social necessity, but it has also some religious importance. Indirectly Al-Biruni admits this fact when he writes that “every nation has particular customs of marriage and especially those who claim to have a religious law of divine origin”. There is no doubt that the marriage laws of ancient India were governed by religious codes, which could not be broken very easily in normal course. In this way the chief purposes of marriage according to the smrtis and Nibandhas are “Dharma-Sampatti, Praja and Rati.” For their achievement the Grhysutras lay much emphasis on married life and stress the importance of the Grhasthasrama, which is the centre of other three Asramas. Al-Biruni also testifies to this fact when he says that a Brahmana youth was allowed by his teacher to marry a girl and after marrying he established a family. Al-Biruni obviously refers to the second stage of life, i.e., the Grhasrama, which begins with marriage. Thus basically a religious institution, this institution found a very important place in Hindu life. It was attached with the Grhasthasrama, ‘the best of all the Asramas and the weightiest of all.
Muslim writers do not mention the forms of marriages. According to the Smrtis and digests there were the traditional eight forms in order of merit. Brahma, Daiva, Arsa and Prajapatya were regarded as commendable for the people of all castes, Gandharva and Raksasa were good for Ksatriyas alone, Asura and Paisaca were unanimously condemned. The ceremony to which Al-Biruni and the Chachnama refer, seems to correspond with the rules and regulations of the Brahma form of marriage. On that occasion the Brahmanas performed the rites of the sacrifices and they as well as others received alms and gifts. According to this form the young girl decorated with ornaments offered by her father was given to a man of equal caste of pure conduct and learning. However, the Brahma form was common and popular among all the forms of marriage. As no other types of marriage have been mentioned by Muslim writers, it seems that the popular form of marriage was the Brahma form.
Though the Brahma form was in vogue among the Ksatriyas, the Gandharva form, union between two lovers with their mutual consent but without their parents interference, still continued. They also practiced the Rakshasa form, in which the boy seized the bride forcibly. Sometimes the bride was a willing party to abduction. On rare occasions did the Svayamvara type of marriage also take place, in which the bride was free to choose her husband from amongst those suitors who were voluntarily invited to take part in an open assembly. No doubt this system of Svayamvara was restricted to the ruling families. There were very few references of this type of marriages. Probably they were going out of fashion.
Al-Biruni mentions that the birth of a girl was unpopular among the Hindus, and that the marriages were arranged by the parents. In the absence of parents the responsibility fell on the elder brothers or other members of the family. Chachnama informed that Chacha’s dughterbai was a grown-up girl and when Daharsiah, her elder brother, came to know that his sister had reached the age of maturity he became anxious to see her married. In the Harshacharita it is recorded that Prabhakaravardhana becomes anxious for the marriage of his daughter Rajyasri, who had reached the marriageable age. Failure to perform this duty was considered a disgrace and amounted to a great sin of Brahmahatya. It is a discussing point about the age of the marriage of girls.
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