Historical story

Chapter – 26 – Family Life in India (A)

O family bride, you stay here in this house, do not be separated, enjoy the whole life in your house while playing and rejoicing with sons and grandsons.


The history of Indian social organization is more than five thousand years old. When most of the countries of the world were in the heyday of civilization, then Indian society had taken a systematic form. The institutions created by the Arya Rishis for the organization of Indian society, 'family' or 'family' was the oldest among them. The organized form of the family is visible in the Rigveda, the oldest text of the Aryans.

The family was the basis of all the institutions and traditions like Vedic Yagya-ritual, Shodash Sanskar, Rajanya system, Varna system, Ashram system, marriage, sexual relations, clan, gotra and lineage tradition etc. The smallest unit of society in Western cultures 'individual' But in Indian culture 'family' was considered as the smallest unit of the society.

In Indian society, it is difficult for a person without a family to live comfortably. It can also be said in this way that Indian society is made up of families and not individuals.

A small change in the composition of the family can make a big change in the social structure. The structure of Indian families is different from the ones prevalent in Western civilizations. Meaning of family in India 'Joint Family' is from. 'Family' Universal institution of all civilizations but 'joint family' The institution of this is found only in India.

Joint family is a rare organization in the individualistic society of the West. Family Basis 'ensured sex-relationship' Which is elaborate from giving birth to children, their upbringing, employment arrangements and proper care of old and sick members of the family.

Due to the emotional bond between the members of the family, ideas like mutual cooperation, responsibility of householder-dharma and duty are formed.

Definition of family

Various sociologists have given different definitions of family. According to eminent scholars MacIver and Page- 'Family is a group defined by sufficiently definite sex-relationships that provide for the reproduction and upbringing of children.'

According to this definition, the family is a biological community dependent on sexual relations, whose main duty is to produce and raise children, but the family is much more than these characteristics.

According to Burgess and Locke- 'Family is a process as an institution, which is integrated into the structure of society. A family is a group of individuals united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption. It consists of the creation of a small household in which husband and wife, sons and daughters and brothers and sisters interact with each other and create and maintain a common culture.'

According to the Western sociologist Davis- 'Family is a group of persons whose relations with each other are based on kinship and thus are related by blood.'

Dr. R. C. Mazumdar has written- 'Family is a group of persons who live under one roof, who are related by blood related threads and are equal on the basis of place, interest and mutual gratitude. have a sense of.'

According to the famous scholar Keller- 'It is a class of human beings, who try to make a living and keep the human race stable on the basis of co-operation.'

Based on the above discussion, it can be said that 'family' The mainstay of 'marriage' and extends from the production of children through sexual relations to its upbringing, maintenance and service-sushush. The family consists of husband and wife, their children and brothers and sisters, who have a separate lineage-tradition. Family is the small form of society and society is the vast form of family. Since the family is the basic unit of society, the history of human society begins with the family itself. The birth of other institutions and societies has been possible only with the help of family.

Family Origin

Many opinions and views have also been expressed in relation to when and how the family originated. Some sociologists are of the view that at the beginning of human civilization 'patriarchal' The family may have originated while some other scholars believe that the first 'matriarchal' Families must have developed because in the early period the idea of ​​a certainty of sexual relations, that is, an institution like marriage, could not have flourished.

'Matriarchal family' after humans started agriculture in India The importance of dwindling and 'patriarchal family' The practice started getting stronger. The joint-family system was prevalent even in the Rigvedic period and the later Vedic period. The elder of the family was the head of the family and all the members of the family followed his orders. Families were united even in the Buddhist period. There are mentions of such families in many Jataka tales which used to run with the support and help of their members.

Single or separate family

The disintegration of the joint-family begins to be felt in the later Vedic period, but mainly the joint-family tradition remained prevalent among the Aryans. Smritikars have also described joint families, but in this era 'single or separate family' Support had also begun. According to Manu, the division of the family is according to religion, but the property should be divided only after the death of the father.

Patriarchal Aryan-Family

The Indian Aryans had a patrilineal family system and the non-Aryan civilizations of India had a matrilineal family system. The Aryan family consisted of husband and wife, sons and grandsons, great-grandsons, sons and brides, grandson brides, great-grandson brides, unmarried daughters, unmarried sisters, unmarried granddaughters, unmarried great-granddaughters, etc. All these people lived in the same place and often in the same building.

