Gonds and Ahom Society

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Introduction to Gonds

The Gonds are among the largest tribal groups in India. The term Gond refers to tribal peoples who live all over India's Deccan Peninsula.They lived in a vast forested region called Gondwana or country inhabited by Gonds. Most describe themselves as Gonds (hill people) or as Koi or Koitur.

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Introduction to Ahoms

The Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar in the 13th century. They created a new state by suppressing the older political system of the bhuiyans (landlords).The Ahom dynasty ruled the Ahom kingdom in present-day Assam for nearly 600 years. The dynasty was established by Sukaphaa.

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Administrative system of Gond Kingdom

The administrative system of the Gond kingdom was centralised. The kingdom was divided into garhs. Each garh was controlled by a particular Gond clan. This was further divided into units of 84 villages called chaurasi. The chaurasi was subdivided into barhots. Each barhots were made up of 12 villages.

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Paiks

The Ahom state depended upon forced labour. Those forced to work for the state were called paiks. A census of the population was taken. Each village had to send a number of paiks by rotation.

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Changed nature of Gond society due to emergence of large states

The nature of the Gond society changed with the emergence of large states. It weakened the clan identity. There was a gradual division of Gond society into unequal social classes. Brahmanas became a dominant class in the society as they received land grants from the Gond rajas. The Gond rajas desired to be recognised as Rajputs. They began forming the marital relation with the Rajputs.

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Ahom Society

In Ahom society adult males served in the army during the war. They were engaged in building dams, irrigation systems, and other public works during peacetime. 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 communitys consent. Originally, the Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods. During the first half of the seventeenth century, however, the influence of Brahmanas increased. In the reign of Sib Singh (1714-1744), Hinduism became the predominant religion.

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Characteristics of the tribal societies

The main characteristics of the tribal societies are as follows:
  • Tribal societies are united by kinship bonds.
  • There is no hierarchy among men and groups in tribal societies.
  • Strong, complex, formal organisation is absent in tribal societies.
  • Tribal societies have communitarian basis of land holding.

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Changes in tribal societies overtime

A 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. There were many different tribes and they took up diverse livelihoods. Over a period of time, many of them merged with caste-based society. Others, however, rejected both the caste system and orthodox Hinduism. Some tribes established extensive states with well-organized systems of administration. They thus became politically powerful. This brought them into conflict with larger and more complex kingdoms and empires.