After the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, a new phase came into existence. The newly migrated tribes called Aryans moved into the Indian subcontinent in 1500 B.C and started a new phase called the Vedic age.
The word ‘Veda’ is derived from the root ‘Ved’ signifying knowledge par excellence. The Vedic literature mainly consisted of the Vedas or the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
Vedic Age can be divided into:
1. Early vedic age (1500 B.C to 1000 B.C): Rig veda was composed during this period.
2. Later Vedic age (1000 B.C to 500 B.C): Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda were composed during this period. Also were the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
Early Vedic Age
|Society||1. Family was the fundamental unit of society.|
2. Joint family system with patriarchal set up.
3. The Varna system was prevalent. Inter-Varna marriage was allowed.
4. Inter-dining among the Varnas was not prohibited.
5. Marriage system was a sacrament and was not dissolvable.
6. Widow Remarriage was allowed. Dowry was prevalent and Bride-price was a practice.
7. Position of women was high and respectable. They had the right to attend religious assemblies.
8. Monogamy was the established pattern.
9. Practice of Niyoga or levirate.
10. Practice of prostitution was prevalent and Slavery (mainly women) was for domestic purpose.
|Economy||1. Their main mode of economy was agriculture, but most importantly it was livestock rearing.|
2. Their wealth and prosperity depended upon the possession of a large number of animals, especially cows.
3. A sort of coinage known as “Nishka” was also prevalent.
|Polity||1. Tribal political setup: Rig vedic Aryans lived in tribes called “JANAS”. |
2. Each Jana had its own ruler who was generally called “rajan” was elected by the people and thus not hereditary.
3. Political units in ascending order were Kula, Grama, Vis and Jana. Kula (Family) was the basic unit of society.
4. No system of Taxation existed and war booty constituted an important part of income.
5. There existed political assemblies- Sabha, Samiti, Gana, Vidatha.
|Religion||1. Mainly Worship of nature and nature gods. |
2. Though they worshipped many gods, they believed that God is One.
3. Indra (God of rain, thunder and war) and Varuna (Sky god) were chief deities.
4. Chanting of hymns was a characteristic feature. So is performance of sacrifices and daily prayers.
5. Aim of worship was for material gains- progeny, cattle longevity and victory in wars.
6. Sacrifice was the pivot of Aryan religion. (It incorporated use of formulae, performance of rituals, active role of priest by class and large scale slaughter of animals).
Names of rivers in Vedic times
|Vedic Rivers||Current Names|