How do historians reconstruct the lives of ordinary people?

Ordinary people rarely left accounts of their thoughts and experiences. However historians have tried to solve this problem in the following ways:-

i) Examining stories contained in Anthologies such as the Jatakas and the Panchtantras. Many of these stories probably originated as popular oral taes that were later committed to writing. For example: one story known as the “Gandatindu Jataka” which indicates that the relationship between a king and his subjects could often be strained.

ii) Buddhist Tradition; Buddhist texts also mentions that there was differentiation amongst people engaged in agriculture. The large landholders called Gahapati as well as the village headman emerged as powerful figures and often exercised control over other cultivators.

iii) Sangam Texts which are the early Tamil texts also mentions different categories of people living in the village.

a) Vellalar- large landowners

b) Uzhavar – ploughman

c) Adimai – slaves

iv) Inscriptions of land grants provide an insight into the relationship between cultivators and the state.

There were other groups like hunters, gatherers, fish folks etc of which didn’t keep detailed account hence not much information is available about them.