The Aryans who succeeded the Indus Valley people introduced a new civilisation called the “Vedic Civilisation”. The history of Aryans is known largely through its religious texts “The Vedas”. Veda means knowledge and is seen as the best of all knowledge by the Hindus. The Vedas are said to have been passed from one generation to the next through verbal transmission and are therefore also known as “Shruti”.
Origin of the Aryans
There are many theories about the origin of the Aryans. The most accepted view is that they lived somewhere to the East of the Alps as believed by the scholars namely max Muller and Dr Thapar. According to Dayanand Saraswati, the origin of the Aryans is Tibet.
Settlement in India
After crossing the Hindukush the Aryans entered into India through North-Western passes. These early immigrants made the region of Sapta Sindhu their home. The main source of information about the Aryans is Rigveda. The Rigveda is the oldest religious text in the world it contains 1028 hymns and is divided into 10 Mandalas. The tenth mandala contains the four varnas i.e Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra.
The nadisukta hymns of the Rigveda mentions of 21 rivers which include Ganga in the East and Kubha on the west.
Rivers mentioned in the Rigveda:-
|Rigvedic Names||New names|
The Vedic age is divided into two parts 1) Rig Vedic Age, 2) Later Vedic Age. The life and civilisation that are described in the Rigveda are called Rig Vedic Civilisation.
Political Life Rig vedic Civilisation.
- The basis of the political and social organisation of the Rigvedic people was the patriarchal family.
- Several families together formed a Grama.
- The leader of the Grama is called Gramini.
- A group of grama formed Clan or Vis.
- The head of the Vis was called Vispati.
- Several Clans formed a Tribe or Jana.
- Each tribe was ruled by a King. he is called Rajan.
- The Sabha was the council of certain selected clan members.
- The samity was general tribal assembly and was less exclusive.
- Women too attended the sabha and samity.
- Grama and Sardha perform military functions.
- Aryans were divided into five tribes Purus, Anus, Drushyam, Yadus and Turvasus, they were called Panchajanya.
Social Life of Rig vedic Civilisation
- The society of the Rig Vedic age was patriarchal, the father being the head of the family.
- The Head of the family is called Grihapati.
- Naptri was the common term used for cousins, nephews, grandsons etc.
- The eldest male member of the family was called Kulapa.
- The Dasas and the dasyus, who were conquered by the Aryans, were treated as Slaves along with Shudras.
- The Pura-Shukta of the Rig Veda says that the Brahmana took rise from the mouth of Brahma, the Kshatriya from his arms, Vaisya from his Thighs and Shudra from his feet.
- Towards the end of the Rig Vedic age, the system of Chaturashrama or four stages of life developed.
- The Rog- Vedic Economy was essentially a pastoral economy.
- Cattle breeding was the main occupation.
- The importance of cattle, especially of the cow, can be understood by the fact that the wealthy persons were known as Gomat, the chief of the jana was known as Gopati and his daughter was called Duhitri.
- Agriculture was the secondly economic activity of the Rigvedic Aryans.
- The grains were collectively called Yava and Dhanya i.e barley.
- Pottery technique was similar to the Harappan civilisation.
- Barter system was in existence.
- There was an existence of the Voluntary tax called Bali.
- Alcoholic drinks Sura and Soma were consumed.
Religious Life of Rig vedic Civilisation
- People in the Vedic age were solely polytheist.
- Gods were regarded as the ruler of the period of life, protector of men and giver of happiness.
- The religion of Vedic Aryans was a form of nature worship.
- In the Rig Veda, the triple classification of the Vedic gods has been hinted i) Terrestrial(Prithvisthana), ii) Arial ( Madhyavasthana), iii) Celestial ( Dyusthana).
- The Gods were usually stated to be 33 in numbers.
- Among the Aerial or atmospheric Gods, Indra also known as Purandara and Shatakratu has the highest number of hymns about 250. His wife was Indrani or Sachi.
- In Rig, Veda Agni is addressed as Fire God and has the second number of hymns i.e 200.
- The third god of importance was Varuna. He was the god of water.
- The Rig Vedic Aryans were not the idol worshipers.
- Savitri, the stimulator or God of light was another God. The famous Gayatri mantra is addressed to her.
- Yama is conceived to be the “ Lord of the Dead“.
Later Vedic Age
The Span of the Later Vedic period is 1000 B.C to 600 B.C. This was the period when the later Samhitas, Samveda, Yajurveda & Atharvaveda were composed. This age is also known to age Painted Grey Ware Iron Phase.
- The Rajanyas of the Rigvedic age now became the Kshatriya.
- In the Later Vedic period society become differentiated on the basis of Varna.
- The Sabha become more important then Samity.
- Sabha is dominated by the Brahmanas and women were not allowed in it.
- The term Rashtra first appeared in this period.
- Bali and Bhaga became the regular tributes and taxes.
- Agriculture was the principal occupation.
- A class of hereditary merchants came into existence.
- There was commercial contact between India and Mesopotamia.
- The cow as a medium of exchange was being gradually replaced by coins.
- New metal like lead, tin and iron came into existence in this age.
- An iron plough has been found in Jakhera.
- The decline of the Mughal Age in India
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