In those early days the Aryan tribes were divided into four social grades on a basis of colour: the Kshatriyas or nobles, who claimed descent from the early leaders; the Brahmans or sacrificing priests; the Vaisyas, the peasantry; and last of all the Sudras, the hewers of wood and drawers of water, of non-Aryan descent.
The village system is well described, each little rural unit seeming to be an independent republic. Megasthenes remarked the exemption of the husbandmen (Vaisyas) from war and public services, and enumerates the dyes, fibres, fabrics and products (animal, vegetable and mineral) of India.
The social organism of the Aryan tribe did not probably differ essentially from that of most communities at that primitive stage of civilization; whilst the body of the people - the Vis (or aggregate of Vaisyas) - would be mainly occupied with agricultural and pastoral pursuits, two professional classes - those of the warrior and the priest - had already made good their claim to social distinction.
Then come the castes whom popular opinion accepts as the modern representatives of the Kshatriyas; and these are followed by the mercantile groups supposed to be akin to the Vaisyas.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.