A House is the basic social group of many nations. Most middle and higher caste jánah belong to a House. Each is ruled by an aryah who gives the House its name — for instance, the House of Sámtra is ruled by Aryah Samtra. Houses provide for the needs of all their members, as well as giving them a certain prestige. Each House owns at least one estate with lands and peasants that tend those lands.
A Line is made up of several Houses that swear fealty to a great aryah, who is usually a direct descendant of the founder of the Line. Though Houses do not have to be bound to any particular Line, the protection this provides usually outweighs any advantages gained by being independent. Houses can be related to the Line by marriage or blood, but this is not always the case. A House that did a great favor for a Line may be accepted by that Line; a House can also be expelled for dishonorable acts.
An Isvarate is ruled by an Isvar, who almost always comes from one of the most powerful Lines and Houses. Isvars do not rule through divine right; rather they are put on the throne through a combination of power, prestige, and political manipulation. A Line which has had one of its members on the throne is considered a Royal Line, and other Houses and Lines may try to ally themselves to that Line through marriage so that they may be accorded the same status. Political intrigue is rife in the manueverings of Houses and Lines.