Vedic Civilisation Iron Age Civilisation

Vedic Civilisation

Vedic Civilisation Divided into two periods.

  1. Early Vedic Period (1500BC–1000BC) (Rig Veda)
  2. Later Vedic Period (1000BC–600BC)
    (Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda)

Why should call it the Vedic age?
The main features of Vedic culture are depicted in the literature called the Vedas.

Who were the Aryans?

• The authors of the Vedic hymns were the Aryans.
• In the 19th century, Aryans were considered a race.
• They are linguistic group of people who spoke Indo-European language from which later emerged Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek.
• The languages are similar in sound and meaning.
• The Sanskrit words matri and pitri are similar to the Latin mater and pater.

Origin of Vedic Aryans

• The Parsi collection of sacred books, known as the Zendavesta, we are told the entry of Aryans in India.
• Among the debate of many historians the most appropriate theory is given by the Max Muller that Aryans were migrated to India from Central Asia.
• Originally the Aryans seem to have lived somewhere in the Steppes stretching from southern Russia to Central Asia region around the Caspian Sea.
• Came to Indian they be called Indo-Aryans or Aryans.
• Forced by the shortage of food and fodder, many of them migrated to Europe, while many came into northwest India through the Hindu Kush Pass (Khyber Pass) in a series of waves around 1500 B.C. (Hindu Kush, great mountain system of Central Asia. 800 km long and 240 km wide.)

Aryans Settlement

• The early Vedic Aryans lived in the area known as sapta-sindhu meaning area of seven rivers.
• This area largely covers the north-western part of South Asia up to river Yamuna.
• The seven rivers included Sindhu, Vitasta (Jhelum), Asikni (Chenab), Parushni (Ravi), Vipash (Beas), Shutudri (Sutlej) and the Sarasvati.

Early Vedic Economy & Later Vedic Economy

Early Vedic Economy

• The early Vedic Aryans were pastoralists.
• Cattle rearing was their main occupation.
• They reared cattle, sheep, goats, and horses for purposes of milk, meat and hides.
• A wealthy person was known as gomat and the daughter called duhitri which means one who milks the cow.
• The cows were thought of as providers of everything. Prayers are offered for increase in the number of cattle.
• Cattle breeding was the most important economic activity of the Rigvedic Aryans.
• They had knowledge of agriculture. They had knowledge about small-scale cultivation. They produced yava (modern jau or barley).
• They were also engaged in many other economic activities. Hunting, carpentry, tanning, weaving, chariot-making, metal smeltry etc.
• Economic activities were exchanged through barter System.
• The priests received cows, horses and gold ornaments as fees for performing sacrifices.

Later Vedic Economy

• During later Vedic phase, agriculture became the mainstay of the Vedic people.
• Ploughing with yokes of six and eight oxen.

• This animal was extremely useful in ploughing the swampy land.
• The god Indra known as ‘Lord of the Plough’ in this period.
• Apart from barley, people now cultivated wheat, rice, pulses, lentils, millets, sugarcane etc.
• The items of dana and dakshina included cooked rice. Thus with the beginning of food production agricultural produce began to be offered in the rituals.
• Dakshina is repayment. Bhiksha is alms. Daan is charity.
• Tila, from which the first widely used vegetable food-oil was derived increasingly, came to be used in rituals.
• The Rigvedic people knew of a metal called ayas which was either copper or bronze.
• In the later Vedic literature shyama or krishna meaning black to denote iron.
• The northern and eastern parts of India to which the Aryans later migrated receive more rainfall than the north-western part of India.
• As a result, this region is covered with thick rain forests which could not be cleared by copper or stone tools used by Rigvedic people.
• The use of iron tools now helped people clear the dense rain forests.

Early Vedic age Society & Later Vedic age Society

Early Vedic Age Society

• The family was the basic unit of the Rigvedic society.
• It was patriarchal in nature Monogamy was the usual norm of marriage but the chiefs at times practiced polygamy.
• Marriages took place after attaining maturity.
• After marriage the wife went to her husband’s house.
• The family was part of a larger grouping called vis or clan.
• One or more than one clan made Jana or tribe.
• The Jana was the largest social unit.
• All the members of a clan were related to each other by blood relation.
• The membership of a tribe was based on birth and not on residence in a certain area.
• Occupation was not based on birth.
• Members of a family could adopt different occupations.
• There was no caste division.
• Varna or colour was the basis of initial differentiation between the Vedic (fair) and non-Vedic people (Dark).
• Thus the Rigveda mentions arya varna and dasa varna.
• Here dasa has been used in the sense of a group different from the Rigvedic people.
• Later, dasa came to mean a slave.
• Thus, the Rigveda mentions arya varna and dasa varna.

• The women in society enjoyed respectable position. Women enjoyed equal power with men.
• She was married at a proper age and could choose a husband of her own choice.
• She could take part in the proceedings of the tribal assemblies called sabha and samiti.

Types of Marriages

  1. Brahma – Marriage of duly dowered girl same class man.
  2. Daiva – Sacrificial Marriage by father to priest as his fees.
  3. Arsha – Token of bride price of a cow or bull was paid to a daughter by his father.
  4. Prajapatya – Without dowry and without bridal price.
  5. Gandharva – Clandestine marriage, by the consent of two parties.
  6. Asura – Marriage by Purchases.
  7. Rakshasa – Marriage by capture.
  8. Paishacha – Marriage involves the seduction of a girl.
  9. Anuloma – Higher varna Men to lower varna Women.
  10. Pratiloma – Lower varna men to Higher Varna Women.

