Ancient India Simplified: Later Vedic Age (1000 B.C to 500 B.C)

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.

Later Vedic Age

The Aryans had now spread from Punjab to the internal parts of India. They were now spreading in every direction, colonising the east, south and north.
Society1. Beginning of the practice of Primogeniture (the elder son succeeding the father)
2. Increase in the position and status of two higher varnas- Brahmanas and kshatriyas.
3. Caste system became more rigid. 
4. Position of women changed for the worse. They lost the right to the Upanayana ceremony and they were not allowed to take part in Sabha, however they could attend the Samiti. They were regarded as a source of misery and could not own any property. 
5. Eight Forms of marriage came into Vogue. (Explained Below)
6. Gotra System (Tribal Exogamy) started.
7. Four Ashramas- Bhramacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasi.
Economy1. With the coming of Iron Plough and Rice transplantation technique, agriculture became surplus.
2. Reference to corporations (Gana) and edelman (Shresthins) indicate the guilds or organisation of merchants. 

3. Niska, Satmana, Krsnala were used as convenient units of value but were not coins. 
4. Many great cities like Kausambhi, Kasi, Ayodhya, Hastinapur and Indraprastha had sprung up.
Polity1. The Aryans established powerful kingdoms as Kuru, Panchala, Kosala, Magadha.
2. The king became more powerful and the post became hereditary. Also the king collected tax and maintained a territorial army. (+Elephants were used in the battle)
3. The Sabha and Samiti lost power. 
4. Growth of Royal power was through the performance of sacrifices (Rajasuya, Vajapeya and Aswamedha) to strengthen royal power.
5. Emergence of a class of Administrative functionaries: Bhagadugha (Revenue collector), Sangrahitri (Treasurer), Akshavapa (Superintendent of Gambling).
6. All the above reasons shifted Tribal Identity (“JANA”) to Territorial Identity (“MAHAJANAPADA”)
Religion1. Great gods of Rig veda period like Indra and Varuna receded and new gods like Vishnu, Shiva, Rama and Krishna had come into prominence.
2. Ceremonies and rituals become more complex. 
3. This period saw a rise in Snake-Worship.
4. People developed faith in Charms, Spells and Spirits.
Art1. Art took a backseat.
. Pottery: Painted Grey Ware (PGW). PGW culture was excavated for the first time at Atranjikhera in 1960. 

Various Royal Ceremonies

RajasuyaRoyal Consecration (accession to throne)
VajapeyaLiteral meaning drink of strength. Chariot Racing was an important feature.
AswamedhaLiteral meaning: Horse sacrifice. It was meant for proving imperial sovereignty.
AindramahabishekaProving the king supremacy over all other kings and making him “Ekrat” the sole ruler.

Eight Forms of Marriage

BrahmaMarriage of a duly dowried girl to a man of the same varna.
DaivaFather gives the daughter to the priest as part of his fee.
ArsaA token bride price of a cow and a bull is given as dowry.
PrajapatiMarriage without dowry and bride price.
GandharvaBy consent of two parties i.e. modern love marriage.
AsuraMarriage by purchase.
RakshasaMarriage by capture.
PaisachaSeduction of a girl while asleep or drunk.
Of these eight forms, Only first four were generally approved and permissible to the Brahmanas. 
Of the basis of Varna, marriage is further divided in two:
1. Anuloma Marriage: Marriage of a man in his own varna or below his varna. Sanctioned by the sacred texts.
2. Pratiloma Marriage: Marriage of a girl or women in lower than her own varna. Not sanctioned by the sacred texts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *