In this book the author traces the inter - relationship between society and religion from the Rugvedic times to the Puranic period, as seen from the religious texts - the Vedas, the Brahmana granthas, the Dharmasutras, the Upanishads, Arthashastra, Manusmriti and the Puranas. It also attempts to examine texts of Buddhism and Jainism and their impact on society.
The study traces the development of the Indian society from the tribal to the territorial stage, and its final culmination into a feudalistic order. The original religious texts have been examined for evidence of the emergence and development of state through tribal chieftainship, baronism, monarchy and feudalism. Reflection of these changes have been traced in the contemporary religious texts, revealing the inter-relationship between socio-economic changes and religious precepts, morals and taboos.
The study also shows how religious ideas following from social realities, once crystallized in the scriptures, become instruments of persuasion and coercion. Special attention has been paid in the work to the emergence and growth of the caste system, the position of women and sudras throughout the ages, the gavgada system wherein caste functions have been fossilized in self-sustaining village economy, and the replacement of the yajna sacrifice by idolatry and puja system of worship. Separate chapters on Upanishads, Buddhism and Jainism explain the material and philosophical conditions of their emergence, the impact they made on the social, economic and political life, and the changes that occurred in them after they acquired institutional form. Mutual acculturation and enrichment has been shown as the leitmotif throughout this period of history.
Jayant G. Gadkari (b.1933) is a lawyer by profession, specializing in Constitutional Law. Although he has had no formal instruction in the discipline of history he has made a deep study of Indian history. His recent Marathi book Samaj ani Dharma has been acclaimed as the best work on Indian history and sociology for its depth of analysis, social perspective, versatile approach and simplicity of presentation.
The book won, both Mahatma Phule award and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar award of the Maharashtra State. He has to his credit another book in Marathi entitled Shivaji: Lok Kalyankari Raja, which evaluates Shivaji’s progressive policies. Jayant Gadkari has translated D.D.Kosambi’s Culture and Civilization of Ancient India: An historical Outline into Marathi, which has been very well received. He has also translated into Marathi, Prof. R.S.Sharma’s book Shudras in Ancient India.