Vedic Period and the Aryans
The Literature of Vedic was Composed During the Time of the Aryans
Aryans were those people who had lived five thousand years ago in the plains of rivers Sindhu and Saraswati. They called the place Sapta Sindhavah’ (the land of seven Rivers) Saraswati was a full -flowing river. Rigveda mentions river Saraswati as a large river in many contexts.
Rajan was the name given to the leader of the clan of Aryas. The raja was the leader of smaller groups. They were not dictated. Kingship was inherited. There were two houses of representatives -Sabha and Samiti. They determined administrative policies. King was a judge too, but would consult the elders before him pronouncing judgement. Kings -duties included: fighting wars, protecting life and property of the people, safeguarding the cows and people’s welfare.
The literature of Vedic was composed during the time of the Aryans. For understanding the Vedic history times, the Vedas alone are our sources. The early part of the Vedic Age is called the Early Vedic Age (Rigvedaic Age). The latter period is called the Later Vedic Age.
The Vedas are being orally transmitted from the fathers/ Gurus to the disciples for early 3000 years. Normally not much has changed in their vocabulary in spite of their being not written or printed. Such a unique oral tradition is seen only in the Vedas in the world. The principal parts of the Vedas are Samhitas. Brahmans, Aranyaskas and Upanishads.
The Vedic Literature: The word Veda’ means knowledge’. The Vedas are four Rigveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The Rigveda is the oldest. The Vedas are the oldest available religious texts in the world. Maharshi Vedavyasaedited them. The language of the Vedas is Sanskrit. The Vedas are the ancient works of the Hindus.
Early Vedic Age
Aryans worshiped gods like Indra, Surya, Soma Varuna, Mitra, Yama, Aswini, etc. They worshiped in the form of a simple ritual called `Yajna’. Again (god of fire) occupied a place of honor. Aryans offered oblation to their gods through Agni (fire).
The truth is one and sages explain it in many ways. Let noble thoughts come to us from every side. These are some noble messages of the Vedas.
Varieties of corn were grown. Their food consisted of barley, rice, fish and meat. They knew the use of metals like iron and others. Weavers of cotton and wool, carpenters, blacksmiths and potmakers were in the society. Sheep -rearing was practiced. Among professions, medical practice and the priesthood were held in high respect. Any one could practice any profession. There was no bar.
Family was the Basic Unit of the Society During the Early Vedic Age
Family was the basic unit of the society during the Early Vedic Age. The father was the head of the family. Guests were treated with respect.
Marriage was a sacrament. Marriages were also held with Agni (god) as a witness. When we consider the presence of sacrificial fire -pits at Sindhu city sites, a close relationship of Sindhu Civilization with Vedic civilization becomes clear.
Aryans loved music. They could play musical instruction like the flute. Samagana has its origin among the Aryans. The game of dice was popular with the Aryans. Chariot racing was one of their passions. Aryans were familiar with drinks like Sura and Soma.
Status of women
Women were given a very high place in society. The wife participated in all religious rites that the husband performed. The girls also had the initiative to Vedic rites ((Brahmopadesha) and eligibility to study the Vedas. Ghosha, Apala, Viswavara and other women composed the Vedic mantras. Such women were called `Brahmavadinis’. Some women were Upadhyayinis (lady teachers). Child marriage or Sahagamana (following the husband even in death) was not practiced.
Animal Husbandry and Agriculture were the Chief Occupations
Importance of Animal
Animal husbandry and agriculture were the chief occupations.
The Aryas considered cattle as the most precious wealth. Victors in a war would normally confiscate cattle as one of the resources of the enemy. The richness of a person would be estimated on the basis of the number of cows that the person had. Cows were called to Dhana’. They believed strongly that the cows should not be killed. The next animal in importance of the cow was the horse which was used to draw chariots.
Later Vedic Aage
Kings of the Later Vedic Age Wished to Expand the Kingdoms
Later Vedic Age
As time passed, population in Saptha Sindhu area began to increase. Changes took place in the life of the people. They migrated to the planes of the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers, crossed the Vindhya mountains and went southwards.
Changes in Political Life
Kings of the later Vedic Age wished to expand the kingdoms. They assumed the titles `Samrat’, `Chakravarti’, and so on. They built vast empires and conducted great sacrifices like Rajasuya, Ashavamedha and Vajapeya.
Society was Divided on the Bases of Occupations into four Varnas
Society was divided on the bases of occupations into four Varnas. Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. This is called Varana system. The Varna system tended towards rigidity during this Age.
Under the Ashrama system an individual’s life was divided into four stages or Ashramas. These stages are: Student life (Brahmacharya), married life (Grihastha), giving up responsibilities and leading detachment (Sanyasa). This arrangement was meant to make man’s life as smooth flowing.
Status of Women
The status of women began to decline. Parents did not welcome the birth of a girl- child. Brahmpoadesha for women gradually disappeared. Gargi and Maithreyi were the great Brahmavadinis of the Age.
The Religions Duties of Householders Multiplied
The religions duties of householders multiplied. 16 Samskaras (religious rites) like naming, marriage, funeral, etc., were evolved. Some are still in practice.
The Upanishads are famous as Vedanta (last part of the Vedanta). Vedanta is India’s greatest gift to the wisdom of the world. The Bhagavad-Gita is the essence of the Upanishads. Gita is the ancient book of the Hindus.
Epic: A long poem narrating adventure of a historic/ mythological hero.
There are two epics in India, which are fountainhead of Indian culture and wisdom-
A) The Ramayana, written by Valmiki and
B) The Mahabharata, written by Vyasa Maharshi. The Mahabharata is the most voluminous epic in the world. The values upheld by these Epics are still guiding Indian people and their ethos, literature, poetry, dance and music.
Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on December 18, 2016:
I agree with you...there's a lot to be explored
Madugundu Krishna (author) from Bengaluru on December 18, 2016:
Born to Die, between called life. Accounts, agricultural and cattle Science, Maths Astronomy and Gods, the life of the people and birth to funeral journey, and How and who go to the heaven or hell wrote in the Vedas.
Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on December 18, 2016:
I think vedas did contain a lot of knowledge. I guess I will have to relearn sanskrit.l :)