Published on August 31, 2020

A Complete Account of Vedic Age (1500-600 BC)


The Aryans, semi-nomadic pastoral people who originally inhabited the area around the Caspian Sea and South Russian Steppes in Central Asia entered in India around 2000 BCE in search of pastures through the passes in the Hindukush Mountains.

vedic_age

Theories Regarding the Original Homeland of Aryans

There are various theories regarding the origin of Aryans.

Theories Proposed by Remark
Arctic Region B.G. Tilak on his book “The Arctic Home in the Vedas”.
Central Asia Maxmuller termed Aryans as a race.
Europe Sir William Jones termed Aryans as language.
Scandinavia Prof. Penka
Tibet Dayananda Saraswati he is also known as Hindu Martin Luthar.
India Swami Vivekananda he was a patriot saint in India.

Vedic Age Literature

Vedic literature is India's oldest scriptures in Hinduism. These were written in the Sanskrit language.

Name Miscellaneous Information
Rigveda
(1028 hymns, 10580 verses)
1. compiled around 1500- 1000 BC.
2. it is divided into 10 columns called Mandals.
3. Mandal III contains the Gayatri Mantra (for Goddess Savitri).
4. Mandal X is only dedicated to Goddess Soma (Lord of Plants)
5. similar to the oldest Iranian text Avesta.
6. experts in Rigveda were called Hotra or Hotri.
Samaveda
(1549 verses)
1. known to be the beginning of Indian music.
2. consists of 1810 hymns.
3. experts in Samaveda were called Udgatri.
Yajurveda 1. consists of two parts, viz. Krishna Yajurveda and Shukla Yajurveda.
2. experts in Samaveda were called Adhvaryu.
3. It consists of sacrificial formulae.
Atharvaveda 1. contain magical hymns to get relief from diseases.
2. Indian medical science Ayurveda originated from it.
3. It consists of spells and charms.
The Brahmanas 1. Tandya Brahmana – oldest Brahmanas.
2. Shatapatha Brahmanas – most voluminous Brahmanas.
3. It consists of meninges ofvedic hymns and their applications etc.
The Aranyakas Aranyakas are the bridge among Vedas , Brahmanas and Upanishads. It is about forest.
The Upanishads 1. last part of Vedic literature also know as Vedanta.
2. the mening of Upanishads is ‘ to sit near the feel of’.
3. the word satyameva jayate in the National Emblem is taken from Mundaka Upanishad.
3. There is a total of 108 Upanishad.
4. It is about metaphysics and philosophy.
Vedangas/ Sutra literature 1. compiled after 600 BC.
2. Six Vedangas are
– Shiksha (Phonetics or science of pronunciation),
– Kalpa (Ritual or Ceremony),
– Vyakarana (Grammar),
– Nirukta (Etymology),
– Chhanda (Metrics, rules of poetic composition),
– Jyotisha (Astronomy).
The Ramayana
(24000 shlokas)
1. also known as Adi Kavya.
2. writted by Valmiki.
The Mahabharata
(1,00,000 shlokas)
1. longest epic of the world.
2. written by Ved Vyasa.
Purana Matsya Purana is the oldest Puranic text. There is a total of 18 Puranas.

Rigvedic or Early Vedic Period (1500-1000 BC)

Geographical Area

The early Rigvedic people lived in Sapta Sindhu or land of seven rivers region of Punjab. The name of the seven rivers are Vitasta(Jheum), Asikani ( Chenab), Vipas (Beas), Parushni (Ravi),Sutuadri (Sutlej), Saraswati (Sarsuti).

Political System

  • The political and social system was a tribal monarchy.
  • Kula or family was the smallest unit of the system then Grama or the village, Vis (the clan), Jana (the people) and lastly Rashtra(the country) appear in ascending order.
  • There were many kind s of assemblies. The assembly of elders was called Sabha. Samiti was the assembly of common people. Sabha and Samiti were two most popular assembly in that time otherwise there were Vidath, Gana etc assemblies.

Social Life

  • The society was a Patriachal society.
  • Varna system was present.
  • Caste system and child marriage were unknown.

Religion

  • They worshipped forces of nature.
  • Chief Aryan deities were Varuna, Indra,Agni.

Economy

  • Presence of predominantly pastoral economy (cow).
  • Agriculture was a secondary occupation.
  • Taxation was not developed yet although. Although there was ‘Bali which was a voluntary contribution to the king.
  • Penis or non- Aryans formed a great trading class.

Miscellaneous Information

  • Samiti was the popular assembly where women could also participate.
  • In Atharva Veda Sabha and Samiti were described as twin daughter of Prajapati.
  • The most powerful tribe was Varat and two famous kings of Varat tribe was Divo Dasa and Sudasa.
  • Other powerful tribes named – Anu, Puru, Druhyu, Yadu, Turves.
  • Battle of ten kings -fought between Varat tribe and the confederation of 10 kings, mentioned in 7th Mandol of Rigveda beside river Parushini.
  • Woman Scholars- Ghost, Apala, Vishwa Bara.

Later Vedic Period (1000- 600 BC)

The most important source of the later Vedic period is Satapath Brahmana. Here the detailed account of Aryan migration was covered. Archaeological evidence of this period was found in Hastinapur(Delhi) and Ataranji khera.

Geographical Area

The later Vedic Period people virtually occupied the whole North India , from river Saraswati to Ganges in Uttar Pradesh.

Political System

  • king became more powerful with the formation of a bigger kingdom.
  • Popular assembly lost power and importance.

Social System

  • Origin of the caste system.
  • The upper three varnas were entitled to Upanayana or investiture with the sacred thread but Sudras were deprived of it.

Religion

  • New Gods Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva etc came into performance.
  • Indra, Varuna lost prominence.

Economy

  • Pastoral was no longer the main substance activity of people through cattle rearing were also practice.
  • Satamana and Krishnala, besides Nishkas came to be used as unit of value.
  • Bali, Bhaga and Shulka were the mail taxes.

Powerful States of later Vedic Period

  1. Kuru Tribe or Kingdom: This tribe was formed by the union of two tribes Varat and Kuru. One of the famous kings of the Kuru tribe is Janmejaya (performed Asvamedha).
  2. Panchal Kingdom: This tribe was formed by the union of three tribes named Anu, Druhyu and Turvas. One of the famous kings of Panchal is Pravahana Jaivali. He is also known as philosopher-king.
  3. Videha kingdom: One of the famous kings was Janak (also know as philosopher-king). famous sage Yagyavalka was present in his court.

Some Royal Officials of later Vedic Period

Name Work
Bhagadugha Tax collector
Samgrahitri Treasurer
Suta Charioteer
Akshavapa Accountant

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