Contemporary records signify certain majestic women were involved in administrative and martial affairs such as princess Akkadevi, (sister of King Jayasimha II) who fought and defeated rebellious feudals. Inscriptions emphasise public acceptance of widowhood indicating that Sati (a custom in which a dead man's widow used to immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre) though present was on a voluntary basis. Ritual deaths to attain salvation were seen among the Jains who preferred to fast to death (Sallekhana), while people of some other communities chose to jump on spikes (Shoolabrahma) or walking into fire on an eclipse.
In a Hindu caste system that was conspicuously present, These Brahmins were normally involved in careers that revolved around religion and learning with the exception of a few who achieved success in martial affairs. They were patronised by kings, nobles and wealthy aristocrats who persuaded learned Brahmins to settle in specific towns and villages by making them grants of land and houses. The relocation of Brahmin scholars was calculated to be in the interest of the kingdom as they were viewed as persons detached from wealth and power and their knowledge was a functional instrument in order to edify and tutor moral conduct and discipline in local communities. Brahmins were also actively involved in solving local problems by functioning as neutral arbiters (Panchayat).
Regarding eating habits, Brahmins, Jains, Buddhists and Shaivas were strictly vegetarian while the partaking of different kinds of meat was popular among other communities. Marketplace vendors sold meat from domesticated animals such as goats, sheep, pigs and fowl as well as exotic meat including partridge, hare, wild fowl and boar. People found indoor amusement by attending wrestling matches (Kusti) or watching animals fight such as cockfights and ram fights or by gambling. Horse racing was a popular outdoors past time. In addition to these leisurely activities, festivals and fairs were frequent and entertainment by traveling troupes of acrobats, dancers, dramatists and musicians was often provided.
Schools and hospitals are mentioned in records and these were constructed in the vicinity of temples. Marketplaces served as al fresco town halls where people gathered to discuss and ponder local issues. Choirs, whose main function was to sing devotional hymns, were maintained at temple expense. Young men were trained to sing in choirs in schools attached to monasteries such as Hindu Matha, Jain Palli and Buddhist Vihara. These institutions provided advanced education in religion and ethics and were well equipped with libraries (Saraswati Bhandara). Learning was imparted in the local language and in Sanskrit. Schools of higher learning were called Brahmapuri (or Ghatika or Agrahara). Teaching Sanskrit was a near monopoly of Brahmins who received royal endowments for their cause. Inscriptions record that the number of subjects taught varied from four to eighteen.
The four most popular subjects with royal students were Economics (Vartta), Political Science (Dandaniti), Veda (trayi) and Philosophy (Anvikshiki), subjects that are mentioned as early as Kautilyas Arthasastra. Additional subjects (Vidya) were the four Vedas, and six auxiliary subjects (Angas) namely Phonetics, Prosody, Grammar, Etymology, Astronomy and Ritual (Purana), Logic (Tarka), Exegesis (Mimamsa) and Law (Dharmasastra). To this were added Medicine (Ayurveda), Archery (Dhanurveda), Music (Gandharvaveda) and Politics (Arthasastra) to complete what seems to be a comprehensive list of subjects. Well known centers of learning (from a present day geographical perspective) were at Bagevadi, Kadalevad and Manigavalli in Bijapur district, Nargund and Hottur in Dharwad district, Balligavi in Shimoga district, and Nagayi in Gulbarga district.
(Last Updated on : 21-01-2009)
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