Medieval Bhutanese society
Though the Bhutanese society under the theocracy established by Ngwang Namgyel can generally be described as feudalistic, it was neither hereditary nor oppressive in the medieval Europe sense & was characterized by an absence of strong social stratification.
Broadly, there may be said to have been three classes-the monastic community, who were, in fact, the nobility of the country; the lay civil servants, brought up in the Dzong & places, who supervised public services of labor such as ascertaining that necessary provision were duly supplied by the common people by way of tax, & the farmers, lived in self-sufficient village units, & provided the core of almost all the classes of people a phenomenon which, to a great extent, eliminated class distinctions. In the words of George Bogle of the Bengal Civil Service, whom did the East India Company dispatch on a mission to Bhutan & Tibet in 1774, “Among a people where there is no pre-eminence of birth, there cannot well be much pride. The Bhutanese seems to have none of it, & live among there servants on the most familiar footing. “In time of war, all sections of the population took up arms against the enemy.
Besides the three main classes, there was a community of serfs, who were generally prisoners of war from the Duar plains to the south of their descendants. They were free to marry & own houses (though not l&), & were provided with food, clothing & shelter by there state.
The medieval Bhutanese social structure included elements of democratic socialism, whereby all officials starting from the village headman, or Gup, at the bottom rung of leader to the Desi at the top were chosen through elective processes, & the prevalence of a barter economy dovetailed with the strictures of religion to lend society a high moral tone, all vices associated with the lust for money being practically unknown. George Bogle Observed, “The More I see of the Bhutanese, the moral I am pleased with them. The common people are good-humored, downright & I think thoroughly trusty.