Vedic Civilization

Hi readers, last week we have discussed Indus Valley Civilization, today we will take a tour to it’s  successor i.e. Vedic Civilization.

 

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Now, we are at a phase between 1500 BC – 600 BC.

So, let’s start exploring Vedic Civilization.  🙂 

Before heading further, keep in mind that it is called Vedic Civilization because Vedas (Scriptures of Hinduism) were composed in this period.

 

SOURCES OF VEDIC CULTURE

 

Our Vedic literature derived from two sources – Sruti and Smriti. Both will be explained by the way flow chart below.

 

Let’s start from “Sruti” – This literature has grown up from generation to generation by word of mouth. Hence it is called Shruti which means “to hear”. It comprises of 4 literary productions – Vedas, Brahamans, Aranyakas and Upanishads. These are explained as below:

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VEDAS or SAMHITAS

These are also known as Apaurasheya (God – gifted) and Nitya (existing in all eternity)

Types of Vedas final

Rig Veda + Sama Veda + Yajur Veda = Vedatrayi i.e. trio of Vedas

 

BRAHMANAS

The hymns of Vedas are explained in Brahmans. Brahma means “sacrifices”.  Every Veda has Brahmanas. Each Brahmana is attached to one of the four Vedas, as shown below:

Brahmanas final

 

ARANYAKAS

The term Aranyaka is derived from the word “Aranya” meaning “forest”.  These texts were written for the students living in Forests. Aranyakas are the concluding portion of Brahmanas.

 

UPANISHADS

The Upanishads are the collection of philosophical concepts of Hinduism. They are also known as “Vedanta” as they came towards the end of the Vedas.

  • Total Upanishads – 108
  • Oldest Upanishad – Brihadaranyaka
  • Phrase Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone triumphs) was originated from the Mundaka Upanishad.

 

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Now, we will revise “Smriti”

The Smriti text is comprised of 6 parts – Vedanga, Smriti, Mahakavyas (Epic), Puran, Upveda & Shad-Darshanas. These are explained as below:

 

VEDANGA – It is divided into 6 parts:

Parts of Vedanga final

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Rest 5 Smritis are briefed in the table below:

Smritis Final

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SOCIETY, ECONOMY & POLITY OF VEDIC CIVILIZATION

Let’s start with “Arynas”, the people of this civilization.

 

  • The homeland of the Aryans and their migration always remain a debatable topic. There are conflicting theories of different historians. But the most accepted theory is “Central Asia” as inscriptions proving this theory were discovered from Boghazkoi (Central Asia, Turkey), which had discussed 4 Vedic Gods. Indra, Varun, Mitra and Nasatya.
  • The Central Asian theory is given by Max Muller (European Indologist).
  • As per theory, between 2000 BC – 1500 BC, the Aryans were migrated from Central Asia to Sapta Sindhu. It was the name of Indus valley region, Punjab.

 

On the basis of the time period, Vedic civilization is divided into two parts:

  • Early Vedic (1500 BC – 1000 BC)
  • Later Vedic (1000 BC – 600 BC)
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EARLY VEDIC PERIOD

It is also called as Rig Vedic Period, because only Rig Ved was originated in this period.

 

Structure of Society

Structure of Society - Early Vedic final

  • Society was divided into 4 parts viz. Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra.

 

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Family Structure

  • Patriarchal – Male head of a family or tribe.
  • Monogamous – Single marriage
  • In Royal Family polygamy was more famous – More than one marriage

 

Working of Government

  • Monarchy and non-monarchical government
  • Top official – Purohita
  • Army Chief – Senani
  • Court of justice – Sabha

 

Occupation

  • It was not hereditary.
  • Mainly, Aryans were cattle rearers, after migration, they also became agriculturists.
  • With time, goldsmith, metal working, etc. were also added as an occupation.

 

Religion

  • Henotheism (believe in many Gods). There were nearly 33 Gods and were divided into 3 categories.
  • Prithvisthaniya (Terrestrial) – Prithvi, Agni, Soma, Brihaspati and Rivers
  • Antarikshasthaniya (Intermediate) – Indra, Rudra, Vayu-Vata, Parjanya
  • Dyusthaniya (Celestial) – Daus, Surya, Varuna, Aditi, Usha and Ashwin

 

Food

  • Milk and its product viz. Curd, butter and ghee.
  • Meat of fish, birds and animals.
  • Killing of the cow was prohibited.
  • Alcoholic drinks were Sura & Soma.

 

Evidences of Loans

  • Loan deed forms called rnapatra or rnalekhya were in use. It contained the details related to name of the debtor & creditor, amount of loan, rate of interest, condition of repayment and time of repayment.
  • Interest rates as well as usury were also prevalent in Vedic India.

 

Miscellaneous

  • There was no evidence of coins, barter system was there.
  • Coins and gold ornaments were the medium of exchange.
  • Cat, camel and tiger were not known to Vedic people.

 

LATER VEDIC PERIOD

In the later Vedic period, Aryans were spread over the whole north India. North India was named as “Aryavarta”. After that, their center of civilization was shifted from Saraswati river to Ganga river.

 

Society

  • Initiation of Gotra system (clan).
  • This period showed the reference to 4 ashrams viz. Brahmcharya, Girihastra, Vanprastha, Sanyasa. These were formed to attain Purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha)
  • Child marriage became popular.
  • Monogamy was ideal, but polygamy was frequent.
  • Woman status was declined and their political rights were also reduced.

 

Government

  • Emergence of Mahajanpada (large kingdoms)
  • Initiation of provincial government.
  • Royal Charioteer – Suta/Saarthi
  • Collector of Tax – Bhagadudha
  • Courier – Akshavapa

 

Religion

  • The Gods of the early Vedic period lost their importance and Gods viz. Prajapati, Vishnu and Rudra gained importance.
  • Brihadaranyaka Upnishad gave doctrine of transmigration (Punarjanma) and deeds (Karma).

 

Sacrifices

  • Laghuyajnas – Performed by households
  • Mahayajna – Performed by king and aristocratic families
  • Rajasuya – It lasts for a period of 1 year
  • Vajapeya – Period of 17 days to 1 year
  • Asvamedha – Horse sacrifice for 3 days
  • Agnishtoma – Animal sacrifices dedicated to fire for a period of 1 year

 

Miscellaneous

  • Cattle rearing was replaced by agriculture.
  • Rice, wheat, barley, beans, sesame was cultivated.
  • Trade – extensive internal and external trade
  • New occupations like washerman, fireman, dyers, doorkeepers & footman were introduced.
  • Knowledge of metals were there like tin, silver, iron and gold.

 

DECLINE OF VEDIC CULTURE

The terrible destruction of  Mahabharata War and the development of non-Vedic Jainism and Buddhist culture had fallen the power of this civilization.

 

 

With this we have completed Today’s topic. Hope you have learned today.

We will post Quiz on Vedic Civilization in Today’s Cracking Session

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