EARLY VEDIC PERIOD

 

EARLY VEDIC PERIOD

Date:-1500 BC to 1000 BC

Period: Iron Age
Followed by: Brihadrathas dynasty, Haryanka dynasty, Mahajanapadas
Geographical range: South Asia
Preceded by: Indus Valley Civilisation

  1. It generally agreed that Aryans originally lived somewhere in steppes region stretching from southern Russia to central Russian.

  2.  The consensus is that originally they lived somewhere in the East of alps.

  3. On their way to india. Aryans first appeared in iran and little after 1500 BC,they appeared in india.

  4. Kassite inscription from about 1600 BC and mittani inscription from 1400 BC found in Iraq bear some Aryan names,which suggest that from Iraq the branch of Aryans move westwards.

  5. Rig veda has many things in common with Avesta-the oldest text in Iranian language.

  6. Rigveda is the earliest Specimen of any indo –European Language.

  7. According to Rig veda early Aryans first settled in the region called “Sapta-Sindhava” or the land of seven rivers encompassing the present day east Afganistan,Punjab and west UP.

  8. Early aryans were semi-nomadic and kept large herds of cattle.

  9. As they settle down in villages they also became cultivators,using ox to draw their ploughs.

  10. They were ruled by warriors,who depended upon priests to perform the rituals to protect their crops and cattle and insure victory in war.

  11. During later vedic phase,the Aryans moved from their early settlements to the Ganga-Yamuna Doab.

  12. The Ramayana has partly unfolded the tale of Aryan advent into the south.

RIG VEDIC POLITY

  1. The chief was the protector of tribes and jana

  2.  However,he did not possess unlimited powers as he had to reckon with the tribal assemblies

  3.  Sabha,Samiti,Vidhata and Gana were the tribal assemblies.of these,Vidhatas was the oldest.These assemblies excercised deliberative,military and religious functions.

  4. . There were a few non –monarchical states(ganas),whose head was ganapati or jyestha

RIG VEDIC SOCEITY

  1. Based on kinship,the early Aryan society was essentially tribal and egalitarian.

    2. People owned their primary loyalty to their tribe,which was called jana.

    3. The family was generally patriarchal and birth of son was desired.

    4. The family was large unit indicated by a common word for son,grandson,nephew and one word for paternal and maternal grandfather.

    5. Rashtra(Kingdom)had come into existence.

RIGVEDIC RELIGION

  1. Believed in one Supreme God 

  2. Did not believe in idol worship

  3.  Worshipped the forces of nature as the manifestation of one Supreme God

  4.  Vedic Gods have been classified into 3 categories – Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Celestial

  5.  Yama, Usha, aditi Soma Indra, Agni, Marut, Dyaus Varuna, Surya, Rudra, Vayu and Prajanaya. Prithvi, Saraswati, Usha, aditi were female deities. They were not given the same position as male Gods.

  6.  People did not worship for spiritual reasons but for the welfare of Praja & Pashu.

  7.  Recitation of prayers, chanting of Vedic hymns and sacrifices or yajnas were an important part of the worship.

RIGVEDIC GOD

Indra:- He was the most important divinity. Total 250 hymns are attributed to indra.He was the Aryans warlord and also controlled the weather.He has been called purandhar or destroyer of the forts.

Agni:- He was the second important divinity. He was intermediary between Gods and men

Varuna:- He was the upholder of Rita or cosmic order or natural order. He personified water.
Soma:- He was considered to be the God of plants. An intoxicant drink was also called soma.
Yama:- the first man to die ,who became the guardian of the word of the dead
Surya:-Surya is  Similar to the  Greek God Helios
Savitri:- The famous Gayatri mantra is addressed to Savitri
Pushan:- Lord of jungle path, main function was that of guarding of roads, herdsmen and cattle.
Vishnu:- A relatively minor God at that time.
Vayu:- Wind God
Dyaus:-Father of Heavan
Aditi:-Goddess of eternity
Maruts:- Storm Spirits
Gandharvas:- Divine Musicians
Ashvins:- Healers of diseases and experts in surgical art
Ribhus:- Gnomes
Apsaras:- Mistresses of Gods
Rudra:- An archer of God, whose anger brought disease
Vishvadeva:- Intermediate Deities
Aranyani:- Goddess of Forest
Usha:- Goddess of Dawn
Prithvi:- Goddess of Earth

POSITION OF WOMEN

  1. Women had attended Sabha and Vidhata in Rig Vedic times.

    2. Women held respectable position in society.They could attend tribal assemblies

    3. They took part in sacrifies alongwith their husbands.There are no example of child marriage.Age of marriage is 16-17 years

    4. We also get evidence of remarriage and practice of niyoga in which childless widow would co-habit with her brother in law until the bith of a son.

    5. Monogamy was the established practice.However,polygamy and polyandry were also known

Points to be remember

  1. Vedic Period came after the destruction of Indus valley civilization.

  2.  Aryans first settled in the west-north side of India ( Afghanistan, Punjab,Uttar Pradesh). Mainly in the land of of seven rivers.

  3. This period is also known as Rig Vedic period.

  4. Cattle was the chief measure of wealth and wealthy man was called “Gomat”

  5. The term Aghanya or not to be killed ,has been used for cows.

  6. The Raja or cheif is called “Gopati”.

  7. In Rigveda Godhuli is used as a term for measure of time.

  8. A part from yava and Barley ,no other grain is mentioned.

  9. Indra was the greatest god of Aryans ,Agni occupied the second position.

  10. Varuna occupied the third position and he personfied water.

  11. The Battle of Ten kings ended with victory of Bharatas led by sudas.

  12. Gayatri Mantra is attributed to savitri, Aditi was the Goddess of eternity.

  13. Widow marriage and Niyoga prevailed in the soceity.

  14. Important functionaries were Purohita,Senani and gramini.

  15. Important tribal assemblies were Sabha,Samiti,Vidhata and Gana.

  16. Sabha performed judicial and administrative functions.

  17. King attended sabha but not elected by it.

  18. Samiti is mentioned nine times in Rigveda

  19. Samiti is presided over by king

  20. King was elected in Samiti

  21. Gana is mentioned for 46 places in Rigveda.

  22. Leader of Gana was called as ganapati.

  23. Dasyus were the most bitter enemies of the Rigvedic people

  24. Indra was the most important god.

  25. Indra was known as purandar,vritrahan and Marutavant.

  26. Varuna was a punisher of sin.

  27. Agni was called as Bhuvan Chakshu.

  28. IX book is devote to soma.

  29. Gayatri Mantra is mentioned in  IIIrd Mandal of Rigveda.

  30. Asvins and Nasatyas were divine physicians.

  31. Yama was the lord of dead.

  32. Aditi is the mother of surya.

  33. Varuna bears the title Asura

  34. River indus was the most important river in the vedic period.

  35. River Saraswati was the most scarified river  in vedic period.

  36.  During this time there were no big kingdoms. People lived in the tribes or small kingdoms. Kulapati is the head of family, grammI is the head of village.

  37.  Women had a respectable place in the society. They had the right for education and to participate in religious ceremonies.

  38. At that time cattle were used as currency. Gold and silver were used to make jewellery. Agriculture and cattle rearing were the main profession at that time.

  39. During this time four fold caste system ( brahmin, kshatriyas, vaishyas, shudras ) was existed. Brahmins were prist, teachers. Kshatriyas were rulers,solders. Vaishyas were traders. Shudras were workers.