They used to have food together and worshiped the same religion and presiding deity. The elder man of the family was the head of the family. The head of the family disciplined the conduct of all the members of the family and catered to their various needs. The head of the family represented his family in the society.

All the members of the family lived under the discipline of the chief and worked under his guidance. There has been no significant change in the rights of the head of the Indian family from the Vedic age till today.

Matriarchal Non-Aryan-Family

The non-Aryan civilizations of India had mainly matrilineal family system. On the basis of the remains of the Indus civilization, scholars estimate that there must have been a matriarchal family system among the Indus people. Even today matrilineal families are found only in the Nayyar, Kadar, Irula, Pulyan etc. castes of South India and in the Goro and Khasi castes of Assam. Barring the above exceptions, patriarchal families exist in the rest of India.

Salient Features of Indian Family

Indian family is a dynamic institution. Its form has been changing from time to time. Nevertheless, the basis of the organization of the Indian family is solid and its basic features can be seen even today. Following are the basic characteristics of Indian family-

(1.) Marriage Ceremony: The biggest feature of the Indian family is the marriage ceremony. A family cannot be imagined in India without marriage. From time immemorial, the Aryans made the rules of marriage, in which with time the control of the varna system and later on the caste system became strict. Along with the clan, the rules related to gotra are also strictly applicable to traditional Indian families, in which it was mandatory to avoid grandfather's gotra as well as maternal grandfather's, maternal grandmother's and grandmother's.

(2.) Birth-Bandhan: Behind the strong formation of the Indian family was the notion of marriage-relations lasting for birth after birth or for seven births. Once married, the woman did not leave the family. It has been a common belief in Indian families that the woman comes to her in-laws' house sitting in a doli, after that only her meaning rises from that house because her relation with this family is not limited to this birth only, but is for seven births. P>

In a hymn of Rigveda, the priest blesses the bride on the occasion of marriage saying- 'You stay here in this house, don't get separated, enjoy the whole life while playing and enjoying with sons and grandsons in your house. Do it.'

(3.) Joint Family System: The joint family system was established in the Vedic period. This custom is the biggest feature of Indian society. In a joint family, parents and children as well as members of three to four generations lived in the same dwelling or residential complex. The purpose of this practice was to provide means and facilities for the all-round progress of all the members of the family and to provide support for social security.

(4.) Love and Harmony: The element of love and harmony is prominently found in the Indian family. In the family members of different ages live together and share each other's hand in happiness and sorrow. It has been prayed in the Vedic literature- 'Let the members of all the families keep warm and pure thoughts towards each other and love each other like a cow loves its calf. Son should behave sweetly and lovingly towards parents, wife towards husband, brother towards brother and sister towards sister. Let us speak sweetly with each other with unity and good deeds.'

Due to this feeling, after marriage, the son did not separate from his father's family, but lived in the family of his father or grandfather.

(5.) Love for daughters: After marriage, the daughter has to go to her in-laws' house, but Indian families do not forget the daughters after their marriage, but invite them with love and respect for various Teej-festivals and family celebrations. The daughter is given clothes, sweets and gifts while returning to her in-laws' house. Similarly, on family festivals and Teej-festivals, gifts etc. are sent to the daughter's in-laws' house.

(6.) Respect for Women: Giving respect to women is the main feature of the Indian family. In the Vedic texts, the need of a wife has been told for the happiness of the householder and for the attainment of children. It is said in the Rigveda that without a wife the household is not possible, the wife is the householder. Where women are not respected, all works are fruitless.

Sister-daughter and daughter-in-law of any family were considered as sister-daughter and daughter-in-law of the whole village, not only of their own family. This feeling also strengthened the institution of the family. In a hymn of Rigveda, the priest blesses the bride and says- 'You become the queen to rule over mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law.'

(7.) righteousness and devotion to duty: Righteousness and devotion to duty are one of the main characteristics of the Indian family. Traditionally, all the functions of the family are prescribed by the scriptural method. Duties of each member of the family towards the state, society, neighbor and family; Duty to parents and elders; Duty towards Guru, Brahmin, Sanyasi and daughters; Duty towards deceased persons i.e. ancestors; Duties are fixed towards cows and animals and birds, beggars, leprosy patients and hungry people.

These duties are mentioned in detail in various scriptures. Obeying the orders of elders in the family is also considered as righteousness and devotion to duty. In this way, Indian family is not only a system of providing material comforts, but Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the means of fulfilling the four Purushas.

