Activity Overview

Using a G.R.A.P.E.S. Chart to organize information about ancient Civilizations is a useful tool to enhance students' analysis of the characteristics and contributions of a society. Going further and including visuals helps students to better retain the details of each category. Ancient India developed a caste system that is still felt today. In this activity, students will create a social pyramid to illustrate the social structure/caste system of ancient India. They should include the different types of people and professions that fall under each section. Students can come together after they’ve created their storyboards to share what they’ve learned. The full G.R.A.P.E.S. Chart can be used as a post assessment after students have presented.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a Social Pyramid focusing on the different characteristics of the Social Structure or Caste System of ancient India.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Using the Pyramid template, use the “free form text” to write titles in each section of the pyramid.
  3. You may include a background image and pictures to represent the different categories. To find images related to ancient India, type “India” into the search bar.

Requirements: Label each level of the Social Pyramid of ancient India. Include appropriate scenes or characters to illustrate the cell. 2-3 sentence description to demonstrate your understanding.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/WHST/6-8/2/B] Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

How To Facilitate a Discussion on the Caste System in Ancient India


Explain the Caste System

Explain the terms "jati" (sub-castes) and "varna system" (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras). Describe caste as a system of social and vocational stratification. Discuss with students the origin of this caste system and the roles and responsibilities of each caste.


Analyze the Role of Religion

Discuss how religion especially Hinduism played a major role in introducing this caste system. Explain to the students how religion had a major say in the lives of people at that time and what other beliefs were present in the civilization during that time.


Discuss Impact on Society

Discuss with students how the caste system had a major impact on society as well as individuals. Explain to students how people were destined to live life according to the castes they got by birth. Ask the students thought-provoking questions such as why the individuals adhere to this caste system and their thoughts and reviews on this social structure.


Discuss Relevance in Modern Day

Discuss the relevance of this caste system in modern day and society. Ask the students to research if this system is still followed by India today and how the change in beliefs and faiths impacted this social structure. Provide the students with some reading material that discusses the evolution of this system throughout time.


Conclude and Reflect

Summarize the conversation by highlighting the significance of appreciating and comprehending the many cultural pasts while striving for a society that is more equal and inclusive. Encourage the students to reflect on the experiences of different individuals who have been a part of this caste system and write a report on how social stratification can impact a society.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Social Structure of Ancient India

What were the duties and functions of every caste in ancient India?

Depending on their social standing, each varna was assigned particular obligations. For example, Brahmins were in charge of conducting religious rituals and offering spiritual advice, whilst Kshatriyas were in control of administration and military. According to the higher or lower level of each caste, their responsibilities were also differentiated.

What sort of impact did the caste system have on the everyday life of an individual and society?

Many facets of daily life, including one's profession, relationships with others, and even marriage, are influenced by the social structure. It had an impact on religious customs as well because every varna had distinct religious obligations.

What were the drawbacks and objections to the caste system in ancient India?

Many pointed out that the caste system encouraged prejudice, restricted opportunity, and maintained inequity. Its rigidity and lack of flexibility also drew criticism. Nowadays, though the caste system is not as prevalent as before it still exists in modern-day India.

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