Later Vedic Society

• The later Vedic family became large enough to be called a joint family with three or four generations living together.
• Communal feeding or for cooking the food of large families.
• Some restrictions on women appeared during this period. In another text, a daughter has been said to be the source of all sorrows.
• Women had to stay with her husband at his place after marriage.
• The participation of women in public meetings was restricted.
• Chariot Racing and Gambling is the main time pass activity.

Later Vedic Society Fourfold division

• Brahmins – (Priests)
• Kshatriyas – (Warriors)
• Vaishyas – (Farmer, Cattel rearing, and traders)
• Shudras – (Lower Class)


• The Vedas are the sacred books of the Aryans.
• The Vedas are the religious texts which inform the religion of Hinduism (also known as Sanatan Dharma meaning “Eternal Path”).
• Vedas were written in Vedic Sanskrit between 1500 and 600 BCE in the north western region the Indian Subcontinent.
• Veda is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge.
• Vedas are the oldest texts of Hinduism.
• The Vedas are a collection of hymn, prayers, charms, litanies and sacrificial formulae over the years.
• All of them together are attributed to as ‘Chaturveda.’
• The Rig Veda serves as the principal one.
• Veda is also known as Apaurusheya (अपौरुषेय, apauruṣeya) Means “not of a man”).
• Veda is Ved Vayash (Krishna Dvaipayana – कृष्णद्वैपायन)
• The word “Vyasa” refers to compiler or arranger of Vedas.
• It believed to have arranged the single eternal Veda into four parts — Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.

Rig Veda – It is a collection of hymns. These highlight the political, social, economic and religious conditions.
Sama Veda – It is a collection of songs.
Yajur Veda – It is a collection of sacrificial formulae religious rituals.
Atharva Veda – It is a collection of spells and charms against enemies, sorcerers, and diseases.
Each Veda has four subdivisions
• The Samhitas (mantras and benediction).
• The Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices).
• The Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices).
• The Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).

Rig Vega

• Rig “praise“ and Veda “knowledge“
• It is a collection of hymns.
• It explains the origin of the world, the power of the gods, and the art of living.
• Highlight the political, social, economic and religious conditions.
• The Rig Veda consist 10 Mandalas.
• It has about 1028 Suktas or hymns.
• The Rigveda Samhita contains about 10552 Mantras,
• Each Mandala is divided into several sections called Anuvakas.
• Each Anuvaka consists of a number of hymns called Suktas and each Sukta is made up of a number of verses called risk.

2 to 7 – oldest Mandala
8 and 9 – Mixed Mandala
1 and 10 – New Mandala

MandalaSuktas Or hymesMantras or risk or versesName Of Rishis
011912006Maducchanda, Medhatithi, Gotama And Many Others
0243429Gritasamada And His Family
0362617Vishvamitra And His Family
0458589Vamadeva And His Family
0587727Atri And His Family
0675765Bhardvaja And His Family
07104841Vashistha And His Family
081031716Kanva, Angira And Their Family
091141108Soma Devata But Different Rishis
101911754Vimada, Indra, Shachi And Many Other

• 3rd Mandala – Gayatri Mantra (dedicated to Savita means Sun)
• 7th Mandala – The Dussehra War or the Battle of the Ten Kings. (Fought at Parushini River – Present Name – Rabi River)
• On the one hand, puru tribe and his allied community were the advisors of rishi vishwamitra.
• On the other hand, there was a community called Bharat, led by King Sudas of a tribe called Trtsu, whose inspiration was Rishi Vashishta.
• Sudas’s won the war and became their right over the Aryans in the north Indian subcontinent. Later, the name of the entire country became ‘Bharat’.
• 9th Mandala – Soam Rash
• 10th Mandala – Varna were arranged into 4 parts (according to their Karma).
• (1. Brahmins – (Priests); 2. Kshatriyas – (Warriors) 3. Vaishyas – (Farmer, Cattel rearing, and traders) 4. Shudras – (Lower Class)

Varna Ashram – The estimated life was 0 to 100 years divided into 4 parts.
• 0 to 25 years – Brahmacarya
• 25 to 50 years – Grhastha
• 50 to 75 Years – Vanaprastha
• 75 to 100 Years – Sanyasa

Sama Veda

• Samaveda is the shortest of all the four Vedas.
• saman “song” and Veda “knowledge “.
• It is the Veda of melodies and chants based on Rig Veda.
• Sama Veda is dedicated to Savita means Sun.
• It consists of 1549 verses.

Yajur Veda

  • Only Veda which is divided in two parts that is Prose and Poetry or Poem.  
  • Dhanurveda regarded as an upaveda attached to Yajurveda.
  • The Yajurveda is broadly grouped into two – the “black” or “dark” (Krishna) Yajurveda and the “white” or “bright” (Shukla) Yajurveda. [The Shukla Yajurveda is called the Vajasaneyi Samhita.]
  • Elephant Rearing is mentioned in Yajur Veda.
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