(8.) Sixteen Sanskars: The Indian family is bound by sixteen types of rituals from before the birth of the child till after the death. For the householders, there is a detailed law of fasting and festivals for self-welfare. A detailed outline of the rituals and deeds required for a householder is given in many post-Vedic texts.

'Manu Smriti' and 'Yajnavalkya Smriti' A detailed description of the rituals and rituals has been given in it. All the members of the family have to live in the periphery of these sanskars and behave according to religion.

(9.) Hospitality: Hospitality in Indian Families 'courtesy' 'religion' is believed. The guest is treated like a deity. It is considered the duty of every householder to give respect to the guest and to provide him food and accommodation.

According to Manusmriti- 'The householder who does not protect the deity, guest, gratuity, parents, is lifeless even when he breathes.' If ever any enemy or adversary also comes home as a guest, all the members of the family give him respect. That is why in Indian society 'Ghar came, mother-jaya equal' There are sayings like (guest is like a sibling).

(10.) A Marriage Model: यद्यपि भारत में बहु-विवाही परिवारों का अस्तित्त्व रहा है तथापि सामान्यतः एक-विवाही परिवार ही आदर्श माना जाता है जिसका आशय एक पुरुष एक ही स्त्री से और एक स्त्री एक ही पुरुष से विवाह करती है।

पश्चिमी समाजशास्त्री मेलिनोवस्की ने लिखा है- ‘एक-विवाह ही विवाह का सच्चा स्वरूप था, है और रहेगा।’ विवाह के सम्बन्ध में प्रचलित यह मान्यता परिवार के सदस्यों में अन्य सभी सम्बन्धों के प्रति सहयोग एवं उत्तरदायित्व की भावना को जन्म देती है।

इस प्रकार भारतीय परिवार परम्परागत रूप से प्रेम तथा सौहार्द्र पर आधारित होता था जिसमें एक दूसरे के लिए उत्सर्ग करने की भावना प्रमुख थी।

पारिवारिक सम्पत्ति एवं उत्तराधिकार

भारतीय आर्य-परिवारों में सम्पत्ति के अधिकार एवं विभाजन के सम्बन्ध में कुछ निश्चित नियम थे जिनका निर्वहन पीढ़ी दर पीढ़ी स्वतः होता था।

परिवार के मुखिया के अधिकार

परिवार की सम्पत्ति का स्वामी घर का मुखिया अर्थात् दादा या पिता होता था और सामान्यतः दादा या पिता की मृत्यु के बाद ही उसके पुत्र-पौत्रों में सम्पत्ति का बँटवारा होता था। मनुस्मृति में पुत्र, स्त्री और दास की सम्पत्ति का स्वामी परिवार के मुखिया को माना गया है। विद्वान पिता अपने पुत्रों की शिक्षा स्वयं करता था, इसलिए उस युग मे पिता को पोषक एवं शिक्षक दोनों माना जाता था।

पुत्र पर पिता का अधिकार अबाध होता था। पुत्र का वह जैसा चाहता था, उपयोग करता था। वह उसे बेच सकता था, दान कर सकता था और दण्डित कर सकता था। ऋग्वेद में आए एक उल्लेख के अनुसार ऋज्राश्व नामक एक पुत्र ने एक भेड़िये को 100 भेड़ें खिला दीं। इस अपराध के लिए ऋज्राश्व के पिता ने ऋज्राश्व की आंखें निकाल लीं। नचिकेता अपने पिता वाजश्रवा द्वारा यमराज को दान कर दिया गया।

परिवार में माता का स्थान

परिवार में माता को उच्च एवं प्रतिष्ठित स्थान प्राप्त था। वेदों में माता का अभिनन्दन किया गया है। भगवान् के पूजन में भगवान को पिता के साथ-साथ माता भी कहा गया है। जब ब्रह्मचारी शिक्षा समाप्त करता था तब आचार्य उसे शिक्षा देता था कि वह देवता की तरह माता का सम्मान करे। रामायण में कौशल्या तथा महाभारत में कुंती एवं गांधारी के रूप में उस काल की माताओं की गरिमा का अनुमान किया जा सकता है।

महाभारत में कहा गया है कि आचार्य दस श्रोत्रियों से बढ़कर है, पिता दस उपाध्यायों से बढ़कर है और माता की महत्ता दस पिताओं से भी अधिक है। वह अकेली ही अपने गौरव द्वारा सारी पृथ्वी को तिरस्कृत कर देती है। अतः माता के समान दूसरा गुरु नहीं है।

