This is indeed a gloomy pen-picture of the society.
There was, however, a silver lining because the intellectual revolt had
already started by the Upanisadic Rsis, who had begun to interpret Vedas
with a philosophical gloss. People had started challenging the corrupt
modes. There were intellectual debates and the thinkers had started
evolving different theories to explain the universal scheme. Forests were
full of recluses, who remaining detached from society, performed severe
religious penances which many a times verged on acrobatics, Schools of
Carvakas and Ajivakas were challenging the very idea of Godhood and
after-life. Thinkers like Parsva, Aruni, Yajnavalkya, Kapila, Janaka,
Badarayana and many others of Upanisadic schools, who had preceded
Mahavira and Buddha had already initiated a new type of thinking amongst
the intellectuals and what was needed was to carry this process to the
masses by those who could work for the masses, could speak their language,
could bring them to the status of equality and could make them free from
the social and economical grip of the aristocracy and priestly order.