वसिष्ठ धर्मसूत्र के अनुसार- ‘दस उपाध्यायों से अधिक गौरव आचार्य का है, सौ आचार्यों से अधिक पिता का और एक हजार पिताओं से अधिक माता का।’

गौतम-धर्मसूत्र में माता को श्रेष्ठ-गुरु कहा गया है। अतः माता का भरण-पोषण करना पुत्र का परम कर्त्तव्य माना गया। कुछ स्मृतियों में माता को पिता से भी अधिक उच्च स्थान दिया गया है और वह पिता से एक सहस्र गुना श्रद्धेय बताई गयी है किन्तु व्यावहारिक रूप से मुखिया के बाद उसकी पत्नी का स्थान होता था।

सामूहिक सम्पत्ति

परिवार की सम्पत्ति, किसी भी सदस्य की व्यक्तिगत सम्पत्ति नहीं मानी जाती थी अपितु परिवार के समस्त सदस्यों की सामूहिक सम्पत्ति मानी जाती थी। उत्तरवैदिक-काल में सम्पत्ति के अन्तर्गत पशु, भूमि एवं आभूषणों को सम्मिलित किया जाता था।


स्त्री को विवाह के समय दहेज या उपहार के रूप में प्राप्त धन, उस स्त्री की व्यक्तिगत सम्पत्ति होता था और उसे ‘स्त्री-धन’ कहा जाता था। सैद्धांतिक रूप से वह स्त्री इस धन का स्वतंत्रता पूर्वक उपयोग कर सकती थी किंतु व्यावहारिक रूप में वह धन भी पूरे परिवार के ही काम आता था।

परिवार की सम्पत्ति का बँटवारा

याज्ञवल्क्य स्मृति (ई.100 से ई.300 के बीच रचित) की टीका मिताक्षरा (ग्यारहवीं शताब्दी ईस्वी) की मान्यता है कि पिता के जीवित रहते हुए भी पुत्र सम्पत्ति का बँटवारा करा सकते हैं क्योंकि उनका पारिवारिक सम्पत्ति में अधिकार होता है।

यदि पिता के जीवित रहते सम्पत्ति का बँटवारा होता था, तब समस्त पुत्रों को सम्पत्ति में समान हिस्सा मिलता था किन्तु पिता की मृत्यु के बाद बँटवारा होने पर ज्येष्ठ पुत्र को सम्पत्ति का बीसवाँ भाग अतिरिक्त अंश के रूप में मिलता था जिसे ‘ज्येष्ठांश’ Used to say ऐसी स्थिति में ज्येष्ठ पुत्र को छोटे भाइयों के प्रति परिवार के सामूहिक कर्त्तव्यों का पालन करना होता था।

पैतृक सम्पत्ति पर बारह प्रकार के पुत्रों का अधिकार

भारतीय-शास्त्र उत्तराधिकारी के सम्बन्ध में बारह प्रकार के पुत्रों तथा सम्पत्ति पर उनके दावों का उल्लेख करते हैं। इन बारह प्रकार के पुत्रों में दत्तक पुत्र भी शामिल है। विवाहित पत्नी से उत्पन्न वयस्क पुत्र स्वाभाविक उत्तराधिकारी होते थे। चौथी पीढ़ी तक के रक्त-सम्बन्धी उत्तराधिकारी माने जाते थे।

परिवार की सम्पत्ति पर स्त्री एवं पुत्री का अधिकार

सामान्यतः स्त्री को उत्तराधिकार का अधिकार प्राप्त नहीं था किन्तु याज्ञवल्क्य स्मृति तथा उसके टीकाकार विज्ञानेश्वर ने उत्तराधिकारियों की सूची में पुत्र के बाद स्त्री और कन्या का भी उल्लेख किया है। पिता की मृत्यु के बाद अविवाहित कन्या अपने भाइयों की तरह सम्पत्ति में समान हिस्सा प्राप्त कर सकती थी।

पिता के पुत्रहीन होने पर वह अपनी पुत्री को अपना उत्तराधिकारी नियुक्त कर सकता था। मनुस्मृति के अनुसार इस प्रकार की पुत्री के पुत्र को अपने नाना की सम्पत्ति में अधिकार प्राप्त है किन्तु यदि अविवाहित कन्या जीवित है तो पुत्री के पुत्र को अपने नाना की सम्पत्ति में अधिकार प्राप्त नहीं